Life at the manse

This guide was last updated in 2009

The baptisms of children born to the minister and his wife are usually – though, surprisingly, not always – recorded in the parish registers.

From 1744 onwards a fund for widows of ministers in the Established Church was set up and each presbytery had to record details of a minister’s marriage, his children and any deaths in the family, in what were known as “Separate Registers”. The First and Second Statistical Accounts of every Scottish parish (written by the parish ministers in the 1790’s and 1840’s) often present an interesting insight into his personal interests, whether in archaeology, farming, geology or natural history and his views on the state of the parish.

Life in the manse was not always comfortable. The presbytery was responsible for its maintenance and there are many heartfelt pleas for repairs to leaking roofs or other inconveniences. A minister at Campbeltown complained that “he could often wash his hands in the deep dew which covered his bed in the morning.”

A meagre stipend was often supplemented by farming the glebe. Some ministers were wealthy and considerable property owners: others had little to leave when they died. Many ministers left testaments and these reveal fascinating details of their lives in inventories of personal possessions, from books to blankets, cattle to clothes.

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