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presbytery could find ‘na sufficient testimony of the deathe of hir
said husband’. Another defendant’s claim that ‘he is trewlie infor-
mit’ that his wife had ‘departit furth of this lyf in Ingland lang
befoir’ left the presbytery with the perplexing problem of whether
his ‘fault be adultrie or fomicatioun’.1
Paternity cases were also heard by the presbytery so that the father
might be made responsible for the child’s welfare. In 1584, the
presbytery sought to establish the identity of the father of a child by
interrogating the mother and suspected father, and by examining
the evidence of the midwife and wimesses ‘insafar as thai knaw’.
When a parishioner of Lecropt in 1586 declined to have a child
baptised ‘becaus it was nocht his’, the presbytery ordered him
‘ather to intent actione of devorcement befoir the juge ordinar
againis his said spous for gaitting of the said baime in adultrie and
thairby to pruif hir ane hure, or ellis acknawlege and confes the
said bairne to be his awin’, though the matter was finally resolved
when his wife ‘deponit be hir grit aythe’ that he was the child’s
father. The discovery of a ‘fundlein baime’, an abandoned ‘mane
chyld fund on ane gait syd quhilk passis up fra the fut of Marie wynd
to the castell of Striviling’, who had been fostered but not baptised,
led the presbytery to order Stirling kirk session to admonish the
foster father ‘ to teiche the said baime the sowme of ane Christiane
fayth, viz., the xij articillis of the beleif that he mycht gif ane con-
fessioun thairof the tyme he ressavit the sacrament of baptisme’.2
The expectation that an offender should ‘confesse his sinne’ to
the church and recognise that ‘he hath offended God and what
slander he hath raised in the Kirk’ gave rise to the exercise of an
exceedingly wide ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The presbytery con¬
sidered itself competent to take cognisance in cases involving homi¬
cide or manslaughter, and slander or defamation, as well as the more
obviously ecclesiastical issues of recusancy and nonconformity,
blasphemy, fornication, adultery and incest, profanation of the
Sabbath by dancing or by holding markets, and the ‘superstitious
abuses’ of clerk plays, midsummer bonfires, and pilgrimages to
Christ’s well, where the sick and afflicted sought cures for their
maladies.3 Regulations for the administration of the two sacraments
1 See below, i, 91, 96; 142; 182; 202 2 See below, 214; 225-6, 228; 87
8 Cameron, First Book of Discipline, 168; see below, 38; and Index, sub subjects

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