HC Deb 27 July 1869 vol 198 cc798-9

said, he would beg to ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, Whether he will inform the House upon what authority he admitted the accuracy of a statement to the effect that the attendance in the quoad sacra parish church of Waternish, Isle of Skye, consists of only two old men; and, whether his attention has been drawn to a counter statement, that the congregation in that church varies from thirty to 120; that more Baptisms and other ordinances of the Church have been hitherto performed by the minister of the parish than by any clergyman of another denomination; and that if a young man were settled there the attendance in the parish church might vie with that of many congregations in the North?


said, in reply, that the statement he made was based upon the authority of a Petition which was signed by 194 male residents in the parish. It contained the signatures of the only two heritors in the parish. One was Mr. Gordon M'Leod, and the other a gentleman personally known to himself. The Petition contained the statement that the whole population were members of the Free Church, with the exception of two old men; one of whom was over seventy, and the other over sixty, who availed themselves of all favourable opportunities of attending the preaching of the Free Church ministers. He was bound to say that his hon. Friend had furnished him with a statement of a clergyman who had preached in the parish—to the effect that the congregation occasionally numbered from sixty to 120. Since then he had received a letter from Mr. Gordon M'Leod, saying that the attendance on certain special occasions reached ten or twelve, five or six of whom consisted of the minister's family. It was impossible for him to reconcile this conflict of testimony, and he could only give both statements.