Religion and Politics v.2
GLRP: Religious and Political Background
Although the specific grievances which prompted the uprising of the Galloway Levellers in 1724 were social and economic; the eviction of tenants, cottars and crofters as a consequence of the conversion of arable farmland to enclosed pastures, religious and political factors were also significant. In the 17th century the influence of religion on the body politic of south west Scotland spilled over into armed insurrection against the Stuarts. On 17th February 1688, James Renwick of Moniaive was executed in Edinburgh. Renwick's death left the fundamentalist Covenanters – the United Societies or Cameronians – leaderless. However, on 10th June 1688, James VII/II 's wife Mary gave birth to a son. James was a Roman Catholic and the prospect of him establishing a Roman Catholic dynasty spread opposition to James' rule far beyond the “Poor, wasted, misrepresented, Remnant of the Suffering, Anti-Popish, Anti-Prelatick, Anti-Erastian, Anti-Sectarian, True Presbyterian Church” as Renwick and the United Societies described themselves.
This more significant opposition to James led to the unopposed landing of William of Orange's invasion fleet at Torbay in Devon on 5th November 1688. Although at first James hoped his army would defeat William's he soon realised this was a futile hope. James then decided to flee to France. His first attempt on 11th December failed, but on 23rd December 1688 he succeeded. The national collapse of James' regime was swiftly followed at local level. Indeed, even before William of Orange had landed, Dumfries' provost had vanished from the scene. This provost, John Maxwell of Barncleuch, was a distant relative of Robert Maxwell, 4th Earl of Nithsdale, and like Robert Maxwell, John Maxwell was a Roman Catholic supporter of James VII/II who directly appointed him as provost of Dumfries in 1687.
The Council having met on the 6th of January in the above year, John Maxwell of Barncleugh, Irongray, presented two Acts of the Privy Council dated the 16th of December, 1686, in one of which he was nominated by them as Provost of Dumfries, and the existing bailies, dean, treasurer, and councillors were authorized to continue officiating as such for the ensuing year. The other Act was in the following terms:-" Whereas the Lords of his Majestie's Privy Counsell have by their act of the date heirof, pursueant to a letter direct to them from the King's most excellent Majestie, nominat and appointed the magistrats and other counsellors therein mentioned for the Brugh of Drumfreis, and particularly John Maxwell of Barncleugh to be proveist thereof, with the dispensatione after mentioned; therefore the said Lords doe heirby require and command the said John Maxwell to be entered and admitted proveist of the said Brugh without taking the Test, or any other oath, prescribed by law, except the oath de fideli administratione, conforme to his Majestie's said letter." [McDowall: 1886]
A similar letter from the Privy Council confirmed John Maxwell as provost for 1688, however as McDowall goes on to relate :
News of Prince William's landing having reached the town, a sympathizing crowd of the inhabitants gathered in the market place on the evening of the 17th of December, and proceeded noisily through some of the streets. We cannot tell whether or not they threatened the magistrates, or passed revolutionary resolutions: they must, however, in some highly significant way have shown their antipathy to the ruling powers, and their sympathy with the Prince's movement, since Provost Maxwell no more ventured to appear at the Council Board, and the Bailies had to organize an armed force for the purpose of preserving the peace of the town. Before the month closed, the Revolution was received by the nation as an accomplished fact; and Dumfries, like other parts of Scotland, was once more in the enjoyment of religious and municipal freedom-exempt at once from the scourge of the Persecution and the Papal incubus.
The first evidence of this happy change is supplied by a minute of the Town Council, dated 26th December, from which we learn that on that day a letter was received by the civic body from Lord Athole, President of the reconstructed Privy Council, restoring to the burghal representatives of Dumfries the right to elect their own magistrates. We subjoin the substance of this important communication:- "Gentlemen, -His Majestie's Privy Council understanding that, in the late nominatione of magistrats and counsell for your brugh, Papists have been imployed in offices of power and trust among you, which may occasion fears and jealousies, to the indangering of the peace and quiet, and the Counsell being willing to remove any ground of such fears, have thought fitt heirby to authorize the magistrats and Town Counsell who were in before any such nominatione, and were legally chosen by your predecessores, to meit and choose magistrats and Counsell for the ensuing year, conforme to the custome and constitution of your brugh: for doeing whereof this shall be to you, and all who may be heirin concerned, a sufficient warrant." [Town Council Minutes.]
In accordance with these instructions, the Council, on the following day, by " a plurality of votes," chose the Presbyterian Laird of Duchrae, Mr. William Craik, who had ruled over the Burgh before, as Provost, and they superseded six members by appointing other six in whom they had more confidence. The radical change thus effected in the government of the town, caused considerable commotion among the Romanist party. For the "care and diligence shown by the authorities in preventing threatened disturbances," they received a letter of thanks from the Privy Council, which communication closed in these terms:-
We "doe aprove of your procedure in this affair, and look upon it as good and acceptable service at such a dangerous juncture as this, and alowes you to detaine as prisoners in your tolbuith thos persones apprehended be you on this account, except the Laird of Barncleugh, your late proveist, who is to be sent hither prisoner by the gentry of your shire, by order of the Laird of Lag, [We thus see that Sir Robert Grierson managed, in spite of his past misdeeds, to gain favour from the revolution Government; which may be accounted for by the circumstance that he was brother-in-law to the abler but almost equally pliant Queensberry, as well as by the necessities of the new Administration.] and others who have the Counsell's former commands anent him; and the Counsell doe heirby give order and warrant to Lag and Closeburn, or any two of your Toune counsell, to sight what is in the said Barncleugh's cloak-bag, found with him, for his disguise, and to delyver to him such papers therein as properly belong to himselfe ; and such as pertaine to your toune, to you ; and such as belong to the public, to be sent, under your sealls, to the clerke of counsell. Your cair and diligence for the future, to prevent troubles and to keip peace amongst yourselves, and keiping your toune in a conditione of defence for the Protestant religion and security of the kingdom, is expected, ther being ane frie electione allowed you by the counsell, in whose name this is signified to you by your humble servant, ATHOLE." [Town Council Minutes.]
On the 9th of January, 1689, the new Town Council met under the presidency of Provost Craik, and gave orders that the Prince of Orange should be proclaimed King at the Market Cross. This ceremony, however, was not performed till the 24th of April, in order, probably, that due time might be given for rendering it imposing. [McDowall:1886]
The delay in the Dumfries ceremony noted by McDowall may owe more to the fact that William did not officially become king of England and Ireland until 11th February 1689 and did not become king of Scotland until 11th April 1689 rather than the need to render the ceremony imposing. In deciding to proclaim the Prince of Orange king on 9th January, Dumfries' new Town Council were acting somewhat prematurely. The haste with which the revolution of 1688/89 was carried through in Dumfries was reflected across south west Scotland. In particular, as Mackenzie puts it (in language no less partisan than McDowall's):
The Episcopal clergy, who had been the authors in the south of much of the suffering of the inhabitants, now began to feel the effects of retaliation. They were now insulted and carried round their parishes in mock processions; while the people violently upbraided them for their cruel conduct, and prohibited them from preaching: such scenes often closed with the burning of their gowns or effigies. Though these excesses were seriously to be lamented and seriously to be reprobated; how innocent do they appear when put in the balance against the heart-rending barbarities - the wanton atrocities - the diabolical inhumanities, - which the Episcopalians had perpetrated. But, though some incidental ebullitions of popular resentment were exhibited ; yet, in the hour of triumph, the very men who had been harassed with every species of outrage, disgraced not themselves by inflicting upon their oppressors any personal violence, or by committing any sanguinary murders.
John Gordon, Bishop of Galloway now retired into France, and the first meeting of the presbyterian clergymen within the bounds of the Synod of Galloway, took place at Minnigaff, on the 14th may 1689. Few of the ministers who had possessed parochial charges before the Restoration were present; but a number of preachers from Ireland attended the meeting, who afterwards received appointments to vacant parishes. [Mackenzie:1844]
A further feature of the revolution was the recovery of forfeited lands. In some cases this was straightforward. Following his death at the Battle of Killiecrankie in June 1689, John Graham of Claverhouse was not in a position to dispute the forfeit estate of Freugh in Wigtownshire with its previous owners, the MacDowalls. In the Stewartry parish of Urr, George McCartney was able to recover the lands of Blaiket. For Robert McClellan of Barmagachan in the Stewartry parish of Borgue the process was more complicated. Having fought as a Covenanter at the battles of Rullion Green, Drumclog and Bothwell Brig, he was eventually captured in 1685 and transported to New Jersey. In 1689 he attempted to return to Scotland but his ship was captured by the French and he did not return to reclaim Barmagachan until 1691 .[Torrance: 1993, Morton: 1914] John Broun of Mollance (in the Stewartry parish of Crossmichael) had to wait until 1698 before a final 'mutual discharge' was agreed between himself and James, son of Thomas, Lidderdale which restored him to Mollance which had been claimed by Stuart loyalist Thomas Lidderdale in 1685.[KSCD 3110ii]
Significant losers post 1688 were the Maxwells. Stuart loyalists and Roman Catholics, they had had been subject to punitive fines and forfeiture of land during the years of Covenanter and Cromwellian ascendancy.
On the restoration of Charles II. the Earl [Robert Maxwell, 2nd Earl of Nithsdale]was persuaded by the urgent advice of his friends to go up to London, and submit to the King a statement of the injuries which had been inflicted on him and his father in consequence of their exertions in the royal cause, and to press on his Majesty his claims for compensation. The amount spent on maintaining the castle of Carlaverock, the destruction of the 'haill moveables and plenishing' of that stronghold, the College of Lincluden, and the castles of Dumfries and Thrieve, together with the rents uplifted during the disturbances, amounted, he alleged, to more than £40,000 sterling. But with the characteristic ingratitude of the Stewarts, the claims of the Earl were neglected, and no compensation appears ever to have been made to him. [Taylor: 1887]
John Maxwell, who became 3rd earl of Nithsdale in 1667 made a similar claim for compensation to the Scottish Privy Council for £77,322 12s. Scots, but again this met with no response. John was succeeded by his son Robert in 1677. Robert:
received repeated commissions from the Privy Council to apprehend outed ministers, or preachers who kept conventicles, or substantial persons who had been present at them, and various communications passed between him and the notorious persecutor, John Graham of Claverhouse, regarding the measures which they adopted in carrying out the instructions of the Government. Lord Nithsdale was rewarded for his services with a grant from King Charles of £200 a year, which was subsequently exchanged for a grant of as much land out of the forfeited estates of the Covenanters, within the county of Wigton and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, as would yield a free yearly rent of 4,000 merks Scots (£228 14s. sterling) besides the payment of such a portion of his annual rent as was then in arrears. The forfeited estates of Alexander Hunter of Colquhasben, in the parish of Old Luce, was given to the Countess of Nithsdale, and not less than seventeen other forfeited estates of Covenanting lairds were gifted to the sons of Lord Nithsdale, and retained by them until the Revolution of 1688. [Taylor:1887]
Somewhat confusingly, whilst members of the Roman Catholic Maxwell family were significant supporters of the Stuarts, members of the Episcopalian Synod of Galloway (established by Charles II) were attempting to convert them.
Act anent papist excommunicate or not excommunicate: Nov 1 1665
The Bishop and Synod being informed that there are many Papists with the bounds of the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright, as also that many of them are lying under the sentence of excommunication. Therefore the Bishop and Synod ordaines that the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright deale with such as have been excommunicated to see, if they desire to be relaxed and embrace the reformed Religion… And as for such papists as are not excommunicate, the Bishop and Synod ordaines the presbytery of Kirkcudbright, to appoint such of their brethren , as they shall think fit, to confer with them...
List of Roman Catholics ‘ excommunicate‘ by parish: 1666
The Laird of Parton, elder [see below]
William Browne of Nunton
Elizabeth Maxwell, Lady Milltowne
Katharine Browne spouse to John McCairtnie of Haccetlies
Robert Maxwell of Breoch and his wife
List of Roman Catholics ‘not yet excommunicate‘ by parish: 1667
John Williamson in Kirkennan and his wife
John Maxwell of Brakenside and Alexander Maxwell his brother
Margaret Vans, Lady Brakenside
James Cannon of Kirkennan
Margaret Hamilton, wife to Gilbert McCairtney of Hacketlies
(Margaret Wightman, servant to young Haccetlies - from 1666 list)
Edward Maxwell in Breoch and his wife.
Isobell Seaton, Lady Parton
James Glendoning, Robert Glendoning and Agnes Glendoning, children to John Glendoning, Laird of Parton (himself being excommunicate twentie four years since by Alexander Irving, then minister)
John Glendoning, taylor in Parton
James Gordon in Markland -suspect.
Rerrick (Rerwick/ Dundrennan)
Richard Brown in Barclay
John Hutton in Carlingwark
--- Hutcheson, wife to James Blair
From The Register of the Synod of Galloway : October 1664 to April 1671: published by J. Nicholson: Kirkcudbright: 1856
The situation in Buittle parish was complicated by ‘sundry scandals generally reported against William Harvey, minister there’ - Harvey was alleged to have 'granted the benefit of marriage to a man lying under the gross scandal of bestiality'. The ability of the Synod to tackle the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright's ‘papist problem’ was hindered by another problem - “the work of the ministry, hath been exceedingly retarded by unlawfull meetings and conventicles, as also that it will be of dangerous consequence if they be tolerated and the keepers thereof escape unpunished…” .
In 1704, nearly forty years after the Episcopalians had addressed themselves to the persistence of the Roman Catholic heresy in the Stewartry, William Tod, Presbyterian minister of Buittle compiled a list of 67 Roman Catholics in the parish – roughly 10% of the population. From 1745 until 1811, when a Roman Catholic chapel was opened in Dalbeattie, registers of Roman Catholic Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths were kept at Munches. The William and George Maxwell recorded as 'about 14 years of age, now in France' took part in the local Jacobite Uprising in 1715. The town of Dalbeattie was co-founded by George, son of William Maxwell the Jacobite, in 1780.
John Maxwell of Breckonside, ecumenical..
John Davison, his servant, appostal.
Barbara Maxwell, relict of the deceased George Maxwell of Munches, appostal.
George Maxwell of Munches, appostal.
Katherine Maxwell, his spouse.
William Maxwell, his son, about 14 years of age, now in France.
George Maxwell, his son, about 14 years of age, now in France.
James Maxwell, his son, about 8 years of age.
Barbara Maxwell, his daughter, about 12 years of age.
Katherine Maxwell, his daughter, about 10 years of age.
John McGirr, servant to the said George Maxwell, appostal.
Mary Smith, his servant.
Margaret Wilson, his servant.
Margaret Tait, his servant.
Robert Maxwell, of Miltoune.
Francis Maxwell, of Breock.
Mary Maxwell, his spouse.
Margaret Maxwell, his daughter, about 6 years of age.
Barbara Maxwell, spouse to Alexander Maxwell, of Balmangan.
Edward Wilson, woodfeller, Burntstick.
Robert Wilson, his son, about 8 years of age.
Anna Wilson, his daughter, about 4 years of age.
Alexander Wilson, his son, about 2 years of age.
Robert Grercie? tenant in Coole, appostal.
Janet Laurie, his spouse.
James Grercie, his son, about 14 years of age.
John Grercie, his son about 12 years of age.
Agnes Grercie, his daughter, about 20 years of age.
Margaret Grercie, his daughter, about 10 years of age.
Thomas Coupland, cottar in Munches, appostal.
Agnes Thomson, his spouse, appostal.
George Coupland, his son, about 21 years of age.
William Coupland, his son, about 18 years of age.
John Coupland, his son, about 15 years of age.
Janet Coupland, his daughter, about 20 years of age.
Margaret Coupland, his daughter, about 13 years of age
Thomas Coupland, his son, about 10 years of age.
George Coupland, cottar in Munches.
Mary Wilson, his spouse.
William Coupland, his son, about 10 years of age.
James Coupland, his son, about 7 years of age.
Janet Coupland, his daughter, about 13 years of age.
Barbara Coupland, about 5 years of age.
George Porter, cottar in the Munches
Elizabeth Wilson, his spouse.
Janet Porter, his daughter, about 12 years of age.
Alexander Porter, his son, about 10 years of age.
James Wilson, cottar in the Munches.
Marion ------, his spouse, appostal.
James Wilson, his son.
Agnes Wilson, his daughter.
James Corsbie, cottar in the Munches.
Isobel Crosbie, his spouse, appostal.
Andrew Crosbie, his son.
Janet Crosbie, his daughter.
Elizabeth Maxwell, relict of the deceased William Coutart, cottar in Barlochan.
James Coutart, her son.
David Maxwell, cottar in Orchardtoun.
George Wilson, Taylor, appostal.
Barbara Wilson, his spouse.
Robert Hanna, his servant.
George Blair, his servant, appostal.
Margaret Haigble (?), in Orchardtoune, appostal.
Robert Thomson, her son.
Margaret Graham, relict of the deceased John Gordon in Garden.
Janet Thomson, her servant.
Thomas Couplant, cottar in Buittle, appostal.
Sarah Wilson, his spouse, appostal.
Nicolas Coupland, spouse to George Knish, weaver.
Although no similarly detailed lists of Roman Catholics exist for other parishes, on 24th December 1703 in Terregles parish, the house of William Maxwell, 5th earl of Nithsdale, was attacked by ' a fanatical mob of upwards of a hundred persons...under cloud of night, armed with guns, and swords and other weapons and under the pretence of searching for priests and Jesuits'. The earl took criminal proceedings against the ringleaders – the Presbyterian ministers of Irongray, Torthorwald, Kirkmahoe and Tinwald. The minister of Irongray countered by accusing the Earl of Nithsdale and Maxwell of Kirkconnel (New Abbey parish) 'of hearing Mass in secret and harbouring Jesuits, priests and trafficking papists'. [Taylor: Great Historic Families of Scotland:1887].
But whilst the ministers of Buittle, Irongray, Torthorwald, Kirkmahoe and Tinwald were busily pursuing those outwith the restored Presbyterian Kirk of Scotland, some of their fellow ministers were more concerned by failings within the body of the Kirk. In particular, the religious concerns of John McMillan of Balmaghie and John Hepburn of Urr have a bearing on the political climate of the time, which in turn influenced the Galloway Levellers' collective and social response to the economic situation they confronted in 1724.
John McMillan- the Standard Bearer
In 1638, copies of the National Covenant were signed by the adult male parishioners of Borgue and Minnigaff. These survive and Morton  lists the signatories. In Minnigaff, the National Covenant was signed by 27 McMillans. Although Reid  was unable to confirm the details, John McMillan was probably born in 1669 at Barncaughla farm NX 44 68 in Minnigaff parish. His family appear to have been members of the United Societies, followers of Richard Cameron who was killed at Airds Moss in Ayrshire in 1680. In 1695, aged 26 ( if he was born in 1669), McMillan became a 'mature' student at Edinburgh University, graduating in 1697.
McMillan now took a step which he afterwards regretted keenly, although he maintained that his motives were pure. He “broke off” from his Society connections in Kells or Minnigaff, as well as at college, and began to attend the parish church...He had decided to give the Established Church a trial. There alone he could obtain the needful training and license to preach. In the Societies there was no hope of either, for they now held a strictly negative attitude, training no ministers, and simply waiting on events. [Reid:1896]
McMillan then studied to become a minister of the Established Church of Scotland. Completing his studies in 1700, he became chaplain to John Murray of Cally in Girthon parish. In September 1701 John McMillan was chosen as minister of Balmaghie parish, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright. McMillan remained at Balmaghie until May 1727, however, although McMillan continued to occupy the manse and church of Balmaghie, from 1703 he did so illegally, having been expelled from the Established Church of Scotland in December 1703. After finally quitting Balmaghie in 1727, Mcmillan moved to Eastshields in the Lanarkshire parish of Carnwath, having accepted an offer to become minister to the United Societies. In 1743, McMillan was joined by another minister, Thomas Nairn and together they founded the Reformed Presbyterian Church. McMillan died in 1747.
In his biography of McMillan, 'A Cameronian Apostle', Reid  provides a very detailed discussion (including an appendix containing 50 pages of original documents)of the conflict between McMillan and the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright which led to McMillan's expulsion from the Established Church. The theological and procedural niceties of the conflict are difficult to summarise, but seem to focus on the failure of the 1690 Revolution Settlement, which established (or re-established) the Church of Scotland as a Presbyterian rather than Episcopalian church to include a renewal of the National Covenant of 1638 and the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643 as part of the essential fabric of the national church. Between the 26th and 28th July 1712, at Auchensaugh Hill NS 85 27 near Douglas in south Lanarkshire, a group of between 1000 and 1700 people led by McMillan renewed these Covenants. MacMillan formally debarred both Queen Anne and members of the newly formed United Kingdom parliament from attendance.
McMillan's return to the fold of the 'suffering remnant' had followed on from his expulsion from the Established Church. In April 1704, a general meeting of the United Societies at Crawfordjohn favourably considered a letter from McMillan desiring a conference with its members. Negotiations were protracted, but in December 1706 was asked to become minister to 'the United Societies and General Correspondences of the Suffering Remnant of the true Presbyterian Church of Christ in Scotland, England and Ireland'. With the support of the United Societies, McMillan's position in Balmghie was strengthened. Having expelled McMillan, the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright assumed he would quit Balmaghie. But he did not. With support of the overwhelming majority of his parishioners, McMillan refused to leave. Several attempts were then made to forcibly remove him. For example, in August 1708, the heritors of the 16 parishes in the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright were summoned to meet at Carlingwark (now Castle Douglas). This force of about 100 then proceeded to Balmaghie in an attempt to evict McMillan. Opposed by an even larger group of men (armed with swords and pistols) and women posted around the church, the heritors had to withdraw.
That which overawed and discomfited the authorities, ecclesiastical and civil, was the fact that all over Galloway, and in Dumfriesshire and Ayrshire, there were bodies of men prepared to act on the old Cameronian lines, by making,if necessary, armed demonstrations against McMillan's ejection. This is no mere conjecture, startling as the statement may seem. In the Societies' minute at Crawfordjohn May 3, 1708, there is an entry which has a significant air in this connection: -”Concluded that each man capable in our Societies provide arms sufficient and have them always in good case, with ammunition conformable; and that each correspondence supply those that are not able to furnish themselves. And likewise that some be appointed in each correspondence to sight the arms and ammunition and the foresaids to be kept private till further allowance and necessity.”[Reid:1896]
In addition to potential armed support from the United Societies in Lanarkshire, McMillan was also able to draw on similar support from the followers John Hepburn of Urr and, at least initially, spiritual aid from John Reid, minister of Carsphairn parish and William Tod, minister of Buittle parish and compiler of the 1704 list of Roman Catholics above.
Ironically, McMillan's strongest ecclesiastical opponent was Andrew Cameron, minister of Kirkcudbright. Andrew Cameron was brother to the Covenanter, Richard Cameron. In his contendings with McMillan, Andrew Cameron was strongly supported by William Boyd, minister of Dalry. Boyd was a former member of the United Societies. During the Episcopalian supremacy the United Societies arranged for him to be sent to Holland (along with Alexander Shields, Thomas Lining and James Renwick) as a minister. Boyd was befriended by William of Orange and was with William when he landed at Torbay in 1688. Other opponents of McMillan within the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright were James Monteith of Borgue (who had joined the defenders of Londonderry in 1689) and William Falconer of Kelton. Monteith and Falconer were accused of sympathising with the Galloway Levellers in 1724.
McMillan's opponents then, were hardly closet Epsicopalians. No Episcopalian ministers survived the post- revolution 'rabbling of the curates' in Dumfries and Galloway, although from 1690 onwards an 'Episcopal Society' met in Sir Robert Grierson of Lag's house in Dumfries.
Rather they were converts to the moderate Presbyterianism advocated by William Carstares “Principal of Edinburgh University, meddler par excellence in affairs of kirk and state and political fixer of Scottish administrations for William of Orange” [Macinnes:2007]. Although rapidly engulfed in a series of accusations ('libels') and counter-accusations, it was the death of William of Orange on 28th March 1702 and the subsequent requirement by the Scottish privy council that all ministers swear an oath of Allegiance to Queen Anne and her government which led McMillan ask if the Church of Scotland had become subservient to the civil power. This 'Erastian' heresy, in which the law of kings trumped the laws of god was the fundamental religious principle against which the Covenanters had fought so long and hard. In defence of this fundamental religious principle, McMillan was ultimately prepared to abandon even his loyal parishioners in Balmaghie to celebrate and renew the Covenants with the 'Suffering Remnant of the true Prebysterian Church' in the bleak moorlands of Lanarkshire.
For his opponents, of whom Cameron and Boyd had once been part of that same 'Suffering Remnant', McMillan's inability to move beyond the martyrology and theology of the 'Killing Times' was the problem. As Reid points out, in his responses (on behalf of the Presbytery of Kirkcudbright) to McMillan's 'Grievances', although the best educated and most effective member of the Presbytery, Andrew Cameron struggled to make headway against McMillan's dense theological arguments. The Oath of Allegiance to Queen Anne and the failure of the restored and established Church of Scotland to renew the Covenants were part of a political rather than religious process. The political background to this local dispute was that of a very real Jacobite threat to the recent revolution, the negotiations which led to the Union of Parliaments and the War of Spanish Succession (1701 – 1714). Although reduced in numbers ( e.g. by the Battle of Dunkeld in 1689) from their heyday in the 1683s, when Reid reports a claim by William Gordon of Earlston that the United Societies could muster 7000 armed men, they still represented a potential military threat to the status quo.
It is perhaps fortunate then that John McMillan was so deeply religious, leading his people to the possession of a spiritual rather than physical kingdom. Initial preparations for the renewal of the Covenants on Auchensaugh Moor in July 1712 advised that “all have their arms in readiness” but Reid  suggests that “probably McMillan received some private assurances of protection and immunity” and was thus able to persuade the Suffering Remnant to assemble unarmed. Although the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715 led to a brief resurgence of armed readiness, under McMillan's guidance, the Suffering Remnant's' swords and guns were henceforth, if not beaten into ploughshares, at least allowed to gather rust.
John Hepburn of Urr – 'aye jouking'
Although at times an ally of John McMillan, John Hepburn was of a very different, even Erastian (I.e. Political) character. Hepburn was the son of a Morayshire farmer and graduated from Aberdeen University in 1669. As he later admitted, he came from an Episcopalian family but “left the Episcopal party because the Bishop of Aberdeen preferred another before me to a good school” He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in London in 1678. In 1680 he was preaching in the parish of Urr, but Hepburn returned to London in 1683, when he was implicated in the Ryehouse Plot, which was an alleged attempt to assassinate Charles II and his bother James. In November 1683, 12 or 13 Scots prisoners, including John Hepburn and William Carstares were sent by sea to Edinburgh and imprisoned in the Tolbooth there. For lack of evidence he was released and returned to Galloway where he was asked to become minister of Urr in 1686. After Urr's Episcopalian curate was rabbled-out in 1689, Hepburn replaced him. Before 1689, Hepburn's preaching in Urr would have been illegal, but he seems to have avoided the attentions of John Graham of Claverhouse and Robert Grierson of Lag. Reid  suggests 'some degree of immunity may also have flowed from his own diplomatic ways' and quotes the testimony of Robert Smith, a student of divinity who died aged 58 in 1724.
Of Mr. Hepburn, I say, if he had been as clear, tender and distinct the cause and testimony as he was said to be tender in his walk, the Lord might have honoured him. But because he ay joucked [dodged] to the leeside in persecution, and out of persecution and pushed at the more tender and straight in the testimony, with head and shoulder -I fear his name may not be honoured among Scotland's worthies.
Although Hepburn's “jouking” skills made him more than a match for the Presbytery of Dumfries (which oversaw parishes in the Stewartry of Kirkudbright east of the river Urr) his 'Third Way' between passive conformity and active nonconformity (e.g. John McMillan's position) still brought him into conflict with the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and the Scottish Privy Council. In 1690 Hepburn and his followers presented a 'Memorial of Grievance' to the General Assembly which complained that no action had been taken against ministers and others who were guilty of 'sinful compliance with the late regime', that the Covenants had not been renewed (one of McMillan's later complaints), that some Episcopalian curates remained in post and that many 'malignants' retained office in Church and State. “A soft answer came from the committee, but no redress ensued.”. [Reid:1920]
In 1693, 'commissioned by his followers' (who included George McCartney of Blaiket -see above), Hepburn delivered a similar Memorial to James Johnston, Secretary of State for Scotland which brought him into conflict with General Assembly of the Church of Scotland who suspended him in 1696. In the same year, he was summoned to appear before the Privy Council, since Lord Advocate Sir James Stewart believed there was 'treason' in the Memorial and as a result Hepburn found himself once more a prisoner in Edinburgh's Tolbooth. During the period of Hepburn's suspension as minister of Urr, Dumfries Presbytery appointed Andrew Reid to Urr. The parishioners of Urr, like those of Balmaghie later, made it impossible for Reid to preach and they “barricaded the Church door, drove his horse through the corn-fields robbed him of his bridle and one of his stirrups and called him a soul-murderer and other abusive names” [Frew:1909]. Restored to Urr in 1699, he was suspended again in 1705, but this time, like McMillan, refused to quit the parish. In 1707 he was re-instated as minister of Urr and remained, unlike McMillan, a minister of the Established kirk until his death in 1723.
Unlike McMillan, Hepburn actively intervened in the political affairs of the time. The most well known of these interventions occurred on 20th November 1706. In a rather theatrical, almost Situationist, action, Hepburn gathered together a group of his followers and occupied the centre of Dumfries. Here they lit a fire and burnt copies of the Articles of Union at the Mercat Cross, followed by a list of the names of the Commissioners. As this list was consigned to the flames, Hepburn is alleged to have cried out “thus may all traitors perish”. Finally, echoing the actions of Richard Cameron and his followers who fixed a copy of their Declaration to mercat cross of Sanquhar on 22nd June in 1680, “An Account of the Burning of the Article of Union at Dumfries “ was attached to the cross. Hepburn had thoughtfully had several copies of this document printed up beforehand which (unlike the Sanquhar Declaration) itself contains a description of the event - which had not yet occurred:
This was publickly read from the Mercat Cross of Dumfries about one of the clock in the afternoon,the 20th day of November, 1706, with great solemnity, in the audience of many thousands; the fire being surrounded with double squadrons of Foot and Horse in martial order: And after the Burning of the said Books (which were holden up Burning on the point of a Pike, to the view of all the people, giving their consent by Hussa's and Cheerful acclimations). A Coppy herof was left affixed on the cross, as a Testimony of the South part of this nation against the proposed Union, as Moulded in the printed Articles therof. This we desire to be printed and kept in record ad futuram rei memorium.
On 29th of November a report, including letter from the Magistrates of Dumfries giving an account of the disturbances, was presented to Parliament by the Lord Chancellor, James Ogilvy, earl of Seafield. A Proclamation against all 'tumultuary and irregular meetings and convocation of lieges' was then passed and 'the said scurrilous print' was ordered to be burnt by the common hangman at the Mercat Cross of Edinburgh. [Whitelaw: 1907] Although Defoe  as a pro-Union propagandist did his best to minimise the numbers involved and its importance, Hepburn and the protest of 20th November 1706 are at least mentioned in recent accounts of the Union of 1707 [Fry: 2006, Whately : 2006, Macinnes: 2007]. In November 2006, Michael Russell -currently Minister of Environment, then prospective SNP candidate for Dumfriesshire - celebrated Hepburn's actions at the site of the Mercat Cross in somewhat more low key and democratic manner.
Macinnes  mistakenly calls Hepburn 'John Hebron', a confusion arising from the fact that Hepburn's party were called Hebronites. Reid  suggests this was a pun based on the local pronunciation of Hepburn (I.e. as 'Heb'rn' )and the biblical city of Hebron. This city was, supposedly, the burial place of the patriarchs Abraham, Issac and Jacob [Genesis] and was made his capital by David after the death of Saul[2nd Samuel]. It was also [ 2nd Samuel 5:3]at Hebron that David made a 'league' (or 'covenant' in some translations) with the elders of Israel:
So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the LORD: and they anointed David king over Israel. [King James bible]
So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and King David made a covenant with them before the LORD at Hebron; then they anointed David king over Israel. [New American Standard bible.]
Hebron was also the place where Abraham renewed his Covenant with God, after separating from Lot.
13:12 Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom.
13:13 But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the LORD exceedingly.
13:14 And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: 13:15 For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever.
13:16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered.
13:17 Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee.
13:18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD. [Genesis: 13: King James bible]
This association between Hebron and renewals of the Covenant between Israel and God would have had particular resonance in the years between 1689 and McMillan's renewal of the Covenants at Auchensaugh in 1712, a renewal which Hepburn failed to carry out. This would have given the punning description of Hepburn's followers as 'Hebronites' a sting in the tail, especially if coined by one of McMillan's party.
Whilst some of the more extreme Presbyterians may have considered post Revolution Scotland as a nation blighted by God through the failure to renew the Covenants, the Jacobites had an alternative explanation, linked to the famine which accompanied the last years of William's reign. For the Jacobites, this famine seemed a form of retribution linked to “ a fertility myth, which associated the Stuarts with a golden age of plenty. The suggestion was that the restoration of the sacred monarchy was a precondition for the resumption of normal relations between God and His disloyal people Israel /Scotland”. [Pittock: 1991]
In 1715, an attempt was made to restore this 'sacred monarchy'. Whilst the main events of this attempted restoration occurred outwith south west Scotland, the town of Dumfries was threatened by Jacobite forces in October 1715. John Hepburn and the Hebronites took an active, if ambiguous role in these events. On the 31st October 1715, Hepburn and 300 armed Hebronites arrived at Corbelly Hill(ironically later the site of a Roman Catholic nunnery) on the west bank of the Nith and offered their support to the Town Council of Dumfries. However this offer of support came with numerous conditions, none of which could be met and so Hepburn and the Hebronites did not enter the town. In the event, deterred by defences erected by its inhabitants, the Jacobite forces decided against an assault on Dumfries. Although it is difficult to believe that Hepburn would have sided with the Jacobites in 1715, in 1720 Hepburn was accused of secretly being a Jesuit and hence Jacobite supporter. This claim was made by William Veitch, minister of Dumfries in a pamphlet published in Dumfries by Peter Rae, minister of Kirkconnel, author and publisher (with his son Robert) of a 'History of the Late Rebellion' .
Hepburn fiercely denied this claim, but for Veitch (born 1640 and with impeccable Covenanting credentials-see Howie: ed. Carslaw: 1870] and Rae, Hepburn's ability to recruit two Dumfriesshire ministers – Taylor of Wamphray and Gilchrist of Dunscore – to his party, made him as much a threat to the unity of the Presbytery of Dumfries as MacMillan was to that of Kirkcudbright. Although both Taylor and Gilchrist were eventually deposed for 'scandalous practices other than ecclesiastical, but not before their parishioners, in 1718, had armed themselves and treated intruders as McMillan's had done at an earlier date'. [Reid: 1920].