Strathmiglo Church History
The material for this submission was extracted from “Strathmiglo and its Church” by the late Rev Dr James Laird. Minister of Strathmiglo Parish Church. 1967 - 1973
One of the essentials for the establishment of a church is the knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a particular area. The Culdees were Celtic Christians living as monks and there were Culdee settlements at Loch Leven, Abernethy, St Andrews and Dunkeld. In 1160, Malcolm 1V of Scotland granted the lands of Strathmiglo to Duncan, Earl of Fife. In those days it was the practice for the laird to build a church on his lands and appoint a priest to administer the sacraments. Once such a church was in existence the men and women resident in the surrounding area who worshipped in that church came to be recognised as ‘living within the parish’. The parish of Strathmiglo stretched from Gospetry in the west to Easter Cash in the east. Ledenurquhart and Kincraigie in the north to Drumdreel and Urquharts in the south and all adjacent areas.
The Parliament of Scotland sanctioned the reformed confession of faith abolishing the Pope’s jurisdiction in Scotland in 1560. At this time of the Reformation, the people of Strathmiglo warmly adopted the new doctrines and, as a result, the minister Gilbert Seaton, who had been appointed to the vicarage in 1551 was deprived of his church in 1560 although he remained in possession of the tiends until he died in 1573. Thus it was that George Leslie, minister from 1562 was unpaid and employing others to do the work while Gilbert Seaton was paid but doing no work. When eventually Rev. William Bradefute received the tiends, he was ministering to the parishes of Kilgour
( Falkland) and Lathrisk as well as Strathmiglo. There was a great shortage of ministers of the Reformed Church.
Rev John Rigg came to Strathmiglo in 1655 from Ferry Port on Craig where he had been very popular. Not long after his arrival he conformed to Episcopacy .It was recorded that he was deserted by the greater part of his congregation who, retaining their Presbyterian sympathies went to worship at Auchtermuchty. Even the elders, it is said attended at the collection at the front door on the Sunday morning and then went to Auchtermuchty and came back at night to dispute with their own minister in the Session House.
The restoration of Charles 11 to the throne in 1660 led to renewed attempts to impose Bishops on the Church of Scotland. Those who opposed bishops resorted to armed rebellion. In 1667, attending worship meetings in the open air was considered treason and preaching at these field meetings was a capital offence. In 1687 under the rule of James 11 this was relaxed and there was more freedom to worship for those who maintained the Presbyterian cause but this breach was too deep to heal easily. In Strathmiglo, the minister David Barclay was a supporter of the Episcopal cause and those who had been alienated from the Church had a separate place of worship erected at the west end of the village. With the coming to the throne of William and Mary of Orange the Episcopal cause was identified with the Jacobite cause. David Barclay was deprived of his charge because he could not pray for William and Mary. This paved the way for a reunion of the Church in Strathmiglo under Rev Alexander Auchmoutie. Probably because of lasting bitterness between the two sections of the congregation, communion was not celebrated for 11 years and it was only after the appointment of Rev George Gillespie to the church that the sacrament of Holy Communion was once again celebrated.
During his ministry the Rev George Gillespie and his Kirk Session successfully staved of the establishment of a Secession Church in the Parish. The Act of Parliament of 1712 vested in certain lairds the right to choose the minister for their parishes. The Rev Ebenezer Erskine of Portmoak suffered under this legislation and he and his friends
formed the Secession Church. It was not until 80 years later that a Secession Church was established at Edenshead.
George Gillespie was succeeded in the charge by his grandson Rev George Lyon. Between these two men God and the Parish of Strathmiglo were served for 96 years.
During the ministry of Rev George Lyon, the landowners responsible for the maintenance of the church decided that a new one would have to be built in the south west corner of the Glebe because the old one in the cemetery was falling down. The estimate from George Kilgour from Kirkcaldy for £192.6.6 was accepted and the architect was James Ballingall. The local farms provided the carriage for the materials according to the number of ploughs they had and it seems that some of the material from the old church was incorporated. General Skene and others expressed some anxiety about the quality of the workmanship however the church was completed and the seats divided among the landowners in October 1784. A Manse had been built in 1783.
The Reformed Presbyterian Church sought a site for a Church in the village of Strathmiglo in 1824. But it was not until 1829 that a minister was appointed.
Meanwhile there were a considerable number of dissenters from the established church in the Parish because they disagreed with the policy that a laird could choose a minister for the Church. These people travelled to worship in various places and then there were also those in the west end of the parish who found the Parish Church inconveniently situated. In May 1825, Rev Dr Pringle from the Secession Presbytery of Perth instituted the church in Edenshead by holding a service in a tent. The church building was completed later that year.
Thus there were three churches in the parish with a fourth about to be established. The patronage act of 1712 also troubled the Established Church and in 1843 came the great disruption. Permission was sought from the feuars of Strathmiglo to build a Free Church which was quickly erected and later became Strathmiglo Public Hall. The Reformed Presbyterians built another church in the High St where the present Church Hall is located.
There were now 4 churches in the Parish but in 1876 the Reformed Church and the Free Church were united in a nationwide union. Those churches in Strathmiglo became known as the North and South Free Churches. It was not until 1899 that the South Free Church closed and the members were supposed to attend the north Free Church. Many, however, returned to the established church instead.
The Free Church and the Parish Church united in 1929 at the same time as the Parish of Edenshead was formed with its Parish Church being the former Secession church which had also been a United Presbyterian Church, a United Free Church and then Church of Scotland. Some members of the former United Free congregations felt that the principles of the United Free Church had not been sufficiently protected by the terms of the agreement of the General Assemblies and left to form a new congregation in Strathmiglo called the United Free Church
The Parish Church of Edenshead (in Gateside) and the Parish Church of Strathmiglo formed a union in 1981. The United Free Church integrated with the Parish Church in 1986
Linkage with Auchtermuchty Church. October 1st. 2007.