Extract from the Journal
John Ashton 1639
The undernoted is an extract from the Journal of John Aston who was with the Royalist Army at Berwick and Duns (spellings have not been changed)
June 12 The first receiving of the Scots (as they reported in the Army) was nothing gracious from the King but with frowning and disdaine, as men of rebellious intentions, yet upon their humble and dutifull speech and address to his majestie, hee began to fall his anger and enter into the business: soe they were dismissed for that time.
June 13 On Thursday the 13th the same persons came again to the lord general’s tent and brought Mr. Alexander Henderson the prolocutor of their assembly with them,
June 15 The 15th, Saturday morning they came againe and Sir William Douglas was absent. Then they dined with the lord generall and kissed the king’s hand and continued upon certaine propositions of pacification.
June 18 On Tuesday the 18th. they met againe and brought the articles signed by their principal covenanters and they were also to be signed by the king and his councell.
I remember the first (it was sayed) they desired to be excused for not coming to the campe upon the king’s princely word for their safetie, but they desired to have it in writing under his hand and signet before they would adventure. During the treaty gentlemen of both armies went every day to visit each other’s campe and they used one and another like countrymen and fellow-subjects lovingly and friendly.
June 19th.On Wednesday the 19th. I went to the Scotsh army. It was pitched upon a hill called Dunce-law (because it is the execucion place) near Dunce on the north side. It was a place of extraordinary advantage, being very steepe. And soe not easily to be assaulted, though they were not entrenched (and because they were they imputed it to us as a dishonour). On the top of the hill it was somewhat levell, yet not without an easie descent round about. The army lay round the hill, soe that they made a front every way, and the conveniency of the ground by theire generall’s direction afforded them very commodius hutts and dry, by making the roofe upwards and the door downe the hill.
Theire General Lessley was very courteous to all and at the Laird of Aton’s house ( a small house built of stone somewhat in the form of a castle (now Duns Castle) neere the campe where he lay, hee dined as many of the English lords and gentleman as were there betime and could sitt at his own table; and there was a side table for other gentlemen that came in later, and still as one company had dined another sate downe, and they had very good meate and great plenty as alsoe of wine, beere and ale and at their own table after dinner he had a great banquett, There dined with hi the Earle of Northampton and the earl of Westmoreland and divers of the king’s servants. Immediately after dinner the lord chamberlaine came to the campe and Generall Lessley went to meet him and conducted him up to the campe with much ceremony betwixt them, both ryding bare a great way. The general was much admired by souldiours for his judgement in encamping and the good discipline of his men. It was a very graceful sight to behold all the army soe united together in such a ground and all the souldiours standing to their armes, their drumme beating and colours flying; and though one ride often round, yet he could not without curious observation tell when he had compassed them, which was a good policy of Lessley to beguile men’s view, which could not be satisfied of their number,till as now they had freedom to ride amongst them and goe into their hutts where they better sort entertained the English courteously, but the ordinary soldier would look very bigg with laughing countenances, as imagining wee were happy in the peace, otherwise we had smarted for tit. There were as Lieutenant-colonel Sydenham informed me 92 colours, I endeavoured to have told them but could not (because of the circular ryding I could not tell where I began nor ended). Most guessed there to be 10 or 12,000 at the most, accounting the highlanders whose fantastic habitt caused much gazing by such as have not scene them heretofore. They were all, or most of them well timbred men, tall and active, apparelled in blew woollen wascotts and blue bonnets. A pair of bases of plad and stocking s of the same and a pair of pumpes at their feete; a mantle of plad cast over the left shoulder and under the right arm, a pocquett before for their knapsack and a pair of durgs on either side of the pocquet.
They are left to their own election for their weapons, some carry only a sword and targe, others musquetts and the greater part bow and arrows, with a quiver to hold about six shafts made of the maine of the goat or colt, with the haire hanging on and fastened by some belt or such like, soe as it appeares almost a taile for them. These were about 1,000 and had bagg-pipes (for the most part) for their warlick instruments. The Laird Buchanan was their leader. Theire ensigns had strange devices and strange words in a language unknowne to mee. Whether their owne or not I know not. The ensigns of the others Scotts had the St. Andrew’s crosse in which the word “Covenant for Religion Crowne and Country”. The Generall Lessley’s ensigne had for his device a bible crossed through with two sceptres and a crowne set upon it with this word “ Tuemur legibus et armis jure divino et civile” Hee had a very strong and souldiourlike guard from the doore of his house a great way in length, in two divided files, much more stately and secure than our kin g, all things in soe good equipage.
After the lord chamberlaine had viewed the army Lessley returned with him to his house, and there entertained him with a great banquett; all the Scotts much affecting the lord chamberlaine, because hey found him their friende, and ready to incline the king and councell to pacification in favour of what the Scotts desired. The confidence of the Scotts in theire cause and experience of their generall, was of much more value to them than theire strength, for of their 12,000 souldiours there was not one that that had any defensive armes, not soe much as a head piece, and as for their offensive weapons, their musquetts were many of them burding peeces and their pykes but half ones, and very many young boys amongst them to manage them. Indeed the camper was not easy to be assaulted and the plaine around the hill for a mile or two was soe strewed with great stones naturally that art could not have made a better defence against our horse (wherein was our greatest strength) and to helpe them more, the general caused each musquetier, instead of a rest, to carry a short staffe shod with iron at both ends to stick sloaping into the ground for pallisadoes against our horse; but all these preparations and great lookes upon one and another ended in a treaty; and soe upon the 20th. of June the Scotsh army broke up And upon the 22 of June, being Saturday the king returned to Berwick and the army was disbanded, onely theire was retained a garrison of (space in memoirs) in Barwick under the command of (space). And another garrison at Carlile of (space) under the
command of (space)