The Looting of Dalmellington in 1685

After the defeat of the Argyll Rising in mid June, 1685, the parish of Dalmellington was quartered and looted by the Scottish Army …

‘The whole forces under [George Douglas] the earl of Dumbarton, together with the Lothian militia, in all about six thousand men, encamped about three weeks in the corn and meadow grounds, about the little village of Dalmellington. My lord Stair and Cesnock’s lands were appointed for free quarter, and indeed entirely plundered by the soldiers, and the whole parish fell under the common calamity. Any rooms or farms possessed by any of the relations of the wanderers and sufferers, were abused in a particular manner.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 330.)

Dalmellington © Mark Klimek and licensed for reuse.

Wodrow also described how the town was looted:

‘Besides all this, and much more, which cannot be calculated at this distance, the inhabitants of the town lost much, by the seizing of their household-furniture, and every thing in the way for the use of the camp, and by a general plunder when the army removed. This may give us a view of the oppression of this army.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 330.)

He also specified loses at particular farms, which were often connected to the ‘wanderers’, i.e., fugitive Society people:

Benquhat/Benwhat © david johnston and licensed for reuse.

‘The reader needs not my help to compute what oppression this was to those honest people. That very first night the army encamped there, were brought into the camp from Bluewhat, five score of nolt [i.e., cattle], fifteen score of sheep, as is attested by John Macadam and John Davidson, herds there, yet living. These were all quickly consumed, and nothing ever was paid for them.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 330.)

Wodrow’s ‘Bluewhat’ is the ruined farm of Benquhat/Benwhat, the ruins of which lie just below the war memorial on Benquhat Hill.

Map of Benquhat                 Aerial View of Benquhat

The farm at Benquhat was held by James Dun. Two of his sons, Robert Dun and Roger Dun, were fugitives from Bothwell. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 205.)

His son Robert was killed with a James Dun (probably close kin) in the action at Caldons on 23 January, 1685.

His youngest son, Quintin, was seized in December, 1683, and banished to Jamaica in July, 1685.

‘That the reader may have some view of the miserable state of things under this oppression, I shall point at a few particulars. The following troops were sent to the following rooms, fourteen days upon each, at free quarter. A troop consisting of sixty horse and men, in the Nether-laight, possessed by James Dunn.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 330.)

Nether Laight was probably either the farm at Laight, or located close to Laight.

Map of Laight             Aerial View of Laight

Dunaskin Ironworks © david johnston and licensed for reuse.

‘Another troop was quartered upon the Dunaskies, possessed by two tenants, Ronald Rob, and Anthony Bizzart.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 330.)

In 1682, Ronald Rob paid twenty-five merks, and was imprisoned four days [and] … Anthony Bizzard in Dynasken [i.e., Dunaskin], was fined in an hundred pounds’ for hearing George Barclay preach.

Dunaskies, aka. Dunaskin, now a ruin and clump of trees, lay to the south-west of Benquhat. The nearby Dunaskin Glen is supposed to have been a place where Covenanters hid.

Map of Dunaskin              Aerial View of Dunaskin

Minnivey © James Allan and licensed for reuse.

‘A troop upon Minivoy, possessed by William Macadam;’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 330.)

Map of Minnivey              Aerial View of Minnivey

Pennyvenie © Mary and Angus Hogg and licensed for reuse.

‘and fifteen horse and men were quartered upon John Paterson in Pennyveinzie.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 330.)

The farm of Pennyvenie has vanished, but lay in the field behind Glebe House. There are several later and unreliable traditions about Paterson in Pennyvennie.

Map of Pennyvenie               Aerial View of Pennyvenie

Street View towards Pennyvenie

From Benbeoch to Benbain © Trevor Littlewood and licensed for reuse.

‘William Hoitson of Benbeoch, sustained the loss of eighteen score and fourteen old sheep, nine score of lambs, and fifteen nolt, besides all his household plenishing, with two bolls of bear, and five of meal, which he is ready yet to verify, and severals of his neighbours yet alive. William Hoitson was never convict of the least irregularity, and no crime against the government could so much as be alleged; only he was married to James Dick, tacksman of the ground, his daughter, and he was a nonconformist.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 330.)

Benbeoch was probably either another name for Benbain, or had been held by the Dicks of Benbain before 1683.

Map of Benbain              Aerial View of Benbain

Much of the farm of Benbain has been obliterated by the opencast coal mines which surround the hill of Benbeoch.

William Hoitson’s son-in-law was James Dick, the tacksman of the lands of Benbeoch. James Dick was probably kin of the fugitives, John Dick of Benbain and Quintin Dick, both of whom were prominent members of the Society people who opposed James Renwick’s leadership.

James Dick may have been acting as a proxy for John and Quintin Dicks, as they were fugitives in July, 1685. James, the factor, may be the James Dick involved in conferences with the Societies in 1689.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on July 31, 2012.

6 Responses to “The Looting of Dalmellington in 1685”

  1. […] does not appear on the Fugitive Roll of May, 1684. In early June or July, 1685, fifteen horsemen were quartered at Pennyvenie. It is not clear if Paterson was resident on the farm at that time. The implication of the […]

  2. […] had connections in Dalmellington parish. After the defeat of the Argyll Rising in mid June, 1685, Dalmellington was heavily quartered by dragoons. Among the farms upon whom troops were quartered were those of the Duns at Benquhat, the Dicks at […]

  3. I forgive them cos it was over 300 years ago haha😂

  4. […] According to Wodrow, after the defeat and capture of Argyll on 16 to 18 June, the Scottish Army descended on Dalmellington for the three-week-long ‘looting’ of the surrounding area. That oppression possibly lasted until, and perhaps beyond, word of […]

  5. […] does not appear on the Fugitive Roll of May, 1684. In early June or July, 1685, fifteen horsemen were quartered at Pennyvenie. It is not clear if Paterson was resident on the farm at that time. The implication of the […]

  6. […] in Dalmellington parish, Ayrshire, who was listed on the fugitive roll published in May, 1684. Dalmellington parish witnessed significant military activity during the summer of 1685 and it is possible that it led to the capture of […]

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