Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gunn, Daniel

759416Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 23 — Gunn, Daniel1890Edwin Cannan

GUNN, DANIEL (1774–1848), congregational minister, born at Wick in Caithness in 1774, was educated at the high school, Edinburgh, and trained for the ministry by Greville Ewing at Glasgow. After being itinerant minister in Ireland for six years he became in 1810 pastor of a small congregation at Ilfracombe. He removed in 1813 to Bishop's Hull, in 1814 to Chard, and in 1816 to Christchurch, Hampshire. Here he found a scanty congregation, partly consisting of baptists. He promptly preached a sermon which, as he afterwards said, 'converted all the sensible baptists in the place,' and his congregation soon grew till it numbered a thousand, an extraordinary fact, considering that the whole population of Christchurch and the district within five or six miles was only about 2,500. Yet his preaching was entirely unemotional; no one was allowed to preach emotional religion in his pulpit, and the laymen whom he used to despatch into the neighbouring villages were strictly enjoined to abstain from adding anything to the printed discourses with which he provided them. His Sunday school, which was attended by upwards of four hundred children, attained a very high reputation, and attracted visitors from all parts of the country, even from America. He was almost equally successful in maintaining a day school which he established, and regulated with military precision.

Ann Taylor [see Gilbert, Ann], who met him at Ilfracombe, tells of his laboriously teaching a lad how to hand a chair; he would pitilessly call back a little boy on an unmanageable pony to make him take off his hat to Mrs. Gunn if he had omitted to do so. Yet his personal influence was extraordinary. Even in the matter of subscriptions his will was law; if the collection on Sunday was not what he considered sufficient, he would put in a five-pound note, and send the plates round again. Ann Taylor's enthusiasm for 'the noble highlander' seems to have been shared by all who met him. He was three times married, and lived like a country gentleman at Burton, near Christchurch. He died at Burton on 17 June 1848, in the seventy-fifth year of his age.

[Congregationalist for February 1881; Report (dated July 1830) by Henry Althaus on the Constitution and Order of Christchurch Sunday School, reprinted from the Sunday School Teachers' Magazine; Three Scriptural Lessons, with Observations as to the Mode of Teaching adopted by the Rev. D. Gunn, and Specimens of the Lessons taught by him, 1855; Mrs. Gilbert's Autobiography, i. 250, 251, 258-60; private information.]

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