The Pentland Rising of 1666: The Heads of the Executed in Edinburgh on 7 December #History #Scotland

Covenanter Heads Pentland Rising 1666

What happened to the heads of the ten Covenanters executed in Edinburgh on 7 December is a curious story. All ten were beheaded for their part in the Pentland Rising of 1666.

Around 50 were killed in the Pentland Rising at the Battle of Rullion Green on 28 November, 1666, including two ministers. A memorial stone to the dead was erected in 1738.

Others died a little after the battle. The mysterious grave at Blacklaw in the Pentlands marks where one other died. William Smith in Muirmailing, who is buried at Kirk O’ Shotts, was murdered returning from the battle, but not by government soldiers. Thomas Paterson died of his wounds prior to his trial in Edinburgh and left behind a testimony. John Gordon of Largmore died of his wounds in Kells parish on 6 January, 1667.

Thirty-five men were tried and executed for taking part in the Pentland Rising and one more was summarily executed at Newmilns. The first ten to be executed were in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Mercat Cross Pavement

Ten were executed on 7 December 1666 at Edinburgh’s Mercat Cross.
Prior to their execution, Major MacCulloch and all the others subscribed a joint testimony. During their executions, their right hands were cut off and sent to Lanark, where the Covenants had been attested to during the rising.

Water Gate Edinburgh Holyrood

The head of the following martyr was spiked on the Watergate of Edinburgh, close to Holyrood.

1. Captain Andrew Arnot, was the younger brother of Laird of Lochridge in Stewarton parish, Ayrshire.
There is no gravestone for him, beyond the collective monument in Greyfriars’ churchyard, Edinburgh. He left behind an individual martyrs’ testimony.

Nearly twenty years later, the rebel Richard Rumbold entered through the same gate.

But what of the other heads? Where were they sent?

Two Heads to Kilmarnock
The heads of the following two martyrs were sent to be displayed in the burgh of Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

2. John Ross in Mauchline parish, Ayrshire.
A gravestone was erected where the heads of Ross and Shields were buried between 1702 and 1714. The stone recorded in the first edition of Cloud of Witnesses. The grave containing their heads is in the Laigh Kirk burial ground and was restored in 1823.

Nether Pollock Titwood.JPG

3. John Shields, tenant in Titwood, Renfrewshire.
He was said to be a tenant of Maxwell of Nether Pollock. Titwood lay in part of Govan parish in Renfrewshire, which is close to Pollock House. Shields left behind a martyrs’ testimony.

Three Heads to Kirkcudbright
The heads of the following three martyrs were sent from Edinburgh to be displayed on the Meikle Yett at Kirkcudbright, the chief burgh of the shire that they were from:

4. Major John MacCulloch of Barholm, Kirkmabreck parish, Kirkcudbrightshire.
No grave for his head is recorded in Cloud of Witnesses. His son, Hugh aka. Henry MacCulloch of Barholm, was forfeited for his part in the Bothwell Rising of 1679.

Map of Barholm Castle

5. John Gordon of Knockbrex, Borgue parish, Kirkcudbrightshire.
No grave for his head is recorded in Cloud of Witnesses. However, what was said to be his head, or that of his brother, was rediscovered buried below an old Ash tree at Knockbrex in 1905. However, recenty the head was said to be that of an elderly woman. ‘Agnes Gordone’ in Knockbrex was accused of hiding fugitives in 1684.

Map of Knockbrex

6. Robert Gordon, brother to John Gordon of Knockbrex, in Borgue parish, Kirkcudbrightshire.
No grave for his head is recorded in Cloud of Witnesses.

geograph-3812846-by-Elliott-Simpson

Four Heads to Hamilton
The heads of the following four martyrs were sent to be displayed at the burgh of Hamilton in Lanarkshire. A gravestone to their heads was erected at Hamilton between 1702 and 1714 which was recorded in the first edition of Cloud of Witnesses.

7. Gavin Hamilton in Mauldslie, Carluke parish, Lanarkshire
Hamilton lived in the Clyde Valley.

Map of Mauldslie

8. James Hamilton, tenant in Kittymuir, Stonehouse parish, Lanarkshire.
A ‘Margaret Grainger, widow in Kittymuir’, Stonehouse parish, was captured by Lieutenant James Murray in 1686 after attending one of James Renwick’s preachings.

Map of Kittymuir

9. Christopher Strang, tenant in Kilbride parish, Lanarkshire.
A gravestone to his head and the heads of the three other was erected at Hamilton between 1702 and 1714 which was recorded in the first edition of Cloud of Witnesses. A ‘James Strang, in Lickprevik’, appears on the published Fugitive Roll of 1684 under Kilbride parish. Today, Lickprevick has vanished below East Kilbride

Map of former site of Lickprevik

10. John Parker, waulker in Busby in Kilbride parish, Lanarkshire.
A gravestone to his head and the heads of the three other was erected at Hamilton between 1702 and 1714 which was recorded in the first edition of Cloud of Witnesses. A ‘James Park[er?], in Brisbea’ appeared on the published Fugitive Roll of 1684 under Kilbride parish.

In the seventeenth century, Busby lay on the east side of the White Cart (possibly in a detached enclave of Cathcart parish) by Kilbride parish. Parker probably lived and worked at the waulk mill of Busbymill by the White Cart. The site was later occupied by Busby Print Works.

One of the above ten Pentland Covenanters, but probably not Captain Arnot, issued an individual martyrs’ testimony.

A week later, the executions continued. Four more Pentland rebels were executed in Edinburgh

 

~ by drmarkjardine on December 7, 2018.

6 Responses to “The Pentland Rising of 1666: The Heads of the Executed in Edinburgh on 7 December #History #Scotland”

  1. Dear Dr Jardine,

    Thank you for all the wonderful work you are doing – and so kindly sharing to a most appreciative audience. My own ancestors are the Gordons of Knockbrex (Alexander the brother of Robert and John, both d1666, as below, and his son Samuel Gordon of Knockbrex bc1674 and sister Agnes Gordon of Knockbrex, as below, who I would love to discover more detail about, as I knew that Knockbrex was raided and stripped of all assets in 1684 but hadn’t realized why).

    Other ancestors on your lists are the Arnots (Alexander Gordon of Knockbrex’s wife was Jean Arnot, ‘sister of David’, acc. to R C Reid’s research) and the Hunters of Balaggan/Balagan etc., who I have discovered little about and have only been able to trace loosely before around 1700, but would love to learn more (some had settled in Glencairn parish by then).

    Other direct ancestors of mine are Cutlar, Black, Young of Gulliehill/Auchenskeoch, McKean(d) – all of parishes on or close to the Solway.

    Your information is of great help to me, especially as I am able to visit SW Scotland only occasionally and Edinburgh only every few years. If you have done any further research, involving any of these families, that you would be generous enough to allow me to access in some way, or could perhaps tell me where to look or apply to, I would be most grateful to hear from you.

    With many thanks,

    Kind regards,

    Pam Knight (Hunter)

  2. […] week after ten men were executed in Edinburgh for their part in the Pentland Rising of 1666, four more Covenanters were hanged in […]

  3. […] The Dumfries martyrs were the last of 36 Covenanters executed for the Pentland Rising on 1666. To see the first ten executed and find out what happened to their heads, see the first post here. […]

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