Act for putting the kingdom in a posture of defence

Whereas by many laudable acts of parliament all the subjects of the kingdom are ordained to be sufficiently armed and to be in readiness for repressing internal insurrections and opposing foreign invasion, likewise the estates of this kingdom at their last meeting in September 1643, taking into their consideration the imminent dangers of the true Protestant religion, his majesty's person and authority and peace of his kingdoms by the multitude of papists, prelates and their adherents now in arms in England and Ireland, and the occasion thereby given not only to the public enemies of religion abroad but even to any disaffected persons at home to labour (so far as in them lies) to subvert the religion and peace now happily established in this kingdom, did find it necessary that all means be speedily used for preventing the practices of such, for preserving the peace and keeping his majesty's subjects in a dutiful obedience to the laws and public judicatories and in Christian unity amongst themselves, and did therefore ordain that the kingdom should be presently put in a posture of defence, and did nominate and choose certain persons to be colonels of horse and foot and appoint committees within the several sheriffdoms and bounds of this kingdom to that effect, with power to them to take special trial and make perfect lists of the whole fencible persons between 60 and 16 within their shires for foot or horse, and to have a special care to see them provided with arms. And the estates now presently convened, considering that the desolation of Ireland, the bloodshed in England and dangers of this kingdom do daily increase, which has moved this kingdom to set forth an army in pursuance of the covenant, and whereby also great numbers of arms and ammunition are taken out of the country, in regard whereof, and to the effect this kingdom may be enabled to suppress all internal commotions, recruit the army sent forth (if need be) and defend themselves against foreign invasion, the said estates have statute and ordained and hereby statute and ordain the colonels and committees or war aforesaid appointed in each shire to muster all the fencible persons within the shire upon one day in every parish within some part of the bounds of their several presbyteries, to be designed by the said committees and colonels; by whom some are to be appointed to make up the lists of the said fencible persons armed and unarmed, so it may be known that none shall borrow arms from others and how many and what sort of arms are wanting and to be provided for every shire: the musters of these shires south of the River Dee to be between now and the last of February next to come, and the report thereof to the committee of estates between now and 15 March thereafter; and the musters of these shires north of the River Dee to be between now and 10 March, and the report to the committee between now and the last of the said month; and that the burghs within the bounds respectively aforesaid make their musters within themselves according to the former act of convention anent the posture of defence, and make their reports accordingly; and if after report it shall be found by the committee of estates that there are more arms wanting than are sent out with the army, that the shire in that case shall only be obliged to furnish so many arms as are sent forth, and the committee of war are to distribute the said arms amongst those who want in the most equal and least prejudicial way they think expedient, and the said persons to whom they shall distribute the same shall be obliged to receive and pay for the said arms under the pain of the payment of the double of the same.

And it is hereby declared that whether the musters be perfected or not at the days respectively aforesaid (which the estates do seriously recommend to the care of the said colonels and committees), yet at the diets above-specified assigned for report they shall be obliged to send some persons to the committee of estates with money or surety for providing as many arms, namely: muskets, picks, swords and pistols as they have sent forth in this present expedition, together with three pound weight of powder, three pound weight of ball and six pound weight of match for every musket, or else give assurance at the said day of report that they shall provide the same themselves between now and a competent day to be assigned by the committee of estates.

And that there may be a sufficient number of trained men who can exercise their arms in each shire or burgh for the ends aforesaid, the said estates ordain the colonels and committees aforesaid and magistrates of burghs to reduce the whole fencible persons within their bounds (as well to burgh as landward) into regiments, foot companies and horse troops according to the former printed act of the convention for putting the kingdom in a posture of defence; and ordain that a similar number of men in each shire and burgh as were appointed to come out in the present expedition be drilled and exercised in handling their arms, every regiment once a month, every company and troop once a week, at the places to be appointed by the colonels and committees and magistrates within burgh, and that each shire and burgh shall maintain an able and expert soldier who shall have the care and inspection of exercising the regiments and companies of that shire or burgh, and that they take such course for inferior officers as may best, with least expense, exercise their men; and they are hereby also required to see the captains of each company provided with colours and drums and the rutmasters with trumpets and cornets, who are to be in readiness upon orders from the committee of estates to bring forth such numbers and proportions of their regiments, with sufficient equipment, arms and provision as they shall be required. And whereas now the army is marched into England, it is therefore thought fit and expedient, concluded and ordained by the said estates that those in the northern and remote parts of the kingdom who have not gone forth in this present expedition shall presently put out the particular numbers of horse and foot after-specified, sufficiently provided with arms, ammunition and baggage horses and all sort of equipment according to the former printed orders, namely: out of the sheriffdom of Banff and that part of Aberdeen which is not under [William Keith], earl Marischal's command, 1,600 foot and 240 horse, whereof [George Gordon], lord Gordon is colonel; together also with 120 horse out of the sheriffdom of Elgin, Nairn and that part of Inverness on this side of the River Ness; and 120 out of [George MacKenzie], earl of Seaforth's division of Inverness, and 120 horse out of [John Gordon], earl of Sutherland's part of Inverness and Caithness, which are also under the command of the said Lord Gordon; and out of that part of the sheriffdom of Aberdeen in the Earl Marischal's division, the proportion of men laid upon the same to come out under the said earl, their colonel and out of the said sheriffdom of Elgin, Nairn and that part of Inverness on this side of the River Ness, 1,500 foot under the command of [James Stewart], earl of Moray, their colonel; out of the earl of Seaforth's and [Hugh Fraser], lord [Fraser of] Lovat's division of Inverness, 1,000 foot under the command of Thomas MacKenzie of Pluscarden, their colonel; out of the earl of Sutherland's part of Inverness and Caithness, 1,600 foot under the command of the earl of Sutherland, their colonel; and out of the sheriffdom of Orkney, 1,000 foot under the command of [...]. And the said estates ordain the committee of war and colonels within the bounds particularly above-written to use their utmost endeavours, with all possible speed, to bring forth the numbers of men, horse and foot above-written respectively, furnished with arms, baggage horses and ammunition horses and all other equipment prescribed by the former printed orders, and to make their rendezvous at Berwick upon 10 March next where they shall receive their further directions from [Alexander Leslie, earl of Leven], lord general, and the committee of estates as they will not be esteemed enemies to religion, his majesty's true honour and happiness and peace and safety of this kingdom, and under the pain to be pursued before the convention of estates or the ensuing parliament or their committees for their neglect or delay in this so great and important a work.

And further the said estates ordain that the half of the number formerly appointed to come forth out of the burghs, shires and divisions thereof in this present expedition shall now be brought out of the same sufficiently provided according to the former orders, both horse and foot, with baggage horses, ammunition horses and all other equipment, and to be in readiness to march upon four days' warning. As also to be levied and transported upon advancement of the tax and loan within each shire, if the same be not exhausted upon the former levies; and where there is none of the said loan, that they be levied and transported as the committee of estates shall direct to be an auxiliary supply to the army. And the said estates declare that in whatsoever shire this supply shall come to a full regiment and where there is a colonel already nominated, he is to go out with the said regiment and the other officers thereof (to be nominated by the committee of the shire with his advice), and where the supply shall not be a full regiment but must be adjoined to the supply of another or a third shire to complete the regiment, in that case the colonel of the shire out of which the greatest number comes is to go out as colonel of the regiment thus made up, and if there be none already nominated, he is to be chosen by the committee of that shire; and the lieutenant colonel to be chosen by the committee of the shire who sends out the next proportion, and the major by the shire and committee thereof which sends out the least proportion, and where there is any difference, the same is to be referred to the committee of estates; and the under-officers and captains by the several committees and shires who sends out the captains. With power also to the said committees where there are no colonels for putting the shire in a posture of defence or shall be none after the going out of this supply, to nominate colonels for that effect. And for the better and more expedient execution of the orders of the convention and their committees and of the committee of war, with power to the said committees of war where they shall find expedient to make subcommittees in several presbyteries, consisting of some of the said committee of war, to whom they shall adjoin some persons best affected within the said presbyteries, who are to be answerable for their proceedings to the said committee of war, and they to be answerable both for their own carriage and the deportment of the said subcommittees to the committee of estates. As also, with power to them to call and convene before them all delinquents and transgressors of their orders or of the orders of the convention and committee of estates, and to censure and punish them by imprisonment, fining or other arbitrary pain as they shall find the merit of the cause and condition of the delinquents requires, and especially to fine those who have not or shall not hereafter put out their foot men in £100 and their horsemen, baggage horses and ammunition horses in 400 merks, and to direct their precepts to messengers of arms to poind and distrenzie for the same, and to be accountable for the fines to the committee of estates. And because this great work has formerly suffered and may hereafter suffer no small prejudice by the infrequent meetings of the committee of war and absence of various of them from the same, as also by the uncertainty of their diets, the estates therefore ordain the said committee of war to appoint certain ordinary diets upon some set days in the week, and at their meetings in every session to mark their sederunts, and to send a note thereof and of the ordinary days of their meetings and proceedings to the committee of estates once a month at least and after as they shall be required, through which the better correspondence may be kept between them and the committee of estates and the service may be more expediently promoted; and that they fine the absents from their meetings, the gentlemen 10s and the burgesses 5s sterling on every occasion, and uplift the same by poinding, and make account thereof to the said committee of estates; in respect of which if they fail, the said committee shall pay the double of the said fines.

And the convention recommends to the committee of estates to see this act put to speedy and exact execution, with power for this effect: to do everything that may further the execution thereof and put the kingdom in a right and speedy posture of defence. This act is to be without prejudice of any former orders made for the price of arms put out in this expedition.

  1. NAS. PA8/1, f.129r-132r.