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Culross and Tulliallan
Chapter VI. The Kirk-Session Records of Culross from 1629 to 1640


IT is only of late years that the records of the kirk-session—or, as they are popularly termed, the session books, kept in every Scottish parish— have been conned and investigated, with the view of obtaining thereby some information regarding the manners and customs of our ancestors. Dr Robert Chambers availed himself to a considerable extent of the collection of materials thus furnished, in his ‘Domestic Annals of Scotland’; and Dr Ebenezer Henderson has both published an interesting selection from the kirk-session records, and also incorporated these, with many more from the same source, in his *Annals of Dunfermline." Dr Ross, too, has given to the world a very interesting little volume in connection with the session records of Dalgety, as illustrating the history of its minister, Mr Donaldson, in the Covenanting times. But it cannot yet be said that the subject has been very generally taken up, or that the extensive and rich field, with the stores buried therein, has been investigated and worked with the thoroughness that it deserves. There can be little doubt that a vast amount of inedited information is still to be procured, alike from the records of our kirk-sessions and the minute-books of our burgh councils, which would throw a flood of light on the daily life and social manners of our Scottish forefathers.

The session records of Culross commence in 1629, and go on uninterruptedly to 1657, betwixt which date and 1676 there is a blank, arising no doubt from the ecclesiastical commotions and disorders of the period, when no minutes of the session’s proceedings were preserved. And another hiatus occurs between 1684 and 1693. The earliest volume extends from 1629 to 1646, and is in a sadly dilapidated condition— some of the first pages having crumbled into fragments, whilst many of the others have become nearly illegible from damp. Yet, after the expenditure of a good deal of time and labour, I have succeeded in deciphering almost all that is worthy of being preserved and extracted. The succeeding volumes are generally both in good preservation and sufficiently legible.

At the period when these minutes begin, Scotland was in a condition of comparative tranquillity, though many would doubtless characterise it as the tranquillity of exhaustion or indifference, and perhaps, with still more reason, as that of the ominous calm that precedes the storm. The old Presbyterian spirit of ecclesiastical independence had been in a great measure crushed, and Episcopacy had been forced on and sullenly submitted to by the nation. James VI., after his accession to the English throne, felt himself emboldened to exhibit and carry into action the old hostility by which he had long been animated against the Presbyterian system of Church government, which had asserted itself in such uncourtly fashion against kingly supremacy, and exercised so strict a surveillance over kingly morals. He encountered in his measures the most determined opposition, but at last succeeded in bending the Church to the acceptance of a modified Episcopacy. Nothing more than a modified form of it was ever established in Scotland, whether in the days of James, his son, or his grandsons; and the abortive attempt of Charles I. to introduce the liturgical service, in addition to the ecclesiastical polity of England, proved such a disastrous failure that it was never afterwards repeated. I shall have occasion again to enter more fully into the real character of the ecclesiastical measures which the Stewarts sought to enforce on the Scottish people with such pertinacity and cruelty, and which the latter, though at times crushed and silenced, continued to resist to the very death, and in resisting and freeing themselves from which they at last succeeded. But for the present it may suffice to say, that notwithstanding the supremacy of the bishops, who certainly regulated and controlled the affairs of the Church, its administration as regards services and parochial discipline remained throughout essentially Presbyterian, as it had been settled at the Reformation. The machinery of the Church courts, with their judicatories of kirk-sessions, presbyteries, and synods, continued the same, with this important proviso—that in the last of the three the bishop acted as a perpetual moderator, and practically exercised in all of them an absolute control. In examining, therefore, the kirk-session records of Scottish parishes, we find comparatively little difference in their proceedings and phraseology in the days of Episcopacy from those in the times of Presbytery, unless it be, indeed, in the much greater vigour of administration and discipline which always marks the latter.

In 1629, when the first volume of the Culross session records commences, Mr Robert Colville— of whom, in the preceding chapter, we have had some account—was minister of the parish. He succeeded, as already detailed, Mr John Dykes, who had been appointed minister of Culross as far back as 1567; so that at the period under notice, Mr Colville was the second Protestant minister who had served the cure there since the Reformation. His career, however, was now rapidly approaching its close; and of the following extracts from the kirk-session minutes, there is only one which belongs to the period of his actual ministry. It is not of much interest in itself, but may nevertheless be presented:—

“30 January 1631.

“The said day it was havelie regrated by the minister that the West Kirkyaird dykes were not as yett repaired, as had been concluded and enjoined before, and that the kirk treasurie wad be burdened therewith to much unless remedy was used in tyme, and a way sett down quhereby all such as had through stones might furnish monie for suplie, and perfecting of that work, and some dyat appointed for that end whilk was thought expedient.”

It is well known that Culross Church is a collegiate or double charge, and so blessed with the incumbency of two ministers; but it is not so generally apprehended that it actually at one time could boast, if not of three churches, at least of three churchyards. Of one of these—St Mungo’s Kirk or Chapel, with its little burying-ground—I shall say nothing at present; and, indeed, it belongs altogether to the past. But there are still two burial-grounds in the parish in actual use. One of them is attached to the Abbey Church, and known as the Abbey Churchyard. The other is called the West Churchyard, and adjoins the West Kirk—an old ruined church situated on the old road, now in great measure disused, leading from Culross through the moor to Kincardine. It is a lonely and sequestered but not unromantic locality—a veritable “God’s acre,” such as might have inspired Gray to the composition of his “ Elegy.” Much speculation has prevailed regarding the West Church, of which little more now exists than a portion of the walls, enclosing what must have been an edifice of very small dimensions. Scarcely an authentic record of it has been preserved beyond the following extract from an Act of the Scottish Parliament passed in 1633:—

“Attoure Oure said Soverane lord and estates forsaids of this present Parliament, considering that the abbay kirk of Culrois hes beine the kirk quhairine the cure hes beine servit, be preatching of the Word of God, celebrating the Holy Coffiwnion, and exercising and vsing of vther ecclesiastical discipline sen the Reformatione, and that the kirk callit the paroche kirk of Culrois is ane old kirk quhairine service is not nor hes not beine vsit since memorie of man, and is altogether ruinous, decayit, and falline down in divers pairts, swa that the , said pblpay kirk of Culrois is the most apt and fitt kirk for serving of the cure thairat in tyme coming, and be reputt and haldine the ordinar paroche kirk for that effect in all tyme heireftir: Thairfor Our said Soverane lord and estates forsaids, in this present Parliament hes erected, and be thir presents erects, the said kirk callit the abbay kirk in ane frie paroche kirk, to the said burgh of Culrois parochiners, and inhabitants within the said parochine thairof, to be callit in all tyme coming the paroche kirk of Culrois, swa that the inhabitants within the bounds thairof sail nawayes be astricted heirefter to the said auld kirk callit the paroche kirk of Culrois, nor discipline thairof, and vphald the samyne to that effect, bot sail onlie be subject to the discipline to be vsit at the said abbay kirk of Culrois, now to be callit the paroche kirk thairof in all tyme coming; and wills and grants, and for his hienes and his successors decemes and ordaines, that the said abbay kirk, now to be callit the said paroche kirk of Culrois, sail have, bruik, and joyse the like priweledge, jmmwuitie, and libertie as the said auld kirk callit the paroche kirk had at the foundatione thairof, or grantit thereto in any tyme bygaine, with the stipend dew to the said auld paroche kirk, to be payit to the minister present, and to come serving the cure at the said new erectit kirk, and vthers friedomes, liberties, easments, and priweledges quhatsumever, sick as mans and gleib, apperteining to the said auld kirk in tyme coming for now and ever, bot con-tradictione or impediment.”


The ABBEY CHURCH of Culross, with Ruins of Monastery. From the Lower Manse Garden.


The West Kirk of Culross.

We know from various sources that the West Church was the same as that described above as “the paroche kirk of Culrois.” Such, indeed, was its history and character. Previous to the Reformation it was the real parish church — what is now known as the Abbey or parish Church of Culross being then merely the church of the monastery. The above passage in the Act of 1633 is indeed a very interesting and important one, and may almost be said to be exhaustive as regards the original destination of the West Kirk. It appears that at this date no remembrance existed of its having been used as a place of Worship—that no Protestant service had ever been held in it, and that probably even at the Reformation it only existed in a ruined and dilapidated condition. It seems determined, also, that ever since the Reformation the Abbey Church —which prior to that event was only the church of the monastery—had been regularly used as the parish church; that prior to the Reformation and up to 1633 the West Kirk was legally the parish church of Culross, and that the Act of Charles I.’s Parliament above quoted finally deprived it of that character, and transferred its endowments to the Abbey Church, which thus for the first time became de jure —what since the Reformation it had been de facto— the parish church.

On the 25th of February 1631, Mr Colville died rather suddenly—it would seem, in consequence of being “stricken with a deadly palsie.” A great disputation ensued regarding the election of his successor. The heritors and kirk-sesBion were very anxious to procure the Bishop’s sanction to the appointment of a Mr John Murray, who had intimated his readiness to accept the charge provided a suitable “ helper ” were appointed, “whose maintenance he was most -willing himself for the most part to yield, and not to lay burdens on the people, since hithertill now he had never sought for one earthlie reward nor stipend.” In this offer we have the first intimation of the idea, which was now coming to be generally entertained, of the desirability of having a colleague appointed to the minister, and a double charge established, in the church of Culross. But notwithstanding this liberal proposal on his part, the commissioners appointed by the kirk-session to transact the business reported “that it was an impossibilitie to gett Mr Johne Murray, for reasons known by the Bishope and them, which were not thought expedient to express in write.” They next proceed to say that they had “ sett their mindes on Mr John Duncan, present minister of Sauling [Saline], whom, with the Bishop’s consent (being both qualified and of good report), they had sought, who also condition-alle had wealnew yielded and consented to be their minister.”

A hitch in the proceedings was threatened by a manoeuvre on the part of the laird of Earlshall, who contrived to procure on behalf of his son, Mr Robert Bruce, a presentation from the Crown to the living of Culross, notwithstanding that another had already been obtained in favour of Mr Duncan. In these circumstances the Bishop of Dunblane left the decision of the matter in the hands of the heritors and kirk-session, who, on the question being put to the vote, almost unanimously declared their adhesion to the appointment of Mr Duncan; and to this deliverance, though not without considerable difficulty, effect was ultimately given.

Culross was episcopally in the diocese of Dunblane, and, as we have seen, subject to the government of its bishop. But it was also in the Presbytery of Dunfermline—though this does not seem to have been the case originally, and for a considerable period after the Reformation. It had then belonged to the Presbytery of Dunblane, like the adjoining parish of Tulliallan; and the disjunction had taken place about the time when Mr Colville was appointed minister. Just before the Revolution, as we find from the * Register of the Diocesan Synod of Dunblane,’ recently edited by Dr Wilson, a movement was made to have it again united with the old confederation ; but the overthrow of Episcopacy stopped all further action in the matter. Culross has always regarded Dunfermline as her metropolis in all social and domestic concerns—though, as regards civil and criminal jurisdiction, her capital is Dunblane.

Having thus got Mr Duncan finally settled as minister, in opposition to the scion of the Earlshall family, we shall not, for some time to come, find much to disturb the tranquillity of the parish. The chronicles are chiefly of the small-beer order.

“22 April 1632.

“Quo die, with uniforme consent, it was ordained that if any man his horse, kow, or beast shall be found aither by night or by day eating grass in either of kirkyairds, both West Kirkyaird and Abbey Kirkyaird, the master or owner to pay ad pios urns; and for this cause, the dykes to be repaired with diligence.”

“13 May 1632.

“Item, compeired James Peacock, and being accused for his kow eating in the kirkyaird—confessit—ordained to pay 40 8h., according to the late Act maid thereanent.”

“24 June 1638.

“The said day it was ordained that all who had not brought stones to the West Kirkdyk, to be warned, and in time to bring the same."

“8 July 1632.

“The said day ordained James Peacock to pass throw the rest of the parochiners who had not ledd in stones for a mending of the West Kirkyaird, and to warn them to bring their stones, under pain of disobedience.”

“22 of Julie 1632.

“Isabell Cowston called for buying and selling butter with James Benny in tyme of sermon, compeared both, who confessed their fault, and after admonition, were pardoned for the first fault.”

Some scolds, male and female, are called up and reproved. Scolding or “flyting” seems, from both the parochial and burgh records, to have been a very besetting sin with our ancestors—more especially the fair sex—for whose accommodation and reformation the branks and ducking-stool were in frequent requisition. Even Sunday shone no Sabbath-day, for such explosions. The authorities considered it as a delinquency which they were bound to inquire into and punish; but Witty Eppie, the famous alewife of Buckhaven, of chap-book notoriety, took a more sensible view of the matter. In her house we are told that the wives “had their fill o’ flytin’”; but no blows were allowed, for, as Eppie used to declare, “Aff hands was fair-play.”

“18 August 1632.

"Item, called Archd. Tailyeour, with his wyf Margaret Smythe, and accused for continued stryving and flyting on the Lord’s Bay with James Sinclair and his wyf Bessie Tailyeour. Continued to the next meeting.”

“26 Auguit 1632.

“The quhilk day called Archd. Buckham, with his wyf Margaret Izatt, and Cecil Brunston, as also Archd. Tailzeour, with his wyf Margaret Smythe, and James Sinclair, with his wyf Bessie Tailzeour, who, all accused of scolding and flyting on the Lord’s Day, could not deny; but the matter being cleared by Thomas Izat, butcher, that the men were not so in the fault as thrie of the women—vizt., Bessie Tailzeour, Margaret Ezat, and Cecil Brunton—therefore the men were gravelie admonished not to committ the lyk, and dimitted. But the women were ordained to be brought to the market cross the next Saturday, and to stand there in the space of one hour for examplis sake, and that for their scolding on the Lord’s Day.”

The following extract is interesting as showing the names and designations at this early period of the elders in the church of Culross. The list is most beautifully written in the original, and proves that the old reputation of the monks of Culross in caligraphy was still admirably maintained in the hands of their Presbyterian successors. One or two of the names, it will be observed, have been subsequently deleted, but the complement was probably made up by the substitution of others. At the present day, one is surprised to find such a multitude of elders or officebearers in the church—thirty in all, or fifteen for the town and fifteen for the country. And afterwards, as we shall see, this number was increased. The fact is, that under the old Presbyterian polity the office of elder was regarded as a very serious and responsible one. Along with one or two others, he had a special district assigned him, within which he was expected to act as the deputy or assistant of the minister—to visit at stated times every household, and see that its members were exemplary in their conduct and diligent in the fulfilment of their religious duties. He was to rebuke and exhort, be diligent in detecting the existence of any sin or delinquency, and was bound to report all such, or even rumours of such, to the minister and kirk-session. In short, the posse of elders acted very much as a sort of moral policemen, or ecclesiastical detectives, and we shall have many instances of their unwearied vigilance in ferreting out scandals and haling offenders to justice. Whatever may be thought now of the inquisitorial nature of the sway which they exercised, or the ridiculous nature of the charges which as members of the kirk-session they solemnly investigated and adjudicated upon, it must always be remembered that they took the great majority of the country along with them, and had the support of almost all the respectable and God-fearing portion of the community. Toleration and indifference were, with our earnest-minded ancestors, convertible terms; and neither Episcopalians nor Presbyterians had yet attained to any proper ideas of the rights of private judgment and liberty of conscience—at least to any idea of the right of exercising individual liberty in matters of religious worship and practice. We may smile now at the extravagances of the Puritans and Covenanters—and nothing is more open to ridicule than an excess of religious zeal, or extravagance in religious phraseology; but we ought always to bear in mind the infinite debt of gratitude which we lie under to those men for the determined and self-sacrificing resistance which they made to the pretensions of tyranny ecclesiastical and civil, and the foundation which they thereby laid of all our present liberty and independence. Nor even, as Dr M'Crie has very well shown in the review of the ‘ Tales of My Landlord,’ had the Scottish Presbyterians any such monopoly in the art of saying and doing ridiculous things as it has commonly been the fashion to credit them with. Some specimens which he gives of the discourses of Episcopalian divines are about as absurd as any of those recorded in that curious and somewhat apocryphal volume, entitled ‘ Scottish Presbyterian Eloquence Displayed.’ And generally it will be well to recollect, that in the change of manners and fashions, what in one age appears serious and becoming, may in a following one only seem ludicrous and reprehensible.

“7 October 1632.

“Elders on lete nominat be chosen for the

Land.

 

Toume.

John Colvile of Comrie

1

George Bruce of Camock.

John Erskine of Balgownie

 

(James Aikine of Middle

2

[ Grange.

John Hamiltone of Blaire

3

M. Edward Blaw [deleted].

S. John Prestoune of Valefield 4

Adam Primrose [deleted].

Robert Bruce of Blairhall

5

Thomas Ezate.

Gilbert Gourlay of Wester ) Grange . . . j

6

John Haliday.

James Bruce of Bordie .

7

Robert Forret.

Adam Mastertoune of East 1

• 8

John Sands.

Grange . . . j

Allane Blaw of Castell Hill

9

Mr Robert Gourlay.

Wm. Sands of Birkenhead

10

Patrick Rowane.

Patrick Bruce

11

Patrick Keir [deleted].

John Turcane

12

Andrew Gibsone.

John Gray

13

Alexander Ezate.

Hendrie Cowey

14

Andrew Brande.

John Kalender

15

James Sands.

“Item, this roll was ordained to be intimat out of pulpit the 14 of October, and that, (if any of the congregation wald pretend lawful cause why these may not ruell, they would come upon the 18 of October, and gif them in, with assurance to be heard.”

It is evident from the above, that so far from the members of the kirk-session belonging to an inferior class of the community, as has sometimes been imagined, they comprised really—at least in the older days of Presbytery—the most influential persons of the town and adjoining country. With two exceptions all the elders mentioned have special duties and districts assigned them, and the deletion of three of the names must have been made at a subsequent date. As concerns the two exceptions in question —that is to say, John Erskine of Balgownie and George Bruce of Camock—it is not improbable that for them, as the most distinguished of the company, the honourable and comparatively light duty of presiding over the collections at the church door was reserved; whilst it is also extremely likely that on all solemn occasions, such as the celebration of the Communion, they took precedence of the others.

Reference has already been made to John Colville of Comrie, who heads the list of elders in 1632, and who must now have been a man advanced in years, seeing that more than forty years had elapsed since he, as the eldest son and heir of Alexander Colville the Commendator, had made over the estates of Culross Abbey to his unde, Sir James Colville of Easter Wemyss, afterwards the first Lord Colville of Culross. We know almost nothing personally of John Colville of Comrie, but his wife, Elizabeth Melville of Halhill, has achieved a considerable reputation under the designation of “Lady Culross,” so renowned as a devout Presbyterian, and the authoress of a poem entitled “Ane Godlie Dream,” or “Lady Culross’s Dream.” She was the friend and correspondent of Mr Livingstone, the minister of Ancrum, in whose autobiography, edited by Mr Tweedie for the Wodrow Society, her religious fervour is referred to as of the most wonderful description. One scene in particular, on the night following a Communion occasion at the Kirk of Shotts in June 1630, when she displayed an extraordinary gift of prayer, forms a remarkable chapter in the records of Presbyterian enthusiasm.

A number of letters are preserved addressed by Lady Culross to Mr Livingstone, chiefly in or about the year 1631. Her “Dream,” first published, it would appear, at Aberdeen in 1644, displays a moderate degree of ability on the favourite theme of a visit to the unseen world, but is by no means of so appalling or sensational a description as has been sometimes reported. She had three sons, Alexander, James, and Samuel. The first of these seems to have studied for the Church, went abroad to France, became professor of divinity at Sedan, and married a French lady, Anne le Blanc. James, the second son, is said to have occasioned his mother great uneasiness by his conduct; and a similar feeling seems to have possessed her regarding her youngest son Samuel, of whom, in one of her letters, she speaks as going to the College of St Andrews, “ bot I fear him deadly.” How far Samuel may have given her serious cause for apprehension we know not, but he certainly did not inherit the strong Presbyterian proclivities of his mother. On the contrary, he has attained some reputation as the author of ‘ The Scots Hudibras,’ or ‘The Whigs’ Supplication,’ a burlesque narrative of a supposed expedition of the Scotch Presbyterians to London to implore the clemency of Charles II., and a mitigation of the oppressive measures against the Covenanters. It is not altogether destitute of merit, and displays some coarse wit, but falls far short in general ability of the celebrated work of Butler, on which it is modelled. I do not know when the first edition was published, but a reprint appeared at St Andrews in 1796 by James Morison, the University printer. It had evidently been issued before the Revolution. Samuel Colville refers to his mother’s poem, “Lady Culross’s Dream,” but gives no indication of his belongings or relationship beyond the following quotation in his preface or “Apology to the Reader,” from “John Cockburn —

“Samuel was sent to France,
To learn to sing and dance,
And play upon a fiddle:
Now he’s a man of great esteem,—
Hia mother got him in a dream,
At Culross on a girdle.”

So much for Jphn Colville of Comrie and his family. The title/ assumed by his wife of “ Lady Culross,” or “Ljkdy Culross the younger,” occasions some perplexity. I have already given some account of th<fe first lord, and mentioned that he was succeeded foy his grandson James, as the second Lord Colv/iUe of Culross. The latter is commonly stated u4 the Peerages to have died in 1640 without issue, and the succession to the title is then, said to have devolved on his father's cousin, the above-mentioned John Colville, Laird of Comrie, who, however, never claimed it, as did neither his son, grandson, nor great-grandson. It was first again taken up in 1723 by John Colville, an officer in the army, great-grandson of Alexander Colville, the professor of divinity at Sedan, and great-great-grandson of John Colville, the son of the Commendator, and husband of the authoress of “Lady Culross’s Dream.”

Now in some important particulars the above account is wholly erroneous, and its recent rectification is due to the researches of a member of the family, who has obJjjingly communicated to me the result of his investigation. It appears from these that, so far from James, ihe second Lord Colville of Culross, dying in 1640 without issue, he survived till about 1655, was three times married, and left by his second wife two sons, Wiliam and John, who seem both to have died young, fcut to have nevertheless borne successively the tiiips of third and fourth Lords Culross. On the death of the last, about 1667, the peerage became dorm^t till 1723, when it was claimed by and awarded to the above-mentioned John Colville, great - grand8011 f the divinity professor at Sedan. From him, and consequently also from Lady Culross and her husband John Colville of Comrie, the eldest son of the Commendator, the present Lord Colville of Culross is lineally descended. He owns no property, however, of any kind about Culross, the extensive possessions of his ancestors in that district having apparently all been disposed of before the dose of the seventeenth century.

James, second Lord Colville of Culross, seems to have been a man of very doubtful character. In 1639 he figures in the kirk-session records of Culross on an arraignment of immorality brought against him by a certain Catherine Turcan, whose charge, however, is not found proven, and his lordship is ultimately purged of it by his own oath before the congregation. He seems to have left the country shortly afterwards, and passed over to Ireland, where during Cromwell’s expedition he served with considerable distinction, and had a grant of lands made to him in Kilkenny. His first wife had died before he left Scotland, and he seems to have married his second and third in Ireland, where he ultimately himself died about 1655. Before the birth of his two sons, however, by his second marriage, John Colville of Comrie was heir-presumptive to the peerage, and he and his wife may consequently have enjoyed by courtesy the respective titles of Lord and Lady Culross the younger. I can devise, at least, no more feasible explanation. It is certain that neither of them could ever have held the title by legal right.

As regards the second on the list of elders, John Erskine of Balgownie, he was a lineal descendant of Robert, fourth Earl of Mar, whose son, James Erskine, acquired the estate of Balgownie, and was on his mother’s side descended from John Campbell of New Milns and Loudoun, one of the thirty Lollards who were prosecuted by Archbishop Blackadder, and only escaped by the favour of James IV. He espoused with great zeal the cause of the Reformation, and transmitted his Presbyterian zeal to his descendants. One of these appears frequently in the kirk-session and burgh records in the early part of the last century as Sir John Erskine of Balgownie, having been raised to the rank of knighthood. The male representation terminated in his son, Mr John Erskine, advocate, who was succeeded in the estate of Balgownie by his sister Hannah. She married in 1736 John Cunningham, younger of Comrie, and their only son was the Rev. Robert Cunningham, minister of the Antiburgher congregation at East Bams, in East Lothian. The circumstance of his being connected with that Church seems to have arisen from his mother having married, as her second husband, Mr Adam Gibb, one of the leading Secession ministers of Edinburgh. Mr Cunningham was the great-grandfather of the late Captain John Cunningham of Balgownie, who was thus a lineal descendant of the Earls of Mar.

The third elder on the list, John Hamilton of Blair—or as it is now called, Blair Castle—was a descendant, probably a grandson, of the famous Archbishop Hamilton, who was hanged at Stirling after the capture of Dumbarton Castle in 1571. This unfortunate Churchman is said to have built the old house of Blair, which was ill existence to the end of the last century. Among his illegitimate offspring, besides the father of John Hamilton, was a daughter Margaret, who married Robert Bruce of Blairhall, elder brother of the first Lord Kinloss, and father of the Robert Bruce who figures fifth in our list. This last-named Robert Bruce of Blairhall married Catherine, daughter of Sir John Preston of Valleyfield, also recorded there. They were the parents of Thomas Bruce of Blairhall, and his brother Sir William Bruce of Kinross, the celebrated architect.

I shall not trouble my readers at present with any further remarks on the individuals whose names are recorded in the above list, as I have already diverged rather unduly from my main subject, and opportunities will again occur of referring to them, as well as to the localities of which they axe appointed supervisors. Returning to the kirk-session records, we find noted the occurrence of a destructive Btorm which has rendered the repair of the church necessary:—

“16 February 1633.

“Item, since upon the 8 of Feb. 1633 that most impetuous storm of wind had spoiled and tyrred manie pieces both of stiple, kirk, and queire, Gilbert Gourlay, Adam Primrose, John Haliday, John Sands, Alexander Ezat, together with Andro Broun, wright, and John Anderson, slatter, were ordained to sight the edifice of the kirk, and to give their judgment both for the cost and most commodious way to repair the same, as also to consider what expenses the same would require for amending of the said rooffe, and to report.”

Here is a specimen of Sabbath desecration which would scarcely happen at the present day, though we are much less strict than our ancestors on the question of Sunday observance:—

“17 April 1633.

"Playaris at the goffe were given to the session, playing in tyme of sermon—viz., Rt. Gray, Et. Primrose, Wm. Inche, and John Sandis in Sands. Ordained to compeir next meeting.”

“28 April 1633.

“Compeared Rt. Gray, confessed playing in time of sermon—ordained to pay 12/: cautioner Patrick Bruce. Item, Wm. Inche ordained to pay 12/: cautioner Andrew Brand. Item, Rt. Primrose ordained to pay 12/-: cautioner Pat. Bruce.”

An ordinance is issued against “ outlandish drunkards ”—that is to say, strangers who frequented the Culross market on Saturday and protracted their convivialities into the Sunday:—

“4 May 1634.

“Quo die the session being frequently convened, and some outlanders being found drunk in tyme of sermon—viz., Wm. Huison and Wm. Day, indwellers in the Kruk of Devoun3 —after regrat made that certain mealmen, fieashers, and others marketmen did tarry all night fra their dwelling-houses and paroch kirk, drinking all the Saturday overnight till Sonday in the morning, yea and till afternoon upon the Lord His Day, drinking the wholl tyme, and so thereafter departing drunk, to the great offence of God and His people: Therefore, for redress of the premises, it was uniformlie statute and ordained that first inquirie be made of such persons by the magistrates and searchers, and such like outlandish drunkards being apprehendit personallie be the foresaid magistrates, or that they be detained in firmancie till they satisfie or find sufficient caution to obey accordingly; and that all sellers of drink to such, and accepters of them, shall pay ad pios usus 40 sh. how often soever they sal be found guiltie, whether those accepters be toune folk or par-ochiners in any other part whatsoever of the parochine of Culross. And thir presents to be intimat out of pulpit the next Sabboth, and at the market-cross the Saturday preceding, that none pretend ignorance; quhilk was done accordingly.”

“18 January 1635.

“Quo die compeared David Clerk, and accused of shooting doves in tyme of sermon, confessed the samen; ordered to pay 12s., or else to be punished in body.”

“8 March 1635.

“James Hunter's house at the new mylne delated to be a common receptacle of drunkards in time of sermon.”

The reader may be reminded here of Tam o’ Shanter’s misdoings:—

“That at the Lord's house, even on Sunday,

Thou drank wi’ Kirkton Jean till Monday.” “Act anent Vaigeries tba the Kirk.

“22 May 1636.

“Be reason of John Oat, Donald Glass, and James Porteous, or any other, walking, talking, lying, or sleeping in any pairt or place whatsomever, but namlie in the kirkyaird, in tyme of sermon, herefore it is statute and ordained that whosoever person or persons shall be found so doing in tyme of sermon as said is, that those guilty and violators of the premisses, shall pay ad pios usus six shillings toties guoties ; and same Act to be intimate out of the pulpit without delay.”

It took a long time to train the Scottish people to Sabbath observance, after the laxity to which they had been accustomed in Popish times. People would persist in continuing their ordinary vocations on Sunday, notwithstanding all the denunciations of the kirk-session. A whimsically severe warning is recorded in the following:—

“29 May 1636.

"Quo die compeared Wm. Tulloch, who inacted himself that if it should be proven that he or anie of his were working at the saltpans in time of divyne service, he should be content to be put in waird, and to live there 8 dayes on bread and watter on his own charges.”

“Act anent Brydell Lawings.

“17 July 1636.

“Item, anent brydell lawings, it is ordained that ther shall be at brydells invited but 24 persons on both the sydes, and the lawing to be only ten shillings for each person. And if it shall happen that either the number of persons be mor or over the pryce for ilk person greater than is above sett down and modified, that then thes failzie and penaltie shall be 10 lbs. toties quoties; and the transgressors—viz., makeris of such brydells—to be punished in exacting the foresaid onlay (without respect of persons), be the bailyees in the toun, and be the land bailyies in the land; and the same penalties to be delyvered be them ad pios 1pus”

The next extract is of a very interesting kind, as showing the tenacity with which the common people clung to the old Popish superstitions in connection with pilgrimages to chapels, holy wells, and other places, presided over by certain saints, who were supposed to exercise a benign influence in the cure of various maladies. The Reformed Church set its face strenuously against such practices, but all its endeavours were for a long time futile:—

"16 Julie 1637.

“Jhon Ker and Jhon Duncan, websters, called in for going with Hearie Wannan, he distracted in his wittes, to the chappell of Stuthle, in Stratherne, he confessed, because they wer informed that ther he might recover his health. It was judged a great scandall and offence; and therefore ar ordered to mak ther repentance publicklie before the congregation, and to pay ad pios urns each of them half a dollar, and to be imprisoned 24 hours.

"For this cause an Act was made that whosoever in the parishe should presume to goe to such suspect places for to sek ther health, or sould accompanie thos that under sickness to use such suspect means, to be banished the parishe.”

The chapel of “Stuthle” is evidently the same as that of Struthell, in the parish of Muthil in Perthshire, regarding which and its well, which attracted hosts of pilgrims; interesting corroborative testimony is furnished in the Appendix to the ‘ Register of the Diocesan Synod of Dunblane ’ already quoted.

Just one week after the deliverance of the Culross kirk-session regarding the superstitious weavers and. their friend Harry Wannan, Charles I. made his illr judged and abortive attempt to force the Service-book on the Scottish people. The Dean of Edinburgh began to read the collect for the day in St Giles’s Church, Edinburgh; Jenny Geddes threw her stool at his head, and the Service-book never again was brought forward, even in the terrible persecuting days between the Restoration and the Revolution. A commotion was produced in Scotland that resulted in the complete triumph of Presbytery for a time. Great exertions were made by the leaders of the movement to secure the general concurrence of country congregations in protesting against the introduction of a liturgy. The appeal was readily responded to. Here are the utterances of the kirk-session of Culross on the subject:—

“1 October 1637.

“This day was proponed the fear that we were in about this Service-book now intending and urging against all order, and which all full of superstition and Popery, and that others already troubled for the same—it was therefore agreed upon for to give in a supplication in name of this paroch to the Counsell against the said book.”

“14 Octr. 1637.

“ The session frequently convened, did deliberat what wes most expedient to be done anent the matter of this Service-book, since ther wes a counsell day the week following; whereupon it wes resolved that for the land there should go to Edinr. to attend the counsell ther for this busines as commissioners from the said parishe, Sir John Prestoun of Yaleyfield, Robert Bruce of Blairhall, and Mr David Gourlay, to joyne with others in giving in supplication, and using any other mean in their wisdom that should be found expedient, whereto all with one consent agreed right willingly.”

The famous Tables have been constituted, and the National Covenant is being subscribed in the Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh. Culross appoints commissioners :—

"March 11,1638

“Lykwyse this day the session appoints ther commissioners to concur with the Presbytrie for subscriving of the Covenant of the land, according as wes appointed by the tables in Edinr.: commissioners for the lands wer, Jhon Erskine of Balgownie, Sir John Prestoun of Yaleyfield, Robert Bruce of Blairhall; for the toun, Jho. Haliday, Archd. Anderson, and Rot. Forret, clerk.”


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