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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III

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132 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [West Church. the 27th October, 1592, by ?(the hail1 elderes, deacones, and honest men of ye parochin . . . . quha hes agreit, all in ane voice, that in all tymes coming, thair be ane preaching everie Thursday, and that it begin at nyne hours in ye morning, and ye officer of ye kirk to gang with ye bell at aught hours betwixt the Bow Fut and the Toun-end.? This Thursday sermon was kept up until the middle of the eighteenth century. The ?? toun-end ? is supposed to mean Fountain Bridge, sometimes of old called the Causeway-end. . In 1589 the Kirk Session ordained that none in the parish should have ?? yair bairnes ? baptised, admitted to mamage, repentance, or alms, but those who could repeat the Lord?s Prayer, the Belief, and the Commandments, and ?gif ane compt yair of, quhen yai ar examinet, and yis to be publishit in ye polpete.? In the following year a copy of the Confession of Faith and the National Covenant was subscribed by the whole parish. From the proximity of the church to the castle, in the frequent sieges sustained by the latter, the former suffered considerably, particularly after the invention of artillery. At the Reformation it had a roof of thatch, probably replacing a former one of stone. The thatch was renewed in 1590, and new windows and a loft were introduced; two parts of the expense were borne by the parish, the other by Adam, Bishop of Orkney, a taxation which he vehemently contested. Among other additions to the church was ?a pillar for adulterers,? built by John Howieson and John Gaims in August, 1591. The thatch was removedand theroof slated. In 1594 a manse adjoining the church was built for Mr. Robert Pont, on the ?site of the present one, into which is inserted an ancient fragment of the former, inscribed- RELIGIOXI ET POSTERIS IN MINISTERIO. S.R. P. G. A. 1594 The burying-ground in those days was confined to the rising slope south-west of the church, and as ? nolt, horse, and scheipe ? were in the habit of grazing there, the wall being in ruins, it was repaired in 1597. The beadle preceded all funerals with a hand-bell-a practice continued in the eighteenth century. -In consequence of the advanced age of Messrs. Pont and Aird, a third minister, hlr. Richard Dickson, was appointed to the parish in May, 1600, and in 1606 communion was given on three successive Sundays. On the 8th of May that year the venerable Mr. Pont passed from the scene of his labours,and is supposed to have been interred within the church. To his memory a stone was erected, which, when the present edifice was built, was removed to the Rev. Mr. Williamson?s tomb on the high ground, in which position it yet remains. His colleague, Mr. Aircl, survived hini but a few months, and their succkssors, Messrs. Dickson and Arthur, became embroiled with the Assembly in 16 I 9 for celebrating communion to the people seated at a table, preventing them from kneeling, as superstitious and idolatrous. Mr. Dickson was ordered ?to enter his person in ward within the Castle of Dumbarton,? and .Mr. Arthur to give communion to the people on their knees ; but he and the people declined to ??comply with a practice so nearly allied to popery.? Mr. Dickson was expelled in 1620, but Mr. Arthur was permitted to remain. Among those who were sitters in the church at this time were Williani Napier, of the Wrytes house, and his more illustrious kinsman, John Napier, of Merchiston, the inventor of logarithms, whose ?dasks,? or seats, seem to have been close together. The old church, like that of Duddingstone, was furnished with iron jougs, in which it appears that Margaret Dalgleish was compelled to figure on the 23rd of April, 1612, for her scandalous behaviour; and in 1622, John Reid, ?poltriman,? was publicly rebuked in church for plucking ?geiss upon the Lord his Sabbath, in tyme of sermon.? We are told in the ? History of the West Church,? that ? in 1622 it was deemed proper to have a bell hung in the stekple, if the old ruinous fabric which stood between the old and new kirks might be so called,? for a new church had been added at the close of the sixteenth century. In 1618 new communion cups of silver were procured. ?They were then of a very peculiar shape, being six inches in height, gilt, and beautifully chased; but the cup itself, which was plated, was only two inches deep and twenty-four in circumference, not unlike a small soupplate affixed to the stalk of a candlestick. On the bottom was engraved the following sentence :-I wiz fa& flse COVJ of saZvafimnc and caZ @one fhe name of fh b ~ d I I 6 PsZm. I 6 I 9 ; and around the rim of the cup these words :-Fw fire Vmf Kirk ovfvith EdinhrgAe.? The year 1650 saw the church again imperilled by war. Its records bear, on the 28th July in that year, that ? No sessione was keiped in the monthe of August, because there lay ane companie at the church,? the seats of which had been destroyed and the sessioners dispersed, partly by the army of Cromwell, which lay on the south side of the parish, and that of the Scots, which lay on the north; and on the 13th of that month, after Cromwell?s retreat to Dunbar, the commission of
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West Church.] MR. NEIL MWICAR. I33 - those of other sections of the city, took courage, and sought to retrieve their past ill-conduct by noisily . preparing to raise forces to defend themselves in case of a second visit from the Highlanders. the General Assembly met in the church, and passed an Act, which, however necessary, perhaps, in those harassing times, concerning ?? the sine and guilte of the king and his house,? caused much suffering to the Covenanters after the Restoration. It was known by the name of the West Kirk Act, and was approved by Parliament the same day. Subsequently, during his siege of the castle Cromwell made the church a barrack; hence its roof and windows were destroyed by the guns of the fortress, and soon little was left of it but the bare walls, which were repaired, and opened for service in 1655. For some years subsequent the sole troubles of the incumbents were breaches of ?the Sabbath,? such as when William Gillespie, in 1659, was ?fund carrying watter, and his wyfe knoking beir,? for which they had to make public repentance, or filling people for ?taking snuff in tyme of sermon,? contrary to the Act of 18th June, 1640; till 1665, when the ?? great mutiny? in the parish occurred, and the minister, William Gordon, for ? keeping of festivals,? was railed at by the people, who closed the doors against him, for which a man and a woman, according to Wodrow, were scourged through Edinburgh. At the Revolution, those of ground to the west was added to it (including the garden,with trees, shown in Gordon?s Map), from the old boundary to the present west gate at the Lothian Road. About the same time several heritors requested permission to inter their dead in the little or Wester-kirk, which had been a species of ruin since the invasion of Cromwell. In 1745, after the victory of the Highlanders at Prestonpans, a message was sent to the ministers of the city, in the name cf ?Charles, Prince Regent,? desiring them to preach next day, Sunday, as usual; but many, alarmed by the defeat of Cope, sought refuge in the country, and no public worship was performed within the city, save by a ST. CUTHBERT?S CHURCH. (From Cmdm of Potkicmay?s [email protected]) ministers who had been ejected in 1661, and were yet alive, returned to their charges. Among them was Mr. David Williamson, who, in 1689, was settled in St. Cuthbert?s manse ; but not quietly, for the castle, defended by the Duke of Gordon, was undergoing its last disastrous siege by the troops oC William, and the church suffered so much damage from shot and shell, that for many months after the surrender in June, the people were unable to use it, and the repairs amounted to LI,~OO. If tradition has not wronged him, Mr. Williamson is the well-known (? Dainty Davie? of Scottish song, who had six wives ere the seventh, Jean. Straiton, survived him. He died in August, 1706, and was buried in the churchyard, where the vicinity of the grave is alone indicated by the letters D. W. cut on the front of the tomb in which he lies. The ancient cemetery on the knoll having been found too small for the increasing population and consequent number of interments, in 1701 a piece clergyman named Hog a t t h e Tron. It was otherwise, however, at St. Cuthbert?s, the incumbent of which was then the Rev. Neil McVicar, yho preached to a crowded congregation, many of whom were armed Highlanders, before whom he prayed for George 11. and also for Charles Edward in a fashion of his own, recorded thus by Ray, in his history of the time, and others :- ?(Bless the king! Thou knowest what king I mean. May the crown sit long on his head. As for that young man who has come among us to seek an earthly crown, we
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