THE Castle of Rutherglen seems to
have been at one time a place of considerable strength and importance.
This structure, which was said to have been erected by Reuther, a king
whose name is associated with the origin of the town, was, indeed, ranked
among the fortresses of the country.
During the troubles which broke out
in consequence of the contested claims of Bruce and Baliol, the usurper,
Edward of England, took possession of this and other castles of Scotland.
According to Blind Harry, the
biographer of Wallace, a peace was concluded here between England and
Scotland in 1297. From the same authority we learn that it was also at
this place that the fause
Menteith engaged for
English gold to consign his name to eternal infamy, by the betrayal of the
peerless Knight of Ellerslie.
Robert the Bruce, when he raised the
standard of his country’s independence, determined to wrest this important
place of strength from the English. He accordingly laid siege to it in the
year 1309. On hearing of this, Edward sent his nephew, the young Earl of
Gloucester (who was also related to Bruce), to relieve the garrison. What
the result was is somewhat doubtful. In 1313, however, the Scottish
king took possession of Rutherglen Castle, having driven the English from
the country and made a descent upon England, carrying fire and sword into
several of the northern counties, which found it to their interest to
The castle continued in existence
until the Battle of Langside, when it was burned to the ground by the
Regent Murray, as an act of vengeance on the house of Hamilton, in whose
hands it then was. One of the towers was afterwards repaired and fitted up
as a residence by Hamilton of Ellistoun, who was then laird of Shawfield
and other property in the vicinity.
On the decline of the family it was
again suffered to fall into decay, and at length became entirely
dilapidated, and was levelled with the ground. It may be mentioned that
the ruin of the Hamilton family was generally ascribed, at the time, to
the immediate judgment of heaven drawn down upon them by their persecuting
At the period when our covenanting
forefathers made such a noble stand for liberty of conscience and the
independence of the National Church, the minister of Rutherglen was a Rev.
John Dickson. In consequence of an information lodged by Sir James
Hamilton of Ellistoun, this good man was dragged from his church, and put
in prison. We shall quote a passage from Wodrow’s History, to show
the sequel :—" Mr. Dickson was kept in durance till the Parliaments sat,
when his church was vacated and he was brought into much trouble. We shall
afterwards find him a prisoner in the Bass for near seven years; and yet
he got through his troubles, and returned to his charge at Rutherglen, and
for several years after the Revolution served his Master there, till his
death in a good old age.
"While that family who pursued him
is awhile extinct, and their house, as Mr. Douglas foretold, in the
hearing of some yet alive, after it had become a habitation for owls, the
foundation stones of it were digged up." Such is the story as given by
good Mr. Wodrow, minister of Eastwood or Pollokshaws, and who wrote
immediately after the event. He further says :—" The inhabitants there
(that is, at Rutherglen, cannot but observe that the informers, accusers,
and witnesses against Mr. Dickson, some of them then magistrates of the
town, are brought so low that they are supported by the charity of the