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People of Note
Rev Thomas Boston


Rev Thomas Boston

Thomas Boston was born in Duns in 1676, in the house which is now 13 Newtown Street. His father, John, was a strong opponent of Prelacy; the government of the church by bishops and archbishops. When James II, in 1687, gave freedom to worship to those who had dissented from the Established Church, John and Thomas came under the influence of the preachings of Henry Erskine, the father of Ralph and Ebenezer, both of whom were to be closely associated with Thomas in the years to come.

After graduating from Edinburgh University, he was licensed as a preacher of the gospel in 1697, and ordained as minister of the Parish of Simprin, which was the smallest parish in Berwickshire, if not in the whole of Scotland in 1699. The ruins of the church and what remains of the graveyard lie on the road between Swinton and Coldstream at the east end what was Simprin village. Boston worked hard to turn Simprin into what he later called 'a field which the Lord has blessed'. Simprin, as a parish, was subsumed by Swinton in 1761. Boston remained at Simprin until 1707 when he transferred to Ettrick, near Selkirk. Though many of his beliefs were thought out and developed in his early sermons at Simprin, it was his later preachings at Ettrick that made him world renowned. His initial relations with the people of Ettrick left much to be desired, spiritually, and it was only after three long years, that he felt that the spiritual wilderness into which he had come was ready for the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. At this first Communion only some 60 persons took part, whereas, at his last, in 1731, 777 participated.

He died on May 20th 1732, at the age of fifty-six.

Sixteen different collections of his works were published between 1720 and 1776, and, they, along with many of his sermons, remain accessible today. He has been referred to as 'a truly great divine'.


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