In Scotland in the 1640s, the Covenanters rejected rule by bishops, often signing manifestos using their own blood. Some wore red cloth around their neck to signify their position, and were called rednecks by the Scottish ruling class to denote that they were the rebels in what came to be known as The Bishop’s War that preceded the rise of Cromwell. Eventually, the term began to mean simply “Presbyterian”, especially in communities along the Scottish border. Because of the large number of Scottish immigrants in the pre-revolutionary American south, some historians have suggested that this may be the origin of the term in the United States.
Dictionaries document the earliest American citation of the term’s use for Presbyterians in 1830, as “a name bestowed upon the Presbyterians of Fayetteville [North Carolina]”.