Extracted from Journal and Appendix to Scotichronicon and Monasticon, Volume 1, by James F. S. Gordon. Published Edinburgh 1867.

Andrew Carruthers – Roman Catholic priest at Munches, Buittle, and St Peters Chapel, Dalbeattie.

ANDREW CARRUTHERS was born at Glenmillan, near New Abbey, in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, on the 7th of February, 1770. Sprung from an ancient Family, which had preserved the light of the Catholic Faith amidst all the Trials and Persecutions of the last and previous Century, he received the first rudiments of his education in that quiet and sequestered Village, so remarkable for the romantic scenery around it, and for its noble Abbey, the ruins of which presented to his young imagination the glories of former days, and through the Cloistered Aisles of which he was wont in his boyhood to wander up and down, and to explore every nook and corner of its sacred precincts. This circumstance, joined to a thoughtful and serious turn of mind beyond his years, which he evinced, had already earned for him, among his playmates, the name of the "young Priest." This natural disposition, fortified and matured by an inward grace, determined his future destiny; and, with the consent of his pious parents, he resolved to dedicate himself to the Service of God in the Ecclesiastical state.

In the prosecution of this design, having already made considerable progress in the study of the Latin and Greek Classics, he was sent, in the 16th year of his age, to the Scottish College of Douay. He resided there for six years, and during that period, he displayed in the Public Schools of that University a remarkable proficiency in every department of Literature and Science. He had already made considerable progress in his Theological studies, when the storm of the great Revolution that burst upon France in 1792, compelled him to interrupt them, and to make his escape, along with some others of his Fellow-Students, to his Native land, where, with much difficulty, and after incurring many dangers, he at length safely arrived. After a short time spent in superintending the studies at the Seminary of Scalan, where he was noted for the strict order and discipline he maintained, he was sent to complete his Theology in Aberdeen, under the direction of the Rev. John Farquharson, late Principal of Douay, and was there advanced to the Priesthood by Bishop Hay, on the Festival of the Annunciation, 25th March, 1795.

After his Ordination, he was placed as Missionary in Balloch, near Drummond Castle, and had the charge of the Catholics in and about Crieff, and the whole Highlands of Perthshire. This Charge was a very laborious one, on account of the scattered and isolated position of his Flock, which was composed of only a few families, who had remained faithful to the ancient Creed amidst the Mountains and beautiful Glens of that Country. Yet there the young Priest was content to wander on foot from house to house, breaking the Bread of Life, and administering the consolations of Religion to the remnant that still clung to the Faith. On his removal from Perthshire in 1797, he was stationed at Traquair, in Peeblesshire, where he performed the duties of Chaplain to the noble Family of that name, and attended the few Catholics of that District that lay within his reach.

Having remained there for three years, Mr. Carruthers was appointed, in the end of 1800, to the Mission of Munches, the Seat of an ancient Family in his native County, which was then Catholic. Here, besides the duties of Chaplain, he had the Spiritual charge of a numerous Congregation, which assembled for Divine Worship in the Domestic Chapel of Munches House, where he resided. This Property having, some years afterwards, fallen into the hands of Protestant heirs, and the Private Chapel having also become too small for the increasing Congregation, he removed to the neighbouring Village of Dalbeattie, where, in 1814, he laid out a portion of the Funds left to this Mission by Mrs. Agnes Maxwell, the last Catholic Proprietor, in erecting a Chapel and House on a spot of ground which he secured as a Feu. It was not, however, without regret that he withdrew from the hospitable home which he and his Predecessors had so long enjoyed in the House of Munches; and, during his whole life, he continued on terms of the most intimate friendship with that Family.

For 32 years did he labour in this Mission, performing diligently yet unobtrusively, all the duties of a faithful Pastor, and the Congregation over which he presided was, under his vigilant eye, a model of order and regularity. He was most assiduous in instructing the young, and took care that all his people attended punctually their duties of Religion. Though of easy access, and affable to every one, yet he had a sternness and severity of manner that impressed his Flock with a kind of reverential dread of him, insomuch that they were in a manner deterred by his very frown from any dereliction of duty. They were trained to such habits of propriety and reverence in the House of God, and such was the silence and stillness that reigned during the time of Divine Service, that not even a solitary cough was heard.

The duties of his Charge were neither few nor light. For 25 years he had to extend his labours over the whole Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, with the exception of a small portion in the vicinity of Dumfries; and even into the neighbouring County of Wigtown, as far as the Irish Channel. In various parts of this wide District he had Congregations to attend. He formed Stations at Kirkcudbright, at Gatehouse, and at Parton in the one County, and at Newton-Stewart in the other. All these Stations he visited periodically during the time of his Incumbency, with the exception of Newton-Stewart, to which the Rev. Dr. Sinott was appointed in 1825. It may give some idea of the labours he must often have had to undergo, and the distant journeys he had to undertake, when it is mentioned that one of the Stations was 40 miles from his residence, another more than 20, and none less than 12, and that now four Priests divide between them the Charge which he had so long to bear alone.

After the erection of the Chapel at Dalbeattie, he employed part of his leisure hours in improving and embellishing the Piece of ground in the centre of which it was built. On this Ground there is a small rocky eminence, which was useless for all purposes of husbandry. The stony protuberances he covered over with ornamental shrubs; the other parts, where there was any soil, he cultivated and formed into a Flower garden, where, being an excellent Botanist, he collected a considerable variety of plants, in the training and tending of which he took great delight, and every portion of this Garden was so tastefully laid out, that it became an object of curiosity and attraction in that part of the Country - insomuch that if there was a plantation to be laid out, an avenue, a shrubbery, or a garden to be planned, nothing could be done until he had been consulted. In his early years, he had also contracted a great taste for Experimental Philosophy, and particularly for Chemistry, and this Science he cultivated at intervals throughout the whole of his life. His moments of relaxation from more serious duties, he often employed in making Chemical experiments, in which he was generally very successful. He always took care to make himself acquainted with the most recent Discoveries and Improvements in that Department, and during the few years he resided at Blairs College, it was his delight to infuse into the minds of the Students a fondness for these Philosophical pursuits.

Neither did his application to Missionary duties make him neglect the study of Polite Literature. To a most refined taste he joined an extensive and intimate knowledge, not only of modern Literary Authors, but also of the Ancient Classics. He wrote Latin with great facility and elegance. Though he left France at an early age, and never visited that Country in afterlife, yet he spoke French with fluency, and with a peculiar correctness of diction and purity of pronunciation. His Conversational powers were remarkable, his inexhaustible fund of Anecdote made him a welcome guest to every acquaintance ; and when suddenly called upon to speak on any Public occasion, his observations were always singularly apposite and happy. While he lived in Galloway, he commanded the respect and esteem of the Protestant gentlemen in the surrounding Country, who, notwithstanding the difference of his Creed, of which he was an uncompromising though unostentatious Upholder, sought his acquaintance and courted his society.

During his Missionary life he seldom went any distance from home, and was little heard of beyond the tract of Country through which his duties led him ; he was even but little known to his Brother Clergymen, particularly in the Northern part of the then existing Lowland District, probably on account of the remoteness of the Locality where he resided; in consequence of which, he never took any active part in the questions that concerned the Missions generally ; nor did he attend any Meetings of the Clergy, till, in 1827, he was present at the Annual Meeting of the Friendly Society held at Huntly. The judicious and well-timed observations which, on that occasion, he made on the various subjects under discussion, left a most favourable impression on the Meeting, and raised him highly in the estimation of many to whom he had hitherto been a stranger. On returning home, he resumed his usual Avocations among his People, little dreaming that, in a few years he was to be wrested from his beloved retirement, to be placed in a more eminent position, and to exchange the care of one portion, for the Charge of the whole of the Eastern District.

When the late lamented Bishop Paterson, who, early in 1827, had obtained from the Holy See a new Partition of the Ecclesiastical jurisdiction in Scotland, and the establishment of a third Vicariate, was suddenly removed by death on the 30th October, 1831, a considerable delay took place in the choice of his Successor. At length the other two Vicars Apostolic, with the general concurrence of the Clergy, addressed a Supplication to the Holy Father, Pope Gregory XVI., in which they Postulated for the appointment of Mr Carruthers to the vacant Vicariate. In consequence of this Postulation, Briefs were issued on the 13th November, 1832, Nominating him Bishop of Ceramis in partibus Infidelium, and Vicar Apostolic of the Eastern District. His Consecration took place on Sunday, the 13th January, 1833, in St. Mary's, Edinburgh, the Consecrating Bishop being the late Right Rev. Dr. Penswick, then Vicar Apostolic of the Northern District of England, assisted by the Right Rev. Drs. Scott and Kyle, the Vicars Apostolic of the Western and Northern Districts of Scotland.

On his elevation to the Episcopate - a dignity which, so far from coveting, it was with the utmost reluctance he could be induced to accept - Bishop Carruthers immediately began to make himself acquainted with the circumstances and wants of the Flock committed to his charge. The Clergy and Missions of his Vicariate were, at that period, but few indeed. The number of his Priests was only ten - that of his Missions nine, and one of these was without a Chapel; there was no immediate expectation of any considerable accession to the ranks of his Clergy, and no funds for the erection of new Places of Worship. Meanwhile, the Catholics were increasing, if not in opulence, at least in numbers, and altogether the prospect before him was discouraging in the extreme. Yet, relying on Grace and Strength from on High, he did not shrink from the duties of his Office, but busied himself in making all the improvements in his various Missions which the circumstances and the means within his reach would permit. Aided by a Gift of money from the late Mr. Menzies of Pitfodels, who was a munificent Benefactor to the Mission in general, he erected in 1834 the Chapel of St. Patrick, in Edinburgh. Through the exertions of his Clergy, whom he encouraged, and with whom he, in some cases, co-operated in the good work, the Churches of St. Andrew's (1836) and St. Mary's (1851) in Dundee, and those of Stirling, of Falkirk, and of Hawick, were raised. He himself took the direct management in the erection of the Churches of Campsie and Arbroath, and, in accordance with his instructions, a Chapel was bought in Portobello and another in Annan; Houses were purchased in Kirkcudbright and in Forfar, which were converted into temporary Places of Worship, and a site for a Chapel was secured in Leith.

Thus, during his Episcopacy, the state of the District was gradually but most materially improved; the number of the Clergy and Church accommodation for the Faithful were more than trebled. In the erection of so many Churches, he was aided to a great extent by the charitable Grants made of late years to the District by the "Society of the Propagation of the Faith." When he himself had any Pecuniary aid to bestow, he gave it readily and cheerfully, but often in so secret a manner that it may be truly said of him that his left hand knew not what his right hand gave. Out of his slender income as Bishop, he spent on himself barely what was necessary for his most urgent wants, and bestowed a great part of it in works of Charity and for Religious purposes. In drawing up a small Memorandum regarding the Settlement of his temporal matters, he prefaced it by these remarkable words - "I know not that I have anything to leave." In his intercourse with his Clergy, while he wielded with a firm hand the authority which God had committed to him, he was invariably kind, indulgent, and condescending, and by them, in return, he was beloved and revered as a Father.

At length, feeling the infirmities of advancing age, and being sensible that he could not long sustain alone the burden of so weighty a Charge, he determined to apply for a Coadjutor, with whom he might share his labours and solicitudes; and obtained from the Holy See, in 1837, the appointment of the Right Rev. Dr. Gillis, who was Consecrated on the 22d July, 1838. To him he soon afterwards resigned the direct Charge of the Edinburgh Congregations, and withdrew to Blairs College, where he spent nearly four years, continuing, however, to superintend the other Missions of his District as his declining health and length of years permitted him. As Dr. Gillis was frequently obliged to absent himself from the District in order to promote elsewhere the general interests of the Scottish Mission, Bishop Carruthers in 1844 resumed, for some time, his ordinary residence in Edinburgh, till the end of 1849, he retired to Dundee.

During the whole period of his Episcopacy, he was indefatigable in visiting the different Missions in his District, going about from place to place, Administering Confirmation whenever it was requisite, forming plans with his Clergy for the advancement of Religion, and often for their own personal comfort, exhorting and stimulating all, both Priests and people, to active zeal in the sacred cause of God and of his Church. When any pious Work was to be promoted, when any Measures were to be entered into, for paying off or diminishing the debts, with which some Missions were burdened—in a word, wherever he saw the prospect of any good to be done, he never grudged any personal inconvenience, but was always ready to give his countenance and assistance in every possible way. Thus, when the Society of St. Andrew (the object of which is the establishment and support of new Missions in those Localities where the Catholics are, of themselves, unable to maintain a Clergyman), was first projected, he encouraged it by every means in his power, and had the happiness to behold the first fruits of that Society in the foundation of three new Missions. Nor was he less solicitous in promoting the cause of Education; for, when the Academy of Wellburn, near Dundee, was set on foot for affording solid instruction and Religious training to the Catholic youth, he gave to the Undertaking not only his assent, but also his patronage and encouragement, and nothing delighted him more, during his later years, than to watch the progress which that Institution was steadily making. He also took a warm interest in the Education of the poorer classes. This he evinced by his anxiety to see Schools for the Catholic Poor established, and, in a special manner, by his constant solicitude for the success of the United Industrial School in Edinburgh, of which he was one of the Vice-Presidents, and the Meetings of which he regularly attended.

Although, for the last three years of his life, he had fixed his ordinary residence at Dundee, yet during that period he made frequent Excursions, when duty called him, to various parts of his District. It was after one of these Journeys to Edinburgh - the last which he ever made - that the first symptoms of the fatal disease (Typhus Fever) which, in the course of eleven days, carried him off, made themselves manifest. His sufferings he bore with the most exemplary patience, and having received, with the most fervent piety, the last Sacraments, he calmly resigned his soul to his Creator on the evening of Monday, the 24th May, 1852, in the 83d year of his age, the 58th after his Ordination, and the 20th of his Episcopacy. His Funeral obsequies, at which the Right Rev. Drs. Murdoch and Smith from Glasgow assisted, and which were attended by all those of his sorrowing Clergy who could possibly be present, were performed on Friday the 28th following, in St. Mary's Church, by the Right Rev. Dr. Gillis, and his remains were laid in the same Tomb, on the Gospel side of the Altar, which nearly 25 years ago had received those of one of his illustrious Predecessors, Bishop Cameron.

At the conclusion of the solemn Rites, Bishop Gillis intimated that, on occasion of the Clergy assembling again to hold their Annual Meeting, the ancient Catholic custom of celebrating the "Month's Mind" should be revived, for the first time for at least 300 years; and, accordingly, another Funeral Service was Celebrated by the same Prelate at St. Mary's, on Thursday the 8th July following, at which nearly all the Clergy were present, and a Funeral Discourse was delivered by the Rev. John Strain, who was his Successor in the Mission of Dalbeattie. By particular request, the Discourse was afterwards published, and from it the foregoing Memoir has been made up.