Search just our sites by using our customised site search engine


Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

University of Guelph Library
Disruption of the Church of Scotland


The Library’s archival, rare, and special collections section can be reached by taking the single elevator or stairs in the south-east corner (past the Circulation/Reserve area) to the lower level where researchers can use materials in the Wellington County Room. TRELLIS, the TriUniversity Libraries catalogue, is the primary tool for identifying and locating materials in Archival and Special Collections. TRELLIS can be accessed via the Library’s home web page (http://www.lib.uoguelph.ca), where various electronic resources, such the rare books in Early English Books Online and Eighteenth Century Collection Online are also available.

HISTORY

Begun in 1975 with the acquisition of a collection of 110 pamphlets, the collection was slowly expanded until 1983, when an additional major collection was acquired to bring the total to approximately 450. Since then, a major bound volume was acquired from the Library of the Free Church College in Edinburgh with 110 pieces of primary material, mainly consisting of broadsides of petitions (signed), notices, monthly statements, posters, etc. These documents date from November 1842 to August 1845 and concern the establishment of the Free Church of Scotland. Also included are pamphlets, beginning as early as 1817, concerning the problems which led to the Disruption; pamphlets by the eventual leaders in the schism from this early period; and pamphlets from the post-Disruption era to the 1890s, when attempts were made to re-unite the various splinter churches. After 1990, the library continued to acquire pamphlets and histories bearing on issues that led to the Disruption.

DESCRIPTION

The greatest strength of the collection is the primary pamphlet and broadside material, which all sides of the controversy used to build and defend their cases. However, material on all aspects of the Disruption is collected, from the early publications of the ministers who became the leaders in the movement, to primary and secondary sources on early controversies that led to the Disruption in 1843 and to later works about the period and attempts up to the present day to reunite the various sects that came out of the schism. Of special importance are the few contemporary works, primarily in pamphlet form, of the Disruption in Canada and particularly in Ontario.

LANGUAGE

Virtually all of the material is English language, although a few items were published in Gaelic. Secondary material is acquired in any language, but almost no secondary titles have been published in other languages.

HOLDINGS

There are 850 pamphlets (one bound volume of 110 pieces of pamphlets), leaflets and broadsides concerned with the founding of the Free Church; 70 items in the archives; supporting secondary materials of more than 100 circulating monographs.

BIBLIOGRAPHIC ACCESS

All titles are catalogued. Access is via the library’s online catalogue, Trellis. LC classification is used.

PHYSICAL ACCESS

The collection is open to the public. The regular hours of opening for circulating collections in the library are posted. Rare and archival collections are open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m. (4:30 p.m. in summer)

Interlibrary Loan:

Available except for rare and archival materials.

Reprography:

As the condition of the material warrants, and as the copyright allows.

Reference Assistance:

Yes.

PUBLICATIONS DESCRIBING COLLECTION

Reid, W. Stanford. -- "The Pamphlet Collection on the Church of Scotland's Disruption of 1843". -- Collection update. No. 7 (May 1983). -- [Guelph, Ont.]: University of Guelph Library, 1983.

SELECTIONS

Alexander Clark, Rights of the members of the Church of Scotland (1831)      rare books s0062b01

John Hope, Letter to the Lord Chancellor on the claims of the                      rare books  s0062b02
      Church of Scotland (1839)

Thomas Chalmers, What ought the Church and people of Scotland to         rare books  s0392b11
      do now? (1840)

Church of Scotland’s claim of right (1842)                                                    rare books s0393b03

John Bayne, Was the recent disruption of the Synod of Canada, in
      connection with the Church of Scotland, called for?
(1846)                  rare books  s0124b24

Three plain reasons : why all good people who have not left, should now
      leave the church established by law in Scotland
(184-)                         broadside s0392b05

United Secession Church, Declaration of the United Associate Synod (1825)  rare books s 0393b04


THE PAMPHLET COLLECTION ON THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND’S DISRUPTION OF 1843

As a number of Scottish historians have interpreted it, the disruption of the Church of Scotland and the formation of the Free Kirk in 1843 was next to the Reformation in importance in the history of modern Scotland.1 It was the withdrawal of more than half of the ministers and about one third of the laity from the established church, to form a new body free from government control. This movement in turn had an important influence in Canada through such a supporter of the Free Kirk as George Brown of the Toronto Globe, and resulted in the splitting of a large number of Presbyterian congregations across the continent. In Guelph, itself, for instance, more than half the members of St. Andrew’s Church left to form Knox Church.2 Thus, this movement has its effects, even today, very close to home.

The roots of the movement which led to the disruption go back to the Evangelical Revival of the late eighteenth century. Originating in England, under the influence of men such as George Whitefleld, the movement spread north into Scotland where it had exercised a very considerable influence. The result was twofold. On the one hand, there gradually grew up opposition to the heritors’, i.e. the landowners’ rights of patronage, by which they could present the ministers to the congregations in their areas. Although presbyteries had the duty to examine and approve the candidates, the pressure was often such that very often the church courts simply did as they were told, and not infrequently those appointed were not evangelical, and in fact not even very interested in the caffing to the ministry. On the other hand, the evangelical movement resulted in the establishment of new churches, usually ministered to by evangelical ministers who did not receive any support from the teinds (tithes), but were entirely dependent upon freewill offerings. Added to this, they were not recognized as members of the church courts, and so could have no say in its policies and actions. These two matters in turn led on to other developments with which we cannot deal in this short note.

By 1830 a conflict was beginning to develop between the evangelicals, who wanted patronage very carefully controlled and limited and who wanted the ministers of the “chapels of ease” (quoad sacra congregations) admitted to full status in the church courts, and those who opposed these ideas. The result was a pamphlet war, of which the university library has some 110 items, which is one of the largest collections of disruption pamphlets in existence. The collection is valuable as it gives a close-up picture of the controversy, which enables a student of the movement to gain a thorough understanding of the principles involved on both sides. Furthermore, in the various pamphlets one gains some understanding of the inside history of the Church of Scotland from the days of Knox and Andrew Melville.

The earliest of the pamphlets goes back to 1831, two or three years before what has been called “the Ten Years’ Conflict”.3 In that year the Rev. Alexander Clark published a pamphlet on The Rights of the Members of the Church of Scotland in which he insisted that ministers could be settled in congregations only if the members had called them. But this in turn led on to other questions. The heritors who paid the teinds claimed that according to the law, they had the right to determine who would be the minister, or at least who would receive the stipend on the principle that “he who pays the piper, calls the tune.” This led on to the whole question of whether the church should be established as a national church. The outcome was a series of court cases which eventually went on appeal to the Judicial Committee of the House of Lords.

Probably the most important case was that concerning the parish of Auchterarder, whose members had refused a presentee of the local patron who then appealed to the civil courts. The outcome was a long drawn court battle in which the Dean of Faculty, John Hope led the forces opposed to those who favored “non-intrusion.” In 1834 the General Assembly had passed a Veto Act which made it impossible for a considerable element in any congregation to block the appointment of a minister which it did not want, and somewhat later it had established a “non-intrusion committee” to take action to guarantee that unwelcome ministers would not be forced on congregations. Hope maintained that the Veto Act was ultra vires and also called in question the right of the Assembly to accept the ministers of chapels of ease as members of the church courts, thus giving a majority to the evangelical element.  Many of the pamphlets in the collection deal with this and similar cases, setting forth both sides.

From 1840 on the controversy became increasingly hot. Thomas Chalmers, Robert S. Candlish, Robert Buchanan, Hugh Miller and various other leaders on the evangelical side entered the pamphlet war with great vim and vigor, their pamphlets often running to around 75 or 80 pages of closely

packed reasoning. In return those who insisted that patronage must be continued and everything maintained as it had been, replied with equal volume. This latter group succeeded in gaining the support of the English element in parliament and generally the Scottish members in both Commons and Lords followed the same line. Lord Brougham was particularly anti-non-intrusionist.

Because of the rejection of the “non-intrusionist” claims by the House of Lords, Chalmers, Candlish and others called a special convocation in the spring of 1842 to consider what action should be taken. It was decided that withdrawal from the established church could be the only solution. As a result when the General Assembly met in May, the retiring Moderator, Rev. D. Welch, before vacating his position read a long statement “The Church of Scotland’s Claim of Right”, and then, followed by a large part of the assembly, he walked out through a cheering crowd and in another part of Edinburgh organized the Church of Scotland Free.

This, however, did not end the pamphlet war. Although some 450 ministers out of 750 had withdrawn from the Church of Scotland, those who remained proceeded to attack the rebels with pamphlets, sometimes even trying to persuade them to return to the fold. Their attempts, however, proved vain and the Free Kirk replies to their pamphlets were vigorous and unyielding. Led by Thomas Chalmers, the first Free Kirk assembly’s moderator, they were not prepared to return to the established church which they felt had sold out to the patrons and the government.

Reading the various pamphlets on both sides of the issue, one gains a clear picture not only of the legal and ecclesiastical issues involved, but also of the emotions which the controversy aroused throughout Scotland, and overseas in colonies such as the Canadas.

1          One of the best summary accounts of the disruption will be found in J.H.S. Burleigh, A church history of Scotland (London, 1960), pp. 334ff.

2          W.S. Reid, A century and a half of witness (Mississauga, Ont., 1980), p. 11.

3          R. Buchanan, The ten years’ conflict (Glasgow, 1954), 2 vols.

W.       STANFORD REID


SCOTTISH CHURCH AND RELIGIOUS HISTORY

        The Library’s archival, rare, and special collections section can be reached by taking the single elevator or stairs in the south-east corner (past the Circulation/Reserve area) to the lower level where researchers can use materials in the Wellington County Room. TRELLIS, the TriUniversity Libraries catalogue, is the primary tool for identifying and locating materials in Archival and Special Collections. TRELLIS can be accessed via the Library’s home web page (http://www.lib.uoguelph.ca), where various electronic resources, such the rare books in Early English Books Online and Eighteenth Century Collection Online are also available.

HISTORY

Collections on Scottish religious history commenced with the establishment of the History Department in 1965 and its chairman, W. Stanford Reid, who was particularly interested in Scottish church history. Grants from the Macdonald Stewart Foundation in the early 1970s were used to purchase primary materials for the early period of the Scottish Covenanters (1638-51), who had pledged to maintain the Presbyterian doctrine and polity as the sole religion of their country. In the 1980s, two major purchases were made. First, the acquisition of pamphlets on the followers of Richard Cameron, the Cameronian Covenanters, expanded the later covenanting period (1680-91). Second, about 200 items concerning the formation of the Catholic Apostolic Church founded by Edward Irving in the 1830s were acquired. After 1990, the library continued to acquire pamphlets and histories, many of these being located in the circulating holdings outside the rare book and special collections.

DESCRIPTION

The collection is particularly strong in primary materials of the early covenanting period. The later period of the Cameronian Covenanters (1681-1690) is well represented. Material on many aspects of Scottish religious and church history is collected with two exceptions. Scottish sermons are collected only if they are of interest beyond the purely theological, for example, sermons by the clergyman, Samuel Rutherford (1600-61), while primarily doctrinal and theological in nature, are in essence the justification for the actions of the Cameronian Covenanters in the 1680s. Another exception is that Scottish church hymnals are collected only to exemplify important changes in church policy or disputes. Overall, the greatest strength is the primary pamphlet and broadside material, which all sides of the controversy used to build and defend their cases. Pamphlets, monographs, and a few broadsides are represented in the collection for the Catholic Apostolic Church.

LANGUAGE

English predominates. Materials in any language for critical works and especially French and Latin for primary sources are collected if they are on the Covenanting period. Gaelic biblical material is limited to a few examples from significant periods of translations.

HOLDINGS

There are more than 3,000 monographs, theses, serials, pamphlets, maps, and archival resources. For the Covenanting period there are approximately 300 titles monographs, theses, pamphlets, maps, facsimile reprints and microforms; of these, about 100 items are rare books and there are 60 microfilm reels of related manuscript material are in the archives. For the Catholic Apostolic Church there are 200 pamphlets located in rare books.

BIBLIOGRAPHIC ACCESS

All titles are catalogued and access is via the library’s online catalogue, Trellis. LC classification is used.

PHYSICAL ACCESS

The collection is open to the public. The hours of opening for circulating books in the library are posted. Rare and archival collections are open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-4:45 p.m. (4:30 in summer).

Interlibrary Loan:

Available, except for rare and archival materials.

Reprography:

Yes, as the condition of the material warrants, and as the copyright allows.

Reference Assistance:

Yes.

SELECTIONS

Covenanters
John Scott, Covenanters confession of faith…  archives  XS1 MS A228 (boxed with XS1 MS A214)

Collection of documents relating to the Cameronian Covenanters     archives  XS1 MS A106 (boxed with XS1 MS A099)

James Kea, A sermon preached at Glasgow in Scotland (1679?)        rare books  s0541b30

John Glas, A narrative of the rise and progress of the                             rare books  s0197608
      controversy about the national covenants (1728)

Mark Napier, Montrose and the covenanters (1838)                                 rare books  s0104b16-17

Large declaration concerning the late tumults in Scotland (1640)      rare books s0538b35

A proclamation declaring Mr. Richard Cameron, and others               archives XS2 MS A007

      rebels and traitors (1680)

Catholic Apostolic Church

Edward Irving, Declaration from the National Scotch Church (1830)   rare books s0199b23

Thomas Carlisle, The church of Christ in her offices, gifts and

      privileges taken solely from the word of God (1834)                         rare books s0197b34

John Bate Cardale, The confession of the church (1848)                        rare books s0199b24

 

There are a lot of pamphlets of the Scottish Disruption...

 


Return to Library 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