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the Sovereign might be present in person or by a substitute if he or she saw fit. The unanimity of the Presbyterian fathers in General Assembly convened was so great that during the first seven meetings a moderator was not elected.
The Parliament having met in August, and the first General Assembly in December, it is evident that the ordination of Alexander Livingston to Kilsyth parish takes us back to the very root, to the very beginning, of the Reformed Church of Scotland. There are those who would have us believe that he was the very first minister appointed under the new order. They are not without reasonable arguments to make good their case, but the point has been largely lost sight of in view of the dispute which has taken place as to the relationship in which Alexander Livingston stood to his patron. The dispute has an international interest, as certain American writers have been anxious to show that Robert Livingston, one of the signatories of the Declaration of Independence and the descendant of the Rev. Alexander Livingston, had no connection with the Scottish aristocratic family of that name. The last discussion was held in the columns of the Atheneum for 1892, pp. 281, 282, 507, 569. The disputants were Mr. E. B. Livingston, of London, author of "The Livingstons of Callendar,” than whom there could not be a more painstaking • or learned authority, and Mr. Theodore Roosevelt of Washington, U.S., author of “The History of New York.” The former held that Robert Livingston had the bluest of Scottish blood in his veins, and had the best of the argument. The latter, on the other hand, if he has the worst of the debate, can without doubt claim a monopoly of the pungent writing. The discussion has shown that the exact relationship that existed between
the minister and his patron cannot now be determined, but that indisputably it was of a close and legitimate kind. The American writers insist that if there was any blood relationship it must have been of a dishonourable character, and that Alexander Livingston was either an illegitimate son of William, sixth Lord Livingston, or that he was the son of an illegitimate son. They also allege that the fact that Alexander Livingston became a minister of the Reformed Church, is in itself evidence enough of his plebeian origin, seeing no nobleman's son would have occupied, or ever did occupy such a position. Neither of these allegations is of any value. The Rev. Alexander Livingston could not have been an illegitimate child, because if he had been a bastard the Church of the day would not have admitted him to Holy Orders. The clergy lists of the time, furthermore, make it evident that a considerable number of the sons and kinsmen of the nobility of Scotland entered the ministry of the Reformed Church of Scotland. The truth is, the clergy of those days were, in general, persons of considerable rank and social position. The best evidence of all, however, is the open use we find the minister making of his seal, which shows on the field the quartered arms of Livingston and Callendar. The laws relating to heraldry were, at that time, so strict, that this last witness may be held as closing the evidence of his intimate and honourable connection with the Viscounts of Kilsyth.
In September, 1547, the English Protector, Somerset, invaded Scotland. He was animated by implacable hatred, and at Pinkie there was fought one of the bloodiest battles ever waged on Scottish soil. The victory of the English was complete and the carnage among the Scotch appalling. There had been no disaster to compare with it since Flodden. In this
battle the father of Alexander Livingston was killed.
The battle confirmed the prophecy of Thomas the Rhymer :
“ There shall the Lion lose the gylte,
And the Libbards bear it clean away ;
Much gentil bluid that day.”
The Lion of the stanza refers, of course, to Scotland; and the Libbards or Leopards to England. The Scots remembered the day by the name of the “Black Saturday.” The warlike propensities of this Pinkie Cleuch hero may probably be taken as evidence that the Livingstons of the Scottish Church were sprung from a bold and resolute stock.
Till there came upon the Rev. Alexander Livingston the frailties incident to advancing years he did his work in the parish faithfully. Some months after he entered on his charge he was obliged to feu half of his glebe for the low rent of five shillings and twopence sterling. The stipend had been ten chalders of meal in the old times, but for some years after the Reformation it appears to have been greatly reduced. These early ministers had good reason to complain of the greed of the landed proprietors, who simply despoiled the Church of five-sixths of her property. Although the old ship was getting a new crew, that was no reason for entering her lockers and robbing her of her specie. “Well,” exclaimed Knox, on hearing of the arrangement made by the lords of the congregation, “ if the end of this order be happy, my judgment fails me. I see two parts given to the devil, and the third part must be divided between God and the devil.” The scandal was too open and glaring, and some little part of the stolen property was
infirm yetes after, howement andre
restored, but there can be no doubt Alexander Livingston must have shared for some years the privations experienced by his brethren throughout the Church.
In 1589, Livingston was appointed by the Privy Council one of the commissioners for the oversight of the Protestant Government and religion in Stirlingshire. Two years after, however, he had become so aged and infirm that he could neither preach nor exercise discipline. In the circumstances the presbytery advised him to get an assistant, but not till 1594 did they themselves take steps before the synod towards that end. What instructions this synod gave is not known, but seeing the minister of Monyabroch had a son who was then studying at the University of Glasgow with a view to the ministry, the matter was probably allowed to drop, the son being then able to give his father substantial help in the proper discharge of his parochial duties.
Considering the disturbed state of the country, the life of Alexander Livingston had up to this year been spent in greater quiet than might have been expected. At this time, however, he became involved in an extraordinary case, which worked eventually his overthrow and deposition. The opinions of Lady Livingston had not conformed to those of the Reformers. Sticking to the old rites and observances, her conduct gave much scandal to the elders of the kirk. She was regarded by them as “a malicious Papist.” In the circumstances Livingston, because he was “in near relation to the house of Callendar, and because Lord Livingston was his patron, and probably also because he was a man of mature years and large experience, and so, capable of dealing with a matter requiring delicate handling, was appointed by the Presbytery of Glasgow to wait in person on Lady Livingston
and summon her to appear before them on the 13th April. The lady not being resident within the bounds of his parish it would have been well for him if he had put in a plea of want of jurisdiction when he felt the task to be uncongenial. This, however, he did not do. At their meeting Lady Livingston did not compear, and the letter she sent was regarded as wholly unsatisfactory. Mr. Livingston was again charged to wait on her ladyship for the second time, and to be present himself at the meeting to which she was summoned. Of this second call Lady Livingston took no notice. On the 23rd April, the minister of Monyabroch was commanded to summon her for the third time to attend before the presbytery on the 15th day thereafter," on pain of excommunication,” and “that the said lady may be won to God, the said presbytery ordains Mr. Patrick Sharp, Principal of the College of Glasgow, and Mr. John Cooper, to pass to the said lady on Friday this week, and confer with said lady anent the heads of religion.” The commissioners exercised diligence in the matters entrusted to them, but were unable to convince Lady Livingston of the error of her ways. On the ist March, 1597, “the presbytery ordains every minister within this presbytery to intimate next Sunday that Dame Helenor Hay, Lady Livingston, is excommunicated, and Mr, Alexander Livingston to do the same on pain of deposition.”
The whole conduct of Alexander Livingston in this matter greatly incensed the presbytery. He had been throughout lukewarm and reluctant, and during the progress of the case they had made this grave comment as to the state of his parish: -“ As to Monyabroch,” they noted, “neither exercise nor discipline is keepit by the minister there.” Only a few weeks after the sentence of excommunication was promulgated against her ladyship,