James VI, February 1595

Pages 526-541

Calendar of State Papers, Scotland: Volume 11, 1593-1595. Originally published by Edinburgh, 1936.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by American Friends of the IHR. All rights reserved.


In this section

James VI, February 1595

460. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 1.]

Balwearie was on Thursday last very late enlarged upon caution and taken to his own lodging. In regard of the great favour he has by means of his friends, Buccleuch and others, his fine is not likely to be very great. I now send you a true copy of the band as I saw it examined with the original, produced by Balwearie.

Balwearie, being examined what plots the Earls had, said plots for the surprise of the King; and being asked how it should be done, he said he thought by the help of some about the King, who were to have 50, 30, 20, more or less, apiece to deliver the King into their hands: wherein Hume (60) is doubted by some, though not by me. These matters thus discovered are of so small moment and so uncertainly delivered that it is thought the "budgett" is not half opened. Wherein surely I think the King is not to be blamed, for if he had better assistance he would have done more. [In the margin: Mr. Colville (67) is much blamed, as if he had put out Balwearie.] Only the Kirk (Res) backed the King, so far as I could perceive. Yet besides this he has confessed a dangerous band made at the Kirk of Menmuir, which he has not seen. Nevertheless he has put the King in a way to look for that band by the means of Grant, prisoner in this castle, whereby it is thought the Kirk, King and country are conspired against. In this I cannot say more till I be sure of more.

I moved Sir George Hume to remind the King to write in answer to her Majesty anent the matter for Ireland. This Sir George very willingly did, returning me answer that the King would take such order that Argyll should be answerable for it. Yet I prayed Sir George to move the King to write so to her Majesty, and spoke to the Secretary to speak to the King therein. The Secretary said the King was first to write to the Queen "for himself, and as well to crave her as she did him." It seemed that for want of her Majesty's letter (which shall be had on Roger Aston's return) the answer could not be made. So as yet I cannot tell what to look for therein except through the Secretary's answer, and I have dealt with Mr. Bruce (72) to "labour" Argyll therein, which shall be done as soon as the King shall give his order therein. Yet if friendship were once entertained with George Hume (58) I would not stick to let the King know the answer. But, as matters go, I see this estate waxing cold to us, which I would either see repaired or myself discharged here.

Yesterday afternoon, after the King went to the Tolbooth, Sir James Sandilands, returning from him down the street, met Montrose, with whom the Chancellor was going up to the King to the Tolbooth. They met "annenst" [opposite] William Napier's (Nepper) house, where, for the feud of Mr. John Graham's slaughter, "bothe parties begann the fray, shooting 40 or 50 pistolls and feighting with swordis" very hotly till the town parted them. Some are slain and hurt on both sides, Sir James Sandilands being sore hurt, and the brother of the Laird of Kerse (Carse) is slain, for whom Sir James laments. The Master of Grahame "proved well," but the Chancellor and Montrose sought to stay it. For this I see no sign of justice, though some townsmen are hurt also. The Master of Grahame, Montrose's son, has fled.

I hear nothing of the Earls with certainty, saving that they give out that I have been with them giving them comfort from her Majesty and willing them to stand to their "taklinge." Whereon Mr. David Lindsay has written to make trial, and the King asked where I was, as if "belike" he had heard it and stood doubtful therein. But I shall return Mr. David contentment little to the liking of the devisers of that lie, whoever they be, though I be but a stranger and of mean degree among them.

This Convention now begins to end, so that next week the King will [go] to Spott and Dunglass; on which journey some fear dangers. Mar would have gone home, but the King, as I hear, takes him with him, and on his return will go with the Queen to Stirling, there to remain some good time. Argyll, Tullibardine, the Sheriff of Ayr, Grant and other highlanders, as I wrote, are in this castle and Linlithgow, but none in Dumbarton or Blackness. Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.

2 pp. Holograph, also address. Names partly in cipher, deciphered. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

461. [Mr. John Colville] to [Robert Bowes]. [Feb. 1.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 137–138.

All that was done in the Convention was concerning highland matters. Argyll is warded in the castle of Edinburgh, Grant, Tullibardine and Atholl in Kinneil. If the Chancellor (H.) and his course prevail the former will not be suddenly enlarged, but Atholl (B.) (fn. 1) will find "all the favour he may." On 30th January his Majesty went into the Exchequer house and there established the new order of exchequer and new auditors, "secluding" all the ordinary officials except the Chancellor.

Yesterday there was a bitter fight betwixt the Master of Montrose and Sir James Sandilands, wherein Sir James is shot, but not deadly, sundry hurt and two or three killed on either side. The fact was done "evin at the door of Escheker," where his Majesty was. The Chancellor and Montrose were present, but stood aside till all was done. This day trial is taken who were the first invaders, and it is found that the fault is in Sir James, so I think the other shall "contravaill" him in credit the more that the Chancellor is his friend.

Balwearie at her Majesty's suit is enlarged upon payment of a certain sum and banishment. He has produced the minute of a bond, the double whereof I think has come to your hands. But the principal bond is abstracted and I do not think will come to light, for Balwearie had such friendship in Court that his Majesty had little or no assistance to try that matter perfectly.

Junior (young Lawers) has returned here again and desires to know whether you will appoint any in Ireland to receive his intelligence, or if you will it to come this way "after that any go ower." But he trusts altogether to "impesche thair owergoing" [i.e. prevent their crossing to Ireland]. The Papists still brag that they have great favour from thence [i.e. England], "bot that is of the foly of N. [Bothwell] who indeid ostentis of his credeit thair without assurance." I thank the Lord that I (Y.) dealt so in these matters that Bothwell (N.) cannot prove that any there has showed him greater favour than may be defended with reason. Signed: Y.

2 pp. In Mr. John Colville's hand. Addressed in the same hand: Names partly in cipher, deciphered. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

462. James Campbell of Lawers to Mr. John Colville. [Feb. 4.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 271–272.

I have sent for M'Condochie (M'Konndochie) and other chieftains accustomed to go over to Ireland, and who are even now pressed by this new order against them to seek relief for themselves and broken men and to live in some other country. They intend (if not stayed) to go—3000 of them—to Ireland "at peace." Remembering my promise and "handwreit," I thought good to advertise you and George Nicolson of this conclusion, letting you both understand that for myself I will "travell" upon my own charges for a season in that service. But the people with whom I have to do are men that must either be "stayit" upon hope of some easy commodity, or be "laboured" to keep intelligence if they go over. I pray you to signify this much to the ambassador [Mr. Bowes] and to know his mind therein. Until the return of his answer I shall hold all "in suspens," assuring you that if they can be stayed I shall use all diligence requested; and failing thereof, her Majesty shall know their number, chieftain, intentions, time and place of landing and embarking with continual intelligence out of their company, things being "dressed" as is before said. In my absence please use Mr. John Archibald as myself, for I have appointed him "to that errand" as long as I shall remain in the Isles. Let me have a speedy and direct answer. Edinburgh. Signed: James Campbell fiear [fiar] off Lauaris.

1 p. Holograph. Also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

463. James VI. to James Hudson. [Feb. 4.]

Understanding that there is a special discharge in transporting of English beer, it is our will that you assist this bearer, George Smyth, in the transporting of twelve tuns of double London beer, for the furnishing of our house, because our dearest spouse is daily accustomed to drink of the same; "and this ye will do as ye will plesour us." Holyroodhouse. Signed: James R.

p. Addressed: "To our trustie freind James Hudsoun."

464. [Mr. John Colville] to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 5.] Printed in Colville's Letters, p. 139.

By the enclosed from Junior [No. 462] you may see his mind and "motion," wherein let me be directed as Audin thinks best. For our estate, his Majesty will remain some few days at the Merse, in Dunglass, Spott, Beil (Baill), Waughton (Vachtoun) and Seton. D. (fn. 2) is not well content with proceedings, for they fear that C. (fn. 3) has too much favour and that he is in this country. Lord Forbes has ridden this day to his Majesty with a complaint that the Gordons have spoiled his lands, which makes everyone judge that they are animated afresh to some new mischief; and it is no marvel, for there is never one of them punished in body for the last attempt.

Balwearie alleges that the principal bond containing the chief treasons is in the Laird of Grant's hands. But Balwearie himself is out of danger.

Postscript.—Bothwell is to depart the realm and to embark in Caithness with some more of that society, intending first, as I am informed, to go to Ireland.

1 p. In Mr. John Colville's hand. Addressed in the same hand: "To 5." Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

465. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 5 and 6.]

On Monday last the King took his journey for Spott, Dunglass and other places, there to hunt and pass his time for this week and to return about Saturday next. The ministers would have persuaded him to stay, in regard that by Balwearie's confession the time is dangerous now that the Papist Earls have plots in hand for his surprise. But all in vain, for the King is without fear now at his pastime. Mar got leave to stay here till the King's return, looking that soon afterwards the King and Queen shall go to remain for some time at Stirling, which the Chancellor will not like, some say. The Duke, by virtue of the King's commission to speak with any of the followers of the Papist Earls, has spoken with Gight, Cluny, Buckie and other "Dunibrisselleres" and only given them words for words, having heard their offers, whereto without the King's privity he will not agree. Nevertheless, by general bruits it is said here that the Duke has remitted them and spoken with Huntly and Errol. The King, hearing some of these speeches, gave order to Sir William Keith to go to the Duke (as I heard) to warn him to look to his dealings therein and to stay him till the King's further pleasure be signified to him. But as yet Sir William has not gone, and this night Captain Davison's band of footmen have returned hither from the Duke, who is very shortly looked for here and cannot in truth tarry there by reason he wants wherewith to maintain him and his forces. Lord Forbes, hearing that the Duke and Sir Robert Melville were in secret conference with Gight and the rest, and not knowing what might be meant thereby, as I hear, but taking suspicion thereat, has come hither to know the King's mind, and some say to be absent as well as the Duke, to avoid either withstanding or agreeing with the Earls otherwise than he shall be assured to agree with the King's pleasure. [In the margin: Some of Forbes's lands are also harried and overrun, increasing his suspicion of the Duke's dealings.]

Sir James Sandilands is now found in great danger by the two shots in his head, but [there is] no sign of punishment of any offenders on either side. Argyll has made many fair offers for redressing the faults of his vassals and for keeping them hereafter in peace, but cannot procure his discharge from ward at the hands of the Council, yet he hopes for it on the King's return. It is much wondered here that her Majesty in this time of treasons does not comfort the King either by way of support or of "countenance" by return of your worship or other ambassador hither; and with some it is as an argument alleged that she does not do this because of her purpose for the Earls, who (or some for them) are still, for their better credit, surmising such matters, which, no doubt, in the end God will make fall on their own heads.

As for the matter for Ireland, neither Roger [Aston] nor I can yet get the King's letter in answer to her Majesty, yet it seems he means the satisfaction of her Highness therein. "Allwaies" the overtures of 67 (Colville)— wherein the dealer (young Lawers) is very sufficient—may be entertained if it be so thought meet, "or otherwaies cast of as a nedeles matter." In this behalf I perceive the party looks for speedy answer or else to give it up, and therefore please return answer speedily herein. I think the King shall before his return be "remembred" to effect with Lord Hume an agreement for Ochiltree, who is, I hear, to meet the King on his Majesty's return hither. The Earl of Murray, of the age of twelve years, is "in purpose," I hear, to go to the schools in England, which his tutor also has a mind he should do. Edinburgh. Signed: Geo. Nicolson.

Postscript.—This morning I was advertised that William Hume had this night taken Hercules Stewart, Bothwell's brother, and Francis Trotter; which is true, for they are brought hither. They were taken at the Westhouses, near Newbottle, six or seven miles from hence. I heard also this morning that the Duke sent after Forbes to have stayed his coming hither, offering him contentment and redress for the spoils made on his lands. Whereunto Forbes answered that he looked for no redress nor meant to complain. "Allwaies" he has had three hours' conference in this castle here with Argyll, who for no offers nor means can draw this Council to set him at liberty. 72 (Mr. Bruce) hears that the Papist Earls have "sent about" by St. George's Channel and by the east seas to Spain. Edinburgh, 6th Feb. 1594, at 10 in the forenoon. Now Sir William Keith is gone towards the Duke.

2 pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes. Also, following key to ciphers: b, The Duke; d, Church of Scotland; 67, John Colville; 72, Robert Bruce; B, the King.

466. News from Scotland. [Feb. 12.]

On the 11th instant the King brought the Chancellor to the Queen, where the Chancellor recovered such grace that he kissed the Queen's hand, and after merry speeches departed with her good countenance. The Duke of Lennox and his party will, peradventure, think this reconciliation to be strange in the Queen and not with that constancy which they before have found in her. It has been advised to draw her to Stirling and there to continue to be accompanied and counselled by the old Countess of Mar, being of great years, experience and modesty. The Queen, warned partly hereof and greatly misliking the same, intends to return to Holyroodhouse to the marriage of Mr. Peter Young's daughter, presently serving her. It is thought that the Chancellor has put this into her ears, to stir her against Mar and his house. Mar will "take no knowledge" of the matter, yet it is likely to kindle again the dryness betwixt the Chancellor and him, and some troubles may grow thereon. It was told the informer that on the 7th instant Crawford's brethren and the Master of Gray had plotted to kill the Chancellor and the Master of Glamis as they came out of the Exchequer and returned to their lodgings. This is passed over with silence. But the informer foretells "welters" and changes out of these and other storms seen arising from the north.

¾ p. Endorsed by Sir Robert Cecil's clerk.

467. [Mr. John Colville] to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 13.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 139–140.

On the 6th instant Hercules Stewart was apprehended beside Dalkeith with other two of Bothwell's [followers]. I was there also at his Majesty's commandment and at the first saved his life. (fn. 4) But as yet it is uncertain whether his Majesty will spare him or not. He was this day examined and has "deponed" his knowledge of the bond, agreeable with that which Balwearie has said, except that he denies he knew anything of Grant, and has affirmed Spott and Boyd to be the only two who have led Bothwell to this unhappy course. The Council is now only busied upon the Irish matters, how they shall have sure bonds from Argyll and Atholl for restraining the incursions of their broken men; and it is not "lyik" that Argyll shall soon [be] released. Bothwell intends to go out of the country. The Duke returns about the 16th. Sir James Sandilands is "lyik to mend." Sir George Hume (G.) marvels much he has received no answer. Signed: Y.

1 p. In Mr. John Colville's hand. Addressed in the same hand: "To S." Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

468. Instructions by James VI. to Colonel Stewart. [Feb. 14.]

"Des instructions données par sa Majesté d'Ecosse au Sieur Guillaume Stewart, chevalier d'Houstoun et Commendador de Pettynweme, son ambassadeur vers Messieurs les Estats Generaulx des Provinces Unies du Pais Bas."

You shall signify our great desire that the amity contracted long ago by our predecessors and since ratified and approved by us and the States may be continued and increased.

You shall declare to them that, on the continuance of the practices of the Spaniards by seducing a number of the nobility of the first rank in Scotland (discovered two years ago, as the Estates were informed by you on our behalf), common interest obliges us to point out in good time the greatness of their designs. They are enemies both to the quietness of this isle in general and to the States General in particular, plotting nothing else than the total subversion of the religion and the ruin of both our states, in order to enslave us to their tyranny and extraordinary ambition, and to establish their surety in the embers of our estates (as their frequent messages and money sent from time to time sufficiently witness) if some proper remedy be not soon applied.

You shall signify to the States General what care we have ever had to repress altogether their insolence since first their practices were discovered to us, striving directly and indirectly by all gentle and good means to restore the leaders of sedition to their bounden obedience, assuring them that otherwise we would be constrained to set aside all affection and ties of kinship and proceed to extremes against them with our royal authority.

You shall notify that, seeing no appearance of amendment in them, in the end, at the Queen of England's earnest desire (as one equally interested with us), promising her assistance freely by her ambassadors, we were the more willing with the greatest speed to do the part of a good surgeon in cutting off from the body of the public weal the members so putrified, who have refused before to be healed by remedies both honourable and ordinary. Notwithstanding that sentence of forfeiture was given against them they do not leave off from continuing their treasons and joining with our other ignominious traitors to give more vigour and force to their rebellion. You shall also signify what diligence we have made in raising an army to repress the insolence of the said Papists and their associates and to break their designs by pursuing their persons and rasing their houses and castles which before were receptacles of Spaniards, Jesuits and seminary priests, at this time witnesses of their unnatural rebellion against the King, distributing also their lands and heritages to others and putting to death some of their associates.

You shall signify likewise that, notwithstanding our severe procedure, in respect of the greatness of the principals of the rebel faction and their power in arms, it is certainly to be feared that they will continue their plots to establish their Papal dominion to the hazard of the religion and the ruin of our states, if it be not prevented by foresight and forces. Thus, to obviate the imminent danger, we, by the advice of our Council, have found it very necessary and expedient to demand from the Estates (being not less interested than ourselves, should the Spaniard gain a footing in our dominions) the best advice and assistance for bringing to a speedy conclusion this work so happily begun by us.

You shall also demand that, according to equity and reason and the treaties of peace, all our subjects enjoying the benefit of our laws and who have suffered prejudice (ont esté iusques icy damnifies) shall hereafter receive just redress.

You shall not fail to bring back the confirmation under their great seal of the late treaty as it was drawn up, signed and sealed here under our great seal.

You shall cause to be erased from their registers (if it be there) the narrative of the treaty, which their last ambassadors brought here (leurs ambassadeurs derniers porterunt par deça), in the terms in which it was first drawn up (conceu).

"Fait et exhibée le 14em de Feburier 1595. William Stewart."

2⅓ pp. Copy. Endorsed: Copie of Coronel Stuartes instructions exhibited to the General States. Feb. 14, 1594.

469. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 14.]

The Duke is expected to return to-morrow with Sir Robert Melville, Sir John Carmichael and the rest of his company. The Secretary says that the Duke has given remission for Gight, Cluny and others, who have persuaded Huntly and Errol to depart the country; that they have given caution for 40,000l. apiece for their departure before 15th of March; that nevertheless the remissions for Gight and the others will not be in their hands till the departure of the Earls, and till the King shall allow thereof. By these means the Secretary says the Duke has left the country in good quietness. In these matters Lord Forbes (49) intends the agreement of Argyll (20) and Atholl (13), whereof he is in good hope, and to travail for their enlargement as also to see how the Duke's (6) doings are here accepted, and thereafter to write with certainty to you.

As to Balwearie, the fine is not set down as yet, but if the King (4) had power to do it without danger he would yet put him to further trial, perceiving that he has said little to the purpose. For he says that one Kinnaird (Kenarde) told him that there were two bands made by the Earls, one in his [Balwearie's] hands and the other in Grant's, and inasmuch as he spoke truly in saying that he had a band, he thinks that it is also true that Grant had the other. But Kinnaird confesses that he said so, but knew it only by hearsay from two other merchantmen, who are sent for, and Kinnaird is stayed till they come. So I suspect nothing will come further of this matter against Grant, but "he saide and he saide" and so be given over. (fn. 5) I think the King will yet "hold" his journey (but I do not know when) to Stirling, but will make no great stay. Wherein I still see the Chancellor prevails most to guide the King and was never so great as he is now. Hercules Stewart confesses that Bothwell blames Spott most for drawing him into these courses with the Papist Earls (crewe) and [speaks] as if Spott was guilty of the murder of old Spott, his father-in-law, but he can say nothing against Grant. The King labours the excommunication of Spott, who, with Bothwell, will be excommunicated very shortly, or else the ministry will little please the King. This morning William Hume told me that the King greatly marvelled that he heard nothing from England, seeing that he had followed her Majesty's advice anent the Papist Earls and made a war in his land which he might have avoided, and now being left to himself he knows not what it means. This is the greatest matter noted here for the enemy to take hold on, and which you know how to handle for her Majesty's service here, without consideration wherein God forbid you should return hither. It is noted here that in our Court you "can not do for your self"—a matter not a little hindering your negotiations here, as you will find more than ever you did, if you come without sight of her Majesty's better grace to you.

As to the Ireland matters, as opportunity offers so we shall make another trial for answer. But if need be Mr. John Colville's means should be embraced. If his estate were better he would do more, but he is so sore held back by the Chancellor that he is in great distress, wherein he cannot here help himself. By reason of his forfeiture his greatest causes have still to be amended by the laws, which cannot be attempted with any hope of success so long as the Chancellor rules all. Yet everyone "comes upon" him and he is forced to content them, so that he is in great need. To uphold him for a better time for her Majesty's service, whereto he is wholly given, it were great policy now to relieve him. Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.

pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

470. Roger Aston to [Robert Bowes]. [Feb. 14.]

I have not written since the 29th because of my absence from these parts, being in this late progress with the King, and having no matter "worthy." Since my last there is little done concerning matters of estate, except that which has passed in the north. The matters which were "tempering" now are further discovered. There was a commission sent to the Duke to hear the affairs of all, but not to conclude. This commission was granted in quiet manner at the suit of Huntly's friends, who undertook to betray Bothwell, and upon that respect were the rather heard. Whether Bothwell understood this or not, I cannot tell. But Cluny and Gight came to Aberdeen and offered very largely for themselves. Huntly and Errol have been heard, and all matters agreed upon concerning their departing out of the country. They have given in surety under the pain of 40,000l. to depart between this and 15th March. This was concluded there, provided always that it be ratified here by the King and Council. I know the King will not proceed in this without the ministers' advice. It is thought strange by many that these forfeited and excommunicated traitors should have any conditions. Many of the best affected rather allow their passing out of the country than their "byding," unless the King had means to entertain forces against them. I have conferred with the best and wisest, who are of opinion that it is less peril to the King and cause that they were [out] of the country, in respect that England will neither assist them [i.e. the best and wisest] nor join in the action by their assistance. This is the common conclusion here.

The Duke is on his journey out of the north. There was haste made of his return, but his companies would abide no longer than they got "presentt" pay. This night there is a post come out of Caithness declaring that the Earl is coming to make his obedience, and that Huntly, Errol and Bothwell are ready to embark to pass [out] of the country. If this be true it appears that they have given in their sureties and accepted without condition "of further avisementt." Yet the Laird of Bogie, sent from the Duke, affirms there is no further acceptation of their offers than as the King shall think good. As for Bothwell, there is none allowed to intercommune with him. The truth of all these matters you shall be advertised of by my next.

The Duke will be here within these three or four days. The ministers are now about to excommunicate Bothwell and Spott. They are something "stretter" to proceed against Spott than against the Earl, yet upon Hercules's confession, that Spott was the chief instrument who "agred" the Papist Earls and Bothwell, they will proceed. Hercules Stewart has been examined sundry times, but no great matters [have been] discovered by him, neither is it likely that he was made acquainted with any great matters. It is uncertain what shall become of him. He has many "menerce" [? manors] and some great enemies. Mr. John Colville is greatly condemned for his taking. There are good appearances that the King will settle his estate, for by the committing of Argyll and Atholl with the rest the Highlands are "lyke" to be settled. They shall find caution before they be relieved to make redress for "byganes" and for times to come. Atholl has given in his caution and is to be relieved. Argyll would give in caution for times coming, but not for times past.

I hope there shall be good order kept for the Borders. They promise for Buccleuch, Cessford and Johnstone. Lord Herries, being made Warden, dealt very earnestly with me to be a "mene" to her Majesty that he might be met with the like "gestes" (fn. 6) as he would be ready to offer, willing me to assure that for his part he would be ready to do all good offices for the furtherance of "gestes" and maintenance of peace and amity. Since our conferences in this town he has written to me to see what he may look for. In my opinion it were not amiss you made a little note of his offers with assurances of the like. Thus far I assure you he makes a very honourable report "or" (sic) her Majesty and of the favour he received there.

Yesterday the King sat in the Exchequer Chamber, where he greatly contented those who would see him have of his own to maintain his estate. He there "opened outt" the abuses of the officers of estate and what loss he had sustained by their doings, desiring a present reformation and that he might have of his own whereupon to entertain his estate, for he would be no longer abused. If the course intended be followed forth he will "crab" [embitter] many in taking his own, but he will content far more by living on his own rather than oppressing his subjects by taxation and daily running into great debt besides. All which might be helped if "gestes" were used and care taken [of] his profit. Sir James Sandilands is in great danger. The "sergentes" [surgeons] tell me they have no hope of him. This day I was with him. He is of good courage and hopes well. Holyroodhouse. Signed: Roger Aston.

pp. Holograph. No address or endorsement.

471. Mr. John Colville to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 15.] Printed in Colville's Letters, p. 140.

O., (fn. 7) as I wrote before, returned this week. C. (Huntly) and all his colleagues have given in bonds to depart the country, except Bothwell (N.) who, notwithstanding, will depart; for he fears that his brother, Caithness, will betray him, because he is making his own peace. I believe Bothwell "meanis to Dunkirk," because Captain Foster [? Forret cf. p. 538] has gone before. I think it is to prepare his way. Please keep Junior's letter "to be our grownd." He is presently here with "Priour," (fn. 8) and still affirms to "mak all good" he has promised, and will himself be in the Isles in the latter end of March, for then council is to be held whether they shall go over or not. Let a friendly letter be sent to encourage him till we see "ane approved service," whereof I "put" no doubt, and let this course be the rather entertained, because the King (Q.) and "Priour" take no thought of that matter. H. (The Chancellor) and P. (the Queen) are "weill agreit," which O. will think to be great inconstancy in P. when he shall hear of it. I (Y.) thanked God that Audin (Elizabeth) liked my "quatuor" (service) and that my Mecenas is of the same opinion. But for "the quatuor of Audin" (service of her Majesty) it were a hell to live in Parumper (Scotland). Add these few words to your cipher.

1 p. In Mr. John Colville's hand. Addressed in the same hand. Endorsed by Robert Bowes: "Y. Y. Y. xvo Febr. London xxo ejusdem, 1594."

472. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 19.]

On Saturday last the Duke returned to Burntisland, tarrying there with Sir Robert Melville till Sunday afternoon, coming then to Leith, and so to the Court, where he, Sir Robert, Sir John Carmichael, Dunipace and the rest of the Duke's council were well received. On Monday the Duke made declaration of his proceedings to the King, as follows. He had caused the whole of the noblemen, barons and landed gentlemen in those parts to give caution under great sums of money to observe the King's peace, good rule and quietness in the country; and no ways to receive, supply, intercommune, shew favour or have intelligence with the King's declared traitors, Huntly and Errol, nor with their associates, nor with any "Dunybrissellers," nor with Jesuits, seminary priests or Papists, nor with such as were "denuncitt" to the horn or fugitive for being at the late conflict against Argyll. He and his council have received the offers of Cluny and Gight to be made to the King, the Kirk and Murray's friends, and to be allowed or disallowed as the King and Council shall find them reasonable. He has promised neither respite nor remission for Donibristle but by advice of his Majesty and Council, whose resolution therein is to be returned to Gight and Cluny within six weeks. The Duke and his council suffered Huntly and Errol to be indirectly "intercommoned" with in quiet places, and to be moved in the end by their special kinsmen and friends to find caution, each under the pain of 40,000l. Scots, to depart out of the country before 15th March, not to return again without the King's licence, nor to practice in the meantime against the King, the religion or country, and without any promise by the Duke for respite, remission or favour.

He had also held Justice Courts in Aberdeen and Elgin for the punishment of the highland thieves and broken men, had executed sundry of them, and had given commission to certain barons in Murray and Aberdeen to search and punish such offenders. He offered besides to give account of the escheats and composition taken for the maintenance of himself, council and companies. All this was found very thankful and dutiful service by the King and Council, and the same night an act of Council was made thereupon.

The north is in great quietness, but there was no dealing with Angus or Bothwell, whom no doubt the King would also "wrack" by all possible means. Last week one Milner (Millner), who convoyed Angus out of the castle, was executed.

Some say Bothwell has already 6000 marks Scots, and looks for as much more and then to depart. But for certain the King yesterday got a great advantage of him, for Hercules Stewart and one Sym were hanged on the gibbet here in the market-place. William Hume, because he was Hercules's taker, did what he could to have got their pardons, but the King would no way grant it. Francis Trotter is saved, and with suspicion (but without cause) to have "putt out" Hercules. They died very well, freely commending themselves to God, not confessing any great matters, wherewith Hercules was never acquainted. "At Harcules going up the ladder and turninge over the ladder suche showtes and cryes were made as was never since the Lard of Maynes was executed." Yesterday also the ministers of this "diose" and of the presbyteries hereabouts, charged to come by the King's missives, have excommunicated Bothwell and are to intimate the same on Sunday next in the churches here and hereabouts. [They proceeded] upon an act of the Kirk that whosoever "intercommons" with excommunicates ought also to be excommunicated; wherein Bothwell is found guilty, by his own hand and by testimony, as by Balwearie's confession and the band produced is "tryed."

Balwearie and Kinnaird have their remissions, and Balwearie is to pay 12,000 marks Scots. I see no appearance of anything to be tried against Grant, though he may be further "put at." Argyll still remains in ward and is now charged to make account for such things as his grandfather, uncle and father also had of the King. To which he is willing to answer on condition that he may have allowance for such charges as were for the King's service. It is marvelled what is meant by "captiving" of this good young Earl, who was so "franck" for the King against his rebels, "considering he maketh every way very faire offers." He himself thinks he finds little favour in the Chancellor, who seems to wish Argyll well, and who now guides all the affairs of the King and Queen, with the goodwill and love of the Queen, who has caused the President and all her council to join in friendship with him, so that now she as well as the King rests on his advice in all things.

Yesterday the King sent Mr. Peter Young with a proposition in writing to the ministers, as to whether persons forfeited and at the horn ought to be excommunicated or not. This question they have not yet answered, neither is it thought that without good consideration it may well be answered; but you shall be advertised. "Allwaies" [i.e. at any rate] if it be granted it will be put in practice against Spott. Yesterday before going to "the disjune" the King asked me if I had heard anything "from above" yet, looking still for her Majesty's support, the want whereof the Kirk and well devoted to the amity here think to be dangerous at this time, and so almost all of those I speak with wish me to certify that, for the benefit of the common cause, you may "advise the best" therein. As to the King's and Queen's journey to Stirling I cannot yet say; but it is likely to be agreeable [i.e. according] to the Chancellor's advice. I hear they are now "aboutward" to call back all tacks and feus of the King's lands since King James I.'s time, which, in regard of the general malcontentment of many, will either not be done at all or but used "to few and suche as they please." Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.

Postscript.—Hume and Ochiltree are now well agreed, and Ochiltree is at his pleasure abroad. The King has signed Mr. John Colville's relaxation, and I hope he shall be able shortly to do some good service to her Majesty (A.) if he had some support in the meantime. At present only want is his hindrance to do as he would for her. "Allwaies" he keeps watch anent Ireland (E.5) as much as he can, and if danger comes there he is in a good course. But the King has willed him to seek the Chancellor's favour, which he must and, I think, will do, however he speed.

pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes. Names partly in cipher, deciphered.

473. Laird of Easter Wemyss to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 21.]

Being on my "voyage" I send this "to remember you of my adoo," and, seeing I have her Majesty's good-will, I put no doubt that expedition shall be used. I need no other witness but my long and faithful service (and you are one that knows it best); and so if I be not remembered, it will not only cause me think my fortune hard "by" [beyond] all others, but make others cold, who have seen and known my goodwill and service. I "luik" Sir Robert Cecil will be my great friend. Ware (Var). Signed: Est Veimes.

p. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

474. [Mr. John Colville] to [Robert Bowes]. [Feb. 22.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 141–142.

Yours of the 14th came in very good "season" for satisfaction of James Campbell of Lawers (Junior), who, hearing the same in the presence of your servant, was very content, assuring us that on the 23rd instant he shall go to the Isles (July) and Islanders (August), and about the 6th or 7th March send us certainty of their intentions this spring, which he shall "dress" to her Majesty's service either by detaining them or making you "forsein" of their embarking, etc.

As I wrote before, the Duke has returned and his service [is] allowed. By one "trusty" of that company I learn that the Papists had a purpose lately to get his Majesty into their hands. The enterprisers ("who are yit gesset at, not knawin") should have had 4000 crowns, of which Huntly should have furnished 2000 and Errol and Angus 1000 each. But Errol, by means of his lady, was dissuaded from joining therein with them, and so that project failed. It was and is suspected that the King (Q.) knew of that matter and was not unwilling. But Y.'s (Colville's) "author" says within three days he shall know his mind, for he will offer to take or kill Huntly (C.) if the King (Q.) likes thereof. As that is refused or accepted you (S.) shall know by the next [letter]. Yesternight Glenorchy was "enlarged" and this day it is hoped that Argyll and Grant shall also be set at liberty; so Balwearie's accusation that Grant had the other band for the deprivation of the King, crowning of the Prince and liberty of conscience is likely to suffer no more trial.

Concerning Bothwell (N.), he "myndit" to embark at Caithness and has indeed sent one before to Dunkirk with large promises to annoy her Majesty if he had any support of ships or men, intending to have himself arrived at Calais and from thence to have gone to Gravelines (Gravelin) and by convoy of Captain Forret (fn. 9) (brother to faithful James Forret) to Brussels. But, upon what occasion I know not, he has with great haste come out of Caithness and was seen about the 13th instant beside St. Johnstone in miserable equipage, accompanied only by two, and walking "a foot" The man mentioned in some of my former letters, whom his Majesty "uses to try him by," is sent to "explore" him, so that I think verily one of these days he shall be trapped. Caithness has taken remission and is daily "looked for" here, which I think has hasted the other to depart.

Albeit the Papists have found caution to depart the realm, yet no man thinks that they mind to keep promise; neither are their cautioners in any danger "in cais so be," for they dwell in the north and no order can be had of them unless a new preparation were sent thither, which is not easy to be done. There was a bruit here that some called Lentrons of St. Andrews were executed "partially" in England, whereat his Majesty was grieved, as was given out. But William Hume this day said to me he heard no such matter of his Majesty. [Unsigned.]

Postscript.—Hercules Stewart is executed, and one Sim with him; and since then one John Ott, (fn. 10) servant to Bothwell, is killed at Dunfermline by William Hume "becaus he was a stryiker of Da. Home, his brother, when Bothwell slew him."

pp. In John Colville's hand. Addressed in the same hand: "To S." Endorsed by Robert Bowes: "Y. Y. Y. xxi Februarii. London primo Marcii 1594."

475. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 22.]

The Duke's proceeding in the north is well accepted here, and no man (notwithstanding many reports that he had not done his duty) seeks to charge him for any of his doings; and some of the Duke's company on this journey (I do not say the Duke) think that Lord Forbes has not well assisted against Huntly and Errol, but been so indifferent therein that he reserves himself for the best opportunity to be taken by either of the parties for his best advantage. Thus much in few words to certify you how both these parties would excuse themselves by privy casting of one's fault on another. "Allwaies" Forbes is spoiled by the loose men, and this matter is thus quietly rather "grudged at" by both sides than openly dealt in. It will pass over with quietness, I see, on both sides; and Huntly and Errol will depart, and that country thereby and by orders with Gight and Cluny is likely to be in great peace for the present. But I leave this to the letter of Forbes (49) now returned.

Bothwell has departed out of Caithness, some say to the sea for foreign countries, but it is thought he has quietly and privately come into these parts. He cannot be long untaken, if it be so, for many means are made to catch him, and he is very likely to fall into the King's hands. On Thursday last William Hume went to Dunfermline to search for some of Bothwell's, but got none saving John Note, (fn. 11) whom he killed because he was with Bothwell at the killing of David Hume, William's brother; so that I see not but his case is hard. Of Angus I hear nothing at all: he is so quiet and no way yet dealing for himself that it is marvelled what he means. His eldest son is here with Morton, who has been long sick, but now is well amending and to go shortly to his house at Dalkeith. As to Grant, he is at liberty and found not guilty of any of the matters objected against him, even as I looked for.

Glenorchy (Glenurquhart) is at liberty, and Argyll is advised to set himself at liberty also. Albeit it be upon harder condition, I think he will free himself of ward, which he must do by the Chancellor, who absolutely guides the King's and Queen's affairs now. Lady Thirlestane [is] also in especial favour with the Queen by the means certified your worship about Christmas last. As for the King's journey to Stirling, and the Queen's, that is "like to be still as the Chancelour pleaseth to advise." Parliament is likely to hold, missives being sent for sundry to come to the Convention for preparation of all things for the same.

The Convention is appointed [for] 12th March. But as yet I know not of any great matters to be dealt [with] saving for the "reducing" and establishing of the King's rents and casualties to his profit.

The King's question "proponed" to the ministers is referred to the next General Assembly. Here is news, but I do not think it true, that [a] ship of St. Andrews has been taken and Alan Lentren, the master and owner, hanged or slain, with others in the ship. The King, being told of it, is not a little moved, "tho the [though they] say (but litle) that it must be mended as it may, etc." Thus everything here, by reason of the want of the King's contentment from England, is not taken in the best part.

I am advertised very credibly that the Master of Caithness has forcibly taken a fly boat of 16 "chalders," which was William Lamb's; and that the same is "fraught" with ten lasts of "barrell fish," with hides and tallow to persuade that it is a merchant ship; and that mariners are forced to go in her; that in her there are to pass a Frenchman, a Dutchman and an Englishman from Dunkirk or Calais; and that this boat will take a pilot in Yarmouth road; also that these men are the persons whom Huntly rescued at Aberdeen and who brought the gold. But whether this boat has gone or not I cannot learn. Edinburgh. Signed: Geo. Nicolson.

pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

476. Offers for Argyll's liberty. [Feb. 22.] Printed in Calderwood, v. 362.

Postscript. (fn. 12) —"Th'Erle of Argiles offers." That he shall find caution to be answerable for his men, tenants and servants in time coming, according to the general band, acts of Parliament and laws of the country. As for times bygone, he has satisfied the most part of the noblemen who have got scathe. He desires liberty out of ward, and within forty days thereafter he shall satisfy all others who have action against him or have been troubled by any of his, or else enter into ward again under the sum of 40,000l. So long as he is detained in ward he will neither get ease of the parties nor yet a redress of the broken men. Providing always that his cautioners be not "acted" for the "herschipps" done upon the Gordons.

Item, that there is nothing that lies in his power that his Majesty will burden him with in settling of the oppression of the country but he will do, and give proof thereof. Item, if his Majesty will not be content with these "heads," he desires to have free ward within one mile of the castle, seeing that the rest of the noblemen who were warded had the same. [In the margin: "Mar had that. The King answered that rather the rest should be restrayned their fre ward then that Argile should have this granted."]

These offers are refused, "to the suspicion of some mistery to be ment." Yet Argyll is advised by F. to get himself out of ward, "and if upon never so hard conditions"; which I think he will do. S. must have the thanks of his liberty when it comes.

¾ p. In George Nicolson's hand. Endorsed by Burghley's clerk: "Offers of Argyle by Nicolson. Edinburgh. 22 Febr. 1594."

477. Roger Aston to Robert Bowes. [Feb. 22.]

I know you have been sufficiently informed of the present estate, yet I write this "to acompeny your other letteres and to kepe my selfe in your good remembrenes." The Duke's proceedings in the north are authorised by an act of Council, which I would have sent you with this packet but that since the conclusion there has come a privy commandment from the King to the Clerk of the Council not to register the act before it is altered in some words. By my next it shall come, and the cause why it was altered.

Huntly and Errol are preparing themselves and will depart for certain. Although they have obtained no condition for their livings, yet it appears there will be an "oversightt" according to their behaviour when they are out of the country. As yet no part of their livings has been taken up, but by themselves. They are bound not to practise against the estate of the country or religion, and to remain forth of the country during the King's pleasure. I hear no word of Angus. The Duke has got a gift (which is presently passing the seals) of his living and rights, and takes up the living. As for Bothwell, sundry bruits have come that he has embarked, "butt no sertenty for serten." His determination was to have gone, [and] and stayed only upon Hercules's return. But what course he now takes is yet uncertain here. Caithness was upon his journey and daily looked for, but as yet we see him not. It is thought the death of Hercules will alter their resolutions.

In the beginning of these actions Forbes and his friends were frank, but as soon as matters began to "temper" he withdrew "to behould." Gight and Cluny have undertaken to keep the country in quietness, chiefly Huntly's bounds. Their remission is promised them upon performance of such things as are laid to their charge in that I wrote before. William Hume, Sir George's brother, is daily occupied either in slaying or taking Bothwell's people. Yesterday he slew John Noutt in Dunfermline and took another. This day he has brought in two men of Kelso.

I wrote to you before that Bothwell had come to the Borders. It was Hercules and not he. Mr. John Colville concurs with William [Hume] in these actions. He has handled the matter so that he dare not remain in his own house or come forth in the day. The Queen and the Chancellor "are al one." He has "out soutt" all the Queen's council who were his "unfrendes." Argyll and Atholl still remain in ward. I cannot see any great care taken to satisfy her Majesty's desire concerning Ireland. I have pressed to answer the letter, but it is answered "it shal be," yet it is not. The Secretary says it need not.

I would be glad to see you, yet because I love you I had rather want your company than see your disgrace. If you come hither without being well armed to give contentment you will find a great alteration in this estate, and you will not be able to do what perhaps is expected at your hand. This Parliament goes forward. If that course be followed forth that is laid down it is likely to breed a great discontentment, for it touches so many and is likely to breed so great inconvenience that it is thought the King will not be able to attain what he looked for. Sir James Sandilands is well recovered of his hurt. There is information come hither that one Alan Lentorne of St. Andrews, being drawn into England by an Englishman to fetch some beans that he bought from him, has been put by this man into the hands of some of the friends [of those] who were taken by the said Lentorne and executed at St. Andrews, as you know. It is said here that they have hanged the said Lentorne. This stirs up the coals. His friends desire that they "maye tak agene." This is in the mouths of many. In my next I shall write more of this. Holyroodhouse. Signed: R. A.

pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.


  • 1. "B" is here deciphered as Atholl. It more commonly signifies the King.
  • 2. If Colville here uses the same cipher as Nicolson, D. signifies the Kirk. See endorsement to following letter.
  • 3. Colville elswehere uses C. as a cipher for Huntly.
  • 4. Moysie, followed by Calderwood, imputes treachery to him. "Mr. John Coluill was his apprehender, and for that disgracit, because he promisit him his lyfe." (Moysie, 124.)
  • 5. It will rest on hearsay and be "given over" for want of proof.
  • 6. Apparently gest or geist, a gallant action, an exploit. See Jamieson's Dictionary.
  • 7. Apparently the Duke. It is thus deciphered in the printed Letters.
  • 8. Deciphered as Argyll in the Letters. The identity is clear from the later references to him.
  • 9. Cf. No. 471, and Vol. x., p. 155.
  • 10. But see next document, where he is called Note.
  • 11. "Ott" in the previous document.
  • 12. Probably appended to the preceding letter.