Acts and Proceedings: 1601, May

Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618. Originally published by [s.n.], Edinburgh, 1839.

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Maitland Club, 'Acts and Proceedings: 1601, May', in Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618( Edinburgh, 1839), British History Online [accessed 25 July 2024].

Maitland Club, 'Acts and Proceedings: 1601, May', in Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618( Edinburgh, 1839), British History Online, accessed July 25, 2024,

Maitland Club. "Acts and Proceedings: 1601, May". Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, 1560-1618. (Edinburgh, 1839), , British History Online. Web. 25 July 2024.

In this section


The Generall Assemblie of the Kirk of Scotland, haldin at Bruntiland, the 12 day of May 1601 ȝeirs. In the quhilk the Kings Majestie with his Commissioners of the Nobilitie and Burrowes, were present.

Sessio 1a.

Exhortatioun being made be Mr Robert Wilkie, Moderatour [of the last Assemblie,] the brethren proceidit to the electioun of ane new Moderatour: and Mrs Patrick Galloway, Patrick Simsone, Patrick Sharpe, Johne Hall, and James Robertson, being put on leits; be pluralitie of votes Mr Johne Hall was chosen Moderatour hac vice.

Sessio 2a. 14 Maij.

The quhilk day the brethren having entrit in consideratioun of the generall defectioun from the puritie, zeale, and practise of trew religioun in all estates of the countrey; and how that the same must of necessitie, at last, be concludit either in Papistrie of Atheisme, within short space, in the righteous judgement of God, except some substantious remeid be provydit therto in tyme; and because the evill cannot be weill curit unlesse the originall springs and [speciall] causes therof be rypit up: Therfor the bre thren, after mature deliberatioun and weying of the causes of the said defectioun, hes found the prinicipall causes therof to be, as followes.

Causes of the defectioun from the puritie, zeale, and practise of true religioun in all estates of the Countrey: And how the same may be most effectuallie remeidit.

The principall cause of this fearefull change, no doubt, is the just wrath of God kindlit against the haill land for the vnreverent estimatioun of the Gospell, and for the fins of all estates, and dishonouring of thair professiouns, and making the name of God to be blasphemed through the prosane world without remorse.

Laik of care and diligence vpon the part of the Ministrie, in the discoverie of them that makes apostafie to Papistrie; and negligence in executioun of the lawis and discipline agains sick as happins to be discoverit.

Want of Pastours, and vnplantit kirks, and displanting of kirks, quhilk hes bein provydit, be diminutioun of the Thrids.

Neglecting of places that are of cheifest importance to the interest of religioun, in not planting sufficient Pastours therat, sick as [are] her Majesties house, the Princes house, the Erles of Huntlie, Erroll, and Angus houses, and places of thair cheifest residence; the Lord Hoomes house, the Lord Herries house, and cheife places of thair residence; the towne of Dumfreis, and vthers of the Nobilitie and [of] greatest power within the countrey.

The ovir hastie admissioun of men to the Ministrie, befor they be knowin to be of sufficient gifts and experience to discharge fruitfullie that high calling [in] thir difficile tymes.

The negligence of the Ministrie in advancing of thair knowledge, be ever continuall and constant reiding of the Scriptures, and controversies of the tyme; quherthrow they might be able to bring the consciences of thair auditors in subiectioun to the obedience of the Gospell, and convince of the adversarie.

Negligence in the lyves of the Ministrie, not frameing thair conversatioun in gravitie as paterns of lyfe to the peiple; bot frameing themselves excessively to the humours of men, especiallie in communicatioun at tables, and giving sometymes examples of intemperance, [and] in the light and prodigall abulzements of thair families.

The distractioun of mynds quhilk is supposed to be in the Ministrie; [and] the distractioun quhilk is supposed to be of his Majesties mynd from some of the Ministrie.

The advancing of men suspect in religioun, and knawin to be evill affectit to the good cause, vnto offices, honours, [and] credit in Court, Counsell, and Sessioun, and vther rowmes of great importance within the countrey.

The desolatioun of the Kirk of Edinburgh through the want of Pastours.

The continuall residence and intertainment of the Ladie Huntlie, a knowin and profest Papist, of Margret Wood, fister to the Laird of Bonytoun, and vthers knawin and profest Papists, in his Majesties Court and companie.

The education of thair Majesties children [in] the companie of obstinat and profest Papists, sick as the Ladie Livingstoun.

The negligent educatioun of the children of noblemen, and sending them out of the countrey vnder the charge of paedagogues suspect in religioun, or, at the leist, not weill groundit and confirmit therin, to be brocht vp and instructit in places quher Papistrie is profest.

The impunitie of skippers, mariners, and awners of shipes, that, vnder the name of passingers, transports from vther places, and brings within the countrey Seminarie Priests, Jesuites, and vther traffiqueing Papists, with thair coffers, and bookes; aud the impunitie of sick quho convoyes and sparsells the bookes through the countrey.

The decay of Schooles and of the educatioun of the ȝouth in knowledge of good letters and godlines, speciallie a landwart, for lake of provisioun sufficient to intertaine a qualified Schoolemaster in places neidfull.

That men suspect in religioun, and challengit therfor be thair Presbytrie and Pastours, hes accesse to Court dureing the tyme of thair processe.

That the late reconcileit Papists are not vrgeit to performe the conditiouns aggreit to be them at thair reconciliatioun to the Kirk.

Remedies of the former Evills.

The Generall Assemblie, having entrit in the consideratioun of the causes of the said [great and] fearefull defectioun of all estates of persons within this land from the true and sincere profession of the Gospell, [presentlie] sounding within the same; and having found the principall causes of this change to be, no doubt, the just wrath of God kindlit against this land, for the vnreverent estimatioun of the Gospell, and for the fins of all estates, and for the dishonouring of their professioun, and making the name of God to be blasphemit be the profane world without remorse: quhilk horrible judgements hes fallin in every estate, for the contemptuous heiring of the Word of God, in so farre as ther is none hes worthilie esteimit the said precious Word according to the dignitie therof: Therfor, and for removing of the former evills, and causes, and father judgements, if they be not preventit be speidie repentance, the Assemblie hes [concludit and] ordainit a generall humiliatioun to be keipit solemnlie throughout the haill land, with fasting and prayer in all severall congregatiouns, two severall Sabboth dayes, both in burgh and land, within the realme; and lykewayes in burrow townes, throughout the haill weik betuixt the saids two Sabboths; and the cause of the said humiliatioun to be [intimat to be] only the sins of the land, be the quhilk the professioun of the Gospell hes bein dishonourit, and the wrath of God provockit: quhilk generall humiliatioun is ordainit to be vpon the last two Sabboth dayes of Junij nixt to come.

The vnplantit kirks wald be effectuallie recommendit to his Majesties care, whose authoritie only is able to accomplish that worke; and, for the better furtherance therof, that his Majestie wald cause take heid that the thrids be keipit vnvitiat.

Nothing more necessar nor to have his Majesties housse, the Princes house, the Erles houses, and places of thair residence, and vthers places of chiefest importance, as the Towne of Dumfreis, to be weill plantit with learnit, wise, and godlie persons: and quher the laik of provisioun mycht be a hinder to the present planting, as at the Erles house, it wer requisite for a time, that the meitest for that purpose, not being in places quher the cause may be so farre interest be the want of a resident Pastour, sould be transportit fra thair awin places, to remaine for ane quarter or halfe ane ȝeir, that ane substantious meane may be found out for ane constant provisioun and planting of these rowmes, be whose labours, in the meane tyme, the Erles and thair families might be confirmit in the trueth, and the enemies debarrit from thair companies, and therafter to returne to thair awin charges; the Presbytries, in the meanequhill, taking ordour for the helping of thair kirks in the tyme of thair absence: And to that effect, ordaines Mr George Glaidstanes to be direct to awaite vpon the Erle of Huntlie; Mrs Alexander Lindsey and William Couper vpon the Erle of Erroll; Mrs James Law and Johne Spottiswood vpon the Erle of Angus; Mr Johne Carmichell vpon the Lord Hoome; Mrs David Lindsey and Johne Hall vpon the Lord Herreis.

That ane petitioun be givin in to his Majestie and Secreit Counsell, desyring, that these quhom his Majestie knowis, or sall know heirafter, to deale in favours of prosest traffiqueing Papists farther nor the lawes of the countrey sall permitt, salbe countit and haldin as men suspect in religioun, and sall not have the honour to be in his Majesties house, Counsell, or Sessioun.

Item, That it be craveit lykeways of his Majestie and Secreit Counsell, that all Papists, men and women, challengit be the Kirk for thair religioun, and not satistieand the Kirk for the same, be dischairgit from resort to court, quhill they have satisfied, and bring from the Presbytrie of thair bounds a sufficient testimoniall of thair obedience.

Item, For discovering of the adversaries of the true religioun lurking within this countrey, it is ordainit, that every Presbytrie, immediatlie after the dissolving of this present Assemblie, take vp the names of the non communicants within thair bounds, and send them to his Majesties Ministers with all expeditioun, subscryvit be the Moderatour and Clark of the Presbytrie, and Minister of the paroch; and that from this tyme furth, at every Provinciall Assemblie, the names of the non communicants be tane vp, and sent to his Majesties Ministers.

Item, That it be inquyrit anent the late reconcilit Lords to the Kirk, be the Presbytries quher they make residence, whither they have keipit and persormit the articles subscrivit be them at thair receiving, and that they be vrgit severallie to persorme every ane of the said articles; and if they resuse, that the Presbytries certifie the Kings Majesties Ministers therof.

Item, For eschewing of farther evill quhilk might come to the estate of the religioun be the evill educatioun of the ȝouth foorth of the country, it wald be cravit of his Majestie and Secreit Counsell, that such noblemen and vthers as directs a paedagogue with thair sonnes furth of the countrie, that thair paedagogue be knowin godlie and of good religioun, [learnit] and instructit in the samein, and approvit of his religioun be the testimoniall of his Presbitrie: that thair remaining out of the countrey be in the places quher the religioun is presentlie prosest, or, at the least, quher ther is no restraint of the same be the crueltie of Inquisitioun: that dureing the tyme of thair absence they sall not haunt any idolatrous exercife of religioun: and such [as] hes not the moyen to sustaine a paedagogue with thair sons foorth of the countrey, that they send them to such parts quher ther is no restraint [of religioun: and in caice thair sonnes, after thair departing out of the countrey, haunt these parts quher the profession of the trew religioun is restrainit,] that they find caution not to intertaine them: And in cace any that passes out of the countrey imbrace any religioun except that quhilk is presentlie prosest within this realme, that they fall not be able to bruik moyen, heritage, honours, nor offices, within this realme; and this to be ane exceptioun aganis the service of thair breives, and at the tyme of admissioun of them to any office or honours: And in cace any of thair parents contraveine any of the premisses, that they incurre such paine as his Majestie and Secreit Counsell sall modifie; and that such as are already out of the countrey, [either] be callit back againe before ane day to be appointit be his Majestie and Secreit Counsell, or els that thair parents be subiect to the lyke conditiouns befor sett downe.

Item, It wald be craveit of his Majestie and Secreit Counsell, that all skippers, mariners, and awners of ships, be inhite that they bring in any Jesuites, Seminarie Priests, declarit sugitive traitours and rebells within the countrey, bot such as they know to be of true religioun, or hes sufficient testimoniall of the honestie of thair religioun fra the places quher they have bein conversant, vnder the paine of escheiting thair haill goods; and vnder the same paine, that they delyver them in the hands of the Magistrat of the towne or port, quher they sall happin to arryve at, ther to be keipit, ay and quhill they be examinat and tryed, and his Majesties warrand obtainit for thair libertie after they have bein tryed [and sand] honest in religioun; and sall keip them, thair bookes, goods, and geir in shipboord, ay and quhill they receive ane warrand from the ordinar Magistrate for the releiving of the same; and to that effect, that they sett none vpon land bot in commoun ports, quher ther is ane Magistrate to receive the passengers from thair hands.

Item, That his Majestie be dealt earnestlie with anent the removeing of his dochter out of the Ladie Levingstouns companie, in respect of her obstinate continueing in the professioun of Papistrie: for the quhilk cause, his Majestie being requeisted [be] the haill Assemblie, promised that his Hienes dochter sould be transportit, betuixt and Mertimes nixt to come, to his awin house.

And because the non planting of kirks is a great part of the wyte of the desectioun from the puritie of religioun; and that the best way for the planting of the saids kirks, is the furtherance of the constant platt for locall stipends to be appointit to every kirk within this realme: Therfor the Assemblie hes ordainit the brethren sollowing, viz. Mrs David Lindsay, James Nicolsone, Robert Pont, Patrick Galloway, George Glaidstanes, Johne Nicolsone, or any thrie of them, to conveine [upon the first day of Junij] with my Lords Chancellar, Secreitar, President, Collector, Comptroller, Sir Patrick Murray, and Mr George Young, to treat and advyse on sick overtures as, be thair commoun consent, salbe found most meit and expedient for advancing of the said work of the constant platt, and to lay downe such grounds as they sall find most meit and profitable for prosecuting of the same; and to report thair diligence to the nixt Assemblie.

Sessio 3a. Eodem die.

The Kings Majestie having declarit his intentioun and desyre to have a Minister for his Hienes house, in respect of the deceife of Mr Johne Craig, and Johne Duncansones old age, and another to the Queines Majesties house, and ane vther to the Princes house, the Assemblie nominat for his Majesties and the Queines house Mrs Henrie Blyth, John Fairfull, Peter Hewat, and Andro Lamb; for the Princes house, Mrs James Nicolson, James Law, and Johne Spottiswood.

[The Assemblie ratifies the acts made in the Assemblies of befor, anent the discharging of particular applicatiouns to be made in the exercises; and of the forbidding of ȝoung men not admittit to the Ministrie to preach in the cheife places of the countrey; and ordaines the same to be put in executioun, under the paine of incurring the censures of the Kirk. C. & B.]

Sessio 4a. 15 Maij.

The Assemblie adjoynes the Presbitrie of Kirkudbright to the Ministrie of Nithisdaill, ay and quhill ther be sick a number of kirks plantit within the saids bounds as may constitute a laufull Presbytrie among themselves.

The Assemblie ordaines the Commissioners to recommend vnto his Ma jestie the provision of competent livings to the saids kirks; and nominates Mrs Johne McBirney, George Greir, and William Airthur, to be plantit therat.

Anent the questioun reserrit fra the Presbytrie of Couper to this present Assemblie, concerning the cause persewit be the said Presbytrie aganis Elizabeth Pitcairne, for satisfactioun of the adulterie committit be her, and provin against her, conforme to the decreit of the forsaid Presbytrie; quho being vrgeit to satisfie the Kirk therfor, producit ane decreit of adherence obteinit against her husband befor the Commissars of Edinburgh, ordaining her husband to adhere to her, and be consequence exonering her of adulterie: The Assemblie ordaines the Presbytrie to put thair awin decreit to executioun, notwithstanding the decreit of adherence.

Anent the citatioun vsit be the Presbytrie of Couper aganis the auld Laird of Kynneir, to have ansuerit for the abusing of Mr Robert Inshaw, Minister of Kilmanie, in the solemnizating of the mariage of his dochter, and in antedating of ane testimoniall sent to Mr Henrie Balfour, Minister at Collessie: The Assemblie, in respect of the Laird of Kynneirs absence, reserris the tryall of the said matter to the Presbytrie of Couper.

Sessio vltima. 16 Maij.

It being meanit be sundrie of the brethren, that there was sundrie errours that merited to be correctit in the vulgar translatioun of the Byble, and of the Psalmes in meetter; as also that ther are fundrie prayers in the Psalme Booke quhilk wald be altered, in respect they are not convenient for the tyme: In the quhilk heids the Assemblie hes concludit as followis:

First, Anent the translatioun of the Byble: That every ane of the brethren quho hes best knowledge in the languages, imploy thair travells in fundrie parts of the vulgar translatioun in the Byble, that neids to be mendit, and to conserre the same together at the Assemblie.

Anent the translatioun of the Psalmes in meeter; It is ordainit, that the same be revisit be Mr Robert Pont, Minister at Sanct Cuthberts Kirk, and his travells to be revisit at the nixt Assemblie.

It is not thocht good that the prayers alreadie contenit in the Psalme Booke be altered or delatit; bot if any brother wald have any vther prayers eiked, quhilk are meit for the tyme, ordaines the same first to be tryed and allowed be the Assemblie.

The Generall Assemblie, for causes and consideratiouns moving them, hes ordainit Mrs James Balfour, Walter Balcanquell, and William Watsone, to be transportit out of thair awin places of thair Ministrie in Edinburgh, and plantit in such places as the Commissioners deput be this present Assemblie think expedient: And lykewayes ordaines the said Commissioners to plant such vthers of the Ministrie in thair places in the Kirk of Edinburgh, as salbe found expedient for the advancement of the glorie of God within the same.

The Commissioners for the Towne of Edinburgh, viz. Johne Johnstoun and George Heriot, protestit in the name of the said Towne, that seeing the Generall Assemblie hes ordainit thair Ministers above namit to be transportit furth of Edinburgh, the said Towne sould be srie of thair burdein fra this tyme of thair present transportatioun; and that the said transportatioun sould not be prejudiciall to them in any tyme heirafter, bot that they might be reponit in thair awin places, quhen it sould please his Majestie and the Kirk to lyke weill therof: quhilk protestatioun his Majestie and the haill Assemblie willinglie aggreit vnto; quhervpon the said Commissioners askit instruments.

The Assemblie hes ordainit, that, in every Assemblie to be conveinit in all tyme comeing, such as sall happin to be appointit Commissioners from the Generall Assemblie to indure quhill the Assemblie nixt therafter, sall give ane accompt of thair proceidings dureing the haill tyme of thair commissioun, in the beginning of the Assemblie, befor any vther cause [or matter] be handlit; and thair proceidings to be allowit or dissallowit as the Assemblie sall think expedient.

The Generall Assemblie having rypelie weyit the necessitie of the appointing Commissioners fra this present Assemblie, not only to advyse and awaite vpon such affairs as salbe for the weill and vtilitie of the Kirk of God, bot also for giving advyse to his Majestie anent the halding furth of the enemies of the samein, quhen they salbe requyrit be his Hienes therto: Therfor, the brethren conveinit in this Assemblie hes givin and grantit, lykeas, be the tenour heirof, gives and grants thair power and commissioun to thir brether, viz. Mrs Alexander Dowglas, Johne Strauchane, Peter Blackburne, George Monro, James Nicolsone, Andro Leitch, Alexander Forbes, Patrick Simsone, William Couper, Alexander Lindsay, George Glaidstanes, William Scott, Johne Caldcleugh, Robert Wilkie, David Lindsay, Robert Pont, Johne Spottiswood, Johne Hall, James Law, Johne Knox, Johne Abernethie, Johne Hay, Gawin Hamiltoun, Alexander Scrymgeour, David Barklay, and the Kings Majesties Ministers, or any nyne of them; giveand, grantand, and committand vnto them thair full power to plant such kirks in Burrow Townes as are destitute [of Pastours] in generall, and speciallie to plant the Kirk of Edinburgh, quhich is vacand be transportatioun of the Ministers therof; with power also to plant Mrs James Balsour, Walter Balcanquell, and William Watsone, Ministers transportit out of Edinburgh, with his Majesties advyce, in such convenient places as they sould find expedient for the glorie of God; with power also to transport any of the Ministrie within the realme from thair awin places quher they presentlie serve, and to plant them in the said vacand places of the Kirk of Edinburgh; in the planting quherof they sall take the advyce of the Presbytrie of Edinburgh, according to the acts and statutes of the Generall Assemblie made of befor:

Attour, If it sall happin the Kings Majestie to be greivit at any of the Ministrie for quhatsoevir enormitie committit be any of them aganis his Majestie, with power to them, or any nyne of them, as said is, to try and cognosce thervpon, and to take such ordour theranent as they sall find most meit to the glorie of God and weill of his Kirk:

And, finallie, with power to them to present the greives and petitiouns of this present Assemblie to his Majestie and Secreit Counsell, and generall Conventioun of the Estates and Parliaments, if any sall happin to be; and to crave redresse of the samein: Promitten de rato.

The Assemblie ordaines Mrs James Nicolsone, James Robertsone, Alexander Lindsay, and William Couper, to take tryall anent the vnioun of the kirk of Forgundie to the paroch of Arngosk; and if they find the samein to have bein done of auld, and [to be] commodious for the peiple, to ratifie the same.

Forsameikle as, in the Generall Assemblies haldin of before, it hes bein verie wifelie considderit, that ther hes bein nothing more profitable for advancing of the glorie of God by the preaching of the Gospell, then appointing of Commissioners for every schyre within this realme, whose care and diligence sould be partly to try the life, doctrine, and manner of conversatioun of the Ministrie in the bounds committit to thair visitatioun; and partly to plant the kirks quhilk as ȝet ly destitute of the comfort of the Word, be dealing with such as hes the Kirk livings in thair hands, for ane reasonable moyen to sustaine a Minister at every kirk within this realme: quhilk loveable custome this present Assemblie being myndfull to prosecute, therfor hes givin and grantit, lykas, be the tenour heirof, gives and grants thair full power and commissioun to thir brethren, [to visit the bounds particularly after specified,] viz. to Mrs Robert Pont and Robert Durie for Orknay and ȝetland to Mr George Glaidstanes for Cathnes and Sutherland; to Mrs Alexander Dowglas and Alexander Rawsone for Ross; to Mrs George Hay and Andro Crumbie for Murray;       to Mr George Glaidstanes for Aberdein; for Angus and Merns, Mrs Robert Wilkie and James Nicolsone; for Perth and Stratherne, Mrs Thomas Dowglas and Johne Fairfull; for Fyfe, Mrs James Nicolsone and Robert Howie; for Louthian, Mrs Patrick Simsone and Harie Livingstoun; for Mers and Teviotdaile, Mrs James Gibsone and Adame Colt; for Cliddisdaill, Mrs David Lindsay and Johne Spottiswood; for Irwing and Air, Mrs Gawin Hamiltoun and Andro Knox; for Annandaill, Mrs Johne Knox, Patrick Shaw; for Nithesdaile and Galloway, Mrs David Barclay, Alexander Scrymgeour, and Nathaniel Inglis: with power to them to try the brethren of the Ministrie within the bounds particularlie above designit, in thair lyfe, doctrine, qualificatioun, and conversatioun; and how they have behavit themselves twiching the rents of thair benefices, whither they have sett tacks of the same; but consent of the Generall Assemblie, or not, and so dilapidat the same; to depose such as deserves depositioun; to plant Ministers in such places as hes not bein plantit heirtofoir: and to that effect to deale with the taksmen of every paroch kirk for provisioun of ane Ministers to thair kirks; and to report to the nixt Generall Assemblie ane ansuer of the taksmen in write, containing the planting of the kirks quherof they possesse the teinds; and to report thair diligence to the nixt Assemblie; Prommitten de rato.

The nixt Assemblie is appointed to be haldin at Sanct Androes, the last Tuesday of Julij, the ȝeir of God 1602 ȝeirs.

[The General Assembly appointed to be haldin at Sanct Androes the last Tuesday of July, was prorogued be the King to the tenth of November by proclamations at the Mercat Croffes. C.]