The History of Leith

June 6, 2011

Cromwell and Leith

7 Julie 1650.—There was no Session holdine from ye 7 of Julie 1650 until the 26 of December 1651, be reasone of the great troubles and warrs betwixt Scotland and England. The Scots armie lying in Leigour (i.e., leaguer) in Leith and about it, and after the defeat at Dunbar the ministers and most part of all ye honest people fled out the toun for fear of ye enemie.
(Note.—This Minute begins a new era in our history, and indeed there is no event connected with our church which is so popularly known or discussed a= the occupation by Cromwell. Every author who
has written upon the history of Leith has expressed views, one way or the other, upon the tradition that Cromwell converted South Leith Church into a stable for his troopers. It will be found that the Minutes are, unfortunately, lacking in details, but while they may not bear out this tradition in so many words, they make it plain that the church was utilized for ordinary warlike purposes. Into the general history of the time it is not possible to enter. General Leslie mustered the Scotch army of 40,000 men on the Links in -July 1650; at the end of this month King Charles II. visited the army, and took up his residence for a time in Lord Balmerino’s house at the foot of the Kirkgate; on 2nd September following Cromwell gained the battle of Dunbar, and marched upon Edinburgh and Leith. He subjected the latter town to a monthly assessment, and after his return to England General Monk, his lieutenant-general, maintained a large garrison permanently in Leith, which was the headquarters of the Cromwellian Executive in Scotland.Cromwell’s difficulties in Scotland arose almost entirely through the clergy, who were firmly attached to the cause of the monarchy. No doubt this fact explains the harsh treatment meted out to the Church, a treatment singularly out of keeping with the well known character of the Protector.}

Source-South Leith Records

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