Prisoners Taken at James Renwick’s Preaching at Stonehouse Church in 1686
On Sunday 17 Janaury, 1686, James Renwick preached at the old kirk of St Ninian’s, the parish church of Stonehouse in Lanarkshire.
The church was in use when Renwick preached. It was restored in 1734 and finally replaced by a new church in 1772.
Word of the preaching leaked out and a week later Gavin Hamilton of Raploch and John Somerville of Spittel. sheriff depute of Lanark, took down depositions about it. On Saturday 23 January, Somerville held an assembly of the people of the parish. Two of the depositions he collected describe intriguing incidents surrounding the crossing of the Avon Water, then swollen by a winter flood, by Renwick’s hearers.
The first is from James Miller in East Mains, which lies to the south-east of the ruined church above the southern bank of the Avon in Stonehouse parish.
‘James Miller in Eastmaynes depones he knoues nothing of the conventicle, except in the morneing about —- hours, haveing missed his wyfe a litle, he arose and haveing gone out and go[t] his wyfe comeing homeward, she declared that she had risen out of hir bed haveing h[e]ard a dine about the house and efter she rose found tuo of thir horses prest out, and that upon the horses being taken on of his sones went out after the horse[s] which he got at the watter syde [of the Avon Water] fra the persones that had prest them out after they had gone thrice throw the watter with them; cannot say that ever his wyfe h[e]ard there oun paroch minister [Angus Mackintosh] since he cam. Cannot wrytt. Nota:– That nether his wyfe nor son compiered to depon upon there knowledge of knowing any of these persones who went throw the watter’. (RPCS, XI, 507.)
The second is from Gavin Hamilton in Linthaugh, Stonehouse parish. Linthaugh, or ‘Lintoch’, lies to the north-east of the ruined church close to above the Avon.
His deposition concerns the crossing of the Avon after the preaching. The crossing probably took place close to the later Linthaugh bridge, perhaps at a location known as the ‘Lintoch Steps’.
‘Gavin Hamiltoune in Lintoch, suorn, depones he knew nothing of the conventicle, except upon Sabaths night after midnight [, i.e., very early on Monday 18 January,] being abed there came some persones to his door and calld upon himto help them throw the watter [of Avon], which he refuissed, and they threa[t]ned him till he wes forced to ryse efter they had almost broken up his door, and then he took a horse and went to the watter syde with them, being tua persones armed, ane with a carrabin and suord and the uther with suord and pistole, on of which he that was armed with the carrabine and suord he judged to be Gavin Hamilton in Croftheids servant, but knous not his name, and when they came to the watter the watter wes so great that it wes not rydable and then he came home againe; depones farder that Margrat Granger, widow in Dalyell Kittimur, came to his house desiring help throw the watter, and that she being sitting speaking with his wyfe, he overhard hir say that there had beine a conventicle in the kirk and that she had beine present, and the deponents wyfe have[ing] asked if they were maney at it, she answered it wes so throng that the kirk walls were lyk to burst and that ther were thriee men of there number appoynted to come to the deponent to gett them help throw the watter; and this is truth as he shall answer to God. Sic Subscribitur, Gavin Hamiltone. Nota:— This Margrat Granger, widow, is apprehendit by Levetennent Murray and sent prisoner to Edinburgh.’ (RPCS, XI, 507-8.)
The armed servant of ‘Gavin Hamilton in Croftheids’ was not named. However, John Hamilton in Crofthead was of particular interest to Somerville, who also took a deposition from him:
‘John Hamiltoun in Croftheid, suorn, depones that nether he nor non of his familie wes at the conventicle, but that on the Sabath afternoon [17 January] about sunsetting, his wife, and as he reme[m]bers Margrat Hamiltoune, daughter of Gavin Hamiltoune in Croftheid, told him that the conventicle wes to be h[e]ard since that Mr Jame[s] Rannie wes to preach, but does not remember whiter his wyfe and Margrat Hamiltoune told him or not; acknowledges he hes a bairne that wes borne about Mertimes last [, i.e., Martinmas, 11 November, 1685,] yett unbaptized and confesses that he never h[e]ard his oun paroch minister [Angus Mackintosh] preach as yett [i.e., since April, 1685]; nether his wyfe h[e]ard him; and this is truth as he shall answer to God; adds that his wyfe desired him to tak his child to be baptized there but would not. Sic subscribitur, John Hamiltoun.’ (RPCS, XI, 507.)
After the depositions were taken, John Somerville of Spitell wrote to the Duke of Hamilton on Monday 25 January, 1686:
‘May in please your Grace, Before I receaved your Grace’s letter, which shall be faithfullie obeyed, being in Hamiltoune upon Fryday last [22 January], I wes told of the conventicle kieped in Stanehouse church which wes the first notice I got therof, quherupon imediatlie I orderd out officers to sumond all the inhabitants of that parish to appear before me upon Saterday morneing at the toune of Stanehouse, where I examyned the whole day these who knew anything of the conventicle. I have doubled there depositiones out of the clerks books and sent heirin inclosed to your Grace; as also I gave to Levetenant [James] Murray [of His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons] the names of these whom I learned by the depositiones that were present at the said conventicle, who sent me notice yesternight [Sunday 24 January] that he had apprehended severalls of them. Please your Grace, I find this parish verry irregular, for there wes fyve persones appeared before me who had all children unbaptized, being all about halfe ane yier old, of whom I got securitie that all of them should baptize there children yesterday with there oune parish minister [Angus Mackintosh] and that they should appear at Hamiltoune upon Fryday [29 January] and undergoe the law for not baptizeing them tymeouslie, and very few of the whole parish kieps the church. This wes all that I could doe in the affair in so shart a tyme. I beg to know of your Grace if any uther punishment are to be used against those who have beine present at this conventicle then the act of Parliament prescryves against those who were present at ane house conventicle, that the samyne my be obeyd in caice any shall afterwards compier befor me or be apprehended, or against those who lives about that church [at Stonehouse] and knew of it and did not give tymeouss notice therof, particularlie John Hamiltoune in Croftheid, whose depositiones your Grace may be pleased to read. Your Grace’s comands shall be waitted for by, may it please your Grace, your Grace’s most obedient and most humble servant. [Signed] Jo. Somervell.’ (RPCS, XI, 508-9.)
According to Alexander Shields, ‘Sommervail, of Spittel Sheriff depute, who, besides his other wayes of Persecution wherein he was most Active, drew from the poorest People above 1200 pounds [in Lanarkshire].’ (Shields, A Short Memorial, 31.)
Spittel noted that the parish was ‘verry irregular’ and that ‘very few of the whole parish kieps the church’. In particular, he recorded that ‘fyve persones appeared before me who had all children unbaptized, being all about halfe ane yier old’. The date he alluded to coincides with a change of minister in the parish. John Oliphant, an indulged minister, had held the parish until he was deposed in October, 1684. His replacement, Angus Mackintosh, an episcopal “curate”, translated to the parish at some point after 1 April, 1685, and held the charge until he fled at the Revolution. The imposition of Macintosh clearly met with considerable local hostility. On 28 or 29 December, 1689, a group of armed Society people symbolically removed the symbol of his office, his gown, after he had fled. (Fasti, III, 280; Jardine, ‘United Societies’, I, 237.)
It is possible that Renwick exploited local tensions over the new “curate” to further the Societies’ cause. Stonehouse is his only known use of a church as the setting for a preaching. According to one deposition, ‘the number of children baptizied [by Renwick after sermon] were about tuelve’. (RPCS, XI, 507.)
Who attended Renwick’s Stonehouse Preaching?
Between Saturday 23 and Sunday 24 January, 1686, Lieutenant James Murray captured Margaret Grainger and several others on the list of suspected attenders submitted by Somerville of Spittel.
Before the preaching, Lieutenant Murray had summarily executed John Brown at Blackwood in March, 1685.
A fortnight after he was in Stonehouse parish, Murray was involved in the capture and interrogation of William Steel, the son of John Steel in Rogerhill, and Thomas Steel, the son of the deceased laird of Skellyhill.
The prisoners captured by Murray after the preaching were sent to Edinburgh and held in the Canongate Tolbooth. Soon after they arrived, they were examined by Lord Livingston and General William Drummond.
The prisoners were:
1. James Miller in Spittal, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
Probably captured by Lieutenant Murray. Miller was the husband of Margaret Miller [No.2]. He claimed that he had not attended Renwick’s preaching, but acknowledged that his wife had attended and had their child baptised. Miller was a tenant of Cromwell Lockhart of Lee.
‘James Miller in the paroch of Stenhouse, tennent to [Cromwell Lockhart] the Laird of Lee, being solemnlie sworne and interogat, depones he knowes nor heard of non that wes at the conventicle latlie keept at the Kirk of Stenhouse but Richard Mickle, a fewar in Silvertounhills, who he deponed [sic] heard was there; confesses his own wife [Margaret Miller] wes there and hade a child of his baptized there and that his child wes halfe a yeir old; depones he heard that Robert Hamilton in Coatcastle and his wife wes there, and that they are fled and John Mitchell in Cromoth were there and his wife and hade a child baptized and himselfe is since fled; depones he wes not there himselfe and that his wife, Margaret Miller, fled after the conventicle and that he heard that Alexander Hamiltoun in Langrig in [the laird of] Lee’s land, a fugitive, wes there; and depones he know[s] no more; and that this is truth as he shall answer to God. [Signed] James Miller.’ (RPCS, XI, 494.)
He was held prisoner in the Canongate Tolbooth. He supplicated and was released. (RPCS, XI, 495-6.)
Miller identified seven others who had allegedly attended Renwick’s preaching. They were:
2. Margaret Miller, the wife of James Miller in Spittal, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
She had her child by James Miller [No.1.] baptised at Renwick’s preaching. She fled her house to evade capture.
3. Richard Meikle, feuar in Silverton Hill, Hamilton parish, Lanarkshire.
According to James Miller [No.1.], he had heard that ‘Richard Mickle, a fewar in Silvertounhills’, was at Renwick’s preaching. Eupham Mitchell [No.17.] also claimed that she had heard that ‘one Richard Meikle, a fugitive, wes there’. He was not captured.
The farm at ‘Silvertounhills’ is now known as Silverton Hill and has become a suburb of Hamilton. The farm was located here.
His fugitive status suggests that he may have been the same individual as the ‘Richard Meikle in Tweedyside’ in Stonehouse parish who was listed on the Fugitive Roll published in May, 1684. Like some others from Stonehouse parish, Meikle was listed under Carluke parish on the Fugitive Roll. (Jardine, ‘United Societies, II, 194.)
On 14 March, 1681, ‘Ritchard Meikle in Tweidiesyd’ had been indicted for his part in the Bothwell Rising of 1679. (CST, XI, 253.)
4 & 5. Robert Hamilton in Cot Castle and Mrs Robert Hamilton, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
According to James Miller [No.1.], he heard that ‘Robert Hamilton in Coatcastle and his wife’ attended Renwick’s preaching at Stonehouse Kirk. Cornet Innes noted that they had fled their home. They were not captured. The name Coat Castle refers to a nearby motte.
6 & 7. John Mitchell, younger, in Crumhaugh and his wife, Katherine Hamilton, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
According to James Miller [No.1.], ‘John Mitchell in Cromoth were there and his wife and hade a child baptized and himselfe is since fled’. Janet Hamilton [No.15.] recorded that ‘Katherne Hamiltoun, spous to John Mitchell in Crommoth, who hade a child baptized’. A third record states that ‘John Mitchell, younger of Crumoch, absent. It is thought he had tua children baptizied at the conventicle.’ (RPCS, XI, 507.)
According to Cornet Innes, ‘John Mitchell in Crommoch his wife also baptised a child but they are both fledd’. They were not captured. Mitchell and his wife were neighbours of Robert Hamilton and his wife [Nos. 4 & 5.] in Cot Castle.
8. Alexander Hamilton in Lanrigg in the Laird of Lee’s land, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
According to James Miller [No.1.], ‘he heard that Alexander Hamiltoun in Langrig in Lee’s land, a fugitive, wes there’. Hamilton was a tenant of Cromwell Lockhart, Laird of Lee. He was not captured.
Like others in Stonhouse parish, ‘Alexander Hamilton in Langrig’ and a ‘John Hamilton, there,’ were listed on the Fugitive Roll of 1684 under Carluke parish. (Jardine, ‘United Societies, II, 194.)
9. Helen Miller in Spittal, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
Probably captured by Lieutenant Murray. She was the sister of James Miller [No.1.]. According to her deposition before Somerville, ‘Helen Miller in the Spitle in Stenhouse paroch, sister to James Miller, the first deponent, refuises to depone.’ She was held prisoner in the Canongate Tolbooth. She supplicated and was released. (RPCS, XI, 495-6.)
10. Margaret Grainger, widow in Kittymuir, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
Captured by Lieutenant James Murray. A neighbour of John Hamilton in Crofthead. ‘Margaret Grainger, widdow in Kittiemuir under [Cromwell Lockhart] the Laird of Lee, being solemnlie sworne and interogat, refuises to depone.’ (RPCS, XI, 494.)
She was held prisoner in the Canongate Tolbooth, Edinburgh. After supplicating, she was released. (RPCS, XI, 495-6.)
11. Andrew Alexander, tailor in Thinacres, Hamilton parish, Lanarkshire.
Possibly captured by Lieutenant James Murray.
‘Andrew Alexander, taylior in the paroch of Hamiltoun, in Finaikers under the Duke [of Hamilton], being interogat, confesses the he wes at the conventicle and the kirk was full of men and women and that he knew non that was there except Alexander Mure who lives in the same toune with the declarant; confesses there wes some that hade armes but cannot condescend one there number and that he heard that it was Mr Reny [i.e., James Renwick] that preached. Being interogat if it be lawfull to take armes againest the King in defence of the Covennant, refuises to answer or to depone and cannot write.’ (RPCS, XI, 494.)
His fate is not known. Alexander named one other.
11. Alexander Muir in Thinacres, Hamilton parish, Lanarkshire.
Named by Andrew Alexander [No.10] as present. He was not captured.
12. Alexander Cairns in the Laird of Lee’s land, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
Possibly captured by Lieutenant James Murray. Cairns claimed that he was not present at the preaching. It is not clear where Cairns lived, but it was possibly near Spittal in Stonehouse parish. He also identified an individual in Canderwater.
‘Alexander Cairnes in the paroch of Stenhouse in the Laird of Lee’s land, being solemnlie sworne and interogat, depones that he himselfe wes not at the conventicle but that his wife [Janet Hamilton] told him that she was there and hade his child with her to be baptized, and that his child was tuenty weeks old or thereby and is called Agnes; depones that his wife told him that Margaret Miller [No.2.] wes there and had a bairn baptized; as also Thomas Hog [in Brackenhill] in the Laird of Lee’s land in Lesmahagow and one William Miller in Candor Watter in the said paroch [of Lesmahagow]; and this is all he knowes of the matter as he shall answer to God. [Singed] Alexander Kairnes.’ (RPCS, XI, 495.)
He was held prisoner in the Canongate Tolbooth, Edinburgh. He supplicated and was released. (RPCS, XI, 495-6.)
Cairns identified Margaret Miller [No.2] as having bairn baptised and his wife, Janet Hamilton [No.15.], as having their infant daughter, Agnes Cairns [No.16.], baptized.
13. Thomas Hogg in Brackenhill in the Laird of Lee’s land, Lesmahagow parish, Lanarkshire.
Hogg was identified by Alexander Cairns [No.12.] as present at Renwick’s preaching. Brackenhill, has now vanished, but it lay in the woods to the west of the industrial estate on the southern tip of Lesmahagow, i.e., at the end of Goldcrest Crescent on Google maps.
William Steel, son of the farmer in Rogerhill, who was banished to Barbados in 1687, was captured after he had met David Steel in Cumberhead, Mary Weir, Steel’s wife, and Margaret Curro in Hogg’s house at Brackenhill in early, 1686.
14. William Miller in Canderwater in Lesmahagow parish, Lanarkshire.
Identified by Alexander Cairns [No.12.] and his wife [No.15.] as present at Renwick’s preaching. In the latter interrogation, he was identified as ‘William Miler’ in Dalserf parish. He was not captured.
‘Candor Watter’, now Canderwater, lies on the boundary between the parishes of Lesmahagow and Dalserf.
15. Janet Hamilton, wife of Alexander Cairns in the Laird of Lee’s land, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
Possibly captured by Lieutenant James Murray.
‘Janett Hamiltoun, spous to the said Alexander Cairnes, being sworne and interogat, confesses she wes present at the conventicle and hade her child [Agnes (No.16.)] baptized there and that she told her husband of her goeing there but he wes not for her goeing to it, and that it wes Margerat Miller [No.2.], spouse to James Miler in Spitle, wes the persone that acquanted her of the said conventicle and that the said Margerat wes there and hade a bairn baptized, and confesses that her own bairn wes about halfe ane year old; confesses she saw Alexander Hamilton in the paroch of Stenhouse and David Steill in Cummerhead, Thomas Hoge in the paroch of Lesmahagow in Brakinhill, William Miller in Dalserph parich, Robert Hamilton in Coatcastle in Stenhouse paroch and Katherne Hamiltoun, spous to John Mitchell in Crommoth, who hade a child baptized, and Margaret Grainger in Kittiemure, all at the said meeting. The deponent is very ingenuous and penetent and promeises all punctuall obedience hereafter; and hes a young infant at home and nobody to caire for it. Cannot writ. [Signed] Livingstoune; W. Drumond.’ (RPCS, XI, 495.)
She was held prisoner in the Canongate Tolbooth, Edinburgh. She supplicated and was released. (RPCS, XI, 495-6.)
Hamilton took her daughter to be baptised at Renwick’s preaching.
16. Agnes Cairns, infant.
A possibly unique record of the name of an infant baptised by Renwick. She remained at home while her parents were in imprisoned in Edinburgh.
Janet Hamilton also identified a key Societies’ activist as present at Renwick’s preaching.
17. David Steel in Cumberhead, Lesmahagow parish, Lanarkshire.
Janet Hamilton [No.15.] claimed that ‘David Steill in Cummerhead’, aka. David Steel of Skellyhill, also attended Renwick’s preaching.
The presence of David Steel in Cumberhead at Renwick’s preaching appears to confirm that he remained in the Society people after he received a letter from Robert Langlands in late 1685. Renwick held a meeting at Cumberhead soon after his Stonehouse preaching.
Cornet James Innes of His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons was also involved in rounding those who had attended Renwick’s preaching.
On 24 January, Cornet Innes wrote to General William Drummond:
‘May it please your Excellence, Immediatly at sight of yours, I sent out a party to apprehend these people yow sent me the list of, but Lieutenent [James] Murray hade seased them befor. Robert Hamiltone in Coatcastle and his wife are fledd; John Mitchell in Crommoch his wife also baptised a child but they are both fledd; Eupham Mitchell, spouse to John Hamiltone in the Crommoch, whom I have sent prisoner to Lanerk, also baptised a child; her husband is also fledd, for I sent two partyes this last night to their houses but could get notice of none of them. I have got intelligence of some Lesmahagoe people who were also at the conventicle and am going to search for them, which is all the account can be given at present by, Sir, your Excellencies most humble servant, [Signed] [Cornet] James Innes.’ (RPCS, XI, 508.)
James Innes was commissioned in His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons in 1681. In 1686, Innes was the cornet in a troop commanded by Captain William Livingston of Kilsyth and Lieutenant James Dundas. (Dalton, Scots Army, 122, 144.)
Captain Livingston was perhaps William Livingston (1650–1733). He later married the widow of John Graham of Claverhouse. From 1706 he was Viscount Kilsyth. An opponent of Union, he was forfeited for his part in the 1715 Jacobite Rising.
18. John Hamilton in Crumhaugh, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
Said to have fled his house before it was raided by Cornet Innes. His wife, Eupham Mitchell [No. 19.] had a child baptised at Renwick’s preaching.
19. Eupham Mitchell, wife of John Hamilton in Crumhaugh, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
Mitchell had her child baptized by Renwick. She was captured by Cornet James Innes.
Mitchell and her husband, John Hamilton, were neighbours of John Mitchell and Katherine Hamilton in Crumhaugh [No 6 & 7.] and live nearby Robert Hamilton and his wife in Cot Castle [Nos 4 & 5.].
‘Eupham Mitchaell, spous to John Hamiltoun in Cromouth in Stenhouse paroch, being sworne and interogat, confesses she wes led away to conventicle, and hade a child with her to be baptized, by Robert Hamiltouns wife [No.5.] in Coatcastle, whose husband she beleives wes there, and knew non more that were there but Janett Hamiltoun [No.15.], her fellow prisoner, and heard that one Richard Meikle [No.3.], a fugitive, wes there; depones she saw no armed men there but one with a muskett in his hand standing at the door; depones she knowes no more of the matter and is soryfull for her fault; and this is the truth as she shall answer to God, and cannot write. [Signed] Livingstoune.’ (RPCS, XI, 495.)
She was held prisoner in the Canongate Tolbooth. She supplicated and was released. (RPCS, XI, 495-6.)
18. John Gilchrist, Carluke parish, Lanarkshire.
It is not clear if Gilchrist attended Renwick’s preaching at Stonehouse Kirk. Like Eupham Mitchell, he, too, was before General William Drummond and Lord Livingston on 29 January, 1686: ‘John Gilchrist in the paroch of Carluck, a fugitive remanded to prisone’. (RPCS, XI, 495.)
The Fugitive Roll of 1684 does not contain a fugitive called John Gilchrist in Carluke parish. However, a John Gilkerson, smith in Over-Kirkton’ in Carluke parish was listed on the Roll. (Jardine, ‘United Societies, II, 194.)
John Gilchrist was probably captured after David Houston’s preaching at the Polbaith Burn in January, 1687.
Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.