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Culross and Tulliallan
Chapter VIII. The Kirk-Session Records from 1646 to 1650


THE first entry of interest that appears in the session-book of Culross, after the long surcease in consequence of the prevalence of the plague, is an admonition by the ever-zealous Mr Duncan, the minister, to check the progress of “malignancie”— that is to say, of any tendency on the part of the parishioners to join the schemes of the Royalist party. Those who did so were termed “Malignants”:—

"10 March 1646.

“The minister desyred the elders, that what they had found concerning malignancie in toune or land, they wold now mak dedaratione of it and give it in, that they might be punished according to the Act red to them befor.”

“20 Apryll 1646.

"The names of widowes within the parioch who had their husbands killed in England to be givene to the minister against the next dayt of mietting.”

“Some honest men to be thought upon against the next day for visiting the brewster-houses in landward one Sunday before sermon, and to see that the people keepe the kirk preciesly."

“ 12 May 1646.

"Because of sundry complaints givene be the elders against people vaiging from the kirk in the afternoone, it was thought miet that searchers should be apoynted for the landward, and that especially they should try the brew-8ter-houses that nae people resort thir.”

This institution of “ searchers ” on Sunday for watching and arresting any persons who might be walking abroad in time of divine service, if it did not originate in the flourishing time of Presbyterian supremacy subsequent to 1638, was at least extensively developed in these days, and maintained itself as a Presbyterian speciality to a comparatively recent date. It prevailed more especially in burgh towns such as Glasgow, Dunfermline, and others, where the puritanical leaven was strong and active among the magistracy. In the former-mentioned town, down to near the end of the last century searchers used regularly to perambulate the Green, to pounce upon any regardless individual who might be so far left to himself as to indulge in a walk on the Sunday afternoon. At last they caught a Tartar. Mr filack-adder, father of Mr Blackadder of Killeam, long chairman of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company, having been Bummarily arrested and “warded ” in this fashion, brought an action of wrongous imprisonment against the magistrates of Glasgow, and got decree of damages against them in the Court of Session. The searchers’ occupation in the city of St

Mungo was from that time gone, but it still continued to flourish for a while in other localities. In Dunfermline, for instance, it was quite common for persons to be apprehended who were found on the streets carrying water or engaged in any similar occupation; and many a “young man from the country” who had walked into town with the intention of spending the Sunday with his Mends, was either ignominiously turned back, or marched off to the guard-house “with his bundle under his arm.” Latterly the duties of searchers were performed by the town-officers and suchlike functionaries; but originally the office seems to have been filled by elders and members of the Church, and regarded as a most honourable and necessary one. We shall hear a good deal about the searchers and their adventures as we proceed with the session records.

“28 July 1646.

"George Rowane and his wyf, accused for charming a bairne, they confessed they used some words which a begger used them, they not knowing what it mynded—referred to the Presbetrie. The Presbetrie apoints the forsaids persons to mak ther repentance upon the publick place of repentance on the Lord’s Day after sermon in the fomoone.”

The minister of Culross is ordered off on a mission to the Scottish camp in England:—

"November 3,1646.

“The whilk day the minister shew a letter to the session from the Commission of the Kirk ordiening him with all expedition to address himselfe to Newcastell to attend the Generali Leslie there, and that the Presbetrie, during his absence, wold per vice* supply his place.”

About this time the Valleyfield and Balgownie families have burial-places assigned them. Of the latter family some account has already been given, and it now seems desirable to say something of the former, which, since the times of the Reformation to the present day, has ever been an influential one in Culross parish.

The name Preston is derived from the barony of Prestoun (Priests’ town), now Gourtoun, on the South Esk, Mid-Lothian. Sir John de Preston, knight, was taken prisoner with David II. at the battle of Durham, in 1346, and suffered imprisonment for a long time in the Tower of London. He obtained from David II. charters of the lands of Gourtoun or Gorton in Mid-Lothian, and also of lands in Fife and Perthshire. His son, Simon de Preston, obtained from King Robert II. a charter of the lands of Craigmillar, near Edinburgh; and though there is some question as to who his children really were, there seems no reason to doubt that he was the father of Sir George de Preston, who again was the father of John Preston of Craigmillar and Gorton. From this last the Prestons of Craigmillar were descended, as also those of Valleyfield—though the precise period at which the latter branched off is a matter of some dispute. The earliest account we have of them in connection with Valleyfield is the acquisition, in 1543, of that estate from Patrick Bruce by James Preston, son of Henry Preston, burgess of Edinburgh, and grandson of William Preston of Craigmillar. The conveyance was ratified by a charter, in 1544, from William Colville, Commendator of Culross Abbey, in favour of the said James Preston and his wife Margaret Home.

James Preston wtw succeeded by his son Archibald, who obtained sasine from the Commendator and convent of Culross of the whole lands and barony of Valleyfield. And Archibald Preston was succeeded as third baron by his eldest son James, who married Jean, daughter of James Erskine of Little Sauchie, third son of Robert Erskine, fourth Earl of Mar. Their eldest son was Sir John Preston of Valleyfield, who received the honour of knighthood from James VI., with whom he was a great favourite. He married Grizel Colville, daughter of Alexander Colville the Commendator, and sister of John Colville of Comrie.

The eldest son of Sir John Preston of Valleyfield and Grizel Colville was the Sir George Preston who has a burial-place assigned him on the basement storey of Culross steeple, as recorded in the kirk-session book, and who ten years previously, in 1637, had received from Charles I. a baronetcy, which still exists, though no longer connected with the estate of Valleyfield. His brother, Robert Preston, who makes the application for him, became a Lord of Session; and his sister Mary, as previously mentioned, married the second George Bruce of Camock, and was mother of the first and second Earls of Kincardine.

Sir George Preston married Marion, only daughter of Hugh, third Lord Semple, and was succeeded as second baronet by his eldest son Sir William. His second son, George, was greatly distinguished as a military officer, and commanded the garrison of Edinburgh Castle during both the rebellions of 1715 and 1745. He died at an advanced age in 1748. We shall hear more of him at a subsequent stage.

On 27th April the following entry occurs regarding the seating of the church:—

“Thos who ware apoynted for sighting the kirk and finding out of places most commodious for building seats, report that they can find no place in the kirk for that use except the quiere, and that they think the Communion tables may be removed, and set alongs the body of the kirk when they have to doe with them. Referred.”

In the above, as well as in a previous entry of 13 th April, we find some interesting information regarding the condition of Culross Church in 1646. It is evident from the very minute delineation of the burial-space accorded to the Preston family “within the porch under the stiple, betwixt the inner doore of the kirk and the outer doore of entrie thereto,” that the entrance - porch to the church on the basement floor of the steeple was the same as at the present day, and that the nave, which originally extended westwards as far as the churchyard gate, had by that time been reduced to the condition of an external roofless ruin. We also find that, though the whole of the present place of worship formed anciently the choir of the Monastery Church, the term “quiere,” or choir, was restricted in after-times to the portion extending between the transept at the pulpit and the east wall of the church—corresponding, indeed, in situation to what is generally known as the chancel. The Communion table was formerly placed there; and we learn also, from another source, that there was a partition or screen between the so-called choir and the rest of the church. The little chapel or aisle on the north side of the choir, now in ruins, but exhibiting still in the fragment of a window a beautiful specimen of ancient architecture, was then known as the Little or Old Aisle, to distinguish it from the New Aisle recently erected by George Bruce. The old burial-place of the Preston family in the porch has long been disused, in consequence of their descendants, Sir Robert Preston and Lady Baird, having built other mausolea for themselves; but the vault of the Cunninghams of Balgownie, though a modem structure, adjoins the Little Aisle.

The seating of churches with pews and galleries— or as the latter were commonly termed, “lafts”—came into general vogue about the middle of the seventeenth century. Previous to that time the congregation either stood entirely throughout the service, or used seats which they themselves or their servants had brought with them to church. Jenny Geddes turned the stool which she had brought with her to a peculiar use by hurling it at the head of the Dean of Edinburgh. When the movement for fitting up churches with pews commenced, there was no uniform method or model followed. Each heritor or other applicant, on having a space assigned him by the kirk-session, fitted up his pew or gallery at his own expense, and in the fashion that pleased himself best. As might have been expected, the result was that singular congeries that was frequently to be observed in our old churches, of all shapes and sizes, in the way of square pews, oblong pews, and galleries, rising above each other like the boxes of a theatre. Previous to its rearrangement in 1824, Culross Church has been described to me as “an awfulike kirk,” with its queer pews and galleries; and I understand the same might have been said of the Abbey Church of Dunfermline, when the nave, now a promenade, was used as a place of worship. Even after it had come to be recognised as an indispensable duty on the part of the heritors to seat as well as build the church, it was quite common to leave the floor in its primitive condition as a part of mother earth, without either planking or flags.

Mr Duncan goes on with unabated zeal in carrying out the exercise of Presbyterian polity and discipline in Culross. He announces the commencement of the practice of diets of examination, a custom which was long continued in Scotland. At certain times all belonging to the parish, whether young or old, were expected to present themselves before the minister and elders, and, as it was expressed, “ say their questions ”—that is, repeat the answers to the questions in the Larger and Shorter Catechisms—as also, to be “ targed ” generally in matters of faith and practice. As might have been expected, no little perturbation was felt on these occasions by those who were conscious of having neglected their religious studies, and thus laid themselves open to public rebuke and exposure:—

“18 May 1647.

“The minister shew that, now he had been through the whole parioche, and had taken upe all ther names, and purposed, God willing, to beginne to examine on Monday next, the 27 of this instant, and desyred earnestly that the elders wold have a care to keepe the dyets precisely themselves, and be carfull that ther quarters have a care to meet, as they shall be advertised—which they all promised.”

Strict regulations are issued for the sanctification of the Sabbath:—

"6 June.1647

“According to the good order authorised be the Sark, and practised now by the most part of burghs in this kingdome, it is ordiened that mercats on Saturday shall be holden on Fryday, and those satling on Monday and Tuesday, because of severall abuses falling out by fleshers and other treds-men who resort to mercats on thos days.

"The whilk day ane act of Assemblie for sanctification of the Saboth was publicly intimat and ordiened to be registrat.”

11 July 1647.

“The dyet of the Communion to be and beginne this day fourtnight, the 20 of this inst., and the minister earnestly desyred that all persons at variance should be reconciled be the elders, and thos who stood out to be delated and brought in before the session—which they undertok.”

Both Mr Duncan, the minister of Culross, and the Presbytery of Dunfermline, had long been urging on the kirk-session the desirability of having a helper or “collige minister ” appointed without further delay. Mr Donaldson, the celebrated minister of Dalgety, who figures so prominently both in the sunshine and gloom of Presbyterian history, seems to be doing his share of duty at Culross in Mr Duncan’s absence at the camp, and takes occasion to stir up the procrastinating session:—

“16 Septr. 1647.

“By Master Andro Donaldsone, minister of Dalgety, who keept session here that day, and did earnestly recommend to the session the satling of a collige minister hier, and shew that the Presbetrie was a little discontent, they receaved not ane answeare in wreat to their Act; whereupon the session desyred Mr James, their clerk, to wreat ane answere agane the next day.”

“21 December 1647.

“The minister desyred the elders to tak notice of the people on Yuile Day that they goe about ther ordinarie callings; and if any be found superstitiously set for the keeping of that day, to delat them accordingly.”

“24 December 1647.

“Thomas Anderson cited, accused for drawing brothe to his panne on the Lord’s Day, confessed that he drew some three or four bucket-full in the morning; ordiened to satisfie according to the Act.”

The “brothe” above mentioned was the salt water contained in the reservoir known as the “ bucket-pat,” a structure of stonework erected on the seashore for the supply of the salt-pans. The remains of these bucket-pats, like projecting promontories are to be seen along the whole coast of the Firth of Forth; and, as far as I am aware, the term is confined to this locality—at least it is not to be found in Dr Jamieson’s Dictionary. Originally it would appear that the water was simply conveyed in buckets from the “ pat ” to the “ pan,” but latterly pumping machinery was employed. Scarcely any salt is now manufactured from sea-water, and what was formerly a large and important branch of industry has become almost quite extinct.

The next entry, of the same date as the foregoing one, shows not only the extreme watchfulness now exercised under the supremacy of Presbytery in maintaining the strict observance of the Sabbath, but also in enforcing on the community a knowledge of the principles on which such watchfulness was founded. Whether the severities here and elsewhere threatened were ever in any instance carried into actual execution, we have no evidence from the session records of Culross. Fines, exposure in church, and interdiction of church privileges, were certainly frequently inflicted; but one is almost inclined to believe that corporal punishment, except in such cases where it would have been justly due for civil delinquencies, was merely decreed ad terrorem.

“George Anderson cited, accused of prophanation of the Sabboth by running up and doune the toune in tyme of divine service—confessed, and promised never to doe the lyk hire-after; bot because of his ignorance, not knowing what commandment he had broken, was enacted that if he should not get the commandments betwixt and that day twentie dayes, he should be brought bak and scurged publicly.”

“7 Januar 1648.

“Margrit Stirk cited, of nights drinking with sojours —denyed. Proven by hir nighbours. She is ordiened to stand at the cross on the marquet-day betwixt ten and twelve hours, with a paper hat on hir head, and hir filthie fait written theron, and therafter to be scurged by the hangman.”

“22 Apryll 1648.

“The whilk day the minister shew the session that it was apoynted by the Generali Assemblie, and that now it had come to this Presbetrie, that the litle books of warning and helping people to the duetie of familie exercise war ordiened to be giuen through honest families of the toune; and therfor apoynted Mr James Meldrum to distribut the same, and receave a count from the elders, and to report his diligence therin.”

Much trouble seems to have been occasioned to the session at this time by the “ sojours ” and those who kept company with them. Bessie Mackie and Elspit Robson are summoned for irregularities of this kind, and “ enacted with their own consent that if it shall be proven by the witnesses that ather of them was in company night or day with the sojours, in that caice they are content to sit at the cross on the marquet-day, with a paper hat on their heads and the branks in their mouth, and therafter stand bearfooted at the kirk doore betwixt the second and third bell, and therafter mak thir repentance in publick befor the congregation.”

The offences alleged against Bessie Mackie and Elspit Robeson are this day proved by witnesses, and they are “ referred to the baillies, to be punished by them exemplarly, and to stand at the kirk door barefooted betwixt the first and second bell, and therafter to mak their repentance in publick.”

The son apparently of one of the above-named ladies allows his filial piety to overstep the respect due to the ordinance of the session:—

“8 June 1648.

“Robert Robeson, for his great miscarriage in taking his mother from the kirk doore betwixt bells, when she was appointed by the kirk so to satisfie, referred to the baillies, to be led fast by them in stocks till he find caution to satisfie, according as he shall be enjoyned.”

“10 Septr. 1648.

“John Aitken’s wyfe accused for knocking beare in time of sermon, confessed hir fault, and promised never to doe the lyk hirafter.”

“Knocking beare ” denotes the act of decorticating barley or “bear” by striking it in a stone mortar with a wooden mallet. Before men had learned the art of removing the husk from barley by machinery, it was customary to prepare it for the broth-pot by beating it in the manner just mentioned, and the utensil in which the process was performed was called a “ knocking stone,” and was an indispensable adjunct to every household. It has now become totally obsolete, and its very meaning forgotten, though I myself have heard the old servant of a relative thus address the dog when obstructing her way: “ Get up, Cassie—siftin' there on your tail, like a knockin’ stane! ” She could not herself explain the meaning of the phrase, having heard it used by some old-world person.

“1 Octr. 1648.

“The minister earnestly desyred that the elders wold have a special caire, that they within thir quarters should keep the kirk on Saboth-day more carefully than they doe, which they promised.

“That they who had miscarried with this deboshed crewe from Stirling, should be delated against the next day, and censured accordingly.”

“This deboshed crewe from Stirling” were doubtless connected with the Royalist army, which in the preceding summer had marched into England under the command of the Duke • of Hamilton, and been defeated by Cromwell at Preston. There was a division in the Presbyterian councils as to the support which they ought to accord Charles I. against Cromwell and the Independents, and a secret treaty had been concluded in the Isle of Wight with Charles I., by which the Scottish commissioners agreed under certain conditions to promote the reinstatement of the King on his throne. This compact was, however, disapproved of and disavowed by the more zealous Presbyterians, including the Marquis of Argyll; and where these were predominant, as seems to have been the case in Culross, all supporters of the “ Engagement ” were denounced as malignants, and subjected to strict surveillance. The soldiers belonging to this party had evidently been promoting immorality and disorder in the towns; and they had also, as we shall see, been harassing by their exactions the landward district of the parish of Culroes.

“15 October 1648.

“ Thos of toune and land to give in the losses they had by thes malignants from Skirling against the next day, and to be presented to the Committee of Estates.”

"31 October 1648.

“John Mastertoone of East Grange chosen to goe over to Edinburge to present grievances of the landward, and losses sustained by them by thos malignants from Stirling.”

The Solemn League and Covenant, already sworn to in 1643 by 707 parishioners of Culross, is again subscribed with great solemnity by 495 persons, among which we notice the name of the newly created Earl of Kincardine, who on the previous occasion had signed as Edward Bruce. A public confession is also made by the favourers of the “ Engagement.”

“20 Deer. 1648.

“The whilk day, befor the congregation, the heritors, counsellors, and others who had hand or did any way con-tribut to the outputting of sojours in the leat unlawful engagement, did publicly befor the congregation mak ther confession by standing up in their seats.

“Therafter the Act being red debarring and discharging all who had correspondence with the enemie, and war vnder the conduct of Lenrick and George Monroe, from the renewing of the Covenant.”

These were the notable leaders in the recent attempt to reinstate Charles I. The Earl of Lan-rick or Lanark was brother of the Duke of Hamilton, now in prison as taken captive at the battle of Preston, and destined ere three months were over to lose his head in Palace Yard, Westminster.

The renewal of the Covenant is finally recorded thus in .large letters:—

“THE PEOPLE, IN PRESENCE OF THE DREADFUL GOD, STANDING ON THER FEETE, DID SOLEMNLY RENEWS THE COVENANT, WITH THER HANDS LIFTED UP TO THE MOST HIGH.”

“27 December 1648.

“Thos who came not to sweare and subscryve the Covenant, to be taken notice of by the elders, and delated.”

Here we have a session case regarding four over-“ merry masons ” :—

“John Messon, John Millar, James and Allr. Mackie, messons, accused severally of ther prophanation of the Lord’s Day by going to Torribume befor sermon in the morning, ther binding a prentise, and entering John Millar fellow to the craft, and returning in tyme of afternoon sermon, and then going to the taverae, did all confess ther fait sincerely. They removed; the session finding ther fait very gross, and that the lyk had not been hard of ther befor, did recommend the same to the Presbetrie.”

“This day the Erie of Kincardin, Sr. Jo. Erskyn, and Balbougy, with ther servant, after ther confession befor the congregation, did sweare the Covenant, and thirafter subscryve the samen.”

The Earl of Kincardine seems to have done penance for his connection with the parties to the “Engagement.” He had received his patent of earl from Charles I. at Carisbrook Castle in 1647, and it was probably as one of the Scotch commissioners who concluded that secret treaty that the King invested him with the dignity.

Christane Paton, who had been convicted of using slanderous language towards Janet Peacock, is “ ordeined to stand on the col hill, wher the offence was given, in the joogs, with the branks in her mouth, for example to others, and the Sunday after to mak her repentance in publick.”

"7 January 1649.

“This day John Messon, John Millar, Allr. Mackie, and James Bowey, did publicly confess ther prophanation of the Lord’s Day befor the congregation, and John Messon suspended from his eldership for a tyme, as was advysed by Presbetrie.”

Jan. 14, 1649.—The following entry in regard to the arrangements for appointing a second minister, shows that the Earl of Kincardine had then a house in Culross, doubtless what was afterwards known as “ the Colonel’s Close ” in the Sand Haven:—

“The voicers to meet at my Lord Kincardin’s hous tomorrow, and therafter to report ther diligence.”

The harbouring of strangers and beggars seems to have been a great cause of offence in those days. Great annoyance was doubtless occasioned to respectable people in having the country overrun with gangs of sturdy beggars, or, as they were sometimes styled, “thiggars and somers.” There would also be a reasonable apprehension of the plague and other epidemics being disseminated by their means.

“26 Jany. 1649.

“John Piymros, in Sands, cited, accused for receaving strangers and beggers within his bounds; confessed ther war some two nights in his bounds in ane old wast house by1 his knowledge; and being sharply reproved for his oversight, is ordiened to remove them to-morrow, vnder the paine of the highest censur the session shall think miet to inflict.”

“John Kowane, in Cumry, cited, accused of the lyk, confessed, ordiened to remove them; and because sundry tymes befor reproved for the said fait, enacted that if hirafter he be fund to lodge or reset within his bounds any such strangers or vagabounds, in that caise to satisfie according to the Act publickly intimat.”

One would be inclined to suspect that the Scottish country people of those days had the same sympathy with beggars and “ gangrel bodies ” that the peasantry of Southern Europe in our own day have with brigands. It must be admitted, indeed, that fraternising with nothing worse than mendicants shows at least a stage of advancement beyond that of association with banditti.

"13 March 1649.

“Ordienes that a seat be build befor James Blaw’s seat for the midwyfs, and that they discharge the goodwyfe of Grange of her seat.”

There must surely have been a good many sages-femmes in Culross in those days.

“18 March 1649.

“This day Mr John Edmestone, James Kenowey, with James Hutton and Archibald Tealyr, who war sojours in the unlawful engagment, having satisfied befor the congregation, as the rest of that number, did renewe the Covenant and subscryve the same.”

The renewal of the Covenant seems to have been imposed in 1648 in consequence of the secret engagement with Charles I., and the Scottish expedition under the Duke of Hamilton into England, having raised a suspicion in the minds of the more zealous Presbyterians of a defection in the ranks of their followers. As an impartial reviewer of the events of the time, I must say that this enforcement of a test was closely akin to some of the high-handed measures of the Restoration which have been so much and justly reprobated.

“Thomas Fynlay, smith, Robert Heweson, James Sind&r, and Tho. Coalyr, war cited, and accused for ther negligence in bringing up their children, in suffering them to vaige throu the toune in tyme of sermon, and not having a care to bring them to the kirk, and to tak account of them, and to tak account of them what they hier declared, that they ware wicked over lads, and promised to correct them for this tyme, and to have a care of them hirafter, which they ware earnestly exhorted to.”

The old-fashioned Presbyterian Sabbath must have been extremely irksome to children when the directions of the kirk-session as to their discipline on that day were rigorously carried out. They were to be strictly confined within-doors, except when walking to or from church; had to listen attentively during the long, and what must have appeared to them dreary and interminable services, and had to give an account of what they had heard, under severe penalties. They must often have longed for the return of Monday, to get back to the greater freedom of ordinary school work and lessons.

Penny-weddings, with their attendant revelries, were the frequent subject of ecclesiastical denunciation :—

“22 April 1649.

“It was also thought miet, because of the great abuse at pennie biydols of gathering in numbers of people, especially work-people, from their masters’ service, that therfor the persons to be maryed should consigne befor the session 20. If they keept within bounds limit by Act publicly intimat, in that caice to receave ther 20 bak; if not, to be employed and disponed upon by the session ad pios utnts.”

The belief in the efficacy of holy wells, as already observed, was extremely difficult to eradicate:—

“6 May 1649.

“This day the Act against thos who resort to superstitious wells was publicly intimat, and ordiened to be registrat as followeth: The Presbetrie hearing that ther are sume resorting to superstitious wells for obteining helth to sick and distracted persons, as also that ther are some that sends them and gives advices to goe that way, for preventing wherof in all tyme coming the Presbetrie ordiened that whosoever shall be found guiltie of the premiss, that they mak ther public repentance in sackcloth befor the congregation, and ordained this Act to be intimat in all the kirks of the Presbetrie: tie svbscribitur,

“Mr Hkrie Smith, Clerk to the Presbetrie.”

Marriage-feasts seem to have frequently, in those days, been held in taverns; and the landlords, in consequence, came occasionally in collision with the ecclesiastical authorities. Here we find a Gaius engaging himself that there shall be no transgression of the session Act:—

“Robert Sands does oblige himself for the pairties to be maryed on Tuesday, whose biydol dinner is to be in his hous, vnder the paine of 20, that they shall not transgress the Act publicly intimat.”

“Intimation to be mead the next day of ane collection for John Home, whose hous was latly burnt within this burge.”

“13 May 1649.

“Delated by the searchers, Bessie Grame, pulling lieks in hir yaird in tyme of divine service, to be warned against the next day.”

It would be interesting to know what punishment was inflicted on Bessie for such flagrant wickedness, but nothing further is recorded of the case. The next entry marks an important epoch in the parochial history:—

“The 30 of June 1649, the brethren of the Presbetrie had their meeting hier (Mr Robert Cay, minister of Dun-fermling, preached) for the admission of Mr Robert Edmestone, collige minister. J. Meldkum,

"Clerk to the Session.”

The above may be regarded as the termination of the long course of procedure which had lasted over nearly twenty years in connection with the appointment of a helper or second minister. From this date the church of Culross is to be ranked as a collegiate charge, and mention is now regularly made in the session records of the “ministers.” It should be understood, that though in the original constitution of the second charge the holder of it seems to have been regarded in the light of an assistant to the incumbent in the first, there was no difference between them in point of ecclesiastical rank or precedence. Indeed, in the final arrangement which was made shortly afterwards by the heritors regarding the allocation of their stipends, it was endeavoured, as far as possible, to equalise these in every respect; and this is still the case with the emoluments of the two charges. Both are very small—amounting, respectively, to barely 200 a-year; while the total amount thus divided between two incumbents would afford nothing more than a reasonable provision for one. Whatever may have been the desirability in bygone days of having a double charge in Culross, it can certainly only now be regarded as one of those preposterous anomalies, like the two members for Old Sarum, which have been allowed, in the history of the world, to exist long after they had been condemned by expediency and common-sense.

“7 October 1649.

“It is apoynted that thos who search the fomoon this Saboth, shall search in the afternoon the next day, and so forth.

“Thos who collect in the fomoon are apoynted to have a care to tak notice of the parlyhill when the kirk skaills, that people stand not about their own busines and worldly discourse, but remove to ther houses.”

“14 October 1649.

“The minister did regrat the negligence of the magistrate within the toune in suffering so many vagabond beggers to come within the toune. They ondertok that some course should be taken the first counsel day.”

“24 October 1649.

“Bessie Mackie, a vile, wicked, godless limmer, to be banished the congregation: recommended to the bailies.”

"Three dollars to be given to William Mubry for putting his young motherless bairns to a milk-woman.”

The kirk - session recognises no privilege or immunity even on the part of the fair sex to impugn or treat its authority with disrespect:—

“18 Novr. 1649.

“Elspit Schioch, for railing on the searchers, cited and most sharply rebuked, apoynted to stand in joogs, with the branks in hir mouth, and therafter to mak publick repentance.”

“26 Novr. 1649.

“This day Elspit Schioch, having sitten in branks, as was apoynted, for railing on the elders, saying they wer too busie in things concerned them not, did mak public satisfaction befor the congregation.”

“4 Deer. 1649.

“This day .James Dobbie, John Blaylock, Robert Ronald, and Jonet Sands, did mak public satisfaction for drinking of James Dobbie’s wyfs dregie, and he himself sharply rebuked in publick for his miscarriage at such a tyme, who should have been humbled for that visitation in his familie.”

Of all the cases recorded in the kirk-session books of Culross, there is none that is more elaborately detailed, or seems to have occasioned a greater sensation among the members, than the following one now to be transcribed. It partakes, in no small degree, of the ludicrous, and illustrates pretty vividly the social and convivial customs of the time, which, to say the least, must have been of rather a rough order. Little did the reverend conclave imagine, when their clerk minuted these and similar proceedings, that such careful details and fervid denunciations might, as read by the garish light of afterdays, serve only to gratify the curiosity, and possibly excite the laughter, of an irreverent and degenerate posterity.

“24 Apryll 1650.

"The minister shew to the session the prophane, lous, and unchristiane carriages of some young men at the biydel in Thomas Ezat’s house, drinking the whole night, and themselves so drunk that they spewed it againe,and that they drank King Charles’ helth in a beare glass and chopin bicker, and in within the lume, with suit amongst the drink, and pieces of tolbacco-pyps and broken candel in their drink, and thus they drank till they behoued all be washen over hands and feat, and that they sat doune on the flore in cireulo, when they drank a chopin bicker full every on of them of wine, and wer all knighted after the order of the garter by that prophane man James Broune: To try against the next day what wer mor amongst them, and who they war; and all to be drawen up in wreat, and they particularly accused of it.”

“30 Apryll 1650.

“It is required that what they had learned further concerning the prophane and wicked carriage of yon young men in Thomas Eizat’s hous, the elders declared that all wes red the last day of ther miscarriage wes true, and, moreover, that they had the fidler with them, and were singing and dancing every night till three or four houres in the morning, and that James Broune wave all his sockheads [?], and gave them favours after they were knighted be James Anderson, and that he vented much obscene filthie language to his wyf publicly when shee entered the roume as . . . and such as now ar ashamed to utter. The young men, Mr James Broune, James Anderson, John Bobertson, Wm. Hallyday, Andro Anderson, in Dunfermling; John Robertson, souldier onder Pitfirrin and Captain Murray; Thos. of or toune,—cited and most sharply rebuked Removed all; only James Anderson is kept still, and enquyred that he wold declare the truth. He promised he should not lie in any thing wes asked thereinent. First, he declared that about eight o’clock the first night ther deboshrie about eight o’clock, and continued till twelve at night, and that the Dunfermling men began the deboshrie and the great healths, and that they all sang and drank extraordinarily, and that they drank King Charles’ helth in a board glass, and many ordinarie cups out; and that they entered the second day at fyve hours, when Andro Anderson came up with a quart of wine and a bicker; then they went in to the chimney, and drank a helth every one of them within the chimney; and further, he confessed that ther wes wicked, prophane, louse, unchristiane carriage amongst them, and that he wes grieved to think on it. The extract of thir particulars to be send to the Presbetrie and our ministers, to shew it to Sr James Halkit his sojours miscarriage.

A curious case in reference to consulting a reputed wizard is also commenced of these dates:—

“24 April 1650.

“Delated Robert Cusing in Kincardine, who went to the man of Kilbuck-Drummond for ane John Aitkine in Torri-biume, for seeking helth to his wyf, whom he allaidged wes witched.”

“30 April 1650.

"Robert Cousing cited, accused of his goeing to the man of Kilbuck, for seeking helth to John Erskin’s wyf in Torri-bum—denyed altogether that ever he wes employed in such a busines. The ministers to acquaint Mr James Sibbald therwith, that befor his session it may be tryed, and that they report to them accordingly. Robert Cousing, reproved sharply, is removed, and the busines referred til further try all.”

“7 May 1650.

"It is apoynted the week dayes sermon begine at eight hours in the morning.”

The matters of the wedding revelry and the expedition to the “ man of Kilbuck ” are again taken up. In reference to the latter, the following extract is inserted in the Culross minutes from those of the kirk-session of Torryburn:—

“From the Session of Torie the 27 of Apryll 1650.

“The whilk day John Aitkene being convened befor the session and examined for his alleged consulting with witches anent his wyfe’s sicknes, he confessed as followes—that he, hearing a common report that James Young being sick wes healed again by the help of Robert Cousin in Kincardine, went and asked James Young his wyf concerning this; that she bad him goe to Kincardine to Robt. Cousing and hir daughter; that he went to them, and that the said Robert’s wyff said to him that her goodman brought to him from the wyfiFs son of Kilbuck a yellow gowen,1 which healled hir father; and that the said Robert Cousing agreit with him to go to the said wyff of Kilbuck her sonne, to get helth to his wyff; that he gave his wyffs much with him, and that he returned with this answeare, that his wyff had gotten wrong by thos whom he suspected; that shee wold be dead befor he went home; that her pictur wes brunt ;* that he brought with him three pieces of rantries,8 and baid him lay thes onder his door threshold, and keep on of them upon himself with seven pickles of whyt, because seven wes set for his lyf; that he brought with him ane orange - coloured saw,4 whilk he did keep with himself, because his wyff was dead before he came with it.

“To advys with the Presbetrie anent this wicked fellow Cousing.”

“14 May 1650.

“This day John Aitken, in presence of Robert Cousing, did affirm that he, hearing report of him that James Young wes healled by a yellow gowan which he brought to him from the wyff of Kilbuk, and that he tok James Young’s wyfFs much with him; that he came to James Young’s hous, and told him his errand. James Young answeared that about bearsyd tyme bygone four years Robert Cousing brought hom a yellow gowan ten myles beyond Dumblane, from Drummond the wyffs son of Kilbuk, and caused him goe to a south-running water and put in his neck and wash himself three times all over in the water, and goe three tymes withersones1 about, and say, All the evel that is on him bee on the gowen. John Aitkin offered him a firlot of come and twentie schillings of silver, which he was content with; and that he went away on Saturday in the morning, and returned on Sunday and brought him the rantrees, the pickles of whyt, and the orange-coloured saw, and bad him keep a piece of the rantree on him, and put a piece onder his door threshold, for they wer set for his lyf also; and the man told him his wyff wold be dead or he cam home again, bot if shee wer alive to put that saw on hir bak forgainst hir heart, and it wold tak the heat out of it. James Maine declared the samen. At length the said Robert Cousing confessed all the premiss verbatim as is wreatten. Removed; he is apoynted to mak his repentance in sackcloth, according to the ordinance of the Presbetrie.”

“3 June 1650.

“The searchers declared all wes quiet, except that in Kincardin James Paterson’s pan not drawen.

"James Bruce, buxter, playing in the laft and straiking Tho. Thomson.

“The persons who wer scandalous in Thomas Eizat’s house, to mak their repentance publickly, and to sit two dayes, and to be receaved the second, but with this provision, that the sense of ther guiltines be manifested befor the same ther receaving.

“The minister desyred that particular notice be taken of people not coming to kirk, especially in Kincardine.”

“10 June 1650.

“The whilk day Robert Cousin, for his horrid fait read, receaved befor the congregation, having sitten the wholl tyme of service in sackcloth.”

“27 June 1650.

“Elspet Mather, for cursing and banning the divel tak hir, and the divel ryve her, cited, and because not sensible of this fait, recommended to John Calendar to be put in joogs and branks publicly on the coal-hill, which he on-dertok.”

“9 July 1650.

“John Peacock, for absenting himself on the Lord’s Day from publick worship, sitting in his owne hous the whole tym, cited, and confessed upon his knees befor the session, and enacted if ever he be found in the lyk hirafter, to mak public satisfaction.”

“16 July 1650.

“David Rind, for cursing and banning the divel tak him once or twyce, did ingenuously confess his fait, and becaus it is knowen he used not the lyk and it is the first tyme, he did confess his fait befor the session, and promised, with the Lord’s grace, he should never fall in the lyke again.”

“3 July 1650.

“The whilk day the minister asked the session of the caryage of people within thir particular bounds, and what conscience they mead of familie dueties, and how they keept the kirk ; the elders declared that ther caiyage wes Chrias-tine-lyke, and that they all, so farr as they could learne, had fanrilie exercise, and did keep the kirk preciesly on the Lord’s Day, and on week dayes as they could have libertie in respect of busines: exhorted earnestly to tak more and more notice of them, and to exhort them to duetie, and if any feall, to delat them, which they promised.”

“5 Agust 1650.

“This day Elspet Mather, being by jougs and stocks punished, and now sincerely sensible, is receaved befor the congregation for hir cursing by the divel three severall tymes, wishing he may tak hir away, and confessed the same in publick very sincearly.”

“12 Agust 1650.

"The whilk day the elders declared all was quiet, only that they fand some sojours on the way, and that they exhort them to goe to the kirk, which they did; and also shew them that if they keept not better the kirk while they wer hier, that it wold be complained of to their commanders.”

Sunday observance must certainly have been very strict in these days when even, on a fine evening in the month of August, after the long services of the day, it was considered an infringement of its sanctity to take a “ daunder ” on the Sand Haven of Culross:—

“20 Agust 1650.

“The whilk day the searchers declared all wes quiet, bot after sermons the strangers wer vaiging on the sand haven, and not keeping ther houses; therfor, for redress therof, it is apoynted that the searchers goe through and visit ther particular bounds on the Lord’s Day, and to rebuk thes sharply, or o'* our people whom they find on the streits.

“To mak publick intimation the next Lord’s Day to the people that they tak more care of the young ones on the Lord’s Day, or els they are to be charged for them, according to the Act

“John Archibald, elder, exhorted in the name of Chryst to mak more conscience of visiting the saltpans within his bounds, and of delating them particularly who do not put furth ther fyre on Saturdayes night, according to the Act, and as they are particularly enacted.

“Marion Bippet of Borroustounes, accused for hir rash speaking towards the magistrate for searching for meall to be employed in the publick service, denyed that shee spak anything bot‘ God forgive you, sirs! ye have taken twentie bolls of mell from me. God knowes when I will get payment.’ Exhorted to walk more circumspectly in tymes coming, which she promised, by God’s grace.”

The requisitions for meal above mentioned were doubtless in consequence of the invasion of Scotland by Cromwell, and the necessity of collecting stores for the maintenance of the opposing Scottish army. About ten days before the date last mentioned, Charles II., then lately arrived in Scotland, had visited Dunfermline, and subscribed there the declaration binding himself to adhere to the Solemn League and Covenant. Possibly the Kang may even have passed through Culross on his way to or from Dunfermline. On the 3d of September in this year the Scottish army was routed by Cromwell at Dunbar. We find the Culross session on this day peacefully engaged in giving orders for the repair of the West Kirkyard dykes, and calling to account Lord Bargeny’s “ kitching boyes ” for Sunday desecration.'


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