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Robert Rainy

1826-1906. Scottish minister and scholar. Born in Glasgow, he graduated from the university there, studied theology at New College, Edinburgh, and in 1851 became minister of the Free Church of Scotland* at Huntly. In 1854 he transferred to the Free High Church, Edinburgh, and after eight years assumed the chair of church history at his former college, a post he held for the next forty-four years and with which from 1874 he combined the college principalship. Not naturally a controversialist, he found himself nevertheless drawn into great issues of the time. He opposed public lotteries and the Boer War, and was much criticized for his (reluctant) acquiescence in the deposition of W.R. Smith (1881).

Reunion of the Scottish Presbyterian churches was a burning cause with him, and he saw disestablishment of the Church of Scotland as the only expedient way. This brought him into correspondence with a not unsympathetic Prime Minister Gladstone, who in 1895 called him “unquestionably the greatest of living Scotsmen.” He led the Free Church into union with the United Presbyterian Church* in 1900, and his own third moderatorial term was over the United Free Church* assembly. His Three Lectures on the Church of Scotland (1872) completely refuted Dean A.P. Stanley's* astonishing denigration of Covenanters* and Seceders. Rainy's other works included The Bible and Criticism (1878). His funeral, delayed because he had died in Australia, was reported to have been the greatest spectacle Edinburgh had seen since that of Thomas Chalmers in 1847.