Scots Churches and Missions

Esther Breitenbach

in Scotland and the British Empire

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199573240
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731310 | DOI:

Series: Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series

Scots Churches and Missions

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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Scottish Presbyterians had a presence throughout the British empire, as did Scots of many denominations. Presbyterianism remained dominant, however. In the colonies of settlement, Presbyterian churches played an important role in sustaining emigrants’ cultural values and Scottish identity, and in developing educational institutions. Scots Protestant foreign missions, initially organised in the late eighteenth century outside the established church in non-denominational societies, were later taken up by the Church of Scotland, Free Church of Scotland, and United Presbyterian Church. The foreign mission movement increased its support throughout the nineteenth century and maintained a profile into the mid-twentieth century. Impacts of missions can be hard to assess, though building of educational institutions was an important legacy of this work. The foreign mission movement had, however, a significant impact at home, in shaping Scots’ perceptions of the peoples of empire and of Scots’ role in the ‘civilising mission’ of empire.

Keywords: Presbyterianism; colonial churches; foreign missions; missionaries; cultural imperialism; humanitarianism; national identity

Chapter.  12217 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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