The Barbadoed and James Renwick’s Preaching in Cambusnethan Parish in late 1685

One of James Renwick’s field preachings at the head of Cambusnethan parish in Lanarkshire in October, 1685, would end up with the banishment of three men to Barbados…

Information about the conventicle reached the privy council when a letter from Cromwell Lockhart of Lee to George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh, the Lord Advocate, was passed on to the committee of publict affairs.

The committee, made up of Alexander Cairncross, Archbishop of Glasgow, Viscount Tarbet, Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath and Sir John Lockhart, Lord Castlehill, met on 29 October.

John Wedderburn of Gosford

‘[Sir George Lockhart of Carnwath,] The Lord President of Session haveing communicat to the Committie [of publict affairs] a letter direct from [Cromwell Lockhart,] the Laird of Lie giveing ane account of tuo feild conventicles lately keeped at the head of Cambusnethem paroch, the Lords of the Committie did thereupon order the letter following to be direct to Major [John] Wedderburne of Gosfoord’ (RPCS, XI, 206.)

Sir John Wedderburn of Gosford (1657-1688) had been commissioned as a major in His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons on 30 March, 1685, and during the Argyll Rising he had acted as a courier between Scotland and Whitehall. He was later promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment on 6 November, 1685, but he left the regiment before 30 July, 1686. (Dalton, Scots Army, 144, 145n.)

He was also a member of parliament for Haddingtonshire in the parliaments of 1685 and 1686, and appointed a commissioner of supply for that shire in 1685. He died in 1688. (RPS, 1685/4/2; 1685/4/33; 1686/4/2.)

The Letter to Gosford
‘Sir, The Lords of the Committie of Councill for publict affairs haveing just now receaved information of tuo rebellious feild conventicles keept at the head of Cambusnethem paroch, were severall persons wer present in armes and where that execrable rebell and traitor, [James] Renwick, did preach, they therfor recommend to yow forthwith to make all inquirie anent the persones wer present at the saids conventicles, the preacher, and on whose lands the same wer keept, and what diligence has been done by the heretors and by the forces in discovering, pursueing and apprehending these guiltie of the said crime, and what procedor has been made by the sheriff depute and other magistrates near the place, that the Councill or the Committie may accordingly proceed and punish the faultie according to law.

Your diligence in this affare and your report is desyred to be returned to the Clerks of Councill as soon as is possible. You are also immediatly to send ane account of the names of the heretors in whose lands these conventicles wer keept. I am your humble servant.
Sic scribitur GLASCUEN I.P.D.
Postscript, The copie of the letter sent [by Cromwell Lockhart of Lee] to his Majesties Advocat[, George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh,] is heirwith transmitted for your furder information.’ (RPCS, XI, 206-7.)

Renwick’s Preaching
The head of Cambusnethan parish lay around Darmead, an area which had frequently been used for field preaching by the Society people.

Map of Darmead

At least one of the field preachings mentioned in Lee’s letter probably took place on Sunday, 25 October, as Renwick had attended the United Societies’ twenty-fourth convention at Polbeith burn on Wednesday, 21 October, and held a preaching in Eaglesham parish, probably on 18 October. Prior to that he appears to have preached at Auchengilloch in Evandale parish.

It is a reasonable presumption that at least three of the six Society people that were brought before the council in November and December, 1685, were captured as a result of the information sent by Laird of Lee and Major Wedderburn’s actions.

On 26 November, 1685, ‘David Paterson in Eglesham paroch, James Somervell, fermoroer in Cambusnethan paroch, William Somervell, his brother, William French there [in Cambusnethan parish], James Rae in Udistoun [i.e., Udston, Hamilton parish] and John Park, weaver in Lanerk, now prisoners in the tolbooth of Edinburgh’ faced a compound charge before the council of attending conventicles held by George Barclay, Thomas Douglas, John Flint and James Renwick, and resetting preachers.

Before the council they ‘wer so obstinat and arrogant as not only to refuse to take and suear the said oath of allegiance … but even proceeded to that hight of arrogance and insolence as to deny the King to be their laufull sovereigne or to own his authoritie or to suear the oath of abjuration, and wer so wicked and malicious as that they refused to pray for the King’. (RPCS, XI, 232.)

It is likely that the three Cambusnethan men, James Somerville, William Somerville and William French, and perhaps Park and/or Rae, were taken after Renwick’s preaching. John Park may have been kin to a ‘James Park, weaver there [in Lanark]’ who was listed on the Fugitive Roll of 1684. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 199.)


The six prisoners were banished to Barbados and delivered to ‘and transported by Mr Alexander Fearne [aka. Captain Fairn?] in the ship belonging to him and now bounding thither’. (RPCS, XI, 233.)

They were banished on 9 December. Wodrow’s editing process led to William French being recorded as ‘William Freugh’ and a mistake in which the Cambusnethan prisoners appeared to come from Eaglesham parish. (Wodrow, History, IV, 223.)

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on August 24, 2012.

4 Responses to “The Barbadoed and James Renwick’s Preaching in Cambusnethan Parish in late 1685”

  1. Thank you for this interesting glimpse of the past. I happen to possess a portrait of Lord Castlehill, my direct ancestor, whose kindly features not only strongly resemble those of my father but plainly hide a steelier side. I will happily send you a photo if you wish.

    • Dear Stephen,
      I wish to accept your very kind offer of an image of your forebear, Lord Castlehill. You can send it to jardinesbookofmartyrs [at]

      I like the sound of your pen portrait of Lord Castlehill and I look forward to seeing what he looked like. Bringing this period closer to us through images is something I am keen on.

      A large section of the Scottish population disapproved of the Society people, especially among the social elite. The Society peoples’ rejection of the King’s authority and that of his judges made harsh punishments like banishment unavoidable.

      A new post featuring Lord Castlehill will follow within minutes.

      Thank you,


  2. […] occasions in the South West and in October he preached at Auchengilloch, Eaglesham Moor and Cambusnethan. At the same time, the number of field shootings dramatically tailed off. Between late 1685 and the […]

  3. […] A tentative chronology of events can be reconstructed. At some point in mid October 1685, Renwick held a conventicle on the boundary of Eaglesham and Kilbride parishes, probably on the eastern end of Eaglesham Moor (perhaps at Munzie Hill or Myres), which was attended by John Nisbet of Hardhill. That field preaching probably took place on Sunday 18 October, as Renwick preached at Auchengilloch before he preached in Eaglesham Moor and after he had returned from thirteen preachings the South West. He appears to have preached in Cambusnethan parish on 25 October. […]

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