Andrew Lang.

A history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) online

. (page 38 of 60)
Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 38 of 60)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

kinglas (an estate on the southern side of Lochfyne, opposite
Inverary), and Campbell of Lochnell. Of these Lochnell was, as
the Lochnell of to-day still is, the first cadet of the House of
Argyll, while the heir -presumptive is, maternally, of the House
of Ardkinglas. In 1584 Ardkinglas received the wardship and
marriage of the child earl, and he, with Calder and the Bishop of
Argyll, had most power in the clan council of six. Lochnell, as
first cadet and next in succession, failing the issue of the sixth
Earl of Argyll, was jealous of Ardkinglas, and was backed by
Glenurchy. Ardkinglas died (1591), and his son was practically
subordinated to Calder. A partisan of Calder's was the bonny
Earl Moray, a Stewart by family, who had married the daughter
and heiress of the Regent Murray, the foe, and for a while the
destroyer (1562), of the House of Huntly. In the feuds about the
earldom of Moray, once held by the Huntlys, the Argylls had
supported the House of Moray. In 1590 Huntly had reasons


for wishing to deprive the bonny Earl of the support of Calder.
Huntly allied himself with Lochiel, Moray with Atholl, Calder,
and Lovat. Huntly also made approaches to Calder's intertribal
foes, Lochnell and Glenurchy. They all formed a " band " for the
destruction of the young Argyll, his brother, Calder, and the bonny
Earl Moray. Parties to this "band" were Maclean of Duart,
whose ancestor, as we saw in a previous volume, had been slain
by Calder's grandfather ; Stewart of Appin ; Macdougal of DunoUy,
near Oban, — and Maitland, the Chancellor! While the Earl of
Moray, Calder, and Argyll, and his brother, were to be done to
death, Lochnell (who would succeed to the earldom of Argyll)
was to reward Maitland with lands in Stirlingshire, and Glenurchy
with those of Lochowe, the ancient patrimony of the Campbells.
Ardkinglas, it seems, knew nothing of " the great band " ; but
he hated Calder, and was induced to have him shot by a man
named Mackellar. So far so good ; one victim of " the great
band," one enemy of Huntly, had perished.^^ He next aimed at
the bonny Earl of Moray, who was now within striking distance of
Edinburgh — very probably for the purpose of assisting Bothwell
in his enterprises against James (December 27, 1591). That
he was suspected of a part in this treasonable conspiracy is

On December 31, 1591, Hudson wrote to Cecil that there were
fears of James's being surprised by the Earl of Moray,^^ " suspected
to be a favourer of Bothwell." His arrival at Donibristle, on the
northern side of the Queensferry, is said to have been caused by a
desire to be reconciled to Huntly by the good services of Ochiltree ;
and these services, again, may have been part of a plot by Maitland,
a member of the great band, to bring Moray within reach. James
would be told that Moray was a Bothwellian : to Huntly he was a
feudal foe, — Maitland wanted part of his spoil. The story about
Maitland and Ochiltree is the version of the author of ' The His-
torie of King James the Sext,' a work of 1582-97, probably in
part by John Colville, and is attested by Roger Aston, writing at
the moment. On the other hand, five weeks before Moray's slay-
ing, as we saw, Hudson had reported suspicions that he intended
with others to seize the person of James. Bothwell's attempt was
of December 27, the suspicions were expressed on December 31,
and it may have been supposed that Moray, had Bothwell suc-
ceeded, would have carried the king north to his remote earldom.


The story of the murder is best given in the words of Aston,
an English " intelligencer," writing to Bowes from Edinburgh on
February 8 : * words printed below.

It is usually said that when Moray's house was fired, his long
streaming locks caught fire, and led the murderers to his hiding-
place. Huntly, it is averred, gashed his brow with a dagger. " You
have spoiled a better face than your own," said the dying Earl, whose
beauty, the ballad avers, had won the favour of the queen. Accord-
ing to Calderwood, Ochiltree swore that he had brought Moray to
Donibristle, with the knowledge only of James, Huntly, and Mait-
land, for the purpose of a reconciliation. But Moray cannot have
been far off when, weeks earlier, he was suspected of a design to
capture James ; and he was even said to have been with Bothwell

* This long tyme past the yerle of Murre has sought to be reconciled with
Huntle and for that caues has employd sundry of his frendes to travel with the
King wich was nere all apoyntt be my L. Occoltryes means whoo both delt with
the King and the yerle Huntle, and for that caues the yerle Murre came to his
howes of Donnebrissel whithin ij myle of the quenes ferry Where the Lord Oc-
coltry was to have mett on mondaye the vii of this enstand and for that purpose
came to the ferry and wold have gone over, butt commanment was come thether
as they sayd frum the King, thatt no botes should pas. Where uppon the sed
lord retorned thinkeing there had bene sum enterpryes to have bene done be the
King thatt daye. The King was att hunting and Huntle gave it outt he was
going to the King and so came forthe acompened with xl horse of his servanttes.
Thatt morning Huntle tould the King he had a porpose of Mr Jhon Colvel
and some otheres thatt were withe the yerle Bodwel, and for that caues he was
to pas over the water. Yett the King fering the unconvenyenes tatt mought
ensew be reson of the yerle of Murrey being on the other syd, discharged him to
ryd, wich he promest to obe, butt sorttly after the King was gone furthe, he past
forwartt to the sed yerle of Murres howes, and being but two howses, and not
abel to be keptt, they thatt were wtliin came forthe sondry tymes, and descharged
there pestoles and slew sume of Honttlees men as Capten Gordon and dyvers
otheres. There uppon they toke the corne stakes and led to the howes so thatt
the extremety of the fier forced theme that was within to come forth. The yerle
him self, after he was so brent as he was not abel to howld a wepon in one of
his handes, came throw them al with his sord in his hand, and lyke a lyon forsed
them al to geve plase, and so gott thorow them all, and with sped of fott out ren,
but sowch was his fourteii, after he had esecaped them, lit in the handes of some
of the watchers, whoo sett uppon him, and thirst him to the water, wher he was
be them crewelly slen. The Serreff of Morre was slene and one othere of his
servantes, many hurt of both sides, the ould lady, his sesters, and cheldren, were
al sauet. This fackett is counted very odywos be al men, the King takes it very
hevily. What ponesment there wil be for it I know nott. Huntle is past nor-
wartt, the King and counsellors are at this hour setting uppon the matter, the
pepel cryes outt of the crewelty of the ded. We loke for nothing but mischef ''
— State Papers, Scot., Eliz., vol. xlviii. No 12, i.


in the attack of December 27. Perhaps the king knew nothing,
perhaps his attitude was that attributed to him in the ballad —

"Oh, wae worth ye, Huntley,
And wherefore did ye sae?
I bade you bring him to me,
But forbade you him to slay."

Taking all the evidence together, it would appear that the bonny
Earl had long been marked down for death by the Lochnell party in
Clan Diarmaid, by Huntly, and by Maitland. As Huntly is said to
have procured a commission against Moray, signed by Maitland and
Sir Robert Melville, that was probably extracted from James under
his terror of Moray as an ally of Bothwell. Of "the great band"
nothing was yet known, but it came to light after the conspiracy
had been nearly fatal to Argyll, and serious consequences followed.
On the day after Moray's death a decree of Council deprived Huntly
of all his commissions of lieutenancy.^ James summoned an army
to meet at Perth on March 10 and pursue the Earl, but he
offered to "underlie trial," and entered himself a prisoner at Black-
ness.^^ He was allowed to slip away, as usual, in spite of the
tumults of the populace and the indignation of the preachers.
They wished, as successors of the apostles, to excommunicate
the slayer of the bonny Earl ; but James " grudged that the be-
setters of the abbey," Bothwell and the others, escaped the
censure of the Kirk. He seems to have forgotten that Bothwell
was, or feigned to be, a Protestant and had only attacked a king.^*
The preachers were very slow to censure any offender against their
sovereign. Whoever was guilty as to Moray, Maitland was the
sufferer. "The queen and others that favoured Bothwell" caused
him to be removed from power, and he retired to Lethington
(March 30, 1592).

Mar and the new Earl of Morton (not Maxwell, but William
Douglas of Lochleven) succeeded to office. Bothwell made in-
terest with " his loving brethren the ministers and elders of Edin-
burgh." He gave " their godly wisdoms " a curious account of
his own recent proceedings. As to his dealing with Spain against
our Zion, the facts were these : In the Parliament after Mary's
death Maitland induced Bothwell and the other nobles to swear
to avenge the queen. Spanish agents took the occasion to in-
sinuate themselves in the favour of Bothwell and the other patriots.


Maitland took the same course till he saw that Huntly, not he,
was to have the handhng of the Spanish gold (which Bruce kept
out of Huntly's clutches), and so Maitland turned good Protest-
ant and friend to England. This is all very probable, considering
the morals of the statesmen concerned. Next, as to Bothwell's
conspiring against James with witches, the evidence is that of
"poor beggars." Maitland would have had James proceed sum-
marily against Bothwell, just as he and his " friends " (that is,
Lethington) would long ago have had the Regent Murray take
off Queen Mary (after her capture at Carberry Hill in June
1567). Bothwell thus repeats what Randolph frankly told Lething-
ton, that he " had advised to take presently the life from her," Mary
having, as she said, evidence that would hang Lethington.
Bothwell then accused Maitland, himself a partaker in Darnley's
murder, with having helped Sir James Balfour, who supplied the
powder, to draw out the indictment against Morton. All this
was true enough. Bothwell, taking the old line of the noblesse,
averred that Maitland was worse than Cochran, hanged at the
bridge of Lauder, under James IIL Maitland is "the puddock-
stool [fungus] of a night," Bothwell is "an ancient cedar." The
apology breaks off here, but it enables us to understand the
feelings of the nobles generally towards a counsellor who, though
of family more ancient than Bothwell's own, was not of high

Maitland must have seen that, with a past like his, and with
the nobles against him, he must seek the support of the Kirk,
James, too, was exceedingly unpopular, both with the preachers
and the populace, for the matter of Moray's death, and he went
in daily fear of Bothwell. Adamson he had already thrown to
the wolves : now he cast to them the whole fabric of Episcopacy.

The Parliament of April-June 1592 was intended to forfeit
Bothwell. But it secured, as James Melville says, " the Ratifica-
tion of the Liberty of the Trew Kirk," and the abrogation of the
Black Acts of 1584. Melville attributes James's concessions to fear
of Bothwell, of popular hatred stimulated by ballads on the bonny
Earl Moray, and of "public threatening of God's judgments there-
upon from pulpits." ^^ " The charter of the liberties of the Church"
was passed ; and the Kirk flourished with all her powers of jurisdic-
tion, discipline, inquisition, and excommunication. If these powers
were exercised in their full sense, and as the extreme Protestants had


always desired to use them, persecution must ensue. The laws
against Catholics, involving imprisonment, confiscation, exile, and,
in the last resort, death, would be enforced. The nobles had
hitherto always restrained the desire of the extreme party to ex-
tirpate idolaters, and at this hour some thirteen of the great nobles
were Catholics, while other men of their rank stood by their order.
Thus what the preachers were likely to demand was what the king
dared not, and did not desire to grant.

The settlement of June 1592 is regarded by Dr M'Crie, the
learned biographer of Andrew Melville, as " not without its defects."
Nearly all that the Second Book of Discipline had demanded was
granted. But the General Assembly was not permitted to choose
the time and place of its own meetings, which would seem to
imply that it could not hold special meetings whenever it seemed
opportune to exercise political pressure. " The liberties of the
people were fettered by the contmuance of lay patronage."

The ideal of the Kirk was that ministers should be selected " by
the judgment of the elders, and consent of the congregation," in
each instance. No minister was to be " intrused " on a congre-
gation without "lawful election, and the consent of the people." °^
Sometimes, it seems, "the votes of the congregation at large"
elected the minister, or they chose electors, or they referred the
matter to the presbytery. Once duly elected, by popular choice
or consent, the minister appears (at least according to many opinions,
of which some are cited) to have been regarded as a supreme judge,
and successor to the privileges of the apostles. Nominally, this
applied only to matters spiritual, but these in practice included
politics. These must be conducted according to " the Word of
God," and the preachers were the inspired interpreters of the Word
of God. On this point we must keep insisting. Democratic elec-
tion, by congregations, supplied a theocratic Government, iniperium
in imperio ; and this was the real cause of the coming civil wars
and persecutions. James and his son chose to resist the encroach-
ments on the power of the State by " intruding " Episcopacy on
a recalcitrant people, which fought and suffered for "liberty of
conscience." The strife only ended by the gradual resigning of
claims to inspired interference — a resignation caused in part by
the drastic measures of Claverhouse and Lauderdale, in part by
the general decadence of the old original spirit of the Calvinistic


The Parliament that set up Presbyterianism forfeited Bothwell,*
who riposted with an attempt to capture James at Falkland (June
27). A warning was posted on the palace gate : the wife of Halkett
of Pitfirrane and the wife of the Master of Gray were accused. The
Master himself (July 14) calmly informed Cecil that not only he and
Bothwell but the whole body of the nobility " were united for the
maintenance of God's cause, the reformation of Church matters, the
preservation of their king's honour, and such settled dealings with
England that their country may not be made the footstool of
foreigners." ^° Both the Master and Bothwell were welcomed in
England, and Bruce, the preacher, declared to James that the claim
of the Bothwell raiders was to secure justice for the death of Moray.
He requested James " to humble himself upon his knees." The
king was so far from humbling himself upon his knees that "he
stood to his own purgation," " The raiders," he said, " pretended
no such matter as to seek justice for the last murder." A young
woman, the daughter of a saddler in Aberdeen, was also moved to
come and admonish James. She handed to him a paper : " after
he had read a little of it he fell a laughing that he could scarce
stand on his feet." ^'^

While James was fleeing up and down the country before Both-
well, a mobile foe, a pretty romantic event occurred. The young
laird of Logie, in one version, had brought Bothwell quietly into
Dalkeith Castle, where James lay. Logie was arrested and handed
over to the Guard. But Logie was on affectionate terms with
Margaret Vinstar, a maid of honour of the queen. She therefore
went to the captain of the Guard when James was asleep, and said
that the king wished to see Logie. The soldiers brought him to
James's chamber door, he entered with his lady-love, the guardsmen
remained outside, and Margaret let Logie out of the King's window.
The fancy of the novelist could not invent a neater escape. The
queen stood up for the maid of honour, James probably laughed —
at all events he pardoned Logie, who married his Margaret. *^^

While anarchy prevailed, while AthoU and Mackintosh ravaged
Huntly's lands, while the Master of Gray came back into James's

* In the list of his supporters are the names of all the other Bothwell's
"Lambs." We find Ormistons, Hepbiirns, Douglases (illegitimate scions of the
Regent Morton 'and others), Pringles, Leirmonths, and Ninian Chirnside. the
dealer with the wizard, later noted as a friend of Logan of Reslairig (Act. Pari.
Scot., iii. 528).


favour, while the guerilla, Bothwell, subsidised by Spain, was har-
boured in Edinburgh, and flashed like a meteor through Scotland,
Mr Walter Row, a famous preacher, showed the real mark at which
he and his brethren shot. "Upon the Lord's day, the 19th
November, Mr Walter Row, in his sermon, said that the king
might be excommunicated, in case of contumacy, and disobedience
to the will of God."^^ Now the preachers were the expositors of
the "will of God," and it follows that whenever they disapproved
of the king's proceedings they could practically proclaim him an

Thus threatened and put at on every side (for the Catholic nobles
were entering into intrigues with Spain), James took the desperate
step of calling Arran to Court. Arran he was no longer — the real
bearer of the title, Queen Mary's old wooer, was still alive, a maniac.
But the name of Arran may still mark the intrepid Stewart, of the
Ochiltree House, who dragged down Morton, and fell after the
success of the Raid of Stirling. The godly remonstrated with James ;
James replied that Bruce, the preacher, had harboured Bothwell,
a prodigal of whom the Kirk was tender. So preacher and king
were brawling, as they were at all seasons. Next Sunday the Edin-
burgh pulpits were thumped to the tune of Arran's misdeeds, though
two of the ministers, by James's desire, also inveighed against Both-
well. Arran met some of the preachers, but he could not move
them, and he " came not to Court again." James was aware of
a danger which he failed to parry. He bade Lady Gowrie, widow
of the leader of the Raid of Ruthven, leave her house in Holyrood
(August 1592). She returned to that nest of conspiracy, and suc-
ceeded in trapping the king.*^'*

The attempt at Arran's restoration proves the desperate estate of
James. The reader must naturally have wondered how Elizabeth
was behaving towards a kinsman so begirdled by perils, and so
destitute of comfort. She had Bowes as her representative at Holy-
rood, — Bowes, the constant ally of the enemies of the king. He
wrote again and again to ask what part he ought to take as regarded
Bothwell. His questions were unanswered. Bothwell was enter-
tained on the English Marches by Musgrave, the captain of Bew-
castle. Elizabeth held him as a card to be played at the fitting
moment, just as she had held Murray, Morton, Angus, and the
other foes of Mary and of James. Meanwhile the Northern and
Catholic party in Scotland — Huntly, Errol, and Angus — knew what


was to be expected from the restored Kirk. James had taken
nothing by his surrender to the preachers ; they still threatened, still
insulted, and, if they did not openly back Bothwell, they regarded
him as " a sanctified plague" for James's behoof, and they did nothing
in the way of excommunicating a noble who addressed "their godly
wisdoms " in terms so flattering. They had lost " the ministers'
king," the pious Angus, cut off by witchcraft. His successor in the
earldom, the Angus of 1592, was a Catholic. He was implicated in
the great Catholic conspiracy, which now, being detected, filled
Scotland with rage and horror, the affair of the Spanish Blanks.
After the execution of Queen Mary, the Catholic Powers, especi-
ally Spain and the Pope, found, as we have seen, that the English
and Scottish Catholics were divided in policy. Cardinal Allen
and Father Parsons, with other English managers, were in favour
of a Spanish invasion of England (hence the Armada), while Father
Creighton and other Scots held that

" He who would England win
Must with Scotland first begin,"

and credulously believed that James would be converted. On the
failure of the Armada the neglected Scottish Catholics, as we have
seen, began to ask Philip to come their way (February 1589). We
have described the capture of Pringle with letters to Spain from
Huntly, Morton (Maxwell), and Lord Claude, and the scene when
these letters were read aloud before their authors. The affair of
Brig o' Dee followed, but the conspiracy smouldered on, and it is
probable that James knew of and tampered with it. In the early
part of 1592 it was known to the English Government (probably
through Pourie himself) that Ogilvie, the younger of Pourie, was
to be sent on this business to Spain. Pourie, of whom more here-
after, went not; but on December 27 one of the Border Kers,
George, brother of Mark, Lord Newbottle, was seized in the
Cumbrae Isles by the Paisley minister, Andrew Knox, an energetic
man, backed by students of Glasgow University. Ker was trying
to carry to Spain letters from Huntly, Angus, Errol, Fintry (an
honest Catholic, then in prison, and a friend of Queen Mary), and
others of the party. There were also " blanks," unwritten sheets of
paper, signed by the chief plotters, and to be filled up by Father
Creighton. He was to insert above the signatures the terms of a
treaty which he was to arrange with Philip for an invasion by the


Spanish. Letters from Father Gordon (Huntly's uncle) to Father
Creighton, and a number of letters to exiles, were also seized.

Angus, on this discovery, was put in ward, but James was mainly
moved by the English patronage of Bothwell and the non-arrival of
his English pension. Ker was tortured in the boot; he confessed
that a Spanish descent on Scotland was desired. Later he was
allowed to escape.^^ The private letters in the packet reveal the
condition of the country. " Universally, in all shires, many deadly
feuds, with great and most odious slaughter, without punishment,
reif and oppression through all the country. God wait [?] if the
Highlanders lie idle. The Macfarlanes are worse than the Clan
Gregor. Alas ! the great hership [plundering] of the poor, by
these, in all parts where there are any goods." It was easy for
the preachers to blame the king as regards these excesses ; but
James was destitute : police he had none, magistrates were parties
to the crimes ; the royal Guard was imbecile, and it was found
impossible to keep Bothwell out of the precincts of the royal
residences. The country was practically in collusion with the
marauder, who was distinctly patronised, or at least all uncen-
sured, by the preachers.

On the discovery of the Blanks James was summoned to Edin-
burgh early in January 1593. There were suspicions that he would
favour the conspirators of the Blanks, who were not much less loyal
to him than the other factions among his people. To be sure, they
proposed to capture him and hold him at the disposal of Philip, to
deal with him as his majesty orders.'''' A deputation was sent to the
king : it included Andrew Ker of Faldonside, with Bruce, Andrew
Melville, and other preachers. James rebuked them for having held
a convention without his knowledge, but promised to try the con-
spirators. James Melville (January 14) preached against the king's
grandfather and mother. At last, January 15, it was agreed that
James should be allowed to have a guard of 200 men. To keep
him without a guard of any force was the usual economy, as every
one knew that his own party might at any moment wish to invade
the royal person. James (January 19) mingled his grievance against
England for fostering Bothwell with promises of severe measures
against the Catholics. He himself would march against Huntly.^^
While the host was summoned to proceed against Huntly on
February 25, while Fintry (who lay in prison) was ordered to
execution, refusing to save himself by turning Protestant, *"=* Eliz-


abeth was sending Lord Burgh as an envoy to James. On February
13 Angus escaped, probably by collusion, from Edinburgh Castle.

Online LibraryAndrew LangA history of Scotland from the Roman occupation (Volume 2) → online text (page 38 of 60)