‘So necessarie and charitable a worke’: welfare, identity and Scottish prisoners of war in England, 1650–55

Langley, Chris R. (2018). ‘So necessarie and charitable a worke’: welfare, identity and Scottish prisoners of war in England, 1650–55. In: Appleby, David and Hopper, Andrew eds. Battle-scarred: Mortality, medical care and military welfare in the British Civil Wars. Manchester: Manchester University Press, pp. 211–229.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9781526124807.003.0012

Abstract

This chapter examines how the leadership of the Kirk of Scotland organised charitable collections for soldiers imprisoned in Tynemouth Castle and Durham after the Battle of Dunbar in September 1650. In the midst of the English invasion and subsequent occupation of Scotland, ministers in Edinburgh distributed letters across the country urging parishes to donate money to support the prisoners. Parishes responded enthusiastically. This chapter shows how ministers used the galvanising effect of this charitable scheme as a way to heal ruptures within the Kirk and the Scottish political landscape. Calls to help Scottish prisoners in England did not refer to the prisoners’ previous political affiliation or the contentious position of Charles II in Scottish political discourse. The Kirk’s charitable ventures were tremendously effective at gathering financial aid but they also contributed to a wider political debate about what it meant to be a good, loyal, Covenanter.

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