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History of the Town and Castle of Dumbarton
Part IV. History of the Town and Castle of Dumbarton


Haco King of Norway's Expedition to the Firth of Clyde—His, Capturing the Is. lands of Lochlomond and surrounding Country—The consequent Battle of Largs, with the complete Discomfiture of his Fleet and Army by the Scots, In the Reign of Alexander Ill. 1263—Duxnbarton the principal Naval Station of Flag James IV. and V.—Description of a large Ship built by James IV. at Tullibarden—Infant Queen Mary carried to Dumbarton Castle for safety—Em. barked for France for her Education—John Duke of Albany arrives from France at the Harbour of Dumbarton—The Earl of Lennox in possession of the Castle In 1544, during his contention for the Regency—Earl of Morton a Prisoner there —Lord George Douglas created Earl of Dumbarton by Charles II.—Fortress taken through stratagem by the Covenanters, In 1639—Recaptured by the Royal Forces—Retaken again by the Covenanters, under the command of the Earl of Glencairn—Robert Kerr of Kersland, a landed Gentleman in Lanarkshire, who was zealously attached to the principles of the Reformation, a Prisoner in the Castle—His Petition to the Privy Council of Scotland—Dumbarton Castle taken by escalade, under the Command of Captain Crawford of Jordanhlll—lnventory of the Cannons, Bullets, and Provisions, &c. taken—Description of the "Gallow Flail," an ancient Military Weapon found in the Castle.

It would appear that, in very early ages, a number of the Hebridean or Western Islands of Scotland were possessed by the Norwegians and Danes—whether they were ceded to the Norwegian monarchs, or acquired by conquest, history does not explicitly inform us; but it is more than probable they were gained by the power of arms. The following is the Norwegian account of this far-famed invasion :-

"At the time that King Haco ruled over Norway, Alexander the Third, the son of William, was then King of Scotland. He was a very great prince, and very ambitious of the world's praise. He sent, as an embassy from Scotland in the western seas, two bishops to Haco, king of Norway. At first they begged to know if King Haco would give up those territories in the Hebrides, which King 'Magnus of the Bare Foot' had unjustly wrested from. Malcolm, predecessor to the Scottish King. King Haco replied, that Magnus had settled with Malcolm what districts the Norwegians should have in Scotland, or in the islands which lay near to it. He affirmed, however, that the King of Scotland had no sovereignty in the Hebrides at the time when King Magnus had won them from King Godred; and, also, that King Magnus had then only asserted his birthright. The Scottish commissioners then said, that the King of Scotland was willing to purchase all the Hebrides from King Haco, and entreated him to value them in fine silver. The king replied, that he knew no such urgent want of money as would induce him to sell his inheritance. With this answer the Scottish ambassadors departed. From this and other causes, some misunderstandings arose betwixt the two kings. The Scottish monarch, however, renewed the negotiations, and sent to Norway many explanations and proposals, but they received no other answer than what is above related. When Alexander could not purchase these territories from King Haco, he, in the year 1249, took other measures in band, which were to take the islands by conquest. Therefore, collecting strong forces throughout all Scotland, he prepared for a voyage to the Hebrides, and was fully determined to subdue these islands under his dominion. He made it manifest before all his subjects that he would not desist till he had set his standard east of the clefts of Thurso, and bad reduced under him all the provinces which the Norwegian monarch possessed to the westward of the German Ocean. King Alexander wished John, King of the Isles, to take part with him in the subjugation of the Hebrides. The Scottish King, moreover, added, that if he would join him in good earnest, he would reward him with many great estates on the mainland of Scotland, together with his confidence and favour. All King John's relations and friends pressed him to assent; but he behaved well and uprightly, and declared that he would not break his oath of allegiance to King Haco. King Alexander had a fleet speedily equipped, and he sailed in the front of the expedition himself. While lying near the Isle of Mull, he dreamed a dream, and imagined three men came to him; he thought one of them was in royal robes, but very stern, ruddy in countenance, somewhat stout, and of a middling size; another seemed of a slender make, but active, and, of all men, the most engaging and majestic; the third, again, was of a very great stature, bdt his features were distorted, and,, of all the rest, he was the most unsightly. They addressed their speech to the king, and inquired whether he meant to invade the Hebrides. Alexander answered, that he certainly proposed to subject these islands to his own dominion and sway. The genius of the vision bade him 'go back,' and told him the measure would not turn out to his advantage. The king then related his dream to his captains and confidential friends; they advised him to return, but he would not, and in a short time thereafter he was seized with a disorder and died.. The Hebridians say, that the men whom the king saw in his dream where the spirits of St. Olive, one of the former princes of Norway; St. Magnus, Earl of Orkney; and St. Columba, the celebrated apostle of Ions. King Haco, hearing of this invasion of his dominions by the Scottish King, held a great council of war near Bergen, in Norway, and there a numerous host and fleet were collected together. The king then declared that this whole army was intended to proceed against Scotland, in the western seas, and to revenge the inroad which the Scotch had made into his dominions. Prince Magnus begged to have the command of this expedition instead of King Haco, who should remain at home. He thanked him with many courteous words, but he observed that he himself was older, and had longer acquaintance with the western islands, and therefore he would go in person and command the fleet and army.

"In this expedition King Haco had a great vessel, which he caused to be built and constructed at Bergen in Norway. It was built entirely of oak, and contained twenty-seven banks of oats and rowers. It was ornamented with the heads and necks of dragons, beautifully overlaid with gold—he had also a great many other well stored and well appointed ships. He was joined by the fleet of Magnus, King of the Isle of Man, so that lace's combined fleet amounted to more than one hundred large vessels, all well equipped with provisions, men, and arms. They arrived. at the Hebrides in the month of June, 1263. They fired, pillaged, and totally destroyed the islands of Mull, Gigha, Kintyre, &c. John, King of the Isles, promised and endeavoured to do everything in his power to effectuate a peace between the Norwegian and the Scottish Kings; but this be could not by any means effect. Soon thereafter King Haco sent Gilbert, Bishop of Hamar, Henry, Bishop of Orkhey, Andrew Nicolson, Andrew Platt, and Paul Soor, as envoys, to treat of a peace with the King of Scotland. They appeared at the court of the Scottish Monarch, and laid before him their overtures. He received them very graciously and honourably, and seemed inclined to listen to terms of peace; but he would agree only to such terms as he himself would propose, which he would transmit to King Haco. The Norwegian commissioners then departed, and the Scottish envoys arrived soon thereafter. King Haco had proposed that all the islands to the west of Scotland which he called his, should be named and wrote down. The King of Scotland, on the other band, had named all such as he would not by any means relinquish, and which he would contend for in honourable warfare. These were—Bute, Arran, and the two Cum-braes. As to other matters, there was very little difference between the Sovereigns; but, however, no final agreement took place. The Scottish Monarch purposely declined coming to any understanding, because summer was now drawing to a close, and the weather was becoming very stormy and boisterous amongst the Western Isles. Finding this, Haco sailed in to the firth of Clyde past the Cuinbraes with all his naval forces. The truce was now declared to be totally abandoned. Sixty ships of Haco's fleet sailed up Lochlong, which were commanded by Magnus, King of the Isle of Man. When they came to Arrochar they dragged many of their light boats on shore, and drew them a mile and a half across the isthmus to Lochlomond. On the other side of this immense lake was the Castle and Earldom of Lennox, which they pillaged. In this lake were a great number of islands, and then numerously inhabited: these they all destroyed by fire and sword, capturing some hundreds of black cattle, and otherwise making great havoc and devastation. The Norwegians afterwards retired to their fleet, and encountered a very violent storm, in which ten of their ships were dashed to pieces on the shores and rocks of Lochlong. The remainder of King Haco's fleet lay for some time near the islands of the Cumbraes. Michaelmas fell on a Saturday, and the Monday night following, being 1st of October, there arose a great tempest, with heavy hailstones and rain. The fleet was therefore forced up the channel of the Clyde; and the tempest continued, so furious on the followirig day, that the masts of many of their vessels were cut away, and others ran aground. Five ships were east on shore at the village of Largs, and totally destroyed. Indeed, so prodigious was the storm and hurricane, that the Norwegians generally said that it was certainly raised by the power of Scottish magic.

"When the Scots army, under Alexander, saw that the vessels had run aground and were landing the Norwegian troops, they advanced boldly, and furiously attacked them with missile weapons; but the Norwegians gallantly defended themselves under covert of their remaining ships. The Scots made several attempts, at different times, to cut down the landing army, but they failed, and many were wounded and a few killed. The wind and storm somewhat abated, and Haco sent a reinforcement on shore in boats; afterwards the king himself was landed from the fleet, attended by Thorlang Bosi, a Norway prince: they left the commodore's ship in a splendid barge belonging to the 'Master of Lights.' 'Masters of Lights' were young gentlemen who held lights or tapers in their hands at table, while the Norwegian monarchs dined with their courtiers and other nobility. As soon as the king approached the land the Scots retired a little inland, and the Norwegians continued on shore all the night; but the Scots, nevertheless, during the darkness, entered the transports and carried away as much of the provisions and lading as they possibly could. On the morning of Oct. 3, the king, with a numerous reinforcement, came on shore again, and ordered the transports to be lightened of their provisions, &c. and towed to the ships which lay off the land. The whole Scottish army now advanced under their bold and dauntless Royal commander. The commodore of the Norwegian fleet entreated that King Haco should go on board of the fleet; but he insisted to remain on shore to take a share in the contest and battle. All the commanders further urged him, for his own safety, to betake himself to the flag-ship off land, as they were extremely anxious regarding his life and security. He was at last persuaded, and left the shores in one of his own state barges. The Scottish army now made a rapid and furious approach towards the Norwegians. It consisted of nearly fifteen hundred gallant knights, all of whom rode on horses, with brazen breastplates; and there were also very many Spanish steeds, mounted in complete fighting armour. Alexander, the Scottish King, had moreover a numerous army of foot soldiers, well accoutred, and, for the most part, armed with bows, arrows, and spears. The Norwegians, who had planted themselves on an eminence, apprehensive of being surrounded, began to retire in disorder towards their boats on the shore. The Scots, at this time, attacked them furiously with arrows, darts, and stones. Showers of other missile weapons were poured upon the Norwegians, who very bravely defended themselves, and retired in good order; but when- they approached the sea, each wan hurried faster than another, those on the beach supposing that they were all routed. Some there-. fore leaped into their boats and pushed off from the land, others jumped into the transports, and some into the sea and were drowned. At this crisis, one named Skeine, a Norwegian nobleman, and prime minister of King Haco, fell. In the Scottish army there was a young gallant knight, named Ferash, equally distinguished by his valour, birth, and fortune; be wore a helmet plated with gold, and set with diamonds and very precious stones, and the rest of his armour was most gorgeous and of a piece with it. He rode on his charger along the Norwegian line, which no other Scotchman dared venture. He once and again, with his high mettled steed, galloped along the Norwegian ranks, eyeing their position, and then back again to his own followers, without receiving any injury. Andrew Nicolson, a brave leader of the Danish and Norwegian army—supposed to be originally a Scotchman—had by this time reached near to the Scottish army. He then challenged and encountered this illustrious Scottish knight, and afterwards struck at his thigh with such force that he cut it through the armour with his two-edged Norway sword, which even penetrated to the very saddle. The Norwegians then stripped him of his very beautiful armour and splendid diamond belt, as he lay in his gore on the grassy heath." This battle ended in the complete discomfiture of the Norwegian fleet and army.

John Fordun, a Scottish historian, states, that in this engagement the Scots were commanded by Alexander Stewart, uncle of Walter Stewart, who married Marjory, daughter of Robert the Bruce, and very erroneously adds, that Haco had 160 ships and 20,000 men; and then says, "that by the will of God, and by the exertions of Queen Saint Margaret, protectoress of the kingdom of Scotland, there arose, on the very day of the battle, a most violent tempest of the sea, which tossing the ships tore up their anchors, made their masts go overboard, and all their tackle gave way, because of the immense billows of the ocean and rage of the winds, so that the ships, being dashed against each other, were wrecked on the lands and on the rocks, and thousands of the mariners were drowned and became the prey of the sea; and those who did reach the land were immediately, met by our people and killed on the spot, or put to flight and drowned. Amongst the many thousands who perished, the King of Norway had to lament one noble Norwegian—his grandson—a man of great strength and activity. The king himself effected his escape with great difficulty. Grieved for the great loss of his ships, mariners, and warriors, he with no small difficulty reached the Orkney Islands, where he passed the winter, in the expectation of a more powerful force for the subjugation of the islands of Scotland, but he died." Fordun's account of this battle thus bears a striking similarity in its main features to that of the Norwegian; and the great storm, which both parties considered at the time as supernatural, is imputed by the one to the influence of the tutulary guardian of the kingdom, and by the other to the agency of evil spirits and of Scottish magic.

The Norwegian King, with the remnant of his army and shattered fleet, being met by his other ships from Lochlong, who had sailed on the Lochlomond expedition, proceeded in their disabled condition to Lamlash Bay, and got partially refitted for their return to Norway. Some Scottish historians, however, affirm that Haco had at first arrived at the harbour of Ayr, on the coast of Scotland, with a fleet of 600 sail, and landed 20,000 men—and of these 20,000, 16,000 to 18,000 were slain by the Scots; and of this immense fleet there only remained four vessels, in which the king with his few remaining followers escaped, and landed at Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands, where he died of extreme grief shortly thereafter.

The Danes and Norwegians had, for many previous centuries, often ravaged the Scottish coasts, but this was the last occasion on which that ancient piratical people set foot on Scottish ground in a hostile manner. In the year 872, or about four centuries previous to this battle of the Largs, they besieged, destroyed, and burned our ancient town of Aleluith, under Olive and Ivar, two confederate kings, as mentioned in part first of this history.

In the year 1266, we find that there was a peace concluded at Perth betwixt the Scots and Norwegians, at which Alexander the Third, King of Scotland, was present, with many of his nobles and clergy; and, the King of Norway was represented by-the High Chancellor of his kingdom, accompanied by a Norwegian baron. The articles of treaty were—that the King of Norway should resign over to the Scottish. Crown all the southern division of the Hebrides, and that they should for ever after belong to the King of Scotland, together with their superiorities, rents, services, homages, and all other rights belonging to them; and also the ecclesiastical jurisdiction and patronage of the bishopric of the Isle of Man; and that all the inhabitants of these western isles, so ceded to the Crown of Scotland, should enjoy every privilege granted to them and enjoyed by them under the Kings of Norway, without being answerable for any action they had been guilty of while under the government of their former kings; and that the said inhabitants should be in future under the government of the Kings of Scotland, and be in due subjection to Scottish laws, unless they chose to reside in England, in which case they had full liberty to remove without molestation or hindrance. On the other hand, the Scottish monarch bound himself and his successors to pay, in return for this renunciation, four thousand merks sterling, within four years after the date of this treaty, together with an annual sum of one hundred merks sterling, to be paid yearly in the Church of Saint Magnus, in the Orkney Islands, by Alexander and his successors, to the King of Norway and his successors for ever.

King James IV. purchased a ship from the Laird of Laught —an estate in this vicinity—which was repaired, victualled, and equipped in the harbour of Dumbarton. This harbour and river, at an early period, became the principal naval station, and, indeed, was the only one on the west coast, for the King's ships, which were always favourite objects of his Majesty. They lay here in great safety from hurricanes and storms, and were under the protection of our formidable fortress. In July, 1494, the King made a great expedition from Dumbarton by sea to Tarbet in Kintyre, when he was numerously attended by all the nobility and gentry of the south and west, accompanied with the then official gentlemen of the Burgh and County. About this time he caused to be built at Dumbarton a great number of large row-barges, which employed a great many men and other ship-builders, for the period of more than seven months. In May, 1495, the King again, with his ships and row-barges, well provisioned, armed, and manned, sailed from this harbour on another expedition to the Western Isles, gorgeously attended by a numerous retinue of nobles and barons. The burgh treasurer's accounts, at this date, bear a considerable item of expense, occasioned by this Royal naval western tour among the islands of the Gael.

Pitscottie the historian' gives the dimensions of a huge vessel built by His Majesty James IV. which was in his day preserved at Tullibarden. The author says "she was planted in hawthorn, the length and breadth by the wright who helped to mak her." She was two hundred and forty feet long, and thirty-six feet within the sides, and the sides were ten feet thick. In building her, all the oak wood of Fifeshire, except Falkland, was expended on her, besides what was brought from Norway; and upwards of a year was employed, by Scottish and foreign carpenters, in the construction of her, even although the King himself superintended and anxiously urged on the work personally. Her guns were only thirty-two; but she had an immense number of small artillery, cross bows, serpents, falcons, hagbuts, &c. The mariners were three hundred, her gunners one hundred and twenty, and, with others, her whole complement amounted to about one thousand men. When the King got her fully equipped and ready for sea, he then thought justly that she was the wonder of the world.

John, Duke of Albany, arrived in the year 1515 from France, and landed at the harbour of Dumbarton, accompanied by a numerous French fleet. His splendid reception on his entering our romantic Fortress was greeted by the whole inhabitants and nobility of the Town and surrounding district, and even by the unusual congratulation of the people of Scotland. At a full meeting of the Scottish Parliament, he was thereafter unanimously appointed Regent of the kingdom, immediately after the demise of James IV.

In the year 1540, James the Fifth undertook an expedition truly worthy of a patriotic Sovereign; making, with a strong fleet and a sufficient body of troops, a grand circumnavigation of the whole realm of Scotland, acquainting himself with the various islands, harbours, capes, currents, and tides. In the Hebrides, he took hostages from the most turbulent chiefs for the quiet behaviour of their respective followers and clans, who bore in general the deal nations which they have at this day---such as the M'Donalds, M'Leods, M'Leans, M'Kenzies, M'Farlanos, and others.. In this expedition His Majesty showed to the most remote part of his dominions the presence of their Sovereign in a dignified position, and was both able and willing to support the honour of the crown, and the due administration of Justicet while at the same time be struck a salutary terror into the heads of those Clans who were unwilling to acknowledge any higher authority than their own feudal laws. James sailed from Leith, on this praiseworthy expedition, about the 22d of May, and landed at the harbour of Dumbarton about the end of July, 1540; after a voyage which, in that early state of navigation, was not without its dangers and perils.

During the, great civil commotions which took place in Scotland in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries, this Town was often the theatre of those warlike disturbances which spread teiror over a whole community. The Earl of Lennox, whose power and influence in Scotland, and especially throughout the western district, was very extensive—in contending for the Regency in 1544, having retired from the capital of the kingdom to this Burgh and castle.—raised a very large army of Lennox-men—and received from the King of France a gift of 30,000 crowns, to increase his military force against the Earl of Hamilton, who was then Regent.

In the year 1548, Mary, the young Queen, was, amidst these troublous times, carried to Dumbarton fortress for greater security; and she was in a short time thereafter, along with a goodly number of her Scottish Nobles, embarked at this harbour to France for her education, to be conducted under the auspices of the French court. Three or four years after her return from the gaudy splendours of the French capital she visited this fortress, when making a popular Royal tour into Argyleshire; and she frequently afterwards visited this burgh, accompanied by very splendid retinues. After her intrepid escape from Lochleven Castle, and immediately previous to the battle of Langaide, Lords Seaton, Niddry, Douglas, and others, with the Queen's Generals, intended to secure her in the Castle of Dumbarton, it being a place of great strength, which the Regent Murray had not been able at this time to wrest out of the hands of Lord Fleming, who was then governor. In a few days thereafter, attended by a few select friends, she was escorted to the vicinity of Langside; and there viewed, from the Castle of Cathcart, or an eminence adjacent, the contending armies, with all the feelings of a noble heroine, till defeat came and clouded her beautiful countenance.

Upon the 18th of January, 1580, the Earl of Morton, who was confined in the Castle of Edinburgh for being accessory to the conspiracy and murder of Henry Lord Darnley, for greater security was conveyed to the fortress of Dumbarton, under the escort of the Earl of Gleneairn, Lord Robert Stewart, and the Lairds of Bargeny, Loehinvar, &e. with two hundred hackbuts, where he lay till the 27th of May following. He was then transported back to Edinburgh, tried, condemned, and beheaded.

There was a great plague in the west of Scotland in the year 1606. One Scottish historian says, that it was very fatal in the burgh of Dumbarton; and in the town of Ayr the dead could scarcely be got buried, they were so numerous.

Dumbarton gave the title of Earl, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to a branch of the noble house of Douglas. Lord George Douglas, third son of William, first Marquis of Douglas, was, in his early years, one of the pages of honour to Louis XIV. King of France. He was, in the year 1673, called over to Britain by Charles II. who thereafter created him Earl of Dumbarton in 1675. George his son, the second Earl of Douglas, had the commission of Lieutenant-Colonel in the British army granted him during the Rebellion of 1715. From this noble military commander has been suggested the lines in the old Scottish tune or song, beginning with the words.—"Dumbarton's drums beat bonnie, O." In his latter days he retired again to France, where he died without issue, and the title of Earl of Dumbarton henceforth became entirely extinct.

Under the reign of Charles I. in the year 1639, Dumbarton Castle was taken, in consequence of a very cunning stratagem, by the Covenanters. It was, at the above period, well garrisoned and amply supplied every way with stores and provisions, and the then governor was very staunch to the king's party. It would appear that he was not deeply versed in some of the cunning tactics of the Covenanters, for being invited, or rather having entered, with a large party of the garrison, without any suspicion, the parish Church on a Fast-day, the solemn services of the sanctuary were scarcely commenced when the Provost of the town, along with Campbell of Ardencaple, supported by a strong military force, suddenly entered, surprised, and took them all prisoners in the Church, and then the few who had remained in the fortress speedily surrendered to the Covenanters at the very first summons. The fortress remained in the hands of the captors for only a few months, and was afterwards retaken by the royal forces; but again, on the 20th of August following, the Castle capitulated to the Covenanters; a very grievous scurvy had broken out amongst the soldiers at that time, otherwise the garrison, being almost impregnable and in a complete state of defence, well provisioned and fully stored, was almost unassailable. (See Baillie and Aikman's History of Scotland.) A few Irish prisoners, captured at the battle of Philiphaugh in 1645, who were imprisoned in Dumbarton Castle, were ordered by the Parliament "to be executed without any assize or process," conformed to the mutual treaty of both kingdoms, as then passed in acts of Parliament. They were beheaded within the walls of the castle by an instrument called the "Scottish Maiden," somewhat similar to the French guillotine, the rude remains of which lay on the east top of the castle till within these few years. Shortly after this the Earl of Glencairn, a very staunch Covenantor, ordered two hundred of his best horsemen or dragoons, under the command of Sir George Maxwell of Newark, to cross a ford in the river Leven, about three or four miles above the town, to attack a party of Cromwell the Protector's cavalry, which were at that time quartered in Dumbarton. They quickly forded the river at Bonhill, and, setting off at full gallop, entered the Burgh at one o'clock in the day, while the enemy were all quietly seated at dinner. They discomfited and dispersed the whole party, killing about thirty, and making a good many prisoners, besides capturing all the horses and two hundred boils of corn. The officers were afterwards allowed their horses and their arms, and to wear their swords. The common soldiers were also allowed their horses, and their arms were strictly required to be delivered up, for which they were to be allowed full value by their conquerors. The value was to be fixed by skilled persons mutually chosen—two gentlemen by the Earl of Glencairn, commander of the Covenanters' forces, and two by General Monk, commander of the Protector's army. These stipulated conditions were conscientiously and honourably fulfilled and arranged by the valuators on the green in front of the castle, where two tables were placed, at which the soldiers delivered up their arms, and received their value in sterling money, along with their passes. (See Aikman's History, Vol. iv. p. 454.)

Robert Ker of Kersiand, one of the persecuted Covenanters, a gentleman of landed estate in Lanarkshire, who was zealously attached to the principles of the Reformation, and who lost his estate and liberty in consequence of his union to that cause, was a close prisoner, for the space of eighteen months, in this fortress, viz, from 1668 to 1670; he was removed to Stirling Castle for some years, and afterwards he was removed a second time to the dungeon of Dumbarton Castle. It would appear that several members of his family were permitted to join him in these different places of imprisonment. There is the draft of a petition yet extant, addressed by him, while he was a prisoner in this fortress, to the Privy Council of Scotland, in which he says—"In the very coldest of this season, and in a time when some of my family were wrestling under heavy and sad sickness, others enduring pains of the stone and gravel, so very excessive as cannot be expressed; and my thus pained children were extruded out of the castle, with all the rest, except one daughter, who, with myself and tender wife and one servant, were all thrust up to another damp room, that is well known to be intolerable for smoke and cold."

Wir will often have the same veneration for an aged person who suffers adversity and persecution with patience, as for a demolished temple, the very ruins of which are revered and adored. The Covenanters were often expelled from their homes —they were driven to hide in dens and in caves of the earth—to wander naked and starving in the remote parts of the country, skulking in the woods, or among mosses, or on the hills, without any certain dwelling-place--they were exposed to every extremity of climate; in the depth of winter, as well as in the heat of summer, they made the heath their bed and the cold rock their pillow, and their only covering was the wide canopy of heaven. Debarred from the common charities of life, their presence was deemed pestilential, and their nearest relations dared not exchange an expression of kindness with them but at the peril of their lives—they were hunted by the soldiers like partridges on the mountains, and pursued like the wild beasts of the forest, and shot often without inquiry and without account—they were traced by the bloody scent of the sleugh-hound, and, whenever they made their appearance, the hue and cry was raised against them—they were surrounded with spies, apostate renegades, who shared the rewards, or gratified their cruel resentment by the apprehension, captivity, or death of the suffering outcast wanderers. The number of prisoners were often so great that the government could not bring them all to trial; and such of them as escaped execution, were transported or sold as slaves, to people the desolate barbarous colonies of a foreign land.

During the Regency of the Earl of Lennox, when Queen Mary was a captive exile in England, and Scotland in a ferment of civil war, a very dexterous manoeuvre was executed by an officer of the Regent's on the garrison of Dumbarton Castle, which the Queen's friends boldly held possession of till this period.

Captain Crawford of Jordanhill, a gallant and enterprising officer, performed a service of great importance to the Regent, in taking the Castle by surprise. This was the only fortified place in the kingdom, of which the Queen, by her forces, had kept almost constant possession ever since the commencement of the civil wars. Its situation, on the top of a high and almost inaccessible rock, which rises in the middle of a plain, rendered it extremely strong, and, in the general opinion of that age, impregnable. Its command of the river Clyde was of great moment, and was esteemed the most proper place in the kingdom for landing any foreign troops which might come from France to Mary's aid. The strength and position of the place also rendered the governor, Lord Fleming, more secure than be ought to have been, considering its great importance as a place of defence.

A soldier who had served in the garrison, and had been dis.. gusted by some ill usage, proposed the scheme to the Regent, endeavouring to demonstrate that it was practicable to take the fort, and offered himself to go the foremost man in the daring enterprise. It was judged most prudent to risk any danger for so great a prize. Scaling ladders and whatsoever else was necessary were prepared with the utmost secrecy and dispatch. All the roads and avenues to the Castle were guarded, so that no intelligence of the design might reach the governor. Towards the evening Crawford marched from Glasgow with a small but determined band. By midnight they arrived at the bottom of the rock. The moon was set, and the sky, which had hitherto been extremely clear, was covered with a thick fog. It was the north-eastern side, where the rock was highest, that the assailants made their attempt, because at that place there were supposed to be fewer sentinels, and there they hoped to find them least on their guard. The first ladder was scarcely fixed, when the weight and eagerness of those who mounted it brought it to the ground. None of the assailants, however, were hurt by the fall, nor any of the garrison alarmed by the noise. Their guide, with Captain Crawford, scrambled again up the rock and fastened the foot of the ladder to the roots of a tree which grew in a cleft. This place they all reached with the utmost difficulty, but were still at a great distance from the foot of the wall. Their ladders were made fast a second time, but in the middle of the ascent they met with an unforeseen difficulty. One of their intrepid companions was seized suddenly with what was supposed an epiliptic fit, and clung, seemingly without life, to the ladder. All were now at a stand. It was impossible to pass him. To tumble him down headlong would be cruel, and might alarm the garrison. But Crawford's presence of mind did not forsake him in this emergency. He ordered the soldier to be bound fast to the ladder, that be might not fall when the fit was over; and, turning the other side of the ladder, they mounted with ease over his belly. Day now began to dawn in the east, and there still remained a high wall to scale; but, after surmounting so many greater difficulties, this was soon accomplished. A sentry of the garrison, and the first man who appeared on the parapet wall, had scarcely time to give the alarm when they entered; he was knocked on the head and killed. The officers and soldiers of the garrison ran out almost naked, unarmed, and snore anxious for their own safety than defending the Fort. The bold assailants rushed forward with repeated shouts, and with the utmost fury took possession of the magazine, seized the cannon, and turned them against their enemies; and, shortly afterwards, the garrison capitulated. Lord Fleming the governor hastily got into a small boat, and escaped alone into Argyleshire. Captain Crawford, to reward his noble valour and good conduct in this affair, was made governor of the Castle; and, as he did not lose a single man in this singular enterprise, so he enjoyed his success with unmixed pleasure. Lady Fleming, Verax, a French ambassador, and Hamilton, Archbishop of St.Andrew's, were the only prisoners of the greatest distinction.

The following original Inventory is extracted from Bannatyne's Journal, in the Advocates' Library, Edinburgh. It contains the number of cannons, bullets, powder, provisions, &c. captured in the fortress at the time.

"Ane letter of Thomas Crawford, written to John Knox, at the Laird of Braid's request, containeing the inventare of the munitione within the Castell of Dumbartane, the tyme of his entrie therto.

"Item, In the first, ane gross culvering, mouted for the wallis and nocht for the feilds, with 24 bullats for her. Item, two batters, mouted for the wallis and not for the feilds, with sufficient number of bullats for thame. Item, two myons, ane mouted for the wallis, and the uther unmouted, eather for walls or feilds, with sufficient number of bullats for thame two. Item, two bartenyie falcons, mouted for the wallis and nocht for the feuds, with sufficient number of bullats for thame. Item, ane quarter falcone, mouted for the walls and not for the feuds, with sufficient number of bullats for Mr. Item, thrie hacquebuts found whole, and sue broken. Item, ane duble bars of irne. Item, ane single bars. Item, thrittie barrals of grit cannon poulder. Item, eight barralis of hacquebut of fund (fine) poulder. Item, aughteen callevers; of thea at my Lord's command ane geiven to Harry Wedderburne, ane uther to George Dundass—rests therof 16. Item, of speirs, headit an unheadit, 60. Item, of culvering pouder, thrie barralls. Item, of victuallis left in the place at our entrie theirto, efter my Lord's depairting: Imprimis, of wyne, 20 tunnis,—Item, of meill, 12 chalders,—Item, of wheit, 10 bollis,—Item, of malt, 8 bollis; of bisquet bread, 11 hole hogheids,—Item, of balcon, 4 hole pucheonis."

Although not specified in the above Inventory, one of the most singular warlike implements was found in this fortress at an early period. I allude to the "Galloway Flail." The Galloway flail is mentioned by several Scottish historians as being a most powerful implement of ancient warfare, and at one time found amongst the rude armoury of Dumbarton fortress. In an ancient Gallowvedian ballad, entitled "The Battle of Craignelder," published a few years ago by a Captain Dennlston, and in one of the notes appended to that publication, the author makes the following remarks:—"The Galloway flail must have been a very powerful weapon when wielded by a muscular arm; it is described, if we mistake not, by 'Harry the Scottish Minstrel,' and seems to have been indigenous to the country, as several old writers mention it by that name. We had the fortune to see one reported to have been taken out of the armoury of Dumbarton Castle; it was in a museum, collected by the ingenious Mr. Burrell of Edinburgh, about eighty-five years ago. In so far as our recollection is to be depended on, its staff might have been about five feet in length, the soopLe about three feet and a half or four feet, and joined with iron rings, either in one or two pieces, so that it doubled with resistless force around any interposing object." The lines of the ballad, to which this note is appended by the author, are the following:-

"With vengeful speed fierce Douglas flew,
Where ranged the swinging flail-men."

Another author, when speaking of this instrument, says, "amongst other ancient warlike implements may be mentioned the Galloway flail. What is termed the hand-staff of this weapon was made of the tough and durable ash-wood, and about five feet in length; the soople, or that part which strikes the barn floor, was formed of iron, and was about three feet long, and had three joints. This flail was, doubtless, intended for warlike purposes by the man who carried it, and must have been a very formidable weapon when wielded by a strong muscular arm. By means of the joints in its iron soople, it was, when vigorously applied, fitted like a thong to enfold the body of a man, and in this way was calculated to crush the ribs after the manner of a boa constrictor. No swordsman could cope with an individual armed with this weapon. It could keep any aggressor at a distance. One stroke of it could shiver a sword and arm to pieces, and leave the person of the defenceless antagonist to be subjected to the same treatment as a sheaf of corn on the barn-floor."


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