Portessie - James Turner (1860)

The next town is Portessie, about two miles from Findochty. The first night I spoke in. Portessie there was good done; many souls found the Saviour, and the blessed work is still going on.

Dec 1861. I then went to Portessie, where there were signs of the blessing even at the commencement of our first meeting, but before we separated the Spirit seemed. to be poured out on every soul in the meeting, and the people bowed them­selves down before the Lord, and a great cry for mercy went up from both old and young. Next day was the Sabbath, and we resumed our meeting at 4. P. M. when about six hundred assembled. We encountered some opposition on this occasion from a rather unexpected quarter, but the Lord restrained it, and the power of God was revealed in the salvation of several souls.

From 'James Turner or how to reach the masses,' by E McHardie, page 23.

From Findochty, Mr Turner proceeded a mile and a half further west to Portessie, where the meetings (there being no hall at that time in which the people could congregate) were held in an unfinished house. There is nearly always one or more of these in each of the fishing towns, it being customary when a fisher intends to settle in life, first to build himself a house; but as the progress of the erection depends upon the success of the fishing, sometimes a considerable time elapses before the house is ready.

In the skeleton of such a dwelling, roughly seated for the occasion, the first meetings were held. The revival in Portessie could not therefore be attributed to a heated atmosphere, for the house, which stood within a few yards of the ocean, had as yet neither doors or windows, so was fully exposed to the cold stormy winds of February 1860  - a season, as perhaps some will remember, of unusual severity. Yet the cold, comfortless room was not only crowded  - windows, rafters, and all; but many who could not get room in either safe or unsafe position inside stood around the door - snow all around them to a great depth.

It will be interesting to begin the story of Portessie by introducing the man who at present occupies this house, to tell for himself how the meetings held in his unfinished house affected him, and other members of his family.


I was a decent, respectable chap, elder in the church, etc. Went to hear James Turner in Findochty, and was somewhat impressed. Followed him to Buckie, and was still more. On Monday night, went to the meeting in Portessie, and to my surprise, it fell on me to commence it. I was speaking when James Turner came in, and the first thing he did was to cry - "My God! Save that unsaved man."

"I knew he was right, though others thought me a Christian. I knew I wanted a change of heart, but how it was to be obtained, I could not see, and like the Psalmist I could say,

"The pains of hell got hold upon me, I found trouble and sorrow." 

In this state I continued for three days. I was born again on the mighty deep. The boats were not so well fitted up then as they are now. The whole boat's crew sat round me, and when the change passed, I began to pray. And the prayer meeting went round from ten o'clock, a.m., until six in the morning, and before that time three of them gave evidence of being born to God.

From 'James Turner or how to reach the masses,' by E McHardie, page 143.

A correspondent of the Mail sends the following to that journal:--"To the astonishment, of the able-bodied and hardy crews who returned on Saturday to Portessie (after a few days' absence at sea), the entire place was under the deepest excitement. A kind of rude hall was found crammed with people of all ages and both sexes. Here prayers and praises, and cries, and groans, and sighs, may be heard day and night. No clerical agency, no missionary appeals, no lay harangues have been the origin of this extraordinary movement, that although it has been prevailing over this village for two or three days, none but the villagers themselves have guided it. It began thus: A few young men had been attending a reli­gious meeting at Findochty, a village about two miles east of Portessie, and about fifteen miles west of Banff. So much excited were they, that their employer shut up his workshop -- a cooper's—and now the greatest excitement is going on. A meeting, which commenced on Friday evening at six o'clock lasted till four o'clock next morning, and was resumed at ten A.M. When I called on Saturday, about one P.M., a scene presented itself to my view truly wonderful. Young people stretched out on forms labouring under strange sensations might be seen—indeed, were seen—supported in some cases by weeping parents or distressed brothers. One young man held.

From the 'Revival Newspaper', Volume II, p60.

Additional Information

This hall came out of the revival. It is now converted.

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