Forgan / Forgrund Parish Church

Forgan Church, exterior, from north west

Summary description

The decaying shell of a rectangular church to which a lateral north aisle has been added. It was replaced in 1841 by a new church on a different site, which has itself now been adapted as a house.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Fillan

Dedicated to St Fillan,(1) the early history of the church of Forgan or ‘Forgrund’ has been greatly complicated by confusion between it and the church of (Long)forgan in the Carse of Gowrie, which was granted to the priory of St Andrews by King David I (see Longforgan).  The result of this confusion was the creation of a fictional dispute over the patronage of the church between the priory and the Lascelles family.(2)  What appears to have been the first grant of the church of Forgan in Fife was made to the canons of St Andrews in 1199 x 1202 by Alan II de Lascelles, lord of Naughton, and his wife Amabilia, who gave the mother-church of Forgan (described as founded by him), and the chapel of Naughton with all teinds, oblations, and obventions, and also with a ploughgate of land next to the church. The charter was attested by Roger de Beaumont, bishop of St Andrews, and also Duncan de Lascelles, Henry de Lascelles, and Richard de Lascelles.(3)  It was probably not this church, but Longforgan in Gowrie, which was confirmed to the priory in proprios usus before 1202 by Bishop Roger.(4)

Around 1202 x 1204, Bishop William Malveisin confirmed the ‘mother church of Naughton’ to the priory, by which Forgan appears to have been meant.(5) Between 1209 and 1212 Bishop William instituted his clerk, Richard de Thouny, as parson of Forgan by the presentation of the priory which held the advowson.  However, a perpetual vicar named Gervase de Néauflé held the church of Forgan and chapel of Naughton with lands and teinds for an annual pension of 20 marks paid to the parson; the vicar owing episcopalia.(6) The priory does not appear to have been an altogether willing particiant in these arrangements and on Bishop William’s death the canons sought to reassert their rights. At some point between 1238 and 1240, Laurence, archdeacon of St Andrews, heard the testimony of trustworthy men that church of Naughton (i.e. Forgan) was collated by Alan II de Lascelles, patron of the church, to the priory of St Andrews and confirmed by Bishop William Malveisin. Testimony was also given that Gervase de Néauflé had wrongfully obtained the presentation of the church, but he had since renounced the parsonage and Archdeacon Laurence had properly instituted Richard de Thouny as parson.(7)

To strengthen their possession, the canons secured confirmations from the successors to Alan de Lascelles in the lordship of Naughton, Peter de la Hay and Margery de Lascelles (Alan’s daughter), again in 1266 fromMargery de Lascelles in her widowhood, and from Alexander Murray, knight, son and heir of Richard Murray, knight, and Margery de Lascelles, daughter of Alan de Lascelles Richard’s widow, dated at St Andrews in May 1268.(8)  These charters appear to have been part of a concerted effort to extend the canons’ possession of Forgan and to have their original rights in the church confirmed by the bishop of St Andrews. In 1267, Bishop Gamelin gave Forgan and its chapel of Naughton along with the ploughgate of land beside the church that had been bestowed on by Alan de Lascelles, and also with teinds, oblations, and obventions, for the maintenance of the fabric of the church of St Andrews. It was Gamelin’s express wish that Master Hugh of Stirling, the then rector, should resign his charge and give the church over completely to the use of the canons; save for episcopalibus and the establishment of vicar. In 1270, Gamelin confirmed to the priory its right of patronage of Forgan and Naughton, Master Hugh of Stirling having resigned. The canons thereafter held full rights in the church, with the cure being served by a perpetual vicar.(9)

The vicarage was recorded in the rolls of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in 1274-5, named as ‘Forgrund’ and ‘Forgrund in Fiff’, carefully distinguished from ‘Forgrund in Goueryn’, and assessed for taxation at 20s.(10)  This perpetual vicarage, however, lasted until only 1292 when Bishop William Wishart annexed it to the priory, with the cure thereafter being served by a vicar pensioner.(11)  At the Reformation, the parsonage remained with the priory, being valued at £186, while the vicarage was held by David Methven and valued at £35 6s 8d.(12)

Notes

1. S Taylor and G Markus, The Place-Names of Fife, iv, North Fife between Eden and Tay (Donington, 2010), 402-403.

2. For this ‘dispute’, see I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 68.

3. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree in Scotia (Bannatyne Club, 1841), 260 [hereafter St Andrews Liber].  The chapel of Naughtan presumably lay at the Lascelles’ caput, 7km to the west of Forgan: see Taylor and Markus, Place-names of Fife, iv, 181-4.

4. St Andrews Liber, 153.

5. St Andrews Liber, 106-107, 154-5.

6. St Andrews Liber, 107.

7. St Andrews Liber, 107-108.  Archdeacon Laurence died in 1240.

8. St Andrews Liber, xxxix (no.52), 108-110.

9. St Andrews Liber, 174, 310-311.

10. 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, 60.

11. St Andrews Liber, xxxv (no.18).

12. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 9, 14, 17, 20, 75-6.

Summary of relevant documentation

[Some problems in records differentiating the two churches whose Latin names were Forgund or Forgan – any doubts over references have been noted]

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes:  Granted to the priory of St Andrews by David I c.1150. Dispute with patron Alan de Lascalles at end of 12th century. In 1292 a perpetual vicarage was erected, with the cure served by a vicar pensionary.(1)

According to Mackinley the church was originally dedicated to St Fillan and later to St Andrew [He may be confused with the Angus parish].(2)

Place Names of Fife, vol 4 corrects Cowan, pointing out that there was in fact no dispute, and that this suggestion is based on an understandable confusion with Longforgan (in Gowrie deanery). In 1269 the church passed to St Andrews on the death of the rector, Register of the Great Seal of Scotland, ii, 1039. A dedication to St Andrew replaced that to St Fillan.(3)

Complex early history of church (suggestions below relate to PhD Thesis of G Ratcliff)

1199 x 1202 Alan II de Lascelles, lord of Naughton, with his wife Amabila, gave (dare) the church (matrix ecclesia) of Forgan (founded by him), and the chapel of Naughton with tithes, oblations, and obventions, and also with a ploughgate of land next to the church (now Kirkton Barns). The charter is attested by Roger, bishop of St Andrews, and also Duncan de Lascelles, Henry de Lascelles, and Richard de Lascelles.(4) Ian Cowan confused the churches of Forgan in Fife and Longforgan in Gowrie. The mistake is an easy one because both churches have an identical Latin place-name (i.e. Forgrund). In fact, the church of Forgan was commonly referred to as ‘in Fife’ to differentiate between the two.

1206 Pope Innocent III confirmed the church of Forgan to the priory.(5)

1200 x c. 1216 Alan de Lascelles, son of Walter, gave two acres of arable land and one acre of meadows near Cowbakie adjacent to the church of Forgan (free of service and aids) in the parish of Naughton to the priory.(6) The charter references the lands of Malcrether which were given to the priory by Malcolm IV in 1159 x 1164.(7)

1230s Richard de Lascelles, son of Harvey, gave three acres in East Friarton to the priory. The charter references the church of Forgan.(8)

Probable Collation of Bishop William(9)

1202 x 1204 William Malveisin confirmed the ‘mother church of Naughton’ (matricem ecclesiam de Athnathan) to the priory.(10) 1209 x 1212, William Malveisin, bishop of St Andrews, instituted his clerk, Richard de Thouny, as parson of the church of Forgan by the presentation of the priory of St Andrews who held the advowson. A perpetual vicar named Gervase de Néauflé held the church of Forgan and chapel of Naughton with lands and tithes for an annual pension of 20 marks paid to the parson); the vicar owing episcopalia.(11)

The death of William Malveisin seems to have prompted the priory to attempt to reassert its rights.

1238 x 1240 Laurence, archdeacon of St Andrews, heard the testimony of trustworthy men that church of Naughton (i.e. Forgan) was collated by Alan II de Lascelles, patron of the church, to the priory of St Andrews and confirmed by William Malveisin, bishop of St Andrews. Testimony was also given that Gervase de Néauflé had wrongfully obtained the presentation of the church. However, he had since renounced the parsonage and Archdeacon Laurence instituted Richard de Thouny as parson.(12)

1250s and 1260s The priory received a number of confirmations of their rights from the new secular authorities in the lordship of Naughton. In 1251 x 1260, Peter de la Haye and Margerie de Lascelles confirmed the church of Forgan and chapel of Naughton with a ploughgate of land to the cathedral priory.In 1266, Margarie de Lascelles, widow of Peter de la Haye, confirmed the mother church of Forgan with its chapel of Naughton. In 1268, Alexander of Moray confirmed the ‘mother church of Naughton, that is, Forgan in Fife with its chapel of Naughton’ with a ploughgate of land.(13)

The canons then pushed to have their original rights in the church confirmed by the bishop of St Andrews.

1267 Gamelin, bishop of St Andrews, gave the church of Forgan and chapel of Naughton with a ploughgate of land and also with tithes, oblations, and obventions to the fabric of the church of St Andrews. The bishop wishes that Master Hugh of Stirling withdraw as rector of the church and give the church over completely to the use of the canons; save for episcopalibus and the establishment of vicar.

1270 Gamelin, bishop of St Andrews, confirmed to the priory the right of patronage (ius patronatus) over the church of Forgan and the chapel of Naughton (with its ploughgate of land) obtained from Alan II de Lascelles and conceded to the priory the church in proprios usus. Master Hugh of Stirling, who had lately been living from the fruits, had resigned. The canons henceforth held full rights in the church, save the rights of the vicar.(14)

1246 Pope Innocent IV confirmed (general confirmation) that the cathedral priory held the advowson of the churches of Dairsie, Cupar, Markinch, Scoonie, Portmoak, St Cyrus, Lathrisk and Kennoway. The same confirmation omits the church of Forgan altogether .(15)

Post-1300

1382-92 James Bisset (canon of St Andrews and student at university) is perpetual vicar.(16)

1392-94 William de Balmyle (rector of Kilgour) obtains church through exchange with Bisset.(17)

1408-13 Nigel de Carruthers is vicar on death of Stephen Bigli.(18)

1413-15 Robert de Dryden (rector of Kirkpatrick, Glasgow) obtains church through exchange with John de Louden. Nicholas Hunter (chaplain of Robert, Duke of Albany) provided the same year, Louden, John Andrew, John de Mertoun and John Lumly accused of occupying the church unlawfully. Nicholas is successful and holds the church until his death in 1429.(19)

1429 Hunter dead, Laurence Pyot unsuccessfully supplicates for church. Thomas Ramsay (MA and regent in the faculty of Arts, university of St Andrews) is collated. Ramsay resigns in 1431 and Alexander de Castelcaris is provided.(20)

1509 Notarial instrument narrating that Mr Micheal Nairn, vicar of Forgan for augmentation of divine worship and of the chaplainry of the Holy Cross in the parish church of St Andrews and for special favour which he bears to the Holy Cross in which parish he was born passed to a waste land of the Abbot and convent of the monastery of Lindores lying in North Street, and there resigned in the hands of William Young bailie of St Andrews an annual rent of 7s 6d upliftable from the said waste land.(21)

1548-51 4 people (1 woman, 3 men) from the parish registered their testaments at the St Andrews Commissary court. 2 did not specify a burial location, but mentioned in 1548 the curate of the church, William Archibald and in 1551 the vicar, David Metchison.(22) David Millar and Anne Gourlaye asked to be buried in the parish church (Anne paid £3 6s 8d).(23)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parsonage with priory of St Andrews, value £36 for the produce and £186 in total. Vicarage held by David Methven, valued at £35 6s 8d.(24)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £6 13s 4d.(25)

1611 (14 Aug) A visitation of the church by the Synod of Fife finds the fabric of the kirk to be in reasonably good estate, but the kirk dykes require to be built according to the act of Parliament.(26)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Burn): ‘The church and manse were repaired in 1771’.(27)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Charles Nairn):

 ‘The church is situated in… the south east extremity of the parish…. The date of its erection is not known… Though repair was carried out in 1770. During the last year the heritors have contemplated the erection of a new church in a more central position’.(28

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1841; remains of medieval kirk.(29)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 68.

2. Mackinley, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 169.

3. Taylor & Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Four, pp. 402-403.

4. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, p. 260. The chapel of Naughton was likely located at the caput of Naughton which lay 7 km to the west of the church of Forgan see Taylor & Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Four, pp. 181-84, 402-03.

5. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 71-6.

6. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 274-5.

7. RRS, I, no. 228.

8. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 274-75. Friarton became the name for Malcrether between about 1200 and 1230.The name change appears to be connected to establishment of a grange there worked by lay brothers.

9. The canons of St Andrews clearly held the advowson for they present a clerk to the parsonage in 1209 x 1212. However, the question is how could a dare charter that conveyed tithes, oblations, and obventions be interpreted as only the advowson. It would appear that William Malveisin, bishop of St Andrews, collated his clerks to the church of Forgan and chapel of Naughton.

10. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, , pp. 106-7, 154-5

11. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, p. 107.

12. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 107-8. Archdeacon Laurence died in c. 1140.

13. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 108-110.

14. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 174 & 310-1). The fact that the bishop of St Andrews sought to and was successful in expelling the rector of the church of Forgan, Master Hugh of Stirling, seems to speak to the legitimacy of the claims of the canons of St Andrews in the church.

15. Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree, pp. 92-5.

16. CPL, Clem, 82, CPP, 575.

17. CPL, Clem, 180, CPL, Ben, 28.

18. CPL, Ben, 212-13.

19. CPL, Ben, 273-4, 283-84, 292 & 327-73, CSSR, i, 104.

20. CSSR, iii, 31 & 40, CSSR, iii, 171.

21. StAUL, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/190c.

22. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 34-35 & 368 (the latter was William Archibald, the curate).

23. NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1, fols. 41 & 42.

24. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 9, 14, 17, 20 & 75-76.

25. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 13.

26. NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fols. 65v-67r.

27. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1793), xvi, 97.

28. New Statistical Account of Scotland,  (1838), ix, 515.

29. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 56 & 257.

Bibliography

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

NRS St Andrews, Register of Testaments, 1 Aug 1549-12 Dec 1551, CC20/4/1.

StAUL, Burgh Charters and Miscellaneous Writs, B65/23/190c.

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.

Calendar of Papal letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon, 1976, ed. C. Burns, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1418-22, 1934, ed. E.R. Lindsay and A.I. Cameron, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome 1428-32, 1970, ed. A.I. Dunlop; and I.B. Cowan, (Scottish History Society) Edinburgh.

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.

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

Liber Cartarum Prioratus Sancti Andree in Scotia, 1841, ed. T. Thomson (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

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

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

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of Malcolm IV (1153-65), 1960, Edinburgh.

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

Taylor, S & Markus G., 2010, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Four. North Fife between Eden and Tay, Donington.

Architectural description

The parish of Forgan, which was also known as Naughton, was granted to St Andrews Cathedral Priory by Alan de Lascelles at a date between 1199 and 1202.(1) The medieval church is a rectangular structure of about 22 metres from east to west and 6.6 metres from north to south.(2) It is built of grey rubble from which most of the external dressings have been robbed; the central portion of the south wall has collapsed, but much of the rest stands almost to the wall head. Footings extending westwards from the north and south walls appear to indicate either that the building has been truncated at some stage, or that there were proposals to extend it.

No diagnostically significant features that might permit an estimate of the date of the building remain in evidence, though there may be features beneath the thick cladding of ivy that now envelopes much of the masonry. Excavations in 1971 indicated that the floor of the chancel area had been paved in tiles.(3)

A laterally projecting aisle, with dimensions of about 7 by 5 metres, has been added off the north side of the church, of which much of the north and east walls survive. Fragments of an elevated rectangular door, which presumably gave access to a loft, have mouldings in the form of a quirked and filleted roll. Mouldings of this kind can be found from the later fifteenth century until well into the sixteenth century. However, a post-Reformation date for the aisle is suggested by the cyma moulding to the arch and capitals of the arch that opens into the aisle from the church.

Repairs are known to have been carried out on the church on a number of occasions, including in 1771.(4) However, some years after then it appears that both the condition and location of the church were a matter of concern, and the heritors were considering providing a new church on a different site.(5) That new church was built in 1841, over a kilometre to the east, to the designs of David Bryce.(6)  The new church has itself now passed out of use for worship, and has been adapted for domestic occupation; the old church is in an increasingly parlous condition.

Notes

1. Simon Taylor, The Place-Names of Fife, Donington, vol. 4, 2010, p. 402.

2. Measured drawing have been published in J.Russell Walker, Pre-Reformation Churxh in Fife and the Lothians, Edinburgh, 1888.

3. John di Folco and Gordon S. Harris, ‘Tile Fragments from St Fillan’s Church, Forgan, Fife, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol. 104, 1971-2, pp. 252-56.

4. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-99, vol. 16, p. 97.

5. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. P, p. 515.

6. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Fife, London, 1988, p. 228.

Map

Images

Click on any thumbnail to open the image gallery and slideshow.

  • 1. Forgan Church, exterior, from north west

  • 2. Forgan Church, exterior, from north east

  • 3. Forgan Church, exterior, from south east

  • 4. Forgan Church, exterior, from south west

  • 5. Forgan Church, exterior, from west

  • 6. Forgan Church, exterior, north aisle from north west

  • 7. Forgan Church, interior, looking east

  • 8. Forgan Church, interior, looking west

  • 9. Forgan Church, exterior (before recent collapse)

  • 10. Forgan Church, interior (before recent collapse)

  • 11. Forgan Church, plan (Walker)

  • 12. Forgan New Church, 1

  • 13. Forgan New Church, 2