Days 7 – 9: Research in the Dundee Archive, and Visiting the grave of John Glas.

IMG_7002Hello Everyone:

I’ve spent the last three days working 8 hours days in the archive at the University of Dundee.  In the three days that I have been there, I have photographed well over 2,000 pages of documents relating to the Glasite/Sandemanian Churches.  It has been in many ways exhausting work, standing up, then sitting down,  bending over documents, strategically placing leather and cloth weights on pages to keep them down while trying to obstruct as little of the text as possible.

Almost all of the documents in the Dundee archives are handwritten, and many are hard to decipher.  Additionally, almost all of the documents are unpublished, which means that under U.K. copyright laws, I can make a copy for research, but I cannot provide these copies to others.  That means that the documents that I am obtaining at Dundee will not be available via the Glasite Digital Archive.  This is a shame, but a legal necessity. However, since I am able to make copies of the documents and bring them with me, it means that I can do research in the more comfortable confines of my own home or the library using digital copies of the text.  I already see the potential for several articles from the data that I have collected.  I am also spending tomorrow in the archive, continuing to take photos and document texts and artifacts.

There are so many different items related to the Glasites in the archive that it is utterly impossible for me to capture them all in the short time I have here in Dundee. I am categorically skipping items from the mid to late 20th Century, and focusing on the 1700 – 1800’s.  I had to make the decision early as well to skip many of the sermon and exhortation books, in favor of actual records, letter collections, and written manuscript collections.  There remains a large treasure trove of sermon and exhortation texts that were meticulously recorded by members of the congregations using shorthand, and then written out in long hand.  The theological content of these documents is rich, but I just don’t have the time.  They will have to wait until I can return, or until another researcher comes to comb them for content.

One insight that I have gained from this is that the Glasites were sticklers for record keeping.  The archive has, I believe, about 100 service books, recording the bible verses read, members missing from services, and visitors from other congregations for every week of a given year.  I’ve photographed a couple of books that consistently note visitors from other congregations, because, as a case of disfellowship against the famous Glasite scientist Michael Faraday shows, the Glasites did not tolerate members missing worship.

John Glas002Also, today, I visited the grave of John Glas.  Glas is buried in the Howff Cemetery, which is the middle of downtown Dundee.  I have read about Glas since I was 15 years old, which makes twenty years of reading about, wondering about, and being curious John Glas this year.  It was surreal to finally be able to visit his grave and walk in the areas that he trod.

Stay tuned for some discoveries from the archive that I’ll post later.



Day Six: Finding the Grave of Robert Haldane, and Exploring the Glasgow Necropolis

GlasgowCathHello all:

I visited the grave of Robert Haldane, who is buried, quite interestingly, inside the building of the Glasgow Cathedral. I say interestingly, because as independent congregationalists, both of the Haldanes rejected the state Presbyterian Church. Why would Robert Haldane be buried in the largest symbol of Scottish Presbyterianism in Glasgow, right under the shadow of a huge monument to John Knox, the man who brought the reformation—and Presbyterianism—to Scotland?

I don’t have an answer yet, but there is some evidence to start hypothesizing (or really, just jumping to some conclusions). Robert is buried in the tomb of his wife’s parents. According to a narrative I have read, he died in Edinburgh, where he and his brother were collaborating in church building, and he was buried the very next day in the Glasgow Cathedral. Robert’s in-laws were wealthy town-folk in Glasgow. His father-in-law was an attorney and merchant in the city, living in a fine estate. In contrast, Robert and his brother James had been wealthy. The brothers sold their Castle, called Gleneagles, used some of the money to fund their ministry, and gave the rest to the poor. Robert’s father-in-law, by contrast, kept his estate, his money, and had enough status, prestige, and money to purchase his entire family tombs in the Glasgow Cathedral. So, when Robert died, the family did what was easily and immediately available: they buried Robert in a place he would have never wished to be…..let alone en tombed.

Robert is buried in the floor of the Cathedral, near the stairs that take the viewer down to Saint Mungo’s tomb. Some of the family graves are marked G.O. with a number next to it. Robert’s tomb, however, is walked upon so frequently that the letters and numbering have completely warn off. Nothing is left to mark his tomb. To find his grave, you must locate the graves of family members and then count the stones to determine where he lies.

After visiting the Cathedral, I took a trip up to the Glasgow Necropolis – The Glasgow City of the Dead. The first monument in the Necropolis was a statue at the top of a large hill commemorating the death of John Knox, the reformer of Scotland. Ironically, Knox is buried in Edinburgh, not Glasgow. After Knox, others started placing their graves, along with their gaudy headstones and mausoleums, near by. In the Victorian era, the Necropolis took off as the “in” place to be buried. The architecture of the area is amazing. I had to think about the Necropolis eschatologically, however. The City of the Dead is beautiful, if not a big creepy, in its own way. I had to wonder what the Earth will look like without all of these huge monuments to human beings. What will Earth be like when the only monument that exists is one to the Living God, the New Jerusalem come down from heaven so that God may dwell with God’s people? I long to know, and so does Robert Haldane and John Knox.



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Inside Glasgow Cathedral, looking at the tomb of Robert Haldane:

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The Necropolis and Scenes of the Outside of the Glasgow Cathedral:

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Day Five: Visiting Greville Ewing’s Grave, and the University of Glasgow.

Hello Everyone,

I arrived in Glasgow this afternoon after taking the ferry and the train from Belfast.  After arriving in the city, I made two visits, one to the grave of Greville Ewing, a Haldanite preacher in Glasgow that had a major impact on the thought of Alexander Campbell, and the University of Glasgow, where both Thomas and Alexander Campbell attending University. I found the masoleum to be in disrepair, with graffiti on it and trees growing up around it.  In addition, the general cemetery, which is owned by the City of Glasgow, is in general disrepair. Greville Ewing was a Haldanite minister who preached and ran a seminary in Glasgow.  When Alexander Campbell was shipwrecked off the coast of Ireland in 1808 and then crossed the channel into Scotlqand, it was Ewing who helped Campbell get enrolled at the University of Glasgow.  Campbell spent quite a bit of time in Ewing’s home, and visited his church often, experiencing weekly communion.  Additionally, Ewing created an immediate link between the Glasites and Campbell.  Ewing required all of his students to read the works of John Glas and Robert Sandeman, and we know that Campbell read their works and were familiar with their theology. Ewing broke away from the Haldanes, however, over baptism by immersion.  The Haldanes eventually embraced believers baptism by immersion, but Ewing, who had come out of the Presbyterian Church, could not agree to give up infant baptism, and eventually he broke ranks with the Haldanes. Between 1808 and 1809, Alexander Campbell attended the University of Glasgow, like his father.  Alexander was heavily influenced by the Scottish Philosophy that he learned at Glasgow, that included heavy doses of Scottish Common Sense Realism, the school of which was founded by Thomas Reid.  Common Sense Realism heavily influenced how Campbell, and later, his followers in the faith, read the bible. Later, many other conservative, evangelical Christians, were influenced by Common Sense Realism, to the point that Mark Noll has declared a knowledge of Common Sense Realism as a requirement for fully understanding evangelicals.  However, among the rest of the world that is not evangelical, Common Sense Realism has largely been rejected.  The discipline of Anthropology, for instance, has termed Common Sense Realism as “Naive Realism,” and lays the phenomenon of ethnocentrism directly at the feet of Common Sense Realism. Pictures from the mausoleum of Greville Ewing: Mausoleum 18 Mausoleum 17 Mausoleum 16 Mausoleum 15 Mausoleum 14 Mausoleum 13 Mausoleum 12 Mausoleum 11 Mausoleum 10 Mausoleum 9 Mausoleum 8 Mausoleum 7 Mausoleum 6 Wilson Wislon Mausoleum 5 Mausoleum 4 Mausoleum 3 Mausoleum 2 Mausoleum 1 Glasgow City Council Land Services Sign Eastwood Old Cemetery Rule Sign                                         Photos from Glasgow University:   IMG_3804 IMG_3803 IMG_3802 IMG_3800 IMG_3799 IMG_3797 IMG_3796         IMG_3793 IMG_3792 IMG_3791 IMG_3784 IMG_3777



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Days Three and Four: Exploring Dublin and Belfast, and thinking about the Campbell’s and Glasites as Colonizers

View of Belfast 1789, Lawson's MapHello all: Days three and four have been slow ones on the research front.  Since I am traveling by train, there are Glasite and Stone-Campbell sites that I could visit that are outside the cities that I just can’t reach without a car.  So, I’ve been unable to check those areas.  Instead, I spent some time exploring Dublin, and yesterday, Saturday, I transited between Dublin and Belfast on the train.  I’ve also taken some time to read and think about Thomas and Alexander Campbell and the role they played as Scotch-Irish settlers in Ulster. Ireland was a colonized area, and it required military force to keep the island a British possession.  The area of Ulster, particularly, was taken over by the British as a settlement.  Starting with the Irish Rebellion of 1798, there were four sustained uprising against British rule by the Irish between then and when Alexander Campbell left Ireland in October of 1808.  Thomas, Alexander, and their family then, as Scotsmen, were foreign colonizers, and Thomas, as a Protestant Presbyterian clergyman in a predominately Catholic nation, was an important part of the dominating English establishment.  As far as I am aware, no research has focused upon Thomas and Alexander as colonizers.  The same could be said of those Glasites who spread the faith from Scotland to Ireland as well.  Of course, the Campbell’s and those Scottish Glasites who went to Ireland did not see themselves as colonizers, but as missionaries, or as simple ministers of the Gospel traveling to Ireland to feed the flocks that were already there.  I wonder, however, what we can learn about both our own movement, and the lives and work of those who transplanted their faith and work from one area to another, in part, as a way to defend and expand an empire.


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Day Two: Dublin, Searching for John Walker

TrinityCollegeHello all:

I arrived in Dublin around 11am GMT this morning.   I visited Trinity College today, there the Reverend John Walker had been a fellow.  Walker had been a member and minister of the established Church of Ireland, but then converted to Sandemanianism.  Upon his conversion, he was expelled by Trinity College.  Walker founded several Sandemanian congregations in Ireland, which often went by the name of Walkerites or Separatists.

I’ve been attempting to locate Walkerite meeting houses in the Dublin area, but unfortunately they all appear to have been torn down.

The collected works of Walker were published shortly after his death in 1838. Volume 1 and Volume 2, along with a separate index, can be found at the Glasite Digital Archive.


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Day One: Flying from Nashville to Dublin via Toronto

dublinHello Everyone:

I am flying from Nashville to Toronto today on Air Canada Flight 8032, departing at 6:50pm Central Time.  I will arrive in Toronto, Canada, at 9:40pm Eastern.

I then depart from Toronto to Dublin at 11:10pm Eastern, and will arrive in Dublin at 10:40am GMT.

I will be updating this blog post throughout the day.  Stay tuned.




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Travel Preperation

Preparing to Leave

christadelphian-largeHello Everyone:

Finals are done and over with here at Vanderbilt, and I am working on getting ready to leave for the trip.  As the time grows closer and closer to departing, I am finding more and more things that I could research while I’m in Ireland and the United Kingdom.  A colleague from the U.K. recently emailed me a short reading list on the Churches of Christ in the U.K.  I am not surprised that there is some literature, but even the short list that he sent me was substantially more than I had assumed existed.

I wrote a paper this term on the prison experiences of conscientious objectors during World War I.  During my research for this paper, I came across the memoirs of a British C.O. who was a member of the Old Paths Churches of Christ, as well as the memoirs of a Canadian C.O. who was a Christadelphian. Using that source, I was able to locate a book full of primary sources on pacifism within the Christadelphians during World War I. Whats more, while researching a paper for Sociology of Religion, I came across an ethnography of the Christadelphians in the United Kingdom, where the author analyzed the group in terms of Church-Sect typology.  While I have had an interest in the Christadelphians for some time, these resources are sparking a greater interest.

Unfortunately, I only have a short period of time in the country to do research.  After learning more about the rich history of the Stone-Campbell Movement and its off-shoots in the U.K. and Ireland, I am realizing that this will simply need to be the first of several research trips to the area.

Please stay tuned to the blog as we draw closer to May 7.  Once the trip starts, I will be posting updates at least once a day, and hopefully more often. I encourage you to follow me on my journey!  I would love to hear your thoughts about what you read, the pictures I take, and the finds that I come across while I am in the U.K.



My Itinerary







My Itinerary for my research trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom:

May 7  W        Flight from BNA to Dublin, Ireland

May 8  Th       Visit to Glasite and Stone-Campbell Movement sites in the Dublin Area.

May 9  F          Archival work in Dublin.

May 10 Sat    Travel to Belfast, Northern Ireland, via train.  Visit Glasite and Stone-Campbell Movement sites in Belfast area.

May 11 Sun   Travel to Glasgow, Scotland via Ferry. Visit significant sites in Stone-Campbell Movement History in Glasgow, including Alexander Campbell’s home, the University of Glasgow, and Haldanite and Glasite Church sites.

May 12 M       Continue to tour Glasite and Stone-Campbell locations.

May 13 T        Travel to Dundee, Scotland, via train (1h30m).  Archival Research at University of Dundee.

May 14 W       Archival Research at University of Dundee.

May 15 Th      Visit Glasite sites in Dundee.

May 16 F        Archival Research at U of D.  Travel to Edinburgh, Scotland via train.

May 17 Sat    Visit Glasite and Haldanite sites in Edinburgh.

May 18 Sun   Travel to Cardiff, Wales via train.  Visit Sandemanian locations.

May 19 M       Visit Sandemanian locations.  Travel to London, England via train.

May 20 T        Visit Stone-Campbell and Sandemanian locations in the London Area.

May 21 W       Visit Stone-Campbell and Sandemanian locations in the London Area.

May 22 TH     Conduct Archival Research in London.

May 23           London

May 24 Sat    Fly to BNA from London, England.


Daniel Humphreys Polemical Letter Against Elias Smith

Map of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, around the time Daniel Humphreys lived there.
Map of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, around the time Daniel Humphreys lived there.

Hello All:

My last broadcasted post described a letter I found from Elias Smith of the Christian Connexion to Daniel Humphreys, whom Smith described as “A Sandemanian Teacher.”

I have now obtained and digitized a letter from Humphreys to Smith, which is fascinating.  Humphreys’ polemic against Smith in many ways reminds me of the countless polemics I have read from preachers in the Church of Christ against denominational doctrines.  Whether it is Humphrey’s attacking Smith as being a member of a denomination (I think Smith would disagree), or attacking Smith for being creedal (again, I think Smith would reject this idea), it reads familiar, except, at one crucial point.  One of Humphreys’ main attacks on Smith is over baptism by immersion.  To quote Humphreys:

Your zeal for a favorite point respecting baptism, leads you to pronounce these your opponents, and the common churches around us, antichristian. (4)

Humphreys agrees with Smith’s contention that the other churches are in fact antichristian. But he also feels that Smith and his band of Christians are as well, for “failure to come out of Babylon.”

I had reported incorrectly in my post about Smith’s letter to Humphreys that Humphreys had asked why the two churches could not commune.  This was incorrect, as I noted in an errata in the original post.  This question had been asked of Smith by Congregationalists in New England, and Smith’s answer was baptism.  Humphreys answers the question back to Smith, saying:

By this time you will perceive that I am none of those who put the question, Why cannot you commune with us?–No–we may commune as fellow citizens and neighbors, but present sentiments continuing, religious connexion is quite out of the question.

Smith, however, wouldn’t have been interested in communing with Humphreys anyway, because the Sandemanians practice infant baptism. being the Calvinists in Soteriology that they were.

Humphreys spends much of the balance of the letter comparing the doctrines of the Christian Connexion to that of the Sandemanians, praising Smith where he thought praise was due, and condeming Smith’s understandings where they disagreed.

Near the end of the letter, Humphreys exhibits some pattern theology, another common thread between the Sandemanians and Churches of Christ. Humphreys compares Smith’s “church building” to the pattern of God, and declares it wanting.

You can find the entire letter at the Glasite Digital Archive.




Tickets are Purchased!

Hello all,

Just a quick update to say that I purchased my plane tickets today.  I am flying from Nashville to Dublin, Ireland on May 7th, and  I am returning to the States via London on May 24th.

I will be posting my full itinerary in the next few days. Stay tuned!