The Scots Holding Their Young Kinges Nose To Ye Grinstone
~ Source unknown.
The Covenanters should have assumed that Charles II would not honor his agreement to uphold and support the National Covenant. He was a Stuart, and had been raised as an Anglican. And besides that, the agreement had been made by Charles under duress. The Covenanters were foolish to believe that he would actually honor and abide by any agreement he had made under pressure. He had been forced to leave his refuge in the Netherlands and then his mother’s home in France; he had nowhere to go. Of course, when the Covenanters offered to place him back on the throne of Scotland (and by extension, England and Ireland), he agreed to their demands. Any person in Charles’ situation would have agreed to anything.
For a time, Charles had played by the Covenanters’ rules, but as soon as he was crowned at Scone, he pushed the Covenanters aside and took charge of the army. There can be no doubt that Charles intended from the very beginning to rid Scotland of the Covenanters. Overt persecution began in the year 1660, the year Charles was restored to the throne for the second time.
King Charles II never again set foot in Scotland after the invasion of England and the Battle of Worcester. He ruled the country, as his father had, through a Privy Council located in Edinburgh, and directed by a Secretary of State in London. That Secretary was, initially, John Maitland, Earl of Lauderdale, the Covenanter turned Royalist. The reality of the situation was that it was Lauderdale, rather than Charles, who governed Scotland. He held the position of Scretary of State from 1661 until his death in 1680. Lauderdale had been one of the original Covenanters, and had helped to write the Solemn League and Covenant. He had joined with the Engagers who had fought for Charles I during the Second English Civil War.
Charles assumed the role of ‘head of the church’ and proceeded to return Scotland to pre-Covenanter times. He removed clerics from all secular positions of government with the exception of allowing two archbishops to hold seats on the Council of State. He restored the office and system of the bishops and the Episcopacy to handle the religious affairs of the country. He also reintroduced the Common Book Of Prayer. In 1661, Charles summoned a new Parliament of his own chosing - all good Royalists - which passed a resolution on 17 May stating that the Covenant should be publicly burned. On 30 May a resolution was passed by the Parliament declaring the Solemn League And Covenant to be illegal. In 1662 the Rescissory Act was enacted; it repealed all Acts passed since 1633.
In 1662 the Act of Uniformity was enacted, banishing all ministers who did not have a bishop’s license; they were ordered to resign their charges and receive them anew from the bishops. Over three hundred ministers (about one third of those practicing in Scotland) refused to do this, and were removed from their manses. (At the same time, over sixty Presbyterian ministers were removed from their churches in Ireland.) As a result, they began to preach in the open fields or in private homes at gatherings called conventicles. According to Brian Orr, Daniel Defoe, the author of the novel, Robinson Crusoe, witnessed a conventicle at Nithdale. Nearly seven thousand people came from as far as fifteen miles away to listen to a sermon that lasted almost seven hours.(
It was considered a capital offence, and therefore punishable by death, to conduct a conventicle. A reward of 500 merks was offered for the capture of a minister who was found conducting a conventicle. But despite the risk, the conventicles continued to be held.
The Privy Council directed troops to collect fines from the Covenanters who gathered in the conventicles. They were often met with armed resistance.
It was not only the ministers who were the target of the new laws prohibiting Presbyterianism from being preached. Attendance by the common man at the (now) Episcopal church on Sundays was declared compulsory. Fines to the amount of 40 shilling/Scots were imposed on anyone not attending. In Dumfries it was recorded that during 1662 John Gilchrist and John Coupland, burgesses, were each fined £360, while James Muirhead, a merchant in Dumfries, was fined £1000 for non-conformity. In that year alone, the amount of £164,200 was collected throughout Dumfries for violations to the compulsory church attendance law.