The History of Leith

March 15, 2011

Cromwell and South Leith

When the, troops of Cromwell occupied Leith, as the parish registers record, Major Pearson, the town major of the garrison, by order of Timothy Wiikes, the English governor-depute, went to James Stevenson, the kirk aeasurer.and demanded the keys
of St, Mary’s, informing him that no Scots ministerwas to preach till further orders ; so eventually the people had to hear sermons on the Links, with difficulty getting the gates open, from seven in the morning till two in the afternoon on Sunday,
In 1656 they scot a petition to Cromwell in England, praying him ” to restore the church, as there is no place to meet in but the open fields.”
To this petition no answer seems to have been returned; but daring thus period there are, says Robertson, in his “Antiquities of Leith,” indicatioe adds, ” that at this time St Mary’s was conns that Oliver’s own chaplains, and even his officers, conducted services in St, Mary’s church, “It has often been asserted,” hverted into a stable to accommodate the steeds of the troopers of Cromwell; it has been added, a company of his Ironsides, with their right hands {their horses), abased the temple.’ No authority exists for this, save vague tradition, to which the reader may attach what importance
he may deem fit.”

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