|Covenanters And Jacobites And Wars With England|
[Note: Inasmuch as the history of the Covananters and the Jacobites was the intimate history of the Scottish Highland clans, the two episodes will be discussed here in some depth. Additional information on the Covenanters and their role in the English Civil Wars and the Anglo-Scottish Wars will be found on the webpages ~ The History Of The Muirhead Clan.]
King Charles I was born a Scotsman in the year 1600. But he was raised in England. From the time that he was three years old, until he attained the age of thirty-three years, Charles was brought up learning the English, not Scottish, point of view. The affairs of Scotland were handled by a group of forty-seven Councillors to his father, James VI/I, who had gone south to administer the combined kingdoms from London. The subject of religion was, no doubt, a topic that the young prince would have been taught. And it would have been the English point of view of religion that he learned.
The ‘Church’ in England, at the beginning of the Seventeenth Century, was actually the Anglican (i.e. the English) Church, a branch of the Roman Catholic Church, but a branch that had broken off nearly a century earlier. The Anglican Church can trace its roots back to the 500s. In the Sixth Century, St. Augustine had been sent to Britain to bring about a more orthodox, or Apostolic, succession in the Celtic Christian church that had evolved there through the efforts of missionaries. St. Augustine’s interference only partly succeeded; the Celtic influence was too great to be overcome easily. During the next eleven centuries, the Anglican Church continued to evolve; it accepted much of the ritual of the Roman Catholic church, but also retained certain of its Celtic customs. There also evolved a series of disagreements with the degree of authority the Pope should possess over the affairs of the Anglican Church. Finally, in 1529, the long series of disagreements with the Papal authority came to a head, when King Henry VIII, in anger over the fact that the Pope refused to annul his marriage to Catherine (who could not provide him with a male heir), declared that he did not require the Pope’s permission any longer.
During the years leading into the Seventeenth Century, the spiritual needs of the majority of the people of Scotland were served by a number of faiths, primarily Catholic, but also including some of the new Protestant sects, such as Calvinistic Presbyterianism. Although not thought of as the ‘official’ religion, there was no denying that the Catholic Church wielded tremendous power. The Church owned large tracts of land and as such, controlled much of the wealth of the country. But the Protestant sects were gaining followers throughout the country, as the result of the Reformation that was spreading throughout Europe and into the Isles.
By the time Charles inherited the throne (1625), a Book of Common Prayer had been introduced in England (1549), and the books of the Bible had been codified and formally translated by a group of scholars under the direction of Charles’ father, King James (1611).
Also by the time Charles took his place on the throne, a new group of Protestants had emerged in England: the Puritans. Growing out of Calvanist theory as advocated by the theologian John Knox, the Puritans comprised a dour, serious sect who aimed to remove all ceremony from the church service that was not specifically noted in the Bible. It should be remembered that much of the ritual and dogma of Catholicism was established by early leaders of the Christian movement, and were not even mentioned by Christ and his disciples and apostles. The Puritans proposed abolishing many of the roles of the bishops in the Church, and replacing the episcopate (i.e. relating to the heirarchy of bishops in which successively higher ranking officials govern those below) with a presbyterian (i.e. relating to a collection of ministers of equal ranking) form of structure.
Charles came to the throne at a time when the Roman Catholic trappings of the Anglican Church was being questioned by many of the common citizens in both England and Scotland. The religious environment was not the most favorable one in which to attempt to thrust the Anglican Church down the throats of the people. But Charles had been away from Scotland all of his life, and knew practically nothing of the widespread support for the Presbyterian faith. So what did he do? He started his reign by issuing the Act of Revocation in 1625, which restored to the Church the lands and tithes that had been distributed to the nobles during the Reformation. He demanded, in 1629, that the religious practice in Scotland was to conform to the English model. He then chose to hold his coronation in St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1633. He was well on his way to becoming very unpopular with almost every faction in Scotland. The finale came in 1637 with the publishing of the Revised Prayer Book for Scotland.
The opponents to the new Prayer Book formed an organization known as The Tables during the autumn and winter of 1637/38. (The name, Tables, was the name used alternately for ‘committees.’) The Tables included such notables as James Graham, fifth Earl of Montrose; the Earl of Rothes; Archibald Campbell, the eighth Earl of Argyll and Chief of Clan Campbell; the lawyer, Lord Warriston; and the minister, Alexander Henderson of Leuchars. The response of the king was to issue a proclamation calling for the nobles who were opposing the Prayer Book to give themselves up to the authorities. The proclamation was issued in late February, 1638, and resulted in the expected response of riots and demonstrations. The Tables called on the nobility of Scotland to come to Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh. Through 28 February and the 1st and 2nd of March, hundreds of the nobility and gentry made their way to Greyfriars Kirk where, in the graveyard adjacent to the church edifice, they signed a document that had been written by Lord Warriston, Henderson and a few others.v
Known as the National Covenant, the document proclaimed the marriage of the nation with God. It condemned many Catholic doctrines by incorporating the 1581 Negative Confession and a collection of Acts which had confirmed that document. The Tables did not want to instigate a war against Charles, they simply wanted to express their belief that he had erred somewhat. To that end, the document ended with a pledge to maintain the ‘true religion’ and ‘His Majesty’s authority.’
The hundreds of Scotsmen who signed the National Covenant were labeled Covenanters, and were viewed by their kinsmen as patriots in the struggle to establish Scotland’s independence from England. As the Covenant was copied and spread throughout the country, more and more Scotsmen signed the document.
By the summer of 1638, the de facto government of Scotland resided in the Tables, with the National Covenant as the nation’s ‘declaration of independence.’ The coastal towns and cities saw an increase in the importation of arms and amunition from abroad. And Scottish soldiers serving elsewhere were returning home in large numbers. An open confrontation appeared inevitable.
In November, 1638 the King allowed the Scottish General Assembly to convene at Glasgow. The Assembly lost no time in enacting a number of laws to counteract the king’s actions. The Prayer Book was condemned as “heathenish, Popish, Jewish and Arminian” and was promptly abolished. The bishops were all either deposed or excommunicated. A Commission was set up to explore abuses. Charles responded by proclaiming that all of the Assembly’s decisions were invalid because his own Commissioner to the Assembly had been absent from the proceedings.
Hostilities began in February, 1639 when a band of Covenanters attacked and claimed the city of Aberdeen. About the same time, the Campbells of Argyll, supporting the National Covenant, attacked clan Macdonald, who were Catholics.
Charles led an army of nearly twenty thousand men northward during the spring of 1639. He met a Scottish force that was better trained and disciplined than his own at Berwick. The Scottish army was commanded by General Alexander Leslie. The so-called First Bishop’s War was settled without a fight by the King agreeing to allow another General Assembly of the Scottish Parliament to be held. He also agreed to an Assembly of the Church.
The Scottish Parliament, in session before the Assembly of the Church, began with ratifying the acts of the previous General Assembly, but they were not satisfied with simply reenacting that which had already been enacted. They went so far as to completely abolish the episcopacy and to demand that all Scots pledge their allegiance to the Covenant. A Triennial Act ensured that the Parliament would meet every three years, with or without the King’s blessing. Another act stated that all public officials would be appointed by the Parliament rather than by the King. The Committee of Articles, which had been created by King James IV as a means by which the King could control the Scottish Parliament, was declared void. In effect, the acts passed by the Parliament in this second General Assembly declared Scotland free from the royal government of England.
Leslie and his army of Covenanters pushed southward across the River Tweed during the summer of 1640. They easily defeated Charles’ army near Newburn and then marched into Newcastle-upon-Tyne in what was called the Second Bishop's War. The terms Leslie gave to Charles, to which he readily agreed, was that the Scottish army be paid for its upkeep; in effect the payment was a tribute. Charles returned south to summon the English Parliament to request the raising of funds for that purpose.
The new regime in power, the Scottish Parliament under the guidance of Archibald Campbell, the Earl of Argyll, was not necessarily well liked throughout Scotland. As is the case with any revolution, there were many Scots who did not wish to drop their allegiance to King Charles. There were the Anglicans who opposed the Covenant from the beginning. And then there were factions which simply opposed the leadership of the Earl of Argyll. One of those factions would be headed by the Earl of Montrose.
In August of 1640, eighteen noblemen met at Cumbernauld to form the Cumbernauld Bond, with the Earl of Montrose at their head. This group felt that the Earl of Argyll was using the Parliament for his own benefit. The Covenanters army under Leslie was staunchly in support of the Scottish Parliament and did not see Argyll as an opponent, so for the time being, Montrose and the other members of the Cumbernauld Bond had no hope of taking control. (Montrose would, in 1644, part completely with Argyll and cross over in support of Charles.)
King Charles responded to the defeat of his army in the Second Bishop’s War by calling into session the English Parliament, which had not met for some ten years. It was a fatal decision. The members of the English Parliament were in no more agreement with the King’s policies than their Scottish neighbors. The King’s ineptitude at governing, his sympathy toward the Roman Catholic Church and his severe anti-Puritan measures, coupled with complete irresponsibility in handling the nation’s finances did nothing to endear him to the Parliament. The initial result would be the outbreak of the First English Civil War; the ultimate result would be the death of Charles and the establishment of the Protectorate Government of Oliver Cromwell.
The King’s Royalist forces won a string of victories, and by the summer of 1643 the English Parliament was looking for relief. Overtures were made to their Scottish counterparts, and in the autumn of that year, the two assemblies signed an agreement known as the Solemn League and Covenant.
The institution of the Solemn League and Covenant called for the Scottish Covenanter Army to attack the Royalist forces from the north in return for £30,000 per month and the promise for a reformation of the religious practices in both England and Ireland in conformity with the Scottish National Covenant.
The English Parliament had established an army, the Eastern Association Army (to which Oliver Cromwell’s independent army, known as the New Model Army, had been previously been attached), with Edward Montagu, Second Earl of Manchester at its head. A detachment of the Scottish Covenanter Army, in early 1644, under the command of David Leslie (a nephew of Alexander) crossed the Tweed, and joined forces with the Eastern Association Army under Manchester. The Scottish army comprised a force numbering about twenty-six thousand men. They set out to lay seige to the city of York, where a Royalist army was known to be stationed. The Royalist Army under Prince Rupert headed to York’s relief, and the two armies met at Marston Moor on 2 July, 1644. The Royalist Army was defeated, and Cromwell was lauded as the decisive element in effecting the victory for the joint Parliament and Scottish force.
The Scottish Parliament, while it should have been joyful with the victory over the Royalists at Marston Moor, was displeased that it had been accomplished by Cromwell, a Puritan. The Presbyterian Covenanters considered the Puritans to be a threat to the Covenant, and Cromwell was a very vocal advocate of his faith. But there was no denying the fact that the success of the Parliamentary army was primarily due to the tactical skills of Oliver Cromwell. Manchester appears to have been simply a figurehead for the leadership of the army.
The Battle of Marston Moor was the pivotal event that convinced James Graham, Earl of Montrose, to defect from the side of the Scottish Covenanters and raise an army in support of King Charles. During the summer of 1644, Montrose traveled through the Highlands calling on the Highland clansmen to form an army. His army eventually came to include many Highlanders, some Scottish expatriates from Ireland, a group of mercenaries and a few Royalist lairds from the Lowlands.
With his army of less than two thousand men, Montrose captured the city of Dumfries. But that was the only notable event for the new Royalist army until it was joined by a group of Irish soldiers.
The Irish soldiers who would come to join with Montrose’s army were Irish Catholics led by Alasdair MacColla MacDonald, of Clan Donald. Alasdair was the son of MacDonald of Colonsay, a kinsman of the Earl of Antrim. The two thousand troops he brought with him from Ireland were battle-hardened and well armed. They landed at Ardnamurchan in June and were soon joined by nearly a thousand Hughlanders. Bearing age-old grudges against the Clan Campbell, Alasdair lost no time in thundering through the Campbell lands of Argyll, looting and destroying as they went. At Blair Atholl, in August, Alasdair and Montrose crossed paths and the two hit it off immediately, joining forces as a formidable Royalist army.
On 01 September, Montrose attacked an army of Covenanters under the command of David Wemyss, Lord Elcho near the town of Tippermuir, west of Perth. Although the Covenanter army of Lord Elcho outnumbered the Royalists, Alasdair had trained his Irishmen and their new Highland compatriots the battle tactic of the ‘Highland Charge.’ In the Highland Charge, the infantry, armed with muskets, would advance to within a hundred yards of the enemy. They would fire a single volley, and then drop the weapons to the ground and charge forward with their broadswords drawn.
The Covenanters were defeated at Tippermuir, and Montrose continued on to Aberdeen, which his army sacked. The Irishmen and Highlanders killed, raped and looted the townsfolks in an orgy that lasted three days.
Montrose then turned westward and marched through the lands traditionally held by the Campbells, and home of Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll. The army was augmented by clansmen from the Macleans and the Macdonalds, who were probably more interested in settling old scores with the Campbells than in assisting the Royalist Cause. Montrose arrived on Argyll’s castle at Inveraray with such speed and surprise that the Earl was startled at his dinner table, and only barely escaped by boat across Loch Fyne. In February, 1645, after an arduous march through heavy snows, Montrose and his army arrived at Inverlochy, where he again routed the Campbells and the Earl of Argyll along with his Covenanter supporters. Montrose chased Argyll through Lorn, Glencow and Lochaber and on to the shores of Loch Ness. In March, he attacked the city of Dundee, succeeding in breaching the stone walls of that town. In May, Montrose scored another victory over the Covenanters near the Moray Firth at Auldearn, and then in July, he again routed them at Alford, near Aberdeen. By August, 1645 the independent Royalist army under Montrose had defeated a Covenanter army at Kilsyth and had occupied the city of Glasgow. Montrose had believed that he would be able to gain supporters in the Lowlands, but things were not destined to work out that way. And then, in September, Montrose’s winning streak came to an end.
The First English Civil War effectively came to an end on 20 June, 1646 when the New Model Army was informed of the surrender of the King’s army headquartered at Oxford. But when they arrived for him, they found that Charles had slipped away under a disguise. Charles traveled northward and appeared at Leslie’s encampment near Newark. He requested their backing now, professing to have always had a special love for his native Scotland. The Covenanters had no special love for Charles. That, and the fact that one of the conditions the Scots set for giving the King refuge was that Montrose would disband his army worked against the King. Montrose was not operating under the directions of the Royalists, so the negotiations came to nothing for the King. Leslie withdrew his army away from Newark leaving Charles to fend for himself against the English Parliamentary forces.
As it turned out, the King was handed over as a captive (or rather, sold) to his English enemies by the Scots, who felt they would never be able to convince him of their right to practice Presbyterianism.
Charles, always the schemer, made his escape from where he was essentially under house arrest at Hampton Court in November of 1647. The King reached the Isle of Wight, where he was once more taken into custody. On 27 December, while being held in Carisbrook Castle on the Isle of Wight, Charles was visited by, and negotiated an agreement with, representatives of the conservative wing of the Scottish Parliament. The agreement was called the Engagement, by which Charles agreed to establish Presbyterianism throughout England for a three year trial period. He also agreed to disband the English army. The Scots who were party to this agreement became known as the Engagers. Fearing a replay of his deceits, the Engagement was not accepted by all of the General Assembly, and therefore came to nothing. But it should also be remembered that the King really had no power by this time. The real power lay in the hands of the army and Oliver Cromwell. The majority of the members of the Scottish Parliament realized that the Solemn League and Covenant was meaningless in view of the fact that Cromwell was a devout Puritan, and the army followed his example.
The English Parliament also attempted to gain the acquiescence of the King to a peaceful compromise while he was on the Isle of Wight. They sent a delegation with the promise of liberation for the King if he would agree to four things: 1.) The investing of the militia in the two houses of Parliament. 2.) The revoking of all proclamations and declarations against the Parliament. 3.) The voiding of all titles of honour that he had conferred since his leaving the Parliament, and the coincident avoiding of granting titles of honour unless agreed to by the Parliament. 4.) The power of both houses of the Parliament to sit and adjourn as they saw fit.
The King refused to sign the four bills and his refusal was duly debated in a session of the English Parliament. The discussion became quite heated and it was then that talk of removing the King from his throne first surfaced.
Word spread of a number of plots to free the monarch from his imprisonment on the Isle of Wight. It was in the midst of this fervor that Charles II, Duke of York, escaped to safety on the Continent.
In the end, Charles was not liberated. He was taken back to London to await his fate. The Parliament established a High Court Of Justice consisting of one hundred and thirty-five members of the Parliament, army officers and citizens. About fifty of those named to the court refused to participate in it. King Charles was brought to St. James to await the trial. The Scottish Parliament send a group of commissioners to protest against the trial.
The trial against the King commenced on Saturday, the 20th of January, 1649. The charge that was brought up against the King was that: “he had endeavour’d to set up a tyrannical power, and to that end had rais’d and maintain’d in the land a cruel war against the parliament; whereby the country had been miserably wasted, the publick treasure exhausted, thousands of people had lost their lives, and innumerable other mischiefs committed..”
The King was asked to enter a plea, but he refused to plead either guilty or not guilty. He was brought again to the court on Monday, the 22nd, but he refused again to enter a plea. He did the same thing on the following day.
On 30 January, 1649, at about ten o’clock in the morning, the King was led to a scaffold in the courtyard of White-hall. He kneeled down and placed his head on the block, and with a single blow, the executioner severed his head from his body. In the blink of an eye, Charles Stuart was transformed from a tyrant into a martyr.
Word reached Edinburgh on the 5th of February that the King had been beheaded; the Scottish Parliament lost no time in proclaiming Charles II as the new King.
The Scottish people were horrified that the English had put Charles Stuart to death. Even though Charles had been the English king, he was also the Scottish king, and many of those in Scotland wondered by what right the English could take the life of their mutual king without Scottish consent. It could be said that the ax which severed the head from Charles Stuart’s body severed the ties between Scotland and England.
Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, still the nominal leader of the Scottish Covenanters, the Kirk, now being at odds with the English Parliament, made contact with the eighteen year old, Prince Charles. The Scots were not prepared for such a drastic change as to have their traditional form of government, the monarchy, replaced by another form. They wanted to have a king at the head of their government, albeit a king who was not Roman Catholic. The Prince’s religious affiliation did not matter to the Kirk; they would insist that he convert if he wanted to claim his kingdom.
Initially, Charles II had been given refuge at the Hague in the Netherlands. But when a group of men murdered Dr. Dorislaus in that city because he had been involved in the late King’s trial, the authorities asked the Prince to leave the country. They did not wish to become embroiled in another war with the English over harboring the Prince. He left the Netherlands and went to France to reside with his mother, the queen. Before long, though, the court of France asked the Prince to leave that country. In search of a refuge, the young heir to the throne of England and Scotland decided to go to the Isle of Jersey, which had remained uninvolved in the English Civil Wars.
During the time that Charles II spent on the Isle of Jersey, the Scottish commissioners spent time indoctrinating him on the nature of the government to which he would be returning.
On 24 June, 1650, the Skidam, the ship on which Charles II was being transported to Scotland, landed at the small fishing village of Garmouth at the mouth of the River Spey. Before he could disembark, Charles was required to sign the Covenant. The voyage across the channel had taken nearly two weeks, due to bad weather, and during that time, Argyll’s commissioners continued indoctrinating the young King on the Covenant and his role in upholding it now that he was to take the throne.
While the Scots were wooing the heir apparent to the throne, on the 24th of June, a committee of the Council of State was meeting in England. Consisting of Oliver Cromwell, John Lambert, Thomas Harrison, Oliver St. John and Thomas Lord Fairfax. The committee was discussing Lord Fairfax’s decision not to lead the English army. Some six weeks prior to this meeting, the Council of State had planned an invasion of Scotland in response to the Scottish declaration of Charles II as king. The English had assumed that once Charles II was on Scottish soil, Argyll would direct an invasion southward to physically claim the throne. They needed to strike first to prevent that from happening.
Thomas Lord Fairfax held the position of commander-in-chief of the armed forces. To this point, Cromwell was, of course, the leader of the New Model Army, but he had hitherto acted only upon Fairfax’s bidding. And now, with the Council of State waiting for the army to move northward, Fairfax hesitated. Apparently, he did not view the unfolding events as a threat of a Scottish invasion.
Cromwell pointed out that the Scots were “very buƒy at this preƒent in raiƒing forces and money.” The Scots were raising an army of 13,400 foot soldiers and 5,440 cavalry. If it were not to make war upon the English, then what could it be for?, he argued. Eventually, through the course of the meeting, Fairfax resigned his commission. The position of Lord General (i.e. commander-in-chief) of all the armed forces in the Commonwealth was offered to Oliver Cromwell. Cromwell accepted the offer and received the appointment by the Parliament on 26 June, 1650.
On 29 June, 1650, the English army under the command of Oliver Cromwell began their march northward. Rumors spread throughout Scotland that the English army intended to destroy everything and everyone in its path.
Cromwell issued a declaration stating that the English army had no intention of causing inhuman harm to the people of Scotland. He reminded them that only a couple years previous, the same army had come into Scotland at the bidding of the Scottish Parliament, and had done no harm to the people. There was no reason for them to assume that this time would be any different. Only those persons, who by their conduct of inciting the restoration of the Stuart monarchy, who had laid the foundation for the invasion, would be in any danger.
Over the next two years, Cromwell’s New Model Army engaged the Scots in what was to become known as the Anglo-Scottish War of 1650-1652. The Parliamentary forces from England were intent on preventing the Scots from establishing Charles II as their new king. From Dunbar to Worcester, the two countries both suffered large numbers of casualties.
Five distinct groups, which were linked to basic geographic divisions of the country, could be seen to emerge following the Scots’ defeat at Dunbar.
The Northern Highlands were primarily Royalist. The clans which held sway in the Highlands had supported Charles I, and continued their support of his son.
The center and northeast region, which included Stirling and Fife, was held by the Kirk, the extremist Covenanter faction which, by the Whiggamore Raid under the direction of Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, had come into power in 1648. The Kirk Covenanters still controlled the Scots Parliament, the General Assembly and the Committee of Estates.
The region south of Edinburgh, and bordering on England, which had been captured early on by Cromwell, consisted primarily of sympathizers to the English Parliament. As the English army moved northward, the Scots who opposed them also moved northward out of this region.
The west was under the control of the Western Association Remonstrants. A large number of Covenanters from the western shires of Argyll, Ayr, Bute, Dunbarton, Kirkcudbright. Lanark, Renfrew and Wigtown had formed the Western Association in 1648 to oppose the Engagers. Originally led by Archibald Campbell, Earl of Argyll, the Association consisted of men who felt that the Engagers were selling Scotland to the King, and therefore needed to be removed from power. The ousting of the conservative Engagers took place in the event known as the Whiggamore Raid. The faction led by Argyll that came into power, as noted above, comprised the basis for the political entity known as the Kirk. But there were some members of the Kirk who were adamant in their desire that Scotland be a purely Presbyterian nation; it was they who now re-activated the Western Association. It should be noted, though, that the Earl of Argyll’s native shire of Argyll, along with that of Bute and Dunbarton, which had participated in the Western Association in its first incarnation, refused to join with the others this time around. Perhaps Argyll found the new Western Association too extreme for his liking, or perhaps he saw it as a threat to his own personal ambitions.
The southwest was controlled by the conservative Covenanters who advocated adhering to the resolutions passed by the Committee of Estates and the Kirk, and were therefore known as the Resolutioners. They wanted to continue on the course that had been set on 30 January, 1649 with the execution of their beloved King by the English regicides. The extreme nature of the Remonstrants unwittingly forced many undecided Covenanters toward the side of the Resolutioners and more of the Resolutioners to embrace the Royalist ideals.
On the first day of the new year 1651, Charles Stuart II was crowned king at Scone. The crown was placed on his head by Argyll. Then, following his coronation as King Charles II, his majesty traveled to Aberdeen where he set up his standard and recruited troops. He then moved on to Stirling. He named Duke Hamilton as his Lieutenant-General, David Leslie as his Major-General, Middleton as the Major-General of the cavalry and Massey as the general of the Royalist English troops serving with the Scottish army.
The King started his reign by visiting all the garrisons located throughout Fife. To them he reassigned as many troops from Stirling as could be safely spared. He then traveled through the Highlands and attempted to quell some of the inter-clan disagreements so that the Highlanders would work together in his support. His efforts were largely successful; the town of Dundee alone raised a regiment of horse, equipped with six cannon. The King’s army rose to approximately twenty thousand men.
At the start of the year 1651, the Lord-General Cromwell set his attention on the region of Fife. King Charles responded to the invasion of Fife by sending four thousand men under Major General Sir John Brown and Major General James Holborne of Menstrie to repel the invaders. In the meantime, the English generals, Lambert and Okey crossed the Forth with two regiments each of foot and horse troops. The two armies engaged each other at Inverkeithing.
Lambert positioned his infantry troops on the slope of the Ferryhills, opposite the Scots. Then he directed his cavalry to ride against the Scottish lines, but to feign a retreat, in order to goad the Scots into attacking. The Scots took the bait and charged across the valley toward the English infantry. The English cavalry, in a decisive move, turned and fell on the charging Scots. Despite a somewhat lengthy skirmish, when the two armies made contact, the actual battle lasted only about fifteen minutes.
The battle of Inverkeithing was a disaster for a number of the Highland clans. Nearly two thousand Scotsmen died in the battle. Some seven hundred and sixty clansmen of Clan Maclean, including two sons of Maclean of Ardgour, were among the slain. They had stood firmly under the banner of Hector Maclean of Duart. Only forty of the Macleans survived. Seven hundred of the Buchanans died where they stood. One of the reasons for the slaughter was that when the actual fight began, General Holborne fled, taking with him most of the cavalry; Seeing Holborne retreating, Brown, likewise pulled his cavalry troops out. The infantry troops were left unprotected by the cavalry.
Lambert did not allow the Scots under Holborne and Brown get away, though. He pursued the Scots for roughly six miles with his own cavalry. In the chase, some two thousand Scotsmen were killed and fourteen hundred were taken prisoner. Less than one thousand of the Scottish troops made it back safely to Stirling.
Cromwell had the bulk of the English army in Fife. King Charles knew that if he were now to invade England, there would be a beneficial distance between his and Cromwell’s army. Despite the protests of Argyll, Charles got his army in motion in what would be known as ‘the Start’ on 31 July, 1651, heading southward through Lanark and passing into Lancashire by way of Carlisle. The King’s army of sixteen hundred men marched into England on 05 August. The next day, on English soil, Charles had himself crowned King of England.
At each town that the Scottish army passed through, the people cheered on the King and proclaimed him king of England, Scotland, France and Ireland. It would have appeared that the size of Charles’ army would have been increasing by leaps and bounds by English royalists. But that was not the case. The Scots were continually deserting the army and heading back to their homes. And though the townspeople expressed their allegiance to the King, there were few who were willing to join his army. Also, as John Grainger noted in his history of the Anglo-Scottish War, “Some of the English Royalists argued that it was a mistake for the king to lead an invasion of his own kingdom at the head of a foreign army.”
At Warrington, on the border of Cheshire, the King’s army was momentarily halted by Lambert’s English army, who held a bridge on the Mersey River, over which the Scots had to pass. After a brief skirmish, the Scots were victorious and they moved on toward Worcester, near the Welsh border. The people of Worcester were decidedly Royalist; it had been the last city to fall to the Parliamentary forces in 1646. Prior to the arrival of Charles, the townsfolk drove out the English garrison guarding the town. The leader of the garrison of roughly five hundred troops had barred the gates against the arrival of the King and his Scottish army, but the Common Council of the city objected. And when the garrison ventured out to badger the arriving Scots, the townsfolk rose up and tormented them till they moved away from the city. Perhaps this action was more the desire to avoid having a battle fought in their midst than to welcome the King and his Scottish army. In any case, on 23 August, 1651 the Scottish army entered the city. There Charles II resolved to wait for Cromwell, and accordingly set his troops to establishing defences.
At Worcester, just one year after the Scottish defeat at Dunbar, the 3rd of September, the Scottish army was again defeated with a great loss of life. It is believed that upwards of between two and four thousand Scots were killed. The number of Scots taken as prisoner by Cromwell’s army was listed as nearly ten thousand. The King, himself, escaped capture and fled through England in disguise; he would eventually gain passage to Diepe in France, where he would wait until after Cromwell’s death in 1658. Also captured by the English were all the Scottish artillery, baggage and one hundred and fifty-eight colours, including the King’s standard. The English lost only two hundred, according to most estimates.
For nine years, following the defeat of the Scots at Worcester, Oliver Cromwell ruled the ‘Commonwealth’ of England, Scotland and Ireland under the title of Lord Protector. It was a time of relative peace and prosperity following the Anglo-Scottish War.
Cromwell established a system of military government throughout the Isles. In the major towns he placed English garrisons to ensure order. In Scotland, an army of between ten and eighteen thousand men garrisoned four startegically located fortifications, from which they patrolled. Law and order was maintained, despite the occasional uprisings by the Highlanders.
In December of 1651 the country of Scotland was formally merged with England when the English Parliament passed a bill incorporating it as part of the ‘Commonwealth of England.’ The act of merging of the countries was the so-called Tender Of Union; it was proclaimed throughout the land on 04 February, 1652.
A formal Act of Union was enacted in April, 1654 between England and Scotland. In May, 1655 a Council of State for Scotland was constituted. According to Fitzroy Maclean in his book, A Concise History Of Scotland: “The resulting regime was probably the most efficient and orderly the country had ever experienced.” Stewart Ross in his book, Monarchs Of Scotland, expressed much the same sentiment when he stated: “When the Cromwellian union came to an end not a few Scots were sorry at its passing, for it had brought efficient, tolerant government.”
Cromwell died on 3 September, 1658; his son, Richard was named as his successor. Unfortunately, Richard Cromwell was not the leader that his father had been. In 1660, Charles Stuart II was ‘restored’ to the throne.
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.
The Anglo-Dutch War broke out in 1665, and Covenanters in the southwestern Scottish region of Lanarkshire, to the south of the Pentland Hills, saw a chance to attempt a Presbyterian takeover of the government. Men from the southwest rose up and marched on Edinburgh in 1666. They received little sympathy and support from the rest of Scotland. The so-called ‘Pentland Rising’ started on 13 November, 1666 in the village of St. John’s Town in Galloway with the beating up of an elderly farmer named Grier by government troops for his failing to pay a fine for not attending church. Seeing this as they were passing by, four Covenanters led by MacLellan of Barscobe, went to the farmer’s rescue. After overpowering the government troops, the Covenanters headed to the nearby village of Balmaclellan; a conventicle was underway there. They told of their encounter and succeeded in inciting a large group of nearly three thousand men to march on the city of Dumfries where the government troops were headquartered. The commander of the government troops, Sir James Turner was taken captive. The rabble became more of an organized body under the leadership of Colonel James Wallace of Auchens, and they next headed for Edinburgh. They planned on presenting a petition to the Privy Council, and like the Whiggamore Raid in 1648, to achieve a takeover of the current government.
The weather was bad, and the march was long and difficult. Many of the Covenanters dropped out along the way. The number of Covenanters who eventually reached Edinburgh was no more than eleven hundred. They arrived at Colinton, a suburb of sorts of of Edinburgh, and were met by a body of troops known as the Edinburgh Fencibles. The meeting between the two groups was peaceful enough, but the Covenanters were refused permission to enter the city to present their petition to the Privy Council. They turned back and headed toward the west across the Pentland Hills, arriving at a village named Rullion Green, about eight miles to the south of Edinburgh. There they would encounter a body of government troops sent out to intercept them.
On 28 November, 1666 the government troops under General Tam Dalyell (variously, Dalziel, of the Binns) launched an attack on the Covenanters at Rullion Green. Dalyell’s force numbered twenty-five hundred foot soldiers and six troops of cavalry. The government troops charged into the line of Covenanters a number of times. The Covenanters valiantly stood their ground. But they eventually had to give way. Fifty of the Covenanters lay dead on the field of Rullion Green and between eighty and one hundred were taken prisoner. The rest succeeded in escaping slaughter or capture due to the gathering darkness. General Dalyell had promised the Covenanters quarter if they would end the fight and surrender. They believed him, but those who were taken captive soon discovered that the government did not intend to honor the General’s promise. They were forced into ‘Haddo’s Hole’ in St. Giles’ Cathedral where a number of them had their feet and lower legs crushed in the infamous instrument of torture, the ‘Boot’. Twenty-one or twenty-two of the prisoners were hung, ten in Edinburgh, and eleven or twelve in towns throughout Ayrshire: at Dumfries, Irvine and Ayr itself to set an example for others.
The government’s treatment of the Covenanters at Rullion Green resulted in a great embarrassment to the King and his council. The Earl of Lauderdale quickly issued Accomodation Licences, a sort of statement of amnesty to any Covenanting ministers who would simply agree to adhere to non-violence.
The First Declaration of Indulgence was passed in June, 1669. The Declaration extended tolerance to the Presbyterian Covenanters, but it also extended tolerance to Catholics. While the Declaration may have been intended by the King to offer some relief, like the Accomodation Licences, it simply split the Covenanters into two opposing factions: those who had ‘indulged’ and those who had ‘not indulged’ in accepting the morsel of ‘tolerance’ that the King was offering.
The Accomodation Licenses and the First Declaration of Indulgence did not accomplish their desired effects, and so the government once more decided to resort to the opposite approach. In 1670 the conventicles were banned and the death penalty proscribed for any ministers caught preaching at them.
In 1673 the Second Declaration of Indulgence was enacted by the King. It relaxed the laws against the conventicles once again. It would seem that the Declarations were probably less intended as a relief to the Covenanters as a means to lure some of the more moderate proponents of Presbyterianism to side with the government. The result, in the end was to alienate the more radical Covenanters even more, and they reacted by protesting.
The government’s response to the protests was to enact even stricter laws against the conventicles. This time the King sent government troops, the Highland Host, to maintain order. They occupied Ayrshire and the surrounding region of southwest Scotland and were billetted among the people. The billetting of the soldiers in the homes of the residents angered them, just as it would in America nearly one hundred years later.
Another rising took place in Galloway in 1679. It was sparked by the killing of Archbishop James Sharp of St. Andrews. Sharp was a confirmed episcopalian who had once been a moderate Resolutioner. He had been captured, along with other ministers, in 1651 in the raid on Alyth, during the final conquest of Scotland by General Monck. Sharp had been taken prisoner to London. But he was released only after a few months, at which time he returned to Scotland as an intermediary between the Kirk and Oliver Cromwell. The Covenenaters viewed Sharp as a kind of Judas who was betraying the true goals of Presbyterianism for personal gloray and gain. To say the least, he was very much hated by many of the Covenanters.
On the afternoon of 3 May, 1679 Sharp was returning from a meeting of the Privy Council in Edinburgh. He travelled through the moorland of Magus Muir to his home in St. Andrews along with his daughter, Isabel. After passing through the village of Magus, a group of a dozen Covenanters caught sight of his coach and set out in pursuit. The group, which included John Balfour, Laird of Kinloch, and his brother-in-law, David Hackston of Rathillet, had actually been lying in wait for the Sheriff of Fife, William Carmichael, who was in charge of the troops in Fife who were suppressing the conventicles in that region. So it was quite by accident that the Archbishop rode into the midst of a group of Covenanters intent on murder.
The murder of the Archbishop came about swiftly. When the coachman realized his coach was being followed by the group, he whipped the horses and tried to outrun them. They caught up with the coach and slashed the harnesses of the horses, effectively bringing the coach to a stop. The coachman and four other servants were quickly disarmed. Sharp and his daughter were violently dragged from the coach, he being stabbed in the kidneys as he was pulled out, and Isabel being held to watch her father’s impending murder. The Archbishop, on his knees, begged for mercy, but his pleas were answered by sword cuts to his arms and head until he fell over dead. The group of murderous Covenanters rifled through the coach and Sharp’s baggage, and then rode off unaware that they had just started a series of events which would culminate in the Killing Time.
Archbishop Sharp’s murderers fled to the west, where they were given refuge by a militant band of Covenanters led by Sir Robert Hamilton. On 29 May (the King’s birthday), Hamilton led a party of eighty into the royal burgh of Rutherglen. They proceeded to burn copies the oppressive Acts of Parliament and then nailed a Declaration And Testimony to the Mercat Cross (i.e. the ‘market cross’). The Declaration listed all the violations of the National Covenant during the previous twenty years.
A body of government troops that had been sent north from Dumfriesshire on a routine tour of duty to patrol the region of Ayrshire were informed about Hamilton’s activities. They set off in pursuit, but Hamilton’s group escaped capture. Despite their failure to capture Hamilton and his band, the government troops were informed of a conventicle which was assembling on Loudoun Hill near the village of Darvel in Ayrshire, near the Ayrshire and Lanarkshire border, and so they set off to disrupt the Covenanters’ meeting. On the 1st of June, 1679, a very large number of Covenanters, men, women and children, estimated in the several thousands, were congregating. The minister received a warning of the approach of the government troops under General John Graham of Claverhouse, and he directed the women, children and very old to withdraw from the place. The men in the congregation, numbering perhaps fifteen hundred, gathered their swords and other weapons and prepared to greet the government troops. On the boggy moor at the base of Loudoun Hill, known as Drumclog Moor, the Covenanters, under the leadership of William Cleland, a divinity student, formed a line behind the natural defenses of a ditch and a peat marsh.
Claverhouse realized that the Covenanters outnumbered his troops nearly four to one. He also realized that a cavalry charge, though preferable to disperse the crowd, would be impossible over the marshy terrain. The dragoons were ordered to dismount. Then, forming a line opposite the Covenanters, they began to march forward. The Covenanters started to sing psalms as they returned the Dragoons’ musketfire. The Covenanters could not wait for the government troops to arrive across the moor, and instead rose up from the ditch and started toward the Dragoons. A fight at close quarters ensued. At some point in the battle, the horse on which Claverhouse rode was slashed in the stomach. The horse bolted and the dragoons thinking that their leader was signalling a retreat, followed. Claverhouse attempted to restore order to his troops, but it was too late. They were routed by the Covenanters, and fled through the streets of Strathaven, all the way being pelted with rocks and refuse by the townspeople. Thirty-six of the government troops lay dead on the field.
The Covenanters followed the retreating government troops to Glasgow, but barricades were quickly constructed. As the Covenanters charged up the Gallowgate, they were raked with musketfire. Although they would have to give up the pursuit, the Covenanters could bask in the glory of having won the battle at Drumclog.
The King’s government was taken aback by the turn of events at Drumclog. They gathered together a new army to subdue the Covenanters, and placed at its head, General James Scott, Duke of Buccleugh and Monmouth, the King’s illegitimate son.
The Covenanters sent out word for recruits to their army and established an encampment at Bothwell Bridge, which spanned the River Clyde just to the north of the village of Hamilton. Over the next three weeks more and more Covenanters flocked to Bothwell Bridge. Unfortunately, the time they were there was not spent in organizing and training for the eventual clash with the government troops. Instead, the different factions of Covenanters spent the time arguing and bickering. There were extremists, such as the fledgling ‘Cameronians’ who advocated nothing less than complete adherence to the Solemn League and Covenant. There were the ‘Indulgers’ led by the Reverend John Welch, who advocated accepting those ministers who had ‘indulged’, and who believed in working with the King’s government in order to reach a compromise. Then there were those who followed the Reverend John Blackadder of Troqueer, who advocated passive resistance.
Monmouth’s troops clashed with the Covenanters in the Battle of Bothwell Bridge on 22 June 1679. Monmouth’s two thousand troops arrived on the north bank of the river and faced nearly five thousand Covenanters who held the bridge, the only way to pass across the river. Three hundred of the best Covenanters defended a barricade set up at the portal that occupied the middle of the bridge. They were commanded by Hackston of Rathillet and Hall of Haughhead.
An attempt was made by the Covenanters to avoid bloodshed. David Hume, a clergyman, and Fergusson of Kaitloch approached the Duke with a supplication which demanded that the Covenanters be permitted to practice their religion freely, that a free parliament be established, and that a general assembly of the church be called. The Duke accepted the party’s petition and promised that he would submit it to King Charles on the condition that they disband and immediately disperse. Hume and Fergusson returned to the Covenanter ranks and tried to argue for their acceptance of the Duke’s conditions. But while they were discussing the proposal, the Duke’s army proceeded to place their cannon in line on the west side of the river. Foot soldiers were soon dispatched under the command of Lord Livingstone to force the defenders on the bridge to give up their position.
The Covenanters and Monmouth’s troops exchanged musket fire until the Covenanters’ ammunition ran out. Monmouth’s artillery raked the Covenanter line with a deadly bombardment. Despite a valiant effort by Hackston’s men, the Covenanters were finally obliged to retreat from the bridge. Monmouth’s troops took advantage of the situation and crossed the bridge, all the while slaughtering the many ill-equipped Covenanters whose ammunition had run out after the first volley. Monmouth’s troops surrounded the Covenanters and took between fourteen and fifteen hundred prisoners.
The Battle of Bothwell Bridge lasted a mere two to three hours. Estimates placed the casualties of the Covenanters at between four and eight hundred killed. The prisoners were taken to the Greyfriars churchyard in Edinburgh, into which they were herded to wait for their executions. Two were hung at Edinburgh while five were hung at Magus Muir. Most of the rest were released on their word that they would not participate in any further rebellion.
Two hundred and fifty-seven of the Covenanters taken prisoner at Bothwell Bridge were sentenced to be deported to the Americas. They were placed aboard the ship, Crown, which set sail on 27 November, 1679. Bad weather had set in, causing the ship to make an unscheduled stop at Deersound Port in Orkney. Despite the urgings of the local residents to not advance further until the weather should clear up, the captain of the Crown set out once more on 10 December. It was said that the heartless captain ordered the hatches to be chained to prevent the Covenanter prisoners from escaping. Barely had the ship cleared the land than it struck rocks and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The accident claimed two hundred and eleven Covenanter lives. The forty six people who survived the wreck were later deported to the Americas on another vessel.
In 1680, with the death of the (by now) Duke of Lauderdale, a new figure stepped onto the stage of Scotland’s troubles. James, Duke of Albany, the extremely radical Roman Catholic brother of King Charles, was placed in the position of Scotland’s Secretary of State. He immediately began to push for even greater suppression of all Covenanter activities.
Throughout 1679 and 1680, Covenanters known variously as the ‘Society Men’ or ‘Cameronians,’ led by the Presbyterian ministers, Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill, had been congregating to train for armed resistance against the government. The Cameronians claimed that they owed no allegiance to Charles II, but rather that the only king they would declare allegiance to was ‘King Jesus.’
Richard Cameron and Donald Cargill collaborated on a document called the Queensferry Paper in early 1680. The Queensferry Paper, a declaration of faith and disapproval of the King and his ‘sinful’ government, was never published. It only became known when, on 03 June, 1680, Cargill and Henry Hall were taken prisoner at an inn at Queensferry; the document was found in Cargill’s clothes.
Donald Cargill gained notoriety when, at a conventicle at the village of Torwood, near Stirling, he formally excommunicated Charles Stuart II, King of the England, Scotland and Ireland. Also excommunicated by Cargill were John Duke of Lauderdale, James Duke of York, James Duke of Monmouth, John Duke of Rothes, Sir George MacKenzie and Thomas Dalyell ‘of the Binns.’ Cargill was taken captive at Covington Mill not long afterward. On 27 July, 1681 he was executed at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh; his head was hung on the Netherbow Gate as a warning to others.
The Declaration of Sanquhar, calling for the removal of Charles II, was issued by Richard Cameron on 22 June, 1680. On that day, Cameron, with about twenty other fellow Covenanters, rode into the town of Sanquhar with weapons drawn. A crowd began to gather at the market cross on the main street of the town. Richard Cameron and his brother, Michael dismounted, and Richard read aloud his Declaration. The highly treasonable Declaration was hung on the town cross and the Camerons remounted and rode off. Cameron would be dead within a month’s time at Airds Moss, but the guerilla tactics of his followers were continued into the mid-1680s.
The years 1684 and 1685 were known as the Killing Time because of the great number of ghastly atrocities committed by both the Covenanters and the King’s government. During the Killing Time, Covenanters and anyone simply suspected of being a Covenanter was in danger of being arrested and killed on the spot without the benefit of a trial. During the Killing Time there were known to have been thirty-one executions in Edinburgh and one hundred and thirteen additional executions throughout the countryside, eighty of which took place in Dumfries.
One very notorious example of the hideous manner in which the government forces executed the Covenanters was the deaths of Margaret McLachlan and Margaret Wilson. They were both followers of the minister, James Renwick. In April of 1685 the eighteen year old Margaret Wilson and sixty three year old Margaret McLachlan had refused to take the Test Act and the Abjuration Act, which were oaths denying Presbyterianism and rejecting, in particular, a ‘Declaration of Faith’ promoted by Renwick. The two women were taken prisoner and sentenced to be drowned in Wigtown Bay. Drowning was the preferred method of execution of women by the government. The sentence was carried out in May. The older woman, Margaret McLachlan, was tied to a post which was sunk into the sand ‘within the flood marks of the sea’ and the younger, Margaret Wilson, was tied to a similar post a short distance inland. It was hoped that Margaret Wilson would repent of her ‘sin’ after being forced to watch McLachlan drown. But she was steadfast in her conviction and refused to give in. The sea waters rose and rose, eventually covering the heads of the two women and drowning them. The two women are commonly referred to as the Solway Martyrs.
Charles Stuart II died of a stroke on 12 February, 1685 and was succeeded by his younger brother, James II, under whom the people found little more relief. James intended to restore Catholicism to the British Isles, and therefore he came into conflict with the Presbyterian Covenanters.
The Killing Time was ostensibly brought to an end on 13 May, 1685 with the death of a man named James Kirk. He was shot at Solway Firth for refusing to take the Abjuration Oath. His was the last death recorded in the Killing Time.v
James Renwick, the Presbyterian minister, continued to hold conventicles into the 1680s. He was captured and executed on 17 Feb 1688 at Edinburgh. George Wood, sixteen years old, was the last Covenanter to be executed. He was shot in June 1688 by a trooper, John Reid.
The persecution of the Covenanters was finally brought to an end with the advent of the Glorious Revolution, in which the Protestant rulers of the Netherlands, William of Orange and Mary invaded the Isles (by invitation) and wrested the throne from Mary’s father, James Stuart. On 24 April, 1689 William was proclaimed king, and thereafter, the Presbyterian Covenanters of Scotland were given the right to worship as they pleased.
The end of the troubles between the Presbyterian Covenanters and the British government did not end the violence between the Highland clansmen and the Scottish government. It simply gave way to the Jacobite Cause. As noted previously, in regard to the narrative of the Glencoe Massacre of 1692, during the reign of William and Mary, the Jacobites came into being. They were primarily Highland clansmen who still supported James and wanted him to be reinstalled on the throne. A number of significant Highland clans supported the Jacobite Cause, including the Camerons, MacDonalds, MacGregors, Mackenzies, Mackintoshes, Macleans and MacLachlans.
In 1689 an army composed of Catholic French supporters of James II traveled to Ireland, where it was joined by Irish Catholics. Thousands of Irish Protestants took refuge in the city of Londonderry, and so the Catholic army laid siege to the city. The Protestants in Londonderry held out against the besiegers for one hundred and five days, from April to August, 1689. An English fleet relieved the town and forced James’ army to move southward. William sent English troops over to Ireland the next spring. On 11 July, 1690, William’s army engaged James’ army in the Battle of the Boyne, north of Dublin. James’ army was soundly defeated and James returned to France. With him went twelve thousand Jacobite soldiers. They would become known as the ‘Wild Geese’ who would support Prince Charles Edward Stuart in the Jacobite Rising of 1745.
Only a month before the Battle of the Boyne took place in Ireland, the Jacobite army of General Thomas Buchan, comprised of roughly eight hundred Highland clansmen, was taken captive in a night raid on their camp near Cromdale, Scotland. The raid resulted in the death of three hundred clansmen, and the Jacobite Rising of 1689 was brought to a halt.
A period of relative calm for the Scottish Highland clans stretched from 1690 until the 1740s, of course with the exception of the Glencoe Massacre in 1692.
The Jacobites had effectively been silenced, but their cause was not extinguished. In 1701 James II died in exile in France. The French king Louis XIV immediately recognized James’ son, James Edward as the legitimate British king, James III. Meanwhile, in England, with the deaths of Mary and William III, Mary’s sister, Anne succeeded to the throne. Her reign, until her death in 1714, was engrossed in the War of the Spanish Succession. Anne died without an heir, and so the British throne was claimed by the first of the Hanoverian line, George I. George’s mother, Sophia, the Protestant Electress of Hanover, was a granddaughter of James I, and the primary claimant to the British throne after Anne. Upon Sophia’s death in 1714, her son George became not only the Elector of Hanover, but also the British king. The new king could not speak a word of English when he arrived at London in 1714.
The Scottish clansmen, angered by the arrival of a German speaking monarch, and still convinced that a Stuart should be seated on the throne of England and Scotland, rose up in what became known as the Rising of 1715. It was said that upwards of twelve thousand clansmen rallied on the Jacobite side. The rebellion was easily quelled, though, and so the “Old Pretender” as James Edward Stuart became known, had to remain in exile. He moved from France to take up residence in Rome, Italy.
The final attempt to return the monarchy to the Stuarts would become known as the Jacobite Rising of ’45. The ‘Young Pretender’, Charles Edward Stuart, son of James Edward, born in 1720, had become affectionately known throughout Scotland as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie.’ He left Rome at the age of twenty-five to make an attempt to reclaim the throne of Britain. He headed for France and then on to Britain, landing in Scotland on 23 July, 1745 with just eight supporters as his officers. Although he was at first rebuffed by the Skye chieftains, Norman MacLeod of MacLeod and Alexander MacDonald of Sleat, he refused to leave Scotland. Within six weeks an army comprised of approximately three thousand Highland clansmen had formed under his leadership. The new Jacobite army marched on Edinburgh, which easily surrendered up its resources. There, Bonnie Prince Charlie proclaimed his father, James III as the rightful king of Scotland. An early victory over an English force under Sir John Cope, about ten miles east of the city gave additional impetus to the Rising. Plans were formulated to march through England and formally take London by force, in order to pave the way for James III to be restored to the throne.
For reasons unknown, Charlie remained at Edinburgh through the summer of 1745, and did not head south into England until November. During that time, the English organized an army of nearly ten thousand soldiers under William, Duke of Cumberland, the son of the Hanoverian King George II. Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army had barely crossed the border, but was forced to retreat northward back into Scotland.
The two armies met on the field of Culloden Moor on 16 April, 1746. Each of the armies formed into two lines separated by about five hundred meters of level, and in places, boggy, moorland. Cumberland’s Hanoverian army faced westward. He had fifteen regiments of infantry, eight hundred mounted dragoons and a battery of sixteen cannon: ten three-pounder guns and six mortars. The Jacobite army was comprised of about two thousand less men than that of Cumberland. They had arrived at a point some distance from the Hanoverian encampment the previous night, but finding that a surprise attack would not be possible, the decision was made to return to their own encampment near the town of Culloden. It was late in the morning (about two o’clock) when they were turned around, and had barely got back to their camp and to sleep, when they were roused again to re-start the march. Without proper sleep and hungry, by the time they reached the site of the field upon which the Hanoverian army was assembled, they were not in any shape to be effective in battle.
The Jacobite army had only a few pieces of artillery, but they opened fire on the Hanoverian line around noon on the 16th. And the kilted Highlanders started to move forward, brandishing their broadswords. Beginning with round-shot, Cumberland’s battery of cannon answered by opening fire on the lines of Jacobites. As the Jacobites got nearer, the Hanoverian guns changed their ammunition to grapeshot. The clansmen were hit hard by the rain of grapeshot (i.e.
Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped capture at Culloden, and took refuge in the Scottish Highlands. He was welcomed to the island of South Uist by Flora MacDonald. Flora disguised the prince as a woman, named Betty Burke, and got him safely “over the seas to Skye” as the story goes. Charlie later left Skye and returned to the mainland, hiding out in caves and eventually making his way back to France and then on to Rome where he had grown up. Bonnie Prince Charlie, and all hope of a Stuart restoration, died in 1788 in Rome, Italy.