The Rigs O’ Barley, Prophet Peden and A Great Rain in 1685


Probably late in the summer of 1685, Alexander Peden was sick and hidden in a cottage in a village ‘near Cumnock’ in Ayrshire…

Map of Cumnock

‘[Additional passages] 23. Lying sick in a Village near Cumnock, he told his Landlord, who was afraid to keep in his House, the Soldiers being to travel through that Town the next Day, Ye need not fear to let me stay in your House, for some of these Soldiers shall keep Centry at this Door, but shall not come in, which came to pass.

His Landlord being digging Stones at the End of that Village, told the Officers, That he was afraid the Soldiers would plunder his Cottage; They said. Poor Man, you deserve Encouragement for your Virtue; be not afraid for your House, we shall order Two Soldiers to stand at your Door, that none may enter to wrong you; which they did.’ (Walker, BP, I, 114-5.)

Walker also records a second story that appears to feature the same landlord which has a clue to the possible time frame for his presence near Cumnock:

‘[Additional passages] 24. Lying Sick about the same Time, his Landlord was afraid to keep him in his House; the Enemy being in Search for hiding People, he was obliged to make a Bed for him amongst the standing Corn, at which Time there was a great Rain raising the Waters, but not one Drop to be observed within Ten Foot of his Bed while he lay in the Field.’ (Walker, BP. I, 115.)

Late Summer?
In Scotland, ‘corn’ refers to any cereal crop. In the area around Cumnock the poor soil quality would probably dictate that it was barley. If the story of Peden hiding in a ‘standing’ crop is accurate, and it is an ‘if’, then the story probably dates to the late summer of 1685 and before the harvest.

For other posts on strange wonders in late seventeenth-century Scotland, see here.

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


~ by drmarkjardine on June 30, 2014.

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