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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V. Extracts From the Proceedings of the Select Committee of the House of Commons on Church Patroage, 1834.
Mercurii, 23° die Aprilis, 1834.
Resolved, —That Mr. A. Johnston, the Reverend Dr. Lee, that Reverend Dr. Welsh,
Mr. James Chalmers, of London, and the Reverend Principal Macfarlane, be requested to proceed to Sion College, London Wall, for the purpose of inspecting the books
presented to the trustees of that College by the late Mr Campbell, and to report to
this Committee if in any or in what degree, these books afford information connected
with the inquiry on Church Patronage in Scotland.
(signed) Geo. Sinclair, Chairman.
Veneris, 25° die Aprilis, 1834.
The Rev. John Lee, D.D., again called in; and examined.
Since I had formerly an opportunity of giving evidence before the Committee, I have had access to the Records of the Church of Scotland in Sion College, London, and I am fully satisfied that those volumes (which I am quite certain are authentic records) contain a great mass of information in a more complete and certainly in a more correct form than anything that has been exhibited in any of the publications upon the subject which I have ever seen. In particular, I may state that there are some of the proceedings of the Assembly, or rather Convention, of 1562, which have for at least 100 years been a matter of dispute; one entry has been quoted by several authors with relation to the Bishop of Galloway, Mr. Alexander Gordon, who, it is said by Calderwood, was refused admission to the office of superintendent because he had not observed the order of calling superintendents, and in the meantime was required to subscribe the Book of Discipline. That any such order was communicated to him has been strongly denied by some of the controversial writers upon the subject, and not without reason, because the book, which in Scotland was looked upon as the transcript of an authentic record of the Church, does not contain any such fact. At the same time, I may now state with confidence, that this particular is inserted in the Record of the Church, though not by any means in the form in which it has been quoted by different writers. I perceive that there are other entries on the same subject which are much more detailed in those volumes than they are in any of the books in the possession of the Assembly; but from the short time during which I had an opportunity of inspecting the volumes, I cannot be expected now to furnish any particulars of importance. I merely refer to these books as sources from which authentic information may be derived.
At what period does the date of that book commence, and to what period does it extend?—It consists of three volumes; the first begins with the first General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1560, and ends in the year 1589; it contains nearly 1,300 pages, each of which is more crowded with matter than a page of this book which I now hold in my hand, and the number of pages in this book, extending to the same period, is about 380. The second volume begins with the year 1590 and ends in March 1596, or according to our present computation, 1597. The third begins with May 1597, and ends in August 1616. These books embrace the whole period between 1560 and 1616. Here is an abstract of the contents of the whole books made before they were deposited in Sion College; it contains a fac-simile of the manner in which the books are attested both at the beginning and end.
Can you produce the Report of the Committee appointed to inspect the books belonging to Sion College?—This is the Report, which I now beg to give in.
[The Witness delivered in the same, which was read, as follows:]
London, 24 April 1834.
In obedience to the order of the Committee of the House of Commons on Church Patronage, Scotland, we have this day, within the Library of Sion College, London Wall, inspected three books, in manuscript, bearing to be records of the proceedings of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, from 1560 to 13 August 1616. We have also read the deed of agreement, by which said books wer gifted by Mr. Archibald Campbell to the trustees of Sion College; and we crave leave humbly to report, 1st, That in our opinion, these Records are the genuine and authentic register of the proceedings of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, for the above period; and, 2d, That they contain much information connected with the enquiry on Church Patronage in Scotland.
Johnston. John Lee.
Perhaps I may be allowed to state in addition, that the Committee were at pains to compare the earliest and most important volume with a document which I formerly produced before the Committee, containing, along with other matters, the Book of Discipline, which belonged to Mr. James Carmichael, minister of Haddington. This document is referred to in the Acts of the General Assembly, 1638, in which the reasons for considering that earliest volume an authentic register are inserted; and not only did the book appear to be in the hand-writing which is stated in the Acts of the Assembly to be at least partly found in it, but it likewise contained passages which are there said to be found in particular pages marked by Mr. James Ritchie, the Clerk of the Assembly. The passage is very remarkable, but it would detain the Committee perhaps to mention it, though if any report is to be given upon the subject it might be material. It is stated in the printed Acts of the General Assembly, 1638, that what is called "the 5th book and greatest volume is marked on the margin with the hand-writing of Mr James Carmichael, which is cognosced, who was appointed to peruse the books of the Assembly, and would not have margined the same by virtue of that command, nor extracted the general acts out of it. if it were not in approbation thereof as an authentic and famous book. In the Book of Discipline pertaining to Mr. James Carmichael, subscribed by himself and by Mr. James Ritchie, there are sundry acts and passages quoted out of the said 5th great volume, saying it is written in such a page of the Book of Assembly, which agreeth in subject and quotations with the said fifth book, and cannot agree with any other; so that Mr. James Carmichael, reviser of the Assembly Books by their comman, would not allege that book, nor denominate the same a book of the Assembly, if it were not an authentic famous book." Now this little volume to which I have referred contains references to pages 839, 873, and 828, all of which on comparison were found to correspond with that earliest record.
Have you any further particulars to communicate collected from the inspection of the books at Sion College?—No, I think that nothing occurs to me, except that the second and third volumes are subscribed in a hand-writing which is well known to me, that of Thomas Nicolson, who was long Clerk of the Assembly; and on a former occasion I had an opportunity of comparing the hand-writing of that individual with the hand-writing which is upon these two volumes.
Veneris, 2° die Maii, 1834.
The Rev. Robert Watts, junior, called in and Examined.
Have you any communication to make to the Committee with regard to the order that was transmitted for sending the books at Sion College to this Committee?—I was directed to give the Committee this paper for their inspection.
[The Witness delivered in the same, which was read, as follows:]
At a Meeting of the Governors of Sion College, holden on Thursday, the First day of May 1834;
The Secretary stated, that he had summoned this court in consequence of the Rev. Robert Watts, junior, Assistant Librarian having received a summons from a Select Committee of the House of Commons on the Patronage of the Church of Scotland, to produce the three volumes of the Book of the Church of Scotland, gifted by the late Mr. Archibald Campbell, and also the deed of gift of the said books.
Upon which the Court took this matter into their consideration; and the deed of gift being read,
It was resolved, That this Court are extremely anxious to comply with the order of the Committee of the House of Commons, so far as is consistent with the trust under which they hold the books, and are therefore willing that any inspection of them should take place, and that a transcript should be made of the said books by such persons as the Committee may appoint, but that the deed of gift expressly restricts them from parting with the custody of the books themselves.
That the Rev. Mr Watts, junior, do attend the said Committee to-morrow, and produce to them the deed of gift; and humbly express to them the opinion of this Court, which has been corroborated by that of Sir Nicholas Tindal when solicitorgeneral; and that this Court trust the Committee will not compel them to part with the custody of the manuscripts, in express violation of their trust.
Have you any thing further to state to the Committee upon this subject ?—With regard to the deed of gift, just at the conclusion of it, the Committee will observe, that the copies are directed to be made in the Library; that is the part upon which the directors found their desire not to give them up. It is implied, at least their legal advisers say so, that they are not to let them go out of the Library.
[The Witness withdrew.]
The Witness was again called in, and informed that the Committee had resolved that the books should be produced on Monday next.
Lunœ, 5° die Maii, 1834.
The Rev. Robert Watts, Junior, called in, and further examined.
Will you produce the books which you were ordered to produce on the last occasion ?—These are the books.
Will you have the goodness to state what those books are which you produce ?—Manuscript Records of the Kirk of Scotland.
How many volumes are there, and of what date ?— Three volumes; from 1560 to 1619.
[The same were delivered in.]
[The Witness withdraw.]
The Witness was again called in and informed, that the Committee wished the books to lie upon the Table for their inspection, and that the Committee would send to him when they wished them to be returned.