William Fraser.

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

. (page 19 of 53)
Online LibraryWilliam FraserThe earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 53)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

nmch of it may be, or is noAV, in print ; but being long or it was, [it] is to
print as ane avrojpacpov, and hath more by much than is printed, and many authors
not mentioned in the print.

To the Eoyal College of Physitians this volumn, and several other volumns, is
affectionately and humbly offered, on the nynteen of June, Anno Christi 1707,
by Geo. Cromertie.^

It is probable that Dr. Politius was one of the missionaries sent abroad
by the Eosicrucians of Germany to propagate their tenets, among the chief
of which was the search for the Philosopher's Stone.

Lord Cromartie was one of the original Fellows of the Eoyal Society,
and was considered one of the ablest members of that learned body. In the
present collection several letters are printed from Professor James Gregorie,
the inventor of the reflecting telescope, on scientific subjects.^ There is also
a letter from Henry Oldenburg, Secretary of the Eoyal Society, conveying
to his Lordship their tlianks for his contributions to their Pliilosophical
Magazine, and requesting a continuance of them.^

Lord Cromartie complied with this request, and the Philosophical Trans-
actions show that the following papers were contributed by that " ingenious

^ Original in the Library of the Royal College of Physicians, Edinburgh.
2 Letter, vol. i. pp. 20, 23. 3 n^i^. p. 22.


knight," as he was styled in the early Transactions of the Society, before his
creation as a Peer : —

Remarks on the Transactions of April 1675.-^

Account of an obelisk thrown down, and woods torn up from the root, by a
violent Avind ; of an extraordinary lake in Stratherrick, which only freezes before
February, when in one night it is frozen all over ; of Lake Ness, which never
freezes ; and of a petrifying rivulet in Glenelg, which turns holly into a greenish
stone, which serves for a mould for casting balls, etc.^

Observations on Natural History made in Scotland,^ dated from Tarbat,
July 9, 1675.

Account of the Mosses in Scotland, in a letter to Dr. Hans Sloane, Secretary
of the Royal Society, November 15, 1710.^

Bishop Mcolson mentions a copy of the continuation of Fordun's Scoti-
chronicon in the handwriting of Lord Cromartie, whom he calls a judicious
preserver of the antiquities of his country.^

Lord Cromartie was also author of the following literary works, copies of
many of which are in the Library of the Faculty of Advocates, Edinburgh.
They are here arranged nearly in their chronological order, viz. : —

1. A Memorial for His Highness the Prince of Orange in relation to the affairs
of Scotland, together with the address of the Presbyterian party in that Kingdom
to his Highness, and some observations on that address by two persons of quality.
[Anon.] 4to. London, 1689. Pp. 30.

2. A Vindication of King Robert the Third from the Imputation of Bastardy
by the clear proof of Elizabeth Mure (daughter of Sir Adam Mure of Rowallan),
her being the first lawful wife of Robert the Second, then Steward of Scotland
and Earl of Strathern, by George Viscount of Tarbat, etc., Clerk to His Majesty's
Councils, Registers, and Rolls. Edinburgh, 1695. 4to. Second edition j^rinted
in 1713.

1 Transactions, X. 305; abridged, ii. 104,321. In the letter to Dr. Sloane, Lord Cromartie

2 Ibid. X. 307 ; abridged, iii. 603. states that in the year 1651 he was then about

3 Ibid. X. 396 ; abridged, iii. 539. nineteen years old.

' Ibid, xxvii. 296 ; abridged, iv. 2, 253. '" Scottish Historical Library, p. 20.


3. The mistaken advantage of Raising Money discovered in a Letter to a
Friend. Edinburgh, 1695. 4to. Pp. 26.

4. Parainesis Pacifica ; or, a Perswasive to the Union of Britain. [Anon.]
4to. Edinburgh, 1702. Pp. 22, with General Preface, 4 pp.

5. A few Brief and Modest Reflections perswading a just Indulgence to be
granted to the Episcopal clergy and people in Scotland. [Anon.] 4to. 1703.
Pp. 7.

6. A continuation of a few Brief and Modest Reflexions perswading a just
Indulgence to be granted to the Episcopal clergy and people in Scotland. Toge-
ther with a postscript vindicating the Episcopal doctrine of passive obedience and
the Archbishop of Glasgow's Sermon concerning it. [Anon.] 4to. 1703. Pp.12.

7. The Speech of George Earl of Cromartie, Lord Secretary, to the Parliament
of Scotland, on Tuesday, July 11, 1704. Edinburgh, 1704. Fol. 3 pp.

This speech, and the speeches of the Lord Commissioner and Lord Chancellor,
followed upon the Queen's Letter to the Parliament. Lord Cromartie, in his
speech, praises the Queen that her time, her care, her pleasure, her leisure, her
treasure, yea, her very health and life, are sacrificed every day, and almost every
time of the day, to actual exercise of devotion to God or administration of govern-
ment to her people.

8. A Bundle of Positions, partly self-evident, partly problematick, raised from
occasional meditations. [Anon.] 8vo. London, 1705.

A second title-page is, " A Right Use of Reason against Atheists, Deists."
On the back of the first title-page is pasted the book-plate of " The Honourable
Archibald Campbell, Esq^, 1708." The book is lettered on the back "E. of
Cromerty's Essays." The other Essays are. On the Nature of a Church ; On the
Nature of Christian Societies called Churches; On the Light of Reason; The
Fountains of the Natural or Moral Law, It has not been ascertained if Lord
Cromartie was the author of all these Essays. On the fly-leaf the following note
is written : — " Given me in sheets by the Right Honble. The Earle Marischall of
Scotland, at London, June, 1 708. Ar^ Campbell."

9. A Letter from E. C. [Earl of Cromartie] to E. W. [The Earl of Wemyss]
concerning the Union [And] a second letter on the British Union. 4to. 1706.

10. A Letter, dated 4th December 1706, to a Member of Parliament, upon
the 19th Article of the Treaty of Union between the two Kingdoms of Scotland
and England. [Anon.] 4 to. 1708. Pp. 8.

11. Trialogues. A Conference betwixt Mr. Con., Mr. Pro., and Mr. Indif-
ferent, concerning the Union. [Anon.] To be continued weekly. 4to. 1706.
Pp. 15.

1 2. A Friendly Eeturn to a Letter concerning Sir George Mackenzie's and
Sir John Nisbet's Observation and Response on the Matter of Union. Dated
22d August 1706. And the other Letter, dated 26th August 1706. Pp. 29.
Also Letter third and Letter fourth. Pp.7. Edinburgh, 1706. 4to.

13. Synopsis Apocalyptica, or a short plain explanation and application of
Daniel's Prophecy, and of St. John's Revelation, in concert with, and conse-
quential to, it. Edinburgh, 1707. 4to. Pp. 50 and 72.

14. Vindication of the Reformation of the Church of Scotland, with some
account of the Records, with addition dated 16th January 1708. Printed from
the original MS. in the possession of the late Mr. Constable, bookseller, Edin-
burgh, in the Scots Magazine of August 1802, pp. 633-642.

15. Several proposals conducing to a farther Union of Britain, and pointing
at some advantages arising from it, and a Caveat against the Endeavours for
dissolving the Union of Britain ; by proposals for a security in a farther more
compleat Union. [Anon.] 4to. Lond. 1711. Pp.22.

1 6. Historical Account of the Conspiracies by the Earls of Gowry, and of
Robert Logan of Restalrig, against King James the Sixth. Edinburgh, 1713.

17. A Vindication of the Historical Account of the Conspiracies by the Earls
of Gowry from the mistakes of Mr. John Anderson, preacher at Dumbarton, in
his Defence of Presbytery. Edinburgh, 1714. 8vo. Pp.47.

18. An Account of Hirta and Rona, two Islands, Hirta being of all the
Isles of Scotland lying furthest out into the sea : Given to Sir Robert Sibbald, by
the Lord Register, Sir George M*=Kenzie of Tarbat : Reprinted in Miscellanea
Scotica, 1818. Vol. ii. p. 79.

The literary works of Lord Cromartie are now very rare. But copies of
them are found in several of the large libraries.

Dr. George Mackenzie mentions that he had by him two of Lord
Cromartie's Manuscripts, never printed. In the one. Lord Cromartie
endeavoured to prove the antiquity of the Scottish nation, and their early


settlement in Britain, from the antiquities of Ireland, which, Dr. Mackenzie
says, shows Lord Cromartie to have been a great master in Irish antiquities ;
though the labours of Bishop Usher prove, to any unbiassed reader, that
their antiquities, as well as those of other nations, are involved in fables and
inextricable difficulties. The other manuscript was a Geographical Descrip-
tion of the Kingdom of the Picts and the Ancient Pictish Pamilies.^

Of the harmony between the churches of England and Scotland, at the
Eeformation, Lord Cromartie, in the Vindication, No. 14, gives an instance
quoted from the Pecords of the Church of Scotland, which he describes. On
27th December 1565, the General Assembly allowed John Knox to go to
England to officiate for some time there as a minister of that church, and sent
with him a supplication to the Bishops of England to deal gently with such
of the clergy there as scrupled at some of the ceremonies.

Lord Cromartie was instrumental in preserving some of the Eecords of the
Church of Scotland. An Act of the General Assembly, dated 16th April
1707, nominates a committee to wait on the Earl of Cromartie, to receive by
his own free offer the Eegister of the General Assembly from 1560 to 1610.
An Act of the Commission, dated 21st and 22d January 1708, appoints the
^loderator and other members to wait on the Earl, and, in the Commission's
name, heartily to thank him for the " singular favour " he had done the
Church in giving up the Eegister of the General Assembly, beginning
31st December 1562, and ending 27th April 1593, etc. An Act of the
Assembly, dated 22d April 1708, in terms similar to the preceding, appoints
members to wait on the Earl with thanks for the donation of the foresaid
Eegister, and earnestly to entreat his Lordship to do what he coiJd to recover
the other volume or volumes of the Eegister which were once in his hands.^

^ History of the Mackenzies. MS., by Dr. - Extract Acts, vol. xii. Nos. ol-3.'J, of

George Mackenzie. Cromartie Papers, at Tarbat House.


Lord Cromartie dedicated to Lady Margaret Wemyss, Countess of North-
esk, liis step-daughter, his work entitled " Synopsis Apocalyptica," or a short
plain explication and application of Daniel's prophecy, and of St. John's
Eevelation in concert with it, and consequential to it, by G. E. of C. Edin-
burgh : printed by James Watson, in Craig's Closs, on the north side of the
Cross, MDCCViii. 4to., pp. 72. The dedication is as follows : — " Dedicated
to the Eight Honorable Lady Margaret Wemyss, Countess of Northesk and
Ethie, Baronness Eosehill and Lour, by your Ladyship's most obedient
servant, and most affectionate father, Cromarty." A copy of that w^ork is
in the library of Ethie House, belonging to the present Earl of Northesk,
and there are several corrections in the handwriting of the author.

Lady Northesk, in her correspondence with Lord Cromartie, eulogises his
book, and does honour to the motives which had prompted him, at his
advanced period of life, to withdraw himself from politics, and to give his
chief attention to more serious subjects. She expresses her satisfaction that
the Union does not take up his time so much but that he can find leisure
to study a better subject. During his visits to Ethie, Lord Cromartie inves-
tigated several matters of historical interest connected with the county of
Angus, especially in the district of Ethie and Arbroath ; and in allusion to his
inquiries, he is asked by Lady ISTorthesk, when promising her a visit at Ethie,
to bring his Cartulary of Arbroath with him. It is almost unnecessary to
remark that the same district, in another century, furnished many of the
scenes and incidents for Scott's inimitable novel of " The Antiquary."

Lord Cromartie's History of the Gowrie Conspiracy was published in the
year 1713, the year before he died. In June 1713, Lord Cromartie presented
a copy of this treatise to Queen Anne. His letter accompanying the presenta-
tion is printed in the second volume.^ He eulogises, in no ordinary terms,

1 Letter, vol. ii. pp. 13G-139.


King James the Sixth of Scothmd, and tlie First of Britain, who, he says,
crown'd in it, did crown it with more glory, peace, and riches, by far than
any ; yea (nor is it a great hyperbole to say), almost then all that former
kings had done. Lord Cromartie also alludes to the aspersions which were
cast upon King James, as if he had been the plotter in this tragic scene.
He says, that though they could not kill, they at least would defame ; but
he refers to the judicial processes, and the verdicts of juries composed of per-
sons of undoubted truth and honour, and many of whom were near relatives
of the Earl of Gowrie, as complete refutations of these aspersions. Still,
however, the rebels in the time of the first and second Charles reiterated
the charges against King James ; and, he adds, that in their music, or rather
alarums of their warlike trumpet, no tune was more frequent than the
roundelay of Gowrie's murder.

Lord Cromartie, in his letter to the Queen, next refers to the state of the
public records when he held the office of Lord Clerk-Eegister, and to the
injury which was done to them by two Englishmen, King Edward and Oliver
Cromwell. The records were also in great confusion by their being carried
from one repository to another for their preservation in times of rebellion.
This made Lord Cromartie's task the greater, but he searched the stricter.
In that search the first considerable thing that occurred to him was the
records and papers which demonstrated that Elizabeth Mure was the first
and lawful wife of King Eobert ii., thus disproving the statement to the
contrary. Lord Cromartie adds, that he published that vindication of the
Eoyal Family from the stain cast on the Crown, and on all the other crowned
heads in Europe. He says he did not print many copies, and that he had
then ordered a second edition to be printed.

In his letter to Queen Anne, Lord Cromartie explains that the next thing
which occurred in his office of Lord Eegister was the papers printed by him

2 h


on the Gowrie Conspiracy. He bad intended to print the papers when first
discovered. But the " hissing serpents" shrank into their caverns, frightened
by other weapons than paper ones. Hearing some months before his publica-
tion that this Cadmus was reviving, by virtue of some preternatural heats
which would warm them into life again, he thought he could not better
employ his present repose, which he enjoyed by her Majesty's favour in relief
from all public service, than in exposing the little fruit of his former labours
as useful antidotes against the poisonous weeds when they seemed to bud.

Besides the works which were printed and published by Lord Cromartie,
he left essays on the Coinage, on Fishings, and on Teinds, which apparently
were never published by him. These unpublished essays, like all his other
writings, are short, clear, and terse, and never tedious.


BORN C.I656 — DIED I73I.



BoKS circa 1656; DIED 1731.

First JFife. — Lady Elizabeth Gordon (of Aboyne), 1685.

Seco7id JFife. — The Honourable Mary Murray (of Elibank), 1701.

Third JFife. — The Honourable Anne Fraser (of Lovat), 1717.

r\^ the death of the first Earl of Cromartie, on the 27th of August 1714, he
^^ was succeeded in his titles of honour and landed estates by his eldest surviving
son, John, then Lord Macleod. He was born about the year 1656, and he Avas
then, and during the lifetime of his elder brother Roderick, the second son of his
parents. On the death of Roderick, young and unmarried, he became the eldest
surviving son, and ultimately the successor of his father.

The second Earl had a much shorter and less distinguished career than that
of his father. He only possessed the dignity and estates for about seventeen years,
and the principal events of his life occurred pre-sious to his succession as Earl of
Cromartie ; yet his history is not devoid of incidents, although these, unfortunately,
are not always of the most pleasing kind. He was early suspected of treason to
King William ; he was involved, although innocently, in the death of a French
officer ; he was embarrassed in his pecuniary affairs, and his estates were sec{ues-
trated. He was also obliged to divorce his first wife, who was one of the gay
Gordons of Aboyne. These incidents will now be referred to in the present memoir.

After his father's creation as Viscount of Tarbat, the young laird took the
designation of ]\Laster of Tarbat, and generally subscribed his name as " John
Tarbat," a facsimile of which signature is appended to this memoir. On the
creatiou of his father as Earl of Cromartie, the ]\Iaster of Tarbat took the courtesy

designation of Lord Macleod. The first Earl was partial to the name of
Macleod, which he represented through his grandmother, the heiress of Lewis.
In a letter referring to his ancestors, he distinctly states that he was the repre-
sentative of the ancient chief Leod, the last royalet of Man, as already mentioned
in our memoir. On the succession of the third Earl of Cromartie to his father,
the question of the courtesy title to be used by his eldest son was carefully
considered, and the title of Lord Macleod was finally adopted, under which
designation Lord Macleod is still well and favourably remembered throughout the
county of Eoss. While his courtesy title was under consideration, his uncle.
Lord Eoyston, expressed his opinion of the honourable descent of the Macleods.^

AYhen Sir George Mackenzie was created Viscount of Tarbatin 1685, his eldest
surviving son, John Mackenzie, was Member of Parliament for the county of Ross.
The Parliament resolved that, as the eldest son of a Peer, the Master could not
continue a Member of Parliament, and a writ was issued for a new election, which
took place on 23d April of that year. Although he was thus incapacitated from
sitting in Parliament, the Master of Tarbat took much interest in the Parliamen-
tary representation of the county of Eoss. In a letter to his father in regard to
the election of Members for the county, he gives a particular account of the state
of parties. The Whig party, he wrote, wished to choose the Lairds of Balnagown
and Foulis, but the Viscount of Tarbat's interest was found to outweigh both
their interests, and two Mackenzies were returned. Munro of Foulis was so
teased for his vote, that at last he " fell in tears, which made our barbarous
muntaniers lauch, particularly Fairburn, who bid Fouls go home to his mother and
his ministers, which sett both him and Bellnagoun better then to be members of
parliament." -

At the Eevolution, John Master of Tarbat was suspected of hostility to King
William and Queen Mary, as his father was, but, as we have shown in the memoir
of the latter, without good grounds. The Master was arrested by order of
]\Iaj or- General Mackay, Commander of the Forces in Scotland, under the following
order, which we quote at length, as it incidentally affords information about the
Master's religious principles : —

You are order'd to take with you fiftie well-mounted dragouns, and passing over to the
shire of Ptosse, shall labour to seize the person of the Master of Tarhot, with his two priests,
aad Popish servants, as also all the armes which shall be found in his custody, whether his

^ Letter, vol. ii. p. 179. ^ Letter, vol. i. pp. 27G-9.


own, or belonging to the publique ; and the Lairds of Balnagoun and Fonlis yonger are
lyckwyse order'd to be assisting to you herein, whether for right information of maters, or
junction of their men, — you judging it necessary: for which this shall be yours and their
warant. — Given at Invernesse the 11 May 1689. H. Mackay.

For his Majesties speciall service to Major Aneas Mackay.

The Major shall also seize the Master of Tarbot's serviceable horses, and take a veue of
his papers, in presence of the forsaid lairds, or one of them, and bring me such of them as
relates to the present conjuncture of affaires. H. Mackay.^

Major-General Mackay at the same time wrote to the Viscount of Tarbat that
on information that his son, the Master, was very suspect if there were a party
sufficient to secure him, he had sent his nepliew to secure him, and kept him
now at Inverness, not so close as others were kept at Edinburgh. In the same
letter he complains that none of the Mackenzies had come near him but Coul and
Kedcastle passing through.^ The Master of Tarbat remained under surveiUance
for some time, and was under the special care of the laird of Balnagowan, who was
then governor of Inverness. In December following, an Act by the Privy Council
ordained John Master of Tarbat to be set at liberty, in respect that he had given
his parole of honour to live peaceably.^

From the terms of the order to seize the Master of Tarbat, with his two
priests and Popish servants, it seems probable that he was the son to whom
Lord Cromartie addressed the anxious letter before quoted, dissuading him from
leaving the Protestant and joining the Roman Catholic communion.^

John Master of Tarbat had the misfortune to be concerned in the death of
Elias Poiret, Sieur de la Roche, a French Protestant refugee and gentleman of the
King's Guard, who was killed in a scuffle in a vintner's in the Kirkgate of Leith,
on the 8 th of March 1691. So serious was that affair considered, that the Master
of Tarbat and his associates were actually charged Avith the crime of murdering
the Frenchman.

The indictment Avas at the instance of George and Isaac Poirets, Sieurs de la
Roche, Frenchmen, Protestant refugees, and gentlemen of his IMajesty's troop of
Guards, and of Sir William Lockhart, Solicitor-General, and it charged the prisoners,
John Master of Tarbat, Ensign Andrew Mowat, and James Sinclair, Writer in

1 Cromartie Papers, vol. xxi. No. 8G, at ^ Extract Act, dated 24th December 1689,

Tarbat House. Cromartie Papers, vol. xii. No. 16, at Tarbat

- Letter, dated 20th May 1689, vol. i. pp. House.
62-3. * yide Letter, p. clxviii.


Edinburgh, Avitli entering into tlie bed-chamber of George Poiret, one of the pur-
suers, while he lay sleeping in bed in the house of John Brown, vintner, Kirkgate,
Leith, in which house he was quartered, and giving him Avounds to the effusion
of his blood : and it further stated that on being removed out of the room they
returned, and endeavoured to break open the door, upon which George rapped on
the ceiling of his room for his two brothers, who slept in the room above, to
come to his assistance, who came accordingly, half clothed, and totally unarmed ;
and the prisoners, all of whom were armed, did violently assault them, gave them
many wounds, and run the deceased Elias Poiret through the body with a sword,
of which he instantly died.

The prisoners, on the other hand, presented an indictment, charging the Sieurs
de la Koche with assassination and murder. The indictment against them set
forth that the Master of Tarbat, Mowat, and Sinclair, on the night libelled, were
obliged by a heavy storm to take shelter in John Brown the vintner's house.
AVhile they were sitting quietly at the fireside in the hall, George, Isaac, and
Elias Poiret, and another Frenchman, James de la Massie, having formed a con-
spiracy to murder them, came into the hall with cocked pistols in their hands and
swords under their arms, the Master of Tarbat and his companions being totally
unarmed. That they fired two pistols loaded with ball at the Master of Tarbat,
and then attacked the company with drawn swords, who were wounded by parrying
the thrusts with their hands ; and in the scuffle, there being little light in the room,
the Sieurs de la Eoche did murder the deceased Elias Poiret, their o^Y\\ brother.

The Court, after long arguments, sustained the libel against the Master of
Tarbat, MoAvat, and Sinclair, but found the defences relevant to set aside the
indictment against the Frenchmen. A jury was empannelled, and the case went

Online LibraryWilliam FraserThe earls of Cromartie; their kindred, country, and correspondence (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 53)