The History of Leith

July 30, 2004

The stories of “Sanders”

The Beadle Alexander Bain could tell many interesting stories of the early days of the Junction Road Congregation. Like how they sat on rough deal boards set up on trestles in the “laft” of the Church along with the other worshippers when the building was newly opened, that portion not being finished.

These were the days when Stephenson had first invented his locomotive engine and was building one that was to run on the new railing between Manchester and Liverpool at the great speed of twelve miles per hour.

Sanders was fond of telling how about that time, Mr Airth brought to the Church one evening a model locomotive which he had made to show it to the elders and to try it in one of the passages. The little engine got away from them in the dark and when they found it Mr Bernard “the good old elder” put a candle in the funnel so that they might not lose it again. With the result that candle grease ran down and was found all along the new flagstones when daylight came.

Sanders was a typical Beadle of the old school most punctual and particular in all his duties regularly taking up “the book” at the appointed time for public worship and diligently waiting upon Mr Muir ever reading with his “What’s your wull, sir?” and his open snuff box.

One of the duties of the Beadle in those days was to go before the minister on his pastoral visitations and older members of the congregation (prior to 1896) could remember well how the quaint old man would look in at the door dressed with his stick and tall hat and his Sunday suit “He’ll be here then noo!” and then hurry on to his next call. But his most particular duty was to help with the baptism of children.

He would first arrange the children in the Session house taking the boys first and then the girls in order of age. He would then during the singing of the psalm before baptism the mothers would be marched into the Church.

Sanders had the firm belief that if the lassies were baptised before the ladies the lassies would have beards and the ladies none. One day he was sorely tried in this respect. The men were all standing and he mother of the male child wasn’t there and was going to miss her turn. The doorkeeper Jenny Morrison understood the situation dashed out and got the mother in just in time. However sanders seen her and shouted” come awa wuman or yer laddie’ll lose his beard. Fortunately the lady was in time and the laddie later developed a magnificent beard

Some Text