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«Shukman, Ann Margaret (2012) The fall of Episcopacy in Scotland 1688MPhil(R) thesis. Copyright and moral rights for ...»

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Shukman, Ann Margaret (2012) The fall of Episcopacy in Scotland 1688MPhil(R) thesis.


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1688-1691 Ann Margaret Shukman MPhil


History June 2011 © Ann Shukman 2011 ABSTRACT


1688-1691 Thesis submitted for MPhil degree 2011 This thesis attempts to shed light on a little-studied moment in the history of the Williamite revolution in Scotland, namely what factors led to the abolition of episcopacy in July 1689 and the establishment of Presbyterian church government in June 1690. It attempts to analyse the various political forces at play and the ideas which motivated the lead figures.

Chapter One William of Orange and the Scots This chapter discusses the status of the Scottish bishops in the Restoration Church of Scotland, their distinction from the bishops of the Church of England. It describes the coming of William, the return of the Scottish exiles with him, and the gathering of the Scottish notables in London in the winter of 1688/9. The much-quoted account by bishop Rose is critically analysed. The pro-episcopal and pro-Presbyterian factions are identified. The Presbyterian appeal to William and the Memorial written in answer by Sir George Mackenzie and viscount Tarbat are discussed.

Chapter Two Episcopacy Abolished The main part of the chapter is devoted to the Convention of the Estates and the first session of Parliament: how the Presbyterians with radical political ideas won control. The Claim of Right and Act of Grievances, and the Club’s challenge to William. The resonance of the Club’s agenda with the political aims of the Covenanting period, are analysed. The frustrations of the Parliamentary session which resulted in the abolition of episcopacy, but not the establishment of Presbyterianism.

Chapter Three Rabblings and Deprivations This chapter examines in some details the reasons for the radicalization of the south-west of Scotland: the influence of the Protesters and the religious revivalist movement of the mid-century. The role of the Cameronians in the rabblings is examined and the ideas current among them. The documentary material gathered by John Sage is assessed. The Cameronians and the Convention. The second part of the chapter describes the deprivations ordered by the Privy Council in April 1689, John Sage’s conspiracy theory, William’s failure to understand the particularly Scottish ideas within Presbyterianism, his distraction by the international context and threats of invasion.

Chapter Four Explosive tracts and secret manoeuvrings This chapter focuses mainly on the life and thought of Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees, the author of the June 1690 Act restoring Presbyterianism. As the co-author of Naphtali (1667) and author of Jus Populi (1671) Stewart’s thought, it is suggested, derives from the traditions of Buchanan and Melville, which came together in Rutherford. An attempt is made to analyse the response to Stewart’s works by bishop Andrew Honyman. Alexander Shields is seen as a continuation of Stewart’s work. A comparison is made between Stewart and Shields in their response to the revolution. Some account is given of Stewart’s motives as close collaborator with Melfort at the end of James VII’s reign. His ambiguous career is assessed.

Chapter Five A Presbyterian Victory This chapter deals first with the Parliamentary session of 1690 and the preliminaries to it. An assessment of the role of Bentinck, and of the Committee for Church Affairs. An analysis of the Act of Settlement and William’s failed attempts to made it more moderate. The debates. Other legislation including the abolition of patronage. The second part of the chapter deals with the General Assembly and the preliminary meetings before it opened. The problems facing the small number of restored Presbyterians. The work of the Assembly is described and the problems over the re-entry of three Cameronians to the Kirk.

Chapter Six Purging the Universities and the Parishes The fate of the bishops and their inactivity. The Edinburgh ‘protoEnlightenment’. The list of names of those serving on the commissions to purge the universities is given. A detailed account is presented of the interrogation and eventual dismissal; of Alexander Monro, principal of Edinburgh. The list of names of those appointed to the General Assembly commissions to purge the church is given, and their activities. William’s reaction and his failure to get the next General Assembly to agree.

–  –  –

DNB – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography DSCHT – Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology RSCHS – Records of the Scottish Church History Society Leven and Melville – Letters and Papers chiefly addressed to George, earl of Melville, 1689-91, Edinburgh, 1843 (Bannatyne Club, vol. 81).



–  –  –

This dissertation is an attempt to shed light on the events and circumstances that brought about the fall of episcopacy in Scotland, the personalities involved and the ideas that motivated them. The period covered is from late 1688 to 1691, that is. from the coming of William of Orange until the aftermath of the first General Assembly of the revolutionary age.

It is the contention of this dissertation that the abolition of the order of bishops and the establishment of Presbyterianism was not a foregone conclusion. The Restoration Church of Scotland was, after all, founded on Presbyterian structures – kirk sessions, presbyteries, and synods – with the bishops re-imposed by the monarch to preside over the synods and ordain the clergy. True there was no General Assembly and the role of elders was much diminished, but in church practice there was little to distinguish the Restoration Church from what had come before, a point that was made by many English visitors. It can be argued that for most Scots the realities of parish life continued in their accustomed way and people were mostly indifferent as to whether the Church of Scotland was labelled as ‘Presbyterian’ or ‘episcopalian’. This was not true, however, of the south-west where the spirit of the Covenant lived on, becoming more radicalized by the ‘Protester’ movement, whose fiery declarations, fuelled by the ham-fisted efforts of the Stuart government to suppress rebellion, erupted into an on-off guerrilla war. The Cameronians of the south-west stood for ‘pure Presbytery’ and were defiant of any interference at all from the civil authorities; they initiated the systematic evictions (the ‘rabblings’) of the clergy in the southwest. Their views were shared by many, but by no means all, of the Scottish exiles living in the Netherlands who flocked back to Scotland with William of Orange and who looked to him to put an end to the Catholicism and arbitrary rule of James VII. The radical majority of the Scottish Convention of Estates and Scottish Parliament of 1689 (the ‘Club’), however, pressed primarily for political change and only incidentally for ecclesiastical change: it can be argued that the abolition of the order of bishops was as much a political move to weaken the Committee of Articles (a body which the parliament had failed to get abolished) than a move to re-establish Presbyterianism. Nonetheless systematic evictions of clergy, not by the mob, but by order of the Privy Council, continued in southern Scotland. It is not until the next session of Parliament in 1690 that the voices of politically and ideologically motivated Presbyterians, most notably Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees, become dominant, the result being the establishment by Parliament of an exclusivist and hard-line form of Presbyterianism in the summer of 1690. The ensuing General Assembly of the autumn of 1690 gave further sanction to the continuing eviction of all episcopally ordained clergy. The result was the destruction of the Restoration Church of Scotland, not only its bishops, but also almost its entire parish system. The pamphlet war (not examined in this work) which erupted after these events polarized the antagonists into ‘episcopalians’ and ‘presbyterians’, thereby creating a kind of smoke-screen of propaganda behind which the actuality of what happened has been lost. In general Scottish historiography has either overlooked, or distorted, the cultural revolution and church purge of 1688-91.

Tim Harris in Revolution: the Great Crisis of the British Monarchy has written of this period in Scottish history, the Glorious Revolution in Scotland has been poorly understood because it has been so little studied. No full-scale treatment of the events of the winter and spring of 1688-89 exists that is comparable to those we possess for England, and we have no scholarly analysis of the Scottish constitutional settlement of 1689 (as encapsulated in the Claim of Right and the Articles of Grievances) on a par with what we have for the English Declaration of Rights.1 Tim Harris, Revolution: The Great Crisis of the British Monarchy 1685-1720, (London, 2007), p.365.

If we lack political analysis for those events, even more do we lack ecclesiastical analysis. There is no history of late seventeenth-century Presbyterianism, no study of the many strands that stretched from the extremist Cameronian ideology which rejected all interference from the State, to the more accommodating, ‘Erastian’ way of thinking, or of the way that people moved across them. There has been no study of the effect of King James’s Indulgences, for instance. Crucially too there has been no full study of the political ideas of the Presbyterians, or of the legacy of the Covenant.

A pioneering work in this field was William Law Mathieson’s Politics and Religion: A Study in Scottish History from the Reformation to the Revolution (Glasgow, 1902) which is balanced and still valuable. More recently Clare Jackson’s Restoration Scotland, 1660-1690: Royalist Politics, Religion and Ideas (Woodbridge, 2003) fills a large gap in the intellectual history of Scotland in the late Stuart period without, however, embedding her findings in the political realities of the time. For pure politics P.W.J. Riley’s King William and the Scottish Politicians (Edinburgh, 1979) is exhaustive, but because of his deliberate exclusion of any consideration of ideological or religious motivation, is lacking in depth.

For ideological background to the period John Coffey’s Politics, Religion and the British Revolutions: the Mind of Samuel Rutherford (Cambridge, 2002) is invaluable as is E. Calvin Beisner’s unpublished PhD thesis on James Stewart of Goodtrees: His Majesty’s Advocate: Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees and Covenant Resistance Theory under the Restoration (St Andrews, PhD, 2002) which concentrates mainly on his Covenanting writings and has rather less to say about his political activities in the Revolution period. On the ecclesiastical background to the period there are valuable studies of the Restoration church by Julia Buckroyd (Church and State in Scotland, 1660-1681, Edinburgh, 1980; The Life of James Sharp, Edinburgh 1987), and by W.R. Foster (Bishop and Presbytery, London, 1958).

On the Episcopalians Tristram Clarke’s detailed unpublished study, The Scottish Episcopalians, 1689-1720 (Edinburgh PhD, 1987) provides a wealth of valuable archive material not available anywhere else. David Bertie’s Scottish Episcopal Clergy, 1689-2000 (Edinburgh, 2000), which gives potted biographies of all episcopally ordained clergy, is an indispensable work of reference. For the Episcopalians of the Aberdeen region, Ian Butterworth’s 1978 thesis, Episcopalians in Scotland 1689-1745 with special reference to the North-East and the Diocese of Aberdeen (MTh, unpublished, Aberdeen) has much of value.

For the Presbyterians, apart from the magnificent Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae, one quickly enters the world of hagiography: a notable example of the genre for this period being John Warrick’s Moderators of the Church of Scotland, from 1690 to 1740 (Edinburgh and London, 1914). Like a breath of fresh air is Hector Macpherson’s The Cameronian Philosopher Alexander Shields (Edinburgh and London, 1932), important among other respects for the negotiations of the Cameronians with the established church.

A scrupulous piece of recent research is Ginny Gardner’s The Scottish Exile Community in the Netherlands, 1660-1690, (East Linton, 2004) which has an excellent chapter on the involvement of the exiles in Revolution politics.

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography with its frequently updated entries available on-line has been an essential tool. Rather less rewarding for this period is the Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology (Edinburgh 1993).

Newer publications that have proved useful for particular chapters include, for Chapter One, in addition to Tim Harris’s Revolution, Roger Morrice’s extraordinary Entring Book (eds. Stephen Taylor, Mark Knights, et al., vols. iv,v,vi, Woodbridge, 2007) a vivid contemporary diary of events at William’s court. Morrice, an English non-conformist, who had personal links with the Scots, provides factual information and commentary not available elsewhere. For Chapter Two, John R. Young’s ‘The Scottish Parliament and the Covenanting Heritage of Constitutional Reform’, 2002, puts the demands of the Club in a historical perspective. For Chapter Three light on an obscure but important aspect of Scottish religious life is shed by Leigh Eric Schmidt’s Holy Fairs: Scottish Communions and American Revivals in the early modern period (Princeton, 1989). For Chapter Four, E. Calvin Beisner’s thesis (mentioned above) has been vital. For Chapter Five two new Dutch studies,

David Oonekink’s study of the earl of Portland, The Anglo-Dutch Favourite:

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