The following are some excerpts from the 1644 to 1750 minute books.
The original Church with its tithes and other property was granted to the Abbots of Paisley in the 12th century and was dedicated to St. Patrick. It was a plain gothic building having a font for holy water. This font or its immediate successor is said to be installed in South Dalziel Church (now Studio). The site of the building was alongside the old burial ground in Dalzell. The old Church was taken down in 1798 some of the stone being used in building an addition to the old manse. South Dalziel Church was built in 1789, so that meant the old Church stood derelict for about 10 years.
In 1644 which is the date of the first entry in our existing records, the church had a membership of 148.
The parish was divided into three parts with an elder for each. In 1697 the Revd. Alexander Adamson was ordained minister of the Gospel at Dalziel. More detailed records were then kept. A communion roll was compiled with the names of elders and their districts. The Elders Districts were; Wm. Smith, had as his charge Dalzell Place (Dalzell House), The Barrons, The Cuningair, Broomside, Carshogle, Airbles and Motherwell. John Mackie’s charge the Miltoun, The Mill, Coursington, the Two Todholeburns, Bridgend, Bankhead, Upper and Nether Johnstone, The Meadowhead and Ravenscraig. Robert Altoun, the Windmillhill, Parkhead, Flemington, Newhouse, Burnsgrains, The Shiels, Seabadhos, (?) and Craigneuk.
As can be seen from this the parish was a large and scattered one, with no roads connecting the various clachans, and visitations of the Minister and Elders would be made over rough footpaths, which in winter would be almost impassible. Consider Elder Mackie’s district for instance. From the Miltoun by way of Todholeburn to Ravenscraig and Meadowhead, those “Lang scots miles, the mosses, waters, slaps and stiles” . Burns’ lines aptly describe John Mackie’s itinerary, and Elders duties were at that time a labour of love. In addition the Elders had other duties. During the church service they took turns spying on the congregation to see who was absent from worship without a valid reason. All forms of work were debarred on the Sabbath day, An Air of sad decorum settled over the place on Sundays, the general cheerlessness of the day can only be imagined.
Social life in the modern sense of the word was nonexistent. The grim struggle people waged to eke out a bare existence left little opportunity for recreational pursuits. The celebration of the Sacraments was an occasion for a large gathering of people from the parish and surrounding districts. The Communion in Dalziel was held on the third Sunday in May. The opening addresses were made on Thursday by the Minister assisted by his brethren from other parishes. Friday was a fast day and preaching resumed on Saturday with the Sacrament being administered on Sunday, while the final addresses were given on Monday. The Sacrament was recognised as a holiday, when friends, who had not been seen since the previous Communion met, and scenes not altogether of a religious nature were not uncommon.
Failings of parishioners were dealt with by the Kirk Session. An instance recorded in the Minute Book 1667;
June 16th: The which day Alexr. King reported that John Allen in Over-Johnstone had abused his wyfe in calling her words not to be named among Christians, ordering him to be summoned against ye nixt Lord’s Day.
June 23rd : The which day compeared John Allen and confest to abusing of his wyfe by his tongue, and gott down on his knees and made his confession privatlie, before the Minister and Elders. The Minister told him that if he did ever the like he should be put out of the Parish and stand in ye jougs barefoot and barelegged.
The jougs was a barbarous sort of instrument consisting of a chain about 18” (46cm) long one end of which was fixed in the stonework of the church porch. On the other extremity was an iron hoop or collar for fastening round the penitent’s neck. The poor unfortunate was locked up in this on a Sunday morning in full view of passers-by. This must have been something of an ordeal and it is little wonder that John Allen from Over-Johnstone expressed his regrets in the manner he did.
The Kirk Session took pains to see that poor children received free education.
“August 21st 1698. The children of Elizabeth Werr were appointed to be keept another half quarter at scoole and wages paid.” William Flint was school master about this time. He came from Carluke and his salary was twenty pounds Scots (£1.66) per annum. This was augmented by payments for baptisms, marriages and burials from his other duties as Session Clerk, Precentor and Church Officer. He also got the odd “boll or two of meal” making the School Master a fairly prosperous member of the community.