A Short Narrative of James Howie in Lochgoin’s Sufferings in the Late Persecution

Interesting details about the Howies of Lochgoin are found in ‘A Short Narrative of James Howie’s Sufferings in the late Persecution’ in Memoirs of the Life of John Howie, who lived at Lochgoin, Parish of Fenwick, and Died January 5th 1793 (1796). The Short Narrative also contains a second, providential version of the raid on Lochgoin…

Rowallan CastleRowallan Castle

James Howie, great grandfather to John Howie, the author of the foregoing Memoirs, was born in the parish of Mairns [i.e., Mearns parish], in the shire of Renfrew, and was married to Isabel Howie [(d.1704?)], oldest daughter of John Howie in Lochgoin. He came to Lochgoin, and lived along with his father-in-law till he died. In the year 1666, his hardships began; for that winter was called Pentland hills winter, because these persons who had been at the battle of Pentland-hills had to flee into corners and muir places, of which Lochgoin was one; and in these concealed places they spent their time in prayer and religious conference in a social way; and it will be worth the reader’s consideration to observe the following things:

[The Dream of John Howie]
One night, during the persecution, a number of these poor people, harassed by the severity of the times and the cold, sheltered in Lochgoin; and the old man, John, on account of his frailty, being troubled with a cough and asthma, went to his bed for some rest, and, in his sleep, dreamed, that he was at Kilmarnock Cross, and General [Thomas] Dalziel gave orders to a party of his men, to go to Lochgoin, a muir place, and search for these persons who had been at Pentland [in 1666]; and they came to him (as he thought) and compelled him to go along with them for a guide; and when they had passed the way for about two miles, one of the soldiers maltreated him badly, as he thought, for which he awoke, and thereon thought a little, and then fell asleep again, and then met with his old companions, and came along with them, till they had to cross a water, and, as he then thought one of them took him by the shoulders, and put him into the water up to the knees, and so he awoke, thought a little thereon, and fell asleep a third time, and fell in and came along with them, till he came to his own hill-foot, where they again maltreated him, and he awoke, and in haste cried to them to look out, for he had a strange dream; and, as they went to a little height at the house-end, being the grey morning, they observed the guns, and the points of their bayonets on their shoulders within forty falls of the house, which caused them to disperse in great haste, to a low lying ground and a moss, which led into a brook that took them out of sight. The old man got up, and took his cloak about him, went out to the house-end, where the first of the party met him, and cried, By God, what was this here? To which the old man replied, A poor breathless man come out to get the air, who cannot get rest in the house by reason of the smoke and his cough; and the cold, obliged him to keep on a fire. And, by this miraculous dream, gave warning to his friends, and his intercourse with the soldiers, they made their escape, and the enemy, at this time, never discerned the true cause of the house being full of smoke at that time in the morning, because they thought he had been up all night; and after they had taken what meat answered them, they went back to Kilmarnock.

[The Raid on Lochgoin c.1684]
Again to observe, Capt. John Paton [of Meadowhead], John Kirkland, George Woodburn, and other two, with James Howie, watched all night, and spent the night in prayer and religious conversation, and, by turns, looked out when the morning drew on. The night being very stormy, made them the more secure. But the enemy was like their master, Satan, knew that, and at these times got out, being never at rest; and, ere ever they were aware, one sergeant [Thomas] Rae [of Mar’s Regiment of Foot] came to the door, having left the rest for security, and came boldly in on them, while Isabel Howie interposed between him and the men, hurried him backwards out at the door again, and, by the scuffle, he fell to the ground, and the gun fell out of his hand. He again got up, came about the west end of the house, while the fore-mentioned persons passed out at the byre-door; and, when he saw that, he discharged his gun at them, while John Kirkland returned his fire again, and took the knot of hair from the side of his head, and so they passed on, and he at a distance from them, till his men came up; and so they pursued; and a Highland sergeant coming up very near to them, thinking to take them, John Kirkland turned back, till the captain got forwards, who was old and breathless, and could not run so fast as the rest; then they discharged their guns, and John shot the Highlander through the thigh, and so he lay till the rest came up to him. They halted, and when the foremost came up, cried to them, was that one of the dogs they had gotten; but they told him, it was his Highland sergeant; then he said, he wished it had been through his heart. By this time the other party had gotten ground of them, and coming to a falling ground, got out of their sight, and when they had run about four or five miles, before they got altogether free of them; and James Howie, with his son John, made their escape out at the other byre-door, and took another way. It is here to be observed, that Isabel Howie, after this, had always to flee, and lay many a cold night in a moss hag for her shelter, with a young child at her breast, and sometimes to a neighbour house, till their fury was a little abated.

[A similar account of the raid on Lochgoin appeared in Scots Worthies.]

On the morrow they [i.e., the soldiers] came back to Lochgoin, and carried all the cattle, young and old, with them, to Kilmarnock, but the young calves, they could not get them, because the cows run after them, and would not go off the field. At this time the neighbours brought milk to the calves, till their mothers came home. They shut up the whole of the cattle, great and small, in a close at the old castle of Dean, where they continued for eight days and Sir William Muir of Rowaland [i.e., Mure of Rowallan, who was sympathetic to the Presbyterian cause] sent a few cartful of straw, to keep in life, and at last bought the whole of them from major captain [John] Inglis, for six hundred merks, and turned them back to the ground, in a way that they then called steel-bow, and in all their after plunderings they had still to let the cattle alone. And it was observable, with the sore usage, and the great pushing the small cattle received from the strong, and the hunger they sustained, there were little dun but blood intermixed, and yet before the end of the year none of the milk-cows were barren, and before the Revolution, James Howie had them all relieved in a private way, and Rowaland paid.

[Alleged Bible Burning at Lochgoin]
At another time, the enemy came to the house about the month of November, staid all night, put up large fires through the house and byre, and took their whole winter’s beef, and boiled and eat it, and carried the rest of it with them; and, in their fury, when raging through the house, got a new Bible, some of them said it was a Whig book, threw it into the fire, and burnt it! Two young boys were thrust in a corner, and some of them, when eating, said, give them a piece, but others said, devil a bit, and so they got nought. But there is not room enough here to rehearse all the hardships, and the way of their escaping, that passed over them, and some of them very strange. I shall only mention one.

Loch Burn LochgoinLoch Burn to the east of Lochgoin © Iain Thompson and licensed for reuse.

[James and John Howie Run for their Lives c.1685.]
One morning, before the sun, the young man, John [Howie], was raised by his mother, and charged to run out of the house, and before he was ten falls [or 60 ells, c.56.5 metres] from the door, a number of guns were discharged at him for his good-morning, and after these a great number more; but, being speedy of foot, soon got from them, and, or ever he was aware, was hard on his father, James, who could not run so fast: then he turned another way, and got into a hollow place, and that place had a recess, where the water runs below ground, and, being a dry time, got in there, where otters staid sometimes, and drew a turf into the hole after him, and so lay. They came to the place, and he heard them swearing one part of them saying he would be there, and another that he was not as a wild beast got below ground.

Green Hill LochgoinGreen Hill and Lochgoin in background © Steve woodward and licensed for reuse.

But another party got a view of his father, and went after him, but a little a height interposed between them and him, and they lost sight of him, but got sight of a herd keeping sheep, got after him, and at the last catched him, and examined him upon oath, (for by this time each man of them might impose and take an oath, according to their wicked law,) the words were, “Did you see a black dog with white hose and shoes on his feet pass you?” a strange expression! His answer was, “I did not see a black dog with white hose and shoes on his feet,” and yet, at the same time, with his eyes, saw James Howie; for, by this time, he had thrown off his coat, which was black, and his hose and shoes, and was running bare-footed, and had on him a brown waistcoat, and was within a quarter of a mile of them, but their eyes were hid from him, that they did not see him, but got a sight of another muir herd, and after him they went; but he was swift of foot, and after they had toiled themselves several miles, lost sight of him, and James fairly escaped. But, in the end, came back to the house, took all that answered them before they went away. They robbed the house of all they pleased when they came, for the matter of twelve times before the Revolution.

[Society people at Lochgoin]
That worthy minister and martyr, Mr. James Renwick, came one time to Lochgoin, when under his hidings [between 1684 and 1687], with his shoes almost gone off his feet, by his sore toil in his wanderings: and, before he went away, James got a new pair for him to keep his feet dry.

Mr. [Alexander] Shields, and [Daniel Ker] the laird of Kersland, with [John Balfour] the laird of Kinloch, frequented the house;

[Since Alexander Shields had been in London or imprisoned before escaped from the Bass in late 1686, it is likely that Shields was there between 1687 and 1688.

Kersland, too, had been abroad since 1679 and only returned during the Argyll Rising in mid 1685. John Howie appears to have joined the Society people under the command of Kersland who were quartered in Glasgow in February 1689. According to the Short Narrative, James Howie ‘would not let his son go with Kersland, who offered to make him a captain [in Lord Angus’ Regiment?], but caused him to come home after he was at Glasgow.’ John Howie may, or may not, be the ‘John Huie’ who held the commission rank of an ensign at the initial muster of the Lord Angus’ Regiment, aka. the Cameronian Regiment, in April, 1689.

If the reference to John Balfour of Kinloch, the assassin of Archbishop Sharp, is true, then it may hint that Balfour returned to Scotland from exile in the late 1680s to contact the Societies at some point before the Revolution in 1688. It is notable that the text implies that he was ‘with’ Kersland and perhaps Shields. Balfour is said to have drowned at sea during William of Orange’s invasion of Scotland.

A Brief “History” of James Howie]
‘He [James Howie] was one who refused to pay the black cess, or ten-terms-cess, imposed for the bearing down the gospel in the fields; and also he, with his son John, were put into the fugitive roll [in 1684], because he would not attend at the church of Fenwick, and hear the curates therein. After the faithful Mr. [William] Guthrie was put out [in 1664], (which were three [“curates”],) the last of which was one Mun [Main?], [According to the Fasti, five ministers followed Guthrie – James Ogilvie (1666–1671), Thomas Wylie (indulged 1672–1676)), John Wilson (1677–1680), John Main (1680–1684) and Andrew Crawford (c.1685–1689) – before the first post-Revolution minister, Andrew Faulls, probably Foulis, (1691–1699). (Fasti, III, 94-5.]

[As a result] there were always some of the poor sufferers lurking with him [i.e., James Howie]; and yet for all the disadvantages he was brought to labour under these many years, the Lord, in rich mercy, and good providence, brought him through. He lived till after the Revolution. [James Howie died in November, 1691.]

He never fell in with the Revolution church, because they were not established according to the pattern shown in the mount of our worthy Reformation, between the years 1638 and 1649, but went back to the year 1592, which was more restricted to an Erastian footing.

2. There were many who were guilty of all the sinful oaths and tests, in the time of persecution, admitted into the bosom of the church, without a due acknowledgement of their sins.

3. They received curates into ministerial communion, without the least shadow of repentance. And,

4. They received into the church, ministers and elders who were guilty of these oaths, but also of the Lord’s people’s blood shed for the interest of Christ, in adherence to the work of Reformation and covenants, and other grievances that he testifies against in his latter will, with a number of weighty things too large to mention here.

[The above is based on James Howie’s dying testimony, which can be found here.]

Mr. [Andrew] Foulis, the first minister in Fenwick [after the Revolution], in visitation [before Howie’s death in November, 1691], came to see him, and had a very long conversation; he told the minister, that he could not own him as his minister. The minister asked at him, if he looked not on it as his duty to pray for the gospel? He said, I look upon it as a duty to pray for the interest of the gospel of Christ. But, said he to the minister, what is the reason, or how comes it, that ye own not the covenants? Mr. Foulis answered, we own them as well as you. He replied, if ye own them, how comes it, that ye have left both legs, limbs, and hoofs behind you? you know the son of Jonadab, the son of Rechab, Jer. 35, would obey, not break the commandments of their father, therefore the Lord commended them; and shall we break the covenant of God and think to prosper?—After much that passed between them, they parted in a friendly way as Christians, and Mr. Foulis had still a more favourable opinion of him, and these five or six that joined with him in society after the Revolution.

—Mr. [Alexander] Shields came to him, but they could not agree; for, at the Revolution [in 1689], he was sore against these who fell in with Angus regiment, or Cameronians, and would not let his son go with [Daniel Ker of] Kersland, who offered to make him a captain, but caused him to come home after he was at Glasgow [in February or March, 1689?].

Sometime before his death, he had a mind to leave a testimony behind him, in adherence to the work of Reformation, and sent for one Mr. Mejor, schoolmaster in Eaglesham, who wrote, at his desire, what is related in the short testimony, in agreeableness to these in the Cloud of Witnesses. Many of them were acquainted with him in life, and subscribed it before his two sons, John and Robert Howie, as witnesses.

[Curiously, Robert Howie does not feature in the descriptions of the events at Lochgoin. His brother John Howie (b.c.1665) is frequently mentioned. The fact that their father, James, was from Mearns parish and that Captain Paton hid in the house of a Robert Howie in Floak in the same parish, may hint that the Howies of Lochgoin and those in Floak were related. The farm at Floak lies about three-and-a-half miles to the north-west of Lochgoin and just across the shire march with Renfrewshire.

Map of Floak                Street View of Floak

It is possible that the Howie family were part of the local network which sheltered and supported John Paton of Meadowhead in hiding.

The Death and Burial of James Howie]
A few days before his death he [James Howie] fell into darkness, and doubted of his interest in Christ, and told his sons, if he died in this way, and got no relief, they were to destroy his latter will; but, if he got any relief and clearness before death, they were to let it alone.—But it pleased the Lord to grant him his presence before his exit; for he was so far strengthened, three times, to pour out his heart’s desire to his God in Christ, with his wife and children present, on a couch a little from the fireside, and at the end of the first he was made to cry out, HE IS COME, meaning his comfortable presence; and, at the close of the second, cried to the same purpose, being only about half an hour before death, and was strengthened to do it with the greatest fervency. And, At the last, he removed, singing praise to the Lamb, that ever he came to save poor sinners, of whom he was the chief. He died on November 19th, 1691, and was interred in the churchyard of Fenwick on the 21st, and since which time a large grave-stone was erected to his memory, with the following verse;

The dust here lies under this stone,
Of James Howie, and his son John;
These two both lived in Lochgoin,
And by Death’s pow’r were call’d to join
This place. The first, November twenty-one,
Years sixteen hundred ninety one.
The second, aged ninety years,
The first of July was brought here,
Years seventeen hundred and fifty-five,
For owning truth made fugitives.
Their house twelve times, and cattle all,
Once robb’d, and family brought to thrall.
All these, before the Revolution,
Out-liv’d Zion’s friends ‘gainst opposition.

And he said unto me, these are they which came out of great tribulation, Rev. 7.14.

Another verse:

The voice said cry, what shall I cry,
All flesh is grass, and so must lie,
As flow’r in field withereth away,
So the goodliness of man decay, Isa. 40.6,7.’

[The Short Narrative provided nearly all the material in Simpson’s chapter on Lochgoin in Traditions of the Covenanters.]

Additional Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.

Advertisements

~ by drmarkjardine on September 9, 2013.

One Response to “A Short Narrative of James Howie in Lochgoin’s Sufferings in the Late Persecution”

  1. […] about whom many traditions are preserved. Also resident at Lochgoin was Isobel Howie, who after a raid on Lochgoin went into […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s