OVER the years Alloa Parish Church has received benefactions from various people – one of these was the Johnstone Mortification.

Robert Johnstone had been a merchant in Alloa and the kirk treasurer. On May 29, 1739, a disposition was executed by him and registered at Alloa Sheriff Court that August.

In it he bequeathed property in Candle Street with the rent from it to be used 'for the encouragement and subsistence of a pious man licenced by the present Established Church of Scotland'.

He was to help the minister not only to preach to his parishioners but also visit them when sick.

He was to be elected to the position of assistant by the minister, elders and treasurer, as well as the 'heads' of the congregation.

However, the property by the time Johnstone died was in a ruinous state so an application was made to the Court of Session in Edinburgh to allow the church to sell it.

On March 5, 1805, the court granted permission and in August 1806 it was sold to John McGowan, a wright in Alloa for £440.

The court also stated that the money 'be lent out upon sufficient security, and the interest arising therefrom to be applied to the subsistence and support' of the assistant.

Johnstone also left £500 at the time of his death on August 16, 1739. He was 54 years old. His widow Helen Hamilton added a further £100.

In 1772, this money was overseen by Mr Colville of Torryburn, a partner in Colville's of Glasgow, but they went bankrupt in 1778, and it took until 1793 for £40 in interest to be paid out.

On a board made around the time the Trust was set up, a memorial to the kindness of Johnstone read 'The pious and well-disposed Robert Johnstone, merchant in Alloa, with consent of Helen Hamilton, his spouse, from a fervent zeal to the glory of God, and the prevailing love to the good of this parish, did not only mortify his houses and yard in Candle Street, but also five hundred pounds sterling as a fund for maintaining a pious Helper or Assistant to the Minister to be chosen…And after his death, his wife, from the like pious principle, did not only add one hundred pounds sterling , but also gave two silver cups for the more decent administration of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper, and her tomb in the churchyard to belong to the said Assistant, and his successors, for ever.'