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Annals of Auchterarder and Memorials of Srathearn
The Treaty of Auchterarder


MARY OF LORRAINE, the widowed Queen of James V., proved, while Regent of Scotland, a prudent and wise ruler. Desirous to stern the tide of Reformation which rolled onwards, and anxious to do what she considered her duty for the support of the ancient Church, she was not, like her brothers, a bigot in her faith. She looked with a kindly eye on both her Catholic and Protestant subjects; but events would not allow her to remain a silent spectator of the conflict.

John Knox had come from Geneva and arrived in Perth. He preached the Reformed doctrines. The people, roused as by an electric spark, at once proceeded to the violent measure of destroying the religious houses which had for centuries adorned, and were the boast of St. Johnston.

The mass and other religious ceremonies and doctrines of the Catholic Church were denounced and proscribed. The Regent saw the approaching storm, and determined upon crushing it in the bud. Knox remained at Perth, where he was joined by the Congregation. The Queen resolved on immediate proceedings. The Earls of Arran, Argyll, and Athol were commanded to come to her, with the assistance of all their friends and followers. The French soldiers then in Scotland were also ordered to come in. She thought to surprise Perth, but, notwithstanding every exertion, a week elapsed before the necessary preparations could be made, and the artillery brought forward. The Earl of Glencairn, with the Lords Ochiltree and Boyd and other gentlemen of the West, in the Protestant interest, were on their way to Perth at the head of 1200 horse and 1300 foot. The Queen had advanced with her army to Auchterarder, where she encamped. She was desirous to enter into negotiations with the Reformers at Perth ere intelligence should reach them of the approach of Glencairn. With that view she sent to Perth demanding that some person should be sent to her camp in order to negotiate with the Earl of Arraii and M. d'Ozell concerning some reasonable agreement. In obedience to her request, Erskine of Dun, Ogilvy of Inverarity, and Scott of Abbotshall were sent to Auchterarder. They were courteously received by the Queen, who required that the town of Perth should be open to Her Majesty, and all other matters referred to her discretion. The gentlemen of the deputation replied that they had no warrant to go into such proposals, but that if the Queen would promise nobody would be disturbed for the last commotion in Perth, and if she would suffer the religion begun to go forward, and would leave the town at her departure free from French soldiers, then they would deal with their associates that Her Majesty should be obeyed in all things. Nothing, however, was formally agreed to. The deputation had scarcely left Auchterarder when the Queen was informed that the Earl of Glencairn had passed by her guards, and was in full march to Perth. She despatched the Ear! of Argyll, the Prior of St. Andrews (afterwards the Regent Moray), and Gavin Hamilton, Abbot of Kilwinning, but before these three Commissioners arrived at Perth, the Earl of Glencairn had reached that city. His reinforcement had made the part}' of Reform more difficult to deal with. Knox expostulated with the Commissioners on what he said was a dereliction of duty in pressing the Queen's conditions, seeing that they were considered favourers of a Reformation. The Commissioners answered that their hearts were still constant with their brethren, but because they had promised the Queen to endeavour to bring about an agreement, they could not falsify their word; but if the Queen did violate the least jot of what should be agreed upon, they would join themselves openly with the Congregation. On this promise being made, Mr Knox says the preachers had much ado persuading the multitude to give its consent thereto. The Commissioners returned to Auchterarder, where the Treaty was conceded on 29th May, 1559. The articles were :

I.—That both armies should be disbanded, and the town of Perth left open to the Queen.

II.—That none of the inhabitants should be molested on account of the '.ate alteration in religion.

III.—That no Frenchman should enter the town nor come within three miles, and that when the Queen retired r.o French garrison should be left in the town.

IV.—That all other controversies be referred to the next Parliament.

The next day the Congregation departed from Perth, after John Knox in a sermon had exhorted them to thank God for stopping the effusion of blood, but at the same time not to faint in supporting such as should afterwards be persecuted. Although the Treaty was entered into, it was not observed. Perhaps none of the parties were sincere in desiring that it should be adhered to.

Had Mary lived, it is difficult to say what course, with the powerful support of the House of Guise, the Reformation might have taken in Scotland; but she was destined not long to survive her visit to Auchterarder in sovereign state, surrounded by the nobles of the realm and accompanied by an armed host. In the following year she died at an early age, and not long after three of her five powerful brut hers were also removed by death from the cares and conflicts of this world.

This was the first State recognition of Protestantism in Scotland. Auchterarder may boast of being the place where the recognition took place.

It is notable that all the great ecclesiastical movements Scotland should be identified with Auchterarder. First, we have this Treaty in 1559, the preliminary to the downfall of the Roman Catholic Church. In 1717, the action of the Auchterarder Presbytery, in enunciating what was called the Auchterarder Creed, resulted in the rise, in 1732, of the Secession Church. In 1834 the stand taken by the Presbytery, in asserting the powers of the Veto Act, culminated in the Disruption of 1843.


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