1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cameronians

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CAMERONIANS, the name given to that section of the Scottish Covenanters (q.v.) who followed Richard Cameron (q.v.), and who were chiefly found among those who signed the Sanquhar Declaration in 1680. Known also as “Society Men,” “Sanquharians” and “Hillmen,” they became a separate church after the religious settlement of 1690, taking the official title of Reformed Presbyterians in 1743. Societies of Cameronians for the maintenance of the Presbyterian form of worship were formed about 1681; their testimony, “The Informatory Vindication,” is dated 1687; and they quickly became the most pronounced and active adherents of the covenanting faith. Holding fast to the two covenants, the National Covenant of 1580 and the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643, they wished to restore the ecclesiastical order which had existed between 1638 and 1649, and were dissatisfied with the moderate character of the religious settlement of 1690. Refusing to take the oaths of allegiance to an “uncovenanted” ruler, or to exercise any civil function, they passed through a period of trial and found some difficulty in maintaining a regular ministry; but in 1706 they were reinforced by some converts from the established church. They objected strongly to the proposal for the union of England and Scotland, and were suspected of abetting a rising which took place in the west of Scotland in 1706; but there appears to be no foundation for the statement that they intrigued with the Jacobites, and they gave no trouble to the government either in 1715 or in 1745. In 1712 they publicly renewed the covenants at Auchensauch Hill in Lanarkshire, and in 1743 their first presbytery was constituted at Braehead, while a presbytery was formed in North America in 1774. In 1863 the Cameronians, or Reformed Presbyterians, decided to inflict no penalties upon those members who had taken the oaths, or had exercised civil functions, and consequently a few congregations seceded. In 1876 the general body of the Reformed Presbyterians united with the Free Church of Scotland, leaving the few seceding congregations as the representatives of the principles of the Cameronians. In the British army the first battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) is directly descended from the “Cameronian guard,” which, composed of Cameronians, was embodied by the convention parliament in 1689, and was afterwards employed to restore order in the Highlands.

See J. H. Burton, History of Scotland, vols. vii. and viii. (Edinburgh, 1905); and A. Lang, History of Scotland, vol. iv. (Edinburgh, 1907).