COLONSAY CHURCHES - The Baptist Church


Rev. Dugald Sinclair

"About the year 1812 the Rev. Dugald Sinclair made a tour through a part of the Highlands and Western Islands, and after coming as far north as Tiree joined with Malcolm Maclaren (a member of the Independent Church), and the two came over to Colonsay in a small sailing boat. They were well received by the people, and a number of meetings were held in different parts of the island. These were productive of much good, many being brought to believe in the Saviour..."

So began the story of the Baptist Church which continues to this day in Colonsay, as also in Tiree, Mull and Islay, all of which foundations are to the credit of Rev. Sinclair (1777 - 1870). He had established his base at Lochgilphead, but he found that the conditions of the time persuaded many of his followers to emigrate and in 1831 he acceded to their requests and went to minister to their needs in Canada, where he became the pastor of Lobo township, Poplar Hill, Ontario.

Many of the Colonsay congregation were also driven to seek a new life elsewhere; the earliest migrants had gone to Wilmington in North Carolina, and then to Prince Edward Island, but in due course Bruce County in Ontario joined the list of destinations. Many of those who left were of the Baptist Faith, which they carried with them into new lands. The story of those Colonsay Baptist emigrants is quite extraordinary and in due course further details will appear on this website; naturally, the present congregation welcomes contacts from the descendants of those pioneers.


"The Baptist Church in Colonsay 1812 - 2012" by John McNeill and Eleanor McNeill

To mark the bi-centenary of the church, its history was published in an edition limited to (appropriately) 200 copies, ISBN 978 1904 817109, by House of Lochar. The history of the first one hundred years had been written by John McNeill, and was of course out of print and difficult to obtain; Eleanor McNeill wrote the history of the second one hundred years and the new edition comprises both works. Some copies are still available via and may well be attractive as heirlooms to families with a Colonsay connection. The publication was on a not-for-profit basis and parishioners are happy to share it here, for personal use. Please note that this is a work protected by copyright - we hope that you will find it of interest but please do not print or reproduce it in whole or in part without the permission of the publishers unless it is for your personal use. You will find the history here.


Rev. Donald McMillan, Missionary to the Congo

One of the persons who embraced the teaching of Rev. Dugald Sinclair was Donald McMillan, a young Colonsay man who made an extraordinary sacrifice in devoting his life to the missionary cause. He is mentioned in the history of the Colonsay Church (above) and a brief account of his life will be found here.

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