39067: Free Church of Scotland

The Free Church of Scotland was formed when about a third of ministers and adherents left the Church of Scotland (or the Established Church) at the Disruption of 1843. At issue was state intervention in spiritual matters including the appointment of ministers by the landowners.  There were also differences between the Established ministers, who were moderate and broadminded, and the Free Church ministers, who were orthodox and evangelical.

In Lewis, four ministers, at Uig, Knock, Lochs and Crossbost joined the Free Church and two, Stornoway and Barvas, remained with the Established Church. Two Free Church presbyteries were formed in the Outer Hebrides, Uist and Lewis.

Most of the Free Church was subsequently united with the United Presbyterian Church of Scotland in 1900, forming the United Free Church of Scotland, and this in turn re-united (in its majority) with the Church of Scotland in 1929. Consequently some Free Church buildings from the 1840s, like that in Miavaig, are now Church of Scotland.

A small part of the original Free Church rejected the union of 1929 and retained the Free Church name. A further schism ensued in 2000, resulting in the Free Church (Continuing). Further history and information about current congregations can be found on the Free Church of Scotland and Free Church (Continuing) websites.

Free Church Schools

The Free Church provided education through its network of Free Church Schools.

By 1850 the Ladies Highland Association had been formed to in order to supply ministers, and schools, to remote areas. These schools were known as Sgoil na Leddies (Ladies Schools).

By 1871 the number of Free Church Schools had decreased. By 1874 the only ones left were Back, Callanish, Shawbost and Stornoway.

They were discontinued when the national education system took over. 

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