Who shot James Davie ‘dead on the spot’ near Bathgate? #History #Scotland

James Davie

Who shot James Davie ‘dead on the spot’ at a field preaching near Bathgate? The third source for James Davie’s death does not alter the fundamentals of the story, but it does change who was held responsible for the killing.

3. Wodrow’s History
The Reverend Robert Wodrow’s History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland mentions Davie’s death briefly in a passage on the many alleged crimes of Thomas Kennoway, who was assassinated by the Society people in November, 1684:

‘At one time he attacked a meeting in the parish of Bathgate, and shot one James Davie, an heritor of that parish, dead in the spot, and took fourteen prisoners, who were afterwards sent off from the kingdom.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 152.)

Wodrow goes to considerable lengths to traduce Kennoway’s name, perhaps because the Society people killed him at Swine Abbey in Livingston parish.

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.

The inscription on Davie’s grave claims he was shot in April, 1673. However, one reading of the historical evidence found in Blackadder’s “Memoirs” indicates that he was probably killed in March, 1675.

Wodrow appears to recycle a phrase used by Blackadder when he claims that Kennoway ‘shot one James Davie, an heritor of that parish, dead in the spot’, as Blackadder used a similar phrase that ‘an heritor in Bathgate parish, called John Davie, and killed him dead on the spot’. Wodrow held a copy of Adam Blackadder’s account of John Blackadder’s sufferings and it may influenced his brief passage on Davie. However, he may well have been using a different source for the story, as Wodrow called Davie, James, whereas Blackadder called him John. (NLS MSS. Wod.Qu.LXXV, f.355)

For some reason the name of the individual held responsible for Davie’s death appears to have changed from John Inglis of the Dragoons in Blackadder’s version to Thomas Kennoway of the King’s Lifeguards in Wodrow’s version. It appears that Wodrow was reusing source material in his collection of manuscripts that was primarily about Kennoway, rather than Davie. Who ever wrote that source material simply recorded Davie as one of Kennoway’s victims.

Wodrow’s claim that fourteen prisoners were taken and then banished may either be an expansion of the statement in Blackadder that prisoners were taken, or reflect what his source material said. As fourteen prisoners from the Linlithgow area were banished by Robert Malloch at a much later date in 1684, it is possible that Davie’s death in the 1670s has been conflated with the later banishment of fourteen prisoners. Whether Kennoway was involved in the banishment, or not, is not clear. He is said to have been active in repression of the Covenanters from 1666 to in 1684. If he was involved, that may be the reason why his name became attached to Davie’s death. However, Kennoway was also a renowned local persecutor, even though he was not commissioned as an officer in the King’s Lifeguards. His local notoriety may have been a factor in linking him to the killing of Davie.

What is clear is that the claim in Blackadder that the ‘dragoons’ of ‘Lieutenant’ Inglis were responsible for killing Davie is not as reliable as it appears. Kennoway and His Majesty’s Troop of Lifeguards, who were also a mounted unit, may be the unit attacked the conventicle, but Wodrow’s account is equally open to question. To make matters worse, the fourth source for the killing, the inscription on Davie’s gravestone in Bathgate, states that someone called ‘Heron’ shot him.

It is impossible to resolve the question of who killed Davie when all the sources disagree.

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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

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~ by drmarkjardine on June 22, 2016.

One Response to “Who shot James Davie ‘dead on the spot’ near Bathgate? #History #Scotland”

  1. […] A decade or so later, Adam Blackadder wrote a detailed narrative account of it and soon after that Wodrow briefly wrote up his brief version of the event. All of the sources tell broadly the same story, but differ over who was responsible for the […]

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