Trace a career

This guide was last updated in 2009

After attending University and Divinity College, a ministerial candidate had to be licensed to preach by his local Presbytery and after probation, could be called to a charge by the elders of a parish.

Details of probation and ministry are recorded in the minutes of the kirk session and presbytery. Not all calls to a minister were undisputed – particularly when a landowner used his patronage to choose a candidate – and such cases were heard before the General Assembly.

Some ministers were called upon to refute charges of unfitting conduct – again heard before the General Assembly – the Church’s highest court. There were many such accusations in the 1690’s, when ministers, appointed under Episcopalian rule, were “outed”, charged with swearing, being “supinlie negligent”, or “dancing shamefully”.

The minutes of the kirk session give a detailed picture of the day to day duties of the minister in his parish. He presided over meetings and dealt with cases of fornication, adultery, Sabbath breaking, swearing, overseeing care of the poor and was kept busy visiting parishioners and conducting baptisms, marriages, funerals and weekly services.

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