Extracts from Inverness Kirk-Session
Records 1661-1800, edited by Alexander Mitchell (Inverness: Robt.
Carruthers & Sons, 1902).
Many stirring scenes have been witnessed in
the streets of Old Inverness, but none more picturesque than that in which
the peace-loving but undismayed burghers were compelled to resort to arms
to defend the town from the Highlanders who were pressing in on it. The
entry in the Session Register is the only record of the event so far as
28th Aprille 1689
"That day sermon, preached be Mr Gilbert Marshall in the forenoone at
the Cross, and that by reason Cole M’donald was about the town boasting to
com in with his whole force, consisting of 8 ore 900 men, to plunder the
toun. Afternoone, Mr Mackenzie preached as aforsaid, all the citizens
being necessitate to stand in a posture off Defence."
May 5th, 1689
"No sermon, and that by reason of our Confusions."
August 24th, 1690
"That day sermon preached by Mr M’Kenzie in his ordinaire, but before
sermon ended wee wer surprysed by General Buchan’s highland armie, who lay
betwixt Castell and Culloden, so that qt Collection was uplifted, was
given to the poor."
Records destroyed by fire
From 20th January 1704 till 15th April 1707 there
is no Session minute, as explained in the minutes of the latter date —
"This day it was represented in the Session That an accidental fire
happened in the clerk’s chamber betwixt the hours of ten and twelve
o’clock at night, which continued until two o’clock in the morning, being
the eight and ninth instant which fire during the continuance of it was
most violent, and that the whole roof, loft, and other things belonging to
himself was consumed by the sd fire ; only the registers were very
providentially preserved, and that the minuts for the years of God
seventeen hundred and four, five, and six years, till this date were
burnt, as also the register of baptisms from the year of God seventeen
hundred and three the 26th day of January were burnt, together
also wt the register of marriages and burials from the year of God one
thousand six hundred and eighty eight years, Which being considered, the
Session appointed that publick intimation be made after forenoone sermon
on Sabbath next in both churches, that the whole inhabitants of town and
parish who have had children baptized These four years bygone should come
to yr clerk, Alexr. Bishop, and give up the names of their children, wt
the date of their birth and baptism to the nearest of their remembrance,
together wt the names of the witnesses for the tyme for said, and that in
order to make up the forsd register of baptism that is lost, and that the
same shall be recorded gratis."
The Elders, with the ministers, constituted the Kirk Session. They
dealt with morals, took care of the poor, the aged, infirm ; the youth at
school, the orphan, and the foundling. In essence, they controlled the
whole social economy.
28th of Aprile 1691
"Agnes ffraser, Servitrix to Widow McPhaille, who was citted for her
Scandlouse Deportment with one Beasand, a souldier, Compeared, but confest
nothing, but the Session having a pregnant presumption of her carriage,
ordered her to prison till they were better informed of her deportment."
8th March 1703
"William Miller, being interogatt annent the knowing of his wiffe befor
marriage, denyed the same and that he has no suspicion of his wiffe. The
session recommended to David Stewart, James Thomson, and Donald Fraser to
speak to the midwiffe annent the childe whither it be a seven months’
childe or if it be come to the right time, and that they bring their
report again the next Session day."
It appears that some delinquents did not submit tamely to the Session’s
discipline. For four years the Session harried young Fraser of Culduthel,
and it was only after all manner of procrastination had been practised and
exhausted that it finally compelled him to submit to the discipline. [Ed:
Alexander Fraser 4th Culduthel (1665-1736), eldest son and heir
of Malcolm Fraser 3rd Culduthel (c1636-1709) the Duke of
16th Febry. 1692
"Also delated Alexr ffraser, younger of Culldithel, for keeping a woman in
his house and, as it is reported, is with childe to him, qrfor wes
ordained to be citted again ye next day."
5th January 1696
"Alexr ffraser, younger of Culldithell, was citted from pulpit to compear
the morrow be two of the clock in the afternoone to the Session under pain
of being remitted to the Presbiterie."
"Alexr ffraser, younger of Culldithell, wes yesterday call’d from
pulpit, meanwhyll did not compear, only sent a letter to one of the Elders
wherein he promised faithfully to come to the Lord’s day to church and
give the Session and Congregation all the satisfaction imaginable. The
letter the Session having taken to yr serious consideration, delayed him
with this certification, if he did not that forthwith he should be
remitted to the Presbiterie, as also the Session ordered me writter hereof
to go to the said Alexr ffraser of Culldithell that he com to the
minister’s lodgings whereby he may converse with him in presence of two or
three of the Elders."
12th January 1696
"Compeared Alexr ffraser of Culldithell and was sharply rebuked and
exhorted, and was afterwards ordered to wait the Session the morrow."
13th Janry. 1696
"Compeared Alexr ffraser of Culldithell, haveing yesterday appeared in
face of the Congregation, the Session finding the said Alexr. to be as to
the outward appearance sufficiently remorse for his fall, voted that his
rebuke yesterday and exhortation should serve for his absolvitor."
Febr. 22, 1726
"Isobel McKenzie, Being Called, Compeared, and Confessed a fall in
fornication with John Fraser, Brother to Fairfield. She was seriously
Exhorted to Repentance, and ordered to compear Before the Congregation
next Lord’s day. Mr Stuart Reported that the said John, since he took his
voag for America, did draw upon his Brother for three pound sterling to
the poor of this place, to be disposed of By the Session, As his fine for
this fall and the former, which Bill was delivered to the penalty
Treasurer in order to pursue Fairfield for the Said Sume."
Picture: Inverness Market Cross, 1726
Thanks to Marie Fraser,
Clan Fraser Society of
Canada, for this article.