William Fraser.

The earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 1) online

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own safety ; and knowing he had a great many enemies about the Prince, and
that some others were in a fair way of being likewise brought into his favour,
and that amongst the last of these none stood fairer than the Marquis of
Athole, he made it his business to gain him to be his friend, and having
got Sir John Dalrymple to act in concert with him, they managed
the business so dexterously, that they became his sole counsellors and
advisers ; and whatever was done in Council was attributed to the Marquis,
who had the vanity to be pleased with the name of it, whereas the whole
nation knew that these two were the springs of all his actions, while if he
succeeded, they were sure of a reward, and if not, the whole odium of failure
would fall upon him.


Tlie first thing tliey advised was to get rid of the Cliancellor, Lord Perth.
This proposal was most agreeable to the Marquis, both on account of a family
pique, and because it would enable him to get the Government into his own
hands, which fell to him, as being the next Officer of State. In order to this,
they proposed the disbanding of the forces, for they knew that they would
stand by the Chancellor ; and although they were not much worth, yet some
of the Earl of Dumbarton's inferior officers, who had come down for recruits,
had put them in tolerable order, and they were better than any that could be
brought against them. So this being agreed to, Lord Tarbat, in open Council,
proposed the disbanding of them, as an unnecessary charge upon the Govern-
ment, since he believed there would be no more to do with soldiers, and the
Prince of Orange had stated in his declaration the illegality of keeping up
forces in time of peace.

The Earl of Perth, who was willing to do anything to please them, not
seeing through their designs, and seeing some whom he took to be his real
friends earnestly urging it, agreed to it ; and the next day they were all
dismissed, except some companies of foot, and two troops of horse for bringing
in the public money.

So soon as they had got them dismissed, the Marquis of Athole and the
rest of the Councillors that were of his party came to the Chancellor's
lodging and told him that they thought themselves no longer in safety to
meet in Council with him and several others incapacitated by law, but if he
and they would retire, it would be seen how vigorously they would act in the
King's service, and get all the rabble pacified and the discontented meetings
dismissed ; but before he gave them any positive answer, he retired into
another room, where the Duke of Gordon and all the other Eoman Catholic
councillors were met upon the noise of this advice of the Marquis of Athole ;
and liaving told them all that had passed, they unanimously advised him to


be gone, and that it would look better to do it voluntarily than to be com-
pelled, as certainly he would be. So he returned to the Marquis and the
other Lords that were with him, took leave of them^ and retired into the

But the discontented party, who were now headed among the citizens
by George Stirling, an apothecary, and one William Menzies, made
another handle of it, for the forces were no sooner disbanded than they
caused beat drums through the city, and when the inhabitants came running
to know what the matter was, they had their friends and emissaries
posted in all quarters of the city to tell them that all the townsmen that
were Protestants should immediately gather together for their own defence,
for they were certainly informed that a great number of Papists were in
the town and designed to burn it that night. This made such an alarm
through all the town that few stayed in their houses ; and when they had
once got thus together, and saw no appearance of anything, several were for
returning home again ; but the agents of the party, who were dispersed
amongst them, told them that it were a pity that so many honest men should
meet together without doing something worthy of themselves, and that they
could not do a more acceptable work to God than to pull down that idolatrous
chapel in the Abbey. It was no sooner proposed, than, as it ordinarily hap-
pens in mobs, who never reflect either upon the reasonableness of the pro-
posals made to them or on the shamefulness of their actings, they all cried
out, " Approves, approves," and marched straight down to the Abbey, accom-
panied with great numbers of boys, who are commonly fond of such occasions.
Captain John Wallace, who had been put in by the Council with a guard of
six score of men, in case of any attempt of this nature upon his Majesty's
palace, was no sooner informed of their design than he sent a sergeant to them
to desire them not to come near, otherwise he would be obliged to do his


duty. But notwithstandiug this, they were animated more with blind zeal
than courage. They marched on, and Captain Wallace, finding that they
resolved to insult him, ordered his men to fire upon them, and about a
dozen of them were killed, and thrice as many wounded. After this they
ran through the town like distracted people, spreading everywhere, as they
came, that Captain Wallace had massacred all the boys, and there was no
family of any consideration in the city but were said to have had their
chOdren killed. Upon this all the inhabitants armed, and nothing was talked
of amongst them but of the Papists' joining of Wallace to make an universal
massacre. But as they were going down again to the Abbey, one of them
suwo-ested that what thev were going about might some time or other be chal-
lenged, and therefore he was of opinion that a warrant should be had from
the Council, and the magistrates required to assist them ; and one of the then
councillors gives the following account of their proceedings : —

" The advice," says he, " was thought very reasonable, and deputies were sent
to the Marquis of Athole, who immediately sent for the Earl of Breadalbane, the
Viscount of Tarbat, and Sir John Dalrymple, These four signed a warrant to the
Magistrates of Edinburgh that they should go down in their robes, and, with the
help of their trained bands, militia regiment, and town company, should assist the
rabble against Captain Wallace, and force him to deliver up the house ; and like-
wise that they should carry down the King's heralds, and trumpeters in their coats,
to summon Captain Wallace in the King's name to give up the house.

" The Provost of Edinburgh, a timorous poor man, though very honest, obeyed
their order, and went down so soon as their affairs could be in readiness. First
marched the town company, commanded by Captain Graham, who, a day before
this was turned out of his employment, but, on his offer of service on that occa-
sion, he was restored ; next, the discontented gentlemen. The chief of these
were Sir James Montgomerie of Skelmorlie, the Laird of Houstoun, the Laird of
Greenock, the Laird of Mochrum, Mr. William Lockhart, the Laird of Riccarton
Drummond, William Drummond, clerk to the artillery; Lord Mersington, the
fanatic judge, with a halbert in his hand, as drunk as ale or brandy could make him ;

1714.] MOB A TTA CK ON 110 L YROOD ABBE 7, 1 G 8 8. cxxi

next, the Provost and Magistrates, with a mob of two or three thousand men.
When they came within distance of shot, the trumpeters and heralds were sent
before to command him to surrender. Captain Wallace told them he was put in
by the Council, and would never deliver it up without the King's or Council's com-
mand. The order was then produced, but not signed by a quorum of the Council,
so he absolutely refused to obey, at which they began to fire straggling shots at one
another, which made all the magistrates draw down to stairs and lairs, and left
Captain Graham, the trained bands, and his company, with the rabble, to dispute the
matter. Captain Wallace had been certainly able to defend the house if he had
keept his men within the court and fired out at the windows, but he left the
house and posted himself in the outer court, which, when Captain Graham per-
ceived, he marched out at the town-post with his company, and came in by the
back court, and so got behind him, which, when Captain Wallace heard, he slipped
aside, Avithout telling his officers or soldiers, and left them to shift for themselves.
When they knew he was gone, they laid down their arms and begged quarters.
The gentlemen and rabble, when they saw all hazard over, ran in upon them,
killed some, and made the rest prisoners, and sent them to prison, where severals
of them died for want and of their wounds. Then all the rabble rushed into the
house, pulled down everything they could find in the private chapel and in the
Abbey, which was furnished only some days before. Next they fell upon the
house where the Jesuits lived, and almost pulled it down. Then they broke into
the Earl of Perth's cellars, and made themselves as drunk with wine as they were
before with zeal. For two or three days thereafter they rambled up and down
the town, searched and plundered what Roman Catholic houses they could find,
which were very few, except some Catholic ladies, whom they used villainously ;
nor did the Council anything to hinder their disorders."^

And these were tlie consequences that followed upon this signed warrant
for which Lord Tarbat and his colleagues were so much blamed ; and, indeed,
no apology can be offered for them, but that they were under such terrible

^ Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh's MS. other books belonging to Father Hay himself,

of a Baronage of Scotland, which he had under- But copies of the MS. being in other hands,

taken, being in the hands of Father Hay, a escaped. — [Dr. Mackenzie's History of the

canon regular of St. Genevieve, fell into the Mackenzies, MS. Preface. 1
hands of this mob and was burnt, with several


apprehensioiis of being mobbed themselves, that they durst refuse nothing
they desired, and which was entirely owing to the disbanding of the forces.

Not long after this Lord Tarbat went to London, where he had several
meetings with the noblemen and gentlemen that flocked up at that time in
great numbers ; but so strong and general was the feeling of aversion to-
wards him and several of his party among those in the Prince's interest, that,
at one of their grand meetings ]\Ienheer Bentinck was deputed to the Prince
to desire him to incapacitate for ever from all public employment the Earl
of Balcarras, the Viscount of Dundee, Lord Tarbat, Sir George Mackenzie,
and the Duke of Queensberry. The Prince, however, refused to do it, being
resolved to put nobody into despair till he knew how they intended to behave
for his interest.

In the beginning of January 1689, the Prince called a meeting of the
Scottish nobility and gentry in London, to have their advice how to secure
their religion and liberties. They proposed the calling of a convention of
the three Estates of Parliament, to meet at Edinburgh on the 14th of
March, and the Prince of Orange to take the administration of the Govern-
ment upon him in the meantime.

In the Convention, King James's friends, finding themselves outvoted in
all that they designed for his service, for the most part left the Convention,
At length a proposal was made that the throne should be declared vacant, and
the Prince of Orange proclaimed King. To put a stop to this. Lord Tarbat set
a project on foot of having first a union declared between the two Kingdoms,
and sent to all the King's friends to persuade them to return to the Conven-
tion. King James being then in Ireland, there could be nothing so much
for his interest as the gaining of time, and if this proposal did not go
on, the Government would be presently settled ; whereas if it went on,
several months would be spent, and the King's affairs be better adjusted.


Lord Stair went likewise into this project of a union, for he thought nothing
could be more serviceable to the interest of the Prince of Orange than such a
union. But the Jacobites trusted neither of them. The Duke of Hamilton
opposed it with all his power ; and the Presbyterians, who were afraid of their
church by a union with England, struck in with the Duke of Hamilton's party.
The project was dropped, having never come to a public hearing. Tliey voted
that the King had forfeited the Crown, and the Prince of Orange and Prin-
cess Mary were proclaimed King and Queen.

About this time there was one Mr. Brodie, who was sent over from Ireland
by King James with letters to his friends, wherein he ordered them to be
quiet till he should send further orders, and till 500 foot and 300 horse,
which he had in readiness, should be landed. Mr. Brodie had told all his
business to one Mr. Thomson, who came over w4th him from Ireland, on
purpose to betray him. Upon their landing, Mr. Thomson informed the
Duke of Hamilton of it, upon which ]\Ir. Brodie was seized and searched, but
they found nothing upon him, all his letters being hid in a false bottom of
his valise. Being timorous, Brodie, when threatened, told all that he knew ;
but the letters not being directed, they only conjectured by the contents to
whom they were designed, and orders were issued for apprehending several
suspected persons. Lord Tarbat was arrested in his lodgings in the Parlia-
ment Close ; and seeing that they designed to ruin him for ever with King
William, he made his escape in the night-time, posted to London, and before
any information came up against him, he had gained that Prince's favour to
such a degree that he trusted more to him than to any of them.

But the Jacobites had the same fate in the first Parliament, which was
called by King William on 15th April 1G90, that they had in the Convention
of States, for they were outvoted in everything they designed, and deserted
by many of the Club Party, so that some of them left Parliament, and those


that stayed were of no manner of use. For several days there was no
mention of Presbytery by either party : although it was the general inclination
of the whole, yet both were afraid to mention it. Sir James Montgomerie,
however, in ,a set speech, declared what they generally wished, wherein
he told them that he knew there were instructions for settling religion, and
that he thought it was a shame to that meeting that it was not yet done.
He said that some were for one kind of Government and some for another ;
some were for a sort of Presbytery called Erastianism, like that of Holland.
But he told them there ought not to be, and could not be, any in Scotland but
Presbytery as it was established in 1648, which was not only according to
the Word of God, but best fitted to curb the extravagant power of kings
and arbitrary government, under which they had groaned for so many years.
The Jacobites were extremely surprised to hear him make this speech, but
he excused himself to them by telling them that there was no better way
of keeping the party, and that it would signify nothing, since he knew that
Lord Melville never durst pass it, though it came to be approved. So a
committee was appointed to receive all the forms of government that should
be brought before them, and to report their opinion of them ; and till this
was ready, the Parliament adjourned for some days.

When the Parliament met again, Sir James's proposal of settling of Pres-
bytery, upon the footing of 1648, was approved, and Lord Tarbat was ordered
to draw up the Act, which he did with a very rigorous narrative, so that
he was spoken of as being one of the worst of men — always professing him-
self to be an enemy to Presbytery, and yet establishing it upon the most
rigorous conditions that could be imagined. But the narrative was so violent
that neither party reflected upon his omitting that, upon excommunication,
the former power of the Church as to the escheats of the excommunicated per-
sons was excluded. For, in the former times of Presbytery, when persons


were excommunicated, which often happened, their escheats fell, which made
the nobility and gentry perfect slaves to them ; and since Presbytery was to
be established, he could not have done the country a better piece of service,
and he patiently suffered himself to be abused by both parties till the Act
was touched by the sceptre ; and then he told them, that since they would
needs have Presbytery, he could not help it, but that he had taken the sting
out of it. For although in this Act, which passed upon the 7th of June 1690,
there is an order for punishing of contumacious ministers who did not submit,
yet there was none against any others. He likewise outreached them in the
Act for abolishing the King's supremacy in ecclesiastical matters, for they
were very well pleased with the narrative ; but when they came to consider
it, they found that only the Act which was made in 1669 was rescinded,
while all the other Acts that asserted the supremacy to a degree entirely
inconsistent with the prerogatives of their kirk were kept in force and

During these transactions in Parliament in the settling of Presbytery, Lord
Tarbat was secretly negotiating with the Highland Chieftains to submit to
the Government, and the small assistance that King James had sent them from
Ireland, notwithstanding of Melfort's great promises to the contrary, made
most of them some time before this very willing to hearken to capitulation,
till old Sir Evven Cameron of Lochiel, who had great influence with the most
of them, told them that in King Charles the Second's time he had been reduced
to far greater straits than ever they had been, and that he would never
capitulate till he got the King, his master, and the General's orders for doing
it, and that for his own part he was resolved never to capitulate or hearken
to any conditions without the King's warrant, and that it would be a scandal
to them to think of capitulating as long as the King was in Ireland at the
head of an army, and had so many friends in Great Britain that were


willino- to join them upon the least success that his Majesty should obtain
over his enemies — in which case they would also certainly be reinforced
with further supplies, either from Ireland or France. Upon this they resolved,
that until the season of the year was a little farther advanced, and the seed
thrown into the ground, they should defer their general rendezvous in the
fields, that their friends in the Low Countries might have the opportunity of
joining them, and that in the interim Major-General Buchan should have a
detachment of twelve hundred foot to go down to the borders of the Low
Country to amuse the enemy, and to fatigue their troops by alarming them
in several of their quarters.

This put the Lord Tarbat into great perplexities, for he had promised to
Kiag William to bring in the Highland Chieftains, and the King himself
was very desirous to have it done before he embarked for Ireland. The Earl
of Breadalbane was applied to for his assistance. He was told that if he
could prevail with the chieftains to submit to the Government, they
should have as much money as woidd defray the damages they had sustained
by the war, and his Lordship, for his trouble in bringing them to it, should
have £5000 sterling. But Lord Breadalbane would not engage to do any-
thing in it without advising with King James's friends, and finding them
generally averse to it, he most generously rejected the offer; and Lord
Balcarras says, that besides the £5000, he had other considerable rewards prof-
fered to him. But not long after this. General Buchan being surprised and
defeated by Sir Thomas Livingston at Cromdale, the Jacobites began to repent
of having rejected the offer of Lord Tarbat's negotiation, and they prevailed
with Breadalbane to bring on the treaty again, that they might gain at least
so much time as to put the Highlanders in a posture of defence, which he
did, and went straight to London to obtain King William's consent to it ; but
that Prince was gone before his arrival, having embarked for Ireland upon


the nth of June, and landed at Canickfergus upon the 14th. And upon the
1st of July the battle of the Boyne was fought, where, the Irish havmg de-
serted King James, King William gained an easy victory, and the Highland
chieftains received an order from King James to make the best terms they
could. Lord Tarbat being willing to have something done before King
William returned, the terms betwixt them were soon agreed to, including
King William's indemnity. A proclamation was published by King William,
inviting all the Highlanders who were in King James's interest to come
in and lay down their arms before the 1st of January 1693, and they
should have his Majesty's pardon; but what money was distributed amongst
them, and how much came to each of their shares, remains as yet a secret
in history. However, the chieftains of the clans gained a great deal of
honour by it, since so great a hero as King William was willing to buy
his peace with them. Lord Tarbat, upon his return to Court, so well
satisfied King William with all his proceedings, that in the year 1692 he
was again restored to his old place of Lord Clerk-Eegister, and continued
in that Prince's favour till his death.^

^ History of the Mackenzies, MS., by Dr. George Mackenzie.





"EORGE Lord Melville was made Secretary of State for Scotland in
1689, and held office till 1690, when the Master of Stair was appointed.
Between Lord Melville and Lord Tarbat there was frequent correspondence
while the former was secretary. The original letters of Lord Tarbat are
at Melville House. They are printed in the volume of Leven and Melville
Papers, which was presented by the late Honourable William Leslie Mel-
ville to the Bannatyne Club in the year 1843. Several of these letters are
very important, and bear upon the position of Lord Tarbat at the time of the
Eevolution, so that some notice of them in this memoir seems very appropri-
ate on that account, as well as on account of the relationship between the
families of Melville and Tarbat.

In the Leven and Melville Papers, and in Sir Walter Scott's Tales of a
Grandfather, a graphic account is given of the escape of Lord Melville to
Holland, on a hint given by his cousin. Lord Tarbat : —

" The year after [1680], when the Duke of York had got the ascendency over
the King, and the Duke of Monmouth became popular, all those who were sup-
posed to be enemies to the Duke of York's measures had reason to be appre-
hensive. That year Lord Melville sent over his gentleman, Duncan Macartar,
from Fife to Edinburgh about some private business. This Macartar was a man
of a pretty good family in the North, an old faithful servant of Lord Melville.
Coming up the Canongate, he saw a great many of the chief people going to the
Abbey, where they met, and had conversed with several people, who confirmed
liim in believing that something extraordinary was going on. At last he met with
Tjord Cromarty, the Lord Justice-General, who was always an intimate friend of

1714.] ESCAPE OF LORD MELVILLE, 1680. cxxix

Lord Melville's, though of different principles. Lord Cromarty says to him, ' You
Highland dog' (a name he Avas in use of giving him), ' how does my Lord ] What
brought you here ] ' Says Duncan, ' He is very well ; he has sent me over about
some private business.' Says my Lord, ' You had better go home again directly.'
' No, faith,' says Duncan ; ' not till my business is done.' ' I say,' says my Lord,
' you Highland dog, go home as fast as you can,' and so left him. Duncan began
to think that my Lord had some meaning in his being so earnest for his returning
to his Lord, and accordingly went instantly back to Leitli. When he came there
he found all the boats pressed, and Lord Balcarras's troop of dragoons ready to
embark for Fife. He knew the cornet, and made all possible inquiry where they
were going, but he told him they knew nothing of their rout, and nobody knew
but the commanding officer. He hired a yawl for Kinghorn, and by three o'clock