At his execution, John Nisbet of Hardhill “sang the first six verses of the 34th psalm, and read the eighth chapter of the Romans, and prayed with great presence of mind, and very loud. He then went up the ladder, rejoicing and praising the Lord.”

JOHN NISBET OF HARDHILL (1627-1685)

“John Nisbet was born about the year 1627. He was the son of James Nisbet, and was lineally descended from Murdoch Nisbet of Hardhill, who, about the year 1500, joined those called the Lollards of Kyle; when a persecution being raised against them, he fled over seas, and took a copy of the New Testament, in writing, along with him. Some time after, he returned home, and digged a vault in the bottom of his own house, to which he retired, serving God, reading his new book, and instructing such as had access to him out of it.

John Nisbet being somewhat advanced in years, and having the advantage of a tall, strong, well built body, and of a bold, daring, manly spirit, went abroad and joined the military. Having spent some time in foreign countries he returned to Scotland, and swore the covenants at the same time that King Charles, upon his coronation, swore them at Scone, viz. 1650. Then, having left the military, he came home and married Margaret Law, one who proved a true and kind yoke-fellow to him all the days of her life, and by whom he had several children, three of whom survived himself…”

At the time of his execution…

“He sang the first six verses of the 34th psalm, and read the eighth chapter of the Romans, and prayed with great presence of mind, and very loud. He then went up the ladder, rejoicing and praising the Lord. And so, upon the 4th of December, 1685, in the 58th year of his age, ended that race, which he had run with faith and patience.”

Psalm 34:1-6 from the 1650 Scottish Psalter:

1 God will I bless all times; his praise my mouth shall still express.
2 My soul shall boast in God: the meek shall hear with joyfulness.
3 Extol the Lord with me, let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, he heard, and did me from all fears deliver.
5 They look’d to him, and lighten’d were: not shamed were their faces.
6 This poor man cry’d, God heard, and sav’d him from all his distresses.

From Lives of the Scottish Covenanters by John Howie, p465 ff, found here

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One response to “At his execution, John Nisbet of Hardhill “sang the first six verses of the 34th psalm, and read the eighth chapter of the Romans, and prayed with great presence of mind, and very loud. He then went up the ladder, rejoicing and praising the Lord.”

  1. Our Covenant Heritage by Edwin Nisbet Moore is written by a descendant of John Nisbet of Hardhill. The book is found here and here for purchase, and was published in 2001.

    From the website regarding John Nisbet of Hardhill:

    “The drama depicted in this book took place in Scotland in the late seventeenth century when English Kings conducted a twenty-eight year reign of terror to destroy the Presbyterian Church. Historians refer to those persecuted as ‘Covenanters’ because they had sworn a covenant to preserve their faith. Thousands chose to suffer persecution rather than give in to the king, hundreds died.

    The troubles of John Nisbet of Hardhill, began when he refused to have one of his children baptised by the Episcopalian curate, who had replaced his Presbyterian minister. This decision led to the loss of all his worldly wealth, the death of his wife and daughter, and ultimately his own execution. John Nisbet’s son, James, survived to tell the tale of the lives of the Covenanters. Edwin Nisbet Moore, one of his descendants, in an inspiring book, tells us what the real issues were, and still are, for the church.”

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