is under tribute
To foreigners without justice
Above the right of taxation -
That is part of my sore plight
plundered by the English,
Despoiled, slain and murdered;
We must have caused our Father anger -
For we are neglected and poor.
the Children of Israel
In bondage to the King of Egypt,
We have the same standing:
They call us only Jock.
The Gaelic poet Iain Loms lament
on the state of Scotland after Cromwells conquest.
Following his conquest in 1651 Oliver Cromwell built massive fortifications
at places like Ayr, Inverness and Perth to keep Scotland under
control. He also imposed a single parliament which covered Scotland,
England and Ireland, although this was little more than a nod
in the direction of Scottish parliamentary representation as most
of the Scottish members were officers in Cromwells occupying
army. Almost universally, the Scots hated Cromwells occupation,
with very few actively participating with the regime. This tense
situation lasted until Cromwell died in 1659 and the regime crumbled
without his guidance. Within a year Charles II was restored to
the throne and Scotlands Parliament operating once more.
For radical Presbyterians like the Earl of Argyll and Archibald
Johnston of Wariston, who had reluctantly co-operated with the
Cromwellian regime, the Restoration sealed their fate at the end
of a rope. A counter revolution was set in motion. The Scottish
Parliament was restored, but under royal direction, and the Scottish
Kirk was to be kept firmly under the control of the monarchy.
The Presbyterian governance of the Church was abolished and bishops
were imposed on a largely Protestant lowland population. Thousands
of ordinary people refrained from going to church. Any ministers
who refused to renounce the ideals of the National Covenant of
1638, which had demanded a free parliament and a Presbyterian
Kirk, were purged from their parishes. Many took to the hills
across southern Scotland where they held illegal, often open-air,
services called conventicles - with the ministers preaching defiance
of the Government. Many of these preachers passed into the realm
of legend as the government ruthlessly hunted them down - one
such man being Alexander Peden, a covenanting
minister from Ayrshire, who preached in a mask and wig to disguise
his identity. Peden was outlawed in 1667 and imprisoned on Bass
Rock - an Alcatraz-like jailhouse in the Firth of Forth.
In 1678 the Government gave quarter to Highlanders
throughout the West of Scotland in an attempt to prevent a rising,
but only succeeded in reducing the area into chaos. In response
some radical Presbyterians assassinated Archbishop Sharp outside
St Andrews, whilst at Drumclog, an armed conventicle defeated
a force of government troops under John Graham of Claverhouse,
sparking a Presbyterian rising across the South and West of Scotland.
The rebellion was eventually quashed at the Battle of Bothwell
Brig in 1679 when 1200 covenanters were taken prisoner, many of
them being shipped to penal colonies in the West Indies for their
The government operated a carrot and stick policy. Moderate Presbyterian
ministers were given license to preach if they accepted the Kings
authority, whilst radical Presbyterians, who believed the King
had no right to interfere in the Kirk, were imprisoned, transported
or executed. Many Scots by now regarded these few remaining field
preachers and their followers as fanatics, and the
government operated a shoot to kill policy to crush their defiant
resistance. Government troops forced people to take an oath acknowledging
the King as supreme in matters of religion, and refusal was punishable
by execution on the spot.