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Presbyterianism and Social Class in Mid-Nineteenth Century Glasgow: a Study of Nine Churches

  • Peter Hillis
Extract

Writing in Past and Present in 1964 Henry Pelling commented:

The influence of the churches on the working class in nineteenth century Britain is a subject which has long aroused sporadic interest among political and social historians, but which has apparently lent itself more readily to hasty generalisation than to detailed investigation for its own sake.

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1 Pelling, Henry, ‘Religion and the Nineteenth Century British Working Class’, Past & Present, 27 (1964), 128.

2 Ibid., 133.

3 See also MacLaren, A. A., ‘Presbyterianism and the working class in a mid-nineteenth century city’, Scottish Historical Review, lxvi (1967–8).

4 The ideal source for studying the social composition of a congregation would have been the communicants’ roll book, but a glance through the CH2 and CH3 catalogues listing the Church records held by the Scottish Record Office shows that few roll books have survived to this day. Those which remain in existence often lack the detailed information necessary to trace the individual in other sources. Therefore, baptismal registers were relied on and in order to ensure an accurate classification of people listed therein their names, addresses and occupations were checked against other sources including Post Office Directories, burial registers and membership rolls of the various craft institutions.

5 See Rules and Forms of Procedure of the United Presbyterian Church, Edinburgh 1880, 5; The Practice of the Free Church of Scotland, Edinburgh 1886, 1617, and A Book of Ecclesiastical Government and Discipline of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Paisley 1832, 14.

6 St Stephen's Free Church Kirk Session Minutes, 11 September 1847.

7 Ibid.

8 Ibid., 19 September 1847.

9 Paton, J. G., Missionary to the New Hebrides, London 1889, 4.

10 Ibid., 81.

11 Christian Journal, February 1841.

12 Perhaps it is not surprising that the author of this poem remained anonymous, but a copy of it appeared in a letter from someone who signed himself J. A. D. to theGlasgow Herald, 14 November 1912.

13 Drummond, A. L. and Bulloch, J., The Scottish Church, 1680–1843, Edinburgh 1973, 44.

14 Wellington Street United Presbyterian Church Missionary Society Annual Report, 1849–50.

15 Collins, William, Statistics of the Church Accommodation of Glasgow, Barony and Gorbals, Glasgow 1836, 14.

16 Royal Commission into Religious Instruction, 1836, Vol. 2, XXXII, 696.

17 Rules and Forms of Procedure of the United Presbyterian Church, 54.

18 Wellington Street United Presbyterian Church Missionary Society Annual Report, 1840–41.

19 MacLaren, A. A., Religion and Social Class, London 1974, 127–31.

20 Ibid., 130.

21 Great Hamilton Street Reformed Presbyterian Church Kirk Session Minutes, 7 February 1844.

22 Ibid., 9 February 1844.

23 Ibid., 11 March 1844.

24 Ibid., 3 March 1845.

25 Ibid., 30 june 1845.

26 St Stephen's Free Church Kirk Session Minutes, 11 October 1855.

27 Ibid., 18 October 1855.

28 Great Hamilton Street Reformed Presbyterian Church Kirk Session Minutes, 5 May 1845.

29 Ibid., 11 May 1847.

30 Ibid., 12 October 1847.

31 Greyfriars’ United Presbyterian Church Kirk Session Minutes, 17 June 1834.

32 Ibid., 4 September 1834.

33 Wellington Street United Presbyterian Church Kirk Session Minutes, 4 November 1843.

34 Ibid., 13 February 1844.

35 Wellington Street United Presbyterian Church Kirk Session Minutes, 18 November 1845.

36 MacLaren, Religion and Social Class, 131.

37 Wellington Street United Presbyterian Church Kirk Session Minutes, 5 September 1854, 23 October 1854, 14 December 1854 and 5 January 1855.

38 Govan Parish Church Kirk Session Minutes, 11 November 1855.

39 Govan Parish Church Baptismal Register, 27 November 1859.

40 St Stephen's Free Church Deacons’ Minute Book, 11 September 1843.

41 Ibid., 2 September 1844.

42 Ibid., 10 October 1844.

43 St Stephen's Free Church Kirk Session Minutes, 15 July 1850.

44 For another case of drunkenness see ibid., 20 October 1847, and 11 August 1847 for a case arising out of illegal business dealings.

45 Tholfsen, T. R., ‘The artisan and the culture of early Victorian Birmingham’, Birmingham University Historical Journal, iv (1954).

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The Journal of Ecclesiastical History
  • ISSN: 0022-0469
  • EISSN: 1469-7637
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