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XIII. ALEXANDER ROBERTSON.
[It has been supposed that there were two individuals of this name
connected with the Pentland insurrection. And certainly there is some difficulty, without this supposition, to reconcile the statements which have been made with respect to a person or persons so designated. The following particulars seem undoubtedly to refer to the author of the following testimony. He was a preacher of the gospel, and the son of a minister. He had joined the insurgents so early as their arrival in Dumfries, where it appears he was present at the seizing of Sir James Turner. From thence he accompanied them to Ayr, and then to Lanark, where he took the covenant with the rest of the party. He then proceeded with them to Collington and Pentland, where he was seen fighting with a sword and pistols. He was basely betrayed by the laird of Morton, his friend, to whom he surrendered upon promise of his life. He was one of five who, on the 10th of December following, were put upon trial, and condemned to be hanged. One of the five obtained a respite ; Mr. Robertson and the other four were executeri on Friday, the 14th of
that month.) “ Fearing that after the example of others, I should not be permitted
assed by the quartering of soldiers, their dwelling was wantonly pillaged and destroyed; and a similar treatment befell their tenantry.
No wonder then that the two young men in question should have been tempted to join the insurgent forces. Who in such a case would not have rebelled against government which, with a view to enforce conformity to a form of religion which they hated, recklessly surrendered its unoffending subjects to the insults and aggressions of a domineering soldiery? They are described “ as youths of shining piety and good learning.” Of them it might be literally remarked, that “ they were beautiful in their lives, and that in death they were not divided.” Being in the act of embracing when the drop fell, they died locked in each other's arms.- We have collected the following with respect to the others :
John Ross belonged to Mauchline; he joined the insurgents in that neighbour. hood, and was sent along with John Shields and others to discover the motions of the king's troops, and particularly whether they had yet come to Kilmarnock.
James Hamilton was a tenant in Killimuir. He took the covenant at Lanark, and belonged to M.Lellan of Barscobe's troop of covenanters, Jobn Parker was a “walker" (waulker, perhaps) in the parish of Kilbride. He also joined the insurgents in the west, and proceeded with them to Pentland.
Christopher Strang also was of Kilbride parish. He was at Lanark and took the covenant, and afterwards fought at Pentland under the command of Captain Paton.
Gavin Hamilton was from Mauldside, in the parish of Carluke. He joined in the west, and with James Hamilton (perhaps his brother) was in Barscobe's troop.
It may not be uvinteresting to add, that the sentence with regard to the whole ten was, that, after being hanged, their heads and right arms should be cut off, and disposed of as follows: the heads of M‘Culloch and the two Gordons to be affixed at Kirkcudbright; those of Parker, the two Hamiltons, and Straug, at Hamilton ; those of Ross and Shields, at Kilmarnock; and Captain Arnot's at the Watergate of Edinburgh. And the right arms of all of them to be sent to Lapark, to be put up in the public parts of the town, “ being the place where they took the covenant."
to speak openly to the people, I thought fit (beside my adherence to what my brethren, who have gone before me, left behind them concerning our common cause) to leave a word in writ for satisfaction of them who survive me.
“ That, for preservation and defence of the true religion of this church, and for the relief of my poor brethren afflicted and persecuted therefore, I joined with others in arms, and that I renewed the covenant, that all men might the better know my cause and principles, I am so far from denying or being ashamed of, that I both acknowledge and avow it as my duty ; but let no man, that will not condemn himself upon the same common obligations to do what I did, account me a rebel therefore, because with the same breath that I did swear, and with that same band that I did subscribe to preserve and defend religion, I did also swear to defend the king and his authority.
“ Our church was not more glorious in herself, and terrible to her adversaries, while we enjoyed pure ordinances of word and sacraments, and her beautiful assemblies for government and discipline, of the Lord's own institution, than she became of late deformed by the usurpation and tyranny of prelacy; and I solemnly declare as a dying man, who dare not dissemble, that as I thought and still aver, that the erecting of this abjured prelacy is the cause of much of the sin in the land, and of all the sufferings of the Lord's people therein ; so I had no worse design, than the restoring of the work of reformation according to the covenant, and more particularly the extirpation of prelacy, to which his majesty, and all the subjects are as much obliged as I. And let that be removed and the work of reformation restored, and I dare die in saying, that his majesty sball not have in all his dominions more loving, loyal, peaceable, and faithful subjects, than these who for their non-compliance are loaded with the reproaches of fanaticism and rebellion.
“ The sufferings and insupportable oppression of these, that could
It is impossible in the short compass of a note to give any thing like an adequate idea of the severities which excited the rising in Galloway. First of all, at three several inroads made into that county by an arined force, under the command of Sir James Turner, the most exorbitant fines were levied. Then by billeting soldiers on particular families, sometimes for 12 or 15 weeks at a time, their substance was wasted and consumed, to an amount perbaps still greater. But the exactions in money, and the destruction of property, 'was not all. The conduct and carriage of the soldiers who were thus quartered was such as to deprive the inhabitants of peace and comfort—to expose them to every species of inconvenience and insult, and sometimes by direct violence to injure their persons or endanger their lives. In support of these statements, many instances on record might be quoted, altogether tending to evince that the sufferings referred to were insuportable. And when we reflect that such sufferings were inflicted on account of nonconformity, and in order to compel men to de. sert the ministrations of pastors whom they venerated and loved, and attend upon those of persons whom they bated and despised. we are apt involuntarily to exulaim, Is it credible that such things took place in Scotland ? How much more astonishing then, that iu Scotland there should be found those who are forward to palliate, to excuse, cr even to defend the exercise of such enormities, and to condemn and calumniate the unbappy men whose lot it was to bear them.
not, because of the command and oath of God, acknowledge and consply with prelacy, may seem light to some, in whom the spirit of the old enmity, that is betwixt the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent remaineth, and to others (perhans their friends) who look thereupon at a distance ; but as there is just reason to think, that il these rigid oppressions had been made known to his majesty, his justice and clemency would have provided a remedy, and as the halt thereof would have made the prelates, their patrons and a berents im. patiently mad, for as loyal as they pretend to be; so in the like cases of irresistible necessity, when there is little open door for representing of grievances and desires, and less hope of relief thereby, I suppose it will not be found condemned by the confessions of reformed churches, or doctrine of sound divines, but that it is authorized by the light and law of nature, by uncovdemned examples in the holy scripture, and by the practice of all Christian states,—by arms to preserve and defend men's lives, their religion, liberties, and fortunes ; and especially, where they are not seeking to acquire a new religion or new liberties, but only to preserve their old, or recover them, when they are violently and unjustly spoiled of the same, as in our case ; otherwise we should sin against the generation of the just, and condemn as rebellious the most of the thorough reformations of the reformed churches abroad, and of our own at home.
“ If this course was lawful, and if it was our duty to join therein, as I believe and lay down my life in the persuasion that it was; and if all the kingdom was (as they are) bound by covenant to assist and defend one another in the common cause of religion and liberty, whatever may be said of these that came not forth to help the Lord against the mighty,—it cannot but be their dreadful sin, who joined themselves in arms, or took oaths to oppose, suppress, and break it, seeing they have sided themselves against the Lord and his work, and their carriage is a much higher degree of accession to the blood that was shed, than Paul's keeping of the clothes of them that stoned Stephen to death ; and I wish that they may lay the matter to heart, and repent of it, that God may forgive them, as I forgive all men, and particularly Morton, who did apprehend me.
“ I know that there is a holy seed in the land, who shall be the substance thereof, and I pray that the Lord may make them more zealous and valiant for the truth upon earth ; I know also, that there are many whose bowels of compassion have been drawn forth toward these who took their lives in their hands, by prayers to God for them, and charity to them, and especially in Edinburgh toward the poor prisoners (of whom I may not only say, that what they have done, deserveth to be told for a memorial wherever the gospel is preached, but am assuredly confident, that besides the blessings of the poor and persecuted, the Lord is not unrighteous to forget their work and labour of love, which they have showed towards his name, and that they have ministered to the saints and do minister) and yet I must needs regret, that so many in this city once famous and hon. oured for harmonious owning of the cause and covenant of God, and blessed above many other cities with solemo assemblies for worship and government, should have been ensnared into an oath so contradictory to the oath of the covenant ; and which was devised, contrived, and imposed in lieu of the declaration against the same, and for a grave-stone to suppress the revival of the work of God within this land,
“ The apostasy of this land is very great by perjury and breach of covenant, and so much the worse and more aggravated, that it is authorized, and very universal. And as I cannot but regret that so many are insnared therein, so I must needs warn all to abhor and beware of all declarations and oaths contradictory to the covenant, and renunciatory thereof, as they would not involve themselves in the guilt and plagues denounced against, and ordinarily inflicted upon perjury and breach of covenant; and so much the rather, because this is like to be the Shibboleth and trial of the times.
“ As for myself, I have seen and do find so much worth in truth, which is to be bought at any rate, but sold at none; and so much transcendent excellency and amiableness in Christ, that not only with cheerfulness and confidence I lay down my life for him and his truth, committing my soul to him, to be kept in hope of a joyful resurrection of the body; but also bless him that gave me a life to lose, and a body to lay down for him; and although the market and price of truth may appear to many very high, yet I reckon it low, and all that I have or can do little, too little, for him who gave himself for me,' and to me : for I account all things but loss and dung for the excellency of the knowledge of Jesus Christ my Lord, for whom I now suffer the loss of all things, that I may win bim, and be found in bim, and that I may not only know the fellowship of his sufferings, but the power of his resurrection, and attain unto the resurrection of the dead.'
“ And as for you, my dear friends, as I pray for you, that the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after ye have suffered a while,' may make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, and settle you ;' so I recommend to you the same truth, that ' ye be not soon shaken in mind, but that ye hold fast the profession of
your faith without wavering :' and ' as you have received the Lord, so walk in him ; warning and obtesting you, by all manner of obligations, and by the hope and joy of that crown which I wait for, that ye keep yourselves unspotted with the abominable courses and practices of these times, whereunto ye may be tempted by the extremity of suffering, and particularly, that ye beware of unlawful oaths and declarations against the cause and covenant of God, that ye bave no compliance with, nor give consent unto this prelacy, which ye have abjured ; and that you be afraid and aware of popery, which by connivance doth so visibly abound and daily increase ; but by fighting in the good fight, and keeping of the faith, you may finish your course, as I do, in the assurance of the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, bath laid up, and shall give unto me, and not to me only, but to all them that love his appearance.
Nal'htali, pp. 317-322.
XIV. JOHN NEILSON.
(Mr. Neilson was laird of Corsack, in Galloway—a man of excellent
parts and sincere piety. Being conscientiously attached to the presbyterian worship, and not attending the episcopal curate, an information was laid against him to Sir James Turner, and he was exposed forthwith to the most severe oppressions on account of his nonconformity. Under the influence of these, he joined the rising which shortly after took place in his neighbourhood. Far, however, from wishing to avenge himself on the instrument of his sufferings, he, at Dumfries, interposed in behalf of Turner, and saved bis life. He then accompanied the insurgents in their progress to the Pentlands, where he was taken prisoner, and conducted to Edinburgh. The sufferings to which he was shortly after exposed, afford matter for one of the blackest pages in the history of persecution. With the youthful martyr, Mr. Hugh M Kail, he was, or the 4th December, put to the torture, “ and so fearfully tormented, that his shrieks would have melted any body but those present, who still called for the other touch.” He was, with Mr. Robertson and others, tried on the 10th, and suffered the sentence which was passed upon him on the 14th of that month. Here follows the tes
timony which he left behind him.] “ Being made a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men, I found it necessary for vindication of the truth, and of myself, for undeceiving of some, and encouraging of others, to leave this line behind me, which, with my innocent blood, may speak when I am gone.
“ I am condemned, I shall not say how unjustly, as a rebel against man, but the Lord God of gods he knoweth, and all Israel sball know, that it is not for rebellion against God, but for endeavouring to recover the blessed work of reformation, and particularly for endeavouring to extirpate prelacy, which hath been the cause of so much sin and suffering within this land, and for renewing of the covenant, from the obligation whereof (seeing I made my vow and promise to the Lord) neither I myself, nor any human authority can absolve me And if any account this rebellion, 1 do plainly confess, that after the way which they call heresy, I worship the God of my fathers.'
“ Although the insupportable oppression under which I and many others did groan,* were enough to justify our preserving and defend
• In order to give this statement of Neilson's its due weight on the reader's mind, it may be proper to set down a few particulars with regard to the suf ferings which he had been called to endure, as these are recorded by Wodrow : • Mr. Dalgleish,” says he, "curate of Parton (the parish in which Neilson resided), had no small hand in this gentleman's hardships. When Sir James Turner came first into Galloway, Corsack was soon delated for nonconformity, and Sir James exacted £100 Scots from him; and, contrary to promise, he was sent prisoner to Kirkcudbright. He suffered very much by quarterings of soldiers upon him: from the beginning of March to the end of May that year, be had troopers lying on bim, sometimes ten, sometimes six, sometimes four at once, and was forced to pay each man half-a-crown a day, which came to £819