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had anew [enough] to take meat and drink fra hame [from his liouse], but
has none to revenge his death!"' — P/V(y»V», vol. ii. pp. 100, i>00. Lord
Ilailes says that, according to Calderwood's MS. vol. v. p. 11 1, ' Alexander
Pvuthven of Forgan cried up, " Come down, thou son of Signior Davie "
[meaning David Kizzio — " Son of Signior Davie " being a common desiir-
nation of King James in Scotland] '' thou hast slain an honester man than thy-


Two persons are found murdered in Gowrie House ;
namely, the master of the house, the Earl of Gowrie, and
his brother Alexander Euthven. Besides these two, no
other persons are found to have been killed on the spot.
If such an event had occurred in England at that time,
there might have been a coroner's inquest with as much or
as httle effect as in the case of Amy Eobsart. But there
w^as no coroner's inquest in Scotland then, and indeed
there is none now.

Some days after the event above mentioned several of
the slain Earl of Gowrie's servants were examined by the
king's privy council, some of them being subjected to the
torture of the ' boots ; ' and the result was communicated
to the public by a long statement, styled ' A Discourse,' ^
purporting to be the king's own account or narrative of
the affiiir, published by authority, and accompanied by
the deposition of three witnesses taken at Falkland
before the privy council. These depositions were

self;" and George Craigeugelt cried up with the rest of the town there
conrened, " Give us out our provost, or the king's green coat shall pay for
it." ' — Ilailes Annals of Scotland, vol. iii. p. 374, note.

^ It will be seen from what follows that it is important to ascertain as far
as possible the exact date of the publication of the king's own account of
this affair ; which account is intituled ' A Discourse of the Unnatural and
vile Conspiracie against His Majestie's Person.' Thus much is certain, that
it was published by authority at Edinburgh about the beginning of Septem-
ber, IGOO ; for Nicolson, Queen Elizabeth's agent in Scotland, sent it to Sir
Robert Cecil on the 3rd of September, 1000. M.S. State Paper Office, cited
by Lord Hailes, Annals of Scotland, vol. iii. p. 345, note. It has been re-
piinted in the fourth volume of the Ilarleian Miscellany, in Cogan's Tracts, in
the Memoirs of David Moyses ; and with annotations by Lord Ilailes, Edin-
burgh, 1757 ; and in the third volume of his Annals, 3rd edition, Edinburgh,
1819, p. 345, et seq. It has again been reprinted in Pitcairn's Criminal
Trials in Scotland, vol. ii. p. 210, et seq. The king and his assistants were no
doubt at work upon it during the last three weeks of the month of August.
The depositions of William Itind and Andrew Henderson were taken at
Falkland by the assistance of Mr. Thomas Hamilton, the king's advocate,
and of 'the boots,' on the 20th of August; and, after that^ the finishing touches
were given to this notfible pcrformnnce.

.S77.! WALTER SCOTT. 197

publislicd as corroborative evidence of the truth of the
king's narrative. 'J'here were, however, many other
depositions taken, whicli were suppressed, Init, like some
other depositions, afterwards taken when James was king
of En<dand, in relation to tlie case of Sir Tliomas Over-
bury, unfortunately i'or King James's memory, were not
destroj^ed. These depositions relating to this Gowrie
case, which were suppressed by King James, have been
printed by Mr. Pitcairn from the Scottish records. As
King James and his advisers did not think fit to publish
any of these with their ' Discourse,' they probably con-
sidered them as partaking more of the nature of infir-
mative than of corroborative evidence.

Among these depositions which were not published
with the ' Discourse,' there is a very important one, that
of George Craigengelt, which contradicts point blank the
king's assertion that a story told by Alexander Paithvcn
about a man with a pot of gold was the cause of the said
king's going to Gowrie House. This George Craigengelt
appears to have been master of the Earl of Gowrie's
household, and his deposition was taken at Falkland on
the IGth day of August, IGOO.

Georjre CraiG-enwlt, beino: examined, declares, ' That he
was lying sick in his bed that day,^ till after the king's
cominix ; that Thorn Eldar and John J3arrouncarae to him
and bade him rise, and said " the king was come."
Which he did, and came to the kitchen, where he found
no appearance of meat for the king ; and therefore sent
out to Duncan Robertson's house, where he got a mure-

^ Andrew Henderson states in his deposition before tlie parliament that
Mie took up the first service by reason George Craigengelt was sick.' And
this is couiirmed by othi r deponents.


foLile [muir-fowl, grouse]. And thereafter, this deponer
caused make ready a shoulder of mutton and a hen ;
which was long in doing. And that he thereafter went
up and brought down some strawberries and dressed five
or six dishes of dessert ; and in the going up the stair,
met the Master of Gowrie ^ booted, and inquired at him,
" Where he had been ? " who answered, " An errand not
far off." And the deponer inquired again, " What moved
the king to come so suddenly, unlooked for ? " who
answered, that " Eobert Abircrumby, that false knave,
had brought the king there, to cause his Majesty take
order for his debt." ' "^

^ow it may be asked why Eobert Abercromby was
not produced in order to test the truth of this account of
the cause of the king's coming so suddenly to Gowrie
House, and the king's own account thereof respectively.
The suppression of the testimony of this Eobert Aber-
cromby must be considered as affording evidence of
delinquency on tlie part of the king, and amounting to
one article of circumstantial evidence of the falsehood of
his account of the cause of his coming to Go\vrie House
on August 5, 1600.^

The three witnesses, whose depositions were published
with the ' Discourse,' were James Weimys of Bogie,
William Eynd, the Earl of Gowrie's pedagogue, and

' Alexander Rutliven, called, according to the cuatom in Scotland, the
Master of Gowrie, because he was the eldest of the earl's brothers. If the
earl's father had been alive, the earl, as the eldest son, would have been the
Master of Gowrie.

2 Pitcairn, ii. 157, 158.

3 See the chapter in Bentham ' Of Suppression or Fabrication of Evidence,
considered as affording Evidence of Delinquency,' vol. iii. p. 165, et seq. At
present we are dealing with suppression ; we shall have in the sequel to deal
with fabrication; for this case presents some remarkable and instructive
specimens of both.


Aiuli-ew HLMitkrson, tlie earl's chamberlain of Scone. Tlie
evidence of Weimys seems to have been used with the
view of raising- a charge of witchcraft or magic — a charj^e
wliich may be dismissed with ihu ubservati<jn of Loi-d
Ilailes, that wliat Tacitus says of treason uudur the
reign of Tiberius may he said of wit(^hcraft under tlie
reign of James : ' onmiiiiu accusationum complementiim


Eynd's and Henderson's depositions were both taken on
August '20. And, what is an important circumstance,
Ivynd's deposition was taken Jirst, and he was ' extremely
booted,' which might possibly save the trouble and serve
the purpose of booting Henderson extremely.

As Craigengelt had stated in his deposition, also taken
at Falkland, on the 16th, four days before, that Eynd
' had my lord's ear more than any man,' it was very im-
portant to obtain from Ixynd some declaration or admis-
sion of something on the part of the Earl of Gowrie in
the nature of a i)lot against the king. It tlierefoie
seemed w^orth while to api)ly the extremity of torture to
the unfortunate man.^ Let us now see how much this

' Maister William Eynd, sworn and examined, and
demanded " Where he first did see the characters which
were found upon my lord ? " Depones, that he, having

* The statement of Nicolson, Queen Elizabeth's agent, as to Rynd'.> being
tortured, is confirmed by another and even a better authority. Melville, in
his MS. Diary cited by iNlr. Piteairii, ii. 2."58^ uote 1, says, * Then was Hen-
derson tried before us; and Gowrie's pedagogue, who had been booted.'
Eynd's examination was conducted * Apud Falkland, :20th August, IGOO, in
presence of the Lords Chancellor, Treasurer, Advocate ; Sir George Home of
Spot, Sir IJobert Melvill and Sir James Mclvill, Knigiits.' Henderson's
examination I'oUowed on the same day in tlic presence of the same persons
with the exception of Sir Robert Melvill,

200 i:s&Ars ox historical tiivtil

remained a space in Venice, at his i-eturning to Padua, did
find in my lord's pocket the characters wliich were found
upon him at his death : and the deponer, inquiring of
my lord "Where he had gotten them?" my lord an-
swered, '-Tliat by chance he had copied them himself:"
and the deponer knows that the characters in Latin are
my lord's own hand- writing ; but he knows not if the
Hebrew characters were written by my lord. Being de-
manded " for what cause my lord kept the characters so
well ? " depones, that, to his opinion, it was for no good ;
because he heard, that in those parts where my lord was,
they would give sundry folkes breeves.^ Depones also
that, on Monday, August 4, the Master, Andrew Hender-
son and the deponer remained in my lord's chamber till
about ten hours at even, and after a long conference betwixt
the lord and the Master,my lord called for Andrew Hender-
son, and after some speeches with him dismissed them.'
This lon^ conference, so late as ten p.m., between
Gowrie and his brother, taken in connection with his
brother's starting for Falkland on the following morning
at four o'clock, would seem to indicate some business with
the king ; which business would probably be explained if
certain letters mentioned in the following ' Item ' at the
end of July, IGOO, in the Account Books of the Lord
High Treasurer of Scotland, had not been carefully des-
troyed by those who destroyed Gowrie and his brother.
' Item, to a boy passing from Falkland again [of new]
with close letters to my Lord Incheaffray and Mr.
Euthven . . 24.9.' ^ Immediately before the above entry
there is the following : ' Item, to a boy passing from

1 On this word Lord Hailes has this note : ' I think this word here means
ma-rical writings, amulets, &c.' '^ Pitcairn, ii. 237.


Edinburgh witli close letters to the Earls of Atholl and
Gowrie . . 32.s'.' ^ The destruction of these letters is one
more among the many instances of suppression or des-
truction of evidence in this remarkable case.

Eynd's deposition thus proceeds : —

'Denies that he knew of the Master's or Andrew
Henderson's riding to Falkland ; and after Andrew's
return from Falkland upon the morrow, howbeit he did
see him booted, yet he knew not that he was come from

' It being demanded how the deponer was satisfied with
my lord's answer made to him, concerning tlie king's
coming to Saint Jolmstoim [Perth], saying that he knew
not how [why] he came ? declares that he thoutrht my
lord had dissembled with liim, and that he behoved to
have known it, seeing his brother was come with his
Majesty before that he demanded of him, and that he had
conferred with my lord privily.'

The last words differ from the statement of Henderson,
who says ' that Andrew Euthvcn came before the Master
a certain space, and spake with my lord quietly at the
table, but heard not the particular purpose that was
amongst them. And as soon as the Master came to the
hall, my lord and the whole company rose from the
table.' Still the words of Eynd may have reference to
the Master's having taken occasion to whisper a few
words to his brother to the same effect as those above
mentioned, which he had used to Craigengelt.

Kynd's deposition thus proceeds : —

* Depones, that he knew not that the Master was ridden
to Falkland, until after his Majesty's coming to St. Johns-

» ritjiiim, ii. L-'o?.


touii, that Andrew Ivutliven told him ; because the
depouer inquired of Andrew Euthven " where the Master
and he had been ? " and that Andrew answered, " they
had been in Falkland : " and that the Master having
spoken with the king, his Majesty came forward with
them : and that this conference betwixt the deponer and
Andrew Euthven was in the yard, when my lord was
there. And Andrew Euthven shewed to the deponer
that Andrew Henderson was directed by the Master to
shew my lord that his Majesty was coming.'

This last sentence was probably part of the produce of
the ' boots.' Independently of the improbabihty of Hen-
derson's being able to ride from Falkland with such speed
as to be at Gowrie House by ten o'clock, a distance which
it took Alexander Euthven from four o'clock a.m. to seven
to ride, there is the evidence of Craigengelt that nothing
was known at Gowrie House of the king's coming at the
time it would have been known if Henderson's statement
and this statement of Eynd's had been true ; and there is
also the evidence of one of the king's own witnesses, the
Abbot of Incheaffray, that Henderson was not with Alex-
ander Euthven at Falkland. I will give this evidence


' The Abbot of Incheaffray, sworn and examined, de-
pones, That upon the 5th day of August last by past, this
deponer, being in Falkland, about seven hours in the
morning, he met Maister Alexander Eutliven, accom-
panied with Andrew Euthven ; and at that time only
saluted the said Maister Alexander, without any con-
ference further at that time : And at that time he saw
the said Maister Alexander enter in conference with his
Majesty, upon the green, betwixt the stables and the


park ; wliich conference enduring for the space of a
quarter of an hour : And the said Maister Alexander
accompanied his Majesty till they came to the meadow.
And at his returning from his Majesty, this deponer
desired Maister Alexander to dischone ^ with him, by reason
his own could not be - sasone [in time] be prepared. To
whom Maister Alexander answered, ' lie might not tarry, by
reason his Majesty had commanded him to await upon
him.' 3

The discrepancy between this statement and Hender-
son's will be seen at once. Henderson declares that
they arrived at Falkland at the very time the abbt)t
specifies, namely, ' about seven hours in the morning ; ' why,
then, did the abbot not mention that Alexander Euthven
was accompanied by Andrew Henderson as well as by
Andrew Euthven? Sir Thomas Erskine begins his depo-
sition by the Avords ' depones conform to the Lord
IncheafTray.' It may thence be concluded that he, too, saw
Alexander Euthven accompanied by Andrew Euthven
but not by Andrew Henderson. It would be hazardous
to speculate on the effect of 'the boots' on any individual.
But perhaps they might have opened the eyes of the
abbot and of the knight to a vision of Henderson at
Falkland as they had opened the eyes of the pedagogue and
of the chamberlain. Moreover John Moncreif, the laird of
Moncreif, who met Andrew Henderson about ten o'clock
riding into Perth and stopped to sjjeak with him, deposes
that in reply to his question Henderson 'answered that

^ To breakfast with liim— a Scottish transformation of the old French

^ By season. In old Scotch ' by ' means beyond : ns in * by ordinary'
beyond ordinary ; and ' by ' in English is expressed by ' be ' in Scotch,
3 Pitcairu, ii. 180.

204 ESSAYS oy historical truth.

lie had been two or three miles above the town ; ' ^ and he
makes no remark as to the state of his horse, which, had
Henderson come from Falkland in two hours, must have
struck Moncreif as being at variance with the assertion
that he had only ' been two or three miles above the
town.' The manifest inference from all which is, that
Henderson never was at Falkland on that day, as he
afterwards swore.

Eynd's deposition thus proceeds :

'Depones also, that, in his opinion, the Maister could
not have drawn the king to my lord's house, without my
lord's knowledge : and that, when he heard the tumult,
lie was resolved in his heart the Master had done his
Majesty wrong ; and that no true Christian can think
otherwise, but that it was an high treason, attempted
against his Highness by the Master and the lord.

' Depones also, that, in his opinion, the king's whole
company was within a dozen of men.' ^

The effect of the ' boots ' is very visible in these last
sentences of poor Eynd's deposition ; and yet, after all,
they only contain ' opinions,' without a single shadow
of a fact to prove a conspiracy against the king by
Gowrie and his brother.

Two days after, on August 22,Eynd was 're-examined,
if ever he heard the Earl of Gowrie utter his opinion
anent the duty of a wise man in the execution of an high
enterprise ? Declares that, being out of the country, he
liad divers times heard him reason in that matter, and
that he was ever of that opinion, that he was not a wise
man, that, having intended the execution of an high and

' Pitcairn, ii. 18-5.

2 Pitcaini, ii. 210, 220. IIuilos, Aimals of Scotland, iii. 083-387.


dangerous purpose, did communicate the same to any but
to himself; because keeping it to liimself,^ it could not
be discovered nor disappointed : and hearing the depo-
sitions of Andrew Henderson read, and being inquired
upon his conscience wiiat he thought of the fact that
was committed against his Majesty? declares tliat, upon
his salvation, he believes Andrew Henderson has de-
clared the circumstances truly.' ^

Such was the utmost that the king and his councillors
could obtain in the form of proof of a conspiracy by the
Earl of Gowrie. The story or fable of a conspiracy was
not believed even in King James's own court and house-
hold. Melville in his MS. diary, says : ' At that time
(the end of August, IGOO) being in Falkland, I saw a
fuscambidus Frenchman play strange and incredible
pratticks, upon stented tackle [the tight rope], in the
Palace-close, before the king, queen, and wdiole court.
This was politiklie done, to mitigate the queen and
people from Gowrie's slaughter.' ^ If the king's story had
been believed, no mitigation would have been needed.

With all King James's care, however, to suppress
evidence on the other side — to kill, torture, bribe, and
suborn witnesses, and to destroy documents — some
documents have been preserved which go far to sap the
very foundations of the only evidence he was ever able to
produce in his favour — the testimony, namely, of Andrew
Henderson. If Andrew Henderson's assertion in his
deposition ' that the king woidd have been twice stabbed
that day, had not he relieved him ' be true ; nay, if the

^ It will be seen that Kiiipr James afterwards clianged his scheme of
fabrication, and charjjed Gowrie with having communictitt'd his plans to
Lo}i;an of Restalrijr.

* Pitcairn, ii. 221. Ilailes, iii. ?m, .194.

^ Pitcairn, ii. 2-"-S, note I.


kinix's assertion in his narrative ' that the man in the
study [that is, according to the ultimate arrangement,
Henderson] opened the window for him ' to enable him
to cry ' Treason ! Murther ! ' be true, how comes it that
the summons of treason issued in August includes the
name of ' Andrew Henderson, chamberlain of Scone,'
together with the names of those who had taken an
active part in the attempt to protect the Earl of Gowrie,
and who still survived, Cranstoun, Craigengelt, and Mac-
duff, having been executed at Perth on August 23? The
summons charges ' William Euthven, brother and heir
to the late Jolm, Earl of Gowrie, and Mr. Alexander
Euthven his brother, Harie [Harry] and Alexander
Euthven, sons to the late Alexander Euthven of Free-
land, Hew Moncreiff brother to the Laird of Moncreiff,
Patrick Eviot brother to the Laird of Bousie [or
Balhoussy], and Andrew Henderson., chamberlain of
Scone., to compear before our Sovereign lord and his
Justice, the fourth of November next, in his parhament,
&c.' ^ The payment of twenty pounds to John Blen-
scheillis. Hay Herald, for the proclamation of this sum-
mons at various places, is one of the items in the Accounts
of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland. But by October
the name of Andrew Henderson had disappeared from
the list of traitors, as appears from an entry of the pay-
ment of 21s. 4:d. ' to Andrew Home, messenger, passing
to the market-cross of Edinburgh, and there, after sound
of trumpet, inhibit the receipt or intercommoning with
Henry and Alexander Euthven, brothers to Mr. William
Euthven of Freeland, and Hew Moncreiff brother to the
Laird of Moncreiff, and Patrick Eviot brother to the
Laird of Balhoussy.' ^

' Pitcaini, ii. L'4t). * Ihi<7. ii. 241.


Is it credible tliat if Henderson, as he swore, had
twice saved the king's Hfe on tliat da}-, liis name would
have been inserted in tlie list of those against whom a
summons of treason was issued ?

Besides the important fact pc^inted out by Dr. Eobert-
son, that Henderson's evidence contradicts tlie king's
statement on four points, there is this other fact, still more
important, that Henderson's deposition, w^hcn he was
examined before the Privy Council at Falkland in August,
contradicts his deposition when he was examined before
the parliament at Edinburgh in November, on a point, as
Lord Hailes ^ has observed, ' of the utmost moment.'
The first deposition plainly intimates that it was Alex-
ander Ruthven's intention to murder the king; the
second leads us plainly to the conclusion that he had no
other design than to detain tlie king a prisoner. The
memory of a man who w^as telling truth could not fail
him on such a point as this at such a distance of time as
two months.

Upon the whole, after a long and careful consideration
of all the evidence I have been able to obtain on this
point — including the deposition given in a subsequent
page, and never, as far as I know, noticed before, of
William Eobertson, notary — I can come to no other con-
clusion than that the whole of Andrew Henderson's
statement is a tissue of falsehood ; and that there is not
any evidence of a credible nature that he was at Falk-
land on that day, or that he was in the chamber with the
king and Alexander Paithven at all. It is impossible
that a man telling a true story could have fallen into such
contradictions as Henderson fell into. 'For, by the

' Annals, iii. 891, note.

208 ESSAYS ox nisromcAL truth.

deliveiy of a true story, no other faculty is called into
exercise but the memory ; a faculty in respect of which,
to any such purpose as that here in question, no de-
ficiency can exist in the mind of any man. For the
delivery of a false story adequate to the production of
the same effect, the exercise, and the successful exercise,
of two other Acuities, each of which must be possessed
in an extraordinary degree of perfection, viz. invention
and judgment, is indispensable.' ^ It is evident that
Andrew Henderson was very far from possessing the two
faculties, invention and judgment, in the extraordinary
degree requisite for what he undertook.

But besides the discrepancy between the reason
assigned by the king for his coming to Gowrie House on
the 5th of August, 1600, and the reason assigned in
Craigengelt's deposition, there is also a discrepancy
between the story told by the king on the 6 th of August
and the story told by him in his ' Discourse ' or narra-
tive published at the beginning of September, as will
appear from wdiat follows.

The king says in his narrative that Alexander Paithven,
at Falkland, on the morning of the 5th of August, told
him that the evening before, walking about the fields,
taking the air alone, without the town of Saint Johnstoun,
he met with a man unknown to him ; and perceiving that
there appeared to be something to be hid under his cloak,
he cast aside ' the lappes of it, and so finds a great wide
pot to be under his arm, full of coined gold in great
pieces ; ' that he took the man with him to the town, and
without the knowledge of any man bound him in a
private solitary room ; ' and after locked many doors upon

» Bentham's TJationale of Judicial Evidence, vol. v. p. 712.


liini, and left liiin tliere and his pot with liini, and had
hasted himself out of Saint Joliiistoun, tliat day by four
hours in tlie morning, to make his Majesty advertised
thereof, according to his bound duty ; earnestly requesting

Online LibraryAndrew BissetEssays on historical truth → online text (page 16 of 40)