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








F.B.S.E. AND F.A.S. 











Elizabeth's conduct on the death of Mary, . . . 1, 2 

Her great injustice to Davison, 2, 3 

James receives the news of his mother's death, . . 3, 4 
Letter of Walsingham to Chancellor Maitland, .... 6 

The Borders break loose> 8 

James' cautious policy, 9, 10 

Fall of the Master of Gray, 11 

The king attains majority, . . . . . . .12 

Reconciliation of the nobility, 13 

Intrigues of Huntley and the Catholics, 14 

Difficulties of Elizabeth, . . . . . .15,16 

Lord Hunsdon communicates with James, . . . .18 

James' proceedings against the Catholic lords, . . . .19 

Destruction of the Spanish Armada, 20 

James deceived by Elizabeth, ib. 

Fowler's character of James, 21 

Huntley and Errol's intrigue^ with Rome, . . . .23 
Their letters intercepted, . . . . . . . . ib. 
James' vigorous proceedings against them, . . .25, 26 
James' negotiations for his marriage with Anne of Denmark, 27, 28 

The bride sails, but is driven back, 29 

The king embarks for Denmark, 32 

Marriage and return of the king, 32, 33 

Coronation fetes, ......... 34 



State of the kingdom, 35, S6 

Chancellor Maitland and the Earl of Bothwell, . . .37 
Ma.tland's plans for consolidating the king's power, . 38 



Comparative power of the Protestants and Catholics, . . 39 

Reforms at court, 4C, 41 

James' activity, 42 

His embassy to the Princes of Germany, 43 

Embassy to Elizabeth, 44 

She sends him the Garter by the Earl of Worcester, . . ib. 
Elizabeth's letter to James on the rise of the Puritans, . . 46 
Cordiality between Elizabeth and James, . . . .48 

Chancellor Maitland's letter to Burghley, . . . .49 

James' activity against the witches, SO 

Bothwell accused of plots with the Wizard Graham against the 

king, 51 

Bothwell imprisoned. He escapes, 52, 53 

Disorganized state of the kingdom, 55 

Bothwell's attack on the palace, 56 

Murder of the " Bonny" Earl of Moray by Huntley, . 57, 59 
The Chancellor Maitland driven from court, . . . .61 
James' difficulties, ......... ib. 

He makes advances to the Kirk, 63 

Presbytery established by parliament, 64 

Intolerance of the Kirk, ........ 65 

Arrest of Mr George Ker, 67 

Discovery of Spanish intrigues, ib. 

Intercepted letters of the Catholic lords, 68 

Huntley and Errol imprisoned, .69 

James' spirited conduct to Bowes, 70 

Elizabeth's letter to James, 71 

James' angry expostulation with Bowes, . . . . .72 

His activity against the Catholic lords, 74 

Mission of Lord Burgh to James, 75 

James' leniency to the Catholic lords, . . . . .76 

He gives audience to Lord Burgh, ib. 

The ambassador's intrigues with Bothwell, . . . .78 

Miserable state of the kingdom, 79 

The Kirk propose the entire extirpation of the Catholics, . 80, 81 
James' opposition. Deserted by the Kirk, . . . .82 

Impotence of the laws, 82,83 

Reappearance of Captain James Stewart, formerly Earl of Arran, 84 

The king's vigorous conduct, 85 

Parliament assembled. Bothwell forfeited, . . . .86 
Proceedings suspended against Huntley, Errol, and Angus, . 87 

Indignation of the ministers, 88 

Bothwell seizes the palace, and becomes master of the government, 89 


James' dissimulation, 91 

Bothwell and Dr Toby Mathews, 92 

Mathews' letter to Burghley, 92, 97 

Bothwell's letter to Elizabeth, 97 

Bothwell's trial and acquittal, 99 

James' unsuccessful attempt to escape, .... 100, 101 
He regains his liberty, , . .102 



James' resolute conduct, 104 

Elizabeth courts the Catholics, 105 

Her duplicity, and letter to James, 106 

Bothwell ordered to leave the kingdom, 107 

Vigour and power of the king, aad return of the Chancellor 

Maitland, . 108 

James' wise measures, 110 

Alarm of the Kirk, Ill 

Excommunication of the Catholic lords, and public Fast, . 112, 113 
The Catholic lords supplicate to have their trial, . . .115 

The Kirk insists on delay, 116 

They summon the people to meet in arms at Perth, . . .117 

Danger of a hostile collision, 118 

James takes a middle course, 119 

His severe decree against the Catholics, 121 

The Kirk complain of his leniency, 122 

Elizabeth's letter to James, 124 

Lord Zouch's (the English ambassador) interview with James, 127 
Lord Zouch's conspiracies against James, . . . . 128 

Birth of Prince Henry, 130 

Zouch and Bothwell's plot discovered, ib. 

Defeated by the king, 132 

James' letter to Elizabeth, .133,136 

James' embassies to foreign States, on the birth of his son, . 1 36 
His resolution to pursue the Catholic lords, . . . . 1 37 
Embassy of Sussex, and baptism of Prince Henry, . . .138 
Letter of Elizabeth to James, . . . . . . 138,139 

Letter of James to Elizabeth, 141,142 

Elizabeth discards Bothwell, 143 

James' preparations against the Catholics, . . . ib. 

Argyle marches against Huntley, 145 

Besieges Ruthven castle, but repulsed, 147 




The king attacks and entirely defeats Huntley, . . .152 
Commits to the Duke of Lennox the temporary government of 
the North, 153 


The queen breaks her promises to James, 156 

His extreme rage and disappointment, .... 157, 158 
Emulation between the Chancellor Maitland and the Earl of 

Mar, 159 

Disagreement between the king and queen, . . . .160 

Commotions in the North, 161, 162 

Convention of the nobles, 164 

Miserable state to which Bothwell is reduced, . . . . ib. 

Spanish intrigues resumed, 165 

Errol and Huntley leave Scotland, 167 

James' judicious measures, 168,169 

Slaughter of David Forrester, 170 

James' rebuke of the chancellor, 171 

Rivalry of Maitland and Mar, ib. 

The king and queen reconciled, 173 

State of the Western Isles, 175 

Elizabeth's negotiation with Maclean, 176 

Power of Maclean, 177,178 

Letter of Maclean to Bowes, 180 

Death of the Chancellor Maitland, 181,182 

Fears of the Kirk at the renewal of Spanish intrigues, . 183, 184 

Appointment of the Octavians, 185 

Sir Robert Bowes sent by Elizabeth to Scotland, . . 185, 186 

Bowes' interview with the queen, 188 

Bowes' negotiation with Maclean, 189 

His observations on James' character, 190 

Meeting of the General Assembly, 191 

Their satisfaction with James' proceedings, . . . .193 

Seizure of Kinmont Willie, 194,196 

Buccleuch carries him off from Carlisle castle, . . .197,198 

James commits Buccleuch to ward, 199 

Huntley returns secretly to Scotland, 201 

James anxious for his recantation and restoration to his honours, 202 
Extreme indignation of the Kirk, ...... ib. 

They insist on violent measures, 203 


Mr David Black's attack upon Queen Elizabeth, . . . 204 

Complaint of the English ambassador, 205 

Black's defence, . . 206,207 

James' interview with the commissioners of the Kirk, . 209, 211 

Black found guilty, and banished, 212 

The commissioners of the Kirk ordered to leave the city, . .213 

The king's declaration, ib. 

Twenty-four citizens banished the capital, . . . .215 

Great tumult in the city, 217 

The king leaves his capital and retires to Linlithgow, . .218 

The Kirk write to Lord Hamilton, 220 

Mr John Welsh's seditious sermon, ib. 

Lord Hamilton refuses the offers of the Kirk, and gives their 

letter to the king, 221 

Vigorous proceedings of the king, 223 

His return to Edinburgh, and submission of the citizens, . . 224 
James resolves on the establishment of Episcopacy, . . . 225 
His " Queries " directed to the Kirk, .... 226, 227 

Answers of the Kirk, 228 

Meeting of the General Assembly, 229 

Success of the king, . 231 

Plot of Barclay of Ladyland to seize " Ailsa," .... 233 
Huntley's recantation, and reconciliation to the Kirk, . . 234 
Visitation of St Andrews, and removal of Andrew Melvil, . 235 
Petition by the Kirk to have a voice in parliament, . . . 237 
Meeting of the General Assembly, ...... 238 

Angry debates, 239 

Agreed that the ministers shall have a voice in parliament, . 240 
Final establishment of Episcopacy in 1600, . . . 240,241 



State of the country, 242 

Death of Sir Robert Bowes, 243 

Mission of Sir William Bowes to Scotland. .... 244 
James' anxiety on the subject of his title to the crown of 

England, 244,245 

Affair of Valentine Thomas, 246 

James' complaint against Spenser's " Fairy Queen," . .247 
Increase of witches, and imposture of Aitken discovered, . 248, 249 
Proposals of Donald Gorm to Queen Elizabeth, . . 250 
Maclean slain by Sir James Macdonald, . . . .251, 252 

VOL. ix. a 2 



James' schemes for the civilisation of the Isles, . . . 253 
The Lewis and Skye let to a company of Lowland barons, . ib. 

Their disasters and failure, 254 

The magistrates of Edinburgh's spirited resistance to the crown, 255 
Contest between the king and the Supreme Court, . . . 256 

Death of Lord Burghley, 257 

Sir Robert Cecil manages the Scottish affairs, . . . 258 

His alarms for James' orthodoxy, ib. 

James' financial embarrassments, 259, 260 

Mission of Sir William Bowes, 261 

" Basilicon Doron," ib. 

Andrew Melvil attacks it, 262 

Publication of the king's book, 263 

A general Fast, ib. 

Sir Edmund Ashfield kidnapped, 264, 265 

James' indignation, 265 

Arrival of a French ambassador, 266 

Alarm of the Kirk at the arrival of " English Players," . 266, 267 
General " Band " on the succession, ..... 268 

James' harangue on the same subject, 269 

His scheme of taxation defeated, ib. 

Spirited resistance of the burghs, ...... 270 

First day of the year altered from 25th March to 1st January, . ib. 




Early life of the young Earl of Gowrie, 272 

Education at Padua, 273, 274 

His stay at Paris, 275 

His reception at the English court, ib. 

Coldness between Elizabeth and James, .... 276, 278 

Bothwell reported to be in Scotland, 279 

Reflexions on the state of parties, 280 

Gowrie's return to Scotland, 281 

Anecdotes, 282,283 

He retires from court, , . . . 284 

Convention of Estates, and deoates, 285 

Gowrie opposes the king, 287 

James' rage at Gowrie and the burghs, 288 

Remarks, 289, 290 

Gowrie's plot and accomplices, 29 J 



He studies Machiavel, 292 

Logan of Restalrig and Laird Bower, ib. 

The Master of Ruthven, 293 

Gowrie House and Fastcastle, 294 

Letter of Logan to the unknown conspirator, 18th July, . 295, 296 

Logan to Laird Bower, 297 

Logan to the unknown conspirator, 27th July, .... 298 

Logan to Gowrie, July 29, 299, 302 

Logan to the unknown conspirator, 302, 304 

Summary of the letters, 304 

Progress of the plot, 305, 308 

The king arrives at Gowrie House, 309 

Progress of the plot, 310, 311 

James follows the Master of Ruthven to the private room, . 311 

The struggle between them, 313 

The catastrophe. Death of the Master and Gowrie, . . 314, 316 

Popular tumult, 317 

James returns to Falkland, 318 

Rejoicings when he returns to Edinburgh, . . . 318, 319 



Scepticism of the Kirk on the Gowrie conspiracy, . . . 320 
James' impatience and impolitic conduct, . . . . .321 
Severe proceedings against the House of Ruthven, . . . 322 

Elizabeth's Letter to James, 324 

Ashfield's directions to James as to the " Succession," . . 325 
Differences between the king and his queen, .... 326 
Birth of a prince, afterwards Charles the First, . . ' 327 
Friendly letter of Elizabeth to James, .... 327, 328 
James interests himself for the Earl of Essex, .... 329 
Embassy of the Earl of Mar and the Abbot of Kinloss to Eliza- 
beth, 330 

Elizabeth's cold reception of them, 331, 332 

James' secret instructions to the ambassadors, . . . 333, 335 
The ambassadors gain Secretary Cecil, ..,. 336 

Elizabeth's letter to James, 337 

Last parliament of Elizabeth, 338, 339 

The queen abolishes monopolies, 340 

Mission of the duke of Lennox to Elizabeth, . . .341 
The duke's secret negotiations in England, . . . ib. 
Cecil and Howard's secret correspondence with James, . 342, 344 



James' wise and spirited conduct, .... . 345 

His difficulties in conciliating the Catholics, . . . 345, 347 

Former mission of Pourie Ogilvy, 347 

James' alleged letter to the pope, 348 

Difficulty in discovering the truth as to these intrigues, . . 349 

All parties favour his title, 350 

Reconciliations and stanching of feuds amongst the Scottish 

nobles, ib. 

Elizabeth's last letter to James, ... . 352 

Elizabeth's last illness, 354, 358 

Her death. James proclaimed her successor, .... 359 

Sir Robert Carey's journey to Scotland, 360 

James sets out for England, 361 

His triumphant progress, . . . ~ . . . . 362 

He enters London, and takes possession of the English throne, . ib. 



I. Huntley's Rebellion, with Errol, Angus, and Bothwell, 367 

II. Queen Elizabeth to King James, 29th May, 1590, . 369 

III. Queen Elizabeth to Henry the Fourth, 27th July, 1591, 370 

IV. Queen Elizabeth to the King of Scots, 12th August, 1591, 371 

V. Elizabeth to Henry the Fourth, 9th November, 1591, . 373 

VI. Elizabeth to James, 25th November, 1591, . . 374 

VII. Queen Elizabeth to James, 4th December, 1592, . ib. 

VIII. The present state of the nobility in Scotland, 1st July, 

1592, 376 

IX. Elizabeth to James, 1593, . . . . . . 382 

X. Elizabeth to James, June 1594, 384 

XI. Kinmont Willie, 385 

XII. Elizabeth to James, April 1596, 387 

XIII. After Kinmont Will's rescue and deliverance by Buc- 

cleuch, 1596, 389 

XIV. Elizabeth to James, 1st July, 1598. On the subject of 
Valentine Thomas, 390 

XV. James to Elizabeth, 10th February, 1601, . . .391 

XVI. Elizabeth to James, May 1601, 392 

XVII. Elizabeth to James, 2d December, 1601, . . . 393 
XVIII. Elizabeth to James, 4th July, 1602, . . 394 








Henry III. 
Henry IV. 

Rudolph II. 

Philip II. 

Philip II. 

Sixtus V. 

THE conduct of Elizabeth on the death of the Queen 
of Scots was marked by much dissimulation and in- 
justice. After having signed the warrant for her 
execution, commanded it to be carried to the Seals, and 
positively interdicted Davison, to whom she delivered 
it, from any further communication with her till it 
was obeyed, she suddenly turned fiercely round upon 
him and her council, and cast on them the whole guilt 
of Mary's blood. In a moment she denied, or pre- 
tended to forget, everything which she had done. She 
had declared to Sir Robert Melvil, that she would not 
spare his royal mistress' life for one hour ; now she 
swore vehemently that she never intended to take it. 
She had assured Davison, with a great oath, that she 
meant the execution to go forward ; now she loudly 


protested that she had commanded him to keep the 
warrant till he received further orders. She had 
laboured anxiously with Paulet to have Mary secretly 
made away with ; and now she did not scruple to call 
God to witness, under awful obtestations, that her 
determined resolution had been all along to save her 
life.* And her subsequent conduct was perfectly in 
character with all this. On the day after the execu- 
tion, Lord Shrewsbury wrote from Fotheringay to the 
court, which was then at Greenwich. Next morning, 
at nine, his letters were brought to the palace by his 
son Henry Talbot, and the news became public. Soon 
after, the bells of the city, and the blazing of bonfires, 
proclaimed the happiness of the people.^ It was im- 
possible that these demonstrations should have escaped 
the notice of Elizabeth ; and we know from Davison, 
every word of whose "Apology" carries truth and 
conviction with it, that the queen that same night was 
made aware of Mary's execution ; J but she took no 
notice, and kept an obstinate silence. Apparently 
none of her ministers dared to allude to the event ; 
and when, after four days, the news was at last forced 
upon her, she broke into a hypocritical passion of 
astonishment, tears, and indignation. She upbraided 
her councillors with having purposely deceived her, 
chased Burghley from her presence, and committed 
Secretary Davison to the Tower. It was in vain that 
this upright and able, but most unfortunate of men 

* Supra, vol. viii. p. 338. Life of Thomas Egerton, Lord Chancellor, 
p. 119. Chasteauneuf to Henry III., 28th February, 1587. Also, MS. 
Minutes of Carey's Message, Warrender MSS. 

+ Life of Egerton, pf 117, 119. Letter of Chasteauneuf to Henry III., 
28th February, 1587. It ought to be remembered that Chasteauneuf uses 
the new style. 

I Sir Harris Nicolas' Life of Davison, p. 268. 

Wright, Life and Times of Elizabeth, vol. ii. p. 332. Wolley to 
Leicester, Sunday, 1586. This Sunday was the 12th February. 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 3 

pbaded, with all the energy of truth, the commands 
of his sovereign for everything that he had done. She 
knew he had no witnesses of their conversation ; 
charged him with falsehood and disobedience ; com- 
pelled Burghley, who must have been well assured of 
his innocence, to draw up a severe memorial against 
him ; had him tried before the Star-chamber ; degraded 
him from his office of secretary ; inflicted on him a 
fine which amounted to absolute ruin ; and never after- 
wards admitted him to the least enjoyment of her 

All this was in keeping with the subtlety and dis- 
regard of truth which sometimes marked Elizabeth's 
proceedings, when she had any great object to gain. 
It was part of a premeditated plan by which she hoped 
to mislead Europe, and convince its States that she 
was really guiltless of Mary's blood : but ultimately 
it had no effect on the continent ; and it was too 
palpably fictitious to be successful for a moment in 
Scotland, where the facts were well known. In that 
country, the news of Mary's execution was received 
with a universal burst of indignation, and open threats 
of revenge. But the English wardens, Lord Scrope 
and Sir John Foster, were provided against immediate 
attack ; and the season of the year, which was seed- 
time, rendered it difficult for the Scots to assemble in 
any force. -f- 

It was Mr Roger Ashton, a gentleman of James 1 
bed-chamber, whom he had sent to London some time 
before this, that brought the king the first certain 

* Nicolas' Life of Davison, pp. 82, 83 ; and Appendix, pp. 235, 236, 260, 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Sir John Foster to Walsingham, 
26th February, 1586-7. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Scropa 
to Walsingham, 14th February, 1586-7. 


intelligence of his mother's death. Ash ton arrived in 


Edinburgh about the seventh day after the execution ; 
and Lord Scrope, who had despatched a spy to watch 
James' motions, wrote in alarm to Walsingham, that 
the monarch was grievously offended, and had sworn 
that so foul an act of tyranny and injustice should 
not pass unrevenged.* The feelings, however, of this 
prince were neither deep nor lasting. Even at this 
sad moment, selfishness and the assurance of undivided 
sovereignty neutralized his resentment; and he suf- 
fered some expressions of satisfaction to escape him, 
which his chief minister, Secretary Maitland, did not 
choose should reach any but the most confidential 
ears.*f* Meantime, as Ashtori's information was secret, 
James took no public notice of it, but sent in haste for 
Lord Maxwell, Ker of Ancrum, and young Ferny- 
hirst.:}: These were reckoned amongst his most war- 
like Border leaders ; and whilst the country rang with 
threats of revenge, the king shut himself up in his 
palace, and held conference with them and his most 
confidential nobles. 

Amid these consultations, Mr Robert Carey was 
despatched by the English queen to convey her apology 
to Scotland. This young courtier was the son of Lord 
Hunsdon, Elizabeth's cousin-german, and she selected 
him as a personal favourite of the Scottish king. He 
carried with him a letter, written in her own hand, in 
which she expressed the excessive grief which over- 
whelmed her mind, in consequence of what she termed 
" the miserable accident which had befallen, far con- 

* Lord Scrope to Walsingham. Queen Elizabeth and her Times, vol. ii. 
p. 333, 21st February, 15%-7. Also, State-paper Office, B.C., Sir H. 
Woddrington to Walsingham, 25th February, 1586-7. 

f MS. Calderwood. British Museum, Ayscough, 4738, fol. 974. 

Lord Scrope to Walsingham, 21st February, 1586-7. Wright's Eliza- 
beth, vol. ii. p. 333. 

1586-7. JAMES VI. 5 

trary to her meaning;""* and he was instructed to 
throw the entire blame of the tragedy at Fotheringav 
upon Davison and her council. On arriving at Ber- 
wick, Carey forwarded a letter requesting an audience ; 
but this the king declined to grant till the envoy had 
stated, on his honour, whether his mother, the Queen 
of Scots, was dead or alive ; and when it was answered 
that she was executed, James peremptorily refused to 
see the ambassador, and commanded him to proceed 
no farther into Scotland. He added, however, that 
he would send some members of his council to Berwick, 
to whom the letter and message of the English queen 
might be delivered. 

On any other occasion the wrath of Elizabeth would 
have blazed high and fierce at such an indignity ; but 
at this moment she was placed in circumstances which 
compelled her to digest the affront ; and Carey com- 
municated her false and ungenerous version of the 
story of Mary's death to Sir Robert Melvil and the 
Laird of Cowdenknowes, who met him for this purpose 
at Berwick. -f* All this failed, as may readily be believed, 
to convince James, or appease the general indignation 
of the people. By this time the execution of the 
Scottish queen, with its affecting details, was known 
throughout the country; and whatever may have been 
the king's secret resolutions upon the subject, he felt 
that it would be almost impossible to resist the deep 
and increasing current of popular fury which was 
sweeping on to its revenge. 

Many symptoms daily occurred to show this: Already 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Wcddrington to Walsingham, 
25th February, 1 586-7. Also, Warrender MSS., vol. A., p. 240. MS. Letter, 
Elizabeth to James. 

t Warrender MSS., vol. A., p. 241. Mr Carey's Credit. MS. Letter, 
State-paper Office, B.C., Woddrington to Walsingham, 10th March, 1586-7. 


the Scottish Border chiefs had so strictly waylaid 
every road and pass, that not a letter or scrap of in- 
telligence could be conveyed to the English court : 
three Scottish scouts, with troopers trained to the 
duty, and armed to the teeth, were stationed at Lin- 
ton Bridge, Coldingham Moor, and beyond Hadding- 
ton, who watched day and night, and pounced on every 
packet. The system of secret intelligence was at a 
stand ; Walsingham pined for news, and complained 
that his " little blue-cap lads," who used to bring him 
word of all occurrences, were no more the men he had 
known them. Although the season of the year was 
unfavourable, the Borders were already stirring ; some 
minor Scottish forays took place ; and Bothwell, whose 
power was almost kingly on the marches, intimated 
unequivocally, that he only delayed his blow that it 
might fall the more heavily. He refused to put on 
mourning, striking his mailed glove on his breast, and 
declaring that the best " dule weed " for such a time, 
was a steel coat. Nor did he stand alone in these 
sentiments. Lord Claud Hamilton, and his brother 
Arbroath, offered, on the moment, to raise three thou- 
sand men, and carry fire and sword to the gates of 
Newcastle; whilst Buccleuch, Cessford, and Ferny- 
hirst, were only restrained from an outbreak by the 
positive injunctions of the king, and stood full armed, 
and fiery-eyed, straining like blood-hounds in the slip, 
ready to be let loose on a moment's warning against 

The first circumstance which offered any perceptible 
check to these dread appearances, was the arrival of an 
able letter addressed by Walsingham to Sir John 
Maitland of Thirlstane, the Scottish Secretary of 
State, which was evidently meant for the king's eye. 

1587. JAMES vi. 7 

Thirlstane, originally bred to the law, was then high 
in his master's favour, and had risen by his talents as 
a statesman to be his most confidential minister. He 
was the sou of Sir Richard Maitland, and younger 
brother of the Secretary Lethington ; and although 
his powers were less brilliant and commanding than 
those wielded by that extraordinary man, his good 
sense, indefatigable application to business, and per- 
sonal intrepidity, made him a valuable servant to his 
sovereign, and a formidable antagonist to the higher 
nobility, who envied and disliked him. To him, there- 
fore, Walsingham wisely addressed this letter, or rather 
memorial, in which he argued the question of peace or 
war, and pointed out the extreme folly and impolicy 
of those counsels which, at such a moment, urged the 
young king to a rupture with England. His reasons 
were well calculated to make an impression upon James.* 
Adverting to the injustice of the quarrel, he described, 
with great force of argument, the effects that a war 
with England must inevitably produce on his title to 
the succession after the queen's death, and the certain 
alienation of the whole body of the English nobility 
and people from a prince who first revived the ancient 
and almost forgotten enmity between the two nations, 
and then hoped to be welcomed as the successor of so 
great and popular a princess as Elizabeth. As for 
Spain and France, on whose assistance it was reported 
he chiefly depended, could he for a moment imagine 
that Spain would prove true to him? a country 
which hated him for his religion ; or France, whose 
policy was to counteract, by every possible method, 
an event which must be so fatal to her power as the 

* His letter, which is very long, is printed entire by Spottiswood, 
pp. 359, 360, 361, 362. 


union, whether by conquest or otherwise, of the crowns 
of England and Scotland ? Could he believe that the 
French monarch would assist him to a conquest which, 
if completed, must threaten his own crown ? Had he 
forgotten that the monarchs of England still insisted 
on their right to the throne of France ? Besides, 
could it be credited for an instant, that the king of 
that country would ever cordially unite his interests 
with a monarch so nearly allied as James to the family 
of Guise ; a house which Henry hated in his heart, 
and which he suspected to aim at his deposition ? 

There can be no doubt that these arguments of 
so far-sighted a statesman as Walsingham, were not 
thrown away eventually upon James ; but at the 
moment the impression was scarcely perceptible, and 
for some time everything portended war. 

The Scottish Borders, which during the winter and 
spring had been kept in tolerable quietness, broke into 
open hostility as the summer advanced. Six suc- 
cessive Scottish forays swept with relentless havoc 
through the Middle Marches ; and Sir Cuthbert Col- 
lingwood, who commanded in those parts, found him- 
self too weak to restrain the incursions of the fierce 
marauders of Cessford, Fernyhirst, Bothwell, and 
Angus. In a piteous letter to Walsingham, he 
described the country as having been reduced to a 
desert, wasted with fire and sword, and filled with 
lamentation and dismay ; * and he remonstrated with 
the Scottish wardens in strong terms. But so little 
impression did Collingwood's complaints make on the 
Scottish government, and so inadequate was the assis- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Collingwood to Walsingham, 
12th July, 1587. Ibid., B.C., same to same, 21st May, 1587. Ibid., B.C., 
same to same, with enclosure, 23d June, 1587 ; and ibid., same to same, 
23d August, 1587. 

1587. JAMES VI. 9 

tance sent him by his own, that Buccleuch, Cessford, 
and Johnston, with a force of two thousand men, 
attacked him iu his castle at Eslington, slew seven- 
teen of his garrison, took one of his sons prisoner, 
severely wounded another, and but for the fleetness of 
his horse had made captive the warden himself. 

It seems difficult to reconcile these flagrant outrages, 
which continued more or less throughout the year 
1587, though unnoticed by our general historians, with 
James" warm coalition with Elizabeth in 1588. The 
probable explanation may be, that the young King of 
Scots, without serious intentions of war, was not dis- 
pleased that Elizabeth should have a little temporary 
experience of his power of disturbing her ; that he was 
not annoyed by such excesses ; and even, as Foster 
asserted and Burghley suspected, secretly encouraged 
them.* He knew that Elizabeth was anxious to con- 
ciliate him, and had determined, at all hazards, to 
purchase peace with Scotland ; and he, on his side, 
had resolved that he would not sell it too cheap. He 
was well aware of the embarrassments with which the 
English queen was now surrounded. The mighty 
preparations of Spain against England were no secret. 
The rebellion of Tyrone in Ireland was at its height. 
In Scotland the Catholic lords, Huntley, Errol, Angus, 
Maxwell, and their adherents, were powerful, warlike, 
and stirring, animated with the bitterest animosity 
against Elizabeth, whom they detested as the mur- 
deress of their queen and the implacable enemy of 
their religion. Another thorn in the side of England 
was the constant friendly intercourse between the 
Irish insurgents and the Scottish Isles. From these 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Robert Carryle to Walsingham, 
4th December, 1587. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Burghley to 
t, 17th April, 1588. 


nurseries of warlike seamen and soldiers, strong rein- 
forcements had already joined Tyrone; and the chiefs, 
who were as fierce and potent as so many little sea 
kings, drove a lucrative trade by serving him against 
England at a high price. This was another weapon 
in the hand of James. By means of his lieutenants, 
Huntley and Argyle, to whom the administration of 
the northern parts of his dominions was intrusted, he 
could let loose the Islesmen against Elizabeth, or 
detain them at home, as suited his policy ; and that 
queen repeatedly requested him to exert this influence 
in her favour. To do this, however, with greater 
profit to himself, the king was not unwilling she should 
feel his power ; and, with this view, he shut his eyes 
to the Border inroads, delayed remonstrating with 
Huntley on his intrigues with Spain, refused to appre- 
hend the Jesuits who were lurking in his dominions, 
and gave himself no trouble to check the rising ani- 
mosity against England. Yet in his heart he had no 
inclination for war. He felt the truth of Walsing- 
hanTs argument, that any prolonged struggle at this 
moment with England would be fatal to his hopes of 
succession ; and he flattered himself that he had the 
reins over the Catholic lords and the Spanish intriguers 
so completely in his hands, that he could command 
peace with England at whatever moment the queen 
chose to have his amity on his own terms. In such a 
hope it turned out that he was deceived. The Catholic 
party, supported by the money of Spain, commanding 
nearly all the northern counties, and having with 
them the sympathies of the people, who were enraged 
at the execution of Mary, gained in a short time a 
strength on which he had not calculated, and far from 
being bridled, for some time dictated terms to him. 

1587. JAMES VI. H 

But it is time to return from this digression to the 
course of events in Scotland. 

The king, who was now on the eve of his majority, 
assembled a convention of his nobility at Edinburgh, 
and determined to despatch ambassadors to the courts 
of France and Denmark.* To Henry the Third he 
proposed a renewal of the ancient league between the 
two kingdoms; whilst to the Danish monarch he made 
overtures of a matrimonial alliance.^ But Henry, 
who was at this moment disposed to be on favourable 
terms with England, treated James 1 advances coldly; 
and although the Danish alliance eventually took 
place, its first suggestion does not appear to have been 
very cordially welcomed. J 

The same convention was signalized by an event 
which brought a merited punishment on one of the 
basest of men. This was the fall of the Master of 
Gra} 7 , who was tried for high treason, condemned, and 
on the point of being executed, when his life was 
spared, and the sentence changed to banishment, at 
the intercession of the Earl of Huntley and Lord 
Hamilton. His accuser was Sir William Stewart, 
now about to proceed on the French embassy ; and 
in his dittay or indictment, which has been preserved, 
were contained various points of treason. But his 
most flagrant offence, which was completely proved, 
was the base betrayal of his trust in his recent nego- 
tiation in England, where he secretly recommended 

* Moyse's Memoirs. Bannatyne edition, p. 64. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C.. Carvyle to Walsingham, 3d June, 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, A. B. to Walsingham, 19th August, 
1587. Also, Car to Walsingham, B.C., State-paper Office, 1 1th September, 
1587. Moyse's Memoirs, p. 65. 

Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. part iii. p. 157. Historie of James 
the Sext, p. 227. Spottiswood, p. 363. 


the death, instead of pleading for the life, of the Scot- 
tish queen. At first, with his wonted effrontery, he 
attempted to brazen out the matter and overawe his 
enemies ; but in the end he pleaded guilty ; and, as 
abject as he had been insolent, threw himself on the 
king's mercy. None lamented his disgrace ; for, 
although still young in years, Gray was old in false- 
hood and crime. Brilliant, fascinating, highly edu- 
cated, and universally reputed the handsomest man of 
his time, he had used all these advantages for the most 
profligate ends ; and his life, which to the surprise of 
many was now spared, had been little else than a tissue 
of treachery. He retired to France ; and although, 
after some years, he was again permitted to return ta 
Scotland, he never recovered the commanding station 
from which he fell.* 

James had now attained majority, and important 
subjects began to occupy his mind. Amid much that 
was frivolous and volatile, this young prince sometimes 
evinced a sagacity in detecting abuses, and a vigour 
in devising plans for the amelioration of his kingdom, 
which surprised even those who knew him best. To 
reconcile his nobility, and extinguish those fierce and 
sanguinary family feuds which so frequently defied 
the laws and tore the kingdom in pieces ; to arrange 
the affairs of the Kirk, provide for its ministers, and 
establish a certain form of ecclesiastical polity ; to 
escape from the pressure of an enormous debt by re- 
covering the crown lands, which had been greatly 
dilapidated during his minority ; and to take some 
decisive steps on the subject of his marriage; these were 
the chief points which now pressed themselves upon 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Woddrington to Walsingham, 
29th April, 1587. Ibid., Carvyle to Walsingham, 12th May, 1587. 

1587. JAMES VI. IS 

his attention, and to which he directed the labours of 
his principal minister, the Secretary Maitland. But 
difficulties encountered him at every step. Outwardly, 
indeed, the king's desire for a reconciliation amongst 
the nobles was accomplished ; and at the conclusion 
of the parliament held in the capital,* the principal 
street exhibited a singular spectacle. A table was 
spread at the Cross, where a banquet was prepared by 
the magistrates ; and a long line of nobles, who had 
been previously reconciled and feasted by the king in 
the palace at Holyrood, was seen to emerge from its 
massive gateway, and walk in peaceful procession up 
the principal street of the city. Bothwell and' Angus, 
Hume and Fleming, Glammis and Crawford, with 
many other fierce opponents who had been compelled 
by their sovereign's threats or entreaties to an unwill- 
ing embrace, marched hand in hand to take their 
seats at the board of concord, where they drank to 
each other amid the thunder of the castle guns, and 
the songs and shouts of the citizens. It was an im- 
posing ceremony, but really an idle and hollow farce. 
The deep wounds of feudal hatred, and the sacred duty 
of feudal revenge, were not so easily cured or forgotten ; 
and many of the hands now locked in each other were 
quivering with a desire to find occupation rather in 
grappling the throat than pledging the health of their 
brother. Before the year concluded, all accordingly 
was nearly as bad as before. 

There was one point, however, on which all seemed 
agreed a desire to attack England and avenge the 
death of Mary. So deep was this feeling, that Thirl- 
stane, now raised to the high office of chancellor, in 
closing the parliament, made a stirring appeal to the 

* Historic of James the Sext, p. 229. 


assembled Estates ; and such was the impression of 
his eloquence, that the nobles, in a transport of pity 
and enthusiasm, threw themselves upon their knees 
before the king, and, amid the clang of their weapons 
and imprecations against Elizabeth, took a vow that 
they would hazard their lives and fortunes in the 

These indications encouraged Huntley and the potent 
faction of the Catholic lords to a renewal, or rather 
more active continuance, of their intrigues with Spain 
and the Low Countries. Messengers were despatched 
thither, (not without the connivance of James,) who 
held out hopes to Philip of Scottish assistance in his 
great enterprise against England. *f* Various Jesuits 
and seminary priests in disguise (of whom Gordon and 
Dury were the most active) glided through North- 
umberland into Scotland, proceeded to the late con- 
vention at Edinburgh, and from thence to Aberdeen, 
where they continued their efforts, in conjunction with 
their foreign brethren, for the reestablishment of the 
Catholic faith and the dethronement of Elizabeth.]: 
Apparently, all this was encouraged by the Scottish 
king. It is, indeed, sometimes exceedingly difficult 
to get at the real sentiments of a prince who prided 
himself upon his dissimulation: but, either from policy 
or necessity, he was soon so utterly estranged from 
England, and so completely surrounded by the Spanish 
faction, that Elizabeth began to be in serious alarm. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Carvyle to Walsingham, 3d 
August, 1587. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Car to Walsingham, llth Sept., 
1587. Also, ibid., B.C., Woddrington to Walsingham, 29th April, 1587. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Collingwood to Walsingham, 21st 
May, 1587. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Lord Hunsdon to Burghley, 14th 
November, 1587. 

Jo 87. JAMES vi. 15 

That great princess was at this moment surrounded 
by dangers of no ordinary magnitude. Philip the 
Second of Spain was collecting against her that mighty 
armament, which was idly deemed to be invincible. 
The ports of Spain and Flanders rang with the din 
of arms and the bustle and confusion of military pre- 
paration. The queen had been persuaded by Burgh- 
ley and her chief councillors, that the execution of 
the Queen of Scots would prove a death-blow to the 
Catholic party, extricate her from all her difficulties, 
and confer upon her life and crown a security to which 
she had for many years been a stranger. But she 
was miserably disappointed. The accounts of the 
death of Mary were received by nearly the whole of 
Christendom with one loud burst of astonishment and 
indignation. No sovereign had enforced more rigidly 
than Elizabeth the dogma of the inviolability and 
divine right of princes, and their responsibility to 
God alone. The doctrine was generally received and 
acted upon by her royal allies ; and they now arraign- 
ed her as an apostate from her own principles, and an 
open despiser of all that was holy, just, and true. 
Mary's servants and household were many of them 
foreigners ; and, returning to their homes, spread 
over the continent the touching story of her death. 
The hypocritical pretences of the Queen of England, 
by which she had endeavoured to shield herself from 
the odium of the execution, were generally discredited. 
It was said that, for the gratification of her own pri- 
vate revenge, she had not scrupled to stain her hands 
with the blood of an innocent queen ; and that, to 
escape the infamy of the fact, she had meanly and 
falsely thrown the blame upon an innocent councillor. 
The press teemed throughout Catholic Europe with 


innumerable publications. Histories, poems, pamph- 
lets, and funeral orations, were circulated in every 
quarter on the alleged martyrdom of the Scottish 
queen, and the execrable guilt of her by whom she 
had been murdered. The whole course of Elizabeth's 
public and private life was dissected, attacked, and 
exaggerated ; and she was held up to the detestation 
of the world as the true daughter and inheritrix of 
all the wickedness, cruelty, irreligion, tyranny, and 
lust of her father, Henry the Eighth. The effect of 
all this, and the impression it made upon the Catholic 
mind throughout Christendom, was great : and when 
Philip began his mighty preparations against Eng- 
land, the projected invasion of that country partook 
of something like the sanctity of a crusade. 

Surrounded by such complicated difficulties, it was 
not without alarm that Elizabeth heard of the estrange- 
ment of the Scottish king, and the bold proceedings 
of her enemies the Catholic lords. Confident of the 
assistance of Spain, with whose vast preparations they 
were well acquainted, they hoped to revolutionize 
Scotland, get possession of the king's person, destroy 
his Protestant advisers, and reestablish the Catholic 
religion.* It was one principal branch of their plan 
to produce a diversion against England in Ireland and 
the Western Isles, which should take place at the 
moment of the invasion by the Armada. For the 
accomplishment of these great designs, Lord Maxwell, 
a leading and powerful Catholic lord, was on the con- 
tinent in communication with Spain and Rome; Archi- 
bald Douglas was suspected to be seconding their efforts 
in England, and the disgraced Master of Gray in 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, " f to Walsingham, 1st January, 

1587-8. JAMES VI. 17 

France ; whilst Sir William Stewart, the brother of 
the once-powerful Arran, was busy at the head-quar- 
ters of the Prince of Parma.* In Scotland, Huntley, 
the great leader of the Catholic lords, with Lord Claud 
Hamilton, Mar, Angus, and Bothwell, were prepared, 
on the briefest warning, to assemble a force which the 
king, in his present circumstances of poverty and de- 
sertion, could not control. As was usual in Scotland, 
schemes of private assassination were mixed up with 
plots against the government : not only the Chancellor 
Maitland but the king himself considered their lives 
in danger ;*f* and James, in self-defence, was com- 
pelled to dissemble, and to aim at a neutrality which 
promised a temporary security. J But throughout all 
this the real sentiments of the monarch experienced 
no alteration. He continued firm in his opposition 
to Spain, true to the reformed religion, and ready to 
league with England the moment Elizabeth, throwing 
off her parsimony, showed a sincere determination to 
assist hirn with money and troops. This the immi- 
nent dangers with which she was surrounded at length 
compelled her to do ; and Lord Hunsdon, her cousin, 
who had recently gained an intimate knowledge of the 
intrigues of France by robbing the French ambassa- 
dor, Courcelles, of his despatches, was selected to open 
a communication with the King of Scots. But at this 
moment a circumstance, apparently slight, had nearly 
overturned all. Jane Kennedy, the daughter of a 
noble house, who had attended Mary in her last hours, 
suddenly arrived from France, obtained a private audi- 

* MS. State-paper Office, January, 1587-8. Occurrences out of Scot- 

+ MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula D, fol. Hunsdon to Burghley, 
25th November, 1587. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., same 
to same, 14tb December, 1587 : and ibid., same to same, 27th December, 
1587. I Id. ibid. 



ence of the king, was closeted with him for two hours, 
and gave so touching an account of the tragedy at 
Fotheringay, that James refused to be comforted ; 
and denouncing vengeance, broke off the conferences 
with England. But these feelings were evanescent : the 
violence of the northern earls, the fear of losing Eliza- 
beth and cutting himself out of the succession, restored 
him to his calmer mood ; and he despatched the Laird 
of Carmichael to meet Hunsdon on the Borders at 
Hutton Hall.* All, however, had to be transacted 
with the utmost secrecy ; and nothing could be more 
alarming than the picture of the kingdom drawn by 
the English diplomatist. Huntley and the Catholics, 
he said, were almost in open rebellion, earnestly press- 
ing Philip and the Duke of Parma to attack Eng- 
land through Scotland; and offering, the moment 
the Spaniards made their descent, to join them with 
a body of troops which should overwhelm Elizabeth.^ 
Against this there was little to oppose : for the Scot- 
tish king and the Kirk were on bad terms ; and the 
Chancellor Maitland, the only man of statesmanlike 
views, although in heart a Protestant and a friend to 
England, lived in hourly dread of assassination by 
Bothwell or some of his desperate associates. J Under 
such trying circumstances, it says something for the 
King of Scots that he resisted the high offers made 
to him at this crisis by foreign princes, declared him- 
self the determined opponent of Spain, resolved to 
support the reformed opinions, and cooperated cor- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Hunsdon to Burghley, 23d Janu- 
ary, 1587-8. Also, ibid., same to same, 17th January, 1587-8. 

f MS. 1588-9, State-paper Office. Intercepted letters of Huntley, Mor- 
ton, and Lord Claud Hamilton, in the name of the Catholic gentlemen of 
Scotland, to the King of Spain. This is a decipher hy the noted Phelipps. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Hunsdon to Burghley, 31st March, 

1588. JAMES VI. 19 

dially with the Queen of England. He assured Eliza- 
beth that she could not detest more deeply than 
himself the plots of the Papists ; that none of the 
messengers of Antichrist, their common enemy, should 
be encouraged; and that his single reason for sus- 
pending their usual loving intelligence was a feeling 
that she had failed to vindicate herself from the guilt 
of his mothers blood. To prove his sincerity against 
the Catholics, he summoned his forces, attacked the 
castle of Lochmaben, belonging to Lord Maxwell, who 
had now assumed the title of Morton, and, reinforced 
by an English battering-train, beat the castle about 
the ears of its captain, David Maxwell, whom he 
hanged with six of his men.* This spirit and severity 
enchanted Elizabeth; and she forthwith despatched 
Mr William Ashby to the Scottish court with her 
thanks and congratulations. But the ambassador 
promised far more than the queen had the least in- 
tention of performing. His royal mistress, he said, 
was ready to settle a duchy on her good brother, with 
a yearly pension of five thousand pounds. She would 
immediately raise for him a body-guard of fifty Scot- 
tish gentlemen ; and, to meet the danger of a revolt 
by the Popish lords on the approach of the Armada, 
she would levy a corps of a hundred horse and a hun- 
dred infantry to act upon the Borders, f With these 
high offers James immediately closed ; and Walsing- 
ham, for whose piercing glance and universal intelli- 
gence nothing was too minute or remote, having dis- 
covered that Thomas Fowler, an attached friend of 
the house of Lennox and a favourite of the Scottish 

* Historic of James the Sext, p. 236. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office , William Ashby to Lord Burghley, 
6th August, 1588. 


king, was about to proceed on some private personal 
affairs to Edinburgh, contrived, through his means, to 
open a secret correspondence with James, and Maitland 
his chief minister, which enabled them to traverse and 
overthrow the designs of Huntley and the Spanish 
faction. * All this was of the utmost importance to 
Elizabeth. Ireland was saved from any invasion by 
the Islesmen ; the Borders between England and Scot- 
land were kept quiet; no Scottish auxiliaries were 
permitted to pass over to the service of her enemies ; 
and she was enabled to concentrate her whole naval 
and military energies to meet the great crisis of her 
fate, the meditated invasion of the Armada. This 
she did, accordingly, in the noblest and most effective 
manner : and the result is familiar to all, in the utter 
discomfiture and dispersion of that mighty armament. 

Not long after this occurred the assassination of the 
Duke of Guise and his brother the Cardinal of Lorraine, 
which removed two of her most powerful and talented 
opponents : so that, although the clouds still lowered, 
the imminency of the danger on the side of Spain and 
France had passed. 

James now naturally looked for the performance of 
her promises ; but he was cruelly disappointed. With 
the cessation of alarm, Elizabeth's deep-rooted habits 
of parsimony revived : the promised duchy with its 
princely revenue, the annual pension, the intended 
body-guard, the English auxiliaries to act upon the 
Borders, melted away and were no more heard of. 
Ashby, the ambassador, it was alleged, had much 
exceeded his instructions ; and the king, in great 
wrath, complained that he had been dandled and duped 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Walsingham, 13th November, 
1588. Also, ibid., Fowler to Walsingham, 18th December, 1588. 

1588. JAMES VI. 21 

like a boy.* These irritated feelings were encouraged 
by the Spanish faction. Many urged the king to seek 
revenge. Bothwell, ever anxious for broils, boasted 
that, without charging his master a farthing, he would 
bleed Elizabeth's exchequer at the rate of two hundred 
thousand crowns a-year, or lay the country waste to 
the gates of Newcastle. The more moderate party 
hardly dared to advise ; and the Chancellor Maitland, 
hitherto the firm friend of England, found himself 
compelled to unite with Huntley. The character of 
the young prince, and the dangerous and unsettled 
state of Scotland at this time, were strikingly described 
by Fowler in one of his letters to Walsingham. He 
found James, he said, a virtuous prince, stained by 
no vice, and singularly acute in the discussion of all 
matters of State, but indolent and careless ; and so 
utterly profuse, that he gave to every suitor, even to 
vain youths and proud fools, whatever they desired. 
He did not scruple to throw away, in this manner, 
even the lands of his crown ; and so reckless was he 
of wealth, that, in Fowler's opinion, if he were to get 
a million from England, it would all go the same way. 
His pleasures were hunting, of which he was passion- 
ately fond ; and playing at the mawe, an English game 
of chance, in which he piqued himself on excelling. 
In his dress he was slovenly, and his court and house- 
hold were shabby and unkingly ; but he sat often in 
council, was punctual in his religious duties, not miss- 
ing the sermons thrice a-week ; and his manners be- 
trayed no haughtiness or pride. It was evident to 
Fowler that he detested the rude and ferocious bear- 
ing of his great nobles, who were content to obey him 
in trifles, but in all serious matters, touching life or 

* MS. State-paper OSaee,- Fowler to Walsingham, 2Pth December, 1588. 


justice, took the law into their own hands, and openly 
defied him. Upon this subject Fowler's expressions 
were remarkable. When it came to the execution of 
justice, it was evident, he said, his subjects feared him 
not, whilst he was terrified to deal with so many at 
once, looking tremblingly to the fate of his ancestors, 
of whom such as attempted to execute justice with 
severity, were uniformly put to death by their nobles.* 
Often had the king assured the intimate friend who 
wrote these letters, that it was misery to be constrained 
to live amid the wickedness of his barons, and that 
they made his existence a burden to him. Nor could 
he look for redress to his council. Even the wisest 
and greatest amongst them, not excepting the Chan- 
cellor Maitland, were infinitely more occupied in 
private quarrels and family feuds than with the public 
business of the State ; and, to increase their indivi- 
dual power, were content to flatter the king in the 
basest manner, and become suitors at court for every- 
thing ungodly and unreasonable. Well might Wal- 
singham exclaim, in answer to this sad, dark picture 
of regal weakness and feudal misrule, " God send that 
young prince, being of himself every way well-inclined, 
good, wise, and faithful counsellors, that may carry 
him in a constant course for the upholding of religion 
and the establishing of justice in that realm."" [ As 
a cure for this miserable condition, the English secre- 
tary recommended a Court of Star-chamber, and a 
change of councillors from the great nobles to the 
barons and burgesses. But neither measure was prac- 
ticable ; and Maitland, at this moment James" 1 chief 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Fowler to Walsingham, 18th Decem- 
ber, 1588. Also, ibid., Fowler to Walsingham, 29th December, 1588. 

f- MS. Letter, State-paper Office, original draft, Walsingham to Fowler, 
&<; December, 1588. 

) 588-9. JAMES VI. 23 

adviser, assured Fowler that the death of the Guises, 
instead of being attended with any favourable result 
in strengthening the English party in Scotland, would 
have an opposite effect. " Your queen," said he, 
" thinks that she has lost in Guise a great enemy, and 
my master a great friend. Be assured it is not so. 
For a long time the king hath had no dealings with 
the Guise : he loved him not ; nor is he sorry but 
rather glad that he is gone. But, mark me, this will 
make the King of Spain seek my master, and esteem 
him. more than before : for by the Duke of Guise that 
prince thought to have had all France at his devotion, 
except the Protestants ; to have subdued even them 
ere long, and to have been so strong as to have had 
his revenge on England, without our help here ; but 
now Scotland is his only card to play against England, 
and that you will see ere long."* 

These predictions were soon fully verified. The 
Popish earls, led by Huntley and Errol, entered into 
a more active and deep-laid correspondence with Spain 
and Rome. Large sums of money were remitted to 
them from Philip and the pope ; and letters were 
intercepted by Burghley, which proved, in the clearest 
manner, an intended rebellion. They were seized on 
the person of a Scotsman, who was detected carrying 
them to the Prince of Parma ; and expressed, on the 
part of Huntley, Morton, Errol, and the rest of the 
Catholic noblemen and gentry of Scotland, their in- 
finite regret at the discomfiture of the Armada, and 
their sorrow that the fleet had passed so near their 
coast without visiting them, when they were able to 
have raised a force such as could not have been resisted. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Fowler to Walsingham, 4th January, 


They assured the Spanish king, that the outlay of a 
single Galeas in Scotland would have gone farther 
than ten on the broad seas ; and that six thousacd 
Spaniards once landed there, would be joined by an 
infinite multitude of Scotsmen animated with the bit- 
terest hatred to England, and who would serve him as 
faithfully as his own subjects. Huntley at the same 
time assured Parma, that his late confession and his 
signature to the Protestant Articles had been extorted 


from him against his conscience ; but that in spite of 
all this he continued a true Catholic, and by this pre- 
tended change had acquired a greater power over the 
young king. In the same letters Errol professed the 
utmost devotion to the Catholic faith, congratulating 
himself on having been called from darkness to light ; 
and Bruce informed Parma of the seasonable arrival 
of Chisholm, their agent, with the large sum intrusted 
to him, and of their having secured the Earl of Both- 
well, who, though still a Protestant, had been bribed 
to embrace their party. 

Copies of these letters were instantly sent down to 
James, who at first disbelieved the whole story, and 
dealt so leniently with the principal conspirators, that 
the plot, instead of being crushed in its first growth, 
spread its ramifications throughout the country, espe- 
cially the northern counties, and grew more dangerous 
than before. Huntley was, indeed, imprisoned ; but 
his confinement was a mere farce. The king visited 
him in his chamber and dined there ; permitted his 
wife and servants to communicate freely with him ; 
wrote him an affectionate remonstrance, and even 
kissed and caressed him.* This could end only one 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Burghley, Edinburgh, 10th 
March, 1588-9. Also, ibid., same to same, 14th March, 1588-9. 

1 589. JAMES VI. 25 

way. The captive, after a brief imprisonment, during 
which he made the most solemn asseverations of his 
innocence, was restored by the too credulous monarch 
to his former authority, and basely abused the royal 
forgiveness by seducing the fierce and potent Earl of 
Bothwell from his allegiance, and breaking into open 

This insurrection at first assumed the most formid- 
able appearance : the whole of Scotland north of 
Aberdeen was on the eve of revolt ; and Bothwell 
threatened, that if James ventured to take arms 
against the remoter insurgents, he would ravage the 
south in his absence and compel him to draw home- 
wards. But this bravado, instead of intimidating, 
effectually roused the king, who, for the first and 
almost the last time in his life, exhibited a military 
spirit worthy of his ancestors. An army was instant- 
ly assembled ; a conspiracy for the seizure of James 
and his chief minister, Maitland the chancellor, 
promptly discovered and defeated.* The Protestant 
nobles, led by the young Duke of Lennox and the 
chancellor, rallied in great strength ; the Earl of Mar, 
the three Lords Warden, Hume, Cessford, and Car- 
michael, the Earls of Morton, Angus, Marshal, 
Athole, and the Master of Glammis, gathered and 
concentrated their forces beyond the Forth ; and the 
monarch, who was described by Ashby the English 
ambassador, as " fellon crabbed" pushed on, at the 
head of his troops, to St J ohnston, loudly declaring 
his resolution to wreck his rebels, and destroy them 
with fire and sword. ^ 

This vigour and resolution had the best effect. The 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Burghley, 8th April, 1589. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Fowler to Burghley, 9th April, 1589. 


formidable stories of the mighty strength and pre- 
parations of the Catholic earls were found false and 
ridiculous, their troops melted away. BothwelFs 
force, which was to effect such wonders, soon shrunk 
to thirty horse; and James, advancing by Dundee 
and Brechin, carried everything before him, and com- 
pelled the rebels to evacuate Aberdeen, the centre of 
their strength. It had been expected that the enemy 
would here give battle, but their courage failed them. 
Crawford secretly fled ; others openly deserted ; and 
the king, who had shown unusual hardihood, and 
watched two nights in his arms, was disappointed of 
an opportunity to win his spurs. But the expedition 
was completely successful : Huntley was driven from 
Aberdeen to Strathbogie, his own country, where he 
surrendered himself prisoner, and was carried in 
triumph by the king to Edinburgh. Slaines, the 
principal castle of Errol, was taken and garrisoned ; 
the Lairds of Frendraught, Grant, and Macintosh, 
the powerful clans of the Drummonds and the For- 
beses, with many others who had been seduced from 
their allegiance by the Catholic faction, submitted 
themselves; and James, in high spirits and exultation, 
returned to his capital with the resolution of pro- 
ceeding instantly against Bothwell. But this fierce 
chief, who was now crest-fallen and in no state to 
make resistance, threw himself on his knees before 
the king in the chancellor's garden, and was sent 
prisoner to Holyrood.* 

A convention of the nobility was now held at 
Edinburgh ; and the rebel earls, Huntley and Craw- 
ford, having been brought to trial and convicted of 
high treason, escaped with imprisonment, contrary 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Walsingham, 12th May, 1589. 

1589. JAMES vi. 27 

to the remonstrances of the leaders of the Kirk, who 
clamoured for the death of idolaters. Their* corifes- 
ston, however, had softened the king ; and theirnigh 
connexions rendered it dangerous to use extremities. 
Bothwell also was brought to trial ; but, after his 
usual fierce fashion, declared his innocence ; reviled 
and accused the chancellor, and stood on his defence. 
The circumstance of his being in arms against the 
government, and his cordial cooperation with the 
northern rebellion, was, indeed, notorious to all ; but 
the dread of his power and revenge intimidated the 
court. The trial was prolonged till midnight ; and it 
required the presence and remonstrances of the king 
to procure a conviction. He was then shut up in 
Tantallon ; * but was enlarged, after a few months, 
on payment of a heavy fine to the crown, -f* 

This untisual exertion of James in destroying the 
designs of Huntley and the Catholics, was followed by 
a fit of extraordinary activity on another subject : his 
marriage with Denmark. At the time of the first 
proposal of a matrimonial alliance with this kingdom, 
Arran was in power, and had engaged to Elizabeth 
that his royal master should continue single for three 
years. Accordingly, on the arrival of the Danish 
ambassadors, they found themselves treated with such 
irritating coldness and neglect, that it required much 
management on the part of Sir James Melvil to pre- 
vent an open rupture, and convince them that the 
affront proceeded not from the young king but his 
haughty minister. J His endeavours, however, suc- 
ceeded ; and although the Danish monarch, in some 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Walsingham, 25th May, 
1589. Ibid., Fowler to Walsingham, 26th May, 1589. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Walsingham, 26th Aug., 1589. 
J Melvil's Memoirs, Bannatyne edition, p. 337. 


disgust, disposed of his eldest daughter, the princess- 
royal, the intended bride of Jarnes, to the Duke of 
Brunswick, he afterwards declared his willingness to 
bestow her sister, the Princess Anne, upon the Scot- 
tish king. The intrigues of England, however, con- 
tinued. Elizabeth, who had gained to her interest 
the Chancellor Maitland, recommended the Princess of 
Navarre ; and the celebrated poet Du Bartas visited 
Scotland on a secret mission to propose the match. 
This preference probably proceeded from a suspicion 
that the Princess Anne was not sound in her attach- 
ment to the Protestant opinions, which afterwards 
turned out to be well founded ; but James utterly 
disrelished the dictation of the queen and the boldness 
of his council. It was time, he felt, that in so weighty 
a matter as his marriage he should vindicate his liberty 
of choice and follow his own judgment : lie had, be- 
sides, heard a report that the Princess of Navarre was 
old and crooked ; and although his great nobles affected 
the alliance with France, the bulk of his people, the 
burgh towns and the merchants, were all keen for 
Denmark.* This decided the young king; and he 
now despatched the Earl Marshal, with a noble suite, 
to proceed to Copenhagen and conclude the match. 

On his arrival, the Scottish ambassador found that, 
if cold or slow at first, the Danish court were hot 
enough (to use Ashby's expression to Walsingham) 
as soon as there was a serious proposal made. All 
was soon arranged, and the utmost bustle prevailed. 
In some amusing contemporary letters, the queen-mo- 
ther is described as the soul and centre of the whole 
preparations perpetually buying silks, or cheapening 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Walsingham, 22d July, 15P9. 
Melvil's Memoirs, pp. 363, 364. 

1589. JAMES VI. 29 

jewellery, or urging on a corps of five hundred tailors, 
who sat daily stitching and getting up the most 
princely apparel. Women, guards, pages, lackeys, 
all, from the highest to the lowest, who were to com- 
pose the suite of the bride, received orders to hold 
themselves in readiness. A fleet of twelve sail with 
brass ordnance, was fitted out to transport her ; and 
it was reported that she was likely to land in Scotland 
before James' wedding hose were ready or a house 
furnished to receive her.* But these anticipations 
proved fallacious ; and the king, who had worked up 
his usually phlegmatic temper to an extraordinary 
pitch of chivalrous admiration, was kept for some 
weeks in an agony of suspense by contrary winds and 
contrary counsels. This did not prevent him, however, 
from forwarding to his ambassadors a gentle remon- 
strance touching the smallness of the "tocher," or 
dowry ; but Denmark refused to add a farthing to it ; 
and the monarch, affecting the utmost anxiety for the 
young princess, who, he had persuaded himself, was 
utterly in despair and love-sick at the delay, urged 
her instant departure.^ At length she sailed ; but 
the squadron encountered a tremendous storm, which 
shattered and dispersed the ships, and compelled them 
to return to Norway in so leaky and disabled a con- 
dition, that every hope of resuming their voyage for 
that season was abandoned.]: During all this period 
of suspense, the young king's romantic agitation con- 
tinued. He was a true lover, as Ashby described 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Walsingham, 22d July, 1589. 
Fowler to Walsingham, 5th August, 1589. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Fowler to Walsingham, 5th August, 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Ashby to Walsingham, 5th, 24th 
Sept., 1589. Also, ibid., same to same, 2d Oct., 1589. Ibid., same to 
same, 10th Oct., 1589. Ibid., same to Queen Elizabeth, 23d Oct., 1589. 


him to Walsingham in a letter from the court at 
Holyrood ; thinking every day a year till he saw his 
love and joy approach : at one time, flying to God, 
and commanding prayers and fasting for her safe 
arrival ; at another, falling upon the Scottish witches, 
to whose unhallowed rites and incantations he ascribed 
the tempests which delayed her. Nor were these pre- 
tended agonies : for when at last the news arrived of 
her danger and escape, he suddenly adopted the idea 
of proceeding in person to Norway, and determined 
(to use the poetic phraseology of Ashby to Queen 
Elizabeth) " to commit himself and his hopes, Leander 
like, to the waves of the ocean, all for his beloved 
Hero's sake. 1 ' * 

This resolution he carried into effect on the twenty- 
second of October embarking at Leith, accompanied 
by the Chancellor Maitland, who had been forced to 
wave his repugnance to the match ; by his favourite 
minister and chaplain Mr David Lindsay, and a select 
suite of his nobility. On the day after his departure, 
a declaration of the reasons which had prompted so 
unusual a step was delivered to the privy-council, and 
afterwards made public. It was written wholly in the 
king's hand, and is ludiqrously characteristic of the 
monarch. We learn from his own lips that it had 
been very generally asserted by his loving subjects, 
that their sovereign was a " barren stock," indisposed 
to marriage, and careless of having children to succeed 
him in the throne. His mind, too, had been attacked 
in most unmannerly terms : it was insinuated that the 
chancellor " led him by the nose," as if he were an 
unreasonable creature, a mere child in intellect and 
resolution, or an " impudent ass that could do nothing 

* Spottiswood, pp. 377, 378. 

1589. JAMES VI. 31 

of himself." To confute the first slander, he had 
determined to seek his queen forthwith, and marry 
her as speedily as the winds and waves would permit. 
To give the lie to the second aspersion, he assured his 
people, on the honour of a prince, that he alone, un- 
known to chancellor or council, had conceived the first 
idea of this winter voyage ; that his resolution was 
taken in the solitude of his chamber at Craiffmillar ; 


and that, till the preparations were concluded, and he 
was ready to step on board, the purpose was shut up 
in his own bosom. "Let no man, therefore, (he con- 
cluded,) grudge at this proceeding, but conform to the 
directions I have left."* 

These directions, notwithstanding the undignified 
singularity of the paper which accompanied them, 
were marked 'by prudence and good sense. The chief 
authority during the royal absence was committed to 
the Duke of Lennox, who was made president of the 
privy-council. Bothwell, whose turbulent disposition 
and power upon the Borders rendered it dangerous for 
him to be disobliged, was conciliated by being placed 
next in rank and authority to Lennox. The other 
councillors were, the treasurer, comptroller, the lord 
privy-seal, the captain of the castle of Edinburgh, 
with the lord advocate and clerk-register. A com- 
mittee of noblemen was ordered to attend "in their 
courses," at Edinburgh, for fifteen days : the Earls of 
Angus and Athole, with Lords Fleming and Inrier- 
meith, to begin ; and the next course to be kept by 
the Earls of Mar and Morton, with Lords Seton and 
Yester. The chief military power, as lord-lieutenant, 
was intrusted to Lord Hamilton, to be assisted in 
any emergency by Lords Boyd, Herries, Maxwell - 

* Spottiswood, pp. 377, 378-379. 


Home, Cessford, and other principal barons within the 
marches. All conventions of the nobles were pro- 
hibited during the king's absence ; and the ministers 
and preachers enjoined to exhort the people to obedi- 
ence, and to commend their sovereign and his journey 
in their prayers to God.* 

Having given these directions, the king set sail ; 
and his insulated fit of love and chivalry met with its 
reward. After an initiatory gale, just sufficient to try 
the royal courage, the squadron reached Upsal on the 
fifth day, and James rode to the palace, where his 
inamorata awaited him ; hurried, " booted and spurred," 
into her presence ; and, in the rude fashion of Scot- 
land, would have kissed her, had he not been repulsed 
by the offended maidenhood of Denmark. But she was 
soon appeased; explanations followed ; the manners of 
the royal bridegroom's land were comprehended ; and, 
"after a few words privily spoken between his majesty 
and her, there passed," we are told by a homely chron- 
icler of the day, "familiarity and kisses." { 

The marriage took place (November twenty-three) 
in the church at Upsal : the ceremony being performed 
by the king's favourite minister, Mr David Lindsay. 
Much rejoicing and banqueting, as usual, succeeded ; 
and it appears to have required little argument in the 
queen-mother to persuade her new son-in-law to eschew 
the dangers of a winter voyage, and convert his in- 
tended visit of twenty days into a residence of nearly 
six months in Denmark. This interval was passed 
by the king to his entire satisfaction. The time being 
divided between in-door revelries and pageants ; out- 
door sports ; discussions on astronomy with Tycho 

* Spottiswood, p. 379. 

t Moyse's Memoirs, Bannatyne edition, p. 81. 

1590. JAMES VI. S3 

Brahe, whom he visited at Uranibourg; disputes with 
the learned Hemingius, on predestination and other 
points in divinity ; and consultations with the Chan- 
cellor Maitland, regarding the safest method of curbing 
the overgrown power of his nobles, and vindicating, on 
his return, the authority of the crown. In the spring 
he determined on his voyage home ; and carrying his 
youthful queen along with him, accompanied by a 
splendid retinue of Danish nobles and ladies,* arrived 
at Leith on the first of May, 1590. The royal pair 
were received, on disembarking, by the Duke of Len- 
nox, Lord Hamilton, the Earl of Bothwell, and a 
crowd of his nobility. A Latin oration of welcome 
was followed by a sermon of Mr Patrick Galloway ; 
and after divine service, the king, mounting his horse, 
followed by his youthful bride in her chariot, drawn 
by eight horses gorgeously caparisoned, proceeded to 
the palace of Holyrood. She was encircled by a 
galaxy of Danish and Scottish beauty, and attended 
by all the chivalry of her new dominions. 

Her coronation foll6wed not long after, performed 
on a scale of unusual magnificence, and only clouded 
by a dispute between the king and the Kirk, on the 
subject of anointing ; a ceremony represented on the 
side of the Puritans as Jewish, Papal, and abominably 
superstitious : on the other, as Christian, holy, and 
Catholic. The royal arguments, however, were en- 
forced by a threat that one of the bishops should be 
sent for. The dread of this worse profanation procured 
the admission of the lesser : the ceremony was allowed 
to proceed according to the king's wishes ; and, to use 
the naive expression of a contemporary, " the Countess 
of Mar, having taken the queen's right arm, and opened 

* Rymer's Foedera, vol. xvi., p. 51-60. 


the craigs of her gown, Mr Robert Bruce immediately 
poured forth upon those parts of her breast and arm 
of quhilk the clothes were removed, a bonny quantity 
of oil."* 

The coronation was followed by the queen's tri- 
umphal entry into her new capital ; a ceremony con- 
ducted by the worthy merchants and burgesses on a 
scale of splendour which argued increasing wealth and 
success in commercial enterprise. But the particulars, 
though curiously illustrative of manners, would fatigue 
by their complexity. Latin addresses were, as usual 
in this age, the great staple of compliment ; and when 
the Danish princess entered the gates, she was greeted 
in a classical panegyric by " Master John Russell, 
appointed thereto by the township"; whilst the son 
of the orator, " little Master John Russell," who had 
been artificially and wonderfully shut up in a gilded 
globe stuck upon the top of the gate, fluttered down 
in the dress of an angel, and delivered to her majesty 
the keys of the city in silver. + 

* The Coronation of the Querns Majestie, p. 53. One of the curious tracts, 
reprinted by Mr Gibson-Craig in his interesting volume presented to the 
Bannatyne Club, entitled, " Papers Relative to the Marriage of James the 
Sixth of Scotland." 

f Papers Relative to the Marriage of James the Sixth, pp. 39, 40. 













Sixtus V. 


Henry III. 

Rudolph II. 

Philip II. 

Philip II. 

Urban VII. 

Henry IV. 

Gregory XIV. 

Innocent IX. 

Clement VIII. 

THE period which James passed in Denmark was one 
of unusual and extraordinary tranquillity in Scotland. 
Previous to his departure, the king had exerted him- 
self to conciliate Elizabeth, and many circumstances 
in his conduct had concurred to please this princess. 
His cordial cooperation against the Spanish king ; 
the readiness with which he had furnished her with 
a body of auxiliaries, commanded by the Laird of 
Wemyss ; his spirit and success in putting down the 
rebellion of the Catholic earls, and his sending out of 
his dominions a body of Spanish soldiers and mariners, 
whose vessels (part of the once formidable Armada) 
had been wrecked and stranded on the northern shores 
of Scotland : * all this had been exceedingly agreeable 
to the Queen of England ; and she repaid it by pre- 

* " To the number of 660 men, of whom 400 were serviceable, and the 
rest sick, miserable wretches." They were shipped from Leith, '25th July, 
1589. MS. Letter, State paper-Office, Ashby to Burghley, 28th July, 1589. 
Also, ibid., same to Walsingham, 22d July, 1589. 


serving the most friendly relations during the absence 
of the king. Nor was the peace of the country, in 
this brief and happy interval, broken by the usual 
sanguinary baronial feuds ; although, as the result 
fully showed, they were silenced, not eradicated. 
Huntley, Errol, Crawford, Maxwell, and the great 
body of the Roman Catholic party, had too recently 
experienced the weight of the royal vengeance to think 
of active hostility for some time ; and the judicious 
division of power between the Duke of Lennox, Lord 
Hamilton, and the Earl of Bothwell, balanced by the 
authority committed to Angus and Athole, Mar and 
Morton, with other great barons, produced the best 
effects, and put all upon their honour and good conduct. 
The Kirk, too, was in a state of tranquillity rejoi- 
cing in the recent detection and discomfiture of Roman 
Catholic intrigue, looking forward in calm exultation 
to the utter extermination of prelatical principles, and 
anticipating no distant triumph to what it believed to 
be the truth. 

On the return of the king, therefore, all at first 
appeared tranquil ; but it needed no deep discernment 
to detect the existence of many latent causes of dis- 
turbance. The great struggle between the principles 
of the Reformation and the ancient faith was lulled 
only, not concluded.* The minor, but sometimes not 
less bitter contest between Prelacy and Presbyterian- 
ism, was merely suspended for a time. Amongst the 
nobles, the right of private war ; the ties of rnanrent ; 
the abuses of baronial jurisdictions ; the existence of 
blood-feuds, which often from trifling quarrels depopu- 

* MS. Letter, Stats-paper Office, Sir R. Bowes to Burghley, 16th May, 
1590. The Roman Catholic faction were called the " Confederates of the 
Brig of Dee." 

] ,:90. JAMES vr. 37 

lat'ed whole districts and counties ; and in the Isles, 
and remoter provinces of the north, the lawless and 
fierce habits of the petty chieftains and pirate adven- 
turers, who assumed the state and independence of sea 
kings : all these circumstances combined to threaten 


the public tranquillity, and to convince the king that 
the sky so clear on his arrival might soon be black 
with its wonted tempests. 

Amid these elements of political strife and nascent 
revolution, two men were to be seen evidently destined, 
from their power and political position, to take the chief 
lead in State affairs. Both were well aware of the 
easy and indolent temper of the king ; both had re- 
solved to engross to themselves the supreme power in 
the government : and for some years, the history of 
the country is little else than the conflicts of their 
intrigue and ambition. These were, Maitland of 
Thirlstane the chancellor, James 1 favourite and prime 
minister, who had accompanied his royal master to 
Denmark ; and Francis Stewart earl of Bothwell, 
the king's near relative, and, perhaps, the most dar- 
ing, powerful, and unprincipled of all the higher 
nobles. Maitland, born of an ancient family, but 
only the second son of a simple knight, (the blind 
poet Sir Richard Maitland of Lethington,) belonged 
to the body of the lesser barons ; but he was connected 
with some of the greatest houses in the land. He 
had risen by his commanding talents to the highest 
legal office in the kingdom ; and he was strong in the 
friendship of his prince, and the respect of the Kirk 
and the great body of the middle classes the rich 
burghers, merchants, and artisans. During his ab- 
sence in Denmark with his royal master, they had 
held many grave consultations on the broken, disjoint- 


ed, and miserable state of his kingdom. The extreme 
poverty of the crown, the insolence and intolerable 
oppressions of the higher barons, who, strong in their 
hereditary power, dictated to the monarch on all the 
affairs of his government, thrust themselves uncalled- 
for into his councils, attended or absented themselves 
from court at their pleasure, and derided alike the 
command of their prince or the decisions of the laws : 
all this was pointed out by the chancellor to the king, 
and the absolute necessity of some speedy and efficient 
reformation insisted on. It was time, he said, that 
the monarch, who was now in the prime of his years 
and vigour, allied by marriage to a powerful prince, 
the heir of a mighty kingdom, and able, from his 
position, to take a leading part in European politics, 
should no longer be bearded by every baron who chose 
to consider himself as a born councillor of the realm. 
It was time that those illegal coalitions of the nobles, 
whose object it had so often been to seize the king's 
person, and compel him into an approval of all their 
atrocious designs, should be broken up, and for the 
future rendered impossible. To effect this, the crown 
must strengthen itself in every possible way : it must 
support its judges and officers in the execution of 
their duty against baronial oppression and insolence ; 
it must increase its revenues by a prudent economy 
and retrenchment of the superfluous offices in the 
royal household ; it must save its escheats, its ward- 
ships, its fines, its rentals, and all the sources of its 
wealth, to form a fund for all emergencies, but espe- 
cially for the support of a body of waged troops, who, 
by their constant readiness for service, and superior 
discipline, might overawe the nobles and their vassals. 
To effect this would require some sacrifices on the 

1590. JAMES VI. 39 

part of the prince. Amongst these, a more rigid and 
practical attention to business, a correction of the 
mischievous habit of granting every petition without 
inquiry, and a resolution to hold himself more distant 
and dignified to his nobility, were absolutely neces- 
sary ; but if ready to consent to these, it would not, 
he said, be difficult to effect a thorough reformation ; 
and he the chancellor, for his part, was ready to back 
the king to the utmost of his power to accomplish it. 
To this end, he represented to James the wisdom of 
keeping up the present friendly relations with Eng- 
land, and the necessity of watching the motions of 
Huntley and the Roman Catholic party, who, though 
apparently subdued and silent, were still powerful in 
the kingdom, busy in their intrigues with Spain, and 
ready to seize any opportunity for a new effort.* Nor 
was there any reason why this large and powerful 
body of men should despair of success, but rather the 
contrary. Ample proof of this may be found in a 
remarkable paper in the hand of Lord Burghley, writ- 
ten shortly before James" 1 arrival from Denmark, and 
drawn up apparently for his own guidance, which 
brings forward, in clear contrast, the comparative 
strength of the Catholic and Protestant parties in 
Scotland. From it we learn, that all the northern 
part of the kingdom, including the counties of Inver- 
ness, Caithness, Sutherland, and Aberdeen, with 
Moray, and the sheriffdoms of Buchan, of Angus, of 
Wigton, and of Nithsdale, were either wholly, or for 
the greater part, in the interest of the Roman Catho- 
lic party, commanded mostly by noblemen who secretly 
adhered to that faith, and directed in their movements 

* MS. State-paper Office, Sir R. Bowes to Lord Burghley, 16th May, 


by Jesuits and priests, who were concealed in various 
parts of the country, especially in Angus. On the 
other hand, the counties of Perth and Stirling, the 
populous shire of Fife, and the counties of Lanark, 
Dumbarton, and Renfrew, including the rich district 
of Clydesdale, were, with few exceptions, Protestant ; 
whilst the counties of Ayr and Linlithgow were 
dubious, and could not be truly ranged either on one 
side or the other.* Are we to be surprised that, in 
a country thus divided, and with a prince so little 
able to adopt a firm and determined line of policy as 
James then was, the struggle between the two parties 
should long be kept up with increasing obstinacy and 
asperity ? But it is necessary to leave these general 
remarks and resume our narrative. 

In the end of May, the .Danish commissioners and 
nobles, who had accompanied their young princess to 
Scotland, took leave of the Scottish monarch, and re- 
turned to Denmark. It had been arranged between 
James and his chief minister Maitland, that no at- 
tempt at reformation should be made till these stran- 
gers had left the country ; but scarcely had they 
embarked, when the king exhibited an unusual cou- 
rage and activity, by making an effort to seize, with 
his own hand, the Laird of Niddry, a baron who had 
been guilty of a foul murder, and was protected by 
Bothwell. This energy, although unsuccessful at the 
moment, (for the culprit, receiving warning, escaped,) 
had a good effect in convincing the country that he 
was in earnest ; and about the same time the strictest 
regulations as to audience were enforced at the palace. 
Of this an instance occurred soon after, which made 

* MS. State-paper Office. Names of the Terras and Noblemen in Scot- 
land, and how they are Affected. 1589. 

1590. JAMES VI. 41 

some noise. Lord Hamilton, the first nobleman in 
the country, and heir-apparent to the throne, sought, 
as usual, to enter the king's presence-chamher, but 
was stopped at the door by Sandilands, one of the 
royal suite, who told him the king was quiet, and 
would see no one. " I was sent for," said Hamilton ; 
" I am ready to serve my prince, and thought to have 
access freely as I was wont; but you may tell the 
king, that this new order will offend more than me." 
He then left the palace in a high fume, and would 
have ridden home had he not been better advised. 
James afterwards good humouredly appeased him ; 
observing, that it ill became the heir-apparent to be 
angry with the old laird, meaning himself. Bowes, 
however, who was at court, and told the anecdote to 
Burghley, observed, that such new restrictions gave 
deep offence in Scotland, and caused much murmuring 
with a proud nobility long accustomed to have the 
freest access to their sovereign.* 

Such discontent, however small in its beginning, 
soon spread widely ; and unknown evils and reforms 
being generally magnified in anticipation, the king^s 
intentions created an alarm, which showed itself in a 
coalition between those who hitherto had been in 
constant and bitter collision the Catholic faction, 
known by the name of the Confederates of the Brig of 
Dee, and the Protestant associates of the Enterprise 
at Stirling. The Earls of Huntley, Errol, Bothwell, 
and Montrose, began to league together ; and James 
had at first resolved to attempt a stroke of State policy 
by committing them to ward, bringing them to trial 
for their former offences, and at once destroying so 
dangerous a combination. But the attempt was 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 23d May, 1590, Bowes to Burghley. 


deemed too hazardous ; and it was judged more pru- 
dent to temporize, and keep up the two factions, bal- 
ancing the one against the other. * 

A convention of the nobles was appointed to be 
held early in June. " The king," said Bowes to 
Burghley, alluding to his projected improvements, 
" according to his public promise in Edinburgh, and 
solemn protestations to some noblemen, ministers, 
and well-affected, is resolved to reform his house, 
council, and sessions, and to banish all Jesuits and 
Papists. He purposeth, further, to resume into his 
hands sundry of his own possessions now in the hold- 
ing of others ; to advance his 'revenues with some 
portions of ecclesiastical livings, and to draw to due 
obedience all persons attainted at horn, excommuni- 
cated, or otherwise disobedient. In the execution of 
which things," continued the ambassador, " he will 
find no little difficulty : for I have heard that many 
intend to seek to defeat and stay the king's course 
herein ; and that sundry of the sessions will stand in 
law to hold their places, notwithstanding any charge 
to be given to avoid them."-f- 

James, for some time, was active and serious in these 
reforms. His household was greatly reduced in its 
expenditure. After a general dismissal of officers, 
which occasioned many murmurs, the gentlemen per- 
sonally attendant on royalty were cut down from 
thirty to four, with two pages ; and the monarch 
drew up, in his own hand, some principal matters 
relative to domestic and foreign policy, upon which he 
required the immediate advice of his privy-council. 
They must consider, he said, the state of the strengths 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 23d May, 1590, Bovres to Burghley. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 31st May, 1590, Bowes to Burghley. 

1590. JAMES vi. 43 

and munitions, and the necessary provision to be made 
for the defence of the kingdom, in case of foreign in- 
vasion ; the treaties required to be entered into, for 
the preservation of foreign amity ; the best measures 
to be adopted for the procuring secret foreign intelli- 
gence ; the " griefs of the nobility and people, as well 
against the king as the government of his councillors ; 
the necessity of a rigid investigation into the true 
state of the realm ; " the " ettling " * and disposition 
of the nobility, and other persons of power and credit: 
they must discover who were well affected to the true 
religion ; who carried away by the persuasion of Jesuits 
and Papists ; what was the best medicine to cure 
diversities in religion, and heal the bloody wounds 
occasioned by feuds and family quarrels ; what were 
the true causes of the decay of the rents of the crown ; 
and lastly, they must point out the best method to 
enforce obedience to the acts of the last parliament, 
and declare what properly belonged to every office of 
the estate. Such were the grave and weighty matters 
which the king now brought before his council. "f* 

But these were not all : the monarch had resolved 
to exert his utmost efforts to heal the wounds, not of 
Scotland only, but of Europe, by establishing a peace 
between England and Spain. To effect this, he de- 
spatched Colonel Stewart and Sir John Skene on a 
mission to the princes of Germany, to persuade the 
Palsgrave, the Duke of Saxony, the Marquess of 
Brandenburg, and the rest of these potentates, of the 
absolute necessity of interfering between these two 
mighty powers ; and to recommend them to send am- 

* The " ettling," the " aim." To ettle ; to aim. The aim and leading 
objects of the nobles. 

+ MS. State-paper Office. Heads for our Privy Council, May, 1590. 
Set down by the King of Spots. 


bassadors to England, France, and Spain, who might 
remonstrate on the miserable consequences of the con- 
tinuance of the war. If Spain were obstinate, a gen- 
eral league was to be concluded amongst the princes 
for the preservation of " the common cause of true 
religion, and their ports were to be shut against Philip 
till he was reduced to reason."* 

These great designs the king communicated to 
Elizabeth by Sir John Carmichael, whom he sent to 
the English court with a copy of the Instructions 
furnished to his German ambassadors ; and, as his 
exchequer was at this time utterly impoverished, he 
requested that princess to lend him sufficient to de- 
fray the expenses of their voyage ; declaring his readi- 
ness, in return, to place upon his privy-council any 
nobleman whom she recommended, and to exert his 
utmost strength in crushing the Roman Catholic fac- 
tion, who were renewing their intrigues with Spain. -f- 
The " Band " or Covenant, which united Huntley, 
Errol, and their associates, in their recent treasonable 
enterprise, had been traced to the hands of the Laird 
of Auchendown, and Maitland the chancellor insisted 
on its being produced ; assuring Elizabeth, with whom 
he was then in great favour, that the association should 
be broken up or Huntley wrecked for ever. J 

To confirm the monarch in such good purposes, the 
Queen of England sent him the Garter by the Earl of 
Worcester, who arrived in Edinburgh during the sit- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 4th June, 1590. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 9th June, 1590. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 4th June, 1590. 
It was about this time that Bowes placed in James' hands a letter writ hy 
her Majesty's own hand. It alluded to his great design for the reestablishment 
of peace ; and was more free from the involution and pedantry which mark 
her private letters than many of her epistles. It assured him that she was 
happy to find him so grateful a king ; that she highly approved of his purpose ; 
and that nothing could equal the careful thoughts for him and his realm 

1590. JAMES VI. 45 

ting of that convention from which such important 
reformations were to have proceeded. James accepted 
the queen's presents and letter in excellent part ; con- 
gratulated himself on having so worthy a knight-com- 
panion as the French king, (Henry had just been 
chosen a knight of the order;) and held some merry 
talk with Worcester on the cause of the Scottish 
queen's invisibility, her majesty being then in the 
family way, and pretending it was only th& tooth- 
ache. * But, on proceeding from these lighter subjects 
to speak of the intended reformations, it was evident, 
even to the superficial observation of a stranger like 
Worcester, that the course of improvements would be 
beset with difficulties. When reformation of justice 
was debated, the Lords of Session professed, indeed, 
the utmost readiness to amend all ; and two of their 
number, Mr David Makgill and Mr John Graham, 
indulged very freely and bitterly in mutual accusations 
of bribery and corruption ; but the rest pleaded their 
privilege, granted by Act of Parliament, to " try them- 
selves." With regard to the Kirk, when its leaders 
insisted that every parish should be provided with a 
minister, and every minister with a stipend, no objec- 
tion was made by the nobles to the proposal, in gen- 
eral ; but " the possessors of the church lands declared 
their determination not to surrender any portion of 
their tacks and leases unless the remainder should be 
secured to them in fee-simple for ever ."[ 

which had occupied her since his peregrination. " And so," said she, " I 
leave scribbling, but never end to love you and assist you with my friend- 
ship, care, aud prayer to the living God to send you all prosperous success, 
and his Holy Spirit for guide." 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Earl of Worcester to Burghley, Edin- 
burgh, 15th June, 1590. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Worcester to Burghley, 15th June, 1590. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office. Royal Letters, Scotland. Elizabeth to James. 


In the end, however, some points were gained, which 
pleased both James and the English queen, who now 
acted together with much cordiality. The choice of 
the king's Secret Council was left to his own will, and 
Elizabeth knew she would be chiefly consulted. The 
monarch, strengthened by the approval of the wisest 
sort, led by the chancellor, held the Roman Catholic 
faction in awe ; restrained the insolence of Bothwell ; 
insisted on the appearance and delivery of all " at the 
horn," who had hitherto defied the law ; took steps 
for the speedy and amicable settlement of all Border 
causes ; adopted measures to amend the coin which 
had been much debased ; and, whilst he continued his 
favour towards the Kirk, did not scruple to silence 
some of the wilder sort of the brethren who, in their 
public sermons, had attacked the Queen of England 
for her recent severity to the English Puritans. On 
this last subject, the excesses of the Puritans, Eliza- 
beth felt keenly ; and her far-sighted glance had al- 
ready detected the dangers of a sect then only in their 
infancy, but professing principles which she deemed 
inconsistent with the safety of any well- governed State. 
Worcester had received pointed instructions in the 
matter ; * and the queen herself, when she dismissed 
Sir John Carmichael the Scottish ambassador, enfor- 
ced her wishes in a private letter to James, which is 
too characteristic to be omitted. It is as follows : 
" Greater promises, more affection, and grants of more 
acknowledgings of received good turns, my dear 
brother, none can better remember than this gentle- 
man, by your charge, hath made me understand ; 
whereby I think all my endeavours well recompensed, 

* MS. State-paper Office, 1590. Memorial of sundry things moved to 
the King of Scots by the ambassador of England. 

1590. JAMES VI. 47 

that see them so well acknowledged ; and do trust 
that my counsels, if they so much content you, will 
serve for memorials to turn your actions to serve the 
turn of your safe government, and make the lookers-on 
honour your worth, and reverence such a niler. 

" And lest fair semblances, that easily may beguile, 
do not breed your ignorance of such persons as either 
pretend religion or dissemble devotion, let me warn 
you that there is risen, both in your realm and mine, 
a sect of perilous consequence, such as would have no 
kings, but a presbytery ; and take our place, while 
they enjoy our privilege, with a shade of God's Word, 
which none is judged to follow right, without by their 
censure they be so deemed. Yea, look we well unto 
them. When they have made in our people's hearts 
a doubt of our religion and that we err, if they say 
so what perilous issue this may make I rather think 
than mind to write. Sapienti pauca. I pray you stop 
the mouths, or make shorter the tongues of such minis- 
ters as dare presume to make oraisons in their pulpits 
for the persecuted in England for the gospel. Suppose 
you, my dear brother, that I can tolerate such scan- 
dals of my sincere government ? No : I hope, how- 
ever you be pleased to bear with their audacity towards 
yourself, yet you will not suffer a strange king receive 
that indignity at such caterpillars' hands, that instead 
of fruit I am afraid will stuff your realm with venom : 
of this I have particularized more to this bearer, to- 
gether with other answers to his charge ; beseeching 
you to hear them, arid not to give more harbour to 
vagabond traitors and seditious inventors, but to re- 
turn them to me, or banish them your land. And 
thus, with my many thanks for your honourable en- 
tertainment of my ambassador, [she means here the 


Earl of Worcester,] I commit you to God ; who ever 
preserve you from all evil counsels, and send you grace 
to follow the best ! " * To these wishes of Elizabeth 
both James and his prime minister, the Chancellor 
Maitland, responded with the utmost readiness. In- 
deed, the queen could scarcely resent the excesses of 
the Puritan clergy more violently than her brother 
prince ; although, from their influence over the people, 
he was compelled sometimes to temporize. The minis- 
ters, accordingly, were commanded to forbear prayer 
in their sermons for the persecuted in England ;-f- and 
equal activity was shown against the intrigues of the 
Spaniards and the Catholic faction. When CTRourke, 
an Irish chieftain, was detected in Glasgow, secretly 
beating up for recruits against the English, the King 
of Scots scrupled not to have him seized and delivered 
to Elizabeth. " I would to God," said he, writing to 
the queen, " your greatest enemies were in my hands; 
if it were the King of Spain himself, he should not be 
long undelivered to you : for that course have I taken 
me to, and will profess it till I die, that all your foes 
shall be common enemies to us both, in spite of the 
pope, the King of Spain, and all the leaguers, my 
cousins not excepted, and the devil their master." J 

In return for this devotion to her wishes, Elizabeth, 
forgetting her economy, transmitted, at various inter- 
vals, large sums to the king, complimented the young 
queen with presents, and flattered her by letters ; 
whilst the chancellor, who had now consolidated his 

* MS. State-paper Office. Royal Letters. Copy of the time, indorsed 
6th July, 1590. Copy of her Majestie's letter, written to the King of Scots, 
with her own hand, and sent by Sir John Carmichael. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 14th August, 1590. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office. Royal Letters. Indorsed, The King 
of Scots' letter to the Queen's Majesty, by Roger Ashton, 22d March, 

] 590. JAMES VI. 49 

power, and could bid defiance to his opponents, enter- 
ed into a cordial correspondence with Burghley. He 
reminded him of the " old familiar acquaintance and 
strict amity " which had subsisted between him and 
his late brother, the well-known Lethington ; and 
declared his readiness and anxiety to show himself 
worthy of the Lord Treasurer's friendly dealing and 
gentle messages sent recently by Carmichael. Speak- 
ing modestly of his own inferiority, he yet hoped that 
their mutual exertions would be followed by the best 
effects. " If," said he, " this microcosme of Britain, 
separate from the continent world, naturally joined 
in situation and language, and, most happily, by re- 
ligion, shall be, by the indissoluble amity of the two 
princes, sincerely conserved in union, the Antichris- 
tian confederates shall never be able to effect their 
bloody and godless measures." In conclusion, he 
promised, that whilst Burghley, by his large experi- 
ence and wisdom, held the Roman Catholic party in 
check, to " the benefit of all sincerely professing Christ 
in Europe,"" he would himself keep a watchful eye over 
their proceedings in Scotland ; * and so rigidly did he 
fulfil this, that, before the end of the year, watchful- 
ness was turned into persecution, and the Catholics 
in vain petitioned for liberty of conscience, and pleaded 
the cruelty of being compelled to subscribe the Pro- 
testant Articles of religion.^ Under such circum- 
stances, it is not surprising that their intrigues with 
Spain and the continent should have continued ; and 
that, although Bowes, the ambassador, informed 
Burghley that the state of Scotland had been brought 

* MS. Letter, State-paper' Office, Lord Thirlstane to the Lord High 
Treasurer, 13th August, 15901 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 7th November, 



to great quietness, it was that deceitful calm which 
not unfrequently precedes the tempest.* 

For a while, however, all went on smoothly ; and 
the kins found leisure to become exceedingly active, 

O O / 

and agitated upon a subject which forms a melancholy 
and mysterious chapter in the history of the human 
mind: that of witchcraft. That many unfortunate 
and miserable beings, driven by poverty and want, by 
suspicion and persecution, by the desire of vengeance, 
the love of power, or a daring curiosity after forbidden 
knowledge, had renounced their baptismal vows, and 
entered, as they believed, into a compact with the 
author of all evil, cannot be doubted. The difficulty 
is, to discover whether they were the victims of their 
own imagination, the dupes of impostors, or, which is 
not to be rejected as impossible or incredible, the sub- 
jects and recipients of diabolic influence and agency. 
During the summer of this year, the young Laird of 
Wardhouse had been seized with a mortal sickness 
which had carried him to the grave ; and it was dis- 
covered that several witches had formed his image in 
wax, which having " roasted at a slow fire, the gentle- 
man,"" it was said, " pined away insensibly, but surely, 
till he died."^ This was alarming enough; but in 
the winter still darker deeds came to light, involving 
higher culprits and more daring transactions. Agnes 
Sampson, a woman, as Spottiswood says, " not of the 
base or ignorant sort of witches, but matronlike, grave, 
and settled in her answers," accused Bothwell of con- 
sulting her as to the probable continuance of the king's 
life ; and Richard Graham, a notorious sorcerer, aver- 
red that the earl had sought him on the same errand. 

* MS. State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley. 
i f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 23d July, 1590. 

1590. JAMES VI. 51 

Agnes declared, when questioned by the judges, that 
" she had a familiar spirit, who upon her call, appeared 
in a visible form, and resolved her of any doubtful 
matters, especially concerning life and death. The 
mode in which she summoned him was by calling out 
" Holla, Master ! " an invocation which he had taught 
her himself. She added, that he had undertaken to 
make away with the king, but had failed ; pronoun- 
cing him, (when challenged by her for his want of suc- 
cess,) to be invulnerable to his incantations, and mut- 
tering, in a language which she did not understand, 
but which turned out to be respectable French, " II 
est homme de Dieu" * Of James' labours with this 
miserable woman, who was condemned and burnt, 
Bowes wrote to Burghley. The king, he said, by his 
own especial travel, had drawn Sampson, the great 
witch, to confess plainly her wicked estate and doings, 
and to discover sundry things touching his own life : 
how the witches sought to have had his shirt, or other 
linen about him, for the execution of their charms. 
In these doings the Lord Claud's name was implicated, 
and sundry other noble personages evil spoken of. 
The number of the witches known, were (he added) 
about thirty ; but many others were accused of acts 
filthy, lewd, and fantastical, "f On a future occasion, 
the royal curiosity and acuteness were rewarded by 
the discovery of more particulars involving the guilt 
of Bothwell. They came out in an examination to 
which James subjected the wizard Richard Graham, 
who, upon some hope held out of pardon, confessed 
that Bothwell sought to draw him to devise some 
means to hasten the king's death, alleging that he was 

* Spottiswood, p. 383. 

t MS. Letter. State-paper Office. Bowes to Burghley, 7th December, 


driven to this to avoid his own ; since a necromancer 
in Italy had predicted to him that he should become 
great in power and temporal possession, kill two men, 
fall into trouble with the king for two capital crimes, 
be pardoned for the first and suffer for the second. 
The three first events, he averred, had taken place as 
foretold him: he had become a mighty baron, had 
killed Sir William Stewart, and Dame the Devil, mean- 
ing David Hume of Manderston ; been once pardoned ; 
and now he or the king must go. Graham agreed to 
assist him ; and James had the satisfaction of hearing 
some particulars of the incantation. An image of the 
royal person was formed of wax, and hung up between 
a tod or fox, over which some spells had been muttered, 
and the head of a young calf, newly killed. It was 
added, that all this was well known to Jely Duncan, 
who is described by Bowes as a kind of whipper-in 
to the witches, being accustomed to scour the country 
and collect together all the Satanic fraternity and 
sisterhood. But although she admitted, at first, their 
dealings with Bothwell, she afterwards denied all ; 
and as these unfortunate wretches were so severely 
tortured that one of them died under the rack, it is 
impossible to receive their evidence without the utmost 
suspicion.* Bothwell, however, amid loud assevera- 
tions of innocence, was seized and sent to prison, and 
an early convention of the Estates called for his trial. 
But the evidence, by the king's own admission, was 
slender ; the nobles seemed unwilling to countenance 
any violent proceedings against him ; and the matter 
was so long delayed, that his fierce temper would en- 
dure confinement no longer ; and breaking his prison, 
* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 15th April, 1591. 

1591. JAMES VI. 53 

he buried himself amongst his friends and fastnesses 
in the Borders.* 

This result greatly irritated the king, who consoled 
himself by bringing to trial one of the leading witches, 
named Barbara Napier, a woman well connected, and 
of whose conviction he entertained no doubt. To his 
astonishment, the jury did not conceive the evidence 
sufficient, and acquitted her. The verdict threw James 
into the greatest rage ; yet it was difficult to know 
what was now to be done. An assize of error, as it 
was called, was a proceeding known and practised by 
the law of England, but it had never been introduced 
into Scotland ; nor had it been heard of for centuries, 
that the king should sit in person as a judge in any 
criminal matter. James, however, shut his eyes to all 
difficulties, and determined to bring the refractory 
jurors to justice. "f" Accordingly, on the seventh of June, 
repairing from Falkland, he sat in person on the trial 
of the delinquents. All of them pleaded guilty, and 
put themselves, as it was then termed, in the king's will, 
so that there was little scope given to the exercise of 
regal acuteness. He made an oration, however, some 
sentences of which give a good picture of the style of 
his oratory : often pedantic and tedious, but not un- 
frequently epigrammatic and sententious. Alluding 
to the shocking state of the country and the prevalence 
of crimes, " I must advertise you," said he, " what it 
is that makes great crimes to bo so rife in this coun- 
try ; namely, that all men set themselves more for 
friend than for justice and obedience to the laws. This 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 5th May, 1591. 
Also, ibid., same to same, 22d June, 1591. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 9th May, 1591. 
Ibid., same to same, 21st May. 


corruption here bairns suck at the pap ; and let a man 
commit the most filthy crimes that can be, yet his 
friends take his part ; and first keep him from apprehen- 
sion, and after, by fead or favour, by false assize, or some 
way or other, they find moyen of his escape. The 
experience hereof we have in Niddry. I will not speak 
how I am charged with this fault in court and choir, 
from prince and pulpit ; yet this I say, that howsoever 
matters have gone against my will, I am innocent of 
all injustice in these behalfs. My conscience doth set 
me clear, as did the conscience of Samuel ; and I call 
you to be judges herein. And suppose I be your king, 
yet I submit myself to the accusations of you, my 
subjects, in this behalf; and let any one say what I 
have done. And as I have thus begun, so purpose I to 
go forward ; not because I am James Stuard, and can 
command so many thousands of men, but because God 
hath made me a king and judge, to judge righteous 

" For witchcraft, which is a thing grown very com- 
mon among us, I know it to be a most abominable sin ; 
and I have been occupied these three quarters of a 
year for the sifting out of them that are guilty herein. 
We are taught by the laws, both of God and man, 
that this sin is most odious ; and by God's law punish- 
able by death. By man's law it is called Maleficium 
or Veneficium, an ill deed, or a poisonable deed; and 
punishable likewise by death. Now, if it be death as 
practised against any of the people, I must needs think 
it to be (at least) the like if it be against the king. 
Not that I fear death ; for I thank God I dare in a 
good cause abide hazard." * * " As for them," he 
concluded, "who think these witchcrafts to be but 

1591. JAMES VI. 55 

fantasies, I remit them to be catechised and instructed 
in these most evident points." * 

James, perhaps, felt somewhat doubtful upon the 
subject of his personal courage, and was aware that his 
subjects shared in his apprehensions ; but he was little 
aware how soon his courage and determination were to 
be put to the test, by the frightful state of the country 
and the frequent attacks upon the royal person. So, 
however, it happened. Between private feuds, the 
continuance of Catholic intrigues, the active and in- 
dignant counter-movements of the Kirk, and the open 
rebellion of Both well, whose power and reckless bravery 
made him formidable to all parties, the whole land was 
thrown into a deplorable state of tumult and insecurity. 
In the Highlands, the Earl of Huntley and the Earl 
of Moray, two of the greatest houses in the north, 
engaged in a deadly quarrel, which drew in the Lairds 
of Grant, Calder, Macintosh, and others, and made 
the fairest districts a prey to indiscriminate havoc and 
murder.^ At court all was commotion and apprehen- 
sion from the rivalry of the Master of Glammis, who 
began to be a favourite of the king, and Chancellor 
Thirlstane, who would brook no rival in power.J On 
the Borders, Bothwell welcomed every broken man and 
cruel murderer who chose to ride under his banner. 
Some time previous to the trials of the witches, this 
daring chief had invaded the Supreme Court, and carried 
off a witness from the bar, who was about to give evi- 
dence against one of his retainers, whilst the king, 
although in the next room, did not dare to interfere. 

* MS. State-paper Office. The inquest which first went upon Barbara 
Nep., called before the king in the Tolbooth, 7th June, 1591. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 7th December, 
1590. Ibid., Lord Thirlstane to Burghley, 7th December, 1590. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 20th Nov., 1590. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 25th Jan., 1590-:. 


After his escape and triumph, his fierce temper im- 
pelled him to still greater excesses ; and attacking the 
palace of Holyrood at the head of his desperate follow- 
ers, he had nearly surprised and made prisoners both 
the king and the chancellor. Douglas of Spot, how- 
ever, one of the principal leaders in this attack, lost 
time, by attempting to set at liberty some of his men 
who were imprisoned in the palace. An alarm was 
given : the king took refuge in one of the turrets ; the 
chancellor barricaded his room, and bravely beat off the 
assailants ; whilst the citizens of Edinburgh, headed 
by their provost, rushed into the outer court of the 
palace, and cutting their way through the outer ranks 
of the Borderers, compelled Bothwell to a precipitate 
flight.* He soon, however, became as formidable as 
ever ; entered into a secret correspondence with Eng- 
land; leagued with the Duke of Lennox, who had 
quarrelled with Thirlstane ; procured the countenance 
of the Kirk, by professing the most determined hosti- 
lity to Huntley and the Catholic faction ; and flattered 
himself, not without good grounds, that his next at- 
tack would be successful. 

Meanwhile a tragedy occurred, which, even in that 
age, familiar with scenes of feudal atrocity, occasioned 
unusual horror. The reader may perhaps remember 
the utter destruction brought by the Regent Moray 
upon the great Earl of Huntley ; his execution, and 
that of one of his sons ; the forfeiture of his immense 
estates, and the almost entire overthrow of his house. f 
It was now thirty years since that miserable event : 
the favour of the king had restored the family of 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Roger Ashton to Bowes, 28th Decem- 
ber, 1591. Also, ibid., Bowes to Burgbley, 31st December, 1591. 
+ See supra, vol. vi. p. 264-267. 

1591-2. JAMES VI. 57 

Gordon to its estates and its honours, and Huntley's 
ambition might have been satisfied ; but the deep prin- 
ciple of feudal vengeance demanded blood for blood ; 
and there was not a retainer of the house of Huntley, 
from the belted knight that sat at his master's right 

o o 

hand to the serving-man behind his chair, who did not 
acknowledge the sacred necessity of revenge. Time, 
which softens or dilutes most feelings, only added 
intensity to this ; and now when the hour of repay- 
ment was come, the debt was exacted with fearful 
interest. The then Earl of Moray, a Stewart, and 
representative of the famous regent, was one of the 
bravest and handsomest men of his time ; a favourite 
at court, and dear to the people and the Kirk, who still 
looked fondly back to the days of his great ancestor. 
In deeds of arms and personal prowess, an old chronicle 
describes him as a sort of Amadis; "comely, gentle, 
brave, and of a great stature and strength of body. 11 * 
This young nobleman had princely possessions in the 
north, and for some years deadly feud had raged 
between him and Huntley ; but Lord Ochiltree, a 
Stewart, a firm friend of Moray's, was at this time 
exerting himself to bring about an agreement between 
the two barons ; and had so far succeeded, that Moray, 
with a slender retinue, left his northern fastnesses, 
and came to his mother's castle of Dunibersel, a short 
distance from the Queensferry. Huntley, his enemy, 
was then at court in constant attendance upon the 
king ; and Ochiltree, who had communicated with 
him, and informed him of Moray's wishes for a recon- 
ciliation, took horse and rode to Queensferry, intending 
to pass to Dunibersel and arrange an amicable meeting 
between the rival earls. To his surprise, he found 

* Historic of James the Sext, p. 246 


that a royal order had been sent, interdicting any 
boats from plying that day between Fife and the 
opposite coast. But little suspicion was occasioned : 
he believed it some measure connected with the hot 
pursuit then going on against Bothwell, and was satis- 
fied to abandon his journey to Dunibersel. This 
proved the destruction of his poor friend. That very 
day, the seventh of February, the king hunted ; and 
Huntley, giving out that he meant to accompany the 
royal cavalcade, assembled his followers to the number 
of forty horse. Suddenly he pretended that certain 
news had reached him of the retreat of Bothwell ; 
extorted from the king permission to ride against this 
traitor; and passing the ferry, beset the house of Duni- 
bersel, and summoned Moray to surrender. This 
was refused ; and in spite of the great disparity in 
numbers, the Stewarts resisted till nightfall, when 
Huntley, collecting the corn-stacks, or ricks, in the 
neighbouring fields, piled them up against the walls, 
commanded the house to be set on fire, and compelled 
its unhappy inmates to make a desperate sally that 
they might escape being burnt alive. In this out- 
break the Sheriff of Moray was slain ; but the young 
earl, aided by his great stature and strength, rushed 
forth all burned and blackened, with his long and 
beautiful tresses on fire and streaming behind him, 
threw himself with irresistible fury on his assailants, 
broke through the toils like a lion,* and escaped by 
speed of foot to the sea-shore. Here, unfortunately, 
his hair and the silken plume of his helmet blazed 
through the darkness ; and his fell pursuers, tracing 
him by the trail of light, ran him into a cave, where 
they cruelly murdered him. His mortal wound, it 

* The simile is Ashton's, in a letter to Bowes. 

1591-2. JAMES VI. 5.9 

was said, was given by Gordon of Buckie, who, with 
the ferocity of the times, seeing Huntley drawing back, 
cursed him as afraid to go as far as his followers, and 
called upon him to stab his fallen enemy with his 
dagger, and become art and part of the slaughter, as he 
had been of the conspiracy. Huntley, thus threatened, 
struck the dying man in the face with his weapon, 
who, with a bitter smile, upbraided him "-with having 
spoilt a better face than his own."* 

The outcry against this atrocious murder was deep 
and universal. Ochiltree, who had been deceived by 
Huntley and the chancellor, became loud in his 
clamours for revenge. In the north, Lord Forbes, 
an attached friend of Moray, carried his bloody shirt 
on a spear's head; and marching with the ghastly 
banner through his territories, incited his followers to 
revenge. In the capital, the Lady Doune, mother of 
the murdered earl, who with her daughters had nar- 
rowly escaped death at Dunibersel, exhibited the 
mangled corpses of her son and his faithful follower 
the Sheriff of Moray in the church at Leith ; and 
Huntley, followed everywhere by a yell of public exe- 
cration, fled first to Ravensheugh, a castle of Sinclair 
baron of Roslin, and afterwards to his own country 
in the north. 

Amid all this tumult and ardent demands for in- 
stant justice and vengeance, the king exhibited such 
indifference, that strange suspicions arose, not only 
against James, but his great adviser the chancellor, 
between whom and Huntley there had arisen, for some 
time before Moray's murder, a suspicious familiarity. 
Huntley pleaded a royal commission for everything 

* MS. Letter. State-paper Office, Roger Ashton to Bowes, 8th February, 
1591-2. Also, ibid., same to same 9th February, 1591-2. 


he had done. It was known that the king had been 
deeply incensed against Moray by a report that he 
had abetted Bothweli in his late attempt, and had 
even been seen with him in the palace on the night of 
the attack. It was remembered that Ochiltree had 
been prevented, as was alleged, by a royal order sent 
through the chancellor, from passing the ferry on the 
day of the murder ; and the gossip of the court went 
even so far as to say, that the young queen's favour 
for Moray had roused the royal jealousy. All this 
was confirmed, as may well be believed, when Hunt- 
l^y, being summoned to deliver himself up and take 
his trial, obeyed with alacrity ; entered into ward in 
Blackness castle ; and after a trifling investigation 
was dismissed and pardoned.* Against this gross 
partiality, Ochiltree, Lennox, Athole, and the whole 
friends of the murdered lord, loudly remonstrated. 
Bothweli, a Stewart, and cousin-german to Moray, 
availing himself of this favourable contingency, united 
his whole strength with theirs. The Kirk, indignant 
at the king's favour for Huntley, the head of the 
Roman Catholics, threw all its weight into the same 
scale ; and James soon found that Moray's death, 
slightly as he regarded it at first, drew after it fatal and 
alarming effects. In the north, the Earl of Athole, 
with the Lairds of Macintosh, Grant, Lovat, and their 
followers, carried fire and sword into Huntley's coun- 
try, and kindled throughout that region innumerable 
lesser feuds and quarrels, which, like the moor-burning 
of their own savage districts, spread from glen to glen, 
and mountain to mountain, till half the land seemed 
in a blaze."!* In the south, the Chancellor Maitland 

* Historic of James the Sext, p. 248. 

+ Moyse'a Memoirs, p. 98. MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to 
Burghley, 1st Jan., 1592-3. Also, ibid., Bowes to Burghley, 21st Nov., 1592. 

1592. JAMES VI. Cl 

was no longer able to guide the government with his 
usual steady and determined hand. Hitherto he had 
defied all court storms, and made a bold head against 
his enemies ; but his implication as a conspirator with 
Huntley in the murder of Moray, at first only sus- 
pected, but now, from some recent discoveries, abso- 
lutely certain, raised against him a universal detesta- 
tion ; the hatred of the people added new strength to 
his opponents, and he was driven from court.* 

This retreat of his chief adviser weakened James. 
Elizabeth's coldness also annoyed him ; and his un- 
easiness was changed into indignation, when he dis- 
covered that she looked favourably upon Bothwell ; 
and that this traitorous subject, who had so lately 
invaded and dishonoured him, was in correspondence 
with her ministers. It was necessary, however, to 
dissemble his feelings, as the difficulties which now 
surrounded him were of a complicated kind. It had 
recently been his policy to balance the two great 
factions which divided the country, the Catholic and 
Protestant, as equally as possible : so that into which- 
ever scale he threw the weight of his own authority it 
might preponderate. This mode of government, bor- 
rowed from Elizabeth, was more difficult to be carried 
through with success in Scotland than in the neigh- 
bouring country, not only from the superiority in 
vigour and intellect possessed by that princess over 
James, but from the greater feudal strength of the 
nobility of Scotland, and the greater weakness of the 
royal prerogative in that kingdom. In England vari- 
ous causes had concurred to destroy the greater barons : 
the wars of the two Roses were especially fatal to them ; 

* Moyse's Memoirs, p. 97. MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to 
Burghley, 17th December, 1592. 


and it is well known that the reign of Henry the 
Eighth had been the grave of many of those potent 
families who, before that time, were in the habit of 
dictating to the crown. But in Scotland not only 
were the feudal prerogatives more large, but the arm 
of the law was weaker ; and the great houses, such 
as Hamilton, Argyle, Mar, Huntley, Douglas, and 
Stewart, were fresh and in vigour. Of all this the 
king was so well aware, that when Bowes, the English 
ambassador, on one occasion complained to him, that 
his reforms were ever in fieri not in posse, James an- 
swered, that to reform such nobles as he had, would 
require the lives of three kings.* 

There can be no doubt, however, that James, al- 
though clearly foreseeing the difficulties he was likely 
to encounter, had determined to weaken and suppress, 
as far as possible, the greater barons ; and had resolved, 
by every means in his power, to strengthen the crown, 
raise up the middle classes and the lesser barons; and 
so balance and equalize the various powers of the con- 
stitution, that he should be able to hold the reins 
with a firm hand. There is a passage of a letter of 
Hudson's, one of the king's favourites, and a gentle- 
man of his court, which points to this ; and shows that, 
although James greatly favoured the chancellor, he 
was more his own minister than has been believed. 
Elizabeth, it appears, alarmed by some recent favours 
shown to Huntley, had instructed Hudson to gain this 
high officer, hoping through him to influence the king; 
to which Hudson replied to Burghley, that the common 
opinion that James followed Maitland's guidance was 
an error; that the king was "himself the very centre of 
the government, and moved the chancellor and all the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 25th Jan., 1590-1. 

1592. JAMES VI. 63 

rest as he turned, minions and all. Although (he 
continued) he bestow favour in great measure upon 
sundries, it doth not follow that he is directed by them. 
The chancellor is a great councillor, and the king seeth 
that his gifts merit his place ; but he followeth directly 
his majesty"^ course in all."* 

Acting along with this able minister, James had 
hitherto been able to hold in check the power of the 
higher nobles, and to keep the country in something 
like tranquillity. But the murder of Moray, the im- 
plication of the chancellor and suspected connivance 
of the king in this foul transaction ; the compulsory 
retirement of Maitland, and the formidable combina- 
tion which had taken place between the majority of 
the higher nobles and the Earl of Bothwell, threw 
the monarch into alarm, and forced him upon some 
measures which, under other circumstances, he would 
scarcely have adopted. His late favour to Huntley 
had damaged him in the affections of the Kirk: he 
now resolved to court its aid and to flatter it by un- 
wonted concessions. These it is important to notice, 
as they led to no less a measure than the establish- 
ment of Presbytery by a prince to whom this form of 
ecclesiastical government appears to have been espe- 
cially obnoxious. The acts passed in the parliament 
1584, against the discipline and privileges of the Kirk, 
had long been a thorn in the side of the ministers ; 
and they now, in an assembly held some time previous 
to the meeting of parliament, resolved to petition the 
king, not only for the abolition of these obnoxious 
statutes, but for a solemn legislative establishment of 
the Presbyterian system of church government. 

Accordingly, parliament having assembled in June 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Hudson to BurgHey, 7th Dec., 1591. 


1592, the assembly presented the four following articles 
or requests to the king : 

1. That the acts of parliament made in the year 1584 
against the discipline and liberty of the Kirk, should 
be repealed, and the present discipline be ratified. 

2. That the act of annexation should be abolished, 
and the patrimony of the Kirk restored. , 

3. That abbots, priors, and other prelates pretending 
to ecclesiastical authority, and giving their vote in 
matters without any delegated power from the Kirk, 
should not be hereafter permitted to vote in parlia- 
ment or other convention : and lastly, 

4. That the land, which was polluted by fearful 
idolatry and bloodshed, should be purged.* 

The first article, which went to rescind the acts of 
1584, was long and keenly debated : for James was 
acute enough to detect the increased power which this 
must give to the ministers ; and it is certain that no 
change had taken place in the mind of the monarch 
as to the dangers to be apprehended from the turbu- 
lence and independence of these bold and able men. 
The republican principles, the austere morality, and 
the extreme pulpit license of the Kirk, were wholly 
opposed to all his ideas of ecclesiastical polity or civil 
government; but Maitland, who had now resumed 
his influence, though still absent from court, was 
solicitous to conciliate the friends of the murdered 
Moray and to appease the people ; and assisting the 
Kirk at this moment with the full weight of his influ- 
ence and advice, the king, more from policy than 
affection, assented to the proposal. An act, accord- 
ingly, was passed, which is still regarded as the 
" Charter of the Liberties of the Kirk." 

* Calderwood, pp. 267, 268. 

1592. JAMES vi. 65 

It ratified its system of government by general 
assemblies, provincial synods, presbyteries, and parti- 
cular sessions. It affirmed such courts, with the juris- 
diction and discipline belonging to them, to be just, 
good, and godly ; defined their powers ; appointed the 
time and manner of their meeting; and declared that 
the acts passed in 1584 should be in no ways prejudi- 
cial to the privileges of the office-bearers in the Kirk 
in determining heads of religion, matters of heresy, 
questions of excommunication, appointment and de- 
privation of ministers ; that another act of the same 
parliament, granting commissions to bishops to receive 
the royal presentations to bishoprics, and to give colla- 
tion, should be rescinded ; and that all presentations 
should be directed to their particular presbyteries, with 
full power to give collation and decide all ecclesiastical 
causes within their bounds, under the proviso that 
they admitted such ministers as were presented by 
the king or other lay patrons.* 

Had the Kirk contented itself with these triumphs, 
and rested satisfied in the king's present dispositions, 
which appeared wholly in its favour, all things might 
have remained quiet : for the Catholics, convinced of 
the madness of their projects, were ready to abstain 
from all practices inimical to the religion of the State, 
on the single condition that they should not be perse- 
cuted for their adherence to the ancient faith. But 
the Kirk were not disposed to take this quiet course. 
The principle of toleration, divine as it assuredly is 
in its origin, yet so late in its recognition even 
amongst the best men, was then utterly unknown to 

* M'Crie's Life of Melvil, p. 403. Aikman's Translation of Buchanan's 
History of Scotland ; with a Continuation to the Present Time, vol. iii. pp. 
185, 186. 



either party, Reformed or Catholic. The permission 
even of a single case of Catholic worship, however 
secret ; the attendance of a solitary individual at a 
single Mass, in the remotest district of the land, at 
the dead hour of night, in the most secluded chamber, 
and where none could come but such as knelt before 
the altar for conscience' sake, and in all sincerity of 
soul ; such worship, and its permission for an hour, 
was considered an open encouragement of Antichrist 
and idolatry. To extinguish the Mass for ever, to 
compel its supporters to embrace what the Kirk con- 
sidered to be the purity of Presbyterian truth, and 
this under the penalties of life and limb, or in its 
mildest form of treason, banishment, and forfeiture, 
was considered not merely praiseworthy but a point t 
of high religious duty ; and the whole apparatus of 
the Kirk, the whole inquisitorial machinery of detec- 
tion and persecution, was brought to bear upon the 
accomplishment of these great ends. Are we to 
wonder that, under such a state of things, the 
intrigues of the Catholics for the overthrow of a 
government which sanctioned such a system continu- 
ed ; that when they knew, or suspected that the 
king himself was averse to persecution, they were 
encouraged to renew their intercourse with Spain ; 
and to hope that a new outbreak, if properly directed, 
might lead either to the destruction of a rival faith, or 
to the establishment of liberty of conscience. 

A discovery which occurred at this time corrobor- 
ates these remarks, and drew after it important con- 
sequences. The Kirk, in the course of its inquisitions, 
in which it was assisted by Sir Robert Bowes, the 
resident English ambassador, received certain infor- 
mation that George Ker, a Catholic gentleman, and 

1592 JAMES vi 67 

brother of the Abbot of Newbottle, was secretly- 
passing into Spain with important letters. Upon 
this, Mr Andrew Knox minister ol Paisley, setting 
off with a body of armed men furnished by Lord Ross, 
traced Ker to Glasgow, and thence to the little isles 
of the Cumrays in the mouth of the Clyde, where they 
seized him in the night, immediately after he had got 
on board the ship which was to carry him to the 
continent. His luggage was then searched, the packets 
of letters found, and he himself hurried a prisoner to 
Edinburgh ; where the provost and the citizens, 
alarmed by the reports which had already reached 
them, received him with shouts of triumph and exe- 
cration. The unfortunate man at first attempted to 
deny all ; and as he had many friends in the council 
who opposed severity, was likely to escape ; but at 
the king's special command he was put to the torture,* 
and on the second stroke of the boots confessed the 
conspiracy ; the main branch of which \vas to secure 
and hasten the descent of a Spanish force upon the 
coast of Scotland. This army was to be joined by 
the Earls of Huntley, Errol, and Angus, with Sir 
Patrick Gordon of Auchendown, uncle to Huntley ; 
and other Catholic barons. Amongst the letters 


seized, and which appeared to be written by Scottish 
Jesuits and seminary priests to their brethren on the 
continent, there were found several signatures of the 
Earls of Huntley, Errol, and Angus. These were 

, , 

day. But many think that he shall suffer the torment without confession. 

It appears by a letter of Bowes to the Queen of England, 21st January, 
1592-3, that Mr Andrew Knox received an assurance from Elizabeth, that 
" good disposition and regard should be had of his labours, charges, perils, 
and services ; " whereupon Mr Andrew returned into his country to search 
out the haunts of the English Catholics lurking in those parts. 


written at the bottom of blank sheets of paper, with 
the seals of these noblemen attached to them ; from 
which circumstance the plot received the name of the 
" Spanish Blanks." It was at first suspected by 
Bowes, who was familiar with all the arcana of con- 
spiracy, that the blanks were written over with ink 
of white vitriol, prepared ; * but it turned out that 
they were to be filled up afterwards by Ker, according 
to verbal instructions, and to be delivered to the King 
of Spain. -f- It may well be imagined that this dis- 
covery serious enough, certainly, in its known fea- 
tures, and around which there was that air of mystery 
which gave ample scope for all kinds of terror and 
exaggeration was enough to throw the Kirk and the 
people into a state of high excitement. The council, 
having examined the letters, had no doubt of their 
authenticity. Sir John Carmichael and Sir George 
Hume were sent to the king, who was at Stirling, to 
entreat his immediate presence. Angus, then at 
Edinburgh, and recently returned from an expedition 
to the north, was committed to the castle of Edin- 
burgh ; and proclamation made that all Jesuits, 
seminary priests, and excommunicates, should, within 
three hours, depart the city on pain of death. J A 
convention of the nobility and Protestant gentry was 
forthwith held, and, headed by the ministers, pre- 
sented themselves at the palace, and insisted on the 
instant prosecution and punishment of the traitors ; 
declaring their readiness to hazard life and property 
in the service. The Queen of Scotland, and the 
powerful house of the Setons, earnestly interceded for 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 1st Jan., 1 592-3. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 13th Jan., 1592-3. 
J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 3d Jan., 1592-3. 

1592-3. JAMES vi. 69 

Ker,* wno in the end escaped; but Graham of Fintrv, 
found to be deeply implicated, was imprisoned ; and 
Angus' 1 trial and forfeiture was considered so certain, 
that the courtiers, wolf-like, began to smell the prey ; 
and Sir George Hume wrote pressingly to Lord 
Hume, requiring him to come speedily to court that 
he might have his share in the spoils. } 

James 1 conduct at this crisis was both wise and 
spirited. He had received information, much about 
the same time when the Spanish conspiracy came to 
light, that his traitorous subject Bothwell, who had 
twice invaded his palace and attempted to seize his 
person, was received in England and regarded with 
favour by Elizabeth. Now was the time, he felt, to 
put down Bothwell for ever. He was well aware 
that this fierce and formidable insurgent was favoured 
secretly by the Kirk, and by many of those nobles 
who now insisted upon the instant pursuit of the 
Popish earls. He was aware, too, that Elizabeth's 
alarm on the discovery of the Spanish Blanks would 
prompt her to advise the most severe measures against 
the delinquents, and he ably availed himself of all this. 
To the Kirk and the Protestant barons he gave the 
most friendly reception ; spoke loudly of Angus 1 in- 
stant forfeiture ; and not only agreed to the pursuit 
of Huntley, Errol, and their associates, but declared 
that he would lead the army in person and seize them 
in their northern strongholds. Nor were these mere 
words. Huntley, Errol, and Auchendown, were com- 
manded to enter themselves in ward at St Andrews 
before the fifth February ; public proclamation was 
made that all men should be ready, on the twenty-fifth 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office. 13th January, 1592-3. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burgbley, 13th Jan., 1592-3. 


of the same month, with armour and weapons, to 
march with the king in person against the traitors if 
they failed to deliver themselves ; and various com- 
mittees were appointed for the examination of all sus- 
pected persons, belonging either to the nobility, barons, 
burgesses, or clergy.* 

All this was most gratifying to the Kirk and the 
Protestant leaders amongst the nobility. But, in 
return for this, the king demanded as cordial a cooper- 
ation on their side for the attack and destruction of 
Bothwell, whose treasons, though of a different nature, 
were even more flagrant than those of the Catholic 
earls ; and this they were not in a situation to refuse. 
Having thus secured the cooperation of the Kirk and 
the Protestant lords against Bothwell, James gave 
audience to Bowes, who was little prepared for the 
violence with which he was to be received. The am- 
bassador had recently found himself in a difficult 
situation. He had been familiar with all the plots of 
Bothwell, and looked upon them with no unfavourable 
eye, although he took care not directly to implicate 
himself. He had repeatedly applied to Burghley to 
receive instructions and understand the queen's wishes : 
but Elizabeth was too cautious to commit herself; 
whilst Bowes knew for certain that she encouraged 
Bothwell secretly, and expressed the highest scorn and 
contempt for Huntley and the Spanish faction, whom 
she branded as base traitors who had sold their country. 
On this subject Elizabeth, shortly before this,-J- had 
sent a letter to James, part of which, relating to the 
Spanish faction, from its vigour, is worthy of preser- 
vation : 

* M.S. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 19th Jan., 1592-3. 
t Cm the 4th December, 

1593. JAMES VI. 71 

" Advance not," said she, " such as hang their hopes 
on other strings than you may tune. Them that gold 
can corrupt, think not your gifts can assure. Who 
once have made shipwreck of their country, let them 
never enjoy it. Weed out the weeds, lest the best 
corn fester. Never arm with power such whose bitter- 
ness must follow after you ; nor trust not their trust 
that under any colour will thrall their own soil. 

" I may not, nor will I, conceal overtures that of 
late full amply have been made me, how you may 
plainly know all the combiners against your State, and 
how you may entrap them and so assure your kingdom. 
Consider, if this actor doth deserve surety of life, not 
of land, but such as may preserve breath, to spend 
where best it shall please you. When I see the day, 
I will impart my advice to whom it most appertains. 

" Now bethink, my dear brother, what farther you 
will have me do. In meanwhile, beware to give the 
reins into the hands of any, lest it be too late to revoke 
such actions done. Let no one of the Spanish faction 
in your absence, yea, when you are present, receive 
strength or countenance. You know, but for you, all 
of them be alike for me, for my particular. Yet I may 
not deny, without spot or wrinkle, but I abhor such 
as set their country to sale. And thus, committing 
you to God's tuition, I shall remain the faithful holder 
of my avowed amity, 

" Your most affectionate Sister and Cousin." * 

What was James 1 reply to this obscure epigram- 
matic epistle is not known ; but very shortly after it 
was written, the Spanish conspiracy came to light, and 

* Warrender MSS., vol. B., p. 361. Indorsed, Delivered by Mr Bowes, 
4th December, 1592. 


the Scottish king at the same time discovered the 
favour shown to Bothwell in England with the full 
countenance of the queen. Mr Lock, an agent of 
Burghley and a near relative of the notorious intriguer 
John Colvil, brother to the Laird of Easter Wemyss, 
had been sent down to Scotland with instructions to 
form a faction with the Kirk and the Protestant barons 
for Bothwell's restoration ; and their plots had pro- 
ceeded so far, that the attack upon the palace, which 
afterwards occurred in the autumn of this year, would 
probably have been enterprised sooner, but for the 
discovery of the Spanish Blanks.* Of all these Eng- 
lish intrigues James was now aware ; and when Bowes 
was admitted to an audience, the monarch broke into 
a violent passion. The Queen of England, he declared, 
did him foul injustice in countenancing a rebel and a 
traitor like Bothwell. Her subjects received and 
harboured him, and they pleaded her warrant to do 
so. If so, he must account it done to his scorn and 
dishonour. However, he should investigate the mat- 
ter closely ; and should it turn out so, (this he said 
loudly, and in the hearing of many about him,) there 
was an end to his amity with the queen, and with 
every man in England. 

So unwonted a storm had never yet broken the 
serene tenor of James' temper ; and Bowes found it 
difficult to appease it even by the most earnest assur- 
ances of Elizabeth's innocence. ) In a subsequent 
interview, however, he was somewhat more successful. 
The Queen of England despatched a letter written 
wholly in her own hand, in a strain of so much con- 
ciliation, and fraught with so much sound advice, that 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 27th Dec., 1592. 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 19th January, 1592-3. 

1593. JAMES VI. 73 

the monarch was recovered ; showed the epistle, with 
many expressions of admiration, to his confidential 
councillors and some of the chief ministers, and lis- 
tened to their exhortations to proceed roundly against 
the Catholic lords. There were some difficulties, how- 
ever, in the way. Huntley solemnly declared his 
innocence, and affirmed that the blanks were not signed 
by him. If he, Errol, and Angus, delivered them- 
selves by the appointed day, and were once secured in 
prison, there was little doubt of the issue ; but if, as 
suspected, they fled and raised their feudal strength, 
the king must march against them ; and, with an im- 
poverished exchequer, who was to pay his troops ? 
Elizabeth's bounty, he said, had flowed in a far more 
niggard stream than had been promised. He had 
looked to have five thousand a-year, the sum allowed 
by Henry the Eighth to the queen herself when 
princess ; but she had only given him three thousand.* 
As to that occasion of which she reminded him, when 
one year's charges for his behoof had come to nine 
thousand pounds, and six thousand men been kept in 
readiness for his service, he protested that by no effort 
could he recall such things to memory ; but never 
would he press her for money unless at a time of ex- 
treme need like the present. But to explain all more 
fully, he meant (as he assured Bowes) to send her an 
ambassador, Sir Robert Melvil, or some other confi- 
dential councillor.-f- 

Meantime, before any such resolution could be acted 
on, Elizabeth's anxiety, and the alarming confessions 
of Ker, prompted her to despatch Lord Burgh with a 
message to the king, and instructions to press on the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to B&rghley, 27th Jan., 1592-3. 
t Id. .bid. 


trials of the Spanish lords by every possible method. 
What had been fully expected by all who knew these 
bold insurgents had now occurred. Instead of a sur- 
render of their persons on the day appointed, Huntley, 
Errol, Auchendown, and their associates, kept them- 
selves within their strongholds in the north. Angus 
escaped from the castle of Edinburgh, letting himself 
down the walls by a rope, and joined his friends in the 
Highlands ; and the king^s council, with the higher 
nobles, became cold and inactive. But the monarch 
himself was roused by this opposition into unwonted 
energy. He alone had conducted the examination of 
Ker, had advocated the use of torture against the 
advice of his ministers, and by this horrible expedient 
had extorted a confession. He now hurried forward 
the trial of Graham of Fintry, had him found guilty, 
and instantly executed ; and having requested the 
prayers of the Kirk for success in his expedition, and 
appointed the Earl of Morton to be Lieutenant-general 
in his absence, he placed himself at the head of his 
army and proceeded against the rebels.* To this ex- 
traordinary vigour of the king against the Spanish 
faction, Bowes, in his letter to Burghley, bore ample 
evidence. After mentioning that Fintry had offered 
fifty thousand pounds Scots to save his life, the am- 
bassador observes, "the king in this hath remained 
resolute ; and alone, without the assistance of any of 
his council, prosecuted the cause. And now, he saith, 
that as alone he hath drawn his sword against his 
rebels, without the counciFs aid or allowance of his 
nobility, so he will proceed, with the help of God, to 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 14th February, 
1592-3. Same to same, lth February, 1592-3. Same to same, 21st Feb- 
ruary, 1592-3. 

1593. JAMES VI. 75 

punish and prosecute the traitors in these high treasons, 
by all the means in his power ; and with the assistance 
of his barons, burghs, and Kirk, whom he findeth 
ready to aid him therein. He was occasioned to stay 
his journey two days beyond his diet for the trial and 
execution of Fintry, and for some wants which are yet 
slenderly supplied : nevertheless, he is ready and de- 
termined to enter into his rode to-morrow, wherein he 
shall be well strengthened with his barons ; but few 
noblemen shall attend upon him." * 

On the twenty-fourth of February, Lord Burgh, 
Elizabeth's ambassador, arrived in Edinburgh ; and on 
his heels came intelligence of the success of the Scot- 
tish king.-f- James had advanced without a check to 
Aberdeen. Huntley and Errol, finding it impossible 
to make head against the royal forces, had fled, slen- 
derly accompanied, to Caithness ; and the Earl of 
Athole, who joined the king with twelve hundred fool 
and nine hundred horse, was appointed Lieutenant- 
general beyond Spey, to reduce those unquiet regions 
and prevent their again falling under the power of the 
rebels. J Meanwhile, the Catholic earls were declared 
forfeited, and their estates seized by the crown ; but, 
from some circumstances, it was augured that the 
king meant to deal leniently, and not utterly wreck 
them. Strathbogie castle, belonging to Huntley, was 
given to Archibald Carmichael, with sixteen of the 
royal guard for a garrison ; but the Countess of Hunt- 
ley, sister to the Duke of Lennox, was allowed to re- 
tain, for her winter residence, the Bog of Gicht, his 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 15th Feb., 1592-a 
+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Lord Burgh to Burghley, 26th Feb., 

1 M8, Letter, State-paper Office, Lord Burgh to Burghley, 6th March, 


greatest castle and estate. A thole received the rest 
of his lands, not in gift, but to hold them as factor for 
the crown. ErroFs father-in-law, the Earl Marshal, 
bought his son's escheat for a thousand marks, with 
the keeping of his castle of Slaines : his mother held 
his other house of Logie- Almond for her jointure ; 
and Athole, whose sister he had married for his second 
wife, became factor of his other possessions. Angus 
was more severely dealt with, not being saved by any 
connexion or relationship with men in power.* His 
house and castle of Tantallon were delivered to the 
keeping of the Laird of Pollard ; Bonkle and Preston 
to William Hume, brother of the king's favourite, Sir 
George Hume ; Douglasdale, and the rest of his lands, 
seized for debt. On the whole, however, the rebel 
lords, considering their crimes, were leniently dealt 
with. Their persons were safe in the fastnesses of 
Caithness ; their patrimonial interest, and rights of 
succession, were considered to be still entire till an 
act of parliament had confirmed the forfeitures ; and 
part of their estates were placed in friendly hands. 
So evident was all this, that Lord Burgh wrote to 
Burghley, that the king " dissembled a confiscation," 
and would leave the rebels in full strength.-}- 

On his return from his northern expedition, James 
gave audience to Lord Burgh, and expressed himself 
gratified by the message and advice of Elizabeth. It 

* Angus' mother was a Graham, daughter of the Laird of Morphy. He 
married the eldest daughter of the Lord Oliphant. MS. State-paper Office, 
1st July, 1592. A Catalogue of the Nobility in Scotland. The original 
indorsement had been simply " Of the nobility in Scotland." Burghley has 
prefixed the words " A catalogue." I mention this minute circumstance to 
prove the authenticity of the paper, which is a highly valuable document, 
showing the ages, matrimonial descent, and marriages, of the whole body 
of the Scottish nobility at the period, 1st July, 1592. See Proofs and Illus- 

\- MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Lord Burgh to Burghley, 5th March, 

1593. JAMES v;. 77 

was her interest, he said, to cooperate heartily with 
him in all his present actions, and assist him to her 
utmost. Was she not as deeply concerned to hinder 
the Spaniard setting his foot in Scotland as in France 
or the Low Countries ? At this moment money was 
imperatively called for ; an armed force of large extent 
must be kept up ; he needed troops to guard his per- 
son, exposed to hourly danger from the plots of his 
nobles, and the snares of the arch-traitor Bothwell, 
with whose daring character she was too well ac- 
quainted : he needed them to overawe the districts 
still favourable to the Catholic lords; to garrison their 
houses, which, according to his good sister's advice, 
he had seized ; to watch the coast where the Spaniards 
were likeliest to land : to repulse them, if they effected 
a descent. The cause was common to both ; and he 
looked not only for sympathy and counsel, but for 
hard coin and brave men. On one point he assured 
Burgh, that the message which he took back must be 
peremptory. " Bothwell," said he, " that vile traitor, 
whose offences against me are unpardonable, and such 
as, for example^s sake, should make him to be abhorred 
by all sovereign princes, is harboured in England : let 
my sister expel him, or deliver him up, as she tenders 
her own honour and my contentment. Should he 
henceforth be conforted or concealed in her dominions, 
I must roundly assure her, not only that our amity is 
at an end, but that I shall be enforced to join in friend- 
ship with her greatest enemies for my own safety." * 
This spirited remonstrance was not out of place ; 
for at this moment Elizabeth, pursuing her old policy 
of weakening Scotland, by destroying its tranquillity 

* Answers for the Lord Burgh, concerning Bothwell. MS. wholly in 
James' hand. Warrender MSS., Book B., p. 401. 


and keeping up its internal commotions, was encour- 
aging Bothwell to a new and more desperate attempt 
against the king and his government. Lord Burgh 
had received secret instructions to entertain this fierce 
and lawless man. To discover his strength and means, 
and increase his faction at court and with the ministers 
of the Kirk, was the secret part of this ambassador's 
mission ; and when James expressed to Bowes his 
admiration of the eloquence, grace, and courtly man- 
ners of this nobleman, he little knew the hidden mine 
which he was digging under his feet. Yet so it was. 
Bothwell had offered his services to the English queen ; 
had written to Lord Burghley ; had received an answer 
of encouragement, though cautiously worded ; and had 
been ordered by the High Treasurer to write secretly 
to the queen.* It will immediately appear how rapidly 
this new conspiracy came to maturity, and how sud- 
denly it burst upon the king. 

Meanwhile, the various factions and family feuds 
amongst the nobility had increased to such a degree, 
that the whole cares of the government fell upon the 
monarch ; and James, naturally indolent and fond of 
his pastimes, began to languish for the return of the 
Chancellor Maitland. This powerful minister had been 
driven from court by the antipathy of the Queen of 
Scots, the Duke of Lennox, and the whole faction of 
the Stewarts, who held him as their mortal enemy, 
and had repeatedly plotted against his life. The exact 
cause of the queen's "heavy wrath" against Maitland, 
appears to have been a mystery alike to the king and 
to Bowes ; but it was deeply rooted, and nearly touched 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bothwell to Thomas Musgrave, whom 
he styles his "Loving brother, Captain of Bewcastle," 7th March, 1592-3. 
MS. State-paper Office, Mr Lock's Instructions, 10th Feb., 1592-3, wholly 
in Lord Burghley 's hand. 

1593. JAMES vi. 79 

her honour. He was at deadly feud also with the 
Master of Glammis, and hated by Bothwell, who re- 
garded him as the author of all his calamities, and the 
forger of that accusation of witchcraft, under the im- 
putation of which he was now a banished and broken 
man. It was difficult for the king to recall to power 
a minister who lay under such a load of enmity; and, 
for the present, he was contented to visit him in his 
retreat at Lethington, and consult him upon the affairs 
of government.* All, however, looked to his probable 
restoration to power ; and the bare idea of it occasioned 
the utmost jealousy and heart-burning in court. 

Nothing, at this moment, could be more deplorable 
than the torn and distracted state of the Scottish no- 
bility. The Duke of Lennox and the Lord Hamilton, 
the two first noblemen in the realm, were at mortal 
feud ; the subject of their quarrel being an attempt, 
on the part of Lennox, to get himself declared the 
next in succession to the crown, to the exclusion of 
the prior right of the family of Hamilton.^ Huntley 
again, and all those barons who supported him, were 
at feud with the potent Earl of Athole, and the whole 
race of Stewart ; the cause of their enmity being an 
unquenchable thirst of revenge for the murder of the 
Earl of Moray. Argyle, Ochiltree, and all the barons 
who adhered to them, were at feud with Lord Thirl- 
staue the chancellor, Lord Hume, Lord Fleming, and 
their faction and allies ; in which course they were 
urged forward by the enmity of the Queen of Scots. J 
It is difficult, by any general expressions, to convey 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 6th Feb., 1592-3. 
Also, ibid., 7th April, 1593. " Occurrents in Scotland " brought by the 
Lord Burgh, who came to the court 14th April. This indorsation is by 
Burghley. Also, ibid., Bowes to Burghley, 19th April, 1593. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 20th May, 1593. 

J MS. State-paper Office, Occurrents of Scotland, 7th April, 1593. 


a picture of the miserable state of a country torn by 
such feuds as these. Nor were these the sole causes 
of disquiet : Huntley, Angus, and Errol, although 
declared traitors, were at large in the north ; Both- 
well, whom the king justly regarded as his mortal 
enemy, was also at liberty, harboured sometimes on 
the Borders, sometimes in England, and even daring 
to enter the capital in disguise and hold secret inter- 
course with the noblemen about the king^s person. 
The intrigues of the Catholics, although checked by 
the late discoveries, were not at an end ; and the min- 
isters of the Kirk, utterly dissatisfied with the leniency 
which James had exhibited to the rebel earls, began 
to attack his conduct in the pulpit, and to throw out 
surmises of his secret inclinations to Popery. Is it a 
subject of wonder that James, thus surrounded with 
danger and disquietude, without a minister whom he 
could trust, or a nobility on whose loyalty and affec- 
tions he could for a moment depend, should have been 
driven into measures which may often appear incon- 
sistent and capricious ? The sole party on whom he 
could depend was that of the ministers of the Kirk, 
with the lesser barons and the burghs ; * and their 
support was only to be bought at the price of the utter 
destruction of the Catholic earls, and the entire extir- 
pation of the Catholic faith. 

To this sweeping act of persecution the monarch 
would not consent. At this moment thirteen of the 
nobility of Scotland were Catholics ;*f* and, in the north- 
ern counties, a large proportion of the people were at- 
tached to the same faith. It was insisted on, by the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Lord Burgh to Burghley, 30th March, 
] 593. 
t MS. State-paper Office, Catalogue of the Nobility of Scotland, 1st July, 

1 Dk/K. 

1593. JAMES VI. 81 

leading ministers of the Kirk, in a convention of the 
Estates which the king summoned at this time,* that 
the strictest investigation should be made for the dis- 
covery and imprisonment of all suspected of heresy ; 
and that, under the penalties of forfeiture and banish- 
ment, they should be compelled to recant, and embrace 
the reformed religion. The severity and intolerance 
of such demands will be best understood by quoting 
the words of the original. The Kirk represented that, 
" Seeing the increase of Papistry daily within this 
realm," it was craved of his majesty, with his council 
and nobility at that time assembled, " that all Papists 
within the same may be punished according to the laws 
of God and of the realm. That the act of parliament 
might, ipso facto, strike upon all manner of men, landed 
or unlanded, in office or not, as it at present strikes 
against beneficed persons. That a declaration be 
made against all Jesuits, seminary priests, and traf- 
ficking Papists, pronouncing them guilty of treason; 
and that the penalties of the act may be enforced 
against all persons who conceal or harbour them, not 
for three days, as it now stands, but for any time 
whatsoever. That all such persons as the Kirk had 
found to be Papists, although they be not excommuni- 
cated, should be debarred from occupying any office 
within the realm, as also from access to his majesty's 
company, or enjoying any benefit of the laws. That 
upon this declaration, the pains of treason and other 
civil pains should follow, as upon the sentence of ex- 
communication ; and that an act of council should be 
passed to this effect, which in the next parliament 
should be made law." If the king agreed to these 
demands, the convention promised, for their part, that 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 19th April, 1593. 


" their bodies, goods, friends, allies, servants, and pos- 
sessions, should be wholly at his service, in any way 
he was pleased to employ them." During the whole 
pursuit of this cause, (the utter destruction of all 
Papistry within the realm,) they declared, that not 
only their whole numbers should be, at all times, a 
guard to the royal person, but that the king might 
select from them any force he pleased as a daily body- 
guard ; the pay of which, however, they prudently 
added, ought to be levied from the possessions of the 
Catholics ; and if this were not enough, they would 
themselves make up the difference.* 

To these sweeping and severe penalties James would 
by no means consent ; and the Kirk, irritated by his 
refusal, withdrew that assistance and cooperation which 
it had hitherto lent him in preserving peace and good 
order. The effects of this were soon apparent. In- 
stead of the happy tranquillity which had reigned 
during his absence in Denmark, and which he had 
mainly ascribed to the efforts of the ministers, the 
capital, as the time of the parliament approached, pre- 
sented almost daily scenes of outrage and confusion. 
The security and sanctity of domestic life were invaded 
and despised ; ruffians, under the command of, and open- 
ly protected by the nobles, tore honourable maidens from 
the bosom of their families, and carried them off in 
open day. James Gray, a brother of the notorious 
Master of Gray, seized a young lady named Carnegie, 
an heiress, and then living under her father's roof; 
carried her forcibly down a narrow close, or street, to 

* MS. State-paper Office, Humble petition of the General Assembly of 
the Kirk, craved of his Majesty's Council and nobility presently convened. 
Fra Dundee, this Lord's day, 29th April, 1593. Also, MS. State-paper 
Office, " The Effects of the Answers of this Convention to the Articles pro- 
poned by the King's Majesty." 

1593. JAMES VI. 83 

the North Loch, a lake which then surrounded the 
castle ; delivered her to a party of armed men, who 
dragged her into a boat, her hair hanging about her 
face, and her clothes almost torn from her person ; 
whilst Graves associate, Lord Hume, kept the streets 
with his retainers, beat off the provost who attempted 
a rescue, and slew some of the citizens who had pre- 
sumed to interfere. Next day, the chief magis- 
trate carried his complaint in person before the king. 
" Do you see here any of my nobles whom you can 
accuse?" said James. At that moment Hume was 
standing beside James ; but when the unhappy provost 
encountered his fierce eye, the impeachment stuck in his 
throat from terror, and he retired silent and abashed.* 
The outrage was the more shameful, as Gray was a 
gentleman of the king^s suite, and had been assisted by 
Sir James Sandilands and other courtiers ; whilst the 
Duke of Lennox and the Earl of Mar were playing tennis 
hard by, and abstained from all interference. So atro- 
cious an insult upon the laws, and the miserable weak- 
ness exhibited by the king and the chief magistrate, ap- 
pear to have made a deep impression on Burghley, who 
has written on the margin of Bowes' letter this pithy 
note : " A miserable State, that may cause us to bless 
ours, and our governess."^ It was not long after this 
that a day of law, as it was termed, was to be kept for the 
trial of Campbell of Ardkinglass, accused of the murder 
of the Laird of Caddell, a gentleman of the name of 
Campbell, who had himself been a principal actor in 
the tragedy of the Earl of Moray. Ardkinglass was 
a relative and favourite of Argyle, who assembled his 

* MS. Calderwood, British Museum, Ayscough, 4738, fol. 1137. MS. 
Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, JOth June, 1593. 
t Id. Ibid. 


friends, and on the day of trial entered the capital 
with a formidable force. The accused was about to be 
married to a natural daughter of Lord John Hamilton, 
which occasioned the muster of the whole power of 
that house; and the Chancellor Thirlstane, esteem- 
ing the opportunity a favourable one to exhibit his 
strength, and prepare the way for his return to court, 
Tode from his retirement into the city, attended by 
Arbroath, Montrose, Seton, Livingston, Glencairn, 
Eglinton, and other powerful friends.* This again 
was sufficient to rouse the fears of his enemies, the 
party of the queen ; who assembled in great strength, 
led by the Duke of Lennox, and numbering in their 
ranks, Mar, Morton, Hume, the Master of Glaminis, 
Sir George Hume, Lord Spiny, and Sir James Sandi- 
lands. The Border barons, too, Lord Maxwell and 
Cessford, were on their march ; the Lords of Session, 
who had to try the criminal, and trembled for their 
lives, had resolved to raise a body of a hundred men 
to protect them; and the townsmen were, in the mean- 
time, kept day and night under arms. All this was 
most formidable to the king, who found himself almost 
alone amid his difficulties.^ The danger, too, was 
increased by the sudden apparition, amid the darkness, 
of a meteor which had ever indicated perplexity and 
change. Captain James Stewart, once the formidable 
and haughty Earl of Arran, had been seen lately in 
the palace. It was known he had been favourably 
received by James in several secret interviews ; the 
queen and the duke were his friends ; his misfortunes 
had neither tamed his pride, nor quelled that fierce 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 17th June, 1593. 
Also, ibid., same to same, 20th June, 1593. 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 17th June, 1593. 

1593. JAMES VI. 85 

energy and unscrupulous daring which had prompted 
him to destroy the Regent Morton ; and at this crisis, 
when all were anticipating the return of the chancellor 
to power, it was suspected that the enemies of Mait- 
land had determined to recall Stewart, and employ 
him for the destruction of this minister.* He had 
already pulled down one far mightier from his palmy 
state : what, said the queen and Lennox, was to pre- 
vent him from being successful against another ? 

Amid these complicated distresses James had scarce- 
ly one councillor on whom he could rely. With his 
capital bristling with steel-clad barons, each feeling 
himself superior to the throne or the law ; the streets 
in possession of tumultuous bodies of retainers and 
feudal banditti, armed to the teeth and commanded by 
men at mortal feud with each other: his court and 
palace divided by the intrigues of the several rival 
factions ; diffident even of the gentlemen who waited 
on his person ; distracted by reports that troopers had 
been seen hovering in the neighbourhood, completely 
armed and disguised ; } deserted for the time by the 
Kirk ; uncertain as yet of the success of the embassy 
of Sir Robert Melvil, whom he had lately sent to 
Elizabeth ; and tormented by hourly reports of unde- 
fined but urgent dangers and mysterious conspiracies; 
the wonder is, that a prince of James 1 indolent and 
timid temper should not have sunk under such a state 
of things. But the emergency seemed to rouse him ; 
and by an unusual exertion of firmness and good sense, 
he succeeded in warding oft' the dangers, persuaded the 
barons to dismiss their followers, and brought about 
a reconciliation between the queen's faction, led by the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 20th June, 1593. 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 19th June, 159.?. 


duke, and their powerful enemy the Chancellor Mait- 
land. It had long been evident to the king that, in 
the present state of the country, no hand but that of 
Maitland could save the government from absolute 
wreck and disruption ; and it was agreed, that on the 
conclusion of the parliament, which was now on the 
eve of meeting, this minister should return to court, 
and be reinstated in his high office.* 

Scarce, however, was this danger averted than the 
city was thrown into a new state of excitement by the 
shrieks and lamentations of a troop of miserable women, 
who had travelled from the Borders, the victims and 
survivors of a recent raid conducted by the Laird of 
Johnston. Their purpose was to throw themselves 
before the king, and demand justice for the slaughter 
of their sons and husbands, whose bloody shirts they 
held above their heads, exhibiting them to the people 
as they marched through the streets, and imprecating 
vengeance upon their murderers. It was a sight which, 
in any other country, might well have roused both 
pity and indignation ; but though the people mur- 
mured, the ghastly procession passed on without fur- 
ther notice, and neither kin<j nor noble condescended 


to interfere."}* 

The parliament now assembled ; but its proceedings 
were delayed by a quarrel between the higher nobles 
for the precedency in bearing the honours. At length 
it was arranged that Lennox should carry the crown, 
Argyle the sceptre, and Morton the sword ; and that, 
in the absence of the Chancellor Maitland, Alexander 
Seton, President of the Session, should fill his place, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, ut supra. Also, ibid., Bowes to Burgh- 
ley, 22d June, 1593. Also, ibid., same to same, 28th June, 1593. 
f MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4738, fol. 1138-39. 

1593. JAMES VI. 87 

and conduct the proceedings.* Bothwell was then 
forfeited, and proclaimed a traitor at the Cross ; and 
the queen's jointure, which had been settled at her 
marriage, and regarding which some difficulties had 
arisen, was confirmed. To conciliate the Kirk, an act 
was passed exempting ministers' 1 stipends from taxation ; 
another statute was introduced against the Mass ; and 
a strict inquisition ordered to be made for all Papists 
and seminary priests : but on the great subject for 
which it was understood parliament had met, the 
prosecution and forfeiture of the Popish earls, the 
party of the Kirk were miserably disappointed, or 
rather, all their gloomiest expectations were fulfilled. 
Huntley, Errol, Angus, and Auchendown, escaped 
forfeiture. It had been secretly resolved by the king, 
that no extreme proceedings should be adopted against 
these noblemen, who had a numerous and powerful 
party on their side,f till Sir Robert Melvil, then at 
the English court, had brought an answer from Eliza- 
beth ; and although the Earl of Argyle, Lord Forbes, 
Lord Lindsay, and the Protestant faction, anxiously 
urged the most severe measures, James was resolute. 
Mr David Makgill, the king's advocate, a man of 
extraordinary talent, but who had often opposed the 
Kirk, declared that the summonses were informal, the 
evidence of traitorous designs and correspondence with 
Spain insufficient ; and that it was impossible for any 
act of attainder to pass in the present meeting of the 

This for the time settled the matter : but the Kirk 

* MS. British Museum. Caligula, D II. 128. Bowes to Burghley, July 
IGth, 1593. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 20th June, 1593. 

t MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, D II., Bowes to Burghley, 8th 
July ; also, 10th July, and 14th July, 1593. 


were deeply indignant; and their champion, Mr John 
Davison, denounced the proceedings, and attacked the 
sovereign in the pulpit on the Sunday which succeeded 
their close. " It was a black parliament," he said ; 
" for iniquity was seated in the high court of Justice, 
and had trodden equity under foot. It was a black 
parliament : for the arch-traitors had escaped ; escaped, 
did he say ! no : they were absolved ; and now all 
good men might prepare themselves for darker days : 
trials were at hand : it had ever been seen that the 
absolving of the wicked imported the persecution of 
the righteous. Let us pray," said he, in conclusion, 
" that the king, by some sanctified plagues, may be 
turned again to God."* 

Such plagues as Davison thus prayed for, were 
nearer at hand than many imagined : for Elizabeth, 
according to her favourite policy, had more than one 
plot now carrying forward in Scotland. Her accredited 
ambassador, Sir Robert Bowes, was indeed instructed 
to keep up the most friendly assurances, and to pro- 
mise the King of Scots her cordial assistance in defeat- 
ing Bothwell, and destroying the Roman Catholic 
faction : yet at this moment she had sent Mr Henry 
Lock into Scotland, who with his brother-in-law, the 
notorious Mr John Colvile, and Bothwell himself, met 
secretly in Edinburgh, and organized a formidable 
confederacy,-}- the object of which was to bring in 
Bothwell, take possession of the king^s person, over- 
whelm the Chancellor Maitland who was on the eve 
of being recalled to power, and render the Kirk tri- 
umphant over its enemies. To this plot the Duke of 
Lennox, the Earl of Mar, the Earl of A thole, Lord 

* MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4738, fol. 1139. 

t MS. State-paper Office, B.C., John Carey to Burghley, 1st Aug., 1593. 

1593. JAMES vi. 89 

Ochiltree, and the whole noblemen and barons of the 
name and race of Stewart were parties ; and they 
chose this meeting of the three Estates, when the king 
was surrounded by many of their faction, to carry 
their purpose into execution. The parliament was 
now about to terminate, when, on the nifjht of the 

77 O 

twenty-third of July, Bothwell was secretly conveyed 
into the house of Lady Gowrie, which adjoined the 
palace of Holyrood. This lady's daughter was the 
Countess of Athole, to whose courage and ingenuity 
the success of the plot was principally owing. Early 
in the morning of the twenty-fourth of July, she 
smuggled Bothwell and Mr John Colvile, by a back 
passage, into the anteroom adjoining the king's bed- 
chamber, hid them behind the arras, removed the 
weapons of the guard, and locked the door of the 
queen's bedchamber, through which the king might 
have escaped. The gates of the palace were then 
occupied by the Duke and Athole, who placed a guard 
upon them. All this time James was asleep ; but he 
awoke at nine, and calling for one of the gentlemen 
of his bedchamber, got up and threw his nightgown 
about him. An alarm now suddenly rose in the next 
room ; and the king rushing out with his hose about 
his heels, and his under-garments in his hands, con- 
fronted Bothwell, who had glided from behind the 
hangings, and stood with his drawn sword in his hand, 
Colvile being beside him. James shouted " Treason ! " 
and ran to the door of the queen's bedroom ; but it 
was found locked : and nothing remained but to face 
his enemy, which, when driven to it, he did with 
unwonted spirit, and his usual voluble eloquence. 
" Come on," said he, " Francis : you seek my life, 
and I know I am wholly in your power. Take your 


king's life : I am ready to die. Better to die with 
honour than live in captivity and shame. Nay, kneel 
not, man," he continued, (by this time the Duke and 
Athole had come in, and Bothwell and Colvile had 
thrown themselves on their knees ;) " kneel not, and 
add hypocrisy to treason. You protest, forsooth, you 
only come to sue for pardon, to submit yourself to 
your trial for witchcraft, to be cleansed by your peers 
of the foul imputations which lie heavy on you. Does 
this violent manner of repair look like a suppliant? 
Is it not dishonourable to me, and disgraceful to my 
servants who have allowed it ? What do you take 
me for? Am I not your anointed king, twenty-seven 
years old, and no longer a boy or a minor, when every 
faction could make me their property? But you have 
plotted my death, and I call upon you now to execute 
your purpose : for I will not live a prisoner and dis- 
honoured." As he said this, the king sat calmly 
down, as if prepared for the worst ; but Bothwell, still 
on his knees, loudly disclaimed all such murderous 
intentions, and kissing the hilt of his sword, took it 
by the point, delivered it to his sovereign, and placing 
his head beneath James 1 foot, bared his neck of its 
long tresses, (then the fashion of the young gallants 
of the day,) and called upon him to strike it off if he 
believed that he ever harboured a thought against his 
royal person.* The Duke of Lennox, Athole, and 
Ochiltree, now vehemently interceded for the earl ; 
and James, raising him from the ground, retired into 
a window recess to talk apart ; when an uproar arose 
below in the streets, and the citizens of Edinburgh, 
who had heard a rumour of the enterprise, rushed 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, August, 18, 1593. 
MelviTs Memoirs, Bannatyne edition, pp. 414, 415. 

1-593. JAMES VI. 91 

tumultuously into the palace-yard, headed by their 
provost, Alexander Hume, who loudly called to the 
king, then standing at the open casement, that, on a 
single word from him, they would force the doors and 
rid him of the traitors about him. James, however, 
who dreaded to be slain, or torn in pieces, if the two 
factions came to blows, commanded the citizens to 
disperse ; and taking refuge in that dissimulation of 
which he was so great a master, pretended to be re- 
conciled to Bothwell, fixed a near day for his trial, 
and simply stipulated that, till he was acquitted, he 
should retire from court. To all this the earl agreed. 
Next day his peace was proclaimed by the heralds at 
the Cross. The people, of whom he was a great 
favourite, crowded round him ; and not only his own 
faction, which was very strong, but the ministers of 
the Kirk showed themselves highly gratified at his 

Having settled this, Bothwell left the capital ; and 
attended only by two servants, rode to Berwick, where 
he had an interview with Mr John Carey, the son of 
Lord Hunsdon, and governor of that border town ; 
showed him the commission under the King of Scots' 
hand assuring him of pardon ; professed the utmost 
devotion to Elizabeth ; and declared that, within a 
brief season, he expected to be made " Lieutenant-ge- 
neral of the whole country."^ He then proceeded to 
Durham, on his road, as he said, to the English court, 
to confer with her majesty " what course it would 
please her to direct for his guidance ;" and on reaching 
that city, insisted on thrusting himself into the con- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 25th July, 1593, 
Ibid., another letter, same day, same to the same. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., John Carey to Burghley, 1st 
August, 1593. 


fidence and becoming the guest of Dr Toby Mathews, 
the dean, one of the council of the north ; who vehe- 
mently declined his explanations, professed his igno- 
rance of " Scottish causes,' 1 and advised him to address 
himself to Burghley, Lord Hunsdon, or Sir Robert 
Bowes. All was in vain, however. The Scottish earl 
settled himself on the venerable dignitary, and " put- 
ting him to silence," ran over the story of his whole 
courses, and ended with his late seizure of the king. 
Mathews, who had no mind to be made a party in such 
violent matters, did not permit his eyelids to slumber 
till he had written an account of it all to Burghley. 
His letter, which is dated at midnight, on the 2d 
August, gives us an excellent account of the interview. 
" This day," says he, " about three of the clock after- 
noon, came hither to my house the Earl Bothwell, 
thereunto moved, as he protested, as well by some 
good opinion of me conceived, as for that he under- 
stands I am one of her majesty's council established 
in the north. * * And, albeit, I was very loath 
to enter into any speech of the Scottish affairs, espe- 
cially of State, wishing him to write thereof to your 
lordship, or to the Lord President ; or, if he so thought 
good, to negotiate his business with her majesty's 
ambassador resident in Scotland : yet could I not 
avoid it ; but he would needs acquaint me with some- 
what thereof. * * Wherewith, putting me, as 
it were, to silence, he began, with exceeding amplifi- 
cations, to acknowledge himself most bounden to her 
majesty for the permission he hath enjoyed in Nor- 
thumberland and thereabouts, notwithstanding the 
king's importunity and practice of his enemies to the 
contrary ; and to protest, with all solemnity, before 
the Majesty of God, that her highness, in regard 

1593. JAMES VI. 93 

thereof, shall ever have him a loyal and most faithful 
Englishman hereafter : albeit, heretofore, he were 
thought never in opinion a Papist, yet in affection 
and faction a Spaniard. ' Well done once, my lord, 1 
quoth I, ' is double well said ; ' which word, although 
he took somewhat displeasantly, yet did it occasion 
him to affirm and confirm the same, over and over 
again, so far as possibly may stand with the amity of 
both the princes, and the perpetual conservation of 
religion now openly professed both in England and 

" Then began he to discourse the manner and means 
of his late enterprise, and entrance to the king's pre- 
sence ; * * which, to mine understanding, was a 
plain surprise of the king in his bedchamber, made by 
the earl and another gentleman, in the sight of the 
duke, the Earls of Mar and Athole, with others his 
friends purposely assembled : his sword in his hand, 
drawn ; the king fearfully offering to withdraw him- 
self into the queen^s chamber, which before was devis- 
ed to be kept shut against him. Howbeit,as upon short 
conference between the king and the earl a little apart, 
they soon grew to an accord. * * So he confessed 
to me, that immediately after this pacification, the 
king used all means, rough and smooth, to sound and 
pierce him thoroughly : what favours have been done 
him ; what sums of money sent him ; what promises 
made him ; what advice or direction given him from 
her majesty or council, or other English, to get access 
in court to possess the king. Whereunto the earl 
made answer by utter denial, saving that her highness 
had a princely commiseration of his distressed estate, 
so far only as to yield him to take the benefit of the 
air of her country for preservation of his liberty and 


life, so narrowly sought by the king ; so directly and 
cruelly by his adversaries. * * The king, with 
marvellous vehemency, insisted long upon that point, 
and eftsoons conjured him, ' by all the faith he bare 
him, by all the allegiance he owed him, by all the love 
he professed to him, by all the favour he hoped for 
ever to find of him, that he should not conceal Eliza- 
beth's dealings from him ; being,' as he said, ' a mat- 
ter so manifest.' But," continued Dr Toby to Burgh- 
ley, " the more violently the king sought to sift him, 
the more resolute was the earl, not only peremptorily 
to disclaim every particular thereof, but in sort, as he 
could, to charge the king with much unkindness and 
unthankfulness causelessly to carry such jealousy and 
suspicion of her majesty, who had hitherto been so 
gracious a lady, yea, a very mother unto him ; and, 
under the providence of God, the only supporter of his 
estate that ever he found, or is like to find upon earth. 
Now hear, O Francis ! ' quoth the king, ' and have 
you then so soon forgotten my dear mother's death V 
' In good faith,' quoth the earl, as he saith, ' if you, 
my liege, have forgiven it so long since, why should 
not I forget it so long after ; the time of revenge 
being by your own means, and not mine, so far gone 
by. A fault can but have amends, which her majesty 
hath made you many ways ; and so hath she made 
me amends of all amisses, this once for all : to whom, 
with your pardon, Sir, I will ascribe not only my lands 
and living, but my life, with liberty and honour, which 
is most of all, not only as freely bestowed upon my- 
self, but extended to all mine and my posterity : so 
as it shall never be seen or heard that ever Earl Both- 
well, for all the crowns of France, for all the ducats 
in Spain, for all the siller and gold in the Indies East 

1593. JAMES vi. 95 

and West, for all the kingdoms in Europe, Africa, 
and Asia, shall utter one word in council, or bear arms 
in field, against the amity of the two realms and 
princes, and the religion now by them authorized. 
And farther, I make God a vow, 1 quoth he to the king, 
' that if ye, King Jamie, yourself, shall ever prove 
false to your religion and faith to your God, as they 
say the French king hath done to his shame and con- 
fusion, I shall be one of the first to withdraw from 
your majesty, and to adhere to the Queen of England, 
the most gracious instrument of God, and the orna- 
ment of the Christian world.' From this he proceed- 
ed to the deposition of the Chancellor Maitland, upon 
whom he bestowed many an ill word and many a bad 
name : and answered the objection of subrogating 
Stewart in his room (who is not as yet, but is likely 
to be ;) undertaking confidently to assure, that what- 
soever he had done heretofore, he should henceforth 
concur with her highness, as well as himself, in all 
things lawfully to be commanded. What party they 
are, as well the duke and earls as other lords arid lairds 
of most commandment, he saith your lordship shall 
from him receive, in a catalogue subscribed with their 
own hands, by Mr Lock, whom these two days he hath 
looked for and mervaileth not a little at his uncoming. 
The earl doth purpose to follow him soon after that 
he shall have undergone his trial for the witchcraft, 
which is now instant. The considerations whereof are, 
as he pretendeth, the only cause of absenting himself 
out of Scotland until the very day ; lest, having now 
the king in his power, it should hereafter be objected, 
that in the proceedings thereof, he had done what 
himself listed. His lordship did earnestly require me, 
moreover, because Mr Lock was not yet come, to re- 


member your lordship to take order that the union 
intended by her majesty between the Popish and Pro- 
testant parties in Scotland be not overhastily prose- 
cuted, lest the multitude of the one may in time, and 
that soon, wreck the other, being fewer in number, 
and so become rulers of the king. * * His lord- 
ship acknowledged he hath now in Edinburgh and 
Holyrood House, of his own pay, a thousand soldiers, 
whereof the greater part are good musketeers, besides 
fifty horse to attend the king's person. * * * He 
maketh no question but by her majesty's assistance, 
whereupon he seemeth willing wholly to depend, he 
shall be, with his friends and followers, sufficiently 
able to manage the estate about the king, to the peace 
of both realms, against all the forces and frauds of 
Spain. * * *^ 

" This nobleman," so the Dean concluded his letter 
to Burghley, " hath a wonderful wit, and as wonderful 
a volubility of tongue as ability and agility of body 
on horse and foot ; competently learned in the Latin ; 
well languaged in the French and Italian ; much de- 
lighted in poetry ; and of a very resolute disposition 
both to do and to suffer ; nothing dainty to discover 
his humour or any good quality he hath. Now, as 
your lordship is like to hear of all these and many 
other particulars more at large, as the king's affection 
to the Lady Morton's daughter, and a strange letter 
written to some such effect, with some good assurance 
taken to bring a greater estate there into their asso- 
ciation, and unto her majesty's devotion : so, since I 
was importuned thus far to lend him mine ear, and to 
relate his discourse to your lordship with what fidelity 
and celerity I could, I am most humbly to beseech 
your lordship, that in case it be not lawful (as in 

159S. JAMES VI. 97 

mine own poor opinion it is nothing convenient) for 
me to have talk with him or any from him, your lord- 
ship will vouchsafe so much to signify unto me by 
your ' honourable letter,' or otherwise, with expedi- 
tion ; lest by him, or some of his, I be driven to this 
pressure, in a manner, whether I will or no." * 

Immediately after this visit of Bothwell to the Dean, 
Mr Lock, the envoy of Elizabeth, who had organized the 
conspiracy which had thus placed James in the power 
of his enemies, arrived from Scotland ; and by him 
Bothwell sent the following letter to the English queen. 
"MosT RENOWNED EMPRESS, The gracious usage 
of so clement a princess towards me in my greatest 
extremity should most justly accuse me of ingratitude, 
if (being in the place wherein a little more than be- 
fore I might) I should not perform those offices which 
then I did promise. So have I directed the bearer 
hereof to impart the same unto your majesty with 
more certainty than before ; to whom, as I have [pro- 
mised,] so did I move my associates in all points to 
ratify my speeches ; and, by their oaths in his pre- 
sence, confirm the same. So, fearing to offend your 
most royal ears, having in this, so in all other things, 
imparted my full mind to this bearer, whom I doubt 
not your highness will credit, my most humble and 
dutiful service being remembered, and your highness 
committed in the protection of the Eternal, after most 
humble kissing of your most heavenly hands, most 
humbly I take my leave." *f* 

Having despatched this superlative effusion of 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Dr Tobias Mathevr to Burghley, 
2d August, 1593. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Earl of Bothwell to the Queen. 
Indorsed in Burghley's hand, Earl Bothwell to the Q. Maj. by Lock, 4th 
August, 1593. 



flattery to his renowned empress, Both well addressed 
a few lines to the grave Burghley, thanking him for 
his " fatherly advices ; " promising all grateful obe- 
dience, and signing himself his loving son.* He then 
collected from his friends on the Border six couple of 
hounds and some excellent horses, as a conciliatory 
present to the Scottish king ; ^ and returned to stand 
his trial for witchcraft, which had been fixed for the 
tenth of August. 

Meanwhile, the royal captive had not been idle. 
Although surrounded by his enemies and strictly 
watched, he contrived to receive messages from Hunt- 
ley, who was mustering a large force in the north ; 
and secretly communicated with Lord Hume and the 
Master of Glammis on the best way of making his 
escape. He was assisted in this by three gentlemen 
of the house of Erskine, who had been permitted to 
remain about his person. They employed two others 
of his attendants, named Lesley and Ogilvy ; and it 
was resolved that a rescue should be attempted im- 
mediately after the trial of Bothwell, when the king 
was to pass over the Forth from Holyrood to Falk- 
land. A fleet horse was to be ready at the park gate; 
James, eluding his guards, was to mount and gallop 
to Lochleven ; whilst Hume, with all his forces, 
making an onset on the opposite faction, who had been 
assembled for the trial in the capital, hoped either to 
seize their leaders or put them to death. All these 
preparations were managed by the king with such 
accomplished dissimulation, that he completely blind- 
ed Bothwell and his associates. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bothwell to Burghley, August, 1593. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., John Carey to Burghley, 1st Aug., 
1593. Also, ibid., B.C., Sir William Reid to Burghley, llth August,1593 ; 
and ibid., B.C., Sir John Foster to Burghley, 20th August, 1593. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, llth August, 1593. 

1593. JAMES VI. 99 

The trial now came on, and lasted from one in the 
forenoon till ten at night. In the indictment the 
earl was accused, on the evidence of several deposi- 
tions made by Richard Graham, who had been burnt 
for witchcraft, of three several attempts against the 
king's life and estate : one by poison ; another by 
fabricating a waxen image in the likeness of the 
monarch ; and the last, by enchantments to prevent 
his ever returning out of Denmark. The poison was 
compounded, according to the declaration of the 
wizard, of adders 1 skins, toads 1 skins, and the hippo- 
manes in the head of a young foal ; and was to be 
placed where it might ooze down upon the king's 
head where he usually sat, a single drop being of such 
devilish and pestilent strength as to cause instant 
death. The defence of the earl was conducted by 
Craig the famous feudal lawyer, who contended that 
Graham's various depositions were not only inconsis- 
tent and contradictory in themselves, but refuted by 
the declarations of his miserable sisters in sorcery, 
Sampson, Macalzean, and Napier ; whilst he proved, 
by unexceptionable evidence, that Graham had been 
induced to accuse Bothwell under a promise of pardon 
signed by the King's Counsel, and from the terror of 
being tortured. The earl also defended himself with 
much spirit and eloquence; and the result was, his 
triumphant acquittal ; which, considering the strength 
of his party at this moment, would probably have 
been the issue had he been as guilty as he really ap- 
pears to have been innocent.* 

All this took place on the tenth. On the eleventh, 
the plot laid for the king's escape was to be carried 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Mr John Carey to Burghley, 12th 
August, 1593. 


into effect ; and at three in the morning of that day, 
everything was in readiness. William Lesley, one 
of the gentlemen of the bedchamber, carrying with 
him the king's ring and a letter for Lord Hume, was 
passing as silently as he could through the court-yard ; 
when Bothwell, who slept in the palace, was awakened 
by the watch, who suspected some secret practice, and 
rushing down seized the messenger, found on his 
person the king's letter and signet, and discovered the 
whole. The rest of the gentlemen were then arrested 
and delivered to the guard ; and the earl, repairing to 
the king, who was by this time making ready to take 
horse, interdicted the journey, and charged him with 
his breach of promise. A stormy interview ensued. 
James insisted that he would ride to Falkland. Both- 
well assured him that he should not leave the palace 
till the country was more settled. " You and your 
fellows," said James, "have broken your promises, 
imprisoned my servants, and now think to hold me a 
captive. Where are the three Erskines? where is 
Gilbert Ogilvy ? where the faithful Lesley ? Did ye 
not swear that I should return, after the trial, to 
Falkland ; and that you, Bothwell, should withdraw 
from my company as soon as you were cleared by an 
assize?" "And so we shall, 11 replied the earl. "But 
first, my liege, we must be relaxed from the horn, 
restored to our lands and offices, and see the foul 
murder of the Earl of Moray punished. They who 
slew him are known ; they, too, who signed the 
warrant for the slaughter, the Chancellor Maitland, 
Sir George Hume, and Sir Robert Melvil." " Tush, 
tush," said the king ; " a better man than you, Both- 
well, shall answer for Sir Robert." " I deny that," 
insolently retorted Bothwell ; " unless the man you 

1593. JAMES VI. JO] 

mean is your majesty himself." This was a home- 
thrust, for it had been long suspected that the kino- 
was indirectly implicated in the fate of Moray ; and 
when the earl proceeded to charge the Erskines with 
the conspiracy for escape, nothing could equal James 1 
indignation, and all hopes of a reconciliation seemed 
at an end.* It was in vain that the ministers of the 
Kirk were summoned to promote peace: they prevailed 
nothing ; and, as a last resource, Bowes the English 
ambassador was called in. With matchless effrontery 
he declared his mistress 1 astonishment at the enter- 
prise of Bothwell ; regretted the facility with which 
so treasonable an invasion had been pardoned ; and 
expressed her anxiety for the safety of the king's per- 
son, and the preservation of the country from rebellion. 
James answered, that it was not for him to answer for 
the enterprise of Bothwell. He was no accomplice, 
but its victim ; and for the traitors who now kept 
him, they had forsworn themselves, and broken every 
promise. Was he not prevented from free access to 
his own palace of Falkland? Had they not imprisoned 
five of his servants, and demanded the trial of the 
chancellor, the Master of Glammis, and Sir George 
Hume? and when he asked why, insolently answered 
that they might be hanged.-f- But let them look to 
themselves. He might seem in a helpless state ; but 
he was their king : and sooner would he suffer his 
hand to be cut from his wrist than sign any letter of 
remission at their imperious bidding ; sooner endure 
the extremity of death, than consent to live a captive, 
and in dishonour. Bowes assured him of his mistress' 
sympathy ; advised an amicable settlement ; and at 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, ICth August, 1593. 
t Id. ibid. 


last, after two days' labour, with the assistance of 
some mediators selected from the ministers, the judges 
of the Session, and the chief magistrates of the city, 
succeeded in bringing the parties to an agreement. 

During the whole of these conferences, the king 
appears to have behaved with such unwonted spirit 
and resolution, that it is evident he must have been 
assured of a large party, and of near and speedy 
succour. He declared, in sharp terms, to the ministers 
of the Kirk, that he would either be once more a free 
monarch and released from these traitors, or proclaim 
himself a captive : and he charged them, on their 
allegiance, to let his mind be known to his people ; 
to exhort them to procure his delivery by force ; and 
to assure them he would hazard his life to attain it.* 
When Athole proposed himself to be appointed Lieu- 
tenant-governor in the north, with full power against 
Huntley, and Bothwell claimed the same high office in 
the south, Jarnes, almost with contempt, refused both 
the one and the other ; but he consented to pardon 
Bothwell and his associates, for all his attempts 
against his person ; and agreed that Lord Hume, the 
Chancellor Maitland, the Master of Glammis, and 
Sir George Hume, should not repair to court till the 
conclusion of the parliament, which was to meet 
within a month or six weeks at Stirling. -f- Nothing, 
however, was farther from the king's intention than 
the fulfilment of these promises, which he knew he 
could at any future time disregard and pronounce in- 
valid, as extorted by force ; and before such time 
arrived, he hoped to be able to muster a party which 
might defy his enemies, and secure that revenge which 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 16th August, 1593. 
+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office. Accord betwixt the King of Scots 
and Earl Bothwell, 14th August, 1593. 

1593. JAMES VI. 103 

was only to prove the deeper, because it was dissembled 
and deferred. Meanwhile, with that elasticity, and 
levity with which he could cover his gravest purposes, 
he resumed his gaiety, partook of a banquet at Both- 
welPs house in Leith, appeared wholly bent on his 
pastime, and rode to Inchmurrin to hunt fallow-deer.* 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 16th Aug., 1593. 






Henry IV. 

Rudolph II. 

Philip II. 

Philip II. 

Clement VIII. 

IN the late revolution James had exhibited unusual 
firmness ; and this last compromise with Bothwell was 
almost a victory. Nor was he deceived in his expec- 
tations of still farther triumph over this insolent noble, 
whom he now justly regarded as the leader of the 
English party and of the Kirk. The resolution and 
courage which the king had exhibited, convinced his 
turbulent barons that he was no longer a minor, or a 
puppet, to be tossed about from faction to faction, and 
made the helpless and passive instrument of their 
ambition. Many of them, therefore, began to attach 
themselves to the royal faction, from self-interest 
rather than loyalty ; and however fatal to the peace 
of the country, the deadly feuds which existed amongst 
the nobles, by preventing combination, formed the 
strength of the monarch at this moment. It was 
evident that Bothwell had either deceived Elizabeth 
or himself, when he spoke to Carey and Mathews of 
his overwhelming strength, and the facility with which 

1593. JAMES vi. 105 

he could guide the government of Scotland according 
to the wishes of his renowned empress. Already his 
ally, the Duke of Lennox, young, capricious, and a 
favourite of James, began to waver ; and before the 
appointed convention met at Stirling on the ninth of 
September, a powerful reaction had taken place, which 
no efforts of English intrigue could arrest. It was in 
vain that Elizabeth, Burghley, and Sir Robert Cecil 
his son, who now acted as a chief counsellor in all 
" Scottish causes," exerted themselves to keep up a 
faction, and even entered into a secret communication 
with Huntley and the Popish party, in the vain hope 
of bringing about a coalition between them and Both- 
well. The effort to join with the Roman Catholics, 
whom they had so often stigmatized as enemies to the 
truth, only served to show the fraud and falsehood of 
Elizabeth's and Cecil's constantly-repeated assertion, 
that they were guided solely by zeal for the glory of 
God and the interests of the true religion ; and Bowes 
the ambassador assured them, that if the plot for this 
unnatural combination went forward, the ministers of 
the Kirk, from whom it could not be concealed, would 
*' greatly start and wonder hereat." * Besides, how 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 6th Sept., 1593. 
As this fact is new, and shows the insincerity of Elizabeth and Burghley, 
and the sincerity and honesty of the Kirk, proving, also, that Bothwell's 
party was the party of the Kirk, I give the passage from Bowes' letter. 

"The party employed to sound Ghanus [HuntleyJ and his compartners, 
how they stand affected to proceed in and perform their offers made for 
America [England,] letteth me know that he hath spoken with Chanus, 
and with such as tendered this offer for him and the rest; and that they 
will go forwards agreeable to the motions offered. For the which this party 
thus travelling herein hath promised to go forwards in his course with dili- 
gence, as all things may he effected with best expedition and secrecy, likeas 
it will be made known, I trust, to your Lordship, very shortly. I under- 
stand perfectly that Chanus [Huntley] will both impart to Petrea [King of 


was he to reconcile the course now recommended with 
his instructions to prosecute the Papistical rebels ? 
How could he allow Huntley's uncle, a priest and a 
Jesuit, to steal quietly out of Scotland, and yet satisfy 
the Kirk and the Protestant leaders, that he (Bowes) 
was an enemy to the idolaters ? All this needed to be 
reconciled and explained ; and he begged for speedy 

We have seen how completely Bothwell had been 
supported and encouraged in his late audacious and 
treasonable enterprises by the English queen. He was 
now to feel the fickleness of her favour : and with that 
deep hypocrisy which so often marked her political 
conduct, she addressed a letter to the King of Scots, 
and instructions to Bowes, in which she stigmatized 
the Scottish earl as guilty of an abominable fact, which 
moved her utmost abhorrence ; and expressed her un- 
feigned astonishment, that any subject who had acted 
thus insolently, had not only escaped without chastise- 
ment, but had received, as it appeared, a remission of 
such atrocious conduct. She alluded also, with scorn 
and indignation, to his refusal to prosecute those 
" notable traitors of the north," Huntley, Errol, and 
Angus, " who had conspired among themselves, and 
agreed to admit great forces of strangers to enter into 
his realm, to the ruin of his estate and the subversion 
of religion ;" and she warned him that such sudden 
changes as had been brought to her ears, such capri- 
ciousness and imbecility of judgment, would end not 
only in the loss of his liberty, but might endanger his 

greatly start and wonder hereat. Therefore I beseech your Lordship that 
this may be well considered." Bowes very naturally goes on to observe, 
that this course of friendship with the Catholics is inconsistent with his in- 
structions, which commanded him to prosecute the " Papistical rebels." 
* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, Gth Sept., 1593. 

1593. JAMES VI. 107 

life.* It did not suit James' policy or circumstances 
to tear the veil from these pretences at this moment ; 
and, indeed, we are not certain that, however he may 
have suspected Elizabeth's double-dealing, he had de- 
tected it with anything of the certainty with which we can 
now unravel her complicated intrigues. At all events, 
he chose to fight her with her own crafty weapons, 
and pretended to Bowes that he was fully satisfied 
with her late assurances of friendship. When the 
appointed convention assembled at Stirling, Bothwell 
was commanded to absent himself from court until the 
meeting of parliament, which was fixed for the four- 
teenth of November; at which time, the king inti- 
mated his intention of granting him a full pardon and 
restitution to his estates and honours, upon his sub- 
mitting himself to the royal mercy. ^ He was then 
to leave the realm, but enjoy his revenues in his ban- 
ishment ; and his accomplices in his late treasons were 
to be pardoned. 

Such terms, with which the rebel earl was compelled 
to be contented, exhibited a wonderful and rapid change 
in the power of the king; and all perceived where 
James 1 strength lay, when Lord Hume, with the 
Master of Glammis, and Sir George Hume of Prim- 
rose Know, entered Stirling during the convention at 
the headof a large force. Everything was now changed, 
and the king spoke boldly out. He declared his re- 
solution to cancel any promises extorted by force, 
when he was a captive ; but promised mercy to all 
who repented and sued for pardon. He received Hume 
and his associates with open arms; sent for the 

* MS. State-paper Office, original draft of Her Majesty's Letter to Mr 
Bowes, 23d August, 1593. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 10th September, 
1593. Same to same, 15th September, 1593. 


Countess of Huntley to court ; permitted the Catholic 
earls, Angus and Errol, to visit their friends without 
molestation ; and, it was strongly reported, had con- 
sented to have a secret interview with Huntley at 
Falkland.* This northern earl had recently received 
great promises from Spain ; and for the last eight 
months had maintained a large force, with which he 
had repeatedly ravaged the territories of his enemy 
Argyle, and kept the whole of that country in terror 
and subjection. This constant exercise in war upon a 
larger scale than was commonly practised in Highland 
raids, had made him an experienced soldier; and James 
felt that, with such leaders as Huntley and Hume, he 
need not dread Bothwell, Athole, or their allies. All 
this rendered the king formidable ; and, soon after, his 
triumph became complete by the arrival of his old and 
experienced councillor, the Chancellor Maitland, who, 
having been reconciled to the queen, the Master of 
Glammis, the Duke of Lennox, and his other enemies, 
rode to court, accompanied by young Cessfordand two 
hundred horse. ^ 

Measures now followed rapidly, of such a character 
as convinced the friends of England, the ministers of 
the Kirk, and the relics of BothwelFs party, that the 
king had not forgotten the late insults which had been 
offered him, and was preparing to take an ample re- 
venge. Hume, a Roman Catholic, was made the 
captain of the king's body-guard ; and, in the king's 
presence, openly threw out his defiance against Both- 
well and the whole race and name of the Stewarts ; 
who, he said, dared not take one sillie bee out of the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 15th September, 
1593. Also, ibid., B.C., Mr John Carey to Burghley, l3th Sept., 1593. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 21st Sept., 1593. 
Moyse's Memoirs, Bannatyne edition, p. 105. 

1593. JAMES vi. 109 

moss in his bounds without his will.* In these sallies 
he was not only unchecked by the King, but James, 
calling for the ministers, insisted that the process of 
excommunication, which was then preparing against 
this potent baron, should be abandoned, alleging that 
he was in the progress of conversion. It was remarked, 
too, that the three Catholic earls, although still ex- 
cluded from court, carried themselves with unwonted 
bravery and confidence. Angus, visiting Morton at 
the Newhouse in Fife, assured him that he had better 
join them in time, as their increasing strength would 
soon compel a union ; and George Ker, the victim of 
the Spanish Blanks, who had not been heard of since 
his escape from Edinburgh castle, suddenly showed 
himself at Melvil, near Dalkeith, with a troop of eighty 
horse, and warned the tenants of Lord Ross to cease 
from their labour, if they would not have their houses 
burned above their heads. It will be remembered that 
Ross's men had assisted in the capture of Ker ; and 
their master, as was usual in those days, had been 
rewarded by a grant of Melvil, and other lands round 
Newbottle belonging to the Kers. These were trifling 
events ; but noted at the time in the pulpit, when the 
watchmen of the Kirk were keenly detecting how the 
current of court favour was setting in towards Popery, f" 
There is no good ground for suspecting, notwith- 
standing the strong asseverations of the ministers to 
the contrary, that the King of Scots had ever any 
serious intentions of becoming a convert to the Roman 
Catholic faith, or even of permitting its public profes- 
sion by any one of his subjects ; but he was well aware 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 13th Sept., 1593. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 5th October, 1593. 
See supra, p. 66-67. 


of the unprincipled policy of the English queen, which, 
from first to last, had been directed to weaken Scot- 
land, by creating perpetual divisions amongst its no- 
bles ; and he had resolved, now that he was once more 
a free prince, and at the head of a strong party, to 
extinguish the fires which she had kindled, and restore, 
if possible, aristocratic union and general peace to the 
country. That such was his present object is evident 
from a passage in a letter of Mr Carey the governor 
of Berwick, son of Lord Hunsdon, to Lord Burghley ; 
and the fervent hope expressed by this English baron, 
that the day may never arrive which shall see the Scot- 
tish nobles "linked together in peace, 11 is full of 
meaning. " For the news in Scotland, 11 says he, " I 
know not well what to say ; but this I am sure, the 
king doth too much appose* himself to the Papist 
faction for our good, I fear. Yet here [he means in 
the Border districts] is nothing but peace and seeking 
to link all the nobility together, which I hope will 
never be. The Papists do only bear sway ; and the 
king hath none to put in trust with his own body but 
them. What will come of this your lordship's wis- 
dom can best discern ; and thus much I know certain, 
that it were good your lordship looked well whom you 
trust : for the king and the nobility of Scotland have 
too good intelligence out of our court of England. 11 ^ 

In prosecution of this design of a general union 
amongst his divided nobility, James opposed himself 
to the violent and persecuting measures of the Kirk. 
He knew the truth of what Both well had lately stated 
to Elizabeth, that the Scottish Catholics^were so strong 

* " Appose," (ad-pono, or appono,) place himself beside; assimilate him- 
self to the faction. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Mr John Carey to Burghley, 
29th September, 1593. 

1593. JAMES VI. HI 

that, in the event of any attempt to unite them with 
the Protestants, they would soon rule all.* Since 
then, Huntley and his friends had been daily gaining 
complete preeminence in the north ; and to render such 
a party furious or desperate by processes of treason 
and proscription ; to discharge against them, if they 
did not choose at once to renounce their religion and 
sign the Presbyterian Confession of Faith, the sharp- 
est arrows of civil and ecclesiastical vengeance, would 
have been the extremity of intolerance and of folly. 
The king wisely declined this, and persevered in his 
course ; although the Presbyterian pulpits immedi- 
ately opened their fire, and the provincial Assembly 
of Fife was convened at St Andrews to consult on the 
imminent dangers which surrounded the Kirk.^f- 

Of this religious convention Mr James Melvil, 
nephew of the well-known Andrew Melvil, was chosen 
Moderator ; and Mr John Davison, the sternest and 
most zealous amongst his brethren, did not hesitate 
to arraign the pastors of the Kirk of coldness, self- 
seeking, and negligence. Let them repent, said he, 
and betake themselves to their ordinary armour 
fasting and prayer. Let the whole Kirk concur in 
this needful humiliation. Above all, let the rebel 
earls, Huntley, Errol, Angus, Aucheudown, and their 
accomplices, whom it were idle to assail with any 
lighter censures, be solemnly excommunicated; and 
let a grave message of pastors, barons, and burgesses, 
carry their resolution to the king, now so deeply 
alienated from the good cause : then they might look 
for better times. But now their sins called for humili- 

* MS. State-paper Office, B.C., Dean Toby Mathews to Lord Burghley, 

t MS. Calderwood, Sloan MSS., British Museum, 4738, fol. 1140, 2Cth 


ation ; for they, the shepherds, seemed to have for- 
gotten their flocks : they were idle and profane ; nor 
would he be far from the truth, if he declared that a 
great part of their pastors were at this moment the 
merriest and the carelessest men in Scotland. After 
much debate, it was resolved that the Roman Catholic 
rebels should be excommunicated ; and this upon the 
ground that many amongst them had been formerly 
students in the university of St Andrews, and must, 
therefore, have signed the Confession of Faith. The 
terms of this sentence, in which not the whole Pres- 
byterian sect, as represented by the General Assembly 
of their Kirk, but an isolated provincial Synod took 
upon them to excommunicate certain members of the 
Catholic Church, were very awful. This little con- 
clave declared that, in name and authority of the Lord 
Jesus Christ, they cut off the said persons from their 
Communion, and delivered them to Satan, to the 
destruction of their flesh : it added, that the spirit 
might yet be safe, if it pleased God to reclaim them 
by repentance ; but pronounced, if unrepentant, their 
just and everlasting condemnation.* This sentence 
was commanded to be intimated in every Kirk in the 
kingdom. All persons, of whatever rank or degree, 
were interdicted from concealing or holding communi- 
cation with the delinquents thus delivered to the Devil, 
under the penalty of being visited by the same ana- 
thema ; and the synod concluded by exhorting the 
pastors to whom the charge of the flock had been 
intrusted, to prepare themselves by abstinence, prayer, 
and diligent study of the Word, for that general and 
solemn Fast which was judged most needful to be 
observed throughout the land. The causes for such 

* MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4738, fol. 1144. 

1593. JAMES vi. 113 

universal humiliation and intercession were declared 
to be these : * 

1. The impunity of idolatry, and cruel murder com- 
mitted by the Earl of Huntley and his complices. 

2. The impunity of the monstrous, ungodly, and 
unnatural treasons of Huntley, Angus, Errol, the 
Laird Auchendown, Sir James Chisholin, and their 

3. The pride, boldness, malice, blasphemy, and going 
forward of these enemies in their most pernicious pur- 
pose, arising out of the said impunity, and their suf- 
ferance by the king ; so that now they not only have 
no doubt, as they speak plainly, to obtain liberty of 
conscience, but also brag to make the Kirk fain to 
come to their cursed idolatry before they come to the 

4. The land defiled in divers places with the devilish 
and blasphemous Mass. 

5. The wrath of God broken forth in fiery flame 
upon the north and south parts of the land with hor- 
rible judgments, both of souls and bodies, threatening 
the mid part with the like or heavier, if repentance 
prevent not. 

6. The king^s slowness in repressing Papistry and 
planting of true religion. 

7. The defection of so many noblemen, barons, 
gentlemen, merchants, and mariners, by the bait of 
Spanish gain ; which ernboldeneth the enemies : and 
on the other part, the multitude of Atheists, ignorant, 
sacrilegious, blood-thirsty, and worldly- out ward pro- 
fessors, with whom it is a strange matter that God 
should work any good turn ; the consideration where- 
of upon the part of man may altogether discourage us< 

* MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4738, fol. 1142. 

VOL. ix. n 


8. The cruel slaughter of ministers.* 

9. The pitiful estate of the Kirk and brethren of 

] 0. and Lastly. The hot persecution of discipline 
by the tyranny of bishops in our neighbour land.-f* 

In addition to these bold proceedings, the leading 
ministers of the Kirk determined that Lord Hume 
the captain of the King's Guard, should either satisfy 
the Kirk by his recantation, or be forthwith excom- 
municated. They publicly rebuked the Earl of 
Morton for keeping company with Errol and Angus, 
men branded by the Kirk as idolaters ; and when he 
defended himself by quoting the example of Henry 
the Fourth, the French king recently turned Catholic, 
they retorted that no Christian could, without error, 
associate with such delinquents. J 

Meanwhile, Bothwell, instead of accepting the 
king's offered pardon and retiring from the realm, 
entered into fresh intrigues with England and trifled 
with the royal mercy. But James detected these 
new combinations ; and marching suddenly in person 
with a strong force from Stirling to the Doune of 
Menteith, where A thole, Gowrie, and Montrose had 
assembled with five hundred horse, attacked their 
company, made Gowrie and Montrose prisoners, and 
had nearly taken or slain the northern earl, who fled 
at his utmost speed with a few attendants into Athole. || 

* Mr James Blyth and Mr John Aikman, ministers, had been slain by 
the Mures. 

f MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4738, fol. 1142. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 15th Sept., 1593. 
Also, ibid., Bowes to Burghley, 26th Sept., 1593. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, James Sinclair and James Douglas of 
Spot to Bothwell, 1st Oct., 1593. Ibid., Lord Ochiltree to Bothwell, 4th 
October, 1593. 

I! MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 5th October, 

1593. JAMES VI. 115 

The three Catholic earls, Huntley, Errol, and Angus, 
now earnestly supplicated the king, that they might 
be permitted to stand their trial for that conspiracy 
of the "Spanish Blanks, 11 of which they solemnly pro- 
tested their innocence. No opportunity, they said, 
had hitherto been given them of defending themselves 
before a jury. They had been excommunicated by 
the Kirk, banished from court, and compelled to lead 
the life of fugitives and traitors, without any evidence 
except a confession extorted by torture, and the ex- 
hibition of some signatures asserted to be theirs, but 
which they would prove to be forgeries. Let them 
only come to their trial. If found guilty, they were 
ready to suffer the penalty of their crimes ; if acquit- 
ted, as they trusted to be, then they would either 
satisfy the Kirk on the subject of their religion and 
conform to the national faith, or would go into volun- 
tary banishment.* Not satisfied with these remon- 
strances, they suddenly presented themselves to the 
king as he rode from Holyrood to Lauder, and, fall- 
ing on their knees, implored him to submit their 
alleged offences to the judgment of an assize. But 
James dismissed them with real or affected wrath ; 
threatening that they should be worse handled for 
such boldness.^ 

Had the Catholic earls been sincere in the anxiety 
they expressed to have an impartial trial, it would 
have been the height of injustice to have refused their 
request ; but it was well known that they had secretly 
summoned all their friends to assemble in arms on 
"their day of law;" and such was their present 
strength, that neither judges, jury, nor witnesses, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 9th Oct., 1593. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 12th Oct., 15SM. 


could have attended with safety. * It is not surpris- 
ing that the Kirk should have loudly remonstrated 
against such hurried and premature proceedings; and 
at an ecclesiastical convention of ministers, barons, 
and burghs, held at Edinburgh on the seventeenth 
October, for the purpose of considering the imminency 
of the threatened danger, they selected six commis- 
sioners to repair to the palace and present their advice, 
beseeching the king that the trial might be delayed till 
the "professors of the gospel should be ripely advised 
what was meetest for them to do, since they had re- 
solved to be the principal accusers of these noblemen 
in their foul treasons." They craved, also, that these 
excommunicated and treasonable apostates should, 
" according to the loveable laws and customs of 
Scotland, be imprisoned till the Estates of parlia- 
ment had advised on the manner of their trial ; that 
the jury should be nominated not by the accused but 
by the accusers ; that as the foresaid traitors were 
excommunicated and cut off from the society of Christ's 
body (to use the strong and revolting language of the 
original,) they should not be admitted to trial, or 
have any benefit of the law, till they were again join- 
ed unto Christ and reconciled to his Kirk." These, 
however, were not all the demands and proceedings 
of the Kirk. They resolved, that if their enemies 
attended in arms, they should meet them in the 
same fashion ; desiring the king's permission that 
"the professors of religion may be his majesty's 
guard, and be admitted in the most fensible and war- 
like manner to be about the royal person, to defend 
it from violence, and accuse their enemies to the 
uttermost : and this," they added, "we are minded to 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 18th Oct., 1593. 

1593. JAMES VI. 117 

do, although it should be with the loss of all our lives 
in one day : for certainly we are determined that the 
country shall not bruik us and them baith, so long 
as they are God's professed enemies." * In furtherance 
of these preparations, the Kirk directed the Modera- 
tor of every Presbytery to advertise each particular 
brother in the ministry within their bounds ; to warn 
the noblemen, gentlemen, barons, and burgesses, to 
muster in warlike arms and array in Perth, on the 
twenty-fourth of the month, the expected day of trial; 
and appointed twelve ministers as commissioners, to 
be resident in the capital till the answer to their de- 
mand was returned by the king.^ When the com- 
missioners of the Kirk presented their petitions to 
James at Jedburgh, he refused to acknowledge any 
convention which had been summoned without his 
order ; and after an angry interview, passed in mutual 
complaint and accusation, peremptorily declined re- 
turning any written reply to the Assembly. The 
state of matters now became alarming; and Bowes 
the English ambassador, who watched it from hour 
to hour, wrote thus to Burghley on the eighteenth 
October : " Yesterday, at the meeting of the com- 
missioners of the Kirk, the barons and burghs con- 
vened here together. * * Great preparations are 
made for the advancement of the course thus resolved, 
and to stop the trial to be given at this time to these 
earls, whose friends (as it is told me) have mustered, 
and are in readiness to come to Perth at the day 
limited : they have already provided that the Water 
Gate or Water Street shall be reserved for the earls 

* MS. State-paper Office. Certain Petitions and Conclusions considered 
upon by the Commissioners for the Kirk, Barons, and Burgesses of Edin- 
burgh, 17th Oct., 1593. 

t Ibid. 


and their companies. But Athole, Gowrie, and many 
of the town, are rather disposed to keep them out. 
The convocation and access of people to that place is 
looked upon to be so great that thereon bloody troubles 
shall arise. 1 '* 

A collision appeared now inevitable ; and there were 
many causes which promised to make it, when it did oc- 
cur, one of a fearful description. The opposite factions, 
whose partisans were flocking from all parts towards 
Perth, the anticipated scene of the trial, were animated 
by the most bitter and revengeful feelings ; their blood 
was boiling under the influence of family feuds, reli- 
gious persecution, and fanatical hatred. The advocates 
for peace were browbeaten, and their voices drowned 
in the din of arms and proclamations of mutual de- 
fiance ; and all this was exasperated and increased by 
the warlike denunciations of the Kirk, which, by its 
thousand trumpet-tongues, through the length and 
breadth of the land, summoned all who loved the 
Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to gird on their 
weapons, and, if necessary, die for their faith. Had 
things been allowed to continue in this state, and the 
muster taken place at Perth, a few days more might 
have kindled the flames of civil war in the country, 
and deluged it with blood ; Jbut at this crisis James 
wisely interdicted the trial from being held at Perth, 
and resolved that a solemn inquiry into the conduct of 
Huntley, Angus, and Errol, should take place before 
commissioners to be selected from the nobility, the 
burghs, and the Kirk. To secure tranquillity, public 
proclamation was made that none except such as were 
especially called for should presume to attend the con- 
vention : that the three earls, dismissing their forces, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 20th October, 1593. 

1593. JAMES VI. ]19 

should await the king's determination at Perth ; and 
that, in the mean season, none should molest them 
during the trial or inquiry which was about to take 
place. At all this the Kirk stood aghast. They had 
insisted on the imprisonment of the three earls. They 
had argued that, till they signed the Confession of 
Faith and reconciled themselves to the Kirk, they 
could not be recognised or permitted to take their 
trial ; that they ought to have no counsel to defend 
them ; and that the' Kirk, as their accuser, should 
nominate the jury. Its ministers now complained, 
threatened, and remonstrated;* but when the day 
appointed for the convention arrived, they found the 
king not only resolved to abide by his own judgment, 
but so strongly supported by the nobility whom he 
had summoned, that it would be vain to attempt re- 

James, who had taken time to consider all coolly, on 
weighing the whole circumstances, found it necessary 
to steer a middle course. The trial was postponed ; as 
it was believed that no jury could be found at that mo- 
ment " so void of favour and partiality" as to condemn 
the earls ; and, on the other hand, if acquitted, no 
terms 01 conditions could be imposed on them which 
their power would not enable them to despise and in- 
fringe."}* As to the accused themselves : on the one 
hand, they persisted in asserting their innocence as to 
the " Spanish Blanks," which they were accused of 
having signed, or of any conspiracy to bring foreign 
forces into the realm ; on the other, they confessed 
that they had received Jesuits, heard Mass, revolted 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 12th November, 
1593. Also, same to same, 17th November, 1593. 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 23d Nov., 159& 


from the Presbyterian faith against their public pro- 
fession and subscription ; refused to obey their sum- 
mons for treason, and committed other acts against 
the laws ; for which they were willing, they said, to 
put themselves in the king^s mercy. All this was 
laid before a committee who represented the three 
Estates : nobles, barons, and burghs. The Duke of 
Lennox and the Earl of Mar appearing for the earls ; 
the Lord Chancellor IVlaitland and Lord Livingston 
for the lords, with whom sat all the councillor of 
estate ; the barons being represented by four of their 
number, the burghs by five burgesses, and the Kirk 
by six of the leading ministers ; who, however, ap- 
peared only as petitioners, and did not sit or vote as 
commissioners. After mature deliberation with this 
committee, the king, adopting, as far as he was per- 
mitted, a wise mean between the extremity of perse- 
cution recommended by the Kirk, and that toleration 
which was rather implored and hoped for than claimed 
as a right by the Catholics, pronounced his sentence. 
He declared that he was firmly resolved that God's 
true religion, publicly preached, and by law established, 
during the first year of his reign, should alone be pro- 
fessed by the whole body of his subjects ; and that all 
who had not embraced it, or who had made defection 
from it, should, before the first of February next, obey 
the laws by professing it, and thus satisfy the Kirk ; 
or, if they found this against their conscience, should 
depart the realm to such parts beyond seas as he should 
direct, there to remain till they embraced the true 
religion, and were reconciled to the Kirk ; but he 
added, that during this banishment they should enjoy 
their lands and living. As to those persons who had 
been accused of a treasonable conspiracy with Spain 

1593. JAMES VI. ]21 

for the overthrow of the true religion William earl 
of Angus, George earl of Huntley, Francis earl of 
Errol, Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchendown, and Sir 
James Chisholm of Cornileys he pronounced them 
" free, and unaccusable in all time coming of any such 
crimes ;" and annulled all legal proceedings which had 
been instituted against them, unless they showed 
themselves unworthy of pardon by directly renewing 
their intrigues, or threatening, either by word or deed, 
any repetition of their treason. If they chose to re- 
nounce their Idolatry, to embrace the Presbyterian 
opinions, satisfy the Kirk, and remain to enjoy their 
estates and honours within their own land, it was in- 
timated to them and to all other Catholics, that this 
must be done on or before the first day of February 
next ; and, on the contrary, if they preferred to retain 
their faith and enter into exile, then they were to give 
assurance that, during its continuance, they should 
refrain from all practices with Jesuits or seminary 
priests against their native country. It was lastly 
declared, that they should express to the king and the 
Kirk their acceptance of one or other of these condi- 
tions before the first of February next.* 

To our modern and more Christian feelings this 
sentence must appear as unwise as unmerciful : for it 
disavowed the possibility of toleration, held out a pre- 
mium to religious hypocrisy, and punished sincerity 
and honesty of opinion with perpetual banishment. 
James had hoped that it might pacify the country ; 
but it experienced the common fate of middle courses, 
and gave satisfaction to no party. The Catholics, 

* MS. State-paper Office. Act of the Convention at Holyrood House, 
26th November, 1593 ; with Burghley's notes on the margin. It is printed 
by Spottiswood, p. 400. 


who had never intermitted their intrigues with Spain, 
had lately received assistance and encouragement from 
that country ; they commanded almost the whole of 
the north ; and were in no temper to resign their re- 
ligion, or retain it at the expense of perpetual exile. 
They temporized, therefore ; affected a submission 
which they did not feel ; and continued to strengthen 
themselves both at home and abroad for a new struggle. 
But if the Catholics were discontented, the Kirk re- 
ceived the Act of Abolition with mingled wrath and 
lamentation. It actually seemed to them an insuffi- 
cient security, and a trifling punishment, that no man 
was to be permitted to remain within the realm, and 
enjoy his estate and the protection of the law, unless 
he signed the Presbyterian Confession of Faith. The 
profanation was, that any man should be at liberty to 
retain his belief in the Roman Catholic faith, and his 
Scottish estates, if he consented to banish himself from 
his native country. The feelings of the leaders of the 
Kirk upon this subject are thus described by Bowes, 
an eye-witness, in his letter to Burghley. 

" This edict, and act of oblivion, is thought to be 
very injurious to the Church, and far against the laws 
of God and this realm ; whereupon the ministers have 
not only openly protested to the king and convention 
that they will not agree to the same, but also, in their 
sermons, inveigh greatly against it ; alleging that, 
albeit it hath a pretence to establish one true religion 
in the realm, yet liberty is given to all men to pro- 
fess what they list, so they depart out of the realm ; 
and thereby they shall enjoy greater privileges and 
advantages than any other good subject can do. That 
this is very dangerous to the religion, and to all the 
professors thereof, that the crimes of these offenders 
shall be thus slightly passed over ; and this notwith- 

1593. JAMES VI. 123 

standing their treasons and faults are so manifest and 
odious, as the king once confessed that he had not power 
to pardon them, and promised, as he was a Christian 
prince, to punish them with all rigour. And the parties 
thus offending have now been detected four times, and 
escaped punishment for like treasons and conspiracies."* 

At this convention the king, who now found him- 
self strong enough to disclose his true feelings, ex- 
hibited the sustained intensity of his wrath against 
Bothwell. It was in vain that the queen, and those 
nobles who had attached themselves to her service, 
interceded for the delinquent. He was commanded 
to leave the realm within fifteen days ; and James re- 
fused to listen to any offers, or to hold out the slight- 
est hopes of forgiveness till this order had been obeyed. 
The friends of the rebel earl were treated with equal 
severity. Lords Doune and Spiny, with Mr John 
Kussell, an eminent advocate who had pleaded his 
cause, were imprisoned ; and it was evident that all 
hope of reconciliation must be abandoned.-f- 

The act of oblivion proved as distasteful to Eliza- 
beth as it was to either the Catholics or the Kirk. 
This great princess had recently received intelligence 
of the continued intrigues carried on by Jesuits and 
seminary priests in Scotland. One of these busy emis- 
saries, Thomas Mackquharry, a Scottish Jesuit, who 
had been employed by Lady Hume, and had carried 
on his secret practices in different parts of England, 
had been recently seized by Sir John Carey at Ber- 
wick. It was reported that another Scottish Jesuit, 
Mr James Gordon, with William Gordon of Strath- 
don, a brother of the Earl of Huntley, and four or five 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burgbley, 2d December, 1593. 
f Id. ibid. 


other Catholics, had passed overfrom Scotland to Dun- 
kirk ;* and Mr James Craig, a gentleman resident at 
Bourdeaux, wrote to his brother Mr Thomas Craig, 
the celebrated feudal lawyer, then an advocate at the 
Scottish bar,-f- that an army and fleet were being 
equipt in Spain, which were suspected to be destined 
for Scotland. Ireland continued to be the theatre of 
perpetual intrigue and commotion ; and the English 
queen had taken the adoption of the Catholic faith by 
Henry the Fourth greatly to heart. She was, there- 
fore, in a highly excited state when she received from 
Bowes, her ambassador, the news from Scotland ; and 
lost no time in despatching Lord Zouch with a violent 
open remonstrance, and a letter of secret rebuke, writ- 
ten wholly in her own hand.| This last was in these 
nervous and scornful terms : 

" MY DEAR BROTHER. To see so much, I rue my 
sight that views the evident spectacle of a seduced 
king, abusing council, and wry-guided kingdom. My 
love to your good and hate of your ruin, breeds my 
heedful regard of your surest safety. If I neglected 
you, I could wink at your worst, and yet withstand 
my enemies 1 drifts. But be you persuaded by sisters. 
I will advise you, void of all guile, and will not stick 
to tell you, that if you tread the path you chuse, I 
will pray for you, but leave you to your harms. 

" I doubt whether shame or sorrow have had the 
upper hand when I read your last lines to me. Who, 
of judgment, that deemed me not simple, could sup- 
pose that any answers you have writ me should satisfy, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 24th November, 
1593. Ibid., same to same, 2d December, 1593. 

t MS. State-paper Office. The clause in the letter of James Craig at 
Bourdeaux, to his brother, Mr Thomas Craig, Advocate in Edinburgh. 

Camden, Elizabeth in Kennet, vol. ii. 

In the copy in the State-paper Office, " the path you are in." 

1593. JAMES VI. 125 

nay, enter into the opinion of any one not void of four 
senses, leaving out the first. 

" Those of whom you have had so evident proof by 
their actual rebellion in the field you preserve, whose 
offers you knew then so large to foreign Princes. And 
now, at last, when, plainest of all, was taken the carrier 
himself, confessing all before many commissioners and 
divers councillors ; because you slacked the time till 
he was escaped, and now must seem deny it, (though 
all men knew it :) therefore, forsooth, no jury can be 
found for them. May this blind me that knows what 
a king's office were to do ? Abuse not yourself so far. 
Indeed, when a weak bowing and a slack seat in go- 
vernment shall appear, then bold spirits will stir the 
stern, and guide the ship to greatest wreck, and will 
take heart to supply the failure. 

" Assure yourself no greater peril can ever befall 
you, nor any king else, than to take for payment evil 
accounts ; for they deride such, and make their prey 
of their neglect. There is no prince alive, but if he 
show fear or yielding but he shall have tutors enough, 
though he be out of minority. And when I remem- 
ber what sore punishment those so lewd traitors should 
have, then I read again, lest at first I mistook your 
mind; but when the reviewing granted my lecture 
true, Lord ! what wonder grew in me that you should 
correct them with benefits who deserve much severer 
correction. Could you please them more than save 
their lives and make them shun the place they hate, 
where they are sure that their just deserved haters 
dwell, and yet as much enjoy their honours and liveli- 
hoods, as if for sporting travel they were licensed to 
visit other countries I Call you this a banishment 
to be rid of whom they fear and go to such they love? 


Now, when my eyes read more, then smiled I to see 
how childish, foolish, and witless an excuse the best 
of either three made you, turning their treasons 1 bills 
to artificers' 1 reckonings with items for many expenses, 
and lacked but one billet which they best deserved, an 
item for so much for the cord whose office they best 
merited. Is it possible that you can swallow the taste 
of so bitter a drug, more meet to purge you of them, 
than worthy for your kingly acceptance? I never 
heard a more deriding scorn ; and vow that, if but this 
alone, were I you, they should learn a short lesson. 

" The best that I commend in your letter is, that I 
see your judgment too good to affirm a truth of their 
speech, but that alone they so say. Howbeit, I muse 
how you can want a law to such, as whose denial, if 
it were ever, could serve to save their lives, whose 
treasons are so plain ; as the messenger who would 
for his own sake not devise it, if for truth^s cause he 
had it not in his charge : for who should ever be tried 
false, if his own denial might save his life ? In princes' 
causes many circumstances yield a sufficient plea for 
such a king as will have it known : and ministers they 
shall lack none, that will not themselves gainsay it. 
Leave off such cloaks, therefore, I pray you ; they 
will be found too thin to save you from wetting. For 
your own sake play the king, and let your subjects 
see you respect yourself, and neither to hide or to suffer 
danger and dishonour. And that you may know my 
opinion, judgment, and advice, I have chosen this 
nobleman, whom I know wise, religious, and honest ; 
to whom I pray you give full credit, as if myself were 
with you ; and bear with all my plainness, whose affec- 
tion, if it were not more worthy than so oft not follow- 
ed, 1 would not have gone so far. But blame my love 

1593-4. JAMES VI. 127 

if it exceed any limits. Beseeching God to bless you 
from the advices of them that more prize themselves 
than care for you, to whom I wish many years of 

It was not to be expected that a letter like this, 
containing so much disagreeable advice and cutting 
sarcasm, and which in its involved, but often energetic 
and condensed periods, affords so good a specimen of 
Elizabeth's private epistolary style, should have been 
acceptable to James ; but when Lord Zouch presented 
it at his audience on the thirteenth January, -J- the 
king dissembled his chagrin and received him with 
apparent courtesy. He professed his anxious desire 
to live on terms of amity with his good sister : observ- 
ed, that as for the Act of Abolition to the Catholic 
earls which her majesty disliked so much, it was now 
itself abolished by their not accepting it, and he was 
entirely free from any agreement. He knew, he said, 
in answer to Zouch's remonstrances on his supposed 
Spanish predilections, what it was to lose an old friend 
and to trust a new. As to the councillors, of whom 
she complained, he must confide in his council as she 
confided in hers ; but he was the last who would suffer 
any ill affected to insinuate themselves amongst his 

With these general assurances, Elizabeth's ambas- 
sador would not be satisfied. He called on the king 
for deeds, not words ; insisted that his royal mistress 

* This interesting letter is now printed (for the first time) from the ori- 
ginal, in the queen's own hand, preserved in the collections of Sir George 
Warrender. There is a contemporary copy in the State-paper Office. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 15th Jan., 1593-4. 
Ibid., Lord Zouch to Burghley. Also, MS. Letter, British Museum, Cali- 
gula, D II. 169. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Lord Zouch to Burghley, 15th Jan., 
1593-4. Also, ibid., same to the same, 26th January, 1593-4. 


was entitled to have an express written declaration of 
the course which the king was determined to follow 
with the rebel earls and the Catholic party, still busy 
in their plots for the invasion of England and the de- 
struction of their common faith;* and lamented, in 
his letter to Lord Burghley, that he was utterly unfit 
to cope with the difficulties which met him on every 
hand. The Lord Chancellor Maitland, whom he was 
taught to consider the wisest and most upright of the 
king's councillors, plotted, as he suspected, against 
him ; and had received, it was said, great sums of 
money from the Catholic faction. He was surrounded 
by falsehood and suspicion ; distracted by contrary 
reports ; and so strictly watched, that none came near 
him but those whom the king permitted. 

All this, however, did not prevent Zouch from ful- 
filling the more secret part of his instructions ; nor, 
although he affected to be deeply shocked with the 
political profligacy and dissimulation of the Scottish 
nobles, was he himself by any means a novice in in- 
trigue. Whilst assuring James of Elizabeth's un- 
shaken friendship and zeal for his welfare, he opened 
a communication with his bitter foe, the fierce and 
reckless Bothwell ; and arranged with this earl, John 
Colvile brother of the Laird of Wemyss, Henry Lock 
an agent of Sir Robert Cecil, and some of the most 
violent ministers of the Kirk, a new plot for the sur- 
prise of the king. It was resolved that Atholej and 
Argyle, with the whole strength of the north, should 
advance to Edinburgh ; form a junction with the forces 
of Bothwell, Montrose, Ochiltree, and the Laird of 
Johnston ; and attacking the Chancellor Maitland, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 27th January, 
1593-4. Also, ibid., B.C., Mr John Carey to Burghley, 25th Jan., 1593-4. 

1593-4. JAMES VI. 1-29 

Lord Hume, and the friends of the king, at once de- 
stroy Huntley and the Roman Catholics, save James 
from evil counsellors, and take an ample revenge for 
the murder of the Earl of Moray.* These designs 
were the more unjustifiable at this moment, as the 
monarch had adopted strong measures against the 
Roman Catholic earls. He had declared them exclud- 
ed from all benefits of the Act of Abolition ; had sum- 
moned them, on the penalty of being outlawed, to de- 
liver themselves up, and take their trials for treason ; 
called a parliament, which was to be held in April ; 
appointed a new council of more neutral and well- 
aflected nobles and barons ; and had professed to Eliza- 
beth, in a written answer to Zouch's instructions, his 
continued desire of friendship and good faith. In an 
interview, also, which Bowes the resident ambassador 
had with James'' great adviser the Chancellor Mait- 
land, the Scottish lord assured him that his royal 
mistress need not distress herself with suspicions of 
his master. He was steadfast, he affirmed, in his re- 
ligion, whatever Papists or the Kirk might affirm : 
nothing would induce him to embrace the Spanish 
courses ; and for an invasion of England, he knew it 
would be madness.'f' Yet Zouch continued his plots; 
and Elizabeth undoubtedly gave them her secret en- 
couragement ; although, with her usual caution and 
parsimony, she abstained from any large advances 
either in money or troops. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Lord Zouch to Burghley, 15th Jan., 
1593-4. Also, MS. British Museum, Caligula, D II., 151, Instructions for 
Lord Zouch for treating with certain Lords in Scotland. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 8th Jan., 1593-4. 
Ibid., same to same, 15th Jan., 1593-4. Also, ibid., same to same, 20tt 
Jan., 1 593-4. Also, MS. State-paper Office, " Councillors newly established 
by the King of Scots," 17th Jan., 1593-4 ; in Burghley 's handwriting. Also, 
ibid., Bowes to Burghley, 20th Jan., 1593-4. Also, British Museum, Cali- 
gula, D II., 169, 182. 



In the midst of these intrigues and dangers a joyful 
event occurred. The queen brought forth a son, her 
first child, in the castle of Stirling, on the nineteenth 
February ; and the monarch immediately committed 
the charge and government of the infant heir to the 
throne, to the Earl of Mar, captain and keeper of the 
castle of Stirling ; " whose uncle and goodsire, (it is 
stated in the Act of Appointment,) by three descents 
together, have had the custody and governance of the 
sovereign princes of this realm."* By the nation this 
event was hailed with universal joy : an old chronicle 
declaring that " the people, in all parts, appeared to 
be daft for mirth." -f- But scarcely was the child born 
ere he became a mark for treachery ; the conspirators 
proposing to Lord Zouch, that when they advanced 
on Stirling, they should strengthen their hands by 
seizing the infant heir to the crown, and thus extort 
better terms from the king. It was a game which had 
already been played in the days of James the Third. 
The English ambassador, however, protested against 
such an outrage, and his associates did not dare to 

All was now ripe for Bothwell's attempt ; but the 
king proved too crafty and strong for his adversaries. 
He had received secret information of the plot ; seized 
a gentleman of Zouch^s suite, who had communicated 
with the traitors ; commanded Lord Hume, Cessford, 
and Buccleuch, to concentrate their strength at Kelso, 
where it was expected the enemy would cross the 
Border ; imprisoned some of the boldest and busiest 
ministers of the Kirk ; and addressing the people in 

* MS. State-paper Office, 21st February, 1593, Lord of Mar anent the 
keeping of the young Prince. 
) Moyse's Memoirs, p. 113. 

1594. JAMES VI. 131 

the High Church of Edinburgh after the sermon, in- 
formed them, in stirring terms, of the insolence of, 
Bothwell, that audacious rebel, who was at that mo- 
ment on his way to attack his lawful prince ; declared 
his resolution to lead his whole force in person against 
him ; and, raising his hand to heaven, took a solemn 
vow to God, that if they, for their part, would instantly 
arm and advance with him into the field, he, for his, 
would never rest till, in return for such service, he had 
utterly suppressed and banished the Catholic lords 
from his dominions.* Scarcely had James ended this 
appeal, when word was brought that Bothwell, who 
had out-manoeuvred Hume and Buccleuch, was at 
hand, at Leith, with six hundred horse, awaiting the 
junction of Athole and Argyle, whom he expected to 
cross the Forth with their northern strength, and 
showing intentions of intrenching himself within the 
old fortifications on the Links. Without a moment's 
delay, the king assembled his troops, and marched 
against him. The advance consisted of a thousand 
pikemen and five hundred horse ; the rear, of the 
infantry of the city of Edinburgh, in number about a 
thousand musketeers ; and besides these, there were 
three guns covered by a body of two hundred horse. 
Despairing of being able to withstand such a force 
within the intrenchments, Bothwell retired deliber- 
ately, and in good order, in a south-easterly direction, 
round the roots of the hill of Arthur Seat, towards 
Niddry, where he halted on a neighbouring field, which 
offered him an excellent position. James, observing 
this movement, now dreaded an attack of his capital 
on the south side, where it was undefended ; and 
ordering Hume, at the head of the cavalry, to advance 

* Historie of James the Sext, p. 304. 


to Niddry, countermarched through Edinburgh, and 
took up his ground with the remainder of the troops 
oil the Borough Muir. Meanwhile, Hume and Glam- 
mis had reached a hill beside Niddry, and were hesi- 
tating to make the onset, when Bothwell, Lord Ochil- 
tree, and the gentlemen with them, " after prayers on 
their knees," assailed them with loud shouts of " God 
and the Kirk," drove them from their ground, slew 
twelve of their troopers, and chased them to within a 
short distance of the spot where the king stood. They 
then sounded their trumpets, and retired in good order 
by Craigmillar without losing a man. In this onset, 
Bothwell took Hume^s cornet and trumpet, to whom 
he gave his liberty ; and presenting him with two rose 
nobles, sent, by him, a challenge to his master.* This 
defeat took place on an eminence beside Niddry, called 
Edmeston Edge.^ Bothwell now retreated to Kelso; 
and aware of the hopelessness of his enterprise, soon 
after dispersed his company, and became once more a 
refugee in England. 

The king, delivered for the present from all appre- 
hensions on this quarter, now determined to fulfil his 
promise, and deprive the Queen of England and the 
ministers of the Kirk of all pretence of opposition, by 
adopting the most vigorous proceedings against the 
Catholic earls, Huntley, Angus, and Errol. Procla- 

* We learn from Henry Lock's letter to Sir Robert, describing the 
" raid," and written from Berwick only two days after the action, that 
before they charged their adversaries, Bothwell and his companions ex- 
claimed, that " that day her Majesty should see proof of their intentions 
and faith." MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Henry Lock to Sir R. Cecil, 
5th April, 1594. By a letter from Bowes to Burghley of 13th April, 1594, 
State- paper Office, and another, of the same date, from Bowes to Sir R. 
Cecil, we learn, that the management of Scottish affairs, owing to the in- 
creasing infirmities of Lord Burghley, had been intrusted, by the Queen, to 
his son Sir Robert Cecil, one of the privy-council. 

+ Moyse's Memoirs, p. 115. 

1594. JAMES vr. 133 

mation was made, that these noblemen should appear 
and take their trial before the parliament to be held 
in May. The whole force of his realm was summoned 
to meet him in arms, to be led against the rebels if 
they resisted ; and Oolvile of Easter Wemyss, one of 
the best military leaders then in Scotland, with Mr 
Edward Bruce, an influential minister of the Kirk, 
were despatched on an embassy to Elizabeth. The 
general object of their mission was to assure her of 
their master's resolute determination to reduce the 
Catholic earls, and for ever put an end to the Spanish 
intrigues ; but before proceeding to any other point, 
they were enjoined to remonstrate, in the strongest 
terms, against the support lately given in England to 
the king^s avowed rebel, the Earl of Bothwell. We 
have seen the bitter and sarcastic letter which Eliza- 
beth, three months before, had sent to the king by 
the Lord Zouch. It was now his time to reply to it, 
and have his revenge ; which he did by the following 
private epistle, intrusted to his ambassadors, written 
wholly in his own hand, and certainly not inferior, 
either in irony or vigour, to the production of his good 

" So many unexpected wonders, madam and dearest 
sister, have of late so overshadowed my eyes and mind, 
and dazzled so all my senses, as in truth I neither 
know what I should say, nor whereat first to begin ; 
but thinking it best to take a pattern of yourself, since 
I deal with you, I must, repeating the first words of 
your last letter, (only the sex changed,) say I rue my 
sight that views the evident spectacle of a seduced 
queen. For when I enter betwixt two extremities in 
judging of you, I had far rathest interpret it to the 
least dishonour on your part, which is ignorant error. 


Appardon me, madam ; for long approved friendship 
requires a round plainness. For when first I consider 
what strange effects have of late appeared in your 
country ; how my avowed traitor hath not only been 
openly reset in your realm, but plainly made his resi- 
dence in your proper houses, ever plainliest Jcything* 
himself where greatest confluence of people was ; and, 
which is most of all, how he hath received English 
money in a reasonable quantity ; waged both English 
and Scottish men therewith ; proclaimed his pay at 
divers parish churches in England ; convened his 
forces within England, in the sight of all that Border; 
and therefrom contemptuously marched, and camped 
within a mile of my principal city and present abode, 
all his trumpeters, and divers \vaged men, being Eng- 
lish ; and being by myself in person repulsed from 
that place, returned back in England with displayed 
banners ; and since that time, with sound of trumpet, 
making his troops to muster within English ground : 
when first, I say, I consider these strange efl'ects, and 
then again I call to mind, upon the one part, what 
number of solemn promises, not only by your ambas- 
sadors but by many letters of your own hand, ye have 
both made and reiterated unto me, that he should have 
no harbour within your country, yea, rather stirring 
me farther up against him, than seeming to pity him 
yourself; and upon the other part, weighing my de- 
sires towards you, how far being a friend to you I 
have ever been an enemy to all your enemies, and the 
only point I can be challenged in, that I take not 
such form of order, and at such time, with some par- 
ticular men of my subjects as peradventure you would, 
if you were in my room ; when thus I enter in con- 

* Kything himself ; shoiving himself. 

1594. JAMES vi. 135 

sultation with myself, I cannot surely satisfy myself 
with wondering upon these above-mentioned effects : 
for to affirm that these things are by your direction or 
privity, it is so far against all princely honour, as I 
protest I abhor the least thought thereof. And again j , 
that so wise and provident a prince, having so long 
and happily governed, should be so fyled and con- 
temned by a great number of her own subjects, it is 
hardly to be believed : if I knew it not to be a maxim 
in the state of princes, that we see and hear all with 
the eyes and ears of others, and if these be deceivers, 
we cannot shun deceits. 

*' Now, madam, I have refuge to you at this time, as 
my only pilot to guide me safely betwixt this Charybdis 
and Scylla. Solve these doubts, and let it be seen ye 
will not be abused by your own subjects, who prefer 
the satisfying of their base-minded affections to your 
princely honour. That I wrote not the answer of 
your last letters with your late ambassador, (Lord 
Zouch,) and that I returned not a letter with him, 
blame only, I pray you, his own behaviour ; who, 
although it pleased you to term him wise, religious, 
and honest, had been fitter, in my opinion, to carry 
the message of a herald, than any friendly commission 
betwixt two neighbour princes : for as no reason could 
satisfy him, so scarcely could he have patience even 
to hear it offered. But if you gave him a large com- 
mission, I dare answer for it he took it as well upon 
him : and therefore have I rather chused to send you 
my answer by my own messengers. Suffer me not, I 
pray you, to be abused with your abusers ; nor grant 
no oversight to oversee your own honour. Remember 
what you promised by your letter of thanks for the 
delivery of CTRorick. I trust ye will not put me in 


balance with such a traitorous counterpoise, nor wil- 
lingly reject me ; constraining me to say with Virgil 
' Flectere si nequeo superos, Acheronta morebo.' 

And to give you a proof of the continuance of my 
honest affection, I have directed these two gentlemen 
unto you, whom I will heartily pray you to credit as 
myself in all they have in charge ; and because the 
principal of them goes to France, to return the other 
back with a good answer with all convenient speed. 1 "* 
This spirited remonstrance had the best effect upon 
Elizabeth, who, although she had encouraged Both- 
well in his late audacious attempts, never felt much 
scruple in discarding an unsuccessful instrument. She 
was, accordingly, all smiles to the ambassadors, when, 
in their master's name, they invited her to stand god- 
mother at the approaching baptism of the infant heir 
to the Scottish throne; and although her countenance 
changed when they spoke of money and the necessities 
of their master, yet even on this point, Bruce, before 
his return, received a more favourable answer than he 
had expected. She assured him, that she would ex- 
tend her liberality the moment the king set out on his 
expedition against the Catholic earls, and she saw that 
he was in earnest.^ Colvile of Easter Wemyss, his 
brother ambassador, now proceeded to the court of 
France ; whilst, about the same time, Sir William 
Keith was despatched to the United Provinces ; and 
Mr Peter Young, the king's almoner, to the court of 

* Printed for the first time from the Warrender MSS. The letter is 
dated Edinburgh, 13th April, 1594. In an interesting volume, presented 
by Adam Anderson, Esq., Solicitor-general for Scotland, (an old and 
valued friend of the author,) to the Abbotsford Club, will be found, pp. 6, 
7, James' letter of credential to his ambassadors, Bruce and Wemyss, with 
a letter from the king to the Earl of Essex, bespeaking his good offices. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr Edward Bruce to Lord Burghley, 
16th May, 1594. 

1594. JAMES VI. 137 

Denmark. The object of all these missions was the 
same : to carry to the king's faithful and ancient allies 
the happy news of the birth of a prince ; to invite 
them to send their representatives to the baptism, 
which had been fixed for the fifteenth of July ; and 
to hint delicately to the United States, but in perfectly 
intelligible terms, the necessity of presenting, at that 
solemn ceremony, something more substantial than 
congratulations . * 

Important events now crowded rapidly on each other. 
On the thirtieth of May the Estates assembled ; and 
as James 1 avowed determination to concentrate his 
whole strength against the Catholic earls, had con- 
ciliated the Kirk and the English faction, all proceeded 
amicably and firmly. Huntley, Angus, and Errol, 
the three mighty leaders, who were now in open re- 
bellion, were forfeited, stript of their estates, declared 
traitors, -f* and a commission given to their avowed 
enemy, the young Earl of Argyle, to assemble the 
forces of the north, and pursue them with fire and 
sword. All persons detected in saying Mass, were 
ordered to be punished capitally, and their goods con- 
fiscated. It was resolved, for the preservation of the 
religion, and to confirm the amity between the two 
realms, that there should be a thorough reformation 
in the king's council ; and that Elizabeth's advice 
should be followed in such matters. The Catholic 
Countess of Huntley, whose intercourse with the king 
and queen had been a constant thorn in the side of 

* Warrender MS. Collections, vol. A., p. 109. MS. Letter, State-paper 
Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 13th April, 1594. Also, ibid., same to same, 
21st April, 1594. Also, ibid., original draft, Sir R. Cecil to Sir R. Bowes, 
17th May, 1594. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office. Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 30th May, 1594. 
Ibid., same to same, 9th June, 1594. 


the Kirk, was dismissed from court ; Lord Hume 
recanted, and signed the Confession of Faith, either 
convinced in conscience, or terrified by impending 
severities: and the king declared, that immediately 
after the baptism, he would march in person, at the 
head of the whole strength of his dominions, against 
the Catholic insurgents.* 

On the evening of the twenty-seventh August, the 
Earl of Sussex, a young nobleman of the highest 
rank, and connected by blood with his royal mistress, 
arrived at the Scottish court. He came from Eliza- 
beth to stand her gossip, or representative, at the 
baptism of the young prince. He was attended by a 
noble retinue, and brought some rich presents from 
the Queen of England, with this brief letter of con- 
gratulation and counsel : 

" I make a note of my happy destiny, my good 
brother, in beholding my luck so fortunate as to be 
the baptizer of both father and son, so dear unto me ; 
and [this] makes me frame my humble orisons to Him 
that all may,*f- that He will please bless with all hap- 
piness the prosperous continuance of both, in such a 
sort as my benedictions bestowed on either may be 
perfected through His omnipotent graces; and do 
promise a grant to my devotions, springing from a 
fountain of such good will. And pray you believe, 
that I never counsel or advise you aught whose first 
end tends not to your most good ; and do conjure you, 
that receiving so assured knowledge of what your lewd 
lords [she alludes here to the Catholic earls] mean, 
that you neglect not God^s good warning, to cause 
you timely shun the worst. All kings have not had 

* MS. State-paper Office, Act of Secret Council, 23d July 1594. 
J* To Him that can do all things. 

1594. JAMES VI. 139 

so true espiars of their harm, but have felt it or they 
heard it ; but I am best testimony of you to too many 
foretellers, in whom you never yet found guile.* 

" Thus will I end to trouble you with ragged lines; 
saving to request you bear with the youth of this 
noble earl, in whom, though his years may not pro- 
mise him much, yet I hope his race, and his good 
nature, will afford your honourable regard, both for 
his parentage, and being of my blood, as coming from 
such a prince, of whom you may make surest account, 
to be assured such as you could wish, as God can best 
witness : to whom I pray you to grant you always 
victory of your evil subjects."^ 

When Sussex delivered his letter and presents, the 
king was in the highest bustle and good humour ; 
engrossed not only with the many weighty concerns 
connected with his approaching " Rode," or military 
expedition, but devising sports and pastimes for the 
entertainment of his foreign guests the ambassadors, 
and planning, with the Lord of Lindores and Mr 
David Fowler his masters of the revels, a variety of 
princely pageants, with " deep moral meanings ;" one 
of which, the interlude of " Neptune," was the fruitful 
product of his majesty's own private brain. The ex- 
pense incurred in these triumphs and shows, in which 
there was an unusual allowance of chariots, mimic 
ships, Christian knights, rural deities, Moors, wind- 
mills, and amazons, must have been excessive, judging 
from the account of a contemporary pamphlet, written 

* Obscure. Probably, " But I, in whom you never yet found guile, am 
the best amongst many forewarners." 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 27th August, 
1 594. Also, Royal Letters, State-paper Office, Copy of her Majesty's Letter 
to the King of Scots. 


in the highest style of quaint and courtly composition.* 
The baptism itself took place on the thirtieth of 
August, in the royal chapel at Stirling castle. The 
infant prince was carried by Sussex, Elizabeth's am- 
bassador. He was christened by Cunningham bishop 
of Aberdeen, by the name of Frederick Henry, Henry 
Frederick ; and when the solemn ceremony was con- 
cluded, and the king, the ambassadors and nobles, 
with the queen and her ladies of honour, retired from 
the chapel to the hall of State, " the cannons of the 
castle roared, so that therewith the earth trembled ; 
and other smaller shot," says one of the city orators 
of the time, " made their harmony after their kind." 
The infant was then knighted by his royal father, 
" touched with the spur " by the Earl of Mar ; and 
being crowned with a ducal coronet, richly set with 
diamonds, sapphires, and other precious stones, Lion 
King of Arms proclaimed his titles, as " The Right 
Excellent, High, and Magnanimous Frederick Henry, 
Henry Frederick, by the Grace of God, Knight and 
Baron of Renfrew, Lord of the Isles, Earl of Carrick, 
Duke of Rothesay, Prince and Great Steward of 
Scotland."f The pageants succeeded ; but their 
details would only fatigue. It is amusing to find 
that the king himself did not disdain to take a part, 
apparelled at all points as a Christian Knight of 
Malta ; whilst a worshipful baron, the Lord of Buc- 
cleuch, with Lord Lindores and the abbot of Holyrood, 
in women^s attire and gallantly mounted, enacted 

* State-paper Office. A rare pamphlet, entitled, " A True Report of the 
most Triumphant and Royal Accomplishment of the Baptism of the most 
Excellent, Right High and Mighty Prince, Frederick Henry, by the Grace 
of God, Prince of Scotland, solemnized 30th August, 15.94." Printed hy 
Peter Short, for the Widow Butter. To be sold at her shop under St Aus- 
tin's Church. 

t Id. ibid. 

1594. JAMES VI. 141 

three amazons. The ceremony being concluded, and 
the voice of revelry hushed in the palace, the Earl of 
Sussex, after a few days, took leave, bearing with him 
this letter from the king to his royal mistress. It is 
wholly written in James 1 hand : 

" I could not permit, madam and dearest sister, 
now after the ending of this solemn time, the noble- 
man bearer hereof to depart without returning with 
him unto you my most hearty thanks for the honour- 
ing me with so noble a substitute gossip in your place. 
And where ye excuse his youth, surely he was the 
fitter for a young king and feasting days. But I can- 
not aneuch* commend unto you his extreme diligence 
in coming, and courteous and mild behaviour here ; 
which moves me to request you to cherish so noble a 
youth, now after his first employment. 

" As for the other part of his commission and your 
letter, which concerns the Spanish lords here, ye can 
be no earnester now in that matter than I am, who 
has now renounced any farther dealing with them 
but by extremity; and presently have I vowed myself 
only to that errand, and never to take rest until I put 
some end thereunto. And suppose ye may justly 
accuse (as ever ye do) my deferring so long to put 
order unto them ; yet according to an old proverb, it 
is better late thrive than never; and surely I will think 
my fault the more excusable if the example thereof 
make you to eschew the falling in the like error, in 
making your assistance not to come as far behind the 
time as my prosecution does. But in this I remit 
you to your own wisdom ; for you are not ignorant 
how occasion is painted. And now I cannot omit to 
lay before you some incident griefs of mine ; but lest 

* A pencil, Scottish for enough. 


I weary you too much with my ragged handwrit, I 
remit the particulars hereof to the report of this noble- 
man, only touching thus far by the way. I think ye 
have not given commission to any of your council to 
treat with Bothwell's ambassador, nor yet allow that 
his agent, and one guilty of all his treasons, should 
use his public devotion in the French Kirk, in presence 
of my ambassador ; who, indeed, was better furnished 
with patience at the sight thereof than he is likely to 
get thanks for at my hands : yet now, madam, none 
can brook me and Bothwell both. Examine secretly 
your councillors, and suffer them not to behave them- 
selves more to your dishonour than my discontentment. 
Only honestum utile est, prcecipue regibus; and if James 
Forret or any other Bothwellist be at present within 
your country, I crave, by these presents, delivery 
according to the treaties, your many hand-written 
promises, and my good deserts by CTRorick. And 
thus not doubting, as it hath been your fortune to be 
godmother both to me and my son, so ye will be a 
good mother to us both ; I commit you, madam and 
dearest sister, to the protection of the Almighty." * 

For these suspicions of James there was too much 
ground ; as it is certain that Sir Robert Cecil, who, 
on account of the increasing infirmities of his father 
Lord Burghley, now managed the Scottish affairs, had 
secret intelligence with Bothwell. The Catholic earls 
were now alluring this audacious man, by Spanish 
gold, to make common cause with them against the 
Scottish king. Bothwell, on the other hand, with 
consummate baseness, had proposed to Cecil to accept 
the money and betray their secrets to the Queen of 

* MS. State-paper Office, Royal Letters, James to Elizabeth, llth Sep- 
tember, 1594, Holyrood. Printed for the first time. 

1594-. JAMES VI. 143 

England, if she would still stand his friend in his 

O 7 

present distress and misery. But he was no longer 
the proud and powerful partisan whom Elizabeth had 
once so highly favoured ; and the moment she discov- 
ered that James had detected his intrigues, she threw 
him from her with as much indifference as she would a 
broken sword ; commanded him to leave her dominions ; 
and interdicted her subjects, under the severest pen- 
alties, from giving him harbour or assistance. He 
was no longer permitted, in the strong language which 
the king himself used in his remonstrance to Sussex, 
to "tak muster, display cornet or ensign, blaw trum- 
pet, strike drum," or even in any way live and breathe 
within England.* 

Having secured this expulsion of his mortal enemy, 
James assembled a convention at Stirling,^ and made 
the most active preparations for the attack of the 
Catholic earls. On both sides a violent and deter- 
mined struggle was anticipated ; as there were many 
deep feelings and bitter passions which festered in the 
minds of the leaders and their hosts. With the Kirk, 
it was a war of religious persecution, or rather exter- 
mination. Their avowed object was to depose Anti- 
christ, and to compel all Catholics to recant, or at once 
give up their lands, their honours, and their country, 
for their privilege to adhere to that Church which they 
believed to be of divine origin and the only depository 
of the truth. But to these feelings were added, as 
may be easily imagined, many motives and passions 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr John Colvile to Sir R. Cecil, whom 
headdresses as "his honourable Lord and Maecenas," 31st July, 1594. 
Also, ibid., Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 3d August, 1594. Also, ibid., Royal 
Letters, " The Effect of the King of Scots' Speech to the Earl of Sussex," 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Earl of Sussex to Sir R. Cecil, 8th Sep- 
tember, 1594. 


of baser alloy : ambition, love of plunder, deep feudal 
hatred, long-delayed and fondly-cherished hopes of 
revenge ; and all that catalogue of dark and merciless 
passions which spring from the right of private war 
and the prevalence of family feuds. These all raged 
in the bosoms of the opposed leaders and combatants; 
and the exacerbation they produced, was shown alike 
by the energy of their preparations and the cruelty 
with which they fought. Huntley, Angus, Errol, and 
Auchendown, since their refusal of the Act of Aboli- 
tion, had been gathering their strength, and were now 
busily engaged in levying recruits, partly at their own 
charges, partly with Spanish gold, of which they had 
received repeated supplies. It had been now for many 
years the practice of Elizabeth, with the permission of 
James, to employ large bodies of Scottish auxiliaries 
in her wars in the Low Countries. Scottish troops, 
also, often served in Ireland ; and the Highland chiefs 
had long driven a lucrative and warlike commerce with 
that country, selling their services to the highest 
bidder, and carrying over large bodies of pikemen, 
bowmen, and even of hagbutteers, to the assistance of 
Elizabeth or her enemies, as it best suited their in- 
terest. From these causes, there were now in Scot- 
land many experienced officers and numerous bands of 
mercenaries, ready, like the Italian Condottieri, or the 
Swiss bands, to offer their service wherever they heard 
the tuck of drum or the clink of gold; and as Huntley 
had high reputation as a military leader, lived in al- 
most regal splendour in his palace at Strathbogie, and 
was young, generous, and brave, the Catholic camp 
was in no want of recruits, and soon assumed a formi- 
dable appearance. He was now also joined by Both- 
well, who, driven to desperation by the mortal hatred 

1594. JAMES VI. 145 

of the Scottish king ; his recent proscription by the 
Queen of England ; his desertion by the Kirk, who 
had detected his dealings with the Catholics ; and the 
hunting down, torturing, and execution of his poor 
vassals, had been unable to resist the bribes held out 
to him. The papers still exist which enable us to 
trace the last struggles and plots of this desperate 
man ; but we can only give them a passing glance. 
It was arranged between him and his new associates, 
that when Huntley was engaged in the north, Both- 
well should make a diversion in the south ; thus dis- 
tracting the king and dividing his forces. But this 
was not all. He entered into an agreement with his 
new friends, in which it was proposed, by a sudden 
coup de main, to attack the court, imprison the king, 
seize the infant prince, murder Sir George Hume the 
king's favourite ; and, as he himself expressed it in 
his letter to the ministers of the Kirk, " put in practice 
the loveable custom of their progenitors at Lauder" by 
completely revolutionizing the government.* It was 
asserted, and on good grounds, that the usual " Band," 
or feudal agreement in such conspiracies, was drawn 
up and signed by the enterprisers ; but the time for its 
execution was not fixed ; and the seizure of some of 
the inferior agents, with the course of events in the 
north, happily rendered the whole plot abortive. 

These events were of a stirring and romantic kind ; 
for, on the twenty-first September, Argyle having 
received the royal commission to pursue Huntley and 
his associates, set out on his expedition at the head of 
a force of six thousand men. Of this army, three 
thousand only were chosen men, bearing harquebuses, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bothwell to the Presbytery of Edin- 
burgh, 7th September, 1594. 



bows, and pikes ; the rest being more slenderly equipt, 
both as to body-armour and weapons. Of cavalry, he 
had few or none; but he expected to be joined by Lord 
Forbes, with the Laird of Towey, the Dunbars, and 
other barons, who, it was hoped, would form a strong 
reinforcement, and be mostly mounted.* It had been 
the kin^s intention to postpone the attack upon the 
insurgent barons till he had assembled the whole force 


of his realm, and was ready to take the command in 
person. But the ministers of the Kirk urged the 
danger of delay : some of them even buckled on their 
broadswords and rode to the camp ; whilst Argyle 
himself, young, (he was only nineteen,) ardent, and 
acting under the stimulus of personal revenge, deter- 
mined on instant action. He had already, he said, 
been twice on the eve of marching, and twice been 
countermanded ; but now the slaughter of his brother- 
in-law, the Earl of Moray, should be avenged on Hunt- 
ley ; to whom lie sent a message that, within three 
'days, he meant to sleep at Strathbogie. To this taunt- 
ing challenge Huntley replied, that Argyle should be 
welcome : he would himself be his porter, and open all 
the gates of his palace to his young friend ; but he 
must not take it amiss if he rubbed his cloak against 
Argyle's plaid ere they parted.^ 

On advancing to Aberdeen, Argyle ordered Red 
Lion, the herald, to proclaim the royal commission by 
sound of trumpet in the market-place, and appointed 
Sir Lauchlan Maclean of Duart to the chief command 
under himself. He was joined by the Macintoshes, 
the Grants, the Clan Gregor, the Macgillivrays, with 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 27th September, 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 28th September, 
1594. Historic of James the Sext, p. '639. 

1594. JAMES vi. 147 

all their friends and dependants, and by the whole 
surname of the Campbells ; with many others, whom 
either greediness of prey or malice against the Gordons 
had thrust into that expedition. These, including the 
rabble of camp-followers, or, as Bowes terms them, 
" rascals and poke-bearers" formed a body of ten thou- 
sand strong. But of this number only six thousand 
were fighting men ; and out of these there were not 
above fifteen hundred disciplined hagbutteers, chiefly 
serving under Maclean ; the rest being promiscuously 
armed with dirks, swords, dags, Lochaber axes, two- 
handed swords, and bows and arrows. He had neither 
cavalry nor artillery; and a large part of his force was 
totally regardless of discipline, disdaining command, 
composed of chieftains and people distracted by old 
feuds and suspicions, marching, as described by an 
eye-witness, "at raggle and in plumps, without order." 
With this army Argyle proceeded into Badenoch, and 
besieged the castle of Ruthven, belonging to Huntley ; 
but the place was bravely defended by the Macpher- 
sons. He had no means of battering the walls ; and 
abandoning the siege, he led his troops through the 
hills to Strathbogie. It was his purpose to ravage 
this country, which belonged to Huntley, with fire 
and sword ; and thence come down into the Lowlands 
to form a junction with Lord Forbes, who, with his 
own kin and the Frasers, Dunbars, Ogilvies, Leslies, 
and others, were at that moment on their way to meet 
him. With this object, he arrived on the second of 
October at Drimmin in Strathdown, where he en- 
camped;* and soon after received news that Huntley 
and Errol were in the neighbourhood, and purposed to 
attack him, in spite of their great inferiority in force. 

* Warrender MSS., vol. B., p. 9. 


The disparity was indeed great ; for the Catholic earls 
could not muster above fifteen hundred, or, at most, 
two thousand men. But of these the greater part 
were resolute and gallant gentlemen, all well mounted 
and fully armed : and amongst them some officers of 
veteran experience, who had served in the Low Coun- 
tries. They had, besides, six pieces of ordnance, which 
were placed under the charge of Captain Andrew Gray, 
who afterwards commanded the English and Scottish 
auxiliaries in Bohemia.* 

On the morning of the third of October, Huntley, 
who had marched from Strathbogie to Auchendown, 
the castle of Sir Patrick Gordon, having received word 
by his scouts that Argyle was at no great distance, 
sent Captain Thomas Ker, a veteran officer, at the 
head of a small body of cavalry, to view the enemy 
and report their strength. In executing this, he fell 
in with Argyle's " spials," and slew them all except 
one, who brought him to the vicinity of their encamp- 
ment, which was near Glenlivat, in the mountainous 
district of Strathavon. On his return, Captain Ker 
concealed the number of their opponents, affirming 
that a few resolute men might easily have the advan- 
tage ; and Huntley, following his advice, instantly 
marched forward. Errol led the advance, supported 
by Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchendown, the Lairds of 
Gicht, Bonuiton Wood, and Captain Ker and three 
hundred gentlemen. Huntley commanded the rear- 
ward, having on his right the Laird of Clunie-Gordon, 
on his left Gordon of Abergeldie, and the six pieces 
of artillery so placed as to be completely masked or 
covered by the cavalry, so that they were dragged 

* Warrender MSS., vol. B., p. 9, d. ; in -which there is a minute con- 
temporary account of the battle of (jlenlivat. 

1594. JAMES VI. 149 

forward unperceived within range of the enemy's posi- 
tion. They then opened their fire ; and on the first 
discharge, which was directed at the yellow standard 
of Argyle, struck down and slew Macneill, the Laird 
of Barra's third son, one of their bravest officers ; and 
Campbell of Lochnell, who held the standard. This 
successful commencement occasioned extraordinary 
confusion amongst the Highlanders, to many of whom 
the terrible effects of artillery were even at this late 
day unknown ; and a large body of them, yelling and 
brandishing their broadswords and axes, made some 
ineffectual attempts to reach the horsemen ; but re- 
ceiving another fire from the little ordnance-train of 
Captain Gray, they took to flight, and in an incre- 
dibly short time were out of sight and pursuit. Still, 
however, a large body remained ; and Argyle had the 
advantage not only of the sun, then shining fiercely 
in the eyes of his opponents, glancing on their steel 
coats and making the plain appear on fire, but of the 
ground : for his army were arrayed on the top of a 
steep hill covered with high heather and stones, whilst 
the ground at the bottom was soft and mossy, full of 
holes, called in that country peat-pots, and danger- 
ous for cavalry. But all this did not deter Huntley's 
vanguard, under Errol and Auchendown, from advan- 
cing resolutely to the attack. Errol, however, dread- 
ing the marsh, made an oblique movement by some 
firmer ground which lay on one side, and hoped thus 
to turn the flank of the enemy ; but Sir Patrick Gor- 
don of Auchendown, urged on by his fiery temper, 
spurred his horse directly towards the hill, and get- 
ting entangled with his men in the mossy ground, was 
exposed to a murderous fire from the force under Mac- 
lean of Duart. This chieftain was conspicuous from 


his great stature and strength ; he was covered with 
a shirt of mail, wielded a double-edged Danish battle- 
axe, and appears to have been a more experienced 
officer than the rest ; as he placed his, men, who were 
mostly hagbutteers, in a small copsewood hard by, 
from which they could deliver their fire, and be screen- 
ed from the attack of cavalry. Auchendown, never- 
theless, although his ranks were dreadfully thinned 
by this fire of the enemy's infantry, managed to disen- 
gage them, and spurring up the hill, received a bullet 
in the body, and fell from his horse ; whilst his com- 
panions shouted with grief and rage, and made despe- 
rate efforts to rescue him. The Highlanders, however, 
who knew him well, rushed in upon him, despatched 
him with their dirks, and cutting off his head dis- 
played it in savage triumph : a sight which so en- 
raged the Gordons, that they fought with a fury which 
alike disregarded discipline and life. This gave an 
advantage to Maclean, who, enclosing the enemy's 
vanguard, and pressing it into narrow space between 
his own force and Argyle's, would have cut them to 
pieces had not Huntley come speedily to their support 
and renewed the battle ; attacking both Argyle and 
Maclean with desperate energy, and calling loudly to 
his friends to revenge Auchendown. It was at this 
moment that some of the Gordons caught a sight of 
Fraser, the King's herald, who rode beside Argyle, 
and was dressed in his tabard, with the Red Lion 
embroidered on it, within the double tressure. This 
ought to have been his protection ; but it seemed 
rather to point him out as a victim : and the horse- 
men shouting out, " Have at the Lion," ran him 
through with their spears, and slew him on the spot. 
The battle was now at its height, and raged for two 

1594. JAMES VI. 151 

hours with the utmost cruelty. Errol was severely 
wounded with a bullet in the arm, and by one of the 
sharp-barbed arrows of the Highland bowmen, which 
pierced deep into the thigh. He lost his pennon, or 
guidon, also ; which was won by Maclean. Gordon 
of Gicht was struck with three bullets through the 
body, and had two plaits of his steel coat carried into 
him ; wounds which next day proved mortal. Hunt- 
ley himself was in imminent danger of his life ; for 
his horse was shot under him, and the Highlanders 
were about to attack him on the ground with their 
knives and axes, when he was extricated and horsed 
again by Inuermarkie ; after which he again charged 
the enemy under Argyle, whose troops wavered, and 
at last began to fly in such numbers that only twenty 
men were left round him. Upon this the young chief, 
overcome with grief and vexation at so disgraceful a 
desertion, shed tears of rage, and would have still re- 
newed the fight, had not Murray of Tullibardine seized 
his bridle and forced him off the field. Seeing the 
day lost, Maclean, who had done most, and suffered 
least in this cruel fight, withdrew his men from the 
wood, and retired in good order ; but seven hundred 
Highlanders were slain in the chase, which was con- 
tinued till the steepness of the mountains rendered 
further pursuit impossible. Such was the celebrated 
battle of Glenlivat. The loss on Huntley's side was 
mostly of gentlemen, of whom Sir Patrick Gordon of 
Auchendown, his uncle, " a wise, valiant, and resolute 
knight,' 1 was chiefly lamented. Besides him, twenty 
other gentlemen were slain, and some forty or fifty 
wounded ; but the victory was complete, and recalled 
to memory the bloody fight of Harlaw, in 1411, be- 
tween the Earl of Mar and Donald Balloch ; in which, 


under somewhat similar circumstances, the superior 
armour and discipline of the Lowland knights proved 
too strong for the ferocious but irregular efforts of a 
much larger force of Highlanders.* 

o " 

During these transactions, the king, unconscious of 
this reverse, had left his palace at Stirling, and ad- 
vanced with his army to Dundee, where Argyle, in 
person, brought him the news of his own defeat. 
James, however, was more enraged than dismayed by 
this intelligence. He had left his capital so well de- 
fended -f that he dreaded nothing from Bothwell. He 
knew that, from the exhausted state of the country, 
it would be impossible for Huntley to keep his forces 
together; and he swore that the death of a royal 
herald, who had been murdered with the king's coat 
on, should be avenged on these audacious rebels. Nor 
did he fail to keep his promise. In spite of the seve- 
rity of the season, he advanced with his army to Aber- 
deen, attended by Andrew Melvil and a body of the 
ministers of the Kirk, who, with the feeling that this 
was a crusade against the infidels, had joined the camp, 
and loudly applauded the meditated vengeance of the 
monarch. J He thence pushed on to Strathbogie. 
This noble residence of Huntley, which had been 
fourteen years in building, was blown up with gun- 
powder, and levelled in two days ; nothing being left 
but the great old tower, whose massive masonry de- 
fied the efforts of the pioneers ; whilst its master, 

* The above account of the battle of Glenlivat is taken chiefly from the 
original letters of Bowes, -who was on the spot. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 3d October. 
Ibid., 8th October. Ibid., 12th October, 1594. 

I MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir B. Cecil, 23d Oct., 1594. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Carey to Sir R. Cecil, 18th No- 
vember, 1594. " The castle and palace of Strathbogie clean cast down and 
brent." Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Occurrents, 29th Oct., 1594. 

1594. JAMES VI. 153 

deserted by his oarons and dependants, fled into the 
mountainous parts of Caithness.* James had been 
much incensed against him by the scornful contents 
of an intercepted letter written to Angus, in which 
Huntley spoke of the king^s rumoured campaign as 
likely to turn out a," gowlcs storm" ~f Slaines in 
Buchan, the principal castle of Errol, who still lay 
languishing from his wounds; Culsamond in Garioch, 
the house of the Laird of Newton-Gordon ; Bagays and 
Craig in Angus, the castles of Sir Walter Lindsay 
and Sir John Ogilvy, successively shared the fate of 
Strathbogie. Indeed, there is little doubt that the 
royal severity, whetted by the exhortations of Andrew 
Melvil, who bore a pike and joined the soldiers in the 
destruction of Strathbogie, would have fallen still 
heavier on this devoted district, had not famine, and 
the remonstrances of Thirlstane and Glammis, com- 
pelled the king to fall back upon Aberdeen. Here, 
after the execution of some of Huntley ""s men, he pub- 
lished a general pardon to all the Commons who had 
been in the field at the battle of Glenlivat, upon their 
payment of the fines imposed by the council. He 
then appointed the Duke of Lennox to be his lieuten- 
ant or representative in the north, assisted by a coun- 
cil of barons and ministers. Amongst the civilians 
were the Earl Marshal, Lord Forbes, Sir Robert 
Melvil, and Sir John Carmichael, with the Lairds of 
Dunipace, Findlater, and Balquhan ; whilst of the 
ministry, were Mr David Lindsay, Mr James Nicol- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 29th October, 
1594. Ibid., same to same, 29th October, 1594. MS. State-paper Office, 
Occurrents, 28th and 29th October. 

t" " Gowk " is the Scottish word for the " Cuckoo." An Apdl storm. 

J MS. State-paper Office, 3d November, 1594, Occurrents certified from 

MS. State-paper Office, Occurrents, 3d November, 1594. 


son, Mr Peter Blackburn, Mr Alexander Douglas, 
and Mr Duncan Davison. A charge was next given 
to the barons and gentlemen who resided north of the 
river Dee, to apprehend all the rebels within their 
boundaries ; and although in the greatest possible dis- 
tress for money to pay his troops, the king, who trust- 
ed to the solemn promises of Elizabeth, made an effort 
to keep them together ; and left behind him a body 
of two hundred horse, and one hundred foot, under 
the command of Sir John Carmichael. These were 
ordered to assist the Duke of Lennox, whose residence 
was to be in Aberdeen, Elgin or Inverness, until 
Argyle, who had been appointed by James to the 
permanent government of the north, should assemble 
his friends and relieve him of his charge. Meanwhile, 
the Duke was empowered to hold Justice Ayres, or 
courts for the punishment of offenders ; and the barons 
and gentlemen of the north bound themselves, before 
the king's departure, in strict promises of support.* 
Having completed these judicious arrangements, the 
monarch disbanded his forces, and returned to Stirling 
on the fourteenth November.-f- 

* MS. Books of the Privy Council of Scotland, 7th November, 1594. MS. 
State-paper Office, Occurrents sent from Aberdeen, 8th November, 1594. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Abstract of letters from Edinburgh, 16th Nor., 

15.94. JAMES VI. 155 




England. I France. 
Elizabeth. | Henry IV. 

Germany. I Spain. 
Rudolph II. I Philip II. 

Philip II. 

Clement VIM. 

JAMES had now fulfilled all his promises to Elizabeth; 
and by the severity with which he had put down the 
rebellion of the Catholic earls, had more than fulfilled 
the expectations of the Kirk. The castles and houses 
which were said to have been polluted by the Mass, 
were smoking and in ruins;* the noblemen and gentry, 
whose only petition had been, that they should be 
permitted to retain their estates, and have their rents 
transmitted to them in the banishment which they 
had chosen rather than renounce the faith of their 
fathers, were fugitives and wanderers, hiding in the 
caves and forests, and dreading every hour to be 
betrayed into the hands of their enemies.*!* All this 
had been accomplished at no little personal risk ; for 
the king was surrounded by perpetual plots against 
his liberty, and sometimes even against his life.* 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir R. Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 28th 
September, 1594. 

t MS. State-paper Office, Bowes, 29th October, 1594. 

J MS. Letter, State- paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 7th Oct., 1594. 
Also, ibid., Occurrents, 8th November, 1594, and 16th November, 1594. 


He had cheerfully undergone great privations : had 
impoverished his revenue, incurred heavy debts, and 
imposed burdens upon his subjects, that he might, by 
one great effort, extinguish the Catholic faith, destroy 
the hopes and intrigues of Spain, and relieve the 
Queen of England from all her fears. He had done 
this, trusting to her promises of that pecuniary aid 
which was absolutely necessary for the payment of his 
troops; and before he set out, had despatched his secre- 
tary, Sir Robert Cockburn, to the English court,* with 
the perfect confidence that everything which had been 
undertaken by " his good sister," would be fulfilled. 
In this, however, he was miserably disappointed. 
Whilst the king was engaged in burning and razing 
the houses of the Catholics, Elizabeth and the now 
venerable Burghley were closeted at Greenwich, lay- 
ing their heads together to find out some plausible 
excuse for stopping the payment of the promised sup- 
plies. Cockburn, the ambassador, was artfully de- 
tained and delayed from week to week, and month to 
month, till the result of the campaign could be guessed 
with some certainty. When this was ascertained, 
the sum of two thousand pounds, for which an order 
had been given, was recalled ;*f and a paper was drawn 
up by Lord Burghley, detailing the sums paid by 
England to James since the year 1586, and proving, 
to the perfect satisfaction of Elizabeth if not of James, 
that instead of any money being then due to the King 
of Scotland, he had been overpaid to the extent of six 
thousand five hundred pounds.]: This, the queen 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir R. Cockburn to Sir R. Cecil, ICth 
September, 1594. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir R. Bowes to Burghley, 23d Oct., 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Scottish payments, 5th November, 
1594. The indorsation is in Burghley's hand. 

1594. JAMES vi. 157 

added, was at the rate of throe thousand pounds 
a-year ; which James could hardly complain of, as it 
was the exact allowance given both to her sister Mary 
and herself by their father Henry the Eighth : and 
yet the Scottish king now pretended that she had 
promised an annuity of four thousand pounds ; which 
she positively denied. 

For this unwise and double conduct in the queen 
there could be no defence. She had first excited 
James to this northern expedition by flattery and 
large promises of support; she now forgot all, and 
deserted him without scruple or remorse. Such a 
mode of proceeding roused his passion to a pitch of 
unusual fury ; and when Sir R. Cockburn returned, 
the storm broke pitilessly on his head. The king, at 
the same time, expressed, in no moderate terms, his 
rage and suspicion against Burghley and Sir Robert 
Cecil, by whose advice Elizabeth had acted ; and 
some busy courtiers blew the coals, by assuring him 
that both father and son were involved in the intrigues 
and treasons of Bothwell. Had the queen kept her 
promises, (so he said,) had she not thrown to the 
winds her solemn assurances made him by her am- 
bassadors Lord Burgh and Lord Zouch, the land 
would have been utterly purged of the enemies to 
God, religion, and both the countries. But now mat- 
ters might proceed as they pleased. If the enemy 
revived ; if they began again to look confidently for 
Spanish money, and Spanish messengers ; if recruits 
were raised in the Isles to assist the Catholics and 
O'Neill in Ireland; if the rebel earls and Bothwell 
had met together as they were reported to have done; 
if, in his own council, plots were being carried on in 
favour of the Catholics, and his own life were not safa 


from the efforts of desperate men, who had conspired 
to set up the young prince and pull him from his 
royal seat : all these manifold dangers and miseries 
were to be ascribed most justly to his desertion by 
Elizabeth. He had performed his part, and more 
than redeemed all the pledges which he had given. 
She had not only failed in all her promises, but now 
had the hardihood to disavow them ; and she might 
take the consequences. If he was himself compelled 
to look to other friendships, and accept of other offers 
of assistance contrary to his own wishes ; if the 
members of his council, who were inclined to the 
Catholic side, had now more to say than before ; if 
at the moment when Spanish intrigues were about to 
be extinguished for ever, he was arrested in his course; 
all was her fault not his.* He must now strengthen 
himself as he best could, and place no more implicit 
reliance upon English promises. 

It was impossible to deny the justice of these com- 
plaints ; and although for the moment all was quiet 
in the north under the government of the Duke of 
Lennox, there were many subjects for anxiety. The 
king's debts were enormous, and more money still was 
imperiously required to pay his troops and retain the 
advantages he had acquired. His late severities to 
the Catholic earls, and his alliance with the Kirk, the 
ministers of which now lauded as highly as they had 
vituperated him, had lost him the friendship of all his 
foreign allies, and of the influential body of the Eng- 
lish Catholics ; and within his own court and council 
there were so many rivalries and jealousies, so much 
plotting and intriguing, that, on his return, he found 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir R. Cockburn to Sir R. Bowes, 12th 
December, 1594. 

1594. JAMES VI. 159 

the campaign in the north almost less irksome than 
the civil battles he had to fight in his own palace. 
The great struggle was between the Lord Chancellor 
Maitland and the Earl of Mar. Maitland's faction 
was strong ; embracing Hamilton, Athole, Hume, 
Buccleuch, Oglivy, and many others. Mar, on the 
other hand, had the keeping of the prince, commanded 
the castles of Stirling and Edinburgh, and enjoyed 
the complete confidence of the king, who had become 
somewhat suspicious and impatient under the grasping 
and increasing power of the chancellor. 

But James had another and nearer source of anx- 
iety in the queen, who was equally the enemy of Mar 
and Maitland. This princess, for a considerable period 
after her marriage, appears to have shunned all inter- 
ference with party or public affairs ; but she was jeal- 
ous of Maitland, who had opposed her marriage, and 
was said to have secretly attacked her honour ; and 
of Mar, because her son, the young heir to the throne, 
had been committed in charge to him rather than to 
her. Besides, she and the king, though outwardly liv- 
ing on fair and decent terms, were neither loving nor 
confidential. James 1 cold temperament and coarse 
jokes disgusted the queen, who was not insensible to 
admiration ; and she consoled herself, for the deser- 
tion of her lord, in the more attractive society of the 
young Duke of Lennox, the noblest of the Scottish 
courtiers. This, on the other hand, roused the royal 
jealousy ; and about the time of the christening, Mr 
John Colvile assured Sir Robert Cecil, whom he calls 
his most honourable lord and Maecenas, that matters 
were on a very miserable footing. He writes as fol- 
lows : 

" These few lines I thought meet only to put in 


your hands, to go no further but to her majesty, and 
your most honourable father my special good lord. It 
is certain that the king has conceived a great jealousy 
of the queen, which burns the more the more he covers 
it. The duke is the principal suspected. The chan- 
cellor casts in materials to this fire. The queen is 
forewarned ; but with the like cunning will not excuse, 
till she be accused. ' Haec sunt incendia malorum* ; 
and the end can be no less tragical nor was betwixt his 
parents. The President of the Session, called the 
Prior of Pluscardine, is by her indirectly stirred up 
to counterpoise the chancellor, who she blames of all 
these slanders ; and the chancellor is indirectly sup- 
ported by the other : both the princes holding the 
Wolf by the ears."* We know also, from a letter of 
Mr James Murray, a gentleman of the bed-chamber, 
that, about this time, a plot had been laid for the 
"disgrace of the queen and the Duke of Lennox ; and 
to so bitter and mortal an excess had the king's fears 
and jealousy proceeded shortly before the baptism, that 
he had doubts as to the paternity of prince Henry ."}* 
On the thirtieth of July, a month before the baptism, 
Col vile wrote thus to Sir II . Cecil : The " king repents 
him sore that he has made such convention to this 
baptism ; for upon the jealousy mentioned in my last 
he begins to doubt of the child. I think he had not 
been baptised at this time if so many princes had not 
been invited. That matter takes deep root upon both 

Nocte dieque suos gestant in pectore fastus, 
Incautos perdet tacita flamma duos." 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr John Colvile to Sir R. Cecil, 26th 
July, 1594. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr James Murray to 
" Faithful Gawane," 16th August, 1594. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, James Murray to his Faithful Gawane, 
16th August, 1594 ; and ibid., Mr John Colvile to Sir R. Cecil. 

1594. JAMES VI. 161 

It is possible that all this may have been much ex- 
aggerated by Colvile, and that Bothwell's gossip to 
the Dean of Durham, Toby Mathews, of the king's 
love for the beautiful daughter of the Earl of Morton, 
may have been equally highly coloured ; but there can 
be little doubt that James and his royal consort were 
not on comfortable terms ; and it seems certain that 
the queen about this time, not only placed herself at 
the head of a faction which numbered in its ranks some 
of the most powerful nobles, but began to have con- 
siderable weight both in the court and with the country. 

In the north, also, everything was in commotion ; 
for although Lennox had, for a brief season, succeeded 
in restoring tranquillity, by the vigour with which he 
had executed the charge committed to him, all became 
again disordered on his retirement from office. The 
great cause of these excesses was to be traced to some 
extraordinary discoveries made at this time by the 
young Earl of Argyle, which showed that treachery, 
not cowardice, had been the cause of his defeat at 
Glenlivat. It was found out, by the confessions of 
some accomplices, that Campbell of Lochnell, the near 
relative of the young chief, arid, failing an only brother, 
the heir to his estates and honours, had been tamper- 
ing with Huntley ; and that the flight of so large a 
body of Highlanders was only part of a conspiracy 
against the life of Argyle. It was discovered, also, by 
evidence which could not be contradicted, that this 
foul plot against the young earl was intimately con- 
nected with the late murder of the Earl of Moray and 
the assassination of the Laird of Calder ; that all were 
branches of one great conspiracy, of which a chief con- 
triver was Maitland the Chancellor, assisted by 
Huntley, Duncan Campbell of Glenurchy, Archibald 



Campbell of Lochnell, Sir James Campbell of Ard- 
kinglas, Macaulay of Ardincaple, and John Lord 
Maxwell. These titled and official ruffians, in the 
spirit of the times, which could combine the strictest 
legal precision with the utmost familiarity with blood, 
had drawn up a band, by which, in the most solemn 
manner, they became mutually bound to each other to 
achieve the murder of James earl of Moray, Archibald 
earl of Argyle, Colin Campbell of Lundy his only 
brother, and John Campbell of Calder. The result 
was to be, the possession of the earldom of Argyle by 
Lochnell, and the appropriation of a large part of its 
princely estates by the Chancellor Maitland and the 
other conspirators. With the success of one part of 
this conspiracy, the cruel murder of the Earl of Moray, 
we are already acquainted; and, in the case of the 
Laird of Calder, they were also successful : for this 
unfortunate gentleman was about this time shot at 
night, through the window of his own house, in Lorn, 
by an assassin named M'Kellar, who had been furnish- 
ed with a hagbut by Ardkinglas, which, to make surer 
work, he had loaded with three bullets. So far this 
diabolical plot was followed out with success. But at 
this crisis, the remorse or interest of Ardkinglas re- 
vealed the conspiracy to Argyle; and the apprehen- 
sion, torture, and confession of John Oig Campbell 
and M'Kellar, who were executed, led, at last, to the 
revelation of the " Great Contract," as it was called. 
The " Band " itself fell into the hands of Argyle, and 
convinced him that the assassination of his unhappy 
friends, Moray and Calder, was to have been followed, 
on the first good opportunity that should present itself, 
by the murder of himself. Of all this the consequences 
were dreadful. Argyle hurried to the north, assem- 

1594-5. JAMES VI. 163 

bled his vassals, and proclaimed a war of extermination 
against Huntley, and all who had opposed or deserted 
him at Glenlivat.* Huntley, on the other hand, having, 
by this time, somewhat recovered his recent losses, 
was once more in the field, and threatened to hang up 
any retainer of his, high or low, who dared to pay the 
fines levied on him, or sought for peace in obedience 
to the laws.^f- Mar, a nobleman very powerful in the 
north as well as the south, joined with Argyle; whilst 
Huntley had many friends at court, who secretly 
screened him in his excesses. The ministers of the 
Kirk, in the meantime, sounded their terrible trumpet 
of warning to all true men, denouncing from the pulpit 
the reviving influence of the Catholics ; and large 
bodies of soldiers, disbanded for want of pay, roamed 
over the country, and committed every sort of robbery 
and excess. Ministers of religion were murdered; 
fathers slain by. their own sons ; brothers by their 
brethren ; married women ravished under their own 
roof; houses, with their miserable inmates, burned 
amidst savage mirth ; and the land so utterly wasted 
by fire, plunder, and the total cessation of agricultural 
labour, that famine at last stalked in to complete the 
horrid picture, and destroy, by the most terrible of 
deaths, those who had escaped the sword. J 

Amidst these dreadful excesses, the only support of 
the country was in the energy of the king : for his 
council was torn by faction, and some of the chief 
dignitaries were the offenders. But although deserted 
by Elizabeth, and compelled to disband his troops and 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir R. Bowes' Advertisements, sent 
him from Edinburgh, 5th January, 1594-5. Gregory's History of the West- 
ern Highlands and Isles of Scotland, pp. 244, 250, 251, 253. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Advertisements by letters from Edin- 
burgh, 15th January, 1594-5. 

I MS. Calderwood, British Museum, Ayscough, 4738, p. 1183. 


relax his military efforts against the Catholics, James 
assembled a convention of his nobles ; and evinced not 
only a sympathy for the sufferings of the people, but 
his resolution to make the utmost efforts to remove 
them.* Finding it impossible to reduce the northern 
districts to order without vigorous proceedings against 
the chiefs, he committed Athole, Lovat, and M'Kenzie 
to ward at Linlithgow ; imprisoned Argyle, Glenurchy, 
and others, in Edinburgh castle ; and confined Tully- 
bardine, Garntully, and their fierce adherents, in Dum- 
barton and Blackness : to remain in this durance till 
they had made redress for the horrid excesses com- 
mitted by their clansmen and supporters, and had 
come under an obligation to restore order to the coun- 
try. ) As to the Catholic earls, and Bothwell their 
associate, both parties, now nearly desperate of any 
ultimate success, and driven by the active pursuit of 
the king from one concealment to another, were anxious 
to reach the sea-coast and escape to the Continent. 
Bothwell especially, that once proud and potent baron, 
who had been the correspondent of Elizabeth, the 
friend of Burghley, the pillar of the Kirk, the arbiter 
of the court, and the idol of the people, was reduced 
to the lowest extremity. He had been expelled from 
all his castles and houses ; and now the Hermitage, 
his last and strongest den, was in the hands of Hume, 
his mortal enerny'.j Scott the Laird of Balwearie, 
one of his chief friends, who was acquainted with the 
secrets of his recent conspiracy with the Catholic earls, 
was seized, and purchased his life by a full revelation 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, George Nicolson to Burghley, 29th 
January, 1594-5. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, George Nicolson to Sir R. Bowes, 
30th January, 1594-5. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 24th Oct., 1594. 

1594-5. JAMES vi. 165 

of the plot. His brother, Hercules Stewart, suffered 
on the scaffold ; a.nd the Kirk branded him with ex- 
communication. William Hume, the brother of Davy 
the Devil, or David Hume of Manderston, whom 
Bothwell had slain, was employed to trace the fugitive 
from cover to cover ; and executing this service with 
a scent sharpened by revenge, he ran him through 
Caithness to the sea-coast ; from which, after various 
windings and doublings, he escaped to France.* 

Meanwhile, Huntley and Errol lingered in Scotland, 
with a last hope that assistance in money and in troops 
was on the eve of arriving from Spain ; but this pro- 
spect was utterly blasted by a disaster which befell 
their messenger, Mr John Morton, a Jesuit, brother 
to the Laird of Cambo, who had been intrusted with 
a secret mission by the King of Spain and the pope. 
This person had taken his passage in a Dutch ship, 
and was landed at Leith ; but the disguise under 
which he travelled had not concealed him from a fel- 
low passenger, a son of Erskine of Dun, who hinted 
his suspicion to Mr David Lindsay ; and this active 
minister of the Kirk instantly pounced upon Father 
Morton, as he was called, who, in the struggle with 
the officers of justice, tore his secret instructions with 
his teeth. f The fragments, however, were picked up, 
joined together, their contents deciphered, and the 
king, who piqued himself upon his shrewdness in cross- 
examination, exerted his powers with much success. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Sir R. Bowes, 19th Feb., 
1594-5. Same to same, 3d March, 1594-5. Also, ibid., same to same, 21>d 
February, 1594-5. Also, ibid., Mr Colvile to Sir R. Cecil, 19th March, 
1594-5. Also, ibid, Mr John Colvile, 22d Feb., 1594-5. Historic of James 
the Sext, p. 344. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr John Colvile to S., 25th March, 


He brought Morton to confess that he was a Jesuit, 


though he appeared only a Scottish gentleman seeking 
his native air for the recovery of his health ; that he 
was confessor to the Seminary College in Rome, and 
sent into Scotland by the pope, and with special mes- 
sages from Cardinal Cajetano and Fathers Crichton 
and Tyrie to Mr James Gordon, Huntley's near 
relative. The messenger added, that he was directed 
to reprove the Catholic lords for their disposal of the 
treasure lately sent, which had been given not to 
Catholics, but to courtiers who were heretics ; as well 
as for their rashness in " delating " the king to be a 
Catholic, before the Spanish army destined for Scot- 
land was in readiness. Their union with Bothwell, 
by which they had greatly exasperated the king, was 
also condemned by the pope ; and no hope of further 
treasure held out till they had vindicated themselves 
before the councillors of the King of Spain in the Low 
Countries. On Morton's person was found a small 
jewel or tablet, containing an exquisite representation 
of the Passion of our Lord, carved minutely in ivory ; 
a present, as he said, from Cardinal Cajetano to the 
Scottish queen. This James, taking up, asked him 
to what use he put it. " To remind me," said Morton, 
" when I gaze on it and kiss it, of my Lord's Passion. 
Look, my liege," he continued, "how livelily the 
Saviour is here seen hanging between the two thieves, 
whilst below, the Roman soldier is piercing His sacred 
side with the lance. Ah, that I could prevail on my 
sovereign but once to kiss it before he lays it down ! " 
"No," said James; "the Word of God is enough to 
remind me of the crucifixion ; and besides, this carving 
of yours is so exceeding small, that I could not kiss 

1595. JAMES vi. 167 

Christ without kissing both the thieves and the exe- 
cutioners." * 

The ministers of the Kirk insisted that this un- 
happy person should be subjected to the torture of the 
boots, as the only means of obtaining a full confession ; 
but he was saved from this dreadful suffering by his 
simplicity, and the candour with which he disclosed 
to the king all the objects of his mission. f- 

This last blow fell heavily on the party. It con- 
vinced Huntley and Errol, that for the present their 
cause was desperate, and that to retire into a tempo- 
rary banishment was the only resource which remained. 
It was in vain that Father Gordon, Huntley^s uncle, 
and a devoted Catholic, implored them to remain ; in 
vain that on a solemn occasion, when Mass was said 
for the last time in the cathedral church at Elgin, 
this zealous priest, descending from the high altar and 
mounting the pulpit, exhorted them not to depart, but 
remain in their native country and hazard all for the 
faith. His discourse fell on deaf ears ; and finding 
entreaty fruitless, he resolved to accompany them. 
On the seventeenth of March, Errol embarked at 
Peterhead ; and <on the nineteenth, two days after, 
Huntley, with his uncle and a suite of sixteen persons, 
took ship at Aberdeen for Denmark; intending, as he 
said, to pass through Poland into Italy.]: 

Scarcely had they departed, when intelligence of 
Bothwell reached court. To so miserable a state was 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr John Colvile to S., 25th March, 
1595. Also, ihid., Nicolson to Sir R. Bowes, 25th March, 1595. Also, 
ibid., 5th April, 1595. Abstract of Letters sent to Sir R. Bowes. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 5th April, 1595. Letters from Scot- 
land to Bowes. Also, ibid., Nicolson to Sir R. Bowes, 3d April, 1595. 
Also, ibid.. Mr John Colvile, 1st April, 1595. Also, ibid., 2d April, 1595, 
" Deposition of Mr John Morton, Jesuit." 

MS. State-paper Office, Extracts from Letters from Scotland, by Sir 
R. Bowes, 5th April, 1595. 


he reduced, that he had been seen skulking near Perth 
with only two followers, meanly clad, and in utter 
destitution. He then disappeared, and none could 
tell his fate ; but he reemerged in Orkney, probably, 
like his infamous namesake, intending to turn pirate. 
He had one ship and a fly-boat ; and his desperate 
fortunes were still followed, from attachment or ad- 
venture, by some of his old " Camarados" Colonel 
Boyd, Captain Foster, and a few other gentlemen. 
Apparently he was not successful: for we soon hear 
of him at Paris,* in correspondence with his profligate 
associate Archibald Douglas. 

All apprehensions from Bothwell and the Catholic 
earls being at an end, and the king having most ener- 
getically fulfilled his promises to the Kirk ; Protes- 
tantism being safe and the hopes of Spain destroyed ; 
he had leisure to address himself to a more difficult 
task than his last : to restore something like order, 
justice, and tranquillity to the country. Here all 
was out of joint. The court was divided into factions. 
The queen, of whose religious orthodoxy great doubts 
began now to be entertained, hated Mar, who was still 
intrusted with the person and government of the young 
prince ; a charge which, she insisted, belonged natu- 
rally to her.-f- The king supported Mar against his 
great rival the Chancellor Maitland, a man full of 
talent, of inordinate ambition, and, as we have already 
seen, unscrupulous, intriguing, and familiar with con- 
spiracy and blood. Maitland strengthened himself 
against his enemies by courting the favour of the 
queen, who had at first treated all his advances with 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bothwell to Douglas, J 7th June, 1595. 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, George Nicolson to Sir R. Bowes, 22d 
June, 1595. 

1595. JAMES VI. 1G9 

haughty suspicion; but latterly, dreading his strength 
or conciliated by his proffered devotion, supported his 
faction, which included Buccleuch,Cessford, the Master 
of Glammis, and other powerful barons. The potent 
house of Hamilton affected neutrality ; whilst the min- 
isters of the Kirk also kept themselves aloof, and ex- 
erted their whole energies to procure the absolute ruin 
of Huntley and his exiled associates, by inducing the 
king to forfeit their estates in earnest, and reduce them 
to beggary. This James wisely refused. Enough, he 
thought, had already been done for the safety of the 
Protestant faith ; and to cut up by the roots the 
ancient houses of Angus, Huntley, and Errol ; to 
punish, by utter ruin and extermination, those who 
were already exiles for conscience 1 sake, would have 
been cruel and impolitic. To Bothwell, indeed, who 
had repeatedly conspired against his life, he showed 
no mercy ; and his great estates were divided between 
Hume, Cessford, and Buccleuch.* But the Countesses 
of Huntley and Errol were permitted to remain in 
Scotland, and matters so managed that their unfor- 
tunate lords should not be utterly destitute. The 
principle of James was to balance the different factions 
against each other, keeping all dependent on himself, 
and throwing his weight occasionally into the one or 
the other scale as he judged best. The probable 
restoration, therefore, of such great men as Huutley, 
was a useful threat to hold over the heads of their 
rivals. But with all his policy, the monarch found 
his position dangerous and difficult. The court and 
country were full of inflammable materials ; and in 
such a state of things, events apparently trifling might 
produce a general convulsion. So at least thought 

* MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4738, p. 1184. 


Nicolson, the English resident at Edinburgh, on the 
occurrence of an event which, to feudal ears, sounded 
trifling enough. David Forrester, a retainer of Mar, 
and bailiff of Stirling, when riding from Edinburgh 
to that town, was, on some love-quarrel, waylaid and 
murdered by the Laird of Dunipace, assisted by the 
Bruces and the Livingstones, who belonged to the 
chancellor's faction. Mar instantly accepted this as 
a defiance ; assembled a body of six hundred horse ; 
vowed a deadly revenge ; and interdicting the body 
from being buried, carried it along with him, displaying 
before it, on two spears, a ghastly picture of Forrester, 
all mangled and bleeding as he had died. In this 
way the earl, in his steel jack, and his men armed to 
the teeth, carried his murdered vassal in a bravado 
through the lands of the Livingstones and Bruces, 
which lay near Linlithgow, on the road between Edin- 
burgh and Stirling; dividing his little force into three 
wards, and expecting a ruffle with Buccleuch and 
Cessford, who were reported to be mustering their 
friends. But the peremptory remonstrances of the 
king prevented an immediate collision ; and a " day 
of law," as it was then termed, was appointed for the 
trial of Forrester's slaughter.* 

James" 1 labour to preserve peace was, indeed, inces- 
sant ; and but for his vigour and courage, the various 
factions would have torn the country in pieces. The 
chancellor had now gained to his side the powerful 
assistance of the house of Hamilton ; so that his 
strength was almost irresistible. With his strength, 
however, increased the odium and unpopularity of his 
measures. It was now well known that he had been 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 12th July, 1505. 
Also, ibid., same to same, 24th June, 1595. 

1595. JAMES VI. 171 

the chief assistant of Huntley in the murder of Moray. 
He was branded as a hypocrite : all smiles and pro- 
fessions upon the seat of justice, but deep, bloody, 
and unscrupulous when off it ; expressing great love 
to the Kirk and the ministers, yet careless of practical 
religion ; humble and devoted, as he said, to his sove- 
reign, yet really so haughty, that he did not hesitate 
to measure his strength with the highest nobles in the 
land. It was this which provoked Mar, Argyle, and 
the rest of the ancient earls. 

On one occasion James, observing Maitland's de- 
fiance, took him roundly to task ; reminding him that 
he was but his creature, a man of yesterday, a cadet 
of a mean house compared with Mar, who had a dozen 
vassals for his one ; * and that it ill became him to 
enter into proud speeches, or compare himself with 
the old nobles, and raise factions with Glamrnis and 
the queen against the master to whom he owed all. 
Pasquils, too, and biting epigrams, prognosticating 
some fatal end, were found pinned to his seat in the 
court. -|* But Maitland was naturally courageous, and 
believed himself powerful enough to keep head against 
the worst. Hamilton, Hume, Fleming, Livingstone, 
Buccleuch, Cessford, with the Master of Glammis, 
had now joined him against Mar ; and the queen, 
finding herself thus supported, renewed her efforts to 
obtain possession of the young prince. The king was 
inexorable. He had been heard to swear that, were 
he on his death-bed and speechless, his last sign should 
be, that Mar should have the boy ; and the queen, in 
despair, took to bed and pretended a mortal sickness. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr John Colvile to Sir R. Cecil, 2d 
August, 1595. 
t MS. State-paper Office, Advices from Edinburgh, 20th March, 1594-5. 


James shut his ears when the news was brought him. 
and declared it all a trick. At last the lady, between 
anger and the agitation incident to her situation, for 
she was about to be confined, fell truly sick. The 
Mistress of Ochiltree, and a jury of matrons, sat upon 
her malady, and pronounced it no counterfeit; and 
James, in real alarm, hurried from Falkland. To his 
disgust and anger, it was told him that Buccleuch 
and Cessford, the two men whom he then most dreaded, 
were with her ; but they did not dare abide his coming : 
and a reconciliation, half stormy, half affectionate, took 
place. She renewed her clamour for the keeping of 
the prince : he upbraided her for leaguing with such 
desperate men as Buccleuch and Cessford, who, in 
truth, at that moment were plotting to restrain his 
person, seize the heir of the throne, and arraign his 
governor, one of the most faithful of his nobles, of high 

O ' ' O 

treason. To humour her would have been the ex- 
tremity of weakness, and only playing his enemies 1 
game, who, he said, should find that, though he loved 
her, he could keep his purpose and be master in his own 
kingdom.* This resolute temper saved the monarch. 
The chancellor controlled Buccleuch, who alleged that 
they were throwing away their best opportunity: now 
they could seize the king ; next day they themselves 
might be in fetters. All was ready : the king, the 
prince, the government, by one bold stroke might 
be their own. But Maitland's heart failed, or his 
loyalty revived. He forbade the enterprise. James 
rode back to Falkland ; and when he next visited 
Edinburgh, his strength was such that he could defy 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 26th July, 159.5. 
See, also, ibid., same to same, 24th July, 1595. Also, Mr John Colvile to 
Sir R. Cecil, 2d August, 1595. Also, ibid., Nicolson to Bowes, 4th August, 

1595. JAMLS VI. 173 

his enemies.* The ministers of the Kirk, scandalized 
by the divisions in the royal family, now remonstrated 
with the queen, awakened her to a higher sense of her 
conjugal duties, and convinced her, that to renounce 
all factions, and follow the commands of her royal 
husband, was her only safe and Christian course. *f A 
letter, written at this time by Nicolson, the English 
envoy at the Scottish court, to Sir Robert Bowes, who, 
at his own earnest request, had been suffered to resign 
his place as resident ambassador, gives us an interest- 
ing account of this reconciliation and its effects : 

" The king and queen are lovingly together now at 
Falkland : the king to go to Stirling to-morrow, and 
so to his buck-hunting in Lennox and Clydesdale; 
and after to return to the queen to St Johnston's, 
there to receive the communion together. The queen 
first goeth to Sir R. MelviFs house, the Earl of Bothes', 
and other places, before she goes to St Johnston's. 
My Lord of Mar and she have spoken, by the king's 
means. At the first she was very sharp with Mar, 
but in the end gave him good countenance. Mr 
Patrick Galloway, in his sermon, was occasioned to 
teach of the duties of man and wife each to the other; 
and spoke so persuasively for the keeping their duties 
therein, as the queen thereon spake and conferred with 
him, and gave good ear to his advices, and promiseth 
to follow the same ; and hath said that she will have 
him with her. 

" The king caused Mr David Lindsay to travel with 
the queen, to see what he could try out of them ; 
whereupon Mr David and the queen had long confer- 
ence. And in the end, the queen said, ' Let the king 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 27th May, 1595. 
t MS. State-paper Office, Colvile, 18th Aug., 1595. Same, '20th August. 


be plain with the queen, and the queen should be plain 
with the king ;' which Mr David showed to the king, 
causing him to receive the same even then out of the 


queen's own mouth ; whereupon there was good and 
kind countenance and behaviour between them : both 
of them agreeing to satisfy each other ; as Mr David 
looketh that, ere this, the king knoweth who hath 
persuaded the queen to these former courses ; and the 
queen who hath moved the king to this strangeness 
with the queen ; and that some will be found to have 
dealt doubly and dangerously with them both. The 
king intendeth, by little and little, to draw the queen 
to where Mar is, and there to stay her from these 
parts, and the company of Buccleuch, Cessford, and 
the rest. Mr David holdeth the chancellor to be very 
honest between both parties, and to be for the king ; 
but whatsoever he doeth, it is with consent and leave 
of the Master of Glammis, Buccleuch, and Cessford ; 
who, if the chancellor should do otherwise, and they 
know of it, would be the chancellor's greatest enemies, 
and most dangerous. * * The Lord Hume hath 
promised to follow the king, and is presently with him : 
so as it is held that the queen's faction is breaking. 
Always some think, that as the king intends by policy 
to win the queen, so the queen intends to win the 
king for the advantage of that side ; and I pray God 
that this prove not too true, that in these fair flowers 
there prove not yet sharp pricks. As to the slaughter 
of David Forster, my Lord of Mar, I think, shall 
give assurance, and keep on fair terms with such of 
the Livingstones and Bruces as were not executioners 
of David's murder ; which executioners, for this cause, 
are to be banished the country by their own friends." * 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Sir R. Bowes, Aug. 15., 1 595. 

1595. JAMES VI. 175 

While the Court of Holyrood was occupied in gos- 
siping upon such scenes of domestic intrigue and 
conjugal reconciliation, the Queen of England began 
bitterly to repent her neglect of Scotland, and to look 
with alarm to a storm which threatened her on the 
side of the Isles. She was now trembling for her 
empire in Ireland, where Tyrone had risen in formid- 
able force, and, assisted with Roman gold and Spanish 
promises, threatened to wrest from her hands the 
fairest provinces of the kingdom. In these circum- 
stances, both Elizabeth and the Irish prince looked for 
assistance and recruits to the Scottish Isles. These 
nurseries of brave soldiers and hardy seamen were now 
able to furnish a formidable force : a circumstance not 
unknown to the English queen, as her indefatigable 
minister Burghley, whose diplomatic feelers were as 
long as they were acute and sensitive, kept up a com- 
munication with the Isles. From a paper written in 
the end of the year 1593, by one of his northern cor- 
respondents,* it appears that the Isles could, on any 
emergency, fit out a force of six thousand hardy troops, 
inured to danger both by sea and land, and equipt for 
war on either element. Of these, two thousand wore 
defensive armour, actons, habergeons, and knapsculls;^ 
the rest were bowmen or pikemen ; but many, adds 
the Island statist, had now become harquebuseers. 
This force, it is to be observed, was independent of 
those left at home to labour the ground ; the whole 
of the Isles being different from the rest of feudal 
Scotland in one essential respect, " that they who 

* MS. State-paper Office, December, 1593. Note of the West Isles of 
Scotland, for the Lord Treasurer. 

t Acton, a quilted leathern jacket, worn under the armour ; habergeon, 
a breast-plate of mail ; knapscull, a steel cap or helmet. 


occupied the ground, were not charged to the wars." * 
Of this western archipelago, the principal islands 
were Lewis and Skye, lying to the north, Islay and 
Mull to the south ; and amongst the chief leaders who 
assumed the state and independence of little princes, 
were the Earl of Argyle, Lauchlan Maclean of Duart, 
Angus Macdonald of Dunyveg, Donald Gorm Mac- 
donald o^Sleat, and Roderick Macleod of Harris, 
known in traditionary song as Ruari Mor.-f- Of these 
chiefs, the Lord of Duart, commonly called Lauchlan 
Mor, was by far the most talented and conspicuous ; 
and, as Elizabeth well knew, had the power of bridling 
or letting loose that formidable body of troops which 
Donald Gorm and Ruari Mor were now collecting to 
assist her enemies in Ireland. Lauchlan Mor was, in 
all respects, a remarkable person ; by no means illiter- 
ate, for he had received his nurture in the low country, 
and had married a daughter of the Earl of Glencairn. 
But in war and personal prowess he had then no equal : 
an island Amadis of colossal strength and stature ; 
and possessing, by the vigour of his natural talents, a 
commanding influence over the rude and fierce isles- 
men. It is curious to trace Elizabeth^ connexion with 
this man. The Lord of Duart's confidential servant 
happened to be a certain shrewd Celt, named John 
Achinross ; he, in turn, was connected by marriage 
with Master John Cunningham, a worthy citizen and 
merchant in Edinburgh. This honest bailie of the 
capital, forming the link between savage and civilized 
life, corresponded with Sir Robert Bowes ; Bowes 
with Burghley or Sir Robert Cecil ; and thus Eliza- 

* MS. State-paper Office, December, 1593. Note of the West Isles of 
Scotland, for the Lord Treasurer. 

t Gregory's History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland, 
p. 2(71. 

1595. JAMES vi. 177 

beth, sitting in her closet at Windsor or Greenwich, 
moved the strings which could assemble or disperse 
the chivalry of the Isles. This is no ideal picture, 
for the letters of the actors remain. As early as 
March, 1594-5, Achiuross informed Bowes that Mac- 
lean and Argyle were ready, not only to stay the 
Clandonnell, who, under Donald Gorm, were then 
mustering to assist Tyrone ; but that Maclean him- 
self would join the English army in Ireland, if Eliza- 
beth would despatch three or four ships to keep his 
galleys whilst they attacked the enemy.* As the 
summer came on, and the fleet of Donald and his 
associates waited only for a fair wind, Cunningham 
hurried to the Isles, had a conference with Maclean, 
and thence rode post to London, where, in an inter- 
view with Sir Robert Cecil, he urged the necessity of 
instant action and assistance.^ The bridle which the 
Laird of Duart held over the Islesmen was simple 
enough ; being a garrison of six hundred mercenaries, 
well armed, and ready to be led by him, on a moment's 
warning, against any island chief who embarked in 
foreign service, and left his lands undefended at home. J 
The support of this force, however, required funds : 
Elizabeth demurred ; Maclean was obliged to disband 
his men ; and the most part of the fleet weighed an- 
chor, and bore away for Ireland. It consisted of a 
hundred sail, of which fifty were galleys, the rest 
smaller craft ; and the number of soldiers and mari- 

* MS. State-paper Office, 25th March, 1595, Contents of John Achin- 
ross' letter to Robert Bowes. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, John Cunningham to Sir R. Bowes, 
25th June, 1595. Also, Maclean of Duart to Sir R. Cecil, 4th July, 1595. 
Also, same to Sir R. Bowes, 4th July, 1595. Also, ibid., Nicolson to Bowes, 
5th July, 1595. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, John Achinross to George Nicolson, 
2d July, 1595. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 26th July, 1595. 



ners was estimated at about five thousand.* Nine 
hundred men, however, under the Captain of the Clan 
Ranald,-}- still remained; and as they passed Mull had 
the temerity to land for the night ; running their 
" galleys, boats, and birlings," into a little harbour, 
where they imagined themselves secure. But Mac- 
lean, by what Achinross termed " a bauld onset and 
prattie feit of weir," took the whole company prisoners, 
threw the chiefs into irons, sent them to his dungeons 
in his different castles, appropriated their galleys, and 
transported the common men to the mainland. | 
Amongst the chief prisoners then taken, were the Cap- 
tain of Clanranald and three of his uncles, the Laird 
of Knoydart, M'lan of Ardnamurchan, Donald Gorm's 
brother, and others ; and an account of the surprise 
was immediately transmitted by John Achinross to 
Nicolson, the English envoy at the court of James. 
We can pardon the enthusiasm and abominable or- 
thoepy of this devoted Highland servant when he 
exclaims : " My maister is acquentit with thir prattie 
onsettis, without respect to number findand vantage : 
for divers tymis he plaid this dance heir aganis his 
enemies. I assuir you, thir men that ar tane and in 
captivity, ar the maist douttit and abil men in the His. 
Lat your guid maister and Sir Robert comfort thame 
with this gude luke, done be ane vailyeant man of weir, 
and ane man of honor, in beginning of her majestie's 

Elizabeth was delighted with this exploit of Lauch- 
lan Mor, assured him of her gratitude and friendship, 
and sent a more substantial proof than words, in a 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Mr George Areskine to Nicolson, Den- 
con, 31st July, 1595. { Ibid., same to same. 
J MS, Letter, State-paper Office, Achinross to Nicolson, 31st July, 1595. 
Ibid., same to same. 

1595. JAMES VL 179 

present of a thousand crowns : an " honourable token 
of her favour,*'' as he called it in a letter to Cecil, in 
which he promised all duty and service to the queen. 
She wrote, at the same time, to the Earl of Argyle,* 
flattered him by some rich token of her regard, and 
ordered Nicolson, her resident at the Scottish court, 
to deliver it and her letter to him in person, at Dun- 
oon in Argyle. All this was successfully accomplish- 
ed : and so cordially did Maclean and Argyle cooper- 
ate, sowing distrust and division amongst the chiefs 
and leaders who had followed the banner of Donald 
Gorm and Macleod, that their formidable force only 
made the coast of Ireland to meet the English ships, 
which were on the watch for them, enter into a friendly 
treaty, and disperse to their different ocean nests, 
before a single effort of any moment had been made. 
This sudden arrival, and as sudden disappearance 
of the fleet of the Islesmen, appears to have puzzled 
the chroniclers of the times, and even their more acute 
modern successor. A black cloud had been seen to 
gather over Ireland ; and men waited in stillness for 
the growl of the thunder and the sweep of the tempest, 
when it melted into air, and all was once more tran- 
quillity. This seemed unaccountable, almost miracu- 
lous ; but the letters of honest John Cunningham, 
and his Celtic relative Achinross, whose epistles 
smack so strongly of his Gaelic original, introduce us 
behind the scenes, and discover Lauchlan Mor as the 
secret agent, the Celtic Prospero, whose wand dis- 
persed the galleys, and restored serenity to the ocean. 
The reader may be pleased with an extract from a let- 
ter of this brave Lord of Duart to Sir R. Bowes, al- 
though his style is a little ponderous, and by no means 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, Jst August, 1595. 


so polished as the Danish steel axe, with which it was 
his delight to hew down his enemies : he is alluding 

O O 

to the future plan of the campaign intended by Tyrone 
and O'Donnell against Elizabeth, and the best way to 
defeat it. 

" The earl is to pursue you on one side, and O'Don- 
nell is to pursue your lands presently on the other 
side. They think to harm you meikle by this way. 
If my opinion were followed out, the earl and O'Don- 
nell shall be pursued on both the sides : to wit, by 
your force of Ireland on the one side, and by the Earl 
of Argyle's force and mine, with my own presence, on 
this side. To the which, I would that you moved the 
Earl of Argyle to furnish two thousand men : myself 
shall furnish other two thousand ; and I would have 
six or eight hundred of your spearmen, with their 
buttis, [sic] and four hundred pikemen. If I were once 
landed in Ireland with this company, having three or 
four ships to keep our galleys, I hope in God the 
earl should lose that name ere our return. * 
In my name your lordship shall have my duty of 
humble service remembered to her majesty, and com- 
mendations to good Sir Robert Cecil, with whom I 
think to be acquainted. Your lordship will do me a 
great pleasure if you will let me know of anything in 
Scotland that may pleasure Sir Robert. I am so 
hamely* with your lordship, that without you let me 
know hereof, I will think that your lordship does dis- 
simull with me. I am here, in Argyle, at pastime 
and hunting with the earl my cousin. I have respect 
to other kind of hunting nor this hunting of deer. I 
am hamely with your lordship, as ye may perceive. 

* Hamely ; familiar. 

1595. JAMES VI. 181 

At meeting, (for the which I think long, ) God willing, 
we shall renew our acquaintance." * 

From this island episode we must turn to a different 
scene, the deathbed of a great minister. The Chan- 
cellor Maitland lord Thirlstaue, had now, for some 
years, ruled the court and the country with a firm, 
unchallenged, and, as many thought, a haughty supe- 
riority. He had given mortal offence to the queen ; 
had provoked the hostility of the highest nobles of the 
land; and, it was whispered, was more feared than 
loved by his royal master. But he had kept his 
ground, partly by superiority in practical business 
talents to all his competitors ; partly by that deep 
political sagacity and foresight which made Burghley 
pronounce him the " wisest man in Scotland ; " and 
not least of all, by that high personal courage and 
somewhat unscrupulous familiarity with conspiracy, 
and even with blood, which blotted most men of this 
semi-barbarous age. He had, besides, been a pretty 
consistent Protestant ; and although in earlier years 
he had attacked some of Knox^s political dicta, yet 
recently, the strong and decided part he had adopted 
against Huntley and the Catholic earls made him a 
favourite with the ministers of the Kirk. So resist- 
less had he now become, that the queen and her friends 
had renounced all opposition, and joined his faction 
against Mar the governor of the prince, the favourite 
of his royal master, and one of the oldest and most 
powerful of the higher nobles. -f- In this his palmy 
state, when plotting new schemes of ambition, and 
inflaming the king against the queen ; meeting Cess- 
ford and Buccleuch, and his other associates, in night 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Lauchlan Maclean of Duart to Sir R. 
Bowes, Garvie in Argyle, 22d August, 1595. 
f MS. State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 1st September, 1595. 


trysts ; marshalling secretly his whole strength, and 
laying a " platt," as it was then called, or conspiracy 
against Mar, by which he hoped to hurl him from his 
height of power, and rule unchecked over his sove- 
reign ; he was suddenly seized with a mortal distem- 
per.* At first he struggled fiercely against it, tried 
to throw it off, rode restlessly from place to place, and 
appeared so active that it was currently said the sick- 
ness was only one of his old pretences. But at last 
the malady mastered him, threw him on his couch, 
and compelled him, in fear and remorse, to send for 
the ministers of the Kirk, and implore a visit from 
the king. James resisted repeated messages : it was 
even said he had whispered in a courtier's ear, that it 
would be a small matter if the chancellor were hanged : 
and when Robert Bruce, one of the leading ministers, 
rode at four in the morning to Thirlstane, he found 
the dying statesman full of penitence for neglected 
opportunities, imploring the prayers of the Kirk, and 
promising to make many discoveries of strange matters 
if God granted him time for amendment and reforma- 
tion.^ What appeared to weigh heaviest on his con- 
science was the part he had acted in sowing dissen- 
sion between the king and queen ; and he seemed 
much shaken by fears that many dark dealings would 
come out on this subject. He expressed sorrow, also, 
for his " partial information against John Knox and 
other good men ;" and when asked what advice he 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Colvile to Cecil, 10th September, 1595. 
Ibid., Nicolson to Bowes, 19th September, 1595. Ibid., Nicolson to Bowes, 
22d September, 1595. 

t MS. State-paper Office, 10th September, 1595, Advertisements from 
Scotland. Ibid., Nicolson to Bowes, 22d September, 1595. Ibid., same 
to same, 24th September. Ibid., same to same, 3d October, 1595. " He 
[the chancellor] is sore troubled in conscience, and with fear that his deal- 
ings between the king and queen should come out." 

1595. JAMES V7. 183 

\vould leave to the king for the management of his 
estate, shook his head, observing, " it was too late 
speerd" * as his thoughts were on another world. 
Even his enemies, who had quoted against him the 
Italian adage, " II periculo passato, il santo gabato" 
rejoiced at last to find that the sickness was no coun- 
terfeit ; and were little able to restrain their satisfac- 
tion when news arrived at court that the chancellor 
was no more. He died at Thirlstane on the night of 
the third October ; and John Col vile, his bitter enemy, 
exultingly wrote to England that his faction or party 
were headless, and must fall to pieces : whilst his 
royal master publicly lamented and secretly rejoiced ; 
inditing to his memory a high poetical panegyric in 
the shape of an epitaph, and observing, that he would 
weel ken who next should have the Seals, and was re- 
solved no more to use great men or chancellors in his 
affairs, but such as he could correct and were hang- 

All things, however, were thrown loose and into 
confusion by his death. The Borders, which had been 
for some time in disorder, became the daily scenes of 
havoc, theft, and murder ; torn with feuds between 
the Maxwells and the Douglases ; ravaged by in- 
vasions of the English : J and so reckless of all restraint, 
that the personal presence of the king was loudly called 
for. At court the competitors for the chancellor's 
place were busy, bitter, and clamorous ; in the Kirk 
the ministers gave warning that the Catholic earls, 
now in banishment, had been plotting their return, 
and that the Spaniards were on the eve of invading 

* Speer'd ; asked. The question was asked too late, 
t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 8th Oct., 159d, Nicolson to Bowes. 
Ibid., same to same, llth Jan., 1595. 
MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 20th Oct., 1595. 


England and Scotland with a mighty force.* It was 
absolutely necessary, they said, that the Kirk should 
have authority to convene the people in arms, to resist 
the threatened danger ; and that an ambassador should 
be sent to England to arrange some plan of common 
defence.^ James at once consented to the first pro- 
posal, and gave immediate directions for the defence 
of the country ; but he refused to send an ambassador 
to Elizabeth, who had rejected his suits and broken 
her promises, although he had preferred her friendship 
and alliance to that of any other prince in Europe. 
He was, at this moment, he said, ready to act as her 
Lieutenant against the Spaniards, and perish with Eng- 
land in defence of the true religion. J Yet still she 
withheld her supplies, and treated him with suspicion, 
notwithstanding the proofs he was daily giving of his 
sincerity in religion, and although she knew him to be 
drowned in debt. For this last assertion, the dreadful 
embarrassment of his finances, there was too good 
ground ; and it had been long apparent that, unless 
some thorough reform took place, matters must come 
to an extremity. The office of treasurer was held by 
the Master of Glammis, a man of great power, and 
one of the chief friends of the late chancellor. Sir 
Robert Melvil was his depute ; Seton laird of Parbreath, 
filled the office of comptroller ; and Douglas, the Pro- 
vost of Glenclouden, that of collector. All of them 
had been protected by Thirlstane during his supremacy 
in the council ; and, it was suspected by the king, had 
fattened at the royal expense. This idea was encou- 
raged by the queen, who now lived on the most loving 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 27th Nov., 1595. 
f MS. State-paper Office, Advertisements from Edinburgh, 6th Decem- 
ber, 1595. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Bowes, 27th Nov., 1595. 

1595-6. JAMES VI. 185 

terms with her lord, and omitted no opportunity to 
point out the rapid diminution of the crown revenues, 
and the contrast between her own command of money, 
out of so small a dowry as she enjoyed, and the reduced 
and beggarly condition of the household and palaces 
of her royal consort. On New Year's Day, coming 
playfully to the king, she shook a purse full of gold 
in his face, and bade him accept it as her gift. He 
asked where she got it. " From my councillors," she 
replied, "who have but now given me a thousand pieces 
in a purse : when will yours do the like?" " Never," 
said the king ; and calling instantly for his collector 
and comptroller, he dismissed them on the spot, and 
chose the queen's councillors as his financial advisers. 
These were Seton lord Urquhart, President of the 
Session; Mr John Lindsay, Mr John Elphinstone, and 
Mr Thomas Hamilton ; to whom James committed 
the entire management of his revenues and household. 
It was soon found that the charge would be too labo- 
rious for so small a number, and four others were 
added : the Prior of Blantyre, Skene the Clerk-register, 
Sir David Carnegie, and Mr Peter Young, Master- 
almoner. These new officers sat daily in the Upper 
Tolbooth, and from their number were called Octavians. 
They acted without salary ; held their commissions 
under the king's hand alone ; and by the vigour, good 
sense, and orderly arrangements which they adopted, 
promised a speedy and thorough reformation of all 
financial abuses.* 

Elizabeth now deemed it necessary to send Sir 
Robert Bowes once more as her ambassador to Scot- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to B<wes, /th Jan., 1595-6. 
John Colvile, Advertisements from Scotland ; from 7th December to 1st 
January, 1595-6. 


land. He had been recalled from that court, or rather 
suffered, at his own earnest entreaty, to return to 
England, as far back as October 1594;* and since 

O 7 

that time to the present, (January 1595-6,) the corre- 
spondence with England, and the political interests of 
that kingdom, had been intrusted to Mr George Nicol- 
son, who had long acted as Bowes 1 secretary ; and who, 
from the time that this minister left Edinburgh till 
his return to the Scottish court, kept up an almost 
daily correspondence with him. Elizabeth instructed 
Bowes to assure James of her unalterable friendship, 
but of the impossibility of advancing a single shilling, 
drained as she was by her assistance to France, with- 
out which Henry must have lost his throne ; her war 
in Ireland ; and her preparations against Spain, which, 
at that instant, had fitted out a more mighty armament 
against her than the Armada of 1588. The ambassador 
was intrusted not only with a letter from the English 
queen to James, but with a letter and message to 
Queen Anne, whom he was to greet with every expres- 
sion of friendship, and to reproach mildly for her re- 
serve in not communicating to Elizabeth the secret 
history of the late quarrels between her and her royal 
husband, regarding the government and keeping of 
the young prince. He was also to touch on a still more 
delicate subject the reports which had reached the 
court of England of her change of religion ; and to warn 
her that, although his mistress utterly disbelieved 
such a slander, she could not be too much on her guard 
against the crafty men who were in communication 
with the pope, and eager to seduce her to their errors. { 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 19th October, 1594. 
f- MS. State-paper Office, Answers to Mr Bowes' articles, 14th January, 
1595-6. Wholly in Lord Burghley's hand. 

1595-6. JAMES VI. 187 

Bowes' reception by James was gracious and cordial. 
The king declared his satisfaction in hearing that his 
good sister was so well prepared against the meditated 
invasion of the Spaniard, and his own readiness to 
hazard all life, crown, and kingdom, in her defence 
and his own ; but he reminded Bowes of Lord Zouch's 
arguments and unfulfilled promises ; and whilst he 
spoke feelingly of his pecuniary embarrassments, and 
the impossibility of raising soldiers without funds, he 
hinted significantly, that the pope and the Catholic 
earls threw about their gold pieces with an open hand ; 
and did not conceal that large offers had been made 
to draw him to the side of Spain, although he had no 
mind to be so " limed. 11 He then mentioned his in- 
tention of sending his servant, Mr David Foulis, to 
communicate to Elizabeth the confessions of certain 
priests whom he had lately seized, and other discoveries 
with, which she ought to be acquainted ; and alluding 
to Doleman's book on the Succession to the English 
Crown, which had been recently published, observed, 
that he took it to be the work of some crafty politician 
in England, drawn up with affected modesty and im- 
partiality, but real malice against every title except 
that of the King of Spain and his daughter. Bowes 
assured the king that this famous work, which made 
so much noise at the time, was written not in England 
but in Spain, by Persons, an English Jesuit and 
traitor ; but James retained his scepticism.* 

The ambassador next sought the queen, and was 
soon on very intimate and confidential terms with this 
princess, who expressed herself highly gratified by 
Elizabeth's letter. Nothing, she said, could give her 
greater delight than to receive such assurances of 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Lord Burghley, Feb. 24, 1595-6. 


kindness and affection ; and she would readily follow 
her advice, as of one whom she most honoured, loved, 
and trusted ; but as to the delicate subject of the late 
differences between her and the king, and her wish to 
get the prince into her hands, the matter had been so 
sudden, and full of peril, that she dared not send either 
letter or message to the Queen of England. She 
then threw the blame of the whole on the late chancel- 
lor ; who had acted, she said, with great baseness, 
both towards herself and the king. It was he had 
first moved her to get the prince out of Mar's hands ; 
it was he who animated the king against her, per- 
suading him that such removal would endanger his 
crown and person : " and yet," said she, addressing 
Bowes with great animation and some bitterness, " it 
was this same man who dealt so betwixt the king and 
myself, and with the persons interested therein, that 
the surprise of the body of the king was plotted, and 
would have taken place at his coming to Edinburgh ; 
but I discovered the conspiracy, and warned and stayed 
him. Had he come, he must have been made captive, 
and would have remained in captivity." "These 
secrets," said Bowes, in his letter to Elizabeth, " she 
desired to be commended by my letters to your ma- 
jesty's only hands, view, and secrecy ; and that none 
other should know the same." As to her reported 
change of religion, the queen frankly admitted that 
attempts had been made for her conversion to Rome ; 
but all had now passed and failed. She remained a 
Protestant ; and would rather not reveal the names 
of the practisers. If they again assaulted her religion, 
Elizabeth should know who they were, and how she 
had answered them.* 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to the Queen, Feb. 24, 1595-6. 

1595-6.. JAMES VI. 189 

The continuance of the rebellion in Ireland, and 
the intrigues of Tyrone with the Western Isles, had 
greatly annoyed Elizabeth : and Bowes was ordered 
to communicate with the king, and with Maclean of 
Duart, on the subject. He found that James had 
resolved to adopt speedily some decided measures to 
bring the Isles into order ; and hoped to succeed by 
employing, in this service, the Earl of Argyle, Mac- 
lean and Mackenzie, to whose sister Maclean had 
lately married his eldest son. The ambassador had 
been, as usual, tutored to spare his mistress' purse, 
whilst he sounded Maclean's " mind, power, and re- 
solution ;"* and exerted himself to the utmost to drive 
a hard bargain. He was alarmed, too, with the din 
of warlike preparations then sounding through the 
Western archipelago : Donald Gorm was mustering his 
men, and repairing his galleys ; Macleod of Harris 
had lately landed from Ireland, and was ready to re- 
turn with fresh power ; and Angus Maconnel, another 
potent chief, was assembling his galleys and soldiers. *f* 
Maclean himself was in Tiree, then reckoned ten days 1 
journey from Edinburgh ; and Argyle, so intent in 
investigating the murder of Campbell of Calder, now 
traced to Campbell of Ardkinglas, that Bowes could 
have no immediate transactions with either. He set, 
however, Cunningham and Achinross, his former 
agents, to work ; and when these active emissaries got 
amongst the Highlanders, the storm of letters, memo- 
rials, contracts, queries, answers, and estimates, soon 
poured down on the unhappy head of Bowes ; who 

* MS. Letter. State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil. 24th February, 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 6th March, 
1595-6. Memorial to John Cunningham, 22d Feb., 1595-6. Answers by 
Maclean to the Questions proposed by Sir R. Bowes, 30th March, 1596. 


implored Cecil, but with small success, to send him 
instructions, and some portion of treasure, to satisfy 
Elizabeth's Celtic auxiliaries, who clamoured for gold. 
Maclean was perfectly ready, as before, to attack 
Tyrone; and confident that the plan of the campaign, 
which he had already communicated, if carried into 
vigorous effect, would reduce the great rebel. But he 
made it imperative on the queen to furnish two thou- 
sand soldiers, and advance a month's pay to his men. 
He himself, he said, had neither spared "gear nor 
pains in the service; and yet her majesty's long 
promised present of a thousand crowns had not yet 
arrived."* These remonstrances produced the effect 
desired. Elizabeth was shamed into some settlement 
of her promises ; and Maclean, with his island chivalry, 
declared himself ready to obey her majesty's orders 
with all promptitude and fidelity. -f" 

The ambassador speedily discovered that the eighteen 
months during which he had been absent, had added 
both energy and wisdom to James' character. It 
was evident there was more than empty compliment 
in Nicolson's observation that, in severity, he began 
to rule like a king. There was still, indeed, about 
him much that was frivolous, undignified, and capri- 
cious ; much favouritism, much extravagance, an 
extraordinary love of his pleasures ; and a passion for 
display in oratory, poetry, theology, and scholastic 
disputation, which was frequently ridiculous ; but 
with all this, he was dreaded by his nobles, and com- 
pelled respect and obedience. As Elizabeth advanced 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 24th Feb., 1595-6. Ibid., Bowes to 
Sir R. Cecil, 6th March, 1595-6. Ibid., Bowes to Cecil, 16tli March, 
1595-6. Ibid., Maclean to Bowes, Coll, 18th March, 1595-6. Ibid., Mac- 
lean's Answers to Bowes, 30th March, 1596. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 7th April, 1596. 

1596. JAMES VI. 191 

to old age, his eye became steadily fixed on the Eng- 
lish crown, which he considered his undoubted right ; 
and the one great engrossing object of his policy was 
to secure it. His fairest chance, he thought, to gain 
the respect and good wishes of the English people, 
when death took from them their own great princess, 
was to show that he knew how to rule over his own 
unruly subjects. Hence his vigorous determination 
to restrain, by every possible means, the power of the 
greater nobility ; to recruit his exhausted finances ; 
to reduce the Isles, and consolidate his kingdom ; and 
to bridle the claims of the Kirk, in all matters of civil 
government, or interference with the royal prerogative : 
whilst he warmly seconded their efforts for the preser- 
vation of the Reformed religion, and resistance to the 
efforts of its enemies. 

Not long after Bowes 1 arrival, the convention of the 
General Assembly met in Edinburgh ; and the king, 
then absent on a hunting expedition, broke off his 
sport, and returned to Holyrood, that he might 
" honour the Kirk (as Bowes observed) with his 
presence and his oration." The moderator, Mr 
Robert Pont, warmly welcomed the royal party ; 
which embraced the Duke of Lennox, Lord Hamilton, 
the Earls of Argyle, Mar, and Orkney : and address- 
ing the king, thanked him in name of the Assembly 
for his presence ; reminding him of the honour 
obtained by Constantino, in favouring the ancient 
fathers of the Church ; and by David, in dancing 
before the ark. In reply, James professed his zeal for 
religion since his youth up. He had ever esteemed 
it, as he declared, more glory to be a Christian than a 
king, whatever slanders to the contrary were spoken 
against him. It was this zeal which moved him to 


convene the present Assembly : for being aware of the 
designs of Spain, their great enemy, against religion 
and this isle, he was anxious to meet, not only the 
ministry, but the barons and gentlemen ; to receive 
their advice, and resolve on measures to resist the 
common enemy. Two points he would press on 
them ; reformation and preparation ; the reformation 
of themselves, clergy, people, and king. For his own 
part, he never refused admonition ; he was ever 
anxious to be told his faults ; and his chamber door 
should never be closed to any minister who reproved 
him. All he begged was, that they would first speak 
privately before they arraigned him in open pulpit. 
He hated the common vice of ambition ; but of one 
thing he was really ambitious to have the name of 
James the Sixth honoured, as the establisher of reli- 
gion, and the provider of livings for the ministry 
throughout his whole dominions. And now, as to his 
second point, preparation against the common enemy, 
one thing was clear: they must have paid troops. 
The country must be put to charges. The times were 
changed since their forefathers followed each his lord 
or his laird to Pinkie field ; a confused multitude, in- 
capable of discipline, and an easy prey to regular 
soldiers, as the event of that miserable day could 
testify. Of how many great names had it been the 
wreck and ruin ! Since then the fashion and art of 
war had entirely altered ; and he protested it was a 
shame that Scotland should be lying in careless secu- 
rity, whilst all other countries were up and in arms.* 
v This speech gave great satisfaction to the ministers; 

* MS. State-paper Office, 25th March, 1596, The King of Scots' Speech 
at the Assembly of the Ministry. Ibid., Bowes to Lord Burghlev, 2Gth 
March, 1596. 

1596. JAMES VI. 193 

and their joy was increased by a message brought to 
them soon after by Mr John Preston and Mr Edward 
Bruce, intimating the king's resolution to have the 
whole Kirks in Scotland supplied with ministers, and 
endowed with sufficient stipends. He requested the 
Kirk to cause their commissioners to meet with those 
councillors and officers whom he had appointed for this 
purpose, and to fix upon some plan for carrying his 
resolution into effect. But he commanded his com- 
missioners to represent to the ministers of the Kirk 
how much this good work was hindered by themselves. 
Why did they teach the people that the king and his 
councillors resisted the planting of kirks, and swal- 
lowed up the livings of the clergy, when they were 
truly most willing that the whole kirks should be 
planted, and the rents of the ministers augmented, as 
far as could be obtained with consent of the nobility 
and the tacksmen of the teinds, whose rights, without 
order of law, could not be impaired ?* 

The Assembly received such propositions with the 
utmost satisfaction ; and whilst they protested their 
ignorance that any of their number had given, in their 
discourses, any just cause of offence, it would be their 
care, (they said,) in future, so wisely to handle their 
doctrine, that neither king nor council should be dis- 
couraged in the furtherance of their good work. 
Meantime, before they separated, they would- humbly 
beseech his majesty to examine and remove " certain 
griefs which still eat like a canker into the body of 
the Kirk. 1 ' Divers Jesuits and excommunicated 
Papists were entertained within the country, confirm- 

* MS. State-paper Office, Instructions to Mr John Preston and Mr 
Edward Bruce. Answers of the General Assembly to the same, 30th March, 



ing, in error, those already perverted ; endangering 
the unstable, and holding out hopes of the return of 
the Papist earls, with the assistance of strangers. 
The lands of these forfeited traitors were, to the grief 
of all good men, still peaceably enjoyed by them ; their 
confederates and friends suffered to go at large ; whilst 
the laws, not only against such treasons, but on all 
other points, were so partially administered, that a 
flood of crime, murders, oppressions, incests, adulteries, 
and every species of wrong inundated the land, and 
threatened to tear society in pieces.* 

To this remonstrance a favourable answer was re- 
turned; and nothing but fair weather appeared between 
the sovereign and the Kirk. Yet it was whispered 
that, beneath this serenity, James had some perilous 
projects in his head, and meditated a restoration of 
the Catholic earls.*f All, however, was quiet for the 
moment ; and the king was looking anxiously for the 
return of his envoy Foulis, who had been sent to 
Elizabeth, when an event occurred on the Borders 
which threatened to throw everything into confusion. 
Sir Walter Scott of Buccleuch, a baron of proud 
temper, undaunted courage, and considered one of the 
ablest military leaders in Scotland, was at this time 
warden of the West Marches ; having for his brother 
warden of England, Lord Scrope, also a brave and 
experienced officer. Scrope's deputy was a gentleman 
of the name of Salkeld ; Buccleuch's, a baron of his 
own clan, Robert Scott of Haining : and in the ab- 
sence of the principals, it was the duty of these sub- 
ordinate officers to hold the Warden Courts for the 

* MS. State-paper Office, Instructions to Mr John Preston and Mr 
Edward Bruce. Answers of the General Assembly to the same, 30th March, 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 18th May, 1596. 

1596. JAMES vi. 195 

punishment of outlaws and offenders. Such courts 
presented a curious spectacle : for men met in perfect 
peace and security, protected by the law of the Borders, 
which made it death for any Englishman or Scotsman 
to draw weapon upon his greatest foe, from the time 
of holding the court till next morning at sunrise. It 
was judged that, in this interval, all might return 
home ; and it is easy to see that, with such a popula- 
tion as that of the Borders, nothing but the most rigid 
enforcement of this law could save the country from 
perpetual rapine and murder. William Armstrong 
of Kinmont, or in the more graphic and endearing 
phraseology of the Borders, Kinmont Willie, was at 
this time one of the most notorious and gallant thieves 
or freebooters in Liddesdale. He was himself a man of 
great personal strength and stature; and had four sons, 
Jock, Francie, Geordie, and Sandie Armstrong, each of 
them a braver and more successful moss-trooper than 
the other. Their exploits had made them known and 
dreaded over the whole district ; and their father and 
they had more " bills filed " against them at the 
Warden Courts, more personal quarrels and family 
feuds to keep their blood hot and their hands on their 
weapons, than any twenty men in Liddesdale. This 
Willie of Kinmont, who was a retainer of Buccleuch 
and a special favourite of his chief, had been attending 
a Warden Court, held by the English and Scottish 
depute wardens, at a place named the Dayholm of 
Kershope, where a small burn or rivulet divides the 
two countries, and was quietly returning home through 
Liddesdale, with three or four in company, when he 
was suddenly attacked by a body of two hundred 
English Borderers, chased for some miles, captured, 
tied to a horse, and carried in triumph to Carlisle 


castle ; where Lord Scrope the governor and warden 
cast him, heavily ironed, into the common prison. 
Such an outrageous violation of Border law was in- 
stantly complained of by Buccleuch, who wrote re- 
peatedly to Lord Scrope, demanding the release of his 
follower ; and receiving no satisfactory reply, swore 
that he would bring Kinmont Willie out of Carlisle 
castle, quick or dead, with his own hand.* The threat 
was esteemed a mere bravado ; for the castle was 
strongly garrisoned and well fortified, in the middle 
of a populous and hostile city, and under the command 
of Lord Scrope, as brave a soldier as in all England. 
Yet Buccleuch was not intimidated. Choosing a dark 
tempestuous night, (the thirteenth of April,) he assem- 
bled two hundred of his bravest men at the Tower of 
Morton, a fortalice on " the debateable land," on the 
water of Sark, about ten miles from Carlisle. Amongst 
these, the leader whom he most relied on was Wat 
Scott of Harden ; but along with him were Wat Scott 
of Branxholm, Wat Scott of Goldielands, Jock Elliot 
of the Copshaw, Sandie Armstrong son to Hobbie the 
Laird of Mangerton, Kinmont's four sons Jock, 
Francie, Sandie, and Geordie Armstrong, Rob of the 
Langholm, and Willie Bell the Redcloak ; all noted 
and daring men. They were well mounted, armed at 
all points, and carried with them scaling-ladders, be- 
sides iron crowbars, sledge-hammers, hand-picks, and 
axes. Thus furnished, and favoured by the extreme 
darkness of the night, they passed the river Esk; rode 
briskly through the Grahames 1 country ; forded the 
Eden, then swollen over its banks; and came to the 
brook Caday, close by Carlisle, where Buccleuch made 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., The names of such as enforced 
the Castle for Kinmont ; dated, in Burghley's hand, 1 3th April. 

1596. JAMES vi. 197 

his men dismount, and silently led eighty of them, 
with the ladders and iron tools, to the foot of the wall 
of the base or outer court of the castle. Everything 
favoured them : the heavens were as black as pitch, 
the rain descended in torrents; and as they raised 
their ladders to fix them on the cope-stone, they could 
hear the English sentinels challenge as they walked 
their rounds. To their rage and disappointment, the 
ladders proved too short ; but finding a postern in the 
wall, they undermined it, and soon made a breach 
enough for a soldier to squeeze through. In this 
way a dozen stout fellows passed into the outer court, 
(Buccleuch himself being the fifth man who entered,)* 
disarmed and bound the watch, wrenched open the 
postern from the inside, and thus admitting their 
companions, were masters of the place. Twenty-four 
troopers now rushed to the castle jail, Buccleuch 
meantime keeping the postern; forced the door of the 
chamber where Kinmont was confined ; carried him 
off in his irons; and sounding their trumpet, the signal 
agreed on, were answered by loud shouts and the 
trumpet of Buccleuch, whose troopers filled the base 
court. All was now terror and confusion, both in 
town and castle. The alarum-bell rang, and was 
answered by his brazen brethren of the cathedral and 
the town-house ; the beacon blazed up on the top of 
the great tower ; and its red, uncertain glare on the 
black sky and the shadowy forms and glancing armour 
of the Borderers, rather increased the horror and their 
numbers. None could see their enemy or tell his real 
strength. Lord Scrope, believing, as he afterwards 
wrote to Burghley, that five hundred Scots were in 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., The names of such as enforced 
the Castle for Kinmont. 


possession of the castle, kept himself close within his 
chamber. Kinmont Will himself, as he was carried on 
his friends 1 shoulders beneath the warden's window, 
roared out a lusty "Good night" to his lordship; 
and in a wonderfully brief space Buccleuch had effected 
his purpose, joined his men on the Caday, remounted 
his troopers, forded once more the Esk and the Eden, 
and bearing his rescued favourite in the middle of his 
little band, regained the Scottish Border before sunrise. 
This brilliant exploit, the last and assuredly one of 
the bravest feats of Border warfare, was long talked 
of; embalmed in an inimitable ballad ; and fondly 
dwelt on by tradition, which has preserved some 
graphic touches. Kinmont in swimming his horse 
through the Eden, which was then flooded, was much 
cumbered by the irons round his ancles ; and is said 
to have drily observed, that often as he had breasted 
it, he never had such heavy spurs. His master, Buc- 
cleuch, eager to rid him of these shackles, halted at 
the first smith's house they came to within the Scot- 
tish Border ; but the door was locked, the family in 
bed, and the knight of the hammer so sound a sleeper, 
that he was only wakened by the Lord Warden 
thrusting his long spear through the window, and 
nearly spitting both Vulcan and his lady.* 

Jocular, however, as were these circumstances to 
the victors, the business was no laughing matter to 
Lord Scrope, who came forth from his bedchamber to 
find that his castle had been stormed, his garrison 
bearded, and his prisoner carried off by only eighty 
men. He instantly wrote to the privy-council and 

* Contemporary Account in the Warrender MSS. ; and MS. Letter, 
State-paper Office, B.C., Lord Scrope to Burghley. Minstrelsy of the Scot- 
tish Border, vol. ii. p. 60. 

1596. JAMES vi. 199 

Lord Burghley, complaining of so audacious an attack 
upon one of the queen's castles in time of peace ; and 
advising his royal mistress to insist with James on 
the delivery of Buccleuch, that he might receive the 
punishment which so audacious an outrage, as he 
termed it, deserved. But Buccleuch had much to 
offer in his defence : he pleaded that Kinmont's seizure 
and imprisonment had been a gross violation of the 
law ; that it was not until every possible representation 
had failed, and till his own sovereign's remonstrance, 
addressed to Elizabeth had been treated with con- 
tempt, that he took the matter into his own hands ; 
and that his Borderers had committed no outrage, 
either on life or property, although they might have 
made Scrope and his garrison prisoners, and sacked 
the city. All this was true ; and the king for a while 
resisted compliance with Elizabeth's demand, in which 
he was supported by the whole body of his council and 
barons, and even by the ministers of the Kirk ; whilst 
the people were clamorous in their applause, and de- 
clared that no more gallant action had been done even 
in Wallace's days.* But at last James' spirit quailed 
under the impetuous remonstrance of the queen ; and 
the Border chief was first committed to ward' in the 
castle of St Andrews,^ and afterwards sent on parole 
to England, where he remained till the outrages of 
the English Borderers rendered his services as warden 
absolutely necessary to preserve the country from 
havoc.]: He was then delivered. It is said that, 
during his stay in England as a prisoner at large, he 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 3d July, 1596. 
Spottiswood, p. 416. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 10th August, 1596. 
Ibid., same to same, 12th October, 1596. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to the Queen, 10th Nov., 1596. 


was sent for by Elizabeth, who loved bold actions even 
in her enemies. She demanded of him, with one of 
those lion-like glances which used to throw her proud- 
est nobles on their knees, how he had dared to storm her 
castle : to which the Border baron, nothing daunted, 
replied " What, Madam, is there that a brave man 
may not dare 2 " The rejoinder pleased her ; and 
turning to her courtiers, she exclaimed " Give me a 
thousand such leaders, and 111 shake any throne in 
Europe !"* 

This obsequiousness of the Scottish king to the 
wishes of the Queen of England was not without a 
purpose ; for James had now resolved on the restora- 
tion of the Catholic earls, and anticipated the utmost 
opposition, not only from the powerful party of the 
Kirk, but from Burghley and his royal mistress. 
The aged Lord Treasurer, who had long managed the 
whole affairs of Scotland, had recently written to his 
son, Sir Robert Cecil, now Secretary of State, that 
he suspected the " Octavians," the eight councillors 
who now ruled the State, to be little else than " hol- 
low Papists." It was evident, he added, that the 
king was much governed by them, and that his affec- 
tion to the " crew" would increase: he advised, there- 
fore, that Bowes, the English ambassador, should have 
secret conference with the ministers of the Kirk, who 
would discover the truth, and devise a remedy.^ This 
was written in July ; and there were good reasons for 
Burghley "s suspicions. As early as May, Bowes had 
detected the incipient movement in favour of the 
banished earls, and their resolution to petition the 

* Notes on the ballad of Kinmont Willie. Minstrelsy of the Scottish 
Border, vol. ii. pp. 49, 50. Rymer's Foedera, vol. xvi. p. 318. 

t MS. Letter," State-paper Ofiice, Burghley to Sir Robert Cecil, lOih 
July, 1596, addressed, " To ray lovying sou." 

1596. JAMES vi. 201 

king for their return.* They were to make submis- 
sion to the king and the Church, aW to have their 
cause espoused by the Duke of Lennox. Not long 
after, the Earl of Huntley landed from the Continent 
at Eyemouth ; and passing in disguise into Scotland, 
encountered, on his road, the Lord St Colm, whose 
brother he had slain. Fortunately for the returned 
exile, his mean dress concealed him from the vengeance 
of his enemy, and he arrived safely amongst his 
friends ; who, aware of the court intrigues in his 
favour, exerted their utmost efforts to procure his 
restoration. But these were met by cries of horror 
and warning from the Kirk, which increased to their 
loudest note when it was reported that Errol had been 
seen with Huntley at his castle the Bog of Gicht, and 
that Angus had dared to come secretly into Perth, 
from which he was only driven by a peremptory charge 
of the magistrates. -f* 

Meanwhile the Countess of Huntley, who had much 
influence at court, presented some overtures upon the 
part of her husband. He had never, he said, held any 
traffic with any individuals whatever, against the Re- 
formed religion, since his leaving Scotland, and was 
ready to abide his trial, if any one dared to accuse 
him. He was ready, also, to banish from his company 
all seminary priests and known Papists ; and would 
willingly hold conference on the subject of religion 
with any ministers of the Kirk, by whose arguments 
he might possibly be induced to embrace their religion. 
He would receive, he added, any Presbyterian pastor 
into his house for his better instruction ; would sup- 
port him at his own expense ; would assist the Kirk 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 18th May, 1596. 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burghley, 20th Oct., 1596. 


with his utmost power in the maintenance of their 
discipline ; and only required, in return, that a reason- 
able time should be given him to be satisfied in his 
conscience ; and that, meanwhile, he should be ab- 
solved from the heavy sentence of excommunication 
which had been pronounced against him.* 

Nothing could be more moderate than such requests ; 
but the Kirk fired at the very idea that an excommu- 
nicated traitor, as they termed the earl, who had been 
guilty of idolatry, a crime punishable by death, and 
who, in the face of his sentence of banishment, had 
dared, without license, to return, should have the 
hardihood to propose any terms whatever. It was 
whispered that the Spanish faction was daily gaining 
strength ; that the earls would not show themselves 
so openly unless they knew their return to be accept- 
able to the king ; that the party against the truth and 
liberty of the Word was bold and confident of success, 
both in England and at home ; and that, if some great 
and resolute resistance were not instantly made, the 
Kirk, with all its boasted purity and privileges, would 
become the prey of Antichrist. To remedy or avert 
these evils, a day of humiliation was appointed to be 
observed with more than ordinary rigour ; in which 
the people and the ministry were called upon to weep, 
between the porch and the altar, for a land polluted by 
the enemies of God, and threatened with the loss of 
his favour. A body of sixteen commissioners was 
selected from the ministers, who were to sit monthly 
at Edinburgh, under the name of the " Council of the 
Church : " their duty was to provide, according to the 
ancient phrase, "Ne quid Ecclesia detrimenti caperet;"" 

* MS. State-paper Office, Offer of the Countess of Himtley, 19th October 
15-96. Also, Rymer's Feeders, vol. xvi. p. 305. 

1596. JAMES vi. 203 

and through them a constant correspondence was kept 
up with all parts of the realm.* 

These proceedings alarmed the king, who could see 
no good grounds for the erection of so formidable a 
machinery against what he deemed an imaginary at- 
tack, and directed some members of his privy-council 
to hold a meeting with the more moderate ministers, 
and persuade them of the groundlessness of their ap- 
prehensions. If, he said, the three earls were repent- 
ant ; if they had already suffered exile and were 
solicitous to hear the truth and return to their country 
and the bosom of the Church, why should he, their 
prince, be precluded from the exercise of mercy, the 
brighest jewel in his prerogative ? and why, above all, 
should the Church, whose doors ought ever to stand 
open to returning penitents, shut them remorselessly 
in their faces, and consign them to darkness and de- 
spair ? 

These sentiments of the king were as politic as they 
were merciful ; for in the present state of the king- 
dom, considering Elizabeth's advanced age and the 
power of the Roman Catholics in England as well as 
in his own dominions, nothing could have been more 
unfavourable to his title of succession than to have 
become a religious persecutor. Indeed, the arguments 
of the more violent amongst the ministers were revolt- 
ing and absurd. The crime of which the Catholic earls 
had been guilty (so they reasoned) was of that atrocious 
nature which rendered pardon, by the civil power, im- 
possible. They were idolaters, and must die the death ; 
though, upon repentance, they might be absolved by 
the Kirk from the sentence of spiritual death.-f- Such 
a merciless mode of reasoning, proceeding, as Spottis- 

* Spottiswood, p. 418. f Spottiswood, pp. 418, 419. 


wood has remarked, rather from "passion than any 
good zeal," greatly disgusted the king ; who perceived 
that, under the alleged necessity of watching over the 
purity of the faith, the Kirk were erecting a tribunal 
independent alike of the law and the throne. Nor did 
James conceal these sentiments ; inveighing bitterly 
against the ministers, both in public and private, at 
council and table. It was in vain that some of the 
brethren (for here, as in all other popular factions, there 
was a more moderate party, who were dragged forward 
and hustled into excesses by the more violent) en- 
treated him to explain the causes of his offence, and 
declared their anxiety for an agreement. " As to 
agreement,' 1 said the monarch, " never will there be 
an agreement as long as the limits of the two jurisdic- 
tions, the civil and the ecclesiastical, are so vague and 
undistinguishable. The lines must be strongly and 
clearly drawn. In your preachings, your license is 
intolerable ; you censure both prince. Estate, and 
council; you convoke General Assemblies without my 
authority ; you pass laws under the allegation that 
they are purely ecclesiastical, but which interfere with 
my prerogative, and restrict the decisions of my coun- 
cil and my judges. To these my allowance or appro- 
bation is never required ; and under the general head 
of ' Scandal,' your Synods and Presbyteries fulminate 
the most bitter personal attacks, and draw within the 
sphere of their censure every conceivable grievance. 
To think of agreement under such circumstances is 
vain ; even if made, it could not last for a moment."* 
In the midst of all this, and when the feelings of the 
king and the clergy were in a state of high excitement, 
Mr David Black, one of the ministers of St Andrews, 

* Spoftinvood. p. 419. 

1596. JAMES VI. 205 

a fierce Puritan, delivered a discourse in which he not 
only animadverted on the threatened triumph of idola- 
try at home, but raised his voice against the Prelacy 
which had established itself in the neighbouring king- 
dom. The Queen of England, he said, was an atheist; 
the religion professed in that kingdom nothing better 
than an empty show, guided by the injunctions of the 
bishops ; and not content with this pageant at home, 
they were now persuading the king to set it up in 
Scotland. As for his highness, none knew better than 
he did of the meditated return of these Papist earls ; 
and herein he was guilty of manifest treachery. But 
what could they look for ? Was not Satan the head 
of both court and council ? Were not all kings devil's 
bairns? Was not Satan in the court, in the guiders 
of the court, in the head of the court ? Were not the 
Lords of Session miscreants and bribers, the nobility 
cormorants, and the Queen of Scotland a woman whom, 
for fashion's sake, they might pray for, but in whose 
time it was vain to hope for good ? * 

This insolent attack was followed, as might have 
been expected, by an indignant complaint of Bowes 
the English ambassador ; and the offender was im- 
mediately cited to appear before the privy-council. 
To obey this summons, however, would have been 
construed into an abandonment of the highest privi- 
leges of the Kirk ; and Black at once declined the 
jurisdiction of the tribunal. His " Declinator " is 
an extraordinary paper ; and by the high tone which 
it assumed, fully justified all the apprehensions of the 
king. " Albeit," said he, addressing the king and 

* MS. State-paper Office, Effect of Information against Mr David Black. 
Moyse's Memoirs, p. 128. Also, MS. State-paper Office, Process against 
Mr David Black, 9th December, 1696 


council, " I am ready, by the assistance of the grace 
of God, to give a confession, and to stand to the defence 
of every point of the truth of God, uttered by me, 
either by opening up of this word, or application there- 
of, before your majesty or council ; * * yet, seeing 
I am brought at this time to stand before your ma- 
jesty and council, as a judge set to cognosce and discern 
upon my doctrine, wherethrough my answering to the 
said pretended accusation might import with the mani- 
fest prejudice of the liberties of the Kirk, and acknow- 
ledging also of your majesty's jurisdiction in matters 
that are mere spiritual, which might move your ma- 
jesty to attempt farther in the spiritual government 
of the Kirk of God: * * Therefore (so he con- 
tinued) I am constrained, in all humility and submis- 
sion of mind, to use a declinature of the judgment, at 
least in prima instantia, for the following reasons : 
First, the Lord Jesus, the God of order and not of 
confusion, as appeared most evidently in all the Kirks 
of His saints, (of whom only I have the grace of my 
calling, as His ambassador, albeit most unworthy of 
that honour to bear His name amongst the saints,) 
He has given me His Word, and no law nor tradition 
of man, as the only instructions whereby I should rule 
the whole actions of my calling in preaching of the 
Word, administering of the seals thereof, and exercis- 
ing of the discipline : and in discharge of this com- 
mission I cannot fall in the reverence of any evil law 
of man, but in so far as I shall be found past the com- 
pass of my instructions ; which cannot be judged 
accordingly to that order established by that God of 
order, but [except] by the prophets, whose lips He 
hath appointed to be the keepers of His heavenly wis- 
dom, and to whom He hath subjected the spirit of the 

1596. JAMES vi. 207 

prophets. And now, seeing it is the preaching of the 
Word whereon I am accused, which is a principal 
point of my calling, of necessity the prophets must 
first declare whether I have kept the bounds of my 
direction, before I come to be judged of your majesty: 
which being done, and I found culpable in transgress- 
ing any point of that commission which the Lord has 
given me, I refuse not to abide your majesty's judg- 
ment in the second instance, and to undeiiy whatsoever 
punishment it shall be found I have deserved. 

" Secondly, because the liberty of the Kirk, and the 
whole discipline thereof, according as the same has 
been, and is presently exercised within your majesty's 
realm, has been confirmed by divers acts of parliament, 
and approved in the Confession of Faith, by the sub- 
scription and acts of your majesty, and of your ma- 
jesty's estate and the whole body of the country, and 
peaceably enjoyed by the office-bearers of the Kirk in 
all points, and namely in the foresaid point, anent the 
judicatory of the preaching of the Word in prima 
instantia, as the practice of late examples evidently 
will show : therefore, the question concerning my 
preaching, ought, first, according to the grounds and 
practice aforesaid, to be judged by the ecclesiastical 
senate."* * * * 

This resolute refusal to submit himself to the judg- 
ment of the law, greatly enraged the king, and con- 
vinced him that the time was come to make a stand 
against the exorbitant claims of the Kirk. It con- 
firmed him, also, in his resolution to extend his favour 
to the Catholic earls, upon their due submission ; and 
at all hazards to put down that spirit of dictation and 

* MS. State-paper Office, David Black's Declaration to the King's Ma- 
jesty and Council, 22d Nov., 1596. Calderwood, p. 337. 


interference which might have soon made the tyranny 
and license of the ministers intolerable. Having un- 
derstood, therefore, that a copy of Mr Black's declina- 
ture had been sent by the commissioners of the Kirk 
to the various presbyteries throughout the kingdom 
for their signature, with letters commending the cause 
to their assistance and prayers, Jarnes at once con- 
strued this into an act of mutiny ; and by a public 
proclamation not only discharged the commissioners 
from holding any farther meetings, but commanded 
them to leave the capital and repair within twenty-four 
hours to their flocks.* But this royal order they were 
in no temper to obey. They instantly convened, and, 
in the phrase used by their own historian, " laid their 
letters open before the Lord."-f- The danger, they 
declared, was imminent ; and the ministers of the city 
must instantly, in their pulpits, deal mightily with 
the power of the Word against the charge which com- 
manded them to desert their duty. As the spiritual 
jurisdiction flowed immediately from Christ, and could 
in no way proceed from a king or civil magistrate : so 
also the power to convene for the exercise of such 
jurisdiction came directly from Christ, and could 
neither be impeded nor controlled by any Christian 
prince. They declared, therefore, that they would not 
obey the proclamation, but remain together to watch 
over the safety of Christ's Church, now in extreme 
jeopardy ; and sent an angry message to the " Octa- 
vians," the eight councillors who then managed the 
government, assuring them, that as the Kirk had been 
in peace and liberty on their coming to office and was 
now plunged into the greatest troubles, they could not 

* Calderwood, p. 341. f Ibid. 

1596. JAMES vi. 209 

but hold them responsible for the late bitter attacks 
upon its privileges. 

This accusation was indignantly repelled by Seton 
the President of the Session ; and from him the com- 
missioners of the Kirk repaired to the king ; who as- 
sured them, with greater mildness than some had 
expected, that if Black would withdraw his " Declina- 
tor " all could be well arranged : a proposal which the 
more moderate party in the Kirk anxiously advised 
to be adopted. " At this moment, 1 ' they said, " the 
court stands in some awe of the Kirk ; and our wisest 
plan is to make the best conditions we can. If we 
measure our strength with the king, we shall be found 
too weak, and may lose the ground we have gained." 
But others, more fierce and zealous, arraigned such 
counsels as Erastian, and worldly-wise. To renounce 
the least of their privileges would, they argued, be the 
sure way to lose them all : to stand to their ground 
the only way to prevail. It was God's cause ; and He 
who had the hearts of princes in His hand would 
maintain it.* 

These counsels prevailed. The monarch, irritated 
by the rejection of his ofier, commanded the trial of 
Black to proceed. So anxious, however, was he to 
avoid extremities, that after the judges had pro- 
nounced their opinion that the matters charged against 
him amounted, if proved, to treason, and were within 
the jurisdiction of the king and council, he deferred 
the trial till next day ; and in the interval sent for 
some of the ministers, with the hope that, even at this 
latest hour, some mutual concessions might lead to 
peace. It had been reported to him, he said, that 
they were in terror lest their spiritual jurisdiction 

* Caldenvood, pp. 340, 341. Spottiswood, p. 4 '23. 


should be invaded ; but nothing could be farther from 
his mind than any abridgment of the liberties of the 
Kirk ; and he was ready, by a public declaration on 
this point, to quiet their minds. " But," he con- 
tinued, " this licentious manner of discoursing of 
affairs of State in the pulpit cannot be tolerated. My 
claim is only to judge in matters of sedition, and other 
civil and criminal causes, and of speeches that may 
import such crimes, wheresoever they may be uttered 
in the pulpit or elsewhere : for surely, if treason 
and sedition be crimes, much more are they so if com- 
mitted in the pulpit, where the Word of Truth alone 
should be taught and heard." 

To this some of the ministers replied, that they did 
not plead for the privilege of place, but for respect due 
to their message, which was received from God, and 
far above the control of any civil judicature. " Most 
true," said James ; " and would you keep to your 
message, there would and could be no strife. But I 
trust your message be not to rule Estates, and, when 
matters dislike you, to stir the people to sedition, 
making both me and my councillors odious by your 
railings." " If any dare do so," said the champion of 
the Kirk, " and have passed the bounds, it is reason 
he be punished with all extremity ; but this question 
of his having passed the bounds must be judged by the 
Church." " And shall not I," said the king, with 
some asperity, " have power to call and punish a min- 
ister that breaketh out in treasonable speeches, but 
must come to your presbytery and be a complainer ? 
I have had good proof already what justice ye will do 
me ; and were this a doubtful case, where by any 
colour the speeches might be justified, there might be 
some excuse for saying the minister should be con- 
victed by his brethren; but here, what says Mr Black ? 

1596. JAMES VI. 211 

All kings are devil's bairns ; the treachery of the 
kind's heart is discovered. 1 Who sees not that this 


man hath passed his bounds ? Who will say he hath 
kept to his message V 

It was easier to demur to this than to answer it ; 
and so convinced were the ministers at the moment 
of the reasonableness of the king's desires, that after 
much conference and cavilling, they agreed to with- 
draw from the contest, till the limits between the civil 
and spiritual jurisdictions should be discussed and 
decided in a lawful General Assembly. On his side, 
also, James relaxed in the rigour of his requisitions. 
He was content, he said, that Black should be brought 
to his presence ; and on his admission or denial of the 
truth of the accusations, be judged by three of his own 
brethren, Mr David Lindsay, Mr James Nicolson, and 
Mr Thomas Buchanan. Matters were now on the 
very eve of an amicable adjustment, when it was un- 
fortunately suggested to the king, that by this mode 
of settlement he would compromise his dignity, and 
that of his consort, unless Mr Black first acknowledged 
his offence against the queen. From such a proceed- 
ing the indignant minister revolted. He would plead 
to no offence, he said ; for he was guilty of none. 
The court, before whom he had been tried, had evinced 
the most shameless injustice ; had refused the most 
unexceptionable witnesses, who would have amply 
proved his innocence. Provost, bailies, rectors, deans, 
principals, and regents of colleges, had been ready to 
testify in his favour ; and the judges had admitted in 
their place the evidence of ignorant and partial persons, 
whom it was impossible to believe. Come what might, 
he would never plead before a Civil tribunal for an 
alleged Spiritual delinquency ; but if the monarch 


chose to remit him to his lawful judge, the ecclesias- 
tical senate, he would declare the truth ; and, if found 
guilty, cheerfully submit to its censure.* 

This second declinature enraged the king even more 
than the first ; and having summoned his council, he 
commanded the trial to proceed ; but no prisoner 
appeared. The depositions of the witnesses were then 
read ; and Black, in absence, was found guilty of hav- 
ing falsely and treasonably slandered the king, the 
queen his royal consort, his neighbour princess the 
queen of England, and the Lords of Council and Ses- 
sion. It was left to the king to name the due punish- 
ment for such offences ; but till the royal pleasure were 
known, he was sentenced to be confined beyond the 
North Water, and within six days to enter his per- 
son in ward.-f- Yet although armed by this sentence, 
and holding the sword of the civil power over the heads 
of the guilty, James arrested its descent, and to the 
last showed an anxiety for a compromise. The punish- 
ment of Black, he said, should be of the lightest kind ; 
and no ministers should be called before the privy- 
council till it had been found in a General Assembly 
that the king might judge whether they passed the 
bounds in doctrine. Meanwhile, the acts of council 
so obnoxious to the brethren should be deleted, the 
offensive proclamations amended, and every reasonable 
safeguard provided against the alleged encroachments 
upon the liberties of the Kirk. 

These amicable feelings were unfortunately constru- 
ed rather into an admission of weakness than a desire 
for peace ; and the commissioners of the Kirk, sternly 
refusing to abate an atom of their demands, declared 
that no punishment could be inflicted on a man who 

* Caldenvood, p. 351. Spottiswood, p. 425. f Id. 427. 

1596. JAMES VI. 213 

had not yet been tried. On the other hand, it was 
urged by Seton, President of the Session, and one of 
the Octavians, that unless some punishment followed 
the sentence pronounced upon Black, the king could 
never make that process a good ground for claiming 
the jurisdiction over the ministers. The two antagon- 
ists therefore, the Kirk and the crown, found them- 
selves, after these protracted overtures, more mortally 
opposed to each other than before. The Kirk, pro- 
testing that every effort had failed to obtain redress 
for the wrongs offered to Christ's kingdom, proclaimed 
a Fast ; commanded all faithful pastors to betake 
themselves to their spiritual armour; caused "the 
Doctrine," to use the phrase of these times, " to sound 
mightily;" and protested that, whatever might be 
the consequences, they were free of his majesty's 

The king received this announcement with the ut- 
most scorn ; commanded the commissioners instantly 
to depart the city ; ordered Black to enter into ward ; 
and published a Declaration, in which he exposed, in 
forcible and indignant terms, the unreasonable de- 
mands of the Kirk. Out of an earnest desire, he said, 
to keep peace with the ministers, he had agreed to 
wave all inquiry into " past causes," till the unhappy 
differences between the civil and ecclesiastical tribunal 
had been removed by the judgment of a convention 
of Estates and a General Assembly of the ministry. 
All that he had asked in return was, that his proceed- 
ings should not be made a subject of pulpit attack and 
bitter ecclesiastical railing : instead of listening to 
which request, they had vilified him in their ser- 
mons, accused him of persecution, defended Black, 

* Calderwood, pp. 350, SCO. Spottiswood, p. 426. 


and falsely held him up to his people as the enemy of 
all godliness. In the face of all such slander and 
defamation, he now declared to his good subjects, that 
as it was his determination on the one hand to main- 
tain religion and the discipline of the Church as estab- 
lished by law, so, on the other, he was resolved to 
enforce upon all his people, ministers of the Kirk as 
well as others, that obedience to the laws and rever- 
ence for the throne, without which no Christian king- 
dom could hold together. For this purpose certain 
bonds were in preparation, which the ministers should 
be required to subscribe under the penalty of a seques- 
tration of their property.* 

Meanwhile, the commissioners having retired from 
the city, a short breathing time was allowed ; and 
Secretary Lindsay, trusting that the ministers of 
Edinburgh might now be more tractable than their 
brethren, prevailed on the king to send for them. As 
a preliminary to all accommodation, they insisted that 
the commissioners should be recalled ; and the king, 
relaxing in his rigour, appeared on the point of ac- 
ceding to their wishes, when some of the " Cubiculars" 
as the lords of the bedchamber and gentlemen of the 
household were called, interposed their ill offices to 
prevent an agreement. These ambitious and intrigu- 
ing men had long envied and hated the Octavians, 
and had hoped, under colour of the recent dissensions 
in the Church, to procure their disgrace and dismissal. 
Nothing could be more unfavourable to such a plot 
than peace between the king and the Kirk : nothing 
more essential to its success than to fan the flame and 
stir the elements of discord. This they now set about 
with diabolical ingenuity. They laboured to make 

* Spottiswood, p. 426. 

1596. JAMES VI. 215 

the Octavians odious to the party of the Protestant 
barons and the ministers. They assured them, that 
all the hot persecution of Mr Black arose from this 
hydra-headed crew, of whom they knew the leaders to 
be Papists. They insinuated to the Octavians that 
the animosity of their enemies in the Kirk was so 
implacable as to throw their lives into jeopardy ; and 
they abused the king's ear, to whom their office gave 
them unlimited access, by tales against the citizens of 
Edinburgh ; who mounted guard every night, as they 
affirmed, over the houses of their ministers, lest their 
lives should fall a sacrifice to the unmitigable rage of 
their sovereign. 

By these abominable artifices, the single end of 
which was to destroy the government of the Octa- 
vians, the hopes of peace were entirely blasted ; and 
the little lull which had succeeded the retirement of 
the commissioners was followed by a more terrific 
tempest than had yet occurred. The king, incensed 
at the conduct of the citizens and the suspicion which 
it implied, commanded twenty- four of the most zealous 
burgesses to leave the capital within six hours ; ja pro- 
ceeding which enraged the ministers, whose indigna- 
tion blazed to the highest pitch when they received an 
anonymous letter, assuring them that Huntley had 
been that night closeted with James. The information 
was false, and turned out to be an artifice of the 
"Cubiculars ;" but it had the effect intended, for all 
was now terror in the Kirk. Balcanquel flew to the 
pulpit ; and after a general discourse on some text of 
the Canticles, plunged into the present troubles of the 
Kirk, arraigned the " treacherous forms " of which 
they had been made the victims ; and turning to the 
noblemen and barons who were his auditors, reminded 


them, in glowing language, of the deeds of their ances- 
tors in defence of the Truth : exhorting them not to 
disgrace their fathers, but to meet the ministers forth- 

O 7 

with in the Little Church. To this quarter so great 
a crowd now rushed, that the clergy could not make 
their entrance ; but Mr Robert Bruce, pressing for- 
ward, at last reached the table where the Protestant 
barons were seated, and warning them of the immi- 
nent perils which hung over their heads, the return 
of the Papist earls, the persecution of Black, the 
banishment of the commissioners and the citizens, 
conjured them to bestir themselves and intercede with 
the king.* 

For this purpose, Lords Lindsay and Forbes, with 
the Lairds of Barganie and Balquhan, and the two 
ministers, Bruce and Watson, sought the royal pre- 
sence, then not far off; for the king was at that mo- 
ment sitting in the Upper Tolbooth with some of his 
privy-council, while the Judges of the Session were 
assembled in the Lower House. On being admitted 
with the rest, Bruce informed the monarch that they 
were sent by the noblemen and barons then convened, 
to bemoan and avert the dangers threatened to religion. 
"What dangers?" said James. "I see none; and 
who dares convene, contrary to my proclamation?" 
" Dares ! " retorted the fierce Lord Lindsay. " We 
dare more than that ; and shall not suffer the Truth 
to be overthrown, and stand tamely by." As he said 
this the clamour increased ; numbers were thronging 
unmannerly into the presence-chamber, and the king, 
starting up in alarm, and without giving any answer, 
retreated down stairs to the Lower House, where the 
judges were assembled, and commanded the doors to 

* Spottiswood, p. 427. 

1596 JAMES vi. 217 

be shut. The Protestant lords and ministers upon 
this returned to the Little Kirk, where the multitude 
had been addressed, during their absence, by Mr 
Michael Cranston, who had read to them the history 
of Haman and Mordecai. This story had worked 
them up to a point that prepared them for any mis- 
chief; and when they heard that the king had turned 
his back upon their messengers, they became furious 
with rage and disappointment. Some, dreading the 
worst, desired to separate; but Lindsay's lion voice 
was heard above the clamour, forbidding them to dis- 
perse. Shouts now arose, to force the doors and bring 
out the wicked Haman ; others cried out " The sword 
of the Lord and of Gideon ; " and in the midst of the 
confusion, an agent of the courtiers, or, as Calderwood 
terms him, " a messenger of Satan sent by the Cubi- 
culars," vociferated " Armour, armour ! save your- 
selves. Fy, fy ! bills and axes !" The people now 
rose in arms ; some rushing one way, some another. 
Some, thinking the king was laid hands on, ran to the 
Tolbooth ; some, believing that their ministers were 
being butchered, flew to the Kirk ; others thundered 
with their axes and weapons on the Tolbooth doors ; 
calling for President Seton, Mr Elphinstone, and Mr 
Thomas Hamilton, to be given up to them, that they 
might take order with them as abusers of the king 
and the Kirk. At this moment, had not a brave 
deacon of the craftsmen, named Wat, with a small 
guard, beat them back, the gate would have been 
forced, and none could have answered for the conse- 
quences. But at last the provost, Sir Alexander 
Hume, whom the shouts of the uproar had reached as 
he lay on a sick bed, seizing his sword, rushed in, all 


haggard and pale, amongst the citizens, and with diffi- 
culty appeased them into a temporary calm. 

James, who was greatly alarmed, now sent the Earl 
of Mar to remonstrate with the ministers, whom he 
found pacing up and down, disconsolately, behind the 
church, lamenting the tumult, and excusing their own 
part. On being remonstrated with by Mar, all that 
they required, they said, was the abolition of the acts 
done in prejudice of the Kirk during the last four 
weeks ; that the president, comptroller, and advocate, 
men suspected in religion, and enemies to the truth, 
should have no voice in ecclesiastical matters ; and 
that the good citizens who had been banished should 
be recalled. These demands being reported, the mon- 
arch promised to lay them, when put into proper form, 
before his council ; and seizing the moment of tran- 
quillity, ventured to open the doors of the Lower 
Tolbooth, and accompanied by the provost, bailies, 
and Octavians, slipt quietly into the street, and pro- 
ceeded to his palace at Holyrood. 

Here at last there was safety ; and his courage 
reviving, James expressed himself with the utmost 
indignation against the ministers and leaders of the 
late tumult ; vowing that they, the town, the barons, 
and every living soul connected with the recent dis- 
graceful scenes, should bitterly repent them. These 
sentiments were encouraged by the councillors ; and 
next morning the king and his whole court, at an 
early hour, left the city for Linlithgow. Scarcely had 
they departed, when a herald appearing at the Cross, 
read a proclamation which struck dismay into the 
hearts of the people. It described the treasonable 
uproar of the preceding day, which had been raised 
by the factious ministers of Edinburgh, who, it stated, 

1596. JAMES vi. 219 

after having uttered most seditious speeches in pulpit, 
had assembled with the noblemen, barons, and others ; 
had sent an irreverent messa.ge to their sovereign, 
persuaded the citizens to take arms, and put his ma- 
jesty's life in jeopardy. Such treasonable conduct, it 
declared, had convinced the king that the capital was 
no longer a fit place for his own residence, or for the 
ministration of justice; he had therefore himself left 
it with his court, and now commanded the Lords of 
Session, sheriffs, and all other officers of justice, to 
remove themselves forth of the town of Edinburgh, 
and be ready to repair to such other place as should 
be appointed. At the same time he ordered all noble- 
men and barons to depart instantly to their own houses, 
and to forbear any further assembly till they had re- 
ceived the royal permission.* 

This proclamation had an immediate effect, and 
caused a great alteration. Men looked sadly and de- 
spondingly on each other. The craftsmen and burgesses 
foretold the utter decay of their town and trade. All 
seemed in despair : but nothing could intimidate the 
Kirkmen ; and Mr Robert Bruce, one of their prin-ci- 
pal leaders, ascending the pulpit, upbraided them with 
their pusillanimity. " A day," said he, " a day of trial 
and terror is at hand. The hypocrisy of many, the 
flagrant iniquity of others, will clearly appear. The 
trial shall go through all men : from king and queen 
to council and nobility, from session to barons, from 
barons to burgesses, from burgesses to the meanest 
craftsmen, all will be sifted ; and sorry am I that I 
should see such weakness in so many, that ye dare not 
utter so much as one word for God's glory and the 
good cause. It is not we that are parties in this cause. 

* Spottiswood, p. 429-430. 


No : the quarrel is betwixt a greater Prince and us. 
We are but silly men and unworthy creatures. But 
it hath pleased Him who ruleth all things, to set us 
in this office, and to make us His own mouth, that we 
should oppose the manifest usurpation intended against 
His spiritual kingdom ; and sorry am I that our cause 
should be obscured by this late tumult, and that the 
enemies should be thereby emboldened to pull the 
crown off Christ's head."* 

After this stirring address, Lord Hamilton was se- 
cretly invited to place himself at the head of the godly 
barons and other gentlemen, who had embraced the 
cause of the Kirk ; and a proposal was made for the 
excommunication of Seton the President of the Ses- 
sion, and Hamilton the Lord Advocate ; but in the 
end it was deemed advisable to defer this awful process 
to the General Assembly, when these offenders might, 
with greater solemnity, be delivered over to Satan. 
Meanwhile, a Fast was proclaimed ; and Mr John 
Wjelsh, one of the ministers, thundered from one of 
the city pulpits an extraordinary philippic against the 
king ; taking for his general subject the epistle sent 
to the angel of the Church at Ephesus. His majesty, 
he said, had been possessed with a devil ; and one devil 
having been put out, seven worse spirits were entered 
in his place. He was, in fact, in a state of frenzy ; 
and it was lawful for the subjects to rise against him, 
and take the sword out of his hand ; just as a father 
of a family, if visited with insanity, might be seized 
by his children and servants and tied hand and foot. 
An execrable doctrine, justly observes Spottiswood, 
which was yet received by many of the hearers as a 
sound application. 

* CaWerwood, p. 36C. 

1596. JAMES VI. 221 

This insolent attack was scarcely made, when Lord 
Hamilton, who had at first received the messenger of 
the Kirk with courtesy, suddenly rode to Linlithgow, 
and put into the king's hands the letter addressed him 
by the ministers. It was construed into a direct in- 
citement to rebellion : and certainly its terms went 
far that way. Addressing themselves to this noble- 
man, the brethren presumed, they said, that his lord- 
ship was aware of the long conference between his 
majesty and them ; many concurrings, and as many 
breaks, in which, at last, the malice of some councillors 
had come to this, that their stipends were discharged ; 
the commissioners of the General Assembly banished ; 
Mr David Black convicted of treason, and warded ; 
themselves appointed to suffer the like ; and now, at 
last, a great number of their flock, who had stood in 
their defence, expelled from the town. They proceeded 
to state that the people, in this crisis, animated, no 
doubt, by the Word of God's spirit, took arms ; and, 
unless restrained by their ministers, would, in their 
fury, have lighted upon many of the councillors, who 
were threatening destruction, as they believed, to re- 
ligion and government. The letter stated that the 
godly barons, with other gentlemen who were in the 
town, had convened themselves ; they had taken upon 
them the patronicy of the Kirk and her cause ; but 
they lacked a head, and specially a nobleman to coun- 
tenance the matter, and with one consent had made 
choice of Lord Hamilton. " And seeing, 1 ' so the min- 
isters concluded their inflammatory epistle, " God has 
given your lordship this honour, we could do no less 
than to follow His calling, and make it known to you, 
that with all convenient diligence you might come 


here, utter your affection to the good cause, and receive 
the honour which is offered you." * 

This letter was subscribed by the leading ministers 
of the Kirk ; Bruce, Balcanquel, Rollock, Balfour, and 
Watson : but the great nobleman to whom it was ad- 
dressed, resisted the dangerous preeminence, and highly 
offended the Kirk by now placing it in the king's hands, 
who was not slow to take advantage of the discovery. 
In truth, the tumult recently committed by the citizens, 
and the part which had been acted in it by the clergy, 
was a prodigious advantage given to the monarch; who 
quickly perceived it. He was well aware of the diffi- 
culty of dealing with the ministers, as long as they 
confined themselves to their political attacks in the 
pulpit, and pleaded an independent jurisdiction ; but 
the citizens and bailies were unquestionably amenable 
to the authority of the crown and the laws. They 
were, with scarcely a single exception, Protestants ; 
warmly attached to the Kirk, and a principal element 
in its power. All this the king knew ; and when he 
saw that he had them within his grasp, he determined 
they should feel the full weight of his resentment. It 
was in vain that the citizens sought to appease the 
royal wrath, and despatched the humblest messages to 
implore its removal, and invite their sovereign back 
to his capital. The envoys were refused access ; the 
provost was commanded to imprison the ministers, 
who were accused of having instigated a tumult which 
had endangered the life of their prince ; the outrage 
was declared treason by an act of council ; the capital 
was pronounced unsafe ; the nobility and gentry in- 
terdicted from resorting thither ; the inferior judi- 
catories and the Supreme Court removed ; and the 

* Warrender MSS., vol. B., p. 246. 

1596. JAMES VI. 223 

ominous answer returned by the king to the citizens, 
that he meant ere long to come to Edinburgh, in per- 
son, and let them know that he was their sovereign. 

To enforce this, James summoned his Highland no- 
bles with their fierce attendants, and his Border barons 
with their lawless followers. Dark surmises ran 
through the court, and soon reached the startled ears 

O 7 

of the townsmen, that their city was doomed to indis- 
criminate pillage ; it was to be sacked, perhaps razed, 
and sown with salt. Will of Kinmont, it was said, 
was to be let loose upon it ; and his name, always for- 
midable, and now more notorious from his recent escape, 
struck terror into the hearts of the burghers. It was 
in vain that the ministers attempted to rally the cou- 
rage of their flocks, spoke of excommunicating their 
enemies in the council, and drew up a bond for the 
defence of religion. The magistrates refused to sub- 
scribe it ; the craftsmen, torn between their love of 
gain and their devotion to sound doctrine, began to 
look coldly and doubtfully upon their pastors ; and 
the four clergymen, who had taken the most active 
part in the tumult, dreading an arrest, fled by night 
to Newcastle.* But these were not the days when 
the artisans and merchants of a feudal capital were 
subjects of easy plunder. All had arms, and knew 
well how to use them ; and the shops, booths, and 
warehouses, were soon emptied of their goods, which 
were stowed away in the strongest houses of the town. 
The sturdy proprietors then took to their weapons, 
mounted guard over their stores, and determined that 
neither Catherans nor Borderers should spoil them 
without a bloody struggle.^- 

On the first January, the dreaded entry of the 

* Spottiswood, p. 43.\ f Birrel's Diary. 


monarch took place. The streets and gates had, early 
in the morning, been occupied by the various chiefs 
and clans appointed for the purpose. The provost and 
magistrates delivered the keys of the city on their 
knees to the king; professed their deep sorrow for 
the late tumult, of which, they declared, they were 
individually guiltless ; and solicited the strictest scru- 
tiny into the whole. As to the inflammatory sermons, 
and the conduct of their ministers who had been re- 
cently outlawed, they should, they said, never be re- 
admitted to their charge without the permission of 
the king ; and at the next election of the civic authori- 
ties, such persons only should be chosen as had pre- 
viously been approved of by the crown.* James then 
proceeded to the High Church, heard a sermon from 
Mr David Lindsay, and made an oration to the people, 
in which he justified himself, cleared his councillors, 
and deeply blamed the ministers.*^ He spoke of his 
own early education in the Reformed religion ; his 
solemn determination to maintain it ; to extirpate from 
his realm all unrepentant idolators, and to provide for 
the preaching of God's Word, which had been silent 
in the capital since the flight of those unworthy pastors 
who had profaned the pulpits by their seditious ha- 
rangues. Having thus somewhat reassured the tremb- 
ling citizens, he deemed that he had gone far enough 
for the present ; and not only declined accepting their 
offers of submission, but at a succeeding convention of 
Estates, held at Holyrood, anew declared the tumult 
to be treason, intimated his resolution to prosecute 
the town criminally, and commanded the provost and 
bailies to enter their persons in ward, within the town 

* Maitland, vol. ii. p. 1278. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Cecil, 4th January, 1596. 

1596-7. JAMES vi. 225 

of Perth, before the first of February ; to remain there 
in durance till acquitted, or found guilty of the uproar.* 
The sword was thus kept suspended over the heads of 
the unhappy magistrates and their capital ; and it was 
quite apparent that the king, having become convinced 
of his own strength, was determined to defer the mo- 
ment of mercy till he had accomplished some great 
purpose which now filled his mind. 

This was nothing less than the establishment of 
Episcopacy. The recent excesses of the more violent 
ministers had made the deepest impression upon the 
monarch ; and it was evident to him, that if the prin- 
ciples of independent jurisdiction which they had not 
hesitated to adopt, were preached and acted upon, 
there must ensue a perpetual collision between the 
ecclesiastical and civil authorities. He longed, there- 
fore, to use the words of Spottiswood, to see "a decent 
order established in the Kirk, which should be consis- 
tent with the Word of God, the custom of primitive 
times, and the laws of the realm;" and he believed 
that no fitter moment could occur to carry this great 
object than the present. His first step was to summon 
a General Assembly of the Church to meet at Perth 
on the last of February. His next was an act of con- 
ciliation. The eight councillors who, under the name 
of Octavians, had, for the last eighteen months, 
managed the financial department of the State, and 
indirectly controlled every part of the government, 
had been especially obnoxious to the Protestant clergy, 
and to a section of the courtiers and bedchamber lords. 
They were hated by the ministers, who suspected 
them to be mostly concealed Roman Catholics; by 
the Cubiculars, as the courtiers were called, because 

* Spottiswood, p. 433. 


they had curtailed their perquisites, and introduced a 
strict economy; and the king, by accepting their 
resignations, believed that he would popularize his 
intended ecclesiastical innovations.* These changes 
he now prefaced by drawing up and circulating 
amongst the different synods and presbyteries, no 
less than fifty-five questions, involving the most im- 
portant points in dispute between himself and his 
clergy ; not, as he solemnly declared, for the purpose 
of troubling the peace of the Kirk by thorny disputes, 
but to have its polity cleared, its corruptions eradicated, 
and a pleasant harmony established between himself 
and its ministers .-f- The spirit and tendency of these 
questions gave great alarm to the brethren. The king 
inquired whether matters of external ecclesiastical 
regimen might not be disputed, salvdfide et religione ; 
whether the prince by himself, or the pastors by them- 
selves, or both conjunctly, should establish the acts 
concerning the government of the Kirk ; whether the 
consent of a majority of the flock, and also of the 
patron, was necessary in the election of pastors ; 
whether there could be a lawful minister without 
impositio manuum ; whether pastors should be permit- 
ted to allude by name to councillors and magistrates 
in the pulpit, or to describe them so minutely as to 
leave no doubt whom they meant, although the parties 
so attacked were guiltless of notorious vices, and had 
not been previously admonished ; whether the pastor 
should be confined to the doctrine directly flowing 
from his text, or might preach all things on all texts ; 
whether the General Assembly of the Kirk might be 
convoked without consent of the prince, he being pius 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Burgbley, 13th Jan., 1596-7. 
t Spottljwood, p. 434. 

1596-7. JAMES vi. 227 

et Christianus Magistrates ; whether it were lawful to 
excommunicate such Papists as had never professed 
the Reformed faith ; whether a Christian prince had 
power to annul a notoriously-unjust sentence of ex- 
communication, and to amend such disorders as might 
occur either by pastors failing in their duties, or by 
one jurisdiction usurping the province of another; 
whether Fasts for general causes might be proclaimed 
without the command of the prince ; whether any 
causes infringing upon the civil jurisdiction, or inter- 
fering with vested private rights, might be disputed 
and ruled in the ecclesiastical courts ; and whether the 
civil magistrate had not a full right to stay all such 
proceedings ? * 

These searching interrogatories were received with 
no inconsiderable dismay by the clergy. They took 
great offence that their forms of ecclesiastical polity, 
which they considered irreversibly fixed by act of 
parliament, and founded, as they contended, on the 
Word of God, which had been so highly eulogized also 
by the king in 1592, should be called in question. 
They saw how acutely the questions had been drawn 
up ; how deeply they touched the independence of the 
Kirk ; what a total revolution and alienation the late 
excesses of the ministers had occasioned in the mind 
of the sovereign, and how earnest and determined he 
seemed in the whole matter. 

All this demanded instant vigilance and resistance. 
Many private conferences were held ; and in the end 
of February the brethren of the Synod of Fife con- 
vened at St Andrews ; where, after " tossing of the 
king's questions for sundry days," they drew up their 
replies, which, as was to be expected, ruled everything 

* Spottiswood, pp. 435, 436. 


in favour of the Kirk, and resisted every claim on the 
part of the king. Some of these answers are remark- 
able, and seem to show that the principles then laid 
down were incompatible with the existence of civil 
government. Thus, the first question, Whether mat- 
ters concerning the external government of the Kirk 
might not be debated salvd fide et religione ? was met 
by a peremptory negative ; on the second, they were 
equally positive that the king had no voice in the 
discussion or establishment of any acts relating to 
Church government. All the acts of the Kirk (so was 
their response worded) ought to be established by the 
Word of God. Of this Word the ordinary inter- 
preters were the pastors and doctors of the Kirk ; the 
extraordinary expounders, such as were called for in 
times of corruption, were the prophets, or such men 
as were endowed by God with extraordinary gifts ; 
and kings and princes had nothing to do but to ratify 
and vindicate, by their civil sanctions, that which 
these pastors and prophets had authoritatively de- 
clared.* As to the indecent and scurrilous practice 
of inveighing against particular men and councillors 
by name in the pulpit, they defended its adoption by 
what they termed apostolic authority. " The canon," 
said they, " of the Apostle is clear : ' They that siii 
publicly, rebuke publicly, that the rest may fear ; ' ' 
and so much the more if the public sin be in a public 
person. On other points they were equally clear and 
decided in favour of their own practices and preten- 
sions. All things, they contended, might be spoken 
on all texts ; and if the minister travelled from his 
subject, he was only following the express directions of 
Paul to Timothy. The General Assembly might be 

* Calderwood, pp. 382, 383. 

1596-7. JAMES vi. 229 

convened without the authority of the king, because 
the officers of the Kirk received their place and war- 
rant directly from Christ, and not from any temporal 
prince ; and the acts passed in that Assembly were 
undoubtedly valid, although carried against the royal 
will. On this question their reasoning was extraor- 
dinary : " The king (they contended) should consent 
to, and give a legal sanction to all acts passed in the 
Assembly ; and why ? Because the acts of the Assem- 
bly have sufficient authority from Christ ; who has 
promised, that whatever shall be agreed upon on 
earth by two or three convened in his name, shall be 
ratified in heaven ; a warrant to which no temporal 
king or prince can lay claim : and so," it continues, 
" the acts and constitutions of the Kirk are of higher 
authority than those of any earthly king ; yea, they 
should command and overrule kings, whose greatest 
honour should be to be members, nursing fathers and 
servants to this king Christ Jesus, and his house and 
queen the Kirk." * To pursue the answers is unneces- 
sary, enough having been given to show their general 
tendency. But the courage of the synod of Fife, by 
whom these stout replies were drawn up, did not per- 
vade the whole body of the Kirk ; and the king, who 
managed the affair with his usual acuteness and dex- 
terity, succeeded in procuring a majority in the General 
Assembly, and ultimately carrying his own views. 

This James appears to have effected by holding out 
hopes of preferment to those who were wavering, and 
packing the General Assembly with a large majority 
of north-country ministers, who were generally esteem- 
ed more lukewarm Presbyterians and more devoted 
courtiers than their lowland brethren. Sir Patrick 

* Calderwood, p. 386. 


Murray, a gentleman of the bedchamber, had been 
sent for this purpose into the north ; and was so suc- 
cessful in his mission, that when the Assembly met 
at Perth, the king found them in a more placable and 
conciliatory mood than could have been anticipated. 
It was declared, after some sharp discussion, a lawful 
Assembly ; having power not only to debate, but to 
conclude such questions as should be brought before 
them. The royal commissioners, Sir John Cockburn, 
Sir John Preston, and Mr Edward Bruce, then pre- 
sented thirteen Articles, which embraced the principal 
points of dispute already included by the king in his 
original Queries ; and a Committee of the Assembly 
having been chosen to consider them, they gave in, 
next morning, a series of answers, which James pro- 
nounced unsatisfactory, and requested the members 
of Assembly to meet the Estates for the purpose of a 
more full discussion. When they appeared, he ob- 
served that they must be well aware of the object for 
which he had desired their attendance. " My pur- 
pose," said he, " in calling you together is to amend 
such things as are amiss, and to take away the ques- 
tions that may move trouble afterwards. If you, for 
your parts, be willing to have matters righted, things 
may yet go well. I claim nothing but what is due to 
every Christian king ; that is, to be Gustos et Vindex 
Disciplince. Corruptions are crept in, and more are 
daily growing, by this liberty that preachers take in 
the application of their doctrine, and censuring every- 
thing that is not to their mind. This I must have 
amended ; for such discourses serve only to move se- 
dition, and raise tumults. Let the Truth of God be 
taught in the Chair of Truth, and wickedness be re- 
probated; but in such sort as the offender may be 

1596-7. JAMES vi. 231 

bettered, and vice made more odious. To rail against 
men in pulpit, and express their names, as we know 
was done of late, there being no just cause; and to 
make the Word of God, which is ordained to guide 
men in the way of salvation;, an instrument of sedi- 
tion ; is a sin, I am sure, beyond all other that can 
be committed on earth. Hold you within your limits, 
and I will never blame you, nor suffer others to work 
you any vexation. The civil government is commit- 
ted to me. It is not your subject; nor are ye to 
meddle with it."* 

This peremptory mode of address overawed the As- 
sembly ; and after protesting that they had convened 
in that place only to evince their obedience to the 
sovereign, and in no wise consenting to submit mat- 
ters ecclesiastical to a civil judicatory, they withdrew 
to their ordinary place of meeting, and prepared their 
amended answers ; with which the king declared him- 
self satisfied for the present. And he had good reason 
to be so ; for he had already gained some principal 
points. It was agreed that the monarch, either by 
himself or his commissioners, might propose to the 
General Assembly any reformation or amendment in 
ecclesiastical matters connected with the external 
government of the Kirk ; that no unusual conven- 
tions should be held amongst pastors without the royal 
consent ; that the acts of the privy-council, or the 
laws passed by the three Estates, should not be at- 
tacked or discussed in the pulpit, without remedy 
having been first sought from the king ; that in the 
principal towns of the realm no minister should be 
chosen without consent of the king, and of the flock ; 
and that no man should be by name rebuked in the 

* Spottis-wood, p. 440. 


pulpit, unless he had fled from justice, or were under 
sentence of excommunication.* 

James' next step was to reconcile the Catholic lords 
to the Kirk; and he was here equally successful. 
He had already written a peremptory letter to Hunt- 
ley, informing him that the time was come when he 
must either embrace the Protestant faith, remain in 
Scotland, and be restored to his honours and his 
estates ; or leave his country for ever, if, as the king 
expressed it in his letter, his conscience were so 
" kittle " -J* as to refuse these conditions ; in which case, 
James added, " Look never to be a Scotsman again ! " 
The letter concluded with these solemn words : 

" Deceive not yourself, to think that by lingering 
of time, your wife and your allies shall ever get you 
better conditions. I must love myself and my own 
estate better than all the world ; and think not that 
I will suffer any professing a contrary religion to dwell 
in this land.":}: 

The conditions presented to Huntley, Angus, and 
Errol, were, that after conference with the Presbyte- 
rian ministers, who should be careful to instruct them 
in the Truth, they should acknowledge the Kirk of 
Scotland to be a true Church, become members of it, 
hear the Word, receive the sacraments, and be obe- 
dient to its discipline ; and that they should banish 
all Jesuits and seminary priests from their company 
and estates, and subscribe the Confession of Faith. 
On the meeting of the General Assembly at Dundee, 
(tenth May, 1597,) the brethren who had been ap- 
pointed for this purpose, reported that the earls had 

* Spottiswood, p. 441. 
"\ i. e., So ticklish or tender. 

J Original in the king's hand, Warren der MS S., vol. A., p. 169. Printed 
by Spottiswood, with some words and sentences omitted. 

1597. JAMES vi. 233 

recanted their errors, subscribed the Confession of 
Faith, and so completely fulfilled all the conditions 
required of them, that nothing more remained, than 
the pleasing duty of receiving them once more into 
communion with the Kirk. But, at the very moment 
of reconciliation, it was found that Mr James Gordon, 
a Jesuit, had glided in disguise into the country of 
Huntley, and was busy in shaking his resolution ; 
whilst a daring Catholic baron, named Barclay of Lady- 
land, seized and fortified Ailsa, a small island in the 
shape of a huge, rugged rock, off the coast of Ayr, 
with the design of delivering it to the Spaniards, who 
had promised to make a descent in that quarter. This 
desperate enterprise was defeated by Mr Andrew Knox, 
minister of Paisley, whose prowess had been shown 
some five years before this, in seizing George Ker with 
the Spanish Blanks.* With like success, this de- 
voted member of the Kirk having discovered Barclay's 
plot, girded on his sword ; and taking boat, with a 
few daring assistants, attacked the traitor on his rock, 
and reduced him to such extremity, that rather than 
be taken alive he rushed into the sea, and in one mo- 
ment choked both himself and his treason.-f- 

This reverse confirmed the Catholic lords in their 
convictions ; and the ceremony of their reconciliation 
to the Kirk, and restoration to their estates and hon- 
ours, took place at Aberdeen in the end of June. As 
it was an event particularly acceptable to the king, 
and considered a great triumph by the Kirk, the 
proceedings were conducted with much solemnity. 
After a strict Fast, held on Saturday the twenty-fifth 
of June, on which day the three earls, Huntley, Angus, 

* Supra, p. 66-67. 

t Spottiswood, p. 445. MS. State-paper Office, -without date. 


ind Errol, made trp all deadly quarrels, and shook 
hands with their enemies, mutually imploring and re- 
ceiving forgiveness ; the congregation assembled on 
Sunday the twenty-sixth in the old Kirk at Aberdeen, 
which was crowded with the noblemen, barons, and 
common people. In the main aisle was a table for the 
sacrament of the Lord's Supper ; and immediately 
before the sermon, the three earls rose from their 
places, and subscribed the Confession of Faith. The 
sermon followed, preached by Mr John Gledstanes ; 
after which the earls rose, and with a loud voice made 
open confession of their late defection and apostacy, 
professing their present conviction of the truth of the 
Presbyterian faith, and their resolution to remain 
steadfast in the same. Huntley then declared before 
God, his majesty, and the Kirk, his deep penitence 
for the murder of the Earl of Moray ; after which 
the three noble delinquents were absolved from the 
sentence of excommunication, and received by the min- 
isters, the royal commissioner, and the provost and 
magistrates, into the bosom of the Kirk. A person 
in the dress of a penitent now threw himself on his 
knees before the pulpit : it was the Laird of Gicht, 
who implored pardon for his supporting Bothwell, and 
entreated to be released from his sentence of excom- 
munication. All this was granted. The repentant 
earls then received the sacrament after the Presbyte- 
rian form ; solemnly swore to keep good order in their 
wide and wild territories, executing justice, destroying 
" bangsters," and showing themselves, in all respects, 
"good justiciars ; " and, on the succeeding day, March- 
mont Herald proclaimed their reconciliation by sound of 
trumpet at the Cross, which was hung with tapestry, 

1597. JAMES VI. 235 

and surrounded by multitudes, who shouted their joy, 
drank their healths, and tossed their glasses in the air.* 
This success gave strength to the king's govern- 
ment, and encouraged James to go forward with his 
great ecclesiastical project ; but he proceeded with 
caution, and took care not to alarm the Kirk by pre- 
maturely disclosing the full extent of his reforms. 
He had now secured in his interest a large party of 
the ministers ; but the elements of democracy, and 
the hatred of anything approaching to a hierarchy, 
were still deeply rooted in the General Assembly, and 
in the hearts of the people. Mr Andrew Melvil, 
Principal of the College of St Andrews, a man singu- 
larly learn ed> ready in debate, sarcastic, audacious, 
and overbearing, led the popular party, with his 
nephew, James Melvil, who was warmly attached to 
the same principles, but of a gentler spirit. Many 
others assisted them ; and the king, anxious to get 
rid of their opposition, proposed that, instead of the 
whole Assembly continuing its proceedings, a general 
commission should be granted to some of the wisest 
amongst the brethren, who might consult and cooper- 
ate with the monarch upon various matters of weight 
which concerned " not only particular flocks, but the 
whole estate and body of the Kirk."*f* This was 
agreed to. Fourteen ministers were chosen, most of 

o 7 

whom were known to be favourable to the views of 
the court ; and these, whom Calderwood the popular 
historian of the Kirk stigmatizes as the " king's led 
horse" convened soon after at Falkland, where they 
summoned before them the presbytery of St Andrews, 

* Thomas Mollison to Mr Robert Paip, Aberdeen, 28th June, 1597. 
Analeeta Scotica, p. 299. 
t Calderwood, p. 409. 


and gave a specimen of their new power, by reversing 
a judgment pronounced by the presbytery of St An- 
drews, and removing from their charge two ministers 
named Wallace and Black, who had profaned their 
pulpits by personal attack and vituperation. This 
was followed by a strict and searching visitation of 
the university of St Andrews, the stronghold of its 
rector, Mr Andrew Melvil ; who in his office of Prin- 
cipal had, as the king conceived, been too busy in 
disseminating amongst the students his favourite 
principles of ministerial parity and popular power. 
A new rector was elected ; a certain mode of teaching 
prescribed to the several professors ; and a more strict 
economy introduced into the disposal of the rents of 
the university, by the appointment of a financial 

During the summer and autumn, James was busily 
occupied with the trial of witches, and an expedition 
to the Borders ; in which last he acted with great 
energy. Fourteen of the most notorious offenders 
were taken and hanged ; thirty-six of the principal 
barons, Avho had encouraged their outrages, seized and 
brought prisoners to the capital ; and Lord Ochiltree 
left as lieutenant and warden over the disturbed dis- 
tricts. Parliament now assembled, and opened with 
some proceedings on the part of the king, which showed 
an alienation from England. In an oration to his 
nobility, he dwelt on the wrongs he had received in 
the execution of his mother ; the interruption in 
the payment of his gratuity ; the scornful answers 
returned to his temperate remonstrance ; the unjust 
imputations of Elizabeth, who accused him of excit- 
ing Poland and Denmark against her, and fostering 
rebellion in Ireland. But what had most deeply 

1597. JAMES vi. 237 

offended him, was the attempt made recently in the 
English parliament to defeat his title to the throne 
of that kingdom ; a subject upon which, owing to the 
daily reports of the shattered health of the queen, 
he had become more keenly sensitive than ever.* 
Against all this it was evident he now resolved to be 


timely on his guard ; but, in the meantime, his mind 
was full of that great plan which had so long occupied 
it : the establishment of the order of bishops. For 
this all was now ripe ; and when the commissioners 
of the Kirk laid their petition before parliament, one 
of its requisitions was found to be as follows : " That 
the ministers, as representing the Church and third 
estate of the kingdom, might be admitted to have a 
voice in parliament." 

It was at once seen that under this application, 
which had been so artfully managed to come not from 
the king but the Kirk, the first step was made for 
restoring the order of bishops. The monarch, indeed, 
did not now deny it. He knew that he had a majority 
in the Assembly, and looked for an easy victory ; but 
something of the ancient courage and fervour of Pres- 
byterianism remained. Ferguson, now venerable from 
his age and experience, lifted up his testimony against 
the project for bringing his brethren into parliament. 
It was, he affirmed, a court stratagem ; and if they 
suffered it to succeed, would be as fatal, from what it 
carried within its bowels, as the horse to the unhappy 
Trojans. Let the words, said he, of the Dardan pro- 
phetess ring in your ears, " Equo ne credite Teiicri!" 
Andrew Melvil, whom the court party had in vain 
attempted to exclude, argued against the petition in 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, George Nicolson to Sir R. Cecil, loth* 
December, 1597. 


his wonted rapid and powerful style ; and John Da- 
vison, tearing away from the king's speech, and the 
arguments of his adherents, the thin veil with which 
their ultimate design was covered, pointed, in a strain 
of witty and biting irony, to the future bench of bishops, 
and their primate at their head. " Busk him, busk 
him, 1 ' said he, " as bonnilie as ye can, and fetch him 
in as fairly as ye will we ken him weel eneuch ; we 
see the horns of his mitre."* But these were insu- 
lated efforts ; and had so little effect, that the king, 
without difficulty, procured an act to be passed, which 
declared, " That such pastors and ministers as the 
crown provided to the place and dignity of a bishop, 
abbot, or other prelate, should have voice in parlia- 
ment as freely as any other ecclesiastical prelate had 
in any former age." { 

A General Assembly was soon after convened, in 
which the subject was solemnly argued in the king's 
presence, first by a committee of brethren, and after- 
wards by the whole Church. J As a preparation for 
this, James had tried every method of conciliation. 
He had extended his forgiveness to the ministers of 
Edinburgh for their part in the late tumult : he had 
restored their privileges, and the comfort of his royal 
presence and pardon, to the magistrates and the citi- 
zens of the capital ; not, however, without having first 
imposed on them a heavy fine. To those stern and 
courageous supporters of the Presbyterian establish- 
ment, whose presence he dreaded, other methods were 
used. Mr Andrew Melvil, who pleaded a right to be 
present in the Assembly, as he had a " doctoral charge 

* Calderwood, p. 415. Busk, dress ; bonnilie, prettily ; ken, know ; 
eneuch, enough. 

t Spottiswood, p. 450. J 7th March, 1597-8. 

1 597-8. JAMES VI. 2.39 

in the Kirk, 1 ' was commanded, under pain of treason, 
to leave the city ; others, whose subserviency was 
doubtful, were wearied out and induced to retire by 
lengthened preliminary discussions ; and at last the 
king opened his great project in a studied harangue. 
He dwelt on his constant care to adorn and favour the 
Kirk, to remove controversies, restore discipline, and 
increase its patrimony. All, he said, was in a fair 
road to success ; but in order to ensure it and perfect 
the reform, it was absolutely requisite that ministers 
should have a vote in parliament : without which, the 
Kirk could not be saved from falling into poverty and 
contempt. " I mean not," said he, emphatically, " to 
bring in Papistical or Anglican bishops, but only that 
the best and wisest of the ministry should be selected 
by your Assembly to have a place in council and par- 
liament, to sit upon their own affairs, and not to stand 
always at the door like poor supplicants, utterly de- 
spised and disregarded." * A keen argument followed. 
Mr James Melvil, Davison, Bruce, Carmichael, and 
Aird, all devoted and talented ministers, spoke against 
the project, and denounced it in the strongest lan- 
guage. On the other side the brunt of the battle, in 
its defence, fell on Gledstanes, and the king himself, 
no mean adept in ecclesiastical polemics ; but, if we 
may believe Calderwood, the main element of success 
was the presence of the northern brethren ; whom this 
historian describes as a sad, subservient rabble, led 
by Mr Gilbert Bodie, " a drunken Orkney ass," whose 
name described their character : all being for the body, 
with small regard to the spirit, -f- In the end the 
question was carried by a majority of ten : the Assem- 
bly finding that it was expedient for the good of the 

* Calderwood, p. 4l& f Id. p. 419. 


Kirk that the ministers, as the third estate of the 
realm, should have a vote in parliament; that the 
same number, being fifty- one or thereby, should be 
chosen, as were wont of old in time of the Papistical 
Kirk, to be bishops, abbots, and priors ; and that 
their election should belong partly to the king and 
partly to the Kirk.* 

This resolution was adopted in March 1597-8 ; but 
the final establishment of Episcopacy did not take place 
till more than a twelvemonth after this, in a General 
Assembly convoked at Montrose on the twenty-eighth 
March, 1 600. On that occasion, it was decided that 
the king should choose each bishop, for every place that 
was to be filled, out of a leet or body of six, selected by 
the Kirk. Various caveats, or conditions, were added, 
to secure the Kirk against any abuse of their powers by 
these new dignitaries. They were to propound nothing 
in parliament, in name of the Kirk, without its special 
warrant and direction. They were, at every General 
Assembly, to give an account of the manner in which 
they had executed their commission ; they were to be 
contented with such part of their benefices as the king 
had assigned for their living ; to eschew dilapidation ; 
to attend faithfully on their individual flocks ; to 
claim no higher power than the rest of their brethren 
in matters of discipline, visitation, and other points of 
ecclesiastical government ; and lastly, to be as obe- 
dient to authority, and amenable to censure in all 
presbyteries and provincial or General Assemblies, 
as the humblest minister of the Kirk.^ As to the 
names of these new dignitaries, the word bishop was 
apparently so odious and repugnant to the people, that 
the king did not deem it prudent to insist on its adop- 

* Calderwood, pp. 420, 421. f Ibid., p. 441. 

1597-8. JAMES vi. 241 

tion ; and the brethren unanimously advised that they 
should not be called bishops, but commissioners. 
James was too well satisfied with the reality of his 
success in carrying his great scheme to so prosperous 
an issue, to cavil at this shadow of opposition ; and 
the subject was handed over to the next General As- 
sembly. The feelings with which this triumph of pre- 
latical principles was regarded by the sincere and stern 
adherents of Puritanism and parity, will be best under- 
stood by this brief extract from the work of one of its 
ablest advocates, the historian Calderwood : " Thus," 
says he, " the Trojan horse, the Episcopacy, was 
brought in, covered with caveats, that the danger 
might not be seen ; which, notwithstanding, was seen 
of many, and opponed unto ; considering it to be bet- 
ter to hold thieves at the door, than to have an eye 
unto them in the house, that they steal not : and, in- 
deed, the event declared that their fear was not with- 
out just cause : for those commissioners voters in par- 
liament, afterwards bishops, did violate their caveats 
as easily as Sampson did the cords wherewith he was 
bound." * 

* Caldenvoocl, p. 441. 





CHAP. V.- 




Henry IV. 

Rudolph II. 

Philip II. 
Philip III. 

Philip II. 
Philip III. 

Clement VIII. 

HAVING thus continuously traced the establishment 
in Scotland of this limited Episcopacy, we must look 
back for a moment on the civil history of the country. 
This was not marked by any great or striking events. 
There was no external war, and no internal rebellion 
or commotion ; and the success which had attended 
all the late measures of the king produced a tranquil- 
lity in the country, which had the best effects on its 
general prosperity. James had triumphed over the 
extreme license and democratic movements of the 
Kirk ; had restrained the personal attacks of its pul- 
pit ; defined, with something of precision, the limits 
between the civil and ecclesiastical jurisdictions ; 
evinced an anxiety to raise the character and useful- 
ness of the clergy, by granting them a fixed provision ; 
and added consideration and dignity to the Presbyte- 
rian polity, by giving it a representation in the great 
council of the country. He had, on the other hand, 
shown equal wisdom and determination in his conduct 

1597-8. JAMES vi. 243 

to the Roman Catholic earls. None could say that 
he had acted a lukewarm part to religion. These 
nobles remained in the country, and had been restored 
to their estates and honours solely because they were 
reconciled to the Church. According to the better 
principles of our own times, he had acted with extra- 
ordinary severity and intolerance ; but even the high- 
est and hottest Puritan of these unhappy days could 
not justly accuse him of indifference. He had, more- 
over, strengthened his aristocracy by healing its 
wounds, removing or binding up the feuds which tore 
it, and restoring to it three of its greatest members, 
Huntley, Angus, and Errol. He had punished, with 
exemplary severity, the tumult which had been ex- 
cited in his capital, and read a lesson of obedience to 
the magistrates and middle orders, which they were 
not likely to forget. Lastly, he had, in a personal 
expedition, reduced his Borders to tranquillity ; and 
in his intercourse with England, had shown that, 
whilst he was determined to preserve peace, he was 
equally resolved to maintain his independence, and to 
check that spirit of restless intrigue and interference in 
which the English ambassadors at the Scottish court 
had, for so many years, indulged with blameable im- 
punity. Sir Robert Bowes, who had long filled that 
difficult and dangerous office, had recently died at 
Berwick, a victim apparently to its anxieties ; and 
having undergone, during his devoted services, the 
same trials of penury and neglect which, with scarcely 
one exception, seem to have been the portion of his royal 
mistress 1 ambassadors and diplomatic agents.* On 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir Robert Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 
llth May, 1597. 

In the last letter but one -which Sir Robert Bowes addressed to Cecil 
from Edinburgh, there is this pathetic passage: " Her majesty's gracious 


the eleventh of May he had written to his sovereign, 
imploring his recall, and lamenting that his decay in 
health, and weakness in body and estate, unfitted 
him for farther labour ; but his remonstrance was in- 
effectual : and it was not till nearly six months after, 
that an order arrived, permitting him to retire, and 
naming Sir William Bowes as his successor. The 
release, however, came too late. He was then unable 
to stand from weakness ; and he only reached Ber- 
wick to expire.* The duties of his office, in the 
meantime, devolved upon Mr George Nicolson, his 
secretary, a man of ability, whose letters contain 
much that is valuable in the history of the times. 

On the arrival of Sir William Bowes at the Scot- 
tish court, he found the kijig^ mind entirely occupied 
by one great subject his title to the English throne 
after the death of the queen. On this point the tran- 
quillity from other cares now gave James full leisure 
for thought ; and he evinced an extreme sensitiveness 
in everything connected with it. Reports of speeches 
against his right of succession in the English parlia- 
ment ; books written in favour of the claim of the 
Infanta; intrigues of pretenders at home; the jealousy 
with which the Catholics regarded his reconciliation 
with the Kirk ; the suspicion with which the Kirk 
observed his favour to the Catholics : all these thorny 

compassion taken of me, and of my weakness, is great comfort unto me in 
my present distress, wherein I now lie, at the seat of God's mercy, and at 
the point of life, death, sickness, or recovery ; in which, as I shall fare, you 
shall be shortly advertised. For albeit I had intended this day to have en- 
tered my journey towards Berwick ; yet, by the advice of my friends, and 
in respect of my weakness disabling me to stand without help, I have 
agreed to defer this journey until to-morrow." MS. Letter, State-paper 
Office, Sir R. Bowes to Sir R. Cecil, 31st October, 1597. 

* His last letter is written from Berwick to Sir R. Cecil on the 6th of 
November, 1597. He died on the 16th of the same month. In the State- 
paper Office is preserved a fly-leaf, with a printed epitaph on Sir R. Bowes, 
by Mr William Fowler, secretary to Queen Anne of Denmark. 

1597-8. JAMES VI. 245 

matters perpetually haunted and harassed him. From 
his observations, the ambassador dreaded that the 
royal mind was beginning to be alienated from Eng- 
land ; and in his first interview James certainly ex- 
pressed himself with some bitterness against Elizabeth. 
The expostulations addressed to him by his good 
sister, he said, were unnecessarily sharp. She accused 
him of diminished friendliness, of foreign predilections, 
of credulity and forwardness; but he must retort these 
epithets, for he had found herself too ready to believe 
what was untrue, and to condemn him unheard. It 
was true that, when he saw other competitors for the 
crown of England endeavouring, in every way, to 
advance their own titles, and even making personal 
applications to the queen, he had begun to think it 
time to look to his just claim, and to interest his 
friends in his behalf. It was with this view he had 
required assistance from his people to furnish ambas- 
sadors to various foreign powers. This, surely, he 
was entitled to do ; but anything which had been re- 
ported of him beyond this was false : and his desire to 
entertain all kindly offices with his good sister of Eng- 
land continued as strong as it had been during his 
whole life.* Elizabeth, however, was not satisfied : 
she still suspected that the Scottish court was inimical 
to England ; and these suspicions were increased by 
the letters of Nicolson her agent. James was said to 
be much guided by the opinions of Elphinstone, Se- 
cretary of State, who was little attached to English 
interests. There was the warmest friendship between 
the Scottish queen, Anne of Denmark, and the Coun- 
tess of Huntley, a devoted Catholic. They often slept 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir William Bowes to SirR. Cecil, 1st 
February, 1597-8. 


in the same bed ; and this favoured lady, as Nicolson 
quaintly expressed it, had the "plurality of her majes- 
ty's kisses."* The two young princesses were in- 
trusted to Lady Livingstone, a Catholic ; many 
things, in short, concurred to show, that although 
appearances were preserved that the king might not 
forfeit his English " gratuity," cordiality was at end. 
At this moment a strange circumstance occurred, 
which exasperated the feelings of both monarchs. A 
miscreant, named Valentine Thomas, accused James 
of employing him in a plot against the life of Eliza- 
beth ; and it was at first whispered, and afterwards 
more plainly asserted at the Scottish court, that the 
queen, though she did not choose to speak openly, 
believed the accusation. Some dark expressions which 
she used in a letter to the king seemed to countenance 
this idea ; and it was certain that she had employed Sir 
Edward Coke, Sir Francis Bacon, and other judges, 
in the investigation. James resented this, and in- 
sisted on explanations. It was needless in him, he 
said, to disclaim "such vile intended murder;" but 
he demanded the fullest investigation, and the severest 
punishment of the wretch who had so foully slandered 
him. He would proclaim it as false to all the world 
by sound of trumpet, by open challenge, in any num- 
ber ; yea of a king to a king ! When his late ambas- 
sador to England attempted to pacify him, he struck 
him on the breast, and said he was sure there was a 
chain of Elizabeth's under his doublet. It was in 
vain that, to appease him, the Queen of England 
wrote a letter with her own hand, in which she as- 
sured him, that she was not " of so viperous a nature" 
as to harbour a thought against him ; and that the 

* MS. State-paper Office, Occurrences, 2d February, 1597-8. 

1598. JAMES vi. 247 

deviser of such abominable slander should have his 
deserts.* Even this was not enough. The accusa- 
tion had been public ; the depositions of the villain 
remained uncancelled ; who could say what use might 
not be made of them against his future rights, and to 
prejudice him in the hearts of the English people ? 
Here was the sore point ; and James did not cease to 
remonstrate till he had extorted from the queen a 
solemn and formal refutation of the whole story. 

The subject of his title, indeed, had kept the mon- 
arch, for the last three years, in a state of perpetual 
and irritable activity. He encouraged authors to 
write upon the question ; and jurisconsults, heralds, 
and genealogists, made their harvest of his anxiety. 
Monsieur Jessb, a French literary adventurer, who in 
1596 visited the Scottish court, was made Historio- 
graphe au Hoi d'Escosse, and commanded to "blaw 
abroad " Secretary Elphinstone's discourse on his 
majesty's title. Walter Quin, an Irish poet and 
scholar, drew up a work in Latin on the same subject. 
Monsieur Damon, another Frenchman, corrected it ; 
and the king sent the manuscript to Waldegrave, his 
printer, who, in an agony, declared to Nicolson, that 
he must either print it, and irrecoverably offend his 
gracious sovereign Queen Elizabeth, or refuse, at the 
peril of his life. Nor was this all ; James was sud- 
denly seized with the most sensitive feelings on the 
subject of his royal mother's memory. His claims 
came through her ; and slander on the Queen of Scots 
might taint the transmitted title. Spenser, as it was 
asserted, had glanced at her under, the character of 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, llth May, 1598, Nicolson to Burghley. 
MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Royal Letters, Scotland, Elizabeth to James, 
1st July, 1598. 


Duessa in his Fairy Queen ; and the Scottish Secre- 
tary of State insisted that Edward Spenser, (the 
diplomatist did not even know the immortal poet's 
name.) should be severely punished. Quin, too, came 
to the rescue, and wrote an answer to Spenser; whilst 
" Dickson," an English pedagogue, who taught the 
Art of Memory, forsook his ferula, and found in Scot- 
land a more profitable employment in answering the 
famous Treatise of Doleman, or rather Father Persons, 
from materials furnished by the king himself.* 

These constant cares were only interrupted by the 
alarming increase of witches and sorcerers, who were 
said to be swarming in thousands in the kingdom ; and 
for a moment all other cares were forgotten in the 
intensity with which the monarch threw himself once 
more into his favourite subject. But a shocking dis- 
covery put an end to this dreadful inquisition. An 
unhappy creature, named Aitken, was seized on sus- 
picion, put to torture, and in her agony confessed 
herself guilty, named some associates, and offered to 
purge the country of the whole crew, if she were pro- 
mised her life. It was granted her ; and she declared 
that she knew witches at once by a secret mark in 
their eyes, which could not possibly be mistaken. The 
tale was swallowed. She was carried for months from 
town to town throughout the country, and in this 
diabolical circuit accused many innocent women, who, 
on little more than the evidence of a look, were tried 
and burnt. At last suspicion was roused. A woman, 
whom she had convicted of having the devil's eye- 
mark, was disguised, and, after an interval, again 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 25th Feb., 1597-8. 
MS. Advocates' Library, Edinburgh, Balcarres Papers, vol. vii. pp. 26, 29, 
The king to the secretary 

15i'S. JAMES VI. 249 

brought before her ; she acquitted her. The experi- 
ment was repeated with like success ; and the miser- 
able creature, falling on her knees, confessed that 
torture had made her a liar, both against herself and 
others. This, as it well might, brought the royal 
inquisitionist of sorcery, and his civil and ecclesiastical 
assistants, to their senses. The Commission of Inquiry 
was recalled, and all proceedings against the witches 
discharged till the parliament should have determined 
the form and evidence to be adopted in their trial.* 

Everything was now tranquil in the southern part 
of the kingdom ; and the whole Estate, to use Nicol- 
son"s expression to Cecil, so "marvellous quiet," -f- that 
the king had leisure to attend to an important and long- 
neglected subject : the condition of the Highlands and 
Isles. It had, for some time, been James 1 intention 
to visit these remote districts in person, and, as usual, 
to overawe them by the terror of the royal name, 
backed by an army and a fleet ; but year after year 
had passed, and nothing was done. His impoverished 
finances, his quarrel with the Kirk, his entanglements 
with the Papist earls, his embassies to foreign courts 
on the subject of his title, all these engrossed his 
attention ; and the fragments of leisure which remained 
were filled up by the witches, and a visit made to Scot- 
land by the Duke of Holstein, the brother of his queen, 
which seems to have thrown the court into a perpetual 
whirl of pageantry, intoxication, and masquerade. The 
people, according to Nicolson, groaned at the expense ; 
and his majesty was much distempered both in his 
privy purse and his digestion. But these revels and 

* Spottiswood, p. 448. MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Cecil, 
15th August, 1597. Same to same, 5th September, 1597. 

+ MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 20th Nov., 1598. 
J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 9th June, 1598. 


potations had at last an end. The joyous Dane took 
leave ; and the royal mind, relapsing into sobriety, 
turned to the Isles and Donald Gorm Macdonald. 
This potent Highland chieftain had recently made 
advances to Elizabeth ; and it is not uninteresting to 
remark the stateliness with which a prince amongst 
the northern viklngr approached the English Semira- 
mis. He styled himself Lord of the Isles of Scotland, 
and Chief of the Clandonnel Irishmen ; and after a 
proud enumeration of the petty island princes and 
chiefs who were ready to follow him in all his enter- 
prises, he offered, upon certain " reasonable motives and 
considerations" to embrace the service of the Queen of 
England, and persuade the Isles to throw off all alle- 
giance to the Scottish crown. He and his associates 
were ready, they declared, on a brief warning, to stir 
up rebellion throughout all the bounds of the main- 
land, to " fasche" 1 ' '* 'his majesty, and weary the whole 
Estates ; to create a necessity for new taxation, and 
thus disgust all classes of his subjects. To induce 
Elizabeth to embrace these proposals, Donald informed 
the queen,- that he knew the secret history of the Scot- 
tish king^s intercourse with her arch-rebel Tyrone, 
and could lay before her the whole intrigues of the 
Catholic earls lately reconciled to the Kirk, but " mean- 
ing nothing less in their hearts than that which they 
showed outwardly to the world." He would disclose, 
also, he said, the secret history of the Spanish practices 
in Scotland ; and prove with what activity the north- 
ern Jesuits and seminary priests had been weaving 
their meshes, and pushing forward " their diabolical, 
pestiferous, and antichristian courses;" which he, 
Donald Gorm Macdonald, protested before God and 

* Trouble. 

1598. JAMES VI. 251 

his angels he detested with his whole soul. All this 
he was ready to do, upon " good deservings and honest 
courtesies," to be offered him by the Queen of Eng- 
land ; to whose presence he promised to repair upon a 
moment's warning.* 

What answer was given by the English queen to 
these generous and disinterested proposals does not 
appear; although the letter of Donald Gorm, who 
made it, is marked in many places by Burghley with 
the trembling hand of sickness and old age. It is pro- 
bable, that under the term " honest courtesies" more 
substantial rewards were found to be meant than Eliza- 
beth was willing to bestow ; and that the perpetual 
feuds, massacres, and conspiracies which occurred 
amongst these Highland chiefs and their followers, 
disgusted this princess, and shook her confidence in 
any treaties or alliances proposed by such savage aux- 
iliaries. It was in one of these barbarous plots that 
Maclean of Duart, a firm friend of Elizabeth, with 
whose warlike exploits we are already acquainted, met 
his death ; [ being treacherously slain in Isla, by his 
nephew, Sir James Macdonald, who persuaded him to 
visit the island ; alleging, as a pretext, his desire to 
make an amicable settlement of their differences. So 
little did the brave Lord of Duart suspect any foul 
play, that he came to the meeting without armour, in 
a silk dress, and with only a rapier at his side. Along 
with him were his second son, and the best of his kin, 
in their holiday garb, and with little other arms than 
their hunting-knives and boar-spears : but although 
set upon by an ambush of nearly seven hundred men, 

* MS. State-paper Office, indorsed by Burghley " Donald Gorm Mac- 
donald," March, 1598. 

+ MS. Letter, State- paper Office, Nicolson to Sir R. Cecil, 10th August, 
1598. Supra, pp. 150, 178. 


they made a desperate defence. Maclean, a man of 
herculean strength, slew three of the Macdonalds at 
the first onset. When he saw there was no hope, he 
commanded his son, who fought beside him, to fly, 
and live to avenge him; * but the chief himself, and a 
little knot of his clansmen, stood, shoulder to shoulder, 
and were not cut down till after fifty of their assailants 
had fallen. 

The death of this great chief was little resented by 
the king : for James had long been jealous of his deal- 
ings with Elizabeth, and his bitter hostility to Hunt- 
ley; whilst, at this moment, Sir James Macdonald of 
Dunluce, his murderer, was in high favour at the Scot- 
tish court. -f- This Macdonald, known in Irish history 
as James Macsorlie, had been long a thorn in the side 
of England, stirring up rebellion in Ireland, and offer- 
ing his services to James as an active partisan both in 
Spanish and Scottish affairs. Macsorlie seems to have 
been a perfect specimen of those Scoto-Hebridean 
barons who so often concealed the ferocity of the High- 
land freebooter under the polished exterior which they 
had acquired by an occasional residence in the low 
country. It was his pleasure sometimes to join the 
court at Falkland or Holyrood, mingle in its festivities, 
give rich presents to the queen and her ladies, out- 
shine the gayest, and fascinate all observers by the 
splendour of his tastes and the elegance of his man- 
ners; J but suddenly would come a message from some 
Highland ally, and Macsorlie flew back to his native 
islands, where, the moment his foot touched the 

* The present Earl Compton, eldest son of the Marquess Northampton, 
is descended, through his mother, the late amiable and accomplished Lady 
Compton, from this second son. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 10th Aug., 1598. 

J Analecta Scotica, p. 105, Sir John Skene to the Lord Secretary. 

159S. JAMES VI. 253 

heather, the gay courtier became a rampant and blood- 
bolstered savage. Macsorlie had, for years, been the 
ally of Tyrone, and the soul of the resistance in Ire- 
land ; and Elizabeth resented the favour shown him 
by James; who replied, " That if his convicted traitors, 
Bothwell and Col vile, walked the streets of her capital, 
he was as free to entertain an island chief who owed 
her no allegiance, and whose assistance was useful to 
him in reducing the remote Highland districts which 
had insolently assumed independence."* 

So dreadful, indeed, was now the state of those por- 
tions of his dominions, that, to prevent an utter dis- 
severing from the Scottish crown, something must be 
done ; and many were the projects suggested. At 
one time the king resolved to proceed to the disturbed 
districts in person, and fix his head-quarters in Ken- 
tire ; at another, a deputy was to be sent, armed with 
regal powers ; and twice the Duke of Lennox was 
nominated to this arduous office. *f The old plan, too, 
night have been repeated, of granting a royal Com- 
mission to one or other of the northern Reguli, who 
were ever prepared, under the plea of loyalty, to 
strengthen their own hands, and exterminate their 
brethren ; but this, as had been often felt before, was 
to abandon the country to utter devastation ; and a 
more pacific and singular policy was now adopted. 
An association of Lowland barons, chiefly from Fife, 
took a lease from the crown of the Isle of Lewis, for 
which they agreed, after seven years' possession, to 
give the king an annual-rent of one hundred and forty 
chalders of victual; and came under an obligation to 
conquer their farm at their own charges. Another 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 16th August, 1598. 
f- Gregory's History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland, 
pp. 267, 283. 


company of noblemen and gentlemen in Lothian offered, 
under a similar agreement, to subdue Skye. And this 
kind of feudal joint-stock company actually commenced 
their operations with a force of six hundred soldiers, 
and a motley multitude of farmers, ploughmen, artifi- 
cers, and pedlers. But the Celtic population and their 
haughty chiefs, could not consent to be handed over, 
in this wholesale fashion, to the tender mercies and 
agricultural lectures of a set of Saxon adventurers. 
The Lowland barons arrived, only to be attacked with 
the utmost fury, and to have the leases of their farms, 
in the old Douglas phrase, written on their own skins 
with steel pens and bloody ink. For a time, however, 
they continued the struggle ; and having entered into 
alliance with some of the native chiefs, fought the 
Celts with their own weapons, and more than their 
own ferocity. Instead of agricultural or pastoral pro- 
duce, importations of wool, or samples of grain, from 
the infant colony, there was sent to the Scottish court 
a ghastly cargo of twelve human heads in sacks ; and 
it was hoped that, after such an example of severity, 
matters might succeed better. But the settlers were 
deceived. After a feeble and protracted struggle of a 
few years, sickness and famine, perils by land, and 
perils by water, incessant war, and frequent assassina- 
tions, destroyed the colony; and the three great 
northern chiefs, Macdonald of Sleat, Macleod of Har- 
ris, and Mackenzie of Kintail, enjoyed the delight of 
seeing the principal gentlemen adventurers made 
captive by Tormod Macleod; who, after extorting 
from them a renunciation of their titles, and an oath 
never to return to the Lewis, dismissed them to carry 
to the Scottish court the melancholy reflection, that 
a Celtic population, and the islands over which it was 

1598. JAMES VI. 255 

scattered, were not yet the materials or the field for 
the operations of the economists of Fife and Mid- 

The king^s recent triumph over the ministers ; the 
vigour with which he had brought the bishops into 
parliament, and compelled his nobles to renounce their 
blood-feuds ; seem to have persuaded him that his will 
and prerogative were to bear down all before him ; but 
a slight circumstance now occurred which, had he been 

O ' 

accustomed to watch such political indications, might 
have been full of warning and instruction. The magis- 
trates of Edinburgh had arrested an offender: he was 
rescued by one of the servants of the king. The magis- 
trates prosecuted the rescuer, and compelled him to 
give assurance that he would deliver the original cul- 
prit ; but the courtier failed in his promise, and the 
civic authorities seized him and sent him to prison. 
An outcry arose. It was deemed disgraceful that an 
officer of the royal household, a gentleman responsible 
solely to the king, should be clapt up in jail by a set 
of burghers and bailies. James interfered, and com- 
manded his servant to be set free ; but the bailies re- 
fused. The monarch sent a more angry message ; it 
was met by a still firmer reply: the provost and magis- 
trates declared that they were ready to resign their 
offices into the king^s hands; as long, however, as they 
kept them, they would do their duty. James was 
much enraged, but cooled, and digested the affront.-f 
Within a fortnight after, however, arose a more 
serious dispute between the crown and the Court of 
Session, the supreme court of judicature, in which 

* Gregory's History of the Western Highlands and Isles of Scotland, 
p. 290-299. MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 1st July, 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, '2"th Feb., 1598-9. 


its president, Sir Alexander Seton, and the majority 
of the judges, exhibited a spirit of independence which 
is well worthy of being recorded. The subject of quar- 
rel was a judgment pronounced by the court in favour 
of the celebrated minister of the Kirk, Mr Robert 
Bruce, who had been deprived of his stipend by the 
king. Bruce sued the crown before the Session, and 
obtained a decision in his favour. The monarch ap- 
pealed; came to the court in person; pleaded his own 
cause with the utmost violence, and commanded the 
judges to give their vote against Mr Robert. The 
President Seton then rose : " My liege, 11 said he, " it 
is my part to speak first in this court, of which your 
highness has made me head. You are our king ; we, 
your subjects, bound and ready to obey you from the 
heart, and, with all devotion, to serve you with our 
lives and substance : but this is a matter of law, in 
which we are sworn to do justice according to our con- 
science and the statutes of the realm. Your majesty 
may, indeed, command us to the contrary ; in which 
case I and every honest man on this bench, will either 
vote according to conscience, or resign and not vote at 
all." Another of the judges, Lord Newbattle, then 
rose, and observed, " That it had been spoken in the 
city, to his majesty's great slander, and theirs who 
were his judges, that they dared not do justice to all 
classes, but were compelled to vote as the king com- 
manded : a foul imputation, to which the lie that day 
should be given ; for they would now deliver a unani- 
mous opinion against the crown." For this brave and 
dignified conduct James was unprepared ; and he pro- 
ceeded to reason long and earnestly with the recusants: 
but persuasions, arguments, taunts, and threats, were 
unavailing. The judges, with only two dissentient 

1598-9. JAMES vi. 25 7 

votes, pronounced their decision in favour of Mr 
Robert Bruce ; and the mortified monarch flung out 
of court, as a letter of the day informs us, muttering 
revenge, and raging marvellously.* When the sub- 
servient temper of these times is considered, and we 
remember that Seton the president was a Roman 
Catholic, whilst Bruce, in whose favour he and his 
brethren decided, was a chief leader of the Presbyte- 
rian ministers, it would be unjust to withhold our 
admiration from a judge and a court which had the 
courage thus fearlessly to assert the supremacy of the 

It was during the course of this year, that the 
Queen of England lost Lord Burghley, who died on 
the fourth of August, 1598, in his seventy- eighth 
year; a long tried and affectionate servant to his 
royal mistress ; but of whom, however high his char- 
acter as an English statesman, no Scottish historian 
can speak without censure. He had been, for nearly 
forty years, the almost exclusive adviser of the English 
queen in her Scottish affairs. It was chiefly his 
advice and exertions that brought the unhappy Mary 
to the scaffold ; and in his policy towards Scotland, 
he seems almost invariably to have acted upon the 
principle, that to foster civil dissension in that king- 
dom, was to give additional strength and security to 
England. Happily, the time has come when we may 
pronounce this maxim as unsound as it is dishonest ; 
but, in those days, craft was mistaken for political 
wisdom : and Sir Robert Cecil, Lord Burghley's 
second son, who now succeeded to his father's power, 
had been educated in the same narrow school. 

This able man, who filled the office of Secretary of 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 16th March, 1598-9. 


State to Elizabeth, had, as we have seen, for some 
years taken the chief management of Scottish affairs; 
and, soon after his father's death, he became deeply 
alarmed for the orthodoxy of James and his queen ; 
suspecting them, as appears by a paper in his own 
hand, of growing every day more devoted in their 
affection to the pope.* That these were ideal terrors 
of the English secretary, the result plainly showed : 
but the true key to this apparent Papal predilection, 
was James 1 extreme poverty ; the rigid economy of 
Elizabeth, who refused to supply his wants ; and a 
hope entertained by the Scottish king, that if he ex- 
hibited a disposition to relax in the rigidity of his 
Protestant principles, and to maintain an amicable 
intercourse with the Catholics, his exhausted ex- 
chequer might be recruited by a supply of Roman 
and Spanish gold. But Cecil, although he allowed 
some weight to this, thought it too slight a cause to 
account for the strong symptoms of declension from 
the Reformed opinions exhibited both by the king and 
his councillors, and advised his royal mistress instantly 
to despatch Sir William Bowes into Scotland, whose 
veteran experience in Scottish politics might, he 
hoped, bring about a reaction. Want of money might, 
as Cecil contended, explain somewhat of James 1 late 
coldness ; but there must be deeper agencies and con- 
victions producing the strange appearances now ex- 
hibited by a country which had, within these few 
years, stood in the van of Protestant kingdoms ; which 
had been the stronghold of Presbyterian purity. It 
was noted too by Cecil, that Elphinstone, James 1 
principal Secretary of State, was a Catholic; that 

* MS. State-paper Office, Memorial of the present state of Scotland, 1598. 
Id. ibid., Nicolson to Cecil, 14th April, 1599. 

1599 JAMES VI. 259 

Seton, the President of the Session, was a Catholic ; 
that Lord Livingstone, the governor of the young 
princesses, was a Catholic ; and that Huntlej, who, 
notwithstanding his recent recantation, was strongly 
suspected of a secret attachment to his ancient faith, 
possessed the highest influence over the king.* Then, 
James' late embassies to Catholic princes ; the favour 
shown to Gordon the Jesuit ; his secret encourage- 
ment of Tyrone, the great enemy of England ; a late 
mission of Colonel Semple to Spain ; his animosity to 
the ministers of the Kirk; his introduction of bishops ; 
his correspondence with the Duchess of Feria, and 
other Catholics ; and even his speeches in the open 
convention of his three Estates, were all quoted, and 
not without good reason, as strong proofs of his defec- 

The necessities to which the king had reduced him- 
self by his too lavish gifts to his favourites, and the 
thoughtless extravagance of his household, were indeed 
deplorable, and produced repeated remonstrances from 
his treasurer, comptroller, and other financial officers. 
Money, they said, in a homely and passionate memo- 
rial, was required for the " entertainment of the king's 
bairns, gotten and to be begotten ; " for the renewing 
of his majesty's whole moveables and silver work, all 
worn and consumed ; for the repair and fortification 
of his castles of Edinburgh, Dumbarton, and Black- 
ness ; for the keeping up of his palaces, of which Holy- 
rood and Linlithgow were in shameful decay, and in 
some parts wholly ruinous. Money was required in 
all departments of the service of the State, and in all 
districts ; without the kingdom and within it ; in the 
south and in the north. There were no funds to pay 

* MS. State-paper Office, Memorial of the present state of Scotland. 


the resident in England ; no funds to procure secret 
intelligence ; none to support the public officers at 
home ; none to furnish the wardens of the West 
Marches ; none to fit out a lieutenant for the expedi- 
tion against the Western Isles, where the rebels had 
taken Duny veg, and were in great strength.* It was 
in vain for James to look to England. Elizabeth re- 
plied by sending him a list of her gratuities, which 
proved that, from 1592 to 1599, she had given him 
twenty-six thousand pounds.^ At court, the want 
of money produced strange scenes ; and the high offices 
of State, instead of being sought after as objects of 
ambition, were shunned as thankless and ruinous to 
their possessors. The great office of Lord High Trea- 
surer was going a-begging. Blantyre declared he 
could hold it no longer. Cassillis, a young nobleman 
who had recently married the rich widow of the Chan- 
cellor Maitland, a lady who might have been his 
mother, was prevailed on to accept it ; and had taken 
the oaths, when the gossip of the court brought to his 
ears an ominous speech of the king, who had been 
heard to say, that Lady Cassillis 1 purse should now 
be opened for her rose nobles. This alarmed the in- 
cipient treasurer into a prompt resignation ; but 
James stormed, ordered his arrest, seized his and his 
wife's houses, and compelled him to purchase his par- 
don by a heavy fine. J In the end the dangerous gift 
was accepted by the Master of Elphinstone, brother 
of the Secretary of State, "a wise, stout man," as Nicol- 
son characterizes him ; yet all his wisdom and firm- 

* MS. State-paper Office, The King's extraordinary Charges. 

} MS. State-paper Office, Her Majesty's Gratuities to the King of Scots. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nieolson to Cecil, 10th April, 15!)9. 
Id. ibid., same to same, 14th April, 1599. Id. ibid., same to same, 9th 
June, 1599. Spottiswood, p. 454. 

1599. JAMES VI. Ct 

ness were unequal to the task of recruiting the public 
purse : and so utterly impoverished did he find it, 
that the expenses of the baptism of the young Prin- 
cess Margaret, which took place at this time, were de- 
frayed out of the private pockets of the Lords of the 

On Sir William Bowes' arrival in Edinburgh, early 
in May 1599, he found the ministers of the Kirk in 
high wrath against the king, and full of the most 
gloomy views as to the state of the country. James 
had been recently employing his leisure hours in writ- 
ing his celebrated Treatise on Government, the Eas- 
ilicon Doron, which he had addressed to his son the 
Prince of Wales ; and having employed Sir James 
Sempil, one of his gentlemen, to make a transcript, 
the work was imprudently shown by him to Andrew 
Melvil ; who took offence at some passages, made 
copies of them, and laying them, without mentioning 
any names, before the presbytery of St Andrews, 
accused the anonymous author of having bitterly de- 
famed the Kirk. What the exact passages were which 
Melvil had transcribed does not appear ; but it is cer- 
tain that the book contained an attack upon the Pres- 
byterian form of Church government, and that the 
prince was instructed to hold none for his friends but 
such as had been faithful to the late Queen of Scots. 
It was very clear, (so the ministers argued,) that no 
person entertaining such sentiments as were openly 
expressed in this work, could endure for any long time 
the wholesome discipline of the Kirk ; and that the 
severe and sweeping censure pronounced upon the Scot- 
tish Reformation as the offspring of popular tumult 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 20th April, 1599. 
Id. ibid., same to same, 10th April, 1599. 


and rebellion, very plainly indicated the author's lean- 
ing to Prelacy and Popery. What was to be expect- 
ed, said they, from a writer who described the leaders 
of that glorious work as " fiery and seditious spirits, 
who delighted to rule as Tribuni plebis"; and having 
found the gust of government sweet, had brought 
about the wreck of two queens ; and during a long 
minority had invariably placed themselves at the head 
of every faction which weakened and distracted the 
country ? What was to be hoped for if those men, 
who had been ever the champions of the Truth, were 
to be held up to scorn and avoidance in terms like the 
following : " Take heed, therefore, my son, to such 
Puritans, very pests in the church and commonweal, 
whom no deserts can oblige, neither oaths nor pro- 
mises bind ; breathing nothing but sedition and ca- 
lumnies, aspiring without measure, railing without 
reason ; and making their own imaginations (without 
any warrant of the Word) the square of their con- 
science. I protest before the Great God, and since I 
am here as upon my testament, it is no place for me 
to lie in, that ye shall never find with any Highland 
or Border thieves greater ingratitude, and more lies, 
and vile perjuries, than with these fanatic spirits." 

When the royal commissioners, Sir Patrick Murray 
and Sir James Sandilands, attempted to discover the 
means \>j which these obnoxious sentences had been 
presented to the synod of St Andrews, they were 
utterly foiled in the attempt ; but the offence was at 
last traced to an obscure minister at Anstruther, 
named Dykes ; who fled, and was denounced rebel. 
The rumour had now flown through the country that 
James was the author of the passages, and had given 
instructions to the prince, which showed an inveterate 

1599. JAMES vr. 263 

enmity to the Kirk; and it was thought that the 
publication of the whole work would be the likeliest 
means to silence the clamour. The book accordingly 
made its appearance ; and in Archbishop Spottiswood's 
opinion,* did more for James' title, by the admiration 
it raised in England for the piety and wisdom of the 
royal author, than all the Discourses on the Succes- 
sion which were published at this time. In Scotland 
the effect, if we believe Sir William Bowes, was the 
very opposite. It was received by the ministers with 
a paroxysm of indignation ; and soon after the arrival 
of the English ambassador, the whole Kirk agreed to 
proclaim a general Fast, to avert, by prayer and humi- 
liation, the judgments so likely to fall on an apostate 
king and a miserable country. For two entire days 
the Fast was rigidly observed ; and Bowes declared, in 
his letter to Cecil, that in all his life he had never 
been witness to a more holy or powerful practice of 
religion. -^ From the pulpit the ministers proclaimed 
to the people the chief causes for their call to mourn- 
ing. A general coldness in God's service had seized, 
they said, on all ranks. The enemies of the Gospel, 
who in purer days had been driven into banishment, 
were now everywhere returning; and almost a third of 
the realm was deprived of every means for the teaching 
of the people. The king himself had become the de- 
famer of the Kirk ; his children were brought up by 
an excommunicated Papist ; and the young nobility, 
the hopes of the country, went abroad meanly in- 
structed, and returned either Atheists or Catholics. J 
A singular event occurred at this time, which led 

* Spottiswood, p. 456. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Cecil, 25th June, 1599. 

Id. ibid. 


to the recall of Bowes the English ambassador, and 
gave high umbrage to the Scottish king. An English 
gentleman, named Ashfield, * had lately come from 
Berwick, on a visit to the Scottish court, who, as 
there is strong reason to believe, was one of those 
confidential agents whom James had employed in 
England to give him secret advice and information 
on the subject of his succession to the English throne, 
after the death of the queen. Lord Wylloughby, the 
governor of Berwick, had himself recommended Ash- 
h'eld to James 1 notice ; but he had scarcely taken his 
leave, when Wylloughby discovered that he was a sus- 
picious character, and might do much mischief in 
Scotland. His alarm became still greater, when he 
found the attention shown to Ashfield by James ; his 
intimacy with the Catholic party at court, then in 
great favour with the king ; and the strong suspicion 
of Bowes the ambassador, that some treachery against 
England was contemplated. It was determined to 
destroy it in the bud, by kidnapping the principal 
party ; and John Guevara, deputy-warden of the 
East Marches, Wylloughby "a cousin, undertook the 
commission. Repairing, with only three assistants, 
to Edinburgh, it was concerted with Bowes, that the 
ambassador's coach should be waiting on Leith sands, 
and that Ashfield, under pretence of taking a pleasure 
drive, should be inveigled into it, and carried off. All 
succeeded to a wish. Ashfield, as he took his exer- 
cise on the sands with some gentlemen, amongst whom 
were young Fernyhirst, Sir Robert Melvil, and Bowes, 
was met by Guevara and his companions, and easily 
persuaded, " under colour of old friendship and good 

* Afterwards Sir Edmund Ashfield, 

1599. JAMES VI. 265 

fellowship, 1 '* to join in a wine party ; at which, be- 
coming somewhat merry and confused, he readily fell 
into the trap, entered the coach, and instead of being 
driven back to Edinburgh, found himself, to his utter 
confusion, conveyed rapidly to Berwick, and placed 
under sudden restraint by Lord Wylloughby. Next 
morning, Wainman, another of the governor's ser- 
vants, arrived with Ashfield's papers, which he and 
Bowes had seized, and brought intelligence that the 
Scottish king was in the greatest rage at the indignity 
offered him ; and that the people had surrounded Sir 
William Bowes 1 lodging, and threatened his life. It 
had been discovered that the gentlemen who kidnapped 
Ashfield were in Wylloughby's service, that the coach 
belonged to the English ambassador, and that some 
intoxicating potion had been put in his wine. James 
wrote a severe and dignified remonstrance to Wyl- 
loughby, in which he demanded to know whether this 
outrage had been committed under any warrant or 
order from the English queen ; j- assuring him that it 
was a matter which, without speedy reparation, he 
would not pass over. To this Wylloughby boldly 
replied, that what had been done was not in conse- 
quence of any warrant from the queen, but in the 
discharge of his own public duty ;| whilst Sir Wil- 
liam Bowes, who had concerted the whole, when chal- 
lenged on the subject, made no scruple of asserting, 
that he had not only no hand in the business, but was 
utterly ignorant of all about it. So true was Sir 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Lord Wylloughby to Cecil, 15th 
June, 1599. See, also, B.C., Wylloughby to Cecil, 13th June, 1599. 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., James VI. to Lord Wylloughbv, 
14th June, 1599. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Lord Wylloughby to James, origi- 
nal draft, 15th June, 1599. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Wylloughby to Cecil, 15th June, 


Henry WottoiTs well known pun on the character of 
ambassadors of these days. James" 1 dissatisfaction, 
however, was so great, and the coldness and distance 
with which he treated Bowes made his place so irk- 
some, that Elizabeth soon afterwards recalled him.* 

The arrival of a French ambassador at this crisis, 
increased the dissatisfaction of the English queen and 
the ministers of the Kirk ; who suspected that his 
mission, although kept secret, was connected with 
James'' intrigues with the Catholics abroad. He was a 
gentleman of the house of Bethune, a younger brother 
of the great Sully, and much caressed at the Scottish 
court : but what especially alarmed the Kirk, was his 
having brought a Jesuit along with him, who was 
frequently closeted with the king; whilst the openness 
with which Sully was allowed the exercise of his re- 
ligion, caused the brethren to sigh over the contrast 
of the present cold and liberal times, with the happy 
days when it was death to set up the Mass in Scotland. 
Scarcely had these feelings subsided, and the ministers 
begun to congratulate themselves on the prospect of 
the speedy departure of Bethune, when their wrath 
was rekindled by the arrival of Fletcher and Martin, 
with their company of comedians ; whom James, who 
delighted in the theatre, had sent for from England. 
To the strict notions of these divines, profane plays, 
and the licentious mummeries of the stage, were al- 

1599. Also, MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Bowes to Cecil, 16th June, 
1599. Bowes' activity and connivance is completely proved by Lord Wyl- 
loughby's letter of the 15th June, to Cecil. He there says : " I sent some 
to Edinburgh, with instructions for his reducing. They made divers over- 
tures to my Lord Ambassador, [this was Bowes.] It pleased him to ac- 
cept of one, which was to draw him to Leith ; there, under colour of a 
dissolute kindness and good fellowship, to make him merry with wine ; 
then to persuade him to ride home in a coach, sent out of purpose therein 
to surprise him, and bring him away ; which, as it pleased God, had very 
good success." The coach was Bowes'. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Bowes to Cecil, 9th July, 1599. 

1599. JAMES vi. 267 

most as detestable as the Mass itself. The one was 
idolatry the worship of Baal, or the golden calf; the 
other was profanity the dancing of Herodias 1 daugh- 
ter: and as this had led to Herod's rash oath, and 
the decapitation of the Baptist, so did these English 
buffoons recall to their mind the miserable times of 
the Guisean domination, when the court was full of 
revelry and masquerade, and the blood of the saints 
was shed like water. It was no wonder that, with 
such feelings, the arrival of this gay troop of players 
was received with a storm of ecclesiastical wrath, for 
which the gentlemen of the buskin were little pre- 
pared; and their case appeared desperate, when the 
magistrates of the capital, acting under the influence 
of the Kirk, prohibited the inhabitants, by a public 
act, from haunting the theatre. But James was not 
so easily defeated. Fletcher had been an old favour- 
ite ; nor was this his first visit to Scotland. He had 
been there before, in 1 594 ; and, on his return to 
England, had suffered some persecution from his popu- 
larity with James ; who now called the provost and 
his councillors before him, compelled them to rescind 
their act, and proclaimed, by sound of trumpet, not 
only that the comedians should continue their enter- 
tainments, but insisted that, next Sunday, the min- 
isters should inform their flocks that no restraint or 
censure should be incurred by any of his good sub- 
jects who chose to recreate themselves by " the said 
comedies and plays." " Considering," so runs the 
royal act, " that we are not of purpose, nor intention, 
to authorize or command anything quhilk* is profane, 
or may carry any offence."^ 

* Quhilk ; -which. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 12th November, 1599, Nicolsonto Cecil. 


The king^s mind had long run intently on the sub- 
ject of the succession ; and he now adopted a measure 
which, so far as Elizabeth was concerned, was calcu- 
lated rather to injure than advance his title. A 
general band or contract was drawn up, " purporting 
to be made by the good subjects of the king^s majesty, 
for the preservation of his person and the pursuit of 
his undoubted right to the crown of England and 
Ireland." * The whole matter, during its preparation, 
was kept secret, and James trusted that no whisper 
would reach the ears of his good sister Elizabeth. 
But he was disappointed; for Nicolson, on the twenty- 
seventh November, 1599, thus mentioned it to Cecil. 
" I hear, which I beseech your honour to keep close, 
that there is a general band, subscribed by many, and 
to be subscribed by all earls, lords, and barons; binding 
them, by solemn vow and oath, to serve the king with 
their lives, friends, heritages, goods, and gear ; and to 
be ready, in warlike furniture, for the same on all 
occasions, but especially for his claim to England." -f- 
The English envoy then mentioned, that on the tenth 
of the succeeding month of December, there was to be 
held a full convention of the Estates, in which some 
solid course was to be adopted to supply the king with 
money, and provide for the arming of his subjects, to 
be ready when he might need them. But when the 
Estates assembled, the result did not justify expecta- 
tions. The convention, indeed, was fully attended, 
and sufficiently loyal in its general feeling ; yet when 
the monarch explained his wants, and sought their 
advice and assistance, they heard him coldly, and 
delayed their answer till the next meeting of the 

* MS. State-paper Office, A general Band, voluntarily made by the good 
subjects of the king's majesty, &c. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 27th November, 1599, Nicolson to Cecil. 

1599. JAMES vi. 269 

Estates. In his harangue, James declared his dislike 
to any offensive scheme of taxation ; proposing, in its 
place, that a certain sum should be levied on every 
head of cattle and sheep throughout the country ; 
but this was utterly refused. He forbore, therefore, 
to press the point, and contented himself with an 
appeal to them for that support which all good subjects 
should give their prince for the vindication of his law- 
ful claims. He was not certain, he said, how soon 
he should have occasion to use arms ; but whenever 
it should be, he knew his right, and would venture 
crown and all for it. Let them take care, therefore, 
that the country be furnished with armour according 
to the acts made two years before.* This was cheer- 
fully agreed to ; and meanwhile the king, whose 
financial ingenuity seems to have been whetted by 
the gloomy prospect of an empty exchequer at the 
time money was becoming every day more needed, 
drew up another scheme which was submitted to his 
Estates with as little success as the former. Its ob- 
ject was excellent : being to remove the burden of 
supplies from the poor commons and labourers of the 
ground ; for which purpose, he proposed, that the 
whole country should be " disposed, as it were, into 
one thousand persons, and each person to pay a parti- 
cular sum ; " which, all being joined, would make up 
a total equal to his majesty's necessities. 

Against this plan, which had, at least, the merit 
of simplicity, a formal protest was presented by the 
barons and burghs. The Laird of Wemyss in the 
name of the barons, and John Robertson for the 
burghs, insisted that they should be specially excepted 
from any commission given to the sheriffs, for the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 15th December, 1599, Nicqlson to Cecil. 


levying such a sum, and should continue to " stint 
[tax] themselves in auld manner ; " but as the pro- 
posal was hypothetical, and came before the Estates 
merely as an overture, it was judged enough to meet 
it by delay ; and so anxious was the king to spare 
his people, and fall in with the wishes of all, that 
he not only agreed to except the barons and burghs, 
but to drop the whole scheme if any better should be 
proposed at the next convention, which was fixed to 
be held at Edinburgh on the twentieth of June.* It 
was happy that all ended so amicably ; for at the 
beginning of the convention he had exerted himself to 
carry his purpose by means which were violent and 
unconstitutional. " To effect this," said Nicolson, in 
writing to Cecil, " the king drew in the whole Borders, 
the officers of Estate, Sir Robert Ker, Sir Robert 
Melvil, and others, contrary to the order there ap- 
pointed, of six only of every Estate to have voted for 
the rest." 

It was during this convention held at Edinburgh 
in December, that the king, with advice of his Se- 
cret Council, passed an important act, appointing, in 
all time coming, the " first day of the year to begin 
upon the first of January ; " and this statute, it was 
added, should take effect upon the first day of January 
next to come, which shall be the first day of January, 
1600.-f- Previous to this time the Scottish year had 
begun on the twenty -fifth of March ; and it is worthy 
of observation, that this still continued the mode of 
reckoning in England. + 

* MS. State-paper Office, Copy of the Act of the Convention at St 

f* MS. State-paper Office, Act for the year of God to begin the 1st of 
January, yearly. 

J Sir H. Nicolas's excellent work on the Chronology of History, p. 41. 

1600. JAMES VI. 271 





Henry IV. 

Rudolph II. 

Spain. I Portugal. 
Philip III. I Philip HI. 

Clement VIII. 

IN the course of these labours we are now arrived at 
an extraordinary plot, of which the history, after all 
the light shed upon it by recent research, is still, in 
some points, obscure and contradictory. This is the 
Gowrie conspiracy. Its author, or, as some have not 
scrupled to assert, its victim, was the grandson of that 
Patrick lord Ruthven, who, as we have seen, acted 
a chief part in the atrocious murder of Riccio, and died 
in exile soon after that event.* It was the second son 
of this nobleman, William, fourth Lord Ruthven, who, 
after sharing the guilt and banishment of his father 
for his accession to the same plot, was restored by the 
Regent Morton, and returned to Scotland to engage 
in new conspiracies. It was his threats, and the 
menaces of the fierce Lindsay, that were said to have 
extorted from the miserable captive of Lochleven the 
demission of her crown. His services were rewarded 
by an earldom ; and from the fertile brain and un- 
scrupulous principles of the new earl proceeded the 

* Supra, vol. vii. p. 29. 


plot for the seizure of the king, known by the name 
of the Raid of Ruthven. He was pardoned ; became 
again suspected ; threw himself into another enterprise 
against the government, with Mar and Angus ; was 
detected, found guilty, and suffered on the scaffold. 
Of his treason there was no doubt ; but his conviction, 
as we have seen,* was procured by a disgraceful ex- 
pedient, which roused the utmost indignation of his 
friends. This happened in 1584 ; and, for two years 
after, the imperious government of Arran directed, or 
rather compelled, the royal wrath into the severest 
measures against the house of Ruthven. But the 
destruction of Arran's power permitted the king's 
temper, generally gentle and forgiving, to have influ- 
ence; and, in 1586, the earldom was restored to James, 
the eldest son of the house, who, dying soon after, 
transmitted it to John, the third earl, the author of 
the Gowrie conspiracy. 

Young Gowrie, at the time of his father's execution, 
could have been scarcely eight years old;-f- and in the 
wreck of his house, he, his unhappy mother, and her 
other children, received an asylum in the north. Here, 
amidst the savage solitudes of Athole, the country of 
her son-iii-law,:}: the widowed countess brought up her 
children, brooded over her wrongs, and taught her 
sons the story of their father's murder, as his execution 
was accounted by his party. From such lessons, they 
seem early to have drunk in that deep passion for re- 
venge, which, in those dark days, was so universally 
felt, that it may be regarded almost as the pulse of 

* Supra, vol. viii. p. 170-171. 

t MS. State-paper Office, List of the Scottish Nobility, 1592. In 1592 
Gowrie was fifteen years old. 

J The Earl of Athole had married the sister of Gowrie, MS. State-paper 

1600. JAMES VI. 273 

feudal life ; a passion which, sometimes at a quicker, 
sometimes at a slower pace, but yet with strong and 
abiding force, carried on its victims to the consumma- 

O 3 

tion of their purpose. Meanwhile the royal pity had 
awoke : the family was restored to its honours ; and 
the young earl, having been committed to the care of 
Rollock the learned Principal of the University of 
Edinburgh, received an excellent education. But the 

O 7 

return for all this, on the part both of his mother and 
himself, was ingratitude and new intrigues. When, 
in 1593, Bothwell at Holyrood audaciously broke in 
upon his sovereign, and for a short season obtained 
possession of his person, it was the Countesses of 
Gowrie and Athole, the mother and sister of Gowrie, 
who were his most active assistants; and in 1594, 
when the same desperate baron, in conjunction with 
Athole, Ochiltree, and the Kirk, organized a second 
plot, the name of the young Earl of Gowrie appeared 
in the ''Band' 1 '' which united the conspirators.* He 
was thus early bred up in intrigue ; but the king 
either did not, or would not, discover his guilt : and 
Gowrie, having received the royal license to complete 
his education abroad,^ passed through England into 
Italy, studied for five years at the university of 
Padua, and there is said to have so highly distin- 
guished himself, that he became rector of that famous 
seminary.^ The young earl was now only one-and- 
twenty ; of an athletic person and noble presence ; 

* See above, p. 89, and State-paper Office MS., Scott. Com, April, 
1594. Band for Protection of Religion, MS. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir R. Bowes to Burghley, 22d Aug., 

J Calderwood, MS. History, British Museum, Ayscough, 4739, p. 1386, 
states this positively: hut I have not found his authority. 

MS. State-paper Office, drawn up for Cecil in 1592. State of the 
Scottish nobility. 

VOL. IX. 8 


excellent in all his exercises ; an accomplished swords- 
man ; and so ripe a scholar, that there was scarcely any 
art or faculty which he had not mastered. Amongst 
his studies, Necromancy, or Natural Magic, was a 
favourite pursuit ; and his tutor, Rhynd, detected 
him, when at Padua, wearing cabalistic characters 
concealed upon his person, which were then sometimes 
used as spells against diabolic, or recipients of angelic 
influence.* He was an enthusiastic chemist ; and, in 
common with many eminent men of that age, a dabbler 
in judicial astrology, and a believer in the great 
arcanum. It is curious that this propensity to magic 
and visionary pursuits was hereditary in the Ruthven 
family. His grandfather, the murderer of Riccio, had 
given Queen Mary a magic ring, as a preservative 
against poison. His father, the leader in the Raid of 
Ruthven, when in Italy, had his fortunes foretold by 
a wizard ; and the son, when some of his friends had 
killed an adder in the braes of Strathbran, lamented 
their haste, and told them he would have diverted them 
by making it dance to the tune of some cabalistic words 
which he had learnt in Italy from a great necromancer 
and divine. 

During his residence at Padua, Gowrie addressed 
to the king a letter full of gratitude and affection. -f- He 
kept up, also, a correspondence with his old tutor 
Rollock ; and, in 1595, sent a long epistle to Malcolm, 
the minister of the kirk at Perth, expressing the most 
devoted attachment to Presbyterian principles, and 
written in that strange, pedantic, puritanic style which 
then characterized the correspondence of the most 

* Rhynd's Declaration in Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. pp. 219, 

J- Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. p. 330. 

1600. JAMES vi. 275 

zealous of that party.* The young earl described in 
this letter, with high exultation and approval, an in- 
sane attack made by a fanatical English Protestant 
upon a Catholic procession, in which he seized the 
sacred Host, and trampled it under foot ; and con- 
cluded by expressions of deep regret that his absence 
from Scotland did not permit him to set forth God's 
glory in his native country ; trusting, as he added, to 
make up for all this on his return. 

This return took place in 1599, through Switzer- 
land ; and on arriving at Geneva, he became an inmate 
for three months in the house of the famous reformer 
Beza, who cherished him as the son of a father whom 
his party regarded as a martyr to the Protestant faith. 
From Geneva he travelled to Paris, where he was re- 
ceived with high distinction at the French court, and 
by Elizabeth's ambassador, Sir Henry Nevil ; who 
admitted him into his confidence, held private con- 
ferences with him " on the alterations feared in Scot- 
land, (to use Nevil's own words,) found him to be ex- 
ceedingly well affected to the cause of religion, devoted 
to Elizabeth's service, and, in short, a nobleman of 
whom, for his good judgment, zeal, and ability, ex- 
ceeding good use might be made on his return."-f- 
Bothwell, his old friend and associate, was also at this 
time in Paris. On leaving France, Gowrie, carrying 
warm letters of recommendation from Nevil, pro- 
ceeded to the English court ; where Elizabeth received 
him with flattering distinction, and kept him for two 
months ; admitting him to her confidence, holding with 

* It has been printed by Mr Pitcairn, in the second volume of his valuable 
work, the Criminal Trials, pp. 330, 331. 

f* Sir Henry Nevil to Secretary Cecil, 27th February, 1599. Win-wood's 
Memorial's, vol. i. p. 156. 


him great conference* on the state of Scotland, which 
was then threatening and alarming ; and it is said by 
one author, appointing a guard to watch over his 
safety. It was then no unfrequent occurrence for the 
incipient intriguer, or conspirator, to be seized or kid- 
napped by the stratagem of his opponents ; and, if 
true, this circumstance certainly shows how highly 
the English queen regarded his safety, and what value 
she set upon his future services. During this stay in 
England he became familiar with Sir Robert Cecil, at 
this moment the most confidential minister of Eliza- 
beth ; with the great Lord Wylloughby, one of the 
honestest and ablest servants of the queen ;} and with 
many others of the leading men about court. 

At the time of Cowrie's arrival in England, (third 
April, 1600,) Elizabeth was deeply incensed with the 
proceedings of the Scottish king, and his reported in- 
trigues with the Catholics of her own kingdom, and 
with the courts of Spain and Home, on the subject of 
his title. He had resolved, and made no secret of his 
resolution, to vindicate his right to the crown of Eng- 
land by arms, if it were necessary ; and he had roused 
the resentment and alarm of the party of the Kirk to 
the highest pitch, by the court which he paid to the 
Catholics, both at home and on the Continent. A letter 
written to Cecil by Colvile, about six months before 
this, described these intrigues and preparations in 
strong terms. 

Colvile, it must be remembered, was the confidant 
of the notorious Bothwell, and an old friend and fellow- 
conspirator of Cowrie's father. It was certain, so said 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Sir John Carey to Cecil, 29th May, 

f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, James Hudson to Cecil, 3d April, 1600. 
Also, ibid., B.C., Wylloughby to Cecil, llth August, 1600. 

1600. JAMES VI. 

Colvile in this letter, that two envoys had come to the 
Scottish king from the pope. They had brought high 
offers : a promise of a hundred thousand crowns at 
present, and an engagement to pay down two millions 
the moment he published liberty of conscience, and 
declared war with England. Twenty thousand Catho- 
lics were said to be ready to join the king the moment 
he crossed the Border. There was not one Catholic 
prince in Europe who would not support his claim ; 
and his Holiness not only regarded him as the most 
learned and religious prince of his time, but would 
willingly follow his advice in restoring to the universal 
church its purity and discipline.* In another letter, 
written some time before this, and dated seventeenth 
August, 1599, Colvile speaks to Cecil of the ominous 
tranquillity of the Scottish court ; which, he says, he 
had often remarked to be never so quiet as when some 
"snake-stone was hatching"; adding, "QuandleMe- 
chant dort, le Diable le berche." He assured Cecil, that 
the king was highly enraged and excited against the 
party of the Kirk. The ministers were led by Bruce 
and Andrew Melvil ; their ranks included Cassillis, 
Lindsay, Morton, and Blantyre ; and he added, with 
a significaucy which this statesman could be at no loss 
to understand, that if they received any secret encou- 
ragement from England, they were devising to send 
for Gowrie and Argyle, both of whom were then 
abroad. ] 

This letter was written towards the end of August, 
1599, when Gowrie was probably on his route to Eng- 
land ; and in the interval between this and his arrival 

* MS. State-paper Office, Advertisements from Scotland, 18th August, 
1599, enclosed in a letter from Colvile, dated 21st August, 1599. 

t MS. State-paper Office. Advertisements from Scotland, 1 8th August, 
1599, enclosed in a letter from Colvile, dated 21st August, 1599. 


at the court of Elizabeth, the estrangement between 
the Queen of England and the King of Scots had be- 
come more embittered. Nicolson, the English envoy 
at the Scottish court, was full of alarm at James 1 * 
almost open hostility. In one of his letters to Cecil, 
written in the end of April, 1600, when Gowrie was 
at the English court, and, as we have just seen, ad- 
mitted to the confidence of this minister and his royal 
mistress, he described the king as indulging in expres- 
sions of the utmost discontent and anger on the sub- 
ject of the intended peace between England and Spain. 
Elizabeth (such were James 1 words) had long resisted 
every amicable application made to her on the point 
of his title ; and now he heard one day she was about 
to marry the Lady Arabella to the brother of the 
Emperor Mathias; the next, that she had sent for 
young Beauchamp to court ; the next, that in con- 
sequence of her peace with Spain, a priest had openly 
addressed the Infanta, as the destined restorer of the 
Catholics in England.* Of all this, James added, the 
queen refused him any explanation. She treated him 
with coldness and suspicion ; and it became him to 
look to his just rights, and provide for the future. 

Such things were said even openly by the King of 
Scots ; but in the secrecy of his cabinet, James used 
far stronger language. He there insisted, that before 
Elizabeth's death, which, considering her advanced age 
and broken health, could not be far distant, he must 
be ready armed, his exchequer well supplied, and the 
friends on whom he could place reliance, assembled on 
the spot with their full strength. To compass all this, 
he had spared no exertion. England swarmed with 
his spies ; and the " daily creeping in of Englishmen" 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 24th Dec., 1599. 

1600. JAMES VI. 279 

to the Scottish court, was a matter which perpetually 
roused the suspicions of Cecil, and cut his royal mis- 
tress to the quick. At this very moment, when Gowrie 
was in such confidential intercourse with that princess 
and her ministers, the Scottish king had received in- 
formation which made him stand especially on his 
guard. It was reported that a plot was then being 
organized by the faction in the interest of England, 
to compel the king into a more pacific policy, and 
arrest his warlike preparations against that realm ; * 
that Colvile, Archibald Douglas, and Douglas the 
Laird of Spot, all of them old employes of Cecil, were 
the chief conspirators in England ; and that they were 
casting about to draw home the Earl of Gowrie, then 
at the court of Elizabeth, and on whom they reckoned 
as a great accession to their strength. -|- Bothwell, 
too, the arch-traitor, whom of all men the king hated 
and dreaded most, had been at Paris at the same time 
with Gowrie : their former intimacy rendered it almost 
impossible they should not have met ; and it was now 
strongly reported, that this desperate man had stolen 
into Scotland, and had been thrice seen recently in 

Such was the state of parties ; such the mutual 
heart-burning, jealousy, intrigues, and preparations 
between the two sovereigns, when Gowrie, after two 
months 1 residence in England, left the court of Eliza- 
beth and returned to his native country. The facts 
hitherto given are all capable of proof: their effects 
upon the character of Gowrie, and how far they in- 
fluenced or serve to explain his subsequent extraor- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 20th April, 1600. 
t Id. ibid. 

J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Guevara to Lord Wylloughby, 
23d April, 1600. 


dinary proceedings, can only be conjectural. Yet it 
appears that they go far to explain something of the 
mystery which hitherto has surrounded the origin of 
this plot ; and that here we have one of those cases 
where, from the elements on which we form our opinion, 
conjecture may come indefinitely near to certainty. 
Gowrie was young : and on youth what must have 
been worked by the flattery of a queen, and so great 
a queen as Elizabeth ? He was ambitious and proud; 
and when he found that his friends were anxious to 
place him at the head of the English faction, and in 
opposition to the hostile projects of the king, was it 
likely he should decline that preeminence ? He was 
a devoted and enthusiastic Puritan, and hated prelacy. 
Was such a mind likely to refuse the opportunity 
that now offered, to reestablish the Presbyterian 
ascendancy, to reinstate his old friends, the ministers, 
on the ground from which they had been driven ; and 
to destroy, if possible, that Catholic faith, which, in his 
judgment, was idolatrous and damnable? He was 
animated by a keen desire to revenge his father's death 
on the monarch who had brought him to the scaffold; 
and was it probable that when, in the secret confer- 
ences which took place with Nevil, Cecil, and Eliza- 
beth, the hostile plans and dangerous, intrigues of the 
King of Scotland were discussed, the Raid of Ruthven 
should have been forgotten ; or that the nefarious 
project, so repeatedly hazarded, so often crowned with 
success, to seize the king^s person, and administer the 
government under his pretended sanction, would not 
present itself? To grasp the supreme power, and 
have his revenge into the bargain : were such offers 
unlikely to be held out by so unscrupulous a minister 
as Cecil? Was it probable that, if held out, they 

1600. JAMES VI. 281 

would be refused by Gowrie ? But leaving such specu- 
lations, let us proceed. 

The young earl arrived in Scotland, after his long 
absence, about the twentieth of May; and some little 
circumstances accompanied his return, which, after his 
miserable fate, were remembered and much dwelt on. 
He entered the capital surrounded by an unusually 
brilliant cavalcade of noblemen and gentlemen, the 
friends and dependents of his house, and amid the 
shouts of immense crowds who welcomed his return. 
On hearing of it, the king shook his head, and observed, 
that as many shouted when his father lost his head at 
Stirling. Whether this was said in the presence of 
the young earl, is not added by Calderwood, who gives 
the anecdote ; but it was noticed, and we may be 
pretty sure would reach his ear. When he kissed 
hands, and took his place in the court circle, his fine 
presence, handsome countenance, and graceful man- 
ners, struck every one. He soon became a special 
favourite of the queen and her ladies, one of whom 
was his sister, Lady Beatrix Ruthven ; and to the 
king, his learning and scholarship made him equally 
acceptable. He had lived in the society of the most 
eminent foreign scholars, philosophers, and divines ; 
but he was equally accomplished in all knightly sports, 
and could discuss the merits of a hawk or hound as 
enthusiastically as any subject in the circle of the 
sciences. This was much to James" 1 content ; and as 
the monarch sat at breakfast, he would often keep 
Gowrie leaning on the back of his chair, and talk to 
him with that voluble, undignified familiarity which 
marked the royal conversation. He rallied the young 
nobleman, also, on his long stay at the English court ; 
and, as Sir John Carey wrote to Cecil, assailed him 


with many " fleytes * and pretty taunts," on the high 
honours paid him by Elizabeth, his frequent great 
conferences with the queen, her offer to bribe him with 
gold, and the sumptuousness of his reception and en- 
tertainment. He marvelled, too, with good-humoured 
irony, that his old friends, the ministers of the Kirk, 
had not ridden out to meet him and form part of his 
triumphant cavalcade ; -f* and, half between joke and 
earnest, contrived to show him that he had watched 
all his movements, and was perfectly aware of his con- 
fidential intercourse with Nevil, Cecil, and Elizabeth 

All this Gowrie took, or seemed to take, in good 
part.J He had certainly, he said, been .honourably 
entertained, and very graciously received by the queen 
of England ; but this, he believed, was for the king his 
master's sake ; and so he had accepted it. As for 
gold, he had been offered none : nor did he need it. 
He had enough of his own. It was in one of those 
familiar conversations on a strange subject, that an 
allusion escaped the king, which was afterwards re- 
membered. Queen Anne w r as at this time great with 
child, and probably did not take sufficient care of her- 
self; but be this as it may, James consulted Gowrie, 
who had studied at Padua, then the highest medical 
school in Europe, on the most common causes of mis- 
carriage. He mentioned several, but insisted on 
fright or sudden terror as the most dangerous ; upon 
which the king, bursting into a fit of loud and scorn- 
ful laughter, exclaimed, " Had that been true, my 

* Fleytes ; scolds. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Sir John Carey to Cecil, 29th 
May, 1600. 

I MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 2d May, 1600. 

MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Sir John Carey to Sir R. Cecil, 
29th May, 1600. 

1600. JAMES vi. 283 

lord, I should never have been sitting here to ask 
the question. Remember the slaughter of Seignor 
Davie, wherein thy grandsire was the chief actor : " 
a reckless, cruel thrust, which the young nobleman 
must have felt like an adder's sting : for not only his 
grandfather but his father were present at that bloody 

On another occasion, soon after his arrival, a ruffle 
was nearly taking place in the long gallery at Holy- 
rood, between the servants of Colonel William Stewart 
and some of the gentlemen of Gowrie's suite. It was 
this Stewart who had seized his father at Dundee, and 
dragged him to his trial and death ; and all dreaded 
a bloody encounter. But Gowrie, to their surprise, 
beat down the weapons of his followers ; and giving 
place with a contemptuous gesture to Stewart, permit- 
ted him to walk first into the presence-chamber. On 
being remonstrated with, his brief and proud reply 
was a Latin proverb, " Aquila non captat muscas^ It 
is the remark of an old chronicler, that he here 
covertly alluded to his intended revenge against the 
king.-)- It is certain, at least, that it betrayed a de- 
termination on Gowrie's part, to fly at the highest 

On his first arrival at court, about the middle of 
May, 1600, he found the king's mind still concentrated 
upon that one subject which had so long filled his 
thoughts, and which he had determined to bring 
shortly before a convention of his nobility, barons, and 
burghs. This was the necessity of making prepara- 
tion for an event now currently talked of: the death 

* Calderwood, MS. History, British Museum, Sloan, 4739, fol. 1389. 
+ Anonymous MS. History of Scotland, quoted in Pitcairn's Criminal 
Trials, vol. ii., p. 297. 




of Elizabeth. To this end James had summoned a 
convention of the three Estates to meet on the twen- 
tieth of June. He had resolved to levy a tax upon 
the country, to pay his ambassadors to foreign parts ; 
and to have such a force in readiness as should over- 
awe his enemies, and give confidence to his supporters. 
On these proposed measures parties were so divided, 
and such violent storms were apprehended, that the 
wisest, as Nicolson wrote to Cecil, wished themselves 
out of the country ; and Gowrie, by the advice of his 
friends, after a brief stay at court, retired to his own 
estates, " to be a beholder of the issue of these many 
suspicions."* Soon after this, a violent interview 
took place between the king and the English resident, 
Nicolson, in which James complained that Elizabeth 
had treated him with the utmost haughtiness and 
want of confidence on the subject of the Spanish peace. 
She blamed him, he said, for matters of which he was 
wholly innocent, and showed more kindness to a 
foreign duke and the Infanta than to him. It was 
openly bragged by one of her subjects, that Bothwell 
was to be let loose, to come in again and brave it. 
She had seized a parcel of muskets, which he had de- 
clared upon his honour had been purchased for the 
use of his household, as if she dreaded they should be 
turned against herself. ] All this, which was daily 
reported to Elizabeth and Cecil, increased the un- 
friendly feelings between the two courts, and convinced 
the English minister that something decided must be 
done, to check that bold, and almost hostile attitude 
in which James seemed now determined to insist upon 
his rights to the English throne. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 27th May, 1GOO. 
f MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 29th May, 1600. 

1600. JAMES VI. 285 

At last the important day of the convention of the 
three Estates arrived. The nobility, including Gowrie 
amongst the rest, assembled ; the barons and burghs 
attended ; and the king, after having, in many private 
interviews, endeavoured to gain over the leading men 
to his own views, brought his proposals before the 
public meeting of the three Estates, in a studied har- 
angue. To his extreme indignation and astonishment, 
he failed to convince them of the necessity of taxing 
themselves to raise the sum he required. The major- 
ity of the nobility and the prelates, who had been pri- 
vately canvassed by James, and talked over by the 
Earl of Mar, were compliant enough ; but the barons 
and the burghs stoutly resisted. The king adjourned 
the convention from Monday till Tuesday, employing 
the interval in threats, entreaties, and remonstrances ; 
but on this day they were as stubborn as before. An- 
other and longer adjournment, and another meeting 
took place. It not only found them in the same in- 
domitable humour, but some of the higher barons 
began to waver. The Lord President Seton, in reply 
to the assertion of the royal claimant, that he must 
have an army ready on the queen's death, to maintain 
his title, argued against the utter folly of attempting 
to seize that ancient crown by conquest. For such 
a purpose, he observed, who could say what exact sum 
might be required ? and if the sum were named, who 
was so insane as to expect that Scotland could raise 
it ? If about to build a palace, they might have a 
plan and an estimate ; if to raise an army of so many 
thousand men, some certainty might be had of the 
funds required: but who would venture to fix the 
sum necessary for the conquest of England ? and if 
fixed, who could be so mad as to believe that the poor 


country of Scotland could raise it, when it was noto- 
rious that sundry towns in England and the Low 
Countries could advance more money than all Scot- 
land together ? * Mr Edward Bruce argued for the 
king's views ; and insisted that every true Scotsman, 
if he regarded the honour of his prince and country, 
ought to contribute to the sum now required. Let 
them not imagine, said he, that a refusal would be 
unaccompanied with danger. Whoever usurped Eng- 
land after Elizabeth's death would have an eye to 
Scotland ; and if they now suffered their king to be 
defeated of his right, they might chance to find them- 
selves defeated of their country. 

This argument somewhat softened James, who had 
started up in a violent passion and accused the Presi- 
dent Seton of perverting his meaning. But nothing 
could move the barons and burghs. They reiterated 
their plea of poverty ; declared, that when the time 
came, they would furnish their monarch as fair an 
army as ever good subjects levied for their prince ; 
and in the meanwhile, instead of forty thousand 
crowns, would give him forty thousand pounds Scots, 
on the condition that they should never again be 
taxed in his time ; and that what they did give should 
go to his own wants, and not to his hungry courtiers. 
The king spurned at this diminished and conditional 
offer, and insisted that it should be put to the vote 
whether it had not been agreed in a former convention 
at St Johnston, that a hundred thousand crowns 
should be advanced him by a thousand persons. 

On this new question the young Earl of Gowrie 
now spoke for the first time ; and heading the oppo- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 22d June, 1600. 
Ibid., same to same, 29th June, 1SOD. 

1600. JAMES vi. 287 

sition of the barons and the burghs, exposed the king 
to the disgrace of a second defeat.* He had, he said, 
been long absent from the country, and had no per- 
sonal knowledge of what had taken place at St John- 
ston ; but he contended that the present offer of the 
burghs and barons, to give forty thousand pounds to 
the king, and their promise to raise money for an 
army when it was required, was quite as good, nay, 
almost a better proposal, than that so strongly insisted 
on by James. Why, then, should his majesty take 
such deep umbrage at it? Surely, he continued, it 
must be evident, that this demand of the king will 
bring dishonour upon all parties : it is dishonourable 
for a prince to ask more than his subjects have to 
give, and suffer the ignominy of a refusal ; it is dis- 
honourable for a people that their poverty should be 
laid bare to the world, and that all men should see 
and know they could give so little to their prince.*!* 

This speech of Gowrie, and the daring way in which 
so young a man threw himself into the ranks of the 
faction opposed to the king, astonished the assembly. 
"Alas!" said Sir David Murray, a courtier, who 
stood near, " yonder is an unhappy man : his enemies 
are but seeking an occasion for his death ; and now 
he has given it." J But if others wondered, the king, 
to use an expression of Nicolabn's to Cecil, absolutely 
raged, and dismissed the assembly with a tumultuous 
burst of fierce and undignified invective ; mingling 
his abuse of the barons and burghs with praises of his 
nobility, whom he assured of his friendship and favour 
in all their affairs. " As for you, my masters," he 
exclaimed, turning with flashing eyes to the burghers, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 29th June, 1600. 
t Ibid. J MS. Calderwood, Ayscough, 4739, fol. 1389. 


" your matters, too, may chance to corne in my way ; 
and, be assured, I shall remember this day, and be 
even with you. It was I who gave you a vote in 
parliament ; I who made you a fourth estate : and it 
will be well for such as you to remember, that I can 
summon a parliament at my pleasure, and pull you 
down as easily as I have built you up."* This in- 
sulting speech roused one of the oldest of the barons, 
the Laird of Easter Wemyss, who boldly told the 
king that he misconstrued their meaning ; and forgot 
how much he owed them, and what great sums they 
had given him in his necessities. "We have done 
your majesty, 1 ' said he, " as good offices for our estate; 
and we, your majesty's burghs and barons, are as 
worthy your thanks as the proudest earl, or lord, or 
prelate here. Our callings may be inferior, but our 
devotedness is as great ; and so your majesty will find 
it when the proper time arrives. As for our places in 
parliament and convention, we have bought our seats ; 
we have paid your majesty for them ; and we cannot, 
with justice, be deprived of them. But the throne is 
surrounded by flatterers, who propagate falsehoods 
against us : let us be confronted with our accusers, 
and we engage to prove them liars ."j* 

With this haughty defence on the part of the lesser 
barons and burghs, and with the deepest feelings of 
displeasure against them and Gowrie, on the part of 
the king, the convention separated ; and James had 
to digest, not only the disgrace of a refusal, but the 
universal satisfaction which, if we may believe Nicol- 
son, it occasioned in the country. He was not diverted 
from his purpose, however ; for, not ten days after, 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 29th June, 1600. 

1600. JAMES VI. 289 

Sir Kobert Cecil, who was familiar with all that had 
taken place at the convention, was informed by one of 
his correspondents, that James' preparations against 
England continued, and that he intended not to tarry 
till Elizabeth's death. This news was written partly 
in cipher, on a slip of paper sent to Cecil, indorsed 
with the caution, " To read and burn? It contained 
this passage : " Nicolson tells me he understands, by 
one who never abused him, that the king is, by all 
means, seeking a party, and hath a party in England ; 
and by party or faction, if he can have commodity by 
either, * * intends not to tarry upon her ma- 
jesty's death, but take time so soon as without peril 
he can." * 

It is probably from this moment that we may date 
the actual rise of the Gowrie conspiracy. Elizabeth 
and James were, as we have just seen, on the very 
worst terms with each other. Gowrie, by every feel- 
ing of education, interest, and revenge, was attached 
to England and its queen ; and his conduct in the 
convention had now thrown him into mortal opposition 
with the King of Scots. James was intriguing with 
the queen's subjects in England. It was suspected he 
had fomented the rebellion in Ireland ; and all this at 
a moment when the queen was most likely to resent 
it deeply ; for she had lately been roused and irritated 
by the insane projects of Essex. Although aged, 
Elizabeth was still unbroken in health; yet James 
must be watching for her death, and openly admonish- 
ing his subjects to make preparations for taking pos- 
session of her crown. This Gowrie knew; and he 
reckoned on the support of England in anything he 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, 9th July, 1600. Secret information 
sent in the letter, indorsed, To read and burn. 



undertook against the king. He could build, too, 
with certainty on the favourable opinion of the lesser 
barons, and the influential body of the burghs. They 
had already made their stand against the king ; in the 
convention Gowrie had joined them ; and they under- 
stood each other. On the Kirk he could rely with 
still more certainty : he was the darling hope of the 
Presbyterian party, the son of their martyr : the 
youthful Daniel, who had kept his first faith entire in 
the bosom of idolatry, and in the very head-quarters of 
Antichrist. Could he doubt that, in any attempt to 
stay the headlong haste with which their unhappy 
king seemed to be throwing himself into the arms of 
the Catholic party, he would fail to have the whole 
force of the Kirk upon his side ? All this was encou- 
raging : and when, in addition to these inducements, 
he contemplated the rich reward awaiting his success, 
if he made himself master of the king's person ; the 
gratification of his ambition, power, place, fame, above 
all, revenge ; was it likely that a man of Gowrie's 
temperament would resist them all I Besides, he had 
enemies : his death and ruin, if we may believe one 
who must have had good cause of knowledge, were 
already resolved on ; * and if he did not become the 
assailant, it was a narrow chance but he might prove 
the victim. If, on the other hand, he could but 
strike the blow, his popularity and high connexions 
promised him many friends, on whose concurrence he 
could safely reckon. 

But how was the blow to be struck ? Here was the 

whole difficulty and danger; and here, young as he 

was, Gowrie appears to have devised a plot unlike any 

hitherto known in his country's history, although fer- 

* So p. 287. 

1600 JAMES VI. 291 

tile in conspiracies : more Italian than Scottish; crafty, 
rather than openly courageous ; and, from its very 
originality, not, perhaps, unlikely to have succeeded, 
had the parts assigned to the conspirators been differ- 
ently cast. His design appears to have been to decoy 
the king, by some plausible tale, into his castle of 
Gowrie, on the Tay ; to separate him from his suite, 
and compel him, by threats of instant death, to suffer 
himself to be carried aboard a boat which should be 
waiting on the river for the purpose. This was the 
first act in the projected plot: in the second, the 
vessel was to push instantly out to sea ; and the royal 
prisoner was to be conveyed, in a few hours, to an 
impregnable little fortalice which overhung the Ger- 
man Ocean, and where, if well victualled, a garrison 
of twenty men could, for months, have defied a royal 
army. To communicate with England, and admin- 
ister the government in the royal name, but under 
the dictation of Gowrie and his faction, would then 
be easy. It had been repeatedly done before in the 
history of the country, and very recently in the Raid 
of Ruthven ; why then should it not be done again ? 
In all this projected scheme there was some rash- 
ness ; something smacking of youth, audacity, and 
revenge ; but there was also some sagacity. Since 
the days of the conspiracy against Riccio, down to 
the Raid of Ruthven, most of the plots which chequer 
and stain the history of the country had failed, from 
admitting too many into their secret. A band or 
covenant had been drawn up; a correspondence opened 
with England ; the envoy at the Scottish court had 
been admitted to the secret ; the Kirk consulted ; the 
pulse of the burghs and barons felt ; and so many 
points presented for suspicion to work on, and trea- 


ehery to be rewarded, that success was unlikely, and 
discovery almost inevitable. That Gowrie had ob- 
served this, and had deeply studied the subject of 
"Conspiracies against Princes" under Machiavel, the 
most acute of masters, we know from a curious anec- 
dote preserved by Spottiswood. A short time before 
his unhappy death, a friend found him in the library, 
with a volume of the great Florentine in his hand. 
On inquiring the subject of his studies : showing him 
the book, he observed, that it was a collection of the 
most famous conspiracies against princes. " A perilous 
subject,' 1 ' 1 was the reply. " Yes," said the young con- 
spirator ; " perilous : because most of such plots have 
been foolishly contrived, and have embraced too many 
in the secret. He who goes about such a business, 
should beware of putting any man on his counsel." * 

Under this idea, Gowrie admitted to his secret as 
few associates as possible ; and his accomplices were 
men on whom he had the most implicit reliance. 
They appear to have been only four in number : his 
brother, Alexander Ruthven, commonly called the 
Master of Ruthven, who held an office in the king^s 
chamber ; Robert Logan of Restalrig, a Border baron, 
distantly connected with the Gowrie family ; a third 
person of rank and consequence, but whose name is 
still a mystery ; and, lastly, an old ruffian follower of 
LoganX called Laird Bower. Logan was a man al- 
ready known to Sir Robert Cecil ; who, on making 
some inquiries regarding him in 1599, received from 
the celebrated Lord Wylloughby, then governor of 
Berwick, this brief character of the Scottish Border 
baron: "There is such a Laird of Lesterligg, as 

* Spottiswood, History, p. 460. Hailes' Notes on the Gowrie Con- 

1600. JAMES vi. 293 

you write of : a main loose man ; a great favourer of 
thieves reputed ; yet a man of a good clan, as they 
here term it; and a good fellow."* The character 
here given of Logan was far too favourable : for there 
is no doubt that he was a desperate, reckless, and 
unprincipled villain, although a person of a good 
house, and true to his friends, according to the prin- 
ciples of that Border code under which he had been 
bred. He had run through a large estate in every 
kind of dissipation and excess, was a mocker at reli- 
gion, had been a constant follower of the notorious 
Bothwell, and was now drowned in debt ; yet, bad as 
he was, Laird Bower, his brother conspirator, his 
chamberlain, or household man, as he termed him, 
appears to have been a shade blacker. It was to this 
old Borderer that the perilous task was committed, of 
carrying the letters which passed between Logan and 
Gowrie. Bower had received his nurture and educa- 
tion in the service of David Hume of Manderston, 
commonly called " Davie the Devil; 11 and in this 
Satanic school had become a more debauched and 
daring ruffian than his master ; who described him, 
in writing to Gowrie, as a worthy fellow, who would 
not spare to ride to HelFs yett to pleasure him.^ Of 
the character of the other unknown conspirator, no- 
thing can be said, as his name remains yet a shadow. 
But if we may trust to popular report, Alexander, the 
Master of Ruthven, was a young man of the highest 
promise ; amiable, accomplished, gentle almost to a 
fault, and a universal favourite at court ; yet, strange 
as it may appear, the execution of that part of the 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Lord Wylloughby to Cecil, 1st 
January, 1598-9. The name is sometimes written Lestelrig, sometimes 

f Logan to Gowrie, in Pitcairc's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. p. 285. 


plot requiring the utmost sternness, promptitude, and 
decision, was committed to this youth. He it was on 
whom his brother laid the task of decoying the king 
into Gowrie House, and forcing him into the boat ; 
whilst Gowrie himself undertook to amuse or intimi- 
date the suite ; and Logan was to have his house of 
Fastcastle ready to receive the royal prisoner. 

Both these mansions, Gowrie House and Fastcastle, 
were, from their construction and situation, singularly- 
well calculated for the attempt against the king. The 
first was a large baronial mansion, of quadrangular 
shape, built in the town of Perth, and on the border of 
the Tay, the river washing the garden ; and fortified 
by a wall which ran along the bank, and was flanked 
by two strong towers. Its apartments were numerous ; 
arranged, as was usual in those times, en suite, and so 
as to communicate with each other ; and amongst 
them was a long gallery, which extended along one 
side of the square, and communicated, by a door at 
the end, with a chamber which, in its turn, led to a 
small circular room constructed in the interior of a 
turret. This gallery, and the other apartments, were 
accessible by a broad oaken staircase ; but the turret, 
or round room, could be reached also by a back spiral 
turnpike : so that a person who had entered it through 
the gallery, might escape, or could be conveyed away 
without again traversing the principal staircase. 

Fastcastle, the residence or den of Logan, was the 
very opposite of Gowrie House ; being a single square 
and massive feudal tower, standing on the brink of a 
steep and almost perpendicular black rock, which rose 
to the height of two hundred feet above the German 
Ocean. From the sea, it was completely inaccessible, 
unless to those who knew the secret of its steps cut in 

1600. JAMES VI. 295 

the rock, and could unlock the iron bolts and doors 
which defended them ; and on the land side, the isth- 
mus on which it stood was connected with the main- 
land by so narrow a neck, that any attempt to force 
its little drawbridge was hopeless. The distance from 
Gowrie House to Fastcastle, by sea, was about seventy 
miles ; from Fastcastle to the English Border, about 
twenty-five miles. 

It is now time to introduce the reader to the most 
interesting part of this strange story : the letters of 
the conspirators themselves. It appears from these 
documents, which were not discovered until many 
years after the deep tragedy in which the conspiracy 
concluded, that early in the month of July 1600, 
Gowrie wrote to Logan appointing a secret meeting, 
to confer " on the purpose he knew of" This letter is 
not now in existence ; but it was brief, alluding to 
what had passed before between them, and stating that 
Logan's absence in Lothian had prevented Gowrie 
from coming to see him at Fastcastle.* On the 
eighteenth July, 1600, Logan addressed a letter, which 
still remains, to the unknown conspirator already men- 
tioned. It was in these terms : 

" RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR, My duty with service 
remembered. Please you understand, my Lord of Go. 
and some others, his lordship's friends and weil-willers, 
who tender his lordship's better preferment, are upon 
the resolution you know, for the revenge of that cause ; 
and his lordship has written to me anent that purpose; 
whereto I will accord, in case you will stand to and 
bear a part : and before ye resolve, meet me and Mr 
A. R. [Alexander Ruthven] in the Canongate on 

* Examinations of George Sprot, printed in Pitcairn's Criminal Trials. 

T O*7O 

vol. 11. p. HI. 


Tuesday the next week ; and be as wary as ye can. 
Indeed, M. A. R. spoke with me four or five days 
since ; and I have promised his lordship an answer 
within ten days at farthest. 

" As for the purpose, how M. A. R. [Mr Alexander 
Ruthven] and I have set down the course, it will be 
ane very easy done turn, and not far by* that form, 
with the like stratagem, whereof we had conference in 
Cap.h. But in case you and M. A. R. forgather, -f* 
because he is somewhat consety,\ for God's sake be 
very wary with his reckless toys of Padua: for he told 
me one of the strangest tales of a nobleman of Padua 
that ever I heard in my life, resembling the like pur- 
pose." * * * After assuring him that he might 
place implicit faith in Laird Bower, the bearer of the 
letter, Logan again thus alluded to the plot : 

" Always to our purpose, I think it best for our 
plat that we meet all at my house of Fastcastle : for 
I have concluded with M. A. R.. how I think it shall 
be meetest to be convoyed quietest in a boat by sea ; 
at which time, upon sure advertisement, I shall have 
the place very quiet and well provided. 

" And as I receive your answer, I will post this 
bearer to my lord. And therefore I pray you, as you 
love your own life, as it is not a matter of mowise,|| 
be circumspect in all things, and take no fear but all 
shall be well/' * * * * 

Logan then went on to warn his friend not to re- 
veal anything of the plot either to Gowrie's old tutor, 
Mr William Rhynd, or to his brother Lord Home, 
before " the turn were done." He thus concluded : 

" When you have read, send this letter back again 

* By ; different from. + Forgather ; meet. Consety; flighty. 
Plat ; plot, scheme. H Mowise ; mows mummery. 

1600. JAMES vi. 297 

with the bearer, that I may see it burnt myself; for 
so is the fashion in such errands; and, if you please, 
write your answer on the back hereof, in case ye will 
take my word for the credit of the bearer. And use 
all expedition; for the turn wald not* be long delayed. 
Ye know the king's hunting will be shortly ; and then 
shall be the best time, as M. A. JR. has assured me 
that my lord has resolved to enterprise that matter ."-f- 

This letter of Logan's was dated from Fastcastle, 
eighteenth July ; and on the same day he sent the 
following letter, connected with the conspiracy, to 
Laird Bower, from his house in the Canongate of 
Edinburgh, informing him of a second letter " concern- 
ing the purpose which he had received from Gowrie." 

" LAIRD BOWER, I pray you hast you fast to me 
about the errand I told you, and we shall confer at 
length of all things. I have received a new letter 
from my Lord of Go., concerning the purpose that 
M. A., his lordship's brother, spake to me before; and 
I perceive I may have advantage of Dirlton in case 
his other matter take effect, as we hope it shall. Al- 
ways, I beseech you, be at me the morn j at even; for 
I have assured his lordship's servant that I shall send 
you over the water within three days, with a full re- 
solution of all my will anent all purposes. As I 
shall indeed recommend you and your trustiness to 
his lordship, as ye shall find an honest recompense for 
your pains in the end. I care not for all the land I 
have in this kingdom, in case I get a grip || at Dirlton: 
for I esteem it the pleasantest dvwelling in Scotland. 
For God's cause, keep all things very secret, that my 

* Wald not ; cannot. 

t Pitcairn, Criminal Trials, vol. ii. pp. 282, 283. 

J The morn ; to-morrow. Anent ; touching. jj Grip ; hold. 


lord, my brother, get no knowledge of our purposes ; 
for I [wald] rather be eirdit* quick." } 

Between the eighteenth of July, the date of both 
these letters, and the twenty-seventh of the same 
month, the conspirators appear to have met ; and the 
manner in which the attempt was to be made was 
arranged. It only remained to fix the precise day. 
This appears from the following letter of Logan, sent 
to the unknown conspirator, from his house in the 
Canongate, on the twenty-seventh of July : 

" RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR, All my hartly duty 
with humble service remembered. Since I have taken 
on hand to enterprise with my Lo. of Go., [Lord of 
Gowrie,] your special and only best beloved, as we 
have set down the plat already, I will request you 
that ye will be very circumspect and wise, that no 
man get an advantage of us. I doubt not but ye 
know the peril to be both life, land, and honour, in 
case the matter be not wisely used. And, for my own 
part, I shall have a special respect to my promise that 
I have made to his Lo., and M. A., his Lo. brother, 
although the scaffold were set up. If I cannot win 
to Falkland the first night, I shall be timely in St 
Johnston on the morn. Indeed, I lippened J for my 
Lo. himself, or else M. A. his Lo. brother, at my 
house of Fastcastle, as I wrote to them both. Al- 
ways I repose on your advertisement of the precise 
day with credit to the bearer ; for howbeit he be but 
a silly, auld, gleid J carle, I will answer for him that 
he shall be very true. 

" I pray you, Sir, read, and either burn or send 

* Eirdit quick ; buried alive. 

+ Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. p. 283. 

J Looked for, expected. Gleid ; squinting. 

1600. JAMES VI. 299 

again with the bearer ; for I dare hazard my life, and 
all I have else in the world, on his message, I have 
such proof of his constant truth. So commits you to 
Christ's holy protection."" * 

Two days after this, on the twenty-ninth July, 
and only a week before the attempt and fatal catastro- 
phe, Logan sent Laird Bower with the following letter 
to Gowrie. I give it all, as every word of its contents 
is of importance. 

" MY Lo.,~ My most humble duty, &c. At the 
receipt of your Lo. letter I am so comforted, especially 
at your Lo. purpose communicated to me therein, that 
I can neither utter my joy, nor find myself able how 
to encounter your Lo. with due thanks. Indeed, my 
Lord, at my being last in the town, M. A., your Lo. 
brother, imparted somewhat of your lordship's inten- 
tion anent that matter unto me; and if I had not 
been busied about some turns of my own, I thought 
to have come over to S. Jo.^ and spoken with your 
Lo. Yet always, my Lo., I beseech your Lo., both 
for the safety of your honour, credit, and, more than 
that, your life, my life, and the lives of many others, 
who may, perhaps, innocently smart for that turn 
afterwards, in case it be revealed by any ; and, like- 
wise, the utter wrecking of our lands and houses, and 
extirpating of our names ; look that we be all as sure 
as your Lo. ; and I myself shall be for my own part ; 
and then I doubt not, but, with God's grace, we shall 
bring our matter to a fine,J which shall bring con- 
tentment to us all that ever wished for the revenge of 
the Maschevalent massacring of our dearest friends. 

" I doubt not but M. A., your Lo. brother, has in- 

* Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 284. -\- St Johnston, or Perth. 

+ End. Machiavelian. 


formed your Lo. what course I laid down to bring all 
your Lo. associates to my house of Fastcastle by sea, 
where I should have all materials in readiness for their 
safe receiving a-land, and into my house, making, as 
it were, but a matter of pastime in a boat on the sea, 
in this fair summer tide ; and none other strangers to 
haunt my house while* we had concluded on the 
laying of our platt, which is already devised by Mr 
Alexander and me. And I would wish that your 
lordship would either come or send M. A. to me ; 
and thereafter I should meet your Lo. in Leith, or 
quietly in Restalrig, where we should have prepared a 
fine Jtattit Mt^ with sugar, confits, and wine, and 
thereafter confer on matters : and the sooner we 
brought our purpose to pass, it were the better, before 
harvest. Let not M. W. R. [Mr Wm. Rhynd,] 
your old pedagogue, ken J of your coming ; but rather 
would I, if I dare be so bold to entreat your Lo. once 
to come and see my own house, where I have kept my 
Lo. Bo. [Lord Both well] in his greatest extremities, 
say the K. and his Council what they would. And 
in case God grant us a happy success in this errand, 
I hope both to have your Lo. and his Lo., with many 
others of your lovers and his, at a good dinner before 
I die. Always, I hope that the king^s buck-hunting 
at Falkland this year shall prepare some dainty cheer 
for us against that dinner the next year. Hoc jocose y 
to animate your Lo. at this time ; but afterwards we 
shall have better occasion to make merry. 

" I protest, my Lo., before God, I wish nothing 
with a better heart, nor to achieve to that which 

* While ; until. 

f A Scottish dish, composed of coagulated milk, and eaten with rich 
cream and sugar. Know. Nor ; than. 

1 600. JAMES VI. 301 

your Lo. would fain attain unto : and my continual 
prayer shall tend to that effect ; and with the large 
spending of my lands, goods, yea the hazard of my 
life shall not affright me from that, although the 
scaffold were already set up, before I should falsify my 
promise to your Lo. ; and persuade your Lo. thereof. 
I trow your Lo. has a proof of my constancy ere now. 
"But, my Lo., whereas your Lo. desires, in my 
letter, that I crave my Lo., my brother's mind, anent 
this matter ; I alluterly * dissent from that, that he 
should ever be a councillor thereto : for, in good faith, 
he will never help his friend, nor harm his foe. Your 
Lo. may confide more in this old man, the bearer 
hereof, my man Laird Bower, nor in my brother; for 
I lippen -f- my life, and all I have else, in his hands : 
and I trow he would not spare to ride to Hell's yett* 
to pleasure me ; and he is not beguiled of my part to 
him. Always, my Lo., when your Lo. has read my 
letter, deliver it to the bearer again, that I may see it 
burnt with my ain een ; as I have sent your Lo. letter 
to your Lo. again : for so is the fashion, I grant. And 
I pray your Lo., rest fully persuaded of me, and of 
all that I have promised ; for I am resolved, howbeit 
I were to die the morn, J| I man IF entreat your Lo. to 
exspede ** Bower and give him strait direction, on 
pain of his life, that he take never a wink of sleep 
until he see me again, or else he will utterly undo us. 
I have already sent another letter to the gentleman 
your Lo. kens,-f-f as the bearer will inform your Lo. of 
his answer and forwardness with your Lo. ; and I 
shall show your Lo. farther, at meeting, when and 

* Alluterly ; entirely. f Lippen; trust. t Hell's gate. 

O\vn eyes. || Although I were to die to-morrow. 

t Must. ** Hasten. ft Knows. 


where your Lo. shall think meetest. To which time, 
and ever, commits your Lo. to the protection of Al- 
mighty God. From Gunnisgreen, the 29th of July, 

" Your Lo. own sworn and bound man 
to obey and serve, with efald* and ever 
ready service, to his utter power, to his 
life's end. RESTALRIG. 

" Prays your Lo. hold me excused for my unseemly 
letter, quilk is not so well written as mister^ were ; 
for I durst not let onyj of my writers ken of it, but 
took two sundry idle days to it myself. 

" I will never forget the good sport that M. A., 
your Lo. brother, told me of a nobleman of Padua; it 
comes so oft to my memory ; and, indeed, it is a paras 
teur to this purpose we have in hand." || 

Two days after the date of this letter to Gowrie, on 
the thirty-first of July, Logan, being still at his house 
of Gun's Green, wrote the following letter to the un- 
known conspirator: 

" RIGHT HONOURABLE SIR, My hartly duty re- 
membered. Ye know I told you, at our last meeting 
in the Canongate, that M. A. R., my Lord of Gowrie's 
brother, had spoken with me anent the matter of our 
conclusion ; and, for my own part, I shall not be 
hindmost. And sensynell I gat a letter fra his lord- 
ship's self for that same purpose ; and upon the receipt 
thereof, understanding his lordship's frankness and 
forwardness in it, God kens ** if my heart was not 
lifted ten stegess."f"f I posted this same bearer till 
his lordship, to whom you may concredit all your 

* True. + Need were. J Any. Apropos, in point. 

|| Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. pp, 284, 286. 
If Since then. ** Knows. )) Stages, degrees. 

1600. JAMES VI. 303 

heart in that as well as I ; for an * it were my very 
soul, I durst make him messenger thereof, I have sic -j- 
experience of his truth in many other things. He is 
a silly, auld, gleid J carle, but wondrous honest. And 
as he has reported to me his lordship's answer, I think 
all matters shall be concluded at my house of Fast- 
castle ; for I, and M. A. R., concluded that you 
should come with him and his lordship, and only ane 
other man with you, being but only four in company, 
intil || one of the great fishing-boats by sea, to my 
house ; where ye shall land as safely as on Leith shore. 
And the house, aganell his lordship's coming, to be 
quiet : and when you are about half a mile from shore, 
to gar set forth a waff.** But, for God's sake, let 
neither any knowledge come to my lord my brother's 
ears, nor yet to M. W. II. , my lordship's auld peda- 
gog; for my brother is ' kittle to shoe behind,' ff and 
dare not enterprise for fear : and the other will dis- 
suade us from our purpose with reasons of religion ; 
which I can never abide. 

" I think there is none of a noble heart, or carries 
a stomach worth a penny, but they would be glad to 
see a contented revenge of Grey Steil's death. J| And 
the sooner the better, or else we may be marred and 
frustrated; and, therefore, pray his lordship be quick. 
And bid M. A. remember the sport he told me of 
Padua ; for I think with myself that the cogitation 
on that should stimulate his lordship. And for God's 
cause, use all your courses cum discrecione. Fail not, 

* If. + Such. J Old, squinting. 

Carle, a man past 50 years of age. || In, 

jj Agane. The house to be kept quiet, awaiting his lordship's coming. 
** To cause set forth a signal. 
H* Difficult to shoe behind ; not to be trusted. 

JJ Grey Steil, a popular name of Growrie's father, taken from an old 
romance called " Grey-Steil." 



Sir, to send back again this letter : for M. A. learnit 
me that fashion, that I may see it destroyed myself. 
So, till your coming, and ever, commits you heartily 
to Chrises holy protection. From Gunnisgreen, the 
last of July, 1600." 

These letters explain themselves. Their import 
cannot be mistaken ; their authenticity has never been 
questioned ; they still exist ;* and although they do 
not open up all the particulars of the intended attempt, 
they establish the reality of the Gowrie conspiracy 
beyond the possibility of a doubt. The first proves 
that the Master of Ruthven and Logan had set down 


the course or plot for the preferment of Gowrie and 
the revenge of his father's death ; that the conspirators 
were to meet at Fastcastle ; and that they had fixed 
' the king's hunting " as the most favourable time for 
their attempt. Logan, it is seen from the same letter, 
did not think his brother, Lord Home, or Gowrie's 
old tutor, Mr William Rhynd, by any means safe 
persons to be intrusted with the secret of the conspi- 
racy. In the second letter to Bower, we have a glance 
at the rich bribe by which Gowrie had secured the 
assistance of Logan, the estate of Dirlton ; and in the 
third, his resolution to keep his promise " although 
the scaffold were set up," with his expectation to have 
speedy intimation sent him of the precise day when 
the attempt was to be made, and his presence required 
at St Johnston. Logan's letter to Gowrie is still more 
minute. It contains the determination to revenge the 
Machiavelian massacre of their dearest friends ; the in- 
tended rendezvous of the associates at Fastcastle, who, 
under the mask of a pleasure party by sea, were to be 
conveyed into that stronghold; the previous secret 

* In the General Register-House, Edinburgh. 

1600. JAMES vi. 305 

conference to be held at Restalrig over their " kattit kit 
and wine ;" the good cheer and happy success which 
the king's buck-hunting was to bring them ; the so- 
lemn and earnest injunctions of secrecy, life and 
lands, name and fame, hanging on the issue ; the al- 
lusion to the strange tale of Padua, so similar to their 
present purpose, that it seems to have haunted the 
" consety" or high-wrought imagination of Mr Alex- 
ander Ruthven ; the necessity of destroying their 
letters : all this is contained in Logan's letter to 
Gowrie himself; and in his last letter to the unknown 
conspirator, we have the direction how the signal is to 
be given at sea to those who were to be on the look- 
out from Fastcastle ; the exultation and joy at 
Cowrie's frankness and forwardness ; the last consul- 
tation appointed to be at Fastcastle ; Logan's candid 
character of himself, as utterly unable to abide all 
arguments from religion ; his exhortations to be speedy, 
and his anticipation of a glorious revenge for the death 
of " Grey Steil," the affectionate sobriquet or nick- 
name of the late Earl of Gowrie. All this is so clear- 
ly established by the correspondence, and so com- 
pletely proves the existence of Gowrie's plot for the 
surprise of the king, and the meeting of the conspira- 
tors at Fastcastle, that he who doubts must be too 
desperate in his scepticism to be reached by any evi- 
dence whatever. But we must proceed. 

This last letter of Logan's was written on Thurs- 
day, the thirty-first July ; and all that passed in the 
secret conclave of the conspirators, during the three 
succeeding days, till the night of Monday the fourth 
of August, is a blank. On that night Gowrie called 
his chamberlain, Andrew Henderson, into his bed- 
chamber, and commanded him to be ready to ride on 





the morrow early with his brother, the Master, to 
Falkland, and to bring back with speed any letter, or 
message, which he might receive from him.* 

The morning of Tuesday, the fifth of August, found 
the king and his nobles in the great park at Falkland, 
ready to mount on horseback, and proceed to their 
sport. It was still early, between six and seven 
o'clock : all was bustle and preparation ; and the king 
stood beside the stables surrounded by his hounds 
and huntsmen, when Alexander Ruthven, Gowrie's 
younger brother, came up, and, with a low courtesy, 
kneeling and uncovering, craved a moment's private 
audience on matter of the utmost moment. His ex- 
pression was perturbed, his manner hurried ; and the 
king, expecting a communication of importance, walked 
aside with him. Ruthven then declared, that he, the 
evening before, had met a suspicious-looking fellow 
without the walls of St Johnston, with his face muffled 
in a cloak ; and, perceiving him to be terrified and 
astonished when questioned, he had seized him; and, 
on searching, had found a large pot-full of gold pieces 
under his cloak. This treasure, with the man who 
carried it, he had secured, he said, in a small chamber 
in Gowrie House ; and he now begged the king to ride 
with him to Perth on the instant, and make sure of 
it for himself, as he had not even revealed the dis- 
covery to his brother the earl. James at first dis- 
claimed having any right to money thus found ; but 
when the Master, to one of his questions, stated that 
it seemed foreign gold, the vision of crowns of the sun 
and Spanish priests rose to the royal suspicion ; and 
he was about to despatch some servant of his own, to 
ride instantly with a warrant to the provost, and seize 

* Henderson's Declaration, Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. p. 175. 

1600. JAMES VI. 307 

the treasure, when Ruthven strongly protested against 
it : declaring that if either the magistrates or Gowrie 
got their nngers on the gold, it might chance that very 
few pieces would ever come into his majesty's purse ; 
and that all that he implored, in recompense for his 
fidelity, was that the king would ride with him to 
Perth, see the treasure, and judge with his own eyes. 

The Court was now on horseback ; the morning 
wearing on ; the baying of the hounds, and cheering 
of the huntsmen, told that the game was found ; and 
the king, impatiently putting an end to the interview, 
promised Ruthven an answer after he had killed the 
buck. James then galloped off; but the story haunted 
him ; and on the first check, he sent for Ruthven, 
who lingered near at hand, and whispered to him that 
he had resolved, the moment the chase was over, to 
accompany him to Perth. The young man instantly 
despatched Andrew Henderson, the chamberlain, who, 
in obedience to Gowrie'fl orders the night before, had, 
with Andrew Ruthven, accompanied him to Falkland; 
bidding him gallop to Perth, and tell Gowrie that the 
king would be there within a brief space, and slenderly 

When the chase was ended, which lasted till near 
eleven, the king surprised his courtiers by telling them 
he meant to ride immediately to St Johnston, to speak 
with the Earl of Gowrie ; and without giving himself 
or his nobles time to send for fresh horses, or waiting, 
as was usual, for the " curry of the deer, 11 * he rode off 
with Ruthven at so furious a pace, that he was some 
miles on the road before Lennox, or any of his suite, 
overtook him. All this time Ruthven had been 
agitated and restless ; now pressing the king to finish 

* French, curer; to cleanse ; the ripping up and cleansing the deer. 


the chase ; now urging him not to wait for fresh 
horses ; now insisting that neither Lennox, Mar, nor 
any number of his nobles should follow him, as it 
might spoil all ; and this to such a degree that James, 
as he pushed on, began to suspect and hesitate, and 
calling Lennox aside, told him the strange errand he 
was riding on ; asking him if Ruthven, his brother- 
in-law, had ever shown any symptoms of derangement. 
The duke pronounced the story utterly improbable ; 
but affirmed he had never seen anything like madness 
in Ruthven. " At all events," said James, " do not 
you, Lennox, fail to follow me into the room where 
this fellow and his treasure is. 1 ' This private confer- 
ence was not unobserved by Ruthven. He had a 
short time before despatched his other servant, Andrew 
Ruthven, to ride forward with a second message to 
Perth, and now coming up close to the king, implored 
him to make none living acquainted with their purpose, 
till he had himself seen the fellow and the treasure. 
It seems to have been at this moment that Sir Thomas 
Erskine, who had overtaken the king on the road, 
privately asked Lennox how it 'came that Ruthven 
had got the king's ear, and carried off his majesty 
from his sport ; to which Lennox jocularly answered, 
"Peace man; we shall all be turned into gold."* 
The whole party then rode forward ; and on coming 
within a mile of Perth, Ruthven, telling the king he 
must give warning to his brother, galloped on before. 
We must now for a moment turn to Gowrie, whom 
Henderson, on his arrival at Gowrie House, found, with 
two friends, in his chamber. He instantly left them, 
and inquired, secretly and earnestly, what word he 
had brought from his brother : had he sent a letter ; 

* Lloyd's Worthies, p. 783. 

1600. JAMES vi. 309 

how had the king taken with the Master ; who were 
with his majesty at the hunting, many or few ; what 
noblemen, what names ? To these hurried questions 
Henderson answered by giving the message sent by 
young lluthven : that the king would be with him 
incontinent, and he must prepare dinner. He added, 
that James had received the Master kindly, and laid 
his hand on his shoulder when he did his courtesy : 
that his majesty had sundry of his own suite with 
him, and some Englishmen ; and that the only noble- 
man he noticed was my Lord Duke. This was at ten 
o'clock.* Henderson then went to his own house, 
pulled off his boots, and returned to Gowrie House 
about eleven, when the earl commanded him to put 
on his "secret,^ and plate sleeves," as he would require 
his assistance to seize a Highlandman in the Shoe 
Gate. At half-past twelve Gowrie took his dinner, 
having, as his guests, three friends of the neighbour- 
hood ; and as they sat at table, Andrew Ruthven, the 
Master's second messenger, entered the room, and 
whispered to the earl. Soon after came the Master 
himself, upon which Gowrie and his friends rose ; and 
now for the first time openly alluding to the royal 
visit, he assembled his servants, and walked to the 
Inch or meadow near the town, where he met the king. 
James 1 train did not exceed twelve or fifteen per- 
sons, including Lennox, Mar, Sir Thomas Erskine, 
John Ramsay his page, Dr Hugh Herries, Lords 
Lindores and Inchaffray, with a few others. They 
wore their green hunting-dresses, and were wholly 
without armour; a horn slung over their shoulder, and 
a sword or deer-knife at their girdle, being all they 

* Henderson's Declaration, Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. p. 176. 
t A secret shirt of mail worn under the clothes. 


carried. Cowrie's servants and followers amounted 
nearly to fourscore ; but many of these must have 
been townsmen and lookers-on. On coming to Gowrie 
House the king called for a drink, and was somewhat 
annoyed at having to wait long for his welcome cup, 
and more than an hour for his dinner. During this 
interval, Alexander Ruthven sent for the key of the 
long room, called the Gallery Chamber, which imme- 
diately adjoined the cabinet where the king dined. 
At the end of this gallery was another apartment, 
which opened into a circular room, formed in the in- 
terior of a turret ; and this room, it is important to 
observe, could be entered, not only by the door at the 
end of the gallery, but by another door communicat- 
ing with a back-stair or turnpike, called the Black 
Turnpike. Soon after the king had sat down to din- 
ner, Gowrie, who waited upon him, sent for Hender- 
son, and taking him aside secretly, bade him go to his 
brother in the gallery. He obeyed ; found Mr Alex- 
ander there, and almost instantly after was joined by 
the earl himself, who commanded him to remain 
where he was, and obey the Master's orders.* Hen- 
derson was now fully armed, all except the head : he 
had noted that the tale about seizing a Highland 
thief in the Shoe Gate was a false pretence ; and be- 
ginning to suspect some treason, asked, in an agitated 
tone, what they were about to do with him ? 
The only reply of Gowrie and the Master was to 
point to the little chamber, make him enter the door, 
and lock him up. 

All this occupied but a few minutes, and Gowrie 
then returned to the king, who was sitting at his des- 
sert ; whilst the duke and the rest of his suite were 

* Henderson's Declaration, Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 177. 

1600. JAMES VI. 311 

dining in the next room. They had nearly finished 
their repast, when James, in a bantering manner, ac- 
cused Gowrie of having been so long in foreign parts 
as to have forgotten his Scottish courtesies. *' Where- 
fore, my lord," said he, " since ye have neglected to 
drink either to me or my nobles, who are your guests, 
I must drink to you my own welcome. Take this 
cup, and pledge them the king's scoll * in my name. 1 ' 
Gowrie, accordingly, calling for wine, joined the duke 
and his fellows, who were getting up from table ; and 
at this instant Alexander Huthven seizing the mo- 
ment when the king was alone, whispered him that 
now was the time to go. James, rising up, bade him 
call Sir Thomas Erskine ; but he evaded the message, 
and Erskine never received it. Lennox, too, remem- 
bering the king's injunctions, spoke of following his 
majesty ; but Gowrie prevented him, saying, his high- 
ness had retired on a quiet errand, and would not be 
disturbed ; -J- after which, he opened the door leading 
to his pleasure-ground, and with Lennox, Lindores, 
and some others, passed into the garden. Thus really 
cut off from assistance, but believing that he would be 
followed by Lennox or Erskine, James now followed 
Ruthven up a stair, and through a suite of various 
chambers, all of them opening into each other, the 
Master locking every door as they passed ; and ob- 
serving, with a smile, that now they had the fellow 
sure enough. At last they entered the small round 
room already mentioned. On the wall hung a picture 
with a curtain before it ; beside it stood a man in ar- 
mour; and as the king started back in alarm, Ruthven 
locked the door, put on his hat, drew the dagger from 

* The king's scoll ; the king's health. 

f Lennox's Declaration, Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 172. 




the side of the armed man, and tearing the curtain 
from the picture, showed the well-known features of 
the late Earl of Gowrie, his father. " Whose face is 
that ?" said he, advancing the dagger with one hand 
to the king's breast, and pointing with the other to 
the picture. "Who murdered my father? Is not 
thy conscience burdened by his innocent blood ? Thou 
art now my prisoner, and must be content to follow 
our will, and to be used as we list. Seek not to es- 
cape ; utter but a cry, (James was now looking at the 
window, and beginning to speak ;) make but a motion 
to open the window, and this dagger is in thy heart." 
The king, although alarmed by this fierce address, and 
the suddenness of the danger, did not lose his presence 
of mind : and as Henderson was evidently no willing 
accomplice, he took courage to remonstrate with the 
Master ; reminded him of the dear friendship he had 
borne him ; and " as for your father's death," said he, 
" I had no hand in it : it was my council's doing ; 
and should ye now take my life, what preferment will 
it bring you ? Have I not both sons and daughters ? 
You can never be king of Scotland ; and I have many 
good subjects who will revenge my death." Ruthven 
seemed struck with this, and swore he neither wanted 
his blood nor his life. " What racks * it then," said 
the king, " that you should not take off your hat in 
your prince's presence ?" Upon this Ruthven unco- 
vered, and James resumed. " What crave ye, an ye 
seek not my life?" " But a promise, Sir," was the 
reply. " What promise?" " Sir," said Ruthven, 
" my brother will tell you." " Go, fetch him, then," 
rejoined the king ; and to induce him to obey, he 
gave his oath, that till his return he would neither 

* What racks ; what forbids. 

]600. JAMES VI. 313 

cry out nor open the window. Ruthven consented ; 
commanded Henderson to keep the king at his peril ; 
and left the room, locking the door behind him. 

James now, for a moment, had time to breathe; and 
turning to Henderson, he asked him how he came 
there. The unhappy man declared he had been shut 
in like a dog. Would Gowrie do him any mischief ? 
Henderson answered he should die first. " Open the 
window, then, 1 ' said James ; and scarce had this been 
done, or rather when it was being done, Ruthven broke 
into the room again, and swearing there was no remedy, 
ran in upon the king, seized him by the wrists, and 
attempted to bind him with a garter or silk cord which 
he had in his hands. James, by a strong effort, threw 
himself loose, exclaiming, he was a free prince, and 
would never be bound ; and Henderson at this moment 
wrenching away the cord, the king " leapt free," and 
had almost reached the window, when Ruthven again 
seized him by the throat with one hand, and thrust 
the other into his mouth to prevent him giving the 
alarm. But James now rendered desperate, and ex- 
erting his utmost strength, dragged his assailant to 
the window, and throwing his head half out, though 
Ruthven's hand was still on his throat, cried out, 
"Treason! help! Earl of Mar, I am murdered!" 
Ruthven then dragged him back into the chamber, 
upbraiding Henderson as a cowardly villain, who 
would bring death upon them all, and attempted to 
draw his sword, which James prevented by grasping 
his right hand.* Henderson during this unlocked 
the door of the room, and then stood trembling and 
panic-struck, whilst a desperate wrestle continued be- 
tween the king and Ruthven. 

* Henderson's Declaration in Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 178. 




Leaving James in this struggle for life, we must 
turn for an instant to Gowrie, who had led Lennox 
and the other courtiers into the garden. Whilst there, 
Cranston, one of his attendants, ran up, and informed 
them that the king had left the castle by the back 
way, and was riding over the Inch, upon which Gowrie 
called to horse ; and he, Lennox, and the rest, hurry- 
ing down the great staircase, and shouting for their 
horses, some one asked the porter in the court-yard, 
if the king had passed. He declared he had not ; and 
insisted in his denial, although his master abused him 
as a lying varlet. Gowrie, upon this, ran back into 
the house, observing to Mar, he would ascertain the 
truth ; and returning within a few minutes, assured 
them that the king had really gone forth, and must 
now have reached the South Inch. Scarcely, however, 
was this falsehood uttered, when it was confuted ; for 
at this moment James 1 loud cry of treason and murder 
was heard ; and, looking up, they saw the king^s face 
at the window of the turret, the features red and 
flushed with exertion, and a hand on his throat.* 
All was now horror and confusion. Sir Thomas 
Erskine collared Gowrie, exclaiming, " Traitor, thou 
shalt die ! This is thy work ! n but was felled to the 
ground by Andrew Ruthven, whilst Gowrie asserted 
his innocence. Lennox^ first impulse was to save 
the king; and he, Mar, and some others, rushed up 
the great staircase to the hall ; but finding the door 
locked, began to batter it with a ladder which lay 
hard by.*f John Ramsay, one of the royal suite, was 
more fortunate. He remembered the back entry ; and 

* Lennox's Declaration, Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 173. Christie's Declaration, 
ibid., p. 187. 
f Id. ibid., Lindores' Declaration, Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 181. 

1600. JAMES VI. 315 

running swiftly up the turnpike stair to the top, 
dashed open the door of the round chamber with his 
foot, and' found himself in the presence of the king and 
Ruthven, who were wrestling in the middle of the 
chamber. James, with Ruthveu 1 s head under his 
arm, had thrown him down almost on his knees, 
whilst the Master still grasped the king's throat.* 
Ramsay was hampered by a hawk, a favourite bird of 
James" 1 , which he held on his wrist ; but throwing her 
off, and drawing his whinger, (* he made an ineffectual 
blow at Ruthven ; the king calling out to strike low, 
as the traitor had on a pyne doublet. J Ramsay then 
stabbed him twice in the lower part of the body. The 
king making a strong effort, pushed him backwards 
through the door, down the stairs ; and at this mo- 
ment Sir Thomas Erskine and Dr Herries rushing 
up the turnpike, and encountering the unhappy youth, 
bleeding, and staggering upon the steps, despatched 
him with their swords. As he lay in his last agony, 
he turned his face to them, and said, feebly, " Alas ! 
I had not the wyte o't.'^ 

All this passed so rapidly, that Ramsay had only 
time to catch a glance of a figure in armour, standing 
near the king, but motionless. When he next looked, 
it had disappeared. This seeming apparition was 
Henderson, still trembling, and in amazement, from 
the scene he had witnessed ; but who, seeing the door 
open, glided down the turnpike, and, as it turned out, 
fled instantly from the house ; passing, in his flight, 
over the Master's dead body. || At this moment, as 

* Ramsay's Declaration, Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 183. 
) Whinger ; a hunting knife. 

J Pyne doublet ; a concealed shirt of mail worn under the clothes. 
I had not the blame of it. 

|| Henderson's Declaration, Ramsay's Declaration, and Sir Thomas 
Erskine's Declaration, all printed in Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 175-184 inclusive. 




Erskine and Ramsay were congratulating the king, a 
new tumult was heard at the end of the gallery ; and 
they had scarcely time to hurry James into the ad- 
joining chamber, when Gowrie himself, furious from 
passion, and armed with a rapier in each hand, rushed 
along the gallery, followed by seven of his servants, 
with drawn swords. His vengeance had been roused 
to the utmost pitch, by his having stumbled over the 
bleeding body of his brother ; and swearing a dreadful 
oath that the traitors who had murdered him should 
die, he threw himself desperately upon Erskine and 
his companions, who were all wounded in the first on- 
set, and fought at great odds, there being eight to 
four.* Yet the victory was not long doubtful ; for, 
some one calling out that the king was slain, Gowrie, 
as if paralysed with horror, dropt the points of his 
weapons, and Ramsay, throwing himself within his 
guard, passed his sword through his body, and slew 
him on the spot. The servants, seeing their master 
fall, gave way, and were driven out of the gallery ; 
and Lennox, Mar, and the rest, who were still thun- 
dering with their hammers on the outside of the great 
door, having made themselves known to the king and 
his friends within, were joyfully admitted. So effec- 
tually, however, had Ruthven secured this door, that 
it was only by passing a hammer through one of the 
shattered boards, and with it forcibly wrenching off 
the lock, that their entrance was effected. The first 
thing that met their eyes was the dead body of Gowrie 
lying on the floor, and the king standing unharmed 
boside it, although still breathless from the recent 

* Thomas Robertson's Declaration, Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 196 ; also, ibid., 
p. 197; Ramsay's Declaration, ibid., pp. 183, 184; and Sir Thomas Erskine's 
Declaration, ibid., p. 182 ; William Robertson's Declaration, ibid., p. 197. 

1600. JAMES VI. 317 

struggle, and disordered in his dress. At this mo- 
ment, Grahame of Balgone, one of the gentlemen who 
had accompanied the king from Falkland, found a silk 
garter lying amongst the bent, or rough grass with 
which the floor of the round chamber was covered ; 
and James immediately recognised it as the same with 
which Ruthven had attempted to bind his hands.* 
The king then knelt down, and, surrounded by his 
nobles, who were all on their knees, devoutly thanked 
God for his deliverance ; arid prayed that the life 
which had been thus signally preserved, might be de- 
voted to the welfare of his people. 

Scarcely, however, had they risen from their act of 
gratitude, when a new danger began to threaten them. 
The city bell was heard ringing, mingled with shouts 
and cries of vengeance, from an immense mob who 
beset the outside of Gowrie House, and threatened to 
blow it up, and bury them in the ruins. Andrew 
Ruthven and Violet Ruthven, two near relatives of 
the family of Gowrie, had been busy in rousing the 
citizens ; and, running wildly through the streets, 
vented curses and maledictions on " the bloody but- 
chers'" who had murdered their young provost and his 
brother. Nor did many spare to threaten the king 
himself; crying out, "Come down, come down, thou 
son of Seignor Davie ! thou hast slain a better man 
than thyself. Come down, green coats, thieves and 
traitors ! limmers that have slain these innocents. 
May God let never nane o' you have such plants of 
your ain ! "f Amid this hubbub, and storm of lamen- 

* Grahame's Declaration, Pitcairn's Criminal Tiials. vol. ii. p. 184 : 
also, p. 217. 
f Ibid., vol. ii. pp. 197, 193, 190. 




tation and vengeance, James ordered the magistrates 
to be admitted into the house ; and having informed 
them of all that had happened, commanded them to 
silence the alarum-bell, and quiet the people on their 
peril ; which they at last with difficulty effected. He 
then ordered them to take care of the dead bodies; and 
on searching Gowrie^s person, there was found in the 
pocket of his doublet, a little parchment bag full of 
" magical characters and words of enchantment, 11 which 
his tutor, EJiynd, recognised as the same he had dis- 
covered him wearing at Padua.* A belief in sorcery 
was, as is well known, universal in these days ; and 
such superstitious credit did both king and people give 
to the little bag of cabalistic words, that they insisted 
that no blood had issued from the wound till the spell 
was removed from the body, after which it gushed out 

James now took horse, and although it was already 
eight in the evening, rode to Falkland amid crowds of 
his subjects, who poured in from all quarters to testify 
their joy at his escape. Next day, the news having 
been brought to Edinburgh, nothing could exceed the 
enthusiastic demonstrations of the city ; and the same 
scene was repeated, with still louder and more affec- 
tionate welcome, when the king, after a brief retire- 
ment at Falkland, passed over the Forth, and entered 
his capital. The Cross was hung with tapestry ; the 
whole city, led by the judges and magistrates, met 
him on the sands at Leith ; and from thence he rode 
in triumph, and amid an immense congregation of all 
classes of his people, to the Cross, where Mr Patrick 

* Declaration of Rhynd, Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. pp. 218, 219, 

3600. JAMES vi. 319 

Galloway preached to the multitude, gave the story 
of the treason, and described the miraculous escape of 
the monarch. His sermon still remains, an extra- 
ordinary specimen of the pulpit eloquence of the 
times * 

* Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. ii. p. 248. 






Henry IV. 

Rudolph II. 

Philip III. 

Philip III. 

Clement VIII. 

THE general gratulation manifested at the escape of 
the king from the treason of Gowrie, was not without 
its alloy. Though almost all believed in the reality 
of the conspiracy, a section of the Kirk demurred and 
doubted ; and as the death of both the brothers had 
involved the particulars of the plot in extreme obscurity, 
the ministers not only declared it questionable that 
any treason had been intended, but, after a while, 
started the extravagant theory that the plot was a 
conspiracy of the king against Gowrie, not of Gowrie 
against the king. To examine or refute this hypo- 
thesis, after the facts which have been given, would be 
worse than idle ; and we are not to be surprised that 
the incredulity of the Kirk should have incensed the 
king. But James adopted an unwise mode of refuta- 
tion. Instead of simply insisting on the great features 
of the story, on the leading facts which were indis- 
putably proved by the evidence of Lennox, Mar, 
Erskine, and Ramsay, and throwing aside all minor 
matters and apparent contradictions, which, consider- 

1600. JAMES vi. 32 1 

ing the rapidity, terror, and tumult accompanying the 
event, confirmed rather than weakened the proof; he 
forgot his dignity ; held repeated conferences with the 
recusant ministers; argued, cavilled, remonstrated, 
and attempted in vain to explain and reconcile every 
minute particular. The effect of all this was precisely 
what might have been anticipated : Mr Robert Bruce, 
and his little sceptical conclave of brethren, were quite 
as ingenious in their special pleading as the king ; and 
not only obstinately refused to accuse Gowrie in their 
pulpits of any plot against the royal person, but in- 
solently insinuated that their two favourites had been 
murdered. James, finding them immoveable, banished 
them from the capital ; and interdicted them, under 
pain of death, from preaching in any part of Scotland. 
This severity brought four of the recusants, Bal- 
canquel, Watson, Hall, and Balfour, to reason ; and 
they declared themselves thoroughly satisfied of the 
truth of Gowrie's treason. But Bruce was inexorable. 
He considered that the question involved not only the 
truth of the conspiracy, but the spiritual independence 
of the Kirk ; peremptorily refused to exculpate the 
king, or believe in his report ; and was banished to 
France.* Extreme measures were then adopted against 
the family of Ruthven ; and in a parliament which 
assembled in the succeeding month of November, the 
revolting spectacle was exhibited of the trial for trea- 
son of the livid corpses of these unhappy brothers ; 
which, after the doom of forfeiture had been pro- 
nounced, were hauled to the gibbet, hanged and 
quartered. Their quarters were then exposed in the 
most conspicuous places of Perth, Stirling, and Dun- 
dee, and their heads fixed on the top of the prison in 

* Spottiswood, p. 461. 


Edinburgh. Nor was the ignominy heaped upon the 
dead greater than the severity against the living. An 
attempt was made, on the very night of the catastro- 
phe, to seize the two younger brothers of the house, 
who, at the time, were living with their unhappy 
mother at Dunkeld; but a vague .report of danger had 
reached her, and they had escaped in disguise, accom- 
panied by their tutor, who brought them in safety to 
Berwick.* On the king's return to Falkland, on the 
night of the fifth of August, the sister of Gowrie, Mrs 
Beatrix Ruthven, who was maid of honour to the 
queen, was dismissed and banished. from court. By 
an act of the same parliament which inflicted the for- 
feiture, the very name of Ruthven was abolished; and 
the brethren and posterity of the house of Gowrie 
declared to be for ever incapable of enjoying inheri- 
tance, place, or dignity, in Scotland. Such was the 
avidity with which the favourites of the court sought, 
for their own profit, to hunt down this ill-fated family, 
and fulfil the stern wishes of the king, that but for the 
generous protection of England, not a male of the 
house of Ruthven would have been left. 

The relations between Elizabeth and James, pre- 
vious to the conspiracy, had been, we have seen, far 
from friendly ; and this connivance of the queen at 
the concealment of the young Ruthvens, with other 
suspicious reports which arose immediately after the 
catastrophe, created a strong impression in the mind 
of the king that the plot had been fostered in England. 
It was remembered mat Gowrie had been admitted, 
immediately previous to the attempt, into the most 
intimate confidence of the English queen ; it was ob- 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Serope to Sir R. Cecil, llth 
August, 1600. Ibid., same to the same, 15th August, IC'OO. 

1600. JAMES vi. 323 

served that Rhynd, Gowrie's tutor, had been found 
destroying letters at the moment he was apprehended ; 
it was reported that Nicolson, the English resident at 
Edinburgh, had been seen waiting, early on the morn- 
ing of the sixth of August, on the shore at Leith, and 
had whispered to a friend, who had betrayed his secret, 
that he was expecting strange news from the other side 
of the water. The Earl of Mar accused Lord Wyl- 
loughby, the governor of Berwick, to the king, as being 
privy to the plot ; but his only evidence seems to have 
been Wylloughby's intimacy with Gowrie at the court 
of England ; and this high-minded and brave soldier 
deeming his character far above such suspicion, did 
not condescend to confute the charge.* All these 
things, however, made an impression. When Nicolson 
assured the king of his devout thankfulness for his 
escape, the only answer he received, was an incredulous 
smile from James ; and many of the highest rank in 
Scotland, and best entitled to credit, persisted in tra- 
cing the whole conspiracy to England. Many, on the 
other hand, insisted on the total want of all direct 
evidence of Gowrie's guilt ; and as the letters of Logan 
of Restalrig had not then come to light, it was difficult 
to confute such sceptics. Cranston, Craigengelt, and 
Baron, all of them servants of Gowrie, who were exe- 
cuted for their participation in the enterprise, had been 
examined by torture ; and both in the agony of the 
" boots, 11 and afterwards on the scaffold, confessed no- 
thing which could implicate their unhappy master or 
themselves ; and the letters of Nicolson, Lord Scrope, 
and Sir William Bowes, made little scruple of throw- 
ing the chief guilt upon the king. 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 6th August, 1600. 
Id. ibid., llth August, 1600. Id. ibid., B.C., Lord Wylloughby to Cecil. 


Amid all this obscurity, recrimination, and conjec- 
ture, James despatched Captain Preston to carry an 
account of his escape to Elizabeth ; and she, in her 
turn, sent down Sir Harry Brunker with a singular 
letter, written wholly in her own hand, which began 
with congratulations, and concluded in a tone of 
mingled menace and reproach. Her anger had been 
raised on a subject which never failed to produce in 
her mind unusual excitement James 1 intrigues as to 
the succession ; and after a few lines on her joy at 
his escape, she attacked him in the following bitter 
terms on his impatience for her death, and the inde- 
cent haste of his preparations : 

"And though a king I be, yet hath my funerals been 
prepared, as I hear, long ere, I suppose, their labour 
shall be needful ; and do hear too much of that daily, 
as I may have a good memorial that I am mortal : 
and withall so be they, too, that make such prepara- 
tion aforehand ; whereat I smile, supposing that such 
facts may make them readier for it than I. 

" Think not but how wilily soever things be carried, 
they are so well known that they may do more harm 
to others than to me. Of this my pen hath run farther 
than at first I meant, when the memory of a prince's 
end made me call to mind such usage, which too many 
countries talks of, and I cannot stop my ears from. 
If you will needs know what I mean, I have been 
pleased to impart to this my servant some part thereof; 
to whom I will refer me ; and will pray God to give 
you grace to know what best becomes you. 

" Your loving Sister and Cousin."* 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Royal Letters, Scotland. Copy of her 
Majesty's letter to the King of Scots, written with her own hand, and sent 
by Sir Henry Brunker, 21st August, 1600. 

1600. JAMES VI. 325 

What Elizabeth here alluded to by the memory of 
a prince's end is somewhat obscure ; and her ambas- 
sador's explanation, to which she referred him, does 
not appear : but the subjects which had especially 
excited her wrath, were James 1 correspondence with 
the Earl of Essex, and his recent reception of Sir 
Edmund Ashfield, the same knight who had been 
so unceremoniously kidnapped by Bowes and Guevara, 
and Lord Wylloughby. It was mortifying enough 
to a princess clinging, as still she did, to the last 
remnant of life and glory, to know that her subjects 
(as she bitterly said) "were looking to the rising sun ;" 
but to find them in the very act of worship, chafed 
her to the quick : and perhaps nothing weighed 
heavier against Essex, than his suspected favour for 
James. There is a remarkable paper preserved, in 
which Ashfield gave his opinion to the Scottish king 
on the best mode of accomplishing his great object ; 
and although no letters between James and Essex 
have been discovered, there seems to be little doubt 
that this unfortunate nobleman, now a prisoner in the 
Tower, had engaged to support the claim of the Scot- 
tish monarch with the whole weight of his influence. 
In his advices, Ashfield complimented James on the 
wisdom and judgment which had distinguished his 
policy towards the State and people of England. It 
was a great matter, he observed, that none feared his 
future government, or had taken offence at his person. 
He instructed him to employ every effort to gain the 
common lawyers, who possessed the " gainfullest " 
offices ; were rich and politic men ; more feared than 
beloved by the people, yet very powerful in the State. 
He ought next, he said, to secure the clergy, who pos- 
sessed the greatest influence in the universities; were 


rich ; and had most of the people, and many of the 
nobility and gentry at their devotion. He should 
assure them that he had no intention of altering the 
state of religion, or their livings ; which, according 
to the then computation of the parishes in England, 
amounted to nine thousand seven hundred and twenty- 
seven. And if (Ashfield added) the king declared his 
inclination to exempt them from the heavy taxes which 
they now paid, it would go far to bring over the whole 
body to his service. He also advised the king to have 
letters ready, at the time of Elizabeth's death, to some 
one or two of the chiefest " men of command" in every 
shire and corporation, and promised to procure him a 
list, not only of the names of such, but also of the 
collectors and tellers of the crown rents in England, 
to whom he might give speedy and special directions, 
by gracious letters, and win them to his service. His 
last remark related to the " citizens of London," a 
body of men whom he described as rich, strong, and 
well governed ; who would stand firm to the preserva- 
tion of their wealth, and keep themselves neutral till 
they saw which of the competitors was likely to prove 
the strongest, and how the game would go.* 

Immediately after the meeting of that parliament, 
in November, in which the forfeiture of the Gowries 
took place, some unhappy differences broke out between 
the king and his queen ; this princess having shown a 
deeper commiseration for the Ruthven family than 
James approved of. Amongst the innumerable re- 
ports which had arisen, after the catastrophe, it had 
been whispered that jealousy had lent its sting to the 
royal wrath. But although Anne of Denmark was 
sufficiently gay and thoughtless to give some ground 

* MS. British Museum, Julius, F. vi. 133. 

1600. JAMES VI. 327 

for the imputation, the common story of her passion 
for the Master of Ruthven seems to rest on nothing 
more than the merest rumour. She imprudently had 
given her countenance to that party at court which 
opposed the extreme severity of the king. It was re- 
ported that she had secretly sent for Beatrix Ruthven, 
and favoured her witha midnight interview in the palace. 
She suspected that intrigues were carrying on against 
her ; and, on one occasion, if we may believe Nicolson 
the envoy of Elizabeth, was so far overcome by passion, 
that she openly upbraided James with a plot for her 
imprisonment; and warned him that he would not 
find her so easy a prey as an Earl of Gowrie. The 
probability, however, is, that all this was much exag- 
gerated by the gossiping propensities of Nicolson: 
for the royal couple, whom he represented as on very 
evil terms on the thirty-first of October, had been 
described in a letter, written only two days before, as 
exceedingly loving, and almost ultra-uxorious.* In 
the midst of this alternate matrimonial shade and 
sunshine, Anne gave birth to a prince, afterwards the 
unfortunate Charles the First; whose baptism was 
held, with great state and pageantry, on the thirtieth 
of December.-f- 

Captain Preston, James'' ambassador, now returned 
from the court of England, and brought a more ami- 
cable letter from the queen than her former ironical 
epistle. In speaking of Gowrie's treason, she declared 
her fervent wishes, that " the bottom of such a cankered 
malady should be fathomed to the uttermost ;" and in 
alluding to the sorceries of the earl, and the familiar 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 28th October, 1600. 
Also, ibid., same to same, 31st October, 1600. 

f MS. Latter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 30th Dec., 1600. 


spirits who were said to wait on his will, expressed 
her conviction, that " none were left in Hell," so de- 
testable was the treason ; but this, she concluded, 
ought to increase his gratitude to that Almighty 
Power under whose wings no infernal assaults could 
reach him, as it gave greater fervency to the Amen 
with which she accompanied her thanksgiving.* How- 
ever involved or pedantic, there was no such obscurity 
in this letter as in the former ; no dark hints or 
menaces : and its conciliatory tone was met by James 
with every friendly and grateful offer of assistance 
against her enemies. He revealed to her all the secret 
intelligence he had received from Spain, and promised 
his utmost efforts to raise a force of two thousand 
Highland soldiers, to act as auxiliaries with the Eng- 
lish army in Ireland.*^ When this proposal, however, 
afterwards came before the convention of the three 
Estates, many of the Highlanders and Islesmen sternly 
refused to bear arms against the Irish ; a race to whom 
they were linked, they said, by common descent, and 
a common language ; whilst the Saxons, or English, 
whose battles they were to fight, had long been the 
bitter enemies, both of themselves and their Irish 
ancestors. What impression English gold might have 
made on these patriotic scruples is not certain ; for, 
before the muster could be made, a signal victory of 
the deputy, Lord Mountjoy, over the united forces of 
Tyrone and the Spaniards, rendered all foreign assis- 
tance unnecessary.! 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Royal Letters. Draft copy of her Ma- 
jesty's letter to the King of Scots, sent by his ambassador, Mr Preston, 14th 
September, 1600. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 4th July, 1602. 

I MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 3d January, 1601-2. 
Ibid., same to the same, 6th February, 1601-2. 

1600-1. JAMES VI. 329 

The fate of Essex, who now lay a condemned prisoner 
in the Tower, was a subject of deep interest to James. 
What negotiations had passed between this unfortu- 
nate nobleman and the King of Scots, it is extremely 
difficult to discover. No letters from Essex to James, 
or from the king to Essex, have been preserved ; at 
least none have been discovered : and the assertion of 
Rapin, which has been more or less copied by all suc- 
ceeding English historians, that James was actually 
a fellow-conspirator with him in his insane project for 
the seizure of the queen's person, and that it was a 
part of their plot to dethrone Elizabeth and crown 
James, is utterly improbable, and supported by no 
evidence whatever. That the king, in common with 
all who knew him best, esteemed and admired Essex, 
and that Essex had written to James after his return 
from Ireland, is, however, certain ; nor is it at all im- 
probable that the English earl had laboured to estrange 
the Scottish monarch from Cecil, and to persuade him 
that the secretary was an enemy to his claim, and 
favoured the title of the Infanta. There undoubtedly 
was a time, as we learn from James 1 secret instructions 
to Burlie,* (whom he despatched in 1601 to the Grand 
Duke of Tuscany,) when the Scottish king hesitated 
whether it would be best to secure the aid of the party 
of Essex or of Cecil in his secret negotiations with 
England; but the defeat and imprisonment of this 
unfortunate nobleman convinced him that his case 
was desperate ; and there is an expression in one of 
James 1 memoranda, from which we may infer, that to 
conciliate Elizabeth he had meanly sent her one of 
Essex's letters to himself. 

However this may be, the Scottish king, some time 

* Hailes' Cecil Correspondence, p. 112. 


before the trial of Essex, had determined to communi- 
cate with Elizabeth, on some points wherein he found 
himself aggrieved ; and he now, with the view of in- 
terceding for his gallant and unfortunate friend, de- 
spatched to London two ambassadors, the Earl of Mar, 
one of his highest and most trusted nobles, and Mr 
Edward Bruce abbot of Kinloss, a person of great 
judgment and experience. They set off towards the 
middle of February 1 601,* with a gallant suite of more 
than forty persons ; and on their arrival at Berwick, 
were received by the governor, Lord Wylloughby ; 
who gathered from them, in the course of their brief 
intercourse, that the chief object of their mission was 
to congratulate the English queen on her escape from 
the treason of Essex, and to remonstrate against the 
reception and relief of Gowrie's brothers in England.-J- 
In their conversations with this nobleman, they appear 
to have avoided any allusion to the probable fate of 
Essex ; yet that James had directed them to intercede 
for his friend cannot be doubted. His compassion, 
however, came too late ; for Essex was beheaded before 
the ambassadors reached London. The original in- 
structions for their mission have not been preserved ; 
but a letter of their royal master to Mar and Kinloss, 
written soon after their arrival, opens up to us much 
of its secret history. The real purpose for which they 
went, was to feel the pulse of the English nobility and 
people on the great subject of the-Tsuccession ; to se- 
cure friends ; to discover and undermine opponents ; 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 15th Feb., 1600-1. 
Written on the day Nicolson communicated to James the intelligence of 
the determination to execute Essex. Certain news of his death were brought 
on 4th March, 1600-1. 

t MS. Letter, State-paper Office, B.C., Lord Wylloughby to Cecil, 22d 
Feb., 1601, following the Scottish computation : 1600 the English. 

1601. JAMES VI. 331 

to conciliate the queen, and, if possible, procure from 
her a more distinct recognition of James 1 title to the 
throne : above all, to gain Secretary Cecil, who was 
now at the head of the English government, and on 
whose friendly disposition James had long believed 
that everything depended. Many others had been 
forward in offering their assistance ; and to all he pru- 
dently gave a cordial reception ; but to Cecil alone he 
looked as the man who had the game in his hand, and 
whom he described in his letter of instructions as 
" king there in effect."* 

On the first audience of Mar and Kinloss, however, 
all seemed likely to miscarry. From the coldness 
and jealousy of Elizabeth, she appeared to resent some 
expressions in the king's sealed letter, written wholly 
in his own hand, and expostulating with her, in very 
decided terms, against her too easy belief of the unjust 
imputations so generally circulated against him. He 
declared that he was impelled by their long friendship 
and her own example, to unbosom his griefs, and not 
to suffer any misconstrued thoughts against her actions 
to take harbour in his heart ; for which purpose, hav- 
ing already experienced the mischief which both had 
suffered from the* employment of inferior diplomatic 
agents, he had now sent one of his highest nobles, the 
Earl of Mar, and one of his wisest councillors, the 
Abbot of Kinloss ; both of them men of known and 
constant affection to the continuance of the amity 
between the two nations and their sovereigns ; and 
whom he had fully instructed to deal with all " that 

* Secret Correspondence of Sir R. Cecil, by Lord Hailes, p. 12. From 
a MS. Letter, State-paper Office, James Hudson to Cecil, 7th March, 1600- 1 , 
it appears the ambassadors arrived in London early in March. Their audi- 
ence seems to have been on the 22d of March. MS. Letter, State-paper 
Office, Hudson to Cecil, 21st March, 1600-1. 


honest plainness which was the undisseverable com- 
panion of true friendship."* 

Their plainness, however, seems to have been rather 
too much for the temper of Elizabeth, which, at no 
time very amiable, was now fretted and broken by her 
increasing infirmities. " Her majesty, 11 said Cecil to 
Nicolson, " gave the Earl of Mar nothing but negative 
answers ; the matters being of so sour a nature to the 
queen, who loves neither importunity nor expostula- 
tion." When the ambassadors explained the great 
pecuniary embarrassments of their royal master, and 
his hopes that, having done so much to assist her 
against their common enemies, he now expected some 
return in current coin, she met the proposal with a 
haughty denial. She would give, she said, no ready 
money ; but, if he continued to deserve it, his pension 
should be augmented ; and in the meantime, it would 
be well if he, who boasted of his services against the 
common enemy, would cease all traffic with Spain, and 
receive less frequent messages from Rome. As to 
Lady Lennoxes lands, which he claimed so confidently, 
he should not receive a fraction of their rents ; his 
title to them, she thought, was still in nubibus ; and 
till he made it out more clearly, the estates were in 
safe hands. For the other matters on which they 
had shown themselves so importunate, they were of 
too delicate and important a nature to be suddenly 
handled ; and she wondered, she. said, at the boldness 
and perseverance with which they had pressed upon 
her, and dared to broach to her council, so forbidding 
a subject.^ This, of course, alluded to the succession ; 

* State-paper Office, Royal Letters, Scotland, James to Elizabeth, wholly 
in the king's own hand, 10th February, 1601. 

t MS. Letter, British Museum, Titus, C. vii. f. 124, Elizabeth to James, 
llth May, 1601. , 

1601. JAMES vi. 333 

which, reminding her of the probability of her near 
dissolution, proved unpalatable in the extreme ; so 
that the ambassadors wrote to the king in the lowest 
spirits, and strongly remonstrated with Secretary 
Cecil on their strange reception. Nothing in the 
world, they said, in addressing this minister, but their 
uncomfortable experience, could have persuaded them 
that his royal mistress would have treated the offers 
which regarded her own safety, and the welfare of her 
people, with so little regard ; whilst, on the other hand, 
she gave so ready an ear to the enemies of their mas- 
ter, and the vile slanders which had been circulated 
against him. They must make bold to tell him, that 
there was a great difference between vigilancy and cre- 
dulity ; and that it formed no part of wisdom, "ponere 
rumores ante salutem? * 

It is interesting to attend to the directions which 
this unpromising state of things drew from the Scot- 
tish king. The ambassadors, it would appear, had 
sought his instructions as to the terms in which they 
ought to leave the English queen, if she continued in 
this unpropitious and distant temper. " As to your 
doubt," said he, "in what sort to leave there,^ it must 
be according to the answer you receive to the former 
demands : for if ye be well satisfied therein, then must 
ye have a sweet and kind parting ; but if ye get no- 
thing but a flat and obstinate denial, which I do surely 
look for, then are ye, in both the parts of your com- 
mission, to behave yourself thus : 

" First, ye must be the more careful, since ye come 
so little speed in your public employment with the 

* MS. Letter, British Museum, Caligula, D. ii. f. 470, Earl of Mar and 
Mr Bruce abbot of Kinloss to Secretary Cecil, 29th April, 160L 
+ To leave there, i. e., in what terms you take your leave. 


queen, to set forward so much the more your private 
negotiation with the country ; and if ye see that the 
people be not in the highest point of discontentment, 
(whereof I already spake,) then must ye, by your 
labours with them, make your voyage at least not all 
utterly unprofitable ; which doth consist in these 
points : First, to obtain all the certainty ye can of 
the town of London, that in due time they will favour 
the right ; Next, to renew and confirm your acquain- 
tance with the Lieutenant of the Tower ; Thirdly, to 
obtain as great a certainty as ye can of the fleet, by 
the means of Lord Henry Howard's nephew, and of 
some sea-ports ; Fourthly, to secure the hearts of as 
many noblemen and knights as ye can get dealing with, 
and to be resolved what every one of their parts shall 
be at the great day; Fifthly, to foresee anent* armour 
for every shire, that against that day my enemies 
have not the whole commandment of the armour, and 
my friends only be unarmed ; Sixthly, that, as ye 
have written, ye may distribute good seminaries -f- 
through every shire, that may never leave working in 
the harvest until the day of reaping come ; and gener- 
ally to leave all things in such certainty and order, 
as the enemies be not able, in the meantime, to lay 
such bars in my way as shall make- things remediless, 
when the time shall come. 

" Now, as to the terms ye shall leave in with the 
queen, in case of the foresaid flat denial, let your be- 
haviour ever be with all honour, respect, and love to 
her person ; but, at your parting, ye shall plainly de- 
clare unto her, that she cannot use me so hardly as it 
shall be able to make me forget any part of that love 
that I owe to her as to my nearest kinswoman ; and 

* i. e., Regarding. f Secret agents. 

1601. JAMES vi. 335 

that the greatest revenge I shall ever take of her shall 
be to pray to God to open her eyes and to let her see 
how far she is wronged by such base instruments about 
her, as abuse her ears ; and that although I shall 
never give her occasion of grief in her time, yet the 
day may come when 1 shall crave an account at them 
of their presumption, when there will be no bar be- 
twixt me and them," * 

Nothing could be more manly and judicious than 
this advice to his ambassadors ; nothing was more 
fitted to raise his character in the eyes of the queen 
herself, than a line of conduct at once affectionate and 
firm. Nor were his sentiments and instructions less 
sound with regard to Secretary Cecil, and those other 
powerful nobles whom he, at this time, suspected of 
hostility to his claim, and from whom he had expected 
better things. 

" You shall plainly declare," said he, " to Mr Se- 
cretary and his followers, that since now, when they 
are in their kingdom, they will thus misknow me, 
when the chance shall turn I shall cast a deaf ear to 
their requests : and whereas now I would have been 
content to have given them, by your means, a pre-as- 
surance of my favour, if at this time they had pressed 
to deserve the same ; so now they, contemning it, 
may be assured never hereafter to be heard, but all 
the queen's hard usage of me to be hereafter craved 
at their hands."^ 

This last menace, however, was wholly unnecessary. 
Cecil, whose prudence had led him, for some years 
past, to keep aloof from the King of Scots, and to con- 
ciliate the favour of his royal mistress, by turning a 

* Hailes 1 Secret Correspondence of Sir R. Cecil, p. 9. 
f Ibid., pp. 8, 9, 10. 


deaf ear to all proposals from that suspected quarter, 
was too acute a courtier, and too keenly alive to his 
own interest, not to discern the exact moment when 
perseverance in this principle would have been visited 
with the total ruin of his power. That moment had 
now arrived. Elizabeth's health was completely shat- 
tered ; and however earnestly she struggled to conceal 
the truth from herself, or to assume her usual gaiety 
before her people, it was but too evident that after her 
long and proud walk of glory and strength, her feet 
were beginning to stumble upon the dark mountain; 
and that the time could not be very far distant when 
the silver cord must be loosed, and the golden bowl be 
broken. With this prospect before him, Cecil opened, 
with extraordinary caution, and the most solemn in- 
junctions and oaths of concealment,* a negotiation 
with Mar and Kinloss ; and James, who had hitherto 
suspected him, not only welcomed the advances, but 
soon gave him his full confidence, and intrusted every- 
thing to his management and address. How all this 
was effected, what were the steps which led from dis- 
trust to reconciliation, and from this to undoubting 
and almost exclusive confidence, cannot be ascertained ; 
but two facts are certain and full of meaning: the 
first, that Cecil, as appears by a paper preserved at 
Hatfield, advanced ten thousand pounds out of his 
own pocket to James, which was never repaid ; the 
second, that this able diplomatist, from being first 
minister to Elizabeth, upon the death of his mistress 
stepped at once, without question or opposition, into 
the same high office under James. 

Meanwhile the Scottish ambassadors profited by 

* Hailes' Secret Correspondence of Sir R. Cecil, pp. 190, 191 : also, 
pp. 202, 203. 

1601. JAMES vi. 337 

this secret influence; and acting under the instructions 
of one who had the deepest insight into the character 
of the queen and the state of the country, were able 
to follow out their instructions with infinitely greater 
success than on their first arrival. After a residence 
of three months in England,* they returned to James 
in the beginning of June ; and although all had not 
succeeded to the extent of his wishes, the assurances 
which they brought from Elizabeth were friendly and 
encouraging. She expressed her astonishment, indeed, 
that the king should have again pressed upon her the 
same disagreeable matter, on which she had hoped he 
was already satisfied. It was a bold thing, she said, 
for any subject of hers to communicate with the King 
of Scots on so great a cause, without her privity ; and 
he had done well to address her openly : for he might 
assure himself that she alone could do him good : all 
byways would turn to dust and smoke. As to his 
griefs, to which he alluded in his letter, her conscience 
acquitted her of every action which should give him 
the slightest annoyance ; yet she took it kindly that 
he had unbosomed them, and had sent her so " well- 
chosen a couple" as Mar and Kinloss. Her letter 
concluded with this warning, embodied in her usual 
style of mystery and inuendo : 

" Let not shades deceive you, which may take away 
best substance. * * * An upright demeanour 
bears ever more poise than all disguised shows of good 
can do. Remember, that a bird of the air, if no other 
instrument, to an honest king shall stand instead of 
many feigned practices to utter aught that may any 
wise touch him. And so leaving my scribbles, with 
my best wishes that you scan what works becometh 

* From about February 20th till June 2d, 1601. 

VOL. ix. y 


best a king, and what in end will best avail him, [I 
rest] your loving sister, that longs to see you deal as 
kindly as I mean. 1 '* 

Elizabeth's last parliament met (October twenty- 
seventh ;) and the queen, although utterly unable for 
the exertion, insisted on opening it in person, and 
with unusual pomp ; but she fainted under the weight 
of the royal robes, and would have fallen to the ground, 
if some gentlemen at hand had not caught her in their 
arms.-f- The Irish war, and the necessity of a large 
subsidy to support it, formed the great business for 
which parliament had assembled ; and the queen had 
determined to avail herself of James' recent offer, to 
send her a body of Highland auxiliaries from the Isles. 
Lord Mountjoy, the deputy, was still surrounded by 
difficulties. He had to hold out, not only against the 
native Irish, led by O'Neill, but against a force of four 
thousand Spaniards, who had effected a landing at 
Kinsale, under Don Juan D'Aguilar. To these dan- 
gers threatening England from without, was added the 
deep discontent of the people at home ; who were 
groaning under that monstrous and oppressive system 
of monopolies, which had raised the prices of all the 
necessaries of life to an exorbitant amount. By a 
monopoly we are to understand a royal patent, which 
conveyed to some individual the right of exclusively 
selling any particular commodity ; and the power of 
granting such, the queen claimed, and justly, as a part 
of her royal prerogative. Bat she had now carried 
the practice to a grinding and ruinous extent. The 

* MS. Letters, State-paper Office, Royal Letters, Scotland. Indorsed, 
Copy of Her Majesty's letter to the King of Scots, written with her own 
hand. See, also, her public letter under the Privy Seal, delivered to the 
ambassadors on their return, MS. British Museum, Titus, C. vii., fol. 124, 
dated llth May, 1601. 

t Hailes' Secret Correspondence of Sir R. Cecil, p. 26. 

1601. JAMES vi. 339 

patentee, if he did not exercise the privilege himself, 
disposed of it to another ; and, in either case, all infe- 
rior venders, whether in wholesale or retail, were com- 
pelled to pay him a high yearly premium, which, of 
course, fell eventually on the consumer. This abuse 
had gone on increasing since the seventeenth year of 
the queen's reign ; who had found it a convenient 
way of paying a debt, or satisfying an importunate 
courtier or creditor, without drawing upon her own 
privy purse, or risking her popularity by direct tax- 
ation.* It was to the deep and general discontent 
occasioned by this, that King James had alluded in 
his secret instructions to Mar and Kinloss, when he 
advised them to discover whether the impatience and 
disgust of the country had increased to such a height 
that they were unwilling to keep on terms any longer 
with prince or State. In which case, he observed, it 
would be a pity not to declare himself openly in their 
favour, or to suffer them to be overthrown for lack of 
good backing : { a sentence, by the way, which proves 
that Elizabeth had good ground for her jealousy of 
the intrigues of the Scottish king with her subjects. 
But on the arrival of Mar and Kinloss, they soon dis- 
covered that the execrations of the people were directed 
rather against the minister Cecil and the government, 
than against the queen herself ; and when parliament 
met, and the subject of the Irish war was brought be- 
fore the Commons, it was soon seen that they knew per- 
fectly how to make this distinction. The safety of the 
country and the honour of the queen demanded that 
they should make every sacrifice to bring the Irish 
war to a speedy and successful termination ; and for 

* Lingard's History of England, vol. viii. p. 380. 
J* Hailes' Secret Correspondence, pp. 2, 3. 


this purpose they agreed to one of the largest grants 
that had been given during this long reign ; voting at 
once four subsidies, and eight tenths and fifteenths, 
for the expense of the war : * but on the odious griev- 
ance of monopolies they were firm. Cecil's coach, in 
going to parliament, had been surrounded by an infu- 
riated mob, which assailed him with curses, and threat- 
ened to tear him to pieces. It was time, therefore, to 
take the alarm ; and the queen, who, however obsti- 
nate with her ministers, never struggled beyond the 
proper point with her people, sent for the speaker of 
the Commons, and declared her resolution to abolish 
the whole system. -J- This announcement was received 
with the utmost joy ; the queen regained her popu- 
larity ; and soon after this, the total defeat of Tyrone 
and his Spanish auxiliaries, the successful termination 
of the war in Ireland, and the destruction of the Span- 
ish galleys under Spinola, by a combined squadron of 
the English and Dutch, shed a farewell ray of glory 
over the last year of her reign. It was now no longer 
necessary for Elizabeth to court the assistance of 
James, or to keep in pay the hardy mercenaries of the 
Scottish isles : her kingdom was at peace ; and re- 
suming her progresses and her gaieties, she struggled 
to overcome or defy her increasing infirmities ; rode 
to the chase ; had country dances in the Privy Cham- 
ber ; selected a new favourite, in the young Earl of 
Clanricard ; and seemed wholly given up to disport, 
at a time when it was apparent to every one that her 
hours had been far better spent in retirement from the 
world, and preparation for that last scene, which the 

* Hailes' Secret Correspondence, p. 25. 
t Lingard, vol. viii. pp. 380, 381. 

1602. JAMES vi. 341 

greatest prince, as well as the meanest subject, must 
act alone.* 

There had been some expectation in Scotland that 
the question of the succession was to have been agi- 
tated in the late parliament ; and the arrival of James 1 
favourite, the Duke of Lennox, at the court of Eng- 
land, at the moment of its being assembled, seems to 
have excited the suspicions of the queen ;} but this 
nobleman, although certainly sent by the King of 
Scots, chiefly to watch over his interests and confirm 
those secret friendships with which he was strength- 
ening himself, acted with much prudence, paid his 
court effectually to the English queen, and lulled all 
resentment by his frank offer to lead the Scottish 
auxiliaries against the Spaniards and the Irish. New 
and alarming reports of the continued preparations of 
Philip the Third having recently reached the queen, 
she was particularly gratified by the secret informa- 
tion which James had transmitted her on the subject, 
and by the readiness with which he had permitted 
Lennox to volunteer his services. These, however, 
she declined ; declaring that she would never consent 
to hazard so valuable a life in so perilous an enterprise, 
and dismissing him with the most flattering marks of 

" O 

her approbation.^ 

During the duke's residence in England, his chief 
care seems to have been to conciliate that party in the 
State which was opposed to Cecil, and whom this crafty 
minister represented as inimical to James. It was led 
by the Earl of Northumberland, Sir Walter Raleigh, 

* Lord Henry Howard to the Earl of Mar, Sept. 1602, Hailes' Cecil 
Correspondence, pp. 231, 233. 

t Lord Henry Howard to the Earl of Mar, 22d Nov., 1601, Hailes' Cor- 
respondence of Sir R. Cecil, p. 16. 

J MS. State-paper Office, Copy of the time, Royal Letters, Scotland, 
Elizabeth to James, 2d December, 1601 


and Lord Cobham. Lord Henry Howard, the agent 
of Cecil, in his secret correspondence with the King 
of Scots, laboured to persuade that monarch that this 
faction were little to be trusted, without weight in the 
country, and altogether desperate, false, and reckless 
men. The great object of Cecil and Howard was to 
exalt their own power and services, and to depreciate 
every other instrument to whom James might deem 
himself indebted ; and never was there a more revolt- 
ing picture than that presented by the secret corre- 
spondence of these two politicians with their future 
sovereign. To the king himself, Lord Henry's flattery 
almost borders upon blasphemy.* On all others, ex- 
cept Cecil and his confidants, he pours out an unceas- 
ing flood of abuse, slander, bitterness, and contempt ; 
and to that great princess whom they had idolized in her 
palmy days, and whose sun was now sinking in sorrow, 
there is not given a single sigh of regret, not a solitary 
glance of sympathy. It has been attempted to defend 
Cecil from being participant in these intrigues, by as- 
serting that the correspondence is not his, and that 
he is not responsible for the letters of Lord Henry 
Howard ; but the argument will not bear examination. 
It is true, indeed, that he neither signed nor indited 
the letters ; but he dictated them : he read and ap- 
proved of them ; he despatched them ; he was present 
when the answers were received ; he opened the 'packet 
which contained them ; and King James, when he 
replies, either in his own person or through Mr Bruce 

* He is the apple of the Eternal eye ; the most "inestimable King James, 
whom neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, shall 
separate from the affection and vows they have, next to the sovereign pos- 
sessor, vowed to him ; the redoubted monarch, of whose matchless mind 
Lord Henry thinks, as God's lieutenant on earth, with the same reverence 
and awe which he owes to God himself when he is on his knees." Hailes' 
Secret Correspondence of Sir Robert Cecil, pp. 154, 168, 170, 194, 233. 

1602. JAMES vi. 343 

his late ambassador, addresses Howard as the mere 
organ of Cecil. To have written in his own person, 
or to have given Lord Henry Howard any unlimited 
commission which should have made Cecil responsible 
for every sentiment uttered by this prince of flatterers, 
would have been far too bungling and dangerous an 
expedient for so profound a politician, so accomplished 
a lover of mystery and intelligence as this statesman. 
But every letter in the correspondence shows that a 
finer system was adopted, which insured safety to the 
minister in the event of detection, and yet interfered 
with none of the advantages of success ; by which 
Howard, although fully instructed beforehand by 
Cecil, expressed himself as if he acted alone, and at 
his own risk. It has been said, also, that the real 
letters of Cecil to James are preserved at Hatfield, 
amongst the archives of his noble descendant, and 
contain nothing discreditable to the secretary. But 
these, probably, were letters of mere ceremony and 
general goodwill, which Cecil despatched by the com- 
mon opportunities, and cared not who should intercept 
or read : nay, it is quite possible that, in the intricate 
spirit of the diplomacy of these times, they were writ- 
ten to be intercepted, and for the purpose of lulling 
suspicion by the innocence of their contents. At all 
events, nothing could be more secretly or adroitly 
managed than the whole correspondence between 
Howard, Cecil, and the Scottish king. No one had 
the least suspicion of the secret understanding that 
existed between the trio. In England, the secretary 
appeared wholly engrossed with public affairs, and so 
exclusively devoted to his royal mistress, that many 
wondered at his indifference to James, whilst he was 
in truth his sole adviser. When the subject of the 


succession was openly canvassed ; when all were look- 
ing to Scotland, and Cecil seemed to stand aloof, and, 
if the subject were forced upon him, spoke of the King 
of Scots with a coldness and indifference which blinded 
the most acute : James, on the other hand, acted his 
part with admirable dexterity ; praised Cecil for his 
fidelity to his royal mistress ; and affected great doubt 
whether he would eventually turn out his friend or 
his opponent. 

On one point, however, Sir Robert and Lord Henry 
mistook the character of their royal correspondent. 
To enhance their own services and destroy their rivals, 
they insisted on the absolute necessity of the king fol- 
lowing out the precise plan which they had sketched 
out for him, and declining all offers of assistance but 
what came through themselves. Northumberland, 
Raleigh, Shrewsbury, Cobham, were, according to 
their representations, utterly unworthy of credit; and 
were secretly engaged in courses which proved them 
to be bitterly opposed to his claim. To write to them, 
or to encourage any persons whatever who were not 
pointed out by his worthy and faithful Cecil, would, 
according to Lord Henry's opinion, be the extremity 
of folly, and might in a moment overthrow all the fair 
fabric of their hopes. Nay, they had the boldness to 
proceed farther ; and not only attempted to work on 
the fears and suspicions of the Scottish king, by warn- 
ing him of his enemies in England, but threw out 
dark and mysterious hints of treasonable intrigues in 
his own court, and even presumed to tutor him as to 
his conduct to his queen. Anne of Denmark, they 
hinted, was a worthy princess, yet a woman, and easily 
deceived by flatterers, who, for their own ends, were 
doing all they could to thwart the only measures which 

1601-2. JAMES vi. 345 

could guide him, under the pilotage of his worthy 
Cecil, to the haven where he would be. James, how- 
ever, was not to be so cozened. He detected the self- 
ishness of such conduct ; called upon them, if they 
really knew of any plots against his life or his rights, 
to speak out with the manly openness of truth, and 
have done with dark inuendoes. Following his own 
judgment, he treated with contempt their prohibition 
as to "secret correspondents" ; wrote to Northumber- 
land, accepting with warmth and gratitude his offers of 
service ; welcomed with courtesy and goodwill all who 
made advances to him ; and took care that Lord Henry 
Howard should know that he considered the language 
used regarding his queen as a personal insult to himself. 
The two cunning statesmen, who had outwitted them- 
selves in their desire to monopolize power and destroy 
their competitors, were astounded ; and Lord Henry's 
apology to his inestimable King James, was as abject 
as his object had been mean and selfish. 

James' greatest difficulty was with the Catholics, 
a powerful party in England; yet regarded by the 
queen, and the Protestant body of her subjects, with 
so much suspicion, that it was almost equally danger- 
ous to his hopes to conciliate, or to practise severity. 
But, happily for this prince, they were at this moment 
weakened by divisions ; and the great question of the 
"succession," which had been keenly debated amongst 
the English Catholic exiles abroad, had eventually split 
them into two parties : the Spanish faction led by the 
celebrated Father Persons, the author of the famous 
Treatise on the Succession, published, under the ficti- 
tious name of Doleman ; and their opponent faction 
led by Paget. The first party had espoused the cause 
of the Infanta. It was to support her claim, as de- 


scended from John of Gaunt, son of Edward the Third, 
that the book on the succession had been written : and 
as long as this princess continued single, and there was 
a chance of her marrying the King of Scots, or some 
English nobleman, it was thought not impossible that 
the English people might be reconciled to her acces- 
sion. Her marriage, however, with the Archduke 
Albert, rendered the prospect desperate ; and Persons, 
her champion, who had now deserted the court of 
Spain, and removed to Rome, abandoned her cause, 
and confined his efforts, and those of his party, to the 
succession of a Catholic prince.* Who this should be, 
he declared, was a matter, to him, of indifference ; but 
many of his supporters in England looked to Arabella 
Stewart, the cousin-german of James ; and had formed 
a visionary project for her conversion to Rome, and 
her marriage with the Cardinal Farnese, also a de- 
scendant of John of Gaunt.-f* It was, perhaps, to this 
wild scheme that the Scottish king alluded, when he 
lamented that Arabella had been lately moved, by the 
persuasion of Jesuits, to change her religion:^ but 
there is no evidence that Persons, who had much in- 
fluence with his party in England, ever believed it 
practicable ; and the publication of James"* " Basilicon 
Doron," appears to have given a new turn to the ideas 
of this devoted Catholic, and to have persuaded him, 
that a prince who could express himself with so much 
catholicity on some points, would, in time, "suffer him- 
self to be guided to the truth on all." t There is a re- 
markable letter still preserved, in which Persons, 
writing from Rome, describes his having read some 

* Lingard's History of England, vol. viii., fourth edition, p. 388. Letter, 
of Father Persons to the Earl of Angus, 4th January, 16'00. 
t Id. ibid., p. 489. 
Hailes' Secret Correspondence of Sir Robert Cecil, p. 118. 

1601-2. JAMES VI. 347 

passages of the "Basilicon" to the pope, who, he says, 
could scarcely refrain from shedding tears of joy, in 
hearing them. " May Christ Jesus," exclaimed Per- 
sons, " make him a Catholic ! for he would be a mirror 
to all princes of Christendom." * 

All this rendered the Spanish faction far less bitter 
than before in their feelings towards the Scottish king ; 
whilst their opponents, the English Catholic exiles, 
who were led by Paget, having all along contended 
that Mary queen of Scots was the rightful heir of the 
English crown, considered, as a matter of course, that 
her title vested after her death, in her son. To 
him, therefore, they professed their readiness, on the 
death of Elizabeth, to transfer their allegiance : from 
him they looked, in return, for some alleviation of 
their sufferings, some toleration of their religion. And 
so keen were their feelings against the Spanish faction, 
that at the time Persons advocated the cause of the 
Infanta, he and his supporters met with no more de- 
termined enemies than the English Catholic exiles.-f 
So far did they carry this hostility, that they entered 
into a secret correspondence with their own govern- 
ment, and lowered themselves by becoming spies and 
informers against their brethren, f 

It was the anxious desire of the King of Scots 
in conciliate both these parties. One great argument 
in Persons' " Conference on the Succession," which 
contended that heresy must be considered an insur- 
mountable ground of exclusion, was evidently directed 
against him ; and had formerly given rise to a mission 
of Pourie Ogilvy, a Catholic baron, whom he sent, in 

* MS. British Museum, Julius, F. vi. f. 142. Persons to T. M. from 

f Lingard's History of England, vol. viii., fourth edition, pp. 390, 391. 
Id. ibid. 


1595, into Italy and Spain. At Venice, and at Rome, 
this envoy, acting, as he asserted, by the secret in- 
structions of the King of Scots, represented his royal 
master as ready to be instructed in the Catholic faith, 
and to give a favourable and candid hearing to its ex- 
pounders. -On proceeding into Spain, Ogilvy's flight 
was bolder, and the promises held out more tempting 
and decided. The King of Scots, he said, was deter- 
mined to revenge the injuries and insults offered him 
by the Queen of England, and eagerly desired the 
cooperation of Philip. Why then should their ma- 
jesties not enter into a treaty ? His master, for his 
part, would become Catholic, establish the true faith 
in his dominions, and send his son, as a hostage for 
his sincerity, to be educated at the court of Spain. In 
return, he required from Philip a renunciation of his 
claims upon the English crown, an advance of 500,000 
ducats, and an auxiliary force of 12,000 men. Philip, 
however, looked with suspicion on the ambassador, 
who had been observed to haunt with Paget and his 
friends in the Low Countries. His veracity, his cre- 
dentials, even his religion, were disputed; and although 
treated with outward courtesy by the Spanish mon- 
arch, he received little encouragement. 

But James, who had a strong predilection for these 
mysterious missions, was not cast down ; and returned 
to the attack. In September 1 596, a second envoy, 
named Drummond, who alleged that he was employed 
by James, repaired to the Papal court, and carried 
with him a letter from the king to Clement the Eighth, 
in which he suggested that the residence of a Scottish 
minister at the court of Rome would have the best 
effects ; and proposed that Drummond bishop of 
Vaison, a Scotsman by birth, should be selected for 

1602. JAMES vi. 349 

that purpose. The ambassador proposed also, in the 
king's name, that the young Prince Henry, his eldest 
son, should be brought up in the Catholic faith, and 
offered to place his castle of Edinburgh in the hands 
of the Catholics.* It is extremely difficult to discover 
how much, or how little truth there was in these al- 
leged intrigues of the Scottish king. Ogilvy, un- 
doubtedly, acted not only as an envoy of James, but 
a spy of Cecil ; and James, when challenged by Eliza- 
beth's ambassador, Sir Henry Drunker, as to his letter 
to Clement, declared in the most pointed and solemn 
manner, that he never wrote, or transmitted, such a 
document to Rome. The letter, however, was subse- 
quently produced, and published by Cardinal Bellar- 
mine. It undoubtedly bore the king's signature; and, 
after a rigid inquiry, Lord Balmerino, the Scottish 
Secretary of State, a Catholic, and near relative of the 
Bishop of Vaison, confessed that he had smuggled in 
the obnoxious epistle amongst a crowd of other papers ; 
and that the king, believing it to be a matter of form, 
like the rest, had signed it without glancing at its 
contents. This story, however, did not itself obtain 
belief. It was alleged that Balmerino had consented 
to become the scape-goat, that he might shelter his 
royal master; and the leniency of his punishment, 
for so daring an act, confirmed the suspicion. But, 
on whatever side the truth may be, this secret inter- 
course produced a favourable feeling in the great body 
of the Catholics towards the King of Scots. The im- 
pression in his favour was universal amongst all parties 
in England ; and Howard assured the Earl of Mar, 
in a letter written in the summer of 1602, that all 
men spoke as freely and certainly of the succession of 

* Hailes' Secret Correspondence of Sir R. Cecil, pp. 157, 158. 




the King of Scots, as if they were about to take the 
oath of allegiance to him in his own capital.* 

It remained only for James to take heed that no 
storms or commotions at home, should disturb this 
fair weather in England. And here, too, his happy 
star prevailed; and his efforts to extinguish those 
dreadful dissensions amongst his nobility, which, for 
many years, had exposed the country to all the horrors 
of private war, were at last successful. The Earls of 
Argyle and Huntley were reconciled, and their friend- 
ship cemented by the betrothment of Argyle's daughter 
to Huntley's son.-f- The Duke of Lennox, and the 
party of the Scottish queen, were induced to forget 
their deadly differences with the Earl of Mar ; and, 
last of all, that obstinate and far-ramifying blood-feud 
between the great houses of Moray and Huntley, 
which had now, for more than forty years, torn and 
depopulated some of the fairest portions of the country, 
was brought to an end by the firm and judicious arbi- 
tration of James. This success, and the extraordinary 
calm with which it was accompanied, occasioned the 
utmost joy throughout the country ; and Nicolson, 
the English resident, informed Cecil that nothing was 
now heard at court but the voice of festivity and 
gratulation ; the nobility feasting each other, consort- 
ing like brethren, and all united in one loving bond 
for the surety and service of the king.J 

Amid these happy reconcilements, the King of 
Spain intimated to James his desire to send him an 
ambassador; and Drummond bishop of Vaison soli- 
cited permission to visit his native country. The 

* Hailes' Secret Correspondence of Sir Robert Cecil, p. 127. 
"T MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Cecil, 1st February, 1602. 
J MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Nicolson to Sir Robert Cecil, 1st Feb- 
ruary, 1602. 

1602. JAMES VI. 351 

King of France, also, in great secrecy, proposed a 
new league with Scotland, with the object of strength- 
ening himself against Spain; but as Henry added 
nothing as to including England, the Scottish king 
seized the opportunity to convince Elizabeth of his 
fair dealing. He accordingly despatched Roger Ash- 
ton with a full account of all his foreign negotiations ; 
made her participant of his secret intelligence from 
Spain ; communicated the private offers of Henry the 
Fourth; and, expressing his deep gratitude for her 
steady friendship, requested her advice regarding the 
answers he should send to France and Spain.* The 
queen, in reply, cautioned him against putting im- 
plicit trust in the promises of the French king, whose 
sincerity she doubted. " Let others promise, 1 ' said 
she, " and I will do as much with truth as others with 
wiles." However, it would do little harm, she ob- 
served, to put Henry to the test ; and for her part 
she would make one of any league that was proposed. 
As to secrecy and taciturnity, he might thoroughly 
depend upon her ; her head might fail, but her tongue 
never, -f- It was on this proposal of Philip, which 
came somewhat suspiciously about the same time as 
the Bishop of Vaison's offered visit, that Elizabeth 
addressed, in the beginning of January 1602-3, her 
last confidential letter to James. It was written en- 
tirely with her own hand, now so tremulous from age 
as to make the characters almost illegible ; but there 
was nothing of weakness or irresolution in the senti- 
ments. It is here given entire : dated the fifth Jan- 
uary 1603, eleven weeks before her death; which 

* MS. Letter, State-paper Office, Royal Letters, Scotland, Elizabeth to 
James, 4th July, 1602. 

f Elizabeth to James, Royal Letters, State-paper Office, 4th July, 1602. 


makes it probable that it was amongst the last letters 
of importance she ever wrote : 

" My VERY GOOD BROTHER, It pleaseth me not a 
little that my true intents, without glosses or guiles, 
are by you so gratefully taken ; for I am nothing of 
the vile disposition of such as, while their neighbours' 
houses is, or likely to be a-fire, will not only not help, 
but not afford them water to quench the same. If 
any such you have heard of towards me, God grant 
he remember it not too well for them ! For the 
Archduke : alas, poor man, he mistaketh everybody 
like himself, (except his bonds;) which, without his 
brother's help, he will soon repent. 

"I suppose, considering whose apert* enemy the 
King of Spain is, you will not neglect your own hon- 
our so much to the world (though you had no parti- 
cular love to me) as to permit his ambassador in your 
land, that so causelessly prosecutes such a princess as 
never harmed him ; yea, such a one as (if his de- 
ceased father had been rightly informed) did better 
merit at his hands than any prince on earth ever did 
to other. For where hath there been an example that 
any one king hath ever denied so fair a present, as the 
whole seventeen provinces of the Low Countries ? yea, 
who not only would not have denied them, but sent 
a dozen gentlemen to warn him of their sliding from 
him, with offer of keeping them from the near neigh- 
bours 1 hands, and sent treasure to stay the shaking 
towns from lapse. Deserved I such a recompense as 
many a complot both for my life and kingdom ? 
Ought not I to defend and bereave him of such wea- 
pons as might invade myself? He will say, I help 
Holland and Zealand from his hands. No. If either 

* Apert; open. 

1603. JAMES vi. 353 

his father or himself would observe such oath, as the 
Emperor Charles obliged himself, and so in sequel his 
son, I would not [have] dealt with others 1 territories ; 
but they hold these by such covenants, as not observ- 
ing, by their own grants they are no longer bound 
unto them. But though all this were not unknown 


to me, yet I cast such right reasons over my shoulder, 
and regarded their good, and have never defended 
them in a wicked quarrel; and, had he not mixed 
that government, contrary to his own law, with the 
rule of Spaniards, all this had not needed. 

" Now for the warning the French gave you of 
Veson's embassage. To you, methinks, the king 
(your good brother) hath given you a caveat, that 
being a king he supposes by that measure you would 
deny such offers. And since you will have my coun- 
sel, I can hardly believe that (being warned) your own 
subject shall be suffered to come into your realm, from 
such a place to such intent. Such a prelate (if he 
came) should be taught a better lesson than play so 
presumptuous and bold a part, afore he know your 
good liking thereof, which I hope is far from your 
intent : so will his coming verify to much good Mr 
Sample's asseverations at Home, of which you have 
or [ere] now been warned enough. 

" Thus you see how to fulfill your trust reposed in 
me, which to infringe I never mind. I have sincerely 
made patent my sincerity ; and though not fraught 
with much wisdom, yet stuffed with great good will. 
I hope you will bear with my molesting you too long 
with my scrattinge hand, as proceeding from a heart 
that shall be ever filled with the sure affection of 
" Your loving and friendly sister."* 

* MS. Letters, State-paper Office, Royal Letters, Scotland. Indorsed, 
Sth January, copy of her Majesty's Letter to the King of Scots, written with 
her own hand. It is now printed for the first time. 



Nothing, certainly, could be more friendly than this 
advice; and James, who was convinced that every- 
thing was now prepared for his pacific succession, and 
that he had no longer anything to dread, either from 
aspirants abroad or intrigue and conspiracy at home, 
waited quietly for the event which should put him in 
possession of his hopes. Nor had he long to wait. 
Only ten days after her last letter, Elizabeth caught 
a severe cold at Whitehall ; and as she had been 
warned by Dr Dee, her astrologer, to beware of that 
palace, she exposed herself to a removal to Richmond 
in stormy weather, and after a slight amendment 
became worse. Up to this time she had struggled 
sternly and strongly against every symptom of in- 
creasing weakness. It had long been evident to all 
about her that, since the death of Essex, her mind 
and constitution had been perceptibly shattered. Her 
temper was entirely broken ; and, in spite of every 
effort to defy it, a deep melancholy, and weariness of 
life, had fixed upon her. But although this was ap- 
parent to near observers,* to the world she kept up 
appearances ; and continued her usual f^tes and diver- 
sions, interrupted by sudden fits of silence, abstraction, 
and tears. ~f* At last, the effort was too much ; the 
bow, bent to its utmost endurance, snapt asunder ; 
and her lion heart, and strong energetic frame, sunk 
at once into a state of the most pitiable and helpless 
weakness. Every effort to rouse her was ineffectual. 
She would take neither medicines nor nourishment ; 
her sleep entirely forsook her, and a low hectic fever 
seemed to be wasting her by inches ; whilst she com- 

* Letter of Sir John Harrington, quoted in Dr Lingard's History, vol. 
viiL p. 394. 

J* Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. p. 505. Harrington's Mugae Antiquse, pp. 
817, 318. 

1603. JAMES VI. 355 

plained of a heavy load upon the heart, which made 
her sigh almost incessantly, and seek, in vain, for 
relief in a restless change of position. These sad 
symptoms increased to such a degree in the beginning 
of March, that the physicians pronounced her case 
hopeless ; and it was deemed right to send for the 
council, who arrived at Richmond on the eighteenth 
of March ; and anticipating her speedy dissolution, 
took such measures as were thought necessary, in that 
event, to secure the public tranquillity. With this 
object, it was resolved, that the Lord High-admiral, 
Howard earl of Nottingham, the only member of the 
council whose presence seemed to give comfort to the 
dying queen ; Cecil, the Secretary of State ; and the 
Lord Keeper, should remain at Richmond ; whilst the 
rest of the council repaired to Whitehall. Orders, at 
the same time, were issued to set a guard upon the 
Exchequer ; to arrest and transport to Holland all 
suspicious characters found lurking in London and 
Westminster ; to furnish the court with means of 
defence ; and convey to the Tower some gentlemen 
who were believed to be desperate from discontent, and 
anxious for innovation. Most of these whose hands 
it was thus thought wise to manacle, before they could 
use them in any sudden mischief, were partisans of 
Essex ; and it is remarkable, that in this number we 
find Baynham, Catesby, and Tresham, afterwards in- 
volved in the Gunpowder Treason. 

Whilst these precautions were being taken, the 
melancholy object of them, the queen, seemed retired 
and sunk within herself; took no interest in anything 
that was going on ; and if roused for a moment, de- 
clared that she felt no pain, required no remedies, and 
was anxious for death. She expressed, however, a 


strong desire to hear prayers in her private chapel, 
and all was made ready ; but she found the effort too 
much for her, and had cushions spread at the door of 
the privy chamber, where she lay and heard service. 
Want of food and sleep appear, not long after, to have 
brought on a partial delirium : for she now obstinately 
insisted on sitting up, dressed, day and night, upon her 
cushions ; and when entreated by the Lord Admiral 
to go to bed, assured him, with a shudder of terror, 
that if he had seen what she saw there, he would 
choose any place but that. She then motioned him 
to approach her ; and ordering the rest to leave the 
room, drew him with a piteous gesture down to her 
low seat, and exclaimed, " My Lord, they have bound 
me : I am tied with an iron collar about my neck." * 
It was in vain he attempted either argument or con- 
solation : no power would make her undress or go to 
bed ; and in this miserable state she sat for two days 
and three nights, her finger pressed upon her lips, as 
if afraid of betraying some secret ; her eyes open and 
fixed on the ground, and generally silent and immove- 
able.-f- Yet, when Cecil her secretary remonstrated 
against this, and asked if she had seen spirits, she 
smiled contemptuously, and said the question was not 
worthy an answer ; but when he told her she must go 
to bed, if it were but to satisfy her people, she showed 
a flash of her former spirit. " Must !" said ehe; "is 
must a word to be addressed to Princes ? Ah, little 
man, little man ! thy father, had he been alive, durst 
not have used that word ; but thou art presumptuous, 
because thou knowest I shall die." To the same min- 

* Lingard, vol. viii. p. 397- Camden's Elizabeth, in Kennet, vol. ii. p. 
653. Carey's Memoirs, p. 117. 

t Turner's History of Elizabeth, pp. 700, 701. Birch's Memoirs, vol. ii. 
p. 507. 

1603. JAMES vi. 357 

ister she repeatedly declared that she was not mad, 
and that he must not think to make Queen Joan of 
her : alluding, perhaps, to Joanna the deranged queen 
of Naples.* 

It was now thought right to summon the ministers 
of religion; upon which the aged Whitgift archbishop 
of Canterbury, and the Bishop of London her almoner, 
immediately repaired to Richmond; and being ad- 
mitted to her sick chamber, appeared to give her comfort 
by their ministrations and prayers. They attempted 
to induce her to take some nourishment, and to follow 
the prescriptions of her physicians ; but this she 
steadily refused, declaring that she had no wish to live. 
They then exhorted her to provide for her spiritual 
safety : to which she mildly answered, " That I have 
done long ago."-f- When the archbishop, who was 
affected by the deep despondency and melancholy into 
which she had sunk, attempted to rouse and comfort 
her by alluding to the services she had conferred on 
Europe, and by her glorious defence of the Protestant 
faith, she checked him severely, declaring that she had 
too long listened to the voice of flattery, and that it 
should at least be silent on her death-bed ; but she 
held him by the hand, and compelled him to continue 
his prayers, till the aged primate's knees were wearied, 
and he had almost sunk down at her bed-side. At last 
she permitted him to depart, after receiving his bless- 
ing. In these devotions she did not join audibly, for 
her speech had almost entirely left her for two days 
before her death ; but it was apparent to those around 
her that she was perfectly sensible ; and they had the 
comfort of seeing her lift her eyes to heaven and join 

* MS. of Lady Southwell, quoted by Dr Lingard, vol. viii. p. 397. 
t Sloan MSS., printed by Ellis, Second Series, vol. iii. p. 194. 


her trembling, emaciated hands in the attitude of 

To the latest moment of her life she seemed willing 
to keep up the mystery as to her successor, and either 
evaded the question, or replied so obscurely, that it 
was difficult to divine her wishes. On the night, how- 
ever, on which she died, Cecil made a last effort for 
the King of Scots ; and accompanied by the Lord 
Admiral Howard, and the Lord Keeper, earnestly 
requested her to name a successor. Her answer was 
proud and brief : " My seat has been the seat of kings, 
and none but a king must succeed me." They urged 
her to be more explicit, and mentioned the King of 
France ; but she was silent. They then ventured on 
the King of Scots ; but she vouchsafed no sign. The 
Lord Beauchamp, the heir of the house of Suffolk by 
his mother Lady Catherine Grey, was then spoken of; 
upon which she roused herself and said, with a look 
and flash of her former lion spirit, " I will have no 
rascal's son in my seat. 1 '^ Here, according to the 
account of Lady Southwell, one of her maids of hon- 
our, who stood at the moment beside the bed, the im- 
portant interview ended ; and the queen never again 
spoke. But, on the other hand, it was positively 
affirmed by Cecil, and the two lords his companions, 
that at a later hour of the same night she clearly 
declared by signs that the King of Scots alone ought 
to succeed her. When his name was mentioned, it is 
said she suddenly started, heaved herself up in the bed, 
and held her hands jointly her over head in manner of 
a crown. It is probable that this sign given by the 

* Carey's Memoirs, pp. 120, 122. It is remarkable that no proposal to 
receive the blessed communion was made by the dying queen or the bishops, 
f MS. by Lady Southwell, Lingard, vol. viii. p. 397. 

1603. JAMES VI. 359 

dying princess was one of assent ; yet, it is possible, 
also, that they who had seized the awful moment when 
her soul was hovering hetween the two worlds to tor- 
ture her with questions, may have mistaken a move- 
ment of agony for one of approbation.* 

Soon after this she sunk into a state of insensibility, 
and about midnight fell into a placid sleep, from which 
she woke to expire gently and without a struggle. 
Cecil and the lords at Richmond, instantly posted to 
London ; at six in the morning the council assembled ; 
and on that same morning, before ten o'clock, King 
James the Sixth was proclaimed heir and successor to 
Elizabeth, both by proximity of blood, and, as it was 
now positively added, by her own appointment upon 
her death-bed. Sir Robert Carey, Lord Hunsdon's 
youngest son, a near relative and favourite of the 
queen, was at Richmond during her few last miserable 
days of suffering ; and Lady Scrope, his sister, one of 
her ladies, watched her royal mistress at the moment 
of her death. Both were friends and correspondents 
of the King of Scots, and it had been concerted 
between the brother and sister that the distinction of 
being the first to announce the happy news to that 
monarch should be theirs. It was difficult, however, 
to cheat the vigilancy of Cecil and the council, who 
had ordered all the gates of the palace to be closed ; 
but Carey was on the alert, ready booted and spurred; 
his sister stood beside the bed, watching for her mis- 
tress" 1 last sigh ; and the moment it was breathed, she 
snatched a ring from her finger, (it had been a gift 
from the King of Scots,) glided out of the chamber, 
and cast it over the palace window to her brother, who 
threw himself on horseback, and rode post into Scot- 

* Sloan MSS., printed by Ellis, Second Series, vol. iii. p. 194. 


land. The queen had died at three o'clock on Thurs- 
day morning, and Carey reached the palace of Holy- 
rood on Saturday night, after the royal expectant had 
retired to bed. He was immediately admitted ; and 
throwing himself on his knees, saluted James as 
monarch of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland. 
The king asked for the token ; and Carey, drawing 
the ring from his bosom, presented it in his sister's 
name. James then gave him his hand to kiss ; and 
without evincing any unseemly exultation, bade the 
messenger good night, and composed himself to rest. 
Next morning, and for the two succeeding days, the 
news was not made public, as Carey's message was not 
official ; but on the third day, Sir Charles Percy, 
brother to the Earl of Northumberland, and Thomas 
Somerset, son of Lord Worcester, arrived with a 
letter from the privy-council of England, announcing 
the death of the queen ; the proclamation of James' 
accession to the throne ; and the universal joy and 
impatience with which the people of England expected 
their new monarch. It assured him that their sorrow 
for their recent loss was extinguished by looking for- 
ward to the heroical virtues which resided in his per- 
son ; laid at his feet the humble offering of their faith 
and obedience; and besought him, in his excellent 
wisdom, to visit them with all speed, that he might 
take possession of his inheritance, and inspire new 
life into its languishing body.* 

This great event was now communicated to the 
people, who received it at first with universal demon- 
strations of exultation and delight ; and the king de- 
clared his determination to set out speedily for his 
new kingdom, leaving the queen and his children to 

* Spottiswood, pp. 473, 474. 

1603. JAMES vi. 361 

follow at a slower pace. He committed the govern- 
ment of Scotland to the privy-council ; intrusted his 
eldest son, Henry, now Prince of Wales, to the Earl 
of Mar; Prince Charles to Sir Alexander Seton 
president of the Session ; and the Princess Elizabeth 
to the Earl of Linlithgow. On the succeeding Sun- 
day, James attended service in the High Church of 
St Giles, where a sermon was preached, in which 
the minister enumerated the many mercies poured 
out upon their prince; and described, as none of 
the least, his peaceable accession to that mighty 
kingdom which now awaited him. The monarch 
himself then rose and delivered a valedictory address 
to the congregation, which, we are told, was often 
interrupted by the tears of the people. James, who 
was himself moved by these expressions of regret and 
affection, entreated his subjects not to be too deeply 
troubled at his departure ; assured them that they 
should find the fruits of his government as well afar 
off as when he had resided amongst them ; pleaded 
that his increase in greatness did in nowise diminish 
his love ; and promised them a personal visit once 
every three years ; when the meanest as well as the 
greatest, should have access to his person and permis- 
sion to pour their complaints into his bosom.* 

This farewell oration was delivered on the third of 
April, 1603. On the fifth of the same month the 
king, surrounded by a large and brilliant cavalcade, 
composed not only of Scottish but of English noble- 
men and gentlemen, who had hurried to his court 
with the proffers of their homage, took his departure 
from Edinburgh amid the lamentations of the citizens. 
His progress through England, which occupied a 

* Calderwood, p. 472. Spottiswood, p. 476. 


month, was one long and brilliant pageant. Triumphs, 
speeches, masques, huntings, revels, gifts, all that 
wealth could command, and flattery and fancy devise, 
awaited him at the different cities and castles which 
he visited ; and on the sixth of May, 1603, he entered 
London, accompanied by a numerous concourse of his 
nobility and councillors, guarded and ushered by the 
Lord Mayor and five hundred citizens on horseback, 
and welcomed by the deafening shouts of an immense 
multitude of his new subjects. It seemed as if the 
English people had in this brief period utterly forgot- 
ten the mighty princess, whose reign had been so glo- 
rious, and over whose bier they had so lately sorrowed. 
Not a murmur was heard, not one dissenting voice 
was raised to break the unanimity of his welcome ; 
and thus, after so many centuries of war and disaster, 
the proud sceptre of the Tudors was transferred to 
the house of Stewart, with a tranquillity and universal 
contentment which, even considering the justice of 
the title, was remarkable and unexpected. 

In this memorable consummation, it was perhaps 
not unallowable, certainly it was not unnatural, that 
the lesser kingdom, which now gave a monarch to the 
greater, should feel some emotions of national pride : 
for Scotland had defended her liberty against innumer- 
able assaults ; had been reduced, in the long struggle, 
to the very verge of despair ; had been betrayed by 
more than one of her kings, and by multitudes of her 
nobles ; had been weakened by internal faction, dis- 
tracted by fanatic rage ; but had never been overcome, 
because never deserted by a brave, though rude and 
simple people. Looking back to her still remoter 
annals, it could be said, with perfect historical truth, 
that this small kingdom had successfully resisted the 

1603. JAMES vr. 363 

Roman arms, and the terrible invasions of the Danish 
sea kings ; had maintained her freedom, within her 
mountains, during the ages of the Saxon Heptarchy, 
and stemmed the tide of Norman conquest; had 
shaken off the chains attempted to be fixed upon her 
by the two great Plantagenets, the First and Third 
Edwards, and, at a later period, by the tyranny of the 
Tudors ; and if now destined, in the legitimate course 
of royal succession, to lose her station as a separate and 
independent kingdom, she yielded neither to hostile 
force nor to fraud, but willingly consented to link her 
future destinies with those of her mighty neighbour : 
like a bride, who, in the dawning prospect of a happy 
union, is contented to resign, but not to forget, the 
house and name of her fathers. Yet, however pleased 
at this pacific termination of their long struggles, the 
feelings with which his ancient people beheld the depar- 
ture of their prince, were of a melancholy nature ; and 
an event occurred on the same day on which he set out, 
that made a deep impression upon a nation naturally 
thoughtful and superstitious. 

As the monarch passed the house of Seton, near 
Musselburgh, he was met by the funeral of Lord Seton, 
a nobleman of high rank ; which, with its solemn move- 
ment and sable trappings, occupied the road, and 
contrasted strangely and gloomily with the brilliant 
pageantry of the royal cavalcade. The Setons were 
one of the oldest and proudest families of Scotland ; 
and that lord, whose mortal remains now passed by, 
had been a faithful adherent of the king's mother: 
whose banner he had never deserted, and in whose cause 
he had suffered exile and proscription. The meeting 
was thought ominous by the people. It appeared, to 
their excited imaginations, as if the moment had arrived 


when the aristocracy of Scotland was about to merge 
in that of Great Britain ; as if the Scottish nobles had 
finished their career of national glory, and this last 
representative of their race had been arrested on his 
road to the grave, to bid farewell to the last of Scot- 
land's kings. As the mourners moved slowly onward, 
the monarch himself, participating in these melancholy 
feelings, sat down by the way-side, on a stone still 
pointed out to the historical pilgrim ; nor did he 
resume his progress till the gloomy procession had 
completely disappeared.* 

It is with feelings of gratitude, mingled with regret, 
that the Author now closes this work the history of 
his country the labour of little less than eighteen 
years: gratitude to the Giver of all Good, that life 
and health have been spared to complete, however 
imperfectly, an arduous undertaking ; regret that the 
tranquil pleasures of historical investigation, the happy 
hours devoted to the pursuit of truth, are at an end, 
and that he must at last bid farewell to an old and 
dear companion. 

LONDON, ISih October, 1843. 

* History of the House of Seyton, Banmityne Club edition, p. 60. History 
of Scotland, by Sir Walter Scott, vol. ii. p. 426. 









No. I. 

Huntley's Rebellion, with Err ol, Angus, and Bothwell, p. 25. 

ON the sixteenth March, 1588-9, Elizabeth sent the following private 
letter to James, remonstrating with him against his misplaced lenity 
to Huntley and the Catholic faction. It was delivered to the King 
by the English resident Ashby, on the twenty-first March, as we learn 
by the following passage from that gentleman's letter to Lord Burgh- 
ley. (State-paper Office.) 

" The 21, early in the morning, I received a letter from your Honour, 
with the inclosed of her majesty's ; which I presented to him that 
day." * * Ashby afterwards tells us the king liked the queen's 
letter, and meant to prosecute the matter against the Catholic lords 
with severity. As to the Spaniards, against whose stay in Scotland 
Elizabeth so proudly remonstrated, calling them " the spoils of her 
wreck," the same gentleman writes Burghley, " that it is thought as 
many as a thousand are dispersed over Scotland ; and how they are 
to be transported, unless her majesty go to charges, he cannot tell." 
This fact is new. 


'* MY DEAR BROTHER, I am driven, through the greatness of my 
care for your safe estate, to complain to yourself of yourself ; wonder- 

* Warrender MSS., vol. A., p. 196 


ing not a little what injurious planet against my nearest neighbours 
reigneth with such blindness, and suffereth them not to see their 
changing peril and most imminent danger. Shall I excuse them they 
know it not ? I am too true a witness that ignorance cannot excuse, 
as having been a most near spy to find out those treacheries. Must 
I say they dare not ? Far be it from kingly magnanimity to harbour 
within their breast so unseemly a guest. Have I no excuse to serve 
them for payment 1 Well, then must I wail that I cannot mend ; and 
if there befall them mishap, I am not guilty of such disaster. Yet 
can I not desist, though I might be discouraged, to beseech you in 
God's name, not to overstep such happy occasions as it hath pleased 
God to reveal unto you : for if, when they be at your side, you will 
not make yourself a profit of their wreck, how will you catch them 
when they are aloof from you ? 

" Let too late examples show you for pattern, how dishonourable 
it is to prolong to do by right, that [which] after they are driven to 
do by extremity ; yea, and perchance as being taught to take heed, 
they will shun the place of danger ; and so your danger worse than 
the others. 

" It had been for honour and surety never to have touched, than 
so slightly to keep them in a scorn in durance, to be honoured with 
your presence with all kindness, and soon after to be extolled to your 
dearest chamber. Good Lord ! what uncouth and never-heard-of 
trade is that ? You must pardon my plain dealing : for if my love 
were not greater than my cause, as you treat it, I should content 
myself to see them wrecked with dishonour that contemn all loving 
warning and sister-like counsel. I pray God there be left you time 
(you have dealt so untimely) to be able to apprehend and touch, such 
as dares boldly, through your sufferance, attempt anything they list, 
to bring you and your land to the slavery of such as never yet spared 
their own. I know not how gracious they will be to you and your 
realm. When they get footing, they will suffer few feet but their 
own. Awake, therefore, dear Brother, out of your long slumber ! 
and deal like a king who will ever reign alone in his own. If they 
found you stout, you should not lack that would follow you, and leave 
rotten posts. 

" I marvel at the store you make of the Spaniards being the spoils 
of my wreck. You wrote me word not one should bide with you ; 
and now they must attend for more company. I am sorry to see 
how small regard you have of so great a cause. I may claim by 
treaty that such should not be ; but I hope, without such claim, 
(seeing your home practices,) you will quickly rid your realm of 
them, with speed j which I do expect for your own sake, and not the 


least for mine ; of whom you may make sure reckoning (if you 
abandon not yourself) to be protected by for ever. 

" And thus I end with axing a right interpretation of my plain and 
sincere meaning ; and wish ever to you as to myself ; as knoweth the 
Lord, whom ever I beseech to preserve you with long and happy 
days. xvi. Martii, 1588. 

Indorsed, Copie of a letter from the Queen, 1588. 

No. II. 
Pp. 43, 44. 

It appears by a letter of Mr R. Bowes, the English ambassador 
at the Scottish court, to Lord Burghley, dated at Edinburgh, fourth 
June, 1590, that on the third June he received the following letter of 
Elizabeth to James, and presented it next day (the fourth) to the King 
of Scots. " He received," says Bowes, " her majesty's letter very 
friendly ; showing himself much pleased and conforted therewith." 
The person against whom Elizabeth had remonstrated, deprecating 
his being sent on so weighty and confidential a business, was Colonel 
Stewart, whom she suspected, on account of his former desertion of 
the Protestant party. 

QUEEN ELIZABETH TO KING JAMES. MS. State-paper Office, Royal 
Letters, 29th May, 1590. 

"My conceit, I perceive, my dear Brother, hath no whit swerved 
from your good intent : for now I well see Colonel Steward's nego- 
tiation was not framed of his own brain, but proceeded from your 
earnest affection to so laudable a cause ; and by your last letters, I 
find your earnest motion made to the two dukes, together with 
their good and loving consent. 

" All this moveth me to find you a redevable* prince to a careful 
friend ; and [I] do praise my judgment to have chosen so grateful a 
king, on whom to spend so many careful thoughts, as since your 
peregrination I have felt for your surety and your land's wealth : 
and as my thanks are manifold, so shall the memorial bide perpetual. 

" And for the Action, at the arrival of such a one as you are send- 
ing me, I will at large impart plainly my resolution therein, and 
considering it not your least regard of me, that you be heedful to 

* "Redevable," Fr., beholden to ; grateful. 
VOL. IX. 2 A 


deal no other ways tliaii as may best content me. And [I] do assure 
you, that as I will never myself enter into it the first, yet I will ask 
nothing that shall not fit a king to demand, nor plead more inno- 
cency in all the cause, than my guiltless conscience, well showed by 
my actions, shall ever testify. And so you may be assured to get most 
honour, and never blot your fame with dealing in an action, when so 
great injury shall appear, and no just cause to enforce it. 

" That I perceive the governors of Denmark like well that other 
princes of Germany should send their good consent, with joining 
their message, I must needs say, " the more the better " that desire 
such thing as is best for all Christendom ; although I had thought 
that you, with the King of Denmark, would have sufficed. Yet if 
the rest do make the knot the greater, I must think my bond to them 
the more, and trust the pact will be the surer. 

" In the choice of such as you mind to send, this I hope you will 
chiefly regard : that he be none such as whose own cause or affection 
to the adverse part may breed a doubt of performance of the sender's 
will ; but be chosen even such a one, as whose honest and wise endeav- 
our may much advance the end of so good a beginning. 

" My good brother, I write this the plainer that you might clearly 
see what one I wish, and that may suffice for all. And for that the 
time requireth speed, I doubt not but you will use it. 

" And so I leave scribbling, but never end to love you, and assist 
you with my friendship, care, and prayer to the living God to send 
you all prosperous success, and his Holy Spirit for guide. 

" Your most assured faithful Sister and Cousin." 

Indorsed, 29th May, 1590. Copy of her Majesty's letter, written 
with her own hand to the King of Scots, sent to Mr Bowes. 

No. III. 

The following letter, written by Elizabeth to Henry the Fourth, at 
the time that she sent her favourite Essex with four thousand men to 
his assistance, is highly characteristic. It is taken from a contem- 
porary copy preserved in the Collection of Royal Letters in the State- 
paper Office. See Camden's Elizabeth, in Kennet, vol. ii. pp. 562, 

ELIZABETH TO HENRY IV., 27th July, 1591. 

"Selon la promesse que toujours je garderay endroit, tres cher frere, 
je vous mande 1'aide de 4000 homines, avec un Lieutenant qui comme 


il m'appertient de bien pres, aussy est-il de telle quality et tient tel 
lieu chez moy, que de coustume ne se souloit esloigner q'avec nous. 
Mais toutes ces raisons j'ay oubli, les proposant toutes a votre occa- 
sion, preferant vostre necessity et dsir, a mes particulieres consider- 
ations. A laquelle cause je ne doute nullement que vous y respondiez, 
avec un honorable et soigneux respect de vostre grandeur, a luy faire 
1'accueil et regard que tant d'amitie' merite : TOUS pouvant assurer, 
que si (que plus je craigne) la temerite' que sa jeunesse luy donne, ne 
se fait trop se precipiter, vous n'aurez jamais cause de doubter de la 
hardiesse de son service, car il n'a fait que trop souvent preuve qu'il 
ne craint hazard quelque qui soit. Et vous suppliant d'en avoir plus- 
tost de respect, qu'il est trop effrone' q'on luy donne la bride. 

" Mais, mon Dieu, comment reve-je, pour vous faire si deraisonnable 
requeste, que vous voyant tant tarder a vous conserver la vie, je fus 
si mal appris de respecter une plus simple creature. Seulement je 
vous prononce qu'il aura plus besoin de bride que d'esperon. Et non 
obstant j'espere que vous le trouverez assez habile pour conduire ses 
troupes a vous faire service tres agreable. Et j'ose promettre, que 
nos sujects y sont de s'y bonne dispositions et ont les coeurs si vail- 
lants qu'ils vous feront services qui vous ruineront beaucoup le'ennemy 
si leur bonne fortune respondra a leurs desirs. Et pour salaire de 
toutes ces Compagnies je vous demande ces deux requestes : la pre- 
miere, que leur vie et sang vous soyent si a coeur que rien soit omis 
pour leur regard ainsi qu'ils soyent cheris comme qui servent, non 
comme mercenaires, mais franchement, de bonne affection. Aussi 
qu'ils ne portent le faits de trop violents hazards n'y de nre [n'etre] 
bien au double accompagnes et secondes. Vous etes si sage Prince, 
que m'assure que n'oubliez que nos deux nations n'ont trop souvent 
si bien accorded, qu'ils ne se souviennent de vielles descordances, ne 
se pensent de meme terre, mais separds d'une profonde fosse'e. Et 
pourtant y tiendrez sy bien la main, que nul inconvenient leur arrive. 
Ayant de ma part bien instruits nos gens d'assez bonnes Ie9ons, les- 
quelles je m'assure qu'ils observeront. Et pour ne vous fatiguer de 
longue lettre, je finiray cet adresse, le seul memorial qu'en vous ap- 
prochant pres de nos quartiers, vous n'oublier de boucher chemin a 
Parma, de toutes parts au il doit entrer. Car je m'assuere, qu'il a 
receu commandement d'omettre plustot les pays-bas que la France. 
" Vostre tres asseurde bonne soeur et cousine, 

E. R." 

No. IV. 

The following striking and characteristic letter of Elizabeth to the 
Scottish king, written with her own hand, was received by Bowes, 


accompanied by two letters of the fourteenth and seventeenth of the 
same month, from Lord Burghley. James was then at Dumbarton, in 
progress, whither the English ambassador proceeded ; and (as he in- 
forms the Lord Treasurer in his letter from Edinburgh, dated twenty- 
seventh August,) " delivered her majesty's letter, accompanying the 
delivery thereof with report of your lordship's opinion in the weighty 
contents flowing suddenly from her majesty's pen in your lordship's 
sight." " The king," continues Bowes, " oftentimes perused and 
gravely noted the frame and substance of this letter ; and with plea- 
sant countenance and signs, well declaring his good acceptance, he 
entered into right high commendation of the excellent order, singular 
wisdom, and rare friendship that he found therein." 


" Many make the argument of their letters of divers subjects. 
Some with salutations ; some with admonitions ; others with thanks : 
but, my dear brother, few, I suppose, with confession : and that at 
this time shall serve the meetest for my part. 

" I doubt not but you wonder why it is, that in time so perilous to 
your person, so dangerous for your State, so hateful to the hearers, 
so strange for the treasons, you find me, that from your birth held 
most in regard your surety, should now neglect all, when it most 
behoveth to have watchful eyes on a most needy prince. Now hear 
thereof my shrift: It is true that my many counsels I have known 
oft thanked, but seldom followed. When I wished you reign, you 
suffered other rule : if I desired awe, you gave them liberty. My 
timely warnings became too late performance. When it required 
action, it was all to begin ; which when I gathered, as in a handful 
of my memory, I will now try, quoth I, what, at a pinch, he will do 
for himself: for nearer than with life may no man be assailed. And 
hearing how audacity prevailed in so large measure, as it was made 
a question whether a witch for a king's life might serve for a sufficient 
proof, and that the price of a king's blood was set at so low a rate, 
with many wondering blessings I, in attentive sort, attended the issue 
of such an error ; and not seeing any great offence laid to so slight a 
case, I fearfully doubted the consequence of such an act ; yea, when 
I heard that, qnakingly, men hasted to trial of such guilt, I supposed 
the more loved where least it became, and the most neglected to whom 
they owed most bond. 

" Well [I] was assured, that more addition could never my warn- 
ing make ; and to renew what so oft was told, should be but petitio 


principll. With safe conscience having discharged my office, I be- 
took you to your best actions, and thought for me there was no more 
remaining. And now I trust that this may merit an absolution, I 
will make you partaker of my joy, that I hear you now begin (which 
would to God had sooner been !) to regard your surety, and make 
men fear you, and leave adoring false saints. God strengthen your 
kingly heart, and make you never fail yourself ; for then who will 
stick to you ? You know me so well as no bloody mind ever lodged 
in my breast : and hate bear I none to any of yours, God is witness. 
But ere your days be shortened, let all yours be. This my charity." 

Royal Letters, State-paper Office, 12th August, 1591. Indorsed, 
Copy of her Majesty's letter to the K. of Scots. Written 
with her H. hand. 

No. V. 

This indignant and characteristic letter of Elizabeth was written 
to express her deep resentment of the manner in which Henry had 
treated her auxiliary force sent under the command of Essex. Cam- 
den, p. 563. 

ELIZABETH TO HENRY IV., 9th November, 1591. 

" Ma plume, ne toucha jamais papior, qui se fits sujet a argument 
si Estrange, pour monstrer ung nouvel accident d'une mal injurie'e 
amitie, par tel a qui le seul appuy, a estre ministre" par la partie la 
plus offense'e. De nos ennemis, nous n'attendions que tout malen- 
contre : Et si aultant nous prestent les amis, qu'ell difference en 
trouvons nous 1 Je m'estonne, qu'il est possible que celuy qui tient 
tant de besoing d'aide, paye en si mauvaise monnoye ses plus as- 
seure's. Pouvez vous imaginer, que mon sexe m'aridit le courage 
pour ne me ressentir d'ung public affront. Le sang royal, si j'en ay, 
ne 1'endureroit du plus puissant Prince en la Chretiennete', tel traiste- 
ment, qu'en ces trois mois vous m'avez preste. Ne vous desplaisse 
que je vous dise rondement, que si ainsi vous traister vos amis, qui 
librement de bonne effects vous servent en temps le plus important, 
vous en faillerez doresnavant, en vos plus grands besoings. Et j'eusse 
presentement revoque" mes troupes n'eust e"te" que votre ruine me 
semble se presenter, si par mon exemple les aultres, doubtants de 
semblable traitement, vous delaissent. Ce qui me pour quelque peu 
de terns [fait] prolonger leur demeure, me rougissant que je suis 


faicts spectacle du monde de Princesse meprise'e, Priant le Createur 
vous iuspirer meilleur mode de conserver vos amis. 

" Vtre soeur qui plus merite qu'elle n'a, 

E. R." 

No. VI. 
ELIZABETH TO JAMES, 25th November, 1591. 

w As my care for your weal, my dear brother, hath been full long 
the desire of my endeavours, so though my many letters do not oft 
camber your eyes with the reading them, yet my ever-living watch- 
full head hath never been neglected ; as by proof, even now, the 
errand that this bearer brings you, may make you know ; which 
being even that nearly doth touch your surety and state, I conjure 
you, even for the worth that you prize yourself at, that you forslowe * 
not (after your usual manner) this matter, as you too much, ere now, 
have done such like : and ever remember, that the next step to over- 
turn a Royal seat, is to make the subject know, that whatever he 
doth may be either coloured or neglected ; of which either breeds bold- 
ness to shun the pain, whatsoever the offence deserves. Far better 
it were, that all pretence of cause be debarred, than threaten, ere 
one strike, and so the prey escape. Shun in the handling of my 
overture [speaking] of what is meant ; but after wise resolution of 
what behoves, let few or, if possible, none know, afore that be ended 
which is thought to be done. This is, in short, my advice ; as she 
that too plainly sees, that if you defer, you may fortune repent. Yea, 
and you trust too much some, that can have many cords to their 
bow ; these may, perhaps, overthrow the mark, or you hit the blank. 
Excuse my plainness, and let good will plead my pardon. God bless 

" Yo r most assured Sister, 


Royal Letters, State-paper Office. Indorsed, 25th November, 
1591. Copie of her Ma tiea Lre to the K. of Scotts, by Mr 

No. VII. 

A short sentence of the following letter from Elizabeth to James 
has been already given in the text, (p. 71 ;) but the whole epistle, 
* To forslowe ; to omit, or lose by deferring. 


which is preserved in Sir George Warrender's MSS., and written 
wholly in the queen's own hand, is too characteristic to be omitted. 
I have, generally, in Queen Elizabeth's letters, modernized the spell- 
ing : this, for the reader's amusement, I give in her own peculiar 
orthography : 

QUEEN ELIZABETH TO KING JAMES VI., 4th December, 1592, p. 71. 

" MY DEAR BROTHER, If the misfortune of the messenger had not 
protracted so longe the riciate of my lettars, I had sonar receved 
the knowlelege of such matter, as wold have cried my sonar answer 
to causes of suche importance ; but at length, thoght longe : 

" First, I perceave how to the privy snaris of your seeming friends, 
yow have so warily cast your yees as that your [mind] hath not 
been trapped with the fals shewis of such a kindness ; but have wel 
remembred, that proved cares and assured love aught, of mere jus- 
tice, tafe [to have] the upperhand of begiling debaits and coulored 

" Yow forget not, I percaive, how yow should have served ons 
[once] for prey to enter the hands of a foreaner's rule, even by the 
intisement of him, that offars you that he cannot get ; wiche if he 
ever [got], should serve his trofe, not yours, whose land he seakesbut 
to thrale both. Hit glads me much, that yow have more larger sight 
than the [they] supposed that wold have limed you so. And for my 
part, I rendar my many thankis to your selfe for your selfe, as she 
that skornis his malice, and eanvies not his intent. 

" My enemy can never do himself more skar, that to wil my giltles 
wrack, who or now, himself knowes, hath preserved him his cuntryes, 
who since hath sought mine. Suche was his reward. God ever shild 
you from so crouked a wil as to hazard your own, in hope of saiving 

K Yow know right wel, ther is a way to get, that doth precede the 
attempt. Whan he hath won the entry, you shal have lest part of 
the victory, who sekes to make (as oft hath bin) your subjects theirs. 
Suppose, I beseeche you, how easely he wyl present yow the best, and 
kepe the worst for him. This matter is so plain, hit nedes smal advis. 

" Preserve yourselfe in such state as you have. For others begile 
not your selfe, that injuriously you may get. There is more to do in 
that than wiles and wiches. Look about with fixed yees, and sure 
suche to yow, as sekes not more yours than you. Draw not such as 
hange their hopes on other striuges than you may tune. Them that 
gold can corrupt, thinke not your gifts can assure. Who ons have 
made shipwrack of ther country, let them never injoy hit. Wede out 
the wedes, lest the best corn festar. Never arm with powere suche 


whos bettarnis must folowe after you ; nor trust not to ther trust, 
that, undar any coular, wyl tral [thrall] their own soile. 

" I may not, nor wol conciel, overturs that of late hath ful amply 
bene made me, how you may playnly knowe all the combinars aganst 
your State ; and how yow may intrap them, and so assure your king- 
dom ; but not presenting [permitting] hit a spoile to 

st courtsy, one or more of ther owne is this 

actor, and therefore [know you] best in whiche he standeth to your* 

Wither if this be, he may desarve surty of life, or of land, nor live- 
hode ; but suche as may praserve brethe to spend whan best shal 
please you.-f* My answer was, whan I se the way how, I wil impart 
hit to whom hit most apartanis. 

" Now bethink, my deare brother, what furdar yow wyl have me 
do. In meanwhile, beware to give the raines into the hands of any, 
lest hit be to late to revoke suche actions done. Let no one of the 
Spanishe faction in your absence, yea, whan you were present, receave 
strengt or countenance. Yow knowe, but for you, al of them to be 
alike to me for my particular ; yet I may not deny but I abhorre 
suche as sets their country to sale. And thus comitting yow to 
God's tuition, I shal remain the faithful holdar of my vowed amitie 
without spot or wrinkel. 

" Your affectionat Sjstar and Cousin, 


This letter is directed " To our dearest Brother the King of Scots." 
It is indorsed in a small hand of the time, * Delivered be Mr Bowes, 
4th Decem. 1592." See Historic of James the Sext, p. 261. 

No. VIII. 

The Present State of the Nobility in Scotland. 1st July, 1592,J p. 76. 

Earls, Surnames. Religion. Ages. 

Duke of Stewart Prot. Of 20 years. His mother, a French- 
Lennox woman. Married the third daughter 
of the late Earl of Gowrie. She is 
dead. His house, castle of Methven. 

Arran Hamilton Prot. Of about 54 years. His mother, 
Douglas, daughter to the Earl of 

* The original is here torn and illegible. 

f This sentence is evidently imperfect ; but so it runs in the original. 
J MS. State-paper Office. There is also a copy in British Museum, 
Caligula, D. II., 80. 



Earls. Surnames. 

Angus Douglas 




Religion. Ages. 

Morton who was earl before James 
the Regent. His house, Hamilton ; 
and married this Lord Glames' aunt. 

Doubtful Of 42 years. His mother, Graham, 
daughter to the Laird of Morphy. 
Married the eldest daughter of the 
Lord Oliphant. His house, Tantal- 

1 Ion. 

Papist Of 33 years. His mother daughter 
to Duke Hamilton. Married the 
now Duke of Lennox's sister. His 
house, Strabogy. 

Of 17 years. His mother, sister to 
the Earl Marshall, this Earl's father. 
Not yet married. His house, Dy- 

Stewart Prot. Of 32 years. His mother, daughter 
to the Lord Fleming. Married this 
Earl of Gowrie's sister. His house, 

Of 10 years. His mother, daughter 
to the Earl of Murray, Regent, by 
whom this Earl's father (slain by 
Huntly) had that Earldom. Not 

2 married. His house, Tarnaway. 
Papist Of 35 years. His mother, daughter 

to the Earl Marshall. Married first 
the Lord Drummond's daughter, and 
now the Earl of Athol's sister. His 

3 house Finhayen. 

Papist Of 31 years. His mother, Keith, 
daughter to the Earl Marshall. 
Married first the Regent Murray's 
daughter, next Athol's sister, and 
now hath to wife Morton's daughter. 
His house, Slanes. 
Of 66 years. His mother, Erskine, 
daughter of the Lord Erskine. Mar- 
ried to the sister of the Earl of 
Rothes. His house, Dalkeith. 

Prot. Of 38 years. His mother, daughter 
to the Earl of Errol. Married this 

Argile Campbell Young 


Murray Stewart Young 

Crawford Lindsay 


Morton Douglas Prot. 

Marshall Keith 


Earls. Surnames. Religion. 
Cassillis Kennedy Young 

Eglinton Montgom- Young 

Glencairn Cunning- 


Montrose Graham Papist 

Menteith Graham Young 

Rothes Lesly Prot. 

Caithness Sincler Neut. 

Sutherland Gordon Neut. 

Bothwell Stewart Prot. 

Buchau Douglas Young 


Lord Hume's sister. His house, 

Of 17 years. His mother, Lyon, 
aunt to this Lord Glames, and who 
now is the Lord John Hamilton's 
wife. Not married. 
Of 8 years. His mother, Kennedy, 
daughter to the Laird of Barganie. 

Of 40 years. His mother, Gordon 
of Lochinvar. Married the Laird 
of Glenurchy's daughter, Gordon. 
His house, Glencairn. 
Of 49 years. His mother, daughter 
of the Lord Fleming. Married the 
Lord Drummond's sister. Auld 
Montrose, in Angus. 
Of 1 9 years. His mother, daughter 
to the old Laird of Drumlanrig. 
Married to Glenurchy's daughter. 

Of 65 years. His mother, Somer- 
ville. Married first the sister of 
Sir James Hamilton, and then the 
sister of the Lord Ruthven. Castle 
of Lesly. 

Of 26 years. His mother, Hepburn, 
sister to Bothwell that died in Den- 
mark. Married this Huntly's sister. 

Of 36 years. His mother, sister to 
the Regent Earl of Lennox. Mar- 
ried the Earl of Huntly's sister, 
this earl's aunt. His house, Dun- 

Of 30 years. His mother, Hepburn, 
sister to the late Earl Bothwell. 
Married the sister of Archibald Earl 
of Angus. He stands now forfeited. 

Of 1 1 years. His mother, Stewart, 
heretrix of Buchan. Unmarried. 



Earls. Surnames. Religion. Ages. 

Mar Erskine Prot. Of 32 years. His mother, Murray, 

sister to the Laird of Tullybarden. 

A widower. His house, Alloway. 
Orkney Stewart Neut. Of ,63 years. Base son of King 

James the Fifth. His mother, 

Elphingston. Married to the Earl 

of Cassillis daughter. 
Goury Ruthven Young Of 15 years. His mother, sister to 

umqhile Lord Methven. Unmarried. 


Lords. Surnames. Religion. 
Lyndsay Lyndsay Prot. 

Seaton Seaton Papist 

Borthwick Borthwick Prot. 

Yester Hay Prot. 

Levingston Levingston Papist 

Elphinston Elphinston Neut. 

Boyd Boyd Prot. 

Semple Semple Prot. 

Ross Ross Prot. 

Of 38 years. His mother, sister to 

the Laird of Lochleven. Married 

the Earl of Rothes' daughter. His 

house, Byers. 

Of 40 years. His mother, daughter 

to Sir Wm. Hamilton. His wife is 

Montgomery, the earl's aunt. His 

house, Seaton. 

Of 22 years. His mother, daughter 

of Buccleugh. His wife, the Lord 

Yester's daughter. Borthwick. 

Of 28 years. His mother, Car of 

Fernyhirst. His wife, daughter of 

the L. of Newbottle. Neidpeth. 

Of 61 years. His mother, daughter 

of umquhile Earl of Morton. His 

wife, the Lord Fleming's sister. 


Of 63 years. His mother, Erskine. 

His wife, the daughter of Sir John 

Drummond. Elphinston. 

Of 46 years. His mother, Col- 

quhoun. His wife, the Sheriff of 

Air's daughter. Kilmernok. 

Of 29 years. His mother, Preston. 

His wife, daughter of the Earl of 

Eglinton. Sempell. 

Of 30 years. His mother, the 

Lord Semplis daughter. His wife, 

Gavin Hamilton's daughter. 



Lords Surnames. Religion. 
Uchiltree Stewart Prot. 

Cathcart Cathcart Prot. 

Maxwell Maxwell Papist 

Harris Maxwell Papist 

Sanquhar Crichton Papist 

Somervill Somervill Prot. 

Drummond Drummond Prot. 

Oliphant Oliphant Prot. 

Gray Gray Papist 

Glames Lyon Young 

Ogilvy Ogilvy Papist 

Hume Hume Suspect 


Fleming Fleming Papist 


Of 32 years. His mother, sister to 
the Lord Methven. His wife, Ken- 
nedy the daughter of the Laird of 
Blawquhen. Uchiltree. 
Of 55 years. His mother, Semple. 
His wife, Wallace, daughter of the 
Laird of Cragy- Wallace. Cathcart. 
Of 41 years. His mother, daughter 
to the Earl of Morton that preceded 
the Regent. His wife, Douglas, 
sister to the Earl of Angus. 
Of 37 years. His mother, Harris, 
by whom he had the lordship. His 
wife is the sister of Newbottle. His 
house, Terragles. 

Of 24 years. His mother, daughter 
of Drumlanrig. Unmarried. His 
house, Sanquhar. 

Of 45 years. His mother, sister to 
Sir James Hamilton. His wife, sis- 
ter to the Lord Seaton. Carnwath. 
Of 40 years. His mother, daughter 
to the Lord Ruthven. His wife, 
Lyndsay, daughter of the Laird of 
Edzell. Drummond. 
Of 65 years. His mother, Sandie- 
lands. His wife is Errol's sister. 

Of 54 years. His mother, the Lord 
Ogilvy's daughter. His wife, the 
Lord Ruthven's sister. Fowlis. 
Of 17 years. His mother, sister to 
the Lord Saltoun. Unmarried. 
Of 51 years. His mother, Campbell 
of Caddell. His wife, the Lord 
Forbes' daughter. No castle, but 
the B. of Brichen's house. 
Of 27 years. His mother, the L. 
Gray's daughter. His wife, the 
Earl of Morton's daughter. Hume. 
Of 25 years. His mother, daughter 
of the Master of Ross. His wife, 



Lords. Surnames. Religion. 
Innermeith Stewart Prot. 

Forbes Forbes Prot. 
Salton Abernethy Young 
Lovat Fraser Prot. 

Sinkler Sinkler Prot. 
Torpichen Sandilands Young 
Thirlstane Maitland Prot. 

the Earl of Montrose's daughter. 


Of 30 years. His mother, the Lord 

Ogilvy's daughter. His wife, Lynd- 

say the Laird of Edzell's daughter. 


Of 75 years. His mother, Lundie. 

His wife, Keith. 

Of 14 years. His mother, Athol's 

sister, this Earl's aunt. Saltoun. 

Of 23 years. His mother, Stewart, 

aunt to Athol. His wife, the Laird 

of M'Kenzie's daughter. 

Of 65 years. His mother, Oliphant. 

His wife, the Lord Forbes' daughter. 


Of 18 years. His mother, daughter 

of the Lord Ross. His house, Cal- 

der or Torpichen. 

Of 48 years. Married the Lord 

Fleming's aunt. A new house in 

Lowther or Lethington. 


Methven Stewart Decayed by want of heirs ; and coming to 
the King's hands, he hath disponed it to the 

Carlisle Carlisle The male heirs are decayed. There is a 
daughter of the Lord Carlisle's married to 
James Douglas of the Parkhead, who hath 
the living, but not the honours. 


Lords. Surnames. Religion. 
Altrie Keith Prot. 

Newbottle Ker 


Of 63 years. His mother, Keith. 
His wife, Lauriston. This lordship 
is founded on the Abbot of Dere. 
Of 39 years. His mother, the Earl 
of Rothes' sister. His wife, Max- 


Lords. Surnames. Religion. Ages. 

well [sister] to this Lord Harris. 
This lordship is founded on the Ab- 
bacy of Newbottle. His house, 
13 Morphale or Preston-Grange. 

Urquhart Seaton Papist Of 35 years. The Lord Seaton's 
brother. His wife, the Lord Drum- 
mond's daughter. Founded on the 
Priory of Pluscardy. 

Spinay Lyndsay Prot. Of 28 years. The Earl of Craw- 
ford's third brother. His wife, 
Lyon, the Lord Glamis' daughter. 
This is founded on the Bishoprick 
of Murray. His house is Spynay. 
But Huntly is heritable constable in 
that house. 

Indorsed, "Of the Nobility in Scotland." Burghley, who had 
studied the paper, and marked the names of the Papists, has added, 
in his own hand, " A Catalogue," the date l mo Julii, 1592; the figures 
over the Papists' names are also in Burghley's hand. 

No. IX. 

The following letter is taken from the original in the Warrender 
MSS., written entirely in the queen's own hand : 

ELIZABETH TO JAMES, [probably 1593.] 

** When I consider, right dear Brother, that all the chaos whereof 
this world was made, consisted first of confusion, and was after 
divided into four principal elements, of which if either do bear too 
great a superiority, the whole must quickly perish ; and when I see 
that all our beings consist of contrarieties, without the which we may 
not breath ; I marvel the less that there do fall in your conceit, an 
opinion, that you could accord with a discord. It is true that, in 
music, sweet disorders be good rules ; but in trades of lives, which 
bide not for moments but for years, it seld is taken for good advice : 
the more, I grant, is their bond, that on so dangerous foundation find 
a builder to venture his work. 

" I will shun to be so wicked, as to turn to scorn that I suppose is 
grounded on ignorance ; neither will I misjudge that any derision is 
meant, where I hope there reigns no such iniquity : therefore, I will 


have recourse to my best judgment, which consisteth in this thought, 
that some that saw my outward show, looked not on the calends of 
my years ; and so, through fame of seeming appearance, might delude 
your ears, and make suppose far better than you should find. But 
as my obligation is so great in your behalf, as it may permit no dis- 
guising, no more than in anything else that may concern you will I 
abuse you with beguiling persuasions ; and thereon mind to deal with 
you as merchants that have no ready money : then they fall to con- 
sider of those wares that suits best their countries, and by interchange 
of equal utilities, makes traffic to other's best avail; procuring a con- 
tinuance of friendly trade, and true intelligence, of fair good will ; 
which is the way I choose to walk in, and even in so smooth a path 
as my works shall perform my word's errand ; and do promise, on 
the faith of a king, if I find correspondence in your actions, my eyes 
shall give as narrow a look to what shall be your good, as if it touched 
the body that bears them. But if I shall find a double face of one 
shoulder, I protest I shall abandon my care, and leave you to your 
worst fortune. 

" This gentleman, for your allowance and good favour, not for his 
good will to me, nor many practices perilous to me, of which, if he 
list, he may speak, I admit to my presence ; whom, I assure you, I 
find even such as fits the judgment of your place, to esteem with no 
temporary honour. You may believe my judgment, that have had 
no cause to give him a partial censure. I perceive that God bestowed 
his gifts on him with no sparing hand ; but even with his dole was 
amply enlarged.* But, above all, I commend his faith to you ; for 
-whom, I see, he neglects and loseth his greatest hopes ere now, and 
in all your requests rather overcarries it, as though nothing must be 
denied your request. 

"And for that part of his charge, that toucheth my particular, 
though at your commandment he followeth your laws, yet found I 
my wants such, as are far short from such an election as your choice 
ghould make you, where both youth and beauty should accompany 
each other; of which, though either fail, yet let not such defects make 
diminution of my friendship's price, which I trust to make of so true 
a value, that no touchstone shall try any mixture in that compound, 
but such as fears not trial. 

" To conclude : this bearer hath well satisfied my expectation, as 
one that ought to make some amends for former wrongs, to [whom] 
I have bequeathed the trust to lay open unto you my griefs and in- 
juries, which, through lewd advice, you have wrought ; though, I 

* So in the original ; but I cannot make out the sense. 


trust, coming amends may easily blot out of my memory's books. This 
I bequeath to the safe keeping of God ; who give some wisdom to 
sever a sincere advice from a fraudulent counsel, and bless you from 
betraying snares, who takes the feet oft of the hare ! 

" Your assured careful Sister and Cousin, 


No. X. 
ELIZABETH TO JAMES, June 1594, p. 138. 

The following letter of Elizabeth to James was sent immediately 
previous to the baptism of Prince Henry. 

" MY GOOD BROTHER, You have so well repaired the hard lines 
of menacing speech, that I like much better the gloss than the text ; 
and do assure you that the last far graceth you better, and fitteth 
best our two amities. You may make sure account, that what coun- 
sel, advice, or mislike, my writing can make you, receiveth ever 
ground of what is best for you, though my interest be least in them. 
And, therefore, having so good foundation, I hope you will make 
your profit of my plainness ; and remember that others may have 
many ends in their advices, and I but you for principal of mine. 

" I render you many thanks, for bond of firm and constant amity, 
with most assurance of never entering with my foes in treaty or good 
will, until constraint of my behalf cause the breach. It pleaseth me 
well that this addition may assure me a perpetuity ; for never shall 
my act deserve so foul an imputation. But I muse what such an 
Horace his but should need to me,f whose solid deeds have never 
merited such a halfed suspicion. Put out of your breast, therefore, 
my sincere heart intreats you, so unfit a thought for a royal mind ; 
and set in such place the unfeigned love that my deserts have craved, 
and make a great distance betwixt others not tried, and mine so long 

" It gladdeth me much, that you now have falsified such bruits as 
forepast deeds have bred you : for tongues of men are never bridled 
by kings' greatness, but by their goodness ; nor is it enough to say 
they will do well, when present acts gainsay their belief. 

* This letter is not dated, and is therefore placed at the end of the corre- 
spondence ; but it appears to have been sent at the time when James was 
(as Elizabeth thought) acting with inconsistent lenity to Huntley and the 
Catholics, probably some time in September, 1593. See page 110. 

f So in the original ; but the sense I cannot make out. 


" We princes are set on highest stage, where looks of all beholders 
verdict our works ; neither can we easily dance in nets, so thick as 
may dim their sight. Such, therefore, our works should be, as may 
praise our Maker and grace ourselves. Among the which I trust you 
will make one whose facts shall tend to strengthen yourself, whoso 
you feeble, and count it best spent time to govern your own and not 
be tutored. And since no government lasts, where duly pain and 
grace be not inflicted where best they be deserved, I hope no depend- 
ing humours of partial respects shall banish from you that right. 
And as you have, I may so justly say, almost alone, stood princely to 
your own estate, without prizing others' lewdness, that scarcely could 
afford a grant to a true request, or an yea to well-tried crimes : so 
I beseech you comfort yourself with this laud, that 'so much the more 
shineth your clearness thorough the foil of dim clouds, as their spot 
will hardly be blotted out, when your glory remains. And by this 
dealing, you shall ever so bind me to be your faithful Watch, and 
stanch sister, that nothing shall I hope pass my knowledge, that any 
way may touch you, but I will both warn and ward in such sort, as 
your surety shall be respected, and your state held up, as God, that 
best is witness, knoweth ; whom ever I implore to counsel you the 
best, and preserve your days. 

" Your affectionate Sister and Cousin, 

" E. R. 

" Such remembrance of my affection as I send, take in good part, 
as being, such my affairs as now they be, more than millions sent from 
a richer prince, and fraughted with fewer foes ; which I doubt not 
but in wisdom you can consider, and as, in some part, I have at length 
dilated to this gent." 

Royal Letters, State-paper Office, Indorsed, June, 1594, M. of 
her Ma* 8 L re vr** her owne hand to the K. of Scotts. 

No. XI. 


Lord Scrope, on the morning after the enterprise, wrote both to 
the privy-council of England and to Lord Burghley, entreating them 
to move the queen to insist on the instant delivery of Buccleuch, to 
be punished for this proud attempt, as he deserved. In his letter to 
the privy-council, he thus describes the enterprise : * 

* State-paper Office, Border Correspondence, Lord Scrope to the Council, 
13th April, 1596. 

VOL. IX. 2 B 


" Yesternight, in the dead time thereof, Walter Scott of Hardinge,* 
and Walter Scott of Goldylands, the chief men about Buclughe, ac- 
companied with 500 horsemen of Buclughe and Kinmont's friends, 
did come, armed and appointed with gavlocks and crows of iron, 
hand-picks, axes, and scaling-ladders, unto an outward corner of the 
base court of this castle, and to the postern-door of the same ; which 
they undermined speedily and quickly, and made themselves pos- 
sessors of the base court ; brake into the chamber where Will of 
Kinmont was, carried him away ; and in their discovery by the watch, 
left for dead two of the watchmen ; hurt a servant of mine, one of 
Kinmont's keepers ; and were issued again out of the postern, before 
they were descried by the watch of the inner ward, and ere resistance 
could be made. 

" The watch, as it should seem, by reason of the stormy night, 
were either on sleep, or gotten under some covert to defend them- 
selves from the violence of the weather, by means whereof the Scots 
achieved their enterprise with less difficulty. * * If Buclughe 
himself have been thereat in person, the captain of this proud attempt, 
as some of my servants tell me they heard his name called upon, (the 
truth whereof I shall shortly advertise,) then I humbly beseech, that 
her majesty may be pleased to send unto the king, to call for, and 
effectually to press his delivery, that he may receive punishment as 
her majesty shall find that the quality of his offence shall demerit ; 
for it will be a dangerous example to leave this high attempt un- 
punished. Assuring your lordships, that if her majesty will give me 
leave, it shall cost me both life and living, rather than such an indig- 
nity to her highness, and contempt to myself, shall be tolerated. In 
revenge whereof, I intend that something shall be shortly enterprised 
against the principals in this action, for repair thereof, if I be not 
countermanded by her majesty." 

" These names were taken by the informer at the mouth of one 
that was in person at the enforcing of this Castle, the 13th April, 

The Laird of Buclughe. 
Walter Scot of Goldielands. 
Walter Scot of Hardinge. 
Walter Scot of Branxholme. 

Scot named Todrigge. 

Will. Ellott, Goodman of Gorrombye. 

* Walter Scott of Harden, who, tinder Buccleuch himself, seems to have 
been the principal leader in this daring and successful enterprise, was the 
direct ancestor of the present Lord Poiwarth. 


John Ellott, called of the Copshawe. 

The Laird of Mangerton. 

The young Laird of Whithaugh, and his sonne. 

Three of the Calfhills, Jocke, Bighams, and one Ally, a bastard. 

Sandy Armstronge, sonne to Hebbye. 

Kinmont's Jocke, Francie, Geordy, and Sandy, all brethren, the 

sonnes of Kinmont. 

Willie Bell, redcloake, and two of his brethren. 
Walter Bell of Godesby. 
Three brethren of Twada Armstrong's. 
Young John of the Hollace, and one of his brethren. 
Christy of Barneglish, and Roby of the Langholm. 
The Chingles. ? 
Willie Kange, and his brethrene, with their complices. 

" The informer saith, that Buclughe was the fifth man which entered 
the castle ; and encouraged his company with these words ' Stand 
to it ; for I have vowed to God and my prince, that I would fetch 
out of England, Kinmont, dead or quick ; and will maintain that 
action when it is done, with fire and sword.'" 

The date on the back, April 13, is in the hand- writing of Lord 

No. XII. 

The following spirited and indignant letter of Elizabeth to James, 
was written soon after the release of Kinmont Will by Buccleuch: 

ELIZABETH TO JAMES, April 1596, p. 199-f 

" I am to speak with what argument my letters should be fraught, 
since such themes be given me, as I am loath to find, and am slow to 
recite. Yet, since I needs must treat of [them,] and unwillingly re- 
ceive, I cannot pretermit to set afore you a too rare example of a 
seduced king by evil information. 

"Was it ever seen, that a prince from his cradle,'preserved from the 
slaughter, held up in royal dignity, conserved from many treasons, 
maintained in all sorts of kindness, should remunerate, with so hard 
measure, such dear deserts, with doubt to yield in just treaties re- 
sponse to a lawful friend's demand 1 Ought it to be put to a question, 

* MS. State-paper Office, 13th April, 1596. Border Correspondence, 
t MS. Royal Letters, Scotland. State-paper Office. 


whether a king should do another his like, the right ? Or should a 
council be demanded their good pleasure what he himself should do ? 
Were it in the non-age of a prince, it might have some colour ; hut 
in a Father-age, it seemeth strange, and, I daresay, without example. 
I am sorry for the cause that constrains this speech, especially in so 
apert a matter, whose root grows far, and is of that nature that it (I 
fear me) will more harm the wronger than the wronged; for how like 
regard soever be held of me, yet I should grieve too much to see you 
neglect yourself, whose honour is touched in such degree, as that our 
English, whose regard, I doubt not, you have in some esteem, for 
other good thoughts of you, will measure your love by your deeds, 
not your words in your paper. 

" Wherefore, for fine, let this suffice you, that I am as evil treated 
by my named friend as I could be by my known foe. Shall any castle 
or habytacle of mine be assailed by a night larcin, and shall not my 
confederate send the offender to his due punishment ? Shall a friend 
stick at that demand that he ought rather to prevent ? The law of 
kingly love would have said nay ; and not for persuasion of such as 
never can or will stead you, but dishonour you to keep their own 
rule, lay behind you such due regard of me, and in it of yourself, who, 
as long as you use this trade, will be thought not of yourself ought, 
but of conventions what they will. For, commissioners I will never 
grant, for an act that he cannot deny that made ; for what so the 
cause be made, no cause should have done that. And when you with 
a better-weighed judgment shall consider, I am assured my answer 
shall be more honourable and just ; which I expect with more speed, 
as well for you as for myself. 

" For other doubtful and litigious causes in our Border, I will be 
ready to point commissioners, if I shall find you needful ; but for this 
matter of so villanous a usage, assure you I will never be so answered, 
as hearers shall need. In this, and many other matters, I require 
your trust to our ambassador, which faithfully will return them to 
me. Praying God for your safe keeping, 

" Your faithful and loving sister, 

E. R." 

Indorsed, Copie of Her Maj. Letter to the King of Scots, of her 
own hand. 


No. XIII. 

After Kinmont Will's Rescue and Deliverance by Buccleuch, 1596, 
p. 199. 


" MY DEAR BROTHER, That I see a king more considerate of what 
becometh him in the behalf of his like, than councillors, that never 
being of such like estate, can hardlier judge what were fittest done, 
I marvel no more than I am glad to find yourself as greatest, so 
worthier of judgment, than such as, if they were as they ought, you 
need not have had the glory of so honourable a fact alone. But you 
have made me see that you can prize what were meetest, and deem 
how short of that they showed, who have displayed their neglect, in 
leaving you destitute of good advice, by their backwardness in that 
was their duty. And I hope it will make you look with a broad 
sight on such advisers, and will warn you by this example not to 
concur with such deceitful counsel, but will cause you either to mind 
their custom, or to get you such as be better minded, than to hazard 
you the loss of your most affectionate, in following their unseemly 

" For the punishment given to the offender, I render you many 
thanks ; though I must confess, that without he be rendered to our- 
self, or to our Warden, we have not that we ought. And, therefore, 
I beseech you consider the greatness of my dishonour, and measure 
his just delivery accordingly. Deal in this case like a king, that will 
have all this realm and others adjoining see how justly and kindly 
you both will and can use a prince of my quality ; and let not any 
dare persuade more for him than you shall think fit, whom it becomes 
to be echoes to your actions, no judgers of what beseems you. 

" For Border matters, they are so shameful and inhuman as it 
would loathe a king's heart to think of them. I have borne for your 
quiet, too long, even murders committed by the hands of your own 
Wardens ; which if they be true, as I fear they be, I hope they shall 
well pay for such demerits, and you will never endure such barbarous 
acts to be unrevenged. 

" I will not molest you with other particularities ; but will assure 
myself that you will not easily be persuaded to overslip such enor- 
mities, and will give both favourable ear to our ambassador, and 
speedy redress, with due correction for such demeanour. Never 
think them meet to rule, that guides without rule. 

" Of me make this account, that in your world shall never be found 


a more sincere affection, nor purer from guile, nor fuller fraught with 
truer sincerity, than mine ; which will not harbour in my breast a 
wicked conceit of you, without such great cause were given, as you 
yourself could hardly deny ; of which we may speed,! hope, ad calendas 

" I render millions of thanks for such advertisements as this 
bearer brought from you ; and see by that, you both weigh me and 
yourself in a right balance : for who seeks to supplant one, looks 
next for the other. This paper I end with my prayers for your 
safety, as desireth 

" Your most affectionate Sister, 

" ELIZ. R." 

Royal Letters, State-paper Office. Indorsed, Copie of her Mat 8 - 
Lre to the K. of Scotts, of hir own hand, for Mr Bowes. 

No. XIV. 

ELIZABETH TO JAMES, 1st July, 1598, p. 247. 
On the Subject of Valentine Thomas. 

" MY DEAR BROTHER, Suppose not that my silence hath had any 
other root, than hating to make an argument of my writing to you, 
that should molest you, or trouble me ; being most desirous that no 
mention might once be made of so villanous an act, specially that 
might but in word touch a sacred person ; but now I see that so 
lavishly it hath been used by the author thereof, that I can refrain 
no longer to make you partaker thereof sincerely, from the beginning 
to this hour, of all that hath proceeded ; and for more speed have 
sent charge with Bowes, to utter all, without fraud or guile ; assur- 
ing you that few things have displeased me more since our first 
amities ; and charge you in God's name to believe, that I am not of 
so viperous a nature, to suppose or have thereof a thought against 
you, but shall make the deviser have his desert, more for that than 
ought else ; referring myself to the true trust of this Gent : to whom 
1 beseech you give full affiance in all he shall assure you on my behalf. 
And so God I beseech to prosper you with all his graces, as doth 

* Your most affectionate Sister, 

E. R." 


Royal Letters, State-paper Office. Indorsed, 1598. Pr^o. July, 
Coppie of her Ma*"- Lre to the Kinge of Scots, wt her owne 
hande, concerninge Val. Thomas. 

No. XV. 

The following letter was sent by the Earl of Mar, and the Abbot 
of Kinloss : 

JAMES TO ELIZABETH, 10th February, 1601, p. 331-332. 

" MADAM AND DEAREST SISTER, As the strait bonds of our so-long- 
continued amity do oblige me, so your daily example used towards 
me in the like case, does invite me, not to suffer any misconstrued 
thoughts against any of your actions to take harbour in my heart ; 
but by laying open all my griefs before you, to seek from yourself the 
right remedy and cure for the same. 

" And since that I have oft found by experience, that evil-affected 
or unfit instruments employed betwixt us, have often times been the 
cause of great misunderstanding amongst us, I have therefore, at this 
time, made choice of sending unto you this nobleman, the Earl of 
Mar, in respect of his known honesty and constant affection to the 
continuance of our amity ; together with his colleague the Abbot of 
Kinloss (a gentleman whose uprightness and honesty is well known 
unto you ;) that by the labours of such honest and well-affected 
ministers, all scruples or griefs may on either side be removed, and 
our constant amity more and more be confirmed and made sound. 

"Assuring myself, that my ever honest behaviour towards you 
shall at least procure that justice at your hands, to try or* ye trust 
any unjust imputations spread of me, and not to wrong yourself in 
wronging your best friend ; but in respect of the faithfulness of the 
bearers, I will remit all particulars to their relation ; who, as they 
are directed to deal with you in all honest plainness, (the undissever- 
able companion of true friendship,) so do I heartily pray you to hear 
and trust them in all things as it were myself, and to give them a 
favourable ear and answer, as shall ever be deserved at your hands by 
" Your most loving and affectionate Brother and Cousin, 


" From Holyrood House, the 10th February, 1601." 

* Or; ere. . 

t Wholly in James' hand. Royal Letters, State-paper Office, sealed 
with the king's signet-ring. 


No. XVI. 

The following letter from the English queen, is an answer to the for- 
mer letter of James to Elizabeth, sent by his ambassadors the Earl of 
Mar and the Abbot of Kinloss. See this volume, p. 331-332. 

ELIZABETH TO JAMES, May 1601, p. 337-338. 

" My GOOD BROTHER, At the first reading of your letter, albeit I 
wondered much what springs your griefs might have of many of my 
actions, who knows myself most clear of any just cause to breed you 
any annoy ; yet I was well lightened of my marvel when you dealt 
so kindly with me not to let them harbour in your breast, but were 
content to send me so well a chosen couple,* that might utter and 
receive what you mean, and what I should relate. 

" And when my greedy will to know, did stir me at first access to 
require an ease, with speed, of such matters, I found by them that 
the principal causes, were the self same in part, that the Lord of 
Kinloss had, two years past and more, imparted to me : to whom and 
to other your ministers I am sure I have given so good satisfaction 
in honour and reason, as, if your other greater matters have not made 
them forgotten, you yourself will not deny them. 

" But not willing in my letter to molest you with that which they 
will not fail but tell you, (as I hope,) together with such true and 
guileless profession of my sincere affection to you, as you shall never 
have just reason to doubt my clearness in your behalf ; yet this I 
must tell you that as I marvel much to have such a subject that 
would impart so great a cause to you, afore ever making me privy 
thereof, so doth my affectionate amity to you, claim at your hands 
that my ignorance of subjects' boldness be not augmented by your 
silence ; by whom you may be sure you shall never obtain so much 
good, as my good dealing can afford you. 

" Let not shades deceive you, which may take away best substance 
from you, when they can turn but to dust or smoke. An upright 
demeanour bears ever more poise than all disguised shows of good 
can do. Remember that a bird of the air, if no other instrument, 
to an honest king, shall stand in stead of many feigned practices, to 
utter aught may any wise touch him. And so leaving my scribbles, 
with my best wishes that you scan what works becometh best a king, 
and what in end will best avail him. 

* The Earl of Mar and the Abbot of Kinloss. 


" Your most loving Sister, that longs to see you deal as kindly as 
I mean, 


Royal Letters, State-paper Office, Indorsed, Copie of her Mat*' 
Letter to the King of Scots, written with her own hand. 

No. XVII. 

The following letter was entirely written in the queen's own hand, 
and sent to the king by the Duke of Lennox : 

ELIZABETH TO JAMES, 2d December, 1601, p. 341. 

" MY DEAR BROTHER, Never was there yet Prince nor meaner 
wight, to whose grateful turns I did not correspond, in keeping them 
in memory, to their avail and my own honour ; so trust I, that you 
will not doubt but that your last letters by Fowles and the Duke are 
so acceptably taken, as my thanks can not be lacking for the same, 
but yields them you in thankful sort. And albeit I suppose I shall 
not need to trouble any of your subjects in my service, yet, accord- 
ing to your request, I shall use the liberty of your noble offer, if it 
shall be requisite. 

" And whereas your faithful and dear duke hath at large discoursed 
with me, as of his own knowledge, what faithful affection you bear 
me, and hath added the leave he hath received from you, to proffer 
himself for the performer of my service in Ireland, with any such as 
best may please me under his charge ; I think myself greatly in- 
debted to you for your so tender care of my prosperity ; and have 
told him that I would be loath to venture his person in so perilous 
service, since I see he is such one that you make so great a reckon- 
ing of ; but that some of meaner quality, of whom there were less 
loss, might in that case be ventured. 

" And sure, dear brother, in my judgment, for the short acquain- 
tance that I have had with him, you do not prize with better cause 
any near unto you : for I protest, without feigning or doubling, I 
never gave ears to greater laud, than such as I have heard him pro- 
nounce of you, with humble desire that I would banish from my 
mind any evil opinion or doubt of your sincerity to me. And because 
though I know it was but duty, yet where such show appears in 
mindful place, I hold it worthy regard ; and am not so wicked to 
conceal it from you, that you may thank your self for such a choice. 
And thus much shall suffice for fear to molest your eyes with my 


scribbling : committing you to the enjoying of best thoughts, and 
good consideration of your careful friend, which I suppose to be, 
" Yo r . most aff. Sister, 


Royal Letters, State-paper Office. Indorsed, 2d December, 
1601. Cop. of her Ma te Lre to the King of Scot, by the Duke 
of Lennox. 

ELIZABETH TO JAMES, 4th July, 1602, p. 351. 

" MY GOOD BROTHER, Who longest draws the thread of life, and 
views the strange accidents that time makes, doth not find out a 
rarer gift than thankfulness is, that is most precious and seldomest 
foand ; which makes me well gladded, that you methinks begin to 
feel how necessary a treasure this is, to be employed where best it is 
deserved ; as may appear in those lines that your last letters express, 
in which your thanks be great, for the sundry cares, that of your 
state and honour, my dear friendship hath afforded you ; being ever 
ready to give you ever such subjects for your writing, and think my- 
self happy when either my warnings or counsel may in fittest time 
avail you. 

" Whereas it hath pleased you to impart the offer that the French 
king hath made you, with a desire of secrecy : believe, that request 
includes a trust that never shall deceive : for though many exceed 
me in many things, yet I dare profess that I can ever keep taciturnity 
for myself and my friends. My head may fail, but my tongue shall 
never; as I will not say but yourself can in yourself, though not to 
me, witness. But of that no more : preterlerunt illi dies. 

" Now to the French : iu plain dealing, without fraud or guile, if 
he will do as he pretends, you shall be more beholden to him than 
he is to himself, who within one year hath winked at such injuries 
and affronts, as, ere I would have endured that am of the weakest 
sex, I should condemn tny judgment : I will not enter into his. 
And, therefore, if his terba come ad actionem, I more shall wonder 
than do suspect ; but if you will needs have my single advice, try 
him if he continue in that mind. And as I know that you would 
none of such a League, as myself should not be one, so do I see, by 
his overture, that himself doth : or if, for my assistance, yous hould 
have need of all help, he would give it : so, as since he hath so good 
consideration of me, you will allow him therein, and doubt nothing 



but that he will have me willingly for company ; for as I may not 
forget how their league with Scotland was reciproke when we had 
wars with them, so is it good reason that our friendships should be 

" Now, to confess my kind taking of all your loving offers, and 
vows of most assured oaths, that naught shall be concealed from me, 
that either prince or subject shall, to your knowledge, work against 
me or my estate ; surely, dear brother, you right me much if so you 
do. And this I vow, that without you list, I will not willingly call 
you in question for such warnings, if the greatness of the cause may 
not compel me thereunto. And do entreat you to think, that if any 
accident so befall you, as either secrecy or speed shall be necessary, 
suppose yourself to be sure of such a one as shall neglect neither, to 
perform so good a work. Let others promise, and I will do as much 
with truth as others with wiles. And thus I leave to molest your 
eyes with my scribbling ; with my perpetual prayers for your good 
estate, as desireth your most 

" Loving and affectionate Sister. 


" As for your good considerations of Border causes, I answer them 
by my agent, and infinitely thank you therefor." 

Royal Letters, State-paper Office. Indorsed, 4th July, 1602. 
Copie of her Ma ties Lre to the King of Scotts, sent by Mr 
Roger Ashton. 




Tytler, Patrick Fraser 

The history of Scotland 
New ed.