Effects of this Revolution in the Church, as a prelude to the Civil Wars.
– Account of these disorders.
THE petition from the assembly to the king, was entrusted to Mr. George Winram of Libberton, who set off for the court, on the ninth of January 1639, and was, with some difficulty, introduced to his majesty in council, by the marquis of Hamilton. His grace, on his knee, read the supplication, upon which, the king made this singular remark, “When they have broken my head, they will put on my cowl!” Mr. Winram staid many weeks for an answer, but received none. The king, however, sent a letter to his council in Scotland, (which was read, January the 29th) bearing, that for the better settling of Scottish matters, he would be at York against the first of April, and would call the Scots council to attend, and give him advice.
Meantime, the covenanters had reason to suspect, that the king’s intention was very different from that of taking counsel. They had received intelligence, that an oath had been exacted from their countrymen at court, by which they renounced the assembly, and promised their full assistance to the king, whenever he should require it; that his majesty, by a letter, published on the 26th January, had commanded all the nobles and gentry of England, to attend his royal standard at York, on the first of April, in order to oppose the Scots; and that the marquis of Huntly had been appointed the king’s lieutenant in the north of Scotland, with great authority.
Alarmed at these accounts, but determined not to trust to supernatural assistance alone, of which, however, they held themselves well assured, they prepared to maintain and defend their religious tenets by military force. The leading members of the assembly, who had been appointed a standing committee, convened a general meeting at Edinburgh, on the twentieth of February, consisting of noblemen, and commissioners from the other estates. This meeting unanimously resolved upon the raising of an army, and Lesley, a soldier of experience and abilities, having been appointed general, the covenanters cast their eyes on all sides, abroad and at home, from whence any aid or support could be expected. Cardinal Richlieu, the politic and enterprising minister of France, irritated at Charles’ answer to the French Ambassador, with regard to the Low country provinces, carefully fomented the first commotions in Scotland; and, to encourage the covenanters in their opposition, supplied them secretly with money and arms. At home, William Dick, at that time the most considerable merchant in the country, was prevailed upon by flattery, and his own vain-glory, to advance them very great sums, at first, four hundred thousand merks Scots, and afterward much more. In return for these favours, the covenanters caused him to be made provost of Edinburgh; but, by these advances, he was ruined, and in the end died a beggar.1
Supplied in this manner, the covenanters proceeded with vigour and abilities. The earl of Argyle became the chief leader of the party, – forces were regularly inlisted and disciplined, – the castle of Edinburgh, and a few others, which belonged to the king, being unprovided with victuals, ammunition, and garrisons, were soon seized, – the fortifications of Leith were begun and carried on with great rapidity, – and the whole country, except a small part, under the power of the marquis of Huntly, being in the hands of the covenanters, was, in a very little time, put in a tolerable state of defence.
The king, on the other hand, though averse to violent and sanguinary measures, suffered his attachment to the hierarchy to prevail over his other passions; and hastened his military preparations, for subduing the refractory spirit of Scotland. Having put 5000 land forces on board a fleet, entrusted to the marquis of Hamilton, with orders to sail to the frith of Forth; and levied an army of near 20,000 foot, and above 3000 horse, which was put under the command of the earl of Arundel, the king himself joined the army, attended by the peers of England; and in this situation, with the appearance of a splendid court, carrying more shew than force, the camp arrived at Berwick.
Thus commenced those discontents and disorders, which, though suppressed by the articles of pacification agreed upon at Berwick, and, subsequently, by the treaty of Rippon, were revived and continued; and, ending in an opposition betwixt the king and parliament, produced, in 1642, those civil wars, that, for a long period, deluged this country with blood.
Before the commencement of these disorders, James, earl of Montrose, returning from his travels, an accomplished gentleman and scholar, had been introduced to the king; but, by the insinuations of the marquis of Hamilton, had not been received with that distinction, to which he conceived himself entitled. Disgusted with this treatment, he joined the covenanters, and employed himself, with zeal, and success, in levying and conducting their armies. Having waited on the king, while the royal army lay at Berwick, he was gained over by the caresses of the monarch, devoted himself thenceforth to his service, and entered into a correspondence with him.
In the insurrection, after the treaty of Berwick, the covenanters entrusted to his command, two thousand foot, and five hundred horse; and his friends, the cadets and relations of his family, had the command of five thousand more. After passing the Tweed, his correspondence with the king was discovered by the covenanters; when, being accused of treachery, and of corresponding with the enemy, he openly avowed his conduct, and asked the generals, if they dared to call their sovereign a foe.
Uniting himself afterward to the royal party, he negociated for Irish troops, to make a diversion in Scotland, with which he defeated Lord Elcho at Perth; and, being joined by the earl of Airly, and his two younger sons, attacked Lord Burley’s army at Aberdeen, put them to flight, and did great execution upon them. In several other engagements he was still successful; and descending into the southern counties, in 1645, he gave battle at Kilsyth, to 7000 of the covenanters, under lieut. general Bailie, in which the same good fortune attended him.
This memorable engagement happened on the 15th of August 1645. Six thousand of Bailie’s troops were put to the sword; and, the greater part of the remaining 1000 being suffocated in the Dullater-bog, the covenanters were left, scarcely any remains of an army in Scotland, while Montrose suffered a very inconsiderable loss. These repeated successes shook the whole kingdom, turned the minds of the wavering, and many who secretly favoured the royal cause, now declared themselves openly.
The city of Glasgow, hearing that Montrose gave his troops two days rest at Kilsyth, sent Sir Robert Douglas of Blackerston, and Mr. Archibald Fleming, commissary, to congratulate his lordship on that signal victory; and, in the name of the magistrates, to invite him, and his army, to spend some days at Glasgow. He, accordingly, marched next day, with his army, to the city, where he was welcomed, and entertained with great solemnity. He received very graciously the apologies they made him, and took in good part their promises of better behaviour, and of attachment to the cause of his royal master.
Montrose remained only one night in Glasgow, on account of the plague, which was then raging, with great fury in the city. He encamped the next day at Bothwel. The magistrates of Edinburgh found it prudent, to send a deputation to him, at this place, in order to tender their submission, and loyalty to their sovereign, and to express their sorrow for being led into rebellion, to which they had been compelled, by the power and influence of the restless nobility. Several of the nobles, alarmed and terrified by Montrose’s successes and signal victories, had by this time fled into England for safety, others had followed the earl of Argyle into Ireland, and some had retired into the Isles. Under these circumstances, the cities of Glasgow, and Edinburgh, acted prudentially, in saving themselves from the plunder and sword of an illustrious conqueror, who made the whole nation tremble.
At Bothwel, in the castle on the banks of the Clyde, a piece of noble architecture, and a seat of the Cumings in the 13th century, Montrose, as lieutenant and governor of Scotland, received, for his prince, the homage of the remaining nobility, the greater part of whom, came on purpose to deceive him, and to mislead him into a snare. This they effected, by bewildering him and his army in the mountains, and deserting him, chieftain after chieftain, until they left him, with only a few faithful followers, ignorant of the country.
David Lesly had been detached, from the army in England, to the relief of his distressed party in Scotland. Montrose advanced still farther to the south, in hopes of rousing some of the southern nobility who had promised to join him, and of obtaining from England a supply of cavalry. He was surprised by Lesly at Philiphaugh, in the forest; and, after a short conflict, his forces were routed by Lesly’s cavalry.
Previous to this defeat which took place on the 13th September, 1645, Montrose, as the king’s lieutenant, had proclaimed a parliament, to be held in Glasgow, upon the 20th of October. The committee of estates, and commission of the church, now resolved to go thither against that time; and sent orders to the western shires to attend their arrival. David Lesly, with one half of his horse, went along with them as a convoy, the other half being sent to Alloa, to destroy the lands of the ear of Marr, on account of the loyalty of that family.
Three of the prisoners taken at Philiphaugh, viz. Sir William Rollock, Sir Philip Nisbet, and Alexander Ogilvy of Inverquharity, were executed at Glasgow; the first on the 28th, and the others on the 29th of October. Upon occasion of these executions, the Rev. Mr. David Dickson, then professor of divinity in Glasgow college, said, “The work goes bonnily on,” which passed into a proverb. The execution of the other prisoners was delayed till the sitting of the parliament, which had been called by the covenanters, to meet at St. Andrew’s, on the 26th of November.
Montrose, in the meantime, had brought his main army towards Glasgow, which he did not enter, deterred, it is said, by the plague which still prevailed in the city. He remained in the neighbourhood for several days, expecting their coming out to give him battle; but, finding they had no intention of doing so, he returned with his army to Athol.
Lesly behaved with great civility to the citizens, though he jeeringly borrowed from them twenty thousand pounds Scots, as the interest, as he termed it, of the fifty thousand, which, it was alledged, they had lent to Montrose. At Lesly’s approach, the ministers retired to the west country, and took refuge at Kilbarchan. Commissary Fleming, having remained, was imprisoned.
Digby and Langdale, who were to have opened the parliament which Montrose had summoned to meet at Glasgow, fled out of Lesly’s way, as well as they could. Digby’s coach was taken with most of his papers, which are said to have shewn that the king wished for peace on his own terms alone.
After the battle of Philiphaugh, in which Montrose experienced so sudden a reverse of fortune, it was imagined by many, that something was wrong on the part of the earl, at Bothwel, Glasgow, or Kilsyth. It is said, that the highlanders, under his command, were in a state of utter barbarity, and that his power over them and their chieftains, rested entirely on his masterly address. In the morning before the battle of Kilsyth, an unfortunate chapman, coming over Take-me-down, fell in the way of Montrose’s forces, and told them what he knew of general Bailie’s army, and where he had seen them before he came over the hill. Notwithstanding this important information, an old highland seer, whose use was to inspire this savage band with courage before battle, in the manner of the ancient bards, insist this poor chapman’s death, as an offering to Woden, and an emblem of the blood of their enemies. He was instantly put to death, without ceremony; and, as if inspired with the blood of this itinerant victim, as a presage of good fortune, they attacked the covenanters, with so much fury, that it was not in the marquis’ power to restrain their ardour.2 The pursuit, to the westward, continued to Kirkintilloch on the south, and to Glorat on the north side of the Kelvin. – And to the eastward, where the army came from, their remains were chased to Stirling and Airth. This army, on their march from Fife, entertained a presentiment, that they should never return to their own country, and the fatal prognostic was but too well fulfilled.
The defeat, at Philiphaugh, was the commencement of the misfortunes of Montrose, as well as of his royal master. The latter, after various disasters, having, in the beginning of May, 1646, escaped from Oxford, which was then besieged by Sir Thomas Fairfax, general of the parliamentary forces, threw himself mercy of the Scots army, encamped at Newark. Here he immediately found himself a prisoner, a guard having been set upon him, under colour of protection, though he was treated with every mark of exterior, but distant, respect. The Scottish generals and commissioners informed the English parliament, of the king’s unexpected appearance; and his majesty was soon prevailed upon, to issue orders to his garrisons, to surrender to the parliament.
He was also constrained, to send a herald to Montrose, commanding him to lay down his arms, and to depart into France, there to wait his further pleasure. These injunctions were afterward renewed, and obedience required, under pain of high treason. Montrose, therefore, took farewel of his army, and went to a port in Angus, where, it had been agreed, a ship should be found for transporting him. Finding the master of this vessel a furious abettor of the covenanters, the earl, by the persuasion of his friends, retired into the highlands, and dispatched some of his servants to the ports in the north, in search of a vessel to carry off a few of his followers.
They found, at Stonehive, a small sloop from Bergen in Norway, in which these devoted few, sailed for that port, on the 3d September. On the same night, the earl embarked at Montrose, (the place of his birth,) in the 34th year of his age, disguised as the servant of a worthy clergyman who accompanied him.
This year ended as it had begun, with bloodshed, famine, and pestilence. The latter, at this time, raged with fury in most of the towns in Scotland. In September it began to abate in Edinburgh and Leith. Aberdeen, Brechin, and other parts of the north, were miserably wasted. St. Andrew’s, and Glasgow, were sorely threatened, – the schools and colleges were deserted, – but the mortality in these two places was not great.
The king remained in the hands of the covenanters, for nine months. During this period, the duke of Hamilton, the marquis of Argyle, Lauderdale, and the rest of the Scots commissioners at London, had frequent conferences with the English parliament, for advising what was next to be done, in reference to his majesty. The result was, to send English commissioners to the king, at Newcastle, whither he and the Scots army had removed with sundry propositions, to which his assent was required.
The commissioners having arrived at Newcastle, upon the twenty-fifth of July, presented the propositions to his majesty, entreating a speedy answer. The king, having considered the propositions, answered, “That unto many of them he should gladly accord, for peace’ sake, but amongst them there were some, whereunto he could not assent, unless he would un-king himself.” Those to which his majesty excepted, were seven in number, the first of which was, that he should subscribe the league and covenant; and approve of the assembly of divines, and of the whole proceedings of both parliaments. The others tended chiefly to abridge the regal power, and to except from pardon, sundry persons who had favoured the royal cause.
His majesty moved the commissioners to divide the articles, and to accept satisfaction from him in those he could yield to. They replied “All or none.” Whereupon he told them, “That it was not his fault that they parted without accomodation, but their constituents’, who had appointed them to press such things, as he could not consent to, without hurting his inward peace, which was dearer to him than life; and therefore he behoved to dismiss them with a refusal, and take his hazard of what might follow.”
The commissioners departed from Newcastle, upon August the 2d, and next day, the chancellor, the marquis of Argyle, and the earl of Dunfermline, offered to his majesty, to proceed to London, and treat with the parliament, for a mitigation of the articles. Whether the king trusted them is doubtful, but the royalists hesitated not to say, That their treating would end in a bargain.
This opinion was fully verified. After sundry conferences of the commissioners on both sides, it was concluded, that the Scots should receive 200,000l. sterling in hand, and public faith for as much more, to be paid at certain terms, on condition they would withdraw their army, and surrender the king without any conditions for him.3
Accordingly, on the 28th of January, 1647, the king was delivered up, or rather sold,4 to the parliament’s commissioners, who conducted him to Holdenby, or Holmby-house, in Northamptonshire. He was soon after taken from Holmby, and carried to the army, by cornet Joyce, who, from being a tailor before the war, had become a commissioned officer, and had signalized himself by his bravery. But Cromwell, whose great design was, to hinder any conjunction between the king and the presbyterians, conducted him to Hampton-court. From thence, with the connivance, as it is thought, of Cromwell, he made his escape, and went to the Isle of Wight, where he was received by colonel Hammond, and lodged in Carisbrook castle.
In the interim, Fairfax, Cromwell, and Ireton, at the head of the parliamentary forces, had gained several victories over the king’s army, and the garrisons, and fortified places, had surrendered to the parliament. The victors, however, being divided into two parties, under the names of independents and presbyterians, began to quarrel among themselves; and the result of these animosities, was a mutiny in the army, which marched against, and subdued the parliament. It was in consequence of this meeting, and for the safety of his person, that the king fled from Hampton-court.
A few days after this flight, a meeting of the general officers of the army was held, at Windsor, when it was resolved, that his majesty should be prosecuted, as a criminal. The parliament, and the army, were now united against the king; but, notwithstanding this conjunction, they could not enjoy their power and authority without great disturbance and opposition; and tumults and insurrections, combinations and conspiracies, increasing every where, brought on, in 1648, a second civil war.
Scotland, although it had given to the king’s cause, the first fatal disaster, now promised it support and assistance. The independents had taken every occasion of mortifying the Scots. The subjection of the parliament, and the confinement of the king, seemed to threaten the overthrow of presbytery. These, and other grievances, were complained of by the Scots; and the violence done to his majesty, were considered as repugnant to the covenant, by which they stood engaged to defend his person. They agreed, therefore, to arm themselves in his favour, and prepared for an invasion of England.
In these preparations, they were disturbed by discontents and animosities among themselves. Forces were ordered to be levied, and each district being required to furnish a particular quota, the clergy took an active part in opposing the levy. Though adhering to their original principles, and resolving to support a mixed government, they dreaded the restoration of monarchy would take place without the establishment of presbytery in England. Excited by their discourses, several of the burghs, and shires, were extremely backward, and even refractory, in providing their contingent of troops. The town of Glasgow having been among the number of these contumacious burghs, the magistrates and council were summoned to answer to the parliament for their conduct. Although the fault was common to them, with the greater part of the kingdom, they were imprisoned, and detained for several days. And having professed scruples of conscience, with regard to promoting the levy, they were also deprived of their offices, by an act of parliament, dated 10th June, 1648, and a commission was sent to the old council, authorising them to elect new magistrates.
The council met on the 13th of June, and the act of parliament being produced, was ordered to be published at the market-cross. The next day being fixed for the election, Colin Campbell was chosen provost, and John Anderson, James Tran, and William Neilson, bailies. The council was made up, of those who had served as counsellors, in the year 1645.
Principal Bailie, in giving an account of this occurrence, says, “But this is not all our misery. Before this change, some regiments of horse and foot were sent to our town, with orders to quarter on no other but the magistrates, council, session, and their lovers. These orders were executed with rigour. On the most religious people of our town, huge burdens did fall. On some ten, on some twenty, and on others thirty soldiers, and more did quarter; who, beside meat and drink, wine, and good cheer, and whatever they called for, did exact cruelly their daily pay, and much more. In ten days they cost a few honest, but mean people, 40,000l. Scots, beside plundering of these whom necessity forced to flee from their houses. Our loss and danger was not so great by James Graham.”5
The magistrates and council, who were thus displaced, were restored to their offices, by an act of the committee of estates, as having been unjustly ejected.6
The clergy, in their opposition to the levy, were guided by Argyle, and various disputes upon that head occurred betwixt the commission of the church and the parliament. The former insisted, that, previous to the raising of an army, the church should get some satisfaction, and that an oath of association should be taken, for pursuing the ends of the covenant. The chief articles of this oath were, that except the king should first subscribe and swear the covenants, it was not lawful for any to attempt his restitution; that popery, prelacy, erastianism, and all sects, should be extirpated; and that these articles, with the others contained in the oath, should be added to the coronation-oath of his majesty, and of all his successors. The parliament appointed a committee to confer with the commission of the church, and in the meantime pursued measures for furthering the levy.
The army being completed, prepared, in the beginning of July, to leave Scotland. Principal Bailie says, “It was the greatest that went from Scotland, since the beginning of the troubles, though far from the number, as I conceive, of 22,000 foot, and 8,000 horse, which common report made them. Never an army was so great charge to the country. The foot soldier, or his levy money, clothes and arms, cost generally 100 pounds Scots, – the horsemen 300 merks, – and their free quartering, being an unlimited plundering of many very good and pious people. Our state has now found, which scarcely could have been believed, that, contrary to the utmost endeavours of the church, and all friends, they can raise and maintain an army, and do what they will, at home and abroad.”
Upon Saturday, July 8th, the army marched forward to England, and, the next day, had the town of Carlisle delivered up to them.
At this period, a general spirit of discontent pervaded the two kingdoms. The people found themselves under a military tyranny, which roused their indignation; and loaded with a multiplicity of new and intolerable taxes, which excited complaint. The same spirit had seized the English fleet; and the whole country exhibited a scene of the most melancholy and dismal nature; full of tumult, insurrection, and confusion, and of the jarring, distrust, and rancour of party.
The parliament of England was so greatly overawed, that the Scots were declared to be enemies, and all those who joined with them traitors. Preparations were made by Cromwell, and the military council, for a vigorous defence. The army establishment was augmented, and several advantages were gained by the parliamentary forces, over those of the royalists, in England and Wales. The marquis of Hamilton, one of the leaders of the moderate presbyterians, having entered England, at the head of a numerous, but undisciplined army, was attacked by Cromwell, near Preston in Lancashire, his forces routed, and himself taken prisoner. Cromwell, following his advantage, marched with a considerable body into Scotland, joined Argyle, and having suppressed the moderate party, placed the power in the hands of the violent covenanters.
These successes, with others which immediately followed, increased the power and influence of Cromwell. He prevailed with the council of general officers, to present a remonstrance to the parliament, demanding, among other things, the punishment of the king, for the blood spilt during the war. His majesty was immediately seized, and confined; and, after a public trial, was beheaded on the 30th January, 1649, an event too well known, to require any particular detail.
To the death of the king succeeded the abolition of monarchy, and of the house of peers; and the establishment of the commonwealth.
Thus, we have exhibited the effects of the re-establishment of presbytery, by the general assembly of 1638, as shewn in the history of the civil wars, in which the covenanters bore a principal share, down to the martyrdom of the unfortunate Charles. We cannot better express ourselves upon this memorable occurrence, than by quoting the words of the elegant historian, Hume, in drawing the character of this monarch. “Unhappily, his fate threw him into a period, when the precedents of many former reigns savoured strongly of arbitrary power, and the genius of the people ran violently toward liberty. And, if his political prudence was not sufficient to extricate him from so perilous a situation, he may be excused; since, even after the event, when it is commonly easy to correct all errors, one is at a loss to determine what conduct, in his circumstances, could have maintained the authority of the crown, and preserved the peace of the nation. Exposed, without revenue, without arms, to the assault of furious, implacable, and bigoted factions, it was never permitted him, but with the most fatal consequences, to commit the smallest mistake; a condition too rigorous to be imposed on the greatest human capacity.”
We proceed with a continuation of our history, during the commonwealth.
1 Guthry’s Memoirs.
2 This story is given from tradition.
3 Guthry’s memoirs.
4 Rapin. Hume.
5 The marquis of Montrose.
6 27th September, 1648.