Finlayson, Thomas (DNB00)

FINLAYSON, THOMAS (1809–1872), united presbyterian minister, second son of Thomas Finlayson, a farmer, was born at Coldoch, Blair Drummond, Perthshire, 22 Dec. 1809. He received his elementary education at the parish school of Kincardine in Menteith, and preparatory to entering college engaged in a special study of the classics at a school in the village of Doune in Kilmadock parish. At the university of Glasgow and at the theological hall of the united secession church he went through the usual course of training, and was licensed as a preacher of the gospel in April 1835 by the presbytery of Stirling and Falkirk. Part of his period of study was spent in teaching a school at Dumbarton, where he formed a friendship with the Rev. Dr. Andrew Somerville, who afterwards became the secretary of the foreign mission of the united presbyterian church. In November 1835 Finlayson was ordained minister of the Union Street congregation, Greenock, where he founded a missionary society, and in two years persuaded his people to pay off the large debt existing on the church. After twelve years of admirable ministerial work in Greenock he was called to be colleague and successor to the Rev. John m'Gilchrist of Rose Street Church, Edinburgh, and, having accepted the call, was inducted to the ministry there in September 1847. The congregation to which he now became minister was one of very few churches which at that time set an example and gave a tone to the whole church. They at once attached themselves to their new minister. He was elected moderator of the supreme court of his church in 1867, and shortly afterwards received the degree of D.D. from the university of Edinburgh. As one of the most ardent promoters of the manse fund, he was the chief agent in raising 45,000l., which led to the spending of 120,000l. in building and improving manses in two hundred localities. In the management of the augmentation fund he also took a deep interest. As a preacher he excelled in distinct and powerful exhibition of the truth; whatever he had to say came fresh from his own independent thought, went straight to the heart of the subject, and made an immediate impression on his hearers. The untimely death in 1868 of his eldest son Thomas, a promising advocate at the Scottish bar, caused him intense grief, from which he never fully recovered. On 7 Oct. 1872 his congregation celebrated the semi-jubilee of his ministry in Edinburgh. Having gone to Campbeltown to take part in an induction service there, he was suddenly attacked with failure of the heart's action, and was found dead in his bed on 17 Oct. 1872. He was buried in the Grange cemetery, Edinburgh, on 22 Oct. He married, in 1836, Miss Chrystal, by whom he had six children.

[Memorials of the Rev. Thomas Finlayson, D.D., 1873, with portrait; John Smith's Our Scottish Clergy, 1849, 2nd ser. pp. 295–301.]

G. C. B.