James VI: September 1591

Calendar of State Papers, Scotland: Volume 10, 1589-1593. Originally published by His Majesty's General Register House, Edinburgh, 1936.

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, 'James VI: September 1591', in Calendar of State Papers, Scotland: Volume 10, 1589-1593, (Edinburgh, 1936) pp. 567-575. British History Online https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/scotland/vol10/pp567-575 [accessed 20 May 2024].

. "James VI: September 1591", in Calendar of State Papers, Scotland: Volume 10, 1589-1593, (Edinburgh, 1936) 567-575. British History Online, accessed May 20, 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/scotland/vol10/pp567-575.

. "James VI: September 1591", Calendar of State Papers, Scotland: Volume 10, 1589-1593, (Edinburgh, 1936). 567-575. British History Online. Web. 20 May 2024, https://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers/scotland/vol10/pp567-575.

In this section

James VI: September 1591

607. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [Sept. 2.]

Was informed yesterday by a person of quality that Earl Bothwell would remain in Scotland and had sent for some of his horses; and also that it was intended to surprise the King riding between Stirling and Falkland or in other fit place, in which conspiracy sundry noblemen are named who would never enter into such traitorous action. The informer said that the Chancellor was advertised thereof and had warned the King. Knowing that the King purposed to ride yesterday from Stirling to Falkland he [Bowes] sent to find out in what sort he passed thither, and hears the King to be safely returned to Falkland without impediment.

It is said that the Chancellor seeks the goodwill of Bothwell, offering to procure the Earl's peace and remission, and has employed a nobleman to expedite this knot of friendship. Bothwell mistrusts this kindness as meant to entrap him, yet some instruments are chosen by the nobleman and the Earl who are busy to effect the matter. A more credible party says that Bothwell seeks the Chancellor's favour, so that the Chancellor has no need to hunt for his friendship or to endanger his credit with the King by his dealings with Bothwell or by "any dishonorable traine to be cloked with amitie." The Chancellor has not yet passed all dangers, but is in little peril so long as the King continues his good countenance towards him.

The Master of Glammis is delivered from his ward in Edinburgh Castle upon caution of 5,000 l. Scots that within ten days he shall pass over the water of Dee until he be freed of that ward by the King. This day he departed, without visiting the Chancellor or any reconciliation between them, neither was his liberty procured by the Chancellor; which will little further the agreement sought by their friends. The King has written to William Carr's friends for the expedition of the composition between them and young Cesford for the slaughter of William Carr.

Lord Hume's entry into England and repair towards the court will be known to his lordship before the receipt hereof. Buccleuch has to-day come to Edinburgh, to put all things in readiness for his journey, pretending to start on the 7th instant, according to his bond, and to pass through England.

Encloses the copy of Bothwell's letter to the King mentioned in his last letter. Edinburgh. Signed: Robert Bowes.

pp. Addressed. Indorsed.

Enclosure with the same:

(Earl of Bothwell to James VI.)

"Maye it please your majestie to pardon my presumption in addressinge these humble lynes unto your gratious hande, moved hearto not by anye giltines of the supposed and devysed crymes forged and told hitherto agaynst me, but uppoun the confidens of your majeste's indiferent favor in tryall of my inocencye, which nowe of late hathe bene smored and suppressed by the vyle subgestions and calumnyes of my adversaries, at that tyme when as my actions were vowed, yea begune and entred in a course and race for the service of your majestie and peace of your neighbour's realme, purposinge with my self to dischardge the dutye and office that be my chardge I was called unto, and to pacefye the quarrells and quarellours of the comon peace that might have brought disorder unto your majeste's honourable and intended resolution."

"But suche are the judgmentes of my God—of whom I yet looke for mercye, and throughe him hops for some farther releif of your majestie —to stop the fawde [sic] of my services with a newe devise of a devilishe accusation, and to move your majeste's mynde over suddenlye to embrace an apprehension of my ruin; wherthroghe I am inforced to withdrawe and retiere my selfe, not from the tryall which bothe in warde and out of warde I have sought and cannot have it, but from the iniquitye of tyme and vehemencye of that passion that possessethe that gracious seat of yours, to the which I was and am more faithfull then ever I was obedient to my God, who for my sines hathe as with thunder throwne your majeste's undeserved displesure uppoun me: beseichinge your majestie most humblye, seinge I am bothe forced and resolved to departe, to take my beloved wyfe and children in your majeste's gratious protection, and suffer not that by anye extraordinarye course of lawe they be berefft of that which with lawe they justlye maye posesse and be ells provyded unto; cravinge this farder of your majestie to derect me if so it stand with your gratious pleasure, howe I may in my absence eschewe the calumnyes of my evill willers and followe that course that nether may be prejudiciall to your majeste's estate nor offensive to your majestie. So, sire, after the humble submission of my triall and humble harte, I take my leave of your majestie, beinge nowe in poynt to depart to what place it maye please your majestie ether to allowe or derect me unto." Francis Stewart.

pp. Copy. Indorsed by Burghley.

608. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [Sept. 10.]

Refers to what he last wrote as to conspiracy to surprise the King. The Chancellor was warned of it, and advised the King by the Secretary that the Master of Caithness when with him at Lethington had wished him to persuade the King to have regard to himself whilst beyond the water, and to hasten his return to Edinburgh. The King was also informed by others that the Master of Caithness had been at Lethington with the Chancellor, and in his return in the night was taken by Lord Hamilton: also that the Chancellor had dealing with Bothwell for a band to be knit between them by means of Montrose and Inch-Effray for the Chancellor, and the Master of Caithness for Bothwell, who came purposely to the house of Inch-Effray for the furtherance of this motion. The King has taken in good part Lord Hamilton's taking of the Master of Caithness, but is offended that the Chancellor should entertain this matter without his privity and allowance, and has sent him by the Secretary a gentle check for his error. The Chancellor has answered and given account of his doings that the King may be satisfied, but some labour to nourish this conceit in the King's heart against the Chancellor; some of the latter's friends are persuaded that the coming of the Master of Caithness to him and raising this course of kindness between him and Bothwell has been purposely practised to bring the Chancellor into the King's disgrace.

The Chancellor and others counselled the King to stay his intended journey to St. Johnston's and hasten his return hither, but he would not hearken, or think that any person meant harm to him, resolving to ride this day to St. Johnston. The Earl of Atholl was accused of having Bothwell in his house, and charged to appear yesterday before the King to answer for the same; the King has therefore called some barons to him, purposing with them and their small forces to pass to Dunkeld to take Atholl in case he disobey or fail to make his appearance. Atholl sent to the King to excuse the coming of Bothwell to his house and his abode in his lands without his privity or consent, but the King is not satisfied, and prepares to journey to Dunkeld unless Atholl comes to him at Falkland or St. Johnston's. He is accompanied by no noblemen except Huntly, whose presence and forces will the more deeply move Atholl and others against Huntly. The King is persuaded to have Bothwell so lodged that he can get hold of him, but this thing is so commonly known that the success shall little content the King. It is said that Bothwell continues in the bounds of the Earl of Atholl. The Countess Bothwell's wife presented to the King a letter from him, a copy whereof is enclosed. The King is pleased that justice shall be done to the Countess and children, to have such portion of Bothwell's livings as he had lawfully conveyed to them before the time of his conspiracy against the King, and for that purpose the corn at Kelso shall be put in neutral hands; but the King is resolute to prosecute Bothwell to the uttermost.

Buccleuch misliking to enter England by Carlisle or come in the West March is ready to embark for Flanders. He sought to have the time of his departure prolonged, but the King liked not thereof, though he shows favourable countenance towards him, saying that immediately after the known passage of Bothwell out of this realm Buccleuch shall be called home with all favour.

The Earl of Argyle and his friends have appointed to be in Edinburgh about the first of October to call for redress against Lord Ogilvie and the Master his son for the slaughter of the four Campbells; for although Argyle raised letters of horning against Ogilvie for his appearance, yet by means of courtiers the King stays the process, purposing to reconcile the parties; which shall be difficult. The Laird of Spynie, hearing that the Master of Glammis was in Edinburgh castle and to be shortly delivered upon caution, came to the King to persuade him to detain him; but Glammis was enlarged before his coming: whereupon he has returned to Spynie with great discontentment.

The Parliament summoned is not likely to be held at the day appointed, for it was suddenly called without consideration of the causes to be treated and few noblemen will come. Difficulty will be found to establish the revocation of the King's grants. The Laird of Roslin is in ward in Blackness. His friends press him [Bowes] to move the King to be favourable to him, offering in return intelligence in all the courses of the Catholics. Prays direction in this matter. Edinburgh. Signed: Robert Bowes.

pp. Addressed. Indorsed.

Enclosure with the same:

(Earl of Bothwell to James VI.)

"As the infinit mercy of God could not shewe it self in any wark if it were not through the multitude of the sinnes of man, sua, Sir, the swete clemency of your majestie could not sa farr be commendable in the oppen mouthe of your majestie's subjectes nor made knowne in this or other realmes, gif the errouris, offenses, and rebellions of your subjectes ingendred not the subject and gave argument of your royall courtisie and clemency. The consideracion hereof hes given me a farder baldnes to have recourse yet againe to your majestie by this my humble letter, confessing all my faultes, and requiring humblie your majeste's pardon for the same. Great cause have I, if my ungratefull hart could be thanckfull to my God, to render him all humble thanckes that hes enclined your majeste's gracious hart to accept, albeit not to give answere unto my last and humble request, and not so muche to ponder the crimes for the which I was committed as having neither soliditie nor substance in them, but the circumstances of my escape and the contempt as your majestie doth interpritt that hathe lately accompanied the same. Sir, to occurre to this with a just defence were a thing very tedious and yet true, and God beiris me record that my passing by the portes was not to suche end as your majestie hes conceived, or yet to give thereby any farder showe of disobedience, but to lett him knowe who gave out that he wold make me gange about or els to make my way the shorter, that I neither feared his presence nor his powre; which thing as I believe hes bene declaired by the Lard of Trackquare afore to your majeste. So, Sir, will I forbeare from longer or more prolixt excuses; and yet, Sir, seing the same is so ill taken withall, and as I heare hevily exaggregated by your majestie, I confesse I have offended and humbly craves [sic] your majeste's pardon therefore. And if my presence had not bene as I judged it more intollerable and offensive to your majeste's sight nor hazardfull to me, I wold have already humbly addressed my self to your majestie, that your majestie might rather have hard the sound of my sigheing voise then the report of my complaintes and humble sute in this paper: for by this course I am assured to have putten in your majeste's handes a most notable subject of your endles praise and an immortall memory of your sacred name; and yet the stay hereof did not growe neither through the giltines of conscience, for my innocency confirmes me mare confidently in the same, or throughe a dispaire of your majeste's mercie, or yet through a conceate of the severitie of punishment, seing in weightier crymes your majestie hes never bene so rigorous neither with me nor yet with others: but the default hereof was occasioned by the promised favour of some who, as I have nowe discovered, were neither willing nor able to performe it, for the hope given to me by them and by their creditt to reenter in the haven of your majeste's mercie hathe stopped me from that resolucion I had to prostrate my self at your majeste's royall feete and imbrace your majeste's knees as the alters and mercy seate of my peace. But nowe I see my errour that hathe leaned to the intercession of powerles saintes and suffered the frutefull tyme unfrutefully to my farther ruyne slyde away, which as your majestie reportes is nowe irrecoverable. Therefore, Sir, having regard of your majeste's pleasure and will more then to my awne welfare, I am resolved to suffer constantly all perill and hasardes, and hereafter to endure all sic incommodities as dispitefull fortune may present afore my end to make me dailie more miserable; yet in my greatest grefe it were some assuagement of my sorrowes to have my cause and innocency tried before my departure, or if this can not be obteyned of your majestie, to direct me where I sall go, and so to avoid by a better behaving of my self your majeste's farder displeasure. And with this I am humbly to crave of your majestie not so muche the abolishing of the sentence of my forfaltage furder nor sooner then it shalbe thought good and agreable to your majestie's gude will and pleasure, for if I have deserved it by this vild supposed cryme I crave not that any grace should be extended towardes me or to suche an unnaturall parricide, but this onelie, that your majeste's ire and undeserved wrathe may be quinshed and take end in my misery, and not extended on my comfortles wife nor exercercised [sic] on my sackles children. It may please therefore your majestie to oblishe them and me by this kinde of clemency, who by my passed faultes hathe given a sufficient discharge to your majeste's future mercy, to the end the warld may see a farder proofe of your accustomed grace and favour, being contented with the downethrawing of me who hes had but onely by your highenes both life and lyving, and who nowe threw the great offenses committed against my God lies justly spoiled of your graciouse countenaunce, and whose langer life shalbe but a witness both of your majeste's clemency and my ensueing misfortune." Francis Stewart.

pp. Copy. Indorsed by Burghley: "The second letter 10 September."

609. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [Sept. 17.]

The Earl of Atholl, according to the charge given him, came speedily to the King at Falkland, and confessed that he had spoken with Bothwell by accident upon his sudden access to him which he could not avoid. He promises that if Bothwell remain within his bounds, or he may be his master to take him, he will apprehend and bring him to the King to dispose of him at his pleasure. Nevertheless the King has committed Atholl and the Laird of Gartly his chief counsellor to ward in Glasgow, where he shall not remain many days without liberty and order to do service for the King's contentment. Bothwell has left Atholl, fearing to be surprised there, for the King's "rode" intended was sufficiently made known to him. Nevertheless the King has ridden to St. Johnston with small number, intending to return within five days to Falkland, thence to Dunfernline, and to come to Holyrood before Michaelmas or thereabouts; when the Council will convene to take order for the Parliament and other causes.

Buccleuch embarked on Tuesday last at Leith with William Fowler and one lacquey only. He seemed purposed to touch at Yarmouth and to come to the court of England, hoping to be shortly called home with the King's favour.

Blood is drawn daily in the north between Huntly's friends and the followers of Atholl, Murray, and Grant; which matters are to be ordered at the next meeting of the Council, when the new feuds of Argyle and Athol against Ogilvie are also to be ordered. The Laird of Spott, an old honest gentleman, was the other day foully murdered by some of the Humes of his own name, accompanied with the Craws; whereat the King is highly offended.

His [Bowes'] servant Christopher Sheperson is with him, and ready to return and take order in all causes with his lordship. Edinburgh. Signed: Robert Bowes.

Postscript—The Earl of Angus has subscribed this day to the articles of religion.

1 p. Addressed. Indorsed.

610. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [Sept. 23.]

The King has continued at St. Johnston's longer than he intended, and done little but place some ministers in the churches by advice of the ministry there, and seek to appease the quarrels between Huntly and the Lairds of Grant and Mackintosh. Lately the Laird of Lochaber and the clans of Cameron appertaining to Huntly have killed forty-one of Mackintosh's men, and twenty-four tenants of Grant's: they have hurt the Laird of Ballindalloch, "who escaped by takinge a stone house for his saftye," and they took a great prey of cattle and sheep to Strathbogie, the house of Huntly, now lieutenant in the north, where they sold this booty "very good cheipe." In revenge, the Lairds of Grant and Mackintosh, with the assistance of Atholl, Murray, and others, are gathering to invade the bounds of Huntly. Some action is expected about Strathbogie, notwithstanding Huntly's lieutenancy and his forces. More blood will be drawn unless the King prevent it.

By means of the Earl of Crawford and Lord Ogilvie the King has caused two of the clan of Gregor to be taken and executed in St. Johnston's, for slaughter of some of Ogilvie's men. These Gregors belonged to the Earl of Argyle, who has appointed to be at Edinburgh the 3rd of October to prosecute Ogilvie for slaughter of the Campbell's mentioned in his [Bowes'] former letter. Argyle, Atholl, and their friends are greatly grieved that these two were so hastily executed, without trial before the King and Council; and they prepare to come hither with very great forces: some of the Council are to be sent to the King to persuade him speedily to prohibit such forcible assemblies.

The King has returned to Falkland, purposing to come to Holyrood on the third of October to meet the Council and deliberate on matters of the Parliament and state. He was advised before his coming to St. Johnston's that Bothwell had come over the Forth towards Fast Castle; and has been informed that soon after the King's journey to St. Johnston's he visited some of his friends in the Canongate. Atholl, committed to ward at Glasgow, is at liberty in regard of his wife's sickness. The Earl of Angus has subscribed to the article of justification by faith and the approbation of the church in Scotland; whereupon he shall be received into the church and to the King's favour.

William Walker, late comptroller of the customs in Berwick, died the other night in Edinburgh. He did her majesty good service in affairs with Scotland, as Mr. Wotten, himself [Bowes], and others can testify. His son, now with him [Bowes], is well acquainted with that office, and is ready to bring up his poor brothers and sisters if he may obtain it. He [Bowes] and others will give bond for him; his mother and many young children shall be comforted by his lordship's compassion; the said John Walker will faithfully serve in that office. Edinburgh. Signed: Robert Bowes.

12/3 pp. Addressed. Indorsed.

611. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [Sept. 24.]

Sends his servant, Christopher Sheperson, according to direction, to attend upon his lordship, and declared his readiness to satisfy her majesty for the repayment of the 3,000 l., and the residue due to the garrison at Berwick; and to urge the necessity of his own return to England for settlement of accounts, which shall no less profit her majesty than his service in Scotland can do, seeing the state is now in quietness and his own cause so wretched. Entreats his lordship to favour his suit and give access and credit to Sheperson. Edinburgh. Signed: Robert Bowes.

2/3 p. Addressed. Indorsed.

612. Advertisements from an Englishman in Berwick. [Sept. 30.]

Forasmuch as now upon the fall of this office coming hither to Berwick but for two or three days for better conveying of my letters, so as here being out of Scotland "therfore more bolder of the King and Erle Bothwell writing now, yeat as your worshipe after redeing not mete commondlye known," but to your private friends, as I wish your showing this same to Mr. Killigrew.

First, for the King. There be of the nobility, gentlemen, boroughs and common people generally, grown to that disliking of the King for his careless guiding and government as uncredible writing. These open exclamations of the King general amongst all sorts of his subjects, and daily such murders and havoc amongst his subjects who should be preserved under his protection, and a muttering amongst them for that the King doth nothing to it; in times past both in England and Scotland kings have been deposed for far less occasions than now are given them. As also their great disliking of their Queen, for that she proves not with child, so that in the Parliament in November next it cannot be but that great mischief will be "ruffling" amongst them through their many feuds, as they "will not let to saeinge openlye," that so long as this King reigns over them never any luck or grace will be in Scotland. The King from Falkland is drawing towards Dunfermline, where provision is made for him and the Queen till the 10th of November, when they come to Edinburgh for the winter.

For Earl Bothwell. The last certainty known he was with his good brother the Earl of Atholl in Atholl, for the which receiving Atholl is committed and warded; "which I can not what to mak of the fashon of wardinges, unless lik unto the stik and the list, todaye captive, and next daye at libertie." Earl Bothwell will never recover himself in this King's days. I am bolder to write, being in Berwick, that the Earl, with his devilry practising among witches, either had or attempted, or however it was or secretly is kept quiet, "that Erle and Quene som unlifull maner atwixt them": so that none in Scotland dare name the Earl to the King, he is so odious to him. "How ever herafters the same proving or not, as may be, but his contraris slanders to the King; therfore unlesse to your selfe, for Mr. Killigrewe and Mr. Benefild, not thus writing unto anye."

For the Chancellor. At present at his house by Haddington; the only man with the King not in the King's power, "for the Chanceler's still standeng." But they will be sundered by a sudden cutting off of the Chancellor from the King, besides the King putting himself in great hazard in so long standing with the Chancellor, who is "evell thowght and openly spoken of" by the nobility, gentlemen, boroughs, and common people.

The Earl of Eglinton, surname Montgomery, and Earl Glencairn, surname Cunningham: between these two twenty or thirty persons slain in one day and nothing accounted of. From Argyle out of the Highlands they have been with Lord Ogilvie in Angus and have slain thirty persons, men, women and children, a young child of Lord Ogilvie's and two ministers at Brechin, "wher as I was with your worshipe in Anguishe." In the north the Earl of Murray, the Lord of Grant, a great man of the Highlands, besides Mackintosh and such-like, gathered, killing eighty or a hundred men in one day of Huntly's friends, not even sparing the beasts and cattle that they cannot carry away, but killing three or four hundred a day. Whereupon Huntly got leave from the King, "lyk young men bothe ther consenttes according," to go against them with fire and sword. Huntly treacherously sent to a principal great man to say that a certain Earl known to be his friend was hunting near his house, and would come but to his door, not alighting, and drink. The gentleman, simple, not distrusting, himself, three sons and servants came out, with bread, ale, and wine to give him entertainment: but who should it be but the Earl of Huntly, who with his company shot and slew with pistols the nobleman, three of his sons and some servants. Some say it was Lord Boyd that was slain, and with him a learned minister also slain. In revenge, the friends of those persons that were slain have sought out young children of Huntly's friends, learning abroad at schools, cruelly killing them. The Laird of Spott, a good gentleman of the March in Lothian, being in the fields looking to his shearers, suddenly sundry persons passing by like hunters shot him through the head with a pistol, so that he also is slain. "The cause of this over leng a discourse" some words the King passed which now he is sorry for but cannot help. The parties that did this were the Humes of Ayton near Berwick; and the cause was a very great command that sundry good towns and gentlemen command upon, which the King gave to Sir George Hume, "one of his new upstart mayd cowr[t]iars."

The Master of Glammis still rests warded, so that the people greatly dislike the King, the Chancellor, and our ambassador. And Earl Bothwell, what will become of him? Of these four every one is speaking. "So resteng expecting apperantlie by tyme, this ruened confussed rages havock commeng to in the eynd, or els not unlike putteng the King to a street." Our ambassador here now very quiet, not any coming to him except Mr. David Lindsay of Leith; not receiving any letters from our court or the Lord Treasurer these forty days, which is marvelled at both in Scotland and in Berwick. Three women whose husbands were slain went with their husbands' bloody shirts complaining to the King at St. Johnston's. The King answered that their husbands being fugitives he could do nothing to it. Whereupon one of the women prayed God, he that made him King, again to unmake him; and another woman said "more fite he was to be a king of tikes, dogges for hunteng, then of his people, being so carles of them, being under his protection." The King growing angry, Mr. Patrick Galloway, the King's minister, a notable man, said to him that the poor women having their husbands slain were so desperate as not to fear what they said, even if the King would burn them, charging the King with his only default, "dowing notheng to it"; as truly in my opinion. Albeit he has goodwill to remove these disorders, he dislikes making himself a party to suppress them.

A discourse of the lamentable confused state ruling now in Scotland, "which for that I am owte of Scotland and now in Barwik the bolder my more writing," being sorry time serves me not to write over again more plainly, referring to your worship, Mr. Killigrew, Mr. Benefild, and Mr. Aulgor; sending this by Captain Selby. Berwick. Unsigned.

pp. Indorsed.

Copy of the same.

Cott. Calig., D. II., fol. 56.