The Wigtown Martyrs in Popery Reviving, 1714
A rare and undervalued account of the drowning of the two female Wigtown Martyrs in 1685, is found in the anonymous pamphlet Popery Reviving, which was published in 1714. The full title of the pamphlet, see above, gives some idea of how the Wigtown case was being used for anti-Jacobite and anti-Catholic purposes in 1714. Nonetheless, the account of the Wigtown case it contains is of value, as it contains different details from other sources:
‘There was in the Shire of Galloway, and Paroch of Kirkinner, in the Farm of Drumjargan, belonging to Colonel [Alexander] Vans of Barnbarrch, a Woman named Margaret Lachlison, Relicit of John Mulligan Carpenter there, who was a Woman of good Competancy of Discretion and Prudence, but excelled (for a Tract of many Years) in a Devout and Religious Life, who could never be prevailed upon to comply with any thing contrary to the Principles of our Reformation, viz: by taking sinful Oaths, which were in that Bounds ordinarily pressed upon Women, as well as Men, or desisting from the Duties of Religion; whether more publick or private, viz. Hearing of Presbyterian Ministers, associating with her Christian Acquaintances, for the Duties of Prayer to God, under the Heat of the Persecution of these Times, or supplying her own Relations and other Christian Acquaintances, then in great Straits, with Necessaries for supporting Nature: For all which Reasons she was carried Prisoner to Wigtoun, (being the Head Burgh of the Shire, by a Party of Dragoons.
At the same time there was a young Woman called Margaret Wilson, Daughter to Gilbert Wilson in Glenvernochan, in the Paroch of Penygham, Tennant to [William Stewart] the Laird of Castle-Steuart [and Elizabeth Gordon, Lady Castle Stewart], who had also refused to comply with the Demands, that were ordinarily required, in order to the Disclaiming and Renouncing all Presbyterian Principles, who having [>p27.] come to Wigtoun, to visit her Friends and Acquaintances, Fellow-Sufferers, then in Prison, she is taken notice of, as homologating the Designs of Rebells, and Phanaticks, as Presbyterians were then generally termed:
She being then about Twenty Years of Age, together with the other forementioned, being about 66, is committed to close Prison, and an Indictment of Rebellious Practices drawn up against them, viz. Of the forementioned Particulars. And as to the Probation to be led against them, there needed none, for they judicially owned their Adherence to our Reformation as Presbyterians, and their refusing to take such Oaths, and complying with such Practices, as they judged sinfull:
Wherefore Assize is called, who brought in their Verdict, that the Particulars were evident; upon which the Sentence of Death was passed against them by Sir Robert Grierson of Lag, and accordingly, some time after, the said Sentence was thus executed.
Two Stups of Timber were fastened upon the Banks of the Water of Blednoch, (to which place the Sea flows always at high Water) and the Prisoners are brought under the Guard of a Troop of Dragoons, commanded by [Captain] Major [George] Winram, to the Place of Execution, and after being allowed some time to perform their last Duties of Devotion, which they did with so much Christian Calmness, and sweet Submission to the Pleasure of Almighty GOD, and in such a lively Dependence upon Him, for Salvation through Christ; that their Behaviour extorted Tears from some of the Souldiers that guarded them. The manner of their Execution was, Cords were tyed about the foresaid Stups, and their Bodies, and they were thrown over the Brink of the River into the Water and drowned. That is one Thing finally to be taken notice of, that the old Woman was first dispatched, in order to terrifie the young Woman into a Compliance, with such Demands and Oaths as were required of her, but the View of her Fellow-Sufferers Death did not in the least shake her Stedfastness in her Resolution, to adhere to her Principles to the very last: After her being thrown into the Water, a Person deeply affected with such a melancholly Spectacle, pull’d her up, and expressed these Words unto her, Dear Margaret say GOD save the King; to which she Replyed, God save him if it be his Will, for his Salvation is What I desire: Upon wheich the sorrowful Multitude of doolfull Beholders, cried out to Winram the commanding Officer, Sir, she has said it, to which she answered, No, No, No Sinful Oath: upon which she was again thurst down under the Water. Thus dyed two innocent Women by a publick Sentence, whose Lives, no Law (even the severest then standing) could have reached, without a manifest Streach. [>p28.] The Truth of this Fact with Many other aggravating Circumstances than what I have condescended upon, can be proven by an Hundred living Witnesses.’ (Anon. Popery Reviving, Or an Account Of the Growth of Popery and the Insolence of Papists and Jacobites in Scotland. In A Letter from a Gentleman in Edinburgh, to his Friend in the Country. With a Postscript Giving a Short Relation of the Popish Massacres in France, Ireland, &c. And of the Spanish Armadoe, Gun-Powder Plot, and other Wicked Designes to Enslave Britain and Ireland (Edinburgh, 1714), 26-28.)
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