The Journey of John Dick, Covenanter: From Fugitive to Dragoon

John Dick in Dalmellington parish was a hunted fugitive who became a dragoon. He was a prominent opponent of James Renwick and one of the leaders of a breakaway group societies in Carrick, Galloway and Calder Muir that broke from the United Societies in 1686.

From Benbeoch to Benbain © Trevor Littlewood and licensed for reuse.

In 1683, Dick was declared a fugitive at the circuit court at Ayr. ‘John Dick in Benbain’ and ‘Quintin Dick, there’ both appear on the published Fugitive Roll of May, 1684, under Dalmellington parish, Ayrshire. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, II, 205.)

Today, much of the farm at Benbain has been obliterated by the opencast coal mines which surround the hill of Benbeoch.

Map of Benbain            Aerial View of Benbain

According to Patrick Walker, at the beginning of May, 1685, Alexander Peden had conducted family worship with John Dick. Walker’s informant, James Nisbet, the son of John Nisbet of Hardhill, alleged that Peden told Dick off for defection, which is probably an indication that Dick was disillusioned with James Renwick’s leadership of the Society people. Dick probably supported the Societies involvement in the Argyll Rising and chose to side with Robert Langlands and George Barclay in the schism between the Societies’ factions in late 1685. (Walker, BP, I, 86-7, 89.)

Dick must have attended several conventions of the Society people prior to late 1685, as his absence from the twenty-third convention at Blackgannoch on 1 October and the twenty-fourth convention at Polbaith burn on 21 October, 1685, was noted by Michael Shields. (Shields, FCD, 227.)

Towards the end of that year, Dick’s opposition to Renwick became public and he became a leading proponent of union with Argyll’s former supporters and of Robert Cathcart’s paper to that end in January 1686. (Shields, Life of Renwick, 103; Wodrow, History, IV, 394.)

On 28 January, 1686, Dick attended the twenty-fifth convention and conference at Friarminnan which brought about a schism between the Societies’ factions. During that meeting, Alexander Gordon of Kilsture, John Dick ‘and some others’ asserted that ‘they had Commissions from the Societies in the shires of Galloway and Carrick, and some of the Societies in Kyle’. (Shields, FCD, 225.)

Dick deserted the United Societies and, according to Alexander Shields, became a trooper or dragoon prior to mid 1688, probably after James VII’s edicts of toleration in mid 1687. (Shields, Life of Renwick, 103; Shields, FCD, 225n.)

Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved.


~ by drmarkjardine on July 28, 2012.

2 Responses to “The Journey of John Dick, Covenanter: From Fugitive to Dragoon”

  1. […] from the farm of Benquhat that lay next to Benbain, it is likely that James Dick was kin to John Dick in Benbain and Quintin Dick in Dalmellington parish, Ayrshire, whose names appear with that of Cathcart as […]

  2. […] Dick was close kin to John Dick in Benbain, Dalmellington parish, Ayrshire. He was also described as a ‘feuar in Dalmellington’, but […]

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