The Reverend Peter Dale – minister Houston and Kilallan Parish, (1843-56)

The Reverend Peter Dale was minister of the joint parishes of Houston and Kilallan from his induction on 5th September1843 until his death on 11th December 1856.

He was born in the parish of Torpichen, West Lothian, on 21st September 1808 to John Dale and Jane Walker and was baptised there on 9th October. Nothing is known of his boyhood education but, according to the Fasti of the Church of Scotland, he was later educated at Edinburgh University.

The first reference to Peter Dale as a minister is in 1841. The 1841 census (taken on 7th June that year) records Peter as living in Bloom Village, Livingston, West Lothian.  His occupation is given as Assistant Minister. However, there is no mention of him as a minister in the Kirk Session Records for Livingston Parish Church, nor is he listed in the Fasti of the Church of Scotland as being a serving minister at that time. It appears that he was associated with a parish library which was established in the village of Livingston about 1839. The library, supported by subscription, is recorded as having nearly 300 books. In the proceedings of the Session Meeting of Livingston Parish in September 1841 Mr Dale is referred to as giving up “his charge of the library”.

The Fasti record that, on 2nd December 1841, he was ordained to Milngavie where a new Presbyterian church had been opened in May that year and Peter served as its first minister. Peter’s ministry in Milngavie lasted less than 2 years. The Scotsman dated 2nd August 1843 records that “The Presbytery of Paisley, on Monday last week, gave a call to the Rev Peter Dale, minister of the quoad sacra church at Milngavie to the church and parish of Houston.” On 5th September 1843 he was inducted as minister of the united parishes of Houston and Killellan.

On 26th October 1843, less than 2 months after his induction to Houston parish, Peter went to Londonderry and there married Margaret Hay of Templemore parish. In their comparatively short married life, the couple had 5 children who were:

  1. George Hay Dale, born 26 August 1844.
  2. Jessie Walker Dale, born 14th April 1846.
  3. John William Dale, born 31st January 1849.
  4. Elizabeth Mary Dale, born 10th June 1851.
  5. Wilhelmina Fleming Dale born 23rd September 1852.   Died 1st October 1853.

As previously mentioned, Peter died on 11th December 1856, and was buried on 18th December 1856 within the old Kilallan Church, where a wall tablet records the event.    The report of his death and funeral service in the Paisley Herald and Renfrewshire Advertiser dated 27th December 1856 records that he “was very acceptable as a preacher; and he had the character of being an affectionate and dutiful pastor, and was kind to the poor.”  Margaret died in Londonderry in 1895, aged 84.

This is a brief summary of the ordinary tale of an ordinary family of their times, but one wonders how Miss Hay of Londonderry and the Reverend Peter Dale of Livingstone, Milngavie and Houston got to know each other. Further research might provide an answer.

© June 2016, Gina Fisher