Ethie (Ethie and Arbroath) Parish Church

Ethie Church, east gable, exterior

Summary description

Only the east gable wall with fragments of the adjoining north and south walls survive from a small rectangular structure.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Murdoch/Murdac

Dedicated to St Murdoch/Murdac,(1) the first reference to the church of Ethie occurs in the foundation charter of Arbroath Abbey, granted to the new Tironensian monastery by its founder, King William, in 1178.(2)  Confirmations of possession followed from bishops Hugh (1178-88) and Roger (1198-1202) of St Andrews and popes Lucius III and Innocent III.(3)  The grant of the church in proprios usus was received from Bishop William Malveisin between 1202 and 1204, extending an original vaguely-worded confirmation of possession by him in the monks’ favour to full corporal possession.(4)  A vicarage settlement was instituted in 1249 by Bishop David de Bernham of St Andrews as part of a general settlement of the abbey’s provision for the vicars of its appropriated churches.  Under its terms the vicar of Ethie was assigned the whole altarage income of the church, plus an annual payment from the monks of 18 bolls of flour.(5)  Given that the cure was a vicarage perpetual, it is odd that there is no entry in respect of the church in the rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in the mid-1270s.

The church is recorded as a vicarage perpetual twice in the fifteenth century.  In October 1489 John Melmakar was provided to the perpetual vicarage by the abbot and convent.(6)  John held the cure for barely three years, Archibald Fullarton, priest, being presented to the parish church of St Murdac of Ethie on 7 December 1492.(7)  One further presentation, of a certain John Ged, was recorded in December 1534.(8)  The parsonage remained annexed to Arbroath at the Reformation with the vicarage at that time being described as pensionary.(9)

Notes

1. J M Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Non-Scriptural Dedications (Edinburgh, 1914), 498.  See also Liber S Thome de Aberbrothoc, ii (Bannatyne Club, 1856), no.335, for church of St Murdac [hereafter Arbroath Liber, ii].

2. Regesta Regum Scottorum, ii, The Acts of William I, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1971), no.197.

3. Liber S Thome de Aberbrothoc, i (Bannatyne Club, 1848), nos 145, 147, 220, 221 [hereafter Arbroath Liber, i].

4. Arbroath Liber, i, nos 151, 165.

5. Arbroath Liber, i, no.236 (p.169).

6. Arbroath Liber, ii, no.322.

7. Arbroath Liber, ii, no.335.

8. Arbroath Liber, ii, no.800.

9. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 360-361.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Granted to Arbroath by William I on the foundation of the abbey in 1178. A vicarage settlement took place in 1249, the parsonage thereafter remaining with the abbey.(1)

According to Mackinley the church was dedicated to St Murdoch.(2)

1178 Church included in the foundation charter of Arbroath as a gift by William. 1213 church in included in confirmation by William I of the possessions of Arbroath.(3)

1178-88 Church included in confirmation of by Hugh, bishop of St Andrews, of the churches held by Arbroath in the diocese of St Andrews.(4)

1182 Church included in papal bull by Lucius III confirming possessions of Arbroath.(5)

1198 Church included in a confirmation by Roger, bishop of St Andrews, of the churches held by Arbroath in the diocese of St Andrews.(6)

1200 Church included in papal bull by Innocent III confirming possessions of Arbroath.(7)

1202x04 Possession of church by Arbroath confirmed  by William, bishop of St Andrews, in two charters, the first specifically related to the church, the second including all the churches held by Arbroath in the diocese of St Andrews.(8)

1204x11 Church included in confirmation by Henry, prior of St Andrews, of all the churches held by Arbroath in the diocese of St Andrews.(9)

1213 Church in included in confirmation by William I of the possessions of Arbroath, with chapels, lands, teinds, oblations, common pasture and all other rights and pertinent.(10)

1214x18 Church included in confirmation by Alexander II of all the lands and churches belonging to Arbroath.(11)

c.1233 Church included in a confirmation by David de Bernham, bishop of St Andrews, all the churches held by Arbroath in the diocese of St Andrews.

1249 Vicarage settlement by the bishop, parsonage with abbey, perpetual vicarage set up.(12)

1489 Perpetual vicarage resigned by John Melmaker, man of the same name presented by William Scheves, archbishop of St Andrews.(13)

1492 described as dedicated to St Murdoch, John dead, Archibald Fowlerton presented.(14)

1534 James Ged presented to perpetual vicarage on death of Andrew Chatto.(15)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage and vicarage pertains to the abbey of Arbroath, no money value specified but reference to a pensionary vicar (no name).(16)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £4 8s 10 2/3d.(17)

1611 (22 Sep) Church of Athie is annexed to Inverkeilor; it has no glebe and John Carnegie is the heritor of the lands of Athie.(18)

1662 (1 April) Church along with rector and vicar teinds recorded as in the control of Patrick, earl of Panmure, inherited from his father, George (d.1661).(19)

[No references to remains of the church of the statistical account]

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, p. 63.

2. Mackinley, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 498.

3. RRS, ii, nos. 197 & 513, Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 1.

4. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 145.

5. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 220.

6. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no.147.

7. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 221.

8. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, nos. 147 & 165.

9. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 166

10. RRS, ii,  no. 513, Liber Aberbrothoc, i,  no.1

11. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 100.

12. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, nos  172 & 236.

13. Liber Aberbrothoc, ii, no. 322.

14. Liber Aberbrothoc, ii, no. 335.

15. Liber Aberbrothoc, ii, no. 800.

16. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 360-61.

17. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 11.

18. Selections  from the minutes of the Synod of Fife, pp. 42-43.

19. Registrum de Panmure, p. 337.

Bibliography

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.

Ecclesiastical Records. Selections  from the minutes of the Synod of Fife, 1611-87, 1837, ed. C. Baxter (Abbotsford Club), Edinburgh.

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

Liber S Thome de Aberbrothoc, 1848-56, ed. C. Innes and P. Chalmers, (Bannatyne Club) Edinburgh, i.

Mackinley, J.M, 1914, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Non-Scriptural Dedications, Edinburgh.

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

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of William I (1165-1214), 1971, Edinburgh.

Registrum de Panmure, 1874, ed. J. Stuart, Edinburgh.

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

Architectural description

Ethie was granted to the Tironensian abbey of Arbroath on its foundation in 1178 by William the Lion. A vicarage settlement took place in 1249.(1) On 22 September 1611 it was said to have been annexed to Inverkeillor, and was presumably then abandoned.(2)

It appears to have been an oriented rectangular structure. No more than the east gable wall stands to any height, with slight evidence of the returned walls to north and south, and that is 7.2 metres wide. But a depression in the ground, which must represent the interior of the church, terminates to the west in a linear mound, which suggests that the church was about 18.2 metres in length.

The surviving wall is of red sandstone rubble which is more carefully finished and coursed to the exterior than the interior. The absence of any window, together with the chamfered gable at the base of the gable, suggests a relatively late medieval date of construction. Three levels of square holes are presumably putlog holes. Sunk into the masonry of the southernmost of the lowest level of holes is a recess that appears likely to have been an aumbry.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 63.

2. Ecclesiastical Records, Selections from the Minutes of the Synod of Fife, ed. C. Baxter (Abbotsford Club), 1837, pp. 42-42.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Ethie Church, east gable, exterior

  • 2. Ethie Church, east gable, interior

  • 3. Ethie Church, east gable, aumbry in east wall