5236: Rev Robert Finlayson

Robert (1793-1861) was the son of Robert Finlayson and Margaret Gunn of Clyth, Caithness.

He went to college in Aberdeen and became a Minister known as 'Finlayson of Prayer'. When he finished college he became a tutor to a family in Caithness but contacted smallpox and went blind for 18 days. In 1826 he was licensed by the Presbytery of Caithness and he was in Aberdeen Gaelic Church until his call to Knock, Point in 1829 where he laboured for two years. In 1831 he was presented by the Crown through the influence of Lady Stuart Mackenzie to the Parish of Lochs. Rev Alexander Macleod of Uig preached at the ordination.

The degree to which his person and preaching was received by his parishioners is well documented by Rev Norman Macfarlane:

The church and manse were at Keose. How sacred these buildings became in the eyes of Lochsmen. Their very dust became precious; stormy seas were crossed and dreary miles  were traversed by souls eager for regaling. There was no drowsiness of sleeping while this prophet of the Heavenlies spoke of the things of God. If ever there was a man who played in a worthy way the Pied Piper to his parish, it was Robert Finlayson. From its every corner, he charmed to his following both old and middle-aged and the young toppled over each other in their rush to reach him. The dreary drab of their former church life was a foil against which Mr Finlayson's preaching burned with the glories of the sunset.

On the 28th of June 1831 he married Lily Macaulay from Linshader, Uig and the couple had five children. Their two sons: Donald, aged 16, and Robert, aged 13, died in a boating accident in Loch Erisort on 19 July 1849.

On 24 May 1843, Rev Finlayson was no longer declared a minister of the Established Church as he had joined in the Free Secession and signed the Deed of Demission. On the Sabbath after the Disruption, he and the congregation left the old church and worshipped in the open air for two years until a new Church and Manse could be built in Crossbost. Robert remained in Crossbost until he moved to Helmsdale in 1856. Despite all the difficulties he had to endure, he never regretted the course he had taken.

Many accounts of Robert Finlayson's life have been written, most notably, 'Apostles of the North by Rev Murdo Macfarlane. Rev Finlayson was baptized by Rev John Robertson who reportedly told Robert's mother "Mrs Finlayson, I assure you this is none other than a Samuel from the Lord. He is to be reared for the temple service".




Record Type:
Date Of Birth:
28 Feb 1793
Date of Death:
23 Jul 1861
Brothers Keeper Reference:
CECL 2851
Record Maintained by:

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Reverend Robert Finlayson

Reverend Robert Finlayson