The History of Leith

October 10, 2011

Dr. Johnston

The last minister who officiated in the Church of St. Ninian—now degraded to a granary or store (now offices) —was the venerable Dr. Johnston, the joint founder of the Edinburgh Blind Asylum, who held the incumbency for more than half a century. The old edifice had become unsuited to modern requirements; thus the foundation of a new parish church for North Leith had been completed elsewhere in 1816, and on the 25th of August in that year he took a very affecting leave of the old parish church in which he had officiated so long. ” He expressed sentiments of warm attachment to a flock among -which Providence had so long permitted him to minister,” says the Scots Magazine (Vol. LXXVIL); “and in alluding, with much feeling, to his own advanced age, mentioned his entire sensibility of the approach of that period when the speaker and the hearer should no longer dwell together, and hoped they should ultimately rejoice in ‘ a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.'”
Before ten a.m. on the ist September a great crowd collected before the door of the new church, which was speedily filled. All corporate bodies having an interest in it, including the magistrates of the Canongate, were present, and Dr. Johnston, after reading the 6th chapter of 2 Chronicles, delivered a sermon and solemn address, which affected all who heard it. The Rev. David Johnston, D.D., died on the 5th of July, 1824, aged ninety-one years. Four years after, the Courant had the following announcement:—” The public are aware of the many claims which the late Dr. Johnston of North Leith had on the grateful remembrance of the community. Few men have exerted themselves so assiduously in forwarding the great objects of religion and philanthropy, and it gives us much pleasure to learn that a well-merited tribute to his memory has just been completed in the erection of a beautiful bust in the church of North Leith.

Source-Old and New Edinburgh

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