Kilmany Parish Church

Kilmany Church, exterior, from south

Summary description

Largely rebuilt in 1768, possibly incorporating medieval fabric.

Historical outline

Dedication: unclear(1)

A dispute between Bishop Roger de Beaumont (1198-1202) and Duncan, earl of Fife, over the patronage of the churches of Kilconquhar and Kilmany was resolved before 1202 with the earl renouncing his rights in Kilmany to the bishop.(2)  From that pint onwards it appears to have been an independent parsonage within the patronage of the bishops of St Andrews.  It was certainly still an independent church when it was recorded in the account of the papal tax-collector in Scotland in 1275, when it was assessed at a payment of 4 merks 3s 9½d.(3)

Kilmany remains effectively invisible in surviving records until 1325 when Andrew Murray is named as rector.(4)  There is no further record until 1387, when Bishop Walter Traill sought to have the church annexed to his episcopal mensa, the bishop of Brechin receiving a papal mandate to investigate the situation and act accordingly.(5)  The attempt appears to have been unsuccessful, for in 1392 the pope accepted the resignation of the church by Laurence Traill and conferred it instead on Alexander Traill.(6)  How these three members of the Traill family were related is not known.  Alexander appears to have been an absentee, with the cure being served by a perpetual vicar before 1394, when on Michael Carter appears as vicar perpetual of Kilmany.(7)  On 20 October 1402, Pope Benedict XIII issued a mandate for a hearing of a complaint brought by John Hawick, rector of Kilmany, against William Brown, rector of Hutton and three priests – including Michael Carter – whom he had accused of injuries to the fruits and income of the church of Kilmany.(8)

Hawick was still rector in 1430 when he himself became the subject of a supplication to the pope made by Thomas Archer, treasurer of Dunkeld.  According to Archer, Hawick had laid violent hands on his vicar, Henry Brown, when Brown was in his mass vestments.  For that, Archer, claimed, Hawick merited deprivation.(9)  Leaving aside the rights or wrongs of this supplication, what it reveals is that from at least the 1390s the incumbent rectors were pluralists holding more important benefices elsewhere and had vicars serving the cure on their behalf.  In 1431 Hawick, who held a canonry of Glasgow, resigned Kilmany(10), whereupon six supplicants for provision to his benefice emerged.  Litigation over both rectory and vicarage continued into the 1440s, with John Eliotson in 1445 not only successfully petitioning for provision to the perpetual vicarage but also for an increase in his portion of the revenues of the parish, noted at £9, to comprise all the lesser teinds of the church plus eight acres of glebe.(11)

In 1450, Bishop James Kennedy assigned the parsonage revenues of Kilmany to the common fund of the members of the collegiate church of St Salvator, which he was in the process of founding.(12)  The vicarage, however, was not annexed and continued to function, with George Carruber petitioning for provision in July 1468 on the death of James Mowbray ‘last possessor’.(13)  In September that year an odd supplication was made which claimed that following Mowbray’s death a certain Thomas Pyle, parson of Abbotrule in Glasgow diocese, had been presented to the church of Kilmany by the abbot and convent of Jedburgh, who are described as ‘true patrons’ of the church.  According to Pyle, although he was a fit candidate the bishop of St Andrews had refused to institute him, wherefore he now sought papal institution and provision.(14)  Pyle reiterated his claim in 1470 and became involved in litigation with a third claimant, but both eventually resigned their rights.(15)  Nothing further is heard of this case and, other than fraud, it is unknown where the suggestion that Jedburgh held any rights of provision in Kilmany originated.

The successful provisee appears to have been one Thomas Kennedy, who died in 1476, whereupon one James Doles was collated. He, however, died at the curia shortly thereafter and Andrew Young, who was a member of the household of Jerome, vicar general of Imola, was provided to the perpetual vicarage.  At that time it was described as by ancient custom in the representation of the provost of St Salvator’s.(16)  In 1484, in a long letter narrating the various previous incumbents and the issue of papal rights of presentation, Pope Innocent VIII instructed the provision and collation of Alexander Dobie and rejection of rival claims.(17)   In 1486, however, it was claimed that the perpetual vicarage has been vacant for so long that it had reverted to presentation by the pope, who collated Reginald Kenner. Kenner, however, was unsuccessful in gaining possession, for Alexander Dobie already had been assigned the church in 1484 and held it until 1503 when he resigned it in favour of royal secretary Patrick Paniter.(18)

The annexation of the parsonage to the college still pertained at the reformation but there is no reference to it in the Books of Assumption.  The vicarage, too, is unrecorded in the valuation of benefices at that time.

Notes

1. S Taylor and G Markus, The Place-Names of Fife, iv, North Fife between Eden and Tay (Donington, 2012), 445-6, 446-7.

2. I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 104.

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), 37.

4. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, ii, 1305-1342, ed W H Bliss (London, 1895), 248.

5. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon 1378-1394, ed C Burns (Scottish History Society, 1976), 132 [hereafter CPL, Clement VII].

6. CPL, Clement VII, 172.

7. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, ed W H Bliss (London, 1896), 630

8. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Benedicts XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 97.

9. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, iii, 1428-1432, eds A I Dunlop and I B Cowan (Scottish History Society, 1970), 81.  Brown’s predecessor appears to have been one John Feldew, who demitted the vicarage in 1421: Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, i, 1418-1422, eds E R Lindsay and A I Cameron (Scottish History Society, 1934), 240-241.

10. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, viii, 1427-1447, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1909), 336-7.

11. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, ix, 1431-1447, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1912), 539.

12. R G Cant, The College Church of St Salvator (Edinburgh, 1950), 54 and following.

13. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447,-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), no.1293 [hereafter CSSR, v].

14.CSSR, v, no.1300.

15.CSSR, v, no.1452.

16. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiii, 1471-1484, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1955), 55, 479.

17. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiv, 1484-1492, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1960), 131.

18. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, xv, 1484-1492, ed M J Haren (London, 1978), no. 153, Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland, xvii, part 1, 1492-1503, ed A P Fuller (Dublin, 1994), no. 937.  

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Under patronage of the bishops of St Andrews by 1202, the church was unsuccessfully annexed to the episcopal mensa in 1387. A perpetual vicarage was erected with parsonage revenues assigned to St Salvator’s College in 1450.(1)

Place Names of Fife vol. 4  notes that the place name Kilmany, which presumably contains the name of the saint to whom the church was first dedicated, is the only clue we have to its dedication, but the identity of the eponymous saint is unclear. Taylor suggests it means place of St Maine, Manna or (less likely) Mannan. All these saints feature in Irish martyrologies.(2)  Mackinlay suggests that the church may have been dedicated to St Monan.(3)

1325 Adam de Moravia, dispensed for illegitimacy, is rector of Kilmany (described as proficient in science, as a doctor of canon law and of good life and conversation).(4)

1387 Commission to examine petition by bishop of St Andrews to appropriate churches of Liston and Kilmany to episcopal mensa, reduced in value due to wars, raids and other reasons [fire in cathedral 1378].(5)

1394 Michael Carter described as perpetual vicar.

1402 Case brought by John Hawick (described as rector of Kilmany), against Andrew de Trebrim, Nicholas Slovy and Michael Carter, concerning injuries to the fruits and sums of money of the parish church.(6)

1418-21 John Feldew holds church, but resigns in 1421 on promotion to parish church of Stirling.(7)

1429-33 Controversy regarding vicar John de Hawk, accusation in 1430 by Thomas Archer that he ‘laid violent hands on Henry Broun, vicar of said church [presumably vicar portioner or curate?], on a certain Sunday about the time of high mass, when Henry was celebrating there in his vestments and priestly ornament; thus incurring the sentence of excommunication’.(8) Supplications on the death (by May 1430), or deprivation of John before that, by George Learmonth, Thomas Archer, John Wincestre (secretary of James I), Laurence de Fauside, Richard Creche (counsellor of James I) and John Forester. Litigation continues with Richard Creche recognised as rector by 1433 and Thomas de Mertoun as perpetual vicar.(9)

1436-43 James Bruce is rector. Complains in 1439 that church is unlawfully occupied by James Lyndesay (MA, received papal provision in 1438, CPL, viii, 674), Thomas Mertoun, John Elliotson and others. Following Bruce’s promotion to the bishopric of Dunkeld (1441-47), John, bishop of Brechin holds the church in conmmendum for 2 years.(10)

1440 According to Bower, Master James Bruce, rector of Kilmany, was elected to the bishopric of Dunkeld in that year.(11)

1443 Grant in commendum revoked on petition of James I; royal secretary Thomas Spens collated and immediately exchanges church with David Ogilvy (graduate of Louvain) for the archdeaconry of Moray.

1445 John Elliotson (one of those accused of unlawfully occupying church in 1439), is confirmed as portionary vicar.(12)

1468 On death of James Mowbray, petitions by George Carrubers and Thomas Pyle for church. Pyle complains that having been presented by the abbot and convent of Jedburgh, (described as ‘true patrons’), the bishop of St Andrews had refused to institute him. 1470 further suit between Pyle and William Mowat, both eventually resign. [no clear outcome].(13)

1476 James Doles collated on death of Thomas Kennedy. James dies at the curia and Andrew Young (member of the household of Jerome, vicar general of Imola) is provided to the perpetual vicarage (described as by ancient custom in the representation of the provost of St Salvator’s).(14)

1486 Perpetual vicarage has been vacant for so long that it reverts to presentation by pope; Reginald Kenner collated. Kenner unsuccessful; Alexander Dobie had been assigned church in 1484 and held it until 1503 when he resigned it in favour of royal secretary Patrick Paniter.(15)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church does not feature.

1611 (7 May) Visitation of the church finds the minister (James Thomsone) to be competent; parsonage valued at £138 and the vicarage at £14; the fabric of the church is in good repair; the last taxation for reparation of the church was used to pay Robert and David Cockburn for slating of the church.(16)

1657 (17 June) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of St Andrews during which the minister informs the presbytery that ‘the heritors are not so careful in the upkeep of the fabric of the church as they should be’.(17)

1697 (23 Feb) Note in the Presbytery of Cupar that work is required on the kirk and manse of Kilmany. Report on the 4 May that reparation of the kirk and manse amounts to 668 16s 8d Scots [no details].(18)

1767 (30 Aug) Meeting organised with the heritors to discuss the fabric of the kirk. After examining the walls and roof it was unanimously decided that Mr George Paterson, architect, should be desired to examine the whole fabric and report his opinions.(20)

1768 (24 Apr) The session noted that on the Sabbath, 20 March in the time of divine service, the congregation were alarmed by some of the ‘Baroks separating from the Couples’ of the church roof , which appearances of danger obliged them to leave the church. A subsequent meeting included a letter from Mr Paterson, architect, heritors agree a contract with Paterson for repairing the said church. Paterson recommended ‘that the roof of the said church should be taken down to carefully preserve the current slaters and lath which are both good, that a good many of the couples are sufficient and that by putting on a framed roof would preserve the timber’. Also that the south wall would require to be taken down and to replace what is insufficient in the north wall.(21)

1768 (26 July) Further meeting of session notes that a decision had been made to take down the whole building and re build it. A plan was presented by Robert Wilkie, mason (£129 16s 10d). The session agreed and noted that the mason was to be given access to all the materials of the old church.(22)

1768 (23 Oct) Notes in the session that fabric of the kirk is now finished and the work for which Mr Wilkie was contributed is now finished.(23)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Cook, 1792): ‘no ruins of any abbey, or chapel, not even the fragments of any remarkable building, give solemnity to the scenery of the parish’.(24)

‘The tithes were given to the College of St Salvator by Bishop Kennedy’.(25)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Henry Cook, 1838): ‘The church is situated upon the beautiful rising ground, upon which the village is placed… It was built in 1768’.(26)

[Neither make reference to any earlier church buildings]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches: (George Hay): 1786; renovated mid 19th century, original pulpit. Dates from 1786, new rectangular church.(27)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 104.

2. Taylor & Markus, The Place-Names of Fife. Volume Four, pp. 445-446 & 456-457.

3. Mackinley, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 493.

4. CPL, ii, 248.

5. CPL, Clem, 132.

6. CPP, 620, CPL, Ben, 97.

7. CSSR, i, 240-41, CPL, vii, 102.

8. CSSR, iii, 81.

9. CSSR, iii, 18, 81, 168, 195, 225 & 239, CSSR, iv, no. 69 & 103, CPL, viii, 336-37.

10. CSSR, iv, nos. 435 & 742.

11. Chron. Bower, viii, 299.

12. CSSR, iv, nos. 930, 1011, 1221, CPL, ix, 50.

13. CSSR, v, nos. 1293, 1297, 1300 & 1452.

14. CPL, xiii, 55 & 479.

15. CPL, xv, no. 153, CPL, xiv, p.131, CPL, xvii, no. 937.

16. Selections  from the minutes of the Synod of Fife, pp. 19-21, NRS Records of the Synod of Fife, 1610-1636, CH2/154/1, fols. 51-52

17. NRS Presbytery of St Andrews, Minutes, 1656-1687, CH2/1132/19, fols. 29-30.

18. NRS Presbytery of Cupar, Minutes, 1693-1702, CH2/82/2, fols. 252 & 260.

19. NRS Kilmany Kirk Session, 1730-1834, CH2/1546/2, fol. 270.

20. NRS Kilmany Kirk Session, 1730-1834, CH2/1546/2, fols. 273-274.

21. NRS Kilmany Kirk Session, 1730-1834, CH2/1546/2, fols. 276-277.

22. NRS Kilmany Kirk Session, 1730-1834, CH2/1546/2, fol. 281.

23. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1792), xix, 424.

24. Ibid, 428.

25. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1838), ix, 553.

26. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 75, 78, 80, 187, 190 & 257.

Bibliography

NRS Presbytery of Cupar, Minutes, 1693-1702, CH2/82/2.

NRS Kilmany Kirk Session, 1730-1834, CH2/1546/2.

NRS Presbytery of St Andrews, Minutes, 1656-1687, CH2/1132/19.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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

Scotichronicon by Walter Bower in Latin and English, 1987-99, D. E. R. Watt, Aberdeen.

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

On the combined evidence of the ‘Kil’ element of its name and the form of the mounded circular churchyard it occupies, it appears likely that the church at Kilmany occupies a site that has very long associations with Christian worship. By 1201 it was in the patronage of the earls of Fife, when agreement was reached over the resignation of that patronage in favour of the bishops of St Andrews.(1) In 1450 the parsonage was assigned to members of the newly founded college of St Salvator in St Andrews.(2)

The church as it currently stands is an approximately oriented rectangular structure of 21.4 metres from east to west by 8 metres from north to south, which is built of harled masonry. At the apex of the west gable is a rectangular bird-cage bellcote capped by a pyramidal spirelet, which houses a bell dated 1773. The only significant addition to that rectangular core is a lean-to porch against the west wall that was built in two phases.(3)

It has been suggested that some raised-and-fielded oak panelling that now lines part of the south wall to the east of the pulpit could be of the seventeenth century.(4) However, since it is recorded that improvements were made to the furnishings in 1707,(5) is it instead perhaps a possibility that the panelling has been adapted from one of the items of furnishing dating from 1707?

The building’s present external appearance dates largely from 1768. On 27 August 1767 the minister had required the heritors to inspect the fabric,(6) and a report subsequently prepared by the architect George Paterson had suggested that the roof and those parts of the walls that were insecure should be dismantled in advance of being reconstructed. The heritors ultimately decided, however, that the church ‘must be entirely taken down and rebuilt’, and the mason Robert Wilkie of Colinsburgh contracted to do that at a cost of £111.3s.10d plus £8.12s.2d for the hewn work. The furnishings represented a further cost, including £3.8s.10d for the new pulpit. The whole expense was said by a later minister to have been £150(7).

The main front, facing towards the south, has three round-arched windows at the centre, with the middle one of those having originally had the doorway to the pulpit beneath it; its keystone is dated 1768. At each end of the south front was an entrance beneath the two internal galleries, but that towards the west end has been adapted as a window since the addition of the south porch. The north wall has two widely spaced rectangular windows said to date from 1839;(8) these were presumably inserted as part of the ‘recent repairs’ referred to in the New Statistical Account,(9) perhaps suggesting that, like many smaller medieval churches, there had originally been no windows on the north side.

Internally there are galleries with raised-and fielded panelling to the fronts; the central panel to the west gallery is flanked by pilasters, suggesting that it could have framed an armorial panel. The area within the east gallery has now been enclosed. The handsome polygonal pulpit of 1768 has raised and fielded panels below a tester with a Doric entablature; attached to its side are brackets for the hour glass and baptismal basin. The church was re-seated in 1860. The diagonally boarded ceiling may be of the same date.

The elongated plan of the building was a matter of concern to the author of the parish entry in the Statistical Account, who complained: ‘it seems strange that there should have been so prevalent a partiality to a form of building, of all others least fitted for public speaking’.(10) But this elongated plan, considered together with the church’s approximate orientation, strongly suggests that it perpetuates the pre-Reformation form of the building. Bearing in mind the low costs of the 1768 rebuilding, it must also be thought possible that the walls embody some of the medieval masonry, and that George Paterson’s suggestion that only the decayed parts of the walls should be taken down was followed, despite the decision of the heritors in favour of total rebuilding.

Notes

1. National Records of Scotland, RH 6/16. The parochial history is outlined in Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland, Edinburgh, 1967, p. 104 and Simon Taylor, The Place-names of Fife, vol. 4, Donington, 2010, p. 445.

2. Indicated in the foundation charter of 27 August, 1450, see Ronald G. Cant, The College of St Salvator, Edinburgh and London, 1950, pp. 55-6.

3. For a brief description of the church see John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Fife, London. 1988, p. 262.

4. George Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, Oxford, 1957, p. 78.

5. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 9, p. 542.

6. The Kirk Session Records of Kilmany are held by the University of St Andrews Special Collections. Those relating to the works of 1768 are at CH2/1546/2. All information on the Kirk Session Records was provided by the Rev’d David Weekes.

7. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 9, p. 553.

8. Gifford, 1988, p. 262.

9. New Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. 9, p. 553.

10. Statistical Account of Scotland, vol. 19, p. 421.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Kilmany Church, exterior, from south

  • 2. Kilmany Church, exterior, central south window, dated keystone

  • 3. Kilmany Church, exterior, from north west

  • 4. Kilmany Church, interior, looking north

  • 5. Kilmany Church, interior, looking south

  • 6. Kilmany Church, interior, hour glass and baptismal basin on pulpit

  • 7. Kilmany Church, interior, looking east

  • 8. Kilmany Church, interior, looking west

  • 9. Kilmany Church, interior, pulpit

  • 10. Kilmany Church, interior, relocated wainscot