Pringle, Walter (1625-1667) (DNB00)

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PRINGLE, WALTER (1625–1667), of Greenknowe, Berwickshire, covenanter, born in 1625, was the third son of Robert Pringle, first of Stitchel, Roxburghshire, by Catherine Hamilton of Silverton Hill. The Pringles of Stitchel were descended from the Hop Pringles of Craiglatch and Newhall, Selkirkshire, a younger branch of the Pringles of Snailholm. Robert Pringle, second son of George Pringle of Craiglatch, was originally of Bartinbush; but, having acquired a large fortune by his profession of writer to the signet in Edinburgh, he in 1628 bought the estate of Stitchel from Sir John Gordon of Lochinvar, first viscount Kenmure. He also in 1637 purchased from James Seton of Touch and Dame Barbara Cranstoun, his mother, for himself during his life, and then for his second surviving son, Walter, the estate of West Gordon, Berwickshire, ‘with the manor place called Greenknowe,’ over and nether Huntly Wood, and the fourth part of Fawne. In 1638 he also purchased from James, third earl of Home, various other lands in Berwickshire for the price of 19,000l. Scots. He sat in the Scottish parliament as commissioner for Roxburghshire in 1639–41. He was one of a committee appointed by the parliament on 28 July 1641 to proceed against incendiaries (Balfour, Works, ii. 22); and of another, appointed on 10 Sept., to consider the overtures for manufactories (ib. p. 61). Robert Pringle died in 1649.

The son, Walter Pringle, when about eleven years of age, was, with his brother, placed under the care of James Leckie, an ejected minister at Stirling. The death of Leckie suspended the exercise of the special religious influences to which he had been subjected at Stirling; and, according to his own account, there supervened ‘several years of darkness, deadness, and sinfulness,’ one of which ‘was spent, or rather lost, in Leith, two at Edinburgh College, five at home and in the wars (being a volunteer), and two in France’ (Memoirs in Select Biographies, published by the Wodrow Society, i. 424). He returned home from France in June 1648, and on the death of his father, in May 1649, succeeded to the estate of Greenknowe, Berwickshire, where the ruined tower of his residence still stands. In November following he was married at Stow by James Guthrie [q. v.] to Janet, second daughter of James Pringle of Torwoodlee, Selkirkshire, and sister of George Pringle [q. v.] of Torwoodlee. Both families held strong covenanting opinions. On the invasion of Scotland by Cromwell in 1652, Pringle of Greenknowe, with his brother-in-law of Torwoodlee, joined the covenanting army which opposed Cromwell at Dunbar. After the defeat of the covenanters there he took refuge with his brother-in-law at Torwoodlee; and, when returning one night from visiting his wife, who was at Stitchel, encountered an English trooper on horseback, whom he killed. Thereupon he for a time took refuge in Northumberland. Shortly after returning to Scotland he was apprehended and brought to Selkirk; but, on pleading that he had killed the soldier in self-defence, he was allowed his liberty on a bond for 2,000l. sterling. After the Restoration he was, on 20 Sept. 1660, sent a prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh, but does not appear to have been long detained in confinement. On 19 July 1664 he was, however, brought before the court of high commission for nonconformity. Being required, as a test, to take the oath of allegiance, he affirmed that his one difficulty was as to the clause relating to supremacy, and offered to take the oath according to Bishop Ussher's explication, approved by James VI. A heavy fine was therefore imposed on him (Select Biographies, i. 453–4; Wodrow, Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, i. 394). For non-payment of the fine he was, on 24 Nov., seized and brought to the Tolbooth of Edinburgh; but shortly afterwards received his liberty, on finding bond to enter the burgh of Elgin on or before 1 Jan. following, and abide within its bounds during the king's pleasure, and, on the non-payment of the fine by Candlemas, to enter within the Tolbooth of the said burgh. On 3 May 1665 he petitioned the council that since March last he had been imprisoned within the Tolbooth; and that, as his health had seriously suffered, he might be allowed the limits of the burgh of Elgin and one mile round, which was granted on his finding caution in 1,000l. Scots to remain within its bounds. On 6 Feb. 1666 his friends, without his knowledge, procured from the court of high commission a change of his confinement from Elgin to his own home at Greenknowe and three miles round, on payment of 200l. sterling, and on giving a bond for his ‘peaceable and inoffensive behaviour.’ Although rather ‘stumbled’ by the word ‘inoffensive,’ he accepted the terms. He died on 12 Dec. 1667. He had six sons and three daughters. The ‘Memoirs of Walter Pringle of Greenknowe,’ written for the edification of his family, was published in 1723, and republished in 1751 and 1847. It is also included in vol. i. of ‘Select Biographies,’ published by the Wodrow Society.

[Memoirs ut supra; Wodrow's Sufferings of the Church of Scotland.]

T. F. H.