John Nisbet

Male 1627 - 1683  (56 years)

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  • Name John Nisbet  [1
    Born 1627  Ayrshire, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Gender Male 
    Died 4 Dec 1683  Edinburgh, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    • From "The Record of My Ancestry" by A. L. Hull:

      Capt. John Nisbet, of Hardhill, fought with the Covenantery at Bothwell Ridge, and was afterward arrested, tried, condemned, and executed for his faith at Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1683. See Howie's Scottish Martyrs.

      From Eric McKimmon ( in 2007:

      With regard to John Nisbet he was son of John Nisbet of Hardhill in Ayrshire, born c 1627. he served for some time as a soldier in Europe returning to Scotland in 1650.He settled in his father's farm and signed the Covenants, that is resolving to resist the imposition of Episcopacy in Scotland. When Charles II was restored as King in 1660 Nisbet took part in the rebellion of 1666. He was left for dead on the battlefield after the Battle of Rullion Green.He was active in the Rising of 1679 fighting at the skirmish at Drumclog and served as a Captain at Bothwell Bridge. He escaped after defeat and was outlawed with a price on his head. When he and three others were captured by a party of soldiers the others were summarily shot. But Nisbet was taken to Edinburgh and tried and executed in the Grassmarket, thus becoming one ot the martyrs of the "Killing Times"

      I found this information in the "Scottish Dictionary of Scottish Church History and Theology" pub T&T Clark 1993. Also there is "A True Relation of the Life and Suffering of John Nisbet of Hardhill" (Edinburgh 1718), this would I'm sure be very interesting for you. Also see W K Tweedie (ed.), Select Biographies, Vol 2 (Edinburgh,1847), p371-409; and Dictionary of National Biography XL1p70; and R Wodrow, History of the Sufferings of the Cof S, 4 vols (Glasgow 1828 - 30), Vol 4, (p235- 237)

      From Christian History Institute:

      by the Staff or associates of Christian History Institute.
      Copyright 1999-2006. All rights reserved.

      When John Wycliffe sent his barefoot preachers throughout England in the 14th-century, carrying the Scripture in English, and calling for real heart changes, his message crossed the border into Scotland. There Murdoch Nisbet heard and believed. He acquired one of the rare English-language manuscripts of the Bible. Murdoch's son, grandson and great grandson followed his footsteps of faith. The great-grandson was John Nisbet of Hardhill. (A great-great grandson, James Nisbet wrote his story).

      John Wycliffe sends his preachers out. Some reached Scotland.
      John fought for the Reform faith on the European continent during the Thirty Years' War. Then he returned to his native Scotland and fought some more. King Charles II's government drove hundreds of pastors from their pulpits and perpetrated many other outrages of a religious nature. This led a number of Scots to take up weapons. (Their theology taught that it was allowable to fight in preservation of religious freedom.)

      In 1666 John marched with a group of Covenanters which was attacked on Rullion Green. Outnumbered four to one and short of weapons, the covenanters fought valiantly but suffered defeat. Wounded in seventeen places, John was left for dead. He recovered, and wandered as a fugitive for years. His brave wife and children were thrown out of their home and died of hunger, cold and disease. Eventually, while at prayer with three others, John was attacked by a party of dragoons, led by one of his cousins. In the desperate fight that followed, he was wounded seven times. The men with him were shot through their heads on the spot, but John was kept alive because of the reward offered for him. Taken to Edinburgh, he was tried. He told his captors he would rather die than lie. He was condemned to death.

      Despite his serious wounds, he was loaded with chains weighing 100 pounds. Under this harsh treatment, he rejoiced all the more, claiming he'd had a vision of God so intense it would have killed him if God hadn't given him the strength to bear it. "It has pleased Him [God] to give me such real impression of unspeakable glory as without constant and immediate supports from the Giver will certainly overwhelm me," he said.

      The prospect of being hanged on Friday only made him happier. "O for Friday! O for Friday! O Lord, give patience to wait Thy appointed time!"

      He wrote his last will and testament. In it he said, "Be not afraid at His sweet, lovely and desirable cross, for although I have not been able because of my wounds to lift up or lay down my head [without help] yet I was never in better case all my life."

      On this day Friday, December 4, 1685 (old calendar), the soldiers led him to his execution. Witnesses said his face shone in anticipation of glory. He exclaimed, "I have longed these sixteen years to seal the precious cause and interest of precious Christ with my blood. And now, now He has answered and granted my request, and has left me no more ado but to come here and pour forth my last prayers, sing forth my last praise to Him...mount that ladder, and then I shall quickly get home to my Father's House..."

      On the scaffold, he preached a farewell sermon, urging the onlookers to prepare for the day of judgment. The soldiers did their best to drown his voice by beating their drums. John Nisbet sang a last psalm and swung off into eternity.

      "John Nisbet." (
      Rusten, E. Michael and Rusten, Sharon. One Year Book of Christian History. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2003.
      Smellie, Alexander. Men of the Covenant. Revell, 1903.
      Taylor, James. The Scottish Covenanters. London: Cassell, Petter, Galpin & Co, no date given. [Taylor gives Nisbet's date of execution as December 5th, a Saturday].
      Various internet articles.

    Person ID I0911  Hull
    Last Modified 18 Oct 2009 

    Father James Nisbet,   b. 1603,   d. Hardhill, Scotland Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Mother Jane Gibson 
    Family ID F314  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Margaret Law 
     1. Hugh Nisbet
     2. James Nisbet,   b. 1669
    Family ID F313  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Sources 
    1. [S02634] The Record of My Ancestry, A. L. Hull, (Unpublished).

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