Thursday, 17 February 2011

A new Glasite Church accession

Archive Services recently received a major accession of material relating to the Glasite churches from a depositor in Edinburgh. The accession augments the already substantial collection of Glasite material held by the Archives. It contains a large quantity of manuscript and printed items, including first editions of works by John Glas and Robert Sandeman, as well as a copy of what is said to be the first published hymn book in Scotland Hymns and Spiritual Songs.

This new accession will be of interest to scholars across the world. In recent years academic researchers from Oklahoma and California have come to Dundee to examine the Glasite material because some denominations in America, in particular the Churches of Christ, trace part of their spiritual ancestry to the Glasites. The image below is from a list of members of the Church that was established in New Hampshire in the 18th century.

List of members of the Church in New Hampshire, 1765
The Glasite Church itself originated in Dundee and the surrounding area. John Glas was a Church of Scotland minister in Tealing whose fundamentalist views and opposition to secular authority over the church led to his expulsion from the Dundee Presbytery in 1730. Most of his congregation decided to follow him and thus the ‘Kail Kirk’ was established. Kail Kirk was a nickname which resulted from the congregation’s celebration of the biblical ‘love-feast’ in which cabbage, or kail, broth was served.

Other congregations were established throughout Scotland and, although the church members referred to themselves simply as ‘Christians’, the Church became known as the ‘Glasite Church.’ John Glas’ son-in-law, Robert Sandeman, took the Glasite doctrinal approach to England, then ultimately to New England. In England and North America the church was usually known as the Sandemanian church and one of its most famous members was the English scientist Michael Faraday. The Glasite material in the Archives contains some of Faraday’s correspondence and examples of occasions when, as an Elder, he officiated at sacraments such as baptisms.

As well as correspondence, spiritual writings, and lists of members, the collection contains a number of diaries kept by travellers from England and America visiting Dundee and Angus, where their Church was first founded. The diaries offer an interesting insight into 19th century life in Dundee, including a traveller’s first encounter with a new piece of technology, the telephone! Although the collection is particularly important for anyone interested in non-conformist religion during the 18th and 19th centuries, it contains a variety of material that will be of interest to many different types of researchers.

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