On this day, 27 October in 1854, William Alexander Smith, the man who was to found The Boy’s Brigade, was born in Thurso, near John O’Groats.
He was the eldest son of Major David Smith, and Harriet. His grandfather, William Smith, had fought in the 78th (Highland) Regiment of Foot in the Napoleonic Wars with Wellington.
After his father died, he went to live with his uncle in Glasgow, and was to join the 1st Lanarkshire Rifle Volunteers in 1874. He rose quickly through the ranks from private to commissioned officer (some sources say he reached the rank of Major, while others say Lieutenant Colonel – does anyone know?)
During this time he was also a Sunday School teacher. It was a combination of the two that led him to start the Boys’ Brigade on 4 October 1883 at Free Church Mission Hall, North Woodside Road, Glasgow.
The anchor badge was an early feature along with the motto ‘Sure and Stedfast’ (taken from Hebrews 6:19: ‘Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast’).
The Object of the Brigade was ‘The advancement of Christ’s Kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-Respect, and all that tends towards a true Christian Manliness’.
In 1909 he was knighted by Edward VII for his services to children.
He died on 14 May 1914 in London, and is buried in the Smith family grave, in the Western Necropolis Cemetery, Glasgow. There is a memorial stone in his honour in St Paul’s Cathedral, and in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh.
Happy founders day beloved BBlites…
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