The History of Leith

October 17, 2011

St. James’s Episcopalian church

Between Constitution Street and the Links stands St. James’s Episcopalian church, an ornate edifice in the Gothic style, designed by Sir Gilbert Scott, having a fine steeple, containing a chime of bells. It was built in 1862-3, succeeding a previous chapel of 1805 (erected at the cost of £1610)on an adjacent site, and to which attention was frequently drawn from the literarycelebrity of its minister, Dr. Michael Russell, the author of a continuation of Prideaux’s ” Connection of Sacred and Profane History,” and other works. According to Arnot, the congregation had an origin that was not uncommon in the eighteenth century.
After the battle of Culloden, “when the persecution was set on’ foot against those of the Episcopal communion in Scotland who did not take the oaths required by law, the meeting-house in Leith was shut up by the sheriff of the county. Persons of this persuasion being thus deprived of the form of worship their principles approved, brought from the neighbouring country Mr. John Paul, an English
clergyman, who opened this chapel on the 23rd June, 1749. It is called St. James’s chapel. Till of late the congregation only rented it, but within these few years they purchased it for £200.
The clergyman has about £60 a year salary, and the organist ten guineas. These are paid out of the seat rents, collections, and voluntary contributions among the hearers. It is, perhaps, needless to add that there are one or more meeting-houses for sectaries in this place (Leith), for in Scotland there are few towns, whether of importance or insignificant, whether populous or otherwise, where there are not congregations of sectaries.”

source-Old and New Edinburgh
The congregation of St. James’s chapel received, in about the year 1810, the accession of a nonjuring congregation of an earlier date, says a writer in 1851, referring, doubtless, to that formed in the time of the Rev. Mr. Paul.

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