Newton Parish Church


By the beginning of the 18th century demand for coal was growing steadily. Poverty and enslavement became absolute when the Habeas Corpus Act of 1701,  which gave protection to Scottish people against wrongful arrest and delay in trials, stated it was "in no wayes to be extended to COALLIERS AND SALTERS!"

Thus colliers and salters became a race apart, despised and ostracised in their own land by State, Kirk and their fellow-countryman.  People called them 'the broon yins'.  A deeply religious people, only the promise of a Heavenly Life Hereafter made their lot on earth bearable. So when, in some places, they were debarred from worship in the Kirk and refused a Christian burial, they cried out in anguish, "Punishing us on both sides of the grave - for what?"

Over at Newton Parish Church,  where many families from Adamsrow worshipped, we find they are now excluded from worship in the Kirk, and buried in unsanctified ground.  A plaque dated 1747, under the colliers loft in that church, commemorates their acceptance back into the Church after a 15 year fight for re-admission.  It gives names of some of the colliers - ARCHIBALD, ADAM AND KINGHORN - alongside the tools of their craft.

This rejection by society bound them together as never before.  Swearing, what they called the SECRET OATH OF BROTHERING, they pledged undying loyalty to one another and a dogged determination to carry on the fight for freedom and justice. This practice spread like wildfire throughout Scotland, the message often carried by runaway slaves, who would be sheltered by mining families, putting themselves in grave danger.

Staircase to the Colliers' Loft