Glasgow Free Church Literary Union


The Union was formed in 1850, seven years after the Disruption, when the Presbyterian church split in two. Its institution occurred during a period of active church building—and apparently society founding—by the newly-established Free Church.

In 1853, this group was composed of 12 literary societies that had formed in Free Church congregations across Glasgow (see ‘Additional Notes’ below). Societies elected representatives from amongst their own members to act as delegates to the Union meetings.

In addition to their own meetings that included lectures, readings, debates and social evenings, Free Church literary societies held joint meetings and debates with other members of the Glasgow Free Church Literary Union.

Date of Existence


Source of Information

1. ‘Glasgow Free Church Literary Union’, ‘Local Institutions’, Glasgow Post-Office Annual Directory for 1853-1854… (Glasgow: William Mackenzie, 1853), p. 79;

2. Goodwin, John, History of Free St. Peter’s Church, Glasgow: with Personal Reminiscences, from Origin till Jubilee (Glasgow: Printed by James C. Erskine, 1886), pp. 38+ (ML, Mitchell (GC) 285.241443 STP 761767);

3. ‘Free Church Literary Union’, The Scottish Guardian, 23, 25 April 1854, p. 1


Mitchell Library (ML)

National Library of Scotland

Reference Number

(See Source of Information)

Additional Notes

This Union is made up of 12 literary societies. Each of these societies is listed separately.

See also: Free Anderston Church Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Society; Free East Campbell Literary Society; Free Gorbals Literary Society; Free Renfield Literary Society; Free St. David’s Literary Society; Free St. George’s Literary Association; Free St. John’s Literary Society; Free St. Luke’s Literary Society; Free St. Mark’s Literary Society; Free St. Matthew’s Literary Society; Free St. Peter’s Young Men’s Association; and Free Tron Literary Society.

The Glasgow Post Office directories are available at the Mitchell Library and the National Library of Scotland. Digitised copies are available through the NLS website:

The Scottish Guardian is available through the British Newspaper Archive <>)