Twilight of the Idols: The Execution of Edward Marshall in Edinburgh in 1685

Condemned Covenanters West Bow Edinburgh

One of the last militant Society people executed in Edinburgh was Edward Marshall, the heritor of Kaemuir in Muiravonside parish in East Stirlingshire.

Today, Kaemuir farm lies in Falkirkshire.

Map of Kaemuir          Street View of Entry to Kaemuir Farm

Aerial View of Kaemuir

Marshall took part in the Bothwell Rising of 1679. He was almost certainly one of the East Stirlingshire men who deposed their moderate presbyterian captain and elected another more to their liking during the rising. After the presbyterians’ defeat at the battle of Bothwell Bridge, Marshall did not take the bond of peace.

His name first appears on a list of heritors in Stirlingshire, Linlithgowshire and Ayrshire who had taken part in the rising, that was submitted in November, 1681. He and several others who were listed were forfeited in absentia on 9 January, 1682. (Wodrow, History, III, 407-8.)

He remained at large after his forfeiture and his name appears on the published Fugitive Roll pf May, 1684, as Edward Marshall, of Kae-moor’. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 192.)

The Capture of Marshall
Marshal was captured at some point before 19 November, 1685, as on that date he was imprisoned in Falkirk when the privy council order that he be brought to Edinburgh.

Where Marshall was captured in not clear, but like many other fugitives, it was probably near his home. Marshall had a wife and seven children. His capture may be indirectly linked to the earlier capture of Peter Gillies. Kaemuir lay beside the Mill of Woodside where Gillies was discovered in hiding by Highlanders in late April, 1685. Gillies was taken to Mauchline, where he was executed  on 6 May.

On 26 November, the council ordered the justices to meet to fix a date for the execution of both Marshall and John Welsh of Cornlee, another forfeited fugitive from Bothwell who had been in prison in Edinburgh since 19 September. As forfeited prisoners, both were already sentenced to death.

The justices met on 30 November and declared when their executions would take place:

‘John Welsh of Cornley, who was forfeited July 6th, 1680, and Edward Marshall heritor of Keymuir, forfeited January 17th, 1682, for treasonable crimes mentioned in the verdict of the assize, and decerned to be executed to death, demeaned as traitors, and underly the pains of treason when apprehended; and now being apprehended, the lords appoint them to be taken to the Grass-market on Friday, December 4th, betwixt two and four in the afternoon, and there to be hanged, till dead.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 235.)

Cornlee agreed to take oaths and saved his life. He later protested against James Renwick preaching in Irongray parish.

Marshall, a convinced supporter of Renwick’s hardline platform, probably refused any offer to take oaths. Before his execution, he composed a short martyrs’ testimony. It begins with what appears to be a veiled attack on his fellow presbyterians who had supported the Argyll Rising in mid 1685. At the time that Marshall composed his testimony, the Societies were involved in internal strife over the issue of reunion with Argyll’s former supporters who had not backed a convenanted settlement during the rising.

‘The Last Testimony of Edward Marshall, of Kaemure, in the parish of Morren Side [i.e., Muiravon-side], who suffered at the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, December 4th, 1685.

First, I leave my testimony against all that have joined with the malignant party, either in rising in arms, or in paying of cess, or any manner of way contrary to our Covenants and Work of Reformation, once famous and maintained by the whole ministry, noblemen, gentlemen, and commons of all sorts, but now opposed and borne down by the generality of this kingdom; and particularly against such persons as once owned the Covenant, and avowed the cause of Christ, and are now employing their strength for overturning the same, as it is in Ps[alms]. Ixxiv. 6. [‘But now they break down the carved work thereof at once with axes and hammers.’]

Now, the things upon which I was accused and sentenced were: My joining in arms with that party at Bothwell, and owning of the truth and Covenants, and for adhering thereunto; for they questioned me, if I would call it rebellion? But I would not, but accounted it my duty.

Then they asked me if I would own James VII. as king of Britain? And I told them, I owned him as far as he owned God, His cause, and people.

Then some of them said, That was not all.

Then they asked, If I would pray for the king of Britain? I answered, This is not a place appointed for prayer.

Then they laughed, and said, Remove you.

Now, dear friends, be not discouraged, although they threaten you with imprisonment or death for the cause of Christ; for He that calls you to suffering is able to support and bear you up under it; for I found more of His presence since I came to prison, than I did heretofore: for Christ suffered imprisonment and death for us, and ought not we to suffer for Him? As concerning this, that my enemies and carnal friends reproach me with self-murder, I am conscious to myself, that it is not so, but out of love to Christ and His covenanted work.

Now I recommend my wife and seven children to the good guiding of my God, who hath hitherto protected me; for He has promised to be a husband to the widow, and a father to the fatherless, providing they will walk in His ways, and keep His commandments. Now, I recommend my soul to God, who hath preserved me hitherto, and who unexpectedly has singled me out to suffer for Him, who am the unworthiest of all sinners, and I never thought that He should have so highly privileged me, as to account me worthy to give a testimony for Him, though sometimes it entered into my thoughts, O if I would be called to it!

Now, farewell dear wife and sweet children. Farewell all friends and relations, especially such of you as have given up your names to Christ. Farewell sun, moon, and all worldly enjoyments. Welcome Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, into whose hands I commit my spirit.
Sic subscribitur,
Edward Marshall.’ (Thomson (ed.), CW, 447-8.)

He was hanged alongside John Nisbet of Hardhill in the afternoon of 4 December in the Grassmarket in Edinburgh.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to or retweet this post, but do not reblog without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

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~ by drmarkjardine on November 6, 2013.

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