The Impressment of Leith’s Poor and Drunks, and the Bursting of the Toune Drum in 1684
For 8 February, 1684, Lauder of Fountainhall records a confrontation between the Duke of York’s Regiment and the residents of Leith:
‘A complaint being made to the Privy Counsell, that the officers of Collonel [Henry] Gage, or the Duke of York’s regiment in Flanders, ware forcing severall men away with them; the Counsell stopped and arreisted the ship, and named a committie to search and examine it, for tho they had the King’s warrand to levy sojors, yet they most take none but who are willing to goe; and even prentices (the willing) may not be taken; but sorners and vagabonds, by our Acts of Parliament, (see Act 22 in 1449 [i.e., RPS, 1450/1/20.], and the late Index of our [numerous] Acts Parliaments, voce Beggers, Poor, and Sorners,) may be seized on, and ather put in correction houses and manufactories, or delivered to forrain captains, or banished by the Counsell; even as they doe with malefactors in prison, against whom ther is not a full probation. Their was much cause for this outcry; for by drinking with poor men, and other arts, they trepaned many. Some also took ther arles, and craftily cheated them.—This search was occasioned by a discord fell out betuen the Flanders captains and Thomas Wilson, bailzie of Leith, who liverat 3 men of thers who ware in Leith Tolbooth; and the granadeirs who lay in Leith taking the forrain sojors part, broke the toune of Leith’s drum, when it was beating thro the toune, because being a garrison toune, they should be acquainted before any other drum then ther oune beats, because it otherwayes gives them the allarum.’ (Lauder, Historical Notices, II, 495-6.)
The Duke of York’s Regiment under Colonel Gage did receive several imprisoned Covenanters. Among the prisoners taken by Gage to Flanders was George Jackson.
Wodrow claims that William Paterson in Cambusnethan parish, who was shot in 1685, was also banished to Flanders.
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