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Ten Years' Conflict

1834-1843. A confrontation between Evangelicals and Moderates* in the Church of Scotland. Both parties believed in ecclesiastical establishment, but patronage was divisive-the presentation of a minister to a congregation upon the nomination of a patron, despite the opposition of the congregation. The Moderates espoused this procedure. Rejected at the Reformation and in the Revolution Settlement, patronage was reintroduced in 1712. Making the minister dependent on the aristocracy, it tended to separate him from his congregation. The patron's social round was not always conducive to pastoral priorities. If the congregation showed any unwillingness to accept the minister, the civil magistrate would endorse the patron's choice. During the heyday of Moderatism the Church of Scotland lost one-sixth of its membership to secession groups bearing the Presbyterian name.

In 1834 the Evangelical party wanted to make the congregation's consent essential to the issuing of a call, and by passing the Veto Act gave the congregations the right to refuse the patron's nominee. That year the patron presented to the congregation of Auchterarder a nominee whom the congregation refused to accept; the presbytery upheld this decision. The nominee took action in the civil courts which declared his right to ordination and the emoluments of the church. After further clashes elsewhere between church and state, it became clear that the Church of Scotland was not free to govern itself. Evangelicals were faced with the choice of rescinding the Veto Act or leaving the church. Parliament would not move to help them. In 1843, therefore, the Disruption* took place, and the Ten Years' Conflict ended with the birth of the Free Church of Scotland.*

See R. Buchanan, The Ten Years' Conflict (2 vols., 1849).