The Rev’d Francis James Paul was educated at Queen’s University, Belfast, New College Edinburgh, Leipzig, Madrid and Geneva and the Presbyterian College, Belfast. Queen’s in Belfast and the University of Glasgow later conferred upon him honorary doctorates of Divinity. Mr. Paul was the minister of Bushmills from 1902 to 1911. Writing in 1996, H.B. Wallace described him as ‘probably the most erudite minister in the long history of the Congregation. He had a splendid academic career, was widely read, spoke German and French fluently, and had a working knowledge of Italian and Spanish. He was much sought after as a writer and lecturer and was known far beyond the bounds of his native Ireland.’ Assuming that Mr. Paul, who had studied at some of the most prestigious theological halls in Europe, would also have been proficient in Hebrew, Greek and Latin (not to mention English!), it is perfectly reasonable to suggest that he was conversant with no fewer than eight languages!
Mr. Paul was also highly regarded by the members of the Route Presbytery. In 1911, as a testimonial in favour of Mr Paul’s candidature for the vacant Chair at Magee College, the Presbytery stated that: ‘The earnestness of his preaching of the gospel has been combined with instructiveness and practical emphasis; and the influence of his high character, his straightforward unselfish aims, and his sympathetic disposition as a pastor, have been felt and appreciated throughout the district.’ Seldom in its long history would the Route Presbytery have cause to declare such unequivocal praise. Mr. Paul resigned from Bushmills in 1911 upon receiving the call to the Chair of Church History at Magee. In 1922 Professor Paul went to Assembly’s College, Belfast where he became Principal in 1923.
Principal Paul died suddenly on July 3rd, 1941 and is buried in the church graveyard at Bushmills Church, the only congregation in which he served as pastor.