‘Instead of minding their business as Farmers or Manufacturers’: On the Hebronites in 1705 #History #Scotland


While he was a burgh commissioner in the Scottish Parliament before the Union, John Clerk, younger of Penicuik, encountered John Hepburn and the Hebronites at Sanquhar in 1705. Clerk was an enlightened man, but like most of the elite of his time he was highly dismissive of the 3,000 to 4,000 followers of Hepburn who were ‘most of the all the Cameronians in Scotland’. The Hebronites would later publicly oppose the Union and burn the articles of it at Dumfries:

‘In Aprile 1705 I resolved to make a visite to My Lord Galloway at his House in that country. I had the happiness of my Father’s company to the Lead hills, for he hapned to be appointed as a Ruling Elder to try, with a committee of Ministers, to reconcile one Mr. [John] Hepbume, a Cameronian Minister and his Followers [i.e., the Hebronites] to the Church of Scotland, from whose principles he had receded. I found afterward that this Committe had not been successful, for all the Cameronians were a wild, vain, and conceited sett of men. Instead of minding their business as Farmers or Manufacturers, they amused themselves chiefly with their own schismatick sholastick divinity and Acts of the General Assemblies. Mr. Hepburn flattered their absurdities by calling them the Remnant of God’s people, for the old Presbyterian forms of doctrine and discipline were laid down by them as standards in things agreeable to their own fancies. In other things they differed widely, as being pieces of necessary which they endeavoured to introduce. The meeting of the above mentioned Comitee was at Sanchar, and, as I was informed, thither came most of all the Cameronians in Scotland, to the number of 3 or 4000. Their disputes were managed in the Kirk, and I think much on the same way as most of the old General Councils.

N.B. The Cameronians were partly a Roguish, partly Enthusiastick set of men and women, who placed their Religion of meer trifles, or at best in hearing of discourses and sermons; such were always liked in proportion to their length, and none pleased save what were very long.’ (Clerk, Memoirs, 54-5.)

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Text © Copyright Dr Mark Jardine. All Rights Reserved. Please feel free 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 April 20, 2016.

2 Responses to “‘Instead of minding their business as Farmers or Manufacturers’: On the Hebronites in 1705 #History #Scotland”

  1. […] The ‘Humble Address’ had been agreed to at an earlier general meeting, as the eight delegates who subscribed it were ‘Commissionate and Appointed by many Christian Societies in the South and Western Shires of this Kingdom’. The address was also submitted in the name ‘of many Christian Societies United into a considerable Body of People, in the South and Western Shires of this Kingdom’. In 1705, Clerk of Penicuik estimated the strength of the Hebronites at 3,000 to 4,000. […]

  2. […] for the congregation seems rather high. In April, 1705, John Clerk of Penicuik reported that ‘most of all the Cameronians in Scotland, to the number of 3 or 4000’ had gathered at Sanquhar, a small burgh in the hills to the north-west of […]

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