Liquidity, Debt, and the Budget – 1873-1884

Turnbull had been a stopgap – with Rev Muir’s sudden departure, a stopgap was the congregation’s only choice. But a permanent minister was much to be preferred. An approach was made to the Presbytery in May 1873, but while supply could be organized in the pulpit from Sunday to Sunday, ministers were not so easy to find. Relief came by way of a tragedy – Marianne, beloved wife of Rev Duncan Ross, Minister at Muswellbrook, died on June 23, the day after giving birth to their sixth son (whether there were daughters too is not recorded). Mr Ross let it be known that he was willing to move; the Presbytery of Sydney put the necessary arrangements in train:

Dr. M‘Gibbon said he preached and presided in St. Peter’s Church, North Shore, as directed by the Presbytery, and that a unanimous call was addressed to the Rev. Duncan Ross, of Muswellbrook. Mr Henry Allan was heard in support of the call. The call was sustained, and Dr. M‘Gibbon and Mr. Allan were appointed to prosecute the translation of Mr. Ross. (The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 8-7-1873)

The local regret at Muswellbrook on losing their minister of seventeen years is recorded in the same paper:

The very great affliction which has befallen him recently, through the almost sudden death of Mrs. Ross, has, I think, had a great deal to do with his leaving. I am sure that he will carry with him the goodwill of every person in the district, as everyone I converse with upon the matter expresses much regret at his departure, and sympathises deeply with him in his bereavement. I heard that his congregation presented him with an address and a purse of sovereigns, but not having been present at the time the presentation took place (which was in the church), I am unable to state the amount, but I believe it was between one hundred and two hundred pounds. The rev. gentleman preached his farewell sermon on Sunday morning, the 10th inst., to a large congregation, and nearly every one was very much affected, many even to tears. (19-8-1873)

On the 22nd, Duncan Ross was inducted to St Peter’s:

Dr. White, of St. Andrew’s Scots Church, delivered an eloquent sermon from 1 Cor., i, 21-24, “For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,” &c. Mr. Paterson, moderator, put the usual questions to Mr. Ross and the congregation, and Dr. M‘Gibbon prayed for a blessing on Mr. Ross and the people, and addressed them respectively on their responsibilities and duties. Mr. Ross received the right hand of fellowship from the members of the Presbytery, and his name was added to the roll. (The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 26-8-1873)

For at least the first year of Rev Ross’s tenure, the finances of the Church were in more or less constant deficit, financed out of the pocket of Henry Allan, as shown in successive minutes of the Committee of Management:

The Treasurer read his report to the effect that there was a balance due to him of £9:14:0½. (15-10-1873)

The Treasurer read his report to the 31st December which shewed a balance, due to the Treasurer, of £22:11:1½. (5-1-1874)

The Treasurer then read his report which shewed a balance in his favour of £16:9:11½. (9-4-1874)

Treasurer read his report to the effect that the committee were indebted to the amount of £21:6:1½. (6-7-1874)

£20 at this time, the extent to which the church was relying on Henry Allan to keep it liquid, was the equivalent of about $4500. Yet if the deficit at least was growing no bigger, the debt due to Henry Allan, who had put up most of the money for the extension of the Church and the construction of the Manse, was becoming no smaller. In the annual accounts for 1874, he inserted a note to remind the congregation:

Memo: On the 22nd June 1871 the debt due to Mr Allan on the church amounted to —£357-7-7
Since when contributions have been received (including £40 from Mr Berry)
amounting to —
£  57-6
Leaving still due to Mr Allan —£300-1-7

Fortunately for the finances of the congregation, Rev Ross, after seventeen years at Muswellbrook, had become a man of substance, as may be gathered from the sale of stock and equipment that followed his departure:

MR JAMES HUTCHISON has been favored with instructions to sell by public auction, without reserve, at “Currindina,” the residence of the Rev. Duncan Ross, on WEDNESDAY, August 20th, 1873, at Two o’clock, punctually,
A Mixed Herd of Really WELL-BRED CATTLE,
comprising 70 head of Quiet Milch Cows Heifers, Bullocks, Steers, and Calves
A Good Durham Bull, 3 years old
A Good Weight-carrying Hackney
Several Saddle and Draught Horses
A Quantity of Household Furniture, Cooking Utensils, &c.
A Four-seated Buggy and Set of Harness
A Hooded Gig and Set of Harness
A Light Dray and Set of Harness
A Variety of Tools, Iron, Timber, Poultry, &c., &c., &c.
Terms cash
No Reserve. (The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, 16-8-1873)

Perhaps Mr Ross was pleased enough to have found an agreeable change of scene not to be over-concerned if the stipend came late. In any case, finances picked up, as they often did once the position of Minister was settled. By October 1874 the church was £21-11-11½ in the black, while Ross was taking an active part in local and Church affairs – he joined John Blue and Jeremiah Cochran (among many others), for example, in nominating a candidate for election to Parliament.

The Minister’s health, however, was a continuing issue. In October 1873 he had told the Committee he was not feeling well enough just then to begin a midweek service. By the end of the next year he had asked the Kirk Session for a year’s leave of absence. At the Congregational Meeting in January 1875:

Mr Ross, in reference to a paragraph in the Report [of the Committee of Management ], then stated that owing to ill health, he was compelled to seek relaxation by a trip to Europe – the Kirk Session had agreed to allow him twelve months leave of absence on certain conditions. The Presbytery also had consented to Release him from his charge. After stating the steps that had been taken to obtain supply in his absence from which it appeared that Mr Dymock, now labouring at Sutton Forest as a Catechist, seemed to the Committee and Kirk Session to be the most eligible person spoken of, Mr Ross left the matter in the hands of the Congregation to express their decision upon it.
Mr Anderson then moved and Mr Allan seconded
That this Congregation learning with regret of their pastor’s ill health, agrees to release him from his Pastoral duties for twelve months without requiring the resignation of his charge; provided Mr Dymock can be secured as a substitute; or, failing him, that Mr Ross makes such provision prior to his departure, for the permanent supply of his pulpit during his absence, as may meet with the approval of the Kirk Session. And they trust that in the good providence of God, the means to be adopted for the restoration of his health and vigour may prove effectual. (Congregational Meeting Minutes, 13-1-1875)

Mr Dymock wanted the same as Rev Ross had been paid: £200 plus a manse. The Committee were willing to pay, but probably pleased in the end when negotiations came to nothing. Supply, if they could arrange it, would cost only £2 a week at the rate set by the rules of the Church, and a vacant manse could be let. That way, the backlog could be cleared and something set aside for the stipend against Mr Ross’s return ( £45-8-11 in stipend was already owing). Even when it turned out that visiting clergymen wanted £3 a Sunday rather than £2 the balance was still in the Committee’s favour.

In April, Henry Allan reported he had let the Manse for £5 a month to a Mr Tease, a man of expansive tastes as it turned out when he sold up two months later:

TUESDAY next, 13th July, at 11 a.m.
CHOICE Cut Glass
HANDSOME Dining-room Suite, covered in marone Leather
MAGNIFICENT SIDEBOARD, beautifully carved
HANDSOME Brussels Carpet and Rugs
ELEGANT Drawing-room Suite, covered in satin tabaret
Set Sateen Cloth Covers
Gilt-frame Pier Glasses
HANDSOME Bedroom Furniture
Laundry and Kitchen Utensils, &c., &c.
        To Gentlemen Furnishing and Commission Agents.
been favoured with instructions to sell by auction, at the Manse, Blue’ s Point Road, North Shore (in consequence of the owner’s intended departure for Europe), on TUESDAY next, 13th July, at 11 a.m.,
The above.
***The furniture is nearly new, only being IN USE ABOUT TWO MONTHS. Catalogues will be prepared and issued to intending purchasers, at 9 a.m. on Monday, when an inspection can be made. (SMH, 9-7-1875)

The Manse was not let again that year; the Church was £10 the richer from Mr Tease’s brief tenancy, but when the question of insuring the Church and Manse buildings was raised in July, the Treasurer simply said ‘no funds’, and the proposal was allowed to drop.

In January 1876 Rev Ross was returning. It was resolved:

to remove the ashes from the Manse yard, [to have ] the well cleaned and concreted, also the dining room wall washed or colored if required, and Mr Eaton was requested to see to these matters. (Committee of Management Minutes, 31-1-1876)

In 1875 the school and manse trustees had hoped to set the church on a solid financial footing by selling property. That had not happened. Now it was the Committee’ s turn to try something:

It was resolved to lay the following scheme for increasing the Revenue of the Church before the congregational meeting with a view to the adoption of all or at least two of them –
1. Increase of the pew rents 50% say to 15/- per sitting per annum
2. Increase of voluntary contributions to Stipend Fund
Making the collections by circulating the plate on each Sabbath instead of letting it stand at the door. (Committee of Management Minutes, 28-2-1876)

There was vacant land that might be leased on better terms than the trustees had been able to arrange – offers were forthcoming:

A letter from the Council Clerk of the Borough of Victoria was read enquiring as to terms of lease of a portion of the church lands.
Resolved that the Secretary be instructed to reply:—
That the Committee are willing to lease a portion say 30 feet immediately adjoining the Church fence with a frontage to Blues Point road and extending in depth to William Street at 12/- per foot per annum. A portion lower down say commencing not less than 50 feet south of the Church fence at 8/- per foot per annum. The lease to be for 21 years with power to renew for 7 years. The above to be subject to the approval of the Trustees. (Committee of Management Minutes, 5-5-1876)

The trustees signified willingness; the Council thought the offer too steep. In due course (1884) it would rent the building on the corner of Blues Point Road and Lavender Street for Council Chambers, but that was in the future. It is hard to see what the Committee stood to gain by bringing the properties under its control; the revenue, as it later complained, was for the trustees to dispose of: that was their legal right. Meanwhile the Committee members did the work, often frustrating, of negotiating with reluctant tenants.

But there were more serious things for the Church to think about than who was better at administering their property. In July, five-year-old Norman Ross, the fifth of the Minister’s sons, developed scarlet fever and died. As after the death of his wife three years before, Duncan Ross began to feel he would be happier elsewhere; in September he notified the Committee that he intended to resign.

It was resolved that the Secretary be instructed to convey to Mr Ross the sympathy of the Committee with him in his great troubles, and the regret with which they have observed the constant ill health which has at last compelled him to take this step; and to assure him of the warm interest they will always take in his future welfare, and their hope that the change he proposes to make may under Providence prove the means of complete restoration to health and happiness. (Committee of Management Minutes, 18-9-1876)

The Presbytery’s view, however, was that Ross should give up his stipend and stay put, while the congregation should call a colleague who could shoulder the work now and take over in due course.

The Committee after careful discussion and consideration concluded unanimously that such an arrangement would not be a wise one and would not be in the interest either of the congregation or Mr Ross. (Committee of Management Minutes, 9-10-1876)

Rev Ross embraced the Presbytery’s view, and there was little the congregation could do except make an effort to hear any new minister who arrived in the colony in the hope of finding someone suitable. By December they authorised Henry Allan to arrange for Rev Robert Robertson to supply the pulpit for £4 a Sunday, and assure him that he would receive a call as soon as it could be arranged. In February he was inducted:

On Friday last, the Rev. R. Robertson, late of Mossgreen, Fifeshire, Scotland, was settled as minister of St. Peter’s Presbyterian Church, North Shore; and in recognition of this important event in the history of that Church, tea and public meetings were held last night in the School of Arts, St. Leonards. From 250 to 300 people sat down to a pleasant tea; followed by the meeting of members of the congregation, and their friends in the neighbourhood. The chair was occupied by Mr. Henry Allan. The Rev. Mr. Cullen (Congregational minister), introduced Mrs. R W. Moore, who presented to the Rev. Mr. Robertson a gown and cassock, on behalf of the ladies of the congregation. The rev. gentleman in suitable terms thanked the ladies for their kindness. The meeting was addressed in terms corresponding to the occasion by the Rev. Dr. White, the Rev. Mr. Collie, and the Rev. Mr. Cullen. A very pleasing feature in the proceedings of the evening, was the rendering of a number of selections of sacred music, by the choir of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church, under the skilful leadership of Mr. Smith, the precentor of that church. Of the selections most worthy of mention were three from a service of song called Immanuel—anthem, “Behold, I bring you good tidings;” hymn, “Grieve not,” and chorus, “Hosanna.” The proceedings were brought to a close with the benediction pronounced by the Rev. Mr. Robertson. (SMH, 24-2-1877)

An active healthy Minister made all the difference: things looked up. Despite paying Rev Robertson £250 – an increase of £50 on what Ross had received – by the end of the year there were 120 sittings let, as against 66 at the beginning, and the Church had £52.10.7 (about $12,000) in the bank with all accounts paid. Besides that, there had been improvements: gas lighting installed both in the Manse and the Church, and the Manse having had a thorough cleaning and renovation:

for a large portion of the cost of this the Congregation are indebted to the kindness of Mr. Henry Allan, of whom it is needless to say that the liberality which characterized him in past years has not diminished during that now closed. (Committee of Management Annual Report, January 1878)

Still hopeful of raising some money from the church land, the Committee was now offering leases at less than half the rate that had scared off the Borough Council:

Church land 2/- at the narrowestto 5/- at the widest, per foot
Manse   do 1/-         do to 3/-         do.

By the beginning of 1878 one lease had been signed – the southern part of the church land at £5 a year. The Committee resolved:

that all funds derived from the leasing of the Church and Manse lands be deposited in the Savings Bank to create a fund available only for purposes in connection with the Church and Manse buildings. (Committee of Management Minutes, 6-2-1878)

This seemingly innocuous decision was of course Maxwell Thomson and his sub-lease all over again – it was the trustees who had the right to decide how the income from the Church and Manse lands was to be spent, not the Committee of Management. Conflict was inevitable: it was only delayed because with Henry Allan’s withdrawal from the Committee at the end of 1876 the Committee and the trustees had no members in common. Also, the congregation had other things on their minds. In March Duncan Ross received a call from Walcha; having frequently heard from their retired Minister that a move to the country was essential to restore his health, the congregation sent him on his way with the best of wishes. In April, however, came the news that Rev Robertson’ s health also required the benefit of a change of scene, news that the Committee received with dismay:

The Committee of Management of St Peter’s Church St Leonards have learned with extreme regret by intimation from the Reverend the Presbytery of Sydney that the Rev Robert Robertson has tendered his resignation of the charge. The Committee feeling conscious that they have striven to the best of their ability aided by the earnest and liberal co-operation of the Congregation to fulfil all their obligations to Mr Robertson, and have so far as possible assisted him in his work, cannot but conclude that his decision has been arrived at from other reasons than dissatisfaction with his treatment whilst amongst them. Having further heard that Mr Robertson has fully determined upon this step which he is taking by the advice of his medical man, the Committee do not feel justified in offering any opposition to his release from the pastoral charge of St Peter’s Congregation but would wish him by the Divine blessing complete restoration to health and a successful career in the old country to which he is about to return. (Committee of Management Minutes, 17-4-1878)

As a gesture of goodwill, William Cochran moved that the Committee present Mr Robertson with a parting gift of £20 from Church funds; the motion was lost. On the 3rd of May, Robertson’s household goods were put up for sale:

A magnificent suite (drawing-room), covered in morocco
A large mahogany bookcase, suitable for a minister or
doctor’s library
Dining room and bedroom furniture
Kitchen utensils, &c., &c., &c. (SMH, 3-5-1878)

Not as opulent a collection as that of Mr Tease, but just as final. By the 20th of the month the Committee were doing what they could to entice Rev Roger McKinnon, the object of the congregation’s unsuccessful call in 1872, to make the move from Tumut. On May 29 a congregational meeting petitioned the Presbytery for Moderation in a Call; on June 26 the call to McKinnon was approved on a show of hands.

Roger McKinnon was to be inducted on September 17. On the 2nd of the month the Committee of Management received a memorandum from the Church and Manse trustees:

“It was resolved that all moneys derivable from the leasing of the Church and Manse lands shall be collected by the Treasurer (pro tem.) of the Church and deposited in a bank at interest in the joint names of Henry Allan and Alexander Thomson with a view to form a fund to be applied whenever practicable, in improving and utilizing, under the directions of the Trustees, the property of the Trusts; and that the accounts of such fund shall be kept apart from but annexed to the Balance Sheet to be presented Annually by the Committee to the Congregation.
“That Mr Allan having generously offered to condone his claim of £400 against the Church in consideration of the payment of a sum of £200 the Committee be urged to adopt measures for raising that amount without delay.” (Committee of Management Minutes, 2-9-1878)

Though this directly contradicted what the Committee had resolved should be done in February, it is hard not to see the hand of the new Minister in the combative response the Committee returned, even though Roger McKinnon was not yet formally on the scene:

it was unanimously resolved that the Secretary be instructed to reply to the Trustees as follows: –
1.That in April 1876 the Committee of this Church applied to the Trustees of the Manse and Church lands (believing that they were themselves alive to the extent of their powers) for permission to lease the unoccupied portions of these lands and devote the proceeds to Church purposes. The Trustees granted permission with but one reservation, that they should approve of the Tenants.
2.That in view of the above, the proposal of the Trustees, without consulting the Committee who have had all the labor of creating the funds, to dispose of the same is not only discourteous but is a retraction of the permission already granted to the Committee “to devote the proceeds to Church purposes.”
3.That knowing such a proposal was to be made, the Committee have fully enquired into the power of the Trustees.
4.That they have found it clearly laid down in the Presbyterian Church Temporalities Act (8 Gul IV No. 7) that before spending one penny of the money, the Trustees must pay to the Minister £150 per annum.
5.That as it is clearly the law that the Minister is entitled to all the proceeds of the land until it exceeds £150 per annum, the Committee cannot comply which the instructions of the Trustees which are contrary to law.
That the only reference to any debt connected with the church buildings which the Committee have been able to discover after a careful search of the Church records, is a foot note on a Treasurer’s Statement by Mr Allan in December 1874 stating that the debt was then £300 1/7, which Statement is unsupported by any documents in possession of the Committee. Any documents or other evidence respecting this claim which Mr Allan may hold will receive the careful consideration of the Committee. (Committee of Management Minutes, 2-9-1878)

The last section of this minute was a particularly low blow: when Roger McKinnon signed it on October 3, he must surely have been the only person in the room unaware of what Henry Allan had done for the church.

What of the claim that the minister was entitled to the first £150 of income from the church and manse lands – a claim dear to the heart of Rev McKinnon? This stemmed from an Act passed by the Legislative Council in 1837 (An Act to Regulate the Temporal affairs of Presbyterian Churches and Chapels connected with the Church of Scotland in the Colony of New South Wales). At that time, clergy who presided over congregations of 100 or more received government supplements to their stipends. If any church, assisted or not, had enough land to raise £150 a year, the Act was intended to ensure that the minister would receive that amount as a minimum – how much more a church, might pay was up to the congregation.

The model set up by the Legislative Council envisaged that trustees of church lands – appointed by the government on church advice – would see to all the temporal affairs of a church: they would collect seat rents, for example, on the one hand; they would pay for repairs on the other. This failed to take into account that the Presbyterian Church had a different structure, with the Committee of Management of each church looking after its revenues and expenditures, and paying the minister the stipend approved by the congregation. McKinnon’s point of view was that while the congregation might fix the stipend, the Act of Parliament made revenue from church lands money in his pocket. At the moment the dispute was only over £5 a year, but an augmentation of £150, if that could be achieved, would be a substantial addition to a stipend of £250 (bringing the total to the equivalent of about $93,000).

Henry Allan had not made his money by neglecting his book-keeping. A deputation from the Committee called at Burnbank to see him about ‘the alleged debt’, and brought back this report:

“Mr Allan exhibited the Treasurer’s Cash book showing receipts and disbursements on both accounts by which the following sums appeared to be due to him.
On account ofChurch£300-1-7
      "  "Manse (total cost of building) £885
“Mr Allan also exhibited the following documents
1. An undertaking from Messrs Peek, Loxton and Bremner (Elders) that in consideration of the money being found for the erection of a Manse Mr Allan should be entitled to charge 7 per cent upon the cost thereof upon the Church revenues of St Peter’s.
2. Draft of an application (dated July 1870) to the Agent of the Presbyterian Church claiming one half the total cost of the Church building (said one half £ not stated).
3. Copy of an application (dated 20th Dec 1871) to the Agent of the Church claiming one half of the total cost of the Manse (said one half £ ) both claims being upon the Church and School Estate revenue.
4. Acknowledgement of the latter (Manse application) by Revd Adam Thomson Agent of the Church stating that the claim had been entered on the list and would be dealt with in its order (dated 2lst Dec 1871).
“Mr Allan stated that he expected £1000 from this source, but that if the Assembly paid his claim for the Church, he would be satisfied and would expect nothing further from the Congregation. The deputation having stated that they considered the Congregation should overture the General Assembly upon the subject at its next meeting, but desired to be informed what Mr Allan expected of the Congregation in the event of such application to the General Assembly failing. Mr Allan stated that in that event he would consider his debt upon both Church and Manse discharged by the payment by the Congregation of the former ( £300). He further stated that having reduced his contribution to the Church funds from £100 to £50 per annum from the time of the erection of the Manse, he considered that the retention by him of the £50 per annum was equivalent to payment by the Congregation of interest upon his outlay upon the Manse.” (Committee of Management Minutes, 10-3-1880)

The Committee could hardly refuse now to acknowledge the reality of Henry Allan’s claim: they agreed to try and get the money out of the General Assembly, and by way of strengthening the case the Kirk Session elected Allan to represent it at the Assembly in the current year.

Probably to no-one’s surprise, the General Assembly decided there was nothing they could do. To the extent the money had been advanced in anticipation of government grants, those grants had not materialized and in any case were no longer available. For its part, the Assembly had no spare money to dispense. The conclusion of this episode is recorded in a series of minutes:

Messrs James Thomson, J. Anderson and Revd R. McKinnon were appointed a Sub Committee to wait upon Mr Allan and communicate the result of the Petition, and express the Committee’s willingness to pay Mr Allan the sum of £300 which he was willing to accept in liquidation of all indebtedness, the said sum to be paid out of a loan expected to be obtained from the Church & Manse Loan Committee of £500. (3-11-1880)

Mr McKinnon reported that on 6th Inst. the Sub Committee appointed at last meeting waited upon Mr Allan and submitted the Committee’s proposal to pay to him the sum of three hundred pounds when they received the loan of £500 promised by the Church & Manse Loan fund Committee. Mr Allan expressed to them his gratification at the proposal and agreed to hand to them as he offered on 10th February last a clean receipt for all indebtedness on the Church and Manse upon receiving the said sum of £300. (20-11-1880)

The Annual Report of the Committee was read and adopted also a letter from Mr Henry Allan releasing the Congregation from all claim upon him in respect to the debts upon the Church and Manse without any money payment whatever. (13-1-1881)

It was then moved by Mr Anderson and seconded by M Dixon:—That this Congregation hereby expresses its warm appreciation of Mr Henry Allan’s unexampled generosity in relieving them from all obligation in respect to the large sum of £1185 expended by him on the Church and Manse. That in expressing to Mr Allan their heartfelt gratitude for his magnificent act of generosity, they also feel that it is but one of the many acts of self sacrifice and good will towards the Presbyterian church in St Leonards which Mr Allan has manifested since his residence amongst them. (Congregational Meeting, 19-1-1881)

The debt on the Church and Manse may have now been settled; not so the question of the £150. In 1882 David Carment was elected to the Committee of Management; he was to become one of its longest serving members. Being an actuary, Carment soon impressed his fellow Committee members with his aptitude for accounts. In May Mr W. A. Dixon, the Treasurer, resigned; in June Carment was asked to become permanent treasurer of the church; he accepted. Immediately, the question of the stipend was raised. The Committee resolved to pay at the rate agreed by the congregation (now £300) ‘irrespective of the land revenue’. At the August meeting those words were struck from the minutes, on the grounds that the Committee had no jurisdiction over the land revenue.

David Carment was an actuary, James Anderson managed an insurance company. It was obvious to both of them that controlling the church budget was going to require including the money the minister thought he was entitled to within the amount the congregation had voted to pay him. At the January meeting in 1883, the Committee passed this resolution:

“That the Statement of Receipts and Disbursements of the Trustees of the Church and Manse Lands be published along with the annual Report, and that the Committee recommend the Congregation to fix Mr McKinnon’s Stipend for the year 1883 at £400 per annum (with the Manse) inclusive of all rentals paid to him by the Trustees of the church and Manse Lands, and that £40 already handed to Mr McKinnon by the Trustees in 1882, but being a portion of the rentals for 1883, be included in reckoning the 1883 rentals.” (Committee of Management Minutes, 11-1-1883)

At the Annual Congregational Meeting, this resolution caused some heat:

The Report of the Committee of Management and Treasurer’s Statements were read whereupon Mr James Thomson moved and Mr T. C. Sinclair seconded that the Report be adopted with the following alterations:—in the paragraph referring to Mr McKinnon’ s Stipend £350 be substituted for £400 and the word “exclusive” for “inclusive” – (making the stipend £350 exclusive of all rentals from Church and Manse Lands). After discussion Mr Davey moved that the report as presented by the Committee be adopted. Mr Davey’s motion not being seconded, Mr Thomson’s motion was put and carried by 14 to 4. (Annual Congregational Meeting Minutes, 5-2- 1883)

James Anderson and David Carment resigned at the next meeting of the Committee of Management, but were persuaded to keep on till replacements could be found; at the March meeting Carment was re-appointed Treasurer. Some in the congregation were still angry:

A letter received by the Treasurer from Mr Dixon, related to business transacted at the congregational Meeting, was read and after some discussion it was resolved on the motion of Mr Sinclair seconded by Mr Davey that the Treasurer reply, that the Committee are of opinion that no sentiments were expressed at the Congregational Meeting pointing to a desire to play “fast and loose with the laws of our church.” (Committee of Management Minutes, 29-3-1883)

In December the question came up again: should the property income be included in the amount St Peter’s was assessed to pay towards the expenses of the General Assembly? The Committee divided in the same way:

Question raised whether assessment for General Assembly Expenses be paid in full, or whether the item of £66 included in statement as “other stipend monies” be struck out of same, and 2% paid on balance.
Moved by Mr Thomson seconded by Mr Smith that item be struck out, pending enquiry as to rule among other congregations. Moved as amendment by Mr Davy and seconded by Mr Grant, that item be allowed to remain.
Amendment carried by majority of one. Amount viz £10.3.9 ordered to be paid.
Mr McKinnon entered his dissent on the following grounds:
lst That money which is not raised by the congregation, which never passes through the hands of the Treasurer, which is not an item in his accounts, and over which the Committee of Management has no control, is not properly subject to assessment, and that by submitting to such an imposition the Committee is yielding obedience to a principle which is inequitable.
2nd That such assessment has not been authorized by the General Assembly, according to the document accompanying assessment paper. (Committee of Management Minutes, 27-12-1883)

At its meeting on January 10 1884, the Committee of Management voted to include the accounts of the church and manse trustees in the annual reports so the congregation could see the whole financial situation. At the Annual Congregational Meeting on January 28,

Mr Sinclair moved and Mr Horniman seconded that it be an instruction to the Committee to omit from the next printed reports the present form of tabulated Statement of Receipts. Mr Anderson moved an amendment which Mr Davey seconded that no change be made; the amendment was carried by 13 votes to 3. Mr Horniman then remarked with reference to the printed statements of the Church and Manse and School Trustees that there was nothing the congregation could do with reference to those as they had no jurisdiction concerning them and although printed by the Committee were improperly before the meeting. Mr Davey thereupon moved that the congregation pass a vote of thanks to the Trustees for placing these a/cs before them. Mr McKinnon ruled that such a motion was not in order.

So the matter rested. The Committee reappointed David Carment as Treasurer, but there was clearly no way that Rev McKinnon could be made to accept the authority of the Committee over the property income: while he chaired all three of the church trusts he would retain the major say. In 1904, when the next Minister was appointed, perhaps the Committee would be more cautious in what it offered him. David Carment would still be a member.