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The Scottish Nation

CRUDEN, 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.

CRUDEN, ALEXANDER, 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.

      In 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.

      In 1782 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:

      A Complete 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, 4to. 1810.

      An Account of the Trial between him and Dr. Monro, Matthew Wright, &c., &c. Lond, 1739, 8vo.

      The London Citizen exceedingly injured; or, A British Inquisition Displayed. Lond. 1739, 4to.

      The Adventures of Alexander the Corrector, by himself; in 3 parts. Lond. 1754-5, 8vo.

      An Appendix to the Adventures of Alexander the Corrector. London, 1754, 8vo.

      Alexander 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.

      The History of Richard Potter. 1763, 8vo.

      An Account of the History and Excellency of the Scriptures; prefixed to a Compendium of the Holy Bible, 24mo.

      A Scripture Dictionary; or, Guide to the Holy Scriptures. Aberd. 2 vols. 4to.

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