John Brown was a farmer who lived at Priesthill near Muirkirk. He and his wife had been married by the Covenanter preacher Alexander Peden. He was one of many who refused to go to hear the Episcopal ministers. One morning, after Peden had been staying with them, Brown and his nephew were cutting peat when John Graham of Claverhouse and his dragoons suddenly appeared and seized them. Brown refused to take an oath denouncing James Renwick’s Apologetical Declaration and Claverhouse searched his house and found weapons and ‘treasonable papers’.
Claverhouse told his soldiers to shoot Brown, but they refused. Claverhouse then shot him dead himself in front of his wife and children. Claverhouse then asked his wife, “What thinkest thou of thy husband now, woman?” to which she replied “I thought ever so much good of him, and as much now as ever”.
In Claverhouse’s official report of the killing, he wrote “I caused shoot him dead, which he suffered very unconcernedly”. John Brown’s trust was in Jesus, so he wasn’t afraid to die.
A Cloud of Witnesses for the Royal Prerogatives of Jesus Christ; being the last speeches and testimonies of those who have suffered for the truth in Scotland, since the year 1680 ed. J. H. Thomson (Edinburgh and London, 1871? ), pp 536-7
Patrick Walker, Six saints of the Covenant, ed. D. H. Fleming (London, 1901), pp 84-7
DSCHT: Brown, John (of Priesthill); Graham, John, of Claverhouse
Sharon Adams, ‘Brown, John (1626/7–1685)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004
Magnus Linklater, ‘Graham, John, first viscount of Dundee (1648?–1689)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004