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19 September 2014
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Restoration and Revolution

Charles II‘Scotland is under tribute
To foreigners without justice
Above the right of taxation -
That is part of my sore plight

We are plundered by the English,
Despoiled, slain and murdered;
We must have caused our Father anger -
For we are neglected and poor.

Like 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 Lom’s lament
on the state of Scotland after Cromwell’s conquest.

The Cromwellian Conquest 1651-60
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 Cromwell’s occupying army. Almost universally, the Scots hated Cromwell’s 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 Scotland’s Parliament operating once more.

The Restoration: Counter Revolution
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 Alexander Peden - Maskcovenanting 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.

The Presbyterian Rebellion
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 crimes.

The Killing Times
The government operated a carrot and stick policy. Moderate Presbyterian ministers were given license to preach if they accepted the King’s 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.


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