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Life Sketches from Scottish History of Brief Biographies of the Scottish Presbyterian Worthies
John Blackader


John Blackader was one of those bold and faithful preachers, in the days of Scotland’s troubles, who was expelled from his charge for conscience’ sake; but after his ejection he continued to preach in the fields to his persecuted followers. One of his sons, then a mere child, relates, with much simplicity, what happened on one of these occasions:—“A party of the kings guard of horse, called Blue-bearders, came from Dumfries to Trorpieer, to search for and apprehend my father, but found him not; for what occasion I know not. So soon as the party entered the close, and came into the house, with cursing and swearing, we that were children were frightened out of our little wits and ran up stairs, and I among them; who, when I heard them all roaring in the room below, like so many breathing devils, I had the childish curiosity to get down upon my belly and peep through a hole in the floor above them, to see what monsters of creatures they were; and it seems they were monsters, indeed, for cruelty; for one of them, perceiving what I was doing, immediately drew his sword and thrust it up where I was peeping, so that the mark of the point was scarce an inch from the hole, though no thanks to the murdering ruffian, who designed to run it up through my eye. Immediately after, we were forced to pack up, bag and baggage, and remove to Gleneairn, ten miles from Troqueer. We, who were the children, were put into cadgers’ creels, where one of us cried out, coming through the bridge end of Dumfries, 'I’m banish!, I’m banished! One happened to ask, ‘Who has banished yc, my bairn?’ He answered, ‘Biteth a sheep (a nickname for the bishop) has banisht me.’” The same boy gives the following artless, but graphic, account of one of those scenes which took place when he was about ten years of age:—“About this time (the end of winter, 1666), Turner and a party of sodgers from Galloway came to search for my father, who had gone to Edinburgh. These rascally ruffians beset our house round, about two o’clock in the morning, cursing on us to open the door. Upon which we all got up, young and old, excepting his sister, with the nurse and the child at her breast. When they came in, the fire was gone out; their roared out again, ‘Light a candle immediate^, and on with a fire quickly, or else we’ll roast nurse and bairn and all in the fire, and make a bra bleeze! When the candle was lighted, they drew out their swords and went to the stools and chairs, and clove them down to make the fire withal; and they made me hold the candle to them, trembling all along, and fearing every moment to be thrown quick into the fire. They then went to search the house for my father, running their swords down through the beds and bed-clothes; and among the rest they came where my sister was, then a child, and as yet fast asleep, and with their swords stabbed down through the bed where she was lying, crying, ‘Come out, rebel dog/ They made narrow search for him in all corners of the house, ransacking presses, chests, and flesh-stands. Then they went and threw down all his books, from the press, upon the floor, and caused poor me to hold the candle all this while, till they had examined his books; and all they thought whiggish, as they termed it, (and brave judges they were,) they put into a great horse-creel, and took away. Then they ordered one of their fellow-ruffians to climb up to the hen-coops, where the cocks and hens were; and as they came to one, threw about its neck, and down to the floor and so on till they had destroyed them all. Then they went to the meat-aumry, and took out what was there; then to the meal and beef barrels, and left little or nothing there. All this I was an eye-witness to, trembling and shivering all the while, having nothing but my short shirt upon me. So soon as I was relieved of my office, I began to think, if possible, of making my escape, rather than to be burnt quick, as I thought and they threatened. I went to the door, where there was a sentry on every side, standing with their swords drawn; for watches were set around to prevent escape. I approached nearer and nearer, by small degrees, making as if I were playing myself. At last, I got out there, making still as if I were playing, till I came to the gate of the house; then, with all the speed I had, (looking behind me, now and then, to see if they were pursuing after me,) I run the length of half a mile, in the dark night, naked to the shirt. I got to a neighbouring town, where, thinking to creep into some house to save my life, I found all the doors shut, and the people sleeping. Upon which, I went to the cross of the town, and got up to the uppermost step of it; and then I sat me down, and fell fast asleep till the morning. Between five and six, a door opens, and an old woman comes out, and seeing a white thing upon the cross, comes near it; and, when she finds it was a little boy, cries out, ‘Save us! what art thou?’ With that I awoke, and answered her, ‘I am Mr, Blackader’s son.’ ‘O my poor bairn, what brought thee here?’ I answer, ‘There’s a hantle of fearful men, with red coats, has burnt all our house, my breether and sister, and all the family! ’ ‘O poor thing!’ says she, ‘come in, and lie down in my warm bed:’ which I did —and it was the sweetest bed I ever met with.”


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