Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.—Rom. 8.33


Cloud of Witnesses

For the

Royal Prerogatives


Jesus Christ:

Or, The Last

Speeches and Testimonies

Of those who have suffered for the


Since the Year 1680.

Iſabel Aliſon

[ISABEL ALISON lived very privately in the town of Perth, and was of a sober and religious conversation. She had now and then heard Mr. Cargill preach in the fields, and some few others before Bothwell, but not very often—field conventicles not being common in that part of the country. Upon her {117} nonconformity at Perth, and speaking against the severity used upon some religious people there, she was seized; but nothing else could be laid to her charge, till she was brought before some of the magistrates, and, in her simplicity, voluntarily acknowledged converse with some who had been declared rebels. When the Government were informed of this, a party of soldiers seized her, living peaceably in her chamber at Perth, and carried her to Edinburgh.

The Acts of Indemnity referred to in this testimony were a Pardon and Indemnity, dated June 29, 1679, to all tenants and sub-tenants who had been at Bothwell, provided they submitted by a certain day; and a General Indemnity, July 27, 1679. Both are in Wodrow, of the latter of which he says, it was so clogged that it put no great stop to the harassing and spoiling of the country by the soldiers.—JHTho.]

The laſt Speech and Teſtimony



Who lived at Perth, and

Suffered at Edinburgh,

January 26. 1681.

The Interrogations of ISABEL ALISON before the Privy Council.

WHEN I was brought before the Council, they asked me, Where did ye live, at St. Johnstoun [Perth]?  Answer. Yes.

What was your occupation? To which I did not answer.

The Bishop asked, If I conversed with Mr. Donald Cargil?  I answered, Sir, you seem to be a man, whom I have no clearness to speak to.

He desired another to ask the same question:  I answered, I have seen him, {72} and wish that I had seen him oftner.

They asked, If I owned what he had done against the civil Magistrate?  I answered, I did own it.

They asked, If I could read the Bible?  I answered, Yes.

They asked, If I knew the duty we owe to the civil Magistrate?  I answered, When the Magistrate carrieth the sword for God, according to what the Scripture calls for, we owe him all due reverence; but when they overturn the work of God, and set themselves in opposition to him, it is the duty of his servants to execute his laws and ordinances on them.

They asked, If I owned the Sanquhar declaration?  I answered, I do own it.

They asked, If I owned the papers taken at the Queensferry on Henry Hall?  I answered, You need not question that.  They asked, If I knew Mr. Skeen?  I answered, I never saw him.

They asked, If I conversed with rebels?  I answered, I never conversed with rebels.

They asked, If I did converse with David Hackstoun?  I answered, I did converse with him, and I bless the Lord that ever I saw him; for I never saw ought in him, but a godly pious youth.

They asked if the killing of the Bishop of St. Andrews was a pious act?  I answered, I never heard him say, That he killed him; but if God moved any and put it upon them to execute his righteous judgments upon him, I have nothing to say to that.

They asked me, When saw ye John Balfour, that pious youth?  I answered, I have seen him.

They asked, When?  I answered, Those are frivolous questions,—I am not bound to answer them.

They said, I thought not that a testimony.

They asked, What think ye of that in the Confession of Faith, that Magistrates should be owned, tho’ they were heathens?  I answered, It was another matter, than when those, who seemed to own the truth, have now overturned it, and made themselves avowed enemies to it.

They asked, Who should be judge of these things?  I answered, the Scriptures of truth, and the Spirit of God, and not men, that have overturned the work themselves.

They asked, If I knew the two Hendersons that murdered the lord St. Andrews?[1]  I answered, I never knew any lord St. Andrews.

They said, Mr. James Sharp, if ye call him so.  I said, I never thought it murder: but if God moved and stirred them up to execute his righteous judgment upon him, I have nothing to say to that.

They asked, Whether or not I would own all that I had said? for (said they) you will be put to own it in the Grass-market:[2] And they bemoaned me, in putting my life in hazard in such a quarrel.  I answered, I think my life little enough in the quarrel of owning my Lord and Master's sweet truths; for he hath freed me from everlasting wrath, and redeemed me; and as for my body, it is at his disposal.

They said, I did not follow the Lord's practice, in that anent Pilate.  I answered, Christ owned his [own] kingly office, when he was questioned on it, and he told them, "He was a king, and for that end he was born." And it is for that, that we are called in question this day, the owning of his kingly government.

The Bishop said, We own it.  I answered, We have found the sad consequence of the contrary.

The Bishop said, He pitied me, for the loss of my life.  I told him, He had done me much more hurt, than {73} the loss of my life, or all the lives they had taken: For it had much more affected me, that many souls were killed by their doctrine.

The Bishop said, Wherein is our doctrine erroneous?  I said, That was better debated already, than a poor lass could debate it.

They said, Your Ministers do not approve of these things, and ye have said more than some of your Ministers; for your Ministers have brought you on to these opinions, and left you there.  I said, They had cast in baits among the Ministers, and harled them aside; and altho’ Ministers say one thing to day, and another to morrow, we are not obliged to follow them in that.

Then they said, They pitied me; for (said they) we find reason, and a quick wit in you: And they desired me to take it to advisement.  I told them, I had been advising on it these seven years, and I hoped not to change now.

They enquired mockingly, If I lectured any? I answered, Quakers used to do so.

They asked, If I did own Presbyterian principles?  I answered, That I did.

They asked, If I was distempered?  I told them I was always solid in the wit, that God had given me.

Lastly, They asked my name.  I told them, If they had staged me, they might remember my name; for I had told them already, and would not aye [ever] be telling them.

One of them said, May ye not tell us your Name? Then another of themselves told it.

The Interrogations of Iſabel Aliſon before the Criminal Lords.

BEing called before the criminal lords, they asked me, If I would abide by what I said the last day?  I answered, I am not about to deny any thing of it.

They said, Ye confessed, that ye harboured the killers of the Bishop, tho’ ye would not call it murder.  I said, I confessed no such thing.

The Advocate said, I did.  I answered, I did not, and I told them, I would take with no untruths.

He said, Did ye not converse with them?  I said, I did converse with David Hackstoun, and I bless the Lord for it.  They said, when saw ye him last?  I answered, never since ye murdered him.

They desired me to say over what I said the last day.  I said, Would they have me to be my own accuser?

He said, The Advocate was my accuser.  I said, Let him say on then.

Then they went over the things that past betwixt the council and me the other day, and put me to it, yea, or nay.  I said, Ye have troubled me too much with answering questions, seeing ye are a judicature which I have no clearness to answer.

They said, Do ye disown us, and the King's authority in us?  I said, I disown you all, because you carry the sword against God, and not for him, and have these nineteen or twenty years made it your work to dethrone him by swearing year after year against him, and his work, and assuming that Power to a human creature, which is due to him alone, and have rent the members from their head Christ, and one another.

Then they asked, Who taught you these principles?  I said, I was beholden to God that taught me these principles.

They said, Are ye a Quaker?  I said, Did ye hear me say, I {74} was led by a spirit within me? I bless the Lord, I profited much by the persecuted gospel; and your acts of indemnity after Bothwel cleared me more, than any thing I met with since.

They said, How could that be?  I said, By your meddling with Christ's interests and parting them as ye pleased.

They said, They did not usurp Christ's prerogatives.  I said, What then mean your indulgences, and your setting up of Prelacy? for there has none preached publickly these twenty years without persecution, but these that have their orders from you.

Then they caused bring Sanquhar declaration, and the *[3] paper found on Mr. Richard Cameron, and the papers taken at the Queen's-ferry, and asked, If I would adhere to them?  I said, I would, as they were according to the Scriptures, and I saw not wherein they did contradict them.

They asked, if ever Mr. Welsh or Mr. Riddel taught me these principles?  I answered, I would be far in the wrong to speak any thing that might wrong them.

Then they bade me take heed what I was saying, for it was upon life and death that I was questioned.  I asked them, If they would have me to lie? I would not quit one truth, tho’ it would purchase my life a thousand years, which ye cannot purchase, nor promise me an hour.

They said, when saw ye the two Hendersons, and John Balfour? Seeing ye love ingenuity, will ye be ingenuous, and tell us, if ye saw them since the death of the Bishop?  I said, They appeared publickly within the land since.

They asked, If I conversed with them within these twelve months?  At which I keeped silence.

They urged me to say either yea, or nay.  I answered, Yes.

Then they said, Your blood be upon your own head, we shall be free of it.  I answered, so said Pilate; but it was a question if it was so; and ye have nothing to say against me, but for owning of Christ's truths, and his persecuted members.

To which they answered nothing. Then they desired me to subscribe what I owned. I refused, and they did it for me.

Account of what Iſabel Aliſon ſaid before the Aſſizers.

Dear Friends,

THese are to shew you what past betwixt the black crew and me.

They read my Indictment, and asked, If I had ought to say against it?  I said, Nothing.

They read the papers as they did formerly, and asked, If I owned them?  I said, I did own them.

Then they called the assizers and swore them.  Then I told them, All authority is of God, Rom. 13.1, and when they appeared against him, I was clear to disown them; and if they were not against him, I would not have been there: I take every one of you witness against another, at your appearance before God, that your proceeding against {75} me is only for owning of Christ, his gospel, and members, which I could not disown, lest I should come under the hazard of denying Christ, and so be denied of him.

And when the assize came, they asked, If I had ought to say against them?  I said, They were all alike, for there would no honest man take the trade in hand.

They said to the assize, it was against their will to take our lives;  I said, If that had been true, they would not have brought me so far off, pursuing me for my life.

This is the substance of what past as I remember.

[ARCHIBALD RIDDELL, an indulged minister, and brother to the laird of Riddell, was employed by the Council to persuade Isabel Alison and Marion Harvie to conform, but with no success. He seems to have been a good man, but mistaken as to his views of the character of the men then in power, for he soon got into trouble with them. About September 1680, he was apprehended on the charge of frequenting field conventicles. His examination occupies about six pages in "Wodrow." It justifies what Marion Harvie says of his excellence as a preacher. He was kept in prison for seven months, and then for three or four years in the Bass; but was ultimately allowed to go to America. On the {123} tidings of the Revolution, he left America, June 1689, but on the way home the ship in which he had set sail was captured by a French man-of-war, and for twenty-two months Mr. Riddell suffered all the horrors which prisoners in that cruel age were made to undergo. He was at last exchanged, but now his ship was driven into Bantry Bay, where he and the ship's company were plundered by the Irish, and for eleven days suffered all manner of hardship, until rescued by the government.

Mr. Meldrum, alluded to by the goodman of the Tolbooth, was George Meldrum, minister at Aberdeen. In 1681 he left his charge rather than take the test. Shortly after the Revolution he was called to Edinburgh, where, says Wodrow, "he preached many years to great edification, and was a mighty master of the Holy Scriptures, and blessed with the greatest talent of opening them up or lecturing of any I ever heard."—JHTho.]

Account of Mr. Archibald Riddel's Examination of Iſabel Aliſon and Marion Harvie.

ABout seven of the clock at night the goodman of the Tolbooth caused call us down, against our will, to be examined by Mr. Riddel, at the Council's order. So we came down, and were brought to the west side of the house, to an empty room, where they brought him in to us; The good man of the Tolbooth being present, and the keepers, and some Gentlemen with them, and they caused us sit down.

The goodman of the Tolbooth said, Mr. Riddel, the Council caused me bring you to confer with these women; to see if ye can bring them to repentance.

Then we protested, and said, As for repentance, we know not what fault we have done;

Then, said they, Ye cannot be the worse to have one of your Ministers to confer with.  We told them, These Ministers being their servants, we looked no more upon them as Ministers of Jesus Christ; and therefore he is no Minister to us.

Mr. Riddel asked, If the council would send Mr. Cargil to us, would we not confer with him?  We said, He was not at their command; but if Mr. Cargil would do as ye and the rest of you have done, we would do the like with him.

So he offered to pray.  We said, We were not clear to join with him in prayer.

He said, Wherefore?  We said, We know the strain of your prayers will be like your discourse.

He said, I shall not mention any of your principles in my prayer, but only desire the Lord to let you see the evil of your doings.  We told him, We desired none of his prayers at all.

They said, Would we not be content to hear him?  We said, Forced prayers had no virtue.

Then we said, What means he to pray with us, more than [h]e did with our brethren that have gone before us?  Mr. Riddel said, Mr. Skeen conversed with Mr. Robert Ross.

We said, He did not send for him, but as he intruded himself upon him.

The goodman of the Tolbooth said, He conversed with Mr. Meldrum; and we smiled at that, and said, He might talk to him of his perjury, but for no other thing.

So they urged prayer again.  We said, It would be a mocking of God.

They said, Why so?  We said, Because we cannot join with it.

So Mr. Riddel began to debate with us, and said, We would not find it in all the Scripture, nor any history to disown the civil Magistrate.  We answered, There were never such Magistrates seen as we have.

He instanced Manasseh, who "made the streets of Jerusalem to run with the blood of the prophets." [2 Kings 21.16; 24.3-4] {76}   We said, it was a question, if he came the length in perjury:

He instanced Joash:  We answered, He was but a child when that covenant was sworn, and it was not so with these that he now pleaded for.

Then he instanced Nero, how he set the city on fire and robbed the churches; and yet notwithstanding the Apostle exhorteth submission to the Magistrates then being.  We answered, it was in the Lord, and as they were a terror to evil doers.

He said, Altho’ they were wicked, yet they should not be altogether cast off.  We said, Before their excommunication we would not have been so clear to cast them off.

He said, There were but only seven in the excommunication, then why do ye cast at all the rest?  We answered, These seven carried the great sway, and the rest came in under them.

He said, How can one man take upon him to draw out the sword of excommunication, for the like was never heard tell of in no generation?  We answered, Why not one man, since there were no more faithful, and the Church hath power to cast out scandalous persons, be they high, be they low.

He said, Who is the Church?  We said, If there was a true Church in the world, that little handful was one, tho' never so insignificant, of which handful we own ourselves a part; and tho' our blood go in the quarrel, yet we hope, it will be the foundation of a new building, and of a lively Church

He said, Thought we all the Ministers wrong?  We answered, We desire to forbear, and not add; for we desire not to speak of Ministers’ faults. And we desired him to forbear, and let us be gone; but he urged his discourse, and fell on upon the papers, that were taken at the Queen's-ferry, chiefly on that part of them: "When God gives them power, it is a just law, to execute justice upon all persons that are guilty."

And he came to us, and laid by his coat, and said, Would ye stab me with a knife in my breast, even now?  And we smiled, and said, We never murdered any:

But said he, they sware to do so.  We said, Why did he not debate these things with Men, and not with Lasses? For, we told him, We never studied debates.

He said again, Thought we all the Ministers wrong?  We answered, They were wrong, and forbad him to put us to it, to speak of Ministers’ faults; for if he knew what we had to say of them, he would not urge us. So we desired to be gone.

And he said, if ye come to calm blood, [and] desire me, or any other of the ministers, to speak to you, ye may tell the keepers and ye may have them:

And there was a Chirurgeon [surgeon] among them, and the good man of the Tolbooth said, He might draw blood of us for we were mad.  We said, Saw ye any mad action in us?

This is all we can mind at present.

The dying Teſtimony and laſt Words of ISABEL ALISON.

I Being sentenced to die in the Graſs-market of Edinburgh, January 1681. thought fit to set down under my hand, the causes wherefore I suffer.  I being apprehended at Perth, in my own chamber, by an order from Council, and brought to Edinburgh with {77} a strong guard, and there put in prison, and then being examined first by a Committee, and then by the criminal Court, the manner of my examination was:  First, If I conversed with David Hackstoun and others of our friends?  Which I owned upon good grounds.  2dly, If I owned the excommunication at the Torwood, and the papers found at the Queen's-ferry, and Sanquhar declaration, and a paper found on Mr. Cameron at Airsmoss?  All which I owned. Likewise I declined their authority, and told them, That they had declared war against Christ, and had usurped and taken his prerogatives, and so carried the sword against him, and not for him: So I think, none can own them, unless they disown Christ Jesus. Therefore let enemies and pretended friends say what they will; I could have my life on no easier terms, than the denying of Christ's kingly office. So I lay down my life for owning and adhering to Jesus Christ, his being a free King in his own house, for which I bless the Lord, that ever he called me to that.

Now in the first Place, I adhere to the holy Scriptures of the old and new Testament. And likewise I adhere to the confession of Faith, because according to the Scriptures, the larger and shorter Catechisms, and our solemn Covenants, both National and solemn League, as they were lawfully sworn in this land; and I adhere to the Acknowledgement of sins, and Engagement to Duties; I adhere likewise to these forementioned papers, and to the excommunication at Torwood, they all being according to the Scriptures of truth, and so both lawful and necessary. Likewise I adhere to the Rutherglen Testimony, and to all the testimonies of our worthies, who have suffered in Edinburgh, and elsewhere.

In the next place, I enter my protestation against all the violation done to the work of God these twenty years bygone,  First, The burning of the Covenant made with God, and the Causes of God's wrath, and the thrusting in of Prelates into the Lord's house, contrary to the word of God, and our sworn Covenants.  I leave my testimony against Popery, which is so much countenanced at this day, against the receiving that limb of Antichrist the Duke of York.   Likewise I leave my testimony against all the Blood-shed both on scaffolds, and in the fields, and seas; and against all the cruelty used against all the people of the Lord.  And I leave my testimony against the paying of that wicked cess, for maintaining of these profane wretches, to bear down the work of God.  I leave my testimony against all unlawful bonds. And likewise against the shifting of a testimony, when clearly called by the Lord to give it.  

I leave my testimony against all profanity of all sorts, and likewise against lukewarmness and indifferency in the Lord's matters.  I leave my testimony against the unfaithfulness of Ministers, first and last, their silence at the first, when their Master's work was broken down, for the most part they slipped from their master's back, without so much as giving one word of a testimony against the wrongs done to him; and now are become a snare to the poor people in going to hear the Curates, and poor things following their example, are ensnared; {78} my finding the sad experience of it, brings it the more into my memory. Yet notwithstanding of their being convinced of their error in this, many of them carry now, as if they rued that ever they came forth to the fields to proclaim their master a free King in his own house; And now they are fallen in under the shadow of sworn enemies, and alas! they are become profound to lay snares; yea, "they are a trap upon Mispeh, and a net spread upon Tabor!" [Hosea 5.1.] Oh, for the sad defection both of Ministers and professors in Scotland ! ’Tis like our carriage may make many of our carcasses lie in the wilderness.

I leave my testimony against the indulgences, first, and last, and against all that comply therewith, or connive thereat. I leave my testimony against the censuring of worthy Mr. Cameron, or any other whom God raised up to declare the whole counsel of God and to witness against the evils of this generation. I fear when God makes inquisition for blood, Ministers' hands will not be found free thereof. As for charging my blood on any particular person, I cannot, for I have never gotten the certainty of what hath brought me to the Stage; but if any have done it willingly, I leave it to God, and their own conscience. But I may warrantably charge it upon all the declared enemies of God within the land.

And first, I leave it on the bloody council, that sent an order to take me, for they are guilty of it.

2dly. The Sheriff-clerk of Perth, and these that were with him, when he took me, are guilty of it; the Sheriff-clerk of Kinros, and the men that guarded me, are all likewise guilty of my blood; and

I leave my blood on Sir George Mackenzie, and the rest of that bloody court, and I take the Lord to witness against them, whether or not it was on easy terms, that they offered me my life; they said only, they would not trouble me with their Bishops; but I said, that supremacy was as evil as Prelacy. And they said, That I behoved to say, that the King was not an usurper, and pass from all my former Confession, and that it was my duty to obey authority.  I told them, That they were sworn enemies to God, so it was impossible to obey God, and them both; so I told them, I would not retract an hair-breadth;  They said, Thought I ever that he was our lawful king? I said, Yes; for he entered into covenant with God, and with the land: But he hath broken and cast off that tie, and hath exercised so much, both tyranny and cruelty, that I had just ground to decline him, and them both.  Then they bade my blood be on my own head; but I told them, they would find it would be on their heads, for it was for my owning of Christ's kingly office, that they put me to suffer, say the contrary who will.  Now I bless the Lord, I am free from Jesuitical principles. The Scripture is my rule, and when obedience to men is contrary to obedience to God, I am clear to disown them.

I leave my testimony against Mr. Riddel, for his obeying these wicked men to ensnare us, and to hold out to us, before these accursed enemies of Christ, that were seeking our lives for our adhering to the truth, that it was all delusion that we held. I many times rued, that I bare so well with him, and now I hear, that he denies that which we wrote. But if ye will believe me, who am within {79} a little to appear before God, there was nothing added but rather wanting. I wish the Lord may forgive him. I bless the Lord, what strikes against my self only, I can very heartily forgive, but what strikes against God and his truths, I leave that to God, who is the judge of all.

Now I would only say this to you, who are seeking to keep your garments clean, "Be sober, be vigilant, for your adversary the devil goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." [Rev. 3.4; 1 Pet. 5.8.] And as I would have you be zealous for the truth, and not to quit one hoof, so I would have you labour against a spirit of bitterness; beware of self; and be more ready to mourn for the slips of others, than to make them the subject of your discourse; and labour to make earnest of religion, for I find there is need of more than a good cause, when it comes to the push. O the everlasting covenant is sweet to me now!

And I would also say, they that would follow Christ, need not fear at the cross, for I can set to my seal to it, "His yoke is easy, and his burden is light." [Matth. 11.30.] Yea, many times hath he made me go very easy through things that I have thought I would never win through: He is the only desireable master; but he must be followed fully. Rejoice in him, all ye that love him, "Wherefore lift up your heads, and be exceeding glad, for the day of your redemption draweth nigh," [Luke 21.28.]: Let not your heart faint, nor your hands grow feeble. Go on in the strength of the Lord, my dear friends, for I hope he will yet have a remnant both of sons and daughters, that will cleave to him, tho’ they will be very few; "even as the berries on the top of the outmost branches." [Isa. 17.6.] As for such as are grown weary of the cross of Christ, and have drawn to a lee-shore, that God never allowed, it may be e'er all be done it will turn like a tottering fence, and a bowing wall to them, and they shall have little profit of it, and as little credit:

But what shall I say to the commendation of Christ and his Cross? I bless the Lord, praise to his holy name, that hath made my prison a palace to me; and what am I that he should have dealt thus with me? I have looked greedy-like, to such a lot as this, but still thought it was too high for me, when I saw how vile I was; but now the Lord hath made that Scripture sweet to me in the 6th [chapter] of Isaiah, "Then flew one of the seraphims to me, having a live coal in his hand, and he laid it on my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips, and thy iniquities are taken away, and thy sins purged."

O how great is his love to me! that hath brought me forth to testify against the abominations of the times, and keeped me from fainting hitherto, and hath made me to rejoice in him. Now I bless the Lord, that ever he gave me a life to lay down for him.

Now farewell all creature-comforts; farewell sweet Bible; farewell ye real friends in Christ; farewell faith and hope; farewell prayers and all duties; farewell sun and moon, within a little I shall be free from sin, and all the sorrows that follow thereon. Welcome everlasting enjoyment of the Father, Son, and holy Ghost, everlasting love, everlasting joy, everlasting light.

Edinburgh Tolbooth, Jan. 26. 1681.

Sic ſubſcribitur      ISABEL ALISON. {80}

BEing come to the scaffold, after singing the 84th Psalm, and reading the 16th [chapter] of Mark, she cried over the scaffold, and said, "rejoice in the Lord ye righteous: And again, I say rejoice." Then she desired to pray at that place, and the Mayor came and would not let her, but took her away to the ladder foot, and there she prayed.

When she went up the Ladder, she cried out, "O be zealous, Sirs, be zealous, be zealous! O love the Lord all ye his servants, O love him, Sirs! for in his favour there is life."

And she said, "O ye his enemies, what will ye do, wither will ye fly in that day? For now there is a dreadful day coming on all the enemies of Jesus Christ. Come out from among them, all ye that are the Lord's own people."

Then she said, "Farewell all created comforts. Farewell sweet Bible, in which I delighted most, and which has been sweet to me since I came to prison. Farewell Christian acquaintances. Now into thy hands I commit my Spirit, Father, Son, and holy Ghost." Whereupon the hangman threw her over.


1. Andrew Henderson and Alexander Henderson, in Kilbrachmont, are among the twelve mentioned by Russel as concerned in the deed.—JHTho.

2. That is, by Public Execution.—JTKer.

3. This Paper being taken from him at his Death, by the Enemies who slew him; no Copy thereof (for what I know) has ever been procured, and hence it cannot be certainly known what was the nature of it.—Note by the original Compiler of the "Cloud".

[The paper referred to seems to be the Bond of Mutual Defence which follows the Short Relation concerning Mr. Richard Cameron, contained in the Appendix.—JHTho.]