Friday, 31 December 2010

Old Scots' Monument

On 3 June 1899 the New York Times reported on plans for a memorial to be erected in Freedhold, New Jersey.  It was to mark the site of the Old Scots Meeting House and was to be known as the Old Scots' Monument.  The monument was to be unveiled in the third week of October 1899 when the Presbyterian Synod of New Jersey met at Asbury Park.

The following in taken verbatim from the New York Times report:

The granite for the monument has been quarried in Ireland, Scotland and New England in honour of the three men who constituted the first presbytery in this country and ordained John boyd as first pastor of the Old Scots Church in 1706.  The church was torn down long ago but the Old Scots' burying ground is still visited by tourists.

The mother church was located near Bradevelt.  The official records extant of the Presbyterian Church in this country begin abruptly in the midst of the ordination of John boyd, on December 29, 1706, in the Old Scots' Meeting house of Freehold.  The first two pages of the original manuscript have been lost, and, therefore, it is not claimed positively that the Old Scots' Church was the original Presbyterian Church in america, but only that it is the first one referred to in the existing records.  Francis Makemie, as Moderator; Jedidiah Andrews, of Philadelphia, and John Hampton, then recently from Ireland, composed the presbytery which ordained John Boyd.  Walter Ker was the elder of the old church.

The Rev William Tennent, Jr., wrote in 1774:
It was the first in East Jersey on the west side of the Raritan River, which was settled with the Gospel ministry.  This was owing to the agency under God of some Scotch people that came to it, amongst whom there was none so painful in the blessed undertakings as one Walter Ker, who, in the year 1685, for his faithful and conscientious adherence to God and His truth as professed by the Church of Scotland, was there apprehended and sent to this country under a sentence of perpetual banishment.
A pilgrimage was made to the site of the Old Scots Church in June, 1895, under the auspices of the Synod of New Jersey.  The pilgrimage receivbed the endorsement of both the Southern and Northern General Assemblies by the appointment of delegates to it, and resulted in a call for the erection of a monument to commemorate the events and the men thus intimately connected with the beginnings of the organic Presbyterian Church in America.

On the gables of the monument four bronze historic seals will be placed, and on one side will be a bronze tablet with the Latin inscription fom the tomb of John Boyd, who died in 1708.

A suitable plot of ground at Old Scots' has been conveyed by deed to the Trustees of the Synod of New Jersey, and the monument proper is now nearly completed.

I have written the following notes to highlight the Ulster-Scots element of this story:

Francis Makemie was born of Scottish parents near Ramelton, county Donegal, about the year 1658. He was converted at fifteen and enrolled in Glasgow University in February 1676 as Scoto Hyburnus (Scotch-Irish). Each term he sailed from Donaghadee to Portpatrick and walked the rest of the journey! Makemie was presented to the Laggan presbytery as a student for the ministry in 1680 and preached at Burt in 1682.  His first 15 years in America were spent as a travelling evangelist in Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia. His work on the eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia led to the formation of four or five churches, notably Rehoboth and Snow Hill. He visited Philadelphia in 1692 and planted the seed of Presbyterianism there. Makemie combined business with preaching and in 1704 he was the owner of 5,109 acres of land.

John Hampton was born in Burt, county Donegal, and was the son of Rev William Hampton, a Scot who was ordained in Burt in September 1673 but seems to have returned to Scotland around 1689.  In 1704 Francis Makemie returned to the British Isles seeking financial support, prayer and more ministers. He brought John Hampton back with him to America and he was minister at Snow Hill Presbyterian Church, which had been established through Makemie.

Jedidiah Andrews, the third minister in the presbytery, was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts, and was the son of Captain Thomas Andrews, who was born in England.  He was educated at Harvard College in Maryland.

John Boyd, the minister who was ordined, was probably Scottish and his ministry was short.  It lasted less than two years, for he died on 30 August 1708, at the age of twenty-nine.

William Tennent (1705-1777), who is mentioned in the article, was born in county Antrim and was the second of four sons of Rev William Tennent (1673-1745).  He emigrated from Ulster to America with his father and was educated at the Log College at Neshaminy, Pennsylvania.  His brother John Tennent died in 1732 and William succeeded him as pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Freehold.  He was ordained there on 25 October 1733 and ministered in that congregation for forty-four years until his death.  William Tennent was thoroughly evangelical and evangelistic and a trustee of the College of New Jersey.

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