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Cassillis


CASSILLIS, earl of, a title in the peerage of Scotland, possessed by the marquis of Ailsa, and conferred, in 1509, on David, third Lord Kennedy. The first of the family mentioned in any charter was Duncan de Carrick, who lived in the reign of Malcolm the Fourth, which began in 1153. His son, Nicol de Carrick, granted, in 1220, the church of St. Cuthbert at Maybole, to the nuns of North Berwick. Nicol’s son, Roland de Carrick, obtained a grant of the bailiary of Carrick from Nigel, earl of Carrick, who died in 1256, to himself and his heirs male, to be ‘caput totius progeniei suae,’ that is, chief of his name, and to have the command of all the men in Carrick, under the said earl and his successors; which grant was confirmed by Alexander the Third, by a charter dated at Stirling, 20th January 1275-6, and ratified by Robert the Second, by charters dated at Ayr, 1st October, 1372.

      Sir Gilbert de Carrick, knight, son of Roland, in 1285 submitted a difference between him and the nuns of North Berwick to Robert Bruce, earl of Carrick, father of Robert the First, and Robert bishop of Glasgow, to which submission his seal is appended, having the same shield of arms as that borne by the earls of Cassillis. He was one of the securities for Robert, earl of Carrick, on his obtaining the resignation of that earldom from his father in 1292.

      His son, also named Gilbert, received from King Robert the Bruce a remission for Arthur his son-in-law having surrendered Lochdoon castle to the English, ans was restored to the government thereof with the lands thereto belonging. Sir Gilbert de Carrick was one of the prisoners taken at the battle of Durham in 1346.

      His son, Sir John Kennedy of Dunnure, is designed in many authentic writs, the son of Sir Gilbert de Carrick. He was forfeited in the reign of King David the Second, as appears from a charter of that monarch to Malcolm Fleming of the lands of Leigne, which belonged to him. He, however, obtained from that monarch a charter confirming the donations, grants, and venditions made to him by Marjory de Montgomery, senior, and by his wife, Marjory de Montgomery, daughter of Sir John Montgomery, of the lands of Castlys (Cassillis) in the county of Ayr, with other territorial possessions which he had acquired in Carrick. This, and other charters obtained by him are entitled, ‘confirmatio Johannis Kenedy,’ the family having changed their name from Carrick to Kennedy, the latter a Gaelic compound signifying the head of the house or family. [See KENNEDY, surname of.] He had three sons. From the second, John, it is supposed that the old Kennedys of Cullean, now spelled Cuzean, are descended.

      His eldest son, Sir Gilbert Kennedy, was one of the hostages delivered to the English in 1357, for the liberation of King David the Second. He married, first, Marion, daughter of Sir James Sandilands of Calder, by Eleanora, countess of Carrick, and had by her four sons, namely, 1. Gilbert, who, on account of his next brother marrying a princess of Scotland, was disinherited by his father; 2. James, of whom afterwards; 3. Alexander; and 4. Sir Hugh Kennedy of Ardstinchar, who accompanied the Scots troops, under the command of the earl of Buchan, to France, and distinguished himself at the battle of Beaugé, 22d March 1421, in consequence of which he was honoured by the king of France with his armorial bearings, azure, three fleurs de lis, or; which h e and his successors marshalled in the first and fourth quarters with those of Kennedy in the second and third. From him descended the Kennedys of Bargany, Kirkhill, and Binning, in Ayrshire. Sir Gilbert married, secondly, Agnes, daughter of Sir Robert Maxwell of Calderwood, and had by her three sons, namely, John, Thomas, and David, the latter one of the retinue of knights who attended the princess Margaret of Scotland into France on her marriage to Louis the dauphin in 1436.

      Sir James Kennedy of Dunure, the second son, married the princess Mary Stewart, daughter of King Robert the Third, and widow of George first earl of Angus of the house of Douglas. By this marriage the wealth and influence of the family were greatly increased. From his father-in-law he obtained a charger of confirmation of the bailiary of Carrick, and of the lands and barony of Dalyrmple, to himself and the princess his wife, dated at Dundonald, 27th January 1405-6. He was killed in the lifetime of his father, in a quarrel with his elder brother, Gilbert, who had been disinherited in his favour. gilbert went to France, and died in the French service. The princess Mary, their father’s widow, was afterwards again twice married. By her, Sir James Kennedy had two sons, Gilbert his successor, and James, bishop of St. Andrews, the celebrated founder of the college of St. Salvator in that city, of whom there is a memoir under the head of KENNEDY, JAMES.

      Sir Gilbert Kennedy of Dunure, knight, obtained from King James the Second, a charter of the keeping of the castle of Lochdoon, and of the pennylands thereto belonging, to him and the heirs male of his body, 17th May 1450. He was created a peer of Scotland in 1452, by the title of Lord Kennedy, and on the death of James the Second in 1460 he was appointed one of the six regents of the kingdom during the minority of James the Third. He died in 1473. He married Catherine, daughter of Herbert Lord Maxwell, by whom he had three sons and two daughters.

      His eldest son, John, second Lord Kennedy, was a privy councillor to King James the Third, and a commissioner to treat with the English for peace in 1484. He died in 1508. He married first, Elizabeth, daughter of Alexander, Lord Montgomery, by whom he had a son, David, third Lord Kennedy; and secondly, Lady Elizabeth Gordon, daughter of George earl of Huntly, relict of the second earl of Errol, and by her he had, with two daughters, three sons, namely, Alexander, ancestor of the Kennedys of Girvanmains and Barquhanny; John, and William. The elder of the two daughters, Janet Kennedy, was the mistress of James the fourth. She is said to have been the third wife of Archibald fifth earl of Angus, celebrated in Scottish history as Bell-the-Cat. According to Hume of Godscroft, Archibald earl of Angus was confined to the isle of Arran for taking Jean Kennedy, daughter of the earl of Cassillis, (a mistake for Lord Kennedy,) out of Galloway, (the district of Carrick was then considered a part of Galloway,) to whom the king bore affection, and to whom the earl gave infeftment and seisin of the lands of Bothwell, though he never married her. She does not appear, indeed, ever to have borne the title of countess of Angus. James the fourth granted to her a life-charter of the lands of Bothwell, dated 1st June 1501. She had by the king a son, James Stewart, created earl of Moray, the same year. The younger daughter, Helen, married Adam Boyd of Pinkhill.

      The eldest son, David, third Lord Kennedy and first earl of Cassillis, was one of those who were advanced to the honour of knighthood by King James the Third, on the creation of his second son Alexander ad duke of Ross, 29th January 1487-8. He was of the privy council of James the fourth, and by that monarch he was created, in 1509, earl of Cassillis. He married, first, Agnes, daughter of William, Lord Borthwick, by whom he had three sons; and 2dny, Grizel, daughter of Thomas Boyd, earl of Arran, relict of Alexander Lord Forbes, without issue. He fell at the battle of Flodden.

      His eldest son, Gilbert, second earl, was a nobleman of superior abilities, and was employed in several offices of high trust. He had a safe-conduct to go into England as an ambassador from Scotland, 6th February 1515-16. In 1623, when the regent duke of Albany sailed for France, the keeping of the young king’s person was committed to him and three other lords. He was sworn a privy councillor to King James the Fifth, and signed the association to support his majesty’s authority, 30th July 1524. On the 4th September following, he concluded a truce with the duke of Norfolk on the part of Henry the Eighth at Berwick. In November of the same year he was sent ambassador to London, to treat for a lasting peace, and a marriage between the young king (James the Fifth) and his cousin the princess Mary, daughter of Henry the Eighth. In January 1525 he returned to Scotland for fresh instructions, and the following month he was with the queen dowager, Margaret, in the castle of Edinburgh, when the earl of Angus her husband, with the earls of Lennox and Argyle, and other confederated lords, took possession of the city. His attachment to the queen dowager rendered him obnoxious to the faction of Angus, and in a parliament convoked by the latter, his lands were assigned to the earl of Arran. They were, however, soon after restored to him. He was assassinated at Prestwick, near Ayr, by Hugh Campbell, sheriff of Ayrshire, 22d December 1527. He married Lady Isabel Campbell, second daughter of the second earl of Argyle, by whom he had seven sons. His fourth son, Quentin Kennedy, abbot of Crossraguel, is famous for the dispute which, for three days, he maintained, in 1562, with John Knox at Maybole, on the subject of the mass. He was remarkable for his singular piety and great austerity of manners, and his zeal and learning so much gratified the Romish clergy that, on his death in 1564, he was publicly canonized as a saint. He published ‘Ane compendius tractive, conforme to the Scripturis of Almychtie God, ressoun, and authoritie, declaring the nerrest and onlie way to establische the conscience of ane Christiane man, in all materis quhilk ar in debate concerning faith and religioun.’ His Correspondence with Willcock will be found in the Appendix to Bishop Keith’s History of Scotland.

      Gilbert, the third earl, born in 1515, was only twelve years old when he succeeded his father. He was then at the university of St. Andrews, where, in February 1527-8, only two months after his accession to the title he was compelled to sign the sentence of death pronounced on Patrick Hamilton the protomartyr, for heresy. He was subsequently sent to Paris, to complete his education. While there he became acquainted with George Buchanan, at that time a regent or professor in the college of St. Barbe, and engaged him as his domestic tutor in 1532. After residing with him for five years Buchanan accompanied the earl on his return to Scotland, and at his seat of Cassillis in Ayrshire, composed his bitter satire, entitled ‘Somnium,’ against the Franciscan friars. In 1535, the earl was one of the ambassadors sent to France, for the purpose of concluding a matrimonial alliance with a French princess, and in the following year when King James the Fifth went over to Paris, he and the other ambassadors met his majesty at Dieppe, and were present at his marriage with the princess Magdalene, eldest daughter of the French king.

      At the fatal rout of the Scottish army at Solway Moss in November 1542, the earl was among the prisoners taken by the English, and was committed to the charge of Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, who not only entertained him very honourably, but strengthened his lordship in the profession of the Reformed religion, to which he was before greatly inclined. With some of the other nobles who were prisoners like himself, he only obtained his liberty by agreeing to the conditions of Henry the Eighth, to support his grand scheme for a marriage between his son Prince Edward and the infant Queen Mary, and the perpetual union of England and Scotland, and by giving as hostages for his ransom, which Was fixed at a thousand pounds, his uncle Thomas Kennedy of Coiff, and his brothers David and Archibald, who were placed under the custody of the archbishop of York. As he zealously supported the English connection, Henry the Eighth gave him a pension of three hundred marks. In the following year, after the regent Arran had become reconciled to Cardinal Bethune and abjured the protestant religion, the marriage treaty with England was interrupted, and Henry issued a proclamation for the Scottish prisoners to return into England, to which no attention was paid. In Lodge’s Illustrations. vol. i. p. 461, is a piteous letter from his hostages to the earl of Cassillis, dated at York, 11th December 1543, entreating him to enter himself in all haste, for if he did not, they should suffer death, and that right shortly. David Kennedy appeals to the fraternal affection of the earl for his poor brother ‘Dandy.’ and his uncle desires him to remember that the laird of Coyff has four motherless bairns, and to take heed not to make them fatherless for his cause. In the same work also is a letter from the archbishop of York to the earl of Shrewsbury, dated 20th August, 1544, mentioning that since the hostages for the earl of Cassillis had been with him, that is for a year and a half, they had not received from his lordship, nor from any of their friends, towards the finding of their apparel, to the sum of twenty pounds sterling, so that he was constrained to give them both coats and gowns, and other things; and therefore entreating Shrewsbury to write to Cassillis that it touched his honour, forasmuch as they were so near of kin, and also pledges for him, to see that they lacked no necessaries. The archbishop added that he was content to bestow on them other things besides apparel, both for themselves and horses, at his charge, but that Lord Cassillis must provide for the rest, or else, the winter coming on, they shall lack many things. Finding the popish party, with Cardinal Bethune at their head, intent on a French alliance, he and the other lords who supported the English interest, entered into a bond or covenant by which they agreed to employ their united strength in promoting the projects of the English king. This paper was intrusted to Lord Somerville, to be delivered to Henry, but that nobleman being arrested, it was intercepted, on which a parliament was convoked, and it was determined to proceed against Cassillis and the other subscribing lords, for high treason. To escape the sentence of forfeiture, they transmitted to the regent Arran, a similar bond, dated in January 1543-4, in which they bound themselves to remain true and faithful to the queen and her authority, to assist the regent in the defence of the realm against ‘their old enemies’ of England, to support the liberties of holy church and to maintain the true Christian faith, meaning thereby the Romish religion. Notwithstanding this agreement, the parties to which were the earls of Cassillis, Angus, Lennox, and Glencairn, they still continued their intrigues with the English monarch. The consequence was that a hostile fleet appeared in the firth of Forth in the following May, and an English army, under the earl of Hertford, took possession of Leith, and after plundering that town, wet fire to it.

      In June of the same year (1544) the earl of Cassillis was one of those who signed the agreement of the principal Scots nobility to support the authority of the queen-mother as regent of Scotland, against the earl of Arran. Soon after, he was, with Angus, Glencairn, and Somerville, at the siege of Coldingham, then held by the English, and joined in the disgraceful rout which took place on that occasion. In a parliament held at Edinburgh 12th December of the same year, he and the other noblemen in the Douglas or English interest, obtained a remission for all treasons committed by them, except against the queen’s person, in return for the good services which they had rendered the country, although what these were does not clearly appear.

      After the defeat of the English at Ancrum Moor, Henry resolved to conciliate the Scots, and with this view he intrusted the management of the negotiation to the earl of Cassillis. the earl accordingly repaired to the English court, February 28th, 1545, when his hostages were released, and his ransom being discharged, and himself loaded with presents from the English king, he returned, after a short absence, to Scotland. At a convention of the nobility, held at Edinburgh, on the 17th April, Cassillis, as the envoy of Henry, acquainted them that if they consented to the treaties of peace and marriage with England, King Henry would overlook the past, and forbear to avenge the injuries which he had received. His efforts, however, were in vain. The Convention declared the treaties of peace and marriage at an end, and it was resolved cordially to embrace the assistance of France. On the 20th, Cassillis by letter, informed Henry of the complete failure of his negotiation, and advised the immediate invasion of Scotland with a strong force. Henry, on his side, finding Cardinal Bethune more than a match for him, encouraged the earl in organizing a conspiracy for his assassination. This ploy, so damning both to Cassillis and the king, was altogether unknown to our historians, both Scotch and English, until it was discovered by Tytler in the secret correspondence of th state paper office. [See Tytler’s History of Scotland, vol. v. p. 387.] It appears that Cassillis had addressed a letter to Sir Ralph Sadler, Henry’s agent on the borders, in which he made an offer ‘for the killing of the cardinal, if his majesty would have it done, and promise, when it was done, a reward.’ Sadler showed the letter to the earl of Hertford and the council of the North and by them it was transmitted to the king. Cassillis communicated his purpose to the earls of Angus, Glencairn, and Marischal, and Sir George Douglas, and these persons requested that one Forster, an English prisoner, should be sent to Edinburgh to communicate with them on the design. Hertford accordingly consulted the privy council upon his majesty’s wishes in this affair. They replied, as directed by the king, that Forster might set off immediately, but as to the assassination of the cardinal his majesty “will not seem to have to do in it, and yet not misliking the offer,” he desired Sadler to write to Cassillis to say that “if he were in the earls place he would surely do what he could for the execution of it. believing verily to do thereby not only an acceptable service to the king but also a special benefit to the realm of Scotland.” No reward, however, was promised, as that would be to set a price upon the head of the cardinal as well as to offer an indemnity to those who should slay him, and the scheme was abandoned by Cassillis and his associates.

      The earl of Cassillis was among the chief supporters of George Wishart, after his return to Scotland in the summer of 1543. It was by the invitation of the earl and the gentlemen of Kyle and Cunningham that he ventured to Edinburgh in the beginning of 1545, but as they failed to meet him he retired to East Lothian, where he soon after fell into the hands of the cardinal, and was burnt at the stake at St. Andrews March 28, the assassination of Bethune himself following exactly two months after.

      In June 1546 the earl deserted the English party, and was named an extraordinary lord of session 31st July following. Previous to the battle of Pinkie, he and other noblemen advised the regent to send the young queen with her mother, under the charge of Lords Erskine and Livingstone to the isle of Inchmahome, for security. In May 1550, he was one of the noblemen who accompanied the queen-mother on her visit to France. In 1554, on the queen-mother obtaining the regency, she appointed the earl of Cassillis lord-high-treasurer. In 1557 he was a chief commander in the army destined to attack Berwick and invade England, but which was disbanded without effecting any thing. In 1558 he was one of the eight commissioners elected by parliament to go to France to be present at the nuptials of the youthful Queen Mary with Francis, dauphin of France. On the crown matrimonial being demanded the commissioners discovered a fixed resolution not to consent to any thing that tended to introduce any alteration in the order of succession to the crown, which gave great offence to the French court, and on their way home, the commissioners were taken ill at Dieppe, where the earls of Cassillis and Rothes, and Bishop Reid, lord president of the court of session, died, all three in one night. 18th November 1558, under strong suspicious of poison. Lord Fleming, another of the commissioners, died at Paris. The body of the earl was brought to Scotland, and interred with his ancestors in the collegiate church of Maybole. His virtues have been recorded by Buchanan in his History of Scotland, and in an epitaph published in his works. He is also celebrated by Johnston in his Heroes.

      His lordship married Margaret, daughter of Alexander Kennedy of Bargany, and had, with two daughters, two sons, namely, Gilbert his successor, and the Hon. Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean, commonly called the tutor of Cassillis, who received the honour of knighthood at the coronation of James the Sixth. He married Elizabeth, daughter of David MacGill of Cranstoun-Riddel, and had three sons and one daughter, Helen, married to Mure of Auchindrane. Sir Thomas fell a victim to revenge, being assassinated by Kennedy of Drummurchie, May 11, 1602, thereto instigated by his own son-in-law, Mure. [See MURE, surname of, and KENNEDY, origin of name.] His youngest son, Sir Alexander Kennedy of Culzean, eventually carried on the line of the family.

      Gilbert, fourth earl, a nobleman of most rapacious and unscrupulous character, was popularly called the king of Carrick. In 1562 he was sworn a privy councillor to Queen Mary, and in 1565 was appointed justiciary of Carrick. On the night of Darnley’s murder in February 1567, he and the earls of Argyle and Huntly accompanied the queen, when she took her last farewell of her ill-fated husband at Kirk of Field. His name occurs the fifth of the noblemen who subscribed the bond in favour of Bothwell’s marriage to the queen, at the famous supper given to the nobility by that reckless adventurer, and he fought on the side of Mary at the battle of Langside, 13th May 1568. In the parliament of 19th August following, he was declared guilty of treason, but judgment was suspended. At the convention held 14th April 1569, he acknowledged, by oath and subscription, the king’s authority, and on 17th November following, the regent declared that his lordship had made due obedience to the king. He was afterwards appointed one of the privy council. Nevertheless, we find, in March 1570, his name attached to a letter signed by a number of the lords of the queen’s faction, and sent to Queen Elizabeth in Mary’s behalf, and in the spring of the following year the regent Lennox was obliged to go to Kyle and Carrick, to pursue the earl of Cassillis for persecuting and oppressing those who acknowledged the king’s authority. On this occasion, to prevent the wasting of his lands, he gave his brother in pledge that he would enter the 15th day of May at Stirling, to confirm the conditions craved and agreed upon.

      On the death of Quentin Kennedy, the last abbot of Crossraguel, in 1564, a pension had been conferred on George Buchanan, of five hundred pounds a-year out of the abbey revenues, payment of which he appears to have found great difficulty in obtaining, owing to the seizure of the lands by the earl of Cassillis. That rich and celebrated abbey lay in the vicinity of the earl’s castle, and after he had, by forgery and murder, possessed himself of the abbacy of Glenluce, he cast his eye on Crossraguel; and the criminal records of the period exhibit an act of horrible cruelty perpetrated by him in 1570, for the purpose of adding the abbey lands to his estates. Allan Stewart, the commendator of the abbey, who had succeeded Quentin Kennedy, and who lived under the protection of the laird of Bargany, was enticed, under hospitable pretences, to leave his safeguard and pass some days in Maybole with Sir Thomas Kennedy, brother of the earl. On the 29th August, while visiting the bounds of Crossraguel, he was apprehended by the earl, and conveyed to the castle of Dunure, the original seat of the family, the ruins of which still stand gloomily on a rock, washed by the sea, on the western boundary of Maybole parish. The barbarous treatment to which he was subjected, to compel him to sign a feu charter of the abbey lands, forms a striking part of the ‘Historie of the Kennedyis,’ published in 1830, by Mr. Pitcairn, from an original manuscript in the Advocates’ Library. The most graphic account, however, of the transaction is given by Richard Bannatyne, in his “Journal,’ and every part of his narrative is distinctly confirmed by the commendator’s own statements in his ‘Bill of Supplication to the Lords of Privy-Council.’ It appears that, unable to succeed in his purpose by any other means, the earl, on the 1st September, caused his baker, his cook, his pantryman, and some others, to convey the commendator to the ‘black vault of Dunure,’ where a large fire was glazing, under ‘a grit iron chimblay,’ “My lord abbot,” said the earl, “it will please you to confess here that with your own consent you remain in my company, because you dare not commit you to the hands of others.” The commendator answered, “Would you, my lord, that I should tell a manifest lie for your pleasure? The truth is, my lord, it is against my will that I am here, neither yet have I any pleasure in your company.” “But,” rejoined the earl, “you shall remain with me at this time.” “I am not able to resist your will and pleasure,” said the commendator, “in this place.” “You must then obey me,” replied the earl. He then presented to him certain documents to sign, and, on his refusal, he commanded ‘his cooks,’ says the annalist, ‘to prepare the banquet.’ and so, first, they stripped the unhappy commendator, to his ‘sark and doublet,’ and next they bound him to the chimney, ‘his legs to the one end and his arms to the other,’ basting him well with oil, that ‘the roast should not burn.’ When nearly half roasted he consented to subscribe the documents, without reading or knowing what was contained in them. Then the earl swore those who assisted him in this cruel proceeding, on the Bible, never to reveal it to any one. Not content with this, on the 7th September, on the commendator’s refusal to ratify and approve the documents he had signed, before a notary and witnesses, the torment was renewed, till Stewart besought them to put an end to his sufferings by killing him at once, nor was he released till eleven o’clock at night, when they saw his life in danger and his flesh consumed and burnt to the bone. And thus the earl obtained, in the indignant words of the describer of the scene, ‘a fyve yeare tack and a 19 yeare tack, and a charter of feu of all the landis of Croceraguall, with the clausses necessaire for the erle to haist him to hell. For gif adulterie, sacriledge, oppressione, barbarous creweltie, and thift heaped upon thift diserve hell, the great king of Carrick can no more eschape hell for ever nor the imprudent abbot eschaped the fyre for a seasoune.” [Bannatyne’s Journal, edn. 1806, p. 57.] Having thus attained his purpose, the earl left the commendator in the hands of his servants at Dunure, and the laird of Bargany, who knew nothing of the treatment to which he had been subjected, raised letters of deliverance of his person, which not being attended to by the earl, he was for contempt thereof denounced rebel and put to the horn. On the 27th April following, a complaint was given in to the regent and lords of secret council, by Allan Stewart, the ‘half-roasted’ commendator; on which the earl was summoned before them. On his appearance he pleaded that the points alleged in the said complaint were either civil or criminal, and that he ought not to answer thereto except before competent judges. Without prejudice of the ordinary jurisdiction, the regent, with the advice of the council, ordered the earl to find security in two thousand pounds, not to molest the person or property of the commendator. He was also, at the request of his father’s old preceptor, George Buchanan, ‘pensioner of Crossraguel,’ ordered to find the like security with regard to him and his pension. And he was sent to Dumbarton castle until he implemented (obeyed) these orders.

      In August of the same year, by the persuasion of the earl of Morton, the earl, with other lords of the queen’s faction, finally joined the king’s party, and attended the parliament held at Stirling in September, at which his escheats were remitted, in consequence of his owning the king’s authority. He obtained charters of several lands belonging to the abbacies of Crossraguel and Glenluce in 1572 and two following years, and had a charter of the lands and castle of Turnberry to himself and Margaret Lyon his wife (daughter of the ninth Lord Glammis) 8th March 1575.  According to Knox, by the persuasion of his countess he became a protestant and caused his kirks in Carrick to be reformed [Knox’s History, p. 398.] He died in September 1576. He had three sons; John, who succeeded him; Hugh, designed master of Cassillis, to whom and to John Boyd his servant, and Hugh Kennedy of Chapel, a remission under the great seal was granted, for the slaughter of Andrew M’Kewan in Archatroche, 14th September 1601; and Gilbert, also designed master of Cassillis, as his brother Hugh appears to have died without issue. Gilbert married Margaret, daughter of Uchtred Macdowall of Garhland, and by her had a son, John, who became sixth earl.

      The eldest son, John, fifth earl, being very young at his father’s death, was placed under the guardianship of his uncle, Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean. In November 1597, he married Jean, only daughter of James fourth Lord Fleming, relict of Lord Maitland of Thirlestane, high-chancellor of Scotland, against the will of all his friends, as the lady was considerably older than himself and described as “past child-bearing.” In 1599 he was appointed lord-high-treasurer of Scotland, having advanced forth thousand marks for that office; but as he was removed the same year he lost his money. This earl is remarkable chiefly for the slaughter of Gilbert Kennedy of Bargany. The feuds between the earls of Cassillis and the lairds of Bargany had been of long continuance. On the 11th December 1601, the earl of Cassillis having learned that the young laird of Bargany was to ride from the town of Ayr to his own mansion on the water of Girvan, attended only by a few followers, determined to waylay and attack him, and for that purpose, with two hundred armed retainers, he took his station at the Lady Corse, about half-a=mile north of Maybole. The laird of Bargany, with his small retinue, soon appeared at the Brochloch, on the opposite side of the valley, and seeing the earl thus attended said to his men that he desired no quarrel, and would not throw himself in the earl’s way. He accordingly led them down the north bank of the rivulet by Bogside, with the view of avoiding a collision with the earl, at so great disadvantage to himself. The earl followed down the south side, and coming to some ‘feal dykes,’ which offered a good support for the firearms of his followers, he ordered them to discharge their pieces at Bargany and his men, by which the young laird, whose daring courage led him with only four gentlemen to advance upon this disproportionate force, was slain with two of his followers, after comporting himself with more than chivalrous gallantry. Bargany appears to have been a youth of great promise. “He was,” says the historian of this murderous assault, “the brawest manne that was to be gotten in ony land; of hiche stataur, and weill maid; his hair blak, bott of ane cumlie feace; the brawest horsemanne, and the best at all pastymis.” This tragedy was of too flagrant a nature to be passed over, but the counteess of Cassillis, who had friends at court, rode to Edinburgh, and obtained his majesty’s favour to her husband, who ‘gott this mukill grantit, that my lord suld cum himself and deall with the thesaurer (treasurer) for his escheitt;” – “and by reason,” adds the historian, “of ten thousand markis given to him, there was obtenit to me lord ane act of counsall, making all that me lord had done gude service to the king!” Auchendrane had married the sister of the gallant youth who thus fell, and out of the events of this bloody action arose the series of dark and tragical deeds on which Sir Walter Scott founded his ‘Ayrshire Tragedy,’ in his prefatory notice to which he relates the circumstances more favourably to the earl of Cassillis. [See MURE, surname of.] the earl died in 1615, without issue. His brother, Gilbert, master of Cassillis, predeceased him, but his son, John, became sixth earl of Cassillis. In the Appendix to Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials, vol. iii., is a bond, dated 4th September 1602, by the fifth earl of Cassillis, to his brother, Hugh Kennedy, commonly called the master of Cassillis, to pay him and his accomplices twelve hundred merks yearly, with corn for six horses, as a bribe to induce him to murder the laird of Auchindrane; another striking and characteristic illustration of the barbarous state of society and manners in some parts of Scotland at that period.

      The sixth earl, styled “the grave and solemn” earl, is described as a person of great virtue and of considerable abilities, and so sincere that he never would permit his words to be understood but in their direct sense. Being zealously attached to the presbyterian form of worship, he took a prominent part in the proceedings of the Covenanters in 1638, and following years, and in June 1639, when the Lyon king at arms was sent to their camp at Dunse Law, with a proclamation from the king, the earl of Cassillis offered a protest, adhering to the last General Assembly held at Glasgow, which the Lyon refused to receive. On the 17th September, 1641, he was nominated of his majesty’s privy council. He was one of the three ruling elders sent to the assembly of divines at Westminster in 1643, to ratify the solemn league and covenant. In September 1646, he was one of the commissioners directed to repair to Charles the First, to urge his majesty to accept of the propositions made to him by the English parliament. In 1648 he opposed the ‘Engagement’ to march into England, to attempt the relief of the king. In 1649, on the dismissal of the earl of Crawford as treasurer, Cassillis was made one of the four lords of the treasury. After the execution of Charles, he was sent by the Scots parliament, in March 1649, with the earl of Lothian, Lord Burly, and others, as commissioners, to Charles the Second at Breda, to offer him the crown of Scotland on certain conditions. These commissioners acted in a double capacity, and had instructions both from the estates and from the commission of the kirk, in both of which the earl of Cassillis was the chief person. Charles endeavoured to prevail on them to modify some of the conditions, but Cassillis adhered firmly to his instructions. On his return to Scotland, his lordship was appointed justice-general, and gave his oath ‘de fideli administratione,’ 29th June of the same year. On 2d July he was appointed an extraordinary lord of session. In 1650 he was again one of the commissioners sent by the parliament to treat with the king at Breda. After the battle of Dunbar, a deputation was sent by the estates, consisting of Cassillis, Argyle, and other members, to the western army “to solicit unity for the good of the kingdom,” General Leslie having threatened to resign his command if they did not unite with him; but their efforts were in vain. The earl afterwards refused to come into any terms with Cromwell.

      On the settlement of the court of session after the Restoration, his lordship, 1st June 1661, was re-appointed one of the four extraordinary lords, but was superseded in July 1662, on account of his refusal to take the oaths of allegiance and supremacy without an explanation, which the parliament would not allow of. In the Scots parliament his lordship moved for an address to the king to marry a protestant, but found only one to second him. When the persecution of the presbyterians commenced, he obtained a promise under the king’s hand that he and his family should not be disturbed in serving god in any way he pleased. He died in April 1668. He married, first, Lady Jean Hamilton, born 8th February 1607, daughter of the first earl of Haddington, and by her who was the heroine of the popular ballad of ‘Johnie Faa, the Gypsy Laddie,’ he had a son, James, Lord Kennedy, who died unmarried, and two daughters. His elder daughter, Lady Margaret, became the wife of the celebrated Bishop Burnet, but had no issue. She was a lady of considerable piety and knowledge, but not remarkable for her political discretion . It is related of her that one day during the commonwealth, as she was standing at a window, she reviled some of Cromwell’s soldiers as murderers of their king. The soldiers threatened that, unless she held her tongue they would fire at her but she continued in the same strain, on which they fired, and a bullet passe between her and another lady beside her, narrowly missing them both. Her sentiments inclined strongly towards the presbyterians, with whom she was in high credit and esteem. Owing to the disparity of their ages, the day before her marriage, the bishop delivered to her a deed renouncing all claim to her fortune, which was considerable. Her younger sister, Lady Catherine, married in 1653, William Lord Cochrane, eldest son of the first earl of Dundonald. The earl of Cassillis married, secondly, Lady Margaret Hay, only daughter of the tenth earl of Errol, relict of Henry Lord Ker, and by her he had a son, John, seventh earl, and two daughters, Ladies Mary and Elizabeth.

      There are various versions of the story of the ill-starred lady, his first countess. The opening stanzas of the ballad which refers to her, run thus:

“The gypsies cam to lord Cassillis yet,
And O! But they sang bonnie;
They sang sae sweet, and sae complete,
That doun dam our fair lady.

“She cam tripping doun the stairs,
Wi’ a’ her maids before her,
As soon as they saw her weelfar’d face,
They cuist their glamourie ower her.”

It is said that the lady Jean Hamilton previous to her marriage with the earl, had been betrothed to a gallant young knight, a Sir John Faa of Dunbar, which town was not more than three miles distant from her father’s seat of Tynningham. When the earl of Cassillis offered for her, the match was esteemed  so advantageous that she was commanded by her father to break off her former engagement; but she arranged with her lover that he should go to the continent, under a solemn pledge that he would return in a few months. Two full years, however, passed away, without any tidings of or from him, and a letter having been received from the English ambassador at Madrid, giving assurance of his death by the hands of some bravos, the lady at last reluctantly consented to marry the earl. Finding that the countess preferred solitude to his society, he is said to have treated her with the utmost indifference. One evening as she was taking her accustomed walk on the battlements of the castle of Cassillis, on the left bank of the Doon, she described a band of gypsies hastily approaching. Such bands were very common at that period, but the number and suspicious appearance of this company were calculated to create considerable alarm, the more especially as the earl was from home, attending the assembly of divines at Westminster. On arriving at the house, however, instead of offering violence, they commenced some of their wild strains, and the countess was in the act of dropping some pieces of money from the window to them, when all at once she recognised in their leader, the tall commanding figure of her former lover, Sir John Faa. An interview immediately took place, and the mysterious cause of his long absence was fully explained. He had been confined for four years in the Inquisition, on account of some unguarded expression he had used respecting the church of Rome. On obtaining his liberty he hastened to London, where he learned for the first time that she was married. He prevailed upon her to elope with him; but they had not proceeded far when the earl most unexpectedly arrived with a powerful retinue. He immediately pursued the fugitives, whom he speedily overtook, and after a short encounter captured the whole party, but one, at a ford over the Doon, still called “the Gypsies’ steps,” a few miles from the castle. Sir John Faa and his followers, fifteen in all, were hanged on a tree, known by the name of the ‘dule,” or dolor, tree, a splendid and most umbrageous plane, which still flourishes on a little knoll in front of the castle gate; while the countess was compelled by her husband to survey from a window the dreadful scene. The particular room in the stately old house where the unhappy lady endured this torture is still called ‘The Countess’ room.” After a short confinement in that apartment, a house at Maybole, which formed the earl’s winter residence, and which is now occupied by the factor of the family, was fitted up for her reception, by the addition of a fine projecting stair-case, upon which were carved fifteen heads representing those of her lover and his band. Being removed thither she there languished out the short remainder of her life in strict confinement. She is said to have occupied herself in working a prodigious quantity of tapestry, so as to have completely covered the walls of her prison. In this she represented her unhappy flight, but with circumstances unsuitable to the details of the ballad, for she is shown mounted behind her lover, gorgeously attired, on a superb white horse, and surrounded by a group of persons who bear no resemblance to a band of gypsies. This fragmentary piece of old tapestry, which is said still to be preserved at Culzean Castle, seems to owe its name and interest to the inventive faculties of the housekeepers, who of course have the old tradition by rote, and connect the countess with what never may have had the slightest relation to her.

      The above version of the story is different from that recited in the ballad, which is sup0osed to have been composed by the only one of the band who escaped. There is extant a letter from the earl to the Rev. Robert Douglas, written shortly after his first wife’s death, in which he expresses a respect and tenderness for her memory quite inconceivable had she been guilty of endeavouring to elope from him; so that it is very doubtful if the Lady Jean Hamilton was the “frail fair one” after all. A portrait of the countess is shown at Holyrood house, but its authenticity is doubted. It is thought rather to be a portrait of Lady Suderland, the Sacharissa of Waller. Another portrait of the countess, said to be a correct likeness, is preserved at Culzean castle. An engraving of it is given in Constable’s Scots Magazine for 1817, from which the following woodcut is taken:


[Lady Jean Hamilton]

      John, seventh earl, held the same religious principles as his father, and pursued the same independent line of conduct. He was the only person in the Scots parliament of 1670 who voted against the act for punishing conventicles. This gave great offence to the duke of Lauderdale and te Scots privy council, who then had the administration of affairs and in January 1678, fifteen hundred men of the “Highland Host” were quartered in Carrick, chiefly on the Cassillis estates, which they plundered. His lordship was ordered to attend at Ayr, 22d February, and on his appearance there a bond was tendered to him to sign, obliging him, under a heavy penalty, to be answerable that his whole family, tenants, and labourers, and their respective families should not attend conventicles nor harbour any of the Covenanters or field preachers. This he refused to do, as contrary to law, and impossible for him to perform. He was, in consequence, denounced an outlaw, and prohibited from quitting the kingdom. Nevertheless, with the duke of Hamilton and twelve other peers he repaired to London, to complain of Lauderdale’s proceedings, but as they had left Scotland without permission they were at first refused an audience. At length they were heard, 25th May, in presence of the cabinet council, but declining to reduce their complaints to writing, without a previous indemnity, as the most cautious remonstrance it was possible to frame could be converted into leasing-making, the king declared his full approbation of the Scottish measures. On the rising of the Covenanters in 1679, the duke of Hamilton, the earl of Cassillis, and the other Scottish lords then in London, humanely offered to put down the insurrection, without arms or effusion of blood, if the sufferings of the people were relieved; but the offer was rejected. They afterwards obtained an audience, and were fully heard on their complaints against Lauderdale, but in vain. On the Scots council writing to the king to cause the earl of Cassillis to be sent down prisoner to Edinburgh to be tried, according to law, for contemning his majesty’s proclamation, the king refused, and a stop was put to all further proceedings against him. He entered heartily into the Revolution, and in 1689 was sworn a privy councillor to King William, and appointed one of the lords of the Treasury. He died 23d July 1701. He was twice married; first, to Lady Susan Hamilton, youngest daughter of James first duke of Hamilton, and had by her a son, John, Lord Kennedy, and a daughter, Lady Anne, married to her cousin-german John earl of Selkirk and Ruglen; 2dly, to Elizabeth or Mary Foix, and had by her a son, the Hon. James Kennedy, who died without issue, and a daughter, Lady Elizabeth. The second countess found that her peerage formed no protection to her in violating the law in keeping a gambling house; for on 29th April 1745 the House of Lords being informed that claims of peerage were made and insisted on by the Ladies Mordington and Cassillis, in order to intimidate the peace-officers from doing their duty in suppressing the public gaming houses kept by these ladies, resolved that no person is entitled to privilege of peerage against any prosecution for keeping any pubic or common gaming house, or any house, room, or place for playing at any game or games prohibited by law. She died 12th September 1746.

      His son, John, Lord Kennedy, married Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Charles Hutcheson, Esq. of Owthorpe, in the county of Nottingham, and died in 1700, in the lifetime of her father, leaving one son, John, who became the eighth earl. His widow married a second time her husband’s cousin-german and brother-in-law, John, earl of Selkirk and Ruglen, without issue. After the marriage of his son, the earl of Cassillis executed a strict entail of his estate, 5th September, 1698.

      John, eighth earl, born in April 1700, succeeded his grandfather when he was little more than a year old. He held the office of governor of the castle of Dumbarton. Under the act of 1747, for the abolition of heritable jurisdictions, he received eighteen hundred pounds for the regality of Carrick, in full of his claim of thirteen thousand one hundred pounds. He died at London 7th August, 1759, and was buried in St. James’ Church, but in June 1760, his body was removed to the Collegiate church of Maybole. He married, 26th October 1738, his cousin, Lady Susan Hamilton, the youngest daughter of his stepfather, John, earl of Selkirk and Ruglen, by Lady Anne Kennedy, daughter of the seventh earl of Cassillis, but had no issue by her. His lordship on 29th March 1759, when his countess was at a ball, privately executed a settlement, in nature of a strict entail, of the whole lands and estates of Cassillis in favour of Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean, baronet, the nearest male heir of the family, and several other heirs and substitutes therein names. Lady Cassillis died 8th February 1763, and was buried in the abbey of Holyroodhouse.

      On the death of the eighth earl, William, earl of March and Ruglen, afterwards duke of Queensberry, grandson of the above-named Lady Anne Kennedy, countess of Selkirk and Ruglen, daughter of the seventh earl of Cassillis, assumed the title of earl of Cassillis, and founding on the entail of 5th September 1698, purchased brieves for having himself served heir of tallzie and provision to the last earl. He was opposed, however, by Sir Thomas Kennedy, who claimed under the entail of 1759, and got himself served heir male to the same earl. An action of reduction, brought by the earl of March, for setting aside the latter entail, was unsuccessful in the court of session, 29th February 1760, and on appear the judgment was confirmed by the House of Lords, thereby establishing the right of Sir Thomas Kennedy to the estate of Cassillis. Petitions were presented to the House of Lords by both parties, claiming the title. Their lordships, 27th January, 1762, adjudged it to belong to Sir Thomas Kennedy, who thus became ninth earl.

      The ninth earl derived his crescent from the Hon. Sir Thomas Kennedy of Culzean, called the tutor of Cassillis, second son of Gilbert, the third earl. He was the second son of Sir John Kennedy of Culzean, great-great-grandson of the tutor of Cassillis, by his wife Jean Douglas, of the family of Mains in Dumbartonshire. His elder brother, Sir John Kennedy, died before him, in April 1744, and he succeeded to his estate. He was then an officer in the British army in Flanders. He was served heir to his brother, 12th July, 1747. At the general election of 1774, the earl was chosen one of the sixteen representatives of the Scots peerage. He died, unmarried, at Culzean, 30th November, 1775.

      His next brother, David, succeeded as tenth earl. He was bred a lawyer, and in 1752 he was admitted a member of the faculty of advocates. At the general election of 1768, he was chosen member of parliament for the county of Ayr. The year after his accession to the title, namely on the 14th November 1776, on a vacancy occurring, he was elected one of the sixteen representative Scots peers, and rechosen at the general elections of 1780 and 1784. He supported Fox’s India Bill in 1783, and signed the protest in favour of the prince of Wales’ right to the regency in 1788. On 2d February 1790, he executed a deed of entail of the estates of Cassillis and Culzean, in favour of Captain Archibald Kennedy, royal navy, and the heirs male of his body, grandson of Alexander Kennedy of Craigoch, second son of Sir Alexander Kennedy of Culzean, youngest son of the tutor of Cassillis. The earl died unmarried at Culzean, 18th December 1792, when the earldom and estates devolved upon the above-named Captain Archibald Kennedy.

      Archibald, eleventh earl, was the son of Archibald Kennedy, collector of customs at New York, having gone there about 1722, by his first wife, a Miss Massam. He entered the navy in 1744, and became captain in 1757. He distinguished himself by many brilliant actions when commander of the Flamborough in 1759, particularly in one when on the Lisbon station, in consequence of which he was presented by the merchants of Lisbon with a handsome piece of plate. He succeeded to a large estate called Pavonia at Second River, in the state of New York, which had belonged to his father, bur during the war of Independence his house was burned and all his papers destroyed. He had the command of a squadron on the coast of North America, and died at London, 30th December 1794. He married, first, a Miss Schuyler, a lady of great property in New Jersey, without issue; and, secondly, Anne, daughter of John Watts of New York, Esq., and by her, who died at Edinburgh, 29th December 1793, he had three sons and a daughter.

      Archibald, the eldest son, became twelfth earl of Cassillis, and was created first baron and then marquis of Ailsa. In 1790 he raised an independent company of foot, and in 1793 was lieutenant-colonel of the west lowland fencible regiment, but resigned that commission the same year. He succeeded his father in 1794, and was chosen one of the sixteen representative Scots peers at the general election in 1802. He was created a baron of the united kingdom by the title of Baron Ailsa of Ailsa, Ayrshire, 4th November 1806, to himself and the heirs male of his body, and in 1831 he received the higher title of marquis of Ailsa. Th title was taken from the “ocean pyramid” called Ailsa Craig, at the mouth of the Firth of Clyde and nearly opposite his seat of Culzean castle. The marquis was also a knight of the Thistle. He married at Dun, 1st June, 1793, Margaret, youngest daughter and eventually heiress of John Erskine, Esq. of Dun, Forfarshire, and had by her two sons and four daughters. The eldest son, Archibald, Lord Kennedy till his father was created marquis of Ailsa, when he took the title of earl of Cassillis was esteemed the best shot in the kingdom in his day. He died suddenly 12th August 1832 before his father. He married Eleanor, daughter and heiress of Alexander Allardyce, Esq. of Dunottar, by whom he had nine sons and a daughter, Lady Hannah Eleanor, married to Sir John Andrew Cathcart, of Carleton, baronet. The second son of the first marquis, Lord John Kennedy Erskine, married Lady Augusta Fitzclarence, a daughter of William the Fourth, and resided at Dun House, near Montrose, sometime previous to his death. He was designed of Dun, and took the name of Erskine as heir to that estate. Lady Anne, the eldest daughter of the marquis, married Sir David Baird of Newbyth, Baronet, and has issue. The first marquis died 8th September 1846, and was buried at Dun. He was succeeded by his grandson, Archibald, eldest son of Lord Kennedy, earl of Cassillis.

      Archibald, second marquis of Ailsa, born 25th August, 1816, was a lieutenant in the 17th dragoons, but retired in 1842. He married, 10th November 1846, Julie, 2d daughter of Sir Richard Mounteney Jephson, baronet, of Springvale, Dorsetshire; issue, a son, Archibald, earl of Cassillis, born in 1847, two other sons and three daughters. The marquis is the sixteenth in direct lineal descent from John de Kennedy, who first changed the name from Carrick to Kennedy.


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