"Rev. John Waddell was born in Scotland, April 10th 1771, and obtained his education in Glasgow." This line from Chapter 17 of Thomas Miller's Historical and Genealogical Record of Colchester County Down To The Present Time (pub. 1873) was one of the first hard facts that we knew about this ancestor who became an influential man in the fledgling Presbyterian Church of Canada.
For many years we only had the bare numbers such as birth and death dates, marriage date, birth dates of his children, etc. But these really didn't tell much about the man himself. Where exactly was he from? Where did he live and go to school? Why did he make the harsh trip across the ocean to follow his calling?
New records are becoming available all the time, so recently I decided to take a more in-depth look at this man to see what I could find out, and discovered a wealth of information.
Born in the small town of Shotts, located approximately halfway between Glasgow and Edinburgh, John Waddell obtained a Master of Arts degree at Glasgow College and followed up with theology studies under the famous Rev. George Lawson at the Associate Synod Hall in Selkirk. Shortly after being ordained in 1798 he was posted to Nova Scotia. En route he made a brief stop in New York, and although a number of opportunities were presented to him, he chose to continue on to Nova Scotia to preside over the congregations of Truro and several adjacent communities.
In 1802 he married Nancy Blanchard, daughter of Jotham Blanchard. They had seven children, several of whom went on to have distinguished careers themselves - one son was also a Presbyterian minister and another son became a medical doctor.
The family was joined by John Waddell's older brother James in 1813. James had also studied for the ministry, but upon completion of his studies he balked at some of the rules and regulations he was told he must affirm to, and being rather strong minded he would not accept them. By the time he arrived in Nova Scotia he was a skilled finish carpenter and cabinet maker.
Rev. Waddell was well-known and loved in all the communities where he preached; as described in History of the Presbyterian Church in the Dominion of Canada by William Gregg (pub. 1885) he was a "plain, practical preacher ... indefatigable, kind, and sympathetic." He was forced to retire in 1836 as the result of injuries from a fall when the wagon in which he was riding overturned, but he remained keenly interested in the affairs of the community until his death in 1842. He and his wife are buried at the Robie Street Cemetery in Truro.
*This is a re-post from the original Cinquefoil Heritage blog on Blogster which has been removed by the author.