Dr. Thomas Chalmers

1780 - 1847

Statue of Thomas Chalmers, George Street, Edinburgh
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Statue of Thomas Chalmers, George Street, Edinburgh

Founder of the Free Church of Scotland. Born in Anstruther Easter, the son of a merchant and ship-owner, Chalmers entered St Andrews University at the age of only eleven and was ordained as a minister at the age of just nineteen (in 1799)!

He studied at the University of Edinburgh for two years, before returning to St Andrews to lecture as an assistant to the Professor of Mathematics, while also preaching at Kilmany. In 1815, he took charge of the Tron Church in Glasgow (now the Tron Theatre) and argued strongly for new churches in the city, transferring to St John's when it was established by the town council in 1819.

However, he returned once again to St. Andrews as Professor of Moral Philosophy in 1823. Chalmers was a popular preacher and prolific writer on social welfare. He left St. Andrews to become Professor of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh (1828) and Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1832. His stance against patronage led to the Disruption in the Church of 1843, and Chalmers became the first Moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.

Thousands watched Chalmers' great funeral procession as it wound its way through the streets of Edinburgh, from Charlotte Square to his house in Church Hill and on to the Grange Cemetery where he lies buried.

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