“The Garment of the Whore of Babylon” Destroyed in Kilmarnock in 1688 #History #Scotland

After 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 had the bad luck to encounter them …

Robert Bell’s account of his sufferings at the hands of the Covenanters on 27 December, 1688, was transcribed at Glasgow on 8 January, 1689. His account was written with an eye to swaying English opinion over what had taken place. It is not clear how reliable an account it is. Gilbert Rule, the author of the Second Vindication of the Church of Scotland (1691), did not seriously challenge most of detail of it. Instead, he attacked the character of Bell and his political sympathies and those of the Laird of Bridgehouse. He also distanced moderate Presbyterians from the actions of the Cameronain Society people:

‘That the Armed party [of Cameonians] were as much Enemies to the Presbyterian Ministers in the Meeting Houses, as to the Episcopalians; calling them [the moderate presbterian ministers] Apostates, and preachers of the Duke of York’s Gospel [i.e., under James VII’s Toleration Edicts]: With many other unsavoury Expressions: And that they had diverse Consultations about doing the same Indignities to them [i.e., the tolerated moderate presbyterian ministers], that they did to the Episcopal Clergy: And that particularly they did threaten Mr [James] Osburn, if he did not depart thence. And at the same time they fixed a Paper on the Meeting House at Irwin [i.e., at the centre of the Presbytery], threatening to burn it down.’ (Second Vindication, 29-31.)

A true Account of those Abuses and Affronts, that were committed upon the Person of Mr. Robert Bell Parson of Kilmarnock, by a Party of the Presbyterians now in Arms in the West of Scotland.

Master Robert Bell Minster of Kilmarnock, being desir’d by his Neighbour Minister at Richardtown, to celebrate the Marriage of two Persons at that Church, in the Ministers necessary absence, as he was walking thither, was seized by two Armed Men, who came from a great Party which he saw at some distance; one of them as he came near to him, presented a Musket to his Head; whereupon he told him, he was his Prisoner, and would go where he had a mind to carry him. He having recovered his Musket, and placed him betwixt himself and his Fellow Companion in Arms; in this posture he was brought to the Minister of Ritchardtown’s House,’

The manse at Riccarton presumably lay near the parish church. In the mid Nineteenth Century, the manse, possibly on the same ground, lay to the south of the church at what is now the far end of Wallace View.

At Riccarton manse:

‘where he was commanded to pluck off his Hat, they calling him Rogue and Rascal, and treating him very rudely. But assoon as he perceived they had filled their Bellies with the Meat, that the good Gentlewoman had set before them; and their Passion and Rancour was thereby a little asswaged; he began to ask the Commander of the Party, by what Rule and Law they proceeded, in their appearing thus in Arms: He told him, By the Rule and Law of the Solemn League and Covenant, by which they were obliged to extirpate Prelacy, and bring all Malignants to condign Punishment. Mr. Bell replied, they would do well to take care that those their proceedings were justifiable by the Word of God, and conformable to the practice of Christ, his Apostles, and the Primitive Church in the propagation of the Christian Religion. He answer’d him, That the Doom of all Malignants is clearly set down in the Word of God, and their appearing thus in Arms, was conformable to the Pratice of the Ancient Church of Scotland.

From this House [at Riccarton] the Minister was carried Prisoner to Kilmarnock, and in his Journey thither, there was a Gentleman the Laird Bridgehouse, who having come to meet him, took the courage to tell the Party, that their appearing in Arms, and abusing the Clergy in this Hostile manner, were but insolent outrages against all the Law of the Nation; and that they would do well to remit their Illegal forwardness, together with their pretended grievances unto the Parliament, that was now very quickly to be assembled, by the care and affection that his Highness the Prince [of Orange] had of all the Subjects of this Kingdom. They answered him, To stand off and forbear giving Rules to them, for they would take none from him nor any Man, and that they would not adhere to the Prince of Orange, nor the Law of the Kingdom, any further than the Solemn League and Covenant, was fulfilled and prosecuted by both.

By this time they were come near the Town [of Kilmarnock], and they commanded the Minister to pluck off his Hat, which he obeyed, yet at the same breath they threatned to throw him in the River: And coming to the Bridge [across the Kilmarnock Water],’

The Old Bridge, or Town Bridge, of Kilmarnock had been rebuilt with two spans in 1660. It was later replaced on the same site by a single span bridge in the later Eighteenth Century. It connected Sandbed with Cheapside, a short street which led to The Cross where the mercat cross stood.

Street View of site of Old Bridge

‘they met the whole Body of the aforesaid Party, returning from the Mercat place; where they had caused the Church Officer to deliver up the Keys of the Church: And they discharged by way of Proclamation the Minister, whom in an opprobrious manner, they called Curate of Kilmarnock, from all intromission with the Benefice and Casuality of the Church, or the least exercise of the Ministerial Function. Assoon as they saw Mr. Bell, and understood that he was the Parson of the Parish, he could see nothing in their Faces, but the most insulting joy; nor find in their discourses, but the most reproaching Language, that ever the greatest Criminal in the World was treated with. After a long Consultation amongst themselves, one of their chief Commanders came, and asked him, if he had a Book of Common Prayer: the Minister desired to know of him, why he asked the Question. He answered, That sure he could not want that Book since he was educated at Oxford, and trained up to all the Superstition and Idolatry of the Church of England. The Minister told him, perhaps he had half a dozen of Common Prayer Books; he commanded him, to produce one of them, for that would do their business.’

Bell was the minister of the first charge at the Laigh Kirk since 1687. As he was educated at both Glasgow and Oxford, it appears that some of the Cameronians knew about him. The Laigh Kirk lies just cross the bridge. Parts of the steeple probably date to the church from Bell’s time.

Street view of the Laigh Kirk

‘From this place they carried him back to his House, and there compelled him to deliver unto their hands the Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England, after this they led him as a Prisoner bare headed, betwixt four Foiles of Musketeers, through a great part of the Town unto the Market-place, where the whole Party was drawn up in Battallia: Which appeared to be about the number of two hundred well Armed; with fire Lock Muskets of a very large size, most of them had also a pair of Pistols but all of them one.’

The Mercat Cross lay at The Cross, the market place, of Kilmarnock. The site of the gallows lay at The Cross, too. The mercat cross appears to have vanished before the mid Nineteenth Century when a statue was erected.

‘In Kilmarnock, after the fashion of most Mercat places in Scotland, there is a Cross erected, unto which one goes up by steps on all sides, after the form of a broad Starecase, with which it is invironed. It was on the uppermost step, that one of these rude Guards placed the Minister, two of them on the same step, one on both hands; and so on every step as you go down from the Cross, they ranged themselves before him:

After this they called for Fire, which was brought, then one of their Commanders made a Speech to the People, That were gathered together in great numbers from the Town and Country. He told them, That they were come there to make the Curate of the place, a Spectacle of Ignominy, and that they were obliged so to do, by virtue of the Solemn League and Covenant; in Obedience unto which they were to declare here their abhorrency of Prelacy, and to make Declaration of their firm intentions and designs, to fulfill all the ends of that Oath: The propagation of the Discipline of the Government of the Church of Scotland, as it is express’d and contained in the foresaid Solemn League and Covenant. And all this they attested to do, not by virtue of any Civil Power nor Ecclesiastical Power, but by the Military Power, and the Power of the posture they were now in. These are the very words of this Speech.

After this another of their Commanders taking the Book of Common Prayer, reading the Title Page of it, and extending his voice very high, he told the People, That in pursuance of the forementioned League and Covenant, they were now to burn publickly this Book of Common Prayer, which is so full of Superstition and Idolatry; and then throwing it into the Fire, blowing the Coals with a pair of Bellows, after that catching it from amidst the flame, they fixed it on the Spear of a Pike and thence lifting it up on high, far above the top of the Cross. Which Elevation was attended with Shouts and Acclamations, down with Prelacy Idolatry and Superstition of the Churches of England and Scotland.

After all these indignities and impudent reproaches, offered to the most reformed and best constituted Churches in the World, they turned themselves to the Minister again, and rudely in a very menacing manner, asking him, if he was an Episcopal Prelate’s Man, and of the Communion of the Churches of England and Scotland; he answered, he was and did there confess it to the whole World.

Then they tore his Gown, one of the Guard first cutting up the Skirt of it with his Sword, and throwing it amongst their feet, telling him, It was the Garment of the Whore of Babylon. One of them bid him promise never to Preach, nor Exercise the Office of a Minister any more; but he refused, telling them, that such a Promise lay not within the compass of his own will, and could not be extorted by force, and that tho they should tear his Body, as they had done his Gown, they would never be able to reach his Conscience. Well, well, (says he) do it at your Peril; the Minister answer’d, that he would do it at his Peril.

And so they gave over troubling him any more, only asking, what he had to say to them, he told them, he was extremely sorry to see Protestants, so ingratefully exasperated against the best Protestant Church in the World, that had done such Eminent Service to our Common Religion and Interest against Popery: And withal praying God to forgive them, and not to lay these things to their Charge.

So the Minister was dismissed, they telling him, he was an ignorant and obdured Curate and Malignant.

This is a true Copy of that Account, of those indignities and affronts, that were done unto me Robert Bell, by the Presbyterians now in Arms in Scotland.

Glasgow, Jan. 8. 1689.
Robert Bell:’ (The Case of the Present Afflicted Clergy, First collection of papers, 33-36.)

From Kilmarnock, the 200 armed Cameronian Covenanters moved south towards Tarbolton. On the way, they found the minister of Riccarton, whose wife had bravely fed them …

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

Advertisements

~ by drmarkjardine on August 28, 2017.

4 Responses to ““The Garment of the Whore of Babylon” Destroyed in Kilmarnock in 1688 #History #Scotland”

  1. […] 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 wa… […]

  2. […] Mauchline and Galston. On 27 December, their band, which had increased to two-hundred strong, publicly destroyed the “garment of the Whore of Babylon” while rabbling the minister of Kilmarno…. Then they turned south towards Tarbolton in Ayrshire […]

  3. Hi Mark, Another intrguing episode.

    Hugh Campbell would have been the minister of Riccarton at the time having first been admitted in 1650. He was the son of Charles Campbell of Horsecleugh in the parish of Old Cumnock. Interestingly when Richard Cameron arrived at Old Cumnock in December 1679 he was confronted by local heritors including the lairds of Horsecleugh and Logan ‘who urged him to leave the district and not to be a source of dissension among the people.’ Cameron declined and was determined to preach there even ‘if they should bury him at the tent side’ and he did so on Thursday 26th December. Three days later on the Lord’s Day the 29th December he preached at the parish of New Cumnock.

    Hugh Campbell was outed at Riccarton in 1662 and accused in March 1669 of preaching and baptising irregularly. He returned to Riccarton under an Indulgence in 1672, jointly with Hugh Crawford outed minister of the parish New Cumnock (that parish no longer existed by that time after the Earl of Dumfries had the division of the parish of Cumnock into the two new parishes of Old Cumnock and New Cumnock annulled – and there was a curate in place at Cumnock)

    Campbell and Craufurd appear to have been thorns in the flesh. Campbell was once again accused of baptising irregularly in 1674 while Craufurd was cited to appear before the Privy Council in 1677, he was later banished to Ireland in 1683 having ‘ declined to live orderly and declined not to keep conventicles’.

    Campbell returned to Riccarton before August 1687 and Craufurd to New Cumnock in 1688.

    all the best
    Bobby

  4. […] John Brown was the ‘son of John Brown in Richardton’ and was one of two Galston Covenanters who were armed guards for David Houston, a minister among the Society people, at a preaching held at Polbaith Burn in early 1687. Brown also advertised the preaching in the locality immediately before it took place. Both he and John Paton, also of Galston parish, attended the preaching ‘armed with gun, pistol and sword’. It is striking that a similar combination of arms which were carried at Houston’s preaching were carried by those who rabbled the minister of Galston and the minister of Kilmarnock in 1688. […]

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: