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Scottish Women in Bygone Days
The Covenant and the Part Women Took


FEW periods in Scottish history are as rich in national feeling as the period of the Reformation. During that period people lived intensely, and the Covenants were the natural outcome of this intensity. The country passed through a period of persecution and bloodshed, and martyrs on both sides abounded—men and women who suffered willingly and with exultation for their conception of truth and liberty.

In some cases history reveals but incomplete reports of the doings of various people—tantalizingly brief, a momentary glimpse, a few hints, a chance allusion and then a blank. At other times the whole life of some personage is revealed, from beginning to end it may be traced, and in the actions and sayings of such a personage history lies before us.

Throughout the seventeenth century, the Scottish Presbyterians were engaged in a great fight, the fight for the preservation of the form of religious worship their forefathers had chosen, and to which they were determined to adhere.

Charles I. sought to alter the form of religion and to substitute Episcopacy for Presbyterianism, with the liturgy of the Church of England. The King had reigned but a few months when his subjects were disturbed by the news that he had brought home a Popish wife, Henrietta Maria, the daughter of Henry IV. of France. Row, son of the historian of "The Kirk," tells us: " It is very remarkable that the Queen’s mass, the pest of the soul, and a most raging pestilence killing bodies, came to London together. Oh, that men had eyes in their heads to consider, and eyes to see the Lord’s ways." [History of the Kirk of Scotland. Row.]

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 Reformation downwards.

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. Spalding.]

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 preaching.

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 their hands.

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 were rent."

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 parts.

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 fire.

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 subsistence.

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 mother.

"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.

"QUEENSBERRY, I.P.D."
"Wigtown, 17th Oct., 1724."

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 against her."

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 inch.

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 Martyrs.

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 unbroken spirit.

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 went abroad.

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 fiercely.

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.

"A Cloud of Witnesses lyes here
Who for Christ’s Interest did appear,
For to Restore true Liberty
Overturned then by tyranny,
And by proud Prelates, who did Rage
Against the Lord’s own heritage.
They sacrificed more for the laws
Of Christ their king, His noble cause.
These heroes fought with great renown,
By falling got the martyr’s crown."


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