Covenanters Against The Union: The Call to John MacMillan in 1706 #History #Scotland

•July 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Just as the Union Crisis was coming to a head in Scotland in 1706, the “Continuing” United Societies met at Crawfordjohn in Lanarkshire on 2 October and subscribed a call to John MacMillan to become their minister. At first sight, the list of thirty-two names who subscribed the call appears unremarkable. However, when you delve deeper into it, the list becomes far more interesting…

What it reveals is who actually ran the United Societies at the height of the Union Crisis in 1706. In many cases, those people had run the Societies for years, and in few cases, some individuals reach back to the Killing Times of the 1680s. They where the men who decided whether the Societies joined a rising against the Union, or not, between 1706 and 1708. They were the people whose actions a panicky government was afraid of. It is worth knowing who they were, as for a crucial moment, the fate of the Union was partially in their hands. If they had risen, especially alongside the Hebronites, disaffected Presbyterians and possibly, although not necessarily, the Jacobites, it difficult to see how the parliament in Edinburgh that was passing the Union would not have been abandoned and the political momentum of the elite changed. What we know is that those who ran Scotland, or spies like Daniel Defoe, John Ker of Kersland and John Pierce, did everything they could to ensure that the “Continuing” United Societies/MacMillanites, the Hebronites and disaffected presbyterians in the West did not rise.

One question which is rarely asked is, was it wise to issue a call to John MacMillan at that moment, at the very moment, of the Union Crisis? The standard Presbyterian story of MacMillan is that he was an uncompromising minister of the Church of Scotland who left it due to his principles to minister to the Society people. Was he as uncompromising as the legend of him? In truth, the answer is no. MacMillan certainly had principles, but he often tacked towards maintianing his association with the Kirk, i.e., established order. He was later married by a church minister and he later, again, recognised the rule of George I much to the dismay of many in the “Continuing” Societies who left him. There was nothing wrong with compromising, but the “Continuing” Society people had been founded on not compromising with the Erastian state by Robert Hamilton. He had always had a nose for ideological weakness, whether writers at the time believed he was a fruit cake or not. He died several years before MacMillan was issued with a call. If one looks back at the history of the Society people, they had occasionally issued calls to ministers that some in their ranks, including many Hamilton considered to be ideologically suspect, e.g., Alexander Peden, John Hepburn, William Boyd and Thomas Linning, etc. Was John MacMillan any different from that pattern? No. However, an intriguing question remains: why was the call issued at the moment of the Union crisis in late 1706? I will leave that open.

Those who subscribed the call to MacMillan were:

John Currie, elder, who was from Tinwald parish in Nithsdale. He subscribed a personal Covenant at Carse of the Water of Ae in 1681.

William Stewart, elder, from Galloway. A Societies’ delegate in March 1689.

David Jardine in Applegarth parish, Annandale.

James Mundell from Nithsdale.

John Bell from Tinwald, Nithsdale.

John Glover. Perhaps the fugitive in 1684 from Barrshill, Tinwald parish, Nithsdale.

Thomas Brown. Possibly from Nithsdale.

John Robson.

John Bryce.

William Hannah. Probably from Tundergarth parish, Annandale.

John Knox.

Joseph Francis in Irvine, Ayrshire.

Hugh Dickie in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.

James Currie in Pentland, Lasswade parish, Edinburghshire.

Charles Umpherston in Pentland, Lasswade parish, Edinburghshire.

James Brigton, who was from in, or near, Edinburgh, Edinburghshire.

Duncan Forbes in Bo’ness. Probably the fugitive in 1684 in Queensferry, Dalmeny parish.

John McVey.

William Swanston in Tweeddale.

John Hislop.

John Grieve in Annandale.

James Donaldson in Eskdalemuir parish, Eskdale.

James Cargill.

Francis Graham.

Robert Barrie.

Robert Maxwell from Renfrewshire.

John Muir from Lanarkshire. A delegate for the Netherward of Clydesdale in March 1689.

John Stanley.

John Paterson, perhaps from Kincardine parish, Perthshire. Or perhaps from Pennyvenie?

Thomas Milns.

Mr Robert Smith, preses of the General Meeting, had studied at Glasgow and Groningen. He later withdrew from McMillan over his ‘sinful acknowledgement’ of George I.

Robert Hamilton, clerk of the General Meeting, from Lanarkshire.

H. M. B. Reid is his A Cameronian Apostle (1896) continues:

‘Thirty-two names in all appear above. From Mr. J. H. Thomson’s notes [in the Reformed Presbyterian Magazine of 1869] regarding them, some interesting particulars may be gleaned.

John Currie, whose name heads the list, had been “cast out of house and hold in Tinwald, Dumfriesshire, for not complying with prelacy.” He drew up a curious personal “covenant” with God, which is reprinted in the Reformed Presbytetian Magazine for 1869. It was taken at “Carse of the Water of Ae, Sept. 15, 1681.”

Charles Umpherston had been intended for the ministry, and was one of four young men chosen by the Societies in 1699 to be sent at their expense to Holland, in order to obtain license and ordination. The establishment, however, of full communion between the Dutch Reformed Church and the Church of Scotland rendered this design null, and Umpherston became a “surgeon” in Pentland. He was the most active literary agent of the Societies. His quaint tract on the Wolf in a Sheepskin has already been referred to, and is the sole existing authority on [John] Macmillan’s last days. We shall have occasion ere long to reproduce its very touching record of these closing moments. Umpherston died in 1758, aged 80.

James Currie also lived in Pentland. His name may be read on the Martyrs’ Monument in Greyfriars Churchyard, Edinburgh. “This tomb was erected by James Currie, Merch[an]t. in Pentland, and others.” Both he and his wife, Helen Alexander, left behind them short autobiographies, or “Passages” in their lives, which are extant in a printed form. They had been married by [James] Renwick, and in the wife’s little narrative the following occurs, which Mr. J. H. Thomson quotes : —

“And when Mr. Renwick was execute, I went and saw him in prison. And I said to him, Ye will get the white robes; and he said, And palms in my hands. And when he was execute, I went into the Greyfriars’ Yard, and I took him in my arms till his clothes were taken off, and I helped to wind him before he was put in his coffin.”

Robert Smith, who presided on this memorable occasion, had studied at Glasgow and Groningen, where he took his degree. He transcribed many of Guthrie and [Donald] Cargill’s sermons for the Lochgoin Collection. At a later date he withdrew from Macmillan’s ministry, on the ground of an alleged “sinful acknowledgment” of George I. He and James Mundell, another signatory, are in Calderwood’s Dying Testimonies.’ (Reid, A Cameronian Apostle, 145-6.)

The Battle of Muirdykes, 1685: Erskine of Carnock’s Version #History #Scotland

•June 24, 2017 • Leave a Comment


On 28 June, 1685, while he was in hiding at Gribloch, John Erskine of Carnock heard from a participant in the Battle of Muirdykes, which was fought on Thursday 18 June:

‘I met with James Bruce, who gave me an account of the parting of Sir John Cochran, Sir Patrick Home, and other gentlemen, with about fourscore men, two days after they had fought with three or four troops, and killed Captain [William] Cleland with some others, being advertised by a gentleman that it was impossible for them to keep longer together, severall thousands of the forces gathering about them, so they parted about two miles from Renfrew [at Blackstoun on 20 June], with this resolution that every one of them should with the first opportunity join to the first standing party of their friends; that failing, some resolved to go into England to Monmouth.’ (Erskine, Journal, 132.)

Erskine’s account gives a slightly lower estimate than Polwarth’s account for the number of men in Cochrane’s force. Erskine records ‘about’ 80 men with accompanying gentlemen, while Polwarth estimated ‘in all about 100 men’. He provides corroboration that Lord Fountainhall was correct when he stated that this fragment of Argyll’s forces parted at Blackstoun, which lies near Renfrew.

Map of Blackstoun

For further accounts of the Battle of Muirdykes, see the versions of Patrick Hume of Polwarth, Lord Fountainhall, George Brysson and his escape after it, and the visit of Maxwell of Cardoness to the field.

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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

Finding “Lost” Landscapes of the Covenanters in Galloway: Making #History. #Scotland

•June 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Can you find some ‘lost’ historical sites and landscapes of the Covenanters in Galloway? These places used to live in the imaginations of folk in Galloway, but now have mostly slipped beyond memory. None of them are in the guidebooks. This is your chance to explore these evocative sites. This is a chance for you to make History by finding and photographing them. All of the “lost” sites, below, still exist, but are rarely visited and no photographs of them appear online. What they look like is a mystery that needs resolving. Can you find and photograph them? That way knowledge of them can be shared with others and perhaps they may live in the imagination again …

Below you will find three field preaching sites, two Whig holes, one of which is a large cave, and a secluded glen. Some lie not far from the roadside, some require fortitude or good boots and a bit of forward planning. I hope you can help.

From west to east in Galloway the sites are:

Nick of Liberty

1. Alexander Peden’s Field Preaching site at Nick Of The Liberty, north of New Luce.

Recently rediscovered in the OS name book, this “lost” field preaching site of Alexander “Prophet” Peden possibly has a standing stone. Peden was the outed minister of New Luce parish and probably illegally preached at the Nick Of The Liberty in 1682 and/or 1685.

This site is certainly one for the more intrepid walker who knows maps. The Nick Of The Liberty lies to the east of the hill called Beneraird, from which it will be visible. If approaching from Galloway, it is best approached via the path north of Lagafater Lodge. The path climbs for about 2.5km to near the summit of the hill called Beneraird, the Nick lies to the east of Beneraird.

For the full story and details of the Nick Of The Liberty site, see here. Technically, this site lies in Ayrshire, but it is literally on/just across the Galloway boundary.

According to the OS name book, it was ‘a flat patch of moss between Beneraird and [the hills of Kilmoray/]Benaw. It is said that the Rev. Alexander Peden the celebrated Minister at the time of the Covenanters preached here on Several occasions.’

The Nick Of The Liberty is a flat patch of moss between the hills. Although unlisted on the Canmore database of historical sites, a standing stone stood there (see map above) near the head waters of the Main Water of Luce. It is possible that Peden preached near the stone, as it may have been a feature that people attending the field preaching could have been directed to in the flat patch of moss.

The standing stone at Nick Of The Liberty stood near
NX 144 785
214434, 578508
-4.90757, 55.06626

If anyone could find and photograph the Nick Of The Liberty (which certainly exists), or the standing stone (that might exist), it would be of great service putting Peden back into the landscape.

Map of Nick Of The Liberty

If you are interested in finding other lost Alexander Peden sites in Ayrshire, see here.

2. The Cameronian Field Preaching Site at the hill called Brocklock, near Newton Stewart.

At the top of small hill named Brocklock to the north of the A75 west of Newton Stewart and the River Bladnoch is a hollow where the Cameronian Society people/Covenanters are said to have worshipped during the repression of the 1680s.

According to the OS name book ‘Brockloch’, now Brocklock, was:

‘A Small, arable Hill North of the Road leading from Kirkcowan to Newtonstewart & about two miles from Kirkcowan. its E[ast] & W[est] as well as its N[orth] & S[outh] Sides, are very prominent, & each gradually sloping towards the centre forms a basin-like hollow, in which the Cameronian Sect, in the time of the Episcopalian persecution [of the 1680s] are Said to have assembled for divine Worship.’

Presumably, the hollow still survives. Can you find and photograph it?

Map of Brocklock



3. The ‘Preaching Howe’ near Newton Stewart.

Not far from Brocklock (above) is the Preaching Howe, which also lies to the north of the A75 west of Newton Stewart. It was probably where the famous Covenanter John Welsh of Irongray field preached in the late 1670s. According to the OS name book, the Preaching Howe is ‘a small hollow in which it is supposed the Covenanters assembled for Worship during the time of the Conventicles, or, as it is commonly termed in the country “during the persecution”.’

The hollow still survives. Can you find and photograph it?



Whigs Hole Kirkmabrack

4. The Whig’s Hole at Barholm, south of Creetown.
Is this a photograph of the Whig’s Hole at Barholm?


The Whig’s Hole centre? Photograph taken at low tide.

The Whig’s Hole lies off the A75 well to the south of Newton Stewart and beyond Creetown. It lies at the foot of the Heughs of Barholm by the rocky foreshore of the tidal Kirkdale Sands. It is just to the south-east of a cave known as Meg Merrilees Cave/Dick Hatteraick’s Cave, aka. The ‘Cove of Barholm’.


Meg Merrilees Cave/Dick Hatteraick’s Cave on left, the Whig’s Hole on right? Photograph taken at low tide.

According to Barbour’s Unique Traditions of Scotland, there are three caves, as pictured above: ‘The one next to Kirkdale [on the left] bears the name of the Cove of Barholm; that in the middle, the Kaa’s Cave; and the third [on the right], since the days of Charles II., has been named the Whigs’ Hole.’

Caution: The foreshore here is tidal and the Whig’s Hole lies only three feet above the high tide mark. It is probably best to go on a reasonable day and when it is not high tide. Do not be reckless. You can check the tide times for the nearby Ravenshall Point here.

For a practical guide to some of the difficulties of approaching from the road, see the Glebe blog here, that explored the fascinating Cove of Barholm/Merrilees Cave/Dick Hatteraick’s Cave, which lies beside the Whig’s Hole.

Clearly entering a cave is risky. Take a light.

The Whig’s Hole as marked on the 25″ map of c.1900.

Map of the location of the Whig’s Hole

For further details of the Whig’s Hole and the traditional stories connected with it, see here.

Can you find and photograph this secret hiding place of the Covenanters?

5. College Glen, near Moniaive or St Johns Town of Dalry.
The College Glen lies a little off the B729 and roughly half way between Moniaive and St Johns Town of Dalry. According to the OS name book, College Glen is ‘a glen or hollow on the farm of Fingland. It is traditionally handed down that the persecuted Presbyterians used to hold some of their meetings here in the time their persecution [in the 1680s].’

Map of College Glen


Can you find and photograph this secluded place of worship?

Whigs Hole Altry

6. Whig’s Hole on Altry Hill, north of St Johns Town of Dalry.
The Whig’s Hole , or ‘Whighole’, was a secret hiding place of the Covenanters that lies high on the slopes of Altry Hill. For the full story of the Whig’s Hole, see here.

This site is one for experienced walkers as it is a bit of a challenge. It is not far from a road, but is up a steep climb and may involve crossing the Water of Ken and/or The Altry Burn depending on your approach. It is certainly one for a good day and for when the burns are not in spate.

Map of the Whig’s Hole

The “whighole” was first recorded in the Old Statistical Account of the 1790s:

‘On the farm of Altrye, near the top of a hill, there is a trench which seems to have been digged, capable of containing 100 people. As in this trench one has a view of two different roads, at a comfortable distance, without being observed by those persons who travel upon them; the Whigs or the Cameronians, as they are usually styled, are said to have frequently made use of it during the time of the persecution in Scotland, both as a place of refuge, and of observation. Hence it obtained the name of the Whighole, which it bears to this day.’

The site of the ‘Whighole’ lies above the farm of Lorg, aka, Lorgfoot, which was the home Daniel McMichael, one of the original “Cameronians”, a proclaimed traitor and activist in the Society people.

The Whig’s Hole is also supposed to be the spot where two Covenanters, Margaret Gracie and George Allan, were killed, however, those stories are almost certainly made up. The earliest surviving traditions about the Whig’s Hole, or ‘Whighole’, do not mention their deaths at all.

Can you find and photograph this secret Covenanters’ hideout?

If you find and photograph any of these sites, please get in touch via jardinesbookofmartyrs [at] or via my twitter account @drmarkjardine. Full credit for any discovery will be given to you.

Good luck,


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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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

A Letter To A Martyr in 1680 #History #Scotland

•June 10, 2017 • 2 Comments


The following letter was sent, probably by the field preacher Donald Cargill, to a captured Covenanter awaiting execution in Edinburgh, probably in 1680. From the context in which the letter is found, with another letter to Archibald Stewart and John Potter, it is possible that the letter may have been sent to James Skene in November, 1680. The letter asks him to give testimony to the Queensferry paper and in his gallows speech Skene gave testimony to ‘Mr Donald Cargill’s papers, taken at the Queensferry, call a New Covenant, according as they agree to the true original copy’.

‘Dear Brother,—If my soul could be assistant to you in your suffering, it wold; and though kindness to suffer[er]s be our duty, yet it is somtims their prejudice for as me[n] bestow he holds in, knowing we cannot bear both, so that quhen we ar served by creatures, we ar like on getting in their debts from severall hands in smalls, quher we must sit doun and spend and drink a part with every one; and though this way in the time may content them, yet they know not so well quhat good it does them. Turn to him quher you shall have it better, swetter and surer. Besid sufferers so upheld ar never sure, for we may be outbiden, and quhen we loss our martyr, our witness, our saint, for these that corns not of martyrs ceases from most part to be saints. Woes us that we can nether shew nor receive kindness without danger; and though we cannot do, this is our comfort that he hath done at our intreatie; and let it be your comfort that, though all should stand aloof, he is neer quhois infinite in love, compassion, power and tenderness.

But think ye not to find out his goodness so much by the way he takes, as by the end he aimes at and the work he effectuats. His way be sharpe quhen his end is good; his way be banishments, prisons, scaffolds, and his end purifleing, perfiting, glorifying. And as the heart is casten down with the on, so it is raised up by the other. And, undoubtly, non can be so content as they should be with God in his sharp dispensations, quho finds not in experience their good working, and see it in hope perfiting, and I think you can hardly mistake God or gurg with dispensations. He sent you already to prison to begine it, and you ought to think that he hath sent you again to prison to increase if not to prefect it, and there non that knows the greatnes of that benefits but would joyfully receive it, tho it wer to be effectual throw a thousand years of the extreamest sufferings of a sinless hell. And yet, it will be a thousand to on if ye once fall not out with your crosse, and it also raak you think litle of that kindness that intends his onn glory and your good in all this, and all your enemie will labour to have your heart discourted with providence, so to have your consciences disquieted with challengs. I will not say that challengs for sin at such a time is only from Satan, though it be not ordinary with God to be sor in both (I mean sufferings and challengs) at on time; and though it be not his time of craving debt, yet let it be your time of seeking pardon. And I am perswaded if God charge you with debt at such a time, it is to put you to seek pardon, that he may gratify your sufferings with a free remission of all. But Satan may challeng you anent the cause of your sufferings, your call and entery to your sufferings, your carriag and testimony under them and anent your other personall evills; ye must go throw all thir with your selfe (though not for Satan), and for your own peace, for we must not only pray this doun which we will have oft to do over again. I but answer them in silence, which gives them the greatest dash, and us the longst and surest peace, and that ye find cannot be auswred should not be kept but discairded. A word then of each of them.

As to the first, this generation cannot get a cause larg enough for their bit sufferings (tho the least of its truths be a suficent cause, in holy Christ’s esteem, of the gretest sufferings); but it is like they shall niether be greater (I do not say that there will not be greater indignities don to him, greater invasions mad on his prerogatives, and greater alterations in religion, for all these may be greater, and not greater to them) causes, nor be more called to take up his crose, for as it hath been befor, Take up my cross; it may be after this, Take up your judgments, that your other sins and refusing of his cross hath procured. But as to the cause of your sufferings, the following and avowing the publick wrongs of God against the inhabitions and edicts of men, as it was in old the visible distinguishing characters betwixt pagans and Christians, so it is at this time a distinguishing characters betwixt these that hath yielded to the usurpations of men, and these quho are standing out and keeping possession for Christ till he return. And I must say, if single and rightly performed, that it is the work this day that is most acceptable and most called for; and the occasion offering, and your health permiting, was a sufficent call to you to be present at that time.

As to the 2d, I have no tim to say any more to it at this time, but this, tho the late papers [i.e., The Queensferry Paper?] and actions were not publickly concluded and consented to yet search them, and, so far as you find in them truth, give your testimony to them, for I am mistaken if the truths of God and the ease of your consciences be not in them, and that which all most be at befor we get our desires, that is, that his wrath depart from us. But I cannot proceed. Grace be with you.

Transcription of D Hay Fleming in ‘Notes on a manuscript volume of Covenanting testimonies, letters, and sermons’, PSAS, (1911), 246-8.

Letter to the Martyrs, Archibald Stewart and John Potter, November, 1680 #History #Scotland

•June 8, 2017 • 1 Comment


The following letter was sent, probably by Donald Cargill, to Archibald Stewart, from Bo’ness, and John Potter, from Uphall, prior to their execution in Edinburgh on 1 December. 1680. Both men had been captured after the Mutton Hole incident and were suspected on the basis of dubious evidence of being part of a gunpowder plot to kill James, Duke of York.

‘Dearest Freinds,—We are comforted in your comforts, and though some have long sadness from these prisons, yet of late it hath followed from that hath refreshed the hearts of sincere and zealous ones, and though we have love to you as our oun life, yet we dare not bid you return from that way quher you see truths and find God. You is much set by by us, and we think there is nothing above that—but God’s glory, which always ought to be highest to a Christian—at present in our souls; and yet we dare not advise you, but quhat we ours selves by God’s grace are would choise if we were in your souls stead, not to retreat on foot, for a temporall lifes protracted for many years, which yet no man by any imaginable probability can promise to himselfe, and fareless can he promise grace to himself to use rightly quhen he hath so gotten it without God’s aprobation. And we see how lifes so redeemed ar.imployed, and the lives of the great part of our ministers and professors may declare, quhonever after that wins to a supleaded living for God’s glory and publick good,but ar his in darkness, deadness and in deit. And I am perswaded, besids,that some fe a years cannot be a great temptation to a devot soul, quho hath the experience of this world’s vanity and the assurance of eternity’s glory; they, knowing som quhat of the vast diferance, cannot but joyfully expect of admission on their part wholy, for to them to live is doubt[less] that we should shew ourselves taking part with Christ quhen wronged, though we should suffere and die for it.

Quhatever men shall put us to upon this account, we may, upon a well grounded peace, beare it; and undoubtly it is not the tenderness of this generation, (for if it were tenderness it would be kything in somequhat else, whereas in nothing at this time true tendernese to kyth in,) but a malignant affection of loyalty, which is highest quhen religion is lowest, and greatest to men quhen they themselves ar worst and in their higest (sic) usurpation, and in their greatest apostacy from and opisition to the Son of God. It must then be from an untenderness and sinfull love of life that men sids with powers, quhen they and Christ ar so sundred that both the on and the other ar crying—Who ar on my side, quho? So that we cannot kyth on their side; but with all incontinently we kyth oposits to him; and as for that which they mainly require, that we acknowledge them, we cannot more acknowiegd them in their capacities quherin they stand, and the power they now exercie, mor than we can acknowledge the power of pope, for they have robbed the [Pope] of his usurped power, and he hath robbed Christ of that quhich is his due power, so that they take it from him and exercises it for him, and will return it to him again.

And that divine quho pretendes so much to know principles, as he saw ecclesiastick persons not to be acknowledged in civill courts, so he might have seen also ecclesiastick power exercised by civill and ecclesiastick persons not to be acknowledged, or at least he might have seen his oun practise nearer to Jesuiticall principalls than ours; but his intent was to shew himselfe loyall, and not religious nor zealous for his wronged Master (if he think him so). But it may be thought, do we not acknowledge their civill power, and decline their ecclesiastick? For answer—It is an ecclesiastick [power] that they have usurped and are obtruded upon us to be acknowledged, to wit, a power that judges of excomunications, quho shall preach and quhat shall be preacht, quhen we shall hear and quhere we shall hear, is, for their civill power, the tirranie they exercise, the enmity against God and his Anointed they shew, the perjury they avow, which, according to our Scots laws, takes away the priviliges of standing in judicatories, much mor a sitting in judgment, dos sufficient to exhonour us of alegeance. As for that other part touching excommunication (which is meerly ecclesiastick, quherof they cannot be judges), if ever any excomunication was just, this is; and so fare orderly as the times and states of affairs will permit, for the consent of the Church cannot be expected in the preturbed state thereof, neither ought it to be waitted for in a declined and corrupted state of the Church. As for other things that they have fristed into your libels, which ar nether your principles nor consequentiall to them, eject and publickely decline them. And for these that hath, been the mean of your beleeving, tho they cannot have a sad heart at your sufferings, yet they do not know themselves to have on ill conscience; and I am perswaded the whole land shall be ether broutght (sic) to the things ye ar now at, or mad to endure worse and harder things if not both.

Dearest freinds, go on then and secure other things, accordingly, that as you have peace in your present quarell because of your suffering, so man may have safty as to your future and eternall state. And as for my part, he hath given me such abundant liberty in your behalfe, that I am perswaded that I shall be imbarked ansred (?) in. the on or other. And blessed be God that I have somquhat quherwith to comfort you and to be comforted anent you, beside the hop of a temporal life; and tho he be able to give you the on as wel as the other, yet let not the hop of this abate ether the ardence in your prepration or the zeal in your testimony, and expect only his mercy in your duty. Go on then kindly morning for your sins, humbly creeping forward to the scepter halden forth, firmly beliving in the sufflciencie of a Saviour for the quenching of all challenges, and for the obtianing of a perfect righteousness, quherby ye may stand unfraid befor his tribunall. And let not the marjowes [i.e., mar joys] of your oun thoughts disturb your peace in beleiving. No more, but grace, mercy and peace be with you.’

Transcription of D Hay Fleming in ‘Notes on a manuscript volume of Covenanting testimonies, letters, and sermons’, PSAS, (1911), 248-49.

Someset’s Article on Some Post-Revolution Scottish Covenanters #History #Scotland

•June 7, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This excellent article by Douglas Somerset cuts through the often confusing tangle of Post-Revolution fragments of the Society people from 1690 to beyond the Union. It makes particular mention of The Sweet Singers/Gibbites, The Russellites (after James Russell), the Cotmuir Folk, Patrick Grant, John Hepburn’s followers and John MacMillan and his followers, the McMillanites, (known earlier as the Hamiltonians after Robert Hamilton.) It is a great piece of work.

Making History: Can You Find Lost Historical Sites in #Scotland? #History

•May 25, 2017 • 2 Comments

Neil Oliver at Gameshope

Can you find lost historical sites connected with the famous Covenanter Alexander Peden? This is a chance for you to make Scottish History by finding and photographing them. Many of the lost sites, below, may, or may not, still exist. That is the mystery that needs resolving. That is the challenge …

Readers of this blog have already rediscovered and photographed lost Covenanter sites such the Peden Stone near Auchensoul Hill, the Peden Stone at Linthills, Peden’s Point near Dalry and The Deil’s Well. So can you.

I am an expert on the Covenanters and I do not know if the sites, below, are still there. All of the clues you will need to seek them out and photograph them are listed here. I truly hope you can help solve these mysteries. If you can, my contact details are at the end of this post.

Pedens Well

Peden’s Well (near Ballantrae, Ayrshire)
Peden’s Well lies to the east of Auchenflower, near Ballantrae in Carrick. The well does not appear on modern OS maps, but did appear on earlier maps, (see image above). The well appears to have been, or still be, sited in the woods to south of the Water of Tig and to the west of the Meikle Glen. Full details about the well can be found here.

Map of Peden’s Well

Approximate location of Peden’s Well

Can you find and photograph it?



Nick of Liberty

Peden’s preaching site at Nick Of The Liberty (near Ballantrae, Ayrshire/ New Luce, Galloway)
A recently rediscovered “lost” field preaching site of Alexander Peden possibly with a standing stone. This is certainly one for the more intrepid walker. The Nick Of The Liberty lies to the east of the hill called Beneraird. It is possibly best approached via the road/path passing Kilwhannel, near Ballantrae, if coming from Ayrshire, or the path north of Lagafater Lodge, well to the north of New Luce, if approaching from Galloway. For the full story and details of the Nick of the Liberty site, see here.

Nick of the Liberty is a flat patch of moss between the hills. Although unlisted on the Canmore database, a standing stone stood there near the head waters of the Main Water of Luce. It is possible that Peden preached there, as it may have been a feature which people attending a preaching could have been directed to and met.

The standing stone at Nick of the Liberty stood near
NX 144 785
214434, 578508
-4.90757, 55.06626

If anyone could find and photograph the Nick of the Liberty (that certainly exists), or the standing stone, it would be a great service to history.

Map of Nick Of The Liberty

Some kilometres to the north-east of the Nick Of The Liberty is another Peden site.



Peden's Mount

Peden’s Mount (near Colmonell, Ayrshire)
Another one for those who like a long walk in the country. Peden’s Mount is marked on the map, but is not photographed due to its remote location. It certainly exists. The following story probably relates to Peden’s Mount.

Map of Peden’s Mount

The full details of Peden’s Mount can be found here. Can you find and photograph it?

Rossetti in Bennan's Cave

Bennans Cave (near Old Dailly, Ayrshire)
A lost Covenanter’s cave somewhere on the Penwhapple Burn below Penkill Castle that reveals the love lives and affairs of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. This cave probably entirely lost to a small land slip, but the cave was quite small and it may have been overlooked. The full story of Bennans Cave can be found here.

Map of approximate location of Bennans Cave

Suspected approximate location of Bennans Cave

Peden’s Pulpit (near Failford, Ayrshire)
Peden’s Pulpit’ lay in Coilsholm Wood and somewhere down the River Ayr from Peden’s Cove. The Cove lies about 1km down the River Ayr Way from Failford, so the Pulpit, which seems to lie down stream from the Cove, should be in the wood beyond the Cove. The Pulpit has been described as a ‘ledge of rock’ in Coilsholm Wood ‘that overlooks a level piece of ground which is enclosed by lofty banks and precipitous cliffs’ and that ‘the green sward’, an area of short grass, below the pulpit was large enough to a body of hearers. A pleasant walk down the River Ayr Way probably passes close to the pulpit. Peden’s Cove lies on The Way. For the full story and details of Peden’s Pulpit, see here.

Map of River Ayr Way

Does Peden’s Pulpit still exist? Can you find and photograph it?

Peden’s Tree (near Sorn, Ayrshire)
Peden’s Tree was described a few years ago as an ‘enormous holly tree’ which stood on the ‘edge of a bluff’ on the Glenlogan estate. It was also described as ‘multi-trunked, and each trunk is of great girth. Many of them are very old indeed.’ Is it still there? It could be. For the full story and details of Peden’s Tree, see here.

Cameron’s Trough (near Sorn, Ayrshire)
While near Sorn, it may be worth seeking out Richard Cameron’s trough, a large stone trough where the field preacher is said to washed for the last time before the Battle of Airds Moss in 1680. The trough was last mentioned over a century ago as located on the farm of Meadowhead. For the full story and details of the trough, see here.

It may still be there. Does it still exist? Can you find and photograph it?

If you find and photograph any of these sites, please get in touch via jardinesbookofmartyrs [at] or via my twitter account @drmarkjardine. Full credit for any discovery will be given to you.

Good night and good luck,


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