John Paton’s Spiritual Upbringing


Father’s Ancestry

A few notes had better here be given as to our “Forebears,” the kind of stock from which my father and mother sprang. My father’s mother, Janet Murray, claimed to be descended from a Galloway family that fought and suffered for Christ’s Crown and Covenant in Scotland’s “killing time,” and was herself a woman of a pronouncedly religious development Her husband, our grandfather, William Paton, had passed through a roving and romantic career, before he settled down to a douce deacon of the weavers of Dumfries, like his father before him.

Forced by a press-gang to serve on board a British man-of-war, he was taken prisoner by the French, and thereafter placed under Paul Jones, the pirate of the seas, and bore to his dying day the mark of a slash from the captain’s sword across his shoulder for some slight disrespect or offence. Determining with two others to escape, the three were hotly pursued by Paul Jones’s men. One, who could swim but little, was shot, and had to be cut adrift by the other two, who in the darkness swam into a cave and managed to evade for two nights and a day the rage of their pursuers. My grandfather, being young and gentle and yellow-haired, persuaded some kind heart to rig him out in female attire, and in this costume escaped the attentions of the press-gang more than once; till, after many hardships, he bargained with the captain of a coal sloop to stow him away amongst his black diamonds, and thus, in due time, he found his way home to Dumfries, where he tackled bravely and wisely the duties of husband, father, and citizen for the remainder of his days. The smack of the sea about the stories of his youth gave zest to the talks round their quiet fireside, and that, again, was seasoned by the warm evangelical spirit of his Covenanting wife, her lips “dropping grace.”

Of their children, two reproduced the disposition of their father, and two that of their mother. William took to the soldier’s career, and died in Spain ; May, the only daughter, gave her heart and hand to John Wood, a jolly and gallant Englishman, who fought at Waterloo, and lived to see his hundredth birthday. John and James, the latter being my father, both learned the stocking manufacturing business of their fathers, and both followed their mother’s piety and became from their early teens very pronounced and consistent disciples of the Lord.

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By Mike

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They do but mock God who pray unto him to do that for them which they can do for themselves, and which God cannot do for them but only when as they do it themselves.

— John Owen