Thomas Guthrie

More Tales of the Disruption, and its Tragedies
After the Walk-out - where do the people worship?

The more usual case was that which happened, at almost the same time, to Dr. Thomas Guthrie of Edinburgh. In this case the Duke - Janet Fraser's Duke - was proprietor of the parish, and as landlord refused a site. The miserable people quietly withdrew to a waste spot of barren moor, and met there in the open air. The Duke's factor and agent instantly served an interdict on the trespassers, evicting them from even their open-air meeting on the waste. Henceforth they had no place on which to worship except the cross-roads on the public highway, and one Monday morning, after preaching to them there, Dr. Guthrie sat down to tell his experiences.
"Well wrapped up, I drove out yesterday morning to Canobie, the hills white with snow, the roads covered ankle deep in many places with slush, the wind high and cold, thick rain lashing on, and the Esk by our side all the way, roaring in the snowflood between bank and brae. We passed Johnnie Armstrong's Tower, yet strong even in its ruins, and after a drive of four miles, a turn of the road brought me in view of a scene which was overpowering, and would have brought the salt tears into the eyes of any man of common humanity."
Dr. Guthrie's driver broke into sobs as he explained that the five hundred people waiting under some leafless trees on the turnpike road were the congregation who had been refused first a site to build, and then a site to stand upon; and who now waited on for hours under the driving rain till they had sung their last psalm on that fierce February day. It was not there only. So late as 1847 there were still thirty-one cases in Scotland in which sites were absolutely refused; besides many others in which very inconvenient and humiliating places were deliberately offered - offered, too, to tenants who frequently had the threat of eviction held over them if they ventured to build even upon these.
(From "Studies in Scottish History" by Taylor Innes)
See the whole chapter here..

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