David Farrie: From Ayr & Irongray to the Abolitionists’ Underground Railroad
David Farrie was one of five Covenanters executed outside of Edinburgh on 10 October, 1681. He is an elusive figure in the records, as Wodrow did not provide any biographical details about him at all. However, the Register of the Privy Council records that he was from Ayr.
According to his testimony he had lived ‘most lewdly’ until 1677 when he took to field conventicles. The next year he attended the 3,000 strong Irongray Communion, at which John Blackadder and John Welsh preached on Meiklewood Moor, a communion service was held by Welsh, Samuel Arnot and other ministers at the Communion Stones beside Skeoch Hill, and Blackadder held a further field preaching on a hill four miles from Skeoch.
In 1680, he subscribed the bond of combination before the Sanquhar Declaration in a moor in Galloway and followed Richard Cameron.
He was captured after one of Cargill or Cameron’s conventicles at some point prior to 25 August 1681, as on that date ‘David Farrie in Air’ is listed, alongside Patrick Foreman, James Stewart and Alexander Russell, as among those ‘suspected as guilty of conventicles’ who were to be set at liberty due to a lack of witnesses against them provided that they agreed to ‘live orderly’ and find caution to appear before the Council when recalled. (RPCS, VII, 189.)
He appears to have failed to meet the conditions for his release.
A full account of the extraordinary events surrounding their execution will follow in a later post.
According to David Faris, Farrie was an ancestor of the Faris family in the USA. Some online resources claim that he was born in Ayr in 1651 and that he had a child, also named David, who was baptised at one of Cargill or Cameron’s field preachings. (See Faris, The Faris Family of Washington County, Indiana (1984).)
Another source claims that,
‘The Rev. J[ohn]. Calvin Smith is a descendant of the persecuted Covenanters of Scotland. David Farrie, who suffered martyrdom, and his son of the same name, who was baptised at a “field conventicle,” were in the direct line of his forefathers. His ancestors removed from Ireland to America while it was a colony of Great Britain, and settled in South Carolina. They were true patriots, and actively served their country in the wars of the Revolution and 1812. His parents, Thomas and Jane Smith, on their marriage, loathing the slavery of the South, removed to Bloomington, Indiana, where they became farmers and keepers of a station on the “Underground railroad.” [smuggling fugitive slaves out of the South to ‘free’ states and Canada]… The Rev. J. Calvin Smith was born October 29, 1831; graduated at Indiana University in 1851. … He is known as an advocate of freedom, temperance, and national and moral reform.’ (Durant, History of Lawrence County Pennsylvania, 194.)
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