A Short History of the Wearing of Clerical Collars in the Presbyterian Tradition

There does not seem to have been any classifiable everyday dress for christian pastors up until the sixth century or so. Clergy merely wore what was common, so far muted, humble, and neat, in keeping with their agency. In time, however, the dress of pastors remained rather conservative, as it is habit to do, while the dress of lie people changed more quickly. The result was that the dress of christian pastors became clear-cut from the laity and therefore that clothing began to be invested ( no pun intended ) with mean .
Skipping ahead, due to the increasing acceptance of dwell scholars in the modern universities, the Fourth Lateran council ( 1215 ) mandated a classifiable dress for clergy so that they could be distinguished when about town. This overdress became known as the vestis talaris or the cassock. Lay academics would wear an open front robe with a lirripium or hood. It is interesting to note that both modern day academic and clerical dress stems from the lapp Medieval origin .
Councils of the Roman Catholic church after the clock of the Reformation stipulated that the common everyday overdress for priests should be the cassock. Up until the middle of the twentieth hundred, this was the common street clothes attire for Roman Catholic priests. The beginning of the clerical collar does not stem from the attire of Roman priests. Its genesis is of Protestant origin.

The Origin of Reformed Clerical Dress
In the clock time of the Reformation, many of the Reformed wanted to distance themselves from what was perceived as Roman clerical attire. therefore many of the clergy took up the attire of academics in their daily full-dress or wore no distinctive invest any. Yet over time the desire for the clergy to wear a classifiable uniform returned to the Reformed churches. What they began to do, beginning in the seventeenth century ampere far as I can tell, is to begin to wear a neck scarf, called a cravat, tied around the neck to resemble a yoke. therefore coarse dignified attire was worn by the curate, supplementing it with this clerical cravat. This style can be seen in many of our celebrated Reformed divines, one of the more celebrated of whom being Charles Hodge .
When Reformed pastors would enter the dais, they would add what is known as a “ preaching check ” or “ neck set ” to their clerical dress. This type of dress is about omnipresent among 17th and eighteenth century Reformed pastors. here are a few examples :
In the comply picture we see more distinctly the manipulation of both the clerical cravat and the insert preach check by one Thomas Chalmers .
The lector will note that the men depicted hera were of big eminence as Reformed pastors and theologians. They are all well known for their committedness to Reformed theology and biblical education and practice. These are not obscure men who sported clerical attire .
One might ask whether this sort of attire was universal among the Reformed. The suffice is, no. Upon perusing several portraits included in the presbyterian Encyclopedia of 1880, published by Presbyterian Publishing Co. of Philadelphia, I found that there was diversity of clerical overdress chosen by presbyterian pastors of the nineteenth hundred. Some wore clerical cravats. Some wore what looks like a modern rabat with a collarette ( a black vest which closes at the top with a sting of white collar revealed all round ). Others wore bow ties or neck ties. The conclusion to be drawn is that in the presbyterian custom, there has been diversity of clerical full-dress without any type enforced over the other .
Another objection that might be raised is whether or not this neck band or cravat, such as we see Charles Hodge exhausting, was in any means classifiable clerical attire. several nineteenth hundred sources reveal that these cravats were, in fact, considered distinctive clerical dress. The follow quote is from a nineteenth hundred source called The Domestic Annals of Scotland, bulk 3 :

In the austerity of feeling which reigned through the presbyterian Church on its reestablishment there had been but little disposition to assume a clerical uniform or any peculiar dais vestments. It is reported that when the noble commissioner of one of the beginning General Assemblies was found fault with by the brethren for wearing a scarlet dissemble he told them he thought it as indecent for them to appear in grey cloaks and cravats. When Mr. Calamy visited Scotland in 1709 he was surprised to find the clergy generally preaching in neckcloths and coloured cloaks. We find at the date hera marginally noted that the synod of Dumfries was anxious to see a reform in these respects. The synod – so runs their commemorate – “ considering that it ’ s a thing very decent and desirable so it hath been the commit of ministers in this kirk once to wear black gowns in the dais and for ordinary to make consumption of bands do consequently by their act recommend it to all their brethren within their bounds to keep up that custome and to study gravitie in their dress and every manner of way. ”

here we see several members of the 18th c. Church of Scotland ( Presbyterian ) having their hackles raised over some ostentatious clergymen wearing scarlet cloaks and cravats. late they hold a Synod where they decide that they ought to wear black gowns and to make consumption of neck bands. This paragraph shows us two things : the wear of cravat was considered to be distinctive clerical dress, and the synod of the kirk decided ultimately that modest use of neckbands was permitted. ( There are many more such examples in 19th century sources which can easily be researched on Google Books. I invite the lector to see for himself. ) thus when we see all manner of 17th-19th century Reformed pastors sporting preaching check, neck bands, and cravats, we should interpret them to be intentionally sporting distinctive clerical dress. We should besides gather that the author of these annals, one Robert Chambers, included this anecdote in his exercise in order to promote the modest use of bands and clerical attire in his day .
The last moment of history to cover regards the lineage of the modern clerical apprehension. According to respective sources, including one cited by the Banner of Truth website ( no Romanizing group ), the advanced clerical collar was invented by a presbyterian. In the mid nineteenth hundred heavily starched detachable collars were in capital fashion. This can been seen up through the early separate of the twentieth century if one has watched any period television receiver shows or movies. If we observe the apprehension wear by Charles Hodge we can see that at foremost these collars were not folded down as they are today, but left straight up.

so far in the mid to late nineteenth hundred it became the fashion of the day to turn these collars down. You and I silent wear a turned down collar. The origin of the modern clerical collar is just then to turn or fold the collar down over the clerical cravat, leaving the ashen fabric exposed in the middle. According to the Glasgow Herald of December 6,1894, the folded down detachable clerical collar was invented by the Rev Dr Donald McLeod, a presbyterian minister in the Church of Scotland. According to the book Clerical Dress and Insignia of the Roman Catholic Church, “ the collar was nothing else than the shirt collar turned toss off over the cleric ’ s everyday common dress in submission with a manner that began toward the goal of the sixteenth century. For when the laity began to turn down their collars, the clergy besides took up the modality. ”
so far two questions arise : how did the clerical apprehension then fall out of use among Presbyterians and how did it come to be therefore associated with Roman Catholic priests ? The answer is that up until the mid twentieth century the prescribed dress for all Roman Catholic priests was the cassock, a fully length clerical gown. Yet during the twentieth century it became custom-made for Roman Catholic priests to wear a black suit with a bootleg shirt and clerical collar, which collar they appropriated from Protestant consumption. Owing to the big number of Roman Catholic priests in some areas, and due to the fact that some sort of everyday clerical dress was mandated for all priests at all times when outside their populate quarters, the clerical collar became to be associated more with the Roman Catholic Church than with the Protestant churches. It stands to reason that once again a desire to create distance between the Reformed and Roman Catholics and the increasing desire throughout the twentieth hundred for ministers to dress in more informal ways has led to the fact that scantily any Reformed pastor wears any classifiable clerical dress these days, though batch of examples show that our eminent forbearers desired to do thus .
The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 2nd edition, 2003
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Reformation, 1996
The presbyterian Encyclopedia, Alfred Nevin, 1880
Wikipedia : clerical Collar
Wikipedia : Bands ( neck wear )
Wikipedia : clerical Clothing
Clerical dress and insignia of the Roman Catholic Church, Henry McCloud, 1948
Domestic Annals of Scotland, From the Revolution to the Rebellion of 1745, Robert Chambers, 1861, pp. 147-148.
Google Images
Google Books
Wikimedia Commons
Ken Collins ’ Website – Vestments Glossary
Banner of Truth Website
Pastor Garrett Craw ’ s Blog
Visit our church service ’ s web site : www.christourkingcolumbia.org

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author : Tim LeCroy

Tim LeCroy is a pastor living in Missouri. He is husband of Rachel and father of Ruby and Lucy View all posts by Tim LeCroy

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