2016 Drumclog Conventicle

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5th June 2016

TODAY ….. 337 years and 5 days aifter the Battle at Drumclog mair than 100 folk turned up for a Conventicle in memory o the Covenanters stand against John Graham o Claverhoose and his royalist troopers. It wis a success fur the Covenanters but sadly their only success that year. In a maitter o weeks Claverhoose wud hae his revenge fur bein chased awa.
This aifternoon the sun shone on a motley crowd o aw ages. Psalms were sung, prayers said, a challengin few words thrown at us by the meenister and then we aw luked back at the field and fell silent as we minded whit happened oot there, hoo important it is tae oor Scottish heritage. Aifterwards we aw had drinks an shortbreid and mony a talk taen place. Aw very civilised compared tae 300 years ago.drum5 copybattlesceneclosememorial
There wis three very welcome visitors, aw the way frae the USA in tribute tae their ancestor Thomas Brownlee who fought in the battle. A lang way tae come but they seemed real prood tae be pairt o the commemoration.drum4 copy
The Battle o Drumclog appears in ‘Changed Times,’ my first book in a trilogy aboot 17th century Scotland. Ah’d aready done research aboot the battle but staundin there starin at the big, gree field fu o jaggy thistles hud me thinkin aboot the anger o the Presbyterians, mindin hoo they lowped frae tussock tae tussock as they fired at the troopers. Ah cud even hear the noise in ma heid, see the musket smoke.
Here’s whit it wis aw aboot ….. Scottish Presbyterians who resisted King Charles 11 determination tae mak them adopt the English style o worship found themsels declared rebels against the king and made tae suffer the consequences.
1st June 1679 Rev Thomas Douglas wis takin a conventicle, an illegal open-air service, at a spot kent as Glaisser Law, nae far frae Loudon Hill. Mair than 250 folk had turned up fur the occasion. Unfortunately the Royalist commander, John Graham o Claverhoose, whae became Bonnie Dundee, wis in the area. He’d been tipped aff aboot the conventicle and set oot tae deal wi the rebels.
Reverend Douglas got news that mounted troopers were comin. He wis defiant and tellt his congregation ‘Ye hae the theory noo fur the practice’ They aw agreed, said a prayer then mairched across the moor towards Stobieside at Drumclog and lined up tae wait for Claverhoose. There wis aboot 50 horsemen, 50 infantry wi guns, the rest hud pitchforks an halberds.
Claverhoose had collected a few prisoners alang the way and left them at North Drumclog farm afore sendin word tae the Covenanters demandin surrender.
They refused.
A stretch o boggy ground lay atween the twa sides, no guid for horses tae cross. At first there wis the odd shot back an furrit then the Covenanters, who kent hoo tae cross a bog stertit runnin furrit, pickin aff a mounted trooper then retreatin. Claverhoose decided tae pit an end tae this and ordered some troopers tae cross. Mistake. The horses panicked as they sank in the mud. Their riders were thrown aff and easily shot. The ither troopers defied Claverhoose and fled.
Claverhoose wis chased and nearly caught when ane o his pursuers managed tae stab his horse. The beast ran anither mile then fell deid. Luckily Claverhoose hud the horse frae his deid trumpeter alang wi him. He jumped ontae the fresh ane and escaped, aw the way tae Glesca.
That nicht
he’d write a sorrowfu report tae his commander in chief the 3rd Earl o Linlithgow warnin aboot increased rebellion.
Aifter the battle, or skirmish, dependin on yer point o view, the Covenanters got cairried awa wi themsels. Thoosands joined and they mairched against the King and Government. 21 days later the royalist army defeated them at the Battle o Bothwell Brig.
This wis only the stert. Years o sufferin wud follow for the Covenanter folk … 10 years afore it wis ower.




About ethyl smith

Historical fiction writer with Thunderpoint Publishing. Currently working on 17th century Scottish trilogy. Part one 'Changed Times' out April 2016
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