Although Rev. George's communicants may have been influenced by his 1,700 sermons, they certainly had minds of their own. In Rev. George's obituary which appeared in The Presbyterian in Oct., 1870, the people of St. Andrew's were referred to as:
Shrewd intelligent emigrants, mostly from the south of Scotland, quite capable of appreciating the best productions of his gifted mind, so that he had a constant stimulus to study. Having originated in lowland Scotland where education and libraries were highly valued, the people of St. Andrew's were not long in establishing the first library in Scarborough. A constitution was drafted at a public meeting on April 7, 1834:
At a meeting held in the Presbyterian Church at Scarboro, it was Resolved, that whereas it is thought expedient to establish a subscription Library in the Township of Scarboro (without reference of Sect or Party) for the instruction of the Inhabitants, as the best means of providing extensive reading: as a number associated together will be able to have a greater variety of books ... No book of a seditious, deistical or licentious character was to be allowed on the shelves, on any pretence whatever.
Individuality and Freedom:
Two hundred years ago, the socio-economic structure of Scotland was radically different from what it had been even fifty years before. Against this backdrop of economic change, other forces had also been at work on the religious fabric of society. Ordinary people in Cumnock had taken a very serious stand on the politically motivated "Oath of Abjuration" between 1712 and 1716.
And so, several years later, in 1738, the Praying Society of Cumnock, Ayrshire, joined the Secession Church. A list dated 1757 records the names of the "Seceders" in the Parish. These early Ayrshire proponents of individuality and freedom -- while all very ordinary rural folk -- could have been among the intelligent tenant farmers who also devised better ways of organizing their farming economy.
In the next generation, we know that John McCrae and Jean McCowan, great-great-great grandparents of the John McCrae, the author of In Flander's Fields, were strong supporters of the Secession Church. The values of John McCrae were partly shaped by the impact of the Lowland Clearances on his ancestors.
Let's take a closer look at some of that social turmoil and economic upheaval in Scotland, commonly known as the Agricultural Revolution.
The Church and Temperance
In Scarborough, the first temperance society was formed in 1834 primarily by the Scots of St. Andrew's Church under Rev. James George...
Finally, on February 2, 1882!: "We take very great pleasure in giving to the world, through the columns of the Markham Economist, the news that now every member of the Session of Knox Church is a pledged total abstainer."
By the turn of the century, there was evidently a rule in Scarborough that "no liquor was allowed at the [barn] raisings".
The war against intemperance in Scarborough peaked in the early decades of this century. At the meetings of the St. Andrew's Young People's Society, the members presented their own essays. Papers in opposition to drinking included "How Intemperance Hinders Missions" by T.A. Paterson on November 30, 1904, "Temperance Organizations" by Rev. McArthur on November 19, 1908, and, perhaps, "How to Break Bad Habits and Cultivate Good Ones" by Allan Green.