Kirk Session and Heritors
The Forgan Parish Kirk Session consisted of the elders presided over by the minister. It managed poor relief (until 1845), education (until 1872), and the discipline of the members of the kirk. In this last respect it acted as the lowest court in society dealing with such matters as drunkenness, swearing, failure to observe the Sabbath, adultery, antenuptial fornication and illegitimacy. It raised money through collections, through hiring out the mortcloth and from levies on the proprietors of land. All these matters, and more, are found in Forgan's minutes. One constant complaint was the breaking of the Sabbath by the boatmen and the hiring of horses for travellers. Kirk session records are valuable because they deal with all levels in society, not just the great and the good.
The Heritors were the proprietors in the parish and their contributions formed the largest source of income for the kirk session. They funded in large part the relief of the poor, the upkeep of the church, manse, burying ground and school. They were responsible for education in the parish until 1872 when the Education Scotland Act set up School Boards. They were also responsible for poor relief until the 'Act for the Amendment and better Administration of the Laws relating to the Relief of the Poor in Scotland', 1845, created the Parochial Board.
After 1845, there is much overlap of business between the Heritors and the Parochial Board. This is an area which would benefit from further examination.
There are a few earlier references to Forgan parish in the published extracts from the Presbytery Minutes of Cupar and St Andrews (1641-1698), and the Synod of Fife (1611-1687). These references are also included here. The Presbytery minutes concern witchcraft, the Synod's concern oversight of the minister and the parish.
One of my reasons for abstracting from the Kirk Session minutes was to gather the mortcloth information since there were no burial registers for Forgan parish. All the mortcloth and burial matters are recorded on the mortcloth pages.
These are not full transcripts of the Minutes. They are my own notes, taken for my own research many years ago. They are not comprehensive, indeed they are often highly selective. However, they give a flavour of the matters dealt with by the Kirk Session.
These notes cover the Kirk Session records 1695-1891 and Heritors Records 1845-1921. The notes are always listed chronologically.
- Forgan parish Kirk Session Minutes: 1695-1700 and 1717-1723 (CH2/160/1); 1703-1741 (CH2/160/2); 1767-1852 (CH2/160/3); 1852-1891 (CH2/160/5).
They can be viewed at ScotlandsPeople in the Virtual Volumes collection. The originals are held by the Special Collections Dept. of St. Andrews University Library. Reproduced by permission.
- Forgan parish Heritors Minute Book (containing some minutes of the Parochial Board) 1845-1898 (HR388/1); Minute Book 1899-1928 (HR388/2); Letter Book 1895-1920 (HR388/3).
The originals are held by the National Records of Scotland. Reproduced by permission.
- The Synod of Fife - Selections from the Minutes, MDCXI - MDCLXXXVII [1611-1687] was printed in 1837 and is available at the Internet Archive texts.
- Ecclesiastical records : selections from the minutes of the Presbyteries of St. Andrews and Cupar MDCXLI - MDCXCVIII [1641-1698] was published in 1837. It is available at the Open Library.
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