"I am one of Christ's children.
Let me go."
~ Margaret Wilson
Who is Margaret Wilson?
Margaret Wilson (1667-1685), was a Scottish Covenantor who was sentenced to drowning at the age of 18 years when she refused to swear an oath proclaiming King Charles II as head of the church. This period in history was referred to as "The Killing Times".
Interesting facts about her life:
- Margaret Wilson was raised in Wigtown, Galloway, Scottland and grew up in a time where the king demanded that he was the head of the church and all his subjects must swear to an oath of loyalty to him. He removed all the Scottish preachers and replaced them with those who followed his agenda. The group of people who were loyal to Christ as head of the church (and not the monarchy) were considered "Covenanters". (There were actually two legal documents in Scottish history called "Covenants" which the Scottish people enacted which purposed to keep the church free from this kind of tyranny.) Those loyal to the "Covenants" would go to "Conventicles" (meetings in the fields) to worship freely and listen to the sermons made by their own outcasted ministers. They were hunted down and persecuted by King Charles II because of it.
- The parents of Margaret Wilson set the example of following the King's rules in order to protect their family and their prosperous farm. However, their children grew in conviction that they could no longer serve in the forced manner and desired to "keep the Covenant".
- Margaret and two of her younger siblings forsook the Church of England and as a result, the Wilson family was fined heavily each week that Margaret (18), Thomas (her younger brother of 16) and Agnes (younger sister of 13) did not attend. As a result, the family eventually died in the state of poverty.
- Because of this stand against the king and his church, they (Margaret, brother and sister) were forced to live in the hills like outlaws with other Covenanters because anyone who associated with them would be punished and persecuted including her own parents (even though they were following the rules of the land).
- Margaret and her sister Agnes were finally captured when they took their chances to go into town to do some visiting. The two girls were thrown in "Thieve's Hole" which was a prison cellar in a dark room.
- They waited two months for their trial. False charges were brought upon both of them with no evidence to support it claiming the young ladies were involved in two major skirmishes against the English dragoons (highly unlikely as the girls would have been seven and eleven years old at the time of those upheavals!). The judge in court demanded that they swear the oath to the King. They refused. They were told to kneel in order to receive their punishment and refused to do that as well. He gave both girls the death sentence of being tied to a post in the sand of the waters to wait until the high tide drowned them at Solway Firth.
- Their father (Gilbert Wilson) was able to pay a fine to release Agnes the younger daughter due to her tender age but they were not so easily swayed when it came to Margaret. When her father was finally able to secure Margaret's life on April 30, 1865 with a letter, it was ignored by the local authorities. On May 11, 1685, Margaret was tied to the stake which had been secured in the waters of the high and low tide water mark.
- She was sentenced to drown with her fellow believer in the Lord, the Widow Margaret MacLachlan. The officiating guards had the widow drowned first in order to intimidate Margaret into recanting her faith but it was to no avail.
- As the waters began to swirl around the 18 year old maiden, she began to sing from Psalm 25:
"Let not the errors of my youth,
Nor sins remembered be:
In mercy for thy goodness' sake,
O Lord, remember me.
The Lord is good and gracious,
He upright is also:
He therefore sinners will instruct
In ways that they should go…"
- Her final words included the reciting of the following Scripture:
"Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."~ Roman 8:35-39
- As the water approached head level, the soldiers beckoned her once again to "pray for the king". She answered that she "prayed for the salvation of all men" and that she wished "no one to be condemned". The soldiers then submerged her head under the water, brought it back up and urged her to "take the oath" while they held her face above the waters. With conviction, she gently spoke her last words, "I am one of Christ's children. Let me go."
|Grave Stone Inscription|
What was stunning to me about this young lady is that she truly embraced the words to "fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28). How many times have we read those verses without having to be physically put to that kind of test? In a society where an 18 year old is still considered a child (and even encouraged to sow their wild oats!), we are soberly reminded that God has put no age limit on His love or His followers! They are to come to Him, whether it be for His earthly service or to die for His heavenly kingdom. May we all stand steadfastedly in our beliefs and never compromise our life in Christ as this young heroine has shown us.