Holy Trinity Scottish Episcopal Church, Stirling

Printed Paintings

The following two prints, celebrating incidents in the history of the Scottish Episcopal Church, hang in the porch:

Baptism from Stonehaven Jail

An incident in the persecution of the Scottish Episcopal Church in 1746 

Baptism from Stonehaven JailPainting by George Washington Brownlow, produced as a print by McLagan & Cumming Ltd, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In the period after the failed Jacobite rising of 1745-46 (see A Church for Scotland and 'The Suffering Century'), many Episcopal clergymen still refused to take an oath of allegiance to king George II and the Hanoverian Succession. Called 'non-jurors', they continued to pray only for the titular Stewart kings James VIII and Charles III. As a result, the Episcopal Church laboured under penal laws of various kinds until 1795. 

Brownlow's painting, Baptism from Stonehaven Jail, recalls an incident from the winter of 1748-49, not 1746 as stated incorrectly on the print caption.

In 1746, the Episcopal chapels at Muchalls and Portlethan were destroyed on the orders of the Duke of Cumberland. The incumbent, Rev. John Troup, thereafter held services in private houses and in the open air at secluded places. One Saturday night, he sent word round the villages of Skateraw (now Newtonhill) and Seatoun of Muchalls that he would, on the following morning, conduct a service a a place called Goudie, a large rock situated a little to the north of Seatoun of Muchalls. The next day, the congregation gathered there, the Skateraw people coming in their boats. The service had scarcely begun when the watchman, whom Rev. Troup had posted, warned of soldiers approaching. Clearly, someone had informed the authorities. The Seatoun villagers scattered and the Skateraw people went home in their boats. Rev. Troup escaped on that occasion, but it was clear that a congregation meeting in the open could no longer escape detection.

A drystone chapel was built in a field above Muchalls Castle about 1748. A meeting place in the grounds of a friendly estate would perhaps be less open to prying eyes. However, during the winter of 1748-49, Rev. Troup, along with Rev. Alexander Greig of Stonehaven and Rev. John Petrie of Drumlithie, was imprisoned in Stonehaven Tolbooth for conducting services that were contrary to the penal law forbidding Episcopalian worship with more than four people present. Even though they were jailed, the three men still ministered to their flocks and the fisherfolk from Skateraw, Seatoun and other villages brought their infants to be baptised through the bars of the jail window. Brownlow has captured this scene in the painting, the original of which is in the care of the Bishop of Brechin, Rt Rev. John Mantle.

In the painting, Rev. Troup can be seen at the jail window baptising a child being held aloft by its parents. Brownlow used members of two closely-related families from Skateraw, the Christies and Massons, as models. These models are believed to have been as follows (left to right). The boy with the broad bonnet is William Masson. The little girl in front of him is Jane Christie. The figure in the background to her right cannot be identified. The woman picking up the newly baptised child is either Isabella Masson or her sister, Elizabeth Masson. The girl with the tartan headscarf is Ann Christie, to whom Brownlow gifted the scarf. The girl alongside her cannot be identified. Holding the basket containing the child are Isobel Masson (1842-1865) and her father, Robert Masson (1794-1874). Playing the role of Rev. Troup is a Rev. Skinner, who was on holiday from Essex. Behind Robert Masson, holding a Bible or prayer book, stands Andrew Christie (1832-1880). The woman in the mutch and red shawl is Robert Masson's second wife, Isobel (c.1811-1893) and the woman to her right can be identified only as 'Cowie Kirsty'.

The above information has kindly been provided by George Masson and Bob Matthewson of the Church of St Ternan, Muchalls.

Copies of the painting can be obtained from George Masson at a cost of £7.50 for A4, £10.00 for A3 or £50.00 for A1, plus postage in all cases. For more details, contact George Masson on 01224 733583 or e-mail george.masson@lineone.net.   

The Consecration of Bishop Seabury,

November 14, 1784

The first bishop of the Episcopal Church of America received consecration at the hands of three Scottish bishops, the English bishops being debarred from consecrating him.

Consecration of Samuel Seabury

Painting by Peter J. Morgan, produced as a print by McLagan & Cumming Ltd, Edinburgh and Glasgow and distributed by Society for Propagating Christian Knowledge, Northumberland Avenue, London. 

On 25 March 1783, at a house in Woodbury, Conncticut, Rev. Dr Samuel Seabury was elected Bishop of Connecticut. There were, however, some practical difficulties. Connecticut, alomg with the twelve other erstwhile American colonies, still at war with Great Britain, although no major action had taken place since the fall of Yorktown in October 1781.

Bishops were consecrated by Apostolic Succession - the laying on of hands by three consecrated bishops. This was because the hands of Jesus Christ had touched Peter, who had laid his hands on other church leaders, later called bishops, who had then, through the centuries, laid hands on those they ordained and consecrated. Therefore, there was an unbroken line of hand laying from the days of the Apostles, indeed from the hands of Jesus himself. As there were no bishops in America, no-one there could lay hands on Seabury to continue the Apostolic Succession.

Seabury therefore set off for London, where he arrived on 7 July 1783. He then spent eighteen months making fruitless requests to English bishops, each of which met with a rebuttal. There was one continual stumbling block: despite having been an American loyalist, Seabury could not take an oath to George III on the grounds that the king no longer enjoyed the allegiance of most of the church's members in America.

Seabury had hoped that the situation would ease when, on 3 September 1783, repesentatves of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the newly-created United States of America signed the Treaty of Paris, by which the USA became independent of the British crown. When this produced no improvement in his situation, he consoled himself by the fact that the treaty had still to be ratified by both governing legislatures. These formalities were completed on 12 May 1784, but still Seabury was no further forward. Twelve days later, he wrote in a letter: “I shall be at my wits end. . . This is certainly the worst country to do business in” (Rowthorn, 1983:49).

However, Seabury still had one option left. He had qualified as a doctor at the medical school of the University of Edinburgh and had friends in Scotland. The Scottish Episcopal Church had properly-ordained bishops, but was independent of the crown and of the Church of England. Most importantly, the church did not give its allegiance to George III. So it came to be that, on 14 November 1784 in Aberdeen, Dr Samuel Seabury was consecrated as first bishop of Connecticut and the first bishop in an independent America.

The print shows the laying on of hands by Rev. Robert Kilgour, Bishop of Aberdeen and Primus, Rev. John Skinner, Coadjutor of Aberdeen and Rev. Arthur Petrie, Bishop of Ross & Moray.

The consecration of Bishop Seabury affirmed that the Gospel of Jesus Christ cannot be restricted by laws and ordinances of Government and it witnessed the birth of the Anglican Communion, moving Episcopcy from the exclusive preserve of the Church of England into a more universal and diverse communion, ultimately becoming the worldwide family of churches we know today.

The path was not smooth, however. In the USA there was not universal support for what was seen by some as the 'unorthodox' consecration of Seabury and when two other priests, Rev. William White and Rev. Samuel Provoost became bishops in 1787 – this time consecrated in England by English bishops - there emerged real disagreement among the church over the validity of Seabury’s consecration. Also, a new prayer book was being prepared and forms of church government being determined, all of which led to much disagreement. At one point it seemed bleak. The historian Anne Rowthorn describes the situation as it was in 1787 in the following terms: “Samuel Seabury was caught on the horns of a dilemma. Any compromise on matters of church government and liturgy would open the way to the establishment of a mongrel type of church – Episcopal in orders, Presbyterian in government. Refusal to compromise would surely lead to schism. It was the thorniest problem Seabury had ever encountered and one for which there was no obvious solution.”  (Rowthorn, 1983:76)

The years that followed were fraught – and insults flew from both sides. Yet by 1789 a consensus on liturgy and church government had been reached by General Convocation, and in 1792 the consecration of a bishop in the USA took place involving Seabury, White and Provoost – so ensuring the recognition of both Episcopal lines – Scottish and English – and the strife of a divided Episcopal Church was over.

As Rowthorn says, “Considering the odds – the threats of schism along the way, the theological struggles, the diverse personalities and the instability of the post-revolutionary church – unification was nothing short of a miracle. The American Episcopal Church was finally complete in all its orders and functions and was now able to expand itself.” (Rowthorn, 1983:110)

Back in Scotland changes were also happening. 'Bonnie Prince Charlie', the Jacobite Pretender to the throne whose cause many  Episcopalians had followed, died in 1788, and with that any forlorn hope of a return by the Stuart line to the throne of Britain was gone. The Scottish bishops indicated to their congregations that they should now pray for George III – not without some protest. “Well do I remember”, wrote an eye-witness, “the day on which the name of George was mentioned in the morning service for the first time: such blowing of noses, such significant hums, such half-suppressed sighs, such smothered groans and universal confusion can hardly be conceived. It was “the end of an auld sang”; and it trembled off in tears.”

A few years later, in 1804 at the Synod of Laurencekirk, the divisions of the 18th century were put to rest and the modern Scottish Episcopal Church formed – a church that now faced a future which was to see expansion and growth throughout Scotland.

Reference: Rowthorn, A. W. (1983), Samuel Seabury, A Bicentennial Biography, New York: Seabury Press. 

The following print is not on public view, but can be seen by arrangement with the Rector:

St Catherine Finding the Body of St Agnes

From the fresco attributed to Pacchiarotto in the oratory of St Catherine at Siena. Signor Frattorini, chromolithographed by Storch & Kramer, under the direction of Profes [caption ends]. Arundel Society, Second Publication 1881.

St Agnes of Montepulciano was born in the neighbourhood of Montepulciano, Tuscany around 1268 and died there in 1317. At the age of nine, she entered a nunnery. Four years later she received dispensation from Pope Nicholas IV to assist in the foundation of a new house of nuns at Proceno and became its prioress at the age of fifteen. In 1298, at the request of the citizens of her native town, she established a convent of Dominican nuns at Montepulciano which she governed until the time of her death. However, her body, which did not decay, was visited by pilgrims including St Catherine of Siena (1347-1380), a fellow Dominican who became revered as a great Christian writer. Through the quality of her writings, many of which survive, and her membership of the Dominican Order, she became not only Siena's principal saint, but also a figure of international importance who, it was popularly believed, was decisive in bringing about the return of the papacy to Rome under Urban VI, an event which precipitated the 'Great Schism' of 1378-1417.