The most uncompromising Presbyterian communion in Scotland (known also as the Reformed Presbyterian Church). Though numerically small, the group is historically important. The Cameronians take their origin from those covenanters who refused to follow their brethren in accepting the Revolution Settlement of the Church of Scotland (1689–90). Their reason was that the Settlement ignored the perpetual obligation incurred by the Scottish nation in the National Covenant of 1638, and by the whole of Great Britain in the Solemn League and Covenant of 1643. The name Cameronian derives from that of the principal preacher of these dissenting Covenanters, the youthful extremist Richard Cameron (1648–80), who fell in the skirmish at Aird's Moss near Auchinleck. His followers organized themselves in local societies, mainly in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire (1681). Though their three ministers entered the national church of the Revolution Settlement in 1690, the greater part of the sect, numbering several thousand, refused to conform; 16 years later (1706) they obtained a new minister, John Macmillan, whose intensive, itinerant missionary activity so strengthened the movement that the sectarians were often called Macmillanites. Under his leadership in 1743, a presbytery, known as the Reformed Presbytery, was set up, and the Reformed Presbyterians increased their numerical strength in Scotland; their ideas had considerable effect on Scottish communities overseas. They maintained, into the 19th century, the principle of "political dissent," refusing to swear allegiance to the British Constitution or to take part in any way in civil government. In 1863 a majority of the Reformed Presbyterian Synod decided to refrain from taking disciplinary action against those who exercised the franchise or took part in the civil government of an "uncovenanted" nation. In 1876 this majority joined the Free Church and were finally merged in the Established Church of Scotland in 1929.
Bibliography: m. hutchison, The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland, 1680–1876 (Paisley, Scot. 1893). w. j. couper, The Reformed Presbyterian Church in Scotland (Edinburgh 1925). j. highet, The Scottish Churches (London 1960). f. l. cross, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (London 1957) 223.
Revd Dr William M. Marshall
Donald Cargill, 1619?–1681, Scottish Covenanter. He was a minister in Glasgow from c.1655 until 1662, when he was expelled for denouncing the Restoration and resisting the establishment of the episcopacy in Scotland. After escaping wounded from the battle of Bothwell Bridge (1679), he joined Richard Cameron in the Sanquhar Declaration (1680) against Charles II. Cargill, having excommunicated the king, the duke of York, and others, was arrested and executed.