Worldwide audience for martyrs’ story

For centuries the tragedy of the Wigtown martyrs, the deliberate drowning of two women, has caused controversy and inspired art in equal measure and the story is now indelibly linked to the town.

Some argue that their cruel execution in the Solway tide never happened, that the two women, 18 year old Margaret Wilson and 63 year old Margaret McLachlan, were pardoned and the story was simply propaganda put forward by the Covenanters.

Yet only two decades later the kirk sessions of Penninghame and Kirkinner recorded the evidence of eye witnesses to the terrible event.

For one woman, the terror and regret of those historic executions have resonated through the generations. There are many people in Wigtownshire and beyond who can trace their family trees back to either of the two women who were put to death because they refused to betray their belief, and for one family in Canada research led them to a shocking discovery.

They knew from their name, Winram, and the story that had been passed down, that they were related to the man who had overseen the tying of the two women to stakes in the estuary. But they also discovered that they are linked to the family of Margaret Wilson.

Sharlene Winram has told local historians how the shame and regret of their ancestor Major Winram has been passed down over the centuries and many members of the family have made the journey to Wigtown to visit the gravestones.

Wigtown’s community council has very recently agreed to erect a monolith near to the memorial that already commemorates the martyrs and on the first Saturday of the Whisky, Words and Wisdom Festival, Wigtown Church will host the world premiere of the musical, Angels of the Tide, portraying the story and Sharlene Winram is flying in from British Columbia to see it. Organisers are hoping that the church will be filled with people connected to the Wigtown Martyrs.