James Renwick’s Preaching at Black Loch and Pursuit in Cambusnethan Parish

On 17 June, 1684, John Erskine of Carnock recorded the impact of the Black Loch preaching:

‘There was much rain, thunder, and lightening. There was now a great noise of a field preaching which was at the Black loch in [New Monkland] parish. Mr. Rannie, a young man lately come from the colledge [at Groningen], and it seems more forward than wise, being the preacher, there was about 70 in arms.’ (Erskine, Journal, 65.)

Black LochBlack Loch © Robert Murray and licensed for reuse.

The Black Loch field preaching was held on the morning of Sunday 8 June near to Whin Bog which lies to the south of the loch. The site of the preaching lay close to where the shires of Lanark, Stirling and Linlithgow meet. It took place after Renwick had preached at Wolf Craigs on 1 June.

Map of Whin Bog at Black Loch (change to OS view)

Aerial View of Whin Bog at Black Loch

John Graham of Claverhouse, who initially did not take part in the pursuit of the Black Loch Covenanters, was at Paisley when he received word of the preaching several days later:

‘However, to follow that thread of that affair, there was a Conventicle at Blackloch, on Sunday was eight-days [i.e., on 8 June]. It seems the General [Thomas Dalyell] got notice of it that day [from Telfer], about twelve o’clock, and sent out a party of foot and dragoons [under Lieutenant-Colonel John Winram], who, being led straight to the place, missed the rebels, who were marching some way on the right hand toward Clyde; and when they got notice and made after them it was too late.’ (Letter of Claverhouse to Arthur Rose, Archbishop of Glasgow, Monday 16 June, 1684)

Lieutenant-Colonel John Winram of His Majesty’s Regiment of Foot Guards was based in Glasgow.

James Renwick also recorded the preaching is a letter to Robert Hamilton in Leeuwarden of 9 July 1684.

‘For, upon the Sabbath [8 June]…we met for public worship, near the Whin-bog in [New] Monkland; but that country having generally apostatised into an open hostility against the Lord, some went quickly away to Glasgow, and gave notice unto the enemy’s forces. Howbeit we heard thereof ere forenoon’s sermon was ended, yet continued until that part of the work was gone about.’ (Carslaw (ed,), Letters, 94.)

According to the diary of Colin Alison, the Black Loch preaching obtained intelligence that one named Telfer, who presumably lived locally, had gone to Glasgow with to alert the authorities. After they dismissed, about 30 to 40 armed Society people from the preaching ‘keept together upon the moors till we were near the river of Clyd[e]’.

The reports sent to the privy council later estimated the Covenanters’ force to be eighty to one hundred armed men accompanied by twenty women. (Wodrow, History, IV, 23, 29.)

According to Renwick, the armed Covenanters left for the purpose of drawing off the Winram’s men:

‘Thereafter, we thought it fit to depart from that place, and also that the armed men should keep together for our better defence and safety; which (through God’s goodness) was a means to keep the enemy from noticing and pursuing after stragglers, they being stricken into some quandary and terror, and [the enemy] keeping both their horse and foot in one body.’ (Carslaw (ed,), Letters, 94.)

From Black Loch the party of armed Society people headed south across the parishes of New Monkland and Shotts. (Wodrow, History, IV, 29.)

On the northern boundary of Shotts parish they traversed land that belonged to the laird of Dundas near Harthill. (Wodrow, History, IV, 46.)

They also passed through the lands of Rosehall and Hawkwoodburn on the southern boundary of the parish. Both proprietors were later summoned by the privy council for failing to inform the authorities.

HawkwoodburnHawkwoodburn © Richard Webb and licensed for reuse.

James Walker of Hacketburn, aka. Hackwood-burn or Hawkwoodburn, was later summoned by the council. (Wodrow, History, IV, 29, 46, 47.)

A ‘James Walker, younger of Hacketburn’, had previously been tried for alleged involvement in the Bothwell Rising of 1679. (CST, XI, 247.)

Hawkwoodburn is now a sewage works outside Shotts.

Map of Hawkwoodburn (change to OS view)      Aerial View of Hawkwoodburn

South CalderThe South Calder Water

James Walker in Rosehall, the duke of Hamilton’s factor, was also questioned by the privy council. Rosehall (aka. Rosehaugh) lies to the west of Hawkwood. (Wodrow, History, IV, 23.)

Map of Rosehall (change to OS view)        Street View of Rosehall

After fording the South Calder Water, probably at the ford between Rosehall and Hawkwoodburn, the Black Loch Covenanters crossed into Cambusnethan parish and the lands of Stane and Redmire. The council also later sent for Gavin Lawrie in Redmire and David Russell, Archibald Prentice and John Cleland, all tenants or portioners in Stane. (Wodrow, History, IV, 23, 29, 46.)

Map of Stane

Lawrie in Remire was in particular trouble because the ‘rebels in a body, drank at his house’. (Wodrow, History, IV, 28.)

West Redmire now lies in the middle of Allanton. East Redmire lies on the eastern edge of the village.

Map of West and East Redmire (change to OS view)     Street View of East Redmire
Allanton HouseThe later Allanton House

The Black Loch Covenanters then proceeded by Allanton Tower, later known as Allanton House, which has been demolished.

William Stewart of Allanton apparently saw the Covenanters from a window of his house. He was briefly imprisoned and fined for failing to act. (Wodrow, History, IV, 29, 45-6.)

Map of former site of Allanton Tower (change to OS view)   Aerial view of Allanton Tower

From there, the Covenanters probably crossed the Auchter Water near Bonkle and continued to Cambusnethan Kirk.

Street View of the Auchter Water at Bonkle

At some point on the road to Cambusnethan kirk they met James Stewart of Hartwood, the brother of Allanton. He, too, was later imprisoned and fined for failing to act. (Wodrow, History, IV, 23, 29, 45-6.)

Hartwood may be the ‘malignant gentleman’ whom Renwick claimed misdirected Winram’s force:

‘Yet they [Winram’s men] lodged all that night (we not knowing of it) within a mile of some, and two miles of others of us, intending to set forward toward the houses where we were. But the Lord, whose ways are wonderful, made use of a malignant gentleman to detain them, he asserting that none of us went toward that kirk [at Cambusnethan?].’ (Carslaw (ed,), Letters, 94-5.)

The council also sent for William Vilant, the indulged minister at Cambusnethan. Vilant was opposed to Renwick and the Society people, and had written against them in 1681. However, he did not inform the authorities or alert the soldiers that the Black Loch Covenanters had come to his kirk or passed by his house in rank and file on that Sabbath day. His indulgence was terminated for his failure to act. (Wodrow, History, IV. 29, 46-7.)

Map of Cambusnethan Kirk (change to OS view)       Aerial View of Cambusnethan Kirk

Vilant’s manse overlooked the Clyde valley. It is depicted on General Roy’s map and lay at what is now the end of Old Manse Road in Netherton.

Map of Vilant’s Manse

Street View of Vilant’s Manse


The Covenanters crossed the river Clyde at Carbarns Ford. Today, the ford has probably disappeared, as the river has altered course removing the island opposite Carbarns. Their line of march near Vilant’s manse suggests that it was probably near Lower Carbarns, rather than at the existing ford below Cambusnethan House. Across the ford lies Dalserf parish.

Aerial View of the ford on the Clyde

On Sunday evening, the Society people separated. Alison with some others turned west ‘above Hamilton’, while the rest probably headed south into the hills above Strathaven where a proportion almost certainly attended the Societies’ fourteenth convention.

According to Claverhouse: ‘The foot wearied, and the rebels were got over Clyde, and no further intelligence could be found of them. So they returned to Glasgow.’ (Letter of Claverhouse to Arthur Rose, Archbishop of Glasgow, Monday 16 June, 1684)

Winram’s foot guards and dragoons had failed to locate the Covenanters. They returned to Glasgow on Monday 9 June. On their return, General Thomas Dalyell sent orders to Lord Ross to continue the search for Renwick and Society people. It was at that point, that John Graham of Claverhouse assumed command of the operation.

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

~ by drmarkjardine on July 11, 2013.

13 Responses to “James Renwick’s Preaching at Black Loch and Pursuit in Cambusnethan Parish”

  1. […] The Covenanters that Claverhouse intended to pursue had escaped the pursuit of Lieutenant-Colonel John Winram in Cambusnethan parish. […]

  2. […] Black Loch Covenanters had already escaped from Winram’s men and eluded Claverhouse’s search. Buchan probably did not expect that he would find any trace of […]

  3. […] From Google Blog Search- Black Preachers Sermons […]

  4. […] the space of a few days Renwick had preached near Black Loch, narrowly eluded both the soldiers of Winram in Cambusnethan parish and those of Claverhouse in the hills above Strathaven. He had also taken part in the ambuscade at […]

  5. […] James Renwick’s Preaching at Black Loch and Pursuit in Cambusnethan Parish (drmarkjardine.wordpress.com) […]

  6. […] Winram then pursued Renwick and the Society people through Cambusnethan parish. […]

  7. […] his pursuit of James Renwick and the Society people from the Black Loch field preaching, Lieutenant-Colonel John Winram lost their trail at Carbarns Ford on the River Clyde in […]

  8. […] sought shelter. Similar large bodies of Society people had appeared in the fields after the Black Loch preaching, the conventions near Auchengilloch and Glengaber, and to storm Kirkcudbright tolbooth in 1684, but […]

  9. […] in Lanarkshire. James Renwick later preached further west on the march boundary at Brounrigg and to the northwest at Blackloch. The Peden Stone at Benhar lies further south on the same boundary and beyond it are the sites of […]

  10. […] Sunday 8 June, James Renwick field preached to a large body of Covenanters near Drumlach by the Black Loch. They them rode south via lands of Stane and Redmyre, where they […]

  11. […] that Renwick’s preaching at Whinn Bog by Black Loch in New Monklands parish, Lanarkshire, was almost certainly held on 8 June 1684, it is a reasonable assumption that the […]

  12. […] ‘near Paisley’ was captured on 29 July. The preaching near Greenock took place after his preaching at Black Loch on 8 June. That suggests that Renwick preached while the ship which was banishing Society people to […]

  13. […] From the records, it appears that the authorities did not find out about the preaching until a few weeks later. At that point, they appear to have confused separate intelligence reports from Edinburghshire and Peebleshire about a field preaching to create two preachings in almost exactly the same location a week apart. The simplest explanation for the confusion is that the intelligence reports from Peebleshire misdated the preaching by a week to create a second preaching on 8 June. The preacher was almost certainly James Renwick, who was the only active field preacher in 1684. We know that Renwick preached at Black Loch in Lanarkshire on 8 June. […]

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