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Cairneyhill Church



History of Cairneyhill Church, Carnock, Fife

Cairneyhill Church was built in 1752 in what was a mere hamlet. To appreciate how this came about it is necessary to go back in time to the village and parish of Torryburn. Prior to the Reformation the inhabitants of Torryburn worshipped in the little church at Crombie, the ruins of which exist to this day, midway between Torryburn and Bullions Farm. No church was built within the village of Torryburn until 1616. Torryburn at that time was a bustling seaport, handling exports of salt and of coal from the pits in the vicinity. The church served until replaced by a more substantial building on the same site in the year 1800.

The Covenanting element was strong in the district and in the early 18th century the many dissenting members joined with others from Culross, Carnock and Dunfermline to form a "praying Society", which held services in a barn at Drumfin Farm. After growing in numbers this "praying society" acceded to the Associate Presbytery on 1st November 1737. The members craved gospel ordinances for themselves, but were put under the pastoral care of Rev. Ralph Erskine. The Rev. Ralph Erskine was previously minister of Dunfermline Abbey who, after hesitating for a time, joined the Secession in 1741.

The "praying society" remained connected with the Associate Presbytery until the "Breach" divided them in 1747. That portion adhering to the General Associate Presbytery, known as Antiburghers, refused to sign the Burgess Oath which was required of anyone wishing to become a burgess. They believed that the wording of the oath indicated a swearing of allegiance to the Established Church. The Antiburghers fixed on Cairneyhill as their meeting place. It was chosen because of its relatively central position. Many of the members were resident in Dunfermline, and the congregation was known by that name until members living in Dunfermline withdrew in 1788, becoming the congregation of Chalmers Street.

Cairneyhill Church was built to provide 400 sittings; Chalmers Street Church, Dunfermline was built in 1789 to seat 420. The Dunfermline church was replaced in 1862 by a new building, designed to seat 500 at a cost of £1500. That particular building ceased to be a place of worship in 1942. It was demolished some years later during the construction of a car park. Cairneyhill was said to be the first Antiburgher church in Scotland. It is interesting to reflect that the original building has far outlived the Dunfermline offshoot, and its 1862 successor.

Since its beginnings in 1752 the Cairneyhill congregation has seen many changes. The Burgher and Antiburgher factions re-united in 1820 to form the United Secession Church, which in 1847 united with the Relief Church to form the United Presbyterian Church. This in turn became the United Free Church in 1900 on union with the Free Church, and then in 1929 part of the Church of Scotland when the two major Presbyterian Churches in Scotland united.

From the time that the first minister was inducted in 1755 to the charge of Cairneyhill, some 238 years ago, there have been eleven ministers, including the present incumbent. The reason for so few ministers of this church becomes clear when one becomes aware of the length of service that three ministers offered this congregation. The longest serving minister of Cairneyhill Church was the third, John More, who died in 1868 aged 80 years, after 54 years of service. (A record which cannot now be broken, under present Church of Scotland regulations on retiral.)

Chapter Two - Ministry
There follows some information on the ministers of Cairneyhill Church, and other information on membership, making interesting reading on the history of the church.

1st Minister James Burt from Lesley West was ordained on 5th April 1755. He died at Dunfermline in 1792 in his 79th year and in the 36th of his ministry. In 1781 there were 143 examinable persons within the bounds of the parish - 103 Burghers and 52 Relievers.

2nd Minister Thomas Blair from Clerk's Lane Kilmarnock was ordained 13th September 1791. He was loosed from his charge on 14th May 1813, having brought himself into trouble through inebriety. He became a teacher near Kilwinning and died there on 8th September 1820, aged 57 years.

3rd Minister John More from Buchlyvie was ordained 13th September 1814. The call was signed by 44 members. It is noted some years later that the stipend had never reached more than £100, and Mrs. More opened a seminary for young ladies which became widely known.

In 1837 the stipend was £96 with a manse, garden and glebe of 2 acres. Communicants numbered 250 and those under his care numbered 400 residing in Carnock parish, 106 in Torryburn, 45 in Dunfermline, 35 in Culross and 8 in Saline. The debt still resting on the property was £300.

On 3rd August 1864 Mr. More's jubilee was celebrated and he was presented with a silver salver and 580 sovereigns. Two years later his wife died. His own retirement followed 2 years after this. He died in 1868 in his 80th year and in the 54th year of his ministry.

4th Minister David Boreland from London Road, Glasgow was ordained as a colleague to Mr. More on 24th July 1867. Stipend from the people was £120 and Mr. More's retiring allowance was to be £30 per annum, or £25 plus the glebe. Mr Boreland's connection with Cairneyhill came to an end on 6th June 1876.

The congregation reported that they could not pay the stipend they had promised and they would not allow the property to be further burdened to meet money requirements. It was an indirect way of bringing disagreements between them and their minister to an end. Mr. Boreland's resignation was accepted on 20th June 1876.

5th Minister Mr. Moir, BD from Glasgow was ordained on 30th November 1876. At this time there were 116 names on the communion roll and the stipend was £90 with manse and garden. Mr Moir died on 4th July 1895 in his 48th year and in the 19th of his ministry.

6th Minister William Forbes from Aberdeen (Charlotte Street) was ordained on 16th October 1895. Membership at the close of 1899 was 144 and the stipend from the people £90 plus manse. Mr. Forbes was a member of Carnock Parish Council for 30 years and a member of Carnock School Board and Education Authority for 21 years. He had several
other interests and became a Justice of the Peace for Fifeshire in 1917. He died on 2nd June 1943, having been predeceased by his wife Jemima on 18th March 1940.

7th Minister Robert Barr McVicar, MA, an ordained probationer, was inducted on 3rd November 1943; translated to Livingstonia Mission on 15th July 1946.

8th Minister William Loudon Cunningham, born 2nd May 1903, was translated from Chapelhall and inducted on 18th December 1946. As with all previous ministers Cairneyhill was his sole charge and he resided in The Manse, 5 Main Street with his wife Rose. He retired on 31st May 1968 and now lives in St. Andrews.

It may be useful to record here that for the last 8 years of his ministry part of the manse was let to Neil and Kate Hegarty, the latter giving valuable service, including that of organist.

9th Minister David Yule Archibald, born 14th September 1913 at Kalimpong, India. Having been translated from Bargrennan to Torryburn and Newmills on 23rd August 1961 he became the minister of the linked charge of Torryburn with Cairneyhill on 1st June 1968. He continued to reside in the Torryburn manse.
The manse in Cairneyhill continued to be occupied by Neil and Kate Hegarty, although its status now reduced to a former manse.
David Archibald retired on 31st August 1983.

10th Minister Robert John Henderson, born 5th May 1925 at Edinburgh, was translated from Melrose St. Cuthbert's and inducted on 23rd February 1984 to the linked charge of Cairneyhill with Limekilns. Bob Henderson resided with his wife Charlotte at Limekilns Manse. Charlotte became an Auxiliary Minister in 1985 and was of great assistance with the pastoral work and occasional preaching at the various centres of worship.

There were 77 communicant members on 31st December 1984. A mere six years later that number had almost trebled (to 203). Bob Henderson retired on 30th June 1990. His reason for retiring, when he might have continued for another five years, was that his health was such that he considered himself unable to perform his ministerial and pastoral duties to his own high standards.

It is worth noting here that prior to entering the ordained ministry, Bob Henderson had served with distinction in France and Germany during the Second World War with the Black Watch and the Parachute Regiment. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order in 1945.

Neil and Kate Hegarty vacated the former manse in September 1989, Kate's declining health making it impossible to look after such a large property. Since that time the manse has been used for a variety of purposes, both church and community, e.g. Sunday School, Youth Group, Woman's Guild, Young Woman's Group, Kirk Session, Congregational Board, Bible Study Group, Venture Scouts, etc.
11th Minister Norman Miller Grant, born 22nd April 1957 at Perth, was ordained and inducted to the linked charge of Cairneyhill with Limekilns on 26th October 1990. Norman Grant resides in the Limekilns Manse with his wife, Karen, and three children.

At this time the communicant membership of Cairneyhill Parish Church stands at 214, in a parish of some 2000 to 3000 inhabitants. For interest, and comparison with previous ministers, the stipend in 1993 is £14,853 plus manse and listed expenses.

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