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Communion cup, Burnhead Relief Congregation, Penpont, 1801


On 26 November 1798 parishioners from Penpont made a complaint against the minister of their church.  They requested a Relief minister to preach to them.  This request was granted by the Relief Presbytery of Dumfries and a new congregation was formed.  In 1800 they built a church and in 1801 received new communion cups, presented by Mrs Milligan of Cleughhead.


The Relief Church was formed in 1761 by Thomas Gillespie, who had been deposed as a minister in the Church of Scotland for disagreeing with the appointment of a minister to a parish whose parishioners opposed it.  The Relief Church grew rapidly as congregations who were dissatisfied with their ministers left the Church of Scotland to join.  In 1847 the majority of Relief Churches joined with the United Secession Church to form the United Presbyterian Church.


This cup is one of a pair and would have been in use in the church for many years.  Joseph Thomson, the explorer, was born in Penpont in 1858.  He attended the United Presbyterian Church which had formerly been the Relief Church, and would have taken communion from one of the cups.  Thomson led six expeditions to Africa regarding Thomson's Falls, which was named after his father, and the Thomson's gazelle, named after Joseph Thomson.  The pair to this cup was presented to a church in Thomson's Falls, Nyahururu, Kenya in the mid 20th century. 

Dumfries Museum & Camera Obscura
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