Search just our sites by using our customised search engine

Unique Cottages | Electric Scotland's Classified Directory

Click here to get a Printer Friendly PageSmiley

Domestic Annals of Scotland
Reign of James VI. 1578 - 1585

VERY soon after Morton had demitted the regency, he partly recovered his power, and this he continued for some time to exercise. The young king remained in Stirling Castle, under considerable restraint. With a view to acquire some control over him, as the only means of resisting the English or Protestant interest, his mother and French grand-uncles sent to his court a young gentleman of engaging manners, in whom they had confidence. This was Esme Stuart, usually called Monsieur d’Aubigné, a member of the Lennox family, being nephew of the late Regent, but who had been brought up in France. It was believed that he carried with him forty thousand pieces of gold, to be employed in winning favour with the Scottish nobility. ‘He was,’ says a contemporary, ‘a man of comely proportion, civil behaviour, red-beardit, honest in conversation, weel likit of by the king and a part of his nobility at the first" To aid him in his purpose, he brought with him one called Monsieur Mombirneau, ‘a merry fellow, able in body and quick in spirit.' The young king readily opened his heart to this pleasant relative, who took care to accommodate himself to his tastes, and to assist, above all, in making his time pass agreeably. About the same time, another but more distant relative, James Stuart, of the Ochiltree family, a captain in the royal guard, began to acquire favour with the king. This was altogether a less worthy person than D’Aubigné, being arrogant, domineering, and vicious. D’Aubigué, however, being a Catholic, and suspected of designs in favour of popery, was perhaps the least liked of the two.

It was in September 1579, when little more than thirteen years of age, that James was for the first time so far liberated from the control of Morton and other councillors, as to be able to leave his castle of Stirling. Accompanied by D’Aubigné, then newly arrived, he made a formal visit to Edinburgh, where the citizens gave him a most affectionate reception.

This was a more important crisis of British history than is generally supposed. It was now that a commencement was made of that struggle for authority which we see going on through the remainder of this and the whole of the ensuing century. James had been reared as the creature of the zealous Presbyterian party. When he began to judge for himself, and to become conversant with minds beyond the range of his earlier associations, his affections led him to prefer those who had been his mother’s friends, and he soon came to believe that they and such as they were likely to be his own warmest supporters. What was most important of all, he found that the Presbyterian clergy, while professing respect for him as the chief-magistrate of the land, and disposed to obey him in civil matters, claimed to be, in things ecclesiastical, not merely independent of him, but his superiors. Restricting the idea of the church to those ‘exercising the spiritual function among the congregations of them that profess the truth,’ they asserted that it had 'a certain power granted by God,’ having ‘ground in the word of God,’ and ‘to be put into execution by them unto whom the government of the kirk by lawful calling is committed.’ And, ‘as the ministers and others of the ecclesiastical state are subject to the magistrate civil, so aucht the person of the magistrate to be subject to the kirk spiritually and in ecclesiastical government.’ In their view, as far as his own religions and moral practice was concerned, King James was only a parishioner of the Canongate. On the other hand, when one of their order interfered with politics in his sermon, he was only liable to be challenged by his presbytery. The claim was presented by men of whose disinterestedness there can be no more doubt than of their religious zeal; that it might have worked satisfactorily if it had ever found a monarch who would cordially accept and submit to it, cannot be denied, for we have had no experience on the subject, the final settlement of the Scotch church at the Revolution having left it in a doubtful state. The compromise which was attained at the end of a century-long struggle, was unattainable in the days of King James. The pretension only set him upon looking up scriptural texts too, texts which could be interpreted as setting the royal authority equally above human challenge; and such were not difficult to be found. Hence arose the celebrated doctrine of the divine right of kings—a sort of antithesis to a doctrine which would have made kings in one important respect the subjects of a set of church-courts. And so commenced that unfortunate course of things in our national history, which has presented this king as in constant antagonism to the ecclesiastical forms and order of worship preferred by the great bulk of his people, as seeking by all arts to thrust hated systems upon them, and as founding a policy which, becoming a deadly and obstinate struggle with his descendants, alternately gave us anarchy and despotism, till it ended in the total overthrow of the main line of the House of Stuart. Such were the natural fruits of the earnestness, beautiful but terrible, with which men then seized and worked out principles which they found, or thought they found, in the Bible—arguing on the religion of peace and good-will to men, with swords in their hands, and laws as cruel as swords, till a sense of the inconsequentiality of such reasoning for any good at length came over most of them with the sickening effect of a wind from a field of battle, and disposed them to rest content with the sulky mutual protest in which they have since lived.

Notwithstanding a strenuous opposition from Elizabeth and the Presbyterian clergy, D’Aubigné, whom James made Earl, and finally Duke of Lennox, succeeded in greatly advancing the French interest. It was in vain that the ministers railed at him as a papist: he coolly came before them and abjured popery. A confession of faith, condemning the pope and all his pretensions and works, was brought forward: James and his councillors, including the Earl of Lennox, unhesitatingly signed it (January 28, 1580-1). Morton, who alone possessed the personal character that could effectually stand for the English interest and the kirk, had, by his cruel and avaricious conduct, lost the support of all classes, the clergy included. It was even found possible to effect the ruin of this great man. On the last of December 1580, the adventurer Stuart came into the council-chamber, and, falling on his knees, accused the ex-Regent of being concerned in the murder of his majesty’s father. To the general surprise, he fell without a struggle, and after a few months’ confinement, he perished on the scaffold (June 2, 1581).

Under Lennox and Stuart—the latter now created Earl of Arran—a movement was made for bringing an episcopate into the church. Arran is said to have put the idea of absolute power into the king’s mind, and a French alliance was threatened. The clergy, in general assembly, showed their usual courage in protesting against the court proceedings. The conduct of their moderator, Andrew Melville, was specially remarkable. When he and his fellow-cornmissioners came before the council with their grieves, Arran, according to a contemporary narration, ‘begins to threaten, with thrawn brow and boasting lauguage. "What!" says he, "wha dar subseryve thir treasonable articles?" Mr Andrew answers: "We dar, and will subseryve them, and give our lives in the cause!" And withal starts to, and taks the pen fra the clerk and subseryves, and calls to the rest of his brethren with courageous speeches; wha all cain and subseryvit.’ Such were the men who faced the king in behalf of an independent rule for the kirk of Scotland.

At length there was a reaction against the dominion of the two court favourites. A combination of nobles of the ultra-Protestant party—the Earl of Gowrie, the Earl of Mar, Lord Glammis, and others, laid a gentle compulsion on the young king while he was staying at Ruthven House near Perth (August 1582), and his councillors Lennox and Arran were debarred from his presence. After this event, known in our history as the Raid of Ruthven, the king remained under the control of his new councillors for a year, during which a pure Presbyterianism was again encouraged, and the English alliance was cultivated. The Duke of Lennox was forced to withdraw to France, where, to the great grief of the king, he soon after contracted a sickness, and died.

Regaining his liberty by stratagem, James once more put himself under the guidance of the profligate but energetic Arran. A modified episcopate was established in the church, under a subordination to the state, and a restraint was imposed on the tongues of the clergy in the pulpit. The Earl of Gowrie was brought to the block. Several ministers, including Melville, had to take refuge in England. But the general tendency of things in Scotland was inconsistent with the rule of a man possessing the genius of Arran. Elizabeth, too, deemed it best for her interests that others should have the control of Scottish affairs. Accordingly, a new and more formidable combination was formed. Joined by Lord John Hamilton, the head of the long proscribed house of Hamilton, and by Lord Maxwell, whom Arran had offended, they advanced with an army of 5000 men to Stirling, then the seat of the court. Arran, unable to resist, fled, and was allowed to fall into obscurity. The king with great placidity put himself into the hands of his new councillors (November 1585). This coup d’etat was followed by the restoration of the Hamilton family to its titles and estates.

The young king having now assumed the government, and being about to make his first visit to Edinburgh, the magistrates and citizens were anxious to give him an honourable reception. There was immediately a great bustle regarding the preparation of a silver cupboard and other pieces of plate to be presented to him, as well as the getting of dresses suitable to be worn by the chief men at the royal entry. There was even a deputation to the High School, ‘to vesie the maister of the Hie Schule tragedies to be made by the bairns, and to report;’ besides another ‘to speak the Frenchman for his opinion in device of the triumph.’

All merchants stented to above ten pounds were enjoined to have ‘everilk ane of them ane goune of fine black camlet of silk of serge, barrit with velvet, effeiring his substance.’ All stented to sixteen pounds, ‘to have their gounes of the like stuff, the breists thereof linit with velvet, and begairit with coits of velvet, damas, or sattin.’ The thirteen city-officers were to have each a livery composed of three ells of English stemming to be hose, six quarters of Rouen canvas to be doublets, with 13s. 4d. for passments, and a black hat with a white string.

Another preparative was an edict, that all manner of persons having cruives for swine under their stairs or in common vennels, ‘and sic like as has middings and fulyie collectit, or has tar barrels on the Hie Street, as also ony redd stanes or timber on the said Hie Street or common vennels, remove the same.’ Pioneers, too, ‘to shool in the muck outwith the West Port.’ The inhabitants to hang their stairs with tapestry and arras wark. The Privy Council, on their part, proclaimed penalties against all who should come with firearms, or any other armour than their swords and whingers.

Sep 30
The boy-king came from Stirling attended by about two thousand men on horseback, and his reception in the city was quaintly magnificent. ‘At the West Port he was receivit by the magistrates under a pompous pall of purple velvet. That port presentit unto him the wisdom of Solomon, as it is written in the thrid chapter of the first book of Kings; that is to say, King Solomon was representit with the twa women that contendit for the young child. This done, they presented unto the king, the sword for the one hand, and the sceptre for the other. And as he made further progress within the town, in the street that ascends to the Castle there is an ancient port [the West Bow], at the whilk there hang a curious globe that openit artificially as the king came by, wherein was a young boy that descendit craftily, presenting the keys of the town to his majesty, that were all made of fine massy silver; and these were presently receivit by ane of his honourable council at his awn command. During this space, Dame Music and her scholars exercisit her art with great melody. Then in his descent [along the High Street], as he came foment the house of Justice, there shew themselves unto him four gallant vertuous ladies; to wit, Peace, Justice, Plenty, and Policie; and either of them had ane oration to his majesty. Thereafter, as he came toward the chief collegiate kirk, there Dame Religion shew herself, desiring his presence, whilk he then obeyit by entering the kirk; where the chief preacher for that time made a notable exhortation unto him for the embracing of religion and all her cardinal vertues, and of all other moral vertues. Thereafter he came forth, and made progress to the Mercat Cross, where he beheld Bacchus with his magnifick liberality and plenty distributing of his liquor to all passengers and beholders, in sic appearance as was pleasant to see. A little beneath is a mercat place of salt, whereupon was paintit the genealogy of the kings of Scotland, and a number of trumpets sounding melodiously, and crying with loud voice, Welfare to the King! At the east port was erectit the conjunction of the planets, as they were in their degrees and places the time of his majesty’s happy nativity, and the same vively representit by the assistance of King Ptolemy. And withal the haill streets were spread with flowers, and the fore-houses of the streets, by the whilk the king passit, were all hung with magnifick tapestry, with paintit histories and with the effigies of noble men and women. And thus he passed out of the town of Edinburgh, to his palace of Halyroodhouse.’ - H. K. J.

Oct 20
The Estates passed an act against ‘strang and idle beggars,’ and ‘sic as make themselves fules and are bards;' likewise against ‘the idle people calling themselves Egyptians, or any other that feigns them to have knowledge of charming, prophecy, or other abused sciences, whereby they persuade the people that they can tell their weirds, deaths, and fortunes, and sic other fantastical imaginations.’ The act condemns all sorts of vagrant idle people, including ‘minstrels, sangsters, and tale-tellers, not avowed in special service by some of the lords of parliament or great burghs,’ and ‘vagabond scholars of the universities of St Andrews, Glasgow, and Aberdeen.’ The same act made some provision for the genuine poor, enjoining them all to repair to their native parishes and there live in almshouses: a very nice arrangement for them, it must be owned; only there were not any almshouses for them to live in.

Two poets hanged in August, and an act of parliament against bards and minstrels in October; truly, it seems to have been sore times for the tuneful tribe!

By this time, Arbuthnot’s edition of the Bible was completed and in circulation. The gratification of the clergy on seeing such a product of the native press, found eloquent expression in an address of the General Assembly to the king (June 1579), when they took occasion to praise the printer as ‘a man who hath taken great pains and travel worthy to be remembered;’ and told how there should henceforth be a copy in every parish kirk, to be called the Common Book of the Kirk, ‘as the most meet ornament for such a place.’ ‘Oh what difference,’ exclaimed these devout men, ‘between thir days of light, when almost in every private house the book of God’s law is read and understood in our vulgar language, and the age of darkness, when scarcely in a whole city, without the cloisters of monks and friers, could the book of God once be found, and that in a strange tongue of Latin, not good, but mixed with barbarity, used and read by few, and almost understood and exponed by none.’ All worldly wealth seemed vain and poor compared with this fountain of spiritual comfort. ‘We ought,’ they said, ‘with most thankful hearts to praise and extol the infinite goodness of God, who hath accounted us worthy to whom He should open such an heavenly treasure.’—B. U. K.

Nov 10
In that unmistrusting reliance on force for religious objects which marked the age, it was enacted in parliament, that each householder worth three hundred merks of yearly rent, and all substantious yeomen and burgesses esteemed as worth five hundred pounds in land and goods, should have a Bible and psalm-book in the vulgar tongue, under the penalty of ten pounds. A few months later (June 16, 1580), one John Williamson was commissioned under the privy seal to visit and search every house in the realm, ‘and to require the sicht of their Bible and psalm-buke, gif they ony have, to be marked with their awn name, for eschewing of fraudful dealing in that behalf.’

The zeal of the clergy, their self-denying poverty, their resoluteness in advancing their views of church polity against court influence, have all been touched upon. Little more than six hundred in number—for hundreds of the parishes had no minister—they were indefatigable in their efforts to moralise the rude mass of the community; although it was, by their own account, such as might have appeared hopeless to other men; there being now, as they said, an ‘universal corruption in the whole realm,’ ‘great coldness and slackness’ even in the professors of religion, and a ‘daily increase of all kinds of fearful sins and enormities, as incest, adulteries, murders, . . . cursed sacrilege, ungodly sedition and division, . . . with all manner of disorders and ungodly living.’

The picture which James Melville gives of the four ministers of Edinburgh, then living in one house—where the Parliament House now stands—is very interesting: ‘God glorified himself notably,’ says he, ‘with that ministry of Edinburgh in these days. The men had knawledge, uprightness, and zeal; they dwelt very commodiously together, as in a college, with a wonderful concert in variety of gifts; all strake on ae string, and soundit a harmony. John Dune was of small literature, but had seen and marked the great warks of God in the first Reformation, and been a doer baith with tongue and hand. He had been a diligent hearer of Mr Knox, and observer of all his ways. He conceivit the best grounds of matters wed, and could utter them fairly, fully, and fearfully, with a mighty spreit, voice, and action. The special gift I marked in him was haliness, and a daily and nightly careful, contiunal walking with God in meditation and prayer. He was a very gude fallow, and took delight, as his special comfort, to have his table and house filled with the best men. These he wald gladly hear, with them confer and talk, professing he was but a book-bearer, and wald fain learn of them; and getting the ground and light of knawledge in any guid point, then wald he rejoice in God, praise and pray thereupon, and urge it with sae clear and forcible exhortation in assemblies and pulpit, that he was esteemed a very furthersome instrument. There lodgit in his house at all these assemblies in Edinburgh for common, Mr Andrew Melville, Mr Thomas Smeaton, Mr Alexander Arbuthnot, three of the learnedest in Europe; Mr James Melville, my uncle, Mr James Balfour, David Ferguson, David Home, ministers; with some zealous, godly barons and gentlemen. In time of meals was reasoning upon guid purposes, namely matters in hand; thereafter qarnest and lang prayer; thereafter a chapter read, and every man about [in turn] gave his note and observation thereof; sae that, gif all had been set down in write, I have heard the learnedest and best in judgment say, they wald not have wished a fuller and better commentary nor [than] sometimes wald fall out in that exercise. Thereafter was sung a psalm; after the whilk was conference and deliberation upon the purposes in hand; and at night before going to bed, earnest and zealous prayer according to the estate and success of matters. And oft times, yea almost daily, all the college was together in sue or other of their houses, &c.’

The picture which the same writer gives of his uncle Andrew is full of fine touches. Andrew was principal of the theological college (St Mary’s) at St Andrews; deeply learned, logical, not arrogant for himself, but possessed of all that disinterestedness and integrity which form the peculiar glory of Knox’s character; to crown all, strenuous and fearless in the advocacy of his views of religion and church-discipline. James describes him as remarkable for patience and equal temper, where others were hot. Yet—’this I ever marked to be Mr Andrew’s manner: Being sure of a truth in reasoning, he wald be extreme hot, and suffer nae man to bear away the contrair, but with reason, words, and gesture, he wald carry it away, caring for nae person, how great soever they were, namely in matters of religion. And in all companies at table and otherways, as he understood and took up the necessity of the persons and matter in hand to require, he wald freely and bauldly hald their ears fu’ of the truth; and, take it as they wald, he wald not cease nor keep silence; yea, and not only anes or twice, but at all occasions, till he fand them better instructed, and set, to go forward in the good purpose.’

His ‘heroic courage and stoutness’ in advancing his own views, and resisting persons of authority set upon establishing what he thought error, was equally remarkable. For example—’The Regent [Morton], seeing he could not divert him by benefits and offers, calls for him ae day indirectly, and after lang discoursing upon the quietness of the country, peace of the kirk, and advancement of the king’s majesty’s estate, he breaks in upon sic as were disturbers thereof by their conceits and ower-sea dreams, imitation of Geneva discipline and laws; and after some reasoning and grounds of God’s word alledgit, whilk irritat the Regent, he breaks out in choler and boasting [threatening] : "There will never be quietness in this country till half a dozen of you be hangit or banishit the country." "Tush, sir," says Mr Andrew, "I have been ready to give my life where it was not half sae wed wared [spent], at the pleasure of my God. I lived out of your country ten years as weel as in it. Let God be glorified, it will not lie in your power to hang or exile his truth."’

1580, Apr
John Innes, of that Ilk, being childless, entered, in March 1577, into a mutual bond of tailyie with his nearest relation, Alexander Tunes, of Cromy, conveying to him his whole estate, failing heirs-male of his body, and taking the like disposition from Cromy of his estate. There was a richer branch of the family represented by Robert Innes, of Innermarky, who pined to see the poorer preferred in this manner. So loud were his expressions of displeasure, that ‘Cromy, who was the gallantest man of his name, found himself obliged to make the proffer of meeting him single in arms, and, laying the tailyie upon the grass, see if he durst take it up—in one word, to pass from all other pretensions, and let the best fellow have it.’

This silenced Innermarky, but did not extinguish his discontent. He began to work upon the feelings of the Laird of Innes, representing how Cromy already took all upon himself, even the name of Laird, leaving him no better than a masterless dog—as contemptible, indeed, as a beggar—a condition from which there could be no relief but by putting the usurper out of the way. This he himself offered to do with his own hand, if the laird would concur with him: it was an unpleasant business, but he would undertake it, rather than see his chief made a slave. By these practices, the weak bird was brought to give his consent to the slaughter of an innocent gentleman, his nearest relation, and whom he had not long before regarded with so much good-will as to admit him to a participation of his whole fortune.

‘There wanted nothing but a conveniency for putting their purpose in execution, which did offer itself in the month of April 1580. At which time Alexander, being called upon some business to Aberdeen, was obliged to stay longer there than he intended, by reason that his only son Robert, a youth of sixteen years of age, had fallen sick at the college, and his father could not leave the place till he saw what became of him. He had transported him out of the Old Town, and had brought him to his own lodgings in the New Town. He had also sent several of his servants home from time to time, to let his lady know the reason of his stay.

‘By means of these servants, it came to be known perfectly at Kinnairdy in what circumstances Alexander was at Aberdeen, where he was lodged, and how he was attended, which invited Tunermarky to take the occasion. Wherefore, getting a considerable number of assistants with him, he and Laird John ride to Aberdeen; they enter the town upon the night, and about midnight came to Alexander’s lodging.

‘The outer gate of the close they found open, but all the rest of the doors shut. They were afraid to break up the doors by violence, lest the noise might alarm the neighbourhood; but choiced rather to raise such a cry in the close as might oblige those who were within to open the doors and see what it might be.

‘The feuds at that time betwixt the families of Gordon and Forbes were not extinguished; therefore they raised a cry as if it had been upon some outfall among these people, crying, "Help a Gordon—a Gordon!" which is the gathering-word of the friends of that family. Alexander, being deeply interested in the Gordons, at the noise of the cry started from his bed, took his sword in hand, and opening a back-door that led to the court below, stepped down three or four steps, and cried to know what was the matter. Innermarky, who by his word knew him, and by his white shirt discerned him perfectly, cocks his gun, and shoots him through the body. In an instant, as many as could get about him fell upon him, and butchered him barbarously.

‘Innermarky, perceiving, in the meantime, that Laird John stood by, as either relenting or terrified, held the bloody dagger to his throat, that he had newly taken out of the murdered body, swearing dreadfully that he would serve him in the same way if he did not as he did, and so compelled him to draw his dagger, and stab it up to the hilt in the body of his nearest relation, and the bravest that bore his name. After his example, all that were there behoved to do the like, that all might be alike guilty. Yea, in prosecution of this, it has been told me, that Mr John Innes, afterwards of Coxton, being a youth then at school, was raised out of bed, and compelled by Innermarky to stab a dagger into the dead body, that the more might be under the same condemnation—a very crafty cruelty.

‘The next thing looked after was the destruction of the sick youth Robert, who had lain that night in a bed by his father, but, upon the noise of what was done, had scrambled from it, and by the help of one John of Coloreasons, or rather of some of the people of the house, had got out at an unfrequented back-door into the garden, and from that into a neighbour’s house, where he had shelter, the Lord in his providence preserving him for the executing of vengeance upon these murderers for the blood of his father.

‘Then Innermarky took the dead man’s signet-ring, and sent it to his wife, as from her husband, by a servant whom he had purchased to that purpose, ordering her to send him such a particular box, which contained the bond of tailyie and all that had followed thereupon betwixt him and Laird John, whom, the servant said, he had left with his master at Aberdeen, and that, for dispatch, he had sent his best horse with him, and had not taken leisure to write, but sent the ring.

‘Though it troubled the woman much to receive so blind a message, yet her husband’s ring, his own servant, and his horse, prevailed so with her, together with the man’s importunity to be gone, that she delivered to him what he sought, and let him go.

‘There happened to be then about the house a youth related to the family, who was curious to go the length of Aberdeen, and see the young laird who had been sick, and to whom he was much addicted. This youth had gone to the stable, to intercede with the servant that he might carry him behind him; and in his discourse had found the man under great restraint and confusion of mind, sometimes saying he was to go no further than Kinnairdy (which indeed was the truth), and at other times that he behoved to be immediately at Aberdeen. This brought him to jalouse [suspect], though he knew not what; but further knowledge he behoved to have, and therefore he stepped out a little beyond the entry, watching the servant’s coming, and in the by-going suddenly leaped on behind him, or have a satisfying reason why he refused him. The contest became such betwixt them, that the servant drew his dirk to rid him of the youth’s trouble, which the other wrung out of his bands, and downright killed him with it, and brought back the box, with the writs and horse, to the house of Innes (or Cromy, I know not which).

‘As the lady is in a confusion for what had fallen out, there comes another of the servants from Aberdeen, who gave an account of the slaughter, so that she behoved to conclude a special hand of Providence to have been in the first passage. Her next course was to secure her husband’s writs the best she could, and fly to her friends for shelter, by whose means she was brought with all speed to the king, before whom she made her complaint.’

The son of the murdered man was taken under the care of the Earl of Huntly, who was his relation; but so little apprehension was there of a prosecution for the murder, that Innermarky, five weeks after the event, obtained from his chief a disposition of the estate in his own favour. Two or three years after, however, the young Laird of Cromy came north with a commission for the avenging of his father’s murder, and the Laird of Innes and Innermarky were both obliged to go into hiding. For a time, the latter skulked in the hills, but, wearying of that, he got a retreat constructed for himself in the house of Edinglassie, where he afterwards found shelter. Here young Cromy surprised him in September 1584. The same young man who had killed his servant was the first to enter his Patmos, for which venturesome act he was all his life after called Craig-in-peril. Innermarky’s head was cut off, and, it is said, afterwards taken by Cromy’s widow to Edinburgh, and cast at the king’s feet. The Innermarky branch being thus set aside, young Cromy succeeded in due time as Laird of Innes.—Hist. Acc. Fam. Innes.

June 25
'. . . . being Saturday, betwixt three o’clock afternoon and Sunday’s night thereafter, there blew such a vehement tempest of wind, that it was thought to be the cause that a great many of the inhabitants of Edinburgh contracted a strange sickness, which was called Kindness. It fell out in the court, as well as sundry parts of the country, so that some people who were corpulent and aged deceased very suddenly. It continued with every one that took it three days at least.’—Moy. R.

The king being at St Andrews, on a progress with the Regent Morton, the gentlemen of the country had a guise or fence to play before him. ‘The play was to be acted in the New Abbey. While the people is gazing and longing for the play, Skipper Lindsay, a phrenitic man, stepped into the place which was kept void till the players came, and paceth up and down in sight of the people with great gravity, his hands on his side, and looking loftily. He had a manly countenance, but was all rough with hair. He had great tufts of hair upon his brows, and also a great tuft upon the neb of his nose. At the first sight, the people laughed loud; but when he began to speak he procured attention, as if it had been to a preacher. He discoursed with great force of spirit, and mighty voice, exhorting men of all ranks and degrees to hear him, and take example by him. He declared how wicked and riotous he had been, what he had done and conquest [acquired] by sea, how he had spended and abased himself on land, and what God had justly brought upon him for the same. He had wit, he had riches, he had strength and ability of body, he had fame and estimation above all others of his trade and rank; but all was vanity that made him misken his God. But God would not be miskenned by the highest. Turning himself to the boss [empty] window, where the king and Aubigné was above, and Morton standing beneath, gnapping upon his staff; he applied to him in special, as was marvellous in the ears of the hearers; so that many were astonished and some moved to tears, beholding and hearkening to the man. Among other things, he warned the earl, not obscurely, that his judgment was drawing near and his doom in dressing. And in very deed at the same time was his death contrived. The contrivers would have expected a discovery, if they had not known the man to be phrenitic and bereft of his wit. The earl was so moved and touched at the heart, that, during the time of the play, he never changed the gravity of his countenance, for all the sports of the play.’—Cal.

Sep 9
One Arnold Bronkhorst, a Fleming, had found his way into Scotland, as one of a group of adventurers who were disposed to make a new effort for the successful working of the gold-mines of Lanarkshire. The account we have of the party is obscure and traditional. One Nicolas Hilliard, goldsmith in London, and minature-painter to Queen Elizabeth, is said to have belonged to it, and to have brought Bronkhorst as his servant or assistant. The story is, that, being disappointed of a patent for the mines from the Regent Morton, Bronkhorst was glad at last to remain about the Scottish court as portrait-painter to the king. He certainly did serve the king in that capacity, as we have an account of his paid at this date, to the amount of £64, for three specimens of his art—namely, ‘Ane portrait of his majesty fra the belt upward,’ ‘ane other portrait of Maister George Buchanan,’ and ‘ane portrait of his majesty full length,’ beside a gift of a hundred merks, ‘as ane gratitude for his repairing to this country.’ A twelvemonth later, King James constituted him his own painter for his lifetime, ‘with all fees, duties, and casualties, usit and wont.'

Sep 20
In the midst of the strange phantasmagoria of rudeness and murderous violence on the one hand, and exalted religious zeal on the other, which now passes before us, we find that industrious men were prosecuting useful merchandise at home and abroad, but under painful risks imposed by the general neglect of the laws of health. Witness the following little episode. John Downie’s ship, the William, on her return with a cargo from Danskein [Dantzig], enters the Firth of Forth. Seven merchants of Edinburgh, and some from other towns, are in this vessel, returning from foreign parts, where they have been upon their lawful business. All are doubtless full of pleasant anticipations of the home-scenes which they expect to greet them as soon as they once more set foot on their native soil. Alas! the pest breaks out in the vessel, and sundry of these poor citizens are swept off. The captain dare not approach the shore, but must wait the orders which the authorities may send him. There is immediately a meeting of the Privy Council, at which an order goes forth that the survivors in John Downie’s ship shall land on the uninhabited island called St Colm’s Inch in the Firth of Forth, and there remain till ‘cleansed,’ on pain of death, and no one to traffic with them under the same penalty.

The chief chapter of this sad story, so characteristic of the time, is told in few words by Moysie: ‘There were forty persons in the ship, whereof the most part died.’

On the 27th of November we have a pendant to the tale of the plague-ship. Downie the skipper is dead, leaving a widow and eleven children. James Scott and David Duff; mariners, are also dead, the former leaving a widow and seven children. Several of the passengers are also dead, while the others are pining on the lonely islands of Inchkeith and Inch Garvie. The ship, with its cargo unbroken, is riding at St Colm’s Inch, and beginning to leak, so that much property is threatened with destruction. In these circumstances, the Privy Council, on petition, enacted that orders should be taken, as far as consistent with the public safety, for the preservation of the vessel.

Lord Ruthven and Lord Oliphant were at feud, in consequence of a dispute about teinds. The former, on his return from Kincardine, where he had been attending the Earl of Mar’s marriage, passed near Lord Oliphant’s seat of Dupplin, near Perth. This was construed by Oliphant into a bravado on the part of Ruthven. His son, the Master of Oliphant, accordingly came forth with a train of armed followers, and rode hastily after Lord Ruthven. The foremost of Ruthven’s party, taking a panic, fled in disorder, notwithstanding their master’s call to them to stay. He was then obliged to fly also; but his kinsman, Alexander Stewart, of the house of Traquair, stayed to try to pacify the Oliphant party. He was shot with a harquebuss by one who did not know who he was, to the great grief of the Master.

Lord Ruthven prosecuted the Master for this outrage. The Earl of Morton, out of regard to Douglas of Lochleven, whose son-in-law Oliphant was, gave his influence on that side, and thus incurred some odium, which probably helped to bring about his destruction soon after—Cal.

Oct 20
In a General Assembly held at Edinburgh, an order was issued to execute the acts of the kirk upon apostates, and let them be punished as adulterers; ‘perticularly that the Laird of Dun execute this act upon the Master of Gray, an apostate now returned to Scotland. It being reported to the king that the Master of Gray his house did shake and rock in the night as with an earthquake, and the king [then fourteen years old] interrogating David Fergusson [minister of Dunfermline], "What he thought it could mean that that house alone should shake and totter?" he answered: (‘Sir, why should not the devil rock his awn bairns?"'

An earthquake, noted in Howes’s Chronicle as having been experienced in Kent at midnight of the 1st of May this year, was is probably the cause of the rocking felt at the Master of Gray’s house. In Kent it made ‘the people to rise out of their beds and run to the churches, where they called upon God by earnest prayers to be merciful to them.’

George Auchinleck of Balmanno had been one of the confidants of the Regent in the days of his power. It being well known that he had influence in bringing about the decision of lawsuits, the highest nobility were glad at that time to pay court to him. As an illustration of the nature of his position—Coming one day from the Regent’s house at Dalkeith to Edinburgh, and walking up the High Street, he met one Captain Nesbit, with whom he had some slight quarrel, and drawing his sword, instantly thrust him through the body, so that he was left for dead? So far from seeking concealment after this violence, Auchinleck held straight on to the Tolbooth, where the Court of Session sat, as though he had done no wrong; after which he coolly made his way back to the Regent’s court at Dalkeith. It does not appear that he was in any way punished for stabbing Nesbit.

On another occasion, as Auchinleck stood within the bar of the Tolbooth, an old man of unprosperous appearance made his way through the crowd, asking permission to speak with him. When Auchinleck turned to ask what he wanted, the old man said: ‘I am Oliver Sinclair!’ and without another word, turned and went away. It was the quondam favourite of James V., now a poor and dejected gentleman, albeit connected by near ties with some of the greatest men in the country. Men talked much of this proceeding of Sinclair: it seemed to them equivalent to his saying: ‘Be not too proud of your interest at court. I was once as you are; you may fall to be as I am.’—H of G.

Dec 12
The prediction was now verified, for, Morton being now out of power and in danger of his life, Auchinleck no longer had influence at council or in court. He, moreover, stood in no small personal danger from his many enemies. As he was walking on the High Street of Edinburgh, he was beset at a passage near St Giles’s Church by William Bickerton of Casch, and four other gentlemen, who assailed him with bended pistols, by one of which he was shot through the body, after which he was left for dead. This was thought to be done in revenge for an attack by him upon Archibald, the brother of William Bickerton. The assailants were all found guilty of the slaughterous attempt, but without the aggravation of its being done within three-quarters of a mile of the king’s person, seeing that ‘the king’s majesty was furth at the hunting, the time of the committing thereof.’—Pit.

Auchinleck survived this accident, and we find him in the ensuing March in the hands of the Earl of Arran, and put to the torture, in order to extort from him a confession of certain crimes with which he was charged, but which he denied. He took a part in the affair of the Raid of Ruthven in August 1582. When the Earl of Arran on that occasion, hearing of the king’s being secluded in Ruthven House, came to try if he could gain access to him, ‘the Earl of Gowrie met him at the gate, and had straightway killed him, if George Auchinleck had not held his hand as he was about to have pulled out his dagger to have stabbed him.’—H. of G.

1581, Jan 28
A Confession of Faith was this day subscribed by the king, his household and courtiers, including Lennox, and many of the nobility and other persons, professing ‘the religion now revealed to the world by the preaching of the blessed evangel,’ and solemnly abjuring all the doctrines and practices of the Romish Church.’

Jan 29
This day, Sunday, there were gay doings in the boy-king’s court of Holyrood, namely, running at the ring, justing, and such-like pastimes, besides sailing about in boats and galleys at Leith.—Cal.

The reader must not be too much surprised at this occurring the day after the signing of a solemn confession of the Protestant faith. The truth seems to have been this: the signers signed under the pressure of a party they had some interest for the moment in gratifying or blinding, and the accepters of the document were content with the fact of the signing, without regard to the too probable hypocrisy under which it took place. It is not uncommon for professions to be only a symptom of the reality of the opposite of what is professed.

Mar 11
The ex-Regent now lay a hopeless prisoner in Dumbarton Castle, chiefly occupied, we are told, in reading the Bible, which, though he had forced the people to buy it under a penalty, he had hitherto much neglected himself. One of his servants, named George Fleck, ‘was apprehended in Alexander Lawson’s house [in Edinburgh], together with the said Alexander, not without their own consents, as was alleged, to reveal where the Earl of Morton’s treasure lay. The bruit [rumour] went---when the booth were presented to George Fleck, that he revealed a part of the treasure to be lying in Dalkeith yard, under the ground; a part in Aberdour, under a braid stone before the gate; a part in Leith. Certain it is, he [the earl] was the wealthiest subject that had been in Scotland for many years.’—Cal.

Sir James Melville tells us that, long before the trial of Morton, his gold and silver were transported by his natural son, James Douglas, and one of his servants called John Macmoran. ‘It was first carried in barrels, and afterwards hid in some secret parts; part was given to be kept by some who were looked upon as his friends, who made ill account of it again; so that the most part thereof lighted in bad hands, and himself was so destitute of money, that when he went through the street to the Tolbooth to undergo his assize, he was compelled to borrow twenty shillings to distribute to the poor, who asked alms of him for God’s sake.’

In May, he ‘was brought to Edinburgh, and kept in Robin Gourlay’s house, ’with a band of men of weir.’ James Melville says: ‘The very day of his putting to assize, I happened to be in Edinburgh, and heard and saw the notablest example, baith of God’s judgment and mercy that, to my knowledge, ever fell out in my time. For in that Tolbooth, where oftentimes, during his government, he had wrested and thrawn judgment, partly for gain, whereto he was given, and partly for particular favour, was his judgment overthrown; and he wha, above any Scotsman, had maist gear, friendship, and cliental, had nane to speak a word for him that day; but, the greatest part of the assizers being his knawn unfriends, he was condemned to be headit on a scaffold, and that head, whilk was sae witty in warldly affairs and policy, and had commanded with sic authority and dignity within that town and judgment-seat, to be set upon a prick upon the hichest stane of the gable of the Tolbooth that is towards the public street.’

Morton was condemned for being ‘airt and part' concerned in the murder of Darnley. He was more clearly an actor in the cruel slaughter of Riccio. After doing his best to insnare Mary into a marriage with Bothwell, he had headed a rebellion against her on hypocritical pretences. The extortions he had practised during his regency, in order to enrich himself, shewed an equally sordid and cruel character. Throughout all the time of his government, he had outraged decency by the grossness of his private life. Yet ‘he had great comfort that he died a Christian, in the true and sincere profession of religion, whilk he cravit all the faithful to follow, and abide thereat to the death.’—Moy. ‘He keepit the same countenance, gesture, and short sententious form of language upon the scaffold, whilk he usit in his princely government. He spake, led about and urgit by the commanders at the four nooks of the scaffold; but after that ance he had very fectfully and gravely uttered, at guid length, that whilk he had to speak, there-after almaist he altered not thir words: "It is for my sins that God has justly brought me to this place; for gif I had served my God as truly as I did my king, I had not come here. But as for that I am condemned for by men, I am innocent, as God knows. Pray for me." . . . . I [am] content to have recordit the wark of God, whilk I saw with my ees and heard with my ears.’— Ja. Mel.

‘After all was done, he went without fear and laid his neck upon the block, crying continually "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit," till the axe of the Maiden—which he himself had caused make after the pattern which he bad seen at Halifax in Yorkshire— falling upon his neck, put an end to his life and that note together. His body was carried to the Tolbooth, and buried secretly in the night in the Greyfriars. His head was affixed on the gate of the city.’—H. of G.

The Maiden
The Maiden

The Maiden, which still exists in the Museum of the Society of the Antiquaries of Scotland, is an instrument of the same nature as the guillotine, a loaded knife running in an upright frame, and descending upon a cross-beam, on which the neck of the culprit is laid. It is not unlikely that the ex-Regent introduced the Maiden; but another allegation, which asserts him to have been the first to suffer by it, is untrue.

At the death of Morton, the common people were much occupied in discussing a prophecy that the Bleeding Heart should fall by the Mouth of Arran. Morton, as a Douglas, bore the Bleeding Heart in his coat-armorial. Captain Stuart having been made Earl of Arran between the time of the accusation and the execution, here, said they, is the prediction realised, though what the Mouth of Arran meant it would have puzzled them to tell. It was probably to this unintelligible stanza in the prophecies of Merling that they referred:

In the mouth of Arran an selcouth shall fall,
Two bloody harts shall be taken with a false train,
And derfly dung down without any dome,
Ireland, Orkney, and other lands many,
For the death of those two great dule shall make.

Morton may be taken as an example of a class of public men in that rude and turbulent time, who were to all appearance earnest Christians of the reforming and evangelical stamp, and nevertheless allowed themselves a licence in every wickedness, even to treachery and murder, whenever they had a selfish object in view, or, more strangely still, when the interests of religion, in their view of the matter, called on them so to act.

Nothing is more remarkable in the history of this period than the coincidence of wicked or equivocal actions and pious professions in the same person. Adam Bothwell, Bishop of Orkney, who performed the marriage-ceremony of Mary and Bothwell, and afterwards in the basest manner took active part against her— who was in constant trouble with the General Assembly on account of his shortcomings - writes letters full of expressions of Christian piety and resignation. He is constantly ‘saying with godly Job, gif we have receivit guid out of the hand of the Lord, why should we not alsae receive evil—giving him maist hearty thanks therefore, attesting our godly and stedfast faith in him, whilk is maist evident in time of probane.’ Sir John Bellenden, justice-clerk, who had a share in the murder of Signor David, and who, on receiving a gift of Hamilton of Bothwell-haugh’s estate of Woodhouselee from the Regent Moray, turned Hamilton’s wife out of doors, so as to cause her to run mad—this vile man, in his will, speaks of ‘my saul, wha baith sall meet my Maister with joy and comfort, to hear that comfortable voice that he has promisit to resotat [resuscitate], saying, Come unto me thou as ane of my elect.’

1581, June 11
An entry in the Lord Treasurer’s books reveals the mood of the gay king and his courtiers, nine days after the bloody end of Morton. It is Sunday, and James is residing with the Duke of Lennox at Dalkeith Castle. He attends the parish church within the town, and, after service, returns, with
two pipers playing before him.

It was, however, only four days after the death of Morton, and while his blood was still fresh upon the streets, that the man who had brought him to the block passed through the gay scenes of a marriage. Captain Stuart—for Scottish history can scarcely be induced to recognise him as Earl of Arran—had formed a shameful connection with a lady of high birth and rank now figuring at the Scottish court. Born Elizabeth Stewart, as daughter of the Earl of Athole, she had first been wife of Lord Lovat—then, after his death, wife of the Earl of March, brother of the Regent Lennox. Her intrigue with Captain James, her divorce of the Earl of March on alleged reasons which history would blush to mention, her quick-following marriage to Arran while in a condition which would have given her husband a plea of divorce against herself, and this occurring so close to the time when Arran had shed the blood of his great enemy, form a series of events sufficient to mark the character of the court into which the young king had emerged from the strictness of Presbyterian rule. When the lady brought her husband a son in the subsequent January, the king was invited to the baptism, and we only learn that he was prevented from attending in consequence of a temporary quarrel which had by that time taken place between Lennox and Arran. [A note-worthy anecdote of this lady is stated in Anderson’s History of the Family of Fraser. On the death of her first husband, the tutorship of her infant son, Lord Lovat, became a matter of contention between the child’s grand-uncle, Fraser of Struie, and his uncle Thomas; and it seemed likely there would be a fight between their various partisans. In these circumstances, a clerical gentleman of the clan, Donald Fraser Dhu, entreated the widow to interfere, and ask Struie to retire. She gave an evasive reply, remarking that whatever might befall, ‘not a drop of Stewart blood would be spilt.’ The mediator then drew his dirk, and told her ladyship with a fierce oath, that her blood would be the first that would be spilt, if she did not do as he requested. She then complied, and Thomas, the child’s uncle, was accordingly elected as tutor.]

A contemporary writer, speaking of the countess, calls her ‘the maistresse of all vice and villany,’ and says she ‘infectit the air in his Hieness’ audience.’ He accuses her of controlling the course of justice, and alleges that she ‘caused sundrie to be hanged that wanted their compositions, saying: What had they been doing all their days, that had not so much as five punds to buy them from the gallows?’—Cal.

The Presbyterian clergy regarded the frivolity of Lennox and Mombirneau, their foreign vices and oaths, joined to the coarser native profligacy of Arran and his lady, as forming a bad school for the young king. A love of amusement and buffoonery he certainly contracted from this source; but it is remarkable that he was not drawn into any gross vice by the bad example set before him.

At this time, upwards of twenty years after the Reformation, it was still found that ‘the dregs of idolatry’ existed in sundry parts of the realm, ‘by using of pilgrimage to some chapels, wells, crosses . . . ., as also by observing of the festival-days of the sancts, sometime namit their patrons; in setting furth of bane-fires, [and] singing of carols within and about kirks at certain seasons of the year.’ An act of parliament was now passed, condemning these practices, and imposing heavy fines on those guilty of them; failing which, the transgressors to endure a month’s imprisonment upon bread and water.

1582, June
The archbishopric of Glasgow being vacant, Mr Robert Montgomery accepted it from the king, on an understanding with the king’s favourite, the Duke of Lennox, as to the income. The church excommunicated him. In Edinburgh, ‘he was openly onbeset [waylaid] by lasses and rascals of the town, and hued out by flinging of stones at him, out at the Kirk of Field port, and narrowly escaped with his life.’—Moy.

Sep 4
One consequence of the coup d’etat at Ruthven was the return of John Dune from the banishment into which he had gone in May, to resume his ministry in Edinburgh. The affair makes a fine historic picture.

‘As he is coming from Leith to Edinburgh, there met him at the Gallow Green two hundred men of the inhabitants of Edinburgh. Their number still increased till he came within the Nether Bow. There they began [with bare heads and loud voices] to sing the 124th psalm—"Now Israel may say, and that truly," &c., in four parts [till heaven and earth resounded]. They came up the street to the Great Kirk, singing thus all the way, to the number of two thousand. They were much moved themselves, and so were the beholders. The Duke [of Lennox, who was lodged in the High Street, and looked out and saw], was astonished and more affrayed at that sight than at anything that ever he had seen before in Scotland, and rave his beard for anger. After exhortation made in the reader’s place by Mr James Lowson, to thankfulness, and the singing of a psalm, they dissolved with great joy.’—Cal.

Sep 5
Another consequence of the change at court was, that the Duke of Lennox was forced to leave the kingdom. The Presbyterian historians relate the manner of his departure with evident relish. ‘The duke departed out of the town, after noon, accompanied with the provost, bailies, and five hundred men. . . . . He rode towards Glasgow, accompanied by the Lord Maxwell, the Master of Livingstone, the Master of Eglintoun, Ferniehirst, and sundry other gentlemen.' . . . . He ‘remained in Dunbarton at the West Sea, where, or [ere] he gat passage, he was put to as hard a diet as he caused the Earl of Morton to use there; yea, even to the other extremity that he had used at court; for, whereas his kitchen was sae sumptuous that lumps of butter was cast in the fire when it soked [grew dull], and twa or three crowns waired upon a stock of kale dressing, he was fain to eat of a meagre guse, scoudered with beare strae.’

1582, Sep 25
Died in Edinburgh, George Buchanan, at the age of seventy-eight, immediately after concluding his History of Scotland. His high literary accomplishments, especially his exquisite Latin composition, have made his name permanently famous. His personal character was not without its shades, yet it stands forth amidst the rough scenes of that time as something, on the whole, venerable. Sir James Melville, in noting that, while acting as one of the king’s preceptors, he kept the young monarch in great awe, goes on to speak of him as ‘a stoic philosopher,’ who did not act in that capacity with any view to his worldly interests. ‘A man of notable endowmenth for his learning and knowledge in Latin poesy,’ says this mild contemporary, ‘much honoured in other countries, pleasant in conversation, rehearsing at all occasions moralities short and instructive, whereof he had abundance, inventing where he wanted. He was also religious, but was easily abused, and so facile, that he was led by every company that he haunted, which made him factious in his old days, for he spoke and wrote as those who were about him informed him; for he was become careless, following in many things the vulgar opinion; for he was naturally popular, and extremely revengeful against any man who had offended him, which was his greatest fault. For he did write despiteful invectives against the Earl of Monteith, for some particulars that were between him and the Laird of Buchanan. He became the Earl of Morton’s great enemy, for that a nag of his chanced to be taken from his servant during the civil troubles, and was bought by the Regent, who had no will to part with the said horse, he was so sure-footed and so easy, that albeit Mr George had ofttimes required him again, he could not get him. And, therefore, though he had been the Regent’s great friend before, he became his mortal enemy, and from that time forth spoke evil of him in all places, and at all occasions.’

A little while before Buchanan’s death, while his history was passing through the press of Alexander Arbuthnot in Edinburgh, the Rev. James Melville, accompanied by his uncle Andrew, came from St Andrews ‘anes-errand ‘—that is, on set purpose—to see him and his work. ‘When we came to his chalmer,’ says Melville, ‘we fand him sitting in his chair, teaching his young man that servit in his chalmer, to spell, a, b, ab; e, b, eb; &c. After salutation, Mr Andrew says: "I see, sir, ye are not idle." "Better this," quoth he, "nor stealing sheep, or sitting idle, whilk is as ill." Thereafter he shew[s] us the Epistle Dedicatory to the King; the whilk when Mr Andrew had read he tauld him it was obscure in some places, and wanted certain words to perfite the sentence. Says he: "I may do nae mair for thinking on another matter." "What is that?" says Mr Andrew. "To die," quoth he; "but I leave that and mony mae things for yon to help."

‘We went from him to the printer’s wark-house, whom we fand at the end of the 17 buik of his chronicle, at a place whilk we thought very hard for the time, whilk might be an occasion of staying the hail wark, anent the burial of Davia. [He states that David Riccio was buried by the queen in the royal vault, ‘almost in the arms of Magdalene Valois,’ and thence draws a shameful inference against the chastity of Mary. To dedicate to the young king a book in which he endeavoured to prove his mother an adulteress, and the murderer of her husband, gives a strange idea of the sense of that age regarding the rules of good taste, to say nothing more.] Thereafter, staying the printer from proceeding, we came to Mr George again, and fand him bedfast by [contrary to] his custom; and asking him how he did—"Even going the way of weelfare," says he. Mr Thomas, his cousin, shews him the hardness of that part of his story, [and] that the king might be offended with it, and it might stay all the wark. "Tell me, man," says he, "gif I have tauld the truth?" "Yes," says Mr Thomas, "sir, I think sae." "I will bide his feid, and all his kin’s then," quoth he: "pray, pray to God for me, and let Him direct all."’

The sternness of Scottish prejudices here reaches the heroic.

With its eight centuries of fable in the front, and its glaring partisanship in the latter part, we cannot now attach much importance to Buchanan’s history. Yet in respect of its literary character, it contains some truly felicitous touches, as where he describes the surface of Galloway in four words—’ in modicos colles tumet;’ or the remarkable sea-board of Fife in two— ‘oppidulis praecingitur.’ Expressions like these shew the master of literary art.

Dec 10
The king’s new councillors of course felt that hard measure had been dealt to the ex-Regent. At this date, ‘the Earl of Morton’s head was taken down off the prick which is upon the high gavell of the Tolbooth, with the king’s licence, at the eleventh hour of the day; was laid in a fine cloth, convoyed honourably, and laid in the kist where his body was buried. The Laird of Carmichael carried it, shedding tears abundantly by the way.’—Cal.

1582-3, Jan 23
While the king was in the hands of the Ruthven conspirators, two gentlemen came as ambassadors from France to see what could be done for him, and were of course treated with little civility by the royal councillors. The second, M. de Menainville, must have been the less acceptable to them, if it was true which was alleged, that he had been one of the chief devisers of the league in Picardy against the Protestants. With some difficulty, De Menainville made his way into the royal presence at Holyroodhouse. ‘After some words spoken to the king, he craved that he might be used as an ambassador; that, as he had the use of meat and drink for his body, so he might have food for his soul, meaning the mass, otherwise he would not stay to suffer his most Christian prince’s authority and ambassage to be violated. The king rounded [whispered] and prayed him to be sober in that point, and all would be weel.’ It was not likely that the concession which had been sternly refused to Queen Mary would, at such a time, be granted to him. The king, with much ado, prevailed upon the magistracy of Edinburgh to give the other ambassador, the Sieur de la Motte Fenelon, a banquet on the eve of his departure. The kirk-session opposed the entertainment; and when they found they could not prevent it, they did the next best—held a solemn fast, with preachings and psalm-singing, during the whole time of the feast—namely, from betwixt nine and ten in the morning till two in the afternoon. The ministers called the banquet a holding fellowship with ‘the murderers of the sanets of God.’—Cal.

Mar 28
De Menainville remained for some time after. ‘Upon Thursday the 28th of March, commonly called Skyre Thursday, [he] called into his lodging thirteen poor men, and washed their feet according to the popish manner, whereat the people was greatly offended.’—

Aug 23
All previous efforts at the finding of metals in the country having failed, a contract was now entered into between the king and one Eustachius Roche, described as a Fleming and mediciner, whereby the latter was to be allowed to break ground anywhere in search of. those natural treasures, and to use timber from any of the royal forests in furthering of the work, without molestation from any one, during twenty-one years, on the sole condition that he should deliver for his majesty’s use, for every hundred ounces of gold found, seven ounces; and for the like weight of all other metals - as silver, copper, tin, or lead—ten ounces for every hundred found, and sell the remainder of the gold for the use of the state at £22 per ounce of utter fine gold, and of the silver at 50s. the ounce.—P
C. R.

We light upon Eustachius again on the 3d of December 1585, and he is then in no pleasant plight with his mines. Assisted by a number of Englishmen, he had done his best to fulfil his share of the contract, but ‘as yet he has made little or nae profit of his travel, partly by reason of the trouble of this contagious sickness, but specially in the default of his partners and John Scolloce their factor,’ who would not fulfil either their duty to his majesty or their engagements to himself. Through these causes, ‘the hail wark has been greatly hinderit.’ He had Scolloce warded in Edinburgh; but he, ‘by his majesty’s special command, is latten to liberty, without ony trial taken.’ At the same time, the king’s treasurer ‘has causit arreist the leid ore whilk the complener has presently in Leith, and whilk was won in the mines of Glengoner Water and Winlock.’ This was the greater hardship, as it was the part he had to set aside for the Earl of Arran, in virtue of a contract for the protection of his lordship’s rights to certain lead-mines. The Lords were merciful to the poor adventurer, and ordered the arrestment to be discharged.—P. C. R.

He rises once more before us in a new capacity under September 4, 1588.

Sep 10
The king having now escaped from his Ruthven councillors and fallen once more under the influence of the Earl of Arran, Sir Francis Walsingham came as Elizabeth’s ambassador to express her concern about these movements, and see what could be done towards opposite effects. Coming to a king with an unwelcome message has never been a pleasant duty; but it must have been particularly disagreeable on this occasion, if it be true, as is alleged by a Presbyterian historian, that Arran—who, says he, within a few days after his return to court, ‘began to look braid ‘—hounded out a low woman, called Kate the witch, to assail the ambassador with vile speeches as he passed to and from the king’s presence. She was, it is alleged, hired by Arran ‘for a new plaid and six pounds in money, not only to rail against the ministry [clergy], his majesty’s most assured and ancient nobility, and lovers of the amity [English alliance], but also set in the entry of the king’s palace, to revile her majesty’s ambassador at Edinburgh, St Andrews, Falkland, Perth, and everywhere, to the great grief of all good men, and dishonour of the king and country.’ It is further stated, that, being imprisoned ‘for a fashion,’ large allowance was made for her entertainment, and she was relieved as soon as Walsingham had departed.—Cal.

1583-4, Jan 9
While the kirk was beginning to feel the consequences of the king’s emancipation from the Ruthven lords, it sustained an assault, though of a very petty character, from a different quarter. Robert Brown, a Cambridge student, had three years before attracted attention in Norfolk by his novel and startling ideas regarding ecclesiastical matters. The Bishop of Norwich imprisoned him, with the usual non-success as far as the correction of opinion was concerned. He had then taken refuge at Middleburgh, and there given forth his notions to the world in the form of a pamphlet. Now he was come to Scotland, perhaps thinking it a pity that a people should be in trouble between the contending claims of Prelacy and Presbytery, when he could shew them that both systems were wrong. Landing at Dundee, where, it is said, he received some encouragement, he advanced by St Andrews to Edinburgh, and there took up his quarters ‘in the head of the Canongate,’ along with four or five English followers, who were accompanied by their wives and children. The people—who, for the most part, were passionately attached to the simple fabric of their national church, and dreamt of no rivalship or enmity to it except in episcopacy—how they must have felt at the novel sight of a group of men who, in declaring against bishops, also found fault with sessions and synods, with indeed all ecclesiastical action whatever, considering each congregation independent in itself, and no member of it less entitled to pray and preach than the pastor!

Brown, whose self-confidence in asserting his peculiar doctrines was very great, did not rest four days in Edinburgh before he had presented himself to the general kirk-session for a wrangle. We are told by a Presbyterian historian—he ‘made shew, in an arrogant manner, that he would maintain that witnesses at baptism was not a thing indifferent, but simply evil. But he failed in the probation.’ A week after, ‘in conference with some of the presbytery, he alleged that the whole discipline of Scotland was amiss; that he and his company were not subject to it, and therefore he would appeal from the kirk to the magistrate.’ Considering how the clergy stood with the court, this must have been a most offensive threat; the more so that the court had already shewn some symptoms of favour to Brown, in order to ‘molest the kirk.’ ‘It was thought good that Mr James Lowson and Mr John Davidson should gather out of his book such opinions as they suspected or perceived him to err in, and get them ready, to pose him and his followers thereupon, that thereafter the king might be informed.’ A week later, Brown and his ‘complices’ came before the presbytery, to answer the articles prepared against him. We only further learn that he left Edinburgh, ‘malcontent, because his opinions were not embraced, and that he was committed to ward a night or two till they were tried’ (Cal.), a form of religious disputation highly characteristic of the age. Brown afterwards, when founding his sect of Independents in England, published a volume containing various invectives against the Scottish kirk and its leaders, of which Dr Bancroft took advantage in preaching against presbytery (9th February 1589), while probably ready to consign their author to the pains which the Bishop of Peterborough actually meted out to him by excommunication.

Thomas Vantrollier, a French Protestant, who had come to England early in Elizabeth’s reign, migrated about this time to Edinburgh, where he set up a printing-press. From his office proceeded this year a small volume of poems, composed by the young king, under the title of The Essayes of a Prentise in the Divine Art of Poesie; to which was added a prose treatise embracing the ‘rules and cautels for Scottish poesie:’ a volume of which it may be enough to say, that it betrays a laudable love of literature in the royal author, joined to some power of literary expression. Vantrollier does not appear to have met with sufficient encouragement to induce him to remain in Edinburgh, as he soon after returned to London.

At the end of this month, the pest was brought into Scotland at Wester Wemyss, a small port in Fife—’ where many departed.’

King James tells us in his Basilicon Doron, that ‘the pest always smiths the sickarest such as flies it furthest and apprehends deepliest the peril thereof.’ See his own conduct on this occasion. About the end of September, while he was hunting at Ruthven, ‘word came that there were five or six houses in Perth affected with the plague, where his majesty’s servants were for the time. Whereupon, his majesty departed the same night, with a very small train to Tullibardine, and next day to Stirling, leaving his whole household servants enclosed in the place of Ruthven, with express command to them not to follow, nor remove forth of the same, until they saw what became of them upon the suspicion.’—Moy. R.

The pest on this occasion remained in Perth for several months, working great destruction. It was ordained by the kirk-session, May 24, 1585, that ‘hereafter during the time of the plague, no banquets should be at marriages, and no persons should resort to bridals under pain of ten pounds . . . . forty pounds to be paid by them that call more than four on the side to the banquet, or bridal, during the pest.’

In the ensuing February, under an apprehension about the arrival of the pestilence in their city, the town-council of Edinburgh adopted a highly rational sanitary measure, ordering the ashes, dust, and dirt of their streets to be put up to auction. We do not learn that any one undertook to pay for the privilege of cleaning the streets of the capital, and Maitland remarks in his history, that many years elapsed before the movement was renewed, not to say carried into effect.

Dec 2
'.... baxter’s boy, called Robert Henderson—no doubt by the instigation of Satan—desperately put some powder and a candle in his father’s heather-stack, standing in a close opposite to the Tron of Edinburgh [the public weighing-machine], and burnt the same, with his father’s house, which lay next adjacent, to the imminent hazard of burning the whole town. For which, being apprehended most marvelously, after his escaping out of the town, he was on the next day burnt quick at the Cross, as an example.’—
Moy. R.

1585, Apr 7
John Lord Maxwell was at this time the most powerful man in the south-west province of Scotland. He possessed Caerlaverock Castle and many fair estates. The next man in the district was the chief of the clan Johnston, usually called Johnston of that Ilk, or the Laird of Johnston. The jealousy in which these great lords of the land usually stood of each other chanced at this time to be inflamed into hostilities, and Maxwell took such an attitude towards the profligate government of the Earl of Arran, as to cause himself to be denounced as a rebel. According to the common practice, the court gave a commission to Johnston to proceed against Lord Maxwell, only helping him with two companies of hired troops under the command of Captains Cranstoun and Lammie.

This proved an unfortunate movement for the house of Johnston. The two hired bands were cut to pieces on Crawford Moor by Robert Maxwell, natural brother to the earl. The same bold man proceeded to Johnston’s castle of Lochwood, and at the date noted set fire to it, jestingly remarking that he would give Lady Johnston light ‘to set her hood.’ Johnston himself sustained a defeat at the hands of the Maxwells, was made prisoner by them, and died of a broken heart.

This was only the beginning of a protracted feud between the Maxwells and Johnston; which cost each family, as will be seen, the destruction of two of its chiefs.

Apr 30
John Livingstone of Belstane complained to the Council of an assault which had been made upon him on the 3d of the preceding February by sundry persons, whose motive in so assailing him does not appear. The affair is most characteristic—indeed, a type of numberless other lawless proceedings of the time. John quietly leaves his house before sunrise, meaning no harm to any one, and expecting none to himself. He walks out, as he says under God’s peace and the king’; when suddenly he is beset by about forty people who had him at feud, ‘all bodin in feir of weir;’ namely, armed with jack; steel-bonnet; spear; lance-staff; bow; hagbuts, pistolet; and other invasive weapons forbidden by the laws. At the head of them was William, Master of Yester—a denounced rebel on account of his slaughter of the Laird of Westerhall’s servant— Alexander Jardine, younger of Applegarth; his servants, Stephen Jardine and Matthew Moffat in Woodend, James Borthwick of Colela, John Lauder of Hartpool, Michael Hunter of Polmood, John Hoppringle in Peebles, James Hoppringle of the same place, William Brenarde [Burnett?] of the Barn; John Cockburn of Glen, and Colin Langton of Earlshaugh, were among the company, evidently all of them men of some figure and importance. Having come for the purpose of attacking Livingstone, they no sooner saw him than they set upon him, with discharge of their firearm; to deprive him of his life. He narrowly escaped, and ran back to his house, which they immediately environed in the most furious manner, firing in at the windows and through every other aperture, for a space of three hours. A ‘bullon’ pierced his hat. As they departed, they met his wife and daughter, whom they abused shamefully. In short, it seems altogether to have been an affair of the most barbarous and violent kind. The offenders were all denounced rebels.

May 7
The pest, which had commenced in Perth in the previous September, was believed to be now brought thence by a servant-woman to the Fishmarket in Edinburgh (Moy.), where it ‘was first knawn to be in Simon Mercerbanks’s house.’ (Bir.) From accident or otherwise, the king acted on this occasion exactly as he had done at Perth, when the plague first declared itself there. On the very day when the disease appeared in Edinburgh, he left the city, and ‘rode to Dirleton to a sumptuous banquet prepared by the Earl of Arran.’ (Cal.) The pest continued in the capital till the subsequent January, sometimes carrying off twenty-four people in a single night. ‘The haill people whilk was able to flee, fled out of the town: nevertheless there died of people which were not able to flee, fourteen hundred and some odd.’ (Bir.) It was at St Andrews in August, ‘and continued till upwards of four hundred people died, and the place was left almost desolate.’ (Moy.) Dunse is cited as a place where this pestilence ‘raged extremely.’ (Mar.) In Perth, between 24th September 1584, and August 1585, when it ceased, it carried off fourteen hundred and twenty-seven persons, young and old, or thereby. (Chron. Perth.) This could not be less than a sixth of the entire population.

June 23, 1585, on account of the pest being in Edinburgh, the business of the cunyie-house was ordered to be transported to Dundee, and the coining of gold, silver, and alloyed money to go on there as it had hitherto done in Edinburgh. On the alloyed pennies, OPPIDUM DUNDEE was to be substituted for OPPIDUM EDINBURGI. The Exchequer was also removed to Falkland, and the Court of Session to Stirling. On the 21st of October, the pest being now in Dundee, the coining was ordered to be removed to Perth, and the name of that burgh to be substituted in the circumscription.—P. C. B.

The severity of this pestilence excited the rage of the people against the Earl of Arran and his lady, the then ruling power of the country, to whose infamous life, and to the banishment of the Protestant leaders, the evil was attributed. In the course of the summer, the air being ‘perpetually nebulous,’ and the growing crop ‘universally corrupted,' the popular feeling was further excited in the same direction, and the general cry was that the Lord would not stay his hand till the banished lords were brought home again. These lords actually did draw nearer to the Border, under the encouragement which the plague thus afforded them (Ja. Mel.), and by reason that the citizens of Edinburgh were not now able to come forward and act, in blind obedience to court-orders, as they were wont.

The revolution effected by the ultra Protestant party at Stirling (November 2, 1585), was followed by a stoppage of the pestilence, ‘not by degrees or piecemeal, but in a instant, as it were; so that never any after that hour was known to have been infected, nor any of such as were infected before, to have died. The lane, also, in Stirling by which they [the banished lords] entered, was wholly infected; yet no man [of their party] was known to have been tainted with it, or to have received any hurt: nay, the men of Annandale did rob and ransack the pest-lodges which were in the field about Stirling, and carried away the clothes of the infected, but were never known to have been touched therewith themselves, or any others that got or wore the clothes. They also that were in the lodges, returned to their houses, and conversed with their neighbours in the town, who received them without fear, suspicion, or reproof, and no harm did ensue upon it. As for Edinburgh, before the 1st of February, within three months it was so well peopled and filled again with inhabitants, as none could perceive by the number that any had died out of it.’ This change— ‘nothing can be alleged to have brought it to pass but the very finger of God. Let mankind advert and admire it; and whosoever shall go about to bereave God of his glory by laying it upon fortune, may his chance be such as his perverseness deserveth! ‘—H. of G.

The assumed immunity of the Border thieves is extremely amusing. Being here engaged in the right cause, it mattered not that they committed the monstrous inhumanity of plundering the sick and cheating the heirs of the dead.

James Melville remarks the same connection of circumstances, but places the improvement of the public health a month later. From the meeting of the parliament in December, under the auspices of the king’s new advisers, ‘the pest abated, and began to be strangely and remarkably withdrawn by the merciful hand of God, sae that Edinburgh was frequented again that winter; and at the entry of the spring, all the towns, almost desolate before, repeopled—St Andrews among the rest.’

Melville relates a remarkable anecdote of this pestilence, under November, when he had occasion to return from banishment at Berwick, and to proceed through Edinburgh on his way to attend a General Assembly at Linlithgow. ‘On the morn, we made haste, and, coming to Losterrick [Restalrig], disjuned, and about eleven hours, came riding, in at the Water-gate, up through the Canongate, and rade in at the Nether Bow, through the great street of Edinburgh, to the West Port, in all whilk way we saw not three person, sae that I miskenned Edinburgh, and almost forgot that I had ever seen sic a town.’

Nov 2
‘The news of the taking of Stirling was at the court of England and in London within aught and forty hours; for it being done on Tuesday in the morning, on the Thursday thereafter Mr Bowes tauld us, and on the Friday it was common in the mouths of all London.’—Ja.

Under March 17, 1578, is another instance of extraordinary quickness in the communication of intelligence from Stirling to Edinburgh. In that case, we might suppose that the event only fulfilled a previous design. Such could scarcely be the case here. Sir John G. Dalyell remarks, that ‘rumours subsequently verified are undoubtedly sometimes in circulation. The author recollects very well that the result of the battle of Trafalgar, or of Corunna, was currently reported in the city of Edinburgh, previous to any certain intelligence known to have been received of the fact through what was esteemed the speediest channel: nor, on subsequently computing the intervals, could satisfactory conjectures be formed how it had arrived.' It may be remembered by many that, in the war in Afghanistan in 1842—3, the natives were remarked often to be possessed of intelligence of events occurring at a distance, long before any information had come to the British through recognised channels The author just quoted expresses his opinion that, in such cases, there has merely been an anticipation on probable grounds of an event which was subsequently ascertained to have happened.

Return to Book Index


This comment system requires you to be logged in through either a Disqus account or an account you already have with Google, Twitter, Facebook or Yahoo. In the event you don't have an account with any of these companies then you can create an account with Disqus. All comments are moderated so they won't display until the moderator has approved your comment.

comments powered by Disqus