This is the day that … Jenny Geddes flung her stool at the Dean’s head in St Giles’ Kirk (church), Edinburgh! It was in 1637.
William Laud was both Archbishop of Canterbury and adviser of King Charles I of England, and he it was who was responsible for seeking to impose the Church of England Prayer Book and episcopacy (the government of the church by bishops) upon the Scottish believers.
Besides which, Laud had permitted such Romish practices as the setting up of images, crucifixes and bowing to the altar in the church. Eventually he was charged with treason and executed in 1645. But in the meantime the damage was done.
“Villain!” Jenny Geddes had cried. “Dost thou say the mass in my lug (ear)?” – and hurled her stool (Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia, page 856).
Her action nearly started a riot with the Dean and the Bishop quickly withdrawing to the street. Many others followed her action by generating a volley of sticks and stones.
It is only fair to say that some historians have dismissed the incident as apocryphal (Dictionary of Christian Church, page 403).
But certainly the Scottish church took a strong stand against the inroads of Archbishop Laud’s innovations. And years of persecution bore upon them. But that’s another story …
St Giles Cathedral displays a three-legged stool sculpture in memory of Jenny Geddes impact on Scottish history.
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com.