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Religion and National IdentityGoverning Scottish Presbyterianism in the Eighteenth Century$
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Alistair Mutch

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780748699155

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699155.001.0001

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Contrasts and Consequences

Contrasts and Consequences

Chapter:
(p.152) Chapter 7 Contrasts and Consequences
Source:
Religion and National Identity
Author(s):

Alistair Mutch

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748699155.003.0007

The combination of governance practices in the eighteenth century Church of Scotland can be characterized as a form of ‘systemic accountability’, in which accountability adheres in clearly defined roles supported by detailed record-keeping. Its distinctive nature is shown up by a contrast with practices in the Church of England. Here accountability was based on the personal character of those occupying the office of churchwarden. The consequences pointed to by this contrast are suggested by the observation that kirk sessions rarely had a financial deficit at the end of an accounting period, whereas churchwardens tended to be owed money by the end of their term of office. The corporate form of the kirk session meant that they could accumulate sums of money to be lent out on bond, sometimes to nascent industrial concerns. More broadly, governance practices, coupled with widespread literacy, gave rise to a culture of accountability which was particularly significant in the United States of America. Here Presbyterianism formed a to-hand model for organizing, one supported by the prestige of Scottish religious and intellectual life.

Keywords:   Church of Scotland, Church of England, Churchwardens, Systemic accountability, Personal accountability, Accounting, USA

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