Faith, families and factions : the Scottish Reformation in Angus and the Mearns
Bardgett, Frank Denton
It is increasingly recognised that the Scottish Reformation was a diverse movement. Different regions of the country displayed a considerable variety of responses to protestantism. The gentlemen of Angus and the Mearns were credited by John Knox with playing a leading role in the Reformation crisis of 1559-60; and their shires, situated on Scotland's east coast, had been exposed to infiltration by protestant doctrines and literature from an early period. This thesis examines the origins of the Reformation in Angus and the Mearns from c.1530; and traces the implementation of reformed ideals from 1560 to c.1585. Initial research concentrated on establishing the names, life-spans and successions of the significant lairds and magnates, and also for both pre- and post-Reformation clergy from c.1530 to 1590. The factual material thus discovered is presented as appendices by which it is possible to trace the personal careers of individuals, the disposition of specific benefices, and the service and administration of parishes by reformed clergy. The apparent paradox of a pre-1560 protestant heartland becoming by the 1580s part of "Scotland's conservative north" is examined and found to be linked with the leading role of lairds in establishing and maintaining the new church. Throughout the thesis a particular focus of interest is the interrelationship between personal faith and practical politics in a largely kin-based society. Emphasis is placed on the element of choice available to lairds of Angus and the Mearns in determining the value of the competing claims- whether spiritual, personal or political - upon their loyalty. By examining the impact of ecclesiastical developments on the local factions of the shires, it is concluded that a distinction must be drawn between the enthusiastic protestantism of that circle of Mearns' lairds involved with John Erskine of Dun, and the less spiritually-committed acceptance of the Reform in mid- and southern Angus. In thus attempting an integrated political and religious study, the general conceptual framework developed by sociologists of religion has been born in mind; interaction of culture and doctrine is, where possible, demonstrated. It is demonstrated that, at a parochial level, the new kirk harmonised with the wider Scottish culture - and, indeed, was integrative of its host society. Particular attention has been paid to various private family muniments relating to the area. Much use was made of the Crawford papers at the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, by which an important division separating the Lindsays of Edzell from the Lindsay earls of Crawford has been established. Other important sources have been the few surviving literary works, examined for evidence of their underlying theological affinities, and the national Register of assignation and modification of stipends by which the careers of ministers and readers are traced.