Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 23.djvu/229

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Grierson
Grierson
221

in Scotland before 1528 (ib. p. 587). In 1542 he is described as doctor of divinity, provincial, and prior of St. Andrews (ib. 2695); he resigned the priory before 1552 (ib. 1546-1580, p. 693). He was certainly alive in 1559 (ib. 1373), and is said to have survived till 1564. Echard says that he remained a firm catholic, and defended his faith by word and by deed.

According to Dempster Grierson wrote: 1. ‘De Miseria profitentium fidem et Religionem Catholicam in Scotia.’ 2. ‘De casu Ordinis sui, et paupertate.’ 3. Some letters which are preserved in R. F. Plaudius's history of the order. But Echard says that he had searched in vain for these letters, and it is possible that Grierson left no writings.

[Authorities quoted; Dempster's Hist. Eccl. vii. 619; Quétif and Echard's Scriptores Ordinis Prædicatorum. ii. 187; Anderson's Scottish Nation, ii. 382.]

C. L. K.

GRIERSON, Sir ROBERT (1655?–1733), laird of Lag, persecutor of the covenanters, was descended from an old Dumfriesshire family which claimed as an ancestor the highland chief Malcolm, lord of Macgregor, the friend and ally of Robert Bruce. The lands of Lag are said to have been bestowed on Gilbert Grierson by Henry, earl of Orkney, in 1408, and in any case the estate was in the possession of the family before the close of that century. Sir Robert Grierson was the great-grandson of Sir William Grierson, who was knighted by King James in 1608, and appointed keeper of the rolls in 1623, and the son of William Grierson of Farquhar by Margaret, daughter of Douglas of Mouswald. The marriage contract is dated June 1654. Grierson's birth may probably be placed in 1655. On 9 April 1669 he was served heir to his cousin, who had died a minor. Grierson was one of the most strenuous supporters among the lairds of Galloway of the policy of the government against the covenanters. On 8 Feb. 1678 he drew up a bond, which he made all his tenants sign, obliging themselves never to be present at conventicles, or to commune ‘with forfaulted persons, inter-communed ministers, or vagrant preachers.’ When Claverhouse made his first appearance in Dumfriesshire on his mission of repressing conventicles, Grierson displayed great activity in assisting him. On 3 Jan. 1679 he co-operated with Claverhouse in the destruction of the disguised covenanting meeting-house on the Kirkcudbright side of the bridge at Dumfries, bringing with him ‘four score of countrymen, all fanatics,’ whom he compelled to demolish it (Napier, Life of Viscount Dundee, ii. 188). On the establishment of military courts in Galloway in 1681 for the administration of summary justice Grierson was appointed to preside over that held at Kirkcudbright. Under Claverhouse, who was appointed to succeed Sir Andrew Agnew as heritable sheriff of Wigtownshire, he distinguished himself by his severity in enforcing the Test Act, by the assistance of the ‘thumbkins,’ the use of which had been specially sanctioned by an act of the council. On account of his reputation as a zealous supporter of the government policy the Earl of Nithsdale ‘disponed’ to him his hereditary office of steward of Kirkcudbright during the minority of his son. A period of extreme persecution followed the passing in 1685 of an act by the privy council punishing refusal to take the ‘abjuration oath’ with instant death. The laird of Lag then acquired a pre-eminent reputation for ruthless severity, and is represented as taking a special and immoral delight in torturing his victims. In his drunken revels he made the beliefs of the covenanters the theme of scurrilous jest. The assertion of Lord Macaulay that Claverhouse and his soldiers used ‘in their revels to play at the torments of hell, and to call each other by the name of devils and damned souls,’ has its foundation solely in statements by Wodrow and Howie which have special reference to Lag and his boon companions. In a vaulted chamber of his house of Rockhall an iron hook is still shown, upon which he is said to have hanged his prisoners, and a hill is pointed out from which he is said to have rolled down his victims in barrels filled with knife blades and iron spikes. No doubt the traditions about him have been embellished by successive narrators. A striking evidence of the terror and hatred attaching to his memory is furnished by the custom extant fifty years ago of commemorating his evil deeds by a rude theatrical performance, in which he appears in the form of a hideous monster. It is specially recorded of him that he invariably refused the request of his victims for a brief space for prayer before they were put to death. When Lord Kenmure remonstrated with him for his barbarous usage of John Bell of Whiteside, a gentleman nearly related to him, and especially for refusing to allow Bell's body to be buried, Grierson is said to have answered, ‘Take him if you will and salt him in your beef barrel.’ Incensed at the brutal jest, Kenmure drew his sword and would have run Grierson through, had not Claverhouse intervened to part them. After the accession of James II Grierson, on 28 March 1685, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia. He also obtained from the king a pension of