Developments in Roman Catholic Church in Scotland 1789-1829
From 1560 onwards Scotland was officially a Protestant nation. Catholicism came to be condemned not only on religious, but also on political, grounds. It was not until the second half of the eighteenth century that the political climate in Scotland began to become more favourable for Catholics. 1789 saw the outbreak of the French Revolution, a revolution which was to have far-reaching repercussions throughout Europe. In Britain the plight of French Catholic priests and laymen induced a new sympathy for Roman Catholics in general. In 1793 the Scottish Catholics were granted their long-awaited Relief Bill, and in 1799 the British Government promised a small annual payment to the Scottish Mission, which had lost most of its foreign property, as well as a large proportion of its funds, which had been invested in Paris, as a result of the French Revolution. The years 1789 to 1829 saw many changes take place within the Catholic Church in Scotland. Highland emigrations and Irish immigration radically changed the distribution of Catholics. The Catholic Church emerged from obscurity and proclaimed itself in new, elegant chapels complete with organs and choirs. Catholic schools were founded, often financed by Protestants, and the seminaries in Scotland gained in importance with the loss of the Scots Colleges abroad. Finally, in 1829, two events occurred which spelt the end of an era: the Catholic Emancipation Bill was passed; and the old Highland- Lowland division of The Scottish Mission was replaced by a three-way division into North, East and West. Symbolic of this eventful year was the replacement of the Highland seminary on Lismore and the Lowland seminary at Aquhorties by a single college at Blairs which was to serve' the whole of Scotland, as indeed it still does today.