Sir Patrick Hume '“ a defender of religious and civil liberty

Wilson's Tales of the Borders is almost 500 stories celebrating our history, legends and people. First serialised in the Berwick Advertiser from the 1830s, it became a best-selling series. The Wilson's Tales Project is re-telling the stories for a modern audience.

Monday, 24th December 2018, 16:20 pm
Polwarth Kirk.

Sir Patrick Hume was a lover of freedom and country when it was dangerous to be either under Charles II.

In 1665, aged 24, he was elected to the Scottish Parliament for Berwickshire. Parliaments then were expected to meet the King’s demands for men and money; as an advocate of religious and civil liberty, Hume objected to this.

“Are we only here to please the King?” he said. “We’re here to represent the people of Scotland and defend their rights. Are we going to drag them from their plough at a royal nod? Are we going to tax their cattle and corn just because the King wants to? If we don’t agree he can’t do it.”

“Treason!” the royalist Duke of Lauderdale shouted. “I denounce Sir Patrick Hume as a plotter against the life and dignity of our sovereign lord.”

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Patrick said: “Though there may be a slave among us who would sell his country for a royal smile, I hope this is still a free parliament. It concerns all members to be free in what concerns our nation.”

Two years later, when Charles tried force to get his way, Patrick was among those who resisted. They failed and he spent two years imprisoned in Stirling Castle.

Free again, he tried to free Scotland by constitutional means. But at a time of plots to kill the Catholic King, Patrick and the others were accused of a Protestant plot. Some fled abroad, some took to the hills, and one died on the scaffold.

Bravely or unwisely, Patrick stayed at home. One September night in 1684 Jamie Winter, a joiner on Polwarth Estate, arrived. Patrick kept his wife and 12-year-old daughter Grizel by his side. He said: “You’ve got bad news, Jamie, but it’s right that my wife should hear. And I keep no secrets from my little secretary.”

Jamie said: “Troops arrived in Berwick this morning and they’ll be at Redbraes and Jerviswoode before midnight. There’s a price on your head. You haven’t much time to save yourself.”

“Go now!” his wife pleaded.

But Jamie said: “There are spies at every turn, in every house. Our only hope is to hide Sir Patrick here. But how or where is beyond me.”

NEXT WEEK: Grizel saves the day.

Retold by Fordyce Maxwell, adapted by Joe Lang. Read the full story in Volume 4 of the Wilson’s Tales Revival Edition, £8.50, from local booksellers or