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The Scottish Nation
James


JAMES I., King of Scotland, one of the best of our old poets, the third son of Robert III., by Annabella Drummond, was born at Dunfermline in 1394. After the untimely and mysterious death of his elder brother, David, duke of Rothesay, King Robert resolved to send James to the court of France to complete his education, which had been begun under Walter Wardlaw, bishop of St. Andrews. Accordingly, in 1405, when only eleven years of age, the young prince sailed from his native country, under the care of the earl of Orkney, but his vessel being taken by an English squadron, in violation of a truce which at this time subsisted between England and Scotland, he was carried prisoner to the Tower of London, where he remained for two years, and was afterwards transferred to Windsor castle. Though kept in close confinement, he was instructed in every branch of knowledge which that age afforded, and became also eminently expert in all athletic exercises. He acquainted himself especially with the art of government, and made observations on the mode of administering justice, in a country which had been earlier civilized and was more advanced in the knowledge of law than the one he was destined to govern. His father having died of grief at his capture, his uncle, Albany, and after his death his son Murdoch, ruled as regent in his absence.


[portrait of James I]

      In 1421 Henry V. of England took James with him in his second expedition against France, in the hope of detaching the Scots auxiliaries from the French service; and on his return recommitted him to Windsor Castle. The captive monarch cheered the gloom of his prison by the consolations of philosophy and poetry, in the latter of which he excelled. He appears particularly to have studied the writings of Chaucer and Gower. At length, after a captivity of nearly nineteen years, he was restored, when in his 30th year, to his kingdom, by the duke of Bedford, then regent of England, and he returned to Scotland in April 1424, having espoused the Lady Joanna Beaufort, daughter of the duke of Somerset, of the blood royal of England. This lady was the fair beauty described in his choice poem of ‘The King’s Quhair,’ or Book, of whom he became enamoured on seeing her, from his window, walking in the royal gardens at Windsor castle, and who, he says, had

“Beauty enough to make a world to doat.”

      Finding that the duke of Albany, and his son Murdoch, had alienated most of the royal possessions, and reduced the kingdom to a state of anarchy and lawless disorder, he caused the latter, with his two sons, and the aged earl of Lennox, to be executed as traitors, and their estates to be confiscated to the Crown. By the enactment in parliament of wise and judicious laws he endeavoured to curb the enormous power of the nobility, and to improve the condition of the people, which, while it rendered him popular with his subjects generally, drew upon him the hatred and indignation of his nobles, who had long acted beyond the control of the law. Besides appointing judges to administer and enforce the laws in every county, he ordered standard weights and measures to be made, encouraged learned men, erected public schools, which he liberally endowed, and finding the resources of the kingdom greatly diminished, and trade much neglected, he invited various manufacturers from Flanders, whom  he liberally encouraged to settle in Scotland.

      In 1436 he renewed the alliance with France, giving his eldest daughter Margaret, princess of Scotland, in marriage to the dauphin. She was only twelve years old when she married the French prince, who was scarcely a year older. She died in August 1445, in her twenty-second year, her death having been occasioned by a slanderous imputation by one of the courtiers. Her marriage was an unhappy one; her husband, afterwards the demotic and superstitious Louis XI., being the most cruel, treacherous, and malignant monarch that ever sat on the French throne, albeit he was the first of France who was styled “Most Christian King.” It was his maxim Dissimuler c’est regner. One of his creatures, Jamet de Villy, falsely accused the princess of being unfaithful to her husband. The innocent princess was so overwhelmed by the infamous accusation that she took to her bed, and pined away, overcome by grief. Before she expired, she exclaimed, “Ah! Jamet, Jamet, you have gained your purpose.” The story was afterwards proved to be false, and Jamet declared to be a “scoundrel” and “common liar.” Louis XI. Is admirably represented in Scott’s graphic novel of “Quentin Durward.” A portrait of the princess on horseback is given in Pinkerton’s Scottish portraits, vol. i.

      A fruitless attempt of the English to intercept at sea the princess on her passage, with the delay of redress for sundry inroads committed by them, induced James to declare war against England. Raising an army, amounting, it is said, to 200,000 men, he laid siege to Roxburgh castle, then held by the English, but after fifteen days’ investment, not being supported by his barons, and being informed, according to some writers, of a conspiracy against his life, he disbanded his forces, and retired to the monastery of the Dominicans or Black Friars, in Perth, where he had resolved to celebrate the festival of Christmas. On his journey thither a Highland woman, who pretended to be a soothsayer, but who in reality was acquainted with the designs of the conspirators, appeared before the king and his attendants, as he was about to pass the Firth of Forth at Queensferry. Her wild and singular attitude astonished James. “My lord and king,” she exclaimed, “if you pass over this water, you will never return alive.” James was startled at her language, and an old prediction occurred to his recollection, that the king of Scotland would be slain that year. He ordered one of his retinue to ride to the woman, and ask the meaning of her mysterious intimation, but she merely repeated what she had said to the king, that if he passed the Scottish sea, as the Firth of forth was anciently designated, he would never return alive. She was asked who gave her this information, and she replied that she received it from a man named Hubert, most probably a domestic in the service of the king. The intimation of the woman was unfortunately disregarded. The king and his attendants passed on, believing her to be, what he who questioned her described her, “a drunken fool who knew not what she said.”

      The principal conspirator against the king was Sir Robert Graham, uncle of Malise, earl of Strathearn. He had been imprisoned by James in 1425, when he took summary vengeance on the family of the duke of Albany. In a meeting of the Estates in 1424, a statute had been enacted to ascertain the lands which belonged to the Crown at the decease of Robert I., and James was authorised to demand the production of all charters and writs of tenure. Under pretence that the earldom of Strathearn was a male fee, the king gave the liferent of it, in 1426, to his uncle, Walter, earl of Athol and Caithness, grand-uncle of Malise, who was thus divested of his earldom; but as a recompense the king assigned to him the earldom of Menteith. Athol, who was at that time approaching his seventieth year, was the son of Robert II. By Euphemia Ross, the second queen of that monarch; and his grandson, Sir Robert Stuart, was in great favour with James, who appointed him private chamberlain at court. Sir Robert Graham, indignant at the divestment and transfer of his nephew’s dignity, began to intrigue with the earl of Athol and his grandson, who were both ambitious, intimating that if the king was dead, the crown would of right devolve upon the latter. He soon found a number of desperate adventurers to aid him in his plans, and he inflamed the people by false statements of the proceedings of James, while he aggravated the discontent of the nobles, already greatly irritated at their diminished power and influence. In 1434, shortly after he had been released from his imprisonment, he attended a meeting of the principal nobility, where he expressed himself in the most outrageous manner against James, who was then proceeding vigorously in his endeavours to humble the feudal greatness of his barons. He maintained that the execution of Murdoch duke of Albany and his sons had originated in the avarice of the king, whose object was to possess their estates, and he concluded a long harangue with saying, “My lords, if you will firmly support me in what I shall say to the king, I will demand redress in your presence, and I trust in God we shall be satisfied.” His proposal was highly approved of, and the nobles present bound themselves to support him.

      When the Estates met in 1435, relying on the promises of aid he had received, this daring conspirator rose, and advancing to the royal seat, laid his hand on the king, and exclaimed, – “I arrest you in the name of the estates of your realm now assembled, for, as your subjects are bound and sworn to obey you in the administration of the laws, in like manner you are compelled to defend your people, to govern by the laws, so that you do not wrong them, but defend and maintain them in justice.” Then turning to the nobles, he asked, “Is it not thus as I say?” But, astonished at his boldness, and awed by the presence of the king, they maintained a profound silence, and James immediately ordered Graham to prison. He was soon after sent into banishment, when he retired to the solitary fastnesses of the Highlands. As his estates were forfeited, he proceeded to renounce his allegiance, and he sent the king a mortal defiance, declaring that for his tyranny he would destroy him, his wife and children, whenever he had an opportunity. James immediately issued a proclamation, offering a large reward for Graham, dead or alive. The other chief conspirators were Athol, Sir Robert Stuart, and Christopher Chambers, one of the king’s domestics, whom they had bribed.

      The night fixed for carrying the plot into execution was that of Ash Wednesday, being the 20th February, 1437. The earl of Athol and his grandson attended the king that evening, and some time after supper, the amusements of the court having been kept up till alate hour, James called for the parting cup, and every one present drank before retiring to rest. Shortly after midnight, Graham, with three hundred Highlanders of Athol, was in possession of the convent, having entered without being observed, or meeting the slightest interruption. The king was in his own apartment, and was standing before the fireplace in a kind of undress, gaily conversing with his queen and a few of her ladies, when suddenly he heard the clashing of arms in the courtyard, and the flashes of torches from without glared through the room. As the noise waxed louder, the queen and her ladies clung to each other, surrounding the king, but soon recovering their presence of mind, they rushed to the door, which they found open, and the bolts destroyed. The king, without arms or attendants, besought them to keep the door fast as long as they could, while he examined if escape were practicable. Finding the windows of the apartment strongly barred, he seized the fire-tongs, and after a desperate exertion succeeded in lifting a plant from the floor, which covered a kind of square vault or cellar of narrow dimensions. Through this aperture he dropped, and the flooring was carefully replaced. The room below was full of dust, and by a sad fatality he had caused a small square window, through which he could have easily escaped, to be built up three days previously, on account of the tennis balls entering it, when that game was played in the garden.

      On the approach of the conspirators to the king’s apartment, Lady Catherine Douglas thrust her arm into the bolt, while the other ladies pressed against the door. But the delicate armbone was in a moment broken by the violence of the assassins in bursting it open. Several of the king’s attendants whom the noise had attracted, in offering resistance, were killed, and among them Patrick Dunbar, a brother of the earl of March. Not finding the king in the apartment, and forgetting the cellar below the floor, the conspirators proceeded to the adjoining rooms in search of him. Supposing that they had left the convent, James called for sheets to draw him out of the place of his confinement. With considerable exertion, the ladies removed the plank, and were proceeding to extricate him, when one of them, Elizabeth Douglas, fell into the cellar. At this unfortunate moment, Christopher Chambers happened to pass along the gallery, and saw what the ladies were doing. Calling to his associates, he entered the apartment with a torch, and though the noise of his approach had caused the ladies hastily to replace the board, he carefully examined the floor, and soon perceived that a plant had been broken up. On lifting it, he held the torch in the aperture, and beheld the king and the lady. “Sirs,” he loudly cried, “the bridegroom is found for whom we have been searching and carolling all night long.” The conspirators broke up the floor, and one of them, named Sir John Hall, leaped into the cellar, with a dagger in his hand. The king grappled him by the shoulders, and dashed him to the ground. A brother of Hall descended, and aimed at the king, but the blow was parried, and he was also seized by the neck, and thrown down. Yet in vain did James attempt to wrest a dagger from either; and in the struggle he cut his hands severely.

      Sir Robert Graham now appeared in the room, and instantly spring into the cellar. Weary and faint by his former struggles, weaponless, and profusely bleeding at the hands, James appealed to him for mercy, as farther resistance was vain. “Thou cruel tyrant,” said Graham, raising his dagger, “never didst thou show mercy to those of thine own blood, nor to any gentleman who came in thy way; expect no mercy now.” “Then,” entreated the king, “I implore thee, for the salvation of my soul, to let me have a confessor.” “No,” replied the assassin, “no other confessor shalt thou have than this dagger.” Graham plunged his weapon into the king’s breast, and the ill-fated monarch fell, mortally wounded. Graham and the two brothers, Hall, Then fell upon him, and repeatedly stabbed him in various parts of the body even after he was dead. In his breast there were no fewer than sixteen wounds, any one of which would have produced death.

      At the time of his assassination, James was in the 44th year of his age, and the thirty-first of his nominal, though only the thirteenth, of his actual reign. His death was universally bewailed by the nation, and his inhuman murderers, who were all apprehended within a month after, were put to death by the most horrible tortures.

      James left a son, also named James, the subject of the following article, and five daughters. A portrait of his queen, Jane or Joanna, is in Pinkerton’s Scottish Gallery, taken from a rare print, and subjoined is a woodcut of it.


[woodcut of Joanna, queen of James I]

      One of his daughters, the princess Isabel, married in November 1442, Francis I., duke of Bretagne, having been affianced to him the preceding year, when his father, duke John V., was alive. Argentré, in his History of Bretagne, informs us that when the envoys of John returned from Scotland, that prince was eager to know their opinion of the princess. They informed him that she had beauty, health, and an elegant person, but was very silent, and apparently simple. “My dear friends,” said the duke, “I beg you will return to Scotland and bring her to me; she is just such a wife as I desire for my son. Knowledge does a woman more hurt than good; upon my soul, I shall have no other. By the body of St. Nicolas, a woman is quite wise enough, when she can distinguish her husband’s shirt from his waistcoat.” In Pinkerton’s Scottish Gallery, where this celebrated reply is quoted, there is a fine portrait of Isabel of Scotland, a copy from the engraving in Lobineau’s Histoire de Bretagne, taken from the original painting in the cathedral of Vannes, of which a woodcut is subjoined.


[woodcut of Isabella, daughter of James I]

      James I. Holds a high rank among Scottish poets. The chief memorial of his fame is his allegorical poem of ‘The King’s Quhair,’ the only manuscript copy of which in existence was discovered in the Bodleian library at Oxford, by Lord Woodhouselee (see TYTLER, Alexander Fraser), who, in 1783, first published it to the world, with explanatory notes and a critical dissertation. To James is likewise ascribed two humorous poems, entitled ‘Christ’s Kirk on the Green,’ and ‘Peblis to the Play,’ descriptive of the rural manners and pastimes of that age. Historians relate that he was also a skilful musician, and some attribute to him the composition of many of the most favourite national melodies of Scotland. A list of the works ascribed to James I. Will be found in Park’s edition of Walpole’s royal and Noble Authors.

JAMES II. King of Scotland, succeeded to the throne, on the murder of his father in February 1437, when only seven years of age, and during his minority the public affairs were chiefly directed by Chancellor Crichton, who had been the minister of James I.; while Alexander Livingston was chosen keeper of the King’s person, but these ministers unhappily disagreed, in consequence of which the country was divided into two factions. When at length he assumed the government into his own hands, James displayed a prudence and fortitude which inspired hopes of an energetic reign. He succeeded in overawing and nearly ruining the potent family of Douglas, which had so long rivalled and defied the crown, and with his own hand stabbed the eighth earl to the heart in Stirling castle, for refusing to break up the treasonable confederacy which had been formed with the earls of Crawford and Ross. He procured the sanction of parliament to laws more subversive of the power of the nobles than had been obtained by any of his predecessors. By one of these, not only all the vast possessions of the earl of Douglas were annexed to the crown, but all prior and future alienations of crown lands were declared to be void. He was accidentally killed by the bursting of a cannon at the siege of Roxburgh, August 3, 1460, in the 30th year of his age, and the 24th of his reign.

      He had married in 1450, the princess Mary, daughter of the duke of Gueldres, by whom he left three sons and a daughter. On receiving intelligence of her husband’s death, the queen hastened to the camp, with her eldest son, James, then only in his seventh year, and boldly exhorted the nobles to continue the siege, with the words, “I give you another king.” The siege was in consequence vigorously pressed, when the garrison surrendered, and the castle of Roxburgh was levelled with the ground.

JAMES III., born in 1453, ascended the throne in 1460, being first proclaimed in the town of Kelso. During his minority, the administration of public affairs was committed to Robert, Lord Boyd, the chancellor, and the archbishops of Glasgow and St. Andrews, and the bishop of Dunkeld, and by them a treaty of peace with England was concluded for fifteen years. On 13th July 1469, the king’s marriage was celebrated with Margaret, daughter of the king of Denmark, who, in name of dowry, made a permanent gift of the Orkney and Shetland isles to the crown of Scotland. From a portrait of this princess, in Pinkerton’s Scottish Gallery, the subjoined woodcut is taken.


[woodcut of Margaret, wife of James III]

      Like his father and grandfather, James aimed at humbling the power of the nobles, but far inferior to them in abilities and address, he attached himself to persons of mean station, and treated his nobility with coldness and neglect. Having detected a design formed against him, in which his brothers, Alexander, duke of Albany, and John, earl of Mar, were implicated, James seized their persons, and committed Albany to Edinburgh castle, while Mar was murdered, it is said, by the king’s command. Albany made his escape, and concluded a treaty with Edward IV. Of England, in consequence of which he returned to Scotland, with a powerful army under the duke of Gloucester. James was compelled to implore the assistance of his nobles, and while they lay in the camp hear Lauder, a conspiracy for the destruction of the king’s favourites was formed among them, with Douglas earl of Angus at its head, and the earls of Angus, Huntly, and Lennox, with other barons of less note, forcibly entered the apartment of their sovereign, seized all the favourites except one, Sir John Ramsay, afterwards created earl of Bothwell, and without any form of trial hanged them over the bridge of Lauder, in July 1482. James himself, a prisoner in the hands of his rebellious barons, was conveyed to Edinburgh castle, in which he was strictly confined for a time, under the charge of his uncles, the earls of Buchan and Athol. He soon obtained his liberation; but new conspiracies were entered into, and the malcontent nobles having obtained possession of the king’s eldest son, a youth of sixteen, they placed him at their head, and openly proclaimed their intention of depriving James of a crown of which, they declared, he had proved himself unworthy. Roused by his danger, the king formed the design of retreating into the north, but the rebellious lords advancing upon Edinburgh, he had scarcely time to get on board one of the ships of Sir Andrew Wood, and cross over to Fife, when he learned that the whole of the southern part of Scotland had risen in arms. Proceeding towards the north, James issued orders for assembling an army, and he speedily found himself at the head of a well-appointed force of 30,000 men.        

      The two parties came to an engagement at Sanchie, near Stirling, July 11, 1488. James fled at the first onset, was thrown from his horse, carried into a miller’s hut, and by a person who, calling himself a priest, was brought to confess him, he was treacherously murdered, in the 36th year of his age, and 28th of his reign.

      The portrait of James III. And his son kneeling, as in the altar-piece, originally painted, not later than the year 1484, of the Collegiate church of the Holy Trinity, Edinburgh, which is given in a separate steel plate, has been verified by Mr. David Laing, keeper of the library of the Writers to the Signet, in an interesting and valuable historical description, communicated to the Society of antiquaries of Scotland, and inserted in the Proceedings of that body, vol. iii., part 1, page 8. 1860. The original paintings, transferred in consequence of a memorial addressed to her majesty, signed by the dukes of Hamilton and Buccleuch, and other influential persons, to the palace of Holyrood from Hampton Court, as the most appropriate place for preserving authentic portraits of the royal family of Scotland, have been, by authority of the lords commissioners of the treasury, placed within frames of large plate glass, and raised on handsome oak pedestals, so that both sides of the panels are exhibited to advantage.

JAMES IV., eldest son of James III., by Margaret, princess of Denmark, was born in March 1472, and succeeded to the throne in 1488. Naturally generous and brave, and fond of magnificence, he soon acquired the confidence of his nobles, and by his amiable and popular manners, and the enactment of wise and salutary laws, obtained the affections of his people. He excelled in all warlike exercises; and, by frequent tournaments and other splendid exhibitions, he attracted to his court not only his own nobility, but also many knights from foreign countries. To acquaint himself with the wants, manners, and pursuits of his subjects, he was also in the habit of mixing amongst them in disguise. In 1503 he married Margaret, daughter of Henry VII. Of England, an event which laid the foundation of the future union of the two crowns. By the marriage treaty a peace was concluded with England, which continued unbroken for nine years, during which time the kingdom, under his beneficent government, enjoyed the utmost tranquility and prosperity. Unfortunately, however, James’ impetuous and chivalric character could ill brook some indications of hostility shown by his brother-in-law, Henry VIII., soon after his accession to the English throne; and, assembling a numerous army, he invaded the northern counties of England, He was encountered by the earl of Surrey at the head of 31,000 men, on the fatal field of Flodden, September 9, 1513, when the Scots army sustained a decisive overthrow, the king and the choicest of his nobility being among the slain. James was in the 41st year of his age, and 26th of his reign, at the time of this disastrous engagement, in which twelve earls, thirteen lords, five eldest sons of peers, fifty gentlemen of note, several dignitaries of the church, and about ten thousand common men, were left on the field with their sovereign.


[portrait of James IV]

      In the Iconographia Scotica of Pinkerton, there are two portraits of this generous and magnificent monarch, one of them with a falcon on his fist, and the other with a thistle in his hand, and a chain round his waist. Historians describe his person as of the middle size, and elegant, with a majestic countenance. Of the former portrait, Pinkerton says: “The present curious and interesting portrait is from a painting in the possession of Mr. Batsford, at Fulham; which appears to have belonged to King Charles I. In the catalogue of that king’s pictures, p. 87, there is this article: ‘Item, beside the door, the picture of King James IV. Of Scotland, with a faulcon on his fist, done after an ancient water-coloured piece; half a figure, so big as the life, in a carved frame. Length 3 f. 1. Breadth 2 f. 0. Done by Daniel Mytens.’ This invaluable piece is in good preservation; and Mytens, who flourished in the reign of James I. Of England, has shown great talent in the execution. The prototype was probably a painting in distemper, in one of the Scottish palaces.”

JAMES V., son of the preceding, was only eighteen months old when he succeeded to the throne, having been born in April 1512. Among the persons who had the principal charge of his education were Sir David Lindsay of the Mount, Gavin Dunbar, and John Bellenden. During his minority, the queen-mother was appointed regent, in consequence of the will left by her husband, although it was contrary to the Scottish law; but after her marriage with the earl of Angus, John duke of Albany was elected regent. In 1524, when only in his twelfth year, the nobles, tired of the state of misrule into which the country had been brought, and of the dissensions which prevailed among themselves, requested the young king to assume the government. His power, however, was merely nominal, as four guardians were appointed, by whom the whole authority of the state was exercised in his name. The earl of Angus, one of these, soon obtained the ascendency over his colleagues, and he held the king in such restraint as induced James, in his seventeenth year, to make his escape from the palace of Falkland, and take refuge in Stirling castle, the residence of his mother. By the most vigorous measures, the king now proceeded to repress disorders and punish crime throughout the kingdom. Attended by a numerous retinue, under the pretence of enjoying the pleasures of hunting, he made progresses into the unsettled parts of the country, executing thieves and marauders, and caused the law to be obeyed even in the remotest parts of his dominions. The most memorable of his victims was the border outlaw, Johnie Armstrong, who, on coming to pay his respects to the king, was summarily hanged with all his followers.

      In 1532 the college of justice or court of session was instituted by James, modelled on the court of the parliament of Paris.

      In 1535 James went over to France upon a matrimonial expedition, and married Magdalene, eldest daughter of the French king, who died of consumption within forty days after her arrival in Scotland. He afterwards, in June 1538, espoused Mary of Guise, widow of the duke of Longueville. His continual efforts to depress the nobility rendered almost his whole reign disastrous. A rupture with Henry VIII. Led to the battle of Solway Moss, one of the most inglorious in the Scottish annals. The chief command of the Scots troops having been conferred on Oliver Sinclair, a favourite of the king, the haughty and discontented nobles indignantly refused to obey such a leader, and were, in consequence, easily defeated by an inferior body of English. When the tidings of this disaster reached James, he was struck to the heart with grief and mortification.. Hastening to Edinburgh, he shut himself up for a week, and then passed over to Falkland, where he took to his bed. Meantime his queen had been delivered at Linlithgow of a daughter, afterwards the unfortunate Mary, queen of Scots. On being informed of this event, he exclaimed, “It (meaning the crown) cam with a lass, and it will go with a lass,” and in a few days thereafter expired, December 13, 1542, being only in the thirty-first year of his age and twenty-ninth of his reign. His deathbed was peculiarly affecting. A few of his most favoured friends and councillors stood round his couch; the monarch stretched out his hand for them to kiss; and regarding them for some moments with a look of great sweetness and placidity, turned himself upon the pillow and expired. He left an only daughter, the beautiful but unfortunate Mary, queen of Scots, an infant of eight days old, to succeed to the crown, and amongst other illegitimate children, a son, James, afterwards the famous Regent Moray, his mother being the daughter of John, fourth Lord Erskine.

      His love of justice endeared James V. to the people, who conferred on him the proud title of “King of the Poor.” to gratify a strong passion for romantic adventure, he used often to roam through the country in disguise, under the name of “The Gudeman of Ballangeich.” He is said to have been the author of the well-known ballad of ‘The Gaberlunzie Man;’ and to him is also ascribed the popular old song of ‘The Jollie Beggar,’ both founded on his own adventures.

      His person is described as having been of the middle size; his form elegant and majestic, his face oval, his eyes blue, his hair yellow. He had an aquiline nose, and the most striking features of the Stuarts, from the accession of the family. His portrait, engraved for the ‘Scottish Nation,’ is from one in Pinkerton’s Iconographia Scotica, after a drawing in Lord Orford’s possession, copied from a contemporary painting in the collection of the duke of Devonshire.

JAMES VI. Of Scotland, and I. Of England, the son of Mary, queen of Scots, and Henry Lord Darnley, was born in Edinburgh castle, June 19, 1566. In July of the following year, on the forced resignation of his mother, James was crowned king at Stirling, when he was scarcely more than a year old. Soon after his birth, he was intrusted to the care of the earl of Mar, and his youth was passed at Stirling castle, under the tuition chiefly of George Buchanan. He was of a docile but timid disposition, and his progress in learning was rapid. During his minority the kingdom was governed by regents, of whom the earls of Moray and Morton were the most conspicuous. In 1578 James assumed the government into his own hands; and one of his first acts was to reconcile the feuds of his nobility, whom, for that purpose, he invited to a grand festival at Holyrood-house. He early discovered that excessive propensity to favouritism which accompanied him through life. His preference of the duke of Lennox and Captain James Stewart, son of Lord Ochiltree, created earl of Arran, led to the celebrated “Raid of Ruthven” in August 1582, when the confederated nobles compelled him to dismiss them from his councils. In the following May James made his escape from Ruthven castle, when he recalled the earl of Arran, executed the earl of Gowrie for treason (in May 1584), and banished most of the lords engaged with him in that enterprise. In 1585 the banished nobles returned to Scotland with an army, and succeeded in obtaining a pardon for themselves, as well as the removal of the favourites from the king’s presence.

      During the long imprisonment of his ill-fated mother, James treated her with neglect; but when it became evident that Queen Elizabeth was at length about to consummate her cruelty to Mary by putting her to a violent death, he felt himself called upon to interfere. He sent a letter of remonstrance to the English queen, and appealed to his foreign allies for assistance. On receiving the tidings of her execution, he exhibited every outward sign of grief and indignation. He rejected with becoming spirit the excuses of Elizabeth, and made preparations for war, but, conscious of the inadequacy of his resources, no actual hostilities took place.

      In 1589 James contracted a matrimonial alliance with Anne, second daughter of Frederick, king of Denmark. The princess, on her voyage, being, by contrary winds, driven back to Norway, James sailed in quest of her, and after a winter passed in feasting and revelry in Copenhagen, returned with his queen to Scotland in May 1590. For the next ten years the history of his reign exhibits much turbulence and party contention. In August 1600, while the kingdom was in a state of unusual tranquility, occurred the mysterious affair called the Gowrie conspiracy, one of the most inexplicable events in the annals of Scotland. Historians have assumed that the earl of Gowrie and his brother, Alexander Ruthven, had concerted a plan to assassinate the king, in revenge for their father’s execution in 1584. On the 5th of August 1600, he was at his palace of Falkland in Fife, enjoying his favourite amusement of hunting, and at an early hour in the morning he had mounted, with his suite, and was proceeding in search of game, when he met Alexander Ruthven, who with great earnestness informed him that he had seized a person in disguise, of a very suspicious appearance, who held under his cloak a pot full of money, whom he had confined in his brother’s castle at Perth for his examination. The king conceiving him to be an agent of the Pope or the king of Spain, was persuaded to proceed to Perth, taking with him only the duke of Lennox, the earl of Mar, and about twenty others. Soon after his arrival, while his retinue were partaking of a repast in an adjoining apartment, Alexander requested James to follow him privately; and, leading him up a staircase, through several rooms, the doors of which he carefully locked behind them, came at last to a small study, where there stood a man in armour, with a sword and dagger by his side. At this strange sight, James started back, but Ruthven, snatching the dagger, held it to his breast, saying, “Remember how unjustly my father suffered by your command; you are my prisoner; submit to my disposal, without resistance or outcry, or this dagger shall instantly revenge his blood.” James made use of expostulations, entreaties, and flattery, on which Ruthven left him in charge of the armed man, to seek for his brother. In the meantime the king’s attendants became impatient, and on inquiring for James, one of the servants hastily appeared among them, and told them that his majesty had just ridden off towards Falkland. All of them rushed out into the street; and the earl, with the utmost eagerness, called for their horses. Alexander Ruthven had, by this time, returned to the mysterious chamber where the king was detained, and swearing now that there was no remedy, and that he must die, proceeded to bind his hands. Unarmed as he was, the king scorned to submit to such an indignity, but closing with his opponent, a fierce struggle ensued. The man in armour, who had hitherto stood motionless, threw up the window, and the king, dragging Ruthven towards it, cried, with a wild and affrighted voice, “Treason! Help! My lord of Mar! Help, help, I am murdered!” His attendants, hearing his cries, and seeing at the window a hand which grasped his neck, hastened to his assistance. Lennox and Mar, with the greater number of the nobles, ran up the principal staircase, where, finding all the doors shut, they endeavoured in vain to force a passage. But Sir John Ramsay, of the Dalhousie family, one of the royal pages, ascending by a backstair, called “the black turnpike,” found the door of the apartment open; and seizing Ruthven, who was still struggling with the king, struck him twice with his sword, and thrust him towards the entrance, where he was met and killed by Sir Thomas Erskine and Sir Hugh Herries. With his last breath he exclaimed, “Alas! I am not to blame for this matter.”

      On the death of his brother, Gowrie rushed into the room, with a drawn sword in each hand, followed by seven of his people, well armed, and a scuffle ensued, when Sir John Ramsay pierced the earl through the heart, and he fell dead without uttering a word. The inhabitants of Perth, with whom Gowrie was extremely popular, hearing of his fate, ran to arms, and surrounded his house, threatening revenge. His majesty endeavoured to pacify them, by speaking to them from a window, and also by admitting the magistrates, to whom he fully detailed the circumstances of the case; on which they dispersed, and he returned to Falkland. Three of the earl’s accomplices were afterwards condemned and executed at Perth, and diligent search being made for the person concealed in the study, Andrew Henderson, the earl’s steward, upon a promise of pardon, acknowledged himself to be the man. From his confessions, however, and those of others implicated in the transaction, it appeared that they were totally ignorant of the motives which had prompted their master to such a deed. From the utter want of preparation for an effective defence on the part of the brothers, we are inclined to believe that they did not meditate the death of the king, but merely to get possession of his person, the only mode adopted in those days, by ambitious or discontented noblemen, to obtain a change in the policy of the government, and to render their own influence paramount. The subject has been very ably investigated in ‘Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials,’ and the evidence connected with it has already been referred to under the head of GOWRIE, earl of.

      For the next three years, James was in constant communication with his ambassadors in England, and directed their measure, relative to his succession to the crown of that kingdom, with a degree of skill and knowledge of life which could scarcely have been expected from his previous management of Scottish affairs.

      In 1603, on the death of Queen Elizabeth, James succeeded to the throne of England, when his style was changed to James I., being the first king of that name in the sister country. He signalised his accession to the English crown by bestowing a profusion of titles and honours on both Scotsmen and Englishmen, but his undisguised preference of his own countrymen excited the jealousy and complaints of his new subjects. A conference held in the beginning of 1604, at Hampton Court, between the divines of the established church and the puritans, afforded James an opportunity of displaying his skill in theological controversy, and of declaring his determination to oppress all who dissented from episcopacy. His despotic and intolerant spirit even led him to re-light the fires of persecution. In 1611 he caused two of his English subjects, Bartholomew Legate and Edward Wightman, to be burnt for heresy, the one at Smithfield, and the other at Lichfield. On November 5, 1605, was discovered the famous Gunpowder Plot, concerted by some English Roman Catholics, the object of which was to blow up king and parliament; and, some time after, was also detected a conspiracy entered into by Lord Cobham and others to place the Lady Arabella Stuart on the throne.

      In 1612 he lost his eldest son Henry, a prince of great promise. In 1613 the eventful marriage of his daughter Elizabeth, with the elector palatine of the Rhine, took place. James’ favourite at this time was Robert Carr of Kerr, of the Kerrs of Fernihirst, a youth from Scotland, whom he had created earl of Somerset. The scandalous murder of Sir Thomas Overbury by the machinations of this minion and his infamous countess, led to his disgrace at court, which paved the way for the rise of George Villiers, duke of Buckingham. The unjust execution of the gallant and accomplished Sir Walter Raleigh in 1618, to please the court of Spain, has left a deep stain on James’ memory.

      The close of James’ life was marked by violent contests with his parliament, which prepared dreadful consequences for his son, Charles I. He was also much disquieted by the misfortunes of his son-in-law, the elector-palatine, who had been stripped of all his dominions by the German emperor. By first undertaking the defence of the Protestants of Germany, and then abandoning their cause, James incurred considerable odium. Urged by natural feelings for the popular cause, in 1624 he had declared war against Spain and the emperor. It was not without great reluctance that he consented to this step, nor would any considerations of national honour or interest have persuaded him to it, had not his son Charles, and the favourite Buckingham, supported it. The military expedition, however, to Holland proved a miserable failure. The French court stood aloof from the struggle, and the Dutch received their English allies with coldness and inhumanity. Chagrined at the turn which affairs had taken, distracted by the cabals of his courtiers, and irritated by what appeared to him the arrogance of his parliament and the disloyalty of his people, James’ health, already shaken by the intemperate use of strong and sweet wines, and repeated attacks of gout, began to give way. Early in the spring of 1625, he was seized with tertian ague, and died on the 27th March that year, in the 59th year of his age. His reign was distinguished by the establishment of new colonies, the introduction of manufactures, and the improvement of Ireland.

      James, who shuddered at the sight of a drawn sword, was very expert with his pen, and he prided himself much on his literary abilities. Though dogmatical and pedantic, his learning was extensive, and he had strong powers of mind when divested of prejudice. He attempted poetry with considerable success. So fond was he of polemics, that he founded Chelsea college expressly for controversial theology. His grandson, Charles II., however, converted it into an asylum for disabled soldiers. For the encouragement of leaning, James also founded, in April 1582, the university of Edinburgh, and he conferred a lasting benefit on all who speak the English language, by the authorised version of the Holy Scriptures, still in use, which was begun under his instructions, in 1604, and completed and published in 1611.

    His works are:

      The Essayes of a Prentise in the Divine Art of Poesie. Edinburgh, 1584 and 1585, 4to. At that time his majesty was only in his 18th year. After the Commendatory Poems in this volume, follow twelve Sonnets, preceded by, Ane Quadrain of Alexandrin Verse; Next succeed, The Vranie, being a Translation from Du Bartas; Ane Metaphoricall invention of a Tragedie, called Phoenix; a Paraphrastical Translation out of the Poete Lucane; ane Schort Treatise, conteining some Revlis and Cautelis to be obseruit and eschewit in Scottis Poesie. These Rules are the most curious portion of the book, and are followed by, The ciiii. Psalme, translated ovt of tremellivs; and ane schort Poeme of tyme. A new edition of this work was given by R. P Gillies, in 1814.

      Ane Fruitful Meditation, conteining ane plaine and facill Expositioun of ye 7, 8, 9, and 10 fersis of the 20th Cahpt. Of the Revelatioun, in forme of ane Sermone. Set doun be the maist Christiane King, and synceir professour, and chief defender of the treuth, Iames the 6, King of Scottis. Edin. 1588, 4to. In English, entitled, The King’s Majestie of Scotland, James the 6th his Fruitfull Meditation, containing an Exposition, or laying open of Revel. xx. 7-10. First printed in Scottish, at Edenborough, 1588. Since printed at London, 1589, and 1603, 8vo. This work was also printed in French, at Rochelle, in 1589. Ane Meditatioun upon the xxv., xxvii., and xxix. verses of the xv. Chapt. Of the first buke of the Chronicles of the Kingis. Edin. 1589, 4to.

      Poeticall Exercises, at Vacant Hours. Edin. 1591. 4to. This he characterises as the work of his “verie young and tender years.” Reprinted by R. P. Gillies in 1814.

      Demonologie, in form of dialogue; divided into three books. Edin. 1597, 1600, 4to. Lond. 1603, 4to.

      The Questions to be resolvit at the convention of the Estaits and Generall Assemblie, appointed to be at the burgh of Perth, the last day of Februarie nixt to come. Edinburgh, 1597, 4to. These questions, 55 in number, are subscribed James Rx.

      Instructions to his sonne, Prince Henry, Edin. 1603, 12mo.

      Baqsilicon doron; a Poem. Lond. 1603, 1604, 8vo. Paros, 1603, 1604, 8vo, and 16mo. A treatise to his son.

      Jacobi M. Britanniae, &c. Regis Declaratio pro Jure Regio, Sceptrorumque Immunitate; adversus Card. Peronii Orationem in Comitiis Franciae generallibus ad Ordinem Plebium Parisiis habitam 18 Cal. Feb. 1615. Lond. 1616, 4to.

      The True Lawe of Free Monarchies; or, the reciprock and mutuall dutie betwixt a Free King and his Naturall Subjects. This has neither date nor author’s name, but is placed in the collection of King James VI.’s works. It and his ‘Basilicon doron’ contain many despotic doctrines, in accordance with the extreme notions of the divine right of kings which he entertained, but they are, nevertheless, works of no ordinary merit.

      Opera Latina, edente Ricardo Montacutio. Lond. 1619, fol. The same in English, by Bishop Montacute. London, 1616, fol.

      Learned Decisions, and most prudent and pious Directions for Students in Divinity. 1629, 4to.

      The Psalmes of King David, translated by King James. Oxf. 1631, 12mo. Lond. 1636, fol.

      Counter-blast to Tobacco. To which is added, a learned Discourse by Dr. Everard Maynwaring, proving that Tobacco is a procuring cause of the Scurvy. Lond. 1672, 4to.

      The Prince’s Cabala; or, Mysteries of State. 1715, 8vo.

      The remaining publications of this monarch consist of Speeches, Proclamations, &c. As,

      His Speech in Parliament, March 19, 1603, London, 1604, 4to.

      Speech in the last Session of Parliament; with a discourse of the Manner of the Discovery of the late intended Treason. Lond. 1605, 4to. 1606, 8vo.

      His speech in Parliament, March, 1607, Lond. 4to.

      Speech to both Houses of Parliament. Lond. 1607, 4to.

      His Judgement concerning a Real King and a tyrant, &c. Lond. 1609, 1618.

      Booke of Proclamations. Lond. 1609, fol.

      Publication of his Edict against Private Combats. Lond. 1613, 4to.

      Speech in the Starre Chamber, June 20, 1616. London, 1616, 4to.

      Declaration concerning Lawful sports to be used. Lond. 1618.

      A Speech in parliament, a Proclamation, and a Declaration. Lond. 1621, 4to.

      Vox Regis; or, the difference betwixt a King Ruling by Law, and a Tyrant by his own will; in two Speeches of King James to the Parliament, in 1603 and 1609. Lond. 1681.


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