Rev. Thomas Douglas

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The Rev. Thomas Douglas was a Covenanting preacher.

On 1 June, 1679 Reverend 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.

Whether he was actually present at Drumclog is an open question, but the historical novelist John Galt included him in his work Ringan Gilhaize; Or, The Covenanters, Volume 2 in 1823, and this may be the origin of the above.

The following is extracted from Memoirs of Helen Alexander and James Currie:
And we were always speaking to them, and found them all yielding to that Indemnity (though they did not so cordially embrace it as some did that got the bond, as Mr. Johnston, and others), excepting Mr. Richard Cameron, Mr. Donald Cargil, and Mr. Thomas Douglas, yet he left the other two and went away after the firft Sanquhar Declaration.
After I recovered, and began to work, the enemy came again seeking me ; and I, finding no safety, wandred from one place to another.

After Mr. Douglas came from Mr. Cameron, I rode south with him and heard Mr. Hepburn preach; and that Sabbath there was a meeting at Mount Lowdon ;
[Early July 1680] but there came a company of dragoons and scattered the meeting. And there were several taken, but they did get away again ; and the minifter 'escaped by hiding himself among the corn. And so 1, being absent that day, escaped ; and all the preachings we had were never scailled with troopers except that day. And for all this while (as I said), I was ftill hearing the ministers, but with a sore heart.

Thomas is commemorated at Shotts on the remote Darmead Muir, or Darmead Linn, memorial.  This was used as a site for Conventicles by the Covenanters. Amongst ministers who held conventicles here were Rev Donald Cargill, Rev Richard Cameron, Rev Thomas Douglas and Rev James Renwick.

Historic Scotland records that this listed monument dates to 1836 and is a tapered sandstone column on a square-plan plinth. The south-facing shaft-face is inscribed ‘in memory of Cameron, Cargill, Renwick, and their brethren, who worshipped, on this spot; In the time, of the last, persecution. They jeopardised, their lives, unto the death, in the high places of the field’. The south-facing plinth is inscribed: ‘erected, by the proceeds, of, a collection, made at a sermon, preached here, by the, rev. John Graham, Wishawtoun, August 7th 1836’.

A 2012 field survey recorded that the monument is as previously described. It currently stands in open ground to the north of the Darmead Linn.

Cambusnethan and the surrounding area of North Lanarkshire have a strong historical connection with the 17th-century Covenanters and was again an area of religious dissent in the 19th century, leading up to the Disruption.

The Skirmish near Kirk O’ Shotts in June, 1679
In his account of the Bothwell Rising, James Russell, one of the assassins of Archbishop Sharp, records a skirmish between the Covenanters and the King’s forces near Kirk O’ Shotts prior to the Battle of Bothwell Bridge.

The Covenanters ‘resting Thursday forenoon [19 June, 1679], in the afternoon … they were alarmed with news of the enemy approaching in parties towards them, whereupon they sent out parties first of some volunteers, commanded by Robert Dick, and then John Balfour’s troop [of horse]; next Mr Walter Smith and Andrew Turnbull. These rencountering a party of the enemy in the dark of the night, fired upon other, upon which the enemies fled (and, as was said, some of them killed) to the body lying be-east the Shott kirk, strengthened with mosses on every hand, that these parties durst not follow them, tho’ the enemies were in great fear, but they wanting guides, and not knowing the way, returned to the [Covenanter’s] army.’



Sources for this article include:
  • Jardine's book of martyrs
  • James Russell’s account in Kirkton, Secret History
  • Ethyl Smith

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    Last modified: Wednesday, 18 July 2018