The parish of Falkirk contains about 8020 inhabitants. In the town there are 3892; in the village of Camelon there are 568; in that of Briansford (commonly called Bainsford) 758; in the village of Grangemouth 410; and in that of Laurieston, 858; in the country part of the parish the inhabitants are about 1534 in number.1
Among a people so numerous, we must expect to find different sentiments respecting religion, as well as about every other subject which comes under their consideration; but it is no small consolation to see, that the bitterness of ill directed zeal is fast giving way to charity, and the natural influence of progressive improvements. Nothing will stand the test of time and experience, but that which is founded on truth. Error and prejudice will pass away; and it behoves us to rejoice, that amongst the wreck of false or unimportant speculations, virtue will remain without a blemish, and com pletely secure. It is the essence of true religion; it is the point where men of worth meet; it is the centre from which every ray of excellence proceeds. The jarrings of interest may on occasions, disturb the calmness ofhuman life; but ifreason directs the thoughts, and the actions, the effects on the whole must be harmony and peace.
In the whole town of Falkirk, there is one chapel for the Burghers, two for the Antiburghers2 and one belonging to the Relief interest. In Lauriestown, there is a chapel for the most ancient Prebyterian Dissenters in Scotland, who are generally known by the name of Macmillanites. The congregations of these different meeting houses are composed of people from this and other parishes. In this parish there are a few of the Episcopal persuasion, who have the opportunity of attending divine service every fortnight in Carron. The Roman Catholics are very few in number here and have no place of worship in the neighbourhood.
The Church of Falkirk is the only place of worship in this parish for those who belong to the religious establishment of Scotland. The building is in the form of a cross and far from being sufficient for the accommodation of those who wish to attend; but it is hoped something will be soon be done to provide a remedy for this inconvenience.
Before the Reformation the parish of Falkirk belonged to the see of St
Andrews. Immediately after that period, and before the Presbyterian mode of worship had
assumed its present form, there were superintendents appointed for the different districts
of the country. Falkirk was within the bounds of Mr Spottiswood's inspection, who was
parson of Calder-Comitus3, and father of Spottiswood, who succeeded the
superintendent in the parsonage of Calder, was Archbishop of Glasgow after episcopacy was
re-established in Scotland, wrote a history of the Church, and died Archbishop of St
While he preside over this see, that part of the diocese which was situated on the south side of the frith of Forth was erected into a bishoprick, and called the see of Edinburgh. St Giles's was the Cathedral, and the minister of Falkirk was one of twelve prebends. His salary for this office was L.80 Scotch, which is L 6 13s~ sterling. Aperson of the name of Forbes was the first Bishop of this diocese. He is represented as having been a man of learning and piety, but rather suspect of being a friend to Popery. His studies were cheifly directed towards antiquities; and being recluse in his manners, he was little acquainted with the world. It is said that it was no uncommon thing for him to preach five or six hours at a time. (Burnett's History of his own times, vol.1, p.31.)
After the benefice of Falkirk was bestowed upon the monastery of Holyroodhouse, the living of this parish became a vicarage. The great tithes, which formerly belonged to the parson, were then claimed by the religious order to which they had been given, and the minister of Falkirk was paid with the small;and the parson of Falkirk still receives some small sums of money as vicarage dues. The stipend of this parish consists at present of 32 boils of barley, 64 of oat-meal, and about L.65 14s 2 1/2 of money, together with a manse, garden and glebe. The minister of Falkirk also claims the right of getting from the estate of Callendar all the coals which are made use of by his family, without any other expense than that of paying for cutting them from the stratum in the pit and bringing them home. Among several donations which King David 1 made to the monastery of Newbottle was that of fuel and pasture from the cattle in the wood ofCallendar (Nimmo's History of Stirlingshire, p.135), and it was upon this grant, 1 presume, that the privelege under consideration was founded.
The King is patron of this church, and has the right of presenting ministers to all the parishes of which the Earl of Linlithgow and Callendar was patron before he was attainted of high treason. The patronage of the church of Denny appears, by the deed of conveyance, to have been sold along with the barony of Herbenshire in the year 1632. This transaction was sanctioned by charters of confirmation from the King in the years 1654 and 1680. However, the King, as well as Mr Muirhead, claims the right of presenting, and the matter has not yet been brought to a final decision.
1 The annual number of births, taken upon an average from January 1, 1784, to January, 1794 is 272. The annual number of marriages taken in the same manner for the same term of years, is 62. But it appears that the populafion of the parish is increasing, for the average of marriages for the last eight years is 72.
2. There is a difference subsisting between the two congregations of Antiburghers in this town which arose chiefly from the manner of setting apart the elements in the Lord's Supper.
3. This parish is now divided into two, which are called Mid and West Calder.