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The Great Historic Families of Scotland
The Homes


THE Homes are among the oldest and most celebrated of the historical families of Scotland. Their founder was descended from the Earls of Dunbar and March, who sprung from the Saxon kings of England and the princes of Northumberland. After the conquest of that country by William of Normandy, Cospatrick, the great Earl of Northumberland, and several other Saxon nobles connected with the northern counties, fled into Scotland in the year 1066, carrying with them Edgar Atheling, the heir of the Saxon line, and his two sisters, Margaret and Christina. Malcolm Canmore, who married the Princess Margaret, bestowed on the expatriated noble the manor of Dunbar, and broad lands in the Merse and the Lothians. Patrick, the second son of the third Earl of Dunbar, inherited from his father the manor of Greenlaw, and having married his cousin Ada, daughter of the fifth Earl by his wife, a natural daughter of William the Lion, obtained with her the lands of Home (pronounced Hume), in Berwickshire, from which the designation of the family was taken. The armorial bearings of his ancestors, the Earls of Dunbar, which were a white lion on a red field, were assumed by him on a green field for a difference, referring to his paternal estate of Greenlaw.

Under the protection of their potent kinsman, the De Homes flourished and extended their possessions, and kept vigilant ‘watch and ward’ on the Eastern Marches against the incursions of the Northumbrian freebooters. One of their chiefs, a Sir John de Home, was so conspicuous for his successful forays across the Border, always fighting in a white jacket, that he obtained from the English the sobriquet of ‘Willie with the White Doublet.’ The son of this redoubtable Border chief acquired the estate of Dunglass (from which the second title of the family is taken) by his marriage to the heiress of Nicholas Pepdie, in the reign of Robert III. The second son of this couple was the founder of the warlike family of Wedderburn, from which the Earls of Marchmont are descended.

Hitherto the De Homes had acknowledged as their feudal lords the Earls of Dunbar and March, the heads of the great house from which they sprung, who, from their vast possessions and their strong castle of Dunbar, on the eastern Border, having the keys of the kingdom at their girdle, as they boasted, were among the most powerful nobles in the kingdom. Partly from ambition, partly, it would appear, from a hereditary fickleness of character, these barons were noted for the frequency with which they changed sides in the wars between England and Scotland. The eleventh Earl was in the end unfairly deprived of his earldom, castles, and estates by James I., towards the middle of the fifteenth century, in pursuance of his policy to break down the power of the great nobles. As some compensation for this treatment, the King conferred upon him the title of Earl of Buchan, but he indignantly refused to accept of the honour, and sought an asylum in England, from which he never afterwards returned. His father, the tenth Earl of Dunbar and March, who was one of the heroes of Otterburn, in consequence of the manner in which the contract of marriage between his daughter and the Duke of Rothesay was broken off (see THE DOUGLASES), renounced his allegiance for a time to his sovereign; the De Homes, his kinsmen, abandoned his banner, and fought against him and Harry Percy at the sanguinary battle of Homildon, where their chief, SIR ALEXANDER HOME, was taken prisoner. On regaining his liberty he accompanied the Earl of Douglas (Shakespeare’s Earl, nicknamed Tineman) to France, shared in his triumphs and disasters, and fell along with him at the battle of Verneuil, in 1424, where the Scottish auxiliaries were almost annihilated. Sir Alexander’s second son, THOMAS, was the ancestor of the Homes of Tyningham and the Humes of Ninewells, the family of which David Hume, the philosopher and historian, was a member.

After the final overthrow of the Earls of Dunbar and March, in January, 1436, the Homes succeeded to a portion of their vast estates, and to a great deal of their power on the Borders as Wardens of the Eastern Marches. SIR ALEXANDER HOME, the head of the family, was created a peer by the title of LORD HOME, 2nd August, 1473, and seems to have possessed considerable diplomatic ability, as he was frequently employed by James Ill, in carrying out important negotiations with the English Court. His father and his uncle had held in succession the office of bailie of the lands belonging to the monastery of Coldingham, and he induced the prior and chapter to make the office hereditary in his family. He exerted all his influence in that situation to obtain possession of the large conventual property, and indeed seized and appropriated it to his own use. He was, therefore, greatly irritated by the attempt of King James, with the consent of the Pope, to attach the revenues of the priory to the Chapel Royal at Stirling, and joined the disaffected nobles in their conspiracy against that ill-fated sovereign. His Border spearmen contributed not a little to the defeat and death of James at Sauchie. The Homes obtained a liberal share of the fruits of the victory gained by the rebellious barons. The revenues of Coldingham, the prize for which Lord Home had rebelled and fought against his sovereign, were allowed to remain in his possession, and ALEXANDER HOME, second baron, his grandson and heir, was appointed immediately after the murder of James to the office of Steward of Dunbar, and obtained besides a large share of the administration of the Lothians and Berwickshire. He was also sworn a Privy Councillor in 1488, and was appointed for life to the important office of Great Chamberlain of Scotland. In 1489 he was nominated Warden of the East Marches for seven years, and at the same time was made captain of the castle of Stirling, and governor of the young King. The tuition of John, Earl of Mar, the brother of James IV., was likewise committed to this potent noble. He obtained also a charter of the bailiery of Ettrick Forest, and in the following year was appointed by the Estates to collect the royal rents and dues within the earldom of March and barony of Dunbar. In 1497 Lord Home repaired to the royal standard with his retainers when James IV. invaded England in support of the pretensions of Perkin Warbeck. In retaliation for his ravages in Northumberland and Durham, an English army, under the Earl of Surrey, laid waste the estates of the Homes, and ‘demolished old Ayton Castle, the strongest of their forts,’ as Ford terms it, in his dramatic chronicle of ‘Perkin Warbeck.’

The Homes had now gained a position in the foremost rank of the great nobles of Scotland, and ALEXANDER, the third lord, who succeeded to the vast estates of the family in 1506, elevated them to the highest summit of rank and power ever attained by their house. In 1507 he was appointed to the office of Lord Chamberlain, which had been held by his father, and succeeded him also in the wardenship of the Eastern Marches.

When war was about to break out between James IV. and his brother-in-law, Henry VIII., Lord Home, at the head of three or four thousand men, made a foray into England and pillaged and burned several villages or hamlets on the Borders. On their return home laden with booty, and marching carelessly and without order, the invaders fell into an ambush laid for them by Sir William Bulmer among the tall broom on Millfield Plain, near Woler, and were surprised and defeated with great slaughter. According to the English chronicler, Holinshead, five or six hundred were slain in the conflict, and four hundred were taken prisoners, among whom was Sir George Home, the brother of Lord Home. Buchanan, however, estimates the number of prisoners at two hundred, and says that it was the rear only which fell into the ambuscade, while the other portion of the force with their plunder arrived safely in Scotland.

This mortifying reverse deeply incensed the Scottish king, and made him doubly impatient to commence hostilities in order to avenge the defeat sustained by his Warden.

When James took the field shortly after, Lord Home brought a powerful array of his followers to the royal banner, in that campaign which terminated in the fatal battle of Flodden. The Homes and the Gordons, under Lord Huntly, formed the vanguard of the Scottish army in that engagement, and commenced the battle by a furious charge on the English right wing, under Sir Edmund Howard, which they threw into confusion and totally routed. Sir Edmund’s banner was taken, he himself was beaten down and placed in imminent danger, and with difficulty escaped to the division commanded by his brother, the Admiral. The old English ballad on ‘Flodden Field’ thus describes Home’s attack on the English vanguard :—

‘With whom encountered a strong Scot,
Which was the King’s chief Chamberlain,
Lord Home by name, of courage hot,
Who manfully marched them again.

‘Ten thousand Scots, well tried and told
Under his standard stout he led;
When the Englishmen did them behold
For fear at first they would have fled.’

Lord Dacre, who commanded the English reserve, however, advanced to Sir Edmund’s support, and kept the victorious Homes and Gordons in check. He states, in a letter to the English Council, dated May 17th, 1514, that on the field of Brankston he and his friends encountered the Earl of Huntly and the Chamberlain; that Sir John Home, Cuthbert Home of Fast Castle, the son and heir of Sir John Home, Sir William Cockburn of Langton, and his son, the son and heir of Sir David Home [of Wedderburn], the laird of Blacater, and many other of Lord Home’s kinsmen and friends, were slain; and that on the other hand Philip Dacre, brother of Lord Dacre, was taken prisoner by the Scots, and many other of his kinsfolk, servants, and tenants, were either taken or slain in the struggle. Sir David Home of Wedderburn had seven sons in the battle, who were called ‘The Seven Spears of Wedderburn.’ Sir David himself and his eldest son, George, fell in the conflict with Lord Dacre. These facts completely disprove the charge made against the chief of the Homes that he remained inactive after defeating the division under Sir Edmund Howard. It is alleged, however, by Pitscottie, that when the Earl of Huntly urged Lord Home to go to the assistance of the King, he replied, ‘He does well that does well for himself; we have fought our vanguard and won the same, therefore let the lave [rest] do their part as well as we.’ This statement, however, is in the highest degree improbable, and is directly at variance with the account which Lord Dacre gives of his conflict with the Homes, after they had defeated Sir Edmund Howard’s division. It seems to have been invented by the enemies of Home, who, though he fought with conspicuous courage in the battle, incurred great odium in consequence of his having returned unhurt and loaded with spoil [The baggage.waggons were drawn up behind Edmund Howard’s division—a fact which may account for the Borderers having secured so much spoil.] from this fatal conflict. It was even alleged that he had carried off the King from the battlefield and afterwards put him to death. A preposterous story passed current among the credulous of that day that in the twilight, when the battle was nearly ended, four horsemen mounted the King on a dun hackney and conveyed him across the Tweed with them at nightfall. From that time he was never seen or heard of, but it was asserted that he was murdered either in Home Castle or near Kelso by the vassals of Lord Home. This absurd tale was revived about fifty or sixty years ago by a popular writer, who gave credit to a groundless rumour that a skeleton wrapped in a bull’s hide and surrounded with an iron chain had been found in the well of Home Castle. Sir Walter Scott says he could never find any better authority for the story than the sexton of the parish having said that if the well were cleaned out he would not be surprised at such a discovery. Lord Home had no motive to commit such a crime. He was the chamberlain of the King, and his chief favourite; and, as it has been justly remarked, he had much to lose (in fact, did lose all) in consequence of James’s death, and had nothing earthly to gain by that event.

Six months after the battle of Flodden, Lord Home was nominated one of the standing councillors of Queen Margaret, who had been chosen Regent, and was also appointed Chief Justice of all the country south of the Forth. He was deeply implicated in all the intrigues of that turbulent and factious period of Scottish history, and was alternately on the side of the Queen Dowager and of Albany, who succeeded her as Regent after her marriage to the Earl of Angus. He protected Margaret in her flight into England in 1516, and concocted with Lord Dacre measures to overthrow the Government of the Regent. In revenge for these proceedings Albany marched into the Merse at the head of a powerful army, overran and ravaged Home’s estates, captured Home Castle, his principal stronghold, and razed Fast Castle, another of his fortalices, to the ground. Under pretence of granting him an amnesty and a pardon, Albany induced Home to meet him at Dunglass, where he was treacherously arrested and committed a prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh, then under the charge of the Earl of Arran, his brother-in-law. He contrived, however, to prevail on Arran, not only to let him escape from prison, but to accompany him in his flight into England. A few months later Home made his peace with the Regent and was restored to his estates on condition that if ever he rebelled again he should be brought to trial for his old offences. But, unmindful of the warning he had received, and disregarding his promise, he speedily renewed his treasonable intrigues with Lord Dacre, the English Warden, who hired Home’s retainers to plunder and lay waste the country, so that, as Dacre himself admits, the Eastern Marches were a prey to constant robberies, fire-raisings, and murders. Incensed at this behaviour, Albany resolved that he would no longer show forbearance to this factious and turbulent baron, and having by fair promises induced him and his brother William to visit Holyrood, in September, 1516, he caused them both to be arrested, by the advice of the Council, tried on an accusation of treason, condemned and executed. Their heads were exposed above the Tolbooth and their estates confiscated. Buchanan mentions that one of the charges brought against the Chamberlain was that he was accessory to the defeat at Flodden and the death of the King, which shows at what an early period this unfounded report was prevalent. The historian adds that the accusation, though strongly expressed, being feebly supported by proof, was withdrawn. Another brother, David Home, Prior of Coldingham, was shortly after assassinated by the Hepburns. The execution of Lord Home was keenly resented by his vassals and retainers. Among the fierce Border race the exaction of blood for blood was regarded as a sacred duty. Albany himself retired to France and thus escaped their vengeance, but they determined to revenge the death of their chief by slaying the Regent’s friend, the Sieur de la Bastie, a gallant and accomplished French knight, whom he had appointed Warden of the Eastern Marches in the room of Lord Home. For this purpose, David Home of Wedderburn and some other friends of the late noble pretended to lay siege to the tower of Langton, in the Merse of Berwickshire, which belonged to their allies and accomplices, the Cockburns. On receiving intelligence of this outrage, the Warden, who was residing at Dunbar, hastened to the spot accompanied by a slender train (19th September, 1517). He was immediately surrounded and assailed by the Homes, and, perceiving that his life was menaced, he attempted to save himself by flight. His ignorance of the country, however, unfortunately led him into a morass near the town of Dunse, where he was overtaken and cruelly butchered by John and Patrick Home, younger brothers of the laird of Wedderburn. That ferocious chief himself cut off the head of the Warden, knitted it in savage triumph to his saddle-bow by its long flowing locks, which are said to be still preserved in the charter-chest of the family, and galloping into Dunse, he affixed the ghastly trophy of his vengeance to the market cross. The Parliament, which assembled at Edinburgh on the 19th of February, 1518, passed sentence of forfeiture against David Home of Wedderburn, his three brothers, and their accomplices in this murder. The Earl of Arran, a member of the Council of Regency, assembled a powerful army and marched towards the Borders for the purpose of enforcing the sentence. The Homes, finding resistance hopeless, submitted to his authority. The keys of Home Castle were delivered to Arran, and the Border towers of Wedderburn and Langton were also surrendered to him. The actual perpetrators of the murder, however, made their escape into England, and it is a striking proof of the weakness and remissness of the Government at that time that none of them were ever brought to trial or punishment for their foul crime.

[David Home, the leader in the plot for the murder of De Ia Bastie, was one of the ‘Seven Spears of Wedderburn,’ who fought at Flodden, where his father and eldest brother were killed. He seems to have been as noted for his ferocity and blood-thirstiness as for his bravery. He was so powerful in the Merse that it was said ‘none almost pretended to go to Edinburgh, or anywhere else out of the country, without first both asking and obtaining his leave.’ Blackadder, Prior of Coldingham, however, refused to submit to his arbitrary control and claims; and Home, meeting him one day while he was following the sports of the chase, assassinated him and six of his attendants. His brother, the Dean of Dunblane, shared the same fate. The object which the Homes had in view was to obtain possession of the estate of Blackadder, that had belonged to Andrew Black-adder, who fell at Flodden, leaving a widow and two daughters, at that time mere children. The Homes attacked the castle of Blackadder, where the widow and her daughters resided. The garrison made a brave resistance, but were ultimately obliged to surrender. The widow was compelled to marry Sir David Home, and her two daughters were contracted to his younger brothers, John and Robert (the former one of the murderers of De la Bastie), and were closely confined in the castle until they came of age. The estate was entailed in the male line, and should have passed to Sir John Blackadder of Tulliallan, but he was waylaid and assassinated by the Homes in 1526, and they ultimately succeeded in retaining possession of the estate by force.]

The forfeited title and estates of Lord Home, who left no male issue, were restored, in 1522, to his brother GEORGE, who became fourth Lord. Like his predecessors, be appears to have possessed the fickleness and instability of character which the family probably inherited from their versatile ancestors, the Earls of March. He deserted the party of the Earl of Angus—Queen Margaret’s second husband—whom the Homes had hitherto supported, and became for a time a strenuous partisan of Albany, probably in return for the restitution of the family estates and honours. But two or three years later he was found fighting on the side of Angus at the battle of Melrose, where Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch made an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the young King, James V., from the hands of the Douglases. Shortly after he assisted the Earl of Argyll in driving Angus across the Border and compelling him to take refuge in England. It is due to Lord Home, however, to state that, though thus inconstant in his adherence to the cause of his brother nobles, the remark which Sir James Melvil made respecting his son is equally applicable to him, that ‘he was so true a Scotsman that he was unwinnable to England to do any thing prejudicial to his country.’ There were very few Scottish nobles of that day of whom this could with truth be said. In August, 1542, Lord Home, along with the Earl of Huntly, defeated, at Haddon-Rig, a few miles to the east of Kelso, a body of three thousand horsemen, who were laying waste the country under the command of Sir Robert Bowes, the English Warden, the banished Earl of Angus, and Sir George Douglas. The encounter was fierce and protracted and was decided in favour of the Scots by the timely arrival of Lord Home with four hundred lances. The English were completely defeated, and left six hundred prisoners in the hands of the victors, among whom were the Warden himself, his brother, and other persons of note. A few months later, in conjunction with Huntly and Seton, Home did good service by harassing a formidable army which invaded Scotland under the Duke of Norfolk, and compelling him in little more than a week to retire to Berwick and disband his forces. In a skirmish with the English horsemen, on the 9th of September, 1547, the day before the battle of Pinkie, Lord Home, who commanded the Scottish cavalry, was thrown from his horse and severely injured, and his son, the Master of Home, was taken prisoner. His lordship was carried to the castle of Edinburgh, where he died. His wife, a co-heiress of the old family of the Halyburtons of Dirleton, stoutly defended Home Castle against the Protector Somerset, but was ultimately obliged to surrender, and it was garrisoned by a detachment of English troops. Lord Home left two sons and a daughter.

ALEXANDER, his elder son, fifth Baron, was a true representative of his family both in its strength and its weakness. He was personally brave, and fought with great distinction against the English invaders in the campaign of 1548 and 1549. Unlike a large body of the nobles, he steadfastly supported the independence of the country, and was proof against the bribes and threats of the Protector Somerset and his agents. He recovered Home Castle from the enemy in a very daring manner. A small band of his retainers, who were on the watch for an opportunity of surprising it, perceiving on a certain night that the guards had relaxed their vigilance, boldly scaled the precipitous rock on which the fortress was built, and, killing the sentinel, obtained possession of the castle without difficulty. Fast Castle, another fortalice of the family, was retaken in a manner equally adventurous. A number of armed men concealed themselves in the waggons which were bringing a supply of provisions for the garrison. Suddenly starting out of their hiding-place, the Scots seized the castle gates and admitted a strong body of their countrymen, who were waiting their signal in the immediate vicinity of the fort. The garrison being taken unawares, were easily overpowered, and the place secured. Lord Home was appointed to the office of Warden of the Eastern Marches, so often held by his ancestors, and was one of the commissioners who negotiated the treaty between England and Scotland at Norham in 1559. He supported the Reformation, and sat in the Parliament which abolished Popery and established the Protestant Church in 1560; but in 1565 he attached himself to the party of Mary and Darnley, who in the following year, with a splendid retinue, visited the family castles of Home, Wedderburn, and Langton. He seemed to stand so high in the favour of the Queen at this time that it was expected that the ancient title of Earl of March would be revived in his favour. He was one of the nobles who signed the discreditable bond in favour of the Queen’s marriage to Bothwell, but only a few weeks later he joined the association for the defence of the infant King, her son, and along with the Earls of Morton, Mar, Glencairn, and Athole, Lords Lindsay, Ruthven, Graham, and Ochiltree, he subscribed the order for Mary’s imprisonment in Lochleven Castle. After the Queen’s escape from that fortalice, Home brought a body of six hundred spearmen to the assistance of the Regent Moray at the battle of Langside, where he was wounded both in the face and the leg; but the fierce charge of the Border spearmen contributed not a little to the defeat of the Queen’s army. In 1569, however, he once more changed sides, and joined Queen Mary’s party. He assisted Kirkaldy of Grange and Maitland of Lethington in holding out the castle of Edinburgh to the last against Regent Morton; but on its surrender in May, 1573, he was more fortunate than his associates, for though he was brought to trial before the Parliament and convicted of treason, he was pardoned, and obtained the restoration of his estates. He died 11th August, 1575.

ALEXANDER, sixth Lord Home, stood high in the favour of King James VI., by whom he was created Earl of Home and Baron Douglas, 4th March, 1605.

In the Parliament held in 1578 Lord Home obtained the reversal of the forfeiture passed against his father for his adherence to the party of Queen Mary. David Home of Godscroft represents this as having been mainly brought about by the intervention of his brother, Sir George Home of Wedderburn, with the Earl of Morton; and, according to Godscroft, it was against the will and judgment of the Regent that Wedderburn’s mediation was effectual. The affair affords a striking illustration of the influence of the feeling of clan-ship and fidelity to the chief overpowering even the dictates of self-interest. Morton frankly informed Sir George Home that ‘he thought it not his best course.’ ‘For,’ he said, ‘you will never get any good out of that house, and if it were once taken out of the way you are next; and it may be you will get small thanks for your pains.’ Sir George answered that ‘the Lord Home was his chief, and he could not see his house ruined. If they were unkind, that would be their own fault. This he thought himself bound to do. And for his own part, whatsoever their carriage were to him, he would do his duty to them. If his chief should turn him out at the fore-door, he would come in again at the back-door.’ ‘Well,’ said Morton, ‘if you be so minded it shall be so. I can do no more but tell you my opinion.’ And so he consented. [History of the House of Douglas, ii. p. 260.]

The Earl appears, however, to have been largely imbued with the ferocity of the Borderers. It is mentioned by Patrick Anderson that in May, 1593, Lord Home came to Lauder, and asked for William Lauder, bailie of that burgh, commonly called William at the West Fort, being the man who hurt John Cranston (nicknamed John with the Gilt Sword). Lauder fled to the Tolbooth, as being the strongest and surest house for his relief; but the Lord Home caused put fire to the house, and burnt it all. The gentleman remained therein till the roof-tree fell. In the end he came desperately out amongst them, and hazarded a shot of a pistol at John Cranston, and hurt him; but it being impossible to escape with life, they most cruelly, without mercy, hacked him with swords and whingers all in pieces.’

Lady Marischal, sister of Lord Home, ‘hearing the certainty of the cruel murder of William Lauder, did mightily rejoice thereat, and writ it for good news to sundry of her friends in the country. But within less than twenty-four hours after, the lady took a swelling in her throat, both without and within, after a great laughter, and could not be cured till death seized upon her with great repentance.’

A remission for this barbarous slaughter was granted by the King in 1606 to the Earl of Home, Hume of Hutton Hall, Thomas Tyrie, tutor of Drunkilbo, John Hume in Kells, and other persons. [Domestic Annals of Scotland, i. pp. 299, 300; Pitcairn’s Criminal Trials, pp. ixi-16.]

A conspiracy of Bothwell and certain discontented nobles, in 1593-4, for the seizure of the King’s person, was directed also against Home and other Popish leaders, who were to have been put to death; but it was fortunately detected in time, and Home was ordered by the King to encounter Bothwell when he was advancing to attack the capital. Home’s forces were put to the rout, but Bothwell, who had been thrown from his horse, was so severely injured that he made no attempt to follow up his success. When the Popish lords were excommunicated by the Assembly, Home escaped that sentence by making professions of penitence, and promising to sign the Confession of Faith, to attend public worship in the Reformed Church, and to abstain from all intercourse with Jesuits and seminary priests. The Assembly, on this, ordained that he should be formally released by the Moderator from the spiritual burden under which, according to his own profession, he was suffering so much distress of mind. The Earl died in April, 1619. His only son, JAMES, second Earl, was twice married, but died without issue.

The family titles devolved on the heir male, SIR JAMES HOME of Cowdenknowes, a descendant of the second son of the first Lord Home, who obtained from Charles I. a ratification of all the honours, privileges, and precedencies enjoyed by the two previous Earls. But the greater part of the extensive estates of the family were divided between the two sisters of the late Earl, one of whom was Countess of Moray, the other the Duchess of Lauderdale, the first wife of the notorious persecutor of the Covenanters.

The political power of the Homes was now at an end. The successive heads of this ancient, and at one time great house, were in no way distinguished for their abilities or activity, and shorn as they were of their territorial influence, they sank into obscurity. They were so unfortunate also as to espouse the losing side in the Great Civil War, and they suffered severely by pecuniary penalties for their loyalty. It would appear, however, that the Earl had at last become hopeless or lukewarm in the cause. He and the Earl of Roxburgh invited the Marquis of Montrose to the Borders after the battle of Kilsyth, but they were surprised by a party of Leslie’s men, and carried prisoners to Berwick. Montrose evidently suspected that there had been collusion between them and the Covenanting general, for in a letter which Sir Robert Spottiswood, who was with the Marquis, wrote to Lord Digby from Kelso, he says, ‘He [Montrose] was invited hereunto by the Earls of Roxburgh and Home, who, when he was within a dozen miles of them, have rendered themselves and their houses to David Leslie, and are carried in as prisoners to Berwick.’ The Earl was colonel of the Berwickshire regiment in the army of the ‘Engagement,’ levied in 1648 for the rescue of Charles I. As a ‘Malignant,’ he was of course excluded from the Covenanting forces which, under General David Leslie, were raised in behalf of Charles II. But after the battle of Dunbar and the capture of Edinburgh Castle in 1650, Cromwell, to whom the Earl seems to have been peculiarly obnoxious, despatched Colonel Fenwick to reduce Home Castle. Whitelock gives a somewhat amusing account of the reduction of this stronghold. ‘February 3rd, 1656. Letters that Colonel Fenwick summoned Home Castle to be surrendered to General Cromwell. The governor [whose name was Cockburn] answered, "I know not Cromwell; and as for my castle, it is built on a rock." Whereupon Colonel Fenwick played upon him a little with the great guns. But the governor still would not yield; nay, sent a letter couched in these singular terms:-

"I, William of the Wastle,
Am now in my castle,
And a’ the dogs in the toun
Shanna gar me gang doun."’

So that there remained nothing but opening the mortars upon this William of the Wastle, which did ‘gar him gang doun,’ and allow the castle to be garrisoned by English soldiers. These doggrel rhymes are familiar in the mouths of Scottish children down to the present day.

At the Restoration, Earl James was reinstated in his property; but that was only a mere fragment of the ancient patrimony of the family. He died in 1666. His eldest son ALEXANDER, fourth Earl, and his second son JAMES, fifth Earl, both died without issue. [It was Earl James who, when the Covenanters held a Communion in the open air at East Nisbet, on the banks of the Whitadder, was said to have ‘intended to assault the meeting with his men and militia, and profanely threatened to make their horses drink the Communion wine, and trample the sacred elements under foot.’ To protect the assembled multitude, amounting to at least four thousand persons, from molestation, pickets were appointed to reconnoitre the places from which danger was apprehended and a body of horse was drawn round the place of meeting, but no attempt was made to disturb them. ] CHARLES, sixth Earl, his youngest son, did not concur in the Revolution of 1668, and took a leading part in the opposition to the union with England; consequently his fortunes were not improved by the favour of the Court or of the Government. He died in 1706, while the Treaty of Union was pending. James Home, the second of his three sons, took part in the rebellion of 1715, and his estate was in consequence forfeited. The rental was at that time 323 10s. 5d., while that of Wedderburn, which was also forfeited, was only 213 0s. 10d. The Earl’s eldest son, ALEXANDER, was so strongly suspected of disaffection to the Government that on the breaking out of the rebellion in 1715 he was committed a prisoner to the castle of Edinburgh. The eldest of his six sons predeceased him; but WILLIAM, the second son and eighth Earl, wiser in his generation than his father and grandfather, supported the Government in the rebellion of 1745, displayed the hereditary valour of his house at the luckless battle of Prestonpans, where he strove, but in vain, to rally the panic-stricken dragoons, and was appointed Governor of Gibraltar, where he died in 1761, with the rank of Lieutenant-General in the British army. His three successors—one of whom, ALEXANDER, ninth Earl, was a clergyman of the Church of England—were obscure and uninfluential persons.

There was one of the chiefs of this fierce race, Sir David Home, whose character, as drawn by his son, the author of the ‘History of the House of Douglas,’ presents a pleasing contrast to that of his sanguinary predecessors. He was the first of his family who died a natural death, all the rest having lost their lives in defence of their country.

‘He was,’ says Godscroft, ‘a man remarkable for piety and probity, ingenuity [candour], and integrity; neither was he altogether illiterate, being well versed in the Latin tongue. He had the Psalms, and particularly some short sentences of them, always in his mouth, such as, "It is better to trust in the Lord than in the princes of the earth," "Our hope ought to be placed in God alone." He particularly delighted in the 146th Psalm, and sung it whilst he played on the harp with the most sincere and unaffected devotion. He was strictly just, utterly detesting all manner of fraud. I remember when a conversation happened among some friends about prudence and fraud, his son George happened to say that it was not unlawful to do a good action and for a good end, although it might be brought about by indirect methods, and that this was sometimes necessary. "What," says he, "George, do you call an indirect way? It is but fraud and deceit covered under a specious name, and never to be admitted by a good man." He himself always acted on this principle, and was so strictly just and so little desirous of what was his neighbour’s, that in the time of the Civil Wars, when Alexander, his chief, was forfeit for his defection from the Queen’s party, he might have had his whole patrimony and also the abbacy of Coldingham, but refused both the one and the other. When Patrick Lindsay desired that he would ask something from the Governor [Morton], as he was sure whatever he asked would be granted, he refused to ask anything, saying that he was content with his own. Lindsay still insisted, and told him, "If you do not get a share of our enemies’ estates, our party will never put sufficient trust in you." To this David answered, "If I never can give proofs of my fidelity otherwise than in that manner, I will never give any, let him doubt of it who may. I have hitherto lived content with my own, and will live so, nor do I want any more." Being educated in affluence, he delighted in fencing, hunting, riding, throwing the javelin, managing horses, and likewise in cards and dice; yet he was sufficiently careful of his affairs without doors. Those of a more domestic nature he committed to the care of his wife, and when he had none, to his servants; so that he neither increased nor diminished his patrimony. Godscroft, in the true spirit of his age, cites his father’s love to the house of Home as ‘not the least of his virtues.’ The chief was prejudiced against him, but ‘he bore it patiently, and never failed giving him all due honour.’ Ultimately Lord Home came to understand his real character, and to place in him that confidence which he so well merited.

Sir George Home, the son and successor of this worthy old laird, seems to have been a kindred spirit, and to have possessed accomplishments of no common order. His brother, David of Godscroft, mentions that he had been trained to pious habits by his parents, and completed his education at the Regent’s Court in company with the young Earl of Angus. He knew Latin and French, and acquired such an extensive knowledge of geography that though he had never been out of his own country, he could dispute with any one who had travelled in France or elsewhere. He learned the use of the triangle in measuring heights without any teaching, or ever having read of it; so that he may be said to have invented it.

‘He was diligent in reading the Sacred Scriptures, and not to little purpose. He was assiduous in settling controverted points, and, at table or over a bottle, he either asked other people’s opinions or freely gave his own. He had read a great deal when his public and private business allowed him. He likewise wrote meditations upon the Revelations, the soul, love of God, &c. He also gave some application to law, and even to physic. He was polite and unaffected in his manners. He sang after the manner of the Court. He likewise sang psaltery to his own playing on the harp. He also sometimes danced. He was very keen for hare-hunting, and delighted much in hawks. He rode skilfully, and sometimes applied himself to the breaking of the fiercest horses. He was skilful in the bow beyond most men of his time. He was able to endure cold, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and watching... He was moderate both in his eating and drinking, which was in those days scarce any praise, temperance being then frequent, though it is now very rare.’ [History of the House of Douglas.]

Meanwhile a junior branch of the family, the Humes of Polwarth, had risen to distinction and influence. Sir Patrick Hume, the head of the house during the latter part of the seventeenth century, was elevated to the earldom of Marchmont, and appointed Lord Chancellor of Scotland at the Revolution of 1688, as a reward for his sufferings in the cause of Presbyterianism and religious liberty under Charles II. and James VII. He acquired a considerable portion of the estates of the main line of the family, including Home Castle, the cradle of the race, and completely overshadowed them by his combined official and patrimonial influence.

The estates of the main stock of the family—which at one time extended from the Tweed to the German Ocean, and included a very extensive tract of the most fertile and highly cultivated land in Scotland—had by this time dwindled down to an inheritance of only two thousand acres, which at the commencement of the present century was rented at about 2,000 a year, and even at the present day yields a rental of only 5,000 per annum, while the moderate abilities of the owners did not counterbalance the insignificance of their patrimony. But the fortunate marriage of Cospatrick, eleventh Earl, to the heiress of the Douglas estates, has revived the decayed fortunes of this ancient house. His lordship was created a British peer in 1875 by the title of Baron Douglas. [See THE DOUGLASES.] The contrast between the fortunes of the two families is very striking. The estates of the Homes, as we have seen, have almost entirely passed into other hands, while the family itself is numerous and flourishing. The late Countess, who was the eldest daughter of the second Baron Montague, was the mother of five sons and four daughters. The main line of the house of Douglas has long been extinct, while their extensive possessions, in spite of their frequent rebellions against the royal authority and the consequent forfeitures and vicissitudes which they have undergone, for the most part remain unimpaired. It is to be hoped that the Homes, now restored to their former position in the foremost rank of our historical magnates, will long continue, as they well deserve, to flourish in Douglasdale. The present representative of the family is Charles Alexander Douglas-Home, twelfth Earl of Home and second Baron Douglas of the new creation.

Of the numerous branches of the Home family, the earliest, as well as the most powerful and prolific, were the Homes of Wedderburn, whose courage and savage cruelty have already been noticed. Their founder was Sir Thomas Home of Thurston, second son of Sir Thomas Home of Home, who obtained, in 1413, from Archibald, Earl of Douglas, a grant of the barony of Wedderburn, and became the ancestor of the Homes of Polwarth, Kimmerghame, Manderston, Renton, Blackadder, and Broomhouse. David Hume of Godscroft, author of a ‘History of the House and Race of Douglas and Angus,’ was a cadet of this line. The Homes of Blackadder, as we have seen, were descended from John Home, one of the ‘Seven Spears of Wedderburn,’ who married the heiress of the estate. His grandson, John Home, was created a baronet of Nova Scotia in 1671. His younger son, Sir David Home of Crossrig, was one of the first judges in the Court of Session nominated by King William at the Revolution. From Lord Crossrig’s eldest surviving son descended the Homes of Cowdenknowes, one of whom was the author of several valuable medical works. Henry Home, Lord Kames, the well-known judge and philosopher, belonged to the Homes of Renton, whose ancestor was the second son of Sir Alexander Home of Manderston. Sir Everard Home, Bart., the eminent surgeon, was descended from the Homes of Greenlaw Castle. His sister was the wife of John Hunter, the celebrated anatomist.

The Homes of Manderston were a branch of the Wedderburn family, and seem to have possessed the characteristics of that race. One of them, David Home, was commonly termed ‘Davie the Devil,’ and his deeds of darkness well merited that sobriquet

GEORGE HOME, the third son of Alexander Home of Manderston, was a special favourite of James VI., and held various offices about the Court. In 1601 he was appointed High Treasurer of Scotland. He attended the King to London on his accession to the English throne in 1603, and in the following year he was created an English peer by the title of Baron Home of Berwick. In 1605 he was made Earl of Dunbar in the peerage of Scotland, and was subsequently appointed Chancellor of the Exchequer in England. From this time forward he had the chief management of Scottish affairs, and was the principal instrument in establishing Episcopacy in Scotland. In 1609 the Earl was sent down from London accompanied by two eminent English divines, Dr. Abbot, subsequently Archbishop of Canterbury, and Dr. Higgins, for the purpose of promoting this object, on which the King had set his heart. On the approach of the Earl and his clerical associates, Calderwood states that the noblemen, barons, and councillors that were in Edinburgh went out to accompany him into the town. So he entered in Edinburgh with a great train. The Chancellor [the Earl of Dunfermline], the Provost, the Bailies, and many of the citizens met him at the Nether Bow Port. It was spoken broadly that no small sums of money were sent down with him to be distributed among the ministers and sundry others. The English doctors seemed to have no other direction but to persuade the Scots that there was no substantial difference in religion betwixt the two realms, but only in things indifferent concerning government and ceremony.

The Earl had a different service entrusted to him, and had recourse to very different means to perform it, when, in 1603, he was appointed ‘his Majesty’s Commissioner for ordering the Borders.’ Sir James Balfour says, ‘he took such a course with the broken men and somers that in two justiciary courts holden by him he condemned and caused hang above a hundred and forty of the nimblest and most powerful thieves in all the Borders.’ The Chancellor informed the King that the Borders were ‘now settled far by anything that ever has been done there before.’ It was soon made manifest that the effect of these severe proceedings was only temporary, for in 1609 it became necessary for Lord Dunbar to go once more to Dumfries to hold a justice court, and the King was informed by the Chancellor that the Earl ‘has had special care to repress, baith in the in-country and on the Borders, the insolence of all the proud bangsters, oppressors, and Nembroths [Nimrods], but [without] regard or respect to any of them; has purgit the Borders of all the chiefest malefactors and brigands as were wont to reign and triumph there . . . has rendered all those ways and passages betwixt your Majesty’s kingdoms of Scotland and England as free and peaceable as Phœbus in auld times made free and open the ways to his awn oracle in Delphos, &c. These parts are now, I can assure your Majesty, as lawful, as peaceable, and as quiet as any part in any civil kingdom of Christianity.’

The chronic disorders and outrages of the Border districts were not, however, to be so easily remedied. Not long after a representation was made to the King by the law-abiding inhabitants of the district, declaring that ‘Lord Dunbar being now gone with his justice-courts, the thieves are returned to their old evil courses.’

The Earl obtained the Order of the Garter in 1609, and was installed at Berwick with extraordinary pomp and magnificence. He is described by Archbishop Spottiswood as a man of ‘deep wit, few words, and in his Majesty’s service no less faithful than fortunate.’ Calderwood, who naturally took a very different view of the Earl’s services, narrates with evident satisfaction how in 1611 he was ‘by death pulled down from the height of his honour, even when he was about to solemnise magnificently his daughter’s marriage with the Lord Walden (afterwards Earl of Suffolk). He purposed to celebrate St. George’s day following in Berwick, where he had almost finished a sumptuous and glorious palace. He was so busy and left nothing undone to overthrow the discipline of our Church, and specially at the Assembly holden last summer in Glasgow. But none of his posterity enjoyeth a foot broad of land this day of his conquest in Scotland.’ As the Earl left no male issue, his titles expired at his death. The elder of his two daughters married Sir James Home of Cowdenknowes, and was the mother of the third Earl of Home.

Two incidents which occurred at this time in connection with the family of Home cast a striking light on the lawless state of the country even towards the close of the seventeenth century. The only daughter of the late Laird of Ayton, who was under age, was left in charge of the Countess of Home. The father of the young girl had bequeathed to her his whole estate, and when the time approached for her to choose her curators, Home of Plendergast, the next heir male of the Ayton family, presented, in December, 1677, a petition to the Privy Council requesting that she should be brought as usual to their bar to make that choice in the presence of her general kindred, no doubt with a view to the young lady marrying a member of his family. The Countess of Home, however, the young lady’s guardian, and Charles Home, the brother of the Earl, with whom the heiress of Ayton resided, had a different object in view. On the evening of the day when the petition was presented to the Council, Charles Home, accompanied by Alexander Home of Linthill, Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth (afterwards first Earl of Marchmont), John Home of Ninewells (grandfather of the celebrated David Hume), Robert Home of Kimmerghame, elder, and Joseph Johnston of Hilton proceeded to the residence of the young lady, who was only twelve years of age, and carried her off across the Border. ‘There they, in a most undutiful and unchristian-like manner, carried the poor young gentlewoman up and down like a prisoner and malefactor, protracting time till they should know how to make the best bargain in bestowing her, and who should offer most. They did at last send John Home of Ninewells to Edinburgh and take a poor young boy, George Home, son of Kimmerghame, out of his bed, and marry him to the said Jean, the very day she should have been presented to the Council.’ At the same time the Countess of Home appeared before the Council, and apologised for the absence of her ward ‘as being sickly and tender, and not able to travel, and not fit for marriage for many years to come.’

The Council were justly indignant at the manner in which the statutes had been violated and their commands trifled with, and they inflicted heavy penalties on all the offending parties. The boy-husband was fined in 500 Scots, and was deprived of his interest jure mariti; the young wife lost hers jure relictoe, and was fined in a thousand marks for their clandestine marriage. Further, for contempt of the Council, the lady was fined in a thousand marks, to be paid to Home of Plendergast; Home of Ninewells was amerced in a thousand marks to be paid to Plendergast; and a fine of two thousand was imposed upon Johnston of Hilton. The young couple were besides sentenced to three months imprisonment in the castle of Edinburgh. [Privy Council Records. Domestic Annals, ii. p. 390.]

The other incident, which occurred a few years later at Hirsel, the seat of the Earl, was of a much more tragical character. During the absence of Lord Home in London, the Countess invited a party of the neighbouring gentlemen to the house during the Christmas holidays. Amongst these were Johnston of Hilton, Home of Ninewells, and the Hon. William Home, brother of the Earl and the Sheriff of Berwickshire—three gentlemen who, like the Countess, had all been connected with the abduction of the young heiress of Ayton. They resorted to cards and dice, at which Home lost a considerable sum of money. A quarrel in consequence took place, and Johnston, who was of a fiery temper, struck Home in the face. The affair, however, seems to have been amicably settled, and all the company had gone to bed, when William Home, who must have brooded over the affair, rose and went to Johnston’s bedroom to call him to account for the insult he had offered him. Nothing is known of what passed between the two except that Home stabbed Johnston in his bed, inflicting upon him no less than nine severe wounds. Home of Ninewells, who slept in an adjoining chamber, came to see the cause of the disturbance, and as he entered Johnston’s room, he received a sword-thrust from the sheriff, who was now retiring, and who immediately fled into England upon Johnston’s horse.

Ninewells recovered, but Hilton died in a few days. The murderer, who was never caught, was supposed to have entered some foreign service and to have died in battle. But after the lapse of a good many years, he is said to have returned to Scotland, and to have hazarded an experiment to ascertain if he could be allowed to spend the remainder of his days in his native country. A son of the murdered Johnston, while at a public assembly, ‘was called out to speak with a person who professed to have brought him some particular news from abroad. The stranger met him at the head of the staircase, in a sort of lobby which led into the apartment where the company were dancing. He told young Johnston that the man who had slain his father was on his death-bed, and had sent him to request his forgiveness before he died. Before granting his request, Johnston asked the stranger one or two questions, and observing that he faltered in his answers, he suddenly exclaimed, "You yourself are my father’s murderer!" and drew his sword to stab him. Home—for it was the homicide himself—threw himself over the balustrade of the staircase and made his escape.’ [Domestic Annals, ii. pp. 455, 456. Sir Walter Scott relates this anecdote on the authority of Mrs. Murray Keith.—Notes to Fountainhall's Chron. p. 33.]


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