Biography of John Dick
John Dick - United Secession minister and theological writer
John Dick was born in Aberdeen on 18th October 1764, son of the Rev Alexander Dick, a native of Kinross and minister of the Secession Church in Aberdeen, and Helen Tolmie. John was educated at Aberdeen Grammar school and then to University in Aberdeen, entering Kings College in October 1777 at the age of 13 with a bursary. The advantage of the bursary swayed him towards Kings College rather than Marischal's College. He studied humanity, Greek and philosophy under Professors Ogilvie, Leslie and Dunbar respectively and on 30th March 1781 was awarded the degree of M.A.
On leaving university, some friends attempted to persuade him to join the ministry to the Church of Scotland, others to the Episcopalian Church and his father tried to dissuade him from joining the ministry at all. John however was determined to join the ministry of the Secession church, like his father. He was admitted by the Associate presbytery of Perth and Dunfermline and spent 5 years studying under John Brown in Haddington. During that time he spent most of his holidays with a paternal uncle who assisted him to rid himself of the provincial peculiarities by which he was disfigured.
On reaching the age of 21 in 1785 he became a licensed preacher within the Perth and Dunfermline Presbytery and rapidly gained a reputation for his conduct of services and prowess as a preacher. This soon led to calls from three congregations, Scone, Musselburgh and Slateford. He accepted the invitation from Slateford, a village near Edinburgh and was ordained on 26th October 1786 at the age of 22. For the first year there was no manse and he lodged with Dr Peddie of Edinburgh. On moving to the new manse at Slateford he also created a fine garden and after a few years married Jane Coventry, daughter of Rev George Coventry of Stitchell in Roxburghshire. During his fifteen years at Slateford, John had been called twice to his late father's church in Aberdeen but on both occasions declined. In 1801 he was called to Greyfriars Church in Glasgow. The Synod agreed and though John Dick had not expressed an opinion either way he agreed to be assistant to Rev Alexander Pirie. It was a painful separation for both John and his Slateford congregation.
Greyfriars, in Shuttle St, Glasgow, was one of the oldest and wealthiest church in the Secession church and Dr Dick was inducted as colleague and successor to Dr Pirrie on 21st May 1801 and succeeded Dr Pirrie on his death in 1810. In 1815 John Dick received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the College of Princetown, New Jersey, USA and in 1820 he was appointed Theological Professor to the Associate Synod to replace Dr Lawson of Selkirk who had died in 1819. This position he held single handed till 1825 when a second Professor, Rev Dr John Mitchell was appointed to cover biblical literature.
During the period of his ministry in Glasgow, he attracted much notice by the delivery of a series of monthly Sabbath evening lectures on the Acts of the Apostles, which were afterwards published at intervals in two volumes; and, on a second edition being called for, were collected in one volume. These lectures, which were followed up by a series of discourses on the divine attributes, are models for the exposition of the Holy Scriptures.
In 1832 Dr Dick was appointed President of the Auxiliary Bible Society of Glasgow in place of the Earl of Glasgow who had resigned.He also took on the presidency of the Glasgow Voluntary Church Association.
In 1833 Dr Dick became ill with an inner ear infection and died two days later on 25th January 1833 in his 69th year. He was buried at the High Kirk/Glasgow Cathedral and there is a fine memorial to him and his family in Glasgow Necropolis. This was erected by his congregation.