Fettercairn Parish Church

Fettercairn Church, exterior, 1

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1804, probably a little to the south of the medieval church. Augmented in 1838 and 1926.

Historical outline

Dedication: Holy Trinity/St Mark?

Possibly dedicated to the Holy Trinity or St Mark,(1) the church of Fettercairn has left very little imprint in the historical record.  What appears to be the earliest surviving reference to the church dates from 1263, when Adam, clerk of the Provend for King Alexander III, received dispensation to hold Fettercairn in commendam with the church of Lamington in Glasgow diocese.(2)  That it was a free parsonage through the thirteenth century is confirmed by the entry for the church of ‘Fecherkern’ in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in 1274-5, when it was assessed for taxation at 33s 4d.(3)  Rectors of the church are recorded through the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.(4)

In 1473, Pope Sixtus IV united the church of Fettercairn in perpetuity to the archiepiscopal mensa of St Andrews.(5)  The union, if ever properly effective, lasted little over a decade, for in 1484 two men received separate papal provision to the parsonage, their letters specifically stating that the union of the church with the archbishop’s mensa was void.(6)  Archbishop William Scheves was unwilling simply to yield up his interest in the church and in 1489 entered into litigation with the incumbent rector, David Seton, over possession.(7)  No outcome of this dispute is recorded but the rectory in recorded in the hands of members of the local Strachan family from 1522 onwards, suggesting that Scheves had failed to make good his case.(8)  At the Reformation the church was held by Mr James Strachan, the parsonage at that date, with the vicarage, being valued at 480 merks, which makes the archbishop’s eagerness to gain control of it understandable.  Reference is made to a vicar pensioner (un-named) who probably discharged parochial duties for Strachan, for which he received a stipend of £10 yearly plus the teinds of wool, lambs, cheese and pasche fines, but it was noted that ‘he’s gotten nay payment thairof these past 4 years’.(9)

Notes

1. J M Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Scriptural Dedications (Edinburgh, 1910), 24.

2. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, i, 1198-1304, ed W H Bliss (London, 1893), 389.  

3. A I Dunlop (ed), ‘Bagimond’s Roll: Statement of the Tenths of the Kingdom of Scotland’, Miscellany of the Scottish History Society, vi (1939), 39, 62.

4. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, ed W H Bliss (London, 1896), 322, 561; Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon 1375-1394, ed C Burns (Scottish History Society, 1976), 77; Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 68; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, iv, 1362-1404, eds W H Bliss and J A Twemlow (London, 1902), 64; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, viii, 1427-1447, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1909), 159-60, 589-90.

5. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiii, 1471-1484, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1955), 17.

6. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiv, 1484-1492, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1960), 73, 209.

7. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xv, 1484-1492, ed M J Haren (London, 1978), no.365.

8. Protocol Book of John Foular, 1514-28, ed M Wood (Scottish Record Society, 1944), no.iii, 264, 395; St Andrews Formulare, 1514-46, eds G Donaldson and C Macrae (Stair Society, 1944), 147-8.

9. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 407.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: United to the archiepiscopal mensa of St Andrews in 1473, the annexation had been revoked by 1484-85. The church resumed its status as an independent parsonage, patronage with Archbishop of St Andrews.(1)

Mackinlay challenges the dedication of the church to the Holy Trinity and suggests that ‘there is reason to believe that the church was….dedicated to St Mark’.(2)

1263 Adam de Prebend (Clerk of Alexander III) dispensed to hold Fettercairn in commendum whilst rector of church in Glasgow diocese.(3)

1358 Rector is Simon Blake.(4)

1366 John Stalpy (MA and Student of Canon Law, also holds canon and prebend of Brechin and Dunkeld), collated as rector of church (value £25 marks), void by resignation of Papal collector Bertrand Carretti). Stalpy (Scalpy in Papal Petitions) is described as student at University of Paris.(5)

1396 Scalpy dies at curia; Walter Danielson (of noble birth and student at University of Avignon) is provided to church, value £35 marks, followed by Henry de Guthrie in 1401 after Danielson fails to get ordained.(6)

1430 and 1436 David Ogilvy (MA) rector, as well as canon of Aberdeen and Glasgow.(7)

1473 Appropriation in perpetuity to archiepiscopal mensa of St Andrews.(8) Revoked in 1484, first Walter Drummond and then David Seton (MA) are collated to the church; letters mention union with St Andrews is now void.(9)

1489 Dispute between Archbishop William Scheves of St Andrews and rector David Seton regarding the church (no result recorded).(10)

1523 Gilbert Stratauchin described as rector of church.(11)

1522-39 James Strauchan rector of the church and a chapel of St Martin located ‘in the parish’.(12)

1556 (12 March) Walter Ross made procurator for lands pertaining to James Strathachine, parson of Fettercairn, which lie in Guthrie.(13)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The parson of the Parish church is James Straquhyne; parsonage value 480 marks. As vicar pensioner his fee is £10; he also gets teinds of wool, lambs, cheese and pasche fines - ‘he’s gotten nay payment thairof these past 4 years’.(14)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of parsonage and vicarage £110.(15)

1571 (15 Jan) The Minister is nominated to be one of the 21 members of the chapter of the Archbishop of St Andrews.(16)

1611 (24 April) Visitation of the church following its planting with William Wishart as minister describes the value at £220 parsonage and £40 vicarage (no refs to condition of the church).(17) The Church was found to be lacking slates in one part of the roof, for repair the materials are in readiness. The heritors are ordered to proceed with the repair and the kirk dykes are to be built according to the act of parliament.(18)

1614 (16 Apr) A further visitation of the church finds the pulpit to be faulty and also the roof of the kirk in need of reparation, taxation for the repairs to be lifted from the parishioners.(19)

1682 (23 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Fordoun finds the minister (Hercules Skinner) to have a stipend of 500 marks. Asked concerning the fabric of the church he answered that for the time it was in good care, in future the fabric is to be maintained by the heritors.(20)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Robert Foote, 1791): ‘Manse rebuilt in 1774. The church is a very old house, too narrow for its length’.(21)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Alexander Whyte, 1837): ‘New Parish church built in 1804. (in the north east extremity of the parish) Manse built in 1774 and enlarged in 1821 (no mention of old church or relation of its site to new one).(22)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 65.

2. Mackinlay, Scriptural Dedications, p. 24.

3. CPL, i, 389

4. CPP, 322.

5. CPL, iv, 64, CPP, 561.

6. CPL, Ben, 68, 92-93 & 392.

7. CPL, viii, 159-60 & 589-60.

8. CPL, xiii, 17.

9. CPL, xiv, 73, 209.

10. CPL, xv, no.365.

11. Prot Bk of John Foular, 1514-28, nos. iii, 264 & 395.

12. St Andrews Formulare, ii, 147-48.

13. DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558, fol. 38r.

14. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 407.

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

16. Acts and Proceedings of the General Assemblies of the Kirk of Scotland, i, 222-23.

17. Selections  from the minutes of the Synod of Fife, pp. 18-19.

18. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fols. 48-49.

19. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fols. 168-169.

20. NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Records of Visitations, 1677-1688, CH2/157/13, fols. 45-48.

21. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), v, 332.

22. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1837), xi, 124.

Bibliography

DDARC Dundee Burgh and Head Court Books, 1555-1558.

NRS Presbytery of Fordoun, Records of Visitations, 1677-1688, CH2/157/13.

NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1.

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

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

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon, 1976, ed. F. McGurk, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

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

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

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

Hay, G., 1957, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, 1560-1843, Oxford.

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

Mackinlay, J.M, 1910, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland. Scriptural Dedications, Edinburgh.

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

Protocol Book of John Foular, 1514-28, 1944, ed. M. Wood (Scottish record Society), Edinburgh.

St Andrews Formulare, 1514-46, 1942-44, eds. G. Donaldson & C. Macrae (Stair Society), Edinburgh, i.

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

Architectural description

The parish of Fettercairn was in existence for an unknown length of time before it was united with the mensa of the bishops of St Andrews in 1473. That annexation was revoked eleven years later, after which the church continued as a parsonage in the patronage of the archbishops.(1)

By the early seventeenth century the building seems to have been suffering from a degree of neglect. One part of the roof had defective slating in 1611, though the materials needed for repair were to hand,(2) but repairs were still deemed necessary three years later.(3)

The description of the church as it existed at the end of the eighteenth century in the Statistical Account sounds as if it was still essentially the medieval structure, since it was described as ‘a very old house, too narrow for its length, as most of these old kirks are’.(4) It was thus presumably a rectangular structure, and it is said to have stood immediately to the south of its successor.(5) There is a tradition that the grave of the Rev’d Robert Foote, who was minister between 1773 and 1809, is on the site of its pulpit.(6)

That successor, which was built in 1804,(7) and was initially a rather austere structure set out on a T-shaped plan, probably reutilised some of the masonry of the medieval church, since a number of worked stones are to be seen in its walls. In 1838 it was augmented by a western vestibule, from the central axis of which a slender tower and spire emerge, which was designed by John Henderson.(8) It was further augmented in 1926, when a broad chancel that was separated internally from the body of the church by a triplet of arches was added to the designs of G.P.K. Young, at the opposite end of the church from tower.(9) A vestry has since been added to one side of the chancel.

Notes

1. The situation is summarised in Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland, Scottish record Society, 1967, p. 65.

2. National Records of Scotland, Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-36, CH2/154/1, fols 49r-v.

3. National Records of Scotland, Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-36, CH2/154/1, fols 169r-v.

4. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 5, p. 332.

5. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, the Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Scotland, no 15, South Kincardine, 1982, p. 28.

6. Scottish Church Heritage Research website.

7. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 11, p. 124.

8. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland website.

9. Jane Geddes, Deeside and the Mearns, an Illustrated Architectural Guide, Edinburgh, 2001, p. 48.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Fettercairn Church, exterior, 1

  • 2. Fettercairn Church, exterior, 2

  • 3. Fettercairn Church, exterior, 3

  • 4. Fettercairn Church, exterior, 4

  • 5. Fettercairn Church, exterior, re-used masonry

  • 6. Fettercairn Church, churchyard monument, 1

  • 7. Fettercairn Church, churchyard monument, 2