John Guthrie Smith.

The parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history online

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know his inclinations anent the planting of that parish had received answer from
the Marquise that if the Presbytery and paroch of Strathblane pleased them-
selves in that affair he should not be displeased, and that therefore the want of
his exprest consent needed make no demurr at this time, however to remove
all scruples on this head the Presbytery appoints a letter to Dougalstone to be
written giving an account of M"' Livingstone and excusing the neglect of the
paroch in not consulting himself as Duntraith's doer in that part and intreating
him to use his influence with Montrose for composeing any quarrell he might
have with the paroch on account of the fores'^ neglect; and withal they advise
the elders and other considerable persons in the paroch to wait upon Dougal-
stone to acknoledge and excuse themselves at his hands and that some of the

^ It appears from an inscription on a tombstone in the churchyard that James Livingstone
was a son of John Livingstone and Isobel Stirling. These are both Strathblane names ; the
new minister may therefore have been a native of the parish.


neighbouring ministers particularly M' John Dougall help them therein upon all
which the Presbytery prevailed with M' Livingstone to keep the call till the
issue were seen."

The parish accordingly humbled themselves before Dougalstone, and the result
appears in the following minute of Presbytery, 3rd February, 1702 : — "Anent the
affair of Straithblane it was found that the method laid down by the Presbyterie
had taken effect, Dougalstone by a letter to the Presbytery signifying his consent
in Duntraith's name to the Call to M' Livingstone and also that the Marquise
of Montrose would be passive in the case."

The matter was thus brought to a satisfactory termination, and Mr. Livingstone
was duly ordained to the parish, as already shown. Mr. Livingstone was an
active, good minister, attending well both to the spiritualities and temporalities
of the parish. He also strengthened his Session considerably.^

An event took place in the parish in 17 14 which very much disturbed the
worthy minister and the Session. It is best described in the words of the
Session Records: —

"At Balewne December 21 17 14
" After prayer

"Sederunt M" James Livingstone Moderator, James Browne, James William-
sone, William Browne elders.

"The qlk day the minister informed the sessione that upon the sixteen of this
instant some of these people who were present w' W™ Morresone and Janet
Logan att their marriage as they went into the Church to be married and find-
ing ane empty grave new made had either by themselves or their influence put
in the mools (that is the earth) in the Empty grave alledging that it was un-
luckie to be married q' there was ane empty grave. The Session considering
that this was ane Heathenish Superstition and a plain observing of Enchant-
ments which Enchantments and Observations are expressly forbidden in the
Holy Scripture Lev 19. 26. Deut 18. 10. and severely threatened Is 47. 9.
and considering by ane act of the Generall Assembly in anno 1640 all min-
isters are injoyned to take notice of charms and witches and abusers of the
people and to urge the Acts of Parliament to be execute against theme. As
also by the overtours about these things in anno 1643, wherefore the Session
think themselves obleiged to take notice of such avowed Superstition and being
informed that George Bryce and Thomas MTndoe both in Wester Mugdock
were the makers of this Grave, they appoint their officer to summond the
s'' two persons to th"" next meeting which is to be upon the twenty sixth of this

^ Among the new elders appear James Williamson and John Smith of Craigend, John
Bennif, and William Neil. James Shearer was now an elder and John M'Alpine a ck'acon.



instant that they may give them Informatione quo were the men who did

"Session December 26 17 14
"After prayer

" Sederunt M' James Livingstone moderator James and William Browns James
Williamsone John M^Indoe John Buchannan James Shirer elders, John M^Alpine
George Ronald Deacons the s** Day George Bryce and Thomas M'^Indoe being
called compeared, the moderator enquired how it came they suffered The Grave
to be filled againe they answ*^ that a man took the spade out of one of their
hands and thrust in the mools into the Grave saying that it was indecent to
see ane open Grave qn persons were to be married and Lykewayes they being
asked if they knew the man, they answered they knew him not but as they
understood he lived in Campsie. They acknoledged it was a fault and were
rebuked for it. The Moderator appoints the Elders to make search qo it was
that filled the Grave and to give report theirof to the Sessione."

The end of the matter was that Malcolm Kincaid appeared before the Session
and was sharply rebuked. The story is curious in itself, and also shows that
marriages in Strathblane were celebrated in church at this time.

Ever since poor Mr. Cochran sixty-four years ago had erected in the church
his " new place of publick repentance " and purchased his " harne gowne " " for
the use of penitents," both, unfortunately, had been in constant use by offenders
of both sexes, but never till 17 16 had it been necessary to call in the Civil
Magistrate to enforce the decrees of the Session. The two following extracts
from the Session Records show how a refractory woman was treated : —
" Dec. 30, 1716.

"Janet Martin being called compeared not, the Session appoints the Min-
ister to give her up to the Civil Magistrate as a disobedient person to Church
judicatories in regard that she had been summoned before to produce a testifi-
cate of her morality and had oft times refused to come and still failled to
produce her testificate when she came."
"Janu^ II, 17 17.

"Sederunt The minister, James, John and William M'^Indoe, James and
William Browns, Johns M'^Coull, Buchanan and Smith, James Williamsone,
Archibald Edmonstone elders, John M'^Alpine deacon. This day the minister
reports that having obtained from James Graham Justice of Peace a warrant
to James I^eitch constable annent Janet Martin and that the said Leitch had
brought her the length of the Manse on her way to the Pit of Mugdock but
that the said Martin had desired a delay only till the next Monday and then
she wad bring her absolviter."

The end of the matter was that Janet humbled herself, the terrors of the pit or


prison at Mugdock being too great for her, and she was finally pardoned, doubt-
less after a due use of the public place of repentance and the harne gowne.

At the Session, ist December, 1723, another case of superstition appears.
It is thus recorded in the Session Records : — " This day reported by the Min-
ister that there was a flagrant report that on one or other of the days of Sep-
tember or October last qn Elz Stephen had a horse dyen of some disease and
people standing about the horse Catherine Cameron in Easter Cult came and
called for a catt and caused WilHam M'^Eldo Elizabeth Stevens servant stand on
the one side of the horse while she stood on the other side and she gave the
catt over the horse back to him and he gave the catt under the horse belly to
her and so they put the catt three times round about the horse and the horse
Immediately Recovered.

"The Session appoint her to be summoned before them against the fifth of
this instant."

"December 5, 1723.

" This day Catherine Cameron being called compeared and confessed as
was libelled and said that she did it in ignorance having seen it done before
and that it had been very troublesome to her since and that she would never
do the like of it again ; she being removed, the Session found it was a real
charm and a piec of great wickedness and having ripely considered the affair yn
regard that she was a poor ignorant woman not being capable of reading the
Scriptures, and that she had made an Ingenious Confession and that there
appeered to be a change in her conversation to the better for some time and
that it was the first time that ever she was attacted for any thing scandellous
they Judged it most convenient that she should be called before the Session the
next Sabbath and gravely Rebuked and that this Censur should be Intimate to the
Congregation by the Min' and the people Informed of the evill of such prodiges
and admonished to guard against them and to be told that if ever any of them
be found guilty of such actions in time Coming they will be prosecuted with the
highest censures of the Church and delated to the Civill Magistrate to be punished
by them it being criminal. Shee being called in this was Intimate unto her and
she was summoned Apud Data to compear before the Session the next Sabbath."

This was duly done, and William M'Eldo, who had assisted her in working
the charm, was also "gravely admonished."^ ' •

^ The Session of Strathblane were also always ready to help in any useful or charitable work —
thus : —

"August 31, 1729. This day the minister read a paper from his Majesty King George and
also an Act of Assembly for gathering a Collection for the Harbor of
St. Andrews. The Session appointed the Collection to be collected from
house to house."

" Septr. 26, 1731. Collection to be made through the parish for a distressed Protestant City
called Rieddan in Polland."



Little or nothing more of interest is known of Mr. Livingstone's doings in
the parish. Anything, however, that can be gleaned is satisfactory. In July
1729, for instance, Wodrow says^ — "Our communions this summer are sweet
.... particularly at Strathblane, where Mr. Livingstoun is, they talk of more
than two hundred new communicants from themselves and neighbouring congre-
gations." Two years before this time society or prayer meetings were by advice
of the Session set up in various parts of the parish, and were well attended,
and when the famous George Whitefield was in Scotland in 1742 the minister of
Strathblane invited him to the parish. He accepted the invitation, and from the
north-west corner of the churchyard preached to an enormous crowd, who came
far and wide to hear him, and stood on the grassy slope just below him. It was
a heart-stirring and beautiful scene, and must have rejoiced the heart of good
old Mr. Livingstone. It was one of the closing events of his useful career
in Strathblane, for he died next year, 12th August, 1743, in the forty-second year
of his ministry. Mr. Livingstone's wife was Christian Jacques, " a stranger from
her native land," as her tombstone tells us, and by her he had a family.

The settlement of the next minister was a most unfortunate and complicated
affair. The Presbytery Records narrate that at its meeting, 6th December,


" This day compeared the Lairds of Law, and Ballagan and gave in a petition
signed by several heritors and elders in the Parish of Strathblane craving the
Presbytery would allow them a Hearing of M' James Craig, M' James Gray
and M"" John Monteith, Probationers." The Presbytery granted this petition and
appointed Mr. James Gray to appear before the next Presbytery and preach before
them. This accordingly he did and was approven and ordered to supply
Strathblane next Sabbath.

"The same day 20 Deer 1743 the laird of Carbeth appeared and presented
a petition signed by several heritors and elders in the Parish of Strathblane,
craving a hearing of M' John Monteith." This also was willingly agreed to, and
as a preliminary Mr. Monteith was appointed to appear before the Presbytery
and preach *' first Tuesday of February next."

Thus far everything had gone smoothly. Mr. James Craig was a very natural
and proper person for the Parish to wish for, being the second son of Gilbert
Craig of Leddriegreen in the parish,^ and Mr. James Gray was a neighbour, the
brother of the Rev. Andrew Gray of New Kilpatrick, and no doubt also very
suitable. The third on the leet, Mr. John Monteith, had also, we may be sure,

'^ Analeda, p. 67.

2 One of the accusations in a libel against Mr. John Colqiihoun, presentee to the parish of
Baldernock, was that he had "said and afifirmed that Mr. James Craig, preacher of the Gospel
Strablane, was an insipide bitch." — (Presb. Records, 3rd' July, 1744.)

2 E


the proper qualifications. There was every promise, therefore, of the parish
being well supplied, after the luxury of hearing and criticising sermons, the
whole ending in a popular election. But at this point all these expectations
were dashed to the ground, for at a meeting of the Presbytery of Dumbarton,
3rd January, 1744, " Compeered David Graeme of Orchill and gave in a
presentation by himself as Provost of the Provostry of the Colledgeate Church
of Dumbarton and thereby patron of the Parish Churches belonging to the said
Provostry wherof the Parish of Strathblane is one, with consent of His Grace
the Duke of Montrose, Patron of the said Provostry, to M" James Gray pro-
bationer to be minister of the said parish of Strablane now vacant, together
with a letter of acceptance from the said M"" Gray both which were read and
upon Delivery of both which the above David Graeme of Orchill took Instru-
ments in the Clerk's hands and craved the Presbytery would proceed to his
tryalls and settlement according to the rules of the Church." The same day
" compeared Adam Colchoun wryter in Dumbarton and produced a commission
from the laird of Law as having a commission from the laird of Duntreath a
considerable heritor in Strathblane and protested in his name and in name of
such other of the Heritors as shall adhere to him against the Presbytery re-
ceiving or using any step in consequence of the above presentation to M" Gray
for the reasons contained in a petition signed by a great number of Heritors
and Elders of the Parish of Strablane and a great many Heads of families con-
curring therewith and whose petition was likewise produced and craved to be
read and further craved that the Presbytery would proceed to moderate a call
to M"" John Monteith Probationer and thereupon took instruments." Thus then
there was the Duke of Montrose, through Mr. Graeme of Orchill, presenting Mr.
Gray to the parish, and the heritors, session, and heads of families of Strathblane
presenting Mr. Monteith, and each claiming a legal right to do so. The Duke
founded his right to present upon his being patron of the Provostry of Dum-
barton, to which the Church of Strathblane belonged, and in support of his
claim Mr. Graeme offered to produce, and did produce, the following writs : —

ist. An original Charter under the Great Seal granted by King Charles U.
to his natural son, Charles Duke of Richmond and Lennox, of the dukedom of
Lennox, bearing among other particulars — " Cum advocatione donatione et jure
Patronatus Prsepositurae et Praebendariorum Ecclesiae Collegiatae de Dum-
barton et omnium aliarum ecclesiarum et Capellanearum earundem," and likewise
containing the following reservation, viz., " Excipiens et reservans vitalem donati-
onem per nos concess Francissae Lenniciae et Richmondiae Ducessae de
reditibus et casualilibus dicti status duran omnibus suae Vitae diebus."

2nd, Writs for connecting the progress to the estate of Lennox and patron-
age of the Provostry of the Collegiate Church of Dumbarton from Charles Duke



of Lennox to the deceased David Marquis of Graham, immediate predecessor
to His Grace William Duke of Montrose therein.

3rd, Special Retour of William, now Duke of Montrose, as heir, and bearing
among others the patronage of the Provostry of the Collegiate Church of Dum-
barton, and all its churches and chapels ; and

4th, A presentation and commission by the said William Duke of Montrose,
as having right in manner foresaid, to the said David Graeme of Orchill to be
Provost of the Provostry of the said Collegiate Church of Dumbarton during
His Grace's pleasure, with power of presenting ministers to the churches belong-
ing to the said Provostry, etc., etc. Dated 2rst October, 1743.

The claim of the heritors of Strathblane to the right of patronage was
founded on the fact that they had purchased the right of presentation from
Cunningham of Enterkin, Provost of the Provostry of the Collegiate Church of
Dumbarton, constitute by Frances Duchess of Lennox, who had a right to the
Dukedom of Lennox and therewith to the patronage of the said Provostry; and
in support of this allegation Mr. Colchoun on behalf of the heritors produced —
ist, Enterkin's renunciation of the right of patronage in favour of the heritors
of Strathblane, dated 12th January, 1692, and registered i8th April, 1694; and
a decreet of the Lords of Council and Session on that affair, of date i6th Feb-
ruary, 1692. 2nd, An extract of the Duchess of Lennox' commission to Enter-
kin, dated 20th September, 1681, . . . appointing him Provost of the Provostry
of the Collegiate Church of Dumbarton, and entitling him to all and sundry the
fruits, rents, emoluments, and profits thereof.

The Duke's answer through Mr. Graeme was, that Frances Duchess of
Lennox was only liferentrix of the said estate and patronage, and that no Pro-
vost of the said Provostry could without the consent of his constituent de-
lapidate the patrimony or rights of the Provostry; so much the less could
Cunningham of Enterkin, who was constitute by a bare liferenter, delapidate
any of the said rights.

On the ist May, 1744, parties having been heard at full length, the Presby-
tery decided that " His Grace the Duke of Montrose is patron of the Provostry
of the Collegiate Church of Dumbarton, and therefore sustains the presentation
by David Graeme of Orchill, present Provost, with consent of the said Duke of
Montrose, to Mr. James Gray, to be minister of the parish of Strathblane, to be
valid in the present case."

Mr. Graeme was naturally quite satisfied with this decision, and craved the
Presbytery to lose no further time in settling Mr. Gray in the parish; but
Mr. Colchoun suddenly discovered that " the Presbytery are not propper judges
as to the civil rights of patronages," and appealed to the civil magistrate.

It is unnecessary to give in detail all that took place during the next


three years. The parish was much divided in opinion as to the proper course
to be followed. Some urged the Presbytery " to fix a short day for moder-
ating in a call at large for a gospel minister " for the parish ; others craved
that " the Presbytery would settle the presentee among them and moderate in
a call to him " ; and others insisted that Mr. John Monteith should be settled :
and so time wore away for fully three years.


On the nth August, 1747, Mr. Graeme appeared before the Presbytery and
informed them that the Lords of Council and Session had determined the right
of presentation to the parish of Strathblane in favour of the Duke of Montrose,
and again craved a moderation to Mr. James Gray, the presentee. This the
Presbytery agreed to, and after some farther proceedings the reverend gentleman
was settled in Strathblane, 21st April, 1748, after it had been vacant for nearly
five years.

During all this long time Mr. Gray had almost constantly filled, by orders of
the Presbyter}'^, the pulpit of Strathblane ; and when he was settled in the
parish he was well received, and passed an uneventful life in it during the
eighteen years of his ministry. He was son of the Rev. John Gray, a member
of a very old Lanarkshire family, the Grays of Carntyne and Dalmarnock,
and was minister of the Wynd and afterwards of St. Andrew's Church,
Glasgow. His elder brother was the Rev. Andrew Gray, minister of New
Kilpatrick and laird of Kilmardinny in that parish. His wife was Agnes
Foggo ; and by her he had a son, John, who succeeded to Kilmardinny on
his uncle's death in 1776.^

The Rev. James Gray died i6th November, 1766.


On the 14th April, 1767, at a meeting of the Presbytery of Dumbarton,
a letter was received from Mr. John Smith, writer in Buchanan, enclosing a
presentation from the Duke of Montrose " to Mr. James Morrison, minister
in Killearn, to be minister of Strathblane," and a letter of acceptance from
Mr. Morrison was also tabled. The usual formalities took place, and on the
22nd October of the same year the new minister was inducted and welcomed
by the parish.

^ John Gray of Kilmardinny married in 1777 Jane Farquhar, heiress of Gihaiihiscroft in


He remained, however, but a short time in it, for in March, 1769, he
received a call from the Laigh Church of Paisley, and shortly afterwards he
was settled there. His removal was much regretted by the people of Strath-
blane, for, during his brief incumbency, he had gained their affections and
done good work among them.^


At a meeting of the Presbytery of Dumbarton held on the 5th December,
1769, a presentation to Strathblane was received from the Duke of Montrose
in favour of the Rev. Archibald Smith, and at the same time a letter of
acceptance from him was produced.

Archibald Smith was a son of the Rev. John Smith, minister of Fintry, and
he had been for some years pastor of the Scottish Church at Rotterdam. On
the loth May, 1770, he was translated to Strathblane, and on the same day he
gave in a petition for an inspection of the manse, showing " that whereas the
manse and office houses of the said parish, by reason of the several vacancies
which have happened in it, have gone into disrepair and want immediate repara-
tion in order properly to accommodate him and his family." The petition was
granted, and on the 24th of the same month the inspection took place and ";^55
sterling was awarded for the purpose of repairs." -

The appointment of Mr. Smith was an excellent one for the parish. He was
active and energetic in looking after its secular affairs, and it was very much
due to him that the much-needed schoolhouse and salary for the schoolmaster
were at last secured, and extensive repairs and additions made to the church.
He was, too, an earnest and good preacher,^ and administered discipline faith-
fully, though what follows shows that he had sometimes his difficulties in
doing so.

The Kirkhouse, a tavern at the church gate, was often the scene of very

^ His time too in Strathblane, so far as he was personally concerned, was not altogether
misspent, for he there made the acquaintance of Mary Harvie, wife at that time of the Rev.
James Craig of Leddriegreen — a lady who a few years afterwards was a widow, and in virtue
of her husband's settlement proprietrix of Leddriegreen. In 1776 Mr. Morrison married the

^The heritors present at the inspection were — "Mr. Stewart of Finnick for Duntreath, Mr.
Craig of Baleoun, Mr. Stirling, yr. of Craigbarnet, Mr. L}le of Dumbrock, Mr. Lyle of Arle-
haven, Mr. Dugald of Edenkill, Walter M'Indoe, portioner, of Carbeth ; James Foyer of Coult,
Robert Provan and John Buchanan, portioners of Auchengillan, James Smith of Gallowhill,
and John Graham, portioner of Mugdock."

^ Mr. Smith was very much addicted to snufF, and on one occasion, in the middle of " a power-
ful discourse," he stopped, and after saying, "Let us pause, my brethren, and tak' a snuff, but
see there be nae Differing o' the mulls," refreshed himself, as did many of his hearers, with a
copious pinch.


scandalous and improper proceedings, doubly improper from being so near the
sacred edifice, and in 1774 the keeper of it was in open rebellion against the
minister and session. One of his many offences was his appearing at a meeting
of session and threatening " to kick up the kirk officer's heels and trample him
like dirt under his feet if he would but presume to go to his house and call
his wife." The reason his wife was wanted was to give evidence about some
case of irregularity which had taken place in the Kirkhouse.

The session tried, but in vain, to deal with him in such a way as to bring
him to repentance and punishment. He was made over, therefore, to the
Presbytery. He made rather a good defence, and brought some counter charges
against the minister, and also averred " that the reasons of this prosecution
against him were that he would not allow the minister's hens to eat his com."

Online LibraryJohn Guthrie SmithThe parish of Strathblane and its inhabitants from early times : a chapter in Lennox history → online text (page 27 of 45)