In Scotland, the reaction to King Charles and his Laudian ecclesiastical innovations met with outrage from the pastors and elders of the Church of Scotland, most of whom were still presbyterian in polity and doctrine. Laud believed the Scottish Kirk should conform to the prelatical system established in England and, for the Scots, became the personification of what Alexander Henderson called a conspiracy of corrupt bishops “to misinform the king of the liturgy and ecclesiology of the Scottish Kirk.” Arminian doctrine was central to the attempted uniformity of religion being imposed by Laud, and the Scots saw it as tantamount to the beliefs of the papal Church.
Jenny Geddes hurls a stool at the Cathedral Dean
On 23 July, 1637 Dean Hannay rose to read the new liturgy in the High Church of Edinburgh, St. Giles. The liturgy had nineteen chapters within its forty-three pages “detailing how the church should be governed, from the King gaining his position from God, down to the renaming of ministers, kirk sessions, and presbyteries with terms taken from the Episcopal Church.” As the pastor began intoning from the prayer book, Jenny Geddes, allegedly a local street vendor, stood up and yelled, “Wha dur say mass in my lug!” (How dare you say the Mass in my ear) and flung her three-legged stool at the minister. Pandemonium broke out as others followed suit and the prelatical entourage fled the scene out a back door. The town guard had to rescue the bishop from the rioters. Similar scenes were enacted in other Scottish towns where the liturgy was read.
Rioting at St. Giles in 1637
The Scots had not experienced a thoroughgoing Reformation seventy years before, just to see it succumb to the heresies of a foreign archbishop and a King usurping the “Crown Rights of King Jesus.” The next year the General Assembly issued the National Covenant, assuring the King of their complete loyalty to him in his proper jurisdiction, but denying his authority over Christ’s Church and the biblical principles of worship. War ensued for the better part of ten years, but the Kirk remained free till the Restoration of the next King, Charles II, when persecution would ensue for about 27 years more.