‘Bits of Papers and Drops of Blood’: Peden, the Killing Times and the Glorious Revolution

Peden at Richard Cameron's GravePeden at Cameron’s Grave

What did Alexander Peden think about the Society people’s cause and their struggle in the Killing Times?

The following story related by Patrick Walker is alleged to have taken place in 1685 at the grave of Richard Cameron who was killed in the skirmish at Airds Moss in Auchinleck parish, Ayrshire, in 1680.

The story immediately follows Walker’s account of Peden and James Nisbet’s escape from a house in Ayrshire on c.27 April and comes before Peden’s visit to the house at Priesthill in Muirkirk parish on 29 to 30 April.

‘36. About this same Time [probably late April to May, 1685], James Wilson in Dowglass, a singular known Man to many, was in Airdsmoss; and being together some Time without speaking, as Mr. Peden’s ordinar was, when there was any extraordinar Thing in his Head, they came to Mr. [Richard] Cameron’s Grave where he and other Eight were buried.’ (Walker, BP. I, 71.)

Map of Cameron’s Grave on Airds Moss

Like John Brown in Priesthill, who he also visited in 1685, Peden knew James Wilson from his time in Scotland in 1682, when he preached in his house at Townhead of Douglas.

‘After some Time sitting upon the Grave he gave James a Clap on the Shoulder with his heavy Hand, and said, James I am going to tell you a strange Tale:
James said, I am willing to hear’t:
He said, This is a dreadful Day, both of Sinning and Suffering, as indeed it was, it being Killing-time [of 1685], wherein many fainted, and could not endure the Scorching Heat of that Persecution; and to some, the Lord in his Love gave Gourds of Strength, Support and Comfort, that keeped them from fainting: But, said he, tho’ it be a dreadful Day, it will not last long; this Persecution will be stopt within a few Years, but I will not see it. And you are all longing and praying for that Day; but when it comes, ye will not crack so much of it as you trow. And ye’re a vain Man, James, and many others [in the Societies], with your Bits of Papers and Drops of Blood, (meaning our Martyrs Testimonies and Blood) and who but you, and your Bits of Papers and Drops of Blood? But when that Day comes, there will a Bike of Indulged, luke-warm Ministers come out of Holland, England and Ireland, together with, a Bike of them at Home, and some young Things that know nothing, and they will all hyve together in a General Assembly; and the Red-hands with Blood, and the Black-hands with Defection, will be taken by the Hand, and the Hand given them by our Ministers: And ye will not ken who has been the Persecutor, Complier or Sufferer; and your Bits of Papers and your Drops of Blood will be shot to the Door, and never a Word more of them, and ye and your Testimony cut off at the Web’s End, and ye and the like of you will get their Back-side:’
(Walker, BP. I, 71-2.)

While Peden supported the Society people in their struggle, he appears, at least according to Walker or his informant, Wilson, to have considered the Societies’ platform too narrow to win widespread support among the wider presbyterian community.

‘He gave him another sore Clap upon the Shoulder, saying, Keep Mind of this, James Wilson, for as the Lord lives, it will surely come to pass. James Wilson told me this shortly thereafter [i.e., after Walker escaped from prison in 1685], and renewed it again at the first General Assembly [in 1690], when he and I, and many others, saw the Accomplishment of this in every Particular, to our great Grief.’ (Walker, BP, I, 72.)

The Revolution settlement of 1689 to 1690 divided the Society people.

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please link to, post on Facebook or retweet this post, but do not reblog in full without the express permission of the author @drmarkjardine

~ by drmarkjardine on June 21, 2014.

5 Responses to “‘Bits of Papers and Drops of Blood’: Peden, the Killing Times and the Glorious Revolution”

  1. Reblogged this on Our Reformed Christian Heritage.

  2. […] The next story in Walker’s narrative is about Peden visiting Richard Cameron’s grave in Auchinleck parish. […]

  3. […] The alleged concern of Peden for what would follow the downfall of the Stewart regime, i.e., what became known as the Glorious Revolution, also appears in another story of Patrick Walker’s on Peden at Cameron’s grave. […]

  4. […] life of Alexander Peden. Even in the first line of Heathercat he uses ‘Killing-Time’, a phrase Walker recorded Peden using at Cameron’s […]

  5. […] In 1680, he is said to have spoken about Cameron’s death at Mauchline Fair. In 1685, he is said to have visited Cameron’s grave, and when dying, he is supposed to have expressed a desire to be buried […]

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