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The History of Glasgow
Chapter XLIX - Disaster of Solway Moss—Beginning of Queen Mary's Reign—Earl of Arran, Regent and Governor—Insurrection of Lennox and Others—Siege of Bishop's Castle—Battle of the Butts—Additions to Castle


BY the death of James V., on 14th December, 1542, six days after the birth of his daughter, who then became Queen Mary, and only a few weeks after the disastrous affair of Solway Moss, where many of the Scottish lords were captured by the English, the government of Scotland was again thrown into disorder. Cardinal Beaton claimed the custody of the infant princess in virtue of a testament which bore to be signed by the late King, but there were grave doubts as to its authenticity, and the estates, on 13th March, 1542-3, sustained the assumption of the regency by James Hamilton, earl of Arran, as his hereditary right, he being next to the young Queen in succession to the crown.

Meanwhile Henry VIII. had opened negotiations for an alliance between England and Scotland, based on the marriage of Mary to his son, Prince Edward. The Solway prisoners were allowed to return home, but each of them was bound by solemn pledge, made secure by hostages, to further English interests in Scotland. At first Arran was favourable to Henry's schemes, but he had Cardinal Beaton and the whole body of the clergy against him, and on learning the trend of affairs the French king sent the earl of Lennox over to Scotland. to induce the governor and the estates to adhere to the old. alliance with France and not to enter into engagements with England which would be prejudicial to the former country.. Through his family claims Lennox was a dangerous rival to Arran, both being descended from a daughter of James II., the former through a daughter, and the latter through a. son of that princess, but his mission was unsuccessful and latterly by a curious turn of affairs was entirely abandoned.. After the English negotiations had been so successful as to reach the stage of a marriage treaty Arran was completely won over to the interests of Cardinal Beaton and the French party. Lennox being thereupon cast aside, as of no essential service to his former associates, turned to England to find his revenge and further his own interests, and it was not long till an opportunity occurred for some little injury being inflicted on his opponents. Proceeding to Dumbarton castle,. of which he was governor, he met a fleet of seven French ships which arrived at Dumbarton port in the beginning of October, 1543, and took possession of a large consignment of money and munitions which had been intended to strengthen the French party in Scotland. [Hamilton Papers, ii. pp. 92, 93, 103.] Whatever was the ultimate destination of these supplies the party for whom they were intended were thus effectually deprived of their use.

At the outset of his desertion of the national cause Lennox garrisoned the castle of Glasgow, and (as Pitscottie relates) Regent Arran, the governor, on 8th March, 1543-4, besieged that fortress with 12,000 men and artillery brought from Edinburgh. "The siege," says the chronicler, "lasted ten days, till all their powder and bullets were spent. Therefore,. they practised with the keepers of the castle to yield it, promising great rewards to them, and all who were with themThe keepers were John Stuart' and William, being sons to the Abbot of Dryburgh, [At a time of severe Border trouble, in 1523, the Duke of Albany bestowed the benefice of Dryburgh upon the earl of Lennox who appointed James Stewart, a canon of G asgow cathedral, as its commendator-abbot. It was probably this abbot who is here referred to. In 1543-4 the abbacy was possessed by Thomas Erskine who had succeeded Stewart in 1541. (Liber de Dryburgh, pp. xxii, xxiii.)] who, knowing of no relief were glad of the offer, and yielded the castle to the governor. Notwithstanding, the two brethren foresaid were imprisoned during the governor's pleasure, and all the rest were immediately hanged." [History of Scotland, by Robert Lindesay of Pitscottie (1728 Edition) pp. 182-3.] A writer of the sixteenth or early seventeenth century supplies a different date, and does not state the numbers of soldiers or days of the siege, which in his narrative looks a simpler affair:

"On ist April, 1544, the governour, the cardinall, the erllis of Argyle and Bothwell, with mony utheris lordis, convenit be oppin proclamatioun at Glasgow and saigit the castle thairof and stepill, quhilk was keipiit be the erle of Lennox and his complices, quhairat was great slauchter, quhilk was given over be the said erle. Thair wer hangit xviii. men, be the governour, as traitouris ; thair wer tane my lord Maxwell, the erle of Angus, James of Parkheid, and James of the Watter, and haid to Hamiltoun, and thair put in captivitie.... Upoun 3rd April the governour with his complices wan Cruikstoun, the principall hous of the erle of Lennox." [Diurnall of Occurrente in Scotland (Bannatyne Club, p. 31). In the Lord High Treasurer's Accounts, the execution of the men taken from the castle is thus noted under date 4th April: "Item, for tymmer to be ane gallous in Glasgw and for making thairof, quhilk was set up fornence the Tolbuth of the samyn, 32S. Item, for towis to the men that tholit deid thair, Ins." L. H. T. Accounts, viii. p. 283).]

In consequence of English invaders having landed at Leith on 1st May, the governor's army had to retrace its steps, though too late or in insufficient strength to prevent the seizure and burning of Edinburgh and the ravaging of the east country. This turn of affairs seems to have encouraged

Lennox and his supporters in an attempt to retrieve their position in Glasgow. On 17th May an agreement was entered into, at Carlisle, between King Henry and the Earls of Lennox and Glencairn, whereby the two earls engaged to do their utmost to put the principal Scottish fortresses into Henry's hands. Lennox proceeded to Dumbarton castle, while Glencairn assembled an army at Glasgow, of which John Stewart of Minto, an adherent of Lennox was then provost. The citizens as in duty bound took the side of their provost; and as he, according to the usual custom, was probably also depute-bailie of the regality, a fair proportion of the rentallers may have joined the citizens. The author above quoted says:

"On 24th May the governor was gadderit to the number of 1,000 men, and the erle of Glencairne come out of Glasgow with his friendis to the number of Soo, quhair thir pairties met, on the mure of Glasgow, and it was cruellie fochtin; bot at last the earle of Glencairne with his company fled, and the said erlis sone, callit Androw, was slane, with many utheris of that pairtie. On the governouris pairtie was slane the laird of Colmiskeith, his maister houshald, with twelf uther small men, and thairefter the said governour past to the toun of Glasgow and spoulzeit the samyne and left littill thairin." [Diurnall of Occurrents, p. 32.]

This conflict occurred on the Gallowmuir, at a place where the citizens practised archery, and which on that account was called the Butts. Annalists, both ancient and modern, have many versions of the "Battle of the Butts," and it is impossible to reconcile all the discrepancies. Bishop Lesley, who wrote within thirty years after the event, treats the siege of the castle and the engagement on the moor as parts of a simultaneous movement, but, apart from this misapprehension, his spirited account of what took place seems fairly accurate and instructive:

"The Governour past to Lynlythgw, quhair the erle of Lenox departed fra him secreitlie on the nycht, and past to Glasgw with men and all kynd of munitione. Quhen certane knoulege wes brocht to the Governour that the erle of Lenox wes thus suddentlie departed, and that he had fortefeit Glasgw, tending to dissobey his authoritie, suddentlie convenit ane pouer of his awvin freindis, most speciall with the assistance of the Lord Boyde, and tuik his jorney towart Glasgw, quhair the erie of Lenox and Glencairne had convenit gret pouer of thair freindis for resisting of the persuit of the governour, and determinat to meit him furth of the toun of Glasgw and gif him battell; bot the erle of Lenox him self tareit not upoun the straikis, bot departed thairforthe immediatlie befoir the battell to Dumbartane castell, quhair he remaned all the tyme of the field ; and the erle of Glencarne accompaneit with the lairdis Tullibarne, Houstoun, Buchannane, M`Farlan, Drumquhassill, and mony utheris baronis and gentillmen of the Lenox and barrony of Ranfrew, and utheris places thairabout, with the haill burgesses, communitie, and abill kirkmen of the citie of Glasgw, come furth of the toun and arrayed thame in battell upoun the muir of Glasgw, ane myle from the citie, apoune the eist pairte thairof. The governour with his army approcheing to thame, lychtit upoun fuit, and suddentlie both the armeis with sic forces ran together and joyned, that none culd persistentlie discerne quhilk of thame made the first onset. It wes cruellie fochin a Lang space on ather syd, with uncertine victorie, and grit slauchter on boith the sydis. Bot at last the victorie inclyned to the governour, and the uther parte was constraned to gife bakis and file. Thair wes on Lenox parte slayne mony gentill men preistis and commonis, and speciallie the laird of Houstoun ; and the laird of Minto, being then provest of Glesgw, was evill hurt, and mony takin presoners. And on the governouris syd the lairds of Kamskeyth and Silvertounhill war slayne with dyverse utheris. The governour, following his victorie, entered in the toun and besegit the castell and stepill, quhilk was randerit to him. Bot presentlie he causit saxtene gentill men, quho kepit the same, to be hangit at the Croce of Glasgw, and pardonit the utheris inferiors suddartis. The hoill citie wes spulyeit, and war not the speciall labouris of the Lord Boyd, quha maid ernest supplicatioune to the governour for sauftie of the same, the hoill toun, with the bischoppe and channonis houssis, had bene alluterlie brint and destroyit." [Bishop Lesley's History of Scotland (Bannatyne Club) pp. 176-7.]

Lesley adds that at the desire of Lennox, then in Dumbarton, the Earl of Angus and Lord Maxwell came to Glasgow to negotiate, but the governor secretly removed them "furth of the Black Freris of Glasgow, quhair the counsell was holdin for the tyme," and sent them to Hamilton Castle.

In the Lord High Treasurer's Accounts interesting details are given as to the furnishing of men and munitions for the siege of the Bishop's castle and also regarding the encounter on the muir. At the outset, on 26th March, one hundred "men of weir, with culverings " and artillery were sent to Glasgow; and there were "movit furth of the castell of Edinburgh," a cannon, culvering and small artillery, 154 horses were hired "to carry and draw the samyn to Glasgow," and four carts were used for carrying powder, bullets and other necessaries. Sixty men "with schule and mattok," accompanied the artillery to assist it through the rough places on the journey. Some treasure had been secured in the castle and, on 6th April, money was paid for the carriage of "ane coffer full of sylver wark furth of Glasgw to the castell of Edinburgh." After "the feild strikkin on the mure," payments are made to "barbours" for services and drugs in the cure of wounded soldiers, compensation was given for killed horses, and other outlays are classed as "expensis depursit upoun men of weir, carying of artalze and necessaris belanging thairto, in this moneth of May." [L. H. T. Accounts, viii. pp. 271, et seq.]

The only substantial addition known to have been made to the Bishop's castle after Beaton's time was a gatehouse and arched gateway added at the south-east corner and believed to be mainly if not entirely the work of Archbishop Dunbar. Over the gateway were an elaborate series of sculptures, on two separate stones, the one over the other. On the upper stone was the arms of Scotland with the supporting unicorns, and bearing the initial of James V., " J. 5.", who died in 1542, while Dunbar was living. On the lower stone are two shields, one being sculptured with the archbishop's paternal arms, and having the salmon with the ring underneath. On the lower shield are the arms of James Houstoun, subdean, who acted as vicar-general for a portion of the period during the vacancy of the see after 1547. The subdean was a great friend of the archbishop, who appointed him executor of his will and entrusted him with the erection of his stately sepulchre of brass in the chancel of the cathedral, the repairs of a spire or belfry, the founding of certain bells and the purchase of episcopal ornaments bequeathed to the metropolitan church. [Lib. Coll. etc. p. xiii. Mr. Joseph Bain, in an article in the Archaeological Journal for December, 1892, has suggested that it was one of the archbishop's bells which was recast in 1594. The expense was borne by taxation, though Marcus Knox, the city treasurer at that time, has in some quarters been credited with bearing it from his own means. The bell of 1594, as recast in 1790, and bearing a long inscription referring to the "gift" by Marcus Knox, now lies in the chapter-house of the cathedral, having been replaced by a new bell presented by Mr. John Garroway in 1896.] In such circumstances it is not unlikely that the lower sculptured stone was placed by the subdean after the archbishop's death in 1547. [These two stones were removed from the gateway about the year 1760 and built into the back part of the tenement 22 High Street. Shortly before the year i88o the proprietor of that building presented the stones to Sir William Dunbar, the lineal descendant of the Dunbars of Mochrum, for the purpose of being built into his new mansion in Wigtonshire (Macgeorge's Old Glasgow, 1880 edition, pp. 117-8).]

In June of the following year (1545) a meeting of the Privy Council was held at Glasgow, at which there were present the Queen-mother, Governor Arran, Cardinal Beaton, chancellor, the Archbishop of Glasgow, and others. Shortly before this a French army had "cum to the realme of Scotland for defense thereof aganis our old inymyis of Ingland." The French soldiers had disembarked at Dumbarton, and as some of them were in Glasgow or its vicinity the governor and lords of council enjoined the provost and bailies to fix the prices of flesh, bread, and ale, to be sold to the foreigners, —the best carcase of mutton to be ros., and the best carcase of beef to be 28s. [Privy Council Reg. i. p. 3. For bringing the guns and ammunition from the French ships to Glasgow and thence eastward, several items of expenditure are noticed in the accounts. Payments are made for boats furth of Greenock, taking artillery, hagbuts, bullets, powder, "and other graith" to Glasgow, and 108 "drauchts" of material were taken "fra the brig of Glasgw to the castell of the samyn." Of this quantity " twenty draucht of cannon bullatis "were taken from the castle to the bridge and" sent doun the water in boittis, and in the 'Lyoun' to be carryit about to Leith." Artillery and ammunition were also carried by the barony men and others from the castle to Linlithgow, apparently for the purpose of being shipped at Blackness port and taken to Leith, whence it was carried to Edinburgh castle (L.H.T. Accounts, viii. pp. 378-81). On 6th August, 1547 the sum of 24S. was paid "for carage of 29 Bret barrellis pulder furth of Leith to Edinburgh quhilk come furth of Glasgow to Blaknes and Ira Blaknes to Leith in Peter Smythis boit" (Ibid. ix. p. 103). The artillery and ammunition was no doubt carried from Glasgow to Linlithgow port along the road frequented by traffic in earlier times, as mentioned antea, pp. 177-8.]

As a necessary consequence of his English adherence, the Scottish estates of the Earl of Lennox were declared to be forfeited. This terminated for the time his connection with Glasgow, and the archbishop, in 1545, appointed the Earl of Arran and his heirs to be bailies and justices of all the lands in the barony and regality of Glasgow for the period of nineteen years, with power to hold courts and exercise the usual functions, but he was forbidden to appoint or remove officers without consent of the archbishop or his successors. [Historical MSS. Commission: Report xi; Appx. 6, p. 221, No. 161.] It may be assumed that Arran's judicial duties would be chiefly performed by a depute-bailie who, according to usual custom, would be provost of Glasgow for the time. During the greater part of the ensuing nineteen years the provostship was possessed by members of the Hamilton family.

The day and month are left blank in the Letters of Bailiary, but that document was probably granted about the same time as a bond given by the earl to the archbishop and chapter of Glasgow in April, 1545. This bond was seen and examined by Father Innes who states that it was of the same tenor as the bond granted by Arran, then duke of Chatelherault, on 6th February, 1557-8. [Reg. Episc. No. 526; Tabula, vol. ii. p. xxx; Glasg. Chart. i. pt. ii. pp. 125-6. It may be mentioned that the word "ryde," occurring twice in the bond of 1557-8, is misprinted "syde."] It, therefore, appears that the earl undertook to defend the archbishop and chapter and their kirk, their lands, servants and tenants, from all unjust attacks and injuries. The bond of 1557-8 refers to "this perilous and dangerous tome, quhair detestabil heresies ryses and increasis in the diocy of Glasgow"; and the earl specially promised to assist and concur with the archbishop in expelling of heresies within the diocese and in punishing of heretics. In all likelihood these passages, equally applicable to both periods, were repetitions from the earlier bond.

During the year 1545 King Henry continued his destructive raids on this country ; but, in another direction, the execution of George Wishart, in March 1545-6, and the assassination of Cardinal Beaton, within three months thereafter, were of more fateful consequence. The siege of St. Andrews castle, sheltering the conspirators and their associates, including John Knox, endured till July, 1547, but the triumph of the French party in that deliverance preceded by only a couple of months the crushing defeat which the English inflicted on the Scots at Pinkie Cleuch. Still the Scots had no thought of submission, reinforcements were obtained from France, the youthful Queen Mary, now affianced to the French Dauphin, had sailed from Dumbarton in the end of July, 1548, and safely reached the coast of France. For some time longer the English continued their oppressive depredations, though meeting with determined resistance and attaining only partial success. At last they were glad to negotiate for peace, which was secured in the spring of 1550.

On account of its situation Glasgow so far escaped the ravages which overtook the eastern and southern districts during the ferocious raids of "our auld enemies," during which so many towns, abbeys and churches were destroyed. The citizens, however, had their share of the troubles which disturbed Scotland during the early stages of the Reformation, and they had to join in the levies raised for the defence of the Borders, or for other purposes of a military nature. As an illustration of the city's liability for service on such occasions, it may be mentioned that when, in November, 1552, the Queen-dowager planned the raising of a body of foot soldiers for service in France, three hundred of whom were to be got from the burghs, Glasgow was called upon for its quota. [L.H.T. Accounts, x. p. 148. This scheme was not favourably received throughout the country and was abandoned.]

The Queen-dowager's accession to the regency of the kingdom in April, 1554, when her daughter was approaching the twelfth year of her age, introduced increased energy into the administration of public affairs, though a proposal which she made for having a standing army met with effective opposition. But a fleet and army were entrusted with the restoration of order in the Highlands and Western Islands, and in this connection a burgess of Glasgow was, on 1st August, 1555, paid 200 "for the fraucht of his schip to pas with my lord of Ergyle in the Ilis." [Ibid. p. 287.] Some persons who had failed to join an army summoned to assemble at Dumfries, on loth July, 1554, "for fortification of the rule of our Lady the Queen," were tried and convicted in a court of justiciary, held at Glasgow, in the following October. [L.H.T. Accounts, x. pp. 259, 301. Next year there is this entry: "To the officers that keipit the Tolbuith of Glasgw, the 14, 15 and i6 October, the tyme of the Justice Courts, 26s. 8d." (Ibid. p. 299).]

Though French influences continued active there prevailed among statesmen a wholesome dread of encroachment from that quarter, and the regent was not allowed to forget that there were limits to foreign ascendancy. Urged by France to make war in England, the regent, in October, 1557, brought together a large army at Kelso, but the leading nobles, including the duke of Chatelherault, flatly refused to march with it across the border.

The time having arrived for fulfilment of the matrimonial engagement, the Dauphin of France and the Queen of Scots were married in the church of Notre Dame in Paris, on 24th April, r55S. The ceremonial was observed in France with special splendour, and that rejoicing was not neglected in this country, is shown by instructions issued to several burghs, including Glasgow, " to mak fyris and processioun generale, for the completing and solemnizing of the marriage betuix our Soverane Ladie and the Dolphin of France." [L.H.T. Accounts, x. p. 365.]

All this time the new religious opinions had been making progress among the Scottish people. An act of the privy council, dated nth June, 1546, within a fortnight after the cardinal's death, expresses the dread that in these troublous times evil disposed persons would destroy abbeys, churches and other religious places, and proclamations were ordered forbidding such ravages or the spoiling of kirk jewels and ornaments, under penalty of loss of life, lands and goods. [Privy Counc. Reg. i. pp. 28, 29.] In March of the following year a provincial council of the Scottish clergy besought the regent to take steps for the defence of the true religion, the land being then " infected with the pestilentious heresies of Luther, his sect and followaris." [Ibid. p. 63.] The clergy were now getting seriously alarmed and in order that the position might be fully discussed a Provincial Council assembled in the church of the Friars Preachers of Edinburgh, on 27th November, 1549. At this council, which was presided over by the primate, John Hamilton, archbishop of St. Andrews, and attended by a large body of clergy, including Gavin Hamilton, dean of the metropolitan church of Glasgow and vicar general of the vacant see, a series of ordinances were passed, calling for the reformation of morals and improvement in religious observances and instruction. [Statutes of Scottish Church (Scottish History Society, No. 54), P. 84, et seq.] Several acts of parliament passed against unruly conduct, and for securing the enforcement of church order and discipline, indicate the prevailing tendency to revolt against the system then existing, [An act of parliament passed on ist February, 1551-2, narrates that "thair is divers prentaris in this realme that daylie and continuallie prentis bukis concerning the faith, ballatis, sangis, blasphematiounis rymes, alsweill of kirkmen as temporal!, and utheris tragedeis, alsweill in Latine as in Inglis toung, not sene, vewit and considderit be the superiouris as appertenis, to the defamatioun and sclander of the liegis of this realme." To "put order to sic inconvenientis," parliament ordained that no one should print books, ballads, songs, rymes or tragedies, till seen by authorised examiners and the subsequent granting of a licence by the Queen and Lord Governor. (A.P.S. ii. p. 488.)] while the burning of "heretics," such as Adam Wallace, in 1550, and Walter Mill, in April, 1558, only served to promote the cause for which those martyrs suffered.

A ten-months' visit of John Knox to Scotland, in 1555-6, gave a powerful impetus to the movement, which continued to grow in definiteness of purpose as well as in the number of its adherents. In December, 1557, a bond or covenant was entered into by the Earl of Argyle and others, binding themselves never to rest till the reformed faith was set up as the national religion. The leaders, known as "The Lords of the Congregation," had a series of interviews with the Queen-regent, in the hope of effecting a settlement, but these negotiations had been unfruitful, and after John Knox's return to Scotland, in May, 1559, and the violent outbreak at Perth before the end of that month, all expectations of a peaceful arrangement were dissolved.


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