John Brown of Priesthill ~ Covenanter

John Brown of Priesthill ~ Covenanter: A devout Covenanter from Priesthill in Ayrshire who held illegal services at Priesthill; he was known as the Christian Carrier. In May 1685 John Graham of Claverhouse (Bonnie Dundee) with several troops came to the home of John Brown demanding of him an oath of allegiance to the Crown. Brown refused the order and was shot dead; he is buried near to where he was murdered (aged 58). Another John Brown (a descendent of the John Brown of Priesthill) was Minister of the Kirk O’ Muir Secession Church (Kinclaven) – 1902 – (the oldest United Presbyterian Church in Scotland – built in 1744 as an original secession church; repaired in 1830).

“The grave of John Brown lies in a remote and desolate spot, a mile or so from the farm of Priesthill not far from Muirkirk near Cumnock. There is a sign just outside Muirkirk on the Muirkirk – Strathaven road that indicates where the grave is.From there you follow the road to Priesthill farm then a path of sorts leads to the actual site.The terrain is not too difficult and the walk from the farm to the grave is probably less than a mile.The main inscription on the graveslab shown in the photograph reads as follows,

“In deaths cold bed the dusty part here lies Of one who died the earth as dust despises Here in this place from earth he took departure Now he has got the garland of the martyr”

“Butchered by Claver’s and his bloody band Raging most ravenously over all the land Only for owning christ’s supremacy Wickedly wronged by encroaching tyranny Nothing how near so ever he to good Esteemed nor dear for any truth his blood”

The florid language used evokes the passion felt at the time. Brown was a staunch supporter of the Covenant and was known to Alexander Peden, indeed Peden conducted Browns marriage ceremony and visited Brown at his small farm, the remains of which can still be seen today close to his grave and memorial. Peden the so called “Prophet of the Covenant” it is said told Browns wife to ready linen to wrap her husband in for burial as he would be killed when they least expected it. Brown was well known as a supporter of the Covenant and his farm was used for meetings of those involved in the struggle. Apparently Brown and his nephew were surrounded by soldiers whilst cutting peat. The soldiers asked them why prominent Covenanters visited them and asked Brown to swear an oath of allegiance to the King. Brown refused to do this and was taken back to his farm and shot and killed in front of his family by Graham of Claverhouse or “Bluidy Clavers” as he was known. John Brown was fifty eight years old when he died.”