Ref David Donaldson :  Percy Terrace to Summerhill


David Donaldson came to Alnwick in the early 1840s and became a leading light of the Presbyterian church and local community for over 40 years.

The Lisburn Street Presbyterian Relief Church was built in 1837. The Rev Peter Glassford, his predecessor was the minister, aged 36  in the 1841 census, so Rev Donaldson must have replaced him some time after that date (later in this page we see probably in 1842)

The Relief Church was a Scottish Presbyterian denomination founded in 1761. Peter Glassford, according to the 1841 census lived at The Haining. Presumably David Donaldson initially moved there when he came to Alnwick and steadily progressed up the street until a manse was built for him in 1881.

  • In 1851 David Donaldson, 34, lived at Hope Terrace with Helen, his wife, 39, and his step daughter Helen Robertson, 18.( They were all born in Scotland)                                                                                            
  • In 1861 he lived at 13 Percy Terrace with his wife and a domestic servant, Mary Straffen, 16.                           
  • In 1871 he lived at Lovaine Place (Lovaine House or 1 Lovaine Place?, the only entry between Percy Villa and 1 South Street) with his wife and Margaret Rennison, 21, a general domestic servant.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
  • In 1881 and 1891 he finally lived in Lisburn Manse (now Summerhill) with his niece Agnes P. Donaldson (b. 1853), housekeeper and Mary Young (b. 1874), general servant.


                                                                                                                           Summerhill as it is now

In 1871 in the account of the AGM of the Mechanics Institute we read that  Donaldson was chosen as a vice-president. “Mr. Donaldson had been connected with the institution for nearly 30 years, had taken in former years an active and useful part in its proceedings, and had always done his utmost to promote its welfare, and his distinguished abilities were known to them all.” 

During 1871 there are notices of his lecture on Sir Walter Scott which Mr Donaldson gave at the Mechanics’ Institutes in Alnwick and Morpeth, and in 1882 at the Presbyterian Church in Felton. This report is from the Alnwick Mercury, 30 December 1882.:

“The lecturer, in the first place referred to the time in which Scott lived, and then confined himself to a critical analysis of his characteristics as a writer of fiction. He did not claim for him to be ranked with Homer, Dante, or Shakespeare, but unhesitatingly placed him in front of Lytton, Thackeray, and Dickens, while he considered it would be odious to make amy comparison between either of these and the weak sensatioal writers of the present day. Scott whatever were his faults was natural, whether portraying the foibles of a monarch or the eccentricities of a serving man, “Nature in varied form unlocked her charms to his magic wand.” The lecturer passed the several characters which appear prominently in Scott’s writings in a panoramic view before the audience which was fully appreciated.” 

On the 25th of July and the 1st of August, 1874 there is an advertisement in the Alnwick Mercury: “To Contractors. Tenders are requred for whole, or for the trades separately, for the ERECTION of a NEW MANSE, for the occupation of the Rev. David Donaldson, in HOPE LANE, ALNWICK.

The plans and specifications can be seen at my office from Monday, the 27th inst., to Saturday, August 8th. Tenders are to be sent to me on or before the 8th day of August. The lowest or any tender not necessarily accepted. FREDK. R. WILSON, Architect, Alnwick, July 21st 1874.” 

On the 9th of November 1876, his wife Helen died at Lisburn Manse.

In 1889 he contributed to a series in the Berwickshire News entitled Pulpit Echoes on the Border – Past and Present. This is the final few sentences from 18th June 1899

: “Although “crowned with glory and honour,” the face and form are those of Jesus Christ, and His heart remains ours, – has neither lost nor laid aside aught of its interest in us, and in our state, amid all the joys and triumphs of His reign. Let none be ashamed of Him, whose love for us is so great, after enduring the trials and sufferings of His life on earth; but let everyone glory in Him as all our salvation and all our desire, and strive to walk worthy of Him and His Gospel.” 

In the Morpeth Herald on the 11 February 1893* there is an article entitled “Ministerial Jubilee at Alnwick”

. “The 203rd anniversary celebration of St. James’s English Presbyterian Church, Alnwick, was possessed of an unusual and peculiar interest, because with it was commemorated the jubilee of the Rev. David Donaldson, minister-emaritus of the congregation, an event unique in the ecclesiastical history of the old Border town. On the 8th February, 1843, Mr. Donaldson was ordained pastor of the Lisburn street Relief Prebyterian Church, Alnwick, and in this position he continued faithfully to minister to the spiritual needs of the congregation until it becaume merged with that of St. James’s a few years ago, when he was appointed colleague to the Rev. Robert Macnair, the pastor of St. James’s congregation.” “On Monday evening a soiree was given in the Corn Exchange, which was attended with great success, there being upwards of 650 people present to tea.” “At an early stage of the proceedings, in which the liveliest heartiness was taken by every one, the Rev. D. Donaldson was presented with two very beautiful illuminated addresses. . . congratulating him upon attaining his jubilee of ministry in Alnwick, while expressing high appreciation of the valuable services rendered by him as pastor.” 

David Donaldson died at the Lisburn Manse, aged 81, on the 30th of October 1898.  

*The article about Donaldsons death in the Morpeth Herald and the Newcastle Courant contains this interesting information.   He was a native of Fifeshire, but his connection with Alnwick dates from 1842, when he was called to the charge of the congregation of Lisburn Street Relief Church, at a time when the district in which the relief church was built was very thinly populated, and the congregation was small. But being an able man and an impressive preacher, his congregation greatly increased through the amount of zeal and enthusaism he threw into his work.” “For the greater part of fifty years Mr. Donaldson was closely identified with the management of the Alnwick Ragged Schools and took the greatest interest in educational matters connected with the town. He was greatly respected and esteemed by everyone. As a litterateur his published discourses discover the highly cultured mind which he possessed, and his essays on literary subjects are of superior merit.” 

On 12 November 1898 we read in both the Morpeth Herald and the Newcastle Journal about his funeral.

“On Saturday afternoon the remains of the late Rev. David Donaldson, Presbyterian minister were interred in the Cemetery at Alnwick. At three o’clock a memorial service was held in St. James’s Presbyterian Church.” “The Rev. Wm. Limont (Old Manse), pastor of Clayport Street Presbyterian Church, delivered an eloquent and impressive address upon the Christian character and life of the late Mr. Donaldson.” Among the people present was Miss A. Donaldson, a niece “who had for years presided over the arrangements of the Manse, and waited upon the deceased in his last hours.”