The death of Oliver Cromwell in 1658 was followed two years later by the restoration of the monarchy and by the re-establishment of Episcopacy in both England and Scotland. In 1661 the Scots Parliament passed – almost without dissension – the Rescissory Act which removed Presbyterian Church government and reverted to the 1637 position.
Of the bishops appointed in 1637-8 only Thomas Sydserf of Galloway remained alive and he was appointed to the Diocese of Orkney. Four new bishops were consecrated in Westminster Abbey by the Bishops of London, Llandaff, Worcester and Carlisle.
The Restoration brought a change in government but not in the worship of the parish churches. No liturgy was introduced, no surplice worn by the clergy and the only distinguishing features from Presbyterian worship was the use of the doxology, the Lord’s Prayer and – at Baptism – the Apostles’ Creed.
There followed a persecution of those adhering to Presbyterianism. Ministers who would not conform to the Episcopal way were forbidden to exercise their ministry and prevented from living within twenty miles of their former parishes, or even close to any major town.
Harsher and yet more harsh penalties were imposed and there was increasing violence. The saintly Bishop Robert Leighton of Dunblane attempted to resign in protest but was persuaded to stay on the assurance that more gentle ways would be found. The Bishop also suggested a system of ecclesiastical government in which the bishops were guided by the majority view of their presbyters but this found no favour with the other bishops. He continued in the role of peacemaker and became Archbishop of Glasgow in 1671, resigning three years later to retire to the more peaceable realm of England.
A way of conciliation was, however, needed and between 1669 and 1672 a hundred and twenty of the dispossessed ministers accepted an olive branch and were allowed to preach in the parishes once more, although they were denounced as backsliders by the others.
When James Sharp, Archbishop of St Andrews, was murdered on Magus Muir in 1679 armed rebellion broke out. The rebels achieved a victory over a Government force led by Graham of Claverhouse at Drumclog but the rebellion ended with their defeat at the hands of the Duke of Monmouth at Bothwell Brig.
In 1681 the king’s claim to supremacy in ecclesiastical matters was beginning to cause concern and eighty Episcopalian priests resigned in protest. Charles II died in 1685. He had been a secret (or at least private) Roman Catholic for sixteen years and he was succeeded by his brother, James II and VII, who made no secret of his Roman Catholicism.
The Scots Parliament refused to pass a Bill favouring the Roman Church and the King made the Bill an Act of Council and established the Jesuits at Holyrood. Two years later an Indulgence granted freedom of public worship to all non-conformists, including Roman Catholics, Presbyterians and Quakers.
However, James’s reign was brought to an end by trouble in England. The King commanded that the Declaration of Liberty of Conscience be read in all churches. The Archbishop of Canterbury and seven other English bishops refused and were imprisoned in the Tower of London, charged with seditious libel.
Their acquittal was greeted with great rejoicing in the streets and the worried King once more promised to uphold the rights of the Anglican and Episcopal Churches. It was too late, however. William, Prince of Orange, had already landed in Devon at the head of an army and James fled to France in December 1668. The following year he attempted to recover Ireland but was defeated by William at the Battle of the Boyne. He died in 1701.