Rev. Walter MacQuarrie


Rev. Walter MacQuarrie was the longest serving minister to date.  He took up his pastorate during the First World War and remained until 1959 - an amazing 42 years of dedicated service.
An islander, born in North Uist,  he was apprenticed to a local joiner before trainig for the ministry. In 1917, with the Great War at its height, he was ordained and inducted to Knockbain - his one and only charge. Mr MacQuarrie was a Highland minister of the old school, and highly respected in the Black Isle. Despite a rather austere appearance he is remembered as a kindly man - particularly fond of children - with a sense of humour. During his first years at Knockbain there was no bathroom in the manse. The late Mrs Meg Hutcheson recalled Mr MacQuarrie's comment that "although he was without a bathroom he was not without a bath!"  At the annual Sunday School examinations, which were held in the manse, he gave each child six pence. At New Year (not Christmas!) he gave them each one shilling.
Mr MacQuarrie  was unmarried, and was looked after by a housekeeper. His elderly father stayed with him in the manse for a time, as did a brother. Mrs Hutcheson also recalled that he had an old Austin 7 car, but generally travelled around the area on a bicycle.
A native Gaelic speaker, he was a popular visiting preacher in Gaelic congregations which he served at communion seasons throughout the Highlands.
He retired to nearby Maryburgh in 1959, and died on 31 July 1965, in his 84th year. The mortal remains of this faithful servant of Christ and of Knockbain Free Church lie in the parish cemetery at Tore. The epitaph on his headstone reads: An able expositor of the Evangel declaring its message without fear or favour, whose ministry was owned of his Lord. He rests from his labours among the people whom he loved and in the parish where his entire ministry was spent.