When Did Donald Cargill Excommunicate Charles II at Torwood?

The second great mystery about Donald Cargill’s Torwood Excommunication is the date on which it took place. Nearly all the sources vaguely date it to September or October, 1680. Can we be more precise about the date?

Previous 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 took place.

We know that it took place after Cargill’s preaching at Craigmad on 1 August, 1680, however, the precise date of it is not clear. According to William Row, it took place on ‘a Lord’s day’ in September, 1680. According to Law, it took place ‘upon the 15th of September 1680, being the Lord’s day’. However, Law’s date of 15 September was a Wednesday, rather than a Sunday as he claims. We know that Cargill almost certainly preached in line with Presbyterian practice on either a Thursday or a Sunday. Row and Law plainly make the case for a Sabbath preaching in September, but which Sunday?

Four Sabbath days fell in that September – the 5, 12, 19 or 26. From Patrick Walker we know that Cargill preached at Torwood and Falla Hills on consecutive Sabbaths, although it is not clear if the Falla Hills preaching occurred in the same month.

We also know that Cargill preached at Craigwood at some point not long before 5 October, when Society people returning from Craigwood captured at Linlithgow Bridge were brought before the privy council. The most likely date for the Craigwood preaching is Sunday 3 October.

The available dating evidence suggests that the Torwood preaching took place on either 5, 12 or 19 September and that the preaching at Falla Hills followed on either 12, 19 or 26 September.

We know that Torwood took place after a long period in which Cargill did not field preach and that it marked the beginning of a renewed campaign.

If we assume that Cargill’s preachings took place in on consecutive Sabbaths, then the most likely dates for the preachings are Torwood on the 19 September, Falla Hills on the 26 September and Craigwood on 3 October. However, both the 12 and 19 September are close to Law’s date of 15 September. A third possibility is that Law’s date was a typographic error in which ‘15’ was mistakenly printed in place of 5 September. If that was the case, then the Falla Hills preaching took place on 12 September.

What is reasonably clear is that the 26 September is the least likely date for Torwood.

However, one further piece of evidence resolves the problem of the date of the Torwood Excommunication. We know that the text of the excommunication was flyposted in the centre of Edinburgh before Saturday 18 September. That indicates that Cargill excommunicated at Torwood on 12 September and preached at Falla Hills on 19 September.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on December 30, 2011.

4 Responses to “When Did Donald Cargill Excommunicate Charles II at Torwood?”

  1. […] The excommunication took place more than a month after Cargill’s preaching at Craigmad (1 August) and a week before he preached at Falla Hills (late September). For a discussion on the date of the excommunication, see here. […]

  2. […] location of the field preaching is discussed here, its date here and those who heard the sermon […]

  3. […] of ways. First, it provides us with a date for the Torwood Excommunication of 12 September, 1680, which until now has been obscure. Second, it gives us a date of 19 September, for Cargill’s seditious preaching at Falla Hills. […]

  4. […] 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 […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.