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Rev. Prof. Robert Smith Candlish


1806 - 1873

Free Church leader. Born in Edinburgh, Candlish's mother was one of the 'Mauchline Belles' celebrated by poet Robert Burns (1759-96). His father died the same year Candlish was born and his mother took her family to Glasgow, where Candlish was educated at the Glasgow College. He attended services in St. John's Church, where the preachers were Dr. Thomas Chalmers (1780 - 1847) and Edward Irving (1792 - 1834). He spent some time as a tutor at Eton College (1826-29) but returned to Glasgow where he began preaching. From 1831, he served as Assistant Minister at Bonhill in the Vale of Leven, but in 1834 moved to St. George's in Edinburgh, where he was ordained, took charge of the congregation and gained a reputation as a powerful preacher. Central to church politics of the time, Candlish was one of the Ministers who left the Church of Scotland following the Disruption of 1843 and he became a leader of the Free Church. When Thomas Chalmers died, Candlish briefly replaced him as Professor of Theology at New College while retaining his role at St George's but, within a year, he had resigned the former role to concentrate on his preaching. However, in 1861 he was Moderator of the Free Church Assembly and accepted the Principalship of New College the following year, succeeding Prof. William Cunningham (1805-61).

Candlish was honoured by the award of a Doctorate of Divinity by Princeton College (New Jersey) in 1841. His works included Contributions towards the exposition of the Book of Genesis (in three volumes from 1846).

Although assisted by Alexander Whyte (1836 - 1921) at the Free St. George's from 1870, the strain proved too much and he suffered an extended bout of illness and died three years later. He is remembered by a memorial window at the former Trinity College in Glasgow.


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