The Volcano that Made Scotland Freeze in 1674 #History

•October 4, 2015 • Leave a Comment

An explosive volcanic eruption, a bishop’s ring and the Little Ice Age: How freezing weather and near famine arrived in Scotland in 1674…

Or, four events that form an interesting historical pattern, but may not be linked one to an other. Then again, what if they are?


The Eruption of Gamkonora in 1673.

1. The Volcano
On 20 May, 1673, Mount Gamkonora, a volcano in Indonesia, violently erupted obliterating the top of the mountain and blasting ash far into the stratosphere. In the tsunami that followed villagers were killed. The impacts of the eruption were not just local, it also impacted on the global climate. Perhaps surprisingly, it may have had an effect on the other side of the world, in Scotland.

Today, the 1673 Gamkonora event has been eclipsed in historical memory by other, colossal, eruptions in the area whose names resonate down through history, Tambora in 1815 and Krakatoa in 1883. How large the 1673 eruption was is not clear. It was probably similar in scale to the better known VEI 5 eruptions of Vesuvius in 79 AD and Mount St. Helens in 1980, but probably a bit smaller that the VEI 6 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in 1991.

Map of Gamkonora               Satellite View

Overview of Gamkonora (give time to load )

What does a forgotten Indonesian eruption have to do with Scotland? It is certain that nobody in Scotland in 1673 knew about what took place at Gamkonora. Although the volcano lay near to Ternate, one of the legendary Spice Islands of world history where the Dutch were present, a very long sea voyage lay between the event and news of it reaching Europe. What may have taken less time was the first tangible sign of it to appear over Scotland.

Halo SunHalo around Sun

2. A Circle Round the Sun in Summer. 1673.
On the 6 August, 1673, the Reverend Robert Law observed something unusual in the sky:

‘This summer, 1673, was a very rainie summer, and the harvest exceeding rainie and dangerous. On the 6th of August was observed a circle about the sun, much lyke to a rainbow, about 12 hours in the day; the lyke has not been usuall, which, as it seems, portended much raine by the event of it; and in October was there a windie Thursday through Britain and Ireland, that shoke more corn upon the ground than what stood. (Law, Memorialls, 52.)

What had Law observed? From his description it appears that he believed that he had witnessed either a halo around the Sun, a relatively common event that is caused by ice crystals semi-randomly orientated in the atmosphere, or a corona, which is caused by water droplets. Law specifically said that it was a portent of ‘much raine’.

However, did Law know what it was that he recorded? He also states that ‘the lyke has not been usuall’ and that it was ‘a circle about the sun, much lyke to a rainbow’. Law certainly knew about rainbow-like optical effects around the Sun, as he identified a sun dog over Glasgow in 1683.

Halos and corona are not the only optical phenomena that produces a circle round the Sun. Over two hundred years after Law witnessed the circle that was ‘much lyke to a rainbow’, the Krakatoa eruption led to the recognition of a different optical phenomena, a Bishop’s Ring.

It is here that Law’s description is of particular interest. What Law observed was ‘a circle about the sun’ which was ‘much lyke to a rainbow’, but not, apparently, the same as a rainbow. A Bishop’s Ring around the Sun has an inner rim that is whitish or bluish white and an outer rim which is reddish, brownish or purple. It is ‘much lyke to a rainbow’, but is not a rainbow. It is produced after large, explosive, volcanic eruptions throw sulphur aerosols high into the atmosphere that then move around the globe. For those who doubt that an Indonesian volcano can cause a Bishop’s Ring over Europe, here is an image of one over Finland in March, 1992, that was caused by the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in June, 1991.


A Bishop’s Ring from Pinatubo © Marko Riikonen.

If Law recorded a Bishop’s Ring, it was probably first observed over Glasgow or Dunbartonshire, which was where Law lived, 78 days after the Gamkonora eruption. Intriguingly, there is a parallel with the discovery of the Bishop’s Ring after Krakatoa in 1883. After the cataclysmic eruption of the volcano on 27 August, a ‘constant halo observer’ noted it over Sunderland on 27 November, i.e., 92 days later. It is clear that atmospheric circulation, local weather conditions and a keen eye for such phenomena are an important factor in the observation of such an event, perhaps today few more people would both pay attention to it and record it. Law certainly was interested in providential signs in natural phenomena. Although he specifically states that the summer was ‘very rainie’, it appears that 6 August was a clear, sunny day suited to observation as the entire circle was observed in the sky at ‘about’ noon.

In the end, it is not clear which form of optical phenomena that was ‘much lyke to a rainbow’ that Law recorded in the sky over Scotland, but he may, perhaps, have recorded a Bishop’s Ring over two centuries before the optical effect was identified by science.

Whether Law recorded a Bishop’s Ring in 1673 is neither here, nor there, when it comes to the impact of the Gamkonora eruption on the global climate.

Frozen Thames 1677Abraham Hondius, Frozen Thames 1677 (Held by Museum of London.)

3. Volcanic Climate Forcing and the Little Ice Age
A recent scientific analysis of the ‘climate forcing of volcanic eruptions’ in the last 2,500 years which was published in Nature, Sigl, Winstrup, McConnell etc, ‘Timing and climate forcing of volcanic eruptions in the past 2500 years’, has indicated a stronger correlation between volcanic eruptions and sudden cooling in the climate.

At number three in the article’s ranked list of the sixteen largest post-volcanic cooling events of the last 2,500 years is the year 1675 with a temperature anomaly of -1.78̊C. Although 1675 was not one of the twenty coolest years on record, it was part of a decade between 1672/3 and 1681/2 that was, in global terms, the fourteenth largest average temperature anomaly (-0.77̊C) and eleventh in terms of an anomaly in tree growth found in the tree-ring data in the last 2,500 years. (See Extended Data Table 4 & 5 in article.)

The Gamkonora eruption was not one of the twenty largest eruptions of the last 2,500 years. Worse volcanic climate forcing had prevailed in the first decade of the seventeenth century that produced the largest temperature anomaly decade of the last 2.500 years (-1.17̊C) and contained the second highest single temperature anomaly (-1.82̊C). It was almost certainly caused by the eruption of Huaynaputina in the Andes. That event may have led to a great famine in Russia that killed over a million, but it appears to have had little effect on Scotland.

Gamkonora was not responsible on its own for cooling in the 1670s. The Little Ice Age, which caused cooling in Scotland, the rest of Europe and North America, was certainly a, if not the, major factor in the cold decade that followed Gamkonora. Volcanic activity is a possible cause of the Little Ice Age, but orbital cycles, changes in ocean circulation, the Maunder Minimum and decreases in the population have also been put forward as causes.

The weather in Scotland was, at times in the decade between 1672 and 1682, quite peculiar, or, at least, it drew the providential attentions of the Reverend Law and others.

Although the year 1675 has been described as the third largest post-volcanic cooling event in the last 2,500 years, the summer of 1675 was ‘very hott’ in Scotland and the end of the year ‘very warm’ until December. However, in September of that year, ‘a hurricane’ struck Scotland.

In the middle of the summer of ‘76, ‘a Great Haill’ stuck Dumbarton, while in December of that year, the ‘most violent frost’ that anyone could ever remember descended on the land.

Other strange events followed, Two years later, a tornado made landfall on the Clyde and perhaps at around the same time a curious rain of fish fell in Galloway.

However, it is at the very end of the fourteenth largest average temperature anomaly decade of the last two-and-a-half millennia, that a potentially significant sign of climate change appears in Scotland, when Inuit hunters were discovered in Orkney in 1682 and again in 1684. At the same time, the winter of 1682 was described as ‘rather like a spring for mildnes’, while the winter of 1683 to 1684 famously brought the Great Frost, which was followed by violent floods and strange portents.

The above illustrates how difficult it is to translate global climate cooling or volcanic climate forcing directly into local weather impacts, especially when we are reliant on sporadic and patchy historical sources for the decade.

What may be clearer is that the Gamkonora 1673 event had a significant impact on the Scottish climate in the year immediately following it, as it is generally a year or so after a large volcanic eruption that its impact on the climate is most tangible.

Thirteen Drifty Days

4. Gamkonora’a Possible Impact on Scotland
In early 1674, a vehement frost descended on the country that lasted for a biblical forty days. In the upland parishes of the South and the Highlands, families froze to death and cattle, sheep and wild animals died in great numbers.

The prolonged frost had knock-on effects. A terrible harvest ensued in the fall of 1674:

‘the harvest … being very evill for the corns that were so late in sowing the last spring, throw the long continuance of the frost, were not rypened for the most part, but very green in October, as if it had been in August.

The September of that year was very fair, and hott all throughout, and if Providence had not so ordered it, we would have had great scarcity of victuall, if not a great famine; but the October following was very rainie, which keept back the corns from rypening, and necessitat the people to take in the corn half wett and green, which occasioned much ill meall, though dear; for, till the beginning of October, there was little or no shearing; yet the following months, November, December, and January, there was not eight days frost, which helped well forward the labour and tillage of the land, and was very helpfull to the cattell, under that scarcity of fodder there was; and notwithstanding of all that great storm that was the last February and March, wherein many people and cattell dyed, yea, the deer and other wild beasts were starved to death with hunger and cold in the Hylands and other parts, yet was there not any tyme cows found fatter than in this last harvest [of 1674], and no scarcitie either of sheep or cows for slaughter, nor no dearth of them more than at other tymes. Thus the Lord who casts down with the one hand, lifts up with the other. Blessed be his name for ever!’ (Law, Memorialls, 73-4.)

‘This year, 1674, ends in a stormy winter; great winds in it, great scaith at sea, and great loss of ships. Victuall very dear; the boll of meall is 12 lib., and 20 merks for five furlots of malt, and that in January 1675, in the mercat of Glasgow;’ (Law, Memorialls, 73.)

Did the eruption of Gamkonora in 1673 lead to cold and erratic weather patterns in Scotland in 1674? Did the Reverend Law observe a Bishop’s Ring over Glasgow? It is an interesting pattern, but whether those events were connected is not proven.

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

In the Steps of the Covenanters (STV 1990) #History

•October 1, 2015 • 2 Comments

In the Steps of the Covenanters (STV 1990)

‘In the Steps of the Covenanters’ is not a history documentary on the Covenanters of the 1680s, as it mainly highlights how the Covenanters and the KillingTimes were remembered. I did rather enjoy the preaching of the Reverend Sinclair Horne of the Scottish Reformation Society that forms the core of the programme.

It begins with psalm singing at the Darmead Monument in Cambusnethan parish, Lanarkshire.

Near the end of the first part and the beginning of the second part, the Rev. Sinclair Horne uses Richard Cameron’s sermon at Hynd’s Bottom.

There is then a visit to Fenwick parish church where relics of Captain John Paton of Meadowhead are displayed.

It uses helicopter shots of the Drumclog and mentions Thomas Douglas and John Graham of Claverhouse.

A further preaching is held at the Peden Stone at Benhar in Shotts parish.

At Newmilns, the capture of prisoners at Little Blackwood and the raid on the Ducat Tower are discussed, that led to the death of John Law in April, 1685.

The battle of Airds Moss is often mentioned, as is Richard Cameron’s death.

Another preaching is held at Sorn parish church, which mentions Alexander Peden and the last martyr, George Wood.

At Sorn, the minister mentions the so-called “Childrens’ Covenant”, which can be found here in Hewison, uses one of Peden’s sermons preached at Glenluce in 1682, and alludes to the Sanquhar Declaration of 1680.

The Story of the Killing of Andrew Hislop, Covenanter. #History

•September 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The shooting of Andrew Hislop is one of the most interesting of the Killing Times of 1685, as an allegedly notorious persecutor, John Graham of Claverhouse, reluctantly carried out the field execution.

Andrew Hislop Grave Eskdalemuir

Andrew Hislop’s Grave © Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse.

The story is recorded in early Presbyterian sources, but it is also found in unpublished local traditions that add new details to Hislop’s story. How reliable those details are, is, as always with later raditions, open to question.

I would like to thank Jim Hyslop for providing me with a transcription of some genealogical notes, written by an “H.H.” in 1911, which quote from a ‘diary’ of Dr. William Brown (1764-1835).

Brown was the minister of Eskdalemuir parish from 1792-1835. He compiled the parish entries for Eskdalemuir in both the Old and New Statistical Accounts. However, he did not mention Hislop’s grave in them. Brown also left an unpublished manuscript entitled ‘The Memorabilia of the Parish of Eskdalemuir, 1793-1808.’ It is mentioned in the notes to James Hogg’s Three Perils of Woman (p 424) as a source used by later authors. One suspects that the ‘diary’ mentioned by “H. H.” in 1911 is Brown’s ‘Memorabilia’ manuscript and that the passage on Andrew Hislop was intended for publication in it.

“H.H.” wrote:

‘He [Dr. William Brown] was a literary man of some repute and wrote the History of Ewes. [probably an error for Eskdalemuir parish]

Excerpt from his diary [probably Brown’s manuscript of the ‘Memorabilia’]:

The only religious curiosity if such it may be called that exists in the Parish [of Eskdalemuir] besides that of the Druidical Temple, which might perhaps have come more properly under this article than the preceding one, is the grave of Andrew Hislop on the farm of Craighaugh, who was shot by Claverhouse and Sir James Johnstone of Westerhall for being a Covenanter, on the 11th May 1685.

The following are all the particulars of his death which could be collected.

John Graham of Claverhouse, having been appointed by Government to the command of a Troop of Horse, came into this Parish with the design of searching for Covenanters, or according to the Court Phrase, rebels, and pitched his camp at Johnston for some time.’

Craighaugh Johnstone

‘Johnston’ is almost certainly Old Johnstone in Eskdalemuir parish. It lies directly to the north of Craighaugh where Hislop is buried. Today, the Samye-Ling Tibetan Centre lies beside Old Johnstone.

Map of Old Johhnstone

‘He went about with a small party in quest of them, but without success. At length one of the Covenanters happening die at Andrew Hislop’s Mother’s house and being buried in the night time in the adjacent field, the grave was discovered and news brought of it to Claverhouse at [Old] Johnston, whereupon Sir James Johnstone and he went with a party and barbarously dug up the Body, and finding that the corpse had come out of Widow Hislop’s house, they pillaged and pulled down the house, and drove herself and children to the fields. One of these vis. Andrew was older than the rest and –(omission in the diary here) not to say that they were hardly used, but at that time they could not get hold of him.

Windshiels Covenante's Grave

The Grave at Winshiels © Bob Cowan and licensed for reuse.

Afterwards however, when Claverhouse was in Hutten [and Corrie] Parish in search of Covenanters, he accidentally came upon four, of which Andrew was one, lying resting themselves up in the Winshields Burn, at a place called Dumfinns and their horses grazing near them.

Dumb LinnDumb Linn

[The location where Hislop rested appears to be Dumb Linn, in Hutton and Corrie parish. It lies on the Caldwell Burn that flows past Winshields. Today, the Dumb Linn is not marked on the OS map, but it did appear on the mid nineteenth-century OS maps, on the Caldwell to the west of Dragon’s Plantation. The linn is to the north-west of the monument at Winshields. If anyone can find and photograph the Dumb Linn, that would be great.

Map of Dumb Linn           Aerial View of Dumb Linn

‘Whenever they saw Claverhouse each ran to catch his horse, but Andrew’s being young would not be taken, but running down the Burn. Before he could get hold of it, Claverhouse’s men had got up to him and seised him a little above the Winshields.’

A ‘little above the Winshields’ would be somewhere in the vicinity of the monument at Winshields.

‘This was on the 10th May. Having thus got him in their power, they brought him to Sir James Johnston, who was then at Johnston, and who when he heard of their coming met them at Craighhaugh.’

After capture near Winshields, Hislop was brought a few miles north-east to Craighaugh in Eskdalemuir parish.

‘And Sir James to show his loyalty, would have him dispatched immediately, saying that they would shoot the Rebel on the rebel’s land, Scott of Johnston to whom Craighhaugh and Johnston belonged being a Covenanter.

Claverhouse however was backward and craved delay (perhaps the impression of John Brown’s murder, who was killed by him in the Parish of Muirkirk was not yet worn off) but Sir James pressed it so that Claverhouse at length said “The blood of this man, Westerhall, be upon you, I am free of it.” Whereupon they brought him to the place where is is now interred and allowed him some time for prayer. Having gone into a kiln which was hard by, he prayed so long that Sir James said to Claverhouse “Go and harken if he be done.” Claverhouse went and returning said he had left off praying and begun preaching.

At length coming out, Sir James ordered a Highland Captain, who was there, to shoot him, but he, instead of obeying his command drew up his men at some distance and swore that “Her nain sell would fight Claverhouse and all his Dragoons first”. Whereupon Claverhouse ordered three of his own men to do it. When they were ready to fire, they bade Andrew draw his bonnet over his face, but he refused, telling them he could look his murderers in the face, for he had done nothing of which he needed to be ashamed. Then holding up his Bible he charged them to answer at the Great Day for what they had done, and were to do, when they should be judged by that Book.

He was buried in the very spot where he was shot, and the place is rendered an object of notice by a gravestone on which is the following inscription:-

Here lies Andrew Hyslop, Martyr – shot dead upon this place by Sir James Johnston of Westerhall, and John Graham of Claverhouse, for adhering to the Word of God – Christ’s kingly government, and covenanted work of reformation, against tyranny, perjury and prelacy.

May 13th 1685. re. 12. 11. –
Halt, Passenger, a word with thee or two,
Why I ly here wouldst let thou truly know?
By wicked Hands, Hands cruel and unjust,
Without all Law, my life from me they thrust,
And being dead, they left me on the spot,
For Burial this same place I got.
Truth’s Friends in Eskdale now rejoice their lot,
Viz. th’faithfull, for thruth my seal thus got.”

The above more-or-less follows the same story as that found in both Cloud of Witnesses and Wodrow. However, it also contains a few tantalising traditions about Hislop, such as where he was resting when he was discovered.


Howpasley Hope © Chris Eilbeck and licensed for reuse.

The manuscript continues with further traditions about both Hislop and Claverhouse.


In addition to what has been said about Andrew Hyslop, I may add some particulars which I got from my Mother-in-law, Mrs. Moffat. [Brown was married to Mary Moffat in 1797.] She told me that Andrew Hyslop left the Howpasley height, where he had been hiding for some time, the very morning of the day on which he was shot, and that her Grand father, William Borthwich who was tenant of Howpasley [in 1685] advised him very strongly to stay from the fear of what might happen. But he told him that he could not, for that he needed to go to Borland (of which he was the farmer) to meet some persons on business.’

Howpasley lies in Roberton parish, Roxburghshire.

Map of Howpasley

The tradition claims that Borthwick met Hislop at ‘Howpasley height’, where Hislop had been hiding for some time. There is no wy of knowing the veracity of that tradition. If it is true, then it does appear to indicate that Hislop must have had good reasons to go into hiding. Since he is not recorded as a fugitive in the published roll of May, 1684, it is possible that Hislop had either evaded the abjuration oath pressed at the beginning of 1685, or taken part in some violent act. The alleged reset of fugitives by Hislop’s mother, one of whom had died and been buried, had, allegedly, led to her and Hislop’s younger siblings being burned out of her home. Perhaps that tipped Hislop into becoming a fugitive, or, perhaps, his fugitive status after he failed to take the abjuration oath led to his mother’s home being burned. What is clear is that the Presbyterian sources never really get to the heart of the issue as to why Hislop was hunted down.

‘Howpasley height’ is almost certainly Howpasley aka. Muckle Knowe and Mid Rig, which lies above Howpasley Hope and the Howpasley Burn. Today, the hill is covered in forestry.

Map of Howpasley/Mid Rig


Howpasley Burn © Chris Eilbeck and licensed for reuse.

The tradition also claims that Hislop intended to go to his farm at Boreland, which lies in Hutton and Corrie parish, to ‘meet some persons’.

Map of Boreland

The diary continues:

‘These were probably the persons who were with him at the Wan Shiels Burn when he was taken.’

The Dumb Linn near Winshields where Hislop is said to have been captured lies over a mile to the north/north-west of Boreland.

‘She told my father that her grandfather strongly dissuaded him from taking his gun with him, and that it was his firing his gun at the Troopers when they were pursuing him that made him be more hardly dealt with.’

The implication of the tradition is that Hislop was armed and fired his weapon on the troopers when they tried capture him.

‘She also mentioned a striking instance of the power of conscience on Claverhouse, for that very evening, when he had gone to Langholm Castle where Mr. Melvile the Duke [of Buccleuch]’s factor lived, he could find no peace, but walked backwards and forwards thro’ the room. Mrs. Melvile several times asked him if he was well, but he gave no answer. At length he turned about and said to her with great emotion “I have been the Butcher of Government, but I will be so no more.” And this was the last execution that he ever had any hand in.’

This tradition of Claverhouse’s conscience striking him after the event builds on the evidence found in Shields in 1690 and in a longer form in Cloud of Witnesses in 1714, that Claverhouse refused to carry out Hislop’s execution.

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

#History, the Covenanters and the World: #Blogs and the Blank Zone

•September 23, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Sint Maarten, Kiribati, Città del Vaticano, are you out there?

Where the hits come from is one of the fun parts of blogging, but what about the blanks on your world map? They tell you something interesting about spreading internet use, censorship and how global interest in your subject is.

History Blogs

2015 Map

This has already been the busiest year ever on my #History blog, Jardine’s Book of Martyrs, but where are the holdouts to the history of the Scottish Covenanters? Has there been any progress since last year?

In Europe, Andorra, Aland Islands, Liechtenstein, and the Vatican City are the last hold outs. However, at last the Faroe Islands, Scotland’s close neighbour, have finally appeared! Also appearing is a new area, simply termed the European Union (169 hits), which should get the UKIPpers going.

In North and Central America, only the tiny French territory of Saint Pierre et Miquelon remains on zero hits. Cuba, presumably, continues to hide behind some kind of political firewall. However, Greenland has leapt into the chart and on to the map with 251 hits, which was connected to this story on the Inuit Discovery of Scotland.

Out in the Caribbean a few islands without a British colonial link do not appear: Aruba, Montserrat, Sint Maarten, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are all on zero. However, several more Caribbean nations have clicked to the Covenanters: Anguilla (1), Curaçao (7), Martinique (1), St Lucia (1) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (1).

In South America, Suriname and French Guiana (Guyane française) doggedly go on with zero hits.

In Asia, the ‘Great Firewall’ of China has finally collapsed! Censorship remains elsewhere – Iran, North Korea and Burma are all on zero hits. Bhutan, probably for other reasons, remains on zero. Three of the Central-Asian “Stans”, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are also on zero. However, Laos (3) finally makes it into the Covenanters’ World.

A very small amount of progress has occurred in Francophone Africa, but those countires are still proving deeply resistant to the joys of the Scottish Covenanters in English. In the rest of Africa remarkable progress has resulted in nearly all of the map being filled in. South Sudan and the D. R. of Congo have both clicked. Mozambique is one of the largest countries not appearing. Out in the Indian Ocean, Christmas Island, Comoros (Udzima wa Komori), Madagascar (Madagasikara), the Seychelles (Repiblik Sesel) and Mayotte draw a blank, except for Réunion (2).

Other remote islands continue to hold out to stories of militant presbyterians and dragoons.

Out across the Pacific, Cocos (Keeling Island), the Federated States of Micronesia, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, the British Indian Ocean Territory, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Norfolk Island, Nauru, Niue, French Polynesia (Polynésie française), Pitcairn Islands, Palau (Pelew), the Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga and Wallis and Futuna, all stay on zero hits. However, American Samoa (1), Cook Islands (1), Guam (16) and New Caledonia (1) have had a look.

The last of the pink bits of the British Empire have finally appeared with the Falkland Islands (1). However, the smaller territories – Ascension Island, Saint Helena, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands – remain beyond reach. Other Atlantic islands and territories, São Tomé e Príncipe and the Terres australes et antarctiques françaises are far less of a surprise for different reasons. However, Cape Verde (2) has now charted.

Where does the person with the most unlikely interest in the history of the Covenanters live? Let us all know by leaving a comment below.

You can see my previous looks at the where the hits have not come from, here for 2012 and here for 2014.

Good Night, and Good Luck!

Daniel Defoe on the Killing Times of 1685

•September 18, 2015 • 2 Comments

Damiel Defoe

In 1717, Daniel Defoe, the journalist, novelist and spy, published a partial list of Covenanters summarily executed in the Killing Times. Defoe’s “list” was based either on the list found Alexander Shields’ A Short Memorial (1690), or on the transcription of that same list found in A Cloud of Witnesses (1714). A similar list derived from Shields was produced by George Ridpath in 1693.

It is clear that Defoe’s “list” was a rapid copy and summary of the Shields/Cloud list. It was a work of journalism and propaganda, rather than a work of scholarship. It is a problematic historical source for the Killing Times of 1685.

However, when one is familiar with Shield’s list, it is possible to identify which entries Defoe used and to fill in the names of the martyrs and military officers that he did not provide. That allows us to connect Defoe’s text back to the original events that he describes.

Defoe copied some of the errors found in Shields/Cloud. He also made some of his own.

His “list” does not include the two female Wigtown Martyrs, but in the same text he also published an account of their drowning. That may indicate that he used Cloud of Witnesses (1714) as his source text.

I have reformatted and added titles, dates and names etc. to Defoe’s text to make it easier to understand.

His text is as follows:

‘[John] Graham of Claverhouse, the same who was afterwards Viscount of Dundee, and was kill’d at the Fight at Gillicranky [in 1689], in King William’s time, was at this time a most furious Persecutor of these poor People; it was his Rage in falling upon one of their Field Meetings, where he met with a Repulse, was the Occasion and beginning of which the rising at Bothwell as have been shewed already. This Man is said to have kill’d above 100 Men in this kind of cold blood Cruelty; making it his business to follow, and pursue poor People thro’ the whole Country, and heaving at his Heels a Crew of Savages, Highlanders, and Dragoons, whose sport was in Blood, and whose Diversion was to haul innocent Men out from their Houses or hiding Places and Murther them; his Companion in this Work was Colonel James Douglass, since call’d Lieutenant General Douglass [under King William]. These two with their Men kill’d 28 Men in a very few Days, and at several places in the Shire of Galloway, most of them without the least Evidence of their being Guilty, all of them without any legal Prosecution, and some without so much as Examination.

[Mauchline parish, May, 1685.]
At their first coming down they found five Men in several Prisons, who had been committed by other Persecutors before their coming [i.e., Peter Gillies, John Bryce, William Finnieson, Thomas Young and John Brounen]: It seems somebody had maliciously told this Graham [of Claverhouse] that they were of the Whiggs that used the Field Meetings; upon which without any Oath made of the Fact, or any Examination of the Men, without any Trial or other Sentence, than his own command, his bloody Soldiers fetch’d them all to Mauchlin, a Village where his Head Quarters were, and hang’d them immediately, not suffering them to enter into any House at their coming, nor at the Entreaty of the poor Men. would permit One to lend them a Bible who it seems offered it, nor allow them a Moment to pray to God.

[Auchencloy, Girthon parish, December, 1684.]
Four more Men who were betray’d to him [i.e., to Claverhouse], being hid in a House at the Water of Dee and were at the Time his Men came praying together, he caused them to be drag’d just to the Door, and shot them Dead as they came out, without any Enquiry whether they were the Persons that he came to apprehend; their being found praying to God was it seems sufficient Testimony of their Party and Offence; after this, coming to the same Place, at two or three Days distance, and understanding the People of the Town had buried the Bodies, he caused his Men to dig them up again, and commanded that they should lye in the Fields: The Names of these four were John Grier, Robert Ferguson, Archibald Stuart* and Robert Stuart.

[* Defoe is the only source to name Archibald Stewart. Other sources name James McMichael as one of the dead.]

[Colmonell parish, 1685.]
At Camonel in the County of Carrick, he [i.e., Claverhouse,] saw a Man run hastily cross the Street before his Troop, and as he might suppose did it to escape from or avoid them, tho’ as the People of the Place related it, the poor Man had no Apprehensions of them, but as he took all Occasions for his bloody design, he commanded his Men to shoot this Person, without so much as Examining him, or asking who be was, the poor Mans Name was Matthew Mekellurat.

[Ingleston, Glencairn parish, April, 1685.]
The same Party having intelligence, that there were several of the Whiggs hid in a great Cave among the Hills of Glencairn, that the People resorted to them to pray together, and that several Women carry’d them Provision and Coal to bum to warm them, Col. [James] Douglass sent a small Party who surrounded the Hill, and drew five Men out of the Cave, it seems there had been near Fifty there just before having met to pray, but were separated again; had they been all there, Douglass had not had them so cheap, for being all Arm’d, it was likely they would have sent him back faster than he came, heaving but 18 Dragoons with him ; these five however, who it seems were betray’d by one Watson*, [>p87.] this Col. Douglass dragg’d out of the Cave and immediately shot them dead, not giving them time so much as to recommend their Souls unto God. The Names of the murther’d Men were, Robert Grierson, Robert Mitchel, James Bennoch, John Edgar, and John Gibson.

* Note, After the Revolution [at the end of 1688] this Watson who betray’d them was seiz’d by some of the Relations of these poor Men, and put in Prison at Drumfries, but they did not put him to Death as he deserved.

[Kirkconnel Martyrs, Tongland parish, February, 1685.]
The same wretched Gang [led by Robert Grierson of Lag?] coming to a House where they had been inform’d one Welch a Field preacher was harboured, or was to be found, they rushed violently into the House; but found not the Man they sought, neither indeed was he there; but they found five Men together, with the Women and Children of the Family all on their Knees at Prayers; whereupon without Examining any farther, they said it was a seditious Meeting which was forbidden by the Council, and thereupon instantly dragged out the Men and shot them to Death before the Door. [This entry probably describes the killings at Kirkconnel Moor of John Bell of Whiteside, James Clement, David Halliday in Mayfield, Robert Lennox of Irelandton and Andrew McRobert.]

[Lesmahagow parish, February, 1685.]
John Smith, was shot to Death by two Soldiers at Lismehago [i.e., Lt-Colonel Buchan and Cromwell Lockhart of Lee].

[Tarbolton parish, 1685.]
William Skillilaw, was shot by one Lieutenant Saunders in the River Air.

[Fenwick parish, November, 1685.]
John Ferguson, George Whiteburn, and Patrick Gemmil at Finnick by two Soldiers.

[Kelton parish, 1685.]
That murthering Persecutor Graham of Claverhouse [, an error by Defoe for Captain Thomas Douglas], seeing a Man riding by him on the way, called after him, and the Man not making answer, nor stooping his Horse, Graham caused one of his Soldiers to shoot him dead, as he rode along, whereas, upon Enquiry into the matter, it was found that the poor Man was Deaf and could not hear him call to him; the murthered Man’s Name was Robert Auchinleck.

[Muirkirk parish, 1685.]
William Adams, at the Wallwood in Kyle, going along the way, and seeing some Soldiers at a Distance, hid himself in a Thicket thinking to shun them, but being discover’d by the Soldiers, they instantly shot him without so much as asking his Name, or enquiring after any other Guilt, than his shunning to meet them.

[Borgue parish, 1685.]
Capt. [Thomas] Douglass seized a Taylor [called Robert M’Whae] and shot him dead, only because he had some small Pieces of Lead about him, such as the Taylors put in the Sleeves of Women’s Clothes;

[Barr parish, February, 1685.]
and another of that persecuting Family of the Douglass [an error for Cornet James Dundas, who was listed as Douglas in a typesetting error in Shields], shot [Edward McKean] on no other pretence than because he had a Flint in his Pocket; these things it seems they call’d Ammunition:

[Dailly parish, 1685]
At another House he [i.e., Cornet Dundas] shot a Man [i.e., John Semple] because he attempted to escape from him, tho’ he had no Knowledge of the Man or any Charge against him.

[Dailly parish, 1685; Evandale parish, 1685.]
Several were kill’d in the dark, being shot by they knew not who, or for what; [e.g. John McLorgan and William Paterson]

[Cumnock parish, Summer, 1685; Eaglesham parish, 1685.]
the Highlanders shot Men for their Sport without asking them any Questions, and answer’d that they could not mistake for all the Country were Rebels. [They were Joseph Wilson, David Dun, Simon Paterson, John Jamieson and John Umphrey. Also Robert Lockhart, and Gabriel Thompson.]

Most of these mentioned above, were massacred in the Year 1685, and in one Count, besides many more in all parts of the West Country; the Dragoons patrol M all over the Country, by Night as well as by Day, so thut the distressed People who lay hid in the Mountains, could not come down to the Houses of their Friends in tiie Night, as they usually did for Succour, and so retreat again in the Morning before Day; but now they got no Liberty to come down, but at the utmost hazard; so that their Wives and Children, or Relations, and sometimes Charitable and Compassionate Christian Friends, jirent to them to the Hills, and to the Caves and Holes in the Earth, where they were harboured, to carry them Necessaries and Relief, and without which they must have perished, for meer want of Food; and notwithstanding which they endured in those vast and desolate Hills, inexpressible hardships, extremities of Cold, without Covering, without Shelter, without Fewel in the deepest of Winter, and often without Food and without Light: A List of Threescore and Eighteen Men by Name has been published [by Alexander Shields in A Short Memorial (1690) / Cloud of Witnesses (1714)], who were massacred by the Persecutors named above, and of whom some of those named here were a Part, but the Number who were thus hunted down and Murther’d by the Highlanders, and the Dragoons, in the whole Country, is not to be reckoned up, and is indeed Incredible.’ (Defoe, Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, 86-7.)

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The Killing Times of 1685: The list of the Dead in Cloud of Witnesses

•September 18, 2015 • 2 Comments

Cloud of Witnesses 1714 Wigtown Martyrs

In 1714, a list of Covenanters who were summarily executed in the fields during the Killing Times appeared in A Cloud of Witnesses. The list was based on the list found in Alexander Shields’ A Short Memorial (1690) and nearly reproduces Shields’ list in full with some minor textual changes.

It was not based on George Ridpath’s list of 1693. Cloud was probably the source for Daniel Defoe’s list of 1717.

All the lists state that ‘seventy-eight’ died in the Killing Times. However, Cloud actually lists seventy-nine dead.

The following version of the list comes from the 1794 edition of Cloud of Witnesses, which predates the corrected version with expanded texts that appeared in later, nineteenth-century editions.

[1. Crossmichael parish.]
John Graham of Claverhouse, viscount of Dundee, in the year 1682. with a party of his troop, pursued William Graham in the parish of … [Crossmichael] in Galloway, making his escape from his mother’s house, and overtaking him, instantly shot him dead.

[2.-7. Mauchline parish.]
Item, The said Claverhouse, together with the earl of Dunbarton and lieutenant-general Douglas, caused Peter Gillies, John Bryce, Thomas Young, (who was taken by the laird of Lee,) William Fiddison and John Buiening to be put to death upon a gibbet, without legal trial or sentence, suffering them neither to have a bible, nor to pray before they died, at Mauchlein, 1685.

[8.-11. Girthon parish.]
Item, The said Claverhouse, coming to Galloway, in answer to the viscount of Kenmure’s letter, with a small party, surprised Robert Stewart, John Grier, Robert Ferguson and James MacMichael, and instantly shot them dead at the water of Dee in Galloway, December, 1684. Their corps being buried, were at his own command raised.

[12. Muirkirk parish.]
Item. Claverhouse, in May 1685, apprehended John Brown in Priesthill, in the parish of Moorkirk, in the shire of Air, being at his work, about his own house, and shot him dead before his own door in presence of his wife.

[13. Colmonell parish.]
Item, The said Claverhouse authorised his troop to kill Matthew Micklewrath, without any examination, in the parish of Colmonel in Carrick, Anno 1685.

[14.-18. Glencairn parish.]
Colonel James Douglas, brother to the duke of Queensberry, together with lieutenant John Livingston, and a party with them, surprises five men in a cave at Ingleston in the parish of Glencairn, being betrayed by Andrew Watson; Their names were, John Gibson, Robert Grierson, Robert Mitchel, James Bennoch and John Edgar, all which were at the command of the said Colonel Douglas brought forth and immediately shot dead, without giving them so much lime as to recommend their souls unto God. One John Ferguson, sometimes a professed friend, thrust one of them through, supposing he was not dead: This was done in the year 1685.

[19. Moffat parish.]
Item, The said colonel James Douglas and his party shot to death John Hunter, for no other alledged cause, but the running out from the house at Corehead, the same year 1685.

[20.-25. Minnigaff parish.]
Item, The said colonel or lieutenant-general James Douglas, with lieutenant Livingston and coronet James Douglas [an error for Dundas], surprised six men at prayer at the Calduns in the parish of Minigaf; viz James Dun, Robert Dun, Andrew Mackale, Thomas Stevenson, John Maclude, and John Stevenson, in January, 1685.

[26. Kells parish.]
Item, The said colonel James Douglas caused take Andrew Macquhan out of his bed, sick of a fever, and carry him to Newtown of Galloway, and the next day shot him dead, the foresaid year 1685.

[27. Cumnock parish.]
Item, The said colonel or lieutenant-general Douglas commanded Thomas Richard an old man of seventy years, to be shot in time of prayer; (he was betrayed and taken by Peter Inglis) Anno 1685, at Cumnock in Kyle.

[28. Borgue parish.]
Captain [Thomas] Douglas finding one … [Robert] Mowat a taylor, merely because he had some pieces of lead belonging to his trade, took him, and without any further trial shot him dead, between Fleet and Dee in Galloway.

[29. Kelton parish.]
Item, The said captain Douglas and his men, finding one Achenleck, a deaf man, for not making answer, thro’ defect of his hearing instantly shot him dead off horseback, near Carlinwork, Anno 1685.

[30. Durisdeer parish.]
Sir Robert Dalziel and lieutenant Straton, having apprehended, Daniel M’Michael, not able to flee, by reason of his being sick, and detained him twenty sour hours prisoner, took him out and shot him at Dalveen, in the parish of Durisder in Nithsdale, January, 1685.

[31. Muirkirk parish.]
Item, The said captain Dalziel, and lieutenant Straton, with their men, sound William Adam hiding in a bush, and instantly killed him, at the Walwood in Kyle, February, 1685.

[32. Dumfries.]
Captain [Alexander] Bruce, captain of dragoons, apprehended James Kirko, carried him to Dumfries, detained him prisoner one night, next day brought him south to the water sands, and without any process shot him dead. The dying man desired a little time to make his peace with God; The captain answered, oftener than once or twice, Devil a peace ye get more made up. Some gentlewomen coming to beg his life were hindered by one John Craig of Stewarton; the foresaid Dalziel’s second son was one of them that shot him, though without command, June 1685.

[33.-38. Kirkpatrick-Durham parish. Irongray parish.]
Item, The said captain Bruce surprised at Lochenkithil, in the parish of Kirkpatrick in Galloway, six men, and instantly killed dead four of them, viz. John Gordon, William Stewart, William Heron, and John Wallace, and carried the other two Edward Gordon and Alexander MacUbine prisoners, and the next day he and monstrous Lagg, without any trial caused hang them upon a growing tree near the kirk of Irongray, and left them there hanging, February 1685.

[39. Straiton parish.]
Item, The said captain Bruce and his men took out of his bed William [or Thomas] MacHassie sick of a fever, and shot him instantly, in the parish of Straton in Carrick, January 1685.

[40. Dailly parish.]
Item, James Douglas [i.e., Dundas] coronet of dragoons, commanded to shoot John Semple, essaying to escape out of a window, in the parish of Dellie, Anno 1685. Kilkerron shot him.

[41. Barr parish.]
Item, The said coronet Douglas [i.e., Dundas] apprehended Edward Mac Keen, and by search finding a flint stone upon him, presently shot him with, out any further trial, February 1685.

[42.-44. Colmonell parish. Kirkcowan parish.]
Lieutenant general Drummond commanded without any process of trial, John Murchie and Daniel Miklewrock to be instantly shot after they were taken, in the parish of Colmonel in Carrick, Anno 1685. At the same time his soldiers did shoot dead Alexander Lin.

[45. Galston parish. Mauchline parish.]
Captain [John] Ingles and his dragoons pursued and killed James Smith at the burn of Ann in Kyle, 1684. [Possibly a typographic error for 1685.]

[46. Loudoun parish.]
Peter Ingles his son killed one John Smith in Cunningham, 1685.

[47. Fenwick parish.]
Item, The said Peter or Patrick Ingles killed one James White, struck off his head with an ax, brought it to Newmilns, and plaid at the foot-ball with it, he killed him at Littleblackwood the foresaid year 1685.

[48. Evandale parish.]
Item, The said Peter Ingles shot John Burrie, with his pass in his hand in Evandale, April 1685.

[49.-51. Cathcart parish.]
Major [John] Balfour, together with captain [James] Maitland and their party, apprehended at their work, Robert Tom, John Urie, and Thomas Cook, and instantly shot them at Pomadee near Glasgow, May 1685.

[52. Lesmahagow parish.]
Colonel [Thomas] Buchan, with the laird of Lee and their men, shot John Smith in the parish of Lesmahego, February 1685.

[53. Tarbolton parish.]
Lieutenant [Lewis] Lauder shot to death William Shillilaw at the Woodhead on the water of Air, Anno 1685.

[54.-56. Fenwick parish.]
Lieutenant Nisbet and his party, shot to death John Ferguson, George Whitburn, and Patrick Gemmil in the, parish of Finnick, in the said year.

[57. Lesmahagow parish.]
Lieutenant Murray and his party shot one John Brown after quarters given at Blackwood in Clydsdale, March 1685.

[58. Lesmahagow parish.]
Lieutenant Crichton did most barbarously after quarter, shoot David Steel, in the parish of Lesmahego, December 1686.

[59. Glencairn parish.]
The laird of Stenhouse, Sir Robert Laurie of Maxwelton, and John Craig of Stewartoun, did instigate and urge coronet [John] Bailie’s party of dragoons to shoot William Smith in Hill, after he had been prisoner, one night, (it was the day of Maxwelton’s daughter’s marriage), who also refused to let him be buried in the church yard,

This [John] Douglas of Stenhouse being a laird of mean estate, was advanced for such service as this, and his excessive harassing, spoiling, and fining of the people of God, and because he was a papist, to the honour of being secretary for Scotland to James VII. But the wicked’s honour is short lived, his name is extinct, having neither root nor branch, male or female, nor any remembrance left unto him.

The said [Robert] Laurie of Maxwelton’s steward reported that a cup of wine delivered that day into his hand, turned inte congealed blood; but be that as it will, himself died by a fall from his horse some years after.

[60. Eskdalemuir parish.]
Sir James Johnston of Westerhall, caused apprehend Andrew Hyslop in the parish of Hutton in Anandale, and delivered him up to Claverhouse, and never rested until he got him shot by Claverhouse’s troops; Claverhouse would have delayed it, but Westerhall was so urgent, that Claverhouse was heard say, that man’s blood shall be upon Westerhall. At length upon his urgency, Claverhouse ordered a Highland captain who was there to do it, but he refused; and drawing off his Highlanders to a convenient distance, swore, that her nain-sell would fight Claverhouse and all his dragoons first. Whereupon he caused three of his own dragoons do it, May 1685.

It is observable of this Westerhall, that he was once a great professor, and one who had sworn the covenant, and when the test was framed, he bragged that he was an actual covenanter, and scorned the test; but when he had the trial, he embraced it and became a bitter enemy to the work and people of God; and this man having been taken in his ground, he would have him shot, to give proof of his loyalty. He died about the revolution, in great torture of body by the gravel, and horror and anguish of conscience, insomuch that his cries were heard at a great distance from the house, as a warning to all such apostates.

[61.-65. Tongland parish.]
Sir Robert Grierson of Lagg having the command of a part of Claverhouse’s troop and Strachan’s dragoons, surprised John Bell of Whiteside, David Halliday portioner of Mayfield, Andrew M’Crabit, James Clement, and Robert Lenox of Irlintoun, and barbarously killed them after quarter, without time allowed to pray. When John Bell of Whiteside begged a little time to pray, Lagg answered, what devil have you been doing have ye not prayed enough these many years in the hills? and so shot him presently in the parish of Tongland in Galloway, February 1685.

[66.-67. Twynholm parish.]
Item, The said laird of Lagg, with the earl of Anandale, having command of some troops of heritors, pursued another David Halliday and George Short, and apprehended and shot them, under cloud of night, in the parish of Twynhame in Galloway, Anno 1685.

The laird of Lagg, who was so wicked an oppressor and destroyer of the people of God, in Galloway and Nithisdale, is now a justice of the peace, notwithstanding his being excommunicate for his adultery and impenitent obstinacy.

[68. Straiton parish.]
The laird of Colzean, for that time captain of a troop of militia and heritors, killed William M’Kergue at Blairquhan miln, Anno 1685.

[69. Kirkmichael parish.]
Item, The laird of Colzean, with the laird of Ballochmiln, shot Gilbert M’Adam in the parish of Kirkmichal, July 1685.

[70.-74. Cumnock parish.]
A party of Highlanders killed Joseph Wilson, David Dun, Simeon Paterson, and other two [John Jamison and John Umphrey], near the water of Kyle, in a moss in Kyle, Anno 1685.

[75.-76. Eaglesham parish.]
The laird of Ardenkeple commanding a party of Highlandmen, killed Robert Lockart and Gabriel Thomson, about that time also.

[77. Evandale parish.]
Likewise William Paterson was shot at Streven, uncertain by whom. 1685.

[78. Dailly parish.]
Also John M’Clorgan was killed at Drummellian’s house in the night time, not known by whom.

[79. Sorn parish.]
John Reid, belonging sometimes to [Wallace of] Craigie’s troop, did, under cloud of night, kill by a shot, one George Wood, about sixteen-years old, without asking one question at him, in Tinkhorn-hill, in Kyle, June 1688.

In sum, their number amounts to seventy eight [, the actual number listed is 79].

Besides these cold blood murders, there were many killed at several skirmishes at Pentland, Bothwel, Airsmoss, &c. while sighting in their own defence, and the defence of the field meetings, the number whereof amounts to about 400, and some odds.’

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The Killing Times of 1685: Ridpath’s List of Covenanters Executed in the Fields

•September 11, 2015 • 2 Comments

The 500th post…

Image from A Hind Let Loose (1687)

In 1693, George Ridpath, one of the first Scottish journalists, published a list of Covenanters who had been summarily executed in the fields. Ridpath’s list was copied from the list found in Alexander Shields’ A Short Memorial in 1690. It appeared in his pamphlet An Answer to the Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence (1693), 39-42.

A LIST of those Murdered in Cold Blood, without trial, conviction, or any colour of Law.

ONE Finlay shot at Belmoynock, by General Dalzel’s orders, because he could not discover who was in arms at Pentland, Anno 1666; James Davie in Bathgate parish, and several others at divers times, shot, as hearing sermons in the fields, before the insurrection at Bothwell-bridge [in 1679].

Henry Hall of Haughhead, murdered at the Queen’s Ferry [in 1680], by Thomas George Waiter, after several wounds from Middleton, Governor of Blackness.

Claverhouse and his dragoons

John Graham of Claverhouse and his troop of horse.

William Graham in Galloway, shot by Graham of Claverhouse’s order [in 1682], who together with the Earl of Dumbarton, and Lieut. General Douglas, caused to hang Peter Gillis, John Bryce, Thomas Young, William Fiddison, and John Binning, without trial or sentence, suffering them neither to have bible, nor time to pray; at Mauchlin, Anno 1685.

The said Graham of Claverhouse shot Robert Stuart, John Grier, Robert Ferguson, and another, at the river Dee in Galloway, Dec. 1684, and by his order they were again raised out of their graves.

May 1685, he shot John Brown of Priesthill in the Parish of Moorkirk, in the shire of Air, as at his work before his own door, in presence of his wife. He also ordered his troop to kill Matthew Mackelwrath without examination, in the parish of Camenel in Carrick, Anno 1685.

Colonel James Douglas William of Orange

Colonel James Douglas (Right)

Colonel James Douglas, and Lieutenant Livingston with a party, surprized five men in a cave at Ingleston, in the Parish of Glencairn, to wit, John Gibson, Robert Grierson, Robert Mitchel, James Bennock and John Edgar, who were all brought out, and shot dead, without giving them time to pray; this was also Anno 1685.

He likewise caused shoot John Hunter, for no other cause but running out from the house at Corehead.

The same Colonel [James Douglas], Lieut. Livingston, and Coronet [>p40.] Dundasse, surprized and shot six men at prayer, at the Calduns, in the Parish of Minnigaff, viz. James Dun, Robert Dun, Andrew Mackliale, Thomas Stevenson, John Maclude and John Stevenson, in January 1685.

He caused also take Adam Macquhan out of his bed, sick of a fever, carried him to Newtown of Galloway, and next day shot him dead.

He caused also to be shot Thomas Richard, an old man of seventy years, as he was praying at Cumnock in Kyle.

The said Col. [Douglas] together with the Laird of Lag, and Capt. Winram, did illegally condemn, and inhumanly drown Margaret Lauchlan, upward of sixty years old, and Margaret Wilson about twenty, at Wigton, fastening them to stakes within the sea-mark; all this in 1685.

Wigtown Martyrs

Wigtown Martyrs (Right)

Capt. [Thomas] Douglas finding one Meuse a taylor, merely because he had some pieces of lead belonging to his trade, shot him without further trial betwixt Fleet and Dee in Galloway;

the said Captain and his men shot one Auchinleck a deaf man, for not answering them through defect of hearing, near Carlingwark, Anno 1685.

Sir Robert Dalzel and Lieut. Straten, shot Daniel Mac Michel at Dalveen, in the Parish of Durisdeer in Nithsdale, Jan. 1685.

The same men killed William Adam, hiding himself in a bush at the Walwood in Kyle, Feb. 1685.

Bruce, Captain of Dragoons, took one James Kirke, carried him to Dumfriers, where he kept him prisoner one night, and next day brought him out and shot him without any further process; and the poor man desiring a little time to make his peace with God, this Episcopal missionary, the Captain, answered oftener than once, Devil a peace ye get more made up; correspondent to the worthy saying of the D. of Queensberry, one of the great patrons of the Prelatical clergy new, who answered one that came to beg a reprieve for some that were thus precipitantly condemned, that They should have no more time to prepare for Heaven, Hell was good enough for them. Craick of Steuarton hindered some gentlewomen that attempted to beg [>p.41.] his life; and Sir Robert Dalzel’s second son was one of them that shot him, and that without command; this was June 1685.

This same Captain [Bruce] surprised and shot John Wallace, one Edgar, and another in the field, in the parish of Kirpatrick in Galloway, Feb. 1685.

He also caused Thomas Machaffy, sick of a fever, to be taken out of his bed, and shot instantly in the parish of Straiton, in Carrick, January 1686,

Coronet Dundasse, caused shoot John Semple, essaying to escape out of a window, in the parish of Delly, anno 1685.

He also shot Edward Macken, without any trial, meerly because he had a flint about him, February 1685.

Lieutenant General Drummond

Lr-Gen. William Drummond

Lieutenant General [William] Drummond, commanded John Murchy and Daniel Mackilwreek, to be immediately shot, after they were taken near Camonel in Carrick, anno 1685; and at the same time his soldiers shot Alexander Lin.

Captain Inglis, a profane ruffian, one of the first of the Episcopal missionaries, with his Dragoons, killed James Smith, at the Burn of Ann, in Kyle 1684.

His son [Cornet Peter Inglis] killed one John Smith in Cunningham, in 1685; as also one James White, striking off his head with an ax, brought it to New-mills, and played at the football with it, anno 1685. He killed also one John Barrie, in Evandale, with his pass in his hand, April 1685.

Major [John] Balfour, Captain [John] Maitland, and their party, shot Robert Tam, John Urie, and Thomas Cook, at Pomadee, near Glasgow, as about their work, May 1685.

Col. [Thomas] Buchan, and the Laird of Lee, shot John Smith, in the parish of Lesmahago, February 1685.

Lieutenant Nisbet and his party, shot to death John Ferguson, George Whiteburn, and Patrick Gemmil, in the parish of Fennick, in 1685.

Lieutenant Murray, shot one John Brown, after quarters given at Blackwood in Clidsdale, March 1685.

Lieutenant Crichton did the like to David Steel, in the parish of Lesmahago, December 1686.

The Laird of Steenhouse, Sir Robert Laurie of Maxweltown, and Craick of Stewarton, [>p.42.] urged Coronet [John] Baily’s party of Dragoons, to shoot William Smith of Hill, and refused to let him be buried in the Church-yard.

Sir James Johnston of Westerhall, urged Claverhouse’ troops to shoot Andrew Hislop, in so much that Claverhouse said, His blood should be on Sir James’s head, May, 1685.

Sir Robert Griersn of Lag, with part of Claverhouse’s and Strachan’s men, surprised John Bell of Whiteside, David Haliday of Mayfield, Andrew Maccrabeit, James Crabeit, James Clement, and Robert Lennox of Irlinton, and barbarously killed them after quarters, without allowing them time to pray; which when John Bell of Whiteside begged, Sir Robert answered, What devil have you been doing, have you not prayed enugh these many years in the hills? and so shot him presently in the parish of Tongland in Galloway, February 1685.

The said Laird of Lag did also hang Alexander Melluby, and John Gordon, at the Miltown of Air, without any trial, and caused them afterward to be hung on a tree, at the kirk of Iron Gray, where he left them hanging.

He also pursued another, David Haliday, and George Short, apprehended and shot them in the night, in the parish of Wynhame, in Galloway, anno 1685.

The laird of Culyan, with a troop of horse, killed William Mckergour, at Blairquhan-mill, anno 1685; and Gilbert Macadam, in the parish of Kirkmichael, July 1685.


A party of Highlanders killed Joseph Wilson, David Dun, Simeon Paterson, and two more [John Jamieson and John Umphrey], near the water of Kill, anno 1685.

About that time another party of Highlandmen [under Ardincaple] killed Robert Lockhart, and Gabriel Thompson;

and a little after William Paterson was shot at Strevin, and John Maclorgan shot at Drummellian’s house in the night, not known by whom.

And in June 1688, John Reid shot George Wood, a boy of sixteen years old, without asking one question at him.

The number of those murdered thus, as above-said, without any legal process, is Seventy-eight.’

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