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Aberdour and Inchcolme
Lecture 8

The history of the old Church of Aberdour resumed—Its earliest Protestant ministers—Mr. Peter Blackwood: his wide sphere of labour— The Readers and Exhorters—John Fairfull, Exhorter and father of an Archbishop—Mr. Andrew Kirk, Vicar—John Row, the historian, schoolmaster at Aberdour—Story of the conversion to Protestantism of his father, the Pope’s Nuncio—Contest about a stipend—A member of the 'Angelical Assembly ’—Mr. William Paton succeeded by Mr. Walter Stewart—Mr. Robert Bruce of Kincavil—Dalgety and Beath separated from Aberdour—Paganism of Beath—John Row and Colville of Blair befriend Beath—Mr. Robert Bruce’s suspension—An exploit in pastoral visitation—Mr. William Cochrane, and Mr. William Smyth, assistants, and their stipends—Mr. Thomas Litster—Mr. Robert Johnstone—Notices of the public worship of the period—Communion seasons—Special collections made for various objects.

After spending a considerable time on the history of the Monastery of Inchcolme, we now return to the old Church of Aberdour. Sir John Scot, one of the Canons of Inchcolme, was Vicar of Aberdour between the years 1474 and i486—how much earlier or later I have no means of knowing ; and then there is a period of upwards of seventy years, during which there is quite a dearth of information regarding the old church and its ministers. I have reason to believe that the Vicar’s house stood near the site of ‘The Cottage,’ on the sea-shore, to the south of Seaside Street, occupied by Captain Bogle; and it is not improbable that the curious old columbarium, which was some time ago unearthed there, was the source whence the Vicar got the materials of which his pigeon-pies were made.

That blessed period for our country—the Reformation from Popery—at length arrived, and with it the old church of Aberdour comes again into view. I know not what I would give for papers connected with that period, from which information might be gleaned regarding the means by which the Reformed cause was spread in this neighbourhood, and the circumstances in which the Reformed worship was set up. No information on these subjects can be got from the Session Records of the parish; for they go no further back than 1649—eighty-nine years after the period of the Reformation. Such notices, therefore, as I am able to lay before you of the old church and its ministers, during that long period, have been drawn from other sources.

It is stated, in the Records of the Kirk-Session of Beath, on the authority of Mr. William Scott, who was minister of Cupar during nearly the first half of the seventeenth century, that the first place where the Protestant Lords of Scotland met was the Kirk of Beath; and this confers great interest on a place which was virtually part of the parish of Aberdour till the year 1643.

The editor of the Minutes of the Synod of Fife, published by the Abbotsford Club, tells us that the first minister of our parish, after the Reformation, was Mr. John Ramsay, who, he says, was admitted in 1560 ‘to the kirks of Aberdour and Torrie.’ But he has evidently mistaken our parish for Aberdour in Buchan ; and Torrie is put in the place of Tyrie, in the same district.

The first Protestant minister of Aberdour of whom we have any sure information was Mr. Peter Blackwood. He had been a Canon-Regular of the Abbey of Holyrood; and seems to have been appointed in 1567, first of all, to Saline, having the parishes of Auchtertool, Dalgety, and Aberdour also in charge. He must thus have had a wide field to work in. About the year 1571 he removed to Aberdour, but he still had Saline and Dalgety under his care. No doubt he had, at various times, the assistance of Readers, among whom we find John Paterson, whose labours were confined to Aberdour and Dalgety, while Mr. John Fairfull and Mr. Walter Balcanquall do the work of Exhorters. The Readers were a very valuable class of workers, raised up to meet the pressing wants of the time. Their office was to read the Scriptures to the people, few of whom were sufficiently educated to do this for themselves. And, in the case of a minister with so many congregations under his charge as Mr. Blackwood had, the services of the Reader would be much in request, and, on many occasions, the only ministrations of a public kind within the reach of the parishioners. Between the Readers and the regularly ordained ministers there was a class of men who, in addition to reading the Scriptures, were permitted to exhort the people, and on this account were called Exhorters. To this order belonged John Fairfull and Walter Balcanquall, to whom I have just referred. In all likelihood the latter is the same person who, a few years after this, appears as one of the ministers of Edinburgh, and whose son was successively Dean of Rochester and Dean of Durham. A curious paper has fallen into my hands, from which it appears that John Tyrie, younger—a son of John Tyrie of Bridgend, Aberdour, Chamberlain of the Abbacy of St Cohne’s Inch —was Reader in Dalgety in 1582. The paper is a receipt for stipend, and runs as follows:—‘I Peter Blacwod, minister of God’s worde at Aberdor grantis me to have ressaveitt fra Iohne Tyrie of ye Brigend, Chalmerlane of ye Abbacie of Sanctcolmisinche, the sume of twentie fyve ponds mony, for ye Mertimess terme, for my stipend of y® four score ane zeir, and uther twentie fyve ponds for ye quhitsonday terme of ye four score two zeirs, in compleitt payment of my haill zeir’s stipend of yc forsaid two termis qhereof I hold me weill content, satisfeitt and payitt, and of all uther zeirs and termis precedyng ye deitt of ye two termis abufe specifeitt: Be yis my acqwittance wreittin and subscryvit w' my hand, at Dunibirsill, ye twentie fyft daye of November foure score two zeiris, Before yir witness, Iohne Tyrie, younger, Reder in Dalgatie, Iohne Wemys in Aberdor Ihone Stevin servand me lord of Dun [Doune]. Peter Blacwod.’ This acknowledgment is remarkably well written and expressed, notwithstanding its antique and variable spelling, and it conveys no mean idea of Mr. Blackwood’s scholarship. Mr. Blackwood’s salary, for the Parishes of Aberdour,Dalgety,andSaline,was; £i28,8s. 11d.; and John Paterson, the Reader at Aberdour, received annually.

According to the editor of the Minutes of the Synod of Fife, Mr. Blackwood was translated to Aberdeen in 1586. He probably found himself inadequate to the labour and responsibility entailed on him by the charge of so many parishes. It is lamentable to mark the spiritual destitution which appears in these notices—one minister having the charge of as many as four or five parishes. Much of this destitution was no doubt due to the want of properly equipped men; but undoubtedly a good deal of it is traceable to the mean, avaricious measures of the heritors and Parliament of the time ; and if one man may be singled out as a greater adept than others, at this time, in the line of policy which brought about this sad state of matters, we may name the Regent Morton. The system bore very bitter fruit in Aberdour and its immediate neighbourhood, as we shall have occasion by and by to show.

John Fairfull, whom we have seen acting as Exhorter, was a student of St. Salvator’s College, St. Andrews. After acting as an Exhorter at Aberdour and Dalgety, we find him engaged as a schoolmaster in Dunfermline in 1584. Some years later he was presented to the Vicarage of Dalgety and Beath, and in 1598 he was translated to Dunfermline. He appears to have been a man of considerable culture, having been appointed, by the Assembly of 1601, a minister for the Royal household; and a few years later he received from the King the mastership of the grammar-school of Culross. The first of these appoinments, however, did not take effect; and, whatever his services at Culross may have been, he continued minister at Dunfermline. In 1609 Mr. Fairfull was brought into trouble through the high-handed policy of the Chancellor, Seaton, whose home at that time was at Dalgety. The Chancellor accused him of the grave crime of praying for the ministers who had been banished in 1606 for opposing the Royal will in Church matters. For this, and other similar offences, Mr. Fairfull was ordered by the King to repair to Dundee, and continue there during his Majesty’s pleasure. He was not allowed to return to Dunfermline, but became minister of Anstruther, where he died in 1626, in the eightieth year of his age. It is a fact of some interest to us that the son of this former Exhorter at Aberdour was the somewhat notorious Andrew Fairfull, Archbishop of Glasgow during the early part of the Persecuting Times. Before reaching that position he had been successively minister at Leith and Dunse; and he is credited by Wodrow, on what seems indubitable evidence, with being the real author of the tyrannical Act of Privy Council in 1662, by which so many ministers were banished from their charges and their homes, because they would not seek collation from the bishops.

The parish of Carnock got a minister of its own in 1586, Saline in 1587, and Auchtertool some time before 1604; but Aberdour, Dalgety, and Beath continued united till 1643.

I have said that Mr. Blackwood was translated to Aberdeen in 1586. He was succeeded by Mr. Andrew Kirk, who was appointed to the Vicarage of the parish in 1587; for in those old days, and as often as Episcopacy raised its head in the Church, the distinction between Parsonage and Vicarage dues was to some extent observed. Mr. Kirk was a graduate of St. Andrews University, and had been a Reader at Muckhart from 1567 till 1586. After labouring in a similar capacity at Aberdour and Dalgety, he was, in 1588, presented to the parish of Fossoway, then within the bounds of the Presbytery of Stirling ; but on examination it was discovered that his theological attainments were so deficient that the brethren declared him, to use the words of their Minute, ‘not meit thane to be admitted, in respect of the invaliditie of his doctrine.’ Thus debarred from the work of the ministry at Fossoway, we find him ere long presented to the parish of Glendevon ; and it would seem either that his doctrine had by this time acquired more robustness, or that extraneous influence had been brought into play to secure his settlement, for he became minister of Glendevon, and, after labouring for about forty years there, was succeeded in the charge by his son Andrew, who also was a graduate of the University of St. Andrews.

There was, about this time, a very remarkable man resident in Aberdour, who claims some notice at our hands. All who have made themselves familiarly acquainted with the process of events in Scotland, subsequent to the Reformation from Popery, have heard of John Row’s History of the Kirk of Scotland. The author of that work was schoolmaster at Aberdour for a period of two years, and during that time he was also tutor to William, the second Earl of Morton, of the house of Lochleven, who was then a mere boy. As Row became a man of great eminence, on account of his piety as well as his learning, and as his connection with Aberdour is one of the most interesting of the historical associations belonging to the place at the time with which we are dealing, I shall be expected to dwell on it for a little. But, first of all, I must tell you something of his parentage. His father, who drew his name from the estate of Row, which lies between Bridge of Allan and Doune, was a man of considerable distinction. Receiving his early education at the grammar-school of Stirling, he became a student of St. Leonard’s College, St. Andrews, and took his degree of Master of Arts from that University. He became such a proficient in the knowledge of Canon Law that he was sent to Rome prior to the time of the Reformation, as agent of the clergy in Scotland, and when the events which heralded that great movement were heard of at Rome, he was sent back to Scotland, as the Pope’s Nuncio, to inquire into the causes which had led to it. This investigation opened his eyes to the great importance of the questions at issue; and he speedily became a decided Reformer, working vigorously along with Knox and others to consolidate the emancipated Church.

The immediate cause of Dr. Row’s conversion to Protestantism was a very remarkable one; and it may lighten a lecture in which there are a good many dry facts and dates, if I relate it to you in as few words as possible.

At the time we speak of there was, in the parish of Inveresk, a chapel dedicated to ‘ Our Lady of Loretto,’ generally called St. Alareit. This chapel was one of the most celebrated shrines of superstition in Scotland. James the Fifth on one occasion made a pilgrimage to it from Stirling, walking all the way; and great was the concourse of people of all ranks who usually flocked to it; for the image of the Virgin, which had been brought from Loretto by Thomas the Hermit, was believed to possess miraculous powers.

That Hermeit of Laureit,
He put the common pepill in beleif,
That blind gat sicht, and cruikit gat their feet.

When Reformation light began to shine, the ecclesiastics, fearing that old Mother Church was about to be deserted, resolved to do something fitted to confirm the wavering faith of their flocks, and, with considerable daring, proclaimed their intention of openly working a miracle, in order to put doubt to silence. A praiseworthy resolution, and an argument that ought to be convincing, should the reality of the miracle only prove beyond the reach of opposing evidence ! They did not start at their shadow, these old churchmen; so they made proclamation at the Cross of Edinburgh that, on a given day, they would bestow sight on a blind man, who had for some time gone about the district begging, and so was well known. And they invited all and sundry to come to the chapel of Loretto, and see the miracle with their own eyes, and be convinced. The day arrived, and with it an immense multitude anxious to witness the promised wonder. A scaffold had been erected, and a young man, who walked with hesitating steps, was led on to it. Every beholder saw that the poor man’s eyes had all the appearance of blindness; many recognised him as the blind beggar, who for some years had been led about the country; and, after a few ceremonies were gone through, all saw that the appearance of his eyes was entirely changed. In addition to this, the whole multitude saw him walking across the scaffold, and down the steps to the ground as unerringly as they themselves could. And as he went, he lifted up his voice, and praised God, and St. Mary, and St. Alareit, and all the saints, priests, and friars, who had so wonderfully given him sight. All this was to the unsuspicious so convincing and affecting that the people’s hearts were melted, and their purses opened, and a great many followed the man and gave him money. There was a Fife laird among the crowd that day, who had a clear head as well as a warm heart and a full purse. This was Robert Colville of Cleish, Cleish being counted a part of Fife in those days. He too followed the man, and gave him money; for he, as well as the others, had seen the wonderful cure, with this difference, that he did not believe in its genuineness. By repeated gifts of money the man was lured into his benefactor’s lodgings ; and no sooner was he there than Colville changed his tactics. Having bolted the door of the apartment, he told his recently acquired friend that he believed him to be a thorough impostor; and, drawing his sword, threatened to cut his guest’s head off if he did not tell the whole truth regarding this pretended miracle. Thus forewarned, the man made a virtue of necessity, declaring that, when a shepherd-boy in the service of the Augustinian nuns of the Sciennes, near Edinburgh, he had learned the art of turning up his eyeballs so as to appear blind, and that the friars, hearing of this wonderful gift, and thinking to turn it to their own advantage, kept him in hiding for a time. By and by they sent him out to travel the district around Edinburgh as a blind beggar; and, eventually, they pretended to work their miracle of healing on him at the chapel of Loretto. All this he was induced by Colville openly to declare at the Cross of Edinburgh ; and when this was done, the two galloped off to Queensferry, and, crossing the Firth there, reached Cleish in safety. Dr. Row was at the time on a visit at Cleish, and heard from the young man’s lips the whole story of the pretended miracle; and the narration accomplished at Cleish what the friars had only pretended to do at Inveresk,—for it really opened the eyes of Dr. Row to see that Popery was a delusion. Breaking with Rome, he became a minister of the Reformed Church, labouring first at Kennoway, where he married Margaret Bethune, daughter of the laird of Balfour; and afterwards at Perth, where he greatly helped to advance the good cause.

John Row, the historian, was the third son of this erewhile Nuncio of the Pope’s. He had the benefit of an excellent education, and was a very precocious scholar. As he advanced towards manhood, he became tutor to the children of his uncle, Bethune of Balfour; and after a course of study at the University of Edinburgh, he became tutor to William, Earl of Morton, then a mere boy, as I have already mentioned ; and at the same time he acted as schoolmaster at Aberdour. The young Earl’s widowed mother being now married to Lord Spynie, to whom Row was related through his mother, we may suppose that his position at Aberdour Castle was one that secured for him a large measure of respect as well as comfort. He was at this time twenty-two years of age, and, being on the public exercise at Dunfermline, usually preached in the afternoon.

So, without doubt, the walls of our old church have often echoed his voice. However comfortable his quarters at Aberdour were, and however honourably, as well as usefully, he was employed in directing the studies of the youthful Earl, and teaching the children of the villagers, it appears that he began to weary of the pomp and pageantry of the Castle. For, from various sources we learn that at this time, and during the whole of Earl William’s period, there was, within the walls of what is now a neglected ruin, all the life and bustle, the festivity and gaiety, of a Court. This did not suit the taste of one who would rather have had the learned leisure of a country minister’s life, than hanging on at levees and dancing attendance on the great. Accordingly, you will not be astonished to hear that, the little kirk of Carnock falling vacant, and he receiving the appointment, he accepted it, and bade adieu to the Castle and school of Aberdour at the close of the year 1592.

John Row was, however, a frequent visitor at Aberdour after this date ; and in the following year he was laid up for eighteen weeks with a tertian fever while residing in his old quarters. A singular incident occurred during that time. The fabric of the kirk at Carnock, we are told, £ wes in an evill condition, being theiked with heather, haveing no seates, verie dark, and wanting lights.’ And ‘ in the time of his vehement disease ’—at Aberdour—‘ it fell out that, upon a Sabbath day, about n houres, when the people wold have been in the kirk, if he had been able to preach, the roofe of the kirk brak and fell down, whilk doubtless wold have killed some and hurt many, if the people had been in the kirke.’

But we must leave John Row for a little, to carry on our account of the old church of Aberdour and its ministers. Mr. Andrew Kirk was translated to Glendevon in 1591, and we fall on no traces of a successor till 1602, when Patrick Carmichael is translated from Soutra to fill Mr. Kirk’s place. He petitioned the General Assembly of that year, complaining that Mr. William Paton, who was then minister of Dalgety, had the whole stipend belonging to that parish, and the parish of Aberdour as well, and asking that half of the stipend belonging to the two parishes should be given to him, the petitioner, as 1 plantit minister at the kirk of Aberdour.’ But to this course Mr. William Paton urged some technical objections which could not be easily set aside, and manifested a strong desire to pocket the whole stipend, while only doing half the work, and that very imperfectly; and so Mr. Carmichael had to be satisfied with the Vicarage dues. Notwithstanding this unfavourable decision, he laboured on in the parish till 1610, when he was translated to Oxnam, in Roxburghshire.

I am sorry that I have been unable to discover any more important facts than these regarding the ministry of Mr. Patrick Carmichael; but I regret still more that I have found so much recorded of Mr. William Paton’s doings during his incumbency, for much that I have found does not redound to his credit. My authority for what I am about to tell you regarding Mr. Paton is John Row, the historian. I must premise, however, that Mr. Paton was minister of Makerston, and afterwards of Orwell, before being appointed to Dalgety, with the ministerial oversight of Aberdour and Beath.

Presbyterianism having ere this been established in our country, and the King having by a solemn oath bound himself to maintain it, you do not need to be told how, at the period when Paton lived, every artifice that kingcraft could devise was used to take her liberty from the Church. Unlawful Acts were passed by the Parliament, and, by means of bribery, suicidal resolutions were secured in the General Assembly. Perhaps no Assembly of the Scottish Church has such infamy connected with its enactments as that of 1610. Instructions—perhaps I should say orders— were given by State officials to each Presbytery, naming the representatives who were to be sent to the Assembly; and when the members had convened, the Earl of Dunbar distributed so much money, in coins known by the name of ‘Angels,’ among those who were ascertained to be willing instruments in carrying out the policy of the Court, that this was long ironically called ‘the Angelical Assembly.’ Of this Assembly Mr. Paton was a member, and Mr. John Row broadly asserts that the minister of Dalgety got fifty weighty arguments, in the shape of marks, from the Earl of Dunbar, which convinced him that it was his duty to vote away the liberty of the Church. It would seem, however, that he did not derive much benefit from this ill-gotten gain, for the elders of the Kirk-Session missed fifty marks, or thereby, belonging to the kirk-box, which stood in the manse, and when they urged him to make some effort to discover the culprit, he refused to do so. A complaint was thereupon made to the Bishop, who made a visitation of the kirk, and ordered Mr. Paton to replace the lost money, seeing it was taken from the box while it stood in his house, and he had made no effort to discover the offender. Let us not dwell longer on this disagreeable story, but leave it with the expression of a wish that so it may always happen in the case of those who accept bribes of any sort, by whomsoever given!

Mr. Paton removed to Aberdour about the year 1614, having still, however, the spiritual oversight of Dalgety and Beath. His influence cannot have been of an elevating kind, seeing Mr. John Row says of him, that his ‘ skill and dexteritie was knowen to be far greater in making of skulls [a kind of coarse basket], nor either in praying or preaching.’ This unsavoury reputation of Mr. Paton throws considerable light on a transaction which I must now notice. When John Row had been minister of Carnock for about twenty-four years a great effort was made by his old friends, the Earl of Morton and the parishioners of Aberdour, to have him translated to the latter parish. No doubt Mr. Paton was still alive, but it was proposed that he should go to Carnock; and to this arrangement he consented, on the characteristic condition that his stipend at Carnock should be made as good as the one he was to leave behind at Aberdour. There was even an Act of the Synod of Fife procured for Mr. Row’s translation. ‘But,’ as his son, Mr. William Row, minister of Ceres, tells us, ‘when he saw the Act appointing him to be minister of Aberdoure, Dalgetie, and Beath, he could not be induced, by all their persuasions and arguments, to take on the burden of three kirks, alledging that one small charge wes too weightie for him; so that purpose failed.’

Mr. Paton died in 1634, his death being caused by a fall; and he was succeeded the following year by Mr. Walter Stewart, who was translated from Rousay and Egilshay, in Orkney, on a presentation by Charles the First. He continued for a very short time minister of Aberdour, having been translated to South Ronaldshay and Burray in 1636.

In the following year Mr. Robert Bruce was presented by Charles the First to the vacant charge,—still consisting of Aberdour, Dalgety, and Beath. He seems to have belonged to a collateral branch of the Bruces of Airth, and was, I believe, the son of Sir John Bruce of Kincavil. In some papers which I have had the opportunity of examining in the Sheriff-Court room at Cupar, he is not only designated ‘ of Kincavil ’—a property in Linlithgowshire that once belonged to Sir Patrick Hamilton, the father of Patrick Hamilton the martyr,—but it appears that he was proprietor of Pitkeny, Mitchelston, a part of Strathore, and various tenements in the town of Dysart. But it is with the public life of Mr. Bruce that we have chiefly to concern ourselves. The Session Record of the parish gives us no notice of the first twelve years of his ministry; but from other sources we glean what is sufficient to convince us that, in spite of his name, Mr. Robert Bruce was a weak, although, in all probability, a well-meaning man. He had a peculiar facility in turning his coat. When first admitted minister at Aberdour he was an Episcopalian. In 1638 he took his stand with the Covenanters, and for a time his public actings indicated sympathy with the side he had espoused. But when suffering for the sake of principle loomed in the distance, he gradually separated himself from the Covenanting party, and in 1662 he went back to the ranks he had left in 1638, his guiding principle, apparently, being that of the Vicar of Bray,—to stick to his benefice. A consistent man is ever to be respected, whatever his opinions on ecclesiastical matters may be ; but when one makes a profession of attachment to a set of principles, and then, at the call of self-interest, runs to the opposite extreme, only those who are like-minded can applaud, or even defend him. Mr. Bruce was appointed Elimosinar, or Almoner, to the King in 1646, and was married to a sister of John Watson of Dunnikier.

It was during the time of Mr. Bruce’s ministry that the important step was taken of erecting Dalgety and Beath into separate parishes. Hitherto they had, in the main, been dependent on the minister of Aberdour for the supply of ordinances. The result of such a state of matters might easily have been foreseen, and, better still, might have been avoided. And then we should have been saved the shame of that notice in the Mi?mtes of the Synod of Fife, which leaves a deep stain on the early history of the neighbourhood. It is of date April 9th, 1641, and runs as follows :—

Recommend to Parliament the parish of Aberdour.—The deplorable estate of a great multitude of people, living in the mids of such a Reformed shyre as verie paganes, because of the want of the benefit of the Word, there being three kirkis far distant, under the cure of ane minister, to wit: Aberdour, Dagetie, and Beath; the remeid whereof the Synod humblie and earnestlie recommendis to the Parliament.’

As the Records of our Kirk-Session do not extend so far back as this, I cannot say precisely how far the statements contained in this Minute directly apply to the state of morality in our village. But eight years after this I find the mill of Aberdour going, and young women playing at games in the fields, on Sabbath, and many nameless proofs of great corruption of manners. It is difficult to form a correct view of the state of matters in the parish of Dalgety; but, as there had been no preaching of the Word there for several years before this time, it is not likely that the cause of morality stood any higher there. As Aberdour, Dalgety, and Beath formed virtually one parish at this time, we must, in fairness, regard the censure, in the Minute which I have quoted, as, in substance, applicable to all of them. But it is natural to think that manners would become more corrupt where there was no preaching of the Word; and this was the case at Beath as well as Dalgety. It so happens that we have information of a very definite kind, in reference to Beath, prefixed to the Session Record of that parish. After stating that Beath was one of the most ancient parishes of Scotland, and noticing the meeting of the Protestant Lords there—to which I have lately referred —the narrative tells us how terribly the parish had suffered from the want of religious ordinances. Nothing could be more simple and touching than the words employed to describe its actual condition.

‘This kirk,’ it says, ‘in some sort myght be compared to Gideon’s fleece, which was dry when all the earth was watered. When all the congregations of Fife were planted, this poor kirk was neglected and overlooked, and lay desolate then fourteen yeares, after the Reformation eighty years—the poore parochiners being always like wandering sheep without a sheephard. And whereas they should have conveined to hear a pastoure preiche, the principall cause of the people’s meetinge wes to hear a pyper play, upon the Lord’s daye, which was the day of their profane mirth, not being in the workes of thair calling. Which was the cause that Sathan had a most fair name amongst them, stirring many of them up to dancing, playing at foot-ball, and excessive drinking, falling out and wounding one another, which wes the exercise of the younger sort; and the older sort played at gems [games], and the workis of thair calling, without any distinction of the weeke day from the day of the Lord. And thus they continued, as said is, the space of eighty years; this poor kirk, being always neglected, became a sheepe-hous in the night.’

The narrative then goes on to say that the Earl of Moray—the reference being to Alexander, sixth Earl, who was a great Royalist—and his mother-in-law, the Countess of Home, having both refused to aid in the building of a church, Mr. Alexander Colville of Blair became the friend of the neglected parishioners: ‘having no relation to doe for this poore people, but being only their neere neighbour, and beholding from his own window thair pyping and dancing, revelling and deboshing, their drinking and excesse, thair ryote everie Saboth-day, was moved by the Lord and mightilie stirred up to do something for that poore people.’ All honour to Alexander Colville!

The church was speedily built, and our old friend, John Row, from Carnock, after some hesitation connected with getting the consent of the minister of Aberdour, presided at the opening of it. I have made a vain search among the Acts of the Scottish Parliament for a notice of the decision come to, regarding the recommendation of the Synod of Fife. But, curiously enough, what cannot be found there is recorded in the Session Record of Carnock. Under date January 29th, 1643, there is a Minute informing us that Mr. Row made an explanation to his Session, that the reason why he had been so long absent from them was that the Presbytery had appointed him to go to Edinburgh, and attend the meetings of the Committee of Parliament, to whom the state of Aberdour had been referred. He tells them, further, that he attended this Committee many days and diets; and that, in the end, the Lords of the Committee disjoined the three parishes, and a decreet to that effect was given. This decreet, he further says, was extracted by Mr. Alexander Colville for the church of Beath, ‘quhilk he had laitlie biggit fra the cald groundand by the lairds of Fordell and Leuchat—John Henderson and Alexander Spittal—for the church of Dalgety, ‘quha were bissey to get this turn done.’ The decreet was entered in the Presbytery Record on February 1st, 1643.

There is another Minute, of date February 19th, 1643, which tells us that Mr. Row had preached a few days before at Dalgety, ‘quhair there had been no preaching many years before.’ From all this it is evident that Mr. Bruce had neglected the church of Dalgety, as well as that of Beath; although, it may be, not to the same extent. It was of course impossible for one minister to attend to the wants of three parishes ; but it would have been better had Mr. Bruce acted as John Row did, when he declined to undertake the pastoral charge of three congregations. It may interest you to be told that Beath, having got a church, speedily got a minister—Mr. Harry Smyth. Mr. Harry was a graduate of St. Andrews. He had laboured for a time in Ireland, and then had been settled in the second charge at Culross; and now that he had accepted a presentation to Beath, a considerable time elapsed ere he got a fixed stipend. Mr. Robert Bruce of Aberdour took special care not to surrender any of the emoluments, connected with the pastoral charge of Beath, which he could claim on parchment authority. For he got the Estates of Parliament in 1646 to ratify, approve, and confirm the letters of presentation granted by the King to him, in 1637, bearing that he was lawfully provided, during his lifetime, to the ministry of the kirks of Aberdour, Dalgety, and Beath, and to the ‘constant stipend, teinds, fruits, rents, emoluments, and duties thereof, with the manses and gleibs of the samen.’ Mr. Robert, it thus appears, was determined to keep the pay, although he did not do the work. For a considerable time the congregations in the neighbourhood contributed to Mr. Harry Smyth’s support; and when at length he got a fixed stipend, it did not come out of the pockets of the landed proprietors of the parish. A contribution was made throughout the bounds of the Synod of Fife; the Presbytery of St. Andrews giving £400, the Presbytery of Cupar £250, the Presbytery of Kirkcaldy £300, and the Presbytery of Dunfermline £250. And, in 1650, this sum of £1200 was mortified to procure an annual stipend for the minister of Beath. These details are so closely related to the subject of our investigations, and the present parochial arrangements of our neighbourhood, that to have passed them by would have been unpardonable.

Mr. John Row of Carnock has been so much mixed up with the history of our parish, in those old days, that I cannot part from him without telling you that, on account of his firm adherence to Presbyterian principles, he fell under the displeasure of Archbishop Spotswood, and was strictly confined to his parish—a common mode of punishment awarded to faithful ministers at that time. Intercession was made to the Archbishop for a relaxation of this severity, and at first failed ; but at this stage, Row’s old pupil, the Earl of Morton, proved himself a benefactor, and procured for the aged minister permission to leave his parish. Acting on this permission, he once and again visited Aberdour but he was not allowed to preach there. A curious incident is related of this Archbishop, which illustrates the kind of arguments that told powerfully on him. When John Row had fallen under his displeasure, a deputation, consisting of the historian’s son, John—then schoolmaster at Kirkcaldy, and afterwards Principal of King’s College, Aberdeen—William Rig of Athernie, and Richard Chrystie, a servant of Sir George Bruce’s of Carnock, waited on the Archbishop, to intercede with him on Row’s behalf.

‘After sundrie arguments,’ we are told, ‘Richard Chrystie came on with one weigh tie argument, saying, “Thir coales in your moores are verie evill, and my master hath verie many good coales; send up a veshell everie year to Culros, and I shal see her laden with good coales.” ’This argument, we are told, prevailed—like some others of a similar kind, which we have lately seen: and Mr. Row was merely confined to his parish, while others, charged with similar offences, were deposed.

Reverting to Mr. Robert Bruce, we learn incidentally, from the Session Records of Dalgety, that he was under suspension in the year 1646. The Minute is as follows:—

‘May 10, 1646.—No preaching the Friday before, because of the minister’s [Mr. John Row’s] sickness, neither this day because the minister, at the appointment of ane Committee of the Synod, holden at Aberdour, was at Aberdour, with some other brethren of the province, hearing Mr. Robert Bruce his declaration, after his suspension.’

In all likelihood, this suspension did not involve any charge of immorality against Mr. Bruce. About this time several ministers were censured by the Synod for justifying the lawfulness of treating with the Marquis of Montrose ; and this, probably, was Mr. Bruce’s fault. This view of the matter is all the more likely, inasmuch as it points in the direction of Mr. Bruce’s well-known leanings.

It does not appear that Mr. Bruce took any considerable share in the public business of the church; and he lived very much in the midst of his own people. With the exception of his flight, when Cromwell came to the neighbourhood— of which I shall have something to say in another connection —and a visit, of four months’ duration, in London, at the close of the year 1660, we cannot discover any lengthened absence from his post of duty. He seems to have been diligent in his labours as a preacher, within the bounds of the parish, and had a laudable care of the morality of the inhabitants. What the doctrines were which preponderated in his public teaching we cannot with certainty affirm. But the morality of the parish does not seem to have improved under his ministry; and, towards the close of it, there are signs of deterioration. There seems to have been a Reader employed at Aberdour as late as the year 1671. The likelihood is that he was also schoolmaster; for in that year a Minute of Session appears, to the effect that ‘ something was given to the Reader for instructing poor scholars.’ This functionary read the Scriptures to the people between the second and third bells on the Lord’s day.

Mr. Bruce evidently did not devote much of his time to the pastoral visitation of his parishioners ; but, when he did gird himself to the task, he performed wonderful exploits. So far as I can recollect, after going over the Minutes of the Kirk-Session, it is only once that he is exhibited as tackling on to this work, and, in that instance, he goes through the whole village in one day, and over the country districts the day following. But this matter is so curious that I must give you the precise words. The date is 12th July 1657, and the following is the Minute:—‘The minister desired the elders, that are in the toune, to attend him when he comes to their quarters, for visiting of the families; and that he will goe thorow the toune the morrow, and on Wednesday thorow the landward.’ Perhaps the reason why Mr. Bruce could, on this occasion, spend so much time as two whole days in the visitation of his parish, may have been that, in 1656, he got Mr. William Cochrane to be his assistant. At any rate, we get an interesting glimpse of the usages of the time, in the way we find Mr. William appointed to this office. He has evidently been preaching for Mr. Bruce for some time in the beginning of the year I have just named, for, on the 4th day of March, we are informed that ‘ several of the elders, in the face of the Session, said that the honest men and women within the parish were willing to contribute to Mr. William Cochrane, that he may abide with them to preach God’s Word, being well pleased with his doctrine, providing that the contribution were done in ane orderly way. The Session, hearing of it, wes well pleased with the motion, and desired the elders of every quarter to try narrowly their quarters, and sound the people what judgment they are of, and if they will continue in that good motion : and make their report against the next day, that the Session may have ane sure ground whereon to walk, before they engadge with the said Mr. William. The Session, in the meantime, has desired the minister to draw up ane paper betwixt the parochiners and Mr. William Cochrane, that what they will bestow upon the said Mr. William yearly, during his abode here, may be subscribed, and to be tyed no longer, and Mr. William to subscribe for the fulfilling of those things that shall be injoyned to him.’ There, you see, is the proof of the existence of business habits in Aberdour more than two hundred years ago! ‘And how,’ you will ask, ‘did the contribution make progress?’ I can tell you that too. A few weeks later, as the Minute informs us, ‘ the minister shew the Session the paper quhilk he had drawn up, betwixt the parochiners and Mr. William Cochrane, as he was afore desired to do by the Session, and red the same in their audience, wherewith the Session wes very well pleased. Severalls of the elders reported that they tried their quarters, what they were willing to do, as they were injoined by the Session, and said that all of them were well pleased with the motion and willing to contribute.’ This was felt to be all very well, as far as it went, but still there was nothing very definite about it. And so ‘the Session, desirous to know what the sum will amount to, before they ingadge with the said Mr. William, appoints the elders in the town to bring in their owne quarters with them, and what they will bestow yearly upon the said Mr. William (to be paid at the two terms Lammas and Candlemas), that a note may be taken thereof.’ But it becomes evident that, if the people are to do their duty, the elders must show them a good example. Mr. Bruce was too shrewd a man not to perceive this; and so we are told that ‘ the elders, being posed by the minister what they will bestow freely upon the said Mr. William yearly, that they may be good examples to others, these, who had resolved with their families, promised to give as follows Mr. James Stewart promised yearly to pay, for his family and Mrs. Duncan, his mother-in-law, ane double peace; Hugh Bailzie and his family, ane angell; James Hume promised not to be behind with Mr. James Stewart; William Hutsone and his family, five [markes; William Patone and his family, ane angell; William Logane and his family, five marks; John Tod and his family, ane angell. This they have unanimously condescended to give, and subscribe the same when they are required. The rest of the elders, not having resolved with their families, desired continuance till next day.’ And when next meeting of Session came round, ‘John Anderson of Dachie (Dalachy), in face of the Session, promised to give five marks yearly; Andrew Finlason, thirty shillings yearlie; and Andrew M‘Kie, three punds, Scotts money.’ This has all the appearance of hearty liberality. I am afraid, however, that either the Session did not perform as liberally as they had promised, or that their good example had not the influence on others which was expected; for in the month of October of the same year, ‘it is put upon the elders to go through their families, and desire them to prepare speedily for Mr. William Cochrane, seeing how he has gotten a call for Orkney, and so move them to pay to him the whole year, by reason of his indigency.’ But even this appeal seems to have been made in vain; for a week later ‘the Session thinks fit, seeing Master William Cochrane is going in all haste to Orkney, and cannot get in what is due to him by the parochiners, that he sould have fifty merks out of the box, to help him on his voyage to Orkney.’ This taking of fifty marks out of the poor’s box was probably of the nature of a loan; but we trust the laird of Kincavil and Pitkeny and Mitchelston gave an additional fifty marks out of his own pocket to Mr. William, which would make the voyage to Orkney all the more pleasant at that dull season of the year.

The honour of being assistant to Mr. Bruce fell next to the lot of Mr. William Smyth. And, as it appears to have been the fate of assistants at Aberdour at that time to be invited to Orkney, no doubt through the influence of the Earl of Morton, who was proprietor of these northern islands, the inevitable call came in due course to Mr. William Smyth. But Mr. William seems to have been of opinion that a bare competence in the south was to be preferred to abundance of dried fish and a living imprisonment in Orcadia. And so the minister breaks the matter in the gentlest way to the Kirk-Session, asking how they are pleased with Mr. William, and whether they would be willing to give ‘ the little thing ’ to him, which they were wont to give to Mr. William Cochrane. It turns out that the elders are very well pleased with Mr. Smyth, and they are not only willing to give him as much as they gave Mr. Cochrane, but are prepared to visit their several quarters, and do what they can to induce the parishioners to do the same. I fear, however, that if Mr. Smyth had in the meantime nothing more to depend on than what the elders or people were ready to give him, his shadow must have been becoming rapidly less; and he must, at his leisure moments, have been regretting his refusal of the call to Orkney. At a later meeting, Mr. Bruce intimates that he has relieved himself of all pecuniary responsibility in the matter, by giving Mr. Smyth ‘his leave;’ and he further declares that, if the people wish to retain the assistant, they must at once set about doing something for his maintenance. And the last notice of Mr. William that we have reveals him in the somewhat humiliating position of being present at a meeting of Session, trying to induce the elders, and through them the rest of the congregation, to support him. The Session are, as usual, full of promises ; and, as we hear nothing further of Mr. William Smyth, we may conclude either that they performed what they promised, or that another call came from Orkney, and found him in a responsive mood.

Mr. Bruce died in the month of February 1667, after a lengthened illness; and his widow died, in the parish of Burntisland, in October 1688.

The next minister of Aberdour was Mr. Thomas Litster. He was a student of the University of St. Andrews, from which he had his degree of Master of Arts. He acted for some time as schoolmaster at Leuchars, and was ordained minister at Auchtertool in 1665. He was translated to Aberdour in 1668. There is little that is noteworthy during Mr. Litster’s incumbency at Aberdour. The lengthened illness of Mr. Bruce, his predecessor, and the lamentable neglect of pastoral work during that period, entailed on Mr. Litster the disagreeable task of dealing with an immense number of cases of discipline, the nature of which, as well as their number, gives us a lamentable view of the morality of the parish at that time. He continued minister of Aberdour till 1689, when he died in the twenty-fourth year of his ministry. One of the few tombstones of any considerable age which have been preserved in the old churchyard is that of Mrs. Litster. Its preservation is probably due to its being built into the wall of the church—the gable of the chancel. It has on the top the letters T L- which stand for Mr. Thomas Litster, Minister. The epitaph runs as follows:—‘Heir lyes the corps of Margaret Lyndesay, spouse of Thomas Lyster, Minister at Aberdour, who, after she had lived with him directly 20 years, and brought forth and nursed on her breasts 11 children, died as she lived, in love with God and Man, July 11, 1688, and of her age 38.’ Of these children James became a captain in Colonel Hepburn’s regiment in Holland, and Hugh was a sailor in the Rising Sun of the Darien Expedition. Mr. Litster was succeeded by Mr. Robert Johnston, who was expelled from his charge at the Revolution Settlement, after which came a long and dreary vacancy of eight years, the sad results of which made themselves apparent during the incumbency of the next minister, Mr. David Cumming. But as it is not my purpose in this lecture to deal with the period subsequent to the Revolution Settlement, I leave what has to be said regarding Mr. Cumming to another occasion, and shall conclude this lecture with some notices of the public worship of the period with which we have been dealing.

Sabbath was, of course, the great day for public worship; but we should err much if we supposed it the only day on which the church of Aberdour, or that of Dalgety, in our neighbourhood, was thrown open. From the time when the records of our parish begin, and throughout the whole period of our present survey, there was public worship every Tuesday in the church of Aberdour. The custom of meeting in the church on a week-day for worship is not, then, any novelty, as some are ready to regard it. It existed more than two hundred years ago. It was only when more careless times came that it was given up. And great efforts were made to secure a good attendance of the parishioners. Thus, on August 20th, 1650, the minister is requested by the Kirk-Session to call attention to those ‘who attend not the kirk on week-days;’ and the elders are appointed to visit the houses of the people on weekdays as well as Sabbaths, to see that they attend public worship. Usually at the beginning of harvest the week-day services were given up till the close of that busy season, but they were regularly resumed after harvest-home. Indeed, when Mr. Bruce was doing what he could to induce the people to contribute to the support of Mr. William Smyth, it was held out as an inducement to them, that, if they did the thing handsomely, there would be public worship on Tuesdays and Fridays, in addition to the Sabbath services. The time during which the week-day service was suspended in the time of harvest was about two months. Thus, in 1670, the suspension of the Friday’s service was intimated on the 14th of August, and its resumption on the 10th of October. This gives us an interesting note of the time when harvest operations began that year, and the length of time during which they lasted.

As far back as the Session Record goes, there is notice of the church bell ringing three times on Sabbath mornings, and most evidently these various ringings were not intended merely to give the people a note of time. Immediately after the Reformation, it was, as we have already hinted, proved necessary to use all available means to enlighten the people in Bible knowledge—the Roman Catholic clergy having left them in deplorable ignorance. With a view to this, the church bell rang at eight o’clock on Sabbath morning, to call the people together to hear the Word read, which was usually done by the Reader, this service apparently lasting about an hour. At ten o’clock the bell rang again, to summon the people to the reading of the Word and prayer; and the regular service, for devotional exercises and the preaching of the Word by the minister, began immediately after the ringing of the third bell at eleven o’clock. In some districts the whole of these meetings were kept up for a considerable time. Wherever there is a notice of the employment of a Reader, we may be sure that one or both of these morning meetings were still held. Of course they were originated mainly to meet a special want of the time—the want of such an education as enabled the people to read the Word in their families at home; but the want of Bibles was another difficulty that had to be surmounted in this way. It was no easy matter for people to procure a copy of the Scriptures at that time; indeed the purchase of a pulpit Bible was sometimes a work that demanded careful calculation. Thus, in 1668, it is recorded that the Kirk-Session of Aberdour have ‘several times before been thinking how they may attain to a kirk Bible.’ To secure this end, they resolved on making a collection at the kirk-door, in basins, by Hugh Abercrombie, Robert Roch, and John M‘Kie. This collection amounted to Scots. Hugh Abercrombie was appointed to make the purchase, which probably entailed a voyage across the Firth; and having secured the desired kirk Bible for £18, 18s., the Session returned him ‘very many thanks for his diligence.’

Two of the elders invariably went through the village during the time of public worship, to take note of those who were unnecessarily absent from church, and to see that no unseemly conduct was indulged in. This visitation of the town continued during the greater part of the seventeenth century; and for a considerable time the visitors went their rounds on Fridays too, to mark those who were unnecessarily absent from the week-day service. Those who were found absent, or behaving themselves in a disorderly manner, were summoned before the Session. Here, for instance, is Henry Tyrie, summoned before his ‘betters,’ on August 21st, 1649. ‘The said Henry compears, and, being challenged for his not coming to the kirk, is found guiltie. Therefore, being his first fault, the Session has only admonished him not to do the like; and if ever he be found in the like, to be punished exam-plarly.’ Then, as an instance of the disorderly conduct taken notice of in these visitations, on December 16th, 1649, ‘John and William Hutson, in visiting the towne, fand that John Forfair and his wife wes drinking in James Orock’s.’

It would be interesting could we have a peep into the old church, and observe the aspect of the congregation. The behaviour of the people in church seems to have been, as a rule, of an exemplary kind, if we may judge from the infrequency of any notice to the contrary. A few such notices do appear. Thus, in June 1650, Robert Lauchtie, James Hoome, and John Mutray, were summoned before the Session for going out of the church during service, and were admonished not to do the like again. And John Baxter and William Stevenson were censured for going up and down the walk during Divine service. The preservation of order and decorum during public worship is demanded by politeness ; how much more then by a spirit of reverence! We may, however, be permitted to question the wisdom of the mode adopted for securing this end, as shown in the way James Alexander, William Hegy, William Craig, and Andrew Coosing, were dealt with in December 1652, for ‘making din in the church in the time of Divine service.’ These worthies were ordered to ‘sit down on their knees, and crave God mercie for their fault;’ and it was ordained further, that ‘if ever found in the like, they will be set in the jogges and banished the town.’ But even this, although it must jar with our ideas of what church discipline should be, was quite in keeping with the ordinary procedure of those old times.

A few notices of the Communion seasons, and the way in which they were observed in the parish, will, I am sure, be acceptable to you. From 1654 till 1676 the Communion seems to have been observed in Aberdour only once in two years. This was the rule; but, owing to the troubles of the period, and other causes, intervals of three years actually occurred. On one occasion—from 1665 to 1671, during the latter years of Mr Bruce’s ministry—a period of six years elapsed without any ministration of the ordinance. In those old days the Communion service, in our parish, was always continued over a second Sabbath—in most cases a consecutive one. The end contemplated in this arrangement, no doubt, was to allow the members of the congregation who were hindered from communicating on the first day to do so on the second. The change from this mode to one Communion Sabbath was effected in 1677. It was attempted the previous year, without success ; some secret influence being sufficient to command a second Communion Sabbath, after three weeks had intervened. There was no fixed time for'the Communion in those days. Sometimes it took place in January, more frequently in April, October, or July; less commonly in May or August. When speaking on this subject, I may say, by anticipation, that, during the first half of the eighteenth century, the ministration of the Lord’s Supper once every two years was still the rule. Not till 1763 did the yearly observance of the ordinance become the rule ; nor was it even then tied down to any fixed season of the year. The service of preparation on the Saturday before the Communion, and the service of thanksgiving on the afternoon or evening of the Communion Sabbath, were generally observed during the seventeenth century. These were the only services for which the legislation of the Church had made provision. The Church has never enacted the observance of Fast-days in connection with Communion seasons. The Thursday service does not seem to have been commonly observed till about the beginning of the seventeenth century; and it was only after the memorable Communion Monday at the Kirk of Shotts] that the service held on that day became at all common. The multiplication of week-day services, in connection with the observance of the Sacrament of the Supper, is out of keeping with the frequency of the Communion service, which is so desirable.

A custom was observed, in those days, in connection with Communion seasons, which we would now think very strange. On the Communion Sabbath a collection was made at the table, as well as at the doors of the church. This collection was for the poor of the parish. The custom is referred to in the Directory for Public Worship, when treating of the ministration of the Supper. ‘The collection for the poor,’ it says, ‘is so to be ordered that no part of the public worship be thereby hindered.’ We cannot help thinking that, when made at the Communion table, it must not only have hindered public worship, but have been liable to grave misapprehension. It is, therefore, well that it has passed away. There does not, however, appear to have been any marked disposition on the part of the people of Aberdour at that time, to wrong themselves by giving too much of their means away. For, in October 1659, I find the Session urging the minister to speak a word of reproof to the people about the smallness of the collections. This Mr. Bruce did with some degree of severity, assuring those who gave nothing ‘that if they did not amend, their names would be publicly read out!’ This was certainly sharp practice, and could not fail to be disagreeable to the nongivers, although we question much its wisdom and salutariness.

Great efforts were made by the minister and elders, before Communion seasons, to get such persons as were living at variance brought into terms of agreement. Sometimes, however, the mode adopted to secure this desirable end was what would now be thought very strange—the two elders appointed to deal with such cases repairing with their quarrelsome charge to a public-house apparently, and there getting them to ‘drink and shake hands’!

The practice at this time evidently was to admit to the Communion'table all, not grossly ignorant or immoral, who made a profession of Christianity ; and it was quite a common thing to summon before the Session those who, being members of the church, absented themselves from the Lord’s Table. Some misfortune had evidently befallen the Communion cups belonging to Aberdour. Perhaps they shared the fate of those owned by the parish of Dalgety, which were stolen, along with the money in the box, by Cromwell’s soldiers, at the battle of Inverkeithing. For several years it is regularly noted, in connection with Communion seasons, that there was paid, for the loan of Communion cups, twelve shillings. At length it is recorded that two Communion cups have been purchased, for 119 lb. Scots, with two basins that cost £10, 6s. 6d., and a mortcloth, the price of which was £63, 4s. 6d. Scots.

It is extremely interesting to mark the number and variety of the cases for which special collections were made for poor people, during the time of which we are speaking. I do not refer to the ordinary resident poor, but those who have become needy and distressed, through casualties and misfortunes, and sometimes have come from a great distance in quest of help. There is hardly a Minute of Session, in the neighbouring parish of Dalgety, at this period, in which there is not to be found some notice of money given to ‘ poor strangers.’ In Aberdour, too, this in all likelihood was the case 3 but, from the way in which the Minutes are kept, it does not so readily appear. An interesting lecture might be composed of these notices alone. Sometimes distressed people from Ireland are wandering about the country seeking relief—men and women who have escaped from the massacre, by which the Roman Catholics hoped to quench the Protestant cause in blood. There are also those who were made beggars and vagrants by the wild raids of Montrose. Men from Muckhart appear, who had been spoiled in this way 3 and women, whose husbands and children had been killed, implore aid. Many such were found at the doors of the churches in those suffering times; and wounded soldiers and persecuted Covenanters and part of the collection was generally given to them. Sometimes a whole tragedy is summed up in a single line, in connection with such cases. There was not, I suppose, a single collection for missionary purposes made throughout the Church in the seventeenth century. But many special collections, for humane and philanthropic objects, are noted in the Session Records of Aberdour and Dalgety—the one supplementing the other. Of these the following are specimens:—In 1654, John Brown and Archibald Hardie, in Inverkeithing, have had their houses burnt 3 and a collection, amounting to £8, 5s. 4d., is made for them. Lieut.-Colonel Andrew Leslie is in difficulties, and for his relief £5, 16s. 2d. is contributed. William Menzies has fallen into the hands of the Turks, and £7, 6s. 2d. is given towards his ransom. In 1655, James Tailor, in the West Mill, has ‘all his bestial smothered, by the falling of his byreand not only is a collection made for James’s relief, but a letter is written to the minister and bailzie’ of Burntisland, imploring aid. In 1657, some poor prisoners in ‘ Halyrudehouse’—debtors, no doubt, who had fled thither for asylum—get £11. In 1658, John Scott, in Burntisland, has ‘fallen from means,’ and gets £8. In 1662, William M‘Kie, merchant in Dumbarton, has £y, 15s. collected for him. In the same year, ‘a lady, recommended by the Bishop’—for the Church was again under Episcopal government—receives £4. In 1666, John Dick’s house and plenishing are burnt, and the sympathising parishioners contribute £14, 12s. iod. to aid him—the Session likewise recommending his case to the Presbytery. In 1675, John Gibson and John Reid, two sailors belonging to Inverkeithing, fall into the clutches of the Turks, and £45, 8s. 1s raised for their ransom and release. In the same year a collection is made ‘ to buy a horse for William Alexander, to keep him from begging.’ In 1677, the schoolmaster at Dalgety has the misfortune to have his house burned, and he too gets a collection; while the Harbour and Bridge of St. Andrews, the Bridge of Inverness, and I cannot stay to tell how many more public works, are helped. These collections were all made in Aberdour church, and, no doubt, also in the other churches of the neighbourhood. But here I must stop. I trust the statements made to-night will lead to a more intelligent acquaintance with the history of the neighbourhood ; and. as history is just a record of the experiences of the past, with a reference to the relation which these experiences have to one another and to their causes, it may be hoped that something will be found, in what has been laid before you, which is fitted to be profitable as well as interesting. Our lot has been cast in the midst of clearer light, and more peaceful scenes and higher privileges, than characterised those old times. Let us strive to avoid the blemishes of the past, and, if possible, surpass its excellencies.

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