Mother of the Cameronian Dreamer

At the top wall of the Auld Kirkyard near the Kirkport entrance is the family plot of John Lammie and his wife Margaret Lammie who lived at Sunnyside farm, New Cumnock. Margaret was the mother of the celebrated poet James Hyslop. His best known work ‘The Cameronian’s Dream’ was inspired by the loss of Richard Cameron and his band of Covenanters at Airdsmoss.

Lammie Family Lair (Robert Guthrie)

 Erected by
His wife who died 20th March
1845 aged 66 years; also
Who died in Feb 1823
Also the above JOHN LAMMIE
Who died 30th Nov 1852 aged 74
years. ROBERT LAMMIE their son
who died in June 1862 aged 45 years
MARY LAMMIE their daughter
Who died 12th April 1864, aged 45 years

JOHN LAMMIE (1780-1852) and MARGARET LAMMIE (1779-1845)

This branch of the Lammie family feature in ‘The Man’s the Gowd’ by Dr. James Begg [1], a fantastic account of his forebears, including his great-grandfather Andrew Lammie, younger brother of John Lammie, and their parents Andrew Lammie and Marrion Taylor.

A search of the Old Parish records of New Cumnock [2] reveal the baptisms of four of Andrew and Marrion’s children in the parish, three at Clocklowie, William (1763), Christian (1769), Ellison (1772),  and John (1780) at nearby Lethans. Some 9 years later son Andrew was born at Dalblair [1].

Maps courtesy of National Library of Scotland
Maps courtesy of National Library of Scotland
D=Dalblair, L=Lethans, C=Clocklowie, A=Auchitinch

John Lammie later lived at Auchtitench, a few miles north-east of Lethans, on the Auchinleck side of the New Cumnock parish boundary.

Meanwhile his future wife Margaret Lammie, a second cousin [1], had given birth to a son James Hyslop at Damhead, Kirkconnel, the home of her parents George Lammie, a weaver, and Mary Thompson. The Kirkconnel Kirk Session Minutes of 17th April 1798 revealed the father –

“Margaret Lambie confessed she was with child and that the father of her child was William Hyslop in Little Carco, being further interrogated she likewise confessed that the guilt was committed in October last in the Barn of Little Carco and in the evening she being then serving there.”

Kirkconnel Kirk Session Minutes 1798

In “Poems / by James Hyslop;  ; with a sketch of his life and notes on his poems by Peter Mearns” [4],  Mearns quotes from a letter by Mr. Alexander Muir of Paisley (1841) and gives an insight to how John and Margaret Lammie met.

He says: — “A few years after the birth of the poet, Margaret Lammie, his mother, was married to Mr. John Lammie, of Auchtitinch, in the parish of Auchinleck, Ayrshire. Though the place of his (John Lammie’s) birth is in the parish of Auchinleck* , it is fully sixteen miles from the Parish Kirk, and is situated in a wild and mountainous part of the country, at the head of Glenmuir Water. Spango also flows from the same hill, and after a run of ten miles it is joined by the Wanlock, when it takes the name of the Crawick. Kirkconnel being only seven miles from Auchtitinch, the Lammies used to attend the Parish Church there; and it was in that church that John first saw the beautiful Peggy. I have no hesitation in saying that her regular attendance there made as deep an impression on the mind of John Lammie as her lovely face and bewitching smile.  A few years after John and Margaret were married, he became shepherd to David Limond, Esq., at Dalblair (on Glenmuir Water), where he has resided up till the present time. He has a family of five sons and three daughters, each of whom loved the poet like a brother. John Lammie also paid great attention to him; and, from my own knowledge, I can say that he loved him like his own son. When residing at Wellwood, Hyslop made his mother’s house at Dalblair his home, it being only four or five miles distant. There is not a happier family than Mr. Lammie’s in the whole parish in which he lives; and a couple more respected by their master and neighbours than he and his wife could not be found, I believe, in any parish. Mrs. Lammie still retains traces of that personal beauty on account of which she was much admired in her early years. I have pleasure in thus dwelling on this subject, as I once lived with this happy family, and was ‘loved as one of her own,’ as the poet’s mother expressed it”

* John Lammie was born in the parish of New Cumnock

JAMES HYSLOP (1798-1827)

James Hyslop, doubtless was well versed in the traditions of the Covenanters, perhaps at his grandfather’s George Lammie’s knee who for 65 years was an elder at Kirkconnel parish church. It was while, working as a shepherd that James would encounter the grave of Richard Cameron ‘The Lion of the Covenant” and eight of his followers that were killed on 22nd July 1680 by government troops at the Battle of Airsmoss.

Airdsmoss, Grave of Richard Cameron and eight of his followers (Robert Guthrie)

The setting inspired the young shepherd-poet’s best known work “The Cameronian’ s Dream” which he composed some years later, at which time he was a shepherd in the Crawick valley in the parish of Sanquhar, initially at Corsebank and later Carco.


In a dream of the night I was wafted away
To the moorland of mist where the martyrs lay;
Where Cameron’s sword and his Bible are seen,
Engraved on the stone where the heather grows green.

‘Twas a dream of those ages of darkness and blood,
When the minister’s home was the mountain and wood;
When in Wellwood’s dark moorlands the standard of Zion,
All bloody and torn, ‘mong the heather was lying.

It was morning; and summer’s young sun, from the east.
Lay in loving repose on the green mountain’s breast.
On Wardlaw and Cairn-Table the clear shining dew
Glistened sheen ‘mong the heath-bells and mountain flowers blue.

And far up in heaven in the white sunny cloud,
The song of the lark was melodious and loud;
And in Glenmuir’s wild solitudes, lengthened and deep,
Was the whistling of plovers and the bleating of sheep.

And Wellwood’s sweet valley breathed music and gladness;
The fresh meadow blooms hung in beauty and redness;
Its daughters were happy to hail the returning,
And drink the delights of green July’s bright morning.

But ah! there were hearts cherished far other feelings,
Illumed by the light of prophetic revealings,
Who drank from this scenery of beauty but sorrow,
For they knew that their blood would bedew it to-morrow.

‘Twas the few faithful ones who, with Cameron, were lying
Concealed ‘mong the mist, where the heath-fowl was crying;
For the horsemen of Earlshall around them were hovering,
And their bridle-reins rang through the thin misty covering.

Their faces grew pale, and their swords were unsheathed,
But the vengeance that darkened their brows was unbreathed;
With eyes raised to Heaven, in meek resignation,
They sang their last song to the God of Salvation.

The hills with the deep mournful music were ringing,
The curlew and plover in concert were singing;
But the melody died ‘midst derision and laughter,
As the hosts of ungodly rushed on to the slaughter.

Though in mist and in darkness and fire they were shrouded,
Yet the souls of the righteous stood calm and unclouded;
Their dark eyes flashed lightning, as, proud and unbending,
They stood like the rock which the thunder is rending.

The muskets were flashing; the blue swords were gleaming;
The helmets were cleft, and the red blood was streaming;
The heavens grew dark, and the thunder was rolling,
When in Wellwood’s dark moorlands the mighty were falling.

When the righteous had fallen, and the combat had ended,
A chariot of fire through the dark cloud descended.
The drivers were angels on horses of whiteness,
And its burning wheels turned upon axles of brightness.

A seraph unfolded its doors bright and shining.
All dazzling like gold of the seventh refining;
And the souls that came forth out of great tribulation
Have mounted the chariot and steeds of salvation.

On the arch of the rainbow the chariot is gliding;
Through the paths of the thunder the horsemen are riding.
Glide swiftly, bright spirits, the prize is before ye,
A crown never fading, a kingdom of glory!

While at Sanquhar, Hyslop had opened an evening school ‘for the instruction of his humble pastoral associates’ [4] marking the beginning of a career in teaching which took him to Greenock and then to Edinburgh.

James Hyslop Memorial Sanquhar (Robert Guthrie)

In 1821 he was appointed the schoolmaster on board HMS Doris (frigate) which was about to set sail for South America, returning some three years later.

After a spell teaching in London he was back to sea serving as a schoolmaster on the HMS Tweed (man-of-war) bound for the  Mediterranean and then onto the Cape of Good Hope. The ship anchored at Cape Verde and while resting on the island of St. Jago, James Hyslop, along with a number of shipmates were seized by fever, and he died on 4th November 1827, aged 29 years.

James Hyslop  was buried at sea with full military honours.

When the “Tweed” reached the Cape of Good Hope, a communication was sent to Mr. Hyslop’s mother announcing her son’s death, and intimating the high esteem in which he was held by all on board, and the faithful and affectionate manner in which he discharged his duties as tutor. Among his papers a few scraps of poetry were found, but the only complete piece was a copy of the “Scottish National Melody.” [4]


Sunnyside ruins lies behind restored outbuilding (Robert Guthrie)

John Lammie and Margaret Lammie would be at Dalblair when they received the news of the death of James Hyslop. It is unclear when the family moved to Sunnyside farm near Lanehead in the parish of New Cumnock, but it must have been some time before 1845, when Margaret passed away and was laid to rest in the Auld Kirkyard.  John,  died seven years later, now a retired farmer, aged 72 years old .

Map Courtest f National Library of Scotland
Map Courtesy of National Library of Scotland

Other members of the Lammie family

  • George died in 1832 and his name was doubtless added to the headstone in his memory at the time it was erected following his mother’s death.
  • Robert worked as a grocer and lived in the parish schoolhouse at Afton Bridgend where his sister Mary supported him as housekeeper. After Robert’s death in 1862, Mary returned to Sunnyside earning some money from hand-sewing, only to pass away two years later. Brother and sister are buried in the family lair.
  • William – born in 1802, unable to uncover any more information
  • Andrew married Agnes Campbell and was a shepherd on Dalleagles hill and may later have worked at High Polquheys
  • Marion married Robert Baird and was at Polquheys
  • John moved to Glentrool, Wigtonshire
  • David married (1)  Isabella McMichael and (2) Jane Gall. He died aged 84 years at Hillend, near Corsencon. He lies buried in the Auld Kirkyard with Isabella and Jean.
  •  Thomson took over the reins at Sunnyside and here he raised a large family with his wife Jean McKnight. The family later moved to Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire. However daughter Margaret soon returned to New Cumnock after marrying local merchant Thomas Kirkland – both lie at rest in New Cumnock Auld Kirkyard.

Margaret Lambie (Lammie) and Thomas Kirkland
Margaret Lambie (Lammie) and Thomas Kirkland  (Robert Guthrie)


[1] James Alexander Begg ‘The Man’s the Gowd” (2012) by Dr. James Begg [1],

[2] Scotland’s People  Births. Marriages, Deaths, Census Records

[3] Scotland’s People  Kirkconnel Kirk Session Minutes 1798

[4] Peter Mearns  “Poems / by James Hyslop;  ; with a sketch of his life and notes on his poems (1887)   On-line here

[5] Charles Rogers  in  “Modern Scottish Minstrel” (1855-157) On-line here

Maps reproduced by permission of National Library of Scotland


4 thoughts on “Mother of the Cameronian Dreamer

  1. joyciescotland

    Thank you for this fascinating article. I’m not 100% certain but I think William Lambie born at Damhead in 1802 married Margaret Orr at Muirkirk in 1828 and went on to have several children including Thomson Lambie who I am descended from. William Lambie, shepherd, died at Cambusnethan aged 81 in 1883 and his parents on his death certificate were listed as John Lambie and Margaret Lambie (nee Lambie).

  2. flowgently Post author

    Hello Joycie, thank you for getting in touch and for the kind remarks. Thanks too for the information on William Lambie , I can now the family in the Cambusnethan Census Records. It was good to learn he was born at Damhead too. all the best, Bobby

  3. Neill McRoberts

    I have been tracing my family tree and am connected to the Lammie’s , from the family surname of Hodge from Auchinleck- a fascinating article and another interesting chapter in the family. Thank you


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