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History of the Burgh of Dumfries
Chapter XXIX


KING JAMES’S EFFORTS TO PRELATIZE THE CHURCH OF SCOTLAND – HAMILTON MADE BISHOP OF GALLOWAY – WILLIAM COWPER, HIS SUCCESSOR – JOHN WELSH OPPOSES THE ROYAL PROJECTS, AND IS PUNISHED WITH TRANSPORTATION – CHARLES I. ADOPTS HIS FATHER’S CHURCH POLICY, AND ENFORCES IT WITH A HIGHER HAND – HE ENDEAVOURS TO IMPOSE A LITUGY ON THE SCOTTISH CHURCH – VIOLENT OPPOSITION GIVEN TO THE SERVICE-BOOK IN EDINBURGH – THE FOUR TABLES FORMED, AND THE NATIONAL COVENANT SIGNED – WAR INEVITABLE – THE CONVENANTERS RAISE AN ARMY, AND MAKE OTHER PROVISIONS FOR THE PENDING CONFLICT – DUMFRIES SENDS REPRESENTATIVES TO THE FOUR TABLES, WITH INSTRUCTIONS TO SET THEIR FACES AGAINST ALL PRELATICAL INNOVATIONS – AN INDEPENDENT GENERAL ASSEMBLY EXCOMMUNICATES THE PRELATES, AND RESUCITATES PRESBYTERIANISM – A CONVENANTING WAR COMMITTEE SITS AT CULLENOCH, AND SOMETIMES AT DUMFRIES – MEANS EMPLOYED BY THE COMMITTEE TO RAISE AND MAINTAIN TROOPS – THE NATURE OF THE CRISIS NECESSITATES SEVERE MESURES – THE EARL OF NITHSDALE AND OTHER SYMPATHIZERS WITH THE KING TRY TO THWART THE COMMITTEE – NON-CONVENENTERS STRINGENTLY DEALT WITH – “THE SINEWS OF WAR” URGENTLY DEMANDED – FORCED LOANS OF MONEY AND THE PRECIOUS METALS RESORTED TO – CURIOUS CONTRIBUTIONS OF GOLD AND SILVER WORK TO THE CONVENATING TREASURY – THE SOUTH REGIMENT RAISED IN NITHSDALE AND GALLOWAY IS BILLETED AT DUMFRIES.

REFERENCE has already been made to King James’s treatment of the Church of Scotland, by which its Presbyterian character was subverted; and on this subject it is necessary that we should give a few more details. He was made to believe, by the Anglican clergy, that if the Scottish Establishment were assimilated to theirs, the process would help on his own favourite scheme for the legislative union of the two kingdoms. That he might with more safety carry out his plans, he refused to summon a General Assembly; but the representatives of nine Presbyteries met at Aberdeen, in 1605, and constituted themselves into an Assembly, in the name of the great Head of the Church. The leader of this contumacious movement was the celebrated John Welsh, whose father, of the same name, was laird of Colliston, and other estates in Dunscore and Holywood. [The Welshes were settled at a very early period in Nithsdale. Nicholas Welsh was Abbot of Holywood in 1488; Dean William Welsh was Vicar of Tynron in 1530: soon after the latter date, Dean Robert Welsh was vicar of the same parish; and John Welsh was Vicar of Dunscore, and he took office in the Reformed Church in 1560. – Young’s Life of John Welsh.] Being of a romantic, adventurous disposition, Welsh, when a mere boy, left his father’s house, and lived for a while a vagrant, lawless life, with a band of Border robbers. His “wild oats” were soon sown out; and the repentant prodigal, presenting himself at the door of his aunt, Mrs. Forsyth, who resided in Dumfries, was received by her with motherly tenderness, and through her good offices he was reconciled to his father. When at Dumfries, he is said to have attended the grammar school which, soon after the Reformation, was set up in the Burgh, and the first teacher of which, Ninian Dalyell, was deposed by the General Assembly, for having read the Roman Catechism to his scholars. In 1592 we find young Welsh (he was just twenty-two) settled down as a devoted Christian minister in the parish of Kirkcudbright; and in 1598 we see him entering the controversial lists against Gilbert Brown, Commendator of Sweetheart Abbey, and that with such success as to elicit a hearty eulogium from the King, who, besides praising Welsh’s defence of Protestantism, rated Brown as “a foolish reasoner.” If James could only bring over to his views this profound and brilliant Nithsdale divine, the battle he had with Presbytery would be more than half gained. Welsh scorned to accept the high preferment with which his Majesty sought to bribe him: he paid more regard to his own integrity than to his royal favour – preferred the perilous wilderness of Presbyterianism to all the treasures of the Prelatical Egypt; and so we find him, in 1605, bearding Majesty, and courting persecution, if not death, at Aberdeen. Welsh and five of his colleagues were actually convicted of a capital crime, their offence being treated as treason by the Crown officers; but the sentence was commuted to transportation. [Welsh spent about sixteen years of exile in France, where he gained the favour of Louis XIII., who allowed him to exercise his vocation as a preacher. On his health failing, he was permitted to return to England in 1622; but King James would on no account allow him to cross the Border when he wished to get the benefit of his native air – his Majesty declaring that he would never be able to establish Prelacy in Scotland if Mr. Welsh revisited that country. James even debarred him from preaching in London, till informed that he could not long survive; and when the preacher at length obtained access to a pulpit, he discoursed with his wonted fire and eloquence, but, on retiring to his house, expired within two hours afterwards. “And so,” says Calderwood, “endit his dayes with the deserved name of an holy man, a painfull and powerfull preachour, and a constant sufferer for the trueth.”]

James having got rid of these and other obstructives, proceeded to augment the power and influence of the Scottish bishops. They were invested by him with paramount authority over the ministers: superintending settlements and fixing stipends as they pleased. Gavin Hamilton was made Bishop of Glasgow in 1606. Since the see was occupied by a Romish prelate, thirty years before, its revenues had been reduced by alienations, annuities, and pensions to a beggarly pittance; but the considerate King dowered it with the neighbouring Abbacies of Dundrennan and Tongland, the Priory of Whithorn, and the Monastery of Glenluce, with all their churches, lands, and rents, so that Bishop Hamilton became no mean dignitary of the new Episcopal Kirk. A jovial, indolent, pleasure-loving, care-defying prelate he was. “When,” says Calderwood, “Mr. Gilbert Power, a brother of the ministry in Galloway, modestly refused a carouse offered by him, he abused him in presence of other ministers, plucking his hat from his head in his furie, and casting it upon the ground. He dispensed with the marriage of a gentleman in Galloway, named Niven Agnew of Mais, having his first wife alive; notwithstanding that the brethren of the ministry in open synod opponed unto it, as a perillous preparative, tending to the overthrow of discipline in that rude diocie, and to open a door to adulterers.” [Calderwood, p. 648.] After his death, in 1616, William Cowper, minister of Perth, who had in other days denounced the Episcopal system, was promoted to the bishopric, after which, says the author whom we have just quoted, he ceased to reside in Galloway, but dwelt “in the foot of the Cannongate, that he might be near to the Chappel Royal, where he preached as Dean, neglecting his diocie, where he ought to have preached as a bishop, if his office had been lawful. [Ibid.] Calderwood, it ought to be noticed, is especially cynical and severe when handling the bishops; and if his picture of the Galloway ones be not overdrawn, it is little wonder that Prelacy made slow progress in the diocese. Besides their jurisdiction in the Stewartry and Wigtownshire, they bore rule over the ministers of Dumfries, Closeburn, Trailflat annexed to Tinwald, Drumgree annexed to Johnstone, Staplegordon annexed to Langholm, all in Dumfriesshire. When Episcopacy was abolished at the Revolution, the net revenue of the see amounted to £5,634 15s. Scots, a larger income than that of any other Scottish bishopric, and only exceeded by the two primacies of St. Andrews and Glasgow.

In 1610, the royal plot against Presbyterianism was further developed, by the erection of the prelates into two Courts of High Commissions, with well nigh absolute powers over the ministers and members of the Church. They were invested with authority to try all persons accused of heretical opinions or immoral practices, and to punish them, on conviction, by fines, imprisonment, and excommunication – a power which they usually exercised in a most inquisitorial spirit, and so as, on mere pretences, to harass unmercifully the anti-Episcopal pastors of the Church. The Earls of Cassilis and Wigtown, the Bishop of Galloway, James Halliday, Commissary of the town of Dumfries, and Thomas Ramsay, minister there, officiated as members of the Commission for the southern division of Scotland [Calderwood, p. 617.]; but from what we know of Mr. Ramsay, he would have no relish for the work assigned to him. Calderwood truly says: - “This Commission put the King in possession of that which he had long hunted for, to wit, absolute power to use the bodies and goods of his subjects at pleasure, without form or processe of the common law. So our bishops were fit instruments to overthrow the liberties both of kirk and countrey.” The King ventured to summon an Assembly in the same years, confidently anticipating that it would give full effect to his new device. It met at Glasgow on the 8th of June; the Presbytery of Dumfries being represented in it by Messrs. Thomas Ramsay, Robert Hunter, Robert Henrison, and Simeon Johnston; and that of Kirkcudbright by Bishop Hamilton, and Messrs. William Hamilton, Robert Glendinning, and James Donaldon. His Majesty was correct in supposing that the Assembly would prove subservient to his devices. Resolutions were passed by it declaring the Assembly at Aberdeen to be null, establishing the Courts of High Commission, and adopting other disgraceful measures – there being but seven dissentients, of whom the minister of Dumfries was one. [Calderwood, p. 632.]

Chiefly for the purpose of completing his victory over Presbyterianism, King James, as we have seen, visited Edinburgh in 1617. To the General Assembly, then sitting, he bluntly declared: “The bishops must rule the ministers, and I rule both;” and the Assembly of the following summer was sufficiently obsequious to adopt, with forty-five dissentients, the Five Articles of Faith, with enforced – (1) Kneeling at the communion; (2) private communion; (3) private baptism; (4) confirmation of children; and (5) observance of festivals.

When James died, in 1625, he was succeeded by his son, Charles I., who had imbibed all his father’s extravagant ideas of the royal prerogative, and who proceeded to act upon them with a recklessness that soon evoked the opposition of his subjects in both kingdoms. Scottish Presbyterianism was so diametrically at variance with that passive obedience which Charles deemed his birthright, and with that ecclesiastical system of which he was a bigoted votary, that he resolved, if possible, to render Prelacy paramount in his northern dominions, and thus complete the fabric begun by his predecessor. After a few preliminary steps, he commissioned Robert, Earl of Nithsdale, to hold a Convention of Estates, in order to obtain from them an Act restoring to the Crown all the titles and church lands that had been shared among the nobility, or been otherwise disposed of during the two preceding reigns – the infatuated monarch desiring, by means of this wealth, to build up the Scottish hierarchy in a style of imposing magnificence. In vain, however, did Nithsdale press this self-sacrificing project on the assembled barons. They resisted it with such firmness, that it was hopelessly abandoned.

Though baffled in this endeavour, Charles continued to prosecute his darling scheme; and, with Laud, Archbishop of Canterbury, as his willing instrument, he resolved to impose a liturgy on the Church – the hazardous experiment to be tried first in Edinburgh, it being supposed that, as many of its inhabitants were dependent upon the Court, it would have the best chance of success there; and that if it really succeeded, the country at large would follow the example of the capital. How the fine-laid scheme of the King and Prelate was thwarted – annihilated, by a humble Presbyterian matron – the immortal Jenny Geddes – is known to every one. “Villain! dost thou say mass at my lug!” were the words, and a “cutty stool” was the weapon, with which the audacious innovation was indignantly challenged and repelled. The violent opposition given in Edinburgh to the Service-Book met with general approval, and elicited a kindred feeling in all quarters. In order to direct it with concentrated force against the King’s obnoxious measures, a meeting was held in the metropolis, comprising influential men from all parts of Scotland; a petition for redress, emanating from it, was replied to be a royal letter, arrogantly commanding the petitioners to leave the city within twenty-four hours; and the latter, finding that they need look for no concessions, formed a National Committee, or provisional government, to protect their rights, consisting of members elected from the various classes of noblemen, gentlemen, clergymen, and burgesses. Thus the Four Tables were originated, after which their constituents returned to their own homes.

The signing of the National Covenant, on the 28th of February, 1638, was the next great stage of the patriotic movement. Such a burst of enthusiasm was thereby elicited as had not been witnessed in the land for centuries. The monarch must have been infatuated, when he saw but heeded not the warning lesson which it gave. The prelates looked on in terror and dismay; and one of them, the Archbishop of St. Andrews, expressed their sentiments when he exclaimed despairingly, “All that we have been doing for thirty years is now scattered to the winds!”

The King, with the view of averting the threatened storm, sent the marquis of Hamilton to Scotland, authorizing him to make some important concessions. These had no effect upon the Covenanters, who continued to pursue their schemes with unrelenting vigour. They invited their friends, employed in military service abroad, to return home and assist them in the struggle that was full surely approaching; and they instituted extensive measures for procuring the munitions of war. Provision for the extension and better maintenance of the Presbyterian Church, as opposed to the Prelatical Establishment, was also made. Among the ministers settled at this time were Mr. James Hamilton, over the Dumfries congregation, and Mr. John M’Lellan, over that of Kirkcudbright; whilst the distinguished Samuel Rutherford, who had been deposed and banished from Anwoth at the instance of Sydserff, Bishop of Galloway, for preaching against the Five Articles, returned to his old parishioners, by whom he was welcomed with gratitude and joy. Hamilton was sent back to Scotland, armed with new instructions of a conciliatory kind; and thinking, by one crowning act, to satisfy the malcontents, he summoned a General Assembly, which met, according to appointment, at Glasgow, on the 21st of November, 1638. No more impolitic Assembly afforded the Tables the legal machinery for carrying out their schemes; and the members who composed that venerable body proved willing agents in the work.

The Dumfries Presbytery was represented at this ever-memorable Assembly by Mr. William Macgeorge, of Carlaverock, by Mr. Alexander Train, of Lochrutton, ministers; and by Mr. John Irving, ex-Provost of Dumfries, and Mr. John Charteris, younger of Amisfield, elders. The Burgh also sent its own members to the special parliament of the Tables: these were, William Faries and John Copland, whose instructions, dated the 7th of July, 1638, ran thus: - “You are constituted our comissionaris to attend at Edinburgh, or whatsumevir other place shall be fund expedient, until the several syattis do ces, for receiving such answer or answeris as shall cum from his Majestie, the Lordis of Privie Counsell, or any uther his Majesties Comissionaris, off our former supplicationis and complents against the Service Buik, Buik of Canons, the Comissione, and other innovations and grivancis, particularlie expresit and generally conteint in our former supplications; and the Prelatis, our pairties [enemies], as the authoris and contryveris thereof; and to give in new remonstrances, and to prefer new petitions to his Majestie, conforme to the laitt Covenant sworne and subscryved be us; and to treat, resolve, and consult upon such offertuis and expedienteis as may conduce for furthering the contentis of the said supplicationis and Covenant; and for eschewing any prejudiciall to the same; and to concurre be all laufll means with the Comissioniris of the nobilitie, barones, ministeris, and remanent burrowis, in all laufull means fund be comon consent to conduce to such good issues.” [Burgh Records.] These thorough-going instructions were signed by Provost John Corsane and ten Councillors, who promised, in the name of the community, to “abyde, fulfill, and underly” whatever “the said Comissionaris shall laufullie doe” in the business assigned to them.

The Tables and the General Assembly vied with each other in giving effect to the declared will of the country against the King. So sweeping were the measures mooted in the Assembly that the Royal Commissioner stood aghast, and then in his sovereign’s name ordered the sittings to terminate. He dissolved the Assembly with all due form, but the refractory members declined to separate; and when he left the court they coolly proceeded with the business before them; and by a succession of acts excommunicated the two archbishops and six bishops, annulled the Five Articles and the Service-book, and raised Presbyterianism up anew on the ruins of the Episcopal Establishment. The special charge against Bishop Sydserff was that of being but a half-disguised Papist. The Provost of Dumfries, in giving evidence against the accused prelate, deponed: “That when he was in their towne on the Sabbath day, they expected his comeing to the kirk, and layd cushions for him; yet he came not, but went to an excommunicat Papist’s house, and stayed all day.” None of the dignitaries were present – no one had a word to say in their defence; and their downfall was the theme of general congratulation out of doors. The Assembly which had been so destructive to the Episcopate, made many important arrangements for the better development of the resuscitated Presbyterian system, and was altogether an extraordinary one – the reflex and exponent of the Scottish ecclesiastical mind at a most critical time. Much ingenuity and labour had for years been expended in building up the Prelatical Establishment; but it was inveterately disliked by the people over whom it was set, and it needed nothing more than the breath of their representatives to blow it down. At the close of the solemn proceedings, Alexander Henderson, the moderator, was well entitled to exclaim, as he did, “We have now cast down the walls of Jericho: let him that rebuildeth beware of the curse of Thiel the Bethelite!”

Charles, unhappily, sought to reconstruct the shattered ecclesiastical edifice, and to lay stone after stone on the arbitrary political structure he wished to build up: both schemes signally failed, and involved his own ruin. War – with the Scots first, then with the English, terminating at last with the entire defeat of the royal troops at Naseby, by Cromwell, on the 12th of June, 1645 – brought matters to an end: for a while the military genius of Montrose cast a halo of splendour and success over the desperate fortunes of the King, and when that disappeared they were left in utter darkness.

Among the myriads who flocked to the Greyfriars’ Church-yard, Edinburgh, to subscribe the National Covenant, were many persons of all ranks from Nithsdale; and soon copies of the document, sent down to the district, were signed there to unanimously and heartily that its inhabitants became inseparably mixed up with the terrible “fifty years’ struggle” which Scottish Presbyterianism underwent before its rights were won. The subscribers of the Covenant expressed, by their so doing, their resolution “to adhere to and defend the true religion;” “to labour, by all means lawful, to recover the purity and liberty of the gospel as it was established and possessed” before the late innovations were made; “to resist all these contrary errors and corruptions” to the utmost of the power that God had put into their hands, while life continued; “to support the King’s person and authority” in the defence and maintenance “of the foresaid true religion, liberties, and laws of the kingdom;” and, finally, that they would never, directly or indirectly, suffer themselves to be divided or withdrawn, “by whatsoever suggestion, combination, allurement, or terror,” from this “blessed and loyal conjunction.”

Within a few months after the memorable day when the Earl of Sutherland affixed his name, the first upon the roll of this famous bond, the people, as a whole, had signed it – the Covenant had become thoroughly nationalized; and forthwith the War Committee of the Tables commenced to levy an army for its defence, which, on being formed, was placed under the command of Alexander Leslie, afterwards Earl of Leven, who had seen much hard service in Holland and Sweden, and risen from obscurity to be the favourite field-marshal of Gustavus Adolphus. A large force was needed; and eventually thirty thousand men were enrolled, ready to follow the Covenanting flag to victory or death. Immense difficulties had to be encountered before such a body of soldiers could be secured, disciplined, and placed on a permanent footing; and of these we obtain a striking idea from a work recently published, the “Minute-book kept by the War Committee of the Covenanters in the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright” [Published by J. Nicholson, Kirkcudbright, 1855.], the original of which has been carefully preserved in the charter-chest of Cardoness. As this Committee exercised jurisdiction over a part of Nithsdale, as it sometimes held meetings in Dumfries, and as the principal member of it, Thomas, second Lord Kirkcudbright, was appointed colonel of the South Regiment, which was raised on both sides of the Nith, it will be proper for us to take special notice of its proceedings.

The Committee usually sat at the village of Laurieston, then called Cullenoch. In its first minute, dated 27th June, 1640, it was resolved that a troop of eighty horsemen, demanded from the Stewartry and Wigtownshire, should be drawn in due proportion from each parish; “and that ilk horseman have for arms, at the leist, ane steill cape and sworde, ane paire of pistolles, and ane lance;” for furnishing of which each trooper was to be allowed twenty six-dollars. At another sederunt, ten days afterwards, the captains of the regiment were assigned their different quota of soldiers; and various arrangements were made for their maintenance, by rates on land and voluntary contributions of money and goods. Gradually the free-will offerings became exhausted, and forced loans, as well as fines on non-Covenanters, were resorted to. The Committee, taking their instructions from, and acting in the spirit of, the Tables in Edinburgh, relied in the first instance - on patriotism and religious zeal of friends; and then on exactions drawn from doubtful, apathetic, or niggardly individuals, or from those who were the declared opponents of the Covenant. The two latter classes were stringently dealt with. Friends and foes were required to give of their substance to support the national cause; and those who from any motive desired to remain aloof from the movement were soon made to feel that no neutrality would be allowed – that they who were not from the Covenant would be treated as enemies to it, and be forced to uphold it, if not by personal service, at least by their money and their goods. A great crisis had come; and the men who ventured their all in trying to bring out of it a new state of things, were sometimes not too particular as to the means they employed for accomplishing their object. They were terribly in earnest; they realized the tremendous issues bound up in the conflict on which they had entered; they saw that failure would be ruin, not simply to themselves, but to their country and the sacred cause of which they were the champions – that success would secure political freedom and the full recognition of the rights of conscience: and so feeling and thinking, they could not be expected to deal very tenderly with wavering adherents, much less with those “malignants” who either openly opposed them or covertly endeavoured to thwart their plans, and bring back the deluge of prelatic and regal despotism from which they had been so recently delivered.

By the arbitrary measures of the King and his advisers, Scotland had been turned into a camp; and its occupants could not, in the nature of things, be expected to regulate their proceedings by the rules of ordinary life. Peace and its amenities were gone; and the Covenanters were shut up to the necessity of adopting means that were in themselves harsh, but which the exigencies of their attitude rendered just. They would have been very well content if his Majesty had permitted them to worship God in their own way; but since he insisted on them doing it in a way which they detested and deemed unscriptural, he, and not they, were responsible for the evils which arose out of their resistance to his tyranny. We learn from the Stewartry minute-book that in each of the midland and southern counties a War Committee, composed of influential men, was formed, which, in subordination to the Committee of Estates in Edinburgh, held military occupation of their respective localities. The chief duty of these Committees was to prepare armed levies for the pending struggle; but in doing so they had to assume and exercise a dictatorship over secular and ecclesiastical matters; and even occasionally to act as judicial tribunals.

On the 2nd of December, 1640, the Kirkcudbright Committee found, by a warrant sent from the metropolis, that they were empowered “to sit upon civil affaires;” and they accordingly resolved that all parties “having controversies betwixt thame shall upon laufull pursute have justice” – a determination which they sought to carry into effect by giving judgment in divers cases recorded in their minutes; though they never thought of superseding the usual officials when they were willing to officiate. “Treulie,” say the Committee of Estates, in giving instructions on this subject to their representatives at Kirkcudbright, “it were incumbent to you, in respect to the generall calamatie throw want of justice, to advert particularlie that justice be administrate, and necessary and trew debtes be satisfied, and gif your ordinar judges be deficient, being desyrit be you to doe justice, it is your pairt, in caicess of necessitie, to bring the pairties befoir you, and sie order and credit keepit within your boundes sae far as you are able.”

All other matters, however, as we have hinted, were subordinated to those of war. “Give us recruits – men to fight their country’s battles, and means with which to maintain them!” was the constant cry from Edinburgh. How urgently and eloquently it is enforced in the following message, dated the 30th of June! – “Because barrones and gentilmen of good soirt are the greatest and maist pouerfull pairt of the kingdome, by quhas valure the kingdome hath ever been defendit, we do maist earnestlie require and expect that everie barron and gentilman of good soirt shall come to the armie in thair own persones, or at leist thair ablest sone, brother, or friend. And, that all noblemen, gentlemen, and uthers may be encouraged to come out as volunteires in sua good ane cawse, for maintainance of religione and preservatioun of the libertie of this antient and never conqueirit kingdome, which we are all sworne to mantain; it is earnestlie desyrit that all brave cavaliers will tak the business to hart, and consider that now or never is the tyme to gaine honour and eternal reputatioun, and to saive or lose thair countrie.” Following up this spirited exhortation, the Committee at Cullenoch, on the 13th of July, expressed an opinion that one or more commissioners should be appointed for each parish in the Stewartry “to uplift the sogers, both the foote and horss, mantainance and armes;” and they ordained “the said commissioners to plunder any persone that shall happen no to mak thankfull payment of the sogers pey, and that the parochinares assist the commissioners for doeing thairof.”

Some of these officials, after being nominated, either refused to act or performed their work carelessly, which insubordination and neglect the Committee could not tolerate. On the 1st of September, William Lindsay, commissioner for Colvend and Southwick; John Charteris (of the Amisfield family), commissioner for Terregles; the Laird of Dalskairth and John Brown, commissioners for Troqueer; Hugh Maxwell, in Torrorie, commissioner for Kirkbean; and David Cannan, commissioner for Buittle, were cited “to compeir befoir the Committee of Estaites, at Edinburgh, the viij. day of September instant; thair to ansuer for thair neglect for not out-putting of the troupe and baggage horss.” At this very time, as we shall afterwards see, the Earl of Nithsdale was in arms against the Covenanters, and maintaining the King’s cause in his castles of Carlaverock and Thrieve; he having been prompted to do so by an autograph letter from his Majesty, which required “Nithisdaille” to look to himself, for that longer than “the 13th of the next month [March, 1640] I will not warrant you that ye heare of a breache betwixt me and my Covenanting Rebelles.” [The original letter is still preserved at Terregles House.] He was looked upon by Charles as the leader of the royalist party in the district; and, in vindication of this opinion, Nithsdale not only called out his followers, but exercised his influence, which was still strong, over many families in the district, to secure their active support, and, failing that, their neutrality. It was he chiefly who set agoing the strong undercurrent which the War Committee in Kirkcudbright and Dumfries encountered in various quarters, and of which the contumacy of the above-named commissioners was an illustrative display.

It was further manifested by refusals to sign the Covenant, by evasions of the rate levied to support the army, and by desertions from its ranks. On the 30th of September, John Halliday of Fauldbey, David Halliday of Marguillian, John M’Ghie in Barnbord, and Hames M’Connel of Creoch, threw themselves upon the pleasure of the Committee, “for not subscribing of the Generall Bond;” and the Committee, at the same sitting, ordained “David M’Mollan, in St. John’s Clauchan, for his contempt to his captaine, minister, and elders, in not going forth to the armie, being enrolled, to pey presentlie fourtie punds, and to stay in ward, in the tollbuithe of Kirkcudbryt, until the day of the rendevouez at Milnetown of Urr, and then to march with the rest of the runaways; and gif the said fine of fourtie punds be not peyit befoir he march, in that caice he shall pey ane hundred merks of fine.” The Committee sat at Dumfries on the 29th of December, and determined the cases of several deserters, some of whom were excused on account of sickness. The following minute records part of the business: - “The quhilk day the Committee, finding that severall of the captaines of the parochess have been negligent of the charge committed to thame, and in especiall that of the inbringing of the runaways, Thairfore ordaines John Reddick of Dalbeattie, captaine of the parochen of Urr; John M’Cellane of Auchengule, and John Cutlar of Orrdand, captaines of the parochen of Rerrick, betwixt and the last of this instant, to inbring thair runaways, and delyver thame to the captaines here at Dumfries; and for ilk man they failzie to produce, to pey xl. Merks money attour the production.”

We subjoin another suggestive minute of the Committee’s proceedings, when sitting at Kirkcudbright, on the 1st of January, 1641: - “The whilk day, anent the supplicatione presented be Johne Murray of Broughtone, in the name of Robert Maxwell of Culnachtrie, and Mary Lindsay of Rascattell, schawing that they bothe, to the dishonour of God and evil example of uthers, did kythe thamesellffes enemies to the gude caus in hand, in verbo et facto, which did proceed from ane oath raschlie given be thame to thair maister, the Erle of Nithisdaill; are now maist willing to give obedience to the law of God and man, and hes beene supplicating the presbiterie to reseve thame in to the bosom of Christe’s Kirk againe; desyering, in the meantime, that the said Committie would caus thair Commissar-Depute desist in proceeding against thame, or with intromissione with thair goodes and geir, as the said supplicatione beirs. The quhilk being heard, sein, and considderit, doeth ordain the said Laird of Broughtone cautioner that thair haile gudes and geir shall be futhcummane for the use of the publict, and the said commissar to desist with anie intromissione thairwith.”

In spite of numerous hindrances, the Kirkcudbright Committee managed to raise something like their full complement of soldiers. When reports to that effect were sent to Edinburgh, down came pressing demands for money, articles of silver, and clothing. “You have, as faithful servants of the Kirk, provided the men, but your duty is only half done till you provide for their maintenance also; you must collect ‘the haile tenth and twentieth penny’ of the lands valuation; ‘the rentes and gudes of all Papists, anti-Covenanters, pretendit bischops, recusants, and uther unfreindes;’ you must in addition borrow money, silver plate, and jewels; and furnish uniforms and boots and shoes for your own division of the national army.” Messages of this purport were ever and anon received by the little junto sitting at Cullenoch, Kirkcudbright, or Dumfries; and dutiful attention was paid to the same. Whilst the people in general co-operated cheerfully with the Committee, paying their rates, and lending their money and goods for the support of a cause which was dear to them as life itself, there were, as we have said, a considerable proportion of recusants, from whom contributions had to be wrung, as if, instead of being required to draw their purses, they had been asked to part with their teeth.

Every day, Sabbath excepted, might be seen sitting the Toblooth or Town Hall of Dumfries or Kirkcudbright, from ten o’clock till two, half a dozen “substanteious” burgesses, appointed by the Presbytery and sanctioned by the Committee “to ressaive any lent monie, or silver or gold worke quhilk shall be delyverit to thame” – the lenders receiving tickets of acknowledgment entitling them to obtain security from the Estates, that after the troubles were over, if not sooner, they would be paid at the rate of three pounds per ounce of Scots silver work, three pounds two shillings per ounce of English silver work, and twenty-eight pounds per ounce for articles of gold. If individuals known to be wealthy come with theirs goods or gear of their own accord, all the better; if not, a list is made out of such, and they are cited to appear before the Committee and explain why they have not responded to the call made upon their liberality. When the defaulters “compeir” they perhaps plead poverty or debt, or promise to be speedily forthcoming with the sums required of them. Thus, we find such statements as the following made upon oath: - “Johne Greggane, elder in Newabbay, hes only jc. [one hundred] merks monie of the realm;” “Johne Broune, elder at Bridgend of Dumfries, about xjⁿⁿ [eleven score] merks;” Johne Broune, younger thair, hes iijc. [three hundred] merks, which he is awand to creditore;” “johne M’Dowall in Kirkmabreck, nihil; and John Cutlar in Dundrennan, nihil.” Then, as showing how productive the demand for wares made of the precious metals proved, we have such articles as these dropped into the Covenanting treasury: - “Twa silver piecess, ane paire long wyres, nyne silver spoones, broken and haile,” weighing over twenty ounces, and containing three ounces of “evill silver,” which were rejected; “four silver spoones, ane pair belt heides, ane pair silver weires, and foure uther litle pieces of silver, broken and haille,” weight eleven ounces, fifteen drops; “ane gilt coupe, Inglis worke,” weight five ounces, fourteen drops; “ane silver piece, Scots worke, ane gilt silver saltfat, with xiiij. “ane silver spoones,” weight two pounds nine ounces; “delyverit by John Charters of Barnecleuche [formerly a stout recusant] sex silver spoones, Scots work,” ten ounces in weight; “ delyverit by the Lady Cardyness, in name of her husband, ane silver cope, ane stak of ane fann and sax silver spoones,” weight fifteen ounces fifteen drops. On the first of September, 1640, James Gordon of Lochinkit was taken to task “for conceiling of the monie in prejudice of the publict, and lending of the sameyn to ane uther partie;” Grissell Gordone, spouse to the deceased minister of Urr. was ordained “to present her silve worke, viz: - The twa piecess that was bought by the paroche of Urr for the use of the kirk, and sex silver spoones, pertaining to the aires of said minister;” and a widow, whose name is mentioned, is required “to present her bairnes silver worke, and that notwithstanding” any reason adduced to the contrary. If moneyed men failed to appear before the Committee or collectors when summoned, they were heavily fined; and if repeated warnings and penalties proved ineffectual, a portion of their property was poinded and sold for the public service.

When the South Regiment was fairly raised in Nithsdale and Galloway, it was billeted on the Burgh of Dumfries: its presence, we suppose, being required there to keep the Maxwell influence in check. But the inhabitants, though good Covenanters, considered, reasonably enough, that the burden of providing quarters for the troops should be divided; and they having represented their grievance to the Committee of Estates, that body, in a letter dated the 10th of December, 1640, enjoined Lord Kirkcudbright to make three divisions of the army, placing one at Dumfries, one at Kirkcudbright, and one within Lord Johnstone’s division (probably Annandale), unless he could manage to pay the town of Dumfries “tymelie satisfactione” for the undue draught made upon its resources. “But,” said the Committee, in continuation, “if the regiment could be keipit togither, we would rather wish it, quhilk cannot be unless your lordship caus hasten the uplifting and payment of all that is dew within your divisione, suche as the tenth and twentieth penny, anti-convenaters’ and papists’ rentes, and uthe dews to the publict, conforme to the generall instructions, and cause the samen to be delyverit to the commissar at Dumfries, for the use of the said regiment.” It is peremptorily stated in a postscript, that “if money cum not into the commissar, for the use of the regiment, beforre the xxth of this instant, they cannot indure longer delay, and they have orders to devyde, efter than tyme, in caice betwixt and that they get not a supplie.”


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