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

Culross and Tulliallan
Chapter XXII. The Kirk-Session Records of Tulliallan

THE parish of Tulliallan belongs ecclesiastically to the Presbytery of Dunblane, and under the sway of Episcopacy was, along with Culross, included in the diocese of the bishop of that designation. A large portion of it formed also, in ancient times, part of the parish of Culross; but about the middle of the seventeenth century the barony of Kincardine, with the lands of Sands, Kellywood, and Lurg, were disjoined from the latter and annexed to the parish of Tulliallan. We have already, in discussing the ecclesiastical history of Culross, seen the reasons assigned for that disjunction,—the distance of the places in question from the parish church, and their proximity to the little church of Tulliallan, which, however, was now far too small to accommodate the large access of worshippers. It was necessary, therefore, that it should either be enlarged or a new church built; and the latter measure was adopted as the more suitable for the convenience of the congregation, the greater part of which, as connected with the coal and salt works on the Kincardine estate, inhabited the village that afterwards increased into the small town of Kincardine. The old church was a very small building indeed, being only 36 feet in length, 16 feet in breadth, and 8 feet in height, and had been a Roman Catholic place of worship prior to the Reformation, when the powerful family of Blackadder were the lords of Tulliallan, and occupied the old castle in the vicinity. It was afterwards converted into a mausoleum by the Keith family; but scarcely any trace of the old building now remains, though the old burying-ground, with the modem vault in its centre, still exists in a secluded comer of Tulliallan park, about a mile to the north of the more recent church. This last, standing on a picturesque eminence overlooking the Forth, has also in its turn become a ruin, and been supplanted by the present parish church at a little distance below. Like its predecessor the old church, it had about fifty years ago become too small to accommodate its congregation, which had thus for a second time to change its quarters. There are, accordingly, three edifices in three different localities in the parish of Tulliallan which have all enjoyed successively the status of church of the parish. To the first of these belongs, par excellence, the title of the “old church”; but the same epithet is equally applicable to the second, with which the session records, now to be considered, are for the most part exclusively connected. It will therefore be understood that all the allusions there

The Old Church of TULLIALLAN.

The Cross of Culross and “ he Study.”

to the “old kirk” refer to the original church of Tulliallan, whose contracted dimensions had necessitated the erection of a larger building to accommodate the influx of members from Culross. It was erected in 1675, and the existing records commence two years previously, the heading of the first volume appearing thus:—

“The Register of the Acts and Meetings of Session since 24 of Angt 1673, Mr Alexr. Williamsone being minister.”

In the year above mentioned, James Ramsay, formerly minister of Linlithgow, afterwards parson of Hamilton and Dean of Glasgow, had succeeded the celebrated Leighton as Bishop of Dunblane. Though he had figured somewhat prominently at the burning of the Solemn League and Covenant some years before at the town cross of Linlithgow, he seems yet to have been, on the whole, a man of moderate sentiments, and gave such offence by his advocacy of mild measures and opposition to the Act of Supremacy, that, at the instigation of Archbishop Sharp, he was removed from the bishopric of Dunblane to that of the Isles, but was restored again to his old see in 1676. After this, whilst still acting as Bishop of Dunblane, we find him, as has been elsewhere detailed, acting for a while as the incumbent of the first charge of Culross, as successor to Mr Burnet. In 1684 he was translated from Dunblane to the see of Ross, which he held till the Revolution. He was then deposed, and died a few years afterwards in great poverty, as is alleged, at Edinburgh in 1696, and was buried in the Canongate churchyard. He was succeeded in the see of Dunblane by Robert Douglas, who continued in that office till the Revolution, but whose subsequent history I have not been able to trace.

As far as can be ascertained from the records of the Tulliallan kirk-session, the inhabitants appear to have been, throughout the period between the Restoration and the Revolution, much more favourably situated than their neighbours of Culross in regard to provision for their spiritual wants, and there seems also to have been a good deal of activity in the exercise of ecclesiastical discipline. Though a Prel-atist and conformer to the Church government of the day, there is no reason to doubt that Mr Williamson was both an honest man and a zealous minister, whilst he gave unequivocal evidence of his sincerity by suffering deposition at the Revolution for refusing to read the Declaration in favour of the new Government.

The minutes of the Tulliallan kirk-session are for the most part of a domestic character, and bear little or no reference either to the troubles of the persecuting times which were then afflicting Scotland, or any public event which might be agitating the great world beyond the limits of Tulliallan. Something, indeed, of the same humdrum depressing influence clings to them that characterises at the present day the town of Kincardine itself. With all her quiet and sleepiness, Culross can still claim for herself a character and idiosyncrasy which are alike impressed on her houses and streets, and on the pages of her burgh and kirk-session records. But no such attractiveness clings to Kincardine—though in making such a statement some allowance must certainly be made for the predilections and prejudices of a native of Culross.

In the same manner as the “middings” were the nightmare of the civic mind of Culross—a horrid incubus that could not be got rid of, or if they occasionally were made to disappear under a stem carrying out of the letter of the law, were yet sure, like the hydra, again to raise their head after a temporary suppression—did the “cruives” prove a perennial source of vexation to the ecclesiastical overseers in Tulliallan. These “cruives” were extensively used on the upper banks of the Forth, and more especially on the shores of the parishes of Culross and Tulliallan, for the purpose of fishing, and furnished a favourite occupation for the people. They consisted of a crib or framework of wood or wicker placed within low-water mark, from which the fish, after entering, were unable to escape, and were captured on the ebbing of the tide. Till very recently some of them were to be seen still at work near Kincardine; but their use, along with that of stake-nets and fixed apparatus of any kind, has been finally inhibited by the inspectors of fisheries in all parts of the Forth above Queensferry. This has emerged in consequence of the necessity of adopting measures for the preservation and increase of salmon in Scottish rivers. In bygone days, however, the cruives constituted an important branch of industry, and formed a valuable perquisite to the monks of Culross, who had a right reserved to them in the feu-charter of the adjoining lands of having the benefit of the cruive - fishings on Wednesdays and Fridays. After the Reformation we find a constant struggle maintained between the Church and the laity, in the endeavours of the former to enforce a more decorous observance of the Sabbath and an abstinence from the ordinary occupations of the week. I have elsewhere entered into this subject more fully, and so need not pursue its discussion further here. Suffice it to say, that in nothing did the ecclesiastical authorities of the district under consideration find it more difficult to restrain the populace than in preventing Sunday labour at the “cruives.” The first entries of any interest in the Tulliallan session-book have reference to them. Here they are:—

“11 October 1674.

“Which day the session met, and Burnbrae’s servant being delated for fishing the cruives upon the Lord’s Day, was appointed to be summoned against the next session day.”

“29 Novr.

“Which day the session met, and the above-mentioned person being cited, compeared not; wherefor thought it fit to acquaint the presbyterie with her obstinacie ”

“4 April

“Which day the session met, and Bumbrae’s woman com-peired, did supplicat the session, intreating that she might be censured by the minister and elders, and confessing her sin of fishing the cruves on the Sabboth. She was exhorted to repent for that heinous sin. She was cited apud acta to be present the next session day.”

The new church seems to have been nearly completed by the end of 1676. Contrary to what obtains at the present time, it does not appear that the seating of a church was regarded then as incumbent on the heritors of the parish, but was left to individual worshippers. The extraordinary diversity and irregularity of pews, which used to be so conspicuous in old-fashioned churches, are hence doubtless in great part to be accounted for. Those who were unable to provide pews for themselves, had either to stand or bring stools with them, as is said to have been a common practice with the females of a congregation. These on one memorable occasion were turned to useful account in St Giles’s Church, Edinburgh, when Jenny Geddes set the example of revolt against the introduction of the Service-book by hurling her stool at the head of the Dean of Edinburgh. The following entries refer to the seating and other arrangements consequent on the opening of the church of Tulliallan:—

“16 October 1676.

“Which day it was ordained that the seats in the old kirk should be transported to the new kirk, upon the session’s expenses.”

“22 October 1676.

“Which day the session ordained that those who claimed right to the old seats should show their rights to manifest the truth of them.

“It is also ordained that each person should pay to the box 2 Scots for the ground meal of their dask ”

“12 Mar. 1076.

“Which day the session, considering the paucity of their number, elected the persons following as verie fit to be administrators in church affaires, their life and conversation (for ought known) being honest, and not repugnant to the doctrine of truth—viz., for Kingcardine, Will Livingstone, Jo. Mershel, David Wannan; for the Sands, Will Sands; for the Lurge, Jo. Cumming in the Myres.”

“31 Oct. 1676

“Which day the session appointed that the two collectors of the offering should in time of the forenoon sermon search the town of Kincara, and who collected the Sabbath preceding should search in the tyme of the afternoon sermon.”

“January 1677.

“Which day the session met, and ordained that WilL Mill, thesaurer, should draw up an account of the expences out of the box for repairing of the old seats, or any other way, and present the same to them, with an extract of those who intend to have seats in the new kirk; as also that the Reader give ane extract of those who were booked in the old session-book as having right to the seats of the old kirk: which was done accordinglie shortlie thereafter.”

The first Communion in the new church appears to have been celebrated on 15th July 1677. The following order had preceded it, and shows that the old Presbyterial rigour of discipline regarding personal examination was maintained, in Tulliallan at all events, even in the days of Prelacy:—

“2 Judy 1677.

“Which day the session met: the minister declared how some in the parish, but especially in the town of Kincame, absented themselves from the examination; and therefore intreated the elders in their respective quarters to exhort all who wilfully absent themselves from the aforesaid discipline to repair to the kirk to be examined at the dyats prescribed in the following week, with certification that if they neglect so to do that they shall be censured for their contempt as the session shall think fit/’

The following orders are directed against Sabbath desecration:—

“ 24 March 1678.

“Which day the session convened, the minister declared that he was informed of several abuses acted in the town of Kingcam by multitudes meeting together and exercising themselves in and sinful speeches on the Lord’s

Day; as also that others resorted to ale-houses. Wherefor the session, considering these abuses, ordained that if any be found guiltie of the aforesaid offences they should be censured as open prophaners of the Lord’s Day; which Act the minister intimated publickly the Sabbath following.”

“16 March 1679.

“Which day the session met, and no faults were delated, but the minister exhorted the elders to be diligent in searching and trying out all prophaners of the Lord’s Day, that they may be censured.”

“25 Jrdy 1680.

“Which day the session mett, and was informed that people within this parioch usually flocked together on the Sabbaths most scandalously. Wherefore the session ordained, and did enact, that herefter no person nor persons should be found in the fields or streets, but specially in ail-houses, after six a’cloak at night on the Sabbath-day, without a warrantable occasion, with certification to the transgressors of these said Acts that they shall be censured as profaners of the Lord’s Day; which Act is to be publicklie intimated by the minister next Sabboth, that none pretend ignorance, —which was done accordingly”

And the following refer to some parochial matters which are not without interest after the lapse of two centuries:—

“31 August 1679.

“Which day the session met, and ordained that the kirk-yeard dyke should be perfyted by the workmen in all haste.”

“19 October 1679.

“Which day the session met, and appointed collectors for the money which the inhabitants of this parish have willingly offered to buy a bell to the kirk”

“5 October 1679.

“Which day the session met, and desired John Calendar, bailie, to search out a mortcloath of good velvet for the session’s use, who have wholly resolved to imploy their box-money for buying therof.”

“7 December 1679.

“Which day the session met, and the new velvet mortcloath (which was appointed to be bought by the bailie on the session’s account) was appointed to be let out to any burial within the parish for 1 lib. 10 sh. Scots, and to strangers for 1 lib. 16 sh.2 The pryce of this said mortcloath was 185 libs. 6 sh 4,8 which was taken out of the kirk box as said is before.”

“8 October 1682.

“Which day the session met, the minister produced a letter from the bishop in order to a collection for building the bridge betwixt Grange and Salen; which, being approved, was appointed to be publickly intimat, which was done.”

It is satisfactory to find that unfounded allegations against any one in the matter of Sabbath a desecration were severely dealt with:—

“7 January 1683.

"Which day the session mett, compeared Marjorie Drysdale, being cited for slandering of persons whom she said fished the creeves on the Sabbath, and could not prove it; she was appointed to satisfie publickly as a slanderer, which she did accordingly the next Sabboth.”

On 11th May 1684 a curious case is reported, in which a collier is brought up and “ sharply reproved ” for, among other offences, “causing his son write disgraceful words in imperfect Latine and English,” by way of libel on a neighbour.

An uproar breaks out among Lord Kincardine’s colliers in reference to their kirk loft:—

“13 February 1687.

“Which day the session did meet. Tho. Younger declared that the colhewers had taken the loft door-key from [him] violently; wherefor the said Thomas was appointed to go to John Halowday, bailie, to desire him to cause them render gance with our ancestors both in the church and the playhouse. The epilogues to tragedies in Shakespeare’s time were generally spoken by one of the players habited in a splendid cloak of black velvet, for which enonnous sums were frequently paid.

“13 March 1687.

“The insolencie of the colehewers is referred to the civil magistrate.”

The following very brief entry of the same date as , the foregoing will be interesting to all who have read ‘The Antiquary ’:—

 Which day Will Archibald, blew gown, is appointed to be inrolled among our poor.”

A great change has now taken place, and Presbytery has again come into the ascendant. Mr Williamson having refused to read the Declaration recognising the new government of William and Mary, he is deposed by the Privy Council; and Mr John Forrest, who had been deprived of the living in 1665, returns to his old charge of Tulliallan.


“In which year this parish wrote a call to Mr Jo. Forrest, then residing in Dantzick, to return to his charge of the ministrie in Tilliallan (out of which he was violently deposed by the prelats anno 1665), according to Act of Counsell; who accepted of the said call, and returned here on Septr. 27,1690.”

Though, as already stated, Tulliallan seems to have been more favourably situated as regards spiritual matters than most other parishes during the reigns of Charles and James II., there is undoubted evidence that, even in the best-regulated communities during that period, there was a great decay of ecclesiastical discipline, and doubtless also of general morals. Whilst the Presbyterian charioteers held the reins too tight, the Prelatists guided the team with such laxity and remissness, except when nonconformity was concerned, that there was great danger of a reckless course being entered on of irreligion and profligacy. The Presbyterians were now again in power; and the more zealous spirits among them were doubtless indulging the vision of a return of those palmy dap, in the years immediately following the subscription of the Covenants, when something like the re-establishment of a theocracy seemed almost on the point of attainment. But by the end of the century things were considerably changed, and the new theories as to constitutional government and personal freedom which were coming into vogue, and had tended in great measure to bring about the Revolution, were also strongly assertive of the right of private judgment, and liberty of thought and practice, in so far as these were in unison with the maintenance of public order and morality. The Presbyterians, like other religionists of the old school, were not only slow in recognising the truth of these positions, but were likewise resolute to the utmost of their power in combating and delaying their reception. But, in fairness, the charge of bigotry and narrow-mindedness cannot more reasonably be laid at their door than against other communities of the time, both secular and ecclesiastic. They had had, it must be remembered, to wage a struggle between life and death; and they could neither be expected to have shown themselves possessed of a superhuman spirit of forbearance in the hour of victory, nor animated by ideas in advance of the age in which they lived. Imperfect as both their notions and practice were, there can be no doubt of the foundations of the liberty and security which we now enjoy having been laid by the English Puritans and Scottish Covenanters. Had they failed, or been less resolute in the struggle, the consequences could have been nothing short of a career of misery and degradation for Great Britain.

Let us now revert to the Tulliallan kirk-session, and see how they endeavour to regulate matters of religious observance and public morality.

“10 March 1691.

“The which day the session appointed that no person should fish their crowes, bring in cail or water, haunt or go to host-ler-houses, or go to the backwood, or go in companys to the ash brays in Kingcardine on the Sabbath-dayes, certifying all such who shall be found guilty of any of the foresaid sins of Sabbath-breaking, they shall be both lyable to Church censure, and also committed to the hands of the civil magistrate; for which cause the elders are appointed (who collect that day) to go and search Kingcardine in time of divine service, and to wait on the crowes on the Sabbath, and to report or delate delinquents whom they shall find to the next session: which Act is to be read publickly by the minister, that none pretend ignorance, the next Sabbath; which was done accordingly after the first sermon.”

The “ash brays” or “ash braes” is a locality which still bears the same name in Kincardine. It does not denote, as might be supposed, an eminence planted with ash-trees, but the heaps and hillocks formed of the ashes of the salt-pans, which in time became overgrown with grass. A great portion of the modem town of Kincardine is built on a stratum of these ashes.

“31 October 1693.

“Which day the session mett, compeared James Wannan, and acknowledged his guilt in drinking, without any limitation, the confusion of the inhabitants of Tulliallan, which was also evidenced by witnesses; which the session considering, appointed him to be publiquely rebuked upon the next Sabbath-day, which was intimate to him.”

The parish schoolmaster was, in former times, regarded as holding a monopoly in imparting instruction. Sewing-schools were, of course, excepted.

“25 July 1694.

“The qlk day the session, considering that there are some privat schools kept within this parish, to the discouragement of the ordinary schoolmaster, does hereby prohibit and discharge any person whatsoever from keeping any privat school for learning or educating of youths within the congregation, except for lasses; and this to be intimat from the pulpit next Lord’s Day.”

“25 November 1695.

“The session, considering the abuses committed at penny bridalls, and the offence given by promiscuous dancing, have resolved, and hereby do appoint, that the minister admonish publickly from the pulpit next Lord’s Day, that persons to be married shall not call nor invit such confluences of people to their marriges, and that the minister shall not solemnize the marriage of any parties, being pariochiners, but such as shall engadge there shall be no promiscuous dancing at their marriage.”

Here is a curious and characteristic reason assigned for the erection of a church dock:—

“25 November 1695.

“Which day the session, considering how usefull a clock would be in the steeple of the church, especiallie to regulate the fishers of the croves, who frequently are guilty of breach of Sabbath, and when challenged pretend ignorance as to the time, have hereby resolved to have one; and for that end appoints the minister and John Crockett to agree for a workman for a clock to the said steeple, hereby engadging that what they expend for the same they shall see them reimbursed.”

An irreverent shoemaker beards the kirk-session:—

“19 Decr. 1695.

“After prayer, session mett. Compeared John Peacock, shoemaker in Kincardine, and confessed his fishing of the croes on the Sabbath-day, and endeavoured to vindicate the lawfulness thereof, alledging that it was as lawful to fish the croes on Sabbath as milk a cow, with other irreverent actes; therefor was summoned apud acta to the next presbetry, and the session refer the same to the presbetry to determine thereon. Appoints David Wannan, Gilbert Millar, James Davidson, to be cited against next session day”

“16 Septr. 1696.

“Qlk day session mett. John Penny being called, compeared, and being interrogated anent his going to the mill on Sabbath evening, and of his carrying a pock beneath his arm, acknowledged his going to mill betwixt 7 and 8 o’clock at night, and his having of a pock, but nothing in it; and it being laid seriously home to him by the minister, in name of the session, confessed his fault therein, was grieved that it should have given offence, and promised never to be seen in the like in time coming.”

The kirk-session records of Tulliallan, like those of Culross, testify frequently to the scarcity and distress that marked the close of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth century:—

“9 December 1696.

“The qlk day the session, considering the heavy strock of scarcity and sickness that the parish are lying under, and the abounding sin thereof, have resolved to keep a day of fast and humiliation, to plead with God for the removal of the same; and for that effect have set apart this day fourth night for a day of humiliation in this congregation.”

On 7th March 1697 some cruive-fishers axe again brought up, and make the old excuse of horological ignorance:—

“The session, considering that they could not specify the precise time, whether it was Sabbath night or Monday morning, as they alleged, resolved they should be all called in and rebuked for going to the croves at least so near the Sabbath-day, if not upon it, and admonished to be more tender in time coming, otherways to be proceeded against by publique censure; who accordingly were called in, rebuked and admonished by the minister, and dismissed.”

So this case ends, but fresh ones soon appear.

“20 November 1697.

"The session are informed that Longannet croves were fished Sabbath last at night; appoints the officer to cite such persons as fished them, particularly David Lyell.”

“12 December 1697.

"Which day the session met. After prayer, the officer reports that he had cited David Lyell, who, being called, compeared, and charged with fishing of the croves lately upon the Sabboth-day, denyed the same, but acknowledged that he went there about nyne o’clock at night to preserve his own croves from some people that had come out of Culross to steal fish, whom he professed he knew not; he was exhorted to a conscientious observation of the Sabbath, and to inform the session when he should see any fishing them on the Sabbath, in regard he lived hard by them, which he undertook to do.”

“15 February 1698.

“Which day session mett After prayer the session, considering the great strait the poor are in, the meal being at 16s. or 18s. per peck, have resolved to give the double allowance unto all the poor of the parioch until the Lord be pleased to send plenty; and for that end allows the thesaurer to give to the poor of the parish according as he understands their straits, in the intervalls betwixt sessions, and to lay his depursements every day before the session to be judged by them.”

The above entry exhibits the terrible scarcity which prevailed in Scotland at the close of the seventeenth and opening of the eighteenth century. The price stated of the peck of oatmeal—16s. to 18s. Scots, or Is. 4d. to Is. 6d. sterling—would be equivalent to at least 4s. at the present day. Many of us have heard old people speak of a similar state of matters which characterised the years 1800 and 1801.

The elders appointed to watch at the cruives on Sunday evenings are roughly handled by the fishers:

"3 January 1699.

“Which day sessione mett. After prayer, David Wannan and John Turcan report they waited on Lord’s night at the croves, with design to have keept them from being fished, bat that about 10 o’clock at night there came above fourtie or fiftie persons, so that they found it impossible to hinder them, and while endeavouring to hinder them the rabble threatened to throw them into the sea. The session, considering the same, appoints them to give up all the names of such as they saw there to the baylie of the regality, and in name of this session desire they might be punished according to law for their breach of Sabboth.”

The kirk-session of Tulliallan seems to have been greatly exercised by the perverse conduct of many of the parishioners in insisting in using the fishing-cruives on Sunday. Repeated reproofs and exhortations had no effect, and to their additional chagrin the civil magistrates refused their concurrence in coercing and punishing the delinquents. A certain Bailie Halliday, overseer of the Kincardine saltworks, is spoken of, in an entry dated 1st November 1699, as a person who had hitherto declined to in-terpone his authority, but to whom the minister and kirk-session determine that a final appeal should once more be made to induce him to do his duty, most of the offenders being under his superintendence as salters. Apparently, however, the only weapon left to the Church is the sentence of lesser excommunication, which is ordered to be employed in future against those who persist in desecrating the Sabbath evenings by cruive-fishing.

The word “cruive,” spelled also “cruve” and “crove,” and generally pronounced like the French participle cnt, seems to be identical with the English “ crib,” which comes from the Anglo-Saxon crybbe, or the old Swedish krubba, an enclosure. Probably also it is related to the Gaelic craobh, a tree. In ordinary Scottish it means a pigsty, which is thus commonly designated a “sow croo.” In further reference to the cruiye-fishing, it may not be amiss to quote the following from the Old Statistical Account of Culross. After stating that herrings and gar vies are extensively caught on the shores of Culross and Tulliallan, more especially the latter, it goes on to say:—

“One of these cruives will sometimes yield of herrings and garvies in a season to the value of 6, 8s., and in an extraordinary good year even 10. There are at Kincardine, 4 miles west from Culross, 61 cruives; at Longan-net, a mile and a half nearer Culross, 83; and at another new station midway between these, nicknamed by the fishers Botany Bay, 35. In lucky seasons, such as was the year 1783, it was computed that betwixt Kincardine and Longannet there were caught of fish to the value of 10001 and upwards. The cruive-fishing season is from the month of August till the beginning of March In the darkness and gloom of winter, and even amidst all the horrors of the tempest, the fishing of the cruives exhibits a veiy gay and enlivening scene; men and women of all ages, and in different companies, resorting to them and carrying lamps of flaming charcoal, which are seen at a distance through the dark, moving in all directions, accompanied with the mixed cries of emulation, merriment, and hope. The cruives belonged originally to the Abbot of Culross, but after the Reformation, were parcelled out among the several proprietors who succeeded to the Church lands.”

From the above glowing account it is evident that the cruive-fishing must have had considerable attractions for the inhabitants of the district, and presented at all times a very gay and animated appearance. Whether by the end of the last century —to which the date of the publication of the Old Statistical Account is to be referred—these fishings still engaged the parishioners on Sunday evenings, in defiance of the fulminations of the kirk-session, I am really unable to say; but it is more than probable that the very fact of its being a forbidden occupation gave it an additional zest, and that as the prosecutions ceased, the practice of Sabbath desecration in reference to this matter fell also into abeyance. Certainly there is scarcely any further notice of it in the Tulliallan kirk-session records after the year 1700—though doubtless this absence, for many years subsequent to that date, is primarily attributable to the circumstance of the ecclesiastical authorities being denied the assistance of the civil power in enforcing their prosecutions.

The Old Statistical Account of Tulliallan gives also the following particulars regarding the cruives:—

“There are above 100 cruives in the parish, in which are caught herrings, whitings, haddocks, sparlings, sythe, sprats, cod, skate, with some few salmon and flounders. Of these last there are four different species, called here the sole, the turbot, the sand, and the bunnock flounders. The sole and turbot are esteemed the best. The average of a cruive in good and bad fishing-seasons is estimated between 40s. and 50s. yearly. ... When the herring-fishery succeeds, it is a great benefit to the place and neighbourhood. These, together with the potatoes, support the poor people for some months in the end of the year.”

As already mentioned, the cruive-fishing has participated in the general decay of industry which for many years past has befallen the towns of Culross and Kincardine and the surrounding district. How far it might be possible to resuscitate it is a question of some uncertainty. It is said that fish of all sorts abound in the deep channel of the Firth as far up at least as Kincardine, and persons still living speak of having been regularly employed by the late Sir Robert Preston of Valleyfield in procuring there, by means of nets, a supply of fish for his table. The introduction of steam-navigation, however, in a tract of water confined within such comparatively narrow bounds, may possibly have caused the migration of its finny denizens to the freer and more extended domain of the lower Firth and the German Ocean. People have likewise become more particular in recent times as to the quality of the fish they eat, and there can be little doubt that many of the fish that find their way above Queensferry are spent and exhausted individuals.

“6 January 1703.

“Sederunt: Minister and all the Elders. After prayer the minister informs the session that he having met with the minister of Clackmannan, he complained upon John and Edward Bruce in this parish, they having been at the laird of Clackmannan's house upon the 25th of December last, at a feast which was offensive to the session there, and desired they might do so no more, the said laird being an excommunicat person; which the session considering, they appointed Thomas Primrose, one of their number, to go and admonish them.”

“17 Feby. 1703.

“Sederunt: Minister and all the Elders. After prayer Thomas Primrose reported he had obeyed the appointment in rebuking and admonishing John and Edward Bruce.”

These two last entries certainly give a strange idea of Presbyterial interference in those days, when two individuals belonging to the congregation are subjected to discipline for having eaten a Christinas dinner at the house of a neighbouring proprietor, who was, moreover, in all probability a relation of their own. The Bruces of Clackmannan were stanch Jacobites; and the then laird had probably incurred the hostility of the Kirk by attending the ministrations of one of the dispossessed Prelatist ministers of the rSgime preceding the Revolution. They may possibly, indeed, have had more serious charges against him; but doubtless the great provocation in the present instance was the celebration of a Yule festival The lairds of Clackmannan claimed direct connection with the family of King Robert Bruce, and even maintained themselves to be an elder branch of the Bruce family, of which the Scottish king was only a cadet. Their male line became extinct on the death, in 1772, of Henry Bruce of Clackmannan, whose widow died in 1791, at the age of ninety-five, and was visited by Robert Bums and Dr Adair on the occasion of their excursion to Harvieston, a few miles from Clackmannan, at the foot of the Ochils. The old lady bequeathed to the Earl of Elgin, as the next representative of the Bruce family, the sword and helmet in her possession, which were said to have been worn by King Robert at the battle of Bannockburn. She was the last occupant of Clackmannan Tower, which adjoins the town of that name, and forms a prominent object in the beautiful landscape which spreads itself out, in looking down the Forth from Stirling Castle, between the Ochils and the river.

Under date May 2, 1705, a deliverance of the General Assembly is reported, reversing those of the Presbytery and Synod, who had ordered the translation of Mr Buchanan from the ministry of Tulliallan to that of Kilmadock. These translations appear sometimes to have been made in a very arbitrary manner—as in this instance both the minister and congregation were strongly opposed to the change, and were subjected to the trouble and expense of two appeals before they were allowed to exercise in peace their own wishes in the matter.

On 13th June an Act of session is passed obliging parties about to be married to give a bond of 40 Scots that there should be no guests beyond a certain number, nor any “ promiscuous dancing ” at the wedding, otherwise the banns should not be proclaimed.

“13 Feby. 1706.

“The said day the session, understanding that several people are said to stay too late in taverns in the town of Kincardin—especially on the Saturdays night—they resolve that two of their number shall go weekly to every tavern in Kincardin every Saturday for some time, and report if they see any guilty; and for that end appoints Walter Stewart and John Wright to go upon Saturday nert.”

“21 Feby. 1706.

“Walter Stewart and John Wright report that they visited all the taverns in Kincardin, but found nothing censurable.”

“3 March 1706.

“Those who visited the taverns of Kincardin repeat they saw nothing censurable”

Kincardine must have been a very good place indeed in those days. Did the worthy elders ascertain the goodness of the liquor sold, as well as the decorum preserved in the taverns ?

“14 December 1709.

“The said day the session are informed that James Robertson, carrier in Kincardin, and William Wightman in Gar-tairie, hath of late brought Episcopal ministers into their houses and baptized their children; for which they appoint them to be cited to their next meeting.”

“January1 January 1710.

“The said day the session considering the abounding sickness, the great decay of trade, and that the fishing in this parish is wholly decayed this year, and the great straits the workpeople in Kincardin are reduced unto since October last, together with the unfruitfulness under the means of grace, &c., they appoint a congregational fast to be kept the eighteenth current.”

Of this date—19th November 1710—a deliverance of the Commission of the General Assembly is reported, by which Mr Thomas Buchanan is ordered to be transferred from the charge of Tulliallan parish to that of Dunfermline. The Presbytery of Dunblane had decreed his continuance in Tulliallan; but an appeal being taken by the parish of Dunfermline, the Commission of Assembly decided that he must be removed.

“18 January

“The said day the session appointed Janies Miln, one of their number, to attend the Presbytrie of Dunblane Tuesday next, in their name, to petition them for supplie, and particularly to intreat for a hearing of Mr Kalph Erskine, preacher of the Gospel, for the time living in Culross; and to desire the said presbytrie to grant a written warrand to this session to invite any neighbouring minister to supply us in case of vacancy, and to report.”

Ralph Erskine was at this time tutor and chaplain in the family of the Black Colonel, then residing in the Colonel’s Close, Culross, as I have already had occasion to mention. He received another call about the same time, to the second charge of Dunfermline, to which he was preferred; and Tulliallan thus probably escaped the honour of becoming afterwards the cradle of Dissent. Being thus disappointed of Ralph, it set its affections on his brother, Ebenezer Erskine, then minister of Portmoak, on Loch Leven.

Ebenezer Erskine was not destined, any more than his brother Ralph, to make Tulliallan famous as the scene of his ministry—an honour which was reserved respectively for Stirling and Dunfermline. The subsequent history of the two brothers is well known— their opposition to what they considered as an un-scriptural usurpation of the rights of congregations in the appointment of their ministers, and a generally lax and corrupt Bystem both as regards doctrine and the maintenance of ecclesiastical discipline, and their refusal to recognise and enforce certain obnoxious decrees of the Church courts,—all which culminated ultimately in their secession from the Church of Scotland, and the establishment of a dissenting community of Presbyterians, which from small beginnings has grown to be a formidable rival to the mother-Church. These two brothers, whose names are so inseparably connected with the great secession in the last century, were the sons of a Presbyterian minister on the Borders, who is said to have had a family of no less than thirty-three children. He was a cadet of the Mar family, and related to Colonel John Erskine of Camock, in whose household, as we have seen, his son Ralph acted as chaplain previous to his appointment to the ministry of Dunfermline.

“6 December 1713.

“The session appointed George Ramsay and James Dewar to repair to Culross to-morrow, and to converse with Colonel Erskine in order to the settlement of this place, and to report.”

“11 July 1714.

“The said day given to Mistress Crocket, for maintaining fifteen probationers, twenty pounds Scots; and for five Bibles of London print, six pounds thirteen shillings four pennies Scots”

"21 July 1714.

“The Presbytery of Dunblane being convened here, Mr Hugh Walker, minister at Lecropt, after sermon admitted Mr George Mair minister of this congregation, in face of the said presbytrie and congregation.”

Mr Mair, it will be remembered, had been one of the ministers of Culross. Let us now return to our small-beer chronicles:—

“6 Octr. 1714.

“The session appointed Robert Coult, one of their number, to thatch the schoolmaster’s house with hather, and make the same water-tight, and the treasurer to pay him for his pains.”

Heather seems then to have been in common use for thatching, and doubtless it formed both a picturesque and sufficiently comfortable roof. Culross Moor furnished the material in abundance; and so sensible were the burgh authorities in Culross of the importance of the privilege, that we find, in the feu grants by the town to the Dundonald family, an express reservation to the inhabitants of access to the portion of the moor thus conveyed, at all times, for the purpose of pulling heather. At the present day little use is made of the plant, except for ornamental purposes; but in former times it was really a useful growth, and turned to account in many different ways. Besides being employed for thatching, an extensive industry was carried on in the manufacture of heather reenges and besoms. The former consists of a number of stalks of heath bound together, and .has long been in repute as a most useful implement for rinsing and cleansing pots and pans. The latter term explains itself as a broom or besom, made of a bundle of heather-stalks fastened to the end of a stick. The cutting and manufacture of these used to constitute a great business for itinerant vendors of the articles in question, and the occupation is not yet extinct. The reenges were always of heather; the besoms were sometimes of heather and sometimes of broom. The following cry used to be well known:—

“Buy broom besoms, better never grew;
Bonnie heather reenges, wha’ll hae them noo 
Besoms for a penny, reenges for a plack;
An ye winna hae them, tie them on my back! ”

From the details of a session case about this period, it appears evident that Colonel Erskine of Camock enjoyed at this time a heritable jurisdiction over the town and barony of Kincardine, as coming in the room of the earls of that title. The delinquent in question denied the authority of the session, and refused to show an extract of his alleged marriage; whereupon “ the session refers him to the civil magistrate, that he may cause him subject himself to the session; and appoints an extract hereof to be sent to Colonel Erskine.”

"22 February 1716.

“After prayer—sed., minister and elders—William Wight-man called, and compearing, persisted in his former denial; whereupon the witnesses being sworn and examined, unanimously agreed that he was not mistaken with drink in John Miln’s house the 20th of January last, neither drunk any there that day, save two gills of aquavitoe; but some of the witnesses deponed that he proposed to drink the name of Erskine’s good health: which the session considering, they ordered him to be admonished, to walk more circumspectly, and to wait more punctuallie upon the ordinances; which was done accordingly, and he dismist.”

Mr Mair dies shortly after this, having exercised the ministry at Tulliallan for about two years:—

"9 Jun1717.

“The session being informed that in May last James Wannan was found melling and breaking land on the Sabbath-day, appointed him to be cited to the next session.”

“21 July 1717.

“James Wannan cited, called, and compearing, contest that he was at his work upon the Saturday, and going home his horse cast him, and he bled much at the nose, and thereafter fell asleep, and when he awaked on the Sabbath morning he did not know but it had been Saturday, and so he went away to break the clods unwittingly, for which he profest great grief; who being removed, and the session considering the same, he was called in and exhorted to a more cautious afterward, and dismisk”

“17 August 1718.

“Wm Scotland and George Bamsay report that they collected this day 21 Scots for the Lithuanian churches.”

“1 January 1719.

“Sed.: Mr John Taylor, moderator pro tempore, and all the elders.

“The session considering that they have this day unanimously elected and chosen Mr Thomas Thomson to be their minister, appointed James Dewar and Wm. Scotland to repair to the Presbytrie of Dunblane Tuesday next, and present their call to them, and intreat for their concurrence therewith, and to report.”

There is no notice of the settlement of Mr Thomson, but he appears as minister of Tulliallan and moderator of the kirk-session on 10th May of this year. There were frequently long vacancies in charges in those days, and here we find that that of Tulliallan had been unprovided with a regular incumbent for nearly three years. One advantage, indeed, resulting from the restoration of the rights of patrons, was that of making compulsory the presentation to the benefice within six months of the first occurrence of the vacancy, otherwise the appointment of a minister - accrued as a jus devolutum to the presbytery.

Of this date—16th May 1725—Mr Thomas Turner appears as minister of Tulliallan and moderator of the kirk-session. He was the successor of Mr Thomson, who had died in the preceding year.

“27 March 1726.

“The session appointed the minister to advertise the people from the pulpit Sabbath next to give no bad coin to the collection, and not to stand in the kixkyeard, but go straight into the kirk when they come.”

Two women who are brought before the session on this day—17th November 1728—“confest that they did not keep the kirk so well as they could wish, in regard they had not plaids to take about them.”

“30 Decr. 1737.

“Jean Coult cited, called, and interrogate, confest that Sabbath last, 25th instant, she did give a blow with her Bible to Grisill Coult when she attempted to come into her seat, profest her great grief for the same, and promised never to do the like again; and (she being removed, and the affair considered, and she being called in again) was rebuked and dismist.”,

As in Culross, the session records of Tulliallan begin at this period to show a great many censures passed in consequence of irregular and clandestine marriages:—

 27 Decr. 1740.

“Said day the session, considering the frequency of irregular marriages, enacted, and hereby appoint, that all and every one that shall marry clandestinely or irregularly in any time coming, shall pay in to the session-box for the use of the poor four shillings sterling toties guoties, and beside the kirk dues.”

“7 April 1745.

“The Reverend the Presbytery of Dunblane having met at this place, and after sermon preached by the Revd. Mr James Richie, minister at Aberfoile, he, together with the presbetry, by prayer and imposition of hands did solemnly set apart Mr George Anderson to be minister of this congregation.”

“12 June 1757.

“The Rev. Mr Steedman did, by appointment of the Presbytery of Dumblane, declare this kirk vacant.”

The entries in this session-book come down to 1820, but are of no value in a historical or archaeological point of view, after the date last above quoted. The vacancy then announced was filled up in the following year by the appointment of Mr Robert Brown, who died in 1787, and was succeeded in 1788 by the Rev. David Simson, who died in 1821. Mr Simson’s place was supplied in 1822 by Dr George Skene Keith, father of the celebrated Dr Keith, author of the treatise on the ‘Prophecies/ and grandfather of the distinguished surgeon of the same name. Dr Keith, who had been translated from Keith in Morayshire, did not survive for a year his induction to Tulliallan, having died in March 1823, in consequence of an illness brought on in encountering the toil of wading through the snow to attend a meeting of presbytery. He was succeeded in 1823 by the Rev. Andrew Bullock, who died in 1836, and was succeeded the same year by the Rev. George Hope Monilaws, who in 1847 was translated to Peebles. Mr Monilaws was succeeded in 1848 by the present incumbent, the Rev. John Smeaton.

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