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Rev. Duncan 'The North Star' McAllum 

by Ian Duncan McAllum - New Zealand (Ian - please email me as I have two people who wish to contact you - Howard)


Rev. Duncan McAllum, Arrochar

The Rev. Duncan "The North Star" McAllum was a son of Arrochar and a Gaelic Highland Preacher and my 4th great grandfather.

Duncan McAllum was born at Arrochar, Argyllshire in October 1755. His father, also called Duncan McAllum, was a retainer of The Duke of Argyll in the capacity of Tutor and Baille. Little is known of Duncan's early life in Arrochar and where his zeal for preaching the gospel  came from. He started preaching the gospel to the people of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland at the tender age of nineteen. Perhaps Alexander MacFarlane had some influence. He was the Minister who arrived in Arrochar the year before Duncan's birth and passed away some thirteen years later.

The Reverend MacFarlane was a distinguished Gaelic scholar who had translated several Christian works including "Baxters Call to the Unconverted" into Gaelic. Duncan was a self taught scholar, competent in many languages. He held the longest record of service in the Aberdeen Church being first posted there in 1776.

Duncan, penniless more often than not, would trudge the appalling roads in terrible weather, from Aberdeen to Inverness to Cromarty to Speyside. Duncan had long wished to travel to Africa to preach. Wesley's reply to this was "Convert the Heathen in Scotland".

In 1787 Duncan, who Wesley had affectionately named "The North Star", received his ordination to work and administer the sacraments in Scotland. While stationed in Aberdeen Duncan was named in the Deed of Declaration as one of the first "Legal Hundred".

Duncan first met his wife to be, Elizabeth Livingstone, the daughter of Alexander and Katherine Livingstone of Inverness in 1776. Wesley was often a guest in the Livingstone home whenever he was in the North. They were to be married with Wesley's permission seven years later in 1784.

Four of their children died young. Of the others Duncan McAllum, my 3rd great grandfather, became a surgeon. He went on to marry an Eliza Donkin in 1815 and raised a large family in Newcastle. One of their many children was my 2nd great grandfather, Duncan Livingstone McAllum, an accountant and successful businessman who married Phoebe Jane Fenwick from a well known Northumberland family. They raised a large family in Newcastle four of whom emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1880s.

Duncan and Elizabeth's other son was Dr Daniel McAllum MD. Daniel had obtained his medical degree from Glasgow University but in 1817 he decided to follow in his fathers footsteps and become a Methodist Minister. Daniel tragically died in 1827, a contributing factor being the appalling living conditions in "The Shetlands" where he had been stationed. Elizabeth McAllum died after a long illness at Aberdeen on Wednesday 18th November 1812. Her husband Duncan's epitaph for her reads: -


"In the various stations of Life she shone with peculiar lustre,
as a duteous Child, a sincere Friend, an affectionate Wife,
a tender Mother and as a Christian indeed, indeed without guile:
With Virtues blest, and with Afflictions tried,
Calmly she suffered and serenely died."


Duncan was superannuated in 1826 and went to live with his daughter in law, Daniel's widow Mary Killingley McAllum at Churchway, Newcastle. Mary was to tend to Duncan's needs until his eventual death on July 21st 1834. Already struggling with a long term illness and the excessive grief which she suffered from the death of her husband Daniel she suffered an irregular action of the heart. Mary McAllum passed away 17th October 1835 aged but 36.

Of Rev. Duncan McAllum it was stated that perhaps no Wesleyan Minister in Scotland was better known, more generally esteemed or more useful. Among his sincerest admirers were many of the Clergy of The Scottish Church and Professors of the Scottish Universities.


by Ian Duncan McAllum - residing in New Zealand

(Ian - please email me as I have two people who wish to contact you - Howard)

If you know any further information on any of the people referred to in this article please EMAIL us and we can put you in contact with Ian.