However, the peasantry found, in the abjuration, matter contrary to their consciences, and while some recusants were shot out of hand, a girl named Margaret Wilson, with an old woman, Margaret MacLauchlan, were tied to stakes and drowned by the incoming tide, near Wigtown (13th of May 1685).
In June 1675 he signed the paper of advice drawn up by the bishops for the king, urging the rigid enforcement of the laws against the Roman Catholics, their complete banishment from the court, and the suppression of conventicles, 2 and a bill introduced by him imposing special taxes on recusants and subjecting Roman Catholic priests to imprisonment for life was only thrown out as too lenient because it secured offenders from the charge of treason.
On the 6th of December he protested with three other peers against the measure sent up from the Commons enforcing the disarming of all convicted recusants and taking bail from them to keep the peace; he was the only peer to dissent from the motion declaring the existence of an Irish plot; and though believing in the guilt and voting for the death of Lord Stafford, he interceded, according to his own account, 3 with the king for him as well as for Langhorne and Plunket.
Recusants were shot.
The Gunpowder Plot had aroused in the Commons warmer feelings towards the king; they passed severe laws against recusants, and granted a triple subsidy.
The issue of an important edict ordaining the erection of heathen altars in every township of Palestine, and the appointment of officers to deal with recusants, brought matters to a crisis.
While in the north he was active in forcing the recusants to conform to the Church of England, preaching hundreds of sermons and carrying out thorough visitations.