Rev. William Smith was a minister of the Largs Church from 1644 till 1647- he died after just three years, a victim of the horrible plague that had struck Largs at the time. Hundreds fell victim to the disease, as medical science at the time was powerless to stop it. The plague brought about a burning fever, left the skin disfigured, paralyzed the body and wracked the victim with agonizing stomach cramps. Hundreds more fled Largs in an effort to avoid the plague, escaping to the hills on the upper reaches of Brisbane Glen and setting up makeshift huts of wood and turf.
At a time when victims could do nothing but wait for a long, agonizing death, the newly ordained minister tirelessly continued to serve them, even after he contracted the disease himself. Finally, at the young age of 28, he himself gave up the ghost, and was buried according to his wishes in the Brisbane Glen where he had lived and worked so lovingly and selflessly.
In the undulating stretches of Brisbane Glen’s emerald green fields stand two stone pillars with a gate of wrought iron between them, marked by a cross. Two great yew trees stand guard over this the entrance to his grave, a humble yet solemn tomb in the ground with a headstone to remind people of his life and service- a beautiful place of quiet contemplation.
There is, however, a legend which says that should that the Reverend had made a prophecy on his deathbed- as long as the yew trees over the entrance do not intertwine their branches, the plague will never return to Largs. In the nineteenth century, there had been two severe outbreaks of cholera in the region… but no one knows whether the trees had come to touch at the time of the epidemics. All that anyone knows is that today, at least, the leaning branches still are far from each other… and that Largs remains happy, healthy and prosperous. Image: Flickr