September 3: F.R. Beattie [1848-1906]

One of the Last Great Southern Presbyterians was a Canadian!
by Rev. David Myers

Francis Robert Beattie was born near Guelph, Ontario, Canada on 31 March 1848. His father was Robert Beattie and his mother, Janette McKinley Beattie.  Francis attended the University of Toronto, graduating there with the BA degree in 1875 and the MA in 1876.  He next attended Knox College in Toronto, in 1878. That same year he was licensed and ordained, on 11 November 1878 by Peterboro Presbytery (Presbyterian Church of Canada), being then installed as the pastor of the Balto and Cold Springs churches in Canada.  He served this group from 1878 to 1882.  During this pastorate, he married Jean G. Galbraith of Toronto in 1879.  She later died in 1897.  Rev. Beattie resigned his first pulpit to become the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Brantford, Canada.  Rev. Beattie also remarried, though that date of the marriage is not provided in the record.  His second wife was Lillie R. Satterwhite, and she survived her husband, passing into glory on 20 August 1940).

Rev. Beattie only served the Brantford church from 1882-1883, apparently leaving that pulpit to take up doctoral work.  He attended Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois and successfully completed his dissertation in 1884.  There is no mention in the record as to how he was employed during the period from 1885 through 1887, but in 1888 he transferred his credentials to the Presbyterian Church in US, taking a post as professor of Apologetics at the Columbia Theological Seminary.  He held this position from 1888 until 1893.  In 1893, he became one of the founding professors, along with T.D. Witherspoon and others, at the newly formed Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary (KY), serving as Professor of Systematic Theology and Apologetics from 1893 until his death in 1906.  During these final years of his life he also worked as an associate editor of The Christian Observer.  He died in Louisville, Kentucky on September 3, 1906 and is buried in Louisville’s Cave Hill Cemetery, in Section D, Lot 26, along with his wife and one Thomas Satterwhite Beattie.  Thomas may have been a son born to that marriage, though this is unclear at this time.  Thomas died on May 27, 1904.

Honors afforded Rev. Beattie during his lifetime include the Doctor of Divinity degree, awarded by the Presbyterian College of South Carolina in 1887 and the LL.D. degree, awarded by Central University of Kentucky.  Dr. Beattie served on the PCUS Assembly’s Editing Committee for the 250th Anniversary of the Westminster Assembly and wrote the introduction to the volume produced in celebration of that occasion.

Rev. Beattie’s best known work was probably his commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith, published in 1896:
The Presbyterian Standards : An Exposition of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms (Richmond, Va. : Presbyterian Committee of Publication,1896), 431pp.; 22cm.


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