According to Cameron, the credit of having been the first evangelist who proclaimed the tidings of the gospel here, goes to a native born Scotsman called Machan.
Machan lived at the foot of the glen where he erected a small cell. The building, which was rudely constructed of wattles and turfs, covered with bracken and branches of trees, was the first place of Christian worship in the parish, and the site remained so, not only in mediaeval times but until after the Reformation in 1828.
As the custom of the 9th Century dictated, Mahon would be buried within this little church when he died.
Troubled times followed in Scotland, and much of the Christianity taught by the earliest apostles was lost, but the memory of Machan was never forgotten.
With more settled times came the division of Scotland into parishes. In these parishes, churches were being built, and when selecting names for the churches, preference was given to martyrs or saints. The most suitable place for the erection of the first parish church in Campsie, in the latter half of the twelfth century, was over the grave bearing the remains of Machan, its earliest missionary.
The church building, which was small and simply constructed, was oblong in shape, with the nave running east to west. At the east end were lattices railing this part off from the rest of the nave, which was assigned for faithful worshippers; the remaining space railed off for the laity, who were strictly excluded. The main entrance was from a little portico in the west end.
Near the entrance stood the baptismal font which was symbolic of admission of newly-baptized infants into the Church Catholic. The position of the font was regarded with some disapproval, and at the Westminster Assembly of Divines in 1643, six Scottish members made a strong plea to have the font removed from the church door to the portico, and to have it placed by the pulpit.
Founders of the church wanted to save the memory of Machan, so when it was consecrated, the dedication was to Machan, a disciple of St. Cadoc, who became St Machan, the patron saint of the parish.
The original length is uncertain, but could have been about 77ft; the breadth is 26 ft 8in, over walls 3ft,10in thick, and the west gable is 3ft 8in thick. The style suggests a date in the 17th century, but it is on record that the gable was taken down and rebuilt, although the date is unknown.
Although no exact date for the church can be found, a church in Campsie was mentioned in the prebendal churches ( having a stipend attached) of Glasgow, in a bill in 1216.
Nimmo said in his 'History of Stirlingshire' 1880, that a watch-house still guarded the gate from body-snatchers. The watch-house, which is within the gate, on the west side, is also mentioned in 'Ecclesiastical Monuments', although it was not considered to be of any architectural interest.
The first Presbyterian minister was Mr. Stoddart, and of the fourteen clergymen who held the post from that year, 1581, till 1825, when Rev. Dr. Norman McLeod was minister, two were translated, five deposed, and one, John Collins, murdered by the Laird of Balglass in 1648.
[Amongst the many moss-covered tombs, there is the lofty, domed, 18th century burial vault of the Kincaid-Lennox family] see Lennox Family
By 1794 the question of a new church arose, and the old church was abandoned in 1828, when the new, larger church was built in Lennoxtown. The remains of the old church, now reduced to a fragment consisting only of the West gable, part of the North wall, and the footings of the South wall can still be seen today. (see picture below)
During the 1850's the bell tower was still complete and the bell continued to be rung for funerals and for Sunday evening meetings at the parish school nearby. The bell was removed, first to the Oswald school in Lennoxtown, then to Milton-of-Campsie Parish which opened in 1888.
Remains of old Campsie Parish Church at Clachan of Campsie.
Mr. Lapslie wrote in the Statistical Account of Scotland: "If the population of the district continues to increase, there will be an absolute necessity for building a more commodious church in a more centrical site for the better accommodation of the inhabitants". Miss Lennox of Woodhead was strongly in favour of retaining the Clachan site, but at a meeting of the inheritors on 15th September 1821, it was unanimously agreed that a new church should be built as early as possible in 1823.
After careful consideration of the most suitable situation, the area of Quarry Brae in Lennoxtown, was deemed the most convenient and central, thus underlining the increasing importance of Lennoxtown in the parish. Mr. McLeod the minister, had by skilful diplomacy, at last overcome all the scruples, prejudices and opposition of a few inheritors and some malcontents. One of his opponents, on the question of the church site, said of him, "He's a purkie, clever, cunnin' Heilan'man".
Miss Lennox sold the Quarry brae site for £480 as fixed by the arbiters. The site was inspected by Mr. David Hamilton, a Glasgow architect who submitted a building plan which was generally approved. The plan was of a Gothic building, estimated by Cameron to accommodate 1550 and to cost £5000, but estimated by Brown to accommodate 1,600 and cost £8000.
Throughout the parish and in the village of Lennoxtown, people hailed the project with enthusiasm and made arrangements for a great demonstration on the occasion of laying the foundation stone, on June 21st 1827. The parish Masonic Lodges attended with a band of music, the minister, Kirk session, heritors, schoolmasters and gentlemen connected in various ways with the parish assembled, to witness the ceremonies of the day.
More than one hundred parishioners were entertained to dinner courtesy of Mr. Lennox-Kincaid, some dining in Lennoxtown, and some in the Clachan.
Once erected, the church, which became known as the High Church at the Union of the Churches, was worthy of the Parish. It was spacious, and in the most densely populated area in the parish, in the very midst of the people.
Unfortunately, it was destroyed by fire in the early 1980's, and still lies in a state of disrepair to this day. See: The future High Church
Plans for a new church were also prepared by John Baird (1798-1859), the Glasgow architect, and are preserved in H.M. General Register House, Edinburgh; these were intended for a building on the site of the old church and can be dated back to the year 1826. At a heritors meeting in 1825, the proposition was made that a 'plain substantial rough ashlar building with a belfry' should be erected on the old site (Clachan site). This description corresponds with the plans which show a nearly square structure in the Gothic manner, simple in style, but with a facade and a projecting porch on the top of a small belfry. Shortly before this David Hamilton had submitted a plan, said to be a copy of the church that he had erected at Larbert a few years earlier, but this was severely criticised by Sir Archibald Edmonstone, who referred to it as "a most heavy tasteless pile" and a "cumbrous and inelegant edifice". Ultimately both the Baird plans and the earlier Hamilton plans were passed over in favour of another scheme by the latter architect.
(On the site of former Relief Church/Trinity Church)
Before the Parish church, there was a Relief church in Lennoxtown, capable of holding 600. It had come into being due to unrest by parishioners who were offended at the appointment of Mr. Lapslie, a native of the parish, as minister in 1784. The vacancy for the appointment had been created on the death of the former minister, Mr. William Bell. Rev Lapslie was an unpopular choice with the parishioners who would have preferred Mr. Crawford, Mr. Bells assistant, as the new minister. A leading Glasgow minister said of Lapslie, " The minister of Campsie should be tied in the pulpit and fed there with milk and brose meal over the side of it. He is a good man in the pulpit and a fool out of it."
The dissenters thought that Mr. Lapslie was not spiritually minded enough for the more devout parishioners, and his old acquaintances did not relish his newly acquired airs and opinions. As a result, all who were opposed to Mr. Lapslie were resolved to erect a 'Chapel of Ease', as near the centre of the parish as possible.
To the amazement of the parishioners, as the church was nearing completion, a deputation from Glasgow Presbytery arrived to inform them that Mr. Crawford would not be their minister. The Presbytery were determined he should not settle in the Lennoxtown.
After due consideration, the people resolved not to be dictated to, and so, the simple-minded, earnest, God-fearing members were driven from the church of their forefathers by the arrogant dictation and fatuous policy of members of the Presbytery.
Since they still owned the Titles of the property, they decided to leave the Church of Scotland and apply to the Relief Presbytery to take them under their charge. This was agreed upon on October 6th,1784, eleven months after Mr. Lapslie's induction. The church was named the Relief Church. By a series of denominational moves, the Relief Church became the United Presbyterian Church, the United Free Church, then the Church of Scotland. In 1872, a new church was built on the same site as the first church. This was named the 'Trinity Church' in 1929. It survived until 1985.
The congregations of the High Church and the Trinity Church merged in 1978, and the Trinity became known as Campsie Parish Church. This was demolished due to subsidence in 1985, and a new church, the present Parish Church (above) built in it's place.
Prior to the merger, Rev. Scott Donaldson had at one time been minister in the Trinity Church for many years, although not at the time of the merger, and Rev. Dr. Morrison, minister in the High Church since 1949. The first minister of the united Campsie Parish Church was Rev. Dr. Morrison.
Dr Macleod was the minister in Lennoxtown after Mr. Lapslie died, and it was during this time that the worship of the Roman Catholic Church was revived in Campsie. In 1837, there were only two places of worship in the village, namely the Parish Church and the Relief Church. (Which became the United Presbyterian Church). There were small communities of Wesleyans and Roman Catholics who met in halls for worship. The revival of the Catholic church was mainly due to the increasing numbers of Irish immigrants.
Felix McKewn was the first Irish man to arrive in the district, but he married a Haughhead woman and all their family grew up as Protestants. Shortly afterwards, another Irishman named Loughrey, secured employment and took up residence in Torrance. Together with a man called Hume, he set up business working with minerals, and before long he required labourers, so he brought them over from his own county in Ireland. Every year the numbers of immigrants steadily grew, until in 1830, they sent a petition to Dr Paterson the Vicar Apostolic of the district saying they were entirely without spiritual support, and requested the appointment of a priest.
Dr. Paterson sent a representative to visit the district, to investigate and report. During this undertaking the representative gathered all the Irish residents from around the parish, in a private house, where on January 22nd 1831, he celebrated Mass. This was the first Mass said in the parish since the Reformation. He also baptized three children that day.
Later that year, on September 10th, Monsignor McLachlin of Stirling was sent to take charge of the Roman Catholic's in Campsie. The Monsignor found religious prejudice so strong that he was refused a night's lodgings at the Inn.
To accommodate the ever increasing numbers, a new Roman Catholic Chapel named St Paul's was built in Lennoxtown, and opened in 1846. After the Rev. John Magini was appointed in 1866, he became acquainted with the ecclesiastical history of the parish and obtained a sanction to have the name changed to St Machan's in honour of the old patron saint, after whom the old church at the Clachan was named.
The plot of ground for the Chapel building, had been secured by Bishop Carruthers on a 99 year lease from Mr. John Kincaid Lennox of Woodhead and Kincaid. The extent of the land was 2 Roods, 15 Poles, 13 yards, Imperial Measure. The lease for the land was signed on August 29th, and 19th and 21st September 1844. To the north the land was bounded by 'The Farm of Slatefield', to the south partly by ground belonging to John Lennox Kincaid Lennox, and partly by the roadway of Croft Street. On the eastern side the ground was owned by Jno (correct spelling) Macpherson, and to the west the lease on the ground was held by heirs of the late Dr Robertson. The Church building, which is thought to have cost £1000, was completed in the summer of 1846. The feu duty for the land was £5.14 per annum.
After a Parochial Mass on Sunday, September 4th 1870, His Lordship Dr. Strain, consecrated a Bell presented to the Church by Mr. John McWade of Haughhead. The bell weighed 2 and a half cwts, and was cast by Mr. Murphy of Dublin.
In 1875, a gift of a Baptismal Font was made to the church by Mr. James Lynch
The historic position of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland, namely the Church of Scotland, was the Church of the Scottish people, recognized by Acts of Parliament. The Church and state were independent in their own spheres, not interfering in each others affairs, but helping one another for the Christian good of Scotland.
The Free Church of Scotland was formed and separated from the Church of Scotland in May 1843.
Under a system known as Patronage, it was possible for wealthy men and land owners to nominate and present ministers to congregations, whether these ministers were bible-believing Christians or not. Leaders of the evangelical movement of the Church of Scotland regarded this as unwarranted interference in Church affairs by the state, and rebelled against this practice.
This caused controversy and division, which culminated in the 'Disruption' of 1843, when 450 evangelic ministers separated from the established Church of Scotland to form a new denomination, named the Church of Scotland - Free, which shortly afterwards became The Free Church of Scotland.
At the time of the disruption, many Edinburgh city churches were vacated, and it fell to Edinburgh Town Council to fill these vacancies. Amongst those selected as a replacement was the minister of Campsie, Dr. Robert Lee who was appointed to the Parish of Old Greyfriar's in Edinburgh on August 29th 1843. On November 5th, 1843, Lee preached his last sermon in Campsie from the text, 'Work out your own salvation'.
In this large parish of some 6000 people, to the end of his incumbency, not only was there no Free Church, there was scarcely even a Free Churchman. Cameron questioned if there was another such case throughout the rest of Scotland, and states that the result was mainly due to the ability and honesty and manliness with which Mr. Lee explained the points at issue. It was certainly very remarkable, and formed one of the outstanding features of his ministry in Campsie that his large congregation should have so loyally supported him with unbroken ranks.
Free Church people at the time considered that he was a good deal indebted to the friendly influence of his brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Buchanan who gently restrained all aggressive measures of Non-Intrusion propagandists, so far as Campsie was concerned.
Despite the fact that Dr. Lee had succeeded in preventing the Free Church obtaining sympathizers in Campsie around 1843, the Church made successful inroads some seventeen years later. In 1860, the Churches band of Christian workers in Glasgow organized revival meetings in surrounding areas, such as Campsie. These meetings were attended with a certain measure of success in Campsie, and resulted in the nucleus being formed of a Free Church Mission. The Rev. Archibald Henderson, was sent out by the Presbytery in 1861 as Missionary. The success of his of his efforts seemed to warrant recognition, and he was ordained in 1862. He was transferred to Crieff the following year, and was succeeded in 1864, by the Rev. William Scott from Queen's Park Glasgow. From 1867 -1872, the Rev. D Macleod was minister, but left for America in 1872. A student missionary was then appointed, ordained in 1874, then moved to Aberdeen in 1879. In 1879 the Rev. John Duke transferred from Wellgate Free Church Dundee.
Dr. Lee was a controversial figure who criticized the manner in which the average congregation assembled. "Coming into church with hardly any show of reverence for the sacred place, and sitting down without any sign of prayer or blessing asked. The minister enters the too often ugly and ungainly pulpit; singing is led by some discordant or bull-throated precentor. A long, often doctrinal and historical and un devotional prayer is uttered by the minister, the people standing listlessly the while, most of them staring at the minister or their neighbours, and a benediction, during which the men get their hats ready, and the women gather up their bibles, and draw their shawls and cloaks into most becoming drape, and, as soon as the last word is uttered they are all charging out of the Kirk as if for dear lives. "He requested the people to kneel at prayer and stand to sing. He read his prayers from a printed book, the congregation being given a copy from which to read. He altered the first act of worship, beginning with prayer instead of a psalm, and caused further concern when he introduced organ music and liturgical prayers in Greyfriars Church in Edinburgh.
The Charter of "Lennox (Kilwinning)" Lodge No 74, was introduced to the parish on 24th June 1772, and "St John's Caledonian R. A." No 195, started around 1796.
"Lennox (Kilwinning)," had it's headquarters in the Clachan, and was known as "The Clachan Lodge." It was a lodge of the rural community, originated by the farming class, just as members of "St John's R. A." were drawn from the print fields.
The Clachan Lodge dissolved after a time, but Lodge No 74, the Lennox (Kilwinning) Lodge continued, and, even though it had only a few members, they were always enthusiastic and hopeful that their numbers would grow.
A local man, William Morrison, the son of the tenant of Sheilds farm, and a member of the Lennox (Kilwinning) Lodge, went to London to train as a coach builder. Once trained, he decided to sail to India to seek his fortune. There are two versions of what happened to Mr. Morrison whilst he was en route to India.
One is, that unfortunately, the vessel was attacked by pirates and Morrison was the only person of passengers and crew to escape. It was said that, in addition to taking his own cash, he also took that belonging to others on the ill-fated vessel, people who either perished or were captured, or died in slavery.
It was reported that he saved his life by making some Masonic signs which his captors understood. They acknowledged a principle of brotherhood, saved his life, and helped him board a British ship outward bound for the Indies.
He prospered in Calcutta, and on returning home discovered that his parents had left Shields farm and were living in a thatched cottage, with an adjoining byre, on Balgrochan farm, (It was near the road to the west of Meadowbank) in an area called Damhead. (Near Whitefield Dam).
He intended to have a house - Meadowbank, built for himself to live in. Unfortunately, he slipped one morning on a frozen doorstep and injured himself. Shortly afterwards on the 22nd July 1818, on business in London, he died suddenly, thought to be as a direct result of his fall. Meadowbank was built later and occupied by his parents and sisters. In his will he bequeathed £100 to Campsie parish.
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