The Covenanters of the White Cairn in Galloway
‘There is another large accumulation of stones, called the White Cairn, on the mark of Glencaird. Part of it having been carried away, a cave was thereby laid open, 18 feet in length, 5 feet in breadth, and 4 feet deep. Several of the stones by which this cave is formed, are upwards of a ton in weight each. Nathaniel M’Kie, the Laird of Glencaird, and his two sons, are said to have concealed themselves in this cave during the latter part of the persecution, and thereby escaped the fury of [John Graham of] Claverhouse, whose wrath they has incurred by harbouring some people who were surprised at a conventicle in the neighbourhood.’ (NSA, 132.)
The White Cairn is a neolithic chambered cairn in Minnigaff parish, Kirkcudbrightshire, Galloway.
The Glencaird estate lay by the Water of Minnoch. The White Cairn lies to south-west of the former location of the house.
The cairn is easily found from Glentrool Village. Pictures of the inside of the White Cairn can be found here.
McKerlie corrected the name of the Covenanter found in the New Statistical Account:
‘In the Statistical Account it is mentioned that ..during the persecution, Nathaniel (Anthony?) McKie of Glencaird and his two sons were concealed in it’. (McKerlie, A History of the Lands and their Owners in Galloway, ?, 356.)
McKie of Glencaird was forfeited in December 1682 with many other Galloway lairds for his part in the Battle of Bothwell Bridge. In the sources he is known as M’Kie/Mackie of Cloncaird/Clonard/Clowcaird/Doncaird. (CST, XI, 926, 938-39, 944.)
He was captured by, or more likely surrendered to, John Graham of Claverhouse at some point in early-to-mid 1682.
According to Claverhouse, when he wrote from Moffat on 17 April, 1682: ‘[Gordon of] Barharu has asseurances of his peace from the Counsell. [Gordon of] Bar has given me a declaration under his hand, as full as I could desyr it. I have spok with a brother of Sir Robert Maxwells, who was out, and [Patrick Heron of] Litle Park and [Anthony McKie of] Glenkaird, at terms with me, and severall others of less not[e].’ (Letter of Claverhouse to Queensberry, 17 April, 1682., SHS, Miscellany XI, 181-2.)
If he ever hid at the White Cairn, then he probably sheltered there after the battle of Bothwell Bridge until early 1682. McKie was not a militant presbyterian. He took the Test aoth after he came in from the cold and at his trial in December, 1682, he was willing to take the test oath for a second time to prove his loyalty:
‘Anthony M’Kie, of Clonard, confesses he rose and joyned in armes with the rebells the tyme libelled, and marched alongst with them from Moniegaff to Hamiltoun muire, and continued with them in armes till their defate at Bothwelbridge, and begs the Lords to interceed for his pardon; declares he has taken the test [oath], and is willing to take it againe if the lords please. Sic Subscribitur, ANT. M’KIE.’ (CST, XI, 938-9.)
The assize found him guilty and he was sentenced to be hanged at Edinburgh on the first Wednesday of July, 1683. The long time span between his trial and execution date indicates that time was allowed for the sentence to he commuted. McKie was not executed and released.
Some fragments from his old house at Glencaird can be found here.
In 1690, his forfeiture under the name of ‘Anthony Mackie of Cloncaird’ was reversed by the Scottish Parliament. (RPS, 1690/4/80.)
For other Covenanters in Minnigaff parish, see here.
Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.