Neilson, John

Neilson, John a Scotch martyr to religious liberty, was a nobleman of considerable influence in Galloway. He had enjoyed superior educational advantages, was by nature quite talented, and enjoyed an unblemished character. But he was a Covenanter, and consequently subjected to severe persecutions on the part of the Anglican clergy. When the people of Galloway rose in self- defence, he joined them; and, notwithstanding the cruel treatment which he and his family had received from Turner, Mr. Neilson argued strenuously and successfully against the proposal of some to put the oppressor to death. As the prelates could not conceive that the persecuted Presbyterians would have dared to rise in self-defence unless there had been a widely extended conspiracy, they determined to extort a confession of the nature and extent of this plot from such of the prisoners as were certain to be acquainted with it if it existed. For this reason they resolved to put Neilson to the torture of the boot. In vain did they crush his leg in this fearful engine of torture; shrieking nature attested his agony, but his soul was clear of the guilt wherewith he was charged, and he would not blacken it by making a false acknowledgment of a crime of which he was innocent. When the persecutors found that they could extort nothing from him but groans and anguish, they condemned him to suffer, along with his guiltless friends, the shorter pangs of death. See Hetherington, Hist. of the Church of Scotland, page 230; Wodrow, 2:53.

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