A Covenanter Who Died in Dunnottar Castle in 1685 #History #Scotland #Stonehaven

Dunnottar

The Covenanter, James Russell (d.1685), appears to be just another name on a gravestone in Dunnottar churchyard. His name is easy to skip over, as the inscription tells a remarkable story but says almost nothing about him. Now, however, we can finally connect the James Russell in the grave, back to places he knew, to objects in the NMS and to his family…

covenanters-grave-at-dunnottar-churchyard

‘HERE LYES JOHN STOT JAMES ATCHI
SON JAMES RUSSELL & WILLIAM BRO
UN AND ONE WHOSE NAME WEE HAVE
NOT GOTTEN AND TWO WOMEN WHOSE
NAMES ALSO WEE KNOW NOT AND TWO
WHO PERISHED COMING DOUNE THE ROCK
ONE WHOSE NAME WAS JAMES WATSON
THE OTHER NOT KNOWN WHO ALL DIED
PRISONERS IN DUNNOTTAR CASTLE
ANNO 1685 FOR THEIR ADHERENCE
TO THE WORD OF GOD AND SCOTLANDS
COVENANTED WORK OF REFORMA
TION REV 11 CH 12 VERSE.’

The gravestone is located at Marischal Aisle/Dunnottar Churchyard which lies just to the south of Stonehaven. The gravestone was being repaired by “Old Mortality” (i.e., Robert Paterson) when the novelist Walter Scott met him in 1793.

Map of Marischal Aisle/Dunnottar Churchyard           Street View of Dunnottar Church

Aerial View of Dunnottar Church

The four names said to be missing from the inscription are John White, William Breadie, Mary Gibson and Jean Moffat.

whigs-vault

The window in the Whigs’ Vault © John Allan and licensed for reuse.

James Russell died during his imprisonment in the Whig’s Vault of Dunnottar Castle in 1685.

Among the items held by the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh is his Bible, which he may well have had in Dunnottar:

‘Leather bound Greek Bible, owned and carried by James Russell of Sauchrig, Covenanter, who fought at the Battle of Drumclog and the Battle of Bothwell Brig with Balfour of Burleigh [which was the named used in Scott’s Old Mortality, but was if fact John Balfour of Kinloch, an assassin of Archbishop Sharp], 1679 and died a prisoner in Dunnottar Castle, December 1685.’

Owning a Greek bible probably establishes that Russell was university educated.

sauchierig

It is possible to identify where he was from. ‘Sauchrig’ was Sauchierig, a farm in Falkirk parish in [East] Stirlingshire. Today, the farm is a ruin marked on the OS map but not named on it.

Map of Sauchierig

sauchierig2

Sauchierig © Robert Murray and licensed for reuse.

Aerial view of Sauchierig

Russell’s Kin
He was almost certainly the son of a forfeited Covenanter, who also fought at Bothwell, and was the same individual as ‘James Russel, son to John Russel in Garbethills’, who was listed as a fugitive on the published roll of 5 May, 1684.

Garbethills lies right next to Sauchierig, but it lies in Cumbernauld parish.

The NMS also holds a ‘New Testament of the family of James Russell of Sauch[ie]rig, Covenanter, Edinburgh 1694, printed by Andrew Andersen, Edinburgh, 1694 and owned by the Russell family, passing eventually to William Walker Russell’.

James Russell had two brothers, John and George, who were also fugitives for their part in the Bothwell Rising of 1679.

Finally we can link James Russell’s name on a grave near Stonehaven back to a ruin, a bible and to his family.

For other Dunnottar prisoners, see here.

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Photograph: Dunnottar Castle © Copyright Jjhake and licensed for reuse.

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 October 26, 2016.

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