Old St. Andrews



Legend of Greenock Church



St. Andrews Bay Pilot, July 6, 1878
Jottings on the Street, No. 2
. . . All along this part of the water side of the street, over 50 years ago, an old Scotchman, Mr. Christopher Scott, could walk and call it his. Large, long and substantial wharves ran far away down towards low water mark; and Christopher Scott's name was synonymous with busy life and industry. The wharves are all gone; and so has their owner and builder old Capt. Scott.

He was a singular man, had many good qualities but was eccentric. He was a zealous Presbyterian and evinced it in the zealous and expensive completion of the Kirk. He was an old sea captain, and made many voyages from St. Andrews to Scotland. He had a partner, who is said to have been a most excellent man; his name was John Strang. The Presbyterian Congregation having begun the building of the Kirk, found themselves unable to finish. Capt. Scott proposed to finish it, provided they gave him a title deed to it, and build a manse. To this they agreed, after some parleying about the details. Col. McKay owned the lot on which the manse was to be built. The cellar was dug, the foundation laid, and other preparations for the manse; the old Captain in the meantime pushing on the work on the Kirk with vigour. He spared no expense, and the edifice to this day shows, by its elaborate, rich, mahogany finish, and other costly decorations hat money was laid out on it with no miser hand. The house now occupied by the editor of the "Standard" stands on the very spot selected as the site for the manse. Another stipulation made by the eccentric Scott was that an Oak Tree should grace the front of the steeple.

As there is no rose without a thorn, so the Oak Tree had its thorns. The Congregation failed in their contracts about the Manse, and then Scott shut down in Scottish ire upon the Kirk. He swore—just as Uncle Toby swore in Flanders, he swore that he would lock up the Kirk, and so he did—Scott locked up the Kirk, and so, things appeared to come to a "dead lock," for a time. Scott had a son called "Willie," and he determined to give "Willie" the title-deed of the Kirk, and so called in Mr. William McLean as notary, to write the conveyance. Scott had a fine dinner prepared and wines in abundance, (Scott never wore the "blue ribbon,") several friends invited, and all things ready to witness having "Willie" put in possession of the Kirk. Mr. McLean refused to write the conveyance, and by dint of persuasion so far pacified the irate Scotchman who got "tight" on the occasion, that he relinquished the conveying at that time; subsequently, however, he got another scribe and had it conveyed to "Willie." He closed the church gates—took down the Bell, and again the old Captain swore that he would convert the building into anything but a Kirk. He had brought over from Scotland Rev. Mr. McLean, and that pious and good man did much towards restoring confusion to order.

After a time, the difficulties were all removed, "Willie" resigned the title, the congregation and Minister became the legitimate owners, and the church came forth all the bright from the trouble. Under the broad leave of that majestic Oak Tree, and about half way up its trunk, black letters on a white ground, read thus: "Greenock Church, Finished June 1824."

54 years, this very month, have thus rolled away into Time's fathomless maelstrom, since "Greenock Church" was finished; and with this more half-a-century, what changes in the world! Ay, what changes in St. Andrews. Alas! Our fathers, where are they, and echo plaintively asks, where? Of all that figures contemporaneous with old Capt. Scott, only, one that we know of, is left to tell the tale, and that is the good old William McLean, now in the 96th year of his age. Another step or two in advance, and other interesting scenes are looming up before us, but we must postpone until next week.