Alexander Peden

1626 - 1686

Charismatic Covenanter. Born at Sorn (near Mauchline) and educated at the University of Glasgow, Peden became a teacher at Tarbolton and then Minister of New Luce, Dumfries and Galloway (1660). Peden was forced out following the restoration of King Charles II because he opposed the Episcopal system which was being enforced, where bishops and the King held power in the church, rather than the Presbyterian system, which involved much greater democracy. Peden preached at coventicles around the country, but was forced to flee to Ireland in 1665. He returned in 1673 but was captured near Ballantrae, taken for trial in Edinburgh and imprisoned on the Bass Rock (East Lothian) until 1678. He was banished to the American plantations and transferred to London and placed aboard a ship bound for the colonies. However, the ship's captain sympathised with Peden's position and released him. He returned to Scotland and spent his remaining years in hiding. He died in a cave above the Lugar Water near Auchinleck and was buried in the churchyard there. Some weeks later his body was dug up with the intention of hanging it from the gallows in Cumnock as an example. However William Crichton, 2nd Earl of Dumfries (1598 - 1691), interceded and the body was reburied at the foot of the gallows. A monument was erected to mark this spot in 1891. Various geographical features are named after him, including Peden's Cave in East Ayrshire and Peden's Pulpit near Dalry.

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