McWh*rters
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Extracts of cases before the Privy Council of Scotland for the surname McWh*rter.  (sources)
Contributed by:
Dr Edward H. Thompson
Director, School of American Studies
University of Dundee,  Scotland

Introduction

McWh*rters were of no great importance during the 17th century so appear only on the periphery of the cases registered or decided before the Privy Council of Scotland - particularly at the start of the century they are tenants called out in support of their landlords, not even sure whether to take their leader's name or that of their father. Those who appear in the Privy Council records are not at the bottom of the social heap either: they are apparently tenant farmers or small merchants, rather than labourer or servants. They seem to have been law-abiding - though some were caught up in their masters' adventures, no McWh*rter was accused of murder, theft or witchcraft. (And in the next century, none was listed among the Jacobites who were out in the '45.)

Index of Complaints

  1. 1598 Nov. Raid carried out by Duncan Campbell (Captain of Carrick) and others against the Duke of Lennox and Aula McAula of Ardincaple.
  2. 1601 Dec. Complaint before the Privy Council against John, Earl of Cassilis who on 11th December 1601 assembled a force of about two hundred men armed with jacks, steel helmets, breastplates (corselets) and lances, hagbuts and pistolets at Maybole, in Ayrshire
  3. 1609 Mar. A series of bonds were arranged in connection with David Campbell of Skeldon and Robert Campbell in Potterstoun who were "lying at the horn" (outlawed) for the "insolence" they had committed on Jeane Craufurd, wife of Johne McDowell of Logane.
  4. 1610 saw a complaint by George McChartour, a tailor who was a burgess (full citizen) of Edinburgh that on 7th March he was approached at home by Johne Hammiltoun, son of the late Johne Hamiltoun who had also been a burgess.
  5. 1610 Mar. Tthe Privy Council ws petitioned by Andro McChrutter in Cossfinik for letters of charge against Alexander Kennedy of Daljarrock, his sons John and Patrik Kennedy, and his wife Besie Grahame.
  6. 1621-22 complaint by Walter McAulay of Ardincaple, baillie of the Duke of Lennox, that various people, mainly Campbells but including Finlay McWorertich in Ruchnie, had during the previous three years cut down and destroyed almost all the growing trees in the Duke's woods and forests at ------, and peeled the bark off the remainder "sua that
    thay ar become dead and rottin treyis."
  7. 1628 Nov. Mr John Fergussoun of Kilkerrane, Francis Mure of Auchendraine John McChutour in Furdhouse of Kilquhinzie William McWattir (in Kilkerrane) and others armed with "jacks, secreits, plaitsleaves, gantlets, steel bonnets" hagbuts, pistols and other weapons came by night to the town of Maybole...
  8. 1678 ... by the Minister of St Quivox, near Ayr, that various parishioners including Thomas McWatter in Kirkhill, a tenant of Jon Stewart of Shawwood, were persons who lived orderly lives and attended the kirk,...
  9. 1679 Sept. Hew McQuatter, a surgeon in Stranraer, signed a bond that he would thereafter abstain from taking arms against his Majesty.
  10. 1684 John McQhirter in Caldone was summonsed to appear at Kirkcudbright on a charge of "converseing with Anthon Steweart, rebell, in March or Apprill last."
  11. 1684 Oct.  ... Mr Thomas Skinner, minister at Dailly, swore that  he then listed his patrons and parishioners, those who did not attend the kirk at all, and opined that those whose attendance was irregular were absent for reasons other than hostility to the government of the church.
  12. 1685 Mar. Case brought against James Crawfurd of Ardmillan and his sons of taking money for conniving at the escape of rebels, arresting in their place innocent people who could not pay... One witness deponed "that he saw Hugh M'Heurtter in company with Mr John Welsh and other rebells at Maybole
  13. Peter Brause, "engineer, German" obtained a monopoly of manufacturing playing cards within Scotland, which forbade trade in imported cards.
  14. 1686 Jan. Petition of John McWhirtowr in the parish of Ballantrae: "He lives in a remote place in moorish ground, and some rebels came to his house about twelve a'clock at night ...
  15. 1687 Dec. A number of tenants in Ballantrae, Calmonnel and Barr (including two called John McWhirter) signed procuratoships empowering solicitors to act on their behalf against the baillie of Carrick and his fiscal who had been swindling them...
  16. 1690 Aug. Hugh McQuarter a Writer appeared before the Sheriff Court in Ayr as procurator.

Complaints

1. The first McWhirter to be listed is in a complaint placed before the Privy Council by the Duke of Lennox and Aula McAula of Ardincaple that in November 1598 a raid was carried out by a large party of their enemies led by John McNaughton of Dundievaw and his brothers, Duncan Campbell (Captain of Carrick), Neil Campbell of Drumsynnie, and others. Each had his followers, and the punctuation suggests that Johne McCriotor alias Campbell in Archattane was one of the followers of Duncan Campbell - presumably a tenant, farming some land at Ardchattan. Along with the followers of McNaughton and the Campbells there were 'broken highland men', presumably landless clansmen. The raiding party totalling 100 or more arrived at night at Ardincaple, where they hid in the woods. They were armed with 'hagbuts, pistolets, bows, darlochs, and habershons' (arquebuses, pistols, bows, ) and they concealed themselves quietly until morning, waiting for Aula McAula to come out of his house so that they could kill him. While they lay hidden they saw Johne McIntailiour, Alexander McAula, Patrick McAula (a messenger) and another Patrick McAula who was a servant of the Duke of Lennox coming on the road to Ardincaple, and fearing that the ambush would be discovered the raiding party took them prisoner and treated them 'verie hardlie'. The raiders saw Patrick Campbell, a servant of the Earl of Argyll, riding on a horse and thinking he was the Laird of Ardincaple, they rushed out of the woods and with hackbuts and bows pursued him most fiercely, and had certainly killed him had he not showed them who he was. They remained for a long time in the lands of the Laird of Auchincaple, until they began to fear being hunted down by the people of the district. They then released their prisoners, and retreated after sacking the houses of John Dow McAula at Garelochhead and Patrick McAula in Aldonit. They then made their way to the Duke of Lennox's land at Strone and Achingaith and stole 32 horses and mares from his tenants there, along with 24 cows. They hamstrung another 8 cows. [The accused did not appear in court and were denounced as rebels] Index

2. Complaint before the Privy Council against John, Earl of Cassilis who on 11th December 1601 assembled a force of about two hundred men armed with jacks, steel helmets, breastplates (corselets) and lances, hagbuts and pistolets at Maybole, in Ayrshire. The indictment names most of the members of this force and specifies where they come from. Roughly half are townsmen, and their occupation or trade is given; the countrymen are perhaps mainly tenant farmers owing alleigance directly or indirectly to the Earl of Cassilis; there are also a few who seem to be professional soldiers: Captain Johne Foster, James McCharray and John McGrane (Officers), Andrew Cauldwell and Williame Harlaw (hagbutters), and Hew Betoun (a drummer). Among the countrymen is David McQuhorter in Batlewand; if his position in the list is significant, this may have been in the neighbourhood of Dalrymple. With this force the Earl of Cassilis came out of the town of of Maybole and intercepted Gilbert Kennedy of Bargennie who with a party of friends and servants was on his way from Ayr to his home at Bargennie. They attacked Kennedy and his party and "schot and dischargit a nowmer of hacquebuttis and pistolettis at thame" with the result that several of the Laird of Bargennie's company were hurt and wounded, and they "schamefullie, cruellie, and unmercifullie slew" the Laird himself. The defence of the Earl of Cassilis was that he had warrants dated 9th and 21st July 1601 authorising him to pursue with fire and sword Hew Kennedy of Bennan, Thomas Kennedy of Drumurchy, and a number of others, who were with Gilbert Kennedy of Bargennie at the time of the attack. The Laird of Bargennie had in effect been associating with outlaws when he was caught in the crossfire. Prosecution argued that the warrants were invalid, but the Privy Council ruled that Cassilis was justified.Index

3. On 18th March 1609 a series of bonds were arranged in connection with David Campbell of Skeldon and Robert Campbell in Potterstoun who were "lying at the horn" (outlawed) for the "insolence" they had committed on Jeane Craufurd, wife of Johne McDowell of Logane. Thus Neill Montgomerie put up a bond of 300 merks that David and Robert Campbell would appear before the Privy Council; David Dumbar of Dundork put of a bond of 500 merks that Charles Campbell the younger of Skeldon would not communicate with the outlaw, and 100 marks that his brother would do the same; Johne Smyth in Holmes of Dalrymple put up a bond of 100 merks to the same effect for Johnne Smyth in Darumgobbis; Charles Campbell, fiar of Skeldon, put up 100 merk bonds to the same effect for some 22 people, including David McQuhoittour in Polclewane; this bond was subscribed and witnessed before the Sheriff of Ayr. It would seem probable that this David McQuhoittour was a tenant of Charles Campbell, who was the landowner (fiar). The relative magnitudes of the bonds suggest that it was more important to stop David Campbell's relations and supporters rallying round him, than it was to get him to appear before the Council to answer the charges brought by Jeane Craufurd. There is some overlap between the list of people the authorities wished to separate from David Campbell, and the list of people who rode out with the Earl of Cassilis against the Laird of Bargennie, and one might speculate that David McQuhoittour in Polclewane was in fact the same person as David McQuhorter in Batlewand. Index

4. 1610 saw a complaint by George McChartour, a tailor who was a burgess (full citizen) of Edinburgh that on 7th March he was approached at home by Johne Hammiltoun, son of the late Johne Hamiltoun who had also been a burgess. After some discussion Johne Hammiltoun persuaded McChartour to go with him to Castlehill to discuss something privately, which would be to McChartour's advantage. [The need to go outside for privacy suggests that George McChartour's house doubled as his tailor's shop, with apprentices or journeymen at work there.] The two men walked some distance on the south side of the hill, then Hammiltoun asked McChartour to go "over the North bank" with him, and without further words tried to strike him in the stomach with a long dagger. McChartour dodged that thrust, but Hammiltoun "fetchit ane uther stryke" and wounded him severely in the head. [Judgement was that Hammiltoun should be arrested for not appearing in court.] Index

5. On 19th March 1610 the Privy Council ws petitioned by Andro McChrutter in Cossfinik for letters of charge against Alexander Kennedy of Daljarrock, his sons John and Patrik Kennedy, and his wife Besie Grahame. The complaint was that on a Sunday in October 1609 he had been waylaid on his way to the parish church of Colmonell by Alexander Kennedy who was armed and armoured for war. McChrutter ran for it, pursued by Kennedy who would have killed him if John Mure of Spensartoun had not come to his rescue. [Petition granted.] Index

6. 1621-22 complaint by Walter McAulay of Ardincaple, baillie of the Duke of Lennox, that various people, mainly Campbells but including Finlay McWorertich in Ruchnie, had during the previous three years cut down and destroyed almost all the growing trees in the Duke's woods and forests at ------, and peeled the bark off the remainder "sua that thay ar become dead and rottin treyis." [No defence appearing, they were denounced as rebels] Index

7. Complaint that on 22nd November 1628 Mr John Fergussoun of Kilkerrane, Francis Mure of Auchendraine John McChutour in Furdhouse of Kilquhinzie William McWattir (in Kilkerrane) and others armed with "jacks, secreits, plaitsleaves, gantlets, steel bonnets" hagbuts, pistols and other weapons came by night to the town of Maybole and used ladders to get in through the roof of the house where James Kennedy of Blairquhan and Gilbert Baird of Kilquhinzie were sleeping. The attackers took over the house before anyone knew they were there, broke in all the chamber doors, and would have killed James Kennedy had he not managed to defend himself. Johne Fergussoun aimed a loaded pistol at Gilbet Baird and would have killed him, but the weapon (presumably a wheel-lock) misfired. [Defence that Fergusson had a warrant for the arrest of James Kennedy's father, which entitled him to force an entry. He admitted carrying a pistol, contrary to the law, and was fined 50 merks. Counter complaint by Fergussoun that Kennedy had been riding about for a month with hagbuts and pistols to kill Fergussoun over a debt. Upheld, and the elder Kennedy 'put to the horn']. Index

8. The Committee of Council for the West petitioned early in 1678 by the Minister of St Quivox, near Ayr, that various parishioners including Thomas McWatter in Kirkhill, a tenant of Jon Stewart of Shawwood, were persons who lived orderly lives and attended the kirk, and therefore did not require to have troops quartered upon them. [Petition granted, warraant given to the Major General to free the said persons of quartering.] Index

9. 2nd September 1679 Hew McQuatter, a surgeon in Stranraer, signed a bond that he would thereafter abstain from taking arms against his Majesty. Surgeons at this time were a recognised body who had completed some training, but substantially below the status of physicians.Index

10. In 1684 John McQhirter in Caldone was summonsed to appear at Kirkcudbright on a charge of "converseing with Anthon Steweart, rebell, in March or Apprill last." On 7th October 1684 the heritors, freeholders, liferenters and woodsetters of the stewartry of Kirkcudbright were called on a complaint of harbouring, receiving and conversing with rebels and fugitives. Among them were James M'Whirter in Armannie and John M'Whirter in Caldons. On 10th October 1684 John M'Qhirter in Caldons confessed that he had only seen Anthonie Stewart in September 1683, swore never to harbour, receive, or converse with rebels, and was content to take the Test. The Lords found him and most of the others guilty of only forced and accidental converse with the rebels, and ignorant of the law, and allowed them to take the Test: this was done solemnly, kneeling in court with uplifted hands and repeating the words prescribed by Parliament. James M'Whirter in Armannie, however, was found guilty of constantly conversing with William Russell, fugitive; he was fined 100 merks, to remain in prison until the fine was paid; he was also to be put in the "joggs" [jougs, stocks] for two hours, and made to take the Test. On his release he was to make due acknowledgement of his faults in the kirk after service on Sunday morning. Index

11. 14 October 1684 in the presence of Lord Livingston Mr Thomas Skinner, minister at Dailly, swore that his elders, deacons, session clerk and bedell [included] ... Gilbert McQuhirtir in Kilgrainie, John McQuhirtir in Balgaverie he then listed his patrons and parishioners, those who did not attend the kirk at all, and opined that those whose attendance was irregular were absent for reasons other than hostility to the government of the church. His deposition concluded that he was well pleased with his elders, exept that only three of them took communion - "Thomas McClellan in Dalquhur, Alexander McBlain in Kilkerran and Gilbert McQuhirtir ther." On the same day the elders and deacons of the church at Dailly made sworn statements about their parishioners. They all agreed with each other, including "Gilbert McHurter in Killgrainie, present, upon oath, of the age of 60 yeirs or thereby, maried, depones idem, quhich is the treuth, as he shall ansuer to God, and cannot wryt. John McWhirtor in Ballgavrie, of the age of 40 yeirs or thereby, maried, depones idem, which is the treuth, as he shall ansuer to God, and cannot wryt" [That neither could write is not surprising: more than half the elders and deacons in this parish could not sign their depositions.] Index

12. 3rd March 1685 case brought against James Crawfurd of Ardmillan and his sons of taking money for conniving at the escape of rebels, arresting in their place innocent people who could not pay. One of the charges concerned Hugh M'Qharter at Banchurch "who was at rebellion, and brought him to the house of Ardmillen, and after some transaction betwuixt him and the rebell he gott a pass from Ardmillen to goe to Ireland." One witness deponed "that he saw Hugh M'Heurtter in company with Mr John Welsh and other rebells at Maybole as he came along from the meitting at Sauchill" and another agreed that he saw "the said Hugh M'Cheurtter att Ayr in company with the rebels after they came from the meitting att Sauchill and that he believes Mr Welsh wes with them. And that he knows no more of the said M'Wheurtter." The witnesses' accounts are confused, partly by the spelling, which suggests that 'Banchurch' is a misreading, caused by merging Hugh McWhirter [who was released from Ardmillan] with Hugh McCutcheon [M'Utcheon, who was taken from Ardmilland to the Tolbooth at Ayr]: "Samuel Paterson, messenger, proves that Hugh M'Quhter at Bar wes a prisoner at Ardmillans house and that he gave Ardmillan a bond and a cautioner befor he was sett at liberty. Hugh Craufurd, servant, wes at the taking of Hugh M'Hutcheon at the Barr kirk and brought him prisoner to Ardmillan and nixt day some of his his friends purchast his libertie." The friends included relatives, since it seems that it was John M'Quhiter of Lefindonan who "sawe Hugh M'Qhuirtir a prisoner at Ardmillan and sawe them threatening to cary him prisoner to Mayboll and [he] became cautioner for him to Ardmillan for 100 merks, wherupon M'Quhirtr gott his liberty. [another was James Ross in Girvan who] gave him a ticket for fourty pounds Scots which was afterwards payed to Ardmillan, younger, at Gilbert M'Crerys house in Maybole." It would seem likely that it was Hugh McWhirter who is intended by Hugh M'Utchurter who got a pass to go to Ireland, but "is now suspected to be with the rebells and assassines that are in arms in Galloway." Index

13. Peter Brause, "engineer, German" obtained a monopoly of manufacturing playing cards within Scotland, which forbade trade in imported cards. He had a number of merchants in Ayr imprisoned for this offence, pending payment of 100 pounds Scots for infringment of his monopoly. On 26th November 1685 the provost of Ayr and a number of merchants, including Daniel McQuhirtoure, petitioned that they be released on the grounds that they had ceased to import or deal in the articles since Brause was awarded his patent Index

14. 28th January 1686 petition of John McWhirtowr in the parish of Ballantrae: "He lives in a remote place in moorish ground, and some rebels came to his house about twelve a'clock at night when he was in bed and threatened to slay him, and robbed and spoiled his house; and on the morrow he being convened before Colonel Dowglas was immediately imprisoned 'wpon his ingeniows confesione' till he granted bond for 300 merks, extorted from him. He therefore craves it to be refunded, as he is and intends to remain a peaceable loyal subject. (signed) John McWhirter" Index

15. 31st December 1687 a number of tenants in Ballantrae, Calmonnel and Barr (including two called John McWhirter) signed procuratoships empowering solicitors to act on their behalf against the baillie of Carrick and his fiscal who had been swindling them by using false and unjust weights (heavier than the standard ones prescribed for use in Scotland). The powers of attorney were subscribed at Ballantrae, Furdhouse of Callmonnell and Greine of Auchinsoul. Index

16. On 19 August 1690 Hugh McQuarter a Writer appeared before the Sheriff Court in Ayr as procurator. For those unfamiliar with the term, a Writer (to the Signet) is a lawyer, or solicitor, in Scotland. Index

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Sources for the Extracts Above
Register of the Privy Council of Scotland
Volumes I-XIV (Edinburgh, General Register House 1877-1898)

Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Second Series
Volumes I-VIII (Edinburgh, General Register House 1899-1908)

Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, Third Series
Volumes I-XVI (Edinburgh, General Register House 1908-1970)



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