Researching the Free Church of Scotland at New College Library

NCLNew College’s origins lie in the Disruption of 1843, when over a third of the ministers in the Church of Scotland left to form the new Free Church of Scotland. Over 170 years later New College, and New College Library still have an active relationship with the Free Church of Scotland, whose Edinburgh Theological Seminary students come to use New College Library. As you would expect from our shared history, we have rich historical collections for the Free Church, but we also continue to collect some current material from them.

To research current issues in the Free Church, the Reports to the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland are now held in Stack II at Per F, side by side with the recent Principal Acts. The Principal Acts of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland 1900-2014 are available free to download at Recent Free Church Assembly Reports are also available to download from

New College Library Free Church holdings are probably most comprehensive for the earlier period of Free Church history. The Acts of the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland 1843-1900 are available in Stack I at sLY 50 A, alongside the Assembly proceedings and debates at sLY 50 B. This material is available on open access – please note that the online library catalogue also lists additional copies with individual entries by date which are kept in Special Collections. Researchers looking for browsing access may prefer the General Collections copies available in Stack I.

New College Library also holds the historic periodicals of the Free Church, including The monthly record of the Free Church of Scotland at Per M and the Free Church Magazine at Per F in Stack II. For University of Edinburgh users, these titles, including The Home and Foreign Missionary Record for the Free Church of Scotland and The Free Church Monthly and Missionary Record are also available online via Gale Newsvault.

New College students, late 19thC

New College students, late 19thC

When researching Free Church ministers, the key work for the early period is the Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, 1843-1900, held in the New College Library Reference section at  Ref. BX9084 Fre.  The matriculation records of New College students 1843-1943 are also searchable online at data is a combination of two different lists drawn up by J. Robb and Hugh Watt and held at New College Library. Together they provide the master list of students who matriculated at New College Edinburgh for the first 100 years of its existence. These have been augmented with information drawn from Annals of the Free Church of Scotland, Annals of the United Free Church of Scotland 1900-1929 and the Fasti Ecclesiae Scoticanae Useful information about ministers may also be gleaned from the Dictionary of National Biography (available in print and online) and from searching the online archives of historic newspapers such as the Times and the Scotsman (tip : try limiting your search to obituaries).    

 Christine Love-Rodgers – Academic Support Librarian, Divinity

1 thought on “Researching the Free Church of Scotland at New College Library

  1. I will be doing research in September- 5-14. Do you hold the papers/minutes of the Public Worship Association which under Dr.bannerman produced A New Directory for the Public Worship of God, 1898?
    I am also trying to trace the papers of the Devotional Worship Association of the United Presbyterian Church that produced Presbyterian Forms of Worship, 1892.

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