‘Wilt thou become a Walloway’: Cargill and the Lord’s Cause in Carrick and Galloway

The Cargill Stone near Maybole © wfmillar and licensed for reuse.

In May 1681 Donald Cargill embarked on a journey to spread his militant message into Carrick and Galloway in the deep South West of Scotland. It was not the first time that he had ventured into that area, as he had visited Earlstoun Castle in early 1680, but he did not preached there with Richard Cameron and Thomas Douglas in mid 1680. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 24-5.)

The little that we know about Cargill’s activities in that area is derived from Walker’s Life of Cargill:

‘When he went from Loudoun-hill, he passed through the Shire of Air, Carrick, and into Galloway, preaching, baptizing and marrying, but stayed a short Time there. When he left Galloway, he said, Farewel, Galloway, for I will never come back to thee again: Thou art now Galloway, but thou wilt become a Wallaway, and I fear other Shires in the South and West of Scotland be little better. Mr. [Alexander] Peden, had the same Expressions’. (Walker, BP, II, 34.)

Walker’s account of Cargill’s tour of the South West was also used by John Howie of Lochgoin in Scots Worthies. (Howie, Scots Worthies, 521.)

Alexander Peden later echoed Cargill’s sentiment that Galloway had become a ‘wallaway’, i.e. an example (of something) that causes misery or the worst possibility (DSL), in one of his sermons at Glenluce in 1682, when he contrasted the recent failure of Galloway and Carrick to contend for Christ’s cause with the example of the United Societies’ Lanark Declaration in Clydesdale. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, I, 54.)

After Cargill preached at Loudoun Hill on Thursday 5 May, he moved through Ayrshire, Carrick and Galloway before he returned to Lanarkshire and preached at Coulter Heights on Sunday 12 June. That time frame suggests that Cargill may have preached on relatively few occasions in Galloway, as only five Sabbaths fall between 5 May and 12 June (i.e. 8 May, 15 May, 22 May, 29 May and 5 June).

Cargill’s preaching schedule suggests that from Loudoun Hill, which sits on the Ayrshire side of the shire boundary with Lanarkshire, he moved through Ayrshire and Carrick before reaching Galloway. One of Cargill’s preaching sites in the South West can be identified.

Cargill Stone © James Hearton and licensed for reuse.

According to local tradition, Cargill preached at the Cargill Stone near Cargilston (or Cargillstone) in Maybole parish, Carrick, Ayrshire in the spring of 1681. (Roderick Lawson, Places of Interest about Girvan with some glimpses of Carrick History (1895), 121; Charles Shirra Dougall, The Burns Country (1911), 73; and here.)

Map of Cargill’s Stone        Streetview of Cargill’s Stone

The inscription on the Cargilston Monument is as follows:


‘Cargill 1681’


Mungo Eccles, Thomas Horn, Robert M’Garron, John M’Harie, John M’Whirter and William Rodger, who were all from Maybole parish, were captured at the Battle of Bothwell Brig and held prisoner in Greyfriars Kirkyard in Edinburgh. They were among those who refused to take the bond of peace and were banished aboard The Croune of London from Leith. The vessel foundered off Orkney on 10 December 1679 and 197 of its cargo of prisoners drowned, including the six Maybole men. (Campbell, Standing Witnesses, 200.)

The inscription records that Cargill preached there in 1681. Given the time frame of Cargill’s journey into the South West, he probably preached there in mid May.

The original Cargill Stone was almost certainly a prominent boulder, but it was blown up in the mid nineteenth century. Some of the boulder, minus fragments which were removed by relic hunters, is said to have been incorporated into the Cargilston monument.

Cargill Court Memorial © Becky Williamson and licensed for reuse.

Another fragment of Cargill Stone was built into the wall of Maybole’s Free Church, which was also known as the Cargill Memorial Church, until it was demolished in 1985. Fortunately, the fragment was preserved by a local builder and in 2006 it was incorporated into the new monument on the former site of the Cargill Church at Cargill Court.

Street View of Cargill Court Monument

The inscription on the monument at Cargill Court is as follows:

‘This is part of a stone beside which
Donald Cargill
is believed to have conducted
a conventicle
on the farm of Cargillstone
during the Covenanting Period
1638 – 1688’

[And below]

‘This stone was once part of
The Cargill Church
which stood on this site until

The Peden/Cargill Summit
It is possible that Cargill met his fellow field preacher, Alexander Peden, during his sojourn in Carrick and Galloway in May to June 1681.

In the Life of Peden, Walker recorded Alexander Gordon of Earlstoun’s memories of his last encounters with Peden. According to Walker’s account, Earlstoun was sent ‘from the Societies in Galloway to Carrick, to call Mr. Peden to preach’ at some point after the Bothwell Rising in 1679 and prior to Earlstoun’s departure for the United Provinces in early 1682. Peden is recorded as returning from exile in Ireland when he attended Mauchline Fair in late 1680. He was also in Galloway in early 1681. Walker continues:

‘And further, he [Earlstoun] said, The last time that he saw Mr. Peden, was with Mr. Donald Cargil, where they continued a long time, comparing notes; seeing with one eye, and thinking with one mind, and speaking with one breath, of all things, past, present, and what was to befal this Church and Nation. (Walker, BP, I, 118.)

Ruined farm at Friarminnan © Chris Wimbush and licensed for reuse.

It is not clear if the Peden/Cargill summit took place in 1680 or 1681. Earlstoun’s final encounter with Peden must have taken place after he called Peden to Galloway and prior to Cargill’s capture in July 1681. The presence of Earlstoun, who was from Dalry parish in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, at the meeting probably indicates that it took place either in Galloway or possibly somewhere else in the South West. Cargill knew Earlstoun and had stayed at his house in early 1680. There is no record of Cargill’s presence in the South West after that and prior to his flight into exile in England in November 1680. However, after he returned from exile he did journey through the South West in May to early June 1681. Peden’s presence in the South West is also recorded in an uncorroborated inscription which simply reads ‘Peden 1681′ is found on a rock at Friarminnan (NS 739 189) in Kirkconnel parish, Dumfriesshire.

Monuments at Friarminnan © Chris Wimbush and licensed for reuse.

The inscription, which is now quite faint, can be found on the rock which lies behind the memorial.

Map of Friarminnan/Peden 1681 Stone            Aerial View of Friarminnan

A modern plaque at Friarminnan also records Peden’s preaching.

Friarminnan Plaque © Chris Wimbush and licensed for reuse.

The remote moorland farm at Friarminnan became one of the United Societies’ key sites and hosted the twenty-fifth, thirty-third and thirty-seventh conventions. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 116-117.)

It is not clear by which route Cargill returned to Lanarkshire, but he either returned directly across the hills from Ayrshire or he went around the South West and moved back north via Nithsdale, as Cargill’s next recorded field preaching was at Coulter Heights in Lanarkshire on 12 June, 1681.

It is possible that Cargill preached at Hynd’s Bottom beside Friarminnan during his tour of the South West.

It is also possible that he preached in the Wood of Earlstoun during that same tour. He had been in Galloway during that tour, as two weeks after returning to Lanarkshire, representatives from the Galloway societies met with Cargill at Benty Rig to call him back to Galloway ‘to preach and baptize’. (Walker, BP, II, 37-8.)

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

~ by drmarkjardine on June 7, 2011.

11 Responses to “‘Wilt thou become a Walloway’: Cargill and the Lord’s Cause in Carrick and Galloway”

  1. […] Donald Cargill preached in Carrick and Galloway in May 1681, he returned to Lanarkshire where he preached at Home’s Common, which somewhere […]

  2. […] was where Peden may have met Cargill in 1681 and was the site of three United Societies’ […]

  3. […] In that year Cargill preached at Darmead (24 April), Underbank Wood (1 May), Loudoun Hill (5 May), toured the South West (c.12 May- c.5 June), Coulter Heights (12 June), Benry Bridge (19 June), Devon Common (26 June) […]

  4. […] After preaching at Underbank Wood, Cargill preached at Loudoun Hill on 5 May and then toured the South West of Scotland. […]

  5. […] the United Societies until at least 1686. At some point in the weeks after Loudoun Hill, Cargill preached in the South West for ‘a short time’ before he returned to Lanarkshire and preached at Coulter Heights. (Walker, […]

  6. […] Cargill then went on a brief preaching tour of the South West after Loudoun Hill, it is possible that he preached at Meadowhead on Sunday 8 or 15 May, […]

  7. […] Donald Cargill is said to have preached nearby at the Cargill Stone in 1681. […]

  8. […] is possible that Cargill may have preached there in 1681, when he made a brief field-preaching tour of the South West. Where he preached in Galloway is not known, but Earlstoun Wood may have been a logical choice for […]

  9. […] other stones marked ‘James Renwick’ and ‘Peden 1681’ also identify traditional field preaching sites further […]

  10. […] was, of course, Cargill’s intention. The two men had come to request his return to Galloway, an area he had briefly preached in a month earlier, to baptise and preach, but they left with Cargill’s warning for their […]

  11. […] Cargill’s pattern of preaching in 1681 suggests that if he preached at Hynd’s Bottom, that he probably preached there during his tour of the South West between 5 May and 12 June. […]

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