Prophet Peden’s Rendezvous of Rebellion Disputed
It is found in the postscript of Patrick Walker’s Life of Walter Smith where Walker added new information he had received from correspondents about his previous works. In this case, the story he added referred to his earlier Life of Peden:
‘A Christian Friend, many Miles distant, writes to me, That he was surely informed, that Mr. Peden one Sabbath-day was to preach in Carrick, in the Parish of Ballatree four Miles from the Town. The Tent was set up upon [John] Kennedy the Laird of Glenour’s Ground; but altho’ he was a great Professor [of the Presbyterian cause], would not let it stand upon his Ground, possibly for Fear of the 500 Merks of Fine upon all on whose Ground the Rendezvouz of Rebellion, the Field-Conventicles, was found, wickedly so called in those Days by the Popish, Prelatical, and malignant Faction.
The Tent was lifted over a Water [i.e., the Water of Tig], and set upon Kennedy Laird of Kirkhill’s Ground, who hindred them not.’ (Walker, BP, II, 95.)
Walker also gives details of the preface for Peden’s field preaching:
‘In Preface [to his preaching], Mr. Peden said, the Laird [of Glenour], who would not suffer a bit of God’s Ground to preach Christ’s Gospel upon, his thriving Days were done: Three Things should befal him; 1. His Inheritance should vomit out his Name. 2. His House should stand desolate. 3. And his Offspring come to Poverty:
And the Laird [of Kirkhill] upon whose Ground I now stand, he and his shall increase in Riches and Honour.
All which is exactly come to pass, to the Observation of many: For there is one Fergusson that possesses Glenour’s Lairdship, and his House standing without Roof, and many know his Children are come to very great Poverty; and Kirkhill’s Grandson is now a Baron, and his Rent a Year is about 10000 Merks, which was then about 2000.’ (Walker, BP, II, 95.)
It is a pleasing story of the “good” laird being rewarded, while the laird who rebuffed Peden suffered, but it does not reflect the reality of both lairds in during the late Restoration period.
It appears that Peden was forced to move his preaching tent across the Water Tig, so that he left Glenour’s estate and parish, and preached in Colmonell parish. In requesting the move, Glenour possibly hoped to avoid the fine for allowing a field preaching on his estate. From the probable location, it appears that Peden may have intended to preach literally outside of Glenour’s house.
In 1681, ‘——– Kennedy, son to John Kennedy of Glenour, was one of the rebel heritors in Ayrshire. He was not forfeited for his alleged role in the rebellion of 1679. However, Glenour did find himself before the Justiciary with other rebel lairds from Carrick at the end of March, 1685. If Peden’s preaching took place in 1682 or 1685, then Glenour may have had good reason not to want an illegal preaching on his estate, especially if it took place after his 1685 appearance before the court. It is worth noting that Peden returned to Scotland at that time. Most of the stories Walker tells about Peden relate to his field preaching tours of 1682 and 1685. Before that Peden was imprisoned on the Bass for a considerable period of time. The preaching probably dates to 1682 or 1685. In 1693, the estates of Glenour was retoured to Kennedy of Kirkmichael. (Paterson, History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton, 104.)
Glenour was a Presbyterian laird, Kirkhill was not.
When Peden probably preached, Glenour’s fortunes were in trouble and those of Kirkhill were on the on the rise.
One reason why the laird of Kirkhill did not hinder Peden’s preaching was that his tower lay several kilometres over the hills to the north-west of Peden’s Mount. Kirkhill Castle lies in Colmonell in Colmonell parish, Ayrshire. Kirkhill owned an expending portfolio of properties in Ayrshire and was also Lord Provost of Edinburgh in 1685.
If Kirkhill had known about the seditious field preaching he would probably have tried to prevent it, as both Sir Thomas Kennedy of Kirkhill and his father had loyally served the Stuart kings. Kirkhill was rewarded with lands by James VII in 1685-6. (RPS, 1686/4/27; Paterson, History of the Counties of Ayr and Wigton, 205.)
Peden’s Mount remains one of the sites which have not been photographed in the Prophet Peden Summer Challenge.
Peden is also said to have preached at Nick of the Liberty, which is over two miles to the south-west of Glenour.
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