Pringle, George (DNB00)

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PRINGLE, GEORGE (1631–1689), of Torwoodlee, eldest son of James Pringle of Torwoodlee, by his second wife, Janet, daughter of Sir Lewis Craig of Riccarton, was born on 7 Feb. 1631. The Pringles of Torwoodlee, Selkirkshire, are descended from the Pringles of Snailholm, Roxburghshire, the first of the name being George, son of William Pringle of Snailholm who was killed at Flodden in 1513. This George Pringle was murdered in his own house by a party of Liddesdale reivers in 1568. The subject of the present notice was the brother-in-law of Walter Pringle [q. v.] of Greenknowe, and, like him, a zealous covenanter, but both, with other covenanters, fought against Cromwell at Dunbar. He was present with Pringle of Greenknowe when the latter, as he was returning from a visit to his wife, had an encounter with one of the soldiers of Cromwell, in which the soldier was killed. Ultimately, however, he and his father made their peace with Cromwell, and in 1655 they were both gazetted commissioners of supply for Selkirkshire by Cromwell's officers. He succeeded his father in Torwoodlee in 1657, and in 1659 was appointed sheriff of Selkirkshire by Richard Cromwell. After the Restoration he in 1662 accepted the king's pardon, but was burdened with a fine of 1,800l. From then until 1681 he lived in retirement, taking no active part in public affairs. ‘Though he did not conform to prelacy,’ says Wodrow, ‘yet he had no share in those struggles for religion and liberty at Pentland and Bothwell.’ Nevertheless ‘his home was a sanctuary for all the oppressed that came to him, and these were neither few nor of the meanest quality’ (Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, iv. 228). When the Earl of Argyll escaped from prison on 20 Dec. 1681, he rode to an alehouse at Torwoodlee, near the mansion of Pringle, who met him there, and sent him to the house of William Veitch [q. v.] in Northumberland (Memoirs of Veitch, ed. M'Crie, p. 151). Pringle was one of those named by William Carstares as being concerned in the Rye House plot (Lauder of Fountainhall, Historical Notices, p. 556), and it was at his house that the Scottish conspirators were accustomed to meet (ib. p. 590). After its discovery he made his escape to Holland, and during his absence he was libelled for treason, and his estates were confiscated by parliament. He was among those twelve exiles who on 7 April 1685 met at Amsterdam, and constituted themselves a council ‘for the recovery of the religion, rights, and liberties of the kingdom of Scotland,’ and was sent by Argyll to the south of Scotland to prepare the people there for the invasion. On the failure of Argyll's expedition he again escaped to Holland. At the Revolution he returned to Scotland, and he was a member of the Convention parliament which offered the crown to William and Mary. The decree of attainder against him was removed, and he was restored to his estate. He died in May 1689. By his wife, Janet Brodie of Lethem in Morayshire, he had one son, James, who succeeded him, and two daughters: Anne, married to Alexander Don of Rutherford, and Sophia to James Pringle of Greenknowe. The son, who was only sixteen years of age when his father first took refuge in Holland, remained at home, but was seized and imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, only being released after finding surety in 500l. On the failure of Argyll's expedition he was also again seized and confined for some time in Blackness Castle.

[Wodrow's Sufferings of the Church of Scotland; Lauder of Fountainhall's Historical Notices; Memoirs of William Veitch, ed. M'Crie; Memoirs of Walter Pringle of Greenknowe; Craig-Brown's Hist. of Selkirkshire, i. 460–6.]

T. F. H.