Nisbet, John (1627?-1685) (DNB00)


NISBET, JOHN (1627?–1685), covenanter, born about 1627, was son of James Nisbet of Hardhill, in the parish of Loudoun, Ayrshire. On attaining manhood he took service as a soldier on the continent. Returning to Scotland in 1650 he witnessed the coronation of Charles II at Scone, and took the covenants. Shortly afterwards he married Margaret Law and settled at Hardhill as a farmer.

After the Restoration he took an active and prominent part in the struggles of the covenanters for religious and civil liberty. He refused to countenance the curates, and attended the ministrations of the ‘outed’ ministers, renewed the covenants at Lanark in 1666, and was one of the small band who published the declarations of the Societies at Rutherglen, Glasgow, and Sanquhar. He fought at Pentland (28 Nov. 1666) till, covered with wounds, he fell down and was stripped and left for dead upon the field. At nightfall, however, he crept away unobserved, and lived to take part in the engagements at Drumclog (1 June 1679) and Bothwell Bridge (22 June), where he held the rank of captain. For this he was denounced as a rebel and forfeited, three thousand merks (165l. sterling) being offered for his head. In November 1685 he was surprised, with three others, at a place called Midland, in the parish of Fenwick, Ayrshire, his captor being a cousin of his own, Lieutenant Nisbet. His companions were instantly shot, but for the sake of the reward he was spared, and, being brought to Edinburgh, was tried and condemned to death. He was executed at the Grassmarket there on 4 Dec. following, in the fifty-eighth year of his age. His wife predeceased him in December 1683. They had several children, but only three sons survived him—Alexander, Hugh, and James, the last, Sergeant Nisbet, being the author of a diary, chiefly of his own religious experiences, in which he relates a number of incidents respecting his parents.

[Nisbet's Manuscript Diary in Signet Library, Edinburgh; Howie's Biographia Scoticana (Scots Worthies), 2nd edit. 1781, pp. 472–85; Cloud of Witnesses, pp. 327–41; Wodrow's Hist. of the Sufferings, &c. Burns's edit., iv. 235, 237; Lauder of Fountainhall's Historical Observes (Bannatyne Club), pp. 676, 681.]

H. P.