MOST of the Monuments
erected in honour of our Carrick Covenanters have been renewed, the
originals having mouldered away. And this is not to be wondered at,
seeing it is now about 200 years since most of them were erected. Still,
one or two of the original stones remain, being made of better material
than the others, or better cared for.
The most perfect of these
is the stone in Kirkmichael Churchyard, of which a drawing is here
given. Tradition has handed it down that this stone was rehewn by Robert
Paterson, alias "Old Mortality," who died in 1800; and an interesting
circumstance connected with it is that one morning the name of the
persecutor, "the laird of Culzean and Ballochmil" was found erased by
some friends of his, although the erasure was speedily filled in again.
(The shading around the above words in the engraving shows the erasure.)
This ancient stone is now inserted in a larger and more imposing
memorial (erected 1829), so that it bids fair to stand unimpaired for
many years to come.
In the days of my
boyhood, I used to be told that on the date of this persecutor's burial
in the old Collegiate Church of Maybole, a coach and horses of fire were
seen driving furiously far out at sea, and when hailed by some
stouthearted sailor, in the usual formula—"From whence to where 1" the
reply came—"From Hell to Culzean's burial" I remember I used to wonder
as to the origin of this story; but it is plainly a myth formed in the
minds of the Carrick peasantry out of the hatred inspired by the
Covenanting persecutions. The Culzean Kennedys are now passed away, even
their tomb is rifled and trodden down, and their place is occupied by
the Cassillis Kennedys, who were all staunchly covenanting.
The stone (re-erected
1824) marking the grave of Thomas M'Haffie, the Straiton martyr, is
small, but in good preservation. Strange to say, the original still
smaller stone, with its quaint lettering, stands by the side of the new
one, and bids fair to outlast it, as the auld brig of Ayr did the new
John Semple's tombstone
stands in Old Dailly Churchyard. The original slab may be seen lying on
the ground within the railing. As this latter, however, was decaying,
the late Dr Wm. Symington, of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Glasgow,
came this way in July, 1825, and preached in the open air, close by,
from Nehemiah ii. 3: "Why should not my countenance be sad, when the
place of my fathers' sepulchres lieth waste? " At this meeting,
sufficient funds were raised to erect the present Memorial. Even this,
however, was lately showing signs of decay, when a few friends
subscribed sufficient to have it oiled, and the lettering renewed.
A more elegant Monument
was erected a few years ago by the people of the district in honour of
John Stevenson of Camregan, George Martin, Schoolmaster, and other old
Dailly Covenanters who suffered for the Cause of Freedom. This stone
stands a few yards off. John Stevenson's family tombstone still remains.
The original stone
erected over the remains of the two Barrhill martyrs may still be seen
within the enclosing wall of the present Memorial, beside the cross
water of Duisk. The new tablet is of white marble, and is in good
condition. The site is certainly the most picturesque of all the
resting-places of our Carrick martyrs.
I was delighted to notice
that the small stone in Barr Churchyard, pointing out the last
resting-place of their young martyr, is carefully preserved. It has been
tastefully painted, and supported with iron, and the quaint old
lettering duly brought out.
Although the Memorial
Stone erected over the grave of Matthew M'llwraith in Colmonell
Churchyard has disappeared, there is every likelihood that a new one
will speedily be erected by the Colmonell people, worthy of them and of
the cause it commemorates. Such historical landmarks make a parish
richer, and do something towards strengthening the love of civil and
religious liberty in the hearts of those who dwell in it.
The substantial old
Thruchstane, in Maybole Churchyard, marking the grave of John M'Lymont
of Auchalton, who suffered in the Covenanting persecution, still
remains. For many years it had disappeared beneath the soil, but a
search being made, it was discovered little the worse of its long
These seven, with the
granite obelisk recently erected by the Maybole people in Ladycross Road
to mark the spot where Donald Cargill preached in 1681, and to record
the names of the six Maybole Covenanters who fought at Bothwell Bridge
and were afterwards drowned off the coast of the Orkneys—constitute
Carrick's share in the many Monuments reared throughout Scotland to keep
alive the memory of the most heroic period of our national history.