Thomas Chalmers DD LLD FRSE (17 March 1780 – 31 May 1847), was a Scottish minister, professor of theology, political economist, and a leader of both the Church of Scotland and of the Free Church of Scotland. He has been called "Scotland's greatest nineteenth-century churchman".
He served as Vice-president of the Royal Society of Edinburgh from 1835–42.
The New Zealand town of Port Chalmers was named after Chalmers. A bust of Chalmers is on display in the Hall of Heroes of the National Wallace Monument in Stirling. The Thomas Chalmers Centre in Kirkliston is named after him.
Age 11 Chalmers attended the University of St Andrews studying mathematics. In January 1799 he was licensed as a preacher of the gospel by the St Andrews presbytery. In May 1803, after attending further courses of lectures at the University of Edinburgh, and acting as assistant to the professor of mathematics at St Andrews, he was ordained as minister of Kilmany, about 9 miles from the university town, where he continued to lecture. Kilmany was a small and predominantly agricultural parish, with a population under 800 in 1811.
Chalmers made an issue within the University of St Andrews of the quality of mathematics teaching. It came to involve attacks on John Rotheram, the professor of natural philosophy. His mathematical lectures roused enthusiasm, but they were discontinued by order of the authorities. Chalmers then opened mathematical classes on his own account which attracted many students; at the same time he delivered a course of lectures on chemistry, and ministered to his parish at Kilmany. In 1805 he became a candidate for the vacant professorship of mathematics at the University of Edinburgh, but was unsuccessful.
In 1815 he became minister of the Tron Church, Glasgow, in spite of determined opposition to him in the town council on the grounds of his evangelical teaching. From Glasgow his reputation as a preacher spread throughout the United Kingdom. When he visited London Samuel Wilberforce wrote, "all the world is wild about Dr Chalmers." At this time he lived at wellington Place in Glasgow.
In November 1817 Chalmers used a memorial sermon for Princess Charlotte of Wales to appeal for a Christian effort to deal with the social condition of Glasgow. His parish contained about 11,000 persons, and of these about one-third were not connected with any church. He considered that parochial organizations had not kept pace in the city with the growing population. He declared that twenty new churches, with parishes, should be erected in Glasgow; and he set to work to revive the old parochial economy of Scotland. The town council agreed to build one new church, attaching to it a parish of 10,000 persons, mostly weavers, labourers and factory workers, and this church was offered to Chalmers.
In September 1819 he became minister of the church and parish of St John, where of 2000 families more than 800 had no connection with any Christian church. He first addressed himself to providing schools for the children. Two school-houses with four endowed teachers were established, where 700 children were taught, at moderate fees. Between 40 and 50 local Sabbath schools were opened, where more than 1000 children were taught. The parish was divided into 25 districts with 60 to 100 families. Chalmers was the centre of the whole system, visiting families and holding evening meetings.
In 1823 Chalmers accepted the chair of moral philosophy at the University of St Andrews, the seventh academic offer made to him during his eight years in Glasgow. His lectures led some students to devote themselves to missionary effort. Among his pupils were William Lindsay Alexander, Alexander Duff, and James Aitken Wylie. At this period Robert Morrison and Joshua Marshman visited St Andrews.
In November 1828 Chalmers was transferred to the chair of theology at the University Edinburgh. He then introduced the practice of following the lecture with a viva voce examination on what had been delivered. He also introduced text-books.
In 1834 Chalmers was elected fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and in the same year he became corresponding member of the Institute of France; in 1835 Oxford conferred on him the degree of D.C.L. At this time he was living at 3 Forres Street on the Moray Estate in the west end of Edinburgh.
In 1834 he became leader of the evangelical section of the Scottish Church in the General Assembly. He was appointed chairman of a committee for church extension, and in that capacity made a tour through a large part of Scotland, addressing presbyteries and holding public meetings. He also issued numerous appeals, with the result that in 1841, when he resigned his office as convener of the church extension committee, he was able to announce that in seven years upwards of £300,000 had been contributed, and 220 new churches had been built. His efforts to induce the Whig government to assist in this effort were unsuccessful.
Chalmers found himself at the head of the party in the Church of Scotland which stood for "non-intrusionism": the principle that no minister should be intruded into any parish contrary to the will of the congregation. Cases of conflict between the church and the civil power arose in Auchterarder, Dunkeld and Marnoch. The courts made it clear that the Church, in their opinion, held its temporalities on condition of rendering such obedience as the courts required. The Church then appealed to the government for relief. In political manoeuvres with Westminster politicians, Chalmers was opposed by John Hope.
In January 1843 the government put a final negative on the church's claims for spiritual independence. The non-intrusionist movement ended in the Disruption: on 18 May 1843, 470 clergy withdrew from the general assembly and constituted themselves the Free Church of Scotland, with Chalmers as moderator. He had prepared a sustentation fund scheme for the support of the seceding ministers.
In 1844, Chalmers announced a church extension campaign, for new building. In 1846 he became the first principal of the Divinity Hall of the Free Church of Scotland, as it was initially called.
Later in life he was quoted as saying: "Who cares about the Free Church compared with the Christian good of the people of Scotland? Who cares for any Church, but as an instrument of Christian good?"
On 28 May 1847 Chalmers returned to his house at Church Hill in Morningside, near Edinburgh, from a journey to London on the subject of national education. On the following day (Saturday) he was employed in preparing a report to the General Assembly of the Free Church, then sitting. On Sunday, the 30th, he continued in his usual health and spirits, and retired to rest with the intention of rising at an early hour to finish his report. The next morning he did not make his appearance, and he was discovered lying dead in bed.
Chalmers was interred in the Grange Cemetery on 4 June, the very first burial in that cemetery. His grave is placed on the southmost boundary, on axes with the central north-south path, closing that vista. A large crowd of persons of all denominations accompanied his remains to the grave. His wife Grace Pratt died 16 January 1850 and is buried with him, as is his daughter Grace Pratt Chalmers (1819-1851) and his other two daughters.
Chalmers's academic years resulted in a prolific literature of various kinds: his writings fill more than 30 volumes. Contemporaries regarded him highly as a natural theologian. A series of sermons on the relation between the discoveries of astronomy and the Christian revelation was published in January 1817, and within a year nine editions and 20,000 copies were in circulation.
As a political economist he first dealt with: the relationship between the degree of the fertility of the soil and the social condition of a community; capital accumulation; and the general doctrine of a limit to all the modes by which national wealth may accumulate. He was the first also to advance that argument in favour of religious establishments which met on its own ground the doctrine of Adam Smith, that religion – like other things – should be left to the operation of the law of supply and demand.
In 1826 he published a third volume of The Christian and Civic Economy of Large Towns, a continuation of work begun at St John's, Glasgow. In 1832 he published a Political Economy, the chief purpose of which was to argue that the right economic condition of the masses is dependent on their right moral condition, so that character is the parent of comfort, not vice versa.
Parochial machinery gave Chalmers experience in dealing with the problem of poor relief. He became an influential thinker on poverty. Chalmers was a Malthusian in his belief that the cause of pauperism was the poor having too many children. He also thought that poor-relief officials should be tenured and business-like; and voluntary taxation was the correct way to support poor relief.
When Chalmers undertook the management of the parish of St John's, the poor of the parish cost the city £1400 per annum, and in four years the pauper expenditure was reduced to £280 per annum. The investigation of new applications for relief was given to the deacon of the district, and an effort was made to enable the poor to help themselves. At this time there were few parishes north of the Forth and Clyde where there was a compulsory assessment for the poor, but the English method of assessment was spreading. Chalmers opposed compulsory assessment as counter-productive, and believed that relief should instead be raised and administered by voluntary means. It has been argued that Chalmers was both a paternalist, on the moral plane, and a supporter of economic individualism.
Critics replied to Chalmers that his approach was impossible in large cities. William Pulteney Alison engaged in controversy with him; Chalmers countered with moral arguments. In arguing that private charity should outweigh public expenditure in relieving poverty, he was one of a group of British writers of the period of similar views, that included also Samuel Richard Bosanquet, Thomas Mozley and Frederick Oakeley. The views from Chalmers and Edinburgh had a notable effect in Wales, though Lewis Edwards, Y Traethodydd, and Owen Thomas.
In his St Andrews lectures Chalmers excluded mental philosophy and included the whole sphere of moral obligation, dealing with man's duty to God and to his fellow-men in the light of Christian teaching. Many of his lectures were printed in the first and second volumes of his published works.
In the field of ethics he made contributions in regard to the place and functions of volition and attention, the separate and underived character of the moral sentiments, and the distinction between the virtues of perfect and imperfect obligation.
At his own request the article on Christianity was assigned to him in David Brewster's Edinburgh Encyclopædia. The separate publication of this article, and contributions to the Edinburgh Christian Instructor and The Eclectic Review, enhanced his reputation as an author.
Chalmers's writings are a source for argument and illustration on the question of Establishment. "I have no veneration", he said to the royal commissioners in St Andrews, before either the voluntary or the non-intrusive controversies had arisen, "for the Church of Scotland qua an establishment, but I have the utmost veneration for it qua an instrument of Christian good."
Chalmers' Bridgewater Treatise, in the series On the Power, Wisdom and Goodness of God as Manifested in the Adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man, appeared in two volumes 1833 and went through 6 editions. As noted by Robert M. Young, these books effectively represent an encyclopedia of pre-evolutionary natural history, commissioned and published whilst Charles Darwin was on board the Beagle.
In the area of natural theology and the Christian evidences he advocated the method of reconciling the Mosaic narrative with the indefinite antiquity of the globe which William Buckland advanced in his Bridgewater Treatises, and which Chalmers had previously communicated to him.
In 1814 Chalmers lectured on the concept of gap creationism, also known as the "gap theory", and subsequently spread its popularity of this idea which he credited to Episcopius. He wrote of Genesis 1:1: "My own opinion, as published in 1814, is that it forms no part of the first day but refers to a period of indefinite antiquity when God created the worlds out of nothing. The commencement of the first day's work I hold to be the moving of God's Spirit upon the face of the waters. We can allow geology the amplest time . . . without infringing even on the literalities of the Mosaic record. . . .",
This form of old Earth creationism posits that the six-day creation, as described in the Book of Genesis, involved literal 24-hour days, but that there was a gap of time between two distinct creations in the first and the second verses of Genesis, explaining many scientific observations, including the age of the Earth. Gap creationism differs from day-age creationism (which posits that the "days" of creation were much longer periods - of thousands or millions of years), and from young Earth creationism (which although it agrees concerning the six literal 24-hour days of creation, does not posit any gap of time).
The "New College", as the Divinity School became known, was a centre of opposition to the Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1844). Chalmers himself did not mention the work, but indirectly attacked its view of development in writing for the North British Review.
The Crane Flat Fire Lookout in Yosemite National Park was built in 1931. An example of the National Park Service Rustic style, the lookout is a two-story structure with a lower storage or garage level and an upper observation level, with an overhanging roof. Design work was carried out by the National Park Service Landscape Division.The lookout was the first in Yosemite, and was still in use in the 1980s. It was designed in the National Park Service Rustic style, and is one of only four similar structures in California, with the Henness Ridge Fire Lookout being the only other in Yosemite. These lookouts were specifically designed to blend with their surroundings, in contrast to the metal towers used by the U.S. Forest Service. The Crane Flat lookout was included in an influential portfolio of park structures assembled by Thomas Chalmers Vint, chief landscape architect of the National Park Service to be used as prototypes for general use.Free Church of Scotland (1843–1900)
The Free Church of Scotland was a Scottish denomination which was formed in 1843 by a large withdrawal from the established Church of Scotland in a schism or division known as the Disruption of 1843. In 1900 the vast majority of the Free Church of Scotland joined with the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland to form the United Free Church of Scotland (which itself mostly re-united with the Church of Scotland in 1929). The House of Lords judged that the minority continuing after the 1900 union were entitled to all the assets. While the denomination clearly had a starting date, in their own eyes their leaders had a legitimate claim to an unbroken succession of leaders going all the way back to the Apostles.The minority of the Free Church of Scotland who continued outside the union of 1900, retained the title the Free Church of Scotland.Goathaunt Bunkhouse
The Goathaunt Bunkhouse was built as a service structure for the Great Northern Hotel Company's development of the Goathaunt site in Glacier National Park. The bunkhouse is the last surviving structure of this era at this location, near the southern end of Waterton Lake. Its design has been attributed to National Park Service landscape architect Thomas Chalmers Vint.The site is at the southern end of Waterton Lake, near the modern Goat Haunt Ranger Station. It was built to house the crew of the M.V. International, a small passenger launch that plied the route between the American and Canadian ends of Waterton Lake.Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent's Residence
The Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent's Residence is a National Park Service Rustic style building, designed in 1921 by Daniel Ray Hull of the National Park Service Branch of Plans and Designs as the park's first headquarters building. The visitor information room was financed by a donation from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle newspaper. The building was altered in 1931 by Thomas Chalmers Vint to be the park superintendent's residence, superseded as headquarters by the Grand Canyon Park Operations Building It is included in the Grand Canyon Village National Historic Landmark District.John Roxborogh
John Roxborogh is a Christian biographer and mission historian living in New Zealand. In April 2008 he retired as Senior Lecturer in Reformed Studies at the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership, previously the Presbyterian School of Ministry, Knox College, Dunedin where he was also responsible for lay and recognised ministry training. He is the author of a major biography of Thomas Chalmers and a life member of the International Association for Mission Studies.
Thomas Chalmers Enthusiast for Mission: The Christian Good of Scotland and the Rise of the Missionary Movement, John Roxborogh, Rutherford House / Paternoster Press, 1999, ISBN 0-946068-49-6.Northeast Entrance Station
The Northeast Entrance Station to Yellowstone National Park, in Park County, Montana, is a rustic log building designed by the National Park Service Branch of Plans and Design under the direction of Thomas Chalmers Vint and built in 1935. The entrance station straddles U.S. Route 212 (US 212) west of Cooke City-Silver Gate. A combined ranger station and residence is located nearby. All buildings were constructed by George Larkin of Gardiner, Montana.Thomas Addis
Thomas Addis Jr. (July 27, 1881 – June 4, 1949) was a Scottish physician-scientist from Edinburgh who made important contributions to the understanding of how blood clots. He was a pioneer in the field of nephrology, the branch of internal medicine that deals with diseases of the kidney. Addis described the pathogenesis of haemophilia in 1911 and was the first to demonstrate that normal plasma could correct the defect in haemophilia.Thomas Chalmers (disambiguation)
Thomas Chalmers was a Scottish divine and a leader of the Free Church of Scotland.
Thomas Chalmers is also the name of:
Thomas Chalmers (rugby) (1850–1926), Scottish rugby player
Dr. Thomas C. Chalmers (1917–1995), proponent of the randomized controlled trial and meta-analysis
Tom Chalmers of Darwin Press
Thomas Chalmers Harbaugh (1849–1924), poet and novelist
Thomas Chalmers Vint (1894–1967), landscape architect
Thomas Hardie Chalmers (1884–1966), American opera singer, actor, and filmmakerThomas Chalmers (rugby)
Thomas Chalmers (19 March 1850 – 25 May 1926) was a Scottish international rugby and cricket player.Thomas Chalmers Harbaugh
Thomas Chalmers Harbaugh (January 13, 1849 – October 28, 1924) was an American poet and novelist.Thomas Chalmers Robertson
Dr. Thomas Chalmers Robertson (15 September 1907 – 11 January 1989) was an author, ecologist and conservationist from South Africa. He was also a war correspondent, and Jan Smuts’s anti-Nazi propagandist during World War II. He was driven by three things: his mission to save the soil (and grasses of Southern Africa), his insatiable quest for knowledge (being regarded by some as a genius), and his equally insatiable hedonism.The T.C.Robertson Nature Reserve situated on the outskirts of the town of Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal is named after him, and he played a role in the development of Ilanda Wilds (a nature reserve in Amanzimtoti to the north of Scottburgh).Thomas Chalmers Vint
Thomas Chalmers Vint (August 15, 1894 – October 26, 1967) was a landscape architect credited for directing and shaping landscape planning and development during the early years of the United States National Park System. His work at Yosemite National Park and the development of the Mission 66 program are among his better known projects, although his influence can be seen in parks across America. Vint's true talents lay in his design elements. These can best be described as rustic, relating to how he was able to harmonize structures with their natural surroundings. Vint was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor conferred for meritorious service to the U.S. government. He was made a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects and American Institute of Architects.Thomas Hardie Chalmers
Thomas Hardie Chalmers (October 20, 1884 – June 11, 1966) was an American opera singer, actor, and filmmaker.Thomas Hetherington
Major Sir Thomas Chalmers Hetherington, (18 September 1926 – 28 March 2007), better known as Sir Tony Hetherington, was a British barrister. He was Director of Public Prosecutions of England and Wales from 1977 to 1987, and was the first head of the Crown Prosecution Service for the year after it was founded in 1986.Thomas Robertson
Thomas, Tom or Tommy Robertson may refer to:
Thomas Robertson (priest) (fl. 1532–1559), Anglican Archdeacon of Leicester and Dean of Durham
Thomas Alexander Robertson (1909–1973), better known by his pen name of "Vagaland", Shetland poet
Thomas Bolling Robertson (born 1950), American diplomat, ambassador to Slovenia 2004–2008
Thomas Campbell Robertson (1789–1863), British civil servant in India
Thomas Chalmers Robertson (1907–1989), author, ecologist and conservationist from South Africa
Thomas William Robertson (1829–1871), Anglo-Irish dramatist and stage director
Hamza Robertson (Tom Robertson, born 1982), English singer
T. A. Robertson (Thomas Argyll Robertson, 1909–1994), Scottish MI5 intelligence officer
Thomas Dolby (Thomas Morgan Robertson, born 1958), musician
Thomas Robertson (minister) (died 1799), co-founder of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Thomas S. Robertson, Scottish-born American professor of marketing
Thomas Graham Robertson, Lord Robertson (1881–1944), Scottish advocateTimber Creek Road Camp Barn
The Timber Creek Road Camp Barn was built in 1931 to support the construction of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park. The design is attributed to Thomas Chalmers Vint of the National Park Service Branch of Plans and Designs. The barn was moved in 2002 and is now used for storage.Tipsoo Lake Comfort Station
The Tipsoo Lake Comfort Station was designed by the National Park Service Branch of Plans and Designs in the National Park Service Rustic style and built in Mount Rainier National Park by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934. The design was supervised by Park Service Chief Architect Thomas Chalmers Vint, and is similar to the Sunrise Comfort Station in the central portion of the park. Located near the park's northern entrance, two comfort station were planned to be part of a developed area in the vicinity of Tipsoo and Chinook Pass, which was never developed beyond the toilet facilities and an entrance arch. One of these survives and remains in use. The public toilet facility features rough stonework to window sill level, with a framed wall above and a log-framed roof with cedar shingles.The Tipsoo Lake Comfort Station was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 13, 1991. It is part of the Mount Rainier National Historic Landmark District, which encompasses the entire park and which recognizes the park's inventory of Park Service-designed rustic architecture.William Collins, Sons
William Collins, Sons (often referred to as Collins) was a Scottish printing and publishing company founded by a Presbyterian schoolmaster, William Collins, in Glasgow in 1819, in partnership with Charles Chalmers, the younger brother of Thomas Chalmers, minister of Tron Church, Glasgow.
Collins merged with Harper & Row in 1990, forming a new publisher named HarperCollins.William Hanna (minister)
Rev Dr William Hanna DD LLD (1808–1882) was a Scottish minister, known as a theological writer and as the biographer of his father-in-law, Thomas Chalmers.