Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. III


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
Volume 3 Page 132
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print