Scottish Episcopal Church History

19th Century

19th Century

The one in which the Church grows, becomes more democratic, and its character is formed by the Oxford Movement


A Moment in the Century : Persecution and an Argument are over

What is usually known as the Synod of Laurencekirk is more properly described as a series of convocations. They were summoned by the Bishop of Aberdeen, John Skinner, soon after he became Primus, and he made it clear at the first of the gatherings in 1789 that the meeting could not be called a Synod as there was no Canonical authority for a meeting which involved not just the bishops but also all the clergy and, for the first time ever, lay delegates from each congregation.

These were important meetings which sought to find ways out of two dilemmas. The Episcopal Church was still under the restrictions of the Penal Laws and an increasing number of people were opting to worship in the legal Qualified Chapels, which did not recognise the authority of the Episcopal Church.

The three meetings of the Convocation of Laurencekirk between 1789 and 1804 were ultimately successful in solving both problems. The first had begun when the Penal Laws, imposed after the failure of the Jacobite Risings, started to bite. Some clergy were prepared to take the oath of allegiance to King George and, having been ordained by an English, Welsh or Irish bishop, were thus "qualified" to minister in (what became known as) "Qualified Congregations". Other clergy were either not willing to take the oath or, even if they were willing, had been ordained by a Scottish bishop, which meant that they could not do so. The 1748 Act said that any priest ordained by a Bishop of the Scottish Church could no longer have his Orders registered and could not conduct public worship - or even private prayers for his own family if more than four others were present.

For many lay Episcopalians the appeal of the legal Qualified Chapels was obvious at a time when there were penalties for worshipping at an Episcopalian service. In some parts of the country the Qualified Chapels were strong while in others they failed completely. In Cruden Bay when Alexander Keith died in 1763, after nearly fifty years as schoolmaster and priest in Cruden, the Earl of Erroll built a Qualified Chapel but, rather than go there, the folks in Cruden walked the twelve miles to Ellon or the eight to Longside each Sunday depending on where the service was being held. In Ellon itself a Qualified Chapel lasted just four years.

But the split was there. The hope of a way out of the difficulties caused by the Penal Laws and the division in the Church came with the election of John Skinner as Coadjutor Bishop of Aberdeen in 1782. The Bishop of Aberdeen and Primus, Robert Kilgour, was an old man now, but one who retained personal memories of when the bishops had deferred to the Stuart kings in exile. There were three exiled kings whom the bishops recognised - James VII, who fled from London in 1688; James VIII, and Charles III, Bonnie Prince Charlie, and there was one whom they did not. He was Bonnie Prince Charlie's younger brother, Henry IX of England and I of Scotland (or Henry II if Mary-Queen of Scots second husband, Henry, Earl of Darnley, is regarded as a king-consort). Henry was perhaps the best of all the Stuarts but - at least in the eyes of the Scottish bishops - he had the disadvantage of being a Cardinal bishop of the Roman Catholic Church. And so, at the death of Charles II in 1788, Bishop Kilgour accepted that it was the end of the road for the Stuart kings in Scotland and resigned as Primus, having given up the See of Aberdeen two years earlier. The way was clear for those who wished to make a new beginning.

When John Skinner became Primus in 1788 he immediately began to work for a settlement of the two problems with beset the Church. At an Episcopal Synod in Aberdeen on April 24th 1788 the bishops agreed that as from May 25th that year prayers would be said for King George III and the Royal Family. The first Convocation of Laurencekirk in 1789 deputed Bishops Skinner, Abernethy-Drummond and Strachan to travel to London to ask for a repeal of the Penal Laws. The first attempt passed in the House of Commons but not in the House of Lords. A three year campaign in Scotland and London led to the passing of the Relief Act on June 15th 1792. The Penal Laws were , essentially, gone - although a few remnants of them lingered for longer.

There was still, however, the question of the Qualified congregations.They were ministered to by priests, many of whom were Scots who had been ordained by English, Welsh or Irish bishops. They were not, however, subject to the authority of any of these bishops and, especially, they did not recognise the authority of the Scottish bishops. At the maximum there were twenty-nine Qualified congregations, and by the time the penal laws were repealed twenty-four of them remained. Bishop Skinner had early success in persuading some of the Qualified congregations in Aberdeen diocese to unite with the Episcopal Church - Banff in 1792 and Cruden in 1801 were the first, and priests from both places were at the Convocation of Laurencekirk in 1804, at which the principal business was acceptance of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion as a public Confession of Faith. The acceptance brought the Scottish Church into line with both the Qualified Congregations and the Church of England.

Who made the decision in 1804? John Skinner, obviously, and three other bishops. They were Andrew Macfarlane of Ross, Jonathan Watson of Dunkeld, and Alexander Jolly of Moray. Two bishops were not present – John Strachan of Brechin, who was too infirm to come, and William Abernethy-Drummond of Edinburgh, for whose absence no explanation is known. There were also thirty-eight priests and two deacons present as well as lay delegates - a total of eight-four people in all. Nearly all the clergy of the Church came, excepting those who were too ill or too old to travel.

Why at Laurencekirk? It was a convenient place. Most of the clergy lived north of the Tay, and Laurencekirk, amid the rolling countryside of the Mearns, provided a good meeting place, with, from 1792, the added advantage of having a bishop living in the village. At that time it was normal for bishops also to be parish priests and in Laurencekirk the incumbent from 1791 was Jonathan Watson, who became Bishop of Dunkeld in 1792.

How he came to be in Laurencekirk is in itself quite a story. Laurencekirk had grown from a tiny hamlet to a substantial village in the years that Lord Gardenston, a judge in Edinburgh, had been the laird. He was a Presbyterian but he was very pleased that the first Convocation of Laurencekirk in 1789 was being held in his village. He asked the Presbyterian Minister for help in accommodating those who would come. The Minister declined, saying that he had little time for Episcopalians. The Laird then told him that if that was the case the Minister would be seeing much more of them. The Laird said he would build and endow a church and also a house for the priest - and he did.

Bishop Skinner achieved what he set out to do at the Laurencekirk meetings. The Penal Laws were repealed and there was no longer a need for the Qualified Chapels to exist separately from the Episcopal Church. Less than a month after the Laurencekirk meeting in 1804 Daniel Sandford, incumbent of the Charlotte Street Qualified Chapel in Edinburgh brought his large congregation into the Episcopal Church and, a sign that the rift was over, he was elected as Bishop of Edinburgh in 1806. However, it took until 1920 until the last of the Qualified Chapels - at Montrose - came in.

Photo: John Skinner, the Primus, who convened the meetings at Laurencekirk


The Chronological Story of the 19th Century


1804 Under the leadership of the Primus, John Skinner, the Convocation of Laurencekirk begins a process which brings together the former “Non-Juring” and “Qualified” strands of the Church. (At the time of the meeting there were more than twenty Qualified congregations and by 1813 thirteen of them had become part of the Episcopal Church. The process continued until 1920 when the last of the Qualified Chapels joined the Episcopal Church).

The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion are also accepted at the Laurencekirk Synod, beginning a rapprochement with the Church of England, a process which culminated in 1864 with the removal of the last barrier, allowing priests ordained by Scottish bishops to hold office within the Church of England.


1807 King Henry I and IX dies and is buried in Saint Peter’s in Rome. He had been a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church for sixty years. Under the terms of his Will (which he signs with the royal initial R (for Rex) after his name) he leaves the crown jewels which James VII and II had taken with him into exile in France to the future King George IV and names his own successor in his claim to the throne as his cousin and nearest relative, Charles Emmanuel IV, former King of Sardinia. Following the death of his wife, Charles Emmanuel had abdicated aKing of Sardinia in favour of his brother Victor Emmanuel, although retaining the personal title of king. He lived in Rome and Frascati. He made no public claim to the British Crown and in 1815, at the age of sixty-four, took simple vows in the Society of Jesus and lived the rest of his life in the Jesuit novitiate in Rome.


1809 The Synod of Bishops meets in Aberdeen and agrees six Canons.


1810 A Theological College for the Episcopal Church is founded. Miss Kathrein Panton of Fraserburgh, a member of the saintly Bishop Alexander Jolly's congregation in Fraserburgh, endows the College and appoints Fraserburgh born James Walker as Pantonian Professor (a title still in use in today's Theological Institute). He held the appointment until his death in 1841. He was also Bishop of Edinburgh from 1830 and Primus from 1837. The College has no students in its first years and, when some appear, James Walker teaches them in his own home. His successor as Pantonian Professor and Bishop of Edinburgh is Charles Terrot. He is also Primus from 1857 to 1862. He teaches his students at 8 Hill Street, Edinburgh, and then in Saint Andrew's Hall in the High Street.

When Trinity College, Glenalmond, opens in 1847 the College transfers to Perthshire and became the Senior Department of Glenalmond. Bishop Terrot remains Pantonian Professor unil 1863. He resigns as Primus in 1862 and dies, still Bishop of Edinburgh, in 1872. Four years later the bishops decide that training should again be centred in Edinburgh, although for the next four years the College has no fixed home. In 1880 a house at 9 Rosebery Crescent is rented and in 1891 Coates Hall purchased. The College is replaced by the dispersed Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1994 (known as The Scottish Episcopal Institute from 2014) and Coates Hall is now home to Saint Mary's Music School and the Choir School of Saint Mary's Cathedral, Edinburgh.

1811 A General Synod meets with two Houses – one of bishops and the other of deans and representative clergy. The principal business is the revision of the 1743 and 1809 Canons, which had been agreed by the bishops alone. The Scottish Communion Office becomes the primary authorised Liturgy and the English one (used in the Qualified Chapels) secondary but permitted. There is also a recommendation that the surplice replace the black gown as appropriate wear for clergy at services because white is “the proper sacerdotal vestment” used by both the Jewish and Christian priests and “seems to be a much more appropriate dress for ministers of the Prince of Peace than black”. There are twenty-six Canons in the 1811 Code.


1814 Hanover becomes a kingdom in its own right and George III becomes also King of Hanover.

1816 John Skinner, the Primus and Bishop of Aberdeen, dies in office, aged seventy-two. He had been a bishop in Aberdeen for thirty-four years and Primus for twenty-eight. He is succeeded as Primus by George Gleig, incumbent of Stirling since 1797, Co-Adjutor Bishop of Brechin from 1808 to 1810 and Bishop of Brechin since 1810. He makes a visitation to the Brechin diocese every three years (but in his final ten years is not able to go at all). He is a prolific writer and an editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica.


1820 Matthew Luscombe, a priest in Paris, is consecrated as a bishop by the Primus, George Gleig, and two other Scottish bishops, to serve British Anglicans living in France. Following the consecration of Samuel Seabury, as the first bishop in the United States thirty-four years earlier, it is a further step in the establishment of a worldwide Anglican Communion.


1820 George III dies and is succeeded by his son, George IV. He has already ruled as Prince Regent during the nine years of his father’s illness.


1828 and 1829 A General Synod meets at Laurencekirk and agrees changes to the Code of Canons – a new title page names the Church as The Protestant Episcopal Church in Scotland. The word "Protestant" is removed ten years later.

1829 The Parliament at Westminster passes the Roman Catholic Relief Act, which removes the penal laws as applied to Roman Catholics.


1833 The Oxford Movement begins in England with the aim of restoring the High Church ideals of the seventeenth century. It appeals to many in Scotland as the Episcopal Church holds a high view of sacramental doctrine, although its practice has been ascetic and simple. There is now a gradual introduction of greater ritual, reflected in both worship and the architecture of new church buildings.


1830 George IV dies and is succeeded by his younger brother, William IV.

1830 Episcopal vacancies provide an opportunity to re-organise dioceses. Glasgow and Galloway is separated from Edinburgh to form a new diocese; Moray is joined with Ross and Fife added to Dunkeld and Dunblane (it is eventually called the Diocese of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane).


1837 George Gleig resigns as Primus, aged eight-three, after twenty-one years in the role. He continues as incumbent of Stirling and Bishop of Brechin. The new Primus is James Walker. He was born in Fraserburgh, Aberdeenshire, and had been Bishop of Edinburgh since 1830, having resigned as incumbent of Saint Peter’s, Edinburgh, on his consecration. A diligent bishop he visits all the congregations in the diocese.

1837 William IV dies and is succeeded as monarch by his niece, Victoria. However, the direct link between the British and Hanoverian thrones ends as succession laws in Hanover preclude a woman from the throne. Victoria's uncle, the Duke of Cumberland and Teviotdale, becomes King of Hanover. (The final king, George V of Hanover, is deposed in 1866 when the kingdom was annexed by Prussia. He dies in 1878 and is buried in Saint George’s Chapel, Windsor.

1838 A General Synod meets and revises the Code of Canons – the word “Protestant” is removed from the title page; formal recognition of the role of co-adjutor bishops is given; the surplice replaces the black gown as the mandatory and “proper sacerdotal vestment” and the Scottish Episcopal Church Society is founded to provide a fund for aged and infirm clergy, grants for congregations in difficulty, assistance for ordinands and Episcopalian school teachers and for the creation of diocesan libraries.


1840 The former Primus, George Gleig, dies in Stirling, where he had been incumbent for forty-three years. He had been Co-Adjutor and then Bishop of Brechin for twenty-nine years.

1840 A Bill is passed by both Houses of Parliament which removes a restriction on any priest ordained by a Scottish bishop from officiating in English parish churches.


1841 The Primus, James Walker, dies in Edinburgh, aged seventy. He has been Bishop of Edinburgh for eleven years and Primus for four.

His successor as Primus is William Skinner, Bishop of Aberdeen since 1816 and son of the former Primus, John Skinner. William Skinner is a graduate of both Marischal College, Aberdeen and Wadham College, Oxford. Like many others in this period, in order to avoid the remaining penalty of the penal laws, he sought ordination outwith Scotland. He was ordained by the Bishop of St Asaph in 1802 and served as his father’s assistant in Saint Andrew’s Chapel, which had been built next to the original meeting house in Longacre, Aberdeen. He succeeded his father, both as incumbent and as Bishop of Aberdeen, in 1816. The following year the Longacre congregation moved to a new church in King Street (which is now Saint Andrew’s Cathedral).


1842-1880 In a reaction against the Oxford Movement some congregations leave the Episcopal Church, objecting to a change in the Canons which seeks to prevent non-liturgical services. They describe themselves as “English Episcopal Chapels”. Eventually the number of congregations, including several private chapels, is twenty-four. They regard themselves as under the authority of the Church of England, although the Church of England does not so regard them. All their clergy have been ordained by English, Welsh or Irish bishops. Samuel Gobat, Bishop in Jerusalem, and Edmund Beckles, retired Bishop of Sierra Leone, oversee the English Episcopal Chapels at different times. In the late 19th and 20th century these congregations gradually re-enter the Episcopal Church, the last to do so being Saint Silas’, Glasgow, in 1986.


1843 The unease in the Church of Scotland over who appoints ministers and the Church’s relationship to the State leads to The Disruption in which 450 ministers and thousands of lay people leave the Church of Scotland to form the Free Church of Scotland. The various seceding groups proliferate to form more Presbyterian denominations.


1847 The election of Alexander Penrose Forbes as Bishop of Brechin in 1847, at the age of thirty, gives added impetus to the emerging Oxford Movement in Scotland. The new bishop had come under its influence while a student at Oxford. Further up the Tay, Saint Ninian’s Cathedral in Perth originates as a Mission Church in the Oxford Movement tradition in 1846 and work on the Cathedral begins soon afterwards. Its foundation stone is the first to be laid for a cathedral in Scotland since that at Fortrose Cathedral in the Diocese of Ross in the 14th century.

1847 Trinity College, Glenalmond, is another fruit of the Oxford Movement. It is founded by William Gladstone and James Robert Hope as a place where young men can be trained for the ministry of the Episcopal Church (a role transferred to Coates Hall in Edinburgh in 1891 ) and also where the sons of the laity can be educated and brought up in the faith and tradition of the Church. The school continues today as Glenalmond College, a boarding and day school for boys and girls aged between twelve and eighteen.


1849 The influence of the Oxford Movement continues and the College of the Holy Spirit is built by the Earl of Glasgow on the Isle of Cumbrae “for the frequent Celebration of Divine Service by a Collegiate Body under circumstances favourable to religious learning”. The Earl envisages five Canons and seven Choristers being resident. In 1876 the Collegiate Church becomes the Cathedral of the Isles, within the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles. Between 1849 and 1885 the College operates as a theological college and, for two years following the Second World War, serves as Cumbrae Test School, at which ex-service candidates for ordination receive preliminary training. Both Cathedral and College continue today, with the College in use as a residential retreat centre.

1850 The Episcopal training Institution is founded to train men as teachers in Episcopalian day schools and is followed, in 1855, by the School Mistresses' Training School. In 1920 the secular part of the training of teachers became the responsibility of the National Committee for the Training of Teachers and in 1928 the training of all Episcopalian teachers transferred to (what was to become) Moray House School of Education in the University of Edinburgh. The Episcopalian College, Dalry House, continued to provide two hours of training each week in religious education and also served as a hostel for students. It closed in 1934.


1857 The Primus, William Skinner dies, aged seventy-nine. He has been Primus for sixteen years and Bishop of Aberdeen for forty-one.

He is succeeded as Primus by Charles Terrot, Bishop of Edinburgh since 1841 and the first Englishman to be elected as Primus. He had been born in Cuddalore in South India (where his father was an officer in the army of the East India Company). He was educated at Carlisle Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge, and was ordained in Bristol in 1813. However, during the next year he succeeded his uncle as priest of the Qualified Chapel at Haddington in East Lothian, which in the following year became part of the Episcopal Church. In 1816 he moved to Edinburgh – first to Saint Peter’s and then in 1833 to Saint Paul’s, York Place. He remained incumbent there for the rest of his life. He became Dean of Edinburgh in 1837 and Pantonian Professor and Bishop of Edinburgh in 1841. During the following years the diocese saw new churches built and the appointment of a diocesan missionary with the specific task of seeking the poor and linking them into the life of local churches.

1857 The Bishop of Brechin, Alexander Penrose Forbes, delivers a Charge to his Diocesan Synod in which he stresses the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The other Bishops send a pastoral letter to the Church, to be read at each Diocesan Synod, disagreeing with Bishop Forbes. Formal proceedings in the Episcopal Synod lead to the censure and admonition of Bishop Forbes. A century later what he said would be the view of much, but not all, of the Episcopal Church.


1862 Charles Terrot resigns as Primus, aged seventy-four, after a stroke. He remains Bishop of Edinburgh, with a co-adjutor appointed.

He is succeeded as Primus by Robert Eden, aged fifty-eight. He has been Bishop of Moray and Ross since 1851. The son of an English baronet he was educated at Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford. He was ordained in 1827 and after three curacies became Rector of Leigh-on Sea in Essex. Following his election as Bishop of Moray and Ross he also became incumbent at Elgin, with just seven other clergy in the diocese.

1862 A Sister from the Society of Saint Margaret comes to Aberdeen from the Mother House in East Grinstead to undertake parish work – the first member of a religious order to work within the Episcopal Church. Within two years Saint Margaret’s Scottish house is established and later acquires independent status, with its own Mother Superior and novitiate.

The Sisters ran homes for children and for the aged in buildings adjacent to the Convent in the Spital, (where they moved in 1874) and also a guest house within the Convent itself. At various times Sisters worked in Lerwick, Oban, Fraserburgh and Dundee. Following the death of Mother Verity in 2002 the two remaining Sisters became part of the Saint Margaret Community at Walsingham, in Norfolk, although one of the two, Sister Columba, continues to live and work in Aberdeen.

The 2012-2013 Directory of the Scottish Episcopal Church lists three women’s communities as being active within the Episcopal Church – The Franciscan Hermits of the Transfiguration at Loanhead, near Edinburgh (founded in 1965 as an ecumenical community with a Cistercian rule);The Society of Our Lady of the Isles in Shetland (founded in 1988 with a rule which is a blend of Celtic, Franciscan and Carthusian) and the Carmel Community on the Isle of Lewis.

Other women’s communities founded Scotland but no longer in existence are -

  • The Community of Saint Andrew of Scotland in Edinburgh (1867),
  • The Community of Saint Mary and Saint John in Perth (1870) and transferred to Aberdeen and Ellon (1873). The Community closed in 1980.
  • The Sisterhood of Saints Mary and Modwenna in Dundee (1871). The Community closed in 1988.
  • The Order of Holy Charity in Edinburgh (1872) out of which grew the Order of the Holy Comforter (1891)

Some English Communities also established Houses in Scotland, although, none now continues in Scotland -

  • The Society of All Saints began work in Edinburgh in 1870
  • The Community of the Epiphany worked at Saint Ninian’s Cathedral, Perth, from 1905 to 1923
  • The Society of Saint Peter the Apostle, Horbury, Yorkshire, took over the running of the Saint Andrew’s Home for Girls in Joppa in 1919 from the Community of Saint Andrew of Scotland. In 1930 the Saint Peter’s Community divided into two independent Houses and four groups of Sisters from one of them, the Community of Saint Peter the Apostle, Westminster, worked in Scotland at Saint Andrew’s Home, Joppa; All Saints’ Mission House, Edinburgh; and retreat houses at Balhousie Castle, near Perth, and Sunnybrae at Walkerburn in the Borders. The Sisters withdrew from Walkerburn, the last surviving house, in 1976.
  • The Order of the Holy Paraclete, based in Whitby in Yorkshire, sent Sisters to assist in staffing Scottish Churches’ House in Dunblane in the 1980s and 1990s and also worked in Mid-Craigie, Dundee, from 1996-1999. The Order has its mother house in Whitby and its five branch houses in Britain are currently all in Yorkshire.

Fewer communities of men have worked in Scotland and only one appears in the 2015-2016 Directory –

    • The Franciscan Hermits of the Transfiguration at Loanhead, near Edinburgh, founded in 1965 with a Cistercian Rule and - like the women’s community at Loanhead – is ecumenical

Other groups have also worked in Scotland in years past –

  • Monks from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (the Cowley Fathers) were at Bishop’s House on the Isle of Iona from 1897 to 1909. Members of the Society returned to Scotland in 1942 and lived at Doune in Perthshire. One of the priests was Rector of Saint Modoc’s Church and Superior of the Community. All lived in The Rectory. In 1946 the Society left Doune and lived at Saint John’s Mission House in Joppa until withdrawing from Scotland in 1954.
  • Brothers of the Society of Saint Francis worked in both Edinburgh and Glasgow for some years from 1978 and in Dundee from 2003 to 2005. A Sister of the Community of Saint Francis worked alongside the Brothers in Glasgow from 2001 and also with them in Dundee.

The 2015-2016 Directory lists just one community which offers membership to both men and women -

  • The Emmaus Community of Saint Benedict was founded in September 2013 in the Diocese of Edinburgh and is a dispersed community who meet for the Eucharist, study and discussion at Emmaus House, a retreat centre in Edinburgh.

1863 The Primus, Robert Eden, presides at a General Synod which agrees a complete revision of the Code of Canons. Lay Electors are allowed a role for the first time in choosing bishops, the formal beginning of lay involvement in the government of the Church. (When Bishop Eden had been elected bishop twelve years earlier the electorate consisted simply of the seven priests in the Moray diocese - five voted for his election and two did not).


1864 With the removal of, effectively, the last piece of the penal laws, priests ordained by Scottish bishops can hold office within the Church of England.

1864 The Diocese of Caithness is added to Moray and Ross and the Primus, Robert Eden, now becomes Bishop of Moray, Ross and Caithness.


1865 The ministry of Lay Reader is established in the Scottish Episcopal Church.


1866 The foundation stone of Saint Andrew's Cathedral in Inverness is laid by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Charles Longley – a public recognition of the Episcopal Church by the Church of England.


1871 Requests for the Episcopal Church to take financial responsibility for mission work in Kaffaria in South Africa and the Mission District of Chandra in India are accepted, and the first bishop for the Diocese of St John’s, Transkei, South Africa, is consecrated in Edinburgh in 1873. Over subsequent years priests from Scotland serve in both areas and the link with the Diocese of Mthatha (as St John’s has been called since 2006) continues – it is one of Aberdeen and Orkney’s companion dioceses, the other being Connecticut, a link stretching back to the consecration of Samuel Seabury as the first Bishop in the United States in 1784.

1871 The Irish Church Act (passed by the Westminster Parliament in 1869) comes into effect and the Church of Ireland is dis-established, that is separated from the State and the requirement that tithes be paid to it removed. Irish bishops cease to be members of the House of Lords.


1872 The former Primus, Charles Terrot, dies aged eighty-two. He has been Bishop of Edinburgh for thirty-one years.


1875 Alexander Penrose Forbes, Bishop of Brechin for twenty-eight years, dies aged fifty-eight. Although never chosen as Primus, he laid the foundations for the development of the Episcopal Church from the mid-19th century onwards. In Brechin diocese he oversaw the building of churches and schools and also played a role in many areas of life in Dundee.

1875 The Aberlour Orphanage is founded by Canon Charles Jupp in the Speyside village of Aberlour. At first Canon and Mrs Jupp cared for just four “mitherless bairns” in one cottage. The Canon remained priest of Saint Margaret's, Aberlour, and Warden of the Orphanage until his death in 1911, never wavering from his view that every child has the ability and right to flourish. At its peak, following the First World War, five hundred children were in care. The Orphanage closed in 1967 and the Aberlour Child Care Trust continues its work of caring for Scotland’s children today.


1876 Further revision of the Code of Canons takes place at a General Synod in Edinburgh. Among the provisions is the establishing of The Representative Church Council, giving laity a voice, along with bishops and clergy, in the governance of the church’s finances and administration. It remains the Church’s administrative body until the creation of the present General Synod structure in 1982. There are forty-seven Canons in the 1876 Code.


1878 Pope Leo XIII restores the Scottish hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Bishops are appointed to cover some of the ancient dioceses (with new dioceses of Motherwell and Paisley being added in 1948). During the years of persecution a hidden network of priests and bishops ministered in Scotland but only in a few areas, such as parts of the Western Isles and some Highland glens, were Roman Catholics a significant percentage of the population. This changed with 19th century immigration from Ireland into the west of Scotland and this, together with freedom from persecution and growing confidence, contributed to the Pope’s decision – eighteen years after a similar restoration in England.


1886 The increasingly frail Robert Eden resigns after twenty-four years as Primus. He becomes priest of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit (now Saint Michael and All Angels) in Inverness, a church founded in 1877 to minister to the poor of the town. Bishop Eden dies within a few months.

The new Primus is Hugh Willoughby Jermyn, Bishop of Brechin since 1876 and previously Bishop of Colombo in (what is now) Sri Lanka. He was born in Cambridgeshire and educated at Westminster School and Trinity Hall, Cambridge University.

Bishop Jermyn has a history of over-working (he had breakdowns in health in the West Indies as Archdeacon of St Christopher’s and also later as Bishop of Colombo - he returned to Britain after four years in the diocese. However, during his twenty-seven years as Bishop of Brechin the first twenty are fruitful as he builds on the foundations laid by his predecessor in Brechin, Alexander Penrose Forbes - new churches open and the number of communicants almost doubles.


1888 The bishops of the Anglican Communion at the Lambeth Conference (in a document known as The Lambeth Quadilateral define four areas deemed essential for a united church - the Bible as the ultimate standard of faith; the Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds as statements of faith; the sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist; and the historic Episcopate. However, the only churches with which the Episcopal Church is in communion are all Anglican but as the 20th century progresses non-Anglican churches are added – the Old Catholic Churches of Europe, the Philippines Independent Church, the Lusitanian Church of Portugal, the Spanish Reformed Church and the Mar Thoma Church of Kerala in south-west India. The Churches of North India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and South India are considered special cases as all were formed - at various times after British rule ended in the Indian sub-continent in 1948 - by a union of the Anglican Church with other denominations. All are now provinces of the Anglican Comunion. In the second half of the 20th century the Porvoo Agreement brings the Episcopal Church and other Anglican Churches of the United Kingdom into a close relationship with the Lutheran Churches in Scandinavia and the Baltic, Germany and France and from 2014 the Lutheran Church of Great Britain.


1890 At a General Synod there are further changes to the Code of Canons. “Rector” replaces “Incumbent” as the ordinary title of a priest in charge of a congregation and it is agreed that the Representative Church Council will not deal with questions of doctrine, worship or discipline, these being the concern of the newly named Provincial Synod. A proposal that the Primus becomes Archbishop is rejected (although the Primus will now be styled “The Most Reverend”).


1891 The Theological College moves fom Glenalmond o Coates Hall in Edinburgh (it remains until a dispersed Institute replaces it in 1994) and Coates Hall becomes part of the Choir School of Saint Mary's Cathedral.



1894 The Bishop of Argyll and the Isles, Alexander Chinnery-Haldane, founds Saint Columba’s House, on the Isle of Iona, as a centre of Prayer, Study and Eucharist (the house, now known as Bishop’s House, continues this role as a residential retreat centre)



1896 Pope Leo XIII in the Papal Bull Apostolicae Curae declares Anglican Orders to be null and void.






Another Moment in the Century : Parson Duncan - a faithful priest


Duncan Mackenzie was born in Ballachulish around 1783 and spent most of his adult life ministering to the people of the Diocese of Moray and Ross, of which he became Archdeacon, and more particularly to the people of Strathnairn, where he lived.

Most people in Scotland today struggle to place Strathnairn - it's a wild, lonely glen in the mountains on the south side of Loch Ness. In the Revolution of 1690 the majority of the people were Episcopalians and it was not until the large scale emigration of the 19th century that the Episcopalian population thinned at all.

The easiest way to find Strathnairn is from the A9 road between Aviemore and Inverness. Five miles south of Inverness the B851, signposted for Fort Augustus, leads off to the west. The road follows the course of the River Nairn through woods and hills and the settlements of Inverarnie, Farr, Flichity, Brin and Croachy. In the latter is the present day Episcopal Church of Saint Paul, which was built on the site of Duncan Mackenzie's church in 1868. The road goes on through Aberarder and Dunmaglass and over the hill into Stratherrick, with its villages of Errogie, Gorthleck and Whitebridge, before coming to Fort Augustus at the head of Loch Ness.

Duncan Mackenzie trained for the ministry with the Reverend John Murdoch, the priest in Keith, spending the winters studying at King’s College, Aberdeen, from where he graduated with a Master of Arts degree in 1817. At King’s he also took a more formal interest in Gaelic, his native language, and was later, during his Strathnairn years, to translate Scriptures and the Prayer Book into Gaelic. He also did some medical studies and this was to serve the people of Strathnairn well.

He was ordained deacon in the year of his graduation and appointed incumbent of Strathnairn. He was ordained priest two years later and immediately was given added responsibility as incumbent of Dingwall, thirty miles away. He remained in Strathnairn until his death 41 years later, although he resigned the charge at Dingwall after 32 years. During those years he was in Strathnairn and Dingwall on alternate Sundays. He also spent eight years as priest of Fortrose (1832-1840) and, for the five years before his death (1853-1858), was also priest of the Gaelic Mission in Inverness. In addition to all of this, as Archdeacon of Moray and Ross, he travelled throughout the north, both on foot and on horseback. His silver plated stirrups are preserved at Saint Paul’s.

Parson Duncan was prepared to minister to everyone, without thought of denomination, and was greatly liked and valued for his care, love and generosity. The medical skills he had acquired were as appreciated, and as freely given, as the spiritual ones.

In Strathnairn services were initially held in a church at Knocknacroshaig, near Brin Rock. The church was built in 1817, the year Duncan Mackenzie came to the glen. It is thought that it was destroyed in a fire and thereafter he held services in the open, while another church was built at Croachy. He and Florence, his wife, lived in two rooms adjoining the new church.

In his latter years Parson Duncan was no longer able to afford his customary generosity to the people of the glen. (He got into the way of putting a mark on certain of the scripts he wrote for parishioners to take to the pharmacist in Inverness. If the mark was there, it was because the family would have difficulty in paying and so there was no charge - and the priest settled up with the pharmacy later. His stipend remained unchanged at £15 a year throughout his long ministry in Strathnairn, but as more and more people sought his medical advice this small amount proved inadequate, and so he took on the tenancy of a hill-farm, overlooking Loch Ruthven, which provided a little extra income.

Duncan had grown up in Ballachulish speaking Gaelic and had studied it more formally during his years at King's College in Aberdeen. It was also the language of most of the people of Strathnairn, and one of the tasks he undertook was the translation of the Prayer Book into Gaelic.

Duncan Mackenzie died in 1858, still caring for the people of the glen, and is buried back home in Argyll, in the churchyard of Saint John's at Ballachulish.

In Saint Paul's at Croachy, the successor building to Parson Duncan's Church, a rose window in the west wall is a memorial to this fine priest and his wonderful ministry to the whole people of Strathnairn.


Yet Another Moment of the Century

Canon Mackintosh - Yet another amazing priest


On the 4th of October 1891 William Lachlan Mackintosh, a 31 year old newly arrived Residentiary Canon of Inverness Cathedral, first came to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in Factory Street, close to the Inverness Maggot Green. A few weeks later, at his request, the duties of its priest-in-charge were added to his ones at the Cathedral. Thus began the story of a lifetime of amazing work among the poorest of the poor in Inverness.

He had come to Inverness in 1891 after studying at Saint Mary’s Hall in Oxford and then Pembrooke College, Oxford, from where he graduated with a BA and, as is traditional in Oxford, an MA too. He went on to Ely Theological College, one of most prestigious Colleges of its day, and was ordained deacon in the Diocese of Oxford in 1887 and a priest a year later. He was the curate at Wantage in Royal Berkshire for four years before coming to the Cathedral Canonry.

That CV is a perfect career path for someone destined for high office in the 19th century Church. Add to it the fact that William Lachlan Mackintosh was the son of a Laird, the grandson of a clan chief - The Mackintosh of Mackintosh - and, of course, a perfect gentleman. On his father’s death he became the Mackintosh of Balnespick and Clunes, two estates near Tomatin in Strathdearn, fifteen miles south of Inverness.

So he might have lived the comfortable life of a Highland laird or - like Alan Don forty years later returned to England to be Chaplain to the Archbishop of Canterbury and then Dean of Westminster. But instead the Canon devoted the rest of his days to the wee chapel by the Maggot Green and its successor.

Ten years on “The Canon” as he was universally known down the river from the Cathedral, wrote to the members of the Chapel of the Holy Spirit at Christmastide 1901 from 6 Ardross Street, a Canon’s house close to the Cathedral - This is to tell you that from January 1st I resign my Canonry and work at the Cathedral and henceforth will devote myself wholly to the Charge of the Mission Chapel of the Holy Spirit.

Everyone still called him “The Canon”, though it was to be another ten years before he again became one. That Christmas letter in 1901 contained early signs of what was to come. He wrote - I hope to have a weekly celebration of the Holy Eucharist and to make this the Sunday morning service, carrying out in doing so the Apostolic custom of having the “Breaking of Bread” as the chief Sunday service, in other words the Lord’s own service on the Lord’s Day.

His thinking was way ahead of his time, although it would fit in well with what is now the recognised way of the Episcopal Church, which – as he would have expected – has taken it further in the last 100 years.

So from January 1st 1902 the Mission Chapel of the Holy Spirit was separated from the Cathedral and no longer a Dependent Mission became an independent one. Five years before the Canon came to Inverness a new chapel in Factory Street had replaced the original thatched cottage on the Maggot Green, but this was increasingly seen to be in the wrong place. The houses on the Maggot Green were being condemned to demolition as being unsuitable and the people who lived in them were migrating across the river. At a meeting of the congregation on August 16th 1902 the Canon put forward the suggestion that the Chapel be moved – and another sign of what lay ahead – to a site he had acquired at the corner of Lochalsh Road and Abban Street in Merkinch, and almost directly across the river from the Maggot Green.

Work began in taking down the Chapel and moving its stones to the new site, the roof being floated across the River Ness by barge. In the meantime, the congregation worshiped in the former Queen Street Free Church. They were only there for seven months as the re-constructed church was opened with the name of Saint Michael and All Angels on March 13th 1904. The whole cost of the move and building work was paid by the Canon.

Saint Michael’s remained an independent mission but there was once more thing to be done – to raise it to an incumbency but for this there needed to be an adequate endowment to pay all the expenses of a parish. The Canon, as he was still known, gave £3000 (in today’s money around £1 million) as an endowment and on September 11th 1911 he was instituted by the Bishop as the first Rector of Saint Michael’s – a recognition that the church had moved through three kinds of congregation (Dependent Mission, Independent Mission and Incumbency) and was now a congregation with a permanent status. And also in 1911 William Lachlan Mackintosh was again installed as a Canon of Saint Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness, although now the days of Residentiary Canons there were gone.

Five days after his Institution as Rector, Canon Mackintosh wrote to the people, giving thanks to God and the congregation for all that had been accomplished in the nineteen years since he first came to the Chapel of the Holy Spirit. His address at the top of the letter was “Ivanhoe, Lochalsh Road”, a house just a hundred yards from Saint Michael’s. In the letter he said Now when people toil up a hill and reach the top they sit down and admire the view. This may be all very well in climbing up Craig Phadrick (Inverness’s iconic hill) but in spiritual things we never reach the top, the work of the Church is never completed; in short we can never sit down and admire the view. Many a church is completed as to bricks and mortar and even as to an endowment but it is a different thing as to the spiritual work of the church. The bricks and mortar will last for years, the endowment will lie snugly in the Bank, but the spiritual life of the church is a delicate thing that is constantly on the ebb and flow. And this is not a matter which concerns only the clergy, the people have their part too. Spiritual things are more important than things material. Of course, we admire a beautifully furnished church and solemn services, and moreover outward beauty is acceptable to God; but as a great saint once said “There is nothing more beautiful than a human soul”. The souls for whom Christ died are more beautiful than the most beautiful churches and services, and it is this spiritual life of a parish that is the important thing. The preservation and growth of this life depend upon ourselves, both clergy and laity. We cannot afford to “sit down and admire the view”, but by God’s help and grace let us press forward and upward.

They did so and the church flourished. The architect, Ninian Comper, gave freely of his skills and produced designs to make the building ever more beautiful. Canon Mackintosh paid £2000 (£750,000 today) for the resulting building work, which removed the old dormer windows, raised the height of the walls and placed new windows in their present position, created an east window in place of the original stone wall, enlarged the Lady Chapel, and built a fine stone High Altar. And throughout his life such generosity was there – the Rectory beside the Church was built by the Canon and many of the antique furnishings sourced during his summer holidays in Europe, and all within the aim of bringing people to heaven. He knew that he wanted to make Saint Michael’s a centre of Anglo-Catholic worship in the north. This was not for his own sake but for his parishioners. The people who lived around the Maggot Green, and then across the river in Merkinch, were for the most part poor. For the Victorian and Edwardian poor, life was grey and grim and so he wanted to bring the colour and vibrancy of high church worship, and especially the Mass, to them.

It worked too. Jimmy Callaghan, the Master of Ceremonies at Saint Michael’s and an expert custodian of all things liturgical, says that more than sixty-five years ago, as a young boat boy carrying the incense, he remembers that the first people in the procession of Choir and Altar Party walked along the path by the north wall of the church and reached the West Door before the end of the procession could even leave the Sacristy. And the church was full too. That recollection comes from some thirty years after the Canon died, and during the long ministry of another great saint of Saint Michael’s, Canon Reggie Butchart.

William Lachlan Mackintosh a saint…..well he would have been flawed as all of us are in one way or another, but these are the words from his obituary and also some spoken by Provost Alexander Douglas Mackenzie in Inverness Cathedral on the Sunday after the Canon’s death in April 1926 -

Many who never knew Canon Mackintosh personally will remember the tall, stooping figure with the pale, ascetic face, rendered still paler by the white muffler and black cape which, except in the warmest weather, he found necessary to wear, but those who knew him more intimately have lost a friend and a father who will not easily be replaced.

In the Cathedral Provost Mackenzie said - Anyone meeting him would be struck at once by three traits in his character – his charm of manner which marked him under all circumstances; his scholarship – he had read widely and had a retentive memory - and his obvious saintliness. It was in the beautifully ordered worship in the little church, which he himself practically made and beautified, and in his constant communion with Christ Crucified that he found the inspiration for his saintly life. Some might have wondered why so good and able a man did not seek preferment to a much larger sphere of work, but in giving of his best to Saint Michael’s, he was following the example of His Master who took just as much trouble with individuals as with large crowds. Canon Mackintosh was first and foremost a priest, and he was also a Highlander, who loved his own people and felt the call to do a particular work for them.

So a saint…..….and the final earthly resting place of William Lachlan Mackintosh of Balnespick and Clunes is next to the graves of his parents at the very top of Tomnahurich, another of Inverness’s hills, and today in Saint Michael’s his work continues. The congregation has recovered from the departure in 2011 of the then Rector and many of the congregation to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham within the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Michael’s ministry to those in need is now expressed though its open doors, support for the Food Bank and its support of “For the Right Reasons”, a Merkinch charity helping those recovering from alcohol or drug dependency. The congregation is linked with Saint John’s, the oldest of the four Episcopal congregations in Inverness and both are under the gentle care of Canon John Cuthbert, who grew up within the Saint Michael’s, and who often reminds people (although not necessarily in these exact words) that the love past Rectors shared with the congregation is also there for the people of today, for it is the love of Christ himself, and it is God’s gift to us all.