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those troubles, they continued skirmishing, sometimes with the Irish rebels, and sometimes with those of the English parliament, after the rebellion in England began ; till at length captain Irvin and one Mr. Stuart were taken prisoners, and put in gaol in Derry; which city was kept for the parliament against the king, by sir Charles Coote. Here my father performed a very memorable and gallant action, in rescuing his relation captain Irvin, and Mr. Stuart. I will relate this fact in all its particulars, not only because it will do some honour to my father's memory, but likewise because, for its boldness and success, it seems to me very well to deserve recording.
My father having received information, that sir Charles Coote, governor of Derry, had publickly declared, that captain Irvin and his companions should be put to death, within two or three days, communicated this intelligence to seven trusty friends; who all engaged to assist him, with the hazard of their lives, in delivering the two gentlemen from the danger that threatened them. They all agreed that my father, and three more, at the hour of six in the morning, when the west gate stood open, and the drawbridge was let down for the governor's horses to go out to water, should ride in, one by one, after a manner as if they belonged to the town, and there conceal themselves in a friend's house till night; at which time my father was to acquaint captain Irvin and his fellowprisoner with their design, which was to this purpose : That, after concerting measures at the prison, my father should repair to a certain place on the city. wall, and give instructions to the four without, at twelve at night: accordingly, next morning, as soon as the gate was open, my father, with his three comrades,
got into the town, and the same night having settled matters with the two gentlemen, that they should be ready at six next morning, at which hour he and his three friends should call upon them; he then went to the wall, and directed the four, who were without, that as soon as they should see the gate open, and the bridge drawn, one of them should walk up to the sentry, and secure him froin making any noise, by holding a pistol to his breast; after which, the other three should ride up, and secure the room where the by-guard lay, to prevent them from coming out : most of the garrison were in their beds, which encouraged my father and his friends, and much facilitated the enterprise: therefore, precisely at six o'clock, when the by-guard and sentry at the western gate were secured by the four without, my father and the other three within being mounted on horseback, with one spare horse, in the habit of town's people, with cudgels in their hands, called at the gaol door, on pretence to speak to captain Irvin, and Mr. Stuart. They were both walking in a large room in the gaol, with the gaoler, and three soldiers attending them; but these not suspecting the persons on horseback before the door, whom they took to be inhabitants of the town, my father asked' captain Irvin, whether he had any commands to a certain place, where he pretended to be going; the captain made some answer, but said they should not go before they had drank with him ; then giving a piece of money to one of the soldiers, to buy a bottle of sack at a tavern a good way off, and pretending likewise some errand for another soldier, sent him also ouć of the way. There being now none left to guard the prisoners but the gaoler, and the third soldier; captain Irvin leaped over the hatch door, and as the gaoler leaped after, my father knocked him down with his cudgel. While this was doing, Mr. Stuart tripped up the soldier's heels, and immediately leaped over the hatch. They both mounted, Stuart on the horse behind my father, and Irvin on the spare one, and in a few minutes came up with their companions at the gate, before the main guard could arrive, although it were kept within twenty yards of the gaol door.
I should have observed, that as soon as captain Irvin and his friend got over the hatch, my father and his comrades put a couple of broad swords into their hands, which they had concealed under their cloaks, and at the same time drawing their own, were all six determined to force their way against any who offered to obstruct them in their passage ; but the dispatch was so sudden, that they got clear out of the gate, before the least opposition could be made. They were no sooner gone, than the town was alarmed, Coote, the governor, got out of his bed, and ran into the streets in his shirt, to know what the hubbub meant, and was in a great rage at the accident. The adventurers met the governor's groom, coming back with his master's horses from watering; they seized the horses, and got safe to sir Robert Stuart's, about four miles off, without losing one drop of blood in this hazardous enterprise.
This gallant person (if I may so presume to call my father) had above twenty children by his wife Anne Maxwell, of the family of the earl of Nithsdale, of whom I was the eldest ; they all died young, except myself, three other boys, and two girls į who lived to be men and women. My second brother I took care to have educated at Glasgow, but he was drowned at two and twenty years old, in a storm, on his returnto Ireland. The other two died captains abroad, in the service of king William.
I was born on the eighth day of May, 1648, at Castle-Fin in the county of Donegal. I made some small progress in learning at the school of Dungannon; but when I was eighteen years old, I very inconsiderately married Mrs. Elizabeth Delgarno, my schoolmaster's daughter, by whom I have had thirteen children, who all died young, except two daughters, married to two brothers James and Charles Young, of the county of Tyrone.
Having been so very young when I married, I could think of no other course to advance my fortune, than by getting into the army. Captain Irvin, often mentioned already, had a brother who was a physician at Edinburgh, to whom he wrote in my favour, desiring he would recommend me to the marquis of Atholl and others, then at the head of affairs in Scotland; this was in the year 1674. There were then but one troop of horse-guards (whereof the marquis was colonel) and one regiment of foot-guards, commanded by the earl of Linlithgow, in that kingdom ; and they consisted chiefly of gentlemen.
Dr. Irvin, physician to the horse-guards, accordingly presented me to the marquis of Atholl, requesting that I might be received into his troop. His lordship pretending there was no vacancy, was, by the doctor threatened, in a free jesting manner, with a dose of poison, instead of physick, the first time he should want his skill; “ Weell, weell then,” quoth the marquis, “ what is your friend's name?” “ Deel tak’ “ me ,” answered the doctor, “ gin I ken;" whereupon Į was called in, to write my name in the roll.
I was then ordered to repair to the troop at Stirling, with directions to lieutenant colonel Cockburn, the commanding officer, to put me into which of the four squadrons, whereof the troop consisted, he thought fit. He thereupon placed me in his own, and appointed me my quarters.
Soon after this, the conventicles growing numerous in the west, several parties were drawn out to suppress them ; among whom I never failed to make 'one, in hopes thereby to be taken notice of by my commanders : for I had nothing to recommend me, except my activity, diligence, and courage, being a stranger, and born out of that kingdom.
My first action, after having been taken into the guards, was, with a dozen gentlemen more, to go in quest of mas David Williamson, a noted covenanter; since, made more famous in the book, called the Scorch Presbyterian Eloquence. I had been assured that this Williamson did much frequent the house of my lady Cherrytree, within ten miles of Edinburgh ; but when I arrived first with my party about the house, the lady, well knowing our errand, put Williamson to bed to her daughter, disguised in a woman's nightdress. When the troopers went to search in the young lady's room, her mother pretended that she was not well; and Williamson so managed the matter that when the daughter raised herself a little in the bed, to let the troopers see her, they did not discover him, and so went off disappointed. But the young lady proved with child ; and Williamson, to take off the scandal, married her in some time after. This Williamson married five or six wives successively, and was alive in the reign of queen Anne ; at which time, I saw him, preaching in one of the kirks at Edin