As a young parish priest Thomas Chalmers pursued an academic rather than a church career. After a serious illness he returned to preaching with a fervour and intensity that soon won him national fame. When he moved from rural Kilmany to industrial Glasgow in 1815 he was shocked by the appalling poverty he encountered, which he strongly believed was caused by the breakdown of communal responsibility. In a social experiment he denied paupers in his parish institutional poor relief and instead revived traditional community spirit and a duty of care for the poor, whom he encouraged to regain their independence through ‘labour, thrift and temperance’. After this experiment Chalmers quit parish preaching and, in 1843, he led the breakaway group that formed the Free Church.