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Charles Ross

Charles Ross (?1831–1892) was the Free Church of Scotland minister in Bon-Accord, Aberdeen and Tobermory, Isle of Mull.

He was born at Rosskeen near Alness, Ross & Cromarty,1 and attended the parish schools of Alness and Kiltearn in that county. He studied at Aberdeen University (MA) and New College, Edinburgh, where he was ‘especially impressed’ by the personality of ‘Rabbi’ Duncan and the lectures of Principal William Cunningham.

According to his fellow minister Rev. Alex. McDiarmid of Morven,2 Charles Ross

was brought to a knowledge of the truth while very young. He could trace back religious impressions as far as his memory could carry him. He had a pious ancestry—a fact which he often recalled with gratitude to God. Grace does not run in the blood, but there is a law of spiritual heredity by which it often descends from parent to child, and of this law Mr. Ross furnished an illustration.

After being licensed for the ministry, Ross acted for some time as assistant to Dr. Charles C. McKintosh of Tain. Then in 1855 he received a call to become pastor of the Bon-Accord Church, Aberdeen, where he laboured for the next fourteen years. He married Ronalda Catherine Flyter, a daughter of the manse, on 19 July, 1855, in Alness.

In 1869 the Free Church congregation of Tobermory gave Ross a unanimous call. Although he was very attached to the Aberdeen congregation, he seems to have been prevailed upon by Dr Candlish and others to accept the call, particularly because of his knowledge of Gaelic, and the long vacancy there had been at Tobermory.

Of his ministry at Tobermory, McDiarmid says,

Mr. Ross was a well-equipped theologian. He made a special study of the Puritans, among whom Goodwin and Flavel were his favourites. But his reading was by no means confined to the Puritans; he largely read and appreciated what is most valuable in modern theological writers. He usually preached three times each Sabbath. His preaching was clear, forcible, and fervently evangelical. Its constant themes were the great doctrines of the cross. He loved to speak of the glory of Christ’s person, the efficacy of his atonement, the riches of his grace, and the necessity of the Spirit’s work.

Examples of Ross’s pulpit ministry can be found in his The Inner Sanctuary, expositions of John Chapters 13-17 preached to his congregation during the spring and summer of 1887, and first published in 1888. He was also active in presbytery and in various Free Church committees, and was elected a member of the local School Board when in Tobermory.

Ross’s first wife, Ronalda died in 1888, and two years later he remarried, to Margaret Buchan Sydserff of Ruchlaw, East Lothian. Charles Ross passed away in May 1892 after briefly suffering from bronchitis and a heart complaint. He is buried in Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, along with his second wife Margaret, who died in 1900.


  1. Ross’s date of birth is uncertain. Some Free Church records state it to be ’about 1826’. According to parish records, a Charles Ross was born to Charles and Margaret (née McKenzie) in Alness on 20 February 1831. Ross’s gravestone states that he died ‘aged 60’, which would make the later date more likely to be the correct one.
  2. The Free Church of Scotland Monthly, October 1892, Obituary, p.253.