A Rain of Fish in Scotland

•May 20, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Rain of Fish

The story of the rain of fish was recorded by Andrew Symson, the minister of Kirkinner parish, in his description of Minnigaff parish, Galloway, of 1684:

‘In the moors of this parish of Monnygaffe not many years since, at a place called La Spraig, not far from the water of Munnach [i.e., the Water of Minnoch], but sixteen miles distant from the sea, there fell a shower of herring, which were seen by creditable persons, who related the story to me, some of the said herring were as I am informed, taken to [Alexander Stewart] the Earl of Galloways house and shown to him.’ (Symson, A Large Description of Galloway, 32.)



‘La Spraig’ is, or rather was, Lochspraig, a farm which by the mid nineteenth century was in ruins and has now disappeared under forestry.

Map of former site of Lochspraig                  Aerial View of Lochspraig

A rain of fish is part of a wider meteorological phenomenon of rains of animals. They may be caused by tornadic waterspouts or tornados lifting the fish up into the atmosphere.

Old Track near Lochspraig Galloway Forest

Forest path by Lochspraig © Mary and Angus Hogg and licensed for reuse.

Writing in 1684, Symson does not give a date or year for the Galloway rain of herring beyond it taking place ‘not many years since’. Tornados of any kind are relatively rare in Scotland. It is possible that the rain of herring took place in the same weather conditions that produced the Scottish Tornado of 1678, which appeared in the Firth of Clyde and made landfall east of Dumbarton. A rain of blood was reported near Langholm in 1688.

Later in 1684, Symson was informed against one of the drowned Wigtown martyrs, Margaret McLachlan.

One individual who lived very near to the location for the rain of herring was the forfeited laird, Anthony McKie of Glencaird, who hid at the nearby White Cairn.

For other strange wonders in seventeenth-century Scotland, see here.

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

The Wigtown Martyrs: The ‘Petitione for Margaret Lachlisone’ 28 April, 1685

•May 19, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Wigtown Martyrs

‘“That whereas I being justlie condemned to die be the Lords Commissioners of his Majesties most honorable Privie Counsell and Justitiarie in ane court holden at Wigtoune the threttein day of Apryle instant for my not dissowning that traiterous Apollogeticall Declaratione laitlie affixed at severall paroch churches within this kingdom and my refuising the oath of abjuratione of the saymein, which wes occasioned by my not peruseing the saymein; and now I haveing considdered the said Declaratione doe acknowledge the saymein to be traiterows and tends to nothing but rebellione and seditione and to be quyt contrair wnto the wryt in Word of God, and am content to abjure the same with my whol heart and soull.” She therefore craves the council to consider her case, she being about 70 years of age, and recall the sentence and grant warrant to someone to administer the oath of abjuration to her and liberate her, whereupon she shall live as a good and faithful subject and frequent the ordinances and do what else is prescribed to her. Signed by William Moir, notary, on her behalf because she cannot write; A. Dunbar, witnes; Will. Gordoun, witnes.
(Endorsed) Petitione for Margaret Lachlisone, 1685’.

Margaret McLachlan, or Lachlison, was one of two women said to have been executed by drowning in Wigtown in May, 1685. There are two competing scenarios over where the martyrs were held after they were sentenced to death by drowning at their trial in Wigtown on 13 April, 1685.

According to one scenario advanced by Sheriff Mark Napier in the nineteenth century, the women were taken to Edinburgh at some point after their trial, where a reprieve, the first stage of a pardon, was granted to them on 30 April. For Napier, the granting of a reprieve in Edinburgh clinched his case that the women were not drowned as the Presbyterian sources had claimed.

The other scenario for where the women were held is that they were kept in Wigtown after their trial to await execution.

A key step in the process of trying to obtain a reprieve for the women were petitions from them to the privy council asking for their case to be reconsidered. Only the petition from Margaret McLachlan, or Lauchlison, above, survives in the registers of the privy council. It clearly states that she had changed her mind about refusing the Abjuration oath and that she was, at the time of the petition, willing to take it. Her previous refusal to take the oath was the reason for the death sentence being hand down to her at the Wigtown circuit court. Two days later, the privy council issued a reprieve on behalf of both of the women.

Does the petition of Margaret McLachlan give any indication as to where the women were held in late April, 1685? Yes, it does. From the text of her petition, it is clear that she was interviewed while in prison and that her declaration that she was willing to take the Abjuration oath was recorded, as the petition declares that ‘she cannot write’.

Who conducted the interview and drafted the petition on her behalf? The petition mentions three individuals. William Moir, a notary who recorded the petition ‘on her behalf’ and two witnesses, ‘A. Dunbar’, and William Gordon.

It is absolutely clear that William Moir, the notary who attested the petition, was the same individual as the ‘William Moir, commissar’ listed on the parish list for Wigtown of October, 1684. Moir was a notary who recorded wills etc for the commissary court of Wigtownshire. It is almost certain that Moir and the witnesses interviewed McLachlan in Wigtown’s tolbooth at some point after the trial on 13 April and prior to 28 April, when the petition was recorded by the council in Edinburgh. The evidence of the petition places Margaret McLachlan in prison in Wigtown after her trial, rather than in Edinburgh.

The names of the witnesses may also appear in the Wigtownshire parish lists of October, 1684. It is not clear who they were, but one candidate is perhaps the ‘William Gordon’ recorded on the parish list for the burgh of Wigtown with other Gordons below that of Baillie Alexander Gordon.

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

The Fifth Convention of the Society people at Edinburgh, 11 to 12 October, 1682

•April 28, 2015 • Leave a Comment

The fifth convention in Edinburgh is unusual in that much of the correspondence about it was written before it took place, which suggests that key decisions about the Societies had been taken by a small cabal involving James Renwick prior to the convention. The survival of that correspondence casts the discussions at the convention in a different light.

Condemned Covenanters West Bow Edinburgh

Andrew Young, who was excluded from the fifth convention, had already been active in promoting opposition in Glasgow to Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun’s mission to London and the United Provinces immediately after the second convention.

Prior to the convention, Renwick had written to the societies in Newcastle on 3 October warnng them about hearing John Hepburn and of Andrew Young’s activities.

On the same day he also wrote to Robert Hamilton about what would be done at the convention and mentioned that William Brackel’s letter sent in the later summer had been translated from Latin for circulation through the Societies.

Renwick also wrote in reply to Brackel on 5 October.

Shields’ account of the fifth convention is as follows:

‘A General Meeting did conveen at the time and place above-mentioned; where, after these representing the respective societies had given in their commissions, and the Præses chosen [which was George Hill], he enquired, in order to the knowing that none were there who were guilty of scandal, if any person had ought to object against any present: At which some rose up, and said that Andrew Young who was there representing, the society of Teviotdale had revealed that which he was engaged not to discover; which thing he denied. save only his telling to some, not concerned, of some persons who were present at the publishing of the Lanerk Declaration [in January, 1682]: As also, that he had heard Mr. John Hepburn, against whom there were reasons of withdrawing; which the said Andrew Young granted he did, and yet resolved to go on in the same. After long and hot debating and jangling betwixt him and severals of the meeting, it was at last conducted by them, that the said Andrew Young should be suspended from sitting there, upon the account of joining and resolving to join with the said Mr. John Hepburn, against whom there were several reasons of withdrawing, particularly his not joining and concurring with our late Martyr minister [Donald Cargill and Richard Cameron], in rejecting and disowning the authority of Charles Stuart [i.e., Charles II].— By which joining, he had broken that conclusion of the General Meeting, viz. That nothing should be done by any particular person without the consent os the Society whereof he was a member, in things wherein their knowledge and consent was necessary to be had, &c. After he was acquainted with this, he went away greatly enraged, saying he would oppose himself to them and their doings, which he hath in some measure made out since.

When the confusion occasioned by this debate was over, and nothing found against any of the rest of the [>p.43.] meeting, they proceeded in order to the choosing of the young men who were to go abroad to follow their studies, the doing of which was a great end of appointing this meeting so soon; which was gone about after this manner: First, praying that the Lord would direct them in that weighty affair. Then the young men who were present, arid to be put in the list, were desired to speak their minds, which they did satisfyingly, first of the work they were, to go about; next of the going in such a manner, which was not ordinary. There was six put in the list, (all of a blameless life, and not only of one judgment with themselves, but forward and zealous then, in adhering to, and promoting the Testimony) of whom four were present, viz. Mr. James Renwick, John Smith, Mr. John Flint, and Mr. William Hardy; and two absent, viz. Mr. William Boyd and John Nisbet.

Then there was six pieces of paper taken, all of one magnitude and form; and upon four of them were four figures, each of them having a figure a-piece, and two wanted, in order to the electing of four out of the six, which was the number judged fit to be sent abroad at that time [to Groningen]. Whereupon the four young men were called in (being before desired to remove) and gave an account of their ages to the meeting. Then after praying again that the Lord would determine as he saw fit; these young men presenting themselves, drew the pieces of paper out of a bonnet, the oldest being still preferred to draw first. As for those who were absent, two drew for them. Those, who got the papers wanting the figures were to stay at home, which fell to be John Smith and Mr. William Hardy; and those who got the papers with the figures were to go abroad, two of them were present, viz, Mr. James Renwick, and Mr. John Flint, and two were absent, viz. Mr, William Boyd and John Nisbet [who was in London], for whom two drew. Then praying that the Lord would bless those on whom the lots had fallen, this work was closed.

Thereafter it was concluded, that 100 Pound Scots, should be allowed to the four young men called to go abroad, (to each 25 Pound Scots) in order to defray their expences in their voyage, and that what was needful to provide them in cloaths and other necessaries, was, over and above, to be taken off for them at Edinburgh: And the collection for this effect, was to be sent with those who were to come from the Societies to the next General Meeting [the sixth convention in January, 1683]; aud the young Men were desired [>p44.] to be ready for their voyage betwixt and the second week of November, This conclusion was chearfully consented unto; and as willingly and readily, put in practice; for immediately thereafter, not only the money was given to the young men which was allowed them, but also what was needful was provided for them at Edinburgh, two cf them, Mr, William Boyd and John Flint, in November thereafter; took ship, and went to the Netherlands, to the University of Groningen; but Mr. James Renwick was not ready to go until December [as he was briefly in the United Provinces in November before returning], However, though he went, not as soon as the other two, yet in the short time he was there, the Lord so fitted and. qualified him for the great work which afterward he undertook, and finished with joy, that he was sooner ready, for the work he was sent about than any of them; for on 10 May thereafter, he was ordained by the Presbytery of Groningen, in whom, they had great satisfaction, and to whom they gave no small commendation, as may be seen in their testificate to him.

As for John Nisbet being at that time at London, where Earlstoun had left him, he was written unto, shewing him of that business, and a testificate sent him; but he delaying to go [due to his involvement in the Rye House Plots], was not long after taken and imprisoned [in Mid 1683].

Although this sending of those young men abroad in order to the obtaining of ordination was much condemned; yet in the circumstances they were then stated in, it was justifiable. The reasons moving to it, with a short vindication of the same, may be seen in the Informatory Vindication (1687), but more in the. account of Mr: Renwick’s life and death [by Alexander Shields, composed in 1688].

Also it was concluded, that Mr. James Renwick, John Smith, and Mr. John Flint should each of them draw wp a paper declaring the grounds whereupon, and the reasons why, the United Societies did withdraw from those who had made defection in this backsliding time, withal inviting (the reasons of withdrawing from them being removed) upon their owning the Testimony, to come and join with them, yet testifying the lawfulness of standing at a distance from those who will not; and also clearing themselves of the foul aspersions and sad reproaches cast upon them. Which papers were to be given in to the next meeting, who were to consider upon the same; and these of the foresaid persons who were to go abroad, were desired to have theirs in readiness to be left when they departed, [>p.45.]

This conclusion at the time seemed necessary; and the motives pressing thereunto very weighty, (albeit it produced some bitter effects, occasioned by the mismanaging of the same, as shall be shewed afterward) for being upon the one hand traduced as Separatists, Schismatics, and Rejecters of the gospel, &c. which was wounding to hear, and grievous to bear, though their innocency of the thing made it the more supportable. And upon the other hand, longing for this gospel, of which they had long had a famine, and being desirous to have the opportunity of hearing it from these, from whom they had withdrawn upon valid grounds, and in hearing some of whom formerly, their souls had been refreshed, and whom they followed while they continued preaching freely, and faithfully, as becomes ambassadors of Christ: They judged this the most rational way to clear themselves of these grievous imputations, and also to declare their willingness to join with and hear these ministers from whom they had withdrawn, tho’ they were (as they should have been) dear to them, providing the cause of withdrawing were removed, to call and invite them, with whom then they would with heart and hand, thereby testifying that their withdrawing was not obstinate.

According to the desire of the meeting, the three young men wrote each of them a paper; and the. two who went abroad [Flint and Boyd], left theirs, before they took voyage. That which followed upon this resolution, the account of the following meetings will make manifest.

Further it was concluded, that the much honoured Mr. Robert Hamilton should be conjunct with his brother, the honourable Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun, in his commission. And therefore the meeting gave full power to Mr. James Renwick to write in their names, unto both the foresaid persons, in order to this appointment.

The reasons inducing to this resolution, were Earlstoun’s great desire that it should be so, knowing that, as in managing that affair, two would be better than one; so, that Mr. Hamilton would be a good second, whereof he had already gotten several experiences. Also, [>p.46.] considering his being conjunct with Earlstoun, he would prove advantageous to the cause, in order to the obtaining of strangers to have a good impression of the same, and sympathy with its owners, at the time in distress; he having, both before, and after Earlstoun went there, laid out himself very much for that end; and it was hoped that he would do it more, when the same was laid on him by them. As likewise when Earlstoun should return home, to which he was desired by the last meeting, he might the better supply his place. In pursuance of this conclusion, and of the meetings desire to Mr. Renwick, he wrote abroad to both the foresaid persons.

Moreover, it was concluded, that the 24th of that month [October] should be observed by all the societies, a day of thanksgiving unto the Lord for his known mercies received at the meeting. Which in particular, was the getting such a demonstration of the sympathy of strangers with them in their distressed case, as that they had access to send young men to an University, where they would have opportunity of learning: And when fit, get the benefit of ordination, whereby they were in expectation of attaining the great privilege of hearing the gospel, within a short time: A mercy to be highly prized, much valued, and to be thankful for, when they have ground of expecting it, as well as fruitful under it, when enjoying the same.

It was also concluded that the 16th of November [1682] should be observed by the societies as a day of humiliation, upon the account of the many provocations that the holy Lord gets; lest that he should withdraw from them. And likewise that the 12th of December should be observed by the societies, as a day of fasting and prayer, to seek earnestly of the Lord that he would remove Satan’s fire and fury; which (alas) was too much to be seen among them, and that he would endue them with the spirit of meekness and patience.

The occasion of making this a cause of a fast was, at the preceding meeting [i.e., the fourth convention], in contending with James Russel, there was too much of a spirit of bitterness on both sides evidenced, as also at this meeting [the fifth convention], in debating with Andrew Young: therefore having a sight of the evil thereof, they desired to mourn for the same, and to seek of the Lord that he would be graciously pleased to remove it; and endue them with a spirit of meekness and patience, which are among the fruits of the Spirit, and suitable [>p47.] to appear in contending for the cause with opposites either upon the right hand, or on the left.’ (Shields, FCD, 42-7.)

The fifth convention wrote to Earlstoun on behalf of James Renwick on 12 October. Renwick had returned from his meeting with Earlstoun on 20 November.

For the previous, fourth, convention, see here.

For more on the fifth convention, see here.

For the next, sixth, convention, see here.

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

Letter from the Fifth Convention of the Society people to Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun in Leeuwarden, 12 October, 1682

•April 27, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Following a schism at the fourth convention in August, 1682, the Societies and a breakaway faction led by James Russell became involved in a struggle over the Societies’ mission to the United Provinces after Russell wrote to Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun, the man commissioned to carry out the mission.

Edinburgh Tolbooth Street View

After the Societies received a letter from Earlstoun, now lost, on 12 October, the last day of the fifth convention in Edinburgh, they resolved to send their clerk, James Renwick, to Earlstoun, who was then in Leeuwarden, to clear them of the charges that Russell had laid against them.

The loss of Earlstoun’s mission would have been a serious blow to the Societies hopes of ordaining ministers. By sending Renwick in person to Earlstoun they were clearly making a major effort to a lay Ealstoun’s suspicions. Renwick had taken a direct role in the dispute with Russell and was well placed to inform Ealrstoun as to the Societies view of the schism.

The use of the term ‘general convention’ in the letter, rather than ‘general meeting’, highlights how the Societies had taken on the power of a parliament in the period after the Lanark Declaration. The Societies would later deny that they had done so in An Informatory Vindication (1687).

The letter is as follows:

‘Much Honored Sir,

We, being met in a general convention, held at Edinburgh upon the 11 day of October, and continuing together until the 12 day thereof, while that all our acts (for this tyme) were enacted, and appointments concluded: so, after all this, we being ready to dismiss, your letter came unto our hands [about the claims James Russell and the Russellites had made against the Societies], which unto us was both grieving and astonishing: we, therefore, have found it to be (at this tyme) indispensablie our duty to concredit and send the bearer heirof, Mr James Renwick, who was present with us at all our conventions since we pairted with you [in April, 1682. I.e., Renwick, who was the clerk, was at the third, fourth and this, the fifth, conventions], and being (in some measure) soon (sound) in both the matter and manner of our proceedings in these conventions, referring you to our acta enacted at all our conventions, and to his information according thereunto: and requiring that ye would not give ear to the base calumnies and misinformations of any person or persons who labour (most falsely) to give us out as the authors of things directly contradictory to our acts, appoyntments, or resolutions; and also of things neither by word or wryt ever concluded by us or any of us; and that you may be the lesse suspicious of us, we do in the sight of God declare, that as to our dewty in this day, we are juste altogether standing where we were when ye were cloathed with our commissions [in April]. Testifying our adherancc to all dewties, and our separations from all the sins, yea and from all persons guilty of gross sins, which our faithful worthies, to witt Mr Donald Cargill [executed in 1681] and Mr Richard Cameron [killed in 1680], taught to be grounds of separations, according as the bearer heirof can and will testifie, and as his letters (if this be come to your hand) have testified; we likewise leiving you to his informations in severall particulars, yea all necessarie, which wee cannot now heir insert. In witnesse heirof (leiving you on the Lord) we have subscribed thir presents, with our hands at Edinburgh the twelve day of October, [16] eighty-two years.
George Hill, presses, [New Monkland parish, Lanarkshire]
Robert Goodwin, [Glasgow societies]
John Smith, [Glasgow societies]
Edward Aitken [Crawfordjohn parish, Lanarkshire]
James Edward, [Muirkirk parish, Ayrshire?]
John ———-,
Edward Somerwell,
John Cader,
John Somerwell,
John Wilson,
Alex. ———–,
John Louckup,
J. Lining, [kin to Thomas Linning?]
William Hardie,
James Bell,
William Nairne,
John [Flint],
John Neilson,
James Muir,
Thomas Deyr,
David Johnson’

Renwick had returned from his meeting with Earlstoun on 20 November, as he wote to Earlstoun from Rotterdam on that date.

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

The Fourth Convention of the Society people in Edinburgh, 11 August, 1682

•April 23, 2015 • 1 Comment

Nor Loch Edinburgh 1690

The fourth convention of the Society people, which was held in Edinburgh in August, 1682, would lead to a schism in the militant movement that led to the formation of a second, little-known, Cameronian faction, the Russellites. However, it also led to rapprochement between those who supported and opposed Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun’s mission to the United Provinces.

A second significant development at the fourth convention was the emergence of James Renwick, the clerk of the convention, as a major figure within the United Societies.

One curious aspect of the fourth convention was its location. The first three conventions had probably witnessed around up to a hundred delegates meeting in remote muirs and, at least in the case of the third convention, they had come heavily armed. However, the fourth convention was held ‘in’ Edinburgh, the heart of the Scottish regime and a dangerous location for a large body of armed men. At some point in the proceedings, an alarm led to the meeting dissolving back into the streets before reconvening ‘at night’ outside of the burgh.

That suggests that the number of delegates attending the convention was small enough to be able to secretly convene in a private space somewhere in the crowded buildings of the burgh. Probably only a few more than the sixteen or so delegates of the core decision-making body that was chosen to represent all the shires participating in the convention attended the fourth convention. At the fifth convention, which followed a similar pattern, a letter from it was subscribed by twenty-one delegates on behalf of the clerk, James Renwick. (Wodrow, History, IV, 502-3.)

Michael Shields recorded the fourth convention as follows:

‘According to the appointment of the last meeting [i.e., the third convention], a General Meeting did conveen at Edinburgh, upon the 11th of August, 1682. consisting of persons who were for, and also such as were against the foresaid conclusion.

It might have been expected, that at this time the spirits of both parties should have been meek and mild, having so much time, calmly and deliberately to think upon matters, and that passion should have been guarded against, having seen so much of the bad effects of it formerly [at the third convention]. But as confusions and divisions were at the last meeting, so they were at this; which was matter of humiliation to behold, and is ground [>p.26.] of sorrow to think upon; a part of which was thus occasioned: As Mr. James Renwick and James Russel, with some others, were coming home from the last meeting [in mid June], being all for the conclusion which was dissented from, it was judged necessary by them, that an answer should be written to the letters sent from Glasgow by some of the dissenters; intending thereby further to clear and confirm those who adhered to the conclusion, and for convincing and reclaiming those who were against if, or for rendering the obstinate more inexcusable: and to do this, Mr. James Renwick and James Russel were employed, who undertook to write each of them one, and promised to meet two or three days before the meeting [c.8 or 9 August], for revising each other’s papers, and if needful to put them both in one.

Accordingly they did meet, and read each other’s papers; but Mr. James [Renwick], though he agreed with the scope and matter of the other’s writing, yet not with some expressions in it, so it was concluded that each should be kept by itself.

However, upon the foresaid day of meeting [11 August], after the commissioners had given in their commissions, as was usual, and the preses chosen [probably George Hill], Mr. James’s paper against the dissentment was read, containing an answer to the objections of the opponents, and likewise some reasons inducing to foresaid conclusion. But as he was of a meek and tender spirit, so in this paper, tho’ the reasons were solid, weighty, and sharp, yet the strain of it was condescending and gaining, whereby there was nothing said against it; but when James Russel’s (who was of a fiery and hot spirit) his paper came to be read, the most part of the meeting as well those who were for the conclusion as those who were against it, except two or three, condemned it, as having too much bitterness, untenderness and reflections in it. But in the time of his and the meeting’s contending about that paper and other things, an alarm coming, they parted at that time, and at night met again without the town, where after long, reasoning and. debating betwixt the meeting and him, and two with him, viz, John Henderson [in Kilbrackmont] and Patrick Grant, in which the heat was not small, nor the confusions few, upon which he and these two gave in a written protestation (which they had drawn up before) to the meeting, intitled, “The Protestation of the Societies of true Presbyterians in the shire of Fife and Perth, against disorderly persons.” In which, adhering to foresaid conclusion at [>p27.] the last meeting, they protest against admitting any to sit as members of the meeting, contrary to the conclusion of the last, and then mention several things, whereof if any were guilty, they were not to be admitted as members of a Convention, (so term they the General Meeting [as did James Renwick]) some of which the meeting did look upon as causes of withdrawing, and some not.

Likewise they gave in a paper about the names of the days of the week, and months of the year [which rejected the pagan names of the days and months in favour of using numbers], wherein were several unsuitable and unsavoury, unchristian expressions; and so he and his comrades left them, after he had occasioned some confusion, which otherwise might not have fallen out, as was evident both at the last meeting [i.e., the third convention] and this:

And after he [Russell] was parted from them [i.e., after the fourth convention] he was not idle; by taking trouble to himself, he created more to others; for he and some few with him, seeking to justify what they had done, were at no small pains to inform, or rasher misinform severals about the proceedings at the last and this meeting [i.e., the third and fourth conventions], in going through the country, reading his papers to sundry men and women. Yet he gained few to his party. Yea, he wrote abroad to [Alexander Gordon of] Earlstoun [in the United Provinces], misrepresenting the proceedings of this meeting and the last, whereby be and Mr. [Robert] Hamilton were in hazard (as no wonder) of being jealous of friends, and their doings at home: To know the certainly of which, he sent here [to Scotland] a copy of the information he had got [from Russell]; which when received, was both astonishing and wounding to look upon.

Whereupon it was judged necessary for the vindication of the cause, clearing of themselves, and better information of friends abroad, to send one to them who knew the whole affair, and was in some capacity to inform them of every circumstance relating to it, and expedient for them to know. So Mr. James Renwick was fixed upon as the fittest; who accordingly went, and by his true and clear information gained them to a better impression of those they were somewhat jealous of before; and immediately came home again.

However, as James Russel after this, much opposed the witnessing party [i.e., the United Societies] by word and writ, both at home and abroad; so in particular he opposed Mr. Renwick both before and after he was a minister [in May, 1683], against whom he alledges, that at this time, when he was abroad [in late 1682], he was guilty of perjury in acquainting Mr. Hamilton with matters, without taking the Engagement to secrecy, which was so far given heed to by some, through his influence, that they made it a cause [>p28.] of their not hearing him preach, until afterwards they came to be better informed, and then they did acknowledge their fault.

But as Mr. Renwick was sadly mistaken in other things, so also in this; for when the engagement was tendered to Mr, [Robert] Hamilton, he scrupled to take the same, which when considered by Mr. James, he judged it his duty notwithstanding thereof, not to keep up matters from him, which if he had done, would have tended to the prejudice of the cause, and thereby he would have made it a bond of iniquity, contrary to the intention of its first imposers.

Howbeit, if Mr. Renwick was wrong in this, James Russel was first in the fault, by his acquainting the said Mr. Hamilton, with matters before him, without the said engagement (viz. in his accusation, and misinformation written to him, which is yet extant.)

But to return from this unpleasant digression. After James Russel, and the other two [John Henderson and Patrick Grant] were gone, and day light being come, they were necessitate to part, for fear of danger. Yes that same day they met again within the town, where Alexander Gordon [of Kilsture], and some of the dissenters from the conclusion, above specified, being present, it was judged necessary that something should be done in relation to them. So concerning Alexander Gordon [of Kinsture], seeing he was suspended from the former meeting upon, the account of his baptizing his child with Mr [Alexander] Peden, this meeting upon the account that the enquiry about Mr. Peden was not made; enquired at him, if he was willing before them, to engage to acknowledge his offence, providing Mr. Peden, after trial, be not found to have been faithful when he joined with him; which he most willingly and chearfully did. And so upon this condition, he was received in, as a member of the meeting.

Likewise concerning the dissenters, the meeting proceeded thus, in order to them; asking if they were willing to acknowledge their offence in what they had done, which if not, they were not clear to act with them. To which, the dissenters said, that they desired to hear Earlstoun’s letter (which he had sent home, giving some account of his progress abroad [in London and the United Provinces]) because possibly thereby, they might be more convinced of their mistake, and cleared in their duty: which the meeting granted. And when they had heard the same, they acknowledged that the appointment of sending one abroad was duty: and that they were out of their duty in their dissenting [>p.29.] from it. And so jointly with the rest of the meeting, approved all the conclusions of the foregoing meetings, and so approved of the dissenting from them upon the account of declining the foresaid appointment. This was satisfying to all the meeting, whereupon they were received as members thereof; and in token of the burial of that dissentment, it was concluded unanimously, that the objections of the dissenters, together with all answers thereto, would be destroyed. After which, these conclusions were jointly by them concluded upon.’

After the loss of the ultra-militant Russellites and having “buried”the dispute with the more-moderate dissenters over Earlstoun’s mission abroad, the fourth convention finally agreed on the following resolutions

‘1st, It was concluded that a call should be sent to Mr, Thomas Douglas, [who had been a militant leader in the rising of 1679 and field preached with Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill in 1680] inviting him to come home [from his exile in England], and when come, if no exceptions be found against him, he is to be joined with, but if there be any just exceptions, his charges are to be paid and himself dismissed. The falling upon this resolution, proceeded from their longing to have the gospel freely preached by faithful ministers, which they had long been deprived of: and to have that foul stain, that they would hear no ministers, which was cast upon them removed. And from a desire in particular to have the benefit of his ministry, with which, they had been privileged before, having heard of his remaining affection to the cause, they judged it their duty to write to him, being at the time in England, in order to his home coming. Accordingly a letter was written, and sent, to which he returned an answer, giving some reasons of his not coming which were not very satisfying.

2dly, Also, it was concluded upon the account of disability to manage the affair, that the honourable Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun [the Societies’ commissioner to the United Provinces], be desired to settle his affairs abroad, and to turn his commission into his much honoured brother[-in-law] Robert Hamilton his hand [then in Leeuwarden]; yet not to leave matters in confusion, which may prove disadvantageous to the [Societies’] cause, by rendering friends suspicious of them, but that these who know of his errand, and being there, may be also acquainted with his departure. And for that end what time he saw fit, was assigned to him to settle his affairs abroad, but with all expedition in his return home, was enjoined upon him. And for his more speedy, and better return: It was concluded that all the societies should collect money, according to their abilities, and bring the same timeously to their next adjacent societies that it might all come into Edinburgh betwixt and the last of that instant [i.e., by 31 August]. [>p.30.]

The reason of their desiring Earlstoun to return, is couched in the conclusion; in short, it was the maintaining him abroad far surmounted their ability, tho’ not their willingness.

However, having found some good effects his being there had produced, they saw it necessary that his place should not be left empty, so they condescended upon Mr, [Robert] Hamilton to supply the same, into whose hands they should turn his commission. Yet fearing lest friends abroad among whom he had been, conversant, might become thereby suspicious of them, that he should acquaint them therewith, but affixing him no time for his return, though their desire was, that he should hasten it. Albeit this was signified to him presently after the meeting, yet he did not return until the spring [of 1683].

Likewise it was concluded, that none thereafter should be admitted as Commissioners without written commissions, that so order may be kept, and counterfeits discovered. This was only that order might be observed, and for discovering any cheats or counterfeits, in case any such should endeavour to creep in among them, to get notice of what they were about.

As likewise it was concluded, that whatever is, hath been, or may be concluded by the General Meeting, may not be dissented from, but these who have any thing to object, let them come to the next meeting, and give in their reasons, that they may cognosce upon them, and determine as they may be found relevant. This was not, but that their conclusions might not be dissented from, not looking upon them as unalterable statutes; but their meaning and desire was, that off-hand, they should not be declined (especially by these who had been unanimous in making the same) in the interval between the meeting they were resolved at, and the other following, having before their eyes the sad effects which the dissenting from the conclusion about Earlstoun’s going abroad, had produced, And so for preventing the like in time coming, and out of love to have union preserved among them, they judged it necessary that in case any should come afterward to find ground of objections against any of the conclusions resolved upon at the present meeting, they had free liberty to give them in at the next, that so after consultation, and deliberation about the same, the conclusion might stand, be altered, or altogether laid aside, as the objections were found groundless, or relevant. [>p.31.]

Moreover, it was concluded that every society should bring the names of their places, and the names of the places of their next adjacent societies, to the next General Meetings that so a way may be fallen upon, which hitherto was neglected, to keep with their said next adjacent society, a Christian fellowship in prayer, according to the second conclusion of the first General Meeting which met at the Logan-house upon the 15th of December, 1681.

Though little or no effects followed upon this conclusion, according to the method laid down in it: yet that which was very advantageous to the cause and proved strengthening to the hands of the owners thereof, was the result, viz. the settling, and keeping a Correspondence of some societies together, which is commonly called Shire-Meetings, the manner of which is a little described above.

Lastly, It was concluded that the last Thursday of that instant, the last Thursday of September, and the second Thursday of October, were to be observed as days of fasting and prayer, by all the societies: and the next General Meeting was appointed to meet at Darmade, upon the 2d of November, which day, was to be kept a day of fasting and prayer by all remaining at home.’ (Shields, FCD, 25-31.)

Soon after the fourth convention, James Renwick replied to a lost letter from Robert Hamilton in Leeuwarden on 6 September.

Soon after that, both Renwick and the Convention received a second letter from Hamilton, which he had written on 22 August, and a letter from William Brakel, the minister of Leeuwarden, that announced a breakthrough that would allow the Societies to ordain ministers via their Dutch supporters.

Renwick replied to Hamilton of 3 October and to Brackel on 5 October, ahead of the Societies fifth convention. The stunning news of a breakthrough in the United Provinces resulted in the date and venue for the fifth convention being brought forward and changed back to Edinburgh.

For the previous, third, convention, see here.

For more on the fourth convention, see here.

For the next, fifth, convention, see here.

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

The Third Convention of the Society people at Talla Linn, 15 June, 1682

•April 21, 2015 • Leave a Comment

On 15 June, 1682, the Society people held their third general convention at Talla Linn, a burn and falls in a spectacular setting. By one estimate around 120 to 140 armed Society people attended. Like the previous convention, the third convention featured divisive debates.

Talla Linn

Talla Linn in Tweeddale © adam sommerville and licensed for reuse.

Talla Linn lies in Tweedsmuir parish, Peeblesshire.

Map of Talla Linn                Street View of probable Talla Linn site

Michael Shields recorded the convention as follows:

‘a General Meeting did conveen at Talla Linn, in the Parish of Tweed’s-muir, and Sheriffdom of Tweedale, upon the 15th of June, 1682. After they were met, and prayer ended, and the meeting modelled after the wonted manner; when the questions were going through the members, which was ordinary to be enquired at them, about themselves and these they represented, their owning the Testimony, and being free of public scandal, there fell in confusions among them; for James Russel, a man of a hot and fiery spirit, being one of those who enquired the same, did stretch some of them [>p22.] too great a length, and added one question which was never enquired either before or after, nor much at that time, which was, If they or their Society were free of paying customs at Ports or Bridges? This he enquired at [an?]other one or two, which when perceived, it occasioned some debate, and so was desisted from; however the question of paying customs, was much tossed by, the said James Russel and some few with him, who not long after, made it, among others, a cause of separation from the witnessing party [i.e., the United Societies], by whom it was never so far stretched; for as they did find no fault with those that scrupled to pay it, if they did not impose the like upon others, so they that had clearness for the same, did not withdraw from them upon that head, if they were free of Other things which are ground of withdrawing, though they could have wished they had been free of that also seeing albeit they counted it one of the grievances and miseries under which they were to groan, as having some tendency indirectly, to the upholding and maintaining of a tyrannical powers which hath been long exercised over the consciences, bodies, and estates of the Lord’s people: yet not desiring to wreathe an insupportable yoke about their own necks, they looked upon the pay thereof to come under another consideration than [the] Cess, &c., the one being newly laid on, and enacted [for] wicked ends, and employed for unlawful uses; and the other being an antient thing, and a part of the town privileges, and often employed for necessary uses, as keeping of High-ways, Bridges, &c.

Nevertheless many of them did not make use of this argument, not being acquaint with the way of its first laying on, nor what use was made of it, but only pleaded the necessity of it, considering that several reputed straight and honest in the cause, but poor, had no other way to maintain there selves and families, except they went to the market to sell something, for which they behoved to pay customs in that case they thought they might as well do it, as buy ale and bread, which paid excise, whereby that tyrannical power was upheld indirectly, as well as by the other, yet not to be refrained from, seeing they could not live without these.

But to return, as the questions were going through the members of the meeting, there was a young man of Dumbarton shire, found to have joined with some that payed the Cess, for which he was debarred from sitting there;

as also, another was debarred, after some debate, because of his marrying with [>p23.] Mr. Alexander Peden, and joining with some that gave meat and drink to dragoons: But that which occasioned the hottest debate and greatest confusion, was about Alexander Gordon [of Kinsture ratherthan Earlstoun], who had joined with Mr. Peden, in accepting the sacrament of Baptism to his child from him, whereupon the contest arose, one part of the meeting saying Mr. Peden might be joined with, and the other not:’

At around the same time, Peden conducted the marriage of John Brown in Priesthill, the host of the second convention.

‘So seeing the matter was under debate, and could not be there and then decided, it was thought most expedient to suspend Alexander Gordon from the meeting, until enquiry and trial be made, How it was with Mr. Peden at the time, and how it was when he joined with him, that thereby it might be the better known how to proceed therein. And for this effect, James Russel promised to send one, or come himself out of Fife, and to come by Edinburgh, that one might be chosen out of Lothian to go along with him to the Monkland, where they were to get a third person to go along with them to Mr. Peden [who was then in Scotland]; which thing James Russel failed to do, and so the enquiry and trial was not made. At length, when they came to speak of the conclusion anent Earlstoun’s going abroad, the debate betwixt the one party and the other came to be so hotly handled, that they parted from one another, the one part going to the one part of the field, and the other going to another. However, those who adhered to the conclusion [of Earlstoun going abroad], drawing together, formed themselves into a meeting, whose resolutions were as follow:

In the first place, they did approve all that was done by the former meeting [i.e., the second convention], and in particular testified their adherence to all that was done in prosecuting the first appointment of the said meeting, and also their dissenting from all those who had declined the said appointment, until they see their fault therein, which was, first, to do, and then to undo, by assenting, and then dissenting. Albeit this resolution may appear at first view to be rash and precipitant, in that they withdrew from their brethren upon such grounds, yet if matters be rightly weighed, it will seem more moderate, though not altogether justifiable. If the time of resolving upon the same be considered, which was immediately upon the back of hot debates, when their spirits were aloft and Unsettled, and the edge of their zeal keen against that which they judged wrong in them. As also the extent thereof, which was not a withdrawing from them in private societies [>p24.] for prayer and conference, but only in these public and general meetings, until they saw their fault in that difientment, and likewise the occasion of sailing upon it, which was, as is mentioned above, the dissenting from the conclusion about Earlstoun’s going abroad, and continuing in it; in resolving of which they were joint and unanimous, and the same was rational, seemed necessary, and was orderly gone about.

That which followed upon this resolution, shall be shewn afterwards.

Next it was concluded by them, that betwixt and the 24th of that instant [June, 1682], every society adhering to them in that particular, of prosecuting the first appointment of the last meeting, should bring their quarterly collection in to Edinburgh.—This was in order to the helping to defray the charges of Earlstoun when he was abroad: which was accordingly done, in so far as their ability could reach.

It is here to be noted, that the societies every quarter of a year, did gather a collection of money, which was sometimes more and sometimes less, in their respective bounds, and sent with their commissioner to the General Meeting, where it was conscientiously, distributed, a part of it for public uses, wherein the whole was concerned, if any such thing called for the same, or to prisoners, of which always there was not few in several prisons, or to indigent persons in the country [i.e., fugitives], according as their need required.

Likewise it was concluded, that the first Thursday of that instant, the third Thursday of July, and first Thursday of August, were to be observed for days of public fasting, by all the societies in the kingdom, owning the Testimony.

In fine, when the meeting was near the dismissing, the dissenters from the conclusion [i.e., James Russell’s faction], sent some to those who were for it, desiring to have another meeting with them; whereupon some of either side going together, after some deliberation, condescended upon both time and place, which was to be upon the 11th day of August, at Edinburgh.’ (Shields, FCD, 21-24.)

James Renwick, the clerk of the Societies who was present at the convention, may have escaped government forces at the time of the Talla Linn convention.

A report from John Graham of Claverhouse, who was in the area at the time and nearly encountered the convention, caused considerable concern about what the ‘Traitors, Runnagates, and Fugitives’ at it were plotting.

Three weeks after the third convention, James Renwick, described the events of the convention in his first letter to Robert Hamilton.

For the previous, second, convention, see here.

For more on the third convention, see here.

For the next, fourth, convention, see here.

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

The Second Convention of the Society people at Priesthill, 15 March, 1682

•April 15, 2015 • 1 Comment

Like his account of the first convention, Michael Shields’ narrative of the second convention is largely concerned with presenting the radical platform adopted by the Society people in their early conventions in a moderate light. He also reported that the societies were divided over Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun and John Nisbet’s mission to England and the United Provinces.


Martyr Grave at Priesthill © Richard Webb and licensed for reuse.

The Societies also decided that those attending future conventions, i.e., from the third convention, should come armed to defend themselves from government forces. John Graham of Claverhouse would nearly encounter the Society people at the third convention.

The second convention was held at Priesthill in Muirkirk parish, Ayrshire. It was the home of John Brown who was summary executed on the orders of Claverhouse in May, 1685.

Map of Priesthill

His account of the second convention is as follows:

‘However, according to the appointment of the last general meeting did conveen at the Priest-hill, in the parish of Muir-kirk of Kyle, and sheriffdom of Air, upon the 15th of March 1682. After they were met, and prayer ended, this meeting (but especially afterward, method being attained by degrees, and not at the first) for order’s sake was thus modelled; when it was known who were these sent from the several societies (there being always more there than such) there was chosen of these sixteen, and sometimes more, to make up which number, every shire choosed some more, and some fewer, according to the number of societies therein, and where there was but one out of a shire, he was always of that number. Again out of these was chosen a Præses [such as George Hill]; not that to him was given (neither did they claim) any power or authority, over the rest, but for keeping of order, and avoiding of confusion, which was very incident among such a company. Sometimes the rest of the Commissioners were desired to go to another place, and spend the time in prayer; but what conclusions were requisite for them to know and obtain their consent unto, were signified to them, that they might acquaint their societies therewith when they went home; or if they had any thing to object, they might give it in; at other times they were present, that they might see and hear what past, and speak their mind, when they saw it necessary, that so they might the better give an account thereof when they went home to their societies.

Next when this was done, these were some questions enquired at every one of the selected number; such as, If they knew the mind of the society they were sent from? If they did, whether their society owned the Testimony against tyranny and defection? if they were free of scandal? as also if any there present, knew any of the rest, chargeable with such things? And if any were found so chargeable; they were in all sobriety desired to withdraw, but not to be offended, seeing what they did was out of love to them, and for their own exoneration, to manifest their hatred at the sin, and sense of the justness of the censure to be inflicted for such scandals by [>p17.] these who were competent for the same. This method hath been still followed. And about two years after this, these questions were written, which I shall insert when I come to the time in which the same was done. And albeit, this hath been exclaimed against by many, and called by some cannons; yet the same was, and is thought necessary, seeing, at the first beginning of these meetings, and since, many people were sadly involved, and insnared in the public defections, and gross compliances of the time; which would have been found censurable by church judicatories, in a peaceable and settled condition of the church, and in this confused and broken; time, wanting such judicatories to make application unto (however being willing to retain the sense of the justness of the censure, which should be inflicted upon the persons guiltv of public scandal.) Therefore out of love to their brethren, and fear of partaking of other men’s sins, they desired and endeavoured to have the members they concurred with in these meetings, in carrying on, and managing the Testimony in their stations, so qualified, as they might with comfort and confidence join with, being of one mind and judgment, as to the matter of the Testimony, and free of any public scandal; or if they, had been chargeable with any, confessed it, were sensible of the evil thereof, and willing to acknowledge offence they had given thereby, to such as were competent to take the same. This was, nor is not a taking upon them the trial of scandals, or scandalous persons; for all the trial which they did, and do judge incumbent for them being private persons in their private capacity notwithstanding of the greatest necessity, is not judicial and authoritative, but meerly private and popular, for information about the case and practice of the persons, in order to the regulating of their consciences, in their duty and carriage toward them; that so according to the judgment of discretion, they might be fully persuaded in their minds, as to what was right and wrong, true or false, and might not remain staggering or doubting in their duty toward them.

These questions being enquired, and what followed thereupon at an end; then what business they had to consult about, and to deliberate upon, came to be considered. The first thing done at the meeting, as likewise at several meetings afterwards, was the reading of the conclusions of the foregoing meeting, and it was enquired at every member, if he .approved of the same. [>p18.] At this meeting they did approve thereof. That which moved to this was, that in case any particular person,, or society had seen since the last meeting ground of objection against any of the resolutions therein concluded, they might give them in, that so, after due consideration, if it were found necessary, such resolutions might either be altered, or quite laid aside.

Next, it was concluded by them, that the honourable Alexander Gordon of Earlston, attended by John Nisbet, should be commissionate to foreign nations, to represent their low case to the reformed churches there. And that money should be collected and brought into Edinburgh, betwixt and the 4th of April next thereafter, for helping to defray his expenses in that undertaking. [… >p19.] This conclusion was in pursuance of one in the former meeting, that every Commissioner there, should seek the advice of their societies about sending some abroad to reformed foreign churches, for making known to them the sad case of this church. And in a particular manner their own low case, and to come resolved about it to this meeting, which accordingly was done, and they thought the sending some abroad very rational and necessary. So at this meeting it was unanimously concluded upon; and Earlston as the man of greatest repute, and best qualified, among them, was jointly pitched upon. Notwithstanding whereof within a few days after, some (especially Andrew Young, a man of no despicable parts, and one who was then seemingly zealous in promoting the Testimony, yea and cordial in this conclusion) went to Glasgow, where consulting with some friends, they dissented from this resolution, alledging, among other things that the person nominate was not fit for managing of a matter of such importance. In which dissentment joyned several societies, refusing to concurr by collecting money for promoting it. And the rest being sent for the same, it occasioned no small division and contention [at the third convention], both by word and writ. But the conclusion was rational, and seemed necessary at the time, the reasons moving to the falling upon it, is somewhat shown above: In short, it was the endeavouring to represent the deplorable condition of this church, especially, the sad case themselves was redacted unto; and to seek the rolling away of reproaches industriously heaped upon them: and to shew the justness of their cause they were contending and suffering for, that so they might obtain that sympathy abroad, which was denied them at home, Howbeit this conclusion was dissented from and much opposed. Yet, Earlstoun, in April, went from this land for London with John Nisbet, where he left him, and went to the Netherlands [in the late summer of 1682].

Likewise it was concluded, that the Commissioners there present should acquaint and desire every man of his respective society, to provide for himself with weapons, in case there should be any need requiring the same.

The reasons moving to this resolution, were the endeavouring to retain, and maintain that principle of self defence whereupon it was founded, which nature teaches, yet it is contradicted and opposed by our unreasonable [>p20.] adversaries, from whose unjust violence (by whom they were killed all the day long, and accounted as sheep for the slaughter) they sought by this mean to defend themselves, and resist them; not only in their wanderings, but also when together in their meetings, in case they should be assaulted by enemies. As also. that they might be in some posture for their own defence, if bloody papists should make a massacre.

Moreover, it was concluded, that although persons having made defection from the way of God, or lying under public scandal, providing they be sensible of their sin, and give signs of their repentance, may be received into the society, upon engagement to make acknowledgment of their sin, according to the degree of their offence, and the satisfying of the offended, to these who are competent to receive the same. This conclusion since, hath many a time been put in practice; and that which gave the rise to this resolution, was, Many persons in the time of temptation, and hour and power of darkness, having made defection, who through grace attained not only the sense of the dishonour done to God thereby, but also of the offence done to their brethren, with whom they were willing to be reconciled, by acknowledging their offence: And in particular from the sense of the justness of the cause owned by the witnessing party, they were desirous to incorporate themselves with them, which they did signify to them; who though they were willing to encourage them all they could, in the way of duty, yet as to joining with them, being guilty of such scandals they knew not well what to do in it, so they represented the case to their brethren at this meeting to get their advice, about the same; who taking it to their serious consideration, resolved upon this conclusion, above mentioned, as the only expedient which they could fall upon, in their case, and circumstances: seeing albeit they wanted ministers, and were not themselves competent for the trial and removal of scandals; yet, that such an engagement should be required and obtained, was rational, they thereby declaring the justness of the censure to be inflicted, albeit they could not do it.’ (Shields, FCD, 16-20.)

Curiously, Shields does not record either if any fast days were appointed by the meeting, or that the third convention was set for 15 June at Talla Linn.

He does record that in the aftermath of the second convention that there were serious divisions within the Society people over the issue of sending Earlstoun and Nisbet to London, and possibly to the United Provinces, probably to open a pathway for the ordination of ministers:

‘Among other things, the dissentment from the conclusion of the last meeting [i.e., of the second convention] about Earlstoun’s going abroad, was very discouraging, and was the occasion of much, contention and division; for those who were for the conclusion, were bent for prosecuting it to the utmost of their power, and these who dissented were as much against it. There were several writings past between the one and the other: Some in Glasgow who were chief in the dissentment, wrote to those in Edinburgh, who were far the conclusion, giving reasons of their so doing, which was answered. And Mr. [Andrew] Young, a great stickler for the dissentment, with most of the society in Teviotdale wrote also to those in Edinburgh; so that the debate came to no small height, and was like to be the occasion of a greater rent than it produced, if it had not been timeously prevented [by the events at the third convention].’ (Shields, FCD, 21.)

For more on the second convention, see here.

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