Caring for Soldiers, Veterans and Families in Scotland, 1638-1651

Langley, Chris R. (2017). Caring for Soldiers, Veterans and Families in Scotland, 1638-1651. History, 102(349) pp. 5–23.



Scotland was overwhelmed with injured servicemen and their families during the wars of the 1640s. Centralized attempts to help support war veterans and, later, their families were ambitious but continued to rely upon local church sessions to collect, distribute and monitor charitable payments. Using local parish-based manuscript material, this article shows how this system proved remarkably successful in providing financial support with one striking caveat: Unlike similar schemes in England and some areas of the continent, Scottish authorities only intended payments to injured servicemen and their families as a form of supplementary relief rather than permanent pensions. Moreover, despite local calls for further financial support, the central government made no effort to wrestle away the management of charitable activity from the parish setting. Veterans and their families continued to rely on informal support from family, friends and neighbours within a remarkably local charitable context. Such networks draw attention to the limited aims of official support in the seventeenth century and the necessity for it to co-exist with, and co-opt, a variety of less formal measures of charitable help.

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