Cargill’s preaching in Fife: King Killing, Kettle and the Kine of Bashan

Devon Common © Richard Webb and licensed for reuse.

On 26 June, 1681, Donald Cargill preached one of his last sermons near the Lomond Hills in Fife.

According to Patrick Walker, ‘From the Bendry-bridge he went to Fife, and baptized many Children, and preached only one Sabbath at the Lomond-Hills, and hasted back to Clydsdale, and came to the Benty-rig in Cambusnethen Parish.’ (Walker, BP, II, 37.)

Cargill’s preaching at the Lomond Hills in Fife took place between his preaching at Benry Bridge on 19 June 1681 and a meeting at Benty-rig on c.28 June. He was almost certainly called to preach there by the local Fife societies, who were among the most militant in their network.

Walker’s description of the site is broadly accurate, however, the location for Cargill’s preaching lay just to the east of the Lomond Hills. From other evidence it is clear that Cargill preached at Devon Common on 26 June. First, a manuscript copy of Cargill’s sermon at ‘Dovan Common’ is dated to ‘the 26th day of the sixth month’. Second, under interrogation on 15 July 1681, Cargill admitted to preaching at ‘Devan Common’ on c.26 June: ‘Being interrogate when he was in Fife, confesses he was there Friday was a twenty days or month, and preached in Devan-common.’ (Grant, No King But Christ, 261-2; Wodrow, History, III, 280.)

Devon Common lies to the east of a farm of the same name on the boundary of Kettle parish with Kennoway parish in Fife. The common lay around the farm of Torliosk

Map Devon Common/Torloisk

Cargill was also interrogated about the presence of the fugitive assassins of James Sharp, archbishop of St Andrews, at his Devon Common preaching: ‘Being interrogate, if any of the Hendersons were there, confesses there was one John Henderson, a man about thirty years of age.’ He also confessed that he ‘did see’ James Russell in Kingskettle ‘within these twelve months, or thereby, to the best of his knowledge’. (Wodrow, History, III, 280.)

The ‘John Henderson’ that Cargill identified was probably John Henderson, a servant of Alexander Hamilton of Kinkell, rather than John Henderson in Kilbrackmont, the father of two of the assassins of Sharp. John Henderson, a.k.a. Henryson, was a member of the local societies that had planned an attack on Sheriff Carmichael in April 1679. (Kirkton, Secret History, 408-11; Jardine, United Societies’, II, 189.)

Russell’s Protestation of 1681

The actions of James Russell and other local militants may have been the cause of Cargill’s journey to Fife. In early April 1681, James Russell, one of the assassins of archbishop Sharp, posted a protestation on the door of Kettle church which was quickly seized on and printed by the authorities as evidence of presbyterian fanaticism under the title of A true and exact Copy of a prodigious and traiterous Libel affixt upon the Church Door of Kettle in Fife, the Third of this Instant, being Easter Day; written and subscribed by James Russell, one of those bloody and sacrilegious Murtherers of the late Lord Primate of Scotland his Grace. Published by Authority, for the Satisfaction and Information of all his Majesties loyal and dutiful Subjects. Edin: printed Anno Dom: 1681 (Edinburgh, 1681)

The full text of Russell’s remarkable protestation can be found here:

James Russells Protestation 3 April 1681

According to Charles Kirkpatrick-Sharpe, ‘in this paper, which is extremely verbose, Russell protests against paying of feu-duty, minister’s stipend’ to Mr John Barclay, ‘a thief and a robber, and taxes; and against his mother (to whom he had written on the subject without success,) and James Dale, who is now labouring his land at her instance, their paying the same. He styles the king “Charles Stewart, a bull of Bashan, and all his associats are bulls and keyn of Bashan. What would you judge to be your duty, if there were a wild and mad bull running up and down Scotland, killing and slaying all that were come in his way, man, wife, and bairn? Would you not think it your duty, and every one’s duty, to kill him, according to that scripture, Exod: 21. 28. 29. &c.?”.’ (Kirkton, Secret History, 399.)

The church which Russell posted his protest on lay in the village of Kingskettle in the parish graveyard. It was erected in 1636, but abandoned in 1832 and replaced by a new church that stands next to the graveyard. The 1636 kirk appears as a ruin on the old ‘Six inch’ OS map.

Map of the 1636 Kingskettle Church       Street View

John Barclay was the minister of Kettle parish from 1667 to 1689. He deprived of his charge at the Revolution and was found dead in a well in Edinburgh in 1691. (Fasti, V, 159.)

Exodus 21.28-29:
‘If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.’

Russell’s reference to the bulls and kine of Bashan was drawn from Amos 4.1-2.:
‘Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan, that are in the mountain of Samaria, which oppress the poor, which crush the needy, which say to their masters, Bring, and let us drink. The Lord God hath sworn by his holiness, that, lo, the days shall come upon you, that he will take you away with hooks, and your posterity with fishhooks.’

Near Bankton, Kettle parish © James Allan and licensed for reuse.

Russell is said to have lived at Bankton in Kettle parish, a farm which lay close to Cargill’s preaching site at Devon Common. Today, Bankton has vanished, but it lay between Kettlebridge (Old Kettle) and Chapel farm.

James Russell Bankton

Map of former site of Bankton       Street View

Kilconquhar © Richard Law and licensed for reuse.

Links to Three Other Captured Militant Covenanters

The actions of three other militants involved in a local prayer society, Andrew Pitilloch, of Largo parish, and Laurence Hay and Adam Philip, both of Kilconquhar parish, may also have drawn Cargill’s attention. On 11 June 1681 they had published an infamous paper called ‘the Sixth Month’ which disowned ‘the King and all the ministers of this church, excepting Mr Donald Cargill’. (Wodrow, History, III, 278.)

The dating of Cargill’s sermon at Devon Common to 26 June 1681 confirms the correct sequence of dates for Cargill’s final field preachings and that he arrived at Benty-rig a few days later.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on March 8, 2011.

9 Responses to “Cargill’s preaching in Fife: King Killing, Kettle and the Kine of Bashan”

  1. […] that the latter list is correct. This view is confirmed by the evidence that Cargill preached at Devon Common near the Lomond Hills on 26 June. In short, Brown’s claim that Cargill preached at Benty-rig is […]

  2. […] Sabbath in early June, ie. on Sunday 12 June, and on following Sabbaths at Benry Bridge (19 June), Lomond Hills (26 June) and Auchengilloch (3 July) before he preached his last sermon at Dunsyre Common on 10 […]

  3. […] the subscription of the Sixth Month by members of the Fife society, Cargill preached to them at Devon Common on 26 […]

  4. […] Henderson remained at liberty and attended Cargill’s preaching at Devon Common on 26 June, […]

  5. […] toured the South West (c.12 May- c.5 June), Coulter Heights (12 June), Benry Bridge (19 June), Devon Common (26 June) Auchengilloch (3 July) and Dunsyre Common (10 […]

  6. […] Capture of Thomson Thomson was captured when returning from Donald Cargill’s preaching at Devon Common in Fife of 26 June, 1681. (Thomson (ed.), CW, […]

  7. […] inscribed ‘For cutting tyrants’ throats’, may indicate that he was taken after Cargill’s Devon Common preaching on 26 June, as two Society people were taken in and around Alloa after it and all of those captured […]

  8. […] hills’ may have been on East or West Lomond, or somewhere in the surrounding hills. In 1681, a field preaching by Donald Cargill was said to have been held at Lomond Hills, however Cargill’s preaching actually took place on Devon Common, which lies to the east of East […]

  9. […] Heights, Lanarkshire (12 June) Benry Bridge, Lanarkshire (19 June) Lomond Hills, Fife (26 June) Auchengilloch, Lanarkshire (3 July) Dunsyre Common, Lanarkshire (10 […]

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