John Graham of Claverhouse’s Pursuit of Richard Cameron at Crawford Moor in May 1679
Three days after the assassination of Archbishop Sharp, John Graham of Claverhouse had been busy chasing down field preachings by Richard Cameron..
‘My Lord, On Saturday’s night last [i.e., 3 May], I ordered Captain [John] Inglish, with the garison [of dragoons] at Kilcoubright, to be here [at Dumfries] on the Sunday morning [4 May], which he did. I mounted the foot, and marched with all towards those places where the conventicle had been the Sunday befor [i.e., 27 April], first to the head of Glenea, wher [Patrick or Thomas] Vernor had preached,’
The head of Glen Ae lies close to where the parishes of Closeburn, Kirkmichael and Kirkpatrick-Juxta meet at Wee Queensberry. It is not clear when the field preaching at the head of Glen Ae had taken place, as the preaching held on the Sunday before appears to have been by Richard Cameron and lay further along his line of march.
‘and then to the Queensberry hille [in Closeburn parish], wher [Samuel] Arnot and [Mr] Archibald had preached,’
Queensberry Hill and Wee Queensberry lie close together. As with the previous preaching at the head of Glen Ae, it is not clear when the Queensberry Hill preaching had taken place. Presumably, the preachings at head of Glen Ae and at Queensberry Hill had both taken place in the recent past.
Beyond Queensberry Hill, Claverhouse probably reached the head waters of the Clyde in Crawford parish, Lanarkshire, via Daer Hass. It appears that this was where Cameron had preached the week before Claverhouse went there.
Claverhouse’s line of march probably took him close to the Covenanters’ Cave at Earn Craig.
The fact that Richard Cameron had preached, twice, appears to have surprised Claverhouse.
‘and then to the borders of Craford moor, wher [Richard] Cameron had preached the Sunday befor [27 April], and did actually preach that very day [4 May], the mater of three myles from the place we were at, thogh we could see no apearance of them in any place we had been, because of the thikness of the fogue. We lost two partys we sent af[ter?]; they [did] not fynd us till next morning: I have not had the tyme to examin them strictly, but I hear it was really Cameron preached, and yet it is thought he would not have waited for us if we had found him out.’
The cause of Claverhouse’s surprise is not clear. He may have known that Cameron had been censured several months earlier for his anti-indulgence preaching by a meeting of Presbyterian ministers in Dumfriesshire. He may have known that Cameron had allegedly agreed forebear from such preaching for a period. Claverhouse does not appear to have known that Cameron has resumed field preaching on Thursday 24 April when he preached at a fast day with Donald Cargill and John King near Glasgow. (Grant, Lion of the Covenant, 138.)
A month later, Claverhouse would capture John King. Cargill would lead the events which led to Drumclog and the Bothwell Rising. Cameron was probably involved in the plans for a rising. He departed for the United Provinces within a week or so of the preaching on 4 May. When he was there, he impressed Robert MacWard, who ordained him a few months later. It is also alleged that he attempted to export arms back into Scotland for the rebels. If true, then Cameron almost certainly knew something about the forthcoming rising.
Claverhouse reports that his men were keen to engage the militants with Cameron:
‘I must say that amongst officers and sogers I found a great desyr to be at those rogues, and I have declared to them that, if ever we meet, they must aither fight in good earnest, or be judged cowards by a counsell of warre. The dragoons marched that day, without a bait, above fyfty myles, of which there was about fiveteen of horid hilles.’
His report that an armed confrontation was expected is similar to that given by George, Lord Ross, the day before.
The report by Ross indicates that Claverhouse had already been selected as the man to lead the government forces that confronted the rebels. Both officers appear to have had concerns about how their men would holdup under fire.
‘My Lord, I have received ane order yesterday [5 May] from your Lordship [that Lord Ross appears to have seen earlier on the same day and probably directed Claverhouse to engage the enemy as soon as possible], which I doe not know how to goe about in a sodain, as your Lordship seems to expect, for I know not what hand to turn too to find those partys that ar in armes. I shall send out to all quarters and establish spays, and shall endevor to ingadge them Sonday nixt [i.e., 11 May], if possible; and if I gate them not here [in Dumfriesshire/Galloway], I shall goe and visit them in Tiviotdaile or Carak, wher, they say, they dar look honest men in the face.’
Claverhouse would eventually engage the rebels at Drumclog close to the boundary between Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, which is not where he seems to have thought that they would be, i.e., in Teviotdale or Carrick.
He then complains at some length about the government’s lack of funding for both his operations and for spies, before returning to the topic of the prisoners he held in Dumfries.
‘My Lord, I hope your Lordship will pardon me that I have not sent in the prisoners that I have here [at Dumfries]; there is on[e] of them that has been so tortered with the gravell, it was impossible to transport him. [From an earlier letter this is clearly Mr Francis Irvine, who was later sent to the Bass.] Besides expecting considerable orders, I had no mynd to pairt with 30 or 40 horses; and them Sundays jorny [on 4 May] has a litle gaded our horses. No apearance here of any steer. […] J. Grahame.’ (Letters of John Grahame, 24-7.)
The cases of Francis Irvine, mentioned by Claverhouse, above, and Mr Thomas Wilkie, a minister taken by Claverhouse at a field preaching in Galashiels parish at some point after the letter above, were brought before the privy council on 27 May. Both men were sent to the Bass. (RPCS, VI, 207.)
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