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Donald Cargill


1619 - 1681

Covenanter. Born at Netherton of Cloquhat (Perth and Kinross) and raised at Bonnington near Rattray, Cargill was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, the University of Aberdeen and the University of St. Andrews, graduating in divinity in 1652. He was ordained Minister of the Barony Church in Glasgow in 1655 but, confirming his Covenanting sympathies, shocked his congregation seven years later by attacking the church hierarchy and making seditious comments during a service to celebrate the Restoration of King Charles II. Cargill was dismissed and banished to 'north of the River Tay'. He joined the ranks of the Covenanters, preaching in Perth, Coupar Angus, Dundee and Edinburgh, although he seems to have tried to mediate between the opposing sides in the later 1660s. However, appalled by the renewed persecution of Covenanters in the 1670s, he joined the Covenanting Army at the Battle of Drumclog (1679) and was wounded at the Battle of Bothwell Bridge later the same year. He fled to the Netherlands.

He returned to Scotland in 1680 and, together with Richard Cameron (1648-80), launched a coordinated campaign of field preaching at 'conventicles' and guerrilla warfare throughout the Lowlands. Cargill based himself at South Queensferry where he drafted a declaration of principles, contained in a document known as The Queensferry Paper which fell into government hands on 3rd June 1680 when Cargill narrowly escaped arrest at an inn in the town. It called for signatories to "overthrow the kingdom of darkness." After Cameron's death on 22nd July 1680, Cargill continued to preach, for example at the iconic Tor Wood near Denny. He excommunicated Charles II and his key supporters who were persecuting the Covenanters.

Eventually Cargill was arrested, sentenced to death and hanged in Edinburgh. He is remembered by a monument at Hatton, near Rattray, Cargill's Leap in Blairgowrie and Donald's Cleuch in the Scottish Borders.


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