Newton Parish Church

Newton Church, tower on site

Summary description

The site of the church at Newton is marked by a tower; in 1742 it was replaced by a new church on a different site which served the united parishes of Newton and Woolmet.

Historical outline

Dedication: unknown

Newton was granted to Dunfermline Abbey by Alfwin mac Archill, the rannair or ‘divider of meat’ in the courts of kings David I and Malcolm IV, and his wife, Ede, probably in the early 1150s.  Alfwin’s charter does not survive but the confirmations of his grant by King Malcolm IV, datable to 1153x1162, and Bishop Robert of St Andrews, 1154x1159, are preserved in the abbey’s cartulary.(1)  It seems that the original award was of the patronage only and as early as the beginning of the episcopate of Bishop William Malveisin (1202-1238) the abbey was still presenting rectors to the bishop for confirmation and collation.(2)  A papal bull of Gregory IX issued in 1233 confirmed the grant of the church to the abbey in proprios usus that had been made by Bishop William, but no record of the bishop’s original grant survives.(3)  The annexation appears to have formed part of a multiple concession in favour of the abbey which included the churches of Kinghorn amd Woomet. 

The near-contemporary annexation of the neighbouring church of Woomet to the abbey might have been used as the opportunity to effect a union of the two parishes.  No formal record of the date at when this was achieved survives but it was the case by 1437 when Newton and Woomet appears as a joint cure.(4)  References to a separate church of ‘Newton’ from the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries are in respect of Kirknewton (qv).

Notes

1. Registrum de Dunfermelyn (Bannatyne Club, 1842), nos 44, 91 [hereafter Dunfermline Registrum]; Regesta Regum Scottorum, i, The Acts of Malcolm IV, ed G W S Barrow (Edinburgh, 1960), no.164.

2. Dunfermline Registrum, no.115.

3. Dunfermline Registrum, no.266.

4. I B Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society, 1967), 157.

Summary of relevant documentation

Medieval

Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: The church was granted to Dunfermline by Alwin Renner and his wife Ada 1154x59, the patronage alone being enjoyed, until it was confirmed to the uses of the abbey in 1232. The church was united with Woomet to form a joint cure in 1437, the name appearing as Woomet thereafter.(1)

1394-1424 Thomas de Tyninghame has the rectory until 1424 when he (or a man of the same name) swaps it for Abernethy with Thomas de Penicuik.(2)

1429 George de Lermonth (MA and student at Rome) has provision to Newton but it is possessed by another (Thomas de Penicuik) who George accuses of holding the church unlawfully for 5 or 6 years.(3)

1433 Incumbent John Brown dies and is succeeded by William Brown who exchanges the church for Ednam with Eugenius Eugenii [Ewan?].(4)

1438 Eugenius appears to have been unsuccessful; David Bertam is provided to the church followed in 1450 by Patrick Lesuris, described as parson of Newton.(5)

1454 Patrick Lesours, rector of church of Newton, for the souls of James II and his own family, founds a chaplainry at altar of St Michael the Archangel in parish church of Edinburgh.(6)

[Post Reformation (See notes on Kirknewton; it is not certain which of the two churches the references below refer to)]

1556-1576 James Brown, rector of the church, includes inventory of books lent to him by Archbishop of St Andrews. Described as formerly rector in 1576.(7)

1593 (25 Jan) Report to the Presbytery of Dalkeith by the Laird of Edmonstone about the rebuilding of Newton. Church requires a minister and his provision.(8)

1620 (21 Sept) A visitation of the church approves the minister and reports that Mr Murray of Newton has sited a seat and a burial place in an aisle ‘forganist the pulpit’.(9)

1623 (23 Jan) A visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith approves the minister and orders a stipend to be paid to the minister in part by the heritors and in part by the crown. The visitation records that there is no manse or kirkyard dykes (the heritors agree to  build the same).(10)

1627 (8 May) Report on the parish by the minister (James Laing) describes the church as being under the patronage of the Lord Balmerinoche. He describes the church as ‘ruinous, the roof already decayed, and the parishioners being all poor landowners will hardly repair it. Suggests the parish be united to Calder Clere.(11)

1628 (29 May) A visitation of Newton by the Presbytery of Dalkeith describes how the seats have been placed in the church; the pulpit is to be moved to the east side in between the Murray and Edmonstone aisles.(12)

1640 (2 May) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith notes that the church is ruinous and tables a motion for repairing of the same.(13)

1648 (2 Nov) Survey of the parishes in the Presbytery of Dalkeith notes that the church of Newton was formerly a pendicle of Musselburgh and contains 400 communicants.(14)

1675 (23 Sept) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith notes that the fabric of the church is good and sufficient; only the roof needs pointing. The steeple is altogether ruinous.(15)

1688 (3 July) Report on the visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Dalkeith notes that the church is found to be somewhat faulty in the roof. James Murray, slater, asked to assess the costs of the work.(16)

1698 (22 Nov) The presbytery appoint a committee to meet the elders of Newton ‘anent the repairing of an aisle in the west end of Newton church belonging to the Duke of Buccleuch.(17)

[United with Woolmet/Wymet at the Reformation, Newton church became parochial for new parish]

#1742 [no references in the kirk session or presbytery records to the new church]

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Main, 1791): ‘The church was built in the year 1742’.(18) [no reference to remains of either Newton or Woolmet churches]

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev John Adamson, 1843): ‘The tower of the ancient church of Newton, which was situated quite at the extremity of the parish, is still entire, and has been preserved to form a feature of the landscape as seen from the grounds of Dalkeith park’.(19)

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay): 1742; alterations and additions 1890, 1742 Taylor bell, mort bell, fragments decorated woodwork 1732 and 1747. New belfry in 18th century.(20)

Notes

1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 156-7.

2. CPP, 586, CSSR, ii, 46.

3. CSSR, iii, 18 & 37.

4. CSSR, iv, nos. 4 & 5.

5. CSSR, v, nos. 441 & 344.

6. Registrum Sancti Egidii de Edinburgh, no. 76.

7. Prot Bk of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun ,nos. 376, 694 & 935.

8. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 291.

9. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 475.

10. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 511.

11. Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, pp. 82-85.

12. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1, fol. 561.

13. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fols. 40-41.

14. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3, fol. 263.

15. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5, fols. 52-53.

16. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5, fols. 335-336.

17. NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1694-1700, CH2/424/7, fol. 183.

18. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1791), xi, 535.

19. New Statistical Account of Scotland, (1843), i, 568.

20. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 92, 169, 217, 233 & 266.

Bibliography

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1582-1630, CH2/424/1.

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1639-1652, CH2/424/3.

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1673-1688, CH2/424/5.

NRS Presbytery of Dalkeith, Minutes, 1694-1700, CH2/424/7.

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

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.

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

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

Protocol Book of Dominus Thomas Johnsoun, 1528-1578,  1920, eds. J. Beveridge & J. Russell (Scottish Record Society) Edinburgh.

Registrum Cartarum Ecclesie Sancti Egidii de Edinburgh, 1859, ed. D. Laing (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh.

Reports on the State of Certain Parishes in Scotland, Made to his Majesty’s Commissioners for Plantation of Kirks, 1835, ed. A. MacGrigor (Maitland Club), Edinburgh.

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

Architectural description

Newton has a complex parochial history. It was granted to the Benedictine abbey of Dunfermline by Alwin de Renner, a grant that was confirmed by Malcolm IV (1153-64). Only the patronage was initially involved in this grant, but in about 1232 Bishop William Malvoisin confirmed the church to the uses of the abbey.(1)

Of the church, at NT 33420 69034, it was said in the New Statistical Account ‘the tower of the ancient church...is still entire, and has been preserved as a feature of the landscape as seen from the grounds of Dalkeith Park’.(2) That tower, which was evidently on the south side of the church, appears to be of seventeenth-century date in its present form, and measures 4.75 by 4.6 metres, rising to about 10.65 metres. It has a string course at mid-height and a crenellated wall head. The churchyard is now a field, and was said to have been long disused for burials by 1852.(3) Excavations in 1995 exposed part of the south wall of the church.(4)

A new church was built at NT 31507 69343 in 1742 to serve the united parishes of Newton and Woolmet.(5) The main body is set out to a T-plan with the aisle on the north side. It is built of pink rubble with broached tooling, with block rustication to the quoins, and with ample buff-coloured ashlar dressings throughout. There is a birdcage bellcote above the west gable, and the large windows along the south face are round-arched. Porches have been added at the end of each of the arms; a session house at the centre of the south front has a possibly relocated sundial, which is inscribed with the date 1742.

Notes

1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, pp. 156-7.

2. New Statistical Account, vol. 11, p. 568.

3. Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Ordnance Survey Object Name Book no.20.

4. T. Rees, ‘Newton Old Church’, Discovery and Excavation in Scotland, Edinburgh, 1995, p. 55.

5. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 11, p. 535.

Map

Images

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  • 1. Newton Church, tower on site

  • 2. Newton Church, tower, exterior, blocked access to church (Phil Kerr)

  • 3. Newton Church, tower, exterior, entrance (Phil Kerr)

  • 4. Newton Church, tower, interior, possible blocked fireplace in north-west corner (Phil Kerr)

  • 5. Newton later church, exterior, from north

  • 6. Newton later church, exterior, from south

  • 7. Newton later church, exterior, dated sundial

  • 8. Newton churchyard, gravestone (Phil Kerr)