Letter from Robert Hamilton to the Societies of 22 August, 1682.
The following letter is one of the most important in the history of the United Societies, as it announced that a pathway for the ordination of some Society people had been established in the United Provinces via William Brackel.
The importance of that pathway cannot be underestimated, as it allowed the Society people to bypass the Scottish Presbyterian clergy when seeking ordination and established an international support network for the Societies. Without Dutch support, the Societies would probably have remained a lay protest movement and would not have had ordained ministers like James Renwick.
From the opening line of the letter, it is clear that Hamilton had previously written to Renwick, probably in reply to Renwick’s letter of 8 July, but that he did not know if Renwick had received his first letter. Hamilton’s first letter is missing.
The letter was sent to Renwick, but appears to have been intended for the whole of the Societies.
It mentions the activities of Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun, Hamilton’s brother-in-law, and that William Brakel, a Dutch minister at Leeuwarden, had written to the Societies. Brackel’s letter appears to have been sent to the Societies at around the same time as Hamilton’s letter of 22 August.
Hamilton’s letter is printed in Shields, Faithful Contendings Displayed, 36-41.
Renwick replied to Hamilton’s letter of 22 August on 3 October.
A letter from Earlstoun would later confirm that students were to be sent to the University of Groningen.
The Societies would fulfill Hamilton’s request to select students to be sent to Friesland at the fifth convention at Edinburgh on 11 to 12 October, 1682.