Rae, Peter (DNB00)

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RAE, PETER (1671–1748), mechanic and historian, son of a clockmaker, was born at Dumfries. In his earlier years he appears to have followed his father's trade, for he afterwards constructed for the Duke of Queensberry at Drumlanrig Castle an astronomical and musical clock, which became the admiration of the neighbourhood. In 1697 he began to study theology, and in 1699 was licensed to preach. In 1703 he was ordained minister of Kirkbride. The parish was suppressed in 1727 by the lords commissioners of teinds, and in 1732 he was translated to Kirkconnel, where he remained till his death on 29 Dec. 1748. ‘Mr. Rae,’ says a successor, ‘was distinguished as a philosopher as well as a divine, nor was he less known as a mechanic, mathematician, and historian’ (Sinclair, Statistical Account, x. 454). On 19 July 1697 he married Agnes, eldest daughter of John Corsane of Meiklenox, bailie of Dumfries. By her he had two sons, Robert and John, and two daughters, Janet and Agnes.

Rae's chief work was a ‘History of the Rebellion of 1715,’ containing much useful local detail and an appendix of original documents (Dumfries, 1718, 4to; London, 1746, 8vo). It was the subject of an attack in doggerel verse by Robert Ker, in ‘A Glass wherein Nobles, Priests, and People may see the Lord's Controversies against Britain.’ Rae also published a ‘Treatise on Lawful Oaths and Perjury,’ Edinburgh, 1749, and compiled a ‘History of the Parishes in the Presbytery of Penpont.’ The latter was never printed, and the original manuscript has disappeared, but several imperfect copies are in private hands (Notes and Queries, 4th ser. ix. 366).

[Hew Scott's Fasti Eccl. Scot. I. ii. 679, 681; Scots Mag. xi. 53; Gent. Mag. 1749, p. 44; Notes and Queries, 4th ser. x. 94, 187; Allibone's Dict. of Authors, ii. 1273.]

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