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James Cosh (1838–1900)

The Rev. Professor James Cosh, M.A., D.D., who had been ill for a few weeks, died at Turramurra yesterday morning. A service will be held at St Stephen's Church at 1 p.m. to-day, and the interment will be made at Gore's Hill. Dr. Cosh was born in 1838 at Whitleys, near Stranraer, but was brought up in the parish of Buchanan, on the banks of Loch Lomond. He studied at Glasgow University, and took the M.A. degree there in 1861. His theological training he received in the Theological Hall of the Reformed Presbyterian Church under Professor Symington, Goold, and Binnie. He also attended several classes in the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. He was ordained at Glasgow in 1865, and in the following year married Miss Janet Frame, youngest daughter of Mr. Thomas Frame, architect of Alloa, and shortly thereafter sailed for Australia. In August of the same year he sailed from Sydney in the Dayspring for the New Hebrides, and was settled at Pango Point, in the Island or Etate. His life in the mission field had its full share of the privations, hardships, difficulties, and dangers connected with missionary work in heathen lands, but with laudable zeal he persevered in the good work until considerations of health suggested the necessity of a change. In 1870 he visited Auckland, and, in the absence of Mr. (now Dr.) Bruce, supplied St. Andrew's Church there for 12 months. On the return of Dr. Bruce he received a call to become his colleague, but accepted, in preference, a call to Balmain. In 1872 he was inducted into the charge of the Campbell-street Presbyterian Church, Balmain. In this sphere he continued to labour with much zeal and with gratifying success. The congregation steadily advanced until now it ranks as one of the largest and most vigorous in the denomination. Dr. Cosh devoted much attention to the young, and his labours among them have been greatly blessed. Soon after his settlement he started a mission church in Balmain West, which in due course became a separate and self sustaining church, under the pastorate of the late Rev. George Grimm, M.A. In 1872 Dr. Cosh was appointed convener of the Foreign Missions Committee, an appointment which he held continuously for 21 years, when in 1894 his resignation was accepted with much regret. In the capacity, and also as secretary to the "Dayspring Board," he rendered valuable service to the cause of missions. In 1878 he was appointed lecturer in Exegetical Theology of the Old and New Testaments, an appointment which has since been renewed from year to year. In 1894 he was appointed president of the Theological Faculty in succession to the late Rev. Dr. Steel. In 1883 he was appointed one of the councillors of St. Andrew's College within the University of Sydney. From November, 1881, to March, 1883, he filled the Moderator's chair of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales. In 1881 he was appointed by the General Assembly as their delegate to the Pan-Presbyterian Council at Belfast. He availed himself of the opportunity while at home to address the Supreme Courts of the various Presbyterian Churches, to address also the students attending the Theological Halls at Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen, and to urge the claims of the colonial field upon their notice. In 1892 he had the degree of Doctor of Divinity conferred on him by his Alma Mater, the University of Glasgow, receiving along with it the hearty congratulations of his brethren. In 1894 he was called to occupy the Moderator's chair of the Federal Assembly of the Presbyterian Churches of Australasia. In 1899 he was appointed by the council of St. Andrew's College Hunter-Baillie Professor of Oriental and Polynesian Languages, resigning the pastorate of the Campbell-street Balmain Church in September last.

From this sketch it will be evident how abundant in labours Dr. Cosh was, and how well he merited the distinction and honour he attained. Amid the multifarious duties of a laborious pastorate he was able by dint of hard industry to maintain his habits of study, and to keep pace with the progress that is being made in the various departments of theological learning. By his genial disposition and gentlemanly bearing, his courtesy, and Christian temper, he won for himself the love of all who have been privileged to know him. Dr. Cosh was modest, quiet, retiring, and undemonstrative in his manner. His utterances and productions were distinguished rather by sound sense than by soaring flights of speech. His sound judgment, reliabilily, and business capacity justly entitled him to the leading part which was assigned to him in the management of church affairs.

Dr. Cosh was markedly happy in his family. Mrs. Cosh has proved to him a true helper and a tower of strength. With all the warmth of her sympathetic nature she has thrown herself into the good work, sharing the burden with her husband, and by her strong faith and her lively hope sustaining and cheering him when his spirits were low and his heart solicitous and sad. While duly attentive to home duties she was a busy worker in all kinds of Christian and benevolent work. The family consists of one daughter and three sons. The eldest son is Rev. J. Cosh, B.A., B.D., of Drummoyne. The second, Mr. F. Cosh, is a member of the firm of Messrs. Slatyer and Cosh, architects, Sydney. The third, Dr. T. Cosh, M.B., Ch.M., Sydney, D.P.H., Cambridge, is a medical practitioner at Leichhardt.

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Citation details

'Cosh, James (1838–1900)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 19 June 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Life Summary [details]


27 June, 1838
Stranraer, Wigtownshire, Scotland


20 September, 1900 (aged 62)
Turramurra, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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