29 April 2016

Kirk Sessions, Isle of Coll, 1732-1735 - WRAP

My posts of these early kirk sessions meetings were posted in the following order; if you simply scroll down from here they will appear in reverse order:
1 - Ballahodh 26th 1732
2 - Cliad 18 Feb 1733
3 - Ballihough 15 Aug 1733 together with 19 Aug 1733
4 - Breacha 23 Sep 1733
5 - Grisibol no day/month 1733
6 - Ballihough 28 March 1734
7 - Grisibol 7 June 1734
8 - Grisibol 21st? August 1735
9 - Grisibol 11 December 1735

10 - Grisibol 30 November 1735

This map is very helpful for locations; Nicholas Maclean-Bristol, The Isle of Coll in 1716, outside back cover.  
The register for Coll kirk sessions minutes was digitized in folio layout (facing pages). The entries appear on hand-numbered pages 1-10, each entry often beginning or ending mid-page. Page 11 is blank after the last (1735) entry of this period.

Entries resume on page 12 with the date 30 May 1775 and the 1776 entries begin on page 13. The (catechist's) list of Coll inhabitants begins on page 29 (2 December 1776).

It is unknown why the November 1735 entry follows the entry of December 1735. It may indicate the clerk was accustomed to taking loose notes at the session meetings and later transferred them into the register.

Mr. William Morisson who moderated the first two sessions was the Coll and Tiree parish minister living on Tiree. The assistant minister residing on Coll was Mr. Hector McLean (moderator of most meetings). He lived in a house at Cliad where a room was used for Sabbath worship. He was a distant relative of the same-named Laird.

Since Mr. Hector stayed on as assistant minister until he died in 1775, no doubt the kirk sessions continued during the intervening years 1736-1775. But whether meeting minutes were written as loose paper notes or a kept in a separate register, they have not been located.

The Elders in that early period were:
The Laird of Coll (Hector McLean at Breacachadh)
Allan McLean of Totronald
Hector McLean of Knock
John McLean of Grishaboll
Lachlan McLean (Coll's brother)
Hector McLean of Toraston
Donald McDonald of Totamore
Archibald McLean of Uig
In one set of minutes the latter two men were called "Sessioners." I am unable to find a distinction between elders and sessioners.

Local kirk officials mentioned in the minutes were treasurer, collector, censor, and beadle. Unspoken was the session clerk who actually recorded the minutes. We are seldom told who filled those positions from time to time but Donald [---] was appointed treasurer in 1732 and Murdoch Kennedy was the collector in 1733.

Punctuation in the minutes was obviously not an important issue. Spellings of personal and place names vary but are generally recognizable. The use of capital letters for many words is erratic, perhaps largely due to my lack of distinguishing them.

Now having more familiarity with the handwriting and syntax, I will be reviewing the transcriptions with an eye to possibly filling in some missing words.

Other Observations and Questions:
The Kirk Session was the local court for religious observance and social conscience. Ranking high among immorality offences was breach of the Lord's Day by failing to attend the service. The Elders followed a protocol for all transgressions in a system of rebukes, censures, and so on. Serious cases, including repeat offenders, would be referred to the Presbytery of Mull.

More than a generation, forty years, lapsed in the missing period between 1735 and 1775 which is frustrating for family historians, especially those who can identify names in the minutes. The adults named here may or may not have lived until the 1776 list of Coll inhabitants was made.

Connecting people of patronymics with the family surnames that were evolving takes special skill. It was suggested as an example that McIan was the precursor of what we know as the Johnston surname on Coll. Please add (in the comments) your own interpretation or guesses Dhoil? McDonchaig? McMurchuig? McIllhalum? and etc!
Anyone what is the significance of the often-inserted Gaelic "oig" (og) after some names?

Who can solve the mystery of what the [black]smith was making for the community? It's likely an archaic word now. "Toggs"? Something for fishing or agricultural or livestock use? Or a necessary cooking tool? An item belonging to clothing, such as something for shoes?

I take full responsibility for errors and misinterpretations herein. All corrections and comments are welcome!

Some Recommendations
Nicholas Maclean-Bristol. The Kirk on the Hill: The story of the church in the Isle of Coll AD 550-2007. Coll, Scotland: The Society of West Highland and Island Historical Research, 2007.
Nicholas Maclean-Bristol. The Isle of Coll in 1716. Coll, Scotland: The Project Trust, 1989.
Ewen McGee, Isle of Coll: Facets of a gem. UK: Islands Book Trust, 2015.
"The Kirk and its impact on the people," (website) The Reformation -
Hebridean History -
Isle of Coll Genealogy -

2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

24 April 2016

Kirk Sessions, Isle of Coll - 10

It is unknown why this November entry follows the previous entry of December. It may indicate the clerk was accustomed to taking loose notes at the session meetings and then transferring them into the register.
This is the last entry of session minutes until the same register resumes 30th of May 1775.

One final post will follow soon to summarize some of the salient points.

Grisibol November 30th 1735
After prayer
     Sederunt Mr Hector McLean Modr
     Lachlan McLean of Toraston
     John McLean of Grisibol          Elders
     Hector McLean of Knock

The Session appointed their Bedle to Summon
the Censor to meet at Grisibol on the [11th?]
of next month and to bring along with 'em
all Such as they found guilty of Immorality
on the Sabbath[.] They obligd him also to
cite Callum McIan vc Gllespig & Mary nin
[Raoil?] and Donald McIan vc Eachan & Ann
nin Challum Delinquents[.] They also oblig-
ed him to cite Ewen McNeil oig & Char-
les McDhoil vc Kerlich Ten days after
     Closed with prayer

20 April 2016

Kirk Sessions, Isle of Coll - 9

Contumacy - willful, stubborn non-compliance when summoned.

Grisibol December 11th 1735
After prayer
Sederunt Mr Hector McLean Modr
Allan McLean of Tottranald
Lachlan McLean of Toraston              Elders
Donald McDonald
Archibald McLean in Uig

The Session appointed their Bedle to Summon
the persons following viz Neil McRory
John Duigh McRory, Angus McDhonehuigh
Niel McIan oig, Hector McIan oig, Murdo
Campbell, John Campbell, Rory McInnes
Donald McIan oig in Ballihough [I---]
in Tottamoir Hector McLean, Niel McIan vc
Neil[.] The Session appoints that whoever is
guilty of Immorality on the Lord's day should
forfeit one shilling sterling
(next page)
And that whoever absents from sermon without
a very sufficient should forfeit one shilling sterling
and that a shilling sterling be payd for Contumacy
by any one declining to Compear before sessions
in order to have their fines ascertained or
upon any other account And that the Censor
in the place do assist the Collector in raising the
fines and if it be found necessary the next Elder is
to be Called to their assistance
            The Session appoints that the fines
that are to be thus raised be Employd after the
following manner The Collector & Censor are
to have the half of 'em Equally divided
twixt them and the other is to be Distirbutd
to the poor[.] Nothing Else Occurring the Session
Concluded with prayer

Part of December 1735 entry

16 April 2016

Kirk Sessions, Isle of Coll - 8

Reminder: the first transcription has an introduction (click link to see it).
This session meeting was the first in 1735, over a year after the previous meeting.
In the lists of names, sometimes there are commas, sometimes not. I've added semi-colons to separate the different farms/touns where miscreants are named, but see below the transcript for a re-sorted list.
"Each End" below refers to the Two Ends of Coll that were in Campbell tenure.

Grisibol ^Col August [21st?] 1735
Sederunt Mr Hector McLean Modr
Allan McLean of Tottranald
John McLean of Grisibol Elders
Donald McDonald
Archibald McLean in Uig

The Session appoints that Sermon
(next page)
should be preached by turns in Each End of this
Country till the next Summer Season
The Session observing the great aversion
of people to come to worship on the Lord's
day are fully resolved to put the laws against
Immorality in Execution against ['em?] and in Con-
sequence of this Resolution have ordered the
persons following to pay fines viz. Hector McIan
oig, John Dugh McRuary, Niel McRory, Don-
ald McIan oig, Niel McIan oig, Innis Mc
Dhonnihough, Murdo McIlluhally, Rory Mc
Ian vc Ewen, Ian McMhurchuigh, Cally Mc
Ruary in Ballihough[;] In Tottamor Ea-
chan McDhoil vc Kerlich, Niel McIan vc Neil[;]
in Faull Donald McRuary, Innis Roy
Niel McFergus[;] in Ardnish Eachen McIll-
hallum, Ian McDhoil vc Ian vc Neil[;] in [Tor?]
Eachan Doil McDhoil vc Neil, Callum McMh-
urchuigh, Cally McOigh, Charles McNeil
It has been observed that Donald Mc
Illispig vc Dhuil (scribble) has two several Lords
days passed by the usual place of worship
in time of Sermon and went about some
other business for which he is to be fined
The Censors appointed to mark such as
were guilty of Immorality on the Lord's day
reported particularly Hector McEwen repor-
ted that Callum McIllespig vc [Cannel?]
was pulling & gathering sticks &
(next page)
Heather on the Sabbath day Ewen McDhoil
vc Eachan reported that Several women in Gall-
anach went late on the Saturdays to fish [some?]
eels and did not return till the Sunday
mornings Muldo-- Mc ----- observed Donald
McIan vc Innis stragling on the Lord's day
Its remarkable that Charles McDhoil vc Kerlich
stragles from place to place on the Lord's day
Ian McDhoil vc Ian McDhoil Charles Mc
McLachlan [mhain?] Gillespig McKinnon in
Knock were all found guilty of Immorality on
the Lord's day as was Donald McInnis vc
Rory in Knock

Re-sorting the list of names:
Hector McIan oig
John Dugh McRuary
Niel McRory
Donald McIan oig
Niel McIan oig
Innis McDhonnihough
Murdo McIlluhally
Rory McIan vc Ewen
Ian McMhurchuigh
Cally McRuary

Eachan McDhoil vc Kerlich
Niel McIan vc Neil

Donald McRuary
Innis Roy
Niel McFergus

Eachen McIllhallum
Ian McDhoil vc Ian vc Neil

Eachan Doil McDhoil vc Neil
Callum McMhurchuigh
Cally McOigh
Charles McNeil oig

Ian McDhoil vc Ian McDhoil
Charles Mc McLachlan [mhain?]
Gillespig McKinnon

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

12 April 2016

Kirk Sessions, Isle of Coll - 7

Click on illustrations to enlarge.
There is no usual sign-off "with prayer."
Pen scratches or splashes occur on the one page.

Grisibol 7th June 1734
After prayer
Sederunt Mr Hector McLean Modr
Allan McLean of Tottranald
John McLean of Grisibol Elders
Hector McLean of Knock

     John McLachlan vc Ian vc Dhoil being
asked if he would own the Child fatherd
upon him by Margaret nin Neil vc
Dhoil Said he would not and Said he was
ready to Depose that he had no guilt with her
But it being suggested by Some of the memb-
ers of the Session that Mary nin Eachan vc
Lachlan [Iar?] was present to their lying in
bed together And the young woman being
put upon oath declared that this young man
the Said Margaret and herself (scribble) being
Lodged in a [little?] hutt She went to bed
befor any of them Soon thereafter this young
man went to bed And that Some time
after the sd Margaret went to bed but
she could not observe her lying with the
said John meanwhile The young man
owns that he lay with this Margaret
once & again for want of bedcloaths
but Disowns guilt with her
Angus McRory mhoir being required
to declare what he heard this
Margaret Say in relation to this af-
fair Says that upon John Mc
(next page)
Lachlan Challenging the Said Margaret
for fathering her Child upon him She
Said that he needed not think shame [for?]
owning her Child and that if he would [own]
the Child [she?] would give him no more
     However on [anyr?] occasion one Nick Cor-
air spouse to John McWilliam vc Rory hav-
ing declared upon oath befor the Session that
Early in the morning she (scribble)
Surprized the Sd John & Sd Margaret
in bed together Stript to their Shirt
No Soul being in the hutt but them[selves]
(scribble) The Sd John confessed his
guilt & owned the Child And Hector
McLean of ^Knock becoming baill for the Sd
John's Submitting to discipline & paying
fines and Lachlan McLean of Toras-
tan becoming baill for Sd Margaret's
Submitting to Censure & paying her fine
The Child was Baptized

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

07 April 2016

Kirk Sessions, Isle of Coll - 6

This is the first entry for 1734.
It covers two and a half pages in the register, the longest entry.
It ended as usual "with prayer" but the clerk added one more item of assistance and two marriages that occurred months later.
"Bail for consignation" money was a deposit made by a relative or friend (sometimes called a cautioner) to the kirk session to ensure that the marriage would take place within a certain time period and the couple would observe chastity until then. The custom was not consistent within the church or across the country. In this case, the money might have been received in March and the clerk was obliged to record later that the events did take place. Canadian family historians may be more familiar with the similar "posting a bond" to ensure the intentions of the proposed marriage.

Ballihough March 28th 1734
After prayer
Sederunt Mr. Hector McLean Modr
The Laird of Coll
Allan McLean of Tottronald Elders
John McLean of Grisibol
Hector McLean of Knock
Donald McDonald

The session finding that there are Several D[elin-]
quents who's fines have not yet been modifyd
do appoint (scribble) John McKerlich vc Neil oig
to pay ten shillings sterling of fines & the
woman that fell with him as many [shilli-]
ngs They also appoint Donald McEa[chan?]
vc Kerlich vc Rory a Relapse in fornication
to pay fifteen shillings sterling
(next page)
[and] the woman that fell with him seven shillings
& six pence
Mary nin Ian vc Eachan a fornicatrix being
Interrogate who was father to her Child Said that it
was John McDhonibaigh vc Ian vc Dhonibaigh
and the said ^John being asked if he had guilt with her
said he had. And being Interrogate about the time
he had guilt with her Said that it was about the
Latter End of May last or the beginning of June
whereas the woman alleges it was about the
Latter End of June Last The Session appoints
the said John to pay Ten Shillings Sterling of
fines & the woman that fell with him seven
shillings & six pence
Fergus McNeil vc Dhoil being Cit
to the Session & having Compeared was Charged
with willfull Desertion in refusing to Cohab
it with his wife And being E(scribble) ----
tly Exhorted to Live with her Said that he
would never Cohabit with her Whereupon
the Session thought it proper to Suspend any Cen-
sure till they Should Consult the Presbytery
[of?] Mull about this affair
Archibald McIan [Iar?] being found
guilty of Stealing a Sheep on the Lord's day
the Session appoints that he Should Stand
befor the Congregation on the next Lord's day
and that he be publickly reproved
The Session moved with the miserable condit-
ion of a fatherless & motherless boy from Tirey
that is much distressed with sickness and Exp-
[osure?] --- to the severity of the weather thro'
(next page)
want of Cloaths did bestow three shillings [ster-]
ling upon him out of the Poor box in order
he may provide himself in some cloaths
The Session appoints John Duigh McKer[lich?]
vc Neil oig to pay three merks of his fines [to?]
old Malcolm McIan vc Dhoil Duigh and
nin Terlich vc Neil oig other three merks of
his fines & The Session shall take --- Am-
The Session appoints John Duigh to pay
the six merks he still owes after paying
the six merks already mentioned to Donald Mc
Ian [mhain?]
The Session appoints Donald McEa-
chan vc Kerlich vc Rory to pay three merks to
a poor blind boy at Tottronald son to Neil
The Session appoints their Collector M[urdoch]
Kennedy to give Donald McIan [mhoir's?]
Children five merks and a half due by Donald
Morison Closd with prayer
The Session appoints two merks & four
pennies to be given to Ter[---]ard in Grisi-
John McDhoil vc [mhurchuigh?] in Feall
and Mary nin Ian were married on the [8th?]
of July 1734 Ter[chaurd?] McDhoil [mhai-]
----- becoming baill for Consignation money
Neil McIan in Faull & Gorm[muill?]
nin Duill married on the 10th of July
1734 John McDonchaig in Faull be-
ing baill for Consignation money
(scribble, end of page and meeting)

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

02 April 2016

Kirk Sessions, Isle of Coll - 5

Scroll down for previous transcriptions here in reverse chronological order:
September 1733 (part 4), August 1733 (part 3), February 1733 (part 2), and 1732 (part 1).

The date here is incomplete, as if the recording clerk forgot to go back and insert the day and month.
Note the system of distributing cash, from the sinners to the deserving.

Grisibol in Coll 1733
after prayer
Sederunt Mr Hector McLean Modr
Lachlan McLean of Torastan )
John McLean of Grisibol ) Elders
Hector McLean of Knock )

Margaret McLean being Cited to Compear
befor this Session and interrogate
(next page)
whether she was with Child as was alleged
She had reason to believe she was and being [int-]
errogate befor the Session who was father to [Child?]
Said it was John McLachlan vc Ian vc Dhoil and
being Interrogate also when he had guilt with her
the fifteenth of June Last and also about a [fort-]
night thereafter
Donald McIan -hoir's Child being also
destitute of all the nowsaries of Life is b---
an object very deserving of Compassion
Session therefor in Consideration of this Child's ---
and also in Commiseration of his sister's Condi[tion?]
appointed Murdoch Kennedy their Collector
give them four merks to Support them in
their Extremity and ordered him to gett this [mo-]
ney from Catharin nin Neil oig a fornicator
Nothing else occurring the Session closd with prayer

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman