Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/King, David

KING, DAVID, LL.D. (1806–1883), Scottish divine, son of John King (1762–1827), pastor of the second united associate church in Montrose, by his wife Eliza, daughter of Mr. Young, a Montrose merchant, was born in Montrose on 20 May 1806. His ancestors had been tenants of Giffen Mill, near Beith, for several generations. King began his education in the high school of Montrose, and matriculated at Aberdeen University in 1820, but after a year was transferred by his parents to Edinburgh University. Here he became a good classical scholar and showed a taste for science. Having completed his arts course at Edinburgh, he removed to Glasgow to study theology under John Dick [q. v.] of the secession church. He was licensed as a probationer by the presbytery of Edinburgh. On 13 Jan. 1830 he became minister of the first united secession church of Dalkeith, and after the death of Dr. Dick he removed to Greyfriars secession church, Glasgow, 15 Oct. 1833. At Glasgow he displayed marked organising power and enthusiasm. He began a systematic series of missions to the poor; was the first to establish homes for poor boys there; and set up classes for the instruction of young men in both sacred and secular subjects. The first foreign mission to Trinidad connected with the secession church was originated by him, and was supported during the early years of its existence principally through his exertions. His refined and sympathetic style of preaching was especially attractive to young men, and students of all denominations attended his ministry in Greyfriars. He took a determined position in favour of the disestablishment of the church, and was associated with Lord Brougham, O'Connell, and other leaders of the time in the anti-slavery movement of 1838. The university of Glasgow conferred the degree of LL.D. upon him in 1840. He took an active part in the foundation of the Evangelical Alliance in 1845, and attended many of the annual conferences held in various parts of Europe. He helped to bring about the union of the secession and relief churches in 1847 to form the united presbyterian church. In 1848 his health gave way, and he employed his enforced leisure in visiting Jamaica and making a tour through the United States, returning to Scotland in the following year. Until 1853 he continued actively engaged in the multifarious schemes connected with his denomination. Illness compelled him to resign his position at Greyfriars Church 12 Feb. 1855. He retired to Kilcreggan in the Firth of Clyde, and in 1860 removed to London. Having settled at Bayswater, he founded a presbyterian congregation there, and laboured in this quarter, amid many discouragements, till 1869. He still preserved his connection with the united presbyterian church in Scotland, and was chosen moderator of the synod of that body in 1863, taking a prominent share in the movement (1863–73) for the union of the free church of Scotland, the reformed presbyterian church, the united presbyterian church, and the presbyterian church in England. Though this union was only partially realised, King's attitude helped to promote conciliatory feeling. In March 1869 he accepted a call to the small congregation of Morningside, near Edinburgh, but in February 1873 he was forced to resign all ministerial work. He died, after much travel in search of health, in London on 20 Dec. 1883.

King's popularity as a preacher overshadowed his reputation as a writer, though the few books which he wrote were very successful. His principal works were: 1. ‘The Ruling Eldership,’ 1845, which went through three editions. 2. ‘The Lord's Supper,’ 1846. 3. ‘Geology and Religion,’ 1849, an attempt at a reconciliation of the scriptural and scientific accounts of the creation, of which five editions were published. 4. ‘The State and Prospects of Jamaica,’ 1850. A volume of his sermons was published posthumously in 1885, with a memoir of him written by his widow, the daughter of Professor James Thomson and sister of Sir William Thomson of Glasgow University.

[Memoir as above.]

A. H. M.