ScotWars - Scottish Military History and Re-enactment
Sir James Turner
An extract from
Scottish Pageant 1625-1707,- Agnes Mure MacKenzie

A survivalist?
Very typical of the professional fighting man of his age is Sir James Turner........He had commenced soldier in 1632, in the German wars, and tried to join a Scoto-Anglo-German expedition to Persia, to which Moscow put a stop. (He has...some interesting comments on the French and Swedish influences at work behind the British Civil War.) The outbreak of that war brought him home. He was a veteran of twenty four.
'I had swallowed without chewing, in Germany, a very dangerous maxim, which military men too much follow: which was, that so we serve our master honestly, it is no matter what master we serve: so without examination of the justice of the quarrel, or regard of duty to either Prince or country, I resolved to go with ship I first encountered,' which happened to land him on the Covenant side. Accordingly, since soldiers from the German wars were welcome, he found himself at once with a major's commission, though 'all this while I did not take the National Covenant, not because I refused to do it, for I would have made no bones to take it.........I wronged not my conscience in doing anything I was commanded to.......But the truth is, it was nevered offered to me: everyone thinking it was impossible I should get into any charge, unless I had taken the Covenant either in Scotland or England.'
He was sent to Ireland, where the bloodiness of the work rather startled him.......the Parliamentary soldiers had rounded up 250 Irishwomen, and started to drown them en masse at the Bridge of Newry.
I had looked a little more narrowly on the justice of the cause I served than formerly I used to do..........The new Solemn League and Covenant (to which the Committee of Estates required an absolute submission) summoned all my thoughts to a serious consultation: the result whereof was that it was nothing but a treacherous and disloyal combination against lawful authority.
He failed, however, in an attempt to join Montrose in his first abortive expedition, and remained a while longer on the Covenant side, until Dunaverty finally sickened him, as it well might,...........The emergence of the Engagers, or Royalist Presbyterians, allowed him to square his conscience by joining with them...........The Engagers, however, were led by the incompetent Duke of Hamilton, and the professional soldier catalogues grimly the reasons why they failed. Turner was taken prisoner, but later released, and joined the young King in time to serve under him at Worcester. There he was captured again, abroad as a convinced Royalist, returned and was knighted at the Restoration, and being appointed to a command in Scotland, was a natural target for Covenant abuse, though neither that nor his Royalist principles prevented him from praising honest men or good soldiers when he chanced to meet them on the Covenant side. And, as we have seen his sense of humour still functioned when he was a prisoner on the verge of being shot.

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