Monday, 24 December 2012

A 17th century Presbyterian session

Templepatrick Old Presbyterian Church - congregation founded in 1627, present building 1784
The other day I was in Antrim for an appointment and as I was early I went into Antrim Library to pass the time. 
Browsing through the local history section I came across a copy of the booklet for the Templepatrick Masonic Bazaar, which was held from 24 to 26 June 1897.  It contained something of the history of Templepatrick and my attention was taken by this extract from the minutes of the session of Templepatrick meeting-house from the middle of the 17th century:
The qlk day John Cowan, being summoned, compeered and confessed his breach of Sabbath in beating his wife on ye Lord's Day, and yerefor ye Session ordains him ye next Lord's Day to stand leigh (forgans ye pulpit, and being called by ye minister to confesse in ye face of ye congregation his offence.
The extract is interesting on two fronts, first in the use of some Scots words such as compeer (put in an appearance), leigh (low) and forgans (over against).

The second is the way in which a Presbyterian session viewed 'beating his wife'.  John Cowan's offence was not that he beat her but that he beat her on the Sabbath and thereby breached the Sabbath!

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