Open main menu

William Maxwell Hetherington c.1850
Hetherington's house at 27 Minto Street, Edinburgh
William Maxwell Hetherington's grave, Grange Cemetery

Rev Prof William Maxwell Hetherington DD LLD (4 June 1803 – 23 May 1865) was a Scottish minister, poet and church historian.



He was born in the parish of Troqueer, near Dumfries. After a parish school education, he was intended for a career as gardener, but entered the University of Edinburgh in 1822, Hetherington became minister of Torphichen, Linlithgow, in 1836;[1] in the same year he married Jennie, daughter of the Rev. Dr. Meek of Hamilton (formerly of Torphichen).[2]

In the Disruption of 1843 he left the established church and joined the Free Church of Scotland, and in 1844 was appointed to a charge in St Andrews. He became minister of Free St. Paul's Church, Edinburgh, in 1848. In Edinburgh he lived at 27 Minto Street.[3]

In 1857 he was appointed professor of apologetics and systematic theology in the Free Church College, Glasgow.[2]

He then lived at 13 Oakfield Terrace in Glasgow.[4]

He had a stroke 1n 1862 which forced him to give up ministering but he continued to write until death.[5]

He died at home in Glasgow but is buried with his wife Jessie Meek, who had died in Edinburgh in 1851. The grave lies on the north edge of the north-west section of Grange Cemetery in Edinburgh, under a huge granite Celtic cross by the sculptor John Rhind.


Before completing his studies for the church he published, in 1829, Twelve Dramatic Sketches' founded on the Pastoral Poetry of Scotland, with delineations of scenery and manners.[2]

Besides his poems Hetherington published:[6]

  • The Fulness of Time 1834
  • The Ministers Family, 1838, a popular evangelical work.
  • History of the Church of Scotlandoriginally 1841 but drastically revised following the Disruption of 1843. The book was preceded by an essay On the Principles and Constitution of the Church of Scotland, and reached a seventh edition in 1852.
  • History of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, 1843. It was edited and annotated in 1878 by Rev. Robert Williamson.[7]

In 1844 Hetherington established the Free Church Magazine, which he edited for four years. He also contributed to religious periodicals, especially the British and Foreign Evangelical Review, and published sermons, poems, and some shorter religious works.[7]


  1. ^ Torphichen Kirk 2011.
  2. ^ a b c Bayne 1891, p. 300.
  3. ^ Edinburgh and Leith Post Office Directory 1850-51
  4. ^ Glasgow Post Office Directory 1850-1
  5. ^ Ewings Annals of the Free Church
  6. ^ Bayne 1891, pp. 300–301.
  7. ^ a b Bayne 1891, p. 301.

Other SourcesEdit

  • Wilson, James Grant (1877), The Poets and Poetry of Scotland from the Earliest to the Present Time, p. 262
  • "A thriving congregation in a historic church", Torphichen Kirk, 9 July 2011, retrieved 10 September 2015


External linksEdit