Football with a Head, Newmilns Tower and the Killing Times #History #Scotland

•March 30, 2018 • 1 Comment


The New Statistical Account on Newmilns Tower in the Killing Times of 1685:

‘This was Captain [John] Inglis’s head-quarters when in the district. In one of the expeditions of Inglis’ troop [of dragoons led by Cornet Peter Inglis] in the search of conventicles, eight men, who were discovered praying in the Black-wood, near Kilmarnock, were taken prisoners [in March, 1685]. One of them, it is said [called James White], was immediately executed, and soldiers in mockery kicked his head for foot-ball, along the Newmills public green!’

James White Little Blackwood

Map of Newmilns Tower

Inglis was about to shoot the others, when it was suggested to him that it would be prudent to get a written order from Edinburgh for the execution, The seven men, in the meantime, were confined to the old tower [of Newmilns]. But while the troop was absent on one of its bloody raids, with the exception of a small guard, a man named [John] Browning, from Lanfine, with others who had been with him at [the battle of] Airds Moss [in 1680], got large sledge hammers from the old smithy, (still in existence [at Darvel],) with which they broke open the prison doors, and permitted the Covenanters to escape. [Browning, aka., Brounen, was captured hiding at Priesthill on 1 May and hanged at Mauchline.]

John Law, (brother-in-law to Captain [John] Nisbet [of Hardhill],) was shot in this exploit, and is buried close to the wall of the tower.

John Smith Cunningham

The dragoons soon went in pursuit of the prisoners, but they had reached the heather, and there no cavalry could pursue them. The soldiers, however, having ascertained that John Smith of Croonan had given the runaways food, went to Smith’s house, and, meeting him at his own door, shot him dead! Within a short period [before 1845] his grave was to be seen in the garden of the old farm-house [at Cronan].’ (NSA, V, 838.)

Map of Cronan marking garden

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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


Illicit Drilling & the Secret Muster of 260 Covenanters at Cairn Table in 1685 #History #Scotland

•March 28, 2018 • 2 Comments

In 1685, the Covenanters may have trained for a rising that they later refused to join.

When he was captured by John Graham of Claverhouse, among the things that John Brounen gave intelligence of was a field preaching by James Renwick at the back of Cairn Table hill on the edge of Ayrshire when 260 men mustered for weapons training in early 1685. It is clear that Renwick’s Covenanters were preparing for a confrontation with the Scottish Army, as records of their musters are extremely unusual. The Cairn Table muster was the largest gathering of armed militant Society people between the Battle of Bothwell Bridge and the Revolution. The question is why?

The historical evidence does not make it clear when the muster took place. Can a time frame for the muster be pinned down? Was it on Sunday 22 March, 1685? Why did it take place?

In his letter of 3 May, 1685, Claverhouse gave an account of his interrogation of John Brounen, whom he had captured in the moss around Priesthill in Muirkirk parish on 1 May:

‘He gave account of the names of the most pairt of those that wer there [in the attack on Newmilns Tower on 25 April, 1685]. They were not above sixty, and they wer all Gaston and Neumilles men, saive a feu of Streven parish.

He gave also acount of a conventicle keeped by [James] Renek at the bak of Carantable, where there wer threttin scor [260] of men in armes mustered and exercised, of which number he was with his hallard.

He tells of ane other conventicle about three moneths agoe keeped near Loudon Hille, and gives acount of the persons wer at both [Loudoun Hill and Cairn Table] and what childring wer baptised, particularly that at Carntable, which was about the time that Leiv: [James] Muray and [Lieutenant John] Crichton should have laiten them eskeap’. (Campbell, Standing Witnesses, 207-8.)

Brounen provided intelligence on three events.

The Attack on Newmilns Tower
The attack on Newmilns Tower took probably place on 25 April, as on the following day, Brounen fled directly to his uncle’s home at Priesthill.

He also mentioned two field preachings, also known as conventicles.

The Preaching ‘Near’ Loudoun Hill
The first was ‘near’ Loudoun Hill ‘about three moneths’ before the start of May. A later tradition mentions a field preaching in that vicinity, when Renwick preached to a ‘great company’ at the Moor of Evandale ‘a short time before the accession of James [VII]’ in early February, 1685. Loudoun Hill lies on the shire boundary with Evandale parish and adjacent to the Moor to the north of it. Traditional evidence is not reliable, as it was published over a hundred-and-fifty years after the event. (Simpson, Traditions, 29.)

However, it is clear from Brounen’s intelligence that there was a field preaching ‘near’ Loudoun Hill at around the beginning of February, 1685. Renwick’s field preachings often took place before the United Societies’ secret conventions. It is not surprising then to find that the eighteenth convention took place not that far from Loudoun Hill at Auchengilloch, which lies on the southern boundary of Evandale parish. It took place on Thursday 12 February. On that day, troops under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Buchan and Cromwell Lockhart of Lee killed John Smith on his way to Auchengilloch. Smith was shot somewhere in the hills around Auchengilloch and is buried in Muirkirk parish.

The preaching near Loudoun Hill probably took place in the days before the eighteenth convention on 12 February.

The Attack on Newmilns Tower probably took place on 25 April.

Two of the events Brounen mentioned can be pinned down. What about the third?

The Muster at the Back of Cairn Table
We do not know exactly where the muster was held. It is intriguing that Brounen or Claverhouse described the location as ‘at the bak of Carantable’ and ‘at Carntable’. The back of a hill obviously depends on your perspective. Brounen was captured at Priesthill which lies to north of Cairn Table and Claverhouse wrote his letter from Galston to the north-west of it. It is also clear that the illicit muster would probably have been conducted out of sight from prying eyes around Muirkirk. The clearest approaches to the back of Cairn Table in the Seventeenth Century were probably along the old drove road to Sanquhar, that broadly follows the Garpel Water near to the hill, or up the Douglas Water, which leads to the area behind the hill. All of those factors suggest that the muster took place somewhere to the south-east of Cairn Table and close to the hill.

Map of Back of Cairn Table

When did it take place?
Claverhouse did not record a date for the muster that Brounen attended at Cairn Table, but he did leave clues in his letter for when it took place through the chronology of Brounen’s possession of a halberd.

Claverhouse stated that at the muster there ‘wer threttin scor of men in armes mustered and exercised, of which number he [i.e., Brounen] was with his hallard’. Brounen probably possessed the halberd before he attended the muster, as the man who gave it to him, that Claverhouse said he had captured after he had caught Brounen, probably lived somewhere near Claverhouse’s western line of march from Priesthill to Galston.

At the beginning of May, Brounen told Claverhouse how long he had his halberd. According to Claverhouse’s letter, ‘he confessed that he had ane halbart and told who gave him it about a month agoe, and we have the feleou prisoner’, i.e., Brounen had the halberd at the beginning of April.

However, a little later in the letter, Claverhouse stated that Brounen ‘has been but a moneth or tuo with his halbart’, i.e., Brounen could have possessed the halberd from the beginning of March. It appears that Brounen probably obtained his halberd in March.

How long he had the halberd prior to the muster is not known. That suggests the muster could have been held between 1 March and 24 April, the last possible date for it before the Newmilns attack. As Renwick field preached at the muster and baptised children, it was almost certainly held on the Sabbath. The emphasis in the letter was on Brounen getting the halberd either a month, or perhaps up to two months, beforehand. Those factors suggest a date between Sunday 8 March to Sunday 19 April.

The evidence of other preachings that Renwick held suggests that he usually field preached to his followers about once a month. The date of the eighteen convention on Thursday 12 February with its associated field preaching possibly pushes the earliest date for the muster back to Sunday 15 March. That indicates that the muster was probably held on one of the following six days across five weeks:

15 March
22 March
29 March
5 April
12 April
19 April

A Vital Clue
However, Claverhouse also recorded one other detail about the muster, that it was ‘about the time that Leiv: Muray and Crichton should have laiten them eskeap’.

As Claverhouse and Queensberry, the recipient of the letter, both knew from reports when Lieutenant James Murray and Lieutenant John Crichton had failed to catch them, Claverhouse did not need to put a date in the letter.

Murray and Crichton were lieutenants in two different troops of dragoons that were based in the southern half of Lanarkshire. Presumably, while they and their men were going through the hills between Ayrshire and Lanarkshire they must have come close to capturing some of those involved in the muster, otherwise Claverhouse would not have claimed they had let them escape. Claverhouse’s phrase that they had ‘laiten them eskeap’ appears to indicate that he felt that the officers had failed to act in the way he would have expected them to.

However, it is clear from the letter that the mustering of 260 armed Society people at Cairn Table had been noticed by the authorities and that Lieutenants Murray and Crichton had attempted to intercept the Society people involved in it.

That scenario had been played out on many occasions and it fits into the pattern of military operations at that time. The authorities often received intelligence that the Covenanters had gathered in the hills, usually either when it was taking place, or soon after. Several companies of mounted troops were then sent to scour the hills to capture them, but they frequently arrived after the convention or field preaching had ended. It was common for the Covenanters to leave a gathering in a large body for safety that then split up into smaller parties as they made their way home through the hills. The government forces sweeping through the hills would attempt to locate and pursue those parties. Those who helped the Covenanters or had failed to report their presence to the military were to be taken prisoner. The officers in the field coordinated their searches by sending despatches back to their commanders who kept the privy council in Edinburgh up to date through reports. In turn, the privy council would feed their orders back to officers in the field through the same network. An excellent example of that pattern of military operation was the response to Renwick’s Black Loch preaching in 1684, which led to an ‘ambuscade’ at Auchengilloch with 200 rebels.

Although we have little detail about Murray and Crichton’s dragoons having let the Cairn Table Covenanters escape the search for them, we can look for traces of the operation elsewhere in the military’s intelligence network within the 15 March to 19 April time frame.

The privy council did respond to a large party of rebels moving through Ayrshire in that time frame:

‘[Tuesday] March 24th, “The lords of council being informed that a number of desperate rebels in arms hath gone through the shire of Ayr, and no notice is taken of them, colonel [James] Douglas, or the commanders of the garrisons, are empowered immediately to punish the commons who did not inform against them, according to law, and to take bonds of the heritors on whose ground they appeared, to compear before the council in April.” These desperate rebels, now going up and down, were only a few of Mr Renwick’s followers, coming and going to his sermons in arms.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 207-8.)

It is clear that the privy council was responding to reports from the field about a gathering of ‘desperate rebels in arms’  that had ‘gone through the shire of Ayr’ with ‘no notice’ taken of them by the the heritors on whose land they appeared or the common people.

Cairn Table lies in the hills on the eastern edge of Ayrshire. The large number of Covenanters at the muster were armed. Murray and Crichton had come close to capturing some who had been at the meeting, but they had escaped. The council’s response to the reports it had received that the Covenanters had escaped and local inaction was to issue a wide-ranging judicial commission to Colonel James Douglas on 27 March and send him to the area. At the beginning of April, Douglas was conducting trials at Cumnock, which lies to the west of Cairn Table. At the same time, Thomas Richard was captured at Greenock Mains in Muirirk parish and sent to Douglas.

It appears that the privy council were responding to the Cairn Table muster. From their actions on 24 March, it is possible to narrow down the time frame for the muster to just two dates: Sunday 15 March or Sunday 22 March. Given that the privy council usually rapidly reacted to such events, Sunday 22 March was probably the date for Renwick’s preaching and the Cairn Table muster.

It is possible that some of the Cairn Table group raided Lochnorris in Cumnock parish for arms.

It is worth noting that Lieutenant James Murray, one of those who ‘laiten them eskeap’, summarily executed John Brown at Blackwood in March, 1685:

‘Lieutenant [James] Murray was going through the parish of Lesmahago, and met one John Brown in the fields, and promised him quarters at first, he making no resistance, but afterwards changed his mind, and without any process or sentence, shot him in a few minutes near the Blackwood in that parish.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 243.)

His death may have been connected to the mopping up operation after the Cairn Table muster.

The Muster Mystery
Why was the muster held? The evidence above suggests that the muster was part of a concerted effort by the Society people to gather arms and train to use them. The problem is that the surviving historical sources for the Society people do not appear to have ordered the muster. In essence, we have a large-scale event that took place without an explanation for it. We are left examining the context for the muster.

As the eighteen convention was disrupted by Buchan and Lee’s troops in February, James Renwick failed to take part in it. The few delegates who managed to gather together restricted themselves to appointing days of prayer to inform future decision making and a date for the next convention of 6 May. It, too, would be disrupted by government forces.

The two prayer days the eighteenth convention appointed were Wednesday 4 March, that was ‘a day of thanksgiving unto the Lord for the wonderful proofs of his love and goodwill, manifested to a scattered and distressed remnant in this land, by his delivering of them in several places, from the power and rage of the enemies, when they were ready to swallow them up’, and Wednesday 8 April, which was ‘a day of fasting, mourning and humiliation before the Lord, for the unwarrantable out-breakings that have been committed by some, in several places, contrary to our Covenant-engagements and Declarations.’ (Shields, FCD, 163.)

The fast days point to pressures the Society people were experiencing. First, their narrow escapes from government forces pursuing them in the Killing Times. Second, ‘unwarrantable out-breakings’ committed ‘by some’ in ‘several places’. It is not clear if that meant their assassinations and attacks, or the taking of the Abjuration oath, or internal disputes, but it does broadly point to a problem with discipline in the United Societies. Renwick certainly wrote to them to clarify his position about the Abjuration Oath on 27 February. He may also have responded to the 8 April day of humiliation, as a catalogue to Wod.Fol.XXIV. lists a missing letter: ‘Mr J[ames] Renwicks Letter to the Gen: Meeting [Thursday] Apr 9. 1685. Orig.’ (Carslaw (ed.), Letters, 107-112.)

However, it may have been a third pressure on the United Societies that explains the muster. The attack on the eighteenth convention prevented them from discussing the pressing issue of the day: how they would respond to the news that James VII had become king on the death of Charles II on 6 February? By 12 February, that news had spread to Scotland.

To begin to understand the significance of the Cairn Table muster it has to be put into context. It was larger than the armed gatherings that proclaimed the Sanquhar Declaration in June 1680. It was larger than the Covenanter force at the Battle of Airds Moss in July 1680. It was larger than those who proclaimed the Lanark Declaration in January 1682. It was a bit larger than the Covenanter force at the Ambuscade at Auchengilloch in June 1684. It was larger than the armed force that proclaimed the Second Sanquhar Declaration in May 1685. It was larger than the rebel force at the Battle of Muirdykes in June 1685. It was smaller than some later field preachings, but most of them were not armed. Only at the Revolution were larger forces of Society people assembled. It is clear than the Cairn Table muster was a determined effort by the militants, especially as it took place in the Killing Times.

Someone, or rather the leadership of the United Societies, must have ordered and organised it. And yet, we have no sources that tell us why it happened.

There are three obvious candidates for why it happened.

First, was it to prepare for the attack on Newmilns Tower that took place on 25 April or similar attacks? The Newmilns attack involved less than sixty men mainly drawn from two local parishes. Brounen took part in the illicit drilling and was involved in the attack. Covenanters did attack Lochnorris for arms in late March. However, the drilling and exercising 260 men certainly feels like preparation for an open-field encounter.

Second, was it to defend the Societies’ conventions? In 1684 a comparable number of Covenanters had defended their convention from government forces in a field encounter at Auchengilloch. The nineteenth convention on 6 May was also disrupted by Highland forces, but it disbanded after it received warning. The twenty-second convention was also intercepted by government forces who captured fifteen prisoners after it disbanded. The Societies were concerned about the security of their conventions and that they may have to defend themselves when attacked by government forces. However, that had been a problem for a while and at following conventions they disbanded rather than holding their ground.

Third, was it preparation for an armed rising against James VII? It is possible that the Cairn Table muster reflected the initial enthusiasm among radical presbyterians for a rising. Cairn Table was the site where they agreed to meet in the event of a rising. If so, Renwick was actively involved in those preparations. The accession of King James certainly caused the presbyterian factions to discuss a rising. However, ultimately they could not agree terms and the United Societies, although bitterly divided on the issue, did not join the Argyll Rising of May to June 1685.

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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

Helping the Escape of the Black Loch Covenanters in 1684 #History #Scotland

•February 11, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Drumlech Hill Black Loch

On Sunday 8 June, James Renwick field preached to a large body of Covenanters near Drumlach by the Black Loch. They then rode south via lands of Stane and Redmyre, where they drank at the house, before they turned west and headed for the Clyde. At the same time, Lieutenant-Colonel Winram was in pursuit of the Covenanters, but he lost them at Carbarns Ford across the Clyde. Soon after, Claverhouse took up the search on the south side of the Clyde, but his efforts were also frustrated. Departing for his wedding, he left Lieutenant-Colonel Buchan to search the one remaining area of the moss they had not covered. Buchan was in for a surprise. At a remote glen a firefight broke out. Once again, Claverhouse was brought back into the field to organise a sweep of the hills to find the armed attackers. However, Renwick escaped and slipped back across the Clyde.

After such a dramatic pursuit and confrontation, it is clear the authorities were very keen to find anyone involved in the affair in any way. On 2 July, 1684, five men were warded into Edinburgh Tolbooth for having either assisted, or failed to report the passage of, Renwick’s Covenanters. They were all from the area where the pursued Covenanters had stopped for a drink:

‘James Cleilland
John Smith [tenant in Stane]
Thomas Robertson [tenant in Stane]
David Russell [tenant in Stane]
Gavin Lourie [in Redmyre] all in ye fugitive roll & wairdit by John Bailzie meacer (Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, IX, 140.)

The entry in the tolbooth record mistakenly lists them as fugitives, when they do not appear on the published fugitive roll of May, 1684.

Gavin Lawrie in Redmyre was in particular trouble because the ‘rebels in a body, drank at his house’. (Wodrow, History, IV, 28.)

Previously, a James Pettigrew in Redmyre had been before the council in 1681.

Map of Redmyre

After five weeks in the tolbooth, they petitioned the council and were ordered to be released a week later on 14 August:

‘Gavin Lourie & vyrs relived by order of ye Counsell qrof ye termor followes

Ed[inbu]r[gh] 6 August 1684
The Lords of his Maties privie Counsell haveing considered a petion presented by Gavin Lourie in Ridmyre David Rusell tennent in Staine John Smith tennent yr Thomas Robertson tennent ther & John Cleiland prisoners in the tolbooth of Ed[inbu]r[gh] by sentance of Counsell for ther not giveing advertisment annent the rebells laitlie in armes at Blackloch they having past throu the toune of Staine suplicating for libertie in regaird they wer ignorant of ye Counsells proclamation and of ye necesitous condition & povertie and of ther long imprisonment Doe heirby give order and warand to the Magistrats of Edr to set ye sd fyve persones petitioners at libertie in regaird they have bound obleidged and enacted themselves in ye books of privie Counsell ilk an of them for others & for themselves that heirefter they shall live regularlie & orderlie keip ther paroch kirk [at Cambusnethan] & compeir befor the Counsell when called for under ye penaltie of fyve hundreth merks Scots money for ilk ane of them in caice of failzie And farder that they & ilk ane of them shall in tyme coming when they or any of them shall have notice of any rebells in armes or of any conventicles hous or feild furthwith advertis the narest magistrat or commanding oficer of ye forces thereof wnder ye forsd penaltie for ilk ane of them in caice of failzie’. (Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, IX, 146.)

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Ambushed at the Inn: The Queensferry Incident of 1680 #History #Scotland

•January 21, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Covenanters House Queensferry

On 3 June, 1680, Donald Cargill was wounded in a dramatic ambush at an inn known as The Palace, or the Covenanters House, in South Queensferry. Today, the street name ‘Covenanters Lane’ records where the building stood. It only survives in photographs. Henry Hall of Haughead was mortally wounded in the same incident. How they were cornered and how they escaped from the inn, is quite a story …

The Road to the Queensferry Inn
Both Donald Cargill and Henry Hall had played leading roles in the Presbyterian Rising of June, 1679. Afterwards, both escaped into exile at Rotterdam in the United Provinces.

Cargill had returned to Scotland in early 1680 to join with Richard Cameron in raising the Covenanted standard of the Lord, almost certainly via an East Coast port like Bo’ness. In the months that followed, he appears in the context of letters to Gordon of Earlstoun’s family in Galloway. In a letter of 22 February, 1680, to Lady Earlstoun, Cargill indicates that he had not yet met or heard from Cameron. They appear to have met prior to Cameron’s letters to the Earlstouns in the latter half of March.

According to a letter from Cargill of 14 April, he was in hiding at Gilkerscleugh in Crawfordjohn parish, Lanarkshire, and had stayed at Earlstoun in the Glenkens. At around that time, Cargill and Cameron field preached together at Darmead next to Lanarkshire/Lothians boundary. From then on, Cargill seems to have been ‘lurking’ with Hall in the Fife and Linlithgowshire area. He certainly met with Cameron again on c.21 May and again at the Auchengilloch fast on 28 May.

He also appears to have met James Skene in about May, i.e., at around the time of Auchengilloch. The privy council were later convinced that Cargill had also met with John Spruell, probably at Bo’ness and at some point in 1680, after the latter’s return from Rotterdam, but Spruell refused to confess and Archibald Stewart could not confirm that they had met when he was interrogated under torture.

Henry Hall’s Road to the Inn
The evidence indicates that Hall joined Cargill a few weeks before he preached at Auchengilloch. According to Wodrow, Hall ventured home ‘this year’ and spent ‘May, and the beginning of June … in company with Mr Donald Cargil, lurking as privately as they could’ about Bo’ness and ‘other places, upon both sides of the Firth of Forth’. That places both Hall and Cargill in the context of the militant prayer societies in Linlithgowshire and Fife, that had links via the port of Bo’ness to the exiled Presbyterian leadership in Rotterdam.

From the meeting at Auchengilloch, which lies on the boundary between Lanarkshire and Ayrshire, Cameron and Cargill set off in different directions. Cameron remained in the West and soon after preached at Swine Knowe, which possibly lies by Longriggend. Cargill and Hall went east, a cross the Clyde and on to Bo’ness.

It was near there on Thursday 3 June, that they were spotted by James Hamilton, the minister of Bo’ness, and John Park, the minister of Carriden. At the time, the Scottish regime had no intelligence about what Cargill and his fellow militant presbyterians were plotting. They knew something was afoot, as had heard about their gatherings at Darmead and Auchengilloch, but they did not know what they were for. Cargill and Hall were simply high-value fugitives from the Bothwell Rising when the ministers spied them by the Forth.


Patrick Walker takes up the story:

‘when he, with Henry Hall of Haughhead, that worthy Christian Gentleman, were upon their Way from Borrowstounness to the Queensferry, these two Sons of Belial, the Curates of Borrowstounness and Carridden, walking upon the Sea-side knew Mr. Cargill, and went in haste to [Captain Robert] Middleton Governor of Blackness, and informed him.’(Walker, BP, II, 11.)

It is clear that Cargill and Hall were heading from Bo’ness for Queensferry, probably with the intention to take the ferry across to the militant societies in Fife. It is possible that Cargill intended to field preach to them, as he appears to have later altered his plans and preached in the Pentlands on 6 June.

However, while the port of Bo’ness was a relatively safe haven for them due to the presence of what were later called the Sweet Singers, the area round Queensferry was less so.

Blackness Castle lies about a mile to the east of Carriden along the Forth coast. Later, on 8 June, the privy council rewarded Carriden’s minister for his ‘good service in delating and discovering’ Cargill. (Wodrow, History, III, 206.)

Map of Blackness Castle

The Ambush at the Inn
According to Wodrow, Middleton then sent out small search parties to locate them:

‘Upon June 3d, he ordered out a party of soldiers, to march at some distance, by twos and threes, carelessly, as if they had been upon no design; at length, by some of them, he found that Mr Cargil and Mr Hall had taken their horses, and was told the road they were riding. The governor, and a servant on horseback, presently traced them out, and kept at a little distance from them till they came to Queensferry, where the servant had noticed the house where they alighted, his master sent him off in all haste to call up his men to him, and put his horse in another house.’ (Wodrow, History, III, 206.)

The inn, also known as the Covenanters House or the Palace, lay in the heart of South Queensferry, by the harbour.

According to Wodrow, Governor Middleton bravely entered the inn on his own to delay Cargill and Hall until his men arrived:

‘Within a very little, the governor came into the house where they were, as a stranger, and pretended a great deal of respect for Mr Cargill, and begged leave to take a glass of wine with them. When they were in friendly conversation together, and the soldiers not ike to come up, the governor wearied, and threw off the mask, and told them they were his prisoners; and calling to the house to assist him, he offered to lay hands on them.’ (Wodrow, History, III, 206.)

It is clear that Walker based his account of the action at the inn on Wodrow’s account:

‘He ordered his Soldiers to come after him; he followed hard to the [Queens]Ferry, and got Notice where they lighted [at the inn], came in, and pretended great Kindness, pressing them to take a Glass of Wine, until his Men came up: Then drew his Sword, saying, They were his Prisoners, Haughhead drew Sword to defend themselves.’ (Walker, BP, II, 11-12.)

At that point, events spiralled:

‘There was none in the house would assist him, but one Thomas George, a waiter, Haugh-head was a bold brisk man, and struggled hard with the governor, until Mr Cargill got off; and then, when he was going off himself, having got clear of the governor, Thomas George struck him upon the head with a carabine, and gave him his mortal wound; however, he got out, and by this time the women of the town got together at the gate, and conveyed him out of the town. He walked a little way upon his foot, but being very sore bruised with his stroke, he soon fainted and was carried into the next country house’. (Wodrow, History, III, 206.)

Walker relays the same information, but changed the order of events in Wodrow to have Hall struck when the women rescued him. However, at this point in the story, Walker adds new information about where Hall was taken to:

‘The Women in the Town gathered; one of them gript Haughhead to save him. One Thomas George, a Waiter there [in Queensferry], behind his Back struck him upon the Head with the Doghead of his Carabin, and broke his Scull. The women carried him off, and some of them supported him to Echlen [i.e., Echline], near Half a Mile, to the House of Robert Punton my Brother-in-law, who was banished with Mr. [Alexander] Peden [in 1678, but ‘providentially’ returned]’. (Walker, BP, II, 12.)

The wounded Henry Hall was carried to Robert Punton’s farm at Echline.

Map of Echline

Robert Punton and his family appear on the Poll Tax Roll of the 1690s: ‘Robert Punton in Aichland [i.e., in Echline] & his wife & Robert, Walter, Samuell, George Alxr, Henry, Margret & Grizzell Puntns his children.’

Henry Hall did not remain there.

General Thomas Dalyell

General Thomas Dalyell

The Death of Henry Hall
Wodrow takes up Hall’s story:
‘and though chirurgeons were brought [to Echline], I am told he never recovered so far as to speak to any. General Dalziel of Binns, living near by, was soon advertised, and came very quickly with a party of guards, and seized him.’ (Wodrow, History, III, 206.)

Walker adds some detail:

‘The House of Binns being near, Thomas Dalziel’s Dwelling-place (that bloody Tyrant, who was General to the Forces Twenty Years) and he having got Notice, came in great Haste and Fury, threatning great Ruin to that Family for taking in the Rebel; and carried him back to the [Queens]Ferry, and kept him all Night.’ (Walker BP, II, 12.)

When captured, Hall was near death. According to Walker, who wrote five decades after the events:

‘There is an old Christian Woman (yet alive) who waited upon him all Night, which was a weary Night, he not being able to speak to her, passing all his Brains at his Nostrils, died To-morrow [4 June] by the Way going to Edinburgh. None can give an Account how they disposed of his Corpse.’ (Walker BP, II, 12.)

Canongate Tolbooth

Canongate Tolbooth

Curiously, Walker edited down Wodrow’s version of events, which had given more details on what happened to Hall corpse:

‘Such was his inhumanity, that though every body saw the gentlemen [Hall] just a dying, yet he would needs carry him in straight to Edinburgh, and he actually died among their hands in the way thither [via Queensferry?]. His corps were laid in the Canongate tolbooth, for three days, without burial; and though Haugh-head’s friends in and about the town, were very importunate for liberty to do their last office to him, yet that could by no means be granted. […] Some little time after, his corps were buried clandestinely in the night.’ (Wodrow, History, III, 206.)

General Dalyell found that Hall had the radical Queensferry Paper (aka. The “Fanatick’s New Covenant”) in his possession when he was captured. It was the first clear intelligence discovered that the militant presbyterians intended to overthrow the regime of Charles II in Scotland. In his History, Wodrow distanced Cargill and Presbyterians from the ‘rude and imperfect draught’ of the Queensferry Paper. However, it is clear that several of the martyrs adhered to it in their testimonies. (Wodrow, History, III, 207-212.)

Cargill’s Escape from Queensferry
Wodrow had very little to say about what happened to Cargill after he left the inn. However, Walker did have further information based on local sources. During the struggle at the Inn, Cargill escaped:

‘Mr. Cargill in that Confusion escaped sorely wounded, and crept into some secret Place in the South-side of the Town [of Queensferry]. A very ordinary Woman found him lying bleeding, took her Head-clothes and tied up the Wounds in his Head, and conducted him to James Punton’s in Carlowrie; he being a Stranger, and knew not who was Friends or Foes; for which he said he was many Times obliged to pray for that Woman. Some say, After that there was a Change upon her to the better.’ (Walker, BP, II, 12.)

Cargill probably took the most direct escape route along The Loan and hid in ‘some secret place’ on the south side of Queensferry.

One of those involved in rescuing Cargill was Margaret Wauchope. She was probably the ‘very ordinary woman’ who found him wounded in the street and brought him about two-and-a-half miles to Carlowrie, She was imprisoned on 10 June, but escaped from Edinburgh Tolbooth in October, 1680. Margaret Wauchope was clearly very resourceful, rather than ‘very ordinary’.

At Carlowrie, Cargill was placed in a barn, rather than in the house:

‘He lay in that Barn till Night, and then was conducted to some Friend’s House. Mrs. Punton gave him some warm Milk; and a Chirurgeon came providentially to the House, who drest his Wounds.’ (Walker, BP, II, 12.)

‘Niell Weddell’ a ‘chirurgeon’ (i.e., Neil Waddell, surgeon) treated the wounded Cargill on the night of 3 June. He did not hand Cargill over to the authorities, even though he was one of the most-wanted men in the Scotland.

Waddell was allegedly ‘providentially’ visiting the ‘friend’s house’ near Carlowrie when he treated Cargill. He was imprisoned in Edinburgh Tolbooth soon after Cargill’s escape and stayed there until 10 August, 1680:

‘The Lords off his majesties privie counsell having considered the petition of niell weddell chirurgeon in Queensferry prisoner upon the accompt off his pansing mr Donald Cargill doe ordaine the magistratts of Ed[inbu]r[gh] to sett him att libertie in regaird he hes found sufficient cautione to appeare befor the councell when ever he shall be called under the penaltie off ffyve hundreth merkes’. (Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, VI, 146.)

Easter Carlowrie Wester Carlowrie Standing Stone

Where Was Cargill Carried?
Today, Carlowie stands on the northern edge of Edinburgh Airport. The present castle is of a later date. In 1680, the lands were held by George Drummond of Carlowrie. He was almost certainly not involved in concealing Cargill, as he was later denounced as ‘a cruel tyrant’ by the Covenanter, Alexander Reid in Uphall.

Instead, it was to the more humble house of ‘James Punton in Carlowrie’ that he was carried. Punton was later imprisoned for concealing Cargill:

‘General [Thomas] Dalziel came and called for James Punton, and took him away to Kirklistoun: When set down, the Curate there (another of the Serpent’s Brood, who inform’d him) came and accused him before the General for shewing Kindness to such a notorious Rebel, for which he was carried to Edinburgh, and cast in Prison, where he lay three Months, and paid a Thousand Merks of Fine.’ (Walker, BP, II, 12-13.)

Punton possibly lived at either Wester or Easter Carlowrie, then small farms which today lie on either side of a disused railway line. The modern Carlowrie farm lies to the east of both of them. Easter Carlowrie lies in Dalmeny parish. Wester Carlowrie lies in Kirkliston parish.

Map of Former Easter Carlowrie Farm

The Punton family may appear on the later Poll Tax Roll of 1694. It lists a ‘James Punton, Skipper, & his Wife & George Punton his son’ and ‘Janet —– his servant’ as living somewhere near Newbigging and Craigends, i.e.,to the west of Easter Carlowrie. (NA, E70/13/5/6)

It also lists a ‘James Punton, tennent, in Dalmeny & his wife, Alexr, Robert and Elspet his children.’

In 1694, the farm at Easter Carlowrie in Dalmeny parish was held by ‘James Hendersone tennent in Carlowrie’ with his wife, children and twelve servants. At nearby Craigie, one of the tenant farmers was a ‘John Punton tennant in Craigy, his wife & Gavin Punton his son’. ‘John Punton’, as the householder, also appears on the Hearth Tax Record for the parish in 1695.

Whether James Punton in Carlowrie was related to the Robert Punton in Echline who hid Henry Hall is not clear. However, it is a curious coincidence that when both Cargill and Hall were rescued, they were both initially taken to families of that surname which was not common in the parish.

It also is worth noting that the radical Cotmuir Folk had connections to both the Sweet Singers in Bo’ness, who knew Cargill in 1680, and locally to where Cargill was concealed at Carlowrie. Immediately to the north of Easter Carlowrie lies Standingstane, which appears to have been connected with the Harlaw brothers at the core of the Folk.

The “Friend’s House”
We know that Cargill stayed in a barn at ‘Carlowrie’ until after nightfall and that after that he was taken to a “friend’s house” with Mrs Punton where he was treated by the surgeon.

Some of the women who concealed him that night were also captured. The house appears to have belonged to a widow, Janet Christie, her daughter and Janet Campbell. They were set at liberty on 20 November, 1680:

‘The Lords off the Committy for publick affaires doe give warrant to the keeper off the Tolbuith to sett att liberty Jonat Crystie and hir daughter and Janat Campble who wer imprisoned upon suspicion off the resett off [Donald] Cargill in hir house she being now examined therupon’. (Book of the Old Edinburgh Club, VI, 150.)

It is not clear where “her” house lay, but presumably it was located near to Carlowrie, possibly in Kirkliston parish as James Wemyss, the episcopal minister of that parish, appears to have informed against Punton and the others involved treating Cargill. In 1688, Wemyss became Professor of Divinity at the University of Glasgow. (Fasti, I, 213.)

Three days after Cargill was at Carlowrie, he field preached in the Pentlands.

He would go on to have other very narrow escapes, at Linlithgow Bridge and especially at the Mutton Hole, before he was captured in mid 1681.

For more on Donald Cargill, see here.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free to post this on Facebook or other social networks or retweet it, but do not reblog in FULL without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine


A Covenanter Hideout: Duncan’s Cave, near Kirkandrews, Galloway #History #Scotland

•January 19, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Duncan's Cave

According to a later tradition in the OS name book, Duncan’s Cave in Borgue parish in Galloway was where a Covenanter hid:

‘A natural cave in the face of a precipitous portion of the sea shore of the farm of Muncraig, the origin of the name was from a shoe maker named Duncan who usually took refuge here during the Scottish persecution [of the 1680s].’

Once again, I am extremely grateful to Nicholas Coombey for drawing my attention to the existence of this cave in the OS name books. Nic has previously identified both Garrerie’s Cave and Begg’s Hole as caves that tradition claims were used by Covenanters as hiding places.

Duncan’s Cave lies in Borgue parish. The cave is not accessible from the land due to it being located in a high cliff. It can apparently be approached by kayak above half tide. See an image of Duncan’s Cave on this blog. See also a view from inside the cave on this blog. As the sea cave is tidal, it is very unlikely that it was ever a Covenanter’s hideout.

There is also no evidence of any fugitive named Duncan in the vicinity. There is another traditional hideout called Duncan’s Pantry in Dalry parish.

Map of Duncan’s Cave

At nearby Kirkandrews churchyard is the grave of the mysterious martyr, Robert McWhae, aka. Mowat.

For more on the Covenanters in Borgue parish, see here.

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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

A Covenanter’s Cave: Begg’s Hole, between Wigtown and Whithorn #History #Scotland

•January 17, 2018 • 3 Comments

Begg's Hole

According to a later tradition in the OS name book for Sorbie parish in Wigtownshire, a cave not far from Garliestown known as Begg’s Hole was where a Covenanter hid:

‘A small cave of natural construct situated by the edge of high water & on the west side of Wigtown Bay its entrance is narrow and the interior comprises a space of 90 links by 20 links. It is said to have been the resort or hiding place of a man named Beggs during a period of religious persecution, hence the name.’

For a second time, I am very grateful to Nicholas Coombey for pointing out the existence of a record of this cave in the OS name books. Nic has previously identified Garrerie’s Cove as a Covenanter cave. You can visit Solway Coastwise for more fascinating caves, here.

As a link was about 20cm in measurement. a cave of 90 links by 20 links would be around 1,800cm x 400cm in size.


The place name is often mistaken for the name of a small inlet and its positioning on modern maps adds to that impression. However, it is clear from the original OS name book that Begg’s Hole was a cave. The cave presumably lies by the inlet above the high water mark. Or, perhaps, the inlet might be the collapsed cave?

Map of Begg’s Hole

It might be possible that the ‘James Begg, in Whiteholm’ found appended to the published Fugitive Roll of 1684 is an error for a James Begg “in Whithorn”, which lies nearby, but the transcription of the text in Wodrow is clearly ‘Whiteholm’. Begg was the only fugitive of that surname. (Wodrow, History, IV, 28.)

Once again, thank you for the information Nic. I wonder if it is still there? As far as I can tell, no one has found and photographed the cave.

For other “lost” landscapes of the Covenanters in Galloway, see here.

For more on Covenanters in Sorbie parish, see here.

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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

The Covenanters’ Field Preaching Site at Aikey Hill near Threave Castle #History #Scotland

•January 15, 2018 • Leave a Comment

Aikey Hill

According to a later tradition found in OS name book for Balmaghie parish, Aikey Hill was were field preachings were held during “the persecution” of the 1670s or 1680s:

Aikey Hill: ‘An eminence in the centre of an arable field with a knowe upon its summit from which it is said the Covenanter’s minister addressed his followers at the time of the prohibation of that religion.’

The name book also recorded it as:

‘A small hill with a rocky knowe on its summit where it is said the Covenanters held meetings during the persecution.’

Map of Aikey Hill        Street View of Aikey Hill

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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