BEGG, JAMES: Minister of the Free Church of Scotland; b. at New Monkland, near Airdrie (10 m. e. of Glasgow), Lanarkshire, Oct. 31, 1808; d. in Edinburgh Sept. 29, 1883. He studied at Glasgow and Edinburgh; was ordained minister at Maxwelltown, Dumfries, May, 1830; became colleague at Lady Glenorchy's Chapel, Edinburgh, Dec., 1830, minister in Paisley 1831, at Liberton, near Edinburgh, 1835, and, after the Disruption in 1843, at Newington, a suburb of Edinburgh. In 1865 he was moderator of the General Assembly of the Free Church. He began his career as an ardent supporter of evangelical views and a decided opponent of the "moderate" party in the Church. He was strongly opposed to lay patronage and to voluntaryism. He strenuously resisted the aggressions of the civil courts on the jurisdiction of the Church and was disposed to continue the fight within the Establishment; but in May, 1843, he left with his brethren. (See the section on the Free Church of Scotland in the article PRESBYTERIANS.) In the Free Church he became the leader of a minority opposed to all change and when he was charged with standing in the way of progress he gloried in his steadfast adherence to the ideas of his youth; his followers were most numerous in the Highlands. He was an advocate and supporter of popular education and was interested in a movement to secure better homes for the working classes. He wrote much for periodicals and edited several journals at different times (The Bulwark, for the maintenance of Protestantism; The Watchword, against the union with the United Presbyterians; The Signal, against instrumental music in worship). Among his larger publications were A Handbook of Popery (Edinburgh, 1852); Happy Homes for Workingmen and How to Get Them (London, 1866); Free Church Principles (Edinburgh, 1869), and The Principles, Position, and Prospects of the Free Church of Scotland (1875).
BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Smith, Memoirs of James Begg, 2 vols., Edinburgh, 1885-88; DNB, iv. 127-128.