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A History of the County of Renfrew from the Earliest Times
Chapter XV.—The Reformation


The movement in Scotland which ended in the Reformation of religion, was at first largely political. During its earlier stages its significance was scarcely realized, and, except in the eastern counties, the people generally took no particular interest in it. Whatever was done in connection with it at this period in Renfrewshire was due less to the desire for religious reform and more to the political ambitions of its leaders. Chief among them were William second Earl of Glencairn, Mathew fourth Earl of Lennox, William Lord Semple, his son Robert Master of Semple, and John Hamilton, Abbot of Paisley, afterwards Bishop of Dunkeld and Archbishop of St. Andrews. The Earls of Glencairn and Lennox belonged to the English party, while the rest sided with the French or Catholic party. James Stewart of Cardonald was in the pay of the English, and appears to have been chiefly occupied in watching the movements of the Abbot of Paisley.

On the death of James V., James Lord Hamilton, second Earl of Arran, as the next heir to the Crown, was appointed Regent of the kingdom and tutor to the infant Queen. A man of no great ability, he was unequal to the position in which he was placed. At home he was opposed by the whole of the clergy, with Cardinal Beaton at their head, while in Henry VIII. he had a friend or a foe according as he followed or did not follow his bidding. Henry’s object was to bring about a marriage between the young Queen and his son, Edward Prince of Wales. With a view to compassing this, as soon as the death of James was known in London, he set free the captives taken at Solway Moss, loaded them with presents and pensions, and sent them to work for him in Scotland. Joining Arran, the “English Lords” or “assured Scots,” as they were called, seemed at first as if they would be the prevailing party in the country. Beaton was seized “ in the Governor’s chamber, sitting at Council,” and warded in the Earl of Morton’s house at Dalkeith. A meeting of the Estates was held, March 12, 1543, when three ambassadors were appointed to proceed to England for the purpose of treating with Henry for the marriage of the Scots Queen with his son, Edward Prince of Wales. On July 1 the negotiations were concluded at Greenwich, the Earl of Glencairn and Sir George Douglas being present and assisting. Henry did not get all he desired. On two points the Scots refused to give way. They declined to give up their ancient league with France and to send the young Queen to England. Mary was to remain in Scotland till the time of her marriage, and the French were to be included in the treaty of peace.

Meantime, the French party had been bestirring themselves. French gold was poured into the country as liberally as English, and it was believed that the Duke of Guise was only waiting a favourable opportunity to sail with a great armament to Scotland. In the beginning of April Beaton was at large. At a meeting held at St. Andrews immediately after, the clergy offered to devote their own plate and that of the Church to defeat the policy of Henry. Towards the end of June a French fleet appeared off the east coast, when Beaton resolved to bring matters between him and Arran to an issue. Three weeks after the negotiations had been concluded at Greenwich, he entered Linlithgow, where the young Queen was staying under the care of Arran, at the head of six or seven thousand men, with the intention of seizing her. Negotiations followed, and on July 26 the Queen was removed to Stirling to be out of Henry’s way. On September , Arran and Beaton were reconciled, and on September 8 Arran abjured his religion and did penance for his apostasy in the Church of the Franciscans in Stirling. Beaton’s victory was complete.

In the opposite party, besides the Earls of Lennox and Glencairn, were the Earls Angus and Cassillis, the Lords Fleming, Maxwell, and Sommerville, Sir George Douglas, brother of Angus, and a number of lesser barons. In craft and resolution Sir George Douglas was a match for Beaton, and more than a match for Henry. Lennox was a Catholic. He had been invited over from France by Beaton, who, having used him, had cast him off. In the hope of outwitting Beaton, he had joined the English Lords. Subsequently he married Lady Margaret Douglas, daughter of the Earl of Angus, niece of Henry VIII., and afterwards mother of the unfortunate Darnley.

In October, 1543, a French fleet of ten vessels, bringing ten thousand golden crowns, and fifty pieces of artillery, and having on board a French ambassador and a papal legate, Marco Grimani, arrived at Dumbarton. The money and artillery were sent by Francis I. to Lennox, who, in the meantime, unknown to him, had changed sides. These valuable gifts Lennox, accompanied by Glencairn, made haste to secure, and afterwards used them against those whom they were intended to help.

Elsewhere, the English party were less fortunate. Lords Maxwell and Sommerville were seized while on their way to England with treasonable papers, and lodged in the Castle of Edinburgh. In the beginning of November feeling ran so strong against Henry that Sir Ralph Sadler, his ambassador, was obliged to seek refuge in Tantallon Castle, one of the Douglas strongholds. Towards the end of the month, the Earl of Rothes, Lord Grey, and Balnaves of Halahill, with other members of the English party in Forfarshire, fell into the hands of Beaton.

On December 11, Parliament met at Edinburgh, when the English treaties, though solemnly ratified in the Abbey Church of Holyrood so recently as August 25, were declared null and void, in consequence of Henry having seized some Scottish ships, the treaties with France were renewed, stringent laws were passed against heresy, and Beaton was appointed Chancellor of the Kingdom.

In January, 1544, aided by the French gold taken at Dumbarton, Angus, Lennox, Glencairn and Cassillis collected their forces at Leith and tried to draw the Governor and Cardinal out of Edinburgh to give battle. The Governor and Cardinal sat still, and Angus and Glencairn and the rest of them, unable to keep their forces together, while those of their opponents were daily increasing, were obliged to come to terms. They formally abandoned their alliance with Henry, and undertook to take “ a plane part in the defence” of the kingdom, each of the leaders giving pledges for his good faith and fidelity to Arran and Holy Church.3 Lennox, however, fled secretly to Glasgow, where he fortified the castle and prepared to defend himself to the utmost. As soon as the news of this reached the Regent, he gathered together such forces as he could and marched to Glasgow. In the meantime Lennox had gone off to Dumbarton to fetch more troops, and had left Glasgow in charge of Glencairn. When the news of the Regent’s coming was known to the garrison, Glencairn with Houston and Buchanan and other barons and nobles of the Lennox and of the shire of Renfrew, went out to meet him at the head of a numerous force, which they had gathered from the neighbouring towns, and without waiting for Lennox offered battle. Victory leaned first to the one side, and then to the other, but at last Arran prevailed, and the leaders of the Lennox party fled, leaving many of their partisans dead upon the field. Arran entered the city and treated the people with leniency. Glencairn fled to Dumbarton and rejoined Lennox. For some time the two sat quiet; but a rising of their partisans occurring again in Glasgow, they proceeded thither and placed themselves at their head. The Regent at once summoned the nobility of the south to meet him at Glasgow, and then besieged the place, and, having taken it, hanged “ eighteen of the nobilitie quhome Lennox luvet weil, but lat the rest pas.” Among the prisoners was the Earl of Angus, whom Henry and his advisers strongly suspected was playing a part to deceive them. Glencairn aud Lennox escaped, and continued to plot and work against Arran in the west.

In the meantime the man who was destined in a few years to succeed both Arran and Beaton as the head of the Catholic party, had returned and was rapidly making his way to the front. This was John Hamilton, a natural brother of Arran the Governor, and Abbot of Paisley.

In or about the year 1540, having “a fine genius for letters,” he had gone to France for the purpose, it is said, of pursuing his studies in the University of Paris. He returned in 1543, and arrived in Scotland between the 2nd and 18th of April. On his way he was feted in London by Henry and dismissed with rich presents. In Scotland his arrival was awaited with anxiety. Knox and his party expected that both he and his companion, David Panter, would at least “ occupye the pulpit and trewly preach Jesus Christ.” On their arrival, however, they disappointed the Protestants. Both attached themselves to the Catholic party, and Hamilton soon proved himself one of its most effective members. According to Knox and Sadler, his influence with the Governor was all powerful. It was through him, it is said, that Arran was reconciled to Beaton and to the Catholic Church. Writing to Henry Till, on April 18, 1543, immediately after Hamilton’s return, Sir Ralph Sadler says of the Regent: !! Ever since his brother, the Abbot of Paisley, came home, he hath been chiefly ruled and counselled by him, who, they assure me, is altogether at the cast of France and the Cardinal’s great friend ; and whatever they do mind with the Governor to-day, the Abbot of Paisley changeth him in the same to-morrow.” A few days later, he reports Sir George Douglas as using almost his own words. “ The Abbot, he saith, hath been the only cause of the Governor’s alteration ; which Abbot is all for France and the Cardinal’s great friend, and since his coming home the Governor hath been altogether ruled by him.”

In the year of his return Hamilton was appointed by his brother Keeper of the Privy Seal. Shortly afterwards he was promoted to the office of Lord High Treasurer, in room of Sir James Kirkcaldy of Grange, a distinguished member of the English party. In 1544, Hamilton appears as one of the Senators of the College of Justice. As a member of the Privy Council his attendance at its meetings was frequent. On the death of George Crichton, Bishop of Dunkeld, he was appointed to succeed him. His right to be presented was contested by Robert Crichton, nephew of the late Bishop and Provost of St. Giles, who claimed the See in virtue of an alleged decree of the Pope, by which the appointment of Hamilton to Dunkeld was made conditional upon Crichton’s appointment to Ross, failing which he was to be Bishop of Dunkeld. Ross had been filled up by the appointment of David Panter. Hamilton appealed to the Court of Session, where he accused Crichton of barratry at Rome, and gained his case. Crichton then appealed to Rome. The Pope referred the matter to certain Cardinals, who gave their decision in favour of Hamilton. Whether Hamilton was ever installed in his northern bishopric is doubtful. He is styled Bishop and Abbot in June, 1548, and Bishop of Dunkeld as late as May, 1549, though some historians give him Archepiscopal rank previous to that date.

In the beginning of April, 1544, shortly after the capture and sack of . Glasgow, Arran was the guest of his brother in the Abbey of Paisley. Notwithstanding their engagement in January to renounce their alliance with Henry, and to take “ a plane part in the defence of the kingdom,” Angus, Glencairn, and the rest of their party, were still in correspondence with England. In the month of March, they were urging Henry to send a “ main army” into Scotland for their relief. The army did not come as they expected, but they continued their treasonable practices ; and on April 9, while still the guest of his brother, Arran issued a commission to the Earl of Argyll and others to charge the keepers of Finlaystone Castle, which belonged to the Earl of Glencairn, to surrender the castle into their hands and keeping, and authorized them “ to raise fire gif need be.” Whether the place was then actually besieged does not appear. Arran and his associates had soon a much more formidable enemy to contend with.

On Sunday, May 4, a fleet suddenly appeared in the Firth of Forth under the command of the Earl of Hertford, and having on board that “ main army ” which Angus and Glencairn were longing for. The Regent and Beaton hastily gathered their forces, but after a feeble show of resistance, fled to Linlithgow, leaving Hertford to do as he liked. Leith was taken and Edinburgh was given to the flames. The country round about Edinburgh and to within six miles of Stirling was laid waste. Hertford then took his way south, working such havoc as he went, that he could report to his master, without exaggerating, that “ the like devastation had not been made in Scotland these many years.” One effect this invasion had was to set the people of Edinburgh against the Cardinal. It was intended by the English that it should. Wherever they went, they nailed up upon the church doors and scattered among the people printed leaflets, telling them that they had the Cardinal to thank for the miseries which were then inflicted upon them.

Hertford’s arrival in the Forth probably saved the heads of Angus and his brother, Sir George Douglas. Their treasonable correspondence with Henry had been intercepted, and they themselves were warded in the Castle of Blackness. On April 27, a week before Hertford’s arrival, they had been compelled to sign an order to deliver the Castle of Tantallon into the hands of the Abbot of Paisley, and the Earls of Lennox and Glencairn were summoned to underlie the law with them on a charge of treason on May 6. For them, at least, the arrival of Hertford in the Firth, on May 4, was opportune. Dreading what might happen, and in the hope of securing their assistance, Arran at once set them free.

To Henry the conduct of Angus and his brother had never been altogether satisfactory, and after their liberation from Blackness, he began to regard them with extreme suspicion, though probably without real cause. Both Angus and Douglas were working against Arran and Beaton, and in appearance played fast and loose with both sides, but always apparently with a view to furthering the English alliance, or, at any rate, the downfall of Arran and the advancement of their own party. Still, their conduct was extremely perplexing and suspicious.

In November (1544), Angus, Glencairn, and Douglas, received a remission for all their treasons and offences, and were to all appearance reconciled to Arran. Henry was now thoroughly exasperated. To their frequent letters he paid no attention, but offered 2000 crowns for the head of Angus, and 1000 for his brother’s. Angus, who in July had been appointed Lieutenant of the Border, and Glencairn, were with Arran at Ancrum Moor, February 27, 1545, where Sir Ralph Eure and Sir Bryan Layton were defeated and slain, and where, in the first moments of joy over their victory, Angus and Arran fell upon each other’s necks, the latter exclaiming that the loyalty of Angus was now beyond suspicion. On June 26 following, Glencairn, Angus, Cassillis and Sir George Douglas, were among those who signed a new bond with France, pledging themselves to harass the English to the utmost of their power. Yet incredible as it may seem, they were all the while in correspondence with Henry or his agents, keeping the Earl of Hertford, who had succeeded Sir Ralph Eure on the border, well informed of what was going on in Scotland, and advising him as to the best means to adopt. Lennox was in Ireland arranging for the capture of Dumbarton Castle with the help of the Islesmen and the English. The Isle of Bute was taken, but owing to the stern patriotism of Stirling of Glorat, who was in charge of Dumbarton Castle, the attempt on that stronghold failed, though its possession was much desired by Henry. Lord Maxwell failed also to secure for him the three great castles of Caerlaverock, Lochmaben, and Threave.

On April 16 in this year (1545), Hamilton, the Abbot of Paisley, took a step which, though eminently prudent at the time, must have caused him many regrets later on. For some time his regality had been without a bailie and justiciar. In 1529 he appears to have entertained the intention of filling up the office by the appointment of certain “ noble and powerful men ” to act as his procurators, bailies, and commissioners, but as the names of these “noble and powerful men ” are not inserted in the document it is probable that the commission was never issued. But since then things had changed. The country was on the verge of anarchy. Glencairn and Lennox had declared themselves, and with two such powerful enemies for his neighbours, it was necessary to procure what protection he could from other neighbours. Some time previous to the year 1541 he had appointed William Lord Semple as his bailie, but apparently only for a term. On April 16, 1545, he filled up the office permanently by appointing Robert, Master of Semple, hereditary bailie and justiciar of the whole lands of the monastery, with the exception of those in Ayrshire.

The narrative of the instrument upon which the appointment runs, unless the language of it is exaggerated, affords a lively picture of the times, and shows that the Abbot and his monks had already been indebted to the Master of Semple for timely help. “In these days,” it says, “the wickedness of men so increases, that nothing pleases them better than to invade the possessions of monks and to overturn their monasteries ; nor had we ourselves been saved from that disaster but for the help and assistance of that noble man, Robert Semple, Master of the same, the son and apparent heir of William Lord Semple. We who are unwarlike and whom it becomes to abhor arms, have by the same Master been valiantly defended with arms not only against the madness of heretics, but also against the insults of more powerful tyrants, and unless he continue unweariedly in our defence with arms, counsel, and assistance, soon nothing will remain safe to us. But so far as we are concerned, nothing must be left undone that may tend to our greater security; for according to the old proverb  To preserve what we have is not less a virtue than to acquire what we have not.’” The deed then proceeds to appoint Robert and his heirs bailies and justiciars of the lands named, with the usual powers, at a stipend of three chalders of oatmeal yearly from our “ granary ” and forty-three shillings and fourpence from the lands of Glen in the parish of Lochwinnoch. Lord Semple, on the other hand, bound himself, his heirs and successors, to bring the whole power of his family, whenever necessary, to the defence and protection of the monks and their property, failing which the appointment was to become null and void.

In the beginning of May, Hamilton’s party was cheered by the arrival of a French fleet in the Clyde, off Dumbarton. Mindful of the device practised on their countrymen by Lennox and Glencairn, the French were very chary of landing. But as soon as it was known who they were, the townspeople received them with enthusiasm. The troops, three thousand foot and five hundred horse, were under the command of Lorges de Montgomery, an experienced soldier.

In the Parliament held at Stirling in the following month, it was ordained that these troops should be joined on Roslyn Moor, on July 28, by all the men in the country, capable of bearing arms, between the ages of sixteen and sixty. There accordingly the two forces assembled and numbered in all from six thousand to seven thousand men. The object was an invasion of England, but the enterprise came to nothing. According to a letter written by Angus, the Earl Marischal, Cassillis, and Sir George Douglas, “all that they,” i.e., the Regent, Beaton and Montgomery,  devised was stopped by us that are the Kingis freendes.” The troops crossed the Border, but within four days they returned, and were disbanded. Dissensions broke out among the allies, and the Frenchmen were glad to get back to their own country.

As a reply to this invasion, Angus and his friends, in the letter just referred to, urged Hertford to prepare his “ substancious ” armies and to invade Scotland during the following harvest. Hertford did so, and with cruel effect. The Scots themselves testified that they had never before been “ so burned, scourged and punished.” Besides five market towns, two hundred and fifty-three villages and sixteen fortified places, Hertford in this invasion left behind him the Abbeys of Kelso, Melrose, Dryburgh, Roxburgh and Coldingham in ruins, to mark his track.

On May 29, 1546, Cardinal Beaton was foully murdered in St. Andrews Castle, and the castle taken possession of b}' Norman Leslie and his five fellow assassins. Shortly afterwards the}T were joined by John Knox and other reformers. Within a fortnight after Beaton’s murder a meeting of the Privy Council was held at Edinburgh, which was attended by the leaders of both political parties. Huntly was appointed Chancellor, and the rejection of the English alliance was unanimously confirmed. Parliament met on June 30, when all concerned in the slaughter of Beaton were declared guilty of treason, and steps were taken to press on the siege of St. Andrews Castle with vigour. The defenders of the castle hoped for aid from England ; but a French fleet hove in sight under the command of Leo Strozzi, the Prior of Capua, and on July 21 the place was surrendered. The prisoners were carried away to France, where part of them were distributed among various prisons, and the rest, among whom was Knox, were sent to the galleys.

After the fall of this stronghold, the various political parties in the country appeared to be united and to concur in the prosecution of the French policy. The union, however, was only seeming. From his castle at Duchal, in the parish of Kilmacolm, the Earl of Glencairn was still keeping the English Government informed as to what was going on in Scotland, and the rest of the English lords were still at the service of Henry.

In January, 1547, Henry died, and the Earl of Hertford, now Duke of Somerset, as Lord Protector, was at the head of affairs in England. In Scotland, notwithstanding the intrigues of the English lords, the French or Church party remained supreme, and was strongly supported by the Prior of Capua and his fleet. Somerset’s first effort was to recall the Scots to a sense of their real position, but encouraged by Strozzi, they refused Somerset’s proposal to discuss terms of peace, took the offensive, and captured the castle of Langholm, then in the hands of the English. On Sunday, September 4, Somerset crossed the border with eighteen thousand men, and took his way along the East coast, attended by a fleet under the command of Lord Clinton. At Musselburgh he found the Regent with Angus, Huntly, and Argyll awaiting him with from twenty-three thousand to twenty-five thousand men. Both sides prepared for battle on the morrow, and so confident were the Scots of victory, that during the night they played games of chance with their future prisoners’ ransoms for stakes. On the following day, long afterwards known in Scotland as Black Saturday, was fought the battle of Pinkie. The rout of the Scots was complete. Fifteen hundred of them, among whom was Huntly the Chancellor, were taken prisoners, and the number of their slain was reckoned at ten thousand. The loss of the English was inconsiderable.

Glencairn, who is usually said to have been killed at the battle of Pinkie, was not on the field. The Governor had forbidden him to be present, and on January 12 of the following year he was sitting in Council with the Queen Dowager at Stirling. In July, 1547, he wrote to Somerset offering to raise a thousand men “ of my friends and surname and a thousand more assisters and favourers of the Word of God, and to break and divide the country till your army comes—holding Kyle, Carrick, Cunningham and Renfrew.” In the same letter he proposed to Somerset to fortify a strong position on the Clyde, opposite the town of Greenock. Had this been done, it “ would have been as disastrous for the country as Lord Gray’s delivery of Broughty was to the borders of the Tay.” In August the Governor is reported to have said that he dreaded “ mair the furth byding of Glencairn than the incoming of the army {i.e., Somerset’s]; for the Earl had made sik ane brulzie within the realme, that he wist nocht surelie quhom of to be siker when he had ado.” On September 6, two days after Somerset had crossed the border, Glencairn wrote to Lennox and Wharton, who forwarded his letter to the Duke, saying : “ I could not go outside my bounds for the watch kept on me by the Governor, but have spoken with, and sent your proclamations to Kyle and ‘ Lowdeane,’ who promise to do their ‘ devoir,’ and my lord Lennox will be assured of Kyle, Cunningham, his and my part of the barony of Renfrew, and his own Earldom, except the Laird of Buchanan—and Glasgow and Dumbarton are determined to live and die with him.” Lennox was then at Carlisle planning with Wharton an invasion of Scotland from the west. On October 23, Glencairn wrote from Duchal to Somerset, urging him to seize “a little house Crawford-John,” which, if won, he assured him, would be of great service. On the same day he wrote to Lennox, saying, “Na thing laikis your presens. The Lennox is your own and all Renfrew, except the ‘Simples.’ George Douglas has spoken with the lieutenant and I am with him and taikis him one hand to be of your lordschippis partie. As for Angus I doubt not he will be sure. ... If you come not now, your friends will never look for you. Ye need none with you but the assured men ‘ sik as Closburne, Lag, my baronrie of Glencairne, the Captane Crawfurd, and my lord of Angus’ folkis, and thir [these] may bring you saifelie aneuche to our bondis ’; when we will pass with you to Glasgow or Paisley.”

On the second of April in this year, Stewart of Cardonald, cousin of Lennox, reported to Wharton that Hamilton, the Abbot of Paisley, was about to go secretly to France, in order to obtain the consent of the King of France to the Governor’s desire to have the princess, and to get the red hat to himself to be cardinal and the bishopric of Mirepoix, formerly held by Cardinal Beaton, and urges that strict watch be kept for him.4 Whether Hamilton went is uncertain. He attended the Privy Council, April 5, and May 3 and 20. On June 20 he was present in Parliament, but his name is not in the sederunt of the Privy Council on July 24. On July 30, however, he attended Parliament, and again on August 4. On August 22 he was present at a meeting of the Privy Council. So that if he went to France during this year (1547), it must have been between this last date and October 9, when Lord Grey of Wilton was expecting a visit from him to discuss the Queen’s marriage. In October, Cock burn, a spy in the pay of Grey of Wilton, reported that he had gone to Clydesdale to ask the gentlemen to await aid from France. On the 15th of the following month, Brunston reported that he had taken two cannons out to Leith—so secretly, he added—that none knew where they were going, though he was of opinion that they were being conveyed either to Broughty Crag or to St. Colm’s. Two days later Cock-burn reported again, and this time that Hamilton had gone to Fife and the Governor to Perth, to raise the men of Fife and Angus, preparatory to laying siege to Broughty Castle.

On March 29 of the following year (1548), Huntly, then a prisoner at Newcastle, asked Somerset for a safe conduct for Hamilton for a month, that he might come and speak with him.5 Four days later Grey of Wilton informed Somerset that Hamilton (now Bishop of Dunkeld) was coming to Berwick commissioned to treat of peace, and asked for instructions as to how he was to deal with him.6 Nothing seems to have come of the commission. His safe conduct was missent, and it is doubtful whether he went.

In June, at the invitation of the Regent, a French fleet appeared in the Forth, and when, on the 16th of the month, Mary of Lorraine, the Queen Dowager, interviewed D’Esse, the Lieutenant-General of the forces on board, Hamilton accompanied her. The troops landed at Leith and made their way to Haddington, then in the hands of the English, and on June 30 began to attempt its capture. A week after this, Parliament met in the Abbey near Haddington, when it was definitely resolved that Mary, the young Queen, should wed the Dauphin.

In the meantime, the Earl of Glencairn had hastened home in the month of February to defend himself against his late friend the Earl of Lennox, whom shortly before he had been urging to come to Scotland, assuring him that his own part of the barony of Renfrew as well as other places were all for him. In the raid which followed, under the leadership of Lennox and Wharton, one of Glencairn’s sons was taken prisoner. We hear no more of the “ old Earl,” as he was subsequently called. On April 22 he was dead, and his career of duplicity and treachery ended.

On April 12, 1554, the Queen mother, who for some time had been intriguing to supplant the Earl of Arran, now Duke of Chatelherault, was publicly proclaimed Regent. Attention had been called to the new doctrines taught by the Reformers by the murder of Beaton, but nothing contributed so much to their diffusion as the French domination which the Queen Regent now tried to establish, and her attempt to reduce Scotland to the position of an appanage of the French Crown.

Whether these doctrines were spreading among the people in Renfrewshire there is little or no direct evidence ; but it is scarcely possible that they were not. The conduct and example of Alexander, the new Earl of Glencairn, afterwards a Lord of the Congregation, could hardly fail to give a strong impetus to their spread. He was one of the two who were sent to intercede with the Queen Regent for the preachers whom she had summoned to appear before her on May 10, 1559, and to whose request for “some performance of her manifold promises,” she replied that it “ became not subjects to burden their Princes with promises farther that it pleased them to keep the same.” He was probably in Perth on May 11, when Knox’s “rascal multitude ” began their work of destruction. ’When the French troops were removed from Stirling to Auchterarder, to be in readiness to seize Perth and inflict punishment for the destruction of its buildings, he appears to have been in the west; but on the receipt of Knox’s appeal for assistance, he rode up hastily at the head of some two thousand men and was just in time to prevent D’Oysel from attacking the reformers. He was probably at Cupar Moor, and again at St. Andrews when Knox preached in spite of Hamilton’s threat to turn the culverines against him. On July 19 he wrote along with Argyll and others from Edinburgh to Cecil and Elizabeth, “ humbly beseeching ” the latter, “ her Council, subjects, and realm to assist them in their present danger from the designs of France and in the Reformation as she had enterprised in her own realm,” and a few days later was told by Cecil, who replied for himself and his royal mistress, that he doubted if they were taking the right way with the papist kirkmen, that he liked to see good things put to good uses, and that he thought them negligent in not expelling the French. After the futile attempt on Leith, and while waiting for the result of Maitland of Lethington’s mission to England, when the Earl of Arran, Lord James, and Knox, left Edinburgh and went to St. Andrews. Glencairn, the Duke, and Argyll came west and made their headquarters in Glasgow.

Meanwhile the Abbot of Paisley, who had been appointed Archbishop of St. Andrews and Primate of Scotland, had been doing his utmost to defeat the English party and to set hack the Reformation. Immediately after his enthronization he summoned a General Council by which a number of regulations were passed for the reformation of the lives of the clergy and for the introduction of decency and order into the Church. To make up for the want of preaching power among the clergy, he caused the series of homilies already referred to, and known as “ Hamilton’s Catechism,” to be drawn up, and was at the expense of its publication. He also completed the College of St. Mary at St. Andrews, and largely endowed it out of his episcopal revenues for the better education of the ministry. But his attempts were made in vain. They were too late. The new doctrines were spreading at a continually accelerating pace, and the possibility of saving the old Church was rapidly receding. Hamilton probably saw this. At any rate, in 1553 he resigned the Abbacy of Paisley in favour of his nephew, Claud Hamilton, a mere child.

The Bull by which Julius III. confirmed this deed is dated December 9, 1553, and states that the boy’s age was fourteen, but according to another and more reliable account he was only seven. According to the Bull of Julius, the Archbishop was to administer the temporal as well as the spiritual affairs of the Abbey, until his nephew reached the age of twenty-three. In the event of the Prelate dying before that time, the Claustral Prior of the Abbey was to take charge of them. After deducting one-fourth of the revenues of the monastery if he kept a separate establishment, or a third if he lived in the Abbey, for the maintenance of the fabric, the purchase of ornaments for the Abbey Church and for the relief of the poor, the fortunate youth was to retain the whole of the rest of the income for himself.

Two years after this, July 26, 1555, Mathew Stewart of Barscube and others, twelve persons in all, came to Paisley, “ by way of hamesuikin,” and assaulted John Hamilton, son of John Hamilton of Ferguslie, “grynter” of Paisley. The assault had probably nothing to do with the Reformation. In all probability it arose out of the feud between the Lennox and Hamilton parties, and was a piece of private revenge.

After Glencairn and Argyll had retreated before the French and taken up their quarters in Glasgow, they were joined by the Duke, and appear, according to Whitelaw, a pensioner of the English, to have at once set out to take possession of Semple Castle. Writing from St. Andrews, early in the month of December (1559), Whitelaw informed Sadler that the Duke was gone to take Lord Semple’s house. Whitelaw, however, is not always a reliable witness; neither is Sadler. Both of them sometimes repeat the merest gossip. On September 27 the latter wrote to Cecil saying that a commission had been given to the Earl of Glencairn and the Laird of Dun to suppress the Abbey of Paisley,* and two days later he conveyed to the same quarter the report made to him by the same Whitelaw that the Abbeys of Paisley, Kilwinning, and Dunfermline had been suppressed. The statements are quite unsupported.

To the Catholic Church in Scotland the year 1560 was disastrous. To Hamilton it was the beginning of the end. In February one of his chaplains, who was following the French troops in Fife, was taken with a list of the names of those whom the Archbishop desired to be saved from spoliation.4 A few days later Hamilton was greatly discouraged, and desired “ some poor place to retire to ” ; but after staying for a few days with the Queen Dowager, he appears to have regained his spirits. On June 21, Randolph wrote to Killegrew :—“ We think to see next Sunday the Lady Stanehouse, by whom the Bishop of St. Andrews has had without shame five or six children, openly repent herself,” i.e., before the congregation in the Church of S. Giles, Edinburgh. In July, Hamilton was in Paisley, where “he has had private masse since he came,” and “ perseveres,” Randolph goes on to inform Cecil, “ a sore enemy to this cause as much as he is able to do with his tongue, for otherwise he has not much wherewith to do.” On August 15, Hamilton was in Edinburgh, when he dined with the Duke, who expressed himself as having great hopes of winning him round to sign the contract. Two days later the Estates met and adopted the Confession of Faith. Hamilton was present, but made no strenuous opposition to its passing, excusing himself from doing so on the ground that he was not ready to give an opinion, because he was not sufficiently acquainted with the book. But when he saw how completely the Reformers intended to destroy the old Church, he ventured to remonstrate and to counsel moderation.

The day of moderation, however, was past, and Hamilton was soon to learn that passion and violence alone would prevail. On August 24, the jurisdiction of the Pope in Scotland was formally abolished. To say or hear mass was made a criminal offence, punishable on the first occasion with confiscation of goods; on the second, with banishment; and on the third, with death. Three days later Hamilton was deprived of his livings. In October there was a rumour that he was “ like to become a good Protestant,” though “ my Lord of Arran is not so easy of belief, that he will credit much before he see some token of heartier repentance than I can think will proceed out of so dissembled a heart.” So Grange wrote to Randolph. Before the year was out, however, one piece of good fortune came to the distressed Archbishop. Writing to Cecil, on October 7, Randolph informed him that the Duke had restored to Hamilton the Abbey of Paisley.

Things had been going equally ill during the year with the Archbishop’s friend and Bailie, Lord Semple. In the month of July a treaty had been concluded between the ambassadors of England and France, acting on behalf of Scotland, by which it was agreed that there should be a general peace and reconciliation among all the lords and commons and that there should be “no convocation of men of war, but in the ordinary cause approved by the law and custom of the realm.” But Robert Lord Semple, along with others, it was complained to the Privy Council, had, in spite of this, committed many slaughters and “ heirschippis,” burned houses and corn, and “ kest down stane howsis only on private feuds with his party.” Instead of appearing before the Justice-General to answer for this, he had set himself to fortify and garrison Castle Semple, and had “ off new fortit ane hows within ane ile in the loch of Lochquhinyeoch,” daily reiving and spoiling, “ not sparand to sla auld men of fowr skoir yeris off age, lyand decrippit in thair beddis.” In August the Lords heard that he had lately retired to Dunbar, then held by Captain Charlebois for the French, and left Castle Semple in the charge of his son, with a strong garrison. A messenger was at once sent to Charlebois to demand that the rebel lord should be delivered to the Justice-General at Edinburgh. Charlebois refused ; and, when the demand was repeated in tho following month, refused again, maintaining that Semple, being in the King and Queen’s service, was no rebel, and that before he could accede to the demand it was necessary that he should have their Majesties’ command.

Meantime the Earl of Glencairn had been collecting men and artillery in order to besiege Semple’s stronghold. From Glasgow the Earl of Arran had sent to demand the surrender of the castle from the Master of Semple, who had replied that, as his father had put him there, he would be loth to do anything contrary to his command, but was quite willing to ascertain what his father would agree to. The date of this is not quite clear2; but on Wednesday, September 18, an attack was made upon the place by a few “hagbutters” under the command of the Earl of Glencairn’s brother, who apparently penetrated within the enclosure and carried off a number of sheep in proof of his prowess. The negotiations with Lord Semple came to nothing, and early in the month of October Arran appeared before the place, prepared to besiege it. For seven days he was unable to do anything in consequence of a violent storm. So “evil” was the weather, Randolph reported to Cecil, “that neither approach could be made nor artillery planted.” But “his ardent desire and his servants’ good will was such,” he told Maitland, “ that the eighth day in the morning the artillery was placed so nigh that it ‘astunysshed' his enemies and was to be wondered at of all men that beheld it.” By three o’clock in the afternoon of the following day the artillery had played with such effect that the gate-house tower fell “one half from the other,” giving entry to the besiegers, but the defence was so stout that they were obliged to retire. Next morning, however, “ a whyte bannard ” was hung out, and the place was surrendered, October 19, 1560.

The castle and peel were left in charge of Captain Forbes, with ten men; also “ the things in the house reserved unspoiled, not worth 40 crowns, besides the artillery and victuals whereof they had good store.” The soldiers were all dismissed well pleased—the one side happy to escape with their lives, the other well rewarded above their wages—and “ the country round,” Randolph continues, “ well delivered of such combersome neighbours, and think this a good example to others.” “To rehearse our incommodities,” he adds, “ were too good a pastime for you to know. Never,” he declares, “ was camp better victualled, saving lack of houseroom and fire. My Lord and his nearest friends lodged in a barn, ‘ wher I was my self the least of vi that lay in one bedde.’” The Master of Semple was carried by his captors to Hamilton, where they were all “ merry ” on the day after the surrender. Lord Semple was reported to have sailed from Dunbar for France. The report, however, was untrue. His son, the Master of Semple, pled his cause with the Duke and others, and in February of the following year he was released from the horn.

In the month of June, 1561, the “ suppression ” of the Abbey of Paisley, which had probably often been threatened, actually occurred. The only account given of this sacrilegious deed is from the hand of Knox. Knox is not always a reliable authority, but in this matter, so much to his taste, he may probably be wholly relied on. The Lords of the Privy Council, he says, “maid ane act, that all places and monumentis of ydolatrie suld be destroyit. And for that purpose wes directed to the West, the Erie of Arrane, having joyned with him the Erlis of Argyle and Glencarne, togidder with the Protestantes of the West: quha burnt Paislay (the Bishop [of St. Andrews, its Abbot] narrowlie escapit), kest doun Failfurd, Kilwynning, and a part of Corsragwell.” Glencairn and his rabble appear to have done their work effectually. The buildings were partly pulled down, a great part of the Abbey Church was destroyed, its splendid tabernacle was broken up, the chandelier and other furnishings which Tervas and his successors had so laboriously accumulated were shattered to pieces, the altars in the church were thrown down, the tombs of kings rifled, and the whole place, which for centuries had been the chief ecclesiastical centre and ornament of the county, and which was capable of being turned to good and profitable uses, was desecrated and left in ruins.

Probably with the Abbey went the other churches and chapels in the town, and among them the ancient church of S. Mirin in the Seedhill and the church of S. Roque in Broomlands. It is scarcely likely that these furious iconoclasts would leave anything they could reach untouched, and as they marched along they would hurl to the ground every cross or chapel or sign of religion that came in their way.

The effect which all this was having upon the people of the county is extremely difficult to make out. Whether it was inclining them towards the new doctrines or setting them against them, there is little or no evidence. In the spring of 1556, Knox preached and administered the Lord’s Supper in Finlaystone, but the preaching was evidently done in private, and those present when he “ ministrat the Lord’s Table ” were only Lord and Lady Glencairn, two of their sons and certain other friends—a proof that at that time the doctrines of the Reformers had not made much way in the county or even upon Lord Glencairn’s estate there. A description of those who assisted the Earls in the destruction of the Abbey of Paisley might throw some light upon the subject, but, in the absence of any such description, we are under no necessity of supposing that any of the iconoclasts, with the exception of Glencairn himself and perhaps a few of his followers, belonged to Renfrewshire. In Paisley, at least, the Reformers seem to have had no following. As soon as Glencairn and his rabble were gone, Hamilton returned and continued to say mass unmolested, and nearly ten years had to elapse before a Protestant minister was appointed to the town.

In 1562 the Catholics resolved to hold the festival of Easter with something of the old pomp. For celebrating the festival in Paisley, Hamilton and thirteen others were, on May 19, arraigned before the Earl of Argyll, as hereditary Lord Justice-General, in the Court of Session.2 Scant courtesy was shown to the Archbishop. He was compelled to take his place in the dock as an ordinary criminal. Knox, who had carefully warned Argyll not to be absent from the trial, gloated over the incident. “ A merry man,” he wrote, “ who now sleeps in the Lord, Robert Norwell, instead of the bishop’s cross, carried bare before him a steel hammer, whereat the Bishop and his band were not a little offended, because the Bishop’s privileges were not then current in Scotland.” The penalty was death, but the Archbishop and his associates came under the Queen’s will and were warded in different parts of the country. Hamilton was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle. According to Knox, his imprisonment was not severe. “ The Lady Erskine (a sweet morsel

for the devil’s mouth),” he says, “gat the Bishop for her part.” In July, William Semple of Thirdpart, in Kilbarchan, and Michael Naismyth of Posso, became sureties for him, and he was set free.

In 1566 Hamilton baptised the Queen’s son, James VI., at Stirling Castle, according to the ritual of the Roman Church, to the great scandal of the Reformers. The same year he was restored to the consistorial rights he had possessed as Archbishop of St. Andrews, and one of his first acts was to divorce Bothwell from Lady Jane Gordon ; but, on the representation of Moray, the grant of jurisdiction was withdrawn. Later on, Hamilton was re-appointed one of the Lords of the Articles, and was soon again the leading spirit of the Catholic party. His name appears in the Dumbarton band. He refused to be present at the coronation of James VI., and took an active part, along with his nephew, Claud Hamilton, the Commendator of Paisley, and others, in furthering the escape of Mary from Lochleven Castle.

The Queen’s escape from Lochleven Castle was the precursor of the downfall and ruin of the Catholic party, and it was at Langside, in the parish of Cathcart, that its ruin was wrought. From Lochleven, Mary rode straight to the Ferry, crossed the Firth and galloped to Niddry, the residence of Lord Seton, being met on the way by Claud Hamilton with about fifty horse. After a few hours’ rest, she again took horse and rode to Hamilton, where she deemed herself safe. The Regent Moray was at Glasgow, about eight miles off, where he was holding a session of justiciary for the trial of criminals, attended only by the officers of the law and his personal servants. At Hamilton Mary found herself at the head of about six thousand men, and desired to avoid bloodshed. Moray acted promptly. Missives were at once issued for the assembling of his friends, and he was soon surrounded by about four thousand. Among his supporters were the Lords Glencairn, Morton, and Lennox. He was advised to retreat, but refused, and drew up his troops in battle array on the muir of Glasgow. Mary wished to take refuge in Dumbarton Castle. The Hamiltons, on the other hand, seeing themselves the stronger party, hoped by an engagement to crush Moray and to obtain an ascendancy over the Queen and Government. The Queen succeeded so far that her supporters consented to march with her from Hamilton to Dumbarton. The van, 2000 strong, was commanded by Lord Claud Hamilton. He defiled

behind Clincart Hill, on which the Queen’s artillery was posted, and proceeded along the Bus’ an’ Aik Road, so as to storm the village of Langside. On reaching the Lang Loan he was suddenly assailed from hedges which lined the narrow road on both sides, by a number of hagbutters who had been brought by Grange across the Clyde and placed there to intercept him. But, confident in his numbers, Lord Claud pressed on up the steep hill that lay before him. When arrived at the summit, his men, exhausted with the climb, came face to face with Moray’s advance, composed of the flower of the Border pikemen, under the command of Morton, who, without giving the Hamiltons time to regain their breath, ordered the charge. It was here that most of the heavy fighting took place. For a time the victory seemed doubtful; but a well-directed charge by Grange on Hamilton’s flank compelled him to fall back upon the main body of the Queen’s troops, which at once threw the whole army into confusion and resulted in a headlong flight.

Meanwhile the Queen was eagerly watching the fight from the Court Knowe, a hill about two hundred yards to the east of Cathcart Castle. Among those who were by her was Archbishop Hamilton, whose two sons were on the field.1 When she saw that all was over, finding it impossible to reach Dumbarton, the Queen fled in terror, and never drew rein till she reached Sanquhar, on her way to Dundrennan Abbey. Archbishop Hamilton and Claud Hamilton were among those who accompanied her. The Archbishop urged her not to place herself in the power of Elizabeth. Lord Claud accompanied her in her flight to England, while the Archbishop returned and took refuge in Dumbarton Castle, where he afterwards wrote to Elizabeth demanding the release of Mary, and to the Duke of Alva asking for help against the English Queen.

When Parliament assembled in the following August, the Archbishop was forfeited and the Abbey of Paisley given to his bailie, Lord Semple, who in the meantime had gone over to the Protestants, and, according to one account, was the Regent’s most influential adviser on the eve of the battle of Langside. The Archbishop is said to have been one of those who received Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh with congratulations after his assassination of the Regent Moray. In the confusion that followed that event, the Archbishop returned to Paisley and took possession of the Abbey, which, according to a letter he wrote to Queen Elizabeth in defence of his seizure of the place, was standing “ waist,” or empty, and there was “ na man in it, but onlie ane boy that had the key of the yeit.” He did not long retain possession of it. On February 14, 1570-1, Lennox, the Regent, accompanied by the Semples and a great force, passed to Paisley and laid siege to the Abbey. Three days later the defenders surrendered on condition that their lives should be spared. The condition was not observed. On March 7, thirty of the defenders were ruthlessly hanged on the Easter Burrow Muir of Glasgow.

On the 2nd of the following month the Castle of Dumbarton, to which the Archbishop had fled for refuge, was treacherously given up, and Hamilton fell into the hands of his enemies. Two days later he was conveyed, along with Fleming of Boghall, to Stirling, where on the 7th of the month he was accused before Lord Ruthven, the Lord Justice-Clerk, and George Buchanan, the Humanist and Pensioner of Crossraguel, of the murders of Darnley and the Regent Moray and of other crimes. The Archbishop pled not guilty, and protested his innocence, but was found guilty, chiefly, it would appear, on the evidence of a priest, Sir Thomas Robeson, sometime schoolmaster in Paisley, and “ as the bell struck at six hours at even, he was hanged at the Market Cross of Stirling upon the gibbet.” His body was quartered and his mangled remains are said to have been interred in the Abbey of Paisley, where there is still a tablet with the Archbishop’s arms, his initials, J. H., and the motto “ Misericordia et Pax.”

Archbishop Hamilton was neither great nor good. He was able and zealous. In an age when men changed sides in religion, as well as in politics, as readily as they changed their clothes, he was conspicuous for his fidelity to his Queen and Church. His unchastity can only be condemned. For their religious opinions he sent two victims to the stake, but in judging of this one has to remember the intolerance of the times, and that in a subsequent age many who plumed themselves on their godliness, sent many more to a similar fate, because they believed them to be workers of witchcraft and sorcery and to be in league with the devil.

By the death of Archbishop Hamilton the last formidable opponent of the spread of the doctrines of the Reformers in Renfrewshire was removed; but, as we shall see, prejudices in favour of the old Church still remained.


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