The Patronage Act of 1712 attempted to reintroduce a system of Patronage into the Church of Scotland. This meant that the local landowner, or Patron, and not the people would choose the minister of a church. This was highly unpopular with the congregations as the patron did not always have the best interests of the church at heart. In 1843 this conflict caused the church to split. Almost 500 ministers walked out of the Church of Scotland General Assembly to form the Church of Scotland Free (later the Free Church of Scotland).
The Free Church was faced with the huge task of providing churches, manses, schools and ministers for all its congregations.
St Kilda was so remote that the people rarely received a visit from their minister. Dr MacDonald of Urquhart, a well-known evangelical preacher, visited the island to preach to the people and had a profound effect on them. It became necessary to find a way of providing regular religious teaching and money was raised to build a church and manse which was ready for a minister in 1830. Although this minister was evangelical, during the Disruption he elected to stay with the Established Church while the St Kildan congregation elected to join the Free Church. The church and manse were locked up to the people and they were left with only a catechist (not a fully ordained minister). Once a year the 'Breadalbane' came to St Kilda with a deputation of ministers for a short while but it was not until 1853 that the proprietor allowed the people back into the church building. The people of St Kilda had to wait until 1865 until they had a full-time, fully ordained minister.
'Annals of the Disruption; with extracts from the narratives of Ministers who left the Scottish Establishment in 1843', by Rev Thomas Brown (1893)
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