Murder of minister



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The Murder of Rev John Collins


The Laird of Balglass, a small estate in Campsie, (on the back Road to Lennox Castle), sought the hand of one of the fairest ladies in the district, but when the new minister, the Rev John Collins arrived in the district, the Lairds plans were thwarted. After only a short time in post, the Rev. Collins met and married the object of the Lairds desire. Others had sought her hand, but when it became clear that the Rev. was her favourite suitor, they all, with the exception of the Laird, retired gracefully. He was angry that the 'prize' had been snatched out of his hand. However, he became friendly with the couple and was a frequent visitor at the manse, which was approximately 1 mile from his own home.

Balglass sought to win over his former sweetheart, but began to realize that he could only do so if he first got rid of her husband. He was a desperate man, who was about to resort to desperate measures. He retained perfect control, and there was nothing in his demeanor to betray his innermost  feelings of jealousy and hatred.

He knew that the minister would be attending a Presbytery meeting in Glasgow one day in November 1648, and laid his plans accordingly. He went along the Glasgow Road, lay in wait for the unfortunate Rev, dragged him from his horse and murdered him, at a place called 'Lodgemyloons' near the outskirts of the city. He took the victims watch and money in the hope that suspicion might fall of a highwayman. Leaving the body by the roadside, he headed home.

When the ministers pony arrived at the manse without its owner, Mrs. Collins ran to neighbours for help, and a search party was organized. A messenger was sent to the Laird - a move he had anticipated - and he rushed to the manse. He became  involved in the search, and some time later, helped to carry the minister's body home. When he broke the news of the ministers death to Mrs. Collins, she collapsed! 

Balglass was very attentive to the grieving widow, and expressed his eagerness to bring the guilty party to justice; but the murder seemed beyond solution. No suspicion ever fell on the Laird.

Later, when the time came for Mrs. Collins to leave the manse to make way for her husband's successor, the Laird proposed marriage to her. Initially, she refused to listen to him, but having no home, she gave way, and they were married.

For a time he was happy, then eventually his conscience began to trouble him. He was unable to sleep; became restless; he avoided company, and refused to talk to anyone. His wife became anxious about his behaviour, and resolved to find out what was wrong.  Thinking the answer may lie in a box which her husband kept locked, and guarded the key of jealously, she waited until he was pre-occupied, and managed to secured the key.

Rifling through some papers in the drawer, she read each one in turn, then laid them on the table. Then she came upon a watch, which she knew immediately to be that of her deceased husband.  Just at that moment, the Laird entered the room. Realizing that Balglass had hidden the evidence, the awful truth that he was a murderer, dawned on her and she bitterly accused him on the spot. The wretched, conscience-stricken, broken man fled from the house and was never heard of again. Nothing more is known of his wife.

The burial place of the Rev. Collins is in the Clachan of Campsie grave yard. It bears (or did) the following inscription.

"This is the burial place of the Rev. John Collins. He was admitted minister of Campsie 2nd November, 1641, and the tradition is, that he was murdered in returning from Glasgow about Martinmas, 1648."

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