Where was Gilbert MacAdam shot near Kirkmichael in 1685?

A small step forward in the history of the Killing Times…

Merkland 1750s

Gilbert MacAdam, a returned banished Covenanter, was shot in Kirkmichael parish in Carrick, Ayrshire, during the Killing Times of 1685 by a militia company of heritors commanded by Sir Archibald Kennedy of Culzean. The same militia unit also included John Reid of Ballochmyle, a resident of Mauchline parish and a burgess of Ayr from 1681, who was also accused of the killing. After the Revolution, Reid was a ‘zealous elder’ in the kirk session at Mauchline. (Paterson, History of the Counties of Ayr, 551-2.)

Beyond the name of the parish, the only clue as to where MacAdam died is that he was killed escaping from a mysterious location known as ‘the house of one Hugh Campbell’.

Wodrow records that in June, 1685, ‘upon a Saturday’s night, in the house of one Hugh Campbell, near the place of Kirkmichael, being with some friends at a meeting for prayer, a company of militia under the command of Colzean, surrounded the house. Gilbert was most obnoxious, had he been taken, and essayed to escape; the soldiers perceiving him, discharged their pieces, and killed him. He had really bought his freedom, and was convict of no crime since. He was a person of shining piety.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 329.)

Whether MacAdam had committed a crime after banishment is neither here, nor there, as under his sentence he was almost certainly not permitted to return to Scotland from the American Colonies.

What is of interest is the description of Hugh Campbell’s house, which is described as ‘near the place of Kirkmichael’. Can it be located?

Ten years after MacAdam’s death, the Hearth Tax rolls for Kirkmichael parish list a ‘Hew Campbell In tua merkland’. He is the only Hugh Campbell on the roll. Also listed in the same parish is ‘John Gibsone In Tua merkland’.



It may be a remarkable coincidence, but the tua/two merkland appears to lie close to Kirkmichael.

Modern maps place ‘Merkland’ just south of Kirkmichael House and the village of Kirkmichael which grew up around the kirk.

Map of Merkland                 Aerial View of Merkland

On the first OS map of the mid nineteenth century, Merkland consisted of ‘High Merkland’ and ‘Merkland’, which may be a later subdivision, as on a map of the 1750s (at top of post), only Merkland appears, without a name, directly to the south of Kirkmichael House.

There is little doubt that ‘tua merkland’ lies ‘near the place of Kirkmichael’, as Wodrow described. Gilbert MacAdam was almost certainly killed escaping from there.

The killing of MacAdam may be linked to that of William MacKergur.

MacAdam is buried in Kirkmichael churchyard.

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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 July 18, 2015.

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