Before long, Edinburgh and all
Scotland was stirred by a Royal proclamation, announcing a great
revocation by the King of all grants by the Crown, and all acquisitions to
the prejudice of the Crown, whether before or after his father’s Act of
Annexation in 1587. So began the fatal struggle. It professed to sweep
into the Royal treasury the whole of the great ecclesiastical estates
which had passed into the hands of the temporal potentates, from the
By this action Charles alienated
churchmen and nobility. By his failure to maintain Presbyterianism, in
spite of his promise and the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant, he
offended the people. In spite of opposition he was determined to introduce
the Episcopalian form of worship.
His father, James VI., used to boast
that "he knew the stomach of his Scottish subjects"; the same boast could
not be made by his son. He was never in sympathy with the Scottish point
of view; he was by training and disposition unfit to realize the depth and
intensity of devotion the people felt towards their national religion.
From the start he offended their susceptibilities. Even at his coronation
in the chapel of Holyrood, when receiving the crown, there was not only
anointing, in itself abhorrent to the zealous Reformers, his Scottish
subjects, but Bishops performed the ceremony in " white rochets" and "
"white sleeves", which John Knox had called "Papist rags." There was also
the semblance of an altar, and there were candles; there was a crucifix,
before which the Bishops passed. [Memorials of the Troubles.
All this disturbed the people, but
the following Sunday they were driven to a white heat of passion. Two
English chaplains "acted their English service" in the Kirk of St. Giles,
and, the sermon past, a banquet took place in the neighbouring house, and
from it proceeded such a noise from "men, musical instruments, trumpets,
playing, singing, also shooting of cannons, that no service was had in the
afternoon." This was bad enough and shocked his subjects, but worse was
the fact that Bishop Laud, who had already made himself unpopular in
Scottish affairs, was given a prominent place throughout the proceedings.
When the King returned to England he
had left behind him a bad impression. His cold and stately demeanour
contrasted unpleasantly with the easy familiarity of his father. He had
alienated both nobles and peasantry. He had given the Bishops undue
prominence. He had shewn by his ecclesiastical legislation that he would
not be content until Laud had brought the Church of Scotland into line
with that of England. He had refused even to look at a petition from the
ministers concerning what they called "the disordered estate of the
Reformed Kirk". Charles returned to England, but he left discord behind
him. Before he left Scotland he promised a new Service Book for the
Church, and this, under the name of Laud’s Litany, was soon to appear.
This book was to supersede "The Second Book of Discipline", and Knox’s
Book of Common Order.
The people were soon up in arms over
the new book. It had three defects: it was Popish; it came from England;
it was imposed upon the Scottish people solely on the command of the King.
The experiment of trying the new
book was to be made in Edinburgh in 1637. Every precaution was taken to
ensure a quiet hearing from the congregation. Two Archbishops, with
several suffragans, the Lords of Privy Council, and the Lords of Session,
were present to give solemnity to the occasion, These precautions were in
vain; no sooner had the Dean commenced the Liturgy than the tumult began.
There arose "such an uncouth noise and hubbub in the church that not
anyone could either hear or be heard. The gentlewomen did fall a tearing
and crying that the Masse was entered among them and Baal in the church.
There was a gentleman who was standing behind a pew and answering Amen to
what the Dean was reading; a she-zealot hearing him starts up in choler,
‘Traitor,’ says she, ‘dost thou say Mass at my ear?’ and with that struck
him on the face with her Bible in great indignation and fury." [History
of Scotland. Hume Brown.] The confusion ended in uproar, the Bishop
being pursued to his residence with volleys of stones and imprecations.
Charles learnt little from this
day’s proceedings. Not even after he had signed the Solemn League and
Covenant in 1638, by which he promised the recall of the Prayer Book and a
free General Assembly to settle disputes, did he realize the determination
of his people to go their own way and worship in their own manner. If
Charles I. failed to learn the lesson that the Scottish peoples would
tolerate no interference in religious matters, his son, Charles II., was
equally obtuse in this respect. He, too, tried to restore Episcopacy,
although he had told his people he meant to preserve the Church as it was
"settled by law."
In 1662 he ordered all ministers
admitted to the church since 1649 to receive collation from the bishops or
else leave their churches. A third of the whole ministry chose to follow
their consciences and go out, their places being taken by young curates,
many of them ignorant and totally unfit for their job, and nearly all of
them objects of bitter dislike to their congregations. As a result, the
Presbyterians absented themselves from the churches, going instead in
great numbers to the fields and hills where the displaced ministers were
Fines, imprisonments, torture and
death were resorted to; the people remained firm; they were occasionally
goaded to resort to aggression and assert their liberties with arms in
The curates had no greater enemies
than the members of the gentler sex. It is recorded in connection with the
"rabbling" of one in the West Country that when he was "about to repossess
his pulpit, he was assaulted by women, who tore his coat and shirt off him
and had so done with his breeches, but that he pleaded with them for their
modesty." Another records that he was "ousted by a rabble of men and women
who attacked him in the manse, beat him on the head and legs, and tore off
his clothes in presence of his wife."
In 1637, William Annand of Ayr had
complained "that some hundreds of enraged women of quality coming about
him with stanes and peats; they beat him sore; his cloak, ruffle and hat
Apparently these women had not
studied the texts which enjoin peace and gentleness towards all men;
rather had they followed the rude methods of Mr. John Knox and his
followers, who believed in actions, not words. The curates were unable to
command a hearing. Bishop Burnet writes of them, that they were the worst
preachers he ever heard; they were ignorant to a reproach, and many of
them were openly vicious, and they were a disgrace to their orders, and to
the sacred functions, and were indeed the dreg and refuse of the northern
The authorities, however, sought to
counteract this by imposing fines on those who were not in their usual
place in church. When the fines were not forthcoming, the soldiers were
quartered on the delinquents at the pleasure of their commander. The
hill-meetings —schools of sedition as the Government considered them—were
forbidden. Women were not included in the Act which compelled attendance
at the churches, but they were the chief offenders, and soon their
husbands were held responsible for the wrong-doings of their women-folk.
"Not many gentlemen of estates durst
come (to the field meetings), but many ladies, gentlewomen and commons
came in good multitudes," says Kirkton, so all women who came were
responsible for their husbands being persecuted, and they themselves were
insulted, fined and imprisoned. Persecution fanned their enthusiasm, and
they were proud to suffer in a righteous cause. The Duchesses of Rothes
and Hamilton, the Countess of Wigtown, Lady Kenmore and others were active
upholders of Presbyterianism. Anne, Duchess of Hamilton, after the battle
of Bothwell Bridge, fearlessly hid some of the fugitive soldiers. Neither
age nor sex protected women.
When the Covenanters were out before
the Pentland Rising, one of the deposed ministers, John Blackadder, joined
the forces and was present at the battle of Rullion Green. He was wounded
and left as dead on the field, but he revived and fled under cover of
night. The soldiers visited his home to search for him, and, holding a
sword to his wife’s breast, threatened to run her through unless she would
discover her husband. She, imagining that he had been killed in the
battle, said that for anything she knew it was so, but they were
unsatisfied and returned and seized his goods. He was denounced as a
rebel, a price set upon his head, his property confiscated, and his wife
and four children expelled from their home. They had to wander about in
secrecy and find shelter where they could, and after four years’ hardship
the devoted wife died on a bed of straw in a sheepcot, without light or
Lady Caldwell, another woman of
integrity and courage, came through many trials. Her husband was out in
1666. His estate was forfeited and given to General Dalziel, though the
most that could be adduced against him was "his being upon the road to
join these people then in arms." Yet forfeited he was, to die in exile,
leaving his lady with three orphans, destitute of all visible means of
This poor lady was turned out of her
home, bereft of her money and forced to live as best she could. Fresh
misfortune overtook her in 1683, as her brother, Sir William Cunninghame
of Cunninghamehead recounts as follows :—" In the year 1683, at what time
Lady Caldwell lived at Glasgow, near the foot of the street called the
Saltmarket, upon the east side, her house having a timber foreland without
any glass in the windowes but only a little above the timber boards, it
did happen one night, that a person looking through such a glass upon the
west side of the street, just opposite to the Lady Caldwell’s house,
pretended to see a person preaching in the Lady’s bedchamber; whereof he
gave presently notice to the then Provost of Glasgow, who was one John
Barns, whose zeal, seconded with the authority of Arthur Ross, then
Archbishop of Glasgow, did run at such a furious pace, that presently this
honoured lady and the three young gentlewomen, her daughters, were
imprisoned in Glasgow tolbooth. [Family
Papers at CaIdwell.]
"When notice of it was given to the
King’s secret council, they not only approved of the illegal proceedings
of the Provost of Glasgow, but by their order commanded the Lady Caldwell
and her eldest daughter, Mrs. Jean Mure, by a strong guard to be carried
prisoners to the Castle of Blackness, and this without being impeached or
convicted of a real fault, other than the surmises of a single person. And
tho’ there had been sermon, yet by law it ought to have been proven that
there were more than the family present to hear. it; whereas it never was
pretended there were any more present than the Lady and her family; the
law never having forbid the worshipping of God in their own family after
such a manner as they thought fit; were they not Papists
solemnizing their idolatrous Mass, which—tho’ law forbid to any person
whatsoever—was then not only overlooked, but connived at; prelatic fury
exerting itself against a Protestant Dissenter, against whom no fault
could be really advanced but only that after the way which they called
Heresy so worshipped she the God of her Fathers.
"Having remained close prisoners in
the Castle of Blackness (except that some time the Governor upon his peril
allowed them to visit his Lady who lodged immediately below them), after a
year and some more, the young gentlewoman’s health being much impaired by
the close imprisonment, application was made to the Council of Scotland by
several of her relations for their enlargement, or liberty at least of the
young lady. After much costly painstaking and long address made, it was
hardly obtained that Mrs. Jean Mure should be set at liberty, and the Lady
her mother was allowed to ascend by some steps to take the air upon the
head of the Castle wall, but at that time not to go without the foot of
the turnpike where she lodged, tho’ indeed afterwards she obtained the
liberty within the precincts of the Castle.
"While the Lady Caldwell thus
remained prisoner in the Castle of Blackness, it happened that Mr.
Sandilands of Hilderstone, her cousin-german, was taken ill of a violent
fever even unto death; but natural affection, as well as discretion,
obliged the Lady Caldwell, before his death, to send two of her daughters
to salute him in her name, and enquire after his welfare, he living then
at the Westport of Linlithgow. Where they being arrived, within a few
hours the Lady Caldwell’s second daughter, Mrs. Ann Mure, fell sick of a
high fever, of which she after died at Linlithgow; and notice of her
indisposition being given to her Lady mother at Blackness, incited in her
motherly affection a desire to wait upon and do the last duty to her dying
daughter, then but at two miles distant from her; for the obtaining of
which there was much pains and cost bestowed in petitioning the Council of
Scotland, tho’ but for an hour; which she could not obtain; tho’ she
willingly offered to take the whole garrison along with her if they
pleased as her guard, and maintain them upon her own proper cost, whilst
she should be there doing the last duty of a Christian and tender-hearted
"Thus the Lady Caldwell remained
three years prisoner in the Castle of Blackness, unconvicted of any crime.
"After three years’ imprisonment, in the year 1686, the late unhappy King
James, in order to advance his popish designs and arbitrary dispensing
power, having thought fit to assume a pretended kindness for Protestant
dissenters, the Lady Caldwell was voluntarily dismissed without asking
liberty; and never while she lived knew of any fault to be brought against
her, but the report of hearsay fame."
So persecutions went on ; troubles
were met with undaunted firmness, nor did the women fall short of the men
in endurance and fortitude.
If Charles II. and Lauderdale and
their party were unduly harsh to the people who would not attend the
Episcopalian form of worship, the Reformers on their side were equally
uncompromising in their attitude towards all classes who abstained from
presenting themselves at the Kirk.
In the year 1649, the Town Council
of Paisley ordained that " on the Sabbath Day any horse kept on the common
land of the burgh should be tethered, so that the Lord’s Day be not
profaned by persons abiding out of Church in time of sermon." To church
everyone must go, and it was the duty of the Presbytery to see that
everyone was there. The Paisley brethren were vigilant and eager in the
discharge of their duty, and they heard that Margaret Hamilton, "the
good-wife of Ferguslie ", and her sister were not attending the Kirk.
Accordingly they were denounced, and Mr. Calvert, minister of Paisley, was
asked to visit the good-wife and to invite her to sign the Covenant. She
answered that she knew not what the Covenant implied. Both sisters were
outspoken and defiant and both were admonished. Many meetings were held,
their sins were pointed out to them, and at last the Presbytery agreed "to
desist from further citations for the present," and they directed Mr.
Calvert "to go to the said Margaret and deal with her, and to examine that
family betwixt this and the next Presbytery day and to report." [History
of Paisley. W. M. Metcalfe, D.D.]
This would be a congenial task for
Mr. Calvert. Margaret pleaded illness as an excuse for not coming to
church. She was visited and re-visited, examined and re-examined. Five
years were to elapse before the reverend gentleman’s words induced her "to
renounce Popery." Still she obstinately refused to attend church, again
pleading distance and declaring that, as she was now settled at
Blackstone, Kilbarchan, the distance was too great for an invalid to
attend the Kirk. The Presbytery deemed that unless she can produce "a
physician’s certificate" that she is genuinely ill, attend she must. The
certificate was forthcoming. The Presbytery, nothing daunted, turned their
attack upon the husband. He is "to provide ane chamber in the town of
Paisley for his wife, that she may reside there for her more easy coming
to the kirk." The good-wife did not come to the kirk, neither did her
husband provide a chamber, with the result that he is cited to appear at
the bar of the Presbytery. Again endless discussion, Margaret always
urging ill-health as her reason for non-compliance with the Presbytery’s
demands. The Presbytery had no alternative but publicly to admonish the
culprit. A report is made to the Synod. At last they can say that in spite
of illness, "they have gotten her promise to come to the kirk of Paisley
within twentie days to give content and satisfaction on that point; albeit
she should be carried in her bed."
And, carried in upon her bed, she
duly made her appearance in the kirk. "Lying in a bed, resting on a
frame-work of wattles," she was borne along, as if to her burial, and
taken to the Abbey church, where she was carried down the aisle and laid
upon the floor in the most prominent place in the church. Happy Mr.
Calvert, at last he had prevailed; with what feelings of pride and
gratitude must he have recorded that on June 2nd, 1647, "on the last
Lord’s Day, Margaret Hamilton, spouse to John Wallace of Ferguslie, came
to the kirk of Paisley carried on ane wand bed."
The Presbytery would doubtless
rejoice in their prowess in having in this dignified manner overcome the
objection of one woman to giving up her particular form of religion and
taking another. They had been alert and resolute, and, if Mahomet will not
come to the mountain, the mountain must go to Mahomet. Both sides were
ready to persecute; both were ready to suffer.
Some of the people believed that
their greatest miseries had come as a result of Presbyterianism, and they
were ready to support the King in his determination to impose Episcopacy.
A large conventicle had been
arranged in the grounds of Methven. Lady Methven determined to stop this
conventicle, her husband being in London. When she heard the conventicle
had gathered and that the preaching was about to begin, she approached the
preacher at the head of about sixty followers, she herself leading them on
with a light horseman’s carbine ready cocked over her arm, and a drawn
sword in the other hand. The congregation, nothing daunted, sent a hundred
armed men to demand what her intentions were, and she at once replied
that, if they did not leave her husband’s estate, it should be a bloody
day. They answered civilly but firmly, that, whether she liked it or not,
they were determined to preach, but her unshaken determination finally
overcame their enthusiasm, and they retreated, leaving the victory to her.
After this affair she wrote to her
husband that she was providing arms and even two pieces of cannon, hearing
that the Whigs had sworn to be revenged for the insult she had laid on
them. "If the fanatics," she concludes, "chance to kill me, comfort
yourself it shall not be for nought. I was once wounded for our gracious
King, and now, in the strength of Heaven, I will hazard my person with the
men I can command, before these rebels rest where you have power." [Tales
of a Grandfalher. Scott.]
Every county had those who suffered
for conscience’ sake; sometimes the sufferings were imposed by one side,
sometimes by the other, but, by whomever imposed no one shrank from it.
In the Parish of Cardross there were
cited to appear before the Commissioners appointed to suppress
conventicles in Dumbartonshire, John Napier of Kilmahew, and Lilas
Colquhoun, his wife; Isobel Buchanan, widow of Archibald Buchanan of
Drumhead, and John Yuille of Darleth. Napier of Kilmahew, failing to
compear, was treated as having admitted the charge and fined £3,000;
Isobel Buchanan was fined £100; John Yuille appeared to answer the charge
against him; he was fined in the sum of £1,000, and as he refused payment
of the amount was conveyed a prisoner to the Castle of Dunbarton. In the
month following his imprisonment, Mrs. Yuille was seized with a severe
illness, and her husband craved permission that he might visit her from
time to time but this was denied him; nor was it until his son Robert and
a son-in-law became bond for £1,000 sterling that his jailers accorded him
liberty to attend the funeral of his wife, whom death had relieved from
her sufferings. The funeral over, he returned to prison within the
prescribed time, and lay there for 18 or 20 months, when he was set at
liberty. But in the damp prison he contacted the seeds of a disease which
cut him off not long after.
In the parish of Mochrum the Hays of
Arioland suffered sorely and were ultimately ruined; the lady of the
house, a Gordon of Craichlaw, was sentenced to be banished to the
plantations, "which meant in other words," so says Sir Andrew Agnew in his
history of Galloway, "that she was to be sold there as a slave."
The same authority tells that
"Mistress Mary Dunbar, second daughter of Sir David Dunbar of Baldoon was
forced to abscond and leave her father’s house, and live for some time
here and there, frequently in herds’ houses, where she could not be
accommodated according to her birth and rank, and this because she
attended the preaching of Proscribed ministers." [Sheriffs of Galloway.
Sir Andrew Agnew]
Three women are charged with conversing with their husbands and their
sons. The first in the list is Lady Arioland; their punishment is severe.
They appear before the court and the entry stands thus :
"List of woman panells who refuse to depone anent harbouring,
resetting, conversing, and entertaining of rebells, and are secured.
Margaret Gordon, goodwife of Arioland elder.
Margaret Mulligan, spouse to James Morrison, rebell.
Margaret M’Lurg, spouse to Alex. M’Clengan, rebell.
The Lords Commissioners having considered the
confessions of the above named Margaret Gordon, Margaret Milligan and
Margaret M’Lurg, and they refusing to depone anent harbour, converse,
etc., decerning adjudges and [History of the Church of Scotland.
Wodrow.] ordains them to be banished to
the plantations, and to remain prisoners in the meintyme till a fit
occasion offer for that effect.
"Wigtown, 17th Oct.,
Great numbers of men and women were
banished in the year 1678. We read—" There were banished to be sold for
slaves, for the same cause for which others suffered death at home, of men
and women about 1700." They endured great miseries; often they were
barbarously treated on the voyage.
In the year 1685, Wodrow tells us,
one Pitlochie transported to New Jersey one hundred persons, whereof
twenty-four were women. The ship with its unhappy freight had scarcely
turned the Land’s End, when fever broke out, especially among those who
had been confined for so many months in the dark vault at Dunottar. The
beef became putrid, the ship twice sprang a leak, and so deadly was the
voyage, which lasted for fifteen weeks, that their number was about
seventy less when they arrived at New Jersey (whither the wind drove them
rather than to Jamaica, where the captain had proposed to take them). The
owner of the cargo, Pitlochie, and his wife, were themselves amongst the
dead. The survivors were allowed to shift for themselves. They were kindly
treated by the people amongst whom they had landed. In spring, Pitlochie’s
son-in-law sought to claim them as his property, and sued them before the
court of the provinces. The governor sent the case before a jury, who
found that the accused had not of their own accord come to the ship, and
had not bargained with Pitlochie for money or service, and therefore,
according to the laws of the country, they were free.
Most of the prisoners retired to New
England, where they were kindly treated. "So," concludes Wodrow,
"Pitlochie proposed to be enriched by the prisoners, and yet he and his
lady died at sea on the voyage. He sold what remained of the estate to pay
the freight, and much of the money remaining was spent upon the Law-suit
in New Jersey. Thus it appears to be but a hazardous venture to make
merchandise of the suffering people of God." In this case, the survivors’
lot ended happily, but it was not always the case.
In 1681, two girls, Isabel Alisin
and Marion Harvie—the latter a domestic servant—were sentenced to death
for attending conventicles. On the scaffold, in order to drown the voice
of the curate sent to preach to them, they sang the thirteenth psalm.
Marion assured the crowd who had gathered to witness their death that she
died happy because she had found Christ. "I sought Him and found Him—I
held Him and would not let Him go!" The terrors of her fate did not quench
her indomitable spirit.
In 1685 two young girls were drowned
at Wigtown because they would not conform. The two were Margaret Wilson,
the daughter of Gilbert Wilson, and Margaret M’Lauchlan.
Wilson, the father, had agreed to
conform, but his children would not do so. "They being required to take
the test, and hear the curates, refused both, were searched for, fled and
lived in the wild mountains, bogs and caves; their parents were charged on
their highest peril that they should neither harbour them, speak, supply
them, nor see them; and the country people were obliged by the terror of
the laws, to pursue them, as well as the soldiers with hue and cry. In
February, 1685," the chronicle goes on, "Thomas Wilson, of sixteen years
of age, Margaret Wilson, of eighteen years, Agnes Wilson, of thirteen
years . . . went secretly to Wigtown . . . were discovered, taken
prisoners and thrust into the Thieveshole as the greatest malefactors,
whence they were sometymes brought up to the Tolbooth after a considerable
tyme’s imprisonment, where several others were prisoners for the like
cause, particularly one Margaret M’Lauchlin of Kirkinner paroch, a woman
of sixty-three years."
The three, the old Margaret and the
two young Wilsons, were indicted for having been guilty "of the rebellion
of Bothwell Bridge, Airdsmosse, twenty field conventicles, and twenty
house conventicles." Poor things, they were never near the battles, and
Agnes was only eight years old at the time and her sister thirteen years
of age, and so they could not have been deeply implicated. However,
commonsense did not prevail. The Assize did sit and brought them in
guilty, and the judges sentenced them to be tyed to palisades fixed in the
sand, within the flood-mark of the sea, and there to stand till the flood
overflowed them and drowned them.
"They received their sentence
without the least discouragement, with a composed smiling countenance,
judging it an honour to suffer for Christ’s truth, that He is alone King
and Head of His Church." The unfortunate father, with infinite toil, won
his daughter Agnes’s reprieve "upon his bond of one hundred pounds
sterling, to produce her when called for after the sentence of death past
Margaret, while in prison, was
frequently visited by persons who essayed all means to make her take the
oath of abjuration and to hear the curate; in vain—she would not yield an
Upon the 11th of May, 1685, the two
women, Margaret M’Lauchlin and Margaret Wilson, were led forth to meet
their doom. They despatched the older woman first, perhaps hoping that
fear would make the younger repent, but in vain. When the water overflowed
her they asked the girl what she thought of her in that case. She answers,
"What do I see but Christ wrestling there; think ye that we be the
sufferers? No, it is Christ in us, for He sends none a warfare at his own
charges." She then sang Psalm 25, from the 7th verse, read the 8th
chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and did pray, and then the water
covered her. Before breath was quite gone, they pulled her up and held her
till she could speak and then asked her if she would pray for the King.
She answered that "she wished for the salvation of all men, the damnation
of none." Some of her relatives cried out that she was willing to conform;
this they did to save her life. Vain hope. "Major Winram offered the oath
of abjuration to her, either to swear it or return to the water. She
refused, saying, ‘I will not; I am one of Christ’s children; let me go,’
and then they returned her into the water where she finished her warfare,
being a Virgin Martyr of eighteen years of age suffering death for her
refusing to swear the oath of abjuration and hear the curates."
Thus they died, a widow of blameless
life and a young woman of dauntless courage. Two monuments in Wigtown now
commemorate the heroism of the two women, who are known as the Wigtown
Within a few days of their
martyrdom, John Brown of Priesthill [Covenanters’ Tombstones. James
Gibson.] was murdered by Claverhouse, and his wife suffered martyrdom of
another kind. He was known as "the Christian carrier." He was an able man
and a high-minded one; he refused to hear the curates, and thought it wise
to take to the moorlands. At last he ventured home; one evening after
family prayers he went out, spade in hand, to cut some peat. He was
apprehended and examined. Claverhouse asked had anyone heard him preach.
"No one," was the reply; "he was never a preacher." "Well," said
Claverhouse, "if he has never preached, much has he prayed in his time. Go
to your prayers," he added to John Brown, "for you shall immediately die."
The carrier prayed with fervour, thrice interrupted by Claverhouse. "I
gave you time to pray," said Claverhouse, "and you are begun to preach."
John Brown turned on his knees, saying, "Sir, you know neither the nature
of preaching nor praying that call this preaching," and so he continued.
When he had ended Claverhouse called
to him, "Take good-night of your wife and children," for she, poor soul,
stood by with a child of his former wife clinging to her, and one of her
own in her arms; another was soon to be born. "Now, Isabel," were his
words to her, "the day is come that I told you would come, when I spake
first to you of marrying me." "Indeed, John," she replied, "I can
willingly part with you." He said, "That is all I desire. I have no more
to do but die. I have been ready to meet with death for years past." He
kissed her and his children and blessed her and them.
Claverhouse ordered his men to fire,
but they would not, so greatly had the prayers and conduct of Brown
affected them. Claverhouse seized a gun and shot him with his own hand.
"What thinkest thou of thy husband
now, woman?" he asked her, as she gazed upon his handiwork.
"I thought ever much good of him,
and as much now as ever," she replied, firmly.
"It were but justice," was his
reply, "to lay thee beside him."
"If ye were permitted," was her
heroic reply, "I doubt not your cruelty would go that length; but how will
ye answer for this morning’s work? "
"To man," he answered, "I can be
answerable; and as for God, I’ll take Him into mine own hand." So saying
he galloped off, leaving behind him a woman with a broken heart but an
Not only were women brave and
resolute, but many a man owned his safety to their resourcefulness and
ready wit. The strategy and quickness of a woman saved many a man.
When the Earl of Argyle [Memorials.
Law.] was a prisoner in Edinburgh Castle, and apprehensive of death as
a reward for his loyalty to Presbyterianism, he determined not to await
his fate but to escape. So from the Castle he made his escape in the garb
of a page brought to him by his stepdaughter, the Lady Sophia Lindsay.
They passed out together. "The Earl," Law says in his Memorials,
"was so agitated that he dropt the lady’s gown when about to pass the
sentinel at the castle gate; but she, with admirable presence of mind,
snatched up her train from the mud, and in a pretended rage threw it in
Argyle’s face, with many reproaches of ‘Careless loon,’ which so besmeared
him that his features were not recognised." So he effected his escape and
The evil days continued. Tortures
and killings were of almost daily occurrence.
Andrew Hyslop, a young man, was shot
by order of Claverhouse. This young man, along with his brother and
sister, lived with their mother, at whose house one of the fugitives had
died after a few days’ illness. The family, dreading punishment, buried
the corpse in a neighbouring field during the night, which being
discovered, the body was lifted by the soldiers, the widow’s house
stripped and razed to the ground and the poor woman suffered a loss of
about six hundred and fifty pounds Scots. She and her family had to
wander; Andrew was caught and shot.
Hundreds of people were murdered in
cold blood, hundreds were killed in the moorlands, and many more suffered
loss of goods and homes and liberty. The fires of persecution burned
The Test Act of 1672, which was
responsible for such misery, among other penalties enacted "That every
person that should be admitted to any office, civil or military, or shall
receive any pay by reason of any patent or grant, or shall have command or
place of trust, or shall be admitted into any service in the Royal
Household, shall receive the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper according to
the usage of the Church of England, within three months after his
admittance, in some public church upon some Lord’s Day, immediately after
divine service and sermon. Any person taking office without this
qualification, and being therein lawfully convicted, is disabled from
sueing or using any action at law, for being guardian of any child, or
executor, or capable of any legacy or deed of gift, and forfeit the sum of
£500, to be received by him or them that shall sue for the same."
It was legislation such as this that
roused the defiant spirit of the Covenanters. These laws were only
repealed on May 9th, 1828.
Truly terrible things have been done
in the name of religion. It is scarcely creditable to-day that such
dreadful ordeals lay in wait for those whose only sin was to worship as
they themselves thought best!
Many monuments adorn the lowly
Scottish Kirkyard, bearing inscriptions to the martyrs. On Ruthven Green
is an upright stone bearing the following words, which serve for all; if
the poetry is indifferent the sentiments are sound.