‘To Extirpate These Rebels’: The Commission to Colonel James Douglas, 27 March to 20 April, 1685

Colonel James Douglas William of Orange

Colonel James Douglas was a commander for William of Orange at the Boyne, but in 1685 he had hunted down and executed Covenanters in the service of James VII…  

In March, 1685, Douglas was given an extraordinary judicial commission to pursue and extirpate the rebel Covenanters in the South and West of Scotland. The commission was notably not subscribed by John Graham of Claverhouse, the great rival of Colonel Douglas. No commanders of Claverhouse’s regiment of horse were put at the disposal of Douglas.

Contrary to the popular image of “Buildy Clavers”, it was Colonel Douglas, rather than Claverhouse, who operated in the field throughout most of the Killing Times. Claverhouse had been sidelined in January, 1685, in favour of Douglas. He did not re-enter the field until after the commission to Douglas, below, elapsed at the end of April.

Many of those who were commissioned under Douglas had pressed the Abjuration oath in early 1685.

The commission to Douglas was as follows:

‘JAMES, by the Grace of GOD, &c Greeting. Forasmuch as We and the Lords of Our Privy Council, understanding that the Insolence and Numbers of some desperate Rebels, skulking up and down in some Southern and Western Shires, do daily increase through supine Negligence of these Sheriffs and other Magistrates, who ought to expel them, and the Reset and Harbour they have had from others; and We being fully resolved as to extirpate these Rebels, so to put Our LAWS in Execution against these Sheriffs and other Magistrates, who have not done their Duty, and against such as have, do, or shall reset, entertain, or correspond with any Rebels, vagrant or skulking Persons, who can give no good Account of themselves, and have not given intelligence of them and their Haunts timeously, have therefore thought fit, with Advice of Our Privy Council, to commissionate; likeas, We do hereby make and eonstitute, Our trusty and well beloved Counseller, Colonel James Douglas, Colonel of Our Regiment of Guards, to be Our Justice in all the Southern and Western Shires, to the Effect underwritten; with full Power to him to call Courts at such Times and Places as he shall find expedient and then and there to create Clerk, Sergeants, Dempsters, and other Members of Court needful, recall Assizers and Witnesses necessary, Absents to amerciate, Unlaws and Amerciaments to uplift and exact; and if he find any Persons, Heritors or others, guilty of Reset, harbouring, or entertaining, or corresponding with Rebels, that he cause justice forthwith to be done upon them, conform to the Laws and Acts of Parliament of this Kingdom; with Power also to the said Colonel James Douglas, to call and convene before him all Persons, whether Heritors or Commoners, upon whose Ground Rebels have appeared, and no Intelligence or Advertisement thereof given, and to proceed and punish them conform to the Laws of this Out Realm; and particularly conform to a Proclamation of our Council, dared the Day of And to the effect these desperate Rebels may be absolutely reduced and expelled forth of this Kingdom, We hereby impower you Our Commissioner foresaid, to call to your Assistance, all Magistrates, Heritors, Officers, and Soldiers of Our standing Forces, and of Our Militia upon the Place, and under your Command, and all fencible Men within these Shires, as you shall have Occasion, conform to the Instructions formerly given, who are hereby strictly required and commanded to rise, concur with, fortify, and assist you, and obey your Orders, as they will answer the contrary upon their Allegiance; and generally you are to do all and every Thing which may conduce to Our Service, and the Peace of the Kingdom. And to the effect you may be assisted in the Prosecution of Our Commission aforesaid, to the haill Ends and Purposes abovementioned, by able, loyal, and qualified Persons, We, with Advice of the said Lords, do hereby authorize, impower, and command the Persons underwritten, viz.

John [Dalzell] Earl of Carnwath,
William Hamilton of Orbistoun,
Cromwel Lockhart of Lee,
John Johnston Provost of Glasgow,
James Lundie of Stratharly, [i.e., Strathairly, Fife.]
[John] Somerwel of Spittle Sheriff-depute of Lanerk,
William Hamilton of Barncleugh [i.e., Barncluith, Hamilton parish] Bailie-depute of the Regality of Hamilton [under the Duke of Hamilton],
and William Stirling Bailie-depute of the Regality of Glasgow
all in the Sheriffdom of Lanerk;

[John Cunningham] the Earl of Glencairn,
[John Cochrane] the Lord Cochrane,
[William] the Lord Ross,
the said William Hamilton of Orbistoun,
John Houstoun, younger of that Ilk,
John Schaw younger of Greenock,
and Sir Archibald Stuart of Blackhall, [in Paisley parish]
all in the Shire of Renfrew;

John Lord Bargeny,
Sir [William] Blair of that Ilk, [i.e., laird of Blair]
Sir Archibald Kcnnedy of Culzean,
Sir William Wallace of Craigy,
Hugh Cathcart of Carletoun,
and Robert Hunter Provost of Ayr,
all in the Shire of Air;

[Dunbartonshire and Stirlingshire]
the said William Hamilton of Orbistoun,
[Humphrey Colquhoun] of Luss,
Major George Arnot Lieutenant-governor of the Castle of Dumbarton,
[Archibald MacAulay] of Ardincaple,
John Graham of Dougalstoun,
the Earl of Mar, his Sheriff-deputes in the Shire of Stirling, all in the Shires of Dumbarton and Stirling;

the Earl of Anandale,
Sir Robert Dalziel of Glenae,
Sir Robert Grierson of Lag,
Sir James Johnston of Wester-raw,
Thomas Kilpatrick of Closeburn,
and Robert Lawry of Maxweltoun,
in the Shire of Nithsdale, and Stewartry of Anandale;

[Alexander Gordon] the Viscount of Kenmuir,
the said Robert Grierson of Lag,
Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon,
Sir Godfrey M’Culloch of Miretoun,
and Mr. David Graham Sheriff of Galloway,
in the Shire of Wigtown, and Stewartry of Kirkcudbright;

[Teviotdale (Roxburgh)]
[Robert Kerr] the Lord Jedburgh,
[James Cranston] Lord Cranstoun,
[Henry] M’Dougal of Mackerstoun,
Sir William Douglas of Cavers,
Sir William Ker of Greenhead,
Sir William Elliot of Stobs,
and WilIiam Ker of Chatto,
all in the Shire of Teviotdale;

John Riddel of Hayning,
Sir Francis Scot of Thirlstone,
Thomas Scot of Whitsdale,
Sir Robert Pringle of Stithel,
[Andrew] Plumber of Middlestead,
and James Murray younger of Deuchar,
in the Shire of Selkirk;

Sir Archibald Cockburn of Lan[g]toun,
Sir James Cockburn of that Ilk,
[Alexander] Hume of Linthill,
——- Hume of Nineholes,
[James Hume] the Earl of Hume,
and Mr Charles Hume of Aytoun,
for the Shire of Berwick;

Sir Archibald Murray of Blackbarony,
David Murray of Stenhope, [i.e., Stanhope]
[Cornet] James Naismith of Posso,
James Geddes of Kirkhurd,
Richard Murray of Spittle-haugh,
and William Horseburgh of that Ilk,
all in the shire of Peebles;

[Army Officers Commissioned]
and Captain John Dalziel [Mar’s Regiment of Foot, Dumfriesshire], Captain John Strachan [His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons, Galloway], Captain John Inglis [His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons, Ayrshire], Captain William Cleland [His Majesty’s Regiment of Dragoons, Ayrshire], Captain[-lieutenant] Alexander Bruce [of Lt-Col Murray’s Troop of Dragoons, Galloway], Captain-lieutenant Thomas Windram [of General Dalyell’s Troop of Dragoons, Galloway], Lieutenant James Murray [of Major Wedderburn’s Troop of Dragoons, Lanarkshire], Lieutenant John Livingstone [of Capt Strachan’s Troop of Dragoons, Galloway], Lieutenant John Creichton [of Capt Cleland’s Troop of Dragoons, Lanarkshire], Lieutenant [Lewis] Lauder [of George Winram’s Troop of Dragoons, Ayrshire], Cornet James Dundas [of Major Wedderburn’s Troop of Dragoons, Carrick], [Cornet John] Baily [of General Dalyell’s Troop of Dragoons, Dumfries/Galloway] and James [Innes]: Cornets, [of Lt-Col Murray’s Troop of Dragoons, Lanarkshire] all Officers of Our standing Forces, to concur with you when present, and in your Absence, any Three of them, to follow such Directions and Instructions as they shall from you receive, from Time to Time; it being always but Prejudice to such of the said Persons as were previously commissionate in the said Shires, to act, do, and perform every manner of way, conform to the former Commissions and Instructions given them by Our Privy Council, except where you judge necessary to alter the same; for doing all which, this shall be to you and them a sufficient Warrant and Exoneration: And this Our Commission to you and them, We declare is to endure in full Force, until the Twentieth Day of April next, unless the same be further prolonged, or recalled.

Given at Edinburgh the Twenty seventh Day of March, One thousand six hundred eighty and five, and of Our Reign the first Year,
Subscribed ut sederunt, except [John Graham of] Claverhouse.’

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

~ by drmarkjardine on December 24, 2014.

10 Responses to “‘To Extirpate These Rebels’: The Commission to Colonel James Douglas, 27 March to 20 April, 1685”

  1. Reblogged this on Our Reformed Christian Heritage.

  2. […] same Galloway pattern was followed by the council in their sweeping commission to Colonel James Douglas of 27 March to 20 April, 1685. It empowered the same judges to sit in courts wherever Douglas decided to hold one in […]

  3. […] As the pardon indicates, the three Ayrshire men were tried in Cumnock by Colonel James Douglas on Friday 3 April. Douglas had been granted a sweeping commission to conduct trials on 27 March. […]

  4. […] Colonel Douglas was issed with a wide-ranging commission to extirpate rebels that ran between 27 March and 20 April, 1685. […]

  5. […] Grizel Fullarton was captured by Colonel James Douglas, who commissioned the court that initially sentenced the two Wigtown women to be drowned for refusing the abjuration oath in April, 1685, under powers awarded to him on 27 March. […]

  6. […] to the reports it had received that the Covenanters had escaped and local inaction was issue a wide-ranging judicial commission to Colonel James Douglas on 27 March and send him to the area. At the beginning of April, Douglas was conducting trials at […]

  7. […] command of Colonel John Graham of Claverhouse and Lieutenant-Colonel Buchan, but Colonel Douglas had been given a wide ranging commission a few days earlier following reports that rebels were active in Ayrshire. Inglis and his dragoons may well have had […]

  8. […] 27 March, he was commissioned to to serve Colonel James Douglas in his commission to suppress the Society people across the western and southern shires. That commission expired on 20 April, prior to the alleged […]

  9. […] the commission to Colonel Douglas ran from 27 March to 20 April, he could have written to Wigtown at any point after his commission […]

  10. […] the commission to Colonel Douglas which ran from 27 March until 20 April, we have exactly the same list for Galloway. Two of those men and a military officer, Captain […]

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