Proclamation against the Fanatical and Bloody Plot of 1680
At the end of 1680, the privy council reacted to Donald Cargill’s campaign in the summer of 1680 with a proclamation of 22 November to be read out at Edinburgh’s mercat cross and other places.
The council explained their reasoning in a letter to Charles II on the same day.
Letter of the Privy Council to King Charles II, anent Mr Donald Cargill, Nov. 22. 1680.
‘May it please your sacred Majesty,
We being informed that Mr. Donald Cargil had, to the great Astonishment of all honest Men, proceeded to the Excommunication of your sacred Majesty, your Royal Brother, and some of your Servants, and that he had continued to preach that horrid Principle, of the Lawfulness of assassinating those that differed from them in their Covenant and Principles, did, after some Pains, and Search, get James Skene, Archibald Stuart [in Bo’ness], Robert Hamilton [in Broxburn], John Potter, and John Spreul brought in as Prisoners to us, and at our Bar Skene, Stuart and Potter owned the new Covenant and Declaration at Sanquhar, in which your Majesty is declared a Tyrant, and your People declared free from their Allegiance to you, and wherein it is declared a Duty upon all good Christians to dethrone and murder you, and such as serve under you: But because Stuart, Spreul and Hamilton refused to satisfy this your Judicature in discovering their Designs and Accomplices in Crimes of so high Importance, and which tended so much to the future Security of your sacred Person, your Royal Government, and the Preservation of your People, we did subject them to the Torture, as is usual to do herein the like Case, having first, in full Council, found, by their own Confessions, and by sufficient Proofs and Presumptions, that they were able to clear us in these weighty Questions that were to be put to them, and which Questions were, after serious Debate and Consideration, agreed to in full Council: And tho’ some of them did most disingenuously conceal what was in their Power to have discovered, their Ministers having, for their own Security, taught them, that they would be damned if they discovered what concerned their Neighbours; yet Archibald Stuart, one of their Number, did freely discover their Design of killing all that were opposite to them, particularly the Judges and Bishops, and condescended upon some particular Ministers and others. And we do very clearly find from their voluntary Confessions, and the Papers that we have intercepted, that those of their Principle would think it a great Duty to kill your Majesty, or any serving under you, and that they are but too much favoured by those in your other Kingdoms, who are Enemies to your sacred Person and Government, and to the just and lawful Descent of your Royal Family. And, from the whole Tract of this Affair, your Majesty may easily judge how just ‘and necessary it was for us to endeavour to hinder the Growth of those fanatical Principles, which, tho’ they seem at first to be the Sentiments of tender Consciences, yet are, in effect, but disguised Humour and Faction, tending necessarily to the Destruction of all human Society, as well as established Government. We have, for the Satisfaction of your Majesty’s Subjects, emitted the Proclamation herewith sent, and what further Discoveries we can make, shall be transmitted to your Majesty, with all Care and Faithfulness, by Your Majesty’s most faithful, most humble, and most obedient Subjects and Servants:
Subscribed ut sederunt, except his Royal Highness’
The proclamation raised the reward for Cargill from 3.000 to 5,000 merks and outlined the council’s fear of a ‘horrid conspiracy’ to murder the King, his brother James, duke of York, and others, based on evidence they had obtained through torture.
Proclamation, November 22. 1680.
‘Charles, by the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith: To ————– Our Lyon King at Arms, his Brethren, Heralds, Macers of Our Privy Council, Pursevants, or Messengers at Arms, Our Sheriffs in that Part, conjunctly and severally, specially constitute, Greeting. Forasmuch as, since the extraordinary Mercy of God in Our wonderful Restauration [in 1660], We have taken all Care to preserve Our Subjects in Peace, and the Protestant Religion in its Purity, by such wholsom Laws, as at the Desire, and with the Consent of Our Parliaments have been enacted; yet such hath been the impious and unwearied Attempts of a schismatical and ungovernable Party of Our undutiful Subjects, to disturb the former, and to overturn the latter, that they have often engaged themselves in open Insurrections, and avowed Rebellions, against Us and Our Authority, pretending to found these their Rebellions upon their treasonable Covenants; and particularly, after the horrid and cruel Murder of the late Archbishop of St. Andrews, a violent and execrable Rebellion was commenced in the Year 1679. which was declared, by them who raised it, to be undertaken and carried on, for promoting the Ends of their seditious Covenants. After the suppressing of the which Rebellion, by the Blessing of God upon Our Arms, such was Our princely Clemency, as by solemn Acts of Grace, not only to pardon and indemnify the guilty, but even to indulge them to keep House-conventicles, upon the easy Terms and Conditions contained in Our Royal Proclamation, of the Date, at Whitehall the 29 of june 1679. whereby We might reasonably have expected, that their Minds being eased, they might have been brought, if not to a regular and dutiful Obedience to Our Laws, yet to a quiet and peaceable Submission to Our Government: Notwithstanding whereof, and of Our gracious Indemnities, Favours and Indulgences, which have been as oft renewed, as their Insolencies, Murders and Treasons have been repeated, such hath been the Perverseness of some turbulent and fanatical Persons, that many of them continue and persist, according to their old dangerous Principles, not only to frequent seditious Field-conventicles, which, as Our Laws have declared, so in Experience have they been found to be the Rendevouzes of Rebellion, (their Insurrections against Us and Our Authority in the Years 1666 and 1679. having been Nothing else but so many running and continued Field-conventicles ) but also having, together with the Fear of God, shaken off the Sense of their Allegiance unto Us, and the Reverence and Regard they ow to Our Laws and Government, have entred into an execrable Plot and Conspiracy, to murder Our Royal Person, Our dear and only Brother, With Our chief Ministers of State, Our Privy Counselors, and Bishops, and all such as are imployed in any Trust and Authority under Us, to subvert Our Monarchy and Government, to destroy this Protestant Church with its Officers and Ministers, to introduce a new Model of civil and ecclesiastick Government, and to alter and innovate the fundamental Laws of this Our ancient Kingdom, being prepared and instructed to this hellish Conspiracy, by these treasonable Pamphlets, intituled, Nephtali, Jus populi [by James Steuart of Goodtrees], The apologetick Narration [by John Brown, former minister of Wamphray], &c. whereby they have been taught to take up Arms against Us, as being loosed from their Allegiance, and impowered by the mistaken Example of Phinehas, to kill all such as differed from them, and opposed their Covenants, and thereby allowing, not only open Rebellions, but (which is more terrible) even private Murders and Assassinations; and upon which, they have proceeded to wound, rob, and assassinate Our orthodox and Protestant Ministers, merely for preaching Protestant and loyal Doctrine, and in cold Blood (with a Cruelty exceeding that of Heathens ) to murder the late venerable Primate of that Our Kingdom, as also Our Soldiers for levying the Supply granted by Law unto Us; of which hellish Plot and Conspiracy We have sufficient and convincing Evidence, particularly from their prodigious and treasonable Covenant, found with Mr. Donald Cargil (one of their most seditious Preachers) on the Third of June last; wherein they declare Us an Usurper, and the Devil’s Vicegerent, and that the Laws and Acts of Our Parliaments were Invasions and Incroachments upon Jesus Christ, and that they would set up new Rulers, to govern by the judicial Law of Muses, from their treasonable Declaration affixed upon the Market-cross, and other Places of Our Burgh of Sanquhar, on the 22 of June last, wherein they disown Us to be their King, and calling themselves The Representatives of the true Presbyterian and covenanted People of Scotland, declare an open War against Us, and all Our loyal and dutiful Subjects, from a most treasonable Bond and Combination [before Sanquhar]; found among the Papers of that arch Traitor, Mr. Richard Cameron, at his Death, at the Fight at Airs-moss; wherein they declare Us an Usurper, and themselves loosed from their Allegiance unto Us, because We will not promote the Ends of their seditious Covenants; which seditious Bond is signed by Thomas Douglas, pretended Minister of the Gospel, [Michael] Cameron Brother to the said Mr. Richard [Cameron], John Vallange, Daniel Macmitchel, Thomas Campbel, John Moodie, Patrick Gamil, James Stuart, and many others their Accomplices; and by their unexampled and sacrilegious Excommunicating of Us, Our dearest Brother, and Our chief Ministers and Officers, by the said Mr. Donald Cargil, at a numerous Field-conventicle at the Torwood in Stirling-shire, in the Month of October. Which impious Mock-sentence of Excommunication they caused affix upon some publick Places in Our City of Edinburgh, and which is clearly proven by the Depositions of many of their Associates, and the judicial Confessions of some of their Ringleaders, before Our Privy Council, to have been pronounced by the said Cargil, Day and Place aforesaid; and by which Mock-excommunication, and the foresaid Declaration of War at Sanquhar, they endeavour to justify the Lawfulness of killing Us, and Our faithful Ministers and Subjects. The Originals of all which Papers herein mentioned ly in the Hands of the Clerks of Our Privy Council, and Justice-court, to be forthcoming, for the satisfying of all Our good Subjects, concerning the Truth of the Premisses. Moreover, the Truth and Reality of this cruel, bloodly treasonable and horrid Plot and Conspiracy, is further evident, by the Declaration, and free Confession of James Skene Brother to the late Laird of Skene, Archibald Stuart in Borrowstounness, John Potter late Servant to the Lord Cardross, who, openly, and in the Face of Our Privy Council, have avowed and declared their owning of, and Adherence unto the treasonable Covenant foresaid, found with Mr. Donald Cargil, that execrable Declaration at Sanquhar, and Bond of Combination aforesaid, (which Bond of Combination hath been owned by the said John Potter, in presence of Our Privy Council, and his Subscription subjoyned to it) and that treasonable and impious Excommunication at Torwood, and, with bare Faces, assert the Lawfulness of killing Us their Sovereign, Our dear and only Brother, Our Ministers, Bishops and Judges; and that it is their Duty to kill Us and them, according as they shall have Power and Opportunity; and who seemed to have met together, in Our City of Edinburgh, on Thursday the 11 of this instant November, to consult with Mr. Donald Cargil, the best Methods for putting the said abominable and hellish Plot in Execution.
Therefore, and to prevent the imminent Danger, to which Our Royal Person, Our dear and only Brother, Our Government, Ministers, and Laws, the Church and Protestant Religion are exposed, by the bold and incessant Attempts, and the bloody Artifices and Contrivances of these villainous and fanatical Conspirators, do hereby, with Advice of Our Privy Council, declare all these forenamed Conspirators and Plotters, to be open and notorious Traitors, and Rebels against Us and Our Authority, they having been in Arms against Us, for which they were declared Traitors, by Our Proclamation, dated the last of June, 1680, impowering and requiring all Our good Subjects to treat them as such. And We do hereby require and command all Our loving Subjects, as they will be answerable to Us, on their Allegiance, to do their utmost Diligence to discover and search out this fanatical and bloody Plot to the Bottom, and to seize and apprehend these Traitors, Conspirators and Plotters, and all their treacherous Associates and Accomplices, particularly such of them as, are named and mentioned in this, and in Our foresaid Proclamation of the last of June, 16S0. and to imprison them in the next convenient Prison, that they may be brought to condign and exemplary Punishment, according to the Prescript of Our Laws, and the Demerit of their prodigious and unparallelled Treasons. And We further require and command all Our Sheriffs, Stewarts, Bailies of Regalities, and Magistrates of Burghs, and other Ministers of the Law, where the said Traitors and Conspirators use to haunt or resort, to imploy their utmost Power and Vigilance, in their respective Jurisdictions, for searching, seizing and apprehending of them, that they may be presented to Justice: And if, in seizing and apprehending the foresaid Traitors and Conspirators, and their Associates and Accomplices, (they resisting, or refusing to be taken) any of Our said Magistrates, or others Our good Subjects, shall happen to kill or mutilate them, or any of them, We do hereby declare, that they, nor none assisting them, shall ever be called in question, or pursued civilly or criminally therefore, in Time coming; but that these Presents shall be as sufficient for their Exoneration, as if they had Our special Pardon and Remission; and that their doing thereof shall be reputed good and acceptable Service done to Us. And for the better Encouragement of such as shall apprehend and bring in the said Traitors and Conspirators, dead or alive, the Apprehender of Mr. Donald Cargil shall have, as a Reward, the Sum of Five Thousand Merks, and for Mr. Thomas Douglas, the Sum of Three Thousand Merks, and for each one of the rest of the said Conspirators and Plotters, the Sum of one Thousand Merks, instantly paid to them by the Lords Commissioners of Our Treasury. And We ordain these Presents to be printed, and published at the Market-cross of Edinburgh, and pertianent head Burghs of this Our Kingdom: And also We ordain the several Sheriffs, and Stewarts, &c. to cause make Intimation hereof, at the several Parish Kirks of the Kingdom, after divine Worship, that none pretend Ignorance.
Given under Our Signet at Edinburgh, the Twenty second of November, 1680. and of Our Reign the Thirty second Tear.
Per actum Dominorum secreti concilii.
Will. Paterson Cl Secr. Conciliii.
God save the King!’
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