Blackadder, John (1615-1686) (DNB00)

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BLACKADDER, JOHN the elder (1615–1686), Scotch divine, was son of John Blackadder, of the families of Blackadder of Blairhall and Tulliealan, whose ancestry were famous in border story, and joined in the wars of the Roses. He was born in December 1615, but where is not known. According to Scott (Fasti, i. 604), he was born in 1623. He studied at Glasgow under Principal Strang, his uncle. He was early distinguished for his scholarship— Oriental, Latin, and Ghreek. He took his degree of M.A. in 1650. Having received license he was unanimously called to the parish of Troqueer in 1652, 'one of the kirks of Galloway within the presbytery of Dumfiries,' and was ordained 7 June 1653. The condition of his parish and of the county was deplorable. Bastardy and profanity were everywhere. The Bible was practically unknown. Blackadder worked hard to correct these evils. Upon the 'intrusion' of episcopacy on presbyterian Scotland in 1662, the minister of Troqueer was 'extruded' from his church and temporarily unprisoned at Edinburgh. He afterwards retired with wife and family to Caitloch, Corsack Wood, and other places. But holding his clerical orders to be indefeasible and the enforcement of episcopacy a violation of the Act of Union, as well as the imposition of a non-scriptural form of church government, he preached eloquently to forbidden conventicles among the mountains and in the moors and glens and eaves. Warrants were again and again issued against him, but he contrived to escape imprisonment, and with Welsh, Peden, Cargill, and other covenanters, continued to preach.

In 1666, 1674, 1677, the records of the privy council show that letters for his apprehension were issued. On one particular occasion, when he delivered a sermon at Kinkell, the people crowded to hear him, notwithstanding the absolute commands, with threats, of Archbishop Sharp. When the irate prelate — a renegade presbyterian — ordered the provost to march out the militia to disperse the congregation, he was told it was impossible, 'as the militia had gone there as worshippers.' In 1674 Blackadder was outlawed, and a heavy reward offered for his body. He fled to Rotterdam in 1678, and there aided in 'healing differences' between the presbyterian ministers, Fleming and M'Ward. He was again in Edinburgh in June 1679. On 5 April 1681 he was 'made prisoner in his house at Edinburgh,' and after a form of examination was sent to the Bass Rock. After four years of rigid imprisonment his health finally gave way. The privy council, in hot haste, gave permission to him to leave, on condition of confining himself to Edinburgh. But it was too late, and he died on the Bass in January 1686.

Blackadder succeeded to, but never assumed, a baronetcy which had been conferred on a member of an elder branch of his family in 1626. He married, in 1646, Janet Haining, daughter of Homer Haining of Dumfries. She died 9 Nov. 1688. Their issue were five sons (of whom Adam, John, and William are separately noticed) and two daughters.

[Scott's Fasti, i. 604; Anderson's Scottish Nation; Min. Glasg. Univ. 111; Edin. Guild and Reg. (Bass); Wodrow and Kirkton's Hist.; Analecta; Edin. Christian Instructor, xxiii.; New Statistical Acc. ii. iv. viii. &c.; Crichton's Memoirs, 2nd ed. 1826, full and valuable; Two Sermons on Isaiah liii. 11, in Howie of Lochgoin's Faithful Contendings, 1780, pp. 72-104; Bishop Burnet's Life.]

A. B. G.