Do you have ancestors that were members of the Church of Scotland? Search these antenuptial records from Kirk Sessions registers to find out if there were any family members who were summoned to the ministers and elders of the church to deny or confess their sin as a child had been conceived out of wedlock or the first child was born too early into the marriage.
Each record includes a transcript of the original record. The amount of information will vary, you may be able to find a combination of the following:
Other person's name
Other person's occupation
Dates of any or all: named, rebuked, denied, confessed
Notes taken from the records
For help deciphering the unusual words in the comments, please see the below key terms:
Committed the sin for the third time (trilapse)
Appeared in court personally (compeared)
Meeting or session of court (dyet)
Including extracts from Kirk Session records, this collection of records was compiled by Leah Leneman to give statistics as the basis for a book published in 1989 titled Sexuality & Social Control: Scotland 1660-1780 by Rosalind Mitchison and Leah Leneman.
The Kirk Session comprised the minister and elders of the parish and was the lowest level of the church court, concerned with the business of the parish, and the morals of the parishioners.
In these cases of ‘antenuptial fornication’, it was the mother of the child who would be summoned first, they would be sternly rebuked and persuaded to name the father of the child if he was not an obvious partner. The father was then told of the accusation, summoned and would either appear or write, to deny or confess his sin.
The session would summon the mother and father of the child back to subsequent meetings until the matter was resolved and the mother, or sometimes the couple, made some sort of reparation, often with the mother standing at the church door for 3 Sabbaths. When they had fully repented, and been pardoned, each was welcomed back into the church.
A married couple could also be summoned to confess their sin retrospectively if their first child was born too early into the marriage. In many parishes, the couple was then asked to make some sort of donation to the Poor Fund in atonement for their sin.
Begin your search broadly with just a name.
If needed, you can narrow your results by including additional search criteria such as a year, spouse’s name or location.