The Drowning of the Wigtown Martyrs: The Evidence of Cloud of Witnesses in 1714
Another version of the drowning of the Wigtown Martyrs appears in A Cloud of Witnesses For The Royal Prerogatives of Jesus Christ: or The Last Speeches and Testimonies of those who have suffered for the Truth, in Scotland, since the year 1680 (1714):
‘Upon the 11th of May 1684 [a typesetting error for 1685], Margaret Lauchlane in the parish of Kirkkinner, and Margaret Wilson in Glenvernock, in the shire of Galloway, being sentenced to death for their non-complyance with prelacy, and refusing to swear the oath of abjuration by [Robert Grierson] the laird of Lagg, Captain [John] Strachan [of His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons], Colonel [probably a typesettig error for Cornet] Mr. David Graham [Sheriff-depute of Wigtownshire], and [Wigtown’s] Provost [William] Cultron [of Drummoral], who commanded them to receive their sentence on their knees, which they refusing, were pressed down by force, till they received it: And so were by their order tied to a stake within [>p441.] the sea mark, in the water of Blednoch near Wigtoun; where, after they had made them wrestle long with the waves; which flowing, swelled on them by degrees, and some times thrust them under water, they then pulled them out again, to see if they would recant; they enduring death with undaunted courage, yielded up their spirits to God. The former was a widow of about sixty-three years, of a most Christian and blameless conversation, a pattern of piety and virtue, who having constantly refused to hear the curates, was much pursued and vexed, and at length taken by the soldiers, while she was devotely worshipping God in her family; and being indicted of being at Bothwel-bridge, Airsmoss and twenty field conventicles, and as many house-conventicles, after sore and long imprisonment, without necessary refreshment of fire, bed or diet, at length suffered this cruel death. The other (Margaret Wilson), a young woman of scarce twenty three years of age, after she and her brother; who was about nineteen, and her sister fifteen years old, had been long driven from their father’s house, and exposed to ly in dens and caves of the earth, wandering through the mosses and mountains of Carrick, Nithsdale and Galloway; going to Wigtoun secretly to visit the foresaid Margaret Lauchlane, was taken by the fraud of one Patrick Stewart [a baillie of Wigtown], who under colour of friendship, having invited her and her sister to drink with him offered them the King’s health, and upon their refusal of it, as not warranted in God’s word, and contrary to Christian moderation, went presently out and informed against them; her sister was dismissed, as being fifteen years of age, upon her father’s paying a hundred pounds sterl. for her ransom; she being detained and examined, whether she owned the king as head of the church? and would take the abjuration oath? not answering to their pleasure, but adhering to the truth of Christ, was in like manner condemned; and after great severities of imprisonment, suffered the foresaid death. Being put oft into the water, and when half dead, taken up again, to see if she would take the oath, which she refused to her last breath, while her fellow sufferers were wrestling with the waves, as being put first in to discourage her; the persecutors asked her, What she thought of that sight? She answered, “What do I see but Christ (mystical) wrestling there?” One of the times that she was taken out of the water, they said, Say, “God save the king:” She returning with Christian meekness, I wish the salvation of all men, [>p442.] but the damnation of none: Upon which one of her friends alledging she had said what they demanded, desired them to let her go: but they would not, seeing she refused to take the oath.
During her imprisonment she wrote a large letter to her friends, wherein, besides the lively and feeling expression of her sense of God’s love, she doth, with a judgment not usual for her age and education, disclose the unlawful nature of the abjuration oath, hearing of Curates, owning the king’s supremacy, which was a thing the persecutors meant by his authority, and proves the necessity of her suffering upon these heads.’ (Thomson (ed.), CW, 440-2.)
If Margaret Wilson’s martyrs’ testimony ever existed, it has not survived unlike the vast majority of testimonies.
An image of the drowning of the Wigtown Martyrs, based on the frontispiece of A Hind Let Loose (1687), was also included as the frontispiece of the first edition of Cloud of Witnesses in 1714. See above, bottom left corner.
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