Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

A History of the County of Renfrew from the Earliest Times
Chapter XVI.—The Presbytery

When the reformed religion was formally established in 1560, Protestant ministers were scarce. According to one authority, there were not above twelve, but the accounts vary. Some of those who were available were distributed among the towns, while the rest were appointed, along with certain laymen, to act as superintendents. John Knox was appointed to serve at Edinburgh, Christopher Goodman at St. Andrews, Adam Heriot at Aberdeen, John Row at Perth, William Christeson at Dundee, David Fergusson at Dunfermline, Paul Methven at Jedburgh, and Mr. David Lindsay at Leith. In the towns of the west, with one exception, no minister was appointed. Mr. John Willock4 was made superintendent of the Church, first at Glasgow and subsequently of the district. Whether he took in hand the affairs of the Church in Renfrewshire, there is nothing to show.

At Paisley, Archbishop Hamilton, as we have seen, was celebrating mass as late as 1562. Then, and for some time after, the town was looked upon as a “ nest of papistry,” and was one of the places where the church doors were “steikit ” against the preachers of the new doctrine. Whether the town of Renfrew leaned to the new faith is uncertain. Probably it did ; for its parson, Mr. Andrew Hay, was zealous enough to be. accused of being concerned in the murder of David Rizzio.

At the meeting of the General Assembly on Christmas day, 1563, a complaint was lodged against Willock, “ that he did not his endeavour to procure the extirpation of idolatrie in his bounds.” This may have arisen partly out of the doings of Hamilton at Paisley, and the fact that Willock blames the Duke as well as the Earl of Cassillis may show that his accusers had their eye upon Renfrewshire. However, in June, 1564, “Mr. George Hay, minister to the Secreit Counsall, was appointed to visite the kirks of Renfrew, and to remane there twentie dayis,” but of the result of his visit nothing is known.

In other parts of the country, the rural parishes were, as a rule, destitute of ministers, and were left to readers and exhorters and the superintendent. This was pretty much the case in Renfrewshire. There were few ministers in the county. At Renfrew, as already noted, was Mr. Andrew Hay; at Inchinnan was Sir Bernard Peblis ; and at Killallan, Mr. Robert Maxwell. All the rest of the vicars appear to have left their charges rather than change their faith, and many of them carried their stipends with them. Maxwell of Killallan was deposed, and in 1573 was succeeded by Robert Cuik, who became minister of Kilbarchan, in 1576, and of Kilmacolm, in 1578. Where there were no ministers, readers were appointed, though at first the supply of even these was short. Many of them had been priests. Among the earliest appointed in Renfrewshire were Adam Watson at Kilbarchan ; Robert Maxwell at Kilmacolm; Ninian Semple at Lochwinnoch ; and Patrick Wodrow at Eaglesham. The duty of the reader was to read the prayers from the prayer book and a portion of Scripture. The exhorter, besides doing the work of the reader, exhorted. Neither the reader nor the exhorter could marry or dispense the Sacraments. These offices could be discharged only by ministers. To the superintendents was assigned the task of wiping out every trace of the old religion in their districts. In the town of Paisley there was no minister or reader until the year 1572, when Patrick Constant or Adamson, who afterwards, on the death of Douglas, became Archbishop of St. Andrews, was appointed.

For some time, owing partly to the paucity of ministers and partly to the policy of the Regent Morton, one minister had often to take charge of more than one parish. In 1574 the minister of Paisley had charge of the four parishes of Paisley, Neilston, Kilbarchan, and Mearns. In the same year James Craw was in charge of the parishes of Kilmacolm and Lochwinnoch, and in 1576 Robert Cuik was ministering not only to his own parishioners in the parish of Kilbarchan, but to those also of the parishes of Houston and Killallan. This state of matters continued for some years, but as the ministers multiplied, the vacant charges were filled up. In many places, particularly in towns, as in Paisley, the services of the reader were retained— the reader in such cases being usually the schoolmaster of the town or parish.

After Mr. Willock resigned the superintendentship of the west, and returned to his own “rowme” at Loughborough, praising God, Mr. Andrew Hay, the parson of Renfrew, was appointed to succeed him as superintendent of the west. The district over which he was placed included Clydesdale, Renfrew, and the Lennox. As few or no complaints were made against him, it may be assumed that his former zeal had not deserted him, and that he discharged his duties to the satisfaction of the brethren. His office was no sinecure. The times were troublous and the old religion was by no means suppressed.

In Renfrewshire the Abbey of Paisley continued to be the centre of contention. Alexander Earl of Glencairn was still the leader of the Protestant party in the county, and stood high in the esteem of the General Assembly of the Kirk.

The Commendator of Paisley, Lord Claud Hamilton, after remaining some time in England in the neighbourhood of the Queen, was allowed to leave that country, and returning to Scotland, took part in the surprise of Stirling in September, 1571, where he is said to have given orders for the shooting of the Regent Lennox. In the following year he was in the neighbourhood of Paisley, and as Lord Semple was, upon July 10, “passing furth to have reft sum puir tennentis, Lord Claud set on him, chaissit him bak, slew 42 of his souldiors, tuik 15 of thame as prisoneris, and thaireftir layit men about the hous sa lang, till a grit power was cum forth of another pairt to persewe the Lord Semple.”

On February 23 in the following year, the Pacification of Perth brought a short-lived peace to the country, and restored Lord Claud to his possessions, his forfeiture being recalled. Lord Semple, who was directed to restore to him his estates, refused. The Abbey was therefore seized in the King’s name by the Earl of Argyll, who gave Lord Semple six days in which “to transport his geir.”

On August 1, 1574, Lord Claud married Margaret, only daughter of Lord Seton, “at Niddrie with great triumph,” and took up his abode in the Abbey of Paisley; but was allowed to remain in peace only a short time. Through the influence of Morton he was again forfeited, and a commission was issued to “ search for and administer justice to him.” The Abbey was besieged again in 1579, and was surrendered to the Master of Glencairn, but the “ Abbot,” it was found, had conveyed himself quietly to “ sic pairt as no man knawis.”

After this the monastery passed from holder to holder with a rapidity characteristic of the insecurity and anarchy of the times.

Immediately after Lord Claud’s forfeiture, a lease of the temporalities of the Abbey was given to Lord Cathcart, Master of the King’s Household. In the same year they appear to have been transferred to John Earl of Mar, who appointed his nephew, William Erskine, parson of Campsie, his chamberlain. Anyhow, on September 24, 1579, Erskine complained, as chamberlain of the Abbey of Paisley, to the Privy Council that he had been interfered with by Andrew Master of Semple in the execution of his office and in the collection of the dues of the tenants, and the Council ordered that he should be allowed to receive all the duties unpaid or to be paid until such time as Lord Semple established his claim to be infeft in the lands to the satisfaction of the Lord Ordinary. Two months later, November 20, 1579, the King, with the consent of his Council, appointed Erskine Commendator of Paisley, and

conveyed to him for his lifetime the whole of its lands and revenues ; but in consequence of the part he took in the seizure of Stirling by the Earls of Angus and Mar, in 1584, he was forfeited and banished. Subsequently he was relieved of his disabilities, allowed to return home, and appointed Archbishop of Glasgow. The Presbytery admitted him, but the General Assembly, on June 20, 1587, held his admission to be illegal, and ordered it to be annulled.

In April, 1585, Lord Claud, who for some time had been a fugitive in England, returned to Scotland, whence he was at once ordered by the King to pass into France and forbidden to return to England, Ireland, or Scotland. Later on in the same year, however, he was in Paisley, and so increased in favour with the King, that, on July 29, 1587, he was restored by Act of Parliament to his Commendatorship and former possessions, including the monks’ thirds, with the title of Lord Paisley and a seat in Parliament. His Spanish tendencies were known, but abandoning politics after the death of Mary Stuart, to whose cause he adhered to the last, he settled down in the Place of Paisley, and for the rest of his life occupied himself chiefly with the management of his estates and the fostering of the burgh of Paisley.

Presbyteries were not set up till the year 1581. The form of Church government hitherto prevailing since 1560 was a sort of modified episcopacy. An attempt to set up a form of Church polity which was strictly episcopal was made during the regency of Lennox, but on the return of Mr. Andrew Melville from Geneva, the “ wicked Hierarchy ” was condemned and set aside. Renfrewshire was at first included within the Presbytery of Glasgow, but in the year 1590 all the parishes in the county, with the exception of two, were formed into the Presbytery of Paisley. The two exceptions were the parishes of Eaglesham and Cathcart, which remained in the Presbytery of Glasgow.

Unfortunately, the extant records of the Presbytery of Paisley do not go further back than September 16, 1602, so that during the first twelve years of the existence of the Presbytery we are without their guidance, but from the little evidence which can be gathered elsewhere, the brethren appear to have found plenty to do.

Mr. Andrew Hay, the parson of Renfrew, who under the episcopal scheme had been scheduled for the deanery of Glasgow, continued to be superintendent of the west. Mr. Patrick Adamson, through the favour of Morton, became Archbishop of St. Andrews, and consequently one of “ My Lord’s bishops.” He was succeeded by Mr. Andrew Polwarth, who. after an incumbency of little more than two years, went to Glasgow to be sub-dean. In 1578 he was succeeded by Thomas Smeaton, a man of rare virtue and great scholarship, who, on the translation of Melville to St. Andrews in 1580, succeeded him as Principal of the University of Glasgow.

None of the above-mentioned ministers appear to have met with much success in Paisley. Both in the town and in the county the old religion was still openly favoured, and at Paisley the opposition to the ministers and their doctrine was general.

Adamson was not liked either by the people or by his brethren. Appointed Commissioner for Galloway, he owned, when examined, that “ he had not used that diligence which lyeth to the full execution of his office, because no stipend was appointed for the same.” When reporting this, Calderwood adds the contemptuous remark :—“ This man could not worke without wages.” During his incumbency a priest named Sir Thomas Robeson, at one time schoolmaster of Paisley, it is said, was put to death in Glasgow for saying mass. In 1574 Mr. Andrew Hay found so little encouragement in his attempts to suppress the old religion, and to further the new, in the district

over which he was placed, that he resigned his commission as Commissioner of Clydesdale, Renfrew, and the Lennox, into the hands of the Assembly, and prayed the Assembly “ to provide some qualified zealous person in his place, that the countrey grow not to all kind of insolence and dissolution.”

Because of the opposition he met with, Mr. Andrew Polwarth was fain to be set free from his charge in Paisley, and at the tenth session of the Assembly in 1577, “he was discernit to be frie and at libertie fra the Kirk at Paislay, that he may serve uther quhere it pleases God to call him, because of the contempt of discipline, thair manifest vyses, minacing and boasting [threatening] of him doing his duetie, his labours cannot be profitable to them.”

Mr. Smeaton, who succeeded Mr. Polwarth, had a rude experience of this “boasting.” While “diligently occupied in examining and instructing the people for the Sacrament, of Christ’s Body and Blood,” on May 2, 1579, one Henry Houston, who, in the preceding June, had been excommunicated by order of the Assembly at Glasgow for heresy, broke into the place where he was engaged, and “ did what lay in him to draw away the simple sort from the doctrine of salvation, plainly dissuading them to give any credit, and in a great rage oftentimes repeating that the said Master Thomas and all other heretics should be hanged before he renounce the mass or any part of papistry, with sundry other threatening speeches.” About July 15 in the same year, another outrage was perpetrated, but of a different kind. As William Cunningham, the reformed minister of Lochwinnoch, who was “lamyt of ane leg,” was riding in the town of Paisley, “ upon ane meir,” the mare, “ be sum eivill treatment chancit to de.” Whereupon Robert Alexander, William Mudy, and John Wilson, three inhabitants of Paisley, who are described in the complaint made by Andrew Hay, Melville, and Smeaton, as “ ennymeis to all sic as professis the trew religion,” “come, with aill and uther provisioun, and pourit drink in the meiris mouth, and thaireftir dansit and sang the saule mass and dairgie for the ministeris deid meir, as they callit it,” all to the contempt of “ sic as fearis God.” The culprits denied the charge, but the Privy Council found them guilty, and ordained them to “ be punished in their persons and goods at the will of our Sovereign Lord.”

The time was coming, however, when to make open profession of the tenets of the old Church, or even to hold them in secret, was to be dangerous. Mr. Andro Knox, who followed Smeaton as minister of Paisley, was a different man from his gentle predecessor. His zeal against Catholics was fanatical, and his success in discovering them had commended him not only to the brethren, but also to the King and Privy Council. He belonged to the Knoxes of Ranfurlie in Kilbarchan, and for some time had been minister at Lochwinnoch. His appointment to Paisley seems to have been made in 1585, or shortly before the time when Lord Claud Hamilton finally returned.

The first indication of his activity in his new charge is probably to be found in the “ greeves ” or complaints given in to the King by the General Assembly in February, 1588. Among the “greeves” is the complaint that the “Abbot of Paisley ” and Robert Aldjo, burgess of Paisley, were receivers of Jesuites, and that the former “ since his last coming into Scotland refuseth to subscribe and communicat.” It would be doing an injustice almost to Mr. Knox’s zeal not to suppose that this “ greeve ” was made at his instance. “ Stern Claud,” however, stood high in the favour of the King, and was not the sort of man to be rashly meddled with, and his presence and influence in Paisley may have had a restraining influence upon the minister’s zeal, at least in the town of Paisley and county of Renfrew. Anyhow, we hear no more of his doings in the county till perhaps the year 1596, when he may have had some hand in inducing the magistrates of Paisley to enforce the Act against absentees from Church.

But long before this, before even the year 1592 was ended, Mr. Knox had obtained a fame which was much more than local ; the whole country was talking of his doings. So successful had he been in his favourite occupation of detecting Catholics, that he had obtained a commission from the King, empowering certain noblemen and barons and himself and any others “ whom he thought meitest to imploy,” to seek and apprehend “ all excommunicat papists, Jesuits, seminarie priestis, and suspect trafficquaris with the King of Spayne and utheris foreynaris to the subversioun of Goddis trew religioun.”

Goaded on by the fierce persecution to which they were subjected, the Catholics had begun to intrigue for the overthrow of the Government, and were already negotiating with Philip II. of Spain in the hope that with foreign assistance they might be enabled to obtain relief from the oppression of their tormentors. Suspicion was everywhere ; Philip was supposed to be making vast preparations in order to avenge the disaster that had befallen his Armada, and an attempt on the part of the Spaniards to land troops upon the coast was daily expected. One of the conspirators was Mr. George Ker, a Doctor of Laws, and brother of the Abbot of Newbattle, whom the Presbytery of Haddington had recently excommunicated for Popery. Hearing that Ker was in the neighbourhood of Paisley, and of his intended Spanish mission, Knox, accompanied by some students from Glasgow and other friends, traced him to Glasgow and thence down the Clyde, where he managed to lay hands upon him in Fairlie Road, by the Isles of Cumbrae, just as he was about to sail. His chests were searched, but no compromising papers were found. At last in the sleeves of a sailor’s shirt were discovei’ed, along with other documents, the famous Spanish Blanks. Ker was immediately seized, and conveyed by Lord Ross of Hawkhead as far as Calder, but such was “ the dread entertained of the power which might lie behind this solitary man and his packet of Letters, that he was detained in Calder until the magistrates of Edinburgh summoned up courage to go out on Sunday evening (New Year’s Eve, 1592) with 60 horse and 200 footmen to convey him to the Tolbooth.” For this notable capture Knox received the thanks of the Privy Council.

Before five years more had passed, Mr. Knox had done another notable deed, which, though quite as successful, was not quite so happy in its results, at least to himself. Hugh Barclay of Ladyland, who had already been imprisoned for his religion, but having escaped, had passed to Spain and there “ trafficqued and had intelligence with the ennemyis of the trew religion,” was known to be hovering about the Clyde with the intention of seizing Ailsa Craig, and of then, after fortifying and provisioning it, holding it for the King of Spain. Knox, as soon as he heard of this, acting under the commission referred to above, “ imployit himselff ” and a number of his friends to prevent the seizure. When Barclay arrived, he found Knox and his friends already in possession of the Craig. When called upon to surrender, Barclay drew his sword, and being hard pressed in the fight, stepped backward, and falling into the sea was drowned. His friends charged Knox with his death, and resolved to make it the occasion of a deadly feud. It was now Knox’s turn to be alarmed, and in his anxiety he appealed to the King in Council, who, on June 8, 1597, justified what he had done, declared his execution of his commission in the manner described, to be “ loyal and good service done to His Majesty and country,” forbade any to molest him, and charged all magistrates and others in office to assist in protecting him.

These successes acting upon a mind naturally overbearing and stuffed full with spiritual pride, did not in the least abate Mr. Knox’s fanatical zeal or contribute to the pleasure of living in Paisley or in the county, or even to the pleasantness of Mr. Knox’s own days. He was disliked in Paisley, and must have been feared in the county. From his watchful and suspicious eye no one was safe. In 1598 Lord Claud Hamilton retired from public life, and gave the management of his burgh and of his property into the hands of his son, the first Earl of Abercorn, who, unlike his father, was a staunch Protestant, and on more than one occasion sat as a member of the General Assembly. Under him Mr. Knox appears to have had greater freedom. At any rate, he used more.

On May 18, 1599, John Maxwell of Stanely brought an action against him before the bailies of Paisley for encroaching upon his property on the south side of the High Street, and was successful in his suit. Shortly before the Presbytery Records open, Knox was sued before the Privy Council by Mr. John Gilchrist for having dismissed him without warrant of the Kirk “ fra his service and cure ” in the Kirk of Paisley as reader, and for having induced the bailies to displace him “ fra teiching of thair scule,” and the Presbytery to convict him on the insufficient “ depositionis and testimonies of wemen husies and bairdis” of having committed adultery with Margaret Ralston, daughter of the Laird of Ralston, and wife of John Vaus, who continues to esteem Margaret “ ane honest and faithful wyfe,” and “ will not concur in any sic persute aganis her, bot hes altogidder dissented thairfra and is verie hiechlie commovit with the said Maister Andro . . . for sclandering of his said wyff.” The Presbytery and bailies appear to have been ashamed of the business; for when the case was called, neither Mr. Andro nor any of the Presbytery nor either of the bailies answered, and all were forbidden to take any further proceedings against Gilchrist, till he had been tried before the civil courts.

When the extant Records of the Presbytery at length open, September 16, 1602, that reverend body is disclosed fully occupied with its manifold duties. As much will have to be said about it in the sequel, it will be as well to pause for a moment, in order to describe its constitution and method of procedure.

As already indicated, it consisted of the ministers of the parishes in the county, with the exception of those of Cathcart and Eaglesham. It was presided over by a moderator and met about once a month, or once a fortnight, apparently according to the pressure of business or the convenience of the members. Before the actual business of the day was entered upon, certain “ preliminaries ” were gone through, which must have been long and wearisome. First, one of the brethren engaged in prayer ; next, another brother gave an exercise upon a selected portion of Scripture ; then, a third brother gave an “ eik ” or “ additions.” This was followed by an essay by another of the brethren on some controverted point of theology or church polity. Then followed criticisms and discussions ; the object of all being to test the soundness and gifts of the brethren engaged. After these preliminaries had been gone through, similar preliminaries were fixed for the following meeting, and then came the actual business of the Court. The first business was usually to hear and consider the reports of diligence by the members to whom any duty had been assigned at previous meetings, together with “complaints” or reports concerning fresh delinquents. The cases which came before the Court were various, such as suspicion of Popery, absence from communion or from church, “adherence,” irregular marriages, observance of Yule or other “superstitious days,” adultery, fornication, banning and swearing, keeping or attending dancing greens. The accused were ordered to be summoned to appear before the Court by the minister of the parish in which they lived, by his substitute, or by the Presbytery officer. On refusing to appear, they were summoned, from the pulpit of their parish church for the first, second, and third time ; if they still refused to appear, they were admonished the first, second, and third time; if this did not break down their obduracy, they were prayed for the first, second, and third time ; and if after this they still failed to appear, steps were taken to excommunicate them—a sentence to which the General Assembly sometimes added banishment.

The Presbytery had one virtue, and that was impartiality. They had also zeal and perseverance ; but zeal and perseverance, when not according to knowledge are hardly virtues, they are sometimes vices. It may be doubted, indeed, whether the impartiality of the Presbytery was always wise or entitled to be regarded as a virtue. However, the members of the Presbytery, when assembled as a Court, appear to have been thoroughly impartial in this : they showed no respect unto persons. High and low, rich and poor were treated in the same way and had the same law meted out to them without fear or favour. When once a case was taken up by this reverend Court, it was never let go until it was brought to a final issue. The accused might refuse to attend, and then at the last moment go into voluntary exile, in order to avoid the dread sentence of excommunication, but the case was simply “ continued,” and the moment he was known to have returned, either to the parish or to the county, the case against him was revived. In this way a process against an individual might be spread, and often was spread, over a number of years. Toleration, or anything of that sort, was as little thought of as compromise. The Presbytery must have their way in every matter down to the smallest detail, and that way was often harsh, intolerant, fanatical. At the same time, it requires to be borne in mind that toleration was a virtue then unknown ; and further, that at this time the profession of the Catholic faith was supposed, by all who were not Catholics themselves, to be dangerous to the State, and that not only the clergy, but also all who were engaged in the government of the country, from the King downwards, held, or professed to hold, the faith of Rome in abhorrence, and saw, or professed to see, in every one who adhered to or favoured it, an agent who, if not already engaged in actually plotting against the King and country, was ready at any moment to do so.

As might be expected, the cases which came most frequently before the Court and occupied the greater part of its time and attention, were those in which the accused were charged with nonconformity either in faith or in practice, or in both, to the established religion. Attendance at church, and especially at the Communion, appears to have been regarded as the test of orthodoxy, and absence therefrom as a sure sign of Popish leanings. And even when there was no suspicion of these, absence from Communion or kirk was often severely punished.

Singularly enough, the first case recorded in the extant Minute Books of the Presbytery is one in which John Maxwell of Stanely, who, as we saw above, raised an action against Mr. Andro Knox, his minister, for encroaching upon his property on the south side of the High Street of Paisley, is denounced for refusing “ to communicate the Holy Supper of Our Lord Jesus Christ with the remanent his parocbiners within his paroche Kirk of Paisley.” His accuser, there can be little doubt, was his minister, Mr. Andro Knox, to whom he appears to have given as his excuse that “he came there” [i.e. to the church] “ to that same effect the day of the celebration of the said Holy Supper,” but “had been stayit be the sicht of som of his unfriendis present at the holy actioun.” When laid before the Presbytery, this excuse was set aside as not relevant, and Knox was ordained to summon his parishioner before the Presbytery, on September 30, 1602, for “receiving of injunctions to remove the sclander.” He did not compear before the Court until October 14, when he “ confessed himself penitent for the giving of the occasion of the sklander ”

laid to his charge. Thereupon “ the brethren,” so runs the record, “hes ordanit that in respect the said John Maxwell of-Stainlie alledgit that he micht not convenientlie resort to his paroche Kirk of Paisley for sindrie occa-siones of deidly feud, he find caution, under the pane of five hundredth merkis money, that he and his family sail keip ordinarilie the paroch Kirk of Renfrew and subject themselfis to the discipline of the Kirk thair and sail compear personalie in the Kirk of Paslay upon Sonday next in tyme of sermont and confess himself penitent for not communicating with his brethren and neicht-boures, and that his abstinence thairfra proceedit of no scrupill in Religion, bot of laik of dewe preparation, the quhilk he salbe oblist under the penaltie aforesad to amend be his communicatting at the Holy Table of the Lord apon the first occasioun that the samin salbe ministrat within ony Kirk of the Pres-byterie of Paslay, dew intimation being made to him thairof be Mr. John Hay, for the observing of the quhilk promisses Thomas Inglis, burgess of Paslay, became caution and seuertie under the pane above written.”

At first sight the penalty inflicted appears to be absurdly heavy, but there was evidently a suspicion of Popish leanings. That Maxwell had any such leanings is not clear ; but the keen scent of Mr. Knox, quickened by the recollection of Maxwell’s action against him before the bailies, may have discovered some, and, led by him, the Presbytery may have resolved to lay their hand heavily upon the laird as a terror to evil doers and misbelievers.

The Countess of Glencairn’s case had been in hand for some time when the Presbytery books open. The following is the earliest notice of it :— “ 10th February, 1603. Anent the grief proposit by Mr. Daniel Cuningham, minister at Kilmacolme, touching the detaining of my Lord Marquis Hamilton, my Lord Erie of Glencairne and other families, within the Place of Finlaston upon the Lord His day, Ira resorting to their ordinal’ paroche Kirk of Kilmacolme, and that by the domestick preaching of Mr. Patrick Walkinshaw and Mr. Luke Stirling, being absent fra their kirks in the compauie forsaid for the time : The brethren for remeid of the quhilk offence, have ordainit the said grief to be proponit to the next Synodall Assembly, and the judgment of the brethren there to be receavit thereanent.”

The first of the noblemen mentioned in the “grief” was the second Marquess of Hamilton, who succeeded his father in 1604, and his uncle, the Earl of Arran, in 1610. The second was James, the seventh Earl of Glencairn, one of the Commissioners nominated by Parliament in 1604 for the projected union with England. He appears to have submitted to the Presbytery. Not so his Countess, Mariot or Margaret, second daughter of Sir Colin Campbell of Glenurchy, who had apparently Popish tendencies. Mr. Patrick Walkinshaw and Mr. Luke Stirling were evidently priests, and the “domestick preaching” at which they officiated in Finlayston Castle, was in all likelihood a private mass. At any rate, the Presbytery had a suspicion of these things, and resolved to ascertain whether they were so.

Under February 24, 1603, the following entry occurs in the Books of the Presbytery : “ For so mekill as Mr. David Cuningham delaited to the brethren the sklander and evill example given by the continuale absence and byding fra the Kirk of the Countess of Glencairne, to the evill example of the haill parochin quhair sche dwells, notwithstanding of her manifauld promisis mad to divers of the Commissioners of Presbytery send to her to desire her to have removit the said sklander, quhilk promisis sche had no wayes as yet begun to keip, the Brethren yet, as before, hes direct thare Commissionaris, viz., Mr. Pat. Stirling and Mr. W. Brisbane to travell with her Ladischip and press her be reasonis and the authoritie of God His Word and His Kirk to remove the said sklander be repareing Sondalie [i.e., every Sunday] to her paroche Kirk forsaid, and, in case sche be found contumax, they ordane the saidis Commissionaris to receave ane summonds of thare Clerk and to summone the said Ladie tharewith to compere before the brethren judiciallie the twentie four of this instant, to give the confession of her faithe.”

Her ladyship w’as found to be “ contumax.” The Synod met, April 11, 1603, and three days later we read in the Presbytery’s Minutes : “ Mr. Pat. Hamilton and George Maxwell, Commissionaris direct be the Synodall Assemble to my Ladie Glencairn, to try the cause of her not heiring the Word and communicating at her ordinarie paroche Kirk of Kilmacolme, and to sie Mr. Patrick Walkinschaw and Luk Stirling acknowledge thare offence in preiching in ane privat hous in the Place of Finlaston, upon the Lord His day, the ordinar pastor being preiching at the paroche Kirk thareof: Reportit that the said Ladie allegit her to be unable to travell, althocht they saw no signes thareof, and that she had promest to heir the Word in her ordinarie paroche Kirk so soone as helthe of bodie suld permit and to communicat as occasion suld be offerit. For tryell quharof all furder process is ordanit to be con-tinuit aganes her for the space of ane monthe : as lykwayis reportit that the saids Messrs. Patrick Walkinschaw and Luk Stirling did nothing anent thare acknowledging of thare oftence forsaid, quhilk is ordanit to be reportit to the next Synod.”

The one month allowed to her ladyship “ for tryall ” was somehow extended to eleven, nothing being heard of her case till March 15, 1604, when the Brethren,” it is said, “ having used all kind of diligence according to the Act of last Synod, baith be commisionaris and utber wayes, at the Ilicht Noble Ladie, Dame Margaret Cambell, Countess of Glencairne sould have reparit to the Kirk of Kilmacolm, her ordinarie Kirk, for the heiring of the Word of God and communion with the Bodie and Blude of the Lord Jesus, and yit to remayne obstinat and disobedient, and as lykwayis understanding that the said Ilicht Noble and Potent Ladie will not compeir in Paslay befoir thame : Therefor they . . . ordenit . . . the Moderator to pas to the Moderator and Clerk of the Synodall Assemblie and purchass summones to summond the said Noble Ladie befoir the nixt Synodall Assemblie to be hauldin at Glasgow the xxviij day of Marche, to heir hirself decernit to have done wrong in her continuall absenting hirself fra the reverent heiring of the Word and resort of the Sacramentis, as said is, at the Kirk of Kilmacom for ten years bygane or therby, and to be ordenit in all tyme cuming to resort to the said Kirk, that be hir example the meiner sort may not longer be mooved to contemn the Word of God.” What happened after this is not known. Her ladyship died in 1610, seven years after the Assembly referred to. Had the Presbytery succeeded with her, some entry to that effect would have been made in the records; but the probability is that they failed.

The case of the Dowager Lady Duchal, a daughter of the Knoxes of Ran-furlie and second wife of John Porterfield, who had purchased Duchal from Lord Lyle, was still more protracted. On the death of her husband, Lady Duchal removed to her dower house near Renfrew, the original seat of the Porterfields. Here she came under the spiritual jurisdiction of Mr. John Hay, the parson of Renfrew. Her case first appears in the Records under date March 10, 1603, but from the terms in which it is referred to by Mr. Hay, it is evident that it had been going on for some time. At the date mentioned, Mr. Hay, it is said, reported that “ Jean Knox, Lady Duchal, remaynes contumax, refusing to hear the word of God preichit in the Kirk of Renfrew or to com-municat the Holy Sacrament.” For some reason her case was allowed to drop, and nothing is heard of it for more than a year. But after its revival by Mr. Hay, on May 24, 1604, she was summoned and admonished and prayed for, but in vain, until after she had been prayed for the third time, on August 9, when for some reason she gave in and conformed, but only for a season. On May 2, 1605, Mr. John Hay again “ delaitet the auld Lady Duchall for not communicating,” and was ordered to summon her to appear the next Presbytery day. Not appearing as directed, she was summoned the second and third time, but without effect. On July 26, she was ordered to be prayed for the first time, and on August 1 the old lady appeared before the Presbytery, and “ being demandit upon what occasion she had refusit to communicate the Bodie of Jesus Christ,” she boldly answered “ that it was for plane malice that she had conceived in her heart against her pastor, Mr. John Hay, for sindrie wrong she allegit done by him to her, whilk she tuk in hand to give in befoir the 8th instant.” The Presbytery accepted her proposal, and fixed the day named for hearing the case, and ordered her to attend. But when the day came she was absent, and the process of praying for her was ordained to be resumed. On September 5, when the third prayer was appointed, the Moderator and Mr. Gabriel Maxwell were directed “ to confer with her, to see if they can bring her to any conformitie.” Whether they conferred with her is unknown. Her name suddenly vanishes from the Records. The old lady was about ninety years of age, and the probability is that she found relief from her spiritual tormentors in death.

Many others were at this time cited before the Presbytery for nonattendance at church and Communion. Among them were John Knox of Ranfurlie, the younger Muir of Rowallan, William Wallace of Johnstone, and William Semple of Brintshiels. Knox gave as his excuse for not attending the Sacrament that the “ sclander he lay under for the slaughter of his father’s brother was not yet removed.” Semple’s excuse was that he was lying under a charge of adultery. Strange as it may seem, the Presbytery, after “advys-ing ” upon their cases, directed both Knox and Semple “ to hold themselves ready to communicate within the Kirk of Houston at the next occasion as they shall be advertised thereto by the ordinary pastor.” Knox and Semple may have been penitent and may have satisfied the Church for their offences, but nothing is said in the record on either point. There is no sign that the record is incomplete. Still, it is scarcely possible that the brethren could regard an adulterer and a murderer unshriven of their sins as fit and proper persons to be admitted to the most solemn action in which the Church engages, or to suppose that they attributed to the mere act of communicating the same power to cover a multitude of sins as is assigned to charity. The only plausible explanation of their decision is that they had no desire to increase the apparent number of Papists by excluding Knox and Semple from the Communion, and that rather than do so, they compelled them, unshriven as they were, to attend it.

In 1605, the number of those who refused to communicate appears to have increased. At any rate, the Presbytery resolved to take more strenuous measures with them. On June 13, a resolution was passed directing every minister to give in the names of such of his parishioners as “ had not offerit.

'“2nd August, 1604:—The quhilk day the brethren being informit of the filthie fact of murther committit be the laird of Ramfurlie in slaying of his father brother : Therefore the brethren directed Mr. Daniel Cunninghame and Mr. Patrick Hamiltonn Commissioners to deal and confer with the said Laird of Ramfurlie quhether if they find any signes of trew repentance in him for the sclander and to report the same to the Presbyterie.” themselves' to be communicants with the Lord Jesus and the members of His Kirk, that, their names being known, the causes of their absence micht be tryit, and such as suld be found contemners of the Holy Sacrament, and so adversaries of the trewth of God, micht be delaited to the Civil Justice according to the laws of the country.”

The trial of Lady Duchal was then going on, and her example and that which the Countess of Glencairn had recently set, may have been affecting others. But whether or not, among those whose names were given in, were “ auld Ladie Newerk,” and Gabriel Cunningham of Carncurran, and in the following year, Robert Algeo of Greenock, William Wallace, “ auld Laird of Johnstone,” and Margaret Houston, Lady Auchinames.

The Maxwells of Newark appear to have given the Presbytery considerable trouble. Margaret Cunningham, relict of George Maxwell of Newark, was twice dealt with by the Presbytery for absence from communion. David and John Maxwell, brothers of Sir Patrick Maxwell of Newark, were noted Papists, and were put under the ban of excommunication. On petitioning the Presbytery, David was restored to church privileges, but John, known as John Maxwell of Barfill, though he was willing “ to renounce papistry,” and had asked to be relieved from the ban on several occasions, was not “relaxit fra the fearfull sentence” till November 6, 1606. Cunningham of Carncurran was a nephew of “auld Lady Newerk,” who was herself a daughter of William Cunningham of Craigends. Algeo of Greenock was delaited by his minister, Mr. John Lang, and stated that “ the cause of his not communicating was ane variance fallen out betwixt him and Mr. John Shaw.” The brethren, however, “ being surelie informit the cause thereof to be because he favoured the papisticall heresies and used to reason the same,” ordained the Moderator and Mr. Lang to confer with him “ in the ground of trew religion and to informe him in the trewth of the same.” Twelve days later, June 17, 1606, they reported that “ they found the said Robert to have no knowledge and reason in the poyntes of religion controvertit.” Wherefore the Presbytery ordained him “ to be readie whensoever they sail charge him to subscribe the articles of the faith present lie professed within this realm,” “ to communicat the Bodie and Blude of Jesus Christ at the next occasion,” under pain of excommunication, and to cease in all time coming “ to reason with vulgar people in poyntes of religion that are controvertit betwixt us and the adversaries of Godis trewth, whereby he may engender in the humble erroneous opinions.” These were some of the fruits of the Reformation. Presbyter had become priest, writ large.

As might be expected, these rigid formalists objected most strenuously to the use of any portion of the first day of the week, or “ the Sabboth,” as they erroneously called it, for purposes of social enjoyment or recreation. The day had never been strictly observed in Scotland, and after the reforms introduced by Queen Margaret, the ecclesiastical as well as the public conscience was satisfied if half the day was given to religion, and the other half to social or other innocent pleasures. Even the Reformers, as we have seen, were not particularly strict in the observance of the day. But the brethren who formed the Presbytery of Paisley, that is, the ministers, with two exceptions, of the county of Renfrew, like their brethren throughout the country, being thoroughly imbued with the Sabbatarian notions of the Puritans of England and Geneva, were of opinion that the whole of the day, except a short interval allowed for the mid-day meal, should be spent in the church, taking part in its services and listening to their own dreary prelections, which, as a rule, occupied the greater part of the time, and set themselves to rebuke and punish those who absented themselves from any of the services, or ventured to use any part of the day otherwise than they directed. The peasantry, by whom the day had, from time immemorial, been regarded as a holiday, struggled hard to retain their liberty, and continued for many years to observe the day as they had done in Catholic times, the King himself siding with them.

One of the most popular modes of recreation was that of dancing on the village green, to the sound of the pipes, on the Sunday afternoons and evenings in summer. The practice was kept up into the beginning of the seventeenth century, and probably drew many away from the church during the afternoon and evening services. At any rate, these “ greens,” as they were called, were well attended, and in the summer of 1606 the .Presbyter^^ resolved to suppress them. The first to which their attention was directed, was the green of Little Caldwell, to which it was said “ the parochiners of Neilstoun and Lochquhenoch especiallie does resort.” On June 19, 1606, all persons were strictly prohibited from attending it, and Hugh Erstoun, the piper or keeper of the green, was summoned to appear before the Presbytery on July 3. Other greens were reported to the Presbytery to be held at Over Pollock, Kilbarchan, Dovecot Hill, Lochwinnoch. Resorting to them was prohibited as in the case of Little Caldwell, and the pipers summoned. The pipers, however, defied the Presbytery. One of them continued to hold the green in spite of the Presbytery’s prohibition. How the various cases ended it is impossible to tell, owing to an unfortunate break in the Records. But as there is no mention of the keeping of greens for some years in the extant Records, it is more than probable that the brethren succeeded in suppressing them. They appear to have been equally successful in suppressing several attempts to continue the old customs observed at Yule.

The rage for the discovery of witchcraft and witches, which subsequently threw so much work on the civil and ecclesiastical courts of the country and was the cause of so much cruelty and misery, had not yet broken out, at least in the county of Renfrew, otherwise the following case might have had, and in all probability would have had, a very different ending. “ 16th September, 1602.—Anent the sclander given be Gavan Stewart, burgess of Paisley, in prostrating himself before Martha Pinkerton upon his kneis, craving the helthe of Gavan Ralstoun youngir of that ilk fra her as was allegit. The said Gavan compeirand, as he was lauchtfullie summoned to answer for the sclander foirsaid, and beand accusit of the givin of the said occasioun of sclander foresaid, confessit that he yed [went] to the said Martha and said to her : ‘ It is said thou hes tane the helthe of this man Gavan Ralstoun fra him, the quhilk if thou hes done, I pray thee for Godis sake, gev him agane ’; but he denyit any humiliation to have been made upon his kneis to her or lifting of his bonnett. Therefore and in respect of the said Martha’s affirmatioun conforme to the said accusatioun, the Brethren hes summond the said Gavan ctpud acta, and ordanit also the said Martha to be summoned before them in the Kirk of Paslay the last day of this instant for fardar tryell takin in the said cause.” Stewart satisfied the Presbytery, and Mr. Andro Knox, who, as his minister, had his case in hand, was directed, on the 14th of the following month, to pass from all further admonitions against him, and no case was raised against Martha as a witch.

On October 4, 1604, the brethren were interrupted in their trial of persons accused of Papistical leanings, and had to take in hand and deal with one of their own number. This was no less an individual than Mr. Andro Knox, minister of Paisley, the famous Papist catcher. On the first of the month, in the Town Council House of Paisley, and in presence of the Earl of Abercorn, the Provost, he had committed an assault upon Gavin Stewart, one of the burgesses of the burgh. Gavin was in all probability the same Gavin Stewart whom Knox had denounced to the Presbytery and charged with having gone down on his knees to Martha Pinkerton. Anyhow, Stewart had used threatening language towards Knox, for which the minister summoned him before the Magistrates, who, having heard the case, bound Stewart over to keep the peace and not to molest Knox under pain of a penalty of a hundred pounds. Unfortunately for Knox, Stewart let fall some words in his hearing, which so incensed him, that, while they were yet in the presence of the Court, he struck Stewart violently upon the head with a key, to the effusion of blood. The Magistrates appear to have referred the “ sclander ” thus committed to the Presbytery, and that body, at its meeting on October 4, three days after the assault had been committed, suspended Mr. Andro from the ministry during its own will and that of the Session of the Kirk of Paisley. At the next meeting of the Presbytery, October 25, Knox presented a petition, “ he himself being absent, quhairwith the Brethren Avas not weil satisfeit,” especially as “ they understood that the said Mr. Andro (since the act of his suspension) hes mellit with the Sacrament of Baptism and sua contravenit the said ordinance.” Solemn intimation of his suspension was ordered by the brethren to be given from the pulpit of the Abbey Church, and Mr. John Hay and Mr. Patrick Hamilton were directed to take the case in hand. Knox now appeared to be aware of his misdeeds and of the gravity of the affair. On November 9 he appeared before the Town Council and offered to make amends; but the Town Council refused to listen to him until Lord Abercorn, in whose presence the assault had been made, was present.

Later on in the day, a joint meeting of the Presbytery, Session, and Town Council was held, when it was agreed that Mr. Andro should be “repossesyt of the haill poyntes of the office of the ministrie apoun sonday cum eight dayes, being the 19 day of November instant.” Seven days later the three bodies met again, and the following is the minute adopted and inserted in the Presbytery Records in reference to the case :—“ 16th November, 1604.— The quhilk day the Brethrein with advyse of the Sessioun and Counsall of Paisley advysing upoun the forme of the repossessioun of Mr. Andro Knox to his lawful and ordinarie functioun of all the poyntes of his ministrie at Paisley, hes ordeint that the said Mr. Andro sail sit in the maist patent place of the Kirk of Paisley upon Sounday nixtocum befoir noone, being the 19 day of November instant, and ther, efter that Mr. John Hay, appoyntit be the Brethrein to supplie the place that day, hes delaitit the fault and offence of the said Mr. Andro to the people, the said Mr. Andro in all humilitie sail confes his offence to God, his brethrein, and the partie offendit, and sail sit doun apoun his knees and ask God mercie for the same. The same being done the Baillies and sum of the honest men of the parochin sail receave him be the hand.” It is to be feared that not a few who assembled in the Kirk of Paisley on Sunday, November 19, 1604, would view the scene of Mr. Andro Knox, their minister, going down upon his knees confessing his fault and asking mercy, with feelings of more than satisfaction. It is to be hoped that Mr. Knox himself was chastened by the experience. Shortly after this event he was appointed Bishop of the Isles, and probably viewed his appointment as a sort of compensation for his recent humiliation. He tried hard to retain his charge in Paisley, but was at length obliged to resign, and Mr. Patrick Hamilton was appointed in his place, November 12, 1607.

With the minutes of its meeting on December 24, 1607, the first volume of the extant Records of the Presbytery abruptly terminate, and we lose the guidance of these interesting documents for a period of close on twenty years. These years witnessed many stirring incidents in the history of the country, but of what was done in Renfrewshire little is known. At the Assembly held in Glasgow in 1610, Episcopacy was restored, and the bishops secured in their civil rights. Earlier in the same year, a Court of High Commission was erected by the King in each of the provinces of St. Andrews and Glasgow, the members of which, or any five of their number, the Archbishop being always one, had power to call before them and try all scandalous oifenders in life or religion, and to enforce their sentences by fine and imprisonment, and also by excommunication, to be pronounced by the minister of the parish where the offender resided under pain of suspension or deprivation. With certain modifications, the Acts of the Glasgow Assembly were ratified by Parliament in October, 1612. The Five Articles of Perth, which enjoined kneeling at the Communion, the administration in private of the Sacrament of Baptism and, under certain conditions of the Lord’s Supper, the revival of Confirmation and the observance of Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension Day, and Whitsunday, were passed by an Assembly held in Perth in the month of August, 1618, and ratified by Parliament in July, 1621. To the party formerly led by Melville—the strict Presbyterian party-—the Articles of Perth were specially objectionable, particularly that which required the Communion to be received kneeling. A number of ministers, on the other hand, as well as of the bishops, approved of the Articles, and as usual, when a difference of opinion on ecclesiastical or religious matters occurs, a quarrel broke out. The Government, as might be expected, assisted those who sided with it, and inflicted pains and penalties upon those who opposed it.

While the Protestants were quarrelling, the Catholics took courage, and either openly professed their faith or took no pains to hide it. They were joined by others, who, by this time, had grown tired of the new doctrines and of the methods by which they were enforced, and had returned to the Church of Rome. The Presbyteries, however, if they were divided respecting the lawfulness of bishops, or as to the propriety of kneeling to receive the Communion, were still unanimous in their fear and hatred of Popery. Consequently, when the Records of the Presbytery in Renfrewshire again become available, the brethren there are found as busy as ever in dealing with Catholics and Popish suspects. When the volume opens, April 20, 1626, they are found dealing with James Stewart of Caversbank, and John Baillies and his wife Johnet, “anent their not frequenting the house of God for hearing the Word of God preached and for not communicating at occasion offered,” and with “ two servitors to the Countess of Abercorn,” who, because they neither communicated nor attended preaching, “ gave just occasioun of their apostacie and defectioun from the true religion.” Fifteen days later, a process was started against the Countess herself—a proceeding of which she had already been warned by authority of the Assembly held at Glasgow on the fourth day of the preceding month.

The minister of Paisley at the time was a relative of her own, Mr. Robert Boyd of Trochrig, one of the foremost scholars of the day. and recently Principal of the University of Edinburgh. A zealous protester against the late Episcopalian innovations and a rigid Presbyterian, on his arrival in Paisley he had been coldly received by the Countess, and refused possession of the manse. He was lodged instead in the “ forehouse ” of the Abbey. Into this one Sunday afternoon, while the minister was away preaching, the Master of Paisley and some others forced an entrance, flung the minister’s books on the floor, and locked the doors. A complaint was laid before the Privy Council, but on the Master expressing his sorrow, and at the intercession of Boyd, the matter was allowed to drop. Soon after, the bailies of the town attempted to put Mr. Boyd in possession of his manse, but on going to it, they found the locks filled with stones and other things, and as they were not permitted to force an entrance, they were unable to get in. As he was going away, “ the rascally women of the town, coming to see the matter—for the men purposely absented themselves—not only upbraided Mr. Robert with opprobrious speeches, and shouted and hoyed him, but likewise cast dirt and stones at him; so that he was forced to leave the town and go to Glasgow not far off.”

From Glasgow, Mr. Boyd went to Carrick, “ his own dwelling,” and, though strongly urged by his friends, refused to make any complaint as to his usage by “ the rascally women.” The Bishop of Glasgow, therefore, “ for his own credit,” to use the words of Wodrow, “ complained that justice should be done to the minister, and caused summon the said Master of Paisley and his mother, the Ladye thereof, who was thought to have the wyte [blame] of all,, to compear before the Council to hear and see order taken for the contempt done to the minister. Likeas the Lady and the Earl, her eldest son, and the master, her second son, in great pomp, with her eldest son’s gilded carosche (he being lately come from his travels), accompanied with many gentlemen and friends, came to Edinburgh to the Council day ; and there the matter being-handled in Council and reasoned where the Bishop of Glasgow was and five or six other bishops were, all that was resolved upon by the Council was, that it was promised by the Earl and his brother and their friends that the minister, Mr. Robert Boyd should be repossessed and no more impediments made to him, and no order taken with delinquents and contempt done him by the rascally women; and this was one of the fruits of Papistry in the West.” As for Mr. Boyd, he appears to have had enough of Paisley. Though urged to continue his ministry there, he refused, and demitting his office, was succeeded by Mr. John Hay of Killallan.

The proceedings against the Dowager Countess of Abercorn still went on. Thomas Algeo, one of her servants, was believed to be a priest, and was prosecuted with the utmost rigour. As for the Countess, time after time she was visited, summoned, admonished, and prayed for. In her distress she appears to have fled to the Archbishop; for on August 31, 1626, the Presbytery received a letter from him directing all proceedings against her ladyship to be stopped.

Her son, the second Earl, made no secret of his adherence to the Church of Rome. It was said of him that he “ made apostacie and defectioune from the true religioun,” that he “ openly avowed himself to be a papist, and verie contemptuouslie despiseth the word of God preached publictlie or redd privatelie and all other publict religious services used in the Kirk and Kingdom.” This, of course, was not to be tolerated, and on April 19, 1627, he was delaited before the Presbytery and ordered to appear before it on the third of May following “ to hear and see himself excommunicated,” or else to give satisfaction to the Presbytery. On the day appointed he failed to appear and was ordered to be summoned the second time. On the same day, the proceedings against his mother were revived by order of the Archbishop.

The zeal and pertinacity with which the Presbytery carried out the orders of the Archbishop and prosecuted the case against the Earl and his Countess— for she was included in the same condemnation as her husband—were worthy of the Holy Office.

On January 20, 1628, the Countess Dowager was excommunicated.. Seeking refuge in Edinburgh, she was there apprehended and cast into the Tolbooth. Her imprisonment caused her to suffer from “ many heavy diseases, so that the whole winter [1628-29] she was almost tied to her bed,” and she now “found a daily decay and weakness in her person.” Representations were made to the King on her behalf, who, being inclined to do nothing that would derogate from the authority of the Church, and at the same time being unwilling that her ladyship should be “ brought to the extremity of losing her life for want of ordinary remedies,” ordered, on July 9, 1629, that she should have license to go to the baths of Bristol, but only on condition that she should not attempt to appear at Court, and that after her recovery she should return and put herself at the disposal of the Council. Her journey to Bristol never took place, for the reason probably that she was physically incapable of making it. After a further restraint of six months in the Canongate jail, and subsequently in Duntarvie House, she was permitted, in March, 1631, after a restraint of three years, to go to Paisley for the “ outred ” of some weighty affairs, but only on condition that she should not while there “ reset Thomas Algeo nor no Jesuits,” and should return by a certain day under penalty of five thousand merks. The poor lady never returned and the five thousand merks were never paid. She reached Paisley utterly broken down, suffering from squalor carceris, and died shortly after, the victim of an odious system of persecution.

In the meantime the Presbytery had been pushing on the proceedings against her son, and against a number of her servants. On October 21, 1627, Mr. John Hay and Mr. Andrew Hamilton reported to the Presbytery “ that they had proceeded against the said noble Earl by prayer pro secundo, and were directed to proceed by the third prayer.” “ Notwithstanding of which ordinance,” the minute continues, “ compeired William Hamilton, brother germane to the said Erie, ane commisioner from him, who shewd that his Lordship would willinglie have compeired himself that day if his absence had not been occasioned through some important business, and therefore most humblie entreated the Brethren that they would supersede any ferder proceeding till his Lordship’s return, at which time he hoped he shuld give them satisfaction.” The case was therefore continued to the next Presbytery day, but the Earl failed to appear. On January 31, Mr. John Hay reported that he had pronounced sentence of excommunication against the Earl’s mother, Marion Boyd, the Countess Dowager, and further “ that because the said noble Erie [of Abercorn] had taken journey to Court for his necessarie and lawfull business, he had consulted the Bishop of Glasgow anent his excommunication, who advised him to continue [i.e., delay] to pronounce the said sentence till his Lordship’s return ; wherewith the Brethren condescended.”

From the minute of the proceedings of the Presbytery on April 27, 1628, it appears that the Earl had left the country, taking with him Mr. Robert Pendreiche and Francis Leslie, who had been ordered to be excommunicated along with the Dowager Countess and her woman, Isobel Mowatt, but were not, owing to the negligence of Mr. Andro Hamilton, who had been charged with the duty, and who, for his remissness, was ordered to be reported to the-Archbishop and charged to carry out the instructions he had received from the Presbytery.

As soon as the Earl returned, the process was revived against him. His. wife also was proceeded against. Their case was reported to the Assembly, whicli demanded the delivery of the Earl’s children, in order that they might, be educated in the Presbyterian faith. As late as the year 1647, the Commission of the General Assembly was still “ dealing ” with the Earl and his-Countess. On July 8 in that year, it directed the Presbytery of Edinburgh to confer with him as long as he remained in Edinburgh, and “ if he go to his house in the countrie,” it recommended the Presbytery of Paisley to deal with him there. Finally, in the year 1649, he was excommunicated by the Assembly and ordered to transport himself out of the kingdom, and the sentence being enforced, he sold the lordship of Paisley to the Earl of Angus, and went abroad to escape his spiritual tormentors, and to live in peace.

Lord and Lady Semple, and many others of different ranks, were similarly “ dealt” with by the Presbytery, though not to the same length. Some, after being “ dealt ” with for a while, made a real or feigned conversion ; others were excommunicated or fled ; and others, after tasting the bitterness of excommunication, which involved social and religious ostracism or, to use the modern term, boycotting, craved to be reconciled, which they usually were, after suffering certain pains and penalties.

One case deserves to be particularly mentioned. It was extremely harsh, and the closing scene of it must have aroused strange feelings in the minds of' those who beheld it. Margaret Hamilton, “ the Goodwife of Ferguslie,” was-suspected of Popish leanings. So was her sister Bessie. Bessie boldly defied the Brethren, and was soon excommunicated. Margaret was of a different temper, and withal in poor health. For a long time she resisted all the efforts of her minister, Mr. Henry Calvert, and others, to get her to submit. Her chief excuse was that she was unable, though willing, to attend the Kirk of" Paisley. Doctors’ certificates were produced testifying as to her inability to attend. Her husband pled for her. Commissioners from the Presbytery visited her again and again. They prayed with her, catechized her, and-instructed her. At last the Brethren were satisfied as to her orthodoxy. This, however, was not enough. In their zeal and fanaticism they became foolish. Nothing would please them but that this brand plucked from the burning should be publicly exhibited. The poor woman could not walk she could not bear to be jolted over such roads as then existed between the Kirk of Paisley and Blackstone, where she was living. The only way of getting her to the church was to carry her on a bed. And carried on a bed she was. All the way from Blackstone to the Paisley Kirk, a distance of about four miles, this strange procession moved at a funereal pace. Arrived at the kirk, the bed with its living burden was carried down the aisle, and deposited in “ the most patent part of the church,” probably on the very spot where Mr. Andro Knox had formerly done penance. And all to the glory of a few men whose fanaticism had deprived them of their common-sense, and who, in so using an invalid, believed they were doing glory to God.

The Presbytery had other duties to discharge, but the suppression of Catholicism was the one which engrossed the most of their time and attention. That the Brethren did something towards the purification of the morals of the people may probably be admitted, but that they did much towards making the people Protestant and Presbyterian may be doubted. The prime agents in making the country a thoroughly Presbyterian country were the arbitrary and tyrannical proceedings of Charles I. and his two sons, who succeeded him upon the throne.

Return to Book Index Page


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus