NS 497072


There were two Pennyvenie farms - Upper and Lower. The image above, from the 1850s Ordnance Survey map, shows Upper Pennyvenie, which was nearer to the Tod Fauld on Ben Beoch. Both Pennyvenie farms were deomileshed when the area was subject to opencast coal mining.

John Paterson of Pennyvenie


John Paterson of Pennyvenie, was a notable Covenanter who survived the Killing Times. Pennyvenie was at that time owned by John Craufurd of Camlarg, who by the laws of the time had to ensure that his tenants attended church and adhered to the king. Paterson arrived at Camlarg to pay his rent and let it slip that he had been at Mayfied Hill to attend a conventicle. Craufurd told Paterson that he must either give up attending conventicles or else be evicted from his farm. However, Paterson decided to remain at home but made arrangements to create a secret exit from his house. This was required sooner than he'd expected, for a group of soldiers arrived at the farmhouse in search of Covenanters. Paterson made his escape, the soldiers turning the house over before threatening his wife. At length they left, and Paterson could return to the house.

                John Paterson attended a conventicle held at Fingland, at the head of the Dalwhat Water (Glen Cairn) in Dumfries-shire. Word arrived that a party of Highlanders were in the vicinity and the Covenanters split up and made their way homeward. Paterson discovered that two dragoons on horseback were following him. The horses found the going difficult across the boggy moss, so Paterson managed to get ahead. However the soldiers were beginning to catch him up as he reached Meikle Hill, on the border between Dalmellington and New Cumnock. Across the summit he found a hollow in which he hid, but the dragoons sent on their dogs to sniff him out. As they came towards him, and were about to discover his place of concealment, a fox got up and ran away down the hillside. The dogs were side-tracked and took chase, the dragoons following in error. Paterson was able to watch them descend the Cummock glen, visit his home, then continue to Dalmellington. John Paterson then returned home, but Craufurd of Camlarg told him the following day that he had been publicly denounced as a rebel and that a price had been put on his head.

                John Paterson found a hiding place on the lower slopes of Ben Beoch, known as "Tod Fauld", where a cavern in the loose rocks which had fallen from Benbeoch Craig existed. He used this place on a number of occasions to hide, each time improving it and making it homely. On occasions when he was helping in his fields and word reached the locals that the soldiers were coming, neighbouring farmers would shout "The nowt's [cattle] in the corn," as a secret warning.

                Paterson attended a conventicle at Irelandton (on the moors east of Gatehouse of Fleet) where the Revd James Renwick preached under nightfall. The look-out, who had been posted to watch for signs of danger, alerted the Covenanters of the approach of a group of Highland soldiers. The conventicle was broken up and all searched for hiding places. Paterson went with David Halliday, John Bell, Robert Lennox, Andrew MacRobert and James Clement to the barn on the farm and hid amongst a pile of shorn wool, the smell of which threw the searching dogs. All the Covenanters listed were subsequently martyred when Robert Grierson of Lag surprised them at a conventicle on Kirkconnell Moor in 1685.

                Nearer to home, Paterson attended a conventicle near Littlemill, in the parish of Dalrymple. The local lairds of Kerse and Keirs knew of his attendance and reported to Craufurd of Camlarg who sent for him. Craufurd arranged for Paterson to assist in the construction of a dam across the Doon at which a number of local lairds would be in attendance, and where he could again win favour with them. When John told his wife of the plan she feared that it was a trap to capture him, but he replied that he had promised Craufurd that he would go with him, and that he doubted the laird would actually turn him in, or be responsible for his encapturement. On the appointed day Craufurd and Paterson arrived at the river where they worked laboriously all day. At nightfall, MacAdam of Waterhead was in the process of adding a large sod to the dam but slipped, dropping it and causing a large splash of dirty water to soak Craufurd. Tempers flared, but Paterson intervened, scolding both parties, particularly Craufurd for his use of blasphemous language. Both parties remained silent, even when Paterson took out his Bible and gave them a lesson on the rich man and Lazarus.

                John Paterson survived the Killing times, living to see the return of Presbyterianism to Scotland and a more settled and prosperous nation. He lived to be 90 in 1740 and was buried in the parish kirkyard. Some of his descendants still live in the parish.