DESCRIPTION: The singer "left the kirk that patronage gae me" and his "simple flock" because "Tammie Chalmers, he's fairly diddled me." "But nocht can bring my bonnie glebe and stipend back again." He and his wife are grief-stricken.
EARLIEST DATE: 1914 (GreigDuncan3)
KEYWORDS: grief political religious clergy
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (1 citation):
GreigDuncan3 682, "Tammy Chalmers" (2 texts)
NOTES: GreigDuncan3: "This song is a satiric treatment of the Disruption of 1843 when, under the leadership of Dr Thomas Chalmers, approximately a third of the ministers of the Church of Scotland resigned their offices and endowments and formed the Free Church." -BS
There had been a long debate in the Church of Scotland in 1843 over whether a minister could be forced on an unwilling congregation. The idea is rather foreign to reformed doctrine, but it flows easily out of the hierarchical Anglican doctrine followed in England -- and England, of course, dominated parliament. So the official Church of Scotland policy allowed civil jurisdiction both over church courts and over congregations. (There were other differences between the groups, having to do with church policy and who ran congregations as well as with issues such as the treatment of the poor, but this is so nitpicky that even I don't want to dig into it. Both parties considered themselves the true Presbyterian church, but to be fair, both seem to have fallen within the limits of Calvinist theology.)
According to OxfordCompanionp. 295, 474 out of 1203 ministers in the Scottish church quit the official body to form the Free Church. According to Mitchison, p. 383, the ministers who withdrew were mostly the more strongly evangelical, and often leaders of new parishes, which tended to draw the more radically conservative ministers. According to MacLean, p. 204, by 1900 the Free Church (which in that year joined the "United Presbyterians" to form the "United Free Church") had more parishes than the official Church of Scotland. The two branches reunited in 1929 after Westminster abandoned its control over the Church of Scotland.
Thomas Chalmers (1780-1847) was the leader of these radical evangelicals. Prior to the split, he had worked to build up an endowment to support the various new congregations, but such an endowment could not match the government bounty given to official ministers. It sounds as if the singer in this song was swept away by the fervor of the evangelicals -- but then found that he had to survive based on nothing more than what his congregation gave him, rather than the government salary paid out of the taxes collected to support the state churches. - RBW
GreigDuncan3 has a map on p. xxxv, of "places mentioned in songs in volume 3" showing the song number as well as place name; Turriff (347,386,682) is at coordinate (h5,v7) on that map [roughly 31 miles NNW of Aberdeen] - BS
Last updated in version 2.5
- MacLean: Fitzroy Maclean, A Concise History of Scotland, Beekman House, 1970
- Mitchison: Rosalind Mitchison, A History of Scotland, second edition, Methuen, 1982
- OxfordCompanion: John Cannon, editor, The Oxford Companion to British History, Oxford, 1997
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