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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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Dr Patrick Mackay entered St Andrews University at the age of fourteen, gained honours in the literary and philosophical classes, and carried off the Gray prize for the best essay on a subject in Metaphysics. He afterwards studied at the University and New College, Edinburgh, was licenced as a preacher in 1878, acted as assistant to Dr Macdonald of North Leith for nine months, and was ordained minister at Prestonpans in February 1879.
Dr Mackay occupied the position of Free Church minister at Prestonpans fur twenty years, with much acceptance and success. During the period of his incumbency, the congregation doubled in numbers, and greatly increased in material resources, and was noted in the county for the completeness of its organisation, and the energy with which congregational work in all its departments was prosecuted. From the very beginning of his ministry Dr Mackay took the greatest interest in education, and as a member, and for some time Chairman of the School Board, devoted much time and zeal to the educational interests of the parish. He aided greatly in bringing about salutary changes in the administration of certain local well-endowed trusts, by which education, both elementary and secondary, in the parish and district has largely benefitted.
Perhaps that for which Dr Mackay is best known is his interest in our soldiers, and in season and out of season he has sought to deepen in the Church and the community a sense of responsibility for their spiritual welfare. In 1882 he was asked by the Colonial Committee of the Free Church to go to Luxor, Egypt—a place of resort for invalids during the winter months—to inquire as to the suitability of Luxor as a station to be occupied by the Free Church. He arrived in Egypt shortly after the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, and impressed with the need of religious ministrations among the troops volunteered for service as a Presbyterian chaplain. His offer was accepted by Sir Archibald Alison, in command of the Highland Brigade, and he remained with the troops until the Brigade broke up.
In 1887, with the consent of his congregation and Presbytery, Dr Mackay spent a year in India, acting as minister, during the hot season, of the Union Church, Mussoorie, near Landour, a military sanatorium in the North-West Provinces, and afterwards doing evangelistic work chiefly among soldiers. It was in India that he met the lady—Miss Harriet Sprot, a voluntary missionary to the Santals—who became his wife and true helpmeet, and whose labours among the working lads of Preston-
pans will long be held in remembrance. Mrs Mackay is the eldest daughter of Mr Mark Sprot, youngest son of Mark Sprot, Esq. of Garnkirk.
In the spring of 1894 a strike occurred at Prestongrange Colliery, Prestonpans. It lasted some weeks, and threatened disaster to the whole community. Through Dr Mackay's intervention a settlement satisfactory to all parties was arrived at. For this service Dr Mackay received the thanks of the Miners' Federation of Mid and East Lothian, and as a memento of the event the presentation of a watch subscribed for by the workmen at the various collieries.
As a representative social reformer, Dr Mackay was asked to appear before Lord Peel's Commission on Licensing, and gave valuable evidence as to the condition of matters, and the state of opinion in the county.
In the end of 1898, at what he deemed "a call which a servant of Christ may not, without dishonour, decline, " he resigned his charge at Prestonpans, at great personal and con siderable financial sacrifice, and went to India to reorganise the work of the Anglo-Indian Evangelisation Society—a society catholic in its constitution and aim, whose one concern is to care for the spiritual welfare of our own countrymen in India, and there he was "in journeyings often, " preaching as he went, finding out where there were no religious organisations among our countrymen, and endeavouring to make provision for unoccupied fields. It would have been difficult to find a man more capable and devoted, and more fully endowed with the gifts and the graces required for this special work. He remained in India for about three years, and his success in the work was great. He seems to possess in a remarkable degree the faculty of approving himself and his work to all sorts and conditions of men, and he succeeded in interesting in the aims of the Society men of the very highest station in the state, the church, and the army—Anglican and Presbyterian working harmoniously together for the one great end.
A brave heart. may beat beneath a black coat as well as beneath the red or the khaki. At Darjeehling, on a wild night of storm and earthquake, Dr Mackay was one of a noble band who went to the rescue of a family overwhelmed in a fallen house. For the brave work of that night he received the decoration of a golden star, from the lieutenant-governor of Bengal, which will doubtless be handed down in his family as a precious heirloom.
In 1901, pro honoris causa, St Andrews University, of
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