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evidence. Under early pamphlets, he quotes one printed in 1703 by Mr Andrew Symson, Episcopalian minister of Kirkinner, Margaret Maclauchlan's parish, at the time of the martyrdom, and written by his son, Mr Matthias Symson, in which a Presbyterian pamphleteer is corrected in his account of the drowning, and the fact admitted, as if witnessed by him : “ They were judicially condemned after the usual solemnities of procedure. The judges were several gentlemen commissioned by authority, of whom Mr D. G., brother to the then L. of Cl. (evidently, Mr David Graham, brother to the then Laird of Claverhouse], was one. The chancellor of Assize (or foreman of the Jury] and clerk of the Court are yet alive.”
Under minutes of the local Church Courts he gives :
(1.) The Minutes of the Presbytery of Wigtown, dated February 10, 1708, and of the Synod of Galloway, October 19, 1708, cnjoining a collection of accounts of the sufferings for religion in the late times of persecution.
(2.) The Minute of the Kirk-session of Kirkinner, April 15, 1711. The part relating to Margaret Maclauchlan is--“ Post preces sederunt, all the members except John M‘Culloch, William Hanna, and John Martin, younger in Airles. Inter alia, the minister gave in the account of the sufferings of honest, godly people in the late times, which was read, and is as follows : Margaret Laughlison, of known integrity and piety from her youth, aged about eighty, widow of John Milliken, wright in Drumjargan, was, in or about the year of God 1685, in her own house, taken off her knees in prayer, and carried immediately to prison, and from one prison to another, without the benefit of light to read the Scriptures; was barbarously treated by dragoons who were sent to carry her from Mahirmore to Wigtown; and being sentenced by Sir Robert Grier of Lagg to be drowned at a stake within the flood-mark, just below the town of Wigtown, for conventicle keeping and alleged rebellion, was, according to the said sentence, fixed to the stake till the tide made, and held down within the water by one of the town officers by his halbert at her throat, till she died."
(3.) The Minute of the Kirk-session of Penninghame, February 19, 1711. The part of the minute relating to the Wilson family is : “Gilbert Wilson of Glenvernock, in Castle Stewart's land, being a man to an excess conform to the guise of the times, and his wife without challenge for her religion, in good condition as to worldly things, with a great stock on a large ground (fit to be a prey), was
harassed for his children who would not conform. They being required to take the Test and hear the curates, refused both ; were searched for, fled, and lived in the wild mountains, bogs, and caves. Their parents were charged, on their highest peril, that they should neither harbour them, speak to them, supply them, nor see them; and the country people were obliged by the terror of the law to pursue them, as well as the soldiers, with hue and cry.
“In February 1685, Thomas Wilson, of sixteen years of age, Margaret Wilson, of eighteen years, Agnes Wilson, of thirteen years, children of the said Gilbert-the said Thomas keeping the mountains, his two sisters, Margaret and Agnes, went secretly to Wigtown to see some friends, were there discovered, taken prisoners, and instantly thrust into the thieves' hole as the greatest malefactors; whence they were sometimes brought up to the Tolbooth, after a considerable time's imprisonment, where several others were prisoners for the like cause, particularly one Margaret Maclauchlan of Kirkinner parish, a woman of sixty-three years of age.
“ After their imprisonment for some considerable time, Mr David Graham, Sheriff, the Laird of Lagg, Major Winram, Captain Strachan, called an assize, indicted these three women, viz., Margaret Maclauchlan, Margaret Wilson, Agnes Wilson, to be guilty of the rebellion at Bothwell Bridge, Airsmoss, twenty field conventicles, and twenty house conventicles. Yet it was well known that none of these women ever were within twenty miles of Bothwell or Airsmoss; and Agnes Wilson, being eight years of age at the time of Airsmoss, could not be deep in rebellion then, nor her sister of thirteen years of and twelve years at Bothwell Bridge its time. The assize did sit, and brought them in guilty, and these judges sentenced them to be tied to palisades fixed in the sand, within the flood mark, and there to stand till the flood overflowed them and drowned them.
“They received their sentence without the least discouragement, with a composed smiling countenance, judging it their honour to suffer for Christ's truth, that He is alone King and Head of His Church, Gilbert Wilson, foresaid, got his youngest daughter, Agnes Wilson, out of prison, upon his bond of a hundred pounds sterling, to produce her when called for ; but was obliged to go to Edinburgh for this before it could be obtained. The time they were in prison, no means were unessayed with Margaret Wilson, to persuade her to take the oath of abjuration, and hear the curates, with threatenings and flattery, but without any success.
“Upon the eleventh day of May 1685, these two women, Margaret Maclauchlan and Margaret Wilson, were brought forth to execution. They did put the old woman first into the water, and when the water was overflowing her, they asked Margaret Wilson what she thought of her in that case? She answered, 'What do I see but Christ wrestling there? Think ye that we are sufferers ? No, it is Christ in us, for He sends none a warfare on their own charges.' Margaret Wilson sang Psalm xxv., from the 7th verse, read the eighth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, and did pray, and then the water covered her. But before her breath was quite gone, they pulled her up, and held her till she could speak, and then asked her if she would pray for the king. She answered that she wished the salvation of all men, but the damnation of none. Some of her relations being on the place, cried out, 'She is willing to conform,' being desirous to save her life at any rate. Upon which Major Winram offered the oath of abjuration to her, either to swear it, or return to the waters. She refused it, saying, 'I will not; I am one of Christ's children ; let me go.' And then they returned her into the water, where she finished her warfare, being a virgin martyr of eighteen years of age, suffering death for her refusing to swear the oath of abjuration and hear the curates.
“ The said Gilbert Wilson was fined for the opinion of his children, harassed with frequent quarterings of soldiers upon him, sometimes a hundred men at once, who lived at discretion on his goods, and that for several years together; and his frequent attendance in the Courts at Wigtown almost every week, at thirteen miles distance, for three years time; riding to Edinburgh on these accounts, so that his losses could not be reckoned and estimated, without doubt, not within five thousand merks, yet for no principle or action of his own ; and died in great poverty lately, a few years hence. His wife, a very aged woman, lives upon the charity of friends. His son Thomas lived to bear arms under king William in Flanders, and the castle of Edinburgh ; but had nothing to enter the ground which they possessed, where he lives to certify the truth of these things, with many others who knew them too well.”
Dr Stewart minutely examines the roll of the Sessions of Kirkinner and Penninghame, and the Presbytery of Wigtown, and shows that the different members had ample opportunities of knowing the truth of the story of the sufferings of the two martyrs which they attested.
Sheriff Napier has replied to Dr Stewart's book in his “ History Rescued in answer to History Vindicated ;" but it is not a reply. It does not set aside any of Dr Stewart's proofs that the martyrs actually were drowned. Dr Hill Burton is a writer of Whig sympa. thies; but he is an Episcopalian, and has really no bias in favour of the Covenanters, so that his judgment upon Sheriff Napier's “ History Rescued ” may be regarded as impartial. In a note appended to his “ History of Scotland," Edinburgh, 1870, vol. vii., p. 549, as it was passing through the press, he
says: “Of course this [i.e., ' History Rescued') had to be read before final correction, that it might be seen whether it contained any new and unexpected discovery. But the two hundred and seventy additional pages revealed no other discovery, save a remarkable instance of that well known frailty of heroic natures, which deprives them of the capacity of knowing that they are beaten."
As might be expected, the Wigtown martyrs have been the theme of poetry. One of the happiest of Mrs Stuart Menteith's ballads, in her “Lays of the Kirk and Covenant,” is that entitled “The Martyrs of Wigtown.” The eloquent page in Lord Macaulay's history, in which he tells the story of their end, has inspired Mr Millais to one of the best efforts of his pencil in his " Margaret Wilson," in Once a Week, some years ago.
The date “uth May 1684" is plainly a misprint for 11th May 1685. The testimony of Robert Pollock is dated January 23, 1685, and the succeeding testimony of Thomas Stodart is August 12, 1685, so that the chronological order requires 1684 to be corrected to 1685, the date on the monument in Wigtown Churchyard over the grave of Margaret Wilson.-Ed.]
PON the uth of May 1684, (1685) Margaret Lauchlane
in the parish of Kirkinner, and Margaret Wilson in Glen
vernock in the shire of Galloway, being sentenced to death for their noncompliance with prelacy, and refusing to swear the oath of abjuration, by the Laird of Lagg, [i.e., Sir Robert Grierson, Captain Strachan, Colonel [Winram] Mr David Graham, and Provost Cultron 11.1., of Wigtown), who commanded them to receive their sentence on their knees, which they refusing, were pressed down by force till iney received it: and so were by their order tied to a stake within
the sea-mark, in the water of Blednoch near Wigtown, where, after they had made them wrestle long with the waves, which flowing, swelled on them by degrees, and had sometimes thrust them under water, and then pulled them out again to see if they would recant, they enduring death with undaunted courage, yielded up their spirits to God.
The former was a widow woman of about sixty-three, of a most Christian and blameless conversation, a pattern of piety and virtue, who having constantly refused to hear the curates, was much pursued and vexed, and at length taken by the soldiers while she was devoutly worshipping God in her family, and being indicted of being at Bothwell Bridge, Airsmoss, and twenty field conventicles, and as many house conventicles, after sore and long imprisonment, without necessary refreshments of fire, bed, or diet, at length suffered this cruel death.
The other (Margaret Wilson), a young woman of scarce twentythree years
of age, after she with her brother, who was about nineteen, and her sister fifteen years old, had been long driven from their father's house, and exposed to lie in dens and caves of the earth, wandering through the mosses and mountains of Carrick, Nithsdale, and Galloway, going to Wigtown secretly to visit the foresaid Margaret Lauchlane, was taken by the fraud of one Patrick Stuart, who, under colour of friendship, having invited her and her sister to drink with him, offered them the king's health, and upon their refusal of it, as not warranted in God's Word, and contrary to Christian moderation, went presently out and informed against them; her sister was dismissed, as being but fifteen years of age, upon her father's paying a hundred pounds sterling for her ransom; she being detained and examined, whether she owned the king as head of the Church and would take the abjuration-oath ; not answering to their pleasure, but adhering to the truths of Christ, was in like manner condemned, and after great severities of imprisonment, suffered the foresaid death; being put oft into the water, and when half-dead taken up again, to see if she would take the oath, which she refused to her last breath. While her fellow sufferer was wrestling with the waves, as being put first in to discourage her; the persecutors asked her what she thought of that sight? She answered, “What do I see but Christ (mystical) wrestling there?" One of the times that she was taken out of the water they said, Say “God save the king :" she returning with Christian meekness, “I wish the salvation of all men,