James Renwick’s Preaching at the Garple Burn and Barscobe Wood in 1684

In early September, 1684, James Renwick probably preached close to the beautiful Holy Linn on the Garple Burn in Balmaclellan parish, Galloway. The Garple conventicle links Renwick to the killings at Auchencloy, banishments at Kirkcudbright and William Herries, a key local member of the United Societies.

The Holy Linn on the Garple Burn at Barscobe Wood © Duncan McNaught and licensed for reuse.

The evidence of Renwick’s preaching comes from the appearances of Adam Gordon, schoolmaster [in Balmaclellan?], and ‘—– Shaw, Lady Holm, before a circuit court held in Kirkcudbright. The court was presided over by William Douglas, duke of Queensberry, his eldest son, Lieutenant-Colonel James Douglas, aka. Lord Drumlanrig, and Colonel John Graham of Claverhouse on 11 October, 1684. The latter two were officers in the King’s Regiment of Horse.

Lt-Col. James Douglas

On 11 October, 1684, ‘compeared Adam Gordoun, schoolmaster, solemnly sworne and interrogate, depones that about ane moneths since he saw Rennick and severall vthers with him in ane wood near Barscobe and there converst with him a whyle, but cannot give accompt upon what swbject they discourst;’ (RPCS, X, 615.)

Map of Barscobe Wood, by the Garple Burn.

Before the court, Gordon claimed that he had stumbled upon Renwick’s preaching, ‘that to his knowledge the nwmber of people at the conventicle consisted in above twentie’ and that it was held ‘in Hardland possest be John Herrone (and this is trewth, deleted) and the land belongeth to my Lord Kenmoore.’ (RPCS, X, 616.)

Map of Hardland and the Garpel Burn

Gordon also identified several people who were with Renwick in Barscobe Wood and at the preaching:

‘and being farther interrogate declares that he saw William Herries, Robert Fergisone in Knocksting, William Hwnter in Old Clachane, and Robert Gourlay in Rennicks cwmpany at the said place, (and knowes no further as he shall answer to God, deleted);’ (RPCS, X, 615.)

Grazing at Castlefairn © Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse.

William Herries
William Herries is almost certainly the ‘William Harries in Kirkcudbright’ listed on the published fugitive roll of 1684. The Kirkcudbright in question is not the burgh, but Kirkcudbright in Glencairn parish, Dumfriesshire. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’ II, 219.)

Map of Kirkcudbright in Glencairn

Street View of Nether Kirkcudbright           Street View of Upper Kirkcudbright

According to the registers of the privy council, ‘William Herreis’ was the ‘brother to Robert Herreis in Castilfairn’. Castlefairn lies just down the road from Kirkcudbright in Glencairn parish, Dumfriesshire, and on the shire boundary with Balmaclellan parish.

Map of Castlefairn

Carroch © Trevor Littlewood and licensed for reuse.

After Herries was declared a fugitive, he was allegedly reset by ‘James Ferguson of Cairoch’. The later location is probably Carroch in Dalry parish. (RPCS, X, 257.)

Map of Carroch          Street View of Carroch

Ferguson in Carroch had also allegedly reset another fugitive, his neighbour ‘Robert M’Michaell in Craiglour’. (RPCS, X, 257.)

Herries is probably the ‘William Harris’ who was a delegate for the United Societies. In late 1688 and early 1689, ‘William Harris’ was one of the Society people who met with their former comrades from the breakaway societies in Carrick and Galloway, such as James Dick, Robert Dun and Robert Cathcart, in order to negotiate a reunion between the factions. ‘William Harris’ was probably the same person as the ‘Captain William Herries’ in the Cameronian Regiment which was formed a few months later. (Shields, FCD, 369.)

Knocksting Loch © Walter Baxter and licensed for reuse.

Robert Ferguson
Robert Fergisone was from Knocksting, a remote farm in the neighbouring parish of Dalry.

Map of Knocksting

William Hunter
William Hunter ‘in Old Clachane’ was also from the neighbouring parish of Dalry. Old Clachan is now the village of St John’s Town of Dalry, which was built as a ‘planned village’ by the Earl of Galloway in the early eighteenth century. Prior to that, the settlement was known as Old Clachan of Dalry.

Map of Old Clachan of Dalry

Hunter had taken part in the dramatic prisoner rescue at Enterkin Rescue in mid 1684. (Ford, ‘Enterkin and the Covenanters’, Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, 3rd Series. No. 36., 136.)

A few months after Renwick’s preaching, he was captured at Auchencloy in December, 1684, and executed in Kirkcudbright.

Hunter and Robert Smith’s Grave at Kirkcudbright © Helen Bowick and licensed for reuse.

Back to Gordon’s Testimony

‘And [Adam Gordoun] farther depones that at the tyme that Rennick preached he saw him babteize twa childrein holden up be William Herries and William Hwnter, and that the one of the childrein belonged to Robert Gordoun of Kilnare and the vther to George Fergisone in Dalray, … and that the said George Fergisone is (brother, deleted), sone in law to John M’Knawght in Overtoun of Dalray, present prisoner in the tolbooth of Kirkcwdbricht;’ (RPCS, X, 615.)

Robert Gordon ‘in Kilnare’ was recorded on the Fugitive Roll of 1684 as ‘Robert Gordon in Kilmair’. He, too, was from Dalry parish. The location is now known as Kilnair and is buried in the hills. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 217.)

Map of Kilnair

George Ferguson in Dalry, was son-in-law of John M’Knaught in Overton of Dalry. Although Overtown has now vanished, it is recorded on old maps to the south of Gordonston. According to the privy council, ‘John M’Naught in Overtoun of Dalry has conversed with and reset George Douglas in Old Clauchan, and continually harbours fugitives’. (RPCS, X, 257.)

Adam Gordon also stated ‘that Mary and Elezabeth M’Clwres above mentioned were at that conventicle’. (RPCS, X, 615.)

Mary M’Clwre in Barlay, Balmaclellan parish, had attended Renwick’s earlier preaching at Clay Hills in the same parish. A month after the September preaching, both she and her sister were banished to the plantations by the court in Kirkcudbright.

Map of Barlay

Lady Holm’s Confession
More evidence for Renwick’s preaching comes from Lady Holm’s confession at Kirkcudbright. She had allegedly sheltered Renwick in her house after he had preached at Clay Hills in January, 1684.

Map of The Holme

Street View of the Entrance to Holme

‘[11 October, 1684,] compeared —— Shaw, Lady Holme, (refuses to depone, deleted), solemnly sworne and interrogate, … farther depones that upon the Darpell Burne she heard the said Rennick lector upon the second chapter of Ezachrie from the seventh verse downwards, and that ane cheild babteized, and the preacher discharged the parent to pay the swplie; and this is the trewth as she shall answer to God, and cannot wryte. The Lords order her to be sent to the [American] plantationes. (Signed) [William, duke of] Queensberry. (RPCS, X, 615.)

Lady Holmes states she heard Renwick on the ‘Darpell Burn’, i.e, the Garple Burn, which passes by both Barscobe Wood and her house at the Holme.

Map of Holy Linn and Barscobe Wood

Map of The Holme

The claim that Renwick had ‘discharged the parent to pay the swplie’, i.e., refuse to pay the cess tax which paid for the repression of presbyterians, was mentioned by another witness to Renwick’s preaching at Clay Hills.

Lady Holm also stated that Renwick had preached on Zechariah 2.7 onwards at the Garple Burn. It is possible that one of Renwick’s surviving sermons on Zechariah 2.8 onwards, which was preached in Galloway, was the sermon heard at the Garple Burn. Its contents certainly suggest that it dates to either 1684 or early 1685. (See Renwick, A Choice Collection of Sermons, 130-44.)

The Biblical text of Zechariah 2.7-13. is as follows:

Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.
For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord.
And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee.
And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.
Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.’

The area around the Holy Linn is also associated with a Covenanter named John Dempster, who was killed in 1685.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

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~ by drmarkjardine on February 7, 2012.

11 Responses to “James Renwick’s Preaching at the Garple Burn and Barscobe Wood in 1684”

  1. […] Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons to investigate Renwick’s preachings at Clay Hills, Garcrogo and Holme [i.e., the Garple Burn]. (RPCS, X, […]

  2. […] historical evidence of his preachings at Clayhills (January), the Garpel Burn (September) and Garcrogo (October) suggests that Renwick was present in Galloway in the January and […]

  3. […] that James Renwick preached in Kirkcudbrightshire at Clay Hills in January, 1684, and at the Garpel Burn in September and Garcrogo in […]

  4. […] to have preached in Balmaclellan parish on three occasions in 1684: At Clay Hills in January, the Garple Burn in September and Garcrogo in October. He also preached in the area in the summer of 1685 when he made ‘a […]

  5. Re: James Ferguson of Cairoch
    This is likely James Ferguson of Kerroch, Dumfriesshire who “had sasine of Dalshaugan, parish of Carsphairn, in Sept. 1686. On 5th June 1706
    James Ferguson of Kerroch had sasine of Kerroch, Craiglour, Blackmark, etc., and on 9th April 1795 John Ferguson of Cairoch, and Isobel Gordon his spouse, had sasine. — (M’Kerlie’s Lands and their Owners in Galloway.)”
    Ref: https://archive.org/details/recordsofclannam00ferg

  6. […] The summons against the four men came soon after Renwick preached by the Garple Burn in Barscobe Wood. […]

  7. Only just spotted the mention of Gordon of Kilnair above. In the Kirkcubdbright Sheriff Court Deeds 1623-1674 there is a tack of Kilnair from 1669 by Margaret Neilson, widow of Alexander Gordon see http://greengalloway.blogspot.co.uk/2008/03/kilnair-1669-2008.html

  8. […] notorious fugitives, who attended Renwick’s preachings, were reset Carroch, including William Herries. Robert Ferguson in Knocksting, beside Trostan, was […]

  9. […] minister involved. The outed minister of Balmaclellan may have preached there, but it is clear that James Renwick did preach and baptise children by the Garpel Burn in […]

  10. […] Pantry lies just downstream from the Holy Linn in Barscobe Wood where James Renwick preached. It also lies upstream from Kate’s Wood and Society Holm, other traditional […]

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