Fear of the French: Alexander Peden’s Sermon at Coilsholm Wood: #History #Scotland

Prophet Peden in Wood

According to John Ker of Kersland, Alexander “Prophet” Peden (d.1686) foretold that a ‘mighty alteration’ and apocalyptic scourging at the hands of foreigners would happen in Scotland and England.

‘The next I shall trouble the Reader withal (which I shall leave to his own Judgment whether it be come to pass or not, as he thinks fit to apply it, and shall not trouble him with any more such, for I will not pretend to determine it) was part of a Sermon wherein he foretold, that in a very few Years after his Death there should be a mighty Alteration of Affairs in both Nations, and the Persecution in Scotland should cease, upon which every Body will believe, that their Deliverance is come, and consequently will be fatally secure; but I do tell you, said he, that you will be all very much mistaken, for both these Kingdoms are to be scourged by Foreigners, before any of you can pretend to be Happy, which will be a severer Chastisement than any they ever yet have, or can undergo from their own Countrymen.’ (John Ker, Memoirs, 9.)


Kersland does not say where or when that foretelling took place. However, according to Patrick Walker, the above passage referred to Peden’s last sermon at Coilsholm Wood, which probably took place in late 1685 when Louis XIV issued the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes that increased persecution of the Huguenots. Peden appears to have been particularly vexed by potential French persecution.

Peden’s words appear to have spoken to his times, however, some of Walker’s readers in the 1720s may have interpreted his foretelling in a different light. For them, it possibly foretold either the Revolution of 1688, or the threat of French-backed Jacobite invasions and fears of Catholic persecution.

Two years after the publication of Kersland’s Memoirs, the same passage was the basis for one of the additional passages on Alexander Peden that appeared in the third edition of Patrick Walker’s Life of Peden. (Walker, BP, I, 118-119.)

Both texts appear to have borrowed passages from each other, as Kersland’s Memoirs (1726) seems to have used at least one story from Walker’s first edition of 1724.

Peden’s sermon at Coilsholm Wood may have been preached at a missing location known as Peden’s Pulpit.

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

~ by drmarkjardine on December 5, 2015.

2 Responses to “Fear of the French: Alexander Peden’s Sermon at Coilsholm Wood: #History #Scotland”

  1. […] Ker of Kersland reported two stories about Peden’s last sermon and his burials in his memoirs. The second of those stories is connected in later tradition to […]

  2. […] Scotland was shared by Donald Cargill at Benty Rig in 1681 and Alexander Peden in 1685 and again in his last sermon. (Jardine, ‘United Societies’, I, […]

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