The Post-Reformation Scottish Church on Head Coverings in Public Worship

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Subsection

Gillespie & Rutherford on Headcoverings

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Order of Contents

Historians  4
Church Courts  4
Individuals  12+

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Church Historians

Articles

1800’s

Edgar, Andrew – pp. 57 (with fn.), 111-13  in Lecture 2, ‘Public Worship in Olden Times’  in Old Church Life in Scotland: Lectures on Kirk Session & Presbytery Records, vol. 1  (1885)

Leishman, Thomas

pp. 401-2  of ‘The Ritual of the Scottish Church’  in ed. Robert Story, The Church of Scotland, Past & Present  (1890 ff.)

p. 331  in Appendix to the Directory  in The Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland… and the Directory for the Public Worship of  God…  with Historical Introductions and Illustrative Notes...  (Edinburgh: William Blackwood & Sons, 1868)

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1900’s

Dunbar, John Telfer – ch. 6, ‘Women’s Costume’  in History of Highland Dress…  (Philadelphia: Dufour Editions, 1964), pp. 91-111

This covers the 1500’s-1600’s, and cites many references from Church records for how women dressed in church.  Women commonly, but not universally, wore head coverings of some sort in public in general (distinguished often by economic class and having money to purchase such).  Hence they also, it appears, commonly wore head-coverings in church.

This chapter focuses on plaids, which had a reputation for being used by loose women.  As they were worn in such a way over the head and around the face, women could hide sleeping during church with them.

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David Hay Fleming

The Reformation in Scotland…  (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1910), pp. 301-2

“As penitent sinners of various kinds were ordered to sit in the church ”bare-heidit all the tyme of the sermons,’¹ it would appear that the members of the congregation kept their hats on during that time.  This is also implied by Knox’s statement that the Earl of Huntly pulled down his bonnet over his eyes when the preacher denounced certain vices.²

In 1637, George Gillespie says: ‘A man coming into one of our churches in time of public worship, if he see the hearers covered, he knows, by this customable sign, that sermon is begun.”‘³  Thomas Kirk, an Englishman, who visited Dundee in 1677, says: “We heard a sermon at the greatest church; they first sing a psalm, and then the minister begins his prayer, and as soon as he has taken his text they all put on their hats.’†

By the beginning of the eighteenth century many Scottish Presbyterians uncovered their heads during sermon.°  The custom survived in the Scottish Church at Rotterdam until at least the last quarter of the nineteenth century.  At one time the ministers of Scotland may have kept their hats on while preaching, as French and Dutch Protestant preachers did.ª

¹ Booke of the Universall Kirk, 2:692.
² Laing’s Knox, 2:362.
³ Dispute Against the English-Popish Ceremonies, 1637, part 3, p. 86.
† Kirk and Thoresby’s Tours in Scotland, p. 19. — In England, during part of the seventeenth century, it was customary for the people to sit in church with their hats on, and to take them off when they sang the Psalms (Brand’s Popular Antiquities, Bohn’s ed., 2:323).  Some lifted them at the name of Jesus [according to the Anglican custom] (Marsden’s Early Puritans, 1853, p. 347).
° An Examination of Three Prelatical Pamphlets, 1703, p. 18.
ª “He [i.e. Alix] was bold and brisk in the pulpit, and when he read his text, he cocked his hatt; but Claud, when he put on his hat, slipped it on, and drew down the sides of it” (Wodrow’s Analecta, 2:273).  ‘The ministers’ of the Church of Holland ‘are covered in the time of sermon’ (Lieut. -Col. Erskine to Wodrow in 1728, Edinburgh Christian Instructor, xxvii, 265).  This custom was approved by at least one eminent English [Independent] Puritan. “Mr. [Philip] Nye told us his private judgement, that in preaching he thinks the minister should be covered, and the people discovered; but in the sacrament, the minister should be discovered, as
a servant, and the guests all covered.” (Laing’s Baillie’s Letters, 2:149).”


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Church Courts

General Assembly

On the Perth Assembly, 1618

Alexander Peterkin, Records of the Kirk of Scotland…  (Edinburgh, 1838), Session 12, Dec. 4, 1638, pp. 161-2

“Mr James Cunninghame .said — The Bishop or pretended moderator [at the Perth Assembly, 1618], in his discourse which he had be way of preaching, he was there laboring to clear himself of any imputations which he said was laid on him for being the deviser of the 5 Articles, he took off his hat, which he had on all the time of the preaching and attested God that he never knew of the 5 Articles till the King sent them down…”

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On the Assemblies Generally

William Steuart of Pardovan, Collections & Observations concerning the Worship, Discipline & Government of the Church of Scotland  (Edinburgh, 1770), pp. 62-63

“After the assembly is thus constitute[d], the person representing the Sovereign produces the commission to him for that effect and ordinarily a letter also from the Sovereign to the Assembly, both which are publicly read with great honor and respect, the members standing all the time that the letter directed to them is a reading…  And all the time of the commissioner’s presence, the members sit uncovered.”

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Sessions

The Register of the Minister, Elders & Deacons of the Christian Congregation of St. Andrews, Comprising the Proceedings of the Kirk Session, & of the Court of the Superintendent of Fife, Fothrik & Strathhearn, 1559-1600  See also further relevant references on pp. 441, 572, 705, 731, 767, 785, 793, 866, 877, 886 & 921.

pp. 475-6

“March 1581

The which day, Thomas Reif younger, confessed to having committed adultery with Margaret Cluny, is discerned to compear upon Sunday next [and] to come with the said Margaret, clothed in sackcloth, bare headed and bare footed, and stand at the Kirk door from the second to the third bell to sermon before noon, and thereafter to compear upon the adulterer’s place of the penitent stool within the Kirk, and sit therein until the sermon be ended, and so forth to continue each Sunday until the Kirk be satisfied…”

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p. 551

“January 1584

The which day, compears Jhone Paterson, merchant and citiner in St. Andrews, who grants and confesses that he has had carnal dealings with Issobell Gray in adultery, he being married to Jonet Trymlay his spouse (he then admits his guilt but denies part of Issobell’s statement).  The Session, in respect of his confession, with one voice ordains the said Jhone Paterson, and also the said Issobell in respect of her confession, to begin, upon the Sunday next to come, their humiliation for the said offense; to wit that both together to compear clothed in sackcloth, bare headed, and bare footed at the Kirk of the said city, at the second bell to sermon before noon, and to stand there until the third bell to sermon be ceased; and thereafter to compear together on the highest degree of the penitent stool, and sit as said until the sermon and prayers be ended, and so forth to continue each Sunday until the Kirk be satisfied.”


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Individuals

1500’s

Intro to Knox

Analyze Silversides‘ use of Knox and Chrysostom in The First Blast of the Trumpet, which was likely contrary to the Scottish then ocurring [1547-1549] and at the Reformation [1560].

From multiple pictures, David Wilkie (d. 1841), 1599, he preached with a cap on like the Swiss and French, and Dutch.  He wore a hat normally, at least for a portrait, yet different from the preaching cap.  Certain men in the crowd have hats on.

If women covered was de facto the case, that doesn’t mean they derived it from 1 Cor. 11, as English women still wear hats in public ceremonies with the Queen.

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John Knox

The History of the Reformation of the Church of Scotland…  (Edinburgh, 1584; London, 1644), bk. 1, pp. 91-92  This story takes place in 1547-1549.

“Those [captives] that were in the gallies [of the boats], were threatned with torments if they would not give reverence to the mass (for at certain times the mass was said in the gallies, or else hard by upon the shore…) but they could never make the poorest of that company to give reverence to that idol: yea, when upon the Saturday at night they sung their Salve Regina [Save O Queen], all the Scotish men put on their caps, their hoods, or such things as they had to cover their heads…”

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1600’s

William Cowper

Seven Days Conference between a Catholic Christian & a Catholic Roman…  (London, 1613), the 7th Day, p. 219  Cowper was a bishop; this may reflect the episcopalian practice, imitating Anglicanism, of persons normally having their hats off the whole time they are in the church building (unless they keep them on for warmth).

“…then he falls to the preaching, which some hear with their heads covered, some otherwise (in that you may do as your health requires)…”

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Thomas Hog  1619

David Calderwood, The History of the Kirk of Scotland  (Edinburgh: Wodrow Society, 1845), vol. 7, pp. 375-6  This is an account of presbyterian minister Thomas Hog before the High Commission, 1619, explaining why he uncovers his head at the Lord’s Supper, but will not kneel before it.

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David Calderwood

Perth Assembly…  (1619), ‘Kneeling in the act of receiving the sacramental elements of bread and wine proved unlawful’, ‘Kneeling considered as it is a breach of the Second Commandment’, p. 48

“The uncovering of the head is a gesture of reverence, and yet the gentiles had their heads covered when they worshiped their gods, as Brissonius proves (Formulae, bk. 1).  Drusius proves the like of the Jews, that they covered their head when they prayed to God (Preterita, 1. Cor. 1:4).”

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A Re-examination of the Five Articles enacted at Perth, anno 1618…  (1636), Of the Communicants’ gesture in the act of receiving, eating and drinking’, 4th Part, ch. 5, ‘Kneeling in the act of receiving the sacramental elements of the supper is idolatry’, pp. 104-6

“[Margin Note:] The uncovering of the head not like kneeling

We uncover our heads, say they, when we receive the elements, why may we not also kneel?  I answer:

First, the uncovering of the head is a gesture of reverence only, and that only among some nations, but not of adoration.  The Jews, Turks and Mahometans pray with their heads covered.  The Grecians and Romans of old, howbeit they walked in public with uncovered heads, except in rain, great heat or mourning, yet in the service of their gods, they had their heads covered.  The Europeans this day uncover their heads when they are praying.  Kneeling is a gesture of adoration among all nations, either in civil or religious use.  Augustine says:

Honorat emnis qui adorat, no autem adorat omnes quid onorat;’

‘Every one that does adore, does honor, but not every one that honors, adores.’ Contra Serm. Arian., ch. 23

I will not kneel to every one to whom I uncover my head civilly.  Everyone that stands with his head uncovered in presence of the king is not adoring, as he is who is presenting his petition to the king upon his knee in their sight.  A provincial synod holden at London (anno 1603) ordained the head to be uncovered when their service is read in the Church, yet I think they would not have enjoined kneeling.

We [the Scots] hear the canonical scripture read [in the administration of the Lord’s Supper] with uncovered heads, but yet we kneel not.  The words of Christ, which He uttered at the institution are still and often uttered; that same voice sounds through all the tables of the world; his actions, which were divine and holy, are reiterat[ed].

In Gratian’s decree (De consecrat. dist. 1, ch. 68) we have a superstitious direction of Pope Anastasius, that when the Gospel is read in the Church, those that are present shall not sit, but stand, venerabiliter curvi, bowing reverently, hearken and adore.  Wherefore more at the hearing of the Gospel than the [reading of the] Epistle[s], which is also Evan∣gelical?  Yet you see, howbeit that standing with bowing be more than to have the head uncovered, it was but veneration.  And, whereas he says, Et fideliter adorent, the gloss has, id est venerentur, because the word ‘adoring’ is taken there in a large sense, as ye may see [in] sundry places above cited, not for that which is in a strict sense called adoration.

Adoration in strict sense is kneeling or prostration.  Whereas Matthew says, ch. 8, of the leprous man, that he worshipped Christ, or adored Christ, as the Latin translation has according to the original, Mk. 1:40, He kneeled down to Him, and Luke 5:12, that he fell in his face.  Suchlike, where it is said of the Cananitish woman, Mt. 15:25, that she worshipped, or adored Him: et adoravit eum, Mk. 7:25, it is said that she fell at his feet.  The Greek word [Greek], signifies to fall down like a dog owhelp at the feet of another, as our Lord.

Further, our heads are not other way uncovered in the act of receiving than in the rest of the time of the celebration when we are not near the elements.

And thirdly, the uncovering of our head is compatible with the variety of actions in time of celebration: praying, singing, the words of the institution, and chapters read, but adoration directed, as they pretend to God, cannot be without presenting our petitions and thanks to God, which requires a several part of the action by itself.”

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Walter Balcanquhall

The Honor of Christian Churches & the Necessity of Frequenting of Divine Service & Public Prayers in them.  Delivered in a Sermon at White-Hall before the King’s most excellent Majesty…  (London, 1633), p. 14  Balcanquhall (1586?–1645) was a Scottish clergyman who became a staunch royalist and supporter of the church policy of Charles I of England (which was fundamentally Anglican), Balcanquhall being the author the defense of the King’s actions against the Scots in the 2nd Reformation, His Majestie’s Large Declaration concerning the Late Tumults in Scotland (1639).

“How few be they in our times, who by observing this distance do declare that they believe the Church to be God’s house, how many that come in without preparing themselves at first by devotion and prayer?  How many who clap on their hats when God is speaking to them by his Word, I meane in the time when the very text is reading?  Nay the servant who will be uncovered before this master in his own house, will many times be covered before him in God’s house; all which bewrays that many men do either take the Church not to be ‘my house’ [Mt. 21:13], that is, God’s; or (which is worse) God’s house not to be so good as their own.”

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John Weemes

A Treatise of the Four Degenerate Sons…  wherein are handled many…  sundry places of Scripture, cleared out of the original tongues.  Being the fourth volume, of the Works…  (London, 1636), On the 3rd Degenenerate Son, the Idolater, section 6, pp. 264-5

“First, their head [of the idolaters in Ahab’s time]; they prayed before their idols with their heads covered, because the people of the East worshipped their great men with their heads covered; therefore they prayed after the same manner, and honored their idols standing before them with their heads covered.  Maimonides says that religious outward worship should be given after the same manner as they worshipped great men, and he adds, nisi forte sit mos illius loci, ut quis stet coram magnatibus aperto capite, that is, ‘unless it be the manner of men in that place to stand bare-headed, when they do reverence to great men’; where we see that the gesture and the manner of praying is to be accommodated to the custom of the place where one lives, and they should testifie their outward reverence be such signes as men testify their reverence to great men.  This manner of worship varies in sundry parts. Maimonides wrote his Mishna in Egypt, and amongst the Mahometans who uncover not their heads before great men, but bow only their head before them; and therefore when they pray they uncover not their head:

So the Jews both the priests and people uncover not the head in time of divine service.  The priests had such bonnets upon their heads which could not easily be taken off and put on as ours, and when they came abroad they never uncovered their heads; but when they made great lamentation they uncovered their heads, and cast ashes upon them:

But the Christians in the West, when they do reverence to their superiors, they always uncover their heads; and therefore it is the fittest gesture for us to uncover our heads when we pray.

The Jews who live here in Europe, when they are in their synagogues, they never uncover their heads, which is altogether contrary to the custom of Europe: They salute great men here uncovering their heads, and so should they pray according to the canon of Maimonides; but they do this in despite of the Christians:

The apostle, 1 Cor. 11, wills men to be uncovered, and women to be covered, when they pray, because that was the usual form amongst the Grecians, for the men did uncover their heads, when they did any reverence to their superiours; and the women had vails which covered their heads and faces when they came abroad: therefore he would not have them uncovered in time of prayer.”

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Robert Baillie

An Historical Vindication of the Government of the Church of Scotland…  (1646), ‘The Unloading of Issachar’s Burden’, p. 18

“That either in Scotland, or anywhere else in the world, the hair of any person is commanded to be cut by any Church judicatory, for disgrace and punishment, is (as I take it) but a foolish fable.”

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James Durham

The Dying Man’s Testament of the Church of Scotland or, A Treatise concerning Scandal  (Edinburgh, 1659), ch. 6, pp. 25-26

“Assertion Two. Yet in other things there ought to be great respect had to offense, and men ought to be swayed accordingly in their practice, as the former reasons clear.  As (1), if the matter is of light concernment in itself, as how men’s gestures are in their walking (suppose in walking softly, or quickly, with cloak or without) men ought to do, or abstain, as may prevent the construction of pride, lightness, etc., or give occasion to others in any of these.  Of such sort was womens’ praying with their heads uncovered amongst the Corinthians, it being then taken for an evil sign.

Yet if it is necessary, there is nothing little, as Moses will not leave a hoof (Exod. 10), or Mordecai bow his knee to Haman, because it looked like fawning on an accursed enemy.  Of this sort also are offenses in the fashions of clothes, as some men’s wearing of ribbons, and such like, which being of small concernment, ought certainly to be regulated be offense.”

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Heaven upon Earth, in the Serene Tranquillity & Calm Composure, in the Sweet Peace & Solid Joy of a Good Conscience...  (Edinburgh, 1685), sermon 2, on Acts 24:16, p. 27

“…for when the Word determines not, conscience (though misinformed) casts the balance to the side which it judges to be necessary; As for instance, if a man think it a sin to hear the Word with the head uncovered, he is oblidged to cover his head, and contrarily;

For conscience there casts the balance: but when the thing is unlawful on the matter, it may bind him up, while it remains in an error, so as he cannot without sin counteract its dictate; but it never oblidges him to sin.”

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David Dickson

(London, 1659), on 1 Cor. 11, ‘The Seventh Article  concerning Order & Decency’

On vv. 13-15

“Argument 8.  Common sense and nature itself, or natural inclination (so he calls settled custom, and agreeable to nature, in respect to what is comely) dictates that it is unseemly for a woman to pray uncovered, or that a man should wear long hair, and the contrary is decent: Therefore you observe no decorum when you be∣have your selves otherwise.”

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On v. 16

“Argument 9.  If any perhaps should not be moved by these arguments, but should contend, the apostle opposes to their contentious apologies the received and established custom of the Jews and the rest of the Churches: Other Churches have no such custom, that women should be present at publick assemblies, with their heads uncovered, and the man with his head covered: Therefore your custom not agreeing with decency, either according to natural use, or of the Churches, is altogether unseemly.”

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William Guild

The Throne of David, or an Exposition of the Second of Samuel…  (Oxford, 1659), on 2 Sam. 15:30 to the end, p. 214

“First then David’s piety appears in these two actions:…

2. By the manner of his going barefoot.  3. With his head covered [2 Sam. 15:30-32].  Which was the Jewish custom of mourners, as we see, v. 32, and ch. 13:19

2. His piety appears in his prayer which he made to God, v. 31…”

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Bishop John Sage

Works  (Edinburgh: Spottiswoode Society, 1844), vol. 1, The Fundamental Charter of Presbytery…  Examined & Disproved…  pp. 360-61  This is his tirade against presbyterians.

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Gilbert Rule

The Good Old Way Defended…  wherein the Divine Right of the Government of the Church by Presbyters acting in Parity, is Asserted…  (Edinburgh, 1697)  Rule was a leading father of the Revolution Church of Scotland who wrote numerous works at that time for the divine right of presbyterianism.

section 6, p. 87

“1 Cor. 11:16, ‘We have no such custom, nor the churches of Christ’…  the apostle is there speaking of things wherein custom is indeed the rule, as having the head bare, or covered, wearing long or short hair: it does not thence follow (if the apostle did there make it the rule) that it must also be the rule in other things…

he [the episcopalian opponent] pretends to convince us further, that Augustine distinguished the custom of the universal Church from the custom of particular places, and he makes the one mutable, the other not so.  He needed not be at pains to convince us of that distinction.  I know nobody that doubts of it, nor that reject the customs that are truly universal, unless they clash with Scripture.”

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section 12, pp. 275-6

“…we did never condemn all significant rites in religion, even though they be not founded on divine institution.  Uncovering the head is a significant rite, and we know no divine institution for it; and yet we use it in the worship of God, viz. prayer and several other exercises; and will separate from no Church because of it.

That a minister preach in a decent garb, and not in a fool’s coat, is a significant rite used in religion, not founded on divine institution, yet we shall not separate for enjoyning that.”

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John Brown of Haddington

The Self-Interpreting Bible, containing the Old & New Testaments…  new ed.  (d. 1787; Edinburgh, 1831), on 1 Cor. 11:14, pp. 1164, rt col

“14. Does not even nature itself, which has prompted all civilized nations to preserve an apparent distinction of the sexes, teach you, that, according to the custom of your country, it would be reckoned effeminate in a man to wear his hair in the length and form of a woman’s.”

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