The events leading up to the `outing` of ministers.
With the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, his supporters in Scotland lost no opportunity of bringing into contempt what the Covenanters looked upon as
the saving grace of the country—the Solemn League and Covenant. On 29th May, Restoration Day ( the date of Charles landing at Dover the previous year,
picture) was facetiously observed as ‘a holiday to the Lord’. At the Cross of Edinburgh the hangman tore copies of the Covenants to pieces. Under the guidance of The Earl of Linlithgow, with minister James Ramsay, and Bailie Robert Miln, a great festival was held in Linlithgow at which a splendidly decorated throne was set up beside the Cross. It was surmounted by an effigy of the Devil, from whose mouth came a scroll with the words on it, ‘Stand to the Cause.’ On one side appeared the effigy of an old hag carrying the Covenant, and holding up an inscription: `A glorious Reformation.’ The King’s health was drunk; the display was ceremonially burnt, and after every possible indignity shown to the Covenants and the relative Acts of Parliament and Assembly, the documents were torn and burnt amid the cheers of a drunken crowd. The burgh fountain ran with wine, sweetmeats were distributed, and the revellers finished by carousing in the Palace of Linlithgow.
Against this background of allegedly popular support, the `like it or lump it ` attitude of the prelates began to surface. Parliament rose on 9th September and Middleton and the Privy Council met next day, which ratified a resolution of the bishops to meet with their clergy in the various dioceses in October. They decreed that all persons holding ecclesiastical appointments were to meet with their respective ordinaries on a day notified, refusers were to be held to he contemners of authority and liable to censure, while those convening religious meetings were to be certified as seditious. Trouble was anticipated in the west and south, but only conformity in the north. The ministers in many Synods were tardy in declaring their allegiance to their new overseers. In the diocese of Glasgow only a small number appeared to welcome the Archbishop. Not one of the ministers popularly elected since 1649 acknowledged his jurisdiction.
Meanwhile Middleton and the Privy Council resolved on a semi-royal progress through Clydesdale, Nithsdale, Galloway, and Ayrshire, by way of Glasgow, Hamilton, Paisley, Dumfries, Wigtown, Ayr, and Dumbarton. Middleton was accompanied by Privy Councillors Glencairn, Hamilton, Montrose, Morton, Eglinton, Linlithgow, Callendar, Newburgh, and Sinclair. These were all names known to the Covenanters and Middleton naively imagined their presence might stimulate the interest of the westland Whigs ( the Covenanters) in the new framework of religion. Their progress was marked by pomp and displayed the triumph of the new régime with shows of maces, swords, and drums. The evenings, however, were given over to licentiousness and drink including a toast to Satan pledged at the cross of Ayr.
When this Court arrived in Glasgow, Archbishop Fairfull had a woeful tale to narrate of the obstinacy of younger ministers, who had neither come to welcome Episcopacy and himself, nor taken the necessary steps for remaining in their charges. When asked to suggest a remedy, he proposed that a peremptory order be issued enjoining all pastors to submit to authority forthwith or quit their manses and remove into other Presbyteries. Seemingly he acted on the supposition that the clergy would be flexible and would comply rather than suffer. He fully expected that no more than ten ministers would be obstinate. In these circumstances the maudlin legislators, fired with this inspiration, (and drink) met in the Fore College Hall on 1st October. There, heedless of the consequences, they authorised an edict of eviction to this effect:
i) ministers who have not obeyed the recent Acts shall forthwith cease the exercise of the ministry;
ii) their pulpits shall be declared vacant;
iii) parishioners are relieved from payment to them of stipend, and from acknowledgment of their ministry, on pain of being convicted as conventiclers;
iv) non-compliers shall remove beyond the bounds of the Presbytery before 1st November;
v) neglecters of the anniversary thanksgiving shall be mulcted in one years stipend, and be liable to the full penalty fixed by the Act.’
All signed the ordinance. The Duke of Hamilton informed historian Bishop Gilbert Burnet ( the Bishop of Salisbury) that
“they were all so drunk that day, that they were not capable of considering anything that was laid before them, and would hear of nothing but the executing of the law, without any relenting “
The ministers were now in even a worse case than the civil servants of the Crown, (who had in their declaration of loyalty to repudiate the Covenanted work of Reformation), because the stipends in grain were not yet converted into money, and the nonconforming ministers had to leave their homes in winter. They had a recent noble precedent in the action of two thousand English clergy, who on St. Bartholomew’s Day preferred eviction to conformity. So great indeed was the number of the pastors of Scotland who refused compliance, that the majority of the Council on becoming sober grew alarmed at their own headstrong mistake. Middleton raged and cursed at having been misled, and endeavoured to get the Archbishops to contrive, “for the good of the people” some way of undoing the effects of the order. Fairfull the primary cause of the situation, was in no hurry to retract. The duplicitous Sharp professed to be shocked at the proclamation, and procrastinated “nor did he imagine that so rash a thing could have been done till he saw it in print.”` But it suited his own agenda and that of the bully in his makeup, to pick off individuals of whom he disapproved at a later date, having had the hard work and prima facie evidence of failure and non conformity established by others.
Another meeting on 23 December authorised
a proclamation which sought to mitigate the earlier diktat and ministers
were indulged until 1 February to obtain obtain legal
presentation and collation. They were ordered to remain in their own
parishes while wanderers were ordered to be fined twenty shillings; and
gatherings at parochial meetings, Holy Fairs, even Communion services,
were declared a debauchery tempting people from doing their duty. But the
short respite did little to help; in fact it was seized upon by earnest
preachers as the manifestation of the evils of prelatic government
which led to the congregations urging their ministers to throw off
the yoke of coercion, and themselves to become conventiclers.
The numbers of ministers outed varies depending on the authority – Wodrow reckoned “near four hundred”, Bishop Burnet -350; W.L. Mathieson 271 between 1660 and 1666; the Rev. Robert Logan calculated from Scott`s Fasti that of 952 charges, 72 were vacant; 329 were deprived and 551 accepted the kings terms (supremacy) and episcopacy. The most affected was the south west. In Ayrshire 16 minsters were deposed. In Dumfries and Galloway, warrants were issued ordering ministers to cease their work, to remove themselves and their families from their Presbytery, and to appear before the Privy Council to explain their disobedience. This involved 13 ministers in the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright, 6 in Stranraer, 6 in Wigtown and 2 in Dumfries. Similar warrants were issued against 14 ministers in Fife, Perth and Stirlingshire. Others, like William Guthrie of Fenwick, slipped through the net temporarily, who were lucky enough to have the influence of friends at Court.
Ministers of Galloway who were outed.