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effected at this time there can be no doubt. All property
was placed on a new basis by the new rulers from England
and Normandy, and church government was entirely re-
volutionised, war and suppression being the order of the
day, the old Celtic church illustrating once more the words
of the ancient bard, " His race came forth in their years ;
they came forth to war, but they always fell." But, without
hesitation, we lay the heaviest burden of the fifty years'
strife on the shoulders of Sir Richard de Morville. All
the circumstances point to him as the original instigator.
Proud, imperious, and quarrelsome, a favourite with the
king, and occupying the highest office in the kingdom, he
would ill brook the sinister influence of priests in his
affairs. On every side he was at daggers drawn with them,
though in his closing days he was glad to find grace and a
home in Melrose monastery like his father before him.*
Dryburgh and Melrose on the south, Glasgow and Kilwinning
in the west, and, fiercest of all, St Andrews on the north.
The chaplains or priests of Lauder Church would, in these
circumstances be cradled and nursed in the spirit and habits
of mutiny. They could scarcely resist the contaminating
atmosphere of insurrection created by him. And when,
in defiance of all authority, Eymeric held his church and

* Mon, Annals^ p. 263.


teinds by force, he was only emulating the irascible lord who
seems never to have permitted considerations of a safe neck
to baulk the regal instincts of his will. Moreover, the lords
of Galloway who followed the De Morvilles, and were, doubt-
less, contemporaries of Eymeric, were not likely to be less

Thus, with the powerful help of Rome and St Andrews,
the canons of Dryburgh vindicated their rights to the ad-
vowson of Lauder Church. John de Balliol had asserted at
one stage of the law case, that he had been appointed patron
to Lauder Church,* but, of course, after the final sentence
which removed Eymeric, any such pretension on his part,
either to interpose in his behalf, or prefer another priest in
his room, was useless. Nevertheless, we find him, in 1268,
gracefully resigning what could no longer be retained, and in
this way the legal features of the case compose themselves
quite becomingly to the inevitable trend of the circum-
stances.-f- " The whole right and claim which we (viz., John
de Balliol, for ourselves, our spouse Devorgilla, and our
heirs) have, or can have in the right of the patronage of the
same Church " (of Lauder), " is given into the hands of the
Venerable in Christ, Lord Gameline, Bishop of St Andrews,"
although a suggestive clause is added after the resignation of
" the whole right and claims," viz., " as far as they belonged to
us." This resignation is carefully noted and carried forward
with much dignity through Charters 9, 10, li, in the year
1268 ; and in dr. 1269, Charter 12 tells us that Lauder Church
is quit-claimed " for six chaplains." In that year Balliol dies,
and in ctr. 1270 (Charter 13), Lady Balliol, "in her widowhood,"
confirms her late husband's deeds of resignation. She herself
dies in 1290.

* Charter 279. f Charters 9, 10, 11.


It is in the same year, 1268, that we learn that provision
had been made whereby Channelkirk priest should " make
obedience " for Lauder Church as well as for his own (Charters
40, 41). "But the vicar who shall serve in the Church of
Childinchirch, otherwise Childenkirk, and who, moreover,
shall officiate in the Church of Childenkirk as well as in the
Chapel of Lauder, shall receive from the forenamed Abbey and
Convent ten pounds sterling yearly, at the two forenamed terms
of the year (Pentecost and Martinmas), and the said Abbey
and Convent shall endeavour that the said Chapel be carefully
attended to by two honourable chaplains. And it is to be
known that the said Abbey and Convent will bear all burdens,
ordinary and extraordinary, belonging to the said churches
from which the said vicars will be free," etc. These arrange-
ments exist onwards into the year 13 18, with the difference
that in the charter of that date (No. 293), the Abbey and
Convent promise that " the said Chapel (of Lauder) shall be
carefully attended to by one honourable chaplain " instead of

Perhaps a few words on this relationship which existed for
so many years between Channelkirk and Lauder may not be
out of place here, seeing that it has been the cause of some
little disagreement between two of Lauder ministers, and is
variously interpreted by the people of the two parishes. Dr
James Ford, minister at Lauder, when writing the record of
his parish for the Old Statistical Account in 1791, makes the
following remark : " The Church of Lauder was originally a
chapel of ease to Channelkirk or Childer's kirk, being dedi-
cated to the Holy Innocents. At the Reformation Lauder
was made a parochial charge." This evokes a sharp re-
joinder from the Rev. Peter Cosens, who in 1833 writes the
notice of Lauder Church and parish for the New Statistical


Account. He retorts: "There, is no reason tp
suppose that the Church of Lauder was originally a chapd of
ease attached to Channelkirk, and that it was not raised to
the dignity of a church till the era of the Reformation ; for,
in the oldest records it is represented as a separate church.
In the ancient taxation it was valued at 90 merks and that
of Channelkirk only at 40." Neither minister gives his
authorities, except a general reference to " old records," and
in such brief space as the Statistical Accounts could afford,
we should, perhaps, hardly expect any other. There are
evidently two points involved here, viz., Was Lauder Church
originally a " chapel of ease " icapelld) to Channelkirk ? and.
Was Lauder Church in possession of the dignity of a church
{ecclesia) before the Reformation ? Perhaps if we consider
the latter question first, the former may be of easier solution.
. Referring to Mr Cosen's statement that " in the oldest
records it is represented as a separate church," if we are
permitted to strike out the word "separate," the assertion
must be admitted to be correct. In the charter which is
given by Richard de Morville to the brethren of the hospital
of Lauder about the years 11 70 or 11 80, the "ecclesie de
Louueder" is distinctly mentioned. But the charter itself
does not emanate from ecclesiastical authorities : authorities,
that is, sufficiently competent to give any weight to such a
canonical status. It comes from Richard de Morville, who
himself was excommunicated, and was at feud with all the
religious houses around him. Besides, among the witnesses
to this charter is " Clement, my chaplain." Now, before this
same time we have in connection with Legerwood, " John,
the priest" and, likewise, " Godfrey, the priest" in connection
with Channelkirk. But in the case of the Lauder official, it is
a chaplaincy which always gives its title to that personage.


Tru&, this may merely point to the family chapel of the
) ••■..': i)e'Morvilles. If so, then no mention is made of a priest
being in Lauder Church till the name of Chapel is also
attached to it. When Lauder Church comes to be de-
nominated by proper ecclesiastical authorities, it is some-
times defined as an ecclesia (church), or capella (chapel).
One charter, for example, will define it by both terms. This
is in the first half of the thirteenth century, during a length
of seventy years after Richard de Morville's charter. Again,
fully sixty years after this doubtful state of matters, we have
the same sinister expression, capella de Lawder. In the
year 1318, when Channelkirk and Lauder are last seen in the
charters side by side under one minister, the use and wont
phrase is repeated, " the vicar of Channelkirk shall make
obedience as well for the Church of Childenkirk as for the
Chapel of Lauder " {pro ecclesia de Childenkirk quam pro
capella de Lawder). The said chapel {dicte capelle) is also to
be served by " one honourable chaplain " {per unum honestum
capellanum). The minister of Lauder (Mr Cosens) is there-
fore somewhat justified in saying, in 1833, that "in the oldest
records it is represented as a separate Church," but he has not,
it seems to us, weighed sufficiently the circumstances in which
the oldest records, i.e., the charter of Richard de Morville,
was given, and also the uncanonical status of those who in that
charter call the then place of worship in Lauder a " Church."
That it was "separate" as a church was, of course, the
matter in dispute between Eymeric and Dryburgh monks.
Eymeric maintained its patronate constitution with the right
to call himself rector and uplift the whole teinds with only
regard for his patron, whereas the monks of Dryburgh dis-
avowed the patronate and maintained the patrimonial consti-
tution of Lauder Church, whereby the whole teinds belonged


to the bishop, and the Abbey of Dryburgh within his diocese,
as well as the right to appoint any one to serve the cure at
his discretion. In discussing this question, moreover, it is
proper that we should bear in mind the distinction which is
made between the Protestant and Roman Catholic status of
a " Church." No place of worship can have the status of a
church under the Roman Catholic hierarchy, unless it has
been dedicated, or consecrated, by a bishop. And there is
nothing to show that the Church of Lauder was ever so con-
secrated. When Bishop de Bernham of St Andrews conse-
crates Channelkirk, Stow, Earlston, Legerwood, and Gordon,
he passes by Lauder. Between 1240 and 1250 he wanders
over all Scotland dedicating churches, but he never touches
at Lauder. If it had been a " Church " of undoubted
canonical status before this period the charters would not
have ventured afterwards to characterise it as a "Chapel."
So far, therefore, as the weight of ecclesiastical authority is
concerned (and regarding the status of a church, we do not
think any other authority is admissible by comparison), the
truth of facts thus far supports the view of Dr Ford rather
than that of Mr Cosens.

Our first question, which we now treat secondly, viz.,
Was Lauder Church originally a chapel of ease to Channel-
kirk ? seems easier to answer. Perhaps the term " chapel
of ease" in this connection is not quite applicable. We
have seen that the place of worship at Lauder in the twelfth,
thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries, conforms more in its
canonical status to a "Chapel" than to a "Church." It appears
to be evident, also, that it was subordinate to the Church of
Channelkirk for more reasons than one. There is no evidence
that Lauder Church underwent any degradation on account
of its priest's conduct. The status he sought to claim for it


was simply never allowed. He claimed to be under a patron,
yiz., the successors of Richard de Morville, who, until his
suspension, must have been William de Morville, Roland of
Galloway, Allan, his son, and John de Balliol. This claim
was not sustained for the reasons that by priority of age and
on account of the parochial jurisdiction over the whole valley
possessed by Channelkirk Church previous to Hugh de
Morville's time, and sustained by him until his gift of it' and
all its pertinents to Dryburgh Abbey, the " Church " or
" Chapel " of Lauder had no right to teinds in the valley
unless it had first received them from Channelkirk Church.
If, indeed, Lauder Church had possessed teinds of its own,
and these not forcibly possessed, it must have been an
ecclesia or church, for no mere chapel possessed teinds.
But its right of teinds was disallowed by the highest
authorities, or to put it in the words of a distinguished
Professor of Church History, " If Channelkirk was the
original church of the valley, and Lauder is found at a later
date entitled to teinds, these must have been gifted to it
by Channelkirk, or derived from lands not previously teinded."
Channelkirk was undoubtedly the original church of the
valley of Lauderdale, and Lauder is not found later or
earlier entitled to teinds of any kind, except those which
Eymeric held by force, but which Dryburgh claimed. And
Dryburgh Abbey claimed these teinds because, having
received from Hugh de Morville the Church of Channelkirk
with all its lands, rights, and pertinents, which it possessed
" before the Church of Lauder was founded in that place " ;
and Channelkirk Church having made the Abbey "free as
regards the teinds which Lauder sued for {absolventes eosdem
super decimis quas pars altera petebat) ; therefore, all the teinds
and rights whatsoever which Lauder might claim to possess,


together with that "Church" or "Chapel" itself, belonged
legally to the Abbot of the Abbey. That dignitary was
thus able to make good his position in all the courts in
virtue of Channelkirk Church having satisfied the following
necessary conditions: i. Priority of foundation ; 2. primary
possession of the parochial jurisdiction of the whole valley ;
3. personally and permanently bequeathed to Dryburgh
Abbey by the person who alone could confer it ; 4. final
consent of the Church itself. We must further state the fact
that this arrangement was maintained as far as we have
historical accounts to assure us, viz., till the year 1318, and
there is no evidence to show that it was altered till the
period of the Reformation. Dryburgh Abbey, the Bishop
of St Andrews, and the Popes of Rome, on these ecclesiastical
grounds, wrenched Lauder " Church " or " Chapel " out of the
hands of Lauder landowners and Lauder priest, together with
all it held, and they kept it. Two hundred and forty-two
years elapse between 13 18 and 1560, and it is quite possible
that other arrangements may have been made for Lauder
Church. But we can only conjecture. There is no record,
and we cannot place much stress upon the mention of
ecdesia in connection with Lauder Church during the
years between 13 18 and the Reformation, as the language of
courtesy as well as of use and wont may have confirmed
that designation. It is not to be supposed that there would
be any formal erection of Lauder into a parish at that time,
as its outgrowth of Channelkirk long before in population,
wealth, and influence, would accomplish that result in-
dependently. The start which Lauder made in history
as a burgh, and the progress it showed, seems to have
been far more fortunate in results than anything its church
has to record, prior to Protestant times.



Before the Reformation.

Godfrey, the Priest — Cuthbert and the Holy Water Cleuch — The First
Minister in Channelkirk and Lauderdale — The First Church —
Cuthbert's Fame — Five Hundred Years of Historical Darkness —
Channelkirk Priest in the Twelfth Century — Papal Taxation — King
Edward I. in Lauderdale — The Priests Serving Channelkirk and
Lauder — Troublous Times — Lauder Brig — Moorhousland and
Lauderdale — Social Life in the Fifteenth Century — Corruption of
Church and Clergy — Reformation.

In attempting to give some account of the ministers who
through so many centuries, and under various religious forms,
have professed to raise the minds of the people of Channel-
kirk towards eternal things, it is, perhaps, needless to say
that the greater number of these must remain unnamed and
unknown, and of the few whose names have come down to
us, only the most meagre sketch can be given. It does not
appear that any of the number, with perhaps one or two
exceptions, ever rose to such prominence, either in ecclesi-
astical or secular affairs, as to earn high historical distinction.
Few, indeed, are the occasions in the parish's history which
are so stirring, or so fiery as to light up the twilight gloom
that veils from our sight the actors who from generation
to generation moved across its boundaries. Before the


Protestant era the name of one person and one only who can
be officially called a presbyter or priest in Channelkirk Church
has filtered down to us through the hard stratum of the
charters. And even he seems to be mentioned by a kind of
accident. Richard de Morville (1165-89), in confirming to
Dryburgh Abbey his gifts of Berwick fishings and the
tithes of Lauder and Salton mills,* casually mentions that
Channelkirk in his father's time was held by Godfrey the

But before the time of this " Godefridus presbyter," there
must have been several priests in Channelkirk. There seems
to be no doubt that a church existed there long before the
time of Hugo de Moreville. We have seen that the author
of Caledonia deems it not improbable that a place of worship
may have been in existence there during the Celtic period,
or before the sixth century. With Bede's account before us,
and that of the Cocevus Monachus^ both of whom relate
Cuthbert's religious awakening by the banks of the Leader,
and his subsequent missionary journeys among the Lammer-
moor hills, we confidently claim Cuthbert as a minister to
the Channelkirk people as early at least as the middle of the
seventh century. Whether or not some rude form of a
place of worship might then exist on the spot where now a
church has stood for so long it were rash to assert, but there
are certain indications that some particular place, specially
marked as consecrated to religious rites, was then a local
possession. It is well known, for instance, that, even in
pagan times, fountains and wells were closely associated with
the worship of the people. This form of veneration lost
nothing by the introduction of Christianity. On the contrary,
if the sainted propagators of the gospel faith found them
* Dryburgh Charter, No. 8.


convenient for baptismal purposes, and, not unfrequently,
they did so find them, then, as a consequence, the pious
feelings of the inhabitants of such a district were deepened
with an increased intensity.* Everywhere pagan " means of
grace " were utilised by Christians, and set into their more
enlightened ceremonials. Says a distinguished Scottish
historian "f* : "It may be gathered from other sources that a
considerable portion of that pagan magic influence, which it
was desirable to supersede, resided in fountains ; but at the
same time, the first ceremony of conversion being the rite
of baptism, is sufficient in itself to account for the extensive
consecration of fountains." We believe we have such a
consecrated fountain in the " Holy Water Cleuch." This
place, so styled yet by the inhabitants of the district, lies
but a few hundred yards directly west from the Church, and
its cooling waters still flow fresh and pleasant, and are grate-
fully prized by both man and beast. The first mention of it
which we have been able to discover is, indeed, long subse-
quent to the days of St Cuthbert. It is given in 1588 as the
western boundary of the " Sucken " of the Kirklands of
Channelkirk, in a charter granted by King James VI. to
James Cranstoun, son to Robert Cranstoun of " Faluod-
scheill " (Fowlshiels, Selkirk). If it was so well known in the
year 1588, and so well established as to serve as a boundary
to legal rights and privileges, we may draw the reasonable
inference that its origin must have been even then deeply
buried in the traditions of the parish. Nor does it seem that
any religious or ecclesiastical event, occurring between that
period and the days of St Cuthbert's ministrations, can be
legitimately regarded as prominent or important enough to

* Origines Parochtales, vol. i., pref. xxii.

t Hill Burton — History of Scotlaiid^ vol. i., p. 220,


warrant us in supposing that the creation and consecration
of the name of the fountain, and its preservation by the
people, have later or weaker associations than those which
gather round the Church itself. The tradition current
among the people is, perhaps, the correct one, viz., that
Cuthbert baptized his converts there when he was wont
to visit the dwellers " in the mountains, calling back to
heavenly concerns these rustic people, by the word of his
preaching as well as by his example of virtue." * This was a
common practice in his times. Bede, for example, tells us
that further south, over the Cheviots, among the Northum-
brians, about the time when Cuthbert would be born. Bishop
Paulinus " from morning till night did nothing else but
instruct the people resorting from all villages and places in
Christ's saving word ; and, when instructed, he washed them
with the water of absolution in the River Glen (River Bowent),
which is close by." f

But was Cuthbert the first minister of the gospel in
Channelkirk ? Was there not an earlier than he ? We are
led to ask these questions by the following considerations.
Cuthbert is said to have been "always inflamed with the
desire of a religious Vife/rom his very childhood" \ This dis-
position may have been one of the causes that led his
guardians to commit him, when a boy, to the care of a certain
religious inan^ in Lothian [cuidam Lodonico religioso coinmittunt
viro) ; and as we are told that the place in Lothian was
afterwards called Childeschirche in honour of Cuthbert, we
infer that this " pious man " lived at the village or hamlet

* Bede's Vita S. Cud., chap. ix.

t Ecclesiastical History, Book II., chap. xiv.

X Bede's Ecclesiastical History, Book IV., chap, xxvii.

§ Libellus de Ortu Sancti Cuthberti, chap, xxiii.


which was subsequently called Childeschirche, on account of
the Church dedicated to his youthful illustrious protege.
This pious guardian of the boy Cuthbert must surely have
had a religious fame strong enough to point him out as a
proper instructor for such a boy, and it is permissible to
suppose that his name for sanctity was not gained by his
private devotions alone. With the bold zeal which seems to
have characterised pilgrims and preachers of that age, this
" religious man in Lothian " would, doubtless, in some public
way, seek to gain his fellowmen to the new faith, and either
his success, or perhaps proximity to the camp or fort, or the
nearness of the well or fountain (which may have had
reverence paid it before Cuthbert's time), may have led him
to make the original village of Channelkirk his centre of
operations, and home. If these probabilities be allowed to
add any weight to the little we know concerning him, then
the first minister of Channelkirk, for all historical purposes,
would be this " religious man in Lothian," and his time would
naturally fall about A.D. 625.

But at such a distance of time all is necessarily dim and
shadowy to the view. We have, at most, vague outlines
of even national movements, and the condition and kind
of life which such a pious teacher of the people would lead
in the retired district of Upper Lauderdale must, of course,
remain totally obscure. Certain historical facts are never-
theless somewhat luminous to us in a general way. The
people of the valley were a mixture of Picts and Angles,
the conquered and the conquerors, and generally, Christians
and pagans. The Angles would be in a minority though
the most powerful, but the mass of the population would be
Celts and slaves. In the time of this "pious man of
Lothian," the southern boundaries of Lothian stretched


to the Cheviots, and the Province of the Bernicians * in-
cluded Haddingtonshire and Berwickshire within its pale.
Christianity made its way then chiefly by the conversion
of kings whose faith all who were under their dominion were
expected to adopt, and, consequently, it had a vacillating
fortune which rose and fell with the political powers which
for the time being held the ascendant. Under King ^Eduin
and Bishop Paulinus, e.g., the Christian faith from 627
.seemed to flourish and grow vigorously, but this enlightened
period was suddenly darkened again by a pagan revolution
under the Anglic King Penda and the apostate Welsh King
Ceadwalla. Again the sun shone forth in the reign of
King Oswald, who established the Columban Church in
Northumbria in 635 ; and the permanent conversion to
Christianity of the Angles of the eastern districts between
the Tweed and F'orth, that is, Berwickshire and East Lothian,
is due to him. But if permanency in the work was due
to King Oswald, there are indications that shortly before
him there were pioneers in the same field. Skene says,"f"

Online LibraryArchibald AllanHistory of Channelkirk → online text (page 9 of 50)