A Ritual Execution in Lesmahagow in August, 1685 #History #Scotland


After the execution of Richard Rumbold on 26 June, 1685, the militant Society people struck back with a ritual execution in the place where he was captured, Lesmahagow. In August:

‘At this tyme, we had ane account of a barbarous murder committed by the phanatique Whigs at Lesmahaigo, on Mark Ker, bailzie their, for assisting to take Rumbold: it was said a sone, freind, or servant of Rumbold’s was with them, they called for his pistoll and whinger which he had tane at his disarming, and with the whinger rip’t up his belly, and took out his heart, as Rumbold was used.’ (Fountainhall, Historical Observes, 217.)

Rumbold’s brutal execution in Edinburgh had involved his heart being removed.

According to a history of Dalserf parish, Baillie Mark Kerr lived at Hailstonemyre, near Larkhall. That may have been the site of the killing.

Map of Hailstonemyre

According to Howie of Lochgoin:

‘Mark Kerr, one of the principal actors, and who said to wound him after he was taken, and who, it is said, got his sword, was afterwards killed on a summer-evening [in August, 1685] at his own door, (or run through by the same sword,) by two young men who called themselves Colonel Rombol[d]’s sons; and, as it is said, went off without so much as a dog moving his tongue against them’. (Howie, The Judgment and Justice of God Exemplified, 55.)

Providential Judgements on those who took Rumbold
In addition to Kerr, Five men from Arran’s Militia were involved in the capture of Rumbold. They were rewarded by King James VII:

‘The King […] to incouradge his souldiers, he declares, he will give the 5 militia men of Arran’s regiment, in Cliddisdale, who […] took Rumbold prisoner, the 500 lb. sterling he had promised, by his English declaration, for any to take him, and if they ware dead, ther wives, children, or nearest of kin, should get it sequally amongs them.’ (Fountainhall, Historical Observes, 203.)

Presumably, those five Lanarkshire men were considerably richer when the reward, the equivalent of £1,200 Scots each, was paid to them. However, John Howie of Lochgoin recorded that they all suffered providential judgments against them in the years that followed.

Craignethan Castle

Mair’s Fall at Criagnethan Castle
‘George Mair, being abroad [after the capture], when returning [home], wandered and fell over Craignethen craigs, got one of his limbs broke, and stuck in a thicket, and when found next day, was speechless; and so died in that condition.’ (Howie, The Judgment and Justice of God Exemplified, 56.)

Mair was injured by a fall over Craignethan Craigs at Craignethan Castle.

Map of Craignethan Craigs

‘George Mair of Pouneille, valued to £130 [Scots], also tenant n 82 lib. valuation in Milton, being taken at the highest capacity as heritor’ appears on the Poll Tax record for Lesmahagow parish of 1695, as do his wife Margaret Weir and son James Mair. (Greenshields, Annals of Lesmahagow Parish, 169.)

Mair was an upstanding member of the local community and presumably died after 1704, as on 2 October, 1704, ‘George Mair in Poneels’, the laird of Craignethan and other heritors attended a meeting at Lesmahagow Kirk with Thomas Linning regarding the provision of a manse. (Greenshields, Annals of Lesmahagow Parish, 145-6.)

He lived Poneil in Lesmahagow parish

Map of Poneil

Wilson and the Loft
No location was given for the collapse of a loft that dealt a mortal blow to one Wilson:

‘One —– Wilson was killed by the fall of a loft.’ (Howie, The Judgment and Justice of God Exemplified, 56.)

If Wilson sank his reward into property (which is likely) and lived in Lesmahagow parish (which is possible), he may appear on the Poll Tax roll of 1695. It lists several individuals of that name.

Netherton Hamilton

At the Netherton of Hamilton
‘Another in Hamilton (commonly called the long lad of the Nethertown) got his leg broken, which no physician could cure; and so corrupted, that scarce any person, for the stink, could come near him’. (Howie, The Judgment and Justice of God Exemplified, 56.)

The Netherton Cross formerly stood in Hamilton Low Parks and lay close to where the Netherton lay in Hamilton parish.

Birkwood Blackwood Kirkmuirhill

Weir in Birkwood
‘[William Weir of Birkwood (fl.1691-1702)?] fell from his horse, and was killed; and his son, [William Weir, younger of Birkwood (fl.1702?] not many years ago, was killed by a fall down a stair in drink after a dre[d]gy.’ (Howie, The Judgment and Justice of God Exemplified, 56.)

A dispute over church seating between William Weir of Birkwood and the laird of Blackwood was mediated by Thomas Linning in late 1691. He also carried a call to a minister in 1702. (Greenshields, Annals of Lesmahagow Parish, 108, 130, 138, 143.)

Weir of Birkwood lived at Nether Birkwood, near Kirkmuirhill in Lesmahagow parish.

Map of Nether Birkwood        Street View of Nether Birkwood

“Gavin Hamilton”
The final receiver of the reward is disputed in the sources. According to Lord Fountainhall, ‘———– Hamilton of Raploch younger’ led the small group of Arran’s militia that captured Rumbold, i.e., William, the eldest son of the sheriff-depute of Lanarkshire. However, other versions of the text omit the word ‘younger’, which may indicate that it was his father, the notorious Gavin Hamilton of Raploch. It is also possible that it was Raploch’s other son, Gavin Hamilton of Hill, who captured Rumbold.

Gavin Hamilton of Hill was alive, married and had children in the Poll Tax roll of 1695.

According to Howie of Lochgoin, who wrote decades later:

‘Gavin Hamilton, who got his buff coat, (out of which Rumbol’s blood could by no means be washed), lived a good while after a wicked and vicious life; yet his name and memory is become extinct, and the place of his habitation is razed out, and become a plain field.’ (Howie, The Judgment and Justice of God Exemplified, 56.)

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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 December 26, 2017.

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