and the
Engagement 1648

There was first an oath, the
“Solemn Engagement“ among the English Independent`s New
Model Army which emphasised the views of Cromwell.
Subsequently there were two agreements or treaties called
the “Engagement “, one in Scotland and the other in

The Solemn Engagement.

This was an agreement drawn up
by the New Model Army shortly after King Charles I had
been seized at Holdenby in 1647. The agreement sought to
organise the army 
to `secure the peace of the kingdom and the
liberties of the subject.` 
There was a change in the officers, with the
quarter or so who were not supportive of Cromwell giving
up their commissions – this included Presbyterians who
could not accept the inherent religious 
bias of the `Independents`. The New Model Army`s
proposals for religious settlement 
was in favour of a broad based tolerance which the
Scots would not accept. The Covenant was no longer binding
and no one could be forced to take it, or forced to use
the Book of Common Prayer. Moreover, no church body
whatsoever was allowed to force itself 
or its views on anyone.

 These new rules were clearly
unacceptable to the Scots and the Covenanters were
disposed to offer King Charles their support on the terms
of the 1643 agreement of a Covenanted Church. Thus in
1647-8 the alliance with the English Parliamentarians and
the future of the Solemn League and Covenant were
crumbling, with the English unable, or unwilling, to
fulfil their end of bargain. Not least they were against
the extension of Presbyterianism as the true religion in
England and very cautious about action against the
`Sectaries` which included the Independents or
Congregationalists to which Cromwell belonged.

The Engagement.

Following the hand over of
King Charles I to the Parliamentarian forces in February
1647 the Covenanters, led by the Marquis of Argyll, saw
the risk of another war with England if they now supported the King.
However, the majority of nobles in Scotland, led by the
Duke of Hamilton, and the Earl of Lauderdale, were sympathetic towards Charles and
determined to restore him to his constitutional position.
Charles, meanwhile had been faced with new laws in England
that took away his command of the forces of the Crown and
his veto over Parliament. The options of the Scots were
more palatable and on 26 December 1647 he had signed the `
Engagement ` under which the Scots would provide an army
to invade England. The King undertook to present the
Solemn League and Covenant and the National Covenant to
Parliament for ratification. He also undertook to accept
Presbyterian government for a three year trial. So secret
was the agreement that it was wrapped in lead sheeting and
buried in the garden of the King`s residence at Carisbrook
Castle on the Isle of Wight.

In the Scottish Parliament
there was much discussion, and objections were raised by
the General Assembly who considered the `Engagement`
sinful and perjury by breaking of Covenant vows. The
Committee of Estates met in February 1648 and decided that
war was inevitable while the ministers were opposed to
such action. However, a new Parliament assembled with
strong royalist support among the nobles (but excluding
Archibald Johnston, Lord Warriston and the Marquis of
Argyll) and a majority agreed on war. On 11 April 1648 an
ultimatum was given the English demanding the freedom of
King Charles; the army to disband, the establishment of
Presbyterianism and discontinuance of the Book of Common

With the nobility holding sway
in the Estates, an act was passed requiring all subjects
to sign a bond supporting the `Engagement`. Although
condemned by the Covenanters the `Engagers` as they became
known, raised an army under the Duke of Hamilton and a
cess was imposed to pay for it. 
Although unopposed 
the Engagers dealt harshly with the Scots people at
large  and
provoked considerable resentment by their bullying and
threatening. The ministers and the Presbyteries,
especially from Clydesdale, Carrick and Cunningham joined
with Fife Covenanters to oppose the war and the inevitable
levies for men to fight it The encounter at
Mauchline Muir was a
consequence of this policy. Lord Eglinton wrote to his
son, Colonel James Montgomery, on 21 July 1648, that 

have been most rigorous 
in plundering this country …. The nobility, gentry
and country people are so incensed at their proceedings,
it will not fail but will draw to a mischief. 

  The Engagers with only
about 10,000 men – who were mostly undisciplined,
untrained, and with insufficient arms and support – headed
south, The Duke of Hamilton entered Carlisle on 8 July
1648 and was joined by Langdale with some 3,600 better
equipped Englishmen. Meanwhile Cromwell had travelled
north  with
8,000 of the Model Army and came upon the Scots at
Preston on 17 August. Poor
strategy by Hamilton and division of his forces resulted
in heavy losses and the Scots broke up while Cromwell`s
forces harried them and finally crushed them at Uttoxeter
on 25 August. Hamilton, Langdale and Middleton, as well as
10,000 prisoners fell into the Parliamentarians hands. 
Pressed men were released subject to an undertaking
not to take arms against England; volunteers were
transported to the Colonies as slaves and to Venice as
conscripts. Hamilton was executed in London 9 March 1649.

The adventure finished the
royalist support and the “ Whiggamore Raid “ on Edinburgh
saw the Covenanters take the city and power. Seizing the
opportunity the strict Covenanters (or Whigs as they were
called ) marched on Edinburgh and seized power from the
Engagers in September 1648. On 4 October 1648 Cromwell
entered Edinburgh and left again on 7 October having
concluded his business with the Marquis of Argyll, who was
again leader of the Covenanters.

 The Act of Classes in 1649
caused all of government to fall into the hands of the
strict Covenanters. This Act weaned alleged malignants
from public office and variously banned them until 
they had purged themselves of the perceived sin. It was
responsible for keeping many able men from public service
and the Army. For two years there was true Presbyterian,
civil, government before Scotland was exposed to the
direct rule of Cromwell .

The Irish Engagement.

 Cromwell landed in Ireland 15
August 1649 and proceeded to bloodily subjugate the
country. Drogheda was destroyed and the garrison slain on
11 September; followed by Wexford whose defenders were
also put to the sword. Belfast fell on 30 September,
Lisburn on 6 December. In June 1650 Sir Charles Coote and
his forces slaughtered the Irish army at Letterkenny and
placed the head of its leader, Heber McMahon Bishop of
Clogher, above the gates at Londonderry.It was not until
1652 that 
Ireland was totally subjugated with the Independents in
full control. Parliament framed an Oath, called the
`Engagement ` 
which bound 
the swearer to renounce `the pretended title of Charles
Stuart ` and to be faithful to the Commonwealth. 

An attempt was made to force the oath on Presbyterian
ministers in Ireland but they declined since they still
supported a limited monarchy. Some ministers were
imprisoned including Rev. Drysdale of Portaferry, Baty of
Ballywalter, Alexander of Grey Abbey, and Main of Island
Magee, others went to Scotland. After King Charles was
defeated at Worcester 3 September 1651, he fled and
Cromwell was the absolute ruler. The `Enagement ` oath was
forced on takers of public offices and heavy penalties
imposed on those who would not swear. Slowly over the next
ten years the Presbyterians were allowed to continue their
ways while Catholics suffered the full rigour of the law.