>Rev. Dr. Brown Dunvegan

“ Letters from the Past
Free Church of Scotland 1843,
Revd. Dr. Brown of Langton.


Eunice Shanahan

The letter is written on unwatermarked, cream paper, and is printed stationery.

It is addressed to Rev. Dr. Brown, Langton, Dunse, which is near Berwick, and it has three postal markings.

1) a circular date stamp in red ink of the type in use from 1838.

2) a ‘1’ charge mark also in red ink signifying it had been paid, and

3) a receiving date stamp of DUNSE JY 7 1843 boxed in black ink.

Although the date of the letter is 1843, which is 3 years after the introduction of the Penny Black postage stamp, it was not compulsory to have the adhesive stamp applied to the letter, and the PAID AT EDINBURGH stamp was adequate. I found it interesting that the address of Dunse, and the receiving stamp of the same name is listed as that in Alan Robertson’s book, yet in my atlas of the British Isles it is shown as DUNS without the E on the end. On checking further it seems that it was just the different spelling used by the Scots (Dunse) and the English (Duns), as this border area had changed ownership over the centuries in battles between these two countries.

The letter is rather dirty on the outside, but the inside is unmarked and very clean. The writing is quite legible.




July 6 1843
My Dear Sir

I am directed by the Special Commission of the General Assembly
to acquaint you that your application for
admission into the Free Protesting Church
having been fully considered, they were
pleased to grant the prayer of the same
& that you are hereby admitted as a min
ister of that Church.

I remain

Yours truly

John Millar

Clerk of Commission

To the Rev. Dr. Brown, Langton

Notes: 1) There is an interesting aspect to this letter, in that it was written only about 3 months after the establishment of the Free Church of Scotland, which according to the Wikipedia entry was a Scottish denomination which was formed in 1843 by a large withdrawal from the established Church of Scotland in a schism or division known as the Disruption of 1843. So this letter is a very early item of correspondence concerning the Free Church of Scotland, which survived until 1900.

2) Duns information from Wikipedia

Duns (historically Scots: Dunse) is a town in the Scottish Borders, Scotland. It was the county town of the historic county of Berwickshire.

3) Langton information from the website of the Scottish Borders Family History Society.


Langton is a centrally situated Parish in the County of Berwick being bounded on the north by the Parish of Duns, on the east by the Parishes of Edrom, and Polwarth, on the south by the Parishes of Polwarth and Longformacus and on the west by the Parish of Longformacus.

This image of the church at Langton, Duns is shown on the same website

The Old Parish Birth Records exist from 1728 to 1854.
Marriage Records from 1730 to 1775 and from 1821 to 1854.
Death records exist from 1731 to 1773.

This is another old letter which, on the face of it has nothing of interest, but it leads to my learning all kinds of facts of which I would otherwise have no knowledge. No two letters of ours are the same, and that is part of the appeal of postal history.
Late newsflash

In July 2018 we contacted the Scottish Borders FHS, and the Secretary kindly gave us this information about the addressee of our letter.

Regarding the Rev, John Brown I quote from G.A.C. Binnie’s book ‘The Churches and Churchyards of Berwickshire’, 1995

The minister of the Parish Church, the Rev. Dr. John Brown and the whole of the congregation left the Parish Church at the Disruption of 1843. None of the congregation came to the Parish Church to “hear it preached vacant”.

Initially the congregation worshipped in a large granary loaned and fitted out by the Dowager Marchioness of Breadalbane ........

The first minister John Brown had been a member of two other denominations having been a member of the Burghers before becoming minister of Langton Church of Scotland in 1810. He himself was a prolific author and one of his sons wrote “"Annals of the Free Church ”.

Sources Great Britain Post Roads, Post Towns and Postal Rates 1635-1839 Alan W. Robertson and websites as mentioned.

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