Last week, I mentioned how workmen pulling down a precarious piece of ceiling masonry in the old Barony St. John church building in Ardrossan, North Ayrshire and inadvertently uncovered a “Life & Work” sermon pamphlet from May 1893.

A paragraph from the Our Sunday Firesidesermon reads;

AlwaysDSC01712 in the enjoyment of ample means. A good friend three times said to me that these words, quietly said in a printed memoir, appeared to provoke me. Indeed it was not so. But I was strangely interested. Here indeed is something strange.

I will not say who wrote these words. A good many readers know at once. A good man, writing a memoir to his wife. It was his wife and he who were so singularly well-off. A Scotsman. The son of an Elder of the Kirk: the brother of two Elders. He rose so high, that he could not rise any higher. Big people went down almost on their knees, when they were introduced to him: I mean duchesses and the like. I have seen them: but I did not myself go down on my knees. The most arrogant of Prime Ministers, the great Lord Chatham, bowed so low to men in that Scotsman’s place, that his nose could be seen between his knees: and never looked more arrogant than in so doing.

But who was Prime Minister Lord Chatham that the author referred to?

As this sermon was written in 1893, it would be logical to assume that the Lord Chatham referred to is William Pitt the Younger as he died in 1806 (he was Britain’s youngest Prime Minister in 1783 at the age of 24, left office in 1801 but was Prime Minister again from 1804 until his death in 1806).

But there is a problem with this – he was not the Earl of Chatham as this title fell to his older brother John. I also cannot find any references to William Pitt the Younger being known for his arrogance.

So, although hWilliamPittTheEldere lived over 100 years prior to this sermon being written, I believe the Prime Minister Lord Chatham referred to was the father, William Pitt the Elder, 1st Earl of Chatham who became Prime Minister from 1746 – 1755 and according to his biographer, “his peerage (in 1766) destroyed his image as ‘the Great Commoner’ and he became arrogant, verging on megalomania”.

These paragraphs also had me laughing as they reminded me of Rikki Fulton’s drunken Last Call Reverend revealing;

Elsie was always saying to Jim – of course that wisnae their real names, everybody knew their real names – it was it was wee Sammy Dunn and his wife Nirvanah – just like the author who although unable to say who he is referring to goes on to say he is a well off Scotsman, the son of a Kirk Elder and the brother of two Elders….I’m sure this must have narrowed it down a bit.

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Goodbye for now.

Alan Bell

The Ardross-man

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