Who did Donald Cargill Excommunicate at Torwood and Why?

In September, 1680, Donald Cargill excommunicated seven named individuals at Torwood in Stirlingshire. Who were they and why? And what happened to them?

The excommunication targeted key members of the Scottish and Anglo-Scottish political elite that the Society people held responsible for the destruction of their Covenanted Reformation and the persecution of presbyterians.

The first four named by him were not in Scotland and, frankly, were not expected to reappear in the foreseeable future. Only three of those excommunicated, the Chancellor, the Lord Advocate and the General of the Scots Army were based in Scotland.

Charles II in c.1681

At the head of the list was king Charles II (1630-1685). The Society people had recently renounced the Stewart monarch’s authority in the Sanquhar Declaration of 22 June, 1680. Cargill excommunicated him and delivered him up to Satan for:

‘1st, For his high contempt of God, in regard that after he had acknowledged his own sins, his father’s sins, his mother’s idolatry, and had solemnly engaged against them in a declaration at Dunfermline, the 16th of August, 1650, he hath, notwithstanding all this, gone on more avowedly in these sins than all that went before him.

2ndly, For his great perjury in regard that, after he had twice at least solemnly subscribed that covenant, he did so presumptuously renounce, and disown, and command it to be burnt by the hands of the hangman.

3rdly, Because he hath rescinded all the laws for establishing that religion and reformation engaged unto in that covenant, and enacted laws for establishing its contrary; and also is still working for the introduction of Popery into these lands. And

4thly, For commanding armies to destroy the Lord’s people, who were standing in their own just defence, and for their privileges and rights, against tyranny, and oppression and injuries of men, and for the blood he hath shed on fields, and scaffolds, and seas, of the people of God, upon account of religion and righteousness (they being willing in all other things to render him obedience, if he had reigned and ruled according to his covenant and oath), more than all the kings that have been before him in Scotland.

5thly, That he hath been still an enemy to and persecutor of the true Protestants; a favourer and helper of the Papists, both at home and abroad; and hath, to the utmost of his power, hindered the due execution of the laws against them.

6thly, For his bringing guilt upon the kingdom, by his frequent grants of remissions and pardons to murderers (though it is in the power of no king to pardon murder, being expressly contrary to the law of God), an indulgence which is the only way to embolden men to commit murders to the defiling of the land with blood. And

Lastly, To pass by all other things, his great and dreadful uncleanness of adultery and incest, his drunkenness, his dissembling both with God and men, and performing his promises, where his engagements were sinful.’

The Duke of York

James, Duke of Albany aka. the Duke of York (1633-1701) was the brother of Charles II, a Catholic and would become James VII and II in 1685. York had arrived in Scotland and taken up the presidency of the Privy Council in late 1679, but he had left the kingdom several months before Torwood and was not expected to return. However, he did return about a month after Torwood.

Cargill cast York out of the “true” church and delivered him up to Satan ‘for his idolatry [i.e., for being a Catholic] (for I shall not speak of any other sin but what hath been perpetrated by him in Scotland), and for setting up idolatry in Scotland to defile the Lord’s land, and for his enticing and encouraging to do so.’

The Duke of Monmouth

James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth and 1st Duke of Buccleuch (1649-1685), was the illegitimate son of Charles II who had commanded the government army that had crushed the Bothwell Rising of 1679. A Protestant, Monmouth was the great hope of the moderate presbyterians in the English Exclusion Crisis. In September 1680, Monmouth had not been present in Scotland for a significant period of time. Cargill cast him out of the true church and delivered him up to Satan ‘for coming unto Scotland at his father’s unjust command [in June 1679], and leading armies against the Lord’s people, who were constrained to rise, being killed in and for the worshipping of the true God; and for refusing, that morning, a cessation of arms at Bothwell Bridge, for hearing and redressing their injuries, wrongs and oppressions.’

The Duke of Lauderdale

John Maitland, 1st Duke of Lauderdale (1616-1682). As Charles II’s “strongman” in Scotland, Lauderdale had been responsible for much of the repression of the presbyterians up to 1679. In September, 1680, he was no longer a significant figure in Scottish politics, as he had fallen from power after the Bothwell Rising and was residing in England in ill health. Cargill cast him out of the true church and delivered him up to Satan ‘for his dreadful blasphemy, especially for that word to [James Sharp] the Prelate of St. Andrews, “Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool;” his atheistical drolling on the Scriptures of God, and scoffing at religion and religious persons; his apostacy from the covenants and reformation, and his persecuting thereof, after he had been a professor, pleader, and presser thereof; for his perjury in the business of Mr. James Mitchell [executed in 1678], who being in Council gave public faith that he should be indemnified, and that to life and limb, if he would confess his attempt on the Prelate [Sharp]; and notwithstanding this, before the Justiciary Court, did give his oath that there was no such act in Council; for his adultery and uncleanness; for his counseling and assisting the king in all his tyrannies, overturning and plotting against the true religion; for his gaming on the Lord’s day, and lastly for his usual and ordinary swearing.’

The Duke of Rothes

John Leslie, 1st Duke of Rothes (c.1630-1681), was the Chancellor of Scotland. Cargill cast him out of the true Church and delivered him up to Satan ‘for his perjury in the matter of Mr. James Mitchell [executed in 1678]; for his adulteries and uncleanness; for his allotting of the Lord’s day to his drunkenness; for his professing and avowing his readiness and willingness to set up Popery in this land at the king’s command; and for the heathenish, and barbarous and unheard of cruelty (whereof he was the chief author, contriver and commander, notwithstanding his having engaged otherwise), to that worthy gentleman, David Hackstoun of Rathillet [executed in July, 1680], and lastly, for his ordinary cursing, swearing, and drunkenness.’

George Mackenzie

Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh (c.1638-1691), was the Lord Advocate of Scotland responsible for the prosecution of the Society people. Cargill cast him out of the true Church and delivered him up to Satan ‘for his apostacy in turning into a profligacy of conversation, after he had begun a profession of holiness; for his constant pleading against, and persecuting unto the death, the people of God, and for alleging and laying to their charge things which in his conscience he knew to be against the word of God, truth, and right reason, and the ancient laws of this kingdom; for his pleading for sorcerers, murderers, and other criminals, that before God and by the laws of the land ought to die, and for his ungodly, erroneous, fantastic, and blasphemous tenets printed in his pamphlets and pasquils.’

Tam Dalyell

General Thomas Dalyell of the Binns (1615-1685) was in charge of the Scottish Army that repressed the Society people. Cargill cast the General out of the true Church and delivered him up to Satan ‘for his leading armies, and commanding the killing, robbing, pillaging, and oppressing of the Lord’s people, and free subjects of this kingdom; for executing lawless tyrannies and lustful laws; for his commanding to shoot one Findlay at a post at Newmills, without any form of law, civil or military (he not being guilty of anything which they themselves accounted a crime); for his lewd and impious life led in adultery and uncleanness from his youth, with a contempt for marriage, which is an ordinance of God; for all his atheistical and irreligious conversation, and lastly, for his unjust usurping and retaining of the estate of that worthy gentleman, William Mure of Caldwell, and his other injurious deeds in the exercise of his power.’

How They Died (At Least According to Presbyterian Tradition).
According to some presbyterians, Charles II was poisoned by York as part of a Catholic conspiracy in 1685.

In the late-eighteenth century, John Howie of Lochgoin did not mince his words:

‘And for his practice, he was now drunken in all manner of uncleanness and filthiness. For all the number of strumpets and harlots he had, his own sister, the Duchess of Orleans, could not be exempted. But drawing near his end, the Popish faction of York, his brother, grew stronger, on suspicion that he intended to curb them. To cut the matter short, he was seized with an apoplectic fit, or rather had got a doze of poison: he formerly professed to caress the church of England; now in views of death, Father Huddleston was brought to administer the Popish sacraments of the host, and extreme unction, absolution, and the eucharist. The host sticking in his throat, water was brought instead of wine, to wash it down. Afterward Bishop Ken came and pronounced another absolution upon him. And here observe, that he who was justly excommunicated by a lawful minister of the church of Scotland, for his gross perjury, contempt of God and religion, lechery, treachery, covenant breaking, bloodshed &c. was now absolved; first by a Popish priest and then a prelate of the church of England, and all without any of the least signs of repentance; else he would never, in his last words, have recommended the care of two of his harlots (one of whom being in bed beyond him, his Queen being elsewhere) to the care of his brother. And so, having drunk his death in a Popish potion, he died unlamented. For his character, in all respects, in nature, feature, and manners, he resembled the tyrant Tiberius; and for all the numerous brood of bastards begot on other men’s wives, he died a childless poltroon. having no legitimate heir to succeed him os his own body, according to the Divine malediction, Write this man childless for no man of his feed shall prosper fitting on the throne of David and ruling any more in Judah.’ (Howie, Judgements Upon Persecutors, 33.)

Some presbyterians, like Lochgoin, also revelled in the ruin of James, duke of York, later king James VII & II.:

‘being defeated on the banks of the Boyne by King William, July 1, 1691, he set off to France, never to return. Here he continued till 1700, or by some 1701, that he took a strange disease, which they were pleased to call a lethargy: wherein he became quite stupid and senseless, and so died at St Germain’s, in that situation, after he had lived ten years a fugitive exile. He poureth contempt upon Princes and causeth them to wander in the wilderness.’ (Howie, Judgements Upon Persecutors, 43.)

Lauderdale, too, was said to have had a grim end:

‘Towards the end of his life, he became such a remarkable Epicurean, that it is incredible the flesh, or juice of flesh, it is said he devoured in one day, eating and drinking being now his only exercise and delight. His scheme of management had rendered him odious to the English patriots. Now his effeminate life made him unfit for business: so, about 1681, he was obliged to resign his offices; after which, by old age, and vast bulk of body, his spirits became quite sunk, till his heart was not the bigness of a walnut: and so at last upon the chamber-box, like another Arius, he evacuated soul, vital life, and excrements all at once; and so went to his own place.’ (Howie, Judgements Upon Persecutors, 30.)

The death of the Duke of Rothes has been dealt with here. According to Howie:

‘[After Torwood] he continued to wallow in all manner of filthiness, till July next year, that death did arrest him. Mr Cargill being then in custody, he threatened him with a violent death; to whom Mr Cargill answered, that die what death he would, he should not see it: which came to pass for that morning (Mr Cargill was to be executed in the afternoon) Rothes was seized with sickness, and a dreadful horror of conscience; some of his wife’s ministers were sent for, who dealt somewhat freely with him; to whom he said, “We all thought little of that man’s sentence, (meaning Mr Cargill) but I find that sentence binding on me now, and will bind me to eternity.” And so roaring out, till he made the bed shake under him, he died in that condition.’ (Howie, Judgements Upon Persecutors, 28.)

Sir George Mackenzie ‘vomited blood for three quarters of an hour before he died’ in London in 1691. (Andrew Lang, Sir George Mackenzie, king’s advocate, of Rosehaugh, 309.)

According to Howie of Lochgoin:

‘After the persecuting work was over, he went up to London, where he died with all the passages of his body running blood, (like Charles IX. of France, author of the Paris massacre). Physicians being brought, could give no natural cause for it, but that it was the hand of God on him for the blood he had shed in his own land.’ (Howie, Judgements Upon Persecutors, 39.)

Howie also recorded the fate of the “Beast of Muscovy”:

‘Thomas Dalziel of Binns, a man naturally fierce and rude, but more so from his being brought up in the Muscovy service, where he had seen little else than tyranny and slavery: Nay, it is said, that he had there so learned the arts of devillish sophistry, that he sometimes beguiled the devil; or rather his master suffered himself to be outwitted by him. … [After Torwood] he waited some time on the Council at Edinburgh, to assist them in the persecuting work there; till the year 1685, that one William, Hannah was brought before the Council, and, when pleading, he was too old to banish; Dalziel told, him roughly, he was not too old to hang; he would hang well enough. This was among the last of his public manoeuvres: For that fame day, August 22d [1685], when at his beloved exercise, drinking wine, while the cup was at his head, he fell down, (being in perfect health), and expired.’ (Howie, Judgements Upon Persecutors, 33-4.)

Only Monmouth’s death escpaed the censure of presbyterian tradition, perhaps be because he managed to die on what the tradition saw as the “right side” of history, i.e., in rebellion against James VII.

~ by drmarkjardine on December 29, 2011.

3 Responses to “Who did Donald Cargill Excommunicate at Torwood and Why?”

  1. […] (Defoe, Memoirs of the Church of Scotland, 216; Cargill, Torwood Excommunication.) […]

  2. […] posts have covered ‘where’ the Torwood excommunication took place and ‘who’ was excommunicated and ‘why’. It is now time to turn our attention to the surprisingly tricky question of ‘when’ it […]

  3. […] in detail in other posts. You can find out what took place, what was in his afternoon sermon, who Cargill delivered up to Satan,  what it meant, when he did it, who was there and how word of it was […]

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