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

The History of Sanquhar
Chapter IV.—The Crichtons

IN the person of the William de Crichton, already mentioned, there came upon the scene a family of power and influence which, though they, at first, played a part subordinate to the older family of the Edgars, kept their ground, and acquired by purchase the remaining part of the barony of Sanquhar which belonged to that family. Ou his marriage to the heiress of Ryehill, the baronial residence was transferred to the much more important stronghold of Sanquhar Castle, where his family was established for well nigh three hundred years, and continued the leading family in Upper Nithsdale, their history being largely the history of Sanquhar during that long period of time. That being the case, it seems proper to give here a record in a summary form of


According to Holingshed, the first Crichton came over from Hungary with Agatha, widow of the Saxon Prince Edward, when her daughter married Malcolm III., in 1067. Thurstanus de Crichton was a witness to the foundation charter of the Abbey of Holyrood House in 1128, and Thomas de Crichton swore fealty to Edward 1. for lands in Midlothian in 1296. His two sous founded the families of Sanquhar (now represented in the female line by the Marquis of Bute, who is also Earl of Dumfries) and of Frendraught.

The elder son became possessed of half the barony of Sanquhar through his wife, Isabelle de Ros, and subsequently purchased the remainder.

Sir Robert, afterwards Lord Crichton of Sanquhar, was made Coroner of Nithsdale in 1468, and he received from James III. a grant of the confiscated Douglas lands. His cousin, Sir William Crichton, the Chancellor, was also created Lord Crichton. The Crichtons possessed lands in Dryfesdale, Kirkpatrick, in the barony of Kirkmichael, and in the barony of Crawfordstown, now known as the parish of Crawford in Lanarkshire, which bounds with the parish of Sanquhar. Before the Reformation, the Rectory of Kirkconnel was leased from the Abbey of Holyrood for £20 a year by the Crichtons. In 1494, Ninian Crichton, a layman, was parson of Sanquhar. By the marriage of James, the eldest son of Sir Robert, with Lady Janet Dunbar, the family succeeded to the barony of Frendraught-Gawin. The second son of Lord Crichton and Lady Janet seems to have married a daughter of Johnstone of Elphinstone, as he received with his wife in 1479 the lands of Drumgrey, viz., Moling, Monyge, Rahills, &c., in the barony of Kirkmichael, which had been conferred by David II. on a former Adam Johnstone, and were afterwards confirmed to Sir Gilbert Johnstone of Elphinstone by Crown Charter in 1471. Margaret, the daughter of the second Lord Crichton of Sanquhar and his wife Elizabeth Murray, married William Johnstone of Grait-ney, and was the ancestress of the Johnstones of Galabank and Fulford Hall. Estates, however, were increased or diminished with every generation at that period, from the custom of portioning off daughters and younger sons with land, for entails were not restricted to the senior male heir, but to heirs male generally, or to both heirs male and female, and this led to frequent exchanges between different families. Land that was brought by an heiress to a younger son is sometimes found a few years later in the hands of an elder brother’s children, though he may himself have left heirs. An arrangement of this nature was made by the two families of Crichton.

The Ninian Crichton, the parson of Sanquhar, above referred to, was tutor or guardian to his nephews and niece, the children of the second Baron Crichton, as appears by various decrees of the Lords in Council, in which a young Robert, Lord Crichton, is mentioned in 1525, who does not appear in any of the published pedigrees of the Crichton family, the presumption being that he died before he came of age. His brother William, who succeeded him, married a daughter of Malcolm, Lord Fleming. He was killed at Edinburgh, about 1556, by Lord Semple in the house of the Duke of Chatel-herault, who was then Governor of Scotland. Not only was the house of Crichton connected by marriage with other leading families in the country, but they would appear to have been favourites at Court, and were entrusted by the Crown with the discharge of important public offices. Chief among these was the Sheriffship of Dumfries. The duties of this appointment, in those days, were of a somewhat different character to what they have practically become in these times of established order. Whereas now the work of a Sheriff is almost exclusively of a judicial nature, and the military side of the office is only brought into view during the occurrence, happily now very rare, of a riot, in those early times the maintenance of the peace required that the Sheriff of this border county should be a man of some military capacity, and of firmness and resolution of temper.

During the long-continued, though intermittent war that took place between England and Scotland through the determined efforts made by the former to bring Scotland into subjection, measures were taken bv the lighting of what were termed “bails”— that is bonfires—on the principal hill tops along the border, and northward towards the heart of the country, to give warning to the barons of any English invasion. These outbreaks often took place without any previous warning. The diplomatic courtesy, which is now observed among civilised nations before a declaration of war is made, was then totally unknown. The outbreak was frequently unpreceded by any apparent cause of quarrel, but was simply a case of unwarrantable, unprovoked aggression. It was gone about, therefore, without ceremony, and preparations were made with as great secrecy as possible. The time chosen for attack was that which best suited the convenience of the aggressor, and so it commonly happened that the first intimation given that there was mischief in the wind was the sudden appearance of an armed force on the border. Without telegraphs or railways, or even a decent road, the message of warning had to be conveyed in some other way than by telegram, letter, or courier. The means adopted were effectual for the purpose, and very appropriate. Stevenson, who is quoted by Sir Walter Scott, describes the beacon as being constructed of a. long and strong tree, set up with a long iron pole across the head of it, and an iron warder fixed on a stalk in the middle of it for holding a tar barrel.” This was raised on the principal eminences, and signalmen were appointed to apply the torch when the light was observed on the next station. In this way the news spread with lightning-like rapidity, and warning was given not only to the barons, but to the whole of their vassals and retainers liable to military service. Fire is a very appropriate symbol of war, and of the “red ruin” which it brings in its train, and we can well imagine when the first ray of fiery light shot up from the mountain peak, kindling the blazing beacon, which shed its ruddy glare across the face of the midnight sky, how picturesque and striking the scene would be. But it struck no terror into the hearts of the people ; it only served to quicken the pulse, and stir the patriotic ardour, of our stout-hearted forefathers.

“Theirs the stem joy which warriors feel In foemen worthy of their steel. ”

In addition to the judicial, it was part of the military duties of the Sheriff of Dumfries—the office which Crichton held—to see that these Bail-fires were lit when occasion demanded. Corsancone was the farthest inland of these beacon peaks. From its top the signal from the far south could be seen, and thence transmitted northwards along the western coast.

The office of Sheriff was of ancient origin, but there is no certainty that, prior to 1296, a Sheriffdom had been created in Dumfries. It is true that William the Lion, who died- in 1212, in a charter enforcing the payment of tithes to Jocelyn, Bishop of Glasgow, in whose diocese the churches in Nithsdale were long included, addressed it to his “justiciaries, Sheriff, and all other his ministers and bailiffs.” But these may have been mere words of form used in such documents, just as we find a set form of words employed in the charters of Royal Burghs at a later time, and can hardly be adduced as proof of the actual existence of such offices in every case where they were used. There is, at all events, no doubt on the point from 1305, in which year Edward I. recognised Dumfries as a Sheriffdom, and appointed Richard Syward to be his Sheriff of Dumfriesshire. The bounds of this officer’s jurisdiction, however, were not then what they subsequently became. A different polity prevailed in Annan-dale, where the jus gladii, the law of the sword, was granted by David I. to Robert de Brus. In process of time the Sheriffship of Dumfries became hereditary. Sir William Douglas, natural son of Archibald, lord of Galloway, acquired by his marriage with the Lady Giles, daughter of Robert II., the lordship of Nithsdale, with the Sheriffship of Dumfries, and so strenuously was the hereditary principle upheld, even in the case of an office of this description, that it was vested in a female, Giles, called the Fair Maid of Nithsdale, the only daughter and heiress of the Lord of Nithsdale, who was killed at Dantzic in 1390. This lad}T sheriff married Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, and left a son, William, who inherited Nithsdale and the Sheriffship of Dumfries, both of which he, in 1455, resigned to James II. for the Earldom of Caithness.

In July, 1484, the traitors—the Earl of Douglas and the Duke of Albany—who had deserted their country’s cause and gone over to her English enemies, invaded Dumfriesshire at the head of an English force. The country gentlemen promptly summoned their followers, attacked the base intruders, and defeated them. Douglas was taken prisoner, and Albany fled back to England. Crichton of Sanquhar, who rendered a part in this important service, was rewarded by an addition to his lands. His loyalty, besides being thus recognised in a substantial manner, would appear to have brought liim into permanent favour with the King, who, in 1487, created him a peer of Parliament under the title of Lord Sanquhar. He had previously obtained a confirmation of the office of Sheriff in 1464, and in 1468 he acquired a grant of the office of Coroner of Nithsdale. These two offices continued hereditary in the Crichton family for 200 years, till they were disposed of, along with the barony of Sanquhar, to the Earl of Queensberry. The Sheriffdom of Dumfries included Annandale and Nithsdale, with the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright, but the local jurisdictions restrained the authority of the Sheriff almost entirely to Nithsdale, and even there it was still further curtailed, in 1497, through Douglas of Drumlanrig obtaining from the King an exemption of himself, his household, and tenants from the jurisdiction of the Sheriff of Dumfries, there being a deadly enmity between the two lords.

The turbulent barons did not regard the King’s authority with any great reverence, and the office of Sheriff was therefore no sinecure. As an instance of the lawless and violent habits of these barons, and the disturbed social conditions of that age, we read that at the time when Lord Crichton was holding an assize in the year 1508 a great battle was fought outside the court-house between Maxwell aided by Johnstone, and others. M‘Dowall, in his history of Dumfries, gives the following account of the affray:—“ The Crichtons and Maxwells had grown greatly in favour since the fall of the

Douglasses. There had long been a deadly feud between the two houses, which was intensified by the circumstance that Lord Sanquhar seemed to be extending his influence over Lower Nithsdale at the expense of Lord Maxwell, who, though Steward of Annandale, did not like to see the neighbouring Sheriffdom possessed by his rival. The idea that a district occupied by many of his own adherents should be legally presided over by any other than a Maxwell was the reverse of pleasant to Lord John ; that it should be placed under the sway of a Crichton was deemed by him intolerable. c We must teach this aspiring chief a lesson—let him see who is master of Dumfries,’ muttered the wrathful Steward. Lord Sanquhar held a court in the shire town towards the close of July, 1508. On the 30th of that month no trials were proceeded with—the "dittays" having been deserted— the hall of justice abandoned for the Lower Sandbeds, where the warlike vassals of the noble Sheriff stood drawn up in battle array, prepared in some degree for the threatened onset, of which he had received timely notice. Lord Maxwell, at the head of a considerable force, and accompanied by William Douglas of Drumlanrig, entered the town by the Annandale road from the south, and attacked the Crichton party with a fury that was irresistible. How long the engagement continued is not known. Sir James Balfour speaks of it as c a grate feight ’—that it was a sanguinary one is beyond any doubt. The same annalist records that ‘ Lord Sanquhar was overthrown, and many of his frindes killed.’ Bishop Lesley, describing it, says—"Lord Creychton was chaissit with his company frae Drumfries, and the Laird of Dalyell and the young laird of Cranchlay slain, with divers uthers, quhairof thair appeared greit deidly feid and bludshed.’ “Thoroughly routed, Lord Sanquhar was chased from the town, over which he professed to hold rule in the King’s name—driven for refuge to his castle among the hills, leaving his exulting rival, if not Sheriff of Nithsdale, undisputed chief of its principal burgh. Maxwell, however strange it may appear, was allowed to go unpunished.”

This incident not only illustrates the fierce and violent temper of Maxwell, of which there is other abundant proof, and the jealousy which bred much of the perpetual strife between rival families and afflicted the country for generations, but also the feebleness of James’s government, which allowed to go unpunished this flagrant outrage on his own authority in the person of his legal representative, unless we are to believe that he looked on the outcome of the encounter with cynical indifference, if not with secret satisfaction, as it appears that at this time the loyalty of the Crichtons was not free from suspicion. There are some grounds for this belief, for, though Maxwell was not called to account, others who had taken part in the affray, such as Douglas of Drumlanrig, Ferguson of Craigdarroch, and his son Thomas, had to undergo a form of trial on 30th September, 1512, at Edinburgh, for the murder of Robert Crichton, a nephew of the Sheriff’s, and were acquitted, on the ground that the deceased Robert Crichton was “our soverane lordis rebell and at his horne ” when the conflict occurred.

His son Robert was the fourth Lord of Sanquhar, and was married to Margaret Cunningham. He died without issue, and was succeeded by his brother Edward, who married Margaret, daughter of Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig.

In 1547, after the disastrous defeat of Pinkie, the shire of Dumfries was reduced to a state of complete submission to the power of the English, and the whole of the border chiefs, with the exception of Douglas of Drumlanricke, swore fealty to England. A record of the transaction has been preserved, and, in the list of lairds and their adherents who thus submitted, is found the name of Edward Crichton, with ten followers.

In 1565, when Murray and his partisans broke out into rebellion on account of Queen Mary’s marriage with Lord Darnley, they were driven by the Queen’s forces into Dumfriesshire, where they received a cool reception. Lord Crichton warmly espoused the Queen’s cause, and was honoured with a command in the advanced guard of her army, under the Earl of Lennox. However, he faltered for a time in his loyalty, for we find that in June, 1567, he was one of the only two Dumfriesshire chiefs who drew their treasonous swords against the unhappy Queen, the other being Douglas of Drumlanrig. Nevertheless he returned to his allegiance, for, when Murray, only a few months later, assumed the regency, Lord Sanquhar deserted him, and when the imprisoned Queen escaped from Lochleven Castle, joined her at Hamilton, and fought on her behalf at Langside. On the flight of Mary, after the disastrous defeat of her army, the Regent collected a large force and proceeded south to chastise the Queen’s adherents in Dumfriesshire. The first place of strength which he attacked was Sanquhar Castle, which he speedily reduced to submission.

While the office of Sheriff of the County was held by Lord Sanquhar, another public office of trust was at this period filled by a member of the family. A Privy Council Minute of 23rd February, 1567, bears that “ Maister Robert Creich-toun of Sanquhar, Collector of Wigtoun, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries, and Annanderdaill, is ordered to compeer befoir the Lords Auditouris of Chekker and thair make compt of his intromissions that the ministeris and thair collectouris may understand quhat is taken up and quhat is restand to be taken up by them.”

It is well known to all who have the slightest knowledge of Scottish history that, while the more powerful nobles were almost constantly engaged in State intrigues— in the struggle for place and power, the minor barons were incessantly employed in mutual plunder and harassment. The Borders were, from their geographical situation on the line of march between England and Scotland, in an almost continual state of disturbance. Whatever parts of the rival kingdoms might escape the ravages of the long-continued struggle between the two countries, the Borders were sure to suffer. The description that applies to the Scottish barons in general applies in an especial degree to the Border chiefs. And little wonder that this should have been the case. The necessity which called them from time to time to stand up in defence of their possessions naturally bred a stout-hearted race. None other in such an age, and so situated, could have long kept their ground. Those members of the Maxwell, Johnstone, Douglas, and Scot families of an lmwarlike disposition had no resource, it is significantly said, but to leave Dumfriesshire. Many of them repaired to Edinburgh, where they became merchants, and attained to great wealth. In no part of the country was the old rule in more effectual operation—

That they should take who have the power,
And they should keep who can.”

The intervals that occurred between the frequent incursions of the English into Scotland, or the Scottish into England, were usually too brief to allow the borders to fall into a settled state, and so it was that, during these intervals, the border chiefs either, tempted by their proximity to the English lands, attempted on their own account, singly or in combination, to make reprisals for the losses and injuries they had sustained, or practised the game of plunder upon each other. There was continual strife and jealousy between the barons of the two sides of the county—Annandale and Nithsdale—and many a fierce and bitter encounter was the result. A notable case of the kind occurred in 1593.

“The notorious Johnstone of Annandale, who had joined the Earl of Bothwell in an attempt to seize the King’s person, had been shut up in prison in Edinburgh Castle for his treasonable act. Succeeding eventually in making his escape, he made his way to Lochwood. He had beeu only one of several of the redoubtable border chiefs who had been concerned in the plot, and the King, with his accustomed weakness, in place of repressing them with a firm hand, visited Dumfriesshire, and offered by proclamation a pardon to all who would renounce Bothwell and promise loyal behaviour for the future. These merciful conditions were accepted by many, though not by Johnstone.”—M'Dowall's History of Dumfries. The latter, with his clan, marched into Nithsdale and ravaged the lands of Lord Sanquhar and of Douglas of Drumlanrig. He was a gay and dissipated character, and was therefore called “The Galliard.” He was caught by Crichton’s men while in the act of seizing one of their horses, and was unceremoniously hanged in the presence of his nephew, William Johnstone of Kirkhill, notwithstanding the entreaties of the latter. His followers, pursued by the Crichtons with the object of recovering the cattle which had been stolen from them, stood at bay, and, stung doubtless by the humiliating fate of their chief, they fought with desperation, so that many of their enemies fell in the skirmish.

“This bloody battle is referred to in an old ballad. The appeal of the ‘ Galliard ’ for mercy is thus expressed— ‘O! Simmy, Simmy!’—so he pleaded with his captor, Simon of the side—   

‘O! Simmy, Simmy, now let me gang,
And I’ll ne’er mair a Crichton wrang;
O! Simmy, Simmy, now let me be,
And a peck o’ gowd I’ll gie to thee.

The appeal was, as we have said, in vain, and the sequel is thus described : —

‘Back tae Nithsdale they hae gane,
And awa the Crichtons’ nowt hae taen;
And when they cam to the Wellpath-head,
The Crichtons bade them ‘ Light and lead.’

‘Light and lead,’ that is dismount and give battle.
‘Then out spoke Willie of Kirkhill,
Of fighting, lads, ye’se hae your fill;
And from his horse Willie he lap,
And a burnished brand in his hand he gat.
‘ Out through the Crichtons Willie he ran,
And dang them down, baith horse and man,
0, but the Johnstones were wondrous rude,
When the Biddes Burn ran three days blude.'

The Biddes Burn is a brook running between Nithsdale and Annandale, near the head of the Evan.”—M‘Dowall’s History.

The Crichtons appealed for redress to Lord Maxwell, Warden of the Marches, but more effectual means were taken to bring to the notice of the authorities the dire results of this raid. A remarkable scene was subsequently presented in Edinburgh. “ Fifteen poor widows from Sanquhar came to complain to the King that their husbands, sons, and servants were cruelly murdered by the Laird of Johnstone, themselves ‘ spoiled,’ and nothing left them. Finding that they could obtain no satisfaction, the poor women, who had carried with them the bloody shirts of their dead husbands, roused the popular feeling of the city by marching through the streets, carrying the blood-stained clothing. This took place on Monday, the 23rd July. The people were much moved, and cried out for vengeance upon the King and Council."* Ultimately, however, Lord Maxwell, as Warden, was enjoined to execute justice on this turbulent clan. The injured chiefs and others joined to assist Maxwell. Thereupon Johnstone secured the adhesion of the Scotts, Elliots, and Grahams, and a contest ensued which involved the whole of the principal Border clans. A preliminary battle took place at Lochmaben, in which Johnstone was victorious, but the decisive engagement was fought in December at Dryfesands, where Maxwell assembled a body of 2000 men, displaying the King’s banner as the royal lieutenant. The Johnstones and their allies, though overpowered in numbers, fought with such desperate valour as to rout the King’s lieutenant and the royal army, Maxwell himself being slain.

The character and habits of the Crichtons, of both the head of the family who ruled from Sanquhar Castle, and the minor branches who possessed little lairdships in the neighbourhood, differed in no respect from those of their order throughout the whole south country. They quarrelled fiercely with their neighbours, readily resorting to violence in the gratification of their revenge or in the pursuit of their schemes of plunder and spoliation ; while towards their inferiors they behaved in an insolent and over-bearing manner. Indeed, they were a bold, masterful race, not hesitating to act in defiance of the orders of even the King in Council. Their name frequently appears in the records of the Privy Council, charged with deeds of turbulent lawlessness ; they were bound over in heavy sureties to keep the peace, and, on one occasion, a Crichton was doomed to confinement in Edinburgh Castle during the King’s pleasure.

The family of Hamilton was contemporary with that of Crichton, and possessed considerable power and influence, as is evidenced by a complaint made in 1579 by Williame Dunbar as follows :—

“William Hammiltoun of Sanquhar, having consavitane deidlie hettreut and malice causles aganis the said Williame Dunbar, upon the xiii. day of Aprile last bipast, come to his place at Enterkin quhairin he dwellis and remanis presentlie accttmpanyit with tuentie horsmen or hairby, bodin in weirlyke maner, with lang gunnis'and pistolettis prohibit to be worne be oure actis of Parliament and Secreit Counsale, jakis, steilbonnatis, swirdis, and uther wappynins invasive and thair be way of hainesuckin, serchit and socht the said Willieme Dunbar for his slauchter and destruc-tioun and the said Williame Hammiltoun finding himself be his non appre-hensioun disappointit of his weikit purpois, brak doun his dykis and yettis of his fenssis and hainingis not litill to his hurt and scaith. Farther, the said Williame Hammiltoun for execution of his ewill will aganis the said William Dunbar, dalie be plane force and way of deid oppressis and com-mittis reiffis, spulzeis of horssis, cornis, cattell and utheris guidis upoun his puir tennentis of the landis of Somis, Mosgavill, Dykesdaill, the mains Grenok and Eistir-Sanquhar, swa that be frequent reiffis and oppressionis foirsaidis the saidis puir tennentis ar allutterlie wrakit. ”

Hamilton failed to appear on pain of horning, aud the penalty was ordered to take effect. Poor Dunbar’s plaint describes in quaint and graphic language the manner and circumstance of the regular reiving raids which were being perpetrated daily at this period among the petty chiefs and barons all along the debateable land.

The minor branches of the Crichton family did not fail to imitate the manners of their feudal head. They held petty lairdships in the neighbourhood—Ryehill. Ardoch, Gareland Carne, and others, and, possibly emboldened by the fact that the Lord of Sanquhar, the King’s Justiciary of the district, was their friend, they carried things with a high hand.

In 1566, complaint is made by one William Flemyng, a burgess of Edinburgh—

“That Ninian Creichtoun in Carne, Robert Creichtoun, Andro Creich-toun, brether german and Robert Creichtoun their bruther naturall invaidit the said AVilliam and mutilat him in his rycht arme quhairthrow he is impotent and unabill to work for his leving ; that they on na wayis wald find souertie and thairefter was put to the horne ; that they were reparand dailie in company with Edward Lord Creichtoun, Sheref of Dumfreis ; that the said Sheref had been chargeit sundry tymes to haif usit justice upon thaime, but refusing, he was chargeit to haif compeirit befoir the Lords of Secreit Counsall to answer for his eontemptioun. Lord Creichton failed to appear, and is commandit and chargeid to present himself before the Soverain and thair Lordships under all hieast pane and offence.”

William Creichtoun, in 1579, is bound over not to harm Patrick M'Crerik, burgess of Sanquhar, and, by a separate caution, the said William Creichtoun, in his capacity as Sheriff of Dumfries, is bound over that he will enter M'Crerik peaceably into certain specified “leggis of land with houses lying in the burgh of Sanquhar, and will not molest him in the possession of the same afterwards.” Some time before, in 1576, a complaint had been made to the Council against William Creichtoun, Tutor of Sanquhar, by Robert Dalyell of that Ilk, Cristiane Dalyell, Lady Covingtoun, and James Lindesay in Auchintagairt, “tuiching the unbesetting of thair gait within the town of Sanquhar, in the month of October last bipast, and stopping theme to cum to the kirk of Sanquhair besydis the invasioun of the said James Lindesay for his slauchter.” Then in 1579 Creichtoun, described by the same title, " was ordained to find caution of 500 merks, which he did by the hands of Johnne Gordon of Lochinvar, that he shall not impede or trouble Elizabeth and Margaret Stewart, (laughters of the late James, Earl of Murray, in the uptaking of the maills of the lordship of Sanquhar belonging to them as donators during the time of the ward and nonentres of the said lordschip.”

It would be interesting to know if this William Creichtoun was the same as he who was included in a list of persons ordered to be banished furth the realm by the Act of Parliament passed in 1587. This measure was for the purpose of purging the land of popery, and charges all Jesuits and seminary priests to leave the country within one month, 'under pain of death. Certain Commissioners are appointed, who are enjoined—    .

“To apprehend and either present for trial before the justice in the Tollbuith of Edinburgh or themselves try and administer justice upon the following classes of offenders : (1) Jesuits and seminary priests, including Mr James Gordon, uncle of the Earl of Huntley, Mr Edmund Hay, brother of the gooilman of Meginche, Mr William Creichtoun, etc., in cais they sal not depairt furth of this realm and enter themselffis to the Provost of Edinburgh to be lingut quhile the occasioun serve to transporte thame according to the proclamatioun publist to that effect. (2) Rebels remaning at the horn for slauchteris or sic utheris odious crymes. (3) Sinners, brigands, and masterful vagabonds.”.

The Lords of Sanquhar and Elliock would seem to have eyed each other across the river, from their respective strongholds, with jealousy and hatred. The Privy Council Records shew that, in 1610, Robert, Lord Creichtoun, on the one part, and Sir Robert Dalyell of that Ilk and Sir Robert Dalyell, his son and apparent heir (the Dalyells were then the lairds of Elliock), were called to answer “for certain mutual cliallangeis of provocation' and defyance.” The younger Dalyell is “committit. to ward in Edinburgh Castle” for having “utterit some uncomlie and undiscrete speeches importing a provocation and brag aganis the Lord Sanquhair;” while Lord Sanquhair and the elder Sir Robert Dalyell are “bound over to find caution to keep the peace, the former 5000 merks, the latter 3000 merks.” This Lord Robert Creichtoun, though he would appear to have been the aggrieved party in the above instance, was himself a frequent offender against public order, and was often cited before the Privy Council on the complaint of his neighbours of his tyrannical conduct, and bound over by heavy sureties to keep the peace. Considering that he held the King’s commission as Sheriff and Justiciary of Nithsdale, his conduct was all the more reprehensible, and constituted a bad example to those who were under his jurisdiction.

In 1597, Thomas Kirkpatrick of Closeburn complained to the Council that “ Robert, Lord Creichtoun of Sanquhar, Sheriff Principal of Dumfries, intends now under the pretext and cullour of justice and be the authoritie of his office of sheriffship or commissioun of justiciare to utter his haitreut and malice aganis the said Thomas Kirkpatrick, his kirn freindis, tennantis, and servandis,” and in particular that he had “putt violent hands on Johnne Wilsoun his tennant and servand quhome be direckit to the said Lord with a missive letter and detanis him in strait firmance.” Lord Sanquhar does not appear to have had any reason of quarrel with Kirkpatrick personally, but, having entered into a bond of friendship with Sir James Douglas of Drumlanrig (they are described in the complaint as “brethir and suster’s bairns”, who was Kirkpatrick’s mortal enemy, Lord Sanquhar conceived that he, too, must quarrel with the latter. The probability is that he was instigated by Sir James, and that he was thus led to prostitute his high judicial office to gratify the revenge of a friend. Lord Sanquhar is also charged in the complaint by Kirkpatrick with “the schame-full and cruel wounding of Johnne Williamsoun of Castle Robert, the said Thomas’ servaud and dependair,” and Kirkpatrick concludes by requesting that redress be given him, and that he and his friends, tenants, servants, &c., should be exempted from the jurisdiction of Lord Creichtoun as Sheriff. The Lords of the Privy Council granted the prayer of the petition in both particulars, but, notwithstanding, Lord Creichtoun, in defiance of both King and Council, “causit execute the said tennant to the deid, quhaw wes a trew man, nevir spotted nor suspect of any sic crymes as he falslie objectit against him, whereby he usurped upon him his Majesties princely power in executioun of his Majesties subjectis without warrand or power.” Both parties were of course called, when Lord Creichtoun’s defence was that—

“He had put the said Johnne to the knowledge of an assize for certain crimes of theft committed by him and that the said Johnne having been found guilty, he had caused him to be executed by virtue of the commission given to him to that effect—being then ignorant that the said commission had been before discharged.” The King, with advice of the Council, in respect of the said Lord’s “wrongous proceeding aganis the said Johnne Wilsoun eftir he was discharged in manner foirsaid and contempt thairthrouch done to his Hieness ” ordains him to enter in ward in the Castle of Edinburgh within twenty-four hours hereafter, and remain there till he be freed by his Majesty, and in the meantime suspends and discharges the said commission, of which intimation is ordered to be made by open proclamation at the Market Cross of Dumfries.

It must not be concluded from these and other similar incidents in his career that this lord was ignorant and untutored—a man of ungovernable passions, belonging to the class of petty barons who had only partially emerged from a state of barbarism. He certainly was not superior to the vices of his age, and was apt to be self-willed and obstinate in maintaining the privileges of his order, but he was a man withal of high natural endowments, and also of cultivation and refinement of manners, the latter the result of residence at Court and of foreign travel. “He was,” says the historian, Aikman, “a man of rare courage and wit, and endowed with many excellent gifts as well natural as acquired;” and therefore it was that he took a prominent place in the state, being a favourite with his Sovereign. His name is found in the Convention of Estates in 1596 and 1597, during which years he also sat at many meetings of the Privy Council.

When James succeeded to the English throne in 1603, there followed in his train, across the border, a number of Scottish nobles, among them Lord Sanquhar. Creichtoun counted among his many accomplishments that of being a skilful fencer. In a spirit of bravado he sought to give an exhibition of his skill at the expense of a fencing-master named Turner, in his own school, and in the presence of his pupils. Sanquhar pressed the fencing-master so hard that he lost an eye by an unlucky thrust of his opponent’s foil. When Creichtoun visited the French Court some time after, the King inquired how he came by the accident, and, on being informed, sarcastically asked—“And does the fellow yet live ?” Stung to the quick by the taunt of the King, which implied an imputation on the courage of this high-spirited lord, he, on his return, took counsel with two of his servants, who were brothers, named Robert and William Carlyle. The result was that the fencing-master was assassinated by Robert, just as he was entering his lodging. The murder created a great sensation, more particularly in the state of feeling among the English towards the Scottish nobles, which was one of great jealousy and antipathy. That Lord Sanquhar and the assassin’s brother William were accessory to the crime was plain from the fact that all three immediately fled into hiding, in the hope, apparently, that the matter might in time blow over; but, “hearing that £1000 were offered for his head, Sanquhar,” says Crawford in his Peerage of Scotland, “resigned himself to the King’s mercy, and acknowledged the murder. But no intercession could prevail. His life satisfied the law, for he was executed before the gates of Westminster, the 29th June, 1612.” Aikman remarks— “His death excited universal regret. The eloquence of his discourse at his trial, and the civility and discretion of his behaviour there made the people bewail his fall with great grief.”

Thus perished one of the greatest and most accomplished of all the Crichtons. The crime of which he was guilty could in no case be justified, still there is to be said for him that he had harboured no feeling of malice or revenge. The woi’ds of the French King, sounding in his ears as the voice of the tempter, had goaded him on to the perpetration of the dark deed, out of a false sense of what was due to his honour. His was no end of sordid selfishness or private aggrandisement, which, in this comparatively rude age, prompted to many a foul deed. In all likelihood this had been the case with some who now, with a fine affectation of virtue, expressed their horror at his crime and loudly clamoured for his punishment. The code of morality was not in those times so very high' but that deeds of quite as black a character as Creichtoun’s were readily enough condoned where the offender could, like him, command powerful influence at Court, but he had the misfortune to be convicted at a time when national jealousy between the English and Scots ran high. The English nobility were not reconciled to the accession to their throne of James, the King of Scotland, a small kingdom for which they had a lofty contempt, and whose high-spirited and warlike people had long and successfully resisted all attempts at subjugation to English rule. They could not, it was true, dispute James’s right to the English throne, but all the same they regarded him as an intruder, an idea which, it must be confessed, James’s character and manners were not calculated to modify or overcome. Further, the influx of Scots who followed their King across the border, and their bearing, which, in the eyes of these haughty English nobles, savoured of presumption, created a feeling of antipathy which, in process of time, affected the minds of the common people as well. At such a time and in such a condition of feeling, then, it was that Creichtoun’s trial took place. We need not be surprised, therefore, that he was sentenced to suffer the extreme penalty of the law, and that all the powerful influence which was put forth at Court on his behalf was unavailing. At the same time, it is alleged, in Osborne’s Secret History of State Trials, vol. I. p. 231, that James bore Lord Sanquhar a grudge “for his love to the King of France, and his not making any reply when he (the French King) said in his presence, to one that called our James a second Solomon, that he hoped he was not the son of David the fiddler.” Creichtoun may, at all events, be regarded as partly a scapegoat, delivered over to pacify, if that were possible, the feelings of jealousy and resentment entertained by the English nobility towards the Scots in general, and in particular towards those Scottish nobles who were becoming powerful rivals to them at Court. Confirmation of this view is derived from Calderwood, who, writing of the affair, says :—

“ To content the Englishe, the King consented that Sanquhar should be hangit. For the greater contempt of our nobilitie he was hangit among a number of theevs.” Crawford also remarks—“To understand the reason of the King’s exemplary severity in this case, one must remember the extreme antipathy to the Scots that had for some years been prevalent among the English, and especially among the Londoners, and one of the chief causes of which was the insolence and swaggering behaviour of the young Scottish lords and knights about the Court. Under peril of a popular insurrection in London against the Scottish favourites, James did not dare to pardon Lord Sanquhar, whose execution, indeed, did somewhat appease the vehemence of the Anti-Scottish clamour.

William, the seventh Lord Crichton, was, it is said, served heir to the preceding Lord Crichton in 1619, and yet there is no doubt that King James was entertained by Crichton at Sanquhar Castle in 1617. It would appear, therefore, that, if the statement be correct that he was not served heir till 1619, he had, on the execution of his predecessor, entered quietly into possession without venturing to make application for the legal instruments connected with his formal entry. He would no doubt be aware that the perpetration of such a crime, and the execution of the guilty noble, frequently resulted in the forfeiture of his title and the confiscation of his estates, and so, with characteristic Scotch caution, he may have resolved to “let sleeping dogs lie”—to say nothing so long as he was left undisturbed. If that be the correct explanation of what appears somewhat puzzling, then we can understand how the visit of King James to Scotland would present itself to Crichton’s mind as a favourable opportunity for obtaining recognition as the legal as well as the virtual owner of the family patrimony. Besides, the claim which Crichton might seek to establish on the King’s favour by his hospitable entertainment of him would be materially strengthened by the fact that he held the King’s bond for a large sum of money lent him. This loan may have been raised by the King as a sort of “ hush-money/’ Crichton being, in the circumstances, entirely in his sovereign’s power, so far as his title and lands were concerned. Be that as it may, there had been a transaction of borrowing and lending between them. The King’s visit to Scotland took place in 1617, fourteen years after he had ascended the English throne. He was accompanied by a splendid train of courtiers, headed by the brilliant and handsome Duke of Buckingham —“the glass of fashion and the mould of form.” He proceeded by the east coast to Edinburgh, which he reached on the 18th of May (?) and, returning by the west, he passed down Nithsdale, reaching Sanquhar Castle on the 31st July, where he was right royally entertained. Simpson, without disclosing his authority, gives the following traditional account of the festivities, which, notwithstanding the manifest touches of exaggeration here and there, has on the whole such an air of probability that it may be quoted :—

“The King, and Crichton, the lord of the manor, and at the time the occupant of the castle commonly called ‘ Crichton Peel, ’ had been very intimate companions, and James, on a tour through Scotland after he had ascended the English throne, came through Ayrshire and down Nithsdale to Sanquhar to visit Crichton in his peel. The occasion was one of great excitement and hilarity, and the rude populace of the strath poured forth in crowds to testify their fealty, and to witness the trappings of royalty. This visit being anticipated, Crichton had prepared a sumptuous entertainment, so that when the King came, the stately avenue which led to the castle gate (and which in the last generation only was hewed down), the lofty trees arching overhead like a fretted gothic dome, was not only lined with people, but it is said with the goodly casks of the “bluid-red wine,” which flowed copiously, and so copiously that the hoofs of the horses of the royal cavalcade were bathed in the ruddy stream. Within the peel the festivities were splendid, and such ‘dancing and deray ’ were never seen in old Sanquhar before nor since. The hall was lighted up with brilliancy, and the large castle lamp, placed in the centre of the festive board, was graced with a wick well-pleasing to the King, but rather costly to his host: for Crichton, stepping forward with a lordly port, in presence of his sovereign and all the guests, extracting the blazing wick from the lamp, inserted another of a cylindrical form, made of parchment, containing a large account of a sum of borrowed money against the King, which the noble-minded baron, in the excess of his loyalty, committed to the flames, and thus extinguished the debt for ever.”

Another version of the story of the burning of the bond is that Crichton crowned the evening’s entertainment by rolling it into the form of a torch and lighting the King to bed with it. Whatever form it took, it was a dramatic display of reckless loyalty, which could not but be highly gratifying to the King. One naturally wonders, however, what Crichton himself thought of it and of the whole matter of the King’s visit, when he had time to reflect and to count up the cost. Then, as well as now, a royal visit to a noble was esteemed a high honour, but there was a reverse side to the shield in the enormous expense to which the host was necessarily put in providing entertainment worthy of a visitor of such high distinction, so that, unless he were possessed of princely resources, the depletion of his coffers effectually prevented him for many a day from forgetting the visit of his sovereign lord. This was emphatically so in Lord Crichton’s case. The family was one that had held its ground all through the vicissitudes of a stormy period of our nation’s history, during which many a noble house had suffered dire eclipse, if not total extinction. They had proved themselves men of capacity, and, by deeds of heroic and honourable service to the state, had claimed a place among the nobility of the land, and earned the gratitude and favours of sovereigns. They had obtained the marks of the royal confidence in having entrusted to them responsible office, and, having achieved high social rank, they sued, and sued not in vain, for the hand in marriage of ladies of noble houses. On this 31st day of July, 1617, the sun of the house of Crichton may be said to have reached its zenith, but it hasted rapidly to its setting. The very glory of the house led to its extinction.

We read that the expense of the royal visit, and the magnanimous though ostentatious destruction of the King’s bond, reduced Lord Sanquhar to such a condition of poverty that he was compelled some dozen years after to sell his estates. “Sic transit gloria mundi.”

Shortly after this time Lord Sanquhar forsook his baronial residence at Sanquhar Castle, and removed into Ayrshire, to the vicinity of Cumnock. His reason for so doing is not, so far as is known, recorded. It is possible that, finding his resources seriously crippled by the entertainment of the King, and being compelled to adopt a modest style of living and expenditure, this proud-spirited lord could not brook that those about him should contrast his poverty-stricken condition with the former greatness of his estate, and moved into a new locality where this contrast could not be drawn. In-the curtailment of his power of outward display, however, he was not without consolation, for in 1622 he was created Viscount of Ayr, and in 1633 Earl of Dumfries and Lord Kumnock. These marks of his sovereign’s favour could not but be exceedingly gratifying, affording proof, as they did, that the King was not forgetful of his ancient and honourable lineage, and of the services he had himself rendered to his country. Absence seems, however, to have loosened his attachment to his patrimonial estates, or sheer necessity to have compelled their relinquishment. At all events, in 1639, he sold the whole barony of Sanquhar to the Earl of Queensberry. (See Appendix.) Thus terminated the connection of the Crichton family with Sanquhar and Upper Nithsdale, an event which, even now, one cannot but regret. It can easily be imagined what a difference it would have made to Sanquhar had the Crichtons remained in possession of their patrimonial estate, and in occupation of their noble seat.

Though the Crichtons from this time had no connection with Sanquhar, it seems proper to trace their genealogy down to the present day. In succession to the first Earl of Dumfries, William, second Earl, his son, had one son, Charles, who died before him, leaving a son, William, afterwards third Earl, and four daughters, Penelope, Margaret, Mary, and Elizabeth. William, second Earl, surrendered all his honours, and obtained a new patent for them, with precedency according to the former patents, and with limitation to each of the children of Charles, Lord Crichton, and the heirs of their bodies respectively, failing which, to the nearest heirs whatsoever of the said Charles, Lord Crichton. The second Earl died in 1691, and William, third Earl, died unmarried in 1694, when he was succeeded by his eldest sister, Penelope. She married the Hon. William Dalrymple, second son of John, first Earl of Stair, by whom she had William, fifth Earl, and also Earl of Stair, who died without surviving issue in 1763, and a daughter, Lady Elizabeth, who married John Macdowall, Esq., and had issue—Patrick, who succeeded his uncle as sixth Earl, and assumed the name of Crichton ; he was born 1726 and died in 1803, having married, 1771, Margaret, daughter of Ronald Crawford, of Restalrig, Co. Edinburgh, by whom he had only one surviving child, Lady Elizabetli-Penelope, who was married to John, Viscount Mountstuart, eldest son of John, first Marquis of Bute, by whom she was mother of John, the seventh Earl of Dumfries, and second Marquis of Bute.

The present Marquis of Bute is therefore the lineal descendant, by the female line, of the ancient Crichton family of Sanquhar, whose titles are the oldest held by the Marquis, being—1488, Baron Crichton of Sanquhar ; 1622, Viscount of Ayr ; 1633, Earl of Dumfries and Baron Crichton of Cumnock.

The following ancient ballad is given by Simpson in his history, but whence derived he does not say, describing one or other of the many thieving raids committed by the famous

Annandale reivers, and setting forth in an interesting manner the summoning of the clans and their methods of warfare:—

O heard ye o’ that dire affray
Befel at Crichton Peel, man;
How the reeving bands o’ Annandale,
Of a’ the border thieves the wale,
In heaps fell on the field, man?

A pale light flickered in the copse,
Beneath the castle wa’, man;
It gleamed a moment like a star,
The boding wraith o’ coming war,
And glintit through the ha’, man.

The foemen in the wald are hid,
They came at dusk o’ e’en, man;
And far, far distant is our lord,
And no assistance can afford—
He hunts round dark Lochskeen, man.

For Megget’s lord and Bodsbeck’s chiefs
Wi’ him wha ne'er had feud, man,
Longed to return him friendly cheer,
And feast upon the fallow deer
Within their castles guid, man.

And he has gane wi’ horsemen too,
All henchmen true and brave, man,
And few are left within the hold,
Of clansmen leal and warriors bold,
To handle lance or glaive, man.

The warder blaws his bugle loud,
It sounds far o’er the wild, man,
Tell Clenrie’s clan and Carco’s men
Their flocks within their folds to pen,
And arm and tak’ the field, man.

The lady in the Peel sits wae,
Her heart shakes like the leaf, man,
To think her lord is far away,
With hounds he keeps the stag at bay,
But brings her no relief, man.

Rouse up the men o’ Yochan fair,
The dwellers on the Scar, man,
The bravest sons o’ Mennick’s rills,
Frae a’ the woods the songster fills,
The bowmen frae the Snar, man.

Ye doughty sons o’ Crawick’s sweet vale,
Frae where Powcraigy roars, man,
In a’ yer glens and fairy neuks,
In a’ yer dells and winding cruieks,
Come forth in warlike corps, man.

Haste wi’ the news to Enoch’s lord,
Shout at Drumlanrig’s tower, man;
Tell a’ the forts in “auld Disdeer,”
And a’ the holds in wooded Keir,
Their stalwart foree to pour, man.

Bleeze np the bales, let the beaeons flare
On the peak o’ ilka eairn, man;
Let the fiery eross the tidings flash,
And rouse eaeh ehieftain from his marsh,
Afar through wild Carsphairn, man.

Let all the clans frae Corsancone
To Kello’s bosky stream, man,
All from Kirkeonnel's sunny braes,
Wha in the sweetest woodland strays,
For war resign the team, man.

The page, like arrow from the bow,
Out by the postern fled, man,
And hasting o’er the moorland wastes,
Charged with his lady’s high behests,
To noble Douglas sped, man.

He chased his way up winding Crawk,
He plunged through Spango’s stream, man,
And crossed Duneaton’s sable flood,
And o’er the grassy plain did send,
And through the flowering green, man.

At Glespin’s peel his horn he blew,
They, arder heard the toot, man,
The page’s weleome voice he knew,
The iron bolt he quiekly drew,
And eehoed baek the shout, man!

Gae, tell Moss-castle’s swarthy lord
The plight of Sanquhar’s dame, man;
For I’m in haste to gude Lord James,
Whose aid is prompt in doleful times—
That knight of fairest fame, man.

Next to the laird of Gilker’s-cleuch,
Let it not be unknown, man,
Rouse every hold of warriors bold,
In every fen and every wold
In mossy Crawfordjohn, man.

Syne pass the haunted auld kirkyard,
By lone Glengonar’s stream, man,
And the dreary glen where the wild winds rave,
And the heath-screened mouth of the weird man’s cave,
And the wheeling linn where the kelpies lave
Their limbs by the pale moonbeam, man.

The nimble page his way now sped,
Through rough Glentaigart’s moors, man,
Where many a bew ildered wight,
Losing his way on misty night,
Or lured to follow will-wisp light,
Deep in the moss-hag lairs, man.

But lair’d not thus the faithful page,
For light of foot was he, man ;
And on and on his willing road,
With ceaseless feet, the heath he trode,
As mew skims o’er the sea, man.

Ho! stop thee, page, a shepherd cried,
What makes thee run»for dread, man?
Hush ! tell your master, Carmacoup,
Wha ne’er wi’ foe refused to cope,
To haste and join the raid, man.

And up the lea of Anershaw,
And past the dead man’s grave, man,
And eerie trode the dread black gait
Where erst lone stranger met his fate,
And left Earnsalloch cave, man.

And now the towers of famed St. Bride
Loomed in the vale beneath, man,
Where dangled traitor high in air,
As shown by lightning’s vivid glare,
His visage marked by deep despair—
A sight full grim to see, man.

And now he sprang the bastion o’er,
As fleet as roe might be, man,
The owl was still, the hour was late,
He stood before the castle gate,
And raised his voice*on high, man.

O! haste thee for our lady fair;
Brave Douglas, ’fend the right, man,
Rouse up your warriors feat and leal,
March, march wi’ speed to Crichton Peel,
Wi’ jaque and mail bedight, man.

The noble Douglas heard the call,
And out his forces drew, man,
And all in glee for warlike raid,
In armour bright full well arrayed,
Through moss and wold they flew, man.

Ere dawn of day old Sanquhar heard
The Douglas slogan shrill, man,
Which soon bade every fear depart,
And quick made every drooping heart
Wi’ martial ardour thrill, man.

The claus on every side pour in,
Like ravens to the wood, man,
And all the gallant baud wi’ speed,
In the dool hour of Crichton’s need,
The rcevers fierce withstood, man.

Of all the brave and soothfast friends,
The Douglas gained the meed, man;
For none in feats with him might share,
Though many a belted knight was there,
And wight of noble deed, man.

For he, where pressed the thickest foes,
The fiercest onslaught made, man,
And ne’er retired one foot-breadth back,
But forward urged with eager shock,
And on the sward them laid, man.

Most valiant was that hero’s heart,
When plunged in densest throng, man,
And keen his glaive and from his arm
The which with lusty blows did harm
On all who sought his wrong, man.

But generous was that chieftain brave,
When victory to him fell, man;
He ne’er was known his conquered foe
To triumph o’er when once laid low,
Or him in wrath revile, man.

The clansmen all their valour proved,
On that eventful morn, man,
And many deeds of high renown,
The whilk were worthy to hand down
From sire to child unborn man.

But Enoch’s lord and Carco’s chief,
’Mang foremost there were seen, man,
And, urging on against the foe,
Dealt many a vengeful, deadly blow,
And trode the slain their feet below,
Upon that blood-stained green, man.

The valiant knight of Morton’s Tower,
A courtly dress he wore, man,
With golden belt, his monarch’s gift,
All glittering round his princely waist—
But reivers’ hands with greedy haste
The gorgeous cincture tore, man.

But fell reprisals soon were ta’en,
When the baron’s wrath arose, man,
For wildly on the foe he pressed,
And yarely he the wrong redressed,
And man on man o’erthrows, man.

The reivers bold in their assault
Most desperate deeds performed man,
And fought like lions in the fray,
For well they knew a luckless day
Would seud but few of them away
From that proud peel they stormed, man.

The warder from the castle high,
Wha eager watched the strife, man,
Saw in the distance horsemen ride ;
Fight on ! our valiant friends, he cried,
Fresh succours now I have espied,
Brave Thristane’s aid is ne’er denied—
He kens the thieves frae Dryfe, man.

’Twas Crichton’s lord who on, with speed,
With his brave henchmen came, man,
In time, before the clans dispart,
To thank each warrior from the heart,
Of gude and trusty name, man.

And now the wassail in the hall,
And revelry began, man;
The minstrel tuned his harp wi’ skill,
The loud notes soon the hold did fill,
While he their warlike deeds did tell,
And praised each valorous clan, man.

The reivers fierce frae Annandale
Were worsted in the fray, man,
And few returned to that sweet vale,
To tell their friends the waeful tale,
Who deeply did their fate bewail,
And never sought they to assail
Old Crichton Peel for their avail
E’en from that dismal day, man.

In concluding the chapter on the Crichtons, notice may be taken of a curious and interesting relic, the handiwork of one of the ladies of the Castle, Lady Isabel Penelope Crichton. The relic consists of an ancient specimen of what is called a Sampler, or specimen of needlework, not differing greatly in style from those still worked by school girls in country parts, which may frequently be seen framed and hung up in their homes. It bears date 1501, and is quite fresh after the lapse of 390 years. It is sewn on linen canvas, the colours employed being crimson, purple, brown, green, pink, and straw. It contains all the letters of the alphabet, the nine digits, and some ornamental figures. It bears on the one side the pious motto—“ Giv God the first and last of the des thoght and on the reverse side the following verse of Scripture: “Mathov vii. 10—WhatsoiAer I would that men should do to yov, do I eAen so to them; for this is the la and the profets,” together with the initials “I.P.” on its face. The figure 5 in the date is not well formed, through the stitching being carried a trifle too high at the one end, but it corresponds in its main outlines with the form of the figure given in printed lists of pattern letters and figures for the guidance of the workers of samplers. If it is not a good 5, it certainly bears no resemblance to a 6 or a 7, and that it could be an 8 is impossible, for its existence prior to 1801 is certain. “The first English translation of the Bible known is supposed to bear the date 1290 ; the next was by Wyckliffe, about 1380. These were in manuscript, and cousequently the price was enormous. In the year 1429, a copy of Wyckliffe’s New Testament cost about £40. It was probably a manuscript copy of this translation from which Lady Isabel Crichton copied into her sampler the verse from ‘ Mathov.’ It. was the tenth verse in Wyckliffe’s copy, and the twelfth in ours. The peculiarity lies in the ancient spelling, and in using the ‘ v ’ in the inverted form.” Till the year 1886, the sampler was put together in the form of a bag, the mouth of which was drawn by a silk string. It is in the possession of Miss Bramwell of St. Helen’s, Sanquhar, having come into the hands of her grandfather, Mr John Bramwell, in a rather peculiar way. Mr Bramwell was manager of the lead-inines of Wanlockhead for the Marquis of Bute, who had them under lease from the Duke of Buccleuch, and the gold from Dumfries House, for the payment of the miners’ wages, was, on one occasion, sent to him in this bag. Its present possessor, finding the work giving way under the handling of the curious, unpicked the side seams, fastened it down on a fresh foundation, and had it framed under glass. An open space is left at the back to show the piece of red silk riband inside of the bag, on which is worked Isabel Pen. s-Y ” corresponding to the initials “I.P.” on the face of the sampler. The small letters “S.Y.” have been supposed to be the initial letters of Sanquhar and Yochan. That the “ S ” signifies Sanquhar is probable enough, but we know of no good reason for connecting the “Y” with Yochan. The lands there were never spoken of as a separate or distinct portion of the barony of Sanquhar, nor were the Crichton family identified with it any more than with other parts of the lands which they held. The sampler has been in the possession of Miss Bramwell’s family for a hundred years.

Miss Bramwell is likewise possessed of a silk handkerchief, the story of which is given by Dr Simpson in the following form. It relates to the period when the Castle was owned by the Queensberry family, that is, subsequent to 1630. “One of the young ladies was, it is said, of a rather delicate constitution, and her medical advisers prescribed the use of the milk of a jet-black cow, as having in it more than ordinary virtue. Accordingly, it was found that a man of the name of Dripps, who lived at the Townhead of Sanquhar, possessed a cow of this description, and immediate application was made to him for the necessary supply of the medicinal article. A little daughter of his was sent one morning to the Castle with the milk for the lady. She came arrayed in a little scarlet cloak, the bright colour of which attracted the attention of a flock of geese and turkeys that were strolling on the green before the Castle, exactly on her way to the gate. On her near approach the congregated fowls set up a loud screaming, spread abroad their wings, and opening wide their bills, assailed the poor girl, who was nearly frightened out of her wits, and would have died through sheer terror had not one of the ladies observed the circumstance from her window, and hastened to her rescue. The poor thing was so agitated that the lady had enough ado to soothe her, and to bring her to her wonted calmness. The lady then presented her with a fine silk handkerchief, a rare thing in those days.” It is this identical article which is in Miss Bramwell’s possession.

A gruesome story is further told by Simpson of an accident that occurred to one of the ladies of the Castle. “ In these early times it was probably more customary than now for females of the higher families to occupy themselves in domestic matters, and the ladies in the Castle were taught to assist in the laundry. It happened that one day one of the ladies was busy dressing her muslins, and for this purpose was using a ‘box-iron.’ In those days the females wore what were termed ‘barrel-breasted’ stays, which implies that they were open at the top. When the young lady had inserted.

the heater in the box she forgot to fix it, and holding it near her face to feel if it was not too hot for her purpose, the glowing iron fell plump into her bosom, between the stays and her breast. Her agony was dreadful. Nothing could save her, and in a brief space she expired.”

The Barony and Castle of Sanquhar were sold by Lord Crichton to Sir William Douglas, Viscount of Drumlanrig, who was created Earl of Queensberry in 1639. This noble resided in Sanquhar Castle during the building of Drumlanrig. On its completion, he removed to his new and splendid seat, but it is said he only stayed one night there. He became unwell overnight, but the house being very large, and the internal arrangements apparently not well considered, he was unable to call his servants, and returned, disgusted, to the Peel at Sanquhar for the rest of his days. He was, likewise, so ashamed of the heavy accounts connected with the erection of the Castle of Drumlanrig, and was so anxious that his folly in incurring such enormous expense should pass into oblivion, that he made a bundle of the same, upon which he wrote on the outside the words—“The deil pyke oot his een that looks herein.”

In the Douglas vault in the Church of Durisdeer there is a coffin with the inscription, “Lord George Douglas.” He was third son to William, first Duke, and died unmarried at Sanquhar in July, 1693. Also, a lead coffin with inscription, “ James Douglas, Duke of Queensberry and Dover.” He was born at Sanquhar Castle, 18th December, 1662, and was educated at Glasgow University. This is the Union Duke, so called because he was mainly instrumental in bringing about the union of the English and Scottish Parliaments in 1707, for which he suffered much obloquy. He died in 1711.

Return to Book Index Page


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