Alexander Duff ~ Professor of Missionary Studies, Evangelist, and founder of the University of Calcutta

The first Professor of Missionary Studies at New College, Edinburgh University, Alexander Duff was born near Pitlochry in 1806. In 1829, he travelled as a missionary to India being there the first from Scotland to undertake such evangelical work. His missionary work was a combination of Christian teaching and modern Western Scientific thought and as such brought him disfavour with certain sections of the church. Nevertheless, his work was successful – he set up a college in Calcutta in 1830. In 1843, he joined the Free Church (which required him to give up the college he had founded) and with this new organisation began again to establish centres of missionary teaching in India – he built a college bigger that his first. A year later, he was part of the group that set up the Calcutta Review in 1844. By 1851, he was the Moderator of the Free Church Assembly – a task he took on again in 1873. Amongst his awards was that of LL.D of New York and D.D. of Aberdeen. Of greater significance was his role as a founder of the University of Calcutta. Poor health required the abandonment of India in 1863 and Alexander Duff’s return to Scotland. Alexander Duff endowed a missionary chair in New College, Edinburgh and was its first occupant. He died in 1878 and was the subject of two biographies – G. Smith (1879) and T. Smith (1883).