Kinnell Parish Church

Kinnell Church, exterior, from north west

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1855; no longer in ecclesiastical use and in decaying state.

Historical outline

Dedication: (doubtful) St Maelrubha(1)

Early references to the church of Kinnell are wholly lacking.  It appears to occur first in a surviving source in the 1270s, when as the church of Kynel it was recorded paired with the church of Auldbar in the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland at a combined tax assessment of 3 merks 10s 8d.(2)  It then disappears from the surviving record until 1332 when John de Leys, canon of Dunkeld, supplicated for and received from Pope John XXII provision to the rectory of Kinnell, which he was dispensed to hold in conjunction with the church of Abernyte in Dunkeld diocese.(3)  Further rectors are recorded through the fourteenth century, with John Scherar, priest of St Andrews diocese, being collated in November 1378 in succession to William Ramsay, who had transferred to the wealthier parish of Tannadice, but in 1381 Alexander Guthrie, a chaplain of King Robert II, was also provided to the church.(4)

The first half of the fifteenth century saw the same pattern of possession in conjunction with another benefice or disputed provisions continue.  In 1403, for example, the then rector James Lindsay received dispensation to hold Kinnell jointly with the church of Inchbrayock.(5)  A long dispute over the church began in 1418 and lasted down to 1420. It commenced with Thomas Lyel (also called ‘of Penicuik’) holding Kinnell in conjunction with a prebend of Ross and the church of Kirriemuir in St Andrews diocese.(6)  In 1419, however, while Thomas was still in nominal possession, John Gil was collated.  This resulted in a suit at the curia between the men, which was further complicated by the entry of one George Newton into the proceedings after Thomas exchanged Kinnell with George for Kemback in Fife.  John, however, prevailed and was given unchallenged possession by late 1419.(7)

On 29 March 1463, the pope reserved the parsonage of Kinnell, noted as being valued at £30 annually, which was expected soon to be vacant on the resignation of Robert Graham, for collation to Richard Wyllie, priest of Brechin diocese.(8)  Richard held the church until 1467, when he received the abbacy of Kelso, whereupon he was succeeded by John Spalding, confessor of King James III and master of the chapel royal.(9)  Against this background, however, it appears that the parsonage of Kinnell, along with the vicarage of Cranstoun, had been annexed to provide a prebend in the collegiate church of St Salvator in St Andrews.  The prebend is first noted in 1464 but it was said that before that date – possibly since the foundation of the college in 1450 – the combined revenues had formed a benefice known as ‘Chalmoures Chaplainry’, upon which two chaplains in the college chapel had been sustained.(10)  It is questionable that the union was ever made effective at this time.

In 1473 Pope Sixtus IV attempted to annexe the church to the archiepiscopal mensa of St Andrews, but in 1474 there is record of the rehabilitation of a certain Duncan Baillie, rector of Kinnell, for some undefined misdemeanour.(11)  A reappropriation was effected by the archbishop in 1487, but the attempt was again unsuccessful and was formally dissolved in 1495.(12)  This was followed in 1510 be a re-erection of the parsonage and vicarage of Kinnell into a prebend in St Salvator’s, distinct from the earlier attempted annexation in conjunction with Cranstoun, which had continued to provide the basis of a prebend since the mid-fifteenth century.(13)  This union proved to be effective and was still operative at the Reformation, when the parsonage was held by Patrick Liddell, valued at £32.  The cure was evidently a vicarage pensionary, held by Charles Fullerton and valued at £12 annually.(14)

Against this long fifteenth-century struggle for control of the revenues of the parish the church and the services performed there is utterly invisible.  It is only in June 1509 that evidence for devotional activity is recorded in a charter that received royal confirmation at mortmain under the Great Seal on on 12 March 1512/13.  By this grant Master George Stirling of Easter Braikie, and his brother Patrick Stirling, with the consent of James lord Ogilvy of Airlie, and David Stirling, George’s son and heir, granted £10 of annual rents from Easter Braikie to support a chaplain celebrating in perpetuity at the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the parish church.  The act itself was dated at the church of Kinnell, 2 June 1509.(15)  Although an isolated example, it reveals one of the leading local landowning families supporting divine worship at the church and making provision for their own spiritual welfare in the form of a chantry establishment at a subsidiary altar in their parish church.  There is no further record of this benefice.

Notes

1. J M Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland: Non-Scriptural Dedications (Edinburgh, 1914), 176.  Mackinlay says that ‘in all probability’ the dedication was to Maelrubha but the authority for that statement is unknown.

2. 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.

3. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 230 [hereafter CPL, Benedict XIII]: this is a letter of John XXII inserted into an early fifteenth-century sequence of letters from Benedict XIII.

4. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Clement VII of Avignon 1378-1394, ed C Burns (Scottish History Society, 1976), 19, 24, 54; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Petitions to the Pope, ed W H Bliss (London, 1896), 557.

5.. CPL, Benedict XIII, 105.

6. CPL, Benedict XIII, 372.

7. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, i, 1418-1422, eds E R Lindsay and A I Cameron (Scottish History Society, 1934), 27, 63, 98, 217.

8. Calendar of Scottish Supplications to Rome, v, 1447-1471, eds J Kirk, R J Tanner and A I Dunlop (Glasgow, 1997), no.493 [hereafter CSSR, v].

9. CSSR, v, nos 943, 1467.

10. I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 114; A I Cameron (ed), The Apostolic Camera and Scottish Benefices, 1418-88 (Oxford, 1934), 173.

11. Vetera Monumenta Hibernorum et Scotorum Historiam Illustrantia, ed A Theiner (Rome, 1864), no.dcccliv; Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiii, 1471-1484, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1955), 34-5.

12. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiv, 1484-1492, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1960), 180-181; Cowan, Parishes, 115.

13. R G Cant, The College of St Salvator (Edinburgh, 1950), 29.

14. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 366, 367, 397.

15. Registrum Magni Sigill Regum Scotorum, ii, 1424-1514, ed J B Paul (Edinburgh, 1882), no 3820.  

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: The parsonage was a prebend of St Salvators college, St Andrews by 1464. In 1473 it was made  a mensal church of St Andrews; this was unsuccessful and the union was dissolved in 1495. In 1510 the parsonage and vicarage were re-erected into a prebend of St Salvators, with the cure served by a vicar pensioner.(1)

Mackinlay notes that the church was ‘in all probability’ dedicated to St Maelrubha.(2)

1332 John de Leys dispensed to hold vicarage of Abernethy and rectory of Kinnell.(3)

1378-1381 Three men collated to church in quick succession; John Scherer (1378), Andrew de Trebrim (1379) and Alexander de Guthire (1381, described as Robert II chaplain).(4)

1403 James Lindsay holds Kinnell alongside church of Craig/Inchbrayock.(5)

1418-20 Dispute over church. 1418 Thomas Lyel (also called ‘of Penicuik’) holds Kinnell along with a prebend of Ross and church of Kirriemuir.(6) John Gil also collated in 1419. Suit between the men and George Newton follows (Thomas had exchanged Kinnell with George for Kembake). John wins by late 1419.(7)

1463 Robert Graham is rector of Kinnell value £30, replaced by Richard Wyle who on promotion to abbacy of Kelso in 1467 is replaced by John Spalding (MA, counsellor, confessor and master of the chapel royal of James III).(8)

1474 Duncan Baillie, rector of church is rehabilitated [no mention of what from].(9)

1487 Archbishop of St Andrews confirms the union of church of Kinnell to mensal chapel.(10)

Altars and Chaplaincies

Blessed Virgin Mary

1509 (2 June) The King (James IV) has confirmed in mortmain a charter of Master George Stirling of Easter-Braikie, and Patrick Stirling, his brother, by which, with the agreement of James Lord Oglivy of Airlie, and David Stirling, son and heir apparent of the said George, granted in pure alms to one chaplain in the parish church of Kinnell at the altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary, permanently to celebrate mass [...] two parts, namely, 10 marks, of the annual revenue of £10 from the lands of Easter Braikie.(11)

Post-medieval

Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church parson Patrick Liddell, value £32. Vicarage with Charles Foularton, value £12.(12)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of parsonage £16 13s 4d. Third of vicarage £4.(13)

[Series of minor repairs to the church in the 1660 onwards]

1660 (3 Feb) John Mores, a slater, paid £1 1s for putting up the stones in the east gabell of the church.(14)

1664 (25 Dec) £7 12s given to James Moige, glass wright, for a new glassed window and a new window for the west gabell of the church.(15)

1671 (June) Heritors ordered by the Synod of Fife to increase the minister’s stipend from its current rate of 405 marks some victuals.(16) (heritors are the Earl of Southesk, Lord Carnegie of Kinnaird, Francis Ogilvie of Newgrange).

1675 (3 Oct) £4 12s given to a glass wright for mending the church windows.(17)

1679 (15 June) John Mores was paid £2 16s for pointing 12 couples of the kirk pertaining to the 2 ‘brakies’ parts.(18)

1683 (6 May) £3 5s paid to a glass wright for a new case to the windows next to the pulpit.(19)

1685 (25 Apr) John Mores paid £2 20s for pointing the Newgrange part of the church [an aisle perhaps relating to the Ogilvie’s].(20) In 19 July a payment is made to James Moige, glass wright, for making of new windows.(21) In December a further payment is made to John Mores and others for making and mounting of the pulpit head.(22)

1689 (June/July) Several payments made for work on the bell, the stock and iron works of the bell.(23)

[No serious work during the period of the Kirk session records from 1657-1698]

1735 (5 Mar) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Arbroath anent reparation of the church and church yard dykes. Noted that most part of the dykes are insufficient. The west gavel wall of the church and bell house were ruinous and could not stand but must be rebuilt. The east gavel wall and back wall needed to be pinned and harled, the total cost amounts to £622 12s 8d.(24)

1766 (Mar) It was noted in the session records that the sacrament was not dispensed because the church was being built.(25)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Mr Chaplin, 1792): ‘The church was built in 1766, the manse in 1726’.(26) (no reference to earlier building)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev George Walker, 1838, rev 1842): ‘Of all the original parochial churches within the presbytery of Arbroath, only two, Kinnell and Kirkden, continued to be rectories or parsonages at the time of the Reformation’.(27)

‘The church stands in the southern part of the parish… It was repaired, or rather was almost rebuilt in 1766’.(28)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 114.

2. Mackinlay, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p.176.

3. CPL, ii, 384.

4. CPL, Clem, 19, 24 & 54, CPP, 557.

5. CPL, Ben, 105.

6. CPL, Ben, 372.

7. CSSR, i, 27, 63, 98 & 217.

8. CSSR, v, nos. 943 & 1467.

9. CPL, xiii, 34-35.

10. CPL, xiv, 180-81.

11. RMS, ii, no. 3860.

12. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 366, 367 & 397.

13. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 9 & 10.

14. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 25.

15. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 46.

16. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 74.

17. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 89.

18. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 100.

19. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 115.

20. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 121.

21. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 123.

22. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 125.

23. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1, fol. 140.

24. NRS Presbytery of Arbroath, Minutes, 1734-1773, CH2/15/5, fols. 16-18.

25. NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1725-1824, CH2/574/3, fol. 275.

26. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1792), ii, 492.

27. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1838, rev 1842), xi, 400.

28. Ibid, 408.

Bibliography

NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1657-1698, CH2/574/1.

NRS Kinnell Kirk Session, 1725-1824, CH2/574/3.

NRS Presbytery of Arbroath, Minutes, 1734-1773, CH2/15/5.

Calendar of entries in the Papal registers relating to Great Britain and Ireland; Papal letters, 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 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.

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.

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

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

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

Architectural description

There is a possibility that the mounded site of the church at Kinnell was the location of an early church; in some support of this, two early stones associated with the site, which were built into the wall of the manse garden could have formed parts of cross slabs. One of those stones is so weathered that it is difficult to make out its details, while the other has two coiled serpents.(1)

The earlier history of the medieval parish is uncertain, but by 1464 the parsonage had become a prebend of the college of St Salvator in St Andrews, together with the vicarage of Cranston. Despite this, for a brief period from before 1473 to 1495 it came to be a prebendal church of the archbishops of St Andrews. But in 1510 the parsonage and vicarage were together again erected into a prebend of St Salvator’s, with the cure a vicarage pensionary.(2)

There are records of various repairs from around 1660 onwards. In 1735 it was said that the west gable and bellcote required to be rebuilt, while the east gable and one of the walls needed to be pinned and harled, all at a cost of £622.12.8d.(3) But it is not know if these works were carried out, because in March 1766 it was said that the church was being built.(4

It is not clear how far the latter operation involved complete rebuilding. The Statistical Account stated baldly that ‘the church was built in 1766’,(5) whereas the New Statistical Account said ‘it was repaired, or rather was almost rebuilt in 1766’.(6) However, there is no way of judging which of these was a more accurate reflection of what was done, since the church was completely rebuilt in 1855 by William Scott.(7)

The walls are of pink coursed rubble with angle buttresses and ashlar dressings throughout. There is a door within a gabled salient in the west bay on each side, with four single-light pointed arched windows further east. The east wall has a pair of single lights below an encircled trefoil, with a polygonal vestry at the lowest level. The west wall has a triplet of lights within a salient that rose to support a now-lost bellcote.

The building is no longer in use for worship and is in a state of advanced dereliction: part of the roof has collapsed and the immediately surrounding churchyard is choked with impenetrable undergrowth.

Notes

1. J. Romilly Allen, The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland, Edinburgh, 1903, pt. 3, pp. 225-6; Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Canmore online resource.

2. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, pp. 114-15.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Arbroath, Minutes, 1734-73, CH2/15/5, fols 16-18.

4. National Records of Scotland, Kinnell Kirk Session, 1725-1824, CH2/574/3, fol. 275.

5. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 2, p. 492.

6. New Statistical Account of Scotland, 1834-45, vol. 11, p. 408.

7. John Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland, Dundee and Angus, New Haven and London, 2012, pp. 558-59.

Map

Images

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

  • 1. Kinnell Church, exterior, from north west

  • 2. Kinnell Church, exterior, from north

  • 3. Kinnell Church, exterior, from south east

  • 4. Kinnell Church, exterior, from south

  • 5. Kinnell Church, exterior, from west

  • 6. Kinnell churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 7. Kinnell churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 8. Kinnell, carved fragment (Allen and Anderson)