Invitation to Rev. William Dobbie (1881-1946) to take up the post at Castle Hill United Free Church, Forres, Scotland

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

There are some 300 names on the invitation - subscribers to the Church - which is written on a number of paper pages joined into one long roll several feet long (a conservator's nightmare). The roll is contained in black leather covered tube with gilt blocked title and date.

The blocked title states: 'Call / to the Rev. William Dobbie / by Castlehill United Free Church / Forres / August 6th 1907

Administrative / Biographical History

This collection is composed simply of an invitation - dated 6 August 1907 - from the elders, managers and members of the congregation to the Rev. William Dobbie to take up the post of Pastor at Castle Hill United Free Church in Forres, Moray, Scotland. William Dobbie was born on 21 May 1881 in Ayr. He attended Ayr Academy and studied at Glasgow University. He was licensed by the Presbytery of Ayr in May 1906, and assisted at Glasgow Camphill until 1907 when he was ordained and inducted at Castle Hill U. F. Church in Forres, 20 September 1907. Dobbie married Jean Fulton Hamilton on 25 April 1911. In 1914 he translated to Glasgow Govanhill and then did war service with the YMCA in France in 1916. In 1921 he translated to Lanark Cairns. The Rev. William Dobbie died on 30 April 1946.

For the origins of Castlehill U. F. Church, we have to look at events of 1733 when the First (or original) Secession saw members leave the Church of Scotland as a protest against the system of Patronage, by which a minister was appointed to a congregation on presentation by a landowner. A congregation was founded in 1768, when a group in Forres joined the Secession Movement. The first church was built at the north end of Batchen Street, Forres. It had various names over time: United Secession; United Presbyterian; and, United Free. The foundation stone of the Castlehill Church was laid on September 22, 1870, and it was opened and dedicated on November 26, 1871, with building costs of £3,000.

In 1900, the United Presbyterian and the Free Churches united to form the United Free Church of Scotland. This meant that there were two U.F. Churches in Forres, and each had to take a distinctive name. It was at that point that it was named Castlehill, from the site on which it stood, and the other became the High Church. In 1902 the Town Council presented the freedom of the burgh to Lord Strathcona in Castlehill Church. In 1903 James MacDougall Black became the minister and remained until 1907. Dr Black was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for the year 1938-1939.

Two outbreaks of dry-rot, in 1902 and in 1946, meant that extensive and expensive work was necessary, and this was paid for by the congregation and by generous donations from Lord and Lady Strathcona and Andrew Carnegie.

When the Rev. David Leslie Scott, Minister of Forres Castlehill Church, retired on 30 June 1972 the church was closed and the charge united with Forres High Church under the name of Forres St Leonard’s. The former Castlehill Church was sold to the Forres Parish Church of St. Laurence and became its church halls. After a protracted period of refurbishment, it was eventually opened and dedicated on September 5, 1976. Dry-rot however can never be eradicated completely and some thirty years after the last repair the rot had reached such as state that it became beyond the economic means of the congregation of the Parish Church of St. Laurence. The building was finally sold on 30 June 2006, which was 34-years after the building was closed as a church.

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Acquisition Information

Accession no: E2008.21

Note

The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following: (1) Boyd, Rev. Barry J. Minister of the Forres Parish Church of St. Laurence. 'A sad farewell to Castlehill', Forres Gazette, 28 June 2006 [Online]. (2) Lamb, John Alexander The fasti of the United Free Church of Scotland 1900-1929. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1956. (3) Lamb, John Alexander (ed.). Fasti ecclesiae Scoticanae. Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1961.

Other Finding Aids

None created for this collection.

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie, Special Collections, Edinburgh University Library