The History of Leith

May 21, 2013

The occupation by Cromwell

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
as the occupation by Cromwell. Ever}7 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 wellknown
character of the Protector.)

source-South Leith Records

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