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The district occupied by a tribe came to be distinguished as their "country" or portion; the "Dal" or territory of the children sprung from the original settler or founder, as Dalriada, the Dal of Riada, son of Conaire, King of Ireland; but the primary signification of the word is that of descendants, and only secondarily their territory.1
In the same way, the prefix Hi, so common in Irish names, is the plural of Hua, or 0, "a grandson," and denotes posterity,— but it also secondarily designates the country occupied by them.2
The Plou of Brittany, in the same way, signified a people and a territory; but its original signification was that of the descendants of one of the first settlers, and secondarily the territory which they came to occupy.
According to the learned editor of the Chartulary of Redon, the word "plebs" in other countries meant a baptismal parish. In Brittany it had a peculiarity. Among the ancient Britons, the word plouef meant a cultivated territory—an organised colony—a parish.. The British fugitives of the fifth century transported naturally the word and the institution to the soil on which they came to settle. The chief of the plou, princeps plebis, tyrannus, tyern, mactyern, was ordinarily the son, the nephew, the parent of some expatriated brenin, around whom was grouped a certain number of compatriot fugitives like him. Debarking in Armorica with his companions, the Mactyern became the sovereign of a little people, over which he exercised such an authority as the chief of a clan in ancient times had. The Life of St. Guenole, written in the ninth century by Gurdestin, Abbot of Landevenech, contains a curious passage, which paints to the life the situation just indicated. Fracan, a fugitive, is here said to have established himself with his followers on a territory rendered fertile by the overflowing of the river. The district, thus settled on in the fifth century by Fracan, is to this day called Pbu-Fracan; that is to say, the tribe, the territory, the parish of Fracan. This may indicate the origin of the Plou of Armorican Brittany.1 It would seem that the parish of Kirkmichael, in Ayrshire, originally formed the territory of a clan, which appears in our records under the title of Muntir"dufly» and Muntircasduff.4 The parish is described as parochia de Kyrcmychel Muntirduffy.
Finnabrach seu Kilfenora, Ossoriensis et gentilis, quam patriarchalem dixeris, haec Corca-Laidhe ex gentibus seu progeniebus una erat eis nota, probe intelligentibus quoque ortae sunt earumque flnibus cir- patrem filiorum, avuu1 nepotum et sic cumscripUe. Plus mirabilitatis heec non deinceps esse dominum, atque hanc domihabent quam ecclesue in tentoriis et cum- nationem, generatione ortam, intra conbus apud populos scenitas et nomades in sanguineos consistere, sed plane non capiOriente. Aidhne itaqne regio quasi dice- entibus quare quis alteri obnoxius fiat cesis facta est S. Colmani." quia pedem aut sedem in ejus terras
And again—" Parum itaque aut nihil intulerit."
intelligebant Hiberni, eorumque cognati 1 Ecclesiastical Antiquities of Down,
Britones, Wallenses et Scoti de jurisdic- Connor, and Droruore, by Dr. Reeves, p.
tione territorii finibus circumscripta; 320.
jurisdictio seu auctoritas personalis aut 2 Idem, p. 82.
The Saxon parish was a district or division of land, shired or cut off, and made subject in spiritual things to a church erected on it. In the early annals of the Saxon Church, the monastic system is as prominent as it was among the Celts; and the gospel was preached by itinerating monks, who went out from their monasteries among the surrounding tribes, the people assembling in convenient places to be taught;1 but from some of the enactments of a provincial synod, held at Calcuith under Archbishop Cuthbert, A.d. 747, it would seem that already the monastic bodies had found it necessary to erect district churches on their lands, which were served by priests under them. It also appears that the lands of laymen had been divided into districts by the bishops, and placed under the charge of presbyters, and that these divisions in many cases coincided with the boundaries of the manor on which the church was built, while the priest ministering within their bounds was invested with exclusive right to their tithes and dues.2 It is plain, however, that in Alba its monastic system, which was founded on the ecclesiastical subjection of certain tribes to their clan-monastery, and not on the idea of a defined territory with exclusive spiritual rights, continued to flourish down to the reign of David I., and that the changes which were begun in his mother's time, and were carried on by her sons, were the results of influences foreign to the Celtic polity which had hitherto prevailed.
1 Chartular. Redon, Pref. lxxxiii. which Murdach, son of Sowerli, had . . .
'Muintir is the Gaelic word for a clan paying on the feast of St. Michael Arch
or tribe. angel, at Kyrcmychel Muntirduffy, in
* Malcolm, son of Roland of Carrie, by Carrie, a pair of silver spurs.—(Note of his charter (said to be dated in 1370), the original among the Cassilis papers.) granted to John Kennedy, lord of Donno- * Among the missing charters of King wyr, the lands of Freuchane and Kene- David IL is one "anent the Clan of thane, lying within the parish of Kyrc- Muntircasduff, John M'Kennedy Captain mychel Muntirduffy, in the earldom of thereof."—(Robertson's Index to the CharCarrie and shire of Are, with all the right ters, p. 57.)
It would seem that then the lesser district monasteries of Alba came to be superseded by churches, which were frequently erected on the site of these earlier foundations. It does not appear, however, that the districts subjected to the churches depended directly on the manorial distribution; and there are circumstances in their history which rather indicate that, in some cases at least, the divisions depended on an earlier and different arrangement.1
1 Bede, H. E. c. 19, voL i. voL i. pp. 157-8. Thorpe's Ancient
'Spelman's Concilia, pp. 247-8. Lin- Laws and Institutes of England, vol. ii. gard's History of the Anglo-Saxon Church, p. 411.
The Pictish monasteries being the nuclei of clans or families, scattered over the country in the same way as the monastic bodies in Ireland, it is easy to understand that when the parochial divisions emerged, the territories in the occupation of these clans would be adopted as a natural field for the energies of permanent priests; while yet the primary consideration related to the people on the land, and not (in the outset at least) to the shire or district cut off The divisions which came to be known as shires or parishes, were of very varying extent. Some of them were of great size, and would seem to have been the territories belonging to the chief monasteries, so that in later times two or three parishes were carved out of them; while others of less extent, probably represent the district monasteries of smaller importance, and their lands.
The boundaries of parishes often appear to be arbitrary, not coinciding with any known manorial distribution, and this probably arose from the grafting of the parochial or territorial arrangement on one where the subject of spiritual oversight primarily consisted of groups of families or clans of various size, and secondarily of town-lands, also of varying size, which formed their settlement.
1 The exclusive spiritual rights among barony of Athlone and county of Ros
the Celts were exercised over the people common, dedicated to St. Bridget: "St.
of the clan as descended from a common Bridget has the baptism of the race of
ancestor; and we find an instance of the Maind; and although the children may
system in operation in a tract in the Book not (always) be brought to her church to
of Lecan (foL 92) treating of O'Kelly and be baptized, her Coarb has the power to
his people of Hy-Many, where it appears collect the baptism penny from these
that all the Hy-Many were bound to be tribes."—(O'Donovan's Annals of the Four
baptized at the church of Camma, in the Masters, vol. ill. p. 258.)
As an apt illustration of what is here said, I may adduce the account of the parish of Shilvodan, in Ulster, which sprang out of the earlier clan-arrangement. Its nucleus was the monastic church already referred to, built by St. Boedan, and from him called KillBoedain, which was enriched by gifts of lands from Sodan, son of the King of Ulster, and mainly from the families of Kinel-Decil, the Clann Scoba, and Sil-noiridhin, all of whom devoted themselves and their posterity as devout followers of St. Boedan, their patron saint. The people of these clans were called Siol - Bhaodain (Progenies Boydani), and their territories were formed into a parish when the time for parochial arrangements arrived.1
On the other hand, the primary idea of a parish, where we can trace its formation, in those parts of Scotland where Saxon influences were first developed, depended on that of a defined territory, within which the ministering priest had exclusive right. This may be illustrated by the case of Ednam or Ednaham, which Edgar, King of the Scots, bestowed on one of his Saxon followers, Thor the Long, when it was a wild and uninhabited district. Thor, having brought the land into cultivation, and settled his people upon it, at last erected a church in honour of St. Cuthbert, and conveyed it to the monks of Durham, in whose hands the district soon came to be the parish of Ednaham.2
1 Reeves' Eccl. Antiq. of Down, a Dr. Eaine's North Durham, Appendix,
Connor, and Dromore, p. 303. p. 38.