Cromwell's Act of Grace

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Act of Pardon and Grace was proclaimed at the Mercat Cross on Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

Cromwell's Act of Grace or more formally the Act of Pardon and Grace to the People of Scotland,[1] was proclaimed at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh on 5 May 1654. General George Monck, the English Military Governor of Scotland, was present in Edinburgh, having arrived the day before for two proclamations also delivered at the Mercat Cross, the first declaring Oliver Cromwell to be the Protector of England Ireland and Scotland, and that Scotland was united with the Commonwealth of England.


After the English invasion of 1650, and the defeat of the Scottish armies at the battles of Dunbar, Inverkeithing and Worcester, Scotland was placed under English military occupation with General Monck as military governor of the country. Up to the date of the Act of Grace the English army had been able to suppress the Scottish resistance to the occupation with relative ease and the occupation, with sporadic but ineffective resistance, would continue throughout the Interregnum up until the Restoration in 1660.

The Act had its origins in the English written constitution of December 1653, called the Instrument of Government. Between December 1653 and the calling of the First Protectorate Parliament that sat for the first time in September 1654, the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and his Council of State were granted under the Instrument of Government the power "to make laws and ordinances for the peace and welfare of these nations where it shall be necessary" and on 12 April 1654 the regime passed a number of ordinances pertaining to the government of Scotland:[2]

  • Ordinance for uniting Scotland into one Commonwealth with England,
  • Ordinance of Pardon and Grace to the People of Scotland,
  • Ordinance for erecting Courts Baron in Scotland,
  • Ordinance for settling the Estates of several excepted Persons in Scotland, in Trustees, to the Uses herein expressed.


The content of the Act of Grace contained:[3]

  • A general pardon and act of oblivion,
  • Except for members of the royal family (their estates were confiscated),
  • Other excepted who had their estates confiscated,
  • Other excepted and fined,
  • Other exceptions and provisions.

General pardon[edit]

The first and second paragraphs drew a line under Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Oliver Cromwell the Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland, and the Dominions of those nations, ordained that on the 1 May 1654, with the exceptions laid out in paragraphs that followed “in this Ordinance“, that the People of Scotland were pardoned for any crimes they might have committed during the preceding wars and that there would be not further financial or other punishments.[3]

The rest of the ordinance proceeded to list the various exceptions to the general pardon and clarification of some of the details.[3]

Except members of the royal family[edit]

The third paragraph excepted royal estates and other possessions in Scotland and so allowed for the sequestration by the Commonwealth . The wording also covered royal possessions that might have been passed to others since 1 May 1642.[3]

Except those who had their estates confiscated[edit]

The fourth paragraph listed twenty four men whose estates were excepted and forfeited to the Commonwealth (See Appendix A), and like the Royal estates this was backdated to cover the estates as they were on 18 April 1648. Also, almost as a post script to the paragraph, a twenty fifth man, James, 1st Lord Mordington, had his estates of "Maudlain Field, Sunck, Cony-garth, Constables-Batt, Two Watermills, and a Wind-mill lying within Barwick bounds." confiscated.[3]

The next paragraph arranged for the confiscation of the estates of certain categories of Scots who had opposed the English Parliament since 1648 and were still under arms against the English Commonwealth after the 3 of September 1650 or were not now considered by Oliver Cromwell to be reconciled to the new regime. Those who could be excluded by this paragraph were Scottish MPs who had not signed the Protestation against the invasion of England in 1648, those men who sat in the Scottish Parliament or were a member of the Committee of Estates of Scotland after the coronation Charles II (in 1651), or were in the Scottish army after the Battle of Dunbar on 3 September 1650 (which included all those who had taken part in the Worcester Campaign).[3]

The following paragraph limited the time creditors had to put in claims against the forfeited estates. Claims had to be lodged with named representatives,[4] within 60 days of the proclamation of the ordinance.[3]

The next three paragraphs granted certain lands to the named wives and children of those who's estates had been confiscated, under the condition that they pay rent to the Protector for those lands and that they renounced any claims they had to other properties which previously belonged to those excluded from the general pardon.[3]

Except those who were fined[edit]

Seventy three men were fined (see Appendix B).[5] The ordinance included details of how the fines were to be paid and what was to happen if the fine was not paid. The money was to be paid to Gilbert [George] Bilton, deputy treasurer at Leith. Half was to be paid on, or by, 2 August 1654 and the other half on, or by, 2 December 1654. If a person defaulted on payment then their estate were to be confiscated by the commissioners for sequestration.[6]

Other exceptions and provisions[edit]

The last few paragraphs of the Ordinance laid on certain points so that it was clear that this Ordinance could not be used to frustrate some other points of law that the drafters of the ordinance saw as potential legal problems.[3]

The Ordinance could not be read as restoring or reviving of any lordship, dominion, jurisdiction, tenure, superiority, or any thing whatsoever, abolished by An Ordinance for Uniting Scotland into one Commonwealth with England.[3]

The general pardon did not extend to those persons in arms since 1 May 1652 who would remain subject to the Articles of War. The general pardon could not be construed to extend, to the freeing or discharging of any prisoners or prisoners of war, from their respective imprisonments or their promises and surety for release from that imprisonment.[3]

The final paragraph negated any reading of the ordinance that might be construed to reduce the revenues that formally went to the Crown and should not go to the Lord Protector.[3]

Passed by Parliament and consented to by the Lord Protector[edit]

Although the ordinance had been issued on 12 April 1654, and then proclaimed in Scotland on 5 May 1654, like the other ordinances pertaining to Scotland issued on the 12 April 1654, it did not become enacted until an enabling act, called "Act touching several Acts and Ordinances made since the twentieth of April, 1653, and before the third of September, 1654, and other Acts" was consented to by the Lord Protector on the 26 June 1657,[7] the same day that the enabling bill was approved by the Second Protectorate Parliament.[8][9]

See also[edit]

List of Ordinances and Acts of the Parliament of England, 1642–1660

Appendix A: List of those whose estates were sequestrated [edit]

The following list of prominent opponents of the Commonwealth were exempted from the general pardon and had their estates forfeited:[10]

Pos Name Note
1 James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton deceased
2 William Hamilton, 2nd Duke of Hamilton deceased
3 John, Earl of Crawford-Lindsay
4 James Livingston, 1st Earl of Callendar
5 William Keith, 7th Earl Marischal
6 Alexander Erskine, 3rd Earl of Kellie
7 John Maitland, 2nd Earl of Lauderdale
8 John Campbell, 1st Earl of Loudoun
9 Kenneth Mackenzie, 3rd Earl of Seaforth
10 John Murray, 2nd Earl of Atholl
11 Robert Gordon, Viscount of Kenmure
12 Archibald, Lord Lorne Eldest son of Archibald, 1st Marquess of Argyll
13 James, Lord Machlin Eldest son of John, 1st Earl of Loudoun
14 Hugh, Lord Montgomery Eldest son of Alexander, 6th Earl of Eglinton
15 George, Lord Spynie
16 William Cranstoun, 3rd Lord Cranstoun
17 John, 9th Lord Sinclair
18 Thomas Dalyell Late Major General of the Foot in the Scottish Army,
19 John Middleton Late Lieutenant-General of the Horse in the Scottish Army,
20 James, Viscount Newburgh
21 John Lord Bargany
22 Sir Thomas Thomson
23 James Edmeston Lord of Womat
24 Archibald Napier, 2nd Lord Napier
25 William Cunningham, 9th Earl of Glencairn

Appendix B: List of those fined [edit]

The following people were fined: [11]

Pos Name Amount Notes
01 David Leslie, Lord Newark £4,000 Late Lieutenant-General of the Scottish Army
02 William Douglas, 1st Marquis of Douglas £1000
03 Archibald, Lord Angus £1,000 Eldest son to the Marquess of Douglas
04 William Douglas, Earl of Selkirk £1,000 Third son of the Marquess of Douglas
05 The heirs of Francis Scott, 2nd Earl of Buccleuch deceased £15,000
06 James Stewart, 2nd Earl of Galloway £4,000
07 William Ker, 2nd Earl of Roxburghe £6,000
08 William Cochrane Lord Cochrane £5,000
09 James, 2nd Lord Forrester £2,500
10 Philip Anstruther.[12] 1,000 marks sterling Son of Sir Robert Anstruther
11 Sir Archibald Sterling of Carden.[13] £1,500
12 James Drumond of Mackensey £500 Laird Machane[14]
13 Henry Maule £2,500 Son to the Earl of Panmure
14 Sir James Livingstone of Kilsyth £1,500
15 William Murrey of Polemaise £1,500
16 James Erskine, 7th Earl of Buchan[15] £1,000
17 John Scrymgeour, Viscount Dudope £1,500
18 Preston of Cragmillar £1,500 Laird of Craigmillar[14]
19 Sir Andrew Flesher of Inner Pether £5,000
20 Sir John Wauchab of Nethery £2000
21 Earl of Perth, and Lord Drumond his eldest son £5,000
22 Earl of Winton £2,000
23 Earl of Findlater £1,500
24 Alexander Stewart, 5th Earl of Moray £3,500
25 James Douglas, 2nd Earl of Queensberry.[16] £4,000
26 John Earl of Eithy £6,000
27 Lord Duffus £1,500
28 Lord Grey £1,500
29 Sir Henry Nisbett £1,000
30 Patrick Maule, 1st Earl of Panmure £10,000
31 Laird of Lundee £1,000
32 Earl of Arroll £2,000
33 Earl of Tullibardine £1,500
34 Earl of Sowthes £3,000
35 Earl of Dalhousie £1,500
36 Earl of Hartfeild £2,000
37 William Lord Rosse £3,000
38 Lord Sample £1,000
39 Lord Elphinston £1,000
40 James, 9th Lord Boyd £1,500
41 James Lord Cooper £3,000
42 Lord Balvaird £1,500
43 Lord Rollock £1,000
44 Earl of Kinghorne £1,000
45 Earl of Kinkardine £1,000
46 Lord Bamfe £1,000
47 Master Robert Meldrum of Tillybody £1,000
48 Sir Robert Graham of Morphie £1,000
49 Sir William Scot of Harden £3,000
50 Hay of Nachton £1,000
51 Renton of Lamberton £1,000
52 Colquhoun of Luz £2,000 Laird of Lus[14]
53 Hamilton of Preston £1,000
54 Mr. Francis Hay of Bowsey £2,000
55 Arnot of Ferney £2,000
56 Sir Robert Forquhar £1,000
57 Sir Francis Reven £3,000
58 James Scot of Montross £3,000 Merchant in Montros[14]
59 Laird of Rothemegordon £500 Laird Rothemay, Gordoun[14]
60 Colerney, the younger £1,000
61 Sir John Scot, of Scots-Torbut £1,500 Scottistarbet[14]
62 Laird of Gosfrid £1,000
63 Laird of Bachilton £1,500
64 James Mercer of Aldey £1,000
65 Earl of Rothes £1,000
66 Lieutenant Colonel Elliot of Stebbs £1,000
67 Sir Lewis Stuart £1,000 Advocate
68 Patrick Scot of Thirleston £2,000 Patrik Scott of Thirlestane'[14]
69 Sir James Carmighill £2,000 Lord Carmichael[14]
70 Sir Patrick Cockborne of Clarkington £2,000
71 Sir George Morison of Prestongrange £2,000
72 Murrey, Laird of Stanhop £2,000 Son to Sir David Murrey deceased


  1. ^ Also known as Cromwell's Act of Grace and Pardon and the Ordinance of Pardon and Grace to the People of Scotland
  2. ^ "The 1654 Union with Scotland" (PDF). maintained by the Cromwell Association and the Cromwell Museum Huntingdon. pp. 2,3. Retrieved 24 January 2011.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Firth & Rait 1911.
  4. ^ John Swinton of Swinton, Esq; William Lawrence, Esq; George Smith, Esq; Sir James MacDowel of Garthland, Samuel Disbrow, John Thompson, Esquires (Firth & Rait 1911).
  5. ^ There are 72 entries in the list because one fine for the sum of £5,000 was levied jointly on two men: the Earl of Perth, and Lord Drumond his eldest son.
  6. ^ Laing 1836, p. 126.
  7. ^ "House of Commons Journal, 26 June 1657". Journal of the House of Commons: 1651–1660. 7. 1802. pp. 575–578. Retrieved 24 January 2011. 
  8. ^ Sevaldsen, Jørgen; et al. (2007). Angles on the English-Speaking World, V.7: The State of the Union: Scotland, 1707–2007. Museum Tusculanum Press. p. 39. ISBN 978-87-635-0702-8. 
  9. ^ Firth, C.H.; Rait, R.S., eds. (1911). "June 1657: An Act touching several Acts and Ordinances made since the twentieth of April, 1653, and before the third of September, 1654, and other Acts". Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642–1660 (1911). pp. 1131–1142. .
  10. ^ Laing 1836, p. 125.
  11. ^ Laing states this Act of "Pardon and Grace to the People of Scotland," with the list of fines, is printed in Scobell's Collection, p. 288. (Laing 1836, p. 125,126)
  12. ^  "Anstruther, William". Dictionary of National Biography. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1885–1900. 
  13. ^ George Brunton, David Haig. An historical account of the senators of the College of justice: from its ... pp. 358,359. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h Laing 1836, p. 126
  15. ^ Lundy, Darryl. "James Erskine, 7th Earl of Buchan". Retrieved February 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help) cites G.E. Cokayne, et al; The Complete Peerage of England, Scotland, Ireland, Great Britain and the United Kingdom, Extant, Extinct or Dormant, new ed., 13 volumes in 14 (1910–1959; reprint in 6 volumes, Gloucester, U.K.: Alan Sutton Publishing, 2000), volume III, page 19.
  16. ^ Wilson (town-clerk of Hawick), James (1850). Annals of Hawick, A.D. M.CC.XIV.-A.D. M.DCCC.XIV.: with an appendix containing biographical sketches and other illustrative documents. T. G. Stevenson. p. 313. 


  • Laing, David, ed. (1836). A diary of public transactions and other occurrences, chiefly in Scotland, from January 1650 to June 1667. Bannatyne club. pp. 125,126. 126
  • Firth, C.H.; Rait, R.S., eds. (1911). "April 1654: An Ordinance of Pardon and Grace to the People of Scotland.". Acts and Ordinances of the Interregnum, 1642–1660 (1911). pp. 875–883. . Text of Cromwell's Pardon and Grace to the People of Scotland