James Renwick’s Preaching at Greenock and the Carolina Merchant Banishments

Pulit Rock near Greenock

On 28 August 1684, the Privy Council ordered a party to bring in nine named prisoners and several more ‘who were present lately at a field conventicle kept within half a mile of Greenock, by Mr James Renwick, where a child was baptised’ to Edinburgh. (Wodrow, History, IV, 51.)

The entry in the registers of the privy council is more detailed.

28 August, 1684
‘The Lords of his Majesties privie Councill doe hereby recommend to Generall Thomas Dalyell or General Lieutenant [William] Drummond to cause such a party of his Majesties forces as they shall think fitt immediatly to search for, seaze upon, apprehend and bring in prisoners to the tolbuith of Edinburgh the persones underwritten who wer present at a field conventicle lately keept within half a myle of the toune of Greenock, where Master James Renwick preached and baptized a child, viz.:— Patrick Lang, maltman in Greenock, James Holme, tennent in Greenock, William Baird, journieman shoemaker to William Andrew there, James Warden, shopkeeper there, William Scott, tailzeor there, Mareon Muir, spous to James Scott, seaman there ——– Linning who lived at Polmaudie or Little Giveand [i.e., Little Govan], George Muir at Ruglen, —– Tom in Polmadie, Little Giveand or Glasgow, the said William Andrew, shoemaker in Greenock, Robert Roger, maltman there, James Mortoune, maltman there, James Martine, maltman, —– —–, spouse to James Schaw, milner there, John Watt in Easter Kilbryd [parish], —— Morisones, daughters to Stiven Morisone, ropspinder there [in Greenock].’ (RPCS, IX, 131.)

Where did Renwick Preach?

Renwick’s preaching took place outside of the burgh of Greenock in Renfrewshire. He also preached at other sites in the shire, such as Craig Minnan and Linthills. The exact site of the preaching is not known, although the Covenanters’ Well and Pulpit Rock above Gourock is probably a good candidate. (See above (Pulpit Rock) and below (Pulpit Rock and Covenanters’ Well foreground.) John Erskine of Carnock who visited the Carolina Merchant specifically places the ship at Gourock. Pulpit Rock lies above Gourock and ‘near’ Greenock. It is very unusual to find traditional field preachng sites like Pulpit Rock in western Renfrewshire.


Who was at the near Greenock Preaching?

Most of those named appear to have been residents of the burgh of Greenock. Four of the named suspects from parishes south of Glasgow are of particular interest.

George Muir in Rutherglen was listed on the published Fugitive Roll of May 1684.

The other two, ——– Linning and ——– Tom, are both associated with Polmadie. The name Linning carries obvious associations with a high-profile member of the Societies known as Thomas Linning, but there is no evidence of a linkage. Tom or Thom, could be Robert Thom in Polmadie who was also listed on the Fugitive Roll. In May 1685, a weaver in Polmadie known as Robert Thom was summarily executed in the field by Major Balfour. (Wodrow, History, IV, 250-1; Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 201.)

John Watt ‘in Easter Kilbryd’ [parish] was captured and executed in Edinburgh in November, 1684.

When did the Greenock preaching take place?

The Privy Council’s description of Renwick’s preaching as having occurred ‘lately’ is quite vague. It was probably held over a month prior to 28 August, as William Niven, who had probably attended a related preaching ‘near Paisley’ was captured on 29 July. The preaching near Greenock took place after Renwick’s preaching at Black Loch on 8 June. That suggests that Renwick preached while the ship which was banishing Society people to Carolina was anchored in Greenock Roads.

Many of those on the “Carolina Merchant” can be identified. They included Robert Urie who may have been known to the contingent from the Little Govan area. A John Urie was summarily executed at Polmadie in May, 1685. The latter’s widow, Jennet Howie, later petitioned the Privy Council.

Why was Renwick outside Greenock?

Greenock was an unusual location for Renwick to preach, as it did not lie in the heartlands of the militant Society people. One explanation could be that Renwick probably preached there in connection with the banishment of Society people on the “Carolina Merchant”/The Pelican at that time. The ship appears to have departed from Greenock on 27 July, 1684.

On 30 July, Renwick was nearly captured at Dungavel on his way to the Societies’ fifteenth convention at Auchengilloch.

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

~ by drmarkjardine on September 28, 2010.

13 Responses to “James Renwick’s Preaching at Greenock and the Carolina Merchant Banishments”

  1. […] of two Society people, James Smith in Threepwood and John Smith in Cronan, and the capture of William Campbell at Welwood, as discussed in following […]

  2. […] in August 1684, James Renwick held conventicle close to Greenock. As the portioner of Greenock, Thomas Edward would have been held responsible for his tenants’ […]

  3. […] their cousin John Campbell. Both the brothers and their cousin appear to have been captured after Renwick’s preaching at Greenock in Muirkirk parish and subsequently made a successful escape from their Edinburgh prison with eight […]

  4. […] was almost certainly the Gabriel Thomson in Carmunnock, Lanarkshire, who was ordered along with ‘William Campbell at Muirkirk, Robert Thom in Carmunnock, … John Ure maltman in Glasgow, John M’Levy shoemaker in Kilmarnock, James Nicol in Peebles […]

  5. […] Bog by Black Loch in New Monklands parish, Lanarkshire, was held in June 1684 and his preaching at Greenock in Muirkirk parish, Ayrshire, in early August 1684, it is a reasonable assumption that the […]

  6. […] was the home of the Campbells of Welwood, who were possibly captured at Renwick’s conventicle at Greenock, escaped from the Canongate Tolbooth and were later pursued as fugitives in 1684 and […]

  7. […] James Renwick preached against the banishments near Greenock. […]

  8. […] after the Carolina Merchant banishments, James Renwick preached at Greenock and ‘near Paisley’. The both preachings almost certainly took place before Tuesday 29 July, […]

  9. […] Tom in Polmadie, Little Giveand [i.e., Little Govan] or Glasgow’ was captured after James Renwick’s preaching at Greenoock in mid 1684. (RPCS, IX, […]

  10. […] For related posts, see the execution of Lawson and Wood, the Carolina banishments and James Renwick’s preaching at Greenock. […]

  11. […] That Reid’s wife visited Clarkson in the Canongate Tolbooth prior to his banishment in the summer of 1684 once again hints at connections between her and Society people in Linlithgowshire. However, it is at this point in Reid’s narrative that he clarifies where he and his wife stood on the spectrum of Presbyterian dissent. Alexander and Margaret received an offer to go into voluntary exile in Carolina. The Society people were opposed acceptance of such terms as a desertion of the testimony in Scotland. At the same time as the Malloch banishments, several Society people held in Glasgow offered a joint testimony against their banishment and those who accepted voluntary exile to Carolina. James Renwick, the Societies’ minister, also preached against the banishments. […]

  12. […] bring in one ‘ —– Tom in Polmadie, Little Giveand or Glasgow’ who appears to have been at James Renwick’s preaching near Greenock earlier in the month. (RPCS, IX, […]

  13. […] period prior to 20 September 1684 Renwick had preached at Black-loch, ‘Woolf-hole-craig’ and Greenock. (Shields, Life of Renwick, […]

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