On 11 May 1685, Margaret Wilson and Margaret MacLauchlan were drowned in the Solway Firth at Wigtown for attending conventicles and refusing to take the oath against James Renwick’s Apologetical Declaration. Growing up, Margaret Wilson (18), and her brother and sister had often had to hide from government troops because they wouldn’t go to hear the Episcopal ministers. One day, however, Margaret and her sister Agnes (13) were finally caught. Their father managed to get his younger daughter released, but he couldn’t save Margaret. She was to be drowned with an older woman, Margaret McLaughlin. The soldiers tied them both to wooden stakes in the water. The younger Margaret was tied nearer to the shore so would see the older woman die first and be persuaded to give up her beliefs – so she wouldn’t die as well. As the older woman was drowning, the soldiers asked the younger Margaret what she thought of her now. Margaret Wilson replied “I see Christ wrestling there”. Then, just when she herself was about to drown, the soldiers lifted up her head and asked her to pray for the king. She answered “God save him if he will, for it is his salvation I desire”. However when they asked her take the oath, she said “I will not, I am one of Christ’s children, let me go”. The soldiers then pushed her head down under the water again until she died. Just before she died, Margaret had sung from Psalm 25:
“My sins and faults of youth do thou, O Lord, forget: After thy mercy think on me, and for thy goodness great.
God good and upright is: the way he'll sinners show. The meek in judgment he will guide, and make his path to know.”
The two Margarets are just two of many, many people who paid the ultimate price because of their love for the Lord Jesus Christ.
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 435-42
Marston, Hope Irvin, Against the tide: the valour of Margaret Wilson (Phillipsburg: NJ, 2007)
Ian B. Cowan, The Scottish Covenanters 1660-1688 (London, 1976) pp 126-8.
Robert Wodrow, History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, ed. Robert Burns (4 vols, Glasgow, 1828-30), iv, 246-9
DSCHT: Wigtown Martyrs
Sharon Adams, ‘Wilson, Margaret (1666/7–1685)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004