Andrew Bonar's church

Andrew Bonar (1810-1892) was minister of Finnieston Free Church from 1856 until his death.  The building in Derby Steet (G3 7TY), just south of Kelvingrove Park, is now converted to residential use.  It is an impressive structure, built in the classical style with four ionic columns supporting the entrance.  Its very size and presence reflects the status and reputation Bonar in Glasgow in the late nineteenth century.   Above the door is Hebrew lettering with the reference Proverbs 11, 30, a verse traditionally translated as He that winneth souls is wise.  The use of Hebrew lettering reflects his interest in the Jewish people.

Bonar - preacher, writer and younger brother of hymnwriter Horatius - was a  leading figure in the Free Church of Scotland and a firm supporter of many evangelical projects throughout his life.  He was a close friend of Robert Murray M'Cheyne, and accompanied him on a visit to Palestine in 1839 to investigate the possibility of a Church of Scotland mission to the Jews.  But for M'Cheyne's tragically early death, their partnership might have had an even more significant legacy.  Bonar is buried at the Sighthill Cemetery (G21 1SA)



St George's Tron

St George's Tron Church in Buchanan Street (G1 2JX) was established in 1808.  From 1815 to 1823, the minister was Thomas Chalmers  (1789-1847), who had to face the challenge of tens of thousands of very poor parishioners drawn to the city in the early years of the industrial revolution.  Chalmers later moved to Edinburgh and was the leading figure in the Great Disruption, which established the Free Church of Scotland, principally over the right of congregations to appoint their own ministers, rather than accept those nominated by the local patron.

In the 20th century, the ministers included several leading Scottish evangelicals, including Eric Alexander and George Duncan.  In 2012, there was a division over certain ethical issues and a large section of the congregation left to establish Tron Church in Bath Street (G2 1HW).  When we called recently, the main body of the church was operating on weekdays as the Wild Olive Tree Cafe.  There appeared to be no reference to former ministers




Patrick Hamilton

The Hunterian Art Gallery (G12 8QQ), adjacent to the University of Glasgow, has the only known portrait of Patrick Hamilton (1504-1528), but it is not currently on display and any visitor wishing to see it would probably have to persuade the curators to locate and remove it from storage.

Hamilton, a cultured man from a noble family, studied at the University of Paris and also spent time in Germany, where he imbibed the doctrines of the Reformation.  When he returned to take up a position at the University of St Andrews, he was charged with heresy under Archbishop James Beaton.  After a summary trial, he was burned at the stake in St Andrews, becoming the first Scottish Protestant martyr.  It was the further persecution of Protestants by Beaton's nephew, Cardinal David Beaton, that caused the Scottish Reformation to break out in earnest a few years later.