Prophet Peden’s Kinfolk #History #Scotland

Peden Eyes

When the wanted Covenanter, Alexander Peden, died at ‘the Dikes’ in Sorn parish in January, 1686, he was protected by his kin. The names of two Pedens appear to be associated with his hiding place, a fugitive named Alexander Peden and a former elder in the Church, John Peden of Blindburn. However, there were several other Pedens in the parish at that time. Some, if not all, were probably his kinfolk. They, too, reveal something about Prophet Peden…


Waulkmill of Sorn
Two fugitives in the parish in 1684 were ‘Robert Pedin, son to Hugh Pedin in Walk Mill of Sorn’ and ‘—— Pedin, also his son’. The Waulkmill of Sorn lay just to the west of Sorn Castle by the River Ayr and Sorn Hill. Today, it is not named on the OS map and the mill has vanished.

Map of Waulkmill of Sorn

The Hearth Tax record for the parish a decade later lists a ‘Robertt Paddin — 1 –’.
Two others named Peden listed in the Hearth Tax record could be the unnamed Peden fugitive: ‘Alexander Peiden — 1 — –’ and ‘James Peedint — 1 –’.

However, more intriguing is the Hearth Tax record’s listing of a ‘Hewgh Peidie’, which is probably a ‘Hugh Peden’. It appears under ‘The Earle of Loudoun land & house in dalquainie qch is all payed’. The first property listed is ‘My Lords house thr [there] payed 11 — 11 — –’. The Earl of Loudoun’s house was Sorn Castle, the largest dwelling in the parish. The very next name listed is one ‘Hewgh Peidie — 2 –’. Hugh Peden clearly lived close to the Earl of Loudoun’s castle. He may be the same man as the Hugh Peden in the Waulkmill, but it is probable that he was Hugh Peden in Mains of Sorn.

The fugitive field preacher, Alexander Peden, was in hiding nearby at ‘the Dikes’ in early 1686. He is also associated with a cave nearby below Sorn Castle and Blindburn.

There were connections between Prophet Peden and the owners of Sorn Castle, the earls of Loudoun.

In 1685, Hugh Campbell had recently become the third, earl of Loudoun. His sisters are known to have sheltered the fugitive James Nisbet, the son of Hardhill, at their family estate at Loudoun Palace in November, 1685. Nisbet had met Alexander Peden in mid 1685 and appears to have been in his company on several occasions that summer. Peden also had connections to people who knew the previous earl of Loudoun and he is alleged to have foretold the death of Loudoun’s factor in 1680.

When Prophet Peden first returned to Scotland in 1685, the castle was garrisoned by some dragoons from Captain John Inglis’ company under the command of Lieutenant Lewis Lauder.

Before he arrived at the castle, Lauder had captured John Paton of Meadowhead in April, 1684. Lauder was responsible for administering the Abjuration Oath in the parish in February 1685. At some point, probably in the following months, his men shot William Shillilaw further down the River Ayr.

How long the castle remained garrisoned is not clear. Command of Lauder’s unit was transferred to Captain ‘Major’ George Winram in early May, 1685, after a humiliating attack on the tower at Newmilns. It is possible that the garrison was removed at that time, as immediately after that, the unit was based much further to the south near Wigtown. Soon after that, the crisis of the Argyll Rising of May to mid June led to a general redeployment of military units.

The castle was possibly not garrisoned when Peden hid near it in late 1685 to early 1686.


Another fugitive in Sorn parish in 1684 was ‘John Pedin, portioner of Hole-house’. Holehouse lay to the east of Sorn Castle and by the River Ayr between Dalgain and Daldilling. The properties there were later known as High Holehouse (aka. Holehouse-hillhead) and Laigh Holehouse.

Map of Holehouse

Laigh Holehouse has vanished, but it lay here:

Aerial View of Laigh Holehouse

Peden’s Tree, a site associated with the field preacher, which may still exist, lay on the opposite bank of the River Ayr from Holehouse.

George Wood was shot at nearby Tincorn Hill is 1688.


The Fugitive Roll of 1684 also mentions one non-fugitive named Peden: ‘Mr John Pedin in Meadowhead’. There are two farms named Meadowhead, which both lie to the north of Sorn Castle. The title ‘Mr’ implies that John Peden was educated at a university like Alexander Peden. The more northerly of the Meadowhead farms lies next to Auchencloigh, which is where Alexander Peden is said to have been born.

Map of Meadowhead by Auchencloigh and Auchmannoch

Aerial view

The other Meadowhead lies relatively close to ‘the Dikes’ where Prophet Peden died.


Map of Meadowhead near Dykeneuk

Aerial View

The Hearth Tax record for the parish a decade later lists three John Pedens: ‘John Peiden — 2 — –’, ‘John Peddine — 3 — –’ and ‘John Pedden’ under no specific location who could be any of the John Pedens above.

What makes one of the Meadowhead farms intriguing is that Richard Cameron is said to have spent his last night before he was killed at Airds Moss at Meadowhead. A stone trough at Meadowhead, in existence in 1908 and perhaps awaiting rediscovery, was said to be where Cameron washed his hands for the last time.

Prophet Peden appears to have had a connection to Cameron. In 1680, he is said to have spoken about Cameron’s death at Mauchline Fair. In 1685, he is said to have visited Cameron’s grave, and when dying, he is supposed to have expressed a desire to be buried there.


West Auchenlongford: Prophet Peden’s Home? © Gordon Brown and licensed for reuse.

A final Peden connection in the parish is via the Pedens of Auchenlongford.

Map of Auchenlongford

‘The first notice we have of this family is in the old retours, under date 16th March 1648, when

I. Alexander Pethein is served heir to his grandfather, Alexander Pethein of Auchinlongford but from the number of families of the same name that existed in the parish during the seventeenth century, we may infer that they had been settled there long previously.

[It is possible that Alexander Pethein of 1648 was the field preacher, but there is no direct evidence that it was. Peden was forfeited for his field preaching. His property was restored to his heirs in 1690 by an act of the Scottish Parliament. The next entry may be a nephew of the preacher who held the lands in the 1690s.]

II. James Peden of Auchinlongford had a child baptized on 5th March 1693. His wife’s name was Agnes Miller. They had several other children baptized. His son succeeded in 1723, and was also styled

III. James Peden of Auchinlongford. He married Isabell Rob, and had several children baptized before the year 1733. He was succeeded by his son,

IV. James Peden of Auchinlongford, who sold his property before the year 1780 to Mr Innes of Stowe […]. It consisted of the farms of Burntshields and West Auchinlongford.

There were six[?] families of farmers named Peden in the parish towards the end of the seventeenth century, doubtless all derived, either directly or indirectly, from Auchinlongford, and from one of them sprang the revered Covenanter, Mr Alexander Peden; but it is doubtful (although it is allowed by every one that he was a native of Sorn), to which of them he belonged. The Pedens in Auchmannoch have the name of Alexander more frequently mentioned in the session records than any other, which is an indication, at least, of nearer affinity. The first entry in the register [from 1692 onwards] is the baptism of a son of Alexander Peden in Auchmannoch.’ (Paterson, History, 427.)

How the Pedens in Sorn parish were related to Prophet Peden (1626-1686) is not clear.

James Peden of Auchenlongford (d.1723) was too young to be a brother of Alexander, as he had children baptised from 1693 onwards.

John Peden of Blindburn, an elder in c.1660 and again 1693, appears to have been of a similar age to Prophet Peden and lived near ‘the Dikes’ where the preacher died in 1686.

The Mr John Peden in Meadowhead in 1684 was an educated man like Alexander, but his age is not known. He may, or may not, have been the same man as Blindburn. He was clearly not John Peden, portioner of Holehouse, a fugitive in 1684 of unknown age.

Hugh Peden in the Waulkmill of Sorn was probably around the same age as the preacher, as he had two sons, Robert and ‘—–’ who had fought at Bothwell in 1679. Assuming that one of his sons was at least 20 in 1679, it is probable that Hugh was born prior to 1639, which would make him old enough to have been close kin of Prophet Peden who was born in 1626.

The fugitive Alexander Peden in ‘the Dikes’ in 1684 was certainly not Prophet Peden’s brother, but he lived in the location where Peden died in 1686. He may, or may not be, the same man as Alexander Peden in Auchmannoch, who had a child baptised in 1692.

In the end, like Prophet Peden, his family in Sorn parish remains elusive.

For more on Alexander ‘Prophet’ Peden, see here.

For more on the Covenanters in Sorn parish, see here.

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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 September 26, 2016.

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