The Treaty of London, 1641

Following the defeat of the English army at the battle of Newburn in the second Bishops' War, a cessation of hostilities was agreed. An initial treaty between the two nations was signed at Ripon in October 1640. Negotiations for a permanent settlement were to be negotiated and ratified by a new Parliament to be summoned in London. Meanwhile, the Scottish army was to occupy Northumberland and Durham, exacting an indemnity of £850 a day from the English government for its quarter; furthermore the Scottish government was to be reimbursed for its expenses in prosecuting the war against England.

In desperate need of money, King Charles was obliged to summon the Long Parliament, which first assembled on 3 November 1640. A week later, the Scottish commissioners arrived in London to finalise the treaty. Despite King Charles' denunciation of the Scottish army as rebel invaders, the commissioners were welcomed by the Puritans of London, and the King retracted his remarks.

The negotiations between the Scottish and English commissioners continued through the spring and summer of 1641. Against a background of civil unrest in London and the impeachment by Parliament of his principal ministers Strafford and Laud, King Charles was anxious to settle the treaty as quickly as possible. He therefore made a number of unexpected concessions: the resolutions of the General Assemblies that banished episcopacy from the Scottish church were ratified; the royal castles at Edinburgh and Dumbarton were to be used for defensive purposes only; no Scots were to be censured or persecuted for signing the Covenant; the Scottish "incendiaries" regarded as being responsible for creating the crisis were to be prosecuted in Scotland; all Scottish goods and ships captured during the war would be returned; all books, publications and proclamations published against the Covenanters would be suppressed. It was also agreed that the Scots would receive the sum of £300,000 as recompense for the wars, which Parliament regarded as "brotherly assistance".

The Scots were also anxious to conclude the negotiations. The commissioners had outstayed their welcome, particularly after they issued a denunciation of episcopacy in the English church and an attack on Strafford and Laud that were regarded as interference in matters that did not concern them. Covenanter proposals to adopt Presbyterianism throughout the Three Kingdoms and other contentious demands were quietly dropped. The Treaty of London was signed on 10 August 1641.


David Stevenson, The Scottish Revolution 1637-44 (Newton Abbott 1973)

C.V. Wedgwood, The King's Peace 1637-41 (London 1955)