In the early nineteenth century, the East Campbell Street Old Light congregationalists moved around to different premises before a church was built for them in 1823 on the corner of Renfield Street and Gordon Street. In 1858, a new church was erected at 311 Bath Street (on the corner of Elmbank Street), to the west of the city centre and near Charing Cross. (For a more complete history of this church, see ‘Glasgow — Renfield‘ on the the Ecclegen website. For a brief history of Professor Marcus Dods, one of the ministers of the church during the time when the young men’s society was running, see ‘Marcus Dods‘ on The Glasgow Story website).
At the first meeting, the full name of this group was given as the ‘Renfield Free Church Young men’s society for mutual improvement’. There are 30 members listed on the roll at the start. As per the rules, the young men were either part of the church congregation or of the same denomination. Although most of the them lived in and around the city centre, two members lived in the south side of the city, in the Gorbals and Tradeston areas just south of the River Clyde.
The rules of the group were modeled on those of ‘Dr Buchanan’s congregation’, which possibly refers to Robert Buchanan, D.D., who was minister of the Tron Church in Glasgow between 1843 and 1857. (For more information about the Tron Church, see ‘Glasgow — Tron‘ on the the Ecclegen website.)
The society met every other week on a Tuesday in the church session house at 8pm for the purpose of its members’ intellectual, moral and religious improvement. The annual subscription fee was 2s, which was a bit cheaper than the average in the second half of the century (2s 6d). As per the norm for this type of group, meetings were opened and closed with prayer. At the meetings, papers were read and debates were held. Once a quarter, a devotional meeting was to be held.
The society was dissolved at the end of the meeting held on 18 January 1870. In the last session, there were 10 members on the roll.
In a ‘Report of Committee appointed at meeting of Renfield Association, April 28th 1868’, the members discussed the formation of an Association Magazine to be issued monthly in manuscript (see ‘Additional Notes’ below). There were six magazines produced. Upon the dissolution of the society, the issues were allocated to six society members.
Date of Existence
26 February 1851-18 January 1870
Source of Information
Glasgow, Renfield Free Church, U.F., Young Men’s Society minutes, 1851-69
(Note: in the back of this minute book are various loose correspondence, annual and financial reports in manuscript, in addition to a printed ‘Programme’ (i.e. syllabus) for the 1869-1870 session,
Glasgow City Archives
See also entry for [Manuscript magazine of the Renfield Free Church Young Men’s Society] on our sister website, Literary Bonds.