The Rev. James Paton Gloag M.A is noted in the 1862 Handbook of Hamilton, Bothwell, and Blantyre & Uddingston Directory as being a minister at the Manse at Kirkton, High Blantyre.
He was minister of the old second kirk in the Kirkton Graveyard and first minister of the Old Parish Church built in 1863. He served in Blantyre for 11 years from 1860 until 1871.
It was a bright day for Blantyre when Paton James Gloag was inducted as minister of this Parish. His successor bears him worthy testimony and there can be no doubt that he was one who walked worthy of his high and holy vocation. Rev Wright later in 1885, described him in these words: ” He was ‘an able scholar, a gifted preacher a kindly friend, an unwearied Christian worker. One who made himself felt through the length and breadth of the Parish as a power for good.”
Born in Perth in 1825, where his father was a banker, Mr. Gloag was licensed by Perth Presbytery in April 1846. In the following September he was appointed assistant at Dunning and shortly afterwards he was ordained as “assistant and successor”. He remained at Dunning for 14 years before accepting the challenge of a new ministery at Blantyre being presented by the Patron, Lord Blantyre on 7th. June 1860 he was admitted to the charge in autumn of that year.
The 1861 census is revealing that Rev James Paton Gloag was only 36 years old and minister living at the former manse at Kirkton. With him at the large manse house was Jessie (42), his older sister and on the day of the census William C Gloag, a visitor who was a lawyer and likely relation. Visiting him also that day was 67 year old James Burn, a writer and his wife Helen. It made me wonder why on that day a writer was visiting the minister’s home in the company of the family lawyer! It should be noted that James was not married at this time, but did live with his 28 year old servant Mary Sutherland, whom I’m sure would have been a cook, cleaner and housekeeper all rolled into one. In his initial years in Blantyre James would have seen for himself the deplorable condition of the previous church, then still located in the Kirkton Cemetery.
It was largely as a result of the exertions of Dr. Gloag that our present beautiful Parish Church was erected in 1863 and to him also must the credit be given for the erection of the even more handsome Parish Church of Galashiels, which was completed around 1885. While in this charge, Paton James Gloag received the honorary degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of St. Andrews in 1867 – in recognition of his undoubted ability: for as well as being a thoughtful preacher, Dr. Gloag was one of the foremost Theological writers of his day and published many volumes of various subjects. One of these books, “An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles” is still retained in the vestry of the Church. Mr. Gloag remained in Blantyre for more than 11 years, even giving his name to one of the Aitkenhead Builders sons (James Paton Gloag Aitkenhead)
He was transferred to Galashiels on 20th April 1871 and in 1889 became Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. By 1901 he was living in Edinburgh where he stayed until his death at 28 Regent Terrace on 9th January 1906.