Maryton / Old Montrose Parish Church

Maryton Church, exterior, from south

Summary description

Rebuilt in 1791-92; now adapted as a house.

Historical outline

The church of St Mary of Old Montrose (Veteri Munros), later called Maryton, was one of several churches within the diocese of Brechin that was granted by King William to Arbroath Abbey at the time of the monastery’s foundation.(1)  His gift included the land attached to the church, ‘which in Scots (Gaelic) is called abthen’.  This reference to abthainn land suggests an association with pre-twelfth-century monastic site, perhaps that at St Vigean’s whose properties may have formed a basis for the later Tironensian abbey, but there is no concrete evidence for such a link. 

King William’s gift was confirmed before 1198 by Turpin, bishop of Brechin, as part of a general confirmation and appropriation of the parish churches held by Arbroath in his diocese.(2)  As part of his appropriation, Bishop Turpin gave the monks the right to serve Old Montrose with a chaplain.

Subsequent bishops down to the 1240s confirmed Turpin’s grant,(3) but under Bishop Albin (1246-69) an attempt was made to recover control of the appropriated churches from the abbey.  In 1248, however, a compromise was reached whereby the bishop renounced his claim to Old Montrose and the other churches but at the concession of a vicarage settlement by the monks, who instituted perpetual vicarages at several of the disputed churches including Old Montrose.(4)  The vicarage was in place in 1274 when Old Montrose was assessed for tax at 3 shillings in Bagimond’s Roll.(5)

The 1248 settlement was challenged in the early 1300s and in 1304 Bishop William Lamberton of St Andrews arbitrated in the agreement of a new framework.  Of the six churches claimed by the bishop of Brechin, it was agreed that Caterline and Old Montrose should be returned to him while the remaining four were confirmed to the monastery.(6

There were subsequent attempts to regain control of the other churches by the bishops in the 1460s and again in 1517, but the 1304 settlement was maintained until the Reformation.(7)  From the time of 1304 settlement the parsonage was a mensal possession of the bishop with the cure served by a vicar perpetual.(8)


1.RRS, ii, no.197.

2. Arbroath Liber, i, nos 173, 178.

3. Arbroath Liber, i, nos 174, 175, 176, 185, 186, 187.

4. Arbroath Liber, i, no.243.

5. SHS Misc, vi, 53.

6. Arbroath Liber, i, no.244.

7.CSSR, v, 1447-1471, no.864; CPL, xii, 52; Arbroath Liber, ii, nos 135, 543, 544.

8. Cowan, Parishes, 144.

Summary of relevant documentation


Synopsis of Cowan’s Parishes: Confirmed to Arbroath by bishop Turpin (1178x98), there was controversy over the church and 5 others which the bishop claimed as pertaining to his mensa.  This was resolved in 1248 when the  bishop of Brechin renounced all rights and a vicarage settlement was made. The dispute continued until 1304 when it was decided that Maryton belonged to Brechin, as a mensal church thereafter with the cure served by a vicar perpetual.(1)

1178 Church included in the foundation charter of Arbroath as a gift by William. 1213 church in included in confirmation by William I of the possessions of Arbroath.(2)

1178x98 Church included in two charters by Turpin, bishop of Brechin, the first specifically mentioning the gift of the church and the second confirming all the churches in possession of Arbroath, held in usus proprios, by Arbroath.(3)

1182 Church included in papal bull by Lucius III confirming possessions of Arbroath.(4)

1200 Church included in papal bull by Innocent III confirming possessions of Arbroath.(5)

1211x18 Possession of church by Arbroath confirmed Radulf, bishop of Brechin including all the churches held by Arbroath in the diocese of Brechin.(6)

1218 & 1218x22 Church included in confirmations by bishops Hugh and Gregory of Brechin of all churches held by Arbroath in their diocese.(7)

1248 Bishop Albin renounces all right to church along with 5 others in possession of Arbroath within the diocese of Brechin. Vicarage settlement sees parsonage with abbey and provision of perpetual vicar.(8)

1304 Decision made by William Lamberton, bishop of St Andrews, with regard to 6 churches. Caterline and Maryton/Old Montrose to become mensal churches of Brechin. Arbroath retains Dunnichen, Kingoldrum, Monikie and Panbride.(9)

1440 Robert de Tulloch described as perpetual vicar of Maryton. In 1442 on Robert’s promotion to dean of Dunkeld William Gillespie collated to church (nephew of bishop John of Brechin.(10)

1447 Andrew de Fyff recorded as perpetual vicar.(11)

1456 John Thomas and Richard Johns separately collated to church on death of John Atholl. [unclear who is successful].(12)

1459-61 Attempts by Arbroath to reverse decision of 1304 and re-annex Maryton to the abbey.(13)

1461 Papal bull by Pius II confirming the decision by Lamberton, Caterline and Maryton remain with Brechin, Dunnichen, Kingoldrum, Monikie and Panbride with Arbroath.(14)


Books of assumption of thirds of benefices and Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices: The Parish church pertains to Brechin Cathedral, value with fishing rights £48 15s 4d.(15)

Account of Collectors of Thirds of Benefices (G. Donaldson): Third of vicarage £3 6s 8d.(16)

1580 John Melville presented on the death of the last vicar David Meldrum.(17)

1594 Melville dead, John Graham presented to vicarage.(18)

1652 (8 Apr) Stent organised by the heritors of Maryton for building a new manse.(19)

1652 (15 Apr) The heritors offer 800 marks, not thought sufficient by the presbytery; the earl of Athie and Laird of Fintrey to be consulted. At a further meeting on 1 July the brethren are forced to accept 800 marks.(20)

1652 (7 Oct) Controversy over a loft in the parish church between James Scott, the new laird of Balvenie, and Robert Melville the laird of Nether Dysart.(21)

1653 (26 Mar) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Brechin finds it to be ruinous in some places of the walls thereof; the presbytery recommends the same to be seen to by the heritors (they agree to act with diligence).(22)

1659 (25 Aug) Visitation of the church by the Presbytery of Brechin finds the minister to be competent, and enquires of him who maintains the fabric; the minister answers, the heritors.(23)

Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev James Wilson, 1793): ‘A new church was built last year (1791)’.(24)

New Statistical Account of Scotland (Rev Andrew Fergusson): [Nothing to add to above, neither mentions church buildings prior to 1791]

Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches (George Hay): 1791; renovated 1818 and 1883, good pulpit, 1642 bell. New belfry in 18th century.(25) p. 168.


1. Cowan, The parishes of medieval Scotland, 143-44.

2. RRS, ii, nos. 197 & 513, Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 1.

3. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, nos. 173 & 178.

4. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 220.

5. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 221.

6. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 185.

7. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, nos. 186, 187 & 191.

8. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 239.

9. Liber Aberbrothoc, i, no. 344.

10. CSSR, iv, nos.683, 774 & 911. CPL, ix, 130.

11. CPL, x, 23.

12. CSSR, v, nos. 595 & 620.

13. CSSR, v, nos. 750, 864 & 868, CPL, xii, 59.

14. Liber Aberbrothoc, ii, no. 135.

15. Kirk, The books of assumption of the thirds of benefices, 388-89.

16. Donaldson, Accounts of the collectors of thirds of benefices, 10.

17. Registrum Brechinensis, ii, no. 318.

18. Registrum Brechinensis, ii, no. 432.

19. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fol. 255.

20. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fols. 256 & 263.

21. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fol. 271.

22. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fols. 283-284.

23. NRS Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, 1639-1661, CH2/40/1, fol. 442.

24. Statistical Account of Scotland, (1793), ix, 406.

25. Hay, The Architecture of Scottish Post-Reformation Churches, pp. 169 188 & 246.


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 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.

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.

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

Liber S Thome de Aberbrothoc, 1848-56, ed. C. Innes and P. Chalmers, (Bannatyne Club) Edinburgh, i.

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

Registrum Episcopatus Brechinensis, 1856, ed. C. Innes (Bannatyne Club), Edinburgh, i.

Regesta Regum Scottorum, Acts of William I (1165-1214), 1971, Edinburgh.

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

Architectural description

William the Lion granted the church to his new Tironensian foundation of Arbroath in 1178. In the time of Bishop Albin of Brechin (1246-69) it was claimed as a mensal church of the bishop, and an arbitration conducted by Bishop William de Lamberton of St Andrews in 1304 concluded that was in fact the case. The cure was a vicarage perpetual.(1)

The bell of the church is said to have been dated 1642, and it has been suggested that was the date the church was rebuilt.(2) That may be unlikely, however, since on 26 March 1653 presbytery deemed the structure to be partly ruinous in the walls.(3)

The author of the entry in the Statistical Account said that the church had been ‘built last year’,(4) by which 1792 was presumably meant. Since the date 1791 is inscribed in the east gable the work was probably started in 1791 and completed in the following year. It was refurnished in 1833.(5)

It is no longer in use for worship, and has been adapted for occupation as a house.

It is an approximately oriented rectangular structure built of pink rubble with ashlar dressings. Rising above the west gable is an aedicular structure capped by an elongated urn finial; this was presumably originally a bellcote, but the openings are now infilled. The south front has a pair of Y-traceried windows, with a door below a pointed window to each side of those windows; the eastern door has been enlarged. The north front was originally blank, but as part of the domestic adaptation, two levels of rectangular windows have been cut.

The graveyard associated with the church is immediately to its east, suggesting that the church is likely to be on or near its historic site. However, there is nothing identifiably medieval in the fabric of the church.

Two medieval grave slabs, which may have originated in the church, used to be in the vestry,(6) but have been removed to the museum in Montrose. One is a cross-incised slab for John Melville. The other, which is a fine early sixteenth-century incised ledger slab for William Wood of Bonyton, has the figure of the deceased above his heraldic achievement.


1. Ian B. Cowan, The Parishes of Medieval Scotland (Scottish Record Society), 1967, pp. 143-44.

2. Francis H. Groome (ed.), Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, vol. 5, 1884.

3. National Records of Scotland, Presbytery of Brechin, Minutes, CH2/40/1, fols 283-4.

4. Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-9, vol. 9, pp. 406.

5. Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland, vol. 5, 1884.

6. David MacGibbon and Thomas Ross, The Ecclesiastical Architecture of Scotland, Edinburgh, vol. 3, 1897, pp. 456-458; F.C Eeles, ‘Undescribed sculptured stones and crosses at Old Luce, Farnell, Edzell Lochlee and Kirkmichael (Banffshire), with some late medieval monuments at Parton (Kirkcudbrightshire), Maryton and Wick’, Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, vol.44, 1909-10, pp. 367-9.



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

  • 1. Maryton Church, exterior, from south

  • 2. Maryton Church, exterior, from north

  • 3. Maryton Church, exterior, from south west

  • 4. Maryton Church, exterior, from west

  • 5. Maryton Church, exterior, date inscription on east gable

  • 6. Maryton churchyard, gravestone, 1

  • 7. Maryton churchyard, gravestone, 2

  • 8. Maryton churchyard, gravestone, 3

  • 9. Maryton churchyard

  • 10. Maryton Church, grave slab for William Wood (MacGibbon and Ross)