John Murray Graham.

Annals and correspondence of the viscount and the first and second earls of Stair; (Volume 1) online

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* Cunningham's Church History, ii. 295; Life jof Principal Car-

t Stat. 1690, c. 17 ; Russell's History of the Church in Scotland, ii.
360. The University of Aberdeen, where Episcopacy was strongest,
was spared in the mean time.


land is of the 25th ult., when matters did not look
very well. Just now the king hath signed two letters,
one to the Commission of the General Assembly, re-
commending them to unite with those who are other-
wise well qualified for the ministry, though they have
served formerly under Episcopacy ; and that such of
them as were turned out summarily and shall be called
to vacant churches by the plurality of the heritors and
elders, where there is no just cause to the contrary,
be admitted ; and that as to any who do complain of
hardships in their sentences, they shall take their
complaints into consideration, and deal impartially
as the case requires, and put the king to no further
trouble to consider these complaints, assuring them
he will protect their persons and maintain the govern-
ment of the Church by Presbytery, and that he will
suffer no invasion to be made upon it. . . .""""

The commission of the Assembly, probably re-
garding the royal letter here referred to as an Eras-
tian interference with the concerns of the Kirk, paid
little attention to it, and proceeded with their work of
ejecting ; while a second letter from William to the
same purpose had no more effect, t

In this state of affairs the second meeting of the
General Assembly, which had been appointed for an
earlier date, was adjourned by royal mandate to the
1 5th of January 1692, the Earl of Lothian being ap-
pointed High Commissioner.;]; This farther adjourn-

* Melvill Papers, 594. t Cunningham, ii. 297.

t Robert, fourth Earl, afterwards first Marquis of Lothian, supported
the Revolution, and was Lord Justice-General of Scotland under King

166 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

ment to an inconvenient season of the year did not
tend to smooth the temper of the ministers and mem-
bers of Assembly, already ruffled by the king's inter-
ference on behalf of the Episcopal clergy, and by his
exercise of the power assumed to belong to him, of
calling and adjourning the Assembly at pleasure.
They did meet, however, on the day appointed,
though with defective numbers, and in a very ill
humour. *

The winter and early spring of 1692 were passed
by the Master of Stair in London. Assisted by a
small committee (of which it is not unlikely the Rev.
William Carstairs and Lord Tarbet were members),
he prepared and put in shape the king's letter to be
presented by the commissioner to the Assembly, and
also the declaration proposed to be taken by conform-
ing ministers. In the beginning of January he wrote
to the Earl of Lothian :

"LONDON, January 5, 1692.

" This night we had another meeting of the same
persons in the same place, where we had the letter
and the address and declaration or test finally con-
cluded. The letter is as you saw it I have en-
closed the double of the other, and your lordship
may expect to have all at Berwick by the next or a
flying packet. This night I am now come in from that
conference, so I have no time to write at the length
I would ; only Carmichael continues obstinate, though

* The proceedings of this General Assembly, which are not in the
usual editions of the Acts of Assembly, were made public some years
ago by the late Principal Lee, from the ecclesiastical records in his
possession ; a publication to which Dr Cunningham, in his Church
History, refers.


I was with him this day from the king/''' It is likely
not only to lose me a friendly conjunct, but really I
fear some may come in that will not be so generally
acceptable. ... I have by this night's post sent
down Tweeddale's commission to be Chancellor and
his gift of pension, 1800 sterling. Melvill's is not
yet signed, and our other affairs are as you left them.
By the next I will give your lordship all your titles,
and in the mean time pardon this abruptness. My
dear Lord, farewell." t

This letter was followed up by another which would
be received soon after the Assembly met :

The Master of Stair to his Grace the Earl of Lothian,
their Majesties Commissioner.

"LONDON, January 16, 1692.

" May it please your Grace, I had yours from
Morpeth, by which I conclude it was not before
Thursday that your Grace could reach Edinburgh.
I gave that account to the king this day, and de-
livered your letter to my Lord Portland. ... If
the General Assembly shall be so unwise as to stick
at what the king proposes to them [in behalf of the
Episcopalian clergy], I think your Grace should give

* Lord Melvill having ceased to be the Joint-Secretary for Scotland
about the end of 1691, that office was tendered to Lord Carmichael,
who declined to accept it; Johnstoun of Warrieston being thereafter
joined in the office with the Master of Stair.

t This letter, and those which follow, from Sir John Dalrymple to
the Earl of Lothian, are in the collection of the Marquis of Lothian,
and have been very handsomely lent by his Lordship for this work.
These letters have never hitherto been printed.

168 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

them time, for they are much abused and deluded; and
I understand some people who pretend other things
here endeavour that they may either unanimously con-
sent or unanimously refuse, and do insinuate if they
be unanimous in their refusal, the king will not fur-
ther press it. This is a most pernicious project which
will entirely cheat and ruin them, and make the king
see that there is no moderate party amongst them.
Your Grace knows how this will be improven here.

" The occasion of this flying packet is instructions
to Sir Thomas Livingstone on the occasion of Glen-
garry's proposals to Colonel Hill. The king will not
dispense with the oath of allegiance, especially to.
Papists, though perhaps security by bail may be in
effect better : but he will not alter the terms of his
proclamation after the date is elapsed.* All our
affairs are at a stand, and I think will be so till we
hear from you. If anything difficult occur, or that
they [the General Assembly] will 1 fall upon other
matters than what is proposed, I think your Grace
had better despatch a flying packet, which can be
returned in eight days.t My dear Lord, adieu."

When the sitting of the Assembly commenced, the
Earl of Lothian presented the royal Letter. Refer-
ring to the letters he had already addressed to the
Commission, the king in this letter complained that

* This passage of the letter most likely refers, though in brief lan-
guage, to the king's determination to enforce the penalty in the Pro-
clamation of the previous autumn which the defaulting clansmen
should incur who did not make their submission within the date pre-
scribed in the Proclamation.

t That is, allowing eight days for the courier's journey to London .
and back to Edinburgh.


nothing had been done to further the object he had
so much at heart of the reception into the Church of
such of their Episcopal brethren as might be disposed
to take the oath of allegiance and subscribe the West-
minster Confession, and intimated that he had in-
structed conforming ministers to apply to them for
admission into the Church, in terms of a formula and
declaration delivered to his Commissioner ; that, in
cases of application for admission calling for inquiry,
the Assembly should appoint two commissions for
the north and south of Tay respectively, and with a
view to greater impartiality, one half of these com-
missioners should be old Presbyterian ministers, and
the other half conforming ministers. The letter con-
cluded with an assurance of the king's firm inclina-
tions to maintain the Presbyterian government in the
Church of Scotland established by law.*

The royal letter having been read, the Commis-
sioner then made a speech urging the topics con-
tained in it, and arguing that although Presbyterian-
ism had been hardly treated in the former reigns,
that should be no hindrance to Episcopal ministers
already in the exercise of the essentials of religion
being received into the government of the Church,
with this double advantage, that it would both
strengthen considerably the Presbyterian body and
leave the non- conforming Episcopal clergy without
either party or abettors.

The reading of the royal address and the speech
of the Commissioner fell upon deaf ears ; and when,
in the course of a day or two, Lord Lothian produced

* Bishop Burnet's History of his Time, 1692, ad i nit.; Cunningham,
ii. 298.

170 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

the formula and declaration to be taken by conform-
ing ministers before their reception into the Church,
the consideration of it was coldly referred to a com-
mittee. Some addresses were presented by Epis-
copal ministers from various districts of Scotland,
desiring to be admitted into communion with the
Presbyterian Church upon the conditions already
mentioned ; but they were all referred to a com-
mittee, a mode of disposing of disagreeable ques-
tions in which the General Assembly were already
adepts. The Assembly meanwhile occupied itself
with unimportant matters of detail, bringing an ob-
stinate indifference to bear against the proposal to
which " William the Deliverer " so anxiously asked
their favourable attention as Protestants.

During the sittings of the Assembly, Sir John
Dalrymple was in London, keeping himself in com-
munication both with the king and the Commissioner.
He did not leave London till March, when he ac-
companied William to the Continent. To the Com-
missioner he wrote as follows :

The Master of Stair to the Earl of Lothian.

"LONDON, Jan. 26, 1692.

" May it please your Grace, I had your two letters
by the same post. I am very sorry that the General
Assembly will take that course which must lose them
to the king ; and I believe that the best feather in
their wing. They must see that upon the hopes of
their compliance the civil government hath been de-
layed all this time ; and now, in reason, they having
defied the king, he will make such a set as will keep


them in order. If he does otherwise, I am sure it is
more than they deserve at his hands. The king is
extremely well pleased with your Grace's part in the
matter. I read both your letters to him, and spoke
of those two things which are most proper for your
Grace. You know he gives no positive answers, but
I did conclude that one of the two he would do. . . .
I lay my account, since there is no flying packet come,
that either the answer to the king's letter sticks, or
that it is acceptable. I could wish from my heart
that they would rather trifle off the time than fall
upon such things as will oblige your Grace to use
the powers you now have, for I never did wish a
General Assembly sit longer than twenty days. But
if it cannot be well got to sit so long, it looks like
abortive, and it will make noise through the world.


" P.S. Since my writing, my Lord Portland sent
me word that he was so busy he could not write with
this express, but charged me to present his service to
your Grace, and tell you he would write by the next.
I hope your Grace shall have no need of this instruc-
tion ; but, however, I would not have you without
power in case they continue in ill -temper. Some
believe things will mend upon Carstairs' arrival, but I
fear he hath cast the cat in the kirn [churn] by Dun-
lop, and he will find it difficult to take her out again."

The Same to the Same.

" LONDON, Jan. 30, 1692.

" May it please your Grace, I am glad to find by
the last some small hopes that the Assembly may
come to temper, and unite with their brethren. I

172 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

had written the same thing to your Grace I had
from you, that some who had been instrumental to
put them wrong would now change their word, at
least, that they should not be seen in the matter ;
but it is easier to raise the devil than lay him. We
had laid our accounts here that before this can come
to your hands, the Assembly had been dissolved ;
but if they can be brought to what is proposed, and
is really their interest, it is much better they are yet
sitting : I doubt nor your Grace will hinder them to
fall on any other matters of importance.* You can-
not believe how universally your speech takes here.
I durst not adventure to print it till I see it in print
from them. Yesterday Dr Bates t dined with me,
and some others. I had occasion to speak of it with
the dissenters ; they did all of them join with it in
every title ; and at court I saw Nottingham and
Carmarthen also made panegyrics, as his Majesty
had done to me the day before. Your Grace, I be-
lieve, knows Portland's thoughts from himself, and I
am sure the king is well pleased you have retrieved
to him the power of ordinary adjournment which
was usurped last Assembly before the Commissioner
got his unclear instructions, which occasions that shy-
ness and difficulty you find in those minute matters.
Come what will, your Grace hath both done yourself
right to [prove] your sufficiency and fidelity, and like-
wise to show that there are a sort of Presbyterians
who are not for the extravagant height of church-
meddling, or being opposed to, or independent on, the

* His Grace did occasionally take part in the business brought before
this Assembly.which interference was not very palatable to the members,
t Dr William Bates, the eminent nonconformist divine.


civil authority. If you had not done as you have
done, then the conclusion had been inferred against
all Presbyterians that they were not to be trusted
where the civil government was concerned. Shall
all that party now be suspected as to their inclination
to turn everything subject to the Kirk, and to render
it intractable and insupportable to the State, which
really I do not see in the constitution of Presbytery ?
But some weak men have always, to support their
own interest, either suffered or instigated churchmen
to go to extravagances ; and they believe such as
will not bear or concur with them in this are their
enemies, but truly they are their best friends who
would make their government tenable, neither un-
charitable to their brethren nor undutiful to their
sovereign. There is great observation that Brodie
is gone north ; and it is said he and Grant brought
from the north such addresses as came from the
Presbytery in the west. But I hope this shall never
be heard of; it is not the way with our king to fright
him by making a muster in opposition. I apprehend
those he finds have been this twelve-months past
in his service, opposing his commands, shall have
no more trouble for the future. I shall endeavour
as much as I can that if this does produce altera-
tions, those who have been from the beginning for
him, who never did oppose him in the convention
parliament nor in the council, by joining either the
Club or the Killicrankys,* be brought in instead of
those who may yet go out, in case there be farther
alterations. It is too true, those who were moderate
have been too much neglected on both sides. Your

* The Jacobite party.

174 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

Grace hath given good proof that there are of that
sort both capable and willing to do all those reason-
able things the king desires."

The Same to the Same.

" LONDON, Feb. 2, 1692.

" May it please your Grace, The packet from
Scotland, which was yesterday due, is not come in,
though the letter from York came this morning. They
did wait for some hours for the mail from Scotland, and
finding it did not come, they concluded, as we must
do, that either the boy is lost in the storm or else that
the packet is robbed. The last black box was like-
wise broken up ; what letters were taken out we do
not know, but those which did remain had the seals
entire, amongst which I had letters from your Grace,
the Chancellor, Sir Patrick Murray, my father, and
brother Hew ; and my Lord Portland's from Mr
Carstairs came to hand too by this accident or curi-
osity. We are in great doubt what is become of
the General Assembly ; but for my part I conclude
there is little or nothing done, else we should have
had a flying packet from your Grace, whether it had
been for good or ill. There are many things on the
wheel in relation to England and Ireland which will
be public in some days. . . . My dear Lord,

The Same to the Same.

" LONDON, Feb. 9, 1692.

" Before this is with you, I apprehend your Grace
is eased of a very uneasy task, in which you have


done yourself very much right ; but wilfulness is likely
to bring all the mischief on those poor deluded people
that they feared, and their backwardness well recom-
mends their enemies who offer fair. I can say no-
thing (having got no letter since this of the 3<Dth ult.)
more than what I wrote by the flying packet. . . .
I am very confident you will have some mark of the
king's acceptance of the service you have done him.
" I doubt not your Grace will write to the king at
the end of this affair."

TJie Same to the Same.

" LONDON, Feb. 10, 1692.

" May it please your Grace, I have used all the
diligence I could to get you positive instructions, as
now, I am sure, you have herewith. It [the letter of
instructions] alleges somewhat in general that the
Assembly was deluded at the beginning to believe
that the king was not in earnest, and that their being
unanimous would save them, though they did not
comply. I have sufficient evidence from my father
and brother, and Sir Patrick Murray, as well as your
Grace, that Mr Carstairs hath appeared to contradict
this story, and to assure those he met with that the
king would be displeased, though it is certain Mr
Dunlop did not say so at his arrival. That being
clear, I apprehend there will be less use made of
those churchmen's whispers. Though I do the jus-
tice to Carstairs that he openly was for the contrary,
yet his brother, being employed and instructed upon
his interest and recommendation, it does not well for
having his advices for the future. It was once likely

176 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

at our meeting this day to have carried that the
[king's] letter should go to a vote, to discover every
man's part, and particularly those who have got them-
selves to be elders [of Assembly] who are in the
Government ; but it was justly thought that a vote
contra to the king's letter, and a paper on record, was
both prejudicial to farther thoughts of union and to
his Majesty's authority. Besides, there being so great
a plurality, cross men's parts or sentiments should
not be discovered, for people might instigate others,
and lye by or comply themselves. But in all those
matters the king doth trust your Grace's report,
whom he hath found to be so very faithful to him. I
am glad poor Polwarth hath been sober. I -fear the
storm make this long a-coming. Therefore, my dear
Lord, farewell."



The Commissioner, in compliance with the Kings instructions, dissolves
the Assembly Letters of the Master of Stair from London and the
seat of war on the Continent to the Earl of Lothian The Scottish
Parliament pass Acts "for settling the quiet and peace of the
Church " The General Assembly again called to meet after a long
interval Expected collision with the civil power on the question of
obliging the Presbyterian ministers to take an oath acknowledging
IVilliam and Mary as king and queen de jure Part taken by Lord
Stair and Lord Tarbet The Rev. Mr Car stairs The king and
the Assembly come to terms Airs well that ends welL

THE "positive instructions" referred to in the Master
of Stair's letter of the 8th February would reach
Edinburgh and be in the hands of the Commis-
sioner by the 1 3th. The General Assembly continu-
ing in their course of passive opposition to the re-
commendation contained in the king's letter, the
Commissioner on that day intimated to the Assembly
that his Majesty, perceiving no inclination among
them to comply with his desire that they should
unite with their brethren, had' commanded him to
dissolve the Assembly, which he accordingly did,
without naming another day for its meeting. The
moderator, backed by a vote of the members of the
Assembly, then spoke to the effect that the Church
had an inherent right to meet about its own affairs,

178 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

and named a certain day in August 1693 for their
next meeting.*

So ended King William's well-meant endeavour to
bring about an agreement between the Episcopalian
and Presbyterian clergy. Their period of estrange-
ment, however, had lasted too long, and was accom-
panied by too many bitter recollections, to admit of
their mutual jealousies being so easily healed. It is,
moreover, very doubtful if, upon principle, the best and
most conscientious of the Episcopal ministers could
have been brought to agree to the terms of the con-
formity proposed. So that although the Presbyterian
body must be admitted to have shown harshness
and a want of Christian charity in the hurried ejection
from their livings of many estimable men, we must
remember that the memory of the proceedings in the
late reigns was still recent, while a catholic spirit of
religion, in the proper sense of the term, such as that
which had inspired the excellent Leighton, was not
to be found in either party. Toleration, nominally
introduced at the period of the Revolution, was a
virtue and principle of action which had not yet taken
root in the nation at large. The king himself, in
advance of his time, was tolerant to an extent which
was called by many latitudinarian ; and this was also
the temper of mind of Lord Stair and of the Master
of Stair, who, both of them, looked more to a basis
of Protestantism than to the distinctions between
Episcopacy and Presbytery.

The correspondence between Sir John Dalrymple
and the Earl of Lothian continued till the spring of

* Cunningham, ii. 300 ; Burnet's Own Time, 1692 adinit.\ Pardovan's
Collection, I., lib. xvi. 5.


the following year. Such of the letters to Lord
Lothian as are of some general interest follow in
the order of date :

The Master of Stair to the Earl of Lothian.


" LONDON, Feb. 20, 1692.

" I send you inclosed the first letter I believe ever
King William subscribed to Scotland. I dare assure
your Lordship he is very well pleased with you, and
that you and yours will find it so. His Majesty
would willingly have called your Lordship up to have
given the true account of every man's part, but he
is convinced that there cannot be time for your
coming before he goes, which is not very certain
but it may be sooner, but the icth of March is the
longest. . . ."

" LONDON, Feb. 27, 1692.

" Your letter, writ by another hand, I read to the
king. I am in the same circumstances with you ; I
do write freely my present thoughts without either
secrecy or keeping doubles. Truth will always
hold its feet, though men may forget and circum-
stances alter. I do not believe I want any spyes,
for that post I feared had been lost in the beginning
of the storm came after a long time. I do agree
with your Lordship those people are neither tractable
nor grateful, but yet they have something that one
would not do well to destroy them, though he can
neither manage nor oblige them. Something must

180 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

be done to hinder them to come themselves and con-
found the civil government, but I shall never be
accessary either to subvert their constitution or to
bring them to scaffolds, though really they do some
things so intolerable that they must be used as mad
bodies and put up in a bedlam, if they continue their
rabbling or protestations. This day Mr Johnston
kissed the king's hand as my conjunct. I had no
expectation of making another campaign, where the
want of language does but hamper me, but I was
desired to make myself ready. I had some hopes to
have made a start [to Scotland], to have seen friends
for a month. The man you writ of stands stiffer for
those commissioners who have embroiled the king's
affairs than those who, with little advantage, and as
little ambition for that character, did honestly what
they were instructed ; but well-doing is its own
reward. My dear Lord, adieu."

" LONDON, March 3, 1692.

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