The Douglas Archives

A collection of historical and genalogical records

The curious report of a colossus standing astride the Lomond Hills in Fife is recorded in the manuscript memoirs of John Blackadder, an outlawed field preacher. He refers to the appearance of a tall, majestic figure in his account of a field conventicle in 1674:

‘There was a meeting on Lomond hills, where Mr John Wallwood, a young man, but grave and pious, and of a good understanding, preached to the meeting;’

The preaching of John Welwood (d.1679) was held in high esteem by the Society people. The location of his preaching ‘on Lomond hills’ may have been on East or West Lomond, or somewhere in the surrounding hills. In 1681, a field preaching by Donald Cargill was said to have been held at L..., however Cargill’s preaching actually took place on Devon Common, which lies to the east of East Lomond.


Blackadder continues:

‘there came a party of the life-guards, commanded, as I heard, by Adam Masterton of Grange, younger;’

John Drysdale, a weaver and one of the Society people from Bo’ness, would later attempt to assassinate Masterson of Grange as ‘an enemy of God and His people’ in December, 1680.

‘the meeting was on the hill; the troopers essayed to ride up to them, I suppose between sermons; the people stood on the face of the brae, and the soldiers shot bullets among the people, with carabins and pistells, and, as I heard, charged five or six several times; but though the ball lighted among men, women, and children, and went through some of their hair, and brake upon stones beside them, yet hurt none, which was observed as a wonder to all present;’

The miraculous passing of musket balls through hair is also reported in the cases of James Nisbet and Patrick Foreman.

The attacks by the soldiers were met with resistance. Negotiations followed:

‘the soldiers seeing the people stand still, and not stir, were forced to retire, (some of them had their horses hurt with the stones cast down from the hill), and sent to call some of the people to capitulate with, desiring them to dismiss. The people answered, they were not to stay any longer than the public worship was ended; they told them also, they could not leave the hill till they had security to get no harm from them, which they did promise, but this was kept as many other of that sort; for, after the bulk of the people were gone, the troopers fell on the hindermost, plundering and stripping them, and apprehended about 18 prisoners.’

Female Prophetesses

It is at this point that the reports of a vision of a majestic colossus protecting the field preaching appear in Blackadder’s narrative:

‘It was affirmed by some women who stayed at home, that they clearly perceived as the form of a tall man, majestick like, stand in the air, in stately posture, with the one leg as it were advanced before the other, standing above the people all the time of the soldiers’ shooting.’ (Law,Memorialls96n.)

                                       I Wonder what they had been smoking ?

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Replies to This Discussion

One of the features in the Lomond Hills is John Knox's Pulpit, so named because it is believed to be a spot where Covenanters held conventicles in the 17th century.

Falkland is a small picturesque town situated at the north foot of the East Lomond Hill, where the Covenanter Hotel is located.

The period referred to in your article are known as 'The Killing Times'.  Mark Jardine, whose article you link to, is a source of good information on those times.

 I have no doubts as to Mr. Jardines  authentic information from this era , yet one must  question  the critical thought [ or the lack there of ] applied in Blackadder's narrative, '' Visions of a majestic colossus protecting the field preaching '' 

If I remember correctly this fellow  John Drysdale ended up here in the colonies . 

'' However, John Pollock was banished to the North American colonies with John Drysdale, James Wharrey, and John Anderson on 11 October, 1681. Wodrow recorded him as ‘James’ Pollock by mistake.'' (RPCS, VII, 219; Wodrow, History, III, 269.)   

I found an earlier Drysdale , James put here in Virginia 

Reference to James Drysdale, in the year  1665.............. p.547 Howell Pryse hath proved right by testimony produced to 750 acres of Land for the importacon [importation to Virginia] of Edmond Vickery , James King , Richd Newman , Tho. Morris , William Cooper , Willm Reynolds , James Drysdale............... Drysdale , for instance, with the undignified pronunciation of ''Drizzle'' ....... B.F.

                                                           Virginia Colonial Abstracts vol. 3 

Virginia was some what bigger then .

 I ran across this reference  in wikipedia  so ...... William Blackadder was among the supporters of Mary, Queen of Scots at the Battle of Carberry Hill (15 June 1567). He was arrested soon after and hanged in June, and his brother was hanged in September.The last Blackadder to own Tulliallan was Sir John, born in 1596 and on 18 July 1626 created a knight baronet of Nova Scotia by King Charles I of England. His estate, with lime works, salt pans and other enterprises, yielded an income of 36,000 merks annually, but this was not enough to satisfy Sir John's expensive habits and he ran up debts far beyond his ability to pay. When his effects were seized he fled to the continent, and in 1642 seems to have been in the French service. He died in America in 1651. Sir John's wife, Elizabeth Graham, was the daughter of the Earl of Menteith. She had an annuity of 360 merks, and lived at Tulliallan until 1662. His son, Alexander, could not free the estate from the burden of debts that his father had contracted. The Court of Session ordered a judicial sale. In 1700 the estate was purchased by Colonel John Erskine, son of David Erskine, 4th Lord Cardross. The celebrated covenanting preacher John Blackadder (1622-1685) was legally the heir to the Blackadder baronetcy, but did not claim the title.   

This appears to possibly  be the same John Blackadder who wrote the narrative  above .

William Drysdale , Helen Renny , son William b. 1755 

note : a Robert Blackadder  is named in William son of William Drysdale's record .


Making conections

The more information you can give about the people you mention, the more chance there is of someone else connecting with your family.

Dates and places of births, deaths and marriages all help to place families.

Professions also help.

'My great-grandmother mother was a Douglas from Montrose' does not give many clues to follow up! But a bit of flesh on the bones makes further research possible. But if we are told who she married, what his profession was and where the children were baptised, then we can get to work.

Maybe it is time to update the information in your profile?

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