Helen Alexander

Helen Alexander (1654 – March 1729) was a heroine of the Scottish Covenanters in the unequal struggle between the adherents of ancient Presbyterianism and prelacy.

She is still today a "household name" in the west of Scotland; in the mountain glens and moors of Ayrshire and Galloway and the Pentlands, chapbooks still tell her marvellous story of courage and devoutness. Helen Alexander was born at Linton in 1654, and from her youth up was an earnest Christian. She was a staunch Presbyterian. She "ministered" dauntlessly to the fugitives. She stood by the friendless at the bars. She spent days and nights in prison with "the suffering remnant". She died in March 1729, aged 75.

Towards the end of her life she dictated many of her experiences to her husband, and the manuscript was published by the Rev. Dr. Robert Simpson, of Sanquhar, in his Voice from the Desert, or the Church in the Wilderness (1856). It is entitled A Short Account of the Lord's Dealing with Helen Alexander, spouse first to Charles Umpherston, tenant in Pentland, and thereafter to James Currie, merchant in Pentland; together with some remarkable passages, providential occurrences, and her support and comfort under them, and deliverance out of them. All collected from her own mouth by her surviving husband. It is scarcely possible to imagine a more artless or a more absolutely truthful narrative of the events of "The Killing Time", as it is still called in Scotland. All the leading Covenanters cross and recross the stage; for in and out of prison Helen Alexander was brought into the closest relations with them all, especially John Welsh, Donald Cargill, David Williamson, Andrew Gullon and James Renwick.


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