Sunday, 27 November 2011

Martyr’s Stone

Situated on the A803, Kirkintilloch to Kilsyth Road.

The following extract has been transcribed from the book
‘A Cloud of Witnesses for the Royal Prerogatives of Jesus Christ’

Although not in Kirkintilloch Parish, it is so well known that an account of it is requisite.

It is about two miles from the cross of Kirkintilloch, on the side of the road leading to Kilsyth, just when entering a part of the road which is shaded by rows of large trees on either side and about three quarters of a mile to the east of Inchbelly Bridge.

The original monument is a flat stone, six feet by three, and alongside of it is the new one.

The stone was erected in commemoration of James Smith and John Wharry (or McWharry), younger brother of the Laird of Scorryholm, a small property on the Logan Water, south-west of Lesmahagow.

In May, 1681, Alexander Smith of Cambusnethan was seized and taken to Edinburgh on the charge of being at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge. Disguised in women’s clothing, he escaped from prison only to be re-captured. A party of soldiers were taking him again to prison when they were attacked at Inchbelly Bridge, in Campsie Parish by a few country people who rescued the prisoner. In the affray some were wounded on both sides and one of the soldiers killed. Alexander Smith was taken prisoner again in 1685, sent to Dunottar Castle from where he also escaped, was captured again in 1687 and kept in prispon till the Revolution in 1688 set him free.

The rescue party thereupon made off with their friend in the direction of Auchinreoch and the soldiers, who had been taken by surprise, rallied themselves and in great fury began to search the neighbourhood for any stragglers. Very soon they discovered John Wharry and James Smith sitting in a wood, and having made them prisoners, they carried them off to Glasgow.

The two men had been found unarmed, and the only evidence that could be brought against them was that they were discovered near the place of encounter, but this was considered sufficient; and as it was necessary to do something to awe the people of a district where, on two occasions a soldier had been killed, they were sentences to have their right hands cut off, and then to be hanged, and their bodies carried to Inchbelly Bridge, and there hung in chains.

This sentence was carried out on the day on which the circuit was to commence it’s sittings in Glasgow, and, no doubt, the execution added much to the impressiveness of the sitting.

Of the two martyrs, the historian says that “their carriage at their execution was cheerful and galland. John Wharry was ordered to lay his hand on the block, and, thinking they required him to lay his head down, he did so with much courage.”

Major Balfour thereupon angrily said “It is not your head but your hand we are seeking.” John answered, “He had then heard wrong, but was most willing to lay down not only his hand, but his neck, and all the members of his body, for the cause of Christ.”

When his hand was cut off, he was not observed to shrink, but holding up the stump with great courage, said “This and other blood will yet raise the buried covenants.” James Smith died in much peace and comfort, not in the least discomposed.

“When they were but half-choked (says the crowd of witnesses) they were cut down, and in that condition carried on two carts to Inchbelly Bridge. Some honest people had provided coffins for them, and caused bring them near, at which Balfour raged terribly, and caused break them in pieces.” The bodies were therefore, buried coffinless in the moss.

The inscription on the stone is as follows:

“Twas martyr’s blood bought Scotland’s liberty. Erected February 1865, in room of the old tomb-stone, by the people of Kirkintilloch and neighbourhood.

Original Transcription

In this field lie the corps of John Wharry and James Smith, who suffered at Glasgow 13th June 1683(5) for their adherence to the Word of God and Scotland’s Covenanted Work of Reformation. ‘And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and  by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death,’ (Rev. xii. 2.)

Halt, courteous passenger and look on
Our bodies dead, & lying under this stone;
Altho’ we did commit no deed, nor fact
That was against the Bridgeroom’s contract.
Yet we to Glasgow were as prisoners brought
And against us false witnesses they sought.
There, sentence cruel and unjust they past
And then our corps on scaffold they did cast
There we our lives and right hands also lost
The pain was ours, but theirs shall be the cost
From Glasgow we were brought unto this place
In chains of iron hung up for a certain space
Then taken down, interred here we ly
From ‘neath this stone our blood to heaven doth cry
Had foreign foes, Turks or Mahometans
Had Scythians, Tartars, Arabian Caravans
Had cruel Spaniards, the Pope’s blood seed
Commenced the same, less strange had been the deed
But Protestants profest, our Covenants do
Our countrymen this bloody deed could do
Yet nothwithstanding of their hellish rage
The noble Wharry, stepping on the stage
With courage bold and with heart not faint
Exclaims, this blood now seals our covenant.
Ending, They who would follow Christ must take
Their cross upon their back, the world forsake.

Another version of the wording, slightly different from the above …..

Halt, passenger, read here upon this stone
A tragedy, our bodies done upon.
At Glasgow Cross we lost both our right hands,
To fright beholders, th’ enemy so commands;
Then put to death, and that most cruelly.
Yet where we’re slain, even there we must not lie,
From Glasgow town we’re brough to this place,
On Gallow tree hung up for certain space.
Yet thence ta’en down, interred here we lie
Beneath this stone; our blood to heaven doth cry.
Had foreign foes, Turks or Mahometans,
Had Scythian Tartars, Arabian caravns,
Had cruel Spaniards, the Pope’s bloody seed,
Commenc’d the same, had been less strange their deed.
But Protestants, once Covenaters too,
Our countrymen, this cruel deed could do:
Yet, nothwithstanding this, their hellish rage,
The noble Wharrie leapt upon the stage.
With courage bold, he said, and heart not faint,
‘This blood shall now seal up our covenant,’
Ending, ‘they who would follow Christ, should take
Their cross upon their back, the world forsake.’

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