Newdosk Parish Church

Newdosk, site of church

Summary description

No visible remains.

Historical outline

Dedication: St Drostan?(1)

The church of Newdosk is almost entirely invisible in pre-Reformation sources.  What appears to be the first surviving reference to the church is in 1275-6 in the second year of the accounts of the papal tax-collector in Scotland, when it was recorded as paying 22s 3½d for two terms of the year.(2)  It was an independent parsonage at that date and appears to have remained as such throughout the pre-Reformation period.  The first known rector, William Goldsmith, was recorded in October 1394 when he was provided to a canonry in the cathedral church of Moray by Pope Benedict XIII.(3)  Although the church remained unappropriated throughout the Middle Ages this situation does not mean that it was necessarily served by an incumbent rector rather than by a curate appointed by largely absentee priests.  Indications of such an arrangement are hinted at in the 1480s in details relating to a settlement converning a dispute over possession of the church between Henry Meldrum and James Ogilvy, which had given the latter provision and reserved a pension for the former.  A notarial record of the settlement, which had apparently occurred in March 1480 after a meeting in Ogilvy’s house in the Canongate of Edinburgh, was confirmed in February 1485/6.(4) Ogilvy appears to have continued to reside in Edinburgh.

It seems likely that the church was in the patronage of the bishops and archbishops of St Andrews, but that position is stated nowhere explicitly.  Surviving evidence for a potential link comes only in the decade before the Reformation when it emerges that the kirklands of Newdosk lay within the archbishop’s barony of Rescobie and regality of St Andrews rather than in the barony of Newdosk which pertained to the earls of Crawford.(5)  This is not conclusive evidence but it does point to an archiepiscopal interest in the church which post-Reformation feuferme agreements relating to the parish teinds confirm.(6)  The 9th earl of Crawford secured an interest in the church properties in his barony only in the second quarter of the sixteenth century when he received possession of the teinds through a feuferme settlement with the rector, Adam Kinghorn.(7)

Newdosk remained an independent parsonage at the Reformation.  At that time the parson was William Chalmers and his charge was valued at £40 annually.  When assessed by the collectors of the thirds of benefices, Chalmers complained that his predecessor, Adam Kinghorn, had feufermed the teinds to the Earl of Crawford and that he had never received more than £30 annually as a result.(8)


1. J M Mackinlay, Ancient Church Dedications in Scotland: Non-Scriptural Dedications (Edinburgh, 1914), 215.

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), 64.

3. Calendar of Papal Letters to Scotland of Benedict XIII of Avignon 1394-1419, ed F McGurk (Scottish History Society, 1976), 22.

4. Calendar of Entries in the Papal Registers Relating to Great Britain and Ireland: Papal Letters, xiv, 1484-1492, ed J A Twemlow (London, 1960), 74; A I Cameron (ed), The Apostolic Camera and the Scottish Benefices (Oxford, 1934), 308-309.

5. NRS GD1/119/3-5; Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis, ii (Bannatyne Club, 1856), Appendix, no.ccccix.  For Newdosk as part of the Crawford properties, see Registrum Magni Sigilli Regum Scotorum, i, 1306-1424, ed J M Thomson (Edinburgh, 1882), no.881.

6. NRS GD45/16/1740.

7. J Kirk (ed), The Books of Assumption of the Thirds of Benefices (Oxford, 1995), 382.

8. Kirk (ed), Books of Assumption, 382.

Summary of relevant documentation


Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes:

An independent parsonage, the church remained unappropriated at the Reformation, the patronage with the archbishops of St Andrews.(1)

Mackinlay notes that the church of the now suppressed parish of Newdosk (linked to Edzell) is believed to have been under the invocation of St Drostan.(2)

1394 William Goldsmith, rector of the parish church of Newdosk becomes canon of Moray.(3)

1451 John Steil, described as parson of church, supplicates to hold incompatible benefices (value of Newdosk £10).(4)

1471 (3 June) Presentation by Henry, abbot of Paisley, in favour of William Herys, rector of the parish church of Newdosk in the diocese of St Andrews, of the vicarage of the parish church of Monkton (Munktoun) in the diocese of Glasgow, following on the resignation of William Ogylvy, perpetual vicar of the said vicarage.(5)

1485 Litigation between Henry Meldrum and James Ogilvy; settlement with James provided and Henry given a pension from the fruits, overall value of church 30 marks.(6)


Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: William Chalmers is Parish church parson, value £40. Predecessor Adam Kinghorn feu fermed lands to David Lindsay, 9th earl of Crawford; current rector complains that he only ever received £30 a year.(7)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of  parsonage and vicarage £13 6s 8d.(8)

[No statistical accounts for Newdosk (nothing mentioned regarding church in Edzell entry)]

[The parish was united with Edzell in 1658 with the latter church serving both parishes]

1658 (5 Aug) The presbytery of Brechin finds that the people of Newdosk cannot conveniently go to Edzell for catcheism and baptism due to the dangerous waters. The laird of Edzell is asked to reopen to build a bridge or prepare a boat for transporting the people at such times(9) [shortly after union of churches].


1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 156.

2. Mackinlay, Non-Scriptural Dedications, p. 215.

3. CPL, Ben, 22.

4. CSSR, v, no.411.

5. NRS Papers of the Smythe Family of Methven, Perthshire, GD190/2/5.

6. CPL xiv, 74.

7. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 382.

8. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 9.

9. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fol. 410.


NRS Papers of the Smythe Family of Methven, Perthshire, GD190/2/5.

NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1.

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 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.

Architectural description

Newdosk remained an unappropriated living in the patronage of the bishops of St Andrews throughout the middle ages.(1)

At some stage the parish was annexed to that of Edzell. One account says that ‘till at least 1567 [Newdosk] formed a distinct parish’,(2) though  the annexation may have taken place considerably later than that. However, the fact that on 5 August 1685 the laird of Edzell was asked to repair a bridge or prepare a boat to allow the people of Newdosk to go to Edzell for catechising and baptisms suggests that by then the parish church was at Edzell.(3)

The church passed out of use after the union, but in about 1860 there was still enough to be seen to show that it had been a structure of about 16.75 by 5.2 metres, and it was said there was a broken font in the churchyard.(4) Nothing of the church remains visible in the churchyard, though a recumbent medieval graveslab was found there in 1995, on which the date 1307 has been inscribed at some later date.(5)


1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, p. 156.

2. Francis H. Groome, Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, vol. 3, 1883.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-61, CH2/40/1, fol. 410.

4. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Canmore online resource; Object Name Book of the Ordnance Survey, 1860, book 40.

5. N. Atkinson, ‘Newdosk Church’, Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, Edinburgh, 1995, p. 34.



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  • 1. Newdosk, site of church