Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed.
Glenora Single Malt Whisky

Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.
Scottish Review

Click here to get a Printer Friendly Page

The History of Glasgow
Volume 2 - Chapter XXXII - In the Last Years of Charles II.


THE next step in the political drama of the West of Scotland was taken by a man who had a close connection with Glasgow. Donald or Daniel Cargill has been already mentioned in connection with the murderers of Archbishop Sharpe. He was the eldest son of Cargill of Hatton, had been appointed minister of the Barony Parish, in succession to the famous Zachary Boyd, as long previously as 1655, but had been ejected in 1662 for his rhetorical "rebuking" of King Charles. Since then he had attained note as one of the fieriest of the field preachers in the lowlands and west country, and had been among the most outstanding of the Covenanting host who engaged against the King's forces at the battle of Bothwell Bridge. Just a year after that battle, along with another leader of the movement, Henry Hall of Haughhead, Cargill was at Queensferry concerting a fresh manifesto against the Government, when the meeting was surprised, and Hall was captured with the draft of the document in his pocket. Cargill himself escaped, and, along with another well-known field preacher, Richard Cameron, completed the composition. This was nothing less than a declaration of open war against the King and Government. After alluding to the acts of Charles as "perjury and usurpation in church matters, and tyranny in matters civil," it proceeds: "Although we be for governments and governors—such as the Word of God and our Covenant allows—yet we for ourselves and all that will adhere to us as the representative of the true Presbyterian Kirk and Covenanted Nation of Scotland, considering the great hazard of lying under such a sin any longer, do by these presents disown Charles Stewart, that has been reigning, or rather tyrannizing, as we may say, on the throne of Britain these years bygone, as having any right title, or interest in the said crown of Scotland for government, as forfeited several years since by his perjury and breach of Covenant both to God and His Kirk, and usurpation of his crown and royal prerogatives therein, and many other breaches in matters ecclesiastic, and by his tyranny and breach of the very leges regnandi in matters civil. For which reason we declare that several years since he should have been denuded of being king, ruler, or magistrate, or of having any power to act, or to be obeyed as such. As also we, being under the standard of our Lord Jesus Christ, Captain of Salvation, do declare a war with such a tyrant and usurper, and all the men of his practices, as enemies to our Lord Jesus Christ and His cause and covenant." The document concludes by disowning the Duke of York, "that professed papist," and protesting against his succession to the crown. [Wodrow, iii. 213 note.]

At the head of a small armed party, some twenty in number, Cargill and Cameron, on the anniversary of the battle of Bothwell Bridge, rode into the town of Sanquhar, where Cameron read the document and fastened it to the cross. Under- the name of the "Sanquhar Declaration" this was used afterwards by the Privy Council and its officers, civil and military, as a test of the loyalty of suspected persons. If a man refused to disown the Sanquhar Declaration it was naturally concluded that he was a rebel and a danger to the country, and many suffered the extreme penalty in consequence.

Cargill himself went further. Convening a congregation in the Torwood near Larbert, he solemnly excommunicated and delivered up to Satan, King Charles the Second, and his brother James, Duke of York, "with several other rotten malignant enemies." Shortly afterwards, with a well-armed party of some seventy horse and foot, commanded by Hackston of Rathillet, Cargill and Cameron were overtaken among the swampy fastnesses of Ayr's Moss near Muirkirk. There they put up a stiff fight, and, though Cameron was killed and Hackston carried off to trial and execution at Edinburgh, most of the party escaped among the bogs of the region. Cargill himself was shortly afterwards arrested at Covington mill in Clydesdale, and, after sternly defying his judges at Edinburgh, shared Hackston's fate.

Meanwhile Glasgow took its part in the entertainment of the King's brother, the Duke of York, whose visit to Scotland so excited the vituperation of Cargill and his friends. In the Glasgow records the Duke is consistently named by his Scottish title, Duke of Albany. [Burgh Records, 1st March, 1681.]

While the English parliament was discussing the question of this prince's future it was considered advisable to remove him to a distance, and he was accordingly sent to Scotland to represent his brother as Lord High Commissioner The more modern part of the Palace of Holyrood House is said to have been built for his accommodation to the designs of Sir William Bruce of Kinross, the architect of the Merchants' House of which the beautiful steeple still stands in Glasgow Briggate. There, with his wife, the gracious Mary of Este, and his daughter, who was afterwards to become Queen Anne, the Duke did his best to win the goodwill of the people, and restore the glories of the Scottish court. While James played tennis and golf with the nobles and gentry, the Duchess won the hearts of their wives by entertaining them to tea, a luxury which was then first brought to Scotland by the royal party. [Archaologia Scolica, i. 499.]

Glasgow Town Council made its own contribution to the gaiety of the little court by sending the Duke a gift of French wine "of the grouth 1680" [Burgh Records, 25th June, 1681: 18th Feb. 1682.] and when James came to Glasgow in October every effort was made to give him a hearty welcome. The whole Council waited on him with the magistrates, the handsomest young men of the town formed a bodyguard with partizans, and a proclamation was sent out warning the inhabitants to light bonfires at the head of each close when they should be directed to do so by the ringing of the town's bell. [Ibid. ist Oct. 1681.]

The Duke was entertained in Provost Bell's house on the south side of Briggate, to the west of Saltmarket, and the wines, confections, and provisions used upon the occasion, with the gold and silver boxes in which the burgess tickets were presented to his royal highness and his attendants, the drink money to the Duke's servants, and other expenses, amounted to the sum of £4001 12s. Scots. [Ibid. 8th Oct. 1681 and note.]

During his stay of some two years and a half in Scotland, James, with his family, appears to have won golden opinions. On many occasions he showed humanity towards the "phanatiques," as the extreme Covenanters were called, [Fountainhall's Decisions, passim.] and to prevent the impoverishment of Scotland by the sending of Scots money out of the country for the purchase of fine cloths he secured the passing of Acts by the Privy Council and Parliament for the encouragement of trade and manufactures, and induced a company to establish a cloth factory at Newmills. [Chambers's Domestic Annals, ii. 410.] The esteem in which he was held may be judged from the fact that his birthday was celebrated with even more cordiality than that of the King, [Fountainhall, Historical Observes, 49.] and it has been suggested that the goodwill secured at that time played no little part in gaining support for the Stewart cause in the Jacobite risings of the following century. The Duke and his family left Scotland finally on 15th May,1682. A year later Glasgow paid £20 for a portrait of his royal highness to be hung in the council room of the Tolbooth. [Burgh Records, 13th Oct. 1682.]

The example of Edinburgh in setting up a cloth factory was promptly followed by Glasgow, where three merchants, John Corse, Andrew Armour, and Robert Burne, set up an establishment for the making of dimities, fustians, and "striped vermiliones." Urging the advantage of their enterprise to the country in retaining money which would otherwise be spent abroad for these commodities, they obtained the authority of the Privy Council to name their work a manufactory, and thus secure the privileges accorded by Act of Parliament. [Priv. Coun. Reg. 23rd Nov. 1682.]

At the same time other industries which Edinburgh never touched were being successfully developed in Glasgow. At the corner of the "new street," Candleriggs, and the new wynd, Bell Street, a company of four merchant burgesses feued from the town a block of ground, and built on it the great Western Sugar-house or refinery, while an adjoining building in Bell Street was known as the North Sugar-house, and also carried on a thriving industry.

The Town Council itself was by no means slack in pushing forward enterprises for the public benefit. At a later day the exploiting of the rich seams of coal underlying the lands on the south side of the river was to make the fortunes of more than one enterprising family, but, while the coal measures of Gorbals were in possession of the town itself, the working of them appears to have been carried on at extravagant expense. In August, 1680, Patrick Bryce was only induced to sink a new pit "for furnishing the toune with coallis" by receiving a discharge for a debt of six hundred merks he owed the town, as well as for forty-eight pounds rent he owed for a crop on the Green, and £10 sterling for grazing ground, while for his "further encouragement" he was also paid 500 merks in cash. [Burgh Records, 28th Aug. 1680.]

To judge from repeated remissions of rent such as that to Partick Bryce and to cultivators on previous occasions when the town was subject to military occupation and the like, the public possession of land by Glasgow was never a profitable enterprise. Yet throughout the latter part of the seventeenth century the city fathers persevered indomitably in acquiring plot after plot of ground to add to the common on the further side of the Molendinar and along the bank of the Clyde, which remains to-day the oldest of the city's public parks. That ground was known as the New Green, to distinguish it from the Old Green, which extended along the river side westward from the Molendinar to the Broomielaw. The Town Council had parted with these lands beyond the Molendinar light-heartedly enough when it came into possession of them after the Reformation in place of their former owner, the Archbishop. Now, a century later, as if seized with land hunger, the magistrates lost no opportunity of buying back the ground, and painfully acre after acre was added to the public possession. [Glasgow Water Supply (1901), App. p. 28.] A fair enough price was paid for the land. Thus Robert Rae received four thousand merks for ten acres, the sum including a small amount due for rent by the town, and Thomas Crawford got 1800 merks for four acres, the amount including repayment of a fine taken from him "quhen James Campbell was provost." [Burgh Records, 18th March, 1682.]

The town itself duly laid down these new possessions in grass, and some idea of the agricultural costs of the time may be gathered from the fact that £164 13s. 4d. was paid for ploughing and harrowing forty-eight acres. [Ibid. 16th July, 1681.]

The magistrates of those years were evidently shrewd business men. They made an effort to recover from the Earl of Argyll the £10,000 Scots which had been lent to his father, the notorious "Glied Marquess." The money had been subscribed by the burgesses as long ago as 1635 for the endowment of the Blackfriars Kirk when that kirk was taken over by the town from the University. It was the custom of the time in Scotland, before the days of banks, to entrust such church moneys on loan to substantial persons who could be relied upon to pay the interest and repay the capital when required. But the Marquess, though head of the Covenanting party, and profuse in religious professions, appears to have done neither, and when he was executed for his misdeeds after the Restoration he was still owing the money. In consequence the Blackfriars Kirk was for years without a minister, its duties being undertaken by the other ministers of the town. The burden upon these ministers having, however, become too great, and the appointment of an incumbent having become urgent, the magistrates applied to the Marquess' son, the Earl of Argyll, for repayment of the debt. At the same time they asked repayment of 10,000 merks, with interest, which had been lent to the Marquess out of the funds of Hutchesons' Hospital. [Burgh Records, 21st May, 1681.] In reply the Earl argued that, as his father's estates had been forfeited, the debt was now really due by the Government. As for himself, the estates which had been restored to him were a gift of the royal bounty, free from any burden, so that by no law or reason could he be held liable for the debts mentioned in the town's letter to him. The magistrates naturally refused to accept such evasion, and proceeded to urge their claims both in Edinburgh and in London, but the effort met with no success, and, till the present day, the loans have never been repaid. [Ibid. 21st May and 25th June, 1681.]

In the case of another debt the city fathers were more fortunate. The Archbishop, Arthur Ross, had borrowed from the town shortly after his appointment the sum of three thousand merks. By way of repayment he sold to the magistrates for a similar sum the arrears of teinds of the enclosed lands in and about the city which had not been collected for a number of years, and he authorized the Council to secure the payment of these by the heritors and possessors either in the town's name or his own. It may be presumed that in this instance the entire debt, with perhaps something to the bargain, was duly recovered. [Ibid. 6th June, 1681.]

About the same time occur the first evidences of the chief magistrate of Glasgow being called Lord Provost. Edinburgh had attained this dignity several years previously. Sir Andrew Ramsay, provost of Edinburgh from 1654 till 1657 and from 1662 till 1673 obtained from Charles lithe title of Lord Provost. [Chambers's Traditions of Edinburgh, ed. 1929, p. 32, footnote.] The title does not appear in use in Glasgow till 1681, and figures first in a curious connection. The authorities of the University had found difficulty in dealing with certain disdisorders among the students, and though they had, jealously, more than once proclaimed their right to an independent jurisdiction, had been glad to accept the help of the civic power in restoring discipline and expelling the disturbers. By way of thanks the Principal, A. E. Wright, wrote a letter which the Town Council duly recorded in its minutes, in which the provost is directly addressed as "My Lord," and referred to as "your lordship." [Burgh Records, 21st Dec., 1680.] Responding with vigour, the city fathers asked for a list of the recalcitrant students and their lodgings in the town, in order that they might be bound over to keep the peace, or removed from the burgh. They also, at request of the masters of the college, ordered that all billiard tables near the college should either be removed, or that no students be allowed to play at them. [Burgh Records, 1st March, 1681.] After that occurrence the title of Lord Provost was used intermittently. [Ibid. 1st Oct. 1683.]

Whether spurred by this new dignity or not, Glasgow shortly afterwards made a further bid for honour. When the rolls were called at the meeting of the first parliament of King James VII. in 1685, the provost, John Johnstone of Clachrie, who was also the parliamentary representative sent up by the burgh, demanded precedence before the burghs of Aberdeen, Stirling, Linlithgow, and St. Andrews, which had previously ranked above his city on the rolls. [Act. Part. Scot. viii. 455.]

While jealous of its dignity in such matters, Glasgow continued to be most generous to other communities when they required help. Thus in 1682 the Town Council subscribed £400 Scots towards the building of a stone bridge over the Ness at Inverness, and a like amount towards the erection of bridges over the Clyde and the Duneaton near Abington. [Burgh Records, 4th May, 1682.] It also arranged for a collection to be taken in the city churches for the repair of the harbour at Burntisland. [Ibid. 19th June.] Again, in response to a "supplication" from the magistrates of Dunbarton, it arranged to make an organized collection through the town to help the building of a bridge over the Leven. In this case the stipulation was made that in return the people of Glasgow and their goods should be entitled to free passage over the bridge, without payment of tolls. [Ibid. 5th May, 1683.] And yet again, after the burning of Kelso in 1684, the Town Council directed the magistrates and ministers to have a door-to-door collection made to help the rebuilding of the Tweedside town. [Ibid. 26th July, 1684. Before the proceeds of this collection could be handed over a considerable conflagration occurred in GIasgow itself, and on application to the Privy Council, permission was granted to retain the money for the relief of the people at home thus made destitute.]

At the same time the city fathers did not neglect the monuments of the past within their own gates, and contributed four hundred merks towards the repair of "the consistorial court at the west end of the High Kirk"—one of the two western towers of the Cathedral which were so mistakenly demolished by the "restorers" of 1859. [Ibid. 26th June, 1684.]

Regard for intellectual interests also is to be gathered from the fact that the Town Council subscribed eight rex dollars for the publication by the Rev. William Geddes of his Memoriale Historicunt and another book, perhaps The Saint's Recreation, printed at Edinburgh in 1683. [Ibid. 17th May, 1684.] Geddes had been minister of Wick, but had resigned because of his objection to take the Test, and seems to have taken to literary work as a profession.

At the same time care of the poor at home and of the unfortunate abroad continued to receive attention. Arrangements were made with the Dean of Guild and the Merchants' House to build "a large stane lodging for the use of the poor" at the corner of Trongate and Saltmarket, on waste ground unbuilt on, "by any who had interest therein" since the last fire. [Burgh Records, 3oth Sept. 1682.] And in 1681 sums of £200 Scots and £10 sterling were subscribed for the relief of Christian prisoners held in slavery by the Turks. This last appears to have been a fashionable charity of the time. Several instances have been cited in previous chapters. In the latest case the money was paid to a certain Francis Polanus, "to relieve his twa brethern and a sister out of slavery," and, notwithstanding the statement that he had "made the same appear to be true by certificates he produced," one cannot help a lurking suspicion of the good faith of Francis and others of his kind. [Ibid. 30th April and 25th Nov. 1681.]

An imposition of yet more obvious sort was the patent which had been given in 1673 to Edward Fountain of Lochhill and Captain James Fountain, his brother, to be "Masters of the Revels" in Scotland. On the strength of their patent the brothers demanded fees for authorizing public shows, balls, lotteries, and other entertainments. Apparently they had demanded fees from the Glasgow vintners for the games allowed in their houses, and, failing payment, had taken out letters of horning against these townsmen. In June 1682 the Town Council compounded the matter by paying the precious Masters of the Revels the sum of £240 Scots. [The Fountains had forced some six thousand persons throughout the country to compound with them, and had thus realized about 16,000.—Priv. Coun. Reg. 22nd July, 1684.]

Yet another payment which throws curious light on the life of the time is that of £5 sterling "to the montebank for cutting off umquhill Archibald Bishop's legg." A mountebank was a charlatan who mounted a bench or platform in the market-place and undertook to perform surgical operations and cure diseases. From the fact that the patient in the Glasgow case is described as "umquhill," or deceased, it would appear that the mountebank's skill on this occasion had been somewhat less than equal to his effrontery. [Burgh Records, 13th March, 1683.]

A more reputable practitioner appears to have been Duncan Campbell, who, on the strength of a certificate from the majority of the surgeons in the town, as to his dexterity and success in "sounding" and in cutting for the stone, was appointed to cut the poor in place of Evir McNeill, who had become unfit through infirmity. [Ibid. 27th March, 1688.]

Not less interesting for its light on the manners of the time was a payment of £128 Scots for rosa solis and chestnuts given by the magistrates to some unnamed persons in 1684. The gift alludes to a luxury now forgotten. The rosa solis was the common sundew of the Scottish moors. From it was made an agreeable liqueur known as Rossoli, so the purchase made for presentation purposes by the Glasgow bailies of Charles II. 's time was something of the nature of the walnuts and wine that figure on the dinner-tables of to-day. [Ibid. 23rd Aug. 1684. The liqueur alluded to was made thus. Four handfuls of sundew were infused in two quarts of brandy, and to the infusion was added a pound and a half of finely pounded sugar, a pint and a half of milk, and an ounce of powdered cinnamon. The decoction was then strained through a cloth, and to it were added two grains of musk and half an ounce of sugar candy. The manufacture of the liqueur might be worth reviving at some of our Highland distilleries at the present day.]

A steadily growing demand for information regarding public events is indicated by the refund to "John Alexander, post," of £60 Scots, which he had paid to Robert Mein for the supply of news letters and gazettes, as well as ten merks for half a barrel of herring given to Donald McKay for his trouble in despatching the news sheets. [Burgh Records, 30th Sept. 1682.]

Alongside of these evidences of a generous outlook on life on the part of the city fathers must be set a mental attitude which reflects less credit upon certain members of the community who might have been looked to for greater enlightenment. Little need be thought of vulgar rumours of apparitions being seen in and about the city, and of strange voices and wild cries being heard in the night about such lonely places as the Dean-side well. These are the common apparatus of ghaists and bogies current among the ignorant even to our own time in every part of the country. But more significance must be attached to the mental attitude of a book written by the occupant of a chair in Glasgow University. George Sinclair, Professor of Philosophy at the College of Glasgow, was the author of Satan's Invisible World Discovered. The character of the work may be gathered from its sub-title, "A Choice Collection of Modern Relations, proving evidently, against the Atheists of this present age, that there are Devils, Spirits, Witches, and Apparitions, from authentic records and attestations of witnesses of undoubted veracity." The book was granted copyright for eleven years by the Privy Council, and continued to be reprinted as late as the year 1814. [Reg. Priv. Coun. 26th Feb. 1685. Chambers's Domestic Annals, ii. 435, 475.] In the mind of Sinclair and a large body of the public of that time a man was an "Atheist" if he did not believe in the existence of apparitions, witches, spirits, and devils.

Such were some of the preoccupations of the minds of the citizens of Glasgow as the reign of Charles II. was drawing to a close. All the time there remained the constant disturbing element which had bred trouble in Scotland for a hundred years. As has been well said, "Men, in trying to make each other Episcopalians and Presbyterians, almost ceased to be Christians." To us, amid the conditions of to-day, the ostensible points then at issue do not appear to be so vital. The introduction of a liturgy, regarding which so much trouble was made in the days of Charles I., was nothing new in Scotland. John Knox himself drew up and introduced a liturgy, the "Forms of Prayer and Catechism," which was even translated into Gaelic by Bishop Carswell of Argyll. Nor was the government of the Church by bishops much different from its supervision by the "superintendents" appointed as overseers of ecclesiastical affairs in all districts of the country by Knox and his friends. Even the method of selecting and installing the ministers appears to have been little different in the two communions. Here are the proceedings which were followed in inducting a minister in Glasgow in the year before the death of Charles II.:

"The proveist, baillies, and counsell of the said burgh being conveened, and, taking to their consideration their calling and presenting of ane able and qualified person for serving the cure as ane of this burghs ordinary ministeris, now vacant throw the transportation of Mr. John Gray, late minister here, from this place to Aberlady, they all, with ane unanimous consent, being assured and weill informed of the qualificatioune, good lyfe, and conversatioune of Sir. John Saige, student of divinity, has called, nominat, and presented, and hereby calls, nominats, and presents the said Mr. John Saige, to be ane of the ordinary ministeris of this burgh in place of the said Mr. John Gray, and to the ordinary stipend payable yeirly to ane of the ministeris within the said burgh, serving the cure ther, quhilk is, yearly, ane thousand pounds money of stipend and four scoir pounds of bows maul, to be paid at twa termes in the yeir, Whitsonday and Martiines, be equall portions, beginnand the first termes payment therof at the term of Whitsonday jIn vj° and eighty fyve yeiris for the half yeir immediately preceeding ; and wills and desyres the most reverend father in God, Arthur, by the mercy of God archbishop of Glasgow, to try and examine the literatur, qualificatioune, good lyfe and conversation, of the said Mr. John Sage, and, being found qualified, to admitt and receive him to be ane of the ministeris of this burgh for exercing the function of the ministrie therin, and to give him collation, institution, and all uther sort of ecclesiastick ordouris requisit for that effect, and to take his oath for giving dew obedience to his grace the said archbishop, his ordinary, in forme as effeiris; and ordains the clerk to subscryve and give furth to the said Mr. John Sage ane extract of thir presents, quhilk is declared to be als sufficient as if ther wer a presentatioune drawen wp and subscrivit be the saids magistratis and counsell themselves." [Burgh Records, 23rd Aug. 1684.]

In view of the slightness of difference in the actual practice of the two communions, the roots of the discord must be looked for elsewhere. Perhaps it lay in the proclivity, already pointed out, of the Church of Calvin to follow the teaching of the Old Testament rather than the New, and a consequent feeling of the ministers that, like Elijah and the other prophets of the Jews, they should be subject to no human authority; and should exercise power over public and private affairs directly in the name of God. A similar power had been claimed by the Roman churchmen of an earlier day, the priests urging that they were not amenable to the secular law, but were subject only to the direction of the Pope and the courts of Rome. King Robert the Bruce and other Scottish kings strongly resented that early attempt to set up an imperium in imperio, which made effective government impossible, and they crushed its pretensions with a firm hand. In like circumstances the Stewart kings of the seventeenth century saw a menace to good government in the claim of the Genevan churchmen to an absolute domination in the affairs of public and private life. They were, further, naturally alarmed when that claim took the form of armed force, and the fact that it actually succeeded so far as to bring Charles I. to the block, made the rulers of Scotland after the Restoration particularly alive to the dangers which might lurk in the doctrines of men like Cargill and Cameron and Peden the Prophet. They could not but be confirmed in their opinion by the formidable armed risings which culminated in the battles of Rullion Green and Bothwell Bridge and Ayr's Moss; and when, in 1680, the authors of the Sanquhar Declaration threw down the gauntlet of open war, there could no longer be any question as to what must be done.

The answer to that Declaration was the famous Test Act of 1681. This Government measure, along with the oath imposed on members of parliament which immediately preceded it, was apparently founded on the first of the English Test or Corporation Acts then already in existence, which was only finally repealed in the reign of George IV. [Act 13 Carl. II. c. 2 ; 25 Carl. II. c. i ; 9 George IV. c. 17.] The oath declared it to be "unlawful to subjects, upon pretence of reformation, or other pretence whatsoever, to enter into leagues or covenants, or to take up arms against the king or those commissioned by him"; it characterized as unlawful and seditious "all these gatherings, convocations, petitions, protestations, and erecting and keeping of council tables, that were used in the beginning of and for carrying out of the late troubles"; and it specifically mentioned as unlawful "these oaths, whereof the one was commonly called The National Covenant, as it was sworn and explained in the year 1638 and thereafter, and another entituled A Solemn League and Covenant, ... taken by and imposed upon the subjects of this kingdom against the fundamental laws and liberties of the same." While the oath was signed only by the members of the Scots parliament at the beginning of the session, the "Act anent Religion and the Test" which that parliament placed upon the statute book had to be accepted on solemn oath by all persons holding public office throughout the country. It ran : "I own and sincerely profess the true Protestant religion contained in the Confession of Faith received in the first Parliament of King James the Sixth, and I believe the same to be founded on and agreeable to the written Word of God. And I promise and swear that I shall adhere thereto all the days of my lifetime, and shall endeavour to educate my children therein, and shall never consent to any change or alteration contrary thereto; and I disown and renounce all such practices, whether Popish or fanatic, [The rebels of the west country were commonly alluded to as "fanatics."] which are contrary to or inconsistent with the said Protestant religion and Confession of Faith." The Test further included the assertion "that the King's majesty is the only supreme governor of this realm over all persons and in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil." It was to this last statement that the Covenanters in the West of Scotland chiefly took exception. They held that Christ was the only head of the Church, and that, if any of the King's acts did not conform to their personal reading of Scripture, they were entitled to withdraw their allegiance and make war upon the earthly monarch.

The Government was further stirred to action by the discovery of the Ryehouse and Assassination plots in England. These plots, mainly organized by a Scotsman, Robert Fergusson, "the Plotter," proposed to remove the danger of a Roman Catholic, in the person of the Duke of York, succeeding to the throne, by deliberate murder of the Duke and King Charles himself as they passed a certain place. Fergusson had actually arranged the place for the assassination, had consecrated a blunderbus for the purpose, and, as a clergyman, had composed a sermon to be preached after the happy deliverance. He was on one of his frequent visits to Edinburgh when the plot was discovered, and only escaped the hue and cry by taking refuge in the tolbooth itself, where the keeper of the prison was his friend. Following the discovery a number of Scotsmen who had been in touch with Fergusson were arrested and put to the torture in Edinburgh. Campbell of Cessnock, a supporter of the Earl of Argyll, was brought to trial, but acquitted; while Baillie of Jerviswood, though his association with the plotters in London was almost certainly innocent, was found guilty and hanged.

In the West of Scotland the treatment of suspected persons became more rigorous. For weeks a court sat in Glasgow to inquire into the loyalty of suspected persons. Its president was the Hon. John Drummond of Lundin, successively Treasurer Depute and Secretary of State for Scotland, and afterwards Earl of Melfort, and much interesting information as to the temper of the people and their treatment by Government at the time is to be found in the reports which he sent daily to the Marquess of Queensberry at Dumfries. The proceedings appear to have been orderly, and most of the breakers of the law, chiefly in the countenancing of conventicles and harbouring of disaffected persons, were dealt with by fines. Among those mulcted in this way were Sir George Maxwell of Pollock and the Laird of Duchal. [Historical Manuscripts Commission Report on Drumlanrig MSS. of Duke of Buccleuch, ii. 175-196.] But there were also more serious cases. In Glasgow on 19th March, 1684, as described by Woodrow, "five worthy and good men were executed at the cross." One had been present at Ayr's Moss, another, a Glasgow tailor, could give no satisfactory answer "anent Bothwell and the bishop's death," and all five were indicted with taking part at Bothwell Bridge and with being "accessory to other insurrections, and reset and converse." The printed defence of one of the accused, John Main, ran "that he was at Bothwell, but only as an onlooker; that he had conversed with one, Gavin Wotherspoon, who was asserted to be a rebel but not proven one; that indeed he had not termed Bothwell a rebellion, neither would he renounce the covenants; that his silence as to the King's authority could never in law be made treason; that as to King Charles I. his death, he knew nothing about it; and as to the archbishop's, he would not judge of that action." The answers of the other men, says the historian, were much the same as these, and it was chiefly upon their silence when questioned on the three last points that they were condemned. "All of them died in much comfort, peace, and the utmost cheerfulness," and were buried in the High Church yard, where a memorial stone still contains their names. At the execution one Gavin Black, from Monkland, was arrested by the soldiers "upon mere suspicion, and some tokens of sorrow appearing in him," and put in prison, and afterwards, failing to give satisfactory answers to inquiries, was banished to Carolina. And at the burial, James Nisbet, a relation of one of the men executed, was arrested, and afterwards shared their fate, being hanged at the Howgate-head near Glasgow, in June. "He owned Drumclog and Bothwell lawful, in as far as they were acts of self-defence, and appearances for the gospel. He refused to renounce the covenants, and to own the King's authority, as he expressed, in so far as he had made the work of reformation and covenants, treason. After lie was condemned he was offered his life if he would acknowledge the King's headship and supremacy over the Church, which they well knew he would never do." [Wodrow, iv. 62-67.] A stone in the wall of Castle Street near the foot of Garngad Hill marks the burial-place of Nisbet and other two, James Lawson and Alexander Wood, who suffered on 24th October 1684.

While these arrests and executions were going on, the authorities put into more vigorous effect their measures against the nonconforming ministers, whom they considered to be chief agents in fanning the smouldering embers of disaffection and rebellion. On 22nd April the magistrates of Glasgow sent a proclamation through the town warning all nonconforming preachers to leave the burgh within forty-eight hours, and to remove their families before Whitsunday, "conform to ane act of his Majesty's privy councell daited the 27th of July 1680."

Such was the state of affairs in the country when an event occurred which immediately realized the worst fears of the Government. On 6th February, 1685, King Charles II. died. Within three months, landing with arms and munitions from Holland, the Duke of Monmouth in the West of England and the Earl of Argyll in the West of Scotland raised the standard of rebellion, and the two kingdoms were plunged once again into the throes of civil war.


Return to Book Index Page

 


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus

Quantcast