Antiquary and History Club

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THE SECOND meeting of the session of Arbroath Antiquary and History Club took place in the Public Library on Friday.

Some of the members had watched a programme on David Livingstone and a man John Kirk of Angus was mentioned. It was a surprise to find that speaker Willie Milne was about to speak about the same man who became Sir John Kirk of Barry.

The title of Willie’s talk was ‘To Boldly Go’. He revealed that John Kirk was born in 1832 at Barry where his father was Church of Scotland minister. In the 1841 census John was eight and they lived at Arbirlot where his father was minister. The family had servants and money.

In the 1851 census he was not shown as being at home. He had been at Madras College, St Andrews, and when he was 15 he started at Edinburgh University where he specialised in medicine but was also interested in nature in particular plants.

In 1854, doctors volunteered to help with the wounded from the Crimean War who had been transported to Istanbul, Turkey. John went there and it is possible he met Florence Nightingale who was there at that time.

After returning to Scotland he accepted a post as medical officer and collector of new plants to be sent back to Britain with David Livingstone who was a friend of his brother, Alexander.

He went on the expedition and had many adventures. One of these was being saved from drowning when his canoe overturned and his rescuer was David Livingstone. The expedition lasted from 1857 to 1862.

John left and did work as a doctor and ambassador in Zanzibar. He used his influence and stopped slavery trade with the Arab traders. He returned to Britain and was knighted three times for his work.

George Laidlaw gave the vote of thanks for an informative talk.

The next meeting is on November 25 when speaker Bill Dow will talk about James Watt.