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steeps of Soutra Hill, and the minister stewing with his "ten
persons " in a " but and ben," for want of a manse ; while the
illustrious descendant of " a verray Jesabell," " a sweatt
morsale for the devillis mouth," wallowed in the unprincipled
gains of sacrilege.

The conspicuous ability of Henry Cockburn is more than
hinted at in the following recommendation which we quote
from the Proceedings of Commission of the General Assembly,
1647. "The Commission recommends Mr Henry Cokburne
to the Lord Advocat to assist him before the Commissioners
for planting of kirks." He was a member of the Assembly
in Glasgow, 21st November 1638, and doubtless he was
present at that great historical scene earlier in the same
year, on 1st March, when in Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh,
the Scottish nation, in its representatives, swore with uplifted
hands, and subscribed to the National Covenant. He was
essentially a man of strong individuality and pronounced
convictions, and unflinchingly asserted his principles in open
defiance of all consequences. Such men are usually broken
when they have no capacity for bowing down, and the
General Assembly, which met in July 1648, found it necessary
in his case to adopt this process. He was suspended on
that occasion, and referred by that court to the next Assembly
in July 1649, and finally deposed from his charge at Channel-
kirk in 1650. His offence was the monstrous one of praying
in public for the Army in England under the Duke of
Hamilton. As the duke's army was in England in 1648,
Cockburn's process of deposition had taken two years to
accomplish. No better proof could be given of the mad,
fanatical, and furious spirit which then smote the four corners



THE MINISTERS AND THEIR TIMES 153

of the Scottish Zion. " Scotland is in a hopeful way," says
Carlyle, writing of this time in his cynical vein," * " The
extreme party of Malignants in the North is not yet quite
extinct ; and here is another extreme party of Remonstrants
in the West — to whom all the conscientious rash men of
Scotland, in Kirkcaldy and elsewhere, seem as if they would
join themselves ! Nothing but remonstrating, protesting,
treaty ing, and mistreatying from sea to sea." War was
added to this state of matters, for Cromwell and his soldiers
were busy. Scotland was in the dangerous predicament of
the Church ruling the State, and when the Covenanters
claimed the same powers which the Pope now claims in
vain from us. The ecclesiastical world was broken up mainly
into two parties of Engagers and Remonstrants, later
Resolutioners and Protesters, and it appears Henry Cock-
burn must have been an Engager, for it was one of the
tenets of the Protesters that they dared not pray for the
success of the Scottish army in England, not having any
warrant from God, as they said, to do so. The valley of
the Leader, to all appearance, held by the royal cause, as the
Duke of Lauderdale himself was taken prisoner and lodged
in the Tower of London for fighting to attain the same
purpose for which Cockburn, somewhat earlier, prayed, and
was deposed. But the Protesters ultimately came to be
the dominant party in Scotland, and, as a consequence,
intolerably treated the party opposed to them. They de-
prived them of their livings, and Cockburn lost Channelkirk.
He might also have lost his life in the passionate wrangle,
for the two parties visited upon each other the heaviest
censures, but Cromwell's army kept the peace, and suppressed
any attempts at martyr-making. It is before the month
* CromivelPs Life and Letters, vol. iii., p, 85.



154 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

of May of 1650, that he begins his term of "great miserie,"
for his successor, David Liddell, is admitted and ordained
on the 30th May of that year. Just thirteen days before
this latter event we find the following statement in Assembly
Reports : " The Commission of Assembly,* their advyce being
desired by two of the brethren of the Presbyterie of Ersil-
toune, in name of the whole Presbyterie, in the particular
concerning Mr Harie Cockburn, which was fully represented
by the said brethren, the Act of Synod and Presbyterie
thereanent being produced, did think fitt to give the advyce
following, to witt : That according to the transaction betwixt
the said Mr Harie and the Commissioners of the said
Presbyterie to the last General Assembly, and according to
the Recommendation of the said General Assembly for that
effect, and according to the Act of the Presbyterie following
upon both, that thrie hundreth merks should be payed yeirly
by the next intrant, out of the stipend of Ginglekirk, to the
said Mr Harie Cockburne, as long as he lives, and the
Commission advyses to take securitie of the intrant for that
effect before his admission."

It is clear that by this date he is out of Channelkirk.
But negotiations had been set afoot to provide a competence
for him. His brethren of the Presbytery of Earlston had
taken counsel together, and through their Commissioners
to the Assembly had laid his case on the Assembly table
for consideration and advice. An " Act of Presbytery " had
been formulated, and then the Commission of Assembly
"advyses" in its cautious way that 300 merks (^16, 13s. 4d.
sterling) be given him out of Channelkirk stipend, and that
the new ministers should be taken bound for that purpose.
As Cockburn tells us himself that he " suffered great miserie "
* Commission of General Assembly^ 17th May 1650.



THE MINISTERS AND THEIR TIMES 155

during the period of his deposition, it is not likely that this
300-merk " advyse " had the slightest effect upon his fortunes.
He was turned adrift to sink or swim, illustrating once
more the tender mercies of the ecclesiastical divinity which
has always presided over the creation and regulation of
Christians in Scotland. He had ten persons to provide for,
too ! Such, however, were the awful penalties of prayer.
One speculates here as to how the knowledge of it reached
the Assembly from such a remote and incommunicable
parish. There must have been pious and zealous sneaks
in Channelkirk Church at that time, who did God service
in this way.

Cockburn lived, nevertheless, to see a new day arise with
less sorrow in it for him. After nine years had passed " he
had his mouth opened." He was restored to the ministry,
but not yet to Channelkirk. Still, he was allowed to address
his perishing fellow-creatures on the solemn concerns of
eternity. A great privilege, surely ; and, meanwhile, James
Deas, minister of Earlston, having been suspended from
his charge, Cockburn becomes locum tenens there for fifteen
months, beginning apparently about the close of 1659, the
year of his restoration to the ministry. Mr James Deas,
however, believed that although he did not preach to Earlston
people he should keep the purse-strings of Earlston stipend.
He refused to give Cockburn any stipend, notwithstanding
that the Synod had ordained a part to be paid to him, and
the difficulty becoming a deadlock, the case went to law.
Consequently here is this " Report by the Lords Commis-
sioners of Bills anent Mr James Dais, Minister at Ersle-
toune.

"There being ane persuitt depending before us at the instance of Mr
Henry Cockburn, sometime minister at Ginglekirk, against Mr James



156 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

Dais, minister at Ersletoune, whereby the persewer craved thrie chader
and ana half of victuall halfe oats and thrid pairt beer and sixscore of
pounds Scotts money payable furth of the teinds of Mellerstanes and
Ffaunes be the lairds of Gradone, Torsonce, and Grinknow, which is ane
part of the said defendis his stipend and ordained be Act of Synod to be
payed to the persewer for his service in preaching at the said Kirk of
Ersletoune be the space of fifteen months, during which tyme the said
defender was suspended.

" In the which persewit baith parties compearing, and they being both
hard, wee have of consent of both parties condescended that the said
Mr James Daes, defender, should have right to the same stipend in swa
far as is not already uplifted be him, and that the said Mr Henry Cock-
burn, persewer, should have the sowme of four hundredth merkis out of
the first and readiest of the samyne stipend. And in regard severall of
the gentlemen wha are lyable in payment of the said stipend also com-
peared and declared they were willing to pay to any of the said parties
who should be found to have best right.

" It is therefor our humble opinion that your G. & Lo. interpose your
decreet and authority to the condescendence above written."
"22 March "[1661].



On 2nd July following, we have it that " Parliament passed
Acts in favour of Mr John Veitch and Mr Henry Cockburne."
Mr John Veitch was the well-known minister of Westruther,
and Cockburn would thus return to Channelkirk with his
400 merks in his pocket (nearly ;^"2i), and to the church of
his first love. This " Act in his favour " was evidently one
removing all obstacles out of the way of his return to
Channelkirk Church once more, and may be regarded as
part of the arrangement by which Rev. David Liddell, the
officiating minister there since Cockburn's deposition, received
from Parliament ;^ioo sterling. For the " Act " for Cockburn
is dated 2nd July, and that for Liddell, 4th July, both 1661.
In 1662, David Liddell was called from Channelkirk, and
Henry Cockburn once more stood in his old pulpit there.
Twelve years of bitter experiences on account of patriotically
and piously praying for success to his soldier countrymen



THE MINISTERS AND THEIR TIMES 157

fighting in England ! The religion of Scotland has been
truly hammered out on hard anvils.

The last entry in the oldest record we possess, in the
handwriting of David Liddell, is dated 25th September
1662. Part of it runs: "Five pounds of this sum delivered
to James Somerville to be given to Mr Harry Cockburne for
that part of the bursar money due to him by an Act of the
Presbytery of Erslingtoune for the year of God 1662." The
" bursar " was the divinity student who was maintained at
college by Presbytery help. The General Assembly in 1641
enacted that Presbyteries maintain a bursar of divinity. If
twelve presbyters in number, they were to maintain him
alone, but if fewer than twelve, two presbyteries were to
combine. In 1645, it was provided that every bursar of
theology have yearly ;^ioo Scots. And it seems that
Earlston Presbytery had by their act diverted part of this
bursary of ^100 to Cockburn in respect of certain con-
siderations.

It sometimes happens that a brave ship which has
battled victoriously through stormy seas will go down to a
watery tomb in calm weather, within sight of shore, and of
those who have gathered on the harbourhead to welcome
her home. Henry Cockburn returned to Channelkirk in
full ministerial status and honour, only to lay down his work
where he first took it up, and render up his life to his Master.
It must have been late in the year of 1662 when he came
back, yet in November 1663 another minister is ordained in
his place. Let us trust that though his day had been full of
storm and darkness, and, as he puts it, of "great miserie,"
there was light and calm for him at eventide. From the few
scraps of his life and work which we have been able to glean,
we are constantly impressed with the pious earnestness and



158 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

manliness of the one, and the sustained and respected worth
of the other. His struggle against poverty was life-long,
but his spirit was never daunted, and he spoke his mind
before both God and man, freely and courageously, in days
when harassment and death stood at the foot of the pulpit
stairs to throttle the minister who ventured to use such a
freedom. His ability was known and claimed far beyond the
locality of the parish he served, and he seems to have been
esteemed and respected as much in the higher courts of the
Church as among his brethren of the Presbytery. He stood
loyal to the throne and to the sober-minded party in the
Church, at a time when conspiracy against authority and
blind fanaticism in religion raged wildly throughout the
three kingdoms. This augurs strongly for his sterling
common sense and sound healthy piety. His fervour did
not, like that of too many of his contemporaries, rush into
ferocity, nor does he appear to have left the safe path of
moderation and wise judgment to reach reforms by the
methods of passionate bigotry.

It only remains to add that his wife was named Isobell
Hutoun, and that he had a son called Harrie. The name of
Cockburn is territorially connected with Channelkirk about
thirty years after our minister's time, for William Cockburn,
son of Henry Cockburn, Provost of Haddington, becomes
interested in Glengelt and Over Howden in the year 1695.
But whether or not these Haddington Cockburns were
related to the minister of Channelkirk, it seems beyond us
now to ascertain.



CHAPTER VI

THE MINISTERS AND THEIR TIMES

After the Reformation

Professor David Liddell — Cromwell's Soldiers at Channelkirk — At
Lauder and Bemersyde — First Glimpse of Channelkirk People — The
Kirk Records— Divine Right of Kings, Prelacy, and Presbyterianism
— Terror and Desolation — Divot Renovation of Kirks — Collections
and Old Customs— The Lord's Supper— Liddell's " Laus Deo " and
Promotion — Walter Keith — Earlston Presbytery and Prelatic
Presbyterianism— Kirkton on Keith— William Arrot— Received
into Presbyterian Communion from Prelacy — His High Character —
Called to Montrose.

David Liddell — 1650- 1662

If Henry Cockburn has a strong claim to be considered
our martyr, his successor, David Liddell, has an undoubted
title to be called our scholar. The proof is found in the
professional eminence to which he afterwards attained in
Glasgow University.

After careful inquiry we regret that we are unable to
indicate either his parentage or his birthplace. Aberdeen
authorities suggest that he was most probably related to the
family of Liddells who were benefactors of and professors in
Marischal College in the seventeenth century. In all likeli-
hood he was born in Aberdeen, and as a boy would receive
his education there. In the list of students entered in the



160 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

year 1634, under "preceptor Robert Ogilvie," the name of
David Liddell occurs in the tenth place.* In the year 1638,
the year of " sturm und drang " in the Church of Scotland, he
obtained there, on the 31st July, the degree of Master of
Arts. He is set down ninth on the list of graduates.f

His first appearance at Channelkirk is in the memorable
year of 1650, the year which saw, among many other notable
events, the Psalms first put into metrical form by Francis
Rous, and the Marquis of Montrose executed in Edinburgh.
Dr Hew Scott, in his well-known Fasti, asserts that Liddell
came to Channelkirk in 1654. This is a mistake, and one
that proves that Scott cannot have consulted our Kirk
Records for his statement, Liddell has himself written it
down as 1650. It is the first historical sentence inserted
there. "Collections and penalties (gathered) (and) taken up
by William Wight, elder and deacon of the session of
Chinghilkirk, and depursements efter the admission and
ordination of Mr David Liddell, the 30th day of May
1650." \

The year and time call for some attention on our part.
It was the year of war and rumours of war. Cromwell and
his soldiers were then the terror of Berwickshire and the
south of Scotland. The fountains of the great national deeps
hs,d broken up, and over the three kingdoms the masses of
the people, the throne, the nobles, and the professions were

* Records of the University and King's College, p. 462. t Ibid., p. 511.

I The Kirk Records of Channelkirk begin with the year 1650, and
those of Earlston Presbytery, in which Channelkirk is included, with the
year 1691. In order to preserve their historical connection, and give
more vitality to the narrative, it is proposed, instead of giving detached
selections, to incorporate what of them appears necessary and ap-
propriate in the several notices of the persons and times associated and
contemporaneous with them. It is hoped the unity of interest may, on
this account, be better maintained.



THE MINISTERS AND THEIR TIMES 161

a wide sea of religious, civil, political, and social commotion.
Carlyle has expressed his conviction that Cromwell was the
only true ark of safety floating on these troubled waters.
It may be so, and it may be also that there have been rats in
every ark, not excepting Noah's, and the Cromwellian one was
certainly not innocent of them. Here is evidence. Among
the first things of parochial moment which the Rev. David
Liddell has to note in the Kirk Record is the following : —

"The rest of the poor's money in the box and in the
keeping of Robert Wight and Adam Somervell, the one
keeping the box, the other the key, by appointment of the
Session, was taken away by force be the English souldiers as
they declared befor the Sessione."

Rats and ravagement indeed are here, and not dis-
daining either to nibble away the crust of the poor. Later,
when they got the length of Dunfermline, we have a similar
story, for on the 12th of August 165 1, the session records
there tell how the English soldiers broke the " kirk boxe "
and " plunderit " it.

After the Army of the Engagement of 1648 had been
scattered by Cromwell, almost every county in Scotland was
put under military surveillance and cessment. In Lauder-
dale the evidences of this seem to have been too manifest.
The Lord of Thirlestane had left his castle by the banks of
the Leader to fight Cromwell in England, only to be taken
prisoner and sent to the Tower after the battle of Worcester,
3rd September 165 1. The English soldiers had taken up
their quarters in his palatial residence, about July 1649, and
kept the country for miles around in chronic panic. The
raid upon the poor's box at Channelkirk, six miles from the
base of their roystering escapades, points to depredations
throughout the whole of Upper Lauderdale, of which no

L



162 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

chronicle is now left to us. If these were unattended by blood-
shed and loss of life, it is more than can be said for their
plunderings in other parts of the district, notably at Bemer-
syde, where murder was foully done, though, in justice be it
said, as promptly avenged at Lauder by those of Cromwell's
own army, who directed their judgments by the lofty if stern
ideals of their master.*

How David Liddell carried himself in presence of these
zealot invaders, and how he and his peasant congregation
viewed the sacrilegious spoliation of the Sunday offerings
must be matter of conjecture only. He obtrudes his own
personality and conduct only in the leanest scraps of the
Kirk Record which he has left us. There is a hand merely,
and a presence moving among the transactions tabulated, but
he himself is as spectral as if he were already disembodied.
It is a matter of gratification, however, to find ourselves
actually in the area of interest and action of the Channelkirk
people. Hitherto our humble history has been, for most
part, a concern of names and land, proprietors and acres,
and the necessary correlatives of these which flood the
charters of the religious houses. The people themselves are
never seen and never heard. We know that they must be
there, toiling and suffering, endeavouring and enduring as
best they may, but for the purposes of history, their lot as
connected with the Church or local existence is sadly re-
flected in the words : —

" They have no share in all that's done
Beneath the circuit of the sun."

It is the privilege of David Liddell, through his record,
to introduce us to the inhabitants of Channelkirk parish.

* Memorials of the Haliburtons^ P- 4i-



THE MINISTERS AND THEIR TIMES 163

But blurred and torn church records, helpful as they are,
can never be more than a kind of broken mirror of days and
generations long gone past. Yet for what they lack in spatial
outline and detail, they usually make up in depth of character
and intensity. The names we meet are no longer affixed to
statues, as it were, but breathe in human shapes, and there
is soul in all that is said. The legal bars and doors of the
charters, with their castle-like pomposity, yield here to home
touches, and the play of thought and feeling. We no longer
walk upon macadamised paths and streets of asphalt, but
upon fresh grass, and with nature all around us. The actions
of the people are visibly reflected in more than shadowy
outlines. Their likes and dislikes, intentions and preferences,
are embodied in the men who play the chief parts and carry
their judgments into execution. The principal solemnities
of existence, their births, marriages, and deaths, are here
set out in all their glowing light or livid gloom. Everything
is sharply cut. The swift glimpse of the trembling hand of
some weary traveller, not yet called a " tramp," or poverty-
stricken parishioner, held out to receive the kirk session's
help, is followed, it may be, with the abrupt rebuke and
ecclesiastical castigation of some fornicating or Sabbath -
breaking wight. Broad glades of humour also open up
now and then through the prosaic jungle of " collections and
depursements," and routine " sederunts " of session. A dark
fringe of sickness and sorrow is always, of course, found
flowing from the web woven on " the roaring Loom of Time " ;
brief chronicles, like sudden shrieks, declaring to us the
strenuous struggle of life and death which is going on behind
them. Little sputters of dislike and grudging also break
out at intervals, and expressions of bile which cannot venture
beyond hints and mangled words. Passing events of local



164 HISTORY OF CHANNELKIRK

significance are often exact silhouettes of the more massive
and national ones contemporaneously being developed ; just
as one might, by aid of lenses, throw down on a small table
the aspect of a distant street or city. The widest interests
are frequently commingled, — a bridge over the nearest burn
dividing the " collections " with one over the Dee, the aid
given to teaching " poor scholars " of the neighbourhood
being drawn from the same pockets that assist a church in
Konigsberg or North America, or help the Bible to declare
itself in Gaelic. Struggles at the elections of ministers and
elders are, of course, frequent, and not always of a heroic
character. The ecclesiastical cockpit never wants combatants.
But the Day of Communion is the event which perhaps is
most heavily underscored in importance. Ministers, elders,
teachers, precentors, beadles, joiners, tents, ropes, and collec-
tions, bulk high in their several places, and attain annually
an increased greatness and profusion of record. It is the
religious tidal wave which yearly elevates every common and
ecclesiastical function of the church and parish, and which,
having passed, permits all to sink down to common levels of
routine once more. Conspicuous over all, watchful, fierce, and
despotic, towers the kirk session. None escapes its vigilance,
as few are able to elude its ban. Peer or peasant, farmer
or hind, rich or poor, all must bow to its dictates and listen
to its commands. It is an almonry, it is true, for the needy,
but it is also an arsenal for the refractory. And it is not only
in the Church where its power is felt. Not a pailful of water
can be carried home from the well, but cognisance is taken
whether it be done on Sabbath or Saturday. So with carry-
ing food, or yoking a cart. Not a fiddle may twangle at
marriage or merrymaking beyond the hours and bounds fixed
by this small body. Fathers of families are roundly told



THE MINISTERS AND THEIR TIMES 165

in what ways they should bear themselves at home or afield.
The weakest and most weather-winnowed creature in the
parish, it may be, when once seated in the chair of the elder,
does not hesitate to fulminate his judgments with a " Thus
saith the Lord."

These are features of Scottish life, which, of course, were
perfectly general over the country. The minister lived and
moved and had his being in an atmosphere as terrible as
that which enveloped Horeb. None disputed his authority ;
all except the most profane and hardened meekly yielded
place to him. " The minister of God's Evangel " he called
himself, but he approached nearer to a personification of law,
and he would shake the sleeve of the king as fearlessly as
he would the rheum-crusted fustian of the peasant. There
was a reason for all this. His power lay in his conviction



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