AT no period are the Culross
kirk-session records more interesting or illustrative of the social manners
of the time than at present. Presbytery and Presbyterian discipline are in
their zenith—at least Cromwell and his Independents have scarcely begun to
make their domination felt—and Mr Duncan, the minister, is most zealous in
enforcing on his elders the propriety of increased strictness and vigilance
in the exercise of their offices. All kinds of domestic delinquencies are
ferreted out and adjudicated on. Drunken husbands and nagging wives are
alike censured, venters of strange oaths and abusers of dignitaries are
called to account and forced to do penance before the congregation, and
profaners of the Sabbath and neglecters of ordinances are warned and
rebuked. The parochial authorities must have held the reins very tight
indeed, and there need be little wonder at the laxity of the Restoration
being welcomed by many as a relief from the strict surveillance of bygone
years. In many respects, certainly, the Presbyterian whips of ecclesiastical
fine and penance fell far lighter than the Prelatic scorpions in the shape
of military lawlessness and cruelty, ruinous fines and exactions, and denial
of the liberty of religious worship. But still, considering the matter
impartially, it cannot be denied that something like a mild inquisition,
without its arbitrary severities and nefarious ends, was at the time
established in every parish of Scotland.
“12 October 1650.
“The whilk day the minister
desyred that elders should tak particular of peoples’ cariage within thir
bounds, and what conscience is med of familie exercise—and thos who fell, to
be delated; those who in conscience hir about the same, to be encouraged to
so necessarie and excellent ane dewtie.”
From the following it would
appear that some Culross men had taken part in the battle of Dunbar:—
“The names of sojours hurt at
Dunbar to be brought in the next day, and something to be given them
according to ther severall conditions, till they mend.”
“2 November 1650.
“The whilk day Besse Cowey
cited, accused of hir viele and synful blasphemous language against honest
and good people of the othersyd, and chiefly against ministers. The whole
particularly red: shee denyed all. The witnesses, Archibald Buccolme and
Hellen Drysdel, spous to John Hutton in Borroustounnes, cited. Besse Cowey
wes asked if shee had anything to say against thes persons why they might
not be admitted as witnesses, declared she had nothing to say against them.
The witnesses swome to declare the truth.
“Archibald Buccolme deponed
that, on Tuesday the 3 of this instant, Besse Cowey came in to his hous, and
being sitting with a woman of the other syd of the water, Besse Cowey told
them she had been fighting with a woman of the other syd of the water for
her owne wrace; and swearing so fearfully by God Himself and by His wounds,
the said Archibald reproved hir. She railled on him, calling him hypocrit;
and the woman reproving hir, shee fell out against hir, and railled on hir
and the people on the other syd, calling them a pack of hypocrits and
puritans and suchlyk, and that we had gotten a swinger set up in the pulpit
now to raill on the people, and a glyed taveme queen his wyf, and that she
houped in God to see all the ministers driven yet as sheep to the slaughter,
and clapping hir hands, so begid,' If every one wold doe as I wold, we
should draiv the ministers out of the pulpit;’ and all this discourse was
intermixed with fearful and terrible oathes, as so is.
“Bessie Cowey callit, and
apoynted to be at the Presbetrie to-morrow.”
The “swinger set up in the
pulpit,” so vigorously abused by Mrs Bessie Cowey, is doubtless Mr John
Duncan, the incumbent of the first charge, who seems to have enjoyed par
excellence the title of “ the minister.” He certainly shows himself a most
vigilant inquisitor and enforcer of discipline, and may be regarded as an
extreme type of Presbyterian rigour. Here he is again prodding on the elders
to increased activity:—
“10 Novr. 1650.
“The whilk day the searchers
declared all wes quiet. The minister yet desyrs-that elders wold be diligent
in searching ther severall bounds on the Lord’s Day, and tak particular
notice of the behaviour of people, and to visit eall-houses, that non either
our owne people nor strangers be sitting suspending the Saboth ther, and
provoking God to anger in thir sad tymes; and if any be fund so prophane
resorting to eall-houses or taverns in thir tymes, when God’s hand is so
havie on the land, that they be delated and censured accordingly—which they
all promised: and the ministers themselves to goe doune and tak a viewe of
the toune after sermons.”
“John Bumsyd reported that
Besse Lyall wes over the water with Cromwel’s men, and was seen ryding
behind on of them from Borrowstounness to Lithgow, and stayed with them all
night in the garison, and returning, caused the man behind whom she was
ryding, to light from his hors, and rob and spoyle a poore carray man, and
tak butter and other goods he had from him.
“Besse Lyall to be warned
against the next day.”
“19 November 1650.
"Besse Lyall cited, accused
of hir cariage over the water with Cromwel’s men, and travelling with them
from Borrows-tounnes to Lithgow, and staying with them in the garyson —denyed
all the particulars, except that she went over to crave some debt war
aughten hir on the other syd: removed. Referred to John Hallyday, baillie,
and John Bumsyd, to try the bootmen, and to report the next day—which he
“Margt. Mitchel cited,
accused for prophanation of the Lord’s Day, carying a burden from Easter to
Wester Kin-cardin: confessed that shee wes carying some clothes to ane woman
shee had waschen the night befor. Recommended to the elders of Kincardin, to
be put in jougs by them.”
“James Cowey delated for his
drunknes on Fryday last with troupers, so drunk that he could not walk.”
“3 December 1650.
"The searchers declared all
wes quiet thir two Lord’s Dayes by passed, and that they went through ther
particular bounds, and found nothing but quietnes.
“John Hallyday and John
Burnsyd asked what they had learned concerning Besse Lyall’s cariage on the
other syd : they declared that they had tried the bottmen and others of that
syd, and so farr as they could learne, hir cariage was very unseemly and
unchristianelike, and that she was in the hous with them, and went to
Lithgow; bot whether they taryed all night, it is not certainly knowen for
the present. Besse Layall apoynted to be banished the parische, being mala
fama before, and now for her vile and scandalous cariage recommended to the
"Besse Layall hir sister, who
harbours such a vile person in hir hous, to be warned and enacted not to
suffer hir to come within hir hous night or day.”
“This day Besse Cowey did mak
satisfaction befor the congregation for hir vile and synfull cariage in
Archibald Buccolme’s hous, railling on the people on the other syd, and on
the whole ministers ut supra, and that in sackcloth, according to ordinance
The Church lays down the law
to the civil authorities in reference to week - day attendance on
“The bailies and counsel are
desyred to have the miet-ing of ther counsel on Moonday before the exercis,
or on Wednesday, that so it withdraw them not from the publick worship that
“18 December 1650.
“The searchers declared all
wes quiet, except that ther wes a boat crossed after sermon. It is advysed
for redress hierof that the bootmen’s names be taken up, and they all
discharged to pass on the Lord’s Day. Recommended to the bailies to have a
“7 Jany. 1661.
“The elders declared all wes
quiet, except a number of little ones running up and doune after sermons.
They are to be taken notice of by elders, and thir parents to be exhorted to
keep them within doors, or els they will be challenged for them before
Surely this was a “ bitter ”
observance of the Sabbath that is here enjoined! The poor little children
are not to be permitted to appear on the street even after church-time, but
are to be kept within-doors. It is to be hoped the surveillance of the
elders did not extend to the “ yairds ” with which most of the houses in
Culross would be provided, so that the bairns could thus procure a little
fresh air and variety without giving offence. Yet so closely is Culross
built, that the houses on the right and left sides respectively of the
Middle and fiack Causeways almost abut on each other, so as to leave
scarcely any room for gardens. The bairns in these houses, not to speak of “
children of larger growth,” must have led a purgatorial existence indeed on
warm summer evenings, mewed up in low-roofed, stifling apartments, and
unable to stir out for a “turn” unless at the risk of encountering the
"21 February 1651.
“Jonet Imry cited, accused
for staying from the kirk on the Lord’s Day, and vaiging from hous to hous;
confessed, and promised the lyk should never be hirafter.
“Isobel Donaldson, for the
lyk staying at home, having helth of body, sharply rebuked; and enacted, if
shee be fund hirafter, to mak publick satisfaction.”
“11 March 1661.
“It is apoynted that publick
intimation be mead to all, and chiefly to strangers, of ther vaiging on the
Lord’s Day after sermon, and recommends earnestly to elders to tak notice of
people within ther bounds what conscience they mak of familie exercise; and
if any be yet wanting in this dewtie, to delat them.
“Thomas Dunbar cited, accused
of slandering Wm. Adam publickly in the Sand haven, saying that he wes a
complyer and furnisher of the enemie. Denyed; bot confessed he said, if he
caryed over geare to the enemie he was a furnisher of the enemie. Wm. Adam
affirmed he said to his brother John Adam, ‘ It is well known your brother
is a favourer of the enemie; ’ and he to prove the same the next day.”
Some explanation seems
necessary in reference to the above entry, and also as regards the condition
of parties in Scotland in the spring of 1651. The battle of Dunbar had given
Cromwell the command of almost all Scotland south of the Forth, but on the
north of it his authority was still vigorously resisted, and at this very
moment he was making preparations for passing the Forth and reducing the
rest of the country to his sway. This he accomplished in the following month
of July, when the battle of Inver-keithing laid Scotland prostrate at his
feet, and compelled Charles II. to retreat into England, where the defeat at
Worcester in September of that year finally sealed the fate of the Royal
cause. The Presbyterians, who regarded the principles of Cromwell and the
Independents with about as
great detestation as those of the Prelatists, had for the most part ranged
themselves on the side of the King—though among them there were two parties,
one of which would have supported Charles, as they had latterly done his
father against the English Parliamentarians, whilst the other would only
lend their influence on behalf of the Royalist cause when the sovereign
authority seemed on the point of being entirely engrossed by the
Independents, with their hateful tenets of Congregationalism and unlimited
toleration. As might have been expected, the more zealous Presbyterians,
including the kirk-session of Culross, with their minister, Mr Duncan, at
its head, adhered generally to the latter of these parties; and hence we
find them denouncing all those who had joined the “ Engagement,” or made
common cause with the King against the English Parliament. But
notwithstanding all this, they were strenuously resolved, in so far as they
had not yet been forced to submission, to resist to the uttermost the power
of Cromwell. This had now made itself pretty firmly felt on what the Culross
session-clerk would term “the other side,” or south bank of the Forth, where
Cromwell’s troopers seem to have been ranging much at their free will; but
the Culross and Dunfermline districts were yet comparatively free. Here
Cromwell’s cause was still generally spoken of as that of “the enemy”; and
hence to accuse any one of favouring that cause was an allegation which, if
untrue, involved a serious charge of slander. As far as we can judge, the
tumacious and evil-disposed
about Culross were inclined to welcome the advance of Cromwell and his
troopers, from an idea of the greater licence and freedom from interference
which they expected thereby to enjoy.
About this time John
Hamilton, Lord Bargeny or Bargamy, does penance in Culross church for his
share in the “ Engagement.” He seems to have been residing here at this
Cromwell’s troopers have been
generally credited with the reputation of saints, but such of them as took
part in the invasion of Scotland hardly maintained that character. They seem
to have affected much the society of the bona robas on both sides of the
Forth, whose impatience of the restraints imposed by the kirk-sessions
probably enlisted their sympathies on behalf of Cromwell.
“26 March, 1651.
“Effie Cornwall and Nans
Broune, of the parroch of Caridden,1 accused of
their wicked and scandalous cariag with the troupers on the other syd, and
giving intelligence to the enemy, according to the letter sent to our
magis-trats from the Captain of Blakness—denyed. Recommended to the baillies
to try anent them, and to punish them accordingly.”
“The minister did regrat the
negligence of elders in keeping of session, and it is apoynted by the whole
session that whosoever shall be found absent without a sufficient excuse
shall be censured according to ordinance of Presbetrie.
“Besse Lyall to be put out of
toune by the baillies, and thes who receave hir within ther houses to be
censured according to the Act against recepters of vagabounds.”
“20 Apryl 1651.
“The session ordaines Bessie
Mackie, coalleour, and hir daughters to be banished the toune for ther
scandalous synful carriage: recommended to the baillies/’
“3 May 1651.
“The baillies declares that
Besse Mackie and hir daughters war banished the toune, and convoyed to the
port by the hangman.”
That is to say, that Mrs
Mackie and her family were escorted to one of the three ports or gates of
the burgh—which of them we are not informed— and there formally extruded.
The state of siege in which
it was then necessary to keep the town had led to some irregularities:—
“The minister regrats the
great abuse of watches, and desyrs that elders tak particular notice of it,
and that on of ther number within toune attend it night about, and to report
“Twentie - four shillings to
be given to a distressed sojour.”
“The searchers declared all
was quiet, except that they fand some bairns running through streets;
therfor apoynted the Act publickly intimat befor, anent bairns vaiging and
sporting on the way on the Lord’s Day befor or after sermon, publickly to be
intimat the next Lord’s Day.”
“24 June 1651.
“Searchers declared all
quiet, except that they apprehended a man of Clakmannan travelling homewirth
from the faire. The session apoynts a letter to be sent to Mr Robert Wright,
minister ther: the man’s name is John Thomsone.
"The fleshers, for slaying on
the fasting day after sermon, and some befor, to be warned all against the
“1 July 1651.
“ ohn Dalglishe, accused of
slaying flesh on the fast day after sermon, confessed his guiltines on his
knees befor the session, and promised amendment with the Lord’s grace.”
“8 July 1651.
“The elders searchers
declared all was quiet, except that they apprehended a sojour gooing through
the toune, whom they rebuked most sharply.
“The session apoynts
intimation to be mead publickly of people vaiging on the Lord’s Day, and
that they keep themselves and bairns within doors and goe about better
“James Gow, flesher, cited,
accused for slaying flesh on the fast day; confessed as befor he slew a
beast in the morning befor six o’clock, bot keept both sermons, and because
no prove to the contrare, hee is sharply rebuked for the present, and
confessed his fault on his knees.”
The battle of Inverkeithing
or Pitreavie was fought on 20th July, and caused great commotion in
Dunfermline, which was taken possession of by Cromwell’s victorious army. To
judge from the kirk-session records, though barely ten miles distant, the
engagement had been attended with no results whatever at Culross. Mr Duncan
and his elders pursue the even tenor of their way with as strict an exercise
of Presbyterian discipline as before, though in Dunfermline the meetings of
the session had to be suspended for a considerable period. But from the
burgh records, which are preserved in continuous order from a date shortly
subsequent to the present, we learn that the authority of Cromwell and the
Commonwealth—in civil matters, at all events — began soon to be felt in
Culross in a very unpleasant fashion.
“2 Agvll 1661.
“Searchers declared all wes
“It is apoynted that whenever
ther is a fast or day of thanksgiving, that ther be publick intimation to
the people that they desist from all sort of ordinarie work and travel that
day, and do the work of the day.”
Irreverent people would be
tempted to remark, in reference to the thanksgiving days, that it would be
difficult to discover in what respect they differed from the fasts—unless,
indeed, that in the latter case the practice of physical fasting
recommended, though not enjoined, in the Presbyterian standards, was
actually carried out. There was doubtless a greater gloom and solemnity on
the fasts; but as far as regards strict abstinence from ordinary occupations
and amusements, there could have been little distinction between them and
“24 Agust 1651.
“Searchers declared all was
quiet, except that they found a web of John Pollock’s wyf drying on a dyck,
which they delivered to the officers. Marion Home to be warned.
“To be given upon
supplication to a distressed gentlman, Wm. Laurence, 27 sh. 4d.”
“2 September 1651.
"Marion Horae, cited, accused
of prophanation of the Lord’s Day by bletching her web in tyme of divine
service; confessed that she laid it furth in the morning be daylight.
Sharply rebuked, and mead satisfaction befor the session.
“Mr John Duncan declared
before session that ther war some officious bodyes in the toune that went
from house to house affirming that our ministers war all wrong, and that
they wold not doe well to belive them, to try anent such persons.”
“16 October 1651.
“Those who collect the almes
are to reprove them who are straggling in after the bells are roung, and
that if they doe not amend they will be taken notice of particularly, and
“Jonet Cairns, for carying
eall on the Lord’s Day, confessed hir fait on hir knees: comanded to learne
“24 November 1651.
“Searchers declared all quiet
on the Lord’s Day, except that some bairns wer on the street, whom they
rebuked sharply, and brought them to the kirk with them. The minister
exhorted elders to tak notice of young ones in ther severall bounds on the
Lord’s Day, that they be not found vaiging through the toune, bot be kept
within doors, and put to better exercise; and who are negligent herof, that
according to the Act publick intimat, parents be charged for them.”
“4 March 1652.
“David Clerk delated for
trubling his neighbours in the night, drunk and crying for tobacco at Wm.
Drysdell’s doore at twelve hours at even; and James Nasmith, younger, with
him, to be warned.”
“10 March 1652.
“David Clerk cited, his
guiltines laid out; he confessed his drunkenes and untymousness of it, and
his trubling of
Wm. Drysdel’s house seeking
tobacco at eleven hours at night, bot denyes that ther was any swearing at
all; and is apoynted to mak repentance in publick the next Lord’s Day, and
to come to the ministers every day betwixt and Sunday.”
“30 March 1652.
“Margt Dason, being examined,
is fund altogether ignorant of God and His commandments; therfor declared
un-worthie to enter the place of publick repentance til greater evidence of
hir knowledge; therfore cited, and this intimat to hir, and exhorted to
learae and to pray for knowledge.”
It would seem from the above,
that even to do public penance in church was a privilege in certain cases,
when the delinquent was supposed to stand in need of some previous
“That some thing be spoken
the next day in publick against people standing in the kirkyaird befor and
“Intimation mead of a
collection for the comanders who did supplicat the Presbetrie: the baillies
“4 May 1662.
“The minister did mor
particularly recommend to the session what wes publickly intimat anent the
necessare duetie incumbent to us in thir tymes, of private fasting in
families, and that they should be exemplare in the same.”
The above entry shows that
actual fasting was expected to be practised, in addition to attendance on
public ordinances and cessation from work. It is not likely, indeed, that
abstinence from food was ever attempted to be enforced, as in Roman Catholic
“18 June 1652.
“To intimat publickly that
people keep ther little ones at home in the house; or if they bring them to
the kirk, to keepe them at the and not suffer them goe through and truble
“4 Agutt 1652.
“It is apoynted to wame such
as lyes in the kirkyaird betwixt bells, and such as stay betwixt doores in
tyme of worship, to leave of, or els to be censured.”
“Betwixt doores” means the
space between the outer and inner doors of the ground storey of the tower,
which serves as a lobby or porch to the church.
A very important matter is
involved in the following entries. Up to the present date the parish of
Culross, in addition to what it still contains, comprised a large tract of
territory on the west which is now occupied by the modem town of Kincardine,
with the lands of Bumbrae, Lurg, Sands, Kellywood, and others. These all now
go to make up the estate of Sands, and a considerable portion of that of
Tulliallan. Shipping and foreign trade in the end of the last and beginning
of the present century converted Kincardine into a thriving commercial
place, with many substantial streets and houses; but in 1653, and for nearly
a hundred years afterwards, its population, though large, consisted mainly
of those employed in the extensive coal and salt works of the Earl of
Kincardine and his successors—an industry which, in this quarter, is now
entirely extinct. The parish of Tulliallan comprehended then merely the
barony of that name, whose population in ancient times comprised only the
lord of Tulliallan Castle, with his servants and tenants, the inhabitants of
the little hamlet of Dalquhamy, and those of a few scattered houses. These
were all easily accommodated in the little old church of Tulliallan,
situated in Tulliallan Park, about a mile to the north of the present
castle. But immediately adjoining, within the parish of Culross, was a large
and teeming population, occupying the lands of Kincardine, which, more than
fifty years before, had been acquired by that great captain of industry, Sir
George Bruce. These persons, though residing fully four miles from the
church of Culross, and little more than one from that of Tulliallan, were
yet, under the pain of severe ecclesiastical censure and penalties, obliged
to attend regularly the former place of worship, as that with which they
were parochially connected. It is readily perceptible that where it was
regarded as an incumbent duty on a kirk-session to keep a strict
surveillance over the walk and conversation of every individual parishioner,
it was absolutely necessary that his attendance on the parish church should
be rigidly required. The only remedy for such a state of things, where a
district with a large population was situated at an inconvenient distance
from its own and within more convenient access of another place of worship,
was to have it disjoined from the original and annexed to the more suitable
parish. The commencement of such a process, to disjoin Kincardine from
Culross and annex it to Tulliallan, is recorded in the following entries. We
have no record in the session-books of its completion, but it was
accomplished in 1672, and in 1675 a new church was erected for Tulliallan to
accommodate the influx of new parishioners.
“17 May 1663.
"The whilk day ther was a
supplication given in by the people of Kincardine and Lurg for a disjunction
of them from ther parish kirk of Culros to Tulliallan kirk. The supplication
was read; the session considered upon it, and thought it a mater very
considerable, and a work very necessarie, and will contribut to ther
uttermost for the advancement of the samen. Others being present at the
reading of the supplication, approved verrie weill of that work. The
“The Supplication of the
Indwellers of Lurg and Kincardine,
“That whereas it is weill
known that we dwell and live at a great distance from our parioch kirk of
Culros, and the most part of us being work people that serves at a sore,
wearisome, and laborious work in coal hewes and salt pans, and being a
numerous people besides, ther being lykwise many among us of age, many
infirm, and many young ones, so that wee cannot attend upon the Lord’s
worship in his ordinances upon the Sabboth-day at our parioch kirk, not
being able to travell so long a way of mor nor two long maills,2
and yet might goe to kirk if they were near one, so that our poore souls are
defrauded of the benefit of the means of grace, which should be dearer to us
than our ly ves, wherby we find ourselves in a very sad and pitiful
condition that cannot be remeaded while we are lyable to attend the said
parioch kirk, and seeing ther may be some way provyded for our ease and
accommodation in this particular by joyning us unto the congregation of
Tilliallen, which is bot a very little congregation, and to *vhom we lye
very near, and may have a kirk and house of meeting for God's worship hard
at our doors, to the building wherof we will contribute to our power, that
our land lairds and masters shall be litell burdened but so far as they
please: These, therfor, are to desyr your to take our hard condition to
consideration, and to use all means together with us wherby so good and
commendable a work may be brought on, and to give us advice, aide,
assistance, and concurrence, that a number of poor sterving souls lying in
ignorance of God and of the gospel may heave the meanes of salvation mor
commodiouslie, and our souls may bless you for acting in so necessarie a
work, and your answer we humblie expect.”
“12 Julie 1663.
“Jhon Gray, Gilbert Miller,
James Anderson, David Gray, all those being cited for the playing at cards
on the Sabbath-day after sermon, confessed the faults all of them upon ther
knees with tears, for they war sharplie reproved; and they are to be marked
and inacted, that if they ever be apprehended in the lyk fall, they shall
make their repentance in publick for it, to the which act they did bind
themselves by touching the pen. Jhon Grey, James Anderson, Gilbert Miller,
David Gray, sic suiscribuntur”
“Compeared Cathren Mackleren,
being cited for flyting and being drunk, was accused; confessed she called
Margaret Halliday ill-gotten geate,3 and that she
was gotten at a coall pitt. She is to be noted as a vile person. Both to be
cited againe the next day.”
“19 July 1653.
“Jhone Hunter and Jonnet
Cunninghame, being cited, he for suffering bis folks to pull sybows on the
Lord’s Day, and she for the pulling, he compeared and denyed that he knew of
it—referred; shee compeared not—referred.”
“26 July 1663.
“Christian Blyth and Jannet
Cunningham, being cited for pulling sybows on the Lord’s Day, compeared,
denyed— referred. John Sharp to be cited, who saw them.”
“2 Agust 1653.
“Jannet Cunningham, being
cited for pulling sybows, compeared—denyed; was sharply rebuked.”
It does certainly appear
rather strange that the pulling of a few early onions for the Sunday’s kail-pot
should he visited with a severe rebuke, whilst no higher penalty is
inflicted for playing at cards on the Sabbath—an act which, at the present
day, would be regarded generally as a gross profanation, and scarcely ever
be witnessed, at least in country places. But extremes meet.
Here is a parent summoned on
account of his children, somewhat after the manner of a modem school board:—
“4 October 1653.
"James Nasmith, cited for his
children vaiging on the Lord’s Day, compeared—declared that he could not
gitt them restrained. They are recommended to the magistrates to be taken
order with for their wickedness.”
“13 December 1653.
“Peter Kennedie, the poore
blind scholler in Saint Andrews, to gett £3, 15s. 4d.”
“All quiet on the Lord’s Day,
only Jhone Robertson and his son going from the afternoon’s sermon; to be
cited againe the next day.
“Intimation to be mead out of
pulpit on the next Lord’s [Day] that a collection be everie quarter of the
yeare for poore schollers.” •
“3 January 1654.
"All quiet on the Lord’s Day.
On of the elders appointed to look the loft evrie Lord’s Day, that ther be
no dinne in it.”
“17 January 1654.
“The scholars of Kincardine
and Tulliallan delated for fighting on with ane other the last Sabbath-day,
the 8 of January; the names of them to be gotten, that they may be scourged
at the sight of some elders and the minister, and word to be sent to
Tulliallen about that busines.”
“18 April 1654.
“The poore in the hospitall
to be spoken to be the minister and William Hewison, that they may abstene
from ther drinking.
“It is enacted that if any of
the poore of the hospitall be found in eal-houses, that the wholl mony that
is allowed upon them in the week shall be detained from them.”
The hospital here referred to
must have been the one founded by the second George Bruce of Camock, who
left the distribution of the funds in the hands of the minister and
kirk-session. It was situated at the west end of the town, near the site of
the present Balgownie House. The other hospital, generally known as Lord
Bruce's Hospital, and then situated at the foot of the Abbey Orchard, was
wholly under the control of the first Earl of Elgin, who at this time was
“Intimation to be mead out of
pulpit that the thrid bell ring evrie day at eight hours, and that the
scholars repeat the carages1 in the kirk evrie Lord’s Day.”
The above entry marks an
important epoch in the history of Scotch Presbyterianism. The Larger and
Shorter Catechisms, as compendia of Calvinistic faith and doctrine, had a
few years before been drawn up by the Assembly of Divines at Westminster,
and were now being regularly introduced into Scottish schools and families
for the religious instruction of youth. I am not aware, however, that the
committal of the Larger Catechism to memory was ever enforced. As regards
the Shorter Catechism, it was taught in every school, and the schoolmaster
was expected to see that his pupils made themselves proficients in it, and
were able to repeat correctly the answers to the questions on Sundays before
the minister and congregation. There were also special diets of examination
for old and young in the church, when all were thoroughly “ targed ” and
examined in the Bible and Catechism as to their religious knowledge. And
though the custom has now fallen much into desuetude, it was long the
practice of every well-regulated household in Scotland for the head of the
family to drill all the members of it, servants included, in the Shorter
Catechism every Sunday evening. Some even had a preliminary drill on the
“30 May 1664.
“The session thinks fit that
(because of the great abuse is in eall-houses by selling too much drink at
once to people) that some elders goe with the ministers and for-bidde those
that sell eall not to sell till people be drunke.”
Many will think that the
above is about the wisest edict ever issued by a kirk-session.
“6 June 1654.
“The minister, Jhone Sands,
William Huison, shew that did visit the eall-houses in the east end of the
“No misorder on the Lord’s
Day,except some litell boyes that trouble the kirk to be punished.”
“Recommended to Alexr. Eizat,
who was gone to Dunfermline to try what is given to the man who cuts
children of the stone.”
In reference to the above
singular entry, the following extracts, belonging to the same period and
evidently referring to the same “man,” may be quoted here from Dr E.
Henderson’s 4 Extracts from the Kirk-session Records of Dunfermline':—
“1654. 5 Septr.—This day the
collector of the contribution for the baimes paind of the stane reported yt
they had collected 281ib. 12s. 6d.
“12 Septr.—The session
considering that the money col-lectit will not be able to pey the doctor who
is come from
Glasgow, and it being
reported be James Reid, provist, yt he hade with great difficultie agried wt
him for 36 lib. money Scotts for ane of the baimes—it is thot fitt yt the
minister and James Huton deal with the doctor for more ease of the peyt.
“19 Sept.—This day it is
reported (to the session) be those who were appoynted, yt they hade spoken
the doctor, and that he would have no less nor for ilk childe cutting and
curing, by payt. for his chairges and interteny-ment the tyme he was heir,
and drink money to his men. Mr Oliphant, minstr., reported yt he had
collectit 301b. from gentlemen and uther nytbors sen the last day to help to
pay the doctor. It is thot fitt yt a collection be gatherid fra the gilde,
the trades, an comon burges’s, as also that the ordinar collection of twa
Sabbaths be given for this use. The doctor got peyd. . . .
“1657. 20 Aug.—The session
appoint Thomas Stevenson, collector, to give 121ib. to James Brunt to help
to pey the doctor, called Doctor Sutor, for cutting his childe of ye stone.”
As Dr Henderson remarks in
his notes to these extracts, there is something very unaccountable in so
many children being affected at the same time with this malady. It is
devoutly to be hoped that many little lives were not sacrificed to the cruel
quackery of a charlatan. Dr Souters charges seem to have been extortionate,
and to have deterred the good people of Culross from availing themselves of
his services. At least we have no further reference to him or his
About this period Mr John
Duncan, incumbent of the first charge, seems to have died, though there is
no special record of the event. He had been twenty-four years minister of
Culross; and though admitted in 1631, in the days of Episcopacy, he had
readily conformed to the new state of things introduced in 1638, and become
a most zealous champion of Presbytery. Active and zealous he certainly was,
though his zeal appears occasionally to have been without discretion, and
even approximated him to the character of a Protestant Torquemada.
In March 1655 a new set of
elders is announced as about to be formed. A curious list of objections is
given in against certain persons who either already hold or are proposed to
be nominated to that office. The following is the entry in the
“Objections against the
“24 March 1655.
“1. Adam Masterton was mala
famce—that is, he was given to drink, and that it was reported he was . . .
; and that Robert Sands said that he heard him say, that if he were a
gentleman and upon the session, he rather see Will. Burn and Will. Adam
hanged over the steeple befor they gott there will.
“2. Jhone Blaw was scandalous
for drinking and breaking glasses with his goodfather, and that he uses no
“3. Sir George Prestone,
objections to be against him the next day.
“4. Doctor Colvill was no
"5. Blairhall, for negatives
he hes qualifications, but positives he hes non.
“6. Bordie, for negatives he
hes qualifications, but wants positives.
“7. George Henderson, for
negatives he hes, and positive qualifications lykwyse.
“8. Borrowen does not pray in
“9. George Miller prays.
“Referrs the list of the
elders till the next day, and Adam Masterton’s scandalls to be tryed.”
"The minister shew that the
Presbetrie had appointed Mr James Sibbald to come and preach in Culross, and
to shew to the congregation that the place was vaiking by the removall of Mr
“11 October 1666.
“The Ladie desyred a Ion of
the kirk Bible,
which was granted, upon condition that shee make it not worse.”
“2 March 1656.
“Intimation to be mead the
next Lord’s Day for a collection for the people which had ther houses brunt
"No session on the 11 of May,
because the minister might not goe to preach by reason of ane sore laigge,
which he gott coming from Edinburgh.”
“18 May 1656.
“All the elders was present
“No misorder on the Lord’s
Day, save two boys of George Wilsone was seen out of the kirk in tyme of
divine service; to be cited—all references reserved.”
Mr Matthew Fleming succeeds
Mr Duncan in the ministry of the first charge, Mr Robert Edmonstone
continuing in that of the second. A diminution in zeal and energy is
perceptible in the tone of the session minutes after Mr Duncan’s death, and
ere long they cease altogether. But I anticipate.
“1 June 1656.
“Intimation to be mead the
next Lord’s Day that people may not lay in the kirk-yeard on the Sabbath-day
betwixt the second and third bell, but that they come in and heare the
catechizes: every who does so to be censured/*
“16 December 1656.
“Intimation to be mead on the
Lord’s Day for a collection to the imprisoned ministers amongst the Turks.”
“The heritors and sessioners
and counsellors being desyred to meet 21 of December, did meett, and having
mett, the minister shew them that the Presbetrie desyred them to use means
to gitt Kincardine disjoyned from this parioch, and joyned to Tulliallan;
2d, that they would purchase ane other manse; 3d, that they would setle the
localitie of the stipend: all to be advysed on.”
“24 December 1666.
“The whilk day Mr James
Sibbald, moderator, preached on the 2d Thess. 5 chap. 22 verse, and after
sermon Mr Matthew Fleming was received in an orderly way to bear burden in
the work of the ministrie, according to the Acts and constitutions of the
“Intimation of a fast was
mead, 28 day, for a blessing to the labours of the ministers, to be keeped
the 30 day of December 1656: the fast was keeped accordingly.”
Though the keeping of Yule or
Christmas and other ecclesiastical holidays was proscribed, there seems to
have been no interference with such occasions as Hogmanay and New Year's
Day. It is probable, therefore, the Culross people would fully indemnify
themselves for their austerities on the penultimate day of the year.
“27 January 1667.
“Jhone M'Queen, a sillie daft
bodie, who was mead drunk, was complined of in the session. The people that
gave him drink to be discharged, otherwise to be censured.”
“10 March 1667.
"James Peacock, appoynted be
the session to sitt in the quier to still the children that maks dinne in
tyme of dyvine service on the Lord’s Day.
“Jhone Midletone, the bedles
man, to waitt on the kirk doors on the Lord’s Day to take notice of the
children that maks dinne there in tyme of divine service.”
“24 March 1667.
“Intimation to be mead on the
Lord’s Day out of pulpit, first, that people sleep not in the kirk in tyme
of sermone; 2nd, that there be no standing in the kirk-yeard when the
children are saying the catechises in the kirk; 3d, that non vaige on the
Lord’s Days,, either in tyme of sermon or after sermone.”
“6 May 1667.
“No session thir dayes
bygone, by reason both the ministers was sick.
“Intimation to be mead to the
people that the first bell will ring at seven hours, and the last bell at 8
hours on the week days, that people may come sooner then they use to do.
“Becaus the great bell in the
steeple is ryven, the session recommends it to the thesaurer and the baillie
to cause shear hir, that shee may be mead ready for ringing with all
“30 June 1667.
"It is recommended to the
elders that evrie on of them visit there own bounds evrie Lord’s Day after
the sermons, that people may not sitt at doors or without doors craking
their ordinarie discourse.”
“21 July 1667.
“Two elders are appoynted to
goe through the streets evrie Sabbath about fyve hours after sermon, to see
that ther be no people sitting at doors, or children playing in the
With the last two enactments
for the rigid observance of Sunday, even to the suppression of friendly
gossip on the doorstep and children running about, all that is of interest
in the second volume of the session records of Culross terminates. A gap now
occurs in these records of nearly twenty years, and when they are resumed,
times and circumstances have greatly altered.