Transcript for HoS 71

Now then everyone I have never managed to get into Pepys’ diaries. I feel a vague sense of shame about this, and it worries me, because just as no historian is complete unless they have read and thoroughly digested the History of Myddle, so the same is true of Pepys diaries. Well, maybe one day. However, I have dipped in pursuit of a particular reference and would like to quote this to you from Saturday 14th October. When presumably the majority of the population were at Pride Park watching County get their collective arses kicked, our Sam was hard at work for the Royal Navy, working late. He still had time for his diaries though and recorded this note at the end of the day’s record

But my heart and head to-night is full of the Victualling business, being overjoyed and proud at my success in my proposal about it, it being read before the King, Duke, and the Cabal with complete applause and satisfaction

Hmm, well, the reason I followed this quote was from a reference in the OED to the origin of the word cabal. According to the OED, the origins lie in the Hebrew word kaballah, for a sort of secret or mystery, it then gets used in medieval latin as cabbala, and 16th French as cabale, and comes to mean a group, usually to some degree with the whiff and odure of nefarious ness hanging around them, like a miasma. Or a Rams scarf after the match.

However, we know that of course all cool things are invented right here in blighty, because we are exceptional British exceptionalist here at the exceptionally exceptional history of Scotland, and there is a line of folk etymology which has it that comes from the ministers that control the British kingdoms under Charles II, namely Clifford, Arlington, Buckingham, Ashley and our very own Lauderdale, the L in Cabal

I start here to illustrate how deeply Lauderdale was embedded Charles’ administration, right at the centre of power; his place for the majority of the time was in London.

So the political bum on the hot seat in Edinburgh day to day in 1663 was mainly John Leslie, the Earl of Rothes. I mentioned last week that we were talking triumvirate here; James Sharp’s domain, as Archbishop of St Andrews, was very much the church, and the promotion and enforcement of the episcopalian religious settlement.

So the story we are going into, the Ghost House of the political fairground as ‘twere, is very much dominated by the struggle for the soul of the kirk, alongside the implementation and maintenance of absolute royal power, of course. We will hear of the efforts to make the religious settlement work; and at many times, it is a pretty bloody story, as the Presbyterian heartlands are at once coerced and persecuted towards compliance, and then induced, and tolerated and persuaded – and then oh no, that’s not working get out the Boot again and start crushing legs until they do what they are told. Now look we’ll cover all of that – it is a gruesome story after all and we do like gruesomeness – but you need to be aware that it skews the narrative towards the west and south west, and towards the midlands south of the Tay, including Fife. We don’t hear much about the North East, where Catholicism had always been stronger, and episcopalianism too; and a limited amount from the Highlands and Islands. I suppose that’s the way of things often – I mean in the history of England where I’m doing things in much more depth, I’m not spending a lot of time representing the East Anglian experience, or the perspective from Durham. But just be aware that as always experience of the times will vary according to where you live.

There is a background to the next decade or so which is important very broadly; which concerns economics, or trade more specifically; the importance of which can be exaggerated, because in these centuries of course, foreign trade was such a relatively small part of a very region and locally based economy. The super summary is that the benefits of being part of a prial of kingdoms held by the same monarch were a little hard to see; because not only did Scotland not get the enormous, deep and pretty much bottomless satisfaction of being in the same union and country as the Welsh and English – I speak of course without irony – but they also got the disbenefits of being on the end of English foreign policy, being  of course, as far as the English parliament was concerned, a foreign country. Obviously it should have been up to the King to mediate in that – but Charles did not do that.

So To be specific. The English Navigation Acts of 1660, which re-established the 1651 Acts under the Commonwealth. I still haven’t really spoken about the nascent English empire, promise I will sometime, but you know, there are by this stage emerging colonies in the Caribbean and North America. The Navigation Acts were designed to make sure England got the maximum benefit of the consequential trade; the more I read about the Navigation Acts, the more fundamental to British history they seem to be. Anyway, the rules would be changed through the 1660s, but essentially trade to and from English colonies must be made in English bottoms in a good way; and there were various other rules about specific products that could only be sold to England. This was part of the general theory of international trade in Europe at the time, which I assume we all learned about at school, called mercantilism. Which I suppose assumed that the cake was a certain size and if you were to get your proper share you’d better lick it or your sister would get it, whereas free trade assumes that if it looked as though you were running out the invisible hand would just knock up another cake anyway. Is that an appropriate summary of the difference between mercantilism and free trade? Somewhere within my brain, alarm bells are ringing.

Anyway, the point is that Scotland was not in union with England and Wales. And so, Scottish traders were excluding from the colonial trade. Further more, England launched out on another war with the Dutch Republic from 1664 to 1667. Now Scotland did a lot of trade with the Dutch – which trade was now closed to them. Trade by sea, it was reported, had ceased everywhere, which is probably an exaggeration but largely true. Indignity followed upon insult; Scottish seamen were pressed into Royal service to fight this war that did their people significant harm. And another thing, another thing, since the resulting economic depression hit customs revenues Charles asked the Scots for a land tax. Obediently, the L in Cabal, Lauderdale got to work, and in 1665 the cess was revived. The cess was the tax which had formed a powerful part of the success of the Covenanter state – a land tax based on rental values rather than its capital value. So Charles received about £55,000 sterling over 5 years to pay for a war that did no good to the payer. A bit like paying money to be allowed to hit yourself in the face, a difficult proposition to sell I would suggest; but then an absolute monarch doesn’t really need to ask nicely.



As a side note, these problems didn’t entirely escape the attention of the Scottish, English and Royal leaders; and it led to some early discussions about whether or not Union could be a solution. In 1668 Charles kicked off discussions about a possible union, starting with the idea of a simple commercial union, which would seem sensible the EEC sort of thing; but then leading to political union – like a European superstate, which was a bit more drastic obviously – swapping sovereignty for free trade essentially. The talks went nowhere significant. Why I hear you ask?

Well obviously there’s the basic We hate the English, we hate the Scots sort of stuff, ancient enemies and so on and so forth. The Scottish political elite thought the idea was political suicide – I mean sinking your national sovereignty into a combined state with a much bigger party – that’s something of a big issue, I am sure you will agree. Union with Scotland on the other hand was just not high on the priority list of the English parliament. That’s annoying I can appreciate that, but that’s just the way it was.  Charles at the time was busy stitching up secret treaties with the French, so was probably just using the discussions about Union to make people look the other way like a clever magician, and wasn’t very serious about making it work anyway. After all Scotland was proving nicely compliant and the English were being arsy.

There were more substantive fears though. The English looked at what was going on in Scotland as far as the extension of royal power was concerned and did not like it; did not like it one bit. Not simply the acts of the restoration parliament in re-establishing royal power and sweeping away completely the revolution; by the end of the 1660s as we will hear, there were reports of substantial persecution of the Presbyterians, at the hands of a government militia, of widespread arbitrary arrest, given the absence in Scotland of of habeas corpus. So some in England feared political union would hand Charles a phalanx of pliant and obedient Scots, making him

As absolute in Britain as the French King was in France

In Scotland there were those solid royalists who thought union was a bad idea for the King anyway, and it may be that Charles shared the thinking. The Lord Advocate, George MacKenzie thought so; he argued that having different realms allowed the king to play one off against the other to his useful advantage; that was sadly true both ways of course – at one point Charles would consider using Irish troops in South West Scotland to suppress Presbyterian conventicles for example. But it could happen t’other way too, using troops from Scotland in a way that had occurred the other way round in the Civil Wars for example, this time maybe Charles could use that handy Scottish government militia to bring order to an unruly English parliament, Scotland could be, thought MacKenzie

A kingdom wherein he might, by his prerogative govern much more absolutely that in England

It’s an interesting reminder of what the civil wars teach us too; that it’s easy from a modern perspective to think of absolutism being imposed from above on an unwilling nation. Truth is – many people thought that was simply the way things should be, the way of order, stability, safety, the Leviathan; absolutism could not have been imposed without supporters who saw royal power as a bulwark against social and political chaos. The English meanwhile were also worried by this, and saw a connection between absolutism and a rise in Catholicism, or Popery, as well. In 1679, the Earl of Shaftesbury, the founder of the Whig party and patron of John Locke, reflected that longstanding equation in English and Scottish minds between Catholicism and Tyranny when he remarked on the Stuart kings that

In England popery was to have brought in slavery. Whereas in Scotland slavery went before and popery was to follow

He specifically criticised Lauderdale’s government in Scotland and referred to the Scottish Militia Act which gave the government the power to raise 22,000 men

To be ready to invade us on all occasions

So some of the English saw Lauderdale specifically as part of the problem they faced in the battle against arbitrary government in England; in 1673, they tried to get Lauderdale removed from the King’s councils. Charles took note of Tammy’s advice to stand by your man and fought them off; and it is pretty clear that Charles himself saw the benefit of being able to play one kingdom off against the other

As a curb to the other’s insolence

And therefore was disinclined to push the idea of union too hard.

So anyway, the benefits and disbenefits of union as opposed to being part of a prial of kingdoms was in the air well before the 18th century, fuelled of course by the memory of the Commonwealth. Incidentally, as a very side note, how common is usage of the word prial, do tell? I only came across it as a term for 3 of a kind through the playing of Brag late into the night, and normally getting my backside kicked. I did look it up and apparently the word comes from ‘pair royal’, although the phrase doesn’t actually appear in France, so it should probably be seen as a benefit of Franglais.

Anywho, I am dimly aware of having drifted somewhat, and we need to get back to the triumvirate – Rothes leading politically from Edinburgh, Lauderdale calling the shots from Whitehall, snuggled up to the source of all power, the king; and James Sharp, Archbishop of St Andrews leading in management of the kirk. It is time to talk of the persecution, ladies and gentlemen, and as such it is time to talk of religion. We’ll probably need to start by agreeing between us the use of the word conventicle; because it is used a lot. You probably know what it means, but just to make sure the hymns we are singing come from the same sheet of paper, I will use it in the sense of a ‘religious assembly in contravention of the law’; whether inside or outside will be moot and its status variable.

Now Lauderdale, remember was an ex Covenanter. Lauderdale was fond of power and riches I think it is fair to say, and was very motivated to hanging on same; we have already watched him burn Middleton’s career in the interest of his own. I don’t think, by the way, that you need to shed any tears for Middleton, he was himself hardly gentle. All I am saying is career status and power – first; principle and religion – second,  when it comes to Lauderdale. He very clearly recognised that his power, health, wealth and happiness depended on the king, and he never forgot this basic fact; so, demonstrating to the king that everything was just tickety-boo in his northern realm was at the top of his to do list alongside ‘buy carrots’ on the way home. And he didn’t want anyone looking too closely at what was going on, and seeing that it wasn’t quite as tickety booo as they were being told.

But that is not to say he had no principles or preferences at all – just a question of how high the hill would have to be for him to die on it for them; Ben Nevis in Lauderdale’s case, essentially. But as an ex-Covenanter, his sympathy was probably towards toleration for the presbyterian, covenanter cause, or toleration as far as possible; it is worth remembering that even in the most fervent days of his youth, Lauderdale would not have been accounted a radical covenanter. So he probably favoured, if possible, the idea of comprehension; the idea of Comprehension that covenanter ministers could be licenced to sit within the kirk of Scotland, comprehended as being within the Kirk, a bit like the scope for variation in views which had existed in the Elizabethan church, and within the Catholic church; a nudge and a wink system. Such a system depended on a bit of looking the other way by one party, the bishops, and depended on the Presbyterian ministers not being too obvious about their views – running a large scale, armed conventicle would most certainly cross the line, but publicly toeing the line in the parish church despite disagreeing with the bishops would be OK.

However, Lauderdale will constantly be pushed into really very violent persecution. Essentially because, although powerful, he had to keep his king happy, he had to make sure James Sharp, was kept in the tent – and Sharp had become powerfully in favour of a uniform episcopalian church, despite a rather moderate position under the Commonwealth; and Rothes also turned out to be somewhat hardline against dissent. In addition, the Radical Presbyterians were not the kind of folk to back down, take it easy and make concessions for an easy life. Stubborn. Given to argument. God after all was on their side, let’s be clear about that. Also, this world was nowhere as important as the next. So their dissent was constantly in danger of spilling into public disorder. And often did. The big L was often forced to the conclusion that to stop his king losing faith in Lauderdale his faithful servant – he had to squish the Presbyterians PDQ. Or the King of Bling would lose faith.

The heartlands of Radical Presbyterianism did not react well to being forced into their new episcopalian church. And they reached for the conventicle to continue to practice as they wished and believed God had ordered them to do. The vast majority did keep going to their local parish church as well as sneaking into the fields, church presbyterians you might say as once there had been church papists, but an increasing number began to withdraw completely from the kirk. This was something seriously new since the reformation, when the Scottish kirk had been remarkably uniform.

Meanwhile the hawks on the Council were in Lauderdales ears, and in Lauderdale’s face – Rothes and Sharp. So, in July 1663, further penalties followed for those that withdrew from their parish church – confiscation of a quarter of their moveable goods, which is a little harsh for not going to church. In January 1664, the idea of a High Commission to police compliance and levy fines and suspend ministers was revived, although it’d only last a couple of years; and in April 1664, the Privy Council was joined by one Alexander Burnet, newly made Archbishop of Glasgow. Burnet was not a fence sitter, and not moderate man; and not likely to turn a blind eye for the sake of peace and toleration. He was quoted as saying

that the only way to deal with a fanatic was to starve him’

Which is even harsher. So – Lauderdale was being pushed, pushed hard, pushy pushy. Meanwhile none of this did anything other than make the Episcopalian church more unpopular – and in the SW of Scotland, necks were stiff. None stiffer I might suggest.

Specifically they stuck to the precepts of the Covenant which abjured Prelacy as anti-scriptural and anti-Christian; they would not take the Oath of Supremacy, because Jesus was the head of the church, not the king; and they would not pray for a persecutor of their faith – that’ll be the king again – and they would not abandon assemblies at conventicles to worship, since it was their duty and conscience so to worship. So what were they to do? They could not satisfy both King and God, and the King was master only of their corrupt flesh, not their immortal soul. In this situation, any form of compromise, it has to be said, could prove tricky.

Anyway, who’s talking compromise anyway? The heat of repression kept rising; military force now seemed to be the logical next stage and so one James Turner was dispatched to the South West and Galloway, with government troops. His job was to collect fines from any that refused to go to the official church, and he loved his job did our Jimmy.

Now James Turner was a soldier he’s been through the 30 years war and civil wars and the Engagement, one of those captured near Worcester by the way. I think you have heard from James before – because he wrote some memoires in his retirement and I quoted from one, about the brutality of the 30 Years war, and it’ll give you an idea of Turner’s approach in South West Scotland

I had swallowed without chewing in Germanie a very dangerous maxime which militarie men then too much followed, which was that so we serve our master honestlie it is no matter what master we serve

He was an ends justifies the means sort of bloke essentially. Daniel Defoe described him as a butcher … rather than a soldier

Whereas others spoke of his learning and literary skills. A man of contrasts – but bad news if you were on the wrong side of him.



A lesser known figure our Jimmy nonetheless, but his supporters might claim that Louis XIV, the Sun King, in his massive and exotic palace of Versailles was a fan. Because the Sun King was to adopt a tactic of Jimmy’s in his very own persecution, erasure and expulsion of France’s protestants, the Huguenots, through the 1680s. The idea was to billet your troops in the houses of miscreants.

I can tell you that having soldiers from the Early modern world billeted in your house was not simply an excellent way to expand your horizons and meet interesting new people. Rarely was the money provided for maintaining them anywhere near sufficient or even existent. The soldiers frequently robbed householders, or abused them. It was itself a vicious punishment. By such a tactic would Louis XIV forcibly convert hundreds of thousands of Huguenots to Catholicism. A presbyterian writer gloomily wrote that in this

We were in the fashion before France

It’s not an innovation he was celebrating, as you might guess.

Just to make things work, while all this repression of protestant dissenters was going on, just to rub salt into the Presbyterian wound, very little action appeared to be taken against Catholics; legislation on dissent was supposed to include them of course, and yet they were not enforced with any vigour; often in the North east mass houses were openly frequented by Catholics. Possibly the reason was partly that the numbers were just very different; the numbers of Catholics was tiny, and to no stretch of the imagination did they present a threat to the state therefore.

Whereas Presbyterians did; with the presence of armed militia, the conventiclers took to taking armed men along to their sessions; not compromise or surrender, escalation. Ahah! Thought Rothes and Burnet, Rebellion! Treason! And so more militia arrived, and enforced the rules more severely to stamp out dissent; and so more conventiclers armed themselves…and we are on a ratchet, an ever-escalating vicious circle of violence. Just to add the odd jalapeno to the porridge, from 1665 Charles and the Privy Council were more than a little hysterical about the threat of rebellion – because dissent was taking place against the background now of the Second Anglo Dutch war which lasted from 1665 to 1667. Meanwhile Archbishop Burnet in particular pursued ministers relentlessly if they even showed a smidge of dodgy doctrine or practice.

Something had to give – and so it duly gave. Well, Rothes as it happens was in London in 1666 – telling the king just how under control everything was in Scotland, peaceful, smooth and bright, nothing to see here, please move on, everyone loves you, everyone loves their Privy Council, gosh aren’t we fab – sort of thing. Making sure Charles didn’t know what was going on was important to Rothes, because frankly, he was hardly writing the book on good government. Rothes according to one contemporary, was to

deliver himself without either restraint or decency to all the pleasures of wine and women. He had but one maxim, to which he adhered firmly, that he was to do everything, and deny himself in nothing, that might maintain his greatness, or gratify his appetites

Extra Cheese on his chips I suppose. Rothes was not making himself popular with many to be honest. He was known to be corrupt; he toured the west to enforce the penalties against dissent – and openly took his mistress on the road trip with him, as a sort of office perk, a bit like going with your other half to a sales conference for a few free nights in a fancy hotel I guess. The sight of Lady Anne Gordon at Rothes’ side of course inspired the radical presbyterians to even greater howls of outrage – adultery not being their jam, as it were. Meanwhile Rothes voted against a bill by Lauderdale on taxation in the Convention of Estates – as far as Lauderdale was concerned, Rothes was turning out to be a bit of a liability. This was not how it was supposed to work at all.

Anyway, while Rothes was down doing a spot of whitewashing with his king, something was giving in Kirkudbrightshire, in November 1666. At Dalry Covenanters saw soldiers threatening an elderly man for non-payment of a fine. It was too much – they ripped the soldiers arms from him – that’s his gun, not his actual arms – and this seemed such a good idea, the ripping arms thing, that it spread to neighbouring villages. Before you could say Solemn League and Covenant a group of armed Covenanters had seized on a wizard wheeze – let’s strike the plant at the route – that James Turner, he’s the devil. So there he was at his lodgings in Dumfries doing his thing, when the great persecutor of Covenanters became the great persecuted, and was captured.

Things snowballed, as things will. By this time 700 strong the Gallowegians marched on Glasgow, only to be prevented by a government army commanded by Tam Daziel. And so they changed tack – let us take a petition to Edinburgh they cried – and off they set, hoping to draw in support along the way, and indeed they did so draw, swelling to 1,100, including ministers from as far away as Presbyterian Ireland. All were determined to petition their lords and masters that the persecution had gone too far, and they must come to their aid. In their minds might have been the words of on John Brown, who from exile had written an illegal tract justifying resistance to Charles II to bring their sufferings to an end.

By the time they reached spitting distance of Edinburgh, they could have been 2000 strong when at Colinton they met an informal militia the Edinburgh Fencibles. Together with determined resistance, and ruddy awful weather, the Covenanter band lost half it’s number and fell back on the Pentland Hills. There Tam Daziel caught up with them at Rullion Green on 28th November. Three times their number, the Battle of Rullion Green saw the petitioners – for such they were, rather than rebels – defeated and broken, with 50 killed and 120 captured.

What then followed was not pretty. Many were brought to Edinburgh for questioning and the council used the Boot to extract information. That is not the Boot as in a boot up the backside, this is the boot in the form of a metal contraption fixed to the lower leg, and tightened and tightened until the bones would smash. Tam Dalziel then took 3000 foot and horse soldiers to the south west. They proceeded to make themselves at home – literally, billeted on covenanters. They then exacted fines, used torture, shot people liberally without trial – habeas corpus was again not a thing in Scotland, and so there was less to stop them.

The formal investigation saw 36 executed. There would have been 56 more, but the families of the South west hid them from the soldiers and helped the ring leaders to escape – they were declared fugitives and their lives forfeit. Others were banished to the colonies – a policy that would be increasingly popular of course; at the time, this effectively meant to Barbados and Virginia. The reaction to the Pentland Rising had been brutal; some dissenters returned to church, cowed; most were unbowed. Tracts continued to appear urging resistance. It was pretty obvious that not only was the policy of growing levels of repression brutal – it was also proving ineffective. In July 1668, for example, one of the rebels attempted to assassinate Archbishop James Sharp in retaliation.





I didn’t finish the story about James Turner by the way. He seems to have been treated well enough by the Covenanters. The only torture of which he complained was being forced to submit to interminably long graces at mealtimes – not like our staple grace at school then I assume, which I remember as ‘what we are about to receive, the pigs have just refused’. Even worse was when his captors, asked him to attend a sermon, sermons could take hours, 2 hours would be not untypical. He asked to be fined 40 shillings instead, which is the normal fine for Covenanters not attending church, ha ha how they laughed. Turner in the end escaped, but the Privy Council put the blame on him for the uprising, and he was stripped of his job and he retired to his writings.

So, Lauderdale was clever enough to realise that the policy of repression was not really working, and both the covenanters and possibly he himself had been pushed too far. So he had a word in his king’s shell like. It occurs to me that for the king this must have been an uncomfortable experience; a Whig Historian of the time, Gilbert Burnet, a Scot but also Bishop of Salisbury, commented that Lauderdale’s

Tongue was too big for his mouth which made him bedew all that he talked to

I can’t imagine Charles liking that; I can imagine the conversation

‘Lauderdale here to see you Sah’

‘Marvellous – bring me two glasses of wine and a tea towel’

But Lauderdale had his trust; and so he was able to proceed with confidence, with a fair hope that his king would back him up.

The policy that follows is often described as toleration, or as conciliatory; I’m not sure it qualifies quite as that to be honest. It is a more nuanced policy it’s true, and a sort of olive branch came as part of the package, but at no point did anyone say to the Covenanters ‘ Oh go on, as you were then, you’re all right’.

First, Lauderdale had to get his blockers and hawks on the Privy Council out of the way. He duly fingered Rothes as the cause of all the chaos in the South west, and by 1667 Rothes had been stripped by Charles of all the offices that brought him real power – he was kicked upstairs to Chancellor, even though he protested he couldn’t even read latin and was therefore dreadfully designed for the law. He won’t disappear totally from politics – but he is no longer part of a triumvirate. Alexander Burnet Bishop of Glasgow was next, pressured by Charles to resign – Burnet clung on, but his days were numbered. Militias were reduced and withdrawn, brutality was lessened.

Next Lauderale effectively offered dissenters everywhere a deal; let us return to the aforementioned idea of comprehension, some greater leeway for a range of beliefs and practices, dissenters could be ‘comprehended’ within the kirk as they operated within the parish structure. It took some time, but by 1669, Charles issued a first declaration of Indulgence. It allowed the Privy Council to re-appoint outed ministers, if they accepted the authority of their bishop; 42 ministers were duly re-appointed. The other side of the deal though was the 1669 Act of Supremacy, confirming the king’s authority to act as he would over the church without restraint. Another act was passed giving the king enough money to maintain an army of 22,000; by this, Charles was utterly supreme in Scotland, with total control over the church, and an army to back up his authority. It was indeed an example to be trailed in front of the English parliament as how they might like to behave, if they wouldn’t mind. Lauderdale boasted to Charles that

Never was a king so absolute as you are in poor old Scotland

There is a kicker though. If covenanters didn’t accept the deal of Comprehension and act within the kirk, well then they could expect even greater penalties – in 1669 a series of proclamations made landowners responsible to report conventicles on their land; parishes became collectively responsible for attacks on Episcopalian ministers, there were new higher and exorbitant penalties for non attendance at the official kirk.

The rules about what was and what was not an illegal conventicle were changed, to make it quite difficult to get together at all. So – a conventicle could now be defined as any assembly which involved anyone standing around outside.  This had surprisingly big consequences. It meant anyone could earn a bit of dosh reporting illegal conventicles; also, the rules were changed to incentivise local magistrates. If they caught a conventicle that the local landowner should have reported, they were now allowed to keep all fines levied through the legislation. So this is nasty – clever folk on the make could make a few quid, everyone was on the look out for a nice fat conventicle. So lets say there was a small  conventicle going on in a house,  all above board – if you positioned your mate or soldier outside the door of the  house and your pal then claimed to be part of the conventicle – immediately that quite innocent assembly inside the house could be raided, closed down and fined, because it had apparently taken place outside. And the Dissenters claimed that’s exactly what happened all over. Not conducive any of this, you might agree, to encouraging a flourishing community atmosphere.

My point is that if you are seeking to genuinely bring an end to religious persecution, the policy of comprehension and indulgence was pretty thin gruel.  Ok it was headlined by the Declaration of Indulgence and 42 ministers being admitted back into the church is not nothing; sounds like a small  number, but Scotland is a small place population wise with only 900 parishes.  But it was something of a hobson’s choice – it came wrapped up with such a raft of penalties if you didn’t accept the olive branch you were in even more trouble. And there were so many unpalatable rules such as the act of supremacy, which made it almost impossible to accept, certainly for the more radical presbyterians.

To be fair Lauderdale was treading a thin line – he needed to keep his king believing his was in complete control while keeping the dissenters in line; he saw the policy on unbridled persecution wasn’t working but he had to keep the Episcopalians like James Sharp and Alexander Burnet happy too. The irony has been noted by one historian, that for a state that had embraced a fair impression of an absolutist state, Charles and Lauderdale didn’t really seem to have much more room for manoeuvre.

In the end, the half-arsed policy of comprehension was a bit like Aesop and his donkey; in trying to keep everyone happy, Lauderdale satisfied nobody. The Presbyterians were outraged by the enhanced penalties, and found comprehension deeply unattractive since they would be forced to swear to the act of supremacy – and they did not recognise the King as the head of the kirk, it was in fact God. They continued to desert the established church, armed conventicles grew; some of the ministers readmitted to the church were rejected by their congregations, ‘beaten and stoned away’ as one reported.

The Episcopalians were meanwhile outraged at this moderation and Rothes, Sharp and Burnet protested, and synods drew up remonstrances against the declarations of Indulgence. Lauderdale had used his influence with the king to remove Rothes, now in 1669 Burnet was finally removed as AB of Glasgow and replaced by a moderate, Robert Leighton, but still Episcopalians objected, and felt the national church had been undermined. As early as 1672 it began to look as though this salami thin slice of moderation, was neither fish nor fowl, just to mix my metaphors.

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