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Episcopacy in the Parish—The Rev. Robert dimming remains
Episcopalian, but retains the Living.—Cumming and the
Presbyterian Clergy.—The State of the Parish.—Presby­
terian Missionaries.—Presbytery Meetings in the Parish.—
The Rev. William Gordon.—A Missionary Preacher Settled
in Glenmoriston. — The Rev. John Grant.—He Favours
Prince Charles and is Imprisoned in England.—His Death
and Character.—The Rev. James Grant.—The Rev. James
Fowler.—Troubles in the Parish.—The Meetings of Duncan
of Buntait.—The Factor Interferes and Mysteriously Dies.—
The Rev. James Doune Smith.—Charges of Immorality.—
The People Desert the Church.—Presbyterial Enquiry.—
Smith Interdicts the Presbytery.—The Disruption.—The
Rise, Influence, and Character of the Men.—State of Religion
in Glenmoriston.—The Rev. Robert Monro.—Royal Bounty
Missionaries.—Glenmoriston Erected into a Parish quoad
—Churches and Chapels in Olden Times.—Worship
and Church Service in the Past.—Legends and Relics of the
Saints.—Festival Days.—Gaelic Liturgy.—The Gaelic Bible.
—Gaelic Tunes.—The Sabbath in Olden Times.—Sports
and Pleasures.—Sunday Christenings and Penny Weddings.
—Lykewakes.— Introduction of Puritanism.—Its Progress
and Effects.

The Reverend Angus Macbean had a considerable
following in Inverness at the Revolution, but out­
side the town few joined the Presbyterian party,
of which he was the local leader. The great bulk
of the country people reverenced the bishops,

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.                 371

both because of the antiquity of their order, and,
still more, on account of their loyalty to King
James, whom the Presbyterians had deserted.
They were Episcopalians, chiefly because they were
Jacobites. From a religious or ecclesiastical point
of view, it was difficult for them to see wherein the
two systems differed. The Episcopalians had their
kirk sessions, and presbyteries, and synods, and
genera] assemblies, just as the Presbyterians had ; and
to the man who seldom or never beheld the bishop,
who, under Episcopacy, was perpetual moderator of
the synod, the government of the Church under the
one system appeared very much the same as under
the other. Practically, too, the same order of public
worship was followed by both parties. Years passed
after the Revolution before the Episcopal Church in
Scotland—that is, the body that adhered to the rule
of the bishops—betook itself to the regular use of a
liturgy, and so entered upon that divergent course
which it followed until there was little left to
distinguish its services from those of the Church of
England. But if the people were unable to discern
the difference between the Churches, they had no
difficulty in distinguishing the friends of King James
—the Tories or Jacobites—from his enemies ; and so
strong was their dislike to the Whigs and their
Presbyterianism, that, in many parishes in Tnverness-
shire and Wester Ross, the Episcopal clergy who
refused to conform when Presbytery was re-estab­
lished were able to hold their churches and manses
and glebes and stipends till the day of their death,


Mr Robert Gumming, minister of Urquhart and
Glenmoriston at the Revolution, was an Episcopalian
and a Jacobite, and, notwithstanding the presence of
the Whig soldiers in the Castle, he refused to con­
form to Presbytery, or to surrender his charge and
its emoluments. In this course he had the sympathy
and support of his parishioners ; and the result was
that, for forty years after the legal establishment of
the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, our Parish
remained Episcopalian, having an Episcopalian
clergyman as its spiritual guide. It was not until
the hopes of the Stewarts had been extinguished at
Culloden that the people finally yielded to the
inevitable, and began to take kindly to Presbytery.

Mr Cumming, as a matter of course, refrained
from attending the Presbyterian church courts ; but,
otherwise, he and the Presbyterian clergy appear to
have behaved toward each other with courtesy and
kindliness, and when, in 1724, the Parish became
part of the newly-created Presbytery of Abertarff,
the members of that court recorded at their first
meeting that “ Mr Robert Cumming, being of the
Episcopal persuasion, it is not expected he should
attend our meetings.”1 This consideration and want
of bigotry led him to co-operate to some extent with
them. In March, 1725, Mr Thomas Fraser, minister
of Boleskine, “ informed the Presbytery that he was
desired by Master Robert Cumming, Episcopal
Incumbent at Urquhart, to acquaint this Presbytery
that great encroachments were made by trafficking

1 Abertarff Presbytery RecordsMeeting of 8th July, 1724.

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.                373

Priests and Popish Emissaries upon that Corner of
the Parish called Glenmoriston ; that there were a
great number of Tre-lapses and Quadra-lapses in the
sin of uncleanness in that part—also that Adulteries,
Incests, Notorious Profanation of the Lord’s Day,
and Contempt of the Ordinances were frequent
in the said Parish ; and Likewise to crave in
the name of the said Master Cumming the
advice and concurrence of this Presbytery in
matters of discipline.” Mr Fraser was instructed
to require Mr Cumming to summon the offenders
to the next meeting of Presbytery, “ and to
come himself alongst, that the Presbytery may
be more fully informed as to these delinquents,
and then proceed as they shall see cause. ” Mr
Cumming did not appear at the next meeting, but
he sent a letter concerning the scandals ; and at the
May meeting Mr Fraser was appointed “ to repair to
the said parish, and, the said Master Cumming being
present for his information, to hold a session, and
summon delinquents before the same, and to appoint
them respectively to undergo a course of discipline
according to the rules and practice of this Church.”
On 18th August Mr Fraser gave in a report on the
condition of the Parish, which had a stirring effect
upon the brethren. Mr Alexander Macbean, one of
the missionaries of the Society for Propagating
Christian Knowledge, was instructed “ to spend the
remaining six weeks of his mission in Glenmoriston
and Urquhart—four weeks thereof in Glenmoriston,
and two in Urquhart ; ” Mr Skeldoch, minister of


Kilmonivaig, and Mr Chapman, missionary, were
appointed to preach on the following Sunday at
Duldreggan, and Mr Macbean, and Mr Gilchrist,
minister of Kilmallie, at Invermoriston on the same
day ; and the Presbytery resolved to meet at
Bunloit on the 23rd. Mr Cumming appeared at the
Bunloit meeting, but of the delinquents only one
showed face, and the Court, finding “ the design of
their meeting in this place was disappointed .
enjoined Master Robert Cumine to use all diligence
in enquiring into the several gross scandals that are
in this Parish,” and to summon the offenders to
appear before the next meeting of Presbytery.
Moreover, “the Moderator, in consequence of a
previous concert with the members of Presbytery,
did expostulate with Master Robert Cumine anent
his preaching so seldom at Glenmoriston, and did
enjoin him greater diligence in that and in all the
other parts of his ministerial work, and that he
would receive and observe the instructions that
should be sent him from time to time by the

This obvious attempt to get the sturdy Episco­
palian to acknowledge the Presbytery’s jurisdiction
was not successful. At the next meeting (6th
October) the names of the Urquhart and Glenmor-
iston delinquents were called, but none responded—
and there was no report or explanation from their
pastor. The Moderator was instructed to write to
him expressing dissatisfaction with his conduct, and
requiring him “ peremptorily to cause summon them

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.                 375

[the delinquents] to the next meeting of Presbytery,
and to send a report of his diligence in enquiring
into the said scandals to said meeting.” Mr
Cumming neither summoned nor reported, but in
May, 1726, he addressed a letter to the Presbytery,
suggesting that they should meet in Glenmoriston,
“ in order to curb vice and immoralitie so much
abounding in that corner.” They gladly accepted
the invitation, and instructed the Moderator to
“signify to him that it is verie agreeable to them
how carefull he is to have vice and immoralitie
curbed in his charge.” The Glenmoriston meeting
was held on 5th and Gth October. It dealt with
the delinquents whom Mr Cumming desired to curb,
and more important still, it arranged for the erection
of the first school opened in the Parish. For the
first time since the Revolution the old incumbent
is described as “Minister.” He, however, still
refrained from attending the meetings of the Pres­
bytery, and remained, in principle, an Episcopalian.
He died in 1730—the last survivor, perhaps, of
that steadfast band of Highland Prelatists who
continued to hold their livings after the disestab­
lishment of their Church. On 8th April of that year
his death was intimated to the Presbytery, and on
the 26th Mr Thomas Montfod, a missionary within
the bounds, preached at Kilmore, and declared the
church vacant.1

1 The Rev. Robert Cumming’s Last Will and Testament (signed at
Kilmore on 23rd March, ,1730, in presence of John Grant, Chamberlain of
Urquhart, Alexander Grant of Shewglie, and Ludovick Grant in Drumna-
drochit) was recorded in the Inverness Commissary Books on 15th December,


Mr Cumming’s successor was the Reverend
William Gordon, or rather Macgregor, who was
presented by the Laird of Grant as patron,1 and
ordained and admitted on 24th December. He
found that he could not without assistance serve the
cure as it ought to be served, and he induced the
Presbytery in 1731 to appoint Mr Montfod,
“ Missionary Preacher” in Glenmoriston. He was
translated to Alvie in 1739,2 and Mr John Grant,
a native of Strathspey, became minister of Urquhart
and Glenmoriston. His presentation was laid before
the Presbytery in January, 1740, and, after the usual

1730, by his widow and executrix, Isobell Chisholm. The will commences in
the following appropriate terms :—“I, Mr Robert Cuming, Minister of
Urquhart, being for the time sick in body, and yet (praised be God) sound in
judgment and memory, and considering the frailty of my life, that there is
nothing more certaiu than death and nothing more uncertain than the time
thereof, am therefore resolved so to order and dispose of my worldly affairs as
(the samen being done) that I may thereafter be fitting and preparing myself
for my last change, hoping to partake of the blessed Life in Immortality
purchased by the Death and Passion of my only Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ. And iu consequence of my said resolution I nominate, constitute,
and appoint Isobell Chisolm, my well beloved Spouse, my sole Executrix,” &c.
He leaves his whole estate to his widow, with the exception of his books,
which he bequeaths to his grandchild, Alexander Fraser, son of his daughter,
Isobell Cumming, and her husband, Hugh Fraser in Bruiach. Isobell Chis-
holm was Cumming’s second wife—his first having been Helen Kinnaird.

1  This appears to have been the first exercise by the Lairds of Grant of
the right of patronage of Urquhart and Glenmoriston. In Roman Catholic
times the right belonged to the Chancellor of Moray. In 1593 it was con­
ferred by James the Sixth on Alexander, Lord Spynie, from whose son Sir
John Grant purchased it in 1622. In Protestant Episcopalian times it was
exercised by the minister of Inveravon as Chancellor of Moray. Patronage
was abolished in 1690, but restored in 1711. It was finally abolished in 1874.

2 Mr Gordon and “ some of the gentlemen in the Parish of Urquhart,” pro­
vided 250 merks for the benefit of the poor in the Parish, “reserving to them
and their heirs, during vacancies, the distribution of the interest thereof
among the poor.”—(Abertarff Presbytery Records, 19th March, 1740).

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.                377

trials, he was ordained and admitted at Kilmore on
17th January, 1741. It has already been told how
he espoused the cause of Prince Charles in The
Forty-Five, was seized by Ludovick Grant, and
imprisoned for a time in Tilbury Fort. With
that exception his long career was uneventful.
His death took place at Inverness in 1792—his
nephew, Mr James Grant, having been assistant
and successor to him since 1777. He was
of a warm-hearted and kindly disposition, and a
story is still told which well illustrates the
simplicity of his habits. On one occasion, entering
the humble dwelling of John Cameron, Bal-an-
t-Strathan, or Coilty-side, he found the poor old
man broiling a sheep’s liver on a pair of tongs,
which were half-buried in the white ashes of a peat
fire. The minister sat with Cameron until the
latter had finished his cooking and his repast, and
then left. Some time afterwards the old man
begged him for a little meal, as his barrel was
empty. “ Gu dearbh cha’n fhaigh,” was the reply,
“eha bu mhath an t-òlach thu fhein le do ghrùthan!”
Indeed you will not get that ; you yourself were
not so liberal with your liver!” By his will he
bequeathed the sum of £700 for the support of a
student of divinity, and one of philosophy, at Aber­
deen University. The bequest was disputed ; but in
1795 his successor, Mr James Grant, compromised
the matter by making a payment of £200 to the
University for the maintenance of a bursar in
philosophy or divinity, either of the name of Grant,


or descended from Captain Thomas Fraser of
Newton, commonly called Dunballoch.1

The Reverend James Grant survived his uncle
but a few years. He died at Elgin in October,
1798 ; and in January following Mr James Fowler,
missionary in Abertarff and Glenmoriston, was
presented to the Parish by Sir James Grant, and
admitted at Kilmore on 26th March. By this time
the “ Men” had appeared in Urquhart, and the people
had begun to have views of their own in matters
of religion. The more earnest among them dis­
approved of the settlement. Active opposition was
anticipated, and on the day of his induction the
presentee appeared with a bodyguard of Glen-
moriston men. To do battle with these the
women of the congregation prepared themselves by
filling their aprons with stones. Fortunately, the
threatened conflict was avoided ; but the minister
failed to conciliate his opponents, and many of the
people deserted the church, and betook them­
selves to the meetings of the eloquent Duncan
Macdonald of Bunloit, better known in after life as
Donnchadh Bhuntait—Duncan of Buntait. Duncan’s
success as an exponent of the Gospel, and his fame as
a man of prayer, annoyed the factor, Duncan Grant,

1 Mr Grant’s wife was of the Dunballoch family. A tablet to her
memory still stands in the ruined walls of the old Church of Kilmore, bearing
the following inscription :—“ Erected by the Reverend Mr John Grant, Minr.
of Urquhart, in memory of Æmilia Fraser, his beloved wife. She died 11th
Febry. 1759, aged 44 years. A pattern of Virtue, Remarkable for Hospitality
and Charity, Respected and Lamented by all her Acquaintances. Time, how
short ! Eternity, how long !“



Dulshangie, the minister’s brother-in-law, whom he
also greatly offended by going out of his way to
advise the young men not to join the Urquhart
Volunteers, in which Dulshangie was an enthusiastic
lieutenant, and of which his father-in-law, Alpin
Grant, Borlum, was captain. His removal was
therefore resolved on, and he had to seek a home on
The Chisholm’s lands of Buntait. The change
brought no good to the brothers-in-law. The Devil,
with that ingratitude which has always characterised
him in the folk­lore of the Highlands, conspired with
the equally ungrateful witches of Urquhart to
destroy the factor. As the doomed man was
returning one night from Inverness, in company with
the Black Campbell of Borlum-mor, he was met by
the Fiend in the wood of Abriachan, and so beaten
and pounded that he went home to die. The
witches’ share in his destruction was less violent.
They quietly placed his clay figure, stuck with pins,
in a stream, and, as the image wore away by the
action of the water, so the body which it represented
painfully wasted towards death. These events
occurred in 1803, and so deep was the impression
which they made on the people, that many who had
hitherto adhered to Mr Fowler now forsook him ;
and for years there was not an elder in the Parish.
Things began to look better in 1811, when four
elders — John Macdonald, schoolmaster, Bunloit ;
William Mackenzie, Lewistown ; Donald Macmillan,
Grotaig (Domhnul Mac Uilleim) ; and Duncan Mac-
millan, Oldtown of Shewglie, latterly of Balnalick


(an t-Eilldear Ruadh)—were ordained. The min­
ister’s days were however, numbered, and he
departed this life in May, 1814.

His successor, the Reverend James Doune Smith,
was admitted at Kilmore on 20th April, 1815. He
was a man of kindliness and culture, but of uncertain
moral character. Charge of adultery followed charge,
with the result that he was deserted by his congre­
gation even before the Disruption of 1843. On
3rd May, 1842, Alexander Fraser, Garabeg,
appeared before the Presbytery of Abertarff, at
Invergarry, and presented a petition signed by 248
heads of families in Glen-Urquhart, “ setting forth
that there was no acting Kirk Session, and praying
for a visitation of the Presbytery to the Parish to
remedy matters.” The Presbytery, which had for
years evinced an anxious desire to get at the truth
or untruth of the charges, responded by appointing
a meeting to be held at Drumnadrochit on 5th
July, to which they cited Mr Smith and the
witnesses who were prepared to give evidence
against him. The meeting took place, but its
deliberations were interrupted by a messenger-at-
arms, who entered and served a “ Note of Suspension
and Interdict the Reverend J. Doune Smith against
the Presbytery of Abertarff.” The brethren, unac­
customed to such interference, and uncertain as to
their proper course, adjourned for a day. When
they again met they resolved to report the circum­
stances to the General Assembly, “ as the Note of
Suspension and Interdict at the instance of Mr

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.                381

Smith included the Presbytery, their Agent, the
Witnesses of the Prosecution, and the Ministers
associated with the Presbytery, . . . and they
could not satisfy the ends of justice in the circum­
stances.” In their indignation they placed it on
record that they “ disclaim the right of interference
of the Court of Session in this and all other questions
of Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction,” and cited Mr Smith
to appear before the ensuing meeting of the Com­
mission of the Assembly. And then appeared
Alexander Chisholm, Boglashin, with “ more than
twenty” others, and presented a petition from
certain of the inhabitants, “ setting forth that they
were conscientiously restrained from attending the
ministrations of Mr Smith, and praying that some
provision should be made for the dispensation of
religious ordinances in the Parish.” On enquiry the
Presbytery ascertained “ that the attendance at the
church for some time past had been very small, and
that there was a number of children still unbaptised.”
Mr Smith thereupon stated “ that for the period
prior to the meeting of the Commission he intended
that the religious ordinances should be administered
in a manner satisfactory to all parties, and that for
this purpose he intended to invite a number of clergy­
men, and that the Moderator, or Mr Fraser, Kirk-
hill, was to baptise the children.” Of this arrange­
ment the Presbytery approved ; but the interference
of the Court of Session with the Scottish ecclesi­
astical courts was followed by more disastrous
consequences than the interruption of the course of


justice at Drumnadrochit—it rent in twain the old
Church of Scotland. At the Disruption Mr Smith’s
parishioners joined the Free Church with scarce an
exception, and henceforth till his death in 1847 he
preached to empty benches in the pretty new church
which the heritors had but recently erected for him—

Suidheachanan falamh,

Agus ballachan bàna ;

An clag a’ buaileadh,

’S cha’n eil an sluagh ’tighinn !l

Unfortunate though the people of Urquhart were
in their clergy for many years, their corner of
the Vineyard was not allowed to lie wholly
waste. The very weakness and apathy of their
ministers helped to raise up from among themselves
labourers of wonderful fervour and power. The
Men—na Daoine—are a comparatively modern insti­
tution. They appear in Sutherland and Easter
Ross about the beginning of the eighteenth century,

1 Lines of the Disruption time, which may be translated : —“ The pews
are empty, and the walls are white ; the bell tolls, but the people do not come.”
The ministers of the Parish since the Disruption have been—Rev. Donald
M’Connachie, from 1848 to 1864 ; Rev. John Cameron, 1865 to 1879 ; and
the present minister, the Rev. J. P. Campbell, admitted in 1880. The Rev.
Archibald Macneill is the first minister of the quoad sacra Parish of Glenmoriston,
erected in 1891. The Free Church ministers of the Parish have been—In
Glen-Urquhart, the Rev. Alexander Macdonald, from 1844 to 1864 ; the Rev.
Angus Macrae, from 1866 to 1892 ; and the Rev. Alexander Mackay, admitted
in 1892 : in Glenmoriston, the Rev. Francis Macbean, from 1844 to 1869 ; the
Rev. Alexander Maccoll, from 1870 to 1877 ; the Rev. Donald Macinnes, from
1879 to 1889 ; and the present minister, the Rev. William Mackinnon, inducted
in 1891. Mr Macbean and Mr Maccoll had also the Free Church charge at
Fort­Augustus, where they resided. The priest of Stratherrick or of Fort-
Augustus officiates at intervals in the Roman Catholic Chapel, Glenmoriston ;
and St Ninian’s Episcopal Church, Glen-Urquhart (founded by Mr A. H. F.
Cameron of Lakefield), is open during summer and autumn.

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.                 383

but there were none in our Parish before Culloden.
Urquhart owes much to these men of piety and
love, who—frequently while their pastors slumbered
and slept—laboured for the welfare of their fellows
with an earnestness and an eloquence that pene­
trated into the very soul. Their unbounded influ­
ence has not yet exhausted itself, and the people of
Urquhart will long cherish the memories of such
saints as Duncan of Buntait, and Donald Macmillan
of Grotaig, who helped to keep the lamp of the
Gospel burning during the dark years that closed
the last century and opened the present ; and John
Macdonald, the schoolmaster and catechist of Bun-
loit, and Duncan of Buntait’s son Alexander, who
both bore the burden of the day during the evil
times that culminated, much against their wish, in
the Disruption of the Church.1

The district of Glenmoriston, which had its
chapels and its clergy during the periods of the
Celtic and Roman Catholic Churches, was in a state
of ecclesiastical desolation for many years after the
Reformation. It had no clergyman of its own, and
the parish minister only paid it an occasional visit.
The first attempt at improvement was made in 1676,
when Mr Robert Monro was appointed minister in

1 Among other Men who flourished in Glen-Urquhart during the present
century, and whose names deserve to be remembered, were William Mackenzie,
Lewistown ; Duncan Macmillan, Balnalick ; John Cumming, Milton ; Kenneth
Macdonald, Meiklie-na-h-Aitnich, and his sons, John Macdonald, Milton, and
Alexander Macdonald, Craigmore ; Neil Maclean, schoolmaster, Bunloit ;
William Fraser, Lewistown ; Alexander Grant, Inchvalgar ; Alexander Chis-
holm, Boglashin ; John Fraser, Garabeg ; Alexander Macmillan, Achnababan ;
Alexander Fraser, Marchfield ; and John Maclennan, Milton.


Glenmoriston and Abertarff. He died about 1698,
and thereafter no special effort appears to have been
made to supply the spiritual wants of the district,
until 1725, when Mr Alexander Macbean, a mis­
sionary employed by the Society for Propagating
Christian Knowledge, preached there for four weeks.
Next year Mr Thomas Montfod was appointed
catechist in Glenmoriston and Abertarff. On the
Reverend William Gordon’s admission to our Parish
he pleaded “ for a missionary Preacher to the United
Parishes of Urquhart and Glenmoriston, there being
four stated places of worship in that Parish, besides
that the country of Glenmoriston lies at a consider­
able distance from the minister’s place of residence,
and mostly inaccessible to him during the winter
season.” The result was that Mr Montfod, who had
meanwhile been ordained a minister, was promoted
to be missionary preacher, and paid by the Royal
Bounty Committee. He soon gave up the appoint­
ment to become minister of Kilmallie ; but since his
time Glenmoriston has been pretty regularly supplied
at the expense of the Committee. Until 1811 the
missionary preacher resided at Fort­Augustus, and
had Abertarff and Glenmoriston under his charge.
In that year the Committee agreed to establish a
separate mission in Glenmoriston, and to pay the
missionary a salary of £60 a year, the proprietor
furnishing him with a place of meeting and a
dwelling-house and other allowances. That arrange­
ment continued without much change till 1891,
when Glenmoriston was erected into a parish quoad
and a new church erected and endowed.

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.                 385

Only a hurried glance can be taken at the
manners and customs of our forefathers in matters
of religion. The churches and chapels in which
they worshipped have already been referred to.
Small buildings these were to begin with—con­
structed of timber or wattles, or, during the latter
part of the Celtic Church period, of dry stone.
Better edifices were raised in Roman Catholic
times, and on the eve of the Reformation the
Parish Church and St Ninian’s Chapel (The
Temple) were substantial buildings, with belfries




and suspended bells. The other chapels had hand
bells of the old Celtic square type, which served to
call the people to prayer, and which were carried at
funerals by the bellman, who walked in front of the
coffin, ringing as he went. The Parish Church,
which was rebuilt in 1630, was the burial place of
the more considerable families till the beginning of
the eighteenth century, and was so overcrowded
with the dead that their relics frequently protruded
through the earthen floor, to be fought over by the
dogs that accompanied the worshipping people.
For the malignant fevers that from time to time
ravaged our Glens in the Olden Times, the human
remains within the church were perhaps not less
responsible than the insanitary state of the dwelling-

It is difficult to say what exactly was the manner
of worship of our fathers during the early Christian
ages. In the Celtic Church there was probably
little preaching, in the modern sense of the word—

1 The parish church at Kilmore was thatched with heather, till about the
middle of last century, when it was roofed with native slate. In 1642 the
Synod ordered the Presbytery to “ have a special caire “ that the church
should be outwardly repaired, and provided with “ inward plenishing.” Next
year it was reported that the work “ is already begun and going on.” The
“ inward plenishing” consisted of a pulpit, communion table and forms, and
stool of repentance. For years after 1642 there were no seats or pews for the
use of the people. During divine service they stood, or moved about—the
aged and infirm, however, providing themselves with small stools. When
pews became common, it was found necessary to appoint an officer whose duty
it was to go about with a long rod, poking slumberers into wakefulness and
attention to the sermon. In the latter part of the seventeenth century, and
early part of the eighteenth, the people smoked in church—a habit which at
an earlier period was common in England and the South of Scotland. In
time smoking gave place to snuffing ; and the snuff-box has not yet ceased to
go it
s round in the churches of our Parish.



only a simple delivery of the message of salvation
by the clerics who served in the chapels. They
were eminently men of prayer, who were also much
given to the singing of Latin psalms and Gaelic
hymns. The chapels were resorted to by the people,
not only on the Sabbath, but also, for private
devotion, on the other days of the week—a custom
which continued down through the Roman Catholic
and early Protestant periods, and which the
Reformed Clergy had much difficulty in suppressing,
as superstition, as late as the close of the seven­
teenth century. They were also comaraich, or
sanctuaries, for such as sought shelter from the
vengeance of their fellow men.

During the Romish period the services of the
Church were liturgical, and conducted chiefly in
Latin. Preaching had no place in them, but there
was much telling of the marvellous legends of the
saints, and much adoration of their images and
relics. The crucifix of St Drostan was enshrined
within the Temple, or St Ninian’s Chapel, and was
under the care of a deoir, or keeper, whose office was
probably hereditary, and who had the free possession
of Croit-an-Deoir (the Deoir or Dewar’s Croft) for
his services.1 At Kil Michael, the Archangel’s Bell,
which rang of its own accord at the approach of a
funeral, was the object of great veneration, as was
Merchard’s bell in Glenmoriston, which also rang
without human intervention when the dead passed,
and possessed other wonderful qualities already
referred to. The smaller chapels probably possessed

1 See footnote, p. 337, supra.


relics of the saints to whom they were dedicated.
Each saint commemorated by dedications in the
Parish had his annual festival day ; the general
feasts of the Church were also observed ; and
thus a great portion of the year consisted of holidays
—holy days, which, originally intended for holy
joy and religious exercise, came in time to be almost
exclusively devoted to worldly pleasure and sport.
The Reformed clergy strenuously set themselves
to suppress these festivals, but generations passed
ere their efforts resulted in their entire neglect.

The Reformation of the Church brought great
changes in the form and manner of public worship.
The Latin ritual of Rome gave place to John Knox’s
Liturgy, a Gaelic translation of which—by Bishop
Carswell of the Isles—was printed in 1567 for the
use of the Protestants of the Highlands. Preaching
found a prominent place in the new service, and
much importance was attached to the reading and
expounding of the Scriptures. The Church ordained
“ that every Kirk have a Bible in English, and that
the people be commanded to convene and hear the
plain reading and interpretation of the Scripture, as
the Kirk shall appoint.” There was no provision
for having the Bible in Gaelic, and, for almost a
century and a half after the Reformation, the High­
land clergy and readers were under the necessity of
translating the English Bible into Gaelic, as they
read. In 1690 and subsequent years Irish Bibles
were distributed in the Highlands ; the New
Testament appeared for the first time in Scottish

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.               389

Gaelic in 1767, and the Old Testament, in parts,
between 1783 and 1801. Some of the Psalms were
printed in Gaelic metre in 1659, and the remainder
in 1694 ; and since the latter year various versions
have been published. The plaintive and beautiful
“ Gaelic tunes ” to which they are sung in Urquhart
and other districts, are supposed to have been
brought from the Continent by the Highlanders
who fought under Gustavus Adolphus. More pro­
bably they are ancient chants which have come
down to us from the ages that preceded the
Reformation ;1 and the peculiar and not unpleasant
intoning in which the old-fashioned Highland clergy­
man still loves to indulge, is an echo of the church
service of the same pre-Reformation period.

The use of Knox’s Liturgy was discontinued
about the middle of the seventeenth century by
both Presbyterians and Episcopalians. The changes
in the established form of church government—from
Presbytery to Episcopacy, and from Episcopacy to
Presbytery—brought no changes in the form of
public worship, with the exception that after 1649,

1 When the “precentors” of the past taught these tunes to the young,
they, with the object of avoiding what they considered an irreverent use of
the Psalms, sang them to rhymes of their own making. The following was
popular at Gaelic singing-classes in Glen-Urquhart within the last eighty
years :—

Buntata pronn a’s bainne leo,

An comhnaidh dha mo bhroinn ;
Nam faighinnsa na dh’ ithinn diu
Gum bithinn sona chaoidh !
Words which may be rendered :—

With mashed potatoes and good milk

May I be filled for aye ;
With them me feed ; then shall I joy
Until my dying day !


the Episcopalians were more “ mindful” than the
Presbyterians of the Lord’s Prayer and the Doxo-
logy. The former did not resume the use of a
liturgy until after the Revolution ; and it is doubtful
whether Mr Robert dimming, who was Episcopal
minister of our Parish at that event, and until his
death in 1730, ever used a prayer book.

The religion of the old Highlander lay lightly on
his shoulders, and, like his brother Celt in Ireland,
he freely mixed his business and amusements with
it. His Sabbath—which till the eleventh century
he observed on Saturday and not on the Lord’s
Day1—was not entirely a day of rest. He attended
church or chapel in the morning with more or less
regularity ; but the remainder of the day was given
up to pleasures, sports, and his worldly avocations.
On that day—as is amply proved by the church
records—he, for generations after the Reformation,
drove his cattle to market, brought home his fuel,
baked his bread, fished, played shinty, and put
the stone. On that day, too, he married, christened,
and buried. The Sunday christenings and penny-
weddings were made the occasions of such boisterous
mirth that during the seventeenth century and the
early years of the eighteenth, numerous warnings
appear on the pages of the Presbytery books against

1 Bishop Carswell, as late as 1567, wrote—“ A se an seachtmhadh la Sabboid
no Sathurn an Tighearna do Dhia ”—“ the seventh day is the Sabbath, or
Saturday, of the Lord thy God.”—(Gaelic Transl. of Knox’ Prayer Book).
Even at the present time Saturday is sometimes called in our Parish “ An
t-Sàbaid Bheag”—the Little Sabbath ; and it is accorded a degree of respect
and “ sacredness” which is denied to the other “ week­days.”

THE CHURCH IN THE PARISH.                   391

piping, fiddling, and dancing at them. The lyke-
wakes were even more uproarious, the chamber of
death being filled night after night with jest, song,
and tale, the music of the violin and the pipe, and
the shout and clatter of the Highland reel. Every­
where the native buoyancy of the Celt asserted
itself—in season and out of season. A change was,
however, to come over his spirit. Puritanism,
which was introduced into Scotland by the English
sectaries of the Commonwealth, took deep root, after
the Restoration, among the persecuted Covenanters
of the Lowlands. It did not reach the people of
Urquhart till old barriers were removed by the
events of The Forty-five ; but, if it was late in coming,
its progress among them was amazingly rapid, and
before the end of the century it held them in its
coils with a tightness which has not yet appreciably
relaxed. To it we owe our rigid Sabbatarianism,
the sacramental preaching week, our crowded com­
munions, and long communion services.1 It has

1To ingratiate themselves with Cromwell,” says Principal Lee in Hist.
of Church of Scotland, the Protesters declined praying for the King, and
framed their churches after the model of the Sectarians. They introduced a
mode of celebrating the divine ordinances, which till that time had been
unknown in Scotland, and which came afterwards to be generally practised by
those whose meetings were interdicted by the severe enactments of the
Government after the King’s restoration. They preached and prayed at
much greater length, and with much greater fervour than their brethren. At
the administration of the communion they collected a great number of
ministers, and performed Divine service two or three successive days before,
and one at least after the solemnity.” The “ Question Day ” (Friday) of the
communion week is of Highland origin, having grown out of the institution of
the Men. Knox approved of the monthly celebration of communion ; but
before Culloden ic was very seldom celebrated in the Highlandssome times
not for years in Urquhart and other parishes.


done much for religion in the Highlands, bub it has
not been an unmixed blessing. It has to a great
extent destroyed the songs and tales which were the
wonderfully pure intellectual pastime of our fathers ;
it has suppressed innocent customs and recreations
whose origin was to be found in remote antiquity ;
it has in many cases engrafted self-righteousness on
the character of religious professors ; and it has
with its iron hand crushed merriment and good
fellowship out of the souls of the people, and in their
place planted an unhealthy gloominess and dread of
the future, entirely foreign to the nature of the Celt.1

1 See Appendix N for the Stipend, &c, of the Minister at various periods.

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