‘As Obscure a Place as I could think on’: Claverhouse, the Highlanders and Drinking Moss Water in 1685 #History

Claverhouse and his dragoons

Exhausted, James Nisbet grew tired of running from pursuing government forces. As he apparently began to succumb to a fever, he decided he could not go on…

‘Within three or four days [of Nisbet and Peden’s escape], [John] Graham of Claverhouse, a violent persecutor, came [on c.1 May, 1685] for a general search with 100 horse and 300 Highlandmen. They got sight of seven of us about the middle of the day. They pursued us all that day for thirty-two miles, till midnight, but the Lord preserved us from these blood-thirsty men. We got no refreshment all that day, except a few mouthfulls of bread and cheese and moss-water; but the horse getting before us, and the foot being behind us, and we very much fatigued, we were brought to a straight what to resolve upon. But at last finding my comrades resolving still to run, I told them, that the Lord had preserved me these days past by running, but now, if he hid me not some other way, I must fall a sacrifice to the enemy; so, after prayer, my friends and I parted in the fields before the sun rose. Then I went to as obscure a place as I could think on, and clapt as closs as I could.—The enemy pushed by me on both sides of the place where I lay, like sons of Lucifer, their father; but He who made them held their eyes, that they saw me not, although they were three times within pistol-shot of me.’ (Extract in McCrie, Lives of the Scottish Reformers, 502.)

John Borwn of Priesthill

It is not clear where James Nisbet was in hiding, but it appears that he was probably somewhere in the hills in the vicinity of Muirkirk parish, Ayrshire, at the beginning of May, 1685. On 1 May, Claverhouse and the Highlanders arrived in that area and summarily executed John Brown at Priesthill. Nisbet’s escape appears to have taken place at around the same time.

Almost immediately, Nisbet was struck down by fever and had a third “providential” escape.

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 November 2, 2015.

4 Responses to “‘As Obscure a Place as I could think on’: Claverhouse, the Highlanders and Drinking Moss Water in 1685 #History”

  1. […] Nisbet was about to encounter Claverhouse and the Highlanders who entered Ayrshire via Muirkirk parish on 1 May, 1685. […]

  2. […] after James Nisbet escaped capture by John Graham of Claverhouse and the Highlanders, a fever struck and he had a third providential […]

  3. […] summarily execute John Brown in Priesthill in Muirkirk parish. His force of Highlanders and Horse also pursued James Nisbet. By 3 May, he was at Galston when he sent John Brounen to Drummond at Mauchline. Soon after that, […]

  4. […] they encountered two parties of dragoons and a large party of foot and horse. He also encountered John Graham of Claverhouse’s force of horse and Highlanders within days, before he collapsed through sickness and […]

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