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April 12th 1668

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Sabbath drinking

In the lake of Menteith there are three islands; Inchtalla where the Earls of Menteith built their castle, Dog Island only a few yards in diameter where the Earls had their kennels, and the largest island of them all, Inchmahome.

This was the site of the very fine priory of Inchmahome built about 1250. Though today the priory is in ruins there is still enough standing to demonstrate what an imposing building it must once have been. It was here that Mary Queen of Scots was sent for safety after the battle of Pinkie. After the Reformation the importance of the priory declined. The estates were granted to the Erskine family and from them, at the end of the 17th Century, to the Marquis of Montrose. In 1926 the 6th Duke of Montrose placed the priory in the care of the state. During the summer months there is a regular ferry service to the island. It is well worth a visit.

Opposite Inchmahome lies the small village of Port of Menteith. In the period after the restoration of Charles 2nd the village seems to have encountered a problem of drunkenness but principally of drinking on the Sabbath day. It was at a time when Episcopalian ‘curates’ were thrust upon congregations who were less than enthusiastic about their moral qualities or ecclesiastical competence. Perhaps it was a gesture of protest to visit the ale-house rather than the church.

Whatever the reason, the session felt compelled to intercede and on February 23rd 1668 “acted and ordained that no bear or ell seller within the paroch, shall sell ell after sermon, except in case of necessitie, the folk be thirsty or fant, they drink a chapon of ell, or those that are sick or those that are strangers.”  A chapon (or chopin) was a Scots half- pint but equivalent to 1½ pints Imperial measure.

In spite of this ordinance the problem remained. April 12th. “The session also considering the necessitie of reforming their own lives befor they endeavor any such thing among others have ordained that none of their number shall, after both sermons ended, goe into any ell house except in case of real necessitie or for searching, under pain of twentie shilling Scots for the first time, and thereafter this is to be doubled toties quoties.” 

But even this proved insufficient to eliminate “that old sin and scandall of this paroch of drinking the wholl Lord’s day.” 

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