Friday, December 21, 2007

William Cleland's "Bluidy Banner"

William Cleland was just 17 years old during the Covenanters battles of 1679 at Drumclog (where the Covenanters defeated "Bluidy Clavers" - Graham of Claverhouse), where Cleland was an Officer of Foot and was instrumental in the victory. He also fought as a Captain at the Battle of Bothwell Brig where he was a Captain, but where the Covenanters were defeated.

Cleland carried a beautiful banner, made of blue silk. it had three messages:

1. At the top in gold Hebrew script it reads "Jehovah Nissi" which translates as "The Lord is My Banner" - a quote from Exodus 17 v 15, where during a great battle that the Israelites were fighting against the Amalekites, they were assured of the victory as long as Moses held his arms aloft. As he grew tired, his brother Aaron and Caleb's son Hur held his arms up for him. After the victory, Moses built an altar and called it "Jehovah Nissi"

2. In the middle it says "For Christ and His Truths" in large white letters

3. At the bottom in red type it says "No Quarters for Ye Active Enemies of Ye Covenant"

Cleland gave the banner and his sword to his friend Henry Hall of Haughhead at an unknown date, to prevent them falling into the hands of the enemy. The items were passed down the generations to several zealous Covenanters until they reached the hands of the Raeburn Family from East Lothian, and were discovered by a Mr James Drummond around 1850. The banner eventually came into the possession of the regiment at a later date.

The banner can today be seen on display at the Cameronians Regimental Museum in Hamilton, Scotland.

Postscript:William Cleland later joined a Covenanter regiment fighting for King William III, but was killed at the Battle of Dunkeld in August 1689. A book of his poetry was published in 1697, including one entitled "On the clergie when they met to consult about taking the Test in the year 1681" - I've not read it, but must be a comment on the "Test Oath" which was forced upon the clergy in July 1681, to place the King in supremacy over the Church.