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Guthrie, Thomas

1803-1873

Thomas Guthrie was a preacher, philanthropist and social reformer. He was born in Brechin and studied at Edinburgh and Paris. He was Minister of Old Greyfriars from 1837-40 and St. John's from 1840-64. He joined Free Church, which he helped to found, in 1843 and was its moderator in 1862. Thomas used his gift for oratory in the cause of temperance and other social reforms, and in favour of compulsory education, which he believed would reduce juvenile crime. He published his book Plea for Ragged Schools, or Prevention is Better Than Cure in 1847.

In his will Thomas orders that 'in the event of my leaving material for an autobiography I direct such to be placed in the hands of my sons David and Charles John'. The Autobiography of Thomas Guthrie, D.D. and Memoir by his sons David K. Guthrie and Charles J. Guthrie (London,1874-1875) was duly published. He also instructs his executors to 'hand over to the new College of the Free Church at Edinburgh my copy of the Covenant received by me from Miss Margaret Bruce to be preserved by them in all time coming'. This was a copy of the National Covenant of 1637, which has been viewed as one of the catalysts of the religious wars that ravaged the British Isles in the mid seventeenth century. Thomas married Anne Burns, and they had the following children: David Kelly, James, Thomas, Alexander, Charles John, Christina, Helen, Anne, and Clementina.

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