The Killing of James Davie near Bathgate #History #Scotland

Covenanters Preaching

James Davie was killed by musket fire while attending a field preaching in Bathgate parish in the 1670s. At least that is broadly agreed among the sources for his death, but little else is…

His death at the hands of government forces was probably accidental, but it was also unusual. He was not a victim of the Pentland Rising of 1666 or the Killing Times of 1684 to 1685. He was not a fugitive. He was not one of the Society people, who appeared after the date of his killing. Whether he was a Covenanter or not is an open question, as we do not know what his views were. He presumably had Presbyterian sympathies, as he died at an illegal field preaching.

There are four historical sources for Davie’s death: George Ridpath’s list, John Blackadder’s “Memoirs, Wodrow’s History and his gravestone in Bathgate. The stories they tell appear to come from the same root, but they branch out in different directions.

Due to the complex nature of those sources, it is probably best to deal with each source in turn in a separate post. The earliest source for his death was published in 1693:

1. An Answer to the Scotch Presbyterian Eloquence (1693)
In 1693, George Ridpath included Davie among those ‘Murdered in Cold Blood’:

‘James Davie in Bathgate parish, and several others at divers times, shot, as hearing sermons in the fields, before the insurrection at Bothwell-bridge [in 1679]’.

Ridpath’s inclusion of Davie among the dead is remarkable, as his list of those killed was almost completely derived from Alexander Shields’ A Short Memorial of 1690, which did not record Davie’s death. Ridpath also added the death of David Finlay (d.1666) in a similar way. The deaths of Davie and Finlay both predate the 1682 start date of the list in Shields.

However, Ridpath’s information was also fairly mundane, as Davie was just one among ‘several others’ who died at field preachings.

In summary, Ridpath indicates that ‘James Davie in Bathgate parish’ was ‘shot’ at a field preaching at some point after 1666 and before June 1679.

The second source for Davie’s death, Blackadder’s Memoirs, tells a far more detailed story.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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 13, 2016.

3 Responses to “The Killing of James Davie near Bathgate #History #Scotland”

  1. […] killing of James Davie at a field preaching in the 1670s was first recorded by Ridpath in 1693. However, a second source for the killing may contain new and important […]

  2. […] Wodrow does not give a date for the attack on the conventicle that killed Davie, but it falls in his narrative of Kennoway’s crimes between 1666 and 1679, i.e., the same broad time frame that was given in Ridpath’s list of the dead. […]

  3. […] at a field preaching in Bathgate parish is a complicated case to unravel. It was first recorded in Ridpath’s list of the victims of the Killing Times in 1693. A decade or so later, Adam Blackadder wrote a detailed narrative account of it and soon […]

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