chapter  2
Pages 26

The actions of the Kirk leadership and local lay communities all suggest two interacting rhetorical types emphasising the importance of correct decorum surrounding death. Kirk authorities were certainly concerned with what they considered incorrect understandings of the Reformed idea of death and concomitant 'superstitious' customs. The language of cruelty and murder percolated through Scotland, presenting indecent and unjust deaths. Local authorities needed to verify the deaths reported in these narratives to avoid the potential for social scandal. The diarist, John Nicoll, reported how James McCauley, goldsmith and burgess of Edinburgh, was excommunicated for supporting the Engagement and then 'dischargit to be bureyit in the churchyaird' following his death in March 1648. In April 1657, the Synod of Perth and Stirling heard that Katherine Menzies had remarried despite 'no certaintie' of her first husband's death in the six-and-a-half years since his departure.