Strange News: The Crossford Prophetesses.

Patrick Walker gives a fascinating eyewitness account of the visions of Covenanting prophetesses in Carluke parish in the summer of 1686.

From Crossford towards Mains © Lairich Rig and licensed for reuse.

Walker’s narrative is remarkable for a number of reasons. The visions appear to have occurred at some form of event, probably a prayer meeting held among the local Society people. Walker was active among the Societies in Lanarkshire. The visions were also experienced by a group of three people. At least one of the group was a prophetess, but the narrative appears to imply that all three may have been prophetesses. It also appears that their visionary experiences, which persisted for several days, drew others, such as Walker and an unnamed gentleman, to view the prophetesses. Here is Walker’s account of his experiences near Crossford:

‘In the Year 1686, especially in the Months of June and July, many yet alive can witness, that about the Crosfoord-boat, two Miles beneath Lanark, especially at the Mains, on the Water of Clyde, many People gathered together for several Afternoons, where there were Showers of Bonnets, Hats, Guns and Swords, which covered the Trees and Ground, Companies of Men in Arms marching in Order, upon the Water-side, Companies meeting Companies, going all through other, through other, and then all falling to the Ground, and disappearing; and other Companies immediately appearing the same Way.

I went there three Afternoons [al]together, and, as I could observe, there were two of the People that were together saw, and a third that saw not; and tho’ I could see nothing, yet there was such a Fright and Trembling upon these that did see, that was discernable to all from these that saw not.

There was a Gentleman standing next to me, who spake, as too many Gentlemen and others speak, who said, A Pack of damn’d Witches and Warlocks, that have the second Sight, the Devil-ha’t do I see. And immediately there was a discernable Change in his Countenance, with as much Fear and Trembling as any Woman I saw there, who cried out, O all ye that do not see, say nothing; for I perswade you it is Matter of Fact, and discernable to all that is not Stone-blind:

And these who did see, told what Works the Guns had, and their Length and Wideness, and what Handles the Swords had whether small or Threebarred, or Highland-guards and the Closing-knots of the Bonnets, Black or Blue; and these who did see them there, where-ever they went Abroad, saw a Bonnet and a Sword drop in the Way.

I have been at a Loss ever since, what to make of this last: However a profane Age, may mock, disdain, and make Sport of these extraordinary Things, yet these are no new Things, but some such Things have been in former Times’. (Walker, BP, I, xxxii-xxxiii, 145-6.)

The prophetesses’ visions took place close to the ferry which crossed the river Clyde at Crossford in Lanarkshire. The bridge at Crossford was not built until 1793.

Bing OS Map of Crossford Boat          Google Street View of Crossford Boat

In particular, Walker mentions that the visions took place at ‘Mains’ in Carluke parish. According to General Roy’s map, ‘Mains’ lay beside Orchard House.

Bing OS Map of location of Mains

Additional Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

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~ by drmarkjardine on September 22, 2011.

4 Responses to “Strange News: The Crossford Prophetesses.”

  1. […] other prophetesses, see the Crossford Prophetesses and the Sweet Singers of Bo’ness. In foretelling her death, Gracie yearn for martyrdom in a […]

  2. […] At Crossford there was both a ford and a boat to ferry passengers across the river. However, Renwick may have avoided Crossford due to it being a popular crossing point. There were Society people in Crossford, On 22 February, 1684, a James Muir in Crossford Boat was executed in Edinburgh. In 1686, Crossford saw the emergence of three prophetesses. […]

  3. […] ecstatic prayer session. Similar incidents involving female prophetesses took place at Paisley and near Crossford. The Sweet Singers, or Gibbites, of Bo’ness also produced female prophetic […]

  4. […] Muir in ‘Crossford Boat’ was hanged in Edinburgh early 1684. Prophetesses drew large crowds to Crossford in […]

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