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The Historical Families of Dunfriesshire and the Border Wars
CHAPTER VI


In January, 1461, Queen Margaret, wife of the deposed King Henry VI. of England, came with her son, Edward Prince of Wales, to Dumfries to seek allies against her husband’s rival, the Duke of York. The Queen Mother of Scotland met her on the Borders, and, according to the chronicler of Auchinleck, a marriage was projected between young Edward and an infant Scottish Princess; but the Prince perished the same year by the sword of Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, after the battle of Tewkesbury, and the Royal House of York was eventually acknowledged by James III.

The second Douglas rebellion was hardly crushed in 1484 when a third broke out under another of the Douglases, Archibald Earl of Angus. Dumfriesshire was again the scene of strife, and the insurgent lords adopted the cruel expedient of bringing the young James, Prince of Scotland, into the field against his father, and by this means drawing many who would otherwise have been loyal or neutral under the rebel standard. At the battle of Sauchieburn, June 1488, the royal troops were routed. James III. fled wounded from the field, and took refuge in a cottage, where he was murdered by a straggler in the guise of a priest, whom the frightened owner of the house had brought in, as she thought, to hear the confession of the dying monarch. Lord Maxwell had been nominally on the side of the King, yet contrived to gain the favour of his opponents, and was appointed to rule Dumfriesshire with Lord Angus till the Prince of Scotland should attain his majority, he being at this time not sixteen years of age. Adam, laird of Johnstone, was on the King’s side. He was first cousin to Maxwell, and had married a Scot of Branxholme and Buccleuch. A precept of sasine from Patrick, Earl of Bothwell, in 1493, "to our lovit, Adam of Johnstone of that Ilk and others, charges them to infeft Walter Scot of Buccleuch in the lands of Roberthill, in the Stewartry of Annandale." The Scots, whose descendant, the Duke of Buccleuch, had a rental of 79,000 from Dumfriesshire ten years ago, do not appear to have possessed an acre of land there before 1459. Some of the clan were very troublesome a little later to the public peace, and in 1514 joined the English Warden in a raid on Dumfriesshire. But in 1569, during the civil war between the unfortunate Queen Mary and her third husband, Bothwell, and the Protestant party under the Regent and infant James VI., "the barons, landit men, and gentlemen, inhabitants of the Sheriffdom of Berwick, Roxburgh, Selkirk, and Peebles," signed a bond to support the young King. It was dated at Kelso, April 6, headed by the name of Buccleuch, Knt., and followed by many Scots, Kers, Cranstanes, Gledstanes, and others. They professed themselves specially enemies to all persons named Armstrong, Elliot, Nickson, Little, Beattie, Thomson, Irving, Bell, Johnstone, Glendinning, Routlege, Henderson, and Scott of Ewisdale—in fact, of those families who had fought on the side of the Queen at Langholm. Nevertheless, the same year a decreet sentenced Sir Walter Scot of Branxholme to arrest and confiscation for having forfeited his caution; but probably this stern sentence was never carried out, as at that time and much later the decreets of the Edinburgh Courts were little more than a form as regarded the Border gentry. For a much graver offence Jeffrey Irving was condemned to be executed, without effect. The Scots of Buccleuch were high in favour with James VI., and were raised to the peerage three years after the union of the two Crowns. At that period many of the Gordons, Scots, and Johnstones entered the Dutch and other foreign services, for when peace became permanent between England and Scotland the land on the Borders would not support them all, and they were unfitted for civil occupations. Scot of Buccleuch received a sum of money from the Prince of Orange, whose son afterwards married a daughter of Charles I., for the mosstroopers and cattle-drivers from the middle marches whom he despatched to fight against Holland’s enemies.

The manner in which the Dumfries chiefs defied the law was shown in 1509, when Lord Crichton, the Sheriff, held an assize in Dumfries, and Lord Maxwell, the Warden of the Borders, on account of some private feud, came with a body of armed men, including some of the Johnstones, and what the chroniclers call a great battle was fought outside. The young Lairds of Dalziell and Crauchlay, besides Robert Crichton, the Sheriff’s near relation (himself an outlaw), were killed. Four years later Maxwell and his four brothers fell at the battle of Flodden, which again left Scotland with a boy-king in 1513. An Irving of Bonshaw, Lord Herries of Terregles, with his brother Andrew, and many Dumfries gentlemen, besides their followers, were among the slain, and the defeat was at once followed up by an English raid into the county under Lord Dacre, who induced some of the Armstrongs, Grahames, and Scots to join him. He wrote to the Privy Council that he had almost depopulated Lower Annandale and Eskdale, that he had destroyed 400 ploughed lands, that no man was dwelling in any of them at this day, save only in the towns of Annan, Steppel, and Wauchope, and that he means to continue his forays from time to time, to the utmost annoyance of the Scots.

It is not surprising, after this savage treatment, that the ruined and probably half-starved borderers did not adhere very strictly to the treaty between England and France, in which Scotland was included, in 1515. The Queen Mother, sister to Henry VIII., had married the young Archibald, Earl of Angus, very soon after her husband’s death at Flodden, so the Scottish nobles, jealous of his elevation, deprived her of the government for her son, and John, Duke of Albany, first cousin to James IV., was appointed regent. Lord Dacre complained that he at once discharged the Border officers put in by the Queen and replaced them by unfit persons, which had caused great disorder. He said that nine Englishmen had been murdered by Scotsmen, and great robberies and burnings committed, for which no redress can be obtained. Albany had sent Lord Lindsay, the Laird of Bass, and Sir Wm. Scot to the Borders to meet the English Warden, when a demand was made of redress for the murder of Robert Dalgles, his son, and David Tate, Scotsmen, and of Henry Milne, Englishman; and, though one of the murderers was present in sight of the Warden and Commissioners, his delivery was refused.

The Warden again wrote to Albany, who held out hope of redress, but immediately afterwards three more Dalglieshes and John Oliver Jackson of Rowcliff were killed by the young laird of Gretna, assisted by two of the Irvings and Peter Grahame. Again, an Englishman was killed by two of the Irvings, and two Bells. The Scotsmen who were among the murdered had all assisted the English in the recent foray; so probably their assassins looked upon it as a just retribution, even if they were not secretly instigated by the Government.

On November 27, 1515, Lord Dacre writes that the Warden of the Scottish Borders, with Lord Carlyle, Sir John Murray of Cockpool, the Laird of Johnstone, Symon Carruthers of Mouswa1d, Sir Alexander Jardine (comptroller of the Duke of Albany’s house), Carruthers of Holmains, Charteris of Amisfield, William Johnstone of Gretna, Dunwiddie, the Lairds of Knock, Castlemilk, Kirkconnel, Tinwald, and others, came to Solam Chapel in England, where the said Warden "sent forth in a scrymage" the Laird of Johnstone, Captain of Lochmaben, and others to the number of 400 horses and more. They came to Arthuret in the Duchy of Lancaster, burnt a Grange and. a whole village to the number of 16 houses. Returning to Scotland the Warden sent forth "in another scrymage to Sir John Murray, Laird of Cockpool, Sir Alexander Jardine, the Laird of Mansfield, Amisfield, Tynewald, the Provost of. Dumfries, and others to the number of 700 horsemen, who robbed Bowness, and burnt 18 houses with much corn, hay, &c., assaulted the tower and barnekyn for half an hour and returned."

Amisfield

On May 15, 1517, Albany gave a respite "to the Armstrongs, Tailors, and all their kinsmen, friends, servants, and. other dependents on them of the clan Liddisdale, now dwelling in the Debateable Lands and Woods, that will deliver to the governor (Albany) sufficient pledges to remain for good rule where they shall be assigned." The disturbed state of the country is shown by the numerous bonds of manrent, as they were termed, or agreements for mutual protection, entered into at this period. Brothers formed them with brothers, and the Laird of Johnstone being an outlaw engaged himself in this way to Maxwell in 1528. The year before James V. declared in Parliament his utter ignorance of a raid that the Laird of Johnstone had lately made up to the walls of Carlisle. In June, 1528, the Laird of Johnstone and Edward Maxwell, the Warden’s brother, burnt houses and corn fields in Annandale, besides some of the Royal woods at Drumscore, in consequence of which and of similar exploits Lord Maxwell, Lord Bothwell, Lord Home, Scot of Buccleuch, Mark Ker of Fernihurst, and Johnstone were cited before the Parliament, which held its session in the Tolbooth at Edinburgh, May 16, 1529, where they were at once arrested, and shut up in the Castle. Leaving them there the King set out on July 26 with 8000 men to Dumfriesshire. He biletted a large portion of these troops on the Deputy Warden, Charteris of Amisfield, because he had taken no steps to procure the release of a youth seized near Lochmaben by a party of Englishmen, who had also carried off two cows, the only other possession of his widowed mother; and she had made her way on foot to Stirling to lay her complaint before the King; but if report spoke truly of the way in which James obtained possession of the Laird of Gilnockie, Johnnie Armstrong, it was not quite so creditable to him. This rebel had only three years before met Lord Maxwell at Dumfries and tendered his submission, for which he had obtained a grant of land at Langholm, and now received an autograph letter from James V. asking him to meet him near Hawick, and promising him a pardon. Armstrong went richly attired with 24 splendidly accoutred horsemen, at sight of which the King exclaimed, "What wants yon knave that a king should have," and ordered them all to be hung on the neighbouring trees. Armstrong’s wife and daughters are said to have mistrusted the King’s letter, and to have tried to induce him to remain in his own strong tower. The King had already captured Adam Scot of Tushielaw, commonly known as the Prince of Thieves, and had him promptly hanged. On his return to Edinburgh, James released the Border chiefs, and Johnstone shortly afterwards gained his favour by capturing George Scot of the Bog, a freebooter noted for his cruelty, whom the King ordered to be burnt alive. [A penalty with previous torture, enforced as late as 1789 in Berlin and Vienna.] This punishment seems to have been then unknown in Scotland, as a contemporary chronicler relates that everyone was astonished at it. These executions were undoubtedly in consequence of the complicity of the culprits in the English invasions, not for mere brigandage and theft.

In spite of the bond of manrent between the lairds, Dacre wrote to Cardinal Wolsey in 1528 that "the Debateable land is now clear waste," from the Maxwell and Johnstone feuds, and on April 2, 1529, he says "the Lord Maxwell caused the Armstrongs to make a raid upon the Lord of Johnstone, his own sister’s son, who is at deadly feud with them for the killing of Mickle Armstrong, where they killed three of his friends and the Lord Maxwell himself lay in abushment to maintain them, purposely to have killed the said Lord of Johnstone if he had pursued them." Wharton, who succeeded as Warden of the English Borders, wrote to Henry VIII. in 1542 that Lochinvar (Gordon) and the Johnstones are the greatest enemies Maxwell had, owing to their wish to supplant him in the offices he held as Warden of the East and West Borders— one in Galloway, and the other in Annandale.

The Johnstones were now the chief proprietors in the part of Scotland most exposed to England. The Laird’s estates extended northward to Moffat and beyond. His brother Adam was Baron of Corry. Another brother (James) was laird of Wamphray. William Johnstone of Gretna owned the barony of Newbie, including Stapleton, the salt works of Saltcoats, Gretna, and the fisheries from the Annan to the Eden; and the laird’s estates intersected William’s in Kirkpatrick-Fleming, and connected William’s properties of Stapleton and Newbie by Broomhills. There were also Bells and Irvings dependents on the house of Johnstone and Newbie (it is stated in a legal process of 1611) who lived in the barony of Newbie without paying any dues, doubtless for the price of their services against invaders; so that as the Johnstones formed a cordon along the frontier, guarded the ford over the Esk, and suffered the most from English raids, they considered they had more claim to the office of Warden than Maxwell, whose original property lay to the east of the Lochar, and the frontier was never better guarded than when the Laird of Johnstone held the post. When Maxwell was Warden Ninian Crichton of Sanquhar was cited before a Justiciary Court for not giving assistance, and he answered that it had never been the duty of Sanquhar to protect the Borders. In 1540, the Laird of Johnstone and Sir Walter Scott of Branxholme were imprisoned at Dumbarton through Maxwell’s influence, but released on parole on the security of Adam Johnstone of Corry, the Laird’s brother. Two years before, Johnstone’s estate had been sequestrated on the occasion of a second visit which James V. paid to Dumfriesshire, when Maxwell was rewarded with the confiscated Armstrong estates in Eskdale. Johnstone’s were not restored till 1542-3, when he made a charter of resignation in favour of his son.

The marriage of James IV. with the daughter of Henry VII. had not produced the long peace which was expected between the two countries, and Dumfriesshire never endured more disasters than between the Battle of Flodden and the death of James V. The Reformation was also beginning to make its way into Scotland, and following the precedent of other countries the first adherents of it were condemned to the stake. William Johnstone was one of the Dumfries Commissioners for trying heretics. August 26, 1534. James V. had been favourably disposed towards the Reformers till the pressure of his uncle Henry VIII. to make him throw off the Papal supremacy, and Henry’s persecution of the Romanists, disinclined him to them; and from this time "the Defender of the Faith" evidently courted a war with Scotland. In 1541 his army made an inroad into Dumfriesshire, and several Border lairds who hitherto had been out of favour with James were rewarded. for their valour in repelling it. William Johnstone of Gretna and Newbie was made a hereditary Baron for "good, faithful, and gratuitous service," and his lands entailed on his heirs male, or, in default of heirs male, to heirs of his own name bearing the arms of Johnstone. Jan. 2, 1542. James vainly applied to Henry VIII. for an indemnity for this foray, and then raised an army of 10,000 men under Lord Huntly. He came to Dumfries to inspect his troops, and Sir Thomas Wharton, the English Warden, proposed to Henry VIII. that as his nephew had but a small escort he should be seized and brought across the Border just as 260 years later the Spanish Princes were seized by Napoleon. The King was highly pleased with the idea, but when it was put before the Privy Council they raised these objections in a written reply—"They should have feared," said the document, "to have thought on such a matter touching a King’s person had not their Royal master told them to do so. But, sir," it continued, "we have also weighed the matter, after our own simple wits and judgments, and we find in it many difficulties. First, the Castle of Caerlaverock, whereunto he resorts, is twenty miles within the ground of Scotland. We consider also that the country between that and England is so well inhabited that it would be very difficult to convey any such number of men to the place where he should be intercepted, but the same would be discovered. We consider again that Dumfries, one of the best towns in Scotland, is in that part where the enterprise should be done, and the country so inhabited at their backs that it would be hard to bring him thence, especially alive." It referred to the slander and deadly feud which would accrue if the plan failed, and advised that Wharton should let no creature know that it had ever been thought of.

Foiled in this project, Henry despatched an army of 10,000 men to the East Marches, and the banished Earl of Angus and his brother accompanied it. They were defeated by Lord Huntly at Haddon Rig, and retaliated by burning Kelso and other Border towns, but James checked them in person at Falamuir, and wished to follow the fugitives into England in the hope of capturing the Duke of Norfolk, their commander, who when Earl of Surrey had conquered James IV. at Flodden. But the Border Lords refused to give their consent to this movement, and their withdrawal was fatal to it. They would defend their own frontiers, but would not expend the blood of their followers in a brilliant feat of arms to add lustre to a sovereign who had by turns humiliated them all, even his favourite Maxwell. Maxwell did offer to collect an army of his own followers in Dumfriesshire, and lead them on to Carlisle, which was not the untried ground to them that a march from the East Borders seemed to be; but the King, angry and discontented, retired to Maxwell’s castle at Carlaverock, and while allowing him to suppose that he was to have the chief command in this new expedition, secretly bestowed it on Oliver Sinclair, a gentleman of his household, who first exhibited his commission (according to Holinshed, 1576) when the army was in face of the English. "As soon as that was read," says this author, "the Earls and Lords there present thought themselves debased too much to have such a mean gentleman advanced in authority above them all, and determined not to fight under such a captain, but willingly suffered themselves to be overcome, so were taken by the English without slaughter of any one person on either side." Sir Thomas Wharton in his report states that twenty Scotch were slain and some drowned, but not ten English were missing. "There be taken four falconets with three of J. R., and the arms of Scotland with an imperial crown upon every one of them; besides some hagbuts, axes, and handguns." He gives this list of "Noblemen and Gentlemen of Scotland taken prisoners upon Esk and thereabouts, by the King’s highness’s subjects, on Friday, November 24th."

"The Earl of Cassillis, [The son of this Earl of Cassillis was the infamous chief who half-roasted the lay Abbot of Crossraguel before a slow fire to induce him to sign away the abbey lands in his own behalf, a property which the family of Kennedy still enjoyed (and probably do so still) in 1832, when Scott borrowed the first part of the incident for his scene in Ivanhoe between Front-de-Boeuf and the Jew Isaac.] the Earl of Glencairn, Lord Maxwell, Admiral of Scotland, and Warden of the West Marches; Lord Fleming of the Council, Lord Somerville of the Council, Lord Oliphant, Lord Gray, Oliver Sinclair of the King’s Privy Council, and three of his brothers; John Ross, Lord of Craigie and Gentleman Usher of the King of Scots’ Privy Chamber; Robert Erskine, son and heir of Lord Ersine, late Ambassador; Seton, son-in-law to Lord Erskine; George Hume, Laird of Hayton; Walter Kerr, Laird of Gordon; John Charteris, uncle and keeper to Lord Amisfield in his minority; David Gordon, bastard uncle to Lochinvar; Lord Langton, Lord Monteith, John Maxwell, brother to Lord Maxwell; and Master Johnstone, [This was the oldest son of the Laird of Johnstone, not the Laird himself, and he was probably the sister’s son of Maxwell referred to elsewhere.] John Leslie of Fife, bastard son to the Earl of Rothes; John Maitland, Larid of Aukincastle; Robert Charteris, the Lord of Amisfield’s brother; Master David Keith; John Melville, James Pringle, chief scorer of the King’s goods, and in his favor. I think there are about a thousand prisoners, whereof two hundred be gentlemen." A supplementary list of the resources of the prisoners, gives "Lord Maxwell, in lands per annum," as worth "a thousand marks, sterling (English), and in goods, 500, which is 2000 Scotch. Henry Maxwell, his brother, in lands per annum nothing, in goods nothing." Another list contains the pledges delivered to the Earl of Cumberland and Sir Thomas Wharton at Carlisle, on January 19th, 1543; which corrects a previous memorandum. "For the Earl of Cassillis—Davie and Archibald his brothers, having no brother called Arthur as the schedule is; and the Laird of Cove. For the Laird of Glencarne—Alexander, his eldest son, and Robert, another son. For Lord Fleming—James, his son and heir, and John Fleming, called the young Laird of Roghall, otherwise called the Laird How in the schedule, with a Schoolmaster. For Lord Somerville— James, his eldest son, and Roger Maitland, his brother-in-law. For Lord Maxwell—Robert Maxwell, his son and heir. For Lord Oliphant—no pledge is coming, but himself remains." The same is said of Lord Gray, and of Oliver Sinclair and his two brothers. Oliver had been captured by a certain Willie Bell. "For the Laird of Craigie—Thomas Ross, his eldest son; he hth no such brother’s son as the schedule purports, and the Nobleman saith his eldest son was his pledge. For Lord Darcy— John Monteith, his uncle’s son and heir; he has no eldest son as the schedule purports; this is the same as the Nobleman said was appointed for his pledge—t.c. all the said Noblemen of their honours stand bound that all prisoners whose pledges entered not shall truly remain within the city of Carlisle unto such time as further orders shall be taken with them," t.c.

The King at Carlaverock heard of the rout at Solway Moss, and never recovered from the shock. He retired to Falkland, where he shut himself up, and would see no one, till the news arrived that the Queen had given birth to a daughter. He had been unfortunate in his domestic relations, for his first wife had died within a year of their marriage, and his second wife had lost two sons on the same day—James, aged a year and a half, and Arthur, aged a few months; and this infant being a girl, seemed to complete his disappointments. He said that Henry would now certainly try to obtain Scotland by marriage or some other means. "It was reported," says Holinshed, "that he was disquieted with some unkindly medicine, but howsoever the matter was, he yielded up his spirit to Almighty God on December 13th, 1542," at the age of thirty-two. The Earl of Arran, his cousin, was appointed Regent for the infant Queen.

This event produced a change on the Borders. Henry would not accept a pledge for Lord Maxwell, who was removed with the principa1 prisoners to Hampton Court; and the new Governor of Scotland at once restored the Laird of Johnstone’s property. Feb. 27, 1543. A royal charter dated three days later declares that the Queen, in consideration of the good, faithful, and gratuitous service rendered by John Johnstone of that Ilk on the Borders of Scotland, grants to him in free tenement or life-rent, and to James Johnstone, his son and heir apparent, and his heirs heritably, all the lands of Johnstone, &c., to be created and incorporated into one entire and free Barony, to be called and comprehended within the Barony of Johnstone. This was the first dignity bestowed on the direct ancestor of the Marquises of Annandale; and was granted in precisely the same terms as the Barony of Newbie to William Johnstone the previous year.

Directly he heard of his nephew’s death, Henry VIII., as James had anticipated, began to think of marrying his young son Edward to the orphaned Mary, and he released the imprisoned Scottish nobles on condition that they would do their best to promote it. Finding this impossible, they returned to captivity; and alarmed by a threat that he would be transferred to the Tower, Maxwell asked to be removed instead to a prison at Carlisle, "to the intent that he might practise on his son and his sister’s son, the Laird of Johnstone" (i.e., the Laird’s eldest son James, who was imprisoned there), and he proposed "to deliver up any castle of his own that was commodious to the King for entering into Scotland;" but Henry also required the Royal Castle of Lochmaben to give him a permanent hold on Dumfriesshire.

Lord Hertford, writing to Paget, July 29th, 1545, describes Maxwell as worn by vexation and imprisonment, and unable to drink, eat, or sleep, that he was ready to serve as a red-cross English soldier if required; but in short, that if once shut up in the Tower, he knew "he should never return on leave." While negotiations were going on for the surrender of Lochmaben and Carlaverock, the Master of Maxwell, Lord Maxwell’s eldest son, was taken prisoner, and the second son, John (afterwards Lord Herries), refused to listen to any treacherous scheme. Wharton wrote to Lord Shrewsbury, Feb. 14, 1545, that he had placed a body of foot and a troop of fifty horse in Langholm Tower (belonging to the Armstrongs), and had long used one of Johnstone’s followers as an emissary to create discord between Johnstone and Maxwell’s son. A feud had broken out between them which the Scotch Privy Council could not allay. He had offered 300 crowns to Johnstone for himself, and 100 to his brother the Abbot of Saulsyde, and 100 to Johnstone’s other followers, on condition that the Master of Maxwell should be put into his power. Johnstone had entered into the plot, but "he and his friends were all so false" that Wharton knew "not what to say." But he would "be glad to annoy and entrap the Master of Maxwell or the Laird of Johnstone to the King’s Majesty’s honor and his own poor honesty."

The Abbot of Saulsyde was a Johnstone, but was possibly not brother to the Laird, for the English Wardens often confused relationships and Christian names, when they described the Border families, with their numerous members bearing the same surnames; and an additional difficulty was caused by the custom of giving the same Christian name occasionally to brothers. In the Johnstone family alone, the old Laird had two brothers besides himself called John; he had two sons named John and two named James; and William of Newbie had also two sons named John.

Hertford, in a letter to the Privy Council, gives Sir Thomas Wharton’s opinion as to the ease of an attack on Carlaverock. He had already advised the burning of Gretna and Redkirk, and his description of the country shows how much it had suffered since the foray in 1536, and since the capture of James V. had been discussed in 1541.

"He saith that upon the West Marches of Scotland, the country of itself being wild and desolate, there is no exploit to be done nearer than Dumfries, except to make a raid in to overthrow and cast down a certain church and steeple, called the Steeple of Annan, which is a thing of little importance; and to go to Dumfries, he saith the country is so strong by nature, and the passages there so straight and narrow, that he thinketh it over hard and dangerous to be tried with a Warden’s rode. The West Marches being barren, and already wasted by the continuance of wars, &c. He describes the swamps surrounding Carlaverock, and the difficulty of passing them. But a month or two later this was overcome, and a Scottish diary of the time records (October 28, 1545)—"The Lord Maxwell delivereth Carlaverock to the English, which was great discomfort to the country." Three days afterwards Carlaverock was surrounded by Johnstone, Douglas of Drumlanrig, and Gordon of Lochinvar, but it was not recaptured till May, 1546; and in the meantime, Lochmaben and Thrieve had been surrendered to the English by the Earl of Arran, Regent of Scotland, who pardoned Maxwell’s treachery, and restored him to the Wardenship. Maxwell died July 9, 1546, having bequeathed one important legacy to his country in an Act he introduced into Parliament during his short release on parole in 1543, and which was passed after some opposition—viz., to "make it lawful for all our Sovereign Lady’s lieges to possess and read copies of the Bible in Scottish or English." The Act may be said to have legally introduced the Reformed Faith into Scotland.

Early in 1547, Johnstone, Lochinvar, and the Master of Maxwell made a raid into Cumberland, but the next month Sir Thos. Carleton crossed the frontier—not at the usual ford, but at Canonby—and pushed on to Dumfries, whence he proclaimed that all who did not take an oath of allegiance to the King of England should be pursued with fire and sword. Some of the Lairds of Nithsdale and Galloway gave pledges of fidelity to the English. He states that Canonby was now far from the enemy, for all Annandale, Liddesdale, and a great part of Nithsdale and Galloway were willing to submit, except the Laird of Drumlanrig, who never submitted, and with him Alexander Carlyle, the Laird of Bridekirk, and his son Adam, the young Laird—so he tried to get some castle where he might be nearer the enemy. "Sander Armstrong came and told me he had a man called John Lynton, who was born in the head of Annandale, near to the Loughwood, being the Laird Johnstone’s chief house, and the said Laird and his brother (being the Abbot of Saulside) were taken prisoners not long before, and were remaining in England. It was a fair large tower, able to lodge all our company safely, with a barne-kin hall, kitchen, and stables, all within the barne-kin, and was but kept with two or three fellows and as many wenches."

This garrison was easily overpowered, and the place found to be well stocked with salted beef, malt, butter, and cheese. Carleton put Armstrong in the tower to keep it, and then proceeded to Moffat, where he ordered the people to swear allegiance to Edward. VI. The treacherous Armstrongs and Fergus Grahame offered to show him the road into Lanarkshire, hitherto untrodden by the enemy, "for at Crawford and Lamington he would find much booty and many sheep." He burned "Lamington and James Douglas’s castle, where the men and cattle were all devoured with smoke and fire," and then returned to Lochwood, or Loughwood, an isolated tower standing on a hill in the midst of marshes, which could only be crossed by strangers with a guide, and there he writes in his own narrative of these proceedings. "We remained very quietly, as if we had been at home in our own houses."

While these events were passing in Dumfriesshire an English army was ravaging East Lothian and Teviotdale, and, encouraged by its success in fire and slaughter, Lord Lennox and Wharton, who had been ennobled, crossed the Esk, Sept. 8, 1547, to subdue the South of Annandale, which still resisted their lieutenant. They halted at Gretna, and marched next day to Castlemilk, which they reported had walls 14 feet thick, and captured it. On Sept. 20 they encamped near Annan, and summoned Lyon, the commander of the Castle, who defended it with 100 Scots, to surrender, which he refused. The Castle was built by Robert Bruce, and the chapel adjoining it was the only Church in Annan. It stood in the midst of the old graveyard, where all that remains of the fortress is a small heap of stones. "The English," wrote Holinshed, "brought their artillery to bear against the walls, and undermine them with powder, so that the roof of the church was shaken down and many of those within crushed to death. At last the Captain, moved by the Earl of Lennox, to whom he claimed to be of kin, rendered the steeple unto him, with himself and 96 Scottish soldiers, with condition to have their lives saved, and the captain to go a prisoner to England. Immediately they came forth of the steeple, fire was set to the mines, and both church and steeple blown up into the air and razed to the ground. This done, they sacked and burnt the town, and left not a stone standing, for it had ever been a right noisome neighbour to England. The Englishmen had conceived such spite to it that if they saw but a piece of timber remaining unburnt, they would out the same in pieces. The country herewith was stricken in such fear that the next day all the Kilpatricks, and the Jardines, the Lairds of Kirkmichael, Aplegirth, Closeburn, Howmendes, Nuby, [Holinshed is usually very accurate. Except as Nuby, whom he evidently took to represent the clan, he mentions no Johnstones, though they formed the most numerous portion.] and the Irrewings, the Belles, the Rigges, the Murrays, and all the clans and the surnames of the nether part of Annandale, came and received an oath of obeisance as subjects to the King of England, delivering pledges for their assured loyalty." The invaders were again assisted by "Richie Grahame," and by some of the Armstrongs, Beatties, Thomsons, Littles, and other Border stragglers who were not dependent on any special chief.

In Bell’s MS., preserved in the Carlisle Cathedral Library, there is a list of chiefs and their men who surrendered on this occasion to the English. It differs slightly from the two lists preserved among the State papers of Edward VI., as do those two lists from each other, both as to names and the number of followers. In one the Laird of Wamphray is omitted, and the Gretna Johnstones mentioned twice. In the other Lord Carlile is mentioned twice with a different number of followers, but this sort of error occurs in all report of battles. The Laird of Johnstone and his son were both prisoners; but "William Johnstone, brother to the Laird of Johnstone, and his three brothers and those under them," are mentioned with 235 men. Robert Johnstone, the laird’s second son, is mentioned in one list, but not in that now quoted—"George Johnstone, the Laird of Newbie, and those under him." This was the legitimized son of William Johnstone of Newbie, who succeeded to Gretna on his father’s death. He had 37 men. "The Laird of Gretna," who may have been William’s legitimate son John, who inherited Newbie, and those under him, 82, and Johnstones of Gretna, to the number of 11, had some time before served the English, probably by compulsion. Besides these, there was Sir John Lawson, chaplain to the Laird of Johnstone, with 32 men; the Johnstones of Lockerbie, of the Bank, and Foulduris, with 280 men; and Gawin Johnstone of Elsieschellis, with 38. The Laird of Gillisbe, with 72 men; 55 Jardines and Moffats, 104 Belles of Middlebie, 60 Nicksons, Hunters, and Glendinnings, 25 Carlyles, 80 Elliotts and Simpsons; the Armstrongs of Liddisdail, Ii Grahames, and 304 Beatties, Littles, and Thomsons—had all served the English; some above a year, some more than three years. The remaining names which surrendered on the capture of Annan were Christie Irving of Bonshaw, with 103 men; his nephew Christie, with 74; Richie and Wat Irving, with 149. The Romes of Tordoffe, with 26. The Johnstones of Craigeburn, Malinshaw, Cottes, and Drisdaill, with 306. The Belles of Middlebie, Kirkconnel, The Kirk, &c., with 302. Kirkpatrick of Closeburn, with 378; Grierson of Lag, with 360; the Laird of Kirkmichel, with 123; and the Laird Ross, with 86; the Laird of Cassilis, with 39; Edward Maxwell of Tinwald, with 81; the Jardines, with 341; John Maxwell of Brackenside and his brother, with 139; Charteris of Amisfield, with 111; Jeffrey Irving of Robgill, with 81; the Laird of Dunweddie, Patrick Murray, the Vicar of Caerlaverock, and others—the total amounting to about 6000 men. [Henry VIII. was now dead, and Lord Wharton wrote to the Lord Protector—"I have despatched both my sons, my son-in--law, Mr Musgrave, and other gentlemen with light horsemen to make a foray in Nithsdale, near Dumfries, and the part of Annandale not yet won. They have burnt nine or ten towns, and brought away prisoners and spoil of goods with no hurt. Since I last wrote 500 lairds and gentlemen have come in, and I have in all 2400 Scottish horse. . . I have removed Laird Johnston from Carlisle to my house at Wharton. All his men have refused him; his own brothers and others have taken oath and given hostages for their service. They are a great band of proper men, and do good service. . . . Laird Johnston is a good example upon these marches, for when his house was won and all his goods taken he requested to be sworn in the King’s service."]

At the next session of Parliament in Edinburgh, June 12, 1584, the Lords declared the following chiefs, who had taken an oath on this occasion, to be guilty of high treason, and therefore outlawed:—"Willia Kirkpatrick of Kirkmichael; John Jardine of Aplegirth; John Carruthers of Holmends (he is mentioned in Bell’s MS.);--of Ros; the Lairds of Knock, of Granton, and of Gillisbie; Grahame of Thornick; Gawyne of Johnstoun; of Kirktown; Jhonstoun of Craigeburn; James Jhonstoun of Cottis; -- of Newbie; Michael Lord Carlyle; Carruthers of Mouswald (mentioned in one of the two official lists); Cuthbert (it was Jeffrey) Irving of Robgill; —— of Cowquhate; Cuthbert Johnstoun of Lockerbie; James, sometime Abbot of Saulsyde; and Tweedie of Drumnelzear."

The capture of the Laird of Johnstone with similar acts of violence produced the following letter, written in the young Queen’s name to Henry VIII., May 17th, 1547, not a month before the tyrant’s end:—

"Right excellent, right high and mighty prince, our dearest brother and cousin, we in our most hearty manner recommend us unto you. Our dearest cousin and governor James, Earl of Arran, protector and governor of our realm, being lately advertised how our well beloved clerk, Master John Hay, sent to the most Christian King of France to perform such business as was committed unto him, and the Abbot of Dryburgh, who was passing to the ports of France in his own affairs, was not only invaded and taken on the sea by your ships and men of war, but are also holden within your realm as prisoners notwithstanding the comprehension in the peace taken by the most Christian King for we our realm and subjects of abstinence of war in both our realms openly proclaimed to stand betwixt the same and as yet undischarged. Also our said dearest cousin and tutor is advertised how your subjects have lately by open foray invaded our realm upon the West Borders, at the parts of Annandale, and there has taken the Laird of Johnstone on his own ground for defence of his lands and goods. The which unjust attempts are not only against the comprehension and abstinence foresaid, but also most unnaturally enterprised against us and our lieges without any respect unto the proximity and tenderness of our blood, and mutual friendship, that should continue between us and our realms. Therefore we pray you, our dearest brother and cousin, in our most effective manner to put the said Abbot of Dryburgh, Master John Hay, Lord Johnstone, and others taken with them to liberty and freedom, so that they may without any impediment from any of your subjects freely pass forward to the realm of France, or if it please them to return again within our realm, and it will please you give credence unto our trusty counsellor Sir Adam Otterburne, our ambassador in this behalf, t.c. We pray Almighty God to give you good and long life. Given at our Castle of Stirling, and subscribed by our dearest cousin, tutor and governor at Edinburgh, May 17th, and of our reign the 5th."

Henry seems to have become as anxious to annex Scotland before his death as his predecessor Edward I.; and the Duke of Norfolk was committed to the Tower, and his son beheaded, for their ill success at Fala Muir. The accession of Edward VI. was the signal for a still more determined and exterminating warfare than had already been carried on; and the letter just given was followed up by the Battle of Pinkie and Wharton’s ravages in Annandale. The Laird of Johnstone languished in prison at Pontefract Castle; and is described in the list of distinguished captures as "a gentleman of one hundred marks sterling or above, for whom the King’s Majesty has paid one hundred marks in part payment for ransom to his taker; the Laird of Closeburn, worth 100 sterling and more, for whom his cousin Thomas Kirkpatrick was pledge; the Laird of Cockpool, a gentleman of 100 lands sterling or thereabouts, himself remains with Sir William Ingleby; and Cuthbert Murray, worth little or nothing."

The official list of the towns, monasteries, castles, villages, mills, and hospitals destroyed by the English in 1547 is given as two hundred and eighty-seven, and fills ten closely written pages of a State paper still preserved in the London Record Office.

Graitney, Sark, Cavartholme, Blacket House, Ryehill Castle, and all within fifteen miles of the English frontier are included, and Dumfriesshire was nominally subject to the King of England for a year and a half. But in the meantime the King of France sent a contingent to assist his Scotch allies, and hearing of this expected aid, the Privy Council gave orders to Wharton to execute some of the pledges at Carlisle, which was done, and among others who perished was the Warden of Grey Friars at Dumfries and the Vicar of Carlaverock, the last being pledge for Maxwell, and his near relation.

Considering the unprovoked nature of the war and the English excesses, it is not wonderful that when fortune turned in favour of the Scots, they retaliated with equal ferocity. The Chevalier Beaujeu, a French officer who served with them, and had been in Muscovy, so was enured to horrors, says that the English cruelties round Jedburgh "would have made to tremble the most savage Moor in Africa," and he gives a ghastly description of the vengeance which the Scotch wreaked on their unhappy prisoners. "I cannot," he adds, "greatly praise the Scotch for this practice, but the English tyrannised over the Borders in a most barbarous manner, and I think it was but fair to pay them in their own coin." The English, to counteract the French support, brought over a band of Germans and Italians, and a Spanish corps; and the actual peril in which the young Queen of Scotland was placed by the advance of the enemy upon Edinburgh, which was burnt, induced the Regent to send her to France in 1548, where she was educated and eventually married to the Dauphin Francis, who was henceforward in legal documents always styled King of Scotland. An attack of the French King upon Dunkirk and Calais, then belonging to England, compelled the English forces to withdraw from the south of Scotland, and a peace was finally arranged in 1551. This provided that the debateable land between the Esk and the Sark should lie waste and belong to neither kingdom, but by a supplementary article in 1552 it was divided; the upper half being adjudged to Scotland and the eastern part to England. The treaty is signed by John Johnstone of that Ilk; John Johnstone of Nitove (?); Charles Murray of Cockpool, and others. The younger Laird of Johnstone was dead; and it is a proof of the severity of a prison life at that period that few of the Scotch captives seem long to have survived their release. His widow, Margaret Hamilton, was married in 1552 to David Douglas of Coldbrandspeth.


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