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The Anecdotage of Glasgow
Cathcart Kirk-Yard: Martyrs' Grave and Story

THE parish church of Cathcart, which was erected in 1831, on the site of an old barn-like structure, is an elegant building in the modern Gothic style of architecture. It is surrounded by a fine burial-ground, quiet and secluded, where beneath the flickering shadows of several umbrageous old ash trees—

"The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep."

Hugh Macdonald, the beau-ideal of ramblers, who remembered the old barn-like edifice which gave place to the modern structure above referred to, describes the kirk-yard, and tells the story of the martyrs in his usual interesting and instructive manner. He says:-

"The pensive rambler may here spend a profitable hour, as many a time and oft, in bygone days, we have, in meditations among the tombs. Many of the headstones are well worthy the attention of those who love to study the doleful literature of the dead. Among the more remarkable of these is one that marks the grave wherein are interred the ashes of three individuals, who suffered a violent death for their adherence to the principles of the Solemn League and Covenant, in the days when Claverhouse and his troopers rode roughs od over the consciences of the Scottish people.

"Many years ago we remember enacting Old Mortality on this stone, by removing with our gully the moss which had crept over it and all but obliterated the inscription. Since then a fresh application of the chisel has rendered it perfectly legible, so that we should have had no difficulty in transcribing it for our readers, although it had been effaced from our memory—which, however, from the strong impression it made on our youthful imagination, it has not. It is as follows :—

"‘This is the stone tomb of Robert Thom, Thomas Cook, and John Urie, martyrs for ouning the covenanted work of Reformation, the 11th of May, 1685.

The bloody murderers of these men
Were Major Balfour and Captain Maitland;
With them others were not frie,
Caused them to search in Polmadie.
As soon as they had them out found,
They murther’d them with shots of guns;
Scarce time had they to them allow
Before their Maker their knees to bow.
Many like in this land have been
Whose blood for wingeance cries to Heaven.
This cruel wickedness you see
Was done in lon of Polmadie.
This shall a standing witness be
‘Twixt presbyterie and prelacie."

The circumstances of this tragedy are found briefly detailed in Wodrow’s History. The martyrs were men of low degree, poor weavers and labourers. They resided in the village of Little Govan (now removed), and they were dragged from their cottages by the dragoons, and murdered in the immediate vicinity. The scene of their death is directly opposite the Flesher’s Haugh of Glasgow Green.

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