Saturday, November 01, 2008

James Hamilton, from Wodrow's Analecta

Here's a lovely story about Rev James Hamilton of Ballywalter, from the latter years of his life in Edinburgh after he had been ejected from his pulpit in the city in 1662. The story takes place sometime between 1662 and Hamilton's death in March 1666:

"...Mr James Hamiltoun, Minister at Edinburgh, was outed and lived at Mortounhall under very great straites. One night, his wife and family and he had noe meal than they gote their supper of, and yet he still kept up his confidence in God. That night, Sir James Steuart of Gutters (Goodtrees)*, who lived not farr from him, but kneu nothing in particular of his present straites, told his Lady**, when in her bed, that he was troubled in his mind about Mr Hamiltoun; and again and again it was born in upon him that he was in straits; and caused his Lady rise out of her bed, and give orders to the servants, early nixt morning, to cary a load of meal to Mortounhall, which was accordingly done, and it came most seasonably.

And he himself came over to dinner to Sir James's, and told him his straites, and that for all his straites, he thought shame that he had not a farthing to give the servant that brought the meal. This I heard the Lady Pollock tell severall times. And Mr Steuart heard it from his grandmother..."

from Wodrow's Analecta or Materials for a History of Remarkable Providences; mostly relating to Scotch ministers and Christians (1842 edition), p 91

With thanks to Alastair Bonar for the quote from Wodrow, and also the illustration (from the Presbyterian Map of Ireland, 1886)


* Sir James Steuart (1635 - 1713) was Lord Advocate of Scotland 1692 - 1709 and 1711 - 1713. Goodtrees is now called Moredun, in the parish of Liberton. He authored many of the most important books of the era - including:
Naphtali, or the Wrestlings of the Church of Scotland for the Kingdom of Christ (1667, jointly with Mr James Stirling)
Jus Populi Vindicatum; or, the People's Rights to defend themselves and their Covenanted Religion (published 1669)
• An Account of Scotland's Grievances (1675, allegedly co-authored with William Carstairs) - after which he was ordered to be arrested.

Steuart and many other Scottish nobles later fled to exile in Holland, but returned in 1688 after the Glorious Revolution. His father, Sir James Stewart of Coltness, had been Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1648-1649 and again in 1658-59.

** Stewart's wife was Agnes Trail (1646-1690), sister of the famous Covenanter Robert Trail (1642–1716). Robert and Agnes Trail's eldest brother, William (1640-1714), was a Presbyterian minister at Ballendrait in Donegal from 1672 - 1683 and was arrested for his involvement in Blood's Plot. (see Seaton Reid's History of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, p 422-3)

So once again, the minister from Ballywalter turns out to be a very well-connected and influential man of his time.