Kirkcudbright

The ancient Royal Burgh of Kirkcudbright is steeped in history and features in several incidents of note. It is from Kirkcudbright that William Wallace took ship to France after the battle of Falkirk in 1298. KirkkMem.jpg (38986 bytes) Two years later the English fleet supporting the invasion  of Edward I  landed troops here. A stronghold of the Douglases during their Lordship they were broken by James II in 1455. In the same year the town was created a Royal Burgh. In 1507 the town was virtually destroyed when the Earl of Derby and a fleet of Manx ships attacked. But a Galloway fleet was raised under Cutlar MacCulloch and the Isle of Man was terrorised in turn. The Galloway coast was a possible landing place for the Spanish Armada - it was recommended to Philip of Spain by Lord Maxwell, a leading Roman Catholic in southern Scotland. Maxwell went so far as to repair fortifications  and muster his tenants in readiness for the landing but his action was suppressed before the Armada arrived off of Cornwall. In 1690 the fleet of King William III  lay at anchor in Kirkcudbright for several days, while the port was onekirkcudbright quay which was liable to landings in the later Jacobite risings. It was Kirkcudbright Bay that John Paul Jones sailed into during the War of Independence with America intent on taking the Earl of Selkirk prisoner; all he got was the Earl`s silverware which, surprisingly, was returned six years later in 1784 as a matter of honour.

The Tolbooth in Kirkcudbright has held some notable prisoners, including John  Paul Jones for a while. But it was probably most remembered as the holding place of many Covenanters in the late seventeenth century. Galloway and Ayrshire were the homeland of the strict Presbyterians later to be called Cameronians and Society people, and the district the scene of many conventicles with preachers kk-04.jpg (32884 bytes) such as Alexander Peden. Many of the martyrs of the Covenant were ministers in the area. It was at Kirkconnel Moor, north of the town, that five men at prayer were caught and executed by Sir Robert Grierson of Lagg on 21 February 1685. The Old St Cuthbert`s church yard contains the graves of Covenanters, William Hunter and Robert Smith, who were victims of a skirmish at Auchencloy. They had been involved in a mass break out from the Tolbooth on 16 December 1684 but John Graham of Claverhouse (later Viscount Dundee) found the party and five men were killed in the skirmish. Another grave is that of a young man of about eighteen, John Hallam, who was wounded when he ran away from some soldiers and later hanged for refusing to take the infamous Abjuration Oath.

Hunter & Smith grave.

Around the edge of the table gravestone is the inscription

WILLIAM HOUNTURE
ROBERT SMITH 1684

The main inscription reads

THIS MONUMENT SHALL SHEW POSTERITY
TWO HEADLES MARTYRES UNDER IT DOTH LIE
BY BLOODY GRHAME WERE TAKEN AND SURPRISED
BROUGHT TO THIS TOUN AND AFTERWARDS WERE SAIZ'D
BY UNJUST LAW WERE SENTENCED TO DIE
THEM FIRST THEY HANGED THEN HEADED CRUELY
CAPTANS DOUGLAS BRUCE GRAHAME OF CLEVERHOUS
WERE THESE THAT CAUSED THEM TO BE HANDLED THUS
AND WHEN THEY WERE UNTO THE GIBBET COME
TO STOPE THEIR SPEECH THEY DID BEAT UP THE DRUM
AND ALL BECAUS THAT THEY WOULD NOT COMPLY
WITH INDULGENCE AND BLOODIE PRELACIE
IN FACE OF CRUEL BRUCE DOUGLAS AND GRAHAME
THEY DID MANTAINE THAT CHRIST WAS LORD SUPREAM
AND BOLDLY OUNED BOTH THE COVENANTS
AT KIRKCUDBRIGHT THUS ENDED THESE TWO SANTS.

Nearby to the grave of John Hallam is that of a true `character` of Galloway, that of William Marshall the " Caird of Barullion ", King of the Gypsies of the Western Lowlands. Reputed to have been 120 years old when he died, he is said to have fathered at least four children after he was one hundred. Married some seventeen times he led a band of gypsies who lived in the wild moors around Barhullion. Said to have been in the army seven times he deserted as many; also  he ran away from the navy three times. Billy Marshall as he preferred to be known was much involved in the `Leveller` protests in 1725 when the common people rose against the practice of fencing and placing dykes round grazing land, throwing many out of work. The stone is adorned with two ram`s horns and two tablespoons which are carved on the other side. The inscription reads :

The Remains of
William Marshall
Tinker,who died
28th Novr. 1792
at the advanced age of
120 Years.

Billy Marshall`s grave.

marsh2.jpg (61787 bytes)






Overlooking the harbour stands MacLellan`s castle built in the sixteenth century for Sir Thomas MacLellan of Bombie who was provost of Kirkcudbright. Technically the building is described as a castellated mansion. He married into the powerful Maxwell family and his son became the first Lord Kirkcudbright.  The eldest son Robert was knighted by James VI and he was made a baronet by Charles I and then to the peerage. The second Lord Kirkcudbright was a nephew, Thomas who supported Presbyterianism  against the rule of the Bishops and latterly supported the Crown against Cromwell As a soldier he distinguished himself at Newburn and at the battle Maclellans Castle of Philiphaugh where he commanded a Galloway regiment recruited at his own expense. Unfortunately for the family they suffered for this because the fifteen thousand merks voted him by Parliament was never paid. When he died the title went to a cousin, John MacLellan of Borgue who similarly raised a regiment during the Civil War which was cut to pieces in an engagement against the English Parliamentary forces in Ulster. The burden was too much and he died more or less bankrupt in 1655. His successors did not restore the family`s fortune.

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