The Wigton Martyrs

This is the day that …Margaret McLaughlin, aged 60, and Margaret Wilson, aged 16, were martyred for their faith, in 1685.

“Use the Prayer Book – or else!” Such was the substance of the new Act of Uniformity passed in May, 1662. As a result, persecution broke out with fury against all who refused to conform. In Scotland these dissenters were named “the Covenanters” – so called because they had signed a manifesto known as the “Solemn League and Covenant”. “They were outlawed, their worship forbidden, and all who were caught were executed. Even the use of torture was not unknown” (Valiant in Fight, by B. Atkinson, page 141).

Another historian comments: “These Scottish Protestants were hunted with bugles and blood-hounds like so many deer. Those who gathered secretly in glens and caves to worship God were hanged; or drowned without mercy” (The Church in History, by R. Kuiper, page 255).

Thus it was that these two women were tied to stakes at low tide at “Solway Firth in the waters of Blednoch”, and there left to drown as the tide rose, for refusing to renounce the Covenant (Songs About Heaven, by E. Emurian, page 22). As the waters came closer, young Margaret sang Psalm 25 and quoted Romans 8:35-39: “What shall separate us from the love of Christ … tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or distress, or persecution? Nay!”

History refers to them as the Wigton Martyrs, godly folk who, like Moses, “endured as seeing Him Who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). A memorial to these two faithful women may still be seen at Wigton today.