An Elusive James Renwick Preaches at Garcrogo in Balmaclellan Parish, Galloway, in 1684
Little is known about James Renwick’s activities in late 1684, as his correspondence stops and he retreated into the deep South-West. However, on Sunday 5 October he briefly reappears when he field preached near Garcrogo in Balmaclellan parish, Kirkcudbrightshire.
The first record that Renwick and his followers were in the area was two days before he preached:
‘Lady Holme [on 11 October], … depones that about eight days since or therby about nyne houres at night [on Friday, 3 October] she saw Rennick, the rebellious preacher, with above a (doz., deleted) twelve mo[r]e (ride, deleted) went by the house where she dwelles, but knew not which way they were goeing’. (RPCS, X, 615.)
Lady Holm dwelt at The Holme in the west of Balmaclellan parish.
More evidence about Renwick’s preaching came from the moderate presbyterian preacher, William M’Millan of Caldow, on 10 October, 1684.
He had spotted Society people at the eastern edge of Balmaclellan parish:
‘upon Saturnday last [4 October] , as he wes comeing down the Watter of Orr [ or Urr, to Glaisters], he seid severall wandering persones near Knockclair [, now Knocklearn], bot wither they were goeing to the meeting Mr Rinnick keept upon the Sabbath last knowes not’. (RPCS, X, 230.)
According to M’Millan: ‘Thomas Gordon in Knockclaire [i.e., Knocklearn, later] told him [th]at he suspected these lowse men he saw abowt the Watter of Orr wes goeing to Rinnickes meeting.’ (RPCS, X, 230.)
M’Millan also reported secondhand details about Renwick’s Sabbath preaching near Garcrogo, which lay in the hills in middle of the parish:
‘he wes informed by [the moderate presbyterian] Mr Thomas Vernors wyffe that Rinnick wes near Gordon of Corcrogoes hous [i.e,. Garcrogo] with near four score of persones with him at a meeting Sunday last and that he himself had a [preaching] tent and that there were sex children baptized there’. (RPCS, X, 230.)
The exact site of the preaching is not known, but Garcrogo lay close to Clay Hills, where Renwick had preached in January, 1684.
M’Millan informed on some of the people who were at the preaching:
‘he wes informed, on[e] David Charters, a merchant, wes with his sister who wes hearing Rinnick preach Sunday last, and that Grissell Charters, servant woman to James Greir in Nether Minnibowie [i.e., Nether Monybuie] in Balmaclellan paroch, wes there also.’ (RPCS, X, 231.)
M’Millan also informed on his neighbour, Garcrogo. He further deponed ‘that upon Sundayes night last, as he was informed, there were some of these people [at Renwick’s preaching] in [Gordon of] Corthrogoes [Garcrogo’s] hous’. (RPCS, X, 230.)
Four days after Renwick’s preaching near Garcrogo, on Thursday 9 October, William Douglas, duke of Queensberry, his eldest son, Lieutenant-Colonel James Douglas, aka. Lord Drumlanrig, and Colonel John Graham of Claverhouse, who were holding a circuit court at Kirkcudbright, ordered Captain John Strachan of the His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons to investigate Renwick’s preachings at Clay Hills, Garcrogo and Holme [i.e., the Garple Burn]. (RPCS, X, 594.)
Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.