Charteris, Archibald Hamilton (DNB12)

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CHARTERIS, ARCHIBALD HAMILTON (1835–1908), biblical critic, born at Wamphray, Dumfriesshire, on 13 Dec. 1835, was eldest son of John; Charteris, parish schoolmaster, by his wife Jean Hamilton. From his parish school he passed to Edinburgh University, where took honours in Latin, mathematics, moral philosophy, natural philosophy, and logic, and graduated B.A. in 1852 and M.A. in 1853.

Entering the Church of Scotland ministry, he was presented in 1858 to the parish of St. Quivox, Ayrshire, but in the following year became minister of New Abbey parish in Galloway, of which James Hamilton, his maternal uncle, had been minister from 1813 to 1858. While there he wrote the biography of James Robertson (1803-1860) [q. v.], founder of the endowment scheme of the Church of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1863; abridged as 'A Faithful Churchman,' in 'Church of Scotland Guild Library' series, 1897). In 1863 he succeeded John Caird [q. v. Suppl. I] as minister of Park Church, Glasgow, where his preaching and his work among the young attracted attention.

After some time spent abroad on account of ill-health, he became, in 1868, professor of biblical criticism in Edinburgh University and retained the post till 1898. He was a conservative theologian, his most notable theological work being 'Canonicity : a Collection of Early Testimonies to the Canonical Books of the New Testament' (Edinburgh, 1880). The book, which is based on Kirchhofer's 'Quellensammlung,' was commended by Hilgenfeld, Godet, and Professor Sanday. He also published 'The New Testament Scriptures : their Claims, History, and Authority' (Croall lecture, 1882), and ' The Church of Christ : its Life and Work' (Baird lecture, 1887, published 1905).

Charteris was mainly responsible for a marked revival of practical Christian effort within the Church of Scotland. He was the founder, and from 1871 to 1894 convener, of the general assembly's Christian life and work committee, which inaugurated many new forms of Christian enterprise. Under his guidance there were originated the Young Men's Guild and the Young Women's Guild. He also revived the order of deaconesses, took a lead in founding at Edinburgh the Deaconess Institution and Training Home, and the Deaconess Hospital. He started (January 1879), and for many years edited, 'Life and Work,' the monthly magazine of the Church of Scotland, which has now an average circulation of 120,000 copies. He also originated and successfully promoted the scheme of 'Advance' in connection with the foreign missions of his church, and rendered conspicuous service as vice-convener of the general assembly's committee for the abolition of patronage and of the endowment committee. He was moderator of the general assembly in 1892. Charteris was one of the royal chaplains in Scotland from 1870. From Edinburgh University he received the hon. degrees of D.D. (1868) and LL.D. (1898). After some years of ill-health he died on 24 April 1908 at his residence in Edinburgh, and was buried at Wamphray. In 1863 he married Catherine Morice, daughter of Sir Alexander Anderson, Aberdeen; she survived him without issue. His portrait, painted by J. H. Lorimer, B.S.A., was presented to the Church of Scotland, and now hangs in the offices of the church, 22 Queen Street, Edinburgh.

[Scotsman, 25 April 1908; Scottish Review (weekly), 30 April 1908; My Life, by Very Rev. William Mair, D.D., 1911, pp. 134-5, 214, 281, 304; private information; personal knowledge. A biography by the Hon. and Rev. Arthur Gordon is in preparation.]

W. F. G.