The Covenanters’ Revenge in Galston #History #Scotland

In December, 1688, a party of armed Covenanters ejected the ministers of several parishes in Ayrshire. At Galston, they seized the minister Robert Simpson, took him to the churchyard and tore his cloak. However, then they went a step further, as they ‘forced him to wade upon and down through the water of Irvine for a considerable time in a severe Frost.’ It was a particular act of revenge on a minister who had betrayed some of their friends several years earlier.

The moderate presbyterian minister, Gilbert Rule, disputed some elements of the story of the rabbling at Galston:

‘The Truth of the matter is, Mr. Robert Sympson had violently Persecuted several of the Parish; particularly he had caused George Lamb[i]e, a very old Man, Janet Lamb[i]e, the Wife of James Mill, who was very Infirm, and brought forth a Child ten dayes after, and James Lamb[i]e; to be carried on Car[t]s (not being able to go) to Kilmarnock by Lieutenant Collonel Buchan’s Souldiers, and that for not coming to hear [Sympson’s ministry]; Some of their Friends in Resentment of this, did in January, or February 1689 [actually on 27 December, 1688], take Mr. Sympson our of his House, and Discoursed with him about an Hour, he being Uncovered, and put him through the Water of Irwin out of the Parish, but they neither rent his Gown, nor did other Injury to him. These Persons were Strangers, except some few of the Parish. This is attested by Hugh Hutcheson Notar, Thomas Morton, John Adam.’ (Gilbert Rule, Second Vindication, 32.)

Rule’s account was carefully phrased. For example, he mentioned that they ‘neither rent his gown, nor did other injury to him’. In fact, the earlier Episcopal account had only claimed that the Covenanters had rent his cloak as Simpson’s gown was missing. Rule stated that they did him no ‘other injury’, but neglected to mention that the River Irvine was freezing when Simpson was put in it due to a severe frost.

Where Rule adds to our understanding is when he adds new details about prisoners taken in Galston parish long before the rabbling took place.

When were the Galston prisoners taken?
Rule indicates that the Galston prisoners were captured by soldiers from Mar’s Regiment of Foot that was under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Buchan. He also makes it clear that they were accused of refusing to hear the preaching of Robert Symson, the minister of Galston since 1681. That evidence considerably narrows down the time frame for when the prisoners were taken.

The taking of the prisoners probably took place in late 1684 or 1685, as the rounding up of those who refused to hear their local minister only began after lists of them were produced by their local ministers in late 1684. Similar lists of ‘withdrawers from public worship’ were produced by parish ministers in Galloway and elsewhere in late 1684 and they, too, were followed by round ups over the next six months or so.

The historical sources indicate that the soldiers of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Buchan were active in the area Galston area in the spring and late autumn of 1685.

Prior to the rounding up of those who refused to hear their local minister, Buchan took part in “the ambuscade at Auchengilloch” in June, 1684. That action took place to the east of Galston and indicates that his men were already operating in Ayrshire before the end of that year.

At the very beginning of 1685, Buchan was not close to Galston, as he conducted a close search of Glasgow that captured Thomas Jackson. However, his search of Glasgow was not typical of his area of operations. According to Alexander Shields, Buchan was ‘a most violent persecuter, in Galloway and Shire of Air, by Robberies took from the People upwards of 4000 pounds Scots.’

The historical record confirms that Ayrshire and Galloway were where Buchan mainly operated. Soon after, he and his men were active in the vicinity of Galston. In mid February, he was involved in the killing of John Smith in the hills between Muirkirk and Lesmahagow parish, and on c.6 May, he almost captured James Nisbet somewhere near the eastern boundary of Ayrshire. By the summer, he and his men appear to have had other business to attend to. First, in common with other government forces, they were involved in opposing the Argyll Rising from late May through to the final moping up operations after it in late June to early July. At around that time, he was recorded far from Galston, as he was involved in a raid on Arecleoch in the Carrick/Galloway area. Some of his men were also in Glenluce parish in the same area at around that time. However, later in the year, Buchan’s men were again near Galston. On 9 November, he was at Ayr, when his troops brought him John Nisbet of Hardhill, the leader of some ‘skulking rebels’ taken beside Kilmarnock.

Although it cannot be proved when Buchan’s men took the prisoners in Galston, it is reasonably clear that they were involved in capturing them at some point between late 1684 to late 1685.

Who were the Galston prisoners and where did they live?
All of the prisoners were called Lambie and were connected to presbyterians/fugitives of the same surname in Galston parish in mid 1684.

Gilbert Rule gave a simple description of the three prisoners.

George Lambie was said to be a ‘very old Man’.

He gives no information on James Lambie beyond his name, but he may be kin of George.

Janet Lambie appears to be younger kin of George and possibly the sister of James. She was the ‘wife of John Mill’. She was described as being ‘very Infirm’, due to being pregnant, and she ‘brought forth a Child tens dayes after’ her experiences in Kilmarnock.

Several fugitives named Lambie lived in Galston parish and appear on the published roll of May, 1684, for their involvement in the Presbyterian rising of 1679. There were only six Lambies named in total on that roll, which contained around 1,800 names. Four of them lived in Galston parish. They were:

John Lambie [in Ladybrow], ‘son of George Lambie of Crofthead’.
James Lambie ‘in Lady Brow’ i.e., Ladybrow, who was the son of another fugitive, James Lambie, ‘elder, in Lady-brow, for reset’. The latter was probably sought for the reset of his son.
The fourth was ‘Thomas Lambie, in Langside’.

In another document from 1684, Hugh Campbell of Cessnock in Galston parish was alleged to have sent several of his tenants to the rising of 1679. Among them were:
‘George Lambie in Crofthead’, the father of the fugitive, John, named above.
‘John Lambie in Ladybrow’, who was the fugitive son of George. (RPS, A1685/4/36.)

The Hearth Tax records of the early 1690s list ‘John Lambie in Preistland’ as having two hearths. Priestland is yards from Crofthead.. He was probably John, the 1684 fugitive who was the son of George in Crofthead.

Ladybrow, Crofthead and Priestland all lies next to each other in the east of Galston parish.

Street View of Ladybrow           Map of Priestland/Crofthead/Ladybrow

However, it appears that the three prisoners taken by Buchan’s men in 1685 – George, James and Janet Lambie – were not any of the above in Ladybrow. They were withdrawers from the church rather than declared fugitives.

It is here that two others surnamed Lambie in the Cessnock document of 1684 are of particular interest. They were tenants of Cessnock who were said to have been involved in the 1679 rising, but were not on the fugitive roll, i.e., they had probably taken the bond of peace after the rising not to rise in arms against the King, but may well have remained committed Presbyterians who withdrew from their parish minister. They share exactly the same names as two of the prisoners:

‘George Lambie, merchant in Bankhouse’.
‘James Lambie in Laefine [i.e., Lanfine]’ (RPS, A1685/4/36.)

[Note: The version of this document in Wodrow incorrectly transcribes the place names as ‘Bankhead’ and ‘Lawfen’. See Wodrow, History, IV, 74n.]

Two similar names George and James ‘Lamb’, possibly Lambie, also appear right next to each other in the Hearth Tax records for Cessnock’s estate in Galston parish in the early 1690s:
‘George Lamb[ie?] – 1 – –
James Lamb[ie?] – 1 – – ’

Neither Janet Lambie, nor her husband James Mill, are listed in the Hearth Tax record for Galston parish in the early 1690s.

Both locations can be identified. Both lie just to the west of Priestland, Crofthead and Ladybrow.

Map of former site of Bankhouse

Map of Lanfine

George Lambie in Bankhouse and James Lambie in Lanfine were probably two of the Galston prisoners taken by Buchan’s men. The weight of evidence in favour of that hypothesis is increased by another detail given by Gilbert Rule. He states that some of those Cameronian Society people who exacted revenge on Simpson were ‘friends’ of the Galston prisoners who suffered in c.1685.

Who were the ‘friends’ of the Lambie Prisoners?
There certainly had been “sufferings” in Galston parish. Two Covenanters from it had drowned in the wreck of The Croune in 1679. Mr Matthew Campbell of Waterhaughs was also forfeited for his part in the 1679 Rising. Hugh Smith in Galston parish, who was captured in 1686, was sentenced to be banished for attacking Newmilns Tower in 1685, but he appears to have stood trial in 1687 for corresponding with the most wanted man in Scotland, James Renwick. His fate is not known. Two other Covenanters were certainly banished. George White in ‘Beine Hill’ and George White, a ‘weaver boy’, were obstinate prisoners captured after a preaching by David Houston in early 1687 and banished to Barbados. They were rescued from banishment by the Society people in 1688 (which was highly unusual) and returned home to Galston parish in 1689.

However, it is Lanfine, where the Galston prisoner James Lambie lived, that is of particular interest. Lanfine is a place associated with John Brounen/Browning in Lanfine, who was hanged at Mauchline in May, 1685. It also lies very close to the former homes of John Richmond, younger of Knowe, who was hanged at Glasgow in March 1684, and James Browning in Richardton, who was in arms at Bothwell in 1679 and was captured after one of Renwick’s field preachings in Muirkirk parish. The latter was released in July 1686 and may be kin to John Brown in Richardton, as the historical sources at that time move between recording Brown, Brounen and Browning as a surname. If he was not kin, James Browning must have known John Brown, who is discussed below.

Richardton lies next to Knowe and Lanfine.

Map of Richardton              Street View of Richardton

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.

It is possible that John Brown, who lived next to Lambie in Lanfine, and John Paton were some of the ‘friends’ of the three Lambie prisoners taken in 1685 and that in 1688 they were in the party of Covenanters that took revenge on the minister of Galston parish who had put the Lambies on a list of those who had withdrawn from the church.

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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 September 19, 2017.

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