July 17th 1716
At the meeting yesterday the minister said he had a matter of consequence to bring up. This proves to be the case of Robert Wilson who is superseded as Session Clerk by Wm Taylor. The following is then read in the presence of Wilson.
Articles of Complaint and Information to the Session of Kilrenny by Mr Alexander Anderson Minister against Mr Robert Wilson Present Schoolmaster there.
It is of verity that when the late Earl of Mar his Order for raising a General Cess imposed upon this province came to the said Mr Wilson’s hand about the beginning of October last, he went through the parish on the Monday thereafter and intimated the Rebellion order to the Heritors and Tenants.
2nd. That when Strathmore passed by Kilrenny with his party upon the second or third Sabbath of the said month of October on the way from Crail to Auchertador [Auchterarder?] Mr Wilson was standing on the highway to meet with them he came in messenger from the Rebels to the Minister’s house and called him out to speak with Strathmore and these that were in company with him. As also that in the very time the said Strathmore and others were urging and threating the minister to desist praying in publick for our only Rightful Sovereign King George he (Mr Wilson) spoke to the minister pretty audibly saying “Sir Leith and Edinburgh were taken in by the Highlanders yester night adding that they viz the Rebels present had got certain information of it.” This lying and unseasonable newss in such adjuncture of time the minister could construct to be nothing but a wicked design in Mr Wilson to put him to confession and cause his betray himself into a Compliance with the Rebels demand and contrary to his conscience and duty.
3rd. That the said Mr Robert Wilson went along with the Rebels and attended them through the several towns upon the coast side, when and where they proclaimed the Pretender as King of Britian [sic] with sound of trumpet. This was on the seventh day of October last.
4th. That the said Mr Robert Wilson used to keep company and converse with the Rebels when they quartered in this country particularly with Stonniwood and the officers of his party, which lay at Anstruther. In November and December last, about which time he was frequently with the foresaid persons in Mr Le Blance’s house, where they met ordinarily and had their consultations with people that favoured their interest. As also that the said Mr Wilson did upon a Sabbath in December last at night sit in his schoolhouse with two or three of the Rebels of which George St Clair late Gager at Anstruther was one, the whole time that the minister was preaching to a good number of the people of the parish in Rennihils house. They sent the said Mr Wilson’s servant maid twice to a change house in the town for ale. The people as they came to and went from the service saw the horses saddled having pistols and other furniture of that kind upon them standing at Mr Wilson’s door as they did also the light burning in the school where they were drinking. The congregation’s wanting publick workshop that day is no small aggravation of Mr Wilson’s misspending and profaning the Sabbath evening – as has been said especially when he might have had sermon at his own door.
Thereafter the said articles were again read one by one and Mr Wilson interrogated upon them severally.
As to the first article he answered that he owned the charge laid against him therein but alleged that he did it i.e. intimated the Rebels’ order from the Cross for tenants’ safety.
To which answer the minister replied that this was a most groundless pretence for the intimating of the foresaid order was so far from being a favour or kindness that it was manifest a prejudice and injury done both to the masters and tenants being that it was a direct method to expose them to the fury of the Rebels in case of deficiency of payment in regard that after the foresaid order was intimated to them they could no more plead ignorance of the said order as an excuse for not giving obedience to it. Beside the minister desired the Session to notice that Mr Wilson his making intimation of this order for the Cess as it was plainly obedience given and service done to the Pretender and to the Rebels acting in his name and for his interest contrary to his duty so it behoved to be altogether voluntary on his part and consequently no obscure evidence of his affection and good wishes to the Jacobite cause of which he has all along been much suspected. In as much as it was more than what he was obliged to do even by the order itself viz to publish it after the manner he did for the order required no more of him nor of any precentor to whom it was directed but to read from the Lettrine on such a Sabbath as determined in the paper.
And Mr Wilson has a sufficient excuse to plead for himself for not reading it to the parish in the church because that on that very day it should have been intimated according to the order the congregation was abruptly dissolved before divine worship was ended by the noise of the Rebels being in the town.
As to the 2nd articles Mr Wilson acknowledged that he was standing at the South Yairds which are close upon the High Road that Sabbath when Strathmore passed by with his men and confessed that he came in to the minister’s house with the message mentioned in the information. But he alleges that he spoke these words which are charged against him as culpable in this article of the complaint after the Rebels were gone away from the place and at the same time denied that he spoke them credibly or so as any might hear them but the Minister himself to whom they were directed.
To this answer the minister replied that as we was surer of nothing than that Mr Wilson spoke the foresaid words to him when they were both standing with the Rebels so he remembers perfectly well that he came off abruptly from the Rebels and left Mr Wilson with him and that he came straight home alone and spoke to nobody by the way till he came to his own yaird where finding some of the Elders particularly Bailie Peacock he told them what had passed between himself and the Rebels and at the same time gave them account as he said to Rennihill and several others that same night and next day of the villainous news which Mr Robert told him before Strathmore as he minds he then called it. The Minister further added that he thought the answer did pretty sufficiently confute it for if Mr Wilson had told him the news of Edinburgh being taken after the Rebels were gone, there was not the least reason for whispering it as he positively asserts.
As to the 3rd Article Mr Wilson answered that he went through Cellardyke and Anstruther indeed with the Rebels that day they proclaimed the Pretender but not with a design to attend them.
The minister did not reply but referred it to the Session, Mr Wilson insisted and was then removed when on being closeted alone it was agreed to leave the whole matter to the Pres.
[Anstruther Easter Kirk Session minutes, NRS Ref CH2/625/37 p. 22-25]
Jacobites in Fife
Three hundred years ago this week, there were recriminations in Anstruther following the Jacobite rebellion of the previous year.
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