Historical Timeline for Scottish Genealogy
Special focus on topics dear to our
Note correction to royal succession/family relations
1689+; if you copied data before, please take a fresh
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- 1542--Accession of infant Mary Stewart (she
later changed name to Stuart) to Scottish throne.
Regent Arran was inclined to Reformation, Church was
Roman Catholic, court was opportunistic.
- 1544-45--Eart of Hertford (Engl.) ravages
Southern Scotland for Scots' refusal to commit to a
marriage contract between Mary and Henry VIII's son.
Scotland leans toward France.
- 1547--Hertford as Lord Protector Somerset
invades 3rd time, winning Battle of Pinkie, but
losing Mary to the French. Age 5, she is sent to
France. Lives there 13 years.
- 1558--Mary marries French Dauphin.
- 1559--He becomes King of France.
Protestant leaders in Scotland (Lords of the
Congregation) resent French influence--Mary of Guise,
Mary's mother, as Regent brings in French troops.
Denounces the protestant leaders as heretics. John
Knox's sermon in
Perth sets off destruction of religious houses.
- 1559--Mary of Guise deposed. Scottish
protestants seek Elizabeth I protection so long as
their queen is married to French king.
- 1560--Abolish Roman Catholicism in Scotland;
forbid mass. Mary's husband dies.
Scots Confession, 1560
- The Scottish Church, 1560-1929
- 1561--Mary, a Roman Catholic, a widow, under
age 20, returns to Scotland. Interviews with John
Knox seeking toleration for Roman Catholicism are
- 1565-67--Mary, infatuated, marries Henry, Lord
Darnley who conspires with and ultimately betrays all
sides in seeking his own ambitions. Darnley is
killed. Mary is forced to abdicate in favor of her
infant son, James. Lord Moray is made regent.
- May 1568--Final defeat of Mary at Langside,
escape to England. Imprisoned for 20 years; executed
- 1603--On Elizabeth's death, James VI of
Scotland became James I of England as well, but the
countries were not united. Church quarrels spring
from opposing views:
- 1) Protestant Presbyterianism (Covenanters)
simplicity, separation of church from civil power,
equality of ministers and little formal worship.
(Lowlanders, supporters of Parliament)
- 2) Protestant episcopacy believes in a more
liturgy and a hierarchy with bishops, possibly
holding authority from the Crown. (Highlanders,
Royalist and Jacobite)
- [The Highlands & the Hebrides continued to
harbor a fair number
of Roman Catholics, adherents of the "Old Religion".]
- James VI/I succeeded in grafting episcopacy
onto the Presbyterian Church, but Charles I destroyed
- 1607--IN IRELAND: Ulster: The earls of Tyrone
and Tyrconnell had been restored in 1603 but felt
their positions were untenable. They and 100 other
chiefs of the North left Ireland forever in 1607. The
"flight of the earls" left Catholic/Gaelic interests
in Ulster without support. Ulster was to become the
most British of the provinces.
A plantation of Ireland was urged to protect the
state and provide congregations for the State church
(Protestant). The earls and their adherents were
found guilty of treason and the six counties were
escheated. The escheated lands were divided among
undertakers (English who would lease only to English
and Scottish tenants and take the oath of supremacy),
servitors (mainly Scots, who could take Irish
tenants, but if so their rents were increased), and
natives. Native Irish grantees paid twice the
quitrents, but weren't required to take the oath.
Colonists were given the best lands. Irish were made
tenants-at-will, denied their freehold rights under
the attainted earls. The plantation and others that
followed elsewhere in Ireland proved a practical
success (farming and manufacture) but culturally a
- 1638--SCOTLAND: Introduction of new Prayer
Book was not
well received. Prompted the signing of the National
Covenant at Greyfriars, Edinburgh (birth of the
Covenanters). Reiterated Reformation principles,
abolished episcopacy. Charles trys to enforce the
Royal will and fails.
- Oct. 1641--IRELAND: Uprising in Ulster--many
colonists were murdered, died of ill treatment or
- 1642--While the English prepared to retaliate,
the Irish feared confiscation of lands and religious
persecution, so prepared to resist more strenuously.
Events were escalating.
- 1643-46--SCOTLAND: Earl of Argyll heads Solemn
and Covenant which sides with Parliament in English
Civil War...briefly. Scotland is deeply divided when
Cromwell does not follow through on certain promises
and then executes Charles I. Scotland sides with
Charles II after getting him to sign Covenants.
Westminster Confession of Faith, 1646
- 1648-1660--IRELAND: Cromwell determined to
break the Irish; massacres and transplantation to
Connaught shifted more land into English hands.
- 1650--SCOTLAND: Abortive invasions of England;
defeats Scots at Dunbar.
- 1651--Another defeat at Worcester.
- 1651-1660--Scotland suffers under Commonwealth
- 1660--Restoration; Scottish Parliament
inexplicably annulls all Church legislation since
1633 reappointing Bishops. Resentment builds.
- 1666--Extreme Covenanters rebel. Defeated at
- 1679--Another rebellion initially successful
when they held the Highlander Royalist Claverhouse at
Drumclog, but lacking the support of the majority of
Scots, they were ultimately defeated (Bothwell
Bridge). (See Bothwell on my Rambles/Glasgow pages.)
- 1679-1688--The Killing Time--Covenanters are
ruthlessly pursued and slaughtered. Many flee to
Ireland and America.
- 1685.02--Charles II died suddenly and was
succeeded by his brother James VII/II who continued
to persecute the Covenanters. James, Duke of
Monmouth, an illegitimate son of Charles II, asserted
his legitimacy and right to be King
and was supported by his cousin William of Orange.
Campbell of Argyll tried to
win over Scotland for Monmouth and invaded Scotland
- 1685.09--Those captured after a siege of the
Castle at Stranraer were banished and stigmatized,
the men by having the left ear lopped, and the women
were branded. Argyll was beheaded. Monmouth invaded
England but was captured and ordered beheaded by his
uncle James II after being defeated at the battle of
- 1688-89--English Revolution against James
William of Orange (wife, Mary Stuart is James'
daughter) ascends throne. He agrees to
abolish the bishops. Scottish episcopalianism is
funnelled into the Jacobite movement (support of
James, the Old Pretender, son of James VII/II).
Abolition of patronage (The right of
the Crown, landlord or other patron to nominate or
'present' a minister to the local parish [often a
political favor to a man in search of income rather
than committed to the souls under his care.])
- Episcopalian ministers were allowed to retain
their benefices if they took an oath of allegiance.
- 1689--William III appointed the Duke of
Hamilton as High Commissioner of Scotland.
Claverhouse came to Parliament and claimed he was
High Commissioner and called out the Highlanders to
arms. Jacobites defeated, Claverhouse
(Viscount Dundee) killed at Killiecrankie.
Some Highlanders continued to resist Oath of
Allegiance to William until
- 1691--All the Highland chiefs but MacDonald of
Glencoe eventually swear allegiance. The Massacre of Glencoe.
1699--IRELAND: Third conquest of Ireland in a century
was completed. Irish owners held 1/7th of the land.
Middle classes were excluded from the corporations,
trades and professions. Discriminatory penal laws
were enacted in 1695, 1698, excluding conscientious
Catholics from wearing arms, teaching publicly or
- 1702-15-- Penal laws forbade Irish Catholics
to acquire land by other than inheritance or to take
leases of more than 31 years at crushing rents. If
the eldest son conformed, he inherited the whole
estate; if not, it was divided equally. The effect
was the disappearance of this class. Catholics in
general were barred from trades, professions,
education, offices, juries, electoral vote, right of
arms and a horse.
- The Presbyterians in the north suffered as
well during the Episcopalian ascendancy. After the
accession of George I the "Regium Donum" was restored
to their ministers and a Toleration act allowed them
to worship freely and hold petty offices. But they
were debarred from Parliament and government. Along
with the Catholics, they were forced to support a
church they despised.
- Over the 1700s, under the Hanoverians, both
Irish and poorer protestants, ruined by heavy rents
and commercial acts fled elsewhere. Both Scots and
Irish chaffed under the dominant English.
- 1702--After William III's death, Anne, younger
daughter of James VII/II (Mary's sister), ascended
the thrones of
England and Scotland, but left no heir.
- 1706--SCOTLAND: Secession of Cameronians
fanatical Covenanter, Richard Cameron); they rejected
any supremacy of the State in church matters.
- 1707--Treaty of Union: Scottish & English
Parliaments united. (United Kingdom) Scotland was
then represented by a number of Members of the
Westminster Parliament and a number of Representative
Peers in the House of Lords.
Scotland was given
guarantees re: the Presbyterian Established Church &
maintenance of Scottish Law and Courts.
Highlands not really subdued.
- 1712--Act of Toleration allows episcopal
dissenters to use English liturgy; restored patronage
(a source of much later trouble). Although suspect
in the Jacobite troubles, an independent Episcopal
Church remained with its Bishops. All the sees
except Edinburgh (founded by Charles I) are
- 1715--Jacobite Rebellion led by Earl of Mar on
behalf of James III (Old Pretender.) Lacked Lowland
or French support and was defeated.
- 1733--Secession Church founded by Ebenezer
Erskine over patronage issue. Secessionists wanted
local congregations to be allowed to choose their
- 1743--Cameronians become the Reformed
- 1745--Jacobite Rebellion on behalf of Charles
Edward (Young Pretender or Bonnie Prince Charlie).
Defeated by Cumberland at Culloden. Cumberland earns title of
Butcher"--another wave of transportations and
- 1747--Lowland Scots joined English in subduing
the Highlands once and for all (they had suffered
from Highland regiments during the Covenanter era).
Act of Proscription (repealed 1782) banned Highland
- The end of fighting was part of what lay
behind the Highland Clearances as much as anything.
Clan crofters had paid rent in warrior service
(ancient/medieval practice); the landlords, no longer
fighting and drawn to urban comforts, now demanded
rent in cash--not possible.
- Secession Church splits into the Burghers &
Anti-Burghers--a dispute over a religious clause in
the oath required of burgesses in Edinburgh, Glasgow
& Perth. Erskine & the moderates tended to be
Burghers; stricter secessionists tended to be
- 1761--The Relief Church seceded over any
interference with lay authority.
- 1780-1860--Landlords rented to Lowland and
sheep farmers. Evictions. Highland families
dispossessed and dispersed.
Filled Lowland town slums and factories; emigrated to
Canada and Australia. (See my Books page.)
- There was also considerable
merchant/industrial/professional/clerical traffic to
Ireland and the Americas and back (more than we'd
- 1799-1806--The Burghers/Anti-Burghers each
split again into the Old Licht/New Licht (light)
groups over jurisdiction of the civil authority over
- 1822--The two New Lights merged into the
United Secession Church.
- 1841--The two Old Lights merged into the
- 1843--The Disruption: a 1/3 of the ministers
of the Church resigned their livings to become the
Free Church over issues of patronage.
- 1847--The United Secession Church merged with
the Relief Church to form the United Presbyterian
- 1874--The Patronage Act allowed local
congregations to elect their own ministers. FINALLY!
- 1876--The Free Church absorbed the Reformed
- 1893--Secession of some Free Church
congregations in the Highlands to form deeply
fundamentalist Free Presbyterian Church.
- 1900--Free Church & United Presbyterian
Churches merge. Dissident Free Churches in the
Highlands retain their name and become known as "wee
- 1929--United Free Church joined Church of
- 1956--Original Seceders (Old Lights) join
Church of Scotland.
- 1989--A decision to suspend an elder for
attending two Roman Catholic requiems for old friends
led to a secession of adherents of the Free
Presbyterians to become the Associated Presbyterian
- Today Scotland is an equal partner in the
United Kingdom. (Although Scottish Nationalists argue
otherwise--one sore point I encountered was the
viability of the English Pound in Scotland, but
Scottish Pounds cannot be used in England.) However,
in recognition of growing pressure for a return to
"regional government" the new Labour Government has
proposed the creation of a new law making and
tax-raising Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh. [Wales
gets itself an Assembly, which is just a talking
shop.] The Westminster Parliament will retain some
core functions such as defence, overall taxation and
fiscal policy, foreign affairs.
- Encyclopaedia Brittanica, 1959 edition.
- Tomes, John. Blue Guide to Scotland,
- Thanks to Iain Kerr for several additions.
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