Edinburgh World Heritage

The Killing Time

In the 1680s over a hundred people were executed in the Grassmarket because of their religious faith.….

This was the time of the Covenanters, a protestant religious group dedicated to protecting their presbyterian faith from interference by the King. The government saw them as rebels and tried to stamp out the movement.

During what became known as ‘the killing time’, over a hundred Covenanters were executed in the Grassmarket. Some had fought in pitched battles with the king’s troops, but others like Isabel Alison and Marion Harvey were executed for simply hearing a Covenanter preacher.

The Duke of Rothes was quoted as saying to one particularly difficult prisoner, “…then e’en let him glorify God in the Grassmarket…” In fact many did choose to offer a final speech from the scaffold, such as John Finlay, who was executed on 15 December 1682:

“Men and brethren – Showing you that I am condemned unjustly by a genearation of bloody men who are thirsting after the blood of the saints of God, and upon no other account but for being found in the way of my duty in the sight of God….”

Story hosted by: Mussel & Steak Bar www.grassmarket.net

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