Calendar of State Papers, Scotland: Volume 11, 1593-1595. Originally published by Edinburgh, 1936.
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James VI, January 1595
438. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 3.]
Lest the purpose of displacing some officers of estate should "occupie" you to think what may "become" thereon, I certify you that it is said that at Stirling the King nor any there have dealt in any such matter; yet some would persuade me that B (the King) and 21 (Mar) have agreed that 4 (the King) shall "do that turne of him self" at his own proper time. Yet 51 (the Chancellor) looks that the King shall see them preserved in their places. They are backing themselves very strongly "by frendship of all that they can make," for they look to be "put at" as soon as Mar's party can get their advantage. 26 (Lord Hume) has become a daily attender on the Chancellor, some suspect for one cause, some for another, so that now the Chancellor is over-strong in the south for Mar.
The young Prince's nurse has become dry through sickness, and he was sick, but now is well again. The King coming, the nurse prayed pardon, I hear, and the young Prince cried for want of her. This being made known to the King he has forgiven the nurse, and Henry Murray's wife, of Stirling, now gives suck to the young Prince, who will not receive her dug unless it be in the dark or given him by his old nurse. The old nurse being of the old Countess of Mar's choice some without reason seek to impute this fault to Mar.
On Thursday last the King came from Stirling to Linlithgow. From thence he rode yesterday to Biggar, whither provisions are sent for his stay there and thereabouts at his pastime of hawking. He is to return hither about Thursday next. Some say that 8 (Angus) and 15 (Bothwell) have returned out of the north and may have some plot for the King's surprise, but I do not believe it. The rebels in the north make no stirs yet, nor have they showed themselves against the Duke, who has now returned to Aberdeen and [is] to be here very shortly to seek for pay for his own entertainment and the waged men with him, for it seems he cannot make provision for him and them by sale of the rebels' lands, goods and gear, as was devised. Thus by the Duke's return the Earls are likely to make new stirs there. Argyll is very earnest to go once again against them if he can furnish himself fit for the purpose; otherwise he means to leave the country. In this F. (Mr. Bruce) has both pricked him forward against those Papist Earls and also seeks to stay his departure for the benefit of the good cause, yet by the advertisement of an especial friend of "72," and "nearest unto 6" you may perceive how things stand anent Argyll. I refer you to the party's letter, which I enclose, praying you to return it to me again, with speed. [Not now enclosed.]
Concerning the matter of Ireland I cannot yet say more than in my last. Nevertheless 67 (Mr. John Colville) has stayed behind the King to attend the doing of good therein. "Allwaies" the contentment of the King and the pleasuring of "20" would not a little further that matter to A's (Mar's) satisfaction. As I was not well at the King's going to Stirling I did not go thither to solicit that matter. I understand that little has been done therein, but shall learn at the return of Mr. John Colville and Roger Aston. I wish either that you were here to look to the depths and danger of the matters brewing here or that I were discharged, that no fault might be imputed to me for not advertising thereof, which I cannot do as I would, for they begin here to have close dealings and workings, "which argues great causes." Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.
Postscript.—A Convention is appointed on the 27th instant for "ordering" the highlanders, now broken and committing barbarous and foul faults against the lowlands. This is a great advantage to Huntly, who it was thought was a bar against the highlanders, and this now proving true causes the people for their defence to wish him in his own place again. These highlanders appertain to Argyll and Mar, as I hear.
1¾ pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Bowes. Names partly in cipher, some deciphered.
439. News from Scotland. [Jan. 4.]
The old Englishman whom I wrote of before has neither come back nor sent word hither as he promised, therefore I "collect" that he is a "spirituall man and na phisicion." The "pretence" that Mar had is "altogither now quyet." The Ch[ancellor] on the other part fortifies himself with new friends of the Border, for Herris has granted a supersedere for five years to Johnstone that neither he [Herries], his friends nor Maxwell's posterity shall pursue him by word or deed during that space, and this was done at Court for the greater security, and Johnstone thereafter was relaxed from the horn and received to the King's peace "in oppin Counsall" by the Chancellor. So has he friendship from Dumfries to Berwick, for you know that Hume is his "awin, obleist man."
In the north the Duke has done "na worthie persute," but is now at last tired and coming back with diligence. I cannot hear that "ather is the King myndit that way or to chuse another." The only constancy is in Argyll, and that upon his own charges, for he is now taxing all his lands for money, but it will be spring-time before he can be ready, and in the meantime the other party play "bukhude" as they list, and I am informed they are to perform some exploit at the Duke's return.
The King is now busy hawking up and down all the country and rides very loose, with "few cumpaneis." Angus and Bothwell "kepis great cumpany togither" in their quarters, whereby it will be the easier for them "to hald him in grippis" if they aim that way, as is surmised. Briefly, there is such fear on both sides—I mean betwixt Mar and the Chancellor—that each is working secretly against the other. The Chancellor has caused Lord Hume twice to demand the keeping of Edinburgh Castle, alleging that it is superfluous for him [Mar] to have the keeping of two houses, and that it is sufficient for him to have the attendance on the Prince, which is a great charge. The Chancellor says to the King that Mar does not give good enough attendance upon his office, for when he is absent the Castle of Stirling and the Prince might be seized, and therefore he should be compelled to attend there. There was never greater need than now that your Prince should have somebody here. Edinburgh.
1 p. Signed with a trefoil (symbol of Dr. Macartney). Endorsed by Robert Bowes.
440. News from Scotland. [Jan. 5.]
On 2nd January the King returned from Stirling to Linlithgow and on the next day to Biggar, purposing about the 11th or 12th to come to Holyroodhouse. He would have nothing done at Stirling in the causes betwixt the Chancellor and Mar lest thereby all should be imputed to Mar. He has referred all matters to his coming to Holyroodhouse, promising Mar that then they shall be ended, and Mar is determined either to prevail before the next Convention, on the 27th, or else to give it over. But most think the matter to be already so "dashed" that it shall proceed little farther, especially against the Chancellor. The King deeply apprehends his own miseries, and that mischief will not be delayed longer than his return to Holyroodhouse, and that the longer delay shall make the events more dangerous.
The Prince has been sick at Stirling and has recovered. His nurse's milk has failed by sickness, and another is provided for him [recapitulating No. 438]. It has been given out that Angus and Bothwell have returned to the south parts, seeking the surprise of the King in Tweeddale at his pastimes. But this is not credited in regard that it is certified confidently that Bothwell remains in Caithness with Huntly or Errol. The highlanders under Argyll and Mar have made barbarous spoils in the countries adjoining, so that the people thereof wish that Huntly were again amongst them [as in No. 438]. The Duke has come back to Aberdeen, intending to return to the King [as in No. 438]. It is looked that the forces in the north shall be broken, and that soon after the rebels, awaiting their time and advantage, shall take the town of Aberdeen. Some think that the King has sent for the Duke, and thereby the danger is feared to be the greater. Lord John Hamilton has removed Sir John Hamilton, his base son, from the keeping of Dumbarton Castle and placed therein one Hamilton of Cochnoch. Lord Hume wholly follows the Chancellor, so that in the south parts the Chancellor is over strong for Mar. At his procurement Hume has twice sought the keeping of the Castle of Edinburgh of the King, alleging that it is superfluous for Mar to have the custody of two houses [as in No. 439].
Lord Herries, by the Chancellor's means, has given a respite to Johnstone for five years [etc. as in No. 439]. An old Englishman, giving himself out to be a physician, has entered into Scotland, haunting the company of Papists and having intelligences with them. He has found the wind foul and thereon gave the slip, against his promise, and escaped some snares laid for him. He appears to be an ecclesiastical person and busy in bad matters. Argyll and his friends have met together and are in general terms agreed, but without hearty love and affection. Argyll is taxing his tenants and followers to furnish him either again to invade Huntly "in revenge of the late ruffle," or else to depart out of the realm and remain some time in foreign parts; wherein presently he is greatly affected, and so resolute that he cannot be dissuaded by his wise friends and by some of the ministry, unless he may find fellowship and support to enable him to go again against Huntly, which above all things he most desires.
Mr. John Colville undertakes so to work that either no islanders and highlandmen shall pass over into Ireland, or else that timely advertisement shall be given so that seasonable provision may be made. A baron will in person go into the Isles and deal with Donald Gorme and MacConnell and the principals there, and inform Mr. John of all doings and success. This party assures him that neither the King nor Argyll can nor intend to do any good offices in these matters [etc. as in the following]. The answer to Sir George Hume's letter is still expected and wished for.
2⅓ pp. Endorsed by Cecil's clerk: "5 Jan. 1594. Advertisementis from Edinburghe."
441. [Mr. John Colville to Robert Bowes.] [Jan. 5.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 134–136;.
On the night of the 2nd instant his Majesty rode to Linlithgow and from thence to hawking about Biggar, and in Tweeddale. He returns about the 11th or 12th to Edinburgh. He would have nothing done at London (Stirling) lest all should be imputed to Mar. But he will have matters ended at Vair (Edinburgh), and certainly he apprehends his misery deeply. If things do not fall out always as I advertise, let it be imputed to the ordinary uncertainty of our conclusions, and not to me; "and look for a certane mischief amang ws," the delay whereof will make the event the more dangerous. Neither can the delay be longer than his Majesty's "hiddercumming," parties are so in edge against each other. The comfort of all your friends is to see you (S.) near by to comfort such as are best worthy. But, alas ! the number is few.
Argyll and his friends have met and are agreed in general terms, "bot no hartlines." But John Colville (Y.) (fn. 1) has done so much that either none at all shall go over for your hurt, or else you shall be timely advertised of their number and embarking and descent, to provide for them as you think best, as also of their confederates within Ireland, for the party that has taken it in hand will go himself to the Isles and travail with Donald Gorme, MacConnell (M'Oneill) and the principals and furnish me intelligence. He is a baron. He assures me neither the King (Q.) nor Argyll either can or means to do you any good, for the principals are forfeited and so will not obey; and since the King thinks the fear of that matter will move you to agree to his other desires, "tak tharfor what yow can gett" of him, and I will undertake to make the matter sure. G. (Sir George Hume) marvels much that you did not write to him.
Postscript.—On these miserable complaints of the poor an assembly is instituted on the 27th instant, but ere that time it cannot fail but A. (Mar) will either prevail or succumb. Bothwell is yet in Caithness or with Huntly or Errol. But the man you know assures us he is in Caithness. Hamilton has put his son out of the Castle of Dumbarton and placed therein one Hamilton of Cochno (Cochnoche). "The mestres nuris milk faled and ane other is put in hir rowm." The Duke is to return, and then immediately the rebels will "sitt doun in Abirden." Unsigned.
22/3 pp. In Mr. John Colville's hand. Endorsed by Robert Bowes. Names partly in cipher deciphered.
442. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 8.]
I have received your letter of 28th December "doing" your hearty commendations to all your friends here, as you have directed. This great matter of "exchange" of some officers of estate is like to come to some end next week. The Chancellor, as it is said, thinks that though he himself is not now to be dealt with, yet the displacing of Glamis, the Collector and others will be an entrance and a way for the doing of the like soon after to himself and the Secretary, and therefore he has his friends ready to be here about the end of this week for preventing of any of their displacings. Yet I am made to believe that the King (B.) will do this turn of himself, not against the Chancellor, but against the Master of Glamis, who is to be here this night "verie stronge." Atholl is also to be here with 400 men, but the King, I hear, has either stayed his coming or enjoined him to come with few numbers. Lord Ogilvy is also to be here very strong, and Buccleuch (69) comes in good strength; all for the Chancellor's party. On the other side sundry noblemen are to be here very strong also, as Argyll, Montrose, Glencairn, etc.; so that the meeting is, I hear, to be as great as was here these seven years.
Crawford and the Laird of Spynie are here, between whom and the Master of Glamis some think such stirs may arise that the other matter may be "oversene" except towards Glamis. Some conjecture that some of these noblemen may make motions for the rebels (Crewe) upon grounds for quietness of Scotland (Ter) and the ease of the King's charge, seeing her Majesty does not support him therein. But I dare not say whether it will or will not be. "Allwaies" the time is dangerous.
The Duke is to return, staying only to leave the country [in such state] as the King shall appoint; and if new stirs arise there, some say the want of aid of her Majesty will here be made the cause, and the King excused because he has done his power. Lord Lovat is here, and the Duke is to send hither, I hear, all such as are suspected to favour the Papist Earls, lest they should receive them, but it is thought their friends will do it more freely. There is some great secret in this matter, as it seems. Mr. John Colville (67) is very forward, without regard of persons, to learn and discover it for her Majesty's benefit. I hear that Lord Hamilton is much malcontent anent the favour showed to Johnstone, and that thereby he may be drawn to some course, but not against the Church of Scotland (Res) any way. The King is at his hawking at Biggar, not to return before Saturday if he finds as good flying as he has done. It is thought that he will see Spott ere he returns. In these matters I cannot write with certainty. Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.
1½ pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.
443. Mr. David Foulis to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 8.]
The estate here is "permanent," and notwithstanding some bruits of change of officers of estate, "yet thair is no appeirance." Evil men have moved such rumours for their own particulars, albeit their credit be small at the hands of those who, they believed, should have backed them. The King has an unalterable affection to the Chancellor, and those who preach his disgrace at his Majesty's hands, they "find thair awine lichtlye"; such is his constancy. His Majesty is yet in Tweeddale "at the halking." He will be here on Saturday.
"Ane Convention is to be" for putting of order to the Borders. Your lordship knows of Johnstone's four years' respite, and [that they] shall cause "the hail name" [i.e. clan] to deliver pledges for keeping of good order. Order is also to be taken with the Highlands and all matters to be redressed. The Duke has been in Moray and received great obedience. He has now returned to Aberdeen in very peaceable manner. Edinburgh. Signed: D. Foulis.
1 p. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.
444. News from Scotland. [Jan. .] Calendared as Vol. 55, No. 8.
I advertise you of news out of Scotland, leaving the consideration thereof to your wisdom. The King removed on Friday from Linlithgow to Biggar accompanied with Mar and not past twenty horse. He is advertised that Bothwell and Angus are in Caithness. He remained there hawking till Thursday the 9th. His progress, which should have holden to Dunglass, Spott and Biel (Beale), is altered by reason of the lords flocking in great numbers to Edinburgh. Many have come already and divers are to come, as the Earl of Crawford and his brother the Laird of Spynie, the Laird of Lochinvar (Loughinwar) and his son, Lord Borthwick, Lord Lovat, Lord Hume, Cessford, with divers others.
The King wrote for Atholl, who requested he might come in accompanied with his friends; which was granted, so that he is expected to come in very strong and with not so few as 1000 horse. The Master of Glamis is to come in very strong, being under deadly feud with Crawford, who has likewise sent for his friends. Buccleuch also is to come in very strong; and Lord Ogilvy with divers western and northern lords as yet unknown. Their plot and pretence is kept so secret that hardly can it be conjectured what the sequel will grow to. But (as is imagined) it is either to unhorse the Chancellor or agree some deadly feuds between certain noblemen.
The emulation between the Chancellor and Mar is wonderfully dissembled on both parts, the one ruling Court and Session and the other guiding King, Prince and all about Stirling. The Duke is looked for at Edinburgh ere this. He has done no exploit since his going north worth the writing. Huntly is reviving his forces and is expected to take some enterprise in hand upon the Duke's return. Argyll is to come in, and the King purposes to "agree" Atholl and him about the young Earl of Murray's matters. The highlandmen of Argyll's and Mar's country have made divers incursions of late upon the "civill" gentlemen of Angus and the Mearns, who were wont to be protected from their robberies by Huntly, which daily procures more and more favour to Huntly by the people of those parts. There is great working on all hands to "agree" Argyll and Huntly.
1½ pp. Endorsed: "Jan. 1594. Occurrents owt of Scotland."
445. News from Edinburgh. [Jan. 13.]
The King suddenly returned from Biggar to Holyroodhouse on the 8th instant, instead of on the 11th. The next day he called George Nicolson into his cabinet to understand the news in France and the return of her Majesty's late ambassador there; wherewith he partly touched the hope he had of support from her Majesty against the Papist Earls. The same day he entered into conference with the Chancellor and Mar, who both disclaimed all quarrels and hatreds, and also were drawn into good terms and "countenancis," so that that matter is passed over; and it is thought that the King shall now rather seek to reform than to remove the other officers who are charged to have greatly hindered his profit. Nevertheless the King, with that council, has chosen especial persons to find out how his estate may be better preserved and his revenues gathered and employed for his best profit. Upon their decision the success and end of this purpose intended for the alteration of these officers will fully appear.
The Master of Glamis, daily looked for to return to Edinburgh, "was not comed" hither notwithstanding that lodgings were prepared for him and his companies, and that his retainers have awaited him long. It is verily looked that if he shall now come, and Crawford and he shall meet in the street, great troubles shall arise thereby. Crawford has come to the Court to recover the King's favour towards his brother; wherein the King will be pleased that Spynie shall live as a subject, yet he will not vouchsafe to give him presence or see him. Crawford pretends to be ready wholly to obey the King. The King at his coming to Stirling found the Prince much altered by the change of his nurse, whose milk failed. She kept this secret and "hungred" the child, but now he recovers daily.
Atholl and Ogilvy had purposed to have come to Edinburgh in great strength on the 11th instant, but the King, by his charge delivered to Atholl after he had entered on his journey, enjoined them to stay their repair thither till the 17th, and to bring with them none other than ordinary servants. It is therefore doubted whether they will now come to Edinburgh at the time limited, and this doubt is increased by the apprehension of the Laird of Balwearie, appointed to have met Atholl in Edinburgh on the 11th instant. It is thought that Atholl and Ogilvy at their coming to Edinburgh intended to have done pleasure to the forfeited Earls. Atholl has thoroughly agreed with Huntly, and it is credibly informed that they met together within ten days then last past. The Master of Gray greatly guides Atholl and has "agreed" him with Ogilvy, being a great Papist. Lady Atholl (as it is further said) had 5000 crowns of the Spanish gold sent to the Earls. The cause of Atholl's course with Huntly is grounded (as it is thought) upon some jealousies betwixt Argyll and him upon his wife's receipt of the crowns, and upon Bothwell's counsel and persuasion of the Countess, who guides all. The Master of Gray sent his brother, James, to the King to excuse his part, but the King will not grant that he shall come to Edinburgh with Atholl. Ochiltree was offered 10,000 crowns to have agreed with Huntly and run their course, but he refused and thereon left the society of Atholl and Bothwell. Now he follows the King's will in all things. He has obtained remission for him and for all who were with him in his actions against the King.
The Laird of Balwearie, coming to Edinburgh to meet Atholl on the 11th instant, was apprehended by the Provost of Edinburgh and committed to the castle to be closely kept at the King's commandment. For this good service the ministers have greatly praised the Provost. Sir George Douglas and Abbotshall, seeking to speak with Balwearie, were denied. Cessford sought to know whether Balwearie's lands (wherewith round sums might be raised) would content the King. But he would not hearken thereto, saying that Balwearie had betrayed first Bothwell to him and afterwards him to Bothwell. Balwearie was examined by Blantyre and the Justice Clerk. He confesses the bond made betwixt Huntly and Bothwell and the rest of the Papist Earls, and that he himself has subscribed. But he denies that there is presently any practice against the King. He acknowledges to have received a letter from Atholl to meet him at Edinburgh, but he knows not for what other purpose. This matter is not yet clear. Nevertheless it appears that the King's person is greatly endangered and that the state is "resembled to be lyke the wethercocke"; further, that Balwearie "is lyke to pass the pykis" and the courtiers are begging his lands. Some plots were laid to move the King to show some favour to the rebellious Earls, but Balwearie's arrest will either stay the further progress thereof or else draw the matter the sooner into arms and troubles.
It is like to be found that Atholl, Ogilvy, Caithness, Sutherland and sundry others are banded with the Papist Earls against the King and Argyll. Some have been lately at Edinburgh to work for the forfeited Earls, wherein their success does not yet appear. Some ministers in Edinburgh find the King much moved in his heart that he gets no better support from her Majesty notwithstanding that he says little thereof. It is certainly affirmed that he cannot of his own power maintain the cause against the rebels, therefore they wish heartily that her Majesty would tender this cause for the benefit of the state of England, Scotland and the Church of Scotland.
The Duke returned from Elgin to Aberdeen on the 6th. He caused fourteen highland thieves to be hanged for thefts committed in the low land. He has taken order to leave the whole countries quiet and thereon to return to the Court, which will not be before ten days from now. Argyll has not yet come to Edinburgh, as he had appointed. He purposes to be at the Convention on the 27th. It was looked that this Convention should be exceeding great, but it is now uncertain what shall follow these late effects. It is thought that if Argyll and Atholl shall meet in Edinburgh stirs and troubles shall begin.
The feuds and quarrels amongst some of the nobility of the "leist ranke" and others of quality depending on the great noblemen are either compounded or suspended, so that the chief noblemen may with safety assemble all their associates and dependers. Caithness has refused the King's pardon. The Papist Earls and their accomplices despair of the King's good disposition towards them, therefore it is thought that they have some high enterprise in hand against his life or for his utter overthrow, and offer is made to prove Huntly to have devised the King's death: which offer shall be accepted and the matter tried. Bothwell continues in Caithness in a house of the Earl of Caithness, his brother. He has lately travailed with Huntly, who has now come into the country; and Angus and Errol also draw near, so that it is looked that they will show themselves again soon after the Duke's (fn. 2) departure. The council in the north have travailed with the Countess of Huntly and others to persuade Huntly to depart out of the realm and to assure him that otherwise he shall be prosecuted with all kind of rigour. The council have concluded that if full answer be not sent to them within two days, then they will proceed with rigour against all the Earls, their wives and accomplices, and put garrisons into their principal houses.
32/3 pp. In the hand of Bowes's clerk.
446. News from Scotland. [Jan. 15.]
The King, finding that his revenues and casualties have not been used and "diffrayed" for his profit, has taken order for the reformation thereof. In this it is looked that the Comptroller shall be found guilty and hardly escape punishment. It will suffice that he make amends. The King had given commission before to the Laird of Balwearie to sound Bothwell and learn whether David Murray of Balvaird (Bavarde), the King's master stabler, had any intelligence with him; which commission Balwearie pleads for his warrant for conference with Bothwell. He confesses that, accidentally, he came to the making of the band betwixt Bothwell and the Papist Earls, that he subscribed the same as a witness, and not as a party, and does not well remember the contents thereof. This he acknowledges to be a band (" as he is remembred ") of mutual friendship, both for the aid of the forfeited Earls to Bothwell for the surprise of the King and also that Bothwell thereon should have brought them into the King's favour. He was lately examined by Blantyre, the Justice Clerk, the Provost of Edinburgh and Mr. George Young to "informe" his knowledge in the band signed by him with Bothwell and that crew for the coronation of the Prince and the departure of the King. He does not confess that he has subscribed such a band; but one other he confesses, and by his former warrant from the King he excuses his dealings with these rebels. He confesses no other matters, desiring that he may speak with the King and pretending to be ready to discover to him all things in his knowledge. The King hitherto has no liking to hear him. Buccleuch and Cessford travail much in his favour in regard that Balwearie is chief to Buccleuch. But some gather thereby that the Chancellor is willing to help him.
The Duke sent the Laird of Bogie (Boggye) to inform the King of proceedings in the north until the 9th instant, as appears in the note annexed hereto. Amongst other matters, Bogie "delivered" from the Duke that Lady Huntly, in her husband's name, reports that he and his society would have departed out of the country before the last Parliament (whereby they were forfeited) if her Majesty had not sent a message to them to the contrary, "so as" they would ground upon her their disobedience and stay in the realm. But the King will not believe that her Majesty should be their "staye" (fn. 3) for the raising of trouble in his land. Bogie has returned to the Duke with direction to stay in the north for one month. There appears a great discontentment against England in all estates, alleging that promise is not kept to join with the King in this action against the Papists. The King says that he will keep the peace and do justice on the Borders, but will give no farther account of his doings, as he has done heretofore. One of the authors of these advertisements wishes to speak one hour with one or two especial persons of things which he will not write, adding further that albeit this storm (meaning the change of the officers) is past, yet one surge will follow another, and lamenting that there is nothing but a sea of sorrows.
The waged men, for want of pay, have broken from the Duke, except only 50 horsemen under Carmichael and 50 footmen under Captain Davison. The pay for these must be provided by the escheats of the rebels, and will hardly be performed thereby. Huntly has forbidden, upon pain of hanging, all under him to compound for any of their escheats; whereupon it is gathered that the rebels have again recovered heart and comfort. The Master of Glamis has not come to Edinburgh. It is noted that he observes his accustomed order to stay until the peril is past. The Secretary thinks that Atholl will come to the Convention on the 27th for the redress of the disorders of the highlanders. Argyll has already for his part put order to the Macgregors and his highlandmen, and the rest are travailing to reform all these causes so that the King and Council shall not need to deal therein. The King dislikes Atholl's courses in regard that they are grounded on the advice of Bothwell, the Master of Gray and Wardlaw (Wartlawe). Argyll continues in his hot passions against such as lately encountered him in the field, and he sought to slay one Murray, who had accompanied Huntly at that encounter, and was in Stirling. But Murray escaped.
On Argyll's return to Edinburgh the King and he shall be put in memory to send their answers to her Majesty's letters. In the meantime Mr. John Colville has employed a fit instrument upon that service. [Recapitulates his offers to send information about Scoto-Irish proceedings, as in No. 441.]
The youngest of the three brethren of the Muirs (Moores) who killed the two ministers (fn. 4) was taken and sent in by Lord Herries and executed at Edinburgh on the 14th. Colonel Stewart, lately driven back by the weather, intends to embark again for the Low Countries on the 16th; yet it is thought by some that he will pass through England.
Caithness has again sent his uncle, the Chancellor of Caithness, to let the King know that he will accept the remission which he had before refused. Now he offers to come to the King within twenty days, but it is thought that this offer shall not be performed. Upon bruit that Captain James Stewart had come into Edinburgh search was made for him, but he was not there. The King is moved to pass to the Merse and to Spott before the Convention, but it is not resolved as yet. It is thought strange that the Laird of Spott and Mr. Thomas Cranston should still find such favour in England, seeing that by their advice and means Bothwell was drawn to band with the Papist Earls. Petition to her Majesty is made by Roger Aston to comfort and relieve him in his services for her.
Lastly, the King calling sundry times for George Nicolson has still pressed to understand what help he might look for at her Majesty's hands against the Papists.
3 pp. In Sheperson's hand. Endorsed by Sir Robert Cecil's clerk: "15 Jan. 1594. Advertesementis from Edenburghe."
Enclosure with the same.
(The Duke's journey against Huntly, Errol and others.)
"The discourse of our journey till the ix day of January 1594." (fn. 5)
On 16th December we came to Elgin, where the Sheriff, with 160 horse, and the chief barons of the country met us at Spey and remained till we came back. We caused MacIntosh to besiege Ruthven (Reven) in Badenoch and had passed (fn. 6) there with our whole forces, whereof the keepers being afraid rendered upon composition, and we have put it in keeping to the Laird of Longformacus (Loughenmurrus). The Castle of Inverness also is rendered and kept by the town. We put the town of Elgin to an assize for the "receipting" of Huntly, Bothwell and other rebels. They came in, have paid the composition that was laid upon them, and have found caution under great sums never to do the like [again]. We have taken caution of all the gentlemen and barons for observing the general band [for] not resetting Jesuits, Papists and rebels, for keeping of common quietness, defending of religion and the ministry within their bounds, and for mutual concurrence to maintain the premises by force of arms wheresoever occasion shall be offered, and for apprehending of all sorts of unlawful persons; and this is done for the bounds of Moray, Ross and trans-Spey. We have given commission to the Sheriff of Moray, the Lairds of Innes, MacIntosh, Altyre (Alter), Longformacus (Loghenmurrus) and certain barons and ministers to be their assisters for apprehending and punishing of thieves and cruel beggars and such as pass in pilgrimage to "vallis " (fn. 7) and Papists. They have promised on their solemn oath to accomplish the same. MacIntosh has found special caution either to deliver the broken men within his bounds or else to punish them himself, and failing thereof to be answerable for all the evil they shall do. We have written to his Majesty that Lovat, MacKenzie and Grant should give caution and pledges for the same. We have taken the like surety of the MacFarlanes [sic], Balnagown and the rest of the clans of Ross, as also of Grant's special friends, and mind to follow the like order in all points within the sheriffdoms of Aberdeen and Banff, who are charged "to particuler dyettes" to Aberdeen, and "if he had done" (fn. 8) this I think these parts shall be as peaceable as they have been these many years.
In our Justice Courts we take no composition for crimes that deserve death, which has made many fugitives. "Alwayes" we dispose their escheats [and] charge their masters to enter them according to the general band on the first day of this year. We hanged thirteen on one gallows in Elgin and drowned one, "by" [besides] others that were executed before. We have charged Caithness, Sutherland and his mother to come to Aberdeen on the 15th of this month. We are informed that Bothwell remains in Girnigo (Girnygo). Mr. James Gordon and some other Papists [remain] sometimes with Caithness and sometimes with Lady Sutherland, whereof we mind to accuse them if they come hither. Lady Sutherland means quietly to convey her son out of the country with a Papist, and if he refuse, as he has done already, [she means] to grant him no kind of entertainment because she is "in the wholl livinge." I pray you cause his Majesty charge both him and her to Edinburgh, whereof I know he would be very glad; and if they come hither we shall do the like.
We have left Moray in a very good state and [have] contented both the ministry and the people. I pray God the like may be done here, for we have (as I am informed) above 2000 persons "given upp in dittey." We have discharged all our waged men except 50 horsemen and 50 footmen, who will be very difficult to entertain, because as yet "nether commes profitt by compositions" in respect of the poverty of "them that enters," nor have we got any profit by remissions, for we have granted none, although we suppose some shall "shortelye seike." They cause bruits to come to these parts, to hinder us much, especially that the Papist Earls by the Queen of England's request shall be restored upon very favourable conditions, and if that fails a change of Court shall cause them be received. We have written very earnestly to know if any such purpose be in hand, but have received little answer. "Herefore" I pray you let me understand the certainty hereof, for the Duke and his council mind to do what they can to break the forces of the Earls. He has plainly declared to his sister [Lady Huntly] that if her husband does not depart out of the country he will be the greatest enemy he shall have, and she shall get no part of the living unless she comes to the south. The like answer is given to Lady Errol; and he has assured them that he will prefer the cause of God which he has taken in hand, his Majesty's service and his own honour to blood, ally or whatsoever person, and we daily look for an answer that may effectuate either quietness or some extreme kind of dealing. The Duke has resolved to leave nothing undone that may further this cause, and, if gentle dealing avail not, greater rigour will be used. He is wonderfully liked by all people here: they see his honest dealing.
2 pp. Copy in the hand of Bowes's clerk.
447. James VI. to the States General of the Low Countries. [Jan 15.]
Two years ago we sent to you William Stewart, Commendator of Pittenweem, to communicate to you the practices of the Spaniards with some persons of the highest rank in our realm, so that we might all be armed in time against the confederations which they have plotted (contre les monopoles qu'ils avoyent machinés) against the liberty of our states. The peril is at this hour so nigh that it is full time to bestir ourselves to think of a remedy, since the audacious enemy is in arms and has dared openly to vow the ruin of religion and the overthrow of our states. It would be better to cry "To arms" in time, and to join hands to curb their ambition, than to let ourselves be supplanted by overmuch patience. Seeing that we have a common interest against a common danger, we send to you our said counsellor to show to you that it has been our part to repress the insolence of their felony, and to ask your best advice and assistance against the enemies of our estates; and beg you to give credit to him. Holyroodhouse.
1 p. French. Copy. Endorsed.
448. Roger Aston to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 18.]
My two letters of the 12th and 15th advertised you of the estate of matters here. Balwearie has since been twice examined. He has confessed little more than he did before. The sum is this: he grants the meeting of the Papist Earls and Bothwell at the Kirk of Kelmenny (fn. 9) [sic] in Angus, where a band was passed that every one of them should take part with the others, and no man take his appointment "by" [separate from] another, and every one should assist to possess themselves of the King's person, without which they could not well "doble outt" their course. This band was subscribed by the five Earls, Angus, Huntly, Errol, Bothwell and Caithness. Balwearie subscribed as a witness, and [so did] some others. Bothwell undertook to put the King in their hands. Balwearie being examined on sundry points denies all, saying he will not be a witness against himself, but if the King will show him favour he will "open" to him or to any one whom he shall appoint.
It is advertised hither from England that the Papist Earls have sent offers to her Majesty, but she would not hear them. But Burghley received them and has given them good answer. This does not come directly to the King, but is put into the heads of some of our courtiers as a secret to be imparted to him. This comes from Mr. Archibald Douglas. How it comes to him, judge you; he is busy after the old manner.
The chief thing now in hand is the order-taking with the King's revenue, and for that purpose there are appointed twelve auditors of the "Checcer" [Exchequer], that is to say, four noblemen, four barons and four councillors, viz., for the noblemen Mar and Montrose, Livingstone and Lindsay; for the barons the Lairds of Lochinvar, Garlies, Bass and the Provost of Edinburgh; for the councillors, the Chancellor, Prior of Blantyre, Clerk Register and the Laird of Colluthy (Collichthy). These are appointed to hear the officers' "countes," the Treasurer, Comptroller and Collector, no officer to be upon another's "countes." That the King may have a sufficient rent to maintain himself and his house a Parliament shall be proclaimed against the 13th of March, that by the consent of the three Estates he may call back all Crown revenue given out by his predecessors, chiefly by his mother or himself, to the end he may not lay upon his people so great taxations as heretofore. There is a determination to change the Treasurer, Comptroller and Collector and to give the offices to "mene" men that they may put in and out as they please.
Our Papist lords are in good comfort. They look daily for Mr. Walter Lindsay with money but no men. They think to come better speed in "boddeng" (fn. 10) our courtiers than in levying men and taking arms; for men they will not get of such "sodanty" that they will not be prevented. All they shoot at is a sudden surprise of the King's person. What danger that may breed I leave to your consideration. This town is in great fear and keeps great watch and ward. The fourth part of the town watches nightly. No man is permitted to send a servant for him. Every man is upon his own guard.
This day there was an action in law between Sir Robert Ker and Sir John Ker. Coming to the question of probation it was referred to Sir John's oath. The other said, "I am assouertt you wil nott suer" (swear). "I will suere the troth," said he. The other said "Thatt is nott the truth"; and so they multiplied words till at last Sir Robert gave Sir John a blow on the face; whereupon he was committed to the Castle, where he remains.
I have no further [news]. If my letters do not come with such speed as they should, blame the "convoye" and not me. I have written in my former something concerning myself which I leave to your consideration and my own deserts. I will not say as the priest said, "Noo penny noo pater noster." I will serve her Majesty so long as I live, whether she gives to me or not. Holyroodhouse. Signed: R.A.
Postscript.—Sir Robert Ker is relieved out of the Castle, but commanded to keep his house.
3¼ pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes: "Roger Aston. Holyrood xviij° Januarie, Grenwich 25 eiusdem, 1594."
449. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 18.]
Since my last, written on Tuesday night, I have no great matters to write of, yet to accompany Roger Aston's letter I certify you of the little matters here. Balwearie will not subscribe to further his own "dittement," as he says. To the King or such as the King will in trust send to him he says he will confess all. But the King does not intend to see him, but to give him the law. What means and money may do I know not.
It appears there was some plot in hand, for wonderful great numbers have been and are here, so that the town and Kirk, fearing the worst, have [kept] and do keep very great watch, and have moved the King by proclamation to disperse the people having here no business. Some say the Earls are on this side the water for the surprise of this town or the King. [In the margin: "I can not say they are so."] Upon this occasion, as I understand, proclamation was this day made here commanding all aiders, assisters, resetters or fellow-conspirators of Angus, Huntly, Bothwell or Errol to depart this town, Canongate and Leith within twenty-four hours upon pain of death, and not to come within ten miles of the King's residence, upon like pain. This proclamation is as well against those who have remission as those who have none. Whereon those here, as Ochiltree and Spynie (who now has "gon out of hope" of the King's favour at this time) and all others, judge it to be made "in their contraryes," and many who have remission are offended thereat.
This night the Master of Glamis is to come hither. His servants here have ridden out in vain to meet him. Some yet think that he, the Comptroller and Collector may be removed; "but if any onely the Comptroler." By choosing new councillors for the Exchequer they are reforming rather than removing the officers. Mar and others are to be chosen as councillors and overseers of that place [i.e. the Exchequer] that the King may get his duties the better—" a pece of a beginning not looked for."
On Thursday last Sir Robert Ker and Sir John Ker, "pleing [litigating] in the fore place to the mydle Tolebuthe," Sir Robert gave Sir John the lie and a cuff, and he with his dagger would have requited it but that they were presently thrust asunder. The Lords of Session charged him to enter to the Castle which he did by 3 o'clock in the afternoon. There he remained till yesterday about that time of the day, returning to his lodging very well accompanied, being [commanded] there to remain till his Majesty's will be further known. I delivered the King yesterday a bill for Border causes against Cessford and Huton Hall. This day he told me I should have it answered: when and how this is done I shall advertise you. A gentleman of good degree and action has come here to Mr. John Colville anent the matter of "Es," (fn. 11) by whom Mr. John will do good, for I know the gentleman to have much in him, and to be honest; wherein shortly you will learn of fair offers. Edinburgh. Signed: Geo. Nicolson.
2 pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.
450. [Mr. John Colville] to [Robert Bowes]. [Jan. 23.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 136, 137.
By the enclosed from the gentleman, who came also himself hither, you may perceive what service he is minded to do in these Irish matters. He has gone to the Isles, and if he cannot stay their "owe[r]going," he will cause MacCondochy, who will be one of their chief captains, to keep intelligence with any trusty Irish in that country; referring it to your judgment to consider whether he should keep intelligence that way or send his advertisements here. Whereupon by your next let me have your answer, and let me know how this service will be liked there. Unless you provide this remedy I do not see that either the King or the other [i.e. Argyll] will take great care of it.
On the 20th instant three proclamations were published, whereof two are sent; the third, being of the Exchequer matters, I could not get, but its tenor is for "calling home" all his Majesty's revenues unprofitably let out. All the old officials, the Chancellor only excepted, are discharged "to sitt" on such matters, and in their place are "surrogatt" Mar, Montrose, Livingstone, Seton, the Prior of Blantyre, Colluthy, Bass, with some others. Great stir has been here about a blow given in the Tolbooth by Cessford to Sir John Ker. But they are now "assured" to Whit Sunday. In like manner his Majesty is busied to assure Crawford and the Master of Glamis, but Crawford refuses unless young Lord Glamis also subscribes. Balwearie, by means of "H," (fn. 12) is likely to escape, and has confessed a band written in cipher with Angus's own hand, "bearing" the deprivation of his Majesty, coronation of the Prince, murder of sundry courtiers, and distribution of the offices of estate and Session to Papists. He promises to exhibit the band and to decipher it upon "enlargement" [liberty] of some days and under great caution. What his Majesty will do herein I yet know not.
Sir George [Hume], who still is willing to do all good offices, marvels much he does not hear from you.
Postscript.—Balwearie confesses that he was the chief travailer betwixt Huntly and Bothwell, and was with them at all their meetings and "bonding." This morning he is brought out of the Castle to that same house in the Tolbooth where Fintry lay. His Majesty has found great fault with sundry of the Council who indirectly seem to favour him. He began to deny all that first he confessed touching the band, and presently his Majesty is "deliberat" either by fair persuasions or question to make him again affirm the thing once said.
The pardon given to Keith and Cluny [l. Gight], who resort openly to Aberdeen, together with the affirmation that Huntly is quietly there without danger, is much misliked. The pardon is not given immediately by his Majesty's self nor for the murder of Murray, but by the Duke, having commission to that effect, and only for the assisting of the rebels in this last conflict. Yet it will be found sufficient by our law, for the Duke is sufficiently authorised, et absolutio a lœsa majestate omnia capitalia inferiora includit. Let something be in your letter concerning Junior [young Lawers] that may encourage him, which I may read to him. [Unsigned.]
3 pp. In Mr. John Colville's hand. No address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes: "Y.y.y. Received London ult. Januarij 1594."
Enclosure with the same. (fn. 13)
(James Campbell of Lawers to Mr. John Colville.)
Printed in Colville's Letters, p. 269.
Inasmuch as I consider the purpose "proponit" by you to be for the benefit of religion and amity and good service to the King, I commend my services therein. This you shall signify to Mr. Bowes in my name, reserving a copy hereof beside yourself for our ground and remembrance.
On the 8th instant a messenger came "to my lord and cheife" [Argyll] from O'Neill, O'Donnell and O'Dochartie, desiring to know his estate since the last battle. If M'Conochy (M'Konochy) was slain (as they heard he was), because he had oft done them good service in Ireland [they desired him] to be good to his wife and bairns, and to send over such of them as were meet for the wars, requiring also this spring some aid of men; for which he should have his yearly tribute and their help again, "as he had to do" [i.e. in his need]. It was answered that his lordship was in good health; thanked them for their message; that M'Conochy was not slain; and that, for the sending of supply, he could not easily do anything therein without the advice of his friends.
This is the present estate; but to make all sure, to the end the ambassador may commit that matter only to you and me "using greitar povvarts [powers] as thay may mak for him allanerlie (fn. 14) and no uthervayis" this much shall be fulfilled on my part. I shall go to the Isles, where the foresaid messenger yet is, and will deal with him to know their counsel, and with Donald Gorm, Clanranald, Angus MacConnell, MacLean and all Clandonald ("Donnald Gourum, Glenronnald, Angus M'Konyll, M'Klen and haill Glendonnald") to dissuade them from any journey; wherein I hope to speed. If they will not hear me, then you shall know the number, the time of their embarking and place where they mind to land, and their intentions and confederates in Ireland. I shall make M'Kondochy keep a secure intelligence with any "Iyrland" man the ambassador pleases, if they come to Ireland; and if her Majesty think it meet I shall come myself with 500 to her service. This affirm in my name, desiring secrecy and such kindness again as my faithfulness shall deserve.
The messenger foresaid alleges that all the old blood of Ireland is banded with the three foresaid as the friends of Ormond (Vormound) and Desmond. But they may allege this to cause our men the rather to assist them, and therefore before seeing their hand-writ I will not affirm it; but, assure yourself I shall learn the truth. This say for me, as also for Mr. John Archibald, whose honesty in these things you know. 16th January. Signed: James Campbell off Lawiris, youngar.
12/3 pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed: Mr. John Colvill.
451. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 23 and 24.]
The Laird of Balwearie, having been sundry times examined, now refuses to confess anything unless he may have his life and living granted to him, which the Chancellor and almost the whole Council in favour of Buccleuch would persuade the King to grant, to the end that by his confession and producing of the bond of the plots (denied to concern the overthrow of religion, the King and government) all perils might be prevented. But the King will rather give him the law. He has been very angry at these motions, not only reproving their advice but thereon giving order for removing of Balwearie from the Castle to the Tolbooth, which was done this day by the convoy both of the King's guard and of the town. Now the King is at resolution to have some ministers to be at his examination for the better discovery of the truth. Yet continual means and counsels are made by his great friends to save his life and living; which will not be had if the King (B.) can be well assisted in his purpose. Mor [Nicolson] is in hope to get a copy of the band, if it be produced, as I think it will not be, unless with condition that Balwearie may have life and living.
On Monday last three proclamations were made; first, for the Parliament to be on 17th March, so that the unmeet setts of his Majesty's lands and profits shall be revoked and "retorned" more to his profit. The second called on all men who had any tacks of the King's lands to come and show them to the commissioners of the Exchequer, that all things for the King's rents and duties may be reformed to his profit before the Parliament, and then confirmed. The third proclamation was to forbid, upon pain of death, the repair of any great men hither to this next Convention on the 27th instant, saving such as were sent for, and those to bring only their ordinary train with them, that his Majesty's good intentions for reforming of the estate of the country might not be hindered.
Atholl and Ogilvy are still looked for to come in peaceable manner, and Argyll also is to be here. Between them displeasures may grow. Hamilton is expected by some, though he is malcontent at the favour given to Johnstone, who is here in league with Cessford and Buccleuch and a daily "back" to the Chancellor. The danger of troubles by this means may easily arise. The assurance between Crawford and the Master of Glamis ends this night, and I do not look for the renewing of the same in haste. [In the margin: "I heare that Spinie hathe spoken quietly with the King."] How likely it is to have troubles among some of these factions, which will stir all at once, your worship can best judge. "Allwaies" great care will be taken to prevent the worst, and if troubles are escaped now all is like to keep quiet till the Parliament. Cessford is at liberty now, not disliked for the late cuff he gave.
I hear nothing of the northern Earls for certain. Some say they mean to leave the country, but I think they rather expect the return of Mr. James Gordon and Mr. Walter Lindsay and others, intending to do as by their advice shall be thought meet. Caithness should remove Bothwell out of his bounds and then come in. But he is thought to be in the band and does nothing but dally with the King, as the rest of that faction do.
I have found the King, both in and out of Council, very willing to cause redress to be made in Border causes according to my bill, but as yet I have no answer but expect it to-morrow. The King has said that he will not be pleased if they do not take good order so that he may have no more complaints All the Wardens give marvellous good words, especially Buccleuch, so I hope all will be well. Edinburgh, 23rd January. Signed: George Nicolson.
Postscript.—Our need is now great, therefore please send the money with speed.
Postscript.—This morning I received the answer of the King and Council to my bill of Border causes, which I send to Sir John Selby. Edinburgh, 24th January.
2 pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.
452. [Roger Aston] to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 24.]
Balwearie has been sundry times examined, and confessed more at the first than he will do since yesterday. He was examined by the Prior and the Justice Clerk. He offered before to deliver the band for the taking of the King, etc. He is a witness and has subscribed it, and as one of greatest trust has the same in his keeping. Now he denies all and says he will do nothing unless he has the King's promise for his life and lands. Upon this answer the King commanded a warrant to be made to remove him out of the Castle to where Fintry was, in the hands of the town, where he shall be more hardly handled. He says he shall make him tell the truth ere long. Upon this direction of the warrant to the town to receive him, by Buccleuch's means the whole Council came down to solicit for him, chiefly the Chancellor and Master of Glamis, who now are "al one." The King and they were at hot reasoning. The King said to them that in other countries the councillors were the instruments that punished traitors, but here everyone strives who may do most for them; that in England the Queen was not troubled with such matter; the Council would punish without respect, as the cause deserved, and everyone strive who might be greatest enemy to the offender, chiefly in matters of lêse majesté. The King's resolution yet holds, and this day he is to be delivered to the town. What will follow I know not. He has great friends who labour for him. He is privy to the greatest matters that have been in this country. Every man here is but for himself and for his own standing, without respect for the King or common cause. The King's poverty is such that he has no forces to command, but is constrained to yield to things far against his nature, or else to make himself a prey to his enemies. The forces he leans most to are Hume, Cessford, Buccleuch and Johnstone. Johnstone has got his remission and has given in pledges, whereat Hamilton is malcontent. The Papist Earls would pass out of the country if they might get any favour to their wives and children. Huntly has secret dealing here for him. He is determined to depart presently and leave the rest. Caithness was on his journey (as his uncle, who is here dealing for him, says), but, receiving a letter from him, at the King's direction, not to come hither before he had put Bothwell and the rest out of his country, he has returned to perform the King's commandment. I will believe when I see.
There is a commission gone to the Duke to deal with all who were at the battle against Argyll. We are informed that Cluny and Gight are in Aberdeen, which makes me think that matters are "tempering" here. How far the Duke has proceeded in those matters I am not yet certain. I find many discontent that any of the "Donnybreseleres" should have favour. Huntly is up and down the country, and sometimes in Aberdeen quietly. Atholl is coming to this town, but with his household servants. Argyll is to be here at the Convention, also Montrose and divers others. The Convention begins on Monday next. Parliament is proclaimed [for] 17th March, when the King shall call back his revenue, but it is in so many great men's hands that I fear he shall be little better than before. The favourers of the Earls give out that he were best to settle his estate and forgive all, seeing that the Queen of England will not give assistance. I am of opinion if they had not joined with Bothwell they had got some favour. You shall be advertised of all things, and what I dare not write I shall cause George [Nicolson] to write. Holyroodhouse. [Signature erased.]
2 pp. In Roger Aston's hand; also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.
453. George Nicolson to Lord Scrope. [Jan. 24.]
The Laird of Buccleuch has shewed me that he is desirous to have concurrence of your lordship for the administration of justice on the Borders, but this he cannot receive, for sundry raids are made by some of your wardenry upon his people, and also your lordship by your letters "disapoints and alters somtyme" your mind signified to him, which "giveth" him to think that he cannot be sure of due redress unless your lordship be appointed by especial direction to do it. Being loth to do anything that may offend her Majesty, he means to write to my master to procure her Majesty's order to your lordship to do him justice rather than by casting loose Liddisdale to meet unfriendly with unneighbourly dealings under your rule; yet for want of justice he says he cannot stay Liddisdale any long time. In this case my master must of necessity acquaint her Majesty "upon" the Laird's letter; and therefore I have presumed to acquaint you herewith, that by speedily sending me a letter to deliver to the Laird (if he be here, as I think he will be), your lordship may prevent all inconveniences by offering meetings for the administration of justice upon some day "peremptorie" to be set down at his pleasure. For your advantage herein "I prolonge the Lardes writing" as long as I can, and, if it may be, till the coming of your letter to him. You may write as not knowing of this matter, which rests only between you and me. I pray pardon that I write thus, knowing that if complaint should be thus made on your lordship or Liddisdale "breake" and the fault be laid on you, you would not a little grieve thereat and blame me rightly if I should not make you "foresene" thereof; and in my opinion the matter is not of small moment. By good agreement with Buccleuch your lordship might have such peace kept as would not a little honour your office. He is an honourable gentleman, of great valour and commandment, and just to perform what he promises, therefore I wish rather friendship than emulation between you.
On Monday next a very great Convention is to be here for "ordering" of the highlanders. To this Convention sundry great men are to come, and in such strength that the King has enjoined all to come only with their ordinary train, and only such as are sent for.
The greatest matter now here is concerning the trying out of the secrets of the Laird of Balwearie, Buccleuch's chief. Though he confessed something, yet now he denies all and will not tell anything unless upon condition [as in Nos. 450–452]. He was yesterday removed to the Tolbooth where he is very straitly kept, the town keeping great watch for him and preventing troubles that may arise through the numbers of strangers already come; and now the ministers are "to be of his examination" for the discovery of the secrets.
Great travail is used to reform the faults in the Exchequer, but not to remove the officers of estate [etc. as in previous letters]. The suspected emulation between the Chancellor and Mar is outwardly agreed and presently all is quiet here, but great fears are conceived of great troubles. We have nothing certain of the Papist Earls. Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.
2 pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Cecil's clerk.
454. Mr. John Colville to Sir Robert Cecil. [Jan. 25.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 270–271.
Since I have, at his Majesty's command, "keped" intelligence with her Majesty's ambassador, who I know has imparted all "with" your honour, let it not be unacceptable, for I do according to my knowledge, and beseech you to direct me in my course that I fall into no error that "may dislyik yow." For my heart is yours as much as my own, and my labours under your ensign I have dedicated, as S. (Mr. Robert Bowes) (fn. 15) has told you. I should like some two lines of your own hand in this matter. Signed: Jo. Colvile.
1 p. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Cecil's clerk.
455. Examination and Confession of the Laird of Balwearie. [Jan. 28.]
The Laird of Balwearie, sworn and examined in the presence of the Prior of Blantyre, the Justice Clerk and the Provost of Edinburgh, at the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, the 28th day of January 1594 [-95], depones that a little before the baptism he met at the Kirk of Menmuir (Menmure) with Bothwell, Angus, Huntly, Errol, Caithness, a brother of Caithness, James Douglas sometime of Spott, Auchindoun, Gight (Geich), Mr. James Gordon and Colonel Boyd. Their meeting was in "ane hoslarhous." Afterwards Bothwell and Huntly were "aggreit." They came in all together, and the band, being penned by Angus, was read "in all thair audiences" and subscribed by all the Earls, Auchindoun and himself as witnesses. Immediately thereafter it was agreed by the Earls that Angus and Bothwell should retire to the south and there take up five hundred waged men to "inquyet" those parts, and thereby withdraw his Majesty from the north; and if his Majesty should go to the north, the northland lords should scatter their forces till he had "reteirit him forewart againe," and then "supponning" that his forces should have dissolved they would join theirs, and with the assistance of Bothwell and Angus set upon his Majesty and assay to take him prisoner. If this purpose should miscarry, then it was craved by Huntly that every one of them should have a trusty man awaiting on his Majesty. These might make a convenient force that might make his Highness sure when they kithed [i.e. declared] themselves. Huntly assured them that he himself had one who was able to "mak fyiftie to that armye." What man this was he knows not, as he shall answer to God.
Before their dissolving a new meeting was appointed in Angus within fifteen days thereafter. Bothwell promised to bring with him to that tryst Atholl and Ochiltree for the reconciliation of Murray's slaughter. Whether this tryst was kept or not he knows not because he kept it not himself, albeit he had promised and was particularly required by Bothwell and Errol. Bothwell at that time showed him that in their second meeting he should for his surety crave the keeping of the Prince and castle of Edinburgh; that their special purpose was to attempt the taking of the King at Stirling rather than in any other part, in respect of the opportunity of the place, open both to their south and north forces without any ferry betwixt, and if any of them prevailed in his intent the rest would come with all diligence and with "conjunct" forces transport his Majesty to the north, where they thought, in respect of their forces, to be in greatest surety and to guard him with men of war, "unsuffering" any to have access to his presence but such as pleased them. He knows that Bothwell rode north to the second tryst, because he was advertised by him, on his riding by, to have been with him, but he refused in respect he thought he had already "mellit" over far in such high matters.
Then, after the battle betwixt Huntly and Argyll, a stranger with Huntly was immediately directed away, first to Flanders, next to the Pope and the rest of the confederate princes, to acquaint them with the "happie succes" of that day's meeting, in respect that they had only sent hither 12,000 crowns till they might hear that they were once [actually] entered in that action, when they had in readiness eight millions of crowns to be sent with a convenient force of men, if need required. "Befoir the feild" Mr. Walter Lindsay was directed away for money and men to the number of 5,000 that still are looked [for]. Now he hears that he is gone from Rome to Spain to "suit" a pension to Huntly "by" [without] the knowledge of the rest, in respect that he may do the greatest service.
"Inquyrit" what he knows "towardis" the second convention, and if any other band was made thereat, he depones that, asking Andrew Kinnaird, burgess of Dundee, in Dundee "within this xx dayis" what news he had, he answered he heard news that he was sorry for, which was that there were two bands subscribed betwixt the Papist lords and Bothwell, whereof one was in the deponer's keeping and the other one in another man's, whose name he shall hereafter notify to his Majesty. "Towardis" the first band, subscribed by the deponer as witness, it was retained by him for his surety, and he will deliver the same to his Majesty with all convenient speed. "Sic subscribitur: James Scott of Balwearie."
2⅓ pp. In a Scottish hand. Endorsed by George Nicolson.
456. [Roger Aston] to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 29 and 30.]
The Convention began this day. The day appointed was the 27th, but because Argyll did not come till yesternight it was "conteneud" till this day, the 29th. It is the greatest assembly of noblemen and gentlemen that I have seen. Argyll came "in horse." Atholl came according as he was appointed with his household servants, about four score horse. This day the King passed to the Tolbooth, the town being in arms. Argyll and Atholl were commanded to keep their lodgings till they were sent for after deliberation by the King and Council what order was meetest to be taken for the quieting of the Highlands and redress of wrongs. Argyll and Atholl, Lord Lovat, MacKenzie (Maccony), Tullibardine (Tollybarne), Grant and Glenorchie are all committed to ward till they have redressed the wrongs done and put in good surety under the pain of 20,000l., everyone to be answerable for all he may command. They have already put in surety not to break ward till they have performed all things according to the order set down. Grant and Glenorchie are committed to the castle of Edinburgh, Atholl, Lovat and Mackenzie to the palace of Linlithgow. "This for the Heland aferes."
Balwearie's confession was not known till this day. He has delivered the band made between the Papist lords and Bothwell, whereof I enclose a copy word for word. (fn. 16) He has confessed many things of great consequence. Another band was made twenty-one days after this, in which they bound themselves in straiter manner to take the King or slay him and "take outt the Princh": all who were not theirs about the King "to pas the sourd." He says this band was made, but he was not at the making of it. Being demanded where it was, he says he was told by a trusty person it was in the keeping of the Laird of Grant, who was, upon his confession, presently committed to the castle in close prison, where he was before ordained to have been in free ward, as the rest.
Being demanded how the King should have been taken or slain ("butt taking was the best"), he says Huntly promised for his part a special man about the King, and, with "1."? at his devotion, every one of the rest should make their friendship; that if they might once possess the King, "having with there frensip and crounes to levy men, it was no defeccolty to acomples al thinges att there plesouer." He says they have received very good answer from Mr. Walter Lindsay, and that he has promise both of men and money, but of money great store.
By the great intercession of Buccleuch to the Queen she has been a suitor for Balwearie's life, which is granted. He is to be fined and remain in prison during the King's pleasure. He that Huntly accounts of about the King who commands "1." we secretly judge to be a great one in Court but a Papist in heart and yet subscribes [i.e. the Confession of Faith]. Who that is, judge you. Before the discovery of this band and other plots I know there was secret dealing for Huntly, as I wrote before. What will now follow out I know not. It appears he was in good hope of his appointment; for after there was commission given to the Duke for the assurance of Gight and Cluny, with others who were at the chase of Argyll, Huntly wrote to forbid them to take their appointment by the Duke, for they would come under his appointment. Upon this they have refused the occasion offered by the Duke and have returned to Huntly, it appears. He looks for favour by the Court, or else thinks to "doble outt" their course other ways, as by their plots appears. Thus far I have set down at length the truth of all our present proceedings here. Although you have other intelligences set down in better form, yet you should credit mine "with the first."
Now, I will set down something of my own opinion concerning the imminent dangers to religion and the amity. The "waye and mene" to prevent them is not here except the King had "moyan" to entertain some forces about his person. If he perish all hope is gone, and all good men wish her Majesty would help to prevent these present dangers which concern her standing as well as theirs. "Al men for the most partt" have grown cold towards England and say the King is not met according to his deserts. Last year there was nothing but action, action, and he should be assisted. But now all is left to himself. For my own part I "byd" many a storm. If it were not to serve her Majesty I should not tarry long here. For yourself, if her Majesty employs you "hether," think not to do the same service as before, unless she helps the King and the religion.
All this I have set down in hope it shall not be taken in any evil part. I write but the simple truth. Atholl purges himself of the receipt of any gold or the agreeing with Huntly, yet the contrary is known. He is not accused of those matters as yet. The Master of Gray has been very busy in all those "tornes." He is here and purges himself. I have no further [news] for this time. To the end you may see I omit no time, I write this letter this Wednesday at night and direct it the next morning. I wrote to you to move her Majesty for me, but I fear that by reason of your sickness you have not had the commodity. Signed: R. A.
Postscript.—He who subscribes "James Skott, wittnes" is Balwearie. Although Bothwell has undertaken in the band for Ochiltree, he is no partaker, "for thatt was the caues he left Bodwel." Mr. James Gordon was at the band making. I was constrained to open my letter again for sundry things omitted. The ministers are this day to deal with the King for severe pursuit and preventing of the great danger intended. I know he is willing, but not able. Bothwell has come over the water to these parts: he is now upon the Borders of England in "Ricchi Longtowne's" [Richard Langton's] house with three "and him selfe." Mr. John Colville remains in Leith and can get no assurances for himself. "He has the King's over sightt," but dare not come abroad "for" particular enemies, chiefly such as favour the Chancellor. This day I am going to Leith to receive the "warderes." This day the King sits in the Exchequer to take order with his own affairs. Within three or four days he goes to Spott. Thursday at eleven o'clock.
Postscript.—In the band Bothwell took in hand for Atholl as for Ochiltree.
6¾ pp. In Roger Aston's hand. Addressed in the same hand: "To my lord embaster." Endorsed by Robert Bowes: "Roger Aston. Holyrode 29 January. London 5th Febr. 1594." Red wax seal.
457. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Jan. 30.]
This great Convention began yesterday. The King came up to the Tolbooth for the ordering of matters, and half the town were in warlike array in the streets, the Kirk and low Tolbooth (where the town hold their sessions), for the safety of the King and stay of troubles suspected by reason of the great numbers and feuds here presently. Yet at the entrance of the Tolbooth, Crawford's men returning from the Earl, whom they had set up into the Tolbooth, and meeting the Master of Glamis after the Master was put up the staithe, (fn. 17) pistols were drawn and a sword, and offers made of a fight between Crawford's servants and the Master, but this was stayed by the "shot" in the low Tolbooth, who cast open the door and presented their pieces to have shot among those offerers of the breach of the peace. [In the margin: I see not but the King favours Crawford very much, yet the Chancellor and the Master of Glamis are all one and roundly proceed in any thing they take in hand.]
The King is now moved, as it were at the Queen's suit, though also by means of Buccleuch's friends (I mean the Chancellor and almost all the officers of estate) to let Balwearie have life and lands upon reasonable fine and confession, and this day he is to be enlarged from the Tolbooth either to the castle again or to some friend's house here upon caution to perform the fine and to obey the King's further order. He has produced a minute of a band written by Angus and subscribed by Angus, Huntly, Errol, Caithness, Bothwell and Auchindoun for aiding each other on all occasions and for restoring themselves to their former estates without alteration of religion, and with a dispensation for the slaughter of Murray till this Earl should come to the age of man, with sundry other clauses of no great moment. Yesterday he has confessed something of Grant, who for that cause, more than for the Highlands matter, is committed to the castle. But there is another band made lately at Menmuir (Menmore) Kirk, of great moment, and wherein more noblemen are thought to be joined. This band Balwearie cannot produce, but I hear he will put the King in a way how he may come by it. I hear further that he says these Earls look for foreign forces about Whit Sunday next, and for treasure to be brought them in the meantime by Mr. Walter Lindsay and others, yet I dare almost assure you that he has no dealings or knowledge of Thomas Tyrie's "adoies."
Upon advertisement from the Duke and Sir Robert Melvill that Huntly had forbidden all his friends to make any composition with the Duke, because he looked shortly to relieve them himself, and upon some things gathered from Balwearie that the Earls had some plots in hand, as also upon sight of the great numbers in this town, the King has caused very great and strait watch still to be kept the latter end of last week in the Abbey, charging the town with some men for his better guard, which was willingly yielded to. By this good help and foresight, if there were any plots they are likely to be prevented.
I now hear that the Papist Earls are determined to leave the country, chiefly Bothwell and Huntly. Thereby this country is to be settled in some quietness (some say) without any "moyen" of England (Pa.), against which this estate begins to murmur much. Without repair, this will in time work no good effects, the enemies of England taking the advantage to play on that string, which sounds not very sweet here.
Yesterday the King, for redressing of the faults of the highlanders and establishing of good order anent them, has appointed Atholl, Lovat and Mackenzie (Mackeny) to enter ward at Linlithgow. [In the margin: "Atholl denies to have any dealing with Bothwell."] Argyll, Glenorchy (Glenurquhart) and others to enter ward in this castle; and Tullibardine, Gartully [? Grantully] and others at Dumbarton and Blackness till they give redress for the faults committed by the highlanders, and that there be a solid course taken for the quietness of the country, according to the order taken by King James V. in Highland matters. This day he is also to be occupied in the perfecting of these matters, and these noblemen will labour to be discharged of their wards by cautions to be laid in for them. Thus much in haste to accompany Mr. Aston's to you. Edinburgh. Signed: Geo. Nicolson.
Postscript.—Please send money for our charges and remember your intelligencers, who begin to wax cold.
1¾ pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.
458. Proclamation of summons to Parliament. [Jan.]
Warrant by King James VI. to his messengers and sheriffs to summon the earls, lords, barons, commissioners and others having vote in Parliament to be present at the Parliament to be holden on 17th March next for treating and concluding upon certain matters touching the King's property and other public affairs. Edinburgh.
1 p. Broadsheet. In a Scottish hand. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.
459. Laird of Easter Wemyss to [Elizabeth]. [January.]
I have always continued your Highness's most faithful and willing servitor in all things for the entertainment of the amity and for furthering your Majesty's particulars since I gave my word to Sir Francis Walsingham, being ever in hope to have performance of his promise made unto me. The extraordinary charges I have sustained in that honourable action, whereunto by your advice I was embarked, with what I have spent in your service, press me to present this request, that by the grant thereof I may have occasion to continue as always your Highness's most humble servitor. Signed: Est Veimes.
½ p. Holograph. No address. Endorsed by Cecil's clerk.