Texts – James Russell’s Protestation 1681
James Russell, the assassin of Archbishop Sharp, affixted a protestation to the door of Kettle parish church in Fife on Sunday 3 April 1681.
His protestation is one of the most remarkable published works in early-modern Britain, as it publicly advocated the assassination of king Charles II.
It was quickly published by the authorities as an example of presbyterian fanaticism on 18 April under the title of A True and Exact Copy of a Prodigious and Traiterous Libel, Affixt upon the Church-door of Kettle, in Fife, the third of this instant, being Easter-day; written and subscribed by James Russel, one of those bloody and Sacrilegious Murtherers of the late Lord Primate of Scotland, his Grace. Published by Authority, for the satisfaction and information of all His Majesties Loyal and dutiful Subjects (Edinburgh, 1681).
The full text can be found here:
‘A True and Exact Copy of a Prodigious and Traiterous Libel, Affixt upon the Church-door of Kettle, in Fife, the third of this instant, being Easter-day; written and subscribed by James Russel, one of those bloody and Sacrilegious Murtherers of the late Lord Primate of Scotland, his Grace.
Published by Authority, for the satisfaction and information of all His Majesties Loyal and dutiful Subjects
Printed by the Heir of Andrew Anderson, Printer to His Most Sacred Majesty, Anno Dom. 1681.
Edinburgh, eighteenth day of April, 1681.
Vera Copia collationed with the Original, (all written and signed by this execrable Murtherer his own Hand) which is kept amongst the Records of His Majesties Privy Council: and attested by
Will. Paterson, Cl. Sec. Concilij.
Pat. Menzies. Cl. Sti. Concilij.
A True and Exact Copy of a Prodigious and Traiterous Libel, Affixt upon the Church-door of Kettle in Fife, &c.
Be in kend to all men, That whereas these who were once lawful Magistrats and Rulers, and were exercising their power, in opposition to all the Enemies of God and were a terrour to all evil doers are now become Tyrants and Land judgements, and Murderers of all these who departs from iniquity, and who are jeoparding their lives every day for maintaining and promoving of the Gospel of Christ and the true Presbyterian Government, which the three Kingdoms swore oftner nor once or twice to maintain with their lives and liberties, which Oaths they have all now broken, and have taken new Oaths contrair to the word of God, in opposition to their former Oaths and Ingagements, by which doing, they have overturned the whole Government, Civil and Ecclesiastick, and having made butcheries and havock of all the truly Godly, and Loyal and true Subjects of the Land, and raised such Persecution, that I was forced to flee the Country; and I hearing tell that my Mother and others who medled with my Affairs, were still paying the Few Duty (which properly belongs to the Crown of Scotland) and Sess [i.e. Cess Tax], which that Tyrant causes uplift for bearing down the Gospel of Christ, and for maintaining these Butcherers, Troopers and Souldiers, and with paying that Teind which properly belongs to the Ministers of the Gospel of Christ, to Mr. John Barkley, who is both a thief and a robber; by paying of which, they acknowledge Charles Stewart to be a lawful Magistrate, and Mr. John Barkley to be a Minister of Jesus Christ, which is blasphemy to say, as I shall prove afterwards; and after several times writing to my Mother, and some others who pretended kindness to me, shewing the great sin that we were involved in, by owning any of these Tyrants any manner of way, and earnestly desiring her to forbear and not to own them any manner of way directly or indirectly, but rather to suffer the outmost of hazard, than to sin against God by strengthening the hands of the stated and avowed enemies of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is King, and alone Head of his Church; but my writing being to no purpose, and I being convinced of the greatness of this sin, and the heinous aggravations thereof, and the Judgements that would follow, if repentance prevented not, and being exercised for a long time, about what way to take for exoneration of my conscience before God and the World, and a testimpny against all others who does go on in that sin, the clear conviction of the indispensibleness of this is my duty, I have now resolved through the grace of God, be the outward hazard whatsomever, to write thir two or three Lines, and cause put it on the Kirk-door of Kettle, being the most publick place, as my testimony against all the wrongs and injuries done to my sweet Lord Jesus Christ.
As I do own and declare before God and the World, that Magistracie is an ordinance of God, so I disown and declare, that Tyranny is not of God, and so in opposition to God, and so against God, and therefor cannot be of God: and Charles Stewart being once made King of Scotland, upon condition that he should keep these Covenants, and rule according to these Covenants, and the Covenants being the Coronation Oath, which Oath he has broken, and caused burn these Covenants (which was the contract and Covenant betwixt him and the people) by the hands of the Hangman, by the burning of which Covenant, he has forfaulted his right of the Crown and Kingdom of Scotland, and is no more a King, but is become a Tyrant; therefore the people is loosed from all obligations and ties to him. [George] Buchannan acknowledges and sayes, When the King breaks the Contract and Covenant that was betwixt Him and the people, and doth contrair to that He covenanted to do, whatever Right or Privileage did belong to Him by that Agreement & Covenant is then lost. Likewise he saith, When a King does those things which are directly for the dissolution of Society for the continuance whereof He was created, He is a Tyrant. Other Loyalists acknowledge and say, When a King overturns one of the Fundamental Laws, He is no more a King, but a Tyrant. 2. They say, When a supream Magistrate maketh use of an absolute power, and so breaketh all Bonds for the good of the main Society, He is a Tyrant. 3. They say, When He taketh from one or more members of the Commonwealth, free exercise of the Orthodox Clergie or Religion, He is a Tyrant. 4. They say, When a King doth not defend His Subjects from injuries, when he may, but suffereth them to be oppressed, He is no more a King, but a Tyrant: (And much more when he oppresses them and murders them himself, as Charles Stewart does.) 5. They say, When a King oppresses the Subjects by immoderate exactions, and hindereth the free sufferages of Members of Parliament, so that they dare not speak what they would, He is a Tyrant. 6. They say, When He taketh away from the people all power to resist His Tyrany as Arms, Strengths, and the chief men though innocent, he persecuteth and exhausts their goods without right or reason, He is a Tyrant. 7. They say, When a Magistrate for corrupting of youth, erects Stage playes, Whore-houses, and other Play-houses, and suffers the Colledges, and other Seminaries of Learning to be corrupted, they are unfit for any Office, therefore He must be a Tyrant. Prov. 6.13. Righteous lips are the delight of Kings, and they love him that speaketh right, therefore Charles Stewart cannot be a King, because the unrighteous lips are his delight, and he loveth all them that doeth evil and speaketh against the truth, and therefore he must be a Tyrant: and seing that the least of all these forenamed particulars makes a King a Tyrant, surely without debate Charles Stewart must be one of the Monstruous and wildest of Tyrants, for he is guilty of all these, and has overturned the whole Fundamental Laws of the Land, by that Act rescissory, and has set up Lustful and Tyrannical Laws of his own, in opposition to the Laws of God; and if we believe Buchannan and other sound Writers, A Tyrant has no just Authority over a People, neither is the People to own or obey him in any thing, for he is their enemy, and sayeth he, there is a just and lawful War with an Enemy; much more with the enemy of all Mankind, that is Tyrant, of the which Tyrants Charles Stewart is one: and he saith, a lawful War being once undertaken with our Enemy, and for a just cause, it is lawful not only for the whole People to kill that Enemy, but for every one of them. I would speir That Question at these who are not of this Judgment, seing that Tyrants are reckoned in amongst the number of the most cruel bruits Beasts by all sound Writers; and Scripture, Psal.22.12. calls them Bulls of Bashan, of the which Bulls, Charles Stewart is one, and all his Associats are Bulls and Kine of Bashan: What would you judge to be your duty, if there were a wild and mad Bull running up and down all Scotland, killing and slaying all that were come in his way, man, wife, and bairn? would you not think it your duty and everyones duty to kill him, according to that Scripture, Exod. 21.28,29. [If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall be quit. But if the ox were wont to push with his horn in time past, and it hath been testified to his owner, and he hath not kept him in, but that he hath killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner also shall be put to death.] and if this is granted, as it cannot be denied, wherefore should any say, that it is not lawful to kill Charles Stewart or his Associats, that hath been these twenty years as it were, running up and down Scotland, killing and slaying all the true Subjects of the Land, and are still continuing, and killing all that are departing from iniquity, and are adhering to, and pursuing the ends of the Covenants, by desiring to bring all Malignants to condign punishment, according to the Covenants, which all the three Kingdoms did swear with lifted up hands to the most High God.
Therefore, I James Russel Portioner of Kettle, does reject Charles Stewart from being my King, or fromhaving any lawful authority over me; and I do declare before the world, that I will not own nor obey him any manner of way, either by paying the Few-Duty or any other thing which properly belongs to the Crown of Scotland, or that which they call Sess, which is falsely imposed upon the Kingdom, and lifted up for the banishing Christ and his Gospel out of the Land, yea, for upholding and maintaining ruffian Troopers and Souldiers, for no other thing but that they may Crucifie Christ in his members every day: and likewise I protest against my Mother and James Dale, who is labouring now on my Land, at my Mothers instance, against their paying of the Few-Duty, or any other thing which properly belongs to the Crown of Scotland, but not to a Tyrant, and therefore not to Charles Stewart; and against the paying of that which they call Sess. And likewise, I do protest against all these who take the name of Christians to themselves, who owns him or acknowledges him to have any lawful authority over them; and I do protest against the owning of any that has their authority and power flowing from him, either higher or lower Courts of Judicatures, for these who have no power themselves, cannot cloath others with power and authority: and Charles Stewart hath no power, therefore he cannot cloath any other with power and authority, for he cannot give others that which he hath not himself; therefore all these Courts and Judicatories that have their Power flowing only from Charles Stewart, have no lawful Power nor authority, more nor these who receives a commission from a Robber to go and kill and slay all that they meet with one the Highway; therefore cannot be owned, nor obediance given to them any manner of way, except they say that we must obey the Devil, whose Viceregents they are, and that will not be granted. And I do declare, that I look upon all who own that Tyrant or any under him to be lawful Magistrats, to be guilty of Blasphemy, and I prove it, Rom. 13.[1.] For there is no power but of God and the powers that be, are ordained of God; therefore that power that is exercised in opposition to God and godliness cannot be of God, for Rulers are not a terrour to good works, but to the evil, for he is the Minister of God to thee for good: Therefore Charles Stewart’s power is not of God, for he exercises all his power in opposition to God and Godliness, and he is a terrour to good Works, and he gives praise and gifts to all these who do Evil; therefore he is the Minister of the Devil, to thee for Evil, for he executes Wrath on these who do Good, and therefore he hath no power of God; and therefore it must be acknowledged that it is the height of Blasphemy to say that he is a lawful Magistrate, seeing that he execises all his power in opposition to God; and therefore is no lawful Power, but an usurped tyrannical Power: Therefore, I would desire all that professe to be Christians to be at war of calling Charles Stewart a lawful Magistrat, or any whose power flows from him, to be lawfull Rulers, lest ye be found amongst the number of these Blasphemers, who say, that God in the Author of Sin; and ye may read the Blasphemers doom in Lev. 24.16. And he blasphemeth the Name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the Congregation shalt surely stone him, &c. Number 15.30.31. I would desire all who are expectants of Heaven, as they would not have God to be their enemies, to bewar of doing anything that strengthens the enemies of Christs hands, if it were but to give them a leepy of Corn, or a bottle of Straw to their Horse, or Bread or Drink, or Lodging to themselves: for Christs enemies is another thing, nor our particular enemies. They will prepare a Table for the Troop, and furnish the Drink-offering for that number, they may read their sentence in Isa. 65.12. Therefore will I number you to the sword, and ye shall bow down to the slaughter, &c. and do it who will, when the Lord makes inquisition for the blood of his Saints, I am sure they will be found guilty, and to be more nor consenters to the Saints murdering, Act.25.20. [And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters.] Yea, it is, as it were a burying of a sword & putting of it into a Robbers hand, to cut of all that’s walking or trafficking in the Kings free road; yea it will be found to be a joyning Issue and interest with Gods stated and declared enemies, and they may expect to be ranked up amongst the number of these enemies (that our sweet Lord Jesus Christ, who is King and alone head of his Church,) will pass that Sentence against, if speedy Repentance prevent not, Luk.19.27. But these mine enemies which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither and slay them before me.
Likewise I do protest against the paying of Teind (which properly belongs to the Ministers of Christ) to Mr. John Barckley, which is acknowledging him who is both a Thief and a Robber, to be a lawful Minister of Jesus Christ, according to that Scripture, Joh.10. He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber, which Theif and Robber Mr. John Barckley is; for Christ is the door, ver.7. I am the door of the sheep, and not the Lordly Prelats, which was the entry that Mr. John Barckley entered in, and all the rest both did, and doeth enter; therefore they are all Thieves and Robbers, Mat.20.25. Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercised dominion over them, &c. ver.26. but it shall not be so among you, but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your Minister, Luk.22.25,26,27. But I am among you as he that serveth; 1Pet. 5.3. Neither being lords over Gods heritage, but being ensamples to the flock: And Mr. John Barckley was thrust in upon the flock against their wills by the Lordly Prelat, without so much as the Call of the least of all the Paroch; yea I was witness that day, that he was thrust in (to my shame I may tell this, and to the praise of his free Grace that has reclaimed me) and there was not one that would rise to take him by the hand, till they were threatened by the rest of the Hirelings; therefore he entred not by the door, but clim’d up another way, therefore he is both a Thief and a Robber, and a false Prophet, Jer. 23.21. I have not sent these Prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken unto them, yet they prophesied. Mat. 7.15,16. Beware of false Prophets, which come to you in sheeps clothing, but inwardly they are ravening Wolves, ye shall know them by their fruits: 2Pet. 2.12. But these are natural brute beasts, &c. Jer. 10.21. For the Pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord; therefore they shall not prosper. Ezek. 13.3. Thus saith the Lord, wo unto the foolish Prophet, ver.9. Mine hand shall be upon the Prophets that see visions and divine lies, thay shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writings of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel, and ye shall know that I am the Lord God, because, even because they have seduced my people, saying, peace, and there was no peace, &c. to the 27. 2Cor. 11.15. Therefore it is no great thing if these Ministers also be transformed as the Ministers of Righteousness, whose end shall be according to their works. Ezek. 34.4. Wo be to the shepherds of Israel that doth feed themselves, &c. Ezek. 13.4. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Prophets shall be ashamed, &c. Mal. 2.8. But ye are departed out of the way, ye have caused many to stumble at the Law, ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord: therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, &c. O ye dumb dogs, the blood of many souls will be found in your skirts, and in a little God will bring you to judgement, and will require the blood of all the souls in that congregation at your hands, Ezek. 3.18. The same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand: I doubt nothing, but it would be acceptable service to God, to do with you all as Elijah did with Baals prophets, 1King. 18.40. Take the Prophets of Baal, let not one escape, ye greedy dogs which can never have enough; come say ye, let us fill our selves with strong drink, and the morrow shall be as this day, and much more abundantly. Ye think your kingdoms will never be shaken, I doubt nothing but Baals Prophets thought so to, but they got a disappointment, and I doubt nothing but ye will meet with the like They cried to their God, but they were not heard: When any thing troubles you we may cry to your god, which is your belly, and to your King, which is King Charles, but rather that Tyrant, which you are all crying up so fast, and blessing him; it may be ye may get some kind of comfort, but I am sure that, the day will come, that both you and others that are crying him so fast up this day, will cry and not be heard, and will be made to curse your King and your God and look upward. It may be some will say, What needs all this hatred? I answer, Psal. 139.21[-22]. Do not I hate them, O Lord, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them as mine enemies. They’ll may be say, I may hate them, and cry not out to let all the world know it. I answer, Luk. 19.40. I tell you if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. I doubt not but some will say that I am mad to do that which will procure the hatred of all Ranks; I care not what perjured Apostats say, for my God hath said unto me, fear not, for I am with you, be not dismayed, for I am your God, I will strengthen thee, yea, I will help thee, yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. I confesse if I would have sought counsel at flesh and blood, or yet at backsliding Ministers or Professors, I would not have ventured; but praise to the Name of my God, he hath advised me better in Matth. 18.28. Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul, but rather fear him which is able to kill both soul and body in Hell.
Written and subscribed with mine own hand, at ——— [Kettle?] the ——– [Third?] day of ———– [the fourth month?] 1681.
Sic subscribitur, [James] Russel.’