“You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin;” —Hebrews 12:4
James Renwick, Last Covenanter Martyr, 1668
pon the “Restoration” of King Charles II to the English monarchy in 1660, after the Commonwealth period of Oliver Cromwell, the persecution of resisters of royal tyranny returned with a vengeance. The first to fall in England were the regicides—anyone directly responsible in some way for the trial and execution of Charles I. In Scotland, the men considered the most uncompromising Covenanters* were targeted first—the Marquis of Argyll, Sir Archibald Johnston of Wariston, and Rev. James Guthrie. For the next twenty-eight years, the names on the rolls of the martyred Scots Presbyterians mounted, as they were hunted by the army and special forces, especially on Sundays, to catch them worshipping in places and ways not prescribed by the government.
The Scottish village of Moniaive in the Parish of Glencairn, in Dumfries and Galloway, southwest Scotland, birthplace of Rev. James Renwick, Covenanter preacher and martyr
Hundreds were executed for “treason,” that is, not accepting the king as head of the Church. Thousands were killed in battle, accused of revolution for defending their homes, tens of thousands were exiled or banished abroad as slaves. Perhaps up to 18,000 Scots Presbyterians—men, women and children—were imprisoned, tortured, banished or killed, for “the Crown and Covenant of Jesus Christ,“ mostly by fellow Scots serving their English masters. The Rev. James Renwick was the last Covenanter martyr executed in Edinburgh, in the Grassmarket, two days after his 26th birthday on February 17, 1688.
Statue of James Renwick (1662-1688), Valley Cemetery, Stirling, Scotland