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The History of Scotland
In 9 volumes + Index By Patrick Fraser Tytler (1828)

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I have commenced the History of Scotland at the accession of Alexander the Third, because it is at this period that our national annals become particularly interesting to the general reader. During the reign of this monarch, England first began to entertain serious thoughts of the reduction of her sister country. The dark cloud of misfortune which gathered over Scotland immediately after the death of Alexander, suggested to Edward the First his schemes of ambition and conquest; and perhaps, in the history of Liberty, there is no more memorable war than that which commenced under Wallace in 1297, and terminated in the final establishment of Scottish independence by Robert Bruce, in 1328.

In the composition of the present volume, which embraces this period, I have anxiously endeavoured to examine the most authentic sources of information, and to convey a true picture of the times without prepossession or partiality. To have done so, partakes more of the nature of a grave duty than of a merit; and even after this has been accomplished, there will remain ample room for many imperfections. If, in the execution of my plan, I have been obliged to differ on some points of importance from authors of established celebrity, I have fully stated the grounds of my opinion in the Notes and Illustrations, which are printed at the end of the volume; and I trust that I shall not be blamed for the freedom of my remarks, until the historical authorities upon which they are founded have been examined and compared.


Volume I (Complete Volume)

Volume II (Complete Volume)


It may not be improper to state, that the greater part of this Second Volume is founded upon documents which have not been examined by any writer of Scottish History. Of these, some have been published considerably subsequent to the date of the composition of any other history. Other most valuable records have been consulted, which, although transcribed and partly printed, are not yet communicated to the public. To the first class belongs the great national work printed, in the years 1814 and 1819, at the expense of Government, by command of his late Majesty, entitled "Rotuli Scotić," the publication of which was originally suggested by the present learned Deputy-Clerk-Register, Mr Thompson, and committed to the superintendence of Mr David Macpherson, the able Editor of Winton's Chronicle. It consists of two very large folio volumes, embracing a collection of historical records, relative to the political transactions between England and Scotland, from the nineteenth year of the reign of Edward the First to the eighth of Henry the Eighth. These records consist of rolls, which are preserved in the Tower and the Chapter-House at Westminster; and, although the series is not quite complete, and, owing to their being exclusively written in Latin or in Norman French, the work is uninviting to the general reader, it is not too much to say, that, considered as materials for authentic history, the "Rotuli Scotić" is one of the most valuable presents which could have been made to the country. To the second class of documents, those printed but not published, belongs the folio volume which has been quoted in this work, under the title of "Robertson's Parliamentary Records," also printed by direction of Government in 1804, but cancelled and withdrawn, owing to some defects in the arrangement; and the voluminous and valuable work, the " Accounts of the Great Chamberlains of Scotland," of which a more full notice is given in the Appendix.

From the materials furnished by these records, as well as from other sources, to which it is unnecessary here to allude, I have endeavoured to give clearness and consistency to a portion of history hitherto in many places obscure — the reign of David the Second, which immediately preceded the accession of the House of Stewart to the throne. It was during this period that Edward the Third attempted to make himself master of Scotland, both by force of arms and by political intrigue; and that the country, although four times invaded by this able and victorious prince in person, deserted by a part of its nobility, and betrayed by its king, contrived successfully to maintain its liberty. I have been accused of injustice in delineating the character of Edward the First, and of being actuated by a national bias; and, although anxious to weigh with scrupulous impartiality the characters of the principal actors in the scenes which I have described, it is possible I may have been unable wholly to divest myself of individual feelings. Yet, in writing the history of a brave people, resolutely struggling for their independence under circumstances of peculiar discouragement, it is difficult to be a friend of freedom and not to sympathize with their sufferings, — not to feel indignation at unjust aggression, and satisfaction when the attempt is met with disappointment and defeat. And surely, if the circumstance, that it was an English Monarch who was misled, by the spirit of ambition and conquest, into a glaring disregard of the most sacred rights and sanctions, had induced the historian to dilute his censure, or to assume a tone of palliation and apology, there would have been room for a severer, because a more merited, impeachment, in which every man who has tasted the sweetness of freedom, or felt the insolence of conquest, would have risen in witness against him. I am far from being blind to the great qualities of Edward the First; but it is with this king in his transactions with Scotland that a historian of Scotland has to do, and not with his character as an English King.

In the "Enquiry into the State of Ancient Scotland," it was my object to communicate authentic information upon the general appearance of the country; its ancient feudal constitution; the manners and amusements, the superstitions and character, of its people; its progress in agriculture, commerce, and manufactures; and its advancement in the arts which add comfort or ornament to life. I have attempted to direct the spirit of antiquarian research, which is too often applied in the investigation of questions of inferior moment, to the elucidation of subjects of general interest and importance: But the task has not been one of easy execution; and I have only to hope, that all who are acquainted with the difficulty of procuring information where the period is so remote, and the materials are to be derived from such various and scattered sources, will, on this ground, make allowance for the errors into which I may have fallen, and the imperfections which accompany such an investigation.

Melville Street,
28th March, 1829.

Historical Enquiry into the Ancient State of Scotland embracing principally the period from the Accession of Alexander the Third to the Death of David the Second.

Having brought this work down to the great era of the accession of the house of Stewart, in the occupation of the throne by Robert the Second, I propose to pause for a short time, in order to cast our eye over the wide field through which we have travelled, and to mark, as fully as our imperfect materials will permit, the progress of the nation in some of those great subjects which form the body of its civil history. The general features and appearance of the country; its agriculture, commerce, and manufactures; the manners and amusements, the superstitions and character, of the people; the system of feudal government under which they lived; their progress in the arts, which add comfort, or security, or ornament to life; the character of their literature; are subjects upon which our curiosity is naturally active and eager for information; but it is unfortunate that the writers, who can alone be considered as authentic, have regarded such investigations as either uninteresting, or beneath the dignity of the works in which they had engaged. Some lights, however, are to be found scattered through their works, or reflected from the public muniments and records of the times; and it is to the guidance of these, however feeble and imperfect, that the historian can alone commit himself. It must necessarily happen that, in an attempt of this kind, owing to the paucity of materials, and to the extreme remoteness of the period, any thing like a full account of the country is unattainable; and that it is exceedingly difficult to throw together, under any system of lucid arrangement, the insulated facts which have been collected. I have adopted that order which appears the most natural.

  • Section I - General Appearance of the Country (Pages 197 - 224)
  • Section II - Distinct Races in Scotland (Pages 225 - 260)
  • Section III - Ancient Parliament of Scotland (Pages 261 - 282)
  • Section IV - Early Commerce and Navigation (Pages 283 - 336)
  • Section V - State of the Early Scottish Church (Pages 337 - 398)
  • Section VI - Sports and Amusements of Ancient Scotland (Pages 399 - 435)
  • Notes and Illustrations (Pages 436 - 486)

Volume III (Complete Volume)

Volume IV (Complete Volume)

The period which embraces the reigns of James the Second and James the Third, has been justly considered one of the most obscure portions of Scottish history. Even in Pinker-ton, the latest, and certainly not the least acute of our historians, the narrative, from the want of access to authentic and then undiscovered materials, is often meagre, abrupt, and contradictory. Sensible of this, Mr Thomson, Depute-Clerk Register for Scotland, began, many years ago, to collect all the original muniments, and fragments of contemporary history which related to the reign of James the Second, with the laudable design of giving them to the public. This intention he afterwards abandoned, but not before he had printed the valuable Chronicle quoted so frequently in the following volume, under the title of the Auchinleck Chronicle. To this circumstance, and to the liberal communication of several other manuscript papers which he had collected, the following volume owes not a few of its facts and illustrations. I have yet another obligation to acknowledge. The Bannatyne Club, an institution which has already done much for Scottish history and antiquities, determined, some time ago, to print, from the most ancient manuscripts, a new edition of Lindsay of Pitscottie's Chronicle of Scotland. As this author, however, although one of the most amusing of our early writers, did not enjoy a high character for authenticity, it was resolved to correct and illustrate his text by notes and chronological tables, drawn up from original sources. This task was committed to the Reverend Mr Macgregor Stirling, a gentleman, whose talents for abstruse and accurate research had already been exercised on similar subjects. He enjoyed also the advantage of Mr Thomson's superintendence, and the result has been a voluminous and valuable collection of notes and extracts from original documents, drawn up by Mr Stirling in chronological order, and compiled principally from manuscript sources. To these, which are still in manuscript, I have had unlimited access during the composition of this part of the history. They have facilitated my labour, and often alleviated the irksomeness of minute research; whilst from their materials I have frequently been enabled to derive a gleam of light, or to supply a link in the narrative, which, but for such assistance, must have remained as obscure and as defective as before.

Melville Street, 6th June, 1831.

Volume V (Complete Volume)

In the present volume, the History of Scotland is brought down from the year 1497, where the fourth volume concluded, to the year 1546, a period embracing the greater part of the reign of James the Fourth, the regency of Albany, the whole of the reign of James the Fifth, and a portion of the minority of Mary. In various parts of this volume, but more particularly in the view given of the regency of the Duke of Albany, the author has differed essentially from Pinkerton, one of the latest and most acute of our historians, and to whose previous researches, in the unpublished treasures of the British Museum, he has been much indebted. The reasons for this difference are fully stated in the text; and it is certainly curious, that while Pinkerton has frequently opened new ground, he should have failed to perceive the contradiction which was given by the tenor of his narrative to those loose assertions of Buchanan and other historians, which he has not hesitated to repeat.

It is, however, in the latter portion of this volume, which embodies the regency of the Earl of Arran, and the first rise of the Reformation, that the author trusts the historical student will be most interested. It is written almost exclusively from original letters and public muniments preserved in His Majesty's State Paper Office. These rich materials have lain unexamined by any of our general historians for a period of nearly three centuries; and it is not too much to say, that they throw a clear and useful light on a period of our annals hitherto very dark and contradictory. To demonstrate their value, it is only necessary to point out the elucidations which they afford of the conduct and motives of some individuals of the Scottish aristocracy who were in the interest of England; the manner in which they illustrate the violent and often unprincipled policy of Henry the Eighth, and the extraordinary and revolting views which they open into the conspiracy for the assassination of Cardinal Beaton. On these, and on many other subjects, the materials preserved in the State Paper Office contribute information, which is new in the history of the country; and if, in the course of this volume, the author has spoken with severity of the conduct of various members of the Scottish nobility, who have been eulogized by other historians, it is to be remembered, that the proceedings upon which he animadverts are proved under their own hand, and that the motives held up to reprobation are taken from their own lips.

The exposure of such transactions is a grave, though not a grateful duty—and, undoubtedly, the prevailing feeling ought to be, satisfaction at the complete, though tardy, discovery of the truth. In the volume of Scottish correspondence during the reign of Henry the Eighth, which is soon to be published by Government, those original letters and public papers, from which extracts have been given in this part of the work, will appear in their entire state; and the author begs to express his obligation to Lord Melbourne, for the liberality which allowed him the use of these most valuable documents previous to their publication; and to Mr. Hobhouse, for the courtesy with which the order was carried into effect. But most of all are his thanks due to his friend, Mr. Lemon, Deputy-keeper of the State Paper Office,—a gentleman to whose exertions the country mainly owes that admirable arrangement which now distinguishes this great repository of our national muniments; and from whose intimate acquaintance with ancient manuscripts and records he has repeatedly derived assistance.

London, April 11, 1834.

Volume VI (Complete Volume)

The Volume of the History of Scotland, now published, comprehends the period from the assassination of Cardinal Beaton in 1546, to the marriage of Mary, Queen of Scots, with Henry, Lord Darnley, in 1565, an interval, brief, indeed, in point of time, but prolific in events, and most momentous in their consequences. In proof of this, it is enough to say, that it embraces the history of the Reformation in Scotland: it includes the outbreak, the progress, and the establishment of that wonderful revolution, of which, in a former volume, the Author has marked the faint approaches, but which now, with all its conflicting principles, its mingled feelings, and stern features, comes prominently before us.

Preceding this great event, occurs the violent and impolitic invasion of the Protector Somerset, and the English war with the united forces of France and Scotland. In more immediate connexion with it, the Author has traced, with greater detail than former writers, the history of the Regency of Mary of Lorraine, the crafty and unscrupulous policy of Elizabeth and Cecil, the plots of the Guises, and the selfishness, venality, and restless intrigues, of the Scottish nobles, as well Protestant as Romish.

Upon these subjects he has had access to a large mass of valuable manuscript materials, of which the greater part has been hitherto unprinted and unexamined. These materials consist chiefly of the original letters of Knox, Cecil, Elizabeth, Mary, Murray, Randolph, Secretary Lethington, Throckmorton, and many other actors in these dark and troubled times; and the historical student, who is familiar with the earlier and able labours of preceding writers, will discover that an examination of this correspondence has enabled him to throw new light upon this division of the work, and to recover from the waste of conjecture and obscurity, some portions of Scottish history which were lost.

In addition to these letters which are preserved in his Majesty's State Paper Office, the Author has had access to a transcript of the unprinted Privy Council Books of Edward the Sixth. [These volumes were politely communicated to me by James Chalmers, Esq. They formed part of the collection of the well known and indefatigable Author of "Caledonia"—Mr. George Chalmers.] He has also consulted various volumes of transcripts of the unprinted Privy Council Books of Scotland, which have been carefully collated with the originals in the General Register House, at Edinburgh. [Kindly communicated to me by Thomas Thomson, Esq. Deputy Clerk Register.]

Besides these sources, he has occasionally derived assistance from two manuscript volumes of Selections from the accounts of the Lord High Treasurer, and the Register of the Privy Seal of Scotland. [These volumes were obligingly lent me by their Compiler, Mr. Pitcairn, the Author of that laborious and useful work, "The Ancient Criminal Trials."] Lastly, he has consulted an unpublished volume, entitled "Illustrations of the Reign of Queen Mary," consisting principally of Letters from the Talbot Correspondence, preserved in the Library of the College of Arms. [This valuable volume will soon be presented to the Maitland Club by Mr. Kirkman Finlay. We owe its compilation to Mr. Stevenson, Sub-Commissioner of the Public Records, whose learning and enthusiasm have done so much for the remoter periods of Scottish History.]

In the examination of these materials, with a view to impart the condensed historical result to the reader, the only merit to which the Author ventures to lay claim, is an earnest desire to discover the truth; a task so difficult, that in looking back upon the wide field over which he has travelled, he can sincerely say, that each succeeding volume has more fully convinced him of the imperfection of its predecessor, and impressed upon his mind the necessity of increased labour if he hopes to produce any thing which is worthy to live.

This volume was nearly finished printing, when Mr. Van Raumer presented to the world his work, entitled "Contributions to Modern History," from the British Museum and the State Paper Office, embracing Illustrations of the Reign of Mary Queen of Scots, and of the character and conduct of Elizabeth. It is to be regretted that this lively and ingenious writer, should have fallen into the singular mistake of printing as new materials, what has been long familiar to the critical readers of Scottish and English history. The letters, or rather the extracts from letters, which he has given as illustrating the first part of the reign of Mary, from 1561 to 1565, had (with a few slight exceptions) been published from the originals by Keith, in his elaborate work, entitled, "The History of the Affairs of Church and State in Scotland." (Edinburgh, 1734.) This volume of Keith, was the great mine from which Robertson drew his stores, and it formed the chief basis of Hume for the Scottish portion of his history. Its letters have been repeatedly quoted by succeeding writers, and it is still of the greatest utility to every reader who is anxious to derive his knowledge from authentic sources. To repeat these letters was superfluous, to mutilate and misunderstand them, was unfortunate —but, the climax of error was to give them as new matter. [This fact, of the previous publication of these letters by Keith, has been stated in an able article of the British and Foreign Quarterly Review, No. 7.] The Author mentions this to show that English and Scottish historians are  not so utterly neglectful of the manuscript riches of England, as has been supposed, and that the "new lights," which some of the periodical critics have hailed, as proceeding from Prussia, may indeed be new to that country, but have been burning for upwards of a century in England. Mr. V. Raumer, whose continental reputation is firmly established, will, it is hoped, receive these remarks as they are meant to be given—in the spirit of necessary, but not unfriendly criticism.

London, March 2d, 1837.

  • Contents
  • Chapter 1 (Pages 1 - 68)
    Mary from 1545 to 1554 (1545)
  • Chapter 2 (Pages 69 - 134)
    Mary from 1554 to 1561 (1554)
  • Chapter 3 (Pages 135 - 191)
    Mary from 1559 - 1561 (1559)
  • Chapter 4 (Pages 193 - 274)
    Mary from 1560 - 1561 (1560)
  • Chapter 5 (Pages 275 - 346)
    Mary from 1561 - 1565 Part A (1561)
  • Chapter 5 (Pages 347 - 418)
    Mary from 1561 - 1565 Part B (1564)
  • Proofs and Illustration (Pages 421 - 474)
    From Manuscripts chiefly in His Majesty's State Paper Office hitherto unprinted.

Volume VII (Complete Volume)

The volume of the History of Scotland now published embraces the eventful period between the marriage of Mary to Darnley, and the conclusion of the civil war, in 1572, a portion of our national annals which has been so deformed by controversy, that there is scarcely a single event in it of any importance, which has not been questioned, or distorted to suit the peculiar views of the antagonists or defenders of the Queen of Scots.

Under these circumstances, the Author, without adopting any preconceived notions, or espousing any favorite theory, has endeavoured to separate the truth from the tissue of fiction, passion, and prejudice with which it has been obscured, and to put the reader in possession of a clear and authentic narrative of the facts. To attain this, he has examined with much care and labour, the Scottish, Domestic, and Foreign, correspondence, in the State Paper Office; and the authorities upon which this volume is founded are derived almost exclusively from the original letters of Elizabeth and Mary, of Burghley, Randolph, Leicester, Knox, Murray, Morton, and other actors in those dark and troubled times, which are preserved in that great national depository. At the same time he has consulted the rich original stores of the British Museum, and has availed himself of some valuable letters, preserved at Florence amongst the private archives of the House of Medici, in possession of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. These, which form part of the interesting manuscript collections of Prince Labanoff relating to the life of Mary Queen of Scots, were most liberally and politely communicated to the Author by that nobleman.

An access to such materials has enabled the Author to add many new facts to this portion of Scottish history—as well as to throw new light upon the proper inferences derivable from what had been already established.. In proof of this he may refer to the elucidation of the conspiracy for the murder of Riccio, and the clear implication of Elizabeth, Cecil, and the leaders of the protestants, in that deed, to the new details upon the death of Darnley, to the escape of Mary from Lochleven, one of those rare cases in which truth is found to assume the brilliant colours of romance, to the assassination of Murray and Lennox, to the plot of Elizabeth, Mar, and Morton, for having Mary put secretly to death in Scotland, and to other parts of the volume.

But whilst he ventures to point out this, and to express a hope that in this and in the succeeding volume, which will terminate his labours, there is a nearer approach to truth than has yet been made, the Author is desirous of expressing his high respect for the labours of the eminent men who have preceded him, whose works, considering the imperfect materials they possessed are worthy of the highest praise.

July 23rd, 1840.

Volume VIII (Complete Volume)

The principal sources from which this Volume of the History of Scotland has been written, are the same as those indicated in the Preface to Volume Seventh; but the Author has also had the advantage of consulting a valuable collection of original letters and papers, illustrating the reign of James the Sixth, which has been most liberally communicated to him by the Right Honourable Sir George Warrender, Bart. These letters have contributed some important facts to this Volume; and promise to be of still greater service to the next, in the lights which they throw on the concluding portion of this History.

Amongst them are several secret and confidential letters of Queen Elizabeth to James the Sixth, which contain much that is characteristic of this extraordinary woman, and are written wholly in her own hand. The Volumes containing these materials are quoted in the text as the Warrender MSS., and were consulted by Dr Robertson, who has described them, in his Preface to the History of Scotland, "as a very valuable collection of Original Papers, in two large Volumes, communicated by Sir Alexander Dick."
The Author has also to acknowledge the kindness of his friend, Sir Cuthbert Sharp, in placing in his hands three folio Volumes, containing chiefly the Original Letters of Sir Robert Bowes, who acted so prominent a part in the history of this period, and to whose vigorous and graphic details frequent reference has been made in this Volume.

April 8, 1842.

Volume IX (Complete Volume)

The letters of Queen Elizabeth given in the Appendix to this Volume, and now printed for the first time, are taken from originals written entirely in the Queen's own hand, or from contemporary copies of such originals. They were her private and confidential letters; a circumstance which renders them highly valuable, both as throwing light on the personal character and peculiarities of this famous Queen, and on the secret history of the times.

The letters of Elizabeth, which have hitherto been given to the world, have been almost exclusively letters of State, written by Lord Burghley, or some other of her Councillors, and signed by the Queen. It is scarcely necessary to point out the difference between the generality of these last, which are indeed public papers, and the individuality of the letters printed in this Volume, which were strictly sealed, and meant only for the eye of the Prince to whom they were addressed.

Of these latter, some of the most curious are preserved in the MS. Collections of the Right Hon. Sir George Warrender, already alluded to in the Preface to Volume Eighth of this History; and of which his liberality has, for the last two years, permitted the Author the fullest use.

Devonshire Place,
December 4, 1843.

Volume 10 - Index (Complete Volume)

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