Troup, John [Jock] (18961954), evangelist, was born in Bogmoor Bellie, near Fochabers, Elgin, on 26 May 1896, the son of Henry Clark Troup (18671951), a railway signalman, and his wife, Harriet, née Ross (18711940), owner of a pie shop. He trained as a cooper in the fishing port of Wick. Troup was indifferent to organized religion as a young man but was impressed by the magic lantern talks at local Band of Hope temperance meetings. He was a lifelong teetotaller.
During the First World War, Troup served as a signaller with the Royal Naval Patrol Service, based in Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire), Ireland. He was befriended by the leaders of the Kingstown Young Men's Christian Association, George William West, author of several books on prophecy, and his wife, Adeline. Impressed by the Wests' spiritual authenticity, Troup began a process of religious exploration that, after a period of intense depression, culminated in an evangelical conversion in 1918.
On returning to Wick the following year, Troup attended the Salvation Army corps but declined to associate formally with the organization, finding its discipline too demanding. Instead, he began his lifetime's career as a nondenominational, professional evangelist, preaching frequently at Baptist, Brethren, and Faith Mission meetings. He imbibed the second blessing holiness tradition of both the Salvation Army and the Faith Mission, in which believers were encouraged to receive a post-conversion consecration and filling by the Holy Spirit. He narrated that his own such rapturous encounter with God occurred during a visit to the Fisherman's Mission in Aberdeen in 1920.
In September 1921 Troup joined the regular migration of north-east Scottish fishing boats to East Anglia for the autumnal herring season. After landing at Great Yarmouth he became involved in a movement of revivalism occurring across East Anglia associated with Baptist minister A. Douglas Brown. During one open-air meeting where Troup preached, it was reported that many in the audience fell prostrate to the ground. The demands made on his time as an evangelist led to his dismissal from the fishing fleet.
Towards the end of 1921 Troup believed that he had seen a vision of a man from Fraserburgh pleading for his assistance. He travelled to the town and identified the man in his vision as an elder in the Baptist Church. Over the next six months Troup led a period of intense conversionist revivalism in the fishing communities of the north-east of Scotland, centred particularly on Fraserburgh, Wick, Aberdeen, and Dundee. The 19212 Fisherman's Revival attracted national attention.
In 1922 Troup enrolled in the Bible Training Institute of Glasgow. His continuing zeal for evangelism left little time for study, however, and his frequent late night prayer meetings were sometimes disruptive to other students. He left in 1924 without a formal qualification but with a letter of commendation from the principal, David M. McIntyre. McIntyre was a mentor to Troup and presided over his marriage on 1 June 1928 to Catherine (Kate) Sinclair Black (19001996). They had three children: Rona (b. 1929), Betty (b. 1931), and John (Ian) (b. 1933).
During the late 1920s Troup preached at revival meetings across Britain. From 1928 he was employed by the Kirkcaldy Gospel Union. His appearance was dapper, his style vigorous, and his passion for seeing individuals accept Christ ardent. He spent hours weeping in prayer for the unconverted. During preaching he sweated profusely and shouted loudly. His words came tumbling out like machine-gun fire, recalled the American revivalist, Harry Ironside (Mitchell, 41). It was said that his voice could be heard over a mile away, and in 1922 he needed surgery on his throat after a blood vessel burst. He articulated an avowedly traditional and simple gospel message, laced with invectives against immorality. His appeals for changed lives were said to be almost irresistible (ibid., 73). Troup also sang, frequently peppering his sermons with renditions from the Gospel hymn genre that had been popularized by Ira D. Sankey. He made several professional recordings. Answering charges of sensationalism in his methods, Troup claimed: When men and women get born again, it is a sensation! (ibid., 195).
In 1932 Troup was invited to become deputy superintendent of the Tent Hall, the hub of the Glasgow United Evangelistic Association's extensive missionary and benevolent operations. He was promoted to superintendent the following year. He acted as chief executive of the network of evangelistic and philanthropic institutions that came under the hall's auspices. He was deliberately populist, arguing that the highbrow stuff in some churches is a waste of time. Surely Jesus does not want all that formality (Mitchell, 182). Troup established links with revivalist fundamentalist leaders in the United States with whom he shared a desire for an explicitly anti-liberal gospel and a robust premillennialist eschatology. He toured the United States and Canada six times between 1936 and 1954. During the Second World War, he devoted substantial time to corresponding with military personnel, articulating an evangelical patriotism: Germany has always had more faith in Krupps than in Christ, he complained in one letter (private information). In 1942 he established the Moody and Sankey rest rooms as an alternative to the public house for military personnel stationed in Glasgow.
In 1945 Troup suffered a physical breakdown and resigned his position at the Tent Hall. Although employed by the Evangelization Society of London from 1946, he devoted increasing time to visiting the United States and Canada. He co-operated briefly with the controversial Texas pastor J. Frank Norris but ended the association when it became clear that Norris was using him as a pawn in denominational politics. He died in the pulpit of Knox Presbyterian Church, Spokane, Washington, USA, on 18 April 1954.
Jock Troup was, in the words of his friend and co-evangelist Peter Connolly, a rough Gospel-preacher (private information), with a commanding physical and verbal presence. To the thousands who visited the Tent Hall for spiritual uplift or simply a night of entertainment he was our beloved Jock, a father figure, role model, and master of ceremonies. Restless, energetic, and sometimes impatient, it was impossible for him to engage in private conversation without excitement (The Scotsman, 21 Dec 1921, 9). Although Troup was long remembered for his work among the rural fishing communities of north-east Scotland, his greatest success was in articulating a form of evangelical Christianity that was authentically embedded in the urban popular culture of inter-war Glasgow. We cater for the needs of all, he wrote in his final letter as superintendent of the Tent Hall in August 1945, drunk and sober, moochers and mashers, rich and poor (private information).
G. Mitchell, Revival man: the Jock Troup story (2002) · J. Ritchie, Floods upon dry ground (1983) · J. A. Stewart, Our beloved Jock [n.d.] · S. C. Griffin, A forgotten revival (1992) · The Scotsman (21 Dec 1921), 9; (22 Dec 1921), 7; (23 Dec 1921), 5; (24 Dec 1921), 11; (29 Dec 1921), 6; (5 Jan 1922), 7; (29 March 1922), 8 · uncatalogued material relating to Tent Hall and Bible Training Institute student records, International Christian College, Glasgow, archives · J. Frank Norris papers (AR. 124), letters relating to Jock Troup, 2498225116, Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee · H. R. Bowes, Troup, Jock, in N. M. de S. Cameron, Dictionary of Scottish church history and theology (1990) · Irish census, 1911 [information on George William West] · private information (2012) · b. cert. · m. cert.
priv. coll. | International Christian College, Glasgow, Tent Hall archives
Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee, J. Frank Norris papers, letters relating to Jock Troup, AR. 124, 2498225116