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Dissent and the Church of Scotland, 1660-1690

Mirabello, Mark Linden (1988) Dissent and the Church of Scotland, 1660-1690. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

The subject of this dissertation is the ecclesiastical history of Scotland between 1660 and 1690. This work will examine the struggle between `presbytery' and `prelacy' in detail, and it will examine the role of the state in that conflict. The first three chapters deal with the post-Restoration church settlement and public reactions to that settlement, and these chapters are revisionist in approach. It is usually claimed that the decision to disestablish `presbytery' and revive `prelacy' in 1661 was unpopular, but the evidence in chapters one, two, and three suggests that the king's church polity--at least in the early years--aroused no great protest or outcry? Why? The war, turmoil, and taxes between 1637 and 1660 (the bitter harvest of the covenants) had left the Scots indifferent to religion in general and presbyterianism in particular, and although such attitudes would change in time, they were initially very real. Chapter four is an examination of the royal supremacy, one of the most controversial aspects of the post-Restoration church. In chapter four it will be argued that the presbyterians fundamentally misconstrued the nature of the royal supremacy--they exaggerated the king's ecclesiastical claims--but it will be shown that the crown's authority over the kirk was extensive nevertheless. Chapters five and six will examine the clergy of the post-Restoration kirk, the bishops and ministers that made it function. Chapters five and six will analyze the background and credentials of the clergy, and it will discuss the validity of the various charges made against them. Chapter seven will examine the ecclesiastical courts of the post-Restoration church, and it will discuss how the revival of prelacy affected these courts and changed their composition and function. It has been argued that the post-Restoration kirk was basically a `presbyterian church' with bishops superimposed for political purposes, but chapter seven will show that this opinion is incorrect, for in the period `church power' was clearly concentrated in the hands of the bishops, and, by and large, the church courts only existed in a mutated or abbreviated state. The changes in the church courts are important, for they help explain why the post-Restoration kirk could not accommodate presbyterians in the long run. Chapter eight is an analysis of the worship of the post-Restoration kirk. It will discuss the various developments in worship--the rejection of the Director of Public Worship, the resurrection of set forms of prayer, the repudiation of the lecture, the reinstitution of kneeling, the revival of the Perth Articles--and it will argue that the post-Restoration kirk was slowly drifting from the simple, spontaneous covenanter mode of worship to a more elaborate and structured mode that derived its inspiration from the Church of England. Chapters nine, ten and eleven are a history of presbyterian nonconformity. These chapters divide the history of dissent into three periods. First, a period of weakness (extending from early 1663 to roughly 1668-1669), when conventicles were few and most Scots conformed. This weakness was largely the result of the initial unpopularity of the covenanting cause and the traditional Scottish aversion to schism. Next, there was a period of vitality (extending from 1668-1669 to the Bothwell Bridge Rebellion), when dissent grew stronger and stronger and began to show some militant tendencies. The evidence suggests that this burst of vitality was inadvertently fostered by the government's `indulgence' policy. And finally, a third period (extending from the Rebellion to the granting of religious toleration in 1687), when conventicles again became rare and most Scots again conformed. This collapse, it will be argued, was the result of persecution (the traditional explanation) and the actions of certain radical sects who unwittingly undermined and disrupted presbyterianism with their `excesses.' Chapter twelve analyzes the persecution which the presbyterians endured. In the course of examing the various penalties used against dissenters--some of which were designed to deprive the nonconformist of his wealth and property, and others which were designed to affect the liberty, health, and even the life of the nonconformist--chapter twelve will correct some presbyterian hyperbole. The traditional presbyterian sources, such as the definitive work by Robert Wodrow, tend to emphasize the rigor of the persecution, but chapter twelve shows that the penal laws were often inconsistently applied. And finally, chapter thirteen will examine Scotland's last ecclesiastical revolution, the victory of presbyterianism in 1689-1690. The directors of the `revolution,' King William and his supporters, justified the charge on the grounds that presbyterianism was favored by the majority, but chapter thirteen questions the validity of that claim, and argues that political considerations, rather than demographic factors, were responsible for the presbyterian triumph.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Supervisor's Name: Cowan, Prof. Ian B.
Date of Award: 1988
Depositing User: Geraldine Coyle
Unique ID: glathesis:1988-896
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Jun 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:27
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/896

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