Stirling, Robert (DNB00)

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STIRLING, ROBERT (1790–1878), divine and inventor, was born in Perthshire in 1790. He was licensed by the presbytery of Dumbarton on 4 July 1815, and, being presented to the second charge at Kilmarnock in Ayrshire by the commissioner for the Duke of Portland, was ordained on 19 Sept. 1816. On 20 Jan. 1824 he was translated to Galston, Ayrshire, where he remained for upwards of fifty-three years. He received the honorary degree of D.D. from the university of St. Andrews on 11 Jan. 1840. On 30 May 1842 he was suspended with nine others by the general assembly from his judicial functions in the presbytery and the other higher courts for holding communion with the deposed ministers of Strathbogie, but was reinstated on 1 March 1843. After two years of failing health he died at Galston on 6 June 1878. He married Jane, eldest daughter of William Rankine, wine merchant, Galston, on 10 July 1819. By her he had three sons, Patrick and William, civil engineers, and David, minister of Craigie in Perthshire.

On 16 Nov. 1816 he took out a patent (No. 4081) for an engine which produced motive power by means of heated air, and on 1 Feb. 1827 and 1 Oct. 1840 he took further patents (Nos. 5456, 8652) of the same nature. One engine of 45-horse power was actually constructed on his model and employed for three years in driving machinery at the Dundee foundry. He also constructed many optical and other scientific instruments.

[Kilmarnock Standard, 8 June 1878; Scott's Fasti Ecclesiæ Scoticanæ, II. i. 116, 176; Ward's Men of the Reign, p. 852; Woodcroft's Alphabetical List of Patentees.]

E. I. C.