James Turner

Sir James Turner

  • Name  : Turner
  • Born  : c. 1615
  • Died  : c. 1686
  • Category  : Music
  • Finest Moment : None

Turner, and he had an ironic surname as you will see, was born the son of the minister of Borthwick and Dalkeith. In Germany he served in a Scottish contingent under Gustavus Adolphus, in the Thirty Years' War. It was there that he 'swallowed without chewing.. a very dangerous maxim, that [so] long as we serve our master honestlie, it is noe matter what master we serve'. Ouch! Guaranteed to dig one a troublesome hole that one.

So it was that back in Britain, while others were trying to work out their moral and ethical stances, Turner fought first for, then against, the Covenanting army in the 1640s, then for the Royalists in 1650-1. He then went into exile with Charles II. This did him no harm, as on the Restoration he was both knighted then given a command in south-west Scotland, hunting down the Covenanters. It was there that he was given the striking nickname of 'Bloody Bite-the-Sheep'.

In 1666, his oppressive behaviour was so bad that it caused the Pentland Rising. He was surprised and captured at Dumfries but escaped at Rullion Green. During a brief period of relative calm associated with the Indulgences (when there were a few conciliatory moves towards the more moderate Presbyterians, and also some moves towards isolating the 'phanaticks' amongst them), he was arraigned for his conduct and stripped of his commission.

This of course barely fazed old Sinclair, who went on to write Pallas Armata, a collection of military essays and confessional memoirs.

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