Prophet Peden and the Pocket Watches: ‘The Earl is this Minute Fallen’ #History #Scotland
In mid June, 1685, as the Argyll Rising crumbled around Glasgow, a group of Covenanters came out in support of him in Galloway. Unfortunately for them, as they drew together for the rebellion, the earl of Argyll was captured just as his forces won a small victory at the battle of Muirdykes on 18 June. Soon after, his men who had forced their way across the Clyde, broke up and fled into hiding. As ever, Alexander “Prophet” Peden was allegedly on hand to warn the Galloway rebels…
John Ker of Kersland recorded Peden’s warning and the Galloway support for Argyll In his Memoirs posthumously published in 1726:
‘My Brother[-in-law], Daniel Ker [of Kersland], after the Death of my Father[-in-law] at Utrecht, landing also in Scotland with the said Earl [of Argyll in May, 1685], repaired to the South-West, where the main Body of the Cameronians were, and, at their Request, taking the Command upon him, he resolved to join (Argyll as soon as possible: But some English Men of War, coming into our Western Seas [i.e., in the Firth of Clyde], cut off the Communication [with the Earl in Argyll], which obliged the Earl to March about by Glasgow, in order to join the Cameronians and his other Friends in the West, who were all upon their March to meet him: But it is Melancholy to trouble the Reader with the Particulars of that Miscarriage. The Earl falling into the Hands of his Enemies, after his Party was dispersed near Duntreth, [>p8] &c. “Which not only ushered in the Death of that great Man, but likewise buried the whole Hopes of that Party till the happy Revolution in the Year 1688, under King William of Pious and Immortal Memory;
I shall only beg leave to take Notice of a very odd Accident which happened when the Cameronians were upon their March to join Argyll, Mr. [Alexander] Pedin, another of their Ministers stopping suddenly, intreated them to Halt, and after a short Ejaculation, cryed out, we have no Occasion to go any farther, for the Earl is this Minute fallen a Sacrifice to the fury of his Enemies. Whereupon several Gentleman pulled out their Watches to Mark the Time, which was afterwards found to answer to a very Minute accordingly, tho’ the Earl and they were at least 50 Miles distant. (John Ker, Memoirs, 7-8.)
Patrick Walker recorded a different story about Alexander Peden joining with the rebels for Argyll in Galloway.
His second sight that Argyll was captured is similar to other stories of occasions when he allegedly saw the fates of the Pentland Rising of 1666 and the Bothwell Rising of 1679 when they were taking place. On each of those occasions, Peden was said to have been miles away when the risings failed. (Walker, BP I, 42, 45-6.)
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