Priory of Coldingham
Coldingham Priory was a house of Benedictine monks. It lies on the
south-east coast of Scotland, in the village of Coldingham,
Berwickshire. Coldingham Priory was founded in the reign of David I
of Scotland, although his older brother and predecessor King Edgar
of Scotland had granted the land of Coldingham to the Church of
Durham in 1098, and a church was constructed by him and presented in
1100. The first prior of Coldingham is on record by the year 1147,
although it is likely that the foundation was much earlier. The
earlier Columban Abbey founded by St. Æbbe sometime circa 640 AD.
Although the monastery was largely destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in
1648, there are still extant remains of the priory. The choir of
which forms the present parish church of Coldingham, and is serviced
by the Church of Scotland.
Extracts from "History of the Priory of Coldingham from the earliest date to the present time" of 1858
The Priors in succession who followed Gretham were, Richard de Quixwood, Richard de Whiteworth, (these two Richards are probably the same person) Adam de Pontefract, William de Scaceario, Walter de Scarisbeck, Adam de Lamesley, William de Bamburgh, Robert Walworth, Robert Claxton, John Steel, John de Akecliff or Oakcliff, William Drax or Drake, John Olle or Oil, John Ayre, Thomas Nesbyt, John Pencher, Thomas Haighton, Thomas Wren, Alexander Stuart, natural son of James IV., David Home, Robert Blackadder, William Douglas (1519 -1526, Becomes Abbot of Holyrood.), Adam, whose surname is not ascertained, John Stuart, natural son of James V., created Prior, with consent of the Pope, though a mere infant ; John Maitland, on whom the title of Commendator of Coldingham was first conferred ; Francis, eldest son of the late Prior, John Stuart ; Alexander, Lord Home ; Francis, Earl of Bothwell ; and John Stuart, the last who bore the title of Commendator. The period during which the names of these parties are found presiding over this establishment extended from 1311, when Gretham ceased, to the year 1622, when John Stuart was appointed Commendator.
During the regency of the Duke of Albany, in the feeble reign of Robert III., the Priory passed, by an act of its own inmates, under the surveillance of Alexander, the Laird of Home, as under-Keeper of it for the powerful family of Douglas ; and, in consequence, it soon became limited in its resources, and shorn of its authority, and eventually acknowledged the family of Home as the lords of all its possessions. The grants by the Pope were, however, declared null and void by King Edward.
In 1522, William Douglas, brother of Lord Angus, seized the office of Prior by force, and successfully resisted all efforts to expel him. He was constituted Abbot of Holyrood by his brother Angus, and died in 1531. Adam, his successor, who presided till 1541, was removed to Dundrennan, to make way for John Stuart, the infant and illegitimate son of James V. During John Stuart's infancy, the King enjoyed the revenues, but found his possession of these less luxurious and undisturbed than any of his ecclesiastical predecessors. In November 1544, the church and town, after being seized by the English, were successfully fortified against the Regent Arran ; and, in September 1545, the Abbey, during the devastating incursion of the Earl of Hertford, was once more, to a great extent, destroyed by fire. After such a succession of fires, assaults, and batteries, it is indeed not surprising that so little of the old Abbey should be now extant. John Stuart, having now attained maturity himself, drew the revenues of the Priory.
The Prior, now designated Commendator, performed no ecclesiastical
functions. For a period then of about fifty years after the
Reformation, we are unable to discover the names of the ministers of
this Church. During a part of the Commendatorship of Alexander, Earl
of Home, it appears that one Alexander Watson officiated as
clergyman. He was appointed in 1608, and possessed the living till
John Dysart had been ordained minister of Langton on 30th April 1691. He was a man of bold and determined character, and a steady advocate of the rites of the Reformed religion. By the advice of the Privy Council, he was translated from the parish of Langton to that of Coldingham on the 24th March 1694. The greater portion of the inhabitants were then staunch Episcopalians, and were consequently strongly opposed to his induction ; so much so, that it was deemed necessary to employ the aid of a body of military to prevent a riot. Dysart having resolutely held possession of his charge, an Episcopalian clergy-man for several years continued to officiate in a barn, which stood at a short distance from the Church, and was supported by the voluntary contributions of the people. This was no doubt Alexander Douglas.
There was now a fair prospect of the remains of this once stupendous structure being restored to their pristine beauty in the decorative parts, and of the whole being comfortably adapted as a place of worship. A committee, consisting of David Milne Home, Esq., convener ; John Hood, Esq. ; Matthew Norman Macdonald Hume, Esq. of Ninewells ; Henry Home Drummond, Esq. of Blair-Drummond ; George Turnbull, Esq. of Abbey St Bathans ; and the late factor of Lord Douglas, was appointed to confer with Mr Matheson, on the part of the Crown, to procure plans and specifications, and generally to superintend the details and the completion of the work. To these gentlemen, but most particularly to Messrs Milne Home, Hood, and Macdonald Hume, the chief merit belongs, on the side of the heritors, in carrying through this important undertaking ; and these three gentlemen have truly been indefatigable in discharge of the duty imposed on them. Their labours and exertions are the more disinterested and praiseworthy, seeing not only that they had a large portion of the expense to bear, but, none of them being resident heritors, they had no direct personal interest to serve, either as to the grandeur or comfort of the church. It is but due to the other heritors to record, that, while several of them gave valuable advice and assistance, all of them gave their most cordial approbation and support. This is the more to be applauded, considering that they were not only bearing an expense beyond what in law they were probably bound to bear, but they had recently been heavily assessed in relation to the manse and school-houses, and were here also at the expense of purchasing land to enlarge the burial-ground, and to increase the area, to give effect to the beauty of the church. We have sub-joined a list of the present heritors, who in so liberal a spirit bore the expense of these several works. It seems not too much to say, that one-half the expenditure might indeed have put both the church and manse in a state as sufficient as the law could have demanded. (Lord Douglas was one of the heritors).
Coldingham Priory is open to visitors on Wednesday afternoons
between 2.00pm and 4.00pm and also on Sundays in July and August at
the same times.
SAMUEL DOUGLAS, M.A.; Minister of Coldingham; pres. by 1641 Charles I. 6th May 1641; suspended June 1648, and dep. by the Presb. On the recommendation of the Assembly, the Commission on 14th Feb. 1651 "do open his mouth and declare him to be in capacity for the ministry "; trans, to Eccles after Oct. 1652. " [Reg. Sec. Sig.; Haddington Drumoak in 1653, but was reponed to the ministry 2nd Feb. 1654, on condition that he should not accept a charge without special consent of the Presb. He was pres. to Edrom, and coll. there 11th Nov. 1662. In the following year he exchanged with the min. of this charge; was pres. by Charles II. 17th Feb. 1664; adm. in Presb. Reg.; Acts of Ass. ; Baillie's Letters.] He was a son of Archibald Douglas of Pittendreich, himelf an illegitimate son of the 4th Earl of Morton.
ALEXANDER DOUGLAS, son of Samuel D., min. here in 1041 ; M.A. (Edinburgh 1GG9) ; adm. min. of Longformacus in 1G72 ; pres. by Charles II. 15th Oct. 1077 ; deprived by the Privy Council, 8th Sept, 1689, for not reading the Proclamation of the Estates, nor praying for William and Mary. He was accused of taking away the Presb. Records. He died Jan. 1704, aged about 55. He marr. Margaret Bannatyne, probably daugh. of his predecessor, and had issue Samuel of Burnhouses ; Helen (marr. 27th Dec. 1729, John Johnston, writer, Edinburgh) ;Katherine (marr. July 1735, Yaxly Davidson, merchant, Edinburgh). [Min.-book Rey. Sec. Sir/., v. ; MS. Ace. of Min., 1689 ;Edinburgh Marriage Reg. ; Treasury Sed. Rook, 22nd July 1696.]
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