Lloyds TSB Savings Banks Museum, Ruthwell uk Savings Banks Museum uk, Ruthwell
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Lloyds TSB Savings Banks Museum, Ruthwell

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Rev Henry Duncan

REV HENRY DUNCAN
1774-1846
rev henry duncan

The son of a Church of Scotland Minister, Henry Duncan was born at Lochrutton, near Dumfries, in 1774.

Following two sessions at St Andrews university, when he was sixteen his father sent him to Liverpool to study banking. Three years later he abandoned the commercial world to study for the Ministry at the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

This highly educated man of many talents, with a flair for business, could have succeeded in any field he chose. Instead, he devoted his life to helping the poorest in the land improve their lot while maintaining their dignity and self respect.

When he was ordained as Minister of Ruthwell Church in 1799, the Rev Henry Duncan immediately set about helping his starving parishioners. He brought flax for women to spin in their cottages and employed men to turn his 50 acre glebe into a model farm or to work on the roads. Before that, however, he organised their food supply by reviving the languishing Friendly Society and importing grain through his brothers in Liverpool. In 1800 he persuaded the Earl of Mansfield to donate a derelict cottage for the Friendly Society. From this cottage he distributed food to the parishioners and it was in this cottage in 1810 that he was to launch the savings bank movement which spread to 109 organisations in 92 countries.

Dr Henry Duncan was a popular author as well as a newspaper editor and publisher; examples of his accomplishments as an artist are on display in the museum. He is known world-wide for his restoration of the medieval Ruthwell Cross. Geologists know him as the first person in Britain to identify fossil footprints.

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