the radical reformation

first of all, let me apologize upfront for getting ahead of myself in this post. i wasn’t going to write this post until after i covered more thoroughly, and on an individual basis, the histories of the mating patterns/family types for each of the countries discussed in this post — as i did for ireland recently (4+ posts) — but i’m too impatient to wait for me to get that done! so you’ll just have to trust me for the meantime as i give you some abridged versions of the mating pattern histories for these european societies. i promise to cover them all in greater depth in the near future! (i’ve actually already looked at most of them to some degree or another in the “mating patterns in europe series” below ↓ in left-hand column.)

this post is about the radical reformation and its connections to the long-term mating patterns/family types of various european populations beginning in the medieval period. please keep in mind that i’m about to paint a picture in VERY broad strokes. this is an idea which will likely change, if not be debunked completely by me, myself, and/or someone(s) else out there.

to begin with, the reformation (primarily lutheranism) seems to have been a reaction on the part of the northern european outbreeding populations — which, thanks to intensive outbreeding and the new social structures/selection pressures which followed from that, were becoming more and more individualistic/universalistic over time — to the relatively more clannish/particularistic attitudes and behaviors of inbreeding southern europeans (italians, for example) that infused the roman catholic church of the day. (for more on individualism/universalism vs. clannishness/particularism see here and here and here.) the northern europeans — in this case the germans — wanted, amongst other things, to have a more personal interaction with god (i.e. reflecting their greater individualism, i think), and they were also reacting strongly (as good individualists/universalists do) to all of the corruption in the roman catholic church.

but this post isn’t about them. rather, it’s about the reactionaries to these reactionaries — mainly the calvinists (including the puritans) and the anabaptists, but also arminianism and (later) methodism and (even later, one my favorite groups) the unitarians. obviously this is not a comprehensive listing of all the radical reformers — like i said, broad strokes.

let’s first remind ourselves about the general pattern of outbreeding (i.e. the avoidance of cousin marriage) in northwestern europe — where it started in the early medieval period and how it spread.

some of the earliest evidence for outbreeding/nuclear families (the two go together) in early medieval europe appears in the frankish kingdom of austrasia and, shortly afterwards, in the anglo-saxon kingdom of wessex (see map below). this is where medieval manorialism started (see mitterauer’s Why Europe?), and, as i’ve discussed previously (see also here), manorialism and outbreeding — not to mention late marriage — all went together as a package.

here’s a map that i made previously of the extent and spread of manorialism in medieval europe based on mitterauer’s book — i’ve indicated the core spots where manorialism started in green:

extent and spread of manorialism

for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, manorialism spread outwards from austrasia mainly to the east and southeast — not so much to the west or southwest. from mitterauer [pgs. 45-46 – links added by me]:

“The most significant expansion of the model agricultural system in the Frankish heartland between the Seine and the Rhine took place toward the east. Its diffusion embraced almost the whole of central Europe and large parts of eastern Europe. The German term for this, *Ostkolonisation* — the ‘colonization of the East’ (the *German* colonization of the East is what is understood here) — has suffered from the abuses of nationalist historiography; but if we leave these connotations aside, the word hits the nail on the head. This great colonizing process, which transmitted Frankish agricultural structures and their accompanying forms of lordship…”

AND mating patterns via the church and secular laws…

“…took off at the latest around the middle of the eighth century. Frankish majordomos or kings from the Carolingian house introduced manorial estates (*Villikation*) and the hide system (*Hufenverfassung*) throughout the royal estates east of the Rhine as well — in Mainfranken (now Middle Franconia), in Hessia, and in Thuringia. Research on German historical settlement refers to ‘Frankish state colonization’ in this context…. The eastern limit of the Caronlingian Empire was for a long time an important dividing line between the expanding Frankish agricultural system and eastern European agricultural structures…..”

AND an important dividing line between mating patterns/family types, i.e. there was more outbreeding for a longer period of time, and smaller nuclear families rather larger extended families, the farther WEST of that eastern limit of the carolingian empire that one went.

“When the push toward colonization continued with more force in the High Middle Ages, newer models of *Rentengrundherrschaft* predominated — but they were still founded on the hide system. This pattern was consequently established over a wide area: in the Baltic, in large parts of Poland, in Bohemia, Moravia and parts of Slovakia, in western Hungary, and in Slovenia. Colonization established a line stretching roughly from St. Petersburg to Trieste. We will come across this line again when studying European family systems and their diffusion. The sixteenth century witnessed the last great attempt to establish the hide system throughout an eastern European region when King Sigismund II of Poland tried it in the Lithuanian part of his empire in what is modern-day Belarus. The eastward expansion of Frankish agrarian reform therefore spanned at least eight centuries….

“The more ancient agrarian economic structures of the East and the newer structures of the West stood in especially strong contrast to each other in the areas annexed by the colonization of the East.”

the region that was austrasia is today comprised of: a bit of northeastern france, a bit of western germany, belgium, luxembourg, and the netherlands. this — along with wessex (and, probably, western kent) in southern england — is the area of northwestern europe where the medieval outbreeding project began, so this is the region of europe that we should expect to be the most individualistic/universalistic and that should have started to show those features the earliest.

and, indeed, by the 1300-1400s, cousin and other forms of close marriage were a non-issue in these regions of former austrasia as well as southern, and even central, england — they simply don’t appear in ecclesiastical court records. in the 1200s, the english were already very individualistic and busy in the early stages of inventing liberal democracy, while by the 1500s, places like amsterdam were reknowned for their religious and intellectual tolerance and were positively multi-cultural. this is all in stark contrast to peripheral europe — places like the highlands of scotland, ireland, the iberian peninsula, southern italy, greece and the balkans, and pretty much all of eastern europe east of the hajnal line — which were all very clannish places throughout the medieval period, and even later in many of those regions.

so what does this have to do with the radical reformers? well, check out this map (taken from here. anthony suggested that i add the calvinists in england, i.e. the puritans+some others, to the map, so i did — based upoon hackett fischer’s Albion’s Seed, i added purple stripes [didn’t know if it should be stripes or solid, so i just went for stripes] to east anglia and the wiltshire/somerset area.):

religious divisions of europe map + puritans

i know that there’s a lot going on on this map, but what strikes me is that, the less universalistic reformers — the calvinists and the anabaptists (some of whom formed very closed, non-universalistic groups like the amish and the mennonites) — are found in the border regions between or including both outbreeders and inbreeders — i.e. between the roman catholics and the lutherans (and, later, the anglicans).

– scotland: we find calvinists mostly in the scottish lowlands which is practically a dmz between the clannish highlanders & islanders and the clannish border reivers. throughout the medieval period in scotland, there was more feudalism/manorialism in lowland scotland than in the highland areas, which, being mountainous, were populated by pastoralists — and pastoralists/mountaineers tend to be inbreeders. so, given the presence of manorialism, outbreeding was probably encouraged at least somewhat in the lowlands. also, a good number of foreigners from the continent settled in the lowlands in the medieval period, some of whom had been outbreeders back from whence they came. from A History of Everyday Life in Medieval Scotland: 1000 to 1600 (the chapter entitled The Family):

“The Historiographer Royal, Chris Smout, has commented memorably that, ‘Highland society was based on kinship modified by feudalism, Lowland society on feudalism tempered by kinship’, although even this statement needs further refinement. There is the additional complication that, as late as the twelfth century, the kingdom of the Scots was an amalgam of several different peoples: by the reign of King David I (1124-53) the Picts may have been a distant memory but David and his successors regularly addressed the men of their realm as *Francis* (a description which included French, Normans and Bretons), *Anglis* and *Scottis*, and sometimes also as Cumbrians and Galwegians.”

so kinship was still important to the lowlanders — as is evidenced by lowland scottish clans — but they were less clannish than the highlanders.

– england: we’ve got calvinists (puritans) in east anglia and southwestern england (but not cornwall), pretty much bordering either side of wessex where manorialism was first founded in england and where, therefore, outbreeding is likely to have the longest history on the island. at least the wiltshire/somerset area bounds on the wessex area. we’ve also seen previously that east anglia (and eastern kent) never experienced manorialism AND had a tendency towards extended families, so this, too, was probably a region that didn’t experience as much outbreeding as south-central england did. the east anglians don’t sound at all as clannish as, say, the medieval or even early modern irish, but extended family ties lingered until quite late, so it may be that this region of england saw some sort of intermediary range of outbreeding. (further research is required!)

– northern france/belgium/the netherlands: according to my theory, this region shouldn’t have any calvinists or anabaptists (reactionary radical reformers) at all, since this is smack-dab in the middle of what was once austrasia. the thing is, though: frisia. the frisians along the coastal areas of the netherlands never experienced manorialism and, in fact, remained very clannish until very late — as a group, they were very independent-spirited (quite like, say, the scots-irish) and took pride in their “frisian freedom.” in fact, the entire coastline of northern europe from the netherlands to denmark was inhabited by group-oriented, likely inbreeding (although i don’t know that for sure — still need to find out) groups who lived in the swampy areas of the coast — from the frisians in the netherlands to the ditmarsians in northern germany. the east anglians can really be considered a part of these clannish coastal swamp dwellers, too. the (likely) close mating in these populations didn’t happen as a result of remote mountain dwelling, but, rather, from living in remote, inaccessible corners of these swamp lands. (did i mention that menno simons, the founder of the mennonites, was a frisian?)

– southern france: i don’t have a good idea at all of the historic mating patterns for southern france, but if the modern patterns are anything to go by (and they might not be), then greater numbers of close marriages are likely for southern france. this is also indicated by the topography (upland/mountainous) of the region. certainly the hotspots of calvinism in southern france seem to coincide with the mountainous areas. even the area northwest of tours, too. further research is required!

– switzerland: switzerland is more mountainous to the south than the north (although it’s pretty mountainous all over!). according to the map above, the calvinists were located solidly in the northern part of the country, and not really in the south. on the other hand, according to this other map, they were in the west and not in the east. not sure who to believe, so i need to do more reading on the reformation in switzerland. i can tell you, though, (and you’ll have to trust me on this for now), that historically there’s been more and closer inbreeding up in the mountain villages in switzerland rather than in the valleys. again, though, switzerland seems to be an example of the reactionary radical reformation happening in border areas between inbreeders and outbreeders — not sure which of the groups adopted calvinism, though! perhaps both. dunno.

– poland (belarus?) and — what is that? — hungary/romania?: these areas represent the frontier of the ostkolonisation that mitterauer described. this is at the edge of the hajnal line — the edge of the hard-core outbreeding project in europe (the eastern orthodox churches did discourage cousin marriage, but generally starting at a later date and, quite likely, not as strictly — the regulations in medieval russia, for example, flip-flopped several times). this is where western outbreeding and eastern inbreeding meet — and we find calvinism there.

the calvinists and anabaptists (and others) were less universalistic radical reformers as compared to the lutherans. on the other hand, there were some radical reforemers who leaned towards greater universalism. not surprisingly, they turned up in the netherlands and england (and maybe some other places, too — poland, i think! — remember broad strokes — further research is required!):

– arminianism: arminianism seems to be a reaction to the sorts of ideas espoused by the calvinists who were, in turn, reacting to lutheranism (who were, in turn, reacting to roman catholicism!). i might be wrong since i don’t know a whole lot about arminianism, but it seems more individualistic/universalistic than calvinism since salvation is dependent upon the rational choice of men to believe in/follow god, whereas the calvinists have got this double predestination thing in which god really has a set plan for everybody beforehand. that does not seem universalistic to me at all — in fact, it seems quite closed — so, perhaps it’s not strange that calvinism appealed to somewhat inbred groups and/or groups found in inbreeding/outbreeding borderlands. jacobus arminius, btw, was from the place formerly known as austrasia.

arminianism influenced other reformationists/protestant groups such as:

– the baptists: baptists are very individualistic in that they believe in “soul competency,” i.e. that each and every individual is responsible for his own faith. the first baptist preacher was an englishman, john smyth, who happened to be residing in (tolerant) amsterdam at the time he developed his ideas/founded his church. smyth was from nottinghamshire in the east midlands.

– the methodists: arriving on the scene much later (the eighteenth century), the methodists are the quintessential individualists/universalists who are endlessly concerned about the commonweal and helping their fellow man. they’re into “unlimited atonement,” so in their view, everyone can be (is!) saved. jesus died for EVERYone. THAT is universal. the wesley family (the founder of methodism being john wesley) was originally from dorset — in the heart of wessex (see above).

and, my favorites…

– the unitarians: for whom, well, anything goes really! (~_^)

that’s all i’ve got for you for now. i promise to go back and take a closer look at all these different populations — and i’ll try to find out if they’ve really been inbreeders or outbreeders like i’ve said (guessed!)! (^_^)

one final note — i think there’s a progression towards greater and greater universalism over time within christianity amongst the northwest europeans (the outbreeders) — not just in protestantism, but in roman catholicism, too — until eventually we wound up with simply humanism (not attached to a god at all) — and even movements for human rights to be extended to certain animals like chimpanzees, some of our closest relatives. apart from something like jainism, it starts to be hard to imagine a more universalistic belief system at all!

footnote: for those of you interested in hbd blogging history, the germ of the idea for this post first came to my mind (accidentally, as is usually the case) in this comment back in march of this year. i’ve been ruminating on the idea ever since.

(note: comments do not require an email. moo! (^_^) )



  1. Great post! I feel we’re getting closer to something

    With regard to France, here’s a little pattern that seems interesting:

    According to the newly returned M.G., the areas of France that seem have the lowest Muslim/African populations are the western and extreme northern parts of the country.

    Coincidentally (or maybe not), these are also the same regions from which the Quebecois hail.



  2. FYI, the Reformed (Calvinist) churches in Hungary and Romania were, and are, largely Hungarian ethnicity, whatever side of the border they are on. Romanians started embracing some anabaptist and pentecostal ideas under communism (perhpas because the Orthodox Church was seen as collaborationist), but were solidly Orthodox before that. Even though Romania was under Ottoman rule, there weren’t so many muslims in the group.

    There were Jews, however, constituting as much as 25% of some cities and present in rural areas as well. And gypsies. I don’t know how it relates to the overall culture and likelihood of adopting radical reformation ideas, but Transylvania, Ardeal, Ruthenia had a lot of cultures rubbing up against each other. Each group was clannish and inbred in every generation, but over time there was a fair bit of mixing.


  3. My ancestors from the far north of Scotland were Protestants as far back as I have traced them (about 1800). They belonged to the Free Church of Scotland.


  4. In Poland (in Lithuania, actually) this may be just coincidence – calvinism spread there mainly due to Radziwill’s. One of historians I like suggested that this could be due to luteran faith to be considered “German” and “urban” (not good thing for a nobleman), so calvinism was safe alternative for those, who didn’t like catholic and didn’t want to be associated with German and cities.


  5. @ hbd chick: “what strikes me is that, the less universalistic reformers — the calvinists and the anabaptists (some of whom formed very closed, non-universalistic groups like the amish and the mennonites) — are found in the border regions between or including both outbreeders and inbreeders — i.e. between the roman catholics and the lutherans (and, later, the anglicans).”

    Definitely looks that way.

    However, just a couple of points. In terms of England, was Calvinism really not so common in Cornwall? And was the far north of England as strongly Anglican as depicted on the map? I read this on a website about Elizabethan England:-

    “The Catholic stronghold in England is in the North (notably Northumberland and Cumberland, but anything north of Norfolk). The Puritan stronghold is in the West Country (Devon, Somerset, and Cornwall.)”


  6. @avi – “FYI, the Reformed (Calvinist) churches in Hungary and Romania were, and are, largely Hungarian ethnicity, whatever side of the border they are on.”

    ah ha! thanks!


  7. @puzzle pirate – “tl/dr”

    d*mn. forgot that tag! ftfm. (~_^)

    @puzzle pirate – “modern politics is due to centuries old breeding patterns”

    uh … almost, but not quite. the various flavors of religions/moral positions adopted by different european populations are due to centuries old breeding patterns. (prolly modern politics, too … but that’s a whole other post. (^_^) )


  8. @melykin – “My ancestors from the far north of Scotland were Protestants as far back as I have traced them (about 1800). They belonged to the Free Church of Scotland.”

    yeah … the lowlands actually stretch pretty far to the north, don’t they? practically up to inverness. and it looks like calvinism managed to swing right ’round moray firth.

    (your ancestors must’ve been VERY hardy! who survives that far north in scotland?! (~_^) )


  9. @szopeno – “One of historians I like suggested that this could be due to luteran faith to be considered ‘German’ and ‘urban’ (not good thing for a nobleman), so calvinism was safe alternative for those, who didn’t like catholic and didn’t want to be associated with German and cities.”

    ah ha! okay. thanks! (^_^)


  10. @quite said fred – “But within ‘Protestant’ England, some areas remained much more Catholic than others, e.g. Lancashire in the north (whose capital, Preston, literally means ‘Priest-town’).”

    @chris – ” In terms of England, was Calvinism really not so common in Cornwall? And was the far north of England as strongly Anglican as depicted on the map?”

    thanks guys! yes … we need better/more detailed maps/info! clearly a lot of the finer detail is missing from the maps to which i linked.

    i’d like to find out more about the distributions in the low countries, too. well, for ALL of europe, really! (^_^)


  11. @HBD chick
    yeah … the lowlands actually stretch pretty far to the north, don’t they? practically up to inverness. and it looks like calvinism managed to swing right ’round moray firth.

    Most of my Calvinist ancestors were definitely in the highlands, right on the north coast.
    My father’s people were from Strathy, Reay and Lybster. These all appear to be in the Catholic area on the map you linked to, though Lybster is closer to the Calvinist area. I have a public family tree at, here:

    My great grandmother (1839-1924) seems to have been a very straight laced Calvinist, judging from her obituary Here is her obituary (you can see a scan of the original newspaper clipping on the family tree)

    By the death of Mrs. James Sutherland, Dudley Drive, Hyndland, Glasgow, widow of Mr. James Sutherland, a well known enterprising Lybster fisherman of a generation ago, there has been removed from the stage of time a very estimable Christian lady, one who might truly be termed “a mother in Israel.”

    Mrs. Sutherland was born in the smithy house, Bridgend, Reay, where her father was blacksmith, and she belonged to a family noted for plain living and high thinking, her brother, the late Mr. Hugh Campbell, the blacksmith sage of Raey, being the most widely known. Mary Campbell went to the Manse of Lybster, where her uncle, Rev. John Mackay, was minister, and there she met her future husband. In Lybster she was married and there her seven sons and daughter were born.

    Some thirty years ago the family removed to Glasgow; but Mrs. Sutherland dearly loved the homeland, and she had a passionate fondness for her native Reay. Every year she went “home,” taking the long journey without concern and when she was well over eighty.

    She had also a great love for, and a broad and intelligent interest in, everything that pertained to the Church of Christ at home and abroad, but more particularly the old Free Church, in which she was brought up, and in Finniesten United Free Church, Glasgow, with which she and her husband were associated in fellowship and service. Hers was the service of a deep and sincere spirit, down to the very minor details of daily life, such as when she carefully laid out her bonnet on Saturday night to be ready for Sabbath. One of her last conscious instructions was to prepare her donation for the following Sabbath’s service.

    Mrs. Sutherland had reached the age of 85, with her faculties unimpaired. She is mourned by her daughter, her close companion in recent years, and six sons, four of whom are in Canada, one in Glasgow, while the eldest, Rev. David Sutherland, who was for over 20 years Missionary in China, is now a Presbyterian minister in London. One son gave his life in the Great War.

    At the funeral, which took place to the Janefield Cemetery, where her husband had previously been laid to rest, the services were conducted by Rev. D. M. McIntire, D.D., and Rev. Wm. Simpson, M.A. of Finniesten U.F. Church, and Rev. Wm. Murray, or Calabar, and formerly of Reay.

    I also have the obituary of her older sister (1832-1916), who never married and lived in Reay all her life–another calvinist it would seem.

    While googling around I found a fascinating snippit of history involving her brother, Hugh Campbell (1834-1916). It is an audio recording made in 1955 describing Ceilidhing in Reay, and doesn’t give quite such a Calvinist impression.

    The men in particular visited their neighbours during the winter. A blacksmith called Hugh Campbell was a great orator in English and Gaelic. The ceilidhs would last from 4 pm (when it got dark) until about midnight. The men told stories of ghosts and witchcraft. The women of the house would give them drinks of tea, sowens or whisky. A man called Mr Matheson often made the contributor so frightened by his ghost stories, that he wouldn’t go to the door for peats.


  12. It is hard to get anything solid from this, the conclusion seems to be that Calvinists are both out and in breeders (coming from Frisia myself) which we knew already. No doubt ideology of religion comes out in part due to biology, but it is a complex system which we may never understand.


  13. @poohbum – “the conclusion seems to be that Calvinists are both out and in breeders…”

    no. i’m not 100% sure exactly who the calvinists are, but i suspect that they are the middling inbreeders. in scotland, for example, they’re not the comparatively strong inbreeders of the highlands, but also not like the super outbreeders in southern england. they’re the middling group in the lowlands. in the netherlands, they’re maybe(?) the slightly more inbreeding frisians compared to, say, the dutch in south holland — but, again, not at all as inbreeding as the highland scots. or the irish. not sure about the netherlands, to tell you the truth.

    @poohbum – “No doubt ideology of religion comes out in part due to biology, but it is a complex system which we may never understand.”

    yup. absolutely!


  14. @melykin – “Most of my Calvinist ancestors were definitely in the highlands, right on the north coast.”


    well, either your family is an exception to the rule ( (~_^) ), or my theory needs adjusting/is total bunk. (^_^)


  15. Clannish behaviour among inbred Anabaptist groups in?

    Beards and hair shorn in Amish-on-Amish attacks:

    “Police in the US state of Ohio are investigating a rare violent feud in the Amish community, in which members have had beards and hair cut off.
    Spiritual differences were said to be behind the attacks on more than half a dozen men and women, said police..”


  16. @anonymous – “Beards and hair shorn in Amish-on-Amish attacks.”

    yes! the amish beard attacks. heh! (^_^) just when i thought humans couldn’t get any sillier/funnier. (~_^) i’ve been very entertained by these amish beard attacks over the last few months.

    this is a nice example of — i can’t remember what it’s called in evolutionary psychology — when you punish members of the in-group (or who, i guess, you think ought to be members of your in-group) for not conforming.

    good stuff! and a very silly form of clannish behavior! (^_^)


  17. partial disclosure: i thought i’d just mention that, while i am from a clannish population myself, i think i have also mentioned somewhere that i’ve got a dash of the germanic running through my veins (just a dash), and that dash — i’ve just realized — is from one of these middling inbreeding/outbreeding, “in-betweeners” groups! (no, i’m not a calvinist.)


  18. “this is a nice example of — i can’t remember what it’s called in evolutionary psychology”

    Altruistic punishment.


  19. @grey – “Altruistic punishment.”

    is that it? that’s what i thought at first, and then when i looked it up (on wikipedia), it didn’t seem like that was it … and then i started to double- and triple-think it … and then i just gave up. (~_^)


  20. Here is a quote from an article about the Catholic Church in Scotland:

    The faith was firmly established by the 6th and 7th centuries. The Scottish Catholic Celtic Church originally had marked liturgical and ecclesiological differences from the rest of Western Christendom, being monastically led. Some of these were resolved at the end of the 7th century following the Synod of Whitby and St Columba’s withdrawal to Iona, and others in the ecclesiastical reforms of the 11th century, so that the Scottish Church became an integral part of the Catholic communion.

    That remained the case until the Scottish Reformation in the early 16th century, when the Church in Scotland broke with the papacy, and adopted a Calvinist confession. At that point the celebration of the Catholic Mass was outlawed. Some Scottish Catholics remained, mainly in a small strip from the north-east coast to the Western Isles, and notably in Moidart, Morar, South Uist and Barra. Moreover some Scottish Lairds and land owners remained Roman Catholic (and some were to convert, such as Saint John Ogilvie, (1569–1615), who went on to be ordained a priest in 1610, later being hanged for proselytism in Glasgow). Nevertheless, when Mary, Queen of Scots, returned from France to rule, she found herself a Catholic in a largely Protestant state and Protestant court.
    The aftermath of the failed Jacobite risings in 1715 and 1745 further damaged the Catholic cause in Scotland, and it was not until Catholic Emancipation in 1793 that Roman Catholicism began to regain civil respectability.

    So it seems that the Catholic church lasted longer in the Highlands than the rest of Scotland, maybe 100 years longer, but was pretty much wiped out eventually. It was, of course, eventually re-established.

    “During the 19th century, Irish immigration substantially increased the number of Scottish Roman Catholics, especially in the west. Italian, Polish, and Lithuanian immigrants have also reinforced the numbers of Roman Catholics in Scotland.
    The Roman Catholic hierarchy was re-established in 1878 at the beginning of his pontificate by Pope Leo XIII. (See Restoration of the Scottish hierarchy) Currently the senior bishopric in Scotland is vacant following the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh.

    This era also saw the emergence of sectarian tensions. In 1923 the Church of Scotland produced a highly controversial (and since repudiated) report entitled The Menace of the Irish Race to our Scottish Nationality. It accused the Catholic population of subverting Presbyterian values and of causing drunkenness, crime and financial imprudence. John White, one of the leading figures in the Church of Scotland leaders at the time, called for a “racially pure” Scotland, declaring, “Today there is a movement throughout the world towards the rejection of non-native constituents and the crystallization of national life from native elements.”[9] Such official attitudes started to wane considerably from the 1930s/40s onwards, especially when the established church leaders learned of what was happening in eugenics-conscious Nazi Germany and of the dangers of a national or folk-church. Germans who were ethnically Slavic or Jewish were not considered “true” Germans or members of the German Volk.[10][11] In 1986 the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland expressly repudiated the sections of the Westminster Confession directly attacking Catholicism.

    I found a reference to a Catholic church at Lybster:

    Antiquities are a rude but extensive fortification on Ben Freiceadain near Loch Shurrery; remains of several circular towers in Strath-Halladale; numerous Picts’ houses; and a ruined pre-Reformation chapel, St Mary’s, at Lybster- ‘one of the most remarkable and ancient churches in the north of Scotland.’ Its nave measures 17 feet by 12, and its chancel is 10 feet square; whilst a door at the W end and another in the chancel have inclined jambs, and are less than 4 feet high (T. S. Muir’s Old Church Architecture, 1861).

    Scotland’s People, a government run website where I have got a lot of information for my family tree, has a section about Catholic church records:

    About Catholic marriage records:
    … It is entirely possible that banns of marriage for a Catholic couple were called in the (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland. Due to a complicated legal situation, the Church of Scotland was seen as the only legal place for banns to be called. In some cases, this means that you will find a Catholic marriage being recorded in Church of Scotland Old Parish Records (OPRs), however it is highly likely that the marriage actually took place elsewhere in the presence of a Catholic priest. Additionally, it may be that you find a record of a Catholic marriage in the OPRs, but no corresponding record in the Catholic Parish Registers, and this might be due to there being no surviving Catholic Parish Register for that area or time period; or that records were not kept at that point due to the laws against Catholics in force during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

    About Catholic birth records:
    Baptismal registers often record dates of birth as well as baptism. Both dates have been extracted for the index available via ScotlandsPeople. The earliest record available dates from 1703, but the majority of the records do not begin until the 1790s, mainly for the major cities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.


  21. Here is another obituary of my great grandmother’s sister. Some blanks because the corner of the newspaper clipping is torn away.

    Kirsty Campbell of Reay*
    A Character Sketch
    By M.C.M.
    Kirsty Campbell has taken her long last journey. Her old-fashioned room with its big fireplace and pretty china is tenantless, and she no longer looks with bright, wistful eyes through its tiny window. What shall we say of her? Her virtues and graces are not of the kind to be easily catalogued, for her life was one of being rather than of doing. When I knew her Kirsty Campbell was rarely even out-of-doors; yet Kirsty Campbell was the uncrowned queen of our village. “Kirsty” we called her, not from any lack respect, or of manners, but just because we loved her. If she was ill we were all anxious. Did her house or her cow demand extra attention? Then a dozen neighbours were ready with their kindly aid. What was the secret of her popularity? It was, I think, her spirit of youth. Kirsty never grew old.

    When I saw her first she had reached her four score years, her body was bent and thin, her face wrinkled, and her hair silver, but from her eyes there looked out a soul that the years had left uncorroded. The old tend sometimes to shrink into themselves, but Kirsty had interests far beyond herself and her household. She was almost jubilant over the arrival of a new baby. She was eager to hear its name. For her life was still a great adventure, and she almost envied the little stranger, behind whom the golden gates had so newly closed. I remember once going to see her, and knocking at her door once and again. There was no response so I opened it and walked in. Pausing on the threshold, I heard her eager, musical voice, reading deliberately, and with evident relish, a very modern love story. “I was jist reading to this bit lassie,” she said glancing at her maid, “a story about two lovers who fell out. It was for a warning to her.” But Kirsty had been reading to herself as well as her maid. She still believed in love. She had never bidden farewell to the spirit of her youth.

    The newspaper was a source of wonder to her, and a field for speculation and wonder. She was no blasee reader who refused to be amazed. She rejoiced at the deeds of bravery recorded there. She was frankly astonished at each new atrocity, perpetrated by the Kaiser, and she would go carefully over his ancestry, trying to find out some source for his badness. She had an amazing knowledge of royal family trees, and a prince had to be a very insignificant princeling, if Kirsty did not know all about him.

    But dearest of all outside interests was the church. She had been through the Disruption, and she loved devotedly the Church she had seen built up amid persecution and sacrifices. “Who’s to assist at the Sacrament?”, she would ask, long before the Sacrament was due, Kirsty at eighty had as much love of life, as much interest in action, as if she had been eighteen.

    Her spirit of youth was never more manifest than in her mode of relating to past memories. She was no mere “laudator temporis acti,” no blind condemner of the present generation. But nevertheless she would go back to the day of childhood, and describe her astonishment when she saw the first bonnet ever worn in the village church. It seemed such needless extravagance, such needless up-to-date-ness. She used to watch the worshipers from Halladale sitting down just outside the village and putting on the shoes and stockings they had carried over the long moors. Kirsty had attended service in the grave-yard when the Free Church was formed but homeless. She had seen the great Dr. Guthrie sitting in the pulpit beside Findlay Cook. All these things she would recall, sometimes with humour, sometimes with pathos, but never with vain regrets, never with discouraging comparisons. Kirsty never, without the o____ of causes said, “The old is better.” She had the youthful belief in today.

    And she had the fine, eager sympathy of youth, at its best. She had always an understanding of the burden, always a ________ or a word of sympathy for the burden-_______. She sometimes sighed for the children _______ ___ through snow and battling against ______ on the way to school. She spoke _____ passionately of the mother, na__________ household cares. The lonely old woman _______ no friend to smooth her pillow, ________ her deep pity. Her heart was unhardened by the passage of time. For Kirsty, life was always ________ by a rainbow of hope and promise. _____

    *Christina Campbell 1832-1916


  22. @melykin – thanks so much for the links about the r.c. church in scotland and all the other links as well! i’ll have to look at them more closely in the a.m.

    thanks, too, for posting the obituary of your great grandmother’s sister! (but i’m not sure i should allow people to post things that make me all weepy. *sniff* (^_^) )


  23. Sorry for the duplicate posts, HBD Chick. Perhaps you could delete them. When I clicked “post comment” the comment simply vanished. This happened several times so I kept trying again. I guess when the comment disappears this means it has gone into your spam filter.

    Computers…can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em!


  24. @melykin – “I guess when the comment disappears this means it has gone into your spam filter.”

    it could mean that, or it could also mean that something went wrong on your end (or somewhere else in between i guess!). =/

    like i mentioned to szopeno, whenever i compose a really long comment (that would make me pull my hair out if i lost it!), i save it to a notepad file or a word doc or SOMEwhere. just to be safe!

    i don’t know why your comments went into the spam box. i think the spam filter didn’t like your links for some reason — and i can’t imagine what would be wrong (i.e. look spammy) about the wikipedia link, so i guess it was the scottish site it didn’t like! (~_^)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s