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A History of the County of Renfrew from the Earliest Times
Chapter XXI.—The Revolution


William and Mary were proclaimed King and Queen of England, in London, February 13, 1689. Within a month, March 12, James VII. landed at Kinsale, on the west coast of Ireland, with 32,000 men and 800,000 French crowns, and the expectation was that an attempt would immediately be made to effect a landing on the west coast of Scotland. A Convention of the Estates of Scotland was summoned to meet in Edinburgh on March 14, for the settlement of the affairs of the kingdom. Before it met, men from Renfrewshire, and from the West and South, marched to the capital, prepared to act in defence of the Convention and of the principles of the Revolution. One of the first steps taken was to provide for the protection of the country ; and, on March 23, an Act was passed “ for the distribution of arms amongst the Western shires.” It directed the keeper of the magazine of arms in the castle of Stirling to deliver to John Anderson of Dowhill, Provost of Glasgow, or to his substitute, 4000 muskets with bandoliers and match conform, 100 barrels of powder, 400 chests of ball, and 1000 pikes, to be kept in part as a magazine in the city of Glasgow. Anderson was to distribute 300 of the muskets with bandoliers and match, six barrels of powder, and six chests of ball and a hundred pikes, to Robert Paisley, Bailie of Paisley, or any one bearing his order, for the use of the shire of Renfrew. Fifteen hundred of the muskets were to be sent to Ayrshire : four hundred to the shire of Wigton; three hundred to the stewartry of Kirkcudbright; three hundred to Dumbartonshire, and five hundred to the Earl of Argyll. Match, powder, and ball were to be sent in due proportions along with the muskets.

Two days later, General Mackay, who had been appointed to the command of the troops in Scotland, arrived in Edinburgh. The Scotch troops which had been marched South to defend the late Government, William had sent over to Holland, and the regiments which Mackay had with him were but skeletons. The Convention, therefore, in view of the retreat of Claverhouse to the North and the numerous reports of gatherings among the clans, was compelled to make much more extensive preparations for the defence of the kingdom. It promptly secured the burghs by setting aside the old Town Councils, which were composed of nominees of the late Government, and ordering new elections to be made, under the supervision of persons specially appointed, and who could be depended upon to see that the elections were legally and freely made. Next, all the fencible men, in the districts where they could be trusted, were called out, and the raising of regiments by the Earls of Argyll, Glencairn, and Eglinton, and Lord Blantyre, with others of Revolution opinions, was sanctioned. The Cameronians were authorised to raise a regiment among themselves, to be under the command of Lord Angus ; and all who possessed towers and fortalices were directed to hold them for the Revolution Government.

The shire of Renfrew eagerly responded to the demands of the Convention. The burgh of Renfrew obtained its new Town Council, and Paisley, which, being but a burgh of barony and regality, was in danger of being left with its old Town Council, on petitioning the Lords of the Privy Council, was granted the same privilege as the royal burghs. The fencible men of the shire were called out and armed, and in the course of a few weeks a respectable force was ready to take the field.

Meantime, the Convention was maturing its opinions on the matters for which it had been more particularly called together. On April 4, a vote was passed, declaring that James VII. had forfeited his right to the crown, and that the throne had thus become vacant. On April 11, the Convention adopted a “ Claim of Right,” and resolved to offer the crown to William and Mary. Two days later, a series of resolutions was voted, called “Articles of Grievances.” The Claim of Right laid down the fundamental laws and rules of government which had been violated by James VII., while the Articles of Grievances specified a number of acts which, though not illegal, had been done under bad laws which ought to be repealed. A commission of three was then appointed to go up to London, and there offer the crown of Scotland to William and Mary, and at the same time lay before them the Claim of Right and the Articles of Grievances. Two of the commissioners were the Earl of Argyll and Sir John Dalrymple. The third was Sir James Montgomery of Skelmorlie.

After attending the Convention for a few days, Claverhouse had found himself out of place in that assembly, and, withdrawing, had gone to his mansion of Dudhope, near Dundee, where he was ostensibly living the life of a private gentleman, though quartered around him and living in his house were some of his choice followers. On March 18, the Convention cited him to appear in his place in Parliament. He paid no attention to the summons, and, a few days later, a herald was sent to require him to disarm under pain of being denounced a traitor, and so dealt with. He wrote a short indignantly worded letter to Hamilton, but concluded it with the words; “ If there be anybody that, notwithstanding of all that is said, thinks I ought to appear, I beg the favour of a delay till my wife is brought to bed ; and in the mean time I will either give security or parole not to disturb the peace.” A force was next sent to seize him and his friend Balcarres. Balcarres was taken, but Dundee escaped. Mackay now marched northward. He made Dundee his headquarters, and, leaving Livingstone in command, set out in pursuit of Claver-house. But Claverhouse was too fleet for him. Week by week the chase went on, but without success, Claverhouse always eluding his pursuers and being heard of in places where he was least expected.

After the chase had been going on about a couple of months, the Government appear to have decided to put another force in the field with the intention of operating against him from the west. On July 5, a commission was issued under the hands of King William and Queen Mary, to Archibald Earl of Argyll, and, in his absence, to John Earl of Glencairn, appointing him commander-in-chief of a body of troops to be sent to the West Highlands. The troops were to consist of the regiments of the Earls of Argyll and Glencairn, the Cameronians under Lord Angus, the troops of horse under the command of the Earl of Eglinton and Captain William Bennett of Gruibbet, and two troops of dragoons under Captain Sir Alexander Hope of Carse and Captain John Home of Nynwells. The Earl of Eglinton was appointed to the command of the cavalry. The commander-in-chief was given full powers to call out the heritors, chieftains of clans, and fencible men within the shire of Argyll or adjacent places in the shires of Perth and Inverness, or other places, and to prosecute with fire and sword, etc., the Yiscount of Dundee and all others found in arms for King James or joining Dundee. He was to take orders from the Privy Council or from Major-General Mackay.1 The troops appear to have been raised partly in the shire of Ayr and partly in the shire of Renfrew. They were conveyed to the north of the Clyde ; but within little more than a fortnight after the commission to raise them was issued, the battle of Killicrankie was fought and Claverhouse was dead. They were then sent against the Highlanders, who still continued in arms, but appear to have given considerable trouble. On August 5, the Earl of Argyll reported to the Duke of Hamilton that the regiments of Angus and Glencairn had mutinied and run off for want of pay. Half of the Cameronians, he declared, “ both officers and sogers are madd men, not to be governed even by Master Shiels ther orackle.” They had a brush with the Highlanders at Dunkeld, and now survive as the famous Cameronian Regiment.

In the following November, a body of 1,500 “Danish horse” passed through the county to Greenock, probably on their way to Ireland. They were in the shire, however, as late as January 23 in the following year, along with other troops, for on that day one of the Bailies of Paisley was sent to Edinburgh “ in order to the removing of the great burden of the soldiers quartered in the town at this time, and for preventing of trouble also of Danish horse.” Exactly a month later, the Bailie reported to the Town Council “ that he had procured a warrant for removing the companies of Glencairn’s regiment lying here.”

William and Mary were proclaimed King and Queen at the Market Cross of Edinburgh, on April 11, 1689. When the offices of State were filled up, many aspirants were, as usual, disappointed. On this occasion, none were more disappointed than Sir James Montgomery of Skelmorlie and the Lords Ross and Annandale. All were Privy Councillors. Ross and Annandale had been captains in the regiment commanded by Claverhouse, and Montgomery, as we have seen, was one of the Commissioners sent up to London by the Convention, to offer the crown of Scotland to William and Mary. Montgomery, it appears, hoped to have been made Secretary of State; Lord Ross desired the Presidency of the Privy Council; the precise desire of Annandale has not been made known. In the bitterness of their disappointment, the three went over to the Jacobites, and began to plot against the Crown. The disclosure of their conspiracy was due to Montgomery. Finding himself detected in an act of treachery towards his fellow conspirators, he went to Lord Melville, the Secretary of State, and made a clean breast of the affair. The other two conspirators also put themselves in communication with the Secretary, each hoping that by fully informing against his colleagues he would save himself. To Melville, the affair seemed of much greater importance than it really was, and, as the price of full information, he gave each of the conspirators the assurance of personal safety. The case was taken to England. The King was then absent in Ireland, but the Queen met the conspirators separately and alone, interrogated them, and took notes of their revelations. Lord Ross she required to put his answers in writing. He refused, saying that that was hot in the bargain. The Queen immediately charged him with prevarication and with holding back information, and had him committed to custody on a warrant for high treason. This promptitude alarmed the rest of the conspirators and some others, among whom were Melville and Carstairs, who had promised to do their best to shield them ; but it had the desired effect. The traitors told all they knew, and gave up a number of interesting documents. No one was brought to trial for the business, but Montgomery had a narrow escape. He fled to the Continent, where he spent most of his remaining days, associating himself with miserable plots, and trusted by no one. Lords Ross and Annan-dale made so good a repentance, and rendered themselves so important, that they were subsequently promoted to places of great trust.

When the men of Renfrewshire, who, on the summoning of the Convention, had marched to Edinburgh for its defence, and for the defence of the principles of the Revolution, were no longer needed in Edinburgh, they were thanked by the Convention, and dismissed to their homes. The Convention offered to compensate them for the expense they had been at, but they proudly declined the offer, declaring that they had come to save and serve their country, and not to impoverish it. They marched home carrying their arms and their colours, on which were figured a Bible and other devices with the words, “ For Reformation according to the Word of God.”

When they reached their several parishes, many of them found that the pulpits of their parochial churches were still vacant. After their meeting on December 27, 1687, the Presbyterian ministers of the shire did not meet again until January 2, 1688, eight days after the rabbling of the curates had begun. They then met as a Presbytery, and began to fill up the vacant pulpits. The first minister they ordained was Mr. James Hay, who was called to Kilmacolm on January 2, and ordained there on January 16, 1688. Mr. Glen, who, as we saw, received a call to Mearns on December 27, 1687, was ordained there on the 27th of the following month. On March 12, Mr. David Brown was ordained to the parish of Neilston, but apparently at the ordinary meeting of the Presbytery on that day in Paisley. On April 2, Mr. Murray was appointed minister of Paisley; and, on June 8, Mr. Stirling was ordained to Kilbarchan, a living which his father had held before him. A month later, Mr. Alexander Orr, who, at the meeting of the Presbytery on April 28, had “appeared and with tears acknowledged his sin in taking of the Test,” “by order of the Presbytery had his license returned to him, which formerly he was desired to give up to the Presbytery upon the account of his taking the Teste.” “ Transportations,” or translations, now begin to appear in the Records of the Presbytery, and some time had to elapse before all the vacancies were filled.

In the conflicts between the Assembly and William III., the shire, in the persons of its ministers, uniformly supported the Assembly. In the Presby -tery, the old hatred against Episcopacy survived, and the brethren were always ready to lift up their testimony against it. Every year, one or more of them went, m obedience to the Assembly, to the North, where, through the lack of ministers, the people were in danger of falling back into barbarism, and for three months preached in parishes which were vacant, or in which Episcopacy was still predominant.

This went on until the year 1699, when, on January 11, the Presbytery appointed a commission to the Assembly, “ to plead that this Presbytery be excused from supplying the North at this time upon the account of the sad condition of the country through diabolical molestations.” The General Assembly seems to have considered the spiritual condition of the North as of more importance than the “diabolical molestations” in Renfrewshire, and refused the prayer of the petition, directing Mr. Brown, one of the ministers of the shire, to proceed to Aberdeen.

The old spirit of intolerance also survived among the reinstated Presbyterians. As soon as they were firmly settled in their livings, they took up their old crusade against the Catholics and against a number of new foes that had arisen in the shape of Quakers and Protestant dissenters. The seeds of Quakerism and Protestant dissent had probably been sown in the shire by the men whom Monk and Cromwell commanded. By the month of November, 1695, the Quakers and other dissenters had become sufficiently numerous and outspoken to attract the attention of the brethren and to arouse their zeal. On the 24th of that month, Mr. Turner complained to the Presbytery of the “ insolence and prevailing of Quakers ” in his parish of Erskine, and desired “ some course therewith to be taken.” The Presbytery appointed a Committee to meet at Erskine, and there converse with the Quakers.

The Committee thus appointed had several of the Quakers in Erskine before it, and on December 4, reported concerning them “ (1) that they denied the imputation of Adam’s guilt to his posterity ; (2) that they asserted that Jesus Christ had a heavenly body from eternity distinct from his earthly body, which He took on in time ; (3) that Jesus Christ had satisfied the Justice of God alike for all; (4) that they denied the external baptism by water to be an ordinance of Christ’s appointment, and asserted that the Lord had committed to His disciples in all ages the power of baptizing inwardly by His Spirit, with several other absurdities, which they tenaciously maintained, notwithstanding of plain Scripture and reasoning to the contrary.” The report was approved, and the Committee thanked for its diligence.

The Court, however, appears to have had some difficulty in deciding what course to pursue, and directed Mr. Blackwell to correspond with the Presbytery of Glasgow “ for a joint reference with them in the same matter.” At the same meeting (December 4, 1695), the Presbytery resolved to ask advice from the Assembly as to “ what should be done with trafficking Popish priests.” On May 13, 1696, the members of the Presbytery were ordered to give in at the next meeting the names of all Catholics, Quakers, and other separatists within the bounds of their respective parishes. When the returns were given in, it was found that there were Quakers in the parishes of Erskine and Inverkip, and Papists in the parishes of Paisley, Kilbarchan and Lochwinnoch. The Presbytery were still in doubt as to how to deal with the Quakers, and desired to correspond with the Presbytery of Hamilton as well as with that of Glasgow, “ in order to their taking a joint course according to the Synod’s Act with all Quakers, etc., within the bounds.”

Fortunately for all Catholics, Quakers, and other separatists, within the bounds, the Presbytery were now ceasing to be that masterful body they had been from the time of their institution down to the time of Cromwell. Significant of this was the fact that they could not deal even with the sin of witchcraft, and were obliged to call in the aid of the civil power for its punishment. What may be called their criminal jurisdiction had passed away, as also their power to inflict pains and penalties for divergence of opinion either in theology, ritual or Church government. In matters of discipline they were still powerful, and were usually supported by the civil authority.

The last we hear of the Quakers and other Protestant dissenters is on September 2, 1696. All that is then said of them is:—“Reported that the meeting at Glasgow anent the Quakers hath entirely referred the whole affair to the next ensuing Synod.” Evidently the three Presbyteries in correspondence about them were in a quandary and helpless. In the Records of the Paisley Presbytery, at least, there is no further mention of either Catholics, Quakers, or separatists for some years. It is true that the Presbytery were at the time occupied with “ diabolical molestations,” but they had time to deal with other matters as well, and the silence of the Records respecting Quakers and others after their case was once taken up, is very like a confession on the part of the brethren, that they found themselves without power to “ deal ” with them.

One resolution passed by the Presbytery at this time shows that the members were beginning to be possessed of a more tolerant spirit. The holding of private religious meetings during the strict Covenanting period caused very considerable trouble in the Church, but this is how the Presbytery of Paisley dealt with an overture concerning them :—“ As to the Overture for private meetings proposed to the consideration of the several Presbyteries of the Synod : The Presbytery’s mind is that such fellowships are commendable, and that every minister may use the overtures as he can find it most convenient for his people, and this the rather they incline unto, because circumstances in every particular congregation are not alike; withal their mind is that as such meetings may be serviceable among their people, so they think it requisite that all due order be observed in them.”

In April, 1692, occurred what is usually regarded as the last affair of private war in the shire. From the time of the Reformation, John Maxwell of Dargavel had possessed a seat and desk in the church of Erskine, with the right to bury in the subjacent ground. William Hamilton of Orbiston, proprietor of the estate of Erskine, disputed Dargavel’s title to these properties or privileges, and a quarrel ensued. Finding that Dargavel would not peaceably give up what he and his ancestors had so long possessed, Orbiston, whom we have met with before as a persecutor of the Covenanters, under James VII., resolved to drive his neighbour out by force. According to the complaint afterwards drawn up by Dargavel for the Privy Council, William Hamilton of Orbiston, George Maxwell, bailie of Kilpatrick ; Robert Laing, miller in Duntocher ; John Shaw of Bargarran and Gavin Walkinshaw, sometime of that ilk, came, with about a hundred other persons, “all armed with guns, pistols, swords, bayonets, and other weapons invasive,” and, having appointed George Maxwell, Orbiston’s “ own bailie-depute,” to march at their head, they advanced in military order, and with drums beating and trumpets sounding, to the parish kirk of Erskine, where, “ in a most insolent and violent manner, they did, at their own hand, and without any order of law, remove and take away the complainer’s seat and desk, and sacrilegiously bring away the stones that were lying upon the graves of complainer’s predecessors, and beat and strike several of the complainer’s tenants and others, who came in peaceable manner to persuade them to desist from such unwarrantable violence.”

Dargavel at once took steps to obtain redress from the Privy Council, but his chief, Sir John Maxwell of Pollok, a member of that all-powerful body, intervened, and managed to bi'ing about an agreement between the two disputants. With the consent of the Earl of Glencairn, the principal heritor of the parish, Dargavel “ yielded for peace sake to remove his seat from that place of the kirk where it had stood for many generations,” while Orbiston agreed, on his part, that Dargavel “ should retain his room of burial place in the east end of the kirk, with allowance to rail it in, and strike out a door upon the gable of it, as he should see convenient.”

Shortly after the agreement was made, Orbiston changed his mind, and there was talk of his using force to prevent Dargavel from carrying out the agreement. But, instead of appealing to arms again, he took the more peaceable course of appealing to the Privy Council, from whom, on August 29, he obtained an order requiring Dargavel “to desist from striking any door or breaking any part of the church wall at Erskine, until your right and Orbiston’s be discusst by the judges competent for preventing further abuse.” Dargavel immediately sent in a petition showing that he was only acting upon an agreement with Orbiston. Thereupon the order of the Privy Council was recalled, and Dargavel was permitted to have the access he required, however incommodious it might be to Orbiston’s “ laft.”

The attitude of the shire towards the Union of Scotland and England seems to have been one of either silent opposition or of silent acquiescence. There were no riots in connection with it in the shire, as in Glasgow. In the Records of the Town Council of Paisley, there is no reference to it. The Earls of Eglinton and Glencairn voted for it. On the other hand, in Paisley, a number of heritors and burgesses, the minister, and a number of other inhabitants presented an address to Parliament against it. The petitioners showed a want of foresight, which was soon afterwards apparent. Renfrewshire was one of the first places in the country to benefit by the Union; particularly Paisley and Greenock, the trade of which at once began to increase.

Though the home county of the Stuarts, neither of their two attempts to overturn the Revolution settlement found any support in the shire worth mentioning. On the contrary, on each occasion, the old Presbyterian spirit by which, since the signing of the National Covenant, the inhabitants had been animated, was quickly aroused to energetic action.

In the first of the two rebellions, the Earl of Mar raised the standard of the Stuarts in Aberdeenshire, on September 6, 1715. But as early as the 5th of the preceding month, the Magistrates of Paisley, foreseeing what might happen, and “ taking into consideration the eminent danger that this country is exposed to at this juncture by reason of the Pretender’s attempting to land in the kingdom of Scotland with a considerable number of soldiers, agreed to keep guard, which they appoint to begin this night, and in the meantime ordain the whole inhabitants to have all their arms in readiness.” They further agreed “ that two pair of colours be bought for the use of the town,” and recommended “ Bailie Paterson to buy the same, and put the town’s arms thereon.” Three weeks later, ten days, that is, before Mar raised the standard of rebellion, a number of the inhabitants of the same burgh met and banded themselves together “ to provide timeously for the defence of our Sovereign and our own sacred and civil interests.” They further bound and obliged themselves “ in manner underwritten, viz. : That we shall outriek men for that effect, and pay them sixpence each day during two or three months, less or more, as need shall require, conform to our respective subscriptions, from and after the time they are listed and upon exercise and service.” Of those who signed the bond, some undertook to bear the cost of one man, and others that of two, three, or four men.

On September 17, John Duke of Argyll, Commander-in-Chief of His Majesty’s forces in Scotland, arrived at Stirling. All the men he had with him to put down the rebellion numbered about 1,800. In response to an appeal for assistance, the city of Glasgow sent him between 600 and 700 men, who reached Stirling in three parties, on the 19th. At his instance, the Magistrates of Glasgow issued circular letters to the towns, villages, and agricultural districts of the West, recommending that their fencible men should be embodied, and assemble at Glasgow.

The first to send in its complement was the burgh of Paisley. The complement consisted of 140 men, who were raised, disciplined, and maintained at the expense of the burgh. Greenock sent in a force equal to two well-found companies, under the command of Sir John Shaw of Greenock, who was accompanied by Crawfurd of Cartsburn, at the head of his men of Crawfurds-dyke, and by Mr. Turner, the minister of Greenock, and the minister’s man. Before these companies set out, they were addressed by Lady Shaw, who told them that “ the Protestant religion, their laws, and liberties, and lives, and all that was dear to them, as men and Christians, as well as His Majesty King George, and the Protestant Succession, were all in hazard by that unnatural rebellion.” Other volunteers also assembled in Glasgow from the West. Kilmarnock sent in 220 men, who were followed the next day by the Earl of Kilmarnock at the head of 130 of his tenantry.

The men who were left at home in the shire had to guard their respective towns and to keep watch on the southern shores of the Clyde. Detachments were sent out to seize suspected persons, in order to prevent them from joining the Earl of Mar. Other detachments were employed to bring over all the boats they could find on the northern shore of the Clyde, so as to prevent the enemy, especially Rob Roy and his men, from crossing the estuary and doing mischief in the shire.

On Michaelmas Day (September 29), Rob Roy’s men seized all the boats in Loch Lomond, and sent seventy of their number to take Inch-murrain, a large island in the loch. At midnight, they went ashore at Bonhill, about three miles above Dumbarton. But, as the alarm was given by ringing the church bells and firing guns from Dumbarton Castle, the MacGregors hurried back to their boats and returned to the island. Soon after, they set off to join the Earl of Mar at Perth, but were back again on the loch on October 10.

Meantime, an expedition had been planned against them, and, on October 11, one hundred and twenty of the Paisley volunteers and about four hundred others, assembled from the different parts of the coast. Accompanied by a hundred seamen from a war-ship in the Clyde, seven man-of-war’s boats, and a large boat from Port-Glasgow, on which two large screw guns were mounted, they made their way up the Leven and set their boats afloat on the loch. They then proceeded in search of the Highlanders. Rob Roy and his men they failed to find, but they found his fleet of boats, hid away among the rocks, and returned with them in triumph to Dumbarton.

After this exploit, the Paisley men expected, it appears, to be sent to Stirling; but instead of being sent there to join the Commander-in-Chief, they “got a new route to march to Glasgow by order of the Depute-Lieutenant, there to wait farther orders.” On November 12, the Greenock men were stationed at Touch, from whence they were ordered to Stirling. Fifty of them were sent under the command of Captain John Spire [Speirs] to Alloa, to bring over to the south side of the ferry all the boats they could find, to prevent the enemy from crossing there. From Alloa they returned to Stirling. On November 2, thirty of Sir John Shaw’s men had been sent to guard some arms to Glasgow. They were at Stirling on the 13th, and were present with their company at the battle of Sheriffmuir. On the 14th they were marched to Airth, and on the 29th they were allowed to return to Greenock, which they reached on December 2, having been out 108 days. The rest of the men from the shire appear to have returned about the same time, with the exception of a number of troopers from Paisley, who took part in the pursuit of the Chevalier and the Earl of Mar.

During the rising of 1745, the shire was quite as prompt in proving its loyalty to the House of Hanover, and almost as undivided. On the first appearance of the insurrection, 210 men were raised, equipped, and maintained by the burgh of Paisley alone. With other men from the county and from the city of Glasgow, they were sent to Edinburgh. While they were there, Prince Charles returned from his march to Derby, and entered Glasgow on Christmas Day. There he demanded and obtained a large quantity of clothing from the citizens to clothe his Highlanders, who were all in tatters, and imposed a fine of 10,500 sterling. Fines were imposed also upon Renfrew and other places. The sum demanded from Paisley was 1000. The magistrates were imprisoned, and were not released until one-half of the fine had been paid. The troops from the shire, which were sent to Edinburgh, took part in the battle near Falkirk, and greatly distinguished themselves. While the regular troops fled, they maintained their position, it is said, with an unbroken front, and many of them were slain.

In the list of persons in Renfrewshire engaged in this rebellion there are mentioned:—William Cochrane of Ferguslie; James Stirling, described as residing at the House of Erskine in the parish of Erskine ; and William or John Weir, “coalier at Cathcart.” Cochrane and Weir were the only two whose names were transmitted to the Board of Excise by the Supervisor at Paisley, and of both he reports that they “joined and went along with the rebels and continued till the last.” Of both, too, he reports that they “are lurking.” Cochrane is described as “worth 100 per ann.” He was a staunch Jacobite, and took part in the rising of 1715. According to a tradition, a regiment of “ rebels ” from Ireland, sent to the Earl of Mar’s army, passed by Cochrane’s estate of Ferguslie, when the “laird treated them to bere scones and milk.” Cochrane escaped to France, and was recognised there by some soldiers from Paisley, in 1763. His estate is said to have been forfeited. Of Stirling and Weir nothing further is known.

It was purchased in 1748 by the Magistrates of Paisley for 2,750, and sold by them in 1805 for i!l2,000. (Report Municipal Corporations in Scotland, 1836, Local Reports, Part ii., 286). It is now the property of Sir Thomas Glen Glen-Coats, Bart., by whom a new and sumptuous residence has been built upon it. Of the old messuage, all that remains is an archsd stone fire-place, and a keystone built into the wall at the back of the present mansion-honse, bearing the marks—

John Wallace (I W) has been already mentioned ; his wife, Margaret Hamilton (M H), was the Goodwife of Ferguslie whom tha Presbytery persecuted. See pp. 244, 264, 266, 270.

The wifa of Colonel MacDowall of Castle Semple, himself a Whig, is said to have been a keen Jacobite. When the militia of Lochwinnoch passed Castle Semple House on their way to Glasgow, she -chanced to see them and fainted.

Down to the Union of the Crowns, Scotland depended for its armies on the general levies, by which all the fencible men in the kingdom were liable to be called out. Afterwards, when the country became engaged in the wars on the Continent, the Government was often in great straits for men, and had to have recourse to strange methods in order to fill up the ranks both of the army and navy. A curious instance of this is referred to in the Records of the Presbytery of Paisley and the Records of the Privy Council in the year 1692. One Archibald Bane, an Irish refugee, was accused at Paisley of housebreaking. The sheriff thought the evidence “scrimp,” i.e., insufficient, and besides, was convinced that “extreme poverty had been a great temptation to him to commit the said crime ” ; seeing also that he was “ a proper young man, fit for service, and willing and forward to go over to Flanders to fight against the French,” the sheriff delayed to pronounce sentence upon him. This coming to the ears of Lieutenant Brisbane of Robert Douglas’s regiment, he made application to the Privy Council to have Bane transferred to him as a recruit. Without any ceremony, the Council ordered Bane to be delivered to Brisbane, that he might be sent to Flanders as a soldier. Bane was also under discipline with the Church ; and when the Presbytery heard what had been done with him, the Court stoutly protested against his spiriting away by the lieutenant as well as against the interference of the Privy Council.

In June, 1626, Alexander Erskine, Lord Spynie, was constituted General Muster-Master and Colonel of all the militia in Scotland. Early in the following year, he obtained a warrant to levy anywhere in Scotland a regiment of 3,000 men for service under the King of Denmark, and, on the same day, powers were given to him, by a special Act of the Council, to press into his regiment “ all strong, able and counterfeit limmars called Gypsies, also all sturdy beggars and vagabonds, masterless men, and idle loiterers of other denominations, as also all deserters from Colonel Mackay’s former levy.” But, by the middle of the following century, the Government had to press for its own services ; and, so straitened was it for men, that it was obliged to lay hands on whom it could. Press-gangs were busy everywhere along the coast, and often respectable citizens were seized and carried on board the ships and compelled to choose between service in the army and service in the navy.

Visits of the press-gangs to Greenock and Port-Glasgow and other parts of the shire were frequent, and such was the dread which this method of recruiting His Majesty’s forces inspired, that in many parts the labourers fled to the hills to avoid being caught. The misfortune was that the people had no redress. What was done by the press-gangs was done under Royal warrants, and against them it was useless to appeal.

At the same time, there was no lack of devotion to the Crown, nor of patriotism in the shire. This was proved in many ways. During the French and American wars, French and American privateers were constantly hovering about the West coast, threatening Greenock and the Clyde. In 1760, a French squadron, under Commodore Thurot, sailed up the Clyde and burnt a number of ships off Ailsa Craig. His fleet was shortly afterwards defeated off Carrickfergus by the British squadron under Captain Elliot. According to Smollet, “Thurot’s name had become terrible to all the seamen of Great Britain and Ireland, and therefore the defeat and capture of his squadron were celebrated with as hearty rejoicings as the most important victory could have produced.” Greenock did more than rejoice. A number of its shipowners placed their ships at the disposal of the Government. Later on, during the American war, one of the citizens of Greenock, Mr. Stewart, lent the Government the Defiance, originally fitted out by Captain Dundas Beatson, R.N., as a privateer, mounting thirty-two guns. On the second day after leaving the Clyde, as convoy to a fleet of merchant ships, she fell in with the United States frigate Wasp, carrying seventy-two guns. A gallant fight took place, but the Defiance, being on fire fore and aft, was obliged to baul down her colours. The Wasp, however, was unable to pursue the fleet of merchant vessels, and was captured next day by a British frigate. In 1788, the report spread that Paul Jones was about to visit the Clyde in the Ranger. The visit was never paid, but the report was not without foundation. It transpired afterwards that part of the noted sea rover’s intention was, besides destroying Whitehaven, “ to take the Bank of Ayr, destroy that town, and probably Greenock and Port-Glasgow and the shipping on the Clyde.”

In the Volunteer movement which sprang up at the end of the eighteenth century, the shire took a prominent part. The Act by which Parliament sanctioned the Volunteer system was passed in 1798, and originated in the threatened invasion of Napoleon. But four years before this, in 1794, an offer of service was made by the “Loyal Greenock Volunteers” to His Majesty George III. The offer was signed by 155 of the inhabitants of Greenock, and was graciously accepted. Three sets of colours which belonged to the corps still exist, together with the muster roll. One of the colours bears the date 1795, the year after the corps was embodied. There was a still earlier enrolment of volunteers, in 1782, but no memorial of its membership exists, beyond a list of absentees, who, to secure punctuality at drill, had voluntarily agreed to pay a fine for absence without excuse or for being late. In the beginning of 1804, “the Greenock Merchants’ Volunteer Corps” was formed. There were also about this time “ the Greenock and Port-Glasgow Regiment of Defence,” a corps of sharpshooters—“ the first in the kingdom under that title ”—an Artillery corps, a corps of 400 Fencibles, and a Yeomanry corps. In 1808, the Greenock and Port-Glasgow Regiment of Defence declared their willingness to commute their service to that of a local militia, an offer which Lord Castlereagh, on behalf of the Government, accepted. Later on, the whole of the officers of the Loyal Greenock, and three-fourths of the privates, made a similar offer. The men were selected by ballot, and eventually a militia society was formed for the purpose of providing substitutes, and the services which had hitherto been purely voluntary, became, to all intents and purposes, compulsory for certain defined periods of the year.

Between the years 1760-1816, three forts, of which only one now remains, were built. The first to be erected was Fort Beauclerk, so named in honour of Sir George Beauclerk, Commander-in-Chief in Scotland in 1758. It was built at Ropework Quay, and mounted twelve 24-pounders. After being in use some thirty-seven or more years, it was dismantled, and Fort Jervis was built. This again, in 1815, gave place to Fort Matilda, which has latterly been greatly improved. Extensive fortifications for the protection of its shipping and commerce are at present in process of erection at other points of the Clyde below Greenock.

The eastern part of the shire was not less conspicuous at this period for its loyalty than the western. In February, 1778, the Town Council of Paisley offered a bounty of five guineas to every able-bodied man residing within the burgh or the parish of Paisley who, before the first day of the month of April, voluntarily enlisted in any of the infantry regiments from the 1st to the 71st, or in the marine service. In the month of July, 1779, they offered to pay a bounty of four pounds for every able bodied seaman, and another of two guineas for every ordinary seaman or landsman, enlisting into His Majesty’s service. In the following year, the Renfrew County Kilwinning Lodge came forward and offered a guinea to any one who voluntarily enlisted to serve in the independent company of foot, which Captain William Walkinshaw, one of their own members, was then raising, the gratuity to be over and above the bounty to be paid by Captain Walkinshaw. Bounties of three, two, and one guinea were offered again in Paisley to any one who, during the month of April, 1793, voluntarily entered with the regulating captain at Greenock. For this a fund was raised among the inhabitants, to which the Magistrates contributed 50.

Paisley is said to have “ had the honour of raising the first Volunteer corps embodied in Scotland during the revolutionary war,”1 notwithstanding that a few sparks in the town about this time professed revolutionary principles and took to calling each other “citizen.” In July, 1794, a little before the first Greenock corps of Volunteers was formed, the gentlemen of the shire of Renfrew resolved to tender an offer to the Government to raise a corps of infantry consisting of 400 men. The offer was accepted, and on October 25 following, the men marched to the Cross of Paisley, gave four volleys in honour of the King, and were presented with a stand of colours by the Magistrates. On November 25, the Volunteer corps were reviewed by Major-General Hamilton, the field being kept by the Renfrewshire Yeomanry Cavalry, who were themselves reviewed in the following August by the same officer. The Volunteers were under the command of the Earl of Glasgow, their Colonel. In August 31, 1799, the whole of the Volunteer Associations in the shire were reviewed at Barnsford by General Drummond. The number of officers and men put upon the field is given at over 1,500. A regiment of militia was raised partly in Ayrshire and partly in the county of Renfrew. When the peace of Amiens was proclaimed, the Volunteers were disbanded, and when the war broke out afresh, no difficulty was experienced in calling them to their colours again. A militia society was formed in Paisley as in Greenock. Two regiments of Volunteers were raised in Paisley, and three regiments of local militia, known as the First, Second and Third Regiments of Renfrewshire Local Militia, were raised in the shire.

During the first half of the nineteenth century frequent periods of distress occurred among the manufacturing population of the county, owing to depressions in trade. In 1819, the Radical riots broke out, particularly in Paisley and Greenock. In both places the military had to be called in to the aid of the civil authorities. Much property was destroyed, and in Greenock several lives were lost and a number of the rioters wounded. The shire, again, was the scene of much political agitation in connection with the Reform Bill, and in some parts in connection with the Chartist movement. For the part they took in these affairs several individuals had to quit the country. Most of them, however, shortly afterwards returned and were left unmolested by the authorities.


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