The Wrong Man: The Shooting of Auchenleck by Captain Douglas at Carlingwark in Galloway in 1685.

In the annals of the Killing Times the shooting of a man named Auchenleck in Galloway stands as testimony to the arbitrary nature of the repression dealt out by the Restoration regime. But is this case all that it seems to be?

‘The said Captain Dowglas and his Men finding one —– Auchenleck, a deaf man, for not making answer, through defect of his hearing, instantly shot him dead off Horseback, near Carlinwark, anno 1685.’ (Shields, A Short Memorial, 36.)

The same text was reprinted in Cloud of Witnesses. (Thomson (ed.) CW, 540.)

No gravestone for Auchenleck exists.

Nearly three decades later, Wodrow recorded a different version of events:

‘William Auchinleck in the parish of Buttle had been conveying a friend of his to Ireland, and was returning to his own house on horseback. Unhappily for him he fell in with a company of Douglas’s foot coming from Kirkcudbright, who called to him to stand. The man complied with every thing that came about, and was a full conformist, but he had no mind to lose his horse, which he suspected the soldiers would take from him, and therefore rode a little off from them. Taking a compass he got by them, and came on his way, till he came to a public house on the road, called Carlin-work; there he called for some ale, which he took sitting upon horseback, thinking he was out of their reach. But the soldiers, some of them at least, had taken a nearer way, and came up when he was drinking, discharged their pieces at him, and killed him outright. Another boy happened to be at the house, at that minute when the soldiers came up, was mounting his horse to go with the former, at the shot the horse being frighted, threw the boy from him, the soldiers came up and knocked him in the head with their pieces, and took his horse from him, and any money he had, without asking him a question.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 184.)

There are a number of problems with Wodrow’s account, as it is plainly a traditional story or literary version of events, e.g., the story of the robbery of the boy confirms Auchenleck’s suspicion that the soldiers were set on robbing him of his horse.

For what it is worth, it does outline a broad narrative of events in which Auchenleck met the soldiers, fled and was shot without questioning. It roughly accords with Shields’ brief account, but does not mention that Auchenleck was deaf.

In Shields’ version of events, Auchenleck was an innocent man murdered through no fault of his own. In Wodrow’s version, Auchenleck, who is expressly identified as not being a Presbyterian, fled from avaricious soldiers due to his concerns of over his property and was shot as part of a robbery.

Of the two versions of Auchenleck’s end, Shields’ account is probably the more credible.

The Mote of Urr © Chris Newman and licensed for reuse.

Where was he from?
According to Wodrow, Auchenleck was from Buittle parish, Kirkcudbrightshire. Wodrow described Auchenleck as fully conforming to episcopacy, meaning that he was not a rebel or one of the Society people.

Wodrow’s account is also the first to record his Christian name as William. As discussed above, Wodrow’s account is not a reliable guide to Auchenleck’s death. Did it get Auchenleck’s Christian name right? Perhaps it did not.

In 1690, Shields did not know Auchenleck’s Christian name. So it is of some interest that the published Fugitive Roll of 1684 identifies two male fugitives named Auchinleck in Buittle parish. They were John Auchinleck ‘in Dalgredan’ and John, the son of John Auchinleck ‘in Balgredan’. ‘Dalgredan’ is almost certainly a typographic error for Balgredan. They are the only two individuals named Auchenleck among the nearly two thousand  individuals listed on the Fugitive Roll. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 216.)

It may be a coincidence that the same names appear, but it raises interesting questions. Was William Auchenleck kin to the two fugitives? Was Auchenleck actually one of the fugitives? Was Shields ‘—— Auchenleck’ called John? And does Wodrow’s account catch an echo of the father and son fugitives in his story about the ‘boy’ who tried to ride off with Auchenleck? We will probably never know.

The farm at Balgredan, or Balgreddan, has now vanished, but it lay a little to the west of the Urr Water on Camp Hill and north-west of the Mote of Urr, probably the best Motte and Bailey Castle in Scotland. Balgreddan appears on General Roy’s map of the 1750s as a small farm which appears to be named something like ‘Barigant’.

Map of Balgreddan

If you are planning to visit Balgreddan or the Mote of Urr by car from the east, remember to use the footbridge as this ford lies between you and the Mote.

Where was he killed?
Both Shields and Wodrow state that Auchenleck was killed at or near ‘Carlinwark’, i.e., Carlingwark in Kelton parish, Kirkcudbrightshire. Kelton parish lies directly to the west of Buittle parish. Today, Carlingwark lies on the road just outside of the town of Castle Douglas, but in the seventeenth century the town did not exist and the area was an open stretch of the road and causeway along the side of Carlingwark Loch. The road is now the B736. The inn probably lay close to side of the loch.

Map of Carlingwark             Google Street View at Carlingwark Burn

Carlingwark Loch © Colin Kinnear and licensed for reuse.

When was he killed?
Shields dates Auchenleck’s death to 1685. He was probably killed in the first half of 1685, when most of the deaths in the Killing Times took place.

Who killed him?
The soldiers responsible for the killing were under the command of Captain Thomas Douglas and were a company in the Earl of Mar’s Regiment of Foot. Douglas and his men are said to have been responsible for ‘much outrage and spoil’ in Galloway and for the summary executions of William Hunter and Robert Smith at Kirkcudbright in December, 1684, and the shooting of Robert M’Whae and/or —— Mowat in 1685.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on January 28, 2012.

2 Responses to “The Wrong Man: The Shooting of Auchenleck by Captain Douglas at Carlingwark in Galloway in 1685.”

  1. […] Auchinleck is said by Shields to have been a deaf man who was shot after he failed to answer questions. Whether he had a pass, or not, is not recorded. The framing of Shields’ brief narrative suggests […]

  2. […] Robert Auchinleck shot in 1685 may have had connections to the Milton estate via the lost farm at […]

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