The History of Leith

April 27, 2012

St. John’s East Church

St. John’s East Church
We are greatly indebted to our learned Elder, Mr.
David Robertson, M.A., LL.B., for the following interesting
data regarding the origin and history of St.
John’s East Church. As is well known, Mr. Robertson
is one of the foremost authorities on the antiquities of
Edinburgh and Leith.
The first mention of St. John’s Church in the printed
Records of South Leith occurs under the date 18th
November 1773. It is mentioned there that the
founders of the new Church had addressed a letter to
the Kirk-Session formally intimating the fact that they
had erected a house for Divine Service and were resolved,
to adhere to the plan of doctrine and worship
contained in the Confession of Faith. “We intend to
petition the Reverend Presbytery of Edinburgh for
ministerial and Christian Communion, so hope we
shall have your approbation and concurrence.”
The Kirk-Session were aware that a new Church had
been built in the town, on a site not far from South
Leith. Both Churches were, in fact, in Constitution
Street, although that street had not then been formed.
The founders also had been prominent members in the
old Parish Church, but had found cause for dissatisfaction
over the appointment of the Rev. John Logan
as second Minister. Mr. Logan was one of the notable
Ministers of the town, and is credited with having
written some of the paraphrases. He seems to have
been possessed of considerable literary talent, and for a
time had a great reputation ; but as it turned out his
habits and temperament were unsuited to his profession,
and his career in Leith began and ended in
strife and litigation. The dispute over his appointment
led to a schism in South Leith, and the disaffected
parties, though few in numbers, were very practical
and endowed with the quality of perseverance. They
raised funds by voluntary effort within the congregation
and among the people of the town, and undertook
the building of the new Church which, in a way,
may be said to owe its origin to Mr. Logan.
The printed Records show that the Kirk-Session gave
a friendly reception to the letter from St. John’s.
Without any delay an arrangement was made, and in
due course the Presbytery granted authority to the new
congregation to call and have a settled Minister.
The Church has all along been fortunate in its
Ministers, and has exercised a beneficent influence in the
town. It may be permissible to refer to two names for
reasons which are pertinent to the present occasion.
The second Minister appointed to the new Church was
the Rev. John Colquhoun, D.D. He was born in the
parish of Luss and studied in the Universities of Glasgow
and Edinburgh. He was ordained in 1781 and died in
1827, in the eightieth year of his age and the fortyseventh
year of his ministry, and his burial-place is in
South Leith Churchyard. It is an interesting coincidence
that the Lord High Commissioner this year has been
Sir Iain Colquhoun of Luss.

source-Suth Leith Magazine 1932

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