CAMERON, RICHARD, CAMERORIANS: Scotch covenanting leader (b. at Falkland, Fifeshire; killed at Ayrsmoss or Airdamoss, Ayrshire, July 22, 1680), and his followers. Brought up in the Church of Scotland, early impressed by the services of those ministers who, ejected by the Act of Uniformity of 1662, continued to preach in the fields, Cameron adopted and advocated their view that it was wrong to accept the Declaration of Indulgence of 1662, although it mitigated their lot. Licensed by these field preachers, although without university training, he soon became a leader. In 1679 he went to Holland, whither many of his persecuted countrymen had gone after the defeat in the battle of Bothwell Bridge, June 22,1679; in 1680 he returned and with Donald Cargill and Thomas Douglas headed the party, which after him was celled "Cameronians," or impersonally "Society People." Their platform was the Declaration of Sanquhar (published June 22, 1680), drawn up by Cameron and others. In it the royal authority was disowned because of its tyranny. This action brought Cameron and his followers immediately into trouble. A band with him at its head was attacked by the royal troops and literally cut to pieces.
The party lived in and were united in "societies," which had become somewhat numerous before the Revolution. They welcomed King William; but they did not approve of the Revolution settlement, and did not join the Established Church. They objected to the Church which had made many unworthy compromises; were displeased at the want of recognition of the covenants; did not consider that the independence of the Church was secured; and generally believed that God was not sufficiently honored in the new settlement. They objected, too, to the recognition of Erastianism in England. In 1706 the Rev. John Macmillan of Balmaghie joined the societies, and was their first minister. In 1743, another minister having joined them, they constituted "the Reformed Presbytery." In 1774 a similar presbytery was formed in the United States. A presbytery was constituted likewise in Ireland. About 1863 most of the Scotch synod came to be of opinion that there was nothing in their principles requiring them to abstain from countenancing the political institutions of the country, e.g., from voting for a member of Parliament; but, a small minority having a different opinion, a disruption took place. In 1876 a union took place between the larger body and the Free Church of Scotland. Although "Cameronians" has always been a common name given to those who refused to accept the settlement of Church and State under William and Mary, they repudiated it themselves, preferring to be called "Reformed Presbyterians." See COVENANTERS; PRESBYTERIANS.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Biographia presbyteriana, vol. i., Edinburgh, 1827 (life of Cameron); R. Wodrow, Hist. of the Sufferings of the Church of Scotland, 2 vols., ib. 1721-22; T. McCrie Sketches of Scottish Church Hist., ib. 1875; J. Cunningham, Church Hist. of Scotland, 2 vols., ib. 1883; DNB, viii. 301-302.
Calvin College. Last modified on 05/10/04. Contact the CCEL.