The principal acts of the general assembly, convened at
Edinburgh, May 16, 1816.
I. Sess. 1, May 16, 1816.—The King's Commission to Francis Lord Napier produced,
and ordered to be recorded.
The General Assembly, &c.
II. Sess. 1, May 16, 1816.—The Prince Regent's most gracious Letter to the General
Assembly, presented to them by his Majesty's Commissioner.
In the name and on the behalf of his Majesty,
George, P. R., &c.
III. Sess. 3, May 18, 1816.—The General Assembly's Answer to the Prince Regent's most
May it please your Royal Highness, &c.
IV. Sess. 3, May 18, 1816.—Address of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
to his Royal Highness George Prince of Wales, Regent of the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland.
May it please your Royal Highness,
We, his Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the ministers and elders of the
Church of Scotland, met in our General Assembly, beg leace to approach the throne,
to express our warm attachment to your Royal Highness's person and government,
and our earnest desire to forward, by such means as le within our sphere, the measures adopted by your Royal Highness for the public good.
While we feel the most sincere sorrow for the continued indisposition of our beloved
and venerable Sovereign, and earnestly beseech the Almighty to look upon him in
mercy, we are thankful to the Supreme Disposer of all events, that he has given us,
in your Royal Highness, a Prince so well fitted to conduct the government with the
prudence, equity, and firmness, which are necessary for maintaining the honour and
the prosperity of the empire.
Since we last had an opportunity of laying the dutiful expression of our homage
before the throne, we reflect, with profound gratitude to Him whose kingdom ruleth
over all, on the signal favour which he hath manifested to our country and to Europe,
in shortening the calamities of war. And we regard with admiration the vigour and
promptitude with which your Royal Highness, in conjunction with the Allied Sovereigns, interposed to stop the career of the tyrand, who had again possessed himself
of the government of France, and brought Europe into the hazard of encountering
those difficulties a second time, which had already been so serverely and extensively
experienced. We offer our most respectful congratulations to your Royal Highness,
on the pre-eminent skill and bravery displayed by his Majesty's troops in the late
short war, and on the fortunate and brilliant results in which it has terminated. In
the sanguinary conflict which closed the contest, the high talents of the British general, and the invincible courage and perserverance of the army under his command, by
one vast effort, have raised the character of British soldiers to the highest pre-eminence, crushed the power of the tyrant, annihilated his hopes, obliged him to abdicate the throne, and, finally, compelled him to an unconditional surrender. We trust
that the situation in which he is now placed will render it impossible for him again
to disturb the repose of the world.
As servants of the Prince of Peace, we gladly indulge the hope that the pacification
which has been concluded will secure to the exhausted nations of Europe a long respite from the horrors and burdens of war; and that that people, whose turbulence
has so long proved the scourge of the civilized world, experiencing the advantages of
order and tranquillity, will acquire a desire of cultivating the habits and virtues of
peace, and of promoting that general improvement of human society, which peace
and industry, and regular government, are calculated to advance.
We humbly beg leave to lay before your Royal Highness the dutiful expression of
our high satisfaction, on account of that domestic event which has proved so gratifying to the British nation, the marriage of your august daughter, the Princess Charlotte
Augusta, with his Serence Highness Leopold George Frederick Duke of Saxe, and
Prince of Cobourg of Saalfeld. We congratualate your Royal Highness on this
auspicious union; and we trust that it will prove a public blessing, by increasing the
prospect which, in the good Providence of God, we enjoy, of having transmitted to
latest times the advantages which this favoured nation has derived from the mild and
paternal government of the illustrious House of Brunswick.
That Almighty God, by whom kings reign, may support, console, and relieve our
venerable Sovereign, and bless her Majesty the Queen;— that He may pour down his
choicest blessings on your Royal Highness, and prosper your government;—that He
may bless the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family; and that Princes of your
Royal Highness's House may, to latest posterity, sway the sceptre over this realm, are
the fervent prayers of,
May it please your Royal Highness, his Majesty's most faithful, most
obedient, and most loyal subjects, the Ministers and Elders met
in the National Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Signed in our name, in our presence, and at our appointement, by,
John Cook, Moderator.
V. Sess. 9, May 25, 1816.—Overture and Interinm Act anent the Union of Offices. (fn. *)
(See Act 6th, 1817.)
VI. Sess. 9, May 25, 1816.—Resolution of the General Assembly respecting the Gaelic
Translation of the Scriptures.
The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland called for the report of the
Committee upon the Gaelic Translation of the Scriptures, which was produced, and
read as follows:—"Your Committee beg leave to report, that after considering the
Memorial and Petition from the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian
Knowledge, with all the attention due to the important object to which it relates,
they find cause to approve of the diligence and zeal of the Society in furnishing, by
a Translation of the Holy Scriptures into Gaelic, which has already passed through
different impressins, the best means of religious instruction to our countrymen in
those districts where the Gaelic language is spoken.
"Your Committee particularly approve of the present communication, as manifesting, on the part of the Society, a becoming respect for the General Assembly, to
whom it properly belongs to judge of and to sanction such versions of the Sacred
Scriptures as shall be used within the bounds of this Church.
"Your Committee are further of opinion, that a final revision of the translation
now in use, by means of the acknowledged skill and matured experience of the Rev.
Dr Stuart of Luss, and the Rev. Mr Stewart of Dingwall, in order to improve the
translation, and render it as complete as possible, and the publication of a new edition thereof in quarto, the work in which the Society are now engaged, is of great
importance, and should receive the countenance, support, and encouragement of the
"Your Committee, therefore, beg leave to propose, that a Standing Committee be
appointed, whose duty it shall be to consider the means which have been employed
for procuring the best version which could be obtained of the Sacred Scriptures in
Gaelic, and whether any further means can be used for rendering it more perfect; to
receive communications on the subject from such respectable persons as may be willing to offer them; and, particularly, to attend to the progress of the new edition at
present projected, with the alterations of the version that may be therein made; to
signify to the Society their opinion of it as it comes from the press; and that the
said Committee shall report their proceedings on this business to the next General
"Your Committee beg leave also to suggest, that it may be proper that the General Assembly prohibit the use of any other Gaelic version of the Scriptures in the
churches, chapels, missions, and schools, within the Established Church, other than
any of the editions now in use published by the Society, until the work be completed.
"And, lastly, that extracts of the Assembly's resolution on this business be sent to
every Presbytery within whose bounds parishes are situated in which the Gaelic language is spoken."
The General Assembly approve of this report, and enjoin and ordain, in terms
thereof; and they appoint the committee upon this business a standing committee,
to carry the orders of the Assembly into execution. The names of the committee
are, the Moderator, Dr Gordon, Sir Henry Moncreiff, Dr Hill, Dr Inglis, Dr Macdougal, Dr Fleming, Mr Macdonnel of Forres, Mr Macgibbon of Inverary, Mr Campbell of Dunoon, Dr Macleod, Dr Maclea, Mr Dougal Campbell of Kilmichael, Mr
Hugh Fraser of Kilmoran, Dr Irvine, Little Dunkeld, Dr Robert Anderson, Edinburgh, Dr Stewart, Strachur, Mr Fraser, Boleskine, Mr Ross, Kilmanivaig, Mr
Macleod, Morven, Mr Mackay, Reay, Mr Mackinnon, Slate, Mr Munro, Uig, Mr
Dougal Campbell, Kilfinichan, and Dr Campbell, Edinburgh; Dr Campbell to be
convener, and any three to be a quorum.
VII. Sess. 9, May 25, 1816.— Commission of the General Assembly to certain Ministers and
Ruling Elders for discussing Affairs referred to them.
The General Assembly, &c.
VIII. Sess. 9, May 25, 1816.— Commission to some Ministers and Ruling Elders for the Reformation of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, and for Managing his Majesty's
Royal Bounty to that end.
The General Assembly, &c.
IX. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.— Deliverance of the General Assembly on the Communication from the Synod of Ulster in Ireland.
The Report of the Committee upon the Communication from Ulster was called
for, and being produced was read, of the following tenor:— "The Committee on
the Communication from the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, having deliberately
considered said communication, report to the Venerable Assembly the following
opinion:— That from the respectable situation in which the Synod of Ulster is now
placed by its connection with the civil government, it may be expedient to declare,
that notwithstanding what is contained in the Act of Assembly, 1799, ministerial
communion might be allowed between the ministers and licentiates of that Synod
and those of the Church of Scotland. But as information respecting the education
of their candidates for licence and other particulars must be obtained, before any resolution on this subject be finally adopted, that, therefore, the matter should be delayed; and, in the meantime, a committee be appointed to make the proper inquiries,
to correspond with the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster, and to report to next Assembly. In testimony of the respect which this Church entertains for the Established Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Assembly should request of their Moderator, that he, in their name, would convey, by letter, notice of their present resolution
to the Moderator of the Synod of Ulster." The General Assembly unanimously approve of said report, and appoint the committee to draw up the letter therein proposed. The committee are,—the Moderator, Dr Gordon, Dr Hill, Dr Brown, Dr
Taylor, Dr Ritchie, Professor Jardine, Professor Young, and Dr Stevenson Macgill;
Dr Taylor to be convener.
X. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.—Act anent the Ordination of Elders.
Whereas irregularities have crept into the Church with respect to the ordination
of elders, the General Assembly, with the consent of a majority of the Presbyteries
of this Church, did, and hereby do, enact and ordain,—
That, hereafter, no person shall be set apart to the office of an elder, unless he
hath attained the age of twenty-one years complete, and produce a certificate to that
effect, to remain in retentis; and unless he is a communicant.
That no person be ordained an elder who is not an inhabitant of the parish, or who
does not reside therein at least six weeks annually, or who is not an heritor in that
parish, liable to pay stipend and other parochial burdens, or who is not the apparent
heir of an heritor of that description in the parish.
That when any person who does not generally reside, but only occasionally, as
aforesaid, shall be proposed to the kirk-session to be ordained an elder, there shall
be produced a certificate, under the hands of the minister and kirk-session of the
parish where he generally resides, that he is of unblemished character, and regular in
giving attendance on the public ordinances of religion.
And further, it is enacted, That if any elder be ordained in future, without being
qualified as above, he shall not be held as entitled to any of the privileges of that
But in any city or town where there are more congregations than one, that they
shall be held as one parish, in as far as this Act is concerned.
XI. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.—Recommendation by the General Assembly to Presbyteries in Aid of the Funds of the Church.
The General Assembly called for the Report of the Committee appointed to draw
up a Recommendation to Presbyteries anent the Funds of the Church, which was
produced and read, the tenor whereof follows:—"In 1810, the General Assembly
submitted to the consideration of the Church the Proposal of a subscription in aid of
the fund for defending the rights of the Church. It was stated in this Proposal, that
of the L.1000 allowed annually by government for defraying the expenses of the
Church, only L.150 is left by the grant to be applied for law proceedings; and intimation has been given by government that no addition will be made to this allowance
of L.150. The General Assembly further stated in 1810, that they had ascertained
that this allowance was wholly insufficient for defending the general rights of the Church,
in questions that often occur where no individual has any patrimonial interest,
and for assisting clergymen in defending their right, in those cases where the Church
has been in use to grant aid. And, therefore, the General Assembly, judging it
essential to the public interest of the Church, and the relief of individual clergymen,
that there should be an increase of the fund for these purposes, earnestly recommended a general contribution by the ministers and elders of the Church in the several
Presbyteries, to be remitted to the Procurator for the Church, and by him reported
to the General Assembly. The General Assembly, upon the report of the Procurator, have now to state to the Church, that although this recommendation has been
frequently repeated, contributions have been received from very few Presbyteries, in
consequence of which both the evils which were apprehended have arrived. A large
debt has been contracted to support those cases which were already upon the funds,
and it has become necessary to refuse all new applications for aid, however urgent
the cases may be.
"The present debt to the Agents of the Church appears, upon the report of the
Procurator, to be L.593, 3s. 4d., and the total sum contributed, with the interest
arising thereon, amounts only to the sum of L.276.
"Although it is both unreasonable and inexpedient that the Church should continue indebted in so large a sum as L.593, 3s. 4d. to their Agents the General Assembly have refrained from applying any part of the sum of L.276, already contributed, in extinction of that debt; because the contributions were made in the faith that
the total sum subscribed was to be accumulated into a capital, and the interest only
to be applied to the purposes in view; and also, because the General Assembly does
not despair, that, when the circumstances of the case are placed fully in the view of
the Church, this sum may receive an annual increase.
"They have, therefore, directed Sir Henry Moncreiff Wellwood, and the Procurator, to invest the sum of L.276 contributed, in the most advantageous manner possible; and they do again earnestly recommend to the ministers of all the Presbyteries
of this Church the annual contribution of 5s., suggested as the only remedy which
occurs for relieving the funds of the Church from their present difficulties. They
believe that, by small subscriptions, the deficiency in each contribution will be compensated by the number of contributors; and they remind their brethren, that if
every clergyman were to contribute 5s., it would raise in a twelvemonth the sum of
L.225, and in five years L.1125." The General Assembly approve of this recommendation; and enjoin the clerks to transmit printed copies thereof to the moderators of all the Presbyteries of this Church, (along with the Overture anent the Union
of Offices,) accompanied with a letter from the Moderator of this Assembly, enforcing
the said recommendation; and the Assembly enjoin all the Presbyteries of this
Church to take up the consideration of this subject, not later than the day on which
they meet to elect their members to the Assembly.
Reverend Sir,—Agreeably to the resolution of the General Assembly, I hereby
transmit to the Presbyteries of the Church of Scotland the above recommendation of
annual contributions, in aid of the funds of the Church; the importance of observing
which, I am confident, that no words of mine can enforce. I am, Reverend Sir,
your most obedient servant,
John Cook, Moderator.
To be communicated.
XII. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.—Recommendation by the General Assembly concerning
The General Assembly having taken the overture anent parochial registers under
their serious consideration, unanimously approve of the same; and therefore earnestly
recommend to all the Presbyteries and Kirk-Sessions within the bounds of the Church,
"That whereas great inconveniency and loss has been experienced in many parts of
the country, either from no parochial registers being kept, or from the inaccuracy
with which it is done, the Assembly enjoins the several Presbyteries of this Church
to take the steps necessary to secure the keeping of three separate registers in every
parish: In one of which, the names of all children and of their parents shall be recorded, with the dates of their birth, whether their parents belong to the Church, or
are Dissenters: In another, the names of all persons married, with the dates of their
marriages, whether legally solemnized or not, with the specialties of any particular
cases which may occur: And, in the third, the names of all persons who have died,
with the particular dates of their deaths, whether they have been buried in the parish
burying-ground, or elsewhere; and that these three registers shall be brought up to
the Presbytery of the bounds at the first meeting after the conclusion of each year
respectively, in each of which the Presbytery shall enter their remarks on the manner in which it is kept, signed by the moderator for the time."
The General Assembly farther appoint the following committee, viz., Principal
Baird, Dr William Ritchie, Dr Fleming, Dr Inglis, Dr Meiklejohn, Mr Watson, and
the Procurator,—Dr Meiklejohn to be convener; to communicate with the Officers
of the Crown, in the view of obtaining the authority of the legislature to secure the
faithful observance of this arrangement.
The General Assembly enjoin their clerks to send printed copies of this recommendation to all the Presbyteries of this Church, who are hereby required to communicate the same to all the Kirk-Sessions within their bounds,
XIII. Sess. ult., May 27, 1816.— Act appointing the Diet of the next General Assembly.
The next General Assembly of this National Church is appointed to be held
within the New Church Aisle of Edinburgh, on Thursday, the 22d day of May 1817.
Extracted from the Records of the General Assembly, by
Andrew Duncan, Cl. Eccl. Scot.