CollectionGB 3380 Scottish Catholic Archives, Historic Archives
Ref NoSCA B/4
TitleBishop Alexander Paterson, Eastern Vicariate
Extent11 files
Administrative HistoryBorn at Pathhead in the Enzie area of Banffshire. Enrolled as candidate for the priesthood at Scalan and later at the Scots College in Douai probably in 1791. Was Prefect of Studies till the College was closed in 1793] In charge of the Mission at Tombae, Glenlivet 1793- 1812. In charge of Mission at Paisley 1812- 1816. Became in 1816 Coadjutor to Bishop Cameron in the Lowland District with the title of Bishop of Cybistra and succeeded Cameron in 1825. When the national Mission was re-organised into three Districts in place of the Lowland and Highland Vicariates in 1827, he was translated to the new Eastern District. United the two seminaries (Lismore for the Highland Vicariate and Aquhorties for the Lowland Vicariate) into a single training centre at Blairs College, Aberdeen. Died very suddenly in 1831, causing a long gap before the appointment of a successor, Bishop Carruthers.

Born in the Catholic enclave of the Enzie, Banffshire, Alexander Paterson was enrolled at age 12 in Scalan, the Seminary for the education of future Catholic priests. Scalan laid the foundations but most students went from there to one of the Scots continental seminaries and in his case it was in Douai in France that he underwent the long training for ordination. He was regarded as exceptionally promising, even before he was of sufficient age to be ordained. He served the Glenlivet Mission and was known for the good relations he was able to maintain with both Catholics and Protestants and for the efforts he made to encourage important landowners to alleviate the sufferings of the poor caused by the social problems of land distribution and cultivation.

A very different scene awaited him at his next mission in Paisley where the numbers of Catholics increased as a result of Highlanders being driven to leave their native glens to seek employment in what would become the industrial west of Scotland. After 4 years, he became Coadjutor and in 1821 went to Paris and successfully negotiated with the post-Napoleonic Government for the return of the Scottish Missions properties lost in the Revolution. His next major achievement was to get Romes agreement to a new three-fold division of the Scottish Mission into 3 Districts, with himself in charge of the Eastern District and a radical reorganisation of what had been the Highland Vicariate. He had to face bitter opposition at the time but on the whole, the new divisions lasted and were to provide the basis for the Restoration of the Hierarchy many years later.

With great courage, he returned to France in 1830 when Revolution again threatened the position of the Scots property and the security of students and staff. His negotiations were again successful. He died shortly afterwards.

He was a man of strong principles who dealt firmly with opposition. He preached constantly on the merits of forbearance and deplored the acrimony which resulted from the differences with other Christian denominations. His record demonstrated a sincere concern for the welfare and betterment of the poor.
DescriptionLetter books; sermons; 'De Actibus Humanis'; 'De Peccatis et Gratia'; 'De Baptismi'; Glenlivet communicants; miscellaneous notes
Access StatusOpen
Physical DescriptionBound volumes; notes
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