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John Gunn
DIED 31 May 1876

From Lynn Craig 1 March 08
John Gunn (mentioned below) who died in 1876 had a son James, who had 5 sons, one of which was a famous missionary. I thought you might be interested in his obituary I found recently in the Scotsman online.

From Lynn Craig - Nov 2007
We have a copy of the obituary of John Gunn who died 1876, and its says he was evicted from Auchencraig. I am sending you a copy of my transcription from the paper which I thought might be of interest to you, if you know anything about Marion we would be pleased, especially as we think she had a daughter in 1839 and yet the inscription says she died in 1837 - the daughter is shown in the 1841 census, also named Marion:

Death of John Gunn, one of the "Men" of the North

There died at .....Latheron Wheel, s.....d on the 31st May last, John
Gunn, in his 89th year, one of that class of godly "men" deservedly
held in high esteem in the North for a long period of time.

The subject of this brief notice was born in Auchencraig, a small
village on the southern confines of the county of Caithness, and on
the Estate of Langwell but long ago depopulated by means of that
wicked system of clearances which has done so much mischief in the
North. He passed his early years engaged in such occupation as was
common in the district; but at a very early age he joined a body of
men raised in the county at that time to defend their native shores
from the dreaded invasion of America or France with whom this country
was engaged in deadly conflict. Shortly after this he had taken a
tour to the south, and enlisted as a substitute in the Aberdeenshire
militia where he served upwards of ten years. He was offered
promotion repeatedly during his ten years service; but he declined the
honour preferring to be free from such duties, and engaged in working
through the county when he earned good wages, workmen being very
scarce at that time, through the constant drain on the population
during the French war.

By this time he got married to Marion Sinclair, a blooming modest
young maiden from the neighbouring village of Badbea. On the defeat
of the great Napoleon and his imprisonment in Elba,(1805) John Gunn
obtained his discharge and returned to his native place, and settled
down on a piece of ground at Badbea where he spent 27 years of a happy
and contented married life; and was the father of 11 children - five
sons and six daughters. He was possessed of more than the ordinary
amount of intelligence and smartness and was looked up to by the whole
surrounding district as a wise, judicious and sensible man. Many a
perplexed person found his way to John Gunn and sought his counsel and
advice. One amusing case of this kind may be mentioned. A widow woman
came to him one day to ask his advice on some subject, and said, "I
have come to ask your advice, John and if your opinion agrees with
mine, I will take your advice; if not, I will take my own." "Well,"
replied the good man, "if you have made up your mind to that effect it
is a pity you troubled yourself by coming to me."

Had he received the amount of education common in our day it is hard
to say what a position he might have occupied. The only schooling he
ever got was from Ann Fraser, a worthy dame, who went from village to
village teaching the youth, but whose qualifications would scarcely
entitle her to occupy that important position in our day. He never
put pen to paper in school; and yet so expert was he in writing, that
he became the letter writer for the whole neighbourhood, and could
speak the English language perfectly, and without the slightest
grammatical error. After settling down in Badbea, he became miller of
Ousdale mill. He never served a day to the business of a miller, but
that made no difference to him. He could turn his hand to anything
which came his way. He was a millwright, engineer, mason, joiner and
everything. He was a man full of courage and kindness, and many a
poor and distressed person he helped to console and comfort. He never
shrunk from what he considered a duty, however difficult to perform;
and had the deeds of bravery performed by him been done in our day,
the party would have been rewarded by the highest award of the humane

It is only necessary to mention one case of this kind to prove the
truth of what has been said. A widow Duncan lived in Badbea at one
time, and a son of hers, a boy of about ten years of age, while
amusing himself about the high cliffs so common at Badbea, slipped his
foot and fell over the rock which was at this particular part very
high. He could be seen resting on a ledge of the rock down below, and
the waves driven with great fury by a southeast gale against the rocky
coast threatened to engulf the helpless youth. The whole population
of the district congregated at the scene of the accident, but none
could be found of sufficient courage to attempt a rescue. The rock
was almost perpendicular, and no-one ever ventured to scale it. And
the sea was in such a state as no boat could live in it. John Gunn,
who was Miller at Berridale at this time, was sent for as the last
resort. At once he started for Badbea, a distance of 3 miles. On
arriving there he repaired to the scene of the accident and without
the least hesitation, commenced the descent, got down, seized the
helpless youth, who showed some signs of life, placed him on his
shoulder, binding him to his own body by a rope previously provided,
and began the perilous ascent. The spectators at top looked on with
baited breath as they saw the brave and generous man climbing up the
face of that perpendicular rock, when one false step or one loose
stone would have hurled both the rescued and the rescuer to
destruction; but he succeeded in carrying his precious charge safely
to his mother's house, and laid him bleeding and wounded on his
mother's knee. Yet such an act of bravery was allowed to pass without
the slightest notice, while the brave generous hearted man risked his
own life to rescue a fellow creature. The face of that rock was never
scaled by a human being either before or after this.

He was a man possessed of an iron constitution capable of standing any
amount of fatigue. As a pedestrian he outstripped all in the
neighbourhood. On one occasion he travelled the distance between Wick
and Badbea, 33 miles, making a mile every 13 minutes, though he had
passed the three score years - a task difficult enough to a young man
who accompanied him. On another occasion, on returning from Glasgow,
where he was paying a visit to a son, he arrived per steamer at Wick
at 10 o'clock at night, but instead of remaining there all night, he
started for home, where he arrived at 3 o'clock - a distance of 21
miles; and he was in his 83rd year at the time.

He was a man of sterling principle, honest and honorable in all his
dealings with is fellow men and noted for his love of truth. Often
have people been surprised on hearing him relate the incidents of his
sojourn in the south, and though they had heard the same story 20
times over, there never was one word of variation. He was also
possessed of the most retentive memory, and anything coming once
before him never was forgotten.

During the 27 years he lived in Badbea his house was a home to all who
came the way, especially to God's people, and on sacramental occasions
as many as ten or twelve people, from a distance on these occasions,
found a home and entertainment at his fireside from the Thursday to
the following Monday; and while there is no intention of introducing
his kind hearted and generous wife into this brief notice, it is but
justice to say that she most cordially and cheerfully entered into the
spirit of her husband in these matters. At what particular period of
his life he underwent the great change from death as to life it is not
known, as his whole life was one smooth and unbroken course of the
purist life which it was possible for anyone to live on earth; but
that the change had in reality taken place was manifest to all and he
was looked up to and considered by all who knew to be a true disciple,
though he did not take upon himself (being of an unassuming human
nature) the position of a public speaker till within the last thirty

Between himself and his worthy neighbour John Sutherland (John Badbea)
an undying friendship and attachment existed. For many years he led
the singing at John's meeting, which he praised much; but he was of a
very liberal spirit, and was no separatist, but recognised the
ministry of the church as a divine institution, which he never failed
to honour or acknowledge as such. During the ministry of the Godly Mr
McDonald, Helmsdale, John Gunn was there summer and winter, and in all
weathers he could be seen crossing the Ord to hear Mr McDonald. A man
near Helmsdale, whose house he had to pass every Sabbath, used to say
to his family - "There is John Gunn and his folk, all the way from
Badbea" (a distance of 8 miles)" and you are not ready yet."

After leaving Badbea he took the farm and mill of Milton, Dunbeath,
where Alexander Gair was his next door neighbour. Sandy and he very
soon became attached friends - a friendship which lasted till death
separated them. Many a happy and pleasant evening they spent together
and though they held different views on some points, there never was a
jarring word between them. Shortly after this John removed to the
Estate of Latheronwheel, and was elected an Elder in Latheron Free
Church under Mr Davidson's ministry. He began also about this time to
take his place as a speaker to "the question" on the Friday's of the
Communion; and although he did not attain to the fame of John Badbea
or Alex.Gair, he was considered by all who knew him as a good speaker,
quaint, pointed and scriptural in his remarks and well versed in the
doctrines of God's holy word.

He was of a cheerful, happy and contented disposition, always ready to
take the most favourable view of things, whether of a temporal or
spiritual nature. Nothing gladdened his heart so much as to hear of
the spread and prosperity of the Redeemer's Kingdom; and when the
shower of revival blessing, which spread over Scotland in '59 reached
as far north as Caithness, he espoused it with his whole heart and
soul, and recognised in it the mighty doings of the Great King. Many
a weary and heavy laden soul he was the means of leading into peace
and often did the midnight hour find him engaged in directing some
troubled anxious one to the Star of Bethlehem. He inaugurated a young
men's prayer meeting at Latheron, where he presided day after day, and
was loved and respected by those young people he was the means of
bringing together as a father and he esteemed them as his children,
which not a few of them were in a spiritual sense. He was the only
one of the "men" in that district who took part in the work and
because of this he lost the favour of some of these "men", but he
heeded it not. He was willing to spend and he spent for his Master's
sake and suffer reproach and persecution if need be for the cause he
cherished so much.

Latterly his strength began to fail him and he was missed from the
Friday Fellowship Meeting; then it became difficult for him to go the
length of Latheron church on the Sabbath, but he never complained. He
had covenanted to the Lord long ago to take with contentment whatever
He chose to put in his lot. He never allowed a complaint of murmur to
pass his lips. Latterly it became evident to his family and friends
that the end was not far distant; there was a mellowness and ripening
for another world going on from day to day. There was a peace and calm
composure of spirit making it evident that his pilgrimage journey was
drawing to a close and that soon he would be at rest in his Father's
House. About the middle of May he took ill and was confined mostly to
his bed during the time of his illness. The doctor who saw him said
the whole system was giving way and had resolved into heart disease.
he had no pain but a good deal of difficulty breathing,; but he was as
pleasant and as cheerful as ever and not a cloud crossed his sky. He
passed away on the morning of the 31st May like the setting of the
glorious sun on a calm summer's eve, and his gentle spirit winged his
flight to that blessed land where the inhabitants are never sick and
where the weary are at rest.

He was followed to the grave by a large and respectable circle of
friends and acquaintances and laid in the same grave where the wife of
his youth was had been laid 39 years ago. He would allow no other
dust but his own to mingle with hers he so much loved; and when he was
at the funeral of an old acquaintance a few weeks before, he seemed to
take particular delight in the prospect of his dust soon mingling with
that of his beloved "Marion" . We have every reason to believe that,
as their bodies rest in the same grave, so their spirits are united in
that blessed land where parting is unknown; and as their voices often
joined in the praises of their God on earth, so are they now in
heaven. He will be much missed by a large circle of friends. He was
a kind and loving parent and no sacrifice was too great for him if it
was to benefit his children.

It might be interesting to state that from him descended 125 persons,
viz, eleven children (5 sons, 6 daughters), 68 grandchildren, 46 great
grandchildren, some of whom are engaged in the public service of the
country in India and others in central Africa engaged in missionary
work. Men of his stamp are getting fewer and fewer and no one rising
to take up their place. We may appropriately say - "Help, Lord, for
the Godly man ceaseth, for the faithful fall from among the children
of men."