The Perth Kirk Session Books, 1577-1590

June 2012
1 line illustrations
584 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Scottish History Society 6th Series
ISBN: 9780906245316
Format: Hardback
Scottish History Society
BISAC HIS015000, REL093000, LAW060000

The Perth Kirk Session Books, 1577-1590

Edited by Margo Todd

Sixteenth-century documents from the parochial church court reveal huge detail about the daily lives of ordinary Scottish townspeople of the time.
The Calvinist Reformation in Scottish towns was a radically transformative movement. It incorporated into urban ecclesiastical governance a group of laymen - the elders of the kirk session - drawn heavily from the crafts guilds as well as wealthy merchants. These men met at least weekly with the minister and comprised a parochial church court that exercised an unprecedented discipline of the lives of the ordinary citizenry. They pried into sexual behaviour, administered the hospital and other poor relief, ordered fostering of orphans, oversaw the grammar school, enforced sabbath observance, investigated charges of witchcraft, arbitrated quarrels and punished people who railed at their neighbours. In times of crisis like the great plague of 1584-85, they rationed food sent from other towns and raised an already high bar on moral discipline to avert further divine wrath.
The minute books of Perth's session, established in the 1560s and surviving most fully from 1577, open a window on this religious discipline, the men who administered it, and the lay people who both resisted and facilitated it, negotiating its terms to meet their own agendas. They are presented here with full introduction and explanatory notes.

Margo Todd is Walter H. Annenberg Professor of History, University of Pennsylvania.

Table of Contents

The Perth Kirk Session Book: 1577-1590
Appendix I: Perth Elders, 1576-1588
Appendix II: Hospital Masters, 1577-1596
Appendix III: Session Disciplinary Entries in the Parish Register, 1568


A fascinating insight into the life of 'ordinary' Scottish society in the late sixteenth century. SCOTTISH STUDIES NEWSLETTER, no. 42, Autumn 2013

[Contains] a dazzling array of detail [and] provide[s] an almost unparalleled insight into the mundane and the extraordinary in early modern Scotland. JOURNAL OF IRISH & SCOTTISH STUDIES

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