This major schism in the Church of Scotland came about as a result of the system of Patronage and had been simmering since the passing of the Patronage Act of 1712, whereby landowners gained the right to choose their local Parish Minister. Various Acts of Parliament and a test case in Auchterarder split the Church, with a spectacular walk-out from the General Assembly in Edinburgh on the 18th May, 1843. More than a third of Ministers left the Church of Scotland to establish the Free Church under Rev. Dr. Thomas Chalmers (1780 - 1847). This new church, which was free to appoint its own Ministers, gained much popular support, but had no premises and, at first, no funds. However a levy on members brought money and this permitted a massive programme of church building across Scotland.
It took until 1929 for the major part of the Free Church to reunite with the Established Church.