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THE HISTORY OF KILSYTH.
The Names of the Parish—Boundaries—Patronage—Baronies— Alexander Livingston—Parliament f 1560—First General Assembly—Relationship of Alex. Livingston to Lord Livingston—Battle of Pinkie—Ordination and Stipend—Commissioner for Stirlingshire—The Case of Lady Livingston—Her Excommunication—Deposition of Minister.
It is popularly and correctly supposed that the earlier name of the parish of Kilsyth was Monyabroch. This, however, is not the whole truth. In the course of its history the parish has been known by three names. The first, or pre-Reformation name was Kelvesyth—a name which carries its meaning on the face of it, and signifies a narrow valley or tract watered by the Kelvin. Some time previous to the Reformation, Kelvesyth gave place to Monyabroch. The change was natural, for the first church of which there is account was placed in the Barrwood, and somewhere near the sources of the Abroch. Monyabroch has had two derivations assigned to it. It has been traced to the Gaelic Maine nan broc, the moss of the brock or badger; but the more likely derivation gives Monaugh, hilly, and ebroch, a place of streams. From the church by the little stream the parish took its second name, by which it was known for
a period of not less than two hundred years. At the Communion there are still used two silver chalices which bear the inscription, "For The Kirk Of Monaebruch. 1731." The removal of the primitive church from the banks of the Abroch to the present parish buryingground would, of course, once more destroy the significance of the second name, and consequently during the latter half of the past century, the parish was denominated by its distinguishing manorial title. These changes of names took place gradually, and during the transition periods the parish was sometimes spoken of by the new and sometimes by the old name.
The parish of Kilsyth lies on the south-west border of Stirlingshire. Its greatest length is seven, and its greatest breadth four miles. On the north it is bounded by Carron Water, on the south by the river Kelvin. The eastern and western boundaries, roughly speaking, are Bush Burn, and Wood Burn. The corresponding parishes, beginning with the eastern boundary, are Denny, Cumbernauld, Kirkintilloch, Campsie, Fintry, and St. Ninian's. In the year 1649 the boundaries of the parish were considerably changed. Before that time it only embraced the district to the eastward of the Garcalt, now Garrel. After that date the important section between the Garrel and Wood Burn was detached from the parish of Campsie and joined to the parish of Kilsyth. That Banton district formed a barony by itself is a popular delusion. When reference is made to the eastern barony of Monyabroch, it invariably includes the whole of the district between Denny marches and the Garrel.
Just as the history of Scotland is very largely the history of the Church of Scotland, so the history of Scottish parishes is very largely the history of the parish churches. The old and venerable walls frequently cluster memories older and greener than the ivy that clings to them. The parish of Kilsyth is no exception to this rule, as much of its history pertains to the religious life and struggles of its parishioners. The patronage of the Church is of very ancient origin, and has passed through various vicissitudes. Six hundred and seventyfive years ago it was in the possession of the Earls of Lennox. Subsequently it passed with the lands of Kilsyth into the possession of the Callendars of that Ilk. From the Callendars it passed to the Livingstons through the marriage of Sir William Livingston to the heiress of that attainted family. The Lords Livingston of Callendar retained the patronage of the parish till 1620, in which year the eastern barony was assigned to William Livingston of Monyabroch, who already possessed the lands from the Garrel to the Wood or Inch Burn—that is, the western barony. In this family it remained till 1716, when Viscount Kilsyth was attainted. The patronage then reverted to the Crown, and was held by the Royal authority till 1875, when it was placed in the hands of the people.
There have now been, since 1560, eighteen ministers in the clerical Reformed succession of the parish, this number giving an average of a little over eighteen years for each incumbency. Of these clergymen some were ordained and lived and died in the parish; others were inducted to the parish, some received calls from other congregations, some resigned, and some were deposed or banished. These clergymen have for the most part been men of very considerable mark, enjoying in a remarkable degree the esteem and confidence of their parishioners. The first of this long line was the Rev. Alexander Livingston, who, having been presented by William, sixth Lord Livingston, was admitted to the parish near the close of 1560.
The date is an important one in our national and ecclesiastical annals. Fourteen years before, George Wishart was burned at the stake. After the fire had been lit, he said, "This flame hath scorched my body, yet it hath not daunted my spirit." Two years previously Walter Mill had also gained the martyr's crown. When he was about to be offered, this was his memorable confession—" I am four score years old and cannot live long by course of nature, but an hundred better shall arise out of the ashes of my bones. I trust I shall be the last that shall suffer death in Scotland for this cause." And he was right, but although he was the last of the Reformation martyrs there was still much blood to be shed and a sea of trouble in store for the Church. The chief man of the time was Knox, and his voice was heard thundering throughout the land. The Parliament which met in August, 1560, substituted the new discipline for the old. Before it Knox's Confession was read and approved without a single dissentient voice. The First Book of Discipline was also submitted to the nation and fully ratified. This book entrusted the affairs of the Church to superintendents, ministers, elders, and deacons. The sacred books of Scripture were to be read in order— the readers not "to hip from place to place as the Papists did." The Lord's Supper was to be administered twice a year. Two sermons were to be preached every Sunday in country parishes, and in towns there was to be a daily service. Marriages were ordered to be performed "in open face and audience of the kirk," and it was further recommended that they be performed on the Sunday at the forenoon service. On the 20th December, the first General Assembly was held. It consisted of forty members, only six of whom were ministers. There was no commissioner from the Sovereign present, and it was not till a subsequent assembly it was resolved that