Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Haldane, Robert (1772-1854)

HALDANE, ROBERT (1772–1854), divine, was the son of a farmer at Overtown, Lecropt, on the borders of Perthshire and Stirlingshire, and was named after Robert Haldane, then proprietor of Airthrey. He was educated at the school of Dunblane, and afterwards at Glasgow University. He then became private tutor, first in the family at Leddriegreen, Strathblane, and at a later date in that of Colonel Charles Moray of Abercairnie. On 5 Dec. 1797 he was licensed as a preacher by the presbytery of Auchterarder, but did not obtain a charge until August 1806, when he was presented to the church of Drummelzier, in the presbytery of Peebles, and was ordained on 19 March 1807. He had won some distinction as a mathematician, and when the chair of mathematics became vacant in the university of St. Andrews in 1807 he was appointed to the professorship, and resigned his charge at Drummelzier on 2 Oct. 1809. He remained in this post till 1820, when he was promoted by the crown to the pastoral charge of St. Andrews parish, vacant by the death of Principal George Hill, D.D. His predecessor had held the principalship of St. Mary's College in St. Andrews in conjunction with his ministerial office, and the same arrangement was followed in the case of Haldane, who was admitted on 28 Sept. 1820. With the office of principal was joined that of primarius professor of divinity, and Haldane exhibited conspicuous ability, both as a theologian and an administrator.

On 17 May 1827 Haldane was elected moderator of the general assembly of the church of Scotland. His early years had been spent among the dissenters, but throughout his career he adhered consistently to the established church, and upon the disruption of 1843 Haldane was called to the chair ad interim, and did much to allay the excitement at the time. To his evangelicalism and popularity as a preacher is attributed the fact that comparatively few among his parishioners left the established church at the disruption. Earnest and affectionate in his manner he was not only admired as a preacher, but he also commanded in a high degree the attention of his pupils in his academical lessons. He was regarded as an accomplished scholar and a sound theologian. His scientific attainments were also considerable, and he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh some time before his death. He died at St. Mary's College, St. Andrews, on 9 March 1854, being then in his eighty-third year, and was buried in the cathedral cemetery there. His portrait is preserved in the hall of the university library at St. Andrews. He was succeeded by the Rev. John Tulloch [q. v.]

Haldane's only publication was a small work relating to the condition of the poor in St. Andrews, and a reply to strictures upon his arguments (Cupar, 1841).

[Scott's Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ, i. 239, ii. 393; Conolly's Eminent Men of Fife, p. 209; Scots Mag. 1806 p. 725, 1807 p. 635, 1820 pt. ii. p. 471; Dundee Advertiser, 10, 17, and 21 March 1854; private information.]

A. H. M.