Richard Cameron at Tinto Hill in October, 1679
After Richard Cameron’s return to Scotland via Newcastle, he travelled northwards and perhaps preached as the occasion offered until he reached Tinto Hill in Lanarkshire…
There, perhaps at the house of St Johns Kirk, he received news that two respected field preachers had abandoned field preaching in line with the resolution among the moderate presbyterian ministers’ ‘General Assembly’ in Edinburgh of 16 September, 1679, not to antagonise the authorities in the wake of the defeat at Bothwell by field preaching and to accept a third set of indulgences.
Tinto Hill lies on boundary between the parishes of Carmichael, Covington, Symington and Wiston. In June, 1681, Donald Cargill attempted to field preach there, but was deflected from it by Lady St Johns Kirk. Both Cargill and Cameron may have intended to preach somewhere along the Kirk Burn above St Johns Kirk.
On 30 October, Cameron wrote with the news to Robert MacWard, the chief ideologue of the militant movement and one of the exiled ministers who had recently ordained him and sent him back to Scotland. He enclosed his letter to MacWard in his letter of the same date to Andrew Russell in Rotterdam.
Richard Cameron’s letter to Robert MacWard, Edinburgh, 30 October 1679.
An extract is as follows:
‘When I came the length of Tinto, in Clydesdale, there I was called to preach in the fields, but being told that Mr [John] Dickson had been there about twenty days before that, and had refused to go to the fields, I first sent to Edinburgh to know if he was in it, and to consult with him and others anent my coming into the town, or their appointing some other place for my waiting on them. The answer was, that I should come into the town. When I came, I consulted Mr [Thomas] Hog [of Kiltearn, who had been recently released from the Bass Rock] and Mr [John] Dickson about going to the fields. I find them both against it; their reasons are taken from hazard, especially from the [announcement of the] Duke of York’s coming here and giving him an opportunity, forthwith, to fall on [the presbyterians]. This is the greatest strait and sharpest trial I ever yet met with, for their arguments do not satisfy my conscience telling me that the opportunity of a testimony is not to be slighted, as also I find that by forbearing it some are stumbled, others hardened, and many take occasion to say that all the ministers are going one gate. I intend tomorrow out to the country again and to consult the people; what may I do I know not. Oh for wisdom…! I expect your writing to me as soon as possible, as also that you will write to Mr Dickson.’ (Anderson, Bass Rock, 343-4; Grant, Lion of the Covenant, 169.)
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