WILLIAM STEVENSON, ESQ., was the leading merchant in Strabane, a burgess and treasurer of the Corporation of Strabane and a member of the Poor Law Guardians of Strabane Workhouse.
|December 30 1848||On the 28th inst., at Strabane, by the Rev. Joseph Burton, Rector of Strokestown, and uncle of the bride, RANDLE PEYTON, Esq., of York Street, Dublin, solicitor, eldest son of the late TOBIAS PEYTON, ESQ., of Oaklands, county Roscommon, to MARY, eldest daughter of WILLIAM STEVENSON, ESQ., of Strabane|
|July 16 1858||On the 14th inst., in the First Presbyterian Church, Strabane, by the Rev. A.P. Goudy, D.D., the REV. THEODORE J. MEYER, Missionary at Galatz [Romania], to JANE ANNE, youngest daughter of the late WILLIAM STEVENSON, ESQ., Strabane|
|June 6 1862||June 4, in the Second Presbyterian Church, Strabane, by the REV. W. FLEMING STEVENSON, brother of the bridegroom, assisted by the Rev. W.A. Russell, JAMES STEVENSON, ESQ., to MARTHA, daughter of THOMAS CRAIG, ESQ|
|June 6 1865||June 1, at Sinclair Seaman's Church [Belfast], by the Rev. Norman MacLeod, D.D., the REV. WILLIAM FLEMING STEVENSON, of Christ Church, Rathgar, county Dublin, to ELIZABETH MONTGOMERY, eldest daughter of the late JOHN SINCLAIR, ESQ., of The Grove, county Antrim|
|November 13 1866||November 8, at the First Presbyterian Church, Strabane, by the Rev. James Gibson, OLIVER STEVENSON, ESQ., to LIZZIE, daughter of ALEXANDER BLAIR, ESQ., Calhame, Strabane|
|July 21 1868||July 16, at St. Catherine's Church, Barton on Irwell, near Manchester, by the Rev. R.L. Connell, MR. ROBERT STEVENSON, Strabane, to JANE JOHNSTON, eldest daughter of MR. WALTER LOWTHER, Drumnabuoy, Strabane|
|September 6 1861||Sept. 3, at the Bowling Green, Strabane, the wife of the REV. THEODORE J. MEYER, of a daughter|
|November 18 1864||On the 14th November, at Strabane, the wife of JAMES STEVENSON, ESQ., of a son|
|March 23 1866||March 18, at Orwell Bank, Rathgar, Dublin, the wife of the REV. W. FLEMING STEVENSON, of a daughter|
|September 20 1867||September 16, at Strabane, the wife of JAMES STEVENSON, ESQ., of a daughter|
|September 20 1867||On the 15th September, at Strabane, the wife of MR. O. STEVENSON, of a daughter|
|February 7 1868||February 4, at Orwell Bank, Rathgar, the wife of the REV. W.F. STEVENSON, of a son|
|July 23 1869||July 22, at Strabane, the wife of MR. ROBERT STEVENSON, of a daughter|
|March 27 1857||Suddenly, at Strabane, on Sunday, the 22nd inst., WILLIAM STEVENSON, ESQ., aged 65 years|
REV. WILLIAM FLEMING STEVENSON
Extracted from the OXFORD DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY
STEVENSON, WILLIAM FLEMING (1832–1886), minister of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the youngest child of William Stevenson, a merchant in Strabane, co. Tyrone, and Margaret Anne, daughter of Samuel Morton, was born at Strabane on 20 September 1832. After being taught for some time by a private tutor he was sent in 1844 to the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, where he remained until he entered the University of Glasgow in 1848. He graduated MA in 1851, and commenced the study of theology at New College, Edinburgh. In 1854, his course completed, he went to Germany, where he studied for some time at the universities of Berlin and Heidelberg, and made his first acquaintance with those forms of home-mission work and Christian activity which he later described in Praying and Working (1862). In 1856 he was licensed to preach by the presbytery of Strabane, and in the autumn of 1857 became a town missionary in Belfast, where a virulent attack of typhus, caught in the discharge of his duties, almost cost him his life. After holding two temporary appointments, one as locum tenens in Bonn for William Graham DD (1810–1883) in 1858, and the other as assistant to the Revd D. McKee in Belfast in 1859, he was ordained on 1 March 1860 as minister of a newly established Presbyterian congregation at Rathgar, a suburb of Dublin. Two years later a new church there, built largely through Stevenson's efforts, was opened. The services became so popular that the building was soon filled, and was twice enlarged. On 1 June 1865 he married Elizabeth Montgomery, eldest daughter of John Sinclair of Belfast. They had two sons, one of whom became a missionary to India, and three daughters.
Stevenson's literary activity started in 1855 when he began writing in the Edinburgh Christian Instructor, then edited by Dr Norman Macleod. He contributed to Good Words from its beginning. Praying and Working, which first appeared in its early numbers, was published separately in 1862 and became one of his most popular works. In 1873 he published a large selection of Hymns for the Church and Home, which had a wide circulation.
Meanwhile, in 1871, Stevenson's deep interest in foreign missions caused him to be appointed colleague to the Revd James Morgan in the honorary convenership of the Irish general assembly's foreign mission. On Morgan's death in 1873 he became sole convener. Much of his time and thought was devoted to this enterprise. As an auxiliary to it he founded a Zenana mission. In 1877, accompanied by his wife, and at the request of the general assembly, he made a journey round the world, visiting mission stations, especially in China and India. In 1879–80 he held the chair of evangelistic theology in New College, Edinburgh, and from 1882 until 1886 he was Duff lecturer on foreign missions. A series of lectures which he delivered in this last capacity was published posthumously in 1887, under the title The Dawn of the Modern Mission. In 1881 he was elected to the lectureship founded in Londonderry in memory of Richard Smyth, and lectured on his favourite theme, ‘The history and methods of Christian missions’.
Many other public duties devolved upon Stevenson. In 1879 he was appointed by the crown one of the first senators of the newly established Royal University of Ireland. In 1881 he was elected moderator of the general assembly, and received the honorary degree of DD from the University of Edinburgh. And in 1886 he became the first Presbyterian clergyman to be appointed chaplain to the lord lieutenant of Ireland (the earl of Aberdeen). He died suddenly at his home at Orwell Bank, Rathgar, co. Dublin, on 16 September 1886. He was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery, Dublin, on 27 September 1886. The Fleming Stevenson Missionary Training College was established in his memory at Ahmadabad, and his library of 6000 volumes, which became known as the Stevenson Memorial Library, was presented to the Assembly's College (now Union Theological College), Belfast.
Thomas Hamilton, rev. David Huddleston
E. M. Stevenson, Life and letters of William Fleming Stevenson DD, 2nd edn (1890) W. F. Stevenson, Praying and working, new edn (1886) The Presbyterian churchman (1886), 285–94 McComb's Presbyterian Almanac (1887), 80 R. Allen, The Presbyterian College, Belfast, 1853–1953 (1954), 291 CGPLA Ire. (1886)
Engraving, repro. in Stevenson, Life and letters of William Fleming Stevenson DD photograph, repro. in McComb's Presbyterian Almanac (1883) woodcut engraving, repro. in Presbyterian churchman, 285
Wealth at death
£1226 16s. 4d.: probate, 23 Dec 1886, CGPLA Ire. £658 14s. 6d.: probate, 23 Dec 1886, CGPLA Eng. & Wales
Photo Courtesy of Heather Steed - heathersteed[at]hotmail.com