Loudoun Kirk

Copyright Friends of Loudoun Kirk © 2015

The life of Hugh Brown initially appears unassuming. He was born 1803 in Newmilns to Hugh Brown and Ann Lindsay, and like many citizens of the Valley, he became a weaver. He had no more than a education common to working classes but had a thirst for knowledge beyond reading, writing and arithmatic so became self-taught. Even after the long working shifts, he still found time to attend evening classes. The village library supplied much of his reading requirements, however he assumed a taste for poetry and much admired Byron whose death led him to give vent to his feelings which he addressed to the editor of the Scots Magazine. His verses found a place together with the editor's remarks “The the spirit of Burns still hovers among the peasantry of his native county of Ayr, we think will be manifest from the following letter and verses, which have lately been sent to us from an Ayrshire village, by one of the same class to which Burns belonged......” His lines “To the memory of Byron” were copied into several newspaper of the day. A short extract from TO THE MEMORY OF LORD BYRON.

The harp of the minstrel is hung in. the hall,

And his fleeting existence is o'er ;

And still are its strings, as it sleeps on the wall,

Like the fingers that swept it before.

His eye, once so bright, has been robbed of its fire,

His bosom once wild as the wave,

Which the shrill note of liberty's trump could inspire,

Or the heart-thrilling tones of the well-swept lyre,

Is silent and still as the grave.

Hugh Brown had now gained support from the local community, who considered him of superior intellect. He soon left his work as a weaver and accepted a position as teacher at Drumclog school, the scene of battle which the Covenanters overthrew Claverhouse. This was the inspiration for one of his best known poems “The Covenanters”. His term at Drumclog finished and he accepted a post at Barr school in Galston. . He married Janet Allen, in 1833 and as far as we know, had only one daughter Agnes, born around 1835. Even teaching, he still found time to study, absorb Latin & French and write poetry. His poem “The Covenanters”, with several others were published in 1838 by J Symington & Co, Glasgow.

After teaching in Galston, he took up a post in Lanark followed by another post in Lanark when a new school was built for him. He retired to Glasgow and ended his life in obscurity and poverty in Garscube Road, Glasgow and his death was registered by his daughter, Agnes. An extract from “The Covenanters”

ere Loudoun Hill lifts high its conic form,

And bares its rocky bosom to the storm,

Time's varying change has come o'er man;

but, thou Stand'st with immortal nature on thy brow !

As when the Roman soldier gazed on thee,

Abrupt, and frowning in thy majesty,

There Caesar's sentinel his vigil kept,

And Rome's proud legions in thy shadow slept;

There the tired eagle, like a guiltless thing,

Paused in its flight and drooped its weary wing;

Beneath thy brow their flag of death was furled,

Whose life was war, whose empire was the world.

Hugh Brown (1803 - 1885)

Drumclog School