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The Great Historic Families of Scotland
The Maxwells


THE founder of the Maxwell family is said to have been a certain Maccus, the son of Undwin, a Saxon noble, who at the Norman Conquest took refuge in Scotland. He was a distinguished person in the reigns of Alexander I. and David I., and received from the latter a grant of fertile lands on the banks of the Tweed, near Kelso, which from him received the appellation of Maccuswell, and, abbreviated into Maxwell, became the designation of his descendants. He witnessed an inquest which David ordered to be made about the year 1116. A Herbert de Maccuswel, who died in 1143, made a grant of the Church of Maccuswel to the monastery of Kelso. A Sir John de Maccuswel was Sheriff of Roxburgh and Teviotdale in 1207, and held the office of Great Chamberlain from 1231 to 1233. His son, Aymer de Maxwell, was Sheriff of Dumfriesshire and Chamberlain of Scotland. He obtained also the office of Justiciary of Galloway. By his marriage with the daughter and heiress of Roland de Mearns, he obtained the land and baronies of Mearns and Nether-Pollok in Renfrewshire, and Dryps and Calderwood in Lanarkshire. His second son, John, was the founder of the Nether - Pollok branch of the family, on whom a baronetcy was conferred in 1682. Throughout the perilous and trying times of the War of Independence, the Maxwells, like many other Scottish nobles of the Saxon and Anglo-Norman race, repeatedly changed sides. In the year 1300, Sir Herbert Maxwell, grandson of Sir John, held the strong castle of Carlaverock for the patriotic cause, and was besieged by a powerful English army under Edward I., accompanied by his son, afterwards Edward II., then a youth of seventeen years. Eighty-seven of the most illustrious barons of England were in this host, including knights of Bretagne and Lorraine. ‘Carlaverock was so strong a castle,’ says a contemporary chronicler, ‘that it did not fear a siege; therefore the King came himself because it would not consent to surrender. But it was always furnished for its defence whenever it was required with men, engines, and provisions. Its shape was like that of a shield, for it had only three sides all round, with a tower in each angle, but one of them was a double one, so high, so long, and so large, that under it was the gate, with a drawbridge, well-made and strong, and a sufficiency of other defences. It had good walls, and good ditches filled to the edge with water; and I believe there never was seen a castle so beautifully situated, for at once could be seen the Irish Sea towards the west, and to the north a fine country, surrounded by an arm of the sea, so that no creature born could approach it on two sides without putting himself in danger of the sea. Towards the south it was not easy, because there were numerous dangerous defiles of wood and marshes, and ditches where the sea is on each side of it, and where the river reaches it; and therefore it was necessary for the host to approach towards the east, where the hill slopes.’

The Maxwells, under their gallant chief, made a vigorous defence, showering upon their assailants such ‘huge stones, quarrels, and arrows, and with wounds and bruises they were so hurt and exhausted that it was with very great difficulty they were able to retire.’ But though the operations of the siege proceeded slowly, the besieged - were at length compelled to surrender, when it was found that the garrison which had thus defied the whole English army amounted to only sixty men, ‘who were beheld,’ says the chronicler, ‘with much astonishment.’ Possession of the castle was subsequently restored to Sir Eustace Maxwell, Sir Herbert’s son, who at first embraced the cause of John Baliol, and in 1312 received from Edward II. an allowance of twenty pounds for the more secure keeping of the fortress. He afterwards, however, gave in his adherence to Robert Bruce, and his castle in consequence underwent a second siege by the English, in which they were unsuccessful. But fearing that this important stronghold might ultimately fall into the hands of the enemy, and enable them to make good their hold on the district, Sir Eustace dismantled the fortress—a service and sacrifice for which he was liberally rewarded by Robert Bruce.

Though the chiefs of the Maxwells were by no means consistent in their course, or steady in their allegiance during the reign of David II., they contrived in the end to be on the winning side, and honours, offices, and estates continued to accumulate in the family. They were Wardens of the West Marches, Stewards of Kirkcudbright, Stewards of Annandale, ambassadors to England, and Provosts of Edinburgh. They were created Lords of Parliament, with the titles of Baron Maxwell, Baron Herries, Baron Eskdale, and Baron Carlyle, Earl of Morton, and Earl of Nithsdale. They intermarried with the Stewarts, Douglases, Setons, Crichtons, Hamiltons, Herrieses, and other powerful families, and spread out their branches on all sides. If the Maxwells had succeeded, like the heads of the great houses of Hamilton, Douglas, and Scott, in retaining possession of the estates which belonged to them in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, they would have been among the three or four most extensive landowners in Scotland at the present time. Sir HERBERT MAXWELL, of Carlaverock, was knighted at the coronation of James I., March 16th, 1441, and some years afterwards he was created a Lord of Parliament, on the forfeiture of the Douglases in 1455. ROBERT, the second Lord Maxwell, obtained a grant of Eskdale, which remained for nearly two centuries in the possession of the family, but is now the property of the Duke of Buccleuch. JOHN, fourth Lord Maxwell, fell at Flodden, along with three of his brothers. ROBERT, his eldest son and successor, was one of the most powerful nobles in the kingdom, and took a prominent part in public affairs during the reign of James V. and the Regency of Arran. He was appointed Warden of the Western Marches, Lord Provost of Edinburgh, and a member of the Secret Council, when King James was declared of age to assume the government of the realm. He accompanied that monarch in his celebrated raid to the Borders which proved fatal to Johnnie Armstrong and a number of other Border reivers. According to the tradition of the district, this catastrophe was mainly due to the treachery of Lord Maxwell, who seized the Armstrongs on their journey from Eskdale to pay their homage to the King, and pretended to James that these stalwart freebooters had no intention of coming voluntarily into his presence, but had been forcibly brought to him for the purpose of receiving the punishment which they deserved for their offences. This allegation receives some corroboration from the fact that Maxwell obtained from the King a gift of the forfeited lands of the Armstrongs, which are declared in the charter to have been bestowed upon him for his services in bringing John Armstrong to justice. If so, the curse which accompanies ill-gotten gear seems to have rested on the gift.

Lord Maxwell appears to have stood high in the esteem and confidence of King James. On his Majesty’s escape, in 1528, from the thraldom in which he was held by the Douglases, Maxwell was immediately summoned to his Council, and received a grant of the lordships of Crawford-Douglas, and Drumsiar, a portion of the forfeited estates of the Earl of Angus. In 1532 he was created an Extraordinary Lord of Session; in 1536 he was appointed one of the members of the Council of Regency, during the absence of the King in France; and in the following year he was one of the ambassadors sent to the French Court to negotiate the marriage of James to Mary of Guise, whom he espoused as proxy for the King.

Lord Maxwell was taken prisoner at the disgraceful rout of Solway Moss, in 1542. He was on foot, endeavouring to restore some degree of order in the confused and panic-stricken ranks of the Scottish forces; and was urged to mount his horse and fly. He replied, ‘Nay, I will rather abide here the chance that it shall please God to send me, than go home and be hanged.’ He received his liberty in 1543, along with the other nobles, on subscribing a bond to acknowledge Henry as lord superior of the kingdom of Scotland, to do their utmost to put the government of the country and its fortresses into the hands of the English King, and to have the infant princess delivered to him and brought up in England, with the intention of ultimately marrying her to his son Prince Edward. They were also pledged to return to their captivity in England if they failed to carry this project into effect. Lord Maxwell was the only one of the whole number who was faithful to his pledge, and was sent to the Tower by King Henry in return for his honourable conduct. The Master of Maxwell, the Earl’s eldest son, also fell into the hands of the English in 1545, and every effort was made to induce them to agree to give up all their strongholds to the English King. Maxwell’s offer to prove himself a true Englishman by serving under Hertford against Scotland was not satisfactory to Henry, and he at last succeeded in extorting from the Baron the strong castle of Carlaverock as the price of his liberty, ‘quhilk was a great discomfort to the countrie.’ The Regent Arran, however, succeeded in recovering this important fortress, and in capturing the other two castles, Lochmaben and Thrieve, belonging to Maxwell, whom he put in prison at Dumfries. After the murder of Cardinal Beaton, Maxwell was set at liberty, and having made a public and solemn protestation that it was from ‘fear and danger’ of his life that he had given up Carlaverock to the English, his castle of Lochmaben was restored to him, and he was appointed Warden of the West Marches.

It appears that during his captivity in England, Lord Maxwell had become favourable to the doctrines of the Reformed Church, though there is no evidence that he had joined its communion. It was he who introduced into the first Parliament of Queen Mary— 1542—43—a Bill to secure the people liberty to possess and to read the sacred Scriptures in the vernacular tongue, but under the restriction that ‘na man despute or hold opinions under the pains contenit in the Acts of Parliament.’ The measure was approved by the Regent Arran, and passed into a law. ‘So,’ says John Knox, ‘by Act of Parliament it was maid free to all men and women to reid the Scriptures in their awen toung, or in the English toung: and so was all actes maid on the contrair abolished. . . Then mycht have been seen the Byble lying almaist upoun evrie gentlemanis table. The New Testament was borne about in many manis handes. We grant that some (alace!) prophaned that blessed wourd; for some that, perchance, had never it maist common in thare hand; thei would chope thare familiares on the cheak with it, and say, "This has lyne hyd under my bed-feitt these ten years." Others wold glorie, "O! how oft have I bein in danger for this booke: how secreatlie have I stollen fra my wyff at mydnicht to reid upoun it."’

Lord Maxwell, besides the offices of Master of the Royal Household, and Chief Carver to the King, obtained large grants of land in the counties of Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Roxburgh, Perth, and Lanark. The extent of his influence is made evident by the fact that he received bonds of man-rent from such powerful barons as Murray of Cockpool, ancestor of the Earls of Mansfield; Douglas of Drumlanrig, ancestor of the Dukes and Marquises of Queensberry; Stewart of Garlies, ancestor of the Earls of Galloway; Johnstone of Johnstone, ancestor of the Marquises of Annandale; Gordon of Lochinvar, ancestor of the Viscounts Kenmure; and from other influential Nithsdale and Galloway families.

ROBERT, fifth Lord Maxwell, died in 1546. His younger son, Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, married Agnes, the daughter of the third Lord Herries, and succeeded to that title as the first Lord Herries of the house of Maxwell. The elder son—

ROBERT, sixth Lord Maxwell, ‘appears to have been a man of a courageous, impetuous, and energetic character, but his early death prevented his attaining the conspicuous and influential position which his father held.’ His wife, Lady Beatrix Douglas, was a granddaughter of James, the third, and daughter of James, the fourth Earl of Morton, and co-heiress of the earldom. Her younger sister married James Douglas, nephew of Archibald, Earl of Angus, who through her obtained the title, and became the celebrated Regent Morton. As we have seen, Earl Robert, in his father’s lifetime, was imprisoned in England, and was permitted to return to his native country only on condition that he would promote the sinister designs of the English King on the independence of Scotland. In return for some pecuniary assistance which Maxwell asked, the emissaries of Henry strove hard to induce him to give up the castle of Lochmaben; but this, it appears, he was unable or unwilling to do. The bloody feud which raged so long between the Maxwells and the Johnstones seems to have originated at this time, in consequence of the Laird of Johnstone having violated the obligations of man-rent, by which he bound himself to assist Lord Maxwell in all his just and honest actions. Wharton, the English Warden, informed the Earl of Shrewsbury that he had used means to create discord between the Johnstones and the Maxwells. He had offered the Laird of Johnstone 300 crowns, his brother, the Abbot of Soulseat, 100, and his followers 100, on condition that he would put the Master of Maxwell into his power. Johnstone, he said, had entered into the plot, but he and his friends ‘were all so false that he knew not what to say.’ He placed very little confidence in them. But he would be ‘glad to annoy and entrap the Master of Maxwell or the Laird of Johnstone, to the King’s Majestie’s honour, and his own poor honesty."

There was so much double-dealing and treachery on both sides, that it was impossible to put much confidence in any of the leaders. The Master of Maxwell, in order to obtain his father’s liberation from the Tower, promised to the English ambassador that he would do his utmost to promote the English interests, but he did ‘his Majesty no manner of service.’ On the other hand, the Governor and the Lords of the Scottish Council compelled him to give security that he would loyally keep the houses of Carlaverock, Lochmaben, and the Thrieve, for the Queen, from ‘their enemies of England.’ Douglas of Drumlanrig, Gordon of Lochinvar, Stewart of Garlies, and other influential barons, were his pledges for the fulfilment of his bond. The Master was, however, shortly after, in 1545, taken prisoner in an unsuccessful expedition, and carried to London, where his father had for some time been in captivity. He remained in England until the year 1549, when he was exchanged for Sir Thomas Palmer.

Lord Maxwell died in 1552, having been only six years in the position of chief of the family. He had two sons, ROBERT, who succeeded his father as seventh Lord, but who died when only four years of age, and JOHN, a posthumous child, who became eighth Lord Maxwell, and was afterwards created Earl of Morton. In the critical state of the country at that time, a long minority might have been highly prejudicial to the interests of the family, but fortunately the infant noble had for his guardian his uncle, Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, under whose judicious and careful management the possessions and influence of the house were fully maintained. Lord Maxwell at an early age enrolled himself among the supporters of Queen Mary, and suffered severely for his adherence to her cause. His estates were laid waste, and his castles of Dumfries and Carlaverock were thrown down in 1570 by a powerful English army under the Earl of Sussex. Lord Maxwell and his uncle attended the Parliament held in the name of the Queen at Edinburgh, June 12, 1571, in opposition to the meeting convened by the Earl of Lennox, the Regent, a few weeks earlier, at the head of the Canongate. The young noble, to the great satisfaction of his retainers and the numerous branches of his house, soon made it evident that he possessed the courage and intrepidity which had distinguished his grandfather; and his marriage, in the twentieth year of his age, to the youngest daughter of the seventh Earl of Angus, brought him into close alliance with the great houses of Douglas and Hamilton, the Scotts of Buccleuch, and the Earl of Bothwell. Not long after his marriage he submitted to the Government carried on in the name of James VI., and obtained from the Regent Morton the office of Warden of the West Marches. The harmony between him and that imperious and grasping noble was not of long continuance. The claim which Lord Maxwell preferred to the earldom and title of Morton roused the jealousy of the Regent, and ultimately led to a violent quarrel.

The third Earl of Morton left three daughters, but no son. The eldest became the wife of the Earl of Arran, Duke of Chatelherault; the second married Robert, sixth Lord Maxwell; and the third became the wife of James Douglas the Regent, brother of the Earl of Angus. The Earl of Morton settled his earldom and estates upon Elizabeth, his youngest daughter, and her husband and male issue; and the settlement was confirmed by the Crown in the year 1543. Lord Maxwell, however, refused to acquiesce in this settlement, which he considered unjust, and asserted his right to the earldom on the ground that as heir to his mother he was entitled to one-third of the earldom, that he had a right to another third by the demission which he alleged had been executed in his favour by his aunt, the Duchess of Chatelherault, with the consent of her husband and son; and that he was heir-apparent of Lady Elizabeth, the Regent’s wife, who had no issue. The Regent ‘pressed by all means that Lord Morton should renounce his title thereto, of whilk he refusing, he commanded him to prison in the castle of Edinburgh, where lykwayes refusing to renounce, he was sent to Blackness, and from thence to St. Andrews, where he and Lord Ogilvie abode till the March thereafter.’ Morton deprived Lord Maxwell of the Wardenship of the Western Marches, and conferred it on the Laird of Johnstone, the hereditary enemy of his house. He obtained his release, however, and was restored to this office after the downfall of Morton in 1577, and took a prominent part in the factious contendings of that day, which at one time threatened to lead to a civil war. Shortly after his reinstatement in the Wardenship, a case occurred which throws great light on the arbitrary and barbarous manner in which the jurisdiction entrusted to the nobles in those days was exercised. A summons was raised by John Bek, taskar, against Lord Maxwell for personal maltreatment. It was affirmed that Lord Maxwell had put the complainer in prison in the place of Carlaverock, in which he was detained for ten days, and at last taken out and conveyed to a woodside adjoining, where he was bound hand and foot to a tree, and then a small cord being tied about his head, was twisted round with a pin until his ‘ene [eyes] lapened upon his cheikes.’ And all this barbarous treatment he asserted was inflicted on him because he would not bear false testimony against John Schortrig, of Marcholme, as to alleged wrongs done by him to Lord Maxwell in reference to certain corns. After being thus cruelly tortured, Bek was again committed to prison. The case came before the Privy Council at Stirling, but Lord Maxwell did not appear to answer to the charge, and was ordered to set poor Bek at liberty within three days under pain of rebellion.

Lord Maxwell became closely associated with the royal favourites, Esme Stewart, Lord d’Aubigny, and the profligate and unprincipled Captain James Stewart, afterwards Earl of Arran, the bitter enemies of Regent Morton, by whom he was brought to the block. After Morton’s forfeiture and execution Maxwell obtained from King James, no doubt through their influence, a grant both of the title and of the lands of the earldom of Morton. The success of the conspiracy known as the ‘Raid of Ruthven,’ however, expelled from the Court the worthless favourites of the young King, and placed Maxwell in opposition to the dominant party. Complaints, no doubt well founded, were made regarding the disturbed state of the Borders under his Wardenship, and it appeared that his ‘household men, servants, or tenants, dwelling upon his lands, or within the jurisdiction of his Wardenry, many of them being of the name of Armstrong, accompanied by some of the Grahams, Englishmen, and others, their accomplices, common thieves, to the number of nine score persons, went, on 30th October, 1582, under silence, to the lands of Easter Montberengier, and carried off eighteen score of sheep, with plenishing estimated at the value of 290 merks. Immediately thereafter, or on the same night, they proceeded to the lands of Dewchar, from which they stole twenty-two score of sheep, twenty-four kye and oxen, and plenishing worth 100 merks; and the lands of Whitehope they despoiled of two hundred sheep and oxen, and three horses, with plenishing worth 100 merks.’ To crown all, they seized upon Thomas Dalgleish and Adam Scott, two of the persons whom they had ruthlessly plundered, and ‘forcibly carried them into Annandale, in which, and sometimes in England and in other parts, they kept them in strait prison in irons, and shamefully bound the said Thomas to a tree with fetters, intending to compel them to pay an exorbitant ransom.’ The same course is followed at the present day by the banditti in Greece and in some parts of Italy.

Such deeds as these were not likely to pass unnoticed and unpunished at a time when Lord Maxwell’s friends were out of favour at Court, and he was summoned by the sufferers to appear before the Privy Council, and to present the persons who had committed the said crimes. As might have been expected, he failed to appear and answer the charges against him. He had been ordered by the Council to present before the King and Lords of the Council certain persons, Armstrongs and Beatties, under a heavy penalty, to answer for ‘all the crimes that could be laid to their charge.’ The Council, therefore, ordered him to be denounced as a rebel, and he was deprived of the office of Warden of the West Marches, which was conferred upon the rival of the Maxwells, the Laird of Johnstone.

The escape of the King from the Ruthven lords, and the consequent return of Arran to power, produced an immediate change in Morton’s relations to the Court. The nobles who had taken part in the Raid mustered their forces and took possession of Stirling Castle. On the other hand James, with the assistance of Morton, assembled an army of twelve thousand men to vindicate his authority, and on his approach to Stirling the insurgents disbanded their forces and fled into England. But the friendly feeling between the royal favourite and the Earl of Morton was not of long continuance. Arran had obtained a grant of the barony of Kinneil through the forfeiture of the Hamiltons, and he endeavoured to prevail upon Morton to accept this estate in exchange for his barony of Mearns and the lands of Maxwellheugh. Morton naturally refused to barter the ancient inheritance of his family for lands which a revolution at Court would almost certainly restore to their rightful owners. The worthless favourite was greatly incensed at this refusal, and speedily made Morton feel the weight of his resentment. He set himself to revive the old feud between the Maxwells and the Johnstones. The Earl was denounced as a rebel by the Council, on the plea that he had failed to present before their lordships two persons of the name of Armstrong, whom it was alleged he had protected in their depredations. He was ordered to enter his person within six days in ward in the castle of Blackness, and to deliver up the castles of Carlaverock and Thrieve, and his other strongholds within twenty four hours, under the penalty of treason. It was also ordered that the Earl’s friends on the West Borders should appear personally before the Laird of Johnstone, who was now again Warden of the West Marches, upon a certain day, to give security for their due obedience to the King, under the pain of rebellion. To crown all, a commission was given to the Warden to pursue and seize Morton; and two companies of hired soldiers were dispatched by Arran to assist Johnstone in executing these decrees.

Morton, thus forced to the wall, adopted prompt and vigorous measures for his defence. The defeat of the mercenaries on Crawford Moor by Robert Maxwell—a natural brother of the Earl—the destruction of the house of Lochwood, and the capture of Johnstone himself, when he was lying in ambush to attack Robert Maxwell, speedily followed. On the other hand, the King, with advice of his Council, revoked and annulled the grant which he had made to Lord Maxwell of the lands and earldom of Morton. So formidable did the Earl appear to the Government, that 20,000 was granted by the Convention of the Estates to levy soldiers for the suppression of his rebellion, and all the men on the south of the Forth capable of bearing arms were commanded to be in readiness to attend the King in an expedition against the powerful and refractory baron, of whom it was justly said that ‘few noblemen in Scotland could surpass him in military power and experience.’ But the projected raid into Dumfries-shire was deferred for some months, and ultimately abandoned. Even Arran himself was so much impressed by the indomitable energy and power of resistance which Morton had displayed, that he made an unsuccessful attempt to be reconciled to him. The downfall of the profligate and unprincipled favourite was, however, at hand. The banished lords entered Scotland in October, 1585, at the head of a small body of troops, and were joined by Bothwell, Home, Yester, Cessford, Drumlanrig, and other powerful barons. Maxwell brought to their aid 1,300 foot and 700 horse, while the forces of all the other lords scarcely equalled that number. The insurgents marched to Stirling, where the King and his worthless favourite lay, and without difficulty obtained possession both of the town and the castle. Hume of Godscroft mentions, with great indignation, the conduct of the Annandale Borderers under Maxwell. True to their predatory character, they carried off the gentlemen’s horses, which had been committed to the care of their valets, respecting neither friend nor foe; and what was worse, they robbed the sick in the pest-lodges that were in the fields about Stirling, and carried away the clothes of the infected. Arran fled for his life, accompanied only by a single attendant; the banished lords, along with Morton, were pardoned and received into favour, their estates were restored, and an indemnity was shortly after granted to them by Parliament for all their unlawful doings within the kingdom.

Emboldened by his victory over Arran, Morton, who was a zealous Roman Catholic, assembled a number of his retainers and supporters of the old Church at Dumfries, and marched in procession at their head to the Collegiate Church of Lincluden, in which he caused mass to be openly celebrated. As stringent laws had been enacted by the Estates against the celebration of mass, this conduct excited general indignation. Morton was summoned to appear before the Privy Council, and was imprisoned by order of the King in the castle of Edinburgh. Shortly after, the forfeiture of Regent Morton was rescinded, and it was declared that Archibald, Earl of Angus, as his nearest heir of line, should succeed to the lands and dignities of the earldom. Lord Maxwell, however, was not deprived of the title of Earl of Morton, which was subsequently given to him in royal charters and commissions, and which he continued to use till his death.

Maxwell’s imprisonment was first of all relaxed on his giving security that he would not go beyond the city of Edinburgh and a certain prescribed limit in its vicinity, and he was set at liberty in the summer of 1586. In common with the other Popish lords, he made no secret of his sympathy with the projected invasion of England by Philip II. of Spain. In April, 1587, he received licence from the King to visit the Continent, on his giving a bond with cautioners that ‘whilst he remained in foreign parts he should neither privately, directly nor indirectly, practise anything prejudicial to the true religion presently professed within this realm,’ and that he should not return to Scotland without his Majesty’s special licence.’ It is scarcely necessary to say that the Earl deliberately violated his pledge, and during his residence in Spain he was in active communication with the Spanish Court, and not only witnessed the preparations that were making for the invasion of England, but promised his assistance in the enterprise. Contrary to the assurance which he had given, he returned to Scotland without the King’s permission, and landed at Kirkcudbright, in April, 1588. A proclamation was therefore issued forbidding all his Majesty’s subjects to hold intercourse with him. It soon appeared that this step was fully warranted by Morton’s treasonable intentions and intrigues. He and the other Popish lords had earnestly recommended the Spanish king to invade England through Scotland, and that, for this purpose, a Spanish army should be landed on the west coast, promising that as soon as this was done they would join the invaders with a numerous body of their retainers. Morton at once set about organising an armed force in Dumfries, there to be in readiness for this expected result. Lord Herries, who had been appointed Warden in the room of his relative, finding himself unable to suppress this rising, which was every day gathering fresh strength, warned the King of the danger which threatened the peace and security of the country, and Morton was immediately summoned to appear before the Council. He not only disregarded the summons, but, in defiance of the royal authority, set about fortifying the Border fortresses of which he held possession. James, indignant at this contumacy, and now fully alive to the danger which threatened the kingdom, promptly collected a body of troops and marched to Dumfries, where Morton, unprepared for this sudden movement, narrowly escaped being made prisoner. He rode with the utmost expedition to Kirkcudbright, and there procured a ship, in which he put to sea.

Next day the King summoned the castles of Lochmaben, Langholm, Thrieve, and Carlaverock, to surrender. They all obeyed except Lochmaben, which was commanded by David Maxwell, brother to the Laird of Cowhill, who imagined that he would be able to hold the castle against the royal forces in consequence of their want of artillery. The King himself accompanied his troops to Lochmaben, and having ‘borrowed a sieging train from the English Warden at Carlisle,’ battered the fortress so effectually that the garrison were constrained to capitulate. They surrendered to Sir William Stewart, brother of Arran, on the written assurance that their lives should be spared. This pledge, however, was shamefully violated by the King, who ordered the captain and four of the chief men of the garrison to be hanged before the castle gate, on the ground that they had refused to surrender when first summoned.

It was of great importance that the person of the leader of the rebellion should be secured, and Sir William Stewart was promptly despatched in pursuit of Morton. Finding himself closely followed, the Earl quitted his ship, and taking to the boat, made for land. Stewart having discovered, on seizing the ship, that Maxwell had left it, followed him to land, and succeeded in apprehending him. He was at first conveyed to Dumfries, but was afterwards removed to the castle of Edinburgh. He contrived, even when in confinement, to take part in a new intrigue for a renewed attempt at invasion after the destruction of the Armada, and along with the Earl of Huntly and Lord Claude Hamilton he signed a letter to Philip, King of Spain, giving him counsel as to the mode in which another effort might be successfully made.

Maxwell was released from prison, along with the other Popish nobles, on the 12th of September, 1589, to attend James’s queen on her arrival from Denmark. On his liberation he became bound under a penalty of a hundred thousand pounds Scots to conduct himself as a loyal subject, and neither directly nor indirectly to do anything tending to the ‘trouble and alteration of the state of religion presently professed, and by law established within the realm.’ It appears that Lord Maxwell, about the beginning of the year 1592, had professed to have become a convert to the Protestant religion, and on January 26th he subscribed the Confession of Faith before the Presbytery of Edinburgh. The sincerity of this profession may be doubted, and it soon became evident that it had exercised no improvement in his turbulent character, for, on the 2nd of February following, he had a violent struggle for precedency in the Kirk of Edinburgh with Archibald, Earl of Angus, the new Earl of Morton. They were separated by the Provost before they had time to draw their swords, and were conveyed under a guard to their lodgings.

Repeated efforts had been made to heal the long-continued and deadly feud between the Maxwells and the Johnstones, and early in the year 1592 it seemed as if a permanent reconciliation had been at length effected. On the 1st of April of that year the rival chiefs entered into a full and minute agreement by which they ‘freely remitted and forgave all rancour of mind, grudge, malice, and feuds that had passed, or fallen forth, betwixt them or any of their forbears in any time bygone,’ and became bound that ‘they themselves, their kin, friends, &c., should in all time coming live together in sure peace and amity.’ Any controversy or questions that might hereafter arise between them were to be referred to eight arbitrators, four chosen by each party, with the King as oversman or umpire. But in the following year the two families came again into collision, and the feud was revived more fiercely than ever.

William Johnstone, of Wamphray, called the Galliard, [The name seems to have been derived from a dance called the galliard. The word is still employed in Scotland for an active, gay, dissipated character.] a noted freebooter, made a foray on the lands of the Crichtons of Sanquhar, the Douglases of Drumlanrig and some other Nithsdale barons. The Galliard was taken prisoner in the fray and hanged by the Crichtons. The Johnstones, under the leadership of the Galliard’s nephew, and in greater force, made a second inroad into Nithsdale, killing a good many of the tenantry, and carrying off a great number of their cattle. The freebooters were pursued by the Crichtons, who overtook them at a pass called Well Path Head, by which they were retreating to their fastnesses in Annandale. The Johnstones stood at bay and fought with such desperate courage that their pursuers were defeated and most of them killed. [This skirmish forms the subject of the old Border ballad, entitled The Lads a’ Wamphray.] The Biddesburn, where the encounter took place, is said to have run three days with blood.

A remarkable scene which followed this sanguinary fray is thus described by a contemporary writer. ‘There came certain poor women out of the south country, with fifteen bloody shirts, to compleane to the King that their husbands, sons, and servants were cruelly murdered by the Laird of Johnstone, themselves spoiled, and nothing left them. The poor women, seeing they could get no satisfaction, caused the bloody shirts to be carried by pioneers through the town of Edinburgh, upon Monday, the 23rd of July. The people were much moved, and cried out for vengeance upon the King and Council. The King was nothing moved, but against the. town of Edinburgh and the ministers.’ The Court alleged they had procured that spectacle in contempt of the King. The feeling thus excited, however, was so strong that the Government was in the end constrained to take proceedings against the depredators. The injured and despoiled Nithsdale barons complained of this sanguinary foray of the Johnstones to Lord Maxwell, who had been reinstated in his office of Warden of the Western Marches. But his recent pacification and alliance with Sir James Johnstone, of Dunskellie, the chief of the clan, made him unwilling to move in the affair. The King, however, issued orders to the Warden to apprehend Johnstone and to execute justice on the ‘lads of Wamphray’ for the depredations and slaughters which they had committed. At the same time Douglas of Drumlanrig and Kirkpatrick of Closeburn entered into a bond, in conjunction with the Warden’s brother, binding themselves to stand firmly by Lord Maxwell in executing the royal commands, and to defend each other, and to support him in his quarrels with his hereditary foes.

This secret alliance was speedily made known to the chief of the Johnstones, and he immediately applied for help in this hour of need to the friends on whom he could rely. The Scotts of Buccleuch, though their chief, a near relation of Johnstone, was then on the Continent, mustered five hundred strong, ‘the most renowned freebooters,’ says an old historian, ‘and the bravest warriors among the Border tribes.’ With them came the Elliots, Armstrongs, and Grahams, valiant and hardy, actuated both by love of plunder, and by hostility to the Maxwells. On the other hand the Warden, armed with the royal authority, assembled his new allies, the barons of Nithsdale, and displaying his banner as the King’s lieutenant, invaded Annandale at the head of fifteen hundred men, with the purpose of crushing the ancient rival and enemy of his house. It is said that some days previously, Maxwell caused it to be proclaimed among his followers that he would give ‘a ten-pound land ‘—that is, land rated in the cess-books at that yearly amount—to any man who would bring him the head or hand of the Laird of Johnstone. When this was repeated to Johnstone, he said he had no ten-pound lands to offer, but he would bestow ‘a five-merk land’ upon the man who should bring him the head or the hand of Lord Maxwell.

On the 6th of December, 1593, the Warden crossed the river Annan and advanced to attack the Johnstones, who had skilfully taken up their position on an elevated piece of ground at the Dryfe Sands, near Lockerbie, where Lord Maxwell could not bring his whole force into action against them at the same time. A detachment sent out by the Warden was suddenly surrounded by a stronger body of the enemy and driven back on the main force, which it threw into confusion. A desperate conflict then ensued, in which the Johnstones and their allies, though inferior in numbers, gained a complete victory. The Maxwells suffered considerable loss in the battle and the retreat, and many of them were slashed in the face by the pursuers in the streets of Lockerbie—a kind of blow which to this day is called in the district ‘A Lockerbie lick.’ Lord Maxwell himself, who, says Spottiswood, was ‘a tall man and heavy in armour, was in the chase overtaken and stricken from his horse,’ and slain under two large thorn-trees which were long called ‘Maxwell’s Thorns,’ but were swept away about fifty years ago by an inundation of the Dryfe. According to tradition, it was William Johnstone of the Kirkhill, the nephew of the Galliard, who overtook Lord Maxwell in his flight, and obtained the reward offered by Sir James Johnstone, by striking down the chief of the Maxwells and cutting off his right hand. The lairds of Drumlanrig, Closeburn, and Lag escaped by the fleetness of their horses. ‘Never ane of his awn folks,’ says an ancient chronicler, ‘remained with him [Maxwell] (only twenty of his awn household), but all fled through the water; five of the said lord’s company slain; and his head and right hand were ta’en with them to the Lochwood and affixed on the wall thereof. The bruit ran that the said Lord Maxwell was treacherously deserted by his awn company.’ [Johnstone’s Histories, p. 182. Sir Walter Scott mentions a tradition of the district, that the wife of the Laird of Lockerbie sallied out from her tower, which she carefully locked, to see how the battle had gone, and saw Lord Maxwell lying beneath a thorn-tree, bareheaded and bleeding to death from the loss of his right hand, and that she dashed out his brains with the ponderous key which she carried. But the story is in itself exceedingly improbable. and is at variance with the contemporary histories.]

The flight of the Nithsdale barons is thus noticed in the beautiful ballad of ‘Lord Maxwell’s Good-Night.’

‘Adieu! Drumlanrig, false wert aye,
And Closeburn in a band,
The Laird of Lag, frae my father that fled
When the Johnstones struck aff his hand,
They were three brethren in a band;
Joy may they never see!
Their treacherous art and cowardly heart,
Has twined my love and me.’

JOHN, ninth Lord Maxwell, the eldest son of the nobleman who fell at Dryfe Sands, was only eight years of age at the time of his accession to his father’s title and estates, in the year 1593. He, unfortunately, was heir not only to his paternal property and honours, but also to the long-breathed feud between the Maxwells and the Johnstones.

King James expressed great indignation at the defeat and death of his Lieutenant of the Western Marches, and Sir James Johnstone and his accomplices were immediately put to the horn, and declared to be rebels. This act was followed up by a commission appointed by the King, 22nd December, 1593, for establishing good order upon the Western Marches. Johnstone and his accomplices are charged with ‘murdering the trew men indwellars in the Sanquhar, in the defens and saulftie of their awne guidis;’ burning the parish kirk of Lochmaben, and the slaughter of some of his Majesty’s subjects sent thither by John, Lord Maxwell, the King’s Warden and Justice; for having appeared in arms against the Warden, ‘umbesett, invadit, persewit, and maist cruellie and outrageouslie slew him and sundrie gentilmen of his name, and others his Majestie’s obedient subjects; drownit, hurte, lamyt, dememberit, and tuke a grit nowmer of prisonaris; reft and spuilzeit thair horses, armour, pursis, money, and uther guidis.’ The King’s anger, however, was not of long duration, for in the course of a few weeks a warrant was obtained by Sir James Johnstone under the King’s sign manual ordaining a respite to be made under the Privy Seal in favour of Sir James, ‘for the treasonable slauchter of Lord Maxwell.’ The respite, which passed the Privy Seal 24th December, 1594, mentioned no fewer than ‘a hundred and sixty of the Johnstones, and included not only the slaughter of the Warden and of those who fell with him, but also the raising and burning of the kirk of Lochmaben, and the slaughter of Captain Oliphant and others, which took place before the battle of Dryfe Sands.

The Laird of Johnstone does not appear to have been grateful for the respite thus granted him. He lost no opportunity of annoying and spoiling his hereditary foes, attacking them whenever it was in his power to do so with effect. Retaliating forays on each side were of frequent occurrence, and the attempts of the Government to allay these feuds, so destructive of the peace of the kingdom, were entirely without effect. The appointment of Sir James Johnstone in April, 1596, to the office of Warden of the Western Marches in the room of Lord Herries, served, as might have been expected, to increase the disturbances in the district; and it speedily became necessary to replace the chief of the Johnstone clan by Lord Stewart of Ochiltree. So great was the annoyance which Johnstone’s outrageous and illegal conduct caused to the Government that on the 27th of May, 1598, he was declared rebel, and his portrait hung at the Cross of Edinburgh with his head downwards. He was in consequence intercommuned and committed to prison in July, 1599, where he seems to have been kept for a year. But his imprisonment does not appear to have taught him either prudence or forbearance.

The young Lord Maxwell, on his part, was neither wiser nor more forbearing than his rival. Like his father, he was a steadfast adherent of the Roman Catholic religion, and was declared rebel and put to the horn, in consequence of his presence at the mass celebrated at Dumfries by seminary priests. He was imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, in March, 1601, for ‘favouring Popery,’ but made his escape in January, 1602, and was proclaimed a traitor. His enmity to the Johnstones was irremovable, and in February of that year he made a sanguinary attack on his hereditary foes, two of whom were put to death by his vassals with great cruelty. In 1605, a professed reconciliation took place between these two potent rivals, but it was not of long continuance.

Lord Maxwell, with the combative disposition of his family, was now involved in a dispute with William Douglas of Lochleven, who, on the death of the Earl of Angus, was reinstated in the earldom and title of Morton. He challenged Douglas to single combat, and was in consequence of this, and numerous other turbulent acts, imprisoned in the castle of Edinburgh, 11th August, 1607. After eight weeks’ confinement, he made his escape in a manner which strikingly displayed both his daring and his energy. He had for his fellow-prisoner a great chieftain of the Isles, Sir James M’Connell, or Macdonald. ‘Seeing not how he was to be relieved, he devises with Sir James M’Connell and Robert Maxwell of Dinwoodie, what way he and they might escape. Sir James, hesitating, urged the need of deliberation. "Tush, man !" replied Maxwell, "sic enterpryses are nocht effectuate with deliberations and advisments, but with suddane resolutionis."’ He then called in two soldiers who had charge of the prisoners, and giving them a liberal supply of wine, ‘drinks them fou.’ Suddenly turning upon the soldiers, Maxwell compelled them to give up their swords, and giving one to Sir James M’Connell, another to Robert Maxwell, and keeping a third for himself, he called out, ‘All gude fellows that luiffes me, follow me, for I sall either be furth of the Castle this nycht, or elles I sall loose my lyiff.He then passed out of the room with his companions, locking the door behind him. One of the soldiers gave the alarm by crying out at the south window, towards the West Port, ‘Treason! treason!’ The three passed to the inner gate, where the master porter, an old man, tried to make resistance. ‘False knave,’ exclaimed Lord Maxwell, ‘open the gate, or I shall hew thee in blads’ [pieces]. He did strike the man on the arm with his sword, but the keys were then given up, and the gate was opened. They had next an encounter at the second gate with the under porter. Lord Maxwell and Sir James M’Connell wounded him and forced their way through, but Robert Maxwell was kept back by the porter. He, however, made his escape by leaping over ‘the west castle wall, that goes to the West Port.’ Lord Maxwell and Sir James passed to the same wall, and climbing over it leaped down and disappeared amongst the suburbs. Lord Maxwell made his escape upon a horse which had been kept in readiness for him; but Sir James M’Connell, who had irons upon him, twisted his ankle in leaping. He was discovered lying upon a dunghill to which he had crept and was brought back to the Castle. ‘The King was very far offended and made proclamation that nane should visit him under the pain of death.’ He issued orders also that special search should be made for the fugitive, and to omit nothing that ‘might hasten the infliction of exemplary punishment upon him.’ His Majesty complained in a letter to the Privy Council that Maxwell openly travelled through the country accompanied by not fewer than twenty horse in open defiance of the royal authority, and renewed his injunctions that diligent search should be made for him in order that he might either be apprehended, or put out of the bounds. The Privy Council in reply stated that they had used all diligence in searching for Lord Maxwell and punishing his resetters; and informed the King that one of his hiding-places was a certain cave in Clawbelly Hill, in the parish of Kirkgunzeon, which still bears the name of ‘Lord Maxwell’s Cave.’

Lord Maxwell evidently felt that the life which he was leading was dangerous as well as uncomfortable, and with a view to gain the favour of the King, he seems to have been really desirous at this juncture to become reconciled to the Laird of Johnstone, who on his part had expressed a similar wish to Sir Robert Maxwell of Orchardtoun, Lord Maxwell’s cousin, and his own brother-in-law. Sir Robert undertook the office of mediator between the two chiefs with some reluctance, for, as he remarked, ‘it was dangerous to meddle with such a man.’ On paying a visit to Lord Maxwell at his request in March, 1608, he found that his lordship was not unwilling to be reconciled to his hereditary enemy. ‘Cosine,’ he said to Sir Robert, ‘it was for this caus I send for zou. Ye see my estait and dangour I stand in; and I wald crave zour Counsell and avise as ane man that tenders my weill.’ Sir Robert judiciously recommended the turbulent noble to keep himself quiet, and to avoid giving any additional offence to the King. He also expressed his willingness to mediate between him and Johnstone, if he was willing that their differences should be amicably settled. Lord Maxwell declared that he was willing to overlook the past, should Johnstone show any corresponding inclination, and would be ready to meet him with a view to their reconciliation.

A meeting was accordingly arranged, Sir Robert having previously exacted from Lord Maxwell a promise and solemn oath, that neither he nor the person who should accompany him would use any violence, whether they came to an accommodation or not. A similar obligation was given by Sir James Johnstone. They met on the 6th of April, 1608. Lord Maxwell was accompanied by Charles Maxwell, brother of William Maxwell of Kirkhouse, who seems to have borne the reputation of a passionate and quarrelsome person. Sir James Johnstone brought with him William Johnstone of Lockerbie. Sir Robert Maxwell was also present as mediator, and seems to have had his misgivings as to the result of the meeting, when he saw that Charles Maxwell was Lord Maxwell’s attendant, for he required that his Lordship should renew his oath and promise of strict fidelity for himself and his man, which was readily done, and a similar pledge was exacted from Johnstone. The rival chiefs met on horseback, and after mutual salutations, they rode on to confer together, Sir Robert being between them. While they were thus engaged, Charles Maxwell quitted the place where he had been ordered to remain, and going towards Johnstone’s attendant, commenced an altercation with him. The other attempted to soothe him with calm and peaceful words, but without effect, and after some bitter and angry expressions, Maxwell fired a pistol at William Johnstone, which, however, only pierced his cloak. Johnstone attempted to retaliate, but his pistol missed fire, and he cried out, ‘Treason!’ Sir James, on hearing this noise, turned away from Lord Maxwell and Sir Robert, and rode towards the attendants. Sir Robert caught hold of his lordship’s cloak and exclaimed, ‘Fy! my lord: make not yourself a traitor and me baith.’ But Maxwell, bursting from his grasp, fired a pistol at the Laird of Johnstone, and mortally wounded him in the back. Johnstone’s palfrey becoming restive, the girths broke and the laird fell to the ground. While his attendant was standing beside him, Charles Maxwell again fired at them. Looking up to heaven Sir James exclaimed, ‘Lord, have mercy on me! Christ, have mercy on me! I am deceived,’ and soon after expired. The murderer and his attendant then coolly rode away. That foul deed was ‘detested by all men,’ says Spottiswood, ‘and the gentleman’s misfortune sincerely lamented; for he was a man full of wisdom and courage, and every way well inclined.’ Proclamation was made by sound of trumpet at the Cross of Edinburgh, that none, unless under pain of death, should transport or carry away the Lord Maxwell out of the country, in ship or craer, seeing the King and Council were to take order with him for the traitorous murdering of the Laird of Johnstone and his other offences. He was tried in absence before the Estates on the 24th of June, 1609, for treason, and was found guilty. He was condemned to suffer the pains of law for his crime, and his estates were forfeited and bestowed upon Sir Gideon Murray, Lord Cranstoun, and other favourites of the Court.

Lord Maxwell succeeded in eluding his pursuers and made his escape to France, where he remained for several years. His flight, after his perpetration of the murder of Sir James Johnstone, is commemorated in the pathetic ballad entitled ‘Lord Maxwell’s Good Night,’ in which he is represented as bidding farewell to his mother, sisters, and wife, and to his hereditary fortresses and estates. The unknown author is, however, mistaken in supposing that the fugitive lord felt regret at parting from his wife, against whom, it is not clear on what grounds, he had raised a process of divorce, during the dependence of which she died. This lady was the only sister of James, second Marquis of Hamilton, who was deeply offended at his brother-in-law’s procedure, and became in consequence his bitter enemy.

The ballad must have been written before Lord Maxwell’s execution in 1613, as it makes no mention of that event. It was first published in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Border Minstrelsy,’ from a copy in Glenriddel’s MSS. Lord Byron refers to this ballad as having suggested the ‘Good Night’ in the first canto of’ Childe Harold.’ It is as follows :—

‘Adieu! madame, my mother dear,
But and my sisters three;
Adieu! fair Robert of Orchardstone,
My heart is wae for thee.
Adieu! the Iilye and the rose,
The primrose fair to see;
Adieu! my Iadye, and only joy,
For I may not stay with thee.

‘Though I hae slain Lord Johnston;
What care I for their feid?
My noble mind their wrath disdains,
He was my father’s deid.
Both night and day I labour’d oft
Of him avenged to be
But
now I’ve got what lang I sought.
And I may not stay with thee.

* * * *

‘Adieu! Dumfries, my proper place,
But and Carlaverock fair;
Adieu! my castle of the Thrieve,
Wi’ a’ my buildings there;
Adieu! Lochmaben’s gates sac fair,
The Langholm-holm where birks there be;
Adieu! my ladye, and only joy,
For, trust me, I must not stay wi’ thee.

‘Adieu! fair Eskdale up and down,
Where my puir friends do dwell;
The bangisters will ding them down,
And will them sair compell.
But I’ll avenge their feid mysel’,
When I come o’er the sea;
Adieu! my ladye, and only joy,
For I may not stay wi’ thee.’

‘Lord of the land,’ that lady said,
‘O wad ye go wi’ me
Unto my brother’s stately tower,
Where safest ye may be?
There Hamiltons and Douglas baith
Shall rise to succour thee.’
‘Thanks for thy kindness, fair my dame,
But I may not stay wi’ thee.’

Then he took all a gay gold ring,
Thereat hang signets three:
‘Hae, tak’ thee that, mine am dear thing,
And still hae mind o’ me;
But, if thou take another lord,
Ere I come ower the sea,—
His life is but a three days’ lease,
Tho’ I may not stay wi’ thee.’

The wind was fair, the ship was clear,
That good lord went away;
And most part of his friends were there
To give him a fair convey.
They drank the wine, they didna spar’t,
Even in that gude lord’s sight.
Sac now he’s o’er the floods sac gray,
And Lord Maxwell has ta’en his Good night.

Lord Maxwell, weary of exile, and probably hoping that the lapse of time had mollified the resentment of the Johnstones, ventured to return to Scotland in 1612; but he soon discovered that his enemies were as eager as ever for vengeance, and made such keen pursuit after him on the Borders, that he resolved to take refuge in Sweden. His relative, George Sinclair, fifth Earl of Caithness, however, persuaded him to delay taking this step, and offered to give him, in the meantime, shelter on his estates in the north. Maxwell accepted this offer, and proceeded to Caithness, in reliance on his kinsman’s promise and honour; but the Earl, in order to obtain the favour of the Government, basely betrayed him, and caused him to be arrested and carried a prisoner to Castle Sinclair. He was brought to Edinburgh 19th September, 1612, by orders of the Privy Council, and warded in the Tolbooth there.

Sir James Johnstone, the son of the murdered chief, and his mother, and even his grandmother, who was labouring under some sickness, lost no time in petitioning the King that justice should be executed on Lord Maxwell, and travelled to Edinburgh for the express purpose of pressing their demand. An earnest effort was made by Maxwell’s friends to effect a reconciliation between him and the relatives of the deceased Laird of Johnstone. He first of all humbly confessed and craved mercy for his offence against God, the King, and the surviving relatives of Sir James Johnstone; and testified, by his solemn oath, that the unhappy slaughter was not committed by him upon forethought, or set purpose, but upon mere accident. Secondly, he was willing, not only for himself, but for his whole kin and friends, to forgive the slaughter of his father by the Laird of Johnstone and his accomplices. Thirdly, in order to establish friendship between the houses of Maxwell and Johnstone, he was willing to marry the daughter of the deceased Sir James without any tocher. Fourthly, he proposed that the young Laird of Johnstone should marry his sister’s daughter, and offered to give with her a dowry of 20,000 merks Scots, and whatever additional sum should be thought expedient by the advice of friends. Lastly, he was content to be banished the kingdom for seven years, or longer, at the wish and pleasure of the Laird of Johnstone. These offers were to be augmented at the discretion of common friends to be chosen for that purpose.

It is not known whether these proposals were submitted by the Privy Council to the relations of the deceased Laird of Johnstone; the Government, however, were determined—no doubt with the full approval of the King—to carry into effect the sentence which had been pronounced upon Lord Maxwell in his absence. But, as Sir Walter Scott remarks, ‘in the best actions of that monarch, there seems to have been an unfortunate tincture of that meanness so visible on the present occasion. Lord Maxwell was indicted for the murder of Johnstone; but this was combined with a charge of fire-raising, which, according to the ancient Scottish law, if perpetrated by a landed man, constituted a species of treason, and inferred forfeiture. Thus the noble purpose of public justice was sullied by being united with that of enriching some needy favourite.’

Lord Maxwell was beheaded at the Cross of Edinburgh on the 21st of May, 1613. ‘He refused to receive any religious instruction, or consolation from the ministers, declaring that he was a Catholic man, and not of their religion.’ He acknowledged, on the scaffold, the justice of his sentence, asking mercy from God and forgiveness from the son, widow, mother, and friends of the deceased Laird of Johnstone.

‘The execution of Lord Maxwell,’ says Sir Walter Scott, ‘put a final end to the foul debate between the Maxwells and the Johnstones, in the course of which each family lost two chieftains; one dying of a broken heart, one in the field of battle, one by assassination, and one by the sword of the executioner.’

On the death of John, ninth Lord Maxwell, on the scaffold, the representation of the house of Maxwell devolved on his younger brother ROBERT; but the titles and extensive estates of the family were forfeited to the Crown in 1609, and considerable portions of the land had been granted to influential persons, who were not willing to give them up. A number of years, therefore, elapsed before Robert, tenth Lord Maxwell, was fully reinstated in the possession of the lands and dignities of his ancestors. King James, commiserating his pecuniary difficulties, ordered 2,000 sterling to be given him out of the Royal Exchequer of Scotland in October, 1616, and he obtained large loans from Sir William Graham of Braco and other friends, to assist him in his efforts to recover the Maxwell estates, which an Act of Parliament passed 28th June, 1617, declared him capable of possessing. In December of that year, Lord Cranstoun resigned to him the barony of Cranstoun; and finally, the King, by three letters patent, dated 5th October, 1618, 13th March, 1619, and 29th August, 1620, restored to him ‘the lands, rents, living, teinds, offices, and dignities’ that belonged to his predecessors. This last-mentioned patent set forth that, ‘calling to remembrance the constant hatred between the families of Morton and Maxwell, and also its being unusual for two earls to wear the same title, his Majesty, by his sole authority, changed the title of Earl of Morton, which he had conferred on the deceased Lord Maxwell, into that of EARL OF NITHSDALE, which he now conferred on Lord Maxwell, his son, whose designation would be Lord Maxwell, Lord Eskdale, and Earl of Nithsdale.’ But it was expressly declared that this change was without prejudice to the antiquity of the former titles.

The title of NITHSDALE, as Mr. Fraser remarks, was more appropriate as a family title of honour than that of Morton, for which it was exchanged. Morton had not been previously in the family as a territorial possession, and they acquired only a quasi right through the marriage of a co-heiress. On the other hand, the rich and beautiful vale of the Nith, in Dumfriesshire, through which the river Nith flows, was historically associated with the Maxwells. From a very early period they owned the castle of Carlaverock, which was the key to the whole of that district. The family also, through its heads and branches, had long possessed large territories on both banks of the Nith, from its mouth where it falls into the Solway Firth, to nearly the source of that river in the parish of Dalmellington, in Ayrshire.

Unlike his brother and his predecessors, the Earl of Nithsdale was a man of peace, and he strove to staunch the feuds which had so long existed between the Maxwells and the Murrays of Cockpool, and the Johnstones. On the 17th of June, 1623, the Earl and James Johnstone of Westraw appeared before the Privy Council, and in testimony of their reconciliation ‘choppit hands.’ In his pecuniary difficulties, as well as in his disputes with the other nobles respecting precedence and privileges, the Earl of Nithsdale was powerfully aided by the Lord Chancellor, the celebrated ‘Tam o’ the Cowgate,’ who held him in personal esteem, and with his characteristic shrewdness had an eye to the favour of the powerful Duke of Buckingham, whose niece Lord Nithsdale had married. As both the Earl and his cautioners were hard pressed by his creditors, the King was induced to interfere for his protection, and to arrest the proceedings against him; an act of gracious interference which had to be repeated more than once. As might have been expected, Lord Nithsdale was a strenuous supporter of Charles I. in his arbitrary policy, and in 1625 he was sent down as Royal Commissioner to hold a convention of the Estates, for the purpose of obtaining the surrender of all the tithes and other ecclesiastical property which had been forfeited to the Crown at the time of the Reformation, and had been granted by James to the nobility and royal favourites. But this demand the nobles, most of whom had shared in the plunder of the Church, were determined to resist to the last extremity. Bishop Burnet states that a number of them conspired, and resolved that if the Commissioner persisted in requiring an unconditional surrender of the teinds, ‘they would fall upon him and all his party in the old Scottish manner, and knock him on the head.’ Lord Belhaven, one of the conspirators, though old and blind, resolved to make sure of at least one victim, and being seated beside the Earl of Dumfries, seized upon the Earl of Nithsdale with one hand, and was prepared, should any disturbance arise, to plunge a dagger into his heart. Perceiving this determined opposition, Nithsdale disguised his instructions, and returned to London without accomplishing the object of his mission.

The encouragement and support which the Earl afforded to the Roman Catholics in Dumfries and its vicinity gave great offence to the Presbyterians, and the ministers of that town complained to the Privy Council in strong terms of ‘the insolent behaviour of the Papists’ in those parts, imputing the blame to the Earl of Nithsdale and Lord Herries. ‘It is a pity,’ wrote Archbishop Spottiswood to the Earl, that ‘your Lordship will not be movit to leave that unhappie course which shall undoe your Lordship, and make us all sorry that love you; and how much prejudice the meanwhile this will bring to his Majestie’s service, I cannot express.’ The Archbishop exhorts him as he loves his Majesty, the standing of his house, ay, and the safety of his soul, to take another course, and resolve at least to be a hearer of the Word, ‘for your Lordship not resorting to the Church, when you were last at Edinburgh, hath given your adversaries greater advantage than anything else.’

When the Civil War broke out between Charles I. and the Scots, the Earl of Nithsdale zealously supported the royal cause, and he garrisoned his castles of Carlaverock and Thrieve, furnishing them with a large quantity of arms, ammunition, and provisions, in order that they might sustain a protracted siege. Carlaverock, which had been greatly injured by the English invaders in 1570, was restored by him to more than its original strength. The Estates hearing of his preparations, sent a strong body of troops under Colonel Home to besiege that stronghold. It held out for thirteen weeks, though powerful batteries were brought to bear upon it; but as no relief could be sent, the Earl, with the approval of the King, surrendered on very favourable terms. The inventory of the household furniture of the castle, preserved at Terregles, gives an interesting account of the splendour and elegance of the establishment, and throws much light on the domestic condition of the great baronial families of Scotland at that period. Carlaverock was shortly after dismantled by order of the Committee of Estates, as was the castle of Thrieve, which was also surrendered to the Covenanters. The Earl complained bitterly that faith had not been kept with him in this matter, and that the losses which he had suffered in violation of the terms of the capitulation amounted to not less than 15,000 sterling.

The ill-fated nobleman was sequestrated in the year 1643, and his whole rents, amounting to 3,000 sterling, were seized by the dominant party. In the following year he was not only forfeited by the Estates, but also excommunicated by the Church. With the exception of two brief intervals, the Earl remained in exile from the year 1639 till the time of his death. He died and was buried in the Isle of Man in 1646. His wife survived him a quarter of a century.

ROBERT, second Earl of Nithsdale, the only son of the first Earl, was, like his father, a steadfast supporter of the royal cause during the Great Civil War. He was taken prisoner on the 12th of October, 1644, when the town of Newcastle was stormed by General Leslie. and was imprisoned in the Tolbooth of Edinburgh till after the defeat of the Covenanters at Kilsyth by Montrose, on 15th August, 1645. An Act of Parliament was passed in 1647, restoring him against his father’s forfeiture, but the estates of the family were so heavily burdened in consequence of the losses sustained during the Civil War, that he was compelled to sell the barony of Mearns to Sir George Maxwell of Pollok, and Langholm to the curators for the Duke of Buccleuch and Monmouth. On the restoration of Charles II. the Earl was persuaded by the urgent advice of his friends to go up to London, and submit to the King a statement of the injuries which had been inflicted on him and his father in consequence of their exertions in the royal cause, and to press on his Majesty his claims for compensation. The amount spent on maintaining the castle of Carlaverock, the destruction of the ‘haill moveables and plenishing’ of that stronghold, the College of Lincluden, and the castles of Dumfries and Thrieve, together with the rents uplifted during the disturbances, amounted, he alleged, to more than 40,000 sterling. But with the characteristic ingratitude of the Stewarts, the claims of the Earl were neglected, and no compensation appears ever to have been made to him. Earl Robert was commonly designated ‘The Philosopher.’ Among other pursuits he was said to have been addicted to the study of astrology. He died in the Isle of Carlaverock, unmarried, 5th October, 1667, and was succeeded by his kinsman, JOHN MAXWELL, seventh Lord Herries, the eldest of eight sons of the sixth Lord Herries by his wife, a daughter of John, seventh Lord Maxwell and Earl of Morton.

JOHN, third Earl of Nithsdale, like his predecessors, suffered heavy losses for his adherence to the royal cause during the Great Civil War. Detachments of the Parliamentary troops were quartered no less than seven times on him and his tenants, and destroyed and plundered his effects. Large fines also were imposed upon him, and considerable sums were exacted from him to maintain the forces raised by the Committee of Estates. His life and estates were forfeited by the Parliament, and he was excommunicated by the Church for supporting the King. After the Restoration he presented a petition to the Parliament in 1661, ‘humbly praying that they would appoint some of their number to cognosce upon his sufferings for his loyalty and obedience to the King, in his person, means, and estate.’ The committee nominated for this purpose reported that the Earl’s losses were estimated to amount to the sum of 77,322 12s. Scots, ‘besides the insupportable burden of cess and quarterings to which he was liable, with the rest of the kingdom, during the late unhappy troubles.’ But it does not appear that he obtained any compensation for his sufferings and losses in the royal cause. The Earl, however, continued through life a steady supporter of the Government, and was repeatedly required by the Privy Council to take an active part in the suppression of conventicles, and the apprehension and punishment of the Covenanting ministers and their adherents. He died in 1677, having enjoyed the title and estates of Herries for thirty-five years, and afterwards the earldom of Nithsdale and the Maxwell estates for eleven years. He had by his wife, a daughter of Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar, three sons, the eldest of whom—

ROBERT MAXWELL, became fourth Earl of Nithsdale. Like his father, he was a staunch supporter of the arbitrary and oppressive Government of Charles II. and his brother James, and a persecutor of the Covenanters. He received repeated commissions from the Privy Council to apprehend outed ministers, or preachers who kept conventicles, or substantial persons who had been present at them, and various communications passed between him and the notorious persecutor, John Graham of Claverhouse, regarding the measures which they adopted in carrying out the instructions of the Government. Lord Nithsdale was rewarded for his services with a grant from King Charles of 200 a year, which was subsequently exchanged for a grant of as much land out of the forfeited estates of the Covenanters, within the county of Wigton and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, as would yield a free yearly rent of 4,000 merks Scots (228 14s. sterling) besides the payment of such a portion of his annual rent as was then in arrears. The forfeited estates of Alexander Hunter of Colquhasben, in the parish of Old Luce, was given to the Countess of Nithsdale, and not less than seventeen other forfeited estates of Covenanting lairds were gifted to the sons of Lord Nithsdale, and retained by them until the Revolution of 1688. The Earl died in 1683. It appears that notwithstanding the royal pension and the gifts of the lands of the Presbyterians, he was through life in embarrassed circumstances. When called on to visit Edinburgh to settle his accounts, as Steward of Kirkcudbright, with the Exchequer, he had to obtain protection from his creditors, who had taken out captions against him. After Earl Robert’s death his widow, a daughter of the Marquis of Douglas, obtained a pension of 200 a year, on the ground of ‘the low condition of the family of Nithsdale and the great burdens that lay on the estate.’ ‘She skilfully managed not only the household affairs at Terregles, but other pecuniary and property transactions, doing all in her power to retrieve the fortunes of the family, and to liquidate the debts and incumbrances with which the estate was burdened.’ The Earl was succeeded by his eldest son—

WILLIAM MAXWELL, fifth and last Earl of Nithsdale. His sister Mary became the wife of Charles, fourth Earl of Traquair, and proved a most generous and forbearing friend to her brother, who was only seven years. of age at the time of his father’s death. His mother and other curators, evidently fearing that a change of Government might deprive them of the forfeited lands of the Covenanters, of which the late Earl and his son had received a gift from the Crown, made repeated efforts to obtain authority to dispose of them; but the Lords of Council and Session refused their consent, and these lands were ultimately restored to their rightful owners. On attaining his majority, the Earl repaired to St. Germains and did homage to the exiled Prince, whom he continued to regard as his lawful sovereign. He there fell in love with Lady Winnifred Herbert, fifth and youngest daughter of the Marquis of Powis, whom he married in the spring of 1699, and brought to his house at Terregles. Earl William, like his predecessors, was a member of the Church of Rome, and like other Roman Catholics at that time, seems to have suffered a good deal of annoyance from the over-zealous and intolerant Presbyterians of the district. Upon the 24th of December, 1703, a fanatical mob of upwards of a hundred persons, headed or instigated by the ministers of Irongray, Torthorwald, Kirkmahoe, and Tinwald, attacked the house of Terregles, under cloud of night, armed with guns, and swords, and other weapons, and under pretence of searching for priests and Jesuits, broke open the gates, violently entered the house, and searched all the rooms. All this was done while the Earl was absent, and the Countess indisposed and confined to her bed-chamber. Criminal letters were raised by the Earl against the ringleaders in these outrageous and disgraceful proceedings, and they were summoned to appear before the Court of Justiciary to answer for their conduct. On the other hand, the minister of Irongray and his accomplices raised criminal letters against the Earl. of Nithsdale and Maxwell of Kirkconnell, whom they accused of hearing mass in secret, and harbouring ‘Jesuits, priests, and trafficking Papists.’ In the end the case was compromised, and both actions were withdrawn.

It is well known that even before the death of Queen Anne the leading Jacobites in Scotland had resolved to take up arms for the restoration of the exiled Stewarts to the British throne, and some of them had adopted measures to secure their estates, in case the enterprise should fail. The Earl of Nithsdale was one of this class, and on the 28th of November, 1712, he executed a disposition of his estates to his only son, reserving, however, his own life rent and that of his wife, with power to make some provision for their younger children. This prudent precaution saved the family estates from forfeiture, when the Earl was tried and condemned for his share in the rebellion of 1715, though it did not prevent him from contracting heavy debts, which rendered it necessary that his affairs should be placed in the hands of trustees.

In the year 1715, when Mar raised the standard of rebellion in the Highlands, and the Northumbrian Jacobites took up arms under Mr. Forster and the Earl of Derwentwater, the adherents of the Stewart cause in Dumfriesshire and Galloway joined them on the Borders. As the Earl of Nithsdale was a Roman Catholic, it was deemed inexpedient to place him, as would otherwise have been done, at their head, and the chief command was given to Viscount Kenmure, the representative of the Galloway Gordons, who was a Protestant. The remembrance of the cruel persecutions of the Covenanters was too strong in the district to permit the great body of the people to show any zeal on behalf of the son of James VII. Even the tenants of the Jacobite leaders took up arms in support of the Government, and the Earl of Nithsdale, as he himself stated, was attended by only four of his own domestics when he joined the insurgents. The insurrection was so wretchedly mismanaged that it never had the slightest chance of success. The combined force advanced as far as to Preston, and was there surrounded by the royal troops, and compelled to surrender at discretion. The noblemen and principal officers were conveyed to London, and committed to prison. The Earl of Nithsdale and the other lords were sent to the Tower, and were brought to trial on January 19th, 1716, before the House of Lords, on a charge of treason. They pleaded guilty, no doubt with the hope that a confession of guilt might possibly incline the King to grant them a pardon. Sentence of death was pronounced upon them by the Lord Chancellor Cowper, who acted as High Steward at the trial, and their execution was appointed to take place on the 24th of February.

The Countess of Nithsdale remained at Terregles while the insurrection lasted; but on hearing of the surrender and imprisonment of the Earl in London, she resolved at once to join him, though it was the depth of winter, and a season of unusual rigour. Leaving her infant daughter in the charge of her sister-in-law, Lady Traquair, and burying the family papers in the garden, she set out, attended only by her maid, Cecilia Evans by name. A heavy snowstorm had stopped the coaches, but she made her way on horseback across the Border, and then from Newcastle to York. There she found a place on the coach for herself alone, and was obliged to hire a horse for her maid. She wrote from Stamford, on Christmas Day, to Lady Traquair, mentioning the troubles she had experienced in her journey. ‘The ill weather,’ she says, ‘ways, and other accidents, has made the coach not get further than Grentun (Grantham), and the snow is so deep it is impossible it should stir without some change of weather; upon which I have again hired horses, and shall go the rest of the journey on horseback to London, though the snow is so deep that our horses yesterday were in several places almost buried in it. To-morrow I shall set forward again. I must confess such a journey I believe was scarce ever made, considering the weather, by a woman. But an earnest desire compasses a great deal with God’s help. If I meet my dear lord well, and am so happy as to be able to serve him, I shall think all my trouble well repaid.’

Lady Nithsdale reached London in safety, but on her arrival she was thrown, by her great anxiety and the hardships she had undergone on her journey, into ‘a violent sickness,’ which confined her for some days to her bed. With considerable difficulty, and under some restrictions, she obtained admission to her husband in the Tower. ‘Now and then, by favour,’ she wrote, ‘I get a sight of him.’

The Countess had no hopes that the King would relent, but to satisfy her husband, who did not despair of pardon, she consented to make an effort to present a petition to his Majesty, who she knew had taken precautions to prevent any one from obtaining access to him, on behalf of the condemned lords. Knowing that he must pass through a public room between the royal apartment and the drawing-room, she waited for him there. As he passed she knelt down and presented the petition, telling him in French that she was the unhappy Countess of Nithsdale. King George, who was a coarse and brutal man, passed on, taking no notice of her. She laid hold of the skirt of his coat, pathetically appealing to his mercy, and was dragged by him, upon her knees, from the middle of the public apartment to the door of the drawing-room. One of the royal bodyguard put his arms round her waist and pulled her back, while another of them disengaged the skirt of the King’s coat from her hand.. The poor lady was left, almost fainting, on the floor. The petition which she tried to put into the King’s pocket was picked up by a bystander and given to the Earl of Dorset, who was the Lord of the Bedchamber then in waiting. He contrived to get the petition read more than once to the King, and to make his Majesty aware that the King of England never used to refuse a petition from the hands of the poorest woman, and that it was a gratuitous and unheard-of brutality to treat as he did a person of Lady Nithsdale’s quality. As might have been expected from his character and habits, the ex-Hanoverian Elector, so far from feeling sorry for his behaviour, was only embittered against the Countess by the manner in which his treatment of her was condemned, So far did he carry his resentment, that when the ladies whose husbands had been concerned in the insurrection put in claims for their jointures, he declared that Lady Nithsdale did not deserve, and should not obtain hers, and to this determination he obstinately adhered.

The noble-minded lady, however, still persevered in her efforts to save the life of her husband. On the 21st of February, the Rev. J. Scott wrote to Lady Traquair, ‘I must needs doe my Lady the justice of assuring your ladyship that she has left no stone unturned, that she has omitted nothing that could be expected from the most loving wife on earth.’ He adds that she presented her petition to the King in such a manner that ‘the whole Court was moved to a tender compassion. The whole town applauds her and extolles her to the skyes for it, and many who thirst after the blood of the others, wish my Lord Nithisdaill may be spared to his Lady.’

A petition craving the intercession of the House of Lords was presented by the wives of the condemned noblemen, and an address to the King, praying that he would reprieve such of them as should deserve his mercy, was carried, on the 22nd of February, by a majority of five. The Ministers, at a meeting of Council held the same evening, resolved to comply with the feeling of the House, so far as to respite the Earls of Carnwath and Nithsdale, and Lords Widdrington and Nairne; but to prevent any further interference, the Earl of Derwentwater and Viscount Kenmure were ordered for execution next morning. The Countess of Nithsdale had, however, given up all hope of a reprieve, for she was aware that the proviso attached to the address to the King meant that those only should be recommended for pardon who would give information respecting their friends that had taken part, though less openly, in the insurrection.. But she well knew, as she says, that her lord would never purchase life on such terms. ‘Nor,’ adds the high-minded woman, ‘would I have desired it.’

As the execution of the condemned lords was appointed for the 24th, there was no time to lose in carrying out the project she had secretly formed of effecting the Earl’s escape in woman’s clothes. To further her design, she says in the account which she gave of the enterprise, after the Lords had agreed to petition the King, she hastened to the Tower, and putting on a joyous air she went up to the guards at each station, and told them that she brought good news. There was now, she said, no fear of the prisoners, as the motion that the Lords should intercede with the King had passed. She rightly judged that the sentries, believing that the prisoners were on the eve of being pardoned, would become, of course, less vigilant. At each station she gave the guards some money, bidding them drink the health of the King and the Peers. But she was careful, as she says, not to be profuse in her gifts, in case they should suspect that she had some design on foot in which she wished to obtain their connivance.

Lord Nithsdale was confined in the house of Colonel D’Oyly, Lieutenant-Deputy of the Tower, in a small room which looked out on Water Lane, the ramparts, and the wharf, and was sixty feet from the ground. The way from the room was through the Council Chambers. The door of his room was guarded by one sentinel, that floor by two, the passages and stairs by several, and the outer gate by two. Escape under such circumstances seemed to be impossible, and Lady Nithsdale mentions that ‘her chief difficulty lay in persuading the Earl to take advantage of the means she had planned for his escape. It would have seemed to him a more likely means of escape to force his way, sword in hand, through the guard.’ Lord Nithsdale was still ignorant, on the 22nd, of his lady’s design for his deliverance; and on that day he wrote a farewell letter to his brother-in-law, the Earl of Traquair, and the Countess, his own sister. He also prepared a dying speech, which he intended to read on the scaffold, stating the reasons why he had taken part in the rebellion, and expressing his regret that he had pleaded guilty at his trial.

The morning of the 23rd, the last before the intended execution, was spent by Lady Nithsdale in making preparations for her attempt, especially in securing the assistance of a Mrs. Morgan, a friend of her maid, Mrs. Evans. When she was ready to go, she sent for Mrs. Mills, at whose house she was lodging, and said: ‘Finding now there is no farther room for hope of my lord’s pardon, nor longer time than this night, I am resolved to endeavour his escape. I have provided all that is requisite for it, and I hope you will not refuse to come along with me, to the end that he may pass for you. Nay, more, I must beg you will come immediately, because we are full late.’ Lady Nithsdale had very judiciously delayed this request till the last possible minute, so that Mrs. Mills might decide on the impulse of the moment, out of sympathy for the condemned nobleman, and she at once gave her consent. Lady Nithsdale then desired Mrs. Morgan, who was tall and slender—her height not unlike Lord Nithsdale’s—to put under her own riding-hood another which the Countess had provided to put on Mrs. Mills, who was to give her own to the Earl. All three then stepped into the coach which was waiting for them, and ‘not to give them leisure to think of the consequences,’ as they drove to the Tower ‘her ladyship continued without ceasing to talk with them.’

On arriving at their destination, Lady Nithsdale took in Mrs. Morgan, as she was allowed to take in only one person at a time. Within the Earl’s chamber Mrs. Morgan took out and left the riding-hood which she had brought beneath her clothes, and then Lady Nithsdale conducted her out again, going with her partly down-stairs, saying to her at parting, ‘Pray do me the kindness to send my maid to me, that I may be dressed, else I shall be too late with my petition.’ Having thus sent away Mrs. Morgan, the Countess took Mrs. Mills into the room, who came in holding her handkerchief to her face, as though in tears, intending that the Earl should go out in the same manner, in order to conceal his face from the guards. The two ladies when alone with the Earl set about disguising him. His eyebrows were black and thick, while those of Mrs. Mills were somewhat yellow, but some yellow paint on his eyebrows, and ringlets of the same coloured hair, which the Countess had brought, put this to rights. He had a long beard, which there was not time to shave, but the Countess covered it with some white paint, and put a little red upon his cheeks. Mrs. Mills next took off the riding-hood in which she came, and put on instead that which Mrs. Morgan had brought. They then equipped the Earl in the riding-hood which the guards had seen on Mrs. Mills as she came in, and completed his disguise by the aid of some of Lady Nithsdale’s petticoats.

These arrangements having been made, Lady Nithsdale opened the door and led out Mrs. Mills, saying aloud, in a tone of great concern, ‘Dear Mrs. Catherine, I must beg you to go in all haste and look for my woman, for she certainly does not know what o’clock it is, and has forgot the petition I am to give, which should I miss is irreparable, having but this one night. Let her make all the haste she can possible, for I shall be upon thorns till she comes.’ There were nine persons, the sons and daughters of the guards, in the anteroom through which she passed with Mrs. Mills while uttering these words, who all seemed to feel for the Countess, and readily made way for her companion. The sentinels at the outer door opened it immediately and let Mrs. Mills out, who did not go out as she had come in, with a handkerchief at her eyes, as if weeping. Lady Nithsdale then returning to the Earl, ‘and having got him quite ready, now she thought was the time for action.’ It was growing very dark, and afraid lest the keepers should bring in the candles, which would have defeated her pains, she without longer delay came out of the room, leading by the hand the Earl, who was clothed in the attire of Mrs. Mills, and held a handkerchief about his eyes, as if in tears, which served to conceal his, face. To prevent suspicion she spoke to him, apparently in great grief, loudly lamenting that her maid, Evans, had been so neglectful, and had ruined her by her long delay. ‘So, dear Mrs. Betty,’ she added, ‘run and bring her with you, for God’s sake! You know my lodgings, and if ever you made haste in your life do it now, for I am almost distracted with this disappointment.’ The guards believing that a reprieve was at hand, had not taken much heed of the ladies coming and going, nor had exactly reckoned their number. They quickly opened the door, without the least suspicion, to Lady Nithsdale and her disguised lord, [‘From the woman’s cloak and hood,’ says Allan Cunningham, ‘in which the Earl was disguised, the Jacobites of the north formed a new token of cognizance: all the ladies who favoured the Stewarts wore "Nithsdales," till fashion got the better of political love.’—Songs of Scotland, iii. p. 188.] and both accordingly went down-stairs, she still conjuring him, as ‘dear Mrs. Betty,’ to make haste. As soon as they had passed the door, Lady Nithsdale stepped behind the Earl, lest the sentinels might have noticed that his gait was far different from a lady’s. At the foot of the stairs she found Mrs. Evans, to whom she committed her companion, and having then seen him safe out of the Tower, she returned to his room.

It had been arranged that the husband of Mrs. Mills was to wait for them in the open space before the Tower. He had come accordingly, but on seeing Mrs. Evans and the disguised nobleman he completely lost his head, and, instead of assisting them, ran home. Mrs. Evans, however, retained her presence of mind, and conducted Lord Nithsdale to a house near Drury Lane belonging to a friend of her own, in whom she could confide. Thence proceeding to Mrs. Mills’s house, she learnt from her where the place of concealment was which she had provided. It was a house just before the Court of Guards, belonging to a poor woman who had but one little room up a small pair of stairs, and containing one little bed.

Meanwhile, Lady Nithsdale was engaged, in the chamber lately occupied by the Earl, in keeping up appearances to make the guards believe that he was still there. ‘She affected to speak to him and to answer as if he had spoken to her, imitated his voice, and walked up and down the room as if they had been walking and talking together, till she thought he had time enough to be out of reach.’ ‘I then began to think,’ she adds, ‘it was fit for me to get out of it also.’ Then opening the door to depart she went half out, and holding it in her hand, so that those without might hear, she took what professed to be an affectionate and solemn leave of her lord for that night, saying that something more than usual must have caused the delay of Mrs. Evans in coming to her, and adding that she must go herself in search of her. She promised that if the Tower were still open after she had done she would see him again that night, but that otherwise she would see him in the morning, and hoped to bring him good news. Before shutting the door she drew to the inside a little string that lifted up a wooden latch, so that it could only be opened by those within, and she then shut the door with a flap, so that it might be securely closed. As she was passing out she told the Earl’s valet de chambre, who knew nothing of the plan of escape, that his lordship was at prayers, and did not wish the candles brought till he called for them.

On leaving the Tower Lady Nithsdale took one of the hackney coaches waiting in the open space, and drove first to her own lodgings. There she dismissed the coach for fear of being traced, and went in a sedan-chair to the house of Anne, Duchess of Buccleuch, who, as the widow of the unfortunate Monmouth, could sympathise with Lady Nithsdale in her anxieties. The Duchess had promised to accompany her when she went to present her petition. She did not go up to the Duchess, as she had company, but left a message at her door, with her ‘most humble service,’ to say that her Grace need not give herself any further trouble, as it was now thought fit to present a general petition in the name of all the condemned lords. Again changing her conveyance and calling another sedan-chair, Lady Nithsdale went to the house of the Duke of Montrose. His Grace was a supporter of the Government, but the Duchess, a daughter of the Earl of Northesk, was her personal friend. Lady Nithsdale being shown into a room up-stairs, the Duchess quickly joined her. ‘There,’ as she wrote, ‘as my heart was very light, I smiled when she came into the chamber, and ran to her in great joy. She really started when she saw me, and since owned that she thought my head was turned with trouble till I told her my good fortune.’

The Duchess recommended her to go to a place of safety, as the King was greatly incensed against her on account, of the petition which she had presented to him, and declared that she would go to the Court, and see how the news of the Earl’s escape was received. She went accordingly and found that that 'the Elector', as she termed him, ‘had stormed terribly,’ and said ‘he was betrayed, for such an event could not have happened without connivance;’ and he immediately despatched two of his suite to the Tower to see that the other prisoners were well guarded. At a later time, when his anger had subsided, he is said to have remarked that ‘for a man in my Lord’s situation it was the very best thing he could have done.’

On leaving the Duchess of Montrose, Lady Nithsdale went to a house which Mrs. Evans had previously found for her, and was informed by that clever and trusty domestic of the Earl’s hiding place, to which she immediately repaired. Referring to the ‘poor little bed,’ in the room, she says: ‘Into this bed we were forced to go immediately, for feare they should heare more walking than usual. She [Mrs. Evans] left us a bottle of wine and some bread, and Mrs. Mills brought us some more the next day in her pocket; but other things we gott nott, from Thursday evening to Saturday evening, that Mrs. Mills came when it was dark, and cary’d my Lord to the Venetian Ambassador’s. She did not communicate the affair to his Excellency, but one of his servants concealed him in his own room till Wednesday.’ On that day a servant of the ambassador, Mitchell by name, was ordered to go down to Dover with a coach and six horses to bring the ambassador’s brother to London. The Earl put on a livery coat and travelled as one of the train to Dover, where, hiring a small vessel, he crossed without suspicion, and, accompanied by Mitchell, landed safe at Calais. The passage across was made so quickly that the master of the vessel remarked that the wind could not have served better if his passengers had been fleeing for their lives—little thinking that this was really the case.

The escape of Lord Nithsdale delighted not only the Jacobite friends of the family, but even many of the supporters of the Hanoverian dynasty. Lady Cowper, the wife of the Lord Chancellor, thus notes the event in her Diary :—‘It is confirmed that Lord Nithesdale is escaped. I hope he’ll get clear off. I never was better pleased at anything in my life, and I believe everybody is the same.’

[There is a close resemblance between the manner in which Lord Nithsdale escaped from the Tower and the escape of Count Lavalette from the Conciergerie prison at Paris, in 1815. The likeness, however, was from mere coincidence, and not at all from imitation. But though the treatment which the Countess of Nithsdale received from King George and his Ministers was mean and ungenerous, it contrasts favourably with the cruel and, indeed, brutal treatment by the Bourbon Government of Madame Lavalette, a niece of the Empress Josephine. She had been in childbed only a few weeks before her husband’s escape, and her strength was not returned. She had to remain behind in the prison chamber occupied by the Count, and was kept there for six weeks, all access of friends or domestics, or even of her daughter, denied her. Her reason gave way, and after she was released from the prison she had to be placed in an asylum. Her mental malady hung upon her for twelve years, and she continued subject to a settled melancholy until her death in 1855.]

The ‘cummer,’ in the homely contemporary song entitled ‘What news to me, cummer?’ declares that she had brought ‘the best news that God can gie,’ that ‘our gude Lord of Nithesdale has won frae ‘mang them a’;’ but—

‘Make the day I’ quo’ the cummer,
‘Alake the day,’ quo’ she,
‘He’s fled awa’ to bonnie France,
Wi’ nought but ae pennie!'
‘We’ll sell a’ our corn, cummer,
We’ll sell a’ our bear,
And we’ll send to our ain lord
A’ our sett gear.’

It soon appeared that though the Nithsdale tenantry had sent their lord ‘a’ their gear,’ he would have spent it all on his own selfish indulgences.

The Countess remained for some time concealed in London, having learned that so long as she kept out of sight she would not be molested, but that if she appeared in public, either in England or Scotland, she would be apprehended. Her presence, however, was urgently required in Scotland. The Earl had sent for her to come up to town in such haste that she had no time to settle his affairs, and she had been obliged to conceal the family papers, as they would otherwise have fallen into the hands of the enemy, who, she was sure, would search the house, as they did, after her departure. ‘In short,’ she says, ‘as I had once exposed my life for the safety of the father, I could do no less than hazard it once more for the fortune of the son.’ The Countess accordingly went to Scotland, saved the family papers, lived there for some weeks without molestation, and then returned to London. ‘On my arrival,’ she says, ‘the report was still fresh of my journey into Scotland, in defiance of their prohibition. A lady informed me that the King was extremely incensed at the news, that he had issued orders to have me arrested; adding that I did whatever I pleased in spite of all his designs, and that I had given him more anxiety and trouble than any woman in all Europe;’ and he gave orders that she should be searched for. She was advised by her friends that in these circumstances she would do wisely to leave England.

Lady Nithsdale embarked accordingly, in July, with the intention of proceeding to France, but in consequence of a violent attack of sea-sickness, she was obliged to land on the coast of Flanders, where she was detained some time by a miscarriage, and a dangerous illness. She joined her husband in October at Lille, but that re-union did not bring her all the happiness which she had fondly hoped. Writing to her sister, Lady Traquair, from Paris, February 29, 1717, she gives an affecting account of her troubles and privations. After in vain attempting to get her husband into the service of the Chevalier, she says, ‘My next business was to see what I could get to live on, that we might take our resolutions where to go accordingly. But all I could get was one hundred livres a month, to maintain me in everything—meat, drink, fire, candles, washing, clothes, lodging, servants’ wages—in fine, all manner of necessaries. My husband has two hundred livres a month, but considering his way of managing, it was impossible to live upon it. . . . For let me do what I will, he cannot be brought to submit to live according to what he has; and when I endeavoured to persuade him to keep in compass, he attributed my advice to my grudging him everything, which stopped my mouth, since I am very sure I would not [grudge] my heart’s blood if it could do him any service. . . . It was neither in gaming, company, nor much drinking that it was spent, but in having the nicest of meat and wine, and all the service I could do was to see he was not cheated in the buying of it. I had a little, after our meeting at Lille, endeavoured to persuade him to go back to his master, upon the notice that he received that fifty livres a month was taken off his pension; but that I did not dare persist in, for he seemed to imagine that I had a mind to be rid of him, which no one would have thought would scarce come into his mind.’ After mentioning that some of her husband’s friends had persuaded him to follow his master to Rome, she adds, ‘I, having no hope of getting anything out of England, am forced to go to the place where my son is, to endeavour to live, the child and me, upon what I told you. All my satisfaction is, that at least my husband has twice as much to maintain himself and man as I have; so I hope that when he sees there is no resource—as indeed now there is not, having sold all, even to the necessary little plate I took so much pains to bring over—he will live accordingly, which will be some comfort to me, though I have the mortification to be from him, which, after we met again, I hoped never to have separated; but God’s will be done, and I submit to this cross, as well as many others I have had in the world, though I must confess living from a husband I love so well is a very great one.’

When Lord Nithsdale made his escape to France, he went straight to Paris, and there, in the course of the spring, he received a pressing invitation from the Chevalier to go to him. ‘As long as I have a crust of bread in the world,’ he said, ‘assure yourself you shall always have a share of it.’ When the Earl ultimately joined his master at Urbino, he did not receive the cordial welcome to which, with good reason, he deemed himself entitled. He was exposed to various mortifications at the court of the exiled Prince, and the nearer view which he obtained of the government of the Pontiff, either in sacred or civil affairs, does not appear to have given him much satisfaction. ‘Be assured,’ he wrote to Lady Nithsdale, ‘there is nothing in this damnable country that can tend to the good either of one’s soul or body.’ He was bent on leaving the mimic court of the Chevalier, where he was so much neglected, and was with great difficulty induced by the strong representations of his wife and his brother-in-law to remain. The Chevalier himself ‘was pleased to tell him that he had so few about him he would not part with him.’

The Earl, in the hope that his Countess would obtain a situation in the household of the Chevalier on his marriage, which was now settled, requested her to join him in Italy as soon as possible, since in these matters it is ‘first come first served.’ He could, however, send her no funds for the journey, but bade her apply to Lord and Lady Traquair, to whom she was already under many obligations. By their aid, and a small sum paid to her by order of the Chevalier, the Countess was enabled to join her husband at Urbino, and after a brief interval to proceed with him in the Chevalier’s train to Rome. But the Earl’s self-indulgent habits were unchanged. ‘I found him,’ she wrote to his sister, ‘still the same man as to spending, not being able to conform himself to what he has, which really troubles me. And to the end that he might not be able to make me the pretence which he wished, I do not touch a penny of what he has, but leave it to him to maintain him and his man, which is all he has, and live upon what is allowed me.’

The Chevalier, like his forefathers, was addicted to favouritism, and was then under the dominion of two unworthy creatures of the parasite class—Colonel the Hon. John Hay, a son of Lord Kinnoull, and his wife Marjory, a daughter of Lord Stormont. They kept at a distance Lady Nithsdale and all other persons who would not promote their influence and ends. ‘But,’ wrote the Countess, ‘that and many other things must be looked over; at least we shall have bread by being near him, and I have the happiness over again to be with my dear husband that I love above my life.’

Year after year did this noble-minded lady continue to maintain a courageous spirit under that ‘hope deferred which makes the heirt sick.’ Her sorest trial was the want of forethought and consideration on the part of her husband in borrowing and spending. ‘All my comfort is,’ she writes Lady Traquair, ‘that I have no share in this misfortune, for he has never been the man that has offered me one farthing of all the money he has taken up, and as yet all is spent, but how is a riddle to me, for what he spends at home is but thirty pence a day in his eating. . . . For my part, I continue in mourning as yet for want of wherewithal to buy clothes, and I brought my mourning with me that has served ever since I came, and was neither with my master’s or husband’s money bought.’ The Earl was evidently a poor creature, selfish and self-indulgent, utterly unworthy of his generous, devoted wife. He threw the blame of his borrowing and misspending on the Countess and his daughter, who never received from him a single penny; and he had even the baseness to say to the Chevalier that some property belonging of right to himself was unfairly detained by his brother-in-law, the Earl of Traquair, on whom he had time after time drawn bills, trusting to his generosity for their acceptance. Not doubting the truth of the statement, the Chevalier wrote to one of his agents that he would take it kindly if Traquair would settle those affairs with, his kinsman to his satisfaction. ‘I must say,’ wrote Lady Traquair to her brother (January, 1724) in justifiable resentment, ‘it is very unkind, and a sad return for all the favours my husband has done you before, and since you went abroad, for he, having no effects of yours save a little household furniture of no use to us, and what I could not get disposed of, has honoured your bills, supplied your wants without a scrape of a pen from you; besides the considerable sum you owed him formerly, he even, under God, has preserved your family, which without his money, credit, and his son’s assiduous attendance and application must humanly speaking have sunk. He might reasonably have expected other returns from you than complaints to one we value so infinitely as we do Sir John [the Chevalier], as if my husband had wronged you and detained your own, when your sufferings justly call for the greatest consideration.’

Although Lady Nithsdale continued to suffer from her great troubles and illnesses, and not least from the improvident and selfish conduct of her husband, several events occurred to cheer her. After long litigation in the Court of Session and the House of Lords, the entail which Lord Nithsdale had executed in 1712 was sustained, and Lord Maxwell, his sole surviving son, would succeed to the family estates at the Earl’s death. Practically, he came into possession of them even before that event, since the life interest of his father was purchased from the Government for his benefit. Lady Anne Maxwell, the only daughter of Lord and Lady Nithsdale, was married to Lord Bellew, an Irish nobleman, at Lucca, in 1731, Lord Maxwell, who was now resident in Scotland, had become attached to his cousin, Lady Catherine Stewart, daughter of Lord and Lady Traquair, and made her an offer of marriage. The old connection between the two families, their constant friendship, and their agreement both in religion and politics, rendered the proposed alliance every way suitable, and it appears to have received the cordial approbation of Lady Nithsdale and Lord and Lady Traquair. But for some unmentioned reason—no doubt a selfish one—Lord Nithsdale for a considerable time withheld his consent. The marriage at length took place, however, in the course of the year 1731, and appears to have been as happy as Lady Nithsdale anticipated. As no sons were born from it, the male line of this ancient family terminated at Lord Maxwell’s death.

Lord Nithsdale continued to live at Rome in debt and difficulties, still hoping that the exiled Stewart family might be restored to the throne of their ancestors; but he did not live to witness the last enterprise on their behalf. He died at Rome in March, 1744. After his decease his widow was induced, though not without difficulty, to accept an annuity of 200 a year from her son, who then came into full possession of the family estates. Of this annuity she resolved to apply one-half to the payment of her husband’s debts, which would by this means be extinguished at the end of three years. When this desirable consummation was attained, in beautiful harmony with her unselfish and generous character, she caused intimation to be made by her agent to Lord Maxwell that ‘as his father’s debts are now quite extinguish’d, his lady mother will have no occasion for more than one hundred pounds sterling per annum from him henceforth. She is now quite easy, and happy that she is free of what was a great and heavy burthen upon her.’ Nothing further is known of Lady Nithsdale’s declining years, but she appears to have grown very infirm. She survived her husband five years, and died in the spring of 1749 at Rome, where in all probability both she and Lord Nithsdale were buried, but no trace can be found of their last resting-place. She worthily sustained the spirit of that ancient and illustrious family from which she was descended, and on her may be justly bestowed the well-known eulogy contained in the inscription on the monument of her ancestress, Mary Sydney, third Countess of Pembroke, in Salisbury Cathedral

‘Underneath this marble hearse
Lies the subject of all verse,
Sydney’s sister, Pembroke’s mother;
Death, ere thou hast slain another
Wise, and fair, and good as she,
Time shall throw a dart at thee.’

Lady Nithsdale’s name, Mr. Fraser says, is never mentioned by her descendants ‘but with the utmost honour, gratitude, and affection.’ She deserves to be had ‘in everlasting remembrance.’

WILLIAM, LORD MAXWELL, her son, succeeded to the family estates the year before the last great insurrection in behalf of the Stewarts. His sympathies were no doubt in favour of that ill-fated race, but his good sense, fortunately, kept him from taking any part in that desperate enterprise. He seems to have led a quiet, retired, and somewhat indolent life. Lady Catherine Stewart, his wife, died at Paris in 1765. Lord Maxwell survived her eleven years. His death took place at London in August, 1776. He had no male issue, and of his two daughters the elder, Mary, died in her fifteenth year; the younger, Winnifred, succeeded to the Nithsdale estates. ‘Lady Winnifred,’ as she was usually termed, in her twenty-third year married William Haggerston Constable of Everingham, in the county of York, second son of Sir Carnaby Haggerston, and heir of his maternal grand-uncle, Sir Marmaduke Constable, Bart., whose name he assumed. The mother of the young lady was delighted with the match. She described this ‘fine English squire,’ in a letter to the Countess of Traquair, as ‘a very sensible, well-bred, pretty gentleman, and a good Roman Catholic.’ She goes on to say that ‘Winny was much startled at first at his prodigious size; but now, I think, she seems to have got over that fault, which, indeed, is the only one can be found to his appearance; but that’s certain he’s among the tallest men I ever saw, so your ladyship may judge what sort of a figure they will make together;’ but, as she sensibly adds, ‘that is not an essential matter as to happiness.’ Lady Winnifred bore to her husband (who on his marriage assumed the name of Maxwell before that of Constable) three sons and four daughters. She became a correspondent of Burns, who wrote to her in high Jacobite terms; and when the present mansion-house was to be built for the permanent residence of Lady Winnifred and her husband, the poet indited a song, entitled ‘Nithsdale’s Welcome Hame,’ which, however, displays more cordial feeling than poetical genius. Mr. Maxwell Constable died in June, 1787, but his wife survived till July, 1801. During the time that Lady Winnifred possessed the Nithsdale and Herries estates, which was about a quarter of a century, she resided chiefly at Terregles, where she dispensed a very generous and almost unbounded hospitality. She seldom sat down to dinner without a company of between twenty and thirty friends and neighbours. Terregles in her day was a kind of open house, where friends and neighbours frequently came, and stayed without any formal previous arrangement. Such hospitality became costly, and Lady Winnifred found it necessary to sell the barony of Duncow, the lands of Newlands, Craigley, Deanstown, and other portions of the estates.

Lady Winifred was succeeded in the Nithsdale and Herries estates, including the baronies of Carlaverock and Terregles, by her eldest son, Mr. Marmaduke Constable Maxwell, who possessed them about eighteen years. He died suddenly at Abbeville, in France, on the way to Paris, in June, 1819. In 1814 he executed a most judicious deed of entail for the settlement of his property, under which the Everingham and Nithsdale estates were to descend to his eldest son, now Lord Herries. But as he considered his lands in Scotland and England to be fully adequate to the maintenance in a suitable manner of two separate families, he disposed the lands and baronies of Terregles and Kirkgunzeon, and others, to Marmaduke Constable Maxwell, his second son, and to his heirs male, whom failing, to his other sons successively, and their heirs male. According to the Doomsday Book, the Everingham estate contains 6,858 acres, with a rental of 8,205; the lands in Dumfriesshire and the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, belonging to Lord Herries, comprise 9,237 acres, yielding 7,143 a year; while the Terregles estate, now possessed by Alfred Peter Constable Maxwell, Esq., extends to 15,803 acres, with a rental off 12,109 12s.—amply sufficient to maintain two families in a ‘suitable manner.’

In the year 1848 an Act of Parliament was passed in favour of William Constable Maxwell, Esq., and all the other descendants of William, fifth Earl of Nithsdale, reversing the forfeiture of that nobleman; and in virtue of this Act, Mr. Constable Maxwell claimed the dignity of Lord Herries, as having been originally conferred on heirs general.

The Committee for Privileges of the House of Lords reported on 2nd June, 1858, that Mr. Constable Maxwell had made out his claim, and in virtue of that decision he became tenth LORD HERRIES OF TERREGLES. He died in 1876, leaving a family of seven sons and nine daughters. The family title and estates are now possessed by his eldest son, MARMADUKE CONSTABLE MAXWELL, eleventh Baron Herries. His third son, the Hon. Joseph Maxwell, married in 1874 Mary Monica, daughter and heiress of the late James Robert Hope Scott, Esq., of Abbotsford, and great-granddaughter and only surviving descendant of Sir Walter Scott.

There are no fewer than five baronetcies held by members of the house of Maxwell; namely, those of Pollok, Calderwood, Cardoness, Monreith, and Springkell. There are also numerous and influential junior members of the family, most of them settled in the southern counties of Scotland, such as the Maxwells of Munches, Broomholm, Kirkconnell, Brediland, Parkhill, Dargavel, Breoch, &c.

The most powerful and celebrated of all the branches of the main stock were the MAXWELLS OF HERRIES, who, as we have seen, became ultimately the representatives of the house.

The original family of Herries was of Norman origin, and settled in Nottinghamshire. One of them migrated into Scotland during the reign of David I. (1124—1153), and like other Anglo-Norman barons, obtained grants of land from that monarch and his successors. SIR HERBERT HERRIES, of Terregles, was created a lord in 1489. His eldest son, Andrew, the second Lord Herries, and four of his brothers, fell at Flodden. William, the third Lord Herries, died in 1543, leaving three daughters, co-heiresses. The eldest, Agnes, married in 1547 Sir John Maxwell, second son of Robert, fifth Lord Maxwell; Katherine, the second, became the wife of Sir Alexander Stewart of Garlies, ancestor of the Earls of Galloway; Janet, the third, married Sir James Cockburn of Stirling.

SIR JOHN MAXWELL, fourth Lord Herries of Terregles, was one of the most prominent and active politicians during the troublous times of Queen Mary and James VI. He was born about the year 1512. As he was for a time heir-presumptive to his brother, and then to two of his nephews, who were minors, he was frequently designated Master of Maxwell. His position as tutor to his nephews, and possessor of a great part of the Herries estates, made him one of the most powerful barons in the south of Scotland and gave him great influence at Court. He subsequently acquired from the sisters of his wife their shares of their father’s property, and thus the whole of the extensive Herries estates were vested in him. The Regent, Arran, had intended to marry Agnes, Lady Herries, to whom he was tutor, to his own son, John Hamilton, but he resigned the lady to John Maxwell, in order to detach him from the Earl of Lennox and the English faction. The ostensible reasons for this step were the good service which Sir John had rendered in drawing a great part of the inhabitants of the West Borders from the assurance of the English to the obedience of ‘our sovereign lady’ and the Regent, his rescuing from the ‘auld enemies’ of Scotland the houses of Torthorwald and Cockpule and divers other strengths, and his expelling the English from those parts of the kingdom. But in addition mention is made of a much more cogent reason—the payment of ‘divers great sums of money’ to Arran ‘and profits for his advantage.’

After the death of his brother, Robert, sixth Lord Maxwell, in September, 1562, the Master of Maxwell was appointed Warden of the West Marches, but he resigned it in the following year, on the ground that he was at deadly feud with most of the clans of that district, and the office was temporarily conferred upon his uncle, Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig. Maxwell exerted himself with characteristic energy to restore and maintain .peace on the Borders, but he encountered many difficulties, especially from the remissness both of the great proprietors and of the yeomen, in accompanying him on days of truce, and also from the reluctance of Lord Dacre, the English Warden, to redress the Border grievances of which he complained. When dissensions arose between Queen Mary and many of her nobles on account of her marriage with Darnley, Sir John Maxwell laboured to obtain redress for the Protestant lords, and entertained them most honourably at Dumfries. He, in consequence, incurred the displeasure of the Queen, which was not, however, followed by any injurious consequences. When Mary and Darnley came to Dumfries with all their forces, in pursuit of the Earl of Moray and the other nobles engaged in the ‘Roundabout Raid,’ they sent Sir John Maxwell to intercede for them with the Queen, as he had taken no action against her, though he professed to belong to the confederate lords. His intercession, if it was really made, was of no avail. But he made his own peace with Mary, and returning to Dumfries told the lords that he could not help them, and advised them to flee into England. All his past offences were forgiven him by the Queen and her husband, and on January 1st, 1565-6, they declared that after an investigation by the Lords of the Secret Council, they believed all the charges against him ‘to be perfectly untrue and founded upon particular malice;’ and as to some of the charges, ‘they understood right perfectly the plain contrary. He has been and is our true servant and our good justiciar, and in execution of our service has taken great travails and pains, bearing a weighty charge in the common service of this our realm many years by-past, and executed the laws upon the many and notable offenders, defending our good subjects from such enormities and oppressions as is laid to his charge; nor has received no augmentation or any reversion, as is unjustly alleged, nor no gold from England; neither has nor will discover our secrets to them nor others, to the hurt of us his sovereign, this our realm, nor subjects.’ Her majesty also faithfully promised that if Sir John, who, in the execution of justice on malefactors, had fallen under the deadly feud of the principal clans and broken men of the West Marches, should be slain or die during the time of his exercise of the office of Warden, his wife and eldest son should have the ward of all his lands and heritable possessions which by his decease should fall into the hands of the Crown, with the marriage of his son and heir for the time. A short time afterwards his holding of his lands and baronies was changed from ward and relief to free blench in consideration of his ‘good, faithful, and gratuitous services in the exercise of the offices of warden and justiciar for the space of twenty-two years or thereby past; by whom, with vast solicitude and sustained effort, and by the execution of justice upon a great number of perverse men, chief factions, and malefactors, dwelling in the said West Marches, who formerly could be restrained by no means from theft, slaughter, and depredation, the country was reduced to due and lawful obedience; for which service rendered and justice administered the said John remained under the mortal hatred of a great number of factions and perverse men within the said bounds, and in that service he had spent a great part of his life and had incurred great expense.’

Sir John Maxwell became Lord Herries in the end of the year 1566, and was thenceforth known by that designation throughout the momentous affairs in which he took a prominent part. When Bothwell was brought to trial for the murder of Darnley, Lord Herries was one of the assize who acquitted him, on the ground of an error, which was no doubt designed, respecting the day on which the crime was committed; but Sir James Melville asserts that when a rumour went abroad that Mary was about to marry the murderer of her husband, Lord Herries came expressly to Edinburgh to entreat her, on his knees, not to take that fatal step, and that the Queen recommended him to leave the city at once, in order to avoid Bothwell’s resentment. It has been argued that this statement is scarcely reconcilable with the fact that Lord Herries sat on Bothwell’s assize; that he signed the bond recommending Bothwell as a suitable husband to the Queen (the most disgraceful and cowardly of all the base transactions of the Scottish nobility of that age), and that he was one of the witnesses to the marriage contract subscribed by them on the 14th of May, 1567, the day before the marriage took place. But these proceedings are quite in keeping with the portrait drawn of him at this juncture by Throckmorton, the English ambassador, in a letter to Sir William Cecil.

‘The Lord Herryes,’ he writes, ‘ys the connynge horse leache, and the wysest of the wholle faction; but as the Quene of Scotland sayethe of hym, there ys no bodye can be sure of hym; he takethe pleasure to beare all the worlde in hande; we have good occasyon to be well ware of hym. Sir, you remember how he handled us when he delyvered Dumfryse, Carlaverocke, and the Hermytage into our handes. He made us beleave all should be ours to the Fyrthe; and when wee trusted hym, but how he helped to chase us awaye, I am sure you have not forgotten. Heere amongst hys owne countrymen he ys noted to be the most cautelous man of hys natyon. It may lyke you to remember he suffered hys owne hostages, the hostages of the Lord of Loughanon and Garles, hys nexte neigh bouris and frendis, to be hanged for promesse broken by hym. Thys muche I speeke of hym because he ys the lykelyest and most dangerous man to enchaunte you.’

[The event referred to occurred in 1547. Maxwell had promised to support the Earl of Lennox in an attempt to recover by force his estates in Scotland, on condition that he would abandon the English interest, and had arranged to meet with a strong body of horse, at Dumfries, the Earl of Lennox, and Lord Wharton, the English Warden. He delivered to Lord Wharton certain gentlemen as pledges for the performance of his promise. The Regent Arran, however, induced Maxwell to break his word ; and when Lennox came to Dumfries he found no troops there for his assistance. A detachment of horse which he sent out to reconnoitre the district, encountered and defeated a body of the Borderers commanded by the Laird of Drumlanrig. The Master of Maxwell, who was present, narrowly escaped with his life. Lord Wharton retreated into England, and by the orders of the English Council he hanged at Carlisle Maxwell’s pledges, one of whom was the Warden of the Greyfriars in Dumfries, and another the Vicar of Carlaverock.]

Lord Herries was one of the nobles who subscribed at Dumbarton, in July, 1567, a bond for supporting Queen Mary against the confederate lords; but on the 14th of October he came to Edinburgh and acknowledged the coronation of the infant King and the authority of the Regent Moray. ‘He was minded,’ as James Melville said, ‘to the present weal and quietness of the State.’ He attended the meeting of Parliament in December, 1567, which ratified Mary’s resignation of the Crown, confirmed the coronation of the King and the regency of the Earl of Moray, and pronounced the imprisonment of the Queen’ lawful. The Regent, on the other hand, declared that he forgave Lord Herries and the other nobles who had formed the Queen’s party all that they had done on her behalf. All the Acts passed by the Estates in 1561 in favour of the Protestant religion were ratified by this Parliament.

At this meeting of the Estates Lord Herries delivered ‘a plausible oration,’ ‘eulogizing the nobles who from the beginning had adopted measures for the punishment of the Earl of Bothwell, and defended them in imprisoning in Loch Leven the Queen, whose inordinate affection to that wicked man was such that she could not be persuaded to leave him.’ He declared that he and those in whose names he spoke would hazard their lives and lands for maintaining the cause in which these nobles had embarked, and that if the Queen herself were in Scotland with twenty thousand men, this would not alter their purpose. And yet, before the close of the month, Lord Herries and his associates, who had thus publicly declared their adherence to the King’s Government, entered into a bond pledging themselves to do their utmost to effect the liberation of the Queen from her prison in Loch Leven. On Mary’s escape, 20th May, 1568, Lord Herries and others, who at the last Parliament had solemnly pledged themselves to support the throne of the infant King, entered into a bond for the defence of the person and authority of the Queen. The Scottish nobles of that day seem to have been utterly lost to all sense of truth or honour.

At the battle of Langside Lord Herries commanded Mary’s horse, who were almost all dependents and tenants of Lord Maxwell, his nephew. On the defeat of the Queen’s army he accompanied her in her flight, and conducted her to his own house at Terregles, where she rested some days. Thence she went to Dundrennan Abbey; and when, in spite of his earnest entreaties, she persisted in throwing herself on the protection of Elizabeth, he accompanied her to Carlisle. By her orders he posted to London, carrying letters to the English Queen, expressing her strong desire for a personal interview, which was declined. He acted as one of her commissioners at York and Westminster, and took an active part in the negotiations and intrigues for her restoration to liberty. With the view of accommodating matters between the two parties, a meeting took place between the leaders on each side, at which an agreement was made that the Duke of Chatelherault would acknowledge the authority of the infant King, and the Regent became bound to get the sentence of forfeiture pronounced on Queen Mary’s friends rescinded, and their estates restored. But at the convention which followed the Duke showed a disposition to recede from his promise, and pleaded for delay in taking the oath of allegiance to the King. Upon this the Regent imprisoned him in the castle of Edinburgh, and along with him Lord Herries, on whom he laid the whole blame of the Duke’s vacillating conduct, but they recovered their liberty shortly after the assassination of the Regent.

Lord Herries ultimately submitted to the King’s Government on the conclusion of the treaty of peace at Perth, 23rd February, 1572-3, between the Regent Morton, and Chatelherault and Huntly representing the Queen’s party; but he took part with other nobles in the plot to deprive Morton of the office of Regent, and was appointed one of the council of twelve who were to assist the young King when he assumed the government. He attached himself to the party of Esme Stewart, Lord d’Aubigny, the royal favourite, who was created Earl and Duke of Lennox, and made various unsuccessful efforts to effect a reconciliation between him and his enemies, before the Duke was sent out of the kingdom.

Lord Herries died suddenly, on Sunday, 20th January, 1582, when going to an upper chamber in William Fowkes’s lodging, in the time of sermon, ‘to see the boys bicker.’ He said before dinner, that he durst not trust himself to go to the afternoon’s preaching, because he found himself weak. Leaning to a wall, he fell down by little and little, saying to a woman who followed, ‘Hold me, for I am not weale.’ His wife survived him ten years. They had issue four sons and seven daughters. WILLIAM MAXWELL, the eldest son, succeeded his father as fifth Lord Herries; and JOHN MAXWELL, the eldest of his eight sons, became sixth Lord Herries in 1603, but nothing worthy of special notice occurred in their history. JOHN MAXWELL, the seventh Lord Herries, as we have seen, succeeded as third Earl of Nithsdale, on the death of his kinsman Robert, second Earl, without issue, in 1667.


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