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: April 1592
675. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [April 4.]
By sundry letters of date something old, and received this day from diverse in Scotland, I am advertised that Murray's friends, hoping that due punishment should have been inflicted before this time on Huntly and his accomplices for the slaughter of Murray, now find the credit and means of Huntly's friends in the King's chamber to be so great and prevailing that they begin to despair of getting redress for this outrage by the King or order of law, and that thereby the parties for Murray remain malcontent, seeking to band themselves together to take violent revenge against Huntly and the others, and that the people's murmur and rage daily increases, drawing many into factions and devices to compass their desires, whereby great and hasty troubles are feared to arise in that realm, and the same are seen and considered by the King, the Council and well affected, for the prevention whereof the Earl of Mar, the Treasurer, Lord Privy Seal, Comptroller, Collector, and others assembled lately at Linlithgow joined with the Chancellor to move the King to hold a convention at Edinburgh on the 20th to reform the government and punish offenders. The King consented, but it is doubted that the King's Chamber shall "mightelye work to stopp the course of the reformacioun intended."
The King has sent for all the Stewarts and promised to give them contentment by way of justice, whereby matters are pacified for the present, and thereon the King was pleased by good advice to return to Edinburgh with purpose to continue there. But sundry alarums have been given "a late" both to move the King to think that Bothwell intended some sudden enterprise against the King, and also thereby to draw the King to places fit for the resort of Huntly's friends. This purpose has been espied, and thereon the King is advised and ready, with the Queen, on the next day after the address of these letters to me, to repair to and remain at Dalkeith; yet some think that the chamber and the present "conceiptes" that something shall be attempted against the King, and the Chancellor shall stay this "remove."
It is written that the Chancellor has joined himself with the officers of estate, and that they all run in one course against Huntly. Nevertheless they are not void of fear that the Chancellor shall greatly trouble their "trodde" and hazard to deliver Huntly from all harm.
The King hearing that all such of his rebels as had entered into England were driven out of this realm by her majesty's order was greatly pleased therewith. Since the same the King has been informed that these persons thus fled out of this realm and entered into Scotland had "put themselves together" with jacks and spears for the attempt of some enterprise, and that Bothwell was lately seen betwixt Edinburgh and Leith. Whereupon the King's house and the Chancellor's lodging have been guarded the more strongly, and by proclamation published all men are commanded upon pain of death to be in readiness with armour and weapon to attend on the King, when he shall direct, for the apprehension of Bothwell, who still haunts those parts, as he is wont to do.
The King has secretly been informed that Argyle, Athol, Ochiltree, and the other friends of Murray met together at Dunkeld to devise and make the bond for the enterprise of the attempt for the revenge against Huntly, and it has been given out that Bothwell was present at their meeting, which is plainly denied. Yet the King, occupied with some jealousy therein, asked Ochiltree what band he had entered into with Bothwell. Ochiltree answered that he would band with any to be revenged on Huntly; but therewith he offered to fight with any that would charge him to have dealt with Bothwell, and promised that if the King would do justice on Huntly, then he would never treat nor band with Bothwell, but with his whole power seek to bring Bothwell quick or dead to the King.
It is herewith certified that the Lord Hamilton by his letters showed to the King that Morton, Mar, and others intended to surprise the Chancellor in the night on the 28th or 29th of March last past, and advised the King to give regard to the same; and also that Huntly likewise—and before the address of the Lord Hamilton's letter to the King—had given like information to the King. Besides, the King was informed that on the 28th of March mentioned Bothwell was seen in Leith. By these reports the King's house at Holyrood House and the Chancellor's lodging were so strongly guarded, as before is signified, that the parties accused have heard how they are charged by the Lord Hamilton and Huntly, and thereon so earnestly call for their trial that the Council is much encumbered therwith, and it is verily thought that out of these broils, daily growing and increasing from evil to worse, dangerous blasts shall disquiet the King and that state without "indelate" remedy.
After the writing and closing up of the advertisements before specified it is given me to understand that, upon the receipt of my letters severally directed to the Lord Secretary—to whom I write to answer his letters before sent to me—Roger Aston, and George Nicholson, and touching a resort of some Spanish ships prepared for the north seas and coasts of Scotland to rob and spoil the English fishermen, Roger Aston has therein —by the favour of the King and Chancellor—obtained order given to the Lord Secretary to cause "indelate" proclamation to be made in all the north parts as well for the restraint of all Spaniards and strangers to be suffered to touch land in Scotland as also for the apprehension of any such pirates or men of war as should attempt the hurt of any English fishermen or others in those seas and to aid and assist the Englishmen against such Spaniards, pirates, or rovers; and letters are addressed to the Earl of Orkney to like effect. All which Mr. Aston will with diligence travail to put in due execution, as by his letters shortly to be sent to me he will further advertise me of his doings and success in the same.
Because I perceive that my return into Scotland is sought for, wherein, and in all other ways, I am, and during my life shall be always, ready to serve as shall please her majesty to command me, and finding my estate and case so weak [and] ruinous that thereby I have just cause not only to doubt of my ability to do the honour and profit in the service as appertains, but also I think it my duty to give seasonable notice of my want and insufficiency herein, therefore I thought good to renew the memory of my disability to your knowledge and remembrance and refer the employment of me to the good consideration and sight how I may anywise honour, please, or profit her majesty in this service, wherein, without regard of pain, peril, or profit to myself, I shall ever and al[ways] obey her majesty's will and commandment.
Lastly, according to my last before these I have put . . . (fn. 1) in readines to come to and await upon your lordship to perfect the ass[urance] for the yearly payment of 1000 l. for my debt to her majesty. Herein he is driven to attend and "tarye" the end of the next sessions at Durham, trusting that he shall be with your lordship within one or two days after the beginning of the next term, agreeable to my letter remembered. York. Signed: Robert Bowes.
2¾ pp. Addressed. Indorsed by Burghley's clerk.
676. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [April 11.]
Has sent his son, Ralph Bowes, to perfect the assurance made for payment of 1000 l. yearly for his debt to the Queen of England. Aske. Signed: Robert Bowes.
⅓ p. Addressed. Indorsed by Burghley's clerk.
677. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [April 14.]
That your lordship may understand both the success of Roger Aston's travail employed for the prevention of the hurts doubted to come to the fishermen on the north-east coasts of Scotland by the Spaniards and also the present "occurrantes" in that realm, I have therefore sent enclosed to your lordship Mr. Aston's letter touching the same, together with the copies of the King's letter to the Earl of Orkney, and of his charge given to the inhabitants of those parts for the execution of the order taken by the King and Council for the safety of the fishermen mentioned; and by the report of George Nicholson, my servant—come to me from Scotland by especial occasions, redressable chiefly by your lordship's seasonable means—I perceive that provision and care shall be taken to deliver these fishermen from danger, and to apprehend the Spaniard adventuring into those seas, wherein large promises are made that nothing shall be omitted to advance the best effects; yet still I fear that their power shall not sufficiently answer their desires and promises in case of necessity.
By the view of Mr. Aston's letter it will appear to your lordship that, albeit the Earl Bothwell lately embarkedat "Burthye," yet he has arrived again at Caithness, looking there for the Spaniards, in which hope he is not like, as I am informed, to be satisfied with such expedition and comfort as he—and chiefly the Catholics—expected. Yet the King, thinking her majesty disposed to send some ships in these behalfs to these coasts of Scotland, wishes that order may be given to the captains of her majesty's ships to stay and search the vessels passing from the coasts of Caithness towards Flanders or Spain, like as by Mr. Aston's letter is sufficiently touched.
The Earls of Argyll, Athol, Errol, Marishal, Morton, Mar, and sundry other noblemen and friends of Murray have appointed, as it is certified to me, to meet at Edinburgh on Saturday the 15th hereof to seek justice to be done for the slaughter of Murray, or otherwise to provide for timely revenge; and although many of these noblemen have been moved to show their favour towards Huntly, and that proof is made to sound their dispositions therein to the intent that the next Convention may be either holden or else adjourned as the affections of those noblemen shall be seen inclined to spare or to prosecute Huntly at this assembly, yet many, and the wisest amongst them, entertain the motion and matter with good terms, pretending to show themselves ready to pacify these griefs with indifferency to all parties, and yet at the Convention—which they desire may meet at the time appointed—they will call for the execution of justice or resolve for the attempt of revenge. As Roger Aston has noted that some suspect the King's journey to Dundee to be taken to meet with Huntly, so others think that the same journey shall hazard to break both the meeting of those noblemen at Edinburgh on Saturday next, and also the assembly of the Convention at the time limited. But labour will be made for better success, otherwise the most make reckoning of hasty troubles, wherein the Catholics in desperate mood stir themselves with tooth and nail to draw these matters into hasty broils.
Herewith I am advertised that an English priest, named Hollande, presently in Scotland, has received letters lately from divers Catholics of good quality in England letting him know that their great and wished exploit in England has so far failed that they deeply fear that the King of Spain shall thereby be "discomfited" to give that aid into England and Scotland which he intended and promised. They persuade this priest to set up all sails to "expeyde" the purpose in Scotland, the better to encourage and draw on the King of Spain and his ministers: and that this priest shall speedily come to them to receive such advice as shall be determined for the curing of this disease, they warn him to beware to hazard by land, but rather to come by sea to the persons and places known to them. This priest, putting himself in readiness for this journey, seems to intend his passage rather by land than by sea, and he is well furnished for the same. My intelligencer cannot hitherto learn the names of the Englishmen who wrote to him, nor the place of their meeting, neither yet when or what way he will certainly pass. In these I am promised the best intelligences that can be gotten for me. But my servant Nicholson, wanting money to entertain intelligencers, as before I have written to your lordship, and to employ fit instruments in these behalfs, is driven to come to me to open his wants, and the defection of intelligencers espying his empty hands and the disability in me to supply the lack, wherein I protest before God—as before in my letters to your lordship I have done—that I have not power or credit to "carey" the charge of these causes any longer, nor to fill the bellies of myself and small family. So that I do most humbly pray, for God's sake, that this and my estate may be seasonably considered for the safety and benefit of her majesty's service.
The key of my chest at Edinburgh, where my books and notes of the pedigrees of the noblemen of Scotland remained, was taken away by my wife, so that Nicholson could not hitherto draw out the pedigree of Huntly and Murray, as I directed. But therein your lordship shall be shortly satisfied.
At the hands of Cuthbert Rayne I have received your lordship's letter and several warrants for the seventy deer to be taken in her majesty's parks in the Bishopric and to be sent to the King of Scots, wherein my power little serves to furnish the charge for the expedition thereof without supply, for which I must call in Scotland, and in the meantime I shall do my best endeavour to put all things in readiness. Barnes. Signed. Robert Bowes.
2 pp. Addressed. Indorsed by Burghley's clerk.
Enclosure with the same:—
(Roger Aston to Robert Bowes.)
Since the direction of my last, which was the last of March, I have employed my best means for the performance of your lordship's directions concerning the order to be taken for such her majesty's subjects as by their trade of fishing go first to the east ports. In order that such order might be taken as might prevent the practices intended against them, I have procured the King's letters to the Earl of Orkney with a charge to all the parts of the sea coast for the resisting of the Spaniards and assenting of her majesty's subjects, as by the letters here enclosed may appear, the copies whereof I have sent you.
The King has commanded me to write to you that you will be a means that her majesty give order that, if she employs any ships to the east parts to prevent the intent of the Spaniard, they may have regard to such ships as come from the coast of Caithness, where the Earl Bothwell is for the present, and, as we believe, attending the coming of the Spaniards. He supped at Brouty eight days since accompanied with eleven persons, and, as the King is surely informed, is landed in Caithness. Whereupon the King is this day gone to Dundee to direct out some ships to follow him by sea and to take order to pursue him by land, as also to try who has been his chief "convoye" in that country. The Master of Gray is greatly suspected to be the "convoer" of him away. It is said the King is minded to apprehend him.
It is commonly spoken that this journey of the King to Dundee is to meet with the Earl of Huntly, but I believe it not, for he has promised otherwise, and to that end has taken Mr. Patrick Galloway with him. "Al thinges rest here uppon the conclusion of the convension." It is determined by all the best sort to set down a good and "solett" course for the maintenance of the religion, the amity, and the King's preservation and standing, "orelles to leve al and retere theme selves." For this cause they would have you here to journey with them. The Chancellor remains at Lethington, his own house. He is not minded to come to Court before the Convention; at which time he will either have such a course fallen forth as may content the best sort, or else he will leave Court and all. The whole country is divided; the best sort [are] discontented. The King is drawn by persuasion of the enemies, and I look for "no other butt a meschef to folle if some good coures be nott taken att this convension." You are wished for here by all the good men of this country, and your presence is very necessary, for you "maye doo grett." "Ether I am deseved or you wil se strang aventes to follo here er it be long if it be nott the wislyar prevented." Edinburgh. 11th April. Signed: Roger Aston.
Postscript.—"The Chansler and the Master of Glames I hope are more finally agred, wich wil doo mouch good. The yerle of Mar is the doer."
2 pp. Holograph, also address. Indorsed by Robert Bowes.
678. Roger Aston to Sir Thomas Heneage, Vice-Chamberlain of Her Majesty's House. [April 18.]
Since my last I have expected the assembly of the nobility the 20th of this instant, according to the resolution taken at Linlithgow; by which assembly there should have been found good course set down for the reforming of the abuses both in Court and country. For the better performances of this there should have been chosen out certain of the nobility to have joined with the officers of estate and some barons and gentlemen best affected in religion, to whose counsel the King should have been subject. But the enemies of the chamber—I mean the Laird of Spyne and Sir George Hume, who are the chief ringleaders, fearing that if this Convention should hold their greatness would decay—have found the means to draw the King over the water to seek the Earl Bothwell and such as have received him; whereupon the Master of Gray was charged to compear before the King, "whoo has desobeid and is gone to the horne." The King is gone to St. Johnstone and has sent for the Earl of Athol, but, as I understand, he will not come in, "nott for anything can be led to his charg conserning Bodwel, butt fering his enemyes in Courtt, chefly the enenymeswhooareal for Honttle" There is another thing which is more to be feared. The servants of Huntly have taken the Castle of Dunottar pertaining to the Earl Marishal. This castle is very strong and well provided of all things. The Earl himself came to Edinburgh and left his wife in the house. Those who came to the house were Captain Ker and his brother, with three others. They were the countess' kinsmen and such as she greatly trusted. But Huntly's men "and [sic] betred the lady be the taking of thatt houes doth apeir a pleine platt for the overthrowe of al good courses be this." They stayed the Convention, and now, by all appearances, are running "a pleine coures" with Huntly and his faction. "For the yerle Marshal he was obedyentt to the laye, writen for be the King to the Convension under frensip with Hunttle; and the nextt daye after his departing frome home his houes, his evidenes, his goveles, and platt al taken makes al men to thinke this is nott done withoutt a forther ententt." What will come of these matters, God knows, but there is great appearance of present trouble, and I fear, if matters be not prevented in time, there will be a desperate course run. What may be looked for if the King be guided by those who love not the amity or religion, I leave this to her majesty's good consideration. In my opinion it were meeted Mr. Bowes were here to see if he may prevent the inconveniences which are like to fall forth. I can say no further for the present. As occasions fall forth your honour shall be advertised. I am presently with the Queen at Dalkeith, where I purpose to remain till I see how matters fall out. As I was closing this, word has come that all men should go with the King to pursue Athol. Dalkeith. Signed: Roger Aston.
Postscript.—I fear the house that Huntly's men have taken is rather to receive the Spaniards than otherwise, for it lies upon the seaside and has a fair haven hard by it.
2¼ pp. Holograph, also address. Indorsed.
679. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [April 20.]
Is certified that the King, coming to Dundee, was credibly informed that the Master of Gray had received the Earl of Bothwell into the Castle of Borthye [Broughty] and safely conveyed him to the sea, for Bothwell lodged one night in Broughty by the command of the Master of Gray. The next morning Bothwell embarked and landed at Peterhead, where he took in fresh victuals and went on board a barque called the Black Lion, of St. Andrews, with the purpose of sailing to Caithness; but it is thought by some that he intended a greater enterprise. The King has sent two ships to pursue him.
At Dundee the King sent for the Master of Gray, who absented himself, alleging that he saw his enemies—chiefly the Lindsays—so great in Court that he could not with safety go there.
The Master of Gray's servant, keeper of Broughty Castle under his master, was arraigned for treason for receiving Bothwell into that castle, but the assize would not find him guilty. The Lord Gray is commanded to ward in Stirling Castle, and also to bring his son, Robert Gray, and one Browne, his servant, who are charged with practising many things with Bothwell.
The King, at Dundee, sent Mr. Patrick Galloway, preacher of God's Word at St. Johnstone, to the Earl of Athol, appointing him by the King's letter and persuasion of Mr. Patrick to meet the King at St. Johnstone on the 13th instant; but Mr. Patrick returned with the earl's answer that he would in all things obey the King and praying to have fifteen days liberty. The King denied to grant the earl's request, and addressed William Stewart, of his chamber, and the minister of Dunkeld, to warn Athol to come to the King without delay, otherwise the King would come against him with his forces. The Master of Gray is thought to have stayed Athol's repair to the King, and thereon proclamation is made in St. Johnstone commanding all men to put themselves in readiness and serve the King against Athol.
Many good and wise men look for great and hasty troubles, and not without peril to the King, who, with many, is deemed to prefer the safety of Huntly before the requests of the Stewarts seeking justice for Murray's slaughter. The King's journey to the northern parts is now firmly thought to be taken chiefly for Huntly's benefit; whereupon Murray's friends and the people are greatly stirred, and some write that they look for strange effects to be attempted shortly. The King's chamber is greatly blamed as chief instrument to overthrow the plot for the planting of a good and well affected Council to have been established by the Convention to begin this day at Edinburgh.
On the 14th instant Captain Carr, his brother, and three servants went to Dunottar Castle, where they were entertained by the countess, but the next day the captain found means to get himself such a party in the house that now he holds the same. It is generally conceived that this act is enterprised with Huntly's assent.
The Queen continues at Dalkeith, condemning greatly the present course. The Chancellor abides at Lethington. seeming ready to take part with the lords calling for the punishment of Huntly and other murderers of Murray. Is warned of very great inconveniences hastily to fall out in Scotland. Barnes. Signed: Robert Bowes.
2 pp. Addressed. Indorsed by Burghley's clerk.
680. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [April 22.]
Perceives by Roger Aston's letter brought to him this day that the Convention appointed to have assembled at Edinburgh on the 20th instant is dissolved by the King's absence, who, nevertheless, is "looked" to be at Edinburgh very shortly, and thereupon to call a new Convention.
By the advice of the Earl of Mar and the Laird of Tullibardine the Earl of Athol was persuaded to present himself to the King at St. Johnstone on the 18th instant. The Earl of Athol was commanded to ward in Stirling Castle, agreeable to his own desire, in the custody of the Earl of Mar. The King appears to pursue the Master of Gray, at Dunkeld, and such others as are known to have given entertainment to Bothwell. The Earl Marishal's house at Dunottar was taken only by the means of the countess, sister of the Lord Hume, and not by any practice of Huntly or for the Spaniards, as sundry suspected. The countess, being offended with divers of her husband's servants, sent for Captain Carr and his brother, and by them the servants were put out by the commandment of the countess. Whereupon the gentlemen of the country environed the house, doubting that it had been surprised by the means of Huntly or Lord Hume. Hume is said to be with the Duke of Parma. It is considered that if the Spaniards might purchase the house they should readily command all that country; but this danger is little feared. The Earl assures himself to have it delivered to him upon the first call for the same. The Chancellor has entered into a friendly course with Morton and Mar. The agreement betwixt the Chanceller and the Master of Glamis is to be perfectly knit up and confirmed, but the Lindsays seek earnestly to hinder the agreement. The Queen continues a hard opinion towards the Chancellor. The Queen greatly condemns Huntly and his actions.
Sir James Hume, late Captain of Edinburgh Castle, died on the 14th instant. Sundry noblemen are earnest suitors to the King for the place, chiefly the Duke of Lennox, the Chancellor, the Earls of Crawford, and Mar. It is thought that Crawford shall obtain it, notwithstanding that the Captain by his testament made request that it might be given to Mar. Upon former suit made to the King by Mar for that office, the King then promised, as Bowes is informed, that he should have it. Roger Aston has wished him (Bowes) to write to him—which he has done—to the intent he may show his letter to the King, who haply may be persuaded thereby to prefer Mar or such well affected person to this charge.
At his (Bowes') departure from Scotland, and during the life of the Laird of Calder, one of the tutors of the Earl of Argyll, all the defenders and followers of Argyll. M'Connell, and others in Argyll, Kintyre, and the west isles of Scotland, were restrained from invading or hurting her majesty's subjects in Ireland, but now it is advertised that sundry of Argyll and of the islands adjoining are ready to pass into Ireland to assist her majesty's rebels there. For the restraint of the passage of these disordered people has written a letter to Mr. Aston that he may show to the King. Barnes. Signed: Robert Bowes.
2¼ pp. Addressed. Indorsed by Burghley's clerk.
681. Robert Bowes to Burghley. [April 28.]
Commenced his journey this day to her majesty's parks at Barnard Castle, Raby, and Brancepeth to assist Cuthbert Rayne and others in taking seventy deer for the King of Scots. Has this day received Burghley's letter of the 24th instant charging him to repair into Scotland to the King. Has retired to this place to put himself in readiness for the execution thereof. That at his access to the King he may give him notice of the causes moving her majesty thus to command his return to him, and that he may be sufficiently instructed, requests Burghley to send him her majesty's "determinate mynde" in things to be executed for her service. Thanks Burghley for the greatness of his favour. Refers to his debt to the Queen of England. Has lately received 400 l. by her majesty's bounty for her services in Scotland, by which he has defrayed some of his debts in Scotland. Cannot discharge his remaining debts. Begs that he may be relieved with some imprest. Barnes. Signed: Robert Bowes.
1¾ pp. Addressed. Indorsed by Burghley's clerk.