Religion · Scotland

Man who disguised self to preach illegally dies in cave

January 26, 1686
The Reverend Alexander Peden died in a cave at the age of 60

Rev. Peden was a Covenanter, one of a group of people who disagreed with the political and religious changes King Charles I introduced into the country. The Covenanters refused to acknowledge the king as the head of the Church, believing only Jesus Christ to be fit to hold such a position, and felt high-ranking members of the Church should be appointed by the congregation rather than the monarchy.

Because of these views, Charles I fought a religious war against the Covenanters which eventually led to the throne being passed to Charles II who, also, felt the king should head the Church. Persecutions against Covenanters, as well as Covenanter sympathizers, were carried out. Ministers were removed from their posts and those who continued to preach illegal services were executed. Rev. Peden was able to evade capture and execution, but died at the age of 60 in a cave he used as his home.

In order to hide his identity, Rev. Peden wore a cloth and hair mask (pictured), constructed of human hair, cloth, leather, and false teeth. The mask was recovered in the 1840s having been passed down through one family for generations. Currently it is displayed in the National Museum of Scotland.

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