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Borrowstounness and District
Chapter VIII. Local Covenanting History and "The Borrowstounness Martyrs,"

1. Introduction—The National Covenant—2. The Solemn League and? Covenant—3. The Seaport a Haunt of Covenanting Fugitives: Zeal and Steadfastness of Inhabitants—4. Persecution of Rev. William Wishart: Sufferings of his Family : His Continual Enthusiasm— 5. Visits of Rev. John Blackader, Field Preacher : His Conventicle-at Hilderston; Linlithgow Magistrates and their "Deluded Townsmen"—6. The Rev. Donald Cargill and his Escapes: Carriden Hiding-Places—7. Sir Robert Hamilton: Residence and Death in Borrowstounness: His "Faithful Testimony"—8. The Four Borrowstounness Martyrs: Archibald Stewart and his Testimony—9. Marion Harvie, Serving-maid: Her Own Story—10. Before Privy Council—11. Before Justiciary Court: Her Written Testimony— 12. On the Scaffold : Her Last Testimony—13. William Gouger-and William Cuthill—14. The Gibbites, or Sweet Singers of Borrowstounness—Rev. Donald Cargill's Fruitless Mission: What the -Dragoons Did.


The life-story of the Scottish people contains no finer -chapter than that concerning the Covenants and Covenanters. All phases of Covenanting history are exceptionally interesting, and the interest is intensified to those whose lot . has been cast in districts which specially contributed to it. Hereabouts we have been accustomed to associate that history-with the southern counties—Dumfriesshire, Galloway, Ayrshire, and Lanarkshire—the land of hills, moss-hags, deer-slunks, declarations, conventicles, and Covenanting battles. But it will come as a revelation to many when they find that the district. of Borrowstounness has an honoured place in the Covenanting story.

In our day the exceedingly long and tortuous railway routes to the southern counties give us the impression that these are further off than they really are. In Covenanting times there could be no such delusion. Lying directly to the north of the Covenanting counties, it would be comparatively easy for horsemen, and even for pedestrians, to come by the hill roads to the shores of the Forth from the uplands of Lanarkshire and further south. As we shall see, there must have been a considerable traffic to the seaport from these centres.

Before relating the events which interest us locally we may be pardoned for recalling a few of the outstanding facts of the national struggle.

Although there were the first and second Covenants of 1557 and 1559, whereby certain Scottish nobles agreed to resist attempts made in these years to revive the Roman Catholic religion, the Covenanters derived their name chiefly from the National Covenant, signed in the spring of 1638, and the Solemn League and Covenant, signed in 1642. The cause of revolt was the misguided persistence of King James, and his son and grandsons, in holding to the doctrine that they were Kings by "Divine Right, "and that the will of the people did not enter into the scheme of government at all. Scotland had no sooner cast off the Roman Catholic religion and established Presbyterianism at the Reformation than first James, and then the others in their turn, sought, despite promises to the contrary, to impose Episcopacy. Passive resistance more or less to James, however, blazed into open rebellion in the early years of his son. According to King Charles and his spiritual adviser. Archbishop Laud, the Scottish Church, as established by Knox and the other Reformation heroes, eighty years before, had to go—presbyteries, kirk sessions, and elders. For the future the bishops were to rule, and Laud's Service-book was ordered to be used in all churches. Upon this the Lowland people of •all classes rose in united protest and flocked to Edinburgh. Popular tumult for a time was quietened by the appointment of four committees of four each—drawn from the nobles,, the gentry, the clergy, and the citizens—to see to their interests. This body was known as the Tables, or the Four Tables. The King ignored it, supported the bishops, and) pronounced all protestors conspirators. The Tables recalled the people to Edinburgh, and the result was that historic declaration, the National Covenant, signed by thousands in Greyfriars' Church and Churchyard, Edinburgh, on the 1st of March, 1638, and following days, and afterwards throughout the whole country. Its chief terms were a passionate profession of the Reformed faith, a resolution to continue in it against all errors and corruptions, and also a resolution to support the religion, liberties, and laws of the realm. It was distinctly national, and it was* not, as the King tried to make out, a treasonable document. It clearly indicated that the people wished to be loyal to the King in matters of ordinary government, but that they declined to accept him as the dictator of what religion they should profess. Interference with their freedom of conscience they could not and would not accept under any pretext. The wrath of Charles and the bishops at this strong exhibition of spiritual independence, or, as they called it, treason, was extreme. Duke of Hamilton's useless mission on behalf of his King, who prudently remained in England, and other events now well-known matters of national history followed.


The Solemn League and Covenant, to turn to it for a moment, was of more than national import. The King had been as high-handed with the Puritans in England as he was with the Scottish nation. When their Civil War broke out the Puritan leaders sent to the Scottish Convention of Estates for help, and the Estates willingly agreed to send a Scottish army to their aid. The Alliance then entered into between the two kingdoms was known as the Solemn League and Covenant. Both countries were to strive for the uprooting of Prelacy and Popery, and to labour 'for the reformation of religion in the Kingdoms of England and of Ireland in doctrine, in worship, discipline, and polity, according to the Word of God and the example of the best Reformed Church.

During the Covenanting struggle various Declarations, .notably two at Sanquhar and one at Rutherglen, were made by the Covenanting leaders from time to time. These Declarations, of course, like the Covenants, were viewed by the Throne as treasonable, only more so. Certainly the terms in which the King and others of the Royal House were spoken of in these •documents became more pronounced as the issue resolved itself more and more distinctly into a fight for mastery in spiritual matters between a tyrannical Royalty and an independent people. But the circumstances were such that it could scarcely be otherwise. The haughty Stuarts thought of the people only as so many pawns to be used for the Royal purposes. The idea of treating them as rational human beings never once entered their minds. The Covenanters, seeing this, had either to succumb without a murmur to this blind driving force or to -assert themselves as rational units. They asserted themselves. The result of Declaration after Declaration was that the rigour >of the persecutors was redoubled, and the Covenanters were ruthlessly hunted and done to death. These, indeed, were "the killing times," times, as Crockett puts it, of "many headings, hangings, hidings, chasings, outcastings, and weary wanderings."

The position and action of the Covenanters have in many cases been misunderstood for lack of complete knowledge of the facts, and in others they have been sorely misrepresented. However, as the facts of their history come to be more -generally known in detail, pieced together, and studied as an epoch by themselves, what the Covenanters did for Scotland and the Presbyterian religion will, we doubt not, duly receive the intelligent and permanent recognition which it deserves.


Borrowstounness, at the time when the struggle became acute, had frequent and intimate commercial intercourse with Holland, and, as Holland was the favourite resort of expatriated Covenanters, and the base, so to speak, of many of their banished leaders, the seaport became a regular haunt of Covenanting fugitives from the southern counties and elsewhere. The minister of Bo'ness, for a time at least, and the minister of Carriden entirely, were King's men. But the people of the town and district, being inspired by the Rev. John Blackader, the great field-preacher, and many others, strenuously opposed the endeavours of King Charles to -crush out the national religion. James, first Duke of Hamilton, was, as we have stated elsewhere, unfortunately employed as one of the chief instruments of King Charles for opposing the Covenanters. It is clear, however, that this fact did not in the slightest way tend to abate the Covenanting zeal of his many vassals, both here and in Clydesdale. And no doubt among the crowds who flocked to Edinburgh to demonstrate against the Duke during his futile endeavour to discharge his commission from Charles, there were large numbers of his own vassals from Bo'ness and Clydesdale.

Speaking of the seaport as a place of refuge for the persecuted, it can easily be conceived, says Mr. Johnston,1 that the skippers of Bo'ness, who loathed Prelacy and all its works, did much to help the persecuted Covenantees to escape. They could usually count on finding there a good ship, commanded by a sympathetic master and manned by an honest crew, ready to put them beyond the reach of their foes. We know, too, that, as the Press at home was under a strict censorship, the Presbyterians found it necessary to get their literature printed abroad, much of it—to the great annoyance of the Government—being smuggled over to Borrowstounness from various Dutch cities in which Scottish exiles had taken up their quarters.

Many of the sons and daughters of the seaport were •distinguished for their zeal and steadfastness. And when the ^struggle became an armed one on both sides raids and persecutions against those who upheld the Covenants were frequent in this neighbourhood, for Edinburgh, the seat of the civil authority, was near, and nearer still was Binns, the seat of Sir Thomas Dalyell—the bloody Dalyell, as he was called.


One of the earliest local victims of the persecution was the Rev. William Wishart, the last minister of the Parish of Kinneil. From the first he had been a vigorous protestor, forming one of the Dissenting Presbytery from 1651 to 1659. On 15th September, 1660, by the authority of the Committee of Estates, he was seized in Edinburgh, where he had apparently been staying at the time, and confined to his-chamber. Five days later he was imprisoned in the Tolbooth. He remained in prison for thirteen months. His offences were two—not disowning the Remonstrance and refusing to sign the Bond for keeping the peace. Part of his imprisonment seems to have been in the Castle of Stirling, for we find his spouse, Christian Burne, petitioning Parliament early in 1661 for assistance, and showing " the sad condition of Mr. Wishart, now prisoner in the Castle of Stirling, throw want of means while ane numerous familie are dependant." As a result, an Act was passed on 29th January, 1661, in her favour, whereby "all the arrears of stipend restand awand (resting owing) preceiding 1660 were ordeaned to be payed to her be the persons lyable in payment thereof." In November, 1661, we find three Commissioners, of whom Mr. John Waugh, first minister of Bo'ness, was one, supplicating the Privy Council for themselves, and in name and on behalf of the "remanent bretherin " of the Presbytery of Linlithgow. They narrated that Kinneil, owing to the imprisonment of its minister, Mr. Wishart, had for thirteen months been without the "settled administration of the ordinances." The Presbytery had done what they could, but this "had been but little, having eight kirks beside that to provide with preaching." They craved for his release, so that access could be had for the "planting of that kirk with some other whom the patron should be pleased to name." The petition having been carefully considered by the Privy Council,, they were pleased to order his release. From this contemplated "planting" we are inclined to think that Mr. Wishart did. no duty at Kinneil after his release. If he did his ministrations-, must have been of a perfunctory character. In any event, Kinneil Parish and the Church were soon suppressed. On 17th December, that same year, the Council had before them another supplication from the Presbytery It craved the Lords to remove the sequestration which then lay on Mr. Wishart's stipend for that year. Parliament had taken it off for the previous year, so that "the said Mr. William and his numerous family would have at least a viaticuus for keeping them from starving for a tyme." The Lords granted what was craved, and ordained all heritors and others liable in payment of the minister's stipend within the said parish to make payment of their respective proportions to the said William Wishart.

But if Mr. Wishart had through his imprisonment lost his charge, it did not make him lose his enthusiasm for the cause-of the Covenants. For the next fourteen stormy years ho appears to have been a leader in the field meetings or conventicles, and on 6th August, 1675, was intercommuned by the Privy Council for taking part in these. We do not expect these letters of intercommuning would cause him to abate his enthusiasm in the slightest. On the contrary, we fear that, imprisonment followed, as we do not discover anything of him for the next ten years. On 5th February, 1685, he was ordered to be sent to His Majesty's plantations for refusing the-abjuration or test, and was only liberated from prison on the 24th of the same month owing to the death of King Charles II.

When King James VII. issued in 1687 his Declarations of Indulgence, under which the majority of the Presbyterian ministers returned to their parishes, Mr. Wishart began to-preach again, and took charge of the congregation at Leith. where he had his residence, promising to continue until a minister was settled. However, he stands enrolled as a minister of the Presbytery of Linlithgow on 25th July, 1688. He died in February, 1692, aged about sixty-seven, in the forty-third year of his ministry.


Another noted Covenanter whose voice was often uplifted in this district was the Rev. John Blackader. He was immediately descended from the Blackaders of Tulliallan, and more remotely from a famous Berwickshire family—father and seven sons—once a terror to the English, and known as "the Black Band of the Blackaders." Mr. Blackader was trained at the College of Glasgow, but did not find a charge until he was thirty-seven. He was then ordained over the Parish of Troqueer, in the Presbytery of Dumfries, where he did great work for seven years in the face of serious difficulties. Refusing to bow the knee on the passing of Middleton's Glasgow Act, the dragoons came after him, and he had to seek refuge in Galloway, beyond the bounds of his Presbytery. Soon, however, he became one of the chiefs in the great conventicles of the time. He had his headquarters in Edinburgh, but hastened here and there all over the country on his Divine errands.

We do well then to remember the frequent presence in our neighbourhood of this famous field-preacher. In the spring of 1671 he held one of his great meetings at Hilderston House, near Torphichen. Kettlestone, which was within the Regality of Borrowstounness, was also in that direction. It is interesting to recall here2 that William Sandilands, brother of the fourth Lord Torphichen and tutor to his nephew, the fifth Lord, was Laird of Hilderston. He married the second daughter of Cunningham of Cunningham-head, in Ayrshire, a gentleman distinguished even in that period for his sincere piety. Hilderston and his lady were both remarkable for their attachment to the Presbyterian principles of the Scottish Church, and their mansion-house of Hilderston was often the hospitable resort of the persecuted Covenanters. There Mr. Blackader and others often held conventicles, and heavy fines were on that account imposed upon the family.

On this occasion Mr. Blackader had gone to visit Lady Hilderston, and, being indisposed, intended to remain private. Early on the Sabbath morning, however, the house was surrounded by multitudes. Numbers attended from Linlithgow, which through all the persecution remained loyal to the King. Indeed, its inhabitants became noted for their hostility to the Covenants and conventicles. Blackader did not wish to have more present than the family. But when the morning Psalm was being sung the gates of the court were opened. Speedily the large hall, holding about eight hundred people, was filled, besides the rooms beneath, many people also standing in the court. Before the meeting a serious accident occurred to "a very honest gentlewoman in Lithgow," who on her way thither fell off horseback from behind her husband and broke her arm. In spite of the pain, the pious and plucky lady went to the service, at which she was present all forenoon listening composedly without fainting. Had it not been for the minister, who desired her husband to take her home, she would have remained for the afternoon worship also, being "so earnest to hear and to see such a day in that part of the country."

The Provost of Linlithgow, Crichton2 states, punished this fanaticism of his deluded townsmen with severe fines to keep up the loyalty of his burgh. Many were summoned and apprehended the same afternoon, and some imprisoned that very night. All cheerfully paid their penalties—some three hundred merks, some fifty pounds, some one hundred pounds sterling. The lady and her son, the young laird, were brought before the Council; she was fined in four hundred merks for suffering a meeting in her house, and her son in a like sum for not disclosing the name of the minister. The aotivity of the magistracy was stimulated and emboldened by the presence of the Earls of Linlithgow and Kincardine, two of the Lords of the Privy Council who happened to be at the palace, and "were brought into the Council-room for a terror." These noblemen had been on a crusade to the west with six or seven of the ablest and subtlest curates essaying with flattering and insinuating speeches to draw the people to conformity. They offered money to the poorer sort, but with no effect; so they "returned disappointed of that poor senseless wyle."

At a later date Mr. Blackader was once more in Borrowstounness, where the meeting was dispersed by the soldiers from Blackness, and he himself nearly taken prisoner. On that occasion his son Adam was seized, and sent to Blackness Castle. In his autobiography the son says they told him he was to be put into a dungeon full of puddocks and toads. "This was for being at Borrowstounness, where my father had been preaching and baptised twenty-six children. They made my worthy old father climb dykes and hedges from one yard to another on a dark night till he got up the hill, where there was a barn in which he lay down all night."


Yet another of the faithful who was often in this district was the Rev. Donald Cargill, one time minister of the Barony Church of Glasgow, whose saintly character and career are well known to those acquainted with Covenanting history. It was through means of a scheme intended to entrap Cargill, while in the neighbourhood, that Marion Harvie and Archibald Stewart, two of the Borrowstounness martyrs, were apprehended between Edinburgh and Queensferry in November, 1680. Cargill on this occasion got warning of his danger in the nick of time, and escaped. He had on the 3rd of June previous an even narrower escape at Queensferry. Strolling between Bo'ness and Queensferry the minister of Carriden, one John Pairk, and James Hamilton, fourth minister of Bo'ness, recognised Cargill, and sent word to the Governor of Blackness Castle. The latter followed quickly to Queensferry, found Cargill in a hostelry, and arrested him. Henry Hall, who was also arested, drew steel and overcame Middleton, the Governor. Meanwhile Cargill made off on Middleton's horse. Pairk's action was much resented by the faithful, and his life threatened. He apparently appealed to the Privy Council for protection, and we find the Council in June, 1680, recommending him to the Lords of the Treasury " for some allowance for this good service," i.e., discovery of Mr. Cargill. As we will see in another chapter, Pairk was a worthless creature.

In the rising ground to the south of the Kinningars Park, Grange, there are several caves which are said to have been hiding-places of the Covenanters. Some were also to be found in the Carriden woods.

Stevenson, in "Kidnapped," makes Alan Breck and David Balfour, after being rowed across the Firth by a Limekilns lass, land "on the Lothian shore not far from Carriden"; and we read also that the two wanderers rested "in a den on the seashore." Though occurring in a work of fiction, we expect Stevenson had either seen the caves himself or been told of their existence. These hiding places were not, of course, caves in the geological sense, there being no rocks to speak of in this part of the Forth coast.

It was Donald Cargill, too, who some little time before his execution made a pilgrimage of faithfulness and love to the "Gibbites" in the Pentland Hills. He addressed to them a long letter of kindly remonstrance while in prison. We shall refer fully to the Gibbites later upon possession of the family estates. Historians have charged him with having shown cowardice while in command at Drumclog and at Bothwell Brig, and of being a "feckless" general. We think the cowardice quite a mistaken and unfounded charge. "Fecklessness" there apparently was at Bothwell Brig, but it was more, we believe, a result of the bickerings and strivings which arose prior to the battle among the varied sects of the Covenanters themselves than inherent inability on Hamilton's part.

He was born in 1650, being the younger son of Sir William Hamilton, of Preston and Fingalton, who signed the Covenant in 1638, and of the same stock as Sir John Hamilton, of Preston, who defied King James's Commissioner, the second Marquis of Hamilton, at Edinburgh, in 1621, by boldly voting against the ratification of the Five Articles of Perth. Robert was educated under his relative, Gilbert Burnet, at Glasgow. Burnet thought him a promising youth, but held that the company of Dissenters early turned his head. He leagued himself with the party of Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill, and was the leading spirit in the Rutherglen Manifesto shortly before Drumclog. This document declared against all the statutes for overturning the Reformation and setting up the Royal Supremacy. Shortly after Bothwell Hamilton fled to Holland, and had to keep away, as an order was out for his execution. He visited Germany and Switzerland as Commissioner for the Scottish Presbyterian Church, and persuaded the Presbytery of Gronnigen to ordain Mr. James Renwick. Throughout his wanderings he passed through many hazards and difficulties. He returned home at the Revolution, about which time his brother, Sir William, died, and he fell heir to the estates and honours. But he felt he could not in conscience enter into possession unless he owned the title of the Prince and Princess of Orange, and this he could not bring himself to do. After his return he again became active for his cause. He took a prominent share in publishing the Sanquhar Declaration of 1692, for which he was apprehended, taken to Edinburgh, and there and elsewhere kept prisoner until May, 1693.

On being examined by the Privy Council he declined to recognise them as competent judges, because they were not qualified according to the Word of God and the Covenants. Asked if he would take the Oath of Allegiance, he answered "No," it being an unlimited oath "not bottomed upon the Covenants." Asked if he would give his security for obedience and peaceable living, he answered, "I marvel why such questions are asked at me, who have lived so retiredly, neither found plotting with York, France, or Monmouth, or any such as the rumour was; nor acting contrary to the laws of the nation enacted in the time of the purity of Presbytery." Upon Lothian remarking they were ashamed of him he replied, "Better you be ashamed of me than I be ashamed of the laws of the Church and nation whereof you seem to be ashamed."

Before his liberation he gave in two protests against what he termed his unjust imprisonment for adhering to the fundamental laws and constitution of the Church and Covenanted nation. Until his death, eight years after, he continued faithful in his contendings, and greatly strengthened the rest of the suffering remnant. During a portion of this period he seems to have taken up his residence at Borrowstounness, but whether in the town or at Kinneil we cannot say. He died here in 1701, at the age of fifty-one, after a sore affliction of some years, which he endured with great fortitude and in a spirit of holy submission to the will of God. His remains rest in one of the local churchyards. In drawing near his end he wrote a faithful testimony, dated Borrowstounness, 5th September, 1701, in which he says— "As for my case, I bless God it is many years since my interest in Him was secured, and under all my afflictions from all airths He hath been a present help in time of my greatest need. I have been a man of reproatch, a man of contention; but praise to Him it was not for my ain things, but for the things of my Lord Jesus Christ."

Renwick always called him " mi Pater," and had ever a .great regard for him. The last letter Renwick wrote, just on the eve of his execution, was to Hamilton. There he says—"If I had lived and been qualified for writing a book, and if it had been dedicated to any, you would have been the man, for I have loved you, and I have peace before God in that; and I bless His name that I have been acquainted with you."

For soundness in the faith, true piety, exercise of real godliness, a conversation becoming the Gospel, and a true understanding of the state of the Lord's cause in every part thereof, says one judgment of him, he was an honour to the name of Hamilton, and to his nation.

Crockett, in his "Men of the Moss Hags," introduces Sir Robert, Renwick, Cargill, Cameron, and other Covenanters, and describes their characters.


The Borrowstounness victims of the persecution were—(1) Archibald Stewart, who suffered death at the Cross of Edinburgh on 1st December, 1680; (2) Marion Harvie, executed in the Grassmarket of Edinburgh on 26th January, 1681; (3) William Gougar, executed at Edinburgh, 11th March, 1681; and (4) William Cuthill, seaman, also executed there on 27th July, 1681. A short account of each, with their answers to the questions put to them when brought before the Privy Council, and full copies of their written testimonies prior to death, are to be found in the "Cloud." This book, it is interesting to recall, was first published in 1714, and there have been many editions since. The idea of it originated with the "United Societies" so far back as 1686, and its object, as explained in a letter to Sir Robert Hamilton in 1688, was to have an account of those who suffered under the tyranny of Charles II. and James, his son. The societies considered it a duty laid upon them to hand down to their posterity "such a rich treasure as the fragrant and refreshing account of the sufferings of the martyrs, witnesses, and confessors of Christ."

When the Privy Council registers of that period come to be printed we shall doubtless find therein the official report of what passed for a trial of Stewart and the others. There is, however, in the "Cloud" and more recent volumes of Covenanting history sufficient to enable us to give a brief sketch of each of the local martyrs.

Archibald Stewart.—There is no indication of this man's occupation or where he lived in the town. We simply read that he belonged to Borrowstounness, that he had been in Holland, and that he was converted by what he heard there and at home. Stewart was several times before the Privy Council, and on 15th November, 1680, was examined by torture. The Council feared a scheme was on foot to kill King Charles and the Duke of York, and applied the torture of the boot to many of their prisoners to see if they could thus cruelly extort information. We have no details of Stewart's torture, but we find that Robert Hamilton, son of Major Robert Hamilton, the Duke's chamberlain, was put to the torture at the same time. The Committee of the Council •conducting the examination reported that Stewart confessed to being at Airsmoss, and that he, in addition, described to them a number of Mr. Cargill's haunts and places of hiding.

The Duke of York and General Dalyell—both of them arch-persecutors, and loathed by the Covenanters—were present among many others at most of these examinations by torture, and took evident pleasure in them.

Stewart's testimony is dated on the day of his execution. The martyrs evidently considered these testimonies absolutely and sacredly necessary, both as a public protest against their sentences and as an incentive to their former associates to stand firm for the cause. They seem to have been all carefully written out before their executions, mayhap by themselves but more likely with the assistance of some of the zealous Covenanting preachers.

In considering Stewart's testimony, and that of Marion Harvie, we must remember the excellent caution given by the original compilers of the "Cloud." They ask that the statements by the martyrs as to leaving their blood on the heads of their persecutors are not to be understood as the effects of a revengeful, ungospel spirit, but rather as a simple declaration of their persecutors' blood-guiltiness in condemning them.

Stewart was executed along with James Skene, brother of the Laird of Skene, and John Potter, a farmer at Uphall. Upon the scaffold he sang the 2nd Psalm, and read the 3rd chapter of Malachi. While attempting to pray his voice was purposely drowned by the beating of drums, and while at his devotions he was launched into eternity.

In the testimony we find these sentences—

"It is like the most part of you are come here to gaze and wonder upon me. It is no wonder you count us fools, for while I was in black nature myself I was as mad as any of you all. But blessings to His Glorious and Holy Name, whereas once I was blind now I see: and therefore I abhor myself in dust and ashes, and I desire the more to magnify His free Grace for all that He hath done for me.

"I leave my testimony against those tyrants that have fore-faulted (forfeited) all the rights that they now lay claim to and usurp over the people of the Lord, and of the whole land, and all their unjust laws; but especially that accursed supremacy, by which they set up a miserable, adulterous and wretched man in Christ's room who thinks to wrong our Lord and carry His Crown. But it will be too heavy for him. Though all the wicked Lords, Prelates, Malignants and Indulged be joining hand in hand to hold it on, down it shall come and whosoever wears that Crown."

And down both came in the next reign.


Marion Earvic.—Marion was born in Borrowstounness

Old Grange House—Erected in 1564; Demolished 1906. (From a photo, in i8g6 by W. S. Andrew, Carriden.)

about 1660, and followed the occupation of a servant maid there. In what house she was born or with whom she served we unfortunately cannot say. Her father, she tells us, had sworn the Covenants, so it is most likely she enjoyed the advantage of a religious education. But, according to her own story, she was fifteen before religious teaching produced a good effect upon her mind. Richard Cameron appears to have been among the field preachers who visited this district, for Marion says that it was a sermon of Cameron's which awakened her to a sense of sin. Thenceforward she embraced every opportunity of hearing the persecuted preachers. She speaks of having attended the preachings of Donald Cargill, John Welch, Archibald Riddell, and Richard Cameron, and of being particularly refreshed with the hearing of the latter at a communion in Carrick, to which she had gone. Marion was taken prisoner in 1680 along with Archibald Stewart, between Edinburgh and Queensferry, after having been to the city to see Cargill. She was brought before the Justiciary Court on 6th December that year, and the following extracts from the Court records explain what took place.

"Compeared Marion Harvie, prisoner, and being examined adheres to the fourth Article of the fanatics' New Covenant, the same being read to her, and disowns the King and his authority and the authority of the Lords of Justiciary. She approves of Mr. Cargill excommunicating the King. Declares she can write, but refuses to sign the same." Her indictment was drawn up from this statement, and she was tried, and found guilty on Monday, 17th January, 1681.

Those who desire full details must refer to the "Cloud," where they can read (1) Marion's last Speech and Testimony, containing (a) an account of her answers before the Privy Council: (b)her discourse before the Justiciary Court; (c) her dying testimony and last words; and (2) a description of her behaviour on the morning of her execution and on the scaffold.

She and Isobel Alison, the latter described as having lived very privately in Perth, suffered together in the Grassmarket. No execution of those cruel times excited more sympathy or a deeper interest throughout the country, Peden has testified that these martyrs were "two honest worthy lasses." As showing the hatred and scorn which their persecutors had of them, the girls were executed along with some three or four wicked women guilty of murdering their own children, and other villainies.


The following paragraphs should help the reader to frame & picture of the character and personality of Marion: —

From her Account of her Answers before the Privy Council.— "They said, 'Do ye own these to be lawful?' I said, 'Yes; because they are according to the Scripture and our Covenants which ye swore yourselves, and my father swore them.'

"They said, 'Yea; but the Covenant does not bind you to deny the King's authority.' I said, 'So long as the King held by the truths of God which he swore we were obliged to own him; but when he break his oath and robbed Christ of his kingly rights which do not belong to him we were bound to disown him, and ye also.'

"They said, 'Do ye know what ye say?' I said, 'Yes.' They said, 'Were ye ever mad?' I answered, 'I have all the wit that ever God gave me. Do ye see any mad act in me?'

"They said, 'Where were you born?.' I said, 'In Borrowstounness.'

"They asked, 'What was your occupation there?' I told them, 'I served.'

"They said, 'Did ye serve the woman that gave Mr. Donald Cargill quarters?' I said, 'That is a question which I will not answer.'

"They said, 'Who did ground you in these principles?' I answered, 'Christ, by His Word.'

"Then they asked, 'What age I was of?' I answered, 'I cannot tell.'

"They said among themselves that I would be about twenty years of age, and began to regret my case, and said, ' Would I cast away myself so?' I answered, 'I love my life as well as any of ye do; but would not redeem it upon sinful terms.'

"They said, 'A rock, the cod, and bobbins were as fit for me to meddle with as these things.' "


From her Narrative of her "Discourse" before the-Justiciary Court.—"When the Assize (15 Jurymen) were set in a place by themselves, I said to them, 4 Now, beware what ye are doing, for they (her accusers) have nothing to say against me but only for owning Jesus Christ.'

"The Advocate said, 'We do not desire to take their lives, for we have dealt with them many ways, and sent Ministers to deal with them, and we cannot prevail with them.' I said, 'We are not concerned with you and your Ministers.'

"The Advocate said, 'It is not for religion we are pursuing you, but for treason.' I answered, 'It is for religion ye are-pursuing me. I am of the same religion that ye all are sworn to be of, but ye are all gone blind. I am a true Presbyterian in my judgment.' "

From her Testimony and Last Words.—Marion's testimonies against her persecutors were many and elaborately stated.

She begins by adhering to the Covenants and declarations in detail, and "to the holy and sweet Scriptures of God which have been my rule in all I have done and in which my soul has been refreshed."

She left her blood upon the King and the Duke of York, who she says "was sitting in Council when I was examined the first day." Then on James Henderson, in the North Ferry, whom she describes as the Judas who sold Archibald Stewart, Mr. Skene, and her to the soldiers. On the Criminal Lords, then especially on the Lord Advocate Mackenzie and " on that excommunicate traitor, Thomas Dalziel, who was porter that day that I was first before them, and threatened me with the-Boots."

The testimony concludes—

"Farewell, brothers; farewell, sisters; farewell, Christian acquaintances; farewell, sun, moon, and stars, and now welcome my lovely and heartsome Christ Jesus into whose hands I commit my spirit throughout all eternity. I may say, 'Few and evil have the days of the years of my pilgrimage been, I being about 20 years of age. From the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, the Women-house on the east side of the prison. Jany. 11th, 1681."

Dr. Smellie tells us of the visit of Mr. Archibald Riddell, the minister sent by the judges to see the girls. He was well enough known to Marion, as she had attended his field meetings before he accepted the Indulgence. He was a good man, but he had blurred and enfeebled his former efforts in the eyes of all Cameronians by accepting the Indulgence. Mr. Riddell's duty was to persuade the girls to conform; but he might as well, says this writer, have tried to soften into velvet and silk the brute-mass of the Castle Rock. This is a part of the account of the interview—" He offered to pray. We said, ' We were not clear to join with him in prayer.' He said, ' Wherefore ?' We said, ' We know the strain of your prayers will be like your discourse.' He said, ' I shall not mention any of your principles in my prayer, but only desire the Lord to let you see the evil of your doings.' We told him we desired none of his prayers at all. The Goodman2 of the Tolbooth and some of the gentlemen said, ' Would we not be content to hear him?' We said, ' Forced prayers have no virtue.' "


On the morning of their execution they were once more led into the Council Chamber. Bishop Paterson endeavoured to worry and grieve them, and said, "Marion, ye said ye would never hear a curate; now you shall be forced to hear one," and he commanded one of his suffragans to pray, but he was outwitted. "Come, Isobel," said the unconquerable Marion, 'let us sing the 23rd Psalm." Line by line she repeated the calm and uplifting words, and line by line, as Dr. Smellie touchingly puts it, these two who were appointed to death sang of the Lord their Shepherd and of the valley of the shadow where his rod and staff sustained them, and of God's house in which for evermore their dwelling-place should be. And not a petition of the curate's prayer was heard

On the scaffold Isobel sang the 84th Psalm and read the 16th chapter of St. Mark. Marion chose the 74th Psalm and the 3rd chapter of Malachi. After this Marion, who it is apparent had the gift of fluent utterance to a degree, and was always calm, clear-headed, and self-possessed, gave the assembled populace a narrative of her capture, trial, and sentence, and a summary of her written testimony. Towards the close she said, "They say I would murder. I could not take the life of a chicken but my heart shrinked."

Going up the ladder preparatory to being cast off by the hangman she turned round, sat down coolly, and said, "I am not come here for murder, but only for my judgment. I am about twenty years of age. At fourteen or fifteen I was a hearer of the curates, and indulged. And while I was a hearer of these I was a blasphemer and Sabbath-breaker, and a chapter of the Bible was a burden to me. But since I heard this persecuted Gospel I durst not blaspheme nor break the Sabbath, and the Bible became my delight."

This further speech highly irritated the major in charge of the soldiers, for he peremptorily called to the hangman to cast her over. And as the "Cloud" has it, "the murderer presently choked her."


William Gouger and William Cuthitt.—On the 11th of March, 1681, William Gouger, of Borrowstounness, was executed in Edinburgh, along with Robert Sangster and Christopher Miller, two Stirlingshire men. Gouger had been present at the battle of Bothwell Brig, and to the last he resolutely avowed the principles of the Covenanters. On the 27th of July the same year William Cuthill, a sailor belonging to the port, suffered along with the great Donald Cargill, Walter Smith, student of divinity, and William Thomson, a Fife man, in the Grassmarket of the capital for non-conformity and rebellion. We learn, as the narrative in the "Cloud" puts it, that the hangman "hacked and nagged off all their heads with an axe." Mr. Cargill's, Mr. Smith's, and Mr. Boig's heads were fixed upon the Netherbow Port, William Cuthill's and William Thomson's upon the West Port.

It is but right, then, that we should fervently and reverently remember those four martyrs of Borrowstounness, who have their names inscribed in the long death roll of the Scottish Covenanters. Yet, in the town and parish to which they belonged the humblest memorial has never been erected in their honour.


In concluding this chapter it may not be inappropriate to refer to a curious sect which originated here shortly after the death of the local Covenanting martyrs. Either the spiritual and physical trials of the persecution or, more likely, the excitement created among the poorer classes of the community caused a number of the people to lose that strong but calm faith which was such a noble characteristic of the zealous Covenanter. At all events, there unfortunately arose— and to the grief of all wise and godly men—a little sect of fanatics with what has been described as "demented enthusiastical delusions." They were known as the Gibbites, or Sweet Singers of Borrowstounness. Their leader was John Gibb, a local sailor of gigantic stature, and familiarly known as "Muckle Jock Gibb." In the eyes of John Gibb and his followers all the field preachers were considered backsliders and enemies. The Gibbites would pay no taxes, denounced the King, and protested against Covenants and confessions. They also called for vengeance on the murderers of the local martyrs, Stewart and Potter, whose blood they carried about and exhibited on handkerchiefs. Part of their programme was to indulge extensively in fasting, and this-naturally did not improve their already nervous condition. They were continually rushing about the streets of the town singing their penitential and dirgelike Psalms, the 74th, the4 79th, the 80th, the 83rd, the 137th, and declaring in a frenzied fashion against the abounding evils of the day. They condemned everything as wrong, both in Church and State. They refused to recognise even the very days of the week. The number of Gibb's hallucinations were many. He had tremendous energy, and expressed himself with much eloquence. By his followers, who were chiefly women, he was accepted as-the favoured and inspired of Heaven, and they did homage to him as King Solomon. Ultimately one wintry day early in the year 1681 the poor Gibbites—four men and six-and-twenty women—left their houses, families, and occupations for the desert places of the Pentland Hills. There they imagined they should be free from snares and sins. Some of them declared that here they would remain until they saw the smoke and ruin of the bloody city of Edinburgh, as they termed it.

To these poor demented creatures the great Donald Cargill,. a short time before his execution, made, in the words of Dr. Smellie, a pilgrimage of faithfulness and love. He found them in the midst of a great flow-moss betwixt Clydesdale and: Lothian, and earnestly strove to bring them to a better mind. Out on the moor he stayed on a night of cold easterly wet fog trying every device to effect their rescue from the phantasms-which had mastered them. But the hour of penitence, although not far off for most of them, had not yet arrived, and Mr. Cargill, the messenger of pity, had to take his departure with disappointment in his soul.

Shortly after Cargill's visit to them the wretched creatures, fell into the hands of a troop of dragoons at a very desert placed called Wool-hill Craigs. Carried to Edinburgh, the men-were lodged in the Canongate Tolbooth and the women in the Correction House, and a sound flogging was administered to them all round. After suffering a term of imprisonment, they were liberated. It is said that most of them regained their proper senses, and quietly settled down again in their native town. As for John himself, he never seems to have quite got over his ridiculous and absurd fancies. A few years later he got into further trouble with the authorities, and was once more placed under lock and key. He died in America, whence he had either gone voluntarily or been banished.

Mr. Crockett has given us a lively description of a scene with these Sweet Singers at the Deer-Slunk after Mr. Cargill's fruitless visit to them. The novelist treats the situation so aptly that our only regret is that the sound thrashing which he makes one of his characters administer to the "muckle man of Borrowstounness " did not actually take place.

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