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A Case of Adultery in Trinity College Edinburgh, 1638

A Case of Adultery in Trinity College Edinburgh, 1638 While the Reformed Church of Scotland worked hard to improve the moral standards of its number, parishioners navigated the kirk sessions (ecclesiastical courts) to advance their own personal interests, embracing and resisting moral reform with varying degrees of enthusiasm. At least such were the experiences of Margaret Ducatt, John Stewart, Alison Miller, and Janet Baxter of Trinity College parish in Edinburgh in 1638, who, variously, engaged in adultery, refused to repent, and attempted to procure an herbal remedy to terminate a suspected pregnancy. This article examines a noteworthy case of adultery involving a number of individuals whose responses to discipline varied according to their age, gender, marital status, and social rank; in turn, each of these factors impacted their access to and expression of power. As Laura Gowing noted for early modern England, patriarchal society was reliant upon the marking out of distinctions, not just between men and women, but among women who expressed power over one another, and indeed, over their male contemporaries. By implementing a strict system of ecclesiastical discipline, the Church created an avenue for women to express power and resist overt authority. This article seeks to place the Trinity College case of adultery within wider discussions of patriarchy, power, and relationships. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png International Review of Scottish Studies Edinburgh University Press

A Case of Adultery in Trinity College Edinburgh, 1638

International Review of Scottish Studies , Volume 48 (1): 18 – Jun 1, 2023

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
1923-5755
eISSN
1923-5763
DOI
10.3366/irss.2023.0009
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

While the Reformed Church of Scotland worked hard to improve the moral standards of its number, parishioners navigated the kirk sessions (ecclesiastical courts) to advance their own personal interests, embracing and resisting moral reform with varying degrees of enthusiasm. At least such were the experiences of Margaret Ducatt, John Stewart, Alison Miller, and Janet Baxter of Trinity College parish in Edinburgh in 1638, who, variously, engaged in adultery, refused to repent, and attempted to procure an herbal remedy to terminate a suspected pregnancy. This article examines a noteworthy case of adultery involving a number of individuals whose responses to discipline varied according to their age, gender, marital status, and social rank; in turn, each of these factors impacted their access to and expression of power. As Laura Gowing noted for early modern England, patriarchal society was reliant upon the marking out of distinctions, not just between men and women, but among women who expressed power over one another, and indeed, over their male contemporaries. By implementing a strict system of ecclesiastical discipline, the Church created an avenue for women to express power and resist overt authority. This article seeks to place the Trinity College case of adultery within wider discussions of patriarchy, power, and relationships.

Journal

International Review of Scottish StudiesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Jun 1, 2023

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