Mauchline lawyer, Gavin Hamilton was a close friend of Burns. They were kindred spirits -both freemasons and held similar caustic views of the church and religion.
In a nonsensical act of hatred, Hamilton was hauled before the “Auld Licht” kirk minister, the Reverend “Daddy” Auld, accused of: riding his horse over the countryside on a Sabbath (Sunday); habitual neglect of family worship; picking potatoes on a Sunday (despite this being an act of kindness to feed a hungry old tinker.); and an abusive letter sent to the kirk.
Hamilton was defended by their mutual friend and lawyer, Robert Aitken. Accordingly, the Reverend Auld acquitted him on all counts, much to the dismay of his accuser, Kirk elder, Willie Fisher whose bitter prayers were thus imagined by Burns in ‘Holy Prayer Tale’...
“An' when we chasten'd him therefor, Thou kens how he bred sic a splore, An' set the warld in a roar O' laughing at us;
- Curse Thou his basket and his store, Kail an' potatoes..”.