The Covenanters’ “Rendezvous of Rebellion”: Renwick’s Preaching at Brounrigge

Soon after James Renwick returned to Scotland, he field preached at ‘Brounrigge’ on Wednesday 3 October, 1683. Renwick’s appearance at Brounrigge was of considerable significance, as it was the first field preaching in Scotland since Donald Cargill’s final preaching at Dunsyre Common in July, 1680. The “rendezvous of rebellion” were back in business…

Bothwellshields © Alan Stewart and licensed for reuse.

‘Mr James Rennick, traittour, and pretended clerk to the treasonable conventiones lately keept at Edinburgh and to the treasonable commission lately given to [Alexander] Gordon, late of Earlstoune, Michaell Shiells, [Andrew] Cameron, brother to the late traitour, Mr Richard Cameron, George Hill, livtennent to Captain Hary [i.e., Henry] Hall, who for their cymes of rebellion all declared fugitives and traittors did flie furth off the kingdom to Holland for consulting and carrying on their traiterous designes, and having lately returned to this kingdom with som other rebells and traitours, the murderers of the most reverend father in God, late Lord Primat [i.e., the assassins of archbishop Sharp], did, upon the third of October instant, accompanyed with John Whytelaw, tennent to [Mr William Cochran of] Ruchsholles [i.e., Roughsoles], a declared traitour, and diverse others, their accomplices in armes, meit and convein in and about the house of John Broune of Brounrigge, in the Laird of Dundas his land and about the same, where they keept a numerous conventicle’. (RPCS, VIII, 272-3.)

Brounrigge, later known as ‘Brownrig’, has now vanished, but it lay in Shotts parish, Lanarkshire, close to the farm of Standhill which lies to the south of the village of Blackridge.

Bing OS Map of approximate location of Brounrigge

Google Street View of approximate location of Brounrigge

Near Brounrigge © Richard Webb and licensed for reuse.

Renwick’s field preaching was located at the kind of shire boundary site favoured by the Societies; Brounrigge lay very close to the boundary between Shotts parish in Lanarkshire and Torphichen parish in Linlithgowshire. It also lay near other preaching sites at Blackloch, Arnbuckle and Little Drumbreck to the west and Benhar, Starryshaw, Falla Hills and Darmead to the south.

John Whytelaw
Renwick’s companion at the preaching was John Whytelaw of Bothwellshields (NS 807 627), Shotts parish, Lanarkshire. He had been forfeited for his part in the Bothwell Rising on 8 October, 1681. Four other residents of Bothwellshields, Gavin Paterson, ‘feuar in Bothwellshiels’, John Paterson, John Gilkerson and James Miller, were listed on the Fugitive Roll of 1684. Whytelaw was probably the feuar of Bothwellshields before Paterson. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 201; Wodrow, History, III, 247-8.)

Bing OS Map of Bothwellshields

Google Street View of Bothwellshields

Whytelaw was described as the tenant of William Cochran in ‘Roughsoles’, now Rochsoles, New Monkland parish. It is not clear if Whytelaw was the tenant of Rochsoles at Bothwellshields when he was captured, as Rochsoles had previously subscribed both the bond and the Test in 1683. (RPCS, VIII, 646.)

Bing OS Map of Rochsoles Farm

Whytelaw was captured soon after Renwick’s October preachings and executed with Arthur Bruce and John Cochran in Edinburgh on 30 November, 1683.

Blairmuckhole © paul birrell and licensed for reuse.

Renwick’s Baptisms at Brounrigge
According to the register of the privy council, at the Brounrigge preaching:

‘Mr James Rennick did take upon him to preach and baptize ten or twelve [children] and particularly one of Thomas Eastoun of Blairmuckholl, one to Thomas Allan, younger of Forrestburn, one to John Russell in Netherbracko, on the north syde of Shot[t]s paroch, one George Russell in the east end of Cambusnethan paroch, and one to the said Livtennent George Hill’. (RPCS, VIII, 272-3.)

Most of the locations mentioned lay in the Barony of Harthill in Shotts parish which was owned by Ralph Dundas, laird of Dundas. ‘Blairmuckholl’ is now known as Blairmuckhole.

Bing OS Map of Blairmuckhole

Thomas Allan was possibly the son of Thomas Allan, ‘portioner in Forrestburn’ (NS 878 654), who was listed on the Fugitive Roll of 1684. He was also probably the brother of the William Allan who was also listed on the Fugitive Roll as a son of the portioner of Forrestburn. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 202.)

Bing OS Map of Forrestburn

Nether Bracco © Jim Smillie and licensed for reuse.

‘Netherbracko’ is now known as Nether Bracco.

Bing OS Map of Nether Bracco

Google Street Ciew of Nether Bracco

The locations for the other men listed as having their children baptised are more vague. George Russell is simply described as ‘in the east end’ of Cambusnethan parish, which lay not far to the south of the Brounrigge. Sadly, no location is given for the residence of George Hill, but he may have lived locally. Hill was a significant figure in the Societies’ network, as he was president of the Societies’ general convention in 1683.

According to the Register:
‘at which conventicle the saids persones and a great many others of their number were in armes, at and about which place the saids persones did continow till Fryday thereafter, being the fifth of the said moneth of October… albeit it was the duty of the of the saids John Broun [in Brounrigge], …[to inform the authorities, he] … omitted to give the said advertisement.’ (RPCS, VIII, 272-3.)

The privy council fined Ralph Dundas, laird of Dundas, £50 sterling for failing to report Renwick’s preaching. (RPCS, VIII, 274.)

The preaching at Brounrigge almost certainly formed the prelude to the Societies’ eleventh convention at Darmead, Cambusnethan parish, which was also held on 3 October. (Shields, FCD, 104-112; Houston (ed.), Letters, 146.)

Bing OS Map of Darmead

Two days after field preaching at Brounrigge, Renwick preached at Little Drumbreck.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine.

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~ by drmarkjardine on October 23, 2011.

5 Responses to “The Covenanters’ “Rendezvous of Rebellion”: Renwick’s Preaching at Brounrigge”

  1. […] Cargill's 'Lost' Preaching at CraigwoodCargill at Darmead in 1681: Ahab and the Nameless JudgmentsThe Covenanters' "Rendezvous of Rebellion": Renwick's Preaching at BrounriggeThe Notorious Traitors: Gogar, Sangster and the Sweet Singers of IsraelThe Capture of the Sweet […]

  2. […] Society people did not hold another field preaching until James Renwick preached at Brounrigge in October, […]

  3. […] to a Societies’ convention. For example, see his preachings surrounding the Darmead convention, here and […]

  4. […] 1683. Darmead was the first convention at which James Renwick preached. (See the preachings at Brounrigge and Little […]

  5. […] preaching, as it sat by the march boundary with Shotts parish in Lanarkshire. James Renwick later preached further west on the march boundary at Brounrigg and to the northwest at Blackloch. The Peden Stone at Benhar lies further south on the same […]

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