The Wigtown Martyrs: The Record of Kirkinner Kirk Session, April, 1711

On 15 April, 1711, the kirk session of Kirkinner parish recorded the story of their local martyr, Margaret McLachlan:

‘Margaret Laughlison, of known integrity and piety from her youth, aged about 80, widow of John Milliken, wright in Drumjargan, was, in or about the year of God, 1685, in her own house, taken off her knees in prayer, and carried immediately to prison, and from one prison to another without the benefit of light to read the Scriptures; was barbarously treated by dragoons, who were sent to carry her from Mahirmore to Wigtown; and being sentenced by Sir Robert Grier, of Lagg, to be drowned at a stake within the flood-mark just below the town of Wigtown, for conventicle keeping and alleged rebellion was, according to the said sentence, fixed to the stake till the tide made, and held down within the water by one of the town-officers by his halbert at her throat till she died.’ (Reproduced in Morton, Galloway and the Covenanters, 424.)

In October, 1684, McLachlan lived at Drumjargon in Kirkinner parish.

Map of Drumjargon

In the spring of 1685, she was taken at her house at Drumjargon. She appears to have been taken in a sweep through the area, as she is described as being taken from prison to prison.

Machermore Castle

Machermore Castle © Chris Newman and licensed for reuse.

At some point, her captors brought to ‘Mahirmore’, i.e., Machermore Castle, the former home of the forfeited laird, Patrick Dunbar, younger, of Machermore, in Minigaff parish, Kirkcudbrightshire. Machermore, then a sixteenth-century tower house set among fir trees, lay across the River Cree from Penninghame parish in Wigtownshire. The castle was one of three new small garrisons which were established, almost certainly by Colonel James Douglas and his 200 foot guards, in January, 1685. (The others were at Earlstoun Castle and Waterhead.) In the summer of that year, some months after McLachlan was held there, Gilbert McIlroy and William McIlroy were possibly held at the castle, as they were described as being kept prisoner at Minnigaff.

Map of Machermore Castle

McLachlan’s imprisonment at Machermore in the spring of 1685 highlights that the garrison there predated the arrival of Major Winram’s dragoons in the area, as they were quartered at Baldoon and around Wigtown. Baldoon lay in McLachlan’s home parish of Kirkinner. If the area had been quartered when she was captured, it would have made more sense for her captors to have held her there, in the vicinity of Wigtown, rather than taking her further north and across the River Cree to Machermore.

It is interesting to note that the session record does not specify who actually captured McLachlan at her house and then took her to Machermore Castle. Was that some of the 200 foot gurds of Colonel James Douglas who almost certainly established the garrision?

We know that later, a party of dragoons brought her from Machermore Castle to Wigtown, where she was handed over to the civil authorities.

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

~ by drmarkjardine on June 10, 2015.

4 Responses to “The Wigtown Martyrs: The Record of Kirkinner Kirk Session, April, 1711”

  1. […] The Kirkinner Kirk Session Record, 1711. In April, 1711, the kirk session of Kirkkinner parish recorded that Margaret McLachlan was ‘sentenced by Sir Robert Grier[son], of Lagg, to be drowned at a […]

  2. […] of Wigtown. Nearly all of those accounts were critical of the role played by burgh officials. The Kirkinner session recorded the role of a town officer in the execution. The Penninghame session pointed to the role […]

  3. […] Margaret McLachlan, one of the Wigtown martyrs, was held for a period by the garrison at Machermore Castle in the spring of 1685. […]

  4. […] The McIlroys were possibly held at the garrison at Machermore Castle, which lies just outside of Minnigaff. (The garrison was established in January, 1685, and Margaret McLachlan was held there in the spring of 1685.) […]

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