Cromwellian Political Prisoners Essay example

Submitted By nmcleod91120
Words: 1932
Pages: 8

This presentation is going to look at the notion of scots soldiers as political prisoners, mainly under Cromwellian rule and the battle of Dunbar in 1650. I’ll look at why the battle occurred, how the prisoners were treated and what was done with them when they arrived in the Americas.

Scottish immigration to America was sporadic but continuous, in general in was largely dependant on the political climate in both Scotland and England. Deportation was used as a way for the Scottish government to get rid of political unrest.
This resulted in a large number of political prisoners being shipped off to the colonies.
Banishment to the colonies was originally only possible if a major crime had been committed and the sentence was seen as suitable by the privy council. In 1971, the Court of justiciary was given the ability to do so as well. Several events brought vast numbers of political prisoners to the colonies. The aftermath of the Scottish civil war resulted in thousands of soldiers as prisoners to Virginia, new England and the Caribbean. In may of 1956 around 1200 were shipped out of Scotland under Cromwellian rule.

During the 1640s radical religious and political changes were occurring in Scotland. The Scots were deeply loyal to the kirk, also known as the Presbyterian church of Scotland and King Charles I who came to the throne in 1625 was trying to interfere with the internal workings of the Kirk. As a result, Scottish noblemen and commoners signed a document in 1638 called the national covenant. This meant that they agreed to resist Charles proposed reforms. The power of the Covenanters was to grow over the course of the next decade or so and in September 1648, THE KIRK PARTY, a fanatical branch of the convenanters seized power.

Religion and politics were inseperable in seventeenth century Europe. Religious conscience dictated how an individual acted and to compromise this was regarded as heresy. Although in personal circumstances the is generally a good thing, when applied to politics and government it often resulted in narrow mindedness regarding policy.

The act of classes is an example of such narrow minded policy making, this was passed by the Kirk party on the fourth of January 1649, it banned the kirks political opponents from the government and the army. Many of those who were barred were veterans of the civil wars, it seemed that loyalty to the kirk was more important to the country than military experience.

In the January of 1649, Charles is executed and the scots dubbed his son Charles the second as their king. The hope was that if they championed Charles that he in turn would convert to Presbyterianism and submit to the control of the kirk party. Charles the second negotiated conditions for his return whilst in exile in France and finally accepted the Convenanters terms and so arrived back in Scotland in june 1650. He tolereated the Kirks party rule as he needed the support of its members, His plan was to regain the English throne and then then take back his agreements with the kirk party under the argument that they had been made under duress.

The unstable situation was an issue for Anglo-Scottish relations. Scotland had been free to crown Charles just as England had the right to become a republic. Coincidentally, on the day that Charles returned to Scotland, The English council of state met and had come to the conclusion that the enemy was Charles and not the Kirk party or the Scottish people. A decision was made to strike at Charles in an attempt to eliminate him and establish a pro English government in Scotland.

Dispite the apparent threat from Charles, Englands cheif military leader at the time, Lord General Thomas Fairfax opposed the plan to evade Scotland on the grounds that they had formerly been close allies and so he voluntarily resigned command of the army. This was when Oliver Cromwell was given to post and was to lead the proposed invasion. He set off to Scotland