Old Photograph Church St Kilda Scotland

Old photograph of the church on St Kilda, Scotland. St Kilda was a registration district in its own right, and the minister or the school teacher acted as local registrar, recording births, deaths and marriages. The longest served was the Reverend John McKay, from 1865 until 1889. For most of its history, the St Kildans were without a resident minister. Baptisms and marriages were performed annually by the chaplain who would visit Hirta with the proprietor’s steward. Rents and teinds were collected at the same time. The first resident missionary was Alexander Buchan, appointed in 1705 to combat the surviving " popish " practises and the general ignorance of the population. Between 1830 and 1844, the missionary and teacher on St Kilda was Neil Mackenzie. Under his care, the islanders became ardent church goers, attending church daily, except for Monday and Saturday, and twice on Sunday. Attendance at every service was compulsory for everyone over the age of 2 years, unless unwell. He also made strenuous efforts to help his people to improve their living conditions, introducing the idea of legs to raise tables from the floor and walls to keep livestock away from crops. The minister remained apart from the people and, as he was the only English speaker, they depended on him to enable them to communicate with the outside world. In 1846, following two years without religious instruction and a visit to the island by a Free Church Deputy, all 103 inhabitants of St Kilda declared their adherence to the Free Church. Between 1865 and 1889, the minister John McKay saw to it that Sundays on St Kilda included three church services, no work and no conversation, only recitation from the bible was permitted. He also established church governance on the island, appointing two elders. His successor, Angus Fiddes, was the last ordained clergyman on St Kilda. He fulfilled the roles of both minister and teacher.

All photographs are copyright of Sandy Stevenson, Tour Scotland, and may not be used without permission.

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