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really " working for righteousness." Of yore one man, Buccleuch,
had spurned with curses the offers of Henry VHL ; now the real
leaders of the people, the preachers, were of like mind.'*''

The mission of Bowes opened with intercession for the banished
Hamiltons. Lord Claude had defended himself against the various
charges of murder in a letter to Elizabeth (January 29, 1580).*^
Bowes touched on a scheme of Lennox's for placing near the king
George Douglas, who organised Mary's escape from Lochleven, and
was her trusted servant. There had also been a scheme to imprison
Morton, and use against him his robbery of the Kirk. The revolu-
tion of the Court was to have been effected at Doune Castle, and
James himself told Bowes some of the details. He feared the
affair would end in a fight, and returned to Stirling. This was the
intrigue at which Mary had been working : it was defeated, but James
obviously disliked Morton.

It was more important that Lennox, and his retainer Henry Ker,
"are now so earnest Protestants as they begin to creep into credit
even with the ministers at Edinburgh, that have written in their
commendations to the king's ministers" (May 10, i58o).'*2 If the


godly accepted Lennox, Morton would indeed be in danger. James,
in July, happened to be with Morton and Lennox in the New
Inn, or Novum Hospitium, of St Andrews. As they looked from the
gallery at a pageant, a lunatic seaman. Skipper Lindsay, began an
amateur sermon in the open air. Morton was standing "gnapping
upon his staff," when the crazed fellow " warned the earl not obscurely
that his judgment was drawing near, and his doom in dressing." ^
But Morton, we shall see, was then in treaty with Lennox.

When the General Assembly met at Dundee in mid-July, Lennox
wrote to inform the Brethren that he had now " been called to a
knowledge of his salvation," and had already " made open declara-
tion of his calling " in kirk at Edinburgh, and at Stirling. Mr Henry
Ker had also " long lain in blindness," but now had seen a great
light. Both gentlemen earnestly desired the services of a Huguenot
preacher to confirm them in the truth.^-* A difficulty with Lennox
was to get Dumbarton Castle into his own hands, for Bowes had now
bought Drumquhassel, the actual captain of the place, with a bribe.*^
Morton, too, was won over to execute a plot to get possession of
James, as usual, in Elizabeth's interest, if she would plainly state
her terms.**^ In short, through the summer of 1580 there was an
English conspiracy flattered by Elizabeth, and a Marian conspiracy
worked by Lennox, Archbishop Beaton, and Lesley, who was hang-
ing about Dieppe in readiness to return. James met with an awk-
ward accident in July : his horse fell on him, his attendants drew
their swords to kill the beast, but both steed and monarch escaped
unhurt.'*' In politics Morton was unable to move. Elizabeth
would not show her hand, and Lennox and he were making
overtures for amity, as Archibald Douglas, employed as go-between,
reported to Bowes, This private negotiation prevented violent
doings at St Andrews at the time when Skipper Lindsay prophe-
sied to Morton.'^ A surfeit from overfeeding, which attacked
both Lennox and Morton, delayed, sine die, their reconciliation.

The chief aim of Lennox, and of the Marian conspirators, had
been to convey Dumbarton Castle into Lennox's own hands. This
seemed to have been secured when Drumquhassel, a Lennoxian,
got the captaincy. But Bowes, as we saw, had purchased Drum-
quhassel. Lennox was not defeated. On August 25 he caused
the gates of Edinburgh to be closed, netted Drumquhassel, who was
in the town, excluded Morton, who lay at Dalkeith, and compelled
Drumquhassel to give up the keys.*^ Bowes sent intelligence to


Walsingham, who on August 31 commissioned him, first to remon-
strate strongly with James, seeing that Lennox was " a professed
enemy of the Gospel," and then, if remonstrance failed, to try
murder. Elizabeth bade him conspire with Morton to " lay violent
hands on the said " enemy of the Gospel.^'' Elizabeth would give
all assistance. This was on August 31 ; on September i Elizabeth
again sent contradictory injunctions. Force was not to be used,
no assistance was to be promised till further notice. Walsingham
deplored "our unthankfulness towards God," in thus withdrawing
from a work so acceptable as murder. Godliness has its remorses.^^
Bowes was now merely to threaten James with loss of the heirship
of England, and to accuse Lennox before the Council, in the
absence of the accused, that being, as in Mary's own case,
Elizabeth's idea of justice. It was not that of the Council. Bowes
continued to plot, Morton to waver. The clergy denounced
" Papists with great ruffs and wide bellies," Lennox and his com-
pany. Ruthven, with Robert Melville and Lethington's brother,
John Maitland (who probably represented Lethington on the scene
of Darnley's murder), were won over to Lennox's faction. Both
Morton and Lennox rebuked the preachers, Morton speaking
severely of the turbulent John Durie. By a letter of October 7
Bowes was recalled, to the consternation of Morton : Elizabeth
had deserted him. A guard of thirty gentlemen was appointed
for the king, including Mary's friend, George Douglas, and Captain
James Stewart of Ochiltree, brother-in-law of Knox, a soldier of
fortune who had been in France, Sweden, and Russia, and was
to become practical Governor of Scotland.^'^

The recall of Bowes was Morton's death-warrant. His intrigues
with Bowes, and the plot to kill Lennox (which Bowes had kept
working at), were probably known. A man who dealt, as Morton
did, through Archibald Douglas, was certain to be betrayed. That
Archibald was the traitor may be inferred from his character, and,
moreover, from the circumstance that Morton, on the last day of
his life, openly declared that his cousin and retainer, Archibald,
had been present at Darnley's murder. He informed against no
other man, dead or alive. Aware of Morton's danger, Elizabeth in
November instructed Lord Hunsdon to go to James, threaten him,
bribe, form a new party, and rescue her accomplice. She then
withdrew her instructions, and left the Earl, as was her wont, to his

ARREST OF MORTON (DEC. 31, 1580). 269

Morton was to have been arrested on December 26. On that
day James, either because "his better nature prevailed" (as Mr
Froude conjectures) or with the Judas-hke dissimulation which he
later showed to Somerset, went out hunting with Morton, and
treated him with special kindness. Lord Robert Stewart, Mary's
brother, now Earl of Orkney, gave to Morton, as he had given to
Darnley in Kirk-o'-Field, warning to fly. Morton would not be
advised. Perhaps he did not know that throughout the year Sir
James Balfour, in France, had been entertaining Mary with tales of
his possession of the Darnley murder-band, implicating Morton.
Mary had no confidence in Balfour's professions, but she kept him
in hand, and now Balfour had secretly landed in Scotland, arriving
on December 27. The probability is that his absence caused James
to defer the arrest intended for December 26.^* On the last
night of December 1580 INIorton was accused in presence of the
Council. ^^

The scene was a repetition of that in which Crawford accused
Lethington. Captain James Stewart of the Guards entered the
council chamber, fell on his knees, and charged Morton with_^r^-
knowledge of Darnley's death.^^ Morton rose disdainfully, protesting
his innocence, and his past diligence in pursuing the murderers.
" For that," said Stewart, still kneeling, " why did he prefer Mr
Archibald Douglas, his cousin, to the place of a Senator of the
College of Justice, who was known to have been an actor in that
murder, if he himself had no part in it?"^'^ Stewart sprang to his
feet, both men laid hand to hilt, the burly Lindsay and Cathcart
sundered them and took them forth from the chamber. Morton
returned, Stewart again rushed in, a new ruffle began, and was again
put down. ]Morton was locked up in a room of the palace, while
Angus and Lennox declined to vote on the matter, and Eglintoun
suggested that the king's Advocate should be consulted. He ad-
vised committal and trial, and on Monday, January 2, 1581, Morton
was warded in Edinburgh Castle. Craig in his Sunday sermon
inveighed against " false accusations." The accusation was per-
fectly true, but then Morton was a " professor," and that was
enough. Stewart drew his dagger, and warned Craig that the
pulpit should not protect one who slandered him.^^

Meanwhile Archibald Douglas had been warned and had fled to
Berwick, where he arrived on January 6. He professed his readi-
ness to justify himself, if examined without torture. His absence


delayed Morton's case, and for once we may regret that Archibald
was not treated with the boot, which must have extracted valuable
historical information. On Monday, as we saw, Morton was com-
mitted to Edinburgh Castle. As he went he was cursed by a woman
whose husband he had hanged for making a ballad. Many a man
whom Morton had injured was glad, but professors regretted the
fall of one who "had done so much for establishing of religion." ^^
He had many private foes, however, and, even among the godly,
Lord Ruthven was then at feud with him. On January 18, 1581,
Morton was carried to Dumbarton Castle for greater security. On
the next day Randolph arrived in Edinburgh : Elizabeth was moving
in Morton's interest. She would try diplomacy through Randolph ;
she moved a force, under Hunsdon, to the Border, and Randolph
in Edinburgh, Bowes at Berwick, intrigued with Angus and the
Douglases in favour of a plot to seize James and lay violent hands
on Lennox. The go-between was Douglas of Whittingham, brother
of Archibald, and, like him, a judge. Bowes's letters are full of
expectations of a " strange masque at Holyrood," a new affair of

But all was vain. Randolph (January 25) tried the effect of
producing two intercepted letters of Archbishop Beaton to prove
that Lennox was an agent of France and of the Jesuits. James
told Randolph that the letters seemed to be forged, or written by
Beaton, a partisan of the Hamiltons, to discredit a Lennox Stewart.
The Estates assembled on February 20, and Randolph harangued
them on the 24th. He produced no effect, the Estates voted sup-
plies in case of an English invasion. Holyrood was guarded closely
by James Stewart. On March 8 the king agreed to settle English
disputes by a meeting of commissioners on the Border. Mean-
while a scheme had been contrived to enter James's rooms by
false keys, kill Lennox, Argyll, and Montrose, and carry James to
England. This appears to have been a plot of Angus ; Randolph
professed his disbelief in it when it was discovered. The con-
spiracy was brought to light through the arrest of Whittingham,
Affleck, Jerdan, and other agents of Morton and Angus. Though
not "offered the boots" (torture in the boot), Whittingham re-
vealed the whole affair, and accused his ingenuous brother, Archi-
bald, of forging the letters which Randolph employed to discredit
Lennox. Bowes protested that when he forwarded the letters to
London from Berwick, where Archibald was residing, he believed


them to be genuine. This was not the opinion of four of
the Edinburgh preachers, who attested Whittingham's confession.
" The ministers have seen it, and in their sermons give God great
thanks therefor," writes Randolph to Hunsdon on March 20. If
the very preachers admitted that Lennox was falsely accused, the
case looks black for Archibald and the letters attributed to Arch-
bishop Beaton, which he intercepted, and handed to Bowes. The
confessions of Whittingham made Randolph's position perilous. A
placard asked why he came from Elizabeth to complain of James's
liberality to his kinsman, Lennox. Had Elizabeth not been liberal
to Leicester and Sir Christopher Hatton ? Elizabeth was now
asking for the expulsion of Sir James Balfour. Why had she never
objected to him through the years when he was Morton's chief
adviser ? Why did Elizabeth shelter Archibald Douglas, one of
Darnley's assassins, while her conscience so suddenly stirred her
against Sir James ? If Elizabeth's Protestantism was alarmed by
Catholics near the king, why was she treating for marriage herself
with a Catholic, the brother of the King of France ? Did Randolph
take pleasure in the society of owls and nightingales ? was that why
he had nocturnal meetings with Angus and Mar?

These questions, in which we may guess the hand of Lething-
ton's brother John, were fixed on Randolph's door on March 13.
Affleck had confessed on March 12 ; so, probably, had Whitting-
ham.^*' The astute Randolph had met his match at last. Some
less ingenious disputant fired a shot through his window in his
absence : he took the hint and retired to Berwick. Angus had
been banished to Inverness : his castles were occupied, the people
of Dalkeith were disarmed ; there was left no force on Morton's
side to co-operate with Hunsdon's men on the Border. Elizabeth
disbanded them, and Morton's doom was sealed.

Lennox and James Stewart had managed their concerns with
resolution and skill. "^^ Captain James Stewart was rewarded with
the tutorship of the mad Earl of Arran, and presently with his
earldom. Morton was brought from Dumbarton at the end of
May, and put to trial on June i. It was deemed quickest to
accuse him of Darnley's murder alone, out of nineteen charges. ^
We have no full record of the trial, but a letter of Sir John Foster's
to Walsingham shows that Morton's meeting with Bothwell and
Lethington at Whittingham about January 19, 1567, was known
to the judges.^2 On that occasion he was made privy to Darnley's


murder, but (he said in his confession) refused to sign the band
without a written warrant from Mary, which he never obtained.
We may reasonably conjecture that this evidence was extracted
from Douglas of Whittingham, at whose house the plot was dis-
cussed. Whatever other testimony may have been produced (one
part was the queen's accusation of Morton at Carberry), Morton
was found guilty of "art and part of concealing of the king's
father's murder." " Art and part ! God knows the contrary ! "
Morton is said to have exclaimed. But in his confession to
two preachers, Durie and Balcanquhal, he admitted enough to
satisfy them of the justice of his sentence. He told the story of
the Whittingham conference. " If I had gotten the queen's hand-
write, mid so had hiown her mind, I was purposed to have turned
my back on Scotland." Yet he calmly assumed that he did know
Mary's mind, and that it v;as murderous, though he had just said
that he did not. He admitted that, knowing Archibald Douglas,
by his own confession, to have taken active part in the crime, he
continued to employ him, raising him to the bench. The preachers
candidly remarked that he "confessed the foreknowledge and con-
cealing of the king's murder," and so "could not justly complain of
his sentence." To whom could he reveal it? he replied; "To the
queen : she was the doer of it." Yet he confessedly did not "know
her mind." Morton added, regretfully, that " he expressed not the
fruits of his profession in his hfe and conversation." To his " pro-
fession " he returned, in a manner edifying, and perhaps sincere.
One Binning, a servant of Archibald Douglas, who confessed that
Archibald lost one of his velvet " mules," or slippers, in hurrying
from Kirk-o'-Field, was also put to death. Morton died bravely :
his head was spiked on a gable of the Tolbooth.

So ended the last of Darnley's murderers who died by the law,
and of the men who, being guilty of the crime, accused their queen.
Morton had one virtue — personal courage ; and one political
merit, a strong hand. His errors were conspicuous.*^^ His title
of Earl of Morton was held for a few years by the turbulent
Lord Maxwell.

NOTES. 273


' Bannatyne, p. 427. - Diurnal, p. 320.

3 Wright's Elizabeth, i. 430. * For. Cal. Eliz., x. 229.

° For. Cal. Eliz., x. 259. See the full terms of the pacification in the Privy
Council Register, ii. 193-200. For. Cal. Eliz., 1572-74, 259-262.

® Spottiswoode, i. 260.

' Privy Council Register, ii. 216, 219.

* Journal of the Siege, Bannatyne Miscellany, ii. 72-80.

» For. Cal. Eliz., x. 355.

^0 For. Cal. Eliz., 399-401.

^^ Labanoff, iv. 91 ; For. Cal. Eliz., x. 470, 540, 550; Robertson, Inventories,
cxxxvi, cxxxvii ; Privy Council Register, ii. 330, 331, 435.

12 For. Cal. Eliz., x. 212.

^' In Stevenson's Nau, pp. 133, 1 34.

1* Book of the Universal Kirk, i. 335, 338, 342, 361, 362.

^5 M'Crie, Life of Andrevi' Melville (1819), i. 126, 13 1. Also 'The Poetical
Remains of Mr John Davidson' : Edinburgh, 1829. Fifty printed.

^8 Book of the Universal Kirk, i. 336. 1575.

^^ Diurnal, p. 341.

^^ Hosack, ii. 200, note 6, citing " Registry of Presentations."

'* Spottiswoode, History of the Church of Scotland, ii. 200 (1851).

^'^ Tytler, viii. 17 ; Walsingham to Cecil and Elizabeth, April II, 12.

-1 For. Cal. Eliz., 1575. No. 214-216-218.

2- For, Cal. Eliz., 1575, pp. 93, 94.
■^ For. Cal. Eliz., 1575, pp. 97, 98.
'^■^ Murdin, pp. 282-2S6.

^^ Spottiswoode, ii. 203-205.

2^ Spanish Calendar, ii. 486. November 7, 1574.

^ Papers in the Scots College at Paris. Hosack, Mary Stuart, ii. Appendix B.

^ Spottiswoode, ii. 205.

^^ Labanoff, v. 31, 32.

^" Moysie's Memoirs, Bannatyne Club, 1830, pp. 1-6.

^' Moysie, pp. 7, 8, gives these dates : Morton goes to Stirling on May 28, and
is more powerful than Argyll, AthoU, and the rest, though they are admitted to
council in the castle. Cf. Spottiswoode, ii. 220-230 ; Bowes' Correspondence
(Surtees Society), 1842, pp. 6-8 ; Calderwood's History of the Kirk of Scotland
(1843), iii. 408, 426.

3- Labanoff, v. 51-67.

^ Hosack, ii. 546-550. Scots College Papers.

"•* Randolph to Hunsdon, March 20, 1681 ; Tytler, viii. 429.

^^ Bowes, p. 100.

^^ May 31, Mary to Henri III. ; Labanoff, v. 80.

^ Moysie, p. 25. ^* Moysie, p. 26.

*" Thorpe, Calendar, Scotland, i, 402. ■*" Bowes, p. 78.

*^ Thorpe, i. 401. *'- Bowes, pp. 50-59.

^' Calderwood, iii. 463. ** Calderwood, iii. 468, 477.

*^ Bowes, pp. 65, 66. *^ Bowes, p. 69.




*^ Bowes, pp. 92, 93.
^^ Bowes, pp. 109, III.
®2 Bowes, pp. 155, 156.

1581 ; Laing, ii. 314, 31S ; Froude, xi. 19,

^^ Bowes, p. 84.

^ Bowes, p. 106.

" Bowes, pp. Ill, 112.

^ Thorpe, i. 415.

** Balfour to Mary, January 31,
382, note I.

^ So Moysie, Calderwood, and others. Bowes, January i, 1581, says that
the arrest took place in Morton's own chamber. Probably Moysie and the others
mean to place the acciisatioti in the Council-room, the arrest, following, in Mor-
ton's own room. But see Bowes, pp. 157-161.

^ Calderwood, iii. 481. '''' Spottiswoode, ii. 271.

^* Bowes, pp. 158, 160. ^^ Calderwood, iii. 482, 483.

^ Calderwood, iii. 506-510.

*' The letters and other sources are in Bowes, Calderwood, and the Appendix
to Tytler, viii. 416-431.

*2 Tytler, viii. 429, 430.

^^ Cf. The Mystery of Mary Stuart, pp. 382, 385, and Calderwood, iii. 557-




The death of Morton was followed by that long struggle between
the Crown and the Kirk which filled the reign of James VI. The
Protestant party had never looked on their hold of the country as
secure. In the historical perspective we see that their constant
trepidations were really baseless, but it was impossible for men
engaged in the strife to estimate correctly the chances of the old
and the new faiths. The preachers justly resented the avarice of
the lay holders of Church property, without perceiving that the lay
abbots and parsons would never consent to imperil their wealth by a
restoration of the ancient creed, and a redistribution of the Church
lands. The very thoroughness of the robbery was the protection of
the Kirk. England, that bulwark of Protestantism, had, in fact, little
to fear from the disunited Catholic Powers. While Spain and France
neutralised each other, and while England was anti-Catholic, the
Kirk was safe. Neither distracted France nor Spain could seriously
take hold of Scotland.

Perhaps that which favoured most the slender chances of a
Catholic restoration north of Tweed was the extreme zeal of
preachers who, not satisfied to live apart from Rome, were in-
tent on building up a theocracy like that of Geneva. The king,
though so yoling, was a precocious theologian, and could only be
driven to tamper with Rome by the excessive severities of the
Scottish Calvinists. It was not the interest of James to change his
creed ; he desired nothing less than subordination to his Catholic
mother, or Catholic kinsmen of the House of Guise. By intellect,
by education, and by conviction he was Protestant. Yet the


suspicion with which he was regarded by his own clergy, the stern-
ness of their discipline, the outrages which he had to endure from
them and the nobles of their party, forced him to think of seeking
assistance from Catholic Powers, and perhaps would have made
him change his creed, if anything could have produced that effect.
Thus the real danger of Protestantism in Scotland, if danger there
was, arose from the magnitude of the pretensions of the preachers.
They occasionally drove the king into dealings with the Guises,
with France, and with Rome, — traffickings which were contrary to
his natural bent, and to those interests of his in England which
he already understood very well. He filled the Presbyterians with
fears ; but CathoUcs of sagacity soon ceased to entertain hopes
based on the letters and demeanour of this crafty and calculating
young prince. As our latest historian remarks, "The absolutism of
James was forced upon him in large degree by the excessive claims
of the Presbyterian clergy," while "the special circumstances in
which Andrew Melville found the country " offer " the explanation
of those extreme claims which he and his fellow-ministers put for-
ward in regard to the mutual relations of Church and State."
By open policy and secret intrigue James appeared to be steadily
working for the overthrow of the existing religious establishment.
Thus the extreme claims of the ministers forced absolutism on the
king, and the absolutism of the king explains " the extreme claims "
of the ministers.^ In brief, two mutually exclusive, intolerant, and
intolerable theories of Church and State were in open collision.

But Morton, we must remember, though never suspected of
Catholic tendencies, had, when Regent, been at least as high-
handed towards the Kirk as the young king himself. Morton
had resisted the right of the preachers to " convocate the lieges." -
When requested to come to the General Assembly and " further the
cause of God," he not only refused, but threatened some of the
most zealous with hanging, alleging that otherwise " there could be
no peace nor order in the country," a theory later acted on by
Charles 11.^ The editor of Calderwood tells a story of Morton's
short way with preachers. A certain Captain CuUen had been with
Mary of Guise during her mortal illness at Edinburgh Castle,
whence he corresponded mth her brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine.
After the siege of Leith he entered the Danish service, and after
Riccio's murder was a captain in Mary's guard of harquebus-men.
He was said to have advised the strangling of Darnley at Kirk-o'-


Field, as he had observed that the effects of explosions were
capricious. He was captured by the lords, but it was not deemed
wise to publish his revelations : he was allowed to escape, forfeiting
his recognisances.'* He later took service under Kirkcaldy when
that knight held the castle for Mary. The captain, after a skirmish,
was found hiding ingloriously in a meat-safe. He had a very pretty
wife, so Morton hanged him and lived with his widow. For this
Morton was rebuked by Andrew Douglas, minister of Uunglas. His
reply, it is said by Calderwood's editor, was first to torture Douglas
in the boot, and then hang him, — a story not easily credible.

Nevertheless, from 1576 onwards the ministers laboured, first
to oppose the bishops, and next to "collect out of the Book of
God a form of discipline and policy ecclesiastical ; to propose it
to the prince ; and to crave it to be confirmed as a law pro-

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 29 of 60)