Collection C.0004 - Mark Young Stark family papers

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Mark Young Stark family papers

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  • Textual record

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CA ON00395 C.0004

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  • 1812-1953, predominant 1833-[ca. 1878] (Creation)
    Stark, Mark Young

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Physical description

7 cm of textual records

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Name of creator


Biographical history

The Rev. Mark Young Stark was born on 9 November 1799 in Dunfermline, Scotland. His mother, Elizabeth Young of Cleish Castle, died when he was just an infant and his father died when he was fourteen. His stepmother was Mary Bannatyne, whose family operated the Glasgow to Stirling Railway. He studied in Essex, England and then took his MA at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1821. He continued his studies in the theological faculty and upon completion in 1824 was licensed to preach by the Presbytery of Glasgow in the Church of Scotland. However, he was unable to secure the required patronage to receive a charge and instead spent time as a tutor and later conducted further studies on the European continent. During this time he also learned several languages, studied art in Rome, and developed a keen understanding of botany. By the early 1830s he was still without a charge in Scotland and decided to serve as a missionary for the Glasgow Colonial Society. He was appointed to Upper Canada and shortly after his arrival was ordained as minister at Dundas and Ancaster. He served as minister in Ancaster until 1854 and in Dundas until his retirement in 1863. In 1844 he presided as moderator over the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Canada in Connection with the Church of Scotland, and although he desired unity within the church, he eventually sided with those who broke away to form the Synod of the Presbyterian Church of Canada (generally known as the "Free Church"). Following this disruption he was elected moderator of the new Synod. He served as clerk of the Presbytery of Hamilton for many years and also as convener of the Home Mission Committee. Mark Young Stark married Agatha Georgiana Street, daughter of Colonel Street of Ancaster, in 1835. They had five children together: Robert, Mary Ann, Elizabeth Mary, Willis Geddes, and Mark Dugald. Mark Young Stark passed away on 24 January 1866.

Custodial history

Records were purchased at auction and donated to the Dundas Museum & Archives in 2013. Provenance prior to this is unknown. It appears that some or all of the letters may have once been in the possession of Mary Ann Stark, Stark’s daughter, as a few letters are annotated in what is possibly her hand.

Scope and content

Most of the records consist of letters written to Mark Young Stark and his wife, Agatha, in Dundas. Correspondents include friends and family in Scotland or friends and colleagues in Upper Canada. Of the Scottish letters, those from Stark’s stepmother (Mary Bannatyne) and aunt (Grace Young) are the most numerous. Some letters predate Stark’s immigration to Canada in 1833. Other letters were written to his wife and to their daughter, Mary Ann, after Stark’s death in 1866. Topics addressed in the letters revolve around personal and family news but occasionally touch on current events, including politics and ecclesiastical affairs.

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Physical condition

Many letters are fragile due to brittle paper and loosening wax seals.

Immediate source of acquisition

Records were donated to the Dundas Museum & Archives in 2013.


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No further accruals are expected.

General note

A more detailed biography of Mark Young Stark is available from the Dundas Museum & Archives.

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