Tag Archives: Annan

Communion Tokens and Family History

The top picture is of a Communion Token issued by the Relief Church in Annan.

There are about 6,000 types of Scottish Communion Tokens known. Their history stretches back to the early days of Protestantism, when many churches held closed communions and  only admitted those they felt were worthy of the sacrament. They are generally simple, with a basic design, cast from lead.

The Relief Church was not, as I assumed, a Church to accommodate people who couldn’t get into a crowded main church, it was a Church formed by people looking for relief from the patronage that was common in the Church of Scotland at the time. I assume that they equated patronage with corruption.

Communion Token – Annan

The second one is another from Annan. It’s very worn but you can just make out the name.

The tokens are mostly from the early 19th century and it is possible that my great-great-grandfather, or possibly another relative may have handled it. I know they were churchgoers because my great-great Grandfather supposedly left Scotland after a falling out with the church. However, having just checked Ancestry, I see that at least one great-great-great- grandfather and two great-great-great- grandmothers all died in Blackburn, so they may all have left together. Family stories are like that.

Why, I hear some of you wonder, leave the beauty of Scotland for the dark satanic mills of Lancashire? Well, I’ve only visited Annan twice and didn’t stop either time. It appears to be very grey,uninviting and drizzly, though that might not be a fair test of its charms. Blackburn, on the other hand, though it is undoubtedly a blot on the landscape, was a boom town at the time, and offered the promise of jobs, even if they did involve unsafe working practices, child labour and lung disease.

Newington Communion Token –  in better condition than the other two

This is the other side of the Annan token

I just realised the tokens have no size reference – they arn’t as big as they look on the screen – about an inch to an inch and a half long.