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Spottiswood


SPOTTISWOOD, a local surname, assumed from the lands and barony of that name in Berwickshire. The family of Spottiswoode are descended from Robert Spottiswood, lord of Spottiswood, who was born in the reign of Alexander III., and died in that of Robert the Bruce. His son, John Spottiswood of Spottiswood, was witness, in the reign of David II., to a charter of Alexander Lindsay of Ormiston. He had a son, Robert Spottiswood of Spottiswood, who married a daughter of the ancient family of Leighton of Ulyshaven or Usan, Forfarshire, and was father of Henry Spottiswood of that ilk. The latter died in the end of the reign of James II. His son, James Spottiswood of Spottiswood, was forfeited for his adherence to James III. He was, however, restored to his estate by James IV. This baron’s son, William Spottiswood, fell at Flodden, in September 1513. By his wife, Elizabeth, daughter of Henry Hop-Pringle of Torsonce, he had, with two younger children, two sons, David, his successor, who died toward the end of the reign of James V.; and John, superintendent of Lothian, a memoir of whom is given below in larger type. The latter married Beatrix, daughter of Patrick Crighton of Lugton and Gilmerton, and had, with one daughter, two sons, John, archbishop of St. Andrews, who carried on the line of the family, and James, appointed bishop of Clogher in Ireland in 1621, who dying in London in 1644, was buried in Westminster Abbey. The descendants of his son, Sir Henry Spottiswood, still continue in Ireland.

David Spottiswood of Spottiswood left an only son, Ninian Spottiswood of Spottiswood, who was served heir to his father in 1550; and left two sons. William, his successor, died unmarried in 1594. John succeeded his brother, and died soon after, without issue.

The representation of the family devolved on his cousin, John Spottiswood, archbishop of St. Andrews. This eminent prelate sold, in 1620, the estate of Spottiswood to a family of the name of Bell. He married Rachel, a daughter of David Lindsay, D.D., bishop of Ross, and with a daughter, Anne, wife of William Sinclair of Roslin, had two sons, Sir John, and Sir Robert. The elder son succeeded to the estate of Dairsie, Fifeshire, which had been purchased by his father, and was one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber to James VI. His only son, Mr. John Spottiswood, was a faithful adherent of Charles I., and having joined the marquis of Montrose, was taken prisoner with him, tried, condemned, and executed for high treason in 1650. Of Sir Robert, the second son, president of the court of session and secretary of state for Scotland, beheaded 16th January 1646. By his wife, Bethia, eldest daughter of Sir Alexander Morrison of Prestongrange, a lord of session, Sir Robert had, with three daughters, three sons. 1. John, who died, unmarried, before the Restoration. 2. Alexander. 3. Robert, physician to the governor and garrison of Tangier, and author of a ‘Catalogue of Plants growing within the fortifications of Tangier in 1673,’ inserted in the Philosophical Transactions for 1696 (Abr. iv. p. 85). He died in 1688, leaving an only son, Alexander, born in 1676, a general in the army, appointed governor of Virginia in 1710. The latter married and left issue.

Sir Robert’s second son, Alexander Spottiswood, advocate, succeeded to the representation of the family, and died in 1675. His only surviving son, John Spottiswood, an eminent advocate, was professor of law in the university of Edinburgh. He purchased back, in 1700, the lands and barony of Spottiswood from the heirs of the Bells, after they had been eighty years out of the family. He was the author of the following works on jurisprudence: ‘Introduction to the Knowledge of the Style of Writs, simple and compound, made use of in Scotland,’ Edin. 1707, 4to; ‘The Form of Process before the Lords of Council and Session; to which is prefixed, the Present State of the College of Justice,’ Edin. 1711, 8vo; ‘The Law concerning Election of Members in Scotland to sit and vote in the Parliament of Great Britain; second edit. Corrected and augmented, with several Acts and Statutes relative to Elections,’ Edin. 1722, 12mo; ‘Notes on Hope’s Minor Practicks, and an Account of all the Religious Houses in Scotland at the Reformation,’ Edin. 1734, 12mo. His only son. John Spottiswoode of Spottiswoode, had three sons and three daughters. The eldest son, John Spottiswoode of Spottiswoode, married, June 10, 1779, Margaret Penelope, daughter of William Strahan, Esq., the eminent printer of London, and had 6 sons and 3 daughters. He died Feb. 3, 1805. The sons were, 1. John, his heir. 2. William, died unmarried. 3. George, of Gladswood, Berwickshire, lieutenant-colonel in the army, who died in Sept. 1857. 4. Andrew, of Broom Hall, Surrey, married Mary, daughter of T.N. Longman, Esq., of the publishing house of Longmans and Co., with issue, 2 sons, William, of the house of Eyre and Spottiswoode, printers to the Queen, London, and George, and 3 daughters. 5. Robert, and 6. Henry, both died unmarried.

The eldest son, John Spottiswoode of Spottiswoode, born June 17, 1780, married, Sept. 13, 1809, Helen, 2d daughter of Andrew Wauchope of Niddrie Marischal, issue, 2 sons, John and Andrew, officers in the army, and 2 daughters, Alicia Anne, married in 1836, Lord John Douglas Montague Scott, only brother of the duke of Buccleuch, and Margaret Penelope, who, in 1834, became the wife of Sir Hugh Hume Campbell of Marchmont, bart., and died Oct. 16, 1839. The name is now spelled with a final e. Heir, Andrew, born in 1812, a colonel in the army, and commanding the 1st dragoon guards, married, in 1844, Jane Emily, daughter of Lieutenant-colonel. William Campbell, 9th lancers.

The Spottiswoodes of Mulresk, Aberdeenshire, are a branch of the family of Spottiswoode of that ilk.

SPOTTISWOOD, or SPOTSWOOD, JOHN, superintendent of Lothian, descended from an ancient family of that name in the Merse, as above shown, was born in 1510. He was scarcely four years of age when his father was slain at Flodden. In June 1534 he was entered a student at the university of Glasgow, where he applied himself chiefly to the study of divinity, and took the degree of M.A. Having imbibed the doctrines of the Reformation, and perceiving the danger of professing them openly, he went to England in 1538, and at London was introduced to Archbishop Cranmer, by whom he was admitted into holy orders. In January 1543, on the return of the Scots nobles who had been taken prisoners at Solway Moss, he came back to Scotland, in company of the earl of Glencairn, with whom he resided for several years. In 1544 he was employed by the young earl of Lennox in a private mission to the English court, relative to his marriage with the Lady Margaret Douglas, niece of Henry VIII., in which he was successful. In 1547 he was presented to the parsonage of Calder, by Sir James Sandilands, afterwards the first Lord Torphichen, a zealous promoter of the Reformation. IN 1558 he accompanied Lord James Stewart, afterwards the Regent Murray, and the other parliamentary commissioners, to Paris, to witness the marriage of the young Queen Mary to the dauphin of France. On the establishment of the Presbyterian religion in Scotland, he was one of the six ministers appointed by the lords of the congregation to prepare the First Book of Discipline, and he also assisted in framing the old Confession of Faith. When ecclesiastical superintendents were, in July 1560, placed over the different districts, Mr. Spottiswood was appointed to superintend the counties of Lothian, Berwick, and Teviotdale; and to this office he was formally admitted in the following March. On this occasion John Knox presided and preached the sermon. In all the public proceedings of the church he now bore an active part, and on the birth of James VI. in June 1566, he was sent by the General Assembly to congratulate Queen Mary on the auspicious event, and to desire that the prince “might be baptized according to the form used in the Reformed church.” He was graciously received by her majesty, who commanded that the child should be brought and placed in his arms, on which, kneeling down, he offered up a prayer for the young prince’s happiness and prosperity. Although the queen was much touched by this affecting incident, she did not comply with the request of the Assembly. At the coronation of the young king, at Stirling, 29th July 1567, the crown was placed upon his head by the superintendents of Lothian and Angus, and the bishop of Orkney. On the escape of Queen Mary from Lochleven, in May 1568, he published an admonition, addressed to all within his bounds, declaring that that “wicked woman, whose iniquity, knowen and lawfully convict, deserveth more than ten deaths,” had been most justly deposed, and denouncing and warning all Protestants against assisting her cause. In Calderwood’s ‘Historie of the Kirk of Scotland,’ (vol. ii. p. 476,) it is stated, that in the General Assembly which met 25th February 1568, “Mr. Johne Spotswod, superintendent of Lothiane, was delated for slacknesse in visitatiouns, &c. He alledged non-payment of his stipend for three years bypast; and that diverse times he had exhibited to the justice-clerk the names of haynous offenders, but could fine no execution.” In 1574 he and the superintendents of Angus and Strathearn demitted their offices, but the Assembly did not accept of the same, but continued them. At the next Assembly he again gave in his demission, “partly because he was unable to travel, partly because he received no stipend.” He was again requested to continue in the office, and at the Assembly which met at Edinburgh 24th April 1576, he was complained upon for having inaugurated the bishop of Ross in the abbey of Holyrood-house, after being admonished by his brethren not to do it. He admitted his fault. In a subsequent Assembly, that of the 10th October 1583, the synod of Lothian craved that the Assembly take order with Mr. John Spottiswoode for setting the tack of his benefice, without consent of the Assembly. His health had for some time been impaired, which rendered him unable to overtake the active superintendence of the churches in his extensive district, and as he had for several years received no stipend or remuneration for his labours, on 16th December 1580, a pension was granted to him and his second son for three years of 45 9s. 6d., besides an allowance for grain, and this grant was renewed, November 26, 1583, for five years. He died December 5, 1585, in his 76th year.

SPOTTISWOOD, JOHN, a distinguished prelate, archbishop of St. Andrews, eldest son of the preceding, was born in 1565. The house of Greenbank near the village of Mid Calder, Edinburghshire, is mentioned as his birthplace. He was educated at the university of Glasgow, studying languages and philosophy under James Melville, and divinity under his uncle, Andrew Melville, then principal. He took his degree in his sixteenth year, and at eighteen succeeded his father as minister at Calder. In 1601, he attended Ludowick, duke of Lennox, as chaplain in an embassy to France, when he is said to have been present with him during the celebration of mass. Upon the accession of James VI. to the throne of England, in 1603, he was among those who were appointed to attend his majesty to his new dominions; and the same year, on the death at Paris of James Bethune, the last Roman Catholic archbishop of Glasgow, he was advanced to the archbishopric of Glasgow, and sworn a member of the privy council in Scotland. The king also appointed him to attend the queen on her journey to England as her almoner. He zealously promoted the designs of the court for the establishment of episcopacy in Scotland, and in 1606 was one of the four Scots prelates summoned by the king to assist at the famous Hampton Court conference for settling the peace of the church, held in his own presence, 20th September that year. He is supposed to have made no less than fifty journeys to London, chiefly on that account, and for the purpose of increasing the revenues of his see. In 1615 he was translated to St. Andrews, and in consequence became primate of Scotland. The ensuing year, he had very nearly come into collision with the primate of England, the archbishop of Canterbury, on the following account. The marquis of Huntly, who had been excommunicated by the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for his adhesion to popery, had gone to London, and at the desire of the king, in the presence and with the consent of the bishop of Caithness, was absolved by the archbishop of Canterbury, and admitted to the communion, in the chapel at Lambeth, on the 8th July. Mr. Stephen, in his History of the (Episcopal) Church of Scotland, (vol. i. p. 474,) thus narrates what followed: “The news of this created a considerable sensation in Scotland, and was considered as a practical revival of the old claim of supremacy which the archbishops of York had formerly set up, but which had been always nobly resisted. On the 12th of July, Archbishop Spottiswood noticed it in his sermon, in St. Giles’, and that that the king had provided that the like should not fall out hereafter. Archbishop Spottiswood wrote a long letter of remonstrance to the king, who condescended to apologise and explain, among other things, that ‘all that was done was with a due acknowledgment and reservation of the power and independent authority of the Church of Scotland.’ Still farther to allay the justly aroused indignation o the Scottish church, the archbishop of Canterbury wrote to the archbishop of St. Andrews by the king’s desire, and, as he said, ‘that the archbishop’s letter, written to that effect, should be put upon record, and kept as a perpetual monument for ages to come.’”

Archbishop Spottiswood continued in high favour with James VI. during his whole reign. His ‘History of the Church and State of Scotland’ was written at his command. He was the means of carrying the obnoxious five articles of Perth, in the assembly held in that city, August 25, 1618. He was also held in much esteem by his son, Charles I., who, in 1629, wrote to his privy council in Scotland, and appointed the archbishop of St. Andrews to take precedence of the lord-chancellor in the council and in public. This gave deep offence to the earl of Kinnoul, who was then chancellor, and also increased the irritation of the nobility against the Episcopal order. At the coronation of Charles in the Abbey church of Holyrood-house in 1633, Archbishop Spottiswood had the honour of placing the crown upon his head. Having, by means of one Peter Hay of Naughton, in Fife, obtained possession of the copy of a statement of grievances, a duplicate of which was in the hands of Lord Balmerino, and had been intended for presentation to the parliament, Archbishop Spottiswood hastened with it to the king, who had returned to London. Balmerino was forthwith brought to trial under the statute of leasing-making, and chiefly through the influence of the archbishop and his son Sir Robert, president of the court of session, condemned to death. The whole proceedings, however, were so unpopular that it was found expedient to pardon Balmerino.


[portrait of Archbishop Spottiswood]

In 1635, on the death of the earl of Kinnoul, he was appointed lord-chancellor of Scotland. He as present in the Cathedral church of St. Giles’, Edinburgh, on the 23d July 1637, when the memorable riot took place on the reading of the liturgy, and when Jenny Geddes threw her stool at the officiating bishop’s head, Archbishop Spottiswood, from his seat in the gallery, commanded the provost and magistrates to suppress the riot. The following year, when the national resistance to the introduction of the liturgy had shown itself unequivocally, he assembled the privy council at Stirling, and on the same day, at ten o’clock, read the king’s proclamation at the market cross, expressive of his majesty’s intentions in the matter of the liturgy and gook of canons, promising a full pardon of all past offences, enjoining peaceable behaviour, and commanding all strangers to quit Stirling on six hours’ notice, under pain of rebellion. Soon after, on being informed of the proceedings of the Covenanters, he said, “Now all that we have been doing these thirty years past is thrown down at once;” and fearing violence to his person from the fury of the rabble, he retired to Newcastle. On the abolition of episcopacy at the celebrated Glasgow Assembly of 1638, when the censure and excommunication of the bishops came in hand, Archbishop Spottiswood did not escape. He was charged with “profaning the Sabbath, carding and diceing, riding through the country the whole day, tippling and drinking in taverns till midnight, falsifying the acts of Aberdeen Assembly, lying and slandering the old Assembly and Covenant in his wicked book, of adultery, incest, sacrilege, and frequent simony. He was deposed, and decreed to be excommunicated.” Of all these charges, particularly the gravest of them, it is not very probable that he was guilty, but in the excitement of the period there was little delicacy used in accusing an opponent. From Newcastle, where he remained some time, the archbishop wrote to the king, earnestly soliciting permission to resign his office of lord-chancellor, which had been conferred on him for life by patent. Charles accepted his resignation, and wrote with his own hand an affectionate letter of thanks for his past services. Age, fatigue of body, and grief of mind, threw him into a fever, and on his recovery he went to London, where he had a relapse. During his illness, which was to prove his last, he received the holy communion from the archbishop of Canterbury, and was visited by many persons of distinction, and particularly by the marquis of Hamilton, the king’s commissioner to the Glasgow Assembly. He died November 26th 1639, and was buried in Westminster abbey. His body was followed to the grave by a large body of the Scottish and English nobility then in London, with all the king’s servants; the funeral procession, attended by 800 torches, being met at the west door by the dean and prebendaries in their robes. Archbishop Spottiswood published the following works:

Refutatio Libelli de Regimine Ecclesiae Scoticanae. Lond. 1620, 12mo.
History of the Church and State of Scotland, from the year of our Lord 203, to the end of the reign of King James VI. 1625. Lond. 1655, fol. The same. 1677, fol. A work composed with great impartiality.

SPOTTISWOOD, SIR ROBERT, an eminent lawyer and judge, author of ‘The Practicks of the Law of Scotland,’ second son of the preceding, was born in 1596. He was educated at the grammar-school of Glasgow, and in 1609 was sent to the university of that city, where four years afterwards he took the degree of M.A. From Glasgow he removed to Exeter college, Oxford, and studied under the celebrated Dr. Prideaux. On quitting Oxford he made the tour of France, Italy, and Germany, studying the laws of those countries, as well as the civil and canon law, and theology, in which he was deeply versed. He is also said to have been well skilled in the Hebrew, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Arabic languages, and in most of the European tongues. While at Rome he recovered the famous ‘Black Book of Paisley,’ and other manuscripts and records of the roman Catholic church which had been carried abroad from Scottish monasteries at the time of the Reformation. On his return from the Continent, after an absence of nine years, he was graciously received at the English court by James I., who appointed him one of the extraordinary judges of the court of session, when he assumed the title of Lord New-Abbey, from the barony of that name in Galloway, which had been conferred on him by the archbishop his father. On the accession of Charles I. he was nominated an ordinary lord of session, February 14, 1626, and on the death of Sir James Skene, in November 1633, he was chosen president of the court. Having disposed of the estate of New Abbey to King Charles, who bestowed it on the newly erected bishopric of Edinburgh, he assumed the name of Lord Dunipace, from an estate he had purchased in Stirlingshire.

In 1637, when the Scots nation commenced that resolute opposition to the oppressive measures of the king, which ended in the overthrow of episcopacy, Sir Robert Spottiswood, who, from his bigoted partisanship, had rendered himself obnoxious to his countrymen, was obliged to quit the kingdom, when he attached himself closely to the king’s person. On Charles visiting Scotland in 1641, the Estates petitioned his majesty to remove Sir Robert Spottiswood from his person and councils, a request with which he was obliged to comply. In 1645, however, he was recalled by the king, and appointed secretary of state for Scotland, in which capacity he signed the commission of the marquis of Montrose, as lieutenant-governor and captain-general of all his majesty’s forces in Scotland, with power to summon a parliament, to meet at Glasgow, and to confer the honour of knighthood. Being himself the bearer of this commission, as he could not travel by any of the ordinary roads without risk of apprehension, he took a circuitous route from Oxford. Passing through Wales, and embarking at the island of Anglesey, he crossed over to the Isle of Man. Thence he sailed for the West Highlands, and landed in Lochaber. Proceeding into Athol, he was conducted by a party of Athol-men to the marquis of Montrose, then at Bothwell Moor. He accompanied the royalist army till its defeat at Philiphaugh, where he was taken prisoner, September 13, 1645, with only his walking-cane in his hand. He was arraigned before the parliament which met, according to adjournment, at St. Andrews. With colonel Nathaniel Gordon, the Hon. William Murray, and Captain Cuthrie, also prisoners, Sir Robert Spottiswood pleaded exemption from trial, on the ground of “quarter,” but after three hours’ debate, on the 10th January 1646, the parliament overruled this defence, and the committee of estates found them all “guilty of high treason against the states of the kingdom.” His three fellow-prisoners were condemned to death under an act passed the preceding year, declaring that all persons who after having subscribed the Covenant, should withdraw from it, should be held as guilty of high treason. But as Sir Robert Spottiswood had not subscribed the Covenant, the committee stated in a special report the grounds on which they found him guilty of high treason, namely, 1st, that he had advised, docqueted, signed, carried, and delivered to the marquis of Montrose the commission appointing him “lieutenant-governor and captain-general” of all his majesty’s forces in Scotland; and, 2dly, that he had been taken in arms against the country at Philiphaugh. After a lengthened debate, the parliament decided that both these charges were capital offences, and accordingly Sir Robert was condemned by a large majority to lose his head, with forfaulture of lands and goods, heritable and moveable.

When the vote was taken whether Sir Robert Spottiswood should suffer, the earls of Eglinton, Cassillis, Dunfermline, and Carnwath voted that his life should be spared; and the lord-chancellor and the earl of Lanark, by leave of the house, declined voting. The following passage is extracted from the Life of Sir Robert, prefixed to his work, entitled ‘The Practicks of the Law of Scotland,’ printed in 1706. “Though many liked not his party, they liked his person, which made him many friends even among the Covenanters, insomuch that after his sentence was read, some of the nobility spoke in his behalf, and entreated the house to consider the quality and parts of that excellent gentleman and most just judge, whom they had condemned, and begged earnestly his life might be spared. But an eminent knowledge and esteem which, in other cases, might be a motive to save a criminal, was here only the cause of taking an innocent man’s life – so dangerous is it, in a corrupt age, to be eminently constant and virtuous. The gentlemen who spoke were told that the authority of the established government was not secure while Sir Robert’s life was spared. Whereupon the noblemen who presided at the meeting of the estates at Glasgow, and in the parliament at St. Andrews, openly declared, when they signed the respective sentences, that they did sign as preses, and in obedience to the command of the estates, but not as to their particular judgment.”

Sir Robert was beheaded at St. Andrews, 16th January 1646, the maiden having been brought from Dundee for the purpose. After he had mounted the scaffold, he surveyed the scene around him with singular composure. His appearance was naturally grave and dignified, and could not fail to make a deep impression on the spectators. He had prepared a speech to be delivered to the people, but on turning round to address them he was prevented by the provost of St. Andrews, who had formerly been a servant of the archbishop his father. This person had been instigated to impose silence upon him by Robert Blair, one of the ministers who had been commissioned to attend him. Blair’s motive is said to have arisen from a dread he entertained that Sir Robert would expose the designs of the Covenanters, and impress the bystanders with an unfavourable opinion of their proceedings. Sir Robert bore the interruption without showing any signs of disappointment. As he saw no chance of being allowed to deliver it, he threw the manuscript of his speech amongst the crowd, and betook himself to his private devotions. But here again Blair officiously interfered, and rudely asked him whether he would incline that he and the people should pray for the salvation of his soul? Sir Robert answered that he indeed “desired the prayers of the people, but would have no concern with his prayers, which he believed were impious, and an abomination unto God; adding, that of all the plagues with which the offended majesty of God had scourged the nation, this was certainly the greatest, greater than even the sword, fire, or pestilence, that, for the sins of the people, God had sent a lying spirit into the mouths of the prophets.” This answer roused the anger of Blair, who assailed Sir Robert with the most acrimonious imputations, and reviled the memory of his father by the most infamous charges; but Sir Robert took no notice of his reproaches, and having finished his devotions, laid his head upon the block, saying, “Merciful Jesus! Gather my soul into thy saints and martyrs who have run before me in this race.” In an instant his head was severed from his body. His remains were taken care of by Hugh Scrimgeour, a wealthy citizen of St. Andrews, who had formerly been one of Archbishop Spottiswood’s servants, and honourable interred in the parish church of that city, by him, Sir Robert Murray of Melgum, and other friends. Scrimgeour did not long survive the melancholy office, for some days after, seeing the scaffold still standing, he fainted in the street, and being carried home, died at his own threshold. The day before his execution, Sir Robert wrote a letter to the marquis of Montrose, offering the “last tribute of his service,” and expressing a hope that “the king’s cause” would be advanced by his death. He encouraged the marquis to go on and crown the work he had “so gloriously” begun, and recommended to him to pursue the course he had hitherto followed, “by fair and gentle carriage, to gain the people’s affection to their prince, rather than imitate the barbarous inhumanity” of his adversaries. He concluded by recommending his orphans and his “brother’s house” to his care. The axe with which his head was cut off is still preserved in the College library, St. Andrews.


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