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sent death, first with a drawn sword at her breast, and also with a bended pistol; and contrary to all law, Divine and human, they dragged her alongst with them, with a burning candle in her hand, through all the rooms of the main house, and then through all the office houses, they still raging with their drawn swords and bended pistols; but, after all their search, they, missing my father, beat the servants, to strike the greater terror on my mother to tell where her husband was; but she could not .
"Then they took a young man, called David Finlay, alongst with them to where their chief commander lay, called General Dalziel. He caused the said David Finlay to be shot to death in less than half-an-hour's warning, and carried away all my father's stock of moveable effects, which was considerably great; and for half-a-year there was hardly a day ever passed but they were at the house, either in the night or day, in search of my father.
"In the year 1678, there was a great host of Highlanders came down in the middle of the winter to the Western shires. The shire of Ayr was the centre of their encampment or cantoning, where they pillaged, plundered, thieved, and robbed night and day; even the Lord's day they regarded as little as any other.
"At their first coming, four of them came to my father's house, who was overseeing the making of his own malt; they told him they were come to make the Fig (so they termed the Presbyterians) \i.e., Whig) to take with God and the king. This they came over again and again. They pointed to his shoes, and said they would have the brogue off his foot, and accordingly laid hands on him, but he threw himself out of their grips, and turning to a pitchfork which was used at the stalking of his corn, and they having their broadswords drawn, cried ' Claymore,' and made at him; but he quickly drove them out of the kiln, and, chasing them all four a pace from the house, knocked one of them to the ground.
"The next day about twenty of them came to the house, but he not being at home, they told that they were come to take the Fig [/.<•., Whig] and his arms. They plundered his house, as they did the house of every other man who was not conform to the then laws ; and such were their thievish dispositions, and so well versed were they at the second sight, that, let people hide never so well, these men would go straight to where it was, whether beneath the ground or above, as though they had been at the putting of it there, search for it, dig it up, and away with it.
"When my father came [to Drumclog], the good people who were met to hear sermon, and the enemy, were drawn up in battle array in order to fight . Five or six of the gentlemen who came to hear sermon, that were most fit to command the country people, took upon them to command, because some of them had been formerly in the military, as likewise my father had been; two of whom went to meet my father when within sight, and gave him an account how matters were, and pointed out to him where Mr King was guarded on the left of the enemy by an officer and four dragoons; and the officer had orders to shoot Mr King if they lost; and if the country people lost, all that were or should be taken prisoners were to be hanged immediately after battle. My father being a strong, bold, and resolute man, went on boldly and in all parts of the action, especially in the relief of Mr King, whom he set at liberty; which boldness and activity of his was much taken notice of by the enemy. The enemy lost that day, and had about thirty or thirty-five of their number slain, whereof they said my father killed seven with his own hand, which much exposed him and all his to their after revenging fury."
At Bothwell Bridge, according to Wodrow, he was a captain. He occupied the post of danger at the bridge, and stood as long as any man would stand by him. In the retreat he managed to escape. He was denounced as a rebel, and three thousand merks set upon his head. His property was confiscated, and his wife and children turned adrift upon the world, and all threatened with a like punishment who dared to harbour him and his.
His wife was a woman of a heroic spirit, and though she and her family had (like those in an earlier age, of whom Inspiration hath declared the world was not worthy) to wander about in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth, she sympathised with him, and never, says her son, was heard or seen to show the least discontent with her lot. For more than four years she bore up under her trials, till in December 1683, after an illness of eight days, death brought them to a close. She died in " a sheep's cot, where was no light nor fire but that of a candle, no bed but that of straw, no stool but the ground to sit on."
It was some time ere the tidings of her death reached her husband. He immediately hastened to the place where she died. When he entered the hut the dead body had been in the grave for several days, and new calamities had fallen upon him. The first sight he beheld was the chesting of his daughter, who had died a few hours before; and on looking round the hut, in a corner lay two of his sons, in the delirium of fever. He spoke to them, but they were unconscious of his presence; at which he groaned, records his son, and, in the language of the patriarch of Uz—language in which pious resignation in the midst of calamity has so often found utterance—said, ' Naked came I into this world, and naked must I go out of it: the Lord is making my passage easy." Under the protection of midnight the body of the daughter was buried in Stonehouse Churchyard, as had been done to the mother eight days before. Next day a search was made for the bereaved husband and father, but for this time he escaped their hands.
He was at last taken on a Sabbath morning, in the beginning of November 1684, when at Midland, a farm-house in Fenwick parish. The old house has been since pulled down, and a new one erected on its site. He, with Peter Gemmel, George Woodburn, and an old man, John Ferguson or Fergushill, from Mains of Enterkin, Tarbolton parish, had met for prayer and conference the preceding evening, to allay some difference that had arisen in the branch of the United Societies to which they belonged. They had not been long assembled when they learned that Lieutenant Nisbet, a cousin of Hardhill, and a party of soldiers, were in quest of them. In the morning they resolved to separate, but after leaving the house they were obliged to return, on account of the illness of John Fergushill. The soldiers soon came in sight, and spent an hour in searching the house, but failed to find out where the four were concealed, and so they left Midland. On the way two men met them, one of whom, it is said, told them, "They were good seekers, but ill finders." They returned, and their renewed search was successful.
The four defended themselves as best they could. They had only three charges, which they shot away, save one which missed fire, and they received twenty-four in return. When the soldiers next dashed in upon them, they kept them at bay with their empty guns, used as clubs. At last the soldiers threatened to fire the house, when they went out, John Nisbet foremost, who got his back to the wall, and stood and defended himself. In a short time he received seven wounds, but still maintained his ground, when the commander came to his assailants and asked, "Why had they not despatched this obstinate rebel." But the moment he saw him, he recognised him, and cried, "Ho! it is Hardhill; spare his life, for the Council has offered 3000 merks for him." He ordered bedclothes to be brought, which were thrown over him, and prevented him from wielding his sword, and he was thus secured. His three companions were shot dead. John Nisbet was then, as is narrated in the account preceding his testimony, taken to Edinburgh, where he was examined before the Council.
He was tried, November 3oth, and found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged at the Grassmarket, December 4th. He must have employed his time diligently during the four days that intervened between his sentence and his execution, for, besides the testimony in this volume, we have in our possession a MS. quarto volume, in the writing of John Howie, of Lochgoin, which contains another with the following title: "The Testimony of John Nisbet, who lived at Hardhill, in the parish of Loudon, from the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, 1685." It is about a third shorter than that given in the "Cloud." Its closing sentences are—
"Now, in all I have said, possibly some may mistake me, and say that I commend myself. But thus and thus I have said, to commend the goodness of God, with whom there is no respect of persons. For I can say, from long and sad experience, that of all that have been privileged to suffer for truth, I have been the most notorious sinner; and this I leave under my hand, when I am now within seven or eight hours to enter into eternity, that all may wonder and admire the condescension of free grace and rich love so freely bestowed upon me. To the commendation of His matchless goodness, He has passed by guiltiness and sin in me beyond many. . . . And now I shall shut up my time, and discourse with this. Let all wonder, admire, and praise Him for what he has done to me and for me."
John Howie adds the following note:
"N.B.—Let none doubt of the veracity of this testimony . . . although it be not the same as to matter or method with that published first in quarto by his son—a soldier in the Castle of Edinburgh—and now in the 'Cloud of Witnesses,' perhaps it might be either by him corrected and enlarged, or else wrote at a later time, as the one is more full on his own case, and the other less so.
(Signed), "john Howie, Jany. 1776."
Neither Wodrow nor the "Cloud" gives an account of his last hours. A quaintly-expressed and deeply-interesting narrative is appended to his life. It is—
"An Appendix, related and attested by some of his intimate acquaintance, that were eye and ear witnesses to his martyrdom."
"This valiant Christian, and faithful courageous martyr for truth, John Nisbet, in Hardhill, with whom we were for many years familiarly acquainted, was a strict observer of the Sabbath, a great examiner of the Scriptures, a great wrestler in prayer, reserved always as to his own case and soul's concernment; nor did many know how it was with him as to that, till he came to prison. Notwithstanding, he was always ready to contend for truth when it was opposed (which he usually termed precious), and had Scripture ready at all times to back what he spoke, either directly or by necessary consequence to the purpose in hand. . . .
"After he wrote this his last speech, he was taken out immediately to the Council, and from that to the place of execution; all the way thither he had his eyes lifted up to heaven, his face shined visibly, he seemed to rejoice, but spoke little till he came to the scaffold. When he came there he jumped up on it, and cried out: 'My soul doth magnify the Lord, my soul doth magnify the Lord; I have longed these sixteen years to seal the precious cause and interest of precious Christ with my blood. And now, now He hath answered and granted my request, and has left me no more ado, but to come here and pour forth my last prayers, sing forth my last praise to Him in time on this sweet and desirable scaffold, mount that ladder, and then I shall quickly get home to my Father's house, see, enjoy, serve and sing forth the praises of- my glorious Redeemer, for ever more, world without end.'
"Then he resumed the heads of his last testimony to the truth, and enlarged upon what he owned and what he disowned. But drums were always caused be beat when he spoke to the people, which you are sure deprived us much of the satisfaction that otherwise we might have had; yet over this difficulty we heard him say: 'The covenanted God of Scotland hath a dreadful storm of wrath provided, which He will surely pour out suddenly and unexpectedly like a thunderbolt upon these covenanted lands, for their perfidy, treachery, and woeful apostacy; and then men shall say, They have won well away that got a scaffold for Christ.
"He exhorted all to make much use of Christ for a hiding-place, for blood, blood, blood shall be the judgment of these lands. He sang the first six verses of the 34th Psalm, and read the eighth to the Romans. He offered prayer with great presence of mind and very loud; but for noise of drums, as hath been said, we could not distinctly hear what he either spoke or prayed, except when his face was