General > The Reverend John Glas and the "Glassites...
The Reverend John Glas and the "Glassites"

Without doubt, Tealing's most famous Minister was the Reverend John Glas. He was born in Fife in 1695 and came from a family of Ministers. He studied at the universities of St Andrews and Edinburgh and in 1719, shortly after he was first licensed to preach, he became Minister at Tealing. In 1721 he married Catherine Black, daughter of the Rev John Black of Perth.

Soon after his ordination he began to vent opinions, then strange in Scotland, regarding the National Covenants, the relationship between the Church and the State and the right of the latter to interfere in matters of religion. His views brought him into direct conflict with the Church Courts and caused a schism that reverberated throughout Scotland. On 13 July 1725, he formed a society of 74 people to exercise discipline and hold monthly celebration of Communion in his preferred manner.

Since such heresies could not be ignored, he was brought to the bar of his Presbytery in 1727 to explain himself. He made an honest and explicit statement of his views and denied the divine authority of the Presbyterian form of Church government. His Presbytery suspended him in April 1728 and after long process, his views led first to his suspension by Synod, and ultimately in March 1730, to deposition by the Commission of the General Assembly.

In the same year, he set up an independent congregation in Dundee, supported by families from Tealing including Baxter, the jute manufacturer. He gave his name to his followers, who became known as "the Glassites". In 1733 he went to Perth, where he opened a church in the face of much opposition. He was joined there by a young man Robert Sandeman, who became his son-in-law, and from whom the sect is better known in England and America as the "Sandemanians". John Glas then ministered in Edinburgh, finally returning to Dundee.

During his lifetime the demise of his son Captain George Glas and his family devastated him. Captain Glas, born in 1725, made several voyages to the West Coast of Africa and the Canary Islands. In 1765, aged 40, he was "thrust through the body from behind" by mutineers on board their ship heading back to London. His wife and daughter begged for mercy, but they were thrown overboard and drowned. A chronicler later said "the death of his son, daughter and granddaughter was the most remarkable trial whichever befel Mr Glas".

The Rev, James Glas died on 2 Nov 1773 in Dundee, aged 78. He had survived his wife and all of their fifteen children. Mr and Mrs Glas were interred in the same grave in the Howff, Dundee, and nine of their children lie beside their parents.

That a small village like Tealing was connected with such a remarkable series of events is surprising enough, but another of our Ministers was also a rebel clergyman. The reverend Walter Tait was Minister of Tealing Parish Church from 1797 to 1813, when he transferred to Trinity College, Edinburgh. He was afterwards charged with heresy and, being convicted, was then deposed by the General Assembly. He founded a sect that became known as the Catholic Apostolic Church. An observer later wrote "these showed strong dissenting, schismatic proclivities in a small and rather sequestered parish, where they would not very readily have been expected; but the unity of the parish did not suffer any very serious or permanent damage from them".

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