Rare Book Monthly

Articles - October - 2003 Issue

The obituary of the Rev. Doctor David Murdoch

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Died


On the morning of Thursday, June 13, at the Parsonage on William-street, Elmira, Rev. David Murdoch, D.D., aged 60 years.

In the death of Dr. Murdoch not only his family and his church but the community has met with an irreparable loss. He had already lived a long and useful life, but until just now he has seemed to be in the full vigor of manhood, when suddenly and by his first sickness he has fallen.

Dr. Murdoch was born at Bonhill, near Glasgow, Scotland, in 1800. His father, as he was fond of saying, was a stone mason, but what are called “advantages” were of small account to him, and by that indomitable energy which has characterized him through his life he succeeded in obtaining a thorough and accomplished education at the University of Glasgow.

He studied theology under the celebrated Dr. Wardlaw, between whom and himself a life-long intimacy and correspondence continued. In his youth he caught the inspiration of his own eloquence from the preaching of Edward Irving and Dr. Chalmers – and no one familiar with Chalmer’s sermons and Dr. Murdoch’s preaching could fail to discover a similarity of style – a style, indeed, discernible in most of the pulpit eloquence of Scotland.

Dr. Murdoch commenced his professional labors at Cambusland, celebrated in Whitfield’s history. In 1832 he came to Canada under the auspices of the London Colonial Missionary Society, where he labored humbly but faithfully in the cause of his Master till the Patriot War of 1837, when, by the instincts which grow indigenous to the land of Bruce and on Scottish heather, and moved by the hereditary spirit of his clan, celebrated in Scottish history and poetry, he became in some way implicated with the troubles of the Colony and was compelled to remove to the States.

He was pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Ballston, Saratoga county, from 1837 to 1841, when he became pastor of the Reformed Dutch Church of Catskill. Here the majestic scenery of river and mountains awoke early memories, and though foreign born his heart was ever after alike native to the Highlands and the Caatskills. Here he laid the scene of his late book, “The Dutch Dominie of the Caatskills.”[sp]

In June 1851, he became pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Elmira. In December last he became pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church of Elmira, which at its organization is said in point of numbers to have been the second church in the Presbytery.

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