A Comparative Study of the Responses of Three Highland Communities to the Disruption in the Church of Scotland in 1843

Dineley, Margaret Anne (2005). A Comparative Study of the Responses of Three Highland Communities to the Disruption in the Church of Scotland in 1843. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000e8cc


This study, positioned within the historiography of the Disruption, is responding to a recognised need for pursuing local studies in the search for explanations for reactions to the Disruption. Accepting the value of comparison and contextualisation and assuming a case study approach, it has selected three particular Highland communities in order to discover how they actually responded to the Disruption and why. Contrasting responses to the event furnished the determinant for selection, the parish being the elected geographical dimension since the relationship to a specific church and minister can be readily determined. In the attempt to discover why reactions differed the exploration of the dynamics of life in each community, the multiplicity, complexity and interplay between factors operating at this level to elicit specific responses, should likewise point to the varying applicability of broad generalisations in local contexts.

To contextualise the thesis, the rationale for the study is preceded by an exploration into the historiography of the Disruption. A description of the local scenario around the time of the event ensues, followed by chapters presenting evidence concerning the environment experienced by parishioners, acknowledging the comparative aspect. The socio-economic background covers such information as population distribution, occupational profiles and domestic milieu and the cultural milieu absorbs elements such as education, language, perceived behavioural characteristics, customs and beliefs. The religious scene incorporates material on history, physical settings for worship and bodies or individuals of influence. The noteworthy themes of spirituality, revivals and ministers and their kinship networks are then given specific consideration. The study concludes with a summary of the web of factors contributing to responses to the Disruption in the three parishes and a systematic comparison of the applicability therein of the various hypotheses outlined in the introduction.

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