The Skirmish near Kirk O’ Shotts in June, 1679
In his account of the Bothwell Rising, James Russell, one of the assassins of Archbishop Sharp, records a skirmish between the Covenanters and the King’s forces near Kirk O’ Shotts prior to the Battle of Bothwell Bridge…
East of Kirk O’ Shotts
The Covenanters ‘resting Thursday forenoon [19 June, 1679], in the afternoon … they were alarmed with news of the enemy approaching in parties towards them, whereupon they sent out parties first of some volunteers, commanded by Robert Dick, and then John Balfour’s troop [of horse]; next Mr Walter Smith and Andrew Turnbull. These rencountering a party of the enemy in the dark of the night, fired upon other, upon which the enemies fled (and, as was said, some of them killed) to the body lying be-east the Shott kirk, strengthened with mosses on every hand, that these parties durst not follow them, tho’ the enemies were in great fear, but they wanting guides, and not knowing the way, returned to the [Covenanter’s] army;’
(James Russell’s account in Kirkton, Secret History, 462.)
Russell’s account probably indicates that the King’s forces were camped near Hirst and what is now the television transmitter at Kirk O’ Shotts visible from the M8.
The Covenanters named by Russell were:
Robert Dick was the first man who was not a minister to subscribed the bond before Sanquhar in 1680. He was killed a month later in the battle of Airds Moss.
John Balfour of Kinloch was one of the assassins of Archbishop Sharp on 3 May, 1679. He eluded capture for many years and is said to have been drowned while he was with William of Orange’s invasion fleet in 1688.
Walter Smith was the clerk of the Covenanters’ council of war at Bothwell. He played a curcial role in supporting Donald Cargill from late 1680 and was later captured and executed with him in 1681.
Andrew Turnbull appears to have survived the repression which followed Bothwell. He may have become an exile in the United Provinces.
For more on the Covenanters in Shotts parish, see here.
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