Produced by the Scottish Reformation Society in 1986. ‘Outlaws For Freedom’ is presented by the Reverend A. Sinclair Horne. He would later present ‘In the Steps of the Covenanters’ for STV in 1990. He was also the coauthor with J. B. Hardie of In the Steps of the Covenanters (1974).
The title of the programme is taken from Hector MacPherson’s book of the same title.
It begins with general views of Edinburgh from Calton Hill and later near the Magdelan Chapel on the Cowgate.
It then moves to Greyfriars Kirk where the Covenant was proclaimed, with an aside about Greyfriars Bobby. Mention is made of Alexander Henderson and then the clashes between John Knox with Mary, Queen of Scots, and Andrew Melville with James VI., laying out the “Two Kingdoms” Theory.
It then moves on to the Prayer Book Riot of 1637 and Henderson at Leuchars. Horne deploys Alexander Shields’ later phrase that the Covenant was ‘the Magna Carta of Scotland’. The scene moves back to Greyfriars for the subscription of the Covenant.
It briefly skips over the next twenty years via Charles II’s reluctant taking of the Covenant to the execution of the Marquess of Argyll, the sufferings of Samuel Rutherford, minster of Anwoth, and James Guthrie’s death at Edinburgh’s mercat cross.
Their martyrdoms are among those recorded on the Covenanters’ Monument in Greyfriars (erected by James Currie in 1706). The ‘18,000′ claim on the monument, at least in terms of “murders/executions”, is vastly inflated.
It then moves to the post-Restoration field preaching struggle, mentioning Benhar(?) where Alexander Peden possibly preached in Lanarkshire, Skeoch Hill, where the Irongray Communion was held, and the Cargill Stone at Maybole, where Donald Cargill preached in 1681.
The programme then covers the death of John Law at Newmilns, the killing of Arthur Inglis, with a rare image of his gravestone erected in 1837 in Old Cambusnethan graveyard, and the death of John Brown in Priesthill in front of his wife, Isobel Weir. She had been warned of the event by Peden in 1682. Brown was summarily executed by John Graham of Claverhouse on 1 May, 1685. Where the image of ‘the cottage’ used by the programme comes from is not known, as Priesthill has been a ruin for a very, very long time. The “last martyr” is reputedly George Wood, who was killed near Sorn in 1688.
Horne also covers the drowning of the Wigtown Martyrs, Margaret McLauchlan and Margaret Wilson, on 11 May 1685, who were executed for refusing the Abjuration oath renouncing the Societies’ ‘war’ of assassinations, rather than just for ‘attending conventicles’. Images are shown of the martyrs’ graves at Wigtown of the two women and three men hanged there.
The monuments at Dalgarnoc, Lanark and the Grassmarket in Edinburgh (which is now much changed from 1986) are also featured. The executions of Donald Cargill (1681) and James Renwick (1688) are briefly discussed.
Back in the Magdalen Chapel, Horne conducts a wonderful interview with the Reverend George Hossock (1914–1998) about the Covenanters, before embarking on a mainly religious conclusion.
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