When the brethren first came to Duns is uncertain, but for some years they used a room in the Old Town Hall in the square in the centre of Duns, before moving to the Working Men's Institute. This was built in 1877 and the brethren meeting room was an integral part of the building. This might have been because one of those responsible for building the Institute was John Wilson Smith of Cumledge House who was prominent among the brethren. The Institute is now 25, The Square, and the meeting room was at the back of the premises on the ground floor with a separate entrance from an alley-way on the west side.
The Wilson Smiths of Cumledge are buried in Preston Church. An inscription reads — Harriet Mary Wells of Guelph, Canada, wife of John Wilson Smith, of Cumledge, 31/3/1849 - 27/10/1918, and John Wilson Smith. 18/5/1842 - 22/1/1922, son, William Arthur Wilson Smith. M.D. of Cumledge 28/7/1881 - 5/1/1948, whose elder son, Rodney, died in infancy in 1919.
J. Wilson Smith was a contemporary of F.B. Hole and A.J. Pollock. He was a captain in the army in India, and lived in Cumledge just north of Duns. No 222 in the 1903 rendering of the Little Flock Hymn Book (also in the 1978 compilation of 'Spiritual Songs') was known as Captain Wilson Smith's hymn. He was a gentleman of private means. He contributed some articles in Scripture Truth from 1909 until his death in 1922. A collection of articles by Mr. Wilson Smith appeared in book form entitled "Thou Remainest", published by the Central Bible Truth Depot in 1919. An obituary — a poem — was written by James Boyd.
Mr. Wilson Smith's hymn in 'Spiritual Songs' is no. 222, "Everlasting Glory be, God and Father, unto Thee". This is a beautiful hymn of worship to our God and Father.
[Also no. 108 "King of kings and Lord of lords" — Ed.]
The following letter dated Feb. 20th 1997, has been received and is of interest:
John Wilson Smith.
...As he is never mentioned in any writings as anything other than Mr Wilson Smith, and as his army rank is given as Captain, that of a fairly junior officer, it can be assumed that he left the British Army as a young man. (The present occupant of Cumledge is a Lt. Col.)
In June 1876 he was in Canada and preached nightly in the Town Hall of Brantford. One present wrote later, "One preaching in particular is vividly before me, on Luke 15. After speaking of the lost condition of the sheep, he said, 'And He laid it on His shoulders rejoicing, and then did He weary of it and say, You awkward, clumsy sheep, I cannot carry you farther? No, He took it all the way home'. The last of his meetings was for young believers. He spoke on Rom. 12, 'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service'. He spoke of what the mercies were, of what the Father and the Son had done for us and now, he said, it is for us to give up to Him our bodies for His service.
"The following month the well-known Brantford Conference was held. The central figure undoubtedly was Mr. Darby, and old man now and somewhat shaky on his feet, but with all the energy and spiritual vigour of youth .... After prayer and singing, Mr Darby opened the meeting by asking, 'What shall we take up?' Among those present were Lord Adelbert Cecil, Dr. Christopher Wolston and Mr. T.B. Baines. Mr Darby was wonderful, in spite of the intense heat and not being at all well .... I can picture him now, assisted by Dr. Wolston and, I think, Mr Wilson Smith; a strongly made, tall old man with a rugged kindly face". It was during that time that Mr. Wilson Smith and Miss Wells were betrothed.
In the article which you have printed is written "J.Wilson Smith was a contemporary of F.B. Hole and A.J. Pollock". That he knew them is apparent from the London letter of 4th October 1921 (Glanton/Grant discussions), but F.B.H. (Home 25/11/64) and A.J.P. (Home 5/1/57) were not of the same generation. Those with whom Mr. Wilson Smith was more closely connected were Dr. Walter T.P. Wolston, Mr. J. Alfred Trench and Mr. James Boyd. At the time of the Glanton/Alnwick trouble he was much involved with W.T.P.W.; In a letter here written by him to W.T.P.W. on June 16th 1913, he refers to "Hear the Right".
His Home-going on 22nd January 1922 was a time of great sorrow. In years past details of the funeral were heard, but sad to say they are forgotten. Mrs Nash's paternal grandfather, if not her father, would in all probability have attended.