Alexander Peden

1626-1686 The celebrated outlaw and covenanter, Alexander Peden was born at Sorn, near Mauchline in East Ayrshire.

He was educated at Glasgow University and became both a teacher at Tarbolton and a Minister at New Luce, Dumfries and Galloway in 1660. Peden opposed the Episcopal system which was introduced after the restoration of Charles II which allowed the King and the Bishops hold the power in the Church and was a staunch supporter of the more democratic Presbyterian system, which led him to be forced out of the church and to become a preacher within the rebel covenanting community. He preached at secret gatherings, called conventicles, around the country wearing a mask to hide his features but was eventually forced to flee, in 1665, to Ireland. He returned to Scotland in 1673 and was caught by Government dragoons near Ballantrae, eventually being imprisoned on the Bass Rock until 1678, when he was sentenced to be deported to the West Indies. Peden's reputation grew when on, boarding the ship he convinced the captain to set himself and other  covenanter's free. He remained an outlaw for the rest of his life and had many other stories associated with him, giving him the title of prophet after many alleged 'mystical' events, such as supposedly being able to hide himself and his followers within a mist whilst being pursued by dragoons. He lived much of this time in a cave (known as 'Peden's Cave locally) on the river Lugar, but made his way to his brother's farm to die in 1686. Despite Government troops searching for his body, his supporters managed to hide it from them and buried it in Auchinleck Kirkyard. Troops however dug it up and took it to Cumnock intending to hang it up on display in the town. The Earl of Dumfries wisely stopped this from happening in case it incited further unrest. They buried him instead at the base of the gallows in disgrace, but the townspeople eventually showed their respect for Peden by making this the site of the town's cemetery.

You must enable javascript to view this website