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Ramble Round Kilmarnock
Chapter VIII

The Churchyard continued--John Fulton--King’s Well--Lochgoin: its Traditions and Relics--Dunctan Cove--Back to Kilmarnock.

"By yon rudely-lettered stone,
In the auld Kirk yard,
Bend thy spirit’s holiest tone,
In the auld Kirk yard;
Where the long grass rankly waves
O’er the hold martyr’s graves,
Pour the solemn meed it craves,
In the auld Kirk yard."

Following the advice of the poet, I strayed among the grass-covered mounds in quest of less assuming mementos of persecuting times. The first of these I met with was a plain upright slab bearing the following inscription:--"Here lies the body of James White, who was shot to death at Little Blackwood by Peter Inglis and his party 1865.

‘This martyr was by Peter Inglis shot,
By birth a tiger rather than a Scot;
Who, that his monstrous extract might be seen,
Cut off his head, and kick’d it o’er the green.
Thus was that head, which was to wear a crown,
A football made by a profane dragoon.’"

James White was one of twelve men who met one night for prayer and religious conversation in Little Blackwood, a farm-house on the estate of Grougar, a mile and a half to the east of Fenwick. Being surprised by a party of soldiers commanded by on Inglis, they entered the spence, but White, who was possessed of a firelock, the only weapon of the kind in the house, stationed himself in the lobby between the front and back doors, and when the soldiers appeared he fired. Unfortunately for him his gun burned priming, and the light thus occasioned revealed his person to the enemy, who poured in a volley and shot him dead on the spot. Two of his friends escaped through a hole in the thatch, and one named Gemmell in the darkness ran into the arms of a soldier, who laid hold of him. Gemmell being a powerful man dashed his opponent to the ground, but being dragged with him a dreadful struggle ensued to obtain the mastery. Finding himself overmatched, the soldier drew his bayonet with the intention of ridding himself of his antagoins, but Gemmell wrenched it from him and buried the weapon in  its owner’s body. Freeing himself from the quivering grasp of his foe he started to his feet and made off, but his flight was abruptly stopped by a sentinel. Rushing at the man he knocked him down with a well-directed blow, and before the prostrate son of Mars could gather himself up he dashed into the darkness and escaped. The cries of the wounded soldier brought his companions, who finding him writhing in agony lifted him up, conveyed him into the house, and threw him into a bed among three little children, who were terrified at his bloody appearance and the unusual scene enacting before them.. The fugitives along with the master and mistress of the house, who had sought refuge in the room, durst not leave lest they might be murdered, but the good woman hearing the voice of Inglis recognized it, and implored him for the love of God to give them quarter. With an oath he asked who she was that knew his name. She replied that she was the daughter of William Wylie of Darwhilling, in whose house he with others had been quartered for six months some years previous. Sending her soul to perdition, he ordered her to come out. Obeying, he told her that owing to the kindness he had met with at the hands of her father he would grant her friends quarter on condition that they would crawl out of the room on their knees. This they consented to do, and having approached the tyrant in the humiliating position submitted to be bound, and while thus rendered helpless one of their number was deliberately stabbed in the thigh by a soldier who carried a fixed bayonet. This piece of brutality Inglis passionately rebuked, and cursed the man for inflicting a would upon a prison to whom he had given quarter. Having secured their victims, the soldiers next set about plundering the house, which they did so effectually that they did not leave "so much as a spoon or the worth of it" behind them; and to consummate the whole one of the band--whom Sir Walter Scott, who was no great admirer of the Convanters, has described as "a monster"-- chopped the head off the corpse of White with an axe, and conveyed it to Newmilns, where it was used the next day as a kickball on the public green.

Close to the spot where the ashed of James White repose are the graves of three of Lieutenant Nisbet’s victims. The spots are marked by simple, rudely-carved slabs, and bear the following inscriptions:--


"Here lies the dust of John Fergushill and George Woodburn, who were shot at Midland by Nisbet and his party 1685.

‘When bloody prelates, once these nations’ pest,
Contrived that cursed self-contradicting test,
These men for Christ did suffer martyrdom,
And here their dust lies waiting till He Come.’

Renewed by subscription 1829."


"Here lyes the corpse of Peter Gemmell, who was shot by Nisbet and his party, anno 1685, for bearing his faithful testimony to the cause of Christ. Aged 21 years.

‘This man, like holy anchorites of old,
For conscience sake was thrust from house and hold;
Bloodthirsty red-coats cut his prayers short,
And even his dying groans were made their sport.
Ah, Scotland! breach of solemn vow repent,
Or bloody crimes will bring thy punishment.’"

It was on a Saturday evening in November, 1685, that the sons of the Covenant mentioned in the above inscriptions met in the old farm-house of Midland, which stood in the vicinity of the village, a short distance from where the modern house and offices now stand. They along with John Nisbet of Hardhill were engaged in devotional exercises when a party of dragoons commanded by Lieutenant Nisbet were observed approaching the house. Escape being impossible, the worshippers set about concealing themselves, and at the same time agreeing in the event of discovery to resist capture as they best could, for they well knew that if they fell into the hands of the soldiery in all probability they would be put to death--an Act being then in force which made it a capital offence to be present at a conventicle. The troop drew up in the farmyard, and made a formal examination of the premises, and lingered about for an hour without suspecting that the prey they were in search of was so near at hand. When  riding away they were met by two individuals, one of whom jeeringly cried, "You are guid seekers but ill finders." Acting upon this hint they returned and renewed the search, which resulted in the finding of the fugitives. Being armed, the wanderers fired three shots upon their assailants, and in return received twenty-four, which seemingly did little damage, for they rushed from their concealment and with clubbed guns closed with the foe. The struggle was fierce, and although the dragoons evinced much firmness they had to recede before the desperate men, and ultimately, finding that they could not prevail, a cry was raised amongst them to fire the house. Retreating to the outside of the building, they were closely followed by the four heroes who thus far had bravely defended themselves; but their success was of brief duration, for Nisbet of Hardhill, who had received six wounds, became weak, and he and his friend were soon over-powered, disarmed, and taken prisoners. Gemmell, Woodburn, and Fergushill were taken into a field about a stone-throw from the house and shot (the spot is still pointed out), but Hardhill was too valuable a prisoner to be dispatched so hastily, the Council having offered a reward of 3000 merks for his apprehension. With their prisoner the Government butchers rode to Kilmarnock and lodged him in the Tolbooth. Thence he was conveyed to Ayr, and from Ayr to Edinburgh, where after a short imprisonment and hurried trial he was sentenced to be taken to the Grassmarket and executed, and his "lands, goods, and gear to be forfeited to the King’s use." He suffered on the 4th of December, 1685, appearing on the scaffold "with a great deal of courage and Christian composure, and dying in much assurance and with a joy which none of his persecutors could intermeddle with."

Woodburn was tenant of Loudoun Mains, a farm about a mile and a half north-west of Newmilns. He was at the Battle of Drumclog, and for that was a marked man, and from it to the day of his death he was nearly always in hiding. Upon one occasion a dozen troopers who were in search of him came to the Mains, and after fruitlessly examining the premises left, but when a short distance from the house one of the number returned and strictly charged the goodwife to tell George to cover himself better the next time he hid, for he had seen one of his feet sticking through the straw. This tradition anecdote infers that the callousness ascribed to the soldiery was not so general as some writers would have us believe. Woodburn’s descendants still occupy the Mains, and a very interesting heirloom in  the family is the martyr’s sword an "Andrea Ferara," forty and a half inches long. It is a piece of excellent steel: lately the point was bent to the hilt, and when released sprang back to its wonted straightness.

Peter Gemmell, whom the second stone commemorates, was an ancestor of the mother of Robert Pollock, author of the "Course of Time," and doubtless this fact suggested to her gifted son the pleasing covenanting table entitled "Ralph Gemmell."

When nearing the churchyard gate I observed a stone indented in the wall to the memory of Robert Buntine and James Blackwood, natives of Fenwick, who were executed for taking part in the rising at Pentland. Buntine was hanged with two others at Glasgow on the 19th December, 1666, and Blackwood passed through the same ordeal at Irving on the 31st of the same month and year, along with another man named M’Coul. Woodrow states that the two latter were visited a few days before their execution by Alexander Nisbet --the commentator on Ecclesiates--who found them much cast down; but he cheered and instructed them so in the way of salvation, that "when the day of execution came, they died full of joy and courage, to the admiration of all who were witnesses."

As I passed through the gate of the churchyard into the roadway I thought of the dark days of the Covenant, and of Scotland’s noble sons who died for conscience sake, and upheld a great principle during a critical period of our country’s history. They fanned the smouldering embers of liberty, they broke up the clods of oppression , and battled for freedom to the death. "Yea,

"Their hearts were firm, and nobly strong,
To trample under every wrong;
And stamp, in God’s eternal page,
Their fierce contempt for despot’s rage.
Peace to their ashes! honour’d dust!
Sleep on, ye noble slumbering just!"

Strolling into Spout-mouth, I stopped before the humble cottage wherein dwelt John Fulton (born 1800, died 1853), the well-known self-taught astronomer. This remarkable genius, who was a working shoemaker, conceived the idea of constructing a mechanical illustration of the structure and movement of the Solar System, and under difficulties that would have disheartened the most sanguine enthusiast, produced his famed Orrery, a greatly admired piece of mechanism, to the construction of which for ten years he devoted his leisure hours. It is now located in the West End Park Museum, Glasgow, and consists of a central frame of movements which cover the orbicular revolutions of the planets, and of the secondary train that controls the axle rotation, and preserved all the relations both to the sun as centre of the system, and to the moon and satellites connected with them. This mechanical arrangement comprises all that had some small planetary bodies between Mars and Venus. The whole is worked by over two hundred movements, and so admirably adjusted that motion is given with the greatest facility. From Spout-mouth I directed my steps to the highway, and entered the village inn to rest and indulge in a refreshment before starting on a pilgrimage to Lochgoin, for it has been part of my plan at the outset to visit and secluded dwelling the Howies. Doing ample justice to the viands which the lady at my request placed before me, I started on my viarian excursion with renewed vigor, although I fain would have lingered about the isolated hamlet somewhat longer, but had no time to lose, for the day was wearing through the afternoon, and I well knew that its beauties would soon be on the wane.

From the village of Fenwick Glasgow road rises steadily over a gradual ascent that attains a height of some 700 feet above the level of the sea. It is very picturesque, is lined on either side with neatly-trimmed hedges, and skirted for about three miles by cultivated fields, many of which of late years have been reclaimed by drainage from the bleak moorland that at one time stretched in swampy sterility almost to the village. Beyond that distance the soil gradually loses its fertile appearance, vegetation becomes more stinted, and ultimately on each side of the road a dreary, marshy, barren, trackless waste, dotted here and there by moorland farm-steadings, stretches far beyond the range of vision. But to return. As I plodded onward, listening to the meodious notes of the lark, and to the humble hedge-sparrow chirping forth an accompaniment, I paused now and again to contemplate the beauties of Nature, and scent the sweet aroma that floated on the breeze. While thus, engaged, the rumbling of wheels smote my ear. Turning round I observed a horse and cart approaching, and in the driver recognized an honest country chiel’ whose acquaintance I had made in the village inn. He recognized me and kindly offered ma a lift on the road. I was soon seated beside him, and found him to be most inquisitive; but, notwithstanding this, a very agreeable companion--in fact, one well acquainted with the district through which we were passing, and not slow to communicate all he knew about it. He was curious to know who I was, and what business brought me so far from town, but to each of his queries I gave evasive answers. Not being satisfied, he got on to a new tack, and enquired if I belonged to Kilmarnock. I replied that I did not. "Then," said he, "you’ll belang here awa some place." I assured him Ayrshire was not the place of my nativity, "but since you are so anxious to know, I beg to inform you that I am a Cosmpolitan." "A Cosmo what?" he enquired in amazement. Repeating the word more distinctly, with a perplexedly puzzled look he exclaimed--"Man I thocht ye were a foreigner o’ some kind!" At this I laughed heartily, for it was evident by his stoical gaze that he did not comprehend the meaning of the term. Apologising for my rudeness, a brief explanation made him aware that the goal of my journey was Lochgoin, and its object an examination of the covenanting relics in the possession of the Howies. This so pleased him that he began to speak of that family, and of matters connected with the district through which we were passing, and seemed well acquainted with its lore, and not unqualified to relate its gossip and traditions. Remarking the probability of the moor being the scene of many a well-authenticated tradition, he said everything connected with the Covenanters had been carefully collected; but several traditions of dark deeds which had been perpetrated in the moss were locally popular. "For instance," said he, "pointing to a hollow part of the morass, "that mosshag owre there was counted no canny langsyne." "What was the reason of that?" said I. "Because the body o’ a sodger who was robbed and murdered was drawn out o’t--the moss refused to conceal the awful’ crime," he replied, in a solemn manner. "I’ll tell you how it was," he continued, "for I have learned the story often. A sodger used to travel this road frae Glasco’ to Ayr wi’ the siller to pay the troops stationed there. The last time he was seen alive was at King’s Well, where he exchanged civilities wi’ some folk about the door o’ the auld inn. Not reaching his destination, a strict search was made for him, but nae tidings o’ his whereabouts could be obtained. His horse, however, was found a short distance frae here, but the beast bore nae marks to lead to the supposition that the rider had met wi’ foul play. His disappearance was a mystery, and many conjectures were formed about it at the time. Some said that he cut aff wi’ the siller; while others affirmed that the siller had been the cause o’ his death. Murder, they say, winna hide, and this ane came to light in very extraordinary manner. Somebody had been crossin’ the moss at the place I showed you, an’ were horrified to see the hand o’ a man stickin’ up through the bog. Assistance being procured the body was dragged out, and from its appearance it was evident that a fearful struggle had at’en place before he yielded his life. Suspicion fell upon a cottar body, frae the circumstance that he had become suddenly weel-to-do. The authorities apprehended him, an’ at’en him to Ayr, where he was tried for the murder; but the evidence being defective, they couldna convict him, an’ he was acquitted. He returned to Finnick an’ took the farm of -----------. It stauns aff the Glasco road--ye nae doubt noticed it as ye entered the village. The descendants of the supposed murderer still occupy the place and are very decent folk." My friend proving excellent company, I kept the conversation in the right groove, and he rattled away at the story telling to his satisfaction and my amusement. "See yon house yonder," said he, pointing in the direction with his whip; "it’s maist a ruin, but was ance a farm-steading. A near-fisted body o’ a farmer leeved in’t; but, my certie, he was nicely at’en to the fair by a sodger." "How did that happen?" I enquired. "Weel, ye see, he hained his meal ae dear year an’ selt it at a famine price--for, as I heard my mother say, it was baith scarce and bad. But this is the way the thing happened. A poor woman came to him ae day to buy meal for her family, but when she was about to pay for it, she found herself’ a shillin’ short o’ the amount; an’ though she begged hard for credit, yet the farmer was deaf to her entreaties, an’ said that he maun either hae his meal or the shillin’. A sodger traveling to Kilmarnock happened to be at hand, and takin’ pity on the puir body, he asked the farmer how muckle she was short. ‘Just a shillin’,’ said. ‘Then, said the sodger, ‘here’s ane in the king’s name.’ The farmer took it and gied the woman the meal, wha, after thankin’ the sodger, gaed hame to her bairns. The sodger continued his journey, but returned the next day wi’ twa companions, and marched the farmer aff to Kilmarnock, where he had to pay the smart, having learned to his cost that caution’s needful’ when dealin’ wi’ recruitin’ sergeants."

With such tales as these my companion whiled away the time until we arrived at King’s Well, where he stopped to water his horse at a trough by the wayside. Here I took  leave of him, and crossed over to an old building, at one time a ntoed hostelry and a favourite halting place between Kilmarnock and Glasgow in the days of stage-coaches; but

"Tither no more the peasant shall repair
To sweet oblivion of his daily care,
No more the farmer’s news, the barber’s tale,
No more the woodman’s ballad shall prevail;
No more the smith his dusky brown shall clear,
Relax his ponderous strength and lean to hear;
The host himself no longer shall be found
Careful to see the mantling bliss go round;
Nor the coy maid, half wiling to be pressed,
Shall kiss the cup to pass it to the rest,"

for solemn silence pervades the spot, and the old inn is converted into a quiet farm-house. King’s Well Inn was a place of considerable note for many generations. Before carts were used in Ayrshire there were no regular roads, and goods were conveyed from one place to another on the backs of pack-horses. [In 1730 the youthful Earl of Loudoun, having occasion to travel from Loudoun Castle to Edinburgh, was placed in a pannier slung across the back of a horse, and, with an attendant mounted on another horse, accomplished the journey of sixty miles in about seven days. Until the genius of Macadam made roads passable in wet weather, it was not uncommon for carriages to sink axle-deep in mud. A good story is told of a man whom a traveller found digging in the highway between Fenwick and King’s Well. Upon being asked what he was ding, he replied--"I’m houking for my horse an’ cart."] About twenty yards to the south of the old inn the remains of a pack-horse track can be distinctly traced for miles across the moor. During the middle of the last century, and ages before it, it was the highway between Glasgow and the west country, and strings of pack-horses passed along it daily, their drivers stopping at the inn for refreshments. Behind the old place there is a little spring called the King’s Well, and a short distance from that an ugly-looking marsh called the King’s Stable. Local tradition explains the origin of both names, and as it is worth relating, I subjoin it. A fray having taken place during the reign of one of the James’s, the monarch determined to learn the facts and administer justice personally. For this purpose he started on a journey to Pathelly Hall, a baronial residence, some slight remains of which still exist in the neighbourhood of King’s Well. After a long ride over difficult ground his horse became jaded, and being tired and hungry he determined to alight at the first house he came to and satisfy the craving of his royal stomach. It proved to be a peasant’s cottage. Being more needful than nice, he threw the rein over the horse’s neck and entered. The goodwife received him graciously, and having learned his desire, set before him scones and milk, the best and readiest meal she had in the house. It was homely fare to place before a king, but royalty was not so fastidious in those days, and could rough it when necessary. After resting and eating heartily he gave his hostess a piece of gold, and was about to depart when she said--"Sir, I ken ye to be the king, an’ I ken what brings ye to this part o’ the country. Oh! hae mercy on my man." "Who may your man be?" he inquired. "He is ane o’ the unfortunate men now lying in the dungeon of Paathelly Ha’ awaiting your Majestie’s pleasure," was the reply. "Being determined to put down lawless raids in my dominion," said the king, "I am afraid I cannot interfere with the course of justice." "Oh, sir," cried the guidwife pleadingly, as she threw herself at his feet; "surely you’ll never hang a man after having eaten his bread an’ rested yourself’ in his arm chair." This appeal was too much for the monarch. He raised the suppliant to her feet, promised to bear the request in mind, and proceeded on his journey. When near the inn his horse stopped at a little spring, out of which it drank--hence the name King’s Well--but proceeded only a short distance afterwards when it became bogged, and sank in the ugly-looking marsh already referred to, his Majesty saving himself with considerable difficulty. Making the best of his way to the inn, he was met by the landlord, who enquired about his horse. "It is stabled," replied the monarch, jocularly, and so the swamp retains the name of the King’s Stable to this day. From the inn the King walked to Pathelly Hall. The same evening he had the prisoners brought before him, and commenced an examination which resulted in his finding eighteen of them guilty. These he ordered to be hanged on a thorn tree, which is still pointed out and looked to from the circumstance with a kind of superstitious dread. The husband of his hostess, whom he had singled out, was admonished and dismissed with a caution that if ever he was found in a like fault all the old wives in Christendom would not save him from the wuddie.

Observing an elderly dame at the doorway of a cottage dividing her attention between me and the culinary operation of a scraping a porridge-pot, I asked my way to Lochgoin, and was kindly conducted by her to a beaten track running zig-zag through the moss. Pointing across the moor to some solitary trees about a mile and a half distant, she told me they grew in the garden of the spot I was in search of, and whatever I did I was to keep them in sight, "for," said she, "gin ye loss the foot-road--as maist likely ye will--ye may wander for hours I’ the contra direction." Tendering thanks, I bade her goodbye and entered the heathy wilderness, deeply impressed with the bleak desolation, yet wild grandeur of the scene. The heather waved in brown luxuriance, and its bonnie bell was a sweet recompense for the absence of the wild flowers which Nature strews so profusely over the fields and by the dusty waysides. Onward and onward I held along the mossy, heather-fringed path, listening to the varied sounds which occasionally broke the profound silence that prevailed. Now the hum of the foggie or moss bee would make the air musical; then the cry of the peesweep and the whirr and cock-cock of the moorfowl would be heard as they winged their aerial flight across the barren waste.

While thus revelling amid the beauties of Nature, and musing of the brave men who lurked in these wilds, I forgot the instructions of the good lady at King’s Well, nor did I think upon them until my progress was stopped by a

broad, deep ditch--a kind of receptacle or main artery of numerous open drains which intersect the moor, for by this means large tracks are rendered comparatively dry and excellent stock reared upon them. The little path I sought, but it could not be found; it was lost and so was I, for heather-clad hills rose on each side of me, and Lochgoin standing in its solitude, which I beheld a few minutes before, was nowhere to be seen. Climbing the nearest height, I again got a glimpse of it, but despairing of ever finding the track at once struck for the solitary dwelling in as straight a line as the marshy nature of the soil would permit of. Travelling now proved both difficult and dangerous. Owing to recent rains, pools of black moss water often proved an insurmountable impediment, and I had to circumvent them by the best means possible. Sometimes in leaping I would miss my mark and go plump over the ankles in water; at other times, when seeking aid from my stick, the weight of my body would sink it to the handle in the bog--a circumstances that oftener than once brought me to grief. Persisten perseverance, however, brought this kind of travelling to an end and I to the spot which I had long been desirious of seeing.

The present house of Lochgoin is a one-storyed, slate-roofed, plain building, internally commodious and well suited for a moorland farm-steading. It is erected on the site of an old, and from its associations a very interesting, building.

On the lintel of the door several dates are inscribed, which refer to changes which the family or their dwelling have undergone. The first of these, 1178, is said to be the year in which the first of the Howies of Lochgoin took up their abode in the fastness of the moss. The family tradition has it that they were two brother who fled from one of the Waldensian valleys to escape persecution. Behind the house there is a small kailyard which John Howie called his "garden of herb." It served as his study, for in a corner of it, beneath the shelter of a turf dyke, he is said to have written a considerable part of his "Scots Worthies." To the south of the house, on edge of the moor, there is a cairn which marks the graves of two children who died of the plague in 1665. A party who came from Glasgow, where it was then raging, divided an apple between them, which they had no sooner eaten than symptoms of the disease manifested itself upon them. The inmates of Lochgoin were so terrified that they put the children in an outhouse and fled. One more courageous than the rest returned and handed food to them through a window on the end of a stick, but although death in a brief space ended their sufferings, no one in the locality could be found to give them burial, and an individual had to be brought from Glasgow to perform the rite.

Lochgoin stands nine hundred and fourteen feet above the level of the sea, and commands a magnificent view of the surrounding country. This circumstances rendered it a safe resort to the hunted, outlawed supporter of the Covenant in the days of persecution. About one hundred yards from  the house there is an artificial eminence which was used during that critical period to watch for the approach of the soldiery or other unwelcome visitors, and on several occasions warning was given by the sentinel stationed upon it to refugees in time to allow them to escape to the fastness of the moss, where it was impossible for man or horse to follow. Being delighted with the wild beauty of the landscape around the lone habitation, I ascended the mound and rapturously gazed on the vast expanse of country. Away to the west is "Auld Kilmarnock" and the romantic district surrounding it --a district that will be ever dear to my heart, and whose scenes and associations shall never be eradicated from my mind so long as reason holds its sway or memory its power. Beyond is a wide expanse of sea, backed by the lofty heights of Arran, and a little to the west of them is Ailsa Craig, a well-known rugged rock which towers from the deep. To the west the sterile moor, studded here and there with farm-steadings, stretches away in barren bleakness. Beyond it the fertile and richly-wooded district of Loudoun, and the conic form of Loudoun Hill, near which was fought the memorable Battle of Drumclog. To the north in the far distance the  eye rest delighted upon the Highland hills, the most prominent of which are Ben Lomond, Ben Voirlich, Ben Ledi, and Ben Cruachan. But my description is inadequate--the scene must be seen to be felt.

From the mound I directed my steps to the door of the house, and timorously knocked. It was opened by the wife of the present occupant, who seemingly guessed the purport of my visit, for she invited me into the kitchen and requested me to be seated. Telling her that I had made a pilgrimage from Kilmarnock to view the interesting Covenanting relics, she smilingly expressed the please it gave her to comply with my wish. "We are aye glad to see strangers," said she; "mony folk, baith gentle and simple, come here. ‘Deed," she continued, "I thik the feck o’ the religious world hae visited Lochgoin to see the bit o’ things preserved in the family--they come frae America an’ a’ airts. But gae aw’ ben," said she, addressing a boy, "an’ bring the drum but the house." In a short time I had the relics laid before me, and during a running conversation with my hostess and other members of the family examined them at my leisure. They consisted of the Bible and sword of Captain Paton, a drum and drum-stick which are said to have been at Drumclog, and a flag which waved over the same field; also a number of silver coins.

Captain Paton’s Bible is a small 24mo, dated 1653, and contains the hero’s autograph on the blank side of the title-page. It is encased in a small box with a glass front, this precaution being necessary to prevent visitors pilfering the leaves, several of them being carried away. Curious enough the book ends with Rev. xxi, 11, "And they over-came him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto death." On the outside of the cover is the following inscription:--


The sword is a light, basket-handled, short shabble, twenty-seven and a half inches long. It is said to contain twenty-eight gaps or notches, which represent the years of the persecution, but I saw no trace of them. It is very rusty and much worn, and altogether in bad condition, and nothing to compare to the formidable weapon in the possession of Thomas Rowatt, Esq. of Bonnanhill, Strathaven.

The drum has much the appearance of an extra deep American cheese-box. The sheepkin still adheres to one end of it. The frame and fastenings are the rudest description,  and bear ample traces of home manufacture; in fact, it is just such an instrument as a rude peasant with limited tools and material might be expected to produce. The drum-stick (there is but one) is neat and possessed of a modern-like appearance.

The flag is six feet in length by five in breadth. It is supposed to have waved at the Battle of Drumclog, but little is known regarding it save that it has been in the family from a very remote period. Repeated washings have sadly defaced it, but nevertheless it has an antiquated and time-worn appearance. It bears the following device and in scription:--On the left a rude picture of an open Bible, and on the the right the form of a crown and thistle. Beneath is "Phinick for God, Country, and Covenanted Work of Reformation."

The silver coins are twenty-two in number; they are heavy and not unlike our five-shilling pieces. The earliest bears the date of 1597, and is inscribed, "Deus fortitudo et spes nostra," I.e., "God is our strength and hope." They are contained in a small box, and form the greatest curiosity of the antiquities. Like everything else they have a history, and it is simply this:--When James Howie, who suffered so much during the persecution, was fleeing from the approaching soldiery he hid his purse in the ground, about fifty yards from the house, expecting to find it when his enemies departed. He never discovered it again, but a man who was serving about the place was accused of purloining it, and although he stoutly denied the charge, yet the accusation stuck to him till the day of his death. Some fifty years ago, when a son of the author of the "Scots Worthies" was driving some cows to pasture, the hoof of one slipped and disclosed something bright. This led to a search, and others were discovered along the remains of a purse, which cleared the mystery and the memory of the guiltless servant. Besides the relics there is one not less interesting to the antiquarian, viz., the library, which contains some curious and rare volumes and pamphlets. Several are from the pen of the somewhat eccentric author whose writings have made the remote farm-steading famous.

There is not a vestige left of the old house of Lochgoin. From age it became so ruinous that it had to be taken down, but its form and appearance will long be familiar, numerous sketches and photographs of it being preserved. It was under its thatch-covered roof that the celebrated John Howie, author of the "Scots Worthies" and other works of less note, was born. The event occurred on the 14th November, 1735. His great work was written during the intervals of labour and in hours snatched from sleep. The first edition appeared in 1774, and a second, greatly enlarged, in 1785. The "Scots Worthies" is a work that has long been popular with all classes of society, and, like the "Pilgrim’s Progress," it will be treasured by the religious world so long as Presbyteriansism continues to influence the minds of the Scottish people. John Howie, after an uneventful life distinguished for it humility and piety, died in the spring of 1793, and is interred, as already stated, in the churchyard of Fenwick. In an entry in his diary, written shortly before his death, he humbly reflects upon the vanities of life, and sums up his existence in few words. He says--"When I look back upon my short and despicable life I find it altogether made up of deficiencies, faults, and imperfections." We may all say amen to this, for the good we do is the least of our lives. At the period of persecution drainage was not practiced, and from its situation Lochgoin was almost inaccessible. Horsemen could only approach it from the east, and that at the risk of being bogged, while no foot passenger unless well acquainted with the locality could reach it from any other quarter without endangering his life, the bog being so soft in many places that a dog could not cross it. A situation like this was invaluable as a place of resort to Covemanters, and to it the utmost vigilance of the dragoos was naturally directed. Twelve times was the house plundered, and a soften did the inmates escape. The winter after the rising at Pentland, about twenty person, amongst whom was Captain Paton , met one night at Lochgoin for the purpose of fellowship and godly conversation. The old man of the house being unwell went to bed, fell asleep, and dreamed that he saw the troopers approaching. Wakening, he told the dream to the company, and advised them to disperse. They did so, but were only a short time away when the soldiers entered. Upon another occasion the Captain and several others were sheltering in the house, and were all but taken prisoners. At the time, a party of troopers were scouring the country for suspected persons. Going to Meadowhead they did not meet with anything of a suspicious nature, and next rod to Croilburn, a sequestered house in Fenwick Moor. Being disappointed there also the set off to Lochgoin-- five men, under the command of one Sergeant Rae, being sent forward. The night--a stormy one--favoured their approach upon the unsuspecting wanderers, who had been watching the most of the night. At break of day a man named Woodburn left the house to reconnoitre, but being more prayerful than watchful he did not observe Rae and his companions coming stealthily along. He had scarce cried out, "Dogs, I have you now.: Mrs Howie, supposing he was alone, cried to her friends to "run to the hills and not be killed in the house." Then running at the intruder she gave that pompous individual such a push that he went sprawling on the broad of his back in the mud before the door. While he was star-gazing in this humiliating and unsoldier-like position, the fugitives got out and ran into the moor. Regaining his feet, he fired his gun; but one, John Kirkland, stopped in his flight and returned the compliment, firing so surely that his bullet took off the knot of hair on the side of the wrathful functionary’s head. Captain Paton and his companions made for Eaglesham Moor at their utmost speed, pursued by the whole troop. Two of the Covenaters who were armed brought up the rear, and kept the troopers in check by now and again by firing upon them. Kirkland, kneeling, aimed so well that he shot a Highland sergeant through the thigh. This had the effect of stopping the pursuers and allowing the fugitives to gain ground. Arriving at the moor of Eaglesham, they caused the Captain, who was old and not able to keep up with his companions, to take a route by himself. This he did. Meeting with a horse in a field he took the liberty to mount it, and was enabled to get out of reach of the enemy by its aid. Meeting with a party of dragoons coming from Newmilns he saw that flight was useless; so, making the best of matters, he rode slowly past them, and got off undiscovered. The horse being set at liberty returned home and he concealed himself in one of his lurking places. The troopers, foiled of their prey, returned to Lochgoin and set about wrecking and plundering the house. Coming upon a Bible, it is said that "they burned it in the fire in a most audacious manner." They next drove off the cattle, and left behind a ruined habitation. These are accounts of many other raid on Lochgoin, but these will suffice to give the reader some little idea of what brave, unselfish men suffered in those troublesome times for liberty and truth.

After chatting pleasantly with the inmates of Lochgoin and listening to several local traditions of the Covenant, I made known my intention of departing, being desirous of reaching home before the red streaks of sunset tinged the western sky. The announcement was met by the kindly request of "rest you a wee," but that was impossible; go I must--therefore I siezed my hat and stick with the air of a man not to be turned from his purpose, and after a brief conversation by way of preface to departure, was accompanied to the door by my newly-found friends, all of whom urged me to return at an early date and "hae a crack," especially since a cart road was mad to the very door, and the danger attending the crossing of the moss had become unnecessary. Thanking them for their kindness I took my leave, struck through the moss in a southerly direction, and after a toilsome journey of a very long hour reached the farm of Duntan, which stands close to the bank of a mossy and not unpicturesque streamlet. On its eastern bank, close to the farm, there is an aperture in a rocky precipice called Duntan Cove, which afforded shelter to Covenanters during the troublous times of the persecution. I with difficulty entered it and found it to be a small natural cavern capable of accommodating half-a-dozen individuals, but containing no feature of interest. Often the wanders mad the Cove their lair, and found shelter within it from the pitiless storm and the rage of their persecutors. Tradition tells how two men who ran before a company of troopers for their very lives dashed through the stream, scaled the rock, and sought refuge in its bosom; and how the ruffians rode up and discharged their carabines into the aperture, believing that instead of an asylum the fugitives had found a grave, but it was otherwise. They crouched in the farthest recess and frustrated the diabolical purpose of their assailants. From the Cove I strayed along the bank of the stream, and after a passing a number of houses clustering round a wool mill, a walk of about two miles through a district in which the bleak moor was gradually blended into fields which spoke of culture and gave promise of a rich harvest, brought me to Midland, the farm on which three of Leiutenant Nisbet’s victims were shot. They lie in loving nearness in Fenwick church- yard, and of the incidents attending their murder the read has already been made acquainted. A little below Midland I crossed the "Kirk-town" bridge, passed up the lane already noticed, which runs in the vicinity of the little churchyard wherein "the martyrs soundly sleep." From High Fenwick a sharp walk brought me to Laigh Fenwick, where, feeling tired and exhausted, I entered the house of Agnes Scott, who retails provisions and a good dram, to rest and partake of refreshment, for walking had become a toil, and the road between me and my home a matter of serious consideration. However, it is wonderful what a "wee drap o’ the barely bree" can do when judiciously administered, for I got over the road wonderfully, and arrived in Kilmarnock as the shades of night were closing over the old town, after a pleasant journey to scenes rendered famous by the Covenanters.

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