Covenanters’ Flags, pp.107-109.

[Scottish National Memorials Contents]

OF REFORMATIONS,’ surmounted by an open Bible marked: ‘The Word of God,’ and a crown and
 thistle. With the late James Drummond it may be confessed that this flag ‘has a very doubtful
 appearance, being in every respect quite perfect, and suspiciously modern-looking.’1 Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that it is a genuine relic of Covenanting times. Fenwick is spelt in 
an old form. Its good condition is accounted for by the strong white linen of which it is made;
 and its new-like look, by the annual washing to which it was long subjected.2 Above all, Loch
goin cannot be suspected as a manufactory of, or museum for, spurious relics. The real were too
 abundant, and the inmates were too honest, for that. The Bible, crown, and thistle have been
 painted in black, whereas the motto is in red. The blank in the motto has perhaps been left
 for ‘King,’ or more probably that word has been erased. It was not until the first anniversary of the defeat at Bothwell that the Cameronians openly renounced their allegiance to the King in the Sanquhar Declaration; but some of them would have been quite willing to take that step before they met Monmouth. 

(378) Lent by JOHN HOWIE. 

   AVONDALE FLAG, of pale yellow silk, now very frail and tender, but very carefully mended. It bears an open Bible and the motto: ‘AVENDAILL FOR REFORMATION IN CHVRCH AND STATE ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD AND OUR COUENANTS’ There seems originally to have been a dot after each word. This flag is said to have been earned by Matthew Craig of Plewlands at Drumclog. 

(379) Lent by MISS BROWN. 

   Another AVONDALE FLAG, of pale yellow silk, also very frail and carefully mended. Four triangular pieces of blue silk have been sewed in the upper left-hand comer to form a St. Andrew’s cross. The motto is: ‘AVENDAIL FOR RELIGION COVENANT KING.’ A piece of new silk has been sewed along the top, and on it there is – 




   CUMNOCK FLAG, of pale yellow silk, very frail and tattered. All that remains of the inscription is ‘CUMNOCK’ and part of ‘R[ELIG]IO[N].’ This flag is also said to have been carried at Drumclog. John McGeachin, an ancestor of the present owner of the flag, was killed near Old Cumnock, at the rescue of the Rev. David Houstoun, whom the soldiers were conveying to Edinburgh, in June 1688.3 

(382) Lent by D. McGEACHIN. 

   LESMAHAGOW FLAG, of blue silk, with St Andrew’s cross in upper left-hand comer. The motto – ‘FOR LESMAHAGOW’ – is in dull red. This flag is said to have been carried both at Drumclog and Bothwell, but is supposed to be of a much earlier date than either of these events. It was also carried in processions at the passing of the Reform Bill. The Whytes of Neuk, Lesmahagow, have preserved it. 

(383) Lent by MRS. NAPIER. 

   It will be noticed that the owners of four of these flags believe that they were carried at Drumclog; but this may well be doubted, as the primary purpose for which the people were that day gathered was to listen to the preaching of the Gospel; and although they were necessitated to carry arms lest they should be attacked, it can hardly be imagined that they would take banners with them, even after a few of them had resolved to rescue the prisoners. And Wodrow states expressly that ‘there was never a pair of colours at a field-conventicle in Scotland.’4 The number of the flags said to have been carried at Drumclog compared with the number of armed men is enough to raise suspicion. That all these and a great many more flags were carried at Bothwell may be readily believed; but as that was a disastrous day, sympathetic tradition would rather connect them with the previous, successful engagement. It is somewhat remarkable that none of these flags bears the motto, which Parliament ordered, on the 5th of July 1650, ‘to be upoun the haili culloris and standaris,’ namely, ‘For Covenant Religion King and Kingdom.’5 The suggestion has been made that all the five ‘date rather immediately after the Revolution than before it’; another, which certainly belongs to 1689, will be noticed at a later stage. 


   MARCHING ORDERS (see Fig. 81), signed by General Dalyell of Binns, instructing Colonel Douglas to take a hundred and fifty of the regiment of Guards, and to march with them next day towards Mauchline, where fifty of Lord Mar’s regiment were to join him; and from there to march ‘to Galloway or Nithsdaill for supressing of those rebells that disturbs the peice of those contries, and as you shall fynd ocatione to take from any of these garisones what dragouness and foot you shall fynd fiting for advancing of that service, and to continue them with you during your pleasure.’ Down the left-hand margin there is added:- ‘And the remnant of Sir James Turners troop at Glasgou.‘ There is neither date nor place of signature, but simply ‘Dalyell.’ James Douglas, brother of the first Duke of Queensberry, was appointed ‘Collonell to the regiment of the King’s foot guards’ in July 1684; and in March 1685 was despatched to suppress the Covenanters in the western shires, ‘tho’ the ministers of Galloway said, Claveris’s name was mor formidable ther.’6 According to Kirkton, ‘Sir James Turner and Sir William Bannatyne hade by their cruelties driven the poor people of Galloway into despair, but,’ he adds, ‘they were saints compared to Tom Dalyell and his souldiers.’7 In the oft-quoted curious description of Dalyell’s personal appearance by Captain Creichton, it is stated that ‘he never wore boots;’8 but honest John Howie, in his account of Captain Paton, refers to the pistol-ball hopping ‘down upon Dalziel’s boots,’ and in Lingo House his boots as well as his sword are still preserved. If the story of the white flag recorded by Dr. Simpson may be relied on, he, in spite of his harshness and cruelty, faithfully kept his promise to a Covenanter by whom his life was spared;9 and, as will yet be seen, he was humane enough to be sorry for an old comrade in peril, though now on a different side. He died in August 1685. 

(436) Lent by J. B. DALZELL. 

1  Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, iii. 258. 

2  Thomson’s Martyr Graves of Scotland, first series, p. 151. 

3  Wodrow’s History, iv. 442; Faithful Contendings Displayed, p. 337; Thomson’s Martyr Graves, second series, pp. 287-290.  

4  History of the Sufferings, iii. 110. 

5   Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. vi. part ii. p. 605. 

6  Fountainhall’s Historical Notices, Ban. Club, ii. 542, 623. 

7  Kirkton’s Secret and True History, pp. 257, 258. 

8  Ibid. p. 226, n., where some additional information concerning him will be found. 

9  Traditions of the Covenanters, chap, xxxvii.

Leave a Reply