Duff, Alexander, Pioneer Church of Scotland missionary to India, born Moulin, Perthshire, 25 April 1806, died Sidmouth, Devon, 12 February 1878.

Influenced by Thomas Chalmers at St Andrews University and a key figure in the group of students who set their hearts and minds on overseas mission, Duff was appointed headmaster by the Church of Scotland. In Calcutta from 1830, Duff articulated a philosophy of mission based on the idea that higher education in English could be intrinsically evangelistic. With roots in the Scottish Enlightenment traditions and attractive to both Evangelicals and Moderates in the Church of Scotland the theory enjoyed wide support. And as practiced by a gifted teacher it was successful for a time. However in the long run Christian faith needed vernacular expression, and it was discovered that English was more vulnerable to the challenge of materialism than the languages and cultures of India.

While back in Scotland from 1834 he wrote India and India Missions (1839) and Missions the Chief End of the Christian Church (1839). In India again from 1840 to 1851, and 1855 to 1863, he returned to be convenor of the Free Church foreign mission committee and in 1867 be appointed to the first ever chair of missions.

John Roxborogh