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Biggar and the House of Fleming
Chapter XXV - Historical Sketches of the Fleming Family—Continued


MARY, one of the daughters of Lord Fleming who founded Biggar Kirk, and lost his life at Pinkie, was, when a child, selected to be a playmate of Mary, the young Scottish Queen, and to be trained up with her in all the branches of learning common at the period. She thus formed one of the Queen’s four Marys; the others being, Mary, daughter of Lord Livingstone; Mary, daughter of Lord Seton; and Mary, daughter of Beton, Laird of Creich. The unsettled state of the country rendering it necessary that the Queen should live in places of security, she successively occupied several castles, and spent some time on the lone but pleasant isle of Inchmahon in the lake of Monteith. After the Battle of Pinkie, the Scottish people were more averse than ever to the marriage of the Queen with Edward of England, and becoming apprehensive that no place in their country might afford her adequate protection, they resolved to send her to France. Lady Fleming, the widow of Lord Malcolm, and the Queen’s aunt, was appointed to accompany her in the capacity of governess. The Queen, attended by Lady Fleming and her four Marys, accordingly set sail for France in a French galley, commanded by Monsieur de Villegaignon, in the month of July 1548, when the Queen was in the sixth year of her age. When they had almost reached their destination, a violent storm arose, which lasted several days, and caused the youthful voyagers to suffer severely from sea-sickness. Lady Fleming repeatedly implored the captain to allow the Queen and her companions to land, and repose themselves a short time on shore; but his instructions being peremptory against any such step, he resisted all her solicitations, and at length, in a fit of ill humour, told her that she must either go to the place appointed for disembarkation, or be engulphed in the stormy ocean.

Lady Fleming was much respected and caressed at the French court. The attentions paid to her gave a handle to the English ambassador to make an attempt to injure her reputation, by alleging, in a letter which he sent to the English court, that an improper intimacy existed between her and the French king. The story appears to have been a mere fabrication, got up for the purpose of gratifying certain parties in England. It is certain, however, that Henry, King of France, held Lady Fleming in very high estimation. As a proof of this, we may a quote a letter which he wrote regarding her to the Queen Dowager of Scotland:—

'Madame my Good Sister,

'I believe that you think enough of the care, pains, and great vigilance that my cousin, the Lady Fleming, constantly takes about the person of our little daughter, the Queen of Scotland. The really good, virtuous, and hoqourable manner in which Bhe performs her duties therein, makes it only reasonable that you and I should have her, and the children of her family, in perpetual remembrance on this account. She has been lamenting to me that one of her sons is a prisoner in England, and I desire to lend a helping hand, as far as possible, to obtain his deliverance; yet, situated as I am, it is not quite easy to accomplish that wish. It appears to me, Madame my good sister, that you ought to write and request, as you have the means of doing so, to have him exchanged for some English prisoner. In doing thin, you will perform a good work for a person who merits it. Praying God, Madam,’ etc.

Lady Fleming continued to superintend the education of the young Queen for several years, when she was at length superseded by Madame Parois, a bigoted devotee of the Romish Church, whom Cardinal Lorraine, the Queen’s unde, is said to have selected as a person well qualified to instil into the mind of the Queen those extreme popish opinions which, in Germany, in England, and in Scotland, were now actively and successfully assailed, and which the ultra-Romish party, therefore, felt all the more anxious to defend and maintain. The services of Lady Fleming being no longer required about the person of the Queen, she returned to her own country in 1555, and most likely took up her residence at Boghall Castle, as assigned to her by her husband. Her daughter Mary, however, remained with the Queen as one of her maids of honour, and no doubt was present at all those amusements and festivities in which it is said the Queen so largely participated, during her abode in France. She would be one of her bridesmaids on the occasion of her marriage to the Dauphin, and she would be called on to condole with her when that young monarch was laid in a premature grave. She accompanied her back to Scotland, and heard her take that affectionate farewell of France which has been so pathetically described by many historians, and which has furnished a theme of inspiration to not a few gifted sons of song. She was afterwards a witness of some of those scenes in the life of her royal mistress, which have invested her history with a romantic interest beyond that of any monarch that ever lived,— such as her warlike displays, her progresses through her dominions, her interviews with Knox, her marriage to Damley, the murder of Rizzio, the birth of a son in Edinburgh Castle, the loss of her husband by violence, etc.' Mary Fleming was one of the ladies seated in an outer chamber of the Palace of Holyrood, gorgeously apparelled, in 1563, whom Knox addressed after one of his stormy interviews with the Queen. ‘ O fair ladies,’ said John, ‘how plesing were this lyfe of yours, if it sould evir abyde, and then in the end that we mycht pas to heiven with all this gay gear. Bot fie upon that knave Death, that will come quhidder we will or not, and quhen he hes laid on his areist the foull wormes will be busie with this flesch, be it nevir so fair and so tender. And the silly saull sail be so feabill, that it can nyther cary with it gold, gamisching, targating, pearll, nor precious stones.'

In a court which Knox was fond of describing as utterly dissolute, and at which, as he maintained, fiddling, flinging, and dallying with dames formed* the constant pastimes, it is not to be expected that the Queen’s Marys would escape his reproach. Accordingly, in his ‘History of the Reformation in Scotland,’ after referring to several wicked practices which, he alleged, prevailed at Holyrood, he states, that ‘ Schame hastit manage betwix Johne Sempill; called the Danser, and Marie Levingstoun, sumamed the Lustie;’ and he then strikes a blow at the whole of the Marys and the dancers. ‘What bruit,’ says he, ‘the Maries and the rest of the dawnsers of the court had the ballats of the age did witness, which we for modesties sake omitt.’ We are disposed to take this sweeping denunciation with considerable limitation. Knox was incensed against Queen Mary because she gave her subjects toleration with regard to their religious opinions, and because she would not renounce the faith in which she had been brought up, and become an active promoter of the principles of the Reformation. He was evidently at bottom a hilarious sort of man; but in the discharge of his duties as a minister of the Gospel, he considered himself warranted to express a strong dislike of all harmless amusements, and to attempt the imposition of the most grave and depressing austerities, particularly on the young Queen and her courtiers. Freedom to practise popish rites, and the sound of music and dancing, were regarded by him as utter abominations; and hence, throughout his ‘ History,’ he hurls against them his severest denunciations.

One of the amusements at that time practised at the Scottish court, was the cutting of a cake in which a bean had been concealed, and the distributing of it among the company present. The person who found the bean was denominated the Queen or King of the Bean, according as it might fall into the hands of a lady or a gentleman. The amusement of cutting the cake took place on the 5th of January, being the eve of Epiphany, and no doubt had its origin in connection with the ceremonies observed at the celebration of this Romish festival. On the day following, a banquet was served up in honour of the person to whose lot the bean had fallen; and, at this entertainment, the holder of the bean was saluted as King or Queen, and called on to act the part of a sovereign. On the 5th of January 1563 the bean fell into the hands of Mary Fleming; and Thomas Randolph, in a letter addressed a few days afterwards to Lord Robert Dudley, in the style of euphuism then in rogue, thus describes the success, the appearance, and effect of the mock Queen:—‘The ladies and gentlewomen,' says he, ‘ are all in health and merrie, which your Lordship should have seen, if you had been here upon Tuesday, at the great solemnity and royall estate of the Queen of the Beene. Fortune was so favourable to faire Fleyming, that, if shee could have seen to have judged of her vertue and beauty, as blindly shee went to work and chose her at adventure, shee wold sooner have made her a Queen for ever, than for one only day to exalt her so high and the nixt to leave her in the state shee found her. Ther lacked only for so noble a hart a worthie realme to endue that which—That day yt was to be seen, by her princely pomp, how fite a match she wold be, wer she to contend ether with Venus in beauty, Minerva in witt, or Juno in worldly wealth, haveing the two former by nature, and of the third so much as is contained in this realme at her command and free disposition. The treasure of Solomon, I trowe, was not to be compared unto that which that day hanged upon her back. Happy was yt unto this realme that her raigne endured no longer. Two such sights in one state, in soe good accord, I beleeve was never seen, as to behold two worthie Queens possess, without envie, one kingdom both upon a day. I leave the rest unto your Lordship to be judged of. My pen stag-gereth, my hand faileth farther to wryt. Ther praises surmount whatsomever may be thought of them. The Queen of the Been was that *day in a gowne of cloath of silver; her head, her neck, her shoulders, the rest of her whole body, so besett with stones, that more in our whole jewell house wer not to be found.’ Mary Fleming was married at Stirling to Sir William Maitland, the celebrated Secretary of Queen Mary, on the 6th of January 1567, exactly four years after she had played with so much eclat the part of Queen of the Bean.

James Lord Fleming, who succeeded his father, who fell at Pinkie, was a nobleman of distinguished abilities, and took a prominent part in the public transactions of the period in which he lived. In September 1550, along with the Earls of Huntly, Sutherland, Marischal, Cassillis, and other noblemen, he accompanied Mary of Lorraine, the Queen Dowager, in a visit which she paid to her native country of France. They sailed from Leith, and landed at Dieppe, in Normandy, in the middle of October. They then proceeded to Rouen, where the French court was, and after spending some time there in mirth and jollity, they paid a visit to Paris, and participated in the gaiety and festivities that then characterized the French capital. The ostensible object of the Queen Dowager was to see her daughter, then receiving her education in France; but her principal design in reality was to prevail on the French king to exert his influence to secure for her the office of Regent of Scotland. The King promised that he would do so, provided the Earl of Arran, at the time Regent, would voluntarily resign his office. The Queen Dowager at length left France, and landing at Portsmouth on the 2d of November 1551, repaired to London, and had an interview with King Edward VI. at Whitehall. After her return to Scotland, she set herself industriously to obtain the great object of her ambition, the Regency of the kingdom. Her efforts being crowned with success, she was, in 1554, exalted to the office of chief ruler of the ancient realm of Scotland, and thus, as Knox says, had (a croun put upoun hir Heid, als seimlie a sicht, gif men had eyes, as to put a Saidill upoun the Back of ane unrewlie Cow.1 As Lord Fleming stood high in the estimation of the Queen Dowager, he was, by letters patent under the Great Seal, appointed to the office of Lord Chamberlain of the kingdom, which had formerly been held by his father. He was also, on the death of Patrick, Earl of Bothwell, chosen Guardian and Lieutenant of the East and Middle Marches on the Border, with the power of justiciary within the limits of his jurisdiction.

Lord Fleming was one of the Commissioners appointed by the Scottish Parliament, on the 18th December 1557, to be present at the marriage of Queen Mary with the Dauphin of France. His chief colleagues in this embassy were, Beaton, Archbishop of Glasgow; Reid, Bishop of Orkney; James Stewart, Prior of St Andrews, afterwards Earl of Murray; the Earls of Cassillis and Rothes; Lord Seton; the Provosts of Edinburgh and Montrose; and Mr Erskine of Dun. To defray their expenses, a tax of L. 15,000 Scots was imposed on the burghs and the estates of the clergy and nobles. They set sail on the 8th February, and encountered extremely stormy weather; the consequence of which was, that one of the vessels that carried the rich apparel, in which they intended to make an imposing appearance at the French court, was lost off St Abb’s head, and another foundered in the roadstead off Boulogne, and all on board perished, except the Earl of Rothes and the Bishop of Orkney, who were picked up by a French fishing-boat, while the other ships were separated from each other, and arrived at different French harbours. The Commissioners, before leaving Scotland, had been carefully instructed to give no sanction to the marriage unless they obtained the most ample guarantees that the independence of the country would be maintained, and its laws and liberty secured. Before their arrival, Henry, King of France, had obtained the signature of Queen Mary to a document, conferring on him and his heirs the crown of Scotland, and her right to that of England in case of her decease without lineal succession; and to another, transferring to him the revenues of her kingdom in payment of one million of gold crowns, or any greater sum that might be expended on her board and education in France or in defence of her kingdom. The Commissioners readily agreed that the arms of France and Scotland should be borne by the Queen and her husband, on separate shields, surmounted by the French crown; that their eldest son should be sovereign of both realms; and that, in the event of their having only daughters, the eldest, who would be prevented by the Salic law from being sovereign of France, should, on her mother’s death, succeed to the throne of Scotland; but, on being summoned before the French Council after the celebration of the marriage, and required to swear fealty to the Dauphin, and confer on him the emblems of royalty, they peremptorily refused, and asserted that they would not go a step beyond the instructions which they had received from their own Parliament. The French king, finding that they were inflexibly bent on adhering to their resolution, detained them several weeks amid the gaieties and festivities of the French capital; and on dismissing them, expressed a hope that they would at least support a proposal, which he intended to lay before the Estates of Scotland, to confer the crown-matrimonial of Scotland on the Dauphin. Their young Queen also preferred the same request; and after promising to give the subject a careful consideration, they took leave of the French court, and in a short time arrived at Dieppe. At this town the Bishop of Orkney died suddenly; and in a day or two afterwards, the Earls of Rothes and Cassillis, and several other members of the embassy, were also laid in the grave. Lord Fleming, alarmed at the sudden mortality among his colleagues, drew up his Last Will and Testament, which is still preserved in the archives of the family. To his brother John he left his ‘chapel graith,’ his silver plate, the furniture of Cumbernauld House, etc.; and, among all his bequests, it is interesting to note the following: ‘Item to ye poore men of ye Westraw of Byggar one chalder of meilL’ He also enjoined on his brother to ‘set forthward ye proffet of ye Kirk of Byggar to beild ye prest’s chalmers and ye provest’s house, and desyn of ye kirk, and also ye said Ihone to set up my fadyr’s toum.’ Having executed this deed, and dreading infection, he hastened back to Paris; but, after all, he was seized with the same distemper, and died on the 18th December 1558, in the 24th year of his age. As no infectious disorder prevailed at the time, the general impression in Scotland was, that he and his colleagues died from the effects of poison, which had been administered to them in consequence of their refusal to comply with the ambitious designs of the French court.

Lord Fleming was married at an early age to Barbara, a daughter of the Duke of Chatelherault. On the 14th December 1558, he conferred on her a charter of part of the barony of Lenzie; and on the 21st December of the year following, he executed another charter in her favour, constituting her liferenter of the lands of Kildowan and Auchtermony. He left by this lady an only child—a daughter. Father Baillie, who wrote a work on the events of that period, eays that John Knox, the Reformer, after the death of his first wife, in 1561, paid his addresses to Lady Fleming. Baillie’s words are,—

‘Having laid aside al feir of tbe panis of hel, and regarding na thing the honestie of the warld, as ane bund sklave of the Devil, being kendellit with ane unquenshible lust and ambition, he durst be sua bauld to enterpryse the sute of marriage with the maist honorabil ladie, my ladie Fleming, my Lord Duke’s eldest dochter, to the end, that his seid being of the blude royal, and gydit be thair father's sperit, might have aspyrit to the crown. And becaus he receavit ane refusal, it is notoiiouslie knawn how deidlie he hated the hail hous of the Hamiltons/ What truth there may be in that statement, it would not be very easy now to discover; but it is certain that Knox was anxious to ally himself in marriage with a family of the nobility. He accordingly made suit to Margaret Stewart, a daughter of Lord Ochiltree, who was connected with the royal family, and being accepted, he was married to that lady in March 1564.

John Fleming, the second son of Lord Malcolm, succeeded, on his brother’s death, to the title and estates. On the 17th May 1564, he married Elizabeth, only daughter and heiress of Robert, Master of Ross, who was killed at Pinkie. The marriage, instead of being celebrated at the Castles of Biggar or Cumbernauld, took place in presence of Queen Mary and her court at Holyrood. From an account of the festivities which took place on this occasion, it would seem that they were celebrated in the Royal Park, at the lower end of the valley, between Arthur Seat and Salisbury Crags, a place at that time covered with water. Here the Queen, with her nobles, and foreign ambassadors, forgot for a time the cares and troubles of her unruly kingdom, and gave herself up to mirth and jollity. As Robert Chambers says, ‘The incident is so pleasantly picturesque, and associates Mary so agreeably with one of her subjects, that it is gratifying to reflect on Lord Fleming proving a steady friend throughout her subsequent troubles.’

On the 1st of August 1565, the Queen and Parliament conferred on Lord Fleming the office of Lord Chamberlain, an office that had been held by three of his immediate predecessors. In 1567 he received a grant of a third of the profits and rents of the Priory of Whithorn, as a compensation, in part, for services which he had rendered to the Queen, and for the losses which he had sustained by depredations committed by marauders from the borders. About the same time he was appointed Governor of Dumbarton Castle, and ‘ Justiciar ’ within the bounds of the Upper Ward of Clydesdale.

Lord Fleming was one of the nobles who were in the Palace of Holyrood on the night of the 9th of March 1566, when a body of armed men, headed by Darnley, Morton, Ruthven, and others, rushed into the Palace, and in the Queen’s presence assassinated David Rizzio, her foreign secretary and favourite musician. This outrage naturally caused a great uproar in the Palace. The attendants on the Queen were taken quite by surprise, and finding themselves utterly incompetent to contend against the assailing force, they escaped by the back windows, and some of them did not stop till they reached the Castle of Crichton. The persons connected with the Biggar district who were implicated in this foul conspiracy, were William Tweedie of Drummelzier, Adam Tweedie of Dreva, John Brown of Coultermains, and Richard Muirhead of Crawford. These persons, along with the other conspirators, were summoned on the 19th March following to compear personally before the King and Queen, and the Lords of the Secret Council, to answer such things as would be laid to their charge. Their names, however, do not appear in the list of those who were put to the horn for their participation in this outrage. It is not unlikely that they submitted themselves to the Council, and were sentenced to some slight punishment.

On the 19th of April 1567, Lord Fleming, along with other noblemen, subscribed a bond, acquitting the Earl of Bothwell of the murder of Lord Damley, recommending him as a fit and proper person to be elevated to the honour of being the Queen's husband, and pledging himself to stand up in defence of this unseemly and unnatural connection. The subscription of this bond was extorted by Bothwell from Lord Fleming and the other nobles, whom he had invited to an entertainment, and whom, it is said, he overawed, by surrounding them with a strong body of his retainers. Armed with this document, Bothwell seized the Queen at Cramond, and carried her off to the strong Castle of Dunbar. In a few days afterwards they appeared publicly in the streets of Edinburgh; and Bothwell, having obtained a divorce from his wife, was married to the Queen, on the 15th df May, by the Bishop of Orkney. Lord Fleming was present at this ill-starred solemnity, at which, as the author of the (Diurnal of Remarkable Occurrents,' says, ‘ there was neither pleasure nor pastime as was wont.'

It has long been a subject of disputation, whether Mary was accessory to the murder of her husband Damley; but scarcely any doubt was ever entertained, that the chief actor in this foul transaction was BothwelL He was, no doubt, acquitted of the charge by an ‘ assise;’ but this was effected by surrounding the court with armed men, and preventing any person from giving evidence against him, by a dread of personal violence. The Queen, therefore, by marrying Bothwell, lost the sympathy and respect of a great portion of her subjects. A report was spread, that Bothwell, having now obtained an entire control over the Queen, entertained the design of seizing the person of her only son James, a child of two years of age, and most likely of putting him to death also. Many of the nbbles, therefore, flew to arms, to protect the young Prince, to thwart the treacherous schemes of Bothwell, and rescue the Queen from the fangs of her bloodstained paramour. Mary summoned her subjects to rally to her standard, and having assembled a considerable force, she left Dunbar and advanced towards Edinburgh. The confederated lords with an equal number of retainers marched from the capital to Musselburgh, and learned, on reaching that town, that the Queen’s army had taken possession of the neighbouring height of Carberry. They therefore made a detour by Wallyford, and ascended the hill until they came nearly in contact with the Queen's troops. The Queen, with her usual boldness and impetuosity, insisted on bringing the matters in dispute at once to the arbitration of the sword; but her friends by no means possessed the same ardour for the combat as herself. They counselled delay until the expected reinforcements from Clydesdale, under the command of the Haxniltons, should arrive. The Queen then proposed that she should go and meet them, promising that she would immediately return; but this design was opposed. It is likely that these reinforcements were at the very time on their way to join the Queen. The opposing forces came face to face on Carberry Hill on the 15th of June; and on the day preceding, the following letter was sent by Lord John Hamilton to Lord Fleming, at his Castle of Boghall:—

‘My Lord,—Efter maist h&rtie commendatioune ze sail understand that I reeavit ane writtin fra the quenis Maistie, daitdt at Dunbar, the xiij of this instant of Junij, that hir grace is reddy to cum fordwart this morning toward Haldingtoun, and therfore desiris me and my friendis to be in redi-ness, quhen it sail pleise hir to charge us to merche fordwart. Heirfoir I haif thocht goid to send this berar, knawing that zour lordship sould be togidder this nicht, in to Beggar, to knaw zour dyet, and thinkis goid, safand better counsell, that we joyne us togidder or we cum to hir Maiestie, baith for zour surete and ouris. And we intend quhen we marche, to pass be Pentlandhilla or neir therhie, and gif ze please to appoint ony place be that way, we being chargit to cum fordwart, we wald be glad to meit zou ther, as ye sail appoint; and the rest referris to zour advertisment with the berar; and sa committis zour lordship to the protectioune of God, this Saterday at vij houris afoirnoune the xiiij of Junij 1567.

Zour Lordship’s loving friend at power,

Jhone Hamilton.’

From a statement made in an old document, it would seem that Fleming and his Biggar retainers actually reached Carberry, but the whole of the Clydesdale forces did not arrive in time; and the Queen was thus induced^ to dismiss Bothwell, and surrender herself to the confederated lords. She was conducted with every mark of indignity and disrespect to Edinburgh, and next day, in violation of the conditions on which she had surrendered, she was placed in confinement in Lochleven Castle. Lords Fleming and Hamilton, after the Queen’s surrender, withdrew their forces to Hamilton to watch the progress of events.

After the surrender of the Queen at . Carberry, the Earl of Bothwell fled to the north of Scotland It would seem from a letter of Sir Nicholas Throkmorton to Queen Elizabeth, dated 18th July 1567, that he had been joined there by Lords Fleming and Seton. The likelihood is, that they had been despatched from Hamilton to hold a conference with him, and learn his designs. It is evident from the following extract from the letter, that their stay with him was short, and that, to their credit, they left him to his fate:—'Bodwell doethe still remaine in the northe partyes, bot the Lordis Seaton and Flemynge, which have ben there, have utterlye abandoned hym, and doe repayre hetherwardes.’

The party opposed to the Queen saw that it would be of importance to gain the countenance and oo-operation of the leaders of the Protestant Church, now in the ascendancy in Scotland, as thereby they were likely to secure the favour of the great body of the people. They, therefore, took an active part in the prooeedings of the General Assembly which met at Edinburgh in the month of June, and which was presided over by the celebrated George Buchanan, Principal of St Leonards College, St Andrews. Through their influence, letters were addressed to Lord Fleming and a number of noblemen belonging to the other faction, calling upon them to come to Edinburgh to engage in the important work of establishing the principles of true religion in the Church, defining the just rules of ecclesiastical government, and providing a suitable maintenance for the clergy and the poor, A commission, consisting of John Knox, John Douglas, John Row, and John Craig, was appointed to wait upon these lords in person; but Lord Fleming was too zealous a Roman Catholic, and too much devoted to the cause of the Queen, to comply with any such proposal, even though he had entertained no apprehension of danger in appearing in Edinburgh, which was then entirely in the hands of his opponents.

Morton, Ruthven, Grange, and the other barons leagued against the Queen, soon found that all their ostentatious zeal for the Protestant faith would not be sufficient to support their popularity. Their treacherous and cruel treatment of the Queen was beginning to rouse the indignation of the people, and the charge of rebellion both at home and abroad was constantly rung in their ears. They considered that, in order to extenuate their conduct, it would be necessary to make the Queen still more accessory to her own humiliation. They therefore despatched Lord Lindsay, a man of stem and rough manners, to Lochleven, to induce the Queen, by persuasion, or if necessary by force, to abdicate the throne, to invest her infant son James with the sovereign power, and to appoint her brother, the Earl of Murray, Regent of the kingdom during the young King’s minority. The Queen was forced, from a dread of personal violence, to adhibit her name to the degrading documents, which stript her of her crown. Steps were immediately taken to have the young Prince crowned. Sir James Melville was despatched to Hamilton, where Lords Hamilton,

Fleming, Boyd, and other friends of the Queen were still assembled, to invite them to be present at the coronation, which was to take place on the 29th of July. They were, of course, astonished to hear of the Queen's abdication, and could scarcely believe that it had occurred; but, after some consultation, John Hamilton, Archbishop of St Andrews, in reply to Sir James Melville, said, 'We ar beholden to the noble men wha has sent yon with that frendly and discret commissioun, and following ther desyre ar redy to concure with them, gif they mak us sufficient securitie of that quhilk ye have said in ther name. In sa doing they gif us occasion to supose the best of all ther proceadings past and to com; sa that gif they had maid us foir-sean of ther first enterpryse to the punishment of the mourtheris we suld have tone plane pairt with them. And wheras now we ar heir eonvenit, it is not till persew or offend any of them, bot to be vpon our awen gardis, vnderstanding of sa gret a concourse of noblemen, barrons, bourroues, and vthrs subiects. Not being maid privy to ther enterpryse, we thocht meit to draw us togither till we mycht se whertu thingis wald turn.’

The confederated lords at Hamilton not having received satisfactory assurance of protection, and not approving of the business to be transacted, did not attend the coronation of the infant Prince at Stirling. In the Castle of Dumbarton, held for the Queen by Lord Fleming, they entered into a bond for the purpose of restoring the Queen to liberty. The document to which they appended their names commences by stating that they had no freedom of access to her Majesty for transacting their lawful business; and therefore they bind themselves to use all diligence, and to adopt all reasonable means to set her at liberty, upon such conditions as may be consistent with her honour, the advantage of her kingdom, and the security of her subjects. In the event of the refusal of the noblemen who had her in custody to open her prison-doors, they declared that they would employ themselves, their kin and friends, their servants and partakers, and their bodies and lives, to put her Highness at liberty, as well as to procure the punishment of the murderer of the King her husband, and the safe preservation of the Prince her son. They also issued a proclamation from the same place, calling upon all good subjects to be ready on nine hours’ warning to take arms for the delivery of the Queen.

Queen Mary, by the aid of William Douglas, a boy of fifteen or sixteen years of age, was at length enabled, on Sunday the 2d May 1568, to escape from Lochleven. She was received, on landing from the boat that conveyed her ashore, by Lord Seton and a party of his retainers, and conveyed to Niddrie Castle, and next day to Hamilton. Intelligence of her escape soon spread far and wide, and brought large accessions to her ranks, so that in the course of a day or two her troops amounted to 6000 men. A bond was drawn up and signed by nine earls, nine bishops, eighteen lords, twelve abbots and priors, and about a hundred other barons, pledging themselves to protect the Queen and restore her to her rights. Lord Fleming, of course, was among the number of those who signed this bond. Mary’s desire was to go with Lord Fleming to the strong Castle of Dumbarton, where she could remain in safety till she saw whether the nation in general would declare in favour of her restoration, or whether it would be necessary for her to abandon her kingdom, and retire once more to France. The Hamiltons being amdous to gain an ascendancy in the management of public affairs, thought that the presence of the Queen was necessary to the accomplishment of their designs, and therefore they detained her several days in the Castle of Draffen. The Earl of Murray had assembled a force of 4000 men at Glasgow, and a request was sent to him by the lords at Hamilton to agree to repone the Queen to her former status at the head of the government; but as he refused to do this, it was resolved to conduct the Queen in a sort of warlike procession to the Castle of Dumbarton on the 13th of May, under the direction of the Duke of Argyle, who had been appointed commander-in-chief of the Queen's forces. The Earl of Murray no sooner learned that the Queen’s army was on its march towards Dumbarton, than he crossed the Clyde, and took possession of the little village of Langside, where he advantageously stationed his hagbutters among the cottages, hedges, and gardens that skirted the narrow road along which the Queen’s forces were to pass. The Queen’s vanguard, 2000 strong, commanded by Lord Claud Hamilton, soon advanced to dispute the passage, and were received by a murderous fire, which they were unable to return with any effect. Though thrown into a state of some confusion by the shower of balls to which they were exposed, yet being confident in the superiority of their numbers, they continued to press up the rising ground on which the village is situated. At this juncture they were charged by Murray’s advanced division, consisting chiefly of border pikemen, and then the combat was carried on with the greatest obstinacy and fury. The shock of spears was tremendous; and these weapons from either side were so closely interlaced, that pistols and broken shafts flung on them were prevented from falling to the ground. 1 Linked in the serried phalanx tight’ the combat raged, till the right wing of the Regent’s army, consisting of the barons of Renfrew, began to give way. Kirkcaldy of Grange, to retrieve this disaster, immediately brought up Lochleven, Lindsay, Balfour, and their retainers, and charged the victorious detachment of the Queen’s troops with such fury, that they were driven back in their turn. The Regent seized this juncture to make an onset with his main body, and the effect of it was such, that the whole opposing force was chased in irretrievable rout and confusion from the field.

Lord Fleming himself took no part in the battle. Along with Lords Herries and Livingstone and a small guard, he stood by the Queen's side at a thorn-tree, not far distant from Cathcart Castle, and watched the progress of the fight with breathless anxiety and suspense. When that small party saw that their hopes were blasted and their designs frustrated by the victory of the Regent, they lost no time in placing the Queen on horseback, and conveying her by a circuitous route through Ayrshire, Nithsdale, and Galloway, to the Abbey of Dundrennan. Mary, in a letter written to her uncle, the Cardinal Lorraine, during this journey, which lasted two days, states, ‘ I have suffered injuries, calumnies, hunger, cold, and heat; flying, without knowing whither, fourscore and twelve miles, without once pausing to alight; and then lay on the hard ground, having only sour milk to drink, and oatmeal to eat, without bread, passing three nights with the owls.1 In the Abbey of Dundrennan she sat in council with her friends for the last time; and here she intimated her intention to proceed to England, and throw herself on the protection of Queen Elizabeth. Lord Fleming, Lord Herries, the Archbishop of St Andrews, and others who were present, implored her to abandon this design, and to put no faith in the specious promises and pretences of the English Queen. Finding her deaf to their remonstrances, they prevailed on her to sign an instrument exonerating them from all approval of, or complicity in, the step on which she had resolved. A boat was then procured, and the Queen, accompanied by Lords Fleming, Boyd, Livingstone, and others, amounting in all to sixteen persons, crossed the Solway Firth, and landed at Workington, a small town on the coast of Cumberland. She there surrendered herself to the English . Deputy Warden, named Lowther, who assigned her a residence in the Castle of Carlisle, till such time as he should receive instructions from Elizabeth regarding her further disposaL Lords Fleming and Herries hastened up to the English court, with the view of entering into arrangements for the Queen's proper accommodation; but their mission was unsuccessful, and Mary was shortly afterwards removed to Bolton Castle in Yorkshire, where she was placed in the strictest confinement. Here, however, she found means to carry on a correspondence with her friends in Scotland, and, among others, with Lord Fleming. In a letter, dated ‘Off Bowtoune, the 27th of September 1568,’ and addressed to the Archbishop of St Andrews, she says, ‘ We haif vritten in ciphere to my Lord Flemyng, quha will mak zou participant therof.’ We cannot find, however, that any of her letters to Lord Fleming have been preserved.

Lord John Fleming, after returning from London, was despatched by Queen Mary to the French court, to explain the late events in her history, to vindicate her character, and ask for advice and assistance. On the 24th of August 1568, most likely before his return from France, he and his relative, John Fleming of Boghall, were summoned to present them&elves before Parliament and answer for their late conduct in supporting the Queen. Haying failed to appear, their estates were liable to be forfeited; but at the request of the Regent, who in this case is said to have acted on the advice of Queen Elizabeth, it was agreed that the sentence of forfeiture should for a short time be suspended, in order that they might have a fair opportunity to acknowledge their faults, and be reconciled to Queen Mary’s successor, her son James. ,

The Regent Murray, in order to justify his conduct in taking up arms against the Queen, publicly charged her with being accessory to the death of her husband Darnley. On this account, Queen Elizabeth refused to hold an interview with her until she could exonerate herself from this charge. Elizabeth's object was to obtain a plea to be constituted judge in a cause so important as a dispute between the Queen of Scotland and her subjects. She had no right to put the Scottish Queen on her trial for this or any other offence; but Mary, confident in her innocence, and acting under due protest, accepted the tribunal. Commissioners from both sides were thereupon appointed to meet at York in October 1568, and thither Mary sent Lords Fleming and Herries, the Bishop of Ross, and other able friends, to act in her defence. It was on this occasion that the Earl of Murray, in order to give a tangible proof of Queen Mary's guilt, produced the famous letters and sonnets which, it was alleged, had passed between the Queen and Bothwell, and had been taken from a servant of that nobleman's called Dalgleish. The investigation was carried on for five months; and Elizabeth, in the end, dismissed the Commissioners, declaring that the criminal charge against Queen Mary had not been proved.

Lord Fleming, after this period, took up his abode in Dumbarton Castle, of which he still continued to be Governor. The Master of Graham was several times sent to the Castle for the purpose of persuading him to surrender it to the Regent; but he obstinately persisted in rejecting all overtures on the subject. The Regent, therefore, invested it with a considerable force, and as any attempt to carry it by assault was considered hopeless, the siege was turned into a blockade; and on the 18th of November 1569, ‘ sentence of foxrfaltour wes pronouncit aganis Lord John Fleming, and John Fleming of Bog-hall, for the keiping and halding the Castel of Dumbartane aganis the Kingis majestie.’ This sentence was confirmed by the Scottish Parliament in 1571; and the Act then passed, among other things, states, ‘ And thairfoir decemis and ordanis all and sundrie ye landis, guidis, movable and vnmovable, alsweill landis as offices, and vther thingis quhatsomever pertening to thame and euerye ane of thame, to be confiscate to our sourane lord, and to remane in propertie w* his heynes for ewir. And thair persones to underlye ye panes of tressone extreme and just puncisment distinatt of ye lawes of yis Realme. Quhilk dome wes pronouncit be ye mowth of Andro Lindsay, dempstar of ye said Parliament' The estate of Biggar, and the other estates of Lord Fleming, by this sentence were transferred to the Crown, and were held by it for eight years.

The garrison of Dumbarton began, ere long, to be straitened for want of provisions; but early on the morning of the 15th December, the Laird of Borg, taking advantage of the darkness that prevailed, and the want of vigilance on the part of the blockading force, sue-ceeded in conveying into the Castle several ‘ky’ and 'laides of meill,’ greatly to the satisfaction of the Governor and his men, but vastly to the displeasure of the Regent, who sharply rebuked his captains and men of war that they ‘ tholit the said fumischings to pas to ye Castel.1 The Regent made various efforts to induce Lord Fleming to surrender the Castle during the month of January 1569-70; but intelligence having reached his Lordship that Thomas Fleming, a brother of the Laird of Boghall, had arrived in Lochryan from France, with two large ships laden with provisions and military stores for the use of the garrison, he refused to hold any further parley on the subject The Regent, baffled in obtaining the object of his desire, left Dumbarton, and, in a few days afterwards, was shot at Linlithgow by Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh. The besiegers, so soon as they received intelligence of the Regent's death, broke up the blockade and retired to Stirling. In a few days afterwards, Thomas Fleming arrived at Dumbarton with his ships, and transferred the whole stores to the fortress without molestation. The Earl of Argyle, several of the Hamiltons, and other adherents of the Queen, repaired to the Castle, and held a conference with Lord Fleming on the posture of public affairs, consequent on the death of the Regent.

Queen Elizabeth, at the instigation of the Sling’s faction, sent an army at this juncture into Scotland, under the command of Sir William Dury, which, during the spring of 1570, committed great havoc in Clydesdale on the estates of the adherents of the Queen. The devastation at Hamilton was such as had hardly ever been paralleled in Scotland before, and the ruthless soldiery ‘herrit all the Monkland—my Lord Fleming's boundis, my Lord Livingstone's boundis, together with al their puir tennantis and freindis, in sic maner that nae heart can think theron bot the same must be dolorous.' Sir William, after perpetrating these enormities, had the audacity to repair to Dumbarton in the month of May, and request a parley with the Governor respecting the Archbishop of St Andrews, who had taken refuge in the fortress. Lord Fleming, justly enraged at the outrages which Sir William had committed, saluted him with a bullet discharged from one of the great guns on the ramparts. This was considered a grievous outrage by the King's party, and gave rise to a ballad, entitled ‘ The Tresson of Dumbartane,’ which' was printed in black letter, at Edinburgh, by Robert Lekpreuik, in 1570. The first verse of it is as follows:—

'In Mayis moneth, mening na dispate,
Quhen luff axis dois thair dailie obseruance
To Venus Quene, the goddes of delyte,
The fyftene day, befell the samen chance.’

After the death of the Earl of Murray, the Earl of Lennox was chosen Regent. This nobleman manifested great anxiety to obtain possession of the Castle of Dumbarton, as a rumour prevailed that Lord Fleming intended to deliver it to the French. He craved assistance from England, in order that he might besiege it in due form; and Queen Elizabeth sent an armament by sea, for the ostensible purpose of furthering the designs of the Regent, but the real policy of that monarch was to crush neither of the two factions into which Scotland was divided, but allow them to weaken each other by continued quarrels and outrages. It does not therefore appear that the English force ever invested the Castle. Indeed, Elizabeth became of opinion that the Queen’s party had been rather too much weakened already; and therefore her lieutenant, the Earl of Sussex, caused the Regent to give an assurance that he> would, at least for a time, abstain from inflicting any further outrages on his opponents. The Regent, nevertheless, in violation of this compact, despatched a strong detachment of men to Biggar, and, according to the testimony of Richard Bannatyne, the secretary of John Knox, who wrote a Journal of the Transactions of Scotland from 1570 to 1573, they committed great enormities; and as the estates of Lord Fleming had been forfeited, they compelled the tenants in the Barony of Biggar, as well as in Thankerton and Glenholm, to pay large contributions under the name of the mails and rents of their lands. From Biggar they went to Cumbernauld, and perpetrated similar outrages, besides destroying the deer in the forest of that barony, and the quhit ky and bulHs of the said forrest, to the gryt distructione of polecie and hinder of the commanweill.’


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