Burgher (Church history)

In the Scottish church of the 18th and 19th centuries, a burgher was a member of that party amongst the seceders which asserted the lawfulness of the burgess oath.[1][2]

The burgess oath was that oath a town burgess was required to swear on taking office. The secession church in Scotland split in 1747 into the Burghers and the Anti-Burghers over the lawfulness of the forms of the oath then current in Scotland, the contentious clause being that in which the burgess professed the true religion professed within the realm. According to Dale Jorgenson, "...The Patronage Act, enacted under the reign of Queen Anne (1702-14), gave lay patrons the right to present ministers to parishes. This act of patronage was an affront to classic Presbyterianism, and resulted in a division between Burghers who accepted the Burghers' Oath and its consequent patronage, and the Anti-Burghers who would not accept the oath."

Notable BurghersEdit

Theological ProfessorsEdit

Before the 'Auld Licht'/'New Licht' division (1747-1800)Edit

1. James Fisher (1749-1764)

2. John Swanston (1764-1767)

3. John Brown of Haddington (1768-1787)

4. George Lawson (1787-1800)

New Light (1800-1820)Edit

1. George Lawson (1800-1820)

2. John Dick (1820)

Old Light (1800-1839)Edit


1. William Willis (1800-1803)

2. George Hill (1803-1819)

3. William Taylor (appointed interim Professor, 1818) (1819-1833) (died 1836)

4. Michael Willis (1835-1839)



  1. ^ Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary. 1913. Archived from the original on 8 September 2013. Retrieved 8 September 2013. A member of that party, among the Scotch seceders, which asserted the lawfulness of the burgess oath (in which burgesses profess the true religion professed within the realm"), the opposite party being called antiburghers.
  2. ^ Jorgenson, Dale A. (1989). Theological and Aesthetic Roots in the Stone-Campbell Movement. Kirksville, Missouri: The Thomas Jefferson University Press. p. 15. ISBN 0-943549-04-3.
  3. ^ Annals and statistics of the original Secession church: till its disruption and union with the Free church of Scotland in 1852, page 611