Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Sir Robert Grierson of Lag

THERE IS GREAT CONCERN here at the treatment of our fifteen naval personnel illegally detained by the Iranians, and anxiety about their ultimate fate. However I was reminded today, when researching the Griersons of Lag, that we have not always been models of decency ourselves. Lag Castle is in Dumfriesshire where people have traditionally subscribed to low church Christianity. This was a dangerous aberration in the reign of James VII, our only Catholic monarch since Mary Queen of Scots (also our last since a Catholic is prohibited by law from ascending the British throne).

Sir Robert Grierson of Lag was the king's man in Dumfriesshire and he took his duties seriously. When in 1685 he came upon an 'illegal' church service at Kirkconnell, he killed all those worshippers he could catch, some of them, reportedly, by rolling them down a hill in a spiked barrel. None was given a Christian burial. Small wonder that Dumfriesshire folk related that Sir Robert's spit scorched the earth where it fell, that he could turn wine into blood and that on the night he died a chariot surrounded by thunder clouds swept him away to hell! Makes President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seem quite cuddly.

Thankfully not all Griersons were of this mould. In 1898 Sir George Grierson produced the eight thousand page Linguistic Survey of India, and Dr John Grierson who died in 1972 was a film producer and Director of UNESCO.

Apart from Lag Castle, now a noble ruin, there are three Grierson castles in Dumfriesshire - Barjarg Tower, Capenoch House and Rockhall, all now private houses. Sir Robert Grierson used Rockhall as a base for persecuting his fellow Christians (of the 'wrong' sect). On his death his servants killed his pet monkey which still apparently haunts the castle, blowing a whistle. So far as I am aware this is the only castle in Scotland to be haunted by a monkey. Maybe someone out there knows different?


David LYON said...


Interesting that this particular writer of the latest Sir Robert Grireson debacle has not taken any hints, instructions, made any attempts at communication; never mind that communication was offered. I'm glad to see that you are another who thinks he understands Sir Robert Grierson so well, Not.

Alastair Cunningham said...

I'm not aware of the 'latest Sir Robert Grierson debacle' but would be delighted to hear your contrasting views on Sir Robert. Or else just point me to a relevant website.

Unknown said...

Hi there

I wouldent mind any information about the Lord's of Lag you could give me, since im related to them and the family history backtrace has died a little since the passing of my grandfather..

You may contact me on PFWilliams@gmail.com

Father Crosbie said...

What utter rubbish. It really is sad when people publish the fantasies peddled by a few loonies.

Grierson of Lag was indeed the Kings man. It was his job . He was Steward.
Some facts rather than fantasy:

Grierson of Lag B 1657 D. 1733.
Steward during the reign of Charles II and James VII. Died peacfelly in his bed aged 76 after receiving the Sacraments of Holy Church.

If what you say were true in any sense Lag would have been convicted and sentenced to death after the arrival of William & Mary in 1689 when the Presbyterian establishment was created. Not only was Lag never convicted of any offence William agreed to continue to pay his pension.


Some people confuse Covenanters with those who signed the National Covenant. They are not the same. Covenanters were an extreme group with views that were not in any sense recognisably Christian. Covenanters did not believe in the Creeds, the Sacraments, Set prayers such as the Our Father. Covenanters believed in 'no quarter'. If you were unlucky enough to be caught by a group of them there was little chance that you would be spared your life. There many examples of people, priests and soldiers of the Crown being murdered by Covenanters. Interestingly many of the so called Covenanting Martyrs were guilty of murder which by the law of the time was punishable by death.

The punishment for illegal gatherings such as the Conventicle was death. This could be avoided even at the Conventicle by taking the Oath of allegiance to the Crown. Refusal branded the individual as a traitor and the Crown and the punsihment was death.

There is no evidence for the barrel story.

Lag administered the law of the time. It may seem terrible to us but it was the law. It is worth remembering that many of the people of the South West were pleased that Lag took a firm hand with these traitors and criminals. Life was safer for them during Lags Stewardship.

If you want to read some facts rather than nonsense I suggest you read : Scotland, Church and Nation by Gordon Donaldson or Scotlands Surpressed History by M H Donaldson.

Grierson of Lag was a good Christian man. May he Rest in Peace.

Andrew Crosbie

annelouise77 said...

I was reading through the blog and the comments. I'm a Grierson by birth and would love to find out a lot more about the Lag ... also in regards to the barrel, my grandfather used to tell me about Sir Robert and the spiked barrel, so who knows there may actually be some truth in it

My email addy is:

thanx for any info


Pure nonsense that is my Grandfather and I do not take kindly to your rubbish.

Unknown said...

Read "The Laird of Lag: A Life-Sketch" by Alexander Fergusson or the Lauderdale Papers, both of which are available on the web, for a more impartial description of Auld Lag. He can not be fairly characterized outside the context of his times.

Rab fae the West said...

Grierson of the Lag was the vilest of creatures. His actions are recorded throughout Dumfriesshire. The Royalist forces terrorised the West and our nobles enjoyed live people hunts at least it gave the wildlife a break. Go research the Killing Time and ask why and how did the covenanter managed to survive. Remember most Covenanter never raised a weapon in their lives, but still women and children were slaughtered.
Why was Grierson not bought to trial someone asked because he was part of the establishment that lasted after the Glorious revolution. How many nobles were tried after William Carstairs eventually convinced William the second of Scots to allow the Scots to worship as they may, answer none. William, I fear like every King since James the sixth wished to control the Church. The graves of the Covenanters are found from Deerness to the Border and you will get some people saying the Killing time wasn't that bad, and of course some people say the Holocaust never happened and there are even books written to prove that point.