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MR. DUNCAN M'NAUGHT, LL.D. PRESIDENT OF THE BURNS FEDERATION, 1910-1923;
BURNS CHRONICLE,” 1893-1925.
EDITOR OF THE
On 1st June, 1925, Mr. Duncan M‘Naught, LL.D., late President of the Burns Federation and Editor of the Burns Chronicle, died at his residence in the village of Kilmaurs, Ayrshire. Mr. M‘Naught had enjoyed excellent health during a long and busy life, and only a few days before his death he had travelled to Glasgow to visit his successor in the Presidency of the Federation. His death occurred suddenly from heart failure.
Mr. M‘Naught was born at Alexandria, Dumbartonshire, in 1844, and received his education in Dalmonach School, whose headmaster then was Thomas Menzies, afterwards the distinguished Rector of Hutchesons' Grammar School in Glasgow. From Dalmonach he passed to the Established Church Training College—the old “Normal ” at Dundas Vale-in Glasgow, and on the completion of his course was appointed an assistant teacher in the Mid-Parish School of Greenock. After a brief experience there Mr. M‘Naught in 1865 became assistant to the parochial schoolmaster of Kilmaurs; on whose death, two years later, he was appointed to the vacant position, and for more than fifty years he taught succeeding generations of the children of that parish, retiring a few years ago to a well-earned leisure. He was one of the few surviving parochial schoolmasters.
During many years of his long residence at Kilmaurs Mr. M‘Naught took an active part in public affairs, more particularly in the political life, of North Ayrshire. He was associated with local literary societies, was one of the founders of Kilmarnock Conservative Association, and leader of that party in its Parliamentary Debating Association, and acted as editor of the Kilmarnock Herald during the first year of its existence. Latterly he had played a less prominent part in these affairs, though his pen was still at the service of the causes which he had championed. He was keenly interested also in the history and the antiquities of the district of Ayrshire in which he had made his home. The results of his researches into these were displayed in a privately printed volume on The Charters of Kilmaurs (1874) and in Kilmaurs Parish and Burgh (1912)—a valuable contribution to local history. He was a close student of the fauna and the flora of his adopted county, and made frequent contributions to the literature of these subjects in articles to the press.
Dr. M‘Naught, however, was best known in connection with the cult of Robert Burns. He joined the Burns Club of Kilmarnock more than forty years ago, beginning there an association with the late Provost David Mackay and Captain David Sneddon which had most important results. He was President of that Club for a term, and, along with Mackay and Sneddon, founded at Kilmarnock, in 1885, the now extensive Federation of Burns Clubs. On the death of Captain Sneddon, in 1910, Dr. M‘Naught was appointed to succeed him as President of the Federation; and he held that office until his resignation, because of his advanced age, in 1923, being succeeded by Sir Robert Bruce. the Presidency of Dr. M‘Naught the constituent parts of the Federation steadily increased in numbers and in usefulness, and they assisted to carry through several important schemes, among them the foundation of the Chair of Scottish History and Literature at the University of Glasgow and the preservation of the Auld Brig of Ayr. They also made a beginning in the movement for the preservation of the vernacular by the promotion of competitions in singing and in elocution among pupils in public schools.
During Previous to becoming President of the Burns Federation Dr. M‘Naught had been acting as Editor of the Burns Chronicle, the official annual publication of the cult, and it is probable that the work by which he will be best remembered is that editorship, which he took over with the second volume of the Chronicle, in 1893, and which he continued to exercise till the publication in January last of the number for 1925. That thirty-three years' record is probably unique in the annals of editorship of an annual publication, and it is an achievement for which the whole Burns world is greatly indebted to Dr. M‘Naught. But he was more than Editor of the Chronicle; he himself was one of the largest contributors to the publication, and his contributions were invariably well informed and moderately stated. Much of the material which he had preserved in the series of volumes was utilised in The Truth About Burns, a volume which he published four years ago, and which is acknowledged to be one of the best of the many memoirs of the Poet.
For his distinguished services as teacher, editor, and parish historian Mr. M'Naught was honoured in 1921 by the University of Glasgow, which conferred upon him its honorary doctorate of laws, and by the Burns Federation, which presented him on two occasions with tokens of its appreciation.
FUNERAL OF DR. MʻNAUGHT. The funeral of Dr. M‘Naught took place on 4th June to Kilmaurs village churchyard. The occasion was marked by a remarkable demonstration of the personal regard and high esteem in which Dr. M‘Naught was held, alike by the people of the quiet little Ayrshire community among whom he spent his life and by the wider circle of friends and admirers who knew him through his notable work for the Burns cult and his other public activities. The number of mourners who