Foulis Castle - Conventicle (1675)

John M’Killican On a visit to Moray, he preached in Elgin under the very nose of the Bishop. Just more than a month after being intercommuned, he dispensed the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper in the house of the Dowager Lady of Fowlis at Obsdale, now Dalmore, near Alness. These celebrations, involving as they did an assertion of spiritual authority independent of the bishops, were peculiarly obnoxious to the Prelatists, and could be but rarely observed by the outed ministers and their friends. All the more were they prized, and we may add, all the more were they blessed. The Communion at Obsdale appears to have been an occasion of great spiritual refreshment. "At the last sermon," says Wodrow, "there was a plentiful effusion of the Spirit upon a great many present and the oldest Christians there declared they had never been witnesses to the like." "The people," adds the same historian, "seemed to be in a transport, their souls filled with heaven, and breathing thither, while their bodies were upon the earth." We are told of one poor man who came out of mere curiosity, and returned home so full of the new-born joy of salvation, that when a neighbour, learning where he had been, said to him, " he was a great fool to lose all he had — his cow and his horse, — for they would certainly Mr from him;" he replied, "You are more to be pitied who was not so happy as to be there; for my part, if the Lord would maintain in me what I hope I have won to, I would not only part with these but my head also if called to do it."* The celebration was not conducted to a close without interruption. Bishop Paterson must have got an inkling of the intention to hold it; for, at his instigation, Sir Roderick Mackenzie of Findon, Sheriff of the county, sent a party of soldiers to apprehend Mr M'Killican. Naturally concluding that the service would be held in the minister's house — the usual place of meeting — the soldiers marched to Alness. Of course the minister was not there, but his orchard was. The soldiers could not resist the attraction of the ripening apples with which the trees were loaded. Before the officer in command could draw them off, and surround the house of Obsdale, the communicants had time to dispose of themselves and conceal the ministers. I do not know whether it was on this, or on a subsequent occasion, that, according to a traditionary anecdote I have heard, M'Killican escaped capture by a ruse which reminds us of Rachel and the camel furniture. Sir John Munro of Fowlis, who was on this occasion, with his mother, at Obsdale, was a man whose Falstaffian proportions, and attachment to the Presbyterian cause, had procured for him the by-name of the "Presbyterian Mortar-piece." When the officer in command of the military burst into his apartment in search of M'Killican, Sir John pleaded indisposition and begged him to excuse his inability to rise from his chair. The soldier retired without taking the liberty of deranging the ample skirts of the Baronet's dressing-gown, and consequently without discovering that the object of his search was concealed beneath the chair.

Additional Information

The tower at the rear is original, the rest was rebuilt in the early eighteenth century.

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