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The Journal of John Long
About the Early Days
Newspaper Articles
Read about the Early Days
1893 - 1965
1966 to Present

Letterhead used by workers titled Christian Conventions

Perry, Oklahoma Conv, 1942

Preserving the Truth
The Church without a Name and its Founder, William Irvine

Introduction Index of Chapters
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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43



Chapter 2
Revised June 28, 2017

About William Irvine

1863: Wm. Irvine's Birth
1863:  Wm. Irvine's Presbyterian Background
1868-75: Wm. Irvine's Education
1873-93: Wm. Irvine's Employment Record
1886: Wm. Irvine was a Freemason (member of the Masonic Lodge)
1886: Birth of Wm. Irvine's Son

1886-87: Death of Margaret and Elizabeth Irvine, Sisters of Wm. Irvine

Irvine Family Tree


1863 - BIRTH OF WILLIAM IRVINE. William Irvine was born in Newtown, Kilsyth, Scotland, on January 7, 1863; the third of eleven children born to John and Elizabeth Grassam/Gressam, who were married on Dec. 9, 1858 at Larbert, Stirlingshire, Scotland. The Birth Registry gave no middle name for Wm. Irvine. However, on the Bible in his possession at his death the initials engraved in gold were W.E.I. "Irvine" is frequently pronounced "Ir-vine' " (with a long "I" and accent on "vine") as well as "Er'-ven" (with the accent on "Er").

Their eleven children were: John born March 14, 1859; Margaret born Feb. 24, 1861; William born Jan. 7, 1863; James born Oct. 5, 1864; Agnes born June 23, 1866; Henry #1 born March 15, 1868 (died in infancy); Henry #2 born Jan. 26, 1870 (died as a child); Elizabeth born Dec. 12, 1871; Jane (also known as Jeanie) born Feb. 1, 1874;  Helen (also known as Nellie) born Jan. 25, 1876;  Janet (also known as Jennie) born Feb. 9, 1880.

When Wm. was born in 1863, his father John was 30 years old, his occupation was a miner and the family resided in Kilsyth. John was born in 1833 in Falkirk, Scotland, and died Aug. 12, 1913, aged 80. His mother Elizabeth was 30 years old, also born in 1833 in Larbert, Scotland, and died Nov. 25, 1897, aged 64. John was a veteran of the 1853-56 war in Crimea, and also witnessed the famous Charge of the Light Brigade. (Weaver, Miners and the Open Book by James Hutchison)

1863-1893: WM IRVINE'S PRESBYTERIAN BACKGROUND. William Irvine's father, John, “was a stalwart member of the Free Church and also one of its managers." Wm. was raised in the Burns Free Church of Scotland (Presbyterian), which was built in 1816 and after 186 years, was demolished in 2002. The congregations of Kilsyth Burns Free Church and the Old Parish Church united in 1975, and the church is located at 11 Church Street in Kilsyth, where a plaque commemorating Rev. Jeffrey, a large bell and the stained glass windows from the Burns Church are presently installed (Kilsyth, a Parish History by Rev. Peter Anton). 

As further confirmation that Wm. Irvine was raised Presbyterian, his sister Agnes was married according to the Church of Scotland by Rev. Peter Anton. Three other sisters, Jane (Jeanie), Helen (Nellie) and Janet were each married in the Free Church of Scotland by by Rev. Wm. Jeffrey. 

Click Here to view IRVINE FAMILY TREE

KILSYTH, SCOTLAND where William Irvine was born is pronounced Kil-sithe' - with a long "i" and the accent is on the second syllable, "sithe." Formerly a coal mining town in North Lanarkshire, it is located 12 miles (19 km) northeast of Glasgow.

"In 1860 the famous business family, the Bairds of Gartsherrie, began operations in Kilsyth when they leased the Curriemire pit and then began mining for ironstone above Neilston…In addition Bairds developed Queenzieburn into a coal mining village by opening the Dumbreck pit…They also built several 'miner's rows' to house their workers in Queenzieburn and in the end of the 19th century, Kilsyth was almost entirely a coal mining town with seven local collieries employing between 4,000-5,000 men…" (Weavers, Miners and the Open Book - A History of Kilsyth by James Hutchison, pp. 124-128).

The Kilsyth Chronicle newspaper office is located in the Kilsyth Market Square, and their employees were extremely cordial to the Author on her visit on July 26, 2004, and were eager to supply information. Nearby are the remains of Colzium Castle and the Colzium House, a mansion which dates from the 18th and 19th centuries and is open to public. The Forth and Clyde Canal was once a thriving waterway carrying passengers, fish, coal, ironstone and whinstone from the nearby Auchinstarry Quarry, which is closed and is now a park where climbing the rock faces of the former quarry is popular. 

A "collier" is a coal miner; a "colliery" is a coal mine with its connected buildings. To go "underground" was to work in the mines. William and his two brothers, John and James, his father and grandfather and numerous brothers-in-law all worked in the coal mines. His brothers and father managed Dumbreck Colliery for 30 years, which was owned by Baird & Co. and situated near Kilsyth. The following gives a glimpse into the daily lives and conditions during the time the Irvine men worked in the mines.

"As mines became deeper, the danger to health and safety increased...Men and boys referred to as 'hewers' would cut coal from seams which would be as low as 18 inches, supported only by uncut pillars of coal or wooden pit-props. Young boys of 8 or 9 called 'drawers' would be harnessed up to heavy coal tubs or 'corves' which they would be expected to pull from the bottom of the pit shaft to the surface. Other young boys called 'trappers' would be expected to sit in the darkness all day, opening and closing wooden ventilation doors to let the 'drawers' past...

"Mining was a dangerous industry which produced countless accidents. Part of the problem was that mines were ventilated by air shafts and sometimes a fire would be lit at the bottom of these to cause hot air to rise and to draw in cold fresh air to replace it. Unfortunately if gases came in contact with these fires it could cause an explosion.

"As well as the physical dangers, working conditions affected the miner's health and shortened their life expectancy as the following extract from the New Statistical Account of 1840 shows: 'The collier population is subject to a peculiar disease...called the black-spit and...melanosis. It is a wasting of the the inhaling of the coal dust while working...Many strong men are cut off by it before they reach the age of forty...Almost all the men are affected by it sooner or later, so as to be rendered unfit for any active exertion for years before they drop prematurely into the grave, between the ages of forty and sixty or sixty five" (Weavers, Miners and the Open Book – A History of Kilsyth  by James Hutchison, pp. 124-128).

For additional information on Kilsyth Scotland:
View Photos of Kilsyth

Gazetter for Scotland
Kilsyth official website 

Kilsyth as it is today

1868-1871: WM IRVINE'S EDUCATION - At that time, children normally began school at age five.  This means Wm. would have attended Kilsyth Academy; however, he stopped attending school in 1871 when he was eight years old , and started his first job. This was before the 1880 Education Act made it compulsory for children between the ages of five and ten years to attend school; which age was extended to 12 in 1899. When Wm. was 20 to 30 years old, he resumed his education at night school.

1871-1893: WM. IRVINE'S EMPLOYMENT RECORD - William's first job was as a message boy in a Glasgow grocery where he worked 72 hours per week for 75 cents. His second job was at Gray Dunn’s biscuit factory, working from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays and a half day on Saturday for one dollar. His third job was making cores and little kettles in the foundry for 5 pounds per week. In 1873 when he was ten years old, he went underground working for Baird & Co. in the coal mines. At age 16, he was a strong, husky boy who earned more than his father.

From age 20 to 30, Irvine made about 300 pounds per year and had reached the top by very hard, dirty and dangerous work. When he resigned from Baird & Co. on Nov. 1, 1893, he was 30 years old and held the position of General Manager of Baird's Bothwell Collieries in Lanarkshire, and had the best of prospects ahead.  "I got saved and left the company 45 years ago to follow and serve Jesus in the Gospel, which created much talk and stirred people up to oppose doing such a foolish thing. Both mining, business and religious people were greatly interested, but in spite of opposition in home, friends, and enemies I went..." (letter to Wm. Edwards, Feb. 18, 1938*).

The author was unable to verify Irvine's employment and position. William Baird’s Office Manager in London stated, “I can confirm that Baird’s were coal owners and operated mines in Scotland during the period concerned. However we do not have the detailed records giving the information you require. If any such records do exist…they may well be held at the Glasgow University archives in Scotland” (letter dated June 17, 1994*).

Seven Baird brothers established the firm of William Baird & Co. in Lanarkshire, one of the major industrial companies of the nineteenth century. Information about William and James Baird is given in their entry in the Memoirs and Portraits of One Hundred Glasgow Men

1884, JANUARY 23: WM IRVINE BECAME A FREEMASON when he was 21, and a member of the Masonic Lodge Stewart (aka Steuart) No. 547 in his home town of Kilsyth. His membership continued for the rest of his life. Therefore, he was a Mason all the time he was associated with the Faith Mission, the 2x2 Sect and the Omega Message. Wm. Irvine mentioned in three letters that he was a Freemason.

"I am a Mason for over 50 years, though don't take any stock in it any more than anything else which marks the old earth conditions" (letter to Berglinds, Sept. 10, 1937).

"You may tell your brother that I also am a Free and accepted Master Mason. My Mother Lodge being 547 - Stewart Scotch for past 45 years" (letter to Fay Sheeley, Jan. 30, 1929).

"I am a Free Mason and know all there is in it" (letter to Mrs. Dilla Sheeley, Jan. 31, 1929).

Confirming the membership of a Wm. Irvine is this statement by James L. Noble for the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland of Edinburgh, dated Nov. 19, 2010:

"I...can confirm that the records held within my office do show that Brother William Irvine was Initiated within Lodge Steuart No. 547, Kilsyth, Stirlingshire on 23 January 1884; Passed to the Fellowcraft Degree on 07 January 1885; and Raised to the Master Mason Degree on 17 January 1885. His occupation is shown as a Miner, aged 25 years. Unfortunately the Lodge was declared dormant in 1898. View letter in TTT Photo Gallery.

NOTE:  There is a disparity in Wm. Irvine's age in the above statement. Mr. Noble's records show Irvine was 25 years old in 1884 or 1885, whereas, the difference between 1884 (initiation date) or 1885 (date he became a Master Mason) and Wm. Irvine's birth year in 1863 would put his age at 21 or 22 years. It is possible there is a transcription error, or that Mr. Noble was confirming another mason named Wm Irvine.

Very little is known about Wm. Irvine's connection to freemasonry. It is sometimes said that "Masonry is Generational," which means that being a mason runs in families, generation after generation. It has been confirmed that Wm. Irvine's father John, and his father's brother Walter, were both masons, and that some of Walter's sons and grandsons (Wm. Irvine's cousins) were also, as well as John Freebairn, the husband of Wm Irvine's sister Agnes. Some 2x2 historians see some elements in Freemasonry that appear similar to the structure of the 2x2 movement.

Click Here for: Significance of Wm. Irvine being a Freemason

1886-87: DEATH OF WM IRVINE'S SISTER, MARGARET: Margaret was born on Feb. 24, 1861, and was two years older than Wm. She died unmarried on July 18, 1886, aged 25, cause of death was Phthisis, probably a chronic lung infection, such as tuberculosis. Wm. wrote:

“I lost my sister when she was 25 and I, 23. She was like a second mother to me, and we were more to each other than any of the others younger could I'm into my 84th year with only 2 sisters left out of 11 in the family” (letter to Pincetl and Sutter, Feb. 21, 1946).

"I owe more to the loss of my sister when she was 25 and I 23, than to all other circumstances and events, and she of all my sisters has been a living fellowship even to this day, and I'm no spiritualist, but strong in the hope of seeing her..." (letter to Mr. Duncan, Dunbars & Reeds, May 12, 1934).

1887: DEATH OF WM IRVINE’S SISTER, ELIZABETH. Less than a year later, Wm's sister, Elizabeth, died on June 15, 1887, aged 15, cause of death was Periostitis. She was born on Dec. 12, 1871 and never married.

1881 SCOTLAND CENSUS for No. 16 Auchinstarry Rows in Cumbernauld, Dumbartonshire for the household of John (occupation: Ironstone Manager) and Elizabeth Irvine shows sons William, age 18 and James, age 16, both working as Ironstone Miners; and daughters Agnes, Elizabeth, Jane, Helen and Janet.

1891 SCOTLAND CENSUS for No's. 7 and 8 Auchinstarry Row in Cumbernauld, Dumbartonshire for household of John (occupation: Colliery Oversman) and Elizabeth Irvine shows: daughters: Jane, Helen, Janet and Grandson Archibald Irvine. Their son James Irvine, age 26 and wife Catherine lived next door in No. 6 with no children. The census shows William Irvine, age 28 as a lodger of Robert Condel in Bothwell, Lanarkshire (occupation: Colliery Manager).

Click Here to view photo of Auchinstarry Rows, where the miners and their families lived.

1886, APRIL 23 - BIRTH OF WM. IRVINE'S SON.  A family member wrote “It was widely known in the family that William Irvine had an illegitimate son called Archibald Grassam Irvine. The story goes that William left the area for a while after it happened, but who knows! There are no family records to back up my theory. I think the date of birth is most significant, as well as the place of birth on the 1891 census tying in with the birth record" (Lizbeth Freebairn). Based on the evidence, although not certain, the author's belief is that Archie Irvine is Wm Irvine's son, and going forward in this book, for the sake of simplicity, Archie will be referred to as Wm Irvine's son.

The 1891 Scotland Census for the household of John and Elizabeth Irvine (Wm. Irvine’s parents) in Kilsyth, Scotland , lists a four-year old grandson named Archibald Irvine, born in Maryhill, Lanarkshire. If this is Wm. Irvine's son, then Irvine was in his early twenties when his son, Archie, was born.

Lizbeth Freebairn, a granddaughter of Wm Irvine's sister Agnes who married John Freebairn, is an avid genealogy researcher of the Irvine family lines, and she has kindly provided family details. She has lived in both Kilsyth, Scotland, and New Zealand. Her voluntary contributions of time, information and photographs are very much appreciated. In her research, she located birth records for an illegitimate son born on April 23, 1886, in Maryhill, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to Margaret Helen Grassam. The birth record shows:

Birth of William Grassam
1886 Register 622 District of Maryhill, County of Lanark, Entry 354
On April 23rd at 100 Hawthorn Street, Possilpark
Father: Illegitimate
Mother: Margaret Helen Grassam, Domestic Servant
Informant: Margaret Helen Grassam, Mother
Click Here to View Birth Record

The Mother, Margaret Grassam, was born April 16, 1859, in Larbert, Stirling, Scotland. She was 27 years old and William was 23 when William Grassam was born.  She was a first cousin of William Irvine. Margaret's father, Archibald Grassam, and William's mother, Elizabeth (Grassam) Irvine, were siblings.

About two years later, Margaret married John Hastings in 1888. The 1891 Scotland Census was the first one taken after William Grassam was born. The Hastings household did not list Margaret’s illegitimate son William, who would have been 4-5 years old. However, the Census showed Archibald Irvine, age 4, living with his grandparents. Neither William Grassam nor Archibald Irvine were shown in the following Scotland census in 1901 in either household. Archie had left for New Zealand by that time.

Could there have been two male children born on the same date in the same location in the same family, with two different names: William Grassam and Archibald Irvine? Or were they the same person?

Following are some reasons why William Grassam could have been the same person as Archibald Grassam Irvine.  Keep in mind that the 1891 Census shows Archibald Irvine living with his grandparents. Various official records give his birthdate as 1886 and birth place as Maryhill, an area of Glasgow. It is possible that William Grassam was adopted by Wm. Irvine’s parents and his name changed. Archibald Grassam was the name of William’s mother’s father (his grandfather.) An adoption cannot be confirmed since the Scotland National Archives holds no records for adoptions prior to 1930. Before that time adoptions were arranged on a private basis.

Archibald, called “Archie,” was 14 years old when he left Scotland for New Zealand in 1900. The Manifest of the S.S. Whakatane shows that Archibald Irvine and his grandfather, John Irvine, along with Wm. Irvine's brother, James Irvine with his wife Catherine, and James' cousin Wm. McCallum, all sailed to NZ on the same ship. They departed from London on July 19, 1900 and were expected to arrive in Auckland, NZ on Sept. 10.  John Irvine's brother, James Irvine (born in 1827), and his wife had emigrated to NZ in 1863. In 1902, John Irvine returned to Scotland aboard the S.S. Rimutaka, and was the only one of the five to return to Scotland. McCallum married in NZ and is buried in there.

According to Archie’s tombstone (View photo) located in Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, NZ, he was born in the year 1886. His Death Certificate No. 023495 gives his date of death as June 14, 1952, his birthdate as “not recorded,” aged 66 at death in Christchurch. The registry of  New Zealand Presbyterian Church Ministers, Deaconesses & Missionaries from 1840 contains his resume with a birthdate of April 23, 1886, born in Glasgow. It states he died suddenly at Christchurch, aged 66, and was interred at Bromley Cemetery, Christchurch, Block 12, Plot 133. His 1916 marriage certificate shows his age as 30, and the names of his grandparents were given as his parents. NZ World War I Military records give his birthdate as April 23, 1886.

The birthdate of Archibald Grassam Irvine is verified by his military records, death certificate, tombstone, marriage records, university records and employer records (Presbyterian church). The Author agrees with Ms. Freebairn that there is sufficient information to reasonably conclude that William Grassam was one and the same person as Archibald Grassam Irvine.

Archibald Irvine married Mary Jamieson Murray on October 24, 1916 in NZ. She was born in 1889 and died Dec. 19, 1982, and is also buried in Bromley Cemetery. The couple had no known children. Archie became a Presbyterian Minister in NZ.

Click Here for more information about Archie Irvine. See also Chapter 4

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Preserving the Truth
The Church without a Name
and its Founder, William Irvine

William Irvine

Founder of the
Church with No Name
aka 2x2 Church,
Friends & Workers Fellowship,
Cooneyites and "the truth"