The Thom Family
An historical and photographic perspective
 
The Rev. William Thom of Govan
Minister of Govan 1748-1790
 
The Works of the Rev. William Thom, Late Minister of Govan, 1799 (29Mb pdf)
 
The Works of the Rev. William Thom, Late Minister of Govan, 1799 (29Mb pdf)

My grandmother was of the Thom family, of whom Minister Thom of Govan became famous for his eccentricities

A tradition existed in our family that we originally sprang from the Macdonalds of the Isles, that three of that clan came to the lowlands, the better to conceal themselves, and changed their names to Adam, probably on account of their adhesion to the cause of Prince Charlie. One of them became a retainer of the Lord Kelsythe who was attacked for loyalty to the Pretender and had to flee to France for his life, and whose property was confiscated (Ed. note: in 1716). My grandfather came from Kelsythe and my grandmother was of the Thom family, of whom Minister Thom of Gavin (should read "Govan") became famous for his eccentricities, so all our family had a warm side for the unfortunate Pretender. - from the Memoirs of William Laird Adam, grandson of Charles Adam and Janet Thom and great grandson of James Adam and Mary Thom. Mary Thom was the Rev. William Thom's sister.

 

“John Couper, born 25th August 1677. He also resided at the Tower of Banheath. In November 1708 he married Margaret Thom, a relative of the Rev. William Thom of Kirkdale, minister of Govan, celebrated for his wit and eccentricity and had issue” - from Couper Family, Ratho History

Then we learn that “John Couper, the elder son (of William Couper, the ancestor of the Ayrshire branch of the Coupers of Fairfield), resided at the tower of Banheath, in the county of Dumbarton. He married, in January, 1676, Christian Gray, by whom he acquired property, and who survived him. He died March, 1687, having had issue, John Couper, the eldest surviving son, born 25th August, 1677. He also resided at the tower of Badenheath. In November, 1708, he married Margaret Thom, a relative of the Rev. William Thom of Kirkdales, minister of Govan, celebrated for his wit and eccentricity, and by her had issue.” Badenheath seems to have afterwards become the property of the Keiths, who owned it in 1822. One of them was raised to the Peerage by the title of Baron Keith of Badenheath. He is now represented by the Baroness Naime. The lands were then sub-divided and sold, the tower being bought by the late Mr. Duncan. One of his daughters is married to Mr. Murdoch, banker, formerly of Kirkintilloch, now of Dundee. - from Kirkintillock Town and Parish, The Tower of Badenheath, Electric Scotland

John Couper and Margaret Thom (possibly William's aunt) were married on Nov 16, 1708, in Kirkintilloch, Dunbarton. - Ancestry.com. Scotland, Select Marriages, 1561-1910 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014. They had at least five children: John (born Nov 12, 1709); William (born Aug 5, 1711); Robert (born May 28, 1713); Christen (born Dec 5, 1714); and Margaret (born March 4, 1722).

 
William Thom & Grizel Scot

William Thom (son of James Thom and Margret Wat) married Grizel Scot on Oct 7, 1753, in Govan. They had at least five children: James (born Nov 24, 1754); David (born Sept 30, 1755), William (born Dec 9, 1756); Charles (born Jan 3, 1758); and Grizel (born Jan 14, 1760). - from Scotland's People and Family Search Community Trees


William Thom Lawful Son to the Reverend Mr. William Thom & Grisel Scott, Dec 9, 1756
William Thom Lawful Son to the Reverend Mr. William Thom & Grisel Scott, Dec 9, 1756
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William Thom was an eccentric minister of Govan

William Thom (1710-1790) was an eccentric minister of Govan who through a series of satirical pamphlets published in the 1760’s criticised the University of Glasgow and its professors including Adam Smith. Recently Thom has become the object of serious interest and several commentators have pointed to him as a notable publicist and reformer. William Thom received his M.A. degree from Glasgow University in 1732 but waited years for a parish of his own, until in 1746 the University presented him to nearby Govan. He had a lawsuit with the University (which he lost) over a matter of a chalder of meal in the amount of his stipend, and there was scarcely any act of, or any absence of action by, the University which did not form a text for one of his pamphlets or letters.

Here in this pamphlet continues a sarcastic attack on an address by the University to the King in 1762 on the birth of the Prince of Wales. “The ‘learned gentleman’, who is given all Adam Smith’s characteristics, offered ‘to encounter personally the public ridicule which, it is said, the address had caused’. Evidently Thom had heard some rumour of Adam Smith being asked to write an address. In fact he had got the facts inverted – it was the previous address of 1760 which Adam Smith had drafted, for that of 1762 he was one of a small committee”. Scott

“Wrangling with his patrons over a dilapidated manse, a meagre stipend and what he saw as University mismanagement occupied him for years...Thom has a pronounced evangelical outlook and impeccable Popular party credentials. Thom’s opposition to church patronage would mark him as a Popular party man, but his friendships, his views on church and state politics, and his ethical and spiritual beliefs also reveal that allegiance”.

- Hamish Riley-Smith, Rare Books & Manuscripts

William Thom graduated from Glasgow University with a Masters in Arts in 1732.

 

William Thom, Minister of Govan, was a virulent critic of Glasgow University

William Thom, Minister of Govan, was a virulent critic of Glasgow University. This ironic pamphlet expressed the feeling that the education given in the University did not keep pace with the needs of the times - 'we reckon Logic and Metaphysics ... are to the greatest Part of Students quite unintelligible; and if they could be understood, we cannot for our Life discover their Use.' It was this feeling which caused John Anderson, Professor of Natural Philosophy at Glasgow University, to plan his own University in the city, which would in particular provide a scientific education for skilled artisans. - from Scottish Thought and Letters in the Eighteenth Century, University of Glasgow Special Collections

Appeal of the University of Glasgow

From the Annals of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1739-1752
From the Annals of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1739-1752, pg 102, 1747

Commission Meeting in November


From the Annals of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1739-1752, pg 106, 1747

Of the succeeding ministers, the most eminent were... William Thom

Of the succeeding ministers, the most eminent were Hugh Binning (1649-54), Alexander Jamieson (1659-62), William Thom (1746-91), and M. Leishman (1821-74). Mr Binning became, in 1646, at the age of nineteen, Regent of Philosophy in Glasgow University, and minister of Govan three years later. He is said to have been one of the ministers who was present at a dispute held at Glasgow with Owen and Cary;, the chaplains of Oliver Cromwell, during the Protector's visit to Glasgow in 1651, and on that occasion his boldness and quickness were too much for the Independent divines, and caused Cromwell to inquire who that learned and bold young man was. On being told, his remark was, 'He hath bound well, indeed, but this [his sword] will loose all again - 'Mr Thom was an active and vigorous minister, and became popular, notwithstanding a considerable amount of feeling caused by a dispute about his settlement. It seems to have been customary at that time to let vacant farms by a sort of public roup, the highest bidder becoming the tenant, and as the bidders were generally well plied with drink beforehand, the rents in many cases were exorbitant, and out of all proportion to the value. This system Thom denounced in plain and energetic language, while, as a method of relief for the farmers and cottars, he warmly recommended emigration, particularly to North America, which he looked on as destined to become the future centre of the British Government... Thom's Library, founded by the widow of the Rev. William Thom, minister of Govan from 1748 to 1790, the books being lent out to parishioners on payment of a very small subscription... - Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, edited by Francis H. Groome and originally published in parts by Thomas C. Jack, Grange Publishing Works, Edinburgh between 1882 and 1885.

William Thom married Agnes McKechnie in Glasgow on April 7, 1780. The marriage was also recorded in Govan on April 17, 1780.

April 17, Rev. Mr. William Thom & Agnes McKechnie
April 17, Rev. Mr. William Thom & Agnes McKechnie

William Thom died in Glasgow on Aug 8, 1790 at the age of 80.

The Will of William Thom, 1790, Hamilton & Campsie Commissary Court

The Will of Reverend William Thom of Govan, 1790
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... Margaret Thom Widow of John Fairlie farmer in Kilsyth, Mary Thom spouse of James Adam in Banton and him for his interest, And Janet Thom relict of Charles Handyside Brewer in Bridgeness Which Margaret, Mary and Janet Thom are Sisters Germain and nearest in kin of the deceast Mr. William Thom, Minister of Govan...

Map showing Kilsyth and Banton, John Grassom, 1817
Map showing Kilsyth and Banton, John Grassom, 1817

Sensitive to the American cause...


From Enlightened Evangelism: The Life and Thought of John Erskine by Jonathan Yeager, Oxford Univ. Press, 2011

Thom's Library

The widow of the Rev. William Thom, formerly Minister of Govan, founded this Library...
The widow of the Rev. William Thom, formerly Minister of Govan, founded this Library...
From Catalogue of Thom's Library, Govan

The Last Will & Testament of Agnes McKechnie was dated March 10, 1818

 

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