John Murray Graham.

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

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" . . . There are new commissions of coun-
cil, treasury, and exchequer, which will make great
alterations in affairs ; but the king hath signified
his pleasure to those who are entering, that he
neither intends to alter the government of the
Church, nor will allow any he employs to attempt
that, or to give them vexation or disquiet ; only he
will have them hold from those extravagances that
are neither in the constitution of Presbytery nor
consistent with peace or welfare either to the
nation or themselves. The king hath signed
your son's commission as colonel of that regiment


of dragoons, wherewith I am as well pleased as
anything. . . ."

June 19, 1692.

" I am like the people that go by their time and
produce nothing. I have been waiting all this time
to send your Lordship something considerable, that
now I shall content myself to tell you that your son'"
is very well ; his horses are come to Brussels. Those
he provided, though dear enough, did not fit him
sufficiently for constant attending the king ; and for
any occasions that fall out now, both he and Captain
Hay will be in condition to pretend to be employed
when there is use for them. It cannot be only to
our king that his fleet hath done its part.t The
Imperialists have opened their campaign with the
taking of Grand-waradin, and everywhere there is
success but where he is that animates all. I confess
to the world it is plain the whole power of France is
here bended against him they fear most, and the
Germans least. By their [the Germans'] slowness or
perfidies, they allow the French time to seize the
most important place in the countries in our king's
view. \ If he [the French king] carry it, I confess,
when he is ruined by sea, this is the most glorious
action he ever did by land ; but I hope he shall find
it either so hard as to repent the undertaking, or that
he must stay so long here with all his forces that
upon all the other quarters he shall suffer more than

* Afterwards General Lord Mark Kerr.

t The British fleet, under Admiral Russell, had just gained a victory
over the French fleet at La Hogue.

J Namur, which was soon after this taken by the French, under
Louis XIV. in person.

182 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1692.

he gains here. But really this is new in the French
king it looks rather like vying for honour than in-
terest ; and it is hard to believe any man hath honour
who would do so base things as to bribe and persuade
men to attempt the king's life, as with sufficient
evidence he hath been doing this season.* . . .
The state of the war is, the French have sufficient
force here both to continue the siege of Namur and to
cover it, for they have an army greater than is betwixt
us;t and the town beyond a little rivulet, which, though
it appears of no consequence, yet all the generals do
oppose that the king should adventure to pass over
upon any army which is stronger than he in cavalry
lying in battalia on the other side, who move on
their side whenever we move, and still have a less
motion, their circuit being within us, to cover the
place. The whole garrison that was in the town is
now in the castle, so many that the governor did only
allow them shelter in the outworks ; but there is want
of nothing in the castle. The fort the king ordered
to be built last year still holds out, and till that be
taken there can be no battery raised against the castle,
which was formerly thought the strongest in this
country ; but I know it will not hold out above a
week after the fort is taken. In the mean time, since
the king [William] keeps all these forces here, who
should be detached for Germany and Savoy, so long
as the place can hold out he ought not to adven-
ture anything upon disadvantage. . . . We may
thank God that, by the victory at sea, Britain is

* This refers to the alleged design of Grandval to assassinate King
William, which was supposed to have been countenanced by the
French minister Louvoy.

t That is, the Allies.


secure ; and since the allies do not pull equally, but
leave the king's person and reputation exposed to
the shock of all, next year he may leave them to
defend themselves, for the proper way to attack
France is by sea. I shall not forget the matter
of the Chancellary, or anything I can that concerns
your Lordship when I find it seasonable ; at present
Scottish affairs are not in head."

In October, after the close of the campaign, the
king and the Master of Stair returned to London
from the Continent. During the reign of William,
Scotchmen of condition and estate were not expected
to leave their own country to visit London and the
court unless by permission of the king, of which there
is evidence in the next letters to Lord Lothian :

" LONDON, Oct. 29, 1692.

" I am extremely content that you incline to pass
a part of this winter here, but the king hath been
peremptor in his commands to Tarbet and Breadal-
bane to return, though they did offer to swear they
had no information of the prohibition. Therefore
his Majesty is not willing to call or allow any to
come up at the same instant ; but shortly I do not
doubt your Lordship will be welcome. At this pre-
sent the affairs of the English Parliament do take his
Majesty up so as the many things that require his
consideration as to Scotland must be for some time
delayed. They [the Parliament] are full of overtures
and displeasure for the success of affairs this
season, and the allies lying by ; but after some time
spent in stuff they will come to give competent sup-

184 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1693.

plies, I hope, for really the bulk of this nation are
affectioned to the Government, and sensible of the
security they enjoy both of their religion and pro-
perty. I wish it were as well with us (in Scotland)
who talk more of religion and consider it less. Your
son is not come over yet ; he staid to get off his
horses, and till this day the wind hath been still
cross, which kept me very long at sea."

" LONDON, Jan. 5, 1693.

" This day your son Sir Charles * took his leave of
his friends ; he goes post, and I believe will be with
you about the time this comes to hand. I sent your
jewel with him as I wrote to your Lordship some
time ago ; he can tell you the value that was put
upon it Both the people to whom it was shown did
always believe it was to be sold, whereby they put
the less estimate upon it ; the value of diamonds falls
daily. I think it could render no more than ^200,
though I know it hath cost abundance more.

" Either it is because the king hath not resolved
whether the [Scottish] Parliament meets or not, and
consequently will not have your Lordship from the
place, or because he hath refused liberty to others,
that he does not consent to your coming here ; but
I daresay it is for no want of kindness to your
Lordship, which makes me the less solicitous, though
really I would be extremely well pleased to have the
satisfaction to wait upon you. . . ."

William proceeded to the Continent in March
1693, leaving his Scottish secretary in London.
* Afterwards Director of the Chancery in Scotland.


The session of the English parliament being closed,
the Scottish parliament was fixed to sit in April.
In Edinburgh, Johnston officiated as secretary of state
for the Government, "having told the Master of
Stair at London that he had an order for this, but
would not make use of it in case he [the Master]
came down, which he did not.""" In anticipation
of the sitting of Parliament, Stair wrote to Lord
Lothian :

The Master of Stair to the Earl of Lothian.

" LONDON, March 24, 1693.

" . . . The session of Parliament though it may
appear odd to be holden in absence of the king, yet
it could hardly be otherwise, for whilst he is in Bri-
tain during the war, the English parliament must
sit ; from whom the great supplies necessary to sup-
port the war are only to be had, and he hath no
reason to allow both parliaments to sit together. I
am sure the king's instructions as to both civil and
Kirk matters are fair, and I doubt not you will give
large supplies as much as you can bear ; -and it -is
shame more was given to another king on wars de-
signing no peace, whereas we are in necessary war.
I tell to yourself that great endeavours have been
made to have either the terms of union with the nor-
thern clergy other than what had been concerted to
the General Assembly, or left indefinite. I thought
this was neither so honourable for you nor safe for
them, so the king keeps to the same terms agreed to
with your Lordship. I wish that the commissioner

* Carstairs State Papers, p. 154.

186 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1693.

to the Parliament [Duke of Hamilton] may be
easy, and that matters may be resolved with amity.
If it prove otherwise, those that have pressed the
meeting [of parliament] and would have it at any
rate, promising to do all that is just or desired in this
session, will do themselves no good if they fail, nor
those they intend to favour. I persuade myself some
people will continue united, as they have been, in the
king's service."

The Same to the Same.

11 LONDON, April i, 1693.

" I think it strange to observe some people retain
a grudge at your Lordship for following faithfully
the instructions you received. ... I still am of
opinion that it is a hard task for a commissioner and
dangerous for their Majesties to hold a parliament in
absence, where there can be no direction given ; yet
I wish and hope that things may be yet done which
are in the Instructions. For my part, if a good thing
be to be done, I shall never wish it miscarry because
it is in other hands. All I wish to say is, that for all
the jealousy and resentments against me, there is fully
more undertaken to be put upon that party than ever
I designed. I shall be glad to see it, though I have
not faith to believe that the Jure divines will come
up to what is undertaken for them.

" I know your Lordship will have some concern
for your friend my Lord Landsdown. He pressed
the king too much for the payment of his arrears
when he was ambassador for King James in Spain ;
he said his father's service to the Government and


his own deserved more justice. The king took that
ill, and said he did injustice to nobody and my Lord
was impertinent, and so went on where he was going,
to the queen's side. My Lord followed, and at the
king's return he said, since his Majesty was pleased
to signify that he was impertinent, he thought it
proper for him to lay down any commissions he had.
. . . My Lord Bath was well paid for what service
he did in delivering Plymouth, so it may be the king
cared the less to have that mentioned to him. My
dear Lord, adieu."

The parliament of Scotland meeting in April
proved unexpectedly tractable and amenable to Gov-
ernment influence. Dissatisfaction with the Master
of Stair and his father on the part of the Presby-
terians prevailed both in and out of Parliament.
Secretary Johnston, the manager for government,
under the king's instructions, although not much a
friend to the Stairs, set his face against any formal
attack upon them ; and notwithstanding the desire of
some of the members, the delicate subject of Glenco
was not once alluded to."*

One particular in the conduct of the Master of
Stair about this time which excited great jealousy
among the zealous Presbyterians, was his readiness
in granting passes for the Continent to Roman Cath-
olics ; young people going to Popish seminaries of

* Secretary Johnston's Letters to Mr Carstairs, Carstairs State Papers,
p. 159 et seq. The Secretary is equally reticent in his private letters ;
and when he writes to Carstairs of the difficulty of keeping the
Parliament from falling on the Master of Stair "for illegal orders," it
can only be conjectured that this expression refers to the affair of

188 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1693.

education, and persons more advanced in life to St
Germains.* No doubt the Jesuits in France were
active in their vocation, and the court of St Ger-
mains was encouraging every kind of intrigue ; but
Sir John Dalrymple (liberal, moreover, in his views of
creeds) was probably actuated by motives of sound
policy in allowing some disaffected Roman Catholics
in the mean time to quit the country, where persons
at home might have been directly influenced by their
Jacobite views.

Two Acts of Parliament were passed this spring
as to which Lord Stair and his son would both un-
questionably be consulted. One was an Act pro-
viding for an Oath of Allegiance and Assurance to
be taken by persons in public trust, including " all
preachers and ministers of the Gospel." By the
oath of assurance they acknowledged William and
Mary to be " the only lawful undoubted sovereigns of
this realm, as well de jure as de facto" &c. Another
Act, " for settling the quiet and peace of the Church,"
provided for ministers qualifying themselves by
taking the oath of allegiance and assurance, sub-
scribing the Confession of Faith, and acknowledging
Presbyterian church government ; and also for the
Estates of Parliament addressing their Majesties to
call a General Assembly, to the end that all ministers
so qualifying should be admitted to partake in the
government of the Church. t

By this provision for calling a General Assembly,
the difficulty which had been occasioned through the
closing of the previous Assembly by the Earl of
Lothian without a day being named for their next

* Carstairs State Papers. t W. & M. 1693, ch. 6 and 22.


meeting, in which the king and the Assembly should
each concur, was in some degree met ; and (passing
over the day named by the Moderator) the 2Qth of
March 1694 was fixed upon for the next sitting. The
General Assembly was accordingly summoned for
that day, with the concurrence of, or at least without
objection from, the ecclesiastical authority. Lord
Carmichael, the royal commissioner to the first
Assembly, was reappointed to the third.

The provision for imposing the oath of allegiance
and assurance upon all ecclesiastics produced a great
ferment in the country, the majority of the Presby-
terian ministers and a majority also of the Episco-
palian clergy being disinclined to comply with it.
Neither party could see their way to declaring Wil-
liam and Mary king and queen de jiire as well as de
facto. The Presbyterians, alleging that no such oath
had ever before been imposed upon the Church, and
chafed by recent proceedings, were jealous of acknow-
ledging a king they were pleased to call Erastian,
being determined to read the oath as involving a
recognition of the royal supremacy in ecclesiastical
matters. The objection of the Episcopalian non-
jurors was more simple and intelligible, resting on a
denial of the legal right of the new family to the

The Privy Council had it in charge to carry the
provisions already mentioned into effect ; the leading
members of Council at the consideration of this mat-
ter being the Lord President Stair and Lord Tarbet.
To the Privy Council, therefore, the Presbyterian
ministers applied in their straits to be relieved from
subscribing the oath of allegiance and assurance ;

190 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1693.

but instead of listening to their request, the Council
recommended to the king to issue an order that every
clerical member of the Assembly about to meet
should subscribe the oath before taking his seat. A
dangerous crisis, hastened by the advice of the two
veteran asserters of what on principle they regarded
as prerogative, was approaching ; the royal com-
missioner sending one " flying packet " to obtain
final directions from the king, and the Assembly
ministers another on the back of it, beseeching the
friendly intervention of Carstairs. By the timely
interposition of the latter with his sovereign, the
putting of the oath at the commencement of the sit-
ting of the Assembly was dispensed with, and a
collision which might have been dangerous to the
Presbyterian Church and to the peace of the country
was averted.*

The name of the Master of Stair does not appear
in any letters or records in connection with this
crucial question. While acting as secretary with the
king in London, it is not unlikely he may have de-
clined to involve himself personally in the course of
proceeding recommended by the Privy Council.

At the meeting of the General Assembly, the
praise of the king and of Mr Carstairs was in every
mouth ; and it is to- the credit of that body that no
ill use was made of the concession which had been
granted to them. They showed their sense of the
king's favour by appointing a commission to receive
Episcopal ministers qualifying themselves in terms
of the recent Act of Parliament ; giving expression
likewise, though without much result, to a more

* Life of Carstairs ; Cunningham's Church History, ii. 306.


charitable consideration of their Episcopal brethren.
They provided at the same time for the supply of
vacant churches.* In regard to the important point
of the calling and adjourning the sittings of the
Assembly, they met the crown half-way ; the Govern-
ment, by advice of Carstairs, being now disposed to
withdraw from the right claimed, which the Master
of Stair had as a statesman contended for, of sum-
moning at pleasure and adjourning meetings of the
General Assembly. After the meeting of the next
Assembly in 1695, an d up to the present day, an
understanding has always been come to upon this
subject between the Sovereign and the Church ; the
royal Commissioner dissolving the Assembly and
appointing the next meeting upon a day agreed
upon, in name of the Crown, while the Moderator of
the Assembly does the same as by authority of the
divine Head of the Church.

* The Toleration Act of Queen Anne gave to the Episcopal com-
munity in Scotland an express legal right to the undisturbed exercise
of their religious worship, so that no Episcopal clergyman could be
imprisoned by the Scottish courts (which was attempted to be done)
for using the English liturgy and prayer-book ; but it was long before
a genuine spirit of toleration, in accordance with William's desire, made
itself practically felt in the Presbyterian strongholds of Scotland.

192 THE STAIR ANNALS. [1695.


A royal Commission issued for inquiring into the massacre of Glenco
Their Report eagerly taken into consideration by Parliament Sub-
stance of the Report, and inconsistent proceedings of the Parliament
Address to the king for measures to be taken against the Master
of Stair His retirement from office.

THE Master of Stair continued to act as secretary of
state in immediate communication with the king
during a considerable part of the year 1695, though
a great deal of Scottish business, not strictly official,
now passed through the hands of the Rev. William
Carstairs.* But the storm which had been gathering
in his wake was now about to overtake him. The
Jacobites were on the watch to convert the accounts
and surmises as to Glenco circulating in society and
the press into a more definite ground of complaint
against the Government ; while the Presbyterians of
the old strain were becoming more and more desir-
ous of gratifying their still subsisting grudge against
the Dalrymple family, and of driving the secretary
from his office.

Passing over a year, the Scottish parliament met in

* In June 1695 we find the Earl of Argyle adding this postscript to
a letter addressed to Carstairs : "I forgot to acquaint Secretary Stair
Earl Lauderdale is dead, which will occasion a vacancy in the Session,
his brother Hatton succeeding him."


May 1695 under the presidency of the Marquis of
Tweeddale as royal commissioner. At the first
meeting of the House, Lord Tweeddale, anticipating
their wishes, announced that a Commission had been
issued in April by his Majesty for inquiring into the
slaughter of the men of Glenco."* This intimation
was well received and duly acknowledged by the
House, and the commissioners proceeded to their
task with all diligence. They examined witnesses,
and called for letters and documents; and, spurred on
by the impatience of Parliament, concluded and sub-
scribed their Report by the 2oth of June. It was
immediately forwarded to the king ; but before the
original or copy sent to the king was returned, the
parliament insisted on the report being read to them.
The document contained a methodical digest of the
facts previous to and at the commission of the
slaughter, and of the relative letters and instructions,
quoting passages from the depositions of the wit-
nesses, and from the letters of Secretary Stair and
the military officers. It concluded upon the whole
matter, as the opinion of the commissioners, " ist,
That it was a great wrong that M'lan of Glenco's
care and diligence as to his taking the oath of alle-
giance on the 6th January 1692, with the sheriff's
certificate thereof, and Colonel Hill's letter to the
sheriff, and the sheriffs letter to the sheriff-clerk for

* The rolls of Parliament bear (May 23, 1695) " That his Majesty's
commission under the Great Seal for an inquiry about' the slaughter
of Glenco was read ; after which it was voted nem. con, that his Ma-
jesty's High Commissioner transmit the humble thanks of the Parlia-
ment to his Majesty for ordering an inquiry in that matter, whereby
the honour and justice of the nation might be vindicated." Act. Parl.
Scot., ix.



clearing Glenco's diligence and innocence, were not
presented to the Privy Council when they were sent to
Edinburgh ; and that those who advised the not pre-
senting thereof were in the wrong, and seem to have
had a malicious design against Glenco ; and that it
was a further wrong, that the certificate of Glenco
having taken the oath was delete after it came to
Edinburgh, and that being so delete, it should
neither have been presented to or taken in by the
clerk of the council without an express warrant from
the council. 2d, That it appeared to have been
known at London and to Secretary Stair in January
that Glenco had taken the oath ; for in his letter of
3Oth January to Sir Thomas Livingstone, the Secre-
tary said, ' I am glad that Glenco came not in within
the time prescribed.' 3d, That there was nothing in
the king's Instructions to warrant the committing of
the foresaid slaughter even as to the thing itself, and
far less as to the manner of it ; and that he ordered
nothing concerning Glenco and his tribe but that if
they could be well separated from the rest, it would
be a proper vindication of public justice to extirpate
that set of thieves ; which plainly intimates that it
was his Majesty's mind that they could not be separ-
ated from the rest of these rebels unless they still
refused his mercy by continuing in arms, and that
even in that case they were only to be proceeded
against in the way of public justice, and no other
way. 4th, That Secretary Stair's letters, especially
those of the nth, i6th, and 3Oth January 1692, were
no ways warranted by, but quite exceeded, the king's
instructions ; since the said letters, without any in-
sinuation of any method that might separate the


Glenco men from the rest, did, in place of prescribing
a vindication of public justice, order them to be cut
off, and rooted out in earnest, and to purpose, and
that suddenly and secretly and quietly, which are the
express terms of the said letters ; and comparing
them and the other letters with what ensued, they
appear to have been the only warrant and cause
of the slaughter, which in effect was a barbarous
murder perpetrated by the persons deponed against.
This being yet farther confirmed by the Master of
Stair's letters to Colonel Hill of 5th March and 3Oth
April 1692 (above referred to)."*

After all the heat occasioned by the reception and
discussion of the report, the parliament, under the
guidance probably of Tweeddale, took a very incon-
sistent view of the whole subject and of the guilt of
the parties concerned. It was voted that the king's
Instructions of January 1692 contained no warrant
for the execution of the Glenco men in February,
and that the Master of Stair's letters exceeded the
king's Instructions.! Another vote, affirming the
execution of the Glenco men, as presented to the
parliament, to be a murder, was also carried.

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Online LibraryJohn Murray GrahamAnnals and correspondence of the viscount and the first and second earls of Stair; (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 28)