The Architect of the Massacre of Glencoe Banishes Covenanters to Barbados

Very little is known about three obscure Covenanters who were sentenced to banishment in Barbados in March, 1687.

Robert Sloss
Sloss is probably the Robert Sloss from Ayrshire who was ‘fined by the commissioners at Ayr, and banished’ along with Quintin Dick. He was ordered to the plantations by the privy council on 5 February, 1685, but apparently not transported until 1687. (Wodrow, History, IV, 198-9.)

George Main
In around March, 1687, George Main appears on a list of prisoners for the Canongate tolbooth contains ‘George Maine—imprisoned by the lait Lord Advocate [i.e., George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh] his order [before May, 1686]’. (RPCS, XIII, 134.)

Between May, 1686, and February, 1688, George Mackenzie was not the Lord Advocate.

Master of Stair

The Lord Advocate responsible for the prosecution of Main and all the other Covenanters banished to Barbados in 1687 was John Dalrymple, Master of Stair, (1648–1707). Dalrymple was moderate presbyterian who would later support the Glorious Revolution and the Treaty of Union. In 1692, Dalrymple was the architect of the Massacre of Glencoe.

Alexander Finlay
Finlay appears among a number of prisoners who were examined on 24 February, 1687, for attending James Renwick’s field preaching in Dreghorn parish, Ayrshire. However, it is not clear if he was at the Dreghorn conventicle. The entry in the registers of the privy council does not state that he was suspected of attending that preaching, only that he refused to depone, i.e., he did not recognise the authority of privy council:

‘Alexander Finlay, about twenty years of age or thereby, refuises to depone, and being interogat if he owns his Majesties authoritie refuises to answer. (Signed) Linlithgow. (On the margin) Just[ices]’ (RPCS, XIII, 128.)

Edinburgh Tolbooth


Finlay, Main and Sloss were clearly sentenced to banishment by the justices, as on 12 March, 1687, their names were listed among prisoners who were to be banished to Barbados on Mr Croft’s ship.

Listed in the Canongate Tolbooth were ‘George Main to be banished; [and] Alexander Finlay, formerlie before the justices to be banished, now in Edinburgh tolbooth’. (RPCS, XIII, 133.)

List in Edinburgh Tolbooth was ‘Robert Slosse to be banished’. (RPCS, XIII, 133.)

They also appear on a list of prisoners brought before two archbishops, the Master of Stair, Justice Clerk and Castlehill on 12 March: ‘Edinburgh:—To be transported— …Robert Slose, … George Main, [and] Alexander Finlay—formerlie remitted to the Justices and again remitted to the Council.’ (RPCS, XIII, 134.)

All three men were sentenced to banishment to Barbados, although, unlike some of the banished Society people, there is no evidence to confirm their banishment on Mr Croft’s ship in April, 1687.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on August 17, 2012.

2 Responses to “The Architect of the Massacre of Glencoe Banishes Covenanters to Barbados”

  1. […] Alexander Finlay. The Alexander Finlay who was also banished to Barbados in March 1687 may also have attended Renwick’s preaching in Dreghorn parish. (RPCS, XIII, […]

  2. […] they rejected what Dalrymple would have seen as legitimate authority. In 1687, Dalrymple served as Lord Advocate to King James and continued the repression of the Society people. If William Graham shared his brother’s politics, which are discussed below, then he was one of […]

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