When Archibald’s father, Robert Gardner, was taken to Stirling Castle, he was held for nine weeks before the judges came. During those two months, Robert’s wife and children fully understood the seriousness of the charge of treason. An indictment required the oath of two witnesses,(1) and conviction resulted in execution. Archibald’s autobiography states that his father was released when nobody brought anything against him.
Historical records indicate that forty-seven men were taken to Stirling Castle, and twenty-four of them were tried and sentenced to death. Based on Archibald’s autobiography, Robert must have been one of the men who was released without being tried. Nineteen of the death sentences were commuted, and those men were sent to Botany Bay in Australia.(2)
Jails in the castles were nothing like modern-day prisons. Below are pictures of the jail in Stirling Castle.
Robert likely spent his nine weeks waiting in a similar cell for a trial that would never occur. The family said he was accused out of spite, and Robert was indignant that the government of his country had the power to hold an innocent man under such conditions. Within seven weeks of the time he was released, Robert Gardner and his family were included on a list of over six thousand Scottish people from the Glasgow area who wanted to leave their homeland.(3)
Archibald was only a small child when his father was released from Stirling Castle, but he had vivid memories of their reunion. When he was forty-two years old, he wrote, “I Remember the day he come back when crowds come to see him I was then only 5 years old & my Mother took me by the hand & we met him on the Burn green outside of the town[.]”
The Burn Green was located to the east of the road leading south from the Garrel Mill.
Below is a picture of the Burn Green today. It’s a beautiful grassy park area surrounded by homes.
1. Scotland, Courts of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery and C. J. Green, Trials for High Treason, in Scotland, Under a Special Commission, Held at Stirling, Glasgow, Dumbarton, Paisley, and Ayr, in the Year 1820 (Edinburgh: Manners and Miller, 1825), 1:25, 26.
2. Tom Steel, Scotland’s Story: A New Perspective (London: Collins, 1984), 199, 200.
3. Robert Lamond, Narrative of the Rise & Progress of Emigration, from the Counties of Lanark & Renfrew, to the New Settlements in Upper Canada (Glasgow: Chalmers & Collins, 1821), 17-19.