a local surname, derived from the parish of Cruden, or Crudane,
in the district of Buchan, Aberdeenshire, which is usually supposed
to have taken its name from the battle fought there in 1005, by
Malcolm the Second and Canute, (afterwards king of England,) son of
Sweno, king of Denmark and Norway, although Pinkerton has shown that
the alleged Danish wars of Malcolm the Second were mere fabrications
of Hector Boece. It is more likely to have been derived from
Cruthen, the first king of the Picts (commenced his reign A.C.
28, and reigned twenty-five years), from whom the Irish called the
Picts Cruitnich. He was sometimes called Cruidne, and
as the n and ne in Gothic are, after a consonant,
pronounced en, we have at once the name Cruden.
author of the well-known and most useful ‘Concordance of the Bible,’
the son of a merchant and bailie of Aberdeen, was born in that city,
May 31, 1701. He received his education in the grammar school of his
native town, and was entered a student at Marischal college there;
but having manifested incipient symptoms of insanity, it was found
necessary to place him in confinement. On his liberation in 1722 he
quitted Aberdeen, and proceeding to London, obtained an appointment
as tutor in a family in Hertfordshire, where he continued for
several years. He was afterwards engaged in the same capacity in the
Isle of Man. In 1732 he settled in London, where he was employed by
Mr. Watts, printer, as corrector of the press. He also engaged in
trade as a bookseller, which he carried on in a shop under the Royal
Exchange; and, on the recommendation of the lord mayor and aldermen,
was appointed bookseller to the Queen. At this time all his leisure
was devoted to the compilation of ‘A Complete Concordance of the
Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament,’ a work which, with
great labour and perseverance, he at length accomplished. The first
edition, dedicated to Queen Caroline, was published in 1737. Her
majesty graciously promised to keep him in mind, and perhaps she
intended to fulfil her word, but, unfortunately for him, she died
suddenly a few days after receiving the book. He now shut up his
shop; and becoming soon again a prey to his phrenetic disorder, he
was confined in a private madhouse at Bethnal Green. As soon as he
obtained his release, he published a pamphlet, entitled ‘The London
Citizen exceedingly Injured, or a British Inquisition Displayed,’
London, 1739; and also commenced an action against Dr. Monro, his
physician, and others, for cruelty which was tried in Westminster
Hall, July 1739, when he was nonsuited. For the next fifteen years
he lived chiefly by correcting the press, and superintended the
printing of several of the Greek and Roman Classics. In 1753 the
return of his malady obliged his relatives to shut him up a third
time in a madhouse. When he was once more at liberty, he published
another pamphlet, entitled, ‘The Adventures of Alexander the
Corrector.’ In September of that year, he endeavoured to persuade
one or two of his friends, who had been instrumental to his
confinement, to submit to imprisonment in Newgate, as a compensation
for the injuries they had inflicted on him. To his sister, Mrs.
Wild, he proposed what he deemed very mild terms, namely, the
payment of a fine of ten pounds, and her choice of Newgate, Reading,
and Aylesbury jails, or the prison at Windsor Castle. When he found
that his persuasions were of no avail, he commenced an action
against her and three others, fixing his damages at ten thousand
pounds. The cause was tried in February 1754, and a verdict again
given in favour of the defendants.
accordance with the whimsical title he had assumed of “Alexander the
Corrector,” he now devoted himself to the task of reforming the
manners of the age, maintaining, wherever he went, that he was
divinely commissioned to correct public morals, and to restore the
due observance of the Sabbath. Having published a pamphlet, entitled
‘The Second Part of the Adventures of Alexander the Corrector,’ he
went to present it at court, and was very earnest with the lords in
waiting, the secretaries of state, and other persons of rank, that
his majesty should confer on him the honour of knighthood. At the
general election in 1754, he offered himself as a candidate to
represent the city of London in parliament. Of course, he was
disappointed in both these objects. Amidst all his eccentricities he
lost no opportunity of showing his loyalty. He wrote a pamphlet
against Wilkes, and went about with a sponge in his hand effacing
No. 45, the title of that demagogue’s obnoxious pamphlet against
Scotland, wherever he found it written on the walls, or doors, &c.,
of the metropolis.
Mr. Cruden, whose benevolence was unwearied, was the means of saving
the life of a poor sailor named Richard Potter, who had been
capitally convicted at the Old Bailey, for uttering a seaman’s will,
knowing it to be forged. Firmly convinced that he was a fit object
for the royal clemency, he never ceased his applications to the
secretary of state till he obtained the commutation of the sentence
to that of transportation for life. In 1763 he published an
interesting account of this affair, under the title of the ‘History
of Richard Potter.’ In 1769 he revisited Aberdeen, where he remained
about a year, during which time he gave a lecture on the necessity
of a general reformation of manners, &c. On his return to London, he
took lodgings in Camden Street, Islington, where, on the morning of
November 1, 1770, he was found dead on his knees, apparently in the
attitude of prayer. He died unmarried, and bequeathed his moderate
savings to his relatives, except a certain sum to the city of
Aberdeen for the purchase of religious books for the use of the
poor. He also left one hundred pounds for a bursary, or exhibition,
of five pounds per annum, to assist in educating a student at
Marischal college. An edition of his ‘Concordance’ was published
under the superintendence of Mr. Deodatus Bye in 1810, and in 1825
the work had reached the tenth edition. His works are:
Concordance to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament; to which
is added A Concordance to the books called Apocrypha. Lond. and Edin.
1736, 1738, 1761, 4to. 3d edition, with improvements. Lond. 1769,
of the Trial between him and Dr. Monro, Matthew Wright, &c., &c.
Lond, 1739, 8vo.
Citizen exceedingly injured; or, A British Inquisition Displayed.
Lond. 1739, 4to.
Adventures of Alexander the Corrector, by himself; in 3 parts. Lond.
Appendix to the Adventures of Alexander the Corrector. London, 1754,
the Corrector’s humble Petition to the House of Lords, and the Hon.
House of Commons; showing the necessity of appointing a Corrector of
the people. Lond. 1755, 8vo.
History of Richard Potter. 1763, 8vo.
of the History and Excellency of the Scriptures; prefixed to a
Compendium of the Holy Bible, 24mo.
Scripture Dictionary; or, Guide to the Holy Scriptures. Aberd. 2