The History of Leith

June 28, 2004

A Communion at South Leith Church in 1692

The Presbyterians returned from the Meeting House in 1692 and the communion that year was no ordinary affair as the Kirk Records testify. The Church was cleared and all the seats removed as in former times so that the tables could be se up as in former times.

Instructions were given to provide six dozen fine wheat bread and six gallons of claret Wine and new tablecloths and linen also additional tokens are mentioned as well. The ministers of Currie and Abercorn were engaged to assist our minister Me Wishart. The Treasurer was recommended to view the Church and see how many candles would be needed and to order them accordingly. The minister intimated that if there be any people from the country that did not the quarters the elders and Deacons were to conduct them to some empty lodgings to stay in. An exact order of communion was drawn up assigning to each elder his particular duty and the following directions were given as to tokens-

“You are to distribute ye tokens according to the following directions

1) You are to give none tokens but whose names are underwritten.
2) Give to none till they signify there desire to Communicate.
3) If any of these be strangers you are not to give them any tokens unless they show their Testimonials
4) Give to nobody who are known to be scandalous
5) Give none to those who are feuding and not reconciled
6) Give none to such are marked unless they be in earnest an serious
7) Exhort to all that you give tokens to serious examination and preparation
8) Any tokens left over to be returned to the minister

It should be noted that in the 17th century white bread was a luxury and that bread at this time was made up of coarse oats and rye. This would have been baked by a local baker. The Claret was the wine used at Communion up to the time of the Napoleonic War when due to it be French was replaced by Port.

“Firm and erect the Caledonian stood
Good was his mutton and his claret good
“Let him drink port” the English Statesman cried
He drank the poison and his spirit died”

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