Wars, witches and worship were key elements in the nation of Scotland and the local life of Dalgety Parish during the 17th Century. It was a period when Scotland was moving from medieval feudalism into the early modern era. Post Reformation and people were still trying to get to grips with the new order of life.

The National Covenant, signed in Greyfriars Kirk, was a catalyst in uniting the country but the start of a period of bloodshed and persecution. The Wars of the Three Kingdoms erupted, civil war in England saw a king executed and the struggle for ecclesiastical supremacy lasted till the end of the century.

Caught up in all this were the inhabitants of Dalgety, a small parish in Fife. Eking out a living by farming, coal mining or salt-making, they did not escape the frenzy of  the witch-hunt or the clutches of the militia. Into the milieu came Andrew Donaldson, a Presbyterian minister, whose aim was to see people living a Godly life, with a focus on education children and caring for the poor.

Donaldson paid the price by being deposed, declared and outlaw and subsequently imprisoned. Restored to his post when William ascended the throne, he saw the parish suffer through the impact of the Darien Scheme. His successor was faced with restoring the parish, and a future in which the Act of Union and Jacobite rebellions were to play a significant part.

Robin G K Arnott