Oliver Cromwell: a Scottish perspective

by Dr Laura A M Stewart

Synopsis by Serrie Meakins

Dr Stewart examines the reasons why Cromwell is remembered as a brutal murderer in Ireland yet constantly forgotten in 17th century Scotland history, despite the fact that he arguably introduced an unparalleled degree of justice, order and religious freedom to Scotland. Useful for broadening knowledge generally and or questions on the Multiple Kingdoms.


Oliver Cromwell stands as one of England’s most remarkable rulers. England has experienced only one short-lived experiment in republican government. It followed on from years of civil war and was effected through the judicial execution of Charles I. The leading part played by Cromwell in these events, as a military commander, member of parliament, and signatory to a king’s death warrant, would alone have secured his place in student textbooks. Equally as important is the way in which the surviving evidence has allowed successive generations to construct a Cromwell for their times; ambiguities surround his own utterances and writings, making his motives a topic of endless debate, while the manner in which he accrued power has divided opinion since his own lifetime.1 Indeed, the fact that a minor landowner rose to become the most powerful man in England, and in his own right rather than by birthright, has ensured Oliver Cromwell’s enduring fascination for scholars and the general public alike.

Cromwell is regarded very differently in Ireland. By the seventeenth century, Ireland had been an English dependency for centuries, but the complexity of the religious and ethnic divisions in Irish society made it almost impossible to govern effectively according to London-based ideas about civility and order. After the Catholic risings of October 1641, Ireland was plunged into a highly complicated and destructive civil war. In the aftermath of Charles I’s execution, his son, Prince Charles, looked to use the resources of that country as a means to reclaim his throne in England. These hopes were dashed by Cromwell, who led an English army across the Irish Sea in August 1649. By the spring of the following year, the eastern seaboard had been subjugated to English military rule. The manner in which this was achieved has generated intense controversy ever since. What happened at Drogheda and Wexford were massacres, regardless of the scholarly sparring about how, why, and to whom they happened. Thereafter, Ireland was treated as a subject colony. Some two-thirds of Ireland’s profitable land was in Catholic hands on the eve of the rebellion. By the 1660s, after much of it had been redistributed to English soldiers and adventurers, this figure had dropped to under one-third. This effected a permanent revolution in Irish society, by creating an English-speaking Protestant landowning class that shared little cultural common ground with its Gaelic-speaking Catholic tenancy. Regardless of scholarly debates on these issues, the public perception of Cromwell amongst Irish people is almost universally negative. Cromwell is seen as simply the most ruthless and effective of a long line of Englishmen who had come to Ireland with the express intention of extirpating Gaelic culture. The 1650s therefore has an important place for many Irish people in the larger narrative of the Republic’s ultimately successful struggle for national self-determination.2

Cromwell’s reputation is different again in Scotland. September 3rd is also the anniversary of two successive defeats of Scottish armies by Cromwell, at Dunbar in 1650 and Worcester in 1651. The latter victory was of decisive importance for the nascent English republic. With the obliteration of this predominantly Scottish force, led in person by Charles II, almost the entire archipelago came under English military control. Charles II was forced to flee from what he considered to be his own dominions for the safety, and impotency, of exile. The independent kingdom of Scotland was forcibly incorporated into a commonwealth with England, but it was not, in any straightforward sense, treated as a subject colony. Nonetheless, given that Scotland’s early and precocious sense of its nationhood was, in large measure, informed by reactions against English pretentions to archipelagic dominion, it might be assumed that Cromwell’s conquest of Scotland would see him raised up as a bogeyman in modern Scottish culture.

Why is it not so? Three-and-a-half centuries on, Cromwell’s name is barely mentioned in Scotland and the English occupation has almost no resonance in the wider public imagination. Unlike the Jacobite risings in the next century, which left behind such relics of military domination as General Wade’s roads, the stark ruin of Ruthven barracks at Kingussie, and the formidable garrison at Fort George near Arderseir, the seventeenth-century occupation generated almost no physical legacy. After the restoration of the British monarchy, Charles II commanded the destruction of all the major fortifications built by the English in Scotland and almost nothing of them remains. The visitor to Edinburgh’s port of Leith can seek out the citadel that guarded it for several years in the mid-1650s. He or she will find an arched gateway tucked discreetly behind a later building and edging onto the car park belonging to Tiso, the outdoor specialists. Tiso has not – perhaps disappointingly – sought to give this decayed remnant a new lease of life by making it the United Kingdom’s most historically interesting climbing wall. Cromwell and the occupation have been quietly forgotten north of the border but, as I hope to suggest here, Scotland’s collective bout of amnesia is not simply or simplistically the obvious response to a prickly truth: Cromwell, unlike the ‘hammer of the Scots’, King Edward I, was not sent ‘hameward tae think again’.3 As we will see, the way in which Scotland was incorporated into the English commonwealth meant that its peoples experienced English rule very differently from their neighbours in Ireland. Later developments, notably the (more or less) peaceful incorporation of Scotland into a long-lasting and, in many respects, very successful political union with England after 1707, have militated against any straightforward narrative of a valiant national struggle against English dominance.

It is worth pausing to reflect on why Scotland and Ireland ought not to be lumped together, as they often are, in discussions of the Cromwellian union. Scottish and Irish society are often thought to be similar and there are affinities between their respective peoples, but the differences between them are equally as important. Scottish Protestant settlers arriving in Ulster in the early seventeenth century complicated an already fragmented society; they regarded with hostility the Scotto-Irish Gaels who had been moving for centuries back and forth across the narrow waters separating northern Ireland from the Scottish western seaboard. Lowland Scots spoke a language that could be understood in England, although with increasing difficulty the further south one travelled, while their religion, social structures, and political institutions shared far greater similarities with England’s than with Highland Gaeldom’s (or the Norse-influenced islands of Orkney and Shetland). During the 1650s, a House of Commons populated by English gentlemen, who were largely ignorant of the rest of the archipelago and preoccupied by a plethora of other pressing issues, often treated Scotland and Ireland as ‘a single entity’. Yet such an approach was not wholly incompatible with the existence of differing perceptions about the Scots and Irish.4 Tacit acknowledgement amongst the English governing elite that Ireland and Scotland were not, in fact, so very similar goes part way to explaining why the experience of occupation was different in each country.

That the Scottish public should be largely oblivious of the English occupation is regrettable but perhaps not surprising. Nobody likes to be reminded of defeat. Scholarly approaches to the Cromwellian period, however, are more complex. At the end of the nineteenth century, when the British empire was at its zenith, English historians viewed themselves as members of a society uniquely blessed in its attainment of liberty and duty bound to extend those blessings to the benighted peoples inhabiting the rest of the globe. The Scots had been amongst the first of many proud, if backward, peoples to see the benefits of having the ‘privileges of Englishmen’ extended unto them. Unlike the Irish, the Scots also had the good sense to appreciate the point.5 Scottish scholars tended to agree: from around the middle of the eighteenth century, the incorporating union with England effected in 1707 came to be depicted as the means by which Scotland had attained its prosperity, secured the true reformed faith from the machinations of foreign Catholic powers, and embedded the liberties associated with Britain’s unique constitutional monarchy. Scotland’s over-mighty feudal magnates, it was thought, could not have been relied on to do the job, at least in part because the country’s putatively weak institutions of governance and law had historically provided few checks on their power. David Hume, the philosopher and historian, argued a century after the occupation that Oliver Cromwell had given Scotland, for the first time, justice, order, and freedom from religious fanaticism.6 It was a view that would not be seriously challenged for another two hundred years.

As late as the 1970s and 1980s, Scottish historians continued to see seventeenth-century England as a benchmark of progressive religious, governmental, and constitutional development, against which their own country was found wanting. Although Cromwell’s commitment to toleration did not extend to Catholics or certain sects, many historians regarded the policy as a necessary and welcome stepping-stone on the road to a modern secular society. By contrast, Scotland’s Presbyterian church, or kirk, seemingly possessed a unique capacity for oppressing people. The introduction of toleration to Scotland must, therefore, have been an all-too brief but merciful release from tyrannising clerics. In government, the putatively strong, centralised regime imposed by the English was regarded far more favourably than the indigenous structures of lordship with which the Scots were familiar. Echoes of David Hume resonate particularly in the work of Scotland’s respected scholar, William Ferguson. Incorporation into the English republic augured not only administrative efficiency, but also the ‘social justice’ that had hitherto been denied the Scottish people. Cromwell’s regime was apparently ‘remarkable for its vision and its idealism’:7 a phrase that will surely never grace the pages of even the most determinedly revisionist account of Cromwellian Ireland.

In more recent times, historians have become more circumspect about the putative benefits of the English invasion. Frances Dow’s meticulous and, as yet, unsurpassed study of Cromwellian Scotland cut the military regime down to size, by showing that no early modern government, least of all one that was chronically short of money, could possibly have achieved the levels of efficiency attributed to it. ‘Conciliation and co-operation’ blunted the weapons of reform that the English had initially hoped to wield, especially against alien legal frameworks that they found almost completely baffling.8 Important work by Patrick Little has fleshed out Dow’s analysis. His emphasis on attempts to reintegrate Scottish elites into government is suggestive to this writer, not of growing confidence, but an ongoing struggle to stabilise and legitimise the enforced union with England.9 By granting formal representation to Scotland at Westminster, the regime generated the fiction that the Scots had consented to incorporation, as subordinate partners within a new, pan-archipelagic order. Achievements were very limited, however, and the tender of union was not, in fact, formally ratified until April 1657. Many of the representatives sent to attend what turned out to be a handful of short-lived parliamentary sessions were English military men, whose legitimacy surely remained questionable amongst the populace at large. Meanwhile, the republic’s key decision-making body, the Council of State, had no place for Scotsmen. Government, as it was experienced on a daily basis by Scottish people, remained essentially government by garrison.

Overall, appraisals of the English occupation in Scotland have received a level of positive approbation, and escaped a degree of condemnation, that would be impossible in an Irish context. The most negative assessments have been put forward by those historians whose concern is less with what happened in the 1650s than the legacy of occupation. Allan Macinnes has asserted that the English invasion created ‘a sense of defeatism that reverberated to the Union of 1707 and beyond’. Christopher Whatley claimed that the occupation was burned into the collective memory of the 1707 generation, whose inability to ignore the experience tacitly undermined the Scottish negotiating position when Queen Anne’s administration demanded a full incorporating union.10 My own sense, as I have argued elsewhere, is that the occupation generated a more ambiguous – and potentially more intriguing – set of responses than defeatism. The next section of the paper considers how the nature of both the invasion and the occupation influenced subsequent interpretations of its historical significance. Cromwell the man seems even more elusive to the reader of Scottish rather than English sources, yet there can be little doubt that the unique character of the occupation was framed, in significant measure, by Cromwell’s own attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour.


Cromwell’s interactions with Scottish people began, not with the invasion campaign of 1650, but the English civil war. A Scottish army crossed the Tweed in January 1644 at the behest of the English parliament and, for the next three years, Scots and English would fight alongside one another as allies. Almost from those first encounters, however, the Anglo-Scottish relationship was complicated by diverging ideas about the future of the English church. England’s presbyterians saw Scotland providing a model for reform, but others looked with dismay on the prospect of a church as uniform in its disciplinary structures as what had preceded it in the 1630s.Although English independents shared some broad affinities, in doctrine and worship, with presbyterians, they remained fundamentally divided on the extent to which congregations ought to decide their own practices. For presbyterians, independency was the door to schism and heresy, while independents regarded the presbyterian hierarchy as a barrier to true knowledge of God. By the autumn of 1644, the Scottish commissioners then resident in London were beginning to note with alarm the increasing prominence of Oliver Cromwell and his ‘partie’ of independents. Robert Baillie, the presbyterian cleric, summed up how many godly Scots may have felt about this enigmatic individual. He reported that the Englishman was thought to be a ‘wise and active head, universallie well beloved, as religious and stout; being a known Independent, the most of the sojours who loved new ways putt themselves under his command’. Baillie’s fear was that the talented and charismatic Cromwell, rather than the Scottish army, would decide the outcome of the civil war; the prize he sought, to the horror of all presbyterians, was ‘a libertie for all religions’.11

Scottish men and women were offered another opportunity to view Oliver Cromwell in the autumn of 1648, this time on home ground. Cromwell had since become, as Baillie had warned, one of the outstanding military and political forces in the country. That summer, a faction of Scottish nobles, known as Engagers (after the Engagement signed with the king the previous year), attempted to rescue King Charles from the independent-dominated new model army. They were defeated in battle by Cromwell, who promptly marched into Scotland in order to secure the return to power of the anti-Engagers, often known as the ‘Whiggamores’. Likely topics of conversation when Cromwell met and dined with leading Scottish politicians in Edinburgh have tantalised historians ever since. David Stevenson has rightly dismissed the unfounded suggestion that Cromwell took this opportunity to confide his thoughts on regicide to – of all people! – the presbyterian Scotland de facto leader of the government, Archibald Campbell, Marquis ofArgyll.12 Cromwell made ‘bold to testify for that noble Lord the Marquis’, whom, with others, he called ‘Christians and men of honour’.13 Argyll’s thoughts about his new friend do not appear to have survived.

When Cromwell next encountered Scottish men and women, it was as invader and conqueror. Cromwell’s famous appeal to presbyterian Scots to ‘think it possible you may be mistaken?’ rings a seductive note to modern ears but, at the time, most of the inhabitants of the British Isles thought it was Cromwell who was mistaken. He had been a prime mover in the execution of the king and, regardless of the trouble Charles I had caused, it was widely thought not to be Cromwell’s prerogative to hold God’s anointed to account. Now Cromwell sought to make war on the Scots, who were a protestant people and, moreover, ‘brethren’, which some, including Sir Thomas Fairfax, regarded as bound with the English in Covenant withGod.14 Cromwell was more astute, perhaps, in his assessment of the threat Scotland undoubtedly posed to the nascent English republic. Its parliament had reacted to Charles I’s death by declaring his son, as the son thought himself rightfully to be, successor to all his father’s dominions. Perhaps some Scots were tempted to give up Charles to avoid war with Cromwell, but it would have been difficult to defend the repudiation of the king who, unlike his father, was prepared to sign the Covenants. However reluctant and insincere Charles’s actions, he was, at least, the legitimate monarch. Leaving Argyll and his friends as puppet rulers for a regicidal English military regime, no doubt with English soldiers indefinitely stationed in Scotland just to remind them of the point, was not attractive, even to Argyll, who threw his political weight behind Charles’s cause. It was Argyll who placed the Scottish crown on Charles’s head in a threadbare ceremony held on 1 January 1651. The ancient coronation site of Scone in Perthshire was selected as much for its distance from the army that now occupied the capital, Edinburgh, as its symbolic significance.15

Cromwell could now have secured his place in the annals of Scottish infamy by staging a few wanton, unusual, and highly publicised acts of brutality, preferably involving defenceless women and children. With the exception of a very particular event at Dundee in August 1651, which has never resonated for modern Scots in the way that Drogheda continues to do for the Irish, English troops were actively dissuaded by their commanders from mistreating the Scottish people. Estimated casualties, both on and beyond the battlefields, compare favourably with the destructive royalist rising in themid-1640s led by the Scot, James Graham, Marquis of Montrose, and the Irish Gael, Alasdair MacColla. Cromwell appears to have believed that the Scots were godly but misguided and, therefore, did not warrant the treatment meted out to the Catholic Irish. There were also strategic considerations, of which strict discipline amongst his own army represented another component. During an exhausting year-long campaign, Cromwell sought to persuade the Scottish people to renounce Charles II. To this end, Cromwell engaged in debate with Scottish clerics and politicians about the legitimacy of their respective positions, both in person and in print. His behaviour, as reported in Scottish sources, once again conveys the sense of an inscrutable character. What are we to make of the story that the regicidal invader sat quietly in a Glasgow church, while its minister bade the congregation pray for his enemy, King Charles II? What impression did Cromwell make on one Lady Ingliston, whom he met several times in 1651to discuss religious matters?16 His influence on Scottish opinion has, perhaps, been overstated by historians who are more familiar with Cromwell’s words than those of his Scottish contemporaries. An English invader was probably less influential than Scotland’s clerics, a minority of whom argued forcefully that the ‘sectaries’, as they referred to Cromwell’s army, would only be expelled by God once the Scots displayed their sincerity about rooting out the so-called ‘malignants’ surrounding the king.17

Cromwell left Scotland in August 1651 in pursuit of the Scottish army that he would defeat at Worcester on 3 September. He never returned. During the rest of his life, both his personal contacts with Scots and his direct involvement in Scottish affairs were understandably constrained by the amount of attention that necessarily had to be given to the settlement of the commonwealth. Disinterest or preoccupation with other things were not, however, the only reasons behind the limited nature of the legacy Cromwell bequeathed to Scotland. There are two key ways in which Cromwell could have had a lasting influence on Scotland. A sustained attempt to break both the power of the landed elite and the hegemony of the presbyterian kirk could have transformed Scottish society forever. As David Stevenson has commented, however, the English republican regime had not ‘planned to conquer Scotland’ until forced into it by circumstance and, hence, its leaders had ‘no ready-made plans for what to do with their prize’.18 Scotland’s military governors quickly came to appreciate that managing a peaceable and stable country, rather than reshaping it in the English republic’s image, was an ambitious enough goal in itself.


It must have seemed obvious to the military commanders who, from the autumn of 1651, found themselves running an alien country, that the easiest and best way to govern Scotland was to make it more like England. One of the principle stumbling blocks to this aspiration was the perception that Scotland’s nobility exercised almost untrammelled power over their tenants and dependants. Hence, heritable jurisdictions, along with all forms of vassalage, were almost immediately outlawed. The central law courts were abolished. Military tribunals were set up instead, which were later replaced by a commission for the administration of civil justice, and a circuit court to deal with criminal cases.19

This attempted reordering of Scottish society neither elicited the expected expressions of gratitude from the people, nor prevented the eruption of a serious, if ultimately unsuccessful, rising spearheaded by William Cunningham, 4th Earl of Glencairn. Robert Lilburne, supreme commander of the army in Scotland from the beginning of 1653 until his replacement by George Monck the following year, expressed his perplexity at the attitude of the Scots. ‘Hardly any of these people will appeare either to give us intelligence, or doe any thing for preserving the peace’, he grumbled. They ‘have a deadely antipathy gainst us, though I thinke I may truely say it they have had from the generality of us a very large share of civillityes.’20

Glencairn’s rising exposed the dangers of alienating the landed elite in a conquered country where even lesser landowners and prosperous tenants, who might see gains for themselves in such developments, were not prepared to accept gifts from the hands of conquerors. One anonymous parliamentarian, speaking on the proposed Union Bill in November 1656,represented what must surely have been relatively commonplace English opinion about the regime’s obligations in Scotland. Spurred on by their‘ care’ for ‘the security and pease [sic] of these nations’, England’s rulers now had an opportunity to put the Scots ‘in a condition which promiseth much improvement and advantage to them’. Happiness, riches, and improved rents had hitherto eluded a people whose ‘miseries’ were the fault, not of occupation, but ‘the unlemited power’ of the indigenous landed elite. In union alone lay the hope that English-style justice would, at last, flow ‘in an equall channell’ from one end of the commonwealth to the other.21

Back in Scotland, political realities were far out of line with the rhetoric ringing around the rafters in Westminster. Amongst military governors who were perpetually ‘in great straightes for monie’,22 it quickly became apparent that indebted estates, abandoned by desperate landowners who were busy rebelling in the Highlands, were not productive estates. Crucially, they did not yield much in the way of taxes. In the wake of Glencairn’s rising, thee states of 24 leading families were declared forfeit, but protections against sequestration and confiscation had already been extended, as in Ireland, to those persons below the top ranks of society who were prepared to accept English rule. When swingeing fines were also imposed on 73 families, the regime backtracked almost immediately by reducing or discharging the sums for all but the most incorrigible enemies of the regime.23 Meanwhile, some of Scotland’s distinctive organs of local government, notably baron courts and town councils, were allowed to resume at least some of their normal functions. It ultimately proved impossible to eliminate Scots law, lest the entire edifice of local government and, most importantly, property ownership, fell apart; consequently, the English were increasingly forced to make use of the trained experts, Scotland’s lawyers, who understood it. By the mid-1650s, the imperatives of political and fiscal stability had persuaded the English regime tacitly to abandon the attempt to remodel Scottish society.

Much the same can be said about English religious policy. There is little doubt that, for a small body of Scots, the experience of toleration – almost unthinkable at any time since Reformation – was a life-changing experience. Separatist ideas had come to Scotland as early as the 1580s, carried on the lips of the English divine Robert Brown, but they do not seem to have achieved wide influence.24 English sectarians and their preachers may have been regarded by some Scots as an exciting novelty when they arrived after1650, especially in those areas were regular religious activity had been disrupted in the disturbed conditions of the previous half-decade. Yet few, perhaps no more than a few hundred individuals in widely scattered congregations, seem to have been prepared to abandon entirely the familiar rituals enacted in their parish churches. In many places, the weekly round of activities, centred on the parish church, which included dealing with a wide range of community issues as well as the usual formal services, probably continued much as before. The continuity and stability offered by the kirk, despite the bitter in-fighting at its highest levels, recommended itself in obvious ways to the English regime. There was no systematic assault on the kirk’s hierarchy of local courts or purging of its pulpits.

Those features which made the Scottish church presbyterian in government, and reformed (or calvinist) in doctrine, remained largely intact. It is true that the church’s governing body, the general assembly, was closed down in July 1653. This was mainly the result of the assembly’s refusal to censure those parish ministers who were routinely embarrassing the regime by using their pulpits to proclaim that monarchy still had the divine seal of approval. In the longer term, the experience of toleration was of less significance for Scottish religious culture than the National Covenant, which not only continued to influence the kirk itself, but also the secessionist movements of the eighteenth century. Only the Quakers, it might be argued, possessed the sufficiently distinctive spiritual vision (and the numbers) needed to survive as a coherent sect in the harsher climate of the Restoration era.25


It would be ludicrous to argue that Cromwell’s decision to invade Scotland had no historical significance, or that ten years of military conquest left no lasting legacy. Nonetheless, it is curious that the Scots seem so much less interested in Cromwell than their Irish and English neighbours. The answers suggested here are, fittingly, as complex as the man himself. Cromwell’s personal influence on what was, by contemporary standards, a remarkably controlled invasion reflected a wide sense of confusion and doubt about the Scots, their religious beliefs, and their influence on England’s affairs. David Leslie, the highly capable commander who was out-manoeuvred by Cromwell at Dunbar, had faced the same enemy as the Englishman, from the same side of the moor at Marston, only half a decade earlier. It is probable that Cromwell genuinely saw war between two protestant peoples as unnecessary, but it was the Scots who were expected to do something about it and make the compromises. Having neutralised the threat posed by Scotland, Cromwell then failed to articulate a vision for the commonwealth that required a positive response from the Scots, or sought compromise with Scottish difference. With so little opportunity to contribute to the forging of this new union, it is not surprising that Scotland has largely been written out of Cromwell’s story, and Cromwell out of Scotland’s. The future of the Anglo-Scottish relationship lay in negotiation, not military subjugation, and in respecting Scotland’s indigenous political and social values, not imposing English ones at the end of a gun. In many ways, as Ronald Hutton has suggested, the 1707 union represented a repudiation of its Cromwellian predecessor.26

It is true that Cromwell did not kill many Scots, although it seems peculiar to praise someone for failing to be a murdering tyrant. His ambivalent attitude towards Covenanted Scotland’s unique religious culture is significant, particularly when compared to the occasionally very violent attempts to extirpate it after 1660. Cromwell chose not to dismantle the presbyterian kirk in order to give Independent congregations sufficient space to flourish. He did seek a fundamental reordering of local power structures and social relations, the rationale for which drew on what English elites saw as Scotland’s backwardness, weakness, and impoverishment. This caricature is wheeled out, perhaps, when English elites feel threatened: the current Scottish-led critique of the union correlates with the reappearance of that very old and familiar stereotype, the impoverished Scot.27 In the mid seventeenth century, the Scots were a threat to Cromwell. Downplaying this point, by assuming that the triumph of the new model army was something of an inevitability, surely does Cromwell’s tenacity, tactical intelligence, and capacity for risk-taking, a disservice. A rewrite of the Cromwellian moment from a fresh Scottish perspective may, therefore, give us fresh ideas about Cromwell and his contested reputation. Perhaps Scottish scholars have been dissuaded from the task because of an intellectual climate that reduces academic work to a set of ‘economic and societal impacts’.28 Why publish the book or lead the research project about a historical figure who seems to have such little bearing on modern Scottish, or even British, public life? Yet the historically-specific ambiguities, dilemmas, and uncomfortable truths suggested by the Scottish perspective on Cromwell are exactly why the topic requires further attention. The history that is not written warts and all cannot be worth the writing.

1 Barry Coward, The Stuart Age: England, 1603-1714 (3rd edn, London, 2003), 253.
2 T.C. Barnard, Cromwellian Ireland: English Government and Reform in Ireland, 1649-1660 (new edn, Oxford, 2000). This important work argues that the English presence in Ireland was not defined exclusively by violence, p.vii. It provides a thought-provoking counterweight to Micheál Ó Siochrú, God’s Executioner: Oliver Cromwell and the Conquest of Ireland (London, 2008).
3 ‘The Flower of Scotland’, written by Roy Williamson, is widely regarded as Scotland’s ‘unofficial’ national anthem and sung at sporting events.
4 Patrick Little and David L. Smith, Parliaments and Politics during the Cromwellian Protectorate (Cambridge, 2007), 268.
5 G.M. Trevelyan, England Under the Stuarts (London and New York, new edn, 2002), 177. See also S.R. Gardiner, History of the Commonwealth and Protectorate, 1649-1660 (3 vols, London and New York, 1894), ii, 65.
6 The essential text is Colin Kidd, Subverting Scotland’s Past: Scottish Whig Historians and the Creation of an Anglo-British Identity, 1689-c.1830 (Cambridge, 1993).
7 Rosalind Mitchison, Lordship to Patronage: Scotland 1603-1745 (Edinburgh, 1983), 63-5. William Ferguson, Scotland’s Relations with England: A Survey to 1707 (Edinburgh, 1977), 138, 140.
8 Frances D. Dow, Cromwellian Scotland 1651-1660 (Edinburgh, 1979), 179.
9 Patrick Little, Lord Broghill and the Cromwellian Union with Ireland and Scotland (Woodbridge, 2004).
10 Allan I. Macinnes, Union and Empire: The Making of the United Kingdom in 1707 (Cambridge, 2007), 75. Christopher A. Whatley with Derek J. Patrick, The Scots and the Union (Edinburgh, 2006), 96.
11Letters and Journals of Robert Baillie, ed. D. Laing (3 vols, Edinburgh, 1841), ii, 229-30, 246.
12 David Stevenson, Revolution and Counter Revolution in Scotland, 1644-51 (Edinburgh, 2nd edn, 2003), 104.
13 Cromwell to Speaker Lenthall, 2 Oct. 1648, in W.C. Abbott, The Writings and Speeches of Oliver Cromwell (4 vols, Cambridge, Mass., 1937-47), i, 660.
14 At Whitehall, 24 Jun. 1650, Abbott, Writings and Speeches, ii, 269; To The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland … [Edinburgh, 1650].
15The National Covenant of 1638, and the Solemn League and Covenant, agreed by the Scottish and English parliaments in 1643, both committed signatories to the principle of monarchic government.
16 Kirsteen M. MacKenzie, ‘Cromwell and the Solemn League and Covenant of the Three Kingdoms’ in Patrick Little, ed., Oliver Cromwell: New Perspectives (Basingstoke, 2009), 158-9. Diary of Sir Archibald Johnston of Wariston, volume II, 1650-1654, ed. D.H. Fleming (Edinburgh, 1919), 88.
17 Cf. Coward, Stuart Age, 249. Wariston, 48. A seasonable and necessary warning concerning present dangers and duties, from the commissioners of the Generall Assembly … (Edinburgh, 1650). For the punishment of collaborators, see
John Nicoll, A Diary of Public Transactions and other Occurrences, chiefly in Scotland, from January 1650 to June 1667, ed. D. Laing (Edinburgh, 1836), 25, 27-8.
18 David Stevenson, ‘Cromwell, Scotland and Ireland’ in John Morrill, ed., Oliver Cromwell and the English Revolution (Harlow, 1990), 162.
19Dow, Cromwellian Scotland, 25, 36, 53, 55-7.
20 Lilburne to Cromwell, 15 Nov. 1653, in Scotland and the Commonwealth: Letters and Papers relating to the Military Government of Scotland, from August 1651 to December 1653, ed. C.H. Firth (Edinburgh, 1895), 271.
21 A speech on the union between England and Scotland, 4 Nov. 1656, in Scotland and the Protectorate: Letters and Papers relating to the Military Government of Scotland from January 1654 to June 1659, ed. C.H. Firth (Edinburgh, 1899), 333-6.
22 Lilburne to Lambert, 7 Jan. 1654, in Scotland and the Protectorate, 13.
23 Dow, Cromwellian Scotland, 157-9.
24Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith, ed. D.K. McKim (Louisville, Kentucky and Edinburgh, 1992), 40-1, 69.
25 Callum G. Brown, Religion and Society in Scotland since 1707 (Edinburgh, 1997), 15-16, 22-5, 28-30.
26 Ronald Hutton, Debates in Stuart History (Basingstoke, 2004), 94.
27The Scottish government is committed to presenting a referendum on independence to residents of Scotland in 2014. For the latest of many caricatures depicting Scotland as an impoverished land, see The Economist, 14 Apr. 2012.
28 http://www.rcuk.ac.uk/documents/impacts/RCUKPathwayspresention.pdf.

Note: I would like to thank Patrick Little for inviting me to address the Cromwell Association on 3rd September 2011. For a more thorough analysis of issues summarised here, including a fuller treatment of the historiography, see my chapter ‘Cromwell and the Scots’ in Jane Mills, ed., Cromwell’s Legacy (Manchester, 2012).

Dr Laura Stewart is senior lecturer in early modern British history at Birkbeck, University of London. She is currently working on a new study of Scottish political culture during the 1640s.

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