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

Historic Earls and Earldoms of Scotland
Chapter IV - Earldom and Earls of Erroll
Section III


IN 1501, a Frenchman, called John Coupante, came to Scotland and challenged any man to fight him. Lindsay of Pitscottie says that the Frenchman desired fighting and jousting in Scotland with the Lords and barons—"but none was so apt and ready to fight with him as Sir Patrick Hamilton, a brother of the Earl of Arran, being then a young man, strong of body, and able in all things; yet for lack of exercise he was not so well practised as need were, though he lacked no hardiment, strength, nor courage in his proceedings. At last, when the Frenchman and he were assembled together, both on great horses, within the lists, under the castle wall of Edinburgh, so after the sound of the trumpet, they rushed rudely together, and broke their spears on each side on other, and afterward got new spears and re-encountered freshly again. But Sir Patrick’s horse uttered with him, and would nowise encounter his marrow, so he was forced to light on foot, and give this Frenchman battle, and therefore, when he lighted, cried for a two-handed sword, and bade the Frenchman light from his horse, and end out the matter, saying to him—’ A horse is but a weak weapon when men have most ado.’ Then, when both the knights were lighted on foot they joined pertly together with awful countenances, and each strake maliciously at the other, and fought long together with uncertain victory. At the last, Sir Patrick Hamilton rushed manfully upon the Frenchman, and strake him upon the knees. Meantime, the Frenchman being at the earth, the King threw his hat over the castle wall, and caused the judges and men-at-arms, to redd and sunder them; and the heralds and trumpeters blew, and cried that the victory was Sir Patrick Hamilton’s."

This Sir Patrick was a nephew of James IV. He was the father of Patrick Hamilton, Abbot of Ferne, the protemartyr of the Reformation in Scotland. Sir Patrick himself was slain in a skirmish on the High Street of Edinburgh, in 1520, called "Cleanse the Causeway."

It was stated in a preceding section, that the High Constable had duties in connection with combats, and that he had a right to the materials of which the lists and fences were formed. Accordingly, touching the combat described above, on the 13th of July, 1501, the provost, magistrates, treasurer, and some of the burgesses of Edinburgh, appeared before a noble and Mighty Lord, William, Earl of Erroll and High Constable of Scotland, who had caused them to be summoned before the King and his Council, for their intro-mission and detention from him, of timber and other materials of the ring called "The Barras," in which the Frenchman and Sir Patrick Hamilton fought. They were, however, unwilling to appear in Court against the High Constable, and paid to him a sum of money for the materials of the enclosure. At the same time, they promised to support the High Constable in the right of his office in such cases, and in others touching his office of Constabulary.

The Earl died on the 14th of January, 1506, and was interred at the Abbey Church of Coupar. He was succeeded by his son, William, Fourth Earl of Erroll.

On the 18th of January, 1507, James IV. made a gift of the dues to William, Earl of Erroll, of the non-entry and relief of all his lands which were in the hands of the Crown, owing to the death of his father, the late Earl.

The Earl married Elizabeth, a daughter of William, first Lord Ruthven, and had issue.

On the 17th of February, 1508, the provost, magistrates, and town council of Edinburgh bound themselves faithfully "to a noble and mighty Lord, William, Earl of Erroll, Lord Hay, and High Constable of Scotland." At this time Erroll constituted the provost and magistrates of Edinburgh as his deputies in the office of Constabulary for a term of three years, and thereafter during his will; and, therefore, the magistrates and council undertook to support the High Constable in the duties, privileges, and honour of his office to the utmost of their power.

At Aberdeen on the 8th of January, 1511, Ranald Udny of Udny gave his bond of manrent to the Earl of Erroll, and High Constable of Scotland. "And I shall be leal and true to my Lord, and serve him with my kin, men, and friends for all the days of my life."

The Earl of Erroll was present in his post at the battle of Flodden. He fell while fighting heroically by the side of the King

"No thought was there of dastard flight,
Linked in the serried phalanx tight.’

He was succeeded by his only son, William, fifth Earl of Erroll. He married Lady Helen Stewart, only daughter of John, third Earl of Lennox, by whom he had issue.

On the 10th of February, 1515, William Lesk, burgess of Aberdeen, rendered homage "and became man to a noble and potent Lord, William, Earl of Erroll, Lord Hay, and High Constable of Scotland; that I shall be leal and true to him and his heirs. . . . Because my good Lord and Master has admitted and affirmed me tenant in the half of the lands of Lesk, with pertinents, which my deceased father, William Lesk, held in heritage, of which the said Lord is superior."

In May, 1516, the Earl of Erroll, on account of the bond of manrent before received from Patrick Chyne of Essilmont—"Therefore we bind and oblige us and our heirs, that we shall supply, maintain, and defend the said Patrick in all his righteous causes and quarrels, moved and to be moved. And be and do for him all things as we ought to do for our own man, kinsman, and servant. . . . And this to endure as well for his kin, friends, and servants, as for himself."

Earl William died at Edinburgh on the 28th of July, 1522, and was interred at the Abbey Church of Coupar. He was succeeded by his son, William, an infant Alexander Hay, a canon and commisssary of Aberdeen, was tutor to the young Earl.

On the 22nd of April, 1538, James V. granted a special licence for serving William heir to his father as sixth Earl of Erroll, Lord High Constable of Scotland, and Sheriff of Aberdeen, notwithstanding his minority. Accordingly, he was served heir, and became sixth Earl of Erroll. He died on the 11th of April, 1541, in the twentieth year of his age.

The Earldom then reverted to George Hay of Logie-Almond, a son of Thomas Hay, a brother of the fourth Earl of Erroll; thus he became, seventh Earl of Erroll. Earl George first married Margaret, a daughter of Alexander Robertson of Strowan, by whom he had four sons and two daughters; and secondly, he married Helen, a daughter of Walter Bruce, of Pitcullen, and by her he had a daughter, Jean.

At Slams, on the 22nd of May, 1543, Alexander Chalmers of Balnacraig gave his bond of manrent to the Earl of Erroll—." For certain gratitudes and favours conferred on me by his lordship as his bond of maintenance made to me thereupon purports. To be a true servant to the Earl for all the days of my life, and shall serve his lordship in peace and in war, no man being excepted saving our Sovereign Lady and Lord when God provides us thereof.....And generally all other things I shall do for my lord which the law and constitution of this realm permits a servant to do for his lord and master." This was witnessed by William Hay, a brother of Alexander Hay of Delgaty; John Rattary of Kinward; Sir William Hay, chaplain; Mr. Gilbert Chalmers, and others. Then follows the Earl’s bond:—" By this writ, we, George, Earl of Erroll, Lord Hay, and Constable of Scotland, to be bound and obliged, and by the faith and truth in our body leally and truly binds and obliges us, to our servant, Alexander Chalmers of Balnacraig for as much as he is become man and servant to us for all the days of his life. . . . To maintain and defend the said Alexander, his servants and friends in all his and their just actions and quarrels against all deadly. And is content that the said Alexander at Whitsunday next enter and labour with his own stock the half of Ordlethin lying in the barony of Slains and Sheriffdom of Aberdeen, being instantly in his hands by reason of the alienation thereof And if we happen to redeem it from him, then he shall have a take of it for five years, besides the takes contained in his reversion; but, if there be no takes in the reversion, immediately after the redeeming thereof— paying yearly therefor four pounds of money, eight bolls of meal and beir equally, four sheep, four geese, six capons, and two dozens of poultry."

The same year, in November, John Cochrane of Pitfour gave his bond of manrent to the Earl of Erroll. The following year, George Meldrum of Fyvie, and Patrick Mowat of Boquholle also gave their bonds of manrent to Erroll. In 1545 Alexander Buchan of Auchmacoy entered into a bond of manrent with Erroll, "for gratitudes, profit, and maintenance done and to be done to me, as his Lordship’s bond made to me purports."

In 1546 the Earls of Huntly and Erroll entered into an agreement for maintaining themselves against all persons. At the same time it was agreed between the Earls of Huntly and Erroll, that John Gordon, also called Ogilvie, third son of the Earl of Huntly, should marry Lady Margaret Hay, second daughter of the Earl of Erroll. This contract was not realised, as John Gordon married Elizabeth Gordon, widow of Alexander Ogilvie of Findlater, and was executed at Aberdeen in the beginning of November, 1562.

It appears that the High Constable had duties in connection with the punishment of offending officers at arms. At Edinburgh on the 16th of January, 1555, the Lyon-King-at-Arms (Sir David Lindsay of the Mount) and the other heralds met, and having considered the many oppressive actions of William Crarar, messenger, upon the people, and especially upon the poor tenants and workmen of the Abbey of Coupar and the surrounding district, which were notoriously known to the Lyon-King and the heralds, and partly confessed by the offender himself: Therefore they ordered the said William’s arms to be taken from him and his person to be delivered to the Lord High Constable to be punished at the Queen’s pleasure as an example to others.

Return to Book Index


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

comments powered by Disqus