Ian Scott: First Earl was at forefront of Scotland’s religious war

Callendar House, home of the Earl of Callendar, a supporter of Charles I is pictured alongside Oliver Cromwell.
Callendar House, home of the Earl of Callendar, a supporter of Charles I is pictured alongside Oliver Cromwell.

There are three streets across the road from Callendar Park with names that remind us of one of the most turbulent periods in Scotland’s history.

The first two, Cromwell Road and Oliver Road, are fairly obvious but Monck’s Road is less familiar.

Oliver Cromwell

Oliver Cromwell

Both Generals, Oliver Cromwell and George Monck, were part of the violent struggle in the early 17th century when King Charles I tried to change the religious situation in Scotland while at the same time upsetting the English Parliament with his high-handed actions.

Residing in Callendar House in 1640 was James Livingston, at that time Lord Almond, a professional soldier with vast experience on the continent.

Off he went to England as second in command of the ‘‘army of the covenant’’ and he was present in Newcastle when the King was captured and subsequently handed over to the English Parliamentary army.

Deep down, of course, he was a Stewart loyalist and while firm in his religious principles had made it clear to the King that he would not tolerate any harm coming to him.

James Livingston, First Earl of Callendar

James Livingston, First Earl of Callendar

When Cromwell and the English Parliament determined on the King’s execution, James (by now the first Earl of Callendar) changed sides and set off once again along with the Duke of Hamilton and others to try to rescue Charles.

With him went men from Falkirk but their efforts were in vain. Defeated by Cromwell’s Roundheads at Preston in 1648, Hamilton was captured and executed while James Livingston escaped to temporary exile.

After the beheading of Charles the following year his son, the young Charles II, was given sanctuary in Scotland where he was crowned at Scone.

In hot pursuit came Cromwell with his New Model Army heading for Larbert Bridge to face the new King and the Scottish Army dug in across the Carron near Larbert Cross in an area still called Castlehill.

In July 1651 the English Army advanced along the Forth in sight of Callendar House and Cromwell, knowing the House was the home of his enemy the Earl of Callendar, offered to pass in peace if the occupants promised not to fire their guns in his direction.

The promise was made but when the English came into view the big guns opened up and an angry Cromwell turned round and laid siege to the building.

A detachment commanded by General George Monck, later renamed the Coldstream Guards, bombarded the house and, according Cornet John Baynes: “Upon Tuesday last about sunset we made a breach upon Kallendar House. . . . we slew the enemy about 50 persons”.

Actually there were 61 casualties and they are probably still there, buried under the front lawn.

General Monck made Callendar House his headquarters for several years and in 1660 marched to London to support the Restoration of King Charles II.

By this time the Earl of Callendar, who had spent a decade seeking a pardon and permission to return to his house and lands, had been successful and from 1656 had began the process of restoring Callendar House and rebuilding his estates which had been badly damaged over the years of conflict.

With debts of £25,000 and an annual income of £1500 he didn’t have his problems to seek.

After the Restoration of Charles he returned to favour and was one of the 14 noblemen who carried the body of the great Marquis of Montrose to his burial place in St Giles Cathedral.

He died aged 75 in 1674 in relative peace and quiet after an adventurous life full of significant events for both Scotland and Falkirk district.