Athelstaneford Kirk Session minutes CH2/18/1 p. 180
Athelstaneford 27th April 1834
This day the Session met and being constituted by prayer, compeared Janet Brook charged with being with child. Being interrogated she acknowledged the truth of the charge and declared that Mr Thomas Darling, tenant of West Fortune is the father of the child, with which she has been pregnant eight months. She said that Mr Darling promised to support the child. She was admonished and dismissed. Sederunt closed with prayer.
CH2/18/1 p. 182-185
Athelstaneford 11th July 1834
The Kirk Session of Athelstaneford met according to appointment and was constituted, consisting of the Moderator and Mr Walter Gibson, Mr Francis Shirreff and Sir David Kinloch Baronet, Elders. Sir David Kinloch stated that the object of this meeting was to make a brief statement of facts relative to the conduct of Mr Darling, farmer in this parish, when a short statement was laid before the meeting, with being altered and amended is as follows –
Mr Thomas Darling a farmer in this parish, having been accused of Adultery with Janet Brook, and the Minister having written him a friendly letter, advising him to subject to the Rules of the Church, and get the matter settled, Mr Darling in replay acknowledged his guilt, and proposed to pay a fine for behoof of the poor of this parish; but said he would not appear before the Kirk Session, and if this was indispensable, his case must remain on the same footing in which it stands.
The usual time of dispensing the Lord’s Supper in this parish being at hand, and Mr Darling having acknowledged himself guilty of adultery, the Kirk Session had no idea that he would claim the privilege of Church membership until he was regularly absolved from the scandal under which he lay; but on the Saturday before the Communion, the day on which tokens are given, he demanded a token from the Elders, which they refused, in consequence of which many abusive expressions were uttered against them by him.
His wife having got a token, he took it from her and violently threw it away as far as he could. On the Sabbath morning he behaved to the Elders in a similar manner, and his conduct was so abusive and outrageous as to put one of the Elders into such a state of agitation that it was with difficulty he could perform the duties of his office that day. His conduct at that time was so violent as to be heard within the Church, and disturbed part of the congregation whilst worshipping. Notwithstanding his being refused a token, and being remonstrated with by the Elders, Mr Darling intruded himself to the Lord’s table, and the Kirk Session, in order to prevent a riot and confusion in the Church during the solemnity did not use force to remove him from the table.
The Kirk Session of Athelstaneford can not overlook this outrage and daring violation of the Rules of the Church, and in order to prevent similar outrages being committed in time to come, they will, if advised to do so, apply to his Majesty’s Solicitor General, that this disorderly person be prosecuted in some competent Court, there being much ground to suspect that his conduct on his occasion was intended to throw contempt on our venerable Church and on her office bearers.
In the meantime the Kirk Session resolve to lay the above statement of facts before the learned Procurator for the Church of Scotland, and they respectfully crave his advice in this case.
The Kirk Session feel it their duty to lay a similar statement of this case before the Presbytery of Haddington, to whom they look up with great respect, for advice and direction in this and in other difficult cases.
CH2/18/1 p. 186
Athelstaneford 22nd August 1834
The Kirk Session of Athelstaneford being met and constituted by prayer, they did and hereby do, agreeably to the advice of the Presbytery of Haddington, issue a summons to Mr Thomas Darling, farmer of West Fortune, to attend a Meeting of the Kirk Session of this Parish, immediately after Sermon on Sabbath first, if convenient for him, or at farthest on Sabbath the 31st current, immediately after Sermon. And the Kirk Session appoint John Paterson, Kirk Officer of this Parish, to leave this summons at the house of Mr Darling before witnesses. This meeting closed with prayer.
Athelstaneford 22nd August 1834
The Kirk Session of this Parish being met and constituted, they reviewed their statement of the 11th of July last relative to Mr Darling. They adhere to that statement and they hereby refer the whole of it, so far as it bears on his conduct, to the consideration of the Presbytery of Haddington.
Athelstaneford 7th Sep 1834
This day the Kirk Session met, and being constituted by prayer, compeared Janet Brook (see minute 27th April 1834). Being suitably rebuked and admonished she was absolved from the scandal of the offence. Sederunt closed with prayer.
Presbytery of Haddington CH2/185/14 p. 128-129
Haddington 2d September 1834
There was produced and read a Reference from the Kirk Session of Athelstaneford dated 22d August 1834. The Presbytery sustained the Reference, and appointed their officer to summon Mr Thomas Darling farmer at West Fortune to appear before the Presbytery on the 4th day of October next at 12 o’clock noon to answer the Charges of Adultery and profane intrusion on the Ordinance of Our Lord’s Supper. And also to summon the Kirk Session of Athelstaneford to appear before them on the same day.
CH2/185/14 p. 130
Haddington 14th October 1834
Parties having been called in the case referred to the Presbytery from the Kirk Session of Athelstaneford. Compeared for the Kirk Session the Revd William Ritchie, and Sir David Kinloch, Elder. And Mr Thomas Darling for himself. After mature deliberation the Presbytery agreed to delay giving judgment in this case till next meeting.
CH2/185/14 p 132
Haddington 9th December 1834
Parties having been called in the case from the Kirk Session of Athelstaneford there appeared the Reverend Mr Ritchie for the Kirk Session, and Mr Darling for himself, with Mr Younger as his Counsel. Parties having been heard, and Mr Darling having been interrogated whether he cordially and unqualifiedly expressed his sorrow and contrition both in the sight of God and of man for the sin of Adultery and profane intrusion on the Lord’s Supper with which he had been charged before the Presbytery, he replied that he did so unqualifiedly. And being also interrogated whether he would willingly submit himself to the authority of the Kirk Session of Athelstaneford according to the rules of the Church, he also replied that he would do so willingly.
After reasoning the Presbytery agreed to remit this most distressing and important case to the Kirk Session of Athelstaneford with instructions to proceed according to the rules of the church; and before they proceed to absolve Mr Darling, to report to the Presbytery, which report shall lie on the table till the next ordinary meeting thereafter.
Without the Kirk Session records, it might not otherwise have been possible to identify David's father. These entries also illustrate how individual Kirk Sessions could refer cases to their Presbytery for a ruling. As well as revealing the likely father of David Darling, the entries also reveal something of the character of Thomas Darling. You can see what other records are available for Athelstaneford here.