Scottish hero: Thomas Chalmers

Aged 64, Thomas Chalmers had fitted several lifetimes into his own. He was a university lecturer whose appointment at St Andrews was (successfully) calculated to lead to a rush of new students applying to study there, such was his reputation. He was a church leader who pioneered ways to care for the urban poor, a new social phenomenon. He took on David Hume’s philosophical challenges to Christianity. He led a breakaway movement within the Church of Scotland that rejected political and liberal influence at the cost of financial security. He organised the planting of hundreds of churches. He was married and had six daughters.

So what did he do at the end of a career that had lasted over 40 years? According to Blackie & Sons’ Popular Encyclopaedia:
Towards the end of 1844 he set on foot a scheme for reclaiming the inhabitants of the West Port district in Edinburgh, a locality notorious alike for physical squalor and moral degradation. A staff of visitors was organized for the purpose of visiting the different families in this quarter; a school was opened in the close which had earned an unenvied fame as the scene of Burke and Hare's murders; and lastly, an old tannery loft was opened for worship on Sundays, Dr. Chalmers himself conducting the services. Ultimately a territorial church was erected in the West Port, and opened on 19th February, 1847.
He died three months later, thousands attended his funeral.