Evidence of Episcopalianism

I posted a message on a Scottish genealogy forum about the presence/absence of Episcopal Church records in the Old Parish Records for Scotland, and I’ve had one response which claims that the OPRs only registered Presbyterian (i.e. Church of Scotland) events, and furthermore that there’s no centralised or online source for Episcopalian records.

I’m still digesting this information, and its implications for the OPR records that I have found for Robbs in the Fisherford area of Aberdeenshire. If the William, James, George and Charles Robb born in that vicinity in the mid-18th century are not ‘our’ Robbs, then who are they? And isn’t it too much of a coincidence that children with these names should be born in this area at this time?

In the meantime, I thought it would be useful to re-cap on our reasons for assuming that ‘our’ Robbs were Episcopalians. The first and most direct clue is that, according to the family Bible, my 3 x great grandparents, Charles Edward Stuart Robb and Margaret Ricketts Monteith, baptised their first child Matilda at St. Paul’s Chapel, Aberdeen on 31st March 1805. St. Paul’s was one of the most famous, and reputedly the wealthiest, Episcopal church in Scotland: Byron attended briefly as a child. On moving to Yorkshire, Charles and Margaret had their children baptised in Anglican churches (the C of E being the sister church of  the Scottish Episcopal Church), and when Margaret died in London she was buried at the Anglican church of St. Martin the Fields.

Then, there is the statement by my 2 x great grandfather William Robb, in his 1880 memorandum, that his father was told of the death of his uncle, Rev. William Robb, by ‘Bishop Law, Primo of Scotland’. Now, whether because of  the younger William’s fading memory or later transcription errors, there are a couple of mistakes here. The correct term is ‘Primus’, not ‘Primo’, and I’ve been unable to find a ‘Bishop Law’ in Scotland at the time, and certainly not one who was Primus. The most likely candidate is David Low, who was Bishop of Ross, and would have been well-known to Rev. William Robb, who succeeded him as the incumbent at Pittenweem. Anyway, in Scotland it is Episcopalians and not Presbyterians who have bishops and a ‘primus’ (hence their name).

As mentioned in an earlier post, we know that some Episcopalian ceremonies found their way into the Church of Scotland records, since the marriage of Charles’ brother George to Penelope Thomson, carried out by ‘Rev. William Robb, Episcopal minister in St. Andrews’, is mentioned in the Glasgow OPRs for 1805. It’s interesting, though, that the clerk makes a point of mentioning William’s affiliation, as if this were an unusual event.

One of the many outstanding mysteries is the family Bible’s record of the marriage of Charles and Margaret, which is said to have taken place at St. Mungo’s, Glasgow, on 15th October 1802. Firstly, I understand that St. Mungo’s is Church of Scotland, not Episcopal. Secondly, I can find no mention of this event in the OPRs.

Footnote

I forgot to mention one additional piece of evidence. If James Robb, hanged for murder in 1849, is indeed the grandson of James Robb, brother of Charles Edward Stuart Robb, then the account of his execution is further proof, since it mentions that he was brought up in the Scottish Episcopal Church (see this post).

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One Response to Evidence of Episcopalianism

  1. Pingback: Rev William Robb: Episcopalian convert? « Martin Robb’s Family History Blog

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