Covenants and Covenanters in Scotland 1638–1679

McDougall, Jamie Murdoch (2018) Covenants and Covenanters in Scotland 1638–1679. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis investigates how Covenanting in Scotland was understood at local and grassroots level from the inception of the 1638 National Covenant to the suppression of Covenanting in the 1660s and 1670s. It explores the complexity of Covenanting ideas and the relationship between Covenanting, Royalism, Presbyterianism, and Episcopacy and assesses how local communities experienced Covenanting and acted on their beliefs from 1638 to 1679. At the heart of the analysis is an examination of extant kirk session and presbytery records at significant moments in the early and later Covenanting periods. This thesis advocates a departure from viewing Covenanting as a coherent movement. Rather moments, national and personal, corporate and individual, dictated the ways in which people interpreted their Covenants. The Covenant subscriptions of 1638 and 1643, the implementation of the Directory for Public Worship in 1645, the Engagement crisis of 1647–49, the Cromwellian invasion of 1650–52, and the Glencairn rising of 1653–55 are all assessed in the first part of this thesis as moments in which Covenanting ideas at grassroots level are evident. A broad spectrum of Covenanting emerged as what it meant to be a Covenanter was re-evaluated during these moments. People in the localities had an obligation to pursue the aims of the Covenants and the battle for ideological conformity saw wide social engagement, including individuals of low social status and women, in this national venture.

After the overturning of Covenanting legislation in 1662 individual moments, such as choosing whether or not to attend communion administered by a conformist minister, or choosing where to have a child baptised, brought Covenanting commitments to the fore. This is the main focus of the second part of this thesis. Those unwilling to participate in the most subversive aspects of Covenanting, attending conventicles in house and field, but unable to denounce their oaths by accepting the legality of the 1662 settlement found ways of negotiating their Covenanting commitments with the practicalities of living and worshiping in Restoration Scotland. This research concludes that Covenanting engendered a wide range of responses from 1638 to 1679 and was not the sole property of conventiclers after the Restoration of Charles II. Crucially, ordinary groups of people, including women, were engaged in Covenanting controversy from the outset through the imposition of oaths, fasts, and celebrations and took action independent of their social superiors when faced with an explicitly anti-Covenanting regime, thus marking a significant watershed in the history of political activism in Scotland.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Covenants, Covenanters, Scotland, Scottish Covenanters, grassroots, local, subscriptions, Restoration, Cromwell, Presbytery, Episcopacy, women, kirk session, political activism.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Funder's Name: Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
Supervisor's Name: Spurlock, Dr. Scott and Bowie, Dr. Karin
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr Jamie McDougall
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-9120
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 01 Jun 2018 15:12
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2019 14:50

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