Covenanter Grave Fenwick (Gemmell) #History #Scotland

Peter Gemmel Bobby Guthrie

Patrick (aka., Peter) Gemmell, Fenwick, Fenwick parish, Ayrshire. Died 1685.

Shields in 1690:
‘Lieu: Nisbet and his Party shot to death John Ferguson, George Whiteburn, and Patrick Gemmil in the parish of Finnick, the said year, 1685.’ (A Short Memorial, 37.)

Stone erected 1702-1714. Inscription:
‘Here lies the Corps of peter Gemmel who was Shot to death by Nisbet and his party, 1685 for bearing his faithful Testimony to the Cause of Christ, aged 21years.

This man like holy Anchorites of old
For conscience sake was thrust from house and hold
Bloody thirsty red coats cut his prayers short
And ev’n his dying groans were made their sport
Ah Scotland breach of solemn vows repent
Or bloody crimes will bring thy punishment’

Based on Shields. The names Peter and Patrick are interchangeable. It adds the detail that he was aged twenty-one.

The grave was recorded the first edition of Cloud of Witnesses (1714), but those pages are missing in the copy held by the National Library of Scotland. The following lines come from the second edition of 1720, which copied the first edition:
‘Upon the gravestone there, lying on the corps of Peter Gemmel, who was shot to death by the same Nisbet and his party, Anno 1685’.

If we compare this gravestone to the form of that of Fergushill and Woodburn and the form of that of James White in the same churchyard, it is clear that it is probably the original 1702-1714 stone and, unike the other others, was not replaced in 1822 to 1829.

Peter Gemmel Bobby Guthrie 2

What is recorded on the reverse of the stone (above) tells us that the original 1702-1714 stone may have been reused as it lists probable decedents/kin of Patrick Gemmill, who were, presumably, from Fenwick parish and thus buried in the graveyard at later dates in the Eighteenth Century.

Two of the martyrs’ gravestones in Fenwick parish churchyard appear to have replaced the original 1702-1714 stones in the 1820s. In that respect, they cannot be of utility when it comes to a comparison with other Covenanter gravestones that have no date. However, the stone to Gemmell may offer clues as to what the original versions of the gravestones of White and Fergushill/Woodburn looked like.

Map of rough location of the Gravestone at Fenwick Parish Church

What3Words (rough location)
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Photographs of the Covenanters’ gravestone at Fenwick are © Copyright Bobby Guthrie @AftonKillie and are reproduced by his very kind permission.

~ by drmarkjardine on May 9, 2020.

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