Henry Duncan

Henry Duncan (8 October 1774 – 12 February 1846) was the minister of Ruthwell parish church in Dumfriesshire, Scotland, and founded the world's first commercial savings bank. He was also a keen amateur geologist, author, publisher, philanthropist and social reformer.

As a boy he met the poet Robert Burns, who visited Dr. Duncan's father at Lochrutton Manse.

In 1810 Duncan opened the world's first commercial savings bank, paying interest on its investors' modest savings. The Savings Bank Museum tells the story of early home savings in Britain.

In 1818 Duncan restored the Ruthwell Cross, one of the finest Anglo-Saxon crosses in Britain, now in Ruthwell church. This late 7th/early 8th century cross is remarkable for its runic inscription, which contains excerpts from "The Dream of the Rood", an Old English poem.

In 1828 Duncan presented a paper to the Royal Society of Edinburgh describing fossil footprints found in Permian red sandstone at Corncockle Muir, Dumfriesshire. The paper, published in 1831, was the first scientific report of a fossil track. A cast of the tracks of "Chelichnus duncani" can be found in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

In 1839 Duncan became Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and at the time of the Disruption of 1843 became one of the founding ministers of the Free Church of Scotland.

Henry Duncan was visited by Robert Murray M'Cheyne during his vacations in Ruthwell.

External links

* [http://www.savingsbanksmuseum.co.uk/index.html Savings Banks Museum] in Ruthwell

* Famous Scots at [http://www.rampantscotland.com/famous/blfamduncan.htm RampantScotland]

* S. George Pemberton and Murray Gingras (2003) [http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tandf/gich/2003/00000010/F0030002/art00003 The Reverend Henry Duncan (1774-1846) and the Discovery of the First Fossil Footprints] , Ichnos, Volume 10, Numbers 2-4, pp. 69-75(7).

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