Bara / Barra Parish Church

Bara Churchyard

Summary description

Abandoned in the mid-eighteenth century, and the likely site now marked by a level area in the churchyard.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Kentigern

Although the Kentigern dedication suggests early origins, the first reference to the church dates from the late 1170s when its patron, Alexander of St Martin, grnted 5s annually from its revenues to the canons of St Andrews, but carefully reserving for himself and his heirs he right of presentation of the parson.(1)  The next reference to the church dates from 1242, when it was dedicated in 24 April by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews.(2

The patronage of Barra had passed by marriage by the early fourteenth century into the hands of the de Morham family.  Shortly before 1327, by a now lost act, Thomas de Morham granted all of his rights of patronage to the canons of Holyrood, which Bishop William Lamberton confirmed to them and annexed the church to the abbey in proprios usus.(3).  The grant of the patronage was confirmed by Pope John XXII 1327x1334 and in 1345 by Hugh Giffard, lord of Yester, grandson of Thomas de Morham.(4)

From the time of its annexation in 1327, the cure was served by one of the canons of Holyrood.  In September 1435, Patrick, abbot of Holyrood, working on premise that ‘he who serves of the altar should live of the altar’ and recognising that the fruits of the vicarage of the church of Barra were inadequate to sustain their ‘confrater’ the vicar of the same, with the full consent of chapter, added the garbal teinds of Over Barra, Linplum and Wynden, to those of the kirklands, which pertained directly to the vicarage.(5

That the vicarage was perpetual rather than pensionary is established from the records of a long process of exchange extending from 1444 to 1464 between two Holyrood canons – John Crawford and Robert Ross – which narrates how Crawford obtained the perpetual vicarage, valued at £10.(6)  In 1470, King James III petitioned the pope that no cleric, secular or regular, should be provided to various parish churches – including Barra – which were customarily held by a canon of Holyrood.(7)  At the Reformation it seems that a pensionary vicarage had been instituted at Barra, for it was recorded that the parsonage and vicarage were annexed to Holyrood and set at ferme for £13 6S 8d, while a separate vicar’ss pension paid £3 6s 8d.(8)

Record of the dedication of the church occurs only in the fifteenth century.  In 1454 in an agreement over certain lands granted by David Hay of Yester to John of Duncanlaw, John obliged himself to pay 5lbs of wax to St Kentigern i.e. (the high altar) of the parish church.(9)

Notes

1. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree in Scotia (Bannatyne Club, 1841), 333-334.

2. A O Anderson (ed), Early Sources of Scottish History, ii (London, 1922), 521 [Pontifical Offices of St Andrews].

3. Liber Cartarum Sancte Crucis (Bannatyne Club, 1840), no.90 [hereafter Holyrood Liber].

4. Holyrood Liber, no.97 and Appendix, no.15.

5. Holyrood Liber, no.114.

6. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iv, 1433-1446, eds A I Dunlop and D MacLauchlan (Glasgow, 1983), nos 189, 1059; Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), no.967 [hereafter CSSR, v]; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xii, 1458-1471, ed J Twemlow (London, 1915), 217-218 [hereafter CPL, xii].

7.CSSR, v, no.1454; CPL, xii, 735.

8. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 91-92.

9. Confirmed in 1500 by John’s son James: Calendar of Writs Preserved at Yester House 1166-1503, eds C C H Harvey and J Macleod (Scottish Record Society, 1930), nos 109, 244.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’ s Parishes: Alexander St Martin, patron of the church, granted 5 shillings from the revenues to priory of St Andrews in 1178x80. Patronage passed to de Morham who granted it to Holyrood in proprious usus by 1327, cure served by canons (see Protocol Book Robesone, 32).(1) 1327 confirmation by William Lamberton, bishop of SA of the gift to the abbey of the church of Barra by Thomas de Morham with all rights, easements and liberties pertaining to that church.(2)

c.1327x34 Confirmation of the annexation of the church by Pope John XXII.(3)

1355 Confirmation of the gift of the right of patronage to the abbey by Hugh Gifford, lord of Yester, son and heir of Euphemie Gifford, lady of Morham (daughter of above Thomas).(4)

1435 Fruits of the vicarage not deemed sufficient for sustentation of the post, stipend augmented with garbal teinds from Limplum and Wynchen along with the teinds of lands of the church.(5)

1444-64 John de Crawford (son of a priest and a nun and canon of Holyrood), obtained perpetual vicarage through exchange with Robert Ros (Ros gets Balmage, Galloway). Church value £10.(6)

1454 Lands granted by David Hay of Yester to John of Duncanelaw in return for 5 pounds of wax paid to St Kentigern (the high altar) of the parish church of Baro.(7)

1470 James III petitions for a confirmation that no secular or regulars of any order should be allowed to obtain the parishes churches of Barra, Falkirk, Tranent, St Cuthbert’s, Kinghorn Easter, Kinneil and others which are wont to be held by the canons of Holyrood.(8)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage with Holyrood, set for £13 6S 8d. Vicars pension paid £3 6s 8d.(9)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £17 15s 6 2/3d.(10)

[Garvald and Barra were united in 1702. Until 1744 the minister used both churches alternately, after that used the parish church at Garvald]

1588 (10 July) A visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Haddington finds that prior to the current minister (George Lykes) no session or communion has been held at the church for some time, and that this is the cause of discord amongst the parishioners.(11)

1588 (8 Oct) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Haddington finds the kirk to be ruinous and the minister is ordered to discuss with the parishioners as to the best means of sorting it out. Conclude that craftsmen to be brought in to repair and a tax to be taken for the repair.(12)

1592 (4 Oct) Visitation of Haddington presbytery finds that doctrine was well kept on the Sabbath in all its churches except in North Berwick in the harvest and sometimes at Baro and Bothans.(13)

1593 (3 Apr) Complaint that Daniel Chamber had failed to enter his charge at the church of Baro (he replaced George Byris who moved on, stating that he had not asked for the church).(14)

1594 (16 Jan) Parishioners of Bara compear at the church to approve the new minister George Chalmer. The clerk of the church regrets the estate of the church since the Reformation where no man has had a continuous minister.(15)

1595 (8 Oct) In a trial of the Presbytery of Haddington the Synod finds that doctrine and catechising is done every Sunday in all their kirks except for Baro and Bolton. The minister of Bolton, James Lamb, is ordered to amend this and the presbytery is ordered to visit the minister David Ogilvy, resident in Baro.(16)

1608 (19 Apr) Visitation of Barra by the Presbytery of Haddington finds the minister (David Ogilvy) to be competent. The minister complains that he wants better provision, particularly bearing in mind the greatness of his family and describes the provision of the church as ‘mean’. Parishioners agree to augment it.(17)

1628 (8 May) Visitation of Barra by the Presbytery of Haddington refers to the ruinous estate of the church which is dangerous through the negligence of its upkeep. The kirk session are ordained to get workmen and masons to value the work, the presbytery ordains that a stent be organised to pay for it.(18)

1641 (28 Apr) ‘Matter’ between the ‘pretended’ minister of Baro, Alexander Potter and the parishioners. Potter found not to be minister at the said kirk (despite preaching there for 13 years) and removed [not clear what the falling out was about]. Potter shifted to new church of Tweedsmuir.(19)

1674 (3 Sept) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Haddington, finds that the fabric of the church is faulty and that materials are provided for amending it, also that the manse is ruinous.(20)

1674 (14 Oct) Report anent the parishes of Garvald and Barra. Heritors to be spoken to anent uniting Barra with an adjacent parish as the only way of augmenting the minister’s stipend.(21)

1675 (28 Jan) Further discussion anent the union of Barra and Morham, the archbishop of St Andrews suggests that there is an urgent necessity for the union.(22) [Nothing came of it]

1702 (15 July) Act of annexation of the parishes of Baro and Garvald; stipend to be settled on one minister who is to serve both churches. The Marquis of Tweedale is the main heritor.(23)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Andrew Nisbet, 1793): ‘The church [at Garvald] is old but has been lately repaired’.(24) [no reference to Barra]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Sangster, 1835): ‘about 1744-45 the church of Bara fell into disrepair [parish worship entirely at Garvald after this point]. It is now a complete ruin.(25)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 14.

2. Holyrood Liber, no. 90.

3. Holyrood Liber, App i, no. 15.

4. Holyrood Liber, no. 97.

5. Holyrood Liber, no. 114.

6. CSSR, iv, nos. 189 & 1059, CSSR, v, no. 967, CPL, xii, 217-18.

7. Confirmed in 1500 by John’s son James, Yester Writs, nos. 109 & 244.

8. CSSR, v, no1454, CPL, xii, 735.

9. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 91-92.

10. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 28.

11. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1587-96, CH2/185/1, fol. 12v.

12. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1587-96, CH2/185/1, fol. 47v.

13. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, p. 47.

14. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, pp. 47-48 & 54.

15. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1587-96, CH2/185/1, fol. 87v.

16. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, p.96.

17. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1596-1608, CH2/185/2, fols. 316-317.

18. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1627-1639, CH2/185/4, fol.15.

19. Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, pp. 109, 112-13, 127 & 130.

20. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1662-1686, CH2/185/7, fols. 173-174.

21. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1662-1686, CH2/185/7, fol. 178.

22. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1662-1686, CH2/185/7, fol. 183.

23. NRS Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1698-1716, CH2/185/10, fols. 100-101.

24. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1793), xiii, 359.

25. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1835), ii, 95.

Bibliography

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1587-96, CH2/185/1.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1596-1608, CH2/185/2.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1627-1639, CH2/185/4.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1662-1686, CH2/185/7.

National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1698-1716, CH2/185/10.

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, 1893-, ed. W.H. Bliss, London.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1433-47, 1983, ed. A.I. Dunlop and D MacLauchlan, Glasgow.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1447-71, 1997, ed. J. Kirk, R.J. Tanner and A.I. Dunlop, Edinburgh.

Calendar of writs preserved at Yester House, 1166-1625, 1930, eds. C. Harvey and J. McLeod (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh, (Yester Writs).

Cowan, I.B., 1967, The parishes of medieval Scotland, (Scottish Record Society), Edinburgh.

Donaldson, G., 1949, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, (Scottish History Society), Edinburgh.

Kirk, J., 1995, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, (British Academy) Oxford.

Liber Cartarum Sancte Crucis, 1840, ed. C. Innes, (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, Edinburgh and London.

Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, ed. J. Sinclair, Edinburgh.

Synod Records of Lothian and Tweeddale, 1589-1596, 1640-1649, 1977, ed. J. Kirk (Stair Society), Edinburgh.

Architectural description

A church was in existence here by 1178x80, when Alexander St Martin was patron. That patronage passed through marriage to the de Morham family, who granted it to Holyrood Abbey, to which the parish was to be appropriated in 1327.(1) Bishop David de Bernham carried out one of his dedications on 24 April 1242.(2)

Following the Reformation, by 8 October 1588 the church was deemed to be in a ruinous condition,(3) and on 8 May 1628 it was said to be in a dangerous state as a result of neglect.(4)  By 14 October 1674 the heritors were asked to consider uniting Bara with an adjacent parish,(5) and eventually on 15 July 1702 there was an act of annexation with the parish of Garvald.(6)

Services continued to be held in the churches at both Bara and Garvald until about 1744-5, after which Bara was abandoned, and by the time of the New Statistical Account it was said to be a complete ruin.(7) All that now remains is a relatively level area at the centre of the old churchyard where the church may have stood.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 14.

2. Alan Orr Anderson, Early Sources of Scottish History, Edinburgh, 1922, vol. 2, p. 521.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1587-96, CH2/185/1, fol. 12v.

4. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1627-39, CH2/185/4, fol. 15.

5. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 162-86, CH2/185/7, fols 173-74.

6. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Haddington, Minutes, 1698-1716, CH2/185/10, fols 100-01.

7. New Statistical Account, 1834-45, vol. 2, p. 95.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Bara Churchyard

  • 2. Bara Churchyard, monument, 1

  • 3. Bara Churchyard, monument, 2