The Cocker’s Vomit and the Fire at Horsecleugh, Cumnock, 1680 #History #Scotland

According to a witness interviewed by Patrick Walker in the 1720s, Richard Cameron the Covenanter foretold strange events near Cumnock in 1680:

‘In the Beginning of the Year 1680, he [i.e., Richard Cameron, who had returned to Scotland in October, 1679,] went to the West; and tho’ they had wanted the publick preached Gospel only about six Months [i.e., since the defeat at Bothwell in June 1679], for some Time could get none to call him to preach publickly, he turned very melancholy. [George] The Laird of Logan of that Ilk, in the Parish of Cumnock (esteemed by all for a good Man) and the [John Campbell the] Laird of Horsecleugh represented him as a Jesuite, and naughty Person:’


The laird of Logan’s house lay in the vicinity of Holmhead Cresent in Logan, which lies east of Cumnock. Both it and its successor house have been demolished.

According to Walker’s story, Cameron’s message to lift the fallen standard of the Lord and renew field preaching was not welcomed by two moderate-presbyterian lairds in Cumnock parish, who had spread word, presumably among among the people in Cumnock parish and their tenants and kin, that they should not hear Cameron. Their hostility to Cameron is understandable. In the years before the defeat at Bothwell Bridge, Cameron’s preaching had been divisive, with the result that he was removed to Rotterdam by other ministers. At Bothwell in mid 1679, militants who agreed with Cameron had clashed with moderate-presbyterian lairds and ministers in rancourous debates that may have contributed to the defeat of the Presbyterian army. When he returned to Scotland in October, 1679, his message, although backed by influential militant ministers in Rotterdam, was shunned by ministers. However, by March 1680, his message was beginning to make headway in the South West and he was receiving calls to preach. On 22 March, we was within five miles of the Nith, a river which flows from Cumnock parish via Nithsdale.

Walker’s story continues with house conventicle in Cumnock parish:

‘At length some of the Lord’s People, who had retained their former Zeal and Faithfulness, called him to preach the Word in the same Parish [i.e., of Cumnock]. When he began, he exhorted the People to mind that they were in the Sight and Presence of a holy God, and that all of them were hastning to an endless State, either of Well or Wo, and that there was no Mids. One Andrew Dalziel a Debauchee (a Cocker or Fowler) being in the House, it being a stormy Day, cried out, Sir, we neither know you nor your God. Mr. Cameron musing a little, said, Ye, and all that do not know my God in his Mercy, shall know him in his Judgments, which shall be sudden and surprising in a few Days upon you, which shall make you a Terror to yourself, and all that shall be Witness to your Death; and I, as a sent Servant of Jesus Christ, whose Commission I bear, and whose Badge or Blaze is upon my Breast, give you Warning, and leave you to the Justice of God. Accordingly, in a few Days thereafter, the foresaid Andrew, being in perfect Health, took his Breakfast plentifully, and, before he arose, fell a vomiting, and vomit his Heart’s Blood in the very Vessel out of which he got his Breakfast, and died in a frightful Manner:

This astonishing Passage, together with the Power and Presence of the Lord going along with the Gospel-Ordinances dispensed by him in that six Months before his bloody Death [i.e., between early 1680 and July], wherein he ran fast, his Time being short, he was taught and helped of the Lord to let down the Net at the right Side of the Ship, where there was in every publick Day many catcht, to their Conviction, Conversion, Confirmation, Comfort and Edification, according as their various Cases were.

Our Martyrs, Sufferers, and other Christians had to tell to the Fearers of the Lord, what he did for their Souls at such Times and Places, both in their Life and at their bloody Deaths; these signal Manifestations of the Lord’s Love and Pity in these Sun-blink Days of the Gospel, not only of clear enlightning Light, but also of the vehement Heat, to thaw, warm and melt their Hearts in such a Flame of Love to the Lord Jesus Christ, and such a Zeal upon their Spirits for the Concerns of his Glory, that made them willing and ready to spend and be spent and rejoice that they were counted worthy to die for the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ; which deserves to be recorded to all Generations.

The Report of these strange Things occasioned Calls to come to him for dispensing of publick Gospel-Ordinances, from all Corners in the South and West of Scotland; and made the Lairds of Logan and Horsecleugh, who had vented themselves against him in a strange Way, disswading all from countenancing him any Manner of Way, to desire a Conference with him, which he willingly granted; where, and when they had a very friendly Conference, which obliged them to say, That they had been far in the Wrong to him, and requested him to forgive them. He said, From his Heart he forgave them for what Wrongs they had done to him; but, for what Wrongs they had done to the Interest of Christ, it was not his Part, but was perswaded they would be remarkably punished for it. He rebuked Logan, and said, Your Family shall be written Childless; which is now more and more taken Notice of by many, tho’ 50 Years since it was foretold, that none of his Offspring have Children. And that Reproof to Horsecleugh, that he should suffer by Burning, which shortly thereafter was seen by many upon his House.

I wrote these foregoing Accounts since the publishing of Cameron’s Life, from the Mouth of an old Christian Sufferer, whom I have not seen these 40 Years before, who was Ear and Eye-witness to all of them, and much more, in that Time.’ (Walker, BP, II, 97-99.)


One reason why the fates of the lairds may have been singled out is that both Horsecleugh and Logan gave evidence of the violent rabbling by armed Covenanters of the local minister in 1688. (History of Old Cumnock, 98-100.)

The laird’s house at Horsecleugh has disappeared. In the 1750s it lay on the north side of the burn, opposite the present farm. According Walker, its burning down ‘soon thereafter’ was seen by many’. A late nineteenth-century history of Old Cumnock, states that there was no recollection in the district of how the house had disappeared. (History of Old Cumnock, 193.)

Map of Horsecleugh Farm            Street View of Horsecleugh

Howie’s Version:
In the late eighteenth century, John Howie of Lochgoin recycled Walker’s version of the Cumnock story, but with once crucial difference. Howie changed the historical context of the story from early 1680, when Cameron was just establishing his message, to just after Cameron’s Sanquhar Declaration of 22 June, when the full weight of the state was targeted on Cameron’s band. He ignored Walker’s setting of the ‘Beginning of the Year 1680’ and placed it before Cameron’s Gass Water preaching of 4 July, which was said to be held ‘near Cumnock’, but was actually held in Auchineck parish. The two stories are set months apart.

Howie’s opening passage is very similar to that in Walker’s version:

‘When he came to preach about Cumnock, he was much opposed by the Lairds of Logan and Horsecleugh [i.e., George Logan of Logan and John Campbell of Horsecleugh], who represented him as a Jesuit. But yet some of the Lord’s people, who retained their former faithfulness, gave him a call to preach in that parish. When he began, he exhorted the people to mind that they were in the sight and presence of a holy God, and that all of them were hastening to an endless state of either weal or woe. One Andrew Dalziel, who was in the house, (it being a stormy day,) cried out, “Sir, we neither know you nor your God.” Mr. Cameron, musing a little, said, “You, and all who do not know my God in mercy, shall know him in judgment, which shall be sudden and surprising in a few days upon you; and I, as a sent servant of Jesus Christ, whose commission I bear, and whose badge I wear upon my breast, give you warning, and leave you to the justice of God.” Accordingly, a few days after, the said Dalziel, being in perfect health, took his breakfast plentifully, but before he rose he fell a vomiting blood into the very vessel out of which he had taken his breakfast, and died in a most frightful manner.’

Howie edited down the latter part of Walker’s story to cut to the chase of the story of the two lairds:

‘This astonishing event, together with the power and presence of the Lord going along with the gospel as dispensed by him, made the two Lairds desire a conference, to which he readily assented. Upon this they felt obliged to acknowledge, that they had been in the wrong with regard to him; and desired his forgiveness. He said, from his heart he forgave them what wrongs they had done to him; but for what wrongs they had done to the interest of Christ, it was not his part to forgive them; on the contrary, he was persuaded they should be remarkably punished for it. And to the Laird of Logan he said, that he should be written childless; and to Horsecleugh, that he should suffer by burning.—Both of which afterwards came to pass.’ (Howie, Scots Worthies, 334-5.)

For more on the Covenanters in Cumnock parish, see here.

For more on Richard Cameron, see here.

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Additional 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 August 24, 2016.

7 Responses to “The Cocker’s Vomit and the Fire at Horsecleugh, Cumnock, 1680 #History #Scotland”

  1. […] for the Swine Knowe preaching. The story was about a Cameron house preaching in Cumnock parish. While Walker correctly placed in the story in early 1680, Howie set it after the Sanquhar Declaratio…and before Cameron’s Gass Water field preaching ‘near Cumnock’ on 4 July. Howie effectively […]

  2. Maurice Grant in ‘Lion of the Covenant’ tracks Cameron’s progress to the parish of Cumnock. On the Lord’s Day 22nd December he preachd at Dalrymple ‘where there was a great conflunece from the indulged parishes’ and from there to Coylton where the local minister had accepted an Indulgence and then onto Cumnock where he received and accepted a pressing invitation to preach to them the following Thurdsay 26th December. Hamilton left Cameron at this time to attend a disturbing meeting between ministers that accepted the Indulgence and the leading field preachers including Welsh and Semple. The night that Hamillton left (no exact date given) Cameron received a visit from several influential men in the parish including Logan and Horsecleugh who urged him to leave the district. Having refused and respond he would deliver what he had to say “if they should bury him at the tent side”. The lairds complained to the Earl of Dumfries, but he refused to act since he had no warrant. Cameron preached as planned on the 26th Decemebr and for good measure went on to preaching at New Cumnock the following Lord’s Day, 29th December by which time Hamilton had rejoined him.

    • Hi Bobby, thanks for the very interesting and very useful information about Cameron’s previous encounter with Logan and Horsecleugh. I’d missed that in Grant! Pondering it now. Additions and edits may follow. Hope all goes well with you. M

  3. Hi Mark , Of some added interest perhaps…. As you know the parish of Cumnock was divided into the two new parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock in 1650, a decision the Earl of Dumfries had annulled in 1667 – back to one church and one minister. John Cunnyghame the outed minister of Old Cumnock died the following year. Hugh Crawford the outed minister of New Cumnock accepted a joint-Indulgence at Riccarton with Hugh Campbell in 1672 who had been outed from that parish. Hugh was son of William Campbell, the son of Charles Campbell of Horsecleugh. In 1674 Hugh Campbell was accused by the Diocesan Synod of baptizing irregularly and lost his charge , he returned to Riccarton in 1687. Hugh Crawford was cited to call before the Privy Council in 1677 and also his cautioners in 1681 – he was eventually banished to Ireland in 1683, for refusing not to attend conventicles. I think their Indulgence was a convenience. It would be great to think Craufurd and Campbell may have heard Cameron at Old Cumnock and / or New Cumnock. On another note, Patrick Gemmill from New Cumnock (Old Castle of Cumnock) was the son-in-law of Charles Logan (Cumnock Maynes – now known Castlemains, New Cumnock) – a kinsman of the Laird of Logan ! All the best, Bobby

  4. He appears in the list of heritors given by Samuel Nimmo, minister (curate) at Cumnock , in the interrogations 17th October 1684

    “Depones that the list of his heretours are as followes:-
    “Earle of Dumfries, Laird of Craigie, Laird of Cesnock, younger, Laird of Gaitgirth, elder, John Campbell of Horsecleugh, Laird of Carletoun, Laird of Borland, Laird of Glasnick, Laird of Logan, Laird of Dalegles, Hew Dowglas of Garrallan”

    Cesnok younger is George Campbell of Cessnock, held many of the lands in New Cumnock that later fell to his daughter Mary Campbell who married William Gordon of Earlston created 1st Baronet of Afton in 1706 (son of William G. killed “at” Bothwell Bridge”)

  5. […] George Logan of Logan and John Campbell of Horsecleugh, two moderate presbyterian lairds who had called the field preacher Richard Cameron a Jesuit in 1680, as one who testified that the rabbling of the minister of Cumnock was the work of Cameronians who […]

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