Rev Duncan Finlayson 1917 -2012


Rev. Duncan Finlayson – b1917 – d2012.

1948 Rev Duncan Finalyson 1917-2012 wmDuncan was a former minister of Stonefield Parish Church from 1944. Born in Elgin in 1917 at the end of the First World War, he was raised in Marybank and Strathpeffer. Duncan was the youngest in a family of three. His father was the factor in a local estate.

Educated at Marybank Primary School then at Dingwall Academy, Duncan upon leaving school went directly on to Glasgow University where he gained his MA degree in English and Philosophy, choosing to continue with this Divinity training. He was proud to be awarded runner up in the University’s Boxing Championship, which may have occasioned his rather distinctive Finlayson nose!

It was at this time in the early 1940’s, whilst war raged in Europe, that he spotted Jean in the University Choir and vowed he would marry her, something he did in 1943. Immediately after their marriage they went to Ayr when Duncan became Assistant minister, but it was Blantyre that called in 1944, when Duncan was offered his first charge as minister outright at Stonefield Parish Church on Glasgow Road. The Church provided a beautiful stone manse at Herbertson Street nearby and it was an ideal setting for the couple to start their family, their first 2 children born there. He also had a cat called “Boots”. (pictured)

1948 Rev Duncan Finlayson & Jean wife wm

His time at Blantyre was relatively short when a move to Glasgow called in the very early 1950’s to Church HQ as Associate Secretary to the Foreign Mission Committee. He was then appointed Warden at the Peace Institute, which in 1953 brought him into close association with the Iona Community before another move this time to St Ninians in Musselborough.

In 1963 Duncan, Jean and their 4 children (Pat, Duncan, Edward & Iona) moved to St Rules Parish Church in Monifieth, staying there for 6 years. Duncan had a great desire to tinker and fix things. He had a Mark 2/ 3.4 Jaguar car, which would roar out the manse but he lost it in a fire. For local children, he once tried to make a pedal car buggie but the wheels never quite worked, so he remodelled it into a boat, which never quite worked too, settling for overturning it to become a planter.

In 1969 he was appointed first male Principal of St Colm’s College in Edinburgh (now closed).

In 1978, he and Jean moved to Morvern overlooking the Island of Mull., before finally retiring back to Appin and Stathpeffer. He had come full circle back to the place of his birth. Duncan and Jean celebrated their diamond-wedding anniversary in 1993 in Tulloch Castle. Jean’s failing health prompted the move to be closer to children and Jean died in 2005.

Duncan soldiered on his own health failing prompting a move to be close to Iona, his daughter. He passed away at Myrtle Cottage in 2012, aged 95. He was much loved and is said to have had a fun sense of humour, a glint in his eye and liked to exaggerate or fantasise in a playful manner with others.

With thanks to George Crawford. From “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2017


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  1. The Finlaysons remain the most wholesome family I have ever had the privilege to meet.

  2. The Rev, Duncan Finlayson, his wife Jean, and family represent for me the essence of goodness. They invited me into their home from 1969 till 1972 when I moved away from Scotland to pursue advance education in the US and later in England. As a psychoanalyst and a Dean at the University of Virginia, I teach the following: It is not what you say or do that comes out in a relationship; rather, it is what you are that goes from one heart into another, The Finlaysons are quintessentially that essence of goodness that sustains the lives we touch. May he and Jean rest in eternal peace.
    Maurice Apprey

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