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Memoirs and Adventures of Sir William Kirkaldy of Grange
Knight, Commander of French Horse, Lord of the Secret Council, and Governor of the Castle of Edinburgh for Mary Queen of Scots (1849)


Though no period of Scottish history has been more elaborately discussed than that of Mary, the author presents these Memoirs to his readers, assured that they cannot fail to become interested in the career of Kirkaldy of Grange.

Without endeavouring to discover the secret springs or impulses which moved the great politicians and turbulent nobles of that age, the author has presented, as distinctly as he can, the life and actions of one of the most remarkable men of the time. He has not ventured upon those elaborate disquisitions which necessarily load the pages of history, but has rather endeavoured to awaken interest by the minute detail of individual action.

By confining a narrative to the history of an individual rather than of a nation, a better idea of the time may be gathered, and striking anecdotes and glimpses given of great men of the day—incidents which the historian, as a recorder of more important events, passes over in silence.

In the days of Sir William Kirkaldy, Scotland was filled with selfish, furious, and bigoted leaders in war and theology, whose hearts were fired by religious fanaticism and military ferocity— men suited to that iron age, which exercised so powerful an influence on the development of the national character and spirit; and for which the gentle Mary Stuart, by her mind and accomplishments, was altogether so unfitted.

Mary was peculiarly unfortunate in living at the period of the Reformation—an event which might not have happened in her time, had not the cupidity of the Scottish barons been excited by the hope of acquisitions from the plunder of the church. For many a gloomy year after that event, Scotland was one vast arena of ambitious intrigue, political rancour, and religious animosity, which the clergy fostered to the utmost, and of which the detestable policy of England made a cruel and fatal use.

In the strife so long waged between two factions of fierce and grasping nobles, the mass of the Scottish people (like the Spaniards of our own day) concerned themselves but little—a fact proved by the small number of combatants ranged under the chiefs on each side.

The author has avoided those perplexing hypotheses concerning the crimes and intrigues of the time, and, without caring to assume the part of pleader for the misguided Mary, the subtle Murray, or the heartless Elizabeth, has confined himself to giving descriptive accounts of the battles, sieges, and feuds of the period, and to exhibiting the romantic achievements and brilliant adventures of the brave warrior whose Memoirs are now for the first time laid before the public.

Many notices are given respecting the old localities where those stirring events were acted, and of the tactics, cannon, and weapons of the age, when the defensive armour and heraldic cognisances of the days of chivalry were gradually giving place to the military fashions of our own.

The authorities are placed before the reader; many more might have been given, but they would, perhaps, have imparted a tedium to the work. The events of the hero’s life, from his debut in his father’s house of Halyards to the close of the scene, have been chiefly drawn from rare and privately printed works, which, with other ancient lore delineating our national history, are generally beyond the reach of the reading public.

Some information concerning the Kirkaldys of Grange has been gleaned from an ancient MS. birth-brief of the family, and upwards of thirty MS. charters and other documents preserved in the Record Office, and Office of the Great Seal. For local information concerning them, the author was indebted to the late incumbent of Kinghorn.

A gentleman, holding an official situation in Fifeshire, had in his possession, thirty years ago, a great many of Sir William Kirkaldy’s private papers; since then they have unfortunately been lost beyond the chance of recovery.

Notwithstanding that he was for five years governor of Edinburgh castle, no documents concerning him are preserved in the fortress. In the Ordnance Offices in London and Edinburgh there is now no document relating to the castle dated farther back than a hundred years, all the old records and garrison-orders relating to that important stronghold in 1745 (and prior to that period, which is so interesting to Scotsmen) haring been committed to the flames some years ago—a piece of strange policy or wanton destruction, which, however, must have emanated in an order from the Master-General of the Ordnance.

Edinburgh, November 1848.


Chapter I. The Kirkaldys of that Ilk
Chapter II. The Lord High Treasurer
Chapter III. The Conspirators
Chapter IV. The Death of Cardinal Beatoun
Chapter V. The Castle Blockaded
Chapter VI. Arrival of Leon Strozzio
Chapter VII. Mont Saint Michel Captivity and Escape
Chapter VIII. The Wars in Picardy, First Campaign
Chapter IX. Second Campaign, The Death of Norman Leslie
Chapter X. Battles of Renti and Saint Quentin
Chapter XI. Grange Returns to Scotland, His Marriage Breaks a Spear with Ralph Evers
Chapter XII. The Lords of the Congregation
Chapter XIII. The French inroad in Fife
Chapter XIV. Kirkaldy Destroys L'Abest and his Company, He Revenges Himself on D'Oisel
Chapter XV. The Roundabout Raid
Chapter XVI. Carberry Hill
Chapter XVII. The Broken Treaty, Lochleven
Chapter XVIII. The Unicorn
Chapter XIX. The Battle of Langside
Chapter XX. Kirkaldy Governor of Edinburgh Castle
Chapter XXI. Kirkaldy and his Soldiers Revolt
Chapter XXII. The Exploits of Captain Melville
Chapter XXIII. The Lords of the Black Parliament
Chapter XXIV. The Douglas Wars, The Leaguers of Merchiston
Chapter XXV. The Double Betrayal, Lady Helen Kirkaldy
Chapter XXVI. The Signal Gun, The English Troops
Chapter XXVII. The Last Efforts of Valour and Despair
Chapter XXVIII. The Gibbet and the Setting Sun
Chapter XXIX. The Signal Gun - The English Troops
Chapter XXX. The Last Efforts of Valour and Despair
Chapter XXXI. The Gibbet and the Setting Sun

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