Waugh, Alexander (DNB00)

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WAUGH, ALEXANDER (1754–1827), Scottish divine, youngest son of Thomas Waugh, farmer, of East Gordon, Berwickshire (d. 1783), and Margaret, his wife, daughter of Alexander Johnstone and Elizabeth Waugh, also of the farmer class, was born at East Gordon on 16 Aug. 1754. His father was a zealous presbyterian, with a strong dislike of lay patronage. Waugh was as a child devoted by his parents to the ministry. He was educated at the village school of East Gordon until 1766, when he was entered at the grammar school of Earlston in Berwickshire. He was a high-spirited boy, a good classical scholar, and a skilful musician. In 1770 he entered the university of Edinburgh, and manifested great aptitude for moral philosophy. In August 1774 he passed to the burgher secession academy, under the management of John Brown (1722–1787) [q. v.] of Haddington. After some hesitation Waugh accepted Brown's theological basis of philosophy in its entirety. In 1777 he removed to the university of Aberdeen, and attended the lectures of Drs. Beattie and Campbell. He proceeded M.A. on 1 April 1778, and was licensed by the presbytery of Edinburgh at Dunse on 28 June 1779. Two months later he was appointed temporarily for ten weeks to the secession congregational church of Wells Street, London. This church subsequently became the centre of his ministrations; but at the conclusion of his first term of office there he received a call to the ministry of Newtown in the parish of Melrose, Roxburghshire, to which he was ordained on 30 Aug. 1780. The village was very small and poor, there was no manse, and Waugh continued to reside with his parents, fourteen miles off, at East Gordon. Twice in May 1781 he declined a call to Wells Street, London; but when the call was repeated next year the presbytery of Edinburgh admitted him to the London charge (9 May 1782). His success at Wells Street was immediate and lasting.

Apart from his ministerial duties, his chief activities were absorbed by the London Missionary Society, of which he was one of the original committee, formed on 22 Sept. 1795. He preached at the Tabernacle at the second anniversary meeting on 10 May 1797. In September 1802 he undertook a tour in France on behalf of the mission to ‘promote the revival of pure religion in that country;’ but the renewal of war interrupted his efforts. Thenceforth he made almost annually missionary tours through various parts of England and, after 1815, through Scotland. In 1812 he joined Dr. Jack of Manchester in a missionary tour in Ireland. At Bristol in the same year he formed an auxiliary branch of the society. He sat for twenty-eight years as chairman of the examining committee of the society, and was also a member of the corresponding board of the Society for propagating Christianity in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

In 1812 Waugh was largely instrumental in the enlargement and improvement of the psalmody appointed for church use. He received the degree of doctor of divinity in 1815 from the Marischal College of Aberdeen. Through life he was one of the most effectual friends of Mill Hill school. He died on 14 Dec. 1827, and was buried in Bunhill Fields on 22 Dec., the funeral procession, which included ministers of all denominations, being half a mile long. A marble tablet to his memory was placed in Wells Street Chapel by his congregation.

Waugh married, on 10 Aug. 1786, at Edincrow in the parish of Coldingham, Berwickshire, Mary Neill, daughter of William Neill of Edincrow, and Margaret Henderson his wife. By her he had six sons and four daughters. His wife died on 20 July 1840, aged 80.

There are several portraits of Waugh still extant. The best is a drawing by Wägemann, representing him, half-length, in his doctor's gown and bands. This portrait was reproduced in the memoir by Hay and Belfrage. Tassie executed two gem portraits, one of which was distributed in a cameo reproduction among all branches of his family. There is an oil-painting by an unknown artist now in the possession of Margaret Waugh in Brisbane. A watercolour portrait, by an unknown artist, is in the possession of his grandson, Alexander Waugh of Midsomer Norton, Somerset.

Besides single sermons, Waugh published ‘Sermons, Expositions, and Addresses at the Holy Communion,’ London, 1825, 8vo.

[Memoir of the Rev. Alexander Waugh, D.D., by the Rev. James Hay, D.D. and the Rev. Henry Belfrage, D.D., 3rd edit., Edinburgh, 1839; Family Papers.]

A. W.