D MONSIGNOR PAUL MACLACHLAN
Monsignor Paul Maclachlan was undoubtedly one of the most zealous and efficient
of all the missionaries who laboured in Scotland in the last century.
He was born at Balnacnockan, in the Braes of Glenlivet,
on the 18th September
1805. In March 1819 he was admitted into the Seminary of Aquhorties. Just
three years later he was sent to the Petit Seminaire of St Nicholas at Paris.
In 1827 he went to Issy, and in 1829 to St Sulpice.
In the following year his health became so seriously
affected that he was
obliged to return to Scotland. He entered Blairs College in June 1830, and
after completing his theological course, was ordained priest by Bishop Paterson,
in Edinburgh, on the octave-day of the Assumption, 1831.
His first charge was the newly opened mission of Campsie.
This embraced the
villages of Torrance, Lennoxtown, Kilsyth, Milngavie, and Kirkintilloch, with a
total Catholic Population of a thousand souls. But the entire county of
Stirling came under his care, and in its whole extent he found neither chapel,
school, nor presbytery.
Whilst administering to the sick during the cholera
epidemic of 1832, he caught
the disease himself. But soon after his recovery he continued his missionary
journeys, and opened a Mass Station in Dunfermline. Afterwards he began to
minister to the Catholics that were dispersed over Clackmannanshire and a large
part of Perthshire and Fife. His parish now stretched from Milngaviee to
With a view to the more efficient working of the vast
district confided to him,
he went in the course of 1834 to reside in Stirling, as a more central position.
Hitherto he had been obliged to assemble his people in private houses or rented
halls, but now he felt there was a need for something more permanent. To obtain
money for a church and presbytery in Stirling he went on appeals to richer
parishes in England and Ireland. The church in Stirling was opened on Trinity
Sunday 1838 and two years later he was able to write to Bishop Carruthers that
the debt on the mission of Stirling had been paid off to the last farthing.
In January 1840 he was relieved from the care of the
Campsie district, and
turned his energies to places nearer home, to Falkirk, Linlighgow, Boness and
Bathgate. He built a church and presbytery in Falkirk and took up residence
there in 1843. The Rev William Bennet took over the Stirling parish. In 1847
he obtained an assistant, the Rev Robert Cameron, who tragically died of cholera
three months later in January 1848. Fr. Maclachlan contacted the disease
himself for a second time and almost died. He alsos suffered from Rheumatic
Towards the end of 1851 he was once more relieved of part
of his charge by the
erection of Linlightow (with Boness and Bathgate) into an independent mission.
In 1853 he opened a Catholic School in Falkirk.
At the beginning of Lent 1856 he returned to Stirling and
remained there for the
next twenty years. The Catholic population of Stirling at that time was about
one thousand five hundred. Alloa (Catholic Population 150) and Doune (Catholic
Population 130) were both served from Stirling. IN 1863 Alloa got a priest of
its own, the Catholic Population there having risen to 600. Within a month from
this his life was once more in danger from scarlet fever. Bishop Strain urged
him to retire to St Marys in Dundee and take thing easy, but he would not.
He had long been anxious that the Catholics of Doune
should have a resident
priest. He built there a commodious presbytery and a church, which was opened
at the end of 1875. In March 1876 he was permitted to take up his abode there,
as a charge better suited to his age and increasing infirmities. From Doune he
served the Catholics in dunblane, Blackford, and Auchterarder. He built a
chapel and dwelling-house in Dunblane intending to retire there but he died
before this could happen.
In 1881 he celebrated his golden jubilee. In
November 1882 he was made Vicar
General of Dunkeld Diocese. In March 1883 he was given the title of Monsignor.
He died on the 21st August 1883. The funeral service took place at Doune on
24th. He was buried in the grave-yard at Dunblane Cathedral. A magnificient
Cross marks the spot.
Apart from his missionary journeys he published a number
of pamphlets in defence
of the Church. He engaged in controversy in various papers especially The
Stirling Observer, He contributed articles to The Dublin Review,
Edinburgh Review and for a time was correspondent to the Paris Universe.
One who knew him well wrote in a local paper of how
gentle and courteous he was,
of his great learning, of how devoted he was in the service of his people, of
how ample and brilliant he was in conversation
These details about him are taken from The Catholic
Directory of 1885.
Incidentally, the founder and first editor of the Directory was his cousin, Dr