THE Wars of the Three Kingdoms, usually abbreviated to the English Civil War, saw Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth imposed on a conquered Scotland in 1651 and Glasgow was one of the many towns occupied by English troops under the command of General George Monck.

The devastation of Dundee apart, most Scots viewed most of the 1650s as a time of peace and prosperity. Monck imposed law and order, even on the Highland clans, and the radical Protestantism of the Covenanters was reigned in, especially in July, 1653, when an English force closed down the General Assembly of the Kirk. Internal disputes within the Kirk continued for many years, with the two divisions, known as the Remonstraters or Remonstrants and the Resolutioners, arguing basically about whether the Kirk should follow a stricter Calvinism in line with the National Covenant or whether the Royalist line – which involved bishops being appointed – should prevail.

In that same year of 1653, the Rev Zachary Boyd, after a career in both the Church and the University of Glasgow, died at the age of 67.

Though by all accounts a tremendous preacher, his “versification” of the Bible and other devotional works never enjoyed much of a reputation in his own life and are largely forgotten, but he did leave a legacy to the University in the shape of his large library of books.

The University website acknowledges his contributions and has a portrait of Boyd.

From 1654, a parliamentary union was imposed on Scotland and England and that had the effect of opening up trade with England and its colonies for Glasgow and the rest of Scotland.

The citizens of Glasgow moaned about having to pay for the garrison in the Tolbooth, but they had much bigger complaints about their near neighbours

in Dumbarton.

The Dumbartonians claimed the right to control all access to the Clyde past the town.

Glasgow had used Irvine as its main port for decades, but the harbour in the Ayrshire town silted up and Glasgow’s merchants sought a new berth on the Clyde.

Dumbarton with its harbour at the confluence of the Rivers Leven and Clyde was the obvious choice, but there had long been enmity between the two burghs and in 1658 there was a riot in Dumbarton when a Glasgow ship docked there – the Glaswegian skipper was thrown in the town’s jail, and that incident pretty much severed any chance of friendly relations between the two burghs.

Plans began to emerge for Glasgow to get its own harbour on the lower Clyde – bear in

mind that at that time the River was barely navigable past Dumbarton, so the burgesses and merchants of Glasgow began talking to landowners around Greenock.

These talks did not go well at first as Sir John Schaw was ambitious for his barony lands of Easter and Wester Greenock which in 1670 united into the Burgh barony of Greenock.

The plan for “newport Glasgow” was put on ice, especially when

the city and the rest of Scotland was caught up in the drama that was the Restoration of the Monarchy.

Many people forget that the Restoration began in Scotland. After the death of Cromwell on September 3, 1658, his Commonwealth – in reality a dictatorship with him as Lord Protector – began to disintegrate. General George Monck decided that restoring Charles II to the throne was the only way to preserve the Parliament in Westminster.

Monck swept all before him on his way south in late 1659, and after a new ‘Convention’ Parliament agreed to offer terms to Charles, the King landed at Dover on May 25, 1660 and was met with riotous acclaim all the way to Whitehall.

The Union Parliament was immediately dissolved and the Committee of the Estates took up the governance of Scotland on behalf of the Scottish Parliament. Glasgow’s garrison of Crowmell’s troops left by October and the city accepted the return of Charles II with alacrity.

Patrick Gillespie, the University principal who had been a leader of the Remonstraters, was arrested and imprisoned along with others who had previously rejected the Royalist cause.

The Scottish Parliament’s meeting in 1661 fully embraced the return of the monarchy, and also brought back bishops and archbishops to the Kirk.

Archibald Campbell, the 1st Marquess of Argyll, was executed for his part in the uprising against Charles I, and that caused considerable grief in Glasgow, not because he was popular there – he wasn’t – but because he owed large sums of money to the city which were never recovered.

The council was alive to the possibilities brought about by the new order, and convinced the Scottish Parliament to allow the city to expand – thus the Gorbals was brought into Glasgow in

1661 and in 1662 the ‘new green’ was bought. It is known as Glasgow Green, pictured, to this day.

By now Glasgow had a postal service, and trade with England and its colonies was booming, while the traditional ally France continued to export its wines to Glasgow which in turn exported wool and salted herrings to that country.

In 1666, the courts ruled that Dumbarton had to allow free passage on the Clyde to and from Glasgow, so the city council decided to build a small quay at Broomielaw to cater for those boats able to reach the city.

The plans for “newport Glasgow” continued to advance but in 1677, Glasgow was struck by another disaster. Just as in 1652, a huge fire broke out, this time when a blacksmith’s apprentice set light

to his master’s premises at the corner of the Saltmarket and Trongate.

More than 130 houses in the heart of the city were destroyed in the blaze, and the council this time decided on even greater controlling laws, making stone and slate the main constituents of rebuilt houses – a law that was largely responsible for the fact that the city took on a much grander appearance.

No-one died in that outbreak and the city’s fire engine appears to have worked well, and the fire only briefly set back a city that was determined to prosper, as we shall see next week.