- Jenny Geddes
Jenny Geddes (c. 1600 – c. 1660) was a Scottish market-trader in
Edinburgh, who is alleged to have thrown her stool at the head of the minister in St Giles' Cathedralin objection to the first public use of the Anglican" Book of Common Prayer" in Scotland.
The act is reputed to have sparked the riot which led to the
Wars of the Three Kingdoms, which included the English Civil War.
Since the early years of the seventeenth century, the Scottish Church had been established on the same Episcopalian basis as its English cousin, but was far more
puritan, both in doctrine and practice. In 1633 King Charles I came to St Giles' to have his Scottish coronation service, using the full Anglican rites, accompanied by William Laud, his new Archbishop of Canterbury. In the years that followed he began to consider ways of introducing Anglican-style church services on Scotland. The King arranged a Commission to draw up a prayer book suitable for Scotland, and in 1637 an Edinburgh printer produced:
:The BOOKE OF Common Prayer :AND Administration Of The Sacraments: :And other parts of divine Service :for the use of the CHURCH OF SCOTLAND. These developments met with widespread opposition.
The first use of the prayer book was in St Giles' on Sunday
23 July 1637, when James Hannay, Dean of Edinburgh, began to read the Collects, part of the prescribed service, and Jenny Geddes, a market-woman or street-seller, threw her stool straight at the reverend's head. Some sources describe it as a "fald stool" or a "creepie-stool" meaning a folding stool as shown flying in the illustration, while others claim that it was a three-legged cuttie-stool. As she hurled the stool she is reported to have yelled::"Deil colic the wame o’ ye, fause thief; daur ye say Mass in my lug?" meaning "Devil cause you severe pain and flatulent distention of your abdomen, false thief: dare you say the Mass in my ear?".
This was the start of a general tumult with much of the congregation shouting abuse and throwing Bibles, stools, sticks and stones. Prebble reports the phrase "Dost thou say Mass in my lug?" as being addressed to a gentleman in the congregation who murmured a dutiful response to the liturgy, getting thumped with a Bible for his pains, and describes Jenny as one of a number of "waiting-women" who were paid to arrive early and sit on their folding stools to hold a place for their patrons. The rioters were ejected by officers summoned by the Provost, but for the rest of the service hammered at the doors and threw stones at the windows.
More serious rioting in the streets (and in other cities) followed, and the Provost and magistrates were besieged in the City Chambers, to the extent that it became necessary to negotiate with the Edinburgh mob. At the suggestion of the
Lord Advocateit appointed a committee known as "the Tables" to negotiate with the Privy Council. Characteristically, Charles turned down the Tables' demands for withdrawal of the Anglican liturgy and more riots ensued with talk of civil war. This led to widespread signing of the National Covenantin February 1638, with its defiance of any attempt to introduce innovations like the Prayer Book that had not first been subject to the scrutiny of Parliament and the General Assembly of the Church. In November of the same year, the bishops and archbishops were formally expelled from the Church of Scotland, which was then established on a full Presbyterian basis. Charles reacted by launching the Bishops' Wars, thus beginning the Wars of Three Kingdoms.
In the aftermath of the riots definitive evidence is hard to come by, and some doubt if Jenny Geddes started the fight or if she even existed, but she remains a part of Edinburgh tradition and has long had a memorial in St Giles. The sculpture which was added recently shows a three-legged
cuttie-stoolrather than a folding stool.
Robert Burnsnamed his mare after Jenny Geddes and wrote amusingly of this faithful horse.
Religion in the United Kingdom
Book of Common Order
Book of Common Prayer
Prayer Book Rebellionin the West of England
* "The Lion in the North", John Prebble, Penguin Books 1973
* "Scotland, A Concise History", Fitzroy Maclean, Thames and Hudson 1991, ISBN 0-500-27706-0
* [http://www.electricscotland.com/history/edinburgh/chap14.htm ElectricScotland.com The Churches of Edinburgh]
* [http://www.fpcr.org/blue_banner_articles/jgeddes.htm Jenny Geddes]
* [http://www.geo.ed.ac.uk/scotgaz/people/famousfirst147.html Overview of Jenny Geddes]
* [http://www.robertburns.org/encyclopedia/GeddesJenny.383.shtml Robert Burns Country: The Burns Encyclopedia: Geddes, Jenny]
* [http://www.wardsbookofdays.com/23july.htm How Jenny Geddes caused a Civil War @ "Ward's Book of Days"]
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Look at other dictionaries:
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GEDDES, JENNY — an Edinburgh worthy who on 23rd July 1637 immortalised herself by throwing her stool at the head of Laud s bishop as he proceeded from the desk of St. Giles s in the city to read the Collect for the day, exclaiming as she did so, Deil colic… … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
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WREN, MATTHEW — bishop of Ely; was one of the judges of the Star Chamber; assisted in preparing the liturgy for Scotland, which, when read in St. Giles , Edinburgh, roused the ire of JENNY GEDDES (q.v. GEDDES, JENNY); was impeached, and confined in the Tower… … The Nuttall Encyclopaedia
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