The Scottish Covenanters and the Borough of Sunderland, 1639–1647: A Hidden Axis of the British Civil Wars

Maureen Meikle

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    Abstract

    Few sources have survived relating to the borough of Sunderland in the seventeenth century. However, during the Civil Wars Sunderland was noticed for its support of Parliament and the Scottish Covenanters. A Puritan elite, led by George Lilburne, had established Sunderland as a radical borough by the 1630s. Good relations between Sunderland and the Covenanting Scots began in 1639 and continued throughout the Bishops’ Wars (1639–41) and the first British Civil Wars (1642–46). This was unusual in the North East of England as most of County Durham, Northumberland and Newcastle upon Tyne would remain loyal to King Charles I. A trade blockade of Newcastle, Sunderland and Blyth during 1643–44 was quickly lifted at Sunderland after the Scots garrisoned the town in March 1644. This gave Sunderland a temporary, but advantageous, lead over their rivals in Newcastle. Sunderland’s port was crucial for supplying the Scottish Covenanting army and Parliamentarian forces during 1644–46, and the coal mines along the River Wear proved a vital source of revenue for paying the army. The borough’s leaders were well rewarded for their loyalty and, unlike other leading supporters of Parliament in the North, they did not object to paying for the Scottish occupation of the North East.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-188
    JournalNorthern History
    Volume54
    Issue number2
    Early online date21 Jun 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017

    Keywords

    • Sunderland
    • Scottish Covenanters
    • Civil Wars
    • coal trade
    • George Lilburne
    • Newcastle upon Tyne

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