James Renwick’s Field Preaching at Braehead in Cumnock parish
James Renwick’s field preachings in early 1684 do not frequently appear in the records. However, it appears that he preached at Braehead, then in Cumnock parish, in April or May of that year.
The evidence for that preaching is found in depositions from elders in Cumnock parish in October, 1684, which were used by a circuit court in Ayr to root out non conformity. Among those depositions are two references to the Braehead preaching earlier in the year. In both cases, the deponents did not identify the preacher. However, Renwick was the only active field preacher at that time.
Today, the site of the preaching either has been, or is on the edge of being, destroyed by opencast mining.
Renwick’s preaching at Braehead took place in the weeks after he attended the Societies’ thirteenth convention at Panbreck on 20 March. Panbreck hill lies on the boundary between the shires of Ayr and Lanark and the boundary between Auchinleck parish and Douglas parish.
Around six months after the preaching, it is recorded in depositions.
George Halbert was an elder in Cumnock parish. He lived at Little Auchincross, which was close to the site of Renwick’s preaching. He deponed that ‘he knowes of noe conventicles [in the parish] except one at Braheid in Appryll or May last [i.e., 1684], but knowes not whoe was the minister or hearers’.
Halbert also identified Sarah Moodie in Dalricket Mill as a resetter of fugitives. Dalricket Mill lies beside Braehead
James Logan in Farden, too, was probably an elder in Cumnock parish. He deponed:
‘George Brown in Aghengee hath a childe not baptised by the minister, John Slowan had two childeren and John Vallence, fugitive, had likewis two childeren baptised at the conventicle at the Braie Heid’
Logan identified John Vallence as having a child baptised at Renwick’s Braehead preaching. He may be the John Vallence who was tried on 7 May, 1687, for frequenting field conventicles and alleged to have corresponded with James Renwick.
It is not clear from Logan’s deposition whether the two other men attended Renwick’s preaching. However, George Brown in Auchengee lived next to Braehead.
I am very grateful to Robert Guthrie for drawing my attention to this preaching. His New Cumnock history website is an excellent guide to the Covenanters of the area. The depositions of October 1684 make fascinating reading and are reproduced in full on the New Cumnock site.
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