OS Churches

Original Secession Churches

In this section of the web-site, we have an account of churches which saw themselves to be upholding the principles of the original secession from the Church of Scotland in 1733. The story of the splits and reunions of that original secession is not a simple one and it is not our purpose to give details of what happened. A very brief and simplified version is given in Ewing’s Annals of the Free Church of Scotland. These Annals are available on this web-site and the paragraph that is particularly relevant is entitled The Synod of United Original Seceders. Those unfamiliar with Scottish Church History should read that short section to provide background for what follows.

That account of The Synod of United Original Seceders (henceforth UOS) is short and therefore incomplete. For our purpose, there are two points that need to be clarified:

Firstly, when the UOS Church was formed in 1842 by a union of two smaller branches, two ministers remained outwith the Union. They briefly existed as a Presbytery: the Associate Presbytery of Original Seceders. Their Annals are given here: The Associate Presbytery.

Secondly, when the subject of union with the Free Church of Scotland was discussed by the UOS Church in 1852, the motion in favour of the Union was carried by a majority of one. There was a substantial body that remained outwith the Union. They continued as a body until 1956, when the remaining ministers and their congregations acceded to the Church of Scotland. These congregations are mentioned in Scott’s Annals of the Original Secession Church but their history is not dealt with in any detail and, besides, his book was published in 1886.

An account of the UOS Church is given in the following pages:

The Second Disruption – a short account of events surrounding the incomplete Union of 1852. What was from the Free Church perspective a Union, was to the people who remained in the UOS Church a Disruption. As this is the UOS story we have tried to tell it from their perspective — hence the title: The Second Disruption.

Overview – a brief account of the UOS Church from 1852 till 1956.

UOS Congregations – a brief account of each congregation of the UOS Church, listed alphabetically.

UOS Ministers – a brief account of each minister of the UOS Church, listed alphabetically.

UOS Probationers etc. There were many men whose names we came across in the course of our studies, who were students or probationers of the UOS Church but who were never ordained in the UOS Church. There were also a number of men who applied to be received as ministers, but who for one reason or another, did not actually become minister of the Church. An account of each of these men, so far as it is known to us, is given here.

The Final Years – a short account of the events that led up to the accession of the UOS Church to the Church of Scotland.

Dr Donald Munro – this has the status of an appendix. It is an account of a man who was constantly in conflict with the UOS Church. Rather than record his antics under the two congregations with which he was associated, the whole story has been recorded in this appendix

This web-site is in process of development and the account of the UOS is not complete. What we have here is based on information gained from online newspapers from 1852 to 1956; the volumes of the denominational magazines which are available on line and substantial parts of the Synod Minutes and of three of the four Presbyteries. This is sufficient to give information on all the congregations and their ministers – though not a complete account of them. As time goes on, it is hoped that gaps will be filled in.


Standard, Format, etc

In general, the principles followed in the supplementary material to Ewing’s Annals are followed here. For guidance as to the standard of genealogical research, the recording of place names etc, see the Introduction to the Supplementary Material under Style and what follows. There mention is also made of the genealogical resources used.


The principal sources used, apart from the standard genealogical tools, are the Presbytery and Synod Minutes; and the denominational magazine. It can be assumed that in every entry these sources have been used. Besides these, old online newspapers have been searched for the phrase “Original Secession”. Where information from these has been used in these Annals, the details of the newspaper are specifically mentioned.

Several volumes of the denominational magazine are available on line: The Original Secession Magazine, New Series, Vol.1 (1852-54); Vol.2 (1854-56); Vol.3 (1856-58); Vol.4 (1858-60); Vol.5 (1860-62); Vol.6 (1863-64); Vol.7 (1865-66); Vol.8 (1867-68); Vol.9 (1869-70); Vol.10 (1871-72); Vol. 11 (1873-74); Vol.13 (1877-78); Vol.14 (1879-80); Vol.15 (1881-82); Vol.17 (1885-86); Vol.18 (1887-88); Vol 19 (1889-90).

The following Synod Minutes are held in the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

1852-1861 (CH3/301/4)
1862-1868 (CH3/301/5)
1870-1883 (CH3/301/6)
1884-1897 (CH3/301/7)
1898-1910 (CH3/301/8)
1910-1928 (CH3/301/9)
1929-1952 (CH3/301/10)
1953-1956 (CH3/301/11)

The following Minutes of the Presbytery of Ayr are held in the Burns Monument Centre, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire:

1853-1856 (CH3/35/3)
1869-1882 (CH3/35/4)
1891-1920 (CH3/35/5)
1920-1942 (CH3/35/6).

John Scott, Toberdoney, took over as Presbytery Clerk from James Spence, Auchinleck. He reported to the Presbytery on 27th March, 1928, that he had obtained possession of the minutes of Presbytery: 1853-56; 1869-1882; and 1891-1920. He was granted permission to write up several minutes that had not been duly entered into the Minute book. These are the records still extant, held in Kilmarnock. However the volume labeled 1920-1942 actually has gaps: there is only one minute between the meeting on 3rd August, 1920, and the one on 31st August, 1926 and that is one of 19th April, 1923.

In 1942 this Presbytery merged with the Presbytery of Glasgow.

The following Minutes of the Presbytery of Caithness and Orkney are held in the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:

1904-1914 (CH3/1402)
The following Minutes of the Presbytery of Edinburgh are held in the National Records of Scotland, Edinburgh:
1880-1902 (CH3/111/19)
1903-1931 (CH3/111/20)
1931-1939 (CH3/111/21)


The following Minutes of the Presbytery of Glasgow are held in the archives of the Mitchell Library, Glasgow:

1852-1868 (CH3/146/64)
1868-1876 (CH3/146/65)
1876-1892 (CH3/146/66)
1892-1900 (CH3/146/67)
1900-1910 (CH3/146/68)
1910-1936 (CH3/146/69)
1936-1956 (CH3/146/70)

The remaining Presbytery is that of Perth and Aberdeen of which no records are held in the National Records of Scotland.

Extant congregational records noted under the congregations of Auchinlack; Ayr; Birsay; Darvel; Glasgow, Laurieston; Glasgow, Mains Street; Kirkcaldy; Kirkintilloch; Kirriemuir; Midlem; Perth; Shottsburn and Thurso.

Other records extant are: Records of United Original Secession Church Psalmody and Missions Committees: NRS CH3/300; United Original Secession Church Synod – Miscellaneous letters and papers: NRS CH3/301/12


Where there are lists referring to personnel and a list referring to congregations, there is ample scope for bothersome repetition. To avoid repetition as much as possible, a developed system of cross-referencing is provided . Thus, for example, there is a paragraph labeled Ministry for each minister. This consists of little more than a list of the congregations in which the minister served. For a full account of his ministry in these places, researchers must look at the story of these congregations – but that is not difficult, because you can get there with a click, using the cross-references provided.

Another area of overlap is where a minister is called from one congregation to another. If there are details of the call, they are generally recorded under the congregation which initiated the call but again there will be cross-reference to the minister who was being called. A recurring phrase is of the form: “He received a call from the congregation of A… but nothing came of it.” In such cases a cross-reference is only provided where extra information about the call is given under the calling congregation.