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The Battle of Rullion Green

"Several of the family were involved in the religious troubles of the seventeenth century, and it is probable that Herbert Biggar of Barbuie (d. 1709) and his cousin, James Biggar of Marglolly (c. 1668-1733), were present at the Battle of Rullion Green, inspired doubtless by the example of their intrepid minister, John Welsh of Irongray."


28 November 1666

Pentland Hills, in Midlothian, Scotland.


The Battle of Rullion Green is significant as the only battle 1666 Covenanter rebellion, also known as the Pentland Rising. It ends the uprising and results in a period of violent repression against the Covenanters.

A Covenanter army under the command of Colonel James Wallace had risen in south-west Scotland and had advanced to Edinburgh to attempt to win support, all the while pursued by a Government army sent after them under Sir Thomas Dalziel. The Government finally caught up to the Covenanters at Rullion Green and defeated them after a stiff fight.

After Rullion Green. The movements of Welsh after the battle of Rullion Green are very obscure. He left the battlefield with Colonel Wallace, the commander. (Veitch's Narrative.) Wallace escaped to Holland, but there is no indication that Welsh left the country. In 1667 he lurked with other fugitives who, like himself, had been too deeply involved in the Rising to be pardoned (Wodrow, ii., 70). His life and fortunes were forfeited (W^odrow, ii., 34). His parishioners of Irongray shared in his condemnation. In the Privy Council Registers (iii., 436) we find that on May 5th, 1668, twenty-one Irongray farmers had not accepted His Majesty's indemnity for having been out at Pentland. For the sake of the curious I copy the list : — William Anderson in Shalloch ; James Anderson in Peirtrie ; William Welsh, son to John Welsh of Skar ; James Welsh, his brother; John Welsh, in Skeoch ; Robert Wallas, in Skaar ; Harbert BIGGAR, son to Harbert BIGGAR in Barbuie; Thomas Smith, son to James Smith of Drumclyer ; Robt. Sinclair, son to Robert Sinclair in Lagg ; William Welsh in Inglestoun ; James BIGGAR in Marglollie ; John Curior in Dalquhairn ; David Currior in Ruchtrie ; John Curior in Nework ; Robt. Colvin in Inglestoun ; John Hunter in Barncleuch ; John Wallas in Holhill ; John Welsh in Knackstoun (MacNaughton) ; Jon. Wright in Larbrek ; Jon. Whytheid in Cluden ; James M'Burnie in Crochmore. Welsh may have found shelter in his own parish, but probably he was nearer his pursuers than they imagined ; at any rate in 1668 he was lurking at the house of one Robert Grey in Edinburgh. (Kirkton, 1668.) Towards the end of the year he was preaching. The Earl of Tweeddale writes in November, 1668, to the Earl of Lauderdale that Mr John Welsh was running about Clydesdale and keeping conventicles both in houses and in the Church of Camnethine (Cambus- John Welsh, the Irongray Covenanter. 69 nethan) about midnight, where there were 200 or 300 people all of the meanest commons. Above 20 children were chris- tened. Lord Tweeddale says he had got notice of his haunts, and sent Mungo Murray, the lieutenant of the guard, " to try his hand," but Welsh eluded pursuit. (Lauderdale Papers, ii., 123.)


Four Heads to Hamilton


[four heads in relief]

Stay, passenger,  take  notice

what thou  reads:

At Edinburgh  lie  our  bodies,

here our  heads.

Our right  hand  stood  at  Lanark,

these we  want,

Because with  them  we  sware

the Covenant.



The heads of the following four martyrs were sent to be displayed at the burgh of Hamilton in Lanarkshire. A gravestone to their heads was erected at Hamilton between 1702 and 1714 which was recorded in the first edition of Cloud of Witnesses.

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