The Man Who Hid in Holes

Glengavel WaterAt the Foot of Dungavel © Gordon Brown and licensed for reuse.

In 1710, Wodrow heard a story from Thomas Linning, then minister at Lesmahagow, about one of James Renwick’s narrow escapes at a roadside on moor at an unspecified location and date:

‘At another time, in the muirs, he was purseued by the soldiers, and he fledd till they wer within sight of him; and he quitt his horse, and took himself to his feet, thinking to get in to some mosse, where they could not reach him. And just when he had quitt his horse, and they wer within veu, ther was a hole very near the highway, out of which some stones had been taken, and it came in his mind, that that place might be his refuge; and accordingly he stepped doun into it. They took his horse and his papers; and though the hole was perfectly open, and only just the deepth of a man, soe that his head almost might have been seen, yea, they wer soe near, that he heard the sound of the horses’ feet, and their words one to another, yet they did not discover him, though they searched ane hour or two thereabout.’ (Wodrow, Analecta, I, 289-90.)

There are distinct parallels between Linning’s story and Renwick version of his near capture at Dungavel on 30 July, 1684. At Dungavel, Renwick fled from the dragoons on horseback but was then forced to abandon his horse and continue on foot. On that occasion, he also hid in a hole and lost his papers. Linning’s version of the escape does not precisely tally with Renwick’s version, but the features they both have in common suggest that Linning’s account refers to the same escape.

Renwick’s escape prevented him from attending the Societies’ fifteenth convention, but Linning almost certainly did attend the same convention, as it issued him with a letter of recommendation to foreign churches. (‘To the Reformed Churches 31 July 1684. Intitled Recommendation of Tho: Linnen’, EUL MSS, La.III.350. No. 131.)

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

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~ by drmarkjardine on May 13, 2013.

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