On the 29th of November Rev. Robert Morgan Adamson died in 1940. He was Minister of St. John’s Church, Ardrossan for 44 years. We came across a photograph of Rev. Adamson with two of his sons, Henry and Graham, in the Guthrie collection.
Robert Morgan Adamson was born on 08 July 1866, 11.30pm at Crossgate, Cupar, the second of five known children born to parents Alexander Adamson, a Draper, and Catharine Duncan. His parents were married on 28 January 1862 in Cupar, by Rev. David B. Joseph, minister of the Baptist Church. Robert’s siblings were Janet, born 08 January 1863; Henry Duncan, born 02 August 1869; Elizabeth Crombie, born 11 March 1872 and Charles Alexander born 1876. All the children were born in Cupar.
The 1881 Cupar Census reveals that Alexander and Catherine Adamson were living at 12 Crossgate, Cupar with their five children and Jessie Aitken, a general servant. Alexander Adamson is employed as a Draper. Robert and his sister Elizabeth (Lizzie) are both at school. The census also reveals that Robert’s family are living in a home with twelve rooms, which means that they were comfortably well off.
Robert was educated at the Madras Academy, Cupar, where he was Dux and awarded the Balgonie Gold Medal in 1881, followed by Edinburgh High School, where he was awarded prizes in Latin, Greek and English Literature, after which he went to Edinburgh University, spending one summer session studying at the physical laboratory at University College, Dundee. Robert then studied divinity at Edinburgh’s New College, where he was President of the Musical Society, Secretary of the Browning Society and Treasurer of the University Temperance Society. While studying at New College he took a session of theological and musical study at Leipzig University and a session on divinity at the University of Jena, Germany.
In November 1890 he was elected assistant to Rev. William Wynne Peyton at St. Luke’s Free Church, Broughty Ferry, as well as assistant to Rev. William Macallum Clow at the South Free Church, Aberdeen.
In October 1892 he received the majority of votes, when the members of St. John’s Free Church, Ardrossan met to select a new minister. Rev. Robert Morgan Adamson, M.A. was ordained on Thursday 01 December 1892 at St. John’s Church, Ardrossan followed by a dinner at the Eglinton Arms Hotel, which was attended by sixty men, including Dr Addis, his future father-in-law, and many of his friends. In the evening a soiree was held in the church hall for the congregation to meet their new minister.
Rev. Robert Morgan Adamson and Robina Scott Thorburn Addis, youngest daughter of Rev. Thomas Addis, D.D., were married at Morningside Free Church, Edinburgh on 21 February 1893 by the Rev. Thomas Addis, D.D. assisted by Rev. A. Martin, M.A., and Rev. James Ironside Still, his brother-in-law. The 1893-94 Ardrossan Valuation Roll reveals that Rev. Adamson, and his bride were living at the Free Church Manse at 56 Eglinton Street, Ardrossan. They had six sons: Robert Thorburn, born 1893; Allan Scott, born 1895; George Addis, born 1898; Henry Lees, born 1899; Alastair Martin, born 1901 and Graham Forrester born 1903. All the children were born in Ardrossan. Some of his sons’ middle names appear to be those of Free Church of Scotland ministers whom the Adamson’s admired.
During World War One Rev. Robert M. Adamson served as Chaplain to the Fife and Forfar Yeomanry and continued to be an honorary chaplain to the Forces after the war. Sadly, two of his sons were killed while serving their country. Lieutenant Robert Thorburn Adamson of the Royal Scots, 4th Battalion died 23 April 1917 aged 23 and is commemorated at the Arras Memorial, France. Second Lieutenant George Addis Adamson of the King’s Own Borderers, 6th Battalion died 12 October 1917 at Passchendaele, France, aged 19 and is commemorated at the Tyne Cot Memorial, Belgium.
In memory of his sons, Rev. Adamson and his wife presented a baptismal font to St. John’s Church which was a replica of the baptismal font of the old church in Canterbury. In 1919, his son Allan gifted the church with a communion table in his brothers’ memory.
On Thursday 22 February 1918 St. John’s United Free Church congregation held their annual social during which they celebrated Rev. Adamson’s semi-jubilee with tea and cake, followed by several speeches from both the congregation and fellow ministers. In April 1924 Rev. Adamson was appointed chaplain to Rev. Dr Inch, Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland and in 1928 he provided ministry to St. Andrew’s Church, Cannes, France. He was a member of many of the Standing Committees in the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland and took an active part in negotiations with the Church of Scotland.
On Thursday 18 September 1924 Rev. Adamson attended the ordination and induction of his son Rev. Henry Lees Adamson to Coldstream West United Free Church and on 05 May 1927 his youngest son Rev. Graham Forrester Adamson was licensed by Ardrossan Presbytery at St. John’s United Free Church, Ardrossan and was appointed assistant to Rev. Dr P.D. Thomson, Kelvinside.
Rev. Adamson wrote several theological essays and books including “The Christian Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper” which became a textbook at Glasgow University. In recognition of his outstanding work, Edinburgh University conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity to Rev. Dr Robert Morgan Adamson, M.A. (Edin.) of St. John’s Manse, Ardrossan on 02 July 1931. In his private life Rev. Adamson was a distinguished Shakespearean scholar and enjoyed playing golf.
Rev. Adamson was minister of St. John’s for 45 years. He retired in January 1938 at which time St. John’s Church congregation presented him with a wallet containing £135 and his wife, Robina, with a wristwatch and a pair of gloves. He was succeeded by Rev. David. M. G. Stalker.
Rev. Adamson died on 29 November 1940, 9.40am in a nursing home at 2 Strathearn Road, Edinburgh aged 74 from Cardiovascular Degeneration. His usual address was given as 69 Comiston Drive, Edinburgh. His son Rev. Henry Lees Adamson of St. John’s Manse, Kelso, signed his death certificate. Rev. Adamson was buried in Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh with his wife Robina who died August 1940, and her parents and siblings. In 1942 his four surviving sons and their families presented St. John’s United Free Church with oak offertory plates in memory of their parents and in 1947 the congregation of St. John’s church erected a memorial window depicting “Our Lord at the table” in remembrance of Rev. Dr Adamson, which was designed by Abbey Studios, Glasgow