From the Book of Eminent Burgesses of Dundee 1513 to 1885.

Thomas Glas - 25th September 1753



This entry is peculiar for several reasons: because of the reputation of the person, as well as from the fact that ten years elapsed betwixt the time of the granting of the Burgess Ticket and the enrolment of the Burgess in the Lockit Book. The Act of Council referred to is in these terms :

"1st August, 1743. The Council authorise the Clerk to sign and deliver a Burgess Ticket in favours of Mr John Glas, Minister of the Gospell, which is to be in full of his freedom to this Burrow."

It is probable that Mr GLAS had his name entered on the Roll in 1753, for the purpose of procuring the admission of his son, THOMAS, at that date.

JOHN GLAS was the son of Mr ALEXANDER GLAS, minister of Kinclaven, and was born at Auchtermuchty on 21st September, 1695, where his father was then minister. He was educated first at the parish school of Kinclaven, and afterwards at Auchtermuchty and at Perth, completing his studies at S. Leonard's College. On 6th May, 1713, he obtained his degree of Master of Arts at the University of St Andrews, was licensed by the Presbytery of Dunkeld in 1718, and placed as minister of Tealing in the following year. His success as a popular preacher was rapid and great, but shortly after his settlement he advocated certain views as to the constitution of the Church which did not meet with the approval of his co Presbyters. In 1725 he formed a Society outside of his church, which he conducted according to the principles that he had adopted, although he still ministered to his regular congregation in the usual way. His chief difference with the clergy of the National Church related to the Covenants, the adherence to which was then regarded as obligatory upon all members. He maintained that the Civil Magistrate should have no power to interfere with the government of the Church; that "the National Covenants were without warrant of God's Word; and that those who suffered in late times for adhering thereto were so far unenlightened. That there is no warrant for a National Church under the New Testament, and that a single congregation, with its presbyteries, is in its discipline subject to no jurisdiction under heaven." These views were so pertinaciously taught and acted upon by Mr GLAS that his case was brought under the notice of the Church Courts, and he was suspended by the Synod on 18th April, 1725. The Commission of the General Assembly continued the sentence of suspension in May, 1728, he was deposed in October of that year, and the deposition was confirmed by the Assembly Commission in May, 1730.

At this time he removed to Dundee and founded an Independent Church there in accordance with his principles. He soon gathered around him a considerable number of persons like minded with himself, and formed a regular congregation known by the name of Glassites. In 1733 he returned to Perth, where his father in law, Mr THOMAS BLACK, was minister, and here a small meeting house was built by some of his adherents; but the spirit of intolerance was then so rampant that an attempt was made to have him excluded from that Burgh as a fomenter of discord. He remained in Perth, however, for many years, and soon found his supporters increasing in numbers throughout Scotland. But he was still regarded as a dangerous schismatic by the Established Church, and though on 22nd May, 1739, the Assembly reversed the sentence of deposition, it was declared "that he is not to be esteemed a minister of the Church of Scotland until he shall renounce the principles embraced by him that are inconsistent with the constitution of the Church." It is worthy of notice that the Act of the Town Council of Dundee constituting him a free Burgess was made shortly after he was released from the ban of ecclesiastical censure. His principal clerical opponent at this time was Mr JOHN WILLISON, minister of the South Church of Dundee from 1716 till 1750. The greater portion of Mr GLAS'S life after leaving Tealing was spent in Perth; but he returned to Dundee towards the close of his career, and died there on 2nd November, 1773, in the seventy ninth year of his age. His wife, KATHARINE BLACK, whom he married in 1721, had long predeceased him, as she died in December, 1749, having had fifteen children, many of whom lie buried beside her in the Howff of Dundee. THOMAS GLAS, whose name is entered on the Roll beside that of his father, was a bookseller in Dundee, and an ardent supporter of him in his theological controversies. "He was carried off in the prime of life by a putrid fever, after eight or ten days' illness. This was an unexpected stroke to the aged father, and the more severe as he had been for some years an elder in the church at Dundee, and was highly esteemed by his brethren for his faithful discharge of the duties of that office" (Glas's Narrative of the Rise and Progress of the Controversy about the National Covenants, edition 1828, page XVIII.). The romantic and tragical story of another son, CAPTAIN GEORGE GLAS, one of the pioneers of African civilization, who was murdered by his mutinous crew in 1765, is fully related in the Scots Magazine, Vol. xxxv. KATHARINE GLAS, one of the daughters of Mr GLAS, was married to ROBERT SANDEMAN, a linen manufacturer in Perth, who had obtained a liberal education at Edinburgh University, and who afterwards became the chief propagator of the opinions of his father in law both in England and America. The first Glassite Church in London was founded by him in 1760, and his followers are known to this day by the name of Sandemanians. He died at Danbury, Connecticut, on 2nd April, 1771, in his fifty third year, whilst on a proselytizing mission (History and Antiquities of Dissenting Churches, Vol. III, page 275). The congregation established by Mr GLAS in Dundee in 1730 still survives, and has numbered not a few prominent citizens amongst its members. The monumtent erected to his memory over his grave in the Howff bears the following inscription:

Minister of the Congregational Church in this place,
Died 2nd Novr 1773, aged 78 years.
He long survived
his beloved wife (interred in the same grave),
And all his children, Fifteen in number,
Many of whom arrived at mature age, and Nine ly here
beside their parents.
His character in the Churches of Christ is well known,
And will outlive all monumental inscriptions."