John Russell (1845-1934)
Back in April 2005 I was contacted by relatives of the late Rev John Russell, minister of the West Church until 1934. They wanted to add an inscription to the headstone in the village graveyard and were asking for information about how to go about this. I pointed them in the direction of the Council who manage the cemetery and plots and I they were off on their journey. Here is the update almost a year later.
“It has taken quite a while to actually set up and complete the work on the headstone. Renfrew Council advised that all the work is handled by the stonemason, including seeking permission from the Council and providing proof of ownership of the lair (plot). It was an interesting process and I now know considerably more about the bureaucracy involved. Having completed all the necessary paperwork and just about to start, the Council visisted the cemetery and declared the foundations to the headstone unsafe. However, all’s well that ends well, the headstone now has foundations for another 100 years, the stone is clean, the old lettering repainted and the new lettering added. Thank you for guiding me in the right direction. I attach a copy of John Russell’s history”
John Russell was born in Bothwell in 1845. He studied for the ministry at Glasgow University and Free Church Divinity Hall. After assistantships with Dr Laird of Cupar and Dr Laidlaw of the West Church, Aberdeen, he was ordained on 22nd February 1877, aged 32, as Minister of Lochwinnoch Free Church. There he spent his whole active ministry, from which he retired on the appointment of his colleague, the Rev Blake Russell, in 1922. He was also Clerk of the Presbytery of the Paisley Free Church, a position he held for 38 years from 1889 to 1927. In his time, he was a member of the School Board and of the Parish Council and it was stated that in Lochwinnoch “there was no movement in the place that was for the moral or spiritual good of the people in which he did not take a prominent part.”
He married Jane Dunlop. They lived in the Manse in Lochwinnoch. They had six children – Jean Durant, Althea, Molly, Agnes, Margaret, and Thomas Guthrie.
He took an active part locally at the time of the union between the Free Church and the United Presbyterians in 1900 when the United Free Church was formed. The Rev Dr Alexander remembered that at the time of the union, Mr Russell was appointed the sole Clerk of the Presbytery and kindly received the United Presbyterians and “regarded their business as his own.”
His children led varied lives:
His son, Thomas Guthrie, achieved high office and was knighted for his services. Sir Thomas Guthrie Russell, KCSI. KCIE Born 19th January 1887 – Died 3rd february 1963
Jean married Neil Cosh who was somewhat older than her. Her ‘true love’ was not approved of by her father and Neil was considered suitable. They lived close to her parents in Glasgow. Jean outlived Neil and last lived at 17 Polwarth Gardens, Glasgow. She died in hospital on 7th November 1967.
Althea married Dr Alexander Fraser, the Medical Officer of Health for the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. They lived in Dumfries. Althea died in Lochmaben Hospital on 13 th December 1970.
Margaret was educated at Park School, Glasgow, and trained at the Royal Infirmary. She made her life in the Queen Alexandra’s Imperial Military Service and served in North Russia, in the Army on the Rhine, in Egypt, and military hospitals in London and St Albans. She was awarded the Royal Red Cross (Second Class) by the King in “recognition of the special devotion and competency displayed in her nursing duties in military hospitals.” She rose to the rank of Principal Matron and was awarded the Royal Red Cross (First Class) by the King on 9th July 1935 at Buckingham Palace. She died at home on 19th September 1971. Molly, Margaret and Agnes remained unmarried all their lives and lived together at 19 Queen’s Gate, Glasgow, till they departed this earth one by one.