Covenanter’s Secret Tunnel Discovered in Lanarkshire

•September 11, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Popular tradition is littered with stories of secret tunnels used by the Covenanters to escape capture in their houses. However, there is precious little evidence for them, except in one case, that of Major Joseph Learmont of Newholm captured in 1682…

Thirty years War Siege

Learmont appears to have been a veteran soldier, given the recognition of his rank of ‘Major’ by all of the sources.

He had been a tailor, who through ability, had forged a successful military career before he commanded the Covenanter’s horse on the left at the battle of Rullion Green during the Pentland Rising of 1666.

Since he was in his late seventies when he was captured in 1682, it is almost certain that he had served in the wars of the 1640s or 1650s, either in Britain, or on the Continent. However, his name does not appear either in Edward Furgol’s exhaustive list of the officers involved in the Scottish regiments during Covenanting Wars of 1639 to 1651, or in the documents relating to Scots Brigade in the United Provinces. Perhaps less surprising, is that his name also does not appear in the list of officers involved in the Scottish Army after the Restoration. The lack of evidence for Learmont’s presence in Scottish forces may indicate that he served elsewhere.

It is possible that Learmont had served in the Thirty Years’ War for a Continental power like Sweden. His apparent knowledge of tunnelling techniques may suggest that he was familiar with military mines used in siege warfare.


He purchased the compact estate of Newholm in Dolphinton parish, Lanarkshire, possibly after 1644. The estate lay by the boundary of Lanarkshire and Peeblesshire, and the sources occasionally confuse where the estate was as it lay in both jurisdictions. He was fined £1,200 under the title ‘of Newholm’ in 1662 for having complied with Cromwell’s occupation, which may indicate that he had served, like some other Scots, in the Cromwellian army in the late 1650s. (RPS, 1644/6/317.; History of Peeblesshire, 191; The Upper Ward of Lanarkshire Described and Delineated, I, 369-70.)

Map of Newholm            Aerial View of Newholm

Learmont was forfeited for his part in the Presbyterian Pentland Rising in August, 1667, and his sentence confirmed by Parliament in 1669. However, thanks to the efforts of his “brother-in-law”, William Hamilton of Wishaw, his family managed to regain his former estate from 1673, even though Learmont remained forfeited.

‘By an attested account under his son’s hand, I find that major Joseph Learmond was under a continued tract of hardships since his forfeiture after Pentland, and was sometimes obliged to go to Ireland, and other times was under hiding at his own house, which was frequently rifled and spoiled. This year he was taken prisoner.’ (Wodrow, History, III, 410.)

In 1679, he was a senior officer in the Covenanters’ army at Bothwell Bridge and is said to have led efforts to defend the bridge. (McCrie (ed.), Memoirs of Veitch and Brysson, 480n; History of Peeblesshire, 195, 195n.)

After the battle, Learmont was identified as a ringleader of the Bothwell rebels. He appears to have returned to hiding with his family at Newholm. The surrounding area of Lanarkshire did see several field preachings in the following years, one of which, by Donald Cargill, took place very close to Newholm on 10 July, 1681. It is not known if Learmont attended Cargill’s preaching, as his later statements suggest that he may not have agreed with the Society people.

The Secret Tunnel
He was captured by Lieutenant Adam Urquhart of Meldrum of the King’s Regiment of Horse in March, 1682.

The timing of his capture is significant, as it came immediately after the killing on 3 March of a Trooper Francis Gordon, who belonged to the same troop of Horse as Lieutenant Urquhart. Gordon was shot near Mossplat in Carstairs parish. Urquhart and his troop were based at Lanark. It appears that Learmont was captured in the searches conducted as a result of the trooper’s death.

Secret passages and tunnels are a standard feature of popular culture in Scotland, although there is little or no evidence of them. Even the tunnel at Loudoun Castle, found in 1942, may well be a drain or water conduit. However, in the case of Learmont, writers of the 1680s did mention his use of a purpose-built tunnel specifically designed for his escape.

According to Lord Fountainhall:

‘On the 10 of March 1682, was Major Joseph Lermont apprehended at his oune house, neir Peibles, by [Lieutenant Adam Urquhart] the Laird of Meldrum; he had been a commander of the rebells both at Pentland Hills and Bothuel bridge. Many attempts had been made to take him formerly, but he had frustrated them all by a secret subterranean cove he had digged under his house, which, like a mine, did lead him under the ground of his yairds, and thence away to a mosse, out at which passage he formerly escaped, but was discovered this tyme.’ (Lauder, Historical Observes, 63.)

A second source, recorded the tunnel in greater detail:

‘March 1682, Major Learmont, an old soldier, and now about 77 years, and a taylor to his trade, who was at Pentland Hills in the insurrection, 1666, and at Bothwell-Bridge insurrection, 1679, was taken in his own house within three miles of Lanerk, in a vault which he diged under ground, and penned for his hiding; it had its entry in his own house, upon the syde of a wall, and closed up with a whole stone, so closs as that non would have judged it but to have been a stone of the building; it descended below the foundation of the house, and was in length about 40 yards, and in the far end, the other mouth of it, was closed with faill, having a faill dyke [i.e., a wall of turf] builded upon it, so that with ease when he went out he shutt out the faill, and closed it again. Here he sheltered for the space of 16 years, by taking himself to it at every alarum, and many times hath his house been searched for him by the soldiers; but where he sheltered non was privy to it but his own domesticks, and at length he is discovered by his own herdsman.’ (Law, Memorialls, 216-17.)

A local tradition recorded in the New Statistical Account claimed that the Learmont was betrayed by a maid servant:

‘Tradition says that the man-servant was three times led out blindfolded to he shot, because he would not betray the secret. Learmont having again taken the field at Bothwell Bridge, exposed himself anew to the fury of the persecutors. By the treachery of a maid-servant, he was at last apprehended’. (NSA, VI, 57.)

The entry on Dolphinton parish in the New Statistical Account, which was written by the local minister in 1840, described the tunnel as running to an ‘abrupt bank’ of the South Medwin:

‘For sixteen years every endeavour was made to secure the major’s person,—but he had a vault dug under ground, which long proved the means of safety to him. It entered from a small dark cellar which was used as a pantry, at the foot of the inside stair of the old mansion-house, descended below the foundation of the building, and issued at an abrupt bank of the [South] Medwin, forty yards distant from the house, where a feal dike screened it from view. When the noise of the cavalry reached the major’s attentive ear, the blade of the tongs was applied to a small aperture fitted for the purpose of raising a flat stone, which neatly covered the entrance to the vault; and before a door was opened, the Covenanter was safe.’ (NSA, VI, 57n.)

The minister’s description of the tunnel appears to be based on Law. It is clear that the minister had no physical evidence for the tunnel in 1840:

‘As these accounts, handed down for a century and a-half, had become confused, this detail was submitted to an intelligent lady, who was born at Newholm upwards of ninety years ago [i.e., in the 1740s]. She states, that the stones of the vault were, at an early period, taken to build the garden wall; therefore no trace of the retreat was found when Newholm house was last rebuilt.’ (NSA, VI, 57n.)

Is the Tunnel Still There?
Although the New Statistical Account claimed that the tunnel had been removed, it appears that some elements of the tunnel might remain in situ.

The wider landscape around the house appears to been the subject of agricultural improvements at some point in the eighteenth century, which included altering the course of the South Medwin, but it is not clear how significant the changes to its course were near the house.

Learmont’s seventeenth house was either incorporated into, or replaced with a new house, probably in the eighteenth century. That house was, in turn, replaced by a further house. However, it is not clear from comparing Roy’s map of the 1750s with the first OS Map a century later, if Learmont’s house and the later houses shared the same site.

There are also reports that elements of the tunnel were discovered: “In the late 1960s a secret passage or hideaway was discovered at Newholm, believed to have been used by Learmont when hiding from the dragoons.” If anyone has any information about the discovery of the tunnel in the 1960s, it would be fascinating to hear.

The Trials of Joseph Learmont
On 13 March, three days after his capture, Learmont was brought before the council:

‘The Lords of his Majesties Privy Councill, considering that Joseph Leirmont is by sentence of the Justice Court, pronounced upon the fifteen of August, 1667, found guilty of high treason for being in the rebellion in the year 1666, which sentence is ratified in Parliament upon the fifteen of December, 1669, and the said Joseph Leirmont being brought to the Councill barr did judicially confess his being in the said rebellion, as also the last rebellion at Bothwell Bridge, doe therefore give order to the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary to meet and appoint a day for execution of the said sentence’. (RPCS, VII, 361.)

On 30 March, 1682, ‘The Lords of his Majesties Privy Councill, considering that Majour Leirmont, [Robert] McClellan of Barscobe, [Robert] Fleeming of Auchinfin, ———– Haddock of Easterseat [in Carluke parish] and [Hugh] McIlwraith [in Auchenflower] are brought in prisoners as being in the rebellion, against whom there are standing sentences, doe hereby give order and warrand to the Lords Commissioners of Justiciary to call the saids persons before them and to give order for execution of the saids sentences against the forsaid persons according to law’. (RPCS, VII, 373.)

Three of the four men mentioned with him were also forfeited lairds: Robert McClellan of Barscobe in Balmaclellan parish, Kirkcudbrightshire, Robert Fleming of Auchenfin in Kilbride parish, Lanarkshire and Hugh MacIlwraith of Auchenflower in Ballantrae parish, Carrick. The fourth, Haddow of Easterseat, was almost certainly brought in by Urquhart for suspected harbouring of some of those who killed Trooper Gordon.

‘When ever any of the forfeited persons were catched in their wanderings, the old sentence in absence took effect on them, and the lords of the justiciary named a day for their execution. Thus April 7th I find four gentlemen before the justiciary, and a day named for their execution; and it seems, in these cases, a warrant was necessary from the council, who at this time assumed the powers of parliament, justiciary, and every thing which made for the carrying on of the persecution. Thcir sentence runs.

“By virtue of a warrant from the lords of council, the lords commissioners of justiciary, having considered the dooms of forfeiture already passed on Robert Fleming of Auchinfin, Hugh Macklewraith of Auchinfloor, major Joseph Lcarmond, and Robert M’Clellan of Barscob, for crimes of treason and rebellion; and having examined them they acknowledged they were the same persons forfeited in absence, and against whom the sentence is pronounced, by which they are ordered to be executed to death, and demeaned as traitors when apprehended: ordain Robert Fleming, and Hugh Macklewraith to be hanged at the Grass-market, Wednesday next the 12th [of April] instant, and major Learmond and Barscob to be hanged on the 28th [of April] instant, and the heads of major Learmond and Robert Fleming to be affixed upon the Nether-bow Port, and that the magistrates of Edinburgh see to the execution.”’ (Wodrow, History, III, 410.)

The sentences of execution were not carried out. Robert Gray, a fellow prisoner who was executed on 19 May, takes up the story in his letter to John Anderson, a prisoner in Dumfries:

‘P.S.—Barscob and Major Learmont got their sentence on Friday last [i.e, 7 April], to die on the 28th, and Hugh Mucklewraith and Robert Fleming had their sentence that day too, and should have died this last Wednesday [i.e., 12 April]. But they got a remission to the 28th; and it is reported that Barscob and the rest have offered to take the Test, and they have sent up to the tyrant upon that account to save their lives. As for John M’Clurg [, smith in Minnigaff,] and Robert N., there is no word yet what is to be done with them. I shall give you an account afterwards. My soul is grieved to see the treachery that is used in the matters of God among the prisoners, and their seeking sinful shifts to shun the cross of Christ. Oh! dear friend, seek to be kept steadfast in the day of trial.’ (Thomson (ed.), CW, 228-9.)

According to Lord Fountainhall, Learmont:

‘ouned before the Privy Counsell all his actings, but seimed to disclaime the wild ungoverneable Cameronian principles. A little after this, another of the ringleaders of that party, on[e] [] Macclellan of Barscobe, was also seized and sent in prisoner to Edenbrugh. Being both sentenced in the criminall court to be hanged, they ware repreived; as also on [Robert] Fleeming [of Auchenfin], who was condemned for the same.’ (Lauder, Historical Observes, 63.)

Law claimed that Learmont was ‘carried before the council, and examined; confesses he was at Pentland Hills, and at Bothwell-Bridge fight, but came only there [to Bothwell] to advise the people to accept of the Duke of Monmouth’s offers he made them in the king’s name.’ (Law, Memorialls, 216-17.)

Learmont had in fact appeared among the Covenanter army with a body of Tweeddale men on 15 June, which was several days before discussions began in the council of war over whether to agree to Monmouth’s terms.

On 20 April, 1682, the council granted Learmont and the others a reprieve:

‘The Lords having considered the petitions of Robert McClellan of Barscobe, Robert Fleeming, sometime of Auchinfin, Major [Joseph] Lermonth, [Hugh] McIlvraith, sometime in Auchinflour, prisoners in the tolbooth of Edinburgh and under sentence of death for treason, they reprieve and continue in prison until 19 May next,’ (RPCS, VII, 394.)

According to Wodrow:

‘None of these four were executed, as far as I hear. Interest was made for them, and some of them got remissions, and Barscob made compliances, and was of some use to the managers afterwards. … April 20th I find a petition presented to the council, by Robert M’Clellan of Barscob, Robert Fleming some time of Auchinfin, Hugh Macklewraith sometime of Auchinfloor, and major Learmond, prisoners in the tolbootli of Edinburgh, and under sentence for treason and rebellion, for a reprieve. And the council reprieve and continue the execution of the sentence till May 19th.’ (Wodrow, History, III, 410.)

Unlike the three other prisoners before the council, Learmont failed to take the Test oath. It would also appear that the council suspected that Learmont was more deeply involved in the rebellion than he had confessed, as they did not return him to an ordinary prison.

Bass RockThe Bass Rock

On 13 May, 1682, the council sent word to General Thomas Dalyell to transport Learmont from Edinburgh Tolbooth to the Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth ‘to keep him in sure firmance till further order’. At the same sitting, the council also read the petitions of Barscobe and Fleming of Auchenfin and granted them a remission. Learmont remained on the Bass until his release in 1687. (RPCS, VII, 427.)

According to Wodrow:

‘May 13th major Learmond is sent to the Bass, and reprieved till further orders. Barscob and Auchinfloor appear at the council-bar. The duke of York declares his majesty hath pardoned them. … By interest made for him [i.e., Learmont], at this time near eighty years of age, his sentence of death was turned to a perpetual imprisonment in the Bass, though, if he would have taken the test, he might have prevented this. There he was close prisoner five years, till falling indisposed, upon the declaration of physicians that he was in a dying condition, he was let out on bail. Next year the happy revolution came about, and he returned to his own house of Newholm, where in a little time he died in peace, in the eighty eighth year of his age.’ (Wodrow, History, III, 410.)

Learmont was ordered to be set at liberty from the Bass on 9 December, 1686, after giving bond under the penalty of 5,000 merks to re-enter prison on 9 March, 1687. The bond by John Hamilton W. S. for him was received on 18 December. Learmont was almost certainly immediately released. (RPCS, XIII, 65.)

After the Revolution, Learmont was an elder in Dolphinton parish. He died, aged eighty-eight, in 1693 and is almost certainly buried at Blacklaw Church, formerly Dolphinton parish church: According to the New Statistical Account, ‘near the door of our church, under a rustic flat stone, without even the initials of his name, the mortal remains of the pious soldier now sleep’. A modern plaque was erected at the church by the Scottish Covenanter Memorial Association in 2007.

Map of Dolphinton/Blacklaw Churchyard    Street View of Dolphinton/Blacklaw Churchyard

His estate passed to his son, ‘John Learmonth of Newholm’, who was a commissioner of supply in 1704. (RPS, 1704/7/69.)

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

Edinburgh’s Hangman Executed, January, 1682

•September 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Hangings Alison and Harvie

Lord Fountainhall recorded the end of Edinburgh’s hangman in January, 1682:

13 January, 1682. ‘Alexander Cockburne (Cowban), hangman of Edinburgh, killed on[e] John Adamson, alias M’Keinzie, a blew-goun beggar, in the hangmans oune houfe, and under night laid him at his door. The magistrates of Edinburgh judged him within three suns as Shirefs within themselfes. The probation resulted upon strong presumptions against him of his guilt, as his denying that the beggar was in his house that day, the contrare wheirof was proven; the finding bloody cloaths in his houfe; the hearing groans from that place, &c. The Assise found him guilty, and he was hanged up in chains [at the Gallowlee] between Leith and Edinburgh; but never confessed the fact. He was peffimæ famæ, and had perpretrat it for greed of the poor beggar’s money. On Mackeinzie (whom Cowburne had undermined at Stirling, and got him thrust out of his place of hangman at Stirling), officiated bourreau [as executioner] upon him. It was reported, that the hangman of London having murdered his wife, was execute to death for it about the same very tyme with our’s.’ (Lauder, Historical Observes, 58-9.)

In his law manuscript, Fountainhall also noted the fate of Cockburn’s wife, Bessie Gall:

‘The Provest and Bailzies of Edinburgh, as Shireffs within themselves (having called me as ther Assessor, to sit with them, and assist them), doe judge Alexr Cowburne, ther hangman, or lockman, within 3 suns (the Earle of Errol as Constable, nor his deputs entring no protestation, on the pretence of its being a current Parliament), for murdering in his oune house one of the licenced blew-goun beggars, called John Adamson, alias Mackeinzie. The probation was slender, and most of it by weemen; (which is not so usuall, unlesse it be in some excepted priviledged crimes, and that they be domestick servants: …;) and was only presumptions against him. Yet the Assise found him guilty, and referred his wife, Bessie Gall, to the Judges. The Bailzies caused hang him in chains, betuen Leith and Edinburgh, on the 20 of Januar; for it leimes they are not bound to execute, but only to pronunce sentence within 3 suns after the delict; his wife they banished.’ (Lauder, Historical Notices, I, 346.)

Cockburn had been responsible for the executions of several Covenanters in Edinburgh. His duties, however, went well beyond hanging the condemned. He had mounted Richard Cameron’s head on a halberd in July, 1680.

He was also responsible for torturing prisoners suspected of treasonable plots in the boots: ‘Then the hangman put his foot in the instrument called the boot, and, at every query put to him, gave five strokes or thereby upon the wedges.’

At the execution of Donald Cargill and four others in July, 1681, Cockburn had ‘hash’d and hagg’d off all their Heads [upon the Scaffold] with an Ax.’.

And in October, 1681, he had officiated at the Gallowlee where he was alter executed at the execution of five Covenanters. According to Patrick Walker:

‘The never to be forgotten Mr. James Renwick told me, that he was Witness to this publick Murder at the Gallolee, betwixt Leith and Edinburgh, where he saw the Hangman hash and hag off all their Five Heads, with Patrick Foreman’s Right-hand: Their Bodies were all buried at the Gallows Foot; their Heads, with Patrick’s Hand, were brought and put upon five Pikes on the Pleasance-port. Some honest old Men told me of late, that they were Witness to the same, and saw the Hangman drive down their Heads to the Foot of the Pike, and thereby broke their Sculls.’

The Gallowlee lay beside Shrub Place Lane, just off Leith Walk and on the boundary between Edinburgh and Leith.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

Fox in the Snow (and Other Strange Portents), February, 1682

•September 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Nor Loch Edinburgh 1690

Lord Fountainhall records tales of terror in Edinburgh in 1682…

‘In Februar[y] 1682, a servant woman in Edinburgh, about ii at night, throwing over a tub of foull water from a window 4 stories hy, followed the fame, and fell over the window into the street, and broke her skull, and expired some few howers after with lamentable sobs. O Lord! grant we may be ready whensoever thou shalt call, tho’ at midnight.

The 11 of Februar[y] 1682. Sundry peeple being on the North Loch of Edinburgh, the ice broke, and they fell in, 3 wheirof ware drouned; on[e] a wryter, Mr. David Fergusson, the other 2 ware fleschers; ther bodies ware not found till the nixt day. We have a proverb, that ‘The fox will not set his foot on the ice after Candlemaffe,’ especially in the heat of the sun, as this was, at 2 a cloak; and at any tyme the fox is so sagacious as to lay his ear to the ice, to see if it be frozen to the bottom, or if he hear the murmuring and current of the water.— See [David] [L]Loyd’s Fair Warnings to a Careles[s] World, page 146, wher ther is a pretty story of the Persians terror in flying over the river Strymon when frozen, tho they ware before hectoring, and rufling against a Deity.

This same 11 of Februar[y], ther was, about ii at night, a great ecclipse of the moon, it being near the plenilunium: about 19 digits (points) of it was obscured, and the night being otherways clear, I saw it verie distinctly.’ (Lauder, Historical Observes, 59-60.)

For other ‘wonders’ observed in Scotland see here.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

The Hidden: Fugitive and Rebel Covenanters in Minnigaff in 1684

•September 1, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Minnigaff Parish

Minnigaff parish in Kirkcudbrightshire, Galloway, bears a distinctive footprint of Presbyterian dissent.

Five landowners in the parish were forfeited for their part in the Bothwell Rising of 1679: Patrick Dunbar, younger of Machermore, Patrick Herron of Little Park, Patrick Murdoch of Cumloden, Anthony McKie of Glencaird, who hid at the White Cairn in the parish, and John Mackie of Larg (after his death).

In 1680, Minnigaff parish was one of the parishes interrogated for information about the whereabout of the traitors behind the Sanquhar Declaration.

In January, 1685, it was the scene of the killings at Caldons. The Edward McKean summarily executed in Carrick in 1685 was probably from the parish.

Alexander Peden preached there in 1685 and the Earl of Hume’s militia were present at Minnigaff in the middle of that year.

Tradition indicates that James Renwick may have preached at the Preaching Howe in the parish and that the Society people may have killed an intelligencer from the parish.

The summons to the circuit court held in Kirkcudbright in October, 1684, mentions two men who were accused of either being at Bothwell, or hearing preachers connected to the rising.

Alexander Heuchan in Bardrochwood.
‘Alexander Heuchan in Bardrokott for being in the rebellion at Bothuell in July seventie nyne;’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

He appears on the parish list of October, 1684, as ‘Alexr Heuchan, there’ possibly under Strathmaddie to the south of Bardrochwood.

Map of Bardrochwood                    Street View of Bardrochwood

Anthony Dunbar in Craignell.
‘Anthon[y] Dunbar in Craignell for hearing Mr Samuel Arnot and Mr Patrick [or Thomas] Vernor [preach] since Bothuell [in 1679];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

He appears on the parish list as ‘Antony Dunbar in Craignew’.

Craignell was a remote location in the parish. It now lies beside Clatteringshaws Loch, a reservoir created in the 1930s.

Map of Craignell                 Street View of Craignell

The summons to the Kirkcudbright court also offers a fleeting glimpse into the networks of kin, friends and neighbours who hid or assisted fugitives either from the parish, or who lived nearby. The following is listed by the fugitive first, in bold, and then those who were accused of converse with them:

1. & 2. James Gordon, younger of Craiglaw, and James Martinson in Glenhapple.
James Gordon was a forfeited fugitive from Kirkcowan parish and James Martinson a fugitive rebel from Penninghame parish. Both parishes lie in Wigtownshire and directly to the west of Minnigaff.

‘Mr James Algeo, wrytter in Moneygalf, for converseing with James Gordone, younger, of Craiglaw, and James Mertinsone in Glenkapell, rebells, about two yeirs since or therby [i.e., in 1682];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

Algeo appears on the parish list of late 1684 under the Barony of Larg and town of Minnigaff.

Map of Minnigaff

3. William Stewart, son to the Wadsetter of Larg, Minnigaff parish.
He appears on the published fugitive roll of May, 1684, as ‘William Stuart, son to —— Stuart wadsetter of Larg’ under Wigtownshire. The fugitives in Minnigaff parish were listed under Wigtownshire, rather than Kirkcudbrightshire, on the published roll. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 219.)

‘John Macqhannell in Gleckmallock for converseing with William Stewart, rebell, about two yeirs since [i.e., in late 1682];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

He appears on the parish list of late 1684 in Gleckmalloch in the Barony of Gerlis.

Map of Gleckmalloch              Aerial View of Gleckmalloch

‘Patrick McKie in Gleckmallock for converseing with William Stewart, rebell, about two yeirs since [i.e., in late 1682];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

McKie also appears on the parish list in the same household as the above.


‘William Cunninghame in Clauchrie for converseing with William Stewart, rebell, in July, 1681, and with William Kennedie [No.4, below] in January or February last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

Cunningham appears on the parish list as ‘William Cunningham in Clauchre’.

Clauchrie lay to the west of Torbain and close to the home of Patrick Murdoch of Cumloden.

Aerial View of Clauchrie

The William Kennedy that Cunningham was accused of converse with was another fugitive from Wigtownshire.

4. William Kennedy in Barnkirk, Penninghame parish.
He appears on the Fugitive Roll of mid 1684 as ‘William Kennedy, in Barnkirk’. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 214.)

Barnkirk lies in Penninghame parish, which is located on the western boundary of Minnigaff parish. In the late 1670s, John Welsh, the former minister of Irongray, field preached at Barnkirk.

Map of Barnkirk

‘Mr William McGill, wrytter in Moneygalf, for converseing with William Kennidie, sometyme in Barnkirk, rebell, about the moneth of June last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

He appears on the parish list as ‘William McGill’ under the Barony of Larg and town of Minnigaff.

‘John Roxbrugh in Moneygalf for converseing with William Kennedie, rebell, in January last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

He appears on the parish list of late 1684 with Robert Roxburgh at the top of the list for the Barony of Larg and town of Minnigaff.

‘James Kennedie in Moneygalf for converseing with William Kennedie, rebell, about the moneth of July last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

‘Andrew Herron in Larg, for converseing with William Kennedie, rebell, in May last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

He appears on the parish list under the Barony of Larg and town of Minnigaff.

5. Anthony Stewart, son to the Wadsetter of Larg, Minnigaff parish.
He appears on the published fugitive roll of May, 1684, as ‘Anthony Stuart, his son [of ------ Stuart wadsetter of Larg]’ under Wigtownshire. Anthony was the brother of William Stewart (No.3) and probably the brother of Archibald Stewart (No.6). (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 219.)

‘Robert Walker, violer in Moneygalf, for converseing with Anthon[y] Stewart, rebell, about tuo yeirs since [i.e., late 1682], and with William Kennedie [No.4, above], rebell, about January or February last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

Walker appears on the parish list under the Barony of Larg and town of Minnigaff.

‘Anthon[y] McMillane in Kirrochtrie for converseing with Anthon[y] Stewart, rebell, in January or February last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

McMillan appears on the parish list under the Barony of Gerlis.

Kirrochtrie is Kirroughtree. A later house built in 1719, which is now a hotel, stands on the site.

Map of Kirroughtree

DalnawNear Dalnaw © Iain Thompson and licensed for reuse.

‘Alexander Maktaggart in Dalnae for converseing with Anthon[y] Stewart, rebell, in September, 1683;’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

MacTaggart appears on the parish list under the Barony of Gerlis.

Dalnae is Dalnaw.

Map of Dalnaw                  Aerial View of Dalnaw

‘Archibald McHarg in Minnivick for converseing with Archibald Stewart, rebell, in January last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

McHarg appears on the parish list in ‘Miniwiek’, i.e., Minniwick.

Minniwick lies to the south east of Glentrool Village.

Map of Minniwick                Aerial View of High Minniwick

Minniwick lies near Glenvernoch, the home of one of the Wigtown Martyrs.

The next entry is fascinating, as Caldons/Caldons Wood was were several killings took place a few months after the summons.

‘John McQhirter in Caldone for converseing with Anthon[y] Stewart, rebell, in March or Apprill last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

McWhirter appears on the parish list under ‘Caldeens’ in the household of Archibald McWhirter and Janet Gordon.

Map of Caldons                Aerial View of Caldons

‘Alexander Thomson in Wood of Crie and Alexander Gibson and William Ker his servants, for converseing with Anthon[y] Stewart, rebell, in March or Apprill last [1684];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

All three of the people mentioned appear on the parish list. Thomson is recorded as ‘Alexr Thomson in Cardorcan’.

Map of Wood of Cree                 Aerial View of Wood of Cree

‘Andrew McMillane in Glenmalloch for converseing with Anthon[y] Stewart, rebell, in March or Apprill, 1682;’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

McMillan appears on the parish list.

Glenmalloch stands beside the Preaching Howe in Minnigaff parish.

Map of Glenmalloch              Aerial View of Glenmalloch


‘John Stewart in Tarchreggan, John McTaggart and Robert Stewart for converseing with Anthon[y] and Archibald Stewarts, rebells, in July, 1683;’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

They appear on the parish list of late 1684 as ‘John Steuart in Tarregan’ as do ‘Rott Steuart’ and ‘John McTaggart’.

Today, Terregan is an unmarked ruin near the Washing Burn

Map of Terregan

6. Archibald Stewart, son to the Wadsetter of Larg, Minnigaff parish.
The Archibald Stewart that was conversed with at Terregan, see above, was almost certainly the brother of Anthony (No.5) and William Stewart (No.3). He is probably recorded on the Fugitive Roll of May, 1684, as ‘——- Stuart, his son’, i.e., the son of ‘——– Stuart wadsetter of Larg’. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 219.)

He, too, was mentioned in the summons as a fugitive who had conversed with others:

‘James McGie, cottar in Palgavin, and Michael Maktagart in Buricastle for converseing with Archibald Stewart, rebell, about tuo yeirs [ago, i.e., 1682];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

They appear on the parish list as ‘John McKie in Palgouen’ and ‘Michael McTagart in Kirkcastle’ in the Barony of Buchan.

Palgowan lies beside Gleckmalloch, see above.

Map of Palgowan                Aerial View of Palgowan

‘Alexander Watsone in Moneygalf for converseing with Archibald Stewart, rebell, about two yeirs since [i.e., c. late 1682];’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

Watson appears on the parish list under the Barony of Larg and town of Minnigaff.

‘Alexander Roxbrugh in Moneygalf for converseing with Archibald Stewart, rebell, in July, 1683;’ (RPCS, IX, 375.)

Roxburgh appears on the parish list at the top of the list for the Barony of Larg and town of Minnigaff.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

A Great Article on the Sweet Singers

•August 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Wolf Craigs WebbWolf Craigs where some of the Sweet Singers were captured © Richard Webb and licensed for reuse.

I discovered this recent article on ‘Walter Ker and the “Sweet Singers”’ by Douglas W. B. Somerset. I heartily recommend this excellent article to everyone with an interest in the Sweet Singers, the Society people and the early history of the American colonies. It is especially strong and fascinating on what happened to the Sweet Singers after banishment.

For more on the Sweet Singers, see here.

The Hidden: Five Fugitive Covenanters in Crossmichael parish

•August 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

The summons to the circuit court held in Kirkcudbright in October, 1684, offers a fleeting glimpse into the networks of kin, friends and neighbours who hid the Society people.

Ernfillan GlenErnfillan Glen from the north © James Bell and licensed for reuse.

1. John Graham in Chapelerne, Crossmichael parish
He appears on the published fugitive roll of 1684 as ‘John Graham, in Chapelearn, reset and harbour’. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 217.)

On the complete parish list, probably of October, 1684, ‘John Graham, ab[sent], and his wife and daughter’ are listed with others under ‘Chapelearne’. (RPCS, IX, 582.)

‘Chapelearn’ is Chapelerne.

Map of Chapelerne                 Aerial View of Chapelerne

2. Thomas Graham in Ernfillan, Crossmichael parish
Thomas Graham appears on the published Fugitive Roll as ‘Thomas Grahame, in Ernefillan, reset and harbour’. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 215.)

A ‘Robert Grahame, in Ernfillan’ was also listed on the roll for ‘reset and harbour’. Ernfillan probably lay in the Ernfillan Glen to the east of Ernfillan Hill.

Both Thomas and Robert Graham and their wives are listed, along with a ‘John Grier, and his wife, ab[sent]’ at the farm of ‘Ironamry Murray’ in the complete parish list of 1684. See Ernambrie, below. Thomas and Robert Graham were probably brothers. (RPCS, IX, 583.)

A ‘Mareon Wilson in Ironphillan,’ and ‘Rosie Bel and her daughters in Ironphillan’ were listed as disorderly in the Crossmichael parish list of October, 1684. It is possible that these women were the wives of those listed on the Fugitive Roll, or the unnamed wives and sisters of the other residents of Ernfillan listed on the complete parish list of 1684. It is also possible that one of them was the mother of Thomas and Robert Graham. (RPCS, IX, 574.)

Map of Ernfillan Glen                  Street View of Ernfillan Glen

According to the summons to the court in Kirkcudbright:

‘John Grahame in Chapellyarn for conversing with John and Thomas Grahams befor they ware relaxed;’ (RPCS, IX, 374.)

The two Grahams who had formerly been fugitives had also appeared in the neighbouring parish of Balmaghie:

‘John Donaldson, miller in Ba[l]magie, for converseing with John and Thomas Grahames befor they war relaxed;’ (RPCS, IX, 374.)

Crofts of CrossmichaelCrofts

Ernfillan lay next to Crofts, a farm connected to two brothers, William and James Graham. William Graham was shot, probably in 1682 or 1684. James Graham was executed in Edinburgh in December, 1684. A ‘Margaret Mackharge in the Crofts’ appears on the parish list of October, 1684, as ‘altogether disorderlie’ (RPCS, IX, 574.)

The following people were listed at Crofts in the complete parish list of 1684: ‘Robert Gordon and his wife and daughter, William MackComb, William Herning and his wife, ex.; John Hannah, Girsel Gordon, Janet Gordon, Marion Horrel, widow, ab[sent].’ (RPCS, X, 583.)

Map of Crofts                  Street View of Crofts

3. William Russell in Ernambrie
He appears on the published Fugitive Roll as ‘William Raffil, in Iron-ambrie, reset and harbour’. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 216.)

‘Iron-ambrie/‘Arnambrie’, is now called Ernambrie and lies in Crossmichael parish. There are two farms named Ernambrie, Meikle and Nether Ernambrie, which both lie near Ernfillan and Crofts. They appear to have also been known under the names of ‘Ironamry Wilsone’ and ‘Ironamry Murray’

His mother may have lived at ‘Ironminnay’, now Ernmenzie, as ‘William Raphal his mother, ab[sent]’, was listed on the complete parish list of 1684. (RPCS, IX, 583.)

Map of Ernambrie                  Aerial View of Meikle Ernambrie

Street View of Nether Ernambrie

According to the summons:

‘William Hayning in Arnambrie Wilsone, Gilbert Muir in Arminnie, John Makeachter ther, John Anderson in Ironespie, James Cairns ther, Andrew Gerran ther, and ——- Kevan, mother to umquhill William Russall, for constant converseing with William Russell, fugitive;’ (RPCS, IX, 374.)

William Haining appears under ‘William Heug and his wife, ab[sent]’ under ‘Ironamry Wilson’ in the complete parish list of 1684. (RPCS, IX, 583.)

ErnmenzieErnmenzie © Colin Kinnear and licensed for reuse.

‘Gilbert Muir and his wife’ appear under ‘Ironminnay’ in the complete parish list of 1684 with Russell’s mother. (RPCS, IX, 583.)

‘Ironminnay’/‘Arminnie’ is now called Ernmenzie.

Map of Ernmenzie             Street View of Ernmenzie

John Anderson, Andrew Gerron and their wives, and James Cairns and his wife and daughter, all appear under Ernespie on the complete parish list of 1684. (RPCS, IX, 583.)

‘Ironespie’ is now called Ernespie.

Map of Ernespie               Aerial View of Ernspie

A ‘Margaret Hillow in Hilletoun, daughter to Robert Hillow’ was listed as disorderly in the parish list of October, 1684. (RPCS, IX, 574.)

Hillowton lies beside Ernespie

Map of Hillowton

Crossmichael MillCrossmichael Mill

4. Andrew Crock in Erncrogo
Appears on the Fugitive Roll as ‘Andrew Crock, in Iron-crogo, reset and harbour’. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 216.)

Map of Erncrogo               Street View of Erncrogo

According to the summons:

‘Isobell Grierson att Corsmichaell milne and Nathaniell Gordon in Airds for conversing with Andrew Crock, fugitive;’ (RPCS, IX, 374.)

According to the parish list of October, 1684, ‘Nicholas MacKnight, lady of Cross Michaelmil, and Janet Muirhead, her servant’ and ‘Maron Mackernah at the Mil’ were disorderly persons within the parish. A ‘Grisel Mackernah and her daughter, fugitives’, were also listed. (RPCS, IX, 574.)

The complete parish list of 1684 records ‘Nicholas Macknight, Lady Crossmichael Mill, an aged woman; Janet Muirhead, her servant, ab[sent]’ under Erncrogo, rather than the Mill. It also records that ‘Issobel Greir; ex’ at Erncrogo. (RPCS, IX, 583.)

Crossmichael Mill lies near Erncrogo.

Map of Crossmichael Mill              Street View of Crossmichael Mill

Nathaniel Gordon was presumably one of the two sons of the ‘William Gordon of Airds and his wife’ recorded under Airds on the complete parish list of 1684. (RPCS, IX, 582.)

Airds lies to the west of Erncrogo.

Map of Airds                 Aerial View of Airds

A ‘James Wilson in the Roan’, i.e., Rhone, beside Airds, was listed as disorderly in the parish list of October, 1684. (RPCS, IX, 574.)

Map of Rhone

5. James Garmorie either in Ernanity, or Crossmichael parish.
There are two fugitives named James Garmorie, or Garmarie, listed on the Fugitive Roll of 1684. They are ‘James Garmorie, in the parish of Corsmichaell’ and ‘James Garmarie, in Armanady’, which is probably Ernanity.

The complete parish list of 1684 lists ‘Issobel Germurie, spous to James Germuire, ab[sent]’ under ‘Ironannatie’. (RPCS, IX, 583.)

Ernanity has vanished. However. According to Thomson’s map of the early nineteenth century, Ernanity lay at the road junction below Chapelerne.

Map of Ernanity             Street View towards Ernanity

According to the summons:

‘Robert Garmorie in Meikle Drayburgh for converseing with James Garmorie at the circuit 1683, and hes not hitherto accepted of his Majesties indempnitie;’ (RPCS, IX, 377.)

Robert and his wife are listed on the complete parish list under ‘Muckel Dryburgh’ (RPCS, IX, 582.)

Meikle Drayburgh is Dryburgh in Crossmichael parish. On Roy’s map, Dryburgh lay between Mollance and Dunjarg, rather than where the modern farm lies. It also lay close to Ernanity.

Map of Approximate location of Dryburgh      Aerial View of Approx location of Dryburgh

James Garmorie in Ernanity was also sheltered by his landlord.

‘James Turner of Kirkland for traiterouse resett and converse with James Garmorey in Ironanity, a declaired traitor, and uplifting land rent from him since the circuit court att Drumfries holden in anno eightie thrie;’ (RPCS, IX, 378.)

The complete parish list of 1684 notes under Blackerne that ‘Heares James Turner lifts rent of Ironanatie’. (RPCS, IX, 582.)

Kirkland lay in Crossmichael parish, probably somewhere between the church and Crofts.

Map of Kirkland?

Three people in Kirkland were listed as disorderly on the Crossmichael parish list of October, 1684.They were ‘John MackMunish, son to Janet MackGil in Kirkland’, ‘James Mackmunish, stepson to Janet Mackgil in Kirkland’ and ‘John Wilson, son to Thomas Wilson in Kirkland’. (RPCS, IX, 574.)

A John Garmorie in Trowdale was also listed for reset and harbour on the Fugitive Roll, but is not mentioned in the summons as he appears to have fled his home. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 216.)

On the complete parish list of 1684, ‘John Graham and a woman servant; John Germurie, fugitive and gone, wife, son and daughter’ are listed under ‘Treudall’. (RPCS, IX, 582.)

In October, 1684, ‘John Germurie his wife in Trendal’ was listed as disorderly by the parish minister. (RPCS, IX, 574.)

Map of Trowdale

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

The Winter of 1682 to 1683: Comets, Crainroch and the Terrible Conjunction

•August 23, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Great Comet 1680 Comet Ison

And now for something completely different…the Scottish weather in the 1680s. At that time, there was more to the weather than simply a record of rainfall or the motions of the heavens…

‘January 1683. This last winter was very open and warm; no frost at all, excepting some crainroch, or small frost, in some mornings in Janwary. Some flowers were budding in Janwary, as tansey, nettles, and others. A partridge nest was found then with eggs in it; and artichoes in some gardings growing to the bigness of a hen’s egg; pyats and birds were building their nests, and eggs found in some of them. In this year, 1683, astrologers observe that there is a famous conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in Leo. These planets meet twice or thrice in that fiery regal sign, and astrologically boad great alterations in the World.’ (Law Memorialls, 238-9.)

Lord Fountainhall also commented on the same weather pattern:

‘This year [1683] we ware allarumed with ane strange conjunction was to befall in it, of the 2 planets, Saturne and Jupiter in Leo, observed by Argol and other Astronomers, and our prognosticators who all spoke of it as a thing very ominous, and which had only happened tuise before, since the creation of the world, and portended great alterations in Europe. And from England ther came some observations on the late comets, [and comet of 1680 here] which promised a furder treatise called Catastrophe Mundi;… all which helped to fright timorous melancholy peeple; and Mr. George Sinclar, the mathematician [and author of Satan’s Invisible World Discovered in c1685], did also call this planetary conjunction a very terrible on[e], in his Description of the weather glasse and hygroscope.

Our winter, from November 1682 till March 1683, was rather like a spring for mildnes: if it be to be ascrybed to this conjunction I know not.’ (Lauder, Historical Observes, 88.)

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine