C: Thomas Pitcairn (1800 – 1854)

Son of a Leith merchant;

In memory of Rev. Thomas Pitcairn Minister of the Free Church Cockpen and Principal Clerk to the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland who died 21st December 1854 in the 55th year of his age and 22nd of his ministry.  Also of his wife Ann Hay Trotter who died 28th April 1862 aged 59 years.  /  Janet Wyld Pitcairn elder daughter of Alexander Young Pitcairn Writer to the Signet born 24th March 1865 died 2nd April 1889.  /  Alexander Young Pitcairn Writer to the Signet born 5th April 1837, died 16th January 1921. Also of his wife Helen Wyld born 23rd January 1842, died 21st January 1932.  Also their youngest son William Andrew Pitcairn born 12th March 1874 died 21st March 1947. Also their daughter Anne Cranstoun Pitcairn born 8th May 1871 died 17th December 1954.

Base: Janet Anderson widow of John Wyld, born 24th October 1817, died 6th November 1904.

Thomas Pitcairn was born in Edinburgh on 6 February 1800, the eldest child of Alexander Pitcairn (1746-1819), and his second wife Jean Trotter (1766-1816).  Alexander Pitcairn was a merchant in Edinburgh and, since 1790, the sole remaining partner in the important Vitriol manufactory at Burntisland. He had three sons and a daughter by his first wife, Elizabeth Low, who died in 1793 aged 28.  He married Jean Trotter in 1795 and they had four sons and two daughters.

Thomas Pitcairn had an imposing array of uncles on his mother’s side as Jean Trotter’s brothers included Thomas Trotter (1753-1819), a Major General in the Royal Artillery; Charles Trotter (1765-1820) who went to India and rose to be a Lieutenant-Colonel in the HEIC (the Honourable East India Company); Young Trotter (1768-1841), paper manufacturer at Broomhouse Papermill, Edrom, Berwickshire; and William Trotter (1772-1833), an upholsterer and cabinet-maker, who was Lord Provost of Edinburgh, 1825-27.  

Thomas Pitcairn attended Edinburgh University and followed a business career for several years before studying for the ministry.  He was licensed to preach in 1828 and served as an assistant at Erskine and then at Perth before being ordained as assistant and successor to Dr Grierson at Cockpen in 1833.  In 1837 he was chosen as clerk of the Synod of Lothian and Tweeddale. As convener of a committee of the Church Law Society, Pitcairn published the Acts of the General Assembly, 1638-1842 (Edinburgh, 1843).

He joined the Free Church at the Disruption and served as minister at Bonnyrigg (within the parish of Cockpen) until his death on 21 December 1854 – the parishioners in Cockpen parish who followed him into the Free Church built a new church at Bonnyrigg. He was one of the principal clerks of the Free Church General Assembly from its inception in 1843.  

Thomas Pitcairn married his cousin Ann Hay Trotter, daughter of Young Trotter of Cruicksfield, Berwickshire, and his wife Jane Cranstoun. Thomas and Ann had three children: Alexander Young Pitcairn (5 April 1837 – 16 Jan. 1921), Jane Cranstoun Pitcairn (17 Jan. 1840 – 2 Oct. 1841) and Thomas Pitcairn (b. & d. 1842).  

Alexander Young Pitcairn was admitted as a Writer to the Signet in December 1861. He married Helen Wyld, daughter of John Wyld, banker, and Janet Anderson, in August 1863.They had five children – the three commemorated here, and two more sons, Thomas (1866-1952), who farmed in South Africa, and John Wyld (1869-?) who followed his father bybecoming a W.S., but was a Planter living in Tobago when his father died.

Sources include:


List of members of the Society of Writers to the Signet at https://archive.org/stream/historyofsociety00socirich#page/162/mode/2up

Archibald Clow and Nan L. Clow, “Vitriol in the Industrial Revolution”, Economic History Review, Vol. 15, No. 1/2 (1945), pp. 44-55

C – Pitcairn grave location


Scottish National Portrait Gallery

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