Covenanters of the Killing Times Not Buried in the Parish They Died In #History #Scotland

Why are twelve of the ninety-three field deaths of the Killing Times (1682 to 1688) not buried in the parish that they were executed in? See right slice of pie chart ‘other parish yard’, above.

The answer to that question is not clear, as the process of their burials were rarely recorded in historical sources. Although we may not know how they came to be buried elsewhere in some cases, we can attempt to analyse the patterns behind those burials.

Episcopal clerical hostility to interring them in the churchyard of the parish where they died may not have been a significant factor at the Auchencloy Inciedent. For example, John Grierson and Robert Stewart who were shot at Auchencloy in Girthon parish in late 1684 were buried some distance away in Dalry parish in the Glenkens. However, Robert Lennox, who was shot at Kirkconnel Moor in Tongland parish a few months later, was buried in the churchyard of Girthon parish.

According to Wodrow, Robert Stewart and ‘John Grier[son]’ were from Galloway and ‘afterwards their friends carried off their bodies to Dalry, and buried them. Some accounts before me say, that by orders from Claverhouse, a party came and uncovered their graves and coffins, and they continued so open four days till the party went off. And it appears certain, that James Macmichan’s body, after it was buried [at Dalry?], was taken up, and hung up upon a tree.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 177.)

One reason that three of the bodies were taken to Dalry parish churchyard was that at least some of them, perhaps all three of them, came from the parish.

Robert Stewart, came from Ardoch in Dalry parish.

‘John Grier[son?] of Blackmark’ appears on the fugitive roll under Dalry parish for ‘reset and harbour’. Hewison thought that he may have been the martyr at Auchencloy. (Hewison, Covenanters, II, 449.)

Wodrow appears to have held the mistaken belief that ‘MacMichan’, i.e., James McMichael, was from Nithsdale. McMichael had strong connections to Dalry parish. His brother Daniel lived at Lorg Foot at the northern edge of the parish close to the boundary with Nithsdale. He has often been mistaken as a Nithsdale man, when the evidence is clear that he was from Dalry parish in Kirkcudbrightshire. A ‘James Macmichael in Clachan’, i.e., St Johns Town of Dalry, was declared a fugitive for ‘reset and harbour’ in 1683. However, that James MacMichael was not the James MacMichael, who was a notorious traitor.

The only body left on the field at Auchencloy and buried there was that of Robert Ferguson who was not from Dalry parish. It is clear from the case of those killed at Auchencloy, that some of the bodies were removed by ‘friends’, a term that often denotes Society people, for burial in their home parish.

Robert Grierson, who was shot with others at Ingliston in Glencairn parish in Dumfriesshire, was buried in Balmaclellan in Kirkcudbrightshire. Although most of the dead in that incident were from Glencairn parish, why Grierson’s body became the only one of the dead to journey away from parish is not clear. Hewison identified him as from Galloway, possibly in ‘Reglen’, which lay somewhere near Regland Loch in Dalry parish and next to Balmaclellan parish. (Hewison, Covenanters, II, 470.)

There is also a clear pattern of dispersal of bodies for four of the five men shot at Kirkconnel Moor in Tongland parish. Like the Auchencloy case, one body was left to be buried at the site of their deaths. John Bell of Whiteside, David Halliday in Mayfield, Robert Lennox and Andrew McRobert were buried in four different parishes around Kirkcudbrightshire. Bell was buried in his home parish of Anwoth. Halliday, who was from neighbouring Twynholm parish, was for some reason, possibly due to kin relations, buried in Balmaghie parish. While Andrew McRobert was buried in Tywnholm parish. Perhaps most curious of all, Lennox, who was from Irelandton in Kirkpatrick-Durham parish, was, as noted above, buried in Girthon parish.

Two others, David Halliday in Glengap and George Short, who were shot close to the boundary of Twynholm and Tongland parishes, came from those parishes. However, they were buried at the churchyard of Balmaghie parish, either with, or nearby to, David Halliday in Mayfield.

What does connect most of the ten cases above, is that they were shot in contentious, large-scale incidents in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. For some reason, the pattern of removing bodies from the parish where they fell appears to be specific to Kirkcudbrightshire.

The three remaining cases involve individual deaths. William Smith, John Smith and John Hunter are buried in the neighbouring parishes to the one where they died. William Smith was shot in Glencairn parish, but for reasons that are not clear he was buried in Tynron parish. John Smith was shot in the hills, probably in Lesmahagow parish, but he was buried in Muirkirk parish that is adjacent to them. John Hunter died in hills in the north of Moffat parish, but was buried in the adjacent parish Tweedsmuir parish. In some of those cases, it may have been a simple matter of where the body was taken after their corpses were removed from the hills.

The above are the exceptions to the rule. What is striking is that the vast majority of the dead from the Killing Times were buried in the parish where they died.

Covenanters not buried in parish of field execution

Key to Table

Column 1. The numbers in this column for the 93 field deaths refer to the number they had in previous lists I have published, here and here, for ease of cross reference.

Column 2. ‘Name’ refers to the name of each of the field deaths recorded.

Column 3. ‘Incident Location’ refers to how they allegedly died – shot, hanged, drowned or killed in action – and in which parish that took place.

Column 4. ‘Shire’ refers to the shire in which they died.

Column 5. ‘Date’ refers to they year in which they died between 1682 and 1688.

Column 6. ‘Shields 1690’ refers to deaths recorded in Alexander Shields, A Short Memorial (1690).

Column 7. ‘Grave 1702–1714’ refers to gravestones recorded in the first edition of Cloud of Witnesses in 1714.

Column 8. ‘Wodrow 1722’ refers to the deaths recorded by Robert Wodrow mainly in the second volume of A History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland in 1722.

Column 9. ‘Grave 1725 to 1741’ refers to either gravestones recorded between those years with a specific date for their erection found in the inscription, or gravestones that were first recorded in the third and fourth editions of Cloud of Witnesses.

Column 10. ‘Later Grave Record’ refers to gravestones not found in the early editions of Cloud, but listed in the final edition of Thomson’s Martyr Graves of Scotland (1903) and one gravestone that he missed. The date given refers to the earliest record that was found for the existence of that stone. Nearly all of those graves were probably erected in the first half of the Eighteenth Century. This is the third column that is derived from the second of the triumvirate sources.

Column 11. ‘Grave Location’ refers to the parish in which the gravestone is found.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to this post on Facebook or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

~ by drmarkjardine on May 19, 2017.

3 Responses to “Covenanters of the Killing Times Not Buried in the Parish They Died In #History #Scotland”

  1. Hi Mark, I was wondering if you have any DNA testing that would help determine relationships to some of these men? I have several McMichael DNA tests from Ireland and would love to know if any of these are related to the James McMichaels you mention in your wonderful posts! I have paid for many of these tests myself and plan to visit Scotland in September. It would be so great to know if there was a connection to my own branch.

    Thank you for any thoughts you might have. I am in the McMichael group at FTDNA but don’t know how to check a connection to the Covenanters.


    Margaret Nolan

    On Fri, May 19, 2017 at 6:00 PM, Jardine’s Book of Martyrs wrote:

    > drmarkjardine posted: ” Why are twelve of the ninety-three field deaths of > the Killing Times (1682 to 1688) not buried in the parish that they were > executed in? See right slice of pie chart ‘other parish yard’, above. The > answer to that question is not clear, as the process” >

  2. Hi Mark, I am Bill McNaught (e-mail I live in Toronto Canada. I am a great, great grandson of Elizabeth McRoberts (1830-1908). Her parents were Robert McRoberts (1801-1877) and Grace Cunningham (1802-1850) who married 22 July 1820 at Girthon, Kirkcudbright. Robert’s parents were John McRoberts and Mary McGowan. in 1892, my great, great grandmother Elizabeth McRoberts attended a memorial ceremony at the Martyr’s Shrine in Kirkconnel Moor with her youngest grandson, Thomas David McNaught (1886-1967), my grandfather. She pointed to the name of one of the martyrs, Andrew McRobert and told Tom that Andrew was his ancestor. I have some photos which I can provide if you provide an e-mail.

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