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August 19th 1655

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Two pictures of Perth

In 1655, Scotland was occupied by Cromwell’s army and in August of that year Thomas Tucker, who was Register to the Commission for the Excise in England, was sent to Scotland “to give his assistance in settling the excise and custom there.”  His report gives many interesting accounts of the various ports throughout Scotland including this description of Perth.

“St Johnston, an handsome walled town, with a cittadell added thereunto of late yeares, lying a good way up the river Tay, where there is a wayter (excise man) always attending, not soe much because of any greate tradeing there, as to prevent the carryeing out wools, skyns and hide of which commodities great plenty is brought thither out of the Highlands and there bought and engrossed by the Lowland men.”  The Citadel or Oliver’s Mount was built by Cromwell’s army in 1652.

Writing some thirty years later, another English traveller, Thomas Morer, paints a slightly different picture of the town. “There are two long spacious streets, besides others of less moment, for intercourse, which being well paved are at all times tolerably clean. The houses are not stately, but after the Scotch way make a good appearance.

Here are only two churches; but one of them so big it looks more like a cathedral than parish church, kept in good repair and decent within. The trade of the town depends chiefly on linen, which the Highlanders bring thither, and which they export to the value of Ł40,000 sterling per annum……It is a county town governed by a Lord Provost and Bailiffs, has the stile of Royal Borough with the honours and privileges of the most eminent places in Scotland; and the inhabitants speak very big whenever they have occasion to mention the city……” 

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