Check all the Clans that have DNA Projects. If your Clan is not in the list there's a way for it to be listed. Electric Scotland's Classified Directory An amazing collection of unique holiday cottages, castles and apartments, all over Scotland in truly amazing locations.

The Scottish Nation
Melville


MELVILLE, a surname of ancient standing in Scotland, derived from lands of that name in Mid Lothian. Before the middle of the 12th century, a baron of Anglo-Norman lineage, named Male, settled, under David I., on the lands referred to, and called his manor, after himself, Maleville, whence the surname of Melville. Galfrid de Maleville, the first of the family, was vicecomes of Edinburgh castle under Malcolm IV., and justiciary under William the Lion. The family remained in possession of their ancient manor till the reign of Robert II. The original stock then terminating in an heiress, Agnes, she married Sir John Ross of Halkhead, and their descendant was, by James IV., created Lord Ross, in whose family the barony of Melville remained till 1705.

_____

MELVILLE, earl of, a title in the peerage of Scotland, conjoined since 1704 with that of earl of Leven, and conferred, in 1690, on George, fourth Lord Melville, descended from Sir John de Melville of Raith, in Fife, who swore fealty to Edward I. in 1296. Sir John Melville of Raith, the ninth in descent from this baron, was a favourite with James V., by whom he was appointed master-general of the ordnance and captain of the castle of Dunbar. In 1536, and again in 1542, he obtained charters to himself and Helen Napier his wife, of the king’s lands of Murdocairnie in Fife. He early joined the party of the Reformation in Scotland, and after suffering from the animosity of Cardinal Bethune, at length fell a victim to his successor in the primacy, Archbishop Hamilton. In 1550 he was tried for high treason, and executed. Calderwood (Hist. of Kirk of Scotland, p. 262) says, “Johne Melville, laird of Raith in Fife, an aged man, and of great accompt with King James the Fyft, was beheaded for writing a letter to an Englishman, in favour of a captive, his friend, with whome he was keeped as prisoner. Although there was not the least suspicioun of anie fault, yitt lost he his head, becaus he was knowne to be one that unfainedlie favoured the truthe and was a great friend to those that were in the castle of Sanct Andrews, (the conspirators against Cardinal Bethune). The letter, as was alledged, was found in the house of Ormiston. Howsoever it was, the cruel beasts, the bishop of Sanct Andrews and the abbot of Dunfermline, ceased not till his head was strickin frome him. They were not content of his death, till he was forfaulted also and his patrimonie bestowed upon Hamiltoun, the governor’s youngest son.” With a daughter, Janet, married to Sir James Kirkaldy of Grange, knight, he had six sons, five of whom were eminent during the reign of Queen Mary and the regencies which followed her resignation of the crown.

      The eldest son, John Melville of Raith, was restored to his father’s estate by the queen regent about 1553, at the special request of Henry II. of France. He was one of the barons who, in July 1567, subscribed the articles passed in the General Assembly for the support of the Reformed religion and the putting down of popery. The second son, Sir Robert Melville of Murdocairnie, was the first Lord Melville, of whom afterwards. Of Sir James Melville of Hallhill, the third son, an eminent courtier and statesman, a memoir is subsequently given below. William Melville, the fourth son, commendator of Tongland and Kilwinning, was appointed an ordinary lord of session, 14th August 1587, when he took the title of Lord Tongland. Soon after, he was sent by James VI. to the court of Navarre, to see and report upon the princess, as a wife for the king, and returned with a portrait of the lady, and “a good report of her rare qualities.” The marriage, however, did not take place. He was frequently employed as one of the lords commissioners for opening the Scots parliament, and is supposed to have died in the autumn of 1613. He is said, by his brother, in his Memoirs (p. 365), to have been a good scholar, and to have been able to speak perfectly “the Latin, the Dutche, the Flemyn, and the Frenche tongue.” Sir Andrew Melville of Garvock, the fifth son, was master of the household to Queen Mary, and attended her in her last moments at Fotheringay. He was also master of the household to James VI. David Melville of Newmill, the sixth son, was a captain in the army.

      To return to the second son, Sir Robert Melville, first Lord Melville, – he was a very eminent character during the reigns of Mary and James. Having gone abroad in his youth, he was much noticed at the court of France, and obtained an honourable employment under Henry II. IN 1559 he returned to Scotland, and was sent to England with Maitland of Lethington, to solicit the assistance of Queen Elizabeth for the lords of the congregation. In 1562 he was sworn a privy councillor. After the “Chase-about Raid,” in 1665, he was employed by the earl of Moray, one of the principal nobles who opposed Mary’s marriage to Darnley, to intercede for his pardon with the queen. Shortly after he was sent to England as ambassador, and on his return he skilfully unravelled to his mistress the crooked policy of Elizabeth and her ministers. (Melville’s Memoirs.) After the assassination of Darnley he was reappointed ambassador to England, and again after the marriage of Mary to Bothwell.

      When Mary was confined in Lochleven castle, he was sent to her by the earl of Athole and the lairds of Tullibardine and Lethington, her principal councillors, with a ring which she knew to be theirs, advising her to subscribe the resignation of the crown, as it would be held null, being extorted from her by fears of her life. He also conveyed to her a writing from Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, the English ambassador, desiring her to subscribe whatever they required, as what she signed in her captivity could not be held valid, and assuring her of Queen Elizabeth’s protection. This afterwards formed the chief ground of Mary’s ill-founded reliance on her cousin’s promises. On Mary’s escape from Lochleven he joined her at Hamilton, and publicly avowed the restraint under which she had acted in resigning the crown.

      In the civil war which followed the assassination of the regent Moray, he adhered to the queen’s party, and with Kirkaldy of Grange and Maitland of Lethington held out the castle of Edinburgh till its surrender in 1573. He would have shared the fate of Kirkaldy but for the intercession of Killigrew, the English ambassador. During the remainder of the earl of Morton’s regency, he appears to have lived in retirement, and in 1579 the benefit of the pacification of Perth was extended to him.

      In August 1582, he was appointed treasurer-depute, and in October of the same year knighted. In December 1586, he was sent by James Vi., with the master of Gray, to England to entreat Queen Elizabeth for his mother’s life. This duty he performed with fidelity and zeal. According to his brother’s account, “he spak brave and stout language to the consaill of England, sa that the quen herself boisted him of his lyf;” and he would have been afterwards detained prisoner, but for the interest of the master of Gray. (Melville’s Memoirs, p. 357.) In 1589, when James sailed for Norway, to bring over his queen, Sir Robert Melville was made vice-chancellor of the kingdom, and he received the grateful thanks of his majesty, on his return, for the way in which he had managed matters in his absence. On 7th June 1593, he was again sent ambassador to England. On 11th June 1594, he was admitted an extraordinary lord of session, and took his seat on the bench as Lord Murdocairnie. The king’s letter of nomination states that his majesty had “experience of the faithful service done to us at all tymes” by Sir Robert, “and how willing he is to discharge his dewtie therein to our honour and wiell of our realm and lieges thereof.” (Books of Sederunt.) He resigned his office of treasurer-depute in January 1596, in consequence of the appointment of the Octavians, as the eight commissioners of the treasury were called, at which time the king was largely in his debt. In 1597, an act was passed by which his majesty, with advice of the Estates, promised to pay the balance due, and prohibited any diligence being executed at the instance of his creditors against him, until he should be so paid. (Act. Parl. vol. iv. p. 147.) On 26th February 1601, he resigned his seat on the bench in favour of his son, and in 1604 he was appointed one of the commissioners for the projected union between the two kingdoms. He was raised to the peerage by the title of Lord Melville of Monimail, 30th April 1616, and died in 1621, at the advanced age of 94.

      His only son, Robert, second Lord Melville, was a privy councillor to King James, by whom he was knighted, and in February 1601, on the resignation of his father, he was appointed an extraordinary lord of session, by the title of Lord Burntisland. He was removed in February 1626, when an entire change of the extraordinary lords took place. He was also a privy councillor to Charles I., and one of the royal commissioners to open the parliament of Scotland, 18th June 1633. In that assembly he energetically though unsuccessfully, opposed the act for conferring on the king the power of regulating ecclesiastical habits, and addressing the king, then present, he exclaimed aloud, “I have sworn with your father and the whole kingdom to the Confession of Faith, in which the innovations intended by these articles were solemnly abjured.”  He died at Edinburgh, without issue, 9th march 1635, and was succeeded by his cousin, John Melville of Raith, third Lord Melville, whose brother, Thomas Melville, acquired from him the lands of Murdocairnie, and was ancestor of the Melvilles of Murdocairnie.

      The third Lord Melville died in 1643. His elder son George, fourth lord, and first earl of Melville, in consequence of his known liberal principles, found it necessary to retire to the continent on the detection of the Ryehouse plot in 1683, although he had no connexion with that conspiracy. In June 1685, he accompanied the duke of Monmouth when he landed at Lyme from Holland, and on the failure of his attempt to overturn the government of his uncle James VII., Lord Melville again escaped to the continent. His estates were forfeited by act of attainder the same year.

      In 1688 he came over to England with William, prince of Orange, and, immediately after, his forfeiture was rescinded. On 8th April 1690, he was created Earl of Melville, viscount of Kirkcaldy, Lord Raith, Monimail, and Balwearie. The same year he was appointed sole secretary of state for Scotland, and constituted high commissioner to the Scots parliament. As high commissioner also to the parliament which met in September following, he gave the royal assent to the act for abolishing patronage. In 1691 he resigned the office of secretary of state, and was appointed keeper of the privy seal, an office which he held till 1696, when he became president of the council. He died in 1707. By his countess, Catherine, daughter of Alexander, Lord Balgonie, son of the renowned military commander, Alexander Leslie, first earl of Leven, he had three sons and one daughter. His eldest son, Alexander, Lord Raith, a nobleman of considerable talent, was appointed treasurer depute of Scotland in 1689, and died, without issue, before his father in 1698.

      The second son, David, second earl of Melville, succeeded, on the death of his mother in 1713, to the earldom of Leven. (See LEVEN, earl of.) The titles were thenceforth conjoined.

_____

MELVILLE, viscount of, a title in the peerage of the united kingdom, conferred, with the secondary title of baron Dunira, in the county of Perth, December 21st, 1802, on the Right Hon. Henry Dundas, a distinguished statesman, a memoir of whom is given previously. By his first wife, Elizabeth, daughter of David Rennie, Esq., who had purchased Melville Castle, Mid Lothian, which he bestowed, with his daughter, on his son-in-law, he had one son and three daughters. A second marriage was without issue.

      His son, Robert, second Viscount Melville, was born in 1771. He was educated at the High school of Edinburgh, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. One of his school companions at the former was Sir Walter Scott, neither of them being then titled, his friendship with whom was strengthened by their subsequent service together in the Mid Lothian yeomanry. In 1802 he was chosen M.P. for Mid Lothian, for which he was subsequently five times re-elected. The question of his father’s impeachment caused him to take a frequent part in the debates in parliament in 1805 and 1806. On the change of ministry in March 1807, when the duke of Portland became premier, Mr. Dundas entered office as president of the board of control, and was sworn a member of the privy council. In 1809, when Sir Arthur Wellesley, afterwards the duke of Wellington, was called from the Irish chief secretaryship to take the command of the British armies in Spain, Mr. Dundas was appointed his successor, and was enrolled in the privy council of Ireland. In January 1810, soon after the formation of Mr. Spencer Percival’s administration, he returned to the presidency of the board of control.

      The sudden death of his father, on 29th May 1811, gave him a place in the house of peers. The same year he was appointed keeper of the privy seal of Scotland, a sinecure office which expired with him. On the formation of a new ministry, having the earl of Liverpool at its head, in the summer of 1812, the office of first lord of the admiralty, with a seat in the cabinet, was assigned to Viscount Melville, and he continued at the head of that department for fifteen years. In 1814 he was elected chancellor of the university of St. Andrews. Nominated in 1821 one of the four extra knights of the Thistle, on the enlargement of the order in 1827 he was enrolled one of the ordinary knights. On the accession of Mr. Canning to power in the latter year, his lordship retired from office, declining a seat in the cabinet. When the duke of Wellington formed his administration in January 1828, Viscount Melville resumed his place at the head of the admiralty. With the dissolution of the Wellington ministry in November 1830, his lordship’s official career terminated. He was a member of the royal commission of 1826-30 for the visitation of the Scottish universities; in 1843-4, of the royal commission for inquiry into the operation of the poor-law in Scotland, and in 1847, of the prison board for Scotland. He was also keeper of the signet, a deputy-lieutenant of the counties of Edinburgh and Linlithgow, one of the commissioners of the board of trustees for manufactures in Scotland, one of the commissioners for the custody of the Scottish regalia, a lieutenant-general of the royal company of archers in Scotland, an elder brother of the Trinity house, governor of the Bank of Scotland, &c. He died at Melville castle, Mid Lothian, 10th June, 1851, in his 80th year.

      His lordship married, in August 1796, Anne, daughter and co-heiress of Richard Huck Saunders, M.D., grand-niece of Admiral Sir Charles Saunders, K.B. on his marriage he assumed the name of Saunders before his own. He had four sons and two daughters.

      The eldest son, Henry, third Viscount Melville, born in 1801, entered the army in 1819, and became a major-general in 1854. He commanded the 83d foot during the insurrection in Upper Canada in 1837-8, and was for a short time aide-de-camp to the queen. At the battle of Gujerat in India, he commanded a brigade, and for his services he received the order of the Bath and the thanks of parliament and of the East India Company. In 1853 he was appointed to command the Sirhind division of the Indian army, and from 1854 to 1860 was commander-in-chief of the forces in Scotland; colonel of 100th regiment of foot; unmarried.

      The 2d son, Vice-admiral the Hon. Richard Saunders Dundas, C.B., succeeded Admiral Sir Charles Napier in the command of the Baltic fleet, in the war with Russia, in 1855; and commanded at the bombardment of Sweaborg, Aug. 9 of that year. Born June 11, 1802, he entered the navy June 15, 1817, as a volunteer on board the Ganymede, 26 guns, and remained midshipman of that ship and of the Owen Glendower until Dec. 1820, on the Mediterranean and South American stations. He became lieutenant 18th June, 1821, and post-captain 17th July 1824. In the Melville, 72, he took part in the campaign in China. During this service he received the warm thanks of Sir Gordon Bremer for his conduct at the capture of Ty-cock-tow, as well as that of the forts of the Bocca Tigris. In 1828-29-30 he was private secretary to his father, then first lord of the admiralty. In 1845 he held the same office under the earl of Haddington, the first lord of that period. In 1841 the military companionship of the Bath was conferred upon him for his services in China. In 1851 he was appointed superintendent of Deptford Dockyard. Rear-admiral of the blue 1853; rear-admiral of the white 1855; in 1858 he became vice-admiral of the blue; one of the lords of the admiralty from 1852-1855. He died suddenly, June 3, 1861. The 3d son, the Hon. Robert Dundas, born in 1803, storekeeper-general of the navy. The 4th son, the Hon. and Rev. Charles Dundas, rector of Epworth, born Sept. 10, 1806, married, in 1833, Louisa Maria, daughter of Sir William Boothby, issue, 3 sons and 7 daughters.

MELVILLE, SIR JAMES, an eminent courtier, son of Sir John Melville of Raith, was born in Fifeshire about 1535. At the age of 14 he was sent to Paris by the queen-mother, under the protection of the French ambassador, to be a page of honour to the youthful Mary, queen of Scots, then the consort of the dauphin of France. In May 1553, by the permission of his royal mistress, he entered the ser ice of the constable of France, and was present at the siege of St. Quentin, where the constable was wounded and taken prisoner, and he seems to have attended him in his captivity. After the peace he visited his native country in 1559, on a sort of secret mission, to ascertain the state of parties in Scotland. He afterwards travelled on the continent, and remained three years at the court of the elector palatine, who employed him in various negotiations with the German princes. In May 1564 he returned to Scotland, having been recalled by Mary, by whom he was appointed gentleman of the bedchamber, and nominated one of her privy councillors. Soon after he was sent on an embassy to Elizabeth, relative to Mary’s proposed marriage with Darnley, and in June 1566, he was again dispatched to the English court with the intelligence of the birth of the prince, afterwards James VI. He maintained a correspondence in England in favour of Mary’s succession to the crown of that kingdom; but venturing to remonstrate with her on her unhappy partiality for Bothwell, the queen communicated his admonitions to the latter, and the faithful Melville was, in consequence, obliged for some time to retire from court. He was, however, present at the ill-starred nuptials of Mary to that nobleman, and he continued her confidential servant as long as she remained in Scotland. He appears to have had a high idea of his own importance, and occasionally in his Memoirs blames himself for the unfortunate propensity, which he says he possessed, of finding fault with the proceedings of the great.

      By James VI., to whom he was recommended by his unfortunate mother, and who continued him in his offices of privy councillor and gentleman of the bedchamber to his queen, Anne of Denmark, he was intrusted with various honourable employments. On the accession of King James to the English throne, he declined to accompany him to England, but afterwards paid his majesty a visit of duty, when he was graciously received. On account of his age he retired from the public service, and occupied his remaining years in writing the ‘Memoirs’ of his life for the use of his son. He died November 1, 1607. His manuscript, accidentally found in the castle of Edinburgh in 1660, and which affords minute and curious descriptions of the manners of the times, was published in 1683, by Mr. George Scott, under the title of ‘Memoirs of Sir James Melvil of Hallhill, containing an impartial Account of the most remarkable Affairs of State during the last Age, not mentioned by other Historians;’ republished in 1735. He had acquired the estate of Hallhill, in the parish of Collessie, Fifeshire, from the celebrated Henry Balnaves. It remained the property of his descendants till the reign of Charles II., when it was purchased by Lord Melville.

MELVILLE, ANDREW, one of the most illustrious of the Scottish Reformers, whose name is second only to that of John Knox, was the youngest of nine sons of Richard Melville of Baldovy, near Montrose, where he was born August 1, 1545. His father lost his life in the battle of Pinkie, when Andrew was only two years old, and his mother dying soon after, he was brought up under the care of his eldest brother, afterwards minister of Maryton, who, at a proper age, sent him to the grammar school of Montrose. Having acquired there a thorough knowledge of the classics, he was, in 1559, removed to the university of St. Andrews, where his great proficiency, especially in the Greek language, excited the astonishment of his teachers. On completing the usual academical course he left college with the character of being “the best philosopher, poet, and Grecian, of any young master in the land.” In 1564 he went to France, and remained for two years at the university of Paris. He next proceeded to Poictiers, for the purpose of studying the civil law, and was elected regent or professor in the college of St. Marceon. After continuing there for three years, he repaired to Geneva on foot, carrying only a Hebrew Bible at his belt, and the fame of his great attainments having preceded him, by the influence of Beza he obtained the humanity chair in the academy, at that time vacant.

      In July 1574 he returned to Scotland, after an absence of ten years. Beza, in his letter to the General Assembly, wrote that the greatest token of affection the kirk of Geneva could show to Scotland was that they had suffered themselves to be spoiled of Mr. Andrew Melville, that thereby the kirk of Scotland might be enriched. On his arrival in Edinburgh, he was invited by the Regent Morton to enter his family as a domestic tutor, but he preferred an academic life to a residence at court, and declined the invitation. shortly afterwards he was appointed by the General Assembly principal of the university of Glasgow, which, under his charge, from the improved plan of study and discipline introduced by him, speedily acquired a high reputation as a seat of learning. Besides his duties in the university, he officiated as minister of the church of Govan, in the vicinity. As a member of the General Assembly, he took a prominent part in all the measures of that body against episcopacy; and as he was unflinching in his opposition to that form of church government, he received the name of “Episcopomastix,” or ‘The Scourge of Bishops.’ A remarkable instance of his intrepidity occurred at an interview, which took place in October 1577, between him and the Regent Morton, when the latter, irritated at the proceedings of the Assembly, exclaimed, “There will never be quietness in this country till half a dozen of you be hanged or banished!” “Hark! Sir,” said Melville, “threaten your courtiers after that manner! It is the same to me whether I rot in the air, or in the ground. The earth is the Lord’s. Patria est ubicunque est bene. I have been ready to give up my life where it would not have been half so well wared, at the pleasure of my God. I have lived out of your country ten years, as well as in it. Let God be glorified, it will not be in your power to hang or exile his truth.” This bold language Morton did not venture to resent.

      Melville was moderator of the General Assembly which met at Edinburgh 24th April 1578, in which the second Book of Discipline was approved of. The attention of the Assembly was about this time directed to the reformation and improvement of the universities, and Melville was, in December 1580, removed frm Glasgow, and installed principal of St. Mary’s college, St. Andrews. Here, besides giving lectures in Divinity, he taught the Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Rabbinical languages, and his prelections were attended, not only by young students in unusual numbers, but also by some of the masters of the other colleges. He was moderator of the Assembly which met at St. Andrews 24th April 1582, and also of an extraordinary meeting of the Assembly, convened at Edinburgh 27th June thereafter, in consequence of the arbitrary measures of the court, in relation particularly to the case of Robert Montgomery, the excommunicated archbishop of Glasgow. He opened the proceedings with a sermon, in which he boldly inveighed against the absolute authority claimed by the government in ecclesiastical matters. A spirited remonstrance being agreed to by the Assembly, Melville and others were appointed to present it to the king, then with the court at Perth. When the remonstrance was read before his majesty in council, the king’s unworthy favourite, the earl of Arran, menacingly exclaimed, “Who dare subscribe these treasonable articles?” “We dare,” said the undaunted Melville, and taking a pen, immediately signed his name. His example was followed by the other commissioners, and so much were Lennox and Arran overawed by their intrepidity, that they dismissed them peaceably.

      For about three years Melville had preached, assisted by his nephew, in the parish church of St. Andrews. In February 1584 he was cited before the privy council, to answer a charge of treason, founded on some seditious expressions, which it was alleged he had made use of in a sermon on the 4th chapter of Daniel, on the occasion of a fast kept during the preceding month; particularly that he had compared the king’s mother to Nebuchadnezzar, who was banished from the kingdom, and would be restored again. At his appearance, he denied using these words, entered into a full defence of those he had actually used, and presented a protest and declinature, claiming to be tried by the ecclesiastical court. When brought before the king and council, he boldly told them that they had exceeded their jurisdiction in judging of the doctrine, or calling to account any of the ambassadors or messengers of a king and council greater then they, and far above them. Then loosing a little Hebrew bible from his belt, and throwing it on the table before them, he said, “That you may see your weakness, oversight, and rashness, in taking upon you that which neither you ought nor can do, there are my instructions and warrant. Let me see which of you can judge of them or control me therein, that I have passed by my injunctions.” Arran, finding the book in Hebrew, put it into the king’s hands, saying, “Sir, he scorns your majesty and council.” “No, my lord,” replied Melville, “I scorn not, but with all earnestness, zeal, and gravity, I stand for the cause of Jesus Christ and his church.” Not being able to prove the charge against him, and unwilling to let him go, the council declared him guilty of declining their jurisdiction, and of behaving irreverently before them, and sentenced him to be imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, and to be further punished in his person and goods at the pleasure of the king. Before, however, being charged to enter himself in ward, his place of confinement was ordered to be changed to Blackness castle, which was kept by a dependant of Arran. While at dinner the king’s macer was admitted and gave him the charge to enter within 24 hours; but he avoided being sent there by secretly withdrawing from Edinburgh. After staying some time at Berwick, he proceeded to London, and in the ensuing July visited the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, at both of which he was received in a manner becoming his learning and reputation.

      On the disgrace of the earl of Arran, Melville returned to Scotland with the banished lords, in November 1585. Having assisted in re-organizing the college of Glasgow, he resumed, in the following march, his duties at St. Andrews. The synod of Fife, which met in April, proceeded to excommunicate Adamson, archbishop of St. Andrews, for his attempts to overturn the presbyterian form of government in the church; and, in return, that prelate issued a sentence of excommunication against Melville, and his nephew, James Melville, with others of their brethren. In consequence of this difference with the archbishop, Melville received a written mandate from the king to confine his residence to the north of the Tay, and he was not restored to his office in the university till the following August. Some time after, when Adamson had been deprived of his archbishopric, and was reduced to great poverty, finding himself deserted by the king, he addressed a letter to his former antagonist, Melville, expressing regret for his past conduct, and soliciting his assistance Melville hastened to visit h im, and not only procured contributions for his relief among his friends, but continued for several months to support him from his own resources.

      In June 1587, Melville was again elected moderator of the Assembly, and nominated one of the commissioners for attending to the proceedings in parliament. He was present at the coronation of the queen, May 17, 1590, and recited a Latin poem composed for the occasion, which was immediately published at the desire of the king. In the same year he was elected rector of the university of St. Andrews an office which, for a series of years, he continued to hold by re-election. In May 1594 he was again elected moderator of the Assembly. Shortly after, he appeared on behalf of the church before the lords of the articles, and urged the forfeiture of the popish lords, and along with his nephew and two other ministers, he accompanied the king, at his express request, on his expedition against them. In the following year, when it was proposed to recall the popish nobles from exile, he went with some other ministers to the convention of estates at St. Andrews, to remonstrate against the design, but was ordered by the king to withdraw, which he did, after a most resolute reply. The commission of the Assembly having met at Cupar in Fife, they sent Melville and some other members to expostulate with the king. Being admitted to a private audience, James Melville began to address his majesty with great mildness and respect; but the king becoming impatient, charged them with sedition, on which Andrew took him by the sleeve, and calling him “God’s silly vassal,” said, “This is not a time to flatter, but to speak plainly, for our commission is from the living God, to whom the king is subject. We will always humbly reverence your majesty in public, but having opportunity of being with your majesty in private, we must discharge our duty, or else be enemies to Christ; And now, Sire, I must tell you that there are two kingdoms – the kingdom of Christ, which is the church, whose subject King James VI. is, and of whose kingdom he is not a head nor a lord, but a member; and they whom Christ hath called, and commanded to watch over his church, and govern his spiritual kingdom, have sufficient power and authority from him so to do, which no Christian king nor prince should control or discharge, but assist and support, otherwise they are not faithful subjects to Christ.” The king listened patiently to this bold admonition, and dismissed them with many fair promises which he never intended to fulfil. For several years following King James made repeated attempts to control the church, according to his own arbitrary notions, but he invariably encountered a strenuous opponent in Andrew Melville; and he had recourse at last to one of those stratagems which he thought the very essence of “king-craft,” to secure the removal of this champion of presbyterianism from Scotland altogether. In May 1606, Melville, with his nephew, and six of their brethren, were called to London by a letter from the king, on the specious pretext that his majesty wished to consult them as to the affairs of the church. Soon after their arrival they attended the famous conference held September 23, in presence of the king at Hampton Court, at which Melville spoke at great length, and with a boldness which astonished the English nobility and clergy. On St. Michael’s day, Melville and his brethren were commanded to attend the royal chapel, when, scandalized at the popish character of the service, on his return to his lodging he vented his indignation in a Latin epigram,* for which, a copy having been conveyed to the king, he was brought before the council at Whitehall. Being by them found guilty of “scandalum magnatum,” he was committed first to the custody of the dean of St. Paul’s, and afterwards to the charge of the bishop of Winchester; but was ultimately sent to the Tower, where he remained a prisoner for four years.

      At first he was treated with the utmost rigour, and denied even the use of pen, ink, and paper; but his spirit remained unsubdued, and he beguiled his solitary hours by composing Latin verses, which, with the tongue of his shoe buckle, he engraved on his prison walls. By the interference of some friends at court, his confinement was, after the lapse of nearly ten months, rendered less severe. About the end of 1607 the protestants of Rochelle endeavoured to obtain his services as professor of divinity in their college, but the king would not consent to his liberation. At length, in February 1611, at the intercession of the duke of Bouillon, he was released from confinement, on condition of his becoming professor of theology in the protestant university of Sedan, in France, where he spent the remainder of his life, and died there in 1622, at the advanced age of 77.

      *The following is the epigram:

      Cur stant clausi Anglis libri duo regia in ara,
      Lumina caeca duo, pollubra sicca duo?
      Num sensum cultumque Dei tenet Anglia clausum,
      Lumine caeca suo, sorde sepulta sus?
      Romano an ritu, dum regalem instruit aram,
      Purpuream pingit religiosa lupam?

Thus rendered in an old translation:

      Why stand there on the altar high
      Two closed books, blind lights, two basins dry?
      Doth England hold God’s mind and worship close,
      Blind of her sight, and buried in her dross?
      Doth she, with chapel put in Romish dress,
      The purple whore religiously express?

And for this Melville was sent to the Tower!

      His biographer, Dr. M’Crie, says that Andrew Melville “was the first Scotsman who added a taste for elegant literature to an extensive acquaintance with theology.” Although he sustained a conspicuous part in all the important public transactions of his time, he neither was nor affected to be the leader of a party. In private he was an agreeable companion, remarkable for his cheerfulness and kindliness of disposition. He was never married. Beyond the statement that he was of low stature there is no description of his personal appearance extant, nor is there any known portrait of him.

      The greater part of his writings consists of Latin poems. Dr. M’Crie whose Life of Andrew Melville was published in 1824, in 2 vols. 8vo, has given the names of all his works, printed and left in manuscript, and there is none of any great extent among them. The subjoined list has been made up from his account.

      Carmen Mosis, – Andrea Melvino Scoto Avetore. Basileae. 1573, 8vo. This, his earliest publication, consisted of a poetical paraphrase of the Song of Moses, and a chapter of the Book of Job, with several small poems, all in Latin.

      STEFANISKION. Ad Scotiae Regem, habitum in Coronatione Reginae. Edinburgh, 1590, 4to.

      Carmina ex Doctissimis PoŽtis Selecta, inter quos, quaedam Geo. Buchanani et And. Melvini inseruntur. 1590. 8co.

      Principis Scoti-Britannorum Natalia. Edinburgi. 1594, 4to.

      Theses Theologicae de libero arbitrio. Edinburgi, 1597, 4to. These, Dr. M’Crie thinks, might be the Theses of some of his students.

      Schlastica Diatriba de Rebus Divinis ad Anquirendam et inveniendam veritatem, ŗ candidatis S. Theol. habenda (Deo volente) ad d. xxvi. et xxvii. Julij in Scholis Theologicis Acad. Andreannae, Spiritu Sancto Praeside. D. And. Melvino S. Theol. D. et illius facultatis Decano svxntnsig moderante. Edinburgi. Execudebat Robertus Waldegraue Typographus Regius 1599. 4to. pp. 16

      Gathelus, seu Fragmentum de origine Gentis Scotorum. This poem was first printed along with ‘Jonstoni Inscriptiones Historicae Regum Scotorum.’ Amestel. 1602.

      Pro supplici Evangelicorum Ministrorum in Anglia – Apologia, sive Anti-Tami-Cami-Categoria. 1604. A petition had been presented to the king by the English Puritans, commonly called, from the number of names attached ti it, the millenary petition, for redress of their grievances, which was opposed by the universities of Cambridge and Oxford. This satirical poem, attacking the resolutions of the universities, was written by Melville, in defence of the petitioners, and circulated extensively in England.

      Select Psalms turned into Latin verse, and printed (probably at London while he was in the Tower) in 1609.

      Nescimus Quid Vesper Serus Vehat. Satyra Menippaea Vincentii Liberii Holandii. 1619. 4to. Another edition 1620. Ascribed to Melville.

      Viri Clarissimi A. Melvini Musae et P. Adamsoni Vita et Palinodia et Celsae commissionis – descriptio. 1620, 4to, pp. 67. John Adamson, afterwards principal of the college of Edinburgh, was employed in collecting Melville’s fugitive poems, but it is uncertain whether he or Calderwood was the publisher of the Musae. Melville himself was not consulted in the publication of them, nor was he, says Dr. M’Crie, the author, as has often been inaccurately stated, of the tracts added to them.

      De Adiaphoris. Scoti tou  tucoutos Apholismi. Anno Domini 1622. 12mo. pp. 20.

      Andreae Melvini Scotiae Topographia. This poem is prefixed to the Theatrum Scotiae in Bleau’s Atlas.

      Melville contributed largely to a collection of poems, by Scotchmen and Zealanders, ‘In Obitum Johannis Wallasii Scoto Belgae. Ludg.Batav. 1603' 4to. There are two poems by him in John Johnston’s ‘Sidera Veteris ∆vi,’ p. 33. Salmurii, 1611. He has also verses prefixed to ‘Comment. in Apost. Acta M. Joannis Malcolmi Scoti. – Middleb.’ 1615.

      Among his works in MS. Dr. M’Crie enumerates the following:

      D. Andreae Melvini epistolae Londino e turri carceris ad Jacobum Melvinum Nouocastri exulantem scriptae, cum ejusdem Jacobi nonnullis ad eundem. Ammin supra millesimŁ sexcentessimo octavo, nono, decimo, undecimo. Item Ecclesiae Scoticanae Oratio Apologetica ad Regem An. 1610, mense Aprilis. This volume is in the library of the university of Edinburgh. It brings down the correspondence between Melville and his nephew, Mr. James Melville, till the end of the year 1613.

      Six Letters from Andrew Melville to Robert Dury at Leyden. In Bibl. Jurid. Edin. M. 6. 9. num. 42.

      Fioretum Archiepiscopale; id est, errores Pontificii, assertiones temerariae, et hyperbolicae interpretationes. Ibid. num. 47. They are extracted from Archbishop Adamson’s academical prelections at St. Andrews, in Melville’s handwriting, and subscribed by him.

      Paraphrasis Epistolae ad Hebraeos Andreae Melvini (Harl. MSS. num. 6947-9); a metrical paraphrase of the epistle to the Hebrews.

      A. Melvinus in cap. 4 Danielis. In bibl. Col. S. Trinit. Dublin.

      There are verses by him, in his own handwriting, among the Sempill papers, and in a collection of Letters from Learned Men to James VI. His biographer says that copies of Melville’s large ‘Answer to Downham’s Sermon’ were at one time not uncommon. Four letters from Melville to David Hume of Godscroft are prefixed to the ‘Lusus Poetici’ of the latter.

      The manuscript of ‘Commentarius in Divinam Pauli Epistolam ad Romanos, auctore Andrea Melvino Scoto,’ in possession of Mr. David Laing, Librarian to the Writers to the Signet, was published for the first time, with an English translation, in one of the volumes issued by the Wodrow Society, under the editorial care of the Rev. David Dickson, D.D., minister of St. Cuthbert’s, Edinburgh.

MELVILLE, JAMES, an eminent divine and scholar, nephew of the preceding, was the son of Richard Melville of Baldovy, minister of Maryton, Forfarshire, by his spouse, Isabel Scrimgeour, and was born July 25, 1556. After receiving his school education at Logie and Montrose, he was, in November 1571, sent to St. Leonard’s college, St. Andrews, where he studied for four years. It is recorded of him that, first when he attended the lectures, which were delivered in Latin, he was so mortified at not being able to understand them, that he burst into tears before the whole class; which induced his regent, or professor, William Collace, to give h im private instructions in the Latin language. His father intended him for the law, but James had a strong predilection for the church, and as a practical intimation of his desires, he composed a sermon, and placed it carefully in one of the Commentaries which his father was in the habit of consulting. The stratagem succeeded; and on the arrival of his uncle, Mr. Andrew Melville, from the continent, he was put under his charge, when he revised, under his directions, both his classical and philosophical education. He accompanied his uncle to Glasgow, in October 1574, on his becoming principal of that university, and in the following year James Melville was elected one of the regents, as the professors were then called. He was the first regent in Scotland who read the Greek authors to his class in the original language. In 1577 he was appointed teacher of mathematics, logic, and moral philosophy, at Glasgow; and while he continued in this capacity, having strictly admonished the afterwards celebrated Mark Alexander Boyd for his irregularities, he was assaulted by him and his cousin, Alexander Cunninghame, a relation of the earl of Glencairn, for which Cunninghame was obliged, bareheaded and barefooted, to crave pardon publicly.

      When Andrew Melville was translated to the New college of St. Andrews in December 1580, he took along with him his nephew, who was admitted professor of the oriental languages there. He also divided with his uncle the duty of preaching in the town during the vacancy in the parish church. Amid all the difficulties which Andrew Melville had to encounter, he found an able and useful coadjutor in his nephew, upon whom, when the former, in 1584, fled to England, the management of the affairs of the college chiefly devolved. He taught theology from his uncle’s chair, besides continuing his own lectures, and undertaking the management of the revenues of the college and the board of the students. In May of that year, after the parliament had decreed the overthrow of the presbyterian form of church government, Archbishop Adamson of St. Andrews obtained a warrant for James Melville’s apprehension, for corresponding with his uncle, of which being apprised in time, he escaped to Dundee, whence he proceeded, in the disguise of a shipwrecked seaman, in an open boat to Berwick. He was soon after joined by his wife, who was a daughter of John Dury, minister of Edinburgh. Being invited by the earls of Angus and Mar, then in exile at Newcastle, to go and preach to them, he at first refused, because, as he says himself, he was not entered in the ministry, neither was he of any experience of knowledge in their matters, being but a young man brought up in the schools, and therefore had resolved to keep his own calling. The truth was, however, that he was afraid to have anything to do with them, being the king’s rebels, and not knowing their cause well and disposition of heart. (Diary, p. 120). On reaching Newcastle, on his way to London, he was persuaded to remain, and accordingly entered on his ministerial labours. While with the banished lords he drew up a letter and order of discipline for their guidance, and at their request an account of the abuses and corruption of the kirk and commonweal of Scotland; also a letter to the ministers in Scotland who had subscribed to the supremacy of the king and the bishops, all of which will be found in Calderwood (vol. iv.) In February 1585, on the exiled lords proceeding to London, he returned to Berwick, where he had left his wife, who had there borne a son, and soon after followed the former to the capital. After the taking of the castle of Stirling, he returned, in the ensuing November, to Scotland, and in March 1586, resumed the duties of his professorship at St. Andrews, when he occupied himself in setting the college affairs in order.

      James Melville’s zeal in behalf of the church, though less impetuous than that of his uncle, was equally uniform and consistent; and he could, when occasion required, evince similar intrepidity. In the beginning of April 1586, he preached the opening sermon at the meeting of the synod of Fife, in the course of which, turning towards Archbishop Adamson, who was present, he charged him with attempting the overthrow of the presbyterian church, and exhorted the brethren to cut off so corrupt a member from among them. The archbishop was in consequence excommunicated, but he retaliated by excommunicating both Andrew and James Melville, and other obnoxious ministers, in return. For their share in this transaction, uncle and nephew were summoned before the king, who commanded the former to confine himself beyond the Tay, and the latter to remain within his college.

      In July 1586, James Melville became, at the solicitation of the people, minister of Anstruther, to which were conjoined the adjoining parishes of Pittenweem, Abercrombie, and Kilrenny. Having some time after succeeded in procuring a disjunction of these parishes, and provided a minister for each of them, he undertook the charge of Kilrenny alone, where, besides building a manse, he purchased the right to the vicarage and tithe-fish, for the support of himself and his successors, and paid the salary of a schoolmaster. He likewise maintained an assistant to perform the duties of the parish, as he was frequently engaged in the public affairs of the church. Some years afterwards he printed for the use of his people a catechism, which cost him five hundred merks.

      In 1588 he was the means of affording shelter and relief to a number of distressed Spaniards who had belonged to the Armada destined for the invasion of England, but whose division of the squadron, after being driven to the northward, had been wrecked on the Fair Isle, where they had suffered the extremities of hunger and fatigue, and had at last taken refuge off the harbour of Anstruther.

      At the opening of the General Assembly at Edinburgh, in August 1590, he preached a sermon from 1 Thess. v. 12, 13. in which, after insisting on the necessity of maintaining the strictest discipline, he exhorted his hearers to a more zealous support of the presbyterian establishment, and recommended a supplication to the king for a full and free assembly.

      In the spring of 1594 he was unjustly suspected at court of having furnished the turbulent earl of Bothwell with money collected for the protestants of Geneva, and at the meeting of the Assembly in May of that year, some of the brethren thought that as he was a suspected person he should not be sent as one of the commissioners from the church to the king as usual; on which he stood up and said that he had often been employed on commissions against his will, but now, even for the reason alleged, he would request it as a benefit from the brethren that his name should be on the list, that he might have an opportunity of clearing himself, and if they declined sending him, he was determined to go to court himself, to see if any one had aught to say against him. He was accordingly included among the commissioners. On their arrival at Stirling, where the king was, they were most graciously received. After they had executed their business with the king, James Melville stepped forward and requested to be informed if his majesty had anything to lay to his charge? The king replied that he had nothing to say against him more than against the rest, except that he found his name on every commission. He answered that he thanked God that this was the case, for therein he was serving god, his kirk, and the king publicly, and as for any private, unlawful, or undutiful practice, if there were any that had traduced him to his majesty as being guilty of such, he requested that they should be made to show their faces when he was there to answer for himself. But no reply was made. After this the king took him into his cabinet, and having dismissed his attendants, conversed with him alone on a variety of topics with the greatest affability and familiarity. He sent his special commendations to his uncle, Mr. Andrew Melville, and declared that he looked upon both of them as faithful and trusty subjects. “So,” says James Melville, “of the strange working of God, I that came to Stirling the traitor, returned to Edinburgh a great courtier, yea, a cabinet councillor.” (Diary, p. 212.)

      With his uncle and two other ministers he accompanied the king, in October 1594, in his expedition to the north, against the popish lords, and when the royal forces were about to disperse, for want of pay, James Melville was sent to Edinburgh and other principal towns, with letters from the king and the ministers, to raise contributions for their aid. In this service he was successful. For ten years subsequently, the life of James Melville was principally distinguished by his zealous and unwearied opposition to the designs of the court for the re-establishment of episcopacy, which he early had the discernment to detect.

      He went with his uncle to London in September 1606, when, with six other ministers, they were invited thither to confer with the king, as was the pretext, as to the measures best calculated to promote the tranquility of the church. After the committal of Andrew Melville to the tower, (see above) James was ordered to leave London in six days and confine himself to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and ten miles round it. Previous to his departure he made an unsuccessful attempt to obtain some relaxation of his uncle’s confinement. He left London 2d July 1607, and went by sea to Newcastle, and during his residence in that town several attempts were made to gain him over to the support of the king’s views; but neither promises nor threats could shake his attachment to presbyterianism. He even rejected a bishopric, which was offered to him by Sir William, or, as Dr. M’Crie calls him, Sir John Anstruther, in the name of the king. Having been a widower for about two years, he took for his second wife, while in exile at Newcastle, the daughter of the vicar of Berwick. He was afterwards ordered to remove to Carlisle, and subsequently to Berwick, where he wrote his ‘Apology for the Church of Scotland,’ which was not published till thirty-one years after his death, under the title of ‘Ecclesiae Scoticanae libellus supplex Apologeticus.’

      Although many efforts were made for his release, it was not till 1614 that he obtained leave to return to Scotland, but he had not proceeded far on his way home when he was taken suddenly ill, and he was with difficulty conveyed back to Berwick, where he died the same year.

      His works, a list of which is given in one of the notes to Dr. M’Crie’s Life of Andrew Melville, may be mentioned as follows:

      In 1592, as he says himself, he “first put in print sum of his poesie; to wit, the Description of the Spainyarts Naturall, out of Julius Scaliger, with sum Exhortationes for warning of kirk and countrey.”

      His Catechism was published under the title of “A Spirituall Propine of a Pastour to his People. Heb. 5. 12.” Edinburgh, 1598, 4to. Pp. 127.

      A poem, called ‘The Black Bastill, or a Lamentation of the Kirk of Scotland, compiled by Mr. James Melville, sometime minister at Anstruther, and now confyned in England,’ was printed in 1611.

      His ‘Diary,’ printed for the Bannatyne Club in 1829, one vol. 4to, contains much curious information relative to the ecclesiastical and literary history of Scotland between the years 1555 and 1600. The MS. is preserved in the Advocates’ Library. New and improved edition, published by the Wodrow Society, with Supplement, &c.

      A MS. volume in the Advocates’ Library, deposited by the Rev. William Blackie, minister of Yetholm, contains poems in the Scottish language by James Melville, in the handwriting of the author. They appear, says Dr. M’Crie, to have been all written during his banishment. The greater part of them are expressive of his feelings on the overthrow of the liberties of the church of Scotland, and the imprisonment and banishment of his uncle.

      Dr. M’Crie thinks that another MS. in the same library, entitled ‘History of the Declining Age of the Church of Scotland,’ bringing down the history of that period till 1610, was also composed by James Melville.

      The letters which passed between Andrew Melville and his nephew, from 1608 to 1613, as stated in the account of the MSS. of the former, are preserved in the Library of the College of Edinburgh.

MELVILLE, ROBERT, an eminent military officer and antiquarian, was the son of the minister of the parish of Monimail, Fifeshire, where he was born October 12, 1723. In 1744 he entered the army, and served in Flanders till the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle, in 1748. IN 1756 he obtained the rank of major in the 38th regiment, then in Antigua, and soon after he was employed in active service, particularly in the invasion of Guadaloupe, for which he was created lieutenant-colonel; and in 1760 was appointed governor of that island. Shortly after, he proceeded as second in command with Lord Rollo to the capture of Dominica. In 1762 he contributed much to the taking of Martinico, which was followed by the surrender of the other French islands; and Colonel Melville, now promoted to the rank of brigadier-general, was made governor-in-chief of all the captured possessions in the West Indies. After the general peace he travelled over Europe, and made numerous observations to ascertain the passage of Hannibal over the Alps. He also traced the sites of many Roman camps in Britain, and applied his antiquarian knowledge to the improvement of the modern art of war in several inventions. He was a fellow of the royal and antiquarian societies, and had the degree of LL.D. conferred on him by the university of Edinburgh. A treatise of his, ‘On an Ancient Sword,’ is inserted in the 7th volume of the Archaeologia. In 1798 he was appointed a full general, and died unmarried, in 1809.


Return to The Scottish Nation Index Page

Search