The United Presbyterians – Wormit’s Forgotten Congregation

There was a United Presbyterian congregation in Wormit from the early 1890s to 1898. They had their own minister, Rev. Hugh Carmichael, and appear to have been similar in strength to, if not bigger than, the Free Church congregation at the time; but they have been largely forgotten. This is despite the strongly-held views and not a few arguments provoked by the proposed union of the two denominations.

A timeline may be of help here:

1889: the Forgan Church (of Scotland) opened a meeting hall at Wormit in a converted house at Railway Cottages. Status later raised to a Mission.

1893: Free Church congregation are meeting in the Railway Cottages on 2 Sundays a month.

1894: Wormit U.P. congregation members strongly in favour of a Union Church in association with the Free Church. Rev. Rae (Newport Free Church) is against it. At this point, neither congregation had a building to call their own or a permanent minister. Discussions continue.

1895: The Established Church congregation moved to the newly-built Hall in Bay Road (now West Hall).

1895: Free Church opened their Preaching Station, later to become a Mission Station (now the East Hall) – cost about £400. Rev. Livingston is minister. [As a general aside, I am struck by the way the non-Established ministers locally preach in each other’s pulpits.]

October 1895: Rev. Hugh Carmichael selected as U.P. minister for Wormit. The U.P. congregation meets in the Public Hall (above the Wormit Post Office).

November 1897: U.P. minister Rev. Hugh Carmichael moves to Glasgow, replaced for 2 months by Rev. Macleroy.

1898: Established Church raised to a Chapel of Ease.

February 1898: Free Church & U.P. Church locally agree to union. The choice of denomination (Free Church or U.P.) would be decided by the choice of new minister, to be selected from a leet of 4.

June 1898: Plans for a new U.P. church submitted to Dundee U.P. Presbytery, estimated cost £2700.

July 1898: At a meeting of the Union Church, Wormit [sic], 5 names were submitted for the position of minister. Rev. Tweedie elected by a majority. The church will now be under the constitution of the Free Church.

July 1898: Rev. Livingston, having voluntarily retired from his candidature in connection with the recent union, in order to promote the harmony of the settlement, leaves the Free Church charge.

August 1898: Union ratified: the congregations become the Wormit United Free Church. The congregations had selected as minister Rev. John Tweedie – a Free Church probationer. The denomination of the church would therefore be Free Church. Donation of £500 received from the Home Mission Board of the U.P. Church towards the costs of construction of a new church.

October 1898: Rev. John Tweedie inducted to the united charge. ‘The congregation were urged to use consideration and forebearance towards each other and to give their minister a kindly welcome.’

1899 – 1901: Construction of new United Free Church – cost £3000.

A piece in the Evening Telegraph in 1908 declares that ‘Wormit set the example of Union for the rest of Scotland to follow, with the election of Mr Tweedie’.


Dundee Advertiser: 7 November 1894, 12 October 1895, 2 September 1898;
Dundee Courier: 7 & 15 November 1894, 28 December 1895, 21 March, 1896, 30 November 1897, 9 June 1898, 21 July 1898, 11 August 1898;
Dundee Evening Telegraph: 25 September 1908;
Newspapers can be found on the British Newspaper Archive or Find My Past sites.
The History of Wormit Church

Jottings seems to have had quite a few posts about the local churches – this was not the intention, it just ‘happened’.

The Roman Catholic Church of St. Fillans in Newport

The following notes were written by a member of the congregation for an exhibition in 1990 (hence the cut-off in the list of priests).

“The first resident priest in Fifeshire was the Rev. Aeneas McDawson who made Dunfermline the headquarters of the new mission area. He also opened ‘stations’ at Kirkcaldy, Newburgh, Culross and Cupar.

It was not until 1886 that a Mission was founded in Newport. At first the clergy from St. Andrew’s Church (now the Cathedral of the Diocese) looked after the needs of the mission.

In 1889 Newport was raised to the position of a distinct charge under the care of Fr. James Harris. A residence for the priest had been purchased in 1888, and until a church should be built, Mass was said in a rented portion of what had previously been the Royal Hotel. The opening ceremony took place on the 6th November 1889, when Mass was sung by Mgr. Clapperton, Vicar General of the Diocese, and the sermon was preached by Mgr. Joseph Holder, parish priest of St. Joseph’s, Dundee. Cupar along with Tayport then became stations attached to the Newport Mission.

The new church was opened on 25th January 1893 by the then Bishop of Dunkeld, Bishop James Smith. The 1925 Dundee & District Catholic Yearbook describes the Church in the following way: ‘for it stands a considerable distance from the street line, and is a neat but unpretentious little structure of corrugated iron. Inside it is lined throughout with white pine, and the timber roof breaks with good effect the harshness of the outline. Light is given by six windows on either side, and in addition there is a small but artistic stained glass window above the sanctuary. The Sanctuary is divided from the body of the church by a pretty bent wood railing. The altar, in accordance with the Church itself is small but tastefully designed. The seats are substantially made, and can accommodate 250 worshippers.’

The sermon at the opening was preached by Fr. Phelan (later Canon) of St. Mary’s, Dundee. The Church was erected mainly for the sake of the Mars Boys, of whom double as many as before [could] now hear Mass every Sunday, while ample accommodation is left for the local congregation.

Since its foundation the following priests have been Parish Priests at Newport:

  • Rev. James Harris, 1889-1891
  • Rev. William Sutton, 1891-1897
  • Rev. John Kilcullen, 1897-1898
  • Rev. Alexander McMillan, 1898-1900
  • Rev. Patrick Brady, 1900-1908
  • Rev. Anthony Sweeney, 1908-1909
  • Rev. John Roche, 1909-1920
  • Rev. John Noonan, 1920-1930
  • Rev. James Quinn, 1930-1937
  • Rev. Patrick Donnacher, 1937-1940
  • Rev. John Malloy, 1940-1952
  • Rev. John Ross, 1952-1957
  • Rev. Edmund Purcell, 1957-1962
  • Rev. John Joseph Connolly, 1962-1966
  • Rev. Andrew Rooney, 1966-1976
  • Rev. Kenneth McBride, 1976-1981
  • Rev. Aldo Angelosanto, 1981-1988
  • Rev. Hugh Campbell, 1988- ”

The reference to the Mars Boys reminds us that the ‘Mars’ had a higher than expected Roman Catholic populaltion since it took in boys of all denominations, whereas its sister training ship on the Clyde, ‘Cumberland’, only accepted Protestant boys. So Roman Catholic boys from the west of Scotland were sent to the ‘Mars’.

The Church still thrives in the town today.