Covenantor Imprisoned For Her Religious Beliefs
Agnes Hairstanes - 1685
Agnes Hairstanes was one of the Covenanters listed among 122 men and 45 women that were imprisoned at Dunnottar Castle in Scotland on May 24, 1685 for refusing to take an oath acknowledging King James II of England (VII of Scotland) and denouncing the National Covenant. The problem was that King James II was a Catholic and the majority of Scots were Presbyterians and had strong religious differences with the Crown.
"Dunnottar's place in Covenanter history is from its use as a prison in 1685 for 122 men and 45 women. In particular they were thrown into the "Whigs Vault", which was a room about 55 ft long , 15.1/2 ft wide and 12 ft high with two tiny barred windows. Here they were packed so tight that they could not sit, lean or lie down, and many of them died where they stood." (from "The Reformation" http://www.thereformation.info/)
Whigs Vault at Dunnottar Castle
Agnes Hairstanes is listed on Ancestry.com as arriving in New Jersey in 1685 along with the other prisoners from Dunnottar Castle, however this is not correct. The prisioners that refused to swear an oath to King James were banished from Scotland to his majesties plantations and never to return. The prisoners were put on the ship "Henry & Frances" headed to America where they would be sold as indentured servants. Of the 125 prisoners transported on the ship, 31 died at sea. It appears that Agnes Hairstanes decided to swear an oath to the King instead of being sent to America. (Boyer, Carl, 3rd. edited and indexed by, "Ship Passenger Lists: New York and New Jersey 1600-1825")