This page was last updated on 11 August 2021

Click here to 
Print this page


Act for putting the kingdom in a posture of defence






Extracted from: The Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707, K.M. Brown et al eds (St Andrews, 2007-2009), 1649/1/132. Date accessed: 10 April 2009.

The estates of parliament etc., considering that it has been the ordinary practice of former parliaments and especially since the beginning of these troubles to put the kingdom in a posture of defence for preventing all dangers from foreign invasion or internal insurrection, and finding themselves obliged according to the trust reposed in them to preserve the peace of the kingdom from all the evils and practice of such as labour to subvert religion and government and disturb the peace of the kingdom, they have therefore resolved the better to keep his majesty's subjects in a dutiful obedience to the laws and public judicatories and in a Christian unity amongst themselves that this kingdom be presently put in a posture of defence; and for the better and more speedy effectuating thereof they have nominated and appointed and hereby nominate and appoint the persons underwritten to be colonels or commanders of horse and foot within the several sheriffdoms and bounds thereof, as well as to burgh as landward respectively, namely:

For the sheriffdom of Lanark:

[Archibald Douglas, lord] Angus

For the rest of the sheriffdom of Dumfries:

[James Douglas of] Mouswald

For the shire of Fife and Kinross-shire:

Sir William Douglas [of Kirkness].

And likewise the estates of parliament do hereby nominate and appoint the persons after-following to be commissioners and committees of war within the several shires of the kingdom, as well as to burgh as to land, in manner and to the effect following:

in the sheriffdom of Edinburgh principal::

  • James Douglas of Cliftonhall
  • James Douglas of Bads
  • Sir Joseph Douglas of Pumpherston
  • William Douglas of Gogar

In the sheriffdom of Peebles:

  • James Douglas of Cowthrople
  • James Douglas, portioner of Linton

In the sheriffdom of Dumfries and stewartry of Annandale:

  • Mr George Douglas of Pinwherrie
  • Archibald Douglas of Dornock
  • James Douglas of Mouswald
  • John Douglas of Stonehouse
  • James Douglas of Morton

In the sheriffdom of Linlithgow:

  • Sir Joseph Douglas of Pumpherston

In the heriffdom of Dunbarton::

  • John Douglas, younger, of Keyston

In the heriffdom of Roxburgh::

  • the earl of Buccleuch
  • Sir William Douglas, younger, of Cavers and Archibald Douglas, his son
  • Archibald Douglas, fiar of Cavers
  • John Douglas of Garvet

In the sheriffdom of Fife:

  • Sir William Douglas of Kirkness

In the heriffdom of Kincardine::

  • [James Douglas], laird of Stonypath
  • Mr Alexander Douglas of Downies

In the sheriffdom of Aberdeen:

  • Mr Alexander Douglas of Drumerlo

In the heriffdoms of Elgin and Nairn and a part of the sheriffdom of Inverness::

  • [Alexander] Douglas of Spynie
  • Hector Douglas, younger, of Mulderg

the estates of parliament do hereby grant to the said colonels and committees respectively the power contained in the former acts of posture in the years 1643 and 1647 and any other acts of posture which are held as herein expressed; which acts the conveners of each committee of war aforesaid are to have and keep beside them for the better prosecuting and obeying the orders therein set down. With power also to inflict and uplift penalties for absence from the said committees and for any deficiency of the duties expressed and enjoined in the said acts of posture and for disobedience of the orders to be given by themselves respectively, according to the nature of the offence and quality of the offender. And for avoiding the great charges and expenses the country might be put to by training the whole fencible men, the estates aforesaid do ordain the said colonels and committees of war to cause train and exercise the number of foot expressed in the act of convention of estates and the double of the number of horse expressed in the aforesaid act in 1643 or in the option of the shire, at the rate of 1,000 of rent according to the present valuation; and that each company of foot and troop of horse shall meet and exercise within their several parishes at a certain place of rendezvous one day of the week under the pain of 2s sterling for each horseman and 1s sterling each footman that shall be absent; and that a whole regiment shall meet once in the month under the pain of the double of the penalty aforesaid in case of failure for each deficient horseman and footman respectively; and the said respective penalties to be paid by the several heritors and others subject in putting out the said horse and foot in case of the absence of the said horse and foot at the said rendezvous. Which rendezvous, with the several places of meeting of the trained and exercised men, the said committees of war, with advice of the colonels, are to appoint with all conveniency after special order had in writing from the committee of estates or general or lieutenant general to the committees of war in the shires. And the said regiments and companies shall either in whole or in part keep such rendezvous and exercise within their shires as the committee of estates or general officers shall appoint, to the end they may be seen to be in good order, well-armed and in readiness to oppose all foreign invasion and internal insurrection when necessity shall require. And to the effect there may be a competent number of horsemen trained and exercised in each shire as well as as foot, therefore the parliament give power to the committees of war, with advice of the colonels of the several shires, to appoint so many troops or regiments of horse as they shall think fit in places of the companies or regiments of foot, allowing one horseman well-armed in place of three footmen. And it is hereby especially declared that if any persons of the committees of war aforesaid shall be deficient of their duty and neglect to put in execution the order set down in this present act or any of the former acts of posture, they are not to have the benefit of any deduction that shall be made of their maintenance, but they, because of their failure, to be liable in the whole. And the estates of parliament do permit and allow the said committees of war to appoint such of the colonels or commanders above-nominated for the said shires respectively to train and exercise the said regiments, troops and companies in the several shires as they shall think fit, and, by advice of the said colonels or commanders, to divide the said trained men in troops, regiments and companies in such sort as may contribute most to the good of the said shires respectively. And in case of any difference between the said committees and colonels or commanders, that the same be referred to the said committee of estates, to do therein as they shall think best. And it is hereby provided that the burghs royal shall have the same liberty and privilege which they had in any former acts of posture according to custom. And to the end all things relating to the peace and quiet of the country may be carried on in an orderly way, the estates aforesaid do ordain a constant correspondence to be kept amongst themselves and with the said committees of the shires respectively and the standing forces of the kingdom, and that frequent advertisement be given of their proceedings and of the condition of the several shires to the parliament or committee of estates, to whom they shall be answerable for discharge of the trust committed to them by this commission, which is to endure until the same be recalled by the parliament or committee of estates; and all other former commissions to this purpose and nomination of colonels and committees of the shires to be void and null in all time coming. And the estates of parliament give hereby power to the committees of the shires that are spacious and large to subdivide the committees thereof and to appoint the times and places of their meetings for the same as the committees of the shires shall think fit and as may contribute most for the furtherance of the public service and good of the said shires; and in case of difference anent the making of the said divisions, the same to be determined by the parliament or committee of estates; and these subdivided committees are to act within their own divisions only, the place being appointed. And the estates of parliament give power and authorise the committees of war within each shire and division to fortify one or more places within their bounds as they shall think fit, the same being done with consent of the interested party; and in case of difference, upon the special warrant of the committee of estates for that effect. And to appoint officers and soldiers for keeping thereof upon the expenses of the said shires and burghs therein, the said officers or commanders thereof being always such as the parliament or committee of estates shall approve of, and to continue so long as they find necessity or that the same be discharged by parliament or committee of estates. And likewise statute and ordain that no servants, cottars nor subtenants to burgh or land shall have power to remove from the heritors, liferenters or tenants to whom they are servants, cottars or subtenants without consent of the master of the ground until Martinmas [11 November] 1649, without diminution to them of their conditions or fees, under the pain of 100 to be paid by the harbourer of these fugitives to the heritor from whom they fled, and confiscation to his use of the fugitive's goods and gear besides the punishment of his person by the sentence, and at the arbitrament of the committee of the shire. And ordain the committees of war of the several shires to rectify any inequality of the subdivisions of the shires without diminution of the total number of their men appointed to be exercised within their shires.




Errors and Omissions

The Forum

What's new?

We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas Archives.

If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do let us know


Many articles are stubs which would benefit from re-writing. Can you help?


You are not authorized to add this page or any images from this page to (or its subsidiaries) or other fee-paying sites without our express permission and then, if given, only by including our copyright and a URL link to the web site.


If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!

You may also be able to help others answer their queries.

Visit the Douglas Archives Forum.


2 Minute Survey

To provide feedback on the website, please take a couple of minutes to complete our survey.


We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our What's New section on the home page.

We also use the Community Network to keep researchers abreast of developments in the Douglas Archives.

Help with costs

Maintaining the three sections of the site has its costs.  Any contribution the defray them is very welcome



If you would like to receive a very occasional newsletter - Sign up!



Back to top


The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

Contact Us

Last modified: Monday, 25 March 2024