ALMOST as early as we can throw the faint light of an imperfect history upon our country, a succession of zealous apostles of Christianity were spreading the faith over its remotest districts. Of those men only a few are now had in remembrance in Presbyterian Scotland; yet while Ninian and his followers were preaching the gospel among the savage Galwegians, and building their white church over the waters of the Solway; while the “family” of Columba were reclaiming the Pagans of the farthest Hebrides, and sending their Christian embassy and establishing their worship in Iceland; while Palladius and his followers were planting churches in the northern mainland and the Orcades; while Cuthbert was preaching to the shepherds of the Border mountains – others of less name along with them and following them, were spreading Christianity in every glen and bay where a congregation was to be gathered. This is not matter of inference or of speculation. It is proved beyond question by historians like Bede and biographers like Adamnan; and their narrative receives confirmation from the result of such preaching in the general conversion of the Pagan inhabitants, as well as from certain vestiges still to be traced of the individual preachers. If a notable conversion was effected; if the preacher had, or believed he had, some direct and sensible encouragement from Heaven, a chapel was the fitting memorial of the event. Wherever a hopeful congregation was assembled, a place of worship was required. When a saintly pastor died, his grateful flock dedicated a church to his memory. It was built, small perhaps and rude, of such materials as were most readily to be had. The name of the founder, the apostle of the village, attached to his church – to the fountain hallowed by his using it in his baptism – to the stone bed shaped for his penance, or the cleft in the rock which served that purpose – to some favourite haunt of his meditation or place of his preaching – to the fair of immemorial antiquity held there on his day – though forgotten by the descendants of those he baptized – often furnishes the most interesting and unsuspected corroboration of much of those church legends and traditions which, though alloyed with the fables of a simple age, do not merit the utter contempt they have met with.2
Near each church so built, however small and however remote – or conveniently neighbouring a group of churches – was established a band of religious men, followers of their founder, for the service of God there. We have again the testimony of Bede for the fact, that monasteries were founded for maintaining the new religion. “Churches were erected everywhere: the people flocked with joy to hear the word. Possessions and territories were bestowed by the grants of kings for founding monasteries. The children of the English were instructed, along with their elders, by Scotch teachers, in the study and practice of the monastic life; for they were chiefly monks who came to preach the word: and Bishop Aedan indeed himself was a monk of the island of Hii.”3
That antique shape of cenobite life was perhaps more observed in Scotland than elsewhere, since Bede points to it as a peculiar custom of the Scots; but if we reflect upon the object of the founders, and the circumstances in which they were placed, it would seem that some similar plan for continuing the rites and instruction of religion must have been adopted, wherever missionaries of a new faith found proselytes. In many instances we find lands bestowed on the new “family” or “monastery,” but doubtless in the greater number the servants of the Church lived on the voluntary offerings of their flock.
There is no more instructive record for ecclesiastical antiquities than the Inquest regarding the possessions of the church of Glasgow, taken by the good men of the country in 1116. Saint Kentigern was dead 500 years. The bishops, his successors, as well as the monasteries he had founded throughout his wide diocese, had died out in the storms of those centuries. During that period, or at least for the latter portion, it cannot be supposed that valuable possessions had been bestowed on a church so fallen. The property ascertained by the oaths of the inquest to belong to the church of Saint Kentigern, within the Scotch part of his diocese, must have consisted of donations to the first bishop and his early followers. The verdict of the inquest was not a mere idle tribute to the glory of Saint Kentigern. Possession followed upon it, and numerous and powerful parties, holders of the lands, had an interest in testing its truth. For our present purpose, it is sufficient to observe that the ancient possessions of the successors of Saint Kentigern consisted not of tithes, not of the dues of churches, but of broad lands and numerous manors, scattered over all the south of Scotland. There were churches, too, in that old rent-roll, though nothing approaching to the parochial divisions. In Peebles, the primeval See of Cumbria had “a plough of land and the church (dedicated to Saint Kentigern).” In Traquair, “a plough of land and the church.” In Merebottle, “a plough of land and the church.”4 It is scarcely to be doubted that those ploughs of land were the portions of old set apart for the service of those remote churches. A half dauach seems to have been the accustomed measure of the kirk-land, settled long before existing records, in the dioceses of Moray and Aberdeen.5
A remarkable dovetailing of real or historical evidence upon church tradition occurs in the property of Dunblane. Saint Blane, for a miraculous benefit conferred upon an English prince, received the lordships of Appleby, Troclyngham, Congere, and Malemath in England,6 and those manors remained the property of the See of Dunblane in the time of Fordun – a property it might be more easy to prove than to enjoy.7
In many cases, where the ancient monastery had disappeared before the period of our records, traces of its former possessions are found in the lands named Abthania or Abthane, so frequent in Angus and the neighbouring districts. Among the early gifts to the Abbey of Arbroath, King William granted “the church of Saint Mary of Old Munros, with the land of that church which in Scotch is called Abthen.” That Scotch word is translated in another charter terra abbacie de Munros. Malcolm Earl of Angus gave to Nicholas, son of the priest of Kerimure, the land of Abthein of Munifeith; and the Countess Maud confirming that gift, describes it as “the land lying on the south of the church of Munifeith, which the Culdees had.”8 King David I. granted to Mathew the Archdeacon of Saint Andrews, the Abbacia of Rossinclerach, in fee and heritage, to him and his heir, to beheld as freely as any Abbacy in Scotland is held.9 There can be no doubt that those were possessions of the primeval church, and one of them had passed but lately from the hands of the aboriginal holders, the Culdees.
In the centuries of intestine wars and barbarian invasions that followed the first planting of Christianity in Scotland – in those ages of anarchy and confusion which have left a mere blank on that page of our history – many of these families of religious died out; many of their churches doubtless fell without record or remembrance. But many still lived in the memory or tradition of a grateful people, and there still survived some of the religious houses – still stood a few of the old time-honoured churches of the earlier light, when the dawn of a second day rose upon Scotland.
There is every reason to believe that most of the monasteries which were found subsisting in Scotland when David I. began his Church reform, were of that primeval foundation – the institutions of the great preachers of the truth to whom Scotland owes it Christianity. Such probably were the monastery of Dunkeld, founded by Columba or his immediate followers, Dunblane, Brechin, Saint Andrews, Saint Servan’s of Lochleven, Culdee houses of high and unknown antiquity; Abernethy, with its hereditary lords; Scone, the place of coronation from time immemorial; Dunfermline, then dedicated to the Blessed Trinity and to no saint; Culross, where Saint Servan already led a monastic life when the infant Saint Kentigern and his mother were washed ashore on the white sands of its bay. In the north, Monymusk, a house of Culdees, was another of those foundations of immemorial antiquity. When the Bishopric of Aberdeen was founded in the twelfth century, part of its endowments were “the monastery of Cloveth,” and “the monastery of Murthillach, with its five churches and the lands pertaining to them”10 – all plainly the vestiges of that cenobite system which had sufficed, however imperfectly, to keep Christianity alive, before a secular clergy was provided or the parochial system thought of.
Our imperfect acquaintance with the first Christianizing of Scotland ceases with the seventh century. The four ages that follow are all darkness. the twelfth century is the renewal of light, and at the same time the era of a great revolution in society. The natives of our country were now all Christians. At least the old Pagan religion as a creed had disappeared, leaving some faint traces in popular rites and usages. Writing was coming into use, and lands began to be held by written tenures. But more important still, a new people was rapidly and steadily pouring over Scotland, apparently with the approbation of its rulers, and displacing or predominating over the native or old inhabitants. The marriage of Malcom Canmore with the Saxon Princess Margaret has been commonly stated as the cause of that immigration of Southerns. But it had begun earlier, and many concurring causes determined at that time the stream of English colonization towards the Lowlands of Scotland. The character of the movement was peculiar. It was not the bursting forth of an overcrowded population, seeking wider room. The new colonists were what we should call “of the upper classes” – of Anglian families long settled in Northumbria, and Normans of the highest blood and names. They were men of the sword, above all servile and mechanical employment. They were fit for the society of a court, and many became the chosen companions of our Princes.11 The old native people gave way before them, or took service under the strong-handed strangers. The lands those English settlers acquired, they chose to hold in feudal manner and by written gift of the Sovereign; and the little charter with the King’s subscribing cross (✛), or his seal attached, began to be considered necessary to constitute and prove their rights of property. Armed with it, and supported by the law, Norman knight and Saxon then set himself to civilize his new acquired property, settled his vil or his town,12 built himself a house of fence, distributed the lands of his manor among his own few followers and the nativi whom he found attached to the soil, either to be cultivated on his own account, or at a fixed “ferm” on the risk of the tenant.
Upon many of these manors still existed some of the old churches placed there as early as Christianity itself. On some few of them remained also the family or small convent of religious originally founded and endowed for their service. As yet, it would seem, were no tithes paid in Scotland – certainly no appropriation of ecclesiastical dues to any particular church. But through all Christendom the Church was then zealously inculcating the duty of giving tithes to the secular clergy. The new settlers in Scotland were of the progressive party, friends to civilisation and the Church. They had found churches on their manors, or if not already there, had erected them. To each of these manorial churches the lord of the manor now made a grant of the tithes of his estate – his right to do so does not seem to have been questioned; and forthwith the manor – tithed to its church – became what we now call a parish.
Take as an instance, where we see the whole causes in operation, the parish of Ednam in the Merse. King Edgar, the eldest brother of David I., bestowed upon Thor, an Englishman, the land of Ednaham (the home on the river Eden) unsettled (desertam). Thor, who was called longus, a tall man of his hands, with the King’s assistance, but with his own money, cultivated and settled that desert. it became his manor, and there he erected a church – ecclesiam a fundamentis fabricavi, says Thor, in his charter. The King and Thor together endowed the church with the customary ploughgate of land, and dedicated it to their honoured patron Saint Cuthbert. The church of Ednam next obtained the tithes and dues of the manor; and then it became an object of desire to the monks of Coldingham. The kings of Scotland of that family were in an especial manner devoted to Saint Cuthbert, and nothing was to be refused that could obtain the donor a place in the Liber Vitæ of the convent. Accordingly, Thor, for the weal of King Edgar’s soul, and the souls of Edgar’s parents and brothers and sisters, and for the redemption of his own beloved brother Lefwin, and for the weal of his own soul and body, gave to Saint Cuthbert and his monks of Coldingham the church of Ednaham and the ploughgate of land with which it was endowed by him and King Edgar.13
The formation of the parish of Melrose must have been subsequent to the removal of the Abbey from Old Melros to its present site. King David, at new founding the monastery, granted to the monks the lands of Melros, Eldune, Dernwic, Galtuneshalech, Galtuneside. King Malcolm added one stead in Cumbesley. King William, Alan the Steward, and the De Morevils gave Alewentshawis, Threpuude, Bleneslei, Milcheside, Solowlesfelde, and part or the whole of Cumbesley, Buchelm, and Witheley – which seem to include all that formed the parish at the Reformation and now. The Abbey church served as the parish church. Here there was no rector and vicar, at first no landlord and tenant; and, more remarkable still, no tithes. The monks were proprietors and cultivators, parishioner and parson.
King Alexander II. in granting to Melrose his “whole waste” of Ettrick in 1235, makes no mention of a church. The monks must have built a church after receiving the lands, and it would appear that to enjoy the parochial rights required no new charter.
Thus constituted, the parish often still farther followed the fortunes of its parent manor. When a large manor was subsequently split into several lordships, it often became desirable that each should have a separate church.
In the beginning of the twelfth century, Wice bestowed on the monks of Kelso the church of his manor of Wicestun (Wiston), with its two chapels, namely, that of the “town” of Robert brother of Lambin, and the chapel of the “town” of John stepson of Baldwin. A third chapel sprung up afterwards within the bounds of this manor of old Wice, which was situated on the land of Simon Loccard. In the next century all these chapels acquired independence and parochial rights by steps which may be easily traced, and from them have arisen the existing parishes of Roberton, Crawford John, and Symington.
In the year 1288, the Knights Templars obtained the privilege of an independent chapel for their lands in the parish of Culter on the banks of the Dee, chiefly on the ground that their people were separated from the parish church (the property of the monks of Kelso) by a great river without bridge, which they could rarely cross, and were thus deprived of the rites of the church, to the great peril of their souls.14 The chapelry soon rose into a separate parish, and in this transaction we have the origin of the parishes of Peter Culter and Mary Culter, separated by the Dee.
The parish of Glenbuchat owes its erection to a tragical incident. Its separation from its parish church of Logy Mar, by high hills and streams subject to frequent floods (prompter pericula… inundationibus aquarum infra terram inhabitabilem in monte et deserto), had long been felt a grievance. But at length, on an occasion when the people of the glen were crossing to celebrate Easter in the church of Logy, they were caught by a storm in which five or six persons perished. The bishop thereupon issued a commission for arranging the separation of Glenbuchat, and endowing a resident chaplain.
Sometimes a lord of a castle within the parish wished to have an independent chapel in his own castle or near by. William de Moravia, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, granted to the chapter of Moray the church of his manor of Artendol (Arndilly) with its tithes and dues; but reserved the tithes of two dauachs next his castle of Bucharm (namely, the dauachs of Bucharm and Athenacork, f. Auchluncart), which he assigned for the support of a chaplain in his castle.
A careful arrangement was made when Walter of Lindesei desired to have a chapel at Lamberton. Arnold the Prior of Coldingham, to whom belonged the parish church, consented that he should have mass celebrated during his life, in the chapel which he had built in his court (curia) of Lamberton; and Lindesei swore that the mother church should in nothing suffer thereby. It was provided that there should be no access to the chapel, but through the middle of his hall or chamber. The service was to be by the chaplain of the mother church whom he should deal with to celebrate there. There was to be no celebration of mass there on the five festivals of Christmas, the Purification, Pasch, Pentecost, and the feast of the dedication of the church, that the oblations might not be withdrawn from the parish church.15
Sometimes a burgh grew up in the midst of a great ancient parish, and required a separate church and cemetery and independent parochial rights. It was in this manner that the parish of Edinburgh was carved out of the heart of Saint Cuthbert’s, and Aberdeen out of the great parish of Saint Machar. In such cases, the rights of the mother church were first to be considered. By a transaction with the incumbent and the patron, sanctioned by the Ordinary, these might be acquired. But in many cases the new church was endowed separately, and the whole tithes, oblations, and dues of every sort which at first belonged to the mother church were reserved to her. In her alone was the right of baptism, of marriage, and of burial, and if the act was performed elsewhere, to her still belonged the valuable dues attending it.
The clashing rights of the chapel and the parish church were very anxiously settled in the case of the royal castle of Stirling, which was of such importance as to be decided in presence of the King, David I., his son Prince Henry, and their barons. The record bears that the King’s barons all remembered that on the day on which King Alexander had made that chapel be dedicated, he granted to it the tithes of his demesnes in the soke of Stirling whether they should increase or decrease. Moreover they considered that the parish church of Eccles ought to have all the tithes paid by the Hurdmen and Bonds and Gresmen with the other dues which they owe to the church: and that whoever died, whether of the demesne lands, or of the parish, their bodies should lie in the parish cemetery, with such things as the dead ought to have with them to the church; unless by chance any of the burghers die there suddenly… And if the demesnes shall increase by grubbing out of wood or breaking up of land not tilled before, the chapel shall have the tithes… And if the number of men of the demesne increase, the tithes of them and of all who cultivate it shall go to the chapel; and the parish church shall have their bodies. And to all these men, whether of the demesne or of the parish, the parish church shall minister all the Christian rites, on account of the dignity of sepulture – (omnes rectitudines christianitatis, propter sepulture dignitatem, faciet).16 It is remarkable that this proceeding took place in the King’s court (apud castellum puellarum), not in an ecclesiastical tribunal – the Bishop of Saint Andrews and the Abbot of Dunfermline being parties, the latter having right to the chapelry of the castle. The parish here called Eccles (ecclesia), and also known as Kirktoun, was the parish of Stirling, at that time comprehending, besides the castle, the chapelries of Dunipace and Lethbert, which were afterwards raised into independent churches.
This goodly framework of a parochial secular establishment was shipwrecked when scarcely formed. Monachism was then in the ascendant in all Europe. The militia of the Papal power, the well-disciplined bands of “regulars,” were already fighting the battle of Roman supremacy everywhere, and each succeeding year saw new orders of monks spreading over Europe, and drawing public sympathy by some new and more rigorous form of self-immolation. The passion or the policy of David I. for founding monasteries and renewing and re-endowing those that previously existed, was followed by his subjects with amazing zeal. The monastery perhaps was building on a spot endeared by the traditions of primeval sanctity. The new monks of the reformed rule of Saint Benedict or canons of Saint Augustine, pushing aside the poor lapsarian Culdees, won the veneration of the people by their zealous teaching and their asceticism. The lord of the manor had fixed on the rising abbey for his own sepulture or had buried in it his first-born. He was looking to obtain the benefit of being one day admitted as a brother to the spiritual benefits of the order. Every motive conspired to excite his munificence. Lands were heaped upon the new foundation: timber from his forest, and all materials for its buildings; rights of pasture, of fuel, of fishing, were bestowed with profusion.17 When these were exhausted, the parish church still remained. It was held by a brother, a son, or near kinsman. With the consent of the incumbent, the church and all its dues and pertinents were bestowed on the monastery and its patron saint for ever – reserving only a pittance for a poor priest to serve it by one of their own brethren. In one reign – that of William the Lion – thirty-three parish churches were bestowed upon the new monastery of Arbroath, dedicated to the latest and most fashionable High Church saint, Thomas a Becket.
The consequences of such a system were little thought of, and yet they might have been foreseen. The tithes and property which the Church had with much difficulty obtained for the support of a resident parochial clergy, were in a great measure swallowed up by the monks. The monasteries became, indeed, and continued for some ages, the centres and sources of religion and letters, the schools of civil life in a rough time, the teachers of industry and the arts of peace among men whose sloth used to be roused only by the sound of arms. But even the advantages conferred by them were of small account in contrast with the mischief of humbling the parish clergy. The little village church preserving the memory of some early teacher of the faith – with its modest parsonage, where were wont to be found the consolations of religion, refuge and help for the needy, encouragement for all in the road to heaven – was left in the hands of a stipendiary vicar, an underling of the great monastery, ground down to the lowest stipend that would support life, whose little soul was buried in his cloister, or showed its living activity only in disputing about his needful support with his masters at the abbey, while his “hungry sheep looked up and were no fed.” The Church, which ignorantly, or for its own purposes, sanctioned that misappropriation, paid in time the full penalty. When the storm came, the secular clergy were degraded and powerless; the regulars, eating the bread of the parish ministers, themselves idle or secularized, could not be defended.18
The chief sources of parochial history in Scotland are the Chartularies or Registers of the Religious houses and Bishoprics. The Record of the Bishop necessarily furnishes information regarding the property and rights of the secular churchmen, and the ecclesiastical affairs of the whole diocese. but the monks had soon acquired such a large proportion of the parish churches – their transactions with neighbours involved the interest of so many more; above all, they were so careful recorders, that the muniment book of a great abbey is generally the best guide to the parish antiquities of its district.
Of the Bishoprics of Scotland, only four have left extant Chartularies, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Moray, and Brechin, all which have now been printed. Many of the Chartularies of the religious houses are also in print,19 and though the impression of both classes was always limited, copies are to be found in all great libraries.
This great store of Church records is as yet little known. None of the Chartularies were printed when Chalmers was engaged on his Caledonia, and the imperfect copies of the MSS. which he procured often misled him. But the study of such records is still in its infancy among us, and unluckily the Scotch student of church antiquities, who has read only the writers of his own country, has much to unlearn before he can appreciate or admit the simple truth as it flows from charter and documentary evidence.
One important document which has never been used at all, occurs in many of the chartularies. This is the ancient valuation of the churches and benefices of Scotland. It is found in whole or partially in the registers of Saint Andrews, Dunfermline, Arbroath, Aberdeen, Moray; and it may be proper to give some account of the appearance of that document in these different Registers.
From the earliest time when the clergy could be considered a separate estate and with common interests, they required funds for general objects, and it was necessary to ascertain the proportion of the common burden to be borne by each. From an early period also, Rome claimed some small tax from beneficed churchmen, and the Roman legates, when suffered to enter Scotland, extorted considerable sums as “procurations.”20 On the other hand, the clergy, as a body, had often occasion to support a common cause at the Roman court, and it was not only for the expenses of their commissioners that money was required: the party pleading empty-handed at Rome was not found to be successful. In process of time, and as society advanced, and national taxes began to be levied, the clergy were not exempt.21 They were represented in the national council, and contributed their full share to the national expenses.
On all accounts, therefore, a valuation of church livings was required, and a taxatio ecclesiastica existed at least as early as any extent or valuation of lay lands.22 It was known as the antiqua taxatio, and the clergy strenuously, though not always successfully, resisted all attempts to vary it according to the progressive value of livings. One instance of this is noted by our historians. The successive Popes, Innocent III., Honorius III., and Gregory IX., were zealous in preaching the sixth Crusade, and levied forces and money over all Europe. Scotland, richer in soldiers than in gold, sent at first her share of crusaders to the Holy Land. A subsequent demand in 1221, made by the Legate Cardinal Giles de Torres, produced a considerable sum of money from the clergy and laity; and the Legate Otho was again successful in obtaining a large sum of money in 1239. The Crusade failed, and the best blood of France and of all Europe was shed in Asia in vain.
To promote the last Crusade greater exertions were made, and some of a nature which we should think not only objectionable, but little likely to be productive. In 1254, Innocent IV. granted to Henry III. of England, provided he should join the Crusade, a twentieth of the ecclesiastical revenues of Scotland during three years, and the grant was subsequently extended. In 1268, Clement IV. renewed that grant, and increased it to a tenth, but when Henry attempted to levy it, the Scotch clergy resisted and appealed to Rome. It is not probable that Henry was successful in raising much of the tenth in Scotland, though the expedition of his gallant son to the Holy Land both supported his claim and rendered the supply more necessary.
In 1275, Benemund or Baiamund de Vicci, better known among us as Bagimond,23 came from Rome to collect the tenth of ecclesiastical benefices in Scotland for the relief of the Holy Land. The English King’s grant had by this time ceased, and Baiamund was evidently collecting for the Pope. the clergy of Scotland did not so much object to the imposition as to the mode of its collection, which here, however, affected the amount. They insisted for their ancient valuation as the approved rule of apportioning all Church levies, and they even sent the collector back to Rome to endeavour to obtain this change – “to entreat the Pope,” says Fordun, “on behalf of the clergy of Scotland, that he would accept the ancient taxations of all their goods, counting seven years for six.”24 Their appeal was unsuccessful. The Pope insisted on the tenth according to the true value – verus valor – of the benefice; but he probably found the collection troublesome or unproductive, for a year afterwards, he again made a grant of the Scotch tenth to Edward I. of England. That bull is not known to be extant; but in a bull of confirmation granted in the second year of his papacy (1279), Nicholas narrates his previous grant to Edward of “the tenth of church rents and incomes in the kingdoms of England and Scotland, and in Ireland and Wales, for the relief of the Holy Land,” and declares that the same shall be paid according to the true value – versus valor.25 Not only was that tax granted, but it was actually collected, at least in part; for Mr. Raine has found in the Treasury at Durham, along with a most valuable “taxa” of the Archdeaconry of Lothian, written in the beginning of the reign of Edward I., a receipt by the Prior of Coldingham, the deputy-collector of the tax, for the sum due by the Prior of Durham in respect of his income within that archdeaconry, dated in 1292.26
The churchmen were careful of their old valuation. It is found engrossed in the chartularies both of seculars and regulars, each preserving the tax of the diocese which interested its own body; and the parts thus saved give us, beyond doubt, the state of church livings as in the beginning of the 13th century, and but little altered probably since the period which followed immediately on the great ecclesiastical revolution under David I.
The ancient taxation of the churches of the bishopric of Saint Andrews, divided into its eight deaneries of Linlithgow, Lothian, Merse, Fothrif, Fife, Gowry, Angus, and Mearns, occurs in the registers of the priory of Saint Andrews, of Arbroath, and of Dunfermline, in each in handwriting of the thirteenth century.
The ancient taxation of the small diocese of Brechin is found in the Register of the monastery of Arbroath, which had large possessions and several churches in that bishopric.
That of Aberdeen, divided into its three ancient deaneries of Mar, Buchan, and Gariauch, is in the Register of Arbroath, in a hand of the thirteenth century; and in the Register of the bishopric of Aberdeen, in writing of the fifteenth century, divided then into the five deaneries of Mar, Buchan, Boyn, Gariauch, and Aberdeen.
The taxation of the churches of the bishopric of Moray, under its four deaneries of Elgin, Inverness, Strathspey, and Strathbolgy, occurs only in the Register of the diocese, in a hand of the latter half of the thirteenth century. After the summation of the value of the churches of each deanery, there follows a calculation of the tenth payable out of it.27
It will be seen that this record gives us a foundation of parochial statistics for all the eastern side of Scotland, from the Border to the Moray Firth. The western, central, and northern districts unfortunately want that guide.28
We may regard the valuation of the Archdeaconry of Lothian, as preserved among the Prior of Coldingham’s accounts at Durham, as the oldest fragment of the taxation, according to the versus valor, inflicted on the Scotch clergy by Baiamund in 1275. The sum of the valuation of that Archdeaconry, according to the Antiques Taxatio, was £2864, a tenth of which is £286. The tenth, according to the Durham Roll, or versus valor, is £420.
The new census, professing to estimate the real value, was necessarily fluctuating. Unfortunately, we have no early copies of it, except the tax-roll of Lothian preserved at Durham. Long known and hated among us as “Bagimont’s Roll,” only one copy, a late and bad one, has been noticed by our old lawyers, and it has suffered greatly in subsequent transcription.29 In the shape which it now bears, Baiamund’s Roll can be evidence for nothing earlier than the reign of James V. It taxes collegiate churches, all late foundations, among parish churches,30 though they had no parochial district; and it omits all livings below forty marks. The rectories in the hands of religious houses are not taxed specifically, but vicarages held separately, and exceeding that value, are given. This Roll, as we now have it, may be considered as giving imperfectly the state of the church livings of Scotland in the reign of James V.
The large, though imperfect body of records which I have described, is the foundation of our statistical and local history, From them, or by their guidance, have already been compiled some large volumes of the parochial antiquities of Scotland,31 and they furnish nearly all the materials we have for the “County histories,” which are still to come in our national literature. In these chapters, I am desirous of trying whether the same materials can give us an intelligible view of the Churchmen, regular and secular – of the Cathedral organization, and the life of the Convent.