The Reverend Micah Balwhidder
The Reverend Micah Balwhidder, who is appointed to the Presbyterian church in the village of Dalmailing in western Scotland. Appointed without the approval of the congregation, he is harshly rebuffed at first, but the resentment soon dies, and he is accepted. He fights earnestly against smuggling and drinking. He also fights a losing battle against the appearance of other church groups in his parish. He serves his congregation for fifty years, from 1760 to 1810. He decides to retire when he finds himself deaf and forgetful.
Betty Lanshaw, a distant cousin of Balwhidder. He marries her because he feels that a minister can best serve his people when he is married. She dies a few years after their marriage.
Lord Eaglesham, a nearby nobleman who becomes Balwhidder’s close friend and helps him in his good works.
Thomas Thorl, a dour Scot. He is the most outspoken of the people who resent the appointment of Balwhidder. He is, however, the first to relent.
Mrs. Malcolm, a widow with five children. Balwhidder does a great deal to help her and her family.
Charles Malcolm, one of the Widow Malcolm’s sons. He becomes a successful officer in the merchant marine. His death in a naval battle saddens Balwhidder, who has come to regard him almost as a son.
Lizy Kibbock, Balwhidder’s second wife, who gives the congregation a good example by her industry and thrift, making her family independent of her husband’s salary.
Mr. Cayenne, an American Tory who sets up a weaving mill in Dalmailing.
Mrs. Nugent, a widow of good reputation who becomes Balwhidder’s third wife.
Mr. Heckletext, a visiting minister who embarrasses Balwhidder by turning out to be the parent of an illegitimate child in Dalmailing.
Lady MacAdam, a domineering woman of the parish who is sometimes a problem for Mr. Balwhidder.