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Full text of "The history of Scotland from the accession of Alexander III. to the union"









F.R.S.E. AND F.A.S. 













Morton reduces the Borders, 1 

Killigrew leaves Scotland, 2 

State of Scotland, . . 3 

Grievances of the Kirk, 4 

Morton's exactions, 5 

Killigrew's mission into Scotland, 7 

His interview with James, 8 

State of the country, 9 

Killigrew's Secret Instructions as to Mary, . . . .11 

He leaves Scotland, 13 

Walsingham's remonstrances to Elizabeth, . . . .14 
Killigrew and Davison ordered to proceed to Scotland, . .15 

Affray on the Borders, . 16 

Elizabeth's intemperate message, ib. 

Killigrew arrives in Scotland, 18 

State of the country, 19 

Discontent of the Kirk, 20 

Andrew Melvil, 22 

Plot of Athole and Argyle against Morton, . . . .23 

Mission of Randolph to Scotland, 26 

Success of the plot, 27 

Morton's resignation of the regency, 28 

Randolph leaves Scotland, ib. 

Council of twelve appointed, . .... 29 


Morton's schemes for the recovery of power, . . . .31 

Morton's coalition with Mar, ib. 

Mar and his friends get possession of the king's person, . . 32 

Morton recovers his power, 34 

Parliament at Stirling, 35 

Opposition of Lindsay and Montrose, 36 

Argyle and Athole assemble their forces, . . . .37 

Bowes reconciles the two factions, 3$ 

Unsettled state of the country, 40 

Intrigues in favour of Mary, 41 

Destruction of the house of Hamilton, . . . . .44 

Death of the Earl of Athole, 47 

Meeting of the General Assembly at Edinburgh, . . .48 
Esme" Stewart, afterwards Duke of Lennox, arrives in Scotland, 49 

He becomes the king's favourite, 51 

Parliament at Edinburgh, 52 

Poverty of the crown, 53 

Reports of attempts to seize the king's person, . . . .55 
Elizabeth sends Sir R. Bowes into Scotland, . . . .58 

Lennox professes himself a Protestant, 59 

The ambassador's interview with James, . . . . ib. 

His secret message to the king, 60 

Bowes leaves Scotland, 62 




Wavering measures of Elizabeth, 63 

Lennox's increasing power, ....... 64 

Alarm of Elizabeth, ib. 

Bowes' mission to Scotland, 65 

Its failure, ib. 

Lennox resolves to destroy Morton, 66 

Rise of Captain James Stewart, ...... 67 

Morton accused of Darnley's Murder, 68 

He is confined in Dumbarton, 70 

Randolph sent by Elizabeth into Scotland, . . . . ib. 

His audience of the king, 7i 



His great efforts to save Morton, 73 

Intrigues and plots against Lennox, 75 

Elizabeth encourages them, 77 

Douglas of Whittingham reveals the whole, . , . .78 

Randolph retires, ib. 

Morton's trial and condemnation, 79 

His execution, 83 

Great power of Lennox, 85 

He is created a duke, . . 86 

Miserable condition of the Queen of Scots, . . . .88 

Her memorial to Elizabeth, 89 

Struggle between Episcopacy and Presbyterianism, . . .90 

Second book of Discipline, 91 

Montgomery made Bishop of Glasgow, ib. 

Proceedings of the Kirk against him, 92 

Mission of Captain Arrington into Scotland, . . . . ib. 
The party of the Kirk alarmed by reports from France, . .93 

The ministers admonish the king, 94 

John Durie's interview with Signor Paul, . . . .97 

Durie rebukes the king, 98 

He is ordered to quit the city, ...... ib. 

Montgomery excommunicated, ...... 99 

General Assembly, 100 

Violent debates, 101 

Durie banished, 102 

Grievances of the Kirk, 103 

Boldness of Andrew Melvil, 104 

Band against Lennox, ib. 

Montgomery driven from Edinburgh, 106 

Lennox's obstinacy, 107 

Raid of Ruthven, 109 

Conduct of the ministers of the Kirk, Ill 

Mr James Lawson's sermon, 112 

Sir George Carey sent into Scotland, ib. 

Randolph's exultation, 113 

Lennox's irresolution, 114 





Durie's triumphant return to Edinburgh, . . . .116 

Sir George Carey's interview with James, . .117 

The Kirk vindicates the Raid of Ruthven, . . .119 

Death and character of Buchanan, 120 

General Assembly, 122 

Elizabeth's attempt to recover the letters of Mary to Bothwell, 123 

Pitiable situation of the king, 124 

Lennox leaves Scotland, 125 

The ministers send Mr John Colvile to Elizabeth, . . .126 

Fowler's disclosures of French intrigues, 128 

Archibald Douglas betrays Mary's secrets to Walsingham, . 129 
Arrival of Menainville, the French ambassador, . . .130 

Alarm of the Kirk, 131 

Interview of the ministers with James, . . . . . ib. 

Menainville's boldness, 132 

The ministers denounce La Motte and Menainville, . . .133 
John Colvile and Colonel Stewart sent to Elizabeth, . .135 

Menainville's successful intrigues against the Protestant lords, 136 

The Queen of Scots' letter to Elizabeth, 139 

Mary's interview with Beal, . . . . . . .140 

Projected " Association" between Mary and her son in the go- 
vernment, 141 

Elizabeth sounds James on this subject, 142 

James' aversion to any " Association," 143 

Menainville leaves Scotland, 145 

Colonel Stewart and Colvile's proceedings in England, . . ib. 

Elizabeth's extreme parsimony, 146 

Death of Lennox in France, . . . . . . .147 

James deceives Bowes, . . . . . . . .148 

The king escapes from the Ruthven lords, .... 149 

The Earl of Arran resumes his power, 150 

Mar and Augus fly, ........ ib- 

Raid of Ruthven declared treason, . . . . . . ib. 

Singular interview between the king and the ministers, . . l&l 
Walsingham's embassy to Scotland, 155 



His interview with James, 156 

Walsingham's intrigues, 157 

Discovered and defeated by Arran, 158 

Proceedings against the Ruthven lords, . . . . .159 

Flight of Andrew Melvil, 160 

Arrival of the young Duke of Lennox from France, . .- ib. 

Intrigues of Bowes and Walsingham, 162 

Discovered and defeated, .164 

Arran and the king's offers to Elizabeth, . . . . ib. 

Elizabeth's difficulties between the two parties, . . .165 

Colvile's remonstrances, 166 

The intrigues of Col vile and Gowrie, 167 

Gowrie seized, ......... ib. 

Flight of Mar and Angus, 168 

Flight of the ministers to England, 169 

Artifice Against Gowrie, ........ 170 

Gowrie's trial, ib. 

His behaviour and execution, 171 



Unlimited power of Arran, 174 

Elizabeth's difficulties, 175 

Parliament at Edinburgh, . . . . . . .177 

Mr David Lindsay imprisoned, 178 

Davison sent to Scotland, 179 

His conversation with Sir James Melvil, 180 

Davison's audience of the king, 182 

Da vison's picture of the country, 183 

Preponderance of French influence, 186 

Elizabeth's anxieties, 189 

Her crafty policy, 190 

She appoints Lord Hunsdon to confer with Arran, . . .191 
Davison's intrigues with the banished lords, . . .192 

Meeting between Hunsdon and Arran, . . . . .194 
Master of Gray betrays Mary's interests, . . . .197 

State of opposite factions, , 200 

Sir Edward Hoby and Arran's secret interview, . . . 202 



Arran's pride and oppression, 203 

Severity to the Countess of Gowrie, 204 

Plot of Arran to assassinate Angus, 205 

Persecution of the Kirk, 207 

Hewison's sermon, 208 

Mr David Lindsay's vision, 209 

Master of Gray's embassy to Elizabeth . . . . .211 

James' letter to Lord Burghley, 212 

Gray's offers to Elizabeth, 215 

Intrigues of Elizabeth against Arran, ..... 216 
Gray defeats the project of an association between James and 

Mary, 218 

Persecution of the Kirk, 219 

Submission of some ministers, ....... ib. 

Arran's violence, 220 

Sir Edward Wotton sent to Scotland, 221 

Intrigues against Arran, ........ 222 

Proposals for his assassination, ...... 224 

Wotton's embarrassment, ....... 225 

Lord Russell slain, 227 

Projected league with England, 229 

Plot of Gray for the return of the Protestant lords, . . 230 

Encouraged by Wotton, 231 

Arran's counterplots, ...... .234 

Wotton's personal danger, 235 

Gray designs to cut off Arran, 237 

Enterprise of the Protestant lords, 238 

Flight of Sir Edward Wotton, 239 

Arran's flight from Stirling, 240 

Angus, Mar, and their friends, occupy Stirling, . . .241 

Interview with James, . ib. 

Elizabeth sends Sir William Knolles to Scotland, . . . 243 

Interview with James, 244 

Randolph's mission, ib. 

Favourably received by James, ...... 246 

League between James and Elizabeth signed, .... 247 

Elizabeth's parsimony, 249 

Terms of the league, 250 

Elizabeth intercedes for Archibald Douglas, . . . .251 
Douglas' return and pardon, .... . 252 





Elizabeth's object in sending Archibald Douglas to Scotland, 254 

Babington's conspiracy, 255 

Retrospect of Mary's proceedings, ...... 256 

Throckmorton's plot in 1584, 258 

Walsingham's system of espionage, 259 

Walsingham's tools and assistants, ib. 

Ballard and Babington's two plots, 260 

Mary's design for her escape, ib. 

Savage's design to slay Elizabeth, 261 

Ballard's introduction to Babington, 263 

Six gentlemen resolve to assassinate Elizabeth, . . , 264 

Mary's letter to Charles Paget, 265 

Progress of the plot, 270 

Perilous situation of Mary, 273 

Observations, ib. 

Nau and Curie, 274 

Letter to Babington, 275 

Intercepted by Walsingham, 276 

Mary to Morgan, 277 

Nau to Babington, 278 

Phelipps repairs to Chartley, 280 

Babington's alleged letter to Mary, 282 

Curie to Gifford, 283 

Mary's alleged letter to Babington, 284 

Observations, 286 

Forged postscript, 287 

Contents of Mary's alleged letter, 288 

Walsingham's mode of proceeding, 291 

Babington's suspense and difficulty, 293 

Babington's flight, 294 

Elizabeth informed of the plot, ib. 

Her advice to Walsingham, . . . . . . . 295 

Mary carried to Tixall, ........ 297 

Her papers and letters seized, ....... ib. 

Eli/abeth's joy, ...... . . ib 



Babington and his companions apprehended, .... 298 

Elizabeth's fears as to their trials, ib. 

Her directions for increasing the pain of the executions, . . 299 

Mary brought back to Chartley, 300 

Examinations of Nau and Curie, 302 

Burghley's unfeeling letter, 303 

Confessions of Nau and Curie, ...... 304 

Commission for Mary's trial, 306 

Mary's spirited reply on hearing of Elizabeth's resolution, . 307 

Mary refuses to plead, ........ 309 

Elizabeth's letter to Mary, 310 

Mary consents to appear before the commissioners, . . .311 

The commissioners repair to Fotheringay, . . . . ib. 

Trial of Mary, 312 

Mary's answer to the charge, 313 

Burghley's reply, 316 

Mary's second answer, 317 

Proceedings of the second day, 319 

Mary accuses Walsingham, ib. 

She renews her protestation, ....... 320 

The court adjourns abruptly, 322 

Burghley's letter to Davison, ....... ib. 

Court meets again at Westminster, 323 

Remarks, 324 

Meeting of parliament, 325 

Parliament petition Elizabeth to execute Mary, . . . ib. 

Her reply, . . 326 

Mary informed of the sentence, 327 

Paulet's brutal conduct to Mary, 328 

Mary's last letter to Elizabeth, 329 

Henry the Third intercedes for Mary, 331 

Elizabeth's violence, ib. 

The King of Scots' efforts to save his mother, .... 332 

Embassy of Sir W. Keith, 334 

Elizabeth's anger, 336 

Embassy of the Master of Gray and Sir R. Melvil, . . . ib. 

Their interview with Elizabeth, .... . 338 

Ministers of the Kirk refuse to pray for Mary, . . 339 

Elizabeth's fears and irresolution, 340 

She signs the warrant for Mary's execution, . . . .341 
Her instructions to Davison recommending the private assassina- 
tion of Mary, ......... ib. 



Letter to Sir Amias Paulet, 343 

Paulet's reply, 344 

Davison's interview with Elizabeth, ..... 345 

The council send off the warrant, 346 

Mary's firmness, 347 

Her reply on being told to prepare for death, .... 348 

Her conduct before her execution, 350' 

Her parting with Sir Andrew Melvil, 354 

Her devotions, and behaviour on the scaffold, .... 356 

She is beheaded, 358 





I. Attack on Stirling, 2Gth April, 1578, . . . .363 
II. Composition between Morton and his enemies, . , 365 

III. Destruction of the house of Hamilton by Morton in 1579, 366 

IV. Poisoning of the Earl of Athole, and state of parties in 
Scotland, 368 

V. James' letter to Mary, 371 

VI. Randolph's negotiation in Scotland, and Elizabeth's at- 
tempt to save Morton, . . . . . . .372 

VII. Letters on the troubles, trial, and death of the Regent 

Morton, 378 

VIII. Scottish preaching in 1582. John Durie's sermon, . 382 
IX. Sir Robert Bowes to Walsingham, written immediately 
previous to the Raid of Ruthven, 15th Aug. 1582, . 384 

X. Archibald Douglas to Randolph, 385 

XI. The Duke of Lennox's last letter to the King of Scots, . 386 
XII. The king's recovery of his liberty in 1583, . . .388 
XIII. Walsingham's embassy to the Scottish court in September 

1583, 389 



XV. Queen Mary's beads, 402 









Germany. I Spain. 

Charles IX. Maximilian II. Philip II. 
Henry in. I Rudolph II. I 


Gregory XIIL 

SCOTLAND was now at peace ; and the regent, having 
nothing to fear from domestic enemies or foreign in- 
trigue, addressed himself with great energy and success 
to reduce the country to order. The Border districts, 
at all times impatient under the restraints of a firm 
government, had, during the late civil commotions, 
become the scene of the utmost violence and confusion; 
but Morton, advancing from Peebles to Jedburgh with 
a force of four thousand men, soon compelled the prin- 
cipal chiefs to respect the law and give pledges for their 
obedience,* Sir James Hume of Coldingknowes, was 
then appointed Warden of the East, Lord Maxwell of 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, The Regent to Lord Burghley, Kelso, 
August 30 1573. 



the West, and Sir John Carmichael of the Middle 
Marches ; * and the regent had leisure to renew his 
correspondence and confirm his ties with England. 

Some time before this, when Killigrew, after his 
successful embassy, returned to the English court,-f- 
Morton had sent a memorial to Elizabeth,]: in which 
he pointed out the principles upon which he proposed 
to regulate his future government. He declared the 
grateful feelings entertained by himself and the people, 
for her late assistance in quieting their troubled coun- 
try, and reducing it under the king's obedience. He 
urged the necessity of entering into a mutual league 
for the maintenance of the Protestant religion and its 
professors against the Council of Trent; and suggested 
the expediency of a contract or band for mutual defence 
from foreign invasion. || In a letter written at the 
same time to Burghley, he pointed out the heavy 
charges which he had incurred, and requested pecuni- 
ary assistance, as it would still be necessary for him to 
provide against any renewed rebellion by keeping up a 
body of troops; and he, lastly, reminded Elizabeth that 
Mary, the root of all the evil, was still in her power, 
and at her disposal. " The ground of the trouble," 
said he, " remains in her Majesty's hands and power; 
whereunto I doubt not her highness will put order 
when she thinks time, so as presently I will not be 
further curious thereauent, abiding the knowledge of 
her majesty's mind, how she shall think convenient 
to proceed in that behalf." II It appears from this 
sentence, that the regent invited the English queen 

* Diurnal of Occurrents in Scotland, p. 337. Spottiswood, p. 272. 
+ June 29. 

+ Copy, State-paper Office, Memoirs of me, the Lord Regent of Scotland, 
to the Queen's Majesty of England's Ambassador, &c., 2Gth June, 1573. 
Ibid. || Ibid. 

If MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Morton to Burghley, 25th June, 1573. 


to renew the negotiations for putting Mary to death 
in Scotland, which were so suddenly broken off by 
the decease of Mar ; and indeed, some time before the 
surrender of the castle of Edinburgh, Killigrew, the 
ambassador, wrote to Burghley, that he had given 
Morton a strong hint upon the subject. He stated, 
that in a conversation which took place in the palace, 
the regent had declared, that as long as the Scottish 
queen lived, there would be treason, troubles, and mis- 
chief ; to which, said Killigrew, " I answered he might 
help that ; and he said, when all was done, he thought 
at the next parliament * * to prove the noblemen 
after this concord, to see what might be done. 11 * We 
do not find, however, that Elizabeth at this moment 
gave any encouragement to the renewal of this nefari- 
ous negotiation. 

All was now quiet in Scotland, and it is remarkable 
that, notwithstanding the miseries of the civil war, the 
general prosperity of the country had been progressive. 
Commerce and trade had increased ; and whilst the 
power of the high feudal lords was visibly on the de- 
cay, the middle classes had risen in importance ; and 
the great body of the people, instructed in their poli- 
tical duties by the sermons of the clergy, and acquiring 
from the institution of parish schools a larger share of 
education and intelligence, began to appreciate their 
rights, and to feel their own strength. There is a 
passage in a letter of Killigrew, which is worthy of 
notice upon this subject. " Methinks, 11 said this acute 
observer, "I see the noblemen's great credit decay in 
this country, and the barons, burrows, and such like, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, The Regent to Lord Burghley, Holyrood, 
26th June, 1573. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Killigrew to Burgli- 
ley, 4th March, 1572-3. 


take more upon them ; the ministers and religion 
increase, and the desire in them to prevent the practices 
of the Papists ; the number of able men for service 
very great, and well furnished both on horse and foot ; 
their navy so augmented, as it is a thing almost in- 
credible. 11 * It is to be recollected, that Killigrew 1 s last 
visit to Scotland had been in 1567, immediately after 
the murder of the king ; and that the remarkable 
change which he now noticed, had taken place in the 
brief period of five years. 

This flourishing state of things, however, did not 
long continue ; for although the regent was justly 
entitled to the praise of restoring security and order, 
and his vigour in the punishment of crime, and the 
maintenance of the authority of the laws, was superior 
to that of any former governor, there was one vice 
which stained his character, and led to measures of an 
unpopular and oppressive kind. This was avarice : 
and he found the first field for its exercise in an attack 
upon the patrimony of the Kirk. He had the address 
to persuade the Presbyterian clergy, that it would 
be the best thing for their interests to resign at once 
into his hands the thirds of the benefices, which had 
been granted for their support by a former parliament. 
Their collectors, he said, were often in arrear; but his 
object would be, to make the stipend local, and payable 
in each parish where they served. This would be a 
better system ; and if it failed, they should, upon 
application, be immediately reinstated in their right 
and possession. f The plan was agreed to, but was 
followed by immediate repentance on the part of the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Killigrew to Burghley, llth November, 
t Spottiswood, p. 273. 


clergy ; as the moment Morton became possessed of 
the thirds, his scheme of spoliation was unmasked. 
The course he followed was, to appoint two, three, or 
even four churches to one minister, who was bound to 
preach in them by turns ; and at the same time he 
placed in every parish a reader, whose duty was to 
officiate in the minister's absence, and to whom a 
miserable pittance of twenty or forty pounds Scots 
was assigned. Having thus allotted to the Church 
the smallest possible sum, he seized the overplus for 
himself; and when the clergy, sensible of their error, 
petitioned to be reinstated in their property, as had 
been promised, they were at first met with delays, and 
at last peremptorily told, that the appointment of the 
stipends ought properly to belong to the regent and 

Nothing could be more distressing and degrading to 
this independent body of men than such a state of 
things. Before this, when their stipend was defective, 
they had an appeal to the superintendants, who, if not 
always able, were at least solicitous to relieve them. 
Now, they were compelled to become suitors at court, 
where their importunate complaints met only with 
ridicule and neglect. All this misery was justly laid to 
the regent's account; and although once their favour- 
ite, as a steady friend to the Eeformation, he became 
highly unpopular with the clergy. 

But if the grasping avarice of Morton fell heavy on 
the ministers of the Kirk, their woes were little to the 
miseries of the lower classes, more especially the arti- 
sans, merchants, and burgesses of the capital. Many of 
these had remained in the city during the time of the 
late troubles. These were now treated as rebels, who 
had resisted the king's authority; and they found 


that they must either submit to a public trial, or 
purchase security by payment of a heavy fine. The 
sum thus collected, was intended at first to be divided 
between the State and the citizens whose houses and 
property had been destroyed ; but it followed the fate 
of all monies paid into the coffers of this rapacious 

Another source of complaint arose out of those 
Itinerant Courts, denominated Justice Ayres, and held 
in different parts of the kingdom ; which, under his 
administration, became little else than parts of a system 
of legal machinery, invented to overawe and plunder 
all classes in the country. To supply them with vic- 
tims, he kept in pay a numerous body of informers, 
whose business it was to discover offences. Nor was 
it difficult to bring forward accusations of almost every 
possible nature, after so many years of a divided go- 
vernment, in which men, at one time or another, had 
been compelled to acknowledge very opposite authori- 
ties : now that of the king and his regent ; now, of the 
queen or her partisans. Ample ground was thus found 
for every species of prosecution: against merchants 
for transporting coin out of the realm, against Pro- 
testants for transgressing the statute by eating flesh 
in Lent, against the poorer artisans or labourers for 
the mere remaining in a town or city which was occu- 
pied by the queen's forces. As to those whose only 
offence was to be rich, their case was the worst of all ; 
for to have a full purse, and " thole " * a heavy fine to 
the regent, were become synonymous terms. 

These were not Morton's only resources. His peti- 
tions to Elizabeth for support were importunate and 
incessant; nor did he fail to remind her, that as it was 

* " Thole," undergo. 


by her "allowance and advice that he had entered 
upon the Regency, so he confidently expected her aid, 
especially in money, and pensions bestowed upon his 
friends." Although universally reputed rich, he dwelt 
pathetically on his limited revenue compared with his 
vast outlay ; and in the letter to Burghley, which pre- 
ferred these requests, he at the same time earnestly 
recommended Elizabeth to keep a watchful eye upon 
France, as the noted Adam Gordon, who had already 
done so much mischief in the North, was now received 
at the French court, and had offered, if properly sup- 
ported, to overthrow the king's government in Scot- 

This news seems to have alarmed the English queen ; 
for, not long after, she again despatched Killigrew 
into that country. Her avowed object was to learn the 
state of public feeling, and the disposition of the regent; 
"whether he was constant in his affection towards 
England ; how his government was liked by the people ; 
whether the Scottish queen had yet any party there ; 
and, above all, to discover whether France was intrigu- 
ing, as had been reported, to get possession of the young 
king." To the regent's proposal for a defensive and 
religious league, he was instructed to reply, that she 
deemed such a measure at present unnecessary; al- 
though, in any emergency, he might look confidently 
to her support. As to his request for money, Killi- 
grew was, as delicately as he could, to "waive" all dis- 
cussion upon the subject. 

Here, however, as in the former embassy, there was a 
mission within a mission ; and the envoy's open in- 
structions embraced not the whole, nor even the most 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, The Regent Morton to Burghley, Jan. 
21, 1573-4, Haddington. 


material part of the object for which he was sent. He 
was enjoined by Burghley and Leicester (doubtless, as 
before, with Elizabeth's knowledge and advice) to renew 
the negotiation for "the great matter ;" the project 
for having Mary put to death in her own country, and 
by her own subjects. Unfortunately the written orders 
upon this point are now lost ; but immediately upon 
his arrival in Edinburgh, the ambassador communicated 
to Walsingham his fears that they had suffered the 
time for the accomplishment of so desirable a result to 
go by.* 

On examining the state of the country, Killigrew 
became convinced that his sovereign and the English 
had lost popularity since his late residence in Scotland. 
The regent, although professing his usual devotion, 
appeared more distant and reserved. The queen's 
coldness on the subject of the proposed league, and her 
evasion of his requests for pensions, had produced no 
good effect ; and some piracies committed by English 
subjects upon Scottish merchantmen, had occasioned 
great popular discontent. 

Not long after the ambassador's arrival, he repaired 
to Stirling, where he was introduced to the young 
king, who had very recently completed his eighth year; 
and, after the interview, he sent this interesting por- 
trait of him to Walsingham : " Since my last unto 
you," said he, "I have been at Stirling to visit the king 
in her majesty's name, and met by the way the Countess 
of Mar coming to Edinburgh, to whom I did her ma- 
jesty's commendations. 

" The king seemed to be very glad to hear from her 

* MS. State-paper Office, " Instructions given to Henry Killigrew, Esq., 

. M._ 00 \f,A * j v_ r , , AlsQ> M g Ler o. , 

1574, Berwick. 

iu. uii nee, instructions givei _, __.., _,., 

&c." May '22, 1574, Signed by Walsingham. Also, MS. Letter, State- 
paper Office, Killigrew to Walsingham, June 8, " 


majesty, and could use pretty speeches : as, how much 
he was bound unto her majesty, yea, more than to his 
own mother. And at my departure, he prayed me to 
thank her majesty for the good remembrance she had 
of him ; and further desired me to make his hearty 
commendations unto her majesty. His grace is well 
grown, both in body and spirit, since I was last here. 
He speaketh the French tongue marvellous well; and 
that which seems strange to me, he was able, extempore, 
(which he did before me,) to read a chapter of the Bible 
out of Latin into French, and out of French after into 
English, so well, as few men could have added any- 
thing to his translation. His schoolmasters, Mr George 
Buchanan and Mr Peter Young, rare men, caused me 
to appoint the king what chapter I would ; and so did 
I, whereby I perceived it was not studied for. They 
also made his highness dance before me, which he 
likewise did with a very good grace ; a prince sure of 
great hope, if God send him life." * 

The English ambassador remained in Scotland for 
more than two months, during which time he had ample 
opportunities to make himself acquainted with the 
state of the country. He found the regent firm in his 
government, universally obeyed, somewhat more feared 
than loved; but bold, decisive, and clear-headed in the 
adoption and execution of such measures as he deemed 
necessary to establish quiet and good order in the realm. 

The general prosperity of all classes of the people 
surprised him. He had, to use his own expression, left 
the country " in a consumption," distracted and im- 
poverished by a long continuance of civil war.-f He 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Killigrew to Walsingham, 30th June, 

t This must allude to his last visit but one, i. e. in 1567 ; for in 1572 he 
described it as rapidly improving. Supra, p. 3. 


had expected, on his return, to meet with the same 
melancholy state of things ; but to his astonishment, 
the nation, as he described it to Burghley and Wal- 
singham, had recovered itself with a rapidity of which 
he found it difficult to assign the cause. Its commerce 
and manufactures were in a flourishing condition, the 
people seemed to have forgotten their miseries, the 
nobles were reconciled to each other, and universally 
acknowledged the king's authority. Although French 
intrigue was still busy, and the captive queen attempted 
to keep up a party, the uncommon vigilance of Morton 
detected and put down all her practices. Formerly, 
the people, broken, bankrupt, and dispirited, were glad 
to sue for the protection of England, and the nobles 
were eager in their ofl'ers to Elizabeth. Now, to use 
Killigrew's phrase, they were "lusty and indepen- 
dent ; " they talked as those who would be sued to ; 
their alliance, they said, had been courted by "great 
monarchies ; " and they complained loudly of the attack 
and plunder of their merchantmen by the English 
pirates. On this subject the regent expressed himself 
keenly, and was greatly moved. He dwelt, too, on 
other causes of dissatisfaction. The rejection of the 
proposed league by Elizabeth; her silence as to sending 
him any aid, or granting any pensions ; the delay in 
giving back the ordnance which had been taken by 
the English, and other lighter subjects of complaint, 
were all recapitulated ; and it was evident to Killigrew 
that there was an alteration in the relative position 
of the two countries, which he assured Walsingharn 
would not be removed by mere words of compliment.* 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Killigrew to Walsingham, June 23, 
1574. Ibid. Same to same, 24th June, 1574. MS. Letter, State-paper 
Office, Killigrew to Walsingham, 18th June, 1574. 


The ambassador anxiously impressed upon Elizabeth 
and her ministers, that the Scots were no longer de- 
pendent upon England; and as to attempting to make 
anyimpression upon the regent in "the great matter," * 
which Leicester and Burghley were solicitous should 
be again secretly discussed, it seemed to him 'a vain 
idea at present. If Morton were to consent to put 
Mary to death on her delivery into his hands, it would 
only be, as he soon perceived, by the offer of a far 
higher bribe than Elizabeth was disposed to give; and 
by the settlement of large annuities on such of the 
nobles as were confidants to his cruel design. Killi- 
grew was so assured of the backwardness of his royal 
mistress upon this point, and the determination of the 
regent not to move without such inducement, that he 
begged to be allowed to return. " I see no cause," 
said he to Walsingham, " why I should remain here 
any longer * * * especially if you resolve not 
upon the league, nor upon pensions, which is the surest 
ground I do see to build 'the great matter "* upon, 
without which small assurance can be made. I pray 
God we prove not herein like those who refused the 
three volumes of Sibylla's prophecies, with the price 
which afterwards they were glad to give for one that 
was lost; for sure I left the market here better cheap 
than now I find it."-f 

The Queen of England, however, was not to be so 
easily diverted from any object upon which she con- 
sidered the safety of herself and her kingdom to depend, 
and she insisted that her ambassador should remain 
and accompany the regent in his Northern progress, 

* The having Mary put to death in Scotland. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Killigrew to Walsingham, 12th July, 
1 574, Edinburgh. MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Killigrew to Walsing- 
ham, 23d June, 1574. 


upon which he was about to enter.* " I think it not 
convenient,"" said Walsingham to him, in a letter of 
the eighteenth July, " that you be recalled till such 
time as you have advertised how you find the regent 
affected touching 'the great matter' you had in com- 
mission to deal in ; and therefore I think fit you ac- 
company the regent till you be revoked." -f 1 

In the meantime, Elizabeth held a secret conference 
with Leicester, Burghley, and Walsingham, and ap- 
pears to have herself suggested a new scheme for getting 
rid of Mary. It is unfortunately involved in much 
obscurity, owing to the letter in which it is alluded to 
being written partly in cipher ; but it was disapproved 
of by Walsingham, apparently on the ground that it 
would be dangerous to send the Scottish queen into 
Scotland without an absolute certainty that she should 
be put to death. J 

The English queen was evidently distracted be- 
tween the fear of two dangers one, the retaining Mary 
within her dominions, which experience had taught 
her was the cause of constant plots and practices ; the 
other, the delivering her to the Scots, an expedient 
which, unless it were carried through in the way pro- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Killigrew to Walsingham, June 23, 

t MS. Letter, draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Killigrew, July 
18, 1574. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Killigrew, Woodstock, 
July 30, 1574. Killigrew accordingly accompanied the regent in his 
Northern progress ; and, on their arrival at Aberdeen, held a secret con- 
sultation on the great matter; but unfortunately, the letters in which we 
might have looked for a particular account of what took place have disap- 
peared. All that we know with certainty is, that the ambassador returned 
soon after to the English court, (Aug. 16;) and that in a brief memorandum 
of such things as the regent desired him to remember in his conferences 
with the Queen of England, is this slight note: "What further is to he 
looked for in that which passed betwixt us at Aberdeen, touching the matter 
of greatest moment." MS. Memorandum, State-paper Office, August 16, 


posed by Burghley and Leicester, in 1572* that is, 
under a positive agreement that she should be put to 
death, was, as they justly thought, full of peril. Mor- 
ton, however, although he had shown himself perfectly 
willing to receive Mary under this atrocious condition, 
continued firm in his resolution not to sell his services 
for mere words. He, too, insisted on certain terms ; 
especially an advance in money, and pensions to his 
friends. But the queen deemed his demands exorbi- 
tant ; and, as was not unfrequent with her when pressed 
by a difficulty from which she saw no immediate escape, 
she dismissed the subject from her mind, and unwisely 
took refuge in delay. In this manner "the great 
matter" for the present was allowed to sleep; and 
Mary owed her life to the parsimony of Elizabeth, and 
the avarice of the Scottish regent.-f- 

Killigrew not long after left Scotland, and on part- 
ing with him, Morton assured Leicester, in a letter 
which this ambassador carried with him, "that no 
stranger had ever departed from that country with 
greater liking and contentment of the people." J He 
requested him at the same time, on his return to the 
English court, to communicate with the queen and 
council, upon some subjects of import, which required 
a speedy answer. These embraced the dangers to 
which the Protestant interest in Scotland was exposed 
from continental intrigue ; but to the regents morti- 
fication, many months elapsed before any answer was 
received. At last, Walsingham, alarmed by the apathy 
of Elizabeth, and the continued practices of herenemies, 

* Vol. Seventh of this History, pp. 319, 320. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, The Regent to Leicester, August 16, 
1574, Aberdeen. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Morton to Leicester, 16th August, 


endeavoured, in a letter of free remonstrance, to rouse 
his mistress to a sense of her peril. He told her, that 
he had recently received a despatch from the Scottish 
regent, and with it some intercepted papers of the 
Bishop of Ross, which required instant consideration. 
They would convince her, he trusted, how utterly 
hollow were the promises of France and Spain, and to 
what imminent danger she was exposed from "unsound 
subjects at home." He besought her deeply to weigh 
the matter, and " set to " her hand for the protection 
of her realm: observed that, "Though the Cardinal of 
Lorrain were dead, he had left successors enough to 
execute his plots;"" and conjured her to use expedition, 
before the hidden sparks of treason, now smouldering 
within the realm, should break out into an unquench- 
able fire. " For the love of God, madam," said he, 
" let not the case of your diseased estate hang longer 
in deliberation. Diseased estates are no more cured 
by consultation without execution, than unsound 
bodies by mere conference with the physician; and 
you will perceive by his letters, how much the regent 
is aggrieved." * 

For a moment these strong representations alarmed 
Elizabeth, and she talked of sending Killigrew or 
Randolph immediately into Scotland ; -f but her rela- 
tions with France occasioned new delays. She had 
entered into an amicable correspondence with Cathe- 
rine de Medicis. The Duke D'Alen^oii still warmly 
prosecuted his marriage suit ; and although the Eng- 

* MS. Letter, draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Elizabeth, Jan. 
15, 1574-5. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Edward Gary to Walsingham, 17th 
January, 1574-5. Also, Original draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to 
the Queen, 20th March, 1574-5. In the midst of these anticipated troubles, 
died, at his palace of Hamilton, the Duke of Chastelherault, better known 
by the name of the Regent Arran, on the 22d January, 1574-5. 

1574-5. REGENCY OF MORTON. 15 

lish queen had not the slightest intentions of granting 
it, she, as usual, dallied and coquetted with the pro- 
posal. In the midst of all, Charles the Ninth died ; 
the queen became engrossed with the speculations and 
uncertainties which follow a new succession ; and Mor- 
ton, irritated by neglect, was driven by resentment 
and necessity to cultivate the friendship of that party 
in Scotland which was devoted to France. 

This alienation was soon detected by Walsingham, 
who wrote in alarm to Burghley, and on the succeed- 
ing day to Elizabeth, adjuring her, " for the love of 
God, to arrest the impending mischief, and secure the 
Scottish amity, which of all others stood them at that 
moment in greatest stead. Already,"" he said, " the 
regent was conferring favours on the Hamiltons, who 
were entirely French ; already he was plotting to get 
the young King of Scots out of the hands of his 
governor, Alexander Erskine ; Henry the Third, the 
new King of France, was well known to be devoted 
to the house of Guise ; and with such feelings, what 
was to be expected, but that the moment he had quieted 
the disturbances in his own realm, he would keenly 
embrace the cause of the Scottish queen V * 

Elizabeth was at last roused, and gave orders for 
the despatch of Henry Killigrew into Scotland, ac- 
companied by Mr Davison, afterwards the celebrated 
secretary, whom he was directed to leave as English 
resident at the Scottish court. "J* But before the am- 
bassador crossed the Border, an affray broke out, which 
threatened the most serious consequences, and arrested 

* MS. Letter, Original draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Burghley, 
llth April, 1575. Also, State-paper Office, Original draft, Walsingham 
to Elizabeth, T2th April, 1575. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Orig. Instructions to Henry Killigrew, 27th 
May, 1575. 


him at Berwick. At a Warden Court, held by Sir John 
Forster, Warden of the Middle Marches, and Sir John 
Carmichael, Keeper of Liddesdale, a dispute arcse which 
led to high words between these two leaders; and their 
followers, taking fire, assaulted each other. The Scots 
at first were repulsed, but being joined by a body of 
their countrymen from Jedburgh, rallied, and attacked 
and totally routed the English. Sir John Heron, Keeper 
of Tynedale, was slain ; whilst Sir John Forster, Sir 
Francis Russell, Sir Cuthbert Collingwood, Mr Ogle, 
Mr Fenwick, and about three hundred men, were made 
prisoners, and carried by the Earl of Angus to the 
regent at Dalkeith. Morton received them with much 
courtesy, dismissed the prisoners of inferior rank, and 
expressed, in a letter to Elizabeth, his readiness to 
afford redress: but he detained the Lord Warden; and 
when the queen insisted that the regent should meet 
Lord Huntingdon, the President of the North, in a 
personal conference in England, he peremptorily re- 
fused. Such a proceeding, he said, was beneath the 
dignity of the office he held ; but he offered to send 
the Justice-clerk to arrange a meeting in Scotland.* 

On being informed of this, Elizabeth, already chafed 
by the detention of her warden, broke into one of those 
furious fits of passion which sometimes caused her 
highest councillors to tremble for their heads, and 
disagreeably reminded them of her father. In this 
frame she dictated a violent message to the Scottish 
regent, which she commanded Killigrew to deliver 
without reserve or delay. She had seen, she said, 
certain demands made, on his part, by the Justice- 
clerk, and did not a little wonder at so strange and 

* MS. Relation of the Affairs of Scotland from 1566 to 1579. Warrender 
MS. Collections, vol. 13. fol. 208. 


insolent a manner of dealing. He had already been 
guilty of a foul fact in detaining her warden, the go- 
vernor of one of the principal forts in her realm ; he 
had committed a flagrant breach of treaty ; and had 
she been inclined to prosecute her just revenge, he 
should soon have learnt what it was for one of his base 
calling to offend one of her quality. And, whereas, 
continued she, he goeth about to excuse the detaining 
of our warden, alleging that he feared he might revenge 
himself when his blood was roused for his kinsman's 
death, such an excuse seemed to her, she must tell 
him, a scornful aggravation of his fault ; for she would 
have him to know, that neither Forster nor any other 
public officer or private subject of hers dared to offer 
such an outrage to her government, as, for private 
revenge, to break a public treaty. As to the conference 
with Huntingdon, instead of receiving her offer with 
gratitude, he had treated it with contempt. He had 
taken upon him to propose a place of meeting, four 
miles within Scotland ; an ambitious part in him, and 
savouring so much of an insolent desire of sovereignty, 
that she would have scorned such a request had it come 
from the king his master, or the greatest prince in 
Europe. To conclude, she informed him that, if he 
chose to confer with the Earl of Huntingdon at the 
Bond Rode,* she was content ; and he would do well 
to remember that his predecessor the Regent Moray had 
not scrupled to come to York, and afterwards to Lon- 
don, to hold a consultation with her commissioners.-f 
This passionate invective I have given, as it is 
highly characteristic of the queen ; but Huntingdon 

* The Bond Rode, or boundary road, a place or road on the Marches near 
Berwick, common to both kingdoms. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, To Killigrew in Scotland. From the 



and Killigrew deemed it proper to so/ten its expres- 
sions, in conveying the substance of it to the regent, 
whom they had no mind unnecessarily to irritate.* 
Even in its diluted state, however, it awed him into 
submission. He met the English president on the 
sixteenth of August at the appointed place, arranged 
all differences, and not only dismissed his prisoners, 
but loaded them with presents, and sent Carmichael 
up to England to ask pardon of Elizabeth. Amongst 
his gifts were some choice falcons ; upon which a saying 
rose amongst the Borderers, alluding to the death of 
Sir John Heron, that for this once the regent had lost 
by his bargain : He had given live hawks for dead 

The quarrel having been adjusted, Killigrew pro- 
ceeded to Scotland. On his arrival there, he perceived 
everywhere indications of the same flourishing condi- 
tion in which he had lately left the country. Whilst 
the people seemed earnestly disposed to preserve the 
amity with England, all lamented the late accident on 
the Borders ; and the ministers in their sermons prayed 
fervently for the continuance of the peace. As to the 
regent himself, the ambassador found him still firm in 
his affection to England, and in resisting the advances 
of France. Although not popular, generally, the 
vigour and success of his government were admitted 
even by his enemies: property and person were secure; 
and he gave an example of this in his own conduct ; 
for he never used a guard, and would pursue his diver- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Killigrew to Leicester, 14th August, 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Huntingdon to Leicester, 14th 
August, 1575. Ibid. MS. Letter, Huntingdon to Sir T. Smith, 17th August, 
1575. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, The Regent to Walsiugham, 
20th September, 1575 ; and Hume of Godscroft, vol. ii. p. 253. 


sions, walking abroad with his fishing-rod over his 
shoulder, or his hawk on his wrist,* almost alone, to 
the wonder of many. The Borders, since the late dis- 
turbance, had been quiet ; and so rapidly had the foreign 
commerce of the country increased, that Killigrew 
reckoned it able to raise twenty thousand mariners. *f* 
Such was the favourable side of the picture; but 
there were some drawbacks to this prosperity, arising 
chiefly out of the feuds amongst the nobility, and 
the discontent of the clergy. It was reported that 
Hamilton of Bothwellhaugh, who had shot the Regent 
Moray, and fled to the continent after the murder, was 
to be brought home by the Lord of Arbroath. This 
nobleman was second son of the late Duke of Chastel- 
herault, and, owing to the insanity of Arran his elder 
brother, had become the chief leader of the Hamiltons. 
The idea of the return of his murderer, roused the 
friends of the late regent to the highest pitch of re- 
sentment ; and Douglas of Lochleven, his near kins- 
man, assembling a force of twelve hundred men, vowed 
deadly vengeance against both the assassin and Ar- 
broath his chief. The Earls of Argyle, Athole, 
Buchan, and Mar, with Lords Lindsay and Ruthven, 
espoused the quarrel of Lochleven ; Arbroath, on the 
other hand, would be supported, it was said, by all the 
friends of France and the queen ; whilst Morton in 
vain endeavoured to bring both parties to respect the 
laws. Arbroath, too, meditated a marriage with the 
Lady Buccleugh, sister to the Earl of Angus, the 
regent's nephew and heir ; and when Morton appeared 
to countenance the match, a clamour arose amongst 

* Murdin, p. 283. 

f This is the number stated in Killigrew's paper ; but he must have made 
a highly erroneous and exaggerated calculation. Murdin, p. '285. 


the young king's friends that he showed an utter dis- 
regard to the safety of his sovereign. Was not the Duke, 
they said, failing the king, the next heir to the throne? 
was not Arran, that nobleman's eldest son, mad? and did 
not the right of the royal succession devolve on Ar- 
broath? Had the regent forgotten the ambition of 
the house of Hamilton, and Arbroath's familiarity 
with blood? and would he strengthen the hands of 
such a man by a marriage in his own family ? If so, 
he need not look for the support of any faithful subject 
who tendered the young king's preservation.* 

To these were added other causes of disquiet and 
difficulty. Morton was no longer popular with the 
citizens of Edinburgh ; nor, indeed, could he reckon 
upon the support of any of the middle or lower classes 
in the State. His exactions had completely disgusted 
the merchants of the capital. He had imprisoned the 
most opulent amongst them, and this caused so great 
an outcry that many scrupled not to say, that, if he did 
not speedily change his measures the same burghers' 
hands which had put him up, would as surely pull him 
down again. To all these causes of discontent, must 
be added his quarrel with the Kirk, and the soreness 
arising out of his recent establishment of Episcopacy. 
This had given mortal offence to some of the leading 
ministers, who considered the appointment of bishops, 
abbots, and other Roman Catholic dignitaries to be an 
unchristian and heterodox practice, utterly at variance 
with the great principles of their Reformation. They 
arraigned, and with justice as far as regarded the 
regent, the selfish and venal feelings which had led to 
the preservation of this alleged relic of Popery. It 

* Murdin, pp. 282, 283. 


was evident, they said, that avarice, and not religion, 
was at the root of the whole. The nobles and the laity- 
had already seized a large portion of the Church lands, 
and their greedy eyes still coveted more. These prizes 
they were determined to retain ; whilst the poor min- 
isters who laboured in the vineyard, and to whom the 
thirds of the benefices had been assigned, found this a 
nominal provision, and were unable, with their utmost 
efforts, to extract a pittance from the collectors ; the 
whole of the rents finding their way into the purses 
of the regent and his favourites. And how utterly 
ridiculous was this last settlement of the bishops ? 
Was it not notorious, that the See attached to the 
primacy of St Andrew's belonged, in reality, to Morton 
himself? that there was a secret agreement, a nefarious 
collusion, between him and the prelate, his own near 
relative, whom he had placed in it ? Was it not easy 
to see that the chief purpose of this ecclesiastical office 
was to enable the regent more readily and decently to 
suck out the riches of the benefice, as, in the north 
country, farmers would sometimes stuff a calf's skin, 
called there a Tulchan, and set it up before a cow to 
make her give her milk more willingly ? What were 
all these bishops, and abbots, and priors, whom they 
now heard so much about, but mere Tulchans^ men 
of straw, clerical calves, set up by the nobility to 
facilitate their own Simoniacal operations ? 

These arguments, which were enforced with much 
popular eloquence and humour, by those ministers who 
were attached to the Presbyterian form of Church 
government, produced a great effect upon the people, 
already sufficiently disgusted by the exactions and 
tyranny of the regent. Morton, too, increased the 
discontent by his violence, threatening the most zealous 


of the ministers, and broadly declaring his conviction 
that there would be no peace or order in the country 
till some of them were hanged.* 

At this crisis, Andrew Melvil, a Scottish scholar 
of good family, who had been educated first in his 
native country, and afterwards brought up in the 
strictest principles of Calvin and Beza at Geneva, 
returned to Scotland from the continent. He was 
profoundly skilled in the Greek and Latin languages, 
and calculated, both by his learning and enthusiasm, 
to be of essential service to the reviving literature of 
his country ; but he was rash and imperious, a keen 
republican, sarcastic and severe in his judgment of 
others, and with little command of temper. Soon after 
his arrival he acquired a great influence over Durie, 
one of the leading ministers of the Kirk, who, at his 
instigation, began to agitate the question, whether the 
office of a bishop was consistent with the true principles 
of Church government as they could be gathered from 
the Word of God ? After various arguments and 
consultations held upon the subject, a form of Church 
polity was drawn up by some of the leading ministers ; 
and the regent, with greater indulgence than his former 
proceedings had promised, appointed some members of 
the council to take it into consideration : but they had 
scarcely met, when the State was suddenly plunged 
into new troubles, which at once broke off their con- 

This revolution originated in a coalition of the Earls 
of Athole and Argyle against the regent. Both these 
noblemen were of great power and possessions, and could 
command nearly the whole of the north of Scotland. 

* Calderwood, MS. Hist. British Museum. Ayscough's Catalogue, No. 
4735, p. 1053 of the MS. 


Athole, a Stewart, was considered the leader of that 
party which had recently attached themselves to the 
young king, under the hope of prevailing upon him to 
assume the government in his own person. Being a 
Roman Catholic, he was, for this reason, much sus- 
pected by Morton ; and he, in his turn, hated the 
regent for his cruel conduct to Lethington, to whom 
Athole had been linked in the closest friendship. 
Argyle, on the other hand, although he had formerly 
been united with Morton in most of his projects, was 
now completely estranged from his old comrade ; and 
the cause of quarrel was to be traced to the regent's 
cupidity. A rgyle had married the widow of the Regent 
Moray, Agnes Keith, a sister of the Earl Marshal, 
and through her had got possession of some of the 
richest of the queen's jewels. These Mary had de- 
livered to Moray in a moment of misplaced confidence. 
He, as was asserted, had advanced money upon them 
to the State ; at his death they remained in the hands 
of his widow ; and Morton now insisted on recovering 
them, in obedience to an order given on the subject by 
parliament. Argyle and his lady resisted: and al- 
though the jewels were at last surrendered, it was not 
till the noble persons who detained them were threat- 
ened with arrest. This, and other causes of dispute, 
had entirely alienated Argyle from Morton : but, for 
a short season, the regent derived security from the 
sanguinary contests between the two northern earls 
themselves. Their private warfare, however, which 
had threatened to involve in broils and bloodshed the 
whole of the North, was suddenly composed ; and by 
one of those rapid changes which were by no means 
unfrequent in feudal Scotland, the two fierce rivals, 
instead of destroying each other, united in a league 


against the regent. This new state of things is to be 
traced to the influence of Alexander Erskine, the go- 
vernor of the king and commander of Stirling castle. 
This gentleman had recently discovered that Morton, 
with that subtle and treacherous policy of which he 
had already given many proofs, was secretly plotting 
to get possession of the person of the young monarch, 
and to place a creature of his own in command of the 
castle of Stirling. To confound his scheme, Erskine, 
who was beloved by the higher nobles, and a principal 
member of the confederacy which had been formed for 
the king's protection, wrote secretly to Athole and 
Argyle, inviting them to come to Stirling, assuring 
them that James was already well disposed to redress 
their complaints against the regent, and promising 
them immediate access to the royal person. 

It is scarcely to be believed that these plots and 
jealousies should have altogether escaped the attention 
of Morton. He had his secret emissaries both in Scot- 
land and in England, and he must have been well 
aware of his increasing unpopularity. The age of the 
young king, who had now. entered on his twelfth year, 
and begun to take an interest in the government, 
admonished him that every succeeding year would 
render it a more difficult task for any regent to engross 
the supreme power ; and as long as James remained 
under the care of Alexander Erskine, whom he had 
reason to believe his enemy, it was evident that the 
continuance of his authority must be precarious. Al- 
ready, he saw his sovereign surrounded by those who, 
for their own ends, sought to persuade him that he was 
arrived at an age when he ought to take the govern- 
ment into his own hands. 

So far-sighted and experienced a political intriguer 


as Morton, could not be sensible of all this, without 
speculating on the best mode of encountering the storm 
when it did arrive, and averting the wreck of his power. 
To- continue sole regent much longer was evidently 
full of difficulty ; but to flatter the young monarch by 
a nominal sovereignty, and to rule him as effectually 
under the title- of king, as he had done when sole regent, 
would be no arduous matter, considering his tender 
years, provided he could undermine the influence of 
Erskine his governor', and crush the confederacy with 
Argyle and Athole. In the mean season, he resolved 
to await his time, and watch their proceedings. But 
the regent, although cautious and calculating, was not 
aware of the full extent of the confederacy against him ; 
and the catastrophe arrived more suddenly than he 
had anticipated. The intrigues of Argyle and Athole 
had not escaped the eyes of Walsingham ; and in De- 
cember, 1577, Elizabeth, suspecting an impending re- 
volution, despatched Sir Robert Bowes to Scotland, 
with the hope of preventing any open rupture between 
Morton and the nobility. He was instructed to in- 
culcate the absolute necessity of union, to prevent both 
themselves and her kingdom from falling a sacrifice to 
the practices of foreign powers ; and to threaten Morton, 
that, if he continued refractory, and refused to make 
up his differences with his opponents, she would make 
no scruple to cast him off, and herself become a party 
against him. He carried also a flattering letter from 
the queen to the Earl of Athole, in which she assured 
him of her favourable feelings, and recommended peace.* 
For a moment, the envoy appears to have succeeded; 

* MS. Instructions to Thomas Randolph, 30th January, 1577-8, State- 
paper Office. Orig. draft of MS. Letter, State-paper Office, The Queen's 
Majesty to the Earl of Athole, December, 1577. 


but he was aware that the friendship professed on both 
sides was hollow, and the lull of civil faction only 
temporary. This is evident from a letter which he 
wrote to Leicester, upon his return to Berwick : 
"Albeit," said he, "those matters (in Scotland) are 
for a season wrapped up, yet it is not unlike, without 
wise handling and some charge to her majesty, that 
the fire will be readily kindled again. * * * The 
readiest way, in my opinion, to preserve the realm in 
quietness, with continuance of this amity, is to appease 

and * all the griefs between the regent and others 

of the realm, and by friendly reconciliation and union 
to make him gracious amongst them. For which he 
must receive some apt lessons, with gentleness, from 
her majesty : but with the same, he must also receive 
some comfort, agreeable to his nature." "f* It is evident 
from this, that Bowes had become convinced that, to 
conciliate Morton and preserve peace, Elizabeth must 
deal less in objurgation, and more in solid coin, than 
she had lately done ; nor need we wonder that the 
envoy, afraid of undertaking so delicate a task, was 
happy to return : but the queen, who had received 
some new and alarming information of the success of 
French intrigue in Scotland, commanded him to revisit 
Edinburgh, and watch the proceedings of both parties. 
Even this, however, did not appear enough : and soon 
after, Randolph was despatched on a mission to the 
young king and the regent ; its object being similar 
to that of Bowes, but his instructions more urgent and 
decided.]: Some delay, however, occurred; and he 

* A word in the original is here illegible. 

t MS. Letter, British Musuem, Caligula, C. v. fol. 86, Sir R. Bowes to 
Leicester, October 9, 1577, Berwick. 

% MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 3, Instructions given, 
31st January, to Thomas Randolph. Also, MS. State-paper Office, Mr 
Randolph's several Instructions in his Ambassades. 

1577-8. REGENCY OF MORTON. 27 

had scarcely arrived in Scotland, when the clouds 
which had been so long gathering burst upon the head 
of the regent. The rapidity of the movements of the 
conspirators, and their complete success, were equally 
remarkable. On thefourth of March, (1577-8,) Argyle 
rode with his usual retinue to Stirling, and being im- 
mediately admitted by Erskine to an interview with 
the young king, complained loudly of Morton's insolent 
and oppressive conduct, not only to himself, but to the 
whole nobility and people. He implored him to call 
a convention to examine their grievances ; and, if he 
found them true, to take the government upon himself, 
and put an end to a system which, whilst it cruelly 
oppressed his subjects, left him nothing but the name of 
a king. These arguments were enforced by Erskine the 
governor ; the famous Buchanan, one of the tutors of 
the young monarch, threw all his weight into the same 
scale ; and the other confederates who had joined the 
conspiracy, Glammis the chancellor, the Abbot of 
Dunfermline, the secretary, Tullibardine the Comp- 
troller, and the Lords Lindsay, Ruthven, Ogilvy and 
others, eagerly joined in recommending such a course. 
Athole at this time was absent : but he arrived, no 
doubt by concert, at the moment his presence was 
most 'necessary ; and being instantly admitted into 
the castle, and led to the king, his opinion was urgent- 
ly demanded. Scarcely, however, had he time to de- 
liver it, and to express his detestation of the tyranny 
by which they had been so long kept down, when a 
messenger brought letters from Morton, keenly re- 
probating the conduct of the northern earls. He 
remonstrated with the king on the outrage committed 
against his royal person and himself ; represented the 
necessity of inflicting on such bold offenders speedy 


and exemplary punishment ; and concluded by declar- 
ing his anxiety to resign his office, if his royal master 
was prepared to overlook such proceedings. This 
offer was too tempting to be rejected: letters were 
addressed to the nobility requiring their instant at- 
tendance at court. Argyle, Athole, and Erskine, took 
care that those summonses should find their way only 
to their friends. The convention assembled ; a reso- 
lution was unanimously passed that the king should 
take the government upon himself; and before the 
regent had time to retract, he was waited upon by 
Glammis the chancellor, and Lord Herries, who 
brought a message from his sovereign, requiring his 
immediate resignation. Although startled at the sud- 
denness of the demand, Morton was too proud, or too 
wary, to pretend any repugnance. He received the 
envoys with cheerfulness ; rode with them from his 
castle at Dalkeith to the capital ; and there, at the 
Cross, heard the herald and the messenger-at-arms 
proclaim his own deprivation, and the assumption of 
the government by the young king. He then, in the 
presence of the people, resigned the ensigns of his 
authority ; and, without a murmur or complaint, re- 
tired to one of his country seats, where he seemed 
wholly to forget his ambition, and to be entirely en- 
grossed in the tranquil occupations of husbandry and 

The news of this revolution was instantly communi- 
cated by Randolph to his friend Killigrew, in this 
laconic and characteristic epistle, written when he was 
on the eve of throwing himself on horseback to proceed 
to England, and in person inform Elizabeth of the 
alarming change. 

"All the devils in hell are stirring and in great 

1577-8. JAMES VI. 29 

rage in this country. The regent is discharged the 
country broken, the chancellor slain by the Earl of 
Crawford, four killed of the town out of the castle, and 
yet are we in hope of some good quietness, by the great 
wisdom of the Earl of Morton. There cometh to her 
majesty from hence an ambassador shortly. I know 
not yet who, but Sandy Hay in his company. It be- 
hoveth me to be there before : and so show my wife." * 

The death of the chancellor, Lord Glammis, here 
alluded to by Randolph, was in no way connected with 
the revolution which he describes, but took place in a 
casual scuffle between his retinue and that of the Earl 
of Crawford. His high office was bestowed upon 
Athole, Morton's chief enemy, and the leader of the 
confederacy which had deposed him. But this, though 
it preserved the influence of the successful faction, 
scarcely compensated for the loss of their associate, who 
was accounted one of the wisest and most learned men 
in Scotland. 

Meanwhile, the confederated nobles followed up their 
advantages. As the king had not yet completed his 
twelfth year, a council of twelve was appointed. It con- 
sisted of the Earls of Argyle, Athole, Montrose, and 
Glencairn ; the Lords Ruthven, Lindsay, and Herries ; 
the Abbots of Newbottle and Dunfermline ; the Prior 
of St Andrew's : and two supernumerary or extra- 
ordinary councillors ; Buchanan, the king's tutor, and 
James Makgill, the Clerk-register. All royal letters 
were to be signed by the king and four of this number; 
and as the first exercise of their power, they required 
from Morton the delivery of the castle of Edinburgh, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Randolph to Killigrew, 20th March, 
1577 that is, 1577-8. Signed jocularly Thomazo del Niente. Sandy Hay 
was Alexander Hay, Clerk-register. 


the palace of Holy rood, the mint, and the queen's jewels 
and treasure. To all this prostration of his former great- 
ness, he appears to have made no resistance ; but simply 
requested, that, in the next parliament, they should 
pass an act approving of his administration during his 
continuance in the regency. Morton then held a 
hurried conference with Randolph, before that ambas- 
sador set off for the English court ; intrusted him with 
a brief letter to Lord Burghley, written in his new 
character as a private man,* and seemed prepared, with 
perfect contentment, to sink into that condition. 

It was evident, however, from the expressions he 
used in this short note, that he had informed Randolph 
of some ulterior design for his resumption of power, 
which he did not choose to commit to writing ; and 
that the ambassador, long versant in Scottish broils 
and intrigues, considered it a wise and likely project. 
Nor was he wrong in this conclusion : for the develop- 
ment of this counter-revolution, which restored Morton 
to power, followed almost immediately ; and the out- 
break was as sudden, as the success was complete. 

The king's lords, as Argyle and his friends were 
called, had formed their council,^ assembled in the 
capital, conferred the chancellor's place on Athole, and 
proclaimed a parliament to be held on the tenth of 
June. On the twenty-fourth of April, the General 
Assembly met at Edinburgh ; and having chosen Mr 
Andrew Melvil to be their Moderator, proceeded to 
their deliberations with their usual zeal and energy. 
It was determined to revise the Book of Church Policy, 
and lay it before the king and council ; and a blow was 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, The Earl Morton to Lord Burghley, 
March 28, 1578. He signs simply, " Morton." 

f MS. Record of the Privy Council, in Register-he use, Edinburgh. March 
'-'4, 1577-8. 

1578. JAMES VI. 31 

aimed at the late episcopal innovations, by a declaration 
that, owing to the great corruption already visible in 
the state of bishops, no See should be filled up till the 
next General Assembly of the Church.* During these 
transactions Morton lived in retirement, and appeared 
wholly engrossed in his rural occupations ; but he had 
secretly gained to his interest the young Earl of Mar, 
whose sister was the wife of Angus, Morton's heir, and 
the head of the house of Douglas, To Mar, he art- 
fully represented that he was unjustly and shamefully 
treated by his uncle, Erskine the Governor. He, the 
young Earl, who was no longer a boy, was entitled by 
hereditary right to the government of Stirling castle; 
but his uncle usurped it, and with it kept hold of the 
king's person. It was Alexander Erskine, not the 
Earl of Mar, who was now considered the head of that 
ancient house. Would he submit to this ignominy, 
when, by a bold stroke, he might recover his lost rights ; 
when the house of Douglas, with all its strength and 
vassalage, was ready to take his part ; and his uncles, 
the Abbots of Dryburgh, and Cambuskenneth, offered 
their council and assistance ? These arguments easily 
gained over the young lord ; and as he and his retinue 
were generally lodged in the castle, he determined to 
put Morton's plan in execution. 

On the twenty-sixth April, about five in the morn- 
ing, before many of the garrison were stirring, Mar, 
who had slept that night in the castle, assembled his 
retinue, under the pretence of a hunting party, and 
riding to the gates with the Abbots of Dryburgh and 
Cambuskenneth, called for the keys. He was met by 
his uncle, Erskine the Governor, with a small company, 
who, for the moment, suspected nothing ; but finding 

* MS. Calderwood, p. 1055-1059. 


himself rudely accosted as a usurper by the Abbots, 
instantly dreaded some false play. To shout treason, 
seize a halbert from one of the guard, and call to his ser- 
vants, was with Erskine the work of a moment ; but, 
ere assistance arrived, his little band was surrounded, 
his son crushed to death in the tumult, and himself 
thrust without the gates into an outer hall, whilst Mar 
seized the keys, put down all resistance, and became 
master of the castle. In the midst of this uproar the 
young king awoke, and rushing in great terror from 
his chamber, tore his hair, and called out that the 
Master of Erskine was slain. He was assured that 
his governor was safe ; and the Earl of Argyle, who 
had been roused by the tumult, finding the two Abbots 
arguing with Erskine in the hall, but showing him 
no personal violence, affected to consider it a family 
quarrel between the uncle and the nephew, and retired, 
after advising an amicable adjustment. News of the 
tumult was, that evening, carried to the council at 
Edinburgh, accompanied by an assurance from Mar, 
Argyle, and Buchanan the king's tutor, that the dis- 
pute was adjusted. Upon this they despatched Mon- 
trose, the same night, to Stirling ; who, coming alone, 
was courteously received and admitted into the castle: 
but next day when the council rode thither in a body 
and demanded admittance, this was peremptorily re- 
fused by Mar. They should all see the king, he said, 
but it must be one by one ; and no councillor should 
enter the gates with more than one attendant.* 

Incensed at this indignity, the council assembled in 
Stirling, and issued a proclamation, prohibiting any 
resort of armed men thither, whilst they sent secret 
orders to convoke their own forces. But their measures 

* MS. Calderwood, British Museum, p. 1061 . See Proofs and Illustrations, 
No. I. 

1578. JAMES VI. S3 

were too late; Douglas of Lochleven had already 
entered the castle, joined Mar, and communicated 
with Morton, whose hand, it was stronglj suspected, 
although it did not appear, had managed the whole. 
Angus, meantime, by his directions, was ready, at six 
hours' warning, with all the armed vassals of the house 
of Douglas ; and the ex-regent, forgetting his gardens 
and pleasure grounds, hurried from his rural seclusion, 
and reappeared in public, the same subtle, daring, and 
unscrupulous leader as before.* 

Events now crowded rapidly on each other. At the 
earnest request of the young king, an agreement took 
place between Mar and his uncle, Alexander Erskine. 
The earl retained the castle of Stirling, and with it the 
custody of the royal person. To the Master of Er- 
skine, so Alexander was called, was given the keeping 
of the castle of Edinburgh ; and in a meeting held at 
Craigmillar, between Morton, Athole, and Argyle, it 
was decided that they should next day repair together 
to Stirling, and adjust all differences before the king 
in person. This was determined on the eighth of May ; 
and that evening the two northern earls, after sharing 
Morton's hospitality at Dalkeith, rode with him to 
Edinburgh. In the morning, however, the ex-regent 
was nowhere to be found; and it turned out that he had 
risen before daybreak, and, with a small retinue, had 
galloped to Stirling, where he was received within the 

f Copy, Caligula, C. v. fol. 89, Sir Robert Bowes to Lord Burghley, 
Edinburgh, April 28, 1578. In this letter of Bowes to Burghley, written 
in the midst of this revolution, and on the very day the council rode to 
Stirling, he says, " What storm shall fall out of these swelling heats, doth 
not yet appear. But I think, verily, within two or three days, it will burst 
into some open matter, discovering sufficiently the purposes intended ; where- 
in, to my power, I shall seek to quench all violent rages, and persuade to 
unity and concord amongst them." 



castle, and soon resumed his ascendancy both over Mar 
and the king.* 

Against this flagrant breach of agreement, Argyle 
and Athole loudly remonstrated; and Sir Robert 
Bowes, the English ambassador, exerting himself to 
restore peace, the young monarch summoned a conven- 
tion of his nobles : but the northern earls and their 
associates received such a proposal with derision, and 
sent word by Lord Lindsay, that they would attend 
no convention held by their enemies, within a fortress 
which they commanded. Other lords obeyed, but 
came fully armed, and with troops of vassals at their 
back; and both factions mustered in such strength, 
and exhibited such rancour, that, but for the remon- 
strances of Bowes, the country would have hurried 
into war. 

Amidst the clamour and confusion, however, it was 
evident that the ex-regent directed all. By his per- 
suasion a new council was appointed, in which he held 
the chief place. It was next determined to send the 
Abbot of Dunfermline as ambassador from the young 
king to Elizabeth. He was instructed to thank that 
princess for the special favour with which she had re- 
garded him from his birth, to confirjn the peace between 
the two countries, and to propose a stricter league for 
mutual defence, and the maintenance of true religion. -f 

The parliament had been summoned to meet in July 
at Edinburgh : but Morton was well aware of his un- 
popularity in that city, and dreaded to bring the king 
into the midst Df his enemies. By his persuasion, 
therefore, the young monarch changed the place of 

* MS. Calderwood, British Museum. Ayscough, 4735, p. 1061. Also, 
Orijr. draft, State-paper Office, Articles delivered by Argyle, Athole, &c. 
to Lord Lindsay. 

t MS. Draft, State-paper Office, June 18, 1578. 

1578. JAMES VI. 35 

assembly to the great hall within Stirling castle, where 
he knew all would be secure. But this new measure 
gave deep offence; and when the day approached, 
Argyle, Athole, Montrose, Lindsay, and Herries, with 
their adherents, assembled in the capital, declaring that 
nothing should compel them to attend a parliament 
within a citadel garrisoned by their mortal enemies, 
and where it would be a mockery to expect any free 

Despising this opposition, Morton hurried en his 
measures, and the Estates assembled in the great 
hall within Stirling castle.* It was opened by the 
king in person ; but scarcely had the members taken 
their seats, when Montrose and Lord Lindsay pre- 
sented themselves as commissioners from Argyle, 
Athole, and their adherents, and declared that this 
could in no sense be called a free parliament. It was 
held, they said, within an armed fortress ; and for this 
cause the noble peers, whose messengers they were, 
had refused to attend it; and we now come, said Lind- 
say, with his usual brevity and bluntness, to protest 
against its proceedings. Morton here interrupted him, 
and commanded him and his companion to take their 
places; to which Lindsay answered, that he would 
stand there till the king ordered him to his seat. 
James then repeated the command, and the old lord 
sat down. After a sermon, which was preached by 
Duncanson the minister of the royal household, and a 
harangue by Morton, who, in the absence of Athole 
the chancellor, took upon him to fill his place, the 
Estates proceeded to choose the Lords of the Articles; 
upon which Lindsay again broke in upon the proceed- 
ings, calling all to witness, that every act of such a 

* July 16, 1578. 


parliament was null, and the choosing of the lords an 
empty farce. This second attack threw Morton into 
an ungovernable rage, in which he unsparingly abused 
his old associate. " Think ye, Sir," said he, " that 
this is a court of churls or brawlers ? Take your own 
place, and thank God that the king's youth keeps you 
safe from his resentment." " I have served the king 
in his minority," said Lindsay, " as faithfully as the 
proudest among ye; and I think to serve his grace no 
less truly in his majority." Upon which Morton was 
observed to whisper something in the king's ear, who, 
blushing and hesitating, delivered himself of a little 
speech, which, no doubt, had been prepared for him 
beforehand. " Lest any man," said he, "should judge 
this not to be a free parliament, I declare it free; and 
those who love me will think as I think."* 

This silenced Lindsay, and the proceedings went on ; 
but Montrose, abruptly leaving the hall, rode post to 
Edinburgh. It was reported that he bore a secret 
letter from the king, imploring his subjects to arm and 
relieve him from the tyranny of Morton. It is certain, 
that the recusant earl drew a vivid picture of the 
late regent's insolence, and roused the citizens to such 
a pitch of fury, that they mustered in arms, and de- 
clared that they would rescue their sovereign from the 
hands of a traitor who had sold them to the English . 


Nothing could be more grateful to Argyle and Athole 
than such a spirit ; and sending word to the townsmen, 
that they would speedily join them with a force which 
would soon bring their enemies to reason, they sum- 
moned their feudal services, and prepared for war.-}- 

* MS. Calderwood, British Museum, pp. 1062, 1065. 
t MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 101, Lord Hunsclon 
to Burghley, August 19, 1578, Berwick. 

1578. JAMES vi. 37 

Montrose's sudden retreat saved him from imprison- 
ment; for next day an order of privy-council appeared, 
commanding him and Lindsay his associate to confine 
themselves to their own lodgings under pain of rebel- 
lion.* In the meantime the parliament proceeded. 
Morton's demission of the regency, and the king's ac- 
ceptance of the government, were confirmed. An ample 
approval and discharge was given him of all the acts 
done during his regency, and a new council appointed, 
in which he himself sat as chief, and could, in any 
emergency, command a majority. The revolution was 
thus complete. He had lost the name of regent, but 
he had retained his power ; and the nominal assump- 
tion of the government by the young king had removed 
many difficulties which before trammelled and perplexed 

But this daring and experienced politician had men 
to deal with who, having been trained in his own school, 
were not easily put down ; and scarcely had the ar- 
rangements for the new government been completed, 
when Argyle and Athole occupied the city of Edin- 
burgh, and communicating with the leading ministers 
of the Kirk, now completely estranged from Morton, 
assembled their forces. It was in vain that Sir Robert 
Bowes, the English ambassador, remonstrated against 
this ; in vain that a charge from the privy-council 
was fulminated against the two earls, commanding 
them, on pain of treason, to depart from Edinburgh 
within twenty-four hours. Both sides flew to arms : 
the country, so lately restored to peace, again resounded 
with warlike preparation : proclamations, and counter- 

* MS. Books of Privy-council, Register House, Edinburgh, 17th July, 

t Draft, State-paper Office, Names of the King's Ordinary Council, and 
Acts of Parliament of Scotland, vol. ii. p. 94. 


proclamations were discharged against each other; 
summonses for their armed vassals issued in every 
direction; and so readily were the orders obeyed, that 
Argyle and Athole, who had marched out of Edinburgh 
on the eleventh August with only one thousand men, 
found themselves, on mustering at Falkirk on the 
thirteenth, seven thousand strong. Of these troops 
the greater part were animated by the deadliest hatred 
of Morton; especially the hardy bands of the Merse 
and Teviotdale, led by their wardens Coldingknowes 
and Cessford. They carried before them a banner of 
blue sarcenet, on which was painted a boy within a 
grated window, with the distich, "Liberty I crave, and 
cannot it have." 1 ' * This was meant to represent the 
king's thraldom to Morton ; and below it was their 
answer, declaring that they would die to set him free. 
On the other side came Angus, who had been recently 
proclaimed lieutenant-general to the king, with a body 
of five thousand men ; and the skirmishing between 
the advanced parties of each army had commenced, 
when Sir Robert Bowes, accompanied by Lawson and 
Lindsay, the two principal ministers of the Kirk, rode 
hastily from the capital, and again offered himself, in 
the name of his mistress the Queen of England, as a 
peacemaker between the rival factions.*!* 

In this humane office, after prolonged and bitter 
discussions, he was successful. The young king, or 
rather Morton in his name, declared, trat foreseeing 
the wreck and misery of the realm, if the present 
divisions were not speedily removed, he was ready to 

* MS. Letter, Caligula, C. v. fol. 101, Lord Hunsdonto Burghley, Aug., 
19, 1578, Berwick. See Proofs and Illustrations, No. II. In these transac- 
tions the celebrated Buchanan acted as a kind of Secretary of State. Calder- 
wood MS. fol. 1071. 

f MS. Calderwood, p. 1071. 




meet the wishes of the Queen of England; and there- 
fore commanded his nobility, on both sides, to disband 
their forces. To reassure Argyle and Athole's faction, 
their late conduct in taking arms was accepted as loyal 
service; Argyle, Lindsay, and Morton, so recently 
denounced traitors, were added to the privy-council; 
a committee of eight noblemen was to be chosen, to 
advise with the king upon the best mode of reconciling 
his nobility; and, from this moment, free access was 
to be afforded to all noblemen, barons, or gentlemen, 
who came to offer their service to their prince.* To 
these conditions both parties agreed; and by the judi- 
cious management of Bowes, Scotland was saved for 
the present from the misery of civil war. 

This minister, after the service he had thus performed, 
remained for some time resident ambassador at the 
Scottish court; where Morton's successful intrigues 
had once more established him as the chief ruler in the 
State ; a result which was viewed with much satisfac- 
tion by Elizabeth, who, even after his demission of his 
high office, had never ceased to give him the title of 
regent.-}* For the name, however, he cared little : it 
was power to which he looked ; and this, having for 
the moment secured, he was determined not speedily 
again to lose. The great principles upon which he had 
hitherto conducted the government, were a strict amity 
with England, opposition to all foreign intrigue, a de- 
termined resistance to the deliverance of the Scottish 
queen, and a resolution to maintain the Protestant 
Reformation. On this last important point, however, his 
motives had become suspected by the influential body 

* MS. State-paper Office, copy of the time, Articles agree 1 on in Scotland 
between the King and the Lords, 13th August, 1578. 

t Instructions to Randolph, 31st January, 1578, Caligula, C. v. fol. Ill, 
British Museum. 


of the ministers of the Kirk. This was owing to his 
introduction into Scotland of the Episcopal form of 
Church government, and his resistance to the Book of 
Church Polity which had been drawn up by the General 
Assembly, and presented to the king and the three 
Estates for their approval. Yet still, although no 
longer the favourite of the clergy, Morton was anti- 
Catholic enough to be preferred by them to Athole, a 
professed Roman Catholic, and his associates, who, 
for the most part, were either avowed or suspected 
Romanists ; and for the present the ministers refrained 
from endangering the restored peace of the country 
by any violence of opposition. 

Yet it was impossible for any acute observer not to 
see that the times were precarious. The elements of 
discord were lulled in their active efforts, but not 
destroyed ; the intrigues of France and Spain for the 
deliverance of Mary, and the reestablishment of the 
ancient faith, were still busily carried on ; and Bowes 
the ambassador, who, from long experience, was inti- 
mately acquainted with the state of the rival factions, 
regarded the court and the country as on the eve of 
another change. On the third November, shortly 
previous to his leaving Scotland, he thus wrote from 
Edinburgh to Lord Burghley : 

" By my common letters to the Lords of her Ma- 
jesty"^ Council, the weltering estate of this realm, that 
now attendeth but a tide for a new alteration of the 
court, will appear to your lordship, and how necessary 
it is in this change approaching, and in the confedera- 
cies presently knitting, to get some hold for her majesty 
amongst them." * It had been his own earnest endeav- 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 109. Sir R. Bowes 
to Burghley, November 3, 1578, Edinburgh. 

1578. JAMES VI. 41 

our to get such hold over them ; and for this purpose 
he had entered into negotiations with the Earl of 
Caithness, one of the principal leaders of the confeder- 
acy against Morton. He and his associates had sent 
articles of agreement, in the usual form, to the Eng- 
lish ambassador : but they expected, also, the usual 
gratuity ; and as it turned out, valued their devotion 
to Elizabeth at a higher rate than that parsimonious 
princess was disposed to reckon it. Caithness, indeed, 
was of loose and accommodating principles, both in 
politics and religion ; and although Bowes flattered 
himself that, on his departure from Scotland, he had 
left the faction opposed to Morton very favourably 
disposed to England, he did not conceal from Wal- 
singham his apprehensions that the continuance of 
this feeling was precarious. " I fear," said he, in his 
letter to this minister, "that no great inwardness 
shall be found in them, when they find her majesty's 
liberality coming slowly to them, that use not often at 
the fairest call to stoop to empty lure." * 

These apprehensions of the English minister regard- 
ins: the unsettled state of Scotland were not without 


good foundation. Mary's indefatigable friend, the 
Bishop of Ross, whose intrigues in the affair of the 
Duke of Norfolk had already given such alarm to 
Elizabeth, was now busily employed on the continent, 
exciting France, Spain, Germany, and the Papal court, 
to unite for her deliverance; and holding out the 
present crisis of affairs in Scotland as eminently favour- 
able for the restoration of the true faith. The extent 
to which these operations were carried, was amply 
proved by a packet of intercepted letters, written in 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 110. Sir R. Bowes 
to , November 24, 1578. I suspect to Walsingham. 


cipher, and seized by Walsingham or Burghley, whose 
spies and informers were scattered all over Europe. 
It was found that the Earl of Athole, a Roman Catholic, 
the great leader of the late cabal against Morton, and 
Chancellor of Scotland, was in constant correspondence 
with the Bishop of Ross. The letters of the Scottish 
queen herself, written immediately after Morton's 
resignation of the regency, to the same prelate, and 
directed to be communicated to the pope, expressed 
her satisfaction at the late revolution in Scotland, and 
her zealous concurrence with his holiness in his pro- 
ject for the restitution of the true faith in Britain, by 
the united efforts of the great Catholic powers. She 
alluded, in the same letter, to a project for the carrying 
off her son, the young king, to the continent, which the 
pope had offered to forward by an advance of money. 
She informed him, that in consequence of the changes 
in Scotland since Morton's demission, she felt perfectly 
assured of the affection and services of the young 
prince, and of his councillors ; she urged the necessity 
of placing him, if possible, in the hands of her friends 
of the house of Lorrain ; alluding to the imminent 
danger he incurred from Elizabeth's intrigues to get 
possession of his person, or even to deprive him of his 
life ; she declared her conviction, that if her son were 
once in France, and removed from the sphere of Eliza- 
beth's influence, a more lenient treatment of herself 
would ensue ; and, lastly, she directed Ross to com- 
municate upon all these matters with the pope's nuncio 
at Paris.* 

In an intercepted letter, written about the same 
time by Beaton bishop of Glasgow, Mary's ambassador 

* MS. British Museum, excyphris Reginae Fcotiae ad Episcopum Rossen- 
sem, Caligula, C. v. fol. 102. 

1578. JAMES VI. 43 

at the court of France, to the Bishop of Ross, the 
determination of Henry the Third and the Duke of 
Guise to assist her to their utmost, was clearly inti- 
mated.* In the autumn of the same year, and soon 
after the pacification between the rival factions in 
Scotland, which we have seen effected by Bowes, the 
Bishop of Ross made a progress into Germany, with 
the object of exciting the Emperor and the Duke of 
Bavaria to unite with the other Catholic powers for 
the speedy liberation of his royal mistress, and the 
restoration of religion. From both potentates he re- 
ceived the utmost encouragement. The Emperor de- 
clared his readiness to cooperate with the endeavours 
of his brother princes for the deliverance of the Scot- 
tish queen, and the securing to her and her son their 
undoubted right to the English throne ; and the duke 
professed his determination to peril both property and 
life itself for the restoration of the Catholic faith.^f- 
This encouraging information was conveyed by Ross 
to the Cardinal Como, in a letter written from Prague 
on the twenty-seventh September, 1578, which, unfor- 
tunately for his mistress, fell into the hands of her 
enemies ; and, at the same time, this indefatigable 
prelate, at the request of the Emperor, had drawn up 
a paper on the state of parties in Scotland, in which 
he carefully marked the relative strength of the Roman 
Catholic and Protestant peers,J and pointed out the 
favourable crisis which had occurred. In a second 
interview, to which the Emperor admitted him, he de- 
scribed the state of parties in Scotland, following cer- 

* Ex literis Archiesp. Glascuensis ad Episcop. Rossen. June 14, 1578. 
Caligula, C. v. fol. 103 d. British Museum. 

t MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 104 d. Ex literis Episcop. 
Rossensis ad Cardinalem Comensem, Pragse, September 27, 1578. 

MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 105. 


tain directions communicated by his royal mistress ;* 
and by all these united exertions, there is no doubt 
that a deep impression was made throughout Europe 
in favour of the Scottish queen. Well, therefore, 
might Sir Robert Bowes describe the condition of affairs 


in Scotland as one full of alarm ; and before we condemn 
Elizabeth for her severity to Mary, we must weigh the 
perils to the Protestant cause which these intercepted 
letters so clearly demonstrated. But, on the other 
hand, it must not be forgotten, that these very dangers 
arose out of the injustice of her imprisonment. 

In the meantime, Morton once more bore the chief 
sway in Scotland, where his triumph over the conspiracy 
of Athole and Argyle had really increased his power ; 
whilst his possession of the king's person enabled him 
to overawe the young monarch as effectually as he had 
ever done when regent. This resumption of strength 
he now employed to crush the house of Hamilton. 

The Duke of Chastelherault was dead ; his eldest 
son the Earl of Arran, had been insane for some years ; 
and in these melancholy circumstances, the leaders of 
this potent and ancient family were his brothers the 
Lordof Arbroath and Lord Claud Hamilton. Arbroath, 
in the event of the death of Mary and the young king, 
was next heir to the throne ; and his possessions were 
described by Bowes as the greatest and the richest 
in Scotland.-f- These lands were conterminous with 
the vast estates of the Earl of Angus, which included 
nearly all the Overward of Clydesdale, as Arbroatlis 
did the Netherward ; and Morton and the Douglases 

* MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 106. 

t MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 82. Also, draft of the King's 
Proclamation against John Hamilton, some time Commendator of Arbroath, 
and Claud Hamilton, some time Commendator of Paisley, dated May -, 
1579, Bowes Papers. 

1579. JAMES VI. 45 

had long looked upon them with greedy eyes. But 
although his enmity against Arhroath and his brother 
was entirely selfish, Morton was not guilty of injustice 
when he persuaded the young king that it was his duty 
to proceed with severity against the house of Hamilton. 
It had a long reckoning of crime and blood to account 
for. There was little doubt that the late Archbishop 
of St Andrew ? s, its chief leader and adviser, had suf- 
fered justly as an accessary to the murder of Darnley ; 
and this cast a strong suspicion of implication upon its 
present leaders. It was certain that they were guilty 
of the death of the Regent Moray; it was as undoubted 
that Lord Claud Hamilton had given the order which 
led to the murder of the Regent Lennox ; and the 
houses of Mar and Douglas were bitterly hostile to 
the whole race. 

The Hamiltons being thus miserably situated, the 
terrible work of feudal retribution commenced, and 
was prosecuted in the rapid and cruel spirit of the 
times. Morton and Angus in person besieged the 
castle of Hamilton, commanded by Arthur Hamilton 
of Merton.* He offered to surrender on being assured 
of his life, and pardon to himself and his garrison of 
all their offences, except the murder of the king and 
the two regents ; but these terms were scornfully 
refused, and he was at last compelled to submit un- 
conditionally.-f- Much interest was made to save him : 
but Mar and Buchan, with Lochleveu, and James 
Douglas a natural son of Morton's, were furious at 
the idea of his escaping their vengeance ; declaring 
that the lives of any ten Hamiltons were a poor re- 

* May 4, 1579. 

f- MS. Letter to Sir George Bowes from (as I suspect) Mr Archibald Dou- 
glas, Edinburgh, May 24, 1579, copy of the time, Bowes Papers. 


compense for the Regent Moray. He and his company, 
therefore, were hanged ; amongst whom was Arthur 
Hamilton, a brother of Bothwellhaugh who had shot 
the regent, and who was known to have held the 
stirrup when the murderer threw himself on horseback 
and escaped.* The castle of Draffen, another strong- 
hold of this great family, in which the Duchess of 
Chastelherault and the unfortunate Earl of Arran 
had taken refuge, was invested and taken about the 
same time, its garrison having abandoned it during the 
night ; and in a convention of the nobility held soon 
after at Stirling, it was determined to complete the 
ruin of this devoted house by processes of treason in 
the next parliament. Nothing could be more wretched 
than its condition at this moment : the Lord of Ar- 
broath had fled to Flanders, where he was an almost 
houseless exile ; Lord Claud escaped to England, and 
threw himself upon the compassion of Elizabeth ; its 
lesser chiefs were trembling under an impending sen- 
tence of forfeiture ; and its head, the Earl of Arran, 
whose royal descent and great power had made him, in 
former days, an almost accepted suitor, first of Eliza- 
beth, and afterwards of Mary, was a prisoner, hope- 
lessly insane, and placed, with his unhappy mother 
the duchess, under the charge of Captain Lammie, a 
soldier of fierce and brutal habits, and a determined 
enemy of the house of Hamilton. Yet these accumu- 
lated miseries do not appear to have excited the slightest 
degree of sympathy in this unfeeling age ; and when 
Elizabeth, compassionating the misfortunes of the 

* MS. British Museum, Occurrences out of Scotland, May 14, 1579, and 
May 24, 1579, Caligula, C. v. fol. 120, copy. Also, MS. Letter, May 9, 
Bowes 11 Papers. Also, MS. Ibid. Caligula, C. v. fol. 122, Notes of Occur- 
rences, 1st June, 1579. Also, MS. Calderwood, British Museum, Ayscough's 
Catalogue, 4735, fol. 1083. 

1579. JAMES VI 47 

Hamiltons, despatched her envoy Captain Arrington, 
to plead their cause at the Scottish court, he found the 
young king, and the whole body of the nobility, in- 
flamed with the deepest hatred against them, expressing 
a conviction that their restoration would be dangerous 
to his person, and resolute against their pardon or 

In the midst of these cruel transactions, Athole the 
chancellor, and the great leader of the confederacy 
against Morton, died suddenly, under circumstances 
of much suspicion. -f- He had just returned from a 
banquet, given by Morton at Stirling to commemorate 
the reconciliation of the nobles ; and the symptoms 
of poison so strongly indicated themselves both before 
and after death, that his friends did not hesitate to 
say publicly, that he had met with foul play from 
the ex -regent, who, however, treated the report with 
contempt. The body was opened, and examined by a 
learned circle of " mediciners, chirurgeons, and poti- 
caries ; " but they disagreed in their verdict. By 
some the poison was so plainly detected, that they 
declared there was not a doubt upon the subject; whilst 
Dr Preston, the most eminent physician of the time, 
was equally positive that there was 'no poison in the 
case, certainly none in the stomach. On being irri- 
tated by contradiction, however, he had the temerity 
to touch a portion of its contents with his tongue, and, 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Nicolas Arrington to Burghley, October 
10, 1579, Berwick. Caligula, C. v. fol. 130. See Proofs and Illustrations, 
No. III. 

f He died at Kincardine castle, on the north side of the Ochils, a strong- 
hold of the Earl of Montrose, on the 25th April, 1579. " The whole friends 
of the dead are convened at Dunkeld upon the third of May, where the young 
Earls of Athole and Montrose put in deliberation what were best way to 
come by revenge of this heinous fact." MS. Letter, 5th May, 1579, without 
a signature, to Sir George Bowes, enclosed in a letter to Mr Archibald 

Douglas. Bowes' Papers. Also, MS. Letter, Bowes' Papers, to Sir R. 

Bowes. See Proofs and Illustrations, No. IV. 


to the triumph of his dissentient brethren, almost died 
in consequence, nor did he ever completely recover the 
unlucky experiment.* In the meantime, though the 
dark report was thus strengthened, Morton's power, 
and the absence of all direct proof, protected him from 
any farther proceedings. 

Some time after this, the General Assembly of the 
Kirk met at Edinburgh ; and having chosen Mr 
Thomas Smeton for their Moderator, at his request 
appointed a council of the brethren to advise with him 
upon matters of importance. To this council Mr 
Thomas Duncanson, minister of the royal household, 
presented a letter from the young king, which contained 
a request, that the Assembly would at present abstain 
from debating upon such matters touching the polity 
of the Kirk, as in a former conference had been referred 
for debate and decision to the Estates of Parliament. 
The same letter informed them, that parliament would 
shortly meet and take these matters into consideration ; 
and it expressed the king's hope, that, in the mean 
season, the assembly would exert themselves to pro- 
mote peace and godly living, not only amongst their 
own members, but throughout the whole body of the 
subjects of the realm ; so that the expectations of such 
busy meddlers as were enemies to the public tranquil- 
lity, should be disappointed. 

The Assembly having taken this royal letter into 
consideration, in its turn appointed a committee of 
their brethren, the principal of whom were Erskine 
of Dun, Duncanson the king's minister, and Andrew 
Melvil, to wait upon the king, with some requests to 
which they besought his attention. These were that 
he would interdict all parents, under heavy penalties, 

* MS. Calderwood, British Museum, pp. 1083, 1084. 

1579. JAMES vi. 49 

from sending their children to be educated at the uni- 
versity of Paris, or other foreign colleges professing 
Papistry; that he would cause the university of St 
Andrew's, some of whose professors had recently left 
the Protestant communion, to he reformed in all its 
colleges and foundations ; and take order for the 
banishment of Jesuits, whom the Assembly denomi- 
nated " the pestilent dregs of a most detestable idola- 
try." They further besought him to proceed to a 
farther conference upon such points of church policy 
as had been left undetermined at the last conference 
at Stirling, and to desist from controlling or suspend- 
ing, by his royal letters, any of the decrees of the 
General Assembly.* Calderwood, the zealous and 
able historian of the Scottish Kirk, has pronounced a 
high eulogium upon the learning, holiness, and una- 
nimity of this Assembly ."f" 

Not long after this, Esme Stewart, commonly called 
Monsieur D'Aubigny, cousin to the king, and a youth 
of graceful figure and accomplishments, arrived in 
Scotland. j He was the son of John Stewart, brother 
of Matthew earl of Lennox, the late regent, and had 
scarce been a week at court when he became a great 
favourite with his royal relative. It was immediately 
whispered, that he had been sent over by the Guises, 
to fill Athens place as leader of the French faction, 
and to act as a counterpoise to the predominating in- 
fluence of Morton. He was accompanied by Monsieur 
Momberneau, and Mr Henry Ker, the first a man 
of great wit and liveliness, gay, gallant, and excelling 

* MS. Calderwoocl, sub anno 1579, British Museum, Ayscough's Cata- 
logue, 4735, p. 1092. 

t Ibid. fol. 1092. 

J On the 8th September, 1579. MS. Letter, Bowes' Papers, an anony- 
mous correspondent, whose mark is 4, to Sir G. Bowes, SJth September. 



in all the sports and pastimes to which the young 
monarch was partial; the second, Ker, of a more subtle 
and retired character, who had been long a confiden- 
tial servant of Aubigny's, and was strongly suspected 
-by the ministers of the Kirk to be a secret agent of 
the Guises. 

All this excited the fears of Elizabeth ; and the in- 
formation sent her by her secret agents, both in Scot- 
land and France, was by no means calculated to remove 
her apprehension. As D'Aubigny and his friends, 
however, acted as yet with great caution and reserve, 
the queen contented herself, for the moment, with a 
mission of observation and inquiry; for which she 
selected Captain Nicolas Arrington, a brave and 
intelligent officer of the garrison of Berwick, who had 
already been repeatedly employed in Scotland. His 
open instructions were to intercede with James for 
some favour to the Hamiltons ; his more secret orders, 
to acquaint himself with the character and intentions 
of D'Aubigny, the state of parties, and what projects 
were then .agitated for the young king's marriage. On 
the first point, the pardon, or at least the more lenient 
punishment of the house of Hamilton, he prevailed 
nothing, so deep was James's hatred, or perhaps more 
truly, that of Morton, against it. With regard to 
the marriage, Arrington informed Burghley, that 
neither the council nor D'Aubigny had yet made any 
formal proposal upon the subject. " It was evident," he 
said, "that the young French stranger had already won 
the affection of his royal kinsman, and might look for 
high preferment;" probably to be Earl of Lennox, with 
a large share of the forfeited lands of the Hamiltons, if 
he could be prevailed upon to change his religion.* 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula. C. v. fol. 130, Nicolas Airing- 
ton to Burghley, October 10, 1579, Berwick. 

1579. JAMES VI. 51 

The old soldier who thus wrote to Burghley, re- 
quested his indulgence, should his information prove 
incorrect, as he had been more familiar with " another 
weapon than the pen ; "" but the course of events soon 
proved the accuracy of his intelligence. Wherever 
James went, he insisted on having D'Aubigny beside 
him. When he removed, for the purpose of holding 
his parliament, from Stirling to Holyrood, his graceful 
cousin had splendid apartments provided for him in 
the palace, next to the royal bed-chamber ; and in 
the sports and pageants with which the citizens received 
their monarch, the favourite, for so he was now de- 
clared, found himself universally regarded and courted. 
The expensive scale on which these civic festivities 
were conducted, evinced a remarkable increase in the 
national wealth. They exhibited the usual confusion 
of classical, feudal, and religious machinery; in which 
" Dame Musick," attended by four fair virgins repre- 
senting the cardinal virtues, and the provost and three 
hundred citizens, clad in velvet and satin, enacted their 
parts with t great assiduity and success. Whilst the 
twentieth psalm was being sung, a little child emerged 
from a silver globe, which opened artificially over the 
king's head, and fluttering down to his majesty's feet, 
presented him with the keys of the city. Religion, a 
grave matron, then conducted him into the High 
Church ; and thence, after hearing sermon, the mon- 
arch and the congregation repaired to the Market 
Cross, where Bacchus sat on a gilded puncheon, with 
his painted garments and a flowery garland. The 
fountains ran wine ; the principal street of the city 
was hung with tapestry, and, at the conclusion of the 
procession, the town presented the king with a cup- 


board of plate, valued, says a minute chronicler, at six 
thousand merks.* 

These pageants were introductory to the parliament 
which assembled on the twentieth of October, and, as 
had been anticipated by Arrington, was principally 
occupied with the proscription of the Hamiltons, and 
the exaltation of D'Aubigny. The Lord Arbroath and 
Lord Claud Hamilton, with many more of the same 
name and house, were proclaimed traitors, and their 
estates forfeited ; whilst all who had been partakers in 
the slaughter of the two regents, Moray and Lennox, 
were commanded, under pain of death, to remove six 
miles from court. On the other hand, the king con- 
ferred the earldom of Lennox upon his favourite, and 
presented him, at the same time, with the rich abbacy 
of Arbroath. Not long after, the stream of royal favour 
flowed still more munificently. He was made Cham- 
berlain for Scotland; his earldom, it was reported, would 
be soon erected into a dukedom ; and he was so caressed 
by the young sovereign, that Argyle and many of the 
principal nobility began not only to treat him with 
high consideration, but, according to the common usage 
of the times, to enter into those bands or covenants 
by which they bound themselves to his service, and 
with which the reader of this history is already so well 
acquainted. }* 

Morton, however, and the ministers of the Kirk, 
still kept aloof: the one animated by that proud and 
haughty feeling which prompted him rather to crush 
than to court a rival : the ministers, from the horror 

* Moyse's Memoirs, Bannatyne edition, p. 25. Also, MS. Calderwood, 
British Museum, vol. ii. p. 1099. Historic of James the Sext, p. 179, Ban- 
natyne edition. 

t MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 133, and also 135, 
Bowes to Burghley, October 22, 1579, Berwick. Lennox was created Earl 
of Lennox (Douglas, vol. ii. p. 99) on March 5, 1579-80. 

1579. JAMES VI. 53 

with which they regarded all Roman Catholics, and 
the suspicions they had from the first entertained that 
D^Aubigny was a secret emissary of the pope and the 
Guises. When these fears were once excited, the 
churches resounded with warnings against the dark 
machinations of popery ; and the pulpit, as had fre- 
quently happened in these times, became a political 
engine. It was recollected that the Duke of Guise 
had accompanied D\A.ubigny to Dieppe, and remained 
with him for many hours in secret conference in the 
ship ; D^Aubigny had been known also to have had 
consultations with the Bishops of Glasgow* and Ross ; 
and for what purpose (so the ministers argued) could 
the forty thousand crowns, which he brought with him, 
be so naturally applied as in corrupting the Protestant 
nobles? Nay, was it not known that a part had 
already found its way into the coffers of the Lady 
Argyle; and did not all men see the warm and sudden 
friendship between her husband the earl, and the fa- 
vourite ? -f- 

Amid these suspicions and jealousies, the year 1579 
passed away ; and it was apparent to all who regarded 
the state of the country with attention, that it could 
not long remain without some sudden change or con- 
vulsion. The king was wretchedly poor; and the 
revenues of the crown, during his minority, had been 
plundered and dilapidated to such an extent that he 
could not raise three thousand pounds to defray the 
expenses of his household. The nobility, on the other 
hand, were rich ; they had prospered as the crown had 
sunk ; and so determined were they to hold fast their 
gains, that they " would spare nothing they possessed 

* State-paper Office, French Correspondence, Paulet to Walsinghara, 
August 29, 157.0, Paris, 
t MS. Caldenvood, British Museum, sub anno 1579, fol. 10S8. 


to the king's aid, without deadly feud." * It had been 
earnestly recommended, that the king's person, in those 
unsettled times, should be defended by a body-guard, 
and that six privy-councillors, in rotation, should 
always remain with the court : but no funds could be 
raised to pay the soldiers' wages ; the councillors 
refused to support a table for themselves ; no money 
was forthcoming elsewhere ; and the king was fre- 
quently left almost alone, without court or council 
around him; a state of destitution which, it was justly 
apprehended, might lead to the most dangerous results. 
When Elphinston abbot of Dunfermline was sent 
to England, in the preceding summer,^ his main pur- 
pose was to explain to the queen the poverty under 
which the young prince had entered on his govern- 
ment ; the great insecurity of his person, surrounded 
as he daily was by men "who had dipped their hands 
in the blood of his parents and dearest kinsfolks," and 
the absolute necessity for a supply of money to pay 
the expenses of his guards and household.]: But 
Elizabeth could not be induced to advance any sup- 
plies-; and these evils and dangers had ever since been 
on the increase. Since the arrival of Lennox, too, 
the feuds amongst the nobility had risen to an alarm- 
ing height. Morton, jealous of the new favourite, and 
animated by a hatred of Argyle, absented himself 
from court ; the powerful Border septs of the Humes 
and Cars regarded the ex-regent with the deadliest 
rancour ; Elphinston, the king's secretary, a man of 
talent, and long his firm friend, was now estranged 

* MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 155, Copy, Memorial of the 
present state of Scotland, December 31, 1579. 

t 30th July, 1578. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Demands of the Abbot of Dunfermline, 
Ambassador from the King of Scots, 30th July, 1578. 

1580. JAMES VI. 55 

from him ; and even the potent Angus, his nephew 
and his heir, kept at a safe distance, and watched 
events. But Morton's great wealth, his energy, cou- 
rage, and experience, made him still a formidable 
enemy ; and they who most wished his downfall, 
knew not on what side to attack him. The young 
king, in the mean time, who had always felt an awe 
for the late regent, became daily more devoted to 
Lennox, whom, with a boyish enthusiasm, and a pre- 
cocious display of theology, he was labouring to con- 
vert from what he esteemed his religious errors. He 
gave him books of controversy, brought him to attend 
the sermons of the ministers, procured one of the 
mildest and most learned of their number to instruct 
him, and so far succeeded, that, if not converted, he 
was reported to be favourably inclined to the Protes- 
tant Church. Any sudden recantation would have 
been suspicious ; and, meanwhile, his royal and youth- 
ful mentor congratulated himself upon his favourite's 
hopeful and inquiring state.* 

Amid these cares.and controversies, a sudden rumour 
arose, none could tell from what quarter, that the 
Earl of Morton had plotted to seize the king, and 
carry him to Dalkeith. How this was to be effected, 
no one could tell ; but James, who had ridden out on 
a hunting expedition, precipitately interdicted the 
sports, and galloped back to Stirling castle. Morton 
loudly declared his innocence, and defied his calum- 
niators to bring their proofs ; yet scarcely had this 
challenge been given, when the court was again thrown 
into terror and confusion, by news secretly brought 
to the Earl of Mar, that Lennox and his faction had 

* MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 2, Captain Arlington to 
Burghley, 4th April, 1580, Stirling. 


fixed on the night of the 10th April to invade the 
royal apartments, lay hands on the king, hurry him 
to Dumbarton, and thence transport him to France.* 
It was whispered, also, that a deep confederacy had 
been formed against the Earl of Morton by the same 
junto: that Sir James Balfour, now a fugitive in 
France, and one who was well known to have been a 
chief accomplice in the murder of the king's father, 
had promised to purchase his pardon, by giving up the 
bond for the murder, signed by Morton's own hand ; 
and that thus there was every hope of bringing the 
hoary and blood-stained tyrant to the scaffold, which 
had so long waited for him. 

In the midst of these ominous rumours, the night 
of the 10th April arrived, and all in the castle prepared 
for an attack. Mar permitted none to see the king ; 
soldiers were stationed within and without the royal 
chamber ; and a shout arising, that Lennox ought to 
be thrust out of the gates, he shut himself up in his 
apartments, with a strong guard of his friends, armed 
at all points, and swore that he would set upon any 
that dared invade him. In the morning, Argyle, 
Sutherland, Glencairn, and other adherents of Len- 
nox, hurried to Stirling ; but were refused admittance 
to the castle ; and their fears for Lennox increased, 
when they heard it reported, that Morton was on the 
road to join his party. All was thus in terror and 
uncertainty : men gazed, trembled, and whispered 
fearfully amongst each other, aware that secret plots 
were busily concocting ; that the ground they stood 
on was being mined : and yet none could tell where 
the blow would fall, or when the train might be ex- 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 8, Captain Arriiig- 
ton to Lord Burghley, 16th April, 1580, Berwick. 

1580. JAMES VI. 57 

ploded. At this moment, Captain Arrington, Eliza- 
beth's envoy, was in Stirling castle, and thus wrote 
to Burghley : " The young king is in heavy case, and 
much amazed with these troubles, and the more by 
reason of his great affection towards D'Aubigny, whom 
he perceives the mark they shoot at. Mons. D'Au- 
bigny, with his faction, doth offer to abide the .trial by 
law, or otherwise, in their very persons, that there was 
never any such plot or meaning by him, or his con- 
sent, or by any others to their knowledge, to have 
drawn the king either to Dumbarton or any other 
sinister course."* 

It is difficult to arrive at the truth amidst these 
conflicting accusations of the two factions. Elizabeth 
certainly had received a warning from her ambassador 
in France, that there was a design on foot to have the 
young king brought thither; and Morton had probably 
been encouraged by the English queen to prevent it 
by every possible means. -f Lennox, on the other hand, 
although he indignantly, and probably truly, repelled 
any such treasonable intentions, avowed his wish to 
reform the council, and protect the king from the pil- 
lage of the blood-suckers of the royal revenue, who had 
been thrust into their offices by Morton and Mar. In 
this project, James himself appears to have borne a 
part ; and had probably intended, under pretence of a 
hunting party at the Doune of Menteith, to have 
escaped from the tutelage of Mar, and accomplished a 
revolution in the court. J The secret project, however, 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 7, Arrington to Wal- 
singham or Burghley, 10th April, 1580, Stirling. The address of the letter 
is torn away. 

t MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 17 and 18, copy, 
Lord Treasurer and Walsingham to Mr Robert Bowes, April 17, 1580. 

British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 29, Bowes to Burghley and 
Walsingham, May 10, 1580, Stirling. 


was discovered, and defeated by the vigilance of the 
house of Erskine. 

In the mean time, the picture drawn by Arrington, 
of the dangerous state of the country, threw Elizabeth 
into alarm, and she immediately despatched Sir Robert 
Bowes to Stirling. His instructions were to strengthen, 
by every means, the decaying influence of Morton, 
to declare the queen's willingness to gain some of the 
chief in authority by pensions, to pull down the 
power of Lennox, to plead for the pardon of the 
Hamiltons, and thoroughly to sift the truth of the 
late rumours of a conspiracy for carrying off the young 
king. Bowes also, before he set out, received a letter 
from Secretary Walsingham, recommending him to 
use the utmost vigilance in this mission. This, he 
said, was most necessary, as it was already reported 
in Spain, that mass was set up once more in Scotland, 
and arms taken against the Protestants ; and, as he 
knew for certain, that Ker of Fernyhirst, a Roman 
Catholic and an active friend of the Scottish queen, 
with Bothwellhaugh, the blood-stained Hamilton who 
had shot the Regent Moray, had recently ridden post 
from France into Spain.* 

On reaching court, the ambassador was received by 
the young king with great courtesy : but James 1 
manner instantly changed when any allusion was made 
to the Hamiltons ; and it was evident to all that Bowes 1 
exertions on this head would be unavailing.^ It was 
apparent, also, that the revival of Morton's former power 
promised to be a matter of extreme difficulty. He 
himself was so completely convinced of the strength 

* Draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Bowes, May 3, 1580. 
+ MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 25, Bowes to Burgh- 
ley and Walsingham, May 3, 1580, Stirling. 

1580. JAMES VI. 59 

of his enemies, and the deep estrangement of the king, 
that he had resolved to retire altogether from public 
affairs. In a secret conference, held in the night, with 
Bowes at Stirling castle, the ex-regent expressed much 
doubt whether it was not too late to attempt anything 
against Lennox, who now professed himself a Protes- 
tant, and had so completely conciliated the ministers 
of the Kirk, that they addressed a letter in his com- 
mendation to the council.* 

As to the late rumoured conspiracies for carrying off 
the king, the ambassador found it difficult to discover 
the truth : but he was witness to a strange scene of 
violence and brawling before the council, in which 
Morton, Mar, and Lennox, gave the lie to their accu- 
sers; and the king, with much feeling and good sense, 
exerted himself to restore peace : a striking contrast, 
no doubt, to Bowes' experience of the decorous gravity 
and awe preserved by Elizabeth in her council, in which 
the highest nobles generally spoke upon their knees, 
and none but her majesty was permitted to lose temper. 
On the subject of the alleged plot of Lennox, James 
was at first reserved, although he expressed much love 
and admiration for Elizabeth ; but the ambassador, at 
last, gained his confidence, and drew from him many 
particulars, which showed that the conspiracy, intended 
to have been carried into effect at castle Doune, involv- 
ed the ruin of Morton, the dismissal of Mar and other 
obnoxious councillors, and a complete reconstruction 
of the government under Lennox and Argyle. As it 
appeared, also, that Sir JohnSeton, Sir George Douglas, 
and some of the captive queen's most attached servants 
were to have been brought into the council, Bowes at 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 31, Bowes to Burgh- 
ley and Walsingham, May 10, 1580, Stirling, 


once suspected that the design originated in France, 
and that Lennox and his youthful sovereign acted 
under the influence of the Guises. He was the more 
persuaded of this, when Morton assured him that, 
since D 1 Aubigny' > s arrival, the king^s feelings had 
undergone a great change in favour of that country. 

But the time called for action, not for speculation ; 
and on consulting with his friends, regarding the most 
likely means of a verting the dangers threatened by this 
alarming state of things, there were many conflicting 
opinions. It was recommended to have tried council- 
lors about the king, and a strong body-guard to prevent 
surprise ; as it had been remarked, that the late alarms 
and plots had all broken out when there was scarce a 
single councillor at court who could be depended upon. 
Yet this could not be done without money ; and where 
was money to be had in the present exhausted state 
of the royal revenue \ * Soon after this, the ambas- 
sador took .an opportunity of seeing the young king 
alone, and delivering a secret message from Elizabeth, 
upon a subject of the deepest interest to both : his suc- 
cession to the English crown after her death. The 
particulars of the interview, and the answer given by 
James, were communicated in cipher, in a letter of 
which the address is now lost, but which was written 
probably to Burghley or Walsiugharn, his usual cor- 
respondents when the subject was of high moment. 
" In private with the king (so wrote the ambassador) 
I have offered to acquaint him with a secret greatly 
importing him and his estate, and lately discovered to 
me by letters, which were not out of the way in case 
he should desire sight thereof ; and, taking his honour 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 24 and 27, inclusive, 
and fol. 28 and 32, Bowes to Burghley and Walsingliam, May 3, 1580. The 
same to the same, May 10, 1580. 

1580. JAMES VI. 61 

in pledge for the secrecy, which he readily tendered, I 
opened to him, at large, all the contents specified in the 
cipher note last sent to me, and to be communicated to 
him, persuading him earnestly to beware that he made 
not himself the cause of greater loss to him, than France, 
Scotland, or Lennox could countervail. He appeared 
here to be very much perplexed ; affirming that he 
would both most chiefly follow her majesty's advice, 
and also ask and require her counsel in all his great 
adoes. * * * In which good resolution and mind 
(continued Bowes) I left him; wherein with good 
company and handling I think he may be well continu- 
ed. But Lennox having won great interest in him, 
and possessing free and sure access to him at all times, 
* * I dare not, therefore, assure, in his tender years, 
any long continuance or sure performance of this pro- 
mise." * These anticipations of James' fickleness 
proved to be well founded ; for neither the prize held 
out by Elizabeth, nor all the efforts of Bowes could 
retain the monarch in his good resolutions. The in- 
fluence of Lennox and his friends became daily more 
predominant ; his youthful master's arguments on the 
errors of the Church of Rome, seconded by the expo- 
sitions of the Presbyterian clergy, had, as he affirmed, 
convinced him ; he had publicly avowed his conversion 
to Protestantism, and had signed the articles of religion 
drawn up by the Scottish clergy. His enemies were 
thus deprived of their principal ground of complaint and 
alarm ; and although they accused him of insincerity > 
and certainly the circumstances under which this re- 
cantation was made, were suspicious, still, as he after- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Orig. cipher and decipher. The letter 
contains proof that its date must be May 16 or 17, 1580. 


wards died professing himself a Protestant, we have 
every reason to believe his assertions to have been 


But whether at this moment sincere or interested, 
Lennox's conversion, and consequent increase of power, 
placed Morton, and the other old friends of England, 
in a dangerous predicament. Had they been assured 
of immediate support, they were ready, they said, to 
resist the intrigues of France, which became every day 
more successful, the Bishops of Ross and Glasgow 
keeping up a correspondence with Lennox. But 
Elizabeth, as Walsingham confessed to Bowes, was so 
completely occupied and entangled with the negotiations 
for her marriage with the Duke of Anjou, that every 
other subject was postponed. No answer, which pro- 
mised any certain assistance, arrived ; and Morton, 
wearied out and irritated with this neglect, declared 
to the ambassador, that he would be constrained to 
provide for his personal safety by a reconciliation 
with Lennox. "He utterly distrusted," he said, 
" Elizabeth's intention to ,be at any charges for the 
affairs of Scotland ; his own peril was great and immi- 
nent ; yet, had he been backed by England, he would 
have adventured to beard his enemies, and to have 
retained the country at the devotion of the queen. 
It was too late now ; and to save himself from ruin, 
he would be driven to means which could be profitable 
to neither of the realms, and were much against his 
heart." "j* Bowes soon after was recalled from Scot- 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 36, Bowes to Burghley 
and Walsingham, May 16, 1580, Edinburgh. 

(" MS. Letter, State- paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, August 2, 1580. 

J On the 2d August he seems to have been at Edinburgh ; on the 10th 
August he was at Berwick. 

1580. JAMES VI. 63 




England. I France. 
Elizabeth. I Henry III. 

Rudolph II. 

Philip II. 

Portugal. I Pope. 
Philip II. I Gregory XIII, 

FOR some time after this, Elizabeth's policy towards 
Scotland was of that vacillating and contradictory kind 
which estranged her friends, and gave confidence to her 
opponents. She had been early warned by Sir Robert 
Bowes, then resident at Berwick, of the great strength 
of the confederacy at the head of which Lennox had 
placed himself, and that soon no efforts would .avail 
against it.* " Such had been," he said, " the success 
of the French intrigues, that Scotland was running 
headlong the French course ; "*f* and that everything 
tended to the overthrow of religion, by which we 
must understand him as meaning the Presbyterian 
party in that country. " Still," he added, " all was 
not irrecoverable, if the queen would dismiss her parsi- 
mony, and take the true way to secure friends." But 
Elizabeth was deaf to these remonstrances. She alter- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, June 27, 1580, Bowes to Walsingham. 
Also, September 1, 1.580, Walsingliam to Bowes. Also, September 6, 1,580, 
Bowes to Walsingham ; and September 18, 1580, Walsingham to Bowes. 
Orig. draft. 

+ MS. Letter. State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham. August 10. 
1580, Berwick. 


nately flattered, remonstrated, and threatened; but 
she resolutely refused to " go to any charges ; " and 
the effects of her indecision and neglect were soon ap- 

Lennox grew daily more formidable. As he was sup- 
ported by the favour of the king, and the countenance 
and money of France, he drew into his party the most 
powerful of the nobility. His possessions and landed 
property were already great. Favour after favour 
was bestowed. Himself, or his friends and retainers, 
held some of the strongest castles in Scotland ; and 
not long after this, Walsingham, who was anxiously 
watching his power, heard, with dismay, from Bowes, 
that Dumbarton, one of the most important keys of 
the kingdom, was to be delivered to the favourite.^ 

This last determination incensed Elizabeth to the 
highest pitch. She had for some time been engaged 
in a secret correspondence with the captain of the 
castle, the noted Cunningham of Drumquhassel, who 
had promised to retain it at her devotion ; and on the 
first intimation that it was to be placed in the hands of 
Lennox, she ordered Sir Robert Bowes to ride post 
from Berwick into Scotland, with a fiery message, to 
be delivered to the Scottish council. The imperious 
and unscrupulous temper of the queen was strongly 
marked in his instructions. If he found the fortress 
(for so its great strength entitled it to be called) un- 
delivered, he was to remonstrate loudly against its 
being surrendered to one who, whatever mask the pope 

* MS. Letters, State-paper Office, draft, Walsingham to Bowes, 31st 
August, 1580 ; and same to same, August 10, 1580. Also, Orig. draft, 
Elizabeth to Morton, June 22, 1580 ; and Bowes to Walsingham, July 9, 
1580. Also, Orig. draft, Walsingham to Bowes, 1st June, 1580. 

j- MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham and Burghley, 
August 31, 1580. 

1580. JAMES VI. 65 

allowed him to wear, was in his heart an enemy to the 
Gospel. If it was too late, and the castle already given 
up, he was instantly to confer with Morton how so 
fatal a step could be remedied : " Either (to quote the 
words of the instructions) by laying violent hands on 
the duke and his principal associates, in case no other 
more temperate course can be found, or by some other 
way that by him might be thought meet." * 

Bowes hurried on to Edinburgh ; met with Morton, 
whom he found still bold, and ready to engage in any 
attack upon his rival ; and had already given him 
"some comfort to prick him on" meaning, no doubt, 
an advance in money, when new letters arrived from 
the queen. A single day had revived her parsimony, 
and cooled her resentment : it would be better, she 
thought, to try persuasion first, and forbear advising 
force, or any promise of assistance. None could answer 
for the consequences of a civil war. They might seize 
the young king, carry him to Dumbarton, and thence 
transport him to France.-f- 

Bowes was directed, at the same time, to alarm 
James 1 fears, for a second time, on the subject of the 
succession, to assure him, in great secrecy, that if he 
continued obstinately to prefer D'Aubigny's persua- 
sions to the counsels of his mistress, his right would be 
cut off by an act of parliament, and the title to the 
English throne established in the person of another.]: 
This threat, however, had been so often repeated, that 
it produced not the slightest effect; and Elizabeth 
soon after recalled her ambassador, commanding him, 
before he left the Scottish court, to upbraid the king 

* Orig. draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Bowes, August 30, 
1580. Endorsed by Walsingham 's hand, " My letter to Mr Bowes." 
t MS. State-paper Office, Walsingham to Bowes. September 1, 1580. 
J State-paper Office, copy, Walsingham to Bowes, Sept. 10, 1580. 



with his ingratitude. His farewell interview was a 
stormy one. " His royal mistress, 1 ' he said, " was 
bitterly mortified to find that this was all the return 
for her care of James ever since his cradle. She had 
little expected to be treated with contempt, and to see 
promoted to credit and honour the very man against 
whom she had expressed so much suspicion and dislike ; 
but hereafter, he might find what it was to prefer a 
Duke of Lennox before a Queen of England."* 

This retirement of Bowes greatly strengthened 
D'Aubigny. The young king became more attached 
to the interests of France : he entered into communi- 
cation with his mother, the imprisoned queen ;{ and 
whilst the courts of Rome, Paris, and Madrid, united 
their endeavours to procure her liberty, Lennox per- 
suaded James to second their efforts, and to overwhelm 
their opponents by a mighty stroke. This was the 
destruction of Morton, the bitterest enemy of the 
Scottish queen, and whose recent intrigues with the 
English ambassador had shown that, although his power 
was diminished, his will to work their ruin was as active 
as before. Their plot against him, which had been in 
preparation for some time, was now ripe for execution, 
and it was determined to arraign him as guilty of the 
murder of Darnley. That he had been an active agent 
in the conspiracy against that unhappy prince was 
certain; and that Archibald Douglas, another power- 
ful member of the house of Douglas, had been person- 
ally present at the murder was well known ; but this 
could be said of others who had escaped prosecution ; 
and as to Morton, although shorn of much of his power 

* Orig. draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Bowes, Oct. 7, 1580. 
The title of duke here given by Walsingham to Lennox seems premature. 
Lennox was not created a duke till August, 158] See postea, p. 99. 

j- See Proofs and Illustrations, No. V. 

1580. JAMES VI. 67 

and lustre, he was still so dreaded, that no one, for 
many years, had dared to whisper an accusation against 
him. The arrival of Lennox, however, had changed 
the scene ; and this new favourite of his sovereign was 
now risen to such a height of power, that, finding the 
late regent intriguing with Elizabeth against him, 
he determined to pull down and destroy his enemy at 

For this purpose many things then assisted. Mor- 
ton had quarrelled with the Kirk, and lost the confi- 
dence of its ministers ; he was hated by the people for 
his avarice and severe exactions during his regency ; 
and his steady adherence to England had made him 
odious to the friends of the imprisoned queen and the 
party of France. Lennox, therefore, had every hope 
of success ; and to effect his purpose, he employed a 
man well calculated to cope with such an antagonist. 
This was James Stewart, Captain of the Royal Guard, 
and second son of Lord Ochiltree, who had already 
risen into great favour with the king, and was after- 
wards destined to act a noted part in the history of the 
country. Stewart had received a learned education ; 
and from the principles of his father and his near con- 
nexion with Knox, who had married his sister, was 
probably destined for the Church. But his daring 
and ambitious character threw him into active life : he 
embraced the profession of arms, served as a soldier of 
fortune in the wars of France and Sweden, visited 
Russia, and afterwards returned to his own country, 
where he soon won the confidence of the young king 
and the Duke of Lennox, by his noble presence and 
elegant accomplishments. Beneath these lighter at- 
tractions, however, he concealed a mind utterly reckless 
and licentious in its principles, confident and courageous 


to excess, intolerant of the opinions of other men, and 
unscrupulous as to the means he adopted to raise him- 
self into power. 

To this man, then only beginning to develop these 
qualities, was committed the bold task of arraigning 
Morton ; and to obtain complete proof of his guilt, it 
was arranged that Sir James Balfour, who was believed 
to have in his possession the bond for Darnley's murder, 
and who was himself a principal assassin, should come 
secretly from France, and exhibit this paper with 
Morton's signature attached to it. 

In this last scene of his life, the ex-regent exhibited 
the hereditary pride and courage of the house of Dou- 
glas. He had been warned of the danger he incurred, 
and the storm which was-about to burst over his head, 
two days before, when hunting with the king. But 
he derided it ; and on the last of December, the day 
on which he fell into the toils, took his place, as usual, 
at the council table, where the king presided. After 
some unimportant business, the usher suddenly entered 
and declared that Captain James Stewart was at the 
door, and earnestly craved an audience. The request 
was immediately granted ; and Stewart, advancing to 
the table, fell on his knees, and instantly accused Morton 
of the king's murder. " My duty to your highness," 
said he, addressing the king, " has brought me here to 
reveal a wickedness that has been too long obscured. 
It was that man (pointing to the earl) now sitting at 
this table, a place he is unworthy to occupy, that con- 
spired your royal father's death. Let him be com- 
mitted for trial, and I shall make good my words."* 

Amidst the amazement and confusion occasioned by 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingliam and Burghley, 
January 1, 1580-1. 

] 580. JAMES vi. 69 

this sudden and bold impeachment, the only person 
unmoved was Morton himself. Rising from his seat, 
he cast a momentary and disdainful glance upon his 
accuser, and then firmly regarding the king, " 1 know 
not," he said, " by whom this informer has been set on, 
and it were easy for one of my rank to refuse all reply 
to so mean a person ; but I stand upon my innocence 
I fear no trial. The rigour with which I have prose- 
cuted all suspected of that murder is well known ; and 
when I have cleared myself, it will be for your Majesty 
to determine what they deserve who have sent this 
perjured tool of theirs to accuse me !" These bitter 
terms Stewart threw back upon the earl with equal 
contempt and acrimony. " It is false, utterly false," 
he replied, " that any one has instigated me to make 
this accusation. A horror for the crime, a-nd zeal for 
the safety of my sovereign, have been my only counsel- 
lors ; and as to his pretended zeal against the guilty, 
let me ask him, where has he placed Archibald Dou- 
glas his cousin ? That most infamous of men, who was 
an actor in the tragedy, is now a senator, promoted to 
the highest seat of justice, and suffered to pollute that 
tribunal before which he ought to have been arraigned 
as the murderer of his prince."* 

This scene had begun calmly; but as these last 
words were uttered, Stewart had sprung upon his feet, 
and Morton laid his hand upon his sword, when Lords 
Lindsay and Cathcart threw themselves between them, 
and prevented a personal encounter.-f- The king then 
commanded both to be removed ; and, after a brief 
consultation, the Justice-clerk, who sat at the council- 

* Spottiswood, p. 310. 

t Harleian, 6999, fols. 3, 4, 5. Bowes to Walsingham, Jan. 7, Berwick, 


table, having declared that, on a charge of treason, the 
accused must instantly be warded, Morton was first shut 
up in the palace, and after one day's interval, committed 
to the castle of Edinburgh. Even there, however, he 
was not deemed secure from a rescue ; and his enemies 
were not contented till they had lodged him within 
the strong fortress of Dumbarton, of which Lennox, 
his great enemy, was governor.* 

On the same day that the ex-regent was committed, 
the council ordered his cousin, Archibald Douglas, to 
be seized ; and Hume of Manderston, with a party of 
horse, rode furiously all night to his castle of Morham : 
but Douglas had escaped, a few hours before, across 
the English Border, having received warning from his 
friend the Laird of Long- Niddry, who rode two horses to 
death in bringing him the news.^ Lennox and his fac- 
tion, however, had made sure of their principal victim ; 
and all was now headlong haste to hurry on his trial, 
and have the tragedy completed, before any interruption 
could be made, or any succour arrive. Yet this was 
not-easily accomplished. The story of his seizure had 
effectually roused Elizabeth. Randolph was despatch- 
ed, on the spur of the moment, to carry a violent re- 
monstrance to the king; and Lord Hunsdon, her 
cousin, a proud and fiery soldier, received orders to raise 
the power of the north, and lead an army into Scotland. 

But the envoy, on his arrival at Edinburgh, found 
it more difficult to revive a party for the delivery of 
Morton than he had anticipated. Matters were there 

* Calderwood, MS. Hist. Brit. Mus. Ayscough, sub anno 1581, fol. 1115. 
Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office. Walsingham to Randolph, January 
25, 1580-1. 

+ MS. Calderwood, sub anno 1581, fol. 1116. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Randolph, January 8, 

January 18, 1580-1. 

1580-1. JAMES VI. 71 

in so violent a state, and the English alliance so un- 
popular, that he dreaded assassination ; and prayed 
Walsingham, who had addressed him as an envoy, 
to vouchsafe him the name of an ambassador, if it 
were merely for protection, and to save him from 
personal violence.* On sounding the dispositions of 
the leading men, they appeared coldly affected. The 
Earl of Angus, indeed, Morton's nearest kinsman, was 
ready to peril all in the effort to save him ; but he 
stood alone. The rest of the nobles were either banded 
with Lennox, or held themselves aloof, till Hunsdon's 
soldiers should be seen crossing, and not threatening 
to cross the Border, and till Randolph had begun to 
pay them in better coin than promises. They had 
been so often deceived by the artful diplomacy of the 
English queen ; she had already so frequently incited 
them to take arms, under a promise of assistance, 
and left them, when it was too late to retreat ; that 
they were full of distrust and suspicion. Nor was the 
audience with the young king in any way more en- 
couraging. James had been irritated on Randolph's 
first arrival, by his refusal to have any intercourse 
with his favourite Lennox ; -f- and when the envoy 
attempted to justify himself, and offered to prove, by 
the production of an intercepted letter, that he was an 
agent of Rome and the house ofGuise, and carried on 
a secret intelligence with the enemies of both king- 
doms, the monarch answered with much spirit, that 
Lennox was an honourable nobleman, his own near 
kinsman, and that the accusation was perfectly false. 
He had come from motives of affection to visit him ; 

* MS. State-paper Office, Randolph to Walsingham, Jan. 22, 1580-1, 
Sunday. He arrived in Edinburgh on Wednesday the 18th Jan., 1580-1. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Randolph to Walsingham, Jan. 22, 1580-1, 
Edinburgh, Sunday. 


and as for the intercepted letter he spoke of, from the 
Bishop of Glasgow to the pope, if any such existed, 
it was either a forgery, or a design of that prelate for 
Lennox's ruin. " The bishop's character," said James, 
" is well known ; he is my declared traitor and rebel; 
a favourer and kinsman of the Harniltons, the mortal 
foes of the house of Lennox ; and no one would be 
more likely than Beaton to think his labour well be- 
stowed, if, by his letters and intrigues, he might cause 
me to suspect and discard my kinsman, who has em- 
braced the true religion, and is zealous for my honour 
and interest. On this head, 1 ' he added, " the duke 
is anxious for the fullest investigation, and will refuse 
no manner of trial to justify himself from so false a 
slander ; and as to the trial of Morton, (he concluded,) 
my good sister cannot be more solicitous on that head 
than I myself. But what would she have ? Can she 
complain, that a man accused, in my own presence, of 
the murder of my father, has been imprisoned till the 
evidence be collected against him ; or is it reasonable 
to be angry because the day of trial is not fixed, when 
she is aware that Archibald Douglas, a principal wit- 
ness, has fled into England, and that till the Queen 
of England delivers him up, Morton cannot possibly 
be arraigned ? * 

To all this Randolph had little to reply ; and every 
day convinced him more deeply than the preceding, 
that Morton's fate was sealed. Elizabeth, indeed, 
had at first talked proudly and authoritatively of her 
determination to save him ; and her ministers and 
soldiers borrowed her tone. Walsingham declared to 
Randolph, that if a hair of Morton's head were touched, 

* MS. State-paper Office, the King of Scots and his Council's Answer to 
Mr Randolph, Feb. 7, 1580-1. 

1580-L JAMES vi. 73 

it would cost the Queen of Scots her life.* Hunsdon 
addressed to the same ambassador a blustering epistle, 
anticipating his speedy invasion of Scotland, and full 
of threats against the " petty fellows" who were about 
the King of Scots.-f- Leicester, whose opinion ought 
to have had still greater weight, expressed himself in 
ominous and warning words : alluding to the dreadful 
fate of Darnley, " Let that young king take heed," 
said he. "If he prove unthankful to his faithful 
servants so soon, he cannot long tarry in that soil. 
Let the speed of his predecessors be his warning." J 
Bowes declared, that if Lennox were permitted to 
triumph, and Morton to fall, the quarrel would be no 
longer about the trifles of the Borders, but the right 
to the crown ; in which Scotland would be assisted by 
France and Spain, and fortified by a large party within 
England. And the wise Burghley, in his " Direc- 
tions" to Randolph, urged the necessity of immediate 
action to save Scotland from the domination of a con- 
cealed Papist so he described Lennox who, what- 
ever he might pretend to the contrary, had been 
permitted by the Court of Rome to dissemble his 
religion. || 

But this energy was short-lived, and spent itself in 
words. Hunsdon, after all his threats, protracted his 
levies ; not an English soldier crossed the Border ; 
and no decided support or supplies of money could be 
extracted from the caution and parsimony of the 
English queen ; whilst on the part of Lennox and his 

* MS. State-paper Office, Walsingham to Randolph, Feb. 9, 1580-1. 
t MS. State-paper Office, Hunsdon to Randolph, Feb. 3, 1580-1. 
$ MS. State-paper Office, Leicester to Randolph, Feb. 15, 1580-1. 
MS. State-paper Office, Bowes to Leicester, March 14, 1580-1, Berwick. 
|| MS. State-paper Office, Directions sent to Mr Randolph, -wholly in 
Burghley's hand, Feb. 17, 1580-1. 


adherents, all was vigour and warlike preparation. 
The whole force of the realm was summoned to be in 
readiness to resist the English army. Bands of 
"waged soldiers" so termed to distinguish them 
from the feudal militia of the country, who served 
without pay were enlisted, and added to the ordinary 
guard about the king's person ; and the three Estates 
assembled to vote supplies for the exigencies of the 
expected war with England. 

Before this parliament Randolph appeared and made 
his last great effort to bring about the deliverance of 
Morton, and overthrow the power of Lennox, by open 
negotiation and remonstrance. He spoke for two 
hours : insisted with much earnestness on the benefits 
to be derived from the friendship of his royal mistress ; 
described, in glowing terms, the dangers to be appre- 
hended from Lennox, whom he denounced as an agent 
of France and Rome ; and produced an intercepted 
letter from the Bishop of Ross, to prove his allega- 
tions. All these exertions, however, came too late, 
and were utterly unsuccessful. Lennox denied the 
charge, and demanded the fullest investigation. The 

o ' " 

parliament promised forty thousand pounds to sup- 
port the preparations against England ; daily rumours 
of war, and whisperings of the intrigues and conspira- 
cies which were fomented by the English diplomatist, 
agitated and inflamed the country; and at last, as 
Randolph himself described it, " Every day bred a 
new disorder ; men began to be stirring in all parts ; 
the ambassador grew odious, his death suspected, and 
the court in a manner desperate."* 

These suspicions of conspiracies were not without 
foundation ; for, from the moment of his arrival, 

* MS. State-paper Office, Mr Randolph's Negotiation in Scotland. 

1580-1. JAMES VI. 75 

Randolph had kept in his eye the third article in his 
instructions, which was, to raise a faction against 
Lennox, and employ force, either in seizing his person, 
or putting him to death in some open attack, if more 
conciliatory measures failed. * It was hoped that in 
this way the party in the interest of England might 
secure the person of the young king, and remove from 
him those obnoxious ministers who persuaded him to 
throw himself into the arms of France, and to seek 
the liberty of the imprisoned queen. The great ad- 
vocates for this plan were Sir Robert Bowes, Lord 
Hunsdon, Lord Huntingdon, and the Earl of Angus; 
but they differed somewhat as to the best mode of 
proceeding. Bowes seemed to have the least scruples 
as to employing force, for the separating James from 
his favourite. In a letter to Walsingham or Burgh- 
ley,^ written shortly after Randolph's arrival, he in- 
formed his correspondent, that the Scottish nobles 
were drawing to an association ; and that, amid the 
pageants with which the king and Lennox were then 
recreating the court, " a strange masque might be, 
perhaps, seen at Holyrood," which would check the 
triumph of the favourite. Hunsdon, whose fiery tem- 
per on no occasion brooked much delay, recommended 
martial measures ; and assured the English secretary, 
that Lennox must look for his dismissal to France, or 
to "something worse." J Huntingdon, a nobleman 
of the highest honour in these dark times, assured 
Randolph, that any attempt to restore English ascen- 
dancy by negotiation would be fruitless ; that open 

* MS. Instructions to Mr Randolph, Jan. 6, 1580-1. Also, Memorial for 
Secret Objects. Caligula, C. vi. 104-10(5. 

t The address is bst. MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. vi. fol. 113. 
Bowes to , Feb. 7, 1580-1, Berwick. 

J Harleian, 6999, fol. 203. Hunsdon to Walsingham, Feb. 6, 1580-1. 


war must be deprecated ; and that to get out of their 
difficulties by " murder" would be worst of all : but, 
he added, -that he could see no objection to another 
method, which had been already resorted to with suc- 
cess, and that more than once, in Scottish history. 
"Why may not some of the nobility, assisted by Eng- 
land, say to the king, ' Your Grace is young ; you 
cannot judge for yourself, and must be rescued from 
this French stranger, who abuses your confidence ;"" 
and then, 11 he added, " if Lennox resisted and took 
arms, let them unarm him if they can, and let our 
royal mistress assist them." * 

Amidst these various and conflicting opinions, Ran- 
dolph laboured busily, and with the ardour of a man 
in his native element ; so that at last a band or associ- 
ation was " packed up," to use the common phrase of 
the times, amongst the nobles ; and Bowes informed 
Leicester of the intentions of the conspirators, in a 
letter which shows, when taken in connexion with a 
communication addressed the day after by Walsing- 
ham to Lord Hunsdon, that the design of the nobles 
was to seize the person of the king, and secure, or 
perhaps murder, Lennox. " Albeit," said Bowes, "the 
levy of the forces newly assembled in Edinburgh and 
elsewhere, and the planting them about the king, to 
guard his person against suspected surprise or violence, 
doth greatly threaten the stay or defeat of the purposes 
intended, whereof I know your lordship is advertised; 
yet I am in good hope, that, if any opportunity be 
found, the parties associate will, with good courage, 
attempt the matter." To this, Elizabeth, who knew 
and directed all, replied, that she would hear of no 

* MS. Lettei, State-paper Office, Huntingdon to Randolph, March 21, 

1580-1 JAMES VI. 77 

violence being offered to the king's person ; but as for 
D'Aubigny, she could be content he were surprised, 
provided it could be executed when he was found 
separated from his young master.* The extent of 
violence or bloodshed sanctioned under this word, 
"surprised," cannot be precisely fixed; but to those 
who knew the character of the Scottish nobles of those 
days, and none knew it better than the English queen, 
it conveyed, no doubt, an emphatic meaning. 

The conspirators thus encouraged, completed their 
arrangements. They succeeded in corrupting some of 
the royal household; by their connivance, forged keys 
for the king^ private apartments were made ; and they 
thus hoped to enter the palace, seize the young mon- 
arch, put Lennox, Argyle, and Montrose to death, and 
send James to England.-f- But Lennox, when on the 
very point of being cut off, was saved by an unexpected 
discovery ; and Morton, when his prison began to be 
cheered by the near prospect of escape, found himself 
more hopelessly situated than before. The chief actors 
in the association for his rescue were the Earls of 
Angus and Mar. With Angus, Randolph had ar- 
ranged all in nightly meetings, held sometimes in the 
fields, sometimes at Dalkeith. The Laird of Whit- 
tingham, a Douglas, and brother to the noted Archi- 
bald Douglas, was a principal conspirator, and intrusted 
with their most secret intentions ; and four confidential 
servants of Morton, named Fleck or Affleck, Nesbit, 
Reid, and Jerdan, were principal agents in the plot, 
and knew all its ramifications. Lord Hunsdon, who 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, March 14, 1580-1, Bowes to Leicester. 
Also, MS. British Museum, Harleian, G999, fol. 479. Original Draft, 
Walsingham to Hunsdon, March 15, 1580-1. 

t MS. Harleian, copy of the time, Randolph to Hunsdon. March 20, 


had a high admiration of Angus, was, as we have seen, 
deeply implicated : his forces were in readiness to 
advance from Berwick into Scotland, and he only 
waited for the signal which was to be the news of the 
king's seizure ; when Lennox, receiving some hint 
which awakened his suspicion, seized Douglas of Whit- 
tingham, threatened him with the rack, and obtained 
a revelation of the whole. Morton's servants, Fleck, 
Nesbit, Reid, and Jerdan, were instantly arrested and 
put to the torture. Angus was banished beyond the 
Spey ; Randolph, whose intrigues were laid bare, fled 
precipitately to Berwick, after having been nearly slain 
by a shot fired into his study ; * and Elizabeth, dis- 
gusted by the treachery of Whittingham, and the 
utter failure of the plot against Lennox, commanded 
Hunsdon to dismiss his forces, recalled Randolph, 
and abandoned Morton to his fate.-f- 

This, it was now evident, could not be long averted. 
His enemies were powerful and clamorous against him. 
Captain James Stewart, the accuser of the ex-regent, 
had openly declared, if they by whom he had been 
urged to this daring enterprise, did not make an end 
of the old tyrant, he would soon make an end of them. J 
The confession of Whittingham, and of Morton's con- 
fidential servants, had furnished his enemies with 
evidence sufficient to bring him to the scaffold ; and 
although Angus, Randolph, and Hunsdon still con- 
tinued their plots, it was found impossible to carry 

* MS. State-paper Office, Randolph to Walsingham, March 25, 1581. 
Randolph affects to " suspend" his judgment of the truth of all this confes- 
sion of Whittingham till further trial. There seems to be little doubt that 
he knew all the particulars of the plot previous to the confession, and bore 
a principal part in arranging it. 

\ See Proofs and Illustrations, Nos. VI. and VII. 

J MS. State-paper Office, January 11, 1580-1, Bowes to Lord Bnrghley 
and Sir Fr. Walsingham. 

MS. State-paper Office, Randolph to Walsingham, March 25, 1581. 

1581. JAMES VI. 79 

them into execution. One by one the various earls 
and barons, whose assistance had been bought by 
Elizabeth, dropped off, and made their peace with the 
stronger party ; * till at last Morton was left alone, 
and nothing remained to be done but to sacrifice the 

For this purpose, Stewart, his accuser, and Mon- 
trose, were commissioned to bring him from Dumbarton 
to the capital. In those dark days many prophetic 
warnings hung over ancient houses ; and among the 
rest, was one which predicted that the bloody heart, 
the emblem of the house of Douglas, would fall by 
Arran. This saying Morton affected to despise ; for 
the Earl of Arran was dead, and the Hamiltons, his 
enemies, in whose family this title was hereditary, 
were now banished and broken men. But Stewart, 
his implacable foe, had recently procured from the 
king the gift of the vacant earldom, though the news 
of his promotion had never reached the captive in his 
prison at Dumbarton. When Morton, therefore, read 
the name of Arran in the commission, he started, ex- 
claiming, " Arran ! who is that ? the Earl of Arran 
is dead." " Not so," said the attendant ; " that title 
is now held by Captain James Stewart." "And is 
it so ?" said he the prediction flashing across his 
memory. " Then, indeed, all is over ; and I know 
what I must look for .""[ 

Yet, although hopeless as to the result, nothing 
could be more calm or undaunted than the temper in 
which he met it. During his long imprisonment, he 
had expressed contrition for his sinful courses ; deplored 

* MS. Harleian, 6999, fol. 527. Randolph to Hunsdon, Edinburgh, 
March 23, 1580-1. 
t Spottiswood, p. 313. 


the many crimes into which ambition and the insati- 
able love of power had plunged him ; and sought for 
rest in the consolations of religion, and the constant 
study of the Holy Scriptures. At the same time, his 
preparations for the worst had not prevented him from 
taking as active a part against his enemies as his 
captivity would allow. 

He was brought to trial on the first of June, five 
months after his arrest ; and such was still either the 
lingering dread of his power, or the terror of some 
attempt at rescue, that the whole town was in arms. 
Two companies of soldiers were placed at the Cross, 
two bands above the Tolbooth ; whilst the citizens 
armed also, and with another body of troops filled the 
principal street, for the purpose of conducting him from 
his lodging to the Tolbooth, where the trial took place. 
His indictment contained twelve heads of accusation, 
or " dittay ;" but the paper has not been preserved; 
and this is the less material, as the proceedings had 
scarcely begun, when a letter from the king was pre- 
sented, commanding the jury to confine their attention 
solely to the most important charge, his accession to 
the murder of the late king, his father. On this point, 
absolute and direct proof might not have been easily 
procured ; for it turned out that Sir James Balfour 
either did not possess, or would not produce, the bond 
for Darnley's murder. But Morton's own defence 
supplied this defect ; for although he denied that he 
had ever procured, or given his consent to the death 
of Darnley, he distinctly admitted that he knew the 
murder was to be committed, and had concealed it ; 
upon which confession the jury found him guilty. 

The terms in which their sentence was embodied 
were the same as those still employed in Scotland. 

1581. JAMES VI. 81 

It declared him " convicted of, counsel, concealing, and 
being art and part of the king's murder," upon hearing 
which last words read aloud, the earl, who had main- 
tained the greatest calmness and temper during the 
trial, became deeply agitated. " Art and part !" said 
he, with great vehemence, and striking the table re- 
peatedly with a little baton or staff which he usually 
carried. " Art and part ! God knoweth the contrary." 
It is evident that he drew the distinction between an 
active contrivance and approval, and a passive know- 
ledge and concealment of the plot for Darnley's assas- 

On the morning of the day on which he suffered, 
some of the leading ministers of the Kirk, with whom 
he had been much at variance on the subject of Epis- 
copacy, breakfasted with him in the prison, and a long 
and interesting conference took place, of which the 
particulars have been preserved, in a narrative drawn 
up by those who were present.* It is difficult for any 
one who reads this account, and who is acquainted 
\vith the dark and horrid crimes which stained the 
life of Morton, not to be painfully struck with the 
disproportion between his expressions of contrition, 
and his certain anticipations of immediate glory and 
felicity. The compunction for his many crimes 
murder, tyranny, avarice, cruelty, lust, and all the 
sins which were the ministers of his exorbitant am- 
bition and pride is so slight, that we feel perplexed 
as to the sincerity of a repentance which seems to sit 
so easily. He speaks of the murder of Riccio, or as 
he terms it, " the slaughter of Davie," in which he 
acted so prominent a part, without one expression or 
regret ; and appears to have lost almost every recol- 

* Bannatyne's Memorials, Bannatyne Club edition, p. 317. 


lection of his former life, in his prospect of instant 
admission into the society of the blessed. Yet all 
may have heen, nay, let us hope all was sincere ; and 
whilst it is vain to speculate upon a state of mind 
known only to Him who sees the heart, allowance 
must be made for the character of an age familiar with 
blood ; for the peculiar, and almost ultra-Calvinistic, 
theology of the divines who ministered to him in his 
last moments ; and the possibility of inaccuracy in the 
narrative itself, which was not read over to him before 
his death. In speaking of the assassination of the 
king, he distinctly repeated his admissions made at 
the trial ; affirming that he, in common with many 
others, knew that Darnley was to be cut off, but did 
not dare to forewarn him ; and adding, that the queen 
was the contriver of the whole plot. 

These conferences took place on the day in which 
he suffered; and his friends amongst the clergy had 
scarcely left him, when his keeper entered his room, 
and desired him to come forth to the scaffold. He 
appeared surprised, and observed, that having been so 
much troubled that day with worldly matters, he had 
hoped that one night at least would have been allowed 
him to have advised ripely with his God. " But, my 
Lord," said the keeper, " they will not wait, and all 
things are ready." " If it be so," answered he, *' I 
praise God I am ready also ;" and after a short prayer, 
he passed down to the gate of the palace to go to. the 
scaffold. Here another interruption took place; for 
Arran, his mortal enemy, was waiting on the steps, 
and requested him to tarry till his confession, which 
liad been made to the ministers, had been written down, 
a,nd brought to him for his signature. But this re- 
immersion into worldly affairs he entreated to be spared. 

1581. JAMES VI. 83 

" Bethink you, my Lord," said he, " that I have far 
other things now to advise upon. I am about to die: 
I must prepare for my God. Ask me not to write now-; 
all these good men (pointing to the ministers) can 
testify what I have spoken in that matter." With 
this Arran professed himself satisfied ; but his impor- 
tunity was not at an end; for he added that Morton 
must be reconciled to him before he proceeded farther. 
To this the earl willingly agreed ; observing, that now 
was no time to reckon quarrels, and that he forgave 
him and all, as he himself hoped for forgiveness. He 
then proceeded to the scaffold, which he ascended with 
a firm step ; and turning to the people, repeated, 
shortly, his confession of the foreknowledge of the king'te 
murder, only suppressing the name of his near relative, 
Mr Archibald Douglas. He declared that he died in the 
profession of the Gospel as it was at that day taught 
and established in Scotland; and exhorted the people, 
if they hoped for the favour of Heaven,to hold fast the 
same. Mr James Lawson, one of the ministers, then 
prayed aloud ; and, during this act of devotion, Morton, 
who had thrown himself, with his face on the ground, 
before the block on which he was to suffer, was observed 
to be deeply affected. In his agitation, his whole frame 
was convulsed with sighs and sobs bursting from his 
bosom ; and his body rebounded from the earth on 
which he lay along. On rising up, however, his face 
was calm and cheerful; he shook hjs friends by the 
hand, bidding them farewell with many expressions of 
kindness; and having declined to have his hands bound, 
knelt down and laid his neck upon the block. At this 
awful moment, Mr James Lawson, stoopirg forward 
to his ear, read some verses from the Scripture, which 
Morton repeated with a firm voice. As he pronounced 


the words, " Lord Jesus, receive my spirit ," the axe 
descended, and the imperfect sentence died upon the 
lips, which quivered and were silent for ever.* The 
execution took place about four o'clock on the evening 
of Friday the second of June. It was remarked that 
Fernyhirst, who was known to have been acquainted 
with the murder of the king, stood in a window opposite 
the scaffold. He was recognised by a conspicuous 
feature in his dress his large ruffles ; and seemed to 
take delight in the spectacle. The people also remarked 
that Lord Seton and his two sons had taken great 
care to secure a good view of all that passed, by pulling 
down a stair which would have intercepted their view 
of the scaffold.-f- 

On the day after Morton suffered, George Binning, 
a servant of Archibald Douglas, was executed for his 
participation in the murder of the king. The confession 
of this accomplice threw some additional light on this 
dark story. He affirmed, that his master, Archibald 
Douglas, who was then an adherent of the Earl of Both- 
well, was present at the deed, and, in his haste to leave 
the spot, lost one of his slippers ; that, when his master 
came home, his clothes were full of clay and soil, oc- 
casioned, no doubt, by the explosion; and that, in 
retreating from the scene of the murder, he (Binning) 
encountered, at the foot of a narrow lane near the spot, 
certain " musselled men," meaning men who had dis- 
guised themselves by muffling their faces in their cloaks ; 
one of whom, as he conjectured by his voice, was a 
brother of Sir James Balfour.J 

* MS. Calderwood, British Museum, Ayscough, 4736, fol. 1156. Mor- 
ton's head was fixed on the Tolbooth, on the highest stone of the gahle towards 
the public street. There is a fine original picture of the Regent Morton at 
Dalmahoy, near Edinburgh, the seat of the present Earl of Morton. It has 
been engraved by Lodge. ) Id. Ibid. 

1 MS. Calderwood, British Museum, Ayscough, 473G, fol. 1156. 

1581. JAMES VI. 85 

The death of Morton was followed, as wag to be ex- 
pected, by the concentration of the whole power of the 
State in the hands of the Earl of Lennox and Captain 
Stewart, now Earl of Arran. This necessarily led to 
the revival of the influence of France, and to renewed 
intrigues by the friends of the Catholic faith and the 
supporters of the imprisoned queen. The prospects of 
the Protestant lords, and of the more zealous ministers 
of the Kirk, were proportionably overclouded ; the 
faction in the interest of England was thrown into 
despair ; and reports of the most gloomy kind began 
to circulate through the country. It was said that 
religion was on the point of being altered ; that the 
king would marry a princess of the house of Lorrain ; 
that the Duke of Guise had already written to him in 
the most friendly terms, and now for the first time 
had condescended to call him king.* The conduct of 
Lennox was calculated to confirm rather than mitigate 
these suspicions. He professed, indeed, an earnest 
desire to maintain amicable relations with England ; 
and had written to this effect to the Earl of Leicester, 
warning him against Archibald Douglas, who was now 
in England, and laboured to embroil the two king- 
dom s.-f- But he had forgotten entirely his friendly 
professions to the Presbyterians. The ministers of 
the Kirk, who had congratulated themselves as the 
instruments of his conversion, were treated with cold- 
ness ; and it was soon discovered that he had warmly 
espoused the king^s opinions with regard to Episcopacy, 
and was ready to second, to his utmost ability, the 

* MS. State-paper Office, B.C., Scrope to Burghley, August 18, 1581. 
Also, B.C., same to same, September 31, 1581. Also, MS. State-paper 
Office, Bowes to Burghley, October 3, 1581. 

t MS. State-paper Otlice, Lennox to Leicester, Oct. 7, 1581,Lithgow. 


efforts of the monarch for its complete establishment 
in his dominions. 

Meanwhile, the new Earl of Arran was not neglect- 
ful of his interests, and advanced rapidly in power and 
presumption. Soon after the execution of Morton, he 
appeared before the privy-council, entered into a de- 
tail of his proceedings against that nobleman, lamented 
the necessity he had been under of employing torture 
to procure evidence, and demanded and obtained an 
Act of approval from the king, which characterized 
his whole conduct as honourable, and assured him, that 
at no future period should it be called in question.* 
His next step was an act of such open profligacy, as 
to incense and scandalize the whole country. He lived 
in habits of familiar friendship with the Earl of March, 
and had been under deep obligations to him ; but he 
employed the opportunities such intimacy gave him 
to seduce the affections of the Countess of March, a 
woman of great beauty; and so completely succeeded 
in depraving her mind, that she brought an action of 
divorce against her husband, on a ground which, in 
this day, none but the most abandoned could plead. 
The suit was successful, the decree of divorce pro- 
nounced; and Arran married the countess, whose situ- 
ation at that moment proclaimed her either a liar or 
an adultress. It affords a shocking picture of the 
manners of the times, that the young king appears to 
have countenanced this proceeding. Nor was this all. 
James determined to grant new honours to those who 
had assisted him in the overthrow of Morton : Lennox 
was made a duke ; -f- Captain Stewart, who had already 

* Original Record of Privy-council, in the Register House, Edinburgh, 
June 3, 1581. 

+ Douglas, vol. ii. p. 99. Moyse's Memoirs, p. 34, Bannatyne edition. 
MS. Calderwood, fol. 1156, states he was proclaimed duke uu the 27th Aug., 

1581. JAMES VI. 87 

received a gift of the earldom of Arran, was invested 
in that dignity with great solemnity; the Earl of 
March received the earldom of Orkney; Lord Ruthven 
that of Gowrie; and Lord Maxwell, one of the most 
powerful nobles of that time, became Earl of Morton. 
Parliament now assembled, and the sanction of this 
supreme court was given to all those measures lately 
passed in favour of Lennox and Arran. Indeed, it 
could scarcely be expected that any would dare to op- 
pose them ; for James had sent intimation to the Earls 
of Mar, Eglinton, and Glencairn, with the Lords Lind- 
say, Boyd, Herries, and Ochiltree, that he would dis- 
pense with their presence on this occasion ; * and none, 
probably, attended but those who were favourable to 
the court. The adherents of the late Earl of Morton 
were pronounced rebels, and their estates confiscated. 
Amongst these, the principal were the Earl of Angus; 
Archibald Douglas of Whittingham ; James Douglas 
prior of Pluscardine, and James Douglas of Pitten- 
dreich, two natural sons of the Regent Morton ; Douglas 
of Parkhead ; and Archibald Douglas constable of the 
castle of Edinburgh. In the same parliament, Lennox, 
who believed his influence now to be all powerful, 
exerted himself to procure the pardon of Sir James 
Balfour, who had recently done him good service in 
the overthrow of Morton. But he was disappointed ; 
for James refused his request, and pointed to those 
Acts of Parliament by which it was declared, that no 
person guilty of the king his father's murder, should 
ever be restored. [ At the same meeting of the Estates, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, October 18, 1581. 
+ MS. State-paper Office, B.C., Thomas Selby to Mr Thomas Foster, 
Nov. 29, 1581. 


the statutes were confirmed which protected the re- 
formed religion ; some enactments were introduced for 
the regulation of the coinage, against the exportation 
of wool, and other acts directed against that excess in 
apparel amongst the middle and lower classes, and 
expensive and superfluous banquets, which marked the 
progress of the country in wealth and refinement, and 
had excited the jealous y of the higher nobility. 

It is now necessary to turn for a moment to the 
Scottish queen in her imprisonment. It was a miserable 
circumstance in the fate of this unfortunate princess, 
that any successes of her friends generally brought along 
with them an increase of rigour and jealousy upon the 
part of her inexorable rival. This increase, on the 
other hand, as surely led to more determined efforts 
for her delivery ; and thus, during the thirteen years 
for which she had now continued a captive, her health 
had been shattered, and her spirits broken, by those 
alternations of hope and fear, those fluctuations of 
ardent expectation, or bitter disappointment, which 
must have destroyed even the healthiest and most 
buoyant constitution. Her condition about this time 
was so feeble, that she had lost the use of her limbs, 
and was carried in a chair, or litter, by her servants. 
She besought Elizabeth, in pathetic terms, for the 
favour of a coach, that she might enjoy a drive in the 
park of Sheffield castle, where she was confined ; she 
requested the additional attendance of two female 
servants and two men servants, which her sickness 
demanded; and she entreated to have passports for 
the Lady Lethington and Lord Seton, in whose society 
she might find some alleviation of her solitude. But, 
although Castelnau, the French ambassador, seconded 

1581. JAMES VI. 89 

these requests by the most earnest remonstrance, the 
English queen was deaf to his entreaties, and resisted 
the application.* 

This cold and unrelenting conduct could not fail to 
make a deep impression upon Mary ; and, in a moment 
of resentment and excitation, she had determined to 
resign her rights as Queen of Scots, and her claims 
upon the crown of England, into the hands of her son, 
with an earnest hope, that he would invade that realm, 
and, assisted by the Roman Catholic party abroad, 
and Elizabeth's discontented subjects at home, establish 
his rights, and overwhelm her oppressor. But the 
return of calmer consideration showed the madness of 
such a scheme ; and her anxiety for the amicable re- 
cognition of the rights of her son to the English crown, 
banished the suggestions of personal resentment. In 
a memorial presented by Mary about this time to Eliza- 
beth and her parliament, she requested to be heard, by 
deputies whom she would appoint, upon the subject of 
her title and pretensions. -f- It was not, she added, on 
her own account that she suggested this. Continued 
affliction had brought on a premature age; sorrow had 
extinguished ambition ; and, with her shattered frame, 
it would be ridiculous to expect to survive Elizabeth. 
But she felt the natural anxiety of a mother to secure 
the rights of her child : and she entreated her sister 
of England to agree to her petition, and to recognise 
the undoubted title of her son, as the most certain 
means of promoting settled peace, and securing their 
mutual security. 

This sensible memorial experienced the same fate 

* Addition aux Mem. de Castelnau. p. 519. Chalmers 1 Life of Marr, 
vol. i. pp. 384, 388. 
t Murdin, p. 3G7. 


as her former petition : it made no impression upon 
the Queen of England, or her ministers ; and Mary, 
defeated in her moderate desires, was compelled to em- 
brace more determined measures, and to throw herself, 
entirely into the arms of France. This led to a new 
project, known by the name of " The Association," 
and which appears to have originated about this time. 
It was proposed to the young king, that in order to 
have his title to the Scottish throne recognised by the 
powers of Europe, none of whom, with the exception 
of England, had yet publicly given him the name of 
king, he should resign the crown to his mother, under 
the condition, that she should retransmit it to him, and 
retire from all the active duties of the government. 
But before pursuing this scheme, which led ultimately 
to important consequences, it is necessary to attend to 
the state of the Church, and its violent collision with 
the crown. 

The struggle between Episcopacy, which had been 
originally established at the time of the Reformation, 
and the Presbyterian form of Church government, 
was now assuming every day a more determined and 
obstinate form. The young king, with his ministers, 
and favourites, Lennox and Arran, and a large pro- 
portion of the nobility, supported Episcopacy. The 
ministers of the Kirk, and the great body of the burghers, 
and middle and lower classes of the people, were zeal- 
ously attached tr the Presbyterian model ; and con- 
sidered the office of a bishop as anti-Scriptural, and a 
remnant of Popery. In a General Assembly, held 
some time previous to this, the " Platform " of Eccle- 
siastical government, drawn up Andrew Melvil, had 
been ratified by a majority of the ministers ; and re- 
ceived the solemn sanction of the Church, under the 

1581. JAMES VI. 91 

title of " The Second Book of Discipline."" * Under 
these conflicting circumstances, the Duke of Lennox, 
whose influence with the young king gave him an 
almost absolute power in the disposal of patronage, 
appointed Mr Robert Montgomery to the vacant 
bishoprick of Glasgow. It was notorious to all, that 
this was a collusive and Simoniacal transaction ; for 
Montgomery resigned the temporalities of the See to 
the duke, and was contented to receive a small annual 
stipend out of its revenues. But the clergy, at first 
waving this objection, pronounced a high censure upon 
Montgomery, and interdicted him from accepting a 
bishoprick. He remonstrated, and was supported by 
the king and his council; who contended, that as 
Episcopacy had never been abolished by the three 
Estates, no illegal act had been committed. 

The General Assembly of the Church soon after 
was convened in the capital ; and as some private in- 
telligence had been sent to Scotland of the intended 
" Association " between the imprisoned queen and the 
king her son, this ecclesiastical convention met in a 
state of much excitement.-f- It was known that various 
missionary priests were covertly intriguing in the 
country ; that George Douglas had arrived on a mission 
from France, charged with secret despatches from the 
Bishops of Glasgow and Ross, her agents in that realm ; 
and great dread was entertained of Lennox's increasing 
influence over the mind of the young king. Determin- 
ed measures, therefore, were adopted by the Church. 
Articles against Montgomery were drawn up, which 
condemned, in strong terms, his life, conversation, and 

* Calderwood's History, pp. 97, 102, convened April 20, . 581. Confes- 
sions of Faith, vol. ii. p. 807. 
t Calderwood, p. 1 18. 


opinions ; and although, upon investigation, many 
faults objected to him turned out to be frivolous and 
unfounded, other matters were proved, which, it was 
contended, utterly incapacitated him for the office 
which he had accepted. He received an injunction, 
therefore, to continue in his ministry at Stirling ; and, 
under pain of the highest censures, to abandon all 
thoughts of the bishoprick. 

During these transactions, Elizabeth, who had be- 
come alarmed on the subject of Scotland, and dreaded 
the preponderating influence of Lennox and Arran, 
despatched Captain Nicolas Arlington, an able officer 
of the garrison at Berwick, on a mission into that 
country. He was instructed to use his utmost efforts 
to persuade the king to continue in amicable relations 
with England ; to sow, if possible, by some secret 
practice, a division between the Duke of Lennox and 
the Earl of Arran ; and to expose the devices of 
France and Spain for the overthrow of religion, and 
the resumption of power by the Scottish queen.* It 
had been the advice of Sir Robert Bowes, in a letter 
addressed to Burghley, that every means should be 
adopted to increase some jealousies which, owing to 
the pride and intolerance of Arran, had arisen between 
him and the duke. But after every effort to " blow the 
coals," *f as he expressed it, these proud rivals became 
convinced that their safest policy was to forget their 
differences, and unite against their common enemies. 
A reconcilement, accordingly, took place ;| and Len- 
nox, strong in the continued attachment of the king, 
and the new friendship of Arran, determined to con- 

* State-paper Office, October 26, 1581, Instructions for N. Arrington, sent 
into Scotland. Copy. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, October 18, 1581. 
I Historie of King James the Sext, p. 186. 

1581. JAMES VI. 93 

centrate his whole strength against that faction of the 
Kirk which opposed themselves to Episcopacy, and 
had threatened his bishop with deposition. 

At this moment secret information of a threatening 
nature arrived from France. The reports regarding 
the progress of " The Association " between the queen- 
mother and her son were confirmed. It was said, that 
Lord Arbroath, the head of the great house of Hamil- 
ton, now in banishment, was to be restored by French 
influence, under the condition, that the " Mass 1 ' should 
return along with him. And Mr John Durie, one of 
the ministers of Edinburgh, sounded a fearful note of 
alarm, in a sermon which he delivered in the High 
Church of the city. The king, he said, had been 
moved by certain courtiers, who now ruled all at their 
will, to send a private message to the King of France 
and the Duke of Guise, and to seek his mother's bless- 
ing. He knew this, he declared, from the very man 
who was employed in the message George Douglas, 
Mary's sworn servant ; and he painted in strong col- 
ours the deplorable effects which might be anticipated 
from such a coalition. It was proposed, in these dark 
counsels, that the king should resign the crown to his 
mother, and she convey it again to him, with an as- 
surance, that he should then be acknowledged as king 
by France, and by the powers of Europe, which, up 
to this time, had refused him the royal title. And 
what must inevitably follow from all this ? If the 
transaction were completed, it would be argued, that 
the establishment of religion, and all other public 
transactions since the coronation, were null ; that the 
king's friends were traitors, and their adversaries his 
only true subjects. After the sermon, a remarkable 
conference took place betveen the Earls of Argyle 


and Gowrie, and the ministers, Durie, Lawsoii, and 
Davison, in the council-house. On being pressed as 
to the French intrigues, Argyle confessed that he had 
gone too far ; but affirmed, that if he saw anything 
intended against religion, he would forsake his friends, 
and oppose it to his utmost. To Gowrie, Davison 
the minister of Libberton, in alluding to the murder 
of Riccio, used a still stronger argument " If things," 
said he, " go forward as they are intended, your head, 
my lord, will pay for Davie^s slaughter. But Scottish 
nobles now are utterly unworthy of the place they 
hold : they would not, in other times, have suffered 
the king to lie alone at Dalkeith with a stranger, 
whilst the whole realm is going to confusion ; and 
yet the matter (they significantly added) might be 
reformed well enough with quietness, if the noblemen 
would do their duty."* 

Nor were these warnings and denunciations confined 
to the nobility. The young king, when sitting in his 
private chamber in the palace of Stirling, received an 
admonition quite as solemn as any delivered to his 
subjects. Mr John Davison, along with Duncanson 
the royal chaplain, and Mr Peter Young, entered the 
apartment ; and Davison, after pointing out the dread- 
ful state of the country, exhorted him to put away those 
evil councillors who were so fast bringing ruin upon the 
commonweal, and his own soul. " My liege," said he, 
" at this present, there are three jewels in this realm 
precious to all good men Religion, the Commonweal, 
and your Grace's person. Into what a horrible con- 
fusion the two first have fallen all men are witness ; 
but as to the third, your grace hath need to beware, 
not only of the common hypocrites and flatterers, but 

* MS. Caldenvood, Ayscongh, 4736, fol. 1172. 

1582. JAMES vi. 95 

more especially of two sorts of men. First, such as 
opposed themselves to your grace in your minority : 
whereby they have committed offences for which they 
must yet answer to the laws ; and, therefore, must 
needs fear the king. Remember the saying ' Multis 
terribilis, caveto multos." 1 The second sort, are those 
who are conjured enemies to religion. If (he concluded) 
your grace would call to you such godly men as I could 
name, they would soon show you whom they think to 
be included in these two ranks." It had been arranged 
beforehand, that should the young king exhibit any 
desire to profit by this counsel, Davison was to name 
the Lairds of Dun, Lundie, and Braid, with Mr Robert 
Pont and Mr James Lawson, two of the leading minis- 
ters ; but James, after hearing the exordium, and 
observing hurriedly that it was good counsel, started 
off from the subject, and broke up the interview.* 

These scenes of alarm and admonition were followed 
by a violent attempt of Montgomery to possess him- 
self of the bishoprick, in which he entered the Church 
at Glasgow, accompanied by a band of the royal guard, 
and in virtue of a charge addressed by the king to that 
Presbytery, endeavoured to expel the established min- 
ister from the pulpit, and to occupy his place. This 
was resisted by the Kirk ; and the ministers of the 
Presbytery of Glasgow were in consequence summoned 
before the Council : -f- but they defended themselves 
with the greatest courage, and, when pressed by the 
king, declined the judgment of the sovereign, or his 
judges, in a matter not of a civil but of a purely 
spiritual nature. Lawson, Durie, Andrew Hay, and 
a large body of the ministers and elders from Edin- 

* MS. Caldenrood, British Museum, fol. 1172. 
t April 13, 1582. 


burgh, Dalkeith, and Lithgow, accompanied them to 
Stirling ; and when the king insisted that they should 
receive Montgomery, and warned them of the fatal 
consequences of a refusal, he was boldly reminded by 
Durie, that such intemperate proceedings would only 
lead to the excommunication of the man whom he 
favoured.* This threat, and the preparations for 
carrying it into immediate execution, alarmed the 
object of the quarrel himself; and the submission of 
Montgomery to the jurisdiction and sentence of the 
Kirk, led to a temporary cessation of the controversy. 
This lull, however, proved exceeding brief ; and was 
soon followed by a more determined collision between 
the antagonist principles of Presbyterianism and Epis- 
copacy. The Kirk at this time possessed, amongst its 
ministers, some men of distinguished learning, and of 
the greatest courage. Durie, Lawson, Craig, Lindsay, 
Andrew Melvil, Thomas Smeton, Pont, Davison, and 
many others, presided over its councils ; and formed 
a spiritual conclave which, in the infallibility they 
claimed, and the obedience they demanded, was a 
hierarchy in everything but the name. Eloquent, 
intrepid, and indefatigable, they had gained the affec- 
tions of the lower classes of the people ; and were 
supported, also, by the increasing influence of the 
burghs and the commercial classes. Animated by 
such feelings, wielding such powers, and backed by 
such an influence, it was not to be expected that they 
would be easily put down. The great cause of Episco- 
pacy, on the other hand, was supported by the young 

* Calderwood MS., fol. 1174. Montgomery incensed against Andrew 
Hay, one of the ministers, threatened to bring him to justice, as art and 
part in foreknowing and concealing the late king's murder. The only ground 
of the charge was, that Mr Andrew Hay was uncle to the Laird of Tallo, 
(Hay,) who was executed for the murder. 

1582. JAMES vi. 97 

king, who was himself no contemptible theologian ; by 
the Duke of Lennox, the Earl of Arran, and a large 
portion of the old nobility. Abroad, it looked to the 
sympathy and assistance of France : and as the whole 
hopes of the imprisoned queen, and the great body of 
the Roman Catholics in England, rested on Lennox 
and his friends, they were inclined to strengthen his 
hands in every possible way. The power of this party 
had recently been shown by the destruction of Morton, 
which they carried through with a high hand against 
the whole influence of England and the Kirk ; and, 
flushed by this success, they resolved to renew the battle 
with the Presbyterian party, in the case of the Bishop 
of Glasgow ; which, however insulated or insignificant 
it might appear at first sight, really involved the es- 
tablishment or destruction of Episcopacy. Montgo- 
mery, a weak man, and wholly under the influence of 
Lennox, was easily persuaded to retract his submission, 
and repeat his attempts to possess himself of the bishop 
rick ; whilst, at this moment, the feelings of the 
ministers were goaded to the highest pitch of jealousy 
and resentment, by the arrival of a messenger from the 
Duke of Guise : ostensibly, he came with a present of 
horses to the king ; but it was suspected that more 
was intended than mere courtesy. The person who 
brought this gift was Signor Paul, the duke's master- 
stabler, and, as was asserted, one of the most active and 
remorseless murderers at the massacre of St Bartho- 
lomew.* It was scarcely to be expected that this 
should be tamely borne ; and John Durie, the min- 
ister of Edinburgh, instantly rode to Kinneil, Arran's 

* MS. Caldcrwood, Ayscough, 4736, fol. 1189. " This Seignor Paul was 
a famous murtherer at the massacre at Paris. No fitter man could be sent 
to make pastime to the king." 



castle, where the king had determined to receive Guise^s 
envoy. Meeting Signer Paul in the garden, the minis- 
ter hastily drew his cap over his eyes, declaring he would 
not pollute them by looking on the devil's ambassador ; 
and, turning to the king, rebuked him sharply for 
receiving gifts from so odious a quarter. " Is it with 
the Guise," said he, " that your grace will interchange 
presents with that cruel murderer of the saints? 
Beware, my liege, I implore you, (he continued,) beware 
with whom you ally yourself in marriage ; and remem- 
ber John Knox's last words unto your Highness 
remember that good man's warning, that so long as 
you maintained God's holy Gospel, and kept your 
body unpolluted, you would prosper. Listen not, then, 
to those ambassadors of the devil, who are sent hither 
to allure you from your religion." * To this indignant 
sally, James, overawed by the vehement tone of the 
remonstrant, quietly answered, "that his body was 
pure ; and that he would have no woman for his wife 
who did not fear God and love the Evangell." } 

From Kinneil, Durie returned to Edinburgh, where 
his zeal flamed up to the highest pitch; and, transform- 
ing the pulpit, as was the practice of those times, into 
a political rostrum for the discussion of the measures 
of the government, he exposed the intrigues of Lennox, 
the schemes of the queen-mother, and the profligacy 
of the court, in such cutting and indignant terms, that 
he was immediately summoned before the council, and 
ordered to quit the city. J The strictest injunctions, at 
the same time, were directed to the provost and magis- 
trates to carry this sentence of banishment into execu- 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1189, and MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., 
Woddrington to Walsingham, Berwick, May 15, 1582. The interview be- 
tween Durie and the king at Kinneil, took place on the llth May. MS. 
Calderwood. f Ibid. MS. Calderwood, fol. 1 189. 

J See Proofs and Illustrations, No. VIII. 

1582. JAMES VI. 99 

tion under pain of treason.* Lennox's party, at this 
moment, was described by the laird of Carmichael, (a 
Scottish gentleman employed to transmit secret infor- 
mation to Walsingham,) as guiding all at court. Its 
ranks, as he informed the English secretary, embraced 
Arran, a great persecutor of the preachers, Huntley, 
Seton, Ogilvy, the Prior Maitland, (this was the 
younger brother of the famous Secretary Lethington,) 
Balfour, Robert Melvil, Mr David Makgill, and one 
Mr Henry Keir. These, he added, were all Papists.-f- 
But Carmichael, himself probably a rigid Presbyterian, 
was little disposed to make any distinction between 
those who supported Episcopacy, and the friends of 
the Church of Rome. Yet it must be remembered, 
that the reported intrigues between the court of Spain 
and the duke, with the secret negotiations of the Jesuits 
for the association of the queen-mother with her son 
in the government, gave him no little countenance in 
the assertion ; and the vigour with which Lennox 
pushed forward his measures against the Kirk, seemed 
to indicate a very formidable combination of forces. 
Undismayed, however, by the attack of their adver- 
saries, the party of the Kirk only roused themselves 
to a more determined opposition : retaliated, by 
excommunicating Montgomery ; and called upon the 
people to weep for their sins, and be prepared to peril 
all, rather than part with their religion. The country, 
at this moment, must have presented an extraordinary 
picture : the pulpits rang with alternate strains of 
lamentation and defiance. Patrick Simpson, alluding 
to the fate of Durie, declared, that the principal link 
in the golden chain of the ministry was already broken. 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1189, May 30, 1.582. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, June 1, 1582. Laird of Carmichael to 


Davison, a firmer spirit, whose small figure and un- 
daunted courage had procured him from Lennox the 
sobriquet of the "petit diable" exhorted his auditors 
to take courage, for God would dash the devil in his 
own devices ; and, on the twenty-seventh of June, an 
extraordinary Assembly of the Church was convened 
in the capital, to meet the crisis which, in the language 
of the times, threatened destruction to their Zion.* 

The proceedings were opened by a remarkable sermon, 
or lecture, which Andrew Melvil delivered from the 
pulpit of the New Kirk. He chose for its subject the 
fourth chapter of the first Epistle to Timothy; and, in 
speaking of the fearful trials and heresies of the " latter 
days," inveighed, in no gentle terms, against the au- 
dacious proceedings of the court. The weapon now 
raised against them, he described as the " bloody gully}* 
of absolute power." " And whence," said he, " came 
this gully ? From the pope. And against whom was 
it used? Against Christ himself: from whose divine 
head these daring and wicked men would fain pluck 
the crown, and from whose hands they would wrench 
the sceptre." These might be deemed strong expres- 
sions, he added, but did not every day verify his words, 
and give new ground for alarm ? Need he point out to 
them the king's intended demission of the crown to his 
mother? Was not the palpable object of this scheme, 
which had been concocting these eight years past, the re- 
sumption of her lost power, and with it the reestablish- 
inent of her idolatrous worship ? Who were its authors? 
Beaton bishop of Glasgow, and Lesley bishop of Ross. 
And by what devices did this last-named prelate explain 
their intentions to the imprisoned princess? To the 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1189, 1J90, 1191, 1192. 
} Gully : a large knife ; a sword, or weapon. 

1582. JAMES VI. 101 

letters which he sent, he had added a painting of a 
queen, with a little boy kneeling at her feet and im- 
ploring her blessing; whilst she extended one hand to 
her son, and with the other pointed to his ancestors, 
as if she exhorted him to walk in their footsteps, and 
follow their faith.* 

At this Assembly, it was warmly debated whether 
Durie was bound to obey the sentence of banishment 
a point upon which opinions were much divided. The 
provost and magistrates contended that they must exe- 
cute the law which had pronounced the sentence, or 
become themselves amenable to its penalties. One 
party of the ministers, taking a middle course, advised 
that two of their brethren, Mr David Ferguson and 
Mr Thomas Buchanan, should be sent to remonstrate 
with the king. But from this the fiery Davison loudly 
dissented.. Ye talk, said he, of reponing John Durie. 
Will ye become suppliants for reinstating him whom 
the king had no power to displace ; albeit, his foolish 
flock have yielded ? At this, Sir James Balfour started 
to his feet, and fixed his eyes sternly on the speaker. 
Balfour was notorious as one of the murderers of Darn- 
ley; yet having been acquitted of that crime by a 
packed jury, he had resumed his functions as an elder 
of the Kirk.-f- Such a man was not likely to overawe 
the bold minister ; and he undauntedly continued. 
"Tell me what flesh may or can displace the great 
King's ambassador, so long as he keeps within the 
bounds of his commission ?" Saying this, he left the 
Assembly in great heat, perceiving that the question 
would be carried against him, which accordingly hap- 
pened; for, on the resumption of the debate, it was 

* MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4736, fol. 1192. June 27, 1582. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Scrope to Burghley, Aug. 18, 1581. 


determined that Durie should submit, if the magistrates, 
who belonged to his flock, insisted. They did so: and 
that very evening, he was charged not only to depart 
from the town, but not to reside within the freedom 
and bounds of the city. * About nine o'clock the same 
night, he was seen taking his way through the principal 
street of the city, accompanied by two notaries, and a 
small band of his brethren ; among whom were Lawson, 
Balcanquel, and Davison. On reaching the Market- 
cross, he directed the notaries to read a written protes- 
tation, in which he attested the sincerity of his life and 
doctrine; and declared, that although he obeyed the 
sentence of banishment, no mortal power should prevent 
him from preaching the Word.^ Upon this, placing 
a piece of money in the hands of the notaries, he took 
instruments, as it was termed ; and, during the cere- 
mony, Davison, who stood by his side, broke into 
threats and lamentation. " I too must take instru- 
ments," cried he; " and this, I protest, is the most 
sorrowful sight these eyes ever rested on : a shepherd 
removed by his own flock, to pleasure flesh and blood, 
and because he has spoken the truth. But plague, 
and fearful judgments, will yet light on the inventors." 
All this, however, passed away quietly, except on the 
part of the speakers; and the denunciations of the 
minister appear to have met with little sympathy. A 
shoemaker's wife in the crowd cried out, if any would 
cast stones at him, she would help.! A bystander, 
also, was heard to whisper to his neighbour, looking 
with scorn on the two protesters, " If I durst, I would 
take instruments that ye are both knaves." 

* MS. Calderwood, British Museum, Ayscough, 4736, fol. 1195-6. 
t MS. Calderwood, fol. 1196. 

J MS. Calderwood, fol. 1196. This same woman had troubled the Kirk 
much in Morton's time. Her name was Urquhart. 
Calderwood, MS. Hist. fol. 1196. 

1582. JAMES VI. 103 

Shortly before this, a conference had been held at 
Stirling, between the commissioners of the court and 
the Kirk, which had concluded by the king directing the 
ministers to present him with a list of the grievances 
of which they complained. They accordingly prepared 
their " Articles," which, in bold and unequivocal lan- 
guage, drew the distinction between the obedience they 
owed to the king and the submission that was due to 
the Kirk. They complained, that the monarch, by 
advice of evil councillors, had taken upon him that 
spiritual authority which belonged to Christ alone, as 
the King and Head of His Church ; and, as examples 
of this unwarrantable usurpation, appealed to the late 
banishment of Durie, the maintaining an excommuni- 
cated bishop, the interdicting the General Assembly 
from the exercise of their undoubted spiritual rights, 
and the evil handling of the brethren of Glasgow for 
doing their duty in the case of Montgomery.* 

The presentation of these Articles was intrusted to a 
committee of the ministers. It embraced Pont, Lawson, 
Smeton, Lindsay, Hay, Polwart, Blackburn, Galloway, 
Christison, Ferguson, James Melvil, Buchanan, Brand, 
Gillespie, Duncanson the minister of the king's house- 
hold, and Andrew Melvil principal of the new College 
at St Andrew's. To these a single layman was added 
in the person of Erskine of Dun, a name much vener- 
ated in the history of the Kirk. It had been agreed, 
that these " Griefs" should be presented to the king in 
the beginning of July ; and on the sixth of that month, 
this intrepid band of ministers set out for Perth, where 
James then held his court. Their adversaries had in 
vain made many exertions to intimidate them; and 

* MS. State-paper Office, Advertisements from Scotland, June 22, 1 582. 
MS. Calderwood, fol. 1198-9. 


secret information had been sent by Sir James Melvil, 
to his relative AndrewMelvil, that his life was in dan- 
ger; but he only thanked God that he was not feeble 
in the cause of Christ, and proceeded forward with his 
brethren. On being ushered into the presence-chamber, 
they found Lennox and Arran with the king ; and laid 
their remonstrance on the table. Arran took it up, 
glanced his eye over it, and furiously demanded " Who 
dares sign these treasonable Articles?" " We dare," 
responded Andrew Melvil, " and will render our lives 
in the cause." As he said this, he came forward to 
the council-table, took the pen, subscribed his name, 
and was followed by all his brethren. The two nobles 
were intimidated by this unlooked-for courage : the 
king was silent ; and, after some conference, the min- 
isters were dismissed in peace.* 

It would have been well for Lennox and Arran had 
they taken warning from these symptoms of determined 
opposition ; but they underrated the influence of the 
ministers, and were not aware that, at this moment, a 
strong party of the nobility was forming against them. 
It was fostered by the Kirk, and encouraged by Eng- 
land ; whilst its leaders, as usual in such enterprises, 
appear, about this time, to have drawn up a written 
contract, which declared the purposes for which they 
had leagued together. This paper was entitled the 
" Form of the Band, made among the noblemen that 
is enterprised against Dobany;"-f- and it described, in 
strong language, the causes which had led to the as- 
sociation. These were said to be, the dangers incurred 
by the professors of God's true religion ; the intended 

* MS Calderwood, fol. 1200, 1201. 

f* Caligula, C. vii. fol. 14, British Museum. A copy. Dobany is 
D'Aubigny, the Duke of Lennox. 

1582. JAMES VI. 105 

overthrow of the Gospel, hy godless men, who had 
crept into credit with the king's majesty ; the perver- 
sion of the laws ; the wreck of the ancient nobility and 
the ministers of religion; the interruption of the amity 
with England ; and the imminent peril of the king's 
person, unless some remedy were speedily adopted. 
" Wherefore," (it continued,) " we have sworn, in 
God's presence, and engaged, by this 'Band,' to punish 
and remove the authors of these intended evils, and to 
reestablish justice and good order, as we shall answer 
to the Eternal God, and upon our honour, faith, and 
truth." * The original of this important paper has 
not been preserved ; and the names of the associators 
do not appear in the copy : but we may pronounce 
them, from the evidence of other letters, to have been 
the Earls of Gowrie, Mar, Glencairn, Argyle, Mont- 
rose, Eglinton, and Rothes, with the Lords Lindsay, 
Boyd, and many others. f" The principal enemies to 
Lennox among the ministers, were Lawson, Lindsay, 
Hay, Smeton, Polwart, and Andrew Melvil.j 

At the time this Band was formed, its authors had 
not fixed upon any precise mode of attack ; but the 
events which now occurred brought their measures to 
a head, and compelled them to act upon the offensive. 

Shortly previous to the interview of the ministers 
with the king at Perth, Montgomery had been rein- 
stated in the bishoprick of Glasgow by the royal 
command ; and the sentence of excommunication pro- 
nounced upon him by the Kirk was reversed, and de- 
clared null. To soften, at the same time, the effect 

* Caligula, C. vii. fol, 14, British Museum. A copy. See also MS. 
Calderwood, p. 1210. 

+ Caligula, C. vii. fol. 18, MS. Letter. Woddrington to Walsfogham, 
July 19, 1582, Berwick. 

I MS. Calderwood, fol. 1201. 


of this strong measure of defiance, the king, by a public 
proclamation, renounced all intention of making any 
changes in religion ; and Montgomery, confiding in 
his restored honours, ventured from his seclusion at 
Dalkeith, where he had resided with his patron Lennox, 
and once more showed himself in Edinburgh. But 
Lawson, one of the leading ministers, flew to the 
magistrates, accused them of permitting an excommu- 
nicated traitor to walk the streets ; and compelled 
them to discharge him from their city.* As he de- 
parted, Montgomery threatened that, within half an 
hour, they should change their tone ; and, within a 
brief space, returned with a royal proclamation, which 
was read at the Cross, commanding all men to accept 
him as a true Christian and good subject. He brought, 
also, letters to the same purport, which were sent to 
the Lords of Session. All, however, was in vain, so 
strong was the popular current against him. The 
provost, in an agony of doubt between his duty to 
the king and his allegiance to the Kirk, imprecated 
vengeance upon his head, and declared he would have 
given a thousand merks he had never seen his face. 
The Judges refused to hear him ; and a report arising, 
that he should be again expelled, an immense crowd 
assembled. Tradesmen, armed with bludgeons, and 
women with stones, waited round the door of the court ; 
and their expected victim would probably have been 
torn in pieces, had he not been smuggled away by the 
magistrates through a narrow lane called the Kirk 
Heugh, which led to the Potterrow gate. His retreat, 
however, became known ; the people broke in upon him 
with many abusive terms. False traitor ! thief! man- 
sworn carle ! were bandied from mouth to mouth ; and 

* MS. Calderwood fol. 1198, 1201. July 2, 1582, and July 24. 

1582. JAMES vi. 107 

as he sprung through the wicket, he received some 
smart blows upon the back. So little sympathy did 
he meet with from the king, that, when the story 
reached the court at Perth, James threw himself down 
upon the Inch, and, callmg him a seditious loon, fell 
into convulsions of laughter.* 

The effect, however, was different upon Lennox. 
His penetration did not enable him to see the formidable 
strength which was gradually arraying itself against 
him ; and his blind obstinacy only hurried on the 
catastrophe. At the instigation of France,-f- he de- 
termined, by a sudden attack, to overwhelm his ene- 
mies ; and, assisted by the force which himself and 
Arran could command, to seize the Earls of Gowrie, 
Mar, and Glencairn, with Lindsay, and the chief of 
the Protestant nobles. Having achieved this, and 
banished the leading ministers of the Kirk, he looked 
forward to a triumphant conclusion of his labours in 
the establishment of Episcopacy, and the association of 
the imprisoned queen with the government of her son. 
Bowes, however, the English ambassador, became 
acquainted with these intentions, and informed the 
Protestant lords of the plot for their destruction. The 
minuteness of the information which this veteran 
diplomatist elicited by his pensioned informers, is 
remarkable.]; He assured Gowrie and his friends, that 
they must look to themselves, or be content soon to 
change a prison for a scaffold; that he had certain 
intelligence the king had consented to arraign them 
of a conspiracy against his person : and they knew, 
that if convicted of treason, their fate was sealed. It 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1202. 

f Sir R. Bowes to Secretary Walsingham, August 15, 1582. Original 
draft. From the Original Letter-Book of Sir Robert Bowes, kindly com- 
municated to me by my friend Sir Cuthbert Sharp. 

t See Proofs and Illustrations, No. IX. 


was by Walsmgham's orders that Bowes made this 
communication, in the hope that it would rouse the 
enemies of Lennox to immediate exertion ; nor was he 
disappointed.* Appalled by the news, and aware that 
even a brief delay might sweep them over the precipice 
on which they stood, they felt the necessity of acting 
upon the moment. The only danger to be dreaded 
was in prematurely exploding the mine already in 
preparation, and thus risking a failure. The band, 
or contract, as we have seen, had been drawn up ; but 
it was still unsigned by many of the nobility. There 
was scarcely time to concentrate all their forces ; and 
although they made sure of the approval of the minis- 
ters of the Kirk, who had already cordially cooperated 
with them in all their efforts against Lennox, still these 
ecclesiastical associates were now scattered in different 
parts of the country, and could not be individually 
consulted. On the other hand, the danger was immi- 
nent ; and, if they acted instantly, some circumstances 
promised success. The young king was at Perth, 
separated both from Lennox and Arran.-J- He had 
resorted to that country to enjoy his favourite pastime 
of the chase ; his court was few in number ; Gowrie, 
Glammis, and Lindsay, three of the chief conspirators, 
were all-powerful in the neighbourhood of Perth ; and 
should they delay, as had been intended, till the king 
removed to the capital, it would become more difficult, 
if not impossible, to execute their design. In this state 
of uncertainty, they received intelligence which made 
them more than suspect that Lennox had discovered 

* Original draft, Sir Robert Bowes to Walsingham, August 25, 1582, 
Bo-wes' Letter-Book. See, also, Woddrington to Walsingham, July 19, 
1582, Caligula, C. vii. 

f Wednesday, August 22. Lennox was then at Dalkeith, Arran at Kin- 
neil, the first place tive miles, the second eighteen miles from Edinburgh. 

1582. JAMES VI. 109 

their conspiracy.* This settled the question: and 
having once decided on action, their proceedings were 
as bold as they had before been dilatory. In an in- 
credibly short time, Gowrie, Mar, Lindsay, the Master 
of Glammis, and their associates, assembled a thousand 
men, and surrounded Ruthven castle, where the king 
then lay. It was Gowrie's own seat; and James, who, 
it appears, had no suspicion of the toils laid for him, 
had accepted the invitation of its master, thinking only 
of his rural sports. To his astonishment, the Earls of 
Mar and Gowrie entered his presence, removed his 
guards, presented a list of their grievances, and, whilst 
they professed the utmost fidelity to his person, took 
special care that all possibility of escape was cut off. 
Meanwhile, the intelligence flew to Arran that the 
king was captive ; and he, and Colonel Stewart his 
brother, set off in fiery speed at the head of a party 
of horse. Their attempt at rescue was, however, too 
late ; for Colonel Stewart was attacked, and defeated 
by Mar and Lochleven, who threw themselves upon 
him from an ambush, where they had watched his 
approach ; whilst Arran, who had galloped by a nearer 
way to Ruthven, was seized the moment he entered 
the castle court, and confined under a guard. All this 
had passed with such rapidity, and the lords who sur- 
rounded the king treated him with so much respect, 
that James deluded himself with the hope that he 
might still be a free monarch. But next morning 
dispelled the illusion. As he prepared to take horse, 
the Master of Glammis intimated to him that the lords 
who were now with him deemed it safer for his grace 
to remain at Ruthven. James declared he would go 

* MS. Letter, Sir George Bowes to Walsingham, August 26, 1572, Bowes' 
Letter-Book. Melvil's Memoirs, pp. 277, 281. 


that instant, and was about to A eave the chamber, when 
this baron rudely interposed, and placing his leg before 
the king, so as to intercept the door-way, commanded 
him to remain. The indignity drew tears from the 
young monarch ; and some of the associated lords 
remonstrated with Glammis ; but he sternly answered, 
" Better bairns * greet, than bearded men," a speech 
which his royal master never afterwards forgot or 

But although thus far successful, the actors in this 
violent and treasonable enterprise were in a dangerous 
predicament. Gowrie, Mar, Glammis, and Lindsay, 
were indeed all assured of each other, and convinced 
that they must stand or fall together; but the band or 
covenant which, according to the practice of the times, 
should have secured the assistance of their associates, 
was still unsigned by a great majority of the most 
powerful nobles and barons, on whose assistance they 
had calculated. On the other hand, the Duke of 
Lennox could reckon on the support of the Earls of 
Huntley, Sutherland, Morton, Orkney, Crawford, and 
Bothwell ; besides Lords Herries, Seton, Hume, Sir 
Thomas Ker of Fernyhirst, Sir James Balfour, the 
Abbot of Newbottle, and many inferior barons ; whilst 
the Earls of Caithness, March, and Marshal, professed 
neutrality.! This array of opposition was sufficiently 
appalling; and for a brief season the enterprisers of 
the Raid of Ruthven (as it was called) began to waver 
and tremble ; but a moment's consideration convinced 

* Bairns, children ; greet, weep. 

f MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4737, fol. 682, 683. Spottiswood, p. 320. 
J State-paper Office, JNames of the noblemen and lords that as yet stand 
with the Duke, September 5, 1582. 

MS. Caligula, C. vii. fol. 23, Sir George Carey to Burghley, September 

1582. JAMES VI. Ill 

them, that if there was danger in advance, there was 
infinitely greater in delay. They were already guilty 
of treason ; they had laid violent hands on the king's 
person ; had defied Lennox, imprisoned Arran, out- 
raged the laws, and raised against them the feelings, 
not only of their opponents, but of all good citizens. 
If they drew back, ruin was inevitable. If they went 
forward, although the peril was great, the struggle 
might yet end triumphantly. They had the young 
king in their hands, and could work upon his timidity 
and inexperience, by menacing his life : they had pos- 
session of Arran, also a man whom they dreaded far 
more than the gentler and vacillating Lennox : they 
were certain of the active support of the ministers of 
the Kirk ; and Bowes and Walsingham had already 
assured them of the warm approval, and, if necessary, 
the assistance of England. All this was encouraging; 
and they determined, at every risk, to press on reso- 
lutely in the revolution which they had begun. 

In the mean time, whilst such scenes passed at Ruth- 
ven, the capital presented a stirring scene. Lennox, 
who was at his castle of Dalkeith, in the immediate 
neighbourhood of the city, when he received the intel- 
ligence of the surprise of the king, deeming himself 
insecure in the open country, took refuge with his 
household within the town. On his arrival, the magis- 
trates despatched messengers to Ruthven, to ascertain 
the truth or falsehood of the king's captivity from his 
own lips ; the ministers of the Kirk began to exult, 
and rouse the people to join with the Ruthven lords ; 
and Mr James Lawson, although earnestly entreated, 
by the provost of the city, to be temperate in his 
sermon, replying, in the words of Micah, that what 


the Lord put in his mouth he would speak,* seized the 
opportunity to deliver, from the pulpit, a bitter and 
emphatic attack upon the duke and his profligate 
associate, Arran. It was true, he said, that these two 
harons had subscribed the Confession of Faith, pro- 
fessed the true religion, and communicated with their 
brethren at the Lord's table ; but their deeds testified 
that they were utter enemies of the truth. Had they 
not violated discipline, despised the solemn sentence of 
excommunication, set up Tulchan bishops, and traduced 
the most godly of the nobility and of the ministry ? 
And as for this Duke of Lennox, what had been his 
practices since the day he came amongst them? With 
what taxes had he burdened the commonwealth, to 
sustain his intolerable pride ? What vanity in apparel ; 
what looseness in manners ; what superfluity in ban- 
queting ; what fruits and follies of French growth had 
he not imported into their simple country ? Well 
might they be thankful ; well praise God for their 
delivery from what was to have been executed the 
next Tuesday. Well did it become Edinburgh to take 
up the song of the Psalmist " Laqueus contritus est, et 
nos liberati sumus.^^ 

Whilst the ministers of the Kirk thus eulogised the 
enterprise of the Ruthven lords, Elizabeth, who had 
speedily received intelligence of their success, despatch- 
ed Sir George Carey to Scotland, with letters to the 
young king, and instructions to cooperate with her 
Ambassador Bowes, in strengthening the hands of 
Gowrie and his faction. Randolph, too, wrote in 
great exultation to Walsingham, rejoicing in the 

* Calderwood, MS. History, fol. 1205-6. 

t Calderwood, MS. fol. 1206, Ayscough, 4736, British Museum. 

1582. JAMES VI. 113 

success of the revolution ; and, with the avidity and 
instinct of the bird which comes out in the storm, 
requesting to be again employed in the troubled at- 
mosphere of Scotland. Unmoved by the violence of 
the measures which had been adopted, he, in the spirit 
of the Puritan party to which he belonged, pronounced 
the king's captivity a reward conferred by God on his 
sincere followers. " If it be true," said he, " that the 
king be now in the Protestants' hands, the duke pur- 
sued, Arran imprisoned, and his brother slain, we may 
then see from this what it is to be true followers of 
Christ, in earnest preaching, and persevering in set- 
ting forth His word without respect or worldly poli- 
cies. 1 '* It seems strange it should never have occurred 
to this zealous diplomatist, that the imprisonment of 
a king, and the violent invasion and slaughter of his 
councillors, were not the fruits to be expected from 
the gospel of peace and love. 

Meanwhile, the captive monarch considered the late 
proceedings in a very different light, and meditated 
many schemes of escape and revenge ; but he was 
alone, and closely watched : he did not even consider 
his life in safety ; and although it would be difficult to 
believe that Go \vrie and his associates had any such 
atrocious designs, yet the history of Scotland afforded 
him too good a ground for these apprehensions. Len- 
nox, on the other hand, was timid and irresolute, 
allowed the precious moments for action to pass, and 
contented himself with despatching Lord Herries. and 
the Abbot of Newbottle, with some offers of recon- 
ciliation, which were instantly rejected.^ 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, September 2, 1582, Maidstone, 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office. 



These envoys, on arriving at Stirling, where Gowrie 
and his fellow-conspirators now held the king a pri- 
soner, were not permitted to see James in private, but 
were introduced to him in the council-chamber, where 
they declared their message. "The Duke of Len- 
nox," they said, " had sent them to inquire into the 
truth of a rumour, that his sovereign lord was forcibly 
detained in the hands of his enemies ; for if it were so, 
it was his duty to set him free ; and with the assis- 
tance of his good subjects, he would instantly make the 
attempt." The scene which occurred, on the delivery 
of this message, must have been an extraordinary one. 
Without giving Gowrie, or his friends, a moment to 
reply, James started from his seat, crying out it was 
all true : he was a captive ; he was not at liberty to 
go where he chose, or to move a step without a guard : 
and he bade them tell it openly, that all who loved 
him should assist the duke, and achieve his deliverance. 
The Ruthven lords were, for a moment, overwhelmed 
with confusion : but they outbraved the accusation. 
Their sovereign, they declared, had no more faithful 
subjects than themselves ; nor should he be denied to 
go where he pleased ; only, they would not permit 
the Duke of Lennox and the Earl of Arran to mis- 
lead him any longer. If he valued, therefore, the life 
of that person, he would do well to cause him to retire 
instantly, and quietly, to France. If this were not 
done, they must call him to account for his late actions, 
and enforce against him the most rigorous penalty of 
the law.* Such was the message which they sent 
back by Lord Herries ; and they followed it up by a 
peremptory command to Lennox to deliver up Dura- 

* Spottiswood, p. 320-321 

]582. JAMES VI. 115 

barton castle, quit the kingdom within twelve days, 
and, meanwhile, confine himself with a small train to 
his houses of Aberdour or Dalkeith ; orders which, 
after a short consideration, he despondinglj and 
pusillanimously prepared to obey.* 

* Copy of the time, endorsed, 14th Septemher from Stirling, 20th 
September to Windsor; also MS. Letter, Bowes to Walsingham, Stirling, 
20th September, 1582, Bowes' Letter-Book. 





England. I France. I Germany. I Spain. | Portugal. I Pope. 
Elizabeth. 1 Henry III. I Rudolph II. | Philip II. | Philip II. | Gregory XIII. 

ALL was now joy and exultation with the Ruthven 
lords, and the ministers of the Kirk, who cordially 
embraced their cause. Mr John Durie, who had been 
banished from his pulpit, in the capital, was brought 
back in processional triumph. As he entered the 
town, a crowd of nearly two thousand people walked 
before him bareheaded, and singing the 124th Psalm ; 
and, amid the shouts of the citizens, conducted him 
to the High Church.* It was observed that Lennox, 
from a window, looked down on the crowd, and tore 
his beard for anger ; but although still supported by 
a considerable party amongst the citizens, he showed 
no disposition to contest the field with his enemies ; 
and next day, accompanied by Lord Maxwell, Ferny- 
hirst, and others of his friends, he left the city, and 
took the road to Dalkeith. This, however, was only 
to blind his opponents ; for he soon wheeled off in an 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1212 They sung it in four parts. 

i582. JAMES VI. 

opposite direction, and, with eighty horse, galloped to 

Meanwhile, Gowrie and his associates carried all 
with a bold hand. They had already compelled the 
king to issue a proclamation, in which he declared that 
he was a free monarch, and preferred to remain for the 
present at Stirling : both assertions being well known 
to be false. They now committed Arran to a stricter 
ward, summoned a convention of the nobility for an 
early day, required the Kirk to send commissioners to 
this Assembly, promised to hear and remove its com- 
plaints, and gave a cordial welcome to Sir George Carey 
and Sir Robert Bowes, the English ambassadors, who 
had now arrived at Stirling.-f- 

At this audience Carey delivered a gracious message 
from his royal mistress ; but when he alluded to the 
dangerous practices of Lennox, and charged him with 
meditating an alteration in religion, and the overthrow 
of the king^s estate and person, James could not con- 
ceal his passion and disgust. He warmly vindicated 
his favourite : affirmed that nothing had been done by 
Lennox alone, but with advice of the council; and 
declared his utter disbelief that any treason could be 
proved against him.J Elizabeth and Walsingham, 
however, trusted that this would not be so difficult ; 
for they had lately seized and examined two persons, 
who managed the secret correspondence which the im- 
prisoned Queen of Scots had recently carried on with 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Archibald Douglas to Randolph, 12th 
September, 1582. Calderwood, MS. Hist., fol. 1213. 

t Calderwood, MS. Hist., Ayscough, 4736, fol. 1211-12. Ibid. fol. 1213. 
Carey had audience on the 12th September, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 
14th September, 1582, Carey to Elizabeth. Endorsed by himself "Copy 
of my Letter to the Queen's Majesty." Bowes was at Berwick on the 10th, 
and at Stirling on the 14th September. Bowes' Letter-Book. 

I Calderwood, MS. History, fol. 1213. 


Lennox, her son, and the court of France. These 
were, George Douglas of Lochleven, the same who had 
assisted the queen in her escape ; and the noted Archi- 
bald Douglas, cousin to the late Regent Morton, who 
had remained in exile in England since the execution 
of his relative and the triumph of Lennox. 

This Archibald, a daring and unprincipled man, had 
been a principal agent in the murder of Darnley, and 
had played, since that time, a double game in England. 
He had become reconciled to Lennox, and was trusted, 
in their confidential measures, by Mary and the French 
court ; whilst he had ingratiated himself with Eliza- 
beth, Walsingham, and Randolph, to whom he un- 
scrupulously betrayed the intrigues of their opponents. 
On the late fall of Arran, the mortal enemy of the 
house of Douglas, he had written an exulting letter to 

O ' O 

Randolph,* and had begun his preparations for his 
return to his native country, when he was seized, by 
the orders of the English queen, his house and papers 
ransacked, and his person committed to the custody 
of Henry Killigrew, who, by no means, relished the 
charge of the "old Fox," as he styled him, in his letter 
to Walsingham. -f 

From the revelations of these two persons much was 
expected ; and George Douglas confessed that he had 
carried on a correspondence between Mary and her 
son, in which she had consented to " demit" the crown 
in his favour, on the condition of being associated with 
him in the government: he affirmed, too, that her 
friends in France had consented to recognise him as 
king. It was evident, also, that a constant communi- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Archibald Douglas to Randolph, Sept. 
12, 1582. See Proofs and Illustrations, No. X. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Henry Killigrew to Walsingham, Sept. 

1582. JAMES VI. 119 

cation had been kept up between Lennox and the 
captive queen, in which the Bishop of Glasgow, her 
ambassador at the French court, had assisted ; but it 
would have required much ingenuity to construe this 
into treason on the part of Lennox, and the examina- 
tions of Archibald Douglas gave no colour to the ac- 
cusation. Arran, indeed, who was still a prisoner at 
Ruthven, offered to purchase his freedom by discovering 
enough to cost Lennox his head; * but the lords would 
not trust him, and preferred relying on their own ex- 
ertions to accepting so dangerous an alliance. 

In these efforts they derived the most active assis- 
tance from the ministers of the Kirk, who, on first 
hearing of the enterprise at Ruthven, despatched Mr 
James Lawson, and Mr John Davison, to have a pre- 
liminary conference with Gowrie and his associates at 
Stirling ;-f- and, a few days after, sent a more solemn 
deputation, including Andrew Melvil and Thomas 
Smeton, to explain to the privy-council the griefs and 
abuses of which the Kirk demanded redress. J At 
this meeting, the causes which had led to the late re- 
volution were fully debated ; and a band or covenant 
was drawn up, declaring the purposes for which it had 
been undertaken, and calling upon all who loved their 
country, and the true religion, to subscribe it, and 
unite in their defence. Two days after this, Lennox, 
from his retreat at Dumbarton, published an indignant 
denial of the accusations brought against him ; in which 
he demanded a fair trial before the three Estates, and 
declared his readiness to suffer any punishment, if 
found guilty. He alluded, in this, to the king's 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Archibald Douglas to Randolph, Sept. 
12, 1582. 

t On the 15th September, 1582. MS. Calderwood, fol. 1227. 
J Ibid. MS. Calderwood, fol. 1225. 


captivity; and retorted against the Ruthven lords 
the charge of treason : but the associates fulminated 
a counter declaration ; repelled this as an unfounded 
calumny; and insisted, that to say the king was de- 
tained against his will, was a manifest lie, the contrary 
being known to all men.* What shall we say or 
think of the Kirk, when we find its ministers lending 
their countenance and assent to an assertion which 
they must have known to be utterly false? 

In the midst of these commotions which followed 
the Raid of Ruthven, occurred the death of Buchanan, 
a man justly entitled to the epithet great, if the true 
criteria of such a character are originality of genius, 
and the impression left by it upon his age. His in- 
tellect, naturally fearless and inquisitive, caught an 
early and eager hold of the principles of the Reforma- 
tion; and having gone abroad, and fallen into the toils 
of the inquisition, persecution completed what nature 
had begun. In politics he was a republican; and his 
famous treatise " De Jure Regni apud Scotos," was 
the first work which boldly and eloquently advocated 
those principles of popular liberty, then almost new, 
and now so familiar to Europe. In religion he was at 
first a leveller, and with the keen and vindictive tem- 
per which distinguished him, exerted every effort to 
overthrow the Roman Catholic Church ; but, in his 
later years, when the struggle took place between 
Episcopacy and Presbyterianism, his sentiments be- 
came more moderate or indifferent; and latterly he took 
no part in those busy intrigues of the Kirk and its 
supporters which terminated in the Raid of Ruthven. 
Of his poetical works, so varied in style and so excel- 
lent in execution, it is difficult to speak too highly ; 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1225. 

1582. JAMES VI. 121 

for seldom did a finer and more impassioned vein of 
poetry flow through a Latinity that, without servile 
imitation, approached so near to the Augustan age. In 
his history of his native country he is great, but un- 
equal: his was not the age of severe and critical in- 
vestigation: the school in which he studied was that 


of Livy and the historians of ancient Rome, in which 
individuality and truth is often lost in the breadth and 
generality of its pictures. But in their excellencies, 
he has equalled and sometimes surpassed them. The 
calm flow of his narrative, his lucid arrangement, the 
strong sense, originality, and depth of his reflections, 
and the ease and vigour of his unshackled style, need 
not dread a comparison with the best authors of the 
ancient world. The point where he fails is that in 
which they, too, are weakest the cardinal virtue of 
truth. It is melancholy to find so much fable embalmed 
and made attractive in his earlier annals ; and when 
he descends later, and writes as a contemporary, it is 
easy to detect that party spirit and unhappy obliquity 
of vision, which distorts or will not see the truth. In 
an interesting letter quoted by the best of his bio- 
graphers,* and written not long before his death, he 
tells his friend, that having reached his seventy- fifth 
year, and struck upon that rock beyond which nothing 
remains for man but labour and sorrow, it was his 
only care to remove out of the world with as little 
noise as possible. With this view he abstracted him- 
self from all public business; left the court at Stirling, 
and retired to Edinburgh ; where, on the twenty-eighth 
September, 1582, his wishes were almost too literally 
fulfilled : for amid the tumult and agitation which 
succeeded the Raid of Ruthven, his death took place 

* Irving's Life of Buchanan, p. 273. 


in his seventy-sixth year, unnoticed, unrecorded, and 
accompanied by such destitution, that he left not enough 
to defray his funeral. He was buried at the public 
expense in the cemetery of the Grey Friars : but his 
country gave him no monument ; and at this day the 
spot is unknown where rest the ashes of one of the 
greatest of her sons.* 

Soon after the death of Buchanan, the General 
Assembly met at Edinburgh on the ninth October ; 
and the noblemen who had engaged in the enterprise 
at Ruthven, having laid before this great ecclesiastical 
council their " Declaration " of the grounds on which 
they acted, received, to their satisfaction, the cordial 
approval of the Kirk; Nor was this all: the Assembly 
issued their orders, that every minister throughout 
the kingdom should justify the action, and explain to 
his congregation the imminent perils from which it had 
delivered religion, the commonwealth, and the king^s 
person ; and not satisfied even with this, it was deter- 
mined to institute a rigid prosecution of all persons 
who presumed to express a different opinion, -j* But 
although thus resolute in the support of the Ruthven 
confederates, as far as concerned their seizure of the 
king, the ministers severely rebuked the same noblemen 
for the profligacy of their lives, and their sacrilegious 
appropriation of the ecclesiastical revenues. Davison 
the minister of Libberton, in his conference withGowrie 
and his friends, called loudly on them to begin their 
reformation of the commonwealth with a thorough re- 
form of their sinful and abominable conversation, pol- 

and the spot -where it once was is not now known. 
t MS. Calderwood, fol. 1232, 3, 4; also, fol. 1236. 

1582. JAMES vr. 123 

luted as it was by swearing, lust, and oppression; and 
to show the sincerity of their repentance by resigning 
the teinds into the hands of their true owners; * whilst 
Craig, in preaching before the court, drew tears from 
the eyes of the young monarch by the severity of his 

About this time, Sir Robert Bowes, the English 
ambassador at Edinburgh, having learnt that the cele- 
brated casket, which contained the disputed letters of 
Mary to Bothwell, had come, in the late troubles, into 
the possession of the Earl of Gowrie, communicated 
the intelligence to Elizabeth. By her anxious and 
repeated orders he exerted himself to obtain it ; but 
without success. Gowrie at first equivocated, and was 
unwilling to admit the fact ; but when Bowes convinced 
him that he had certain proof of it, he changed his 
ground, alleging that such precious papers could not 
be delivered to Elizabeth without the special directions 
of the king. This was absurd, for James at this mo- 
ment was a mere cipher ; but the leader in the late 
revolution did not choose to part with papers which, 
in his busy and intriguing career, he might one day 
turn to his advantage.^ Gowrie's is the last hand into 
which we can trace these famous letters, which have 
since totally disappeared. 

The situation of James was now pitiable and degrad- 
ing. He hated the faction who had possession of his 
person ; but terror for his life compelled him to dis- 
semble, and he was convinced, that to gain delay and 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1227. 

t Ibid. fol. 1228. 

+ The letters of Bowes, upon this subject, are preserved in his original 
Letter-Book, now before me, and kindly communicated by Sir Cuthbert 
Sharp. Very full extracts from them were printed by Robertson, in his 
Last edition, from copies sent him by Birch. 


throw his enemies off their guard by appearing recon- 
ciled to the dismissal of Lennox, was the surest step 
to a recovery of his liberty. The most anxious wish 
of his heart was to see the duke restored to his former 
power; but to betray this now, would, he thought, be 
to bring his favourite into more imminent peril; whilst 
if he allowed him to retire for a short season to France, 
he might not only escape ruin, but return with renewed 
influence and power. There were some friends of 
Lennox, on the other hand, who exhorted him strongly 
to attack his enemies, and assured him that every day 
spent in inactivity, added strength to their position 
and weakened his own; whereas, if he boldly faced the 
danger, they were ready to assemble a force sufficient 
to overwhelm Gowrie, and rescue the king. These so 
far prevailed, that on one of the dark nights of Decem- 
ber,* it was resolved to attack the palace of Holyrood, 
massacre the Ruthven lords, and carry off the king ; 
but the ministers, and Sir George Bowes the English 
ambassador sounded the alarm ; a strong watch was 
kept; and although Fernyhirst, Maxwell, Sir John 
Seton, and other barons, were known to have joined 
Lennox, and parties of horsemen were seen hovering 
all night round the city, the enterprise, from some 
unknown cause, was abandoned, and the king remained 
a prisoner.*^ 

This failure was a triumph to the opposite faction, 
who lost no time in following up the advantage. A 
letter was sent to the duke, to which the king had been 

* On the 4th December, 1582. 

t MS. Calderwood, fol. 1244, 1245. Also, MS. Letter, Sir George Bowes 
to Walsingham, December 6, 1S82, which gives an interesting account of the 
intended attempt. It was proposed to slay the Earl of Mar, the Abbot of 
Dunfennline, the Prior of Blantyre, and Mr John Colvile. Bowes' Letter- 

1 582. JAMES vi. 125 

compelled to put his name, charging him with disturbing 
the government, and with recklessly endangering the 
safety of the royal person ; whilst a herald was de- 
spatched to command him, in the name of the council, 
instantly to leave the country upon pain of treason.* 
This order, after many vain pretexts and fruitless delays, 
he at last oheyed ; having first sent a passionate re- 
monstrance to his royal master, against the cruelty 
and injustice with which he had been treated.-f- On 
his road to London, (for he had obtained permission 
to pass through England into France,) he encountered 
two ambassadors who were posting to the Scottish 
court: La Motte, who carried a message from the King 
of France; and Davison, who was commissioned by 
Elizabeth to examine the state of parties in Scotland 
and cooperate with Bowes in strengthening the Ruth- 
ven faction. It was the anxious desire of the English 
queen that no communication should take place between 
La Motte and the duke, as she had received secret 
information that this Frenchman came to promote the 
great scheme of an " association" between Mary and 
her son, by which the Scottish queen was nominally 
to be joined with him in the government, whilst he was 
to retain the title of king.J It was believed, also, that 
he was empowered to propose a marriage between the 
young king and a daughter of France; and to strengthen 
the Catholic party by promises of speedy support. 
Walsingham, therefore, threw every delay in the way 
of the French ambassador; and he acted so success- 

* MS. Letter, Sir George Bowes to Walsingham, December 9, 1582. 
Bowes' Letter-Book. 

f MS. Letter, State- paper Office, endorsed by Cecil, " From tbe Duke of 
Lennox to tbe Scottish King: from Dumbarton, December 16'," 1582. See 
Proofs and Illustrations, No. XI. 

I MS. State-paper Office, January 20, 1582-3, " Article presentee pa? la 


fully, that La Motte found all his purposes counter- 
acted. He was eager to hurry into Scotland before 
Lennox had left it; but matters were so managed, 
that they only met on the road ; and here, too, Davison, 
who had received his lesson, took care that their con- 
ference should be of the briefest description.* Lennox 
then passed on to London, and the French and English 
ambassadors held their way for Scotland. 

Meanwhile, the Ruthven lords, with their allies the 
ministers of the Kirk, were much elated by the triumph 
over Lennox ; and Bowes, in a letter to Walsingham, 
assured the secretary, that Elizabeth might have them 
all at her devotion if she would but advance the money 
necessary for their contentment and the support of the 
king.-f- They selected Mr John Colvile, who had acted 
a principal part in the late revolution, to proceed as 
ambassador to the English queen. He came nominally 
from the King of Scots, but really from them, and 
brought letters to Walsingham from Gowrie, Mar, 
the Prior of Blantyre, and the Abbot of Dunfermline, 
the great leaders of that party. On his arrival at court, 
he found there his old antagonist the Duke of Lennox, 
who had brought a letter and a message to Elizabeth 
from his royal master. This princess had, at first, 
refused to see him under any circumstances; but after- 
wards admitted him to a private interview, in which, 
to use the homely but expressive phrase of Calderwood 
the historian of the Kirk, " she rattled him up," J 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Burgliley, January 3, 1582. 
Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir W. Mildmay to Walsingham, Dec. 
29, 1582. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Burghley or Walsingham 
to Mr Bowes, January 4, 1582-3. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, about the 18th 
December, 1582. 

J The interview took place on Monday, January 14, 1582-3. MS Calder- 
wood, fol. 1250. 




addressing to him, at first, many cutting speeches on 
his misgovernm ent ; to which the duke replied with 
so much gentleness and good sense, that she softened 
down before they parted and dismissed him courte- 

' During Lennox's brief residence in London, Secre- 
tary Walsingham exerted the utmost efforts to dis- 
cover his real sentiments on religion ; as the ministers 
of the Kirk insisted that, notwithstanding his professed 
conversion, he continued a Roman Catholic at heart ; 
and that the whole principles of his government had 
been, and would continue to be, hostile to England. It 
is curious to observe by what low devices, and with 
what complete success, the English secretary became 
possessed of Lennoxes most secret feelings and opinions. 
There was at the English court one Mr William 
Fowler, a gentleman of Scottish extraction, and appa- 
rently connected with the duke, who had admitted him 
into his secret confidence. Fowler, at the same time, 
had insinuated himself into the good graces of Mau- 
vissiere, the resident French ambassador at the court 
of Elizabeth ; and, by pretending a devoted attach- 
ment to French interests and the cause of the captive 
Queen of Scots, he had become acquainted with much 
of the intentions and intrigues of Mary and her friends. 
This man was a spy of Walsingham's ; and his letters 
to this statesman, detailing his secret conversations 
with Lennox and Mauvissiere, have been preserved. 
The picture which they present is striking. In their 
first interview, Lennox showed much satisfaction. 
" Your mother's house," said he to Fowler, " was the 
first I entered, in coming to Scotland, and the last I 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 
ham, January, 1582-3. 

(Fowler, I think) to Walsing- 


quitted, in leaving the country. 1 " The duke then told 
him that the French ambassador was not in London, 
but had been sent for suddenly to court. This was a 
trick, he added, to prevent a meeting between him 
and Mauvissiere ; and he heard, also, that the Queen 
of England would not see him ; but, in truth, he had 
little to say to her, except to complain of the conduct 
of her ambassador in Scotland. At this moment their 
conference was broken off by some of the courtiers, 
who appeared dissatisfied that they should talk to- 
gether ; and the Master of Livingston, who was in the 
confidence of Lennox and his friends, joined the party. 
Fowler, upon this, took Livingston aside, and expressed 
his astonishment that the duke should have left Scot- 
land when he could muster so strong a party against 
his enemies. Livingston replied, that Lennox knew 
both his own strength and the king's good will ; but 
that he had been forced to leave Scotland, " because 
the king mistrusted very much his own life and safety; 
having been sharply threatened by the lords, that, if 
he did not cause the duke to depart, he should not be 
the longest liver of them all. 1 ' 1 * Arran, it appeared, 
had also written to James, assuring him that the only 
surety for his life was to send Lennox out of Scot- 
land ; and Fowler, in his secret meetings with Mau- 
vissiere the French ambassador, had the address to 
elicit from him, and communicate to Walsingham, the 
intended policy of France. La Motte Fenelou had 
been sent, he said, to renew the old league with Scot- 
land ; to offer succour to the young king, if he found 
him in captivity, and a guard for the security of his 
person ; to promise pensions to the principal noble- 

* Fowler to Walsingham, January 5, 1582-3. MS. Letter, State-paper 
Office. Fowler used a mark, or cipher, for his name. 

1582-3. JAMES VI 129 

men in Scotland, as they had in Cardinal Beaton's 
time ; and, if possible, to advise a marriage with 
Spain. As to James's religious sentiments, Lennox 
had assured Mauvissiere that the young king was so 
constant to the Reformed faith, that he would lose his 
life rather than forsake it ; and when the ambassador 
asked the duke whether he, too, was a Huguenot, he 
declared that he professed the same faith as his royal 

At the same time that he thus fathomed the schemes 
of Lennox and the French court, Walsingham had 
secured and corrupted another agent of the captive 
queen, who, on the discovery of his practices with 
Mary and the English Catholics, had, as we have 
above seen, been thrown into prison by Elizabeth. 
This was that same Archibald Douglas, above men- 
tioned as a man of considerable ability and restless 
intrigue. It had been proposed by Lennox to bring 
Douglas back to Scotland, and employ his power and 
talents against the English faction and the Kirk ; but 
the young king had shrunk from receiving a man 
stained with his father's blood : and the prisoner, 
anxious for his freedom, was ready to purchase it by 
betraying the secrets of his royal mistress ; consenting 
to plot against her with the same activity which he 
had exerted in her behalf. -J- We shall soon perceive 
the success of this base scheme, and its fatal influence 
upon the fate of Mary. 

In the mean time, Elizabeth gave an audience to 
Colvile the ambassador of Gowrie and the Kirk, and 
assured him of her entire approval of their spirited 

* Fowler to Walsingham, January 19, 1582-3. Also same (as I Uhink) 
to Walsingham, January, l58'2-3. 

t State-paper Office, to Walsiugham, January, 1582-3. 



proceedings against Lennox. She cautioned him, in 
strong terms, against French intrigues ; observing, 
that though the king promised fair, yet, as the recent 
conspiracy for seizing his person plainly showed, 
" Satanas non dormit;" and she concluded by a general 
assurance of support, and a promise to restore Archi- 
bald Douglas to his native country, as soon as he had 
cleared himself from the accusations against him in 
England.* Scotland, during these transactions, must 
have been in a state of extraordinary excitement : it 
was a busy stirring stage, upon which the young king, 
the ministers of the Kirk, the French ambassador, 
and Gowrie, with the rest of the Ruthven lords, acted 
their different parts with the utmost zeal and activity. 
James, whom necessity had made an adept in political 
hypocrisy, or, as he sometimes styled it, king-craft, 
pretended to be completely reconciled to the departure 
of Lennox, and said nothing in condemnation of the 
violent conduct of his opponents ; whilst he secretly 
intrigued for the recall of his favourite, and anticipated 
the moment when he should resume his liberty, and 
take an ample revenge upon his enemies. The minis- 
ters, on their side, deemed the season too precious to 
be neglected ; they had expelled the man whom they 
considered the emissary of Antichrist, the young 
kirig^s person was in the hands of their friends, and 
they determined that he should remain so. 

Such being the state of things, the arrival of 
Monsieur de Menainville the French ambassador, and 
his request to have a speedy audience of the king, 
aroused them to instant action. From the pulpits 
resounded the notes of warning and alarm : France 

* State-paper Office, January 18, 1582-3, Her Majesty's Answer to Mr 
Colvile's Negotiation. 

1582-3. JAMES VI. 131 

was depicted as the stronghold of idolatry ; the 
French king pointed out as the Tiger who glutted 
himself with the blood of God's people ; it became 
amongst them a matter of serious debate whether it 


were lawful to receive any ambassador from an idola- 
ter ; and when the more violent could not carry their 
wishes, and it was decided that, " in matters politick," 
such a messenger might be permitted to enter the 
kingdom, a committee was appointed to wait upon the 
young king, and read him a solemn lesson of admoni- 
tion.* In this interview James behaved with spirit, 
and proved a match in theological and political con- 
troversy for the divines who came to instruct him. 
These were, Pont, Lawson, Lindsay, and Davison ; 
and, on entering the royal cabinet, they found Gowrie 
the Justice-clerk, and others of the council, with the 
king, who thanked them for their advice, but observed 
that he was bound by the law of nations to use courtesy 
to all ambassadors. Should an envoy come from the 
pope, or even from the Turk, still he must receive him. 
This Lawsou stoutly controverted; but the king not 
only maintained his point, but took occasion to blame 
the abuse with which this minister had assailed the 
French monarch. " As for that," said they, " the 
priests speak worse of your grace in France, than we 
of the King of France in Scotland." " And must ye 
imitate them in evil?" retorted James. "Not in evil," 
was their answer, " but in liberty. It is as fair for us 
to speak the truth boldly, as they boldly speak lees;-f- 
and if we were silent, the chronicles would speak and 
reprove it." " Chronicles," said James, "ye write not 
histories when ye preach." Upon which Davisou 

* MS. Calderwood, pp. 1247, 1251, inclusive, British Mnscum. 
t " Lees" lies. 


whispered in Lawson's ear, that preachers had more 
authority to declare the truth in preaching, than any 
historiographer in the world. Gowrie then observed, 
that as hasty a riddance as might be, should be got of 
the French ambassadors ; and the ministers took their 
leave, but Davison lingered for a moment behind his 
brethren, craved a private word in the king's ear, and 
remonstrated sotto voce against his profane custom of 
swearing in the course of his argument. " Sir," said 
he, " I thought good to advertise you, but not before 
the rest, that ye swore and took God's name in vain 
too often in your speeches." James was nowise dis- 
pleased with this honest freedom ; but, accompanying 
the reverend monitor to the door of the cabinet, put 
his hand lovingly upon his shoulder, expressed his 
thanks for the reproof, and, above all, lauded him for 
the unusually quiet manner in which it had been ad- 

No such reserve or delicacy, however, was shown by 
the ministers to the French ambassadors ; and Mon- 
sieur de Menainville a man of great spirit was com- 
pelled to vindicate their privileges in his first public 
audience. It had been debated by the Kirk, with a 
reference to their arrival, whether private masses should 
be permitted under any circumstances ; and aware of 
this, he had scarcely risen from kissing the king's 
hand, when he put on his cap, and boldly claimed the 
privileges which belonged to his office. " I am come," 
said he, " from the most Christian King of France, my 
sovereign, to offer all aid to the establishment of quiet- 
ness ; and being an ambassador, and not a subject, I 
crave to be treated as such ; and as I have food allotted 
for my body, so do I require to be allowed the food of 

* MS. Caldenvood, fol. 1250, 1252. 

1582-3. JAMES VI. 133 

my soul, I mean the Mass ; which if it is denied me, 
I may not stay and suffer a Christian prince's authority 
and embassy to be violated in my person." * This 
spirited address made much noise at the time; and 
drew from Mr James Lawson, on the succeeding Sab- 
bath, a counterblast of defiance, in which, seizing the 
opportunity of elucidating the mission of the King of 
Babylon, he "pointed out the French ambassage," and 
denounced Monsieur de Menainville as the counterpart 
of the blasphemous and railing Rabshakeh. Nor was 
this all: the indignation of the Kirk was roused to a 


still higher pitch, when the king commanded the ma- 
gistrates of the capital to give (as had been usual in 
such cases) a farewell banquet to De la Motte Fenelon. 
This ambassador now proposed to return to France, 
leaving his colleague, Monsieur de Menainville, to 
watch over the interests of that kingdom in Scotland; 
and nothing could equal the abuse and opprobrious 
terms which were employed, to convince men of the 
horror of such a proposal. Even the sacred ornament 
of the cross, which La Motte, who was a knight of 
the order of the "Saint Esprit," wore upon his mantle, 
was described as the badge of Antichrist ; and when 
the influence of the ministers was found insufficient to 
stay the feast, a solemn fast was proclaimed for the 
same day, to continue as long as the alleged profane 
entertainment was enacting. At this moment, the 
scene presented by the capital was extraordinary. On 
one side the king and his courtiers indulging in mirth 
and festive carousal ; whilst, on the other, was heard 
the thunder of the Kirk, and its ministers "crying out 
all evil, slanderous, and injurious words that could be 
spoken against France;" and threatening with ana- 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1253. 


thema and excommunication the citizens who had dared 
to countenance the unhallowed feast.* 

Meanwhile the king became every day more weary 
of his captive condition ; and secretly favoured the 
efforts of De Menainville, who remained in Scotland, 
and spared neither money nor promises in drawing 
together a faction against Gowrie and his associates. 
It was necessary, however, to act slowly and with 
great caution, for the keen eyes of Bowes and Davi- 
son, Elizabeth's agents at the Scottish court, early 
detected these intrigues. Walsingham, too, was in- 
formed of the frequent communications which took 
place between the captive queen and her son ; and his 
spies and agents on the continent sent him, almost 
daily, information of the correspondence of the Eng- 
lish refugees and foreign Catholics with their friends 
in England.-f* Had Elizabeth seconded, as was ne- 
cessary, the indefatigable efforts of her ministers, it 
can hardly be doubted that she would have overthrown 
the efforts of France ; but her parsimony was so ex- 
cessive,! that Walsingham found himself compelled 
to renounce many advantages which the slightest sa- 
crifice of money would have secured. It was in vain 
that she commanded Bowes and Davison to remon- 
strate with the young king, to warn him of the con- 
federacies of foreign princes against religion, to point 
out the great forces lately raised in France, to declare 
her astonishment at his suffering the insolence of De 
Menainville, and receiving, as she heard he had done, 
with complacency, the congratulations of La Motte 

* Spottiswood, p. S24. Historic of James the Sext, pp. 196, 197. MS. 
Calderwood, p. 1253. 

t MS. Caklerwood, fol. 1254. 

i Orig. Minute, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Bowe?, March 2, 
1583-3. Also, State-paper Office, same to same, Feb. 27, 15JJ2-3. 

1582-3. JAMES VI. 135 

on his intended " association " with his mother, the 
Queen of Scots. It was in vain that she expressed 
her alarm at the report which had reached her, that 
he meant to recall the Duke of Lennox from France, 
and restore the Earl of Arran to his liberty ; in vain 
that she begged him to peruse the letter written to him 
with her own hand, expressing her opinion of that tur- 
bulent man whose ambition knew no limits, and would 
inevitably cast his State into new troubles. These re- 
monstrances James, who was an early adept in diplo- 
matic hypocrisy, received with expressions of gratitude 
and devotedness ; but they did not in the slightest 
degree alter his efforts to regain his freedom, and 
strengthen his party; whilst, with a talent and sagacity 
superior to his years, he controlled the more violent 
of his friends, forbade all sudden movements, and 
calmly watched for a favourable moment to put forth 
his strength, and resume his freedom. 

This patience, indeed, was still necessary ; for, 
although gradually losing ground, the strength 
of Gowrie, and the faction of the Kirk, was yet too 
powerful for their opponents ; and a convention having 
been held by them in the capital, (eighteenth April, 
1583,) it was resolved to assemble parliament. Against 
this measure James, who dreaded the proscription of 
his friends, and the total overthrow of his designs, re- 
monstrated in the strongest terms, and even to tears, 
when his request was denied. He prevailed so far, 
however, as to have the meeting of the three Estates 

' O 

delayed till October; and cheerfully consented that a 
friendly embassy should be despatched to England. 
To this service, two persons of very opposite principles 
were appointed: Colonel Stewart, the brother of the 
I^arl of Arran, who was much in the king's confidence, 


and had been bribed by De Menainville; and Mr John 
Colvile, who was attached to Govvrie and the Ruthven 
lords. Their open instructions were to communicate 
to Elizabeth, from the king, the measures he had 
adopted for the security and tranquillity of his realm; 
to request her approval and assistance; to move her 
to restore the lands in England which belonged to his 
grandfather the Earl of Lennox, ,and the Countess of 
Lennox his grandmother, and to have some consulta- 
tion on his marriage.* They were, lastly, enjoined to 
make strict inquiry whether any act was contemplated 
in prejudice of his succession to the English crown, 
and, if possible, to ascertain the queers own feelings 
upon this delicate subject.-f- De ]\lenainville the French 
ambassador still lingered in Scotland, although he 
had received his answer and applied for his passports;* 
but the king was unwilling that he should leave court 
before he had completely organized the scheme for his 
delivery. Of all these intrigues Walsingham was fully 
aware: for De la Motte Fenelon, in passing through 
London, had informed Fowler of the great coalition 
against the Ruthven lords; and Fowler, of whose 
treacherous practices the ambassador had no suspicion, 
told all again to Walsingham. || It appeared, from 
these revelations, that la Motte had in his pocket, to 
be presented to his master the French king, a list of 
the most powerful nobleman in Scotland who had band- 
ed together for the king's delivery. These were the 
Earls of Huntley, Arran, Athole, Montrose, Rothes, 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1257. State-paper Office, April, 1583, Instruc- 
tions to Colonel Stewart. 

f Instructions to Colonel Stewart, ut supra. 

Calderwood, MS. fol. 1265. 

La Motte arrived in London about the 20th February, 1582-3. State- 
paper Office, Walsingham to Bowes, February 20, 1582-3. 

|| State-paper Office, Fowler to Walsingham, March 28, 1583. 

1582-3. JAMES vi. 137 

Morton, Eglinton, Bothwell, Glencairn, and Crawford, 
with the Lords Hume and Scton. The young king 
himself had secretly assured La Motte Fenelon, "that, 
although he had two eyes, two ears, and two hands, he 
had but one heart, and that was French ; "* and so suc- 
cessfully had De Menainville laboured, that he had not 
only strengthened his own faction, but sown such dis- 
trust and jealousy amongst its opponents, that Gowrie, 
their chief leader, began to tremble for his safety, and 
vacillate in his fidelity to his former associates. } 

At this moment, Rocio Bandelli, Menainville's 
confidential servant, who was carrying his letters to 
Mauvissiere, his brother ambassador at the English 
court, betrayed his trust, opened the despatches, and 
gave copies of them to Sir Robert Bowes, who imme- 
diately communicated their contents to Walsingham. 
The young king, it appeared by their contents, had 
been urged to explode the mine, and at once destroy 
the lords who held him in durance ; but he dreaded 
to lose Elizabeths favour, and was convinced that a 
premature attempt would ruin all. His wish was to 
dissemble matters till the return of his ambassadors, 
Colonel Stewart and Colvile, from the mission to Eng- 
land, and they had not yet left Scotland. Mauvissiere, 
in the mean time, had warned Menainville, that Stew- 
irt, whose passion was money, was likely to betray 
him ; and his reply is so characteristic that I insert 
it : " As to him who comes into England, (he means 
Stewart,) all your reasons, as far as my judgment goes, 
militate against your own opinion. For if it is his 

* State- paper Office, Walsingham to Davison and Bowes, March 9, 1582-3. 
Orig. Minute. 

h State-paper Office, Copie de la Premiere Lettre. Endorsed, Menain- 
ville to La Motte ; but I think the letter is written to Mauvissiere, March 
'28, 1583. 


trade to be treacherous to all the world, why should 
he be unfaithful to me more than to any other ? He 
loves money : granted ; but to take my gold does not 
hinder him from receiving another's. May we not 
hope, that such a man will do more for two sums than 
for one ? He is a party man. I admit it ; but show 
me any man who has his own fortune at heart, and 
does not trim with the times? His chief interest lies 
in England, believe me, much less than in another 
place which you wot of, where he may hope to gain 
more by a certain way in which I have instructed him, 
(and which he will show } T ou,) than by any other 
service in the world. For the rest, the game is a good 
game."* * 

It must have been tantalizing to Walsingham, whose 
unceasing exertions had thus detected the plots of the 
French court in Scotland, to find that all their efforts 
to defeat them, and keep the English party together, 
were ruined by Elizabeth's extreme parsimony. In 
other matters, not involving expense, she was active 
and vigorous enough. Holt, the Jesuit, who was en- 
gaged in secret transact ions with the Scottish Catholics, 
had been seized at Leith ; and Elizabeth strongly 
recommended that he should be, as she expressed it, 
" substantially examined, and forced, by torture," to 
discover all he knew.-f- She wrote to Gowrie, and to 
the young king ; J she urged her busy agent, Bowes, 
to press Menainville's departure ; but the moment 
that Burghley, the Lord Chancellor, and Walsingham, 
recommended the instant advance of ten thousand 

* Copy, State-paper Office, Menainville to Mauvissiere, March 28, 1583. 
The original is in French. Also, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walaingham, 
March 28, 1583. 

f State-paper Office, Walsingham to Bowes, April 15, 1583. 
J MS. State-paper Office, Gpwrie to Elizabeth, April 24, 15J 


1583. JAMES VI. 139 

pounds to counteract the French influence in Scotland, 
" she did utterly mislike such a point, (to use Wal- 
singham's words,) because it cast her into charges."* 
Of this sum one half was to be given to the young 
king, and the rest expended upon the nobility, and 
the entertainment of a resident minister at the Scottish 
court ; but, when moved in the business, the queen 
would not advance a farthing. 

About this same time, and shortly before the Scottish 
ambassadors set out for England, the captive Queen 
of Scots, worn out with her long imprisonment, and 
weary of the perpetual dangers and anxieties to which 
the efforts of the Catholic party exposed her, renewed 
her negotiations with Elizabeth. Some months before 


this she had addressed a pathetic and eloquent appeal 
to that princess, imploring her to abate the rigour of 
her confinement, to withdraw support from the rebels 
who kept her son in durance, and to listen to the 
sincere offers she had so repeatedly made for an accom- 
modation. Some of the passages in this letter were 
so touchingly expressed, that it is difficult to believe 
even the cold and politic heart of the English queen 
could have been insensible to them ; but there were 
others so cuttingly ironical, and at the same time so 
true, that we cannot wonder the epistle remained, for a 
considerable time, unanswered. -J- At length, however, 
Elizabeth despatched Mr Beal, one of her confidential 
servants, a strict Puritan, and a man of severe satur- 
nine temper, to confer with the imprisoned queen. It 
may be doubted whether she had any serious intentions 
of listening to Mary : but she was anxious, before sho 

* MS. State-paper Office, Walsingham to Bowes, March 2, 1582-3. Also, 
Fowler to Walsingham, State- paper Office, April, 1583. 
f It will be found with a translation in Whitaker, vol. iv. p. 401. 


received the ambassadors, Stewart and Colvile, to probe 
her feelings, and ascertain how far there existed any 
mutual confidence between her and her son; and BeaFs 
letters to Walsingham present us with an interesting 
picture of this conference. Lord Shrewsbury had been 
associated with him in the negotiation, of which he 
gave this account to the English secretary : " Since 
our last despatch," said he, " this earl and I have once 
repaired unto this lady ; and whilst he went out to 
meet some gentleman of the country at the cockfight, 
it pleased her to spend some part of the afternoon in 
talk with me, of sundry matters of the estate of Scot- 
land. * * In conclusion, she solemnly protested, 
before Nau,* that she and her son would do anything 
they could to deserve her majesty's favour ; and said 
that she was not so irreligious and careless of her 
honour and the force of an oath, as either before God 
or man she should be found to break that which she 
had promised ; and she added, that she was now old, 
and that it was not for her now to seek any ambition 
or great estate, either in the one realm or the other, 
as in her youth she might ; but only desired to live 
the rest of the small time of her life in quietness, in 
some honourable sort : she said she was diseased and 
subject to many sicknesses, albeit, these many winters, 
she never was so well as she was this. She had a great 
heart which had preserved her, and desired now to be 
at rest, by the making of some good accord with her 
majesty, her son, and herself." 

Seal then told Mary that, in his opinion, such an 
agreement or association as had been contemplated 
was not desired in Scotland, either by the young king 
or the nobility. 

* Monsieur Nau, Mary's secretary. 

1583. JAMES VI. 341 

" For the nobility," said she, " all that might hinder 
it are already gone. I have offended none of them 
which are now remaining ; and therefore I doubt not 
but they will like thereof. These are principally to 
be doubted: Lindsay, Gowrie, Lochleven, Mar, and 
Angus. Lindsay is a hasty man, and was never 
thought to be of any great conduct or wit ; and if he 
would do anything to the contrary, the way to win 
him was, to suffer him to have a few glorious words 
in the beginning, and afterwards he would be wrought 
well enough. In the association passed between her 
and her son,"" she said, " all former offences done to 
her were pardoned;" adding, "that whatsoever account 
her majesty now maketh of Gowrie, his letters unto 
the Duke of Guise, sent by one Paul, which brought 
certain horses unto her son into Scotland, can declare 
that he will yield unto anything : she marvelleth how 
her majesty dared trust him ;" and said, " that because 
the Earl Morton did not, in a particular controversy 
that was between him and Lord Oliphant, do what 
he would, he was the cause of his death. * * There- 
fore," she said, "there was no stability or trust in him. 
Lochleven hath (as she said) made his peace already. 
Mar was her god-child, and, in her opinion, like to 
prove a coward and a naughty-natured boy. * * 
Angus had never offended her, and therefore she wished 
him no evil ; but his sirname never had been friends 
to the Stewarts, and she knew the king her son loved 
him not. * * Touching her son," she observed, 
" that he was cunning enough not to declare himself 
openly, in respect of his surety and danger of his life, 
being in his enemies' 1 hands ; and what," said she, 
"will you say if his own letters can be showed to that 
effect 2" * * On another occasion, some days later, 


she confirmed this ; observing, that, although James 
might appear to be satisfied with Gowrie and the rest, 
he only dissembled and waited his time, and must seek 
some foreign support if he did not embrace England, 
as he was too poor a king to stand alone against such 
a nobility ; besides, Monsieur La Motte had told her 
he was well grown, and his marriage could not be 
delayed more than a year or two. " His father was 
married when he was but nineteen years old, and the 
Duke of Lorrain when he was but sixteen. * * As 
to herself, she was sure (she said) of a great party 
amongst the Scottish nobles, and had a hundred of 
their bands to maintain her cause, on the occurring of 
any good opportunity : yet she desired no ambitious 
estate, either in that country or this, but only her 
majesty ''s favour, and liberty.* 

Elizabeth, having thus elicited as much as possible 
from Mary, and even procured from the captive prin- 
cess some offers which might open the way to the 
recovery of her liberty, communicated all that had 
passed to Bowes, her ambassador at the Scottish court; 
and commanded him, in a secret interview with the 
young king, to sound his feelings regarding the restor- 
ation of his mother to liberty, and her association with 
himself in the government. *f- The matter was to be 
managed with the utmost secrecy ; and the English 
queen was so anxious to receive an instant answer, that 
Walsingham recommended Bowes to set a gallows upon 
the packet, as he had done on his own ; a significant 
hint sometimes given in those times to dilatory couriers. J 

* MS. State-paper Office, Papers of Mary queen of Scots, April 1 7, 1583. 
Lord Shrewsbury and Mr Deal to Walsingham. Also, April 2:2, 1583 ; same 
to same. 

f Minute, State-paper Office, April 25, 1583, Walsingham to Bowes. 


1583. JAMES vi. 143 

In all this, Elizabeth had no serious intention of either 
delivering her captive, or permitting her to be associated 
with her son: her wish was to defeat the whole scheme, 
by making the young prince jealous of his mother; and 
in this she appears to have succeeded. It is certain, 
at least, that in his secret interview with the English 
ambassador, James expressed himself with much sus- 
picion and selfishness ; and when Bowes showed him 
the paper containing Mary^s offers to Elizabeth, he 
animadverted upon them with so much severity and 
acuteness, that, had the ambassador himself been the 
critic, we could scarcely have expected a more deter- 
mined disapproval. Thus, in pointing to the eighth 
article, which related to their being jointly associated 
in the government, he doubted, he said, that some 
prejudice might come to him, as well at home as other- 
wise ; since it seemed so worded, that she should not 
only be equal with him in authority and power, but 
also have the chief place before him: a matter danger- 
ous to his State and title to this crown. Besides, he 
observed, sundry obstacles might be found in the person 
of his mother, which might annoy both him and her. 
She was a Papist; she had a council resident in France, 
by whom she was directed; she was so entangled with 
the pope, and others her confederates, that she could 
not deliver herself from suspicion. In honour she 
could not abandon her friends in France ; and as, in 
the person of Queen Mary, (alluding to Elizabeth^ 
predecessor,) he said it was found, and seen to the 
world, that her own mild nature could not suppress 
the great cruelty of her councillors, but that their 
desire prevailed to persecute and torment God's people; 
to overthrow the whole state and government estab- 
lished by King Edward the Sixth. * * So the 


Protestants and others in England, desiring a peaceable 
government and estate, might both doubt to find the 
like effects in the person of his mother, and be affrayed 
to come under the rule of a woman thus qualified. 
These impediments and dangers, he added compla- 
cently, would not be found in his own condition, but 
rather an expectation of good parts, or qualities pro- 
mising better contentment and satisfaction. He then, 
at Bowes 1 request, gave him the whole history of the 
correspondence between himself and the captive queen; 
expressed the deepest gratitude to Elizabeth for this 
confidential communication ; and concluded by assuring 
him, that, as he was convinced Mary preferred herself 
before him in this proposal, till he saw much more 
clearly than he yet could, the bottom of the business, 
and her true meaning, he would go no farther without 
communicating with the English queen, and taking 
the advice of his council ; whose opinion he could not 
now have, on account of the solemn promise of secrecy 
to Elizabeth.* 

It is evident, through the whole of this negotiation, 
that James, if he expressed his real feelings, had a 
single eye to his own interest; and cared little what 
became of his unfortunate mother, provided he secured 
an undivided sceptre in Scotland, and his succession to 
the English crown on Elizabeth^ death. One only 
thing may be suggested in his defence: It is just pos- 
sible that, in all this he dissembled, with the object of 
blinding Elizabeth and Bowes to his purposes for the 
recovery of his liberty and the overthrow of the English 
faction. But of this, the result will enable us more 
truly to judge. 

In the beginning of May, Menainville, having fully 

* MS. State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, Edinburgh, May 1 , 1583. 

1583 JAMES VI. 145 

organized the plot for the overthrow of the Ruthven 
lords, and the return of the Duke of Lennox to power, 
took shipping from Leith for the court of France: and 
so confidently did he express himself to his secret 
friends, that Bowes, who had a spy amongst them, told 
Walsingham he might look for a new world in August.* 
At the same time, the Scottish ambassadors, Colonel 
Stewart and Mr John Colvile, accompanied by Mr 
David Lindsay, one of the ministers of Edinburgh, 
who went at James 1 special request, repaired to Lon- 
don, where they were banqueted by Leicester, and soon 
admitted to an audience by Elizabeth. This princess 
was, as usual, profuse in her professions and advice 
to her young cousin the King of Scots, but exceedingly 
parsimonious of her money. *f* On the subject of his 
marriage, upon which he had solicited her advice, she 
promised to write herself; but referred all other points 
to her council. It was urged by Colvile, in the strong- 
est terms, that the king's person could not be deemed 
in safety, unless the Scottish Guard were increased. 
By this he meant, in plain language, that James could 
not be kept in captivity without a larger body of hired 
soldiers to hold the opposite faction in check. In them, 
to use the words of the ambassadors, " the life of the 
cause consisted."]: And yet Elizabeth could scarcely 
be prevailed on to advance the paltry sum of three 
hundred pounds, which she insisted Bowes must pay 
upon his own credit : and " if," said Walsingham, when 
he sent him her commands in this matter, "her Majesty 
should happen to lay the burden upon you, I will not 

* MS. State-paper Office, April 24, 1583, Bowes to Walsingham. Ibid. 
May 1, 1583, same to same. 

+ MS. State-paper Office, Orig. Minute, Walsingham to Bowes, May 9, 
1583. MS. Calderwood, British Museum, fol. 12GG. Also, MS. State-paper 
Office, Heads of Advice to be given to the King of Scots. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Colvile to Walsingham, May 7, 1583. 



fail to see you myself discharged of the same."* It 
had been one great purpose of Colonel Stewart, in this 
embassy, to ascertain whether most could be gained by 
the proffered friendship of England or France. He 
knew that the first object of his master the young king, 
was to strike the blow which should restore him to 
liberty: but this once secured, there remained the 
ulterior question, whether he should then " run the 
French or the English course." And if the English 
queen had been content to relieve James of the load 
of debt which overpowered him; if she had frankly 
communicated with him on the succession, and given 
him her advice upon his marriage; there was every 
probability that he would have continued at her devo- 
tion. Only two days after the Scottish ambassadors 
had left court on their return, Bowes wrote from Edin- 
burgh to Walsingham, that the Earls of Huntley, 
Athole, Montrose, and other barons, had met at Falk- 
land; that their " purpose to welter -f* the court and 
State" was no secret; and that nothing but a satisfac- 
tory message from their royal mistress could save the 
English faction, and prevent a change of government. J 
Yet all this did not alter the resolution of the English 


queen. It was in vain that the ambassadors remon- 
strated with Walsingham ; that they reminded him of 
the promises made by the queen to the lords who had 
seized the king at Ruthven ; of the exhortations sent 
them, at the beginning of the action, to be constant ; 
of the assurances given to them of assistance both 

* MS. State-paper Ofice, Minute, Walsingham to Bowes, May 9, 1583. 
See Proofs and Illustrations, No. XII. 

+ To welter : to throw the government into a state of movement and dis- 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, May 31, 1583. 

1583. JAMES VI. 147 

in men and money.* Gowrie found himself cheated 
out of the sums he had spent upon the common cause : 
and perceiving the course which things must take, 
determined to make his peace with James on the first 
occasion. Bowes 1 advances to the English faction were 
discouraged; and Walsingham bitterly complained, 
that even the wretched three hundred pounds, which 
he had given from his own pocket, would turn out to 
be a dead loss to the ambassador, if he looked for pay- 
ment to her majesty, and not to himself. " Thus, you 
see," said he, " notwithstanding it importeth us greatly 
to yield all contentment to that nation, [Scotland,] 
how we stick at trifles ! I pray God we perform the 
rest of things promised. "-f- 

At this crisis, intelligence arrived of the death of 
the Duke of Lennox in France. J He had been for 
some time in delicate health; but the Scottish king 
had looked forward with confidence to his recovery, 
and his grief was extreme. His feelings became more 
poignant when he found the deep affection which his 
favourite had expressed towards himself on his death- 
bed: enjoining his eldest son to carry his heart to his 
royal master in Scotland; and dying, apparently, in 
the Reformed faith. On the day of his death he 
addressed a letter to James, informing him that his 

7 O 

recovery was hopeless ; and advising him to trust no 
longer to Angus, Mar, Lindsay, or Gowrie, whom he 
suspected were devoted to the English faction; but 
to give his confidence to those whom he termed his 

* MS. Letter. State-paper Office. Colvile and Stewart to Walsingham. May 
1R, 1581. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Walsingham to Bowes, May 29, 1583. 
J MS. State-paper Office, Fowler to Walsingham, Tuesday, 1583. 


own party. A blank, however, had been left for their 
names, and he expired before it was filled up.* 

This event threw an obstacle in the way of the 
immediate execution of that plot for his liberty, which 
the young king had been so long concerting, and from 
the success of which he had so fondly looked forward 
to the restoration of his favourite.-f- Elizabeth seized 
this interval again to sound the king, and some of the 
leading men in Scotland, regarding 'those recent nego- 
tiations which had been carried on with the captive 
queen for her restoration to liberty, and her intended 
"association," with her son. Both prince and council 
treated the idea with repugnance. James observed to 
Bowes, that, although, as a dutiful son, he was ready 
to exert himself to procure the comfort and liberty of 
his mother, he was neither bound to this scheme of an 
" association," as she had asserted, nor would he ever 
consent to it in the form which she had proposed. The 
councillors were still more violently opposed to Mary 
on both points. The association they said, had been 
proposed in Moray's regency, and absolutely rejected; 
and they were confident it would meet the same fate 
now ; and for her liberty, if, under restraint, she could 
keep up so strong a faction, what would she do when 

This secret consultation between the English am- 
bassador and the king, took place at Falkland on the 
twenty-fourth June; and so completely had James 
blinded Bowes, that he left court and returned to the 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1268, 1269. Also, MS. State-paper Office, Wal- 
Bingbam to Bowes, June 12, 1583. 

T MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingbam to Bowes, June 5, 1583. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, June 29, 1583, 

1583. JAMES VI. 149 

capital, unsuspicious of any change. Next day, John 
Colvile, who, with Colonel Stewart, had just returned 
from England, assured Walsingham " that all things 
were quiet, and that the last work of God, in the 
duke's departure, had increased the friendly disposition 
of the king." * But the letters were still on their way 
to England when all these flattering hopes were over- 
thrown, and the ambassador received the astounding 
intelligence, that the king had thrown himself into the 
castle of St Andrew's ; that the gates of the place were 
kept by Colonel Stewart and his soldiers ; that none 
of the nobility had been suffered to enter, but such as 
were privy to the plot; and that the Earls of Crawford, 
Huntley, Argyle, and Marshal, were already with the 
monarch. On the heels of this news came a horseman 
in fiery speed from Mar to Angus ; and this earl, 
the moment he heard of the movement, despatched 
a courier by night with his ring to Bothwell, urging 
him to gather his Borderers and join him instantly ; 
which he did. But the two barons were met, within 
six miles of St Andrew's, by a herald, who charged 
them, on pain of treason, to disband their forces, and 
come forward singly. They obeyed, rode on, saw James, 
and received his orders to return home and remain at 
their houses till he called for them.-f- 

A few days showed that this sudden, though blood- 
less revolution, was complete. The king was his own 
master, and owed his freedom to the ability with which 
he had organized the plot and blinded his adversaries, j 
Gowrie, Mar, and Angus, the three lords who had led 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, June 25, 1583, Colvile to Walsingham. 

+ MS. Calderwood, fol. 1270. Angus' messenger arrived on the Lord's 
aay at night. MS. Letter, Bowes to Walsingham, June 29, 1583, Bowes' 
Let t-er- Book. 

J MS. Letter, Bowes' Letter- Book, Bowes to Walsingham, July 3, 1583. 


the faction of England, and kept him in durance, were 
in despair; but Gowrie, more politic than his. associ- 
ates, had secured a pardon for himself some time before 
the crisis.* His colleagues in the triumvirate fled; 
and to crown all, Arran, who, there is every reason to 
believe, had been privy to the whole, after a brief in- 
terval returned to court, was embraced by the king, 
and soon resumed all his pride and ascendancy.*!* 

It was now nearly ten mouths since the Raid of 
Ruthven ; and as James had dissembled his feelings 
as long as he remained in the power of the leaders 
of that bold enterprise, the world looked not for any 
great severity against them. But the insult had sunk 
deeper than was believed ; and it was soon evident that 
the king had determined to convince his people that 
the person of the monarch and the laws of the land, 
should neither be invaded nor broken with impunity. 
A proclamation was set forth,^ which characterized 
the enterprise at Ruthven as treason ; and whilst it 
assured his subjects, that all who acknowledged their 
oSence should experience the mercy of their prince, 
avowed his resolution to proceed vigorously against 
the impenitent and refractory. At the same time, he 
published a declaration "of the good and pleasant death 
in the Lord" of his late dear cousin the Duke of Len- 
nox ; informing his subjects that this nobleman had 
departed in the profession of the true Christian faith 
established within his realm in the first year of his 
reign ; and denouncing penalties upon all who pre- 

* MS. State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, July 9, 1583. Calder- 
wood MS. fol. 1-273. 

"t 1 MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, August 5, 1583. 

MS. State-paper Office, copy of the Proclamation, July 30, 1583. Also, 
Spottiswood, p. 3'J6. Also, Bowes to Walsingham, July 31, 1583. 

1583. JAMES VI. 151 

tended ignorance of this fact, or dared to contradict 
it, in speaking or in writing, in prose or rhyme.* 

This public vindication of the memory and faith of 
his favourite, was intended to silence the ministers of 
the Kirk, who had deemed it their duty to cast out 
some injurious speeches against the duke ; one of them 
affirming that, as he thirsted for blood in his lifetime, 
so he died in blood :-f* an allusion to the disease of 
which he was reported to have fallen the victim. This 
harsh attack upon his favourite justly and deeply 
offended the king ; and Lawson, the author of the 
calumny, having been commanded to appear at court, 
he, and a small company of his brother ministers, re- 
paired to Dunfermline, and were conducted into the 
presence chamber. Here, owing to the recent changes, 
they found themselves surrounded with the strange 
faces of a new court. Soon after the king entered, 
and, whilst they rose and made their obeisance, James, 
to their astonishment, took not the slightest notice, but 
passing the throne, which all expected he was to oc- 
cupy, sat down familiarly upon a little coffer, and "eyed 
them all marvellous gravely, and they him, for the space 
of a quarter of an hour ; none speaking a word ; to the 
admiration of all the beholders." j The scene, intended 
to have been tragic and awful, was singularly comic : 
and this was increased when the monarch, without 
uttering a syllable, jumped up from his coffer, and 
" glooming" upon them, walked out of the room. It 
was now difficult to say what should be done. The 
ministers had come with a determination to remonstrate 

* State-paper Office, copy of the Proclamation for Lennox, July 27, 1583. 
Also, MS. Letter, Bowes' Letter-Book, July 31, J583. Bowes to Walsing- 

t MS. Calderwood, fol. 1270. 



with their sovereign against the recent changes ; and 
he, it was evident, enraged at their late conduct, had 
resolved to dismiss them unheard ; but, whilst they 
debated in perplexity, he relented in the cabinet, to 
which he had retired, and called them in. Pont then 
said they had come to warn him against alterations. 
" I see none," quickly rejoined the king ; " but there 
were some this time twelvemonth, (alluding to his 
seizure at Ruthven :) where were your warnings 
then?" "Did we not admonish you at St Johnston?" 
answered Pont. "And, weje it not for our love to your 
Grace," interrupted Mr David Ferguson, " could we 
not easily have found another place to have spoken 
our minds than here?" This allusion to their license 
in the pulpit made the king bite his lip ; and the storm 
was about to break out, when the same speaker threw 
oil upon the waters, by casting in some merry speeches. 
His wit was of a homely and peculiar character. James, 
he said, ought to hear him, if any; for he had demitted 
the crown in his favour. Was he not Ferguson, the 
son of Fergus the first Scottish king? and had he not 
cheerfully resigned his title to his Grace, as he was an 
honest man and had possession? " Well," said James, 
" no other king in Europe would have borne at your 
hands what I have." " God forbid you should be like 
other European kings ! " was the reply ; "what are they 
but murderers of the saints? ye have had another sort 
of upbringing: but beware whom ye choose to be about 
you ; for, helpless as ye were in your cradle, you are 
in deeper danger now." " I am a Catholic king," re- 
plied the monarch, "and may choose my own advisers." 
The word Catholic was more than some of the minis- 
ters could digest, and would have led to an angry 
altercation, had not Ferguson again adroitly allayed 

3583. JAMES VI. 153 

their excited feelings. " Yes, brethren," said he, 
turning to them, " he is a Catholic ; that is, a univer- 
sal king ; and may choose his company as King David 
did, in the hundred and first psalm." This was a 
master-stroke; for the king had very recently translated 
this psalm into English metre, and Ferguson took 
occasion to commend his verses in the highest terms. 
They then again warned him against his present coun- 
cillors ; and one of the ministers, stooping down, had 
the boldness to whisper in his ear, that there was no 
great wisdom in keeping his father's murderers, or their 
posterity, so near his person. Their last words were 
stern and solemn. " Think not lightly, Sir," said they, 
" of our commission ; and look well that your deeds 
agree with your promises, for we must damn sin in 
whoever it be found : nor is that face upon flesh that 
we may spare, in case we find rebellion to our God, 
whose ambassadors we are. Disregard not our 
threatening ; for there was never one yet in this realm, 
in the place where your Grace is,, who prospered after 
the ministers began to threaten him." At this, the 
king was observed to smile, probably ironically, but he 
said nothing; and, as they took their leave, he laid his 
hand familiarly on each. Colonel Stewart then made 
them drink, and they left the court.* I have given 
this interview at some length, as it is strikingly char- 
acteristic both of the prince and the ministers of the 

On receiving intelligence of the revolution in Scot- 
land, Elizabeth wrote, in much alarm, to Bowes,-f and 
resolved to send an ambassador with her advice and 
remonstrance to the king. She hesitated, however, 

* MS. Calderwood, fol. 1272. 

i MS. Letter, State-paper Office, July 10, 1583, Walsingham to Bowes. 


between Lord Hunsdon her cousin, and the now aged 
Walsingham ; and two months were suffered to pass 
before she could be brought to a decision. During this 
interval, all was vigour upon the part of the king and 
Arran, whilst despondency and suspicion paralyzed 
and divided their opponents. Angus, the head of the 
house of Douglas, and one of the most powerful noble- 
men in the country, was banished beyond the Spey ; * 
Mar and Glammis were ordered to leave the country;^ 
the Laird of Lochleven was imprisoned, and commanded 
to deliver his houses to Rothes ; Lord Boyd and Colvile 
of Easter Wemyss retired to France ; whilst, on the 
other hand, the friends of the Queen of Scots, and 
those who had been all along attached to the interests 
of France, saw themselves daily increasing in favour 
and promoted to power. Those officers of the king^s 
household, who were suspected of being favourable to 
England, were removed, to make way for others of the 
opposite party. It was observed that James had given 
a long secret conference to young Graeme of Fintry, a 
devoted Catholic, lately come from France, with letters 
(as Bowes believed) from the Duke of Guise. It was 
even noted, that a present of apples and almonds had 
been sent from Menainville to the kins; : a token con- 


certed to show that all was ripe for the completion of 
the plot which he had devised when last in Scotland. 
In short, although the young king continued to make 
the fairest professions to Bowes, and addressed a letter 
to Elizabeth, in which he expressed the greatest devo- 
tion to her service, and the most anxious desire to 

* Spottiswood, p. 32(>. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, September 19, 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, July 27, 1583. 

MS. Id. Ibid. Also, MS. State-paper Office, July 29, 1583, Sen-ants 
of the King's house discharged. 

]583. JAMES VI. 155 

preserve the amity between the two kingdoms, it was 
evident to this ambassador that all was false and dis- 

Amid these scenes of daily proscriptions and royal 
hypocrisy, the veteran statesman, Sir Francis Wal- 
singham, arrived at the Scottish court.* His instruc- 
tions directed him to require satisfaction from the king 
regarding the late strange actions which had taken 
place, so inconsistent with his friendly professions to 
his royal mistress ; he was to use every eifort to per- 
suade James to reform the accident, which the queen 
was ready to impute rather to evil counsel than to his 
own wishes ; and to assure him that, if he consented 
to alter this new course, he should not fail to taste of 
her goodness. "f* But it required a very brief observa- 
tion to convince Walsingham that his mission was too 
late. He found himself treated with coldness. His 
audience was unnecessarily delayed ; and when at last 
admitted, the young king was in no compliant mood, 
although he received him with much apparent courtesy. J 
To his complaints of the late changes, James replied, 
that he had every wish to maintain friendship with 
her majesty : but this he would now be better able to 
accomplish, with a united than a divided nobility. 
Before this, two or three lords had usurped the govern- 
ment; they had engaged in dangerous courses, and 
had brought their ruin upon themselves. Walsing- 
ham then attempted to point out the mischief that 
must arise from displacing those councillors who were 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Burghley, September 
6, 1583. He came to Edinburgh 1st September. MS. Calderwood, fol. 
1278. See Proofs and Illustrations, No. XIII. 

f MS. State-paper Office, Instructions for Sir F. Walsingham, August 
13, 1583. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Burghley, September 
6, 1583, Edinburgh. 


best affected to Elizabeth; but James sharply, and 
" with a kind of jollity, 11 (so wrote the old statesman 
to his royal mistress,) reminded him that he was an 
absolute king; that he would take such order with his 
subjects as best liked himself;* and that he thought 
his mistress should be no more curious to examine the 
affections of his council than he was of hers. " And 
yet," said Walsingham, " you are but a young prince 
yet, and of no great judgment in matters of govern- 
ment ; and many an elder one would think himself 
fortunate to meet an adviser like my mistress. But 
be assured, she is quite ready to leave you to your 
own guidance : I have not come down to seek an alli- 
ance for England, which can live well enough without 
Scotland, but to charge your majesty with unkind 
dealing to her highness, and to seek redress for past 
errors. "-f- The ambassador then complained of some 
late outrages which had been committed by the Scots 
upon the Borders ; and the king having promised in- 
quiry, and requested to see him next day in private, 
he took his leave. This secret conference, however, 
does not appear to have taken place. The probability 
is, that Arran, who carried himself towards Walsing- 
ham with great pride, had prevented it ; and, having 
bid adieu to the king, the English secretary wrote to 
Burghley in these ominous terms : * * * " You will 
easily find that there is no hope of the recovery of this 
young prince ; who, I doubt, (having many reasons to 
lead me so to judge,) if his power may agree to his 
will, will become a dangerous enemy. * * * There is 
no one thing will serve better to bridle him, than for 

* MS. Letter, Original draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Eliza- 
beth, September II, 1583. 

+ MS. Letter, draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Elizabeth, Sept, 
II, I o83, St Johnston. 




her majesty to use the Hamiltons in such sort as they 
may be at her devotion." * 

This last hint, of the use which might be made of 
Lord John and Lord Claud Hamilton, the sons of the 
late Duke of Chastelherault, who had been long in 
banishment, and now lived in England, was acted upon 
by Bowes ; and brief as had been Walsingham^s stay 
in Scotland, he had found time to sow the seeds of a 
counter-revolution, by which he trusted to overwhelm 
Arran, and place the king^s person once more in the 
power of the friends of Elizabeth. By his advice, 
Bowes bribed some of the leading nobles ; and in less 
than a week after Walsingham's departure, his busy 
agent wrote to him that the good course, begun by him 
in that realm, was prosperous ; that he had met with 
many of the persons appointed, who promised to do 
what was committed to them ; and that already the 
well-affected were in comfort, and their adversaries in 

This new plot Walsingham communicated to Eliza- 
beth in a letter which has unfortunately disappeared, 
but to which he thus alluded in writing to Burghley 
from Durham, on his journey back to the English 
court : " There is an offer made to remove the ill- 
affected from about the king, which I have sent to her 
majesty. They require speedy answer : and that the 
matter may be used with all secrecy, I beseech your 
lordship, therefore, that when her majesty shall make 
you privy thereunto, you will hasten the one and ad- 
vise the other." | * * * Arran"s quick eye, however, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Burghley, September 

11, !>>.;. 

H- MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, September 17, 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsineham to Burghley, September 
22, 1583, Durham. 


had detected these machinations : orders were given to 
double the royal guards, the strictest watch was kept 
at court ; * and although a body of forty horse were 
observed one night to hover round Falkland, and all 
in the palace dreaded an attack, the alarm passed 
away. The " Bye course" (the name given to the pro- 
jected conspiracy) was thus abandoned; and Elizabeth, 
who was dissatisfied with Walsingham's ill success, 
determined to reserve her judgment on the Scottish 
affairs, and recalled Bowes from Scotland.-f- 

This coldness in the English queen completely dis- 
couraged the opponents of the late revolution ; and 
before the end of the year, the king and Arran had 
triumphed over every difficulty. Angus, Mar, and 
Glammis, the Lairds of Lochleven and Cleish, the 
Abbots of Dunfermline and Cambuskenneth, with 
others who had acted in concert with Gowrie, were 
compelled to acknowledge their offences and sue for 
mercy ; whilst a convention was held at Edinburgh, 
in which the good sense and moderation of the king 
were conspicuous, in restoring something of confidence 
and peace even to the troubled elements of the Kirk.J 
Considering the difficulty of this task, it gives us no 
mean idea of James 1 powers at this early age ; when 
we find him succeed ing in taming the fiery and almost 
indomitable spirits of one party of the ministers, and 
reconciling to his present policy the more placable 
division of the Presbyterians. The great subject of 
contention between the court and the Scottish clergy 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, October 22, 

f MS. State-paper Office, Elizabeth to Bowes, September 22, 1 583. Also, 
Ibid., Bowes to Walsingham, October 15, 1583. Also, Ibid., Walsingham 
to Bowes, September 30, 1583, York. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, Nov. 1, 1581 

1583. JAMES VI. 159 

was the outrage committed at Ruthven; a transaction 
which had received the solemn sanction of the Kirk, 
but which the prince, however compelled to disguise 
his sentiments at the time, justly considered rebellion. 
On this point James was firm. He had recently made 
every effort to bring the offenders to a confession of 
their crime ; and had appointed some commissioners, 
chosen from the ministers and the elders of the Kirk, 
to confer with them upon the subject.* But this 
gentle measure not producing all the effects contem- 
plated, a parliament was convened at Edinburgh, and 
an Act unanimously passed, which pronounced " the 
surprise and restraint of the royal person" in August 
last " a crime of high treason, of pernicious example, 
and meriting severe punishments." The former act of 
council, which had approved of it, was abrogated, as 
having been passed by the rebels themselves during the 
restraint of their sovereign ; and the king now declared 
his determination to punish, with the severest penalties, 
all who refused to sue for pardon, whilst he promised 
mercy to all who acknowledged their offence. -f- 

These determined measures were at length success- 
ful ; and the great leaders of the faction, who had 
hitherto remained in sullen and obstinate resistance, 
submitted to the king's mercy. Angus retired beyond 
the Spey; the Earl of Mar, the Master of Glammis, 
with the Abbots of Dryburgh and Cambuskenneth, 
repaired to Ireland ; Lord Boyd, with the Lairds of 
Lochleven and Easter Wemyss, passed into France ; 
and other of their associates were imprisoned, or warded 
within the strictest bounds. Mr John Colvile alone, 
though he had been as deeply implicated as them all, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, Nov. 28, 1583. 
i 1 MS. Act, State-paper Office, December 7, 1583. 


refusing submission, fled to Berwick;* whilst Gowrie, 
who had already obtained pardon, reiterated his vows 
of obedience, and remained at court. { It was impos- 
sible, however, wholly to subdue the Kirk. Mr John 
Durie, one of the ministers, denounced the recent pro- 
ceedings in the pulpit at Edinburgh, and was followed 
in this course by Melvil the Principal of the College of 
St Andrew's. But Durie was compelled, by threats 
of having his head set upon the West Port, one of the 
public gates of the city, to make a qualified retraction ; J 
and Melvil only saved himself from imprisonment by 
a precipitate flight to Berwick. This man, whose 
temper was violent, and who was a strict Puritan in 
religion and a Republican in politics, when called before 
the council, resolutely declined their jurisdiction, 
affirming that he was amenable only to the Presbytery 
for anything delivered in the pulpit ; and when the 
king attempted to convince him of the contrary, he 
arrogantly told him, that " he perverted the laws both 
of God and man/' The removal of so stern an oppo- 
nent was- peculiarly grateful to the court ; and as James 
had assured the commissioners of the Kirk, that he 
was determined to maintain the Reformed religion, and 
to lay before his council the remedies theyrecommended 
for restoring tranquillity to the country, it was anx- 
iously hoped that the distracted and bleeding State 
might be suffered to enjoy some little interval of re- 
pose. || 

During these transactions, the young Duke of Len- 
nox, having left the French court, arrived in Scotland. 

* MS. Letter. State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, Dec. 29, 1583. 

t Ibid. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, Dec. 29, 1583. 

Spottiswood, p. 330. 

U MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, Nov. 1, 1583. 

1583. JAMES VI. 161 

He was accompanied by the Master of Gray ; a person 
destined to act a conspicuous part in future years, and 
whom the king had expressly sent on this mission. 
On coming ashore, at Leith, they were met by Arran 
and Huntley, and carried to Kinneil, where the court 
then lay. James received the son of his old favourite 
with the utmost joy; restored him to his father's 
honours and estates ; and, as he was then only thir- 
teen, committed him to the government of the Earl of 

It was now expected that a period of order and quiet 
would succeed the banishment of the disaffected lords ; 
for although the counsels of Arran were violent, there 
was a wiser and more moderate party in the king's 
confidence, which checked, for a little while, his rash- 
ness and lust of undivided power. To this class belonged 
the celebrated Sir James Melvil, with his brother Sir 
Robert, and some of the more temperate spirits in the 
Kirk. One of these, Mr David Lindsay, accounted 
amongst the best of the brethren, addressed a letter, 
at this time, to Bowes the late ambassador, in which 
he spoke in high terms of the young king. He advised 
Bowes to write to James ; informed him that advice 
from him was sure to be well received ; and added, that 
his royal master had recently, in private, assured him, 
that Secretary Walsingham was the wisest man he 
had ever spoken with ; that the more he had pondered 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, November 16, 
1583. Ibid., same to same, Nov. 20, 1583. Spottiswood, p. 328. The 
affection of this prince for the family of his old favourite is a pleasing trait 
in his character. Nothing could make him forget them. Some time after 
this, two of his daughters were brought over from France ; of whom he 
married one to the Earl of Huntley, the other to the Earl of Mar. A third 
was destined to an equally honourable match, but she had vowed herself to 
God, and could not be won from the cloister; and in later years, after his 
accession to the English crown, James received, with undiminished interest, 
the youngest son of the house, and advanced him to great honour. 



on the counsels he had given him, in their late meeting, 
the better and more profitable they appeared. " I 
perceive," said he to Bowes, " his majesty begins to 
take better tent [heed] to his own estate and weal nor 
[than] he has done heretofore; and espies the nature of 
such as rather regards their own particular, nor the quiet- 
ness of this country and his majesty"^ welfare ; which 
compels him to see some better order taken, and that by 
the advice of the most upright and discreet men that 
he can find in this country : for he showed me himself, 
that he got councillors enough to counsel him to wound 
and hurt his commonwealth ; but finds very few good 
chirurgeons to help and heal the same, and therefore 
must play that part himself." * 

Little did this excellent member of the Kirk dream, 
that at the moment he was breathing out his own secret 
wishes, and those of his sovereign, for peace, into the 
bosoms of Bowes and Walsingham, and entreating their 
cooperation as peacemakers, these very men were busy 
getting up a new rebellion in Scotland, to which their 
royalmistress gaveherfull approval : but nothing can be 
more certain. The chief conspirators were the banished 
noblemen, Angus, Mar, the Master of Glammis, the 
Earl of Bothwell, Lord Lindsay, and their associates. 
Of these, Mar and Glammis passed over secretly from 
their retreat in Ireland ; Angus left his refuge in the 
north ; the two sons of the Duke of Chastelherault, 
Lord Claud and Lord John Hamilton, were sent down 
by Elizabeth from England to the Borders ; whilst 
Gowrie, who, to cover his purposes of treason had 
sought and obtained the king's license to visit the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr David Lindsay to Mr Bowes, Leith, 
November 2, 1583. See an account of Mr David Lindsay, in Lord Lind- 
say's "Lives of the Lindsays," vol. i. p. 215-217; a most interesting and 
agreeable work, privately printed by that nobleman. 

1583-4. JAMES vi. 163 

continent, lingered in Scotland to arrange the plan of 
the insurrection.* In England, the great agent, in 
communicating with Walsingham and Bowes, was 
that same Mr John Colvile with whom we are already 
acquainted ; and his letters, as well as those which yet 
remain of Bowes and Walsingham, admit us into the 
secrets of the conspiracy, and distinctly show the ap- 
proval of the English queen and her ministers. Gowrie, 
as it appears, had hesitated for some time between 
submitting to the king and embarking in the plot : but 
Bowes wrote to Walsingham, (on the fourth March, 
1583-4,) that he had abandoned all thoughts of con- 
cession, and stood faithful to his friends. He added, 
that the ground and manner of the purpose was known 
to very few, as it was thought requisite to keep it 
secret till the time of the execution approached. Some 
delay, however, took place, regarding the course to be 
pursued with a certain bishop, who was considered too 
powerful an antagonist to be continued in power; and 
Colvile, who managed the plot in London, had a secret 
meeting with Walsingham on this delicate point; after 
which, he wrote to him in these words : " Concerning 
the bishop, the more I think of the matter, the more 
necessity I think it, that he, and all other strangers 
of his opinion, were removed; for it is a common pro- 
verb, Hostes si intus sint, frustra dauduntur fores; 
neque anteguam expellantur tute cubandum est.^ But 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, Jan. 20, 1583-4. 
Explained, as to the meaning of the ciphers, by the letter of Bowes to Wal- 
singham, State-paper Office, December '29, 1583. Also, MS. Letter. State- 
paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, January 24, 1583-4. Also, MS. Letter, 
State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, February 13, 1583-4. Also, 
State-paper Office, B.C., Forster to Walsingham, March 28, 1584. Also, 
MS. Calderwood, British Museum, 4736, fol. 1315. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Colvile to Bowes, March 23, 1583-4. 
This must, I think, have been either Bishop Adamson, or Montgomery 
bishop of Glasgow. 


although Bowes, Walsingham, and Colvile, were no 
mean adepts in planning an insurrection, they had to 
compete with an antagonist in Arran, who detected 
and defeated all their machinations. His eyes were 
in every quarter : not a movement taken by Gowrie, 
or Mar, or Glammis, escaped him. He was aware that 
a Band had been drawn up, and signed by many of 
his enemies in Scotland, by which they solemnly en- 
gaged to assassinate him, and compel the king to admit 
them to his councils. * He had received information 
that, in the end of March, a general assembly of the 
nobles, who trusted to overturn the government, would 
be held at St Johnston. But he awaited their opera- 
tions with indifference ; for he knew that the Earls of 
Glencairn and Athole, upon whom Gowrie, Angus, and 
Mar, principally depended, were traitors to their own 
friends, and had already revealed everything to him. 
When the meeting accordingly did take place, and the 
insurgent noblemen called upon all who were solicitous 
for the advancement of the Word of God, and the 
setting forth of his glory, to join their banner, their 
appeal found no response in the hearts of the people ; 
and the assembly fell to pieces without striking a 

This premature movement, and its ill success, inti- 
midated the conspirators, and gave new courage to 
Arran and the king, who sent a secret messenger to 
Elizabeth, offering the most favourable terms of ac- 
commodation, and assuring her, that in supporting 

* Historic of James the Sext, p. 203. Also, MS. Calderwood, British 
Museum, 4736, Ayscough, fol. 1316'. 

f- MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. viii. fol. 5, Bowes to "Wal- 
singham, April 10, 1584, Berwick. Also, Ibid., same to same, fol. 3, April 
5, 1584, Berwick. MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Forster to Wal- 
singham, April 2, 1584. 

1584. JAMES VI. 565 

Gowrie and his friends, she was the dupe of some 
dangerous and unquiet spirits, whose purposes varied 
every month, and who were not even true to each 
other.* The queen hesitated. Colvile had recently- 
received from his brother the Laird of Cleish, one of 
the conspirators, certain articles of agreement be- 
tween them and the English queen, which they ex- 
pected to be signed. These he was to correct and 
present to Elizabeth. But this princess was in a 
dilemma. If she signed the articles, she bound her- 
self to the faction ; and should they be discomfited, 
she furnished evidence of her encouraging rebellion 
in subjects ; an accusation which Arran and his 
friends would not be slow to use. On the other 
hand, Colvile maintained that the late failure at St 
Johnston was to be ascribed to the folly and impa- 
tience of some of their friends ; and that now all was 
ready for the outbreak and success of the great plot. 
Gowrie was at Dundee, waiting only for the signal 
from his fellow-conspirators. Angus, Mar, and Glain- 
mis, were ready to rise and march upon Stirling. If 
they succeeded, the power, probably the life of Arran, 
was at an end ; a new order of things must be estab- 
lished in Scotland ; and the men whom she had just 
deserted, would be in possession once more of the person 
of the young king, and rule all. At this crisis, this 
busy partisan, Colvile, exerted himself to the utmost. 
He found that the English queen, whilst she verbally 
gave her warm approval to the insurgents, " expressing 
her gracious and motherly care of the well-doing of 
the noblemen,'" steadily refused either to sign their 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Colvile to his brother the Laird of 
Cleish, April 16, 1584. Endorsed hy Cecil, Mr Colvile ; and by Colvile 
himself, Copy of my last letter sent to Scotland. 


articles, or to receive any messenger from them, till 
they were openly in arms. He implored them to be 
contented with these general assurances ; and declared, 
that immediate action, without sending any further 
advertisements to England, could alone secure success. 
The examples by which he confirmed this argument 
were the murder of Riccio, the seizure of Queen Mary 
at Faside, and the recent " Raid of Ruthven." 

" If," said he, " advertisements had been sent to 
England before the execution of Davie, the taking of 
the Queen at Faside, and of Arran at Ruthven, I think 
none of these good actions had ever been effectuate. 
But you know, that after all these enterprises were 
execute, her majesty ever comforted the enterprisers 
thereof in all lawful manner, albeit, she was not made 
privy to their intentions. Chiefly after the late attempt 
at Ruthven, it is fresh remembrance how timeously 
Sir George Carey and Mr Robert Bowes, her majesty's 
ambassadors, arrived to countenance the said cause. 
But now, when men does nothing but sit down to 
advise when it is high time to draw sword and defend, 
and will lie still in the mire unstirring, and expecting 
till some friend, passing by, shall pull them out, it 
appears well that they either diffide in the equity of 
their cause, or else are bewitched, and so useless, and 
that they can feel nothing till they be led to the 
shambles, as was the poor Earl of Morton.* If (he 
proceeded) matters were resolutely ordered, what more 
consultation is needed, (seeing religion, the king's 
honour, and all good men is in extreme danger;) but 
first courageously, such as are agreed, to join together 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, April 16, 1584, Mr Colvile to his 
brother. Colvile's ignorance of the secret history of Riccio's murder is 
striking. See vol. vii. of this History, p. 18-28. 

1584. JAMES VI. 167 

in secret manner for the king's deliverance, as was 
done at Ruthven ; or if this cannot be, then to convene 
at some convenient place openly, publish proclamation 
to the people for declaration of their lawful and just 
cause, and so pursue the present adversaries till either 
they were apprehended or else reduced to some extrem- 


When Colvile spoke of the poor Earl of Morton 
being led to the shambles, he little thought how soon 
his words were to prove prophetic in the miserable 
fate of Gowrie : but so it happened. Arran, who was 
informed of every particular, had quietly suffered the 
plot to proceed to the very instant of its execution. 
Having secretly instructed his own friends to be ready 
with their forces at an instant's warning, he did not 
move a step till his adversaries were in the field ; and, 
by an overt act, had fixed upon themselves the crime 
of rebellion. The moment this was ascertained, and 
when he knew that Gowrie only waited at Dundee for 
a signal to join his friends, who were advancing upon 
Stirling, he despatched Colonel Stewart to arrest him; 
who, with a hundred troopers, coming suddenly to that 
town before sunrise, surrounded his castle. It was 
difficult, however, in these times of feudal misrule and 
hourly danger, to find a Scottish baron unprepared ; 
and the earl bravely held his house against all assailants 
for twelve hours. But he was at last overpowered, 
seized, and carried a prisoner to Edinburgh.-f- At the 
same moment that these scenes were acting at Dundee, 
word had been brought to the court, that the Earls of 
Mar and Angus, with the Master of Glammis, and 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, April 16, 1584, Mr Colvile to his brother, 
t MS. Letter, Caligula, C. viii. fol. 9, Bowes to Walsingham, April 19, 
1584, Berwick. 


five hundred horse had entered Stirling, and possessed 
themselves of the castle ; and when Stewart entered 
Edinburgh with his captive, he found it bristling with 
arms and warlike preparations ; the drums beating, 
and the young king, in a high state of excitement, 
assembling his forces, hurrying forward his levies, and 
declaring that he would instantly proceed in person 
against them.* So soon were the musters completed, 
that within two days an army of twelve thousand 
men were in the field ; and James, surrounded by his 
nobles, led them on to Stirling. These mighty exer- 
tions, however, were superfluous. The insurgent lords 
did not dare to keep together in the face of such a 
force ; and leaving a small garrison in the castle of 
Stirling, fled precipitately through east Teviotdale 
into England, and solicited the protection of Eliza- 
beth. -J- As they passed Kelso in the night, Bothwell, 
their old friend, met them, and held a secret conference ; 
but as such a meeting with traitors might have cost 
him his head, they agreed that at daybreak he should 
chase them across the Border; which he did, acting his 
part, in this counterfeit pursuit, with much apparent 
heat and fury.J James then took possession of Stir- 
ling ; the castle surrendered on the first summons ; 
four of the garrison, including the captain, were hanged ; 
Archibald Douglas, called the constable, was also exe- 
cuted ; and it was soon seen that the utmost rigour was 
intended against all connected with the conspiracy. 
As its authors were the chief leaders of the Protes- 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. viii. fol. 13, Bowes to Wal- 
gingham, April 23, 1584, Berwick. Ibid. fol. 13*, Bowes to Walsingham, 
April 26, 1584, Berwick. 

t MS. Cahlerwood, Ayscough, 4736, fol. 1321. 

J Id. Ibid. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Walsingham, May 7 1584. 

1584. JAMES vi. 16.9 

tant faction, and its objects professed to be the preser- 
vation of religion, and the maintenance of the true 
Word of God, it was suspected that the ministers of 
the Kirk were either directly or indirectly implicated. 
Of these, three, Mr Andrew Hay, Mr James Lawson, 
and Mr Walter Balcanquel, were summoned to court; 
and two in particular, Galloway minister of Perth, 
and Carmichael minister of Haddington, were searched 
for at their houses by the king^s guard, but could not 
be found. They afterwards, with Polwart subdean 
of Glasgow, John Davison minister of Libberton, and 
the noted Andrew Melvil, fled to England.* 

In the mean time, it was determined to bring Gowrie 
to trial. Of his guilt, there was not the slightest 
doubt. He had been a chief contriver of the plot, and 
the most active agent in its organization : but there 
was some want of direct evidence ; and a base device, 
though common in the criminal proceedings of these 
times, was adopted to supply it. The Earl of Arran, 
attended by Sir Robert Melvil, and some others of 
the privy-councillors, whose names do not appear, 
visited him in prison ; and professing great concern 
for his safety, informed him that the king was deeply 
incensed against him, believing that he had the chief 
hand in expelling his favourite, the Duke of Lennox. 
Gowrie declared, that his part in the disgrace of the 
duke was not deeper than that of his associates ; but 
anxiously besought them, as old friends, to sue to the 
king for a favourable sentence. They replied, that to 
become intercessors for him in the present state of 
James 1 feelings, would only ruin themselves, and not 
serve him. " What, then," said he, " is to be done?'' 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Moyse's Memoirs, p. 50. Hist. James 
the Sext, p. 103. 


" Our advice," said they, " is, that you write a general 
letter to the king, confessing your knowledge of a 
dasign against his majesty's person ; and offering to 
reveal the particulars, if admitted to an audience. 
This will procure you an interview, which otherwise 
you have no chance of obtaining. You may then 
vindicate your innocence, and explain the whole to the 
king." "It is a perilous expedient," answered Gowrie. 
" I never entertained a thought against the king; but 
this is to frame my own dittay,* and may involve me 
in utter ruin." " How so ?" said his crafty friends : 
" your life is safe if you follow our counsel ; your death 
is determined on if you make no confession." " Goes 
it so hard with me ?" was Gowrie's reply. " If there 
be no remedy, in case I had an assured promise of my 
life, I would not stick to try the device of the letter." 
"I will willingly pledge my honour," said Arran, "that 
your life shall be in no danger, and that no advantage 
shall be taken of your pretended confession."^ Thus 
entrapped, the unfortunate man wrote the letter as he 
was instructed ; it was sent to the king, but he waited 
in vain for a reply ; and on the trial, when the jury 
complained of defective evidence, and declared that 
they could find nothing to justify a capital condemna- 
tion, Arran, who, contrary to all justice and decency, 
was one of their number, drew the fatal letter from his 
pocket, and appealed to the accused whether he could 
deny his own handwriting. " It is mine assuredly," 
said Gowrie, " nor can I deny it ; but, my lords, this 
letter was written, these revelations were made, on a 
solemn promise of my life. You must remember it 

* Dittay, accusation. 

+ MS. State-paper Office, Form of certain devices used by Arran and 
Sir R. Melvil against Gowrie, enclosed by Davison in a letter to Walsing- 
ham, dated May 27, 1 :84, Berwick. 

1584. JAMES VI. 171 

all," said he, looking at Arran, and turning to the lords 
who had accompanied him to the prison, " how at first 
I refused ; how earnestly I asserted my innocence ; 
how you sware to me, upon your honour and faith, that 
the king granted me my life, if I made this confession." 
The Lord Advocate replied, that the lords had no 
power to make such a promise ; and when the prisoner, 
with the energy of a man struggling between life and 
death, appealed to their oaths, these pretended friends 
declared that by them no such promise had been made.* 
The jury then retired to consider their verdict ; and 
as Arran rose to leave the room, Gowrie made a last 
effort to remind him of old times and early friendship ; 
but his speech fell on a cold ear: and the prisoner, 
apparently indifferent, calling for a cup of wine, drank, 
and shook hands with some of his friends around him. 
He sent, also, by one of them, a pathetic message to 
his wife ; begging him to conceal his fate from her, 
as she was just delivered of her child, and the news, 
if heard suddenly, might be fatal to her. At this 
moment the jury returned and declared him guilty, 
a sentence which he received with much firmness : then 
instantly rising to speak, the judge interrupted him, 
telling him that his time was short, as the king had 
already sent down the warrant for his execution. 
" Well, my lord," said he, " since it is the king's con- 
tentment that I lose my life, I am as willing to part 
with it as I was before to spend it in his service ; and 
the noblemen, who have been upon my jury, will know 
the matter better hereafter. And yet, in condemning 
me, they have hazarded their own souls, for I had their 
promise. God grant my blood be not on the king's 

* MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. viii. fol. 24, Form of examination, 
and death of William earl of Gowrie, May 3, 1584. 


head ! And now, my lords," continued the unfortunate 
man, " let me say a word for my poor sons. Let not 
my estates be forfeited. The matters are small for 
which I suffer. Failing my eldest hoy, then, let my 
second succeed him." It was answered, he was found 
guilty of treason, and, by law, forfeiture must follow. 
The last scene of the tragedy was brief. He was 
allowed to retire for a few moments, with a minister, 
to his private devotions. He then walked out upon 
the scaffold, asserted his innocence of all designs against 
the king^s person to the people who were assembled ; 
repeated the account of the base artifice to which he 
had fallen a victim ; and turning to Sir Robert Melvil, 
who stood beside him, begged him to satisfy the heads- 
man for his clothes, as he had left the dress in which 
he died to his page. The Justice-clerk then assisted 
him to undo his doublet, and bare his neck ; Gowrie 
himself tied the handkerchief over his eyes, and kneel- 
ing down, " smilingly," as it was remarked by an 
eye-witness, rested his head upon the block. It was 
severed from the body by a single blow ; and his three 
friends, Sir R. Melvil, the Justice- clerk, and Stewart 
of Traquair, wrapping the remains in the scarlet cloth 
which he had himself directed to be the covering of 
the scaffold, had them buried, after the head had been 
sewed on to the body.* 

* MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. viii. fol. 29. Account written by a 
person present at the trial. It is difficult to reconcile the conduct of Sir 
Robert Melvil to Gowrie, as described by Davison, with this sentence in the 
above account : " He was buried by his three friends, Sir Robert Melvil, the 
Justice-clerk, and Sir Robert Stewart of Traquair ;" and we find, from the 
same source, that, on the scaffold, Gowrie turned to Melvil, with a last 
request, as if intrusting it to his dearest friend. All this makes me suspect 
that Melvil only accompanied Arran, and did not assist him in entrapping 
Gowrie. Yet, anxious as I was to think the best, the assertion, contained 
in the original paper sent by Davison to Walsingham, was too clear and 
direct to permit me to omit it. 

1584. JAMES VI. 173 

Gowrie died firmly, and it is to be hoped, sincerely 
penitent ; but even in this dark age of unscrupulous 
crime and aristocratic ambition few men had more 
need of repentance. His early age was stained with 
the blood of the unfortunate Riccio ; he and his father 
being two of the principal assassins. In his maturer 
years, he accompanied Lindsay in that harsh and 
brutal interview with Mary, when they compelled her, 
in her prison at Lochleven, to sign the abdication of 
the government. Since that time, his life had been 
one continued career of public faction ; his character 
was stained by a keen appetite for private revenge ; * 
and, although all must reprobate the base contrivances 
resorted to, to procure evidence against him on his trial, 
it is certain that, in common with Mar, Angus, and 
Glammis, he had engaged in a conspiracy to overturn 
the government.-}- It is singular to find, that a man 
thus marked so deeply with the features of a cruel 
age, should have combined with these considerable 
cultivation and refinement. He was a scholar, fond 
of the fine arts, a patron of music and architecture, 
and affected magnificence in his personal habits and 
mode of living. Common report accused him of being 
addicted to the occult sciences ; and, on his trial, one 
of the articles against him was his having consulted a 
witch : but this he treated with deep and apparently 
sincere ridicule. 

* " Quant an Compte de Gourie il resemble toujours aluy mesine, collere 
ct vindicatif et sur lequel peult plus la souvenance d'une injure passee, quo 
toute aultre prevpiance de 1'avenir." Menainville to Mauvissiere, March 
28, 1583. State-paper Office. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Colvile to Walsingham, May 12, 1584. 






Henry III. 

Rudolph II. 

Philip II. 

Philip II. 


Gregory XIII. 
Sixtus V. 

THE death of Gowrie, and the flight of his fellow-con- 
spirators, left Arran in possession of the supreme power 
in Scotland, and filled Elizabeth and her ministers with 
extreme alarm. They knew his unbounded ambition ; 
they were aware of the influence which he possessed 
over the character of the young king : his former 
career had convinced them that his talents were quite 
equal to his opportunities. He combined military 
experience, and the promptitude and decision which 
a soldier of fortune so often acquires, with a genius 
for State affairs, and a ready eloquence, in which all 
could see the traces of a learned education. To this 
was added a noble presence and figure, with command- 
ing manners, which awed or conciliated as he pleased 
those whom he employed as the tools of his greatness. 
Elizabeth suspected, also, and on good grounds, that 
although he professed a great regard for the reformed 
religion declaring his fears lest the faction of the 
queen-mother should regain its influence in Scotland, 

1584. JAMES VI. 175 

and seduce the mind of the young monarch from the 
truth still these asseverations were rather politic than 
sincere. For their truth, she and her councillors had 
no guarantee : and looking to the profligacy of his 
private life, his bitter opposition to the Presbyterian 
clergy, and his constant craving after forfeitures and 
power, they conjectured that his alleged devotion to 
England, and desire to continue the amity, was rather 
a contrivance to gain time till he looked about him, 
than any more permanent principle of action. 

All this was embarrassing to the English queen and 
her ministers : and there were other difficulties in the 
way of their recovery of influence in Scotland, to which 
it was impossible to shut their eyes. They had trusted 
that the late conspiracy, if successful, would restore 
Lord Arbroath and Lord Claud Hamilton to their 
ancient authority and estates ; and that their union 
with the Earl of Angus, who wielded the immense 
power of the house of Douglas, would enable them to 
crush Arran, and destroy the French faction in Scot- 
land. But Arran was now triumphant ; and his en- 
mity to the houses of Douglas and Hamilton was deep 
and deadly. Their restoration, he well knew, must 
have been his utter ruin. He had brought the Regent 
Morton to the scaffold ; he had possessed himself of 
the title and estates of the unfortunate Earl of Arran ; 
and as long as he continued in power, Elizabeth fore- 
saw that the exiles would never be permitted to return. 
She had difficulties, also, with the faction of the Kirk. 
They had hitherto been encouraged by England ; and 
had been employed, by Burghley and Walsingham, 
as powerful opponents of the French faction and the 
intrigues of the queen-mother. But Elizabeth had 
herself no sympathies for the Presbyterian form of 


Church government : she had often blamed the fac- 
tious and Republican principles disseminated by its 
ministers ; and now, when the party of the Kirk were 
no longer dominant, she felt disposed to regard them 
with coldness and distrust.* On the other hand, the 
young king had avowed his determined enmity to 
Rome ; whilst his opposition was simply to Pres- 
bytery as contrasted with Episcopacy. He had form- 
ed a resolution to maintain, at all risks, against the 
attacks of its enemies, the Episcopal form of govern- 
ment which had been established in Scotland. He was 
assisted in this great design by Arran, a man not 
easily shaken in his purposes ; and by Adamson arch- 
bishop of St Andrew's, whose abilities were of a high 
order, both as a divine and a scholar : and now that 
Gowrie was gone, and the other great leaders of the 
Kirk in exile, there was every probability that James 
would succeed in his object. It became, therefore, a 
question with Elizabeth, whether she might not gain 
more by encouraging the advances of Arran, than she 
would lose by withdrawing her support from the exiled 

Such being her feelings, she resolved to be in no 
hurry to commit herself till she had sent a minister to 
Scotland, who should carefully examine the exact state 
of parties in that country. When the conspiracy broke 
out, Mr Davison had been on his road thither ; but 
he was arrested on his journey, at Berwick, by letters 
from Walsingham :{ and when the French ambassador, 
who was resident at the English court, requested the 
queen's permission to repair to Scotland and act as a 
mediator between the factions, Elizabeth readily con- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Davison, June 17, 1584. 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, April 2y, 1584, Walsingham to Davison. 

1584. JAMES VI. 177 

sented.* She was the more inclined to choose this 
moderate course, as the King of France had recently 
offered to engage in a strict league with England. He 
had declared his earnest desire to see the three crowns 
united in perfect amity, and his wishes that the afflicted 
State of Scotland should be restored to quiet : whilst 
he had instructed his ambassador to visit the captive 
Queen of Scots ; to exert himself to the utmost to 
mitigate the rigour of her confinement, and, if possible, 
to procure her restoration to liberty. } 

In the mean time, Arran and the king, although they 
professed a firm resolution to maintain pacific relations 
with England, adopted energetic measures to secure 
their triumph and complete the ruin of their enemies. 
A parliament was held at Edinburgh,^ in which Angus, 
Mar, Glammis, and their numerous adherents, were 
declared guilty of treason, and their estates forfeited 
to the crown ; whilst some laws were passed, which 
carried dismay into the hearts of the Presbyterian 
clergy, and amounted, as Davison declared to Walsing- 
ham, to the supplanting and overthrow of the govern- 
ment of the Kirk. The authority of the king was 
declared supreme in all causes, and over all persons. 
It was made treason to decline his judgment, and that 
of his council, in any matter whatsoever ; the jurisdic- 
tion of any court, spiritual or temporal, which was not 
sanctioned by his highness and the three Estates, was 
discharged ; and no persons, of whatever function or 
quality, were to presume, under severe penalties, to 
utter any slanderous speeches against the majesty of the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Davison, May 4, 1584. 
Ibid, same to same, May 10, 1584. 

t MS. State-paper Office, draft, Points in the French Ambassador's 
Letter, May 13, 1584. 

$ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, May 23, 1584. 



throne, or the wisdom of the council; or to criticise, in 
sermons, declamations, or private conferences, their 
conduct and proceedings.* All ecclesiastical assem- 
blies, general or provincial, were prohibited from 
convening; and the whole spiritual jurisdiction was 
declared to be resident in the bishops : the sentence 
of excommunication pronounced against Montgomery 
was abrogated; and a commission granted to the Arch- 
bishop of St Andrew's, for the reformation of the 
University of St Andrew"^ : a seminary of education, 
which was suspected to be in great need of purification 
from the heterodox and Republican doctrines of its 
exiled principal, Melvil.-f- To these laws it was added, 
that all persons who had in their possession the His- 
tory of Scotland, and the work, De Jure Regni, 
written by Buchanan, should bring them to the 
Secretary of State, to be revised and reformed by him.J 
It had been suspected by the Kirk that such measures 
were in preparation ; and Mr David Lindsay, one of 
the most temperate of the ministers, had been selected 
to carry to the king a protest against them ; but before 
this took place, he was seized in his own house, and 
carried out of bed, a prisoner, to the castle of Black- 
ness^ It was alleged that he had been engaged in 
secret practices with England ; and this created a 
presumption that he had been cognizant of the recent 
conspiracy of Gowrie. Such severity, however, did 
not intimidate his brethren ; and when the recent acts 
against the Kirk were proclaimed at the Cross, on the 
Sunday after the rise of the parliament, Robert Pont 

* Spottiswood, fol. 333. MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to 
Walsingham, May 23, J584. 

t MS Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, May 27, 1584. 
J Ibid. 
{j MS. Letter, State- paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, May 23, 1584- 

1584. JAMES VI. 379 

and Balcanquel, two of the ministers of tie capital, 
openly protested against them. Having satisfied their 
conscience, and warned their flock against obedience, 


they deemed it proper to provide for their own safety ; 
and fled in the night, followed hard by some of the 
king's guard, who had orders to arrest them. They 
escaped, however, and entered Berwick by daybreak.* 
Elizabeth now ordered Davison to proceed to 
Scotland, and the young king despatched the cele- 
brated Sir James Melvil, who was then much in his 
confidence, to meet him on the Borders. Melvil's 
commission was to sound the ambassador's mind before 
he received audience : and after their meeting he des- 
patched a letter to his brother, Sir Robert Melvil, in 
which he gave a minute and graphic account of their 
conversation, as they rode together towards the court. 
Davison he described as all smiles and gentleness, full 
of thanks for the noble train which had met him on 
the Marches, and earnest in his hopes that he might 
prove a more happy instrument of amity than his 
diplomatic predecessors, Randolph and Bowes. Sir 
James 1 reply was politely worded, but significant and 
severe. He had little doubt, he said, that the inten- 
tions of the Queen of England were sincere; her offers 
assuredly were fair, and the rebellion of subjects against 
their prince could not but be hateful to her; and yet the 
proceedings of her councillors and ministers appeared 
far otherwise to clear-sighted men. As for the king 
his master, he was now a man both in wit and person- 
age, and acute enough to look more to deeds than 
words. It is the custom (continued Melvil) of some 
countries to hold their neighbours in civil discord, and 
send ambassadors to and fro to kindle the fire under 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsirgham, May 27, 1584. 


colour of concord. No words could more plainly point 
out the recent proceedings of Elizabeth; but Sir James 
was too much of a courtier not to avoid the direct 
application. He utterly disclaimed having that opinion 
of her majesty, or of the ambassador himself, that 
many had of some counsellors and ambassadors ; but 
he assured him, unless her majesty proceeded otherwise 
with the king than she had done yet, matters were 
able* [likely] to fall out to her unmendable miscon- 
tentment. I would not speak of auld^f* done deeds, 
said he, pursuing the attack ; but now lately, when 
Mr Walsingham was sent, his majesty was in good 
hope of a strait amity to be packed in respect of his 
own earnest inclination and the quality of him that 
was sent, and could find nothing but an appearance 
of changement of mind in him, either upon some new 
occasion, or by the persuasion of some other party ; 
and, nevertheless, his majesty dealt favourably and 
familiarly with him, and showed favour unto sundry, 
that were suspected, at his request, and kept straitly 
some speeches that were between them ; albeit, after- 
wards Master Bowes alleged the contrary, in such sort 
that sundry thought it were done to pick a quarrel. 
And, whereas, (continued Melvil, alluding to the late 
conspiracy of Gowrie,) his majesty was mercifully 
inclined to all his subjects, both they with some of 
England and some of England with them had practised, 
whereof her majesty had some forewarning, yet, they 
drew to plain rebellion by them that came het-fut^ out 
of England and Ireland, and were now returned and 
treated there again ; and, then, you will say the queen 

* " Able " is the vrord in the original. There is some error, however ; 
the sense requires " likely." 

f Auld ; old. J Het-fut ; hot-foot. 

1584. JAMES VI. 181 

loves his majesty the queen seeks his majesty's pre- 
servation ! What is this but mockery ?* This was 
a home-thrust, which Davison, who knew its truth, 
could not easily parry ; nor was he more comfortable 
when Sir James alluded to the conduct of the Kirk, and 
the state of religion. Lord Burghley himself, said 
Melvil, when in Scotland at the time of the siege of 
Leith, had been scandalized at the proceedings of the 
ministers, and gave plain counsel to put order to them, 
or else they would subvert the whole estate ; and yet 
now, said he, they are again crying out against the 
king's highness, whose life and conversation is better 
reformed and more godly than their own. He then 
detailed to him more particularly, as they rode along, 
the " slanderous practices of some of these busy fac- 
tioners ; " and ended with this advice: Mr Ambassador, 
if the queen require friendship, she must like the 
king's friends ; she must hate his enemies ; and either 
deliver them into his hands, or chase them forth of her 
country, as she did at his majesty's mother's desire 
after the slaughter of Davy. Your mistress need not 
dread the king : he is young, far more bent on honest 
pastime than on great handling of countries ; and, 
unless compelled by such doings as have been carried 
on lately, he will keep this mind for many years yet. 
He is young enough (this was a glance at the succes- 
sion to Elizabeth) to abide upon anything God has 
provided for him.-f* 

The two friends, by this time, had reached Melvil's 
country seat, from which they rode to the court at 
Falkland ; and Davison was admitted to his audience. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir James Melvil to my Lord of Pitten- 
weem, or Sir Robert Melvil of Karny. 
t Id. Ibid. 


He found the young Duke of Lennox, and the Earls 
of Arran, Huntley, Montrose, and other nobles, around 
the king, who received his letters with courtesy; but 
expressed himself in passionate terms against the re- 
bellious nobles, whom, he said, he expected Elizabeth 
to deliver into his hands. To this, Davison replied, 
that no one could be more tender of his estate and 
preservation than his mistress. As to the noblemen 
whom he termed rebels, she was as yet utterly ignorant 
of the true circumstances of the late alteration, (by 
this mild term she alluded to Gowrie's treason;) but 
she had always regarded these nobles as men who had 
hazarded their lives in his service; nor could she now 
deliver them without blemish to her honour. Did his 
majesty forget, that he had himself blamed Morton 
for the delivery of Northumberland in his minority ; 
and had recently refused to give up Holt the Jesuit, 
who had been concealed in Scotland, and was a no- 
torious intriguer against her majesty's government ? 
Besides, she had good cause of offence from the late 
conduct of Livingston, his servant, whom he had sent 
up to require the delivery of Angus and his friends. 
This man had spread reports injurious to her honour: 
he had asserted that Gowrie had written a letter, in 
prison, accusing Elizabeth of a plot against the life 
both of Mary and the young king. The whole was a 
foul and false slander ; and she knew well the strata- 
gems which had been used to procure such a letter; 
but she did, indeed, think it strange that the king 
himself should credit such stories of one whose life and 
government had been as innocent and unspotted as 
hers, and who had shown such care of himself, and 
sisterly affection to his mother.* For the banished 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, June 10, 1584, Davison to Walsingliam. 

1584. JAMES VI. 183 

noblemen, she should take good care they should create 
no trouble to his kingdom. 

To all this James answered, with a spirit and readi- 
ness for which Davison was not prepared, that for this 
last assurance there was not much necessity. He could 
look, he hoped, well enough himself to the defence of 
his kingdom against such rebels as she now thought 
good to protect. The case of Holt, he said, was not 
parallel. He was a mean and single subject : they 
were noblemen of great houses and alliance. For Gow- 
rie's letter, it was true such a letter had been written ; 
but its terms were so general, as to touch neither her 
majesty, nor any other persons in particular: nor was 
the accusation ever substantiated by proof. Her ma- 
jesty's honour, therefore, was unblemished. James 
then turned to lighter subjects, talked of his hunting 
and pastimes, and handed the ambassador over to Mon- 
trose, with whom he dined.* 

A few days 1 observation convinced Davison that 
James felt as deeply as he had expressed himself; and 
that, although Arran's power was great, the king's 
inclinations seconded, if they did not originate, all those 
severe measures which were now adopted against the 
banished nobles and the ministers. Nothing was heard 
of, from day to day, but prosecutions, arrests, forfei- 
tures, and imprisonments ; whilst Arran, and the nobles 
and barons who had joined his party, exultingly divided 
the spoil. The immense estates of the family of Dou- 
glas were eagerly sought after: and Davison, in a letter 
to Walsingham, conveyed a striking picture of the 
general scramble, " with the misery and confusion of 
the country." The proceedings of this court, said he, 
are thought so extreme and intolerable- as have not 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 10th June, 1584, Davison to Walsingham. 


only bred a common hatred and mislike of the instru- 
ments, but also a decay of the love and devotion of the 
subjects to his majesty. * * The want of their 
ministers exiled ; the imprisonment of Mr David Lind- 
say in the Blackness; and the warding of Mr Andrew 
Hay in the north, who refused to subscribe their late 
acts of parliament, do not a little increase the murmur 
and grudging of the people ; besides, the lack of the 
ordinary ministry here, which is now only supplied by 
Mr John Craig and Mr John Brand, at such times as 
they may be spared from their own charges. The 
king is exceedingly offended with such of them as are 
fled, blaming them to have withdrawn themselves 
without cause, notwithstanding some of their friends 
were already in hands, and warrant given forth for 
their own charging and apprehending before their 
departure. Immediately upon their returning, (he 
continued,) the Bishop of Glasgow, and Fintry, another 
excommunicate, came to this town, and were absolved, 
jure politico, from the sentence of excommunication, and 
now have liberty and access to the court. * * The 
prisoners are all yet unrelieved of their wards, save 
Lindsay and Mr William Lesly, who, by the great 
suit of the Laird and Lady Johnston, hath obtained 
his life. The Bishop of Moray and George Fleck 
remain in Montrose. Bothwell hath been an earnest 
suitor for Coldingknowes ; but hath yet obtained no 
grace : he hath gotten the grant of Cockburnspeth ; Sir 
William Stewart hath Douglas; the Secretary Mait- 
land, Boncle; and the Colonel, Tantallon: all belong- 
ing to Angus, whose lady doth yet retain her dowry. 
The Colonel hath, besides, the tutory of Glammis, with 
the Master's living. Huntley hath gotten Paisley and 
Buquhans lands ; Montrose, Balmanno, belonging to 

1584. JAMES vi. 185 

George Fleck; Crawford hath gotten the Abbey of 
Scone; Montrose the office of treasurer and the lord- 
ship of Ruthven; Arran, Dirleton, Cowsland, and 
Newton: all some time belonging to Gowrie, whose 
wife and children are very extremly dealt withal. 
Athole stands on terms of interdicting, for that it is sus- 
pected he will relieve and support them. Glencairn hath 
taken the castle of Erskine; the Laird of Clackmannan 
hath spoiled Alloa : both belonging to the Earl of Mar, 
whose living is yet undistributed, save the lordship 
of Brechin, which is given to Huntley. The Laird of 
Johnston hath gotten Locharnell, belonging to George 
Douglas. The living of the rest in exile being like to 
follow the same course. Arran (he went on to observe) 
had been promoted to the high office of chancellor ; 
Sir John Maitland had been made secretary; Sir 
Robert Melvil, treasurer-depute ; and Lord Fleming, 
lord chamberlain : whilst Adamson, the Archbishop 
of St Andrew's, was in high favour, constantly at court, 
and busily occupied in his schemes for the total destruc- 
tion of the Presbyterian form of Church government, 
and in the persecution of its ministers and supporters.* 
Calm and cold as was the language of this letter, the 
sum of public misery and individual suffering contained 
in such a description must have been great and intense; 
and yet such scenes of proscription and havoc were 
too common in Scotland to make any deep impression 
upon Elizabeth, who, when the political tools with 
which she worked were worn out or useless, was ac- 
customed to cast them aside with the utmost indiffer- 
ence. } But her ambassador struck upon a different 
string, and one which instantly vibrated with alarm 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, June 10, 1584. 
t Ibid 


and anger, when he assured her, that a complete re- 
volution had taken place in the feelings of the young 
king towards his mother; that they kept up a constant 
communication ; and that all the observations made 
by him, since his arrival in Scotland, convinced him 
that French politics, and the influence of the captive 
queen, regulated every measure at the Scottish court.* 
All pointed to this. The association, concluded already, 
or on the point of being concluded, between them, by 
which Mary was to resign the kingdom to her son ; 
the late revolution at St Andrew's ; the execution, 
exile, or imprisonment of such as had been constant in 
religion ; the alteration of the Protestant magistracy 
in the burghs ; the reception of English Jesuits into 
Scotland ; the negotiations of the Scottish nobles now 
in power with the Bishops of Glasgow and Ross, 
Mary's ambassadors and instruments at the courts of 
France and Spain ; the frequent intelligence between 
the young king and his mother ; his speeches in her 
favour, and his impatience of hearing anything in her 
dispraise : all were so many facts, to which the most 
cursory observer could scarcely shut his eyes ; and 
which, to use Davison's words to Walsingham, clearly 
demonstrated that the Scottish queen, though else- 
where in person, sat at the stern of the government, 
and guided both king and nobles as she pleased. "f* 

This was an alarming state of things to Elizabeth. 
The king was now grown up : his marriage could not 
be long delayed. If, by his mother's influence, it took 
place with a daughter of France ; if to tt,e intrigues 
of the Spanish faction of the Roman Catholics in her 
own realm, were to be added the revived influence of 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, June 10, 1584. 
J- MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, May 28, 1584. 

1584. JAMES VI. 

the Guises in Scotland, and an increased power of ex- 
citing rebellion in Ireland ; what security had she for 
her crown, or even for her life ? A conspiracy against 
her person was at this moment organizing in England; 
for which Francis Throckmorton was afterwards exe- 
cuted.* Of its true character it is difficult to form an 
opinion ; but whether a real or a counterfeit plot, it 
was enough to alarm the country. It seems certain, 
that many Jesuits and seminary priests were busy in 
both kingdoms exciting the people to rebellion : slan- 
derous libels, and treatises on tyrannicide, were printed 
and scattered about by those who considered the Queen 
of England a usurper and a heretic : her enemies looked 
to the Queen of Scots as the bulwark of the true faith 
in England: and Mary, impatient under her long 
captivity, naturally and justifiably felt disposed to 
encourage every scheme which promised her liberty 
and rest. At this moment, when all was so gloomy, 
the faction in Scotland by whose assistance Elizabeth 
had hitherto kept her opponents in check, had been 
suddenly overwhelmed ; its leaders executed, or driven 
into banishment ; and a government set up, the first 
acts of which had exhibited a complete devotedness to 
the friends and the interests of Mary. 

The English queen was, therefore, compelled, by 
the imminency of the danger, to put the question, 
How was this crisis to be met? Having consulted 
Davison, she found that any attempt at direct medi- 
ation in the favour of the banished lords, would, in 
the present temper of the young king, be unsuccessful ; 
and to use open force to create a counter-revolution, 
and restore the Protestant ascendency, was a path full 

* Carte, vol. iii. p. 386. 


of peril.* Setting both these aside, however, there 
were still three ways which presented themselves to 
revive her influence, and check the headlong violence 
by which things were running into confusion and 
hostility to England. One was to secure the services 
of Arran, who possessed the greatest influence over 
James. He had secretly offered himself to Elizabeth, 
declared his constancy in religion as it was professed 
in England, and his conviction, that to preserve the 
amity with that realm was the best policy for his 
sovereign. He undertook, if the English queen fol- 
lowed his counsel, to keep the young king his master 
unmarried for three years ; and he requested her to 
send down to the Border, some nobleman of rank in 
whom she placed confidence; whom he would meet 
there, and to whom, in a private conference, he would 
propose such measures as should be for the lasting 
benefit of both countries. A second method, directly 
contrary to this, was to support the banished lords, 
Angus, Mar, and Glammis, with money and troops ; 
to employ them to overwhelm Arran, and compel the 
king to restore the reformed faction, and the exiled 


ministers of the Kirk. A third scheme presented 
itself, in the offers which the captive queen herself had 
made at this moment to Elizabeth. She was now old, 
she said ; ambition had no charms for her ; she was 
too much broken in health and spirits, by her long 
imprisonment, to meddle with affairs of State. All 
that she now wished, was to be restored to liberty, and 
permitted to live in retirement, either in England, or 
in her own country. She could not prevent her friends, 
and the great body of the Roman Catholics in Europe, 
from connecting her name with their efforts for the re- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Burghley, June 23, 1584. 

1584. JAMES VI. 189 

storation of the true faith ; from soliciting her approval, 
and organizing plans for her deliverance. All this re- 
sulted from her having been so long detained a captive 
against the most common principles of law and justice; 
but if the queen would adopt a more generous system 
and restore her to liberty, she was ready, she said, to 
make Elizabeth a party to the association, which was 
now nearly completed, with her son; to resign the 
government into the hands of the young king; to use 
her whole influence in reconciling him to the exiled 
lords ; to promote, by every method in her power, the 
amity with England ; and not only to discourage the 
intrigues of the Roman Catholics against the govern- 
ment of her good sister, but to put her in possession 
of many secret particulars, known only to herself, by 
which she should be enabled to traverse the schemes 
of her enemies, and restore security to her person and 

All these three methods presented themselves to 
Elizabeth, and all had their difficulties. If she ac- 
cepted Arran's offer, it could hardly be done except 
after the old fashion, which she so much disliked: of 
pensioning himself and his friends; outbidding France; 
and setting her face against his mortal enemies, the 
Douglases and the Hamiltons, whose return must be 
his ruin. If she sent back the exiled lords, it equally 
involved her in expense, and pledged her to the support 
of the Kirk ; to whose Presbyterian form of govern- 
ment, and high claims of infallibility and independence, 
she bore no favour. If she embraced Mary's proposals, 
her safest, because her justest and most generous 
course, she acted in hostility to the advice of Burgh- 
ley and Walsingham, who were deemed her wisest 
councillors ; and who had declared, in the strongest 


possible terras, that the freedom of the Scottish queen 
was inconsistent with the life of their royal mistress, 
or the continuance of the Protestant opinions in Eng- 
land. Having weighed these difficulties, Elizabeth 
held a conference with her confidential ministers, Lord 
Burghley and Walsingham. Although of one mind 
as to the rejection of the offers of Mary, they, contrary 
to what had hitherto taken place, differed in opinion 
on the two alternatives which remained. Burghley 
advised her to gain Arran, to send a minister to hold 
a secret conference with him on the Borders,* and, 
through his influence, to manage the young king. 
Walsingham, on the other hand, warmly pleaded for 
the banished lords. No trust, he affirmed, could be 
put in Arran ; and, as long as he ruled all, there 
would be no peace for England : but at this instant, 
so great was the unpopularity of the young king and 
this proud minister, that if her majesty sent home the 
banished lords, with some support in money and sol- 
diers, they would soon expel him from his high ground, 
and restore English ascendency at the Scottish court. 
Having considered these opinions, Elizabeth decided 
that she would exclusively follow neither, but adopt 
a plan of her own. It was marked by that craft and 
dissimulation which, in those days of crooked and 
narrow policy, were mistaken for wisdom. To all the 
three parties who had offered themselves, hopes were 
held out, Arran was flattered, his proposals accepted ; 
and Lord Hunsdon, the cousin of the English queen, 
directed to meet him in a conference on the Borders. -f- 
At the same moment, a negotiation, which had been 
opened a short while before with the Queen of Scots, was 

* MS. State-paper Office. Instructions to Lord Hunsdon, June 30, 1584. 

1584. JAMES VI. 191 

rene^ ed. She was once more deluded with the dream 
of liberty ; and encouraged to use her influence with 
her son, and persuade him to more charitable feelings 
towards England and the exiled lords : * and, lastly, 
these noblemen and the banished ministers of the 
Kirk, were fed with hopes, that the queen would re- 
store them to their country; strengthen them with 
money and arms, and gratefully accept their service 
to overwhelm both Arran and the Scottish queen. ( 
In this way Elizabeth persuaded herself that she 
could hold in her hand, and ingeniously play against 
each other, the main strings which moved the principal 
puppets of the drama. If Arran proved true to his 
promises, as Burghley anticipated, she could easily 
cast off the banished lords ; if false, as Walsingham 
judged likely, they were ready, at her beck, to rise 
and overwhelm him. Whilst, from the captive queen, 
whose restoration to liberty was never seriously con- 
templated, she expected to gain such disclosures as 
should enable her to traverse the constant intrigues of 
her enemies. It is to be remembered, that all these 
three modes of policy were carried on at one and the 
same time ; and it is consequently difficult to bring 
the picture clearly, or without confusion, before the 
eye : but it must be attempted. 

Elizabeth, in the beginning of July, informed James 
that she had accepted his offers, and had appointed 
Lord Hunsdon to hold a conference with Arran on the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, May 10, J 584, Walsingham to Davison. 
Ibid., Randolph to Davison, May 13, 1584. Ibid., Walsingham to Davison, 
May 20, 1584. Ibid., Papers of Mary queen of Scots, Lord Shrewsbury 
and Mr Beal to Walsingham, May 16', 1584 ; and Ibid., Walsingham to 
Lord Shrewsbury, June 16, 1 584 ; and Ibid., Mary queen of Scots to the 
French ambassador, July 7, 1584. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Col vile to Walsingham, 25th May, 


Borders. * The arrangements for this meeting, how- 
ever, which was to be conducted with considerable 
pomp and solemnity, could not be completed till 
August; and Davison, the English ambassador in 
Scotland, employed this interval in getting up a fac- 
tion in favour of the banished lords, in undermining 
the influence of Arran, and in tampering with the 
governor of the castle of Edinburgh, for its delivery 
into the hands of the queen. For all this Walsingham 
sent special instructions: and whilst his secret agents 
were busy in Scotland, Colvile had private meetings 
with Elizabeth, and laboured to gain the Hamiltons 
to join the exiled noblemen. It was hoped, in this 
way, that the foundation of a movement would be laid, 
by which, if Arran played false, a result which both 
Elizabeth and Walsingham expected, the banished 
nobles should break into Scotland, seize or assassinate 
the Scottish earl, get possession of the person of the 
king, and put an end to the French faction in that 
country. This, as will be seen in the sequel, actually 
took place, though the course of events interrupted 
and dela} r ed the outbreak. -f* 

It was now time for the appointed conference; and, 
on the fourteenth of August, the Earl of Arran and 
Lord Hunsdon met at Foulden Kirk ; a place on the 
Borders, not far from Berwick. It was one object of 
the Scottish lord to impress the English with a high 
idea of his power; and the state with which he came 
was that of a sovereign rather than a subject. His 
retinue amounted to five thousand horse, and he was 
attended by five members of the privy-council, who, 
whilst Hunsdon and he alone entered the church, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Davison, July 2, 1584. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Colvile to Walsingham, May '25, 1584. 

1584. JAMES vt. 193 

waited obsequiously without in the churchyard. All, 
even the highest noblemen, appeared to treat him with 
such humility and deference, that Lord Hunsdon, 
writing to Burghley, observed, they seemed rather 
servants than fellow-councillors ; and Sir Edward 
Hoby, who was also on the spot, declared he not only 
comported himself with a noble dignity and grace, but 
was, in truth, a king, binding and loosing at his plea- 
sure.* In opening the conference, Arran professed 
the utmost devotion to the service of the English 
queen; and with such eloquence and earnestness, that 
Hunsdon declared he could not question his sincerity. 
There was a frankness about his communications which 
impressed the English lord with a conviction of their 
truth; and Hoby, who knew Elizabeth's love of hand- 
some men, sent a minute portrait of him to Burghley, 
recommending him to the favour of his royal mistress. 
For the man, said he, surely he carrieth a princely 
presence and gait, goodly of personage, representing 
a brave countenance of a captain of middle age, very 
resolute, very wise and learned, and one of the best 
spoken men that ever I heard : a man worthy the 
queen's favour, if it please her.-j- 

But to return to the conference. Hunsdon, on his 
side, following the instructions of Elizabeth, complained 
of the recent unkind conduct of James in seeking an 
alliance with France, and encouraging the enemies of 
England. It was well known, he said, to his royal 
mistress, that this young prince, instead of fulfilling 
his promises to her to whom he owed so much, was 
practising against her. His harbouring of Jesuits ; 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Hunsdon to Burghley, August 14, 1584. 
Ibid., Sir Edward Hoby to Lord Burghley, August 15, 1584. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir Edward Hoby to Lord Burghley, 
August 15, 1584. 



his banishment of the noblemen best affected to Eng- 
land ; his intended " association " with his mother ; 
his intercourse with the pope; his contemptuous treat- 
ment of her ambassadors, all proved this ; and would, 
ere now, have called down a severe retaliation,* had he 
not recently shown a change of mind, and expressed a 
desire of reconciliation, which she was willing to believe 
sincere. She now trusted that Arran would act up 
to his protestations ; and employ his influence with 
the king his master, for the restoration of amity be- 
tween the two crowns, and the return of the exiled 

In his reply to this, Arran did not affect to conceal 
the intrigues of France and Spain to gain the young 
king ; but he assured Hunsdon that all his influence 
should be exerted to counteract their success, and pro- 
mote the amity with England. As to Elizabeth's 
complaints, some he admitted to be true, some he 
denied, others he exculpated. His master, he said, 
had never dealt with any Jesuits, and knew of none 
in his dominions: the Scottish king had no intentions 
of carrying forward "the association" with his mother; 
nor had he any secret intrigues with the pope. Arran 
admitted James" 1 severity to some of the English 
ambassadors : but had it not been for the reverence 
borne to their mistress, they would have been used 
with harder measure ; for James had Mr Randolph's 
own hand to prove him a stirrer up of sedition : and it 
was Mr Bowes, her majesty's ambassador, who was 
the principal plotter of the seizure of the king's person 
at Ruthveu, and the recent rebellious enterprise at 
Stirling. As for the banished lords, it was strange, 
indeed, to find her majesty an intercessor for men who 
had cast off their allegiance, and taken arms against. 

1584. JAMES VI. 195 

their natural prince ; and whose proceedings had been 
so outrageous, that neither the king, nor he himself, 
could entertain the idea of their return for a moment. 
Angus, Mar, and their companions, had never ceased 
to plot against the government. Let Hunsdon look 
back to the course of the last two years. With what 
shameful ingratitude had Angus treated the king his 
master, in the business of the Earl of Morton, in the 
affair of the Raid of Ruthven, when they seized and 
imprisoned him, (Arran,) and threatened the king 
they would send him his head in a dish, if he did not 
instantly banish Lennox ! Hunsdon pleaded against 
this the king's own letter to Elizabeth, which showed 
that he was pleased with the change. Arran smiled 
and said, it was easy to extort such a letter from a 
prince they had in their hands. Hunsdon replied, that 
James ought to have secretly sought advice from Bowes 
the English ambassador. Bowes ! retorted Arran. 
Bowes, as the king well knew, was at the bottom of 
the whole conspiracy for his apprehension. And then, 
look to the dealings of the same lords in the last affair, 
which cost Gowrie his head. With what craft did 
they seduce the ministers ; plotting my death, and 
the king^s second apprehension, had it not been happily 
detected and defeated. Nay, said he, getting warmer 
as he proceeded, what will your lordship think, if I 
tell you, that at this moment the men you are pleading 
for as penitent exiles, are as active and cruel-minded 
in their captivity as ever ; and that, at this instant, 
I have in my hands the certain proofs of a plot now 
going forward, to seize the king, to assassinate myself, 
to procure, by treachery, the castle of Edinburgh, and 
to overturn the government ? * Tis but a few days 

* MS. State-paper Office, Hunsdon to "SValsingham, August 14, 1584 


since all this has been discovered : and can your lord- 
ship advise your mistress to intercede for such traitors? 
This was too powerful an appeal to be resisted; and 
Hunsdon, changing the subject, spoke of the conspir- 
acies against Elizabeth. Adverting to Throckmorton's 
recent treason, he declared that his mistress the queen 
well knew that, at this moment, there were practices 
carrying on in the heart of her kingdom for the dis- 
turbance of her government. She knew, also, that the 
King of Scots and his mother were privy to these; 
nay, she knew that it was intended he should be a 
principal actor therein. Let him dislose them all fully 
and frankly, and he should find that the English queen 
knew how to be grateful. To this, Arran promptly 
answered, that nothing should be hid from Elizabeth, 
and no effort omitted by the king or himself to satisfy 
her majesty on this point. He then showed Hunsdon 
his commission under the Great Seal, giving him the 
broadest and most unlimited powers ; and the confer- 
ence, which had lasted for five hours, was brought to 
an end.* On coming out of the church, both Hunsdon 
and he appeared in the highest spirits and good humour. 
It was evident to the lords, who had waited without, 
that their solitary communications had been of an 
agreeable nature; and the Scottish earl seemed resolved 
that his own people should remark it ; for, turning to 
the lords about him, he said aloud, " Is it not strange 
to see two men, accounted so violent and furious as 
we two are, agree so well together, I hope, to the 
contentment of both crowns and their peace !"} At 

and MS. Notes of the same interview. Endorsed by Burghley, August 13, 
1584 ; also, Ibid., Hunsdon to Burghley, August 14, 1584. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Hunsdon to Walsingham, August 14, 
1584. Ibid., same date, Hunsdon to Burghley. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir Edward Hoby to Dr Parry, August 
'5, 1584. 

1584. JAMES VI. 197 

this moment, Hunsdon and Arran were reckoned the 
proudest and most passionate noblemen in their two 
countries ; but' for this excessive cordiality there 
were secret reasons, if we may believe an insinuation 
of Walsingharn's to Davison. Hunsdon and Lord 
Burghley had a little plot of their own to secure the 
favour of the young King of Scots, by gaining Arrau, 
and bringing about a marriage between James and a 
niece of the English earl; who, as cousin to Elizabeth, 
considered his kin as of royal blood.* On this point, 
Walsingham felt so bitterly, that he accused his old 
friends of worshipping the rising sun ; and observed, 
that her majesty had need now to make much of faith- 
ful servants. "f* 

On coming out of the church, Arran called for the 
Master of Gray, a young nobleman of his suite, and 
introduced him to Hunsdon. It was impossible not to 
be struck with the handsome countenance and graceful 
manners of this youth. He had spent some time at 
the court of France ; and, having been bred up in the 
Roman Catholic faith, had been courted by the house 
of Guise, and employed by them as a confidential en- 
voy in their negotiations with the captive Queen of 
Scots. He had always professed the deepest attach- 
ment to this unhappy princess ; and the young king 
had, within the last year, become so captivated with 
his society, that Mary, who had too rapidly trusted 
him with much of her secret correspondence, sanguinely 
hoped that his influence would be of the highest service 
to her, in regaining a hold over the affections of her 
son. But Gray, under an exterior which was preemi- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Hunsdon to Burghley, October 1, 1584. 

Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Burghley, July 27, 1584. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Davison, July 12, 1584. 


nently beautiful, though too feminine to please some 
tastes, carried a heart as black and treacherous as any 
in this profligate age ; and, instead of advocating, was 
prepared to betray the cause of the imprisoned queen. 
To her son the young king, and the Earl of Arran, he 
had already revealed all he knew ; and he now presented 
a letter from James his master to Hunsdon. Its con- 
tents were of a secret and confidential kind, and related 
to the conspiracies against Elizabeth, which gave this 
princess such perpetual disquiet. After enjoining on 
Hunsdon the strictest concealment of all he was about 
to communicate from every living being, except his 
royal mistress, Gray informed him that the King of 
Scots meant to send him speedily as ambassador to 
England, with some public and open message to Eliza- 
beth ; under colour of which, he was to be intrusted 
with the commission of disclosing all the secret prac- 
tices of Mary. Had Hunsdon kept his promise, we 
should have known nothing of all this ; but, next 
morning, he communicated it to Burghley, in a letter 
meant only for his private eye. It is to the preserva- 
tion of this letter, that we owe our knowledge of a 
transaction which brings the young king, and his 
favourite the Master of Gray, before us in the degrading 
light of informers : the one betraying his mother; the 
other selling, for his own gain, the secrets with which 
he had been intrusted by his sovereign. This is so 
dark an accusation, that I must substantiate it by an 
extract from the letter in question. " Now, my lord," 
said Hunsdon, addressing Burghley, "for the principal 
point of such conspiracies as are in hand against her 
majesty, I am only to make her majesty acquainted 
withal by what means she shall know it yet will I 
acquaint your lordship with all. The king did send 

1584. JAMES vi. ]99 

the Master of Gray, at this meeting, to me, with a 
letter of commendation, under the King^s own hand, 
whom he means presently to send to her majesty, as 
though it were for some other matters ; but it is he 
that must discover all these practices, as one better 
acquainted with them than either the king or the earl, 
(but by him.*) He is very young, but wise and 
secret, as Arran doth assure me. He is, no doubt, 
very inward with the Scottish queen, and all her affairs, 
both in England and France ; yea, and with the pope, 
for he is accounted a Papist; but for his religion, your 
lordship will judge when you see him ; but her majesty 
must use him as Arran will prescribe unto her; and so 
shall she reap profit by him. * * * I have written 
to Mr Secretary [Walsingham] for a safe conduct to 
him ; but nothing of the cause of his coming, but 
only to her majesty and to your lordship. If Mr Secre- 
tary be slow for this safe conduct, I pray your lordship 
further it, for the matter requires no delay ."} 

The conference was now concluded, and Arran had 
succeeded in persuading Lord Hunsdon, not only of 
his sincerity and devotion to the service of Elizabeth, 
but of his entire hold over the mind of his royal master. 
If Lord Burghley, to whom he professed the utmost 
attachment, would cooperate firmly with himself and 
Hunsdon, and the Master of Gray, he was able, he 
affirmed, to hold the young king entirely at the devo- 
tion of the Queen of England. He did not despair to 
unite the two crowns in an indissoluble league ; and, 
by exposing the practices of her enemies, to enable 
Elizabeth to traverse all the plots of Mary and the 

* These words seem superfluous, yet they are in the original letter. 

f- MS. Letter, State- paper Office, Hunsdon to Burghley, Aug. 14, 1584. 


Roman Catholics. But there were two parties, whom, 
he declared, they must put down at all risks. The 
one laboured for the liberty of the captive queen, and 
her association in the government with her son. The 
other was, at this moment, intriguing in every way 
for the return of Angus and the exiled lords ; for the 
triumph of the Kirk over Episcopacy, and the reestab- 
lishment of the Republican principles which had led to 
the Raid of Ruthven, and the other conspiracies for 
seizing the king, and using him as their tool. The 
first party was supported by France, Spain, and the 
Spanish faction of the Roman Catholics in England. 
Its agents on the continent were the Bishops of Ross 
and Glasgow, whose emissaries, the Jesuits and semi- 
nary priests, were, at that moment, plotting in Scot- 
land ; it possessed many friends in the privy-council 
and nobility of Scotland, such as, Maitland the 
chancellor, Sir James and Sir Robert Melvil,* the 
Earl of Huntley, .and it might, indeed, be said, the 
whole body of the Roman Catholic peers in both coun- 
tries. It was from this party that the late conspiracies 
against the queen of England had proceeded, as her 
majesty would soon discover by the embassy of the 
Master of Gray; and, if she listened to his (Arrant) 
advice, it would be no difficult matter to detach James 
for ever from his mother and her friends. But to 
effect this, she must put down the other faction of the 
banished lords. The king, he said, hated Angus, their 
leader ; and Angus and the whole house of Douglas, 
were still boili'ng in their hearts to revenge on their 
sovereign, and on Arran, the death of the regent Mor- 
ton. As to the banished lords of the house of Hamilton, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Hunsdon, Aug. 12, 1584. 

1584. JAMES VI. 201 

their return must be his (Arran's) destruction ; and, 
for the exiled ministers of the Kirk, James was so 
incensed against them, and so bent upon the estab- 
lishment of Episcopacy, that he would listen to no 
measures connected with their restoration. Yet this 
party for the return of the banished lords, was sup- 
ported by Walsingham in England, and Davison her 
majesty's ambassador in Scotland ; and their busy 
agent, Colvile, was admitted to secret audiences with 
Elizabeth, and fed with hopes of their return. If this 
policy were continued, (so argued Arran,) it would 
blast all his efforts for the binding his young master 
to the service of Elizabeth ; for rather than one of the 
banished lords should set his foot in Scotland, James, 
he was assured, would throw himself into the arms of 
France and Spain, and carry through the project of an 
association with his mother the captive queen. 

These arguments of Arran explain that jealousy and 
irritation which appeared in many of Secretary Wal- 
singham's letters regarding the conference between him 
and Hunsdon. This crafty statesman was well aware 
that there was a conference within a conference, to 
which he was kept a stranger ; a secret negotiation* 
between Burghley and Hunsdon, the exact object of 
which he could not fathom ; but by which he felt his 
own policy regarding Scotland shackled and defeated. 
He looked, therefore, with suspicion upon Burghley ""s 
whole conduct in the affairs of Scotland at this time ; 
and these feelings were increased by the court which 
Arran had paid to Burghley's nephew, Sir Edward 
Hoby, who formed one of Hunsdon's suite at the con- 

This accomplished person, on the conclusion of the 
conference, rode from Foulden Kirk, with the Earl of 


Arran, to the ground where he had left his troops ; 
the distance was three miles ; they had ample time 
for secret talk ; and Hoby, next morning, described 
the conversation, in letters addressed both to his uncle 
Burghley, and his kinsman Dr Parry.* The Scottish 
earl was particularly flattering and confidential. Bring- 
ing Hoby near his troops, which were admirably mount- 
ed and accoutred, he pointed to them significantly, and 
shaking his head, told him in these ranks there were 
many principal leaders, who would gladly send him 
out of the world if they could, so mortally did they 
hate him ; but he feared them not. Nay, such was 
his power, and his enemies' weakness at this moment, 
that if Elizabeth would accept his offers, she should 
have twenty thousand men at her service. To devote 
himself to her, indeed, would be his highest pride. 
As for France and Spain, he cared little for either. 
He neither needed their friendship, nor feared their 
enmity ; but with the favour of his royal master, 
could live in Scotland independent of both ; and for 
these conspiracies against his life, the same God who 
had defended him in Muscovy, Sweden, and Germany, 
would cast his shield over him at home. Arran then 
appears to have changed the subject to James 1 expec- 
tations as Elizabeth's successor, the State of England, 
the rival interests of the Catholic and Protestant fac- 
tions in reference to this delicate point, and the probable 
effects of Mary's intrigues for the recovery of her liberty 
upon the prospects of her son. So, at least, may be 
conjectured from Hoby's description of the great and 
weighty discourses into which he entered ; and he 
ended by assuring him, that the King of Scots desired, 

* MS. Letter. State-paper Office, Sir Edward Hoby to Dr Parry. Aug. 
15, 1584. 

] 584. JAMES VI. 203 

of all things in the world, to place himself, and his 
whole interests, in the hands of. Lord Burghley and 
Lord Hunsdon, the one as the wisest head, and the 
other the boldest heart in England.* When it is 
recollected that Arran was no friend of the Queen of 
Scots, and that Burghley was not only opposed to 
every scheme for her liberty, but had often repeated 
his conviction, that her life was inconsistent with 
Elizabeth's security, we require no more certain evi- 
dence of the melancholy fact, that James was ready, 
at this instant, to desert her cause and betray her de- 
signs to her bitterest enemies. 

On his return, from this conference, to the capital, 
Arran, presuming on its successful issue, resumed the 
management of affairs with a high and proud hand. 
A few days before he met Hunsdon he had, as we have 
just seen, discovered a conspiracy against the govern- 
ment. In this plot, the captain of the castle of Edin- 
burgh had been detected tampering with Davison and 
Walsingham, for the delivery of the fortress into the 
hands of the English faction ; and Arran wisely re- 
solved to defeat all recurrence of such attempts, by 
taking possession of the place in person. -f* He, ac- 
cordingly, removed the governor and officers, substi- 
tuted his own creatures in their room, demanded the 
keys of the crown jewels and wardrobe from Sir 
Robert Melvil ; and, with his lady and household, 
occupied the royal apartments within the castle. J 
He had now four of the strongest fortresses of the 
country at his devotion, Dumbarton, Stirling, Black- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir Edward Hoby to Lord Burghley 
Aug. 15, 1584. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Davison, July ]2, 1584 t 
and Ibid., Walsingham to Davison, Aug. 13, 1584. 

J MS. State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, Aug. 16, 1 j84. 


ness, and Edinburgh ; and his ambition enlarging by 
what it fed on, he assumed a kingly consequence and 
state which offended the ancient nobility, and excited 
their fear and envy. On his return from the confer- 
ence at Foulden Kirk, he was welcomed with cannon 
by the castle ; a ceremony, as it was remarked, never 
used but in time of parliament, and to the king or 
regents : and when, soon after, summonses were issued 
for the meeting of the three Estates, all the country 
looked forward with alarm to a renewal of the pro- 
scriptions and plunder which had already commenced 
against the exiled lords. But the reality even outran 
their anticipation. Arran, assisted by his lady, a 
woman whose pride and insolence exceeded his own, 
domineered over the deliberations of parliament ; and, 
to the scandal of all, insisted on those Acts, which they 
had previously prepared, being passed at once without 
reasoning.* Sixty persons were forfeited;^ many 
were driven to purchase pardons at a high ransom ; 
and the unhappy Countess of Gowrie was treated with 
a cruelty and brutality which excited the utmost com- 
miseration in all who witnessed it. This lady, a 
daughter of Henry Stewart lord Methven, on the 
last day of the parliament, had obtained admission to 
an antechamber, where, as the king passed, she hoped 
to have an opportunity of pleading for herself and her 
children ; but, by Arran's orders, she was driven into 
the open street. Here she patiently awaited the king's 
return, and cast herself, in an agony of tears, at his 
feet, attempting to clasp his knees ; but Arran, who 
walked at James 1 hand, hastily pulled him past, and, 
pushing the miserable suppliant aside, not only threw 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, Aug. 24, 1.584. 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, Aug. 1C, 1584. 

1584. JAMES VI. 205 

her down, but brutally trode upon her as the cavalcade 
moved forward, leaving her in a faint on the pavement. 
Can we wonder that the sons of this injured woman, 
bred up in the recollection of wrongs like these, should, 
in later years, have cherished in their hearts the deep- 
est appetite for revenge ? 

Immediately after the parliament, the king repaired 
to his palace at Falkland; whilst Arran, Montrose, and 
the other lords of his party, now all-powerful, remained 
in Edinburgh, engaged in pressing on the execution of 
the late acts, for the confiscation and ruin of their op- 
ponents. Of these, by far the most formidable was the 
Earl of Angus; who, although banished, and now at 
Newcastle, retained a great influence in Scotland. He 
was the head of the Presbyterian faction in that country, 
the great support of the exiled ministers ; and it was 
his authority with Walsingham that traversed Arran\s 
and James 1 schemes for a league between England and 
Scotland, on the broad basis of the establishment of 
Episcopacy. It was resolved, therefore, to cut off this 
baron; and Arran, and his colleague Montrose, the 
head of the powerful house of Graham, made no scruple 
of looking out for some desperate retainer, or hired 
villain, to whom they might commit the task. Nor, 
in these dark times, was such a search likely to prove 
either long or difficult. They accordingly soon pitched 
upon Jock or John Graham of Peartree, whom Montrose 
knew to have a blood feud with Angus ; sent a little 
page called Mouse to bring the Borderer to Edinburgh ; 
feasted and caressed him during the time of the parlia- 
ment, and carried him afterwards to Falkland, where 
the two earls, and the king, proposed to him not only 
to assassinate their hated enemy, but to make away 
with Mar and Cambuskenneth, his brother exiles, at 


the same time. Jock at once agreed to murder Angus, 
and was promised a high reward by the young monarch ; 
but he declined having anything to do with Mar, or 
Cambuskenneth, with whom he had no quarrel; and 
he left the palace, after receiving from Montrose a 
short matchlock, or riding-piece, which was deemed 
serviceable for the purpose in hand. But this atrocious 
design was not destined to succeed. The villain, who 
was probably lurking about in the neighbourhood of 
Newcastle, was detected and seized, carried before Lord 
Scrope, compelled to confess his intention; and infor- 
mation of the whole plot was immediately transmitted 
by Scrope to Walsingham.* The English secretary re- 
commended, that the discovery should be kept a secret 
from all, except Angus and Mar, who were privately 
warned of the practices against them; and it is from 
the confession of the Borderer himself, which he made 
before Scrope, that these particulars are given. The 
intended assassin thus described his interview with 
the king: After stating that he had arrived late at 
night at the palace, they brought him, he said, into 
the king^s gallery, where he [the king] was alone by 
himself: and only he, Montrose, and Arran, and this 
examinant, being together, the king himself did move 
him, as the other two had done, for the killing of 
Angus, Mar, and Cambuskenneth: to whom he an- 
swered, that for Mar and Cambuskenneth, he would 
not meddle with them ; but for Angus, he would well 
be contented to do that, so as the king would well 
reward him for that. And the king said, he would 
presently give him sixty French crowns, and twenty 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., December 22, 1584, Scrope to 
Walsingham. " For the matter of Peartree, I have kept the same secret, 
saving to the Earls of Angus and Mar, who, I trust, will use it as the same 

1584. JAMES vi. 207 

Scottish pound land to him and his for ever, lying in 
Strathern, near Montrose.* 

These facts are so distinctly and minutely recorded 
in the manuscript history of Calderwood, who has 
given the whole of GrahanVs declaration, that it was 
impossible to omit them; but although there is little 
doubt of the truth of the intended murder, so far as 
Arran and Montrose are concerned, it would be, per- 
haps, unfair to believe in the full implication of the 
young king, on the single evidence of this Border 
assassin. To return, however, from this digression to 
Arrar/s headlong career. His hand, which had recent- 
ly fallen so heavily on the nobility, was now lifted 
against the Kirk. Proclamation was made that all 
ministers should give up the rental of their benefices ; 
and that none should receive stipend but such as had 
subscribed the new-framed policy, by which Presbytery 
was abrogated and Episcopacy established. As was 
to be expected, many of the clergy resisted, and were 
commanded to quit the country within twenty days : 
nor were they permitted, as before, to take refuge with 
their banished brethren in England or Ireland. *f* All 
this was carried through at the instigation of the 
primate, Archbishop Adamson ; who had recently re- 
turned from England, and exerted himself to purify the 
universities from the leaven of Presbyterian doctrine, 
and to fill the vacant pulpits with ministers attached 
to the new form of policy. His efforts, however, met 
with bitter opposition. At St Andrew's, the archi- 
episcopal palace in which Adamson resided, was sur- 
rounded by troops of students, who armed themselves 

* MS. Calderwood, British Museum, 1468, Examination of Jock Graham 
of Peartree, taken before the Lord Scrope, Warden of the West Marches at 
Carlisle, November 25, 1584. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, Aug. 16, 1584. 


with harquebusses, and paraded round the walls, 
bidding the primate remember how fatal that See had 
been to his predecessor, and look for no better issue. 
Montgomery the Bishop of Glasgow was attacked in 
the streets of Ayr by a mob of women and boys, who 
with difficulty were restrained from stoning him, and 
kept pouring out the vilest abuse, calling him atheist 
dog, schismatic excommunicate beast, unworthy to 
breathe or bear life.* Some of the ministers, also, 
refusing to imitate the example of their brethren who 
had fled from their flocks, remained to brave the 
resentment of the court ; and taking their lives in 
their hands, openly preached against the late acts, 
and declared their resolution not to obey them. The 
anathema of one of these, named Mr John Hewison, 
minister of Cambuslang, has been preserved. It is 
more remarkable, certainly, for its courage than its 
charity ; and may be taken as an example of the tone 
of the high Puritan faction to which he belonged. 
Preaching in the Blackfriars at Edinburgh, on the text 
which declares the resolute answer of St Peter and St 
Paul to the council of the Pharisees, he passed from 
the general application to the trials of the Kirk at 
that moment, and broke out into these words: "But 
what shall we say ? There is injunction now given 
by ane-f wicked and godless council, to stop the mouths 
of the ministers from teaching of the truth ; and sic J 
a godless order made, as the like was never seen before. 
There is ane heid of the Kirk made; there being nae jj 
heid but Jesus Christ, nor cannot be. Stinking and 
baggage heidis !H an excommunicated sanger !** an 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingham, Aug. 16, 15154. 
* Ane, one. Sic, such. Heid, head. 

|| Nae, none. If Heidis, heads. ** Sanger, singer. 

] 584. JAMES vi. 209 

excommunicate willane,* \vha sail never be obeyed 
here ! We will acknowledge nae prince, nae magistrate, 
in teaching of the Word ; nor be bounden to nae in- 
junctions, nor obey nae acts of parliament, nor nae other 
thing that is repugnant to the Word of God : but will 
do as Peter and John said, Better obey God nor man. 
But it is not the king that does this. It is the wicked, 
godless, and villane council he has, and other godless 
persons, that inform his majesty wrangously,-f- whereof 
there is aneugh J about him. For my own part," he 
continued, warming in his subject with the thoughts 
of persecution, " I ken I will be noted. I regard 
not. What can the king get of me but my head and 
my blood \ I sail never obey their injunctions ; like 
as I request all faithful folk to do the like." || The 
prediction of this bold minister was so far verified, 
that he was apprehended, and order given to bring 
him to justice ; but for some reason not easily disco- 
vered, the trial did not take place. IT 

It was at this same time, that Mr David Lindsay, 
one of the persecuted ministers, whose mind, in the 
solitude of his prison at Blackness, had been worked 
into a state of feverish enthusiasm, was reported to 
have seen an extraordinary vision. Suddenly, in the 
firmament, there appeared a figure in the likeness of a 
man ; of glorious shape and surpassing brightness : 
the sun was above his head, the moon beneath his 
feet ; and he seemed to stand in the midst of the 
stars. As the captive gazed, an angel alighted at the 
feet of this transcendant Being, bearing in his right 
hand a red naked sword, and in his left a scroll ; to 

* Willane, villain. -\- Wrangously, wrongfully. 

J Aneugh, enough. Ken, know. 

|| MS. State-paper Office, original, Accusation of Mr John Hewison. 

TI MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsinghara, July 14, 1584,. 



whom the glorious shape seemed to give commandment; 
upon which, the avenging angel, for so he now 
appeared to be, flew rapidly through the heavens, and 
lighted on the ramparts of a fortress ; which Lindsay 
recognised as the castle of Edinburgh. Before its gate 
stood the Earl of Arran and his flagitious consort: the 
earl gazing in horror on the destroying minister, who 
waved his sword above his head ; his countess smiling 
in derision, and mocking his fears. The scene then 
changed : the captive was carried to an eminence, from 
which he looked down upon the land, with its wide 
fields, its cities and palaces. Suddenly the same 
terrible visitant appeared : a cry of lamentation arose 
from its inhabitants ; fire fell from heaven on its de- 
voted towns the sword did its work the rivers ran 
with blood and the fields were covered with the dead. 
It was a fearful sight ; but, amidst its horrors, a little 
bell was heard ; and, within a church which had stood 
uninjured even in the flames, a remnant of the faithful 
assembled ; to whom the angel uttered these words of 
awful admonition. " Metuant Justi. Iniquitatem 
fugite. Deligite Justitiam et Judicium ; aut cito 
revertar et posteriora erunt pejora prioribus." * Lind- 
say asserted that it was impossible for him to ascertain 
whether this scene, which seemed to shadow out the 
persecutions and prospects of the Kirk, was a dream 
or a vision ; but it brought to his mind, he said, a 
prophecy of Knox ; who, not long before his death, 
had predicted great peril to the faithful in the eigh- 
teenth year of the reign of James. 

Elizabeth now recalled Davison from Scotland,^ 

* Sir George TVarrender, MS. vol. B., fol. 59. " A vision [which "] ap- 
peared to Mr David Lindsay, he being in his bed in the house of Blackness, 
in the month of October, 1 584. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Davison to Walsingharo, Sept. 17, 1584. 




and looked anxiously for James' promised ambassador, 
the Master of Gray, whose mission had, as she thought, 
been somewhat suspiciously delayed. But this gave 
her the less anxiety, as she had, in me mean time, 
continued her correspondence with the banished lords ; 
whom, at any moment, she was ready to let loose 
against Arran and the king.* She, at the same time, 
resumed her negotiations with Mary; and this un- 
fortunate princess, who had so often been deluded with 
hopes, which withered in the expected moment of ac- 
complishment, was, at last, induced to believe that the 
blessed period of freedom had arrived. Even Wal- 
singham declared himself pleased with her offers, and 
advised his royal mistress to be satisfied with them. "I* 
Such was the crisis seized by the accomplished villany 
of the Master of Gray, to betray his royal mistress, 
and to enter the service of Elizabeth. Before he threw 
off the mask, he had the effrontery to write to Mary, 
affecting the highest indignation at the suspicions she 
had expressed of his fidelity ; and declaring, that the 
best mode to serve her interests was that which he was 
now following. It was necessary, he said, that the 
young king her son, should, in the first instance, treat 
solely for himself with Elizabeth, and abandon all 
thoughts of "the association 1 ' with his mother. This, 
he affirmed, would disarm suspicion; and James. having 
gained the confidence of the English queen, might be 
able to negotiate for her liberty. But Mary, who was 
already aware of Gray's treachery, from the representa- 
tions of Fontenay the French ambassador, promptly 
and indignantly answered, that any one who proposed 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingliam to Captain Reid, Sept. 23, 
f Sadler Papers by Scott, vol. ii. 


such a separation between her interests and those of 
her son, or who opposed " the association," which was 
almost concluded, must be her enemy, and in that 
light she would regard him. To this Gray returned 
an angry answer, and instantly set off for England.* 
At Berwick, he had a private consultation with 
Hunsdon, whose heart he gained by his sanctimonious 
deportment in the English church, and by the frank- 
ness with which he communicated his instructions. 
His principal object, he declared, was to insist, that 
the banished lords should either be delivered up by 
Elizabeth, or dismissed from her dominions. If this 
were done, or if the queen were ready to pledge her 
word that it should be done, he was prepared, he said, 
to disclose all he knew of the secret plots against her 
person and government; and he would pledge himself, 
that no practice had been undertaken, for the last five 
years, against herself, or her estate, by France, Spain, 
the Scottish queen, or the pope, but she should know 
it, and how to avoid it.-f Gray had been expressly 
ordered by James to hold his confidential communica- 
tions with Burghley alone, and to repose no trust in 
Walsingham, whom the young king regarded as his 
enemy. From Arran he had received the same in- 
junctions ; and nothing could exceed the confidence 
which both monarch and minister seemed disposed to 
place in Cecil. The king paid court to him in a long 
pedantic letter, written wholly in his own hand ; in 
which he discoursed learnedly upon Alexander the 
Great and Homer ; modestly disclaiming any parallel 
between himself and the conqueror of Darius, but ex- 

* Papers of Master of Gray, Bannatyne Club, p. 30-37. 
t Hunsdon to Burgbley, October 19, 1584, Papers of Master of Gray, 
p. 13. 

1584. JAMES VI. 213 

alting Cecil far above such " a blind, begging fellow' 1 
as the Grecian bard. He addressed him as his friend 
and cousin, and assured him, that he considered him- 
self infinitely fortunate in being permitted to confide 
his most secret affairs to such a counsellor ; to whom, 
he was convinced, he already owed all the prosperity 
which hitherto had attended him.* Arran, at the 
same time, wrote in the most flattering and confiden- 
tial terms to Sir Edward Hoby, Burghley's nephew; 
and Hunsdon was requested by James to repair from 
Berwick to the English court, that he might assist in 
their consultations. -f- 

Gray now proceeded to London, and was speedily 
admitted to an audience of Elizabeth. It may be 
necessary, for a moment, to attend to the exact atti- 
tude and circumstances in which this princess now 
stood. She had the party of the banished lords, now 
in England, at her command. Angus, Mar, Lord 
Arbroath the head of the house of Hamilton, Glammis, 
and many other powerful barons, were in constant 
communication with Walsinghana ; their vassals on 
the alert ; the exiled ministers of the Kirk eager to 
join and march along with them. They held them- 
selves ready at her beck ; and she had only to give the 
signal for them to cross the Border and attack Arran, 
to have it instantly obeyed. On the side of Mary, 
this poor captive had been drawn on, by the prospect 
of freedom, to offer the sacrifice of everything which 
belonged to her as an independent princess, and which 
she could give up with honour. By the long-con- 
templated " association " with her son, she had agreed 
to resign the government into his hands, and to re- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, James to Burghley, October 14, 1584. 
t Id. Ibid. 


nounce for ever all connexion with public affairs, were 
she only allowed to live in freedom, with the exercise 
of her religion. Here, then, the Queen of England 
had only to consent ; and, in the opinion of even the 
suspicious Walsingham, she was safe. 

Such was the state of things, when the Master of 
Gray made his proposals from a third party, the 
young king and Arran. From his intimate knowledge 
of the most secret transactions of the Scottish queen 
and the Catholic faction, he was possessed, as he 
affirmed, of information which vitally touched her 
majesty's person and estate.* This he was ready to 
reveal ; but on condition that she would deliver up 
the banished lords, or drive them out of her dominions ; 
break off all treaty with Mary on the subject of the 
association; and advance a large sum of money, in the 
shape of an annual proof of her affection to the young 
king. The first was absolutely necessary; for the 
king his master was animated with the strongest hatred 
of his rebels. The second was equally so ; for Mary's 
liberty was inconsistent with the security of both the 
Queen of England and James ; her unshaken attach- 
ment to the Roman Catholic faith rendering any 
" association " with her son highly dangerous to Eliza- 
beth ; whose efforts ought to be directed to separate 
their interests, and to secure the establishment of a 
government in Scotland under a minister opposed to 
Mary. And here Gray artfully laid the foundation 
of his own rise with Elizabeth, and of Arran's disgrace. 
Arran, he insinuated, was not so deeply devoted to 
her majesty, or so hostile to the Scottish queen as he 
pretended. He was proud, capricious, tyrannical, and 

* Papers of the Master of Gray, p. 13, Hunsdon to Burghley, October 19, 

1584. JAMES VI. 215 

completely venal. The king, too, was in such need 
of money, that Elizabeth would do well to remember 
that his politics, at this time, depended on the supply 
of his purse. If France bid highest, France would 
have both the minister and his master. Arran, too, 
by his pride and extortions, was daily, almost hourly, 
raising up a formidable party against him. None, he 
said, dared to aspire to any interest with the king, 
whom he did not attack and attempt to ruin. Already 
he, the Master of Gray, was the object of his jealousy 
and hatred, for the favour with which the king regarded 
him. All was yet, indeed, smooth and smiling between 
them : but he knew well, this very embassy had been 
given him with the view of separating him from hia 
master. The storm was brewing; but, if Arran tried 
to wreck him as he had done so many others, he might 
chance, proud as he was, to have a fall himself. So 
confident did he feel, he said, in the love of his royal 
master, that, if Elizabeth would grant him her support, 
he was certain he could supplant this insolent favourite, 
gain the young king, unite England and Scotland in 
an indissoluble league, recall the banished lords, over- 
whelm all the secret plots of the Roman Catholics, 
and completely separate Mary and her son. To effect 
all this, however, would require time ; for, on two 
points, the king would be hard to be moved. If the 
exiles came back, they would bring Andrew Melvil 
and the banished ministers of the Kirk along with 
them ; and, at this moment, the very mention of such 
a result, would excite James' determined opposition. 
Elizabeth was highly pleased with this proposal. 
She had long distrusted Arran ; and felt that her best 
security lay in the return of the Protestant lords. 
She was anxious to break off her negotiation with Mar v ; 


but did not like the odium of such a course. The 
blame would be thrown on the King of Scots by Gray's 
plan ; and this she liked much. She knew the unre- 
mitting efforts of France and Spain to gain the young 
king; and felt assured, that her only safeguard would 
be an " association " between her own kingdom and 
Scotland, from which Maryshould be entirely excluded; 
and the basis of which should be the defence of the 
reformed religion against the perpetual attacks of the 
Roman Catholics in Europe. 

There were some circumstances of recent occurrence 
which greatly strengthened her in this course. Father 
Crichton, a Jesuit, happening to be on his voyage to 
Scotland from Flanders, the vessel was chased by 
pirates, and he was observed to tear some papers and 
cast them away. But the wind blew them back into 
the ship: they were picked up, put together, and found 
to contain a proposal for an invasion of England by 
Spain and the Duke of Guise. As one object proposed 
here, and in all such plots, was the delivery of the 
Queen of Scots and the dethronement of Elizabeth, 
their constant recurrence was now m,et by an " Asso- 
ciation " for the protection of the English queen's 
government and life, first proposed by Leicester, and 
eagerly subscribed by persons of all ranks and deno- 
minations. The terms of this association were after- 
wards solemnly approved by parliament, and an act 
passed for the safety of the queen's person. It stated, 
that if any invasion or rebellion should be made in her 
dominions, or any enterprise attempted against her 
person, by or for any person pretending a title to the 
crown after her death, she might, by a commission 
under the Great Seal, constitute a court for the trial 
of such offences, and which should have authority to 

1584. JAMES VI. 217 

pass sentence upon them. It added, that a judgment 
of " Guilty " having been pronounced, it should im- 
mediately be made public ; and that all persons against 
whom such sentence was passed, should be excluded from 
all claim to the crown, and be liable to be prosecuted 
to the death, with their aiders and abettors, by her 
majesty 's subjects.* This league was evidently most 
unjust towards the Scottish queen, as it made her re- 
sponsible, and liable to punishment, for the actions of 
persons over whom she had no control. She saw this ; 
and at once declared that " the association" had no 
other object than indirectly to compass her ruin. But 
if alarming to Mary, it was proportionally gratifying 
to Elizabeth. She persuaded herself that if her sub- 
jects thus united to protect her person, and preserve 
the reformed faith, she ought vigorously to second 
their efforts ; and this inclined her to look graciously 
on Gray. The measures, therefore, proposed by him 
were adopted. It was resolved to undermine Arran, 
as the first step for the restoration of the banished 
lords ; and the other objects, it was trusted, would 
follow. To cooperate with Gray, Sir Edward Wotton 
was chosen to succeed Davison as ambassador in Scot- 
land. He was a man of brilliant wit and insinuating 

* O 

address, a great sportsman, an adept in hunting and 
"wood-craft;" and these qualities, with a present of 
eight couple of the best hounds, and some choice horses, 
would, it was believed, entirely gain the heart of the 
young king. Wotton, too, as we learn from Sir James 
Melvil, was a deep plotter, and capable of the darkest 
designs, whilst to the world he seemed but an elegant, 
light-hearted, and thoughtless man of fashion. 

* Carte, vol. iii. p. 587. 


Having laid these schemes for the ruin of his cap- 
tive sovereign and of Arran his friend, the Master of 
Gray returned to the Scottish court, and received the 
thanks of the king, and his still all-powerful favourite, 
for the success with which he had conducted his nego- 
tiations.* To disarm suspicion, it was judged prudent 
that, for some time, all should go on serenely. Eliza- 
beth wrote in flattering terms to Arran. She, at the 
same time, commanded the banished lords to remove 
from Newcastle into the interior ; -f and, in return for 
this, Gray had the satisfaction of assuring her, that 
he found the king his master in so loving a disposition 
towards her, that he could not feel more warmly were 
he her natural son. He was equally successful in at 
once creating a breach between Mary and James. The 
just and merited contempt with which Fontenay the 
French ambassador had stigmatized Gray's base deser- 
tion of that princess, furnished him with a subject of 
complaint to the king and council ; and he so artfully 
represented the dangerous consequences which must 
follow " an association " between the young king and 
his mother, that it was unanimously resolved it should 
never take place.J 

This was a great point gained ; and to secure further 
success, he implored Elizabeth and her ministers to 
humour James for the present, by entirely casting off 
Angus and the exiled lords ; whose despair was great 
when they found the predicament in which they stood. 
They appealed in urgent terms to Walsingham; de- 

* MS. Letter, Waster of Gray to Elizabeth, January 24, 1584-5.. Ibid., 
Colvile to Walsingham, December 31, 1584. Also, Papers of Master of 
Gray, p. 41, Master of Gray to Walsingham, January 24, 1584-5. 

+ MS. State-paper Office, Colvile to Walsingham, December 31, 1584. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Master of Gray under the title of Le 
Lievreau to Elizabeth. 




clared that even now, if the queen would say the word, 
they would break across the Border, surprise the per- 
son of the king, and chase Arran with ignominy from 
the country. Everything was ready for such an effort, 
and their friends only waited their arrival. But their 
proposal for an irruption was coldly received. Wal- 
singham wrote to them, that her majesty, seeing the 
hard success of the late enterprise at Stirling, was 
doubtful some like plot might have like issue ; and 
preferred a more temperate system of mediation, in 
Scottish affairs, to a more violent course.* The exiles, 
therefore, submitted; and James and Arran, exulting 
in their success, recommenced their persecution of the 

All ministers were compelled, on penalty of depri- 
vation, to subscribe the acts of parliament which estab- 
lished the Episcopal form of government; forbidden to 
hold the slightest intercourse with their brethren who 
had fled for conscience sake ; and even prosecuted if 
they dared to pray for them.-f- This extreme severity 
appears to have been followed by a very general sub- 
mission to the obnoxious acts ; and as it was followed 
up by the removal of the banished lords into the in- 
terior of England, and a prohibition of any Scottish 
minister from preaching, publicly or privately, in that 
realm, the cause was considered at the lowest ebb. A 
letter, written at this time by David Hume, one of 
the exiles, from Berwick, to Mr James Carmichael, a 
recusant brother of the Kirk, gave some details which 
carried sorrow to the hearts of the brave little remnant 
which still stood out against the court. It told, in 
homely, but expressive phrase, that all the ministers 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Colvile, Jan. 10, 1584-5. 
J* Spottiswood, p. 3.%'. 


betwixt Stirling and Berwick, all Lothian, and all 
the Merse, had subscribed, with only ten exceptions; 
amongst whom, the most noted were Patrick Simpson 
and Robert Pont ; that the Laird of Dun, the most 
venerable champion of the Kirk, had so far receded 
from his primitive faith as to have become a pest to 
the ministry in the north; that John Durie, who had 
so long resisted, had ''cracked his curple 1 " 1 * at last, and 
closed his mouth ; that John Craig, so long the coad- 
jutor of Knox, and John Brande, his colleague, had 
submitted; that the pulpits in Edinburgh were nearly 
silent so fearful had been the defection except, said 
he, a very few, who sigh and sob under the cross. His 
own estates, he added, had been forfeited, his wife and 
children beggared ; and yet he might be grateful he 
was alive, though in exile, for at home terror occupied 
all hearts. No man, said he in conclusion, while he 
lieth down, is sure of his life till day.f 

This miserable picture was increased in its horrors 
by the violent proceedings of Arran against all con- 
nected with the banished lords ; by his open contempt 
of the laws, and the shameful venality of his govern- 
ment. His pride, his avarice, his insolence to the 
ancient nobility, and impatience of all who rivalled 
him in the king's affections, made his government in- 
tolerable ; and the Master of Gray, beginning to find 
that he was looked upon with suspicion by this daring 
man, concluded that the moment had come for the 
mortal struggle between them. 

At this time, Sir Edward Wotton, the English am- 

* " Cracked his curple." Curple, Scots ; f. e. crupper ; meaning that the 
crupper had broken, and Durie, saddle and all, had come violently to the 

+ MS. Letter in MS. Calderwood, British Museum, Ayscough, 4736, foL 




bassador, arrived in Edinburgh. He was instructed 
to congratulate James on his wise determination to 
break off " the association " with his mother the cap- 
tive queen ; and to encourage him to enter into a firm 
league with England. The ambassador was also di- 
rected by Elizabeth to hold out to the Scottish king 
good hopes of a pension ; but Walsingham, her prudent 
secretary, advised him not rashly to name the sum set 
down in his instructions, as its small sound might 
rather do harm than good.* As he found opportunity, 
he was to sound the king, also, on the subject of his 
marriage, naming the King of Denmark's daughter ; 
and to assure him, that his deep animosity against the 
banished lords, was, in her opinion, immoderate and 
unjust. Last summer, she said, the Earl of Arran 
had, in his letters to her, accused them of a conspiracy 
against his life; and now, recently, she had investigated 
a similar story brought up by James' ambassador, the 
Justice-clerk : but both tales, in the end, proved so 
weak and groundless, that she had good cause to think 
them maliciously devised to serve some end.-f 

Such were Wotton's open instructions ; and, as he 
seconded all he said by a present of eight couple of 
buckhounds, and brought some noble horses for the 
royal stud, James received him with the youthful 
boisterous delight, which such gifts usually produced 
in the royal mind. But the ambassador had a darker 
and more secret commission. During Gray's late stay 
at the court of England, he had contrived, with the 
approval of Elizabeth and the assistance of Walsing- 
ham, a plot for the destruction of Arran; and Bellen- 

* MS. State-paper Office, Minute, Walsingham to Wotton, May 23, 1585. 
+ MS. State-paper Office, Instructions to Sir Edward Wotton, April, 


den the Justice-clerk, who had recently visited England, 
had been prevailed on by the queen to join it. Wotton 
was now sent down to take the management ; and at 
the moment when he arrived, he found the Master of 
Gray deliberating with his brother conspirators, whether 
it were best to seize and discourt* their enemy, or to 
assassinate him. The Lord Maxwell, now best known 
by the title of Earl of Morton, had joined the plot, 
having a mortal feud with Arran ; and it is not im- 
probable the more violent course would have been 
chosen, when Gray received, by the hands of Wotton, 
a letter from Elizabeth, recommending them to spare 
him. Wotton next day wrote thus to Walsingham : 

" By my letter that myself did deliver to the Master 
of Gray from her majesty, their purpose is altered, at 
her majesty's request, to deal with him by violence ; 
notwithstanding, upon the least occasion that shall be 
offered, they mean to make short work with him."-f- 
Gray, also, on the same day, addressed a letter to the 
English secretary, assuring him, that he would comply 
with the queen's wishes, and not resort to violence, 
except he saw some hazard to his own life. Adding, 
emphatically and truly, as to his own character, "when 
life is gone all is gone to me."| 

In the midst of these intrigues, all was bustle and 
pleasure at the Scottish court. The king hunted, 
feasted, and made progresses to his different palaces, 
and the seats of his nobility. The ambassador, in 
whose society he took much delight, attended him on 
all his expeditions ; occasionally mingling State affairs 

* To discourt; a phrase not unusual in the letters of this time ; meaning 
to banish any minister from the king's presence and councils. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Wotton to AValsingham, May 31, 1585. 

MS. Letter. State-paper Office, Master of Gray to Walsingham, May 
31, 1385. 




with the chase, or the masque, or the banquet; re- 
commending the speedy adjustment of the league 
with Elizabeth ; sounding him lightly on the point 
of his marriage ; touching on the melancholy divisions 
amongst his nobility, which were increased by his con- 
tinued severity to the banished lords ; and sometimes 
adverting, with extreme caution, and in general terms, 
to the delicate subject of the promised pension. To 
the league with England, James showed the strongest 
inclination. It appeared to him, he said, most wise 
and necessary, that the " Confederacy," which had re- 
cently been entered into by the various Roman Catholic 
princes, to prosecute the professors of the reformed 
faith, should be met by a union of the Protestant 
powers in their own defence ; and when the various 
heads of this treaty, transmitted by Walsingham to 
Wotton, were laid before him, they met with his cor- 
dial approbation.* On his marriage, he showed no 
disposition to speak with seriousness ; and Gray as- 
sured Wotton, that to deal lightly in that matter 
would be best policy, his young master having no 
inclination to match himself at this moment. His 
mind was wholly engrossed with his pastime, hunting, 
and his buckhounds. Of this passion, a ludicrous 
outbreak occurred shortly before Wotton's arrival. 
James, at the end of a sharp and successful run, 
calling for a cup of wine, drank to all his dogs ; and, 
in particular, selecting and taking the paw of an old 
hound, named Tell True, who had greatly distin- 
guished himself, he thus apostrophized his favourite : 
" Tell True, I drink to thee above all my hounds ; 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsinsrham, June .5, 1585. 
Ibid., June 7, 1585, Heads of the League. Ibid., Walsingham to Wotton, 
June '27, 1585. Also, Ibid., Thomas Miller to Archibald Douglas, July 8, 


and would sooner trust thy tongue than either Craig 
or the bishop." Craig was the royal chaplain, and 
the prelate, Montgomery bishop of Glasgow. This 
anecdote was reported again to the banished ministers 
of the Kirk; and mourned over more seriously, and 
as pointing to a deeper depravity, than it seems to 
have indicated.* 

Wotton was pleased to find that James continued 
constant in his resolution not to enter into any asso- 
ciation with the captive queen; but, on the other hand, 
there were two subjects on which the young monarch 
was immoveable, his love for Arran, and his enmity 
to the banished Protestant lords and their ministers. 
These were most serious impediments in the way of 
the negotiation; and as the conspirators suspected that 
Arran was already intriguing with France, to traverse 
the league with England, many secret conversations 
took place between the English ambassador and the 
conspirators, as to the propriety of cutting off this 
powerful favourite at once, before he should do more 
mischief. Wotton duly and minutely communicated 
what passed, at such interviews, to Walsingham and 
Elizabeth ; and although the letters are, in many 
places, written in cipher, and wherever the intended 
murder is directly mentioned, the words have been 
partially scored out ; still, fortunately for the truth, 
we have a key to the cipher, and the erasure is often 
legible. Strange and revolting as it may sound to the 
ears of modern jurisconsults, it is nevertheless certain, 
that the Lord Justice-clerk Bellenden, the late ambas- 
sador to England, and the second highest criminal 
judge in the country, promised Wotton to find an 

* Calderwood MS., British Museum, fol. 1528, David Hume to Mr James 
Carmichael, March 20, 1584-5. 



assassin of Arran, if he would engage that his royal 
mistress would protect him. Wotton was much puzzled 
with this, and still more embarrassed when he received 
a private visit from the proposed murderer himself ; 
who figures in his letter as 38, and appears to have 
been Douglas provost of Lincluden.* The English 
ambassador had been carefully warned not to implicate 
Elizabeth, by any promises, but to leave the matter 
to themselves; and as it is curious to observe how, in 
those times, an ambassador informed a Secretary of 
State of an intended assassination, and probed his mind 
as to the encouragement which should be held out, it 
may be interesting to give some short passages of his 
letter to Walsingham. " The Tuesday, in the morn- 
ing, 38 came likewise to me, that used, in effect, the 

same discourse that had done before, all tending 

to a necessity of ; which, for the weal 

of the realms, should be done, so that the doers of it 
have thanks for their labour. I propounded to him, 
whether he might not be better discourted by way of 
justice. ' Yea,' quoth he, ' worthily for twenty offen- 
ces ; but the king will not admit such proceedings. 1 * 
Then I asked if 20 [Morton] might not attempt it, 
seeing he was already engaged ; but that, for want of 
secrecy, he said, and distance, was full of danger. At 
last I perceived, by his speech, that himself was to do 
it. * * * The thing he requires, as he saith, is 
to have thanks for his labours, and for his good affec- 
tion he bears to her majesty': and if he fortune to 
despatch it, that he be relieved with some money, to 
support him in the estate of a gentleman, till he were 
able to recover the king^s favour again ; and this I 
trust, quoth he, 14 [the Earl of Leicester] and 15 [Mr 

* MS. Letter, Wotton to Walsingham, June 9, 1585. Caligula, C. viii. fol. 109. 


Secretary] will not deny. In general speeches, I told 
him that your honours were personages that had him 
in special recommendation. * * * I told him I 
would make relation of this matter to your honours : 
and he said he would write himself to Mr Secretary ; 
and so praying me, if I did write aught, to commit his 
name to cipher, we departed." * This is a very shock- 
ing picture ; but the quiet way in which the intended 
murderer of Arran talked of his projected deed, is, 
perhaps, less abhorrent than Wotton's own words to the 
Justice-clerk, when this dignitary of the law pleaded 
the necessity of cutting him off, and offered to provide 
the man to do it. " I paused a while, (so Wotton 
wrote to Walsingham,) and, remembering that I had 
no commission to persuade them, or animate therein, 
further than they saw cause themselves, specially in 
things of this nature, I durst not promise aught to 
encourage them ; and therefore told him, that I wist 
not what to say to the matter. To move her majesty 
I would not ; neither did I think it fit for her to 
hear of it beforehand : to abuse them I would not ; 
only, for mine own part. I was commanded to in- 
crease their credit with the king so long as I abode 
here. * * I wished rather, if it might be, to have 
him discourted. * * * In the end, to be quit 
of him, (for, to be plain with your honour, I found 
myself in a great strait and desire not to be ac- 
quainted with the matter ; which, if it must be done, 
I wished rather to have been done ere I came hither,) 
I asked what opinion 38 [the provost] had hereof, and 
wished him to confer with him, which he said he would, 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. viii. fol. 195, Wotton to 
Walsingham, June 1, 1585. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Wotton 
to Walsingham, July 29, 1585. 

1585. JAMES VI. 227 

and departed." * With SS^s opinion, and offer, in his 
own person, to finish the business, we are already 
acquainted. But it is needless to get farther involved 
in the meshes of this conspiracy, from which Arran 
escaped, at this time, by his own vigilance and the 
coldness of the ambassador, who would fain have en- 
sured the profits of success, without the responsibility 
of failure. 

In the mean time, Wotton had completely succeeded 
in the principal and avowed object of his mission. 
James had determined that the proposed league be- 
tween England and his kingdom, for the defence of 
religion, should be concluded. He had revised and 
amended the various articles ; and, with the view of 
bringing forward the subject, had assembled a conven- 
tion of his nobility at St Andrew's, when an event 
occurred, which threatened to throw all into confusion. 
This was the slaughter of Lord Russell in a Border 
affray, which took place at a meeting, or day of truce, 
as it was called, between Sir John Foster and Ker of 
Fernyhirst, the Wardens of the Middle Marches, -f- 
There is good reason to believe that this unfortunate 
affair was wholly unpremeditated, for so Foster himself 
declared in his letter written to Walsingham the day 
after; J but, as Fernyhirst happened to be the intimate 
friend of Arran, it instantly occurred to the crafty 
diplomacy of the English secretary, and Wotton the 
ambassador, that a good handle was given by the 
death of Russell, to procure the disgrace of this hated 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, fol. 195. Caligula, C. viii. June 1, 1585. 

+ July 28. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Sir John Foster to Walsingham, 
July 28. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, July 31, 1585, 
St Andrew's. 


minister. Foster, therefore, was directed to draw up 
a paper, the purport of which was to show that the 
attack had been preconcerted ; * and Wotton did not 
scruple to declare to the young king, that one of the 
bravest noblemen of England had been murdered by 
the contrivance of Arran and Fernyhirst. 

James, who was cast down at this interruption of 
the league, and unprepared for the violence of Wotton, 
could not conceal or command his feelings, but shed 
tears like a child : protested his own innocence ; and 
wished all the lords of the Borders dead, provided 
Lord Russell were alive again. Nor were these mere 
words : Arran was imprisoned in the castle of St 
Andrew's ; Fernyhirst was threatened to be sent to 
stand his trial in England ; and a strict investigation 
into the whole circumstances of the alleged murder 
took place. But the result rather evinced the inno- 
cence, than established the guilt of Fernyhirst. Arran, 
meanwhile, bribed the Master of Gray, who procured 
his imprisonment at St Andrew's to be exchanged for 
a nominal confinement to his own castle at Kinneil ; 
and this scheme, for the ruin of the court favourite, 
bid fair, by its unexpected result, to reestablish his 
influence over the young king, and increase his power.-}- 

All this fell heavily on Wotton and Walsingham. 
Arran had resumed his intrigues with France; it was 
believed that he had adopted the interests of the im- 
prisoned queen ; who, as we shall immediately see, was 

* MS. State-paper Office, B.C., Sir John Foster's Reasons to prove that 
the murder of Lord Russell was intended. This paper probably misled 
Camden, who gives an exaggerated account of the whole dispute. Kennet, 
vol. ii. p. 505. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, July 29 and 
30, 1585 ; also ibid., same to same, August 6, and 7, 1585, St Andrew's ; 
and ibid., August 13, 1585, same to same ; and ibid., August li), 1585, same 
to same; and ibid., August 21, 1585, same to same. 




now busily engaged in organizing that great plot for 
the invasion of England and her own delivery from 
captivity, which was known by the name of Babing- 
ton's conspiracy. At the same moment Burghley and 
Walsingham, who, by intercepting Mary's letters, had 
discovered her designs against their royal mistress, 
were occupied in weaving those toils around Mary, and 
possessing themselves of those proofs of her guilt, by 
which they trusted to bring her to the scaffold. It 
was to them, therefore, of the utmost consequence, that 
the league between England and Scotland should be 
concluded before they made their great effort against 
Mary ; that the young king should be bound to Eliza- 
beth by ties for mutual defence and the maintenance 
of the established religion ; and that Arran, and French 
interests and intrigues, should not repossess their power 
over his mind. Yet the only counterpoise to Arran, 
in James' affections, lay in the Master of Gray, their 
great tool and partisan ; and he had betrayed them. 
There could not be a doubt that Arran owed to him 
his late deliverance from prison. Gray had proved 
false, too, at the critical moment when he was privy 
to all their schemes against this favourite ; so that it 
became equally hazardous to trust him or to throw him 
off. What, then, was to be done ? It was necessary 
to act rapidly to act decidedly; and yet it was 
almost impossible for Elizabeth's ministers to make a 
single move against Arran without the fear of failure. 
From this difficulty they were delivered by the fertile 
brain and flagitious principles of the very man who 
had so recently betrayed them the Master of Gray. 
He, too, had his misgivings as to the insecurity of the 
ground on which he stood, and in his dilemma sought 
the advice of Archibald Douglas, now in banishment 


in England, the intimate friend of Walsingham, and 
equally familiar with the party of the exiled lords and 
the expatriated ministers of the Kirk ; who, since the 
fall of Morton, had found a retreat in England. To 
this man, who had been stained by the murder of 
Darnley ; and, since then, engaged in innumerable 
plots, sometimes for, and sometimes against the queen- 
mother Gray addressed a singular letter, which yet 
remains, in which he laid open his secret heart, and 
required his advice, as the friend he loved best in the 
world. He told him frankly that the Queen of Eng- 
land had deserted and almost ruined him. It was by 
her advice, and relying upon her promises of support, 
that he had matched himself against Arran ; that he 
had sought Arran's life, and Arran his ; and now that 
he was reduced to a strait, where were all her promises ? 
To continue to deal frankly with her was impossible ; 
and must lead to his overthrow. What parties, then, 
were left to be embraced? Arran, the imprisoned 
queen, the French politics, the Roman Catholic in- 
terests in Europe ? This was impossible : Arran, 
although obliged to him for his recent escape, was the 
falsest of men, and never to be long trusted ; Arran 
knew, too, that he would have taken his life. As to 
the Scottish queen, he (Gray) could never hope to be 
trusted by Mary after deserting her ; and his perfidy 
was perfectly known to the whole body of the Catholics. 
One party only remained, by uniting himself with 
which a revolution might be effected in Scotland : the 
party of the banished lords, and their expatriated 
friends, the ministers of the Kirk. If Angus, Mar, 
and the Master of Glammis, could make up their dif- 
ferences with their exiled brethren, Lords Claud and 
John Hamilton, with whom they were still at feud, and 




unite in invading Scotland, there would be little doubt 
of a strong diversion in their favour. To them, Gray 
said, he would promise all his influence ; it might 
happen, too, that he would find means to rid them of 
Arran ; but as to this he would make no stipulation. 
Yet, if the deed could still be done so secretly, that 
his knowledge of the M doer" should not be suspected, 
he would still make the attempt. At all events, they 
should be joined by Bothwell and Lord Hume ; and 
he could promise, also, he thought, for Cessford. He 
concluded his letter, by assuring Douglas that this 
was the only plan left, which had the slightest likeli- 
hood of success; that if the exiled noblemen were ever 
to make the attempt, now was the time when he would 
promise them they should muster, at least, two to one 
against their enemies ; and he ended his letter with 
these emphatic words : Persuade yourself, if the ban- 
ished lords come down, the king shall either yield, or 
leave Scotland.* 

This new plot was readily embraced by the outlawed 
lords and the ministers of the Kirk, and warmly en- 
couraged by Wotton, the English ambassador, who 
immediately communicated it to Walsingham, in a 
letter from Dumbarton, whither he had accompanied 
the young king upon a hunting party. The Master 
of Gray had sought him out, he said, and informed him, 
that he was now convinced they had run all this while 
a wrong course, in seeking to disgrace Arran with the 
king, whose love towards him was so extreme, that 
he would never suffer a hair of his head to fall to the 
ground, if he might help it. It was evident, he con- 
tinued, that as long as Arran should remain in favour 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. viii. fol. 222, Master of Gray 
to Archibald Douglas, August 14, 1585. 


with the king, it would be impossible to bring home 
the lords by fair means : that, unless they might be 
restored, the league could neither be sure, nor the 
Master of Gray, and the rest of his party, in safety. 
For Arran, recovering the king's person, would be able, 
with his credit, to ruin them, and divert the king from 
the queen ; or, finding his affection towards her irre- 
moveable, would not stick to convey him into France. 
Wotton then proceeded to inform Walsingham of 
Gray's new plot. It was the advice, he said, of this 
experienced intriguer, that her majesty, having so good 
occasion ministered by the death of my Lord Russell, 
should pretend to take the matter very grievously, and 
refuse to conclude the league for this time. She might 
then let slip the lords, (meaning Angus and his asso- 
ciates,) who, with some support of money, and their 
friends in Scotland, might take Arrau, and seize on 
the king's person ; in which exploit Gray promised 
them the best aid he and his faction could give. Gray 
added, that if Walsingham found this overture well 
liked at the English court, he would direct a special 
friend of his and the exiled lords, very shortly into 
England, who might confer with Angus and the rest 
about the execution of the plot. This (continued 
Wotton, addressing Walsingham) was the effect of 
Gray's whole speech, saving that, in the end, he said, 
in answer of an objection I made, that he would under- 
take this thing, being alone, to bring the league to a 
perfect conclusion.* 

This letter was written on the twenty-fifth of Au- 
gust ; and so actively did Gray proceed with his plot, 

* State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, Dumbarton, August 25, 
158.5. This letter is written partly in cipher ; hut I quote it from the con- 
temporary decipher written above each character or number. 




that, within a week after, it had assumed a more serious 
shape. In Scotland he had gained the Earl of Mor- 
ton, formerly Lord Maxwell, a powerful Border baron, 
who had been suspected to be in the interest of Arran. 
In England, not only Angus, Mar, Glammis, and 
their friends, were secured as actors, but also the Lords 
Claud and John Hamilton, the mortal enemies of Arran, 
who had remained in banishment since the year 1579, 
when they were forfeited for the murder of the Regents 
Moray and Lennox. These two noblemen agreed to 
a reconciliation with Angus and his party, with whom 
they had been at feud, and determined to unite against 

Wotton, the English ambassador, lent to all this his 
active assistance ; and his letters to Walsingham, which 
are still preserved, present us with an interesting pic- 
ture of the growth of the conspiracy.* Some time 
before this, the Earl of Morton, who was Warden of 
the West Borders, and whom few noblemen in Scotland 
could surpass in military power and experience, had 
incurred the resentment of the king by an attack upon 
the Laird of Johnston, in which he slew Captain Lam- 
mie, who commanded a company of the royal forces 
which James had sent to reinforce Johnston. This 
enraged the king, who, by the advice of Arran, deter- 
mined to lead an army against the insurgent ; -f- and 
at this crisis of personal danger, overtures being made 
to Morton, he, to secure his safety, readily embraced 
the offers of Gray, and joined the conspiracy. | This 

* State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, September 1, 1585. This 
letter is greatly defaced, by some person having erased the proper names 
and emphatic words ; but enough is left to show the nature of the plot, and 
the full approval of Wotton. Also, State-paper Office, same to same. 

+ State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, September 30, 15?>5. 

Historic of James the Sext, pp. 212, 213. State-paper Office, Wotton 
to Walsingham, September 30, 1585, Stirling. 


was a great point gained, and gave the utmost satis- 
faction to Wotton and Walsingham, to whom it was 
immediately communicated.* 

But although nothing could exceed the activity and 
talent (if we may use this term) of Gray and Wotton, 
in the management of this plot, their efforts were 
counteracted by the coldness and delays of Elizabeth, 
and the reviving influence of Arran. This nobleman, 
still nominally confined to his house at Kinneil, on 
the charge of being accessary to Lord Russell's death, 
was yet daily recovering his power over the king's 
mind ; and it was now well known that, having been 
deceived and thrown off by Elizabeth, he had embraced 
the interests of France, from which government he had 
recently received a large supply of money. ^ Under 
his protection, Holt, Dury, and Bruce, three noted 
Jesuits, were secretly harboured in Scotland, J and 
busily engaged in intrigues for the restoration of the 
queen-mother, and the reestablishment of the Roman 
Catholic faith. Nor was this all. Arran, as we 
have already seen, could organize plots, and frame 
secret schemes for surprise and assassination, as well 
as his enemies. He had been too early educated in 
the sanguinary and unscrupulous policy of these times 
not to be an adept in such matters ; and whilst Gray 
and Wotton were weaving their meshes round him, 
they knew that counter-plots were being formed against 
themselves, of the existence of which they were certain, 
although they could not detect the agents. The two 
great factions into which the State of Scotland was 

* State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, September 30, 1585, Stirling. 

f" Orig. State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, September 4, 1585, 
Stirling. Also, same to same, August 21, 1585. 

1 Id. Ibid. 

Orig. State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, Stirling, September 
18, 1585. 




divided, were ihus mutually on their guard, and jea- 
lously watching each other ; both armed, both intent 
on their dark purposes, busy in gaining partisans and 
in anticipating the designs of their opponents ; so that 
it seemed a race who should soonest spring the mine 
which was to overwhelm and destroy their adversary. 
In such circumstances, nothing could be more pain- 
ful and precarious than the situation of Wotton, the 
English ambassador. He knew, and repeatedly wrote 
to Walsingham, that his life was in danger. His 
intrigues had been partially discovered by Arran. 
Colonel Stewart, the brother of that nobleman, and 
Captain of the Royal Guard, had upbraided him for 
his perfidy before the king ; and although the ambas- 
sador gave him the lie on the spot, the truth was too 
well known for any to be deceived by this bravado.* 
It was under the influence of such feelings that he 
thus addressed Walsingham : " Though ye in Eng- 
land be slow in resolving, Arran and his faction sleep 
not out their time : for they are now gathering all 
the forces they can make, and, within three or four 
days, Arran meaneth to come to the court, and to 
possess himself of the king, in despite of the Queen of 
England, as he saith ; which, if he do, I mean to retire 
myself to the Borders for the safety of my life, whereof 
I am in great danger, as my friends which hear the 
Stewarts 1 threatenings daily advertise me. Your Hon- 
our knoweth what a barbarous nation this is, and how 
little they can skill of points of honour. Where every 
man carrieth a pistol at his girdle, (as here they do,) 
it is an easy matter to kill one out of a window or door, 
and no man able to discover who did it. Neither doth 
it go for payment with those men to say, I am an 

* State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, September 22, 1585. 


ambassador, and therefore privileged ; for even their 
regents and kings have been subject to their violence. 

" This notwithstanding, (he continued,) I would not 
be so resolute to depart, if, by my tarrying, I might 
do her majesty any service. But I find the king so 
enchanted by Arran, and myself so hated of him, as 
I cannot hope to negotiate to any purpose so long as 
Arran shall be in court. If (he added) the Queen of 
England would send down the lords, they will be able 
to work wonders here, and to remedy all inconvenients. 
If the Queen of England do it not, this country will 
be clean lost, and all her friends wrecked. Other hope 
to England than in them, I see none ; the king being 
young and easily carried, and most about him either 
Papists or Atheists."* In a second letter, written to 
Walsingham on the same day, Wotton added this 
emphatic paragraph : 

" The Master of Gray,f through our long English 
delay, findeth himself driven to a great strait. For 
the king presseth him greatly to meet with Arran, 
and threateneth, that, unless he do it, he shall have 
just cause to suspect him. But the Master assureth 
me he will, by one means or other, avoid it, and will 
hold good these fourteen days. Therefore, what ye 
will do, must be speedily done. 

" I am not, for my own part, (he added,) the great- 
est favourer of [violent courses,] and, therefore, have 
hitherto rather related other men's speeches, and opin- 
ions than given my advice. But now matters frame 
so overthwartly, as I must needs conclude, that no 
good can be done here, but by the [way] of ; j 

* State-paper Office, September 22, 1 585. Stirling, Wotton to Walsingham. 

(- Scored, but tolerably clear. 

Ciphers occur here. The word was probably " violence." 




which being used, you may bring even the proudest of 
us to [cry*] for misericorde on our knees." { 

All was now ripe for execution of the plot. Morton 
had been gained, and his force was in readiness on the 
Border. Angus, Mar, and Glammis, with their friends, 
had, by the mediation of the banished ministers, been 
reconciled to the Lords Claud and John Hamilton. 
The Master of Gray, in the mean time, remained at 
court, and played into the hands of his brother con- 
spirators ; watching his opportunities, taking every 
advantage against the opposite faction ; communicat- 
ing, through Wotton and Archibald Douglas, with 
the exiled lords and the ministers ; and keeping up 
an intercourse with Morton by the Provost of Lin- 
cludeu, a Douglas, t It was this same fierce partisan, 
who, in the former conspiracy, had been pitched upon 
to put Arran to death ; and, as Gray had declared 
to Douglas, his resolution to " essay" the same again, 
if it could be quietly and secretly achieved, it is not 
improbable that the provost may have been again 
engaged to further the cause by assassinating this 
hated person. Such being the ripeness of all things, 
Wotton, who still remained at the Scottish court, 
although in daily danger of his life, wrote hastily to 
Walsingham, on the fifth of October, assuring him, 
that the king had resolved to send his forces against 
Morton, before the twentieth of October, and would 
probably lead them in person. Arran, he added, was 
to be liberated ; and if the lords meant to surprise 

* I put [cry] in brackets, as the word is not clear in the original. 

t State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, September 22, 1585, Stirling. 

J State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, September 30, 1585, Stir- 
ling. Also, another letter, written on the same day, from the same to the 

MS. Letter, Wotton to Walsingham, June 9, 1585, Caligula, C. viii. 


him, and strike the blow with any hope of success, 
it must be done instantly. * 

These arguments had the desired effect; and Elizabeth, 
being assured that no time was to be lost, commanded 
her ambassador to require an audience of the King of 
Scots, and make a peremptory demand for the delivery 
into her hands of Ker of Fernyhirst, whom she stig- 
matized as the murderer of Lord Russell. It was 
certain that this would be refused ; and her object was 
to afford a pretext for the retirement of Wotton from 
the Scottish court, at the moment when the conspiracy, 
which he had organized with such persevering activity, 
was to take effect.-f- But matters framed themselves 
otherwise. Early in October, the banished lords, 
Angus, Mar, and the Master of Glammis, who were 
then in London, received Elizabeth's permission to set 
out on their enterprise ; but by the advice of the 
ministers of the Kirk, their companions in exile, they 
first held an exercise of humiliation at Westminster, 
and, with many tears, (so writes the historian of the 
Kirk,) besought God to strengthen their arm, and 
grant them success against their enemies. J They 
then set forward, accompanied by their ministers, Mr 
Andrew Melvil, Mr Patrick Galloway, and Mr Wal- 
ter Balcanquel ; and pressing forward to Berwick, met 
there with the Hamiltons and their forces. 

These movements could not be concealed ; and the 
tidings flying quickly into Scotland, became known 
to the king and the English ambassador at the same 
moment. It was a stirring and remarkable crisis. 
James, by this time, was fully aware of the intrigues 

* State-paper Office, Wotton to Walsingham, October 5, 1585, Stirling, 
t Copy, State-paper Office, October 12, 1585, Wotton to Walsingham. 
Also, draft, October 11, 1585, Walsingham to Wotton. 
J Calderwood, MS. Hist., Ayscough, 4736, fol. 1545. 

1 585. JAMES VI. 239 

of Wotton ; and resolving to make him a hostage for 
his own security, gave orders to seize the ambassador 
in his house, and carry him with the army, which 
was then on the point of marching against Morton. 
Wotton, however, received intimation of his danger. 
At night-fall he threw himself upon a fleet horse ; 
galloped to Berwick, and, from that city, wrote in 
much agitation to Walsingham and the queen ; de- 
claring that he had been plunged into the greatest 
difficulty by the reports of the advance of the lords ; 
that he knew the king meant to arrest him, and that 
he had preferred rather to flee from Scotland, and peril 
her majesty's displeasure, than to remain and thus 
bring ruin upon the common cause.* 

All was now confusion at court. Arran, breaking 
from his ward, hurried from Kinneil to court, and 
rushing into the young king's presence, declared that 
the banished lords were already in Scotland, and 
rapidly coming forward with their forces ; accused the 
Master of Gray as the author of the whole conspi- 
racy, and urged James to send for him instantly and 
put him to death. -f- Gray was then absent from court, 
raising his friends in Perthshire, and was thrown into 
perplexity and agitation on receiving the king's mes- 
sage. If he disobeyed it, he dreaded the overthrow 
of the plot, and the retreat of Angus and his friends ; 
if he returned to court, he cast himself within the toils 
of his mortal enemy Arran. Yet choosing the boldest, 
which in such a crisis is generally the most successful 
course, he braved the peril, rode back to court, entered 
the royal presence, defended himself from the accusa- 
tion, and was so graciously received, that Arran and 

* State-paper Office, October 15, 1585, Berwick, Wotton to Elizabeth ; 
same to Walsingham. 
t Relation of the Master of Gray, by Bannatyne Club, p. 59. 



his faction had determined, as their last hope, to stab 
him even in the king's presence,* when a messen- 
ger arrived in fiery haste, with the news that the 
advanced parties of the banished lords had been seen 
within a mile of Stirling. They had first met at Kelso, 
separated to raise their men, concentrated their whole 
troops at Falkirk on the thirty-first October, and, 
from this, marched towards that city at the head of 
eight thousand men. To resist such a force would 
have been absurd. Arran knew that his head was 
the only mark they shot at ; that he was surrounded 
by enemies within as well as without the town ; and 
that his life was not safe for a moment. As the only 
resource left him, therefore, he fled secretly from Stir- 
ling, accompanied by a single horseman. His retreat 
was followed by the instant occupation and plunder of 
the town by Angus and his forces ; whilst Montrose, 
Crawford, and the other lords of the opposite faction, 
threw themselves, as their last resource, into the 
castle ; which (to use the Master of Gray^s own ex- 
pression) was in a manner crammed full of great 
personages with the king some friends, some ene- 
mies.-f- Preparations for a siege were now commenced ; 
and the lords had already set up their banners against 
the " spur," or principal bastion, when the king sent 
out the Master of Gray with a flag of truce, to demand 
the cause of their coming. They replied, it was to 
offer their duty to his majesty, and kiss his hands : to 
which it was answered, that the king was not at that 
moment solicitous of an interview ; but if they would 
retire for a brief space, their lands and honours should 
be restored. Still, however, they insisted on a personal 

* Relation of the Master of Gray, by Bannatyne Club, p. 59. 
t Ibid. p. 60. 

1585. JAMES vi. 241 

interview, and James declared his readiness to agree 
to it on three conditions : safety to his own person ; 
no innovation to be made in the State ; and an assur- 
ance for the lives of such persons as he should name. 
To the two first they instantly consented ; to the last, 
they replied, that as they were the injured persons, 
and their enemies were about the king, they must, for 
their own security, have them delivered into their 
hands, with the castles and strengths of the realm.* 
This negotiation, which was conducted by Gray, the 
arch-contriver of the whole plot, could only terminate 
in one way. James was forced to submit : the gates 
were opened, the Earls of Montrose, Crawford, and 
Rothes, with Lord Down, Sir William Stewart, and 
others, made prisoners ; and the banished lords con- 
ducted into the king's presence. On their admission, 
they fell on their knees ; and Lord Arbroath, the 
head of the house of Hamilton, taking precedency from 
his near alliance to the crown, entreated his majesty's 
gracious acceptance of their duty, and declared that 
they were come in the most humble manner to solicit 
his pardon. It was strange to see men who, a few 
hours before, with arms in their hands, had dictateo. 
terms of submission to their sovereign, now sue so 
submissively for mercy : but the scene was well acted 
on both sides ; and James, an early adept in hypocrisy, 
performed his part with much address. 

" My lord," said he to Hamilton, " I never saw you 
before ; but you were a faithful servant of the queen 
my mother, and of all this company have been the 
most wronged. But for the rest of you, (casting his 
glance over the circle on their knees,) if you have been 

* Relation of the Master of Gray. Papers of the Master of Gray, printed 
Ly Bannatyne Club, p. CO. 



exiles, was it not your own fault? And as for you, 
Francis, (he continued, turning to Bothwell,) who has 
stirred up your unquiet spirit to come in arms against 
your prince? When did I ever wrong thee! To you 
all, who I believe meant no harm to my person, I am 
ready, remembering nothing that is past, to give my 
hand and heart; on one condition, however, that you 
carry yourselves henceforth as dutiful subjects."* 

This interview was followed by measures which 
showed that these apparently submissive lords were 
not disposed to lose their opportunity. Arran was 
proclaimed a traitor at the market-place, and in the 
king's name ; the royal guard altered, and its command 
given to the Master of Glammis ; the castle of Dum- 
barton delivered to Lord Arbroath ; that of Edinburgh 
to Coldingknowes ; Tantallon to Angus ; and Stirling 
to Mar. On the same day, a pacification and remis- 
sion was published in favour of the exiles, who now 
ruled everything at their pleasure. All faults were 
solemnly forgiven ; and the whole of the measures lately 
carried into effect with such speed and success, declared 
to be done for the king's service. "f 

Immediately after the seizure of Stirling, the Master 
of Gray communicated the entire success of the plot 
to the English court, by letters to the queen herself, 
Archibald Douglas, and Secretary Walsingham. He 
assured the English secretary, that the banished men 
were in as good favour as they ever enjoyed: nothing 
was now required but that Elizabeth should send an 
ambassador, and the intended league between the two 
kingdoms would be concluded without delay. J The 

* Spottiswood, pp. 342, 343. 

+ Relation of the Master of Gray, p. 61. 

I State-paper Office, Master of Gray to Walsingham, November C, 1585, 

1585. JAMES VI. 243 

queen, accordingly, despatched Sir William Knolles, 
who had audience at Lithgow on the twenty-third 
November, and was received by James with much 
courtesy. The king professed himself to be entirely 
at her majesty's devotion ; declared he was ready to 
join in league with England, both in matters of reli- 
gion and civil policy; and that although at first offended 
at the sudden invasion of Angus and his friends, he 
was now satisfied that they sought only their own 
restitution, and, indeed, had found them so loving and 
obedient, that he had rather reason to bless God so 
great a revolution had been effected without bloodshed, 
than to regret anything that had happened. Knolles, 
too, as far as he had an opportunity of judging, con- 
sidered these declarations sincere. He observed no 
distrust on the part either of the lords or their sove- 
reign. They kept no guard round him, but suffered 
him to hunt daily with a moderate train ; and as Arran 
had fled to the west coast, and Montrose, Crawford, 
and the rest of that party were in custody, no fear of 
change or attack, seemed to be entertained.* 

Such was Knolles 1 opinion ; although, in the end of 
his letter, he hinted that the king might dissemble 
according to his custom ; a suspicion which next day 
seemed to have increased.^ Apparently, however, 
these misgivings were without foundation ; for a par- 
liament assembled shortly after at Linlithgow, in which 
it was unanimously resolved that there should be a 
strict league concluded with Elizabeth.^ On this 

* State-paper Office, Mr William Knolles to Walsingham, Lithgow, 
November 23, 1585. 

t State-paper Office, Knolles to Walsingham, Lithgow, Nov. 24, 1585. 

J State-paper Office, certified copy of the Act of Parliament authorizing 
the King of Scots to make league with the Queen's Majesty of England, 
December \Q, 1585. 


occasion, the king, if we may judge from his address to 
the three Estates, expressed extraordinary devotedness 
to England, and the most determined hostility to the 
Koman Catholics. He alluded to the confederating 
together of the " bastard Christians," (to use his own 
words,) meaning, as he said, the Papists, in a league, 
which they termed holy, for the subversion of true 
religion in all realms through the whole world. These 
leagues, he observed, were composed of Frenchmen 
and Spaniards, assisted with the money of the King 
of Spain and the pope, and must be resisted, if Pro- 
testants had either conscience, honour, or love of them- 
selves. To this end, he was determined, he said, to 
form a counter-league, in which he was assured all 
Christian princes would willingly join ; and as the 
Queen of England was not only a true Christian 
princess, but nearest to them of all others, in consan- 
guinity, neighbourhood, and goodwill, it was his fixed 
resolution to begin with her.* To second this, the 
king despatched Sir William Keith with a friendly 
message to the English queen ; requesting her to send 
down an ambassador, by whose good offices the pro- 
posed treaty might be carried into effect : -f- and Ran- 
dolph, whose veteran experience in Scottish diplomacy 
was considered as peculiarly qualifying him for such 
an errand, was intrusted with the negotiation. He 
arrived in Edinburgh on the twenty-sixth February, 
having been met at Musselburgh, six miles from the 
capital, by the Justice-clerk, and a troop of forty or 
fifty gentlemen, many of them belonging to the royal 

* Copy, State-paper Office, the Scottish king's Speech concerning a League 
in Religion with England. 

f- State-paper Office, Randolph to AValsingham, February 24, 1585-6, 

1585-6. JAMES VI. 245 

The English ambassador was prepared ^o find his 
mission one of no easy execution ; * for in the interval 
between the parliament at Lithgow and his arrival at 
court, the fair prospects anticipated by Gray and 
Knolles had become clouded. An ambassador had 
been sent from France, and was reported to have 
brought with him a freight of French crowns. Holt 
the Jesuit, and other brethren of that order, were still 
secretly harboured in the north, supported by Huntley, 
Montrose, Crawford, and other nobles of the Roman 
Catholic faith; the agents of the queen-mother were 
busy with their intrigues both in Scotland and in Eng- 
land ; and Morton, that powerful baron, whose union 
with Angus and the Hamiltons had so recently turned 
the scale against Arran, presuming upon his recent 
success, openly professed the Roman Catholic faith, 
and caused Mass to be celebrated in the provost church 
of Lincluden.-f- 

All these were ominous appearances; and although 
James had instantly summoned Morton, and impri- 
soned him in Edinburgh castle, yet the king was 
known to be so great a dissembler that few trusted 
his professions. 

Randolph had been instructed by his royal mistress 
to congratulate the monarch upon the quiet state of 
his realm ; to express her willingness to proceed with 
the treaty, for a firm and lasting religious league be- 
tween the two kingdoms, which had been interrupted; 
and to warn him against the intrigues of France. He 
was also to require the delivery of Fernyhirst, who, 
she still insisted, was guilty of the murder of Lord 

* Copy, State-paper Office, Roger Ash ton to (as I conjecture) Walsing- 
ham, January 17, 1585-6. 

t Spottiswood, p. 344. Copy, State-paper Office, Roger Ashton to Wal- 
singham, January 17, 1585-P. 


Russell ; to urge James to prosecute Morton for his 
late audacious contempt of the law; to advise the 
severest measures againt Arran, who still lurked in 
the west of Scotland ; and to insist on the delivery of 
Holt, Brereton, and other Jesuits; or, at least, to their 
banishment from his dominions. In return for all this, 
should it be faithfully performed, Elizabeth declared 
her readiness to fix a yearly pension on the king, and 
to grant a solemn promise, under her hand and seal, 
that she would permit no measures to be brought for- 
ward against any title he might pretend to the succes- 
sion to the English crown.* 

On being admitted to an audience, which took place 
the third day after his arrival, Randolph, at first, 
found nothing but smiles and fair weather at court. 
The king assured him, that he felt himself bound to 
the queen his mistress, as strictly as if she were his 
own sister ; that he esteemed her advice the best he 
could possibly receive, and meant, God willing, to fol- 
low it."f Having spoken this so loud, that most that 
stood by could hear it, James, entering into more 
private talk, told him of the arrival of the French 
ambassador, and spoke slightingly of his youth and 
ignorance of Scotland and Scotsmen. This led to 
some remarks on the house of Guise, and the intrigues 
of the Jesuits ; to which the king answered, he had 
but one God to serve ; and as for the Papists, that 
Morton himself, and some others, would be arraigned 
within a few days. Before the audience was concluded, 
Randolph exhibited a little packet, " curiously sealed 
and made up," which he gallantly pressed to his lips, 

* Original draft, State-paper Office, principal points of Mr Randolph's 

j- MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Randolph to (Walsingham ? ) 

March 2, 1585-6. 

1585-6. JAMES vi. 247 

and delivered to the young monarch. It was a private 
letter from Elizabeth, which James, stepping aside, 
read with every appearance of devotion ; and, placing 
it in his bosom, declared that all his good sister's desires 
should be fulfilled.* 

These fair professions, however, were not fully to be 
trusted; for Randolph, in a subsequent conversation 
with Secretary Maitland and Bellenden the Justice- 
clerk, became aware that great offers had been made 
to the young king by France; and that, although the 
royal hand was, as yet, uncontaminated by French 
gold, the court necessities were so urgent, that it was 
not certain how long this magnanimity might continue. 
These counter intrigues, however, were for the present 
defeated; and the ambassador, with great address, pro- 
cured the king's signature to the league with England, 
and sent Thomas Milles his assistant and secretary to 
present it to Elizabeth for her ratification.-f- Milles 
was, at the same time, instructed to warn the English 
queen to have special care, at that moment, of her own 
person ; and to reveal the particulars of a conspiracy 
against her, which was then hatching in Scotland. On 
this delicate point the ambassador wrote, both to Burgh- 
ley and Walsingham : but he referred simply to Milles' 
verbal report, and added to the English secretary this 
ominous sentence: "The men, and, perchance, the 
women, are yet living, and their hearts and minds all 
one, that devised or procured the devilish mischiefs 
that hitherto, by God's providence, she hath escaped. 
You have heard, both out of Spain and France, what 
is to be doubted out of the Low Countries. I have 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office. Randolph to (Walsingham?) 

March 2, 1585-6. 

+ State-paper Office, 1st April, 1586, Randolph to Lord Burghley, by 
Thomas Milles. 


seen what warning hath been given for her majesty 
to look unto herself; and, in the presence of God, I 
fear as much despite and devilishness from hence as 
from them all; though I judge the king as free as 
myself, and could himself be content that he were out 
of this country."* 

These disclosures of Milles to Elizabeth unfortu- 
nately do not appear ; but there can be no doubt that 
they were connected with that conspiracy afterwards 
known as " Babington's plot." It is certain that this 
plot had its ramifications in Scotland; that the captive 
queen had still a powerful party in that kingdom, at 
the head of which was Lord Claud Hamilton ; ancj 
many of her adherents were busily intriguing with 
France, Spain, and Rome. The league with England 
was distasteful to Secretary Maitland and a large por- 
tion of the nobility. They maintained, and with great 
appearance of reason, that the king, before he had been 
so readily induced to sign a treaty of so much impor- 
tance, ought to have secured some commercial privileges 
to his subjects, similar to those enjoyed by them in 
France; that Elizabeth should have made some public 
and explicit declaration regarding their master's title 
to the English crown ; and that the annuity which he 
was to receive ought to bear some proportion to the large 
offers of those foreign princes, which his adherence to 
England had compelled him to refuse. All this, they 
said, he had neglected; and, without consulting his 
council, had recklessly rushed into a treaty which he 
would speedily repent.-}- This threat seemed prophetic : 

* State-paper Office, Randolph to "Walsingham, April 2, 1586. 

) State-paper Office, Archibald Douglas to Walsingham, May 6, 1586. 
Also, Original draft, State-paper Office, Walsingham 's abridgment of Archi- 
bald Douglas' letters of the 5th, 6th, and llth May. 

1586. JAMES VI. 249 

on Milles' arrival with Elizabeth's signature to the 
league, James discovered that the pension, which as 
first promised by Wotton amounted to twenty thou- 
sand crowns, had dwindled down to four thousand 
pounds; and the same envoy brought the king a 
private letter, written with her own hand, in terms of 
such severe and sarcastic admonition, that it utterly 
disgusted and enraged him.* It was presented by 
Randolph, in an interview which he had with James 
in the garden of the palace ; and, as he read it, the 
young monarch colouring with anger, swore "by God," 
that, had he known what little account the queen 
would make of him, she should have waited long 
enough before he had signed any league, or disobliged 
his nobles, to reap nothing but disappointment and 

This fit of disgust was fostered, as may easily be 
believed, by Secretary Maitland and his friends, and 
it required all the address of Randolph to soften the 
royal resentment and hold the king to his engagements. 
At last, however, everything was arranged, and the 
ambassador, in a letter to Walsingham, congratulating 
himself upon a speedy return home, advised this min- 
ister to be careful in the choice of his successor at the 
Scottish court. "Your honour knows," said he, "that 
non ex omni ligno fit Mercurius ; and he has need of a 
long spoon that feeds with the devil. "-f- 

Having procured the young king's signature to the 
articles of the league, Randolph left the Scottish court ; 
and in the succeeding month the negotiation was finally 
concluded by the commissioners of both countries, who 

* State-paper Office, Randolph to Walsingham, May 13, 1586, Edinburgh. 
T State-paper Office, Randolph to Walsingham, May 28, 1586, Edinburgh, 


met at Berwick. * In this important treaty it was 
agreed between the Queen of England and the Scottish 
king, that they should inviolably maintain the religion 
now professed in both countries against all adversaries, 
nothwithstanding any former engagements to the con- 
trary. If any invasion should be made into their domin- 
ions, or any injuries should be offered them by foreign 
princes or States, no aid was to be given to such foreign 
attack by either of the contracting parties, whatever 
league, affinity, or friendship, might happen to exist 
between them and such foreign powers. If England 
were invaded by a foreign enemy, in any part remote 
from Scotland, the King of Scots promised, at Eliza- 
beth^ request, to send two thousand horse, or five 
thousand foot, to her assistance, but at her expense ; 
and if Scotland were attacked, the queen was to de- 
spatch three thousand horse, or six thousand foot, to 
assist James ; but if the invasion of England should 
take place within sixty miles of the Scottish Border, 
James engaged, without delay, to muster all the force 
he could, and join the English army. If Ireland should 
be invaded, all Scottish subjects were to be interdicted, 
under pain of rebellion, from passing over into that 
kingdom. All rebels harboured within either country, 
were to be delivered up, or compelled to depart the 
realm. No contract was to be made by either of the 
princes, with any foreign State, to the prejudice of this 
league. All former treaties of amity between the pre- 
decessors of the two princes were to remain in force ; 
and on the Scottish king^s attaining the age of twenty- 
five, he engaged, that the "league should be confirmed 

vol. ii. p. i 

paper Office, Randolph to Walsingham, June 24, 1586. Ibid. Proclamation 
at Berwick of the Commissioners, July 5, 1586. 

1586. JAMES vi. 251 

by parliament ; his sister, the English Queen, promis- 
ing the same for her part."* It will be observed, 
that all consideration of the condition or interests of 
the unhappy Queen of Scots is studiously avoided both 
by her son and by Elizabeth. Indeed her name does 
not appear to have been once alluded to during the 
whole transactions. It will, however, be seen by the 
sequel, that although no reference was openly made to 
Mary, the main object of Elizabeth in completing this 
strict alliance with the son, was to detect and defeat 
the intrigues and conspiracies of the mother. 

The happy conclusion of this league was a matter 
of sincere congratulation to the English queen ; but she 
had intrusted to Randolph another somewhat difficult 
negotiation. This was to induce James to recall and 
pardon the well-known Archibald Douglas, whom she 
had herself recently imprisoned, but who had purchased 
his freedom by betraying the secrets of the Scottish 
queen. This gentleman, with whose name and history 
we are already in some degree familiar, united the 
manners of a polished courtier to the knowledge of a 
scholar and a statesman. He was of an ancient and 
noble house ; he had been for years the friend and 
correspondent of Burghley and Walsingham; and he 
was now in great credit with the English queen. But 
Douglas had a dark as well as a bright side ; and 
exhibited a contradiction or anomaly in character by 
no means unfrequent in those days : the ferocity of a 
feudal age, gilded or lacquered over by a thin coating 
of civilisation. Externally all was polish and amenity ; 
truly and at heart the man was a sanguinary, fierce, 
crafty, and unscrupulous villain. He had been per- 

* MS. State-paper Office, Principal points of the articles of the League, 
JulyS, 1586. 


sonally present at Darnley's murder, although he only 
admitted the foreknowledge of it; he had been bred as 
a retainer of the infamous Bothwell; he had afterwards 
been employed by the Scottish queen, whom he sold 
to her enemies; and Elizabeth's great purpose in now 
interceding for his return from her court to his own 
country, was to use his influence with the young king 
against his mother and her faction. He now brought 
a letter written by that princess to the king in his 
favour;* and it is little to James 1 credit, that he 
speedily obtained all he asked. A mock trial was got 
up ; a sentence of acquittal pronounced ; and Douglas 
was not only restored to his estates and rank, but ad- 
mitted into the highest confidence with the sovereign, 
whose father he had murdered. Nay, strange to tell, 
James held a secret conversation with him on the dark 
subject of Darnley's assassination; and as Douglas 
instantly sent a report of it to Walsingham, we get 
behind the curtain. The king commanded all the 
courtiers to retire ; and, finding himself alone with 
Douglas, after reading the Queen of England's letter, 
thus addressed him : 

" At your departure, I was your enemy ; and now, 
at your returning, I am and shall be your friend. You 
are not ignorant what the laws of this realm are, and 
what best may agree with your honour to be done for 
your surety. I must confess her majesty's request in 
your favour to be honourable and favourable, and your 
desire to have come by assize f to be honest ; and I 
myseif do believe that you are innocent of my father's 
murder, except in foreknowledge and concealing ; an 

* MS. draft, State-paper Office, Elizabeth to James, Scottish Royal 
Letters, April 6, 1586. 
f To have come by assize ; to be tried by a jury. 

1586. JAMES vi. 253 

fault so common in those days, that no man of any 
dealing could misknaw;* and yet so perilous to be 
revealed, in respect of all the actors of that tragedy, 
that no man, without extreme danger, could utter any 
speech thereof, because they did see it and could not 
amend it: and, therefore, I will impute unto you 
neither foreknowledge nor concealing; and desire that 
you will advise by my secretary what may be most 
agreeable to my honour and your surety in trial, and 
it shall be performed. "-J- These are remarkable words, 
and probably come very near the truth as to the fore- 
knowledge of the king's murder possessed by every 
man of any note or consequence in the court. It is 
evident the king kept at a distance from all direct 
mention of his mother's name. The general expres- 
sions which he used may either infer that the queen 
must have known of the intended murder, but could 
not, without imminent peril, have revealed or prevented 
it, or that she knew and permitted it. As to Douglas' 
own active share in the murder, it was positively 
asserted by his servant on the scaffold, and at a 
moment when there could be no temptation to deny 
or disguise the truth, that he was present at the ex- 
plosion, and returned from it covered with soil and 

* Misknaw ; be ignorant. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Archibald Douglas to \Vaisinglj am. Gth 
May, 1586. 






France. I Germany. I Spain. I Portugal. I Pope. 
Henry III. I Rudolph I. I Philip II. I Philip IL | Sixtus V. 

ELIZABETH, as has been already hinted, had a great 
purpose in view, when she concluded this league and 
sent Archibald Douglas into Scotland. Two months 
before, her indefatigable minister, Walsingham, had 
detected that famous conspiracy known by the name 
of " Babington's plot," in which Mary was implicated, 
and for which she afterwards suffered. It had been 
resolved by Leicester, Burghley, and Walsingham, 
and probably by the queen herself, that this should be 
the last plot of the Scottish queen and the Roman 
Catholic faction ; that the time had come when suf- 
ferance was criminal and weak ; that the life of the 
unfortunate, but still active and formidable captive, 
was inconsistent with Elizabeth's safety and the liberty 
of the realm. Hence the importance attached to this 
league, which bound the two kingdoms together, in a 
treaty offensive and defensive, for the protection of 
the Protestant faith, and separated the young king 
from his mother. 

1586. JAMES VI. 2o5 

and pardon of Archibald Douglas, who had sold him- 
self to Elizabeth, betrayed the secrets of Mary, and 
now offered his influence over James to be employed 
in furthering this great design for her destruction. 

It is now necessary to enter upon the history of this 
plot, and Mary's alleged connexion with it, one of 
the most involved and intricate portions of the history 
of the two countries. To be clear, and prevent the 
mind from getting entangled in the inextricable meshes 
of Walsingham and his informers, it will be proper for 
a moment to look back. Mary had now been nineteen 
years a captive ; and, upon the cruelty and illegality 
of her imprisonment during this long and dreary period, 
there can be but one opinion. She was seized and 
imprisoned during a time of peace ; contrary to every 
feeling of generosity, and in flagrant violation of every 
principle of law and justice. On the one hand, it was 
the right and the duty of such a prisoner to attempt 
every possible means for her escape ; on the other, it was 
both natural and just that the Catholic party, in Eng- 
land and Scotland, should have combined with France 
and Spain to deliver her from her captivity, and avenge 
upon Elizabeth such an outrage on the law of nations 
as the seizure of a free princess. But the same party 
regarded Elizabeth as a heretic, whose whole life had 
been obstinately opposed to the truth. Some of them 
went so far as to consider her an illegitimate usurper, 
whose throne belonged to the Queen of Scots. They 
had plotted, therefore, not only for Mary's deliverance, 
but for the reestablishment of their own faith in Eng- 
land, and for Elizabeth's deposition; nay, some of them, 
mistaking fanaticism for religion, against Elizabeth's 
life. All these conspiracies continued more or less 
during the whole period of Mary's captivity, and had 


been detected by the vigilance of Elizabeth's ministers, 
acting through the system of private spies ; one ot the 
most revolting features of an age which regarded craft 
and treachery as necessary parts of political wisdom. 
With all these plots the Queen of Scots had been in 
some degree either directly or indirectly connected : 
her rival felt acutely (and such a feeling was the re- 
tributive punishment of the wrong she had committed^ 
the misery of keeping so dangerous a prisoner; but up 
to this time, there seems to have been no allegation 
that Mary was implicated in anything affecting Eliza- 
beth's life, in anything more, in short, than a series of 
plots continued at different times for her own escape. 
Nor did Elizabeth very highly resent them. So far 
at least from adopting the extreme measures to which 
she had been advised by many of her councillors, she 
had repeatedly entered into negotiations with her royal 
captive, in which she held out the hope of her liberty 
on the one hand ; whilst Mary, on the other, promised 
not only to forsake all connexion with public affairs, 
and leave the government to her son, but to impart to 
her good sister the most valuable secret information. 
These scenes had been so repeatedly begun, and re- 
peatedly broken off, that they had become almost 
matters of yearly form. On both sides, in all this, 
there was probably much suspicion and insincerity ; 
but chiefly on the part of Elizabeth : for Mary, at last 
sinking under the sorrows of so long a captivity, and 
worn out by deferred hope, became ready to pay the 
highest price for freedom ; to give up the world, 
to sink into private life, to sacrifice all except her 
religion, and her title to the throne. It was on this 
principle, that she was ready to enter into that agree- 
ment with her son already alluded to known by the 

1586. JAMES vi. 257 

name of " the Association. 1 ' By the terms of this, 
James was to continue king; his mother resigning her 
right into his hands, and taking up her residence, with 
an allowance according to her rank, either in England 
or Scotland. Elizabeth, to whom the whole design 
was communicated, and who was included as a party 
to the treaty, was to release the Scottish queen, resume 
with her the friendly relations which had been so often 
broken off, and receive, in return, such general good 
advice, and such secret revelations, as Mary could give 
consistently with fidelity to her friends. 

Now, at the very time when this association seemed 
to be concluded; when the hopes of the unhappy cap- 
tive were at the highest ; when she was looking forward 
to her liberty with the delight " which the opening of 
the prison brings to them that are bound," the cup, 
for the hundredth time, was dashed from her lips. 
Throckmorton's treason occurred ; a plot still involved 
in great obscurity. Parry's conspiracy, also, took 
place, which included an attempt against the life of 
the English queen ; and the covenant, or "association," 
for the defence of Elizabeth's person, was concluded at 
the urgent instance of Leicester, by which " men of 
all degrees throughout England bound themselves, by 
mutual vows and subscriptions, to prosecute to the 
death all who should directly or indirectly attempt 
anything against their sovereign." It was in vain that 
Mary disclaimed all connexion with these plots, affirm- 
ing passionately, and apparently sincerely, that it 
would be cruel to hold her responsible for all the wild 
attempts of the Roman Catholic faction who professed 
to be her friends, but did not inform her of their pro- 
ceedings; in vain, that she offered to sign the associ- 
ation for Elizabeth's safety, and act upon it as if she 



were her dearest sister. She was met by a cold refusal ; 
the treaty for her freedom was abandoned ; thp Master 
of Gray, and Archibald Douglas, men whom sne had 
implicitly trusted, were bribed to betray her most 
private transactions; and, as the last and bitterest in- 
gredient in her misery, her own son broke off all inter- 
course with her, threw himself into the arms of the 
English queen, and, by the " League" which we have 
just seen concluded, became the sworn pensioner of her 
enemy, and the avowed persecutor of that religion which 
she firmly believed to be the truth. Are we to wonder 
that, under such circumstances, she renounced her 
promises to Elizabeth, and, as a last resource, encour- 
aged the Roman Catholics to resume their projects 
for the invasion of England, her delivery from cap- 
tivity, and the restoration of what she believed the 
only true Church? 

It is certain, that two years before this, in 1584, she 
had been cognizant of Throckmorton's plot already 
alluded to, which had been got up by the English 
Catholic refugees in Spain and France for the invasion 
of England, the dethronement of Elizabeth, and her 
own delivery. One of the principal managers of this 
conspiracy was Thomas Morgan, a devoted Catholic, 
Mary's agent on the continent, a man deeply attached 
to her interests, and who had been long trained in the 
school of political intrigue. The rest were Francis 
Throckmorton, who suffered for it ; Thomas, Lord 
Paget ; Charles Arundel, who fled to France ; and 
some others. It is extremely difficult to discover what 
portion of the plot was real, and what fictitious ; but 
that schemes were in agitation against Elizabeth, in 
which the Spanish ambassador, Mendoza, participated, 
and with which Mary was well acquainted, cannot be 

1586. JAMES VI. 259 

doubted. So clear did her servant Morgan's guilt 
appear to the King of France, in whose dominions he 
then resided, that although he refused to deliver him 
up as Elizabeth required, he threw him into prison, 
sent his papers to England, and treated him with much 
severity. Even in this durance, he managed to con- 
tinue his secret practices ; but Mary, who had now 
entered into negotiations with the queen for her liberty, 
renounced, for a season, all political intrigue ; and the 
smouldering embers of the recent conspiracies were 
allowed to cool and burn out, whilst she looked forward 
with sanguine hope to her freedom. When, however, 
this hope was blasted ; when she was removed from 
the gentler custody of the Earl of Shrewsbury to the 
severer jailorship of Paulet ; * when she was haunted 
by reports of private assassination, and at last saw 
Elizabeth and her son indissolubly leagued against 
her, she resumed her correspondence with Morgan, and 
welcomed every possible project for her escape.^ 

At this time, Walsingham, the English queen's 
principal secretary, had brought the system of secret 
information to a state of high perfection, if we may 
use such an expression on the subject. The Queen 
of Scots, the French and Spanish ambassadors, the 
English Roman Catholic refugees, were surrounded 
by his creatures, who insinuated themselves into their 
confidence, pretended to join their plots, drew them 
on to reveal their secrets, and carried all their disco- 
veries to their employers. Amongst these base tools 
of Walsingham, were Poley, a man who had found 
means to gain the ear and the confidence of Morgan, 

* In October, 1 584, Mary was removed from the castle of Sheffield to 
"Wingfield. In January, 1.585-6, from Wingfield to Tutbury. In January, 
1586-7, from Tutbury to Chartley. 

f Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 501. 


and been employed by him in his secret correspondence 
with the Catholics of England and France ; * Gilbert 
Gifford, a seminary priest of a good family in Stafford- 
shire, who was also intrusted by Morgan with his 
secrets ; Maud, a sordid wretch, who pretended great 
zeal for the Catholic faith; and some others. He 
was also assisted by Thomas Phelipps, a person of 
extraordinary skill in detecting real, and concocting 
false plots by forging imaginary letters, and of equal 
talent in discovering the key to the most difficult and 
complicated ciphers. In his service, too, was one 
Gregory, who, by reiterated practice, had acquired the 
faculty of breaking and replacing seals with such nicety, 
that no eye could suspect the fracture. [ By means 
of these agents Walsingham, about the same time that 
the league had been concluded between Elizabeth and 
the King of Scots, discovered a conspiracy for the 
assassination of that princess. Of this atrocious de- 
sign, Ballard, a seminary priest, and Savage, an English 
officer who had served in the Netherlands, were the 
principal movers ; but Morgan, Mary's agent, un- 
doubtedly encouraged the plot, and drew into it some 
of the English Catholic refugees. At the same time, 
the former great project for the invasion of England, 
the dethronement of Elizabeth, and the escape of Mary, 
was resumed by Spain, France, and the Scottish queen's 
Catholic friends in England and Scotland; and the 
captive princess herself became engaged in a secret 
correspondence on this subject with Morgan, Charles 
Paget, Sir Francis Englefield, and the French and 

* Murdin, p. 499, Morgan to Mary. Ult. Martii, 1586. 

f MS. State-paper Office, Original cipher and decipher, endorsed by 
Phelipps. Papers of Mary queen of Scots, Pietro, April 24, 1586, and 
Gilbert Gifford's Letter, deciphered by Curie. Pietro was one of the names 
by which Gilbert Gifford was designated. 

1586. JAMES vi. 261 

Spanish ambassadors. Here, then, were two plots 
simultaneously carrying on ; and amongst the actors 
to whom the execution was intrusted, some persons 
were common to both, that is, some were sworn to 
assist alike in the invasion and in the assassination ; 
others knew only of the design against the government, 
and had no knowledge of the darker purpose against 
Elizabeth. Amongst these last, up to a certain date 
which can be fixed, we must undoubtedly class the 
Scottish queen. She was fully aware of, and indeed was 
an active agent in the schemes which were in agitation 
for the invasion of the country and her own deliver- 
ance ; * but she was ignorant at first of any designs 
against the life of her enemy .^ Whether to the last 
she remained so ignorant of all, has been disputed; 
but, in the mean time, the predicament in which she 
stood, as all must see, was one of extreme peril, and 
so the result proved. Walsingham, through his spies, 
became acquainted with both plots ; and his fertile and 
unscrupulous mind, assisted and prompted by such an 
instrument as Phelipps, projected a scheme for involv- 
ing Mary in a knowledge of both, and thus drawing 
her on to her ruin. Such being the general design, 
let us now look more minutely into the history and 
proceedings of the conspirators. 

John Savage, a Roman Catholic gentleman, who 
had served in the wars of the Low Countries, becoming 
acquainted with some fanatical priests of the Jesuit 
seminary of Rheims, was induced, by their arguments, 
to believe that the assassination of the English queen 
would be a meritorious action in the sight of God. 

* MS. State-paper Office, Morgan to Mary, a decipher in Phelipps' hand. 
Ult. Martii, 1586', printed in Murdin, p. 481. 
) Murdin, p. 527, Morgan to Mary, July 4, 1586. 


They argued that the papal bull, by which this prin- 
cess was excommunicated, was dictated by the Holy 
Spirit ; and that to slay any person thus anathematized 
must be accounted an act of faith, and not of murder. 
Savage, thus worked upon, took a solemn vow that 
he would kill the queen ; and prepared to return to 
England for the purpose.* Previous to his departure, 
however, John Ballard, a priest of the same seminary, 
and a busy agent of Morgan, returned to France, from 
a tour which he had made amongst the Catholics of 
England and Scotland. The purpose of his mission 
thither had been to organize the plot for the invasion 
of England ; the object of his return was to confer 
upon the same subject with Mendoza the Spanish 
ambassador, Charles Paget, and the other English 
Catholic refugees. Ballard was accompanied by Maud, 
the person already mentioned as a spy of Walsingham, 
who had deceived Ballard and Morgan, by pretending 
a great zeal for the Catholic cause ; and through this 
base person the English secretary became acquainted 
with all their proceedings.-f- Paget being consulted, 
argued strongly that no invasion could succeed during 
the lifetime of Elizabeth ; and Ballard, assuming the 
disguise of a soldier, and taking the name of Captain 
Fortescue, or Foscue, came back to England much 
about the same time as Savage, whose fell purpose 
Morgan had communicated to him. 


Soon after his arrival, Ballard addressed himself 
to Anthony Babington, a young gentleman of large 
fortune, and ancient Catholic family, in Derbyshire, 

* Carte, vol. iii. p. 601 ; and MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. ix. fol. 
290, Savage's Contwssion. 

f- Carte, vol. iii. p. 601, Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 515. Murdin, p. 
517, Charles Paget to Mary, May 29, 1586. 

1586. JAMES vi. 263 

who had before this shown great zeal and activity in 
the service of the Queen of Scots. This was known 
to Ballard; and he, therefore, confidently opened to 
him the great scheme for the invasion of England ; 
explained the ardour with which it had been resumed 
by Morgan and the Scottish queen ; and exhorted him 
to second their efforts by every means in his power. 
Babington, it is certain, had been long warmly devoted 
to Mary. He had formed, when he was in France, an 
intimate friendship with Morgan; had been introduced 
to Beaton the Bishop of Glasgow, her ambassador in 
that country ; and had returned to England with 
letters from both these persons, which strongly recom- 
mended him to the Scottish queen. From this time, 
for the period of two years, he had continued to supply 
her with secret intelligence, and to receive and convey 
her letters to her friends.* Latterly, however, all 
intercourse had been broken off; whether for some 
private cause, or on account of the greater strictness 
of Mary's confinement, does not appear certain. This 
interruption of Mary's correspondence with Babington 
had, however, given distress to Morgan ; and most 
unfortunately, as it happened for the Scottish queen, 
he had written to her, in urgent terms, on the ninth 
of May, 1586, advising her to renew her secret inter- 
course with him, and describing him as a gentleman 
on whose ability and high honour she might have the 
firmest reliance.-f- 

On being sought out by Ballard, Babington evinced 
all his former eagerness for the service of the captive 
queen ; but expressed strongly the same opinion as that 

* Hardwicke's Papers, vol. i. p. 227. 

+ Murdin, p. 513, Morgan to the Queen of Scots, May 9, 1586, or old 
style, April 29. Mary and her secretaries always followed the Roman or 
new, Walsingham, Burghley, and Phelipps, the old style. 


already given by Charles Paget, that no invasion or 
rising in England could succeed as long as Elizabeth 
lived. Ballard then communicated to him Savage's 
purpose of assassination ; adding, that the gentleman 
who had solemnly bound himself to despatch that 
princess was now in England. This revelation pro- 
duced an immediate effect ; and Babington expressed 
a decided opinion that the simultaneous execution of 
both plots held out the fairest prospect of success. It 
w r ould be dangerous, however, he said, to intrust the 
assassination to only one hand : it might fail, and all 
would be lost. He suggested, therefore, an improve- 
ment, by which the murder should be committed by 
six gentlemen of his acquaintance, of whom Savage 
should be one ; whilst he pointed out the best havens 
where foreign troops might be landed; summed up 
the probable native force with which they were likely 
to be joined ; and demonstrated the surest plan for 
the escape of the Scottish queen.* With all this 
Ballard was highly pleased ; and from the time when 
the first meeting with Babington took place, -f* he 
and Babington employed themselves in discovering, 
amongst their acquaintance, such men as they deemed 
likely to engage in this abominable design. Three 
were soon procured to join with Savage. Their names 
were Abingdon, the son of the late cofferer of the queen's 
household ; Barnwell, who was .connected with a noble 
family in Ireland ; and Charnock, a Catholic gentle- 
man in Lancashire. J Some time after, the number 
of six was made up by the addition of Charles Tilney, 

* Murdin, p. 513. Morgan to the Queen of Scots, May 9, 1586 ; or old 
style, April 29. Also Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 515. 

f" This period or interval cannot be precisely fixed. It seems to have been 
between the 27th of May and the 25th June. 

Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 516. 

1586. JAMES vi. 265 

one of the queen's band of gentlemen pensioners, and 
Chidiock Titchbourne. Other gentlemen of their 
acquaintance were engaged to assist in the project for 
the invasion, and the escape of Mary ; but the darker 
purpose of assassination was not revealed to them.* 

During all this time, Mary, on account of the strict- 
ness of her confinement under Sir Amias Paulet, had 
found it extremely difficult to continue her correspon- 
dence with her friends abroad ; but she had never 
abandoned the project of the Spanish invasion : and on 
the fifth May, she addressed a letter to Charles Paget, 
giving minute directions regarding the likeliest method 
of succeeding in their common enterprise against Eliza- 
beth. From this letter, which, though long, is highly 
interesting, some passages must be given. They de- 
velop the whole plot for the invasion of England, and 
exhibit a determination in her designs against Eliza- 
beth, which, when known, (as they came to be by the 
interception of the letter,) could not fail to excite 
extreme resentment. 

" With an infinite number of other letters in cipher, 
(so she addressed Paget,) I received five of yours, dated 
the fourteenth January, sixteenth of May, and last of 
July 1585, and the fourth of February 1586. But, 
for their late arrival here, and all at once, it hath not 
been possible for me to see them all deciphered. And 
I have been, since the departure from Wingfield,^ so 
wholly without all intelligence of foreign affairs, as, 
not knowing the present state thereof, it is very diffi- 
cile for me to establish any certain course for reestab- 
lishing the same on this side ; and methinks I can see 

* MS. State-paper Office, decipher by Phelipps, Marv to Mendoza, May 
20, 1586. 

f- Mary was removed to Wingfield in October 1584. 


no other means to that end, except the King of Spain, 
now being pricked in his particular by the attempt 
made on Holland and the course of Drake, would 
take revenge against the Queen of England whilst 
France, occupied as it is, cannot help her ; wherefore 
I desire that you should essay, either by the Lord 
Paget during his abode in Spain, or by the Spanish 
ambassador, to discover clearly if the said King of 
Spain hath intention to set on England." 

Mary then proceeded to state, with great force, the 
reasons which ought to move the Spanish king to 
adopt this course ; after which, she thus expressed 
her hopes of giving him effectual assistance : 

" Now, in case that he deliberate to set on the Queen 
of England, esteeming it most necessary that he assure 
himself also of Scotland, either to serve with him in 
the said enterprise, or, at the least, to hold that coun- 
try so bridled that it serve not his enemy ; I have 
thought good that you enter with the ambassador of 
Spain, in these overtures following; to wit, that I 
shall travel by all means to make my son enter in the 
said enterprise ; and if he cannot be persuaded there- 
unto, that I shall dress a secret strait league among 
the principal Catholic lords of that country, and their 
adherents, to be joined with the King of Spain, and 
to execute, at his devotion, what of their parts shall 
be thought meet for advancing of the said enterprise ; so 
being they may have such succours of men and money 
as they will ask ; which, I am sure, shall not be very 
cnargeable, having men enough within the country, 
and little money stretching far and doing much there. 
Moreover, (continued Mary,) I shall dress the means 
to make my son be delivered in the hands of the said 
King of Spain, or in the pope's, as best by them shall 

J58G. JAMES vi. 267 

be thought good ; but with paction and promise to set 
him at liberty, whensoever I shall so desire, or that 
after my death, being Catholic, he shall desire again 
to repair to this isle. * * * This is the best 
hostage that I and the said lords of Scotland can give 
to the King of Spain for performance of that which 
may depend on them in the said enterprise. But 
withal must there be a regent established in Scotland, 
that [may] have commission and power of me and my 
son, (whom it shall be easy to make pass the same, 
he being once in the hands of the said lords,) to govern 
the country in his absence ; for which office I find none 
so fit as the Lord Claud Hamilton, as well for the rank 
of his house, as for his manhood and wisdom ; and to 
shun all jealousy of the rest, and to strengthen him the 
more, he must have a council appointed him of the prin- 
cipal lords, without whom he shall be bound not to 
ordain anything of importance. 1 should think myself 
most obliged to the King of Spain, that it would please 
him to receive my son, to make him be instructed and 
reduced to the Catholic religion, which is the thing in 
the world 1 most desire ; affecting a great deal rather 
the salvation of his soul than to see him monarch of all 
Europe ; and I fear much, that so long as he shall re- 
main where he is, (amongst those that found all his 
greatness upon the maintenance of the religion which 
he professeth,) it shall never be in my power to bring 
him in again to the right way ; whereby there shall 
remain in my heart a thousand regrets and apprehen- 
sions, if I should die, to leave behind me a tyrant and 
persecutor of the Catholic Church. 

" If you see and perceive the said ambassador to 
have goust in these overtures, and put you in hope of 
a good answer thereunto, which you shall insist to have 
with all diligence, I would then, in the mean time, you 


should write to the Lord Claud, letting him understand 
how that the King of Spain is to set on this country, 
and desireth to have the assistance of the Catholics of 
Scotland, for to stop, at least, that from thence the 
Queen of England have no succours ; and to that effect, 
you shall pray the said Lord Claud to sound and grope 
the minds hereunto of the principal of the Catholic 
nobility in Scotland. * * * And to the end they 
may be the more encouraged herein, you may write 
plainly to the Lord Claud, that you have charge of me 
to treat with him of this matter. But by your first 
letter, I am not of opinion that you discover yourself 
further to him, nor to other at all, until you have 
received answer of the King of Spain, which being con- 
form to this designment, then may you open more to 
the Lord Claud ; showing him, that to assure himself 
of my son, and to the end (if it be possible) that things 
be passed, and done under his name and authority, it 
shall be needful to seize his person, in case that will- 
ingly he cannot be brought to this enterprise ; yea, 
and that the surest were to deliver him into the King 
of Spain's hands, or the pope's, as shall be thought 
best ; and that in his absence, he depute the Lord 
Claud his lieutenant-general and regent in the go- 
vernment of Scotland ; which, you are assured, I may 
be easily persuaded to confirm and approve. For if 
it be possible, I will not, for divers respects, be named 
therein, until the extremity. * * * I can write 
nothing presently to the Lord Claud himself, for want 
of an alphabet between me and him, which now I send 
you herewith enclosed without any mark on the back, 
that you may send it unto him."* 

Here, then, was Mary's plan minutely detailed by 

* MS. State-paper Office, decipher by Phelipps, Queen of Scots to Charles 
Paget, May 20, 1586, Chartley. 

1586. JAMES vi. 269 

herself; in which Spain was to "set on England," 
as she expressed it ; Lord Claud Hamilton to be 
made regent in Scotland ; her son, in the event of 
his refusal to turn Catholic, and combine against 
Elizabeth, to be seized, imprisoned, and coerced into 

The vigour and ability with which the whole is laid 
down, needs no comment; and the Scottish queen 
omitted no opportunity to encourage her friends in 
that great enterprise which was now regarded as the 
forlorn hope for the recovery of her liberty, and the 
restoration of the Catholic faith in Britain.* All this 
time, however, Mary had no communication with 
Ballard. He had been specially warned not to attempt 
to hold any intercourse with the queen ; and she had 
been informed by Morgan, in a letter written from his 
prison, that such an agent was in England labouring 
busily in her behalf, but that there were strong reasons 
why she should avoid, for the present, all communica- 
tion with him. "He followeth (said he) some matters 
of consequence, the issue whereof is uncertain ; where- 
fore, as long as these labours of his and matters do 
continue, it is not for your majesty's service to hold 
any intelligence with him at all, lest he, or his partners, 
be discovered, and they, by pains or other accidents, 
discover your majesty afterwards to have had intelli- 
gence with them, which I would not should fall out 
for any good in the world. And I have specially warned 
the said Ballard (he continued) not to deal at any 
hand with your majesty, as long as he followeth the 

* MS. State-paper Office, Mendoza to the Queen of Scots, May 19, 1586, 
decipher by Phelipps. Ibid., decipher by Phelipps, Sir Francis Englefield 
to Nau, May 3, 1586'. Ibid., Archbishop of Glasgow to Mary, decipher, 
20th May, 1586. See supra, pp. 247, 248, Randolph's intimation of this 
Conspiracy to Walsingham. 


affairs that he and others have in hand, which tend 
to do good, which I pray God may come to pass; and 
so shall your majesty be relieved by the power of 

In a postscript of a letter of Morgan's to Curie, 
Mary's French secretary, written on the same day, 
which was intercepted and deciphered by Phelipps, an 
indirect allusion was made to these practices of Ballard 
against the life of Elizabeth. " I am not unoccupied 
(said he) although 1 be in prison, to think of her 
majesty's state, and yours that endure with her, to 
your honours ; and there be many means in hand to 
remove the beast that troubleth all the world." 1 " 1 ^ 

But although Mary, thus warned, prudently ab- 
stained from any communication with Ballard, she 
continued in active correspondence with Morgan, 
Englefield, Mendoza, Paget, and Persons, on the sub- 
ject of " the great enterprise." The principal person 
through whom she transmitted her letters was Gil- 
bert Gvfford, who had sold himself to Walsingham. 
Her letters, accordingly, were regularly intercepted, 
deciphered by Phelipps, copied, considered by Wal- 
singham, and then forwarded to their destination.^; 
The English minister, therefore, was quite as well 
acquainted with the plot for the invasion of the realm, 
and the insurrection of the Roman Catholics, as the 
conspirators themselves. He knew, also, the desperate 
designs of Ballard, Babington, and his fellows, against 
the queen's life; yet, as Mary had abstained from all 
intercourse with the conspirators, there was no evi- 

* Morgan to the Queen of Scots, Murdin, p. 527. 

\" MS. State-paper Office, Morgan to Curie, decipher by Phelipps, 24th 
June old style, 4th July new. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Paulet to Wals'nghani, llth April, 

1586. JAMES vi. 271 

dence to connect her with their designs. There might 
be presumptions against her; (and it seems to me im- 
possible for any one to have read Morgan's allusion 
to the secret designs of Ballard without having a 
suspicion of some dark purpose ;) but nothing had 
yet brought her into direct contact with Ballard or 
Babington. Here, then, was the difficulty; and as 
Walsingham pondered over the way to remove it, it 
seems to have fallen out, most unhappily for the Scot- 
tish queen, that in consequence of the advice of Mor- 
gan, she resolved to renew her correspondence with 
Babington, who probably about this time had returned 
from France to England, bringing with him the letter 
of the twenty-ninth April above-mentioned.* It has 
been imagined, that Mary was drawn on to renew her 
correspondence with Babington by a stratagem of 
Walsingham's ; but although Walsingham was busy 
and ingenious in his stratagems after the correspon- 
dence had begun, there is no proof that any measures 
of his led to its renewal; and it is evident, from what 
has been already stated, that for this purpose no trick 
or stratagem was required. 

But, however this may be, Mary could not have 
adopted a more fatal step ; indeed, it was the very 
crisis of her fate. Hitherto, she knew only of the 
project for the Spanish invasion ; and, listening to the 
suggestions of prudence and suspicion, had connected 
herself in no way with Ballard and the plot against 
Elizabeth's life. Had she continued thus cautious, 
she was ignorant, and she was safe. But Babington 
arrived in England; his residence lay in the near 
neighbourhood of Mary's prison; Morgan had given 

* Supra, p. 264 


him a letter to that princess, recommending the re- 
newal of their intercourse. The person who then 
managed the secret conveyance of Mary's letters was 
the treacherous Gifford. He, we know, would first 
convey it to Walsingham to be deciphered ; it would 
be then forwarded to the Scottish queen. What a 
moment of suspense must this have been for the English 
secretary, who was watching, silent and darkling, for 
the evidence which might convict the captive queen ? 
Had she suspected, or hesitated, or delayed, Morgan, 
who was in communication with Ballard, and likely 
to be soon informed of Babington having joined the 
plot against Elizabeth's life, might have warned her 
against having any communication with him, as he 
had done against corresponding with Ballard. But 
Mary, if we are to believe the letters produced on her 
trial, which, however, she affirmed to be forgeries, had 
no suspicion. She wrote to Babington, at first, briefly. 
He, if we are to accept as genuine a copy of his letter 
produced at the trial, replied at great length. In his 
reply, the scheme for the invasion was connected with 
the conspiracy for the assassination of the queen. 
Mary again answered ; at least so it was alleged by 
her enemies, who produced a copy of her reply; she 
there gave directions for the landing of the troops and 
her own escape; she alluded also to the assassination; 
and in her letter, if genuine, certainly did not deprecate 
it. The agent who managed this secret correspondence 
was Gifford; the man in whom Babington chiefly con- 
fided was Poley. Both were sold to Walsingham : 
every letter was thus carried first to him, deciphered 
by Phelipps, copied and reserved for evidence ; every 
conversation between the conspirators was reported. 
At last, when all seemed ripe for execution, the signal 

1586. JAMES VI. 273 

was given ; Gifford and his base assistants dropt the 
mask ; Walsingham stept from behind the curtain ; 
Ballard and Babington were seized ; and the unfortu- 
nate captive, one moment elated with hope, and joyous 
in the anticipation of freedom, found herself in the 
next detected, entangled, lost. This rapid summary 
has been given, to bring, at one glance, under the 
reader's eye, the great lines in this miserable and in- 
tricate story; and, before proceeding to trace it farther, 
one observation must be added. From the system 
adopted by Walsingham, and the assistance he might 
derive from the unscrupulous ingenuity of Phelipps, 
it is clear that, if he were so base as to avail himself 
of it, he was in possession of a machinery by which he 
could make Mary appear guilty of any plot he pleased. 
The letters of her correspondents, Morgan, Babington, 
Paget, and others, were written in cipher to her, and 
her replies were conveyed in cipher to them. Both 
fell into the hands of the English secretary ; and, at 
the subsequent trial of Mary, the two long letters 
which proved, as was contended, the queen's accession 
to the plot against Elizabeth's life, were produced, not 
in the originals, but in alleged copies of the deciphered 
documents. Nothing can be more evident than that, 
under such a system, Mary may have been wholly 
innocent, and yet may have been made to appear 
guilty. The real letters which passed between her 
and Babington, and which were never produced, may 
have related solely to the great project for the invasion 
of England, and her escape. The copies of these 
letters, avowedly taken by Phelipps, Walsingham's 
servant, may have been so manufactured as to connect 
the invasion with the assassination of Elizabeth. We 
shall afterwards see that Mary asserted this was 



really done : but, meanwhile, let us proceed with the 

Mary had two secretaries, named Nau and Curie : 
the first a man of ability, intelligence, and education, 
but quarrelsome, and fond of political intrigue ; the 
second, chiefly employed as a clerk and decipherer: 
both of them enjoying her confidence, and intrusted 
with the management of her secret correspondence. 
It does not exactly appear when the Scottish queen 
received, through Babington, Morgan's letter, recom- 
mending the renewal of her correspondence with this 
gentleman ; but, on the fourth July, 1586,* Curie 
sent to Gifford, or to the substitute who sometimes 
acted for him, a packet, in which he enclosed a letter, 
which he begged him to convey to Anthony Babing- 
ton. The letter accompanying this packet was in 
cipher, and in the following words : 

" On Sunday last, I wrote unto you by this bearer, 
having received nothing from you since your letter 
dated the sixteenth of this instant. -f- I hope to have 
her majesty"^ despatch, mentioned in rny foresaid, 
ready for to-morrow sevennight, [conform to] the ap- 
pointment. In the mean season, her majesty prayeth 
you to send your foot-boy, so closely as you can, with 
these two little bills : the one so ?r marked, to Master 
Anthony Babington, dwelling most in Derbyshire, at 
a house of his own, within two miles of Winkfield ; 
as I doubt not but you know for that in this shire 
he hath both friends and kinsmen ; and the other bill, 
without any mark, unto one Richard Hurt Mercer, 
dwelling in Nottiughame Tower. Unto neither of the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Curie ioff [Gifford,] July 4, Saturday. 

j- By this is meant the 16th of June. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Curie toff [Gifford,] July 4, Saturday. 

1586. JAMES vi. 275 

two foresaid personages your said boy needeth not to 
declare whose he is, (unless he be already known by 
them with whom he shall have to do;) but only ask 
answer, and what is given him, to bring it to your 
hands ; which her majesty assureth herself you will, 
with convenient diligence, make come unto her. Her 
majesty desireth that you would, on every occasion 
you have to write hither, participate unto her such 
occurrences as come to your knowledge, either foreign 
or within the realm ; and, in particular, what you 
understand of the Earl of 'Shrewsbury his going to 
court. God preserve you. Chartley, of July the fourth, 
on Saturday." * 

This letter, the authenticity of which there is no 
reason to dispute, is a small slip of paper written 
wholly in cipher; the decipher being added below 
it by Phelipps, but much mutilated. It will not, 
however, escape an attentive reader, that the writer 
does not specify by whom the enclosed letter to 
Anthony Babington was written. It may have been 
from Mary, or it may possibly have been from her 
secretary, Nau, or from Curie. Walsingham and 
Burghley, indeed, afterwards alleged at the trial, and 
it was so pleaded, that the enclosure was a letter from 
the Queen of Scots to Babington ; and this original 
letter is certainly alluded to as extant in a list drawn 

* This letter is preserved in cipher in the State-paper Office, in a most 
valuable collection of original papers and letters, entitled, " Papers of Mary 
queen of Scots." The deciphered part, in Phelipps' hand, is, much of it, 
illegible. It is now printed, for the first time, from a decipher, by Mr 
Lemon of the State-paper Office. It is singular, as that gentleman has re- 
marked, that Curie, or Nau, in writing it, made an error in the date. In 
158 f >, the 4th of July, Roman style, which Mary's secretaries used, was on 
a Friday, not a Saturday ; Saturday was the 5th of July, but the writer had 
mistaken the day of the month. This trivial circumstance appears to me 
to confirm the authenticity of the letters ; and there is another instance of 
carelessness in it ; he speaks, although writing on the 5th July, of the 16th 
"of this instant ;" evidently meaning the Kith June. This tells the same 


up by Burghley ; but if it ever existed, it is now lost. 
It was not brought forward at the trial, when Mary 
demanded to see it, and alleged that no such letter 
was ever written by her: a copy was all that was then 
produced; and a copy of the decipher is all that we 
now have.* This letter, purporting to be addressed 
by Mary to Babington, was as follows: 

" My very good friend, albeit it be long since you 
heard from me, no more than I have done from you, 
against my will ; yet would I not you should think I 
have the meanwhile, or ever will be unmindful of the 
effectual affection you have showed heretofore towards 
all that concerneth me. I have understood, that upon 
the ceasing of our intelligence, there were addressed 
unto you, both from France and Scotland, some packets 
for me. I pray you, if any be come to your hands, 
and be yet in place, to deliver them to the bearer hereof, 
who will make them to be safely conveyed unto me. 
And I will pray God for your preservation. At 
Chartley, your assured good friend, MARIE R."-f- 

When the packet containing this letter reached 
Gifford, it was immediately conveyed to Sir Amias 
Paulet, who transmitted it to Walsingham on the 29th 
June, with many regrets that it appeared to him too 
small to contain any very important matter. He, at 

* It may be added, that there is also in the State-paper Office, a copy of 
the same letter in cipher, made by some unknown hand, most probably 
Gifford's, on the back of the small ciphered letter already quoted, of date 
the 4th July, enclosing to Gifford the queen's letter to Babington. It may 
be conjectured that Gifford, before forwarding the original to Babington, 
took a copy of it on the back of his own letter. This letter was deciphered 
for me by Mr Lemon, and is exactly the same as that printed in the text, 
with the exception, that the date is thus given in the ciphered letter : " Of 
June the twenty-fifth, at Chartley, by your assured good friend, MARIE R." 
The long interval between June 25 and July 5, can only be accounted for 
by supposing that Mary, in writing to Babington, contrary to her usual 
practice, used the old style ; whilst Curie, or Nau, in writing to Gifford, and 
enclosing the queen's letter, used the new. The 25th June old style, was 
exactly the 5th July new, as there should be a difference of ten days. 

+ A1S. Copy, State-paper Office, Mary to Babington, June 25. 

1586. JAMES vi. 277 

the same time, informed the English secretary, that 
Phelipps, who was then in London, and to whom 
Elizabeth and Walsingham appear to have committed 
the management of the whole plot for the interception 
of Mary's letters, had written a letter to him, in which 
he laid down a new plan of operations, by which he 
hoped to succeed more surely and speedily. Paulet, 
however, rejected it as dangerous, and liable, by ex- 
citing suspicion, to break off the good course already 
begun.* He added, that this was the more to be 
feared, as it was expected that, on the third of the 
month, " great matter " would come from these peo- 
ple. Three days after this letter of Paulet's of the 
twenty-ninth June,*f Mary wrote from Chartley to 
Morgan, informing him that Pietro, the name given 
to Gifford in their letters, at his last return from 
France, had brought her three letters from him, one 
of which regarded Babington. She stated, also, that 
she had received an anonymous letter, which, she 
imagined, came from Poley, who made courteous offers ; 
but she was afraid to deal in it till she had ascertained 
the matter more certainly ; advising Morgan, for the 
greater security, to keep those persons with whom she 
had to deal as much as possible unknown to each other. 
She then added this remarkable passage regarding her 
intercourse with Babington : " As to Babington, he 
hath both kindly and honestly offered himself and all 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Paulet to Walsingham, June 29, 1586. 
In this letter of Paulet, which is too long to quote, we obtain a clear view 
of the machinery and the actors in this secret correspondence. Mary em- 
ployed a brewer, who supplied the castle, and went by the name of " the 
hones* man," to receive her letters from Gifford. He carried the answers 
to Gifford again, or to a cousin of his, who acted as his substitute ; and all 
the three were in the pay of Walsingham and Paulet ; so that the letters of the 
queen, or her secretaries, were sure to be intercepted, sent to Walsingham, 
deciphered by Phelipps, and then retransmitted to Paulet, who forwarded 
them to their destination. 

f On the 12th July new style, or 2d July old. 


his means, to be employed any way I would ; where- 
upon I hope to have satisfied him by two of my several 
letters since I had his. He hath seen that mine hath 
prevented him with all lawful excuses shown on my 
part of the long silence between us." In the conclusion 
of the same letter, the Scottish queen, in answer to 
the passage regarding Ballard, already quoted from 
Morgan's letter of the fourth July,* thus spoke of 
him : "I have heard of that Ballard of whom you 
write, but nothing from himself, and, therefore, have 
no intelligence with him."^ 

On the day after, thirteenth July, Nau, Mary's 
secretary, wrote to Babington, informing him that his 
mistress had received his letters " yesternight," that 
is, on the evening of the twelfth July ; | which letters, 
he added, before this bearer's return, cannot be deci- 
phered. He then continued : " He (the bearer) is, 
within three days, to repair hither again, against which 
time her majesty's letter will be in readiness. In the 
mean time, I would not omit to show you, that there 
is great assurance made of Mr Poley's faithful serving 
of her majesty ; and by his own letters [he] hath 
vowed and promised the same." But he subjoined this 
caution. " As yet, her majesty's experience of him 
is not so great as I dare embolden you to trust him 
much; he never having written to her majesty but 
once, whereunto she hath not yet answered. * * * 
Let me know plainly what YOU understand of him. 
Twelfth July, Chartley. NAU." 

Although these two letters, the first from Mary to 

* Supra, p. 269. 

f- MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Original decipher by Phelipps, Mary to 
Morgan, 12th July new style, t. e., *2d July old. 

J July 12 new style ; July 2 old. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Original decipher by Phelipps, endorsed, 
Nan to Babington, July 13. 

1586. JAMES VI. 279 

Morgan, the second from Nau to Babington, appear 
not in the original, but only in the decipher, which is 
in the handwriting of Phelipps, and must therefore 
be regarded with suspicion, there seems no sufficient rea- 
son for doubting their authenticity; and they establish 
the fact, that the Scottish queen, at this time, had 
twice written to Babington, and meant to write again. 
They prove, also, that, on the twelfth July, she had 
received letters from Babington. But with regard to 
the subject of his offers to her, or her reply to him, 
upon which depends the whole question of her guilt, 
all is still dark. 

To understand what occurred next, the reader must 
keep in mind, that in his secret communications with 
Mary, Babington sometimes remained at Lichfield in 
the neighbourhood of Chartley, and sometimes went to 
London, for the purpose of holding his private meetings 
with the conspirators, and also of visiting Secretary 
Walsingham, to whom, strange as it may appear, he 
had offered himself as a spy upon the practices of the 
Roman Catholic party. His object in this was evident. 
He believed that Walsingham knew nothing of his 
designs ; and hoped, under this disguise, to become 
acquainted with all the secret purposes of the secretary. 
But Walsingham was too old a diplomatist to be thus 
taken in. He accepted his offers, and made his own 
use of them. Hitherto Babington seems to have been 
in London when he received, through Gifford or his 
substitutes, the letters from Mary ; but he now pro- 
posed to come down to Lichfield, and communicate 
with her secret messenger in person. It is evident 
that this change made some alteration necessary on 
the part of Walsingham and Phelipps ; for the delay 
which must have occurred in having the intercepted 


letters sent up to London, deciphered, copied, and 
retransmitted to be delivered again to Babington, would 
have raised suspicion, and must, in all probability, have 
led to discovery. Phelipps, therefore, was sent down 
to Chartley,* where, on pretence of some other busi- 
ness, he took up his residence with Sir Amias Paulet; 
and thus no time was lost in deciphering the inter- 
cepted letters, and no suspicion raised. In this way 
Walsingham trusted that he would be enabled, follow- 
ing out what they had begun, to draw the nets more 
tightly round the Scottish queen ; and procure, at last, 
a clear and positive ground of conviction. Keeping 
this in view, the correspondence grows more and more 

Phelipps left London for Chartley on the evening 
of the seventh July,^ and on the way thither he met 
a messenger with a packet from Sir Amias Paulet to 
Walsiugham, which, according to the directions he 
had received from this minister, he opened. It con- 
tained a letter of Mary's to the French ambassador. 
This the decipherer carried back with him to Chartley, 
determining to copy it with all speed, and send it up 
again ; adding in his letter, that he knew the ambas- 
sador was expecting it earnestly. " By Sir Amias' 
letter, (to quote his note to Walsingham,) I find (said 
he) all things to stand in so good terms, as my abode 
here will be the less, but for Babington's matters, which 
I beseech you resolve thoroughly and speedily ."J * * 

The arrival of Phelipps at Chartley was not unnoted 
by the Scottish queen, whose mind, with the acuteness 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Phelipps to Walsingham, Chartley, 
July 14, 1586. Also, Ibid., Phelipps to Walsingham, Stilton, July 8. 

j- It is stated by Dr Lingard, that he brought with him Babington's long 
letter to Mary, and it seems very probable that he did so ; but I have found 
on authority for this, and none is given for it. 

MS. State-paper Office, Phelipps to Walsingham, July 8, 1S86. 

1586. JAMES VI. 281 

and suspicion produced by a long captivity, eagerly 
scrutinized every new person or circumstance which 
might affect her destiny. She remembered that Mor- 
gan had employed many years ago a gentleman of the 
same name; but she had never seen him. Could this 
be the same, and was he to be trusted, or might he not 
be some new spy or eavesdropper of her enemies ? To 
ascertain this, she sent a minute description of his 
person to Morgan.* He must have arrived at Chart- 
ley on the ninth July, and, having deciphered the 
intercepted packet to the French ambassador, he, on 
the fourteenth, transmitted it with this letter to Wal- 

" It may please your honour, the packet is presently 
returned, which I stayed, in hopes to send both that 
and the answer to Ba.*J* letter at once : in the mean- 
while beginning to decipher that which we had copied 
out before. And so I send your honour her letter to 
the French ambassador, which was in cipher, and her 
letters to the Lord Claud J and Courcelles out of cipher. 
Likewise, the short note was sent to Bab., wherein is 
somewhat only in answer of that concerned Poley in 
his. We attend her very heart in the next. She begins 
to recover health and strength, and did ride about in 
her coach yesterday. I had a smiling countenance, 
but I thought of the verse 

" ' Cum tibi dicit Ave sicut ab hoste Cave. 
I hope by the next to send your honour better mat- 

* " He was," she said, " of low stature, slender every way, dark, yellow- 
haired on the head, and clear yellow-bearded, pitted in the face with small- 
pocks, short-sighted, and, as it appeared, about thirty years of age." We 
have hero a minute portrait of an acute, unscrupulous, and degraded man ; 
whose talents, as a spy and decipherer, were so successfully employed by 
Walsingham in the detection and destruction of the Scottish (jueen. 

+ Ba., for Babington. 

J Lord Claud Hamilton. 


ters." * * The postscript of this letter is important. 
" If the posts make any reasonable speed, these will 
be with you by to-morrow noon; and G. G. (he means 
Gilbert Gifford) may have delivered his packet and 
received his answer by Sunday; which then despatched 
hither, would give great credit to the action ; for other- 
wise we look not to depart this se'nnight, and, there- 
fore, as good all that belonged hereto were done here 
as at London."* 

How strange a scene was that now presented by the 
castle of Chartley, Mary's prison. The poor queen 
carrying on a plot for her escape ; watching anxiously 
the fate of her letters on which all depended, and 
believing all safe ; whilst Phelipps, living then under 
the same roof, and meeting her, as he says, with a 
smiling countenance, was opening every packet ; com- 
municating her most secret thoughts to Walsingham 
and Elizabeth ; and weaving, at her very elbow, the 
toils in which she was to be caught. 

On this same day, the fourteenth July, Sir Amias 
Paulet wrote to Walsingham, acquainting him that 
the packet sent by Mr Phelipps had been thankfully 
received ; with such answer given by writing as the 
shortness of the time would allow; and a promise made 
to answer more at length at the return of the honest 
man ; which, he added, would be in three days. This 
packet, brought down by Phelipps, and thankfully 
received by Mary, appears to have contained a long 
letter from Babington. It described the conspiracy 
for the invasion of the realm, the escape of the Scot- 
tish queen, and the assassination of Elizabeth. This 
letter, which was not produced at the trial, and which 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, July 14, 1586, Phelipps to Walsingham, 

1586. JAMES VI. 283 

Mary denied having ever received, no longer exists, 
if it ever did exist, in the original ; but a copy, in a 
clerk's hand, has been preserved. Its purport was to 
excuse his long silence, every means of conveying his 
letters having been cut off since the time that she had 
been committed to the custody of such a Puritan as 
Paulet. He then gave an account of his conference 
with Ballard ; informed her of the intended murder of 
the Queen of England by six gentlemen selected for 
that purpose, and of his resolution to set her at the 
same time at liberty ; and he requested her to assign 
rewards to the actors in this tragedy, or to their pos- 
terity should they perish in the attempt.* 

It is to be remembered, that this day, the fourteenth 
July in Sir Annas'" letter and Mr Phelipps" 1 , was the 
twenty-fourth July according to the new style, which 
Mary and her secretaries, Curie and Nau, followed in 
their letters ; and, accordingly, we find that Curie, on 
the twenty-second July new, or twelfth July old style, 
and on the twenty-seventh July new, or seventeenth 
old, wrote two short letters in cipher, which were de- 
ciphered by Phelipps, then at Chartley. They were 
addressed to Gifford; and in the first, he told him, 
that the Queen of Scots had received his letter, dated 
the twelfth of that instant, with its enclosure ; that 
she was grateful for his diligence, but approved of his 
cousin Gilbert's advice, not to employ frequently a 
certain person to whom he had alluded. He (Curie) 
then added this sentence : " If Mr Babingtor. be past 
down to the country, for whom this character x shall 
serve in time coming, her majesty prayeth you to cause 
convey to him this enclosed, otherwise to staj it until 

* Carte, vol. iii. p. 603. Lingard, vol. viii. p. 205. 


you hear from her majesty again. With ray next I 
shall do my best to satisfy you touching the other 
characters. God have you in protection. Of July 
twenty-two. CURLE, Chartley."* 

In the other letter, of the twenty-seventh July, 
Curie wrote to the same person, or to Gilbert Gifford, 
much to the same purpose, informing him, that Mary 
had received his letter of the twenty-fifth inst. ; that 
she commended his zeal, and begged him to have "this 
enclosed surely delivered in the hands of Anthony 
Babington, if he were come down in the country ; 
otherwise to keep it still in his own hands, or his 
brother's, until Babington should arrive." He goes 
on to say, that, within ten days, her majesty would 
have a packet ready to be sent to the French ambas- 
sador by his boy, who, by the same means, might also 
carry the other to Babington at London, if he was not 
come sooner.-f- 

Here, then, at last, is the anxiously expected packet 
from Mary to Babington, to which, as we have seen, 
Phelipps alluded in his letter of the fourteenth July, 
when he wrote to Walsingham, with such emphatic 
eagerness, " We attend her very heart in the next." 
It was enclosed in the packet with this letter of Curie's 
of the twenty-seventh July, and was instantly pounced 
upon by those who were watching for it. Accordingly, 
on the nineteenth July, which, it must be recollected, 
is the twenty-ninth July new style, Phelipps wrote in 
exultation from Chartley to Walsingham : " It may 
please your honour, you have now this queen's answer 
to Babington, which I received yesternight. If he be 
in the country, the original will be conveyed into his 

* MS. State-paper Office, cipher and decipher, July 22, Curie, 
f MS. State-paper Office, cipher and decipher, July 27, 1586. 

] 586. JAMES vi. 285 

hands, and, like enough, answer returned. 1 hope 
for your honour's speedy resolution touching his ap- 
prehension or otherwise, that I may dispose of myself 
accordingly. I think, under correction, you have 
enough of him ; unless you would discover more par- 
ticularities of the confederates, which may be done even 
in his imprisonment. If your honour mean to take 
him, ample commission and charge would be given 
to choice persons for search of his house. It is like 
enough, for all her commandment, her letter will not 
be so soon defaced. I wish it for an evidence against 
her, if it please God, to inspire her majesty with the 
heroical courage that were meet for the avenge of God's 
cause, and the security of herself and this state. At 
least, I hope she will hang Nau and Curie, who justly 
make Sir Amias Paulet take upon him the name she 
imputes to him of a jailor of criminals. * * * 
I have sent you herewith of this queen's letters in the 
packet was last sent, those to the Bishop of Glasgow, 
Don Lewis, and Morgan. * * * She is very bold 
to make way to the great personage ; and, I fear, he 
will be too forward in satisfying her for her change 
till he see Babington's treasons, which 1 doubt not 
but your honour hath care enough of not to discover 
which way this wind comes in. I am sorry to hear 
from London, that Babington was not yet taken, and 
that some searches, by forewarning, have been frus- 

Phelipps concluded his letter, by cautioning Wal- 
singham against one Thoroughgood, who had applied 
for a license to leave the country, and whom he sus- 
pected might be Ballard under a feigned name ; and 
added this postscript : " It may please your honour, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Phelipps to Walsingham, July 19, 1586. 


by Berdon, or ray man, to inform yourself whether 
Babington be at London or no; which known, we will 
resolve presently upon return." Paulet also wrote 
briefly, but joyfully, to Walsingham . His words, he 
said, would be few ; the papers now sent containing 
matter enough for one time ; but he rejoiced that 
" God had blessed his labours, giving him the reward 
of true and faithful service ; and trusted that the queen, 
and her grave councillors, would make their profit of 
the merciful providence of God towards her highness 
and England."* 

It must here be remarked, that there seems no good 
reason to doubt the perfect authenticity of those two 
notes of Curlers, of the twenty-second and twenty- 
seventh July ; and, therefore, no ground for questioning 
the fact, that the Queen of Scots had transmitted two 
several letters to Babington : neither can there be any 
doubt that the letters of Phelipps, written on his road 
to Chartley, and during his residence there, are authen- 
tic ; for they, like Curie's notes, are preserved, and 
prove themselves. But it is certainly remarkable, 
and cannot but excite suspicion, that, at this critical 
moment, the originals of Mary's two letters to Bab- 
ington, which Phelipps undoubtedly received, and the 
contents of which proved, as was affirmed, Mary's 
knowledge of the plot against Elizabeth's life, have 
both disappeared. Nay, the singularity goes farther; 
for Mary sends two letters to Babington, one on the 
twenty-fifth, the other on the twenty-seventh; and 
only one was afterwards produced against her, and that 
confessedly not an original. All the other letters of 
Curie, Morgan, Nau, Gifford, and others, in these 
intricate doings, have been preserved, and generally 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Paulet to Walsingham, July 20, 1586, 

1586. JAMES vi. 287 

with the decipher; but this letter, the most important 
of all, on which, indeed, the whole question turned, is 
a copy. At the trial, when this copy was produced 
and argued on, when Mary solemnly asserted that it 
was never written by her, and challenged her enemies 
to show the original, it was not forthcoming. It is 
impossible not to regard this as a suspicious circum- 
stance, coupled with the fact already noticed, that the 
letter of Babington to Mary is in the same predicament, 
and exists only as a copy ; and this suspicion is greatly 
increased by an assertion of Camden, that, after inter- 
cepting and opening the Scottish queen's letter to 
Babington, Walsingham, and his assistant Phelipps, 
cunningly added to it a postscript in the same char- 
acters, desiring him to set down the names of the six 
gentlemen, and it is likely (he observes) other things 
too.* Hitherto this statement of Camden, which 
involves a charge of so dark a kind against Walsiug- 
ham, has rested on his bare averment, unsupported by 
all evidence ; but I have found recently in the State- 
paper Office, a small letter written wholly in the same 
cipher as that of Mary's long letter to Babington, and 
endorsed in the hand of Phelipps, " The postscript of 
the Scottish queen's letter to Babington." It runs 
thus, and certainly gives great support to the allegation 
of Camden : " I would be glad to know the names 
and qualities of the six gentlemen which are to accom- 
plish the designment ; for that it may be I shall be 
able, upon knowledge of the parties, to give you some 
further advice necessary to be followed therein ;-f- as 

* Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 517. 

t After this, in the original cipher, follows this sentence scored through, 
but so as to be quite legible : " And even so do I wish to be made acquainted 
with the names of all such principal pcisons, as also wo be already as also 
who be." 


also, from time to time, particularly how you proceed ; 
and as soon as you may, for the same purpose, who be 
already, and how far every one, privy hereunto." * 
The exact bearing of this postscript, as a proof of 
Mary's innocence, will afterwards appear. In the 
mean time, it is sufficient to remark, that it goes far 
to establish the fact, that her letters to Babington were 
tampered with, and added to by Walsingham. 

Returning, however, to the contents of her reply, 
we find that Mary, in this real or pretended letter to 
Babington, entered fully into the details of the intended 
invasion. She recommended them to examine deeply, 
first what forces they might raise ; what captains they 
should appoint; of what towns and havens they could 
assure themselves ; where it would be best to assemble 
their chief strength ; what number of foreign auxili- 
aries they required ; what provision of money and 
armour ; by what means the six gentlemen deliberated 
to proceed; and in what manner she should be assisted 
in making her escape. Having weighed all this, she 
recommended them to communicate the result, and 
their intentions, to Mendoza the Spanish ambassador, 
to whom she promised to write; she enjoined on them 
the greatest caution and secrecy : and, to conceal their 
real designs, advised them to communicate it only to 
a few, pretending to the rest of their friends that they 
were arming themselves against some suspected attack 
of the Puritans. She then expressed herself in these 
remarkable words : 

" Affairs being thus prepared, and forces in readiness, 

* This was deciphered for me by Mr Lemon of the State-paper Office, who 
has added this sentence : " I hereby declare, that the above is a true and literal 
decipher of the document in the State-paper Office in cipher, endorsed by 
Phelipps T/te Postscript of tlie Scottish Queen's letter to Babington. The 
lines struck through with the pen are in a similar manner struck through 
iii the original. ROBT. LEMON." The spelling has been modernised. 

1586. JAMES VI. 289 

both without and within the realm, then shall it be time 
to set the six gentlemen to work ; taking order, upon 
the accomplishing of their design, I may be suddenly 
transported out of this place, and that all your forces, 
in the same time, -be on the field to meet ,ine. * * * 
Nor for that there can be no certain day appointed 
of the accomplishing of the said gentlemen's design- 
ment, to the end that others may be in readiness to 
take me from hence, I would that the said gentlemen 
had always about them, or, at the least, at court, four 
stout men furnished with good and speedy horses, for, 
so soon as the said design shall be executed, to come 
with all diligence, to advertise thereof those that shall 
be appointed for my transporting ; to the end that, 
immediately thereafter, they may be at the place of 
my abode, before that my keeper can have advice of the 
execution of the said design, or at least before he can 
fortify himself within the house, or carry me out of the 
same. It were necessary to despatch two or three of 
the said advertisers by divers ways, to the end that if 
one be staid, the other may come through ; and at the 
same instant, were it also needful, to assay to cut off 
the post's ordinary ways. This is the plat which 1 
find best for this enterprise, and the order whereby you 
should conduct the same for our common securities. 
* I shall assay, (she continued,) that at the 
same time that the work shall be in hand in these 
parts, to make the Catholics of Scotland arise, and 
to put my son in their hands ; to the effect that from 
thence our enemies here may not prevail to have any 
succour." She then added this caution, little believing 

7 O 

that, in the moment she was writing, her cause had 
been betrayed, " Take heed of spies and false brethren 
that are amongst you, specially of some priests already 



practised by our enemies for your discovery ; and in 
any wise, keep never any paper about you that in any 
sort may do harm ; for from like errors have come the 
condemnation of all such as have suffered heretofore." 
* * * In the last place, the queen informed 
Babington, that for a long time past, she had been a 
suitor to have the place of her confinement changed, 
and that Dudley castle had been suggested, to which 
place it was not unlikely she might be removed by the 
end of summer. She then observed, " If I stay here, 
there is for that purpose [her escape] but one of these 
three means following to be looked [to.] The first, 
that at one certain day, appointed, in my walking 
abroad on horseback on the moors, betwixt this and 
Stafford, where ordinarily you know very few people 
do pass, a fifty or threescore men, well horsed and 
armed, come to take me there ; as they may easily, 
my keeper having with him ordinarily but eighteen 
or twenty horsemen only with dags.* The second 
mean is, to come at midnight, or soon after, to set 
fire in the barns and stables, which you know are near 
to the house ; and whilst that my guardian's servants 
shall run forth to the fire, your company (having every 
one a mark whereby they may know one another under 
night) might surprise the house, where, I hope, with 
the few servants I have about me, I were able to give 
you correspondence. And the third : some that bring 
carts hither, ordinarily coming early in the morning, 
their carts might be so prepared, and with such cart- 
leaders, that being cast in the midst of the great gate, 
the carts might fall down or overwhelm, and that there- 
upon you might come suddenly with your followers 

Dags Pistols. 

1586, JAMES VI. 291 

to make yourself master of the house and carry me 
away." * * * She concluded her letter with ex- 
pressions of deep gratitude to Babington : " What- 
soever issue the matter taketh, I do and will think 
myself obliged, as long as I live, towards you for the 
offers you make to hazard yourself as you do for my 
delivery ; and by any means that ever I may have, 
I shall do my endeavour to recognise, by effects, your 
deserts herein. I have commanded a more ample 
alphabet to be made for you, which herewith you will 
receive. God Almighty have you in protection ! 
Your most assured friend for ever. X . Fail not to 
burn this present quickly."* 

As soon as Walsingham had procured this letter, 
which directly implicated Mary, not only in the con- 
spiracy for the invasion, but proved, by inference, her 
assent to the plot for the assassination of the English 
queen, he determined to secure Ballard and his fellows 
on the first opportunity. It was necessary, however, 
to act with extreme caution. If one of the conspir- 
ators was laid hold of before another, the rest might 


take alarm and escape, the news reach Chartley, and 
Mary, whose papers he had resolved to seize, might 
order everything to be destroyed. He was too acute 
not to anticipate great difficulty even after all he had 
done and intercepted. The letters of Mary to Morgan 
and to Babington were not in the queen's hand, but 
in cipher, and were written by her secretaries, Nau or 
Curie. She might deny them. The small notes en- 
closing these letters were also in cipher, and confessedly 
from Curie and Nau. She might assert that they had 
written them without her orders, and unknown to 

* MS. Copy, State-paper Office. 


her.* The only way of completing the proof was 
to search her repositories for the original minutes 
or rough drafts of these letters, and to seize Curie 
and Nau, and compel them to confess all they knew. 
Hence the extreme danger of giving any alarm at 
Chartley, which might lead to the destruction of the 
one, or the escape of the other. Babington apparently 
was still unsuspicious, and in constant communication 
with Walsingham. Contrary to his original intention, 
he had given up his plan of going down to Lichfield, 
and had remained in London, where he held secret 
meetings with Ballard, Savage, Poley, Dun, and the 
other conspirators. 

In these difficult circumstances, Walsingham was 
compelled to act rapidly, and yet with caution. He 
sent for Phelipps, (July twenty-second,) who remained 
still at Chartley, busy in the task of deciphering the 
last letters intercepted, addressed to Mendoza and the 
French ambassador.-f- Elizabeth, he said, would thank 
him, on his arrival, with her own lips; but as Babing- 
ton was still in London, he must bring with him the 
original letter of Mary to this traitor. It was not, 
however, brought up by the decipherer till the twenty- 
seventh or twenty-eighth, and was then conveyed to 
Babington by a secret messenger, to whom he promised 
to have the answer ready by the second of August. J 
And here, in passing, it seems very important to re- 
mark, that the original letter of Mary to Babington, 
the letter which brought home to her the knowledge 

* The reader will observe, that I am here reasoning on the assumption that 
Mary's letters to Babington, as they appear in the copies, were authentic. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Phelipps, July 22, 
1 586, Papers of Mary. 

MS. Letter, State-paper OSice, Paulet to Walsingham, July 29, 1586, 
Papers of Mary. 

1586. JAMES VT. 293 

of the conspiracy against the queen's life, and which 
has been already fully quoted, was confessedly in the 
hands of Phelipps the decipherer from the evening of 
the eighteenth July, when he intercepted it, * to the 
twenty-seventh or twenty-eighth of the same month, 
a period of nine days at the least. There was ample 
time, therefore, to make any changes or additions 
which might seem necessary for the implication of the 
Scottish queen. So far with Walsirigham all had 
proceeded well. Babington had received the important 
letter, and promised his answer. Meanwhile, the task 
of arresting Ballard had been committed to Milles, one 
of Walsingham's secretaries ; but this conspirator used 
so many devices, and glided about so mysteriously, 
often changing his lodging, that for some time he 
eluded all their vigilance. At last he was seized and 
lodged in the Counter, a prison in Wood Street.-f- 
Phelipps, however, began to be in great alarm about 
Babington, who had now become suspicious that they 
were discovered, and instead of keeping his appoint- 
ment for the second August, had ridden out of town, 
none knew where. The truth seems to have been, 
that the unhappy man was in an agony of suspense. 
He had discovered Maud's treachery, and trembled 
for their plot being on the point of detection. If he 
fled the cause was lost. If he remained, it might be 
to perish miserably. He at last resolved to write to 
Mary, and return with the vain hope of still over- 
reaching Walsingham. His letter to the Scottish 
queen, dated the third August, was intercepted like 
the rest.J It informed her of their danger, but con- 

* See supra, p. 284. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Milles to Walsingham, August 4, 1586. 

J MS. Letter, State -paper Office, Phelipps to Walsingham, Aug. 2, 1586. 


jured her not to be dismayed, for all would yet go well. 
It was God's cause, lie said, and that of the Church ; it 
must succeed: and they had sworn to perform it or die. 
He added, that he would send the answer to her pro- 
positions, and their final determination, in the next.* 
This promised letter, however, he was destined never to 
write. He returned to London on the fourth August, 
the day on which Ballard was apprehended; heard 
the fatal news ; attempted a feeble remonstrance with 
Walsingham ; was reassured by the crafty excuses of 
that veteran intriguer for a few hours; again doubted 
and trembled ; and at last eluding the men who were 
set to watch his motions, escaped, in disguise, with 
some of his companions, and concealed himself in St 
John's Wood, near the city. 

Walsingham appears hitherto, in these plots and 
counterplots, to have acted on his own responsibility ; 
but it had at length become necessary to determine 0*1 
Mary's fate : and with this view, he now, for the first 
time, laid before Elizabeth, in their full extent, the 
appalling discoveries which he had made; the conspi- 
racy for the invasion of the realm ; and that also 
against her own life. The queen was thunderstruck. 
She saw her extreme danger. The plot was evidently 
proceeding in her own dominions, in Scotland, in Spain, 
perhaps in France ; yet, though its general purpose 
was clear, its particular ramifications, especially in 
Scotland, and at Eome, were still unknown. She now 
recalled to mind Randolph"^ solemn and warning 
letter, written from Edinburgh some months before 
this.-f* The persons to whom he alluded must be 
fellow-conspirators of Ballard; and this man, who 

* MS. Letter, Copy, State-paper Office, Babington to the Queen of Scots, 
August 3, 1586. f Supra, p. 247. 

1586. JAMES VI. 295 

seemed the principal agent, could probably tell all. 
Walsingham had used the precaution of apprehending 
him, simply on the charge of being a seminary priest, 
and, as such, interdicted by law from entering England. 
Elizabeth, under these circumstances, commanded 
Walsingham to keep everything still to himself. It 
was not time yet, she said, to consult the council : she 
and he must act alone ; and it was her advice that he 
should first bribe some of Ballard's confidants, if he 
knew of any such, and thus elicit his secrets. She 
suggested, also, that if any cipher used by the traitor 
in his correspondence had come to his hands, he might 
employ it to extract from him the particulars of the 
plot against her life. It is from Walsingham's answer 
to this proposition of the queen that the above parti- 
culars are drawn ; and the letter itself is too interesting 
to be omitted. It is as follows : 

" It may please your most excellent majesty, I 
will, as duty bindeth me, most pointedly observe your 
majesty's commandment, especially in keeping to my- 
self both the depth and the manner of the discovery 
of this great and weighty cause. The use of some apt 
instrument towards Ballard, if there could be such a 
one found as he could confidently trust, or we might 
stand assured would deal faithfully, nothing would 
work so good effect as such a course. The party that 
hath been used between us, seemeth not in any sound 
concert with him, though he was content for the ser- 
ving of his turn to use him. Touching the use of a 
cipher, there is none between him and any other come 
to my hands, so as nothing can be wrought that way 
as your majesty most politicly adviseth. Mr Vice- 
chamberlain* and I are humbly to crave your majesty's 

* Sir C. Hatton. 


directions touching the placing of Ballard afore exami- 
nation. He remaineth now under a most strait guard 
in one of the Counters ; and for the avoiding of 
intelligence, there are two trusty * placed with him to 
attend on him. In case he shall not lay himself open 
by disclosing, then were it fit he were committed to 
the Tower, with two trusty men to attend on him, to 
the end he may be examined out of hand, and forced 
by torture to utter that which otherwise he will not 
disclose." -f- 

We must now turn to Mary, who not only remained 
in utter ignorance of all that happened, but continued 
her secret correspondence with her foreign friends 
"greedily," as Paulet expressed it, when he intercepted 
the packet. J The time had now come to disclose the 
toils. On the third of August, Mr Waad, a privy- 
councillor, posted from London ; met Paulet in the fields 
near Chartley, and held a secret consultation. Its re- 
sult was soon seen. The Scottish queen was still fond 
of the chase. She had cheerfully boasted to Morgan, 
in one of her letters, that when her enemies were re- 
presenting her as bedrid, she was able to handle her 
cross-bow, and follow a stag. On the morning of the 
eighth August, her keeper, Paulet, invited her to hunt 
in the neighbouring park of Tixall, belonging to Sir 
Walter Ashton : she accepted, rode from Chartley, 
with a small suite, amongst whom were Nau and Curie 
her secretaries, and had not proceeded far, when Mr 
Thomas Gorges encountered them, and riding up to 
the queen, informed her of the discovery of the con- 

* So in original. 

f MS. State-paper Office, Orig. drafts, Walsingham, to Elizabeth, about 
5th or 6th August, 1586. 

$ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Paulet to Walsingham, July 30, 1586. 
The Queen of Scots to Morgan, July 27, 1586. Murdin,p. 534. 

1586. JAMES vi. 297 

spiracy; adding, that he had received orders not to 
suffer her to return to Chartley, but to carry her to 
Tixall. At the same instant, Nau and Curie were 
seized, kept separate from each other, and hurried 
away, under a strong guard, to London. Mary was 
completely taken by surprise. She broke into violent 
reproaches, and called upon her suite to defend their 
mistress from the traitors who dared to lay hands on 
her. But a moment's reflection convinced her they 
were far too weak for resistance; and she suffered 
Paulet to lead her to Tixall. * Here, by Elizabeth's 
orders, she was kept a close prisoner, secluded from 
her servants, refused the ministry of her private chap- 
lain, served by strangers, deprived of the use of writing 
materials, and completely cut off from all intelligence. 
Whilst this scene of arrest was acting in the fields, 
Mr Waad had arrived at Chartley; where he broke 
open her repositories, seized her caskets, papers, letters, 
and ciphers; and was, soon after, joined by Paulet, 
who took possession of her money. All was then 
packed up and sealed, preparatory to being sent to 
Elizabeth, who now appears to have directed every 
step. This princess was overjoyed at the success 
which had attended the arrest of Mary : she wrote to 
Paulet, addressing him as the most faithful of her 
subjects ; promised him a reward " non omnibus 
datum;' 1 '' and, soon after, sent a new message, eagerly 
desiring him to write the whole story of everything 
done to Mary; not that she suspected (as she said) 
he had omitted any part of his duty, but " simply 
that she might take pleasure in the reading thereof.** 1 ^ 

* MS. State-paper Office, Sir Amias Paulet's Postils to Mr William 
Waad's Memorial. Ibid., Esnevall to Courcelles, October 7, 1586. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr Necasius Yetswert to Sir Francis 
Walsingharn, Windsor, August 19, 1586. 


Above all things, Elizabeth urged the safe keeping, 
and immediate transmission to her, of the caskets 
found in the Queen of Scots' 1 repositories. These, and 
the things contained in them, she declared were, in 
her esteem, of far greater value than Nau or Curie ; 
and, not content with a written message, she deputed 
a special envoy from Windsor to look after these trea- 
sures and bring them at once.* 

Shortly before this, Elizabeth had a new triumph 
in the seizure of Babington and his companions. Till 
now, they had escaped the officers who were in pursuit ; 
but driven at last by hunger from the woods into the 
open country, they were apprehended near Harrow, 
and carried in triumph to London, amid the shouts 
and execration of the citizens. There was no want of 
evidence against them, and their own confessions cor- 
roborated all; but after the day for their trials had 
been fixed, and everything seemed ready, the English 
queen suddenly caught alarm, from the idea, that if 
the charge made by the crown lawyers, and the evi- 
dence of the witnesses deeply implicated Mary, her 
own life was not safe. Elizabeth had not yet resolved 
on the trial of the Scottish queen, and the evidence 
against her was most imperfect. Her two secretaries, 
Nau and Curie, had as yet confessed nothing which 
materially involved their mistress. No original minutes 
of the letters to Babington had been found.f Even 
if Mary's trial were to take place, it was clear that a 
considerable interval must elapse between her arraign- 

* Could it be that the queen expected to find, amongst these treasures, 
the famous casket, containing the letters of Bothwell, -which she had made 
such strenuous exertions to get into her possession in 1583? See supra, 
p. 123. Lingard, 4th edition, vol. viii. p. '212. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Phelipps, September 
3, 1586. 

1536. JAMES vi. 299 

ment and the execution of the conspirators ; and, in 
this interval, what might not be attempted- against her 
own life? Though some of the leading conspirators 
were taken, yet many desperate men might still be 
lurking about court; and so intensely did she feel 
upon this subject, that, on the evening of the twelfth 
September, the very day before the trial, she sent 
repeated messages and letters to Burghley, command- 
ing that, in the " Indictment " and in the evidence, 
there should be no enlargement of the Queen of Scots 1 
crime. It was her favourite, Sir Christopher Hatton 
the Vice-chamberlain, who transmitted these wishes 
to Burghley ; and the reason he gave was, that Eliza- 
beth felt that it might be perilous to herself, if any- 
thing were given in evidence which touched Mary 
" criminally for her life. 11 * 

Amid these alarms the trials proceeded ; and Babiug- 
ton, Ballard, and Savage, with the rest of the conspir- 
ators being found guilty, were executed on the twentieth 
and twenty-first of September, with a studied cruelty, 
which it is revolting to find proceeded from Elizabeth's 
special orders. 

She had at first suggested to her council, that some 
"new device 11 should be adopted to enhance their 
tortures, and strike more terror into the people ; to 
which it was answered by Burghley, that the manner 
of the execution prescribed by law, would be fully as 
terrible as any other new device, if the hangman took 
care to " protract the action," to the extremity of their 
pains, and to the sight of the multitude who beheld it.-f- 
The executioner by special direction did so : but the 

* MS. Letter, Burghley to Sir Christopher Hatton, September 12, 1586, 
discovered by Mr Leigh, who is at present preparing a work on Babington's 


ingiird, vol. viii., 8vo edition, pp. 215, 216. 


sight of seven men cut up alive, after being partially 
strangled, was found to excite the rage and disgust of 
the multitude; and next day the second seven were 
permitted to be executed after a milder fashion.* 

But, leaving these cruel scenes, we must turn to 
the unhappy Mary. On the twenty-fifth August, she 
was removed from Tixall, to her former residence at 
Chartley, under the charge of Sir Amias Paulet, and 
a body of gentlemen of the neighbourhood, to the 
number of a hundred and forty horse. This strong 
escort Elizabeth thought necessary x from the suspicion 
that many comihiserated Mary's fate; and, indeed, 
Walsingham's letters betrayed considerable uneasiness 
on the subject. But his apprehensions were needless; 
for nothing could now be more utterly helpless than the 
situation of the royal captive. She had been deprived, 
during her stay at Tixall, of all her servants, and was 
surrounded by strangers. When seen coming from 
the gate of the castle, a crowd of poor people assembled 
round her; and on some asking alms, she answered, 
weeping, that she had nothing to give. All has been 
taken from me, said she: I am a beggar as well as 
you. Then turning to Sir Walter Ashton, the pro- 
prietor of Tixall, and the other gentlemen, she again 
burst into tears, exclaiming, " Good gentlemen, I am 
not witting of anything intended against the queen." 
On reaching Chartley castle, her old prison, an affecting 
incident occurred. The wife of Curie her secretary, 
had been confined during the interval between Mary's 
removal and her return ; and before going to her own 
chamber, the queen, with the affectionate consideration 
which she always showed to her servants, went to visit 

* Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 518. 

1586. JAMES VI. 301 

the mother and child. It was a female; and turning 
to Paulet, who stood by, she begged him, since her 
own priest was removed from her, to suffer his chaplain 
to christen the babe and give it the name of Mary. 
It might have been imagined that Sir Amias, who 
constantly talked of Catholicism as idolatry, and 
believed Protestantism to be the truth, would have 
welcomed the proposal; but he peremptorily refused. 
The queen said nothing at the time ; but retiring for 
a short season, came again into the room, and taking 
the infant on her knee, dipped her hand in a basin of 
water, and sprinkling its face, said, " Mary, I baptize 
thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of 
the Holy Ghost." Paulet, in a letter to Walsingham, 
which described the scene, affected to be shocked at 
a scandal which he might himself so easily have pre- 
vented. He was ignorant, probably, that the Catholic 
Church, under such circumstances, permitted lay bap- 
tism ; but the man was of a perverse, churlish temper 
a strict Puritan, and, as his letters often showed, 
more remarkable for his zeal than his charity.* Mary 
now proceeded to her own apartment ; and on reaching 
it, the keys of the chamber, and of her coffers, were 
offered to one of her servants, who had been at length 
suffered to attend on her : but the queen commanded 
him not to receive them; and bade Mr Barrel, one of 
Paulet's assistants, open the door. He did so; and on 
entering, finding her papers seized, and her repositories 
empty, she expressed herself with deep indignation : 
declaring that there were two things which the Queen 
of England could never take from her, her English 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Paulet to Walsingham, August 22, 
1586. Ibid., same to the same, August 24, 158G. Ibid., same to the same, 
August 27, 1586. 


blood, and her Catholic religion. She then added, 
that some of them might jet be sorry for this outrage; 
a threat which ruffled and disturbed Paulet.* 

All the efforts of Elizabeth and Walsingham were 
now directed to collect conclusive evidence against the 
Scottish queen. Her secretaries, Nau and Curie, were 
in their hands, and repeatedly examined ; but up to 
the third of September, their confessions did not 
materially involve their mistress.-f- The evidence 
connecting her with the general conspiracy for the 
invasion of the realm was perfectly clear ; her cor- 
respondence with France, Spain, and Scotland, and 
her secret practices with the Catholics in England, 
was fully made out. But this was not considered 
enough ; and Walsingham, in despair, wrote to Phe- 
lipps, then at Chartley, that Nau and Curie would 
by no means be brought to confess that they were 
acquainted with the letters that passed between their 
mistress and Babington : adding, " I would to God 
that these minutes could be found .'"J It is evident 
that, by these minutes, the secretary meant such 
rough drafts or notes, of Mary's letters to Babington, 
as he conjectured might be preserved in her reposi- 
tories: and here we have a clear admission that, unless 
such were found, the evidence against the Scottish 
queen was considered incomplete. At this moment 
of perplexity and difficulty Burghley wrote to Sir 
Christopher Hatton, suggesting, that it was terror for 
themselves that kept the Scottish queen's secretaries 
silent : they refused, as he thought, to implicate their 
mistress, because it might bring ruin on themselves ; 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Paulet to Walsingham, Aug. 27, 158G. 
) MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Walsingham to Phelipps, Sept. 3, 1586. 
1 Ibid. 

1586. JAMES VI. 303 

but, he added, assure them of safety, and then we shall 
have the whole truth from them. "Surely, then," said 
h, (to use his own revolting expressions,) "they will 
yield in writing somewhat to confirm their mistress" 1 
crime, if they were persuaded that themselves might 
scape, and the blow fall upon their mistress, betwixt 
her head and her shoulders." * So jocularly could the 
aged treasurer anticipate the scaffold and the block 
for the unhappy victim whom he was so solicitous to 
sacrifice. On the same day (fourth September) Wal- 
singham wrote to Phelipps, who was then at court. It 
was evident, he said, that Mary's "minutes were not 
extant." He directed him, therefore, to seek access to 
Elizabeth, and persuade her to promise some extra- 
ordinary favour to Curie, \vho had admitted, in general 
terms, his mistress' correspondence with Babington, 
but obstinately refused to be more explicit.^ 

Both this person, Curie, and his brother secretary, 
Nau, were, in truth, in a difficult dilemma. If they 
acknowledged that the correspondence between the 
queen and Babington was in their handwriting, whether 
the letters were in written characters or in cipher, or 
whether they related simply to the project of invasion, 
or included an allusion to the plot against Elizabeth's 
life, they stood convicted of treason. If they remained 
obstinate, they had before them the dreadful alter- 
native of the Tower and the torture. They acted as 
might have been expected in such circumstances : at 
first denied everything, and at length made a partial 
admission, which increased the presumptions, but 
was not conclusive, against the Scottish queen. On 

* MS. Letter, Burghley to Sir Christopher Hatton, September 4, 1586; 
discovered by Mr Leigh. Lingard, vol. viii. p. 21.9. 

f- MS. Letter, State-paper Office, "VValsingham to Phelipps, September 
4, 1586. 


the fifth September, the day after Burghley had writ- 
ten to Hatton, Nau, actuated, no doubt, by Hatton's 
promises of escape and pardon, described minutely 
the manner in which Mary managed her secret cor- 
respondence. The queen, he said, would never allow 
anything secret or important to be written anywhere 
but in her cabinet, himself and Curie sitting at 
the table. It was her usual practice to dictate the 
points which she was pleased should be written ; he 
took them down, read them over to her, drew out the 
letters, again submitted them for correction, and finally 
delivered them to be put into cipher and disposed of 
according to her orders. In this manner were written 
the intercepted letters of the queen to the Archbishop 
of Glasgow, Charles Paget, and the Spanish ambassa- 
dor: but as to the letter to Babiugton, he declared 
that his mistress had delivered it to him for the most 
part written in her own hand.* It was Curie, he said, 
who finally translated and put the letters in cipher ; 
and this same process had taken place with this letter 
as with the rest. This evidence was far from being 
sufficiently explicit or satisfactory ; and various at- 
tempts were made to amend it. Burghley now threat- 
ened Nau with the Tower ;^ and the terror of his 
commitment drew from him, on the tenth September, 
a long declaration, addressed privately to Elizabeth ; 
which Burghley threw aside as of no importance, as it 
did not charge the Scottish queen with any direct 
accession to the conspiracy for Elizabeth's death, but 
simply with having previously known that such a plot 

* MS. State-paper Office, September 5, 1586. Endorsed in Phelipps' 
hand, " 6th September, Copie, Nau his confession of the manner of writing 
and making up his Mistress' pacquets ; and that she wrote Babington's letters 
with her own hand." 

j- Letter, Burghley to Walsingham, Sept. 8, 1586 ; in Ellis, vol. iii. p. 5, 

1586. JAMES VI. 805 

existed.* The queen, Nau affirmed, had neither invented 
nor desired, nor in any way meddled with this plot, 
but had confined herself to the designs for the invasion 
of the realm and her escape; and at this crisis the 
unfortunate letter from Babington had arrived, which 
Mary had received, but did not consider herself bound 
to reveal. It is quite clear that this declaration, wrung 
out from Nau, did not corroborate, but rather contra- 
dicted .the alleged letter of the Scottish queen to 
Babington, a sufficient reason why Burghley should 
have disregarded it. After an interval of eleven days, 
Nau and Curie were a^ain examined before the Lord 


Chancellor, Burghley, and Sir Christopher Hatton. 
Babington and his companions had been executed the 
day before : on that same morning seven more conspir- 
ators, had been drawn to Tyburn. In the interval 
between this examination and their last, Ballard had 
been so " racked" that he was carried to the bar and 
arraigned in a chair ;-f- and it was hoped that, under 
the influence of terror for a similar fate, the secretaries 
would declare all. Of this last examination no perfect 
account has been preserved : but in an original minute 
drawn up by Phelipps, it is stated that Nau confessed 
that Curie had deciphered Babington's letter to Mary: 
that he (Nau) afterwards took down, from her dicta- 
tion, the points of her answer; in which his mistress 
required Babington to consider what forces they might 
raise, what towns they might assure, where were the 
fittest places to assemble, what foreign forces were 
required, what money they should demand, what were 

* MS. State-paper Office, September 10, 1586. Endorsed, " Nau's long 
declaration of things of no importance, sent privately to her Majesty." This 
endorsation is wholly in Burghley's hand. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Secret Advertisements, Babington, September 
16, 1586. 



the means by which the six gentlemen deliberated to 
proceed, and in what manner she should be gotten out 
of the hold she was in.* Nau added, that there was 
one other clause of his mistress'' letter to Babington, 
in which she advised the six gentlemen to have about 
them four stout men with good horses, who, as soon 
as their purpose was executed, were to bring speedy 
intelligence to the party appointed to transport the 
queen of Scots. This statement of Nau was corrobor- 
ated by Curie; who added, that his mistress wished 
him to burn the English copy of the letters sent to 
Babington. -f- 

It was now considered that there was sufficient 
evidence against the Queen of Scots, and there only 
remained the question of the mode of trial; nor was 
this long in deliberation. Elizabeth held a special 
consultation with Burghley on the twenty-fourth Sep- 
tember ; J and after considerable discussion and delay 
in the privy-council, a commission was issued on the 
fifth October to thirty-six individuals, including peers, 
privy-councillors, and judges, directing them to in- 
quire into, and determine all offences committed against 
the statute of the 27th of the queen, either by Mary, 
daughter and heiress of James the Fifth, late King 
of Scotland, or by any other person whomsoever.^ 
Chasteauneuf, the French ambassador, having heard 
of these proceedings, demanded, in the name of his 
master, that the Scottish queen should have counsel 
assigned her for her defence ; but this was peremptorily 
refused ; and on the sixth of October, Sir Amias Paulet, 
Sir Walter Mildmay, and Mr Barker a notary, waited 

* MS. State-paper Office, September 21, 1586. 

+ Hardwicke Papers, vol. i. p. 237. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Burghley to Phelipps, Sept. 24, 1586. 

Lingard, vol. viii. p. 2'J2. 

1586. JAMES vi. 307 

on Mary at Fotheringay castle, in Northamptonshire, 
to which place she had been removed from Chartley, 
and delivered her a letter from their mistress. It 
stated briefly and severely, that to her great and in- 
estimable grief, she understood that Mary pretended, 
with great protestations, to have given no assent to, 
and even to have been ignorant of, any attempt against 
her state and person. It asserted, that the contrary 
would be verified by the clearest proofs : that she had, 
therefore, sent some of her chief and ancient noblemen 
to charge her with having consented to that most hor- 
rible and unnatural conspiracy lately discovered; that, 
living as she did within the protection of, and thereby 
subject to her laws, she must abide by the mode of 
trial which they enjoined; and she, therefore, required 
her to give credit to those noblemen who held her 
commission under the great seal, and make answer 
to whatever they objected against her.* 

Mary read the English queen's letter with great 
composure. " I cannot but be sorry," said she, " that 
iny sister is so ill informed against me, as to have 
treated every ofter made by myself, or my friends, 
with neglect. I am her highness' nearest kinswoman, 
and have forewarned her of coming dangers ; but have 
not been believed: and latterly, 'the association' for 
her majesty's preservation, and the Act passed upon 
it, have given me ample warning of all that is intended 
against me. It was easy to be foreseen, that every 
danger which might arise to my sister from foreign 
princes, or private persons, or for matter of religion, 
would be laid to my charge. I know I have many 
enemies about the queen. Witness my long captivity ; 
the studied indignities I have received ; and now this 

* MS. draft, State-paper Office, October 5, 1586. 


last association between my sister and my son, in which 
I was not consulted, and which has been concluded 
without my consent. As to my answer to the accu- 
sation now made, (continued Mary,) her majesty's 
letter is indeed written after a strange sort. It seems 
to me to partake of the nature of a command ; and it 
is, perhaps, expected that I am to reply as a subject. 
What ! " she then exclaimed, catching fire at the word, 
whilst her eye flashed, and the colour for a brief space 
rose in her cheek ; " does not your mistress know that 
I was born a queen ? and thinks she that I will so far 
prejudice my rank and state, the blood whereof I am 
descended, the son who is to follow me, and the foreign 
kings and princes whose rights would be wounded 
through me, as to come and answer to such a letter 
as that ? Never ! Worn down as I may appear, my 
heart is great, and will not yield to any affliction. But 
why discuss these matters \ Her majesty knows the 
protestation I have once before made to the Lord Chan- 
cellor and Lord De la Ware ; and by that I still abide. 
I am ignorant of the laws and statutes of this realm : 
I am destitute of council : I know not who can be my 
competent peers : my papers have been taken from 
me ; and nobody dareth, or will speak in my behalf, 
though I am innocent. I have not procured or en- 
couraged any hurt against your mistress. Let her 
convict me by my words, or by ray writings. Sure I 
am neither the one nor the other can be produced 
against me. Albeit, I am free to confess, that, when 
my sister had rejected every offer which I made. I 
remitted myself and my cause to foreign princes." * A 
few days after this spirited and dignified answer was 

* MS. State-paper Office, October 12, 1536, The Scottish Queen's first 

1586. JAMES vi. 309 

reported to Elizabeth, the thirty-six commissioners 
arrived at Fotheringay, and chose a deputation from 
their number to wait upon the queen ; who, after four 
successive interviews with them, adhered to her re- 
solution, and declined their jurisdiction. Into the 
clear and convincing reasons which she alleged for 
this proceeding it is unnecessary to enter, although it 
is impossible not to be struck with the spirit, ability, 
and talent, with which, unbefriended and unassisted 
by any one, she held her ground against the subtlety 
and perseverance of her assailants. On one of these 
occasions, turning to the Lord Chancellor Bromley, she 
requested him to explain the meaning of that passage 
in the Queen of England's, letter, which affirmed that 
she was subject to the laws of England, and lived 
under the queen's protection. " I came," said she, 
" into England to request assistance, and I was in- 
stantly imprisoned. Is that protection V Bromley 
was taken by surprise, and contented himself by an 
evasion. The meaning of their royal mistress, he said, 
was plain ; but, being subjects, it was not their part 
to interpret it.* Elizabeth was immediately informed 
of this determined refusal of Mary. She learned, at 
the same time, the resolution of her commissioners to 
hear the evidence, and pronounce sentence, although 
the accused declined to plead ; and she wrote privately 
to Burghley the Lord Treasurer, commanding him 
and the other commissioners not to pronounce sen- 
tence till they had repaired to her presence and made 
a report of the whole proceedings.^ 

* Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 521. 

t MS. Letter, copy, British Museum, Caligula, C. ix. fol. 332. The Eng- 
lish Queen to Lord Burghley, October 12. MS. State-paper Office, The 
Queen to the Lord Treasurer, and the Commissioners ; a draft, in Secretary 
Davison's hand. 


It would have been well for Mary had she adhered 
to this first resolution ; but some expressions of Sir 
Christopher Hatton the Vice-chamberlain made a deep 
impression upon her. He had insinuated that her de- 
clining to answer would be interpreted as an admission 
of guilt : he implored her to remember that even if 
she refused to appear before the commissioners, (for 
hitherto Mary had received their deputation in her 
private chamber,) they must proceed against her in 
absence ; and at the same moment, she received a 
brief and menacing note from Elizabeth ; in which 
severity, if she remained obstinate, was blended artfully 
with a promise of favour, should she relent. It was 
in these words : 

" You have in various ways attempted to deprive 
me of my life, and to bring ruin on my kingdom by 
shedding of blood. I have never proceeded so hardly 
against you ; but, on the contrary, have cherished and 
preserved you as faithfully as if you were my own self. 
Your treasons will be proved and made manifest to 
you in that place where you now are. For this reason, 
it is our pleasure that you answer to the nobility and 
barons of my kingdom as you would do to myself were 
I there in person ; and as my last injunction, I charge 
and command you to reply to them. I have heard of 
your arrogance ; but act candidly, and you may meet 
with more favour. ELIZABETH."* 

We may imagine the bitter smile with which the 
royal captive read this letter, in which Elizabeth, in 
the nineteenth year of her imprisonment, took credit 
to herself for the kindness and protection she had ex- 

* This is translated from the French of Chasteauneuf, (Life of Thomas 
Egerton, Lord Chancellor, p. 86,) who says he translates it word for word 
from the English original. Lingard, vol. viii. p. 223. 

1586. JAMES VI. 311 

tended to Mary. But there was a menace in its tone 
which shook her resolution : the last sentence held out 
a hope of favour : she had no one to advise with ; and 
after a night of much suspense and trouble, she con- 
sented to appear before the commissioners. 

The court was held on Friday the fourteenth October, 
in the great hall at Fotheringay, which had been pre- 
pared for the purpose, having, at the upper end, a chair 
and canopy of state. It bore the arms of England only, 
and Mary was not suffered to occupy it. On each side 
of the room were benches for the commissioners. On 
one hand sat the Lord Chancellor Bromley, the 
Lord High Treasurer Burghley, with the Earls of 
Oxford, Kent, Derby, Worcester, Rutland, Cumber- 
land, Warwick, Pembroke, and Lincoln : on the other, 
the Lords Abergavenny, Zouch, Morley, Stafford, Grey, 
Lumley, and other peers. Near to these were the 
knights of the privy-council, Crofts, Hatton, Walsing- 
ham, Sadler, Mildmay, and Paulet. At a short 
distance in advance were placed the two Chief Justices 
of England and the Chief Baron of the Exchequer 
opposite them, the other justices and barons, with two 
doctors of the civil law ; and at a table in the middle 
sat Popham the Queen's Attorney-general, Egerton 
the Solicitor-general, Gawdy the Queen's Sergeant-at- 
law, the Clerk of the Crown, and two writers to take 
down the proceedings.* Before the bar stood such 
gentlemen and others as were permitted to be present. 
On this day, at nine in the morning, Mary, attended 
by a guard of halberdiers, and leaning on Sir Andrew 
Melvil and her physician, entered the court. She was 
dressed in black, with a veil of white lawn thrown 
over her. One of her maids of honour carried her 

* Howel, 1173. 


train, another a chair covered with crimson velvet, 
another a footstool ; and as she walked to her seat, it 
was observed that she was lame and required support.* 
On coming into the middle of this august assembly, 
the queen bowed to the lords : then observing that 
her chair was not allowed to be placed under the 
canopy of state, but lower, and at the side, she appear- 
ed to feel the indignity. " I am a queen," said she, 
looking proudly and resentfully for a moment. " I 
have married a King of France ; and my seat ought 
to be there." But the feeling was brief; and her 
features assumed again their melancholy cast, as she 
regarded the multitude of peers, statesmen, and judges. 
" Alas ! " said she, " here are many counsellors, and 
yet there is not one for me."-f- Having then seated 
herself with great dignity, the Lord Chancellor stood 
up and declared, that the queen's majesty had at last 
determined to bring her to trial, in consequence of the 
practices used by her against her life : that she was 
not moved to this by personal fear, or from any 
malice ; but because, if she failed to do so, she would 
be guilty of neglecting the cause of God, and of bear- 
ing the sword in vain. He was followed by Burghley 
the Lord Treasurer, who requested her to hear their 
commission, which was read by the clerk. On its 
conclusion, Mary rose up and answered that it was 
well known to all now present, that she had come into 
England to require assistance ; and, contrary to all law 
and justice, had been made a prisoner. As for any 
commission empowering them to bring her to trial, 
no one could grant it, because no one was her superior. 

* British Museum, copy, Caligula, C. 5x. fol. 333. Order of the Proceedings 
at the arraignment of the late unfortunate Queen of Scots at Fotheringay. 

f Chasteauneuf to Henry the Third, from the king's Library at Paris, 
October 30, 158G ; printed in Life of Lord Chancellor Egerton, p. 86. 

1586. JAMES VI. 313 

She was a free princess, an anointed queen, subject to 
none but God; she had already delivered a protestation 
to this effect, and she desired her servants to bear 
witness that her answers were now made under this 
protestation.* Sergeant Gasvdy spoke next : entered 
into a narrative of the whole plot, and brought for- 
ward the arguments, by which (he contended) it must 
be apparent to all, that the Scottish queen was ac- 
quainted with the conspiracy against the life of Eliza- 
beth. He explained Ballard's dealing with Morgan 
and Paget in France, the conspiracy for the invasion 
of England, and his repair to that country for the 
purpose of completing the plot ; he adverted to the 
transactions between Ballard and Babington, to the 
formation of the new conspiracy against the life of the 
English queen ; to the renewal of the correspondence 
between Mary and Babington, which took place at 
this moment ; and he iconcluded by contending that 
she had approved of the plot, had promised her assis- 
tance, and pointed out the readiest mode for its 
execution. f 

To this Mary answered, that she had never seen 
Anthony Babington, nor received any letter from him, 
nor herself written any to him ; that she knew nothing 
of Ballard, and had never relieved him ; as for the 
Catholics of England, they were oppressed and took 
many things hardly. This she knew, and had repre- 
sented it to the queen her sister, imploring her to take 
pity on them. She acknowledged, also, that she had 
received offers of assistance from anonymous corre- 
spondents, but she had not embraced such offers ; and 

* Camden, vol. ii. of Kennet, p. 522. 

+ MS. British Museum, Caligula, C. ix. fol. 333. Howel's State Trials, 
vol. i. pp. 1171, 1182. 


how was it possible for a captive, shut up in prison, to 
search out the names or the intentions of unknown 
persons, or to hinder what they attempted ? It was 
possible that Babington had written such a letter as 
he described, but let them prove that it had come into 
her hands ; * and as for her own letters, let them 
produce them, and she would know what to answer. 

Copies of the letter from Babington to the Queen 
of Scots, and of Mary's alleged answer, were then read ; 
Babington's written confession was also quoted, besides 
the confessions of Dun, Titchbourne, and Ballard, three 
of his fellow conspirators ; and it was contended by the 
Attorney-general Puckering, and by the Lord Trea- 
surer Burghley, that nothing could be clearer than 
the evidence thus adduced, of direct connivance and 
approval. Mary, with great readiness, replied, that 
all this evidence was second-hand, or hearsay. They 
spoke of the letters which she had received, of the 
answers she had sent ; and they brought forward 
copies of a long letter from a man whom she had 
never seen, and a detailed answer, point by point, 
which she had never written. Was this garbled and 
manufactured evidence to be produced against her?-f- 
Let them produce the originals of these letters, if 
such originals ever existed. If Babington's letter 
was in cipher, as was alleged, she would then be able 
to compare the cipher with the copy now before them, 
to test the one by the other, and to discover whether 
it really was written in her alphabet or secret cipher, 
of which it was possible that her enemies might, by 

* Camden, p. 522. 

f* Avis de ce qui a este faict en Angleterre par Monsieur de Bellievre sur 
les affaires de La Royne D'Escosse. Published in Egerton's Life of Lord 
Chancellor Egerton, pp. 98, 103. 

1586. JAMES VI. 315 

some treachery or other, have procured a copy. And 
as for her alleged letter to Babington, if it too was 
written in cipher, and the original had been inter- 
cepted by them, why was it not now produced ? If 
she was entitled to call for the original of Babington's 
alleged letter to her, much more were her accusers 
bound to produce the original of her pretended letter 
to Babington. She would then be able to examine it, 
to disprove it, and to detect the fraud which had been 
practised against her. At present she must be con- 
tented with a simple and solemn asseveration that she 
had not written the letters which had been now read, 
and that she was guiltless of any plot against the life 
of the Queen of England. 

" I do not deny," said she, weeping, " that I have 
longed for liberty, and earnestly laboured to procure 
it. Nature impelled me to do so ; but I call God to 
witness, that I have never conspired the death of the 
Queen of England, or consented to it. I confess that 
I have written to my friends, and solicited their as- 
sistance in my escape from her miserable prisons, in 
which she has now kept me a captive queen for nine- 
teen years : but I never wrote the letters now pro- 
duced against me. 1 confess, too, that I have written 

O > ' 

often in favour of the persecuted Catholics ; and had 
I been able, or, even now at this moment were I able, 
to save them from their miseries by shedding my own 
blood, I would have done it ; and would now do it : 
but what connexion has this with any plot against the 
life of the queen ? and how can I answer for the dan- 
gerous designs of others, which are carried on without 
my knowledge ? It was but lately, she added, that I 
received a letter from some unknown persons, entreat- 


ing my pardon if they attempted anything without 
my knowledge."* 

To this Burghley, who had taken all along a most 
active part against her, undertook to reply ; insisting 
strongly on the written confession of Bahington, and 
the declarations of her own secretaries, Curie and Nau. 
This confession, and these declarations, suhscribed by 
the parties themselves who made them, were now on 
the table ; and they proved, he said, in the clearest 
manner, the correspondence between the queen and 
Babington. The whole history of it was developed 
point by point, it was opened by the brief notes written 
sometimes by Curie, sometimes by Nau ; it was they 
who had deciphered the letters of Babington, and com- 
municated their contents to their mistress. Nay, the 
exact manner had been specified, in which the answer 
had been prepared by Nau. It was composed partly 
from minutes by the queen, and from verbal dictation ; 
it was written out at length in French, revised by 
Mary, translated and put into cipher by Curie, and 
then secretly sent to its destination. The letters also 
of the Scottish queen to Englefield, of a date as far 
back as ninth October, 1584, proved, as he said, that 
the great plot, for the invasion of England, was then 
in agitation ; her letter to Charles Paget, on the 
twenty-first of May last, (1586,) showed its resump- 
tion at that period; the letter of Charles Paget to 
the Scottish queen, of the twenty-ninth May, con- 
nected her with Ballard and Mendoza the Spanish 
ambassador; and the letters of the twenty-seventh 
July, to Lord Paget, Sir Francis Englefield, Mendoza, 
the Bishop of Glasgow, and Charles Paget, corroborated 

* Avis de Monsieur Bellievre, p. 103. Caaiden, p. 523. 

1586. JAMES VI. SI 7 

not only the confessions of the conspirators, but the 
contents of the letters between her and Babington, and 
the written testimony of her own secretaries. 

During this address of the Lord Treasurer, he had 
occasion to mention the Earl of Arundel, as implicated 
in some degree, with the conspiracy; upon which 
Mary burst into tears, and lamented, with passionate 
expressions, the calamities which the noble house of 
Howard had endured for her sake ; but, soon drying 
her eyes, and reassuming her dignity and composure, 
she once more, in reply to the arguments of the Lord 
Treasurer, asseverated her innocence of any plot against 
the queen's life. What Babington (she said) might, 
or might not confess against her, she was ignorant of; 
neither was it possible for her to say or discover, 
whether this written confession was in his handwriting 
or not. But why had they executed him before they 
had confronted him with herself, and permitted her to 
examine him ? If he were now before them, she would 
have so dealt with him, that the truth would have come 
out ; but they had taken good care to make this im- 
possible. And the same thing might be said of Nau 
and Curie ; why was she not confronted with them ? 
Why was she not permitted to examine them ? They 
at least, were alive : they might have been here if her 
adversaries had felt confident that they would have 
corroborated their written confessions. Curie, she was 
assured, was an honest man, though it was strange to 
find one in his station adduced as a witness against 
her. Nau was a more politic and talented person; he 
had been secretary to the Cardinal Lorrain, and she 
had received recommendations in his favour from her 
brother, the French king ; but she was by no means 
assured that hope, or fear, or reward, might not have 


influenced him to give false evidence against her; and 
it was well known that he had Curie at his beck, and 
could make him write whatever he pleased. It was 
asserted truly, that her letters were written, and put 
into cipher, by these secretaries. But what security 
had she, that they had not inserted into them such 
things as she had never dictated ? Was it not possible, 
also, that they might have received letters addressed 
to her, which they never delivered? was it not possible 
that they might have answered letters in her name, 
and in her cipher, which she had never seen? "And 
am I," said she, with great animation and dignity, 
" am I, a queen, to be convicted on such evidence as 
this ? Is it not apparent, that the majesty and safety 
of princes falls to the ground, if they are to depend 
upon the writings and testimony of their secretaries ? 
I have delivered nothing to them, but what nature dic- 
tated to me under the desire of recovering my liberty; 
and I claim the privilege of being convicted by nothing 
but mine own word or writing. If they have written 
anything which may be hurtful to the queen, my sister, 
they have written it altogether without my knowledge : 
let them bear the punishment of their inconsiderate 
boldness. Sure I am, that if they were here present, 
they would clear me of all blame in this cause : and 
still more certain am I, that had my papers not been 
seized, and were I not thus deprived of my notes and 
letters, I could have more successfully and minutely 
answered every point which has been so bitterly argued 
against me."* 

In the course of these proceedings (for it would be 
unjust to call that a trial where the prisoner was de- 

* MS. British Museum, Caligula, ix. fol. 383. Hovel's State Trials, 
vol. i. pp. 1182, 1183. Also Caniden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 523. 

1586. JAMES vi. 319 

prived of counsel, not permitted access to her papers, 
and debarred from calling witnesses) Mary made a 
direct attack on Secretary Walsingham, in speaking 
of the facility with which her letters and ciphers might 
be counterfeited. " What security have I," said she, 
"that these are my very ciphers? a young man lately 
in France, has been detected forging my characters. 
Think you, Mr Secretary, that I am ignorant of your 
devices used so craftily against me ? Your spies sur- 
rounded me on every side ; but you know not, perhaps, 
that some of your spies on me proved false, and brought 
intelligence to me. And if such have been his doings, 
my lords," she continued, appealing to the assembly, 
" how can I be assured that he hath not counterfeited 
my ciphers to bring me to my death ? Has he not 
already practised against my life, and that of my son? 11 
Upon this, Walsingham, rising in his place, warmly 
disclaimed the imputation. " I call God to witness, 
said he, that as a private person, I have done nothing 
unbeseeming an honest man; nor, as a public servant 
of my royal mistress, anything unworthy of my office ; 
but I plead guilty to my having been exceeding careful 
for the safety of the queen, and this realm. I have 
curiously searched out every practice against both : 
nor if Ballard, the traitor, had offered me his help in 
the investigation, would I have refused it. With this 
plausible, but really indirect and evasive disavowal, 
Mary declared herself satisfied ; and after some argu- 
ments of the Lord Treasurer, and the crown lawyers, 
which it is unnecessary to notice, the court adjournfed 
till next morning. 

The proceedings on the second day were not mate- 
rially different from the first. Mary was still alone, 
unassisted, and, it may be added, undismayed; although 


at times she gave way to tears, and seemed to feel her 
desolate condition. She renewed her protestation, 
declining the jurisdiction of the court ; and demanded 
that it should be recorded. As to the plot itself of 
which she was accused, some little variation took place 
in her mode of defence. On the former day, she had 
been wholly ignorant of the circumstances which were 
to be brought against her; and had commenced her 
defence by a general denial or disavowal of all treason- 
able correspondence. She was now aware of the evi- 
dence, and partially admitted and defended her letters 
to Morgan, Paget, and Mendoza; she even acknow- 
ledged such notes as, by her secretaries acting under 
her orders, had been sent to Babington;* but she 
again most pointedly asserted, that these notes and 
letters referred solely to the project for her escape. 
This project, she said, it was perfectly justifiable in 
her to encourage by every means, even by the invasion 
of the realm : she then reiterated her denial of being 
accessary to the conspiracy against the queen's person; 
and entered into a detail of her repeated offers of ac- 
commodation made to that princess. It had been her 
sincere desire, she affirmed, to remove every ground 
of dissatisfaction from the -mind of her sister; but her 
proposals were disallowed, or suspected, or despised ; so 
that, remaining a captive, she was driven to practices 
for her escape. " And now," said she, " with what 
injustice is this cause conducted against me ! my letters 
are garbled, and wrested from their true meaning: the 
originals kept from me: no respect shown to the reli- 
gion which I profess, or the sacred character I bear as a 
queen . 1 f careless of my personal feelings, think at least, 

* Egerton, p. 103, Avis de Monsieur Bellievra. 

1586. JAMES vi. 321 

my lords, of the royal majesty which is wounded through 
me : think of the precedent you are creating. Your own 
queen was herself accused of a participation in Wyatfs 
plot; yet she was innocent. And Heaven is my witness 
that, although a good Catholic, and anxious for the 
welfare and safety of all who profess that faith, I would 
shudder to purchase it at the price of blood. The life of 
the meanest of my people, has been ever dear to me ; 
and far rather would I plead with Esther, than take the 
sword with Judith ; though I know the character that 
has been given me by my enemies, and how they brand 
me as irreligious." She then solemnly appealed to 
God, and to all foreign princes, against the injustice 
with which she had been treated. " I came into Eng- 
land," she exclaimed, " relying on the friendship and 
promises of the Queen of England. I came, relying 
on that token which she sent me. Here, my lords," 
she said, drawing a ring from her finger, and showing 
it to her judges ; " here it is : regard it well : it came 
from your royal mistress. And trusting to that pledge 
of love and protection, I came amongst you : * you can 
best tell how that pledge has been redeemed. I desire, 
said she, in conclusion, that I may have another day 
of hearing. I claim the privilege of having an advocate 
to plead my cause ; or, being a queen, that I may be 
believed upon the word of a queen." 1 ~\- 

The task of answering this appeal, was again under- 
taken by Burghley, who recapitulated the evidence 
against her ; Mary frequently interrupting him by 
asseverations of her innocence, and a demand for more 
decided proof. It would now have been the time for 
the commissioners to deliver their opinions, and to 

* Courcelles' Negotiations, p. 18, Bamiatyne Club Edition, 
f Camden, pp. 5'J4, 5'25. 



pronounce sentence ; but, to the surprise of many 
present, the court broke up, having adjourned their 
meeting to the twenty-fifth October, at Westminster. 
The alleged ground of this abrupt measure, was the 
informality of pronouncing sentence before the record, 
or official report of the proceedings, was completed : 
the true cause, was the secret letter of Elizabeth 
already quoted.* 

On the same day, on which the court broke up, the 
High Treasurer repaired to his country seat of Burgh- 
ley, from which he wrote the following letter to Davi- 
son. It is valuable, as illustrating the real character 
of so noted a statesman as Lord Burghley : the appro- 
bation with which he speaks of his own eloquence ; 
the complacent description he gives of his success in 
counteracting the pity which most generous minds 
would have felt for Mary's desolate condition ; and 
the cold sneer with which he styles her the " Queen 
of the Castle," are all in keeping with his former un- 
feeling witticism, on the probability of the blow falling 
between her neck and shoulders. Here is his letter. 

" Mr Secretary. Yesternight, upon receipt of your 
letter, dated on Thursday, I wrote what was thought 
would be this day's work. The Queen of the Castle 
was content to appear again afore us in public, to be 
heard : but, in truth, not to be heard for her defence; 
for she would say nothing but negatively, that the 
points of the letters that concerned the practice against 
the queen's majesty were never by her written, nor of 
her knowledge. The rest, for invasion, for escaping 
by force, she said she will neither deny nor affirm. 
But her intention was, by long artificial speeches, to 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. ix. 333. Howel's State 
Trials, vol. i. p. 1187. 

1586. JAMES VI. 823 

move pity ; to lay all blame upon the queen's majesty, 
or rather on the council, that all the troubles past did 
ensue; avowing her reasonable offers and our refusals. 
And in this her speeches I did so encounter her with 
reasons out of my knowledge and experience, as she had 
not that advantage she looked for; as I am assured 
the auditory did find her case not pitoyable, [and] her 
allegations untrue, by which means great debate fell 
yesternight very long, and this day renewed with great 
stomaching. But we had great reason to prorogue our 
Session till the twenty-fifth ; and so we of the council 
will be at court on the twenty-second; and we find all 
persons here in commission fully satisfied, as, by her 
majesty's order, judgment will be givni at our next 

The same day, Walsingham wrote on the same sub- 
ject to Leicester, declaring that even Mary's best friends 
thought her guilty; and adding, that but for a secret 
command of Elizabeth, they would have pronounced 
sentence. This delay and indecision appears to have 
so greatly annoyed the secretary, that he represented 
it as a judgment from heaven, that her majesty had 
no power to proceed against her as her own safety re- 
quired. } 

On the twenty-fifth of October, the commissioners 
met in the Star-chamber at Westminster, and the same 
proofs were adduced against the Scottish queen which 
had been brought forward at Fotheringay ; with the 
exception that her secretaries, Nau and Curie, were 
now examined, and corroborated their letters and con- 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, C. ix. fol. 433. Burghley to 
Davison, October 15, 1580 ; since, Ellis, vol. i. p. 13. 

t MS. Letter, Caligula, C. ix. fol. 415, Walsingham to Leicester, Oct. 
15, 1580'. 


fessions.* The former confessions of these two secre- 
taries had been unsatisfactory to Walsingham and 
Burghley ; *f* they proved the queen to have received 
letters from Babington, and to have dictated to them 
certain answers in reply ; but judging from the imper- 
fect papers which remain,]: there was no certain proof 
in their confessions that Mary had dictated the pas- 
sages which implied a knowledge of the conspiracy 
against Elizabeth's life ; and, on this second occasion 
at Westminster, they merely corroborated their former 
confessions. But Nau, if we may trust his own 
account, did more; for he openly asserted that the 
principal points of accusation against his royal mistress 
were false ; and, refusing to be silenced by Walsing- 
ham who attempted to overawe and put him down, he 
declared that the commissioners would have to answer 
to God and all Christian kings if, on such false charges, 
they condemned an innocent princess. || 

Into these proceedings against Mary at West- 
minster it is unnecessary to enter farther. At Fother- 
ingay we had the accused without the witnesses ; at 
the Star-chamber we have the witnesses without the 
accused: for Mary remained at Fotheringay under 
the morose superintendence of Paulet, whilst the in- 
vestigation proceeded at Westminster, directed by the 
indefatigable and unrelenting Burghley. Having heard 
the evidence, the commissioners, as was to be antici- 
pated, pronounced sentence against the queen : declar- 
ing that, since the first of June, in the twentv-seventh 


year of Elizabeth, divers matters had been compassed 

* Hardwicke Papers, vol. i. p. 224. 

f* Burghley to Walsingham, September 8. 

Lingard, vol. viii. p. 219. Ibid. p. 229. 

U Ibid. 

1586. JAMES VI. 

and imagined within this realm of England, by An- 
thony Babington and others, with the privity of the 
Queen of Scots, tending to the hurt, death, and de- 
struction of the royal person of her majesty the Queen 
of England.* They intimated, at the same time, with 
the object of conciliating the Scottish king, that nothing 
in this sentence should affect James 1 title to the English 
crown ; which should remain exactly in the same 
state as if the proceedings at Fotheringay had never 
taken place. 

A few days after this, parliament met, and after 
approving and confirming this sentence, unanimously 
petitioned Elizabeth, as she valued Christ's true reli- 
gion, the security of the realm, her own life, and the 
safety of themselves and their posterity, to consent 
that the sentence against the Queen of Scots should 
be published. To enforce their request, they called 
to her remembrance the anger of God against Saul 
when he spared Agag king of the Amalekites, and his 
displeasure with Ahab for pardoning Benhadad.^ 

The answer of Elizabeth was striking ; and probably 
sincere, except in the pity and sorrow it expressed 
for Mary. She acknowledged, with expressions of 
deep gratitude to God, her almost miraculous preser- 
vation ; and professed the delight she experienced, 
after a reign of twenty-eight years, to find her sub- 
jects 1 good will even greater to her now than at its 
commencement. Her life, she said, had been "danger- 
ously shot at; 1 ' but her sense of danger was lost in 
sorrow, that one so nearly allied to her as the Queen 
of Scots, should be guilty of the crime. So far had 
she herself been from bearing her sister any ill will, 

* Hovel, vol. i. p. 1189. 

+ Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 52G. 


that, upon discovering Mary's treasonable practices, 
she had written her, that if she would privately con- 
fess them they should be wrapt up in silence ; and 
now, if the matter had only involved dangers to her- 
self, and not the welfare of her people, she protested 
that she should willingly pardon Mary. It was only 
for her people that she, Elizabeth, desired to live ; 
and, if her death could bring them a more flourishing 
condition, or a better prince, she would gladly lay 
down her life. 

After somewhat more in this strain, she informed 
parliament that their last act had reduced her to great 
difficulties ; and, in dwelling upon the sorrow felt for 
Mary, she artfully introduced a circumstance, which 
was well calculated to rouse their utmost resentment : 
telling them that it was but a short while since she 
had, with her own eyes, seen and read an " oath, by 
which some persons had engaged to kill her within a 
month." This was on the twelfth November, and 
two days after, (fourteenth,) the queen sent the Com- 
mons a message by her Vice-chamberlain, Sir Christo- 
pher Hatton, requesting them to consider whether 
they could not devise some gentler expedient, by which 
her commiseration for the Scottish queen might be 
allowed to operate, and her life be spared.* On the 
eighteenth, after much debate, both Houses unani- 
mously answered, "that they could find no other way ;" 
and this brief but stern decision was forthwith carried 
by the Lord Chancellor and the Speaker of the House 
of Commons to the queen, who was then at Richmond. 
This communication, it was expected, would elicit 

* MS. Letter. Sir George Wai-render's MS. Collection, Archibald Dou- 
glas to the Master of Gray, November 2^, 1 586, London. Also, Archibald 
Douglas to the King, December 8, Warrender MSS., 1586. 

1586. JAMES vi. 327 

something direct and definite from Elizabeth; but the 
answer which she gave was one of studied ambiguity. 
" If," said she, addressing the chancellor, " I should 
say unto you that I mean not to grant your petition 
by my faith, I should say unto you more than, per- 
haps, I mean ; and if I should say unto you I mean 
to grant your petition, I should then tell you more 
than it is fit for you to know: and so I must deliver 
you an answer answerless."* 

It was now deemed proper that the captive queen 
should be informed of these proceedings. Since the 
breaking up of the court at Fotheringay, she had 
remained there under the custody of Paulet, whose 
letters to Walsingham breathed a personal dislike to 
his prisoner. On the twenty-second November, Lord 
Buckhurst, and Mr Beal the clerk of the privy-council, 
arrived at Fotheringay, and communicated to her the 
sentence of death, which had been pronounced by the 
commissioners, its ratification by parliament, and the 
earnest petition of both Houses for her immediate 
execution. They warned her not to look for mercy; 
spoke severely of her attachment to the Catholic faith, 
which made her life incompatible with the security of 
the Reformed opinions; and promised her the ministra- 
tions of a Protestant divine in her last hours. The 
Queen of Scots heard them with theutmost tranquillity, 
and mildly, but firmly, declined all such religious 
assistance. She declared that the judgment of the 
court was unjust, as she was innocent of all consent 
to the plot against Elizabeth's life ; but she implored 
them, in the name of Christ, to permit her to have 
the spiritual consolations of her almoner, whom she 
knew to be in the castle, although debarred from her 

* Parliamentary History, vol. iv. p. 298. 


presence. For a brief period this was granted : but 
the indulgence was considered too great, and he was 
once more removed. Farther and more studied in- 
sults were soon offered. On the day after the arrival 
of Buckhurst, Paulet entered her chamber without 
ceremony, and informed her that, as she was now no 
longer to be considered a queen, but a private woman 
dead in law, the insignia of royalty must be dispensed 
with. Mary replied, that whatever he or his sovereign 
might consider'her, did not much move her; she was an 
anointed princess, and had received this dignity from 
God: into his hands alone would she resign both it 
and her soul.* As for their queen, she as little ac- 
knowledged her for her superior, as she did her heretical 
council for her judges; and, in spite of the indignities 
they offered, would die, as she had lived, a queen. 
This spirited answer greatly enraged Paulet, who 
commanded Mary^s attendants to take away the " dais," 
or cloth of state ; and, when they refused, called in 
some of his own people, who executed the order. He 
then put on his hat, sat down in her presence, and 
pointing to the billiard-table which stood in the cham- 
ber, ordered it to be removed, remarking that these 
vain recreations no longer became a person in her 
situation. Such brutal and insolent conduct would 
have disgraced the commonest jailor in the kingdom ; 
and the man who was guilty of this outrage, could 
plead no order from Elizabeth.^ 

That princess now gave orders that the sentence 
against the Queen of Scots should be proclaimed to the 
people; and so highly excited were the citizens in 
the metropolis with the real or fancied dangers which 

* Martyre de la Royne D'Escosse. Jebb, vol. ii. pp. 293, 294. 
+ Letter of Mary in Jebb, vol. ii. p. 293. Also, Bisselii Maria Stuarta 
Acta, p. 219. 

1586. JAMES VI. 329 

they had escaped, that the communication was received 
with every mark of public rejoicing.* To Mary it 
brought no new pang, so far as life was concerned ; 
but she became agitated with the suspicion that Eliza- 
beth, to avoid the odium of a public execution, would 
endeavour to have her privately assassinated: and this 
new idea gave her the utmost inquietude.f Nor, if 
we are to believe Camden.J were these ideal terrors. 
Leicester, he affirms, on the first discovery of the con- 
spiracy, had given it as his advice, that Mary should 
be privately poisoned ; and had even sent a divine to 
persuade Secretary Walsingham of the lawfulness of 
such a course, which he, however, utterly rejected and 
condemned. So horrid an accusation against Leicester 
would require some decided proof, which the historian 
has not given ; and it will be afterwards seen that 
Walsingham's aversion to such a course was exceed- 
ingly short-lived. It was at this time that Mary 
addressed her last letter to Elizabeth, in these touch- 
ing and pathetic terms : 

" Madam I bless God with my whole heart, that, 
by means of your final judgment, he is about to put a 
period to the wearisome pilgrimage of my life. I 
make no petition that it should be prolonged, having 
already but too well known its bitterness : I only now 
supplicate your highness, that, since I cannot hope for 
any favour from those exasperated ministers who hold 
the highest offices in your state, I may obtain, from 
your own sole bounty, these three favours: 

" First, As it would be vain for me to expect a 
burial in England, accompanied by the Catholic rites 
practised by the ancient mouarchs, your ancestors and 

* Lingard, vol. via. p. 233. 

f Letter of Mary to the Duke of Guise. Jebb, 334. 

Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 519. 


mine, and since the sepulchres of my fathers have 
heen broken up and violated in Scotland, I earnestly 
request that, as soon as my enemies shall have glutted 
themselves with my innocent blood, my body may be 
carried by my servants to be interred in holy ground: 
above all, I could wish in France, where rest the ashes 
of the queen my most honoured mother. Thus shall 
this poor body, which has never known repose as long 
as it was united to my soul, have rest at last, when it 
and my spirit are disunited. 

" Secondly, I implore your majesty, owing to the 
terror I feel for the tyranny of those to whose charge 
you have abandoned me, let me not be put to death 
in secret, but in the sight of my servants and others. 
These persons will be witnesses to my dying in the 
faith, and in obedience to the true Church; and it will 
be their care to rescue the close of my life and the 
last breathings of my spirit from the calumnies with 
which they may be assailed by my enemies. 

"Thirdly, I request that my servants, who have 
clung to me so faithfully throughout my many sorrows, 
may be permitted freely to go where they please, and 
to retain the little remembrances which my poverty 
has left them in my will. 

" I conjure you, Madam, by the blood of Jesus 
Christ, by our near relationship, by the memory of 
Henry the Seventh, our common ancestor, by the 
title of queen, which I bear even to my death, refuse 
me not these poor requests, but assure me of your 
having granted them by a single word under your hand. 
" I shall then die, as I have lived, 

" Your affectionate Sister and Prisoner, 

* Jebb, vol. ii. pp. 91,92. 

1586. JAMES VI. 331 

No answer was ever returned to this pathetic ap- 
peal, nor, indeed, is it absolutely certain that Elizabeth 
ever received it; but, in the mean time, some exertions 
to save the Scottish queen, were made by the French 
king, and by her son the King of Scotland. Henry 
the Third had never, during the long course of her 
misfortunes, exhibited for Mary any feelings of personal 
affection or deep interest, although, from political con- 
siderations he had frequently espoused her cause; but 
the idea that a queen and a near relative should be 
arraigned, condemned, and executed, was so new and 
.appalling, that he deemed it imperative to interfere, 
and sent Monsieur de Bellievre his ambassador to 
present his remonstrances to the English queen. After 
many affected delays, Elizabeth received him in un- 
usual state upon her throne, and heard his message 
with a flashing eye and flushed and angry counte- 
nance.* She restrained her feelings, however, suffi- 
ciently to make a laboured reply, pronounced a high 
encomium upon her own forbearance, promised a speedy 
and definite answer, protracted the time for more than 
a month by the most frivolous excuses, and, at last, 
drove the ambassador to declare, that if Mary was ex- 
ecuted, his master must resent it. The English queen, 
fired at this threat, demanded whether his master had 
empowered him to use such language; and, having 
found that it was warranted by Bellievre^s instructions, 
wrote a letter of lofty defiance to Henry, and dismissed 
his envoy. Aubespine the resident ambassador re- 
newed the attempt ; but a pretended plot against the 
life of Elizabeth, which was said to be traced to some 
of his suite, furnished a subject for a new and bitter 

* November 27. 


quarrel; and this, for a time, interrupted all amicable 
relations between the two crowns.* 

On the side of Scotland, James 1 efforts were not 
more successful. This young prince had been early 
informed of the conspiracy by Walsingham, and had 
written to Elizabeth congratulating her upon the dis- 
covery.-f The English secretary had employed his 
friend, the Master of Gray, to sound his royal mas- 
ter as to the intended proceedings against the Queen 
of Scots ; and bade that nobleman remind the young 
king, that any mediation for Mary would come with 
a bad grace from a prince whose father had received 
such hard measure at her hands. J 

To confirm James in these feelings, care had been 
taken to send him an account of the plot, with full 
extracts from the alleged intercepted correspondence 
of the Queen of Scots and Babington . In these letters, 
James must have perceived the severe terms in which 
he was spoken of by Mary, and become acquainted 
with her advice given to Lord Claud Hamilton, to 
seize his person and place him under a temporary 
restraint. Such revelations were little calculated to 
foster or preserve any sentiments of affection in a son 
towards a mother whom he had never known. Yet 
all this cannot excuse the coldness and indifference 
which he manifested. Monsieur de Courcelles, who 
was then in Scotland, received instructions from the 
French king to incite the young monarch to interfere 
for Mary : but he replied that his mother was in no 
danger ; and as for the conspiracy, she must be con- 

* Carte, vol. iii. pp. 613, 614. 

( 10th September. MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Master of Gray '.o 
Burghley, September 10, 1586. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Original draft by Walsingham, Septem- 
ber 17, 1586. 

1586. JAMES VI. 333 

tented, he said, to drink the ale she had brewed. He 
loved her as much as nature and duty bound him ; but 
he knew well she bore him as little good will as she 
did the Queen of England : her practices had already 
nearly cost him his crown, and he could be well con- 
tent she would meddle with nothing -but prayer and 
serving of God.* 


These selfish and moderate sentiments were far from 
acceptable to the Scottish nobles and people, who felt 
the treatment offered to the mother of their sovereign, 
and the superiority assumed by Elizabeth, as a national 
insult. Angus, Lord Claud Hamilton, Huntley, Both- 
well, Herries, and all the leading men about court, 
protested loudly against her insolence; and declared 
their resolution rather to break into open war, than 
suffer it to proceed to further extremity. -f- On this 
subject, indeed, the feelings of the nobles had become 
so excited, as to impel them to speak out with fierce' 
plainness to the king himself. James, it seems, sus- 
pected that Elizabeth would send an ambassador to 
persuade him to remain passive, whatever extremities 
might be adopted against his mother; and turning to 
the Earl of Bothwell, a blunt soldier, he asked his 
advice what he should do. If your majesty, said he, 
suffers the process to proceed, I think, my liege, you 
should be hanged yourself the day after. George 
Douglas, also, (the same brave and attached friend of 
Mary, who had assisted in her escape from Lochleven,) 
remonstrated in strong terms with his royal master ; 
warning him to beware of giving credit to the lying 
tales of some about him, who were the pensioned slaves 

* October 4. Extract of Monsieur Courcelles' Negotiations, Bannatyne 
edition, p. 4. 

t Extract of Courcelles' Negotiations, pp. 11,13. Bannatyne Club edition. 


of Elizabeth, and paid to create bad blood between him 
and his parent. " And yet," answered James, " how 
is it possible for me to love her, or to approve her pro- 
ceedings ? Did she not write to Fontenay, the French 
ambassador here, that unless I conformed myself to 
her wishes, I should have nothing but the lordship of 
Darnley ; which was all my father had before me ? Has 
she not laboured to take the crown off my head, and 
set up a regent ? Is she not obstinate in holding a 
different religion ? " " For that matter," said Douglas, 
" she adheres to her faith, in which she hath been 
brought up, as your majesty doth to yours : and, look- 
ing to the character of your religious guides, she thinks 
it better that you should come over to her views than 
she to yours." " Ay, ay," said the king, " truth it is 
I have been brought up amid a company of mutinous 
knavish ministers, whose doctrine I could never ap- 
'prove ; but yet, I know my religion to be the true one." 
In the mean time, the alarming news from England, 
and the representations of the French king, convinced 
James, that the question was no longer as to the im- 
prisonment, but the life of Mary; and the moment he 
embraced this idea, his whole conduct changed. He 
wrote a letter of strong and indignant remonstrance to 
Elizabeth, and despatched it by Sir William Keith, 
who was instructed to express himself boldly, and with- 
out reserve upon the subject. He, at the same time, 
and by the same ambassador, addressed a threatening 
note to Walsingham, whom he considered his mother's 
greatest enemy ; and he commanded Keith, on his 
arrival at the English court, to cooperate with the 
French ambassador in all his efforts for the safety of 
the unhappy princess, whose fate seemed to be so fast 
approaching. He had already written strongly to 

1586. JAMES VI. 335 

Archibald Douglas, his ambassador at the English 
court.* But it was suspected, on good grounds, that 
Douglas was wholly in the hands of Elizabeth and 
Walsingham ; and currently said, that as he had been 
at the father's murder, he would have his hand as deep 
in the mother's death.-f 

On Keith's arrival at the English court,J Eliza- 
beth and her ministers attempted to frustrate the 
object of his mission, by the usual weapons of delay 
and dissimulation. When at last admitted, the queen 
affected the utmost solicitude for Mary's life ; but 
represented herself as driven to extremities by the re- 
monstrances of her ministers, and the fears of her people. 
" And yet," said she, turning to the ambassador, " I 
swear by the living God, that I would give one of my 
own arms to be cut off, so that any means could be 
found for us both to live in assurance. I have already," 
she continued, " saved her life, when even her own 
subjects craved her death : and now judge for your- 
selves which is most just, that I who am innocent, or she 
who is guilty, should suffer." || Repeated interviews 
took place, and Elizabeth on one occasion.declared, that 
no human power should ever persuade her to sign the 
warrant for Mary's execution ; but in the mean time, 
the sentence against her had been made public. Lei- 
cester, Burghley, and Walsingham, advised her death. 

* Appendix to Robertson's History of Scotland, No. XLIX. King James 
to Archibald Douglas, October 1586 ; also same, No. L. Archibald Douglas 
to the King, October 16, 1.586. 

f- Lodge's Letters, vol. ii. (8vo edit.) p. 295, Master of Gray to Archibald 
Douglas, December 9, 1586. 

J "November 5, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Keith to Davison, Nov. 
5, 1586, London. 

Sir George Warrender MSS. B. fol. 341, Archibald Douglas to James, 
December 8, 1586. 

|| MS. Warrender, B. fol. 333, Douglas to the Master of Gray, November 
2-2, 1586. 


The people, alarmed by reports of the meditated in- 
vasion by Spain, and uew plots against their princess, 
became clamorous on the same subject; and James, 
agitated by the ill success of Keith, sent him new in- 
structions, with a private letter written in passionate 
and threatening terms.* On communicating it to the 
English queen, she broke into one of those sudden and 
tremendous paroxysms of rage, which sometimes shook 
the council-room, and made the hearts of her ministers 
quail before her. It was with the greatest difficulty 
that she was prevented from chasing Keith, who had 
spoken with great boldness, from her presence. But 
Leicester her favourite at last appeased her; and, on 
the succeeding day, she dictated a more temperate 
reply to the young king. On his side also, James re- 
pented of his violence, and, unfortunately for his own 
honour, was induced to adopt a milder tone; to write 
an apologetic letter to Elizabeth ; and to despatch the 
Master of Gray and Sir Robert Melvil. with instruc- 
tions, to explain that his " meaning, in all that had 
hitherto been done," was modest and not menacing.-f- 
Nothing could be more selfish and pusillanimous than 
such conduct. The Scottish nation and the nobility 
were loud in their expressions of indignation. Eager 
to avenge the disgrace inflicted on their countrv, the 

, ' 

nobles had already armed themselves, to break across 
the Border, and take the quarrel into their own hands; 
but the king, who had received a private communication 
from Walsingham,J was thinking more about his suc- 
cession to the English crown than the peril of his 

* Wai-render MSS, B. 341, Douglas to the King, December 8, 1586. 

+ MS. Letter, Copy, \Varrender MSS, B. fol. 336, King James to Eliza- 
beth, December 15, 1586. 

+ Warrender MSS, B. fol. 334. A memorial of certain Leads to be com- 
municated to the Lord Secretary of Scotland. 

1586-7. JAMES vi. 337 

parent : and, intimidated by the violence of Elizabeth, 
judged it better to conciliate than exasperate. It is 
difficult to believe that James had any very deep desire 
to save his mother's life, when he selected so base and 
unworthy an intercessor as the Master of Gray. The 
king must have known well that this man had already 
betrayed her, that he was a sworn adherent of Eliza- 
beth, and that Mary's safety or return to power and 
influence brought danger to this envoy himself. So 
fully were these Gray's feelings, that, in a letter to 
his friend Archibald Douglas, written as far back as 
October eleventh, he described " any good to Mary 
as a staff for their own heads ;" and assured him " he 
cared not although she were out of the way."* The 
result was exactly what might have been anticipated : 
Gray on his arrival at the English court, (twenty- 
ninth December,) in his public conferences with Eliza- 
beth and her ministers, and in the open despatches 
intended for the eyes of the Scottish council, exhibited 
great apparent activity and interest in the cause of 
the Scottish queen. -f- But this was all unreal: for 
secretly he betrayed her ; cooperated with Archibald 
Douglas in his enmity; whispered in Elizabeth's ear 
the significant proverb, " The dead don't bite ;" per- 
suaded her, that although there was much clamour, 
there was little sincerity in his master's remonstrances ; 
and notwithstanding the honest endeavours of Sir 
Robert Melvil against his base efforts, encouraged her 
to proceed to those extremities which she was willing, 
yet afraid to perpetrate. J 

* Lodge, vol. ii. 8vo edition, p. 289. See also Murdin, pp. 573, 576. 
)- Robertson's Appendix, No. L. A Memorial for his Majesty, by lh 
Master of Gray, January 12, 158C-7. 
+ Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 533. 



In her first interview with these new ambassadors, 
Elizabeth received their offers with her characteristic 
violence. They proposed that Mary should demit 
her right of succession to the English crown to her 
son. " How is that possible ?" said the queen ; " she 
is declared 'inhabil 1 and can convey nothing." "If 
she have no rights," replied Gray, "your majesty 
need not fear her ; if she have, let her assign them 
to her son, in whom will then be placed the full title 
of succession to your highness." "What," said Eliza- 
beth, with a loud voice and great oath ; " get rid of 
one, and have a worse in her place ? Nay, then I put 
myself in a more miserable case than before. By 
God's Passion, that were to cut mine own throat ; 
and for a duchy or an earldom to yourself, you, or 
such as you, would cause some of your desperate 
knaves to kill me. No, by God ! your master shall 
never be in that place." Gray then craved, that 
Mary's life might at least be spared for fifteen days, 
to give them time to communicate with the king : but 
this she peremptorily refused. Melvil implored her 
to give a respite, were it only for eight days. " No," 
said Elizabeth, rising up, and impatiently flinging out 
of the apartment, " not for an hour."* After such a 
reception, it was impossible not to anticipate the worst ; 
and although, on a succeeding occasion, the queen ap- 
peared somewhat mollified, the ambassadors left her 
with the conviction, that fears for herself, and not any 
lingering feelings of mercy towards Mary, were the 
sole causes of her delay. 

It was at this time that the Scottish king, having 
required the ministers of the Kirk to pray for his 

* Robertson's Appendix. No. L. : Memorial of the Master of Gray. Janu- 
ary 12, 158G-7. 

1586-7. JAMES vi. 339 

unhappy mother, then in the toils of her enemies and 
daily expecting death, received a peremptory refusal. 
This was the more extraordinary, since James had 
carefully worded his request so as to remove, as he 
thought, every possibility of opposition ; but finding 
himself deceived, he directed Archbishop Adamson 
to offer up his prayers for the queen, in the High 
Church of the capital. To his astonishment he found, 
on entering his seat, that one of the recusant ministers, 
named Cowper, had preoccupied the pulpit. The king 
addressed him from the gallery, told him that the 
place had been intended for another ; but added, that 
if he would pray for his mother, he might remain 
where he was. To this, Cowper answered, that he 
would do as the Spirit of God directed him : a signi- 
ficant reply to all who knew the character of the times, 
and certainly amounting to a refusal. A scene of con- 
fusion ensued. James commanded Cowper to come 
down from the pulpit : he resisted. The royal guard 
sprang forward to pull out the intruder ; and he de- 
scended, denouncing woe and wrath on all who held 
back ; declaring, too, that this hour would rise up in 
witness against the king, in the great day of the Lord. 
Adamson then preached on the Christian duty of 
prayer for all men, with such pathetic eloquence, and 
so powerfully offered up his intercession for their un- 
fortunate queen, that the congregation separated in 
tears, lamenting the obstinacy of their pastors.* 

Meanwhile, reports were circulated in England, 
which were artfully calculated to inflame the people 
and to excuse severity towards Mary. It was said 
one day, that the Spaniards had landed at Milford 

* Spottiswood, p. 334. 


Haven, and that the Catholics had joined them ; the 
next, that Fotheringay castle was attacked, and that 
the Queen of Scots had made her escape ; then came 
rumours that the northern counties were already in 
rebellion, and that a new conspiracy was on foot to 
slay the queen and set fire to London.* 

Amidst these fictitious terrors, the privy-council 
held repeated meetings, and pressed Elizabeth to give 
her warrant for the execution ; Leicester, Burghley, 
and Walsingham, entreated, argued, and remonstrated, 
but she continued distracted and irresolute between 
the odium which must follow the deed and its neces- 
sity ; at last, amid her half sentences and dark hints, 
they perceived that their mistress wished Mary to be 
put to death, but had conceived a hope they would 
spare her the cruelty of commanding it, and find some 
secret way of despatching her ; she even seemed to 
think, that if their oath to " the association " for her 
protection did not lead to this, they had promised much, 
but actually done nothing. From such an interpreta- 
tion of their engagement, however, they all shrunk. 
The idea of private assassination was abhorrent, no 
doubt, to their feelings ; but they suspected, also, that 
Elizabeth's only object was to shift the responsibility of 
Mary's death from her shoulders to theirs; and that 
nothing was more likely than that, the moment they 
had fulfilled her wishes, she should turn round and 
accuse them of acting without orders. Meanwhile, 
she became hourly more unquiet, forsook her wonted 
amusements, courted solitude, and often was heard 
muttering to herself a Latin sentence taken from some 
of those books of Emblemata, or Aphorisms, which 

* Camden in Kenne 4 vol. ii. p. 533. Ellis's Letters, 2d Series, vol. iii. 
pp. 100', 109. 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 341 

were the fashion of the day : Aut fer aut feri ; ne 
feriare,feri* This continued till the first of February, 
when the queen sent for Mr Davison the secretary at 
ten in the morning. On arriving at the palace, he 
found that the Lord Admiral Howard had been con- 
versing with Elizabeth on the old point, the Scottish 
queen's execution; and had received orders to send 
Secretary Davison to her with the warrant, which had 
already been drawn up by Burghley the Lord Trea- 
surer, } and lay in his possession unsigned. Davison 
hasted to his chamber, and coming instantly back with 
it and some other papers in his hand, was called in by 
Elizabeth, who, after some talk on indifferent topics, 
asked him what papers he had with him. He replied, 
divers warrants for her signature. She then inquired 
whether he had seen the Lord Admiral, and had brought 
the warrant for the Scottish queen's execution. He 
declared he had, and delivered it into the queen's hand; 
upon which she read it over, called for pen and ink, 
deliberately signed it, and then looking up, asked him 
whether he was not heartily sorry she had done so. 
To this bantering question he replied gravely, that 
he preferred the death of the guilty before that of the 
innocent, and could not be sorry that her majesty 
took the only course to protect her person from immi- 
nent danger. Elizabeth then commanded him to take 
the warrant to the chancellor and have it sealed, with 
her orders that it should be used as secretly as possible ; 
and by the way, said she, relapsing again into her jocu- 
lar tone, " you may call on Walsingham and show it 

* Either strike or be stricken ; strike lest thou be stricken. Camden in 
Kennet, vol. ii. p. 534. 

t Caligula, C. ix. fol. 470. For a minute and interesting account of the 
whole proceedings of Davison. see Sir Harris Nicolas' Life of Dav'son, pp. 
79 105. 

342 HISTORY OF SCOTLAND. 158b'-7- 

him : I fear the shock will kill him outright." She 
added that a public execution must be avoided. It 
should be done, she said, not in the open green or court 
of the castle, but in the hall. In conclusion, she for- 
bade him absolutely to trouble her any farther or let 
her hear any more till it was done ; she, for her part, 
having performed all that in law or reason could be 
required. * 

The secretary now gathered up his papers, and was 
taking his leave, when Elizabeth stayed him for a 
short space; and complained of Paulet and others, who 
might have eased her of this burden. Even now, 
said she, it might be so done, that the blame might 
be removed from myself, would you and Walsingham 
write jointly, and sound Sir Amias and Sir Drew 
Drury upon it. To this Davison consented, promis- 
ing to let Sir Amias know what she expected at his 
hands; and the queen, having again repeated in an 
earnest tone, that the matter must be closely handled, 
dismissed him. "I* 

All this took place on the morning of the first of 
February. In the afternoon of that day, Davison 
visited Walsingham, showed him the warrant with 
Elizabeth's signature, consulted with him on the horrid 
communication to be made to Paulet and Drury; and 
repairing to the chancellor, had the Great Seal affixed 
to the warrant. The fatal paper was then left in the 
hands of that dignitary; and Walsingham and Davison 
the same evening wrote and despatched a letter to 
Fotheringay, recommending to her keepers, the secret 
assassination of their royal charge, at the queen their 

* Davison's Defence, drawn up by himself, in Caligula, C. ix. fol. 470, 
printed by Nicolas. Life of Davison, Appendix A. 
t N icolas' Life of Davison, p. 84. 

1586-7. JAMES vi. 343 

mistress" 1 special request. This letter, taken from an 
original found amongst Paulet's own papers,* was in 
these calm and measured terms : 


"After our hearty commendations. We find by 
speech lately uttered by her majesty, that she doth 
note in you both a lack of that care and zeal for her 
service that she looketh for at your hands ; in that 
you have not in all this time, of yourselves, (without 
other provocation,) found out some way to shorten 
the life of that queen ; considering the great peril she 
is subject unto hourly, so long as the said queen shall 
live. Wherein, besides a lack of love towards her, 
she noteth greatly, that you have not that care of 
your own particular safeties, or rather of the preser- 
vation of Religion, and the public good and prosperity 
of your country, that reason and policy commandeth ; 
especially, having so good a warrant and ground for 
the satisfaction of your consciences towards God, and 
the discharge of your credit and reputation towards 
the world, as the oath of " Association, " which you 
both have so solemnly taken and vowed ; and especially 
the matter wherewith she standeth charged being so 
clearly and manifestly proved against her: and there- 
fore she taketh it most unkindly that men, professing 
that love towards her that you do, should in any kind 
of sort, for lack of the discharge of your duties, cast 
the burden upon her ; knowing, as you do, her indis- 
position to shed blood, especially of one of that sex 
and quality, and so near to her in blood as the said 
queen is. 

* Life of Davison, p. 85. Hearne's Robert of Gloucester, vol. ii. p. 676. 


" These respects, we find, do greatly trouble her 
majesty, who, we assure you, has sundry times pro- 
tested, that if the regard of the danger of her good 
subjects and faithful servants did not more move her 
than her own peril, she would never be drawn to as- 
sent to the shedding her blood. We thought it very 
meet to acquaint you [with] these speeches lately 
passed from her majesty, referring the same to your 
good judgments. And so we commit you to the pro- 
tection of the Almighty. Your most assured friends, 



" London, February 1st, 1586."* 

With the letter, Davison sent an earnest injunction 
that it should be committed to the flames ; promising 
for his part to burn, or as he styled it, " make a 
heretic " of the answer. Cruel and morose, however, 
as Paulet had undoubtedly been to Mary, he was not 
the common murderer which Elizabeth took Mm to 
be, and refused, peremptorily, to have any hand in her 
horrid purpose. He received the letter on the second 
of February, at five in the afternoon, and at six the 
same evening, having communicated it to Drury, re- 
turned this answer to Walsingham. 

" Your letters of yesterday, coming to my hands 
this present day at five in the afternoon, I would not 
fail, according to your directions, to return my answer 
with all possible speed ; which [I] shall deliver unto 
you with great grief and bitterness of mind, in that I 
am so unhappy to have liven to see this unhappy day, 
in the which I am required, by direction from my 
most gracious sovereign, to do an act which God and 

\- Robert of Gloucester's Chronicle, by Hearne, vol. ii. p. 674. 

1586-7. JAMES vi. 345 

the law forbiddeth. My good livngs and life are at 
her majesty's disposition, and I am ready to lose them 
this next morrow, if it shall so please her : acknow- 
ledging that I hold them as of her mere and gracious 
favour. I do not desire them to enjoy them but with 
her highness 1 good liking ; but God forbid that I 
should make so foul a shipwrack of my conscience, or 
leave so great a blot to my poor posterity, to shed 
blood without law and warrant. Trusting that her 
majesty, of her accustomed clemency, will take this 
my dutiful answer in good part." * 

This refusal, as we have seen, was written on the 
second February, in the evening, at Fotheringay ; and, 
next morning, (the third, Friday,) Davison received 
an early and hasty summons from Elizabeth, who called 
him into her chamber, and inquired if he had been with 
the warrant to the chancellor's. He said he had; and 
she asked sharply why he had made such haste. " I 
obeyed your majesty's commands," was his reply; "and 
deemed it no matter to be dallied with." " True," 
said she, " yet methinks the best and safest way would 
be to have it otherwise handled." He answered to 
this, that, if it was to be done at all, the honourable 
way was the safest ;-f- and the queen dismissed him. 
But by this time the warrant, with the royal signature, 
was in the hands of the council ; and on that day 
they addressed a letter, enclosing it, to the Earl of 
Shrewsbury. This letter was signed by Burghley the 
Lord Treasurer, Leicester, Hunsdon, Knollys, Wal- 
singham, Derby, Howard, Cobham, Sir Christopher 
Hatton, and Davison hirnself.J Yet some fears as 


to the responsibility of sending it away without the 
queen's knowledge, made them still hesitate to despatch 
it. In this interval, Paulefs answer arrived ; and as 
Walsingham, to wliom he had addressed it, was sick, 
(or, as some said, pretended illness,) the task of com- 
municating it to Eli^beth fell on Davison. She read 
it with symptoms of great impatience ; and, breaking 
out into passionate expressions, declared that she hated 
those dainty, nice, precise fellows, who promised much, 
but performed nothing: casting all the burden on her. 
But, she added, she would have it done without him, 
by Wingfield. Who this new assassin was, to whom 
the queen alluded, does not appear.* 

The privy-council, meanwhile, had determined to 
take the responsibility of sending off the warrant for 
the execution upon themselves ; and, for this purpose, 
intrusted it to Beal the clerk of the council ; who, on 
the evening of Saturday the fourth of February, ar- 
rived with it at the seat of the Earl of Kent ; and, 
next day, being Sunday, proceeded to Fotheringay 
and communicated it to Sir Amias Paulet and Sir 
Drew Drury.-f- Intelligence was then sent to the 
Earl of Shrewsbury, Grand Marshal of England, who 
lived at no great distance from Fotheringay ; and, on 
Tuesday morning, the seventh February, this noble- 
man and the Earl of Kent came to the castle with 
several persons who were to give directions or to be 
employed in the approaching tragedy. For some days 
before this, Mary's servants had suspected the worst ; 
but the preparations which now took place, and the 
arrival of so many strangers, threw them into despair. 

* Davison's Defence ; Nicolas' Life of Davison, p. 103 ; and Id. Appen- 
dix A. 
+ La Mort de la Royne D'Escosse, in Jebb, vol. ii. p. 512. 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 347 

On Tuesday after dinner, at two o'clock, the two earls 
demanded an audience of the Queen of Scots, who sent 
word that she was indisposed and in bed ; but if the 
matter were of consequence, she would rise and receive 
them. On their reply that it could brook no delay, 
they were admitted after a short interval ; and Kent 
and Shrewsbury coming into the apartment, with 
Paulet, Drury, and Beal, found her seated at the 
bottom of her bed, her usual place, with her small 
work-table before her.* Near her stood her physician 
Burgoin, and her women. When the earls uncovered, 
she received them with her usual tranquil grace ; and 
Shrewsbury, in few words, informed her that his royal 
mistress, Elizabeth, being overcome by the importunity 
of her subjects, had given orders for her execution; for 
which she would now be pleased to hear the warrant. 
Beal then read the commission; to which she listened 
unmoved and without interrupting him. On its con- 
clusion she bowed her head, and, making the sign of 
the cross, thanked her gracious God that this welcome 
news had, at last, come; declaring how happy she 
should be to leave a world where she was of no use, 
and had suffered such continued affliction. She assured 
the lords that she regarded it as a signal happiness, 
that God had sent her death at this moment, after so 
many evils and sorrows endured for his Holy Catholic 
Church : " That Church," she continued, with great 
fervour of expression, " for which I have been ready, as 
I have often testified, to lay down my life, and to shed 
my blood drop by drop. " Alas," she continued, " I did 
not think myself worthy of so happy a death as this; 
but I acknowledge it as a sign of the love of God, and 
humbly receive it as an earnest of my reception into the 

* La Mor* de la Royne D'Escosse, Jebb, vol. ii. p. 612. 


number of his servants. Long have I doubted and spe- 
culated for these eighteen or nineteen years, from day to 
day, upon all that was about to happen to me. Often 
have I thought on the manner in which the English have 
acted to imprisoned princes ; and, after my frequent 
escapes from such snares as have been laid for me, I 
have scarce ventured to hope for such a blessed end as 
this." She then spoke of her high rank, which had 
so little defended her from cruelty and injustice: born 
a queen, the daughter of a king, the near relative of 
the Queen of England, the grand-daughter of Henry 
the Seventh, once Queen of France, and still queen- 
dowager of that kingdom ; and yet, what had all this 
availed her ? She had loved England ; she had de- 
sired its prosperity, as the next heir to that crown ; 
and, as far as was permitted to a good Catholic, had 
laboured for its welfare. She had earnestly longed for 
the love and friendship of her good sister the queen ; 
had often informed her of coming dangers ; had cher- 
ished, as the dearest wish of her heart, that for once 
she should meet her in person, and speak with her in 
confidence ; being well assured that, had this ever 
happened, there would have been an end of all jealousies 
and dissensions. But all had been refused her ; her 
enemies, who still lived and acted for their own inter- 
ests, had kept them asunder. She had been treated 
with ignominy and injustice ; imprisoned contrary to 
all faith and treaties; kept a captive for nineteen years ; 
" and, at last," said she, laying her hand upon the New 
Testament which was on her table, " condemned by a 
tribunal which had no power over me, for a crime of 
which I here solemnly declare I am innocent.* I have 

* La Mort de la Royne D'Escosse, p. G18. 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 349 

neither invented, nor consented tc> nor pursued any 
conspiracy for the death of the Queen of England." 
The Earl of Kent here hastily interrupted her, declar- 
ing that the translation of the Scriptures on which she 
had sworn was false, and the Roman Catholic version, 
which invalidated her oath. " It is the translation in 
which I believe," answered Mary, " as the version of 
our Holy Church. Does your lordship think my oath 
would be better if I swore on your translation, which 
I disbelieve?" 

She then entreated to be allowed the services of her 
priest and almoner, who was in the castle, but had 
not been permitted to see her since her removal from 
Chartley. He would assist her, she said, in her pre- 
parations for death, and administer that spiritual 
consolation, which it would be sinful to receive from 
any one of a different faith. To the disgrace of the 
noblemen, the request was refused : nor was this to be 
attributed to any cruelty in Elizabeth, who had given 
no instructions upon the subject; but to the intolerant 
bigotry of the Earl of Kent, who, in a long theological 
discourse, attempted to convert her to his own opinions ; 
offering her, in the place of her confessor, the services 
of the Protestant Dean of Peterborough, Dr Fletcher, 
whom they had brought with them. Mary expressed 
her astonishment at this last unexpected stroke of 
cruelty ; but bore it meekly as she had done all the 
rest, although she peremptorily declined all assistance 
from the dean. She then inquired what time she 
should die ; and the earls having answered " To-morrow 
at eight in the morning,' 1 made their obeisance, and 
left the room. On their departure she called her 
women, and bade them hasten supper, that she might 
have time to arrange her affairs. Nothing could be 


more natural, or rather playful, than her manner at 
this moment. " Come, come," said she, " Jane Ken- 
nedy, cease weeping, and be busy. Did I not warn 
you, my children, that it would come to this? and 
now, blessed be God! it has come; and fear and sorrow 
are at an end. Weep not, then, nor lament, but re- 
joice rather that you see your poor mistress so near 
the end of all her troubles. Dry your eyes, then, and 
let us pray together/ 1 

Her men-servants, who were in tears, then left the 
room, and Mary passed some time in devotion with her 
ladies. After which she occupied herself in counting 
the money which still remained in her cabinet; divid- 
ing it into separate sums, which she intended for her 
servants ; and then putting each sum into a little purse 
with a slip of paper, on which she wrote, with her own 
hand, the name of the person for whom it was destined. 
Supper was next brought in, of which she partook 
sparingly, as was usual with, her ; conversing from 
time to time with Burgoin her physician, who served 
her; and sometimes falling into a reverie, during which 
it was remarked that a sweet smile, as if she had heard 
some good news, would pass over her features, lighting 
them up with an expression of animated joy, which, 
much changed as she was by sorrow and ill health, 
recalled to her poor servants her days of beauty. It 
was with one of these looks that, turning to her phy- 
sician, she said, " Did you remark, Burgoin, what that 
Earl of Kent said in his talk with me : that my life 
would have been the death, as my death would be the 
life of their religion? Oh, how glad am I at that 
speech ! Here comes the truth at last, and I pray 
you remark it. They told me I was to die, because 
I had plotted against the queen ; but then arrives this 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 351 

Kent, whom they sent hither to convert me, and what 
says he ? I am to die for my religion."* 

After supper, she called for her ladies, and asking 
for a cup of wine, drank to them all, begging them to 
pledge her ; which they did on their knees, mingling 
their tears in the cup, and asking her forgiveness if 
they had ever offended her. This she readily gave 
them, bidding them farewell with much tenderness, 
entreating in her turn their pardon, and solemnly 
enjoining them to continue firm in their religion, and 
forget all their little jealousies, living in peace and 
love with each other. It would be easier to do so 
now, she added, since Nau, who had been so busy in 
creating dissensions, was no longer with them. This 
was the only subject on which she felt and expressed 
herself with something like keenness ; repeating more 
than once, that he was the cause of her death, but 
adding that she forgave him. She next examined her 
wardrobe, and selected various dresses as presents to 
her servants, delivering them at the moment, with 
some kind expression to each. She then wrote to her 
almoner, lamenting that the cruelty of her enemies 
had refused her the consolation of his presence with 
her in her last moments, imploring him to watch and 
pray with her that night, and to send her his absolu- 
tion."f After this she made her will; and lastly, wrote 
to the King of France. By this time it was two in 
the morning, and finding herself fatigued, she lay 
down, having first washed her feet, whilst her women 
watched and read at her bedside. They observed that, 

* Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 534. Mort de la Royne D'Escosse. Jebb, 
vol. ii. p. 625. 

+ The letters are preserved, and will be found printed in Jebb. vol. ii. pp. 
627, 63U. 


though quite still and tranquil, she was not asleep, 
her lips moving, as if engaged in secret prayer. It 
was her custom to have her women read to her at 
night a portion of the " Lives of the Saints," a book 
she loved much ; and this last night she would not 
omit it, but made Jane Kennedy choose a portion, for 
their usual devotions. She selected the life entitled, 
" The Good Thief," which treats of that beautiful and 
affecting example of dying faith and divine compassion. 
" Alas ! " said Mary, " he was indeed a very great 
sinner, but not so great as I am. May my Saviour, 
in memory of His Passion, have mercy on me, as He 
had on him, at the hour of death." * At this moment 
she recollected that she would require a handkerchief 
to bind her eyes at her execution ; and bidding them 
bring her several, she selected one of the finest, which 
was embroidered with gold, laying it carefully aside. 
Early in the morning she rose, observing that now 
she had but two hours to live ; and having finished 
her toilet she came into her oratory, and kneeling 
with her women before the altar, where they usually 
said mass, continued long in prayer. Her physician 
then, afraid of her being exhausted, begged her to take 
a little bread and wine ; which she did cheerfully, 
thanking him, at the same time, for giving her her 
last meal. 

A knock was now heard at the door, and a messenger 
came to say that the lords waited for her. She begged 
to be allowed a short time to conclude her devotions. 
Soon after, a second summons arriving, the door was 
opened, and the sheriff alone, with his white wand, 
walked into the room, proceeded to the altar, where 
the queen still knelt, and informed her that all was 

* Mort de la Royne D'Escosse, Jebb, vol. ii. p. 631. 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 353 

ready. She then rose, saying simply, " Let us go ; ** 
and Burgoin her physician, who assisted her to rise 
from her knees, asking her at this moment whether she 
would not wish to take with her the little cross and 
ivory crucifix which lay on the altar, she said : " Oh 
yes, yes ; it was my intention to have done so : many, 
many thanks for putting me in mind !" She then 
received it, kissed it, and desired Annibal, one of her 
suite, to carry it before her. The sheriff, walking 
first, now conducted her to the door of the apartment ; 
on reaching which, her servants, who had followed her 
thus far, were informed that they must now turn back, 
as a command had been given that they should not 
accompany their mistress to the scaffold. This stern 
and unnecessary order was received by them with loud 
remonstrances and tears ; but Mary only observed, 
that it was hard not to suffer her poor servants to be 
present at her death. She then took the crucifix in 
her hand, and bade them affectionately adieu ; whilst 
they clung in tears to her robe, kissed her hand, and 
were with difficulty torn from her, and locked up in 
the apartment. The queen after this proceeded alone 
down the great staircase, at the foot of which she was 
received by the Earls of Shrewsbury and Kent, who 
were struck with the perfect tranquillity and unaffected 
grace with which she met them. She was dressed in 
black satin, matronly, but richly ; and with more 
studied care than she was commonly accustomed to 
bestow. She wore a long veil of white crape, and 
her usual high Italian ruff ; an Agnus Dei was sus- 
pended by a pomander chain round her neck, and her 
beads of gold hung at her girdle.* At the bottom of 
the staircase she found Sir Andrew Melvil, her old 

* See Proofs and Illustrations, No. XV. 


affectionate servant, and master of her household, 
waiting to take his last farewell. On seeing her he 
lluug himself on his knees at her feet, and bitterly 
lamented it should have fallen on him to carry to 
Scotland the heart-rending news of his dear mistress' 
death. " Weep not, my good Mclvil," said she, 
" but rather rejoice that an end has at last come to 
the sorrows of Mary Stuart. And carry this news 
with thee, that I die firm in my religion, true to Scot- 
land, true to France. May God, who can alone judge 
the thoughts and actions of men, forgive those who 
have thirsted for my blood ! He knows my heart ; 
He knows my desire hath ever been, that Scotland 
and England should be united. Remember me to 
my son," she added. " Tell him I have done nothing 
that may prejudice his kingdom of Scotland. And 
now, good Melvil, my most faithful servant, once more 
I bid thee farewell." She then earnestly entreated 
that her women might still be permitted to be with her 
at her death ; but the Earl of Kent peremptorily re- 
fused, alleging that they would only disturb every thing 
by their lamentations, and he guilty of something 
scandalous and superstitious ; probably dipping their 
handkerchiefs in her blood. "Alas, poor souls !" taiil 
Mary, " I will give my word and promise they will 
do none of these things. It would do them good to 
bid me farewell ; and I hope your mistress, who is a 
maiden queen, hath not given you so strait a commis- 
sion. She might grant mo more than this, were I a 
far meaner person. And yet, my lords, you know I 
am cousin to your queen, descended from the blood of 
Henry the Seventh, a married Queen of France, and 
an anointed Queen of Scotland. Surely, surely they 
will not deny me this last little request : my poor 

1 5S6-7. JAMES vi. 355 

girls wish only to see me die."* As she said this, 
a few tears were observed to fall, for the first time ; 
and after some consultation, she was permitted to have 
two of her ladies and four of her gentlemen beside her. 
She then immediately chose Burgoin her physician, 
her almoner, surgeon, and apothecary, with Jane 
Kennedy and Elizabeth Curie. Followed by them, 
and by Melvil bearing her train, she entered the great 
hall, and walked to the scaffold, which had been 
erected at its upper end. It was a raised platform, 
about two feet in height, and twelve broad, surrounded 
by a rail, and covered with black. Upon it were 
placed a low chair and cushion, two other seats, and 
the block. The queen regarded it without the least 
change of countenance, cheerfully mounted the steps, 
and sat down with the same easy grace and dignity 
with which she would have occupied her throne. On 
her ri<rht werejseated the Earls of Kent and Shrewsburv, 

* * 

on her left stood the Sheriffs, and before her the two 
executioners. The Earl of Kent, the Dean of Peter- 
borough, Sir Amias Paulet, Sir Drew Drury. Beal 
the Clerk of tbe Privy-council, and others stood beside 
the scaffold ; and these, with the guards, officers, at- 
tendants, and some of the neighbouring gentry, who 
had been permitted to be present, made up an assem- 
blv of about two hundred in all. Beal then read the 


warrant for her death, which she heard with apparent 
attention ; but those near her could see, by the sweet 
and absent expression of her countenance, that her 
thoughts were far off. 

When it was finished, she crossed herself, and ad- 
dressed a few words to the persons round the scaffold. 

* La Mort d la Rovne D*Escone, Jebb, vol. ii. pp. 635, 636. 


She spoke of her rights as a sovereign princess, which 
had been invaded and trampled on, and of her long 
sorrows and imprisonment ; but expressed the deepest 
thankfulness to God, that, being now about to die for 
her religion, she was permitted, before this company, 
to testify that she died a Catholic, and innocent of 
having invented any plot, or consented to any prac- 
tices against the queen's life. " I will here," said she, 
"in my last moments, accuse no one; but when I am 
gone, much will be discovered that is now hid, and the 
objects of those who have procured my death be more 
clearly disclosed to the world. 

Fletcher the Dean of Peterborough now came up 
upon the scaffold, and, with the Earls of Kent and 
Shrewsbury, made an ineffectual attempt to engage 
Mary in their devotions; but she repelled all their 
offers, at first mildly, and afterwards, when they in- 
sisted on her joining with them in prayer, in more 
peremptory terms. It was at this moment that Kent, 
in the excess of his Puritanism, observing her in- 
tensely regarding the crucifix, bade her renounce such 
antiquated superstitions : " Madam," said he, " that 
image of Christ serves to little purpose, if you have 
him not engraved upon your heart." " Ah," said 
Mary, " there is nothing more becoming a dying 
Christian than to carry in his hands this remem- 
brance of his redemption. How impossible is it to 
have such an object in our hands and keep the heart 
unmoved ! "* 

The Dean of Peterborough then prayed in English, 
being joined by the noblemen and gentlemen who were 
present; whilst Mary, kneeling apart, repeated portions 

* Martyre de Marie Stuart, Royne D'Escosse. Jebb, vol. ii. pp. 47, 200, 
307 ; and same volume, Mort de la Royne D'Escosse, 637. 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 357 

of the Penitential Psalms in Latin,-f- and afterwards 
continued her prayers aloud in English. By this time, 
the dean having concluded, there was a deep silence, so 
that every word was heard. Amid this stillness she 
recommended to God his afflicted Church, her son the 
King of Scotland, and Queen Elizabeth. She declared 
that her whole hope rested on her Saviour; and, al- 
though she confessed that she was a great sinner, she 
humbly trusted that the blood of that immaculate 
Lamb, which had been shed for all sinners, would wash 
all her guilt away. She then invoked the blessed 
Virgin and all the saints, imploring them to grant 
her their prayers with God; and finally declared that 
she forgave all her enemies. It was impossible for any 
one to behold her at this moment without being deeply 
affected; on her knees, her hands clasped together and 
raised to Heaven, an expression of adoration and divine 
serenity lighting up her features, and upon her lips 
the words of forgiveness to her persecutors. As she 
finished her devotions she kissed the crucifix, and, 
making the sign of the cross, exclaimed in a clear, 
sweet voice, " As thine arms, O my God, were spread 
out upon the cross, so receive me within the arms of 
thy mercy : extend thy pity, and forgive my sins ! " 

She then cheerfully suffered herself to be undressed 
by her two women, Jane Kennedy and Elizabeth Curie, 
and gently admonished them not to distress her by 
their tears and lamentations; putting her finger on 
her lips, and bidding them remember that she had 
promised for them. On seeing the executioner come 
up to offer his assistance, she smiled, and playfully 

f" The pailms, as numbered in the reformed version, were xxxi. li. and xci. 
In the vulgate, Miserere mei Deus ; In te, Domine,speravi ; Qui habitat iiiad- 
jutorio. Mort de la Royne D'Escosse, in Jebb, vol. ii. p. 638. Lingard, 
Tol. viii. p. 248. 


said she had neither been used to such grooms of the 
chamber, nor to undress before so many people. When 
all was ready she kissed her two women, and, giving 
them her last blessing, desired them to leave her, one 
of them having first bound her eyes with the handker- 
chief which she had chosen for the purpose. She then 
sat down, and, clasping her hands together, held her 
neck firm and erect, expecting that she was to be be- 
headed in the French fashion, with a sword, and in a 
sitting attitude. Those who were present, and knew 
nothing of this misconception, wondered at this; and 
in the pause, Mary, still waiting for the blow, repeated 
the psalm, " In thee, O Lord, have I trusted: let me 
never be put to confusion."* On being made aware 
of her mistake she instantly knelt down, and, groping 
with her hands for the block, laid her neck upon it 
without the slightest mark of trembling or hesitation. 
Her last words were, " Into thy hands I commend my 
spirit, for thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of 
truth." At this moment the tears and emotions of 
the spectators had reached their height, and appear, 
unfortunately, to have shaken the nerves and disturbed 
the aim of the executioner, so that his first blow was 
ill directed, and only wounded his victim. She lay, 
however, perfectly still, and the next stroke severed 
the head from the body. The executioner then held 
the head up and called aloud, " God save the queen !" 
" So let all Queen Elizabeth^ enemies perish !" was 
the prayer of the Dean of Peterborough; but the 
spectators were dissolved in tears, and one deep voice 
only answered, Amen. It came from the Earl of Kent/f* 

* In te, Domine, confido : non confundar in sternum. 

f- Mort de la Royne D'Escosse, p. 641. Martyre de Marie Stuart. Jebb, 
vol. ii. p. 308. Camden in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 535. Ellis's Letters, 2d series, 
vol. iii. p. 117. 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 359 

An affecting incident now occurred. On removing 
the dead body, and the clothes and mantle which lay 
beside it, Mary's favourite little dog, which had fol- 
lowed its mistress to the scaffold unperceived, was 
found nestling under them. No entreaty could prevail 
on it to quit the spot ; and it remained lying beside 
the corpse, and stained in the blood, till forcibly carried 
away by the attendants.* 

* Mort de la Royne D'Escosse, Jebb, vol. ii. p. 641. Ellis's Letters, 2d 
series, vol. iii. p. 117. 









No. I. 
Attack on Stirling, 26<A April, 1578, p. 32. 

A MINUTE and interesting account of the successful attack on Stir- 
ling castle, which led to the restoration of Morton to the supreme 
power in the government, will be found in the following letter from 
Sir Robert Bowea to Lord Burghley. 


" Edinburgh, April 28, 1578. 

" May it please your Lordship. On Saturday last, about six in the 
morning, the Earl of Mar, accompanied with the Abbots of Dryburgh 
and Cambuskenneth,'and their servants ordinarily lodged in the 
castle of Stirling, came to the castle gate, with pretence to go a-hunt- 
ing; and finding there the Master and his servants, the abbots called 
the Master aside, charging him that he had much abused the Earl of 
Mar his nephew, and far overseen himself in withholding the custody 
of the king and castle from the earl. The Master, after reasonable 
excuse made, found that they pressed to possess the keys, and com- 
mand the piece ; and reaching himself to an halbert, his servants came 
to assist him. Dryburgh and some with him stayed the Master; 
Cambuskenneth and his complices assaulted the rest; when Buchanan, 
one of the Master's men, was sore hurt. After the fray pacified, the 
Master and the abbots withdraw themselves to the hall to debate the 

* Orig. British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 89. 


matter ; and Argyle being then a-bed, rose speedily, and came with 
a small number to the hall, where, hearing that the Master and the 
abbots were in quiet communication, he retired himself to his chamber, 
and, arming himself, he assembled his servants, that with the Master 
were able to have overmatched the other. But the Master being 
then fully satisfied, Argyle was likewise soon after appeased; and 
then yielding possession for the earl, they agreed at length to remove 
thence, and draw to concord, specially to satisfy the king, who of the 
tumult, as is reported, was in great fear, and teared his hair, saying 
the Master was slain. And as I am informed, his grace by night, 
hath been by this means so discouraged, as in his sleep he is here- 
with greatly disquieted. After all this was ended, the Earls of Argyle 
and Mar, the two abbots and Mr Buchanan,* advertised by their 
letters this council of this accident; declaring that the parties were 
well reconciled; and persuaded the council to proceed forwards in the 
course determined for the government, as no such matter had hap- 
pened. Argyle departed out of the castle, and he is now gone to 
levy his forces, meaning to return within two days at the farthest. 

u In this uproar, the eldest son of the Master was so crushed in the 
throng, as he died the next day. The Master is fallen into vehement 
disease with danger of his life. 

w Upon the coming of the said letters from Stirling, on Saturday 
about nine in the afternoon, the council assembled ; and after some 
hot humours digested, they despatched Montrose that night towards 
Stirling, to understand, and certify to them the true state of the 
matter, to persuade quietness about the king's person, and to continue 
this present government established until the next parliament. 

" Montrose, after long abode at the Lord of Livingston's house, 
came to Stirling in the next day, and was received into the castle. 
He putteth the council in good hope that the matter is well pacified, 
and that this government shall not by this accident be impeached. 
Whereupon the most part of this council, pretending to have the 
king's letters commanding their repair to him, are departed this day 
towards Stirling; but what shall ensue hereof is greatly doubted. 

" Lochleven being speedily advertised of the doings of the abbots, 
came the same day to Stirling, and with some difficulty, (as out- 
wardly was showed,) was let into the castle with one servant, whom 
presently he returned to Lochleven to the Earl of Morton, and him- 
self remaineth still in the castle. The Earl of Morton, upon the first 
advertisement, came to Lochleven ; despatched his servant to the 
Earl of Angus, to put all his friends and forces in a readiness on an 

* This was the celebrated Buchanan. 


hour's warning. And many noblemen, being friends to these two 
earls, have done the like; nevertheless they show no force nor assem- 
bly as yet. 

" The Lords of the Council have likewise levied all their powers, 
drawing some part with all possible speed towards Stirling, and leav- 
ing the residue in readiness upon warning. 

" Some are of opinion, that the council will be readily received and 
welcomed to the king and to all the castle, without further change ; 
and many think that, by the means of the abbots, the king shall cause 
them to retire to their own houses, till his pleasure be further known. 
And in case they disobey the same ; then to lay siege and take the 
castle. That then the king will cause the Earl of Morton and other 
nobles to levy their power within the realm, to raise the siege, and 
rescue his person from their violence. What storm shall fall out of 
these swelling heats doth not yet appear. But I think, verily, and 
that within two or three days, that it will burst into some open 
matter ; discovering sufficiently the purposes intended ; wherein, to 
my power, I shall seek to quench all violent rages, and persuade 
unity and concord among them; which, if this sudden chance had not 
happened, might easily have taken place. Thus referring the rest to 
the next occasion, 

" And with humble duty, &c. 


No. II. 

Composition between Morton and Ms Enemies, p. 38. 

Lord Hunsdon's letter from Berwick to Lord Burghley, referred to 
in the text, and preserved in the British Museum, Caligula, C. v. fol. 
101, gives some interesting particulars of the composition between 
Morton and his powerful opponents. It is as follows : 


"Berwick, August 19, 1578. 

" My very good Lord I will not trouble your k rdship with any 
long discourse touching this matter in Scotland." 

Hunsdon then refers Burghley to Mr Bowes' letter, " who," he 
says, " has the greatest merit in bringing about peace : otherwise 
there had been such a slaughter as would not have been appeased in 
Scotland these many years, the malice of the lords and their adherents, 
especially the Wardens of Tew dale and the Merse and their bands, 


which was their greatest force against Morton, was so great and so 
desirous of revenge. They of the Merse made them a standard of 
blue sarcenet, and in it a child painted within a grate, with this 
speech out of his mouth, ' Liberty I crave, and cannot it have.' They 
seemed to answer under it, ' Either you shall have it, or we will die 
for it ;' so as, though their malice to Morton was their quarrel indeed, 
yet they made the detaining of the king their colour. 

" My lord, the queen's maj : hath now both sides at her devotion, 
and the party of Athole and Argyle more in show than the king's ; 
for the king's side terms the others Englishmen, because they were 
contented to put the whole of their causes to her majesty ; which the 
other lords, being required of Mr Bowes to do the like, Morton 
utterly refused the same, saying that the K. and his council would 
end them. But if Mr Bowes' travel, and some other means, had not 
taken place, it was very like that Morton had been hard bested ; for 
although the king's side were something more in number, yet were 
the others better chosen men, far better horsed and armed, and, 
besides, few of them but, either for their own causes or their friends, 
bare Morton a deadly hatred and sour desire of revenge, which was 
but in few of the king's side against any of the other lords. I pray 
God her majesty do so deal now, having both sides at her devotion, 
as she may keep them both ; which surely she may easily do if she 

" The king hath sent her majesty a cast of Falcons. I would be 
glad that her majesty would remember him with some token. 
" Thus have I troubled, &c. &c. &c., 


No. III. 

Destruction of the House of Hamilton by Morton in 1579, p. 47. 

The following letter of Captain Nicholas Arrington to Lord Burgh- 
ley, describes his negotiations with the young king, and the deep 
feeling of hatred and revenge which animated so many of the nobility 
against the house of Hamilton. It is preserved in the British Museum, 
Caligula, C. v. fol. 130. 


" Berwick, 10th October, 1579. 

" Right Honourable Having given my attendance, as well at 
Stirling as at Edinburgh, these twenty-six days, for answer of the 


king to such letters and instructions as I had to deliver and deal in 
from the queen's highness my sovereign with the king there ; and 
having used my duty and diligence there to my simple knowledge, 
as well to the king himself as to the whole board and nobility, * * 
I have now received the king's letters in answer, which I send here- 
with to your honour, as also a letter to her highness from the Earl 
of Morton, &c. Yet, in using such conference with his grace, as her 
majesty's letters and instructions did lead me unto, touching the 
Hamiltons, I could not find in the king other than fervent hatred 
against them, and as it were a fear he had of them, if they should 
remain or inhabit within that realm, to be dangerous to his person. 
I found the like devotion of the whole nobility there towards them, 
and not willing to pity their cause ; and thought not only discourtesy 
in receiving them in England, but as much in soliciting their causes, 
being so odious murderers to the king's dearest friends ; yet seeming 
to be grateful of her majesty's good [will] in forewarning the danger 
that might happen to the king's estate by their banishment into foreign 
countries, being of so great a house and quality. * * Touching 
the present state of that country, the king hath not been directly 
moved by the council, or any number of councillors or noblemen 
together, for any marriage with any particular person. Yet it is 
thought that, as there be several factions in that matter, so every one 
of them seeketh to persuade the K. to marry in that place that may 
be best for their own purpose ; wherein some look for France, some 
for Spain, some for Denmark ; and it is said the matter will be offered 
to the queen shortly, with request to dispose himself such way as 
shall be found most convenient for his marriage ; and it seems that 
the K., of his own inclination, best liketh and affecteth to match with 
England in marriage, in case he may find her majesty favourable to 

" Touching Monsieur de Aubigny, it appeareth that the king is 
much delighted with his company, and he is like to win to special 
favour ; and not only to be Earl of Lennox in reversion, (after the 
earl present,) but also to have some part of the Hamiltons' lands, 
if he may be drawn to religion. He hath not, as yet, dealt in any 
matter of marriage with the king, nor in any matter of great weight, 
but defers all those things to further time. He means to abide in 
Scotland this winter. His wife is looked for there, with her younger 
brother Andracks. He lives in court more than his living will bear, 
as is thought ; whereupon some judges he is borne with some greater 
than himself. He hath many followers, as Mr Henry Ker and others, 
that are much suspected ; which they perceive, causing them to ba 
more wary to meddle in anything as yet. 


" This parliament holds at Edinburgh, the 20th of this month, 
which is thought chiefly for these causes : for the forfeiture of the 
Ilamiltons and Sir James Balfour ; for the confirmation of all things 
done in the regents' times during the king's minority ; and for order 
to he done in the king's house and revenues. The heartburn and 
hatred betwixt the Earl of Morton and the Kers and the Humes, 
who depend upon Argyle, Montrose, and that fellowship, still con- 

" The king is generally well loved and obeyed of both sides, and of 
all the people. Thus craving pardon for my evil scribbling, using 
more another weapon than the pen, I do commit your honour to the 
preservation of the Almighty. 


No. IV. 

Poisoning of the Earl of Aihole, and State of Parties in 
Scotland, p. 47. 

The two following letters, which are printed from the originals in 
the Bowes Papers, relate to the state of the country immediately after 
the death of the Earl of Athole : 

BOWES. Dated, 29th April, 1579.* 

" The Spirit of the Lord Jesus be with you for salutation. 

" I wrote to you before, the day and date of the Earl of Athole 
deid,+ quhilk was the 24th of this instant April. 

" He was opened and bowelled on Sunday, and it is plainly said 
he was poisoned, for so they perceive when he was opened. The 
Earl of Montrose and the Bailie of Arrol is left chief councillors to 
the Earl of Athole 's son, quhilk J is eighteen years old. 

" His father has given him in command to keep friendship with all 
them that he was in friendship withal before. 

" There is great strife and debate quhilk should be chancellor ; but 
the Earl of Argyle has gotten the grant of it at the king. 

" Morton is at Castle Semple with Boyd, and has ane enterprise 
upon the Hamiltons, at least seems so ; but all is falsett he means. 

" To this effect, Captain Crawford is to take up ane hundred men, 

* From the Bowes MSS. orig. f Death, which. 

Quhilk which, for who. Falsett, falsehood. 


and Captain Hume ane other hundred ; but I think my Lord of 
Athole's deid shall make them run a new course. 

" Ye shall surely know that Athole's fellowship will not leave the 
common cause ; and, therefore, I think ye shall hear of some alter- 
ation shortly. 

" Our name and the Kers is lying at wait what shall be enterprised. 
I wrote to you before we shall never be Morton's. 

" It is thought that Argyle shall take Athole's place plain upon him, 
and begin where he left ; and Montrose will be a spur to the same. 

" We are surely informed that the King of Denmark has levied six 
thousand men to come on Orkney and Shetland : by whose means 
this is done I wrote to you before in my last letter. 

" The Earl of Angus remains at Tantallon. 

. " The court is very quiet at this time. I pray God preserve our 
king, for he is in great hazard : for if they begin the Italian fashion 
in the king's house, what good shall we look for so long as he is there 1 
Surely, I fear me, if he be not gotten out of their hands, they will the 
like with him. As I hear farther, you shall be advertised. 
" Written the 29th April, 1579. Your loving friend, 


" Sir, Albeit the time hath been short since your departure, the 
accidents and mutations in this realm hath not been of small impor- 
tance. As I wrote to you of before, that the Earl of Athole his sickness 
was thought to be mortal, so is he now departed this present life, at 
Kincardine, the 25th of April, not without great suspicion, and a 
crying out that he was poisoned. And yet I think, with time, that 
bruit will vanish, notwithstanding that the Lord of Aratully,* whose 
name is Stewart, was by the Earl of Montrose, and the remanent 
friends that was present when the corpse was opened, sent to the 
king's majesty, humbly requiring for trial and punishment. To whom 
his majesty answered, Giff that matter were true, it concerned 
himself for divers respects ; and yet, as it were a shame to him to 
leave the matter untried, and gif need required unpunished, so were 
it ane sin to slander any innocent personage : and therefore he would 
not fail, first to take trial, and thereafter to proceed to punishment. 

" The hail J friends of the dead are convened at Dunkelden on the 
3d of May, where the young Earls of Athole and Montrose put in 

* Grandtully. f If. Whole. 



deliberation what were best way to come by ane revenge of th'>3 
heinous fact. 

" It hath been concluded with that assembly, that not only those 
which were present should crave justice of this matter at the king's 
majesty, but also all the sociats of the Falkirk should be convened to 
crave the same. Upon this conclusion, a convention of the foresaids 
is appointed to be at Edinburgh upon the 15th May ; but I am of 
opinion that this their appointed diet shall not hold, in respect of the 
causes subsequent. 

" Upon the 1st May, a matter, before concluded, was put in execu- 
tion. Letters was directed by the king and council to charge the 
Lords of Arbroath and Paisley to exhibit their brother, the Earl of 
Arran, before the king in Stirling, upon the 20th of the said month ; 
which letters was only devised to put the said lords in hope that no 
further shall proceed against them but by the order aforesaid. 

" The Earl of Morton before that time was sent to Dalkeith, the 
Earl of Angus to Douglas, the Earl of Lennox to Glasgow, the Lord 
Ruthven to Stirling ; all these persons having their forces privately 
warned upon the 3d of May, marched towards Hamilton and Draff- 
nage, where they made their rendezvous before their setting forward. 
The twae brether* was fled away, and left the house garnished; which 
are now enclosed, and ready to be given up. 

"Immediately after the said lords was upon the fields to press 
towards Hamilton, when they were certain that no intelligence could 
prevent their doings, proclamation was sent forth by the king and 
council, at an hour proclaimed in divers sheriffdoms, to follow the 
same lords for prosecuting and apprehending of the two foresaid 
brethren and their complices. * * * 

" This sudden and unexpected dealing and proceeding, is like to 
put such affray in the minds of the associates at Falkirk, that their 
appointed diet for meeting at Edinburgh shall turn to great uncer- 

" Besides this, the Lord Seton is charged to appear personally at 
Stirling, upon the 6th day hereof, to answer super inguirendis; where 
he is, for divers respects, to be committed to ward. 

" John Seton, second son to the said lord, arrived in this country 
upon the 2d of May. He is created Cavallero de Buca of the Catholic 
King of Spain. But I believe this commission shall be of the less 
efficacy, that his father is now by chance happened in the midst of 
these troubles. * * By fame nobody is charged with this heinous 
fact of poison but the Lady Mar, and her brother the comptroller, 

* The two brothers. 


quhilk* is thought shall be after trial evanished; because divers does 
believe, that this bruit hath rather proceeded upon malice to found 
ane quarrel upon, nor upon any sure ground. Ye may, by yourself, 
consider that all these matters tends to this fine,f to bring the king 
to Edinburgh out of fear. * * The rulers of his affairs and person 
are looked for to be these : the Earls Morton, Buchan, Argyle gif J 
he will leave the associates, and Montrose in like manner, and the 
Lord Ruthven. It is thought, that &, at the king's desire, shall be 
accept upon him the office of chancellor ; and failing of that, it is in 
question betwixt Argyle and Buchan, of thir twae || whay shall be 
thought meetest by the king and council. 

* I write only unto you nudam et reram historiam, leaving to your 
own judgment to discourse what shall follow ; whilk is able enough 
to do, in respect that all the affairs of this country is better to you 
known nor by writing can be explained. 

" I have had large conference with ar,^I which I cannot at this time 
commit to writing. It appeareth that he is in part offended with 
some proceedings, but yet easily mitigate, gif the great word to you 
known shall be spoken. 

" The Flemish painter is in Stirling, in working of the king's por- 
traiture, but expelled forth of the place at the beginning of thir 
troubles. I am presently travelling to obtain him license to see the 
king's presence thrice in the day, till the end of his work ; quhilk 
will be no sooner perfected nor nine days, after the obtaining of this 
license." * * * 

No. V. 
James' Letter to Mary, p. 66. 

In the State-paper Office, there is an original letter of the young 
king, written at this time to his mother the captive queen. Mary 
had sent him a ring; and the little ape which appears in the postscript, 
whose fidelity he so much commends, was perhaps also a present 
from her. 

The letter of James is as follows : 

* Quhilk, which. f Fine, end. J Gif, if. 

So in the original. The writer had meant to score out be, but forgot. 

|| Thir twae, these two. 

^1 Morton is here meant, I think. What the "great word" was which 
the writer thinks would operate like a talisman on this proud and able peer, 
is not easily discovered. 



" Je vous supplie tres humblement de croire que ce n'a poinct ests 
de ma bonne vollonte que Tostre seqretaire s'en soit retorne sens quil 
m'aye donne vostre lettre, et faict entendre ce que luy avies commende 
de me dire ayent treu beaucoup de regret de ce qui sen est passe, car 
je serois infiniment fache que long crust que je ne vous voulu se porter 
1'honneur et le devoir que je vous doibs, ayant esperense que avecque 
le temps Dieu me fera grace de vous faire prendre de ma bonne et 
affectionne amyte"e, sachent asses qu'apres luy tout 1'honneur qu'ay 
ence monde, je le tiens de vous. 

" Je resceu la bague quil vous a pleu m'envoyer laquelle je garderay 
bien pour 1'honneur de vous. Et vous en envoye une aultre, que je 
vous supplie treshumblement de vouloir resevoir daussy bon cueur 
comme je resceue la vostre. Vous m'aves bien faict paroistre par les 
avertisemens quil vous a pleu me faire par vos dernieres lettres, 
combien vous metes bonne mere. Vous supplient treshumblement 
que sy en endendes davantage de men advertir pour y mettre ordre 
le mieulx quil me sera possible, aquoy je desja commense ainsi quen- 
tendres par le Compte de Lenox, vous supplient de m'y estre aydente 
et de me donner vostre bon conseil et advis lequel je veulx ensuyire 
a celle. De vous rendre plus certaine quen toute chose on il vous 
plaira de me commender vous me trouverez toujours vostre tres obeis- 
sant filz. Vous baisent tres humblement les mains prient Dieu, &c. 
" Vostre obeisant Filz a jamais, 


" Madame, je vous recommende la Fidelite de mon petit singe qui 
ne bouge daupres de moy, par lequel me manderes souvent de noz 

" A la Royne D'Escosse, 
" Ma tres Honores Dame." 

No. VI. 

Randolph's Negotiation in Scotland, and Elizabeth's Attempt to 
sane Morton, p. 78. 

The following letter of Randolph to Walsingham, written imme- 
diately before his leaving that country, after his unsuccessful attempt 

* January 29, 1580-1. 

+ This signature and the postscript are written in the young king's own 


to save Morton, and the abstract from his original account of his 
negotiation upon this subject, contain many interesting particulars, too 
detailed and minute for a general history. 


" May it please your honour. There is so much matter fallen out 
against Morton, as I am credibly informed, by the confession of Whit- 
tingham brother to Archibald Douglas, George Fleck, Andrew Nesbit, 
John Reid, and Saunders Jerdan, that it is thought nothing can now 
save his life. The king's self is so vehement against him, and not 
one councillor that dare open his mouth for him. All men are ap- 
palled ; courage and stomach quite overthrown. His enemies pursue 
these matters hot against him, and his friends able to do him no good. 
Neither can I yet be particularly informed of the matters they have 
against him. I think his days will not be long here ; and yet have 
I wrought for him, and yet do for him, as for mine own self. The 
good course that was intended for meeting of commissioners is now 
smally accounted of; alleging now that nothing less was intended 
than that Morton's case should be committed to treaty. Your honour 
hath now both to consider and advise what is to be done, and that 
with all expedition. * * * 

" * * I have been here so well dealt with, that, besides the libel 
set upon my lodging's door on Wednesday last, I had a shot bestowed 
on the window of my chamber, in the place where I am wont to sit 
and write. My good hap was to be away when it was shot, otherwise 
either Milles or I had been past writing ; for the piece being charged 
with two bullets, struck the wall opposite before me, and behind him, 
where I am accustomed to sit, the table between us. Some show of 
search is made for fashion's sake. The rest I have written to my 
Lord Hunsdon, &c. And so. * Edinburgh, 25th March, 1581." 

T. R." 


" 1 7th January, R. took his journey into Scotland from Berwick. 

" By the way, he received word of Morton's being removed from 
Edinburgh castle to Dumbarton castle, which made him hasten for- 
ward. Next day after his arrival, he had an audience of the king. 
The king promised Morton should be put to his trial. 

* Orig. March 25, 1581. 

)" The original paper, of which this is an abstract, appears to me to o in 
the handwriting of one of Walsingham's clerks. 


"2d Audience, 21st January. The king promised that nothing 
should he done against Morton, without open trial and lawful favour. 
About this time came the bruit of her majesty's forces about the 
Borders; this gave him [Randolph] greater boldness to proceed both 
with the king and against D'Aubigny. 

" 3d Audience, 25th January. R. charged some of the Scottish 
council with breaking the amity, especially Lennox ; and produced 
two intercepted letters written by the B. of Glasgow : Lennox 
warmly defended himself. He gave copies of the letters, and demanded 
a speedy reply. All this time the report of the forces on the Borders 

" 4th Audience, 30th January. The king begged to hear any 
further matter against Lennox. After this the ambassador began to 
deal according to the third part of his instructions; to deal with such 
of the nobility as came unto him ; to represent the hazard to the 
king's person, and the danger to themselves (intending to make out 
a party in this way, fit to join with her majesty's forces.) At first 
he had good hope ; but finding that, day by day, the king grew more 
affectionate to the one and aggravated against the other, they all 
began to fail ; and ' no man seemed willing either to enterprise it 
himself, or join with others in this action.' As these things were thus 
underhand in brewing, the king sent his answer by a clerk of the 

" 1st. that Morton's trial was delayed for want of Archibald Dou- 

" 2d. The matter against Lennox seemed to be forged. 

" After this, the king assembled the General Estates of the realm, 
the matter being weighty, on the 20th February. The interval gave 
R. time to labour privately with the nobility, representing the great- 
ness of Aubigny, his offences against Elizabeth, and the danger to 
themselves. He also, in a private access to the king, laid before him 
his estate at large : the king took all well. 

" All this time the Earl of Lennox made private means to speak 
with Randolph, standing still upon his purgation, which (being so 
commanded) he still resisted, which, notwithstanding grieved him 
[Randolph] much, as he understood a reconciliation was about to be 
wrought between Lennox and Morton, and the king approved of it ; 
and was to have gone to Glasgow the better to contrive the matter ; 
' albeit that purpose took not effect ; for Morton's friends, esteeming 
this course dishonourable, broke it off.' 

' " It was next determined to send Lord Seton from the king to her 

" This staid by Randolph. 


fe 'The bruit of the gathering of English forces on the Borders con- 
tinuing, it was determined to appoint a lieutenant and 12 captains, 
with commissions to levy 120 men. 

" All this time, as matters grew worse, Mr Randolph omitted not 
underhand to procure a party, labouring by all means to make Mor- 
ton's case fearful unto them, and the greatness of Lennox odious ; 
alluring them by promises of Elizabeth's support. Notwithstanding 
all, vel prece vel pretio, though many seemed forward, no man would 
be foremost, no assurance could be had except on Angus, Mar, and 
Glencairn. They said also, there was a want of sufficient proof of 
the matters with which Lennox was charged withal. 

" On the other hand, the friends of Lennox were not idle, and made 
a great impression, urging, that Elizabeth's injustice and severity 
against an innocent man, showed she had more in view than the trial 
of Morton and the dismissal of D'Aubigny. 

" At last, the 20th February, the day of the convention, arrived. 
R. before it had a private conference with the king, and he obtained 
an audience of the whole assembly on the 24th February, when he 
repeated all his message and arguments, showed all that the queen 
had done for the realm and the king, in a speech of almost two hours' 
length, added some further matter against D'Aubigny contained in 
Ross' letter, and so left the Parliament House. D'Aubigny at that 
assembly said nothing. 

" To this assembly came Angus, with his friends, having all the 
time before kept himself aloof, (he had assurance from the king,) 
spending the day within doors, and the night in the fields, for fear of 
his enemies: but as it fortuned, his abode was not long in Edinburgh ; 
for being secretly advised of certain practices intended against him 
by the Earl of Montrose and his own wife, upon the intercepting of 
certain letters passed between them, suddenly, in the night, he de- 
parted the town unto Dalkeith ; where, finding his wife, and after 
speech with her, he in due time prevented the mischief, acquainted 
the king with the matter dealing by Mar, who abode still in court, 
and sent her away home unto her father.* 

" The convention held not long. It was agreed, if war came from 
England, 40,000 L. Scots should be advanced by the barons and 
boroughs. Every day bred a new disorder. The bruit of wars grew 
stronger, men stirring in all parts, the ambassador grew odious 
and his death suspected, and the court in a manner desperate. For 
all this, he forbore not to call for his answer : the council was per 
plexed, and Lennox still stood up to his justification. 

* Her father was Mar. 


" Morton abode still at Dumbarton, straitlier kept than before, 
(although his larger liberty was craved by the ambassador.) Angus 
absented himself from the court ; and being suspected of dealing 
with the ambassador, made Lennox, Montrose, and Argyle, and that 
party, stand on their guard. The party from the first got up by the 
ambassador yet hung in doubt; but Angus was weakened by the late 
accident. Montrose and Rothes became his deadly enemies, and all 
went wrong. 

"8th March. The answer so long in framing was at last given 
by the king. It was stated in it, that all griefs and jealousies should 
be healed by a meeting of commissioners on the frontiers. During 
the time that this answer was aframing, the ministers, who continually 
in their sermons preached against the disorders of the court,to prevent 
the wrath of God, that now seemed to be imminent, published a general 
fast, to be held through the realm from the first Sunday in March to 
the second of the same. This promised meeting of commissioners on 
the Borders might have been to good purpose, had it not been for the 
discovery of the practices between Angus and the ambassador, by 
Angus and Morton's own servants, which caused the ambassador to 
be greatly suspected and disliked. Whereupon a)l persons were 
examined that resorted to him, viz. George Fleck, the Laird of Mains, 
the Laird of Spot, John Reid, and Whittingham,* all servants and 
nearest kinsmen to Morton and Angus. Angus himself was banished 
beyond the Spey. He laboured, notwithstanding, by conference with 
the clans, his friends Glencairn, Boyd, Lochleven, Clanquill, Dryburgh, 
and Drumquhassel, to combine together a sufficient party to join with 
her majesty's forces on the Borders ; and might have wrought good 
effect, had not their own trustiest servants betrayed them, overthrow- 
ing all their purposes, to the great danger of themselves and Mr 
Randolph. The faithless and traitorous dealing of Whittingham was 
most noted, like a deep dessembler and fearful wretch. From the 
beginning, having had the handling and knowledge of all matters of 
importance and secrecy between Angus and the rest, in the end, with- 
out compulsion, by a voluntary confession he discovered their whole 
proceedings, not regarding his nearness of blood, or bond of duty to 
the Earls of Angus and Morton, or the danger he threw the other 
noblemen into. This man's treachery made Angus be put to the horn, 
and the ambassador ill handled. The king upon this intending to 
acquaint Elizabeth with the result of the confessions by an envoy, and 
proceeding with greater severity against Angus, Morton, and Mar. 
Randolph, finding his longer abode useless, and dangerous to himself, 

* Douglas of Whittingham. 


retired to Berwick, there to await her majesty's further orders. 
Within two days a gentleman from Angus and Mar came to him to 
declare their state, and wishing to know when and where they were 
to await his coming. But finding their party not sufficiently strong 
nor trustworthy, it was thought imprudent to hazard the advance of 
her majesty's forces ; and so the messenger was dismissed. Thus 
were they deserted. In the meantime, news came daily of their 
proscription, and seizing their houses, summoning of Stirling castle 
held by Mar, fortifying Leith, at last they heard that Mar was 
reconciled, and Angus left alone. Such being the state of matters, 
it was thought best to discharge her majesty's forces, to remain in 
these terms of divorce, and to call Mr Randolph home." * 

It appears, in the above account of Randolph's negotiation, although 
I have not given the passage in the abstract, that at one time there 
was a proposal for a reconciliation between Lennox and Morton, on 
conditions which the king approved of. The following paper shows 
that these conditions were of the most severe nature, imprisonment 
for life being the first : 

DOUGLAS. 16th May. 

" Angus to move his uncle 

" 1. That he shall be confined for life. 

" 2. That the Earl of Morton and A. D.f shall renounce all actions 
for goods taken from them since 29th December last. 

" 3. That he shall give up Dalkeith to the king for ever. 

" 4. Renounce his right to the castle of Blackness, and sheriffship 
and lands of Linlithgow, to the king. 

" .5. Give up the office of Admiralty and sheriffship of Lothian to 
the king. 

" 6. Cause his base son James prior of Pluscardine, give the priory 
to Lord Seton. 

" 7. Pay the whole charges of the soldiers levied since last Decem- 

* 8. Pay to the king a 100 stone weight of bullion, coined without 
warrant during his regency." 

* Original, May 6. + Archibald Douglas. 


No. VII. 

Letters on the Troubles, Trial, and Death of the Regent Morton, 
p. 69. 

The following interesting letters, relative to the troubles, trial, 
and death of the Regent Morton, are taken from the originals pre- 
served in the Harleian Collection in the British Museum. The volume 
of the Harleian is No. 6999, to which my attention was drawn by the 
Rev. Joseph Stevenson. 

January 7, 1580-1. 

" It may please your good Lordship and your Honour. Yesterday 
Mr Archibald Douglas came out of Tyvedale hither, openly to Ber- 
wick, to seek her majesty's relief to the Earl of Morton in his present 
distress, and her highness' succour to himself." 

He had offered himself for trial, if they would give him a fair trial 
and exempt him from the torture which was threatened, but finding 
his house seized, and his goods and papers seized, he had fled to 
Berwick. * * * * 

" My servant, lately addressed into Scotland to learn the certainty 
of these new accidents, returned yesternight, giving me to understand, 
that on Saturday the last of December, as before hath been signified, 
Captain James Stewart, with the privity and especial commandment 
of the king, and in the council-chamber in the presence of the king 
and that council, accused the Earl of Morton for the murder of the 
king's father; not opening particularly at that time any other offence 
against him, as once was intended, and as is pretended to be done 
hereafter. After large discourse made by the earl for his own ac- 
quittal, he concluded, and with such sharp words against the captain 
his accuser, as, the captain returning to him like and bitter terms, 
they were ready to pass to blows, which was chiefly stayed by the 
Lords Lindsay and Cathcart ; and the earl was removed into the 
chapel to his own servants, and the captain put out at the other 
door to the gardens ; others that waited there in great numbers, 
looked for the beginning of the broil. Albeit many friends and ser- 
vants of the earl, being a great strength, and able to have delivered 
him at his pleasure, persuaded the earl to put himself in safety ; yet 
he refused to tarry with them, and returned to the council. And 


James Stewart, understanding of his presence there, rushed in again, 
whereupon a new scuffle begun, that was likewise stayed by the 
lords aforesaid ; and hereupon all the earl's servants and friends were 
commanded, upon pain of treason, to depart, and whereunto the earl 
commanded them to obey. 

" The Earl of Argyle Lord Chancellor, (the chief instrument against 
Morton,) asked the Earl of Angus, then sitting in council with them, 
what should be done ; but Angus alleging that the matter did so 
narrowly touch and concern him, as he would not vote therein. Like- 
wise the Earl of Lennox refused to vote. At length the Earl of 
Eglinton persuaded that the king's advocate and council might be 
conferred withal ; which advocate being ready, affirmed, that upon 
such accusations of treasons, the party accused ought to be committed 
to sure custody, and afterwards tried as to the laws and case should 
appertain. Whereupon the Earl of Morton was committed to a 
chamber in Holyrood-house, and there kept until the next Monday, on 
which he was conveyed to the castle of Edinburgh, where he remain- 
eth. The town of Edinburgh, and many others, offered liberally for 
his delivery ; nevertheless, he always refused to be delivered in any 
sort, other than by the order of the laws. Mr John Craig, in his 
sermon on the Sunday following, did, upon the leading of his text, 
inveigh greatly against false accusations. Whereupon Captain James 
Stewart, as it is informed for truth, threatened him with his dagger 
drawen, charging him to forbear to touch him, or otherwise he should 
receive his reward. * * The Lord Boyd, accused also for the 
murder of the king's father, is summoned to appear, and not yet 

" It is said Sir James Balfour had come out of France. * * * 
It is now thought as dangerous in Scotland to confer with an English- 
man, as to rub on the infected with the plague. * * * 



"Edinburgh, 16th March, 1580-1. 

The first portion of the letter is unimportant. He then proceeds 
as follows : 

" Angus' intent I know not. Yesterday it was determined in 
council he should be commanded to ward beyond the river of Spey. 
Carmichael, and the Prior, and Mains, are commanded not to come 
at Angus, on pain of forfeiture of their goods, ipso facto; and means 

* Harleian, 6999. 


is made to apprehend them, hut yet none of them are taken. The 
Laird of Whittingham is boasted to wear the boots, but I hear it 
will not be so. Spot hath had a sight of them, as I hear. * * All 
the court is set on mischief. Captain Stewart taketh upon him as a 
prince, and no man so forward as he. I spake, on Tuesday, long 
with the king. There passed nothing on his part from him, but very 
good speeches of her majesty, which I exhorted him to show forth in 
actions and in deed. He promiseth much if the meeting of the com- 
missioners be. I charged more his council than himself of the un- 
kindness lately showed unto the Q,. my mistress, that no one point 
of her requests could be yielded, specially for the Earl of Morton, 
that was, [not] so much as his liberty upon sufficient caution, until 
the day were appointed for his trial, might be granted. Whereat he 
fell again in speech of Mr Archibald Douglas ; and I answered him 
with partial dealings, and favour showed to Sir James Balfour. I 
told him in what house he lieth in, between the church and castle, 
upon the right hand. I told who had spoken with him, Lennox, 
Seton, and others ; and that means would be made shortly to bring 
him into his own presence. I spake again of the band in the green 
box, containing the names of all the chief persons consenting to the 
king's murder, which Sir James either hath, or can tell of. I told 
him that I heard daily of new men apprehended, examined, and 
boasted with the boots, to find matter against the Earl of Morton ; 
and he that was privy to the murder, and in whose house the king 
was killed, and was therefore condemned by parliament, was suffered 
to live unpunished and untouched, in his chief and principal town." 
* * Randolph then states that he asked leave to depart from Scot- 
land, adding, that after another farewell interview with the king, he 
hoped " it would be the last that he ever should have to do with that 
king and council." " I have again this day spoken with Angus' 
trusty friend, who gave me some notes touching the bands, and is 
gone unto him. I have given therein my advice. What will be 
farther done I know not ; but sure I am Angus will not obey the 
charge for putting himself in ward. * * * George Fleck had 
yesternight the boots, and is said to have confessed that the Earl of 
Morton was privy to the poisoning of the Earl of Athole, whereon 
they have sent for the Earl of Morton's chamberlain, Sandy Jerdan, 

from Dumbarton. They have also in hand Sandy , George 

Fleck's servant, whom they suppose to know many of Morton's 
secrets, &c. Your L., 




"March 20, 1580-1. 

" Whatsoever was intended by my Lord Angus is discovered by 
tbe voluntary confession of the Laird of Whittingham, that hath left 
nothing unspoken that he knew against any man, and much more 
than any man would have done upon so small occasion at all to say 
anything, being neither offered the boots, nor other kind of torment. 
The ministers have seen it, and in their sermons give God great 
thanks therefor., 

" The enterprise should have been (as they say) to have taken the 
house where the king lieth, by forged keys, and intelligence by some 
within ; to have slain the Earl of Lennox, Montrose, and Argyle ; and 
to have possessed themselves of the king to have sent him into Eng- 
land. Albeit, these things have so small appearance of truth to have 
been intended indeed, as, for mine own part, I mean to suspend my 
judgment thereof till further trial be had." " He hath also confessed 
that he was here, with the Earl of Angus, at my lodging, and what 
passed between us. * * I think it will fall out that George Fleck 
hath played as honest a part against his master, as Whittingham 
hath done for the Earl of Angus, for he hath been so sore booted. 
But his legs serve him well enough to walk up and down, which I 
know to be true. 

" Poor Sandy Jerdan came yesterday to this town, from Dumbar- 
ton, and is lodged near to the court : one on whom the burden is laid 
to have ministered the bread and drink that poisoned Athole. So 
accused by Affleck. What is done to him I know not. 

" The suspicion of this poisoning of the Earl of Athole is thought 
to be great, for that it is said John Provend bought it. And he is 
fled thereupon, no man knowing where he is. * * * Robert 
Semple, for the making of a ballad, is taken and put in prison. 
Robert Lekprevik, for the printing thereof, is also fled, but not 
found. * * * * 



" Pleasit your Honour to be advertised, that this day a man of 
mine, whom I sent into Scotland about certain business, is returned 
unto me with certain news, whereof I think my Lord of Hunsdon 

* Original, June 4, 1581, Alnwick. 


hath already written unto you ; but, notwithstanding, I thought I 
could do no less but advertise your honour thereof. That is, of the 
death of the Earl of Morton, who was convicted on Thursday, and 
adjudged to be hanged, drawn, and quartered on Friday. And there 
was twenty-two articles put against him ; but there was none that 
hurt him but the murder of the king, which was laid unto him by 
four or five sundry witnesses. The first is the Lord Bothwell's 
testament. The second, Mr Archibald Douglas, when he was his 
man. Mr Archibald Douglas' man is the accuser of him, that bare a 
barrel of powder to the blowing up of the king into the air; and that, 
for haste to come away, the said Mr Archibald Douglas left one of 
his pantafles at the house end. And, moreover, he was convicted for 
the speaking with the Lord Bothwell after his banishment in Eng- 
land before the king's murder, and then the consenting to the murdering 
of the king, and the binding his band of manrent to the said Lord 
Bothwell to defend him, and no person to be excepted. And the 
queen's confession, when she was taken at Carberrie Hill : she said 
he was the principal man that was the deed doer and the drawer of 
that purpose. Thus, having none other news worthy of advertisement 
to send unto your honour at this time, I humbly take my leave, at 
my house, nigh Alnwick, this 4th June, 1581. 


"P.S. The man that brought me these news came from Edin- 
burgh on Friday last, at two of the clock, and then the said Earl of 
Morton was standing on the scaffold, and it is thought the accusa- 
tions that were laid against him were very slender, and that he died 
very stoutly." 

No. VIII. 
Scottish Preaching in 1582. John Durie's Sermon, p. S8. 

The sermon of Mr John Durie, alluded to in the text, is parti- 
cularly described in the following extract from a letter of Sir Henry 
Woddrington to Sir Francis Walsingham. It is preserved in the 
British Museum, Caligula, C. vii. fol. 7, and dated 26th May, 1582. 


" Upon Wednesday, being the 23d inst., Mr John Durie preached 
in the Cathedral Church of Edinburgh, where divers noblemen were 
present, the effect thereof tending to the reproof of the Bishop of 


Glasgow, as plainly terming him an apostate and mansworn traitor 
to God and his Church. And that even as the Scribes and Pharisees 
could find none so meet to betray Christ as one of his own school and 
disciples, even so this duke, with the rest of the faction, cannot find 
so meet an instrument to subvert the religion planted in Scotland as 
one of their own number, one of their own brethren, and one nourished 
among their own bowels, who likewise touched the virtuous bringing 
up of the king, fearing now they have some device to withdraw him 
from the true fear of God, and to follow the devices and inventions of 
men, affirming that he was moved to think so, for that he saw all that 
were manifestly known to be enemies to the Church and religion to be 
nearest unto his person, and others that were favourers and maintainers 
thereof put off the court, or to have small countenance there showed 
them. And likewise, he touched the present sent by the Duke of 
Guise to the king in these manner of speeches : ' I pray you what 
should move Guise, that bloody persecutor and enemy unto all truth, 
that pillar of the pope, to send this present by one of his trustiest ser- 
vants unto our king ? Not for any love : no, no, his pretence is known. 
And I beseech the Lord the Church of Scotland feel it not oversoon. 
The king's majesty was persuaded not to receive it ; for why ? 
What amity or friendship can we look for at his hands, who hath been 
the bloodiest persecutor of the professors of the truth in all France ? 
Neither was there ever any notable murder or havoc of God's people 
at any time in all France but he was at it in person ; and yet for all 
this, the duke and Arran will needs have our king to take a present 
from him. If God did threaten the captivity and spoil of Jerusalem 
because that their king, Hezekiah, did receive a letter and present 
from the King of Babylon, shall we think to be free committing the 
like, or rather worse ? And because you, my lords, which both do see 
me, and even at this present hears me, I say, because you shall 
not be hereafter excusable, I tell it you with tears. I feel such 
confusion to be like to ensue that I fear me will be the subversion 
and ruin of the preaching of God's Evangile here in the Church of 
Scotland. I am the more plain with you, because I know there is 
some of you in the same action with the rest. I know I shall be 
called to an account for these words here spoken ; but let them do 
with this carcase of mine what they will, for I know my soul is in the 
hands of the Lord, and, therefore, I will speak, and that to your 
condemnation, unless you speedily return.' And then, in the prayers 
made, he prayed unto the Lord, either to convert or confound the 
duke. The sermon was very long, godly, and plain, to the great 
comfort and rejoice of the most number that heard it or do hear 
of it." * * * 


No. IX. 

Sir Robert Bowes to Walsingham, written immediately previous to the 
Raid of Ruthten. 15th August, 1532. P. 107. 

The minute and accurate information of Bowes communicated to 
Walsingham and the faction of the Protestant lords, which led to the 
enterprise termed the Raid of Ruthven, is proved by the following 
extract from a letter of Sir Robert Bowes to Walsingham, dated 
Durham, 15th August, 1582 : 


" * * * I am informed the duke intendeth to persuade the king's 
majesty to commit to ward the Earls of Glencairn and Mar, the Lord 
Lindsay and Boyd, and sundry others best affected in religion, and loving 
the amity aforesaid ; and also afterwards to hasten the death of the 
principals of them, whom I hear that he will not pursue for the death 
of David the Italian, (as from France ye have been advertised,) but 
rather to charge them with late matter and conspiracy intended, and 
to have been put in execution by them and their complices in the last 
month of July against the king and himself. And in case the infor- 
mation given me be true, then there is a secret intention and practice 
in device, that after the execution of such principal persons in Scot- 
land as would be most ready to defend religion, and the apprehension 
and safe custody of others known to be chiefly devoted that way, the 
alteration of that state in Scotland should be attempted ; and the 
matter to reach into England so far, and with such speed as the 
[confederates] who practice could perform. The truth and secret 
herein may be best learned in France, I think, from whence the 
device and direction for the execution is said to come. The variance 
between the duke and the Earl of Gowrie, the progress of the mat- 
ter against the new Bishop of Glasgow, both entreated in Edinburgh, 
the labour of the duke to win nobles and gentlemen to enter into 
friendship and band with him, the purpose of some persons in Scot- 
land to proceed in the provision of remedy against the dangerous 
course presently holden there, with all other intelligence and oc- 
currents in that state and realm * * are so sufficiently signified to 
you, as I need not trouble you with needless repetition." * * 

The conspiracy with which Lennox meant to charge the Protestant 
party alluded to in the above letter of Bowes, must be the same as 


that mentioned by Sir Henry Woddrington in a letter addressed (as 
I think) to Walsingham some time before this, dated 19th July, U82. 
After stating that the king was with the duke at St Johnston, he ob- 
served, that " the ministers had accused the duke of supporting the 
Bishop of Glasgow, who was excommunicated." He then adds, 
" The duke is about to charge them with the late conspiracy and 
practice, wherein they were about to have procured him to hare been 
shot and slain." * * 

No. X. 
Archibald Douglas to Randolph. pp. 116, 117. 

It is stated in the text, that, on the successful issue of the Raid of 
Ruthven, the notorious Archibald Douglas wrote from London an 
exulting letter to his old friend, Randolph. The original is in the 
State-paper Office, endorsed by Randolph himself " Mr Nemo." It 
is spirited and characteristic : 

ARCHIBALD DOUGLAS TO RANDOLPH. 12th September, 1582, London. 

" SIR, from Scotland, by letters, I am advertised, that the duke 
being in Edinburgh with some few lords, he made choice of Herries 
and Newbottle to send the king, and lords with his majesty, some offers, 
which were all rejected. 

" The said lords returned to Edinburgh accompanied with Cessford 
and Coldingknows, who gave the duke a charge to render the castle 
of Dumbarton to the Earl of Mar, in name of the king ; to avoid the 
town of Edinburgh, and retire himself to Dalkeith or Aberdour, in 
private manner, there to await the king's farther pleasure. The duke 
seeming to obey the charge, made him as he would ride to Dalkeith ; 
but in the midway he turned, and is fled to Dumbarton, where, I 
think, he shall not make great cheer, if he render not that castle 

" The king will hold his convention at Edinburgh upon the 15th 
day hereof : to the which the duke is charged to compear ; but I 
think he shall not obey. When law has given the stroke against 
him I believe ye shall hear news of his escaping. Your special good 
friend, the Earl of Arran, for the singular and constant affection he 
bears to the duke, offers to accuse him of high treason, if they will 
Bpare his life to serve and assist the party that is with the king. 
Pity it were that he should not be well used in respect of his rare 


qualities natural, beautified with his virtuous education in moral 
philosophy : wherein he has so well profited, that his behaviour is 
marvellous, specially in treating of ambassadors ; which makes me to 
believe that your worship, as one honoured with that dignity, will 
interpone some special request in his favours. If ye be disposed so 
to do, I will take the pains to be your messenger, for the safe con- 
veying thereof to her majesty's ministers in Scotland. 

" Your' physic, ministered at your late being in that realm, begins 
now to be of so mighty operation, that banished men are like to 
have place to seek trial of their innocency, or else, I think, very 
shortly it shall be hard to discern the subject from the traitor. 
From such a market ye may think that I shall not be long absent. 
I am to take my journey towards that country shortly. If your 
sorel horse's price be so low as a poor banished man's money may 
amount unto it, I pray you send him hither, and I will pay what 
price ye set upon him, so it be reasonable. And so, &c. 
" London, this 12th of September. 


No. XI. 

The Duke of Lennox's last Letter to the King of Scots, p. 125. 

This letter is preserved in the State-paper Office, in a copy of the 
time, endorsed by Burghley, " From the Duke of Lennox to the 
Scottish King from Dumbarton, 16th December, 1582." It is as 
follows : 

" Sire, Je me rescens le plus malheureux homme du monde, de 
voir la mauvaise opinion que vostre majeste a prise de moy, et de 
ce que la persuasion de ceux, qui sont aupres de vous maintenant^ 
vous ont fait croire, que j'avois aultre intention que de vous rendre 
1'obeissance et la fidelite que je vous doibs. Croyez je vous supplie 
tres humblement, que ces motz d'inconstance et desloyaulte que me 
mandes dans vostre lettre qu'ay laisse' gaigner a mes ennemis sur 
moy, m'ont raporte une grande crevecoeur. Car je n'eusse jamais 
pense que vostre majeste m'eust voulu ecrire telz mots, et je me prie 
a Dieu que tous ceulx qui vous serve, et se disent vos fideles servi- 
teurs,vous serve avec aultant d'afiection et de fidelite comme jay le 
fait, pendant que jay eu ceste honneur d'estre a vostre service. 

" Sire, Je ne crains nullement deestre accuse" d'inconstance et de 
desloyaulte. C'est chose jamais remarque' en moy, mais si Ton me 
veult accuser d'avoir faict une tasche a mou honneur pour vous obeir, 


il faut bien que je 1'avoue, car il est tres veritable, et me senible que 
1'engagement de mon dicte honneur vous doibt assez rendre le preuve 
de ma diet obeissance et fidelite. 

" Ce m'est ung piteux reconfort a mon partement, que apres avoir 
receu le dur traictment que j'ay receu, et endure les paines, et tor- 
mens et ennuis ; qu'ay endure depuis trois ans, pour m'estre affec- 
tionne a vostre service, en vous servent fidelement (comme jay faict) 
que de voir vostre majeste indigne centre moy, pour seulement avoir 
evite le danger qui me pouvoit avenir, et lequelle peutestre avoit este 
conclu sans vostre sceu, sous ombre que les Comptes d' Angus et de 
Mar n'avoient pas signe 1'asseurance, dont la procuration de diet 
Mar peut donner asses tesmoignage. Et pense que si tout chose soit 
bien recherechee' que [vous] trouverez que comme il estoit entre Fal- 
kirk et Callender, qu'il y en a eu de sa troupe, que luy donnera con- 
eeil de m'enfermer au diet Callender, et d'envoyer querir a le diet 
Angous, ce qu'ayant entendu, voyant qu'il n'y avoit pas ung des 
seigneurs n'y gentilhommes aryves a Lythgou, le Mardy a six heures 
de soir, excepte Laird de Wachton et les serviteurs et amis de Mons r . 
de Leviston, pour la seurte de ma vie, laquelle je scay estre recherchee 
par eulx, je me suis seulement retire en ce lieu, en attendant que 
vostre majeste donnast ordre que je puisse passer seurement, et ce 
qui vous avoit demande* de passer par Carleill, estoit parce que ce 
chemin la m'estoit beaucoup plus seur que celui de Barwick. Mais 
puis que c'est vostre volonte que je prenne ce chemin la je vous obeiray, 
et suyvant vostre commandement je partiray Mardy de ce lieu et m'en 
iray coucher a Glasgow, le Mecredy a Callender, en Jeudy a Dalkeith, 
et Vendredy a Dunbar, et si mes hardes que je suis constraint de faire 
faire a Lislebourg, me soyent apportees le jour la, je ne faudray 
d'estre le lendemain a Barwick, et on elles me pourront estre appor- 
tees. Je vous supplie tres humblement, de me permettre de les at- 
tendre au diet Dunbar, et de me vouloir faire envoyer a Dalkeith 
tout ce que m'avez promis, par le diet Maistre George Young, et 
aussi de mander ung gentilhomme de me venir rencontrer que le diet 
Maistre George mande a vostre majeste, lequel vous yra trouver puia 

qu'il m'a veu party de a fin de vous asseurer de 1'obeissance 

que je vous vouley rendre. Priant Dieu, sire, qu'il vous ayt en sa 
sauve garde. De Dumbarton, 16 de Deceinbre, 1582. 
" De vostre majeste, 

" Le tres humble et fidele serviteur, 



No. XII. 

The King's Recovery of his Liberty in 1583, p. 146. 

In the month of May, 1583, when James was pondering on the 
plot for the recovery of his liberty, and his escape from the thraldom 
in which he was kept by the Ruthven lords, there occurs a remark- 
able letter written by Fowler to Walsingham, which shows that the 
young king had first disclosed his secret intentions to the Master of 
Glammis. This is strange enough ; for Glammis, as we have seen, 
(supra, p. 109,) was one of the leaders of the "Raid of Ruthven." 
The letter is as follows. It is preserved in British Museum, Caligula, 
C. vii. fol. 148 : 


"May, 1583. 

" MY LORD, After my most humble commendations and service, 
I do send your honour such proofs of my fidelity, that your honour 
may thereby well judge of my true meaning. The king hath entered 
in conference with the Master of Glammis after this sort : ' I intend 
to go in progress, and first to Falkland, and thereafter to the Glammis. 
What think you, Master, shall I be welcome ? ' The other answered 
that his welcome should be better than his majesty's entertainment ; 
because, saith he, ' I am less able now than I was these five years 
before : ' meaning of his loss and fine of xx. thousand pounds, which 
he paid, by the Duke of Lennox's means, for the killing of the Earl 
of Crawford's man. The king answered, ' Master, are you not yet 
contented and sufficiently revenged ? If you had not turned that 
night to Ruthven, these things, which were then devised, would never 
have taken effect. Well, Master, I will forgive you ; and if you will 
conform yourself now to my request, your losses shall be faithfully 
repaired you hereafter.' ' Sir,' said he, ' what is your will ? Com- 
mand me in anything : your majesty shall be obeyed, yea, were it 
in the killing of the best that are about your majesty.' The king 
answered, ' Master, I mean not so : but because I think it stands not 
with my honour to be guided by other men's will, I would things were 
changed, which you only may perform, if you follow my device. 
None mistrusteth you ; and, therefore, I will come to the Glammis, 
where you may have such power for that effect, that I will remain 


your prisoner, so that you debar these from me who hath me at their 
devotion.' To conclude, the other hath agreed thereto, and shall 
conclude therein, if good counsel prevent it not.* * * 

" As these things must come to light, so would I they so should 
be used, as the chief intelligence should be known not to have corned 
from hence ; otherwise I shall be suspected, and incur the king's 
hatred and the Master of Glammis' displeasure." * * * 

No. XIII. 

Walsingham's Embassy to the Scottish Court, in September 1583, 
p. 155. 

The following letter, from the State-paper Office, relates to this 
' interesting embassy : 


Edinburgh, 6th September, 1583. 

" My very good Lord Since I last wrote unto your lordship I 
have received three sundry letters from you, by the which I find your 
lordship hath obtained so much leisure as to see your house at Burgh- 
ley; where I could have been content, having finished here, to her 
majesty's contentment the charge committed to me, to have met your 
lordship. I mean, with the leave of God, according to my promise 
made to Sir Thomas Cecil, to see him there, and to survey such 
faults as have been committed in your buildings by reason of your 
lordship's absence ; and yet am I in hope to come time enough in my 
return to see him at Snape ; for here I see little hope to do any good, 
so resolutely and violently are they carried into a course altogether 
contrary to the amity of this crown, which by the better sort is greatly 
misliked of : and it is thought that they which have the whole 
managing of the aifairs cannot long stand, so hateful do they grow 
generally to all estates in this realm. 

" Though I press my audience very earnestly, yet can they not 
resolve neither of the time nor place. They are now, as I learn, 
busily occupied how they may excuse their breaches of promises and 
other attempts against her majesty, but most especially how they 
may excuse the late outrage committed in the Middle Marches, by 
yielding fair words and promises for satisfaction. This kind of pro- 
ceeding cannot but render them hateful that now manage the affairs ; 
for I find the Borderers, the loose men only excepted, generally in- 


clined to continue good peace with England. The Burrows, also, 
who live by traffick, and are grown to be wealthy by the long-con- 
tinued peace between the two realms, do not willingly hear of any 
breach. The ministers, who foresee how greatly the common cause 
should be shaken if discord between the two nations should break 
out, will not omit to do their best endeavours to prevent the same. 
I will not fail, at my access, to press both speedy redress and full 
satisfaction, as well of that outrage as of divers others committed this 
last month. * * It shall be necessary for her majesty, in these 
doubtful times, considering how they stand affected that have now 
the helm in hand here, to place some horsemen and footmen upon 
the Borders for a season, which may serve well for some other pur- 
pose, as your lordship shall hereafter understand. * * * At 
Edinburgh, the 6th September, 1583. 

" Your Lordship's, &c., 


"After I had written my letter, Mr James Melvil came unto me 
from the king to excuse the delay of my audience, without bringing 
any certain knowledge when the same should be granted, which 
moved me to deal roundly with him." * * 

No. XIV. 

Historical Remarks on the Queen of Scots' supposed Accession to 
Babington's Conspiracy. 

That Mary was a party to this plot, so far as it involved a project for 
her escape, may be assumed as certain; indeed, she appears to have ad- 
mitted it, by implication at least, on her trial. But the question remains, 
and it is one deeply affecting Elizabeth and her ministers was she cog- 
nizant of the resolution to assassinate the English queen ? did she 
permit, or encourage this atrocious design 1 After a careful research 
into the history of this conspiracy, and an anxious desire to procure 
and weigh every document connected with it, I believe Mary's solemn 
assertion to be true, that she neither gave any encouragement to 
the plot, nor was aware of its existence. Hume, who pronounces 
Mary guilty, has written on this conspiracy with all his inimitable 
clearness and plausibility ; but unfortunately with much of his usual 
carelessness as to facts and dates, which enter deeply into the ques- 
tion, and which a little trouble might have enabled him to discover 
and to rectify. Dr Lingard, in an acute note added to the last edition 


of his History,* has supported Mary's innocence ; and Dr Rohertson, 
without interrupting his narrative by critical remarks, has assumed 
it. Referring the reader to the works of these eminent men, I shall 
now briefly give some additional facts and observations, from which 
there arises the strongest presumption, if not absolute proof, of the 
innocence of the Queen of Scots. 

First. It is evident, from the history of this conspiracy as given 
in the text, that Phelipps the decipherer had much, almost every- 
thing in his power as to the proof of Mary's guilt or innocence. He 
was admitted by Walsingham into all " the secrets of the cause," (to 
use Paulet's phrase ;) he enjoyed the full confidence of this minister 
and his royal mistress. It does not appear that any other person, 
about Walsingham or the Queen of England could decipher. There 
are letters in the State-paper Office, and in the British Museum, 
which prove that whenever any intercepted letters in cipher fell into 
the hands of Elizabeth or Secretary Walsingham, they were forth- 
with sent to Phelipps " to be made English ;"-f- and it is certain that 
he did decipher, and retain in his hands for ten days, the letter in 
cipher from Mary to Babington, upon a copy of which that princess 
was convicted. It is evident from all this, that Phelipps had the 
power and the opportunity to alter the letters of Babington or of 
Mary which were sent him to be deciphered ; and owing to the 
ignorance of his employers in this intricate science, he might have 
done so without much, or almost any fear of discovery. But it may 
be asked, Could he be so base as to garble these letters? or was Wal- 
singham so lost to all sense of justice and honour as to have permit- 
ted it? 

To this I reply, that there is preserved in the State-paper Office a 

* Note M. vol. viii. History of England, p. 434. 

t MS. Letter, Caligula, C. ix. fol. 455. Davison to Phelipps, Dec. 11. 


" Mr Phelipps. Her majesty delivered me the ticket here enclosed for 
your exercise, because she thinketh you now be idle. When you have made 
English thereof, I doubt not but you will return it back to her highness : 
and so, in the meantime, I commit you to God. At the court the llth 
December " 

There is another letter of Walsingham in Caligula, C. ix. fol. 455, writ- 
ten, I think, evidently to Phelipps, though the address does not appear: 

" I send you herewith enclosed another letter, written from the King c' 
Spain unto some noblemen within this realm, which was delivered unto mi 
by her majesty, together with the other letter of Don Bernardino remaining 1 
in your hands, which, if it may be deciphered, will, I hope, lay open the 
treachery that reigneth here amongst us. Her majesty hath promised to 
double your pension, and to be otherwise good unto you. And so I commit 
you to God. The 30th Nov., 1585. *F. WALSINGHAM." 


letter or petition of Phelipps to the Earl of Salisbury, an extract 
from which I give below, which proves, that in one noted instance he 
had availed himself of his talents and opportunity to a base and un- 
scrupulous extent. In this case he did not add to or alter any letter 
placed in his hands; but he did much more. He composed, or created, 
an entirely imaginary correspondence. He wrote letters under the 
name of an imaginary person to a real person, who enjoyed the con- 
fidence of the Spanish government, and who, by the forgery of these 
letters, was betrayed into a correspondence with Phelipps, who made 
his own uses of his base contrivance. All this he acknowledges in a 
letter to the Earl of Salisbury, which is an undoubted original, writ- 
ten in his own hand, * pleading in extenuation of the forgery, that it 
was done for the benefit of the state. 

Such being the unscrupulous character of this person, is it any 
overstrained supposition, that such a man would have felt little hesi- 
tation in altering the letters of the Queen of Scots, to suit the purposes 
of her enemies? 

But here it is asked, (and the argument is insisted on by Hume,) 

* State-paper Office, April 29, 1606. Thomas Phelipps, original, in his 
own hand, dated (in pencil) April 29, 1606: 

" Phelipps humbly prayeth, that the king's majesty may be moved to 
descend into a gracious consideration of his case, and he doubteth not but 
his majesty shall find cause to conceive much better of his proceedings than 
it seemeth he doth. 

" The truth is, that there never was any real or direct correspondence hela 
with Owen. But, by a mere stratagem and sleight in the late queen's time, 
that State upon an occasion, was entertained in an opinion of an intelligence 
with an imaginary person on this side, such as was none in rerum naturd, 
which Owen, abused, did manage on that side, as Phelipps for the queen's 
service did on this. The manner whereof and the means were particularly 
declared to my Lord of Salisbury by Ph. when he was first called in question, 
who had himself made some use of it in the queen's time ; and you, Mr 
Lieutenant can, best of any man, remember how the queen and my Lord of 
Essex served themselves of it. 

" In the carriage of this business, the imaginary correspondent being 
pressed to find somebody that should set afoot certain overtures, touching 
peace and the jewels of the house of Burgundy, and such like, Phelipps 
was nominated and used for those purposes, to the contentment of both sides, 
as it fell out at sundry times, without that it was known, or so much as 
suspected, that Phelipps was the man that indeed managed all matters. 

" With the queen's life this course was supposed to have been quite de- 
termined ; but shortly after, upon the hope of amity, which was growing 
between this realm and Spain, an address was newly made to the imaginary 
correspondent in Maucididor's name, to have Phelipps moved to concur with 
those that should be set a-work both for peace and league of firm amity 
between the princes, with large offers, and promises of honourable gratifica- 
tion to all such as could do any good therein. 

" Which being a thing in itself not unlawful, and Phelipps seeing oppor- 
tunity offered him to make himself thereby of use, he willingly embraced." 


would a man of such high honour and probity as Walsingham 
have been guilty of so base a proceeding ? As to this alleged probity 
and honour, Hume, it is evident, trusted to the common eulogies 
which, in popular works, have been bestowed on Elizabethan states- 
men. Happily, however, the correspondence of Elizabeth's ministers 
remains to test this praise ; and Walsingham has left many letters 
which prove, incontestably, that, in working out any object which he 
was persuaded was for the good of the state, he was quite as crafty 
and unscrupulous as his brethren. In those dark times, the scale of 
moral duty and honour was miserably low : justice, truth, religion, 
were names common in men's mouths, but slightly regarded in their 
actual dealings. To open letters, to rob an ambassador's desk, to 
corrupt his servants, to forge his signature, were all allowable methods 
of furthering the business of the state. The reader is already well 
aware of the little value placed on human life, of the frequency of 
private assassination, and the encouragement given to it by the 
highest statesmen of the age. To argue on the honour and probity 
of such men as we should be entitled to do had they lived in our 
own times, (lax as this age may be in some things) must lead to 
error. Nay, Hume himself was aware of, and states one instance in 
which Walsingham acted with a total disregard of all high principle. 
This historian tells us, that the English secretary, when he had in- 
tercepted and opened Mary's letters to Babington, added to them a 
postscript in the same cipher, in which she desired him to inform her 
of the names of the conspirators ; hoping thus to elicit from Babing- 
ton the whole secrets of the plot. Was it possible that any man of 
common probity could have so acted ? and what are we to think of 
his letter quoted in the text, in which, in obedience to the English 
queen's commands, he solicited Paulet to put Mary privately to 
death? Could a man of the slightest probity have written that 
letter ? 

It appears, then, that Phelipps and Walsingham were persons 
capable of such a course as garbling and altering Mary's letters: 
it is evident that Phelipps had the power and the talent to do so ; 
and we have seen, from the history of the conspiracy given in the 
text, that both were anxious to convict her and bring her to punish- 
ment. But it may be said, All this is presumption : where is the 
proof that they added anything to these letters ? In answer to this 
may be first quoted, the forged postscript endorsed in Phelipps' 
handwriting, "Postscript of the Scottish Queen's letter to Babington,"* 
inquiring the names of the six gentlemen. Hume, following Cam- 

* Supra, p. 287. 


den,* asserts that Walsingham added a postscript of this import to 
one of Mary's letters to Babington. It is singular, however, that it 
should not have struck this historian, that no such postscript appeared 
in any of Mary's alleged letters produced at the trial ; and had this 
charge, which involves so grave a delinquency in Walsingham, rested 
on the single assertion of Camden, one would certainly have hesitated 
to believe it. But the case is altered by the discovery, (mentioned 
in the text, p. 287,) of this postscript in cipher, endorsed by Phelipps, 
and preserved in the State-paper Office. Now, such a postscript was 
either what it purports to be an original of Mary's, or a true copy 
of such an original, or a forgery. If it we're an original of Mary's, 
or a true copy of such, why, it may be asked, was in not produced 
against her at the trial? It connected her with the six conspirators, 
who were Babington's associates ; and in this light would have been 
decided evidence against her. But no use was made of it at the 
trial ; and it may be conjectured, from this suppression, that, after 
having exercised his skill in fabricating it, Phelipps changed his 
scheme for the conviction of the Scottish queen, and introduced the 
sentences connecting her with the six gentlemen who were to assas- 
sinate the English queen into the body of the letters, rather than in 
a postscript at the end. 

In the next place, although there is no direct evidence by which 
we can detect Phelipps or Walsingham in the act of garbling and 
altering Mary's letters, yet strong presumptive evidence is furnished 
by the circumstances of the trial itself ; and this even after making 
allowance for the partiality and disregard of justice which appears iu 
all the judicial proceedings of those times. 

It is evident that Mary could only be proved guilty by the produc- 
tion of her own letters ; by the production of the minutes, or rough 
drafts of these in her own hand ; by the evidence of her secretaries, 
Nau and Curie, who wrote the letters ; or by the evidence of Phelipps, 
who deciphered them. The limits to which I must confine these 
remarks will not permit me to go into detail ; but it may be observed, 
that on each of these modes of proof, the evidence against the Scottish 
queen, either totally fails, or is defective. 

1. No original of Babington's long letter to her, or of her answer 
to Babington, was produced. Mary anxiously demanded the pro- 
duction of both, and positively asserted that she had never written 
the letter of which they produced a copy ; but she demanded it in 
vain, and she was convicted on the evidence of this avowed copy. 

2. It was stated by Nau, her secretary, that the greater part of her 

* Hume, p. 453. Edition 1832. In one volume. Camden in Kennet, 
vol. ii. p. 517. 


letter to Babington was copied by him from a minute in Mary's own 
hand, written in French, which, he stated, would be found amongst 
her papers,* and which, if we are to believe Nau's declaration, 
Elizabeth and her ministers had really in their hands, and could have 
produced if they pleased.f Now, these French minutes written in 
Mary's hand, if they had contained the guilty passages connecting 
her with the plot against Elizabeth's life, would undoubtedly have 
proved the case against her. Why then were they not produced ? 
It seems plain, that if found at all, of which there is reason to doubt,J 
they did not contain any mention of the plot against Elizabeth's life. 
Here, again, the proof against the Scottish queen totally fails. 

3. As to Nau and Curie, the manner of dealing with thpse two 
secretaries of Mary betrays, in a striking way, the weakness of the 
proof against her. She anxiously requested to be allowed to examine 
them ; and engaged, if this were permitted, to prove by their testimony, 
that she was innocent. This was denied : she was shown some de- 
positions to which they had attached their signatures ; and other 
declarations were produced wholly written by them, the contents of 
which, it was argued, proved her guilty of sending the long letter to 
Babington. Mary's reply to these depositions has been already stated 
in the text ; but it is here material to attend to an observation of Dr 
Lingard, who contends, and apparently with perfect justice that, 
judging from the only papers which now remain, it does not appear 
that Nau or Curie were ever shown the original of Mary's letter in 
cipher to Babington, or the true deciphered copy of it ; but merely 
an abstract of the principal points in it, so made up as to render it 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, September 7, 1586. 

" Her majesty's pleasure is, you should presently repair hither ; for that, 
upon Nau's confession, it should appear we have not performed the search 
sufficiently ; for he doth assure we shall find, amongst the minutes which 
were in Pasquier's chests, the copies of the letters wanting, both in French 
and English." * * * 

f Orig. State-paper Office, Nan's first answer, September 3, 1586'. " II 
luy pleust me bailler une minute de lettre escripte de sa main pour la polir 
et mettre au net, ainsi qu'il apparoit a vos Honneurs avoir este faict ayant 
Tune et 1'autre entre vos mains." * * * 

J On the 3d September, Nau, in a paper in the State-paper Office, en- 
dorsed by Burghley, " Nau's first Answer," speaks as if Elizabeth and her 
ministers had Mary's original minutes, written by herself, in their hands. 
But next day, September 4, Walsingham, in a letter to Phelipps, State- 
paper Office, says, " the minute of her answer is not extant ; " and on the 7th 
September, these alleged minutes and letter of Mary's were still wanting ; 
for Waad writes to Phelipps to search anew for them. (State-paper Office, 
Waad to Phelipps, 7th September, 1586.) I have discovered no proof that 
they were ever found. 


doubtful whether they included the guilty passages which Mary so 
solemnly affirmed were not dictated or written by her.* It is true, 
indeed, that in the State-paper Office, and in the British Museum 
also, there are preserved copies of Mary's letter to Babington, with 
the copy of an attestation signed by Curie and Nau ; but in what 
terms is it given ? Do they verify, on oath, that this is a true copy 
of the letter written by them from Mary's dictation, and sent to 
Babington ? Far from it. Nau simply says, he truly thinks, to the 
best of his recollection, this is the letter; and Curie, that it was either 
this letter, or one like it, that he put in cipher.f And it was on such 
an attestation as this that Burghley contended that the Scottish queen 
was guilty I 

4. There was yet one other way in which the defects of the proof 
against Mary might have been supplied. If Walsingham and Burghley 
could not produce the original of her letter to Babington if they had 
no minutes of this letter in her own handwriting they still had 
Phelipps, who had deciphered it, and who could have attested on oath 
the accuracy of his own decipher, and its agreement with the copy 
produced at the trial. Why was this man not produced I Can the 
motive be doubted ? 

There are three original papers preserved in the State-paper Office, 
which appear to me to establish Mary's innocence, on as convincing 
grounds as the question admits of. It has been already noticed, that 
when Nau affirmed that the greater part of Mary's letter to Babington 
was taken by him from an original in the queen's hand, and that this 
minute of her answer would be found in her repositories, a strict 
search was made, which was wholly unsuccessful ; and on the 4th 
September, Walsingham became convinced that " the minute was not 
extant." This failure of obtaining proof against Mary, threw Wal- 
singham into great perplexity, in the midst of which he wrote this 
letter to Phelipps : 


" This morning I received the enclosed from Francis Milles ; and 
this afternoon he made report unto me of his proceeding with Curie 

* Lingard, Hist, of England, vol. viii. pp. 220, 221 ; and Appendix, pp. 
436, 487. 

f " Je pense de v'ray que c'est la lettre escripte par sa Majeste a Babing- 
ton, comme il me souventt. Ainsi signe. " NAU." 

"Telle ou semblable me semble avoir este la reponse escripte en Francois 
par Mons r Nau, laquelle j'ay traduit,et mis en chifre, comme j'en fais men- 
tion au pied d'une copie de lettre de Mr Babington, laquelle Mons r Nau a 
gigne le premier. Ainsi signe, " GILBERT CURLK." 

" 5,*h September, 1586." 


accordingly as is set down in the enclosed ; by the which you may 
perceive that Curie doth both testify the receipt of Babington's letters, 
as also the queen his mistress' answer to the same, wherein he chargeth 
Nau to have been a principal instrument. I took upon me to put him 
in comfort of favour, in case he would deal plainly ; being moved 
thereto for that the minute of her answer is not extant, and that I 
saw Nau resolved to confess no more than we were able of ourselves 
to charge him withal. 

" If it might please her majesty, upon Curie's plain dealing, and 
in respect of the comfort I have put him in to receive grace for the 
same, to extend some extraordinary favour towards him, considering 
that he is a stranger and that which he did was by his mistress' 
commandment, I conceive great hope there might be things drawn 
from him worthy of her majesty's knowledge ; for which purpose I 
can be content to retain him still prisoner with me, if her majesty 
shall allow of it. 

" I pray you therefore procure some access unto her majesty, that you 
may know her pleasure therein, with as convenient speed as you may. 
And so God keep you. From Barnelme, the 4th September, 1586.* 


This letter proves that no minutes in Mary's handwriting, connecting 
her with the letter to Babington, had then (4th September) been found ; 
that Nau had confessed nothing that implicated her ; and that all 
Walsingham's hopes rested on bribing Curie, by some "extraordinary 
favour," to make further disclosures. 

In these difficulties, it seems to have struck Phelipps, that Curie 
and Nau might be intimidated into confessing something against 
Mary, by showing them that they had already, by their written de- 
clarations, confessed enough against themselves to involve a charge 
of treason, as abettors of the plot for the invasion of England, and 
the escape of the Scottish queen. The idea of Phelipps was, to say 
to these secretaries of the Queen of Scots " We have already enough 
against you to hang you ; but be more explicit : tell us something 
which may connect your mistress with Babington's designs against 
Elizabeth's life, and you shall receive ' some extraordinary favour.' " 
For this purpose, Phelipps on the 4th September, the very day on 
which Walsingham wrote the above letter, drew up some remarks, 
which he sent to Burghley, who has endorsed them " From Phelipps." 
This paper is entitled, " An Extract of the points contained in the 
minutes written by Nau and Curie, arguing their privity to the enter- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Papers of Mary Queen 'if Scots. 


prise of the Catholics, and their mistress' plot." 4th September, 158&. 
The reader must pardon its abrupt and unfinished state, remembering 
that this makes it more authentic. It has been carefully read and 
marked by Burghley, and is as follows : 

" Nau and Curie are charged to be privy and partakers of the con- 
spiracy made by the Papists for the invasion and a rebellion within 
the realm; as also of a plot laid by their mistress, and sent by her unto 
the said Papists, with direction for execution of their enterprise, by 
the minutes of the letters sent to divers persons following, which they 
have confessed to be their own hands : 

" Nau. K. The letter K, written from the Scottish Q,. to Charles 
Paget, 27th July, being Nau his hand, hath these express words 
beginning at the letter K, Sur le retour de Hallard, fyc. In English 
thus : ' Upon the return of Ballard into this country, the principal 
Catholics which had despatched him unto that side for want of in- 
telligence with me, have imparted unto me their intentions conform 
to that which you wrote thereof ; but more particularly demanding 
my directions for the execution of the whole. I have made them a 
very ample despatch, containing point by point my advice touching 
all things requisite, as well on this side the sea as on that, to bring to 
pass their design,' &c. 

" The same written in English by Curie, the letter marked D. 

"Nau. L. The letter marked L, written from the Scottish Q, 
to the B. of Glasgow, 27th July, being Nau his hand, containeth a 
direction unto the said B. to renew the practices with the King of 
Spain and the Pope, for reformation (as she terms it) of this island 
an advice to raise some contrary faction in Scotland to that of Eng- 
land, to disturb the quiet of this isle she assureth that the principal 
Catholics of England were never better disposed than at this present, 
being resolute to set upon the rest. Wills him to know of her cousin 
the D. of Guise, if, the peace being made in France, he may not em- 
ploy himself in this action with the forces, which, without suspicion, 
he may have in readiness by that mean, &c. 

" F. The letter F, written by the Scottish queen to Mendoza, 27th 
July, being Nau his hand, containeth, in express terms, that upon 
intelligence of the K. of Spam's good intention in these quarters, she 
hath written very amply to the principal Catholics, touching a design 
which he hath sent them, with his advice upon every point, to resolve 
upon the execution thereof. And particularly that she hath sent unto 
them to despatch one in all diligence unto him, sufficiently instructed 
to treat with him according to the general offers that had been made 
him of all things to be required on the behalf of his master. She 
wills him to give the bearer credit which shall be sent from the 


Catholics, as to herself. The said deputy of the Catholics, she saith, 
shall inform him of the means of her escape, &c. 

" Curie* 0. The letter marked 0, written by the Q. of Scots to 
the L. Paget, 27th July, with Curie's hand, argueth an overture 
made by the Catholics of this realm to the Spanish ambassador, Men- 
doza, which she says she thinks his brother hath acquainted him 
with : she saith she hath written very amply to the principal of the 
said Catholics, for to have, upon a plot which she hath dressed for 
them, their common resolutiou ; and for to treat accordingly with 
the K. of Spain, she hath addressed them unto him ; and she prays 
him to consider deeply of the said plot, and all the particularities for 
the execution thereof ; namely, for the support, both men, armour, 
munition, and money, which is to be had of the Pope, and King of 

" There is a minute of the same in French, und er Nau his hand. 

" Curie.-]- E. The letter marked E, written by the Scattish Q. 
to Sir Francis Englefield, 27th July, of Curie's hand, containeth the 
same in effect also." * * * 

In the above summary of proofs against the Queen of Scots and 
her two secretaries, drawn up by Phelipps, and evidently founded on 
all the original letters which had been then recovered, and with which 
either Nau or Curie could be connected, there is not, it will be seen, 
the slightest proof of Mary's participation in Babington's plot against 
Elizabeth's life: nor does there appear to have been anything in these 
letters, written by her secretaries, connecting her or them with such 
a design. The plot related entirely, as is shown by these proofs, to 
the Spanish invasion of England, and the plans drawn up by Mary 
for her escape to which she pleaded guilty. 

This defect appears to have struck Burghley, and Phelipps en- 
deavoured to supply it by drawing up for this statesman a second 
SUMMARY, endorsed by Burghley : " From Phelipps," and dated on 
the same day as the former, 4th Sept., 1586. This paper appears to me, 
from its admissions and omissions, to be almost conclusive in establish- 
ing the innocence of Mary. It is entitled, " Arguments of Nau and 
Curie's privity to the whole conspiracy, as well of invasion as rebel- 
lion, and murder of the queen's person ;" and is as follows : 

" Their privity to that was written by their mistress touching the 
two former points both to Mendoza, the L. Paget, Charles Paget, Sir 
Francis Englefield, and the B. of Glasgow, in the letters of the 27th 

* This word, Curie, on the margin, is in Burghley's hand. 

+ The name, " Curie," is in Burghley 's hand. 

+ MS. State-paper Office, Papers of Mary Queen of Scots. 


July, thus marked F, 0, K, D, E, L ; which minutes are of their 
own hands, as themselves confess, the like trust not unlike to be given 
for writing those to Babington. 

" The first letter written by that queen unto Babington, as it seemeth, 
since his intelligence was renewed, being of the 26th June, is of Curie's 
hand, (litera B ;) and the secret intelligencer, Barnaby,* is directed 
by Curie's letter where to find Babington, litera B. 

" The second letter, likewise coming from Nau to Babington, touch- 
ing their assurance of Poley, is of Curie's hand, (litera P ;) and it 
argueth a letter sent in cipher from Babington, which Curie, or the 
inditer thereof, was to decipher, which was Nau. In the same letter 
Curie taketh order that )-( shall stand for Babington's name. 

" Litera A showeth that there was another letter in cipher sent to 
Babington by the secret messenger, 27th July, which Babington shall 
confess to be the bloody letter. The letters to Babington, and from 
Babington, two of them were very long, and all in cipher, fair written, 
(as Babington will confess ;) and therefore it cannot choose but that 
the queen's letter was put in cipher by Nau or Curie, and Babington's 
letter likewise deciphered. 

" The new alphabet sent to be used in time to come between that 
queen and Babington, accompanying the bloody despatch, is of Nau's 

" The heads of that bloody letter sent to Babington, touching the de~ 
signment of the queen's person, [by this he means the plot to assassinate 
Elizabeth,] is of Nau's hand likewise. 

" They cannot any way say it should stand with reason that the 
queen did decipher, and put in cipher, her letters herself. For it 
appeareth that she despatched ordinarily more pacquets every fort- 
night than it was possible for one body well exercised therein to put 
in cipher, and decipher those sent ; much less for her, being diseased, 
a queen, &c. 

" It appeareth all letters were addressed to one of them, Nau or 
Curie ; for that in the deciphering there is, for the most part, a post- 
script found to them excusing sometimes the error or length of the 
cipher, sometimes of their private occasions, &c." 

Such is this second " Summary." Now it will be noted that Phe- 
lipps argues thus. The letters of Mary to Mendoza, Lord Paget, and 
others, marked F, 0, K, D, E, L, were written from minutes drawn 
up by Curie and Nau from Mary's dictation. It is, therefore, to be 

* Barnaby is a name for Gilbert Gifford. " Curie's Letter," 19th June ; 
State- paper Office, in which he sap "^"stands also for Barnaby, or Gilbert 


presumed, that a similar trust would be given them for writing th 
letters to Babington. Is there not here an express admission by 
Phelipps, that there was no proof that Mary had given any instructions 
whatever to her secretaries, which connected her with the alleged 
letter to Babington produr jd on her trial. He presumes that she 
may have given instructions for Babington's letter, because she gave 
such instructions for the letters to Mendoza, Paget, and the rest. 

But there is a still more important fact stated by Phelipps in this 
second " Summary." The heads of the bloody letter to Babington 
had, it appears, been found, although the minutes of this same letter, 
which Nau affirmed to have been given him by the queen in her own 
handwriting, had not been found. And these heads, let it be observed, 
were in the handwriting of Nau himself, not of Mary. 

It is, therefore, evident, that the utmost exertions, and the strictest 
search on the part of Mary's enemies, directed by all the skill and 
vigour of Walsingham, and carried into effect by the unscrupulous 
artifices and ingenuity of Phelipps, had not been able to find the 
smallest scrap of evidence under Mary's hand, which could connect her 
with the plot against Queen Elizabeth's life. Last of all, we have in 
this " Summary" the admission that all the letters, (which includes 
Babington's among the rest,) were addressed not to Mary, but either 
to Nau or Curie that Mary relied on Nau and Curie to decipher them 
and that the queen's alleged letter to Babington was put in cipher 
either by Nau or Curie. If, then, (to sum up these proofs,) Babing- 
ton's alleged letter was not addressed to Mary if she had nothing 
to do with deciphering it if the alleged answer in cipher was not 
made by her if there were no minutes in her hand for that answer 
if Nau and Curie's declarations do not connect her with the plot 
against the queen's life and if Phelipps, whose evidence under such 
a lack of proof could alone have supplied the deficiency, was not 
brought forward it appears difficult to resist the conclusion, that 
Mary was implicated solely in a plot for her escape, that she was 
entirely ignorant of the project for Elizabeth's assassination, and that 
she was the victim of forged letters manufactured by her enemies.* 
It would be easy to corroborate this conclusion by some additional 
arguments, drawn from the successive declarations of Nau, and other 
letters or papers preserved in the British Museum and State-paper 

* In the British Museum, Caligula, C. ix. fol. 458, there is a confession of 
Thomas Harrison, who styles himself Secretary to Sir Francis Walsingham, 
in which he states that Walsingham, Fhelipps, and himself, contrived the 
conspiracy, and forged the letters, for -which Mary suffered death. I have 
not given this confession, because I know one part of it to be false, and dare 
not trust the rest. 



Office ; but enough has been said upon the point, and any reader who 
wishes to pursue the inquiry, will find ample materials in these two 
noble repositories of original information. He will there find the 
lists, notes, and arguments which Lord Burghley drew np previous 
to the trial of the Scottish queen ; upon which I cannot enter, but 
the whole have been examined and carefully weighed, and the result 
is a confirmation of the opinion of Mary's innocence. 

No. XV. 
Queen Mary's Beads, p. 353. 

My friend, Mr Howard of Corby castle, has in his possession a pair 
of golden beads, with a gold crucifix attached to them, ornamented 
with drop pearls. These beads belonged to the late Charles duke 
of Norfolk, and were part of the collection of Thomas earl of Arun- 
del : the tradition in that noble family being, that they were worn 
by the unfortunate Mary at the time of her death, and sent by her, 
as a last token of affection, to the then Earl or Countess of ArundeL 







Tytler, Patrick Fraser 

The history of Scotland 
New ed.