NQ Scottish History

Extracts from St Andrews Kirk Session minutes, 1559-1560

The Kirk session in each parish consisted of the minister and elders and its minutes record the session’s dealings with the parishioners, including poor relief and the moral behaviour of the community.

National Archives of Scotland, Crown ©, CH2/316/1/1/ 118-249


Excommunication of John Bycartoun, June/July 1564 (Images 1-3)

21 June/ 6 July 1564

Excommunication against John Bycartoun

Wyth incalling of the name of Crist Jesus, Sone of the eternall God, quho is the way the verite and the lyff, by quhois mercye and gudness, we, minister eldaris and diaconis of Cristis kyrk and congregacion of Sanctandrois, ar called as watchemen ower his flok, quhilk he hes mercifully delivered and reduced from the bondage and yok of Antecrist to the lycht of his Ewangell, be the plenteows preching of the same, so that the face of ane perfyt reformed kirk hes beyn seyn within this citie be the space of five yearis.

The sacramentis deuly ministrant all thingis don in the kyrk be comly ordor established disciplyn used and resaved wythoutyn any contempt or plane contradiction of any persoun quhill now laytly upon the x day of may last wes Johnne bycartoun saidlar Inhabitant of this citie and member of this congregation ..... be parteakyng of the lordis supper with the brethren at the lordis tabyll and assisting the congregation with his body armit in defense aganis the Inimeis Inpignores of the trewth (be him confessed) as ane protestant and so haldyn and eftir hytherto Being delated called befoyr us to hawe beyn accused for his contempt of the godly comly and estableschyd order of the kyrk In procuryng his child laytly borne within this citie to be presented to baptisme be mastir david mclean hym self being present within this citie for the tym wald nocht present his awyn child tharby gewand occasion of offence and sclander to the holl congregation The said Johan comperand befoyr ws prevenit our accusation And all reverence set apart stuburnly with partinences affirmit and meantenit his contempt of the said ordour and that he wald never be subject thair unto And at the same wes nocht grundit upon the scriptur it wes idolatrie Inventit be man

Also refusand to resaive ansuer or to heir the weir of the kyrk or to submit hym to disciplyn (Being charged thairto) stubbornly objected

As also thaireftir he hes nocht feared oppynlie to Inpugne and vilipond the ordour most godly of examination & confession of faith used and gewyn be the faythfull befoyr thair admission to the lordis tabyll as a thing nether godly nor necessary to be used

Yit nochtwythstanding all thir premissis, we did first labor be all meanis to have reduced the said Johan to heir the voce of the kyrk with quietnes; and fyndyng that our travel to tak non effect toward hym, we have uttered his caus and contemptis foyrsaidis to the holl congregacion, be thre public citacionis and admonicionis mayd thre severall Sundayis in the public essemble; with certificacion to hym, gyf he persistit in his contempt, we wald proceaid aganis hym with detful ordor to the execucion of excommunicacione as to the gretest and last punischment belonging to the spirituall ministerie, and tharefter invocat the assistance of civill magistrates and autorite temporall. Efter quhilkis thre public admonicionis and public prayiris mayd for the said Johane, at the day appointed for execucion of the horribyll sentence of excommunicacion agans hym, we thocht gud be oppynnyng of the Scripturis of God to have the danger of his stayt declared, to the fear and terror of the said Ihone and his adherantis quhatsoever; and also granted awcht dayes of delay and mercy, wylling his frendis to travel with him in myd tym for his amendiment; and gevyng place also to ony person offendit with our proceadingis to geve in befoir  us the resson and caus of thar offence to be discussed. Seing non to compeer now, because the said Johane Bycartoun persistis in his contempt, inobedient to the voce of the kyrk, he wordily meritis and deserves to be excommunicated, separated and cuttit of from the societie and fellowschip of the congregacion of Crist Jesus and all benifites of his kyrk; and to be delivered unto Sathane for the destruccione of the flesche that the spirit ma be saved in the daye of the Lord Jesus. Heirfor, havyng God only befoir owr ees, and the testimonye of his trew and eternall Word, be this owr sentence, we declar and denunce the said Johan Bycartoun, for his transgression contempt and inobedience, excommunicat, seperated and cuttit of from the congregacion and misticall body of Crist Jesus, and all benefitis of his trew kyrk (the hearyng of Goddis Word only except); delivering hym oneto Sathan, for the distruccion of the flesche, that the spirit may be saved in the daye of the Lord; and at nane of the faythfull fearyng God, fra this hour furth, accumpany wyth hym in commonyng, talkyn, bying, selling, eating, drynkyn or other way quhatsoever, except thai be appoynted of the kyrk for his amendment; with certificacion gyf ony do in the contrar thai salbe reput favoraris and fostararis of his iniquite, called and accused tharfor, and, being convict as participant with hym, sall resave the lyik sentence with hym. In wytnes heirof the sayll of the said ministerie is heirto affixit, at Sanctandrois, upon the xxiij day of Junii, the year of owr redempcion 1564 yearis, &c.

Upone the ix daye of Julii, anno 1564, I, Cristofer Goodman, minister of Goddis word, in the public essemble of the congregacion of Sanctandrois, execut thir present letteres, and excommunicated, and inhibit all and syndry faythfull to accompany with hym as is abov specifyid. In witness heirof, I have subscrivit this my indorsacion with my hand, Cristofer Goodman, minister, &c.


Die xiiij mensis Februarii anno Domini mvlxiiij

Seing it hath pleased the gudnes of the eternal God, to move the hart of Johane Bycartoun (efter long obduracione, and lying under the horribill sentence of excommunicacion pronounced aganis hym be consent of the holl kyrk for his transgressione of godly ordor, obstinacie in the same, inobedience and contempt of the kyrk) to humyll himself, and compeer befoyr the ministerie the vij day of Februar instant; and thar, in acknawledgyng of his offences, offer hym willing and obedient to the disciplyn of the kyrk, and to fulfyll thar ordinance in making of public satisfaccion to be appoyntit to hym, that he mycht be resavit to the unite of the kyrk and societie of the congregacione of Crist, to the gret rejoysing of the hartis of the said ministerie present at that tym; quhai knawyng thar dewtie, that as the said Johane was cut of be consent of the holl kyrk, so also he awcht to be resavitt be the holl consent of the same, gyf no occasione of impediment war fund be thame toward hym. For triall quharof, his foyrsaid desyr, in the public essemble of the congregacione upon Sunday the xj day of Februar foyrsaid, be the minister was publest; and place gevyn to ony, that wald object impediment to stop the said desyr, to compeer in the session of the ministerie, upon Wednisday this xiiij of Februar, with intimacione that otherwayis thar silence wald be had and reput for thar holl consent.

And now nan comperand to object, or allege impediment or stop, the ministerie with glad hartis in name of the holl kyrk, declares the said Johan Bycartoun to be admittit to public repentance and satisfaccione. And understanding the said Ihon to have sustenit gret dampneg and disays in guddis and body, throw his awyn wyckednes and adhering to the consall of the ongodlye, and subject instantly to ane disays and maledy that he is nocht habyll to underly sic disciplyn as his demerits justlye doeth deserve, the ministerie tharfor at this present dispenses with all rigor, and ordenis the said Jhon, this nixt Sunday, the xviij of Februar, at the end of the sermon befoir nuyn, in the public essemble of the congregacion, his offencis bravely being repentit be the minister, to acknawlege the same and promys obedience in tym cuming to the lawfull ordinance and voce of the kyrk, humyll himself one his kneis, ask God mercye and the congregacione forgyfnes. This don, the minister sall first resave hym be the hand in the pulpot quhar he standis, and syne sall appoint hym to pas to sa money of the eldaris as salbe deput to syt together for that purpose; quhilkis in the name of the kyrk sall resave hym and embrace hym as thar brother to the unite of the kyrk. And last of all the minister sall geve thankis to God for his conversione, and mak public prayeris for his continuance, according to the purpose, as the Spirit of God sall move his hart for the tym, &c.

Thir premissis war deuly fulfillit in all poyntis be Ihon bycartoun the xvij of Februar.

Marriage festivities breaking the Sabbath, 13 September 1570 (Image 6)

13 Sept 1570

For repressing of the insolencye of new marett folkis within this citie in brekking of the Sabbat

The said day, the sessioun hes ordanit ane supplicatioun to be direct to the magistratis of this citie for guid ordour to be takin in tyme curning, for reformatioun of the grite abuse usit be new mareit personis in violatioun of the Sabbat day; and in spetial quhen, the day of thair mareage eftir nuin, they resort noch[t] to hering of the doctrine, and at evin eftir supper insolentlie, in evil exemple of utheris, perturbis the town wytht rynning thair throw in menstralye and harlatrye.

About those who present themselves to the communion without tickets or with forged tickets, 3 June 1573 (Image 8)

Anent  them that presentis themselves to the communion without tiketis or feingyeit tikatis.

The said day, it is decernit be the session that the act maid in thir bukis, anent them that presentis them selves to the communion wythtout tikatis, or wytht fengyeit tikatis, of the dait the vij day of Maii 1572, be put to executioun.

About the request by Patrick Auchinleck to perform a comedy on Sunday 1 August, 21 July1574 (Image 10)

Anent the comede askit to be playit be M Patrik Authinlek upon Sunday the first of August nixt to cum

The said day, anent the supplicatioun gevin be Maister Patrick Authinlek for procuring licence to play the comede mentionat in Sanct Lucas Euuangel of the forlom sone, upon Sunday the first day of August nixt to cum, the seat hes decemit first the play to be revisit be my Lord Rectour, Minister, M. Johnne Rutherfur[d] Provest of Sanct Salvatour Colleage, and Mr. James Wilke Principal of San[ct] Leonardis Colleage, and gyf they find na faIt thairintill the sam to be play[it] upon the said Sunday the first of August, swa that playing thairof be nocht occasioun to wythtdraw the pepil fra heryng of the preaching, at the howre appointed alsweil eftir nune as befoir nune.