The Parish of Kirk Arbory in 1665

Bishop Barrow’s Enquiry

Edited by DAVID CRAINE, M.A.

IN 1665 the able and energetic Bishop Barrow addressed a searching questionnaire to the churchwardens of each parish in the diocese. By far the fullest return was provided by Kirk Arbory. It is in the handwriting of the Vicar, Sir John Crellin, who presumably set it down to the dictation of the wardens.

He was the son of Thomas Crellin, who had some employment in Peel Castle, where his cousin, Henry Crellin, was Master Gunner. Sir John was in charge of the cure of Kirk Arbory in 1652, but was not formally inducted as Vicar until eight years later, after the parishioners had signed a petition for his appointment. The tribute his flock paid him in that document is in agreement with the charming Vicar of Wakefield-like portrait presented by the wardens in their answers to the Bishop.

The Vicar was Episcopal Register in 1664, and died in 1670 leaving a son Thomas.

The list of questions circulated is not to be found, but their import is generally made evident in the replies. The introductory ‘ To the first question we answer,’ etc., prefixed to each paragraph in the original, has been omitted.



[Episcopal Registry, 1665]


The Churchwardens Answer is that all is re paired but the porch wch the old Churchwardens were to repaire & is as yet undone through their neglect ; and also the Floor is unpaived, wch never was usuall nor accustomed to be paived.1

We know of nothing sold or Imbezeled.

There is a font, but noe Covering, and in the Chancell there is a Communion Table placed according to order, but no Carpett of Silke stuffe or good or bad Cloath, wch they say was not usuall ; but a fine Linnen Cloath tht Mrs. Stevenson lately bestowed upon the Church ; & as for plate, patten, flagon of pewter or purer mettall there is none but onely a Silver boule.2.

There is an Indifferent seate for the Minister to read Service but somewhat obscure ; & as for the pulpitt there is noe Cloath at all nor Cushion, nor book of homilies ; nor Table of Degrees wherein marriage is prohibitted.

There is noe surplush as yet.

All [the Register] is compleate but the trans cript not brought yearely to the Bopps Registry wch was never accustomed.

There is a strong chest, but the lockes & keyes wants repairing for the present, a biere wee have but noe blacke hearse cloath, nor box for the poore wch never was as yet used here


For this present the Churchyard hedge is some-what fenced from the anoyance of any beast wthout it be geese.

The Vicarage house & Gleebe in our apprehension is in good repaire, but as for the markes & bounds of the ground wee know nothing of them.


Our Minister [was] ordained by a Bopp according to the Lawes of the Church, but referrs him to the Bopp or his Reverend substitutes.

Our Vicar is noe way guilty of any Simonaicall Contract or any other unlawfull means but hee was legally instituted & inducted & tht by alection and probation, but as for reading the 39 Articles wthin 2 moneth after his Institution or Induction neither hee nor wee never heard of it before; notwithstanding as soon as it will be sent to him hee is ready & willing to embrace & doe it without any further delay.

The Minister doth in the severall offices of the Church without omission, alteration or addition in the words & forme prescribed in the Booke of Common Prayer as also the rites & Ceremonies there prescribed according to our apprehension.

The Minister observes holy dayes, fasting dayes & ember weekes, [ &] the yearely prambulation.

The Minister instructs the Children diligently & prepares them to be Confirmed by the Bopp.

Wee never knew the minister presume to marry any persons in private houses under 21 yeares of age nor without the consent of parents or baines [banns] & tht wthin the Canonicall houres.

The Minister never neglected to visite the sicke nor baptize any Childe in danger or weake; neither does hee admitt of the parents to be God-fathers or Godmothers, but does all according to the Booke of Common Prayer.

The Minister in his sermons preacheth no schismaticall Doctrine tending to faction or disturbance of the publicke peace according to our palyements, but hee preaches true and sound Doctrine to his Congregation in knowledge, faith & obeydience.

Our Vicar is in our apprehension sober and unblaimable in his life neither doth hoe accompany any vitious or excommunicate psns neither is hee a drinker, swearer, gambster or quarreler, and as for his apparell it is but baire though grave and according to the fashion of the Country and colour poore, and as for his behaviour in any kinde he is affable, without scandal but as it becomes a minister.

The Minister records the names of all persons baptized, maried & buried in the Church booke with the names of their parents as usuall.


We have none amongest us tht refuses to come to the publicke prayers & service of the Church according to the Religion tht is established in the Church of England.

We know noe adulterer or fornicator by common fame, nor Drunkards, Swearers or Blasphemers of God’s name.

Wee know none tht workes on the Sunday or holy dayes.

Every person inhabiting within the parish doe duly report to the Church. every Lords day for the most part, but none or very few tht comes on holy dayes ; & there some of them abides reverently & uncovered wth kneeling at the Name of Jesus.

There is none in the parish tht refuses to send their Children to be baptized publickely in the Church & tht by a lawfull minister ; neither have wee any Anabaptists to keepe their Children from baptisme ; but rather they come the same day to be baptized tht the Childe is borne ; wch is usuall here amongst us.

Some of the householders in the parish causes their Children & servants to learne their Catechisme & some others doe not as yet.

All of 16 yeeres of age well instructed in Religion doth frequently receive the Lords Supper at Easter but not else saveing onely some old people tht receives thrice in the yeare.

Wee have noe excommunicated persons amongst us in our parish.

Noe Bigamy tht wee know in our parish but by hearesay, wee heare tht there is one Bell married wthout divorchment ; wch was before our time.

The woemen after the perill of Childe birth comes decently to publicke service to give God thanks for their safe delivery.

There are in our parish some tht burie in the Church & Chancell & denies to pay their assessment for the repairing of the Church & porch.

There is none refuses to bury their dead, neither is there any Wills & Testaments unproved wth us.

Concerning contention about pewes or seats in the Church there is some strife not as yet determined.


Wee have a sufficient Parish Clerke of honest life & conversation & above 21 yeares of age; but as for his wages, whether it be duly paid wee know nothing of.

The Clearke lookes to the doore of the Church, tht they be locked & opened as occasion serves, & hee tolls the bell or rings it when demanded & as the custome of the Parish is.

Our Parish Clerke doth noe way intermeddle wth any Sacred office belonging to the minister.


Wee have neither pitblicke nor private schoole kept, but a woman schoolmistris for little children & whether shee have license or not wee know nothing.

Concerning practice [of] physicke or chyrurgery or midwives wee know nothing, for it was never usuall among us.


They are chosen by the Minister & old Church-wardens according to the ancient custom of the parish.

Neither the former nor last Churchwardens have as yet given an accompt to the parishioners.

There is none tht absent themselves in our Parish from the service or sermons upon Sun-dayes, but on the holy dayes they are many of them remisse & very neglective.

There is very few or none tht weares their hatts by sitting, or throwing their hatts upon the Communion Table3 ; but as for a Rale wee have none as yet sett up.

There is one appointed to keepe the dogges out of the Church but it is a hard taske for him to doe.

There is bread and wine provided according to the number of Communicants according to Custome.

There is noe Presentments without consultation wth the Minister for his assistance.

Concerning the bequeathing of legasies to the poore the most of the parishioners sayes tht they will never yeeld to it but after the old Custome.4

The Churchwardens names are these : Nicolas Brideson : Nicolas Harrison, John Cloaig & John Cubone5


1 The returns show that other churches also were unpaved. The excuses given in the case of Kirk Malew were the great poverty of the people and the fact that the floor was often disturbed by interments. It was covered with rushes and bent.

2 This ‘ silver boule ‘ has not been in the church for many years. As a result of Bishop Barrow’s Enquiry a ‘ death bell ‘ and candlestick were removed from the Altar of Kirk Andreas.

3 Some worshippers in other parishes had been accustomed to wear their hats in church, except during Prayers.

4 In 1664 the Bishop had found, after enquiry, that ‘ the supervisors, administrators and friends of the deceased make use of the best of the gifts to the poor by eating and drinking them at their funeralls.’—(Episcopal Register.)

5 By reference to the Manorial Rolls of Kirk Arbory we learn that Nicholas Brideson held the quarterland of Ballavarkish in the treen of Ardary on the east side of the parish; Nicholas Harrison held Ballacallow in Colby treen to the west ; John Cloaig held Ballaclague in Ballafaden Treen adjoining the church; and John Cubone had Ballacray (at Colby village) in Ballacarmyk Treen.

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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2000