63010: The Disruption

The ‘Disruption’ was the name given to the schism in the Church of Scotland leading to a break in 1845.

The main cause was the division over lay patronage i.e. the right of the Estate owners to nominate a person to a charge (parish) regardless of the wishes of the congregation. Matters came to a head in 1843 when those opposed to lay patronage, including – indeed led – by four ministers in Lewis finally severed their bonds with the Established Church to form the Free Church.

Confusion followed, the ministers who had joined the Free Church were left with no churches to preach in, or manses to live in. It is said that there were 150 vacant congregations and only 31 preachers available.

There was also bitter division within families, with some members staying in the Established church and others going with their dissident preachers to the new Free Church.

Record Type:
Historical Event
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