One reason that people have heard of Wigtown, is because 2 women were put to death by drowning on May 10th 1685, for refusing to conform to the religious orthodoxy of that time.  They are commemorated by a simple wooden cross in the church, put up to mark the 300th anniversary of their death (1985).

Who were the Wigtown Martyrs?  Download this leaflet and read their story

Wigtown Martyrs

The proud motto of Wigtown:  for a more general history of the church in Wigtown download the following:

Wigtown Church History

Below our some photographs of notable gravestones:  on the left the Wigtown Martyrs;  on the right in the foreground, the table style grave stone of Archibald Hamilton, who was the minister  of Wigtown during the 1660s, who fled to Ireland to escape punishment for his covenanting sympathies.  When the persecutions stopped, following William and Mary taking the throne in both England and Scotland, Archibald Hamilton was able to return to his beloved Wigtown, and was referred to as the “Father of the Church of Scotland”, as the oldest serving minister at the time.  he was buried at the door of Wigtown church,as he had wished.  The old church stretched out much further than the remaining ruins.







Here is the inscription from Margaret Wilson’s gravestone:

“Here lyes Margaret Wilson doughter to Gilbert Wilson
in Glenvernoch who was dround annno 1685 aged 18
Let earth and stone still witness beare
their lyes a virgine martyre here
murther’d for ouning christ supreame
head of His church and no more crime
but not abjuring presbytry
and her not owning prelacy
they her condem’d by unjust law
of heaven nor hell they stood no aw.
Within the sea ty’d to a stake
the actors of this cruel crime
was Lagg, Strachan, Winram, and Grahame
neither young yeares nor yet old age
could stop the fury of there rage.”

and for Margaret McLachan (referred to as Margaret Lachlane on her stone):

“Here lyes Margaret Lachlane
who was by unjust law sentenced to
die by Lagg Strachane Winrame and Grahame
and tyed to a stake within the flood for her
adherence to Scotland’s Reformation
Covenants National and Solemn League
aged 63 1685”

on a separate stone is a memorial for the 3 men who were hung:

“Here lyes William Johnston John Milroy
George Walker who was without
sentence of law hanged by Major Wynram
for their adherence to Scotland’s Reformation
Covenants National and Solemn Leagwe 1685”

Magdalene cross, in the wall of the north transept of the old church, which dates it from the 11th Century.  Most of the stone from the old church was used to build the new kirk in the 1850s, This wing was not demolished, as it contained the crypt of the Vance (Vaux/Vans) family from Barnbarroch House, who insisted the wall remain, with their coat of arms ( see opposite).  The Vances (Vaux/Vans) were a most interesting local family;  one of them Sir Patrick Vance, was the last Roman Catholic priest of Wigtown, who became the first reformed minister of Wigtown in the 1560s.  One way to keep your job!  Also the same man, was sent to Denmark, along with another Wigtownshire nobleman to choose James VI’s wife for him.

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