Archibald Allan.

History of Channelkirk online

. (page 23 of 50)
Online LibraryArchibald AllanHistory of Channelkirk → online text (page 23 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



Many cases of body-snatching are spoken of, but the
above seems to have impressed itself most upon the
memories of the inhabitants. The " big woman at the
Dass " was the last case of lifting. She was buried on a
Saturday, and when the worshippers came to church next
day, an open grave and scattered earth were all that re-
mained to tell where she had been laid.



Its "Bad Eminence" in Church Histories — In Twelfth and Thirteenth
Centuries — Worth and Wealth of the Monks — Dryburgh Abbey and
the Titulars of Channelkirk — Stipend during the Years 1620-1900 —
Heritors and Agents — Cess Rolls.

It is a matter of some regret that discussions on stipend
have been so prominent in histories of the Church of Scotland.
This " bad eminence " has been given to them by necessity.
The humble penny, as much an " aid to devotion " as to
honesty, instead of being regulated in ecclesiastical affairs by
a sympathetic common sense, has been absurdly exalted to
the glittering pedestals of moral law. It has been held, for
example, that " Blessed be ye poor " means " Blessed is
poverty," and that a poor church is essential to the main-
tenance of a pure church. It is thus that a senseless ethic
has starved many a manse, just as in days bypast a criminal
text burned many a poor old woman as a witch. The sorrow
of it also continues in the fact that equally under national
law and the desires of the dissenting people, the starvation
still proceeds. Perhaps the reason is to be found in the
acquired instincts of Scottish theology, which has construed
the path of the minister to be more consonant to that of holi-
ness when shadowed with misery and stained with blood. The
" old clo' " of the Jews still cling to us in this as in much else.


It is between the years 1165-89 that we have the first
historical reference to the maintenance of Channelkirk priest.
Richard de Morville then concedes and confirms to the
brethren of Dryburgh Abbey " the gifts of my father (Hugh
de Morville) which, with himself, he gave to them, viz., the
Church of Childenchirch with all those pertinents with which
Godfrey the priest held it on the day in which my father
assumed the canonical dress."*

Although the " pertinents " are not specified, it is not
difficult to infer from other sources that the endowment of
the church was in land, together with the tenths of the
produce of certain land-districts. The Church of North-
umbria and the Lothians was an offshoot from the Columban
Church in both' its cHaracteristics of spiritual jurisdiction and
monastic practices, and assurning, as we may safely do, that
.Channelkirk Church was Columban before it was Roman
Catholic, the condition' of life of its ministers before Godfrey's
day is riot wholly unknown to us. Bede has shown us that
many Irishmen (Scots) came daily into Britain, preaching
the word of faith with great devotion to those provinces of
the Angles over which King Oswald reigned. " Churches
were built in several places : the people joyfully ' flocked
together to hear the word : money and lands were given of
the King^s bounty to build monasteries. \

The example set by the King was generally followed by
his vassals, and wherever a church existed, the owners of
land endowed it, according to their zeal and faith, with
portions of the land ; and ordained that the tenths (following
the Jewish systerri) should be forthcoming from certain parts
farmed by their followers and henchmen.

* Liber de Driburgh, Charter No. 8.

^ Ecclesiastical History., Book III., chap. iii.


When, therefore, we read that King Malcolm (1153-65)
confirmed to Dryburgh Abbey the donations of Hugh and
Robert (Richard) de Morville, viz. : " Channelkirk Church,
with land adjacent to it, and everything justly pertaining to
it," we are not to suppose that the De Morvilles had
originally endowed Channelkirk Church, or built it, but that
they had given it as it stood, and as they found it on their
Lauderdale lands ; while the priest of it was also to be
preserved in the rights, privileges, and emoluments with
which he had held it prior to the time of their coming into

It is not possible, perhaps, at this distant date, to arrive
at any clear statement as to the exact value of the priest's
" living," though we may venture to do so approximately.
We have no doubt that it would be a " sufficient " living, for
in those days, and while the Church was Roman, the labourer
in God's vineyard was never grudged and denied, as he is
now, a comfortable and respectable maintenance.

To the modern starvationist, it must be galling to read
that about 1220 quite an embarrassment of riches befell
Channelkirk Church. The treasury must have been bursting
with wealth : pious people were so mistaken ! Land in
abundance, arable as well as meadow, was gifted to it by
a foolish person called Henry, son of Samson. He measures
it from Pilmuir to Wennesheued (Fens-head ?), and from
Wennesheued to Bradestrotherburn, and from there to the
Leader. He also flings all the pertinents after the land; so
reckless was he ! Channelkirk held an interest also in those
days in the lands of Threeburnford. She looked upon' ten
acres to the immediate east of the church as her own
patrimony, with the addition of much land " adjacent to " the
church, an endowment of which there is no definition given.



but which we have reason to believe included all the lands of
Kirklandhill estate, now Kirktonhill. To all these we must
add eight acres in the Haugh opposite what is now Mount-
mill steading. But even in those degenerate times, the high
officers of the Church heard their days before them, and
caught a glimmering of that purifying policy which rejoices
at present the latter-day starvationist. The priest in
Channelkirk parish was not allowed to wallow in so much
wealth. The monks of Dryburgh first milked the cow,
and then permitted him to lick the outside of the milk-
pail. This, as it is yet believed, taught him self-denial, self-
sacrifice, and more and more to die daily unto sin and live
unto righteousness. But we are far from lamenting his case.
Even the outside of the pail was worth licking in those
days, and, as we shall see, was flaked with a greater
richness of cream than is to be found inside of it in modern

We arrive at some glimmering conception of the value
of the stipend of Channelkirk priest in the thirteenth
century in the following way : —

(i.) He received ^lo annually for serving the cure at
Channelkirk, and also supplying Lauder.*

According to Adam Smith, ;^i in the twelfth century was
equal to ^3 in his time.f In proportional or exchangeable
value, this sum has been by some writers calculated much
higher. Therefore, the least stipend which the priest of
Channelkirk could have was of ;^30 value. This looks at
first sight a small enough amount to satisfy even our modern
starvationists. But in 1264 one could buy for ;^io, 20 chalders
of barley; and a chalder of oatmeal (14 bolls) cost exactly

* Liber de Driburgh^ passim.

t Wealth of Nations^ chap, i., p. 2?

London, Third Edition, 1784.


^i.* This being the case, his stipend was worth far more to
him in purchasing power than is the Channelkirk stipend at
the present day, which is equal to 14 chalders " half barley, half
oats." At that date he might have bought 10 chalders of
oatmeal : an amount which should have kept the porridge-
pot eloquent for some time. For it meant 140 bolls : surely
a royal girnel-full ! Yet it was the staple food.

But this was not all his " living." We must add to this
amount (2.) his Vicarage Teinds. These were by no means
the least part of the stipend. They were often superior to
the rectorial or great teinds, and were drawn from hay, stock
produce, lambs, calves, dairy and garden produce, and such
like. And there was yet a more lucrative source of revenue.
Professor Cosmo Innes says, "The large part of clerical
emoluments came from offerings at Easter and other feasts,
dues by marriage, baptisms, and, heaviest of all, funeral
dues." t

The stipend of Channelkirk, therefore, in the middle of
the thirteenth century, was derived from the following
sources : —

1. Channelkirk and Lauder, ^10.

2. Vicarage teinds, hay, dairy produce, garden do., stock do.

3. Feast-offerings, marriage fees, baptism do., death do.

The vicarage teinds and feast-offerings were in all

likelihood by far the wealthier reservoirs. But if we

reckon each of these only at the value of the stipend, which,

independently of Lauder, he would have had as the vicar

of Channelkirk, viz., 10 merks — for no vicar could have

less — and rating the merk at 13s. 4d., this sum would

mean ^6, 13s. 4d., or the value of nearly 14 chalders of

* See Tytler's History of Scotland^ vol. ii.
^ Leg. Ajitiq., Lect. iv., p. 161.


barley. Doubling this amount gives us 28 chalders, and
adding this to the former value of 20 chalders, we seem
justified in assuming that the total stipend in 1268 would
rise to something like 48 chalders of barley. The present
stipend, as we have stated, is of the value of 14 chalders,
half oats, half barley. Of course such preposterous affluence
had to be purged from the priestly office. To our starva-
tionist friends this condition of matters must appear to
have been full of potential carnalities. The clergy, then,
were indeed the almoners of the poor ; they were the only
historians, lawyers, and doctors ; they were the chief legis-
lators ; they were the best landlords ; they introduced
agriculture and the arts. As a matter of local interest, if we
are not mistaken, they were the founders of the Border wool
trade. But their influence was also national. When the
independence of Scotland was in jeopardy, it was they who
stood side by side with Wallace when our aristocracy left
him to his fate. They hid him ; they fed him ; they
prayed for him ; they sent his foes to hell for him. They
were zealous, earnest men ; eager for their country's welfare;
open-handed, wide-hearted, with a religious creed far closer
in touch with human sympathies than anything of that
kind produced in Scotland since. And we believe it is
astonishing to our starvationists that all these ameliorating
and civilising influences should not have been amply carried
forward and sustained on something equivalent to the
modern stipend of ;^2C)0 a year.

But however the facts of history may now be balanced,
and whether or not we may trace to the affluence of the
priests that immorality and debauchery which, for fifty
years or thereby before the Reformation, disgraced their
conduct, we may be allowed to believe that Channelkirk


priest, at least, continued to wallow in the grossness of his
48-chalder values until there came the ever-hallowed year
of 1560, and cleanness of teeth for the ministers. The
nobles were, of course, the chief starvationists of that time,
and it must be admitted that they carried but their sancti-
fying and purifying duties nobly and well. Our minister,
indeed, was so purified in their furnace of refining that he
etherealized away into space and became " a blessed ghost ! "
The gain was immense ; for the minister of Lauder, besides
officiating in his own church, also supplied Channelkirk and
Bassendean ; and thus, instead of three stipends, one fed
the three parishes with spiritual pemmican. Even for
him, a little tightening of the belt helped to meekness, and
when entire holiness was desired, the neck was stretched !

About 1567, Mr Ninian Borthuik gets his stipend from
Lauder and Channelkirk to the extent of ;^40, "with the
thryd of his prebendrye extending to xj lib, 2s. 2d. lob."
For these two charges, that is, he was paid ;^5i, 2s. 2|d.
Scots money.

The same " Maister Niniane Borthuik, minister," appears
to have also supplied " Bassenden " in the Merse, for
which he received £66, 13s. 4d. Scots, "with the kirkland
of Ersiltoun." * In 1576, the reader at Channelkirk received
",^16, with the Kirkland, to be pait thairof the thrid of the
vicarage, £^, lis, od."i* The reader's name is not given.
Scott's Fasti gives his name as John Gibsoun, From
£\6 to ;i^20, with or without Kirkland, was the usual
stipend of a reader about this time.

From 1560 till i6ii, fifty-one years, there was no minister
in Channelkirk, and a brief sketch of the circumstances

* Register of Ministers, Reiders^ etc.

t Buik of Assignations of the Minis teris and Readars Stipendis.


and of the men who directly influenced the condition of its
stipend then, and until this day, may be permitted to fill
up that space of time.

Dryburgh Abbey, with other religious houses, was an-
nexed to the Crown after the Reformation, and all the
churches under it went with it. A liferent reservation was
made, however, in favour of the commendator, David Erskine,
who entered that office 1556. This reservation included
the tithes, which kept Channelkirk emoluments in direct
connection with the Abbey. As " modest and honest and
shamefast " David was a prominent and influential political
partisan of the reform party of his day, he found it more
convenient to lease Channelkirk teinds, as did also the
commendators immediately preceding him.

Accordingly, about 1535, Cuthbert Cranstoune and Sir
Robert Formane pay in rental to Dryburgh Abbey for the
Kirk of Channelkirk £66, 13s. 4d. Scots (100 merks), and
they continue to do so till the year 1560. Cuthbert
Cranstoun vvas then resident in Thirlestane Mains, and
seems to have been a quiet, inoffensive man, although his
family were often wild and lawless in their behaviour. He
was "prolocutor for pannale in the case of slaughter of
Stevin Bromfield, laird of Grenelawdene, 1564." His son,
John Cranstoun, in 1560, committed crimes of treason and
leze majesty, but was pardoned in 1578 (Acts of Pari., iii., 109).
John's sons, Thomas and John, were also, with many others,
subject to a process of treason raised in 1592 in Parliament,
and their posterity was disinherited. But in 1604 His Majesty
restores to "his heines lovit Maister Thomas Cranstoun of
Morestoun," and John Cranstoun, his brother germane, their
" lyffes, landis, gudis," etc., and rehabilitates their posterity
in their said rights.



Alexander Cranstoun, mentioned below, is served heir
to his father, Thomas Cranstoun of Morestoun, in Burn-
castle, in Lauder, September 4, 1607. The same year he also
holds Ernescleuch and Egrop, and in 1609 gets Birkensyde,
as heir to Cuthbert Cranstoun.*

Sir Robert Formane was doubtless a relative of Arch-
bishop Andrew Forman, Superior of Dryburgh, during the
reigns of James IV. and James V. About 15 12 he was
Commendator of Dryburgh Abbey, resigned in 1506, and
died in I522.-|- The Forman family was of Hatton, Berwick-
shire, and Sir John Forman, brother of Andrew, married
Helen Rutherford, one of the heiresses of Rutherford of
Rutherford in Teviotdale,

It appears that Cuthbert Cranstoun and Sir Robert
Forman divided Channelkirk teinds between them in the
lease. In subsequent leases, at least, the Cranstoun share
was always a half of the teinds, and probably no more was
ever held by that house.

When the Reformation came, great changes took place
in the payment of ministers, but as Channelkirk had no
minister till 161 1, it is a clear inference that nearly all its
emoluments went into the secular purse.

In 1604, John, Earl of Mar, received from King James
VI. a grant of Dryburgh Abbey, together with the Abbey
of Cambuskenneth and the Priory of Inchmahome. The
King afterwards erected Dryburgh into a temporal lordship
and peerage, and on loth June 16 10 the Earl of Mar was
created Lord Cardross. In 161 5 Lord Mar obtains another
charter, in which we find the stipend of Chingilkirk set
down at 300 libras (^300 Scots), or £2$ sterling. An
augmentation must have been given a few years afterwards,
* Retours. t Walcot's History.


as we learn from what follows. In 1620 the King "concedes
to Alexander Cranston of Morrestoun " (noticed above) " and
to his heirs masculine and assigns whomsoever the lands
of Burncastle, with holdings, etc., half the great tenths
(garbales), the tenths of wool and lambs, rectorial and
vicarage, of the Church and Parish of Chingilkirk (possessed
by the said Alexander) in the bailiary of Lauderdale and
sheriffdom of Berwick, which lands the same Alexander,
and which tenths (sometime part of the lordship of Cardross)
John, Earl of Marr, with consent of Henry Erskine, his
second son . . . resigned ; and which tenths the King dis-
solved from the said lordship and united to the said lands
inseparably — being held in blench firm : Returning for the
lands two pounds of pepper ; for the tenths, 40 shillings,
as part of the blench firm due from the said lordship ;
and relieving the said Earl of half the minister's stipend
at the Church of Chingilkirk, extending to 250 merks, and
from other burdens," etc. . . *

The full stipend in 1620 must, therefore, have been 500
merks. This was the minimum stipend which a minister
might receive by the Act of Parliament of 1617, the
maximum being 800 merks. Channelkirk stipend was thus,
in curling phrase, " ower the hog," but no more. The " hog
score" of the present time is ^200; and, indeed, a con-
siderable amount of laborious " soopin," in bazaars and
other pursey places is necessary to effect this merciful result.
Principal John Cunningham notes that in 161 7, 500 merks
was equal to 5 chalders of victual.-f- MacGeorge says : " At
a period long after this (1595) the stipend of the first charge
in Glasgow was 500 merks, equal, at that time, to only

■'^ Great Seal.

t History of Church of Scotland, vol. i., p. 502. Second Edition.



£27, 15s. 6d."* The first charge of Glasgow and Chanhel-
kirk were thus, as far as stipend is concerned, on an equal
footing at one time !

The Kers of Morristoun subsequently succeeded the
Cranstouns in Channelkirk teinds.

Owing to the miserable condition into which the stipends
of the ministers had fallen up till 1627, the King, on the 7th
January of that year, issued a Commission to take the matter
in hand, and have it settled once and for ever. Sub-Com-
missions were established all over the country to value the
teinds and otherwise assist the High Commission, and
between 1627 and 1633, when Parliament sanctioned these
proceedings and made them law, good solid work was done,
which was intended for peace. The fifth part of the rental
of the land was declared to be the value of the teind, and so
much of this was apportioned to the minister as the Com-
missioners of teinds thought sufficient.

The High Commission was composed of prelates, nobles,
barons, and burgesses, and the Sub-Commissions of the leading
men in their districts. The Sub-Commission to the Presbytery,
for Lauder district, and which adjudicated in Lauder Tolbooth
on Channelkirk teinds and stipend, comprised, for example,
such names as Raulf Ker, who was Moderator, Robert Lauder
of that Ilk, William Pringall of Cortelferrie, William Crans-
toun in Morristoun, Robert Pringle, and Hugh Bell, with
Gilbert Murray, officer, and Charles Singileir (Sinclair)
Dempster. The Sub-Commissioners, who were bound to
know the district best, were inclined to rate the stipend
lower than the High Commission, who seemed to view the
case not so much as what would actually " keep the minister,"
as what was due to his profession and social position. That
* The Church of Scotland^ vol. iv., p. 55.



both were as scrimp as decency could permit proves that not
the nobles alone were infected with the poverty-purity
principle, but that the country lairds also were convinced
of the salutary influence of poor stipends upon the morals
of the Church.

In 1627 the various " rowmes " in the parish (with their
names modernized), paid as under : —






I. Bowerhouses .

300 merks

100 merks


2. CoUielaw ....

500 merks

TOO merks

80 merks

3. Over Howden .

600 merks


TOO merks

4. Airhouse ....

160 merks



5. Threeburnford .

i ^160



6. Nether Hartside

! 600 merks

80 merks

100 merks

7. Glints . . . .

500 merks


icx) merks

8, Over Hartside .

300 merks

20 merks

40 merks

9. Glengelt ....

' 1000 merks


100 merks

10. Headshaw and Haugh .

400 merks

100 merks


II. Midlie . . . .

100 merks

20 merks


12. Fairnielies

. 200 merks


40 merks

13. Kelphope . . . .

1 300 merks



14. Friarsknowes .

' £^0


10 merks

15. Hazeldean . .

200 merks

20 merks

40 merks

16. Herniecleuch .



20 merks

17. Hillhouse

400 merks

50 merks

50 merks

18. Carfrae Mains .

■ 500 merks



19. Carfrae Mill

300 merks

40 merks

20 merks

20. Nether Howden

1 600 merks



21. Wiselaw Mill .

, 100 merks

10 merks


22, Oxton ....

900 merks



23. Heriotshall


50 merks

10 merks

24. Kirktonhill

200 merks

80 merks

50 merks

25. Kirkland of Kirkhaugh .

' i:4o

/8160 merks
I plus ^520

670 merks

760 merks

plus ^636

plus ;^324



Taking the Scots merk equal to is. i|d. sterling, and the
Scots pound equal to is. 8d., the stock of the whole parish
amounted to £\^2, 13s. 4d. sterling.

The parsonage teind equalled a total of ;^90, 4s. SxV^*

The vicarage teind amounted to ;^69, 4s. S/jd. sterling.

The whole teind, parsonage and vicarage, of the parish,
therefore, in 1627 amounted to ;^I59, 8s. iOx\d, sterling,
according to the Rev. Henry Cockburn's statement. Of
course, if he had pocketed the full teinds, as was his right,
he would have been rolling in wealth, but his annual share
was 500 merks, or £2^, 15s. 6d., and this sum deducted from.
;^I59, 8s. lod., leaves ;^i3i, 13s. 4d., which went annually into
the purses of the Titulars. The last-mentioned sum was, of
course, the unexhausted or free teind, from which subsequent
augmentations were drawn or extorted.

The outcome of the valuations made by the High Com-
mission about 1630-32 seem to have raised Channelkirk
stipend .somewhat, and also fixed a rule of conversion. It
is set forth in these words : " At Halirud house the 25 March
1632 years. . . . Att which tyme, the valuation being
perfectly closed and the kirk provided sufficiently, the saids
Commissioners in presens of the sds parties compearand
decerned the pryces of buying and selling of the parsonage
teinds victuall within the said paroch (Ginglekirk) as follows,
vizt., Price of ilk boll of bear, 5 lib. 6s. 8d. (;^5, 6s. 8d.), pryce
of ilk boll of oats, 3 lib. money." *

In 1 69 1 an augmentation was obtained, and we ascertain

from the copy of both old and new stipend of that date,

preserved by Rev. David Scott in his Minute-Book, of date

175 1, that the old stipend, previous to 1 691, was ;^5i4, us. 6d.

* Decreet of Locality, p. 139.


Scots, or say ;^42, 17s. 6d. sterling. The minister had, as we
have seen, ;^27, 15s. 6d. in 1627. About 1630-32 he seems to
have received an augmentation equal to ;^I5 sterling, or
thereby, raising the total stipend to thie above sum. An
augmentation was again given in 1691, to the extent of
;^93, 19s. Scots, or nearly £y, i6s. 8d. sterling. This, added
to the sum already stated, reached ;^6o8, los. 6d. Scots, or
about ;^50, 14s. sterling. To this money payment it appears
there was added 2 stones of cheese, 6 bolls of bear, and 10
bolls of oats.*

The Rev. David Scott began his ministry in Channelkirk
in 1752, and he notes that his first year's stipend, in-
dependent of the above victual stipend, amounted only to
;^543, IS. lod. Scots, instead of ;^6o8, los. 6d. The defect
is alleged to have been due to non-payment by the Titular,
Ker of Morieston,t of 100 merks {£66, 13s. 4d.), of which
emolument Mr Scott either seems to have been ignorant
and never claimed, or that his predecessor and he conjointly
had never claimed, until forty years had passed, and it was
lost by dereliction. In his days began the long wars of

Online LibraryArchibald AllanHistory of Channelkirk → online text (page 23 of 50)