Parish Church of Kirkmichael was built a little over a century ago, and although
neat enough in appearance, has no particular claim to attention. But it is
different with the churchyard, which is one of the sweetest "God's
acres" in this neighbourhood. It has indeed all the elements of beauty and
interest in a typical Scotch burying- place. It has a church in its centre to
impart a living human interest, is embosomed in trees, encircled by a burn (the
Dyrock), possesses one of the oldest tombstones in the county (1506), and, most
precious of all, can boast of a Martyr's monument, so dear to the Scottish
heart. This monument (Gilbert M'Adam's), which stands in the foreground of the
engraving, has the small original slab, hewn by "Old Mortality,"
inserted in its side, with the persecutor's name (the laird of Colzean and
Ballochmil) first erased and then inserted again. The churchyard, too, like most
others, has its little group of ministers' tombstones, the oldest of which bears
the following quaint, though somewhat ungrammatical, inscription:-
Mr Peebles left in trust
His body to be turned to dust;
His flock, his wife, his bairns eleven,
Revives his name: himself's in heaven;
For, praised be God, grace never quat him
In life nor death, till glory gat him.
1617; entered into rest, 1636."
Mr Peebles, the fame still lingers of Mr Kennedy and Mr M'Ewen, to both of whom
memorials were erected by the people of the parish. But the most prominent
tombstone is the Covenanter's aforesaid, whose fate indeed must have caused an
immense sensation in this covenanting part of Scotland, and whose memory,
accordingly, is well preserved. The leading incidents of his death may be thus
Gilbert M'Adam 's come back to his home,
O'er the Atlantic's broad billows of foam,
Come to uphold the old banner of blue,
Come back to die for the Covenant true.
laird of Colzean has scented his prey,
And summoned his men at the gloaming of day,
And down the valley of Dyrock he's rode
To slaughter the saints of the living God.
Saturday night, and the Sabbath drew on;
No sounds were heard in that deep vale
No sounds but the sounds of prayer and praise
From the lowly cot where
praise is hushed-what is 't we hear? '
Tis the footfall of horses trampling near.
The house is surrounded-the saint is slain,
His like will ne'er be on earth
now the grave in the churchyard grey,
Where they laid the corpse of his wangled clay,
Is honoured by all the country round,
A sacred spot of hallowed ground,
men of all parties find their way
To look, and pause, and think, and pray;
For the spot stained by the martyr's blood
Still proves the seed of the church of God.
Kirkmichael Kirkyard Monumental Inscriptions