Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/King, John (d.1679)

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KING, JOHN (d. 1679), covenanting preacher, was for some time domestic chaplain to Henry Erskine, third lord Cardross, and in 1674 was apprehended and tried before the privy council of Scotland for holding conventicles. Lord Cardross was heavily fined at the same time for permitting King to conduct worship in his family. King was admitted to bail in five thousand merks to appear when called upon. In the following year he was again seized at Cardross House during the night; but in the morning the country people assembled and took him out of the hands of the soldiers. This incident was made the occasion of a letter from King Charles II to the Scottish council, dated 12 June 1675, complaining of their supineness (Hist. MSS. Comm. 11th Rep. App. pt. vi. p. 159). King was now by letters of intercommuning, 6 Aug. 1675, declared an outlaw. On 2 June 1679 he was apprehended in the town of Hamilton by Graham of Claverhouse. The battle of Drumclog took place next day, and Claverhouse's prisoners were rescued. King, however, was recaptured by stratagem on the estate of Blair, in the parish of Dalry, Ayrshire, shortly after the defeat of the covenanters at Bothwell, and was conveyed to Edinburgh. One of his escort of dragoons, being asked whither they were bound, is said to have answered, ‘To carry King to hell.’ The same day the dragoon was killed by the accidental discharge of his carbine. King was brought before the council on 9 July 1679, along with a fellow-minister, John Kid. After several appearances and a futile petition by counsel on their behalf, they were condemned and executed at the cross of Edinburgh on 14 Aug. following, their heads and limbs being severed from their bodies and placed on the Nether Bow port. Proclamation was made immediately before the execution of an indulgence to the ‘outed’ ministers, and King and Kid were pressed by Robert Fleming the elder [q. v.], then a fellow-prisoner, to signify their approval of it, which they resolutely declined to do. King's last speech on the scaffold was printed. In it he makes mention of his wife and one child. The only sermon by him which is known to exist is included in the collection made by John Howie [q. v.] (Glasgow, 1779).

[Wodrow's History of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, Burn's ed. 1831, ii. 270–286, iii. 69–136; Crookshank's History of the Church of Scotland, ii. 32–65; Patrick Walker's Biographia Presbyteriana, i. 247–94.]

H. P.