Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Macleod, Norman (1812-1872)

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MACLEOD, NORMAN, D.D. (1812–1872), Scottish divine, eldest child of Norman Macleod, D.D. Glasgow [q. v.], and Agnes, daughter of Maxwell of Aros, chamberlain of the Duke of Argyll, was born at Campbeltown, Argyllshire, where his father was then parish minister, on 3 June 1812. His early education was obtained at the Campbeltown Burgh School. At the age of twelve he was sent to board with the schoolmaster of Morven, of which parish his grandfather, another Norman, was minister. In 1825, on the removal of his father to Campsie, Stirlingshire, he became a pupil at the parish school there. In 1827 he entered Glasgow College, where his career was not specially distinguished, logic being the only subject in which he gained honours. In 1831 he went to Edinburgh to study divinity under Chalmers and Welsh, by the former of whom he was much influenced. On Chalmers's recommendation he was appointed tutor to the only son of Henry Preston, esq., of Moreby Hall, Yorkshire, which post he held for three years, sometimes residing at Moreby, sometimes travelling with his pupil on the continent, and finally bringing him with him to Edinburgh, when he returned thither to prosecute his studies. In October 1835 he resumed work at Glasgow College; in May 1837 became a licentiate of the church of Scotland, and on 15 March 1838 was ordained parish minister of Loudoun, Ayrshire, being presented by the Dowager Marchioness of Hastings. He quickly gained the affection of his parishioners, and his church became crowded. In the non-intrusion controversy, which was raging at this time in Scotland, he was one of ‘the forty’ who advocated the adoption of a middle course between the ‘evangelicals’ and ‘moderates,’ such as was afterwards embodied in Lord Aberdeen's bill, which declared that presbyteries might decide on the suitableness of presentees to the parishes to which they had been presented. In 1843 Macleod published a pithy pamphlet on the controversy, entitled ‘Cracks about the Kirk for Kintra Folk,’ which had a large circulation, and was followed by two similar pamphlets. When the disruption took place in 1843 he remained in the church, and was offered parish after parish left vacant by the secession. He accepted Dalkeith, co. Edinburgh, and was inducted there on 15 Dec. 1843. In addition to very active and successful parochial work, he now began to take a prominent part in the general business of the church, specially in foreign missions. He was one of the founders of the Evangelical Alliance in 1847. In 1849 he became editor of the Edinburgh ‘Christian Instructor,’ in which many of the papers which he afterwards wrote for ‘Good Words’ first appeared in an embryo form. In July 1851 he became minister of the Barony parish, Glasgow, into the immense work of which he threw himself with great ardour. He devised many schemes for ameliorating the condition of the people, establishing the first congregational penny savings bank which had been started in Glasgow; opening refreshment-rooms for working men, where they would be free from the temptations of the public-house; building new school-houses, and a mission church for the poor, to whose services only those were admitted who came in working clothes. He was soon known as one of the most eloquent preachers in Scotland, and in 1857 was appointed chaplain to the queen, with whom, as with the royal family, he became a great favourite. Her majesty expresses her warm admiration of his preaching in ‘Leaves from the Journal of our Life in the Highlands’ (p. 147). In 1858 the university of Glasgow conferred on him the degree of D.D. ‘Good Words,’ a monthly magazine mainly, although not exclusively, devoted to religious topics, was established in London in 1860, with Macleod as editor, and quickly achieved success. He wrote for it many papers, stories, and sketches, which afterwards appeared in book form. In 1864 he was appointed convener of the India mission of the church of Scotland, in which he had for years taken a deep interest. In the same year, in company with his brother and his publisher, Mr. Strahan, he made a tour in Egypt and Palestine, of which he published an account in 1866, under the title ‘Eastward.’ Next year he became involved in a bitter and unpleasant controversy on the Sabbath question. In his opinion the authority of the Jewish Sabbath was insufficient as a basis on which to rest the observance of the Lord's day, which he considered an essentially different institution. He published the substance of a speech which he made on the subject in the Glasgow presbytery (Glasgow, 1865), and it was a long time before the excitement aroused by it died out. In 1867 the general assembly appointed him, along with the Rev. Dr. Watson of Dundee, to visit the mission stations in India, where he was warmly welcomed by the representatives of all the churches. On returning, he delivered a speech on the subject in the general assembly of 1868, and published it under the title ‘An Address on Missions.’ Another result of the tour was ‘Peeps at the Far East,’ which first appeared in ‘Good Words,’ and was separately published in 1871. He seems never to have entirely recovered from the fatigues of this journey. In 1869 he was moderator of the general assembly, and did much to help on the movement for the abolition of patronage in the church of Scotland. In 1871 his health seriously declined, and on Sunday, 16 June 1872, he died in his house in Glasgow. He was buried at Campsie.

Macleod was one of the most notable ecclesiastics that Scotland has produced, an eloquent preacher, an earnest philanthropist, a high-minded patriot, a man of broad and catholic spirit, a writer of no mean order, and a genial friend. Several monuments were raised to his memory. His Mission Church in Glasgow was made the ‘Macleod Parish Church.’ The Barony congregation built a ‘Macleod Memorial Missionary Institute’ in a destitute part of the parish. A statue of him was set up in Glasgow, and Queen Victoria placed two beautiful memorial windows in Crathie Church, where he had often preached before her.

Macleod married, in August 1851, Catherine Ann, daughter of William Mackintosh of Geddes, Nairnshire, and sister of John Mackintosh, whose biography he wrote in 1854, under the title ‘The Earnest Student.’

Besides the works referred to already and several sermons, he wrote: 1. ‘A Plea for Temperance,’ 1843. 2. ‘A Catechism for Children on the Doctrine of the Headship of Christ,’ 1844. 3. ‘The Home School,’ 1856. 4. ‘Deborah,’ 1857. 5. ‘The Gold Thread,’ 1861. 6. ‘The Old Lieutenant and his Son,’ 1862. 7. ‘Parish Papers,’ 1862. 8. ‘Reminiscences of a Highland Parish,’ 1867. 9. ‘The Starling,’ 1867. 10. ‘Wee Davie’ (written in two sittings, and of which twelve thousand copies were sold in a week), 1864. 11. ‘Simple Truth spoken to Working People,’ 1866. 12. ‘How can we best Relieve our Deserving Poor ?’ 1867. 13. ‘The Temptation of our Lord,’ 1872. 14. ‘Character Sketches,’ 1872.

[Memoir, by his brother, Donald Macleod, 2 vols. London, 1876.]

T. H.