Index for Chapters XXI-XXIX

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Chapter XXIV: The Abercorns and the Kirk

“REVEREND SIR,—Having been long destitute of a minister, to every one of our particular griefs, and to the general regret of every true professor, according to God's Providence and the desire of our hearts, ye was called to us by every kind of consent requisite; and finding some private impediments, as ye wrote to us, we meaned ourselves to Lord Ross, as present chief of our parish, and having the chiefest desire of our design, whereupon his Lordship, being sensibly touched, went into Glasgow on Wednesday last, accompanied with some gentlemen of the parish, who, for his Lordship's special interest, and for the whole parishioners in general, took occasion to deal earnestly with the Bishop of Glasgow ; that by his Lordship's worthy, zealous, and careful endeavours, we are not only in hope, but confident that immediately after your return to us, the Bishop will remove all whatsoever impediments as may hinder you from using that talent which in itself is so precious and so necessary to be applied to us, presently destitute of the sweet comfort of the gospel.”

The letter finishes with many fervent expressions of attachment to Mr. Boyd, and desires that he and they “might perfect the marriage made in heaven for the advancement of God's glory.” The divine, however, did not shew any great desire to form this tie : there were difficulties as to his being admitted to the enjoyment of the temporalities of the cure, to which he was far from being indifferent, and he feared that his induction during the absence of the Earl would be displeasing to his Lordship, “notwithstanding of the pains of that worthy nobleman Lord Ross.” His scruples were overcome, and he was inducted by the Presbytery in the Abbey Church on the 1st January, 1626. He left Paisley immediately afterwards for three months, until he should see how the Abercorns would receive his appointment, leaving a letter for the Earl, in which he tells how he had been pressed to come, and “begs, as the house which he should have cannot be soon repaired, he might be allowed the use of some chamber in the Abbey. He had requested it of his mother, but had been referred to him.” In his absence, a certain David Alexander writes him
[4] “that a person had been engaged to collect his stipend ; that they long after him, because they sometimes want sermon, and because of Mr. Robert Park's sickness, no prayers have been read these fourteen days; [5] that they hear my Lord the Earl of Abercorn sent his servant from Paris to London, and his servant writes to his own wife that my Lord will be in Scotland before Pasch. As to the making patent of your house, there is no word of it, since it cannot be known in whose hands the keys are.” The Earl did not return so soon as expected; and Mr. Boyd came back to his cure. He was kindly received by many of his people, but “the potent dame,” Lady Abercorn, gave him no welcome. “I do not design,” he writes, “to continue long here. I am just now come from Blackstoun, where I found Lady Abercorn. She is so coldly disposed toward me that I expect no friendship or courtesy on her part. She denies me that she has received any letter or news from her son relating to me; and when she gets anything from him, I believe she will rather suppress it than put it in my hand. It is believed here that the Earl is to receive a (coup de pied) disaster as to his Abbey. [6] Pray to the Lord not only to vouchsafe me courage and strength for accomplishing this charge, and sustain me under the burden of it, but also patience to bear me up when at a distance from my family.” He had need of all the courage he could get. The treatment he received was very violent, and has been described by Wodrow. “He was ordained to have his manse in the forehouse of the Abbey, as the most convenient place for that use; [7] and having put his books and a bed thereintill, he being preaching in the afternoon, the Master of Paisley, being the Earl of Abercorn's brother, with some others, came to the minister's house, none being therein, and cast all his books to the ground, and thereafter locked the doors, whereby the minister should have no entry thereafter thereunto. And afterward the matter being complained of to the Lords of the Secret Council, and the Master of Paisley compearing, and the Bailies of Paisley with him, the Lords would have warded the said Master for some short space. The Master confessed with sorrow that he had done this wrong, and therefore the said Mr. Robert declared to the Council that he desired not the Master to be warded ; but, in hope that things would be done better thereafter, he passed from the complaint. This the Master promised to do, and the Council ordained him to be repossessed, and so the matter passed over.

[4] 1st February, 1626.
[5] Mr. Park was teacher of the Grammar School and reader in the church. The prayers to which Mr. Alexander refers were those in “The Book of Common Order,” which were read in the Abbey daily.
[6] This refers to a threatened resumption by the Crown of all the property of the Church.
[7] This was because he could not get possession of the regular manse of the parish.