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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,
but the damnation of none :" Upon which one of her friends, alleging she had said what they demanded, desired them to let her go; but they would not, seeing she refused to take the oath.
During her imprisonment she wrote a large letter to her friends, wherein, besides the lively and feeling expressions of her sense of God's love, she doth, with a judgment not usual for her age and education, disclose the unlawful nature of the Abjuration Oath, hearing of curates, owning the king's Supremacy, which was the thing the persecutors meant by his authority, and proves the necessity of her suffering upon these heads.
HE name of THOMAS STODART first occurs in Wodrow under
date July 24th, 1685, in a decree of Council containing
a list of prisoners confined in the Canongate Tolbooth, in order to be banished to his majesty's plantations abroad. Thomas Stodart, James Wilkie, Matthew Bryce, are excepted, on the ground that they "not only obstinately refused the oath of allegiance, but most impertinently and indiscreetly misbehaved themselves before the Council.” The Council further ordains that they immediately be put in irons, and grants warrant to his majesty's Advocate to process them criminally before the justices.
The three were tried on August 6th, and were found guilty of treason because they refused the Abjuration Oath. They were sentenced to be hanged at the Grassmarket, Wednesday, August 12th 1685
In his testimony, Stodart says the reason of his condemnation was that he could not give such an answer to their questions about the government and the king's authority as was satisfactory to his judges, and his refusal to disown the Apologetic Declaration. His testimony is one of much simplicity. Wodrow justly says it is very plain and natural for a common country man.
Of Matthew Bryce and James Wilkie, mentioned in the paragraph at the close of Thomas Stodart's testimony, as his fellow-sufferers, little else is known. Matthew Bryce lived in the parish of Carmunnock. Wodrow corrects the date of their execution given in the “ Cloud” as July 27th, into August 12th.—ED.]
HE LAST TESTIMONY of THOMAS STODART, who
suffered at the Grassmarket of Edinburgh, August 12th, 1685.
“MEN, BRETHREN, AND FATHERS, HEARKEN, -I being to take my farewell of the world, I leave this my dying testimony, according to the form of the Christians
of old ; I having like the same ground for it that he had who used that word ; that was Stephen ; who was condemned, because he spoke blasphemous words against the law and the temple. So, because I will not adhere to, nor approve of their laws, which now have power in their hands, they condemned me to die, though they could not witness so much against me for speaking against them, and they never essayed to prove the sentence upon me, which now I shall study in a word to give you an account of.
“And first, I received my sentence of banishment, and then notwithstanding of that I was committed to the justices to abide the assize, and they passed upon me the sentence of death, for no other cause as I can give, but because I could not give such an answer to their questions about the government and the king's authority (as they called it), as could satisfy their lusts, and that I durst not disown the Apologetic Declaration ; and so I humbly conceive it will come to this as the ground of my suffering, that I could not own Christ's enemies nor the power that they have taken to themselves against Him, nor disown Christ's friends and their actings as they required ; and therefore I am sentenced, albeit I owned as much of the authority as any Christian can be obliged to; that is to say, lawful authority according to the Word of God; but I desire to be submissive to His will who hath called me to this, and to have high thoughts of Him. I cannot get words to set Him out, but I find something to say to
the commendation of Christ, as it is said in Cant. ii. 1 : ‘He is the rose of Sharon and lily of the valley," the sweetest rose that ever I smelled, and never sweeter than when under the cross, and suffering upon His account.
“Now I shall not be long. I have told you upon what account I suffer ; it is out of love to Christ, and by faith in His mercy, that I venture upon it. I shall end it with a word. I thought it my duty to adhere to the Word of God, and to everything agreeable thereto; and I would suffer for everything as a ground which I think is right, and taken out of the Word of God, having encouragement from His blessed promises. “Thus saith the Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine. When thou passest through the waters I will be with thee' (Isa.
xliii. 1, 2).
“And I have this to say also, that in all my imprisonments He was wonderfully seen in owning me, and carrying me through all the temptations that I was trysted (i.e., visited) with ; if I would tell you them all they would take up much paper and time ; and time being short I cannot get it done ; but I think I must speak something to the commendation of free grace, that hath made me to suffer all cheerfully. I have read in the Apostle, 'It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with Him, we shall also live with Him: if we suffer, we shall also reign with Him' (2 Tim. ii. 1). It is good at all times, but especially now. O but the people of this generation be greatly involved in sin; by reason they are so greatly and deeply involved in the breach of Covenant, which though it must not be owned by the law of the land, yet I dare not but own it. I would fain say, as it is said, 'And Elijah said, As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, I will surely show myself unto him to-day' (1 Kings xviii. 15). I own it before all, and I own myself to have joined, and do allow it heartily in joining with that poor persecuted party so much disowned. The thing that I did in that case I thought it my duty. I leave my testimony to my owning of it; and that I have joined myself to that which was most agreeable to the Word of God. I leave my testimony in behalf of these that I joined with, that little handful in their societies and fellowships, which have been very refreshful to my soul, and I have been much delighted in these; for I thought it was the Church of God.
“ And therefore I leave my testimony against all superstition and