Scottish divine, youngest son of Adam McCheyne, writer to the signet, was born in Edinburgh, 21 May 1813. At the age of four he knew the characters of the Greek alphabet, and was able to sing and recite fluently. He entered the high school in his eighth year, and matriculated in November 1827 at Edinburgh University, where he showed very versatile powers, and distinguished himself especially in poetical exercises, being awarded a special prize by Professor Wilson for a poem on ‘The Covenanters.’ In the winter of 1831 he commenced his studies in the Divinity Hall, under Dr. Chalmers and Dr. Welsh; and he was licensed as a preacher by the Annan presbytery on 1 July 1835.
McCheyne devoted all his energies to preaching; and although he was an accomplished Hebrew scholar, he left few permanent proofs of his erudition. He had refined musical taste, and was one of the first of the Scottish ministers to take an active part in the improvement of the congregational service of praise. Long after his death he was constantly referred to as ‘the saintly McCheyne.’