Sunday, September 29, 2013

George Wishart, the second Scottish martyr, 1546

Following on from the previous post about Patrick Hamilton, the second martyr in Scotland was George Wishart, who like Hamilton was burned at the stake in St Andrews. Earlier this year, the University of St Andrews hosted a conference to mark the 500th anniversary of Wishart's birth in 1513. Some details are online here and also here. Another link with recent blogs posts here is that Samuel Rutherford was buried at St Andrews. Here is a pic of his gravestone. There is an impressive martyrs monument in St Andrews.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Patrick Hamilton, the first Scottish martyr, 1528

I've been reading a bit about Patrick Hamilton again. He was a follower of Martin Luther and visited him in Germany. Hamilton's only known writings, later titled Patrick's Places - are online here. And here is a simple biography of the man from 1918. Luther once wrote that '... Virtually the whole of the scriptures and the understanding of the whole of theology–the entire Christian life, even–depends upon the true understanding of the law and the gospel...' . Patrick Hamilton wrote this:


The Law saith,
Pay thy debt.
Thou art a sinner desperate.
And thou shalt die.

The Gospel saith,
Christ hath paid it.
Thy sins are forgiven thee.
Be of good comfort, thou shalt be saved.

The Law saith,
Make amends for thy sin.
The Father of Heaven is wrath with thee.
Where is thy righteousness, goodness, and satisfaction?
Thou art bound and obliged unto me, to the devil, and to hell.

The Gospel saith,
Christ hath made it for thee.
Christ hath pacified him with his blood.
Christ is thy righteousness, thy goodness, and satisfaction.
Christ hath delivered thee from them all.

Bad religion is a long list of rules for people try to keep. True religion is a long list of rules which demand perfection - and which you therefore know you can never keep - but which Someone else has kept on your behalf.


King James V was king of Scotland when Patrick Hamilton was martyred on 29 February 1528 - Hamilton himself was of Royal descent through both of his parents. In fact, King James II of Scotland was a great-grandfather of both King James V and Patrick Hamilton too.

Over in Ayrshire, another branch of the family was led at this time by Archibald Hamilton of Raploch (1504-1559), who is described on a gravestone in Dunlop as being 'a servant of King James the Fift'. Photos below are from one of my visits to Dunlop.



There is no doubt that Archibald Hamilton would have been aware of the burning of his relative Patrick. Archibald died on the cusp of the Scottish Reformation and his son Hans Hamilton became the first Protestant (Presbyterian) minister of Dunlop, Ayrshire - and Hans' son would later become Sir James Hamilton, one of the 'Founding Fathers' of the Ulster-Scots.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Shackleton Banjo - 'A British-made Banjo for the People ' - 'Vital Mental Medicine'

Check it out on Kickstarter here.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Buy Ailsa Craig - now for sale at £1.5m


Even if you don't have the money (I'm going to have a rummage in the biscuit tin later just to see) the slideshow is worth looking at - click here.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Samuel Rutherford's connection with the Ulster-Scots Montgomeries of County Down

In Edinburgh on 24 March 1640 the famous Scottish Presbyterian minister Samuel Rutherford married Joan/Jean Montgomery. She was the daughter of an Edinburgh merchant and widow of a Hugh Montgomery who is described as 'sometime of Balharie in the country of Doune'. Joan's surname had been Mackmath/MacMath/McMath before she married Montgomery. I have discovered the connection in a legal document during Cromwell's occupation of Scotland, written in Edinburgh on 26 July 1653, seemingly granting a large amount of formerly Montgomery lands in Wigtownshire to John Shaw of Greenock. The Shaws and Montgomeries were also intermarried; the Shaws too had land in Ulster, initially near Ganaway between Millisle and Ballywalter, and later at Ballygally Castle.

As I've blogged here before, Rutherford was a close associate of many of the early Ulster Presbyterian ministers such as John Livingstone, Robert Blair, Robert Cunningham and John MacLellan. In 1640 he, Livingstone and Maclellan were reported to the church authorities for encouraging people to organise communal Bible studies and prayer meetings in their homes at evening time, outwith the formal church services. Anyway, here is the text of the document -


REGISTER OF THE GREAT SEAL of SCOTLAND (RMS) Under the Commonwealth (Cromwell).
Vol. X, pages 81 & 82, #164....
July 26 1653. (short extract)

The Keepers grant to Johne SHAW of Grenocke / Greenock (m. to.................?)
the 10 pound land of PORTRIE, (Wigtownshire, Scotland) viz : -
MARROK (Marroch / Marrock) with the castle, tower and fortalice of DUNSKEY situate thereupon ;
corn-mill of PORTRIE, with the 3 mills and mill-lands, etc. viz :-
10 pound land of PORTRIE,
5 pound land of KINGHILT,
3 merk land of DUNTOUNE,
port called PORTPATRICK ;
lands of MAROK and DUNTOUNE,
with several crofts of the said port ;
3 merk land of ENOCH ;
2 merk land of MEKEL PIGMANOCH;
3 merk land of CRAIGOCH ;
town or burgh of MONGRUMIE (MONTGOMERIE)
sea port of old called PORT PATRICK and now PORT MONGRUMIE,
with the whole anchorages, tolls, customs, and other privileges, &c., pertaining thereto, -
with the castles, towers, fortalices, manor-places, &c., of the foresaid lands,
all lying within the sheriffdom of WIGTON (Wigtownshire, Scotland) ; -

which lands pertained to HEW (MONTGOMERY), now Viscount of Airds / Ards,
his father
, and were apprised from him on 1st August 1650,
at the instance of JOANE MONTGRUMIE (Montgomerie) alias MACKMATH,
relict (widow) of the deceased HEW MONTGRUMIE (Montgomery) sometime of BALHARIE in the country of Doune,(co.Down, N. Ireland)
gentleman, and of (Rev.) SAMUELL RUTHFUIRD , professor of divinity, University of Saint Andrews,
now spouse of JOANE (widow of) MONTGRUMIE (Montgomerie) alias (nee) MACKMATH,
for his interest, which decree of apprising was assigned by the said JOANE MACKMATH
with consent of the said SAMUELL RUTHFUIRD to
Andrew WARDLAW, merchant burgess of Edinburgh,
by assignation dated 15th June 1653,
and was assigned by the said Andrew WARDLAW
to the said Johne SHAW
by translation dated 22nd July 1653 :-
With precept of sasine.
P.R. vii. 82.


It's hard to believe that such a legal document would make a mistake on the identities of the people involved.

• This shows that the Hugh Montgomery who had been Joan's husband, was one of the Montgomeries of the Ards. That's the only reason she would have been involved in the issue involving Dunskey Castle and the surrounding lands.

• Depending upon how you read it, perhaps she was a hitherto-unknown third wife of Sir Hugh Montgomery, the first Viscount of the Great Ards? He died in 1636, his second wife Sara (nee Maxwell) died on 29 March 1636, and he himself died in May of the same year. But did he marry Jean MacMath within these last few weeks of his life?!

• This was Rutherford's second marriage. He had been minister of Anwoth near Dumfries from 1627-1638.

• Dunskey Castle near Portpatrick, a castle which had been acquired by the Montgomeries in the 1620s (this document in Latin states 8 Feb 1620 as the date Hugh Montgomery bought 'Doneskey')

• So where is 'Balharie'? One online source suggests 'Ballehenrie' or Ballyhenry between Comber and Newtownards, however there is a Ballyharry townland outside Newtownards on the road to Donaghadee - both areas were 100% Montgomery land back in the early 1600s.

Some online descriptions of the Rutherford/Montgomery marriage:

'... In 1640, after ten years as a widower, Samuel Rutherford married Jean McMath, a woman who was evidently fitted for such a husband. She was described as "a woman of great worth and piety". One person who knew them both said, "I never knew any among men exceed him, nor any among women exceed her". Before he went south to the Westminster Assembly, three children were born to them, but two of them died in infancy...'

'... but this marriage also was filled with much grief. Although his wife outlived him, he lost his children through untimely deaths. The first two died while he was away in London attending the Westminster Assembly; only one of the five more children given him lived. God, however, uses even a man's sorrow for the comfort of others. To one who lost a son he wrote: "Your Lord may gather His roses and shake His apples at what season of the year He pleaseth." And to another he wrote: "I know there is a true sorrow that is without tears; and I know there is a real sorrow that is beyond tears."...

'... In the year 1640, he married his second wife, Jean M'Math, "a woman," says one, "of such worth, that I never knew any among men exceed him, nor any among women exceed her. He who heard either of them pray or speak, might have learnt to bemoan his own ignorance. Oh how many times I have been convinced, by observing them, of the evil of unseriousness unto God, and unsavouriness in discourse." They had seven children; but only one survived the father, a little daughter, Agnes, who does not seem to have been a comfort to her godly mother ...'


• Jean MacMath outlived Rutherford - he died in 1661 and was buried at St Andrews; she is said to have died on 16 May 1675 and was buried at Greyfriars in Edinburgh.

• Here is a letter Rutherford wrote to Jean's sister Agnes upon the death of one of her children (click here)

• Information about other 17th century McMaths in Edinburgh is available here, from The Abbotsford Club

Tuesday, September 10, 2013



In Northern Ireland recently there has been some high profile media coverage of disagreements in a church which are reported to partly be about musical forms. Whatever the specific issues, there can be little doubt that in some quarters there is a general decline in Bible knowledge and literacy, and I would suggest especially within the younger generation. Songbooks for Sunday school classes of 100 or so years ago (such as this one, edited by Robert Lowry and published in 1881) when looked at today, appear to be far more advanced and demanding than today's equivalents. There does appear to be a 'dumbing down' trend.

Here is a hymn by John Newton, the author of Amazing Grace, from the late 1700s. I suspect thatconceptually, never mind the particular vocabulary in places, it is alien to most today.

I asked the Lord that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek, more earnestly, His face.

’Twas He who taught me thus to pray,
And He, I trust, has answered prayer!
But it has been in such a way,
As almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favoured hour,
At once He’d answer my request;
And by His love’s constraining pow’r,
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
The hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry pow’rs of hell
Assault my soul in every part.

Yea more, with His own hand He seemed
Intent to aggravate my woe;
Crossed all the fair designs I schemed,
Blasted my gourds, and laid me low.

Lord, why is this, I trembling cried,
Wilt thou pursue thy worm to death?
“’Tis in this way, the Lord replied,
I answer prayer for grace and faith.

These inward trials I employ,
From self, and pride, to set thee free;
And break thy schemes of earthly joy,
That thou may’st find thy all in Me.”

We live in the age of the txt msg, the 140 character tweet, an age where people increasingly don't read much of anything but rather passively consume video content. I don't have the answer but it is a growing problem.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Belfast outdoor wall light

A new range from John Lewis - so only available mail order in Northern Ireland. Said to have been inspired by the design of the lights on HMS Belfast. Click here. Also available from the Garden Trading Company website.



Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Jock Troup with a banjo-mandolin - and the Fishermen's Revival of the 1920s


Pictured above is the famous Scottish evangelist Jock Troup (1896 - 1954). Also a singer, he is known to have played the banjo-mandolin occasionally as accompaniment; his brother Harry was a well known fiddle player in the north of Scotland. A summary of Jock's life is available here. He spent much time in Ulster and I know of elderly folk who remember him fondly. At the bottom of this post are two photos of him at Bangor Christian Workers Society at Pickie Pool along the seafront, where the platform still stands today, I think it now says 'Christ Died for the Ungodly'.

These images have been grabbed from an excellent 48 minute documentary DVD of Jock Troup's life, produced by Gary Wilkinson, which is available on his website here for £10.99 plus £1.50 postage. I bought three copies a while back to share with other folk - it is highly recommended. A trailer for the DVD can be seen below:

Revival Man, the Jock Troup Story is a detailed biography of the man and his work. Available here and on Amazon here.

• For information on Scottish revivals generally, this book, Glory in the Glen, will be of interest.

• I contributed some digitised recordings of Jock singing to the website back in August 2010. Click here to listen to the recordings.

• See previous blog post here.