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The Scottish Nation
Hackston


HACKSTON, a surname corrupted from Halkerston. A brave young man, named David Halkerston, the brother of the ancestor of Hackston of Rathillet, a memoir of whom is given below, was killed in 1544, n a miserable alley or close (the first below North Bridge Street), on the north side of the High Street of Edinburgh, called from him Halkerstonís Wynd, when defending the town against the English, under the earl of Hertford.

HACKSTON, DAVID, of Rathillet, in the parish of Kilmany, Fifeshire, one of the most resolute of the leaders of the Covenanters, is said in his youth to have followed a wild and irregular life, and to have been first converted by attending the field preachings of the persecuted ministers. From his great courage and zeal in the cause of the Covenant, he soon acquired considerable influence over his associates. He was present on May 3, 1679, on Magus Moor, in Fifeshire, with other eight gentlemen, when Archbishop Sharpe accidentally came in their way, and was by them put to death, although Hackston himself had no hand in the deed. The party wished him to act as their leader on the occasion, but he refused, on the twofold ground that he was by no means assured of the lawfulness of the action, and that, as there was a private difference subsisting betwixt Sharpe and himself, the world would be apt, if he took an active part in his destruction, to say that he had done it out of personal hatred and revenge, of which he professed himself entirely free. After the murder he retired for a short time to the north, but about the end of the same month Hackston and five of his companions joined the body of Covenanters assembled in Evandale, Lanarkshire. On the 29th, the anniversary of the Restoration, he and Mr. Douglas, one of the persecuted clergymen, published, at the market-cross of Rutherglen, a declaration which had been drawn up against the Government. Returning to Evandale, he was with the Covenanters when they were attacked by Graham of Claverhouse, upon June 1st, near Drumclog, where, being appointed one of the commanding officers, by his presence of mind and intrepidity he greatly contributed to the discomfiture of the kingís troops. At the battle of Bothwell Bridge, on the 22d of June, he again displayed uncommon valour, being, with his troop of horse, the last to leave the field where his party had sustained such a disastrous defeat. A reward having been offered for his apprehension, he was forced to lurk in concealment for about a year; but was at length taken prisoner at Airsmoss, on July 22, 1680, by Bruce of Earlshall, after a desperate resistance, in which Hackston was severely wounded, and Richard Cameron and nine of his adherents killed. Having been conveyed to Edinburgh, he was, after two preliminary examinations before the council, brought to trial on the 29th, and being found guilty, was, on the 30th, immediately after receiving sentence, executed under circumstances of unparalleled cruelty. When taken to the place of execution, his right hand was cut off, and after a considerable interval his left. He was then hung up by the neck; and while struggling in the agonies of death, his breast was cut open, and his heart torn out and exposed on the point of the executionerís knife, while its palpitations and the convulsed quivering of his frame showed that life and consciousness were not yet gone. His body was afterwards quartered, and his head fixed upon the Netherbow. Different parts of his body were fixed up at St. Andrews, Magus Moor, Cupar, Burntisland, Leith, and Glasgow. His heirs continued in possession of the estate of Rathillet till after the middle of the eighteenth century. His descendants are said to have possessed a considerable share of his talents and courage. One of them was engaged on the government side against the rebels of 1715. Another was sheriff of Fifeshire. The last of the male branch of the family was Mr. Helenus Hackston, well known in his day for his talents and eccentricity, who sold the estate of Rathillet about 1772 to a Mr. Sweet, by whom it was again sold to Mr. David Cardwell, in whose family it remains.


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