James Renwick’s Preaching near Cumberhead in Lesmahagow parish

In March, 1686, James Renwick preached ‘above’ Cumberhead in Lesmahagow parish, Lanarkshire. A banishment to Barbados would follow.

Map of Cumberhead      Street View of road to Cumberhead

Cumberhead © Becky Williamson and licensed for reuse.

Thomas Peat in Lesmahagow parish and John White, a herd in Douglas parish, were captured after the preaching. According to the register of the privy council for 6 April, 1686:

‘Thomas Peitt in Lesmahagow paroch, aprehended for being at the field conventicle above Cumerhead betuixt Lesmahagow and [the parish of Muirkirk of] Kyle [in Ayrshire], where it wes sayd Reny [i.e., James Renwick] preached, sayes the word bids him to hear all and hold what is good; being interrogat what number would have been at the conventicle, sayes their would have bein about 200 and that to his knowledge non hade armes but four, and that he knew non of them by David Steill [in Cumberhead] in Lesmahago paroch; refuises to swear not to ryse in armes, but will promeise not to ryse in armes; sayes he knowes but would not goe again to hear conventicles if his mynd gave him it (sic); sayes he is ignorant of the Archbishops murder [in 1679] and will not say whither it be a murder or not; remanded to prisone.’ (RPCS, XII, 190.)

On the same day and immediately after Peitt, White appeared:

‘John Whyte in Douglas sayes he knowes for what he wes apprehended but that they sayd to him it wes for being at a conventicle; confeses he wes at a field conventicle keept in a glen in Lesmahagoe paroch; being interogat what number of hearers were there answers he went not their to number the people; sayes there wes some their hade armes but he did not heed them; being interogat if he owns the Kings authority refuises to give any satisfactory answer or to swear not to ryse in armes; remanded in prison.’ (RPCS, XII, 190.)

Pockmuir Burn © Chris Wimbush and licensed for reuse.

The conventicle that Peat and White attended was held in ‘a glen’ above Cumberhead between Lesmahagow parish and Muirkirk parish. The rough description of the location probably suggests that Renwick preached somewhere along the Pockmuir Burn above Cumberhead, perhaps in the glen behind Black Hill and Law Hill.

Map of Glen on the Pockmuir Burn

Renwick had previously held a meeting at Cumberhead on Tuesday 26 January, 1686. The farm was the home of David Steel, a key figure in the debates between the Societies and a faction of breakaway societies at that time. Renwick’s preaching at Cumberhead in March seems to confirm that Steel supported Renwick in the dispute, rather than the breakaway societies in Carrick and Galloway.

‘David Steel in Cummerhead’ is listed on the published Fugitive Roll of 1684. He was shot by government forces in December, 1686. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 199.)

The Monument to David Steel at Nether Skellyhill © Gordon Brown and licensed for reuse.

Peat and possibly White were brought back before the council on 30 June, 1686:

‘Thomas Pet in Lesmahago parish, taken at the conventicle at Cumerhead in March last [1686], quhich he confesses and that [ther] wer some people in armes ther but not many; declares he had no armes ther nor newer wes in armes; aknouledges the King [James VII] and prays for him and thinks it unlaufull to ryse in armes aganst the King upon any accompt, but will not giwe any oath; declares he is content to keip the church and used to doe so befor. The Lords offer it as ther opinion he be liberat upon his inacting of himself to liwe regularly and compeir when callit for. (On the margin) ‘Lib[erated].’ (RPCS, XII, 325.)

The following entry may refer to John Wright, rather than White, who was also banished:

‘John Weight, a herd, sayes he sometymes heard the gospell preached but thinks he will mardlie tell by whom or when and where; being asked if he owns his Majesties authoritie or thinks it lawfull to ryse in armes against him, seeks tyme to consider.’ (RPCS, XII, 325.)

The Canongate Tolbooth

Both Peat and White were retained in prison in Edinburgh, probably in the Canongate Tolbooth.

On 28 September, 1686, Peat, one of the prisoners in the Cannagate, was examined again: ‘Thomas Pett to be also processed ut supra [i.e., ‘in order to banishment’ to Barbados]. (RPCS, XII, 477.)

It appears that he may have been liberated after 28 September, presumably after he gave the requested assurances to live regularly.

John White was banished to forced indentured servitude in Barbados in early 1687. However, he was rescued from the island by the Societies in late 1688. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 104.)

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on February 26, 2012.

2 Responses to “James Renwick’s Preaching near Cumberhead in Lesmahagow parish”

  1. […] individual mentioned by name in the letter is a Janet Peat. A Thomas Peat in Lesmahagow parish was taken after Renwick preached at Cumberhead in March, […]

  2. […] year, he is known to have field preached about once a month: In Stonehouse parish (17 January), Lesmahagow parish (March), Cumnock parish (April), probably somewhere in Galloway, Nithsdale and Annandale prior to 3 […]

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