James Hogg’s Tale of Claverhouse and the Shepherd #History #Literature #Scotland

•October 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

A mystery in literature for you…

James Hogg’s The Brownie of Bodsbeck (1818) contains one of my favourite stories based on the Killing Times of 1685.


Muchra © Anthony Parkes and licensed for reuse.

It is about John Graham of Claverhouse interviewing Old John Hay, a shepherd in Muchra, about a field preaching by James Renwick and who had killed some soldiers near the Yarrow Valley.

Shepherds were interviewed by army officers for the information they held about fugitive Society people/Covenanters. However, the background to Hogg’s story was probably derived from interviews before the Privy Council in Edinburgh found in Cloud of Witnesses and field interviews found in Wodrow’s History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland.

The story is set in the autumn of 1685. However, its historical setting is before mid June, 1685, as it mentions the Argyll and Monmouth Risings in the middle of that year.

Hogg says the shepherd lived at Muchra (see above).

Map of Muchra

A little background. John Hay worked for the Linton or Laidlaws of Chapelhope. In the story, Walter Laidlaw is said to have rented Chapelhope from the laird of Drummelzier. The story takes place immediately after the capture of Marion Linton and her family. In the notes to Mountain Bard (1807), Hogg claimed the Lintons of Chapelhope hid fugitives. Young Linton of Chapelhope is also mentioned in his sublime ballad, ‘Mess John’, which is, in part, about the assassination of a curate by the Society people/Covenanters and set in late 1684 or early 1685. If any ballad deserves to be better known, it is Mess John.

From Hogg’s The Brownie of Bodsbeck:

‘The soldiers had by this time taken old John of the Muchrah and another of Laidlaw’s shepherds prisoners, who had come to assist their master with the farm-work that day. All these Clavers examined separately; and their answers, as taken down in short-hand by Mr Adam Copland, are still extant, and at present in my possession. The following are some of them, as decyphered by Mr J. W. Robertson, whose acquaintance with ancient manuscripts is well known.

John Hay, shepherd in Muchrah, aged fifty-six, sworn and examined.
“Do you know such a man as the Rev. James Renwick?”

“Yes. I once heard him pray and preach for about the space of two hours.”

“Was it on your master’s farm that he preached?”

“No, it was in a linn on the Earl Hill, in the march between two lairds’ lands, that he preached that day.”’


Earl’s Hill © Chris Heaton and licensed for reuse.

Map of Earl’s Hill

In other texts Hogg also records James Renwick preaching at Riskinhope /the lands of Riskinhope, which lie next to Earl’s Hill.

Old John was in ‘the Hope’ on the day that some of the King’s soldiers were killed, their bodies were found lying at the bottom of a linn in ‘a deep cleuch’ with of a foot-wide sheep rodding above it.

The night before, Old John is said by Claverhouse to have viewed ‘an apparition at the place the night before’. However, where Old John was on that night, and where Renwick preached, appear to be two separate locations. Like the location of the suicide’s grave in Confessions of A Justified Sinner, that ambiguity is typical of Hogg. (See Robin Ruisseaux in ‘The One O’Clock Gun’.)

‘“How durst you go to an unlawful conventicle?”

“I didna ken there was a law against it till after—it’s a wild place this—we never hear ony o’ the news, unless it be twice a year frae the Moffat fairs. But as soon as I heard him praying and preaching against the king I cam aff an’ left him, an’ brought a’ my lads an’ lasses wi’ me; but my wife wadna steer her fit—there she sat, shaking her head and glooming at me; but I trow I cowed her for’t after.”

“What did he say of the king?”

“O, I canna mind—he said nae muckle gude o’ him.”

“Did he say that he was a bloody perjured tyrant?”

“Ay, he said muckle waur nor that. He said some gayan ill-farr’d things about him. But I cam away and left him; I thought he was saying mair than gude manners warrantit.”

“Were you in the Hope, as you call it, on that day that the king’s soldiers were slain?”

“Ay, that I was; I was the first wha came on them whan they war just new dead, an’ a’ reeking i’ their warm blude— Gude keep us a’ frae sic sights again!—for my part, I never gat sic a confoundit gliff sin’ I was born o’ my mother.”

“Describe the place where the corpses were lying.”

“It is a deep cleuch, wi’ a sma’ sheep rodding through the linn not a foot wide; and if ye war to stite aff that, ye wad gang to the boddom o’ the linn wi’ a flaip.”

“Were the bodies then lying in the bottom of that linn?”

“Odd help ye, whar could they be lying else?—D’ye think they could lie on the Cleuch-brae? Ye might as weel think to lie on the side o’ that wa’ gin ye war dead.”

“How did it appear to you that they had been slain—were they cut with swords, or pierced with bullets?”

“I canna say, but they war sair hashed.”

“How do you mean when you say they were hashed?”

“Charapit like—a’ broozled and jurmummled, as it war.”

“Do you mean that they were cut, or cloven, or minced?”

“Na, na—no that ava—But they had gotten some sair doofs—They had been terribly paikit and daddit wi’ something.”

“I do not in the least conceive what you mean.”

“That’s extrordnar, man—can ye no understand folk’s mother-tongue?—I’ll mak it plain to you. Ye see, whan a thing comes on ye that gate, that’s a dadd—sit still now. Then a paik, that’s a swapp or a skelp like—when a thing comes on ye that way, that’s a paik. But a doof’s warst ava —it’s”

“Prithee hold; I now understand it all perfectly well.—What, then, is your opinion with regard to these men’s death? How, or what way do you think they were killed?”

“O, sir, there’s naebody can say. It was some extrordnar judgment, that’s out of a’ doubt. There had been an unyerdly raid i’ the Hope that day.”

“What reason have you for supposing such a thing?”

“Because there wasna a leevin soul i’ the hale Hope that day but theirsels—they wadna surely hae felled ane another—It’s, by an’ attour, an awsome bit where they war killed; there hae been things baith seen and heard about it; and I saw an apparition there mysel on the very night before.”

“You saw an apparition at the place the night before, did you? And, pray, what was that apparition like?”

“It was like a man and a woman.”

“Had the figure of the woman no resemblance to any one you had ever seen before? Was it in any degree, for instance, like your master’s daughter?”

“No unlike ava.”

“Then I think I can guess what the other form was like—Had it a bonnet on its head?”

“Not a bonnet certainly, but it had the shape o’ ane.”

“I weened as much—And was it a tall gigantic figure?”

“Na, na, sir; the very contrair o’ that.”

“Are you certain of that you say? Was it not taller than the apparition of the woman?”

“No halfsae tall, sir.”

“Had it not some slight resemblance to your master, little as it was? Did that not strike you?”

“Na, na, it was naething like my master, nor nae yerdly creature that ever was seen; indeed it was nae creature ava.”

“What then do you suppose it was?”

“Lord kens!—A wraith, I hae little doubt. My een rins a’ wi’ water whan I think about it yet.”

“Wraiths are quite common here, are they?”

“O yes, sir!—oure common. They appear aye afore death, especially if the death be to be sudden.”

“And what are they generally like?”

“Sometimes like a light—sometimes like a windin-sheet—sometimes like the body that’s to dee, gaen mad—and sometimes like a coffin made o’ moon-light.”

“Was it in the evening you saw this apparition?”

“It was a little after midnight.”

“And pray, what might be your business in such a place at that untimely hour ?— Explain that fully to me if you please.”’


The confluence of North and South Grain, and Middle Hill © Chris Eilbeck and licensed for reuse.

‘“I sail do that, sir, as weel as I can :— Our ewes, ye see, lie up in the twa Grains an’ the Middle a’ the harst—Now, the Quave Brae again, it’s our hogg-fence, that’s the hained grund like; and whenever the wind gangs easterly about, then whan the auld luckies rise i’ the howe o’ the night to get their rug, aff they come, snouckin a’ the way to the Lang Bank, an’ the tither end o’ them round the Piper Snout [i.e., Paper Hill], and into the Quave Brae to the hained grund; an’ very often they think naething o’ landing i’ the mids o’ the corn.’


Quave Brae © Chris Eilbeck and licensed for reuse.

The ‘hogg fence’ lay between the Quave Brae and the low-lying enclosed ground around Chapelhope.

The ewes usually ended up beyond Chapelhope at the Lang Bank, aka., the Long Bank, on the west side of the Loch of The Lowes.

‘Now I never mindit the corn sae muckle; but for them to gang wi’ the hogg fence, I coudna bide that ava; for ye ken, sir, how coud we turn our hand wi’ our pickle hoggs i’ winter if their bit foggage war a’ riven up by the auld raikin hypalts ere ever a smeary’s clute clattered on’t?”

Though Clavers was generally of an impatient temper, and loathed the simplicity of nature, yet he could not help smiling at this elucidation, which was much the same to him as if it had been delivered in the language of the Moguls; but seeing the shepherd perfectly sincere, he suffered him to go on to the end.

“Now, sir, ye ken the wind very often taks a swee away round to the east i’ the night time whan the wather’s gude i’ the harst months, an’ whanever this was the case, and the moon i’ the lift, I had e’en aye obliged to rise at midnight, and gang round the hill an’ stop the auld kimmers— very little did the turn—just a bit thraw yont the brae, an’ they kend my whistle, or my tike’s bark, as weel as I did mysel, still they wadna do wantin’t. Weel, ye see, sir, I gets up an’ gangs to the door—it was a bonny night—the moon was hingin o’er the derk brows o’ Hopertoody, an’ the lang black scaddaws had an eiry look—I turned my neb the tither gate, an’ I fand the air was gane to the eissel; the se’en starns had gaen oure the lum, an’ the tail o’ the king’s el wand was just pointin to the Muchrah Crags.’

A portent? The ‘Hopertoody’ links to the Happertutie Burn to the west of Muchra, where Claverhouse is said to have summarily executed four Covenanters. The ‘Muchrah Crags’ indicates East Muchra Hill, east of Muchra and beyond which lies Riskinhope.


Muchra and East Muchra Hill © Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse.

‘It’s the very time, quo’ I to mysel, I needna think about lying down again— I maun leave Janet to lie doverin by hersel for an hour or twa [at Muchra]—Keilder, my fine dog, where are ye?—He was as ready as me— he likes a play i’ the night-time brawly, for he’s aye gettin a broostle at a hare, or a tod, or a foumart, or some o’ thae beasts that gang snaikin about i’ the derk. Sae to mak a lang tale short, sir, off we sets, Keilder an’ me, an’ soon comes to the place. The ewes had been very mensefu’ that night, they had just corned to the march and nae farther; sae, I says, puir things, sin’ ye hae teen sae leifu’, we’ll sit down an’ rest a while, the dog an’ me, an’ let ye tak a pluck an’ fill yersels or we turn ye back up to your cauld lairs again. Sae down we sits i’ the scaddaw of a bit derksome cleuch-brae— naebody could hae seen us; and ere ever I wats, I hears by the grumblin o’ my friend, that he outher saw or smelled something mair than ordinar. I took him in aneath my plaid for fear o’ some grit brainyell of an outbrik; and whan I lookit, there was a white thing and a black thing new risen out o’ the solid yird! They cam close by me; and whan I saw the moon shinin on their cauld white faces, I lost my sight an’ swarfed clean away. Wae be to them for droichs, or ghaists, or whatever they war, for aye sin’ syne the hogg-fence o’ the Quave Brae has been harried an’ traisselled till its little better nor a drift road—I darna gang an’ stop the ewes now for the saul that’s i’ my bouk, an’ little do I wat what’s to come o’ the hoggs the year.”

“Well now, you have explained this much I believe to your own satisfaction— Remember then, you are upon oath—Who do you think it was that killed these men?”

“I think it was outher God or the deil, but whilk o’ them, I coudna say.”

“And this is really your opinion?”

“Yes, it is.”

“Have you seen any strangers about your master’s house of late?”

“I saw one not long ago.”

“What sort of a man was he?”

“A douse-looking man wi’ a brown yaud; I took him for some wool-buyer.”

“Was he not rather like a preacher?”

“The man might hae preached for aught contrair till’t in his appearance—I coudna say.”

“Are you certain it was not Mr Renwick?”

“I am certain.”

“Is your master a very religious man?”

“He’s weel eneugh that way—No that very reithe on’t; but the gudewife hauds his neb right sair to the grindstane about it.”

“Does he perform family worship?”


“Is he reckoned a great and exemplary performer of that duty?”

“Na, he’s nae great gun, I trow; but he warstles away at it as weel as he can.”

“Can you repeat any part, or any particular passage of his usual prayer?”

“I’m sure I might, for he gangs often aneuch oure some o’ them. Let me see— there’s the still waters, and the green pastures, and the blood of bulls and of goats; and then there’s the gos-hawk, and the slogy riddle, and the tyrant an’ his lang neb; I hae the maist o’t i’ my head, but then I canna mouband it.”

“What does he mean by the tyrant and his long neb?”

“Aha! But that’s mair nor ever I could find out yet. We whiles think he means the Kelpy—him that raises the storms an’ the floods on us, ye ken, and gars the waters an’ the burns come roarin down wi’ bracks o’ ice an’ snaw, an’ tak away our sheep. But whether it’s Kelpy, or Clavers, or the Deil, we can never be sure, for we think it applies gay an’ weel to them a’.”

“Repeat the passage as well as you can.”

“Bring down the tyrant an’ his lang neb, for he has done muckle ill this year, and gie him a cup o’ thy wrath; an’ gin he winna tak that, gie him kelty.”

“What is meant by kelty?”

“That’s double—it means twa cups— ony body kens that.”

“Does he ever mention the king in his prayer?”

“O yes: always.”

“What does he say about him?”

“Something about the sceptre of righteousness, and the standard of truth. I ken he has some rhyme about him.”

“Indeed! And does he likewise make mention of the Covenant?”

“Ay, that’s after—that’s near the end, just afore the resurrection. O yes, he harls aye in the Covenant there. The bond o’ the everlasting Covenant, as he ca’s it, weel ordered in all things, and sure.”

“Ay, that’s very well; that’s quite sufficient. Now, you have yourself confessed, that you were at an unlawful and abominable conventicle, holding fellowship with intercommuned rebels, along with your wife and family. You must be made an example of to the snarling and rebellious hounds that are lurking in these bounds; but as you have answered me with candour, though I might order you instantly to be shot, I will be so indulgent as to give you your choice, whether you will go to prison in Edinburgh, and be there tried by the Council, or submit to the judgment which I may pronounce on you here?”

“O, sir, I canna win to Edinbrough at no rate—that’s impossible. What think ye wad come o’ the sheep? The hogg-fence o’ the Quave Brae is maistly ruined already; and war I to gae to the prison at Edinbrough, it wad be mair loss than a’ that I’m worth. I maun just lippen to yoursel; but ye maunna be very sair on me. I never did ony ill designedly; and as for ony rebellion against the Bruce’s blood, I wad be hangit or I wad think o’ sic a thing.”

“Take the old ignorant animal away— Burn him on the cheek, cut off his ears, and do not part with him till he pay you down a fine of two hundred merks, or value to that amount. And, do you hear, make him take all the oaths twice; and a third oath, that he is never to repent of these. By G—, if either Monmouth or Argyle get him, they shall have a perjured dog of him.”

As John was dragged off to this punishment, which was executed without any mitigation, he shook his head and said, “Ah, lak-a day! I fear things are muckle waur wi’ us than I had ony notion o’! I trowed aye that even down truth an’ honesty bure some respect till now—I fear our country’s a’ wrang thegither.”—Then looking back to Clavers, he added, “Gude-sooth, lad, but ye’ll mak mae whigs wherever ye show your face, than a’ the hill preachers o’ Scotland put thegither.”

The punishment given to Old John recalls that allegedly given to James Gavin in Douglas parish, who was said to have had his ears cropped with shears by Claverhouse in the field. In fact, the historical sources confirm that Gavin had his ears cropped in Edinburgh, i.e., not by Claverhouse, in 1685. In chronological terms, Hogg’s story of Old John precedes that of the “tradition” found in Simpson of Gavin’s ear-clipping in the fields. Did Hogg influence the tradition of Gavin?

In Old John’s story, did Claverhouse confuse where ‘the Hope’ was? Was it Riskinhope or was it Chapelhope? The sheep wandered around Chapelhope. Renwick preached at a linn near Earl’s Hill close to Riskinhope. Who can unravel Hogg? Dear Reader, I leave it to you.

For more on James Hogg and the Covenanters, see here.

For more stories and poems on the Covenanters of the 1680s, see here.

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

James Hogg’s Imagined Landscapes of the Covenanters #History #Literature #Scotland

•October 20, 2016 • Leave a Comment

In James Hogg’s novel, The Brownie of Bodsbeck (1818), John Graham of Claverhouse drives off stock in the Yarrow Valley for the reset of fugitives:

riskinhope-and-chapelhopeRiskinhope and Chapelhope © Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse.

‘Upon the whole, there was no proof against Walter. Presumption was against him, but the evidence was rather in his favour. Military law, however, prevailed; and he found that there was no redress to be had of any grievance or insult, that this petty tyrant, in his caprice, thought fit to inflict. His drivers were ordered to take the whole stock from the farms of Kirkinhope [i.e., Riskinhope], belonging to David Bryden, who lived at a distance, because it was proven, that Mr [James] Renwick had preached and baptized some children on the bounds of that farm. That stock he caused to be taken to Selkirk, and sent orders to the sheriff to sell it by public roup, at the cross, to the highest bidder’. (Hogg, Brownie of Bodsbeck, 163-4.)

Later, Hogg informs the reader:

‘The farmer of Riskinhope (David Bryden of Eldin-hope), was ruined by the sequestration of his stock by Clavers, but the shepherds and other servants still lingered about the house for better or for worse. There was not a sheep on that large farm, save about five scores of good ewes, that Davie Tait, the herd of Whithope, had turned slyly over into the hags of the Yokeburn-head, that day the drivers took away the stock.’

Map of Whithope Burn

Map of Yoke Burn

whithope-burn-from-earls-hillThe Whithope Burn from Earl’s Hill © Jim Barton and licensed for reuse.

‘When Clavers made his last raid up by Chapelhope, all the family of Riskinhope fled to the hills, and betook them to cover, every one by himself; and there, with beating hearts, peeped through the heath and the rash-bush, to watch the motions of that bloody persecutor. Perilous was their case that day, for had any of them been found in that situation, it would have been enough; but Davie well knew it was good for him to keep out of the way, for Mr [James] Renwick, and Mr [Alexander] Shields, as well as other wanderers, had been sheltered in his house many a night [at Whithope], and the latter wrote his Hind let Loose in a small house at the side of Winterhopeburn.’ (Hogg, Brownie of Bodsbeck, 272-3.)

Map of Winterhope Burn


For more on James Hogg and the Covenanters, see here.

For more stories and poems on the Covenanters of the 1680s, see here.

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


James Hogg & ‘Claverhouse and his Company Shooting Covenanters’ #Literature #Art #Scotland

•October 19, 2016 • 2 Comments


The scene of executions. Did Claverhouse kill five men at Erne Cleuch?… The image above on the title page of Scots Worthies certainly makes it seem like he did.

The frontispiece of the 1864 edition of Howie’s Scots Worthies shows John Graham of Claverhouse summarily executing some Covenanters at Erne Cleuch. Howie of Lochgoin’s work was more hagiography, designed to praise the martyrs, than history. Many of the deaths and “sufferings” of the Killing Times were real, but curiously the 1864 edition put up front one that is derived from a novel by James Hogg.

Hogg, one of Scotland’s greatest writers, cannot to blamed for how others appear to have incorporated his stories into their historical traditions. What the etching does reveal, is a strange tale that links Hogg, a pioneer of photography, an Edinburgh engraver, the tradions of the martyrs and the landscape.

The NMS in Edinburgh has the engraving that inspired the 1864 edition:

‘Framed engraving, ‘Erne Cleuch, Claverhouse and his Company Shooting Covenanters’, inscribed ‘D.O. Hill RSA, W. Howison’

David Octavius Hill was a painter and a famed pioneer of photography. William Howison, or Howieson, was an engraver. Both men lived in Edinburgh and were associates of George Harvey, who frequently painted the Covenanters. As Howieson died in 1850, the original presumably dates to before that time. The image of Claverhouse at Erne Cleuch is a Hill original.

Hogg and Claverhouse
The Erne Cleuch engraving connects to a passage about Claverhouse in James Hogg’s The Brownie of Bodsbeck (1818):

‘The Covenanters knew that Clavers would make a sweeping and exterminating circuit about that time—incidents which were not to be overlooked, had been paving the way for it—incidents with which the main body of that people were totally unconnected. But it was usual at that time, and a very unfair practice it was, that whatever was said, or perpetrated, by any intemperate fanatical individual, or any crazy wight, driven half mad by ill usage—whatever was said or done by such, was always attributed to the whole sect as a body.

It is too true that the Privy Council chose, invariably, men void of all feeling or remorse to lead these troops. A man had nothing to study but to be cruel enough to rise in the army in those days ; yet, because there was a Dalziel, a Graham, a Creighton, and a Bruce among the king’s troops, it would be unfair to suppose all the rest as void of every principle of feeling and forbearance as they. In like manner, because some of the Covenanters said violent and culpable things, and did worse, it is hard to blame the whole body for these; for, in the scattered prowling way in which they were driven to subsist, they had no control over individuals.

They had been looking for the soldiers’ appearing there for several days, and that same morning had been on the watch; but the day was now so far advanced that they were waxen remiss, and had retired to their dens and hiding places. Besides, he came so suddenly upon them that some parties, as well as several stragglers, were instantly discovered. A most determined pursuit ensued. Clavers exerted himself that day in such a manner, galloping over precipices, and cheering on his dragoons, that all the country people who beheld him believed him to be a devil, or at least mounted on one.

The marks of that infernal courser’s feet are shewn to this day on a steep hill nearly perpendicular, below the Bubbly Craig, along which he is said to have ridden at full speed, in order to keep sight of a party of the flying Covenanters.’

mirk-sideMirk Side © Michael Graham and licensed for reuse.

‘At another place, called the Blue Sklidder, on the Merk side, he had far outrode all his officers and dragoons in the pursuit of five men, who fled straggling athwart the steep. He had discharged both his pistols without effect; and just as he was making ready to cleave down the hindmost with his sabre, he was attacked by another party, who rolled huge stones at him from the precipice above, and obliged him to make a hasty retreat.’

The entry in the mid nineteenth-century OS name book for ‘Blue Sklidder’ is scored out, but it lay by Mirkside, which is opposite the falls of the Grey Mare’s Tail.

Map of Mirkside

‘Tradition has preserved the whole of his route that day with the utmost minuteness. It is not easy to account for this. These minute traditions are generally founded on truth; yet though two generations have scarcely passed away since the date of this tale,* tradition, in this instance, relates things impossible, else Clavers must indeed have been one of the infernals. Often has the present relater of this tale stood over the deep green marks of that courser’s hoof, many of which remain on that hill, in awe and astonishment, to think that he was actually looking at the traces made by the devil‘s foot, or at least by a horse that once belonged to him.

* One of the women baptized in the Linn of Riskinhope by Renwick that year, has several children yet alive, not very aged people.’

Towards Loch Skeen from Watch Knowe

Towards Loch Skeen from Watch Knowe © Iain Lees and licensed for reuse.

‘Five men were slain that day; but as they were all westland men, very little is known concerning them. One of them was shot at a distance by some dragoons who were in pursuit of him, just as he was entering a morass, where he would certainly have escaped them. He is buried on a place called the Watch Knowe, a little to the south-east of Loch Skene, beside a cairn where he had often sat keeping watch for the approach of enemies, from which circumstance the height derived its name. When he fell, it being rough broken ground, they turned and rode off without ever going up to the body.’

Aerial View of Watch Knowe

There are two cairns on top of Watch Knowe.

Map of Watch Knowe

Watch Knowe was where the OS name book stated that the Covenanters ‘used to Station Men to give warning of the approach of the Soldiers’. There is no historical evidence that a Covenanter was killed and buried at Watch Knowe.

Hogg continues:

‘Four were surprised and taken prisoners on a height called Ker-Cleuch-Ridge, who were brought to Clavers and shortly examined on a little crook in the Erne Cleuch, a little above the old steading at Hopertoudy.’

Map of Kerrcleuch Rig

Aerial View of Kerrcleuch Rig


Waterfall on the Happertutie Burn © Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse.

‘Hopertoudy’ is Happertutie, which lies next other settings used by Hogg for the Covenanters at Dob’s Linn and the Watch Knowe. The location of the burn indicates that Hogg’s ‘Erne Cleuch’ is where the Happertutie Burn flows down from Yearny Knowe. It lies on the march boundary between Dumfriesshire and the Borders. It has to be said, that the falls in the engraving, above, resemble those on the Happertutie Burn when viewed from near the bridge.

Map of Happertutie Burn

Aerial View of Happertutie Burn

There is absolutely no historical evidence that four Covenanters were killed there. However, the four men that Hogg claims died by the hand of Claverhouse at Happertutie and the other at Watch Knowe can be added to the list of traditional deaths in the Killing Times which lie out with the realm of history.

For more on James Hogg and the Covenanters, see here.

For more stories and poems on the Covenanters of the 1680s, see here.

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



Swords of the Covenanters: The Andrea Ferrara of Woodburn killed in 1685 #History #Scotland

•October 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

George Woodburn, a martyr of the Killing Times, was shot at Midland in Fenwick parish in November, 1685. He was killed in the raid that seized John Nisbet of Hardhill. Woodburn’s sword, said to be of the highest craftsmanship, was passed down through his family.


‘George Woodburn’s sword—an Andrea Ferrara, of 40 .1 inches in length—is still in . the possession of one of his descendants, in the farm of [Loudoun] Mains, in the parish of Loudon.’ (Thompson (ed.) Cloud of Witnesses, 549.)

And in more detail, here:

‘Woodburn’s representatives still live in the neighbouring parish of Loudon, at the Mains, a farmhouse about a mile to the north-west of Newmilns, where his sword is still preserved. It is forty and a half inches in length, and has stamped upon it the words “Andrea Ferrara.” It was lately put to the test which it is said all the swords of Andrea de Ferrara will stand. Its point was bent round to the hilt, and on being freed from constraint it at once returned to its wonted straightness. Woodburn had oftener than once been in hiding. It was he who was sent to bring [John] Nisbet of Hardhill to Drumclog. Hence he was a marked man. Tradition relates that on one occasion, when the dragoons came to the Mains in search of him, and soon left without finding him, one of their number, after the rest were gone, returned, and charged the mistress of the house to tell George to cover himself better up the next time he hid himself, for he had seen his foot in the spence, peeping through the straw. (Thompson, Martyr Graves, 108-9.)

I am sure I have recently viewed that sword in a museum or church, but which one it was in escapes me for now. It was not Greyfriars, where Traill’s sword is, or the NMS. If any one knows where it is, please get in touch.

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Additional 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

Photo: Midland Farm © Becky Williamson and licensed for reuse.

A Memento of James Renwick’s Tree #History #Scotland

•October 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Continue reading ‘A Memento of James Renwick’s Tree #History #Scotland’

‘Stood Without, in the Rain, and Preached’: Nisbet on Renwick in Late 1687 #History #Scotland

•October 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

In late 1687, James Nisbet heard James Renwick field preach ‘within two months’ of the latter’s capture, i.e., in about early December.


Braid’s Craigs © Anthony O’Neil and licensed for reuse.

Nisbet tells us about the kind of man Renwick was. In the incessant rain, Renwick chose to stand in the downpour with his hearers, rather than use his preaching tent. Renwick had used a preaching tent at Polgavin Moor in 1686.

Craig Minnan

Craig Minnan

We know that Renwick field preached at Craig Minnan by Duchal Moor on the boundary between Kilmacolm parish and Lochwinnoch parish in September.

According to September 1687. Some notes or heads of a preface and sermon [Canticles chapter 4, last verse] at Lintoch – steps, by that great man of God, and now glorified martyr Mr James Renwick, he preached at the ‘Lintoch-steps’, a mysterious location that possibly lay by Linthaugh in Stonehouse parish, in the same month. See also A Choice Collection, 509-21.

Renwick’s indictment when he was captured in February, 1688, also mentioned that he field preached at ‘Braid’s Craigs’, within two miles of Edinburgh, in November.

The preaching Nisbet attended appears to be a different and later event.

‘The latter end of this year [i.e., 1687], I heard that great man of God, Mr. James Renwick, preach on the Song of Solomon, iii, 9, 10, [‘King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.’] where he treated sweetly on the covenant of redemption, agreed on betwixt God the Father and God the Son, his equal, in favours of the elect, and also on the covenant of grace established with believers in Christ. This was a great and sweet day of the gospel, for he handled and pressed the privileges of the covenant of grace with seraphic-like enlargement, to the great edification of the hearers. Sweet and charming were the offers that he made of Christ to all sorts of sinners. There was one thing this day which was very remarkable to me, for though it was rain from morning till night, and we as wet as if drenched in water, yet not one fell sick; and though there was a tent fixed for him, he would not go into it, but stood without, in the rain, and preached: which example had great influence on the people to patience, when they saw his sympathy with them; and though he was the only minister that kept closest to his text, and had the best method for the judgment and memory of any that ever I heard, yet now, when he perceived the people crowding close together, because of the rain, he digressed a little, and cried, with a pleasant melting voice, My dear friends, be not disturbed because of the rain; for to have a covenant interest in Christ, the true Solomon, and in the benefits of his blessed purchase, are well worth the enduring of all temporal elementary storms that can fall on us: and this Solomon, who is here pointed at, endured a far other kind of storm for his people, even a storm of unmixed wrath. And what would the poor damned reprobates in hell give for this day’s offer of sweet and lovely Christ to be their redeemer! and how welcome would our suffering friends, in prison – and banishment, make this day’s offer of Christ! And I, for my own part, says he, as the Lord will help me, shall bear my equal share of this rain in sympathy with you.— And then he returned to his sweet subject again, and offered us peace and reconciliation with God, through Christ, by his spirit. Words fail me to express my own frame, and the frame of many others; only this, we would have been glad to have endured any Kind of death, to have been home at the uninterrupted enjoyment of that glorious Redeemer, who was so livelily and clearly offered to us that day. O my soul, behold and wonder! What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits for here he was remarkably present with us, by inward consolation and outward preservation. But now, with a grieved heart, I must bid a final farewell, in time, to this worthy minister and highly-honoured martyr; for, within two months, he was apprehended after this, and executed at Edinburgh, 17th February 1688. (Nisbet, Private Life of the Persecuted, 196-9.)

For more on the life of James Nisbet, see here.

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Additional 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

Nisbet at Renwick’s Field Preaching in the last half of 1686 #History #Scotland

•October 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Cargill Preaching in the Fields

In the late summer or autumn of 1686, James Nisbet, a fugitive from near Newmilns, heard James Renwick field preach. He had heard Renwick before in July, 1685.

‘The last half of this year [1686 …] I had occasion to hear Mr. Renwick from these words, Hab. ii, 3, “ For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but, at the end, it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not tarry.”

Which words he explained, improved, and applied, vindicating the sovereignty of God, notwithstanding of his long delay to come with deliverance to his church and people. Likewise he pressed the great necessity of faith, patience, and humility, under the Lord’s delay; and, towards the close of his sermon, he, with a great asseveration, assured us, that, for these sins, whereby the Lord was provoked to withhold deliverance from his church and people, Scotland should be laid as desolate as a barren mountain; adding this caution to all who are helped, through grace, to follow Christ in the regeneration, to take this for their comfort, that as that stroke, when it came, should be the deepest Jordan that ever his people waded in, so it should be the narrowest. Upon which, he exhorted all to make sure of a personal interest in the Lord Jesus Christ, and to walk closely with him in newness of life; for that trial, when it came, would be both sore and heavy; but on the back of that sad cloud there should be as glorious days in Scotland again, as ever was any where since the Apostles days, at which time the nation should be married to the Lord covenant-wise. The place of this meeting might be called Bohem, for both minister and people wept much.’ (Nisbet, Private Life of the Persecuted, 165-6.)

At some point, Renwick preached on the same text, Habakkuk, 2.3-4, and a similar topic. (A Choice Collection, 320-32.)

Nisbet places Renwick’s field preaching somewhere in the latter half of 1686.

In the first half of that year, he is known to have field preached about once a month: In Stonehouse parish (17 January), Lesmahagow parish (March), Cumnock parish (April), probably somewhere in Galloway, Nithsdale and Annandale prior to 3 May, and in Muirkirk parish (May). (Houston, Letters, 191, 192-3.)

In the latter half of 1686, he appears to follow a similar pattern until the last two months of the year, when held 13 meetings in a short period in the South West.

Following his preaching in the Lammermuirs on 18 July, Renwick briefly went to England, before he preached at Polgavin Muir in Dumfriesshire on 15 August. The latter was not the preaching that Nisbet attended, as Renwick preached on a different text.

At some point after mid August, Renwick was back in the area where Nisbet is known to have hidden in Ayrshire, Lanarkshire and the very north of Nithsdale. In the late summer he preached in Cambuslang parish, Lanarkshire, and on 31 October in Dreghorn parish, Ayrshire.

Soon after that, he was again in the South West, where he held 13 meetings, probably two every week, preaching at Kirkmabreck (21 November), between the rivers Dee and Cree (25 November), Earlstoun Wood (5 December), Irongray parish (mid December) before returning north to preach at a fast day at Cairn Table in Ayrshire (28 December). The latter was also not on the text mentioned by Nisbet. See A Choice Collection, 233-70.

The above suggests that the preaching that Nisbet attended was probably held between late August and the beginning of November, 1686.

For more on the life of James Nisbet, see here.

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Additional 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