William BIGGARAge: 59 years1650–1709
- William BIGGAR
William Biggar was an elder at Ettrick Parish during the pastorate ofReverend Thomas Boston. The following comments were taken from " Memoirs of the Life, Time andWritings of the Reverend and Learned Thomas Boston, A.M."
" In July (1709) I met with the piercing trial (of the death) of WilliamBiggar, brother of James, who having gone along with me to communion atPenpont died there. He was a most kindly, pious, good man, unlike thecountry, an elder also, and most useful in his office........
"He died in the hopes of eternal life, through Jesus Christ. Among hislast words were, 'Farewell, sun (to the best of my remembrance),moon,stars; Farewell dear minister; and Farewell the Bible;' which lastwords especially made great impression on me. He blessed God, that everhe had seen my face; which was no small comfort to me especially in theseheavy circumstances. Thus the Lord pulled from me a good man, acomfortable fellow-labourer; and a supporter, or rather a supporter of mein my troubles in this place. He was always a friend to ministers, afast friend to my predecessor.......
" Though he was a poor man, yet he always had a brow for a good cause,and was a faithful, useful elder; and as he was very ready to reprovesin, so he had a singular dexterity in the matter of admonition andreproof, to speak a word upon the wheels, so as to convince with acertain sweetness, that it was hard to take his reproofs ill. Much ofthat time I had a very ill habit of body, and wondered how I was kept upunder the burden. It was a complication of griefs; to his poor widow andchildren and to me and my family, etc.
"My part of it was - 1. That he died abroad in my company at a sacrament;2. The great loss of him to the Lord's work in the parish, andparticularly in his quarter, the most unruly of the parish, etc..
Due to the support of William and his brother James, the Reverend Bostonwas moved to bless the family as follows;
"May the blessing of God, whose I am and who I serve, rest on them fromgeneration to generation! May the glorious gospel of His Son catch themearly, and maintain its ground in them to the end; of the which I haveseen some comfortable instances already! Several of them have, of lateyears been carried off by death; but they have been comfortable to me intheir life, and in their death too."
From the above "blessing" we have the reason that the name " Boston " wasbestowed upon the Free Church congregation in the Scotch Block from the15th of December in 1845. Andrew Laidlaw became a significant advocateof the Free Church concept. This was yet another schism withinPresbyterianism in Canada. This was the time of the Disruption in theChurch of Scotland in the homeland. This body would not submit to Statecontrol. In a similar manner state funds had been received by their ownminister in Esquesing at an earlier date, which had led to thosedisapproving of this aid forming their own Seceder Church with the nameof United Presbyterian Church in the Scotch Block. They built in 1844,on land belonging to the farm of John Stewart Sr. Lot 8 Conc. 4 West,not far from the other church which had earlier been built on AndrewLaidlaw's farm nearby. The Disruption as it took place in Upper Canadacan be viewed as a further protest against State assistance to churches. At a meeting of the Session on October 20th 1844, Andrew Laidlaw saidthat he could not remain any longer in connection with the Church ofScotland as an elder, or member and tendered his resignation. Bothcongregations claimed the meeting house, but is was amicably arrangedthat both should have the use of it, but at different hours on theSabbath.
The new congregation of "The Synod of the Presbyterian Church in Canada"needed a name. In the Canada census for these years, one finds thedesignation F.C. (Free Church) . Rev Wm. Rintoul of Streetsville namedthe organization "Boston Church" . There is an acknowledgement that 'Mr.Rintoul probably knew that James Laidlaw Sr., and his three sons Andrew,James and Walter, came from Ettrick (where Reverend Thomas Boston hadbeen the pastor) and believed that as "Mr. Boston's valuable writingscontributed much to promote the advancement of vital Christianity",'Boston Church' would be a very suitable name". See pp.46 & 48 in"Records and Memories of the Boston Church 1820- 1920 ".
It seems clear to me that we now "know the rest of the story" as theblessing had a significance to Andrew and his brothers James and Walter.Indeed we know about the blessing of Rev. Boston from the first page ofthe family bible of James Laidlaw Jr. , a copy of which was given to mybrother Ross Laidlaw Anderson by the late John Ross Laidlaw on 26February 1974 when visiting at his home in Grimsby, ON.
The description by the Reverend Thomas Boston of the last hours ofWilliam Biggar suggest that he died of a stroke. His probable age about65. William was probably born about 1650. I think that we have an account here of an ancestor in our Laidlaw linewhich predates our Will (of Phaup) Laidlaw born 1691.
A remarkable story of one's six - greats grandfather!
We can speculate that William's wife's name was Helen due to the Scotsnaming tradition.
H.S.Anderson 6 February 2000.