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KEMP, ALEXANDER FERRIE, Presbyterian clergyman, scholar, and administrator; b. 28 June 1822 at West Greenock (Strathclyde), Scotland, only son of Simon Kemp, a teacher, and Grace Ferrie; d. 3 May 1884 in Hamilton, Ont., and was survived by his wife and three children.

Alexander Ferrie Kemp received his education at the University of Edinburgh and the Presbyterian College, London, England. He was appointed chaplain to the 26th Foot stationed in Bermuda by the Colonial Committee of the Church of Scotland (Free). In November 1850, before sailing for Bermuda, he was ordained into the Free Church by the Presbytery of Lancashire.

In 1855 Kemp accepted a call to the St Gabriel Street Church in Montreal, the mother church of Scottish Presbyterianism in Canada. The ten years he spent in Montreal were probably the most productive of his career. In addition to his duties as minister of an active congregation and as clerk of the Presbytery of Montreal, Kemp, with the Reverend Donald Fraser*, edited the Canadian Presbyterian from 1857 to 1858, and in 1861 he published a valuable Digest of the minutes of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. In 1863 Kemp was chairman of a committee of the Synod of the Canada Presbyterian Church (formed in 1861 by the union of the Presbyterian Church of Canada and the United Presbyterian Church in Canada) which was requested to examine the Reverend Charles-Paschal-Télesphore Chiniquy*’s application to be admitted along with his congregation at St Anne’s, Ill., into connection with the Canada Presbyterian Church. Chiniquy, in trouble with the Presbytery of Chicago over his administration of charity funds and a college, sought a new connection in order to avoid an expensive presbytery trial. After conducting an inquiry, Kemp suggested that Chiniquy’s congregation be admitted to the Canadian synod.

Kemp contributed frequently to the Canadian Naturalist and Geologist, published by the Natural History Society of Montreal of which he was a member and occasionally on the executive. He wrote an article on marine algæ in Bermuda, another on shore plants on the northeast coast of the United States, and several on marine and freshwater algæe in Canada. McGill College granted him an honorary ma in 1863.

Possession of the St Gabriel Street Church had been in dispute since the disruption of the Church of Scotland in Canada in 1844 [see Robert Burns* and Henry Esson*], and as a result its manse was not occupied by the church’s minister. In 1856 legal action was taken in Kemp’s name by the Free Church congregation, but in a countersuit the opposing Church of Scotland party laid claim to the church. A compromise reached in 1864 gave both the church and the manse to the Church of Scotland and £1,450 to Kemp’s Free Church congregation to enable it to secure another church. Because he was unable to rally full support behind plans for building a new church, and because the old church was to be vacated in November 1865, Kemp felt it his duty to resign, which he did in June 1865.

In 1866 Kemp was called to the newly created St Andrew’s Church in Windsor, Canada West. There he published A review of the state and progress of the Canada Presbyterian Church since the union in 1861, saying that during its short life of five years the church had made little or no progress and that radical changes in structure were necessary to ensure its future. The critical reviews his pamphlet elicited, including two published by the Reverend John Mark King* of Toronto and the Reverend David Inglis of Hamilton, received tart rejoinders from Kemp, in one of which he wrote that “If the discussion only beget a little more tolerance of personal liberty and public debate in ecclesiastical minds, it will not have been without its use.” Possibly piqued by the attitudes of his Canadian brethren, Kemp resigned his charge in 1870 and spent the next four years teaching in the United States, first at Olivet College in Michigan, during which time Queen’s College, in Kingston granted him an lld, then at Knox College in Galesburgh, Ill.

Kemp returned to Ontario in 1874 and continued his work in education. In that year he was made the first principal of the Young Ladies’ College in Brantford, a position he held for four years, and from 1878 until his retirement in 1883 he was principal of the Ottawa Ladies’ College.

Elizabeth Ann Kerr McDougall

[Alexander Ferrie Kemp was the author of Digest of the minutes of the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Canada, with a historical introduction and an appendix of forms and procedures (Montreal, 1861); A reply to theReview reviewedof the RevDInglis . . . (Sarnia, Ont., 1867); The RevCChiniquy, the presbytery of Chicago, and the Canada Presbyterian Church (n.p., 1863); A review of the state and progress of the Canada Presbyterian Church since the union in 1861 ([Windsor, Ont., 1867?]). He was also author of some articles in the Canadian Naturalist and Geologist: “Notes on the Bermudas and their natural history with special reference to their marine algæ,” 2 (1857): 145; “The fresh water algæ of Canada,” 3 (1858): 331–45, 450–66; “A classified list of marine algae from the lower St. Lawrence, with an introduction for amateur collectors,” 5 (1860): 30–42; “On the shore zones and limits of marine plants on the north eastern coast of the United States,” 7 (1862): 20–34. Kemp edited with Francis Wallace Farries and James B. Halkett, the Presbyterian Church in Canada, Hand-Book . . . , 1883 (Ottawa, 1883).  e.a.k.mcd.]

Presbyterian Church in Canada Arch. (Toronto), Knox Church (Montreal), Session records, 1864–78; Presbyterian Church in Canada, Minutes of the Presbytery of Montreal, 1853–59; St Gabriel Street Church (Montreal), Minutes of the session, 1846–63; Records of the deacon’s court, 1848–58. Canada Presbyterian (Toronto), 14 May 1884. Hamilton Spectator, 5 May 1884. Campbell, Hist. of Scotch Presbyterian Church. William Gregg, History of the Presbyterian Church in the Dominion of Canada . . . (Toronto, 1885).

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Elizabeth Ann Kerr McDougall, “KEMP, ALEXANDER FERRIE,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed August 23, 2014, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/kemp_alexander_ferrie_11E.html.

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Permalink: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/kemp_alexander_ferrie_11E.html
Author of Article: Elizabeth Ann Kerr McDougall
Title of Article: KEMP, ALEXANDER FERRIE
Publication Name: Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 11
Publisher: University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication: 1982
Year of revision: 1982
Access Date: August 23, 2014