Records of the Church of Scotland General Assembly

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-173
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      Scots, and English.
  • Physical Description
      23 volumes, 1 manuscript address (1 linear metre).
  • Location
      Dc.3.54; Dc.4.57; Dk.8.9-25; Dc.1.37(2)/116; La.II.17/3; La.II.511; La.III.207; La.III.335; La.III.341; La.III.344

Scope and Content

The collection contains notes on the proceedings of the General Assemblies held between 1560 and 1605, at La.III.335; acts of the Assembly, 1560 to 1618, at Dc.3.54; a history of the General Assembly, 1638, at Dc.4.57; a letter about the Assembly, 1679, at La.III.344; and, a register of the acts and proceedings of the General Assembly, 1690, 1692, 1702-1736, and 1741 to 1774, at Dk.8.9-25. In addition, there is an overture of the commission of the General Assembly concerning a petition to repeal an act passed in 1720, at La.II/17/3; an address by the Duke of Atholl to the General Assembly, 1746, at Dc.1.37(2)/116; and, a letter about the emoluments of the High Commissioner, 1805, at La.II.511. The collection also includes records of a General Assembly committee on funds for Gaelic speaking students, 1763-1787, at La.III.341; and, minutes from 1638, at La.III.207.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Church of Scotland is the established Church in Scotland. Through the General Assembly - the supreme court, legislative body and debating chamber - the Church expresses the country's concerns from a Christian and Protestant perspective. The first General Assembly met in December 1560 after the Reformation led by John Knox. Today, it is the top tier of Church government and authority. Items of Assembly business are referred from synods, presbyteries, committees, and individuals. The Assembly sits for a week-long session annually in May at the debating-chamber on the Mound, Edinburgh. The monarch may attend, but usually she/he is represented by a Lord High Commissioner. Each session is chaired by a Moderator, chosen annually. The General Assembly is also a social occasion with one of its high points being a garden party held in Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, with the monarch or Lord High Commissioner in residence.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins, 1994.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various other references to Church of Scotland related material (check the Indexes for more details). Also, Edinburgh University Library's New College Library can provide access to: General Assembly reports. Church of Scotland. Published: Edinburgh, Church of Scotland, [15--]. The New College Library has year 1840 onwards, at Shelfmark: sLX 50 B