FROM THE ARCHIVES 4
As part of the research for my Master’s Degree in Scottish History, I’ve spent many hours rummaging in archives. There are lots of interesting bits and pieces about the area that I’d like to share. You might even see a relative’s name crop up!
Old newspapers are an invaluable source of information on the village and its goings on; it’s sometimes surprising how people from a small place can have a big impact. These extracts from publications of the 1730s and 1740’s show just how a local man was involved in Church politics of the time.
Many may have heard of the Reverend Alexander Moncrieff, one of the instigators of the secession movement in Scotland, and a local landowner. The Caledonian Mercury of Tuesday 15 May 1733 reports on the rebuke of Ebeneezer Erskine, and the calling of Rev’s Fisher, Moncrieff and Wilson to appear before the Assembly to answer for their contentious opinions. It is not until the edition of the Scotsman published on Friday 02 May 1740 that we see a report of the final decision of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland to depose Moncrief (sic) and seven other ministers, including Ralph Erskine of Dunfermline, for their secession in 1733 and the forming of the Associate Congregation. The Associate Presbytery in Abernethy attracted national interest, and in August 1743 the Newcastle Courant reported that a Reverend Mr Arrat offended his own brethren so highly they immediately suspended him for heresy! Disagreement in the ranks of the new doctrine were common, even among the leaders. The Scots Magazine on Friday 03 March 1749 carried an advert for a pamphlet by ‘Mr Alexander Moncrieff Minister at Abernethy’ which cost 4d (old pence) – ‘Animadversions [criticisms] upon Mr Ralph Erskine’s Fancy still no faith; with some remarks on Mr Hutton’s speech to the Associate Synod, April 7th 1748’.