Covenanter Cargill Executed

Dan Graves, MSL

Covenanter Cargill Executed

Death to the believer is just like putting off a worn suit of clothes, and putting on a new suit." Those were the words of Donald Cargill. On this day, July 27, 1681, he put on his new suit.

A scottish preacher, he suffered persecution when he refused to accept the episcopal form of church government (bishop run churches) that London tried to impose on Scotland. Scotland was Presbyterian (elder run). Thousands in Scotland signed their names to covenants in which they promised to uphold the faith of their fathers. Some fought for it. Donald took part in the disorganized Battle at Bothwell Bridge at which the king's forces defeated the Scottish rebels, but, although wounded, he escaped.

In a famous sermon, he "excommunicated" King Charles II and his counselors, saying, "The Church ought to declare that those who are none of Christ's are none of hers."

Such actions marked him as a wanted man. Several times he was almost captured. One such instance took place at Queensferry. An agent of the king, praised Donald and expressed a desire to meet with him to drink to his health. When Donald appeared, the agent pretended friendship but then arrested Donald and Henry Hall. The men struggled to escape. Hall was mortally wounded. Donald also was wounded, but got away. Despite his injuries, he preached the following Sunday.

Wandering in exile, he often preached openly in the Scottish lowlands, but at other times, he was forced to stay hidden. Highland clansmen hunted for Donald and other Covenanters, because they had been promised bounties for the capture of such "rebels."

The law caught up with Donald at Lanarkshire in May 1681. He was cruelly treated and hauled to jail with his feet tied tightly under a horse's belly. Convicted of high treason in Edinburgh, he was condemned to be hanged and beheaded.

In one of his sermons, Donald had said, "If believers loved Christ as He loves them, they would be more in haste to meet Him." That spirit caused him to die bravely. As he mounted the ladder to be hanged, he said, "The Lord knows, I go up this ladder in less fear and perturbed of mind that ever I entered the pulpit to preach... Farewell, all relations and friends in Christ; farewell all acquaintances and all earthly enjoyments; farewell reading and preaching, praying and believing, wanderings, reproaches and sufferings. Welcome joy unspeakable and full of glory. Welcome Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Into thy hands I commit my spirit."

To the Covenanters, Donald was a martyr for the faith that many Scots had vowed to uphold. But to those Scots who had accommodated the reigning powers, he seemed a radical and a traitor.


  1. Cargile, John. "Donald Cargill, a Scottish martyr." The Highlander. metaphysicsgalore/Cargile.html
  2. "Covenanters Memorial, the." placesofinterest/covenanters.htm
  3. "Donald Cargill."
  4. "Donald Cargill." Significant Scots. other/cargill_donald.htm
  5. Smellie, Alexander. Men of the Covenant. Revell, 1903.
  6. Various internet articles.

Last updated July, 2007

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