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National Fasting and the Politics of Prayer: Anglo-Scottish Union, 1707

  • JEFFREY STEPHEN (a1)

Abstract

From the early Reformation the Scottish Kirk had seen national public fasting as an essential exercise in furthering the spiritual, political and material well-being of the nation. For that reason fasts were held frequently, particularly at times of national crisis in Church and State. In 1706, with parliament about to deliberate on a treaty for an incorporating union with England, a national fast seemed an obvious step. The refusal of the Court party to grant a civil sanction to a fast therefore placed the issue to the forefront of national debate, providing the opposition with a major opportunity to disrupt the progress of the treaty.

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1 Register of the acts of the commission of the general assembly, 1706–7, NAS, CH 1/3/8, 161; NLS, Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 51v. For a detailed treatment of the union see Allan I. Macinnes, Union and empire: the making of the United Kingdom in 1707, Cambridge 2007.

2 ‘Scotland's ruine’: Lockhart of Carnwath's memoirs of the union, ed. Daniel Szechi, Aberdeen 1995, 141; Sir John Clerk, History of the union of Scotland and England, ed. Douglas Duncan (SHS 5th ser. vi, 1993), 95.

3 CH 1/3/8. 211.

4 Joseph M'Cormick, State papers and letters addressed to William Carstares, Edinburgh 1774, 750–2.

5 William Carstares to John Erskine, 6th earl of Mar, 11 May 1706, in HMC, Report on the manuscripts of the earl of Mar and Kellie, London 1904, 262.

6 Carstares to Robert Harley, July 1702, and 24 Oct 1706, in HMC, Report on the manuscripts of his grace the duke of Portland, London 1907, viii. 104, 250. Carstares was not alone. Sir John Clerk of Penicuik (Sr) wrote to his son, one of the commissioners, with similar concerns: ‘Spiritual journals of Sir John Clerk of Penicuik’, ii, 1699–1708, NAS, GD 18/2092.

7 For a more detailed treatment of Presbyterian objections to incorporating union and of the debate among commissioners during the negotiations see Jeffrey Stephen, Scottish Presbyterians and the Act of Union, Edinburgh 2007.

8 George Ridpath, Reducing Scotland by arms, and annexing it to England as a province, considered: with a historical account of the grievances the Scots complain they have suffer'd in their religion, liberty, and trade, since the union of the crowns; which they assign as the cause of their delay to come into the same succession with England, until they have a previous security against such grievances for time to come, London 1705, 12, 20, and Considerations upon the union of the two kingdoms: with an account of the methods taken by ancient and modern governments, to effect a union without endangering the fundamental constitutions of the united countries, London 1706, 42. See also The whole works of the late Reverend Thomas Boston of Ettrick: now first collected and reprinted without abridgement, including his memoirs, ed. Samuel McMillan, Aberdeen 1848–52, iv. 327.

9 James Hodges, The rights and interests of two British monarchies, with a special respect to an united or separate state: treatise iii: containing farther enquiries into the best means of procuring a happy union betwixt the two kingdoms; with a special regard to the argument, that the making both nations one people, must also make them of one interest, London 1706, 53–4. See also Ridpath, Considerations upon the union, 43; ‘The Trimmer’, in Spottiswoode Miscellany, i, Edinburgh 1844, 245; and A voice from the north or an answer to the voice from the south, written by the Presbyterians of Scotland to the dissenters in England, Edinburgh 1707.

10 Revd John Logan to Mar, 27 Aug 1706, HMC, Mar and Kellie, 274; George Ridpath to Alexander Wodrow, 23 Feb. 1706, in ‘Correspondence between George Ridpath and the Revd Robert Wodrow’, in Miscellany of the Abbotsford Club, i, ed. James Maidment, Edinburgh 1837, 384.

11 Robert Wylie, A letter from a member of the commission of the late general assembly to a minister in the country: concerning present dangers, Edinburgh 1707, 6.

12 GD 18/2092.

13 The correspondence of George Baillie of Jerviswood, 1702–1708, Edinburgh 1842, 11; The restoration of episcopacy in Scotland the only sure foundation for a lasting union with England, in a letter to Sir J. P. Bart, London 1705, 4, 7; The queen an empress, and her three kingdoms one empire, London 1706, 27–31.

14 Charles Douglas, 2nd earl of Selkirk, to James, 4th duke of Hamilton, 2 Sept. 1706, GD 406/1/7251; Anne, dowager duchess of Hamilton, to Hamilton, 25 Sept. 1706, GD 406/1/7138.

15 Robert Wylie to Hamilton 1 July 1706, GD 406/1/9747.

16 George Lockhart to Hamilton, 1 Aug 1706, in Letters of George Lockhart of Carnwath 1698–1732, ed. Daniel Szechi (SHS 5th ser. ii, 1989), 36; Clerk, History of union, 94; Selkirk to Hamilton, 2 Sept 1706, GD 406/1/7251.

17 James Hodges to Wylie, 21 Sept 1706, Wodrow quarto xxx, fo. 269.

18 Acts and proceedings of the general assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, from the year MDLX, ed. Thomas Thomson, Edinburgh 1839–45, i, 76.

19 The ordour and doctrine of the generall faste, appointed be the generall assemblie of the Kirkes of Scotland halden at Edinburgh the 25 day of December 1565, in Works of John Knox, ed. David Laing, Edinburgh 1846–64, vi. 391–428. For a detailed discussion of the Ordour and the context, rationale and implementation of the original national fast see W. Ian P. Hazlett, ‘Playing God's card: Knox and fasting, 1565–66’, in Roger A. Mason (ed.), John Knox and the British reformations, Aldershot 1998, 176–98.

20 Works of John Knox, i. 195–200; ii. 185, 264; iii. 34, 87–8; vi. 80–4; The Scots confession, 1560, and negative confession, 1581, ed. G. D. Henderson, Edinburgh 1937, 67, 103–10; David Calderwood, The history of the Kirk of Scotland, ed. Thomas Thomson, Edinburgh, 1842–9, iii. 530.

21 Works of John Knox, vi. 394, 407. For the reformers' doctrine of the Church see The Scots confession, arts 16, 18 at pp. 69–79.

22 Works of John Knox, vi. 395.

23 Ibid. vi. 395–401.

24 The booke of the universall Kirk of Scotland, ed. Alexander Peterkin, Edinburgh 1839, 28–30, 34–5.

25 Ibid. 34–5.

26 Works of John Knox, vi. 402.

27 Ibid. vi. 402–3; Calderwood, Kirk of Scotland, ii. 305.

28 Booke of the universall Kirk, 327–32.

29 Calderwood, Kirk of Scotland, iv. 696.

30 Booke of the universall Kirk, 337; Records of the Kirk of Scotland, containing the acts and proceedings of the general assemblies from the year 1638 downwards, as authenticated by the clerks of assembly, ed. Alexander Peterkin, Edinburgh 1838, 406.

31 This was done with great difficulty and such petitions were not always granted because it was claimed that the bishops had no love of fasting: Calderwood, Kirk of Scotland, vii. 453; John Row, The history of the Kirk of Scotland, from the year 1558 to August 1637: by John Row, minister of Carnock: with a continuation to July 1639, by his son, John Row, principal of King's College, Aberdeen, ed. David Laing, Edinburgh 1842, 333.

32 A declaration of his highness the Lord Protector and the parliament of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland for a day of solemn fasting and humiliation in the three nations, London 1656. For Presbyterian attitudes to Cromwellian union see F. D. Dow, Cromwellian Scotland, 1651–1660, Edinburgh 1979, and The Cromwellian union: papers relating to the negotiations for an incorporating union between England and Scotland, 1651–1652, ed. C. Sanford Terry (SHS 1st ser. xl, 1902), pp. xxi, 112–20.

33 Calderwood, Kirk of Scotland, vii. 463, 548, 577; William Struthers, Scotland's warning, or a treatise of fasting containing a declaration of the causes of the solemne fast indyted to be kept in all the Churches of Scotland, the third and fourth sundayes of this instant month of May anno 1628 and the weeke dayes betwixt them, as they may be goodly kept in townes, Edinburgh 1628 (RSTC 23370).

34 The letters and hournals of Robert Baillie, A. M. principal of the University of Glasgow MDCXXXVII-MDCLXII, ed. David Laing, Edinburgh 1841, i. 71, 93, 103, 111.

35 Sermons, prayers and pulpit addresses by Alexander Henderson, 1638, ed. Revd R. Thomson Martin, Edinburgh 1867, 253.

36 APS vi. 194.

37 A proclamation for a general fast: at Edinburgh, the twenty fourth day of August, one thousand six hundred eighty nine years (1689).

38 ‘A proclamation against the owning of the late King James, and appointing publick prayers for William and Mary, king and queen of Scotland’ (13 Apr. 1689), APS ix. 43–4.

39 A proclamation for a general fast (1689).

40 The register of the privy council of Scotland 1689, ed. Henry Paton, 3rd ser. xiii, Edinburgh 1932, 353–5.

41 An historical relation of the late general assembly held at Edinburgh, from Octob. 16 to Nov. 13: in the year 1690: in a letter from a person in Edinburgh to his friend in London, London 1691, 58.

42 Ibid. 59.

43 APS ix. 252, 351, 352. For many years after the revolution the security of the Protestant interest across Europe was a constant theme of the Church's annual fast.

44 See, as examples, Causes of a solemn national fast and humiliation, agreed upon by the commissioners of the general assembly met at Edinburgh the 4 of June 1696: and presented to the lords of his majestie's most honourable privy council, to be read by the ministers, in all the churches at the intimation of the said fast, Edinburgh 1696; Causes of a solemn national fast and humiliation, unanimously agreed upon by the commission appointed by the late general assembly, met at Edinburgh the 3rd of December 1696, Edinburgh 1696; and Act of the general assembly anent a solemn national fast and humiliation: at Edinburgh the fourteenth day of February, one thousand and seven hundred years, post meridiem, Edinburgh 1700.

45 CH 1/3/8, 164, 170.

46 APS ix. 150; Acts of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland, 1638–1842, Edinburgh 1843, 398.

47 Acts of the general assembly, 336, 391, 397.

48 David Armitage, ‘The Scottish vision of empire: the intellectual origins of the Darien venture’, in John Robertson (ed.), A union for empire, political thought and the union of 1707, Cambridge 1995, 100–2; Allan I. Macinnes, ‘Union failed, union accomplished’, in Daire Keogh and Kevin Whelan (eds), Acts of union: the causes and consequences of the Act of Union, Dublin 2001, 74–8.

49 George Henry Rose, A selection from the papers of the earls of Marchmont illustrative of the events from 1685–1750, Edinburgh 1831, iii. 275; Douglas Watt, The price of Scotland: Darien, union and the wealth of nations, Edinburgh 2007, 164–7 at pp. 159–79, 195–295 for a detailed account of the political agitation and popular protest; M'Cormick, State papers and letters, 527–8, 578, 634, 656, 669; Calendar of state papers, domestic series, of the reign of William III: 1 January 1699–31 March 1700, ed. Edward Bateson, London 1937, 288.

50 For an account of Darien by one of the ministers sent out see Francis Borland, The history of Darien: giving a short description of that country, an account of the attempts of the Scotch nation to settle a colony in the place, a relation of the many tragical disasters which attended that design; with some practical reflections upon the whole, Glasgow 1779, and Letter from the commission of the general assembly of the Church of Scotland to the honourable council and inhabitants of the Scots colony of Caledonia in America, Glasgow 21 July 1699. See also Stephen, Jeffrey, ‘The presbytery of Caledonia: an early Scottish mission’, History Scotland (2009).

51 The Darien papers: being a selection of original letters and official documents relating to the establishment of a colony at Darien by the Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies, 1695–1700, ed. John H. Burton, Edinburgh 1849, 254; Acts of the general assembly, 292; Hector Macpherson, ‘Alexander Shields, 1660–1700’, in Records of the Scottish Church History Society, iii, Edinburgh 1929, 55–68 at pp. 58–9.

52 HMC, Twelfth report, appendix part VIII: the manuscripts of the duke of Athole, and of the earl of Home, London 1891, 59; Scotland's present duty: or a call to the nobility, gentry, ministry and commonality of this land, to be duely affected with, and vigorously act for, our common concern in Caledonia, as a mean to enlarge Christ's kingdom, to benefit ourselves, and do good to all Protestant Churches, [?Edinburgh] 1700, 18–19.

53 M'Cormick, State papers and letters, 534, 578.

54 Ibid. 500, 506.

55 HMC, Athole, 59; ‘Act of the commission of the general Assembly, 8 Dec, 1699’, Darien papers, 254–5.

56 Acts of the general assembly, 290–1; Early letters of Robert Wodrow, 1698–1709, ed. L. W. Sharp (SHS 3rd ser. xxiv, 1937), 59.

57 Early letters of Wodrow, 92–3; Memoirs of the life, time and writings of the reverend and learned Thomas Boston, AM, ed. Revd George H. Morrison, Edinburgh 1899, 105.

58 M'Cormick, State papers and letters, 578; Early letters of Wodrow, 92–3.

59 Works of Boston, 105.

60 ‘The most memorable passages of the life and times of Mr J. B. [John Bell] written by himself, 1706’, Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fos 41v–43; His majesties most gracious letter to the parliament of Scotland: together with the lord high commissioner and lord high chancellors speeches, Edinburgh 1700; William Ferguson, Scotland 1689 to the present, Edinburgh 1965, 32; ‘Act for securing the Protestant religion and Presbyterian church government and for preventing the growth of popery’, APS x. 215 and appendix, 47–8.

61 Duchess Anne to Hamilton, 14 Oct 1706, GD 406/1/7125.

62 HMC, Mar and Kellie, 274; CH 1/3/8, 202, 211.

63 Wodrow quarto lxxiii, fo. 266.

64 HMC, Mar and Kellie, 274.

65 CH 1/3/8, 226. A total of twenty-six were present, sixteen ministers and ten ruling elders; they had just enough for a quorum of twenty-one, fifteen of whom had to be ministers.

66 Ibid; Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 52.

67 HMC, Duke of Portland, iv. 353.

68 Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 52.

69 Selkirk to Hamilton, 2 Sept 1706, GD 406/1/7251; A speech in season against the union, 7.

70 CH 1/3/8, 227; Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 52.

71 CH 1/3/8, 227; Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 52; ‘A short account of the proceedings of the last session of the Scots parliament, with some necessary reflections thereupon’, lxxxv, fo. 140r–v.

72 Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, 1 Oct 1706, CH 2/464/2, 105; Synod of Galloway, 15 Oct 1706, CH 2/165/2, 229–30; Synod of Dumfries 10 Oct 1706, CH 2/98/1, 252–3.

73 Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, 1 Oct. 1706, CH 2/464/2, 105.

75 Carstares to John Stirling, 3 Oct 1706, Glasgow University Library, ms Murray 650/65, i, no. 83.

76 Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 52v; Clerk, History of the union, 98.

77 Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fos 52–3; CH 1/3/8, 227.

78 Wodrow quarto lxxv, fo. 140 r–v.

79 Letters relating to Scotland in the reign of Queen Anne, by James Ogilvy, first earl of Seafield and others, ed. P. Hume Brown (SHS 2nd ser. xi, 1915), 95.

80 Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 53v; Mar to Sidney Godolphin, 1st Earl Godolphin, 14 Oct 1706, GD 124/15/462/4; Mar to Sir David Nairne, 13 Oct 1706, HMC, Mar and Kellie, 209.

81 HMC, Mar and Kellie, 290.

82 Hamilton to Duchess Anne, 22 Oct 1706, GD 406/1/5294. See also GD 124/15/462/4.

83 Mar to Nairne 13 Oct. 1706, HMC, Mar and Kellie, 290.

84 Clerk, History of the union, 98.

85 Wodrow quarto lxxv, fo. 140 r–v.

86 Clerk, History of the union, 98; Daniel Defoe, A collection of original papers and material transactions, concerning the late great affair of the union between England and Scotland: also an exact journal of the proceedings of the treaty as well at London as in Edinburgh, London 1712: observations at pp. 4–6.

87 Hamilton to Wylie, 12 Oct 1706, GD 406/1/7172.

88 Mar to Godolphin, 14 Oct 1706, GD 124/15/462/4; Letters relating to Scotland in the reign of Queen Anne, 95.

89 CH 1/3/8, 236; Wodrow quarto lxxv, fo. 142v.

90 Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 53v.

91 The first fast was widely observed. For examples see presbytery of Fordoun, 18 Oct., CH 2/157/2; Edinburgh, 31 Oct., CH 2/121/6; Kirkaldy, 31 Oct., CH 2/224/3; Jedburgh, 20 Nov., CH 2/198/6; Cupar, 27 Oct., CH 2/83/3.

92 Wodrow quarto lxxv, fo. 142v.

93 CH 1/3/8, 236–7; Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fos 53v–54.

94 Papers relating to commission of the general assembly, CH 1/2/4/5, fo. 229.

95 Letters relating to Scotland in the reign of Queen Anne, 97.

96 CH 1/3/8, 237.

97 Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 54v.

98 CH 1/3/8, 249.

99 CH 1/3/8, 250.

100 Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 54v.

101 Ibid.

102 Ibid.lxxv, fo. 142v.

103 CH 1/3/8, 253–4.

104 Wodrow to James Wodrow (his father), Edinburgh, 1 Nov 1706, Wodrow letters quarto iv, fo. 100.

105 Wodrow quarto lxxii, fo. 53.

106 Cupar and St Andrews observed their fast on 6 November: presbytery of Cupar, CH 2/82/3, 166–7; presbytery of St Andrews, CH 2/1132/1, 76.

107 Presbytery of Strathbogie, CH 2/342/3, 127.

108 Synod of Glasgow and Ayr, CH 2 /464/1, 104–5.

109 Mar to Nairne, 23 Oct. 1706, HMC, Mar and Kellie, 297; Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 54v.

110 Wodrow quarto lxxxii, fo. 54v.

111 Hamilton to Duchess Anne, 22 Oct 1706, GD 406/1/5294.

112 Defoe, A collection of original papers, 4–6.

113 Wylie to Hamilton, 1 July 1706, GD 406/1/9747. Queries to the Presbyterian noblemen and gentlemen, barons, burgesses, ministers and commoners in Scotland, who are for the scheme of an incorporating union with England, according to the articles agreed upon by the commissioners of both nations, Edinburgh 1706.

National Fasting and the Politics of Prayer: Anglo-Scottish Union, 1707

  • JEFFREY STEPHEN (a1)

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