The Other Glorious Revolution: The Covenanters’ “Rabbling of the Curates” in 1688 #History Scotland

Not all revolutionaries want the same thing. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 is no exception to that rule. On Christmas Day, 1688, amidst the chaos of the fall of James VII’s regime, armed Cameronian Covenanters launched a coordinated campaign of ‘rabblings’ to purge five Western shires of ministers they believed to be supportive of the former regime or an Episcopal settlement of the Church. It was a ‘Military way of Reformation’ from below that created facts on the ground. It was their own revolution, which aimed to force the hand of the victor, William of Orange, whose authority many of them rejected, to acknowledge a defacto Presbyterian settlement in Scotland and pave the way towards a Covenanted state. That was not the settlement of the Church that either William, or the vast majority of the Scottish elite, wanted.

The evidence for the rabblings comes from a pro-Episcopalian pamphlet, The Case of the Present Afflicted Clergy in Scotland Truly Represented (1690).

‘Upon Christmas day [1688] about Ninty Armed Men forced [Francis Fordyce] the Minister of Cumnock out of his Chamber into the Church-yard, where they discharged him to Preach any more there under the highest Peril they took upon them to Command him to remove from his Manse, or dwelling House, & his Gleib, and not to uplift his Stipend thenceforth; after which they rent his Gown in pieces over his head: they made a Preface to their discourse to this purpose; that this they did not as States-Men, nor as Church-Men, but by violence and in a Military way of Reformation.

In this manner, in the same place, and at the same time used they [John Watson] the Minister of Authinleck, who dwelleth in Cumnock.’

Street View of the former site of Cumnock parish church.

‘From Cumnock the foresaid day they marched to Machlin & missing the Minister [David Meldrum], were rude beyond expression to his Wife, & finding the English Liturgy burnt it as a Superstitious and Popish Book: thereafter they went to the Church-yard where they publicly discharged the Minister from his Office and Interest there.’

Mauchline parish also had an indulged minister, James Veitch, who had returned under James VII’s edicts of toleration. It was also where the gallows were felled in early November.

Street view of Mauchline churchyard

Some of The Case of the Present Afflicted Clergy’s accounts of the rabblings were disputed in the pro-Presbyterian pamphlet, The Second Vindication of The Church of Scotland (1691):

‘It is Attested under the Hands of George Logan of Logan, William Crawfurd of Dalegles, John Campbel of Horsecleugh, George Campbel of Glaisknock, John Beg of Dornal, John Mitchel of Whetstonburn ; all of the two Parishes mentioned [of Cumnock and Auchinleck]: That they who did this wers not of either of these Parishes, nor was it known who they were: Only that they were Cameronians,who had suffered severely; and were now gathered together on occasion of an Alarum that then was in the Countrey [due to the Revolution]: Nor had any in these Parishes any Accession to that practice. And it is to be observed, that many of these Ministers entered by a Military Force, as they wers so put out: Particularly the Minister of Auchinleck had his Edict served with three Troops of Dragoons [prior to 23 June, 1680?]: And that People never submitted to these Mens Ministry, but by the force that was put on them by Armed Men: And they suffered very hard things; and yet the People of these Parishes bore it patiently. In the business of Machlin he grosly belyeth them: They used no violencs to the Ministers Wife; only gravely reproved her for Cursing and Swearing, which she used.’ (Second Vindication, 89.)

However, the account of the rabblings continues in The Case of the Present Afflicted Clergy:

‘Upon the twenty seventh December the more considerable part of the fore said number [of ninety Cameronian Society people] went to Galston: where they apprehended the Minister [Robert Symson], and taking him out of his house into the Church yard they rent his Cloak missing his Gown, and thereafter forced him to wade upon and down through the water of Irvine for a considerable time in a severe Frost.’ (Case of the Present Afflicted Clergy, 1st Collection of Papers, 1-2.)

Street view of Galston churchyard

From Galston, the armed body of the Cameronian Society people headed west towards Kilmarnock and Riccarton. There Robert Bell, the minister of Kilmarnock, had the ill fortune to encounter them while he was walking to Riccarton …

Return to Homepage

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please 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 27, 2017.

3 Responses to “The Other Glorious Revolution: The Covenanters’ “Rabbling of the Curates” in 1688 #History Scotland”

  1. […] ninety armed Cameronian Covenanters had conducted rabblings of ministers at Cumnock, Mauchline and Galston, they turned west towards Kilmarnock. While the minister Robert Bell was walking to Riccarton, he […]

  2. […] Ayrshire designed to terrify ministers and their wives out of their churches, houses and parishes. Ninety armed Covenanters rabbled the ministers at Cumnock, Mauchline and Galston. On 27 December, their band, which had increased to two-hundred strong, publicly destroyed the […]

  3. […] December, 1688, a party of armed Covenanters ejected the ministers of several parishes in Ayrshire. At Galston, they seized the minister Robert Simpson, too him to the churchyard and tore his cloak. […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.