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.)
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.
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