” Davie “
born 25th September 1860 in Ochiltree, Ayrshire
died 11th February 1950 at the Manse, Currie Kirk, Aged 89
Became a member of ‘Let it Blaw’ 1908
David Stewart was born in Ochiltree, Ayrshire, the youngest of eight children born to the local parochial schoolmaster Quintin Stewart, and his wife Margaret. He gained employment as a schoolmaster and, by 1885, was teaching a “group of unruly boys” in Mathieson Street School in the Gorbals, Glasgow. He was a great influence on the boys and even purchased a football for them out of his own funds.
He moved east to study Arts and Divinity at Edinburgh University. He became Assistant Minister at St Cuthberts’ Church, Edinburgh and then preached at Lady Glenorchy’s and Roseneath Churches before arriving as the new Minister of Currie Kirk in 1898. The following year he married Annie Morton who was also from Ochiltree and they had two children Quintin and Annie Jnr. Unfortunately his wife died in 1902 shortly after giving birth to Annie.
In Currie, David visited his flock regularly calling on over 100 homes each week, and was often to be seen in the parish wearing his trademark Inverness Cape. He had a great knowledge of Scots literature and Burns in particular. He preached sermons in broad Scots and was a well liked and highly respected figure in the area.
In 1902 he was invited to ‘Let it Blaw’ as a Guest of the Club but was unable to attend. In 1908, he was again invited as the Club’s Guest to propose the Toast to the Immortal Memory of Burns, and on that occasion he accepted the invitation. In his report of the Supper, Club Secretary John Fairbairn wrote “In replying to his Toast, the Chairman, George Y. Robertson, “thanked the Rev. Gentleman for his kindness in coming to propose the Toast, and that his kindness was all the more appreciated from the fact of it being the first occasion in the history of the Club on which a clergyman had been present. The elevated tone of his remarks, the reverent attitude to all that was good in Burns, and the Judicial Consideration of the Conditions and Circumstances of Burns’ life were all in keeping with the highest Christian charity.” The company rose and drank the health of the Reverend Gentleman with overflowing cordiality.”
And so began David Stewart’s long association with ‘Let it Blaw.’ He was an ever present at annual Suppers and, in addition to proposing Toasts and giving Replies, frequently contributed to the harmony of the evenings with song and verse. When ‘Let it Blaw’ was founded in 1881, the village of Balerno lay in the Currie Parish which is why David, the Currie Parish Minister, was appointed the Club’s Chaplain, an Office he held for so long. The Balerno United Free Church existed in those days, but it wasn’t until 1929 that Balerno Parish was formed and the Rev. David B. Turner of United Free Church became Balerno’s first parish minister.
David Stewart was also an author writing under the name of ‘Quintin MacCrindle’ (His father’s Christian name and his mother’s maiden name). A book called “Jock etc” by David is known to internet sites such as Amazon and Google although attempts to track down a copy online have so far proved impossible.
In 1948 he was presented with £1,000.00 from the community to mark his 50 years in the Parish, and the children of the community presented him with a quilt.
The Session House at Currie Kirk was built as a memorial to David, and the streets Stewart Avenue/ Crescent/ Gardens/ Place/ Road in Currie are all named after him.
David was a stalwart of ‘Let it Blaw’, being one of the few who kept the Club ticking over during the years of the Great War prior to the Club becoming active again in 1920. When written records of Club activities ceased in 1940, David was still our Chaplain.
For many years it’s been assumed that the Balerno Burns Club was inactive during the period 1940 to 1955. However, recent research has cast doubt on whether the Club was totally inactive during this period as has long been thought. Amongst other veiled references to the Club still having some form of existence during that period, long time Secretary Willie Shanks BEM, in a report to the Burns Federation in 1975, mentioned that “the Rev. David D. Ogston, Minister of Balerno Parish Church, had agreed to become the Club Chaplain.” Willie continued “he is the first Chaplain the Club has had since the death of Rev. David C. Stewart in 1946″.
Willie made a slight error in the date as David died in 1950 but, while we can’t be sure what did happen during this period, it appears the Club was anything but ‘inactive’ and it’s therefore reasonable to assume that David held the post of Chaplain until his death in 1950, a total of 42 years.