The Covenanter James Renwick’s Tree in Moniaive #History #Scotland

•July 11, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Renwick Tree 2Renwick’s Tree in 2006

It is a curious fact, that James Renwick, the minister of the Covenanters, has remarkably few places named after him considering his central role in their struggle in the 1680s. That stands in marked contrast to Alexander Peden, whom Renwick opposed, who has a plethora of trees, caves and stones associated with him. One reason for that may be that Peden’s wanderings through the landscape had a superb and evocative publicist in the form of Patrick Walker, whose Life of Peden was a very popular work in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

One place where Renwick is remembered in the landscape is at his place of birth, Moniaive, in his native parish of Glencairn in Dumfriesshire. There a monument was erected ‘about 100 yards from the place where he is supposed to have been born’ just over the hill to the north of the monument.

Thanks to Evelyn Boyes who posted about Renwick’s Tree on the ‘Moniaive, Dunscore and the Cairn Valley down to Newbridge’ Facebook page, we can now add another and more interesting site dedicated to Renwick at Moniaive.

Renwick TreeRenwick’s Tree Replanted

According to Evelyn:

‘A gean, or wild cherry tree, was said to stand on the site of the garden of Renwick’s birthplace. A replacement tree was planted in the 20th century.’

‘The first photo [above] is of the [re]planting ceremony. I am afraid I can’t find my reference to the date [of the replanting ceremony] at the moment.’

The original ‘gean, or wild cherry tree’ appears to have been replaced at some point soon after 1910.

Map of Renwick’s Tree

Aerial View of Renwick’s Tree

The original tree was first recorded in 1910:

‘James Renwick was born in a cottage on the lands of Neise, near Moniaive, on the 15th day of February, 1662. No trace of the cottage itself remains, but an aged gean tree is said to occupy what was once a corner of the garden plot, and almost within living memory some of the gooseberry bushes still occupied the ground. The cottage was, no doubt, one of several which, tradition tells us, stood near the old line of roadway on the side of the Schlenders Hill’ (Corrie, Glencairn (Dumfriesshire); the annals of an inland parish (1910), 65.)


‘THE SCLENERS OR SCHLENDERS. A name applied to the roadway running past Broomfield in the direction of James Renwick’s birthplace. It is said that a line of houses once stood here. The name “Scleners” means “shingle on the face of a cliff,” and was no doubt descriptive of the place at the time it was bestowed.’ (Corrie, Glencairn, 160.)

Finding Renwick’s Tree
From the road in Moniaive known as “The Course” there is a track, known as The Schlenders, that leads off uphill between Broomfield and Broomfield Bank. The tree is in the field beside it near the end on the north side and just behind the wall. The tree stands on the other side of the hill that the monument is located on.

Return to Homepage

The Covenanter’s Grave in Bathgate #History #Scotland

•June 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Covenanters Preaching

The killing of James Davie at a field preaching in Bathgate parish is a complicated case to unravel. It was first recorded in Ridpath’s list of the victims of the Killing Times in 1693. A decade or so later, Adam Blackadder wrote a detailed narrative account of it and soon after that Wodrow briefly wrote up his brief version of the event. All of the sources tell broadly the same story, but differ over who was responsible for the shooting of Davie.

The final and fourth source for his death, the inscription on his grave in Bathgate, adds to the confusion over who was responsible.

4. The Covenanter’s Grave in Bathgate
Davie is buried at Old Bathgate Parish Church under flat stone in centre of churchyard to the south of the church. The church lies beside Edinburgh Road, i.e., the A89.

Street View of Old Bathgate Parish Church

The inscription on the gravestone is as follows:

‘Here lies the Body
who was Shot at
Blackdub April
1673 by HERON
for his adhering to
the word of GOD
and Scotlands co
venanted work of
Reformation in
Opposition to POPE

Repaired by a Few Men
in this PARISH.’

Like Ridpath and Wodrow, the grave names him as ‘James Davie’. However, it adds the unique details that he was ‘shot at Blackdub April 1673 by Heron’. Who Heron was is not known. Blackadder states he was killed by dragoons under Lieutenant Inglis. The date for his death of April, 1673, accords with the date range found in Blackadder, even though the inscriber of the gravestone did not use Blackadder as a source for the inscription, but it is too early a date for the March, 1675, date that an analysis of Blackadder’s account suggests.

Most of the inscription is of a generic character and of no historical use when it comes to evaluating what Davie actually believed. However, it does tell us what those who created it believed that David had died for.


The Shooting of Davie
According to the gravestone, Davie was shot at ‘Blackdub’, a farm in Bathgate parish, Linlithgowshire.

‘Blackdubb’ appears on Roy’s map of the mid eighteenth century. The placename – Black ‘Dub’ – probably means a ‘black stagnant pool’, which is exactly what one would expect for a location beside a moss or muir. The moss beside Blackdub is known as the Black Moss.

Map of former site of Blackdub

‘Blackdub’ and other farms around it also appear on Thomson’s map of 1832. On that map it lay further south from the road and close to, if not at, Netherhouses.

The placename ‘Blackdub’ had vanished by the time of the first OS map in the mid nineteenth century, by which time, a railway had been built across the farm. Today, that stretch of rail line has been reopened and runs between the stations at Blackridge and Armadale.

According to Blackadder’s account, Blackdub was where John Blackadder preached in 1670 and Archibald Riddell, probably in March, 1675.

Blackdub was a classic location for a field preaching, as it sat by the march boundary with Shotts parish in Lanarkshire. James Renwick later preached further west on the march boundary at Brounrigg and to the northwest at Blackloch. The Peden Stone at Benhar lies further south on the same boundary and beyond it are the sites of Donald Cargill’s field preachings at Starryshaw and Falla Hills.

Old Mortality 2

The Date of the Gravestone
When a gravestone to Davie first appeared is not clear. A series of at least two, and probably three, stones have marked his grave.

Today, a modern granite stone (see half way down link) erected by the Scottish Covenanter Memorial Association after 2011, marks his grave. It sits beside an earlier, ‘repaired’ stone at the site.

The inscription on the ‘repaired’ stone probably points to the existence of an earlier gravestone, probably the first and original stone, with a similar inscription that contained nearly the same content minus the phrase ‘Repaired by a Few Men in this PARISH.’

That earlier stone was probably ‘repaired’ in the nineteenth century, when many other stones were repaired or replaced. In practice, ‘repaired’ may well mean that the stone was replaced. Judging from photographs of the ‘repaired’ stone in 2011, the lettering used looks to me like it is in a more modern form than which was used in the early eighteenth century.

Written Sources for the Stone
Records for the gravestone certainly exist from the mid nineteenth century. The inscription and grave are not recorded in the tenth edition of Cloud of Witnesses in 1794, but they are in later nineteenth century editions, the mid-nineteenth century OS name book and the New Statistical Account in 1845.

The latter records that:

‘Some of the inhabitants of this parish suffered hardship and loss in the time of the Covenanters. One man, by name James Davie, was shot by one of a party of dragoons, who dispersed a congregation assembled in a hollow on the farm of Blackdub, in the western part of the parish. The worshippers had escaped across a strip of deep moss, which interposed an effectual obstacle to the progress of their mounted pursuers. But while they stood on the other side gazing at their enemies, and thinking themselves quite safe, the troopers fired their carbines at them across the moss. The only shot that took effect killed Davie. His body lies in the old churchyard of Bathgate, with this inscription, “Here lies the body of James Davie, who was shot at Blackdub, April 1673, by Heron, for his adhering to the word of God and Scotland’s covenanted work of Reformation, in opposition to Popery, Prelacy, perjury, and tyranny.” (New Statistical Account, Linlithgowshire, 157-8.)

The New Statistical Account version of Davie’s death is similar to that found in Blackadder’s “Memoirs” with a few minor variations.

The content of the inscription almost certainly predates the publication by Crichton of Blackadder’s Memoirs in the 1820s, as it records that ‘Heron’, rather than Lieutenant Inglis, was responsible for the shooting. It is clear that the inscription and Blackadder’s account of c.1700 were not influenced by each other. The inscription also differs from the version published by Wodrow, as the latter claimed that Thomas Kennoway was responsible for Davie’s death.

The rhetoric of the inscription against Catholicism, Episcopacy and the alleged tyranny of the Stuart kings indicates that the earlier stone was erected at some point after the Revolution of 1689 to 1690, almost certainly in the eighteenth century.

From the content of the inscription, it is possible that the gravestone was not erected by the “Continuing” Society people in the early eighteenth century. They used a fairly rigid formula when it came to their stones, which included a passage of information based on Shields’ A Short Memorial, which was not available in this case, the claim that the martyr died for Scotland’s Covenanted Work of Reformation, which does appear, and a poem about the martyr, often on the reverse, which is entirely missing in this case. That may point to a date a bit later in the eighteenth century for the creation of the original gravestone.

For more on the Covenanters in Bathgate parish, see here.

Return to Homepage

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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

Who shot James Davie ‘dead on the spot’ near Bathgate? #History #Scotland

•June 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

James Davie

Who shot James Davie ‘dead on the spot’ at a field preaching near Bathgate? The third source for James Davie’s death does not alter the fundamentals of the story, but it does change who was held responsible for the killing.

3. Wodrow’s History
The Reverend Robert Wodrow’s History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland mentions Davie’s death briefly in a passage on the many alleged crimes of Thomas Kennoway, who was assassinated by the Society people in November, 1684:

‘At one time he attacked a meeting in the parish of Bathgate, and shot one James Davie, an heritor of that parish, dead in the spot, and took fourteen prisoners, who were afterwards sent off from the kingdom.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 152.)

Wodrow goes to considerable lengths to traduce Kennoway’s name, perhaps because the Society people killed him at Swine Abbey in Livingston parish.

Wodrow does not give a date for the attack on the conventicle that killed Davie, but it falls in his narrative of Kennoway’s crimes between 1666 and 1679, i.e., the same broad time frame that was given in Ridpath’s list of the dead.

The inscription on Davie’s grave claims he was shot in April, 1673. However, one reading of the historical evidence found in Blackadder’s “Memoirs” indicates that he was probably killed in March, 1675.

Wodrow appears to recycle a phrase used by Blackadder when he claims that Kennoway ‘shot one James Davie, an heritor of that parish, dead in the spot’, as Blackadder used a similar phrase that ‘an heritor in Bathgate parish, called John Davie, and killed him dead on the spot’. Wodrow held a copy of Adam Blackadder’s account of John Blackadder’s sufferings and it may influenced his brief passage on Davie. However, he may well have been using a different source for the story, as Wodrow called Davie, James, whereas Blackadder called him John. (NLS MSS. Wod.Qu.LXXV, f.355)

For some reason the name of the individual held responsible for Davie’s death appears to have changed from John Inglis of the Dragoons in Blackadder’s version to Thomas Kennoway of the King’s Lifeguards in Wodrow’s version. It appears that Wodrow was reusing source material in his collection of manuscripts that was primarily about Kennoway, rather than Davie. Who ever wrote that source material simply recorded Davie as one of Kennoway’s victims.

Wodrow’s claim that fourteen prisoners were taken and then banished may either be an expansion of the statement in Blackadder that prisoners were taken, or reflect what his source material said. As fourteen prisoners from the Linlithgow area were banished by Robert Malloch at a much later date in 1684, it is possible that Davie’s death in the 1670s has been conflated with the later banishment of fourteen prisoners. Whether Kennoway was involved in the banishment, or not, is not clear. He is said to have been active in repression of the Covenanters from 1666 to in 1684. If he was involved, that may be the reason why his name became attached to Davie’s death. However, Kennoway was also a renowned local persecutor, even though he was not commissioned as an officer in the King’s Lifeguards. His local notoriety may have been a factor in linking him to the killing of Davie.

What is clear is that the claim in Blackadder that the ‘dragoons’ of ‘Lieutenant’ Inglis were responsible for killing Davie is not as reliable as it appears. Kennoway and His Majesty’s Troop of Lifeguards, who were also a mounted unit, may be the unit attacked the conventicle, but Wodrow’s account is equally open to question. To make matters worse, the fourth source for the killing, the inscription on Davie’s gravestone in Bathgate, states that someone called ‘Heron’ shot him.

It is impossible to resolve the question of who killed Davie when all the sources disagree.

Return to Homepage

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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

Blackadder’s Killing of a Bathgate Covenanter #History #Scotland

•June 21, 2016 • 3 Comments

Killing Times Covenanters

The killing of James Davie at a field preaching in the 1670s was first recorded by Ridpath in 1693. However, a second source for the killing may contain new and important information…

Blackadder’s “Memoirs”
The second source for Davie’s death are the so-called “Memoirs” of the field preacher, John Blackadder, which record Davie’s first name as John, rather than James.

Blackadder’s “Memoirs” is a complex source, as they were compiled in the 1820s from two documents. First, an ‘Account of Mr Blackader’s Sufferings’, which was written by Adam Blackadder, John’s son, at some point in the decades after the Revolution. Second, memoirs that John Blackadder wrote while he was a prisoner on the Bass Rock between 1682 and his death in 1685. The passages that mention ‘John Davie’, quoted below, both appear to come from the pen of Adam Blackadder.

The “Memoirs” provide a detailed account of Davie’s death:

‘The following year a large conventicle was kept at Bathgate [parish] by Mr [Archibald] Riddell. “A party of dragoons commanded by one Lieutenant [John] Inglis, who kept garrison in Mid-calder, made search for them in the moors. The meeting had notice of them, but hearing they were at a distance, and, as some reported, returning to their quarters again, they were the more secure, and continued their worship. But within a little they appeared in sight, and that near, ere they knew. Upon which, the most part got over a bog hard by, where horse could not follow: But many stood on the other side, thinking themselves safe. Meantime the dragoons came up and apprehended several on the spot, among others, [John?] Sandilands, Lady Hilderstone’s brother[in-law?, who was brought before the privy council in 1675?]. Then they approached to the side of the bog, and shot over among the people, as they usually basely did, on such occasions, to shoot bullets among such a promiscuous multitude of men, women, and children, though they found them without arms. One of their shot lighted on ane honest man, an heritor in Bathgate parish, called John Davie, and killed him dead on the spot. They carried their prisoners to the garrison at Calder, with a great booty of cloaks, plaids, bibles, and what else they could lay their hands on, spoiling the poor people as they had got the victory over a foreign enemy: This was the ordinary practice; however, the minister [i.e., Riddell] escaped among others.”’ (Blackadder, Memoirs, 157-8.)

The “Memoirs” indicate that Davie attended a field preaching held by Archibald Riddell somewhere in Bathgate parish in Linlithgowshire. False reports misled those attending the conventicle into the belief that John Inglis’ company of dragoons had abandoned their search of the moors and returned to their base at Mid Calder. When the dragoons appeared in sight, most of the field preaching withdrew across a bog for safety, but some who remained at the preaching site were captured. When the dragoons fired across the bog, Davie was killed.

The text added at the beginning of the “Memoirs” account of Davie’s death does not give a precise date for the preaching, as it only notes that it was in the ‘following year’, which from the flow of the narrative was apparently a year after 1671 and before 1674.

Besides Davie, the account names four others in connection with the field preaching.

1. Archibald Riddell
Archibald Riddell was an active field preacher in the 1670s. A later field preaching by him was also attacked by troops in May, 1679. After the defeat at Bothwell Brig, he abandoned field preaching, following the minsters’ agreement with Monmouth, in favour of house conventicles. He was apprehended in September, 1680, and had a conference with one of the militant prisoners Robert Garnock at the end of that year.

Riddell rejected the militancy of Cameron and Cargill and he attempted to persuade some Cameronian/Cargillite prisoners to recant their militant beliefs in 1681. He was confined to his house under a bond of 10,000 merks, but after breaking his conditions was sent to the Bass Rock before he accepted banishment to the Americas in 1685.

2. John Inglis
Lieutenant John Inglis is said to have been the commander of the garrison of ‘dragoons’ in Mid Calder that attacked Riddell’s field preaching.

Inglis was appointed as a captain of a company of dragoons, when companies of dragoons were first raised, in May, 1678. What rank or position he held before that and at the time of Davie’s death is not clear. He appears to have been an ensign in a new company of foot guards in September, 1674, which suggests either that Inglis was not a lieutenant in the dragoons in the early 1670s, or that Davie was killed at a date some time after September 1674. (Dalton, Scots Army, 22.)

The confusion in the “Memoirs” over both ‘Lieutenant’ Inglis and the involvement of ‘dragoons’ in the early 1670s indicates that the account found in Blackadder is not a reliable guide as which unit took part in Davie’s death.

Inglis later commanded dragoons at the Battle of Bothwell Brig in 1679 and was one of the key field commanders in the hunt for fugitive Covenanters afterwards. His troop are said to have been responsible for capture of Thomas Richard and killing of James Smith in 1685. His son, Cornet Peter Inglis, in the same troop, is also said to have killed several martyrs. In late April, 1685, John Inglis lost his commission in the dragoons after armed Covenanters raided the Ducat Tower in Newmilns and rescued prisoners.

3. Elizabeth Cunningham, Lady Hilderston
Lady Hilderston is also mentioned in the “Memoirs”, but it is not clear if she was present at the preaching. Hilderston lies in Torphichen parish, Linlithgowshire, which is the neighbouring parish to Bathgate. Today the site of Old Hilderston, a ruined house and steading, lies to the north of Hilderston Farm. An early seventeenth-century silver mine nearby also bears the name.

Map of Hilderston

William Sandilands of Hilderston, was the third son of James, second Lord Torphichen (d.1617). He married Elizabeth Cunningham, second daughter of John Cunningham of Cunninghamhead (d.c.1640) in Dreghorn parish in Ayrshire, in 1641. She is the Lady Hilderston referred to in the “Memoirs”.

Their eldest son, William Sandilands, was commissioned as a Captain of foot for service out with Scotland on 14 March, 1672. He may have died soon after. (Dalton, Scots Army, 95; Burke, A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Extinct and Dormant Baronetcies, 619.)

Another son, Walter Sandilands, [younger?] of Hilderston, married, Anna Hamilton, daughter and heiress of James Hamilton of Westport, on 13 December, 1674. In consequence, he assumed the name and arms of Hamilton. (Wodrow, History, III, 441.)

Lady Hilderston was fined on 12 May, 1670, for a house conventicle held at Hilderston on 8 May. (Wodrow, History, II, 151; Genealogies of New Jersey Families, 486.)

The Blackadder Connection
It is at this point that the evidence takes a very interesting turn that forges a connection between the John Blackadder of the “Memoirs”, Lady Hilderston and the site for Davie’s later death at Blackdub.

According to the “Memoirs”, John Blackadder preached at Hilderston House and ‘Black Dub’ in May 1671. However, it is clear that the “Memoirs” were in error about the date, as both those preachings clearly took place in May, 1670, when Lady Hilderston was fined:

‘In the spring of 1671[, an error for 1670], Mr Blackader again visited Borrowstouness and the neighbourhood. He went to visit Lady Hilderstone; and being indisposed, intended to remain private. But on Sabbath morning early [of 8 May, 1670], the house was surrounded with multitudes [of hearers]’.

Faced with such a throng, Blackadder preached to a crowd of over eight hundred that occupied the house and yard. (Blackadder, Memoirs, 153-4.)

The Hilderston house conventicle brought the wrath of the authorities down on the locality. Lady Hilderston and others were fined immediately afterwards, but Blackadder was not finished.

Near BlackdubNear Blackdub © Richard Webb and licensed for reuse.

‘Scarcely three weeks after the meeting at Hilderstone [House], Mr Blackader preached in the same neighbourhood, at the Black Dub in Livingstone [parish]. “It was a moorish place, where they could have no drink nor well of water, and nothing except new beer, which he could not make use of. It happened to be [Sunday] the 29th of May [1670], the usual day of their rant [for the King’s Birthday/celebration of the Restoration]. He left Edinburgh at four o’clock in the mornings when the cannons of the castle were shot as usual. He returned at ten in the evenings when the cannons were shooting again for the closing that day’s rant. The reason why he went and came back the same day, was his tender respect for the people, lest, by his lodging among them, or in any of their houses, they might be fined for reset and converse” (Blackadder, Memoirs, 156.)

‘Black Dub’ does not lie in Livingston parish, as the “Memoirs” claim, but in Bathgate parish. The farm there lay just over a kilometre to the north of the northern boundary of what was Livingston parish in the 1670s.


‘Blackdubb’ lay just to the south of the kink in the road between Northrigg Farm and Stonerigg on the edge of Armadale. The farm was located in a gap between two bogs.

Map of former site of Blackdub

Blackdub was, and still is in places free of conifer plantations, a ‘moorish place’ with muirs that extend to the south and west of the former site of the farm that straddle the march boundary with Lanarkshire. Where precisely Blackadder’s preaching took place is not clear, but it was presumably close to the moorland on the farm.

According to the gravestone for James Davie, he was shot at Blackdub.

The Kin of James Davie near Hilderston
The “Memoirs” claim that ‘John Davie’, i.e., the James Davie named in other sources, was a ‘heritor in Bathgate parish’.

James Davie may be related to a John Davie, a presbyterian dissenter in Bathgate parish, who had a child, Janet, baptised at a field preaching held on 5 January, 1679. John Davie appears to have married Janet Thomson of Torphichen parish in April 1678. In 1702, a John Davie ‘in Braehead’ used the mort cloth of Torphichen parish.

The farm at Braehead has now vanished, but it lay in Bathgate parish. In an intriguing coincidence, it also lay close to Hilderston in Torphichen parish.

Map of former site of Braehead

James Davie may also have been related to a Christian Davie in Bathgate parish who married George Martine in Torphichen parish in December 1677.

Martine appears to have been a moderate-presbyterian dissenter immediately before the Revolution. George Martine had a daughter, Anna, baptised at a presbyterian meeting house at ‘Hilderstone House’ on 14 March, 1688. The minister who conducted the baptism was probably Alexander Hastie.

Soon after the Revolution, George Martine ‘in Hilderstonhills’ used Torphichen’s mort cloth ‘for a child’ on 10 February, 1689.

The above suggests that potential kin of James Davie were presbyterian dissenters who lived in the vicinity of Hilderston, which clearly was a centre of presbyterian dissent between 1670 and the Revolution.

When Did James Davie Die?
Remarkably, there may be a new date for Davie’s killing due to the probable identification of the fourth person named at the field preaching.

‘[——-] Sandilands, Lady Hilderstone’s brother’, is the last individual named as present at Riddell’s field preaching where Davie died. The identification of Sandilands suggests that Davie died, not in 1673, as his gravestone states, but in March, 1675.

Wodrow’s History records that John Sandilands, who may have been one of the prisoners probably taken at the preaching where Davie was killed, was before the privy council on 6 August 1675, for ‘being at a conventicle in Bathgate, in the beginning of the year’. From complaints about the field preaching, it appears to have taken place in March. Sandilands was fined 3,000 merks. (Wodrow, History, II, 295, 389, 398.)

A New Perspective on Davie’s Killing
When carefully sifted and compared to reliable sources, our understanding of the version of Davie’s death in the “Memoirs” is transformed. James Davie, an alleged heritor in Bathgate parish, probably had dissenting kin both near to, and connected with, Hilderston. He was shot at a field preaching held by Archibald Riddell at Blackdub, a known field-preaching site used by John Blackadder in 1670 in Bathgate parish. Although his grave suggests he was killed in 1673, the evidence of the presence of Sandilands, Lady Hilderston’s brother-in-law, at the fatal preaching and the probable record of his appearance before the privy council, clearly indicate that Davie was shot at a field preaching in March, 1675.

However, the “Memoirs” claim that ‘Lieutenant’ Inglis and his ‘dragoons’ were responsible for Davie’s death is clearly unreliable, as dragoon units were not established in Scotland until 1678.

The third source for Davie’s death, Wodrow’s History, claims that a different man, Thomas Kennoway, was responsible for the killing. The final source for Davie’s death, the inscription on his grave, identifies a mysterious individual named ‘Heron’ as responsible for the killing.

Return to Homepage

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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

The Killing of James Davie near Bathgate #History #Scotland

•June 13, 2016 • 3 Comments

Covenanters Preaching

James Davie was killed by musket fire while attending a field preaching in Bathgate parish in the 1670s. At least that is broadly agreed among the sources for his death, but little else is…

His death at the hands of government forces was probably accidental, but it was also unusual. He was not a victim of the Pentland Rising of 1666 or the Killing Times of 1684 to 1685. He was not a fugitive. He was not one of the Society people, who appeared after the date of his killing. Whether he was a Covenanter or not is an open question, as we do not know what his views were. He presumably had Presbyterian sympathies, as he died at an illegal field preaching.

There are four historical sources for Davie’s death: George Ridpath’s list, John Blackadder’s “Memoirs, Wodrow’s History and his gravestone in Bathgate. The stories they tell appear to come from the same root, but they branch out in different directions.

Due to the complex nature of those sources, it is probably best to deal with each source in turn in a separate post. The earliest source for his death was published in 1693:

1. An Answer to the Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence (1693)
In 1693, George Ridpath included Davie among those ‘Murdered in Cold Blood’:

‘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]’.

Ridpath’s inclusion of Davie among the dead is remarkable, as his list of those killed was almost completely derived from Alexander Shields’ A Short Memorial of 1690, which did not record Davie’s death. Ridpath also added the death of David Finlay (d.1666) in a similar way. The deaths of Davie and Finlay both predate the 1682 start date of the list in Shields.

However, Ridpath’s information was also fairly mundane, as Davie was just one among ‘several others’ who died at field preachings.

In summary, Ridpath indicates that ‘James Davie in Bathgate parish’ was ‘shot’ at a field preaching at some point after 1666 and before June 1679.

The second source for Davie’s death, Blackadder’s Memoirs, tells a far more detailed story.

Return to Homepage

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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

The Kersland Connection: Covenanters Against the Union in 1707 #History #Scotland #Ayrshire

•June 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Sometimes in history, it is the ability to recognise an intriguing fact among mundane data that matters. It is a moment of revelation, a confirmation of an intuition, that advances your thinking. This is one of those moments. It is about the veracity of a spy’s account of the plots against the Union of 1707…

Kersland CastleRuins of Kersland Castle

It is only a small step forward, but it is an interesting one.

Its importance lies in the context. Between 1706 and 1707 there are rumoured to have been plots to overthrow the Union, initially involving the Cameronian McMillanites, the Hebronites, disaffected presbyterians in the West and the Jacobites. In response to the threat they posed to the Union, the governments of Scotland and England utilised spies and double agents – Daniel Defoe, John Pierce, John Ker of Kersland, Cunningham of Aiket – to deflect the militant presbyterian factions either from initiating, or joining, an insurrection.

Some of the agents involved left accounts of their activities. The veracity of the account left by John Ker of Kersland in particular, who claimed he successfully talked the Cameronians out of joining an insurrection, has come under sustained historical criticism. (For a quick outline of Kersland’s career, see here.)

It has proved difficult for historians to find any corroborating evidence for where and when Kersland actually met with the militants, as he claimed he did.

However, evidence that Kersland almost certainly met with John MacMillan, the minister of the Cameronian Societies/McMillanites, does exist.

It is found in Henry Paton (ed.), Register of the Rev. John MacMillan Being a Record of Marriages and Baptisms solemnised by him among the Cameronian Societies, (Edinburgh, 1908.).

At first sight, a register of baptisms seems an unlikely source for such information, but in the course of MacMillan’s itinerant ministry he also recorded where and when he baptised children. In other words, MacMillan’s register serves as a kind of road map to, and calendar of, his travels. It places him at a particular place on a specific date.

At the beginning of McMillan’s ministry among the Society people in late 1706 and early 1707, he mainly performed baptisms of the children of Society people who had refused to have their infants baptised by any minister since the bulk of the Society people had rejoined the post-Revolution Church in late 1690. In that initial wave of baptisms, some of the children were no longer infants. On one occasion, “the child” was sixteen, old enough to regarded as an adult and able to put themselves forward for baptism.

The entry in the register of particular interest took place ‘at Kersland in the paroch of Dalray, March 16, 1707.’

Kersland was the home of John Ker of Kersland in Dalry parish, Ayrshire.

The 16 March, 1707, was a Sunday. It appears that MacMillan preached on that day at Kersland, as baptisms on the Sabbath were usually linked to a preaching. It is clear that MacMillan’s presence at Kersland also featured a gathering of the Cameronian Society people.

The distribution of the parents of those baptised in the entry in the register of baptisms confirms that a gathering took place:

Kersland, Dalry parish, Ayrshire, 16 March, 1707

‘John Walker in the paroch of Calder [in Lanarkshire]:—John, aged 12 [i.e., born c.1695].
Margaret Urie in the paroch of Kilbryd [in Lanarkshire]:—Robert, aged 11; David, aged 6 quarters.
George Young in the paroch of Finick [in Ayrshire]:—James, aged 7; Robert, aged 4.
Janet Stinstoun in the paroch of Nilstoun [in Renfrewshire]:—James, aged 4; Janet, aged 2 and 6 months.
Mathew Flager in the paroch of Cragie [in Ayrshire]:—Elizabeth, aged 10.’ (Paton (ed.), Register of the Rev. John MacMillan, 5-6.)

The age range of those baptised probably indicates that the 16 March, 1707, was McMillan’s first preaching in that part of Ayrshire after he first preached among the Cameronians in December, 1706.

Kersland, now East Kersland, was the former manor house or castle of Daniel Ker of Kersland (d.1692) and from 1697, of the spy, John Ker of Kersland. In 1703, John Ker had changed his name from Crawford he after married Anna Ker, the sister of both Daniel Ker and  Margaret Ker. The latter was married to Thomas Linning, whom Daniel Defoe declared was a firebrand against the Union in 1706.

The connections between John Ker of Kersland and the Cameronians do not end there. He was also via another of his wife’s younger sisters, Jean Ker, the brother-in-law of Major William Borthwick of Johnstonburn, who was also a commander of the Cameronian Regiment. And, via Elizabeth Ker, yet another of his wife’s younger sisters, the brother-in-law of Alexander Porterfield, merchant in Glasgow, who potentially may be the same individual as Alexander Porterfield, a delegate to the general meetings of the Cameronians.

John Ker of Kersland had extensive and intimate connections into both the Cameronian Societies and the Cameronian Regiment.

Map of Kersland                     Street View of Kersland

Kersland was also where John Wilson (d.1713.), a delegate in the general meetings of the Cameronians, was a gardener between c.1690 and at least c.1696. It is not clear if Wilson remained there after John Ker of Kersland purchased the estate in 1697. If Wilson did remain at Kersland as a gardener, then he was clearly a potential point of contact between Kersland and the Cameronian leadership.

Three years after the baptisms at Kersland, MacMillan also baptised at Kersland Mill.

‘At Kersland milln’, Dalry parish, Ayrshire, Wednesday 8 November, 1710.
‘Hector Thomson in Kilmawers had a daughter baptised called Jean, born the 12 of September, 1710.’

Kersland Mill was the home John Millar, another delegate in the general meetings of the Cameronians. As the Mill was part of the estate of the John Ker of Kersland, it is clear that Kersland had other potential points of contact with the leadership of the Cameronians.

On the following day, 9 November 1710, the register records that MacMillan baptised ‘at Ramstone’, aka. ‘Ramstane’:

‘Joseph Francis in Irvine :—Joseph, 11 weeks old.
Hector Thomson in Kilmawers :—Jean, 8 weeks old.’ [a duplicate entry of the baptism on the previous day]

Joseph Francis was another delegate to the general meetings of the Cameronians. He subscribed the call to MacMillan in October 1706, that led to MacMillan preaching to the Cameronians from December, 1706.

Ramstane lies by the Annick Water in Dreghorn parish. It is not named on the modern OS map.

Map of Ramstane                     Street View of Ramstane

Kersland-Peden Connections

Peden’s Point, a traditional site in Dalry parish, is linked to the preaching of Alexander Peden, who knew Daniel Ker of Kersland after the defeat of the Argyll Rising in mid 1685.

John Ker of Kersland reported two stories about Peden’s last sermon and his burials in his memoirs. The second of those stories is connected in later tradition to Peden’s Tree in Auchinleck.

Return to Homepage

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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



How the Covenanters of the Killing Times got their Gravestones #History #Scotland

•June 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Old Mortality 2

The 1701 general meetings of the Cameronians decided to record and mark the graves of the martyrs of the Killing Times of 1685. From the resolutions passed in the meetings below, it appears that two projects for honouring the martyrs ran in parallel. First, discovery of where the martyrs were buried and the erection of headstones on their graves with a suitable inscription. Second, the ongoing gathering of information which was eventually used in A Cloud of Witnesses in 1714.

The resolutions of 1701 were not primarily a search to discover who the martyrs were. Much of the key information which ended up inscribed upon many of the early martyr graves came from a list in Alexander Shields’ A Short Memorial published in 1690, which was based on information gathered in the late 1680s. Shields’ list essentially gave the names of the martyrs, who was deemed responsible for their deaths and where and when they died.

One way that we can tell that Shields was the source for some of the details in the inscriptions is that on occasion they included typographic errors in the published list without checking Shields’ errata.

Shields’ list was more or less reproduced by the Cameronians in Cloud of Witnesses in 1714. It was also recycled by George Ridpath in An Answer to the Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence of 1693. Shields and/or Cloud of Witnesses were also the source for Daniel Defoe’s “list” published in 1717.

The main contribution of the resolutions passed in 1701 was to establish the location of the martyrs’ graves and to mark them with gravestones. It was that work that informed a list of ‘epitaphs or inscriptions’ attached to the end of Cloud of Witnesses in 1714, which was modified and added to in later editions.

Without the Cameronian resolutions of 1701, we would probably know very little about where the dead of the Killing Times were buried.

Some notes on the resolutions at the Cameronian’s general meetings in 1701 are as follows:

23 General Meeting at Friarminnan, 18 June, 1701.

Hugh Mathie summoned to the next general meeting.

Concluded that all the societies and shire correspondences diligently search ‘for all the graves of the Myrtyrs and their names in particular where they ly, in order for putting ane Remark of Honour upon these graves and this to be taken to Consideration until the next Gen: Meeting.’

Those who were to comply with the Collector of the General meeting were Robert Speirs, Thomas Gillespie, Robert Maxwell (Renfrewshire) and Robert Hamilton.

Mr. Robert Smith was to write a letter to ‘our friends’ in both England [probably the society in Newcastle] and Ireland.

24 General Meeting at Crawfordjohn, 29 October, 1701.
Concluded that all the correspondences ‘provide and make ready Stones as signs of honour to be set upon the graves of the Martyers as soon as possible and also the names of the forsid Martyers with the speaches and Testimony and by whom they were Martyred or Killed in houses or fields, contrey or Citie as far as possible to be brought to the next Gen: Meeting in order for their Epitephs and likewise an account of those Martyrs and Behaviour the time of their Marterdom.’

Members chosen for the committee, later held at Biggar, and a conference with ‘Eskdalemuir’:
James Mundell [in Tinwald parish].
William Stuart [in Galloway].
Joseph Francis, in Irvine, Ayrshire.
‘Robert Munnell’ [or Robert Maxwell? (Renfrewshire)].
Francis Graham.
Mr. James Kid [in the Lothians].
James Currie, in Pentland.
James Olipher, who was possibly the James Olipher banished in 1685.
Robert Hamilton [in Lanarkshire].

Return to Homepage

Picture: Copyright © University of Edinburgh ‘Old Mortality and [Steel engraving by W. H. Lizars after a drawing by William Allan of a scene from Scott’s novel Old Mortality] | William Home Lizars. 1820. Licensed for reuse.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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