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Rev. Dr. Thomas Guthrie


1803 - 1873

Thomas Guthrie, plaque on his gravestone
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Thomas Guthrie, plaque on his gravestone

Social reformer and founder of the Free Church. Born in Brechin, the son of a merchant and Provost of that town, Guthrie attended the University of Edinburgh from the age of only twelve. Guthrie became minister at Arbirlot (Angus) in 1827, where he started a savings bank on the model of Dr Henry Duncan's pioneering example at Ruthwell (Dumfries and Galloway). In 1837, he moved to take up the charge of Greyfriars in Edinburgh, where he was shocked by the poverty and deprivation. He quickly made the link between poverty, ignorance, disease and crime, and worked to set up schools, improve housing and working conditions and promote temperance. He was a founder member of the Free Church of Scotland following the disruption of 1843 and is noted for raising the immense sum of £116,000 in just 11 months to build manses for the new church.

Guthrie is buried in the Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh.


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