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Outline History - Churches in Scotland

This chart indicates the various divisions and amalgamations that have occurred in the Church of Scotland over the past four centuries.

Notes by Linda Merle

  • Auld Lichts: Favour state connections and covenants.
  • New Lichts: Oppose connections with state and held voluntary principle. Anti-covenanting.
  • Free Church: Favours state connection and state support of church.
  • Free Presbyterians: withdrew from Free Church in protest against the slackening of confessional standards. Conservative.
  • Original Secession Church: Now approx 3,000 members.
  • Reformed Presbyterians: Stand for a state church in a covenanted state. Only a few members remain.
  • Relief Church: Liberal, evangelical and anti-covenanting.
  • United Free: Opposes state connection and stands for ??
  • Wee Frees: Found on West coast and the Islands. 160 highland congregations remain out of the original 1900 union.


More information on the Covenant and some of Ayrshire's noted covenaters can be found here.


"The Scottish Church 1688-1843" by Andrew L Drummond and James Bulloch, published in Edinburgh in 1973; by the St Andrew's Press.

"The Church in Victorian Scotland 1843-1874" by Andrew L Drummond and James Bulloch, published in Edinburgh in 1973 and 1974 by the St Andrew's Press.

These books may help in the understand of the very many splits which took place in the church in Scotland in the 18th and 19th centuries, that cause great complications for the family historian.

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