The Heritage Hub

The Heritage Hub is the archive centre of the Scottish Borders Council Heritage Hub

From Ednam Schoolboy to University Professor!

We’ve been working with Ednam Primary School in preparation for a class project and their anniversary of the opening of the new school building in 1911.  Now the school know us and how we can help, when they got an enquiry about a former pupil the email flew straight off to our enquiry helpline!

The enquirer wanted to know about David Smith Cairns who grew up in Stichill and attended Ednam school in the 1870s. He became Master of Christ’s College Aberdeen and Professor of Apologetics and Systematic Theology - A very famous theologian.

But the images here are for his early formative years at school as a boy. He’s on the first page at No. 6 in the Admission book (Ref: R/ED/3/12) for 1873 and his brother William is a few pages later.  It shows that he took Standard V exams on 3rd March 1874.  Quite a few children on the list seem to have taken exams at the same time as David.

The signature at the bottom of the page William is on is not David Smith Cairns but his Dad’s! (see image below) His Dad was Rev. David Cairns of Stichill United Presbyterian Church, a church that was later named the Cairns Memorial Church. His signature in the Admission record shows he was also on the Ednam School Board.

The University of Aberdeen have records created by David Smith Cairns and his son who was also a famous theologian, so to find out about his later career see the collections at

The enquirer was interested in his early life and village connections and we hope that we will be able to help further. Watch this space!

Posted by: Rachel