Cameron’s Preaching at Hynd’s Bottom

The Moss at Hynd’s Bottom © Chris Wimbush and licensed for reuse.

In late May or early July, 1680, Richard Cameron field preached at Hynd’s Bottom on the boundary between Lanarkshire and Dumfriesshire.

According to Patrick Walker:
‘Another old Sufferer told me, that he heard him preach at the Hynd-bottom, near Crawford-john, eleven Days before his bloody Death (and many of our old Sufferers told me the same; but it escaped me formerly in the writing of the Passages of his Life and Death) upon that Text, You will not come to me, that you may have Life [John 5.40.]. In the Time of that Sermon, he fell in such a Rap of calm Weeping, and the greater Part of that Multitude, that there was scarce a dry Cheek to be seen among them; which obliged him to halt and pray, where he continued long praying for the Jews Restoration and Ingraffing again; and for the Fall of Antichrist, and that the Lord would hasten the Day, that he was sure was coming, that he would sweep the Throne of Britain of that unhappy Race of Stuarts’. (Walker, BP, II, 99.)

Walker’s information dates Cameron’s preaching at Hynd’s Bottom to Sunday 11 July 1680, as Cameron was killed in the skirmish at Ayrsmoss (or Airdsmoss) on 22 July. However, according to John Howie of Lochgoin’s Sermons Delivered in Times of Persecution in Scotland, the two manuscript copies of the preface, lecture and sermons date the field preaching to Sunday 30 May.

30 May or 11 July?
The text of Cameron’s Lecture at Hynd’s Bottom does give pointers as to the date of the preaching. In his lecture at Hynd’s Bottom, Cameron mentioned the public celebrations for Charles II’s birthday on 29 May:

‘Ye heard yesterday they were giving thanks for the blackest day that Scotland ever saw, and for a day we will all mourn for ere long; and on such a day it were more suitable that we were all mourning, for there is not a Presbyterian in Scotland that is not mourning for the twenty-ninth of May [i.e the King’s birthday and the anniversary of the Restoration of the monarchy] – a doleful day to the Church of Scotland!’

That passage is probably the reason for the manuscript date of 30 May for the Hynd’s Bottom preaching. However, on closer inspection, that date is less secure that it appears. According to the text, Cameron’s followers had ‘heard yesterday’ that ‘they were giving thanks’ for the King’s birthday. That does not necessarily mean that ‘yesterday’ was the King’s birthday, i.e. 29 May, it only infers that they ‘heard’ about the celebrations ‘yesterday’, which could mean that Cameron’s followers discussed the King’s birthday celebrations on Saturday 10 July, rather than the previous day being the King’s birthday.

The possibility that Walker’s date was correct is strengthened by the information that Cameron’s party were nearly captured by ‘dragoons’ on the Friday before the preaching:

‘I warrant you that on Friday [either 28 May or 9 July] many thought we should have been left dead carcasses on the place by the dragoons, if they had got leave. They would have got a breakfast of us, and many would have been glad. But blessed be the Lord who gave us not to their teeth! He gave us outward strength, and, which was much more, He gave us signs of His presence; and have we not reason to praise Him for His goodness, and to give thanks unto the Lord for His mercies to give and bestow more than ye have seen and heard? And this night should ye be made to praise Him for Friday’s night, even for that day, and that night, and our safety to this day.’

One way of interpreting the passage about their near capture by dragoons is to examine it in the light of the contextual evidence found in the dispatches of James Ogilvy, earl of Airlie, in the aftermath of the Sanquhar Declaration of 22 June. The Declaration made the authorities in Edinburgh sit up and take note of Cameron activities in the West.

New Cumnock © L J Cunningham and licensed for reuse.

On 30 June, the earl of Airlie was ordered to march his force horse and dragoons from their garrison at Ayr to the Castle of Cumnock, which lay at the confluence of the river Nith and Afton and in what is now the town of New Cumnock. With the exception of the moat, the castle had now entirely vanished.

Bing OS Map of Cumnock Castle

Google Street View of the former site of Cumnock Castle

Airlie’s position at Cumnock Castle commanded the northern approach to Sanquhar along the River Nith and lay beside the hills in which Hynd’s Bottom in located. On 4 July, Cameron preached on the Gass Water in the hills to the north-east of Airlie’s garrison.

Bing OS Map of Gass Water

On the same day, Airlie wrote to his superiors, General Thomas Dalyell and the Earl of Linlithgow, that he had arrived with his three troops of dragoons and two troops of horse. At that point he had no information about Cameron other than that his party [involved in the Sanquhar Declaration] dispersed, but he had also sent out thirty-six dragoons under the command of Lieutenants Livingston and Crichton to gather intelligence on Cameron’s whereabouts.

Corsencone © Scott and licensed for reuse.

 Captain Strachan and his forces were also involved in the hunt for Cameron, and the next day Airlie wrote of some intelligence he had received from Strachan that Cameron ‘with a partie of 13 or 14 horss marched to Corsancone towards Cummerhead and Crawford John’.

Corsencone is a hill directly to the east of Airlie’s position at the Castle of Cumnock and sits on the edge of the hills which contain Hynd’s Bottom.

Bing OS Map of Corsencone      Google Street View of Corsencone

The description of Cameron’s line of march is broadly to the north-east towards either Cumberhead in Lesmahagow parish or Crawfordjohn, which both lie in Lanarkshire. There is no way of knowing if such intelligence was accurate or related to the previous few hours, but Cameron is recorded preaching in Carluke parish, Lanarkshire, on Thursday 8 July. (Cameron, Good News to Scotland, a sermon, Preached in the parish of Carluke, in Clydesdale upon the 8th day of July, 1680 (1733).)

If Walker’s date for the Hynd’s Bottom preaching is correct, then Cameron had his narrow escape from the dragoons on the following day. After evading the dragoons for two days, Cameron preached at Hynd’s Bottom on Sunday 11 July. The field preaching would have been prearranged and it drew people from the parishes of Auchinleck and Muirkirk around Airdsmoss in Ayrshire, and from the parishes of Douglas and Crawfordjohn in Lanarkshire. Intriguingly, Cameron failed to mention in his sermons the other parishes which surrounded Hynd’s Bottom, such as Cumnock in Ayrshire or Sanquhar in Dumfriesshire, which Airlie’s letters record as the centre of operations for his and Strachan’s dragoons in early July.

The contextual evidence of the dragoons actions in early July against Cameron tilts the balance of probability in favour of Walker’s date for the preaching.

The Martyr’s Longing for Death
Walker also recounts a story of Cameron’s ‘soul longing for a full Possession of the inheritance’, i.e winning to Heaven, ‘when the Lord’s time came’, which Walker states ‘was so with many of our Sufferers and Martyrs in that Day’:

‘12 Days before his Death [i.e. on Saturday 10 July], he kept his Chamber door closs until Night: The Mistress or Good-wife of that House having been several Times at the Door, but no Access; at last she forced up the Door, and found him very melancholy: She earnestly enquired how it was with him; he said, That weary Promise that I gave to these Ministers has lyen heavy upon me, for which my Carcase will dung the Wilderness, and that will be within a Fort-night.’ (Walker, BP, I, 201.)

The promise that Cameron had made was to lift ‘the Publick standard of the Gospel’ that had ‘fallen in Scotland’, i.e to resume field preaching, which he appears to have agreed with Robert MacWard and John Brown at the Scots Kirk in Rotterdam when he was ordained in late 1679. (Walker, BP, I, 197.)

Cameron’s reported belief that his ‘Carcasse will dung the Wilderness’ within a fortnight of 10 July, may have been influenced by the Privy Council’s proclamation against him and many of his followers on 30 June. In his lecture at Hynd’s Bottom [on 11 July?], Cameron also referred to the idea that ‘many thought we should have been left dead carcasses on the place by the dragoons [on 9 July?], if they had got leave. They would have got a breakfast of us’. On a similar note, on 4 July, he reputedly said at the Gass Water that ‘I will be but a Breakfast or Four Hours to the Enemies some Day shortly, and my Work will be finished and my Time both’. (Walker, BP, I, 200.)

Towards Shawhead © Chris Wimbush and licensed for reuse.

Hynd’s Bottom or Shawhead?
The two sources also inadvertently cause some confusion about the location of the preaching, as Walker stated it was a ‘Hynd-bottom’ (aka Hynd’s Bottom or Hindbottom) and Howie as ‘at or near Shawhead’.

Bing OS map of Shawhead

Like the their different methods of dating the sermons, the manuscript copies of the sermons drew on the internal evidence of the text to locate the preaching either at or near Shawhead, while Walker presumably relied on his informers to place it at Hynd’s Bottom. However, it is absolutely clear that they both refer to the same location, as Shawhead lies close to Hynd’s Bottom. References within Cameron’s lecture to looking ‘over to the Shawhead and these hills’ and to ‘the parishes of Douglas, Muirkirk, Crawford-John, and Auchinleck’ suggest that the conventicle took place, not at Shawhead, but close to where those four parishes meet at Hynd’s Bottom. (Howie, Sermons Delivered in Times of Persecution, 430, 431.)

Hynd’s Bottom is a moss on the Friarminnan Burn which lies mostly in Crawfordjohn parish. It also lies just to the east of Threeshire Hill and the Threeshire Stone where the boundaries of Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Dumfriesshire all converge.

Bing OS Map of Hynd’s Bottom       Google Maps Aerial View of Hynd’s Bottom

The full text of Cameron’s preface, lecture and sermons at Hynd’s Bottom can be found here:

Richard Cameron Hynd’s Bottom Sermons 11 July 1680

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

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~ by drmarkjardine on July 23, 2011.

8 Responses to “Cameron’s Preaching at Hynd’s Bottom”

  1. […] is known that Richard Cameron preached at Hynd’s Bottom in 1680, but a single mysterious reference in a collection of traditions also claims that Donald […]

  2. […] the Carluke preaching, Cameron narrowly escaped from some dragoons. (If Walker’s date for the Hynd’s Bottom preaching in correct). According to Cameron’s lecture on 11 July, ‘many thought we should have […]

  3. […] 1680. That attack had continued in Richard Cameron’s preachings at the Gass Water, Carluke and Hynd’s Bottom and at Cargill’s preaching at […]

  4. […] For other prophetesses, see the Crossford Prophetesses and the Sweet Singers of Bo’ness. In foretelling her death, Gracie yearn for martyrdom in a similar way to Richard Cameron. […]

  5. […] preached at the Gass Water, ten days after his sermon in Carluke parish, and a week after he preached at Hynd’s Bottom. It was Cameron’s last preaching before he was killed at Airds Moss on 22 […]

  6. […] oath enforced. Instead, he preached in the parishes of Auchinleck (4 July), Carluke (8 July) and Crawfordjohn (11 […]

  7. […] Near the end of the first part and the beginning of the second part, the Rev. Sinclair Horne uses Richard Cameron’s sermon at Hynd’s Bottom. […]

  8. […] Walker’s account as Cameron may have preached on the same text on two separate occasions. In my view, contextual evidence and a different reading of the evidence in the sermon favours Walker…. An intelligence report from Robert Cannon of Mardrogat to Airlie of 11 July, also placed Cameron […]

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