Saturday, November 1, 2014

Disruption of 1843

Only Robert and Henrietta Muir's daughter, Henrietta Muir, married outside the established Church of Scotland when she married James Williamson in the United Presbyterian Church in 1861. That church was formed in 1847 with the union of the United Secession Church and the Relief Church. Such was not the case for Robert and Henrietta's grandchildren. They married in accordance with the forms of many different religions and organizations. There were two reasons for that change:
  • In 1855 civil registration of births, marriages and deaths was introduced
  • The great disruption within the Church of Scotland in 1843
The post-1855 civil registration of births did not include information about baptism but marriage registrations did include information about how the couple was married. The schism within the Church of Scotland set the stage for many different religious denominations.

The Disruption Assembly, a painting by David Octavius Hill; image
courtesy of Wikipedia

The Great Disruption

The Acts of Parliament recognized the Church of Scotland as the national church and the church always claimed the right to exercise independent jurisdiction over its own affairs, but the right of patronage continued to be a contentious issue. Patronage was the right of a wealthy patron or landowner to install a minister of his choice.

The Disruption of the 1843 was a schism within the Church of Scotland, also known as the established Church of Scotland, which occurred after ten years of conflict over the issue of the church's independence and relationship with the state. About 450 ministers walked out of a General Assembly meeting and formed the Free Church of Scotland. The conflict was bitter and had a profound effect on civic life.

Those ministers who left forfeited livings, homes and pulpits. Without the aid of any establishment or organization, they had to found and finance their version of a national Church from scratch.  They were generally more conservative of doctrine, for example, organs were not permitted in the church buildings until 1883.

Most of the issues which caused the schism were conceded by Parliament by 1929, which cleared the way for the reunion of the church that same year. However, the Church of Scotland never fully regained its former position after the schism. There are still many Presbyterian denominations practiced in Scotland today.

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