Blackness Castle

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Blackness Castle at Falkirk, stands on the tip of a headland jutting out into the Forth and was designed, in 1440, to protect the port of Blackness and the hinterland of Linlithgow . A former castle home it was strengthened and turned into a military fortification by Sir James Hamilton of Finnart in the 15th century in a response to the growing use of artillery. A dour looking place it became home for many of the Covenanters. Being conveniently placed near to both Glasgow and Edinburgh it was used as a staging post for prisoners between appearances at the various Courts. In the earlier days of the Kirk`s struggle it was used for short term imprisonments and many a minister spent weeks incarcerated there for what were very minor offences eg baptising their own child.

Most of the ministers found themselves confined in assorted Tolbooths at some stage and certainly if remitted to Edinburgh to appear before the Court of High Commission on some, often specious, charge. An early resident of Blackness was David Lindsay, minister at Leith, who was incarcerated for objecting to the manipulation of votes in the Parliament that passed the Black Acts in 1584. John Welch, who supported the Aberdeen Assembly of 1605, was sent to the Edinburgh Tolbooth, then to Blackness Castle and ultimately banished to France. John Hamilton, Lord Bargany was thought to be a sympathiser with seditious tendencies whereas he was possibly too free with his opinions. He was imprisoned in Blackness without trial on perjured evidence possibly by persons with eyes upon his estate. He was bailed in June 1680 and later provided a regiment for the public service and King William.

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