The church that sits here is named for the Franciscan Friary that originally was located here and managed by the Greyfriars, an order of Franciscan monks. The Franciscan Order originally landed in Canterbury from Italy in the 13th century and spread across what we call the United Kingdom today. The Order was later split into two different groups known as the Conventuals - friars that were in the cities - and the Observants - who wanted to keep the old more isolated ways. The Franciscans in Great Britain became known as Greyfriars.
Roman Catholicism was pushed out of Scotland in the 16th century. A group of people signed covenants in Scotland binding themselves to maintain Presbyterian doctrines and denouncing the Pope and the Catholic Church. They became known as Covenanters and they proved to be a big issue for King Charles I. The National Covenant (which can be read here) was signed at Greyfriar's Kirk in 1638 and it was an oath to maintain the reformed religion and reject all superstition of the Catholic Church. When King Charles tried to push new reforms on the Covenanters, they revolted and defeated the King in the Bishops' War. Wars continued and the Covenanters became the de facto government of Scotland. Later, Oliver Cromwell, fighting for the English Parliament, would defeat the Covenanters and by 1652, they were decimated. In 1679, another rebellion was formed, but it was knocked down once again and 1200 Covenanters were taken prisoner and put into the Covenanters' Prison at Greyfriar's Kirkyard. Conditions were awful and many were executed. By the end of their imprisonment, only 400 Covenanters were alive and they were sold into slavery, most of them dying when the ship transporting them wrecked.
|Bloody Mackenzie's Mausoleum|
Greyfriar's Bobby is another famous resident at the kirkyard. The story is told of a night watchman named John Gray who took on a Skye Terrier as his partner and named him Bobby. Gray eventually contracted Tuberculosis and succumbed to the disease in 1858. He was buried at Greyfriar's Kirkyard and Bobby took up vigil at his master's grave. He refused to leave, even in bad weather and so the townspeople took care of the dog, bringing him food and water and Bobby would sometimes leave to have a meal at a nearby shop. Bobby kept vigil for fourteen years and then he was buried in the kirkyard and a monument was erected in his honor. The accuracy of this story has been questioned for years and some have surmised that Bobby was just a stray dog that had taken up residence in the graveyard. At the time, many strays would live in graveyards. Whatever is the case, a beautiful monument was built or the dog.
Here is the tomb of John Bayne of Pitcairlie:
Tomb of George Foulis of Ravilstoun:
There are so many interesting and wonderful monuments at this cemetery that I cannot wait to visit it in person one day!