Dalserf History

Some milestones in the long and colourful history of Dalserf Church and Parish.

The origins of Dalserf congregation reach back to the early days of Presbyterianism in Scotland, the first minister Andrew Hamilton M.A. being admitted in 1593.The present Dalserf Church building was erected in 1655. These were the days of the “Covenanters”. 52 brave men and women from Dalserf are recorded as having suffered in one way or another for this cause, which was basically one of freedom to worship in a Presbyterian as opposed to Episcopalian manner.

The most radical changes in the present building took place a little over 100 years ago when owing to the generosity of Dalserf’s most illustrious benefactor – The first Lord Newlands of Mauldslie, the accommodation at Dalserf was substantially increased by the addition of the centre area and the galleries.The seating capacity is now almost 400. In the churchyard there are several graves of notable characters such as William Hamilton – “The Persecuting Raploch” one of the most notorious persecutors of the Covenanters in this area. Another by complete contrast is that of the Rev. John MacMillan ‚ÄúCovenanter of Covenanters” first minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Rorison Church was built in 1889 as a mission church to meet the needs of the upper part of the parish. Son of Lord Newlands, The right Honourable James Hozier MP, who resided at Mauldslie castle, was a member of Dalserf church and a generous benefactor. He donated a substantial sum towards the cost of extensions at Rorison. His wife was related to Clementine Hozier Winston Churchill’s wife. Winston Churchill has worshipped at Dalserf Church whilst visiting his in-laws.

Monument to Rev. John MacMillan

A tall obelisk which is situated in the graveyard only about six feet from the North-east corner of the church building itself marks the grave of the Rev. John MacMillan who was the first minister of the Reformed Presbyterian Church which arose out of “the United Societies”.

John MacMillan was deposed from the church of Scotland in 1703. He had been inducted to the charge of Balmaghie only 2 years before. He was deposed for his unyielding stand on covenanting principles from which the Church of Scotland had moved away by this time. MacMillan however after allowing his predecessor to occupy the Balmaghie pulpit for a year, illegally forced him out of his manse and his pulpit and remained for 20 years in spite of attempts by the authorities to remove him. His success in this respect was due to his popularity in that community which closed ranks around him. He moved to Larkhall (then within the parish of Dalserf) and remained there until his death in 1753.

The monument was renovated in 2004 thanks to the Covenanter Memorials Association.