Appendices to volume 3: VII

Pages xxxix-xlv

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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VII. Documents referred to in the Preface, Page ix.

1.—Letter From Mr. William Grant of Preston-Grange, Procurator of the Church, May 3, 1733.

To the very Reverend Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at Edinburgh.

Reverend Sir,
The Commission of the last General Assembly, by their Act of the fourteenth of March last, did appoint me to take a view of a Manuscript of the old Acts of Assembly, and if I judged them true and authentick, to cause the same to be transcribed.

In obedience to this appointment, I have several times view'd the Mss. and conferred with Mr Campbel, the Proprietor of them; but neither can I take upon me to judge whether they are true or authentick, tho to be copyed I think they would well deserve. But the Gentleman insists on other conditions than were at first explained or made known to the Commission, or to me till I saw him here. All therefore that I can do, is to explain as well as I can at a distance, what these Mss. are, and upon what terms we can have the Mss. or a Copy of it; and then the General Assembly may judge what shall be done.

To give you some view of the contents of these Books, which are three Volumes, one greater, and two smaller, and all in Folio, I have employed one to take a note of the several Assemblys, their date of commencement, and number of Sessions, and the time appointed for the meeting of the next Assembly, as oft as that is found in the Mss. And a great part of this Abstract I have myself compared, and corrected by the Mss. itself, and the rest caused to be done by another than the transcriber. He has likewise set down the words prefixed and subjoined to the great Volume, which appears to be signed by A. Johnstoun of Waristoun; and the Title prefixed to the 2d Volume; and the names of Moderators; and the places where subscriptions appear in the Mss. This was the best view that I could think of giving, such as could be sent in a letter. Any account or abstract of the contents or matters of the Acts themselves would have been bulky, and required time to prepare.

The subscriptions appear to me to be true and original. Those of Waristoun to the first Volume I compared with three other authentic Subscriptions of his, fur nished by his son the Secretary; and with these the Mss. agrees, except in the (hon) h (fn. 1), which is thus writ in the Book, tho the others have no such tail subjoined; yet the air and appearance agree together; and perhaps that singularity was added to his Office-Subscriptions, to distinguish these from his ordinary ones. The other two Volumes are both signed by T. Nicolson; but I had nothing to compare these with, tho they have likewise the appearance of originals.

Such are these Mss. and upon them the Hon. Mr Archibald Campbell, the owner, sets a very high value; and declares his resolution, that if he shall not part with them, or publish them in his own lifetime, he will take care that they shall be carryed out of this Kingdom, where they cannot be come at, after his decease.

His present Resolutions and demands are these:

That in case encouragement shall be given for printing the Mss. he will then allow it to be copyed in order to Publication, and not otherwise.

That the General Assembly shall be at the charge of making a Copy for the Press, which will cost about £30 Stg.

That being published, the General Assembly may retain the Copy that shall be so made, and collated with the Original; and shall further have the refusal, or first offer of the Original Mss. itself, they being willing to give him the same price for it, that he can get from any other person.

What will be encouragement sufficient for printing it, you'l see by Mr Millar the Bookseller's Proposal; and it is in case 300 Subscriptions shall be obtained in Scotland.

At the same time, it is not meant or desired that the Publication should be by authority of the Church, as if these were cognosced and judged authentick Registers; but merely as the act of the private Proprietor of the Mss.

Mr Campbel thinks, that for the Mss. itself, even after it is printed, he can get a hundred Pounds St.

Thus I have laid before you the case as it stands, and shall not presume to offer any opinion. The Mss. appears to be valuable, and well worth having, either the Principal, or an Authentick Copy, if it could be had on reasonable terms. And the question to be determined is, Whether the value of this, or the difference betwixt this and such other Mss. as we have already in Scotland, be worth the purchasing on the terms above mentioned.

I am, with great respect,
Reverend Sir,
Your most Humble and most Obedient Servant,
William Grant.

London, May 3d 1733.


I. This Book will contain about 200 Sheets, and will be printed on a good Paper and Letter.

II. The Work shall be put to the Press so soon as 300 Copies are subscribed for, and it shall be Published in Six Months after such a number is procured.

III. The Price to Subscribers to be 2d [per] Sheet, but as the number of Sheets it will make is uncertain, half a Guinea is proposed to be paid down, and the Remainder on the Delivery of a Book in quires.

IV. Those who subscribe for Six shall have a Seventh Gratis. N.B. The Names of the Subscribers shall be Printed before the Work.

Subscriptions are taken in by Andw Millar Bookseller, against St Clement's Church in the Strand, London: and by Gavin Hamilton, Bookseller in Edinburgh.

3.—Mr. Wodrow's Letter Anent Registers. Oct.29, 1733.

Dear Sir,
Yours of 10 did not reach me till the 17. I have carefully perused all the Papers you so kindly send me, and have collated the Table which I see hath 2 or 3 errors in it, —John Hay for George Hay, and some others. The abstract gives some more light; but if it had noticed the first and last words of every Session, it would have afforded much more.

Now I am satisfied, The Record in Mr Campbells hands, is distinct and a different copy from these we have in Scotland: But whether the differences be so considerable betwixt them as to answer the high price he setts on his Mss. I cannot yet judge. Indeed I hesitate much upon it.

Before I come to give you the deffects I observe in my copy, which I suppose agrees very much with that Dr Fraser sent down, and the 5 or 6 others we have, let me observe from the printed Acts of Assembly 1638, p. 3. line last. Fol. edit. that at that time there were many copys specially of General Acts then extant, which they say agree with the Registers which they are proving to be authentick. Of this kind I take our present copys to be. These Acts of general use were appointed to be extracted by Mr Craig and others about 1592: But whether our copys be that extract I cannot say. They seem to be very large, and contean many things as to particular persons, one would think are of no general use.

The observations that offered themselves to me, upon collating the large Abstract and short Table with my copy are these. The adjournments in the Record are pretty often wanting in the copy. The Moderators alwise agree. The Title of the Assemblys differs more in words then in sense as far as the Abstract goes. The Record generally leaves out Superintendants, Ministers, and Commissioners from Shires and Countrys, which is pretty often in the Title of the copy. Two things make the Table the more useless to me in this collation. The Copy pretty often agrees in the number of Sessions; but then it leaves severall of them. It will have Sess. 1 & 3 & 6. and yet they agree in the totall number; and its probable from the Abstract 1562, that Sessions in one Assembly are putt together, without numbering; and perhaps the Table is taken from the last number of the Record, and may want some of the intermediat Sessions. Some of the differences I have observed between the Record and Copy are as follow.

Ass. 1563, Decr. 25, Session 2d is wanting in the Copy.

—1564, June 25, Session 3d is wanting in the Copy.

In both these the Mss. Calderwood hath extracts which the Copy wants. From this and Calderwoods numbering every Assembly exactly the same way with the Table, I guess Calderwood hath made his extracts from the Records.

Ass. 1567, July 21. Sessio 4 & 5 wanting in the Copy.
Calderwood hath extracts out of the 5 Session.

Ass. 1567. Dec. 25. 6 & 7 Sessions wanting in the Copy.
Calderwood hath extracts from both.

Ass. 1568, Feb. 25. The dates of the dayes of the Sessions differ, and the Copy wants Sess. 6. which Calderwood hath extracts from.

Ass. 1569, July 4. Sessio 4 is wanting in the Copy.
Calderwood also hath extracts from it.

Ass. 1569, March 1. The Copy wants Sess. 4 & 5. 6. which Calderwood also gives extracts from.

Ass. 1570, July 5. Sess. 6, is wanting in Copy.

—1570, Mar. 5. Sess. 6, is wanting in Copy.

—1570, (1571) Aug. 6. Sess. 3 & 4 wanting in Copy.

—1571, Jan. 12. Sess. 4, 5, 6, wanting in Copy.

—1571, March. Sess. 4 wanting in Copy.

—1572, August. Sess. 4 wanting in Copy.

—1572, March 6. Sess. 2, 4, 5, wanting in Copy.

Calderwood gives extracts of some of these, but not alwise. About this time Bishop Adamsons lacerations begin.

Ass. 1572, August 6. Sess. 4 & 5 wanting in Copy.

—1573, March 6. Sess. 2, 4, 6, wanting in Copy.

—1574, August 7. Sess. 4 & 5 wanting in Copy.

Here the Abstract ends. I doubt the Table is not so exact. Houever in what folows, I nottice these differences.

Ass. March 1574. Copy wants Sess. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. This I imagine is one of Adamsons tearings.

In severall Assemblys the Record hath a Session or 2 more than the Copy, as Ass. 1575, 1578, 1583, 1587, 1591, 1600.

Ass. 1610, The Record hath 5 Sessions. The Copy hath no distinction.

Ass. 1616, Record hath but one Session. Copy hath 18 Sessions. Neither Record nor Copy have the Assembly at Perth 1618. Calderwood hath it.

Upon the whole, I am ready to think, that the differences are not very great between the Record and our Copys; and that Calderwoods Mss. will very much supplye these deffect of this. I shall be in better case to write when I collate my Copy with Calderwoods Mss. as I incline to doe this winter, if I recover my further strenth, which is but uncertain, severall lesser tumors rising upon my breast.

Under your correction, and the Committys that have this matter before them, I shall offer my present thoughts upon the whole.

The Great Book now in the Honorable Mr Campbells hands, in my opinion, is the 5 Register which is named Act. Ass. 1638 p: 2: called the Greatest Volume, and declared free of all prejudice and suspicion, and to be received with credite, as margined by the hand write of the Clerk, and agreeable to the 4 preceeding Books. At first when I read the Abstract you sent me, and observed in your letter that S. Subscibitur is not added to Gray's subscriptions, as in my Copy, I inclined to think this volume to have been the 4 volumes mentioned by the Assembly 1638 bound up in one. But besides Lord Warriston's declaration, that this is the Great Book, that is the Greatest of the 5, and the 5th Register, the division of the Tomes in the Table doth not agree with the volumes mentioned in the Acts of the Assembly 1638. You will see page 2d, that the 2d Register and 2d Tome in the Table end Assembly, August 1572. And the 3d Register lying before the Assembly 1638, conteans the Assemblys from 1574–1579, which is the 4 Tome of the Copy in the Honorable Mr Campbells hands. And in the Registers before the Assembly 1638, there is a gap between 1572 and 1574, which youl see by the Table is made up in Mr Campbels Record, Tome 3d. So that its impossible this Record can be the same with the 4 volumes lying before the Assembly 1638, and declared to be famouse, authentick and good Registers by them: Besides in the Table the 5 Tome conteans the Acts of Assemblys from 1579 to May 10, 1586, which are wanting in the 4 volumes of Registers before the Assembly 1638: And so this greater volume conteans these years which were not in the authentick Registers; and then the 6 Tome comes in as the 4 volume of Registers before the Assembly 1638: So that I am pretty positive this Record is not the authentick 4 volumes of Registers, but the greatest volume the Assembly 1638 speaks of. All which is confirmed from the description given, Acts of Assembly 1638, p. 3 a medio, "That this greatest volume conteans the Acts from 1560–1590, and agrees with the 4 Books and Registers, as farr as is extant in them; and further recordeth what is wanting by them, passing by what is mutilat in them;" that is Bishop Adamsons tearings.

These remarks, I think, settle the point, that Mr Campbells Record is not the Principal Authentick Acts before the Assembly 1638, but a Copy of them signed on the Margine by Mr James Ritchie, the Clerk, and copied by his servant, which are declared by Assembly 1638 to be conform to the Registers, and free of all suspicion, and deserving credite.

When I am upon this, youl be pleased to inspect the Copy Dr Fraser sent down to Colledge, and particularly the subscription. I mind on my transient view of it, its signed Nicholson: But I dont mind, whether it be James Nicholson or Thomas Nicholson. If Thomas Nicholson, I make little question but its a Copy taken off the originals then in their hands, by that Gentleman who was 3d Clerk to the Assembly. If James Nicholson, he was Moderator of the Assembly 1595; and it may be, hath been a copy taken for his use at that time. You can only judge of this by occular inspection.

However this be, I am of opinion, this ought to be signified in your correspondence with the Honorable Mr A. Campbell, that his Record is not the original Registers before the Assembly 1638; but only the Greater Book, which is declared worthy of credite: because they collated it with the Original Records. This ought at least to bring doun his very high demands, for this Mss. the wanting of S. Subscribitur to Grayes subscription will not ballance what is above, and might be a slip of the Transcriber.

Allow me only to add, that before you can deal with Mr Campbell to any purpose, either your Copy taken off Dr Fraser's must be sent up to London, to be carefully collated by some body of sense with Mr Campbells Record, and the differences carefully marked; at least the first sentence and last of every Session that your Copy wants, should be sett doun, if Mr Campbell will allow; or Mr Laudon, or any youl imploy, must go through your Copy, and give the Assemblys with their dates, and the first and last words of every Session, with the first and last words, or at least the Tittles of the Principal Papers conteaned in the different Assemblys. For instance, Assembly, April 24, 1581, the 2d Book of Discipline is insert. Assembly, May 10, 1586, a list of Presbitrys through Scotland is insert. Assembly 1590, August 4, the list of the members of Assembly are insert. By this collation Mr Campbell will not be wronged, and you will be in case to Judge the true value of his Record.

When this is done, if the difference be but trivial between our Copyes and his, and especially if we can make them up from Calderwoods Mss. History, I cannot say I would be for giving him above 40 or 50 Pound for his Record, since he will see our Copys are not farr short of it. So much, had we money to give, I wish were given to have one of the Registers approven by the Assembly 38.

If it come out otherwise, then other methods must be taken with an old poor man not very friendly to our Constitution, and in his oppinions already farr gone over to Rome.

In no case I would be for printing the Record, except it were revised by a Committy named by the Assembly; and such things as are not of general use be left out. I gave you my reasons for this when here. There are Acts contradicting one another, and many things unfitt for the public view. And no wonder when the Church was but just emerging from Popish ignorance and confusion; and it was 20 years before Presbitrys were established; and 9 before any regulation was made, who should be members; and generally all came who were Ministers, and well affected to the Reformation, who wer of any rank.

I would be much rather for a collection for the summ that shall be agreed on with Mr Campbell for his 3 volumes. And I hope we are not so low but 2 or 3 hundred Pound might be gathered from Ministers and well disposed persons at Guineas a peice, with a promise of a Copy of the Acts of Assembly of generall use, when the Assembly sees fitt by their orders to print them, which I think might be done. And our friend A. Millar, who hath made this discovery to us, should be considered in that matter. I fear the Churches funds are so much embarrassed, that little can be hoped for from them.

If Mr Campbell should be unreasonable in his demands, what offers to me under correction is, that propper hands should be imployed to deal with Secretary Johnstoun, that the state of the matter should be laid before him; and the Churches claim upon these 3 volumes of Records, signified to him; and even our claim upon him as his father's Representative, for what belonged to the Assembly, and is attested by his father in the Churches name. His claim on Mr Campbell might likewise be urged. In that case, the Secretary might easily deal with Mr Campbell in concert with you here.

All this is proposed in much submission to your better judgement. I only mention these things as hints which may open the dore to somewhat more ripe and digested from you and the Committy which have this matter before them. I know you will take all as well meaned, and make allowances.

Allow me to subscribe myself, Dr Sir,
Your most Humble
And Affect Servt.

Eastwood Oct 29



  • 1. See fac-simile of Wariston's signature, page XLVI.