A Republican Martyr Executed in Edinburgh in 1685 #History #Scotland

Rumbold Executed

After the republican Richard Rumbold was hanged in Edinburgh, an account of his death appeared in print which contained the line that “none comes into the world with a saddle on his back, neither any booted and spurred to ride him”. A century later, Thomas Jefferson would famously rework those words from Rumbold’s gallows speech when describing the virtues of a republic over a kingdom: “I never could believe that Providence had sent a few men into the world, ready booted and spurred to ride, and millions ready saddled and bridled to be ridden.”

It is not known who wrote the account, below, of Rumbold’s last hours, but they may have been in Edinburgh on 26 June, 1685, as it contains intriguing details. However, when one reads the account, it is clear that who ever wrote it actually alleged that Rumbold had, in part, defended monarchical government: ‘God hath wisely ordered different stations for men in the world, as I have already said; kings having as much power as to make them great, and the People as much property as to make them happy.’

Did Rumbold say that? It is not clear, but it either contradicts, or adds to, the version of events found in Wodrow and Fountainhall of his hanging.

The Last Speech of Coll. Richard Rumbold, with several Things that passed at his Tryal, 26 June, 1685.

About 11 of the clock [on 26 June] he was brought from the castle of Edenburgh, to the Justices court, in a great chair, on men’s shoulders; where at first he was asked some questions, most of which he answered with silence; at last said, he humbly conceived, it was not necessary for him to add to his own accusation, since he was not ignorant they had enough already to do his business; and therefore he did not design to fret his conscience at that time with answering questions.

After which, his libel being read, the court proceeded in usual manner; first asking him, if he had any thing to say for himself before the jury closed? His answer was, he owned it all, saving that part, of having designed the King’s death; and desired all present, to believe the words of a dying man; he never directly nor indirectly intended such a villainy; that he abhorred the very thoughts of it; and that he blessed God, he had that reputation in the world, that he knew none that had the impudence to ask him the question; and he detested the thoughts of such an action; and he hoped all good people would believe him, which was the only way he had to clear himself; and he was sure, that this truth should be one day made manifest to all men.

He was again asked, if he had any exceptions against the jury? He answered, no; but wished them to do as God and their consciences directed them. Then they withdrew, and returned their verdict in half an hour, and brought him in guilty.

The sentence followed, for him to be taken from that place to the next room, and from thence to be drawn on a hurdle, betwixt two and four of the clock, to the [mercat] cross of Edenburgh, the place of execution, and there to be hang’d, drawn and quartered.

He received his sentence with an undaunted courage and chearfulness. Afterwards he was delivered into the town-magistrates hands; they brought to him two of their divines, and offered him their assistance upon the scaffold; which he altogether refused, telling them:
That if they had any good wishes for him, he desired they would spend them in their own closets, and leave him now to seek God in his own way.

He had several offers of the same kind by others, which he put off in like manner. He was most serious and fervent in prayer the few hours he lived (as the senturies observed, who were present all the while.)

The hour being come, he was brought to the place of execution [at the mercat cross], where he saluted the people on all sides of the scaffold, and after having refreshed himself with a cordial out of his pocket, he was supported by two men while he spoke to the people in these words:

Gentlemen and Brethren, It is for all men that come into the world once to dye, and after death to judgment; and since death is a debt that all of us must pay, it is but a matter of small moment, what way it be done; and seeing the Lord is pleased in this manner to take me to himself, I confess, something hard to flesh and blood, yet, blessed be His name, who hath made me not only willing, but thankful for his honouring me to lay down the life he gave, for his name; in which, were every hair in this head and beard of mine a life, I should joyfully sacrifice them for it, as I do this: And providence having brought me hither, I think it most necessary to clear my self of some aspersions laid on my name;

and first, that I should have had so horrid an intention of destroying the King [James VII] and his brother [Charles II].

[Here he repeated what he had said before to the justices on this subject.]

It was also laid to my charge, that I was antimonarchial. It was ever my thoughts, that kingly government was the best of all, justly executed: I mean, such as by our ancient laws? That is, a king and a legal free-chosen Parliament. The king having, as I conceive, power enough to make him great, the People also as much property at to make them happy; they being as it were contracted to one another: And who will deny me, that this was not the just constituted government of our nations? How absurd is it then for men of sense to maintain, that tho’ the one party of this contract breaketh all conditions, the other should be obliged to perform their part? No; this error is contrary to the law of God, the law of nations, and the law of reason. But as pride hath been the bait the Devil hath catched most by, ever since the Creation, so it continues to this day with us. Pride caused our first parents to fall from the blessed estate wherein they were created; they aiming to be higher and wiser than God allowed, which brought an everlasting curse on them and their posterity. It was pride caused God to drown the Old World. And it was Nimrod’s pride in building Babel, that caused that heavy curse of division of tongues to be spread amongst us, as it is at this day. One of the greatest afflictions the church of God groaneth under, That there should be so many divisions during their pilgrimage here; but this is their comfort, that the day draweth near, whereas there is but one shepherd, there shall be but one Sheep fold. It was therefore in the defence of this party, in their just rights and liberties, against Popery and slavery—

[At which words they beat the drums; to which he said:]

They need not trouble themselves; for he should say no more of his mind on that subject, since they were so disingenious, as to interrupt a dying man, only to assure the people, he adhered to the true Protestant religion, detesting the erroneous opinions of many that called themselves so; and I dye this day in the defence of the ancient laws and liberties of these nations: And though God, for reasons best known to himself, hath not seen it fit to honour us, as to make us the instruments for the deliverance of his people; yet as I have lived, so I dye in the faith, that he will speedily arise for the deliverance of his Church and People. And I desire all of you to prepare for this with speed. I may say, this is a deluded generation, vail’d with ignorance, that though Popery and slavery be riding in upon them, do not perceive it; tho’ I am sure there was no man born marked of God above another; for none comes into the world with a saddle on his back, neither any booted and spurred to ride him; not but that I am well satisfied, that God hath wisely ordered different stations for men in the world, as I have already said; kings having as much power as to make them great, and the People as much property as to make them happy.

And to conclude; I shall only add my wishes for the salvation of all men, who were created for that end.

After ending these words, he prayed most fervently near three quarters of an hour, freely forgiving all men, even his greatest enemies, begging most earnestly for the deliverance of Sion from all her persecutors, particularly praying for London, Edenburgh and Dublin, from which the Streams run that rule God’s People in these three nations.

Being asked some hours before his execution, if he thought not his sentence dreadful? He answered, he wished he had a limb for every town in Christendom.’

For more on Richard “Hannibal” Rumbold, see here.

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Additional 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 December 19, 2017.

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