THE REV. JAMES CRICHTON JACK
On resigning his charge at St. Johnís, Jersey, solely through the continued ill-health of his wife, the Rev. J. Crichton Jack took up his residence in Alderley Edge, Cheshire, in September, 1910, but some time after removed to Heaton Moor, a beautiful residential suburb within the bounds of the Borough of Stockport, in order that his daughter, whose residence is close at hand, might give attention to her mother. The week after his arrival in Alderley Edge he had a visit from a Press Reporter, who interviewed him, and the following appeared in "The Alderley and Wilmslow Express" of September 17th, 1910: ---
Alderley Edge has evidently attractions for Ministers. The quiet rural aspect, with pleasant and beautiful walks and balmy air, help to rest the minds of those who have been long engaged in heavy mental work. Of some who have come to reside in this beautiful Cheshire village is the Rev. J. Crichton Jack, Minister of St. Johnís Independent Church, Jersey, who has just resigned his Charge on account of the serious condition of his wifeís health.
According to family records Mr. Crichton Jack has a noble ancestry. He is a direct descendant on his fatherís side of Ian Mac Ian, one of the Lords of the Scottish Isles, and Chief of the Macdonald Clan that suffered severely in the Massacre of Glencoe in 1692. At the time of the massacre the Chief was killed, but his son Ian fled north-east to Braemar, which at that time was a small highland clachan in the wilds of the Grampian Mountains, but is now a well-known and celebrated summer resort patronized by Royalty. He had not been long in this quiet, secluded spot, when he heard that the Campbells were pursuing him and had got on his track. He therefore with all haste left Braemar, making his way south over the Cairnwell, the highest road across the Grampians, and reached Blairgowrie in the Valley of Strathmore. As he was then in the Lowlands he changed his name to John Jack, being the English of the Gaelic name Ian Mac Ian. He, however, did not remain long in Blairgowrie. He went east along the face of the southern range of the Grampians to the small town of Alyth, where he settled down, married, and built some property, forming three sides of a square, in what was known as the "West Quarter," which can still be seen, and is entered by a large iron gateway. On the house on the left-hand side of the square can be seen his initials "J. J.," cut in the stone lintel of the entrance door. From that stock does the Rev. J. Crichton Jackís family come.
His maternal grandfather was William Crichton, of Newton Castle, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, a descendant of the Admirable Crichton of world-wide fame, who, it is said, was born at Clunie Castle on Loch Clunie, a few miles west from Blairgowrie. Mr. Crichton lived the quiet life of a country gentleman, giving some attention to agricultural pursuits. One of his sons studied engineering, and his advice was often sought during the surveying and laying out of railroads in the northern part of the kingdom in the early part of the last century. When the Perth and Dundee Railway, which crossed an extensive old stone quarry near Dundee, with over 30 feet of water in it, was finished, the Railway Company could not get one of their men to drive the first engine and passenger train on the railway on account of the deep and wide quarry hole it crossed, which was considered very dangerous. Mr. Alexander Crichton was approached, and knowing the strength and safety of the line at once consented to drive the train. He had thus the honour of driving the first passenger train from Perth to Dundee over what was then regarded as a large and dangerous quarry hole.
Mr. Jackís father settled in the modern village of Newtyle, in which he was a Fenar [Feuar*], situated at the foot of Kilpurnie, on the Sidlaw Hills. He was connected with the Church of Scotland, but left it with the congregation at the disruption in 1843, and took an active and leading part in the formation of the local Free Church. The son was therefore brought up under pious influences, and was well instructed in religious knowledge. He had to take notes of sermons, commit to memory the Shorter Catechism, various portions of the Psalms, and other parts of Scripture, and rehearse the whole to his father in the family circle every Sunday night before worship. His mind was thus stored with doctrinal knowledge and Bible truth. Parental authority was exercised and had to be obeyed, and as he looked back to those times, he felt thankful for the training he had received.
In his early boyhood he had many serious thoughts about salvation and an eternal world, but they seemed to be fleeting. Boyish games and romping companions were apparently effective in driving away religious thoughts. In the summer of 1860 there were great revival meetings held on the South Inch of Perth attended by thousands of people. Mr. Jack, then a young man in his teens, walked ten miles to attend these meetings. He listened attentively and prayerfully to each speaker. His conscience was aroused, and he inwardly felt he was a lost sinner, as he listened to the earnest telling gospel address of Captain Trotter, of Dyrham Park, Barnet, one of those who addressed the meetings. Late that night he walked the ten miles back to Tullybelton, weeping and crying for mercy. For five days he was in deep distress of soul, agonizing in prayer, and doing everything he could think of that would, as he thought, make himself better so that God would have mercy on him and save him. It seemed all in vain, for instead of getting better he felt he was getting worse. In despair he returned to Perth on the Saturday and attended all the meetings on the Sunday. There was a tent for the anxious on the South Inch to which he went, which was full of persons like himself, anxious about their souls. He was spoken to by several, but no light seemed to break upon his mind, and he left the tent without a ray of hope in his soul. Between the hours of public worship he wended his way to the Guild Hall, where there was a meeting for the anxious. He was kndly spoken to by the Rev. John Milne, of Free St. Leonardís Church, Perth, and through him he was led to give up his strivings and doings to be saved, and instead to accept Christ as Godís free gift, and in Him he found the salvation he sought. A new light had dawned upon his mind and his heart was filled with gladness. He rejoiced, and went on his way rejoicing. He returned that night to Tullybelton a saved sinner, with Christ in his heart and the hope of heaven in his soul. He had now a great desire to tell others the way of salvation that they might be saved. He began to hold meetings in cottages, and gave an account of how he was brought to a knowledge of the truth. There was, through the meetings held in Perth, a spirit of enquiry throughout the district, and the meetings he held were largely attended, and much good was done. Sometimes the cottage would be too small for the crowd that gathered, and the meeting would be held in the moonlight in front of the cottage. There were many anxious who were led to Jesus as their Saviour.
In early manhood he devoted himself entirely to the Lordís work. He established a Mission in the city of Carlisle in 1862, where he laboured for a number of years with much acceptance, and had the friendship of the leading Christians, including the late Dean Close, and the active help of the late James N. Carr, of biscuit fame, T. H. Hodgson, Clerk of the Peace for the county of Cumberland, Peter James Dixon, Jardine Carruthers, and others of influence at that time in the border city.
He married Isabella, the fourth daughter of William Buttar, of St. Martinís , Perthshire, who surrendered herself to Christ in the revival of 1859. Her father was a very pious man, and an Elder of the Free Church at Collace during the ministry of the Rev. Dr. Andrew Bonar. She entered at once with heart and spirit into the work of the Mission in which her husband was engaged, giving great assistance in visiting, helping the poor, and in many other ways rendering great aid to the Mission. Mr. And Mrs. Jack have three sons and one daughter. The sons are ordained Ministers settled over congregations.
Through the success of the Mission and the advice of friends, he went to College and studied for the work of the Ministry. After the requisite course of study, and passing successfully the necessary examinations in languages, literature, philosophy, and theology, he was ordained, in 1875, Minister of Victor Street Presbyterian Church, Grimsby, which he had gathered and organized, and for which, with the assistance of friends, backed by his friend the late Dr. W. P. Mackay, of Hull, he erected a neat and substantial place of worship.
With the fishermen of Grimsby he was very popular. Many of them were members of his Church, and every summer during the "Fleeting Season" he visited the fleets on the Dogger Bank in the North Sea, and spent three weeks amongst them, visiting a smack each day, talking personally with the men about their soulís welfare, conducting evening worship in the cabin with the crew, and sleeping the night on board. This was pioneer work to "The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen," and had beneficial effects on the fishermen. When he left Grimsby he was presented at a public meeting with a purse of sovereigns and a beautifully illuminated framed address, amid many expressions of sorrow at his removal from the town. The wording of the illuminated address is here given:--
"To the Rev. J. Crichton Jack, Minister of the Presbyterian Church of England, Grimsby.
Rev. and Dear Sir,---
Knowing that you have decided to remove to another sphere of labour, we cannot allow your connection with us to terminate without expressing our love and esteem for you as a Christian gentleman and a Gospel Minister, and our appreciation of the valuable services you have rendered to the cause of Christ in establishing the first Presbyterian Congregation in this town. You came to Grimsby six years ago unknown to any of us, and commenced a Presbyterian service in the Temperance Hall, when your pulpit abilities soon drew around you a considerable congregation.
Within a year after your first service, the foundation stone of the Church was laid, and the whole amount for the building and site has been raised and paid, and that through the zealous and energetic efforts of yourself and friends. The Sabbath School which you established, and in which you have taken a deep interest, now numbers about 300 scholars, and the young men and young women of your Scripture Class will ever have cause for thankfulness for the knowledge of the Scriptures which you have communicated unto them. The congregation which you have gathered have sat under your ministration of the Word of God with the greatest pleasure, delight and profit, and deeply regret that they are now to lose your services.
We ask you to receive this address along with a purse of sovereigns from the congregation and friends, as a token of our gratitude for the blessings received through your ministry, and we pray that the richest blessing of God may ever rest upon you and your family, and that your ministry may be abundantly successful in your future sphere of labour."
(The address was signed by the Testimonial Committee on behalf of the congregation).
In 1880 Mr. Jack accepted a call to West Church, Duns, Berwickshire. The Church was large, being capable of seating 800 persons, with a membership of 400. Here good work was done both among the young and old. He gathered together a band of warm-hearted and devoted Christians, but there was not that sphere for evangelistic work which he desired. Some years after he accepted a unanimous call to the Free Church at Chapelhall. Here he laboured for ten years, preaching with earnestness and fervour to attentive congregations, and established Missions in the surrounding villages. He had a band of young men who were converted, and these he led out to conduct meetings and give addresses in the villages. Some of them are now in the Ministry. His work created work, and he could not overtake it all. With the aid of a grant from the Home Mission Committee, a probationer was secured to assist in the work. Mr. Jack had a very strenuous life, and the vast amount of work which he created and carried on eventually told upon his nervous system. It is no surprise therefore to learn that he had serious break-downs. He spent some weeks in the Crieff Hydropathic, where he was benefited by the treatment he there received, and by medical advice he afterwards crossed the Atlantic Ocean for the benefit to be derived from a sea voyage. He also traveled through different parts of the United States and Canada, and preached for several Ministers in these countries. He returned to his Church with renewed vigour. About a year after circumstances arose which led him to resign his charge and return to the United States. He was settled for a number of years at Sterling Valley, in the Presbytery of Caledonia, in the fruit belt of New York State. It is a very beautiful and fertile district on the shores of Lake Ontario. There he had a fine Church with tower and fine-toned bell, a commodious parsonage and a glebe which included an extensive apple orchard.
But religious literature and not glebe land was more to his liking. He therefore accepted and held for some years a good and remunerative position on the staff of "The Interior," of Chicago, the name of which has been changed to "The Continent," a high-class Presbyterian weekly owned by McCormick and Co., of reaper and binder fame. His work in connection with this weekly paper brought him in touch with many ministers for whom he was always ready to preach, and help those who were settled in difficult fields.
Shortly after his return to England, he was called to the Pastorate of St. Johnís Independent Church, Jersey, where he laboured indefatigably, and gained the hearty approval and goodwill not only of his own flock, but of the whole community. Last year (1909) the Centenary celebration of the Church was held, and for this he wrote the history of the Church and its work, which was published in pamphlet form. It was the first Nonconformist Church erected in the Island outside the town of St. Helier. The Sunday School was the second one established in the Island, and its Centenary Services were held in May, 1910, when hallmarked silver medals specially struck with the picture of the Church on one side and a suitable inscription on the other were presented to the scholars.
From "The Jersey Weekly Post" of Sept. 10th,1910, we cull the following:---
"The St. Johnís Independent Church was crowded on Tuesday night on the occasion of the service that was being held to bid farewell to the Rev. J. Crichton Jack, the retiring pastor, and to extend a warm welcome to the Rev. S. Hartley, his successor. The evening meeting was preceded by a tea at 5:30, which was attended by practically all the Church members with a large number of friends, the hall of the Church being well filled. The chair was taken by Mr. H. Vibert, who was supported on the rostrum by the Rev. J. C. Jack, Rev. S. Hartley, and several of the Free Church Ministers. After the singing of a hymn, and an opening prayer by the Rev. J. M. Ridge, the Chairman, in the course of a short speech, referred to the severe loss their Church was sustaining by the departure of the Rev. Jack, who, throughout his four yearsí ministry at St. Johnís, had endeared himself to everybody by his sterling qualities.
The meeting was then addressed by the Rev. H. T. Brumwell, Superintendent of the English Wesleyan Circuit, who also spoke in felicitous tems, not only of Mr. Jackís work in the Church, but also of his personal character. The departing minister had devoted himself to his work from the first day of his coming to Jersey, and the reulst of his labours would never be effaced.
Addresses were also given by Revs. R. Scrymgeour, J. M. Ridge, W. A. Grist, O. P. Rounsefell, and A. Le Tissier, while Mr. Samuel Heath, of Manchester, who is well-known at St. Johnís Church, and who had come over specially for the meeting, also spoke of Mr. Jackís high Christian character and work.
The Rev. J. Crichton Jack then made his farewell address. He was received with loud applause, his congregation at times being visibly affected. In thanking the Chairman and his brother Ministers for the very flattering expressions they had used towards him, he referred to his work at St. Johnís during the past four years. It was true he had worked hard, but it had always been for him a labour of love, and he had always received the greatest help and encouragement from his congregation. He based his ministry upon the words of the Bible and took his stand on the Holy Book. It had been so all through his life, and he would never change in that respect. He was more than grateful for the many acts of kindness which had made his stay amongst them so pleasant and enjoyable, and whatever happened to him in after life, he would always look back on his associations with Jersey, and particularly with his Church at St. Johnís, with the happiest memories. Mr. Jack throughout gave a most earnest and impressive address, which was heard with the greatest attention and interest. He concluded by asking his friends to extend to his successor the hearty and loyal support and co-operation which he (the speaker) had been favoured with.
During the evening solos were rendered by the Misses Picot and Poch. Mrs. C. C. LeQuesne presided throughout at the organ. The proceedings terminated shortly before ten oíclock with the Benediction."