Lachlan Shaw.

The history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties online

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Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties → online text (page 33 of 37)
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little ones in a share of the literature of the times ; and
numberless important advantages beside must have
accrued from the wealth of this establishment, expended
among them, and from the resort of strangers of every
rank, upon amusement, business, or devotion, to this
magnificently sacred and hospitable abode. Now all is
cold and silent, forlorn and melancholy desolation ; every-
thing pleasant and useful is vanished ; no national estab-
lishment nor any private institution for their assistance
in civil or religious erudition within the distance of 10
miles. By the royal bounty they once, indeed, had a


missionary, but his appointment was gradually frittered
down to insignificance, and for many years has been
totally withdrawn. They were of late flattered with the
expectation of a schoolmaster by the Society for Christian
Knowledge, but tlie proprietors withheld the accommoda-
tions which the regulations of the Societ}^ require. Unless
the children are taught to read the Bible, their parents
believe they prove faithless to the vows they made when
their little ones were baptised ; and in the present times
the profession of a tailor, or a blacksmith, requires the
knowledge in some degree of writing and accounts. The
people, therefore, of this district, consisting of about 100
families, support a schoolmaster wholly from their own
funds, which must no doubt become ultimately a burden
affecting the land rent.

They have, without a murmur, maintained also a Chapel
of Ease among themselves for almost 40 years. Of late
only they have been aided by a bequeathment of £5
yearly by the late Dr. Hay, one of the ministers of the
town ; the Earl of Fife also adds a donation of £3 yearly,
which enables the incumbent to discharge the rent of a
house and 2 or 3 acres of land, rented from his Lordship :
the ministers of Elgin also are in the practice of giving
each a guinea in the year: by all which means, the whole
appointment extends to the yearly income of £20 sterling.
Such, however, is the impression of the undiscerning zeal
of reformation which still remains, and although several
vaulted apartments within the Abbey are so entire as to
have needed only windows and a door, yet the people
built a homely Chapel, lest they should be polluted by
this fabric of anti-christian idolatry. The Earl of Fife
assists them in the repairs of the Chapel, and on that
account enjoys the patronage of it.

Besides these congregations of the Established Church,
there are in the town two Chapels of Episcopalians, one of
Seceders, one of Methodists, and one of the Church of
Rome: but all these dissenting Meetings have a consider-
able number of their members from the adjoining jiar-
ishes : tlieir number in this ])arish exceeds not 700, wliile
the Establishment reckons nearly 3800.

There are two schools, chiefly supi)ortcd by the revenues
of the town. The grant of the ])roj)erty of the Roman
Catholic Establishment of Maison Dieu by James VI. in


the year 1G20, is destined, after maintaining a few poor,
for the support of a teacher of " music, and the other libe-
ral sciences ;" for which, with the fees from scholars, and
the perquisites of the office of session-clerk, he has more-
over a salary of £15 sterling yearly.

The town has also established a master, in a separate
edifice, for classical learning, with an appointment of £21,
which arises in part from some small bequeathments in
favour of this establishment, two of which have lately
made a small addition to this endowment. The proprietors
of the land bear no part of the expense of either of
these schools, in which originally these rudimental parts
of literature were conducted as it were in separate mono-
polies ; the one having been interdicted fi-om teaching
Latin, and the other, the reading of English : but experi-
ence having shewn, that every kind of monopoly, the
East India trade alone excepted, is disadvantageous to
society, the number of scholars in both has for some time
past been regulated only by the diligence or success of
the masters, in neither of whom at present is superiority
even by this trial manifested.

Experience has demonstrated, that, like the grave, the
poor never say " it is enough : " that, however munificent
the provision made for them may be, their wants are not
supplied, their number is onl}^ increased. It is not yet 200
3'ears since any public funds were destined for the poor.
Before " the Reformation," all pious donations were made
only to the Church, and the poor were wholly trusted to
the care of Providence: but in the present times, jjerversely
said to be so much degenerated, the collections made in
the Church, about £45 sterling, are, by the yearly interest
of a fund, extended to £53, under the management of the
session, which, by bequeathments under the direction of
the Magistrates, are still farther augmented to the sum of
£71, for the annual support of the poor enlisted on the
parish roll.

Besides which, Mr. Cumine of Pitullie, once Provost of
the town, bequeathed a capital of about £330 sterling, for
the maintenance of 4 disabled members of the Guild,
nominated alternately by his heirs and the Magistrates,
to the sum of £8 sterling yearly, with a house and
garden to each ; and by the royal endowment of
Maison Dieu, other 4 disabled men are provided with


a house, garden gown, and 4 bolls of barley in the year
to each.

Besides these, the Guild of Elgin have a growing fund,
by entries and a yearly contribution by each individual
of 2s., amounting to a revenue of almost £80 sterling-
yearly, though as yet about £40 only is divided among
their widows and impoverished members.

After their example, the G corporations, weavers, tailors,
glovers, shoemakers, smiths, and wrights, have each their
respective ca])ital for widows and disabled members, aris-
ing from entry mone}' and annual contributions.

There are also two Friendly Societies : the members of
each contribute 7d. monthly.

There are also two Mason Lodges, the gentlemen having
made a secession from the operative masons ; but it is not
ascertained, whether charity, or the amusement of sociality,
be the chief end of their establishment.] (Savvey of the
Province of Moray.)


[For what reasons the Burgh of Elgin adopted St.
Egidius, or Giles, as its patron, and erected a church in
his honour, are unknown He was not a Scottish saint,
and in no way connected with Britain, but of Eastern
(Greek) origin. Edinburgh has paid him a similar mark
of respect, by erecting its fine Cathedral Church to his
memory ; and England has dedicated many ecclesiastical
buildings to St. Giles. The Church of St. Giles is first
mentioned, in the Register of Moray, in 122C ; but there
is reason to believe that it was of more ancient origin,
and that it is the Church referred to in a charter of
William the Lion between 1180-99. Probably the ceme-
tery around it was, in accordance with the ])ractice which
prevailed in the 13th century, the site of the Fairs of St,
Giles, mentioned in 1889, and that it originally constituted
the market place (forurii), alluded to in the Kogister, in
1365. In its vicinity there were wooden booths, or
krahns, Avhich, like the Luckenbooths that stood near St.
Giles', Edinburgh, were fixtures, where the free burgesses
of the merchant-guild exposed their wares for sale. The
sacred and the profane having thus become closely allied,
the character of festivals (preceded by vigils or wakes)
gradually degenerated, and eventually they were called


ferie or fairs. It stood upon two rows of massive pillars,
and the arclies raised on them were of the First Pointed,
or Early English style of architecture. It had a nave
and side aisles, a central tower, and chancel. At the
period of erection there was no intention to build a
Cathedral in Elgin, and therefore St. Giles' Church was
made suitable to the wants of the town. Its services
were conducted by a Vicar appointed by the Bishop,
assisted by various Priests, who said ]\Tasses at the Altars
within the building. The Vicar of Elgin was appointed
one of the Canons of the Cathedral. That there were
various altarages is shown by a deed of donation dated on
the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin, in 1286,
by which Hugh Herok, Burgess of Elgin, grants his lands
of D:\ldeleyt (probably Dandaleith) for endowment of two
chaplainries, one within the Church of the Holy Trinity
(the Cathedral), at the Altar of St. Nicholas, and the other
at the Altar of the Holy Cross in the Parish Cliurch of
Elgin (St. Giles), where prayers should be said for his
own soul, and that of Margaret, his wife, and their parents
and children; also, for the soul of Alexander III., the
illustrious King of Scotland, and the souls of Archibald
Bishop of Moray, and his successors. By another deed of
donation, dated 20th October, 13C3, granted by William
de Soreys, Burgess of Elgin, he directs that a certain
annual rent therein mentioned should be paid out of a
particate of land on the south side of the Burgh of Elgin,
for the benefit of the glorious Altar of the Blessed Vii'gin,
Mother of God, within the Church of St. Giles, Elgin, for
prayer for his own soul, those of his predecessors and
successors, and all the faithful ; and a foundation for a
chaplain in St. Giles' Church, by Richard, the son of John,
dated at the Feast of St. Gregory the Pope, 1305, for the
souls of himself and Eliza, his spouse, John and Emma,
his father and mother, and the souls of all the faithful
departed. There were probably many other donations of
a similar description. The Magistrates and Trades appear
also to have had private Altars, with officiating Priests.

The Church of St. Giles, like the Cathedral, had to
pass through severe trials. In 1390 it was burnt by " the
Wolfe of Badenoch," in his ruthless attack upon the
burgh. It does not appear to have been totally destroyed.
The roof and all the wood work had been consumed, but


the strong walls and massive pillars had resisted the
flames, and no doubt the roof had soon been restored.
The Church did not suffer in the raid of Alexander
Macdonald, son of the Lord of the Isles, in 1402, nor in
the conflagration of part of the burgh made by the Earl
of Huntly in 1452; and at the Reformation, in 15G0, it
was entire. There is one of the name of Hervey men-
tioned as the Vicar, perhaps about the middle of the loth
century. He is referred to in a deed in the Register of
Moray, unfortunately without date. In his time a glebe
was designed to the vicar, and it is still known by the
name of " Hervey's Haugh."

The Reformation brought about many changes in Scot-
land, and perhaps in no part more than in the City of
Elgin, dependent very much on the bishop and clergy ;
and its prosperity must of course have suffered by their
removal. There would be, therefore, perhaps few zealous
Reformers in the burgh. Bishop Patrick Hepburn stuck
hard to his benefice, and had sufficient influence to retain
lands and revenues until his death in 1573. In the
meantime, however, two Protestant ministers were ap-
pointed ; and these had, no doubt, possession of St. Giles'
Church, viz., Robert Pont, in 1503 ; and Alex. Winchester,
in loG5. The latter continued in office until 1580. No
church could be more inconvenient for Protestant worship
than St. Giles. The various Altars, belonging to the
diflerent incorporated Trades, had to be removed. It had
to be filled with pews and galleries, and the aisles,
formerly so convenient for private devotion, had to be
thrown into the body of the church. At the back of the
pillars and arches the officiating clergyman could not be
seen, and scarcely heard. Between 15G3 and 1G88 Epis-
■copacy and Presbyterianism had a severe struggle for the
ascendancy. From 1560 to 1573, Presbytery prevailed ;
from 1573 to 1590, Episcopacy; from 1590 to 1 GOG, Pres-
bytery ; from 160G to 1638, Episcopac}' ; from 1G38 to
1661, Presbytery; from IGGl to 1G88, Episcopacy; and
from the latter date to the present time, Presbyterianism.
During this period, however, the form of worship was
never changed. There was no liturgy used. The Church
was ruled by Kirk-Sessions, Presbyteries, and Synods;
the only difference being that, in Episcopal times, the
Bishop presided at the Synods; while, in the period of


Presbyterian government, there was a General Assembly.
The Royal House of Stuart had an intense dislike to the
Presbyterian party, believing them to be Republicans.

About 1621 the arch which connected the nave and
chancel of St. Giles' Church was built up. This new
place of worship was called "The Little Kirk." In
Slezer's View of Elgin, which was taken as early as 1G70,
St. Giles' Church has a very diflerent appearance from
what it had in its later days, the tower being in the centre
of the building, and the whole edifice presenting the
appearance of a cross.

On 2 2d June, 1679, being Sunday, and the day on
which the Battle of Bothwell Bridge took place, shortly
after the forenoon service, the roof of St. Giles fell.
It had been roofed with heavy freestone flags, and
the timber work had become decayed — having probably
had little repair for centuries. It was only the centre or
nave that was destroyed. The side aisles, arches, and
pillars, and the tower and choir escaped. This is proved
from a minute of the Town Council, dated 21st January,
1680, in which it is stated that on the above day " the
Provost, Bailies, and Counsell, with consent and advyse
of the haill communitie, having met together in the South
Yle of Saint Geilles' Church, their ordinar place of meet-
ing, for considering the rebuilding of Saint Geilles' Church,
within the said burgh, laittlie fallen ; and, after due con-
sideration, with consent foresaid, did appoint and ordain
twentie months' cess to be stented upon and uplifted from
each inhabitant within the said burgh, as their proportions
for helping the rebuilding of the said Church."

The Church was repaired in 1684, at a cost of some-
what above £4,000 Scots. These repairs consisted of the
upper part of the front being made new, and the whole
interior being i-eseated. The pulpit. Magistrates' gallery,
and many of the other galleries were of oak richly carved,
and the Trades' Lofts had the emblems of their crafts
engraved upon them. The roof of the Church was of
open wood work, and there were four heavy beams
across, attached to which were brass chandeliers of antique
workmanship, each containing 12 sockets, hung by chains
of twisted iron. The building was 80 feet long by 60 in
breadth, and is said to have been capable of holding 2,000
persons, which would have been absolutely necessary


when there was no other religious building in the town.
The o])en roof having been found cold, the Town Council,
on loth August, 1753, resolved that it should be plastered,
and a grant for doing so was voted out of the common
good. A description of St. Giles is contained in William
Hay's graphic verses, called the " Muckle Kirk of Elgin,"
composed for the Morayshire Society of Edinburgli at one
of their annual festivals, in which the poet was entitled
to some liberties.

Tlie exterior of the Church did not possess man}' archi-
tectural beauties. The central tower was a square heavy
mass, and its abrupt termination showed that tlie original
intention must have been to erect a steeple. It has a
bell and clock, and in the dial-plate was placed the moon,
which, by a movement of the machinery, indicated the
monthly changes of her phases. It was accompanied by
the stars also. Two or more bells were sent to Turritl'', in
1589, to be re-cast into one bell, which was rung until
1713, when it was cracked by a woman sti'iking it
violently with a heavy key, when a fire had broken out
in the town during the night. It was again re-cast on
17 Aug., 1713, at the head of Bailie Forsyth's Close, by
Albert Gcly, founder in Aberdeen, the expenses being
defrayed by the town. It is said that numbers of the
rich citizens repaired to the spot and cast in guineas,
crowns, half-crowns, while the poorer, also showing their
zeal, threw in shillings and sixpences, while the metal
was fused, in order to enrich the tone of St. Giles' Bell.
It was again elevated to its former place, but it was again
rent by the boys who rung it in loyalty on the King's
birthday, upon the (ith June, 1785. It was taken down
and refounded at London on the 17th October following,
having the names of the then ^Magistrates cast on its
body. Since then Buj St. Giles has sounded sweetly
unmolested in the Established Church, which is now
under the patronage of no Saint, dead or alive. The little
bell, or prayer bell, called the ^[ilust('rs Bell, was given
to the towii of Elgin by the Earl of Moray. It bears —
Thomas de Dunkau me Fecit, 1402.

The roof and aisles of St. Giles were supjiorted by five
massive ]"illars and arches on each side. Four of these
were sijuarc pillars, and tlie centre one was round. These
were itroliablv coeval with the m-iginal building of the


Church. The aisles were of the same date, also the
western front dooi'. The upper part of the front was new,
and had a large modern window, called a Venetian
window. Above the western front door stood a figure of
St. Giles, the patron saint, dressed in his robes, with a
pastoral staff in one hand and a Breviary in the other.
The pulpit of the Church, now at Pluscarden Priory, was
of oak, curiously carved, and bore the date 1G84. It
stood upon the fourth pillar, on the south side. It cost
£244*. Immediately to the west of it was the Magistrates'
Gallery, of carved oak. There was a canopy of the same
material over it, and the civic dignitaries sat there for
successive generations in great state. On one side was a
sand-glass, and on the other the usual dirty pewter bap-
tismal bason of the period, with twisted iron holder. The
water was always taken from the well, nigh hereunto,
and a napkin was hung over the pulpit for dicldin the
minister's fingers afterwards. Farther west, on the same
.side, was the Shoemakers' Loft, which was always well
filled by that numerous craft. In the front of the western
gallery was the Blacksmiths' Loft. Next to them sat the
Glovers, once a numerous bod}^ but which gradually fell
off until reduced to two in number — viz., James Elder and
Robert Blencher. These also fulfilled their day, and were
gathered to their fathers; and so the craft came to an
end. Next to the Glovers was the seat of the Earl of
Fife, the largest heritor of the parish, and then followed
the Earl of Seafield and the Earl of Moray. These noble-
men and their tenants and friends occupied nearly all the
north galleries. On the east, adjoining the tower, was
the gallery in which the merchants of the town sat, called
the Guildry Loft, and behind them were the Tailors and
Weavers, the latter almost involved in total darkness.
The Carpenters had a Loft near the top of the Church, on
the east end. It was erected about 1751, and was of
inferior materials to most of the other sittings, and, from
its extreme height, was a dangerous-looking situation.

The Church was only artificially lighted once a year —
on the occasion of the winter Communion, the evening of
the first Sunday of November. It then exhibited a
wonderful spectacle. The four large chandeliers were
filled with candles, and the pulpit and precentor's seat
blazed with similar lights. The Magistrates and all


master tradesmen had their own candlesticks, and each
family and many private individuals had the same. The
Church was illuminated with perhaps 500 candles.

Communion was celebrated on Sunday, the 1st October,
182G, and the last sermon was preached in it by the Rev.
Richard Rose, of Drainie, on Monday, the 2nd.

The Church began to be demolished in the beginning
of October, 1826, and was completely removed before the
end of that year. The building itself, and the whole
street around, were filled with the remains of the dead ;
this having been the cemetery of the burgh from the 12th
till the 17th centuries. Large quantities of bones were
carried away, showing that the churchyard here must
have been large.

The street was thereafter levelled, and the foundation
of the new Parish Church laid on IGth January, 1827, by
Sir Archibald Dunbar of Northfield, Baronet, Convener of
the Count}^ foi-merly Provost of the burgh, in presence of
a large concourse of spectators. The building was finished
in August, 1828, and was opened for public worship on
28th October that year. It cost upwards of £9,000. It
is of the Grecian Doric order, in the form of a Greek
temple, being a copy of the monument of Lysicrates,
planned by Archibald Simpson, architect, Aberdeen. It
is seated for above 1,700 people.

Although St. Giles' Church had been the principal place
of worship in the burgh for nearly six centuries, yet its
removal had almost become a necessity. It had no beauty
of exterior, being a most unseemly structure. The interior
had some appearance of grandeur, but it was extremely
ill-arranged, and quite unsuited f jr Presbytei'ian worshij);
many of the sitters not seeing the minister at all, and
perhaps having difficulty in hearing him. In winter it
was exceedingly cold; and there was no vestry, nor any
accommodation for the ministers. While its architecture
suited well enough with the old grey houses which then
surrounded it, the fine modern buildings wliich have since
been erected would have agreed very ill witli tlie oM fabric.

From the Town Council Minutes of 28rd July, 179"),
Ijic. Monument or EffiuU of St. Giles is ordered to be
l)laced in the niche on the south side of the Tolbooth.
This image ])reviously was, as has been stated, above the
cliief entrance or western front door.


" The Little Kirk " was the Chancel of old St. Giles'
Church, and, as has been stated before, the connecting-
arch which joined the nave and chancel, was closed in the
year 1G21 and never opened again. This occurred during
the incumbency of Bishop Alexander Douglas. A new
door was made to open into the street, and the chancel
set apart for week-day service. When the roof of the
nave of St. Giles fell in 1679, the Chancel, or "Little
Kirk," does not seem to have been in any way injured.
In 1089, when Mr. Alexander Tod, the then minister ol'
the second Charge, w^as deprived for not praying for King
William and Queen Mary, it is probable that, through
the influence of Lord Duff'us, then paramount in the
town, and of the Magistrates, who were almost all attached
to Episcopacy, he was maintained in the " Little Kirk,"
and officiated there for a considerable time. Of the con-
clusion of Mr. Tod's life we know nothing. In ITO-i the
Magistrates of Elgin (Lord Duflus being then Provost)
permitted Mr. Henderson, an Episcopal minister, to con-
duct Divine Service in the "Little Kirk," but the ministers
having applied to the Privy Council an order was granted
to the Sheriff to remove him. In 1713 the Magistrates
permitted Mr. Blair, an Episcopal minister, to occupy the
building. In consequence, a criminal action was raised
against the Magistrates before the Court of Justiciary,
which was remitted to the Court of Session, when, after
proof, it was found that the "Little Kirk" was part of
the Parish Church of St. Giles, and the Magistrates were
ordained to restore it to the ministers, and were found
liable in expenses, and ordained to pay a fine of £20.
The Magistrates having appealed to the House of Lords,
the decerniture of the Court of Session and Court of
Justiciary was reversed, and it was ordered and adjudged
that the appellants (the Magistrates) should have the
possession of the " Little Kirk," it being no part of the
Parish Church. The control of the building remained
with the Magistrates in all time thereafter during its
existence. " The Little Kirk," with consent of the Magis-
trates, appears to have been opened for public worship in
connection with the Established Church in 1744 ; one of
the ministers preaching a sermon on a week-day, which
was probably continued for a long time.

VOL. I. ^ 24

Online LibraryLachlan ShawThe history of the province of Moray. Comprising the counties of Elgin and Nairn, the greater part of the county of Inverness and a portion of the county of Banff,--all called the province of Moray before there was a division into counties → online text (page 33 of 37)