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The following is an account of the remarkable way in which Dr James Richmond became Minister of Irvine, as recorded by the 19th century local historian Provost John Paterson, who heard the story from his father Alexander Paterson, who was a personal friend of the cleric.
"Walking one morning from Glasgow to Ayrshire, he [Dr. Richmond] went into an inn near Mearns and ordered breakfast from a girl in waiting, shortly after he went in an elderly gentleman, like a well-to-do farmer, also arrived and gave the same order, which was immediately attended to, whiilst Richmond was left in the cold.
This treatment was too much for the young aspirant to the pulpit and he complained to the attendant she had promptly attended to that old *** and left him without service. The old gentleman seemed to sympathise with him, and kindly invited him to share his repast, which he willingly did.
They talked on a number of subjects and at last the gent left, after which Richmond asked the attendant who he was. When to the young man's discomfiture, she told him it was Archibald, Earl of Eglinton, regarding whom he had berated her in a very questionable way.
Sometime after, Mr Ballantyne, the Minsiter of Irvine, having died young, Richmond received a request that he would wait on the Earl at Eglinton Castle, where the Earl told him he would present him to the parish of Irvine, as he had seen from his behaviour the morning they met in the Wayside Inn that he was a man of spirit as well as learning."
Dr James Richmond came from the upper class family Richmond of Kincairny. His entry in Burke's Landed Gentry of Scotland contains an extraordinary refererence to our national Bard, Robert Burns, who sojourned in Irvine during his ministry in Irvine. It records the fascinating detail "said to have given Robert Burns his first communion."
Dr Richmond lived in the High Street, his rear garden wall having a door, whose bricked up outliine is still visible today that led to the churchyard , where nearby he is buried.
James Richmond was a subscriber to The Practical Figurer Or An Improved System of Arithmetic, written by William Halbert in 1789 which was meant to improve the arithmetical skills of the poorer classes. He was also the author of the "The Statistical Account of Irvine", which was published in 1793.
He died in 1804 and is buried in the churchyard. On the top of his wall memorial can be seen hewn an open Bible and further down reads:
"He was a good man, an affectionate husband, a fond father and a faithful Minsiter, blessed with a quick apprehension a discriminating judgement and a ready expression. He was eminently qualified for the office he held so long and filled so well, he was happy in the choice of his subjects, clear and comprehensive in his method and dignified and impressive in his manner."