Prophet Peden, Roasted Sheep and Burning Pews in 1685
Under 1685, the historian, Robert Wodrow, records a curious incident:
‘John Wallace of Knockybae, in the parish of New Glenluce, was seized this year for refusing the abjuration [oath, that renounced the Societies’ war against their persecutors]. A party of colonel Buchan’s men spoiled his house, and took away every thing in it that made for them; and to complete their villanies, they brought in good numbers of sheep to the church, and killed them there; and for despatch, they kindled a fire of the seats and forms of the church, at which they roasted the sheep, and otherwise readied them for themselves. I should not have set down so odd a step in Christians and protestants, had I not the attested account of it under the reverend minister of that parish his hand, which he hath from many living witnesses.’ (Wodrow, History, IV, 337.)
Knockiebae and New Kirk of Luce
Knockybae is Knockiebae, which in the 1680s lay in Glenluce parish, Wigtownshire.
The church at New Luce lay not far to the south Wallace’s home.
Wodrow over plays the outrage card regarding Buchan’s men roasting sheep and burning pews at the kirk. The church at New Luce had been abandoned and the congregation incorporated into that of Glenluce when Alexander Peden had been deprived of the charge after the Restoration.
Wodrow does not give a precise date for the raid on Knockiebae. However, in the summer of 1685, Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Buchan of Mar’s Regiment of Foot also raided Arecleoch, the home of John Macgill, the father of the Andrew Macgill executed at Ayr in late 1684. Areleoch lay to the north of Knockiebae.
There Buchan interrogated John Macgill over a recent armed field preaching, which was perhaps one held by Alexander Peden at the Nick of the Liberty nearby. That preaching may be the one that Peden gave to his old parishioners in June, 1685.
The border between Carrick and Glenluce was not Buchan’s usual area of operations, as he usually operated much further to the north in Lanarkshire and northern Ayrshire. It is very likely that Buchan was only in the area on one occasion, i.e., in the summer of 1685. The reason for Buchan’s presence was probably the rapid redeployment of government forces deep into the South West during the Argyll Rising. It is likely that Buchan’s raids on both Arecleoch and Knockiebae took place at around the same time, probably in June or July, 1685.
At the same time, Buchan or his men also captured Thomas Richard in Strabracken in Glenluce parish, the neighbour of John Macgill. According to that narrative, Buchan’s men went to Stranraer, perhaps via New Luce, before heading back north via Ballantrae to Glasgow. Richard was banished at Edinburgh to Jamaica. It is possible that John Wallace in Knockiebae was the prisoner called ‘John Wallace’ released at Leith Tolbooth in August, 1685, after taking oaths (Wodrow, History, IV, 222.)
The roasting of the sheep in Peden’s old kirk may have been a symbolic act and deliberate insult intended to make a point to his former parishioners in New Luce.
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