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The Death of John Brown of Priesthill


An extract from ‘Scottish Heroines of the Faith’…

John Brown and Isabel Weir had been together but three short years. It was Alexander Peden, the Prophet of the Covenant, who joined them together in the bonds of matrimony. And in keeping with the weird mystery that surrounded his person and sayings, he turned to the bride, who then had no consciousness of the terrible fate awaiting her husband, and said, “Isabel, you have got a good man, but you will not enjoy him long. Prize his company, and keep linen by you to be his winding-sheet, for you will need it when not looking for it, and it will be a bloody one.”

Then came the last and sad farewell between husband and wife. “Take good-night of your wife and children,” said Claverhouse. The brave man rose from his knees, and as he approached his wife, to bid her the last farewell on this side of eternity, he said, “Now, Isabel, the day is come that I told you would come, when I spake first to you of marrying me.” And the answer she gave made it easier for him to kneel for the last time ere the bullets of the troopers laid him a lifeless corpse on the green grass. “Indeed, John,” she said, “I can willingly part with you.” “That’s all I desire,” said the martyr; “I have no more to do but to die.” He kissed his wife and child, knelt in prayer, and then, according to Patrick Walker, “Claverhouse ordered six soldiers to shoot him, and the most part of the bullets came upon his head, which scattered his brains upon the ground.”

Then turning to the widow, Claverhouse asked, “What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?” “I thought ever much good of him,” she replied, “and now as much as ever.” “It were but justice,” was the cruel rejoinder, “to lay thee beside him.” “If you were permitted,” she said, “I doubt not but your cruelty would go that length; but how will you make answer for this morning’s work?” “To man I can be answerable, and for God, I will take him in my own hands,” was the contemptuous and daring reply.

After the troopers had left, the young widow laid her helpless infant beside the body of her dead husband, and lovingly gathered up in a napkin the fragments of the scattered head. When this labour of love was over, her heart at last became a fountain of tears as she realised what had taken place.

D. Beaton, Scottish Heroines of the Faith, pp. 21-22

From → Covenanters

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