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Episcopal Church of Scotland

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

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A Scottish church (see above) in communion with, but historically distinct from, the Church of England, and composed of seven dioceses: Aberdeen and Orkney; Argyll and the Isles; Brechin; Edinburgh; Glasgow and Galloway; Moray, Ross and Caithness; and St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane. All, except Edinburgh, founded by Charles I., are pre-Reformation sees. The bishops constitute the episcopal synod, the supreme court of appeal, 1 During the long period of proscription, the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland survived in scattered groups; after the Reformation it was at first under the jurisdiction of the English arch-priest, but from 1653 to 1694 it was governed by prefects apostolic and from 1694 to 1878 by vicars apostolic appointed by the pope.

whose president, elected by the members from among themselves, has the style, not the functions, of a metropolitan, being called primus: The legislature is the provincial synod, consisting of the bishops, at whose discretion it is summoned, and a lower chamber of presbyters. The canons have the authority of this synod. The representative church council, including laymen, administers finance. Each diocese has its synod of the clergy. Its dean is appointed by the bishop, and, on the voidance of the see, summons the clerical and lay electors, at the instance of the primus, to choose a bishop, who is presented to the episcopal synod for confirmation and to the primus for consecration. There are cathedrals at Perth, Inverness, Edinburgh and Cumbrae; the sees of Aberdeen, Brechin and Glasgow have no cathedrals. The Theological College was founded in 1810, incorporated with Trinity College, Glenalmond, in 1848, and reestablished at Edinburgh in 1876. There were 356 congregations, with a total membership of 124,335, and 324 working clergy in 1 9 00. No existing ministry can claim regular historic continuity with the ancient hierarchy of Scotland, but the bishops of the Episcopal Church are direct successors of the prelates consecrated to Scottish sees at the Restoration. On the refusal of the bishops. to recognize William III. (1689), the presbyterian polity was established in the kirk, the effect of which on its ecclesiastical status is a matter of theological opinion, but the Comprehension Act of 1690 allowed episcopalian incumbents, on taking the Oath of Allegiance, to retain their benefices, though excluding them from any share in the government without a further declaration of presbyterian principles. Many non-jurors also succeeded for a time in retaining the use of the parish churches. The extruded bishops were slow to organize the episcopalian remnant under a jurisdiction independent of the state, regarding the then arrangements as provisional, and looking forward to a reconstituted national kirk under a "legitimate" sovereign. A few prelates, known as college bishops, were consecrated without sees, to preserve the succession rather than to exercise a defined authority. But at length the hopelessness of the Stewart cause and the growth of congregations outside the establishment forced the bishops to dissociate canonical jurisdiction from royal prerogative and to reconstitute for themselves a territorial episcopate. The act of Queen Anne (1712), which protects the "Episcopal Communion," marks its virtual incorporation as a distinct society. But matters were still complicated by a considerable, though declining, number of episcopalian incumbents holding the parish churches. Moreover, the Jacobitism of the non-jurors provoked a state policy of repression in 1715 and 1745, and fostered the growth of new Hanoverian congregations, served by clergy episcopally ordained but amenable to no bishop, who qualified themselves under the act of 1712. This act was further modified in 1746 and 1748 to exclude clergymen ordained in Scotland. These causes reduced the Episcopalians, who included at the Revolution a large section of the people, to what is now, save in a few corners of the west and north-east of Scotland, a small minority. The official recognition of George III. on the death of Charles Edward in 1788, removed the chief bar to progress. The "qualified" congregations were gradually absorbed, though traces of this ecclesiastical solecism still linger. In 1792 the penal laws were repealed, but clerical disabilities were only finally removed in 1864. In 1784 Seabury, the first American bishop, was consecrated at Aberdeen. The Book of Common Prayer, which came into general use at the Revolution, is now the authorized service book. The Scottish Communion Office, compiled by the non-jurors in accordance with primitive models, has had a varying co-ordinate authority, and the modifications of the English liturgy adopted by the American Church were mainly determined by its influence. Among the clergy of postRevolution days the most eminent are Bishop Sage, a well-known patristic scholar; Bishop Rattray, liturgiologist; John Skinner, of Longside, author of Tullochgorum; Bishop Gleig, editor of the 3rd edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica; Dean Ramsay, author of Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character; Bishop A. P. Forbes; G. H. Forbes, liturgiologist; and Bishop Charles Wordsworth.


Carstares, State Papers; Keith, Historical Catalogue of the Scottish Bishops (Russel's edition, 1824); Lawson, History of the Scottish Episcopal Church from the Revolution to the Present Time (1843); Stephen, History of the Church of Scotland from the Reformation to the Present Time (4 vols., 1843); Lathbury, History of the Nonjurors (1845); Grub, Ecclesiastical History of Scotland (4 vols., 1861); Dowden, Annotated Scottish Communion Office (1884). (J. G. Si)

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Episcopal Church of Scotland'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica.​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​e/episcopal-church-of-scotland.html. 1910.