Who was Rev. Gillespie?

Rev. George Gillespie
Rev. George Gillespie

WOULD-BE historians are being invited to take part in workshops to uncover information on Kirkcaldy churchman Rev. George Gillespie.

The free sessions, which begin on Wednesday, aim to discover who he was and why he was important for the town.

The information uncovered will form the basis of an exhibition in Kirkcaldy Old Kirk over the summer.

Participants can join the search for answers among the church archives each Wednesday in May from 12.30-2.30 p.m. No previous research experience is necessary, just an inquiring mind. Those on a lunch-hour can bring a sandwich and stay for as long as possible.

Every year the Old Kirk is visited by many Americans claiming descent from Mr Gillespie, and the organisers are looking for help from any male Gillespie whose family has a long association with Kirkcaldy. The American organisation is keen to track down any of his descendants and is prepared to pay for a simple DNA test to help possible candidates find out.

Kirkcaldy Old Kirk plans to mark the 400th anniversary of Rev. Gillespie’s birth with a programme of events, and the summer exhibition will be the centrepiece, alongside genealogical workshops, a commemorative service, a drama production and a series of talks on aspects of Kirkcaldy life in the 1600s.

Rosemary Potter, chairman of the Old Kirk Trust, said, “We want to explore, celebrate and share Rev. Gillespie’s significance with his community and make people aware of their rich heritage. At present more Americans than Kirkcaldy folk know of George Gillespie’s contribution to Scottish life and we want to change that.”

Dr Kirsteen Mackenzie of Aberdeen University, who will be speaking about George Gillespie, said: “I would be delighted to become involved in the Trust’s celebrations for his birth. The work of the Trust looks fantastic.”