The 1858-62 revival in the North East of Scotland
The 1859 revival is the most significant spiritual awakening that has affected Scotland in modern times, but it has remained little examined by scholars. This thesis aims to highlight the importance of this religious phenomenon and to analyse it in a critical manner. In the first instance, it considers the three principal traditions of revival that have evolved since the seventeenth century so that the 1859 movement can be located within this history. It also examines the various theories that have arisen during the last fifty years which have sought to explain how and why these movements have appeared at certain times and in particular contexts. It is significant that, unlike previous studies which have explored the revival from either a narrow local or broad national perspective, this thesis considers the awakening on a regional basis, covering the north east of Scotland. It analyses the manner and expression of the revival as it arose in the city of Aberdeen, in the rural hinterland of north east Scotland, and among the fishing communities along the Moray Firth. In addition, by using data from church records and the 1861 census, it determines the composition of the people who were affected by the movement in each of these three separate situations. Furthermore it investigates the factors which explain the relative failure of the revival to affect the fishing town of Peterhead. Accordingly the thesis demonstrates that the 1859 revival was not a single, uniform religious movement. On the contrary, it establishes that local factors, which include the theological and social nature of a particular context, exercised a powerful effect upon the character of this 'season of grace.