Consequences of the restoration of episcopacy – Ejection of nonconforming ministers.
– Battle of Pentland. – Highland host at Glasgow. – Battles of Drumclog, Glasgow, and Bothwelbridge.
– Persecutions. – Death of Charles II. – State of affairs under James II.
– Revolution. – Re-establishment of presbytery.
WHEN the new bishops were consecrated, and inducted to their different sees, the attendance of all parsons, vicars, and ministers, was required to give concurrence, in their stations, for the exercise of ministerial duties, under the pain of his majesty’s displeasure. This requisition was but ill attended to, save in the north. In order to carry it more effectually into execution, and to bestow greater honour on the prelates in the western, and southern shires, who were generally disliked, Middleton, with a quorum of the new instituted council, made a circuitous visit to such of the western towns, as had shown the greatest opposition to the restoration of episcopacy. They came to Glasgow, September 26th, and were waited upon by the magistrates, and every person of note in the neighbourhood.
The new archbishop, Fairfoul, made a heavy complaint to Middleton, that not one of the young ministers, entered since 1649, had acknowledged his authority as bishop; and, therefore, he moved the council, to agree upon an act and proclamation, peremptorily banishing all such ministers from their houses, parishes, and presbyteries, respectively, who would not, betwixt and the 1st of November thereafter, appear, and receive collation and admission from the bishop; assuring the commissioner, there would not be ten in his diocess, who would stand out, and lose their stipend in this cause.
Every desire of the prelates was now next to a law. A meeting of council was therefore convened in the college fore-hall. It was termed, at the time, the drunken meeting at Glasgow; and it was affirmed, that all present were flustered with liquor, except Sir James Lockhart of Lee, one of the senators of the college of justice. The commissioner laid before the council the archbishop’s desire, and the necessity of supporting the bishops. There was no debate upon it, save by lord Lee. He reasoned sometime against it, assuring them, that such an act would not only desolate the country, but cast it into disorder, and increase the dislike of the bishops. He also asserted, that the ministers would go farther than the loss of their stipends, before they would acknowledge and submit. But reasoning had no weight with his hearers, and the act was framed in terms of the archbishop’s demand, “though some say it was with difficulty, whether for want of a fresh man to dictate or write, I know not.”1
The commissioner and council were likewise regaled, and royally treated at Hamilton, Paisley, Dunbarton, Rosedoe, Mugdock, and several other places, in the course of their circuit. They also went through Renfrew, Cunningham, Kyle, and Carrick, and remained sometime at Ayr. Many remarks were made upon the prodigality, profaneness, and terrible revelling, displayed in this progress. Those who entertained the commissioner best, had, besides their dining-room, drinking-room, and vomiting-room, sleeping-rooms for the company who had lost their senses. In one of their debauches at Ayr, the devil’s health was drunk at the cross about midnight. The whole was a work of darkness, disgraceful to the morals of the time, and was considered as a proof, that profaneness and prelacy, in Scotland, went hand in hand. From Ayr, the commissioner went to Wigtoun and Dumfries; and, upon the last day of October, returned to Holyrood-house.
Accounts came to Edinburgh, from the west and south, of the distracted situation of that part of the country, occasioned by the silencing of their ministers. Middleton, who had been deceived by the archbishop of Glasgow, raged and stormed exceedingly. He knew that many of the ministers had little to maintain themselves and their numerous families, and exclaimed, with many oaths, What will these mad fellows do?
During the month of November, the council were taken up in endeavouring to retrieve the hasty act at Glasgow. Letters were written to the archbishops, desiring their attendance upon the council, in order to give advice with regard to the redress of those disorders which it had occasioned. They could not, however, concert a general act until December 23d, being the last meeting of council at which Middleton was present. By that act, the time allowed ministers to obtain presentation and collation was extended to the 1st of February; but, if they neglected to comply betwixt and that time, they were ordained to remove out of their parishes, presbyteries, and diocesses. These proceedings overwhelmed the country with grief and indignation; and many died of broken hearts, in consequence of the lively sorrow with which they had been impressed. Among these were the right honourable the earl of Loudoun, and the reverend and learned principal Baillie, to whom we have been greatly obliged for materials during the course of this work. The former died in the beginning of the year 1662, the latter in July thereafter.
We cannot take our leave of this great character, to whom we are so very highly indebted, without presenting to our readers the following account of him, as given by Mr. Wodrow, in his church history: “Mr. Robert Baillie may most justly be reckoned among the great men of this time, and was an honour to his country, for his profound and universal learning, his exact and solid judgment, that vast variety of languages he understood, to the number of twelve or thirteen, and his writing a Latin style, which might become the Augustan age. But I need not enlarge on his character; his works do praise him in the gates. He had been employed in much of the public business of this church since the year 1637, and was a worthy member of the venerable assembly at Westminster, and at London, almost all the time of it; and hath left behind him very large accounts of matters both of church and state’ He was of a most peaceable and healing temper; and always a vigorous asserter of the king’s interest; And although, at the first, he wanted not his own difficulties, from his education, and tenderness of the king’s authority; yet, after reasoning, reading, and prayer, as he himself expresseth it, he came heartily into the measures of the covenanters. I have it from an unquestionable hand, one of his scholars, who afterward was his successor, and waited on him a few weeks before his death, this year, (1662) that he died under a rooted aversion to prelacy in this church. My author desired Mr. Baillie’s judgment of the courses this church was so fast running into. His words to him were, “Prelacy is now coming in like a land-flood: for my share, I have considered that controversy as far as I was able, and after all my inquiry, I find it, and am persuaded, it is inconsistent with scripture, contrary to pure and primitive antiquity, and diametrically opposite to the true interest of these lands.”
Meantime, the council proceeded, with their usual rigour, against several ministers. Mr. John Carstairs, minister at Glasgow, and some others, were cited before the council, accused of disloyalty, and of using improper expressions in their sermons. Procedure against them being delayed till the meeting of parliament in May, they were then ordered to be banished out of the king’s dominions, to bear company with several of their brethren who had been sent off the preceding year. Mr. John Carstairs, by close confinement, and severe treatment, fell dangerously ill. He was allowed to go to Dalkeith, for the benefit of his health; and accordingly he escaped the sentence. The punishment of the others was changed into deposition, and banishment from their presbyteries.
In the course of these proceedings, upwards of four hundred ministers were ejected from their parishes, and took leave of their flocks in one day. “It was a day not only of weeping, but howling, like the weeping of Fazer, as when a besieged city is sacked.”2 Among these, we find the following persons, viz. Principal Gillespie, Messrs. Robert McWard, John Carstairs, and Ralph Rodgers, of Glasgow; and Mr. Donald Cargil, of the Barony parish, beside nine others, all in the presbytery of Glasgow. The only clergymen, in that presbytery, who conformed, were Messrs. Hugh Biair, and John Young, of Glasgow, and Mr. Gabriel Cunningham, of Kilsyth.
The ejected clergymen, were of pious and worthy character, a great many of them learned and able ministers of the gospel, and all of them singularly dear to their people. Many of them were but young men, who had but a small share in the work of reformation now so much reprobated, and most of them had suffered under the usurpation, for their loyalty to the king.
Notwithstanding these favourable circumstances, their adherence to the covenants, and their aversion to episcopacy, were considered as crimes sufficiently meriting all the severity which was exerised [sic] against them. They were deprived, not only of their livings in time to come, but of the last year’s stipend, for which they had served; and compelled, in the midst of winter, with sorrowful hearts, and empty pockets, to wander many miles, they scarce knew whither, with their numerous and small families. They were deprived, without the smallest shadow of legal procedure, and without being heard upon the reasons of their non-conformity. These severities were the foundation of many of the distractions, and troubles, which occurred until the period of the happy revolution.
By an act of parliament, passed in the year 1662, considerable fines were imposed upon a great part of the nobility, gentry, merchants, and monied people of Scotland, to whom the benefit of an act of indemnity was denied. The reason alledged for imposing these fines, was, that they might be given for the relief of the king’s good subjects, who had suffered in the late troubles. Nine hundred persons, in all, were fined in sums to the amount of 1,017,353l. 6s. 8d. Scots. Of these, four hundred and thirty-nine persons were connected with the see of Glasgow, and were fined in the sums mentioned in the following state.
|In the shire of Lanerk,||108 persons,||L. 73,080|
In the year 1663, lord Warriston, being apprehended in France, was carried to London, and from thence transmitted to Edinburgh, where he was brought before the parliament on the 8th of July, and received sentence of death, which was executed upon the 22d of the same month.
On November the 2d, in the same year, archbishop Fairfoul, of Glasgow, died at Edinburgh, and was buried with great solemnity in the Abbey-church, Holyrood-house. He was succeeded by Mr. Alexander Burnet, who was translated from Aberdeen.
A great part of the churches in Scotland were filled with young men from the north, who had not completed their studies. Such a number of students were taken from the universities of Aberdeen and St. Andrews, that an Aberdeenshire gentleman exclaimed, in a passion, “If the bishops go on long at this rate, we’ll not have a young man in the country to herd our cows.” It is said, these new curates were, for the most part, so inattentive to moral conduct, that the pious and well-disposed would not attend public worship. This neglect so provoked one of them, on seeing a thin congregation, that he broke out into this curious exclamation, “No God nor I were hanged over this pulpit, but I’ll gar you all come, from the highest to the lowest of you! Na God nor I were hanged over the cupple-balk of this kirk, if I dinna gar you all come.” About the same time, one of our Glasgow curates, from the north, being overtaken with liquor, in the forenoon, fell into the sewer, at the entry to the Blackfriars church, where the people, regardless of the heavy curses which he prayed upon them, for their want of Christian charity, wantonly allowed him to roll, in the midst of a heavy shower, until he got sober again. Such reiterated marks of disrespect and want of feeling, for the infirmity of his curates, gave a plausible handle to archbishop Burnet, to continue the persecutions, of which he was the great manager in the west country. His maxim was, “Starve the fanatics, and then you will manage them.” He was so grievous an oppressor of this city, that the former friends of moderate episcopacy were obliged to protest against his encroachments, on the magistracy and civil power.
The severe law which was past against conventicles, the cruelties exercised upon those who were supposed to frequent these meetings, or who absented themselves from church, and the other violences committed against the people, irritated them to such a degree, that they rose in arms, in support of the covenant. At one period, the insurgents amounted to near 2000, but afterward they diminished to 800. These having advanced near Edinburgh, attempted to find their way back into the west, by Pentland-hills. They were there attacked by the king’s forces, upon the 28th of November, 1666, and, after a short engagement, were routed. The greater part, however, favoured by the darkness of the night, escaped; about forty only were killed, and 130 taken prisoners.
The prelates took care to load the whole body of presbyterians, as concerned in the rising, and, of course, to misrepresent them as rebels and enemies to the government. Measures were taken to prevent the possibility of escape. Several, who fled from the field of battle, were most cruelly murdered by the country people, and the severest vengeance was taken upon the prisoners. Some were hanged in Edinburgh, and others in Glasgow. At the latter place, the barbarous practice of beating drums on the scaffold, was made use of, in order to prevent the devoted victims from addressing the populace, or expressing their complaints. That inhuman custom was followed upon similar occasions until the revolution.
In 1667, after the Dutch war, the Scots army was, in conformity to the king’s letter, disbanded, to the great mortification of the bishops. The archbishop of Glasgow, at this time a privy counsellor, said, Now, that the army was disbanded, the gospel would go out of his diocess! But the king’s letter was peremptory. There were only two troops of horse, and Linlithgow’s foot-guards retained on the establishment.
After this period, we find nothing concerning Glasgow, worth recording, till 1674, when the city was fined by the privy council, in one hundred pounds sterling, for a conventicle kept in it by Mr. Andrew Morton, and Mr. Donald Cargil. The magistrates were allowed relief from the persons guilty. The winter and spring of this year were remarkable for a great fall of snow, followed by a severe frost, which prevented any ploughing till the 24th of March, old style. One third of the cattle in Scotland perished for want.
The year 1676 is remarkable for a great fire in Glasgow, the flames of which, from the opposite side of the street, threatened the destruction of the tolbooth. Compassion for many prisoners, on account of their religious opinions, caused the citizens break open the doors, and set them at liberty.
On November 30th, in the same year, James Dunlop of Househill was cited before the privy council, upon an information from the archbishop of Glasgow, and fined in 1000 merks, for neglect of his duty as bailie-depute of the regality of Glasgow, in allowing conventicles at Woodside, Partick, and other places; and was declared incapable of holding his office. He was guilty of no mal-administration, but was not so violent as the bishop wished, in preventing people from hearing the gospel.
In 1677, conventicles were frequent; but the conduct of these meetings was so peaceable, that, excepting their being contrary to the laws made to gratify the prelates, nothing of disloyalty could be charged upon them. The bishops did every thing in their power to inflame the king against the presbyterians, and used their influence to prevent certain indulgences, which were granted to several parishes where prelacy was most displeasing.
On May 2d, this year, colonel Borthwick, commanding the forces lying at Glasgow, received orders to place guards at the city gates, on the sabbath mornings, to prevent people from going to conventicles. His soldiers accordingly seized such as attempted to leave the town; and a number of citizens were denounced, for deserting the churches, and resorting to meetings in the country.
The persecutions had been regularly continued since the battle of Pentland, which afforded a plausible pretext for increased severity. It was now concerted, in the cabinet council, that measures should be taken to exasperate the Scots fanatics, as they were called, to some broil or other, that there might be a pretence to keep up the standing forces. The duke of Lauderdale was acquainted with the design, and, by a letter from the privy council, addressed to the earls of Glencairn and Dundonald, and lord Ross, the heritors of the shire of Ayr and Renfrew, were ordered to be convocated, in order to fall upon measures for suppressing conventicles. The council’s letter, upon this head, of date October 17th, 1677, mentions, in the preamble, that frequent information had been received, “of extraordinary insolences committed, not only against the present orthodox clergy, by usurping their pulpits, threatening and abusing their persons, and setting up conventicle houses, and keeping scandalous and seditious conventicles in the fields, the great seminaries of rebellion,” &c. and threatens, in conclusion, that upon failure of the measures required, the council would repress, by force, “all such rebellious and factious courses, without respect to the disadvantage of the heritors, whom his Majesty will then look upon as involved in such a degree of guilt as may allow the greatest degree of severity.”
The whole of this procedure was merely a feint, intended as a colour to their after-proceedings. On November 1st, upon pretended information of some growing disorders, the council passed a resolution, by which the nearest highlanders were to be ordered to meet at Stirling, upon proclamation; and the noblemen and gentlemen were required to have their vassals and tenants ready at a call. Arms and ammunition were to be sent to Stirling. The forces at Glasgow were ordered to Falkirk, and new men were to be levied to complete them; and the soldiers, ordered for the highlands, were countermanded.
The heritors of Ayr and Renfrew met at Irvine, upon November 2d, and resolved, that they did not find it within the compass of their power to suppress conventicles; wherefore they moved, that a toleration should be granted to presbyterians, as the only expedient to preserve the peace. The three noblemen who had convened the meeting, reported to the council, that it was not in their power to quiet the disorders.
This refusal, as it was termed, afforded a handle to the council to proceed with their violent project. A letter from the king was procured, dated December 11th, and read in council December 20th, by which they were fully authorised to act as they desired. Instead of bringing in forces from England and Ireland, as had been offered, they agreed upon levying and modelling an army, known by the name of the Highland Host, and thus to over-run and depopulate the western shires, in a time of profound peace, in order to compel the presbyterians to conformity. Several noblemen and gentlemen foreseeing the effects of this measure, resolved to go to court, and to give a faithful representation of the situation of Scotland to the king: But they were prevented, by an act of council, passed January 3d, 1678, at the instigation of the bishops, and Lauderdale, prohibiting all noblemen, heritors, and magistrates of burghs royal, from removing out of the kingdom, without special licence from the council.
The council also prepared a bond, to be subscribed by noblemen, heritors, and others, by which they should bind and oblige themselves, that they, their wives, families, and servants, should not be present at any conventicles; their tenants and cottars, and their wives, &c. should likewise abstain from conventicles: and further, that they should not reset, supply, or commune with forfeited persons, intercommuned ministers, or vagrant preachers. A committee of council was appointed to accompany the army, with ample powers to manage it, and to give orders to the sheriffs and magistrates. They were also clothed with a justiciary power, and constituted a criminal court. After several other preliminaries, the northern army rendezvouzed upon January 24th, 1678, at Stirling, where, besides other pieces of rudeness, they raised fire more than once.3 All these, with the Angus militia, and some gentlemen from Perthshire, marched from Stirling the 25th, and, with the regular forces, arrived at or about Glasgow the 26th.
Their numbers were, of regular forces, about 1000 foot; of Angus militia and Perthshire gentlemen, about 2,200; of the highlanders about 6,000; of horse-guards 160, besides five other troops of horse. The retinues of the lords of the committee, and others, were considerable; and a vast number of stragglers came for booty and plunder; so that they may be reckoned 10,000 in all.
They had great store of ammunition, four field-pieces, and vast numbers of spades, shovels, and mattocks. They had iron shackles, as if they were to lead back vast numbers of slaves; and thumlocks, as they were called, to use in their examinations and trials. The musketeers had their daggers made, so as to fasten on their pieces, like the bayonets now in use. So formidable a company, in a time of profound peace, could not fail to occasion great consternation in the country: and, on the other hand, the amazement of the officers in the army was little less, when they found peace and quietness, where they expected nothing short of actual rebellion.
At Glasgow, the committee of council met, opened their instructions, and proceeded to the work of disarming the peaceable country, and pressing the bond. They instructed the sheriffs, to convene the heritors, and others within their several counties, for the purpose of subscription, and to disarm the militia, heritors, and all other persons, excepting privy counsellors, and all officers and soldiers in the king’s pay, and excepting only noblemen and gentlemen of quality, who were licensed to wear their swords. In Glasgow, the bond was subscribed by James Campbell, provost; John Johnstoun, John Campbell, James Colquhoun, bailies, the counsellors, a few merchants, and some tradesmen, and mean persons, to the number, in all, of 153. The refusal of this bond, formed a pretext for the vast desolation, and severities, exercised at this time, upon the west of Scotland.
The committee of council sat at Glasgow ten days, and even on Sabbath, in time of sermon. During that time, little else was done, than ordering the quartering of the army, and administering the bond to the inhabitants. Meanwhile, the highlanders were suffered to plunder, and ruin the country round, and were quartered upon those who refused to subscribe the bond.
Upon the 2d of February, the Host, by order of the committee of council, began to march westward to Ayrshire, and, against the 7th, were scattered over Cunningham and Kyle. In the country round Glasgow, upon their march, and in the shire of Ayr, they conducted themselves as rudely and insolently, as if they had been a declared enemy in a conquered country. They amply obeyed the commision of pressing horses for their carriages, by taking them, not only from country people, but from those who happened to be travelling on the road. They overturned loads which they met with, and took the horses of labourers wherever they found them. They even took horses from the ploughs, and the labouring of the ground was stopped over the whole country which they visited in their rout. These outrages were committed, even before the committee went west, or any offer of the bond was made. The loss, by this incursion, cannot be accurately estimated; but it will appear to have been immense, when it is mentioned, that the parish of Straitoun suffered, by quartering soldiers, plundering, killing sheep and nolt, and the ransom of prisoners, no less than 12,000l. Scots; the parishes of Ayr and Alloa, by quartering, and by robbery, and breaking open merchants shops, 12,120l. Scots; and the parishes of Kilmarnock and Fenwick, by quartering and plundering, 14,431l. Scots. The whole loss of Ayrshire, containing forty-five parishes, was calculated at 137,499l. 6s. Scots.
Other oppressive measures were pursued by the council, for furthering their designs. A proclamation was issued, upon February the 11th, discharging masters to receive tenants or servants, without certificates that they had taken the bond: and, on February 14th, an act of council was past, for securing the public peace, by which, in order to force a general compliance with the bond, a new and unprecedented method was fallen upon, by debasing, in the most ignominious manner, the prerogative and majesty of the king, to make him crave law-burrows of his subjects. In consequence of this act, such heritors, as refused or delayed to take the bond, were charged to appear upon six days, to enact themselves to keep the peace. Besides, the refusers were to be liable in two years valued rent, and were to be subject to the same penalty, for the contravention of their men-servants or tenants. They were also to be indicted for a penalty of 50l. sterling, for attending each conventicle since the 24th of March, 1674.
Meanwhile, the militia, and highlanders, besides the outrages already mentioned, wounded and dismembered several persons without provocation. But the committee finding, by experience, that the west country would neither sign the bond, nor rise in arms, as the prelates expected, ordered the highlanders home towards the end of February. Accordingly they marched off, except five hundred who, with the Angus militia, and standing forces, remained, until orders came to dismiss them in the end of April.
Upon their return, loaded with baggage, the produce of their spoils, they continued to take free quarter. The students at the college of Glasgow, and other youths in town, stopped the bridge of Glasgow, the river being high, against 2000 of them. They permitted them to pass, in numbers of forty at one time, and, after obliging them to deposit their plunder, conducted them out at the west port, without suffering them to go through the town.
The committee of council followed, and came to Glasgow on April 10th, where, among other things, they ordered the inhabitants of the shire of Lanark, and town of Glasgow, to give up their arms upon oath. On the 24th, the committee were ordered to return to Edinburgh. Their proceedings had been approved of by the king’s letter to the council, of date March 26th, 1678, and were further ratified, by an act of council, May 2d.
The western shires being disarmed, prosecutions were conducted with vigour, against those who had not taken the bond, or had contravened its conditions. In prosecutions for conventicles, even boys were included, and imprisoned. Among the persons prosecuted, we find, March 4th, 1679, dame Margaret Stuart, the lady of Sir William Fleming of Farm, commissary of Glasgow, and she, having acknowledged, that she was present at a conventicle at Langside, and at another in the Craigs of Glasgow, and that ministers preached in her house at Edinburgh; the council fined her husband in 4000 merks, and ordained him instantly to pay the fine, or find security to pay it in ten days. This is only one of the numerous instances, in which husbands were made accountable for the alledged guilt of their wives.
The council now passed an act, commanding all officers and soldiers of the standing forces and militia, to dissipate the persons who should be found at converticles, by force of arms; and in case, by resistance, mutilation or death should ensue, the council indemnified them from such slaughter or mutilation, with the consequences. To execute this, and such other acts, the new levied forces were sent to Glasgow, and other places in the western shires. The troops, at Glasgow, were commanded by lord Ross, and made strict search for intercommuned ministers, field-preachers, and other obnoxious persons. In the course of these searches, many disorders and cruelties were committed.
The covenanters, aware of the policy which had been made use to exasperate them, had hitherto forborn all acts of hostility; but an incident at last occurred, suited to the views of the council: William Carmichael, a bankrupt merchant, and once a bailie in Edinburgh, was employed by archbishop Sharp, and commissioned by the privy council, to search for, and persecute nonconformists, and intercommuned persons, in the shire of Fife. This man was of dissolute life, and abandoned morals. The execution of his commission was attended with a number of cruelties, oppressions, and tortures; even rapes, adulteries, and other abominable crimes, were charged upon him. All legal methods of redress being impracticable, a number of persons, who had suffered in their families from this merciless persecutor, resolved, if possible, to rid themselves of him. For this purpose, they fixed upon the 3d day of May, when, as they were informed, he was to be at the hunting. These persons, to the number of nine, came abroad early in the morning of that day, and by a strange accident, they met with the master, when looking for the man. The archbishop returning, with his daughter, from Edinburgh to St. Andrew’s, by way of Ceres, was encountered by these persons, in Magus muir, dragged from his carriage, and put to death, with many wounds. The persons who committed this violence, retired to a house, three or four miles distant, where they continued till the evening. Four men were afterward executed for this murder, who were nowise concerned in it; and Mr. Hackstoun of Rathillet, who was also taken and executed, had declined acting in the affair, though present.
After the death of the primate, the council proceeded, with their usual rigour, against the presbyterians. Those who frequented conventicles in small numbers, found it necessary, on account of the insults of the soldiers, to keep more closely together, and even to carry arms for their own defence. Hitherto they contented themselves with attending sermons in the fields, and defending themselves when attacked: but their numbers, as well as their zeal, increasing, they assembled at Rutherglen, on May 29th, 1679, with Mr. Robert Hamilton, brother to the laird of Prestoun, and Mr. Thomas Douglas, minister, at their head. Here they published a declaration and testimony against those things which had been done publicly, in prejudice of the cause in which they were engaged. Upon the same day, they publicly burnt, at the cross of Rutherglen, the acts of parliament and council mentioned in the testimony. Their proceedings made a great noise, and being highly exaggerated, created considerable alarm. Mr. Graham of Claverhouse, afterward viscount of Dundee, then a captain in one of the new levied troops, received a commission from the council, to kill and destroy all he found in arms, at any field-meeting, to deal with them as traitors, and to seize, and, upon resistance, kill all who had any share in the appearance at Rutherglen.
Accordingly, Mr. Thomas Douglas being to preach on Sunday, June the 1st, near Loudoun-hill, three or four miles westward from Strathaven, Claverhouse resolved to march thither with his party. Public worship was begun, when the accounts were received of the approach of Claverhouse. Those who had arms withdrew from the meeting, resolving to meet the soldiers. They got together, about 40 horse, and 150, or 200 foot, all provided with ammunition, and untrained, but abundantly brisk for action, and came up with Claverhouse, and his party, in a muir, near a place called Drumclog. This little undisciplined army, though unexperienced, and without officers, received Claverhouse’s first fire with great bravery, and returned it with much gallantry. After a short, but warm engagement, the soldiers were entirely defeated, with the loss of thirty or forty killed, and were pursued for more than a mile. Claverhouse had his horse shot under him, and very narrowly escaped. Several of the officers were wounded, and some of the soldiers taken prisoners, who being disarmed, were dismissed without further injury. Very little loss was sustained upon the other side.
Mr. Hamilton. in this action, discovered abundance of valour. It was the opinion of not a few, that if he had followed up his success, by marching straight to Glasgow, they might easily, with such as would have joined them by the way, have dislodged the soldiers there, and made a formidable appearance. Instead of that, they returned to the meeting, and marched the same night to Hamilton, intending to proceed the next day to Glasgow, where the forces, having received the alarm from Claverhouse, were sufficiently prepared to receive them.
The next day, about ten o’clock, Mr. Hamilton, and his party, came to Glasgow, and divided themselves into two bodies; the one under the command of Mr. Hamilton, came up the Gallowgate street; and here, it is said, their leader did not show that gallantry he had discovered the preceding day, but stepped into a house at the bridge, till his men retired; the other party entered the town by the wynd-head and college.
The country men were under great disadvantages; their horses were of no use to them; and they were perfectly open to the fire from the closses and houses, as well as to that of the soldiers, who lay behind rails and barricadoes, secured from the fire of their enemy. Nevertheless, the country men shewed abundance of courage, and were so brisk in the attack, that several of the soldiers gave way, and some of their officers retired behind the tolbooth stair: and had they been commanded by persons of military skill, it is not improbable, that the soldiers would have been routed.
But, after six or eight were killed in the attack, and some wounded, the country men finding the attempt too warm for them, retired, in order, to the Gallowgate-port, expecting that the regular forces would leave their entrenchments, and give them battle in the open fields; but the soldiers were content to remain in safety. Mr. Hamilton, and his party, returned to Hamilton, much disheartened at their discomfiture. Claverhouse, and his officers, gave orders, that the dead bodies should not be buried, but left to be devoured by the butchers’ dogs. When some women attempted to carry them to the grave, they were attacked, and maltreated by several of the soldiers, who compelled them to set down the coffins in the alms-house, near the high church. There they continued, till Mr. Welsh, and some of their friends, came in a few days, and buried them.
The council having received an account of the affair of Drumclog, met on June 3d, and published a proclamation, declaring that insurrection to have been “an open, mạnifest, and horrid rebellion, and high treason.” They published another proclamation, June 5th, for assembling the militia, to act in concert with the king’s forces; and a third proclamation, on June the 7th, commanding all heritors and freeholders, to attend the king’s host. Lord Ross, and the officers of the king’s forces at Glasgow, finding the country people gathering in great numbers, and judging themselves unable to stand a second attack, retired, on June 3d, to Kilsyth. Next day, when near Falkirk, they received the council’s order to stop, till the earl of Linlithgow’s regiment, and other forces, should join them, and then to march back, all in a body, to the west country.
The king approved of the proceedings of council, and promised them assistance. The council were panic-struck, when they heard that the force of the rebels had extended to 8000, if not more. The king, by the advice of his English council, named his natural son, James duke of Buccleugh and Monmouth, commander in chief of the forces in Scotland, with very ample powers. The duke left London the 15th of June, and, arriving in Edinburgh on the 18th, was that day appointed a privy counseller. He immediately took the command of the forces then at Edinburgh; but, from the want of provisions, his motions westward were slow.
He marched from Edinburgh, by the way of Livingston and Bathgate, and, on Saturday, June 21st, encamped on Bothwel muir. A deputation from the other party waited upon him next day, with proposals, to which his grace returned a civil answer; but he refused to treat with them, unless they would lay down their arms in half an hour. When the commissioners returned, the officers engaged in a debate, in which nothing was agreed upon, and no answer was returned to the general. Preparations were therefore immediately made for an engagement.
The army of the covenanters, or of the rebels, as they were called, lay in Hamilton muir, on the south of the river Clyde, and surrounded by the river on the north, north-east, and north west. The bridge at Bothwel, a pass of much importance, was guarded a by party of two or three hundred; and, being attacked by Lord Livingston, at the head of the foot-guards, the country men made an able resistance for near an hour, till their ammunition failed. When they found their powder and ball falling short, they fent a dispatch to Mr. Hamilton, their general, for a supply of ammunition, or of troops well provided. Instead of this, he ordered them to quit the bridge, and retire to the body of the army. With this command they complied, and the duke having followed them, threw them into disorder, and obtained a complete victory.
Twelve hundred surrendered prisoners in the muir, and about four hundred were killed. The soldiers were guilty of great cruelties; and several persons, passing upon the road, near Hamilton, or upon necessary business, were murdered in cold blood. Claverhouse, and others of the officers, who had been at Glasgow, solicited the general to ruin the west country, to burn Glasgow, Hamilton, and Strathaven, to kill the prisoners, and to permit the army to plunder the western shires; but the general, much to his honour, rejected their proposals with detestation. Upon this disappointment, they requested, that the soldiers should be allowed, at least three or four hours plunder in Glasgow, on account of the favour which had been there shewn to the west country army. This demand was likewise peremptorily refused. Yet it is said, that the town of Glasgow, in order to escape plunder at this time, was afterwards obliged to quit, to the town of Edinburgh, for the behoof of particular persons, who were to be gratified, a debt of 30,000 merks, they held upon the Cannon mills.
It would be almost endless to enter upon the ravages and spoils committed after this engagement. Many persons in the neighbourhood were plundered in their goods, and imprisoned, and fined in large sums, for conversing with the rebels. The king’s forces seized upon all the horses of value which were found in the pursuit, although their owners were nowise concerned in the engagement. The prisoners were sent off to Edinburgh, where they arrived on June 24th. Upon their march, they were treated by the soldiers with great cruelty. They had been stripped, not only of their arms, but of their clothes; they were tied two and two; refused refreshments on the road; subjected to malicious jests and reproaches; and brought to Edinburgh almost naked.
Monmouth did not arrive in Edinburgh till June 26th, during the interval betwixt that time and the engagement, tradition says, he spent two days at Glasgow, and was received, and entertained with honour by the magistrates. Upon his return to Edinburgh, he treated the prisoners with humanity. To those who promised to live peaceably, he gave immediate liberty. About 300, who obstinately refused that easy condition, were shipped for Barbadoes; but, being stowed under deck, in a small vessel, which was cast away off Orkney, 200 of them perished at sea. Two of the ministers, Messrs. John King and John Kid, were tried before the lords of justiciary, and received sentence of death, which was accordingly executed upon August the 18th. Circuit courts were established throughout the country, for the trial of those who had been in the engagement at Bothwel; and the usual severities of denunciations, forfeitures, imprisonments, and plunder, were continued.
When Monmouth returned to Edinburgh, some presbyterian gentlemen, and ministers, waited upon him, and entreated him to use his interest with his Majesty, for full liberty to their party. He received them graciously, and promised that nothing proper should be wanting on his part.
A proclamation was issued by the king, suspending the laws against house conventicles. This proclamation was thought to be procured by Monmouth’s letters; and, in prosecution of it, the privy council of Scotland granted warrant for liberating such ministers as were in custody, on account of conventicles. It was followed by the king’s letter, enlarging the favour. But the council and bishops soon took measures for rendering these indulgences ineffectual.
In the end of this year, James duke of York, brother to the king, came to Scotland, was received by the council with great solemnity; and, by virtue of the king’s letter, was admitted a privy counsellor without taking the oaths. He was a bigotted papist, and a zealous confederate of the council in all their cruelties and oppressions.
In the year 1680, we find a number of persecutions, against those concerned in the engagement at Bothwel, and against the heritors and gentlemen who had not attended the King’s host. The trials for these offences were followed by fugitations and forfeitures. Some of the estates forfeited, were gifted to papists, by the influence of the duke of York, and his creatures; and the donators endeavoured to make good their titles, by severities, equal to those by which they had been acquired. On July 20th, this year a rencounter took place at Ayr’s Moss, in the parish of Auchinleck in Kyle, betwixt the king’s forces and the covenanters, in which the former were successful. This engagement was followed by executions, and other branches of persecution.
Among those prosecuted, for being concerned in the battle at Bothwel, we find, in 1681, sixteen citizens of Glasgow, besides several heritors in Lanarkshire, some of whom, having resigned their lands, were dismissed; others, having stood trial, had their estates forfeited. To give some idea of the mode of procedure in these cases, we shall present our readers with a short account of the process against John Spreul, apothecary in Glasgow.
Mr. Spreul’s troubles began soon after the battle of Pentland. His father, a merchant in Paisley, was fined by Middleton, and forced to abscond. The son was apprehended, because he would not discover where his father was. After a short confinement, and many terrible threatenings of being shot, roasted to death, and the like, he was dismissed. In 1677, he had been cited before a court at Glasgow, for nonconformity; but finding that severity was intended against him, he absented, and went abroad, sometimes to Holland, France, and Ireland, where he carried on business. He came from Ireland after the scuffle at Drumclog; but though his brother, and two cousins, were with the west country army, he did not join them.
After the defeat at Bothwel, he again absconded, and retired to Holland. During his absence, his wife and family were turned out of his house and shop, and all his moveables secured. He returned to this country in the end of the year 1680, intending to carry his wife and family to Rotterdam. He was apprehended at Edinburgh, November 12th, and was carried next day before the duke and council, and interrogated with regard to the concern which he had in the affair of Drumclog and Bothwel. The usual ensnaring questions, which were put to all persons at that period, were also proposed to him; such as “Was the killing of archbishop Sharp a murder? Were the risings at Drumclog and Bothwel rebellions?”
Having refused to sign his examination, denied all connection with the affairs of Drumclog and Bothwel, and declined to pronounce them rebellions, or to give any opinion with regard to the killing of the archbishop, the preses, lord Haltoun, told him, that unless he would make a more ample confession, and subscribe it, he should be put to the torture. Mr. Spreul answered, he had been ingenuous, and would go no farther; that they could not legally subject him to torture; but if they would go on, he protested, that it was against law, and that what was extorted from him, under torture, should not militate against himself, or others; expressing his hopes, that he should not be so far left by God, as to accuse himself, or others, under the extremity of pain.
His foot was then put into the instrument called the boot. The following queries were proposed to him, and at every query, the hangman gave five strokes upon the wedges, “Whether he knew any thing of a plot to blow up the abbey and the duke of York? Who was in the plot? Where Mr. Cargil was? And whether he would subscribe his confession?” To these he declared his utter ignorance; and adhered to his refusal to subscribe. The council then ordered the old boot to be brought, alledging that the new one, which had been used, was not so good. He accordingly underwent the torture a second time, which he bore with wonderful firmness, adhering to his former declaration. When the torture was over, he was carried on a soldier’s back to the prison, where he was refused the benefit of a surgeon, and even the assistance of his wife, who arrived that day in Edinburgh.
Upon his recovery, he was served with an indictment, at the instance of his majesty’s advocate, Sir George Mackenzie, to stand trial before the justiciary court in March 1681; but the crown witnesses not being ready, the process was delayed. During his confinement, an incident occurred, which added greater rigour to the prosecution. Mr. Spreul had unfortunately been prevailed upon to draw a petition for John Murray, a sailor, under sentence of death, for being at a conventicle in arms. That supplication was thought too much of the nature of a remonstrance, and concluded with a declaration of abhorrence of papists, and their principles. Mr. Spreul, as the author, was ordered to appear before the council. Having acknowledged that he framed it, the duke of York rose up, and said, with a frown, Sir, would you kill the king? Mr. Spreul, after a pause, directing himself to the chancellor, said, My lord, I bless God, I am no papist; I loath and abhor all those jesuitical, bloody, and murdering principles; neither my parents, nor the ministers I heard, ever taught me such principles. A great silence, followed and many expected that Mr. Spreul would have been immediately confined in irons. In a little, the chancellor asked Mr. Spreul some questions concerning Bothwel, to which he declined answering, as he was under trial before the justiciary; and thereupon he was remanded to prison.
Mr. Spreul was brought before the justiciary upon June 6th, when the diet was deserted simpliciter. Upon the 10th he was again brought into court, and indicted, as guilty of high treason and rebellion, for corresponding and being present with the rebels at Bothwel. He was also charged “with keeping company and correspondence with Messrs. John Welsh and Samuel Arnot, the bloody and sacrilegious murderers of the late archbishop of St. Andrew’s,” which was an arrant falsehood, those two ministers having had no share in that fact.
The advocates for Mr. Spreul were Sir George Lockhart, Messrs. Walter Pringle, James Daes, Alexander Swinton, and David Thoirs. Mr. Pringle alledged, that the defendant could not pass to the knowledge of an inquest, because, having twice undergone the torture, and having denied the crime, he could not, by the law of this, and other nations, be impanneled, or condemned, for that crime, upon any new probation; and protested, that the prisoner should be heard upon the relevancy of the pretended confession, which the lord advocate declared he meant to produce as an adminicle of proof. Long pleadings ensued. The lords found the dittay relevant, remitted the probation to an assize, and repelled the defence founded upon the torture, in respect the commission of council did not warrant the prisoner to have been questioned on the points contained in the dittay, and adjourned the trial till the 13th instant.
Upon the 13th, the pleadings, for the prisoner, were renewed; but the lords adhered to their interlocutor, and the proof was brought. When the witnesses were examined, the lord advocate offered, in proof, the alledged confession of the prisoner in presence of the council. Sir George Lockhart objected, that it could not be received, because it was not signed by the prisoner; but when offered to him, had been disclaimed; and alledged, that it had been drawn up ex post facto. It was answered, that the confession was written, and read ex incontinente to the prisoner, which was offered to be proved by witnesses. The lords, however, “refused to sustain the confession to be proved by witnesses, as a mean of probation, either plenary or adminiculate.”
The advocate then moved, that the prisoner might be interrogated, “If he thinks the being at Bothwel-bridge rebellion?” This interrogatory being put by the court, the prisoner answered, “that was no part of the libel, and his after life should witness him to be both a good subject and a good Christian.” The advocate closed the proof, and protested for an assize of error, in case the jury should acquit the prisoner.
The jury were then inclosed, and next day returned their verdict, in which they, “una voce, find nothing proved of the crimes in the libel, which may make him (the prisoner) guilty.” Upon this verdict, the prisoner, and his council, took instruments, and craved he might be liberated: but his majesty’s advocate produced an act of council, dated June 14th, granting warrant to the judges, “notwithstanding of any verdict or sentence upon the criminal dittay, lately pursued against John Spreul, to detain him in prison, until he be examined upon several other points they have to lay to his charge.”
Upon July 14th, Mr. Spreul was brought before the privy council, for being present at field conventicles, and for having harboured and conversed with intercommuned persons. The libel was referred to his oath; but he, having refused to swear, was found guilty, fined in 500l. sterling, and sent to the Bass. Mr. Spreul continued there in confinement, so long, that he acquired the appellation of Bass John.
Mr Wodrow, in giving an account of this trial, mentions, that Mr. Spreul, in the interval betwixt his appearance before the council, and his trial before the justiciary, received information, that some of the witnesses were threatened, and others had large promises, to bear evidence against him. Yet the lords began to think, that the proof would not reach his life; but the duke of York urged them to proceed, adding, that they were at much pains about poor country people, but Mr. Spreul was more dangerous than five hundred of them. In conclusion, Mr. Wodrow remarks, If such efforts were made in this trial, where so many able lawyers were counsel for the prisoner, we may easily guess, what sad work was in the more ordinary trials of poor ignorant country people.
Mr. Spreul, after an imprisonment in the Bass, for near six years, presented a petition to the council, craving to be set at liberty, on account of his sufferings. The council, May 13th, 1687, “in regard of his majesty’s late gracious proclamation, gave order and warrant to Charles Maitland, lieutenant-governor of the isle of the Bass, to set Mr. Spreul at liberty.” Mr. Spreul, however, apprehending that this order involved him in an approbation of the proclamation, was unwilling to take his liberty upon such terms. He signified this to the governor, and continued in prison, until an order of council was passed, appointing the doors to be thrown open, and leaving him at liberty to go or stay, as he pleased. He departed, under protestation against what he considered to be wrong in the order and proclamation, went to Edinburgh; waited upon the council; thanked them for his liberty, but verbally renewed his protest against the proclamation and orders. So ended the long tract of sufferings experienced by this singular character, whom we shall afterwards have occasion to mention in the commercial part of our history.
We return to the year 1681, and find, that Mr. Donald Cargil, sometime minister of the Barony parish of Glasgow, having been apprehended, and examined before the council, was brought to trial before the court of justiciary, on July 26th, for being concerned in the battle of Bothwel-bridge, was found guilty, and next day executed.
That spirit of persecution and oppression, which we have hitherto had so much occasion to notice, continued to exhibit the same ardour, from this period, during the remainder of Charles’ reign. An act of parliament was passed, August 31st, 1681, prescribing a test to be taken by all persons in offices of public trust; an oath so complex and extensive, that it was beyond the capacity of many upon whom it was imposed. It was further thought to involve an approbation of the doctrine of the divine indefeasible hereditary right of kings; and it included a renunciation of the covenants, and of the right to use defensive arms against oppression. It was brought into parliament, and voted in one day, although its importance required deliberation; and a delay, till next day, was refused to the earl of Argyle, and many others, who argued, that more time for consideration should be allowed.
Several persons, particularly ministers, having declined to take this test, were subjected to persecution. The earl of Argyle, when it was proposed to him, subjoined, with the duke of York’s approbation, a short explication, which was afterward the cause of his trial before the court of justiciary, in the issue of which he was found guilty of the crimes of treason and leasing-making; but, a short time after the verdict, he found means to escape from the castle of Edinburgh. Soon after, he reached London, and escaped to Holland. In the interim, sentence was pronounced, adjudging him to be a traitor, appointing his name and honours to be extinct; ordaining his arms to be torn and reversed, and confiscating his lands, estate, titles, and dignities.
In the beginning of the year 1685, the king was seized with a sudden fit; and, after languishing a few days, expired, on February 6th, in the fifty-fifth year of his age. His disorder was thought, by some, to resemble an apoplexy; but, according to others, his death happened in such a manner, and under such circumstances, that it must remain a problem, whether he died a natural death, or was hastened to his grave by treachery.3
The duke of York was immediately declared king, and the same day issued a proclamation, continuing all persons in their places of trust under the late king. Though a papist, he took the coronation oath; but he went openly to mass; and, by this imprudence, displayed his arbitrary disposition, and the bigotry of his principles. He even fent an agent to Rome, in order to make submission to the pope, and to prepare for the re-admission of England into the bosom of the catholic church.4
The duke of Monmouth, under the secret protection of the prince of Orange, concerted, with Argyle, the plan of an invasion. In pursuance of this project, Argyle sailed from the Vly on May 2d, and by favourable winds, was soon carried to Scotland. He landed in the isle of Mull, and from thence passed to Kintyre. He summoned, though in vain, the people to rise in support of their violated privileges. The greatest force he could collect amounted to no more than 2500 men. The privy council apprised of his intentions, embodied the militia and regular forces. Argyle was surrounded on all sides with difficulties, and, endeavouring to force his way into the low country, he crossed the Leven, near Dumbarton. His provisions were cut off, and his followers gradually deserted. He turned his route toward Galloway. Passing the Clyde, he arrived at Renfrew, where he, and his few adherents, were misled, under night, into a bog. Confusion and flight ensued; and the earl, returning toward the Clyde, was pursued, and, seized by two peasants. He was carried first to Glasgow, then to Edinburgh, where, after many indignities, he was beheaded upon his former sentence.
Monmouth left Amsterdam on the 24th of May. After obstructions, by contrary winds, he landed near Lime, in Dorset, on June 9th, proclaiming the king to be a tyrant, a popish usurper; and ascribing to him the poisoning of the late king. He soon gathered followers; but, at the battle of Sedge-moor, his forces were routed with great slaughter. He himself fled from the field of battle, and concealed himself in a ditch, but was discovered, and soon afterward beheaded.
The persecutions, for religious opinions, were carried to the same extremities as under the former reign. Persons of both sexes, and of almost every age and rank, were subjected to them. Murders, in open day, were committed, in the fields, by the military, without colour of law or justice, and without enquiry into the grounds of such severities. The usual pretext for these cruelties were, that the sufferers had been present at the battle of Bothwel; and, upon their refusing to answer certain interrogatories, or to take the abjuration oath, they were instantly shot, without any evidence, or other form of trial. Two women were drowned near Wigtoun, by being tied to stakes within the flood-mark; three men were shot at Polmadie, near Glasgow, for declining to pray for the king by name; and similar murders were committed over the whole country.
Upon the first rumour of Argyle’s landing, the most dreadful ravages were committed by the soldiers. The prisoners detained in Edinburgh, on account of religion, were immediately sent off to Burntisland, and afterward to Dunnotter, where they experienced the greatest hardships and misery. The unsuccessful attempt of Argyle was attended with forfeitures, imprisonments, and persecutions against many of the name of Campbell, and others, who were supposed to have been engaged in the enterprize.
These severities are, probably, without any parallel, excepting the counterpart of the same plot against the reformation, which took place in France, in October, 1685. Lewis XIV. after having long harrassed the protestants, revoked the edict of Nantz, by which the free exercise of their religion had been secured. In consequence of the persecutions exercised against the unhappy protestants, France was deserted by above half a million of her most useful subjects, who carried with them, besides immense sums of money, those arts and manufactures, which had chiefly tended to enrich that kingdom. Of these refugees, near fifty thousand settled in Britain; and, by their tragical accounts of the tyranny, which they had experienced, revived among the protestants, all their former horror and animosity against popery.
After the vigorous endeavours of the prelates in this country, and their adherents, for so many years, they now found, that they had little else to perform. Most part of the presbyterian ministers were either executed or banished, or had withdrawn themselves. Of the laity, who had favoured presbytery, the gentry and heritors were either worn out by death, forfeitures, and burdens, or under banishment; and many of the common people were cut off, transported to the plantations, or mewed up prison. The rest were so born down by the soldiers, and time-servers, that most of them lived as privately and quietly as possible, and others exhibited an outward appearance of conformity. The relaxation of severities was therefore naturally to be expected; but it was considered, by many, as a prelude to the restoration of popery. The project to this effect, which was attempted in parliament, 1686, by rescinding the penal statutes against papists, made it convenient, that the more open acts of bloodshed and violence should be, in some measure, superseded.
Though that project failed, the king determined to prosecute his purpose. Great numbers of priests and jesuits came from abroad. Many of our nobility and gentry, professing themselves papists, proved, like all apostates, violent and active promoters of their new principles, and received the usual reward of such services, the best places of profit and power in the kingdom. The papists were allowed ample liberty in the exercise of their religion, by a proclamation of the king, February 12th, 1687, called the first indulgence. That order was framed agreeably to the maxims and politics of France and Rome, and in terms nearly correspondent to the revocation of the edict of Nantz. It was the utmost stretch of absolute power, and required the most implicit and unreserved obedience.
By the same proclamation, the presbyterians were tolerated to meet in private houses; but discharged from assembling in barns or meeting-houses, with a renewal of all the severities against preaching in the fields. Upon February 24th, the council made a return to the king, acquainting him with their obedience, and their resolution to prosecute the ends of his royal proclamation. They approved of the admission of papists to places of trust, and thanked the king, for his royal word, to maintain their church and religion, established by law, believing that to be the best security they could have. Among those who thus depended upon the word of a papist, for the security of the reformed religion, we find the two archbishops. The duke of Hamilton, the earls of Panmure and Dundonald, did themselves real honour, by refusing to sign this letter. The latter two were, by the king, removed from the council. The former, being of too much consequence to be disobliged, was continued, cum nota.
The king soon issued out a second and third proclamation; by the last of which, he, “by his sovereign authority, prerogative-royal, and absolute power, suspended, stopped, and disabled all penal and sanguinary laws made against any for non-conformity to the religion established by law.” This liberty was accepted by almost all the presbyterian ministers in the kingdom, and proved a great and genera relief. The synod of Glasgow and Ayr met in a house at Glasgow, upon August 30th, this year, at which were present, a considerable number who had been members of it at the restoration. Mr. William Violant was chosen moderator; and, among other things, the synod recommended Mr. James Wodrow to take the charge of instructing, in their theological studies, a number of youths, who had not had the opportunity of public teaching, since they had left their philosophical studies in the university. He accordingly took upon him this charge, and continued in it, till he was called to the chair of the professor of theology in the university of Glasgow, February 22d, 1692.
The indulgence, which was thus embraced, though intended merely in favour of papists, afforded the true friends of liberty and religion the means of being frequently together, of strengthening each others hands, and of preparing matters for the great event which followed. Considerable encroachments were made upon that toleration. Many presbyterian ministers were disturbed in the exercise of their functions; and some of them were prosecuted criminally for their freedom in preaching against popery. In January, 1688, accounts were received, that the queen was with child. So fond were our Scots council, not only of a popish prince, but of entailing popery and slavery on these lands, that they appointed a day of public thanksgiving on this account. June 10th, the queen was delivered of a son, who was baptized by the name of James. That event was productive of great joy to all the zealous catholics, both at home and abroad. It was received with the same pleasure by the Scots council, who appointed a day of thanksgiving upon the occasion.
Every motive, civil and religious, concurred to alienate from the king, the affections of mind of all ranks and denominations; and, from the birth of the prince of Wales, he derived the suddenness of his ruin. That circumstance increased the fears of his subjects, who foresaw, in the reign of a prince to be educated under such a father, a continuance of the same unconstitutional measures. While James was busy in forfeiting the affections of his people, his son-in-law, the prince of Orange, was engaged in schemes for mounting the throne. He retained, in his pay, the principal servants of James, and was minutely informed of all the transactions of the king. He endeavoured to convince the people of England and Holland, that the prince of Wales was a supposititious child. Under pretence of danger from France, he formed a camp of twenty thousand men, between Grave and Nimeguen, equipped for service twenty ships of the line, and ordered the whole naval force of the united provinces to be fitted out.
James, in the meanwhile, reposed himself in the most unaccountable security, and had the weakness to believe, that the reports of an invasion, were raised to frighten him into a connection with France. Convinced, at length, of the truth of these reports, he prepared for war, and endeavoured to gain, by lenity, the lost affections of his people. He declared, that he meant to establish a legal settlement of an universal liberty of conscience for all his subjects; that he had resolved inviolably to preserve the church of England; that his intention was, that Roman catholics should remain incapable of sitting in the House of Commons; and expressed his readiness to do every thing for the safety and advantage of his subjects. He published, on September 27th, a general pardon, with the exception of a few persons of inconsiderable rank and influence. He restored the city of London to its ancient charter and privileges; and made other concessions, which were the less prized, that they seemed to be extorted by fear.5
During these transactions, the prince of Orange continued his preparations; and, when these were completed, took a formal leave of the States of Holland. He was at first driven back by a dreadful tempest; but, in a short time, he put again to sea with a favourable east wind. On November 3d, he was discovered between Dover and Calais, stretching down the channel with all his sails. The same wind which was favourable to the enemy, confined the English to their own coast, and the Dutch landed in Torbay on November the 5th.
The Scots council had resolved, October the 3d, to support the king with their lives and fortunes. The bishops, with the fame abject flattery which had formerly distinguished their attachment to the popish king, sent a letter to him, expressive of their unshaken loyalty, and praying,” that God might give him the hearts of his subjects, and the necks of his enemies; might give success to his majesty’s arms, that all who should invade his just and undoubted rights, might be disappointed and clothed with shame; that, on his royal head, the crown might still flourish; and that Heaven might bless and preserve the prince to sway the royal sceptre after him.” This letter was subscribed by all the Scots bishops, except Argyle and Caithness, and shews, that, with the exception of these two, they were ready to accede to any terms, even popery itself, to please the king, and retain their benefices.
The prince of Orange, before leaving the Hague, issued a declaration of the reasons which induced him to an invasion. This declaration was publicly proclaimed at Glasgow, and several other burghs, and had very considerable influence on the greater part of the Scots nobility, gentry, and commons. Upon the last day of November, the earl of Loudoun, and several young gentlemen, students in the university of Glasgow, burnt, in effigy, the pope and the archbishop of St. Andrew’s and Glasgow, without any opposition.
The king was soon deserted by a number of the English nobility and officers, who joined the prince; the princess Ann, his favourite daughter, with her husband, prince George of Denmark, in like manner, abandoned him. Distrusting his army, and fearful of throwing himself upon the parliament, the king lost all courage, and withdrew, under cover of night, to Embyferry, near Feversham, in hopes of escaping to the continent. He was seized in his flight, returned to London, and demanded a conference with the prince of Orange. William ordered him to remove to Rochester castle, from which the king soon escaped, and fled to France. He hastened to St. Germains, whither he had formerly sent the queen and prince of Wales, and was received by Lewis XIV. with more than royal generosity.
A convention was now called, which soon resolved, that James had abdicated the government, and vacated the throne. A bill was past for the establishment of the crown in the prince of Orange, jointly with his wife, but reserving the administration to the prince alone. In default of issue by the princess, the throne was to descend to the princess of Denmark, and the heirs of her body. This business was finished on February 12th, 1689; and, on that very day, the princess of Orange arrived at Whitehall from Holland.
Next day the crown was tendered to the prince and princess. The convention to a preamble, containing a detail of the grievances of the preceding reign, annexed the declaration of ancient rights and liberties, which was subjoined to the settlement of the crown.
The settlement of the crown of England was soon followed by the same measure in Scotland: a convention was summoned to meet at Edinburgh, on March 14th, 1689. That convention resolved, that James had forfaulted his right to the crown, and that the throne was become vacant; and appointed a committee to prepare an act for raising William and Mary to the vacant throne, to consider of the destination of the crown to other heirs, and to form an instrument of government, for securing, in future, the people against the grievances of which they at present complained. The king and queen were proclaimed, at Edinburgh, on April the 11th. Commissioners were appointed to repair to London, to invest William with the government.
On May the 11th, these commissioners with a cavalcade of most of the Scottish nobility and gentry, then residing in London, were introduced to the king and queen at Whitehall. They presented a letter from the states, the instrument of government, a list of grievances to be redressed; and an address for converting the convention into a parliament. The papers were read, William made a suitable reply; and the coronation oath was tendered to him by the earl of Argyle. The convention being turned into a parliament, the duke of Hamilton was appointed commissioner; lord Melvin received the seals as secretary; viscount Stair was restored to the office of lord president of the court of session; and his son, Sir John Dalrymple, was appointed lord advocate.
An act was passed, July 22d, for the abolition of prelacy, which was followed by an act of the parliament, which met at Edinburgh, April 1690, rescinding the king’s supremacy over the church; and, by two other acts of the same parliament, restoring to their churches, such presbyterian ministers, then alive, as had been ejected from their charges since January 1st, 1661, ratifying the confession of faith, settling the presbyterian government of the church, and appointing the first meeting of the general assembly to be held, at Edinburgh, upon the third Tuesday of October ensuing.
Thus, after a series of sufferings and persecutions continued for a period of twenty-eight years, the church of Scotland was restored to that form of government, for which her sons had so firmly and nobly contended, that those, who were devoted as victims in her cause, have been distinguished by the honourable title of martyrs, in defence of truth and liberty: and thus, was brought about that happy revolution, under which, as Hume says, “we have ever since enjoyed, if not the best system of government, at least the most entire system of liberty, that ever was known amongst mankind.”
During the period of which, we have treated in this, and the preceding chapter, we find, in the criminal records of our country, a melancholy display of human nature. Judges and jurors, servilely obedient to the will of arbitrary governors, were abundantly forward to prostitute their powers, at the nod of their superiors, to almost every measure, however cruel, or sanguinary, capricious, or unwarrantable. A late writer6 has justly observed that “the want of science, and civil liberty, was the fundamental source of a distribution of law, so repugnant to justice, to humanity, and to policy. Bitter fruits have been produced under the gloomy climate of a tyrannical government, and a superstitious priesthood. Tyranny and superstition, masked in the solemn garb of law and justice, stride horrible with all their ghastly train of confiscation, torture, and murder.”
When we view such subversions of justice, such undue exertions of power, and “the legal murders,”7 with which our criminal registers abound, we are naturally led to contrast these oppressions, with the blessings which we enjoy, under a free government, and in a more enlightened age. While we derive from this contrast ample grounds of consolation, may we learn, and cherish a just detestation of the uncharitable spirit of persecution, which is so dissonant with the principles of forbearance, and brotherly love, inculcated in the doctrines, and exemplified in the life and character, of the great Founder of Christianity; and may we feel and preserve a due abhorrence of all attacks and encroachments upon our inestimable, civil, and religious liberties.
3 Welwood’s Memoirs.
5 McPherson’s History of Britain.
6 Hugo Arnot, Esq. – Preface to his “Criminal Trials.”