Covenanters Memorial
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Photograph of Covenanters Memorial by David KiltieThere is an interesting Covenanting incident connected with Maybole. There is a tradition handed down that the field beyond Gardenrose Toll was anciently called the Muster Lea, from the fact that the Carrick Covenanters mustered there in 1679 before marching to Bothwell Brig fight. How many mustered we do not know; but if, as has been reckoned, there were 1000 Ayrshire men at Bothwell, we may be sure Carrick was not behind with her contingent. At Bothwell fight, 400 men were killed, and some 1200 taken prisoners. The prisoners were taken to Edinburgh, and there "penned" for five weary months in Greyfriars' Churchyard. A few escaped, several were hanged, a number died. Those who chose to acknowledge their error were set at liberty. But those who still held out (257 in number) were shipped off to America as slaves, whither, however, they never arrived, as they were ship-wrecked on the Orkneys, and most of them drowned.

Now, a list has been preserved of the men who were thus banished, and we find that six of them belonged to Maybole. These men once lived in our fields, gathered at the Muster Lea, marched away to Bothwell to aid their brethren, were taken prisoners there and driven into Greyfriars' Churchyard, refused to forswear themselves even for dear liberty, and at last found a rest from their troubles at the bottom of the restless sea. These men were as much martyrs for their faith as any who were shot in our fields in the "Killing times," and certainly suffered more. And it has been thought right to inscribe their names on the Memorial. Their names were Mungo Eccles, Thomas Home, Robert M'Garron, John M'Harrie, John M'Whirter, William Rodger-all brave men and true. Our Maybole Covenanters' Memorial, then, was designed to commemorate our forefathers' attachment to the Covenanting Cause. It stands in the corner of the field where Cargill preached in 1681 ; it has built into it some of the fragments of the stone beside which he stood that day; and it sets forth the names of six of the men who assembled on "Muster Lea" and marched away to Bothwell Bridge.  - From the book by Rev. R. Lawson, Places of interest about Maybole.


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