James VI, March 1595

Pages 541-562

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

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James VI, March 1595

478. James VI. to Burghley. [March 1.]

Notwithstanding the former misdemeanour of our servitor, Mr. John Colville, we have upon princely pity and compassion not only received him to our grace and favour, but upon hope of his future loyalty are "deliberat" by our benefits to encourage him to "hold out" the good course begun, as we have at length written to Mr. Robert Bowes, referring the special information hereof to his sufficiency. In the meantime we expect by your favourable means that you will procure such speedy satisfaction herein at your sovereign's hands as may discharge us of our promise made to the said Mr. John Colville, whereof we will account and accept very kindly and "remember" thereon with all gratitude convenient. And whereas we have heard you were informed that our said servitor has not satisfied us "in" the plate and money received by him for our use (fn. 1) when he was last employed thither (extending to the sum of 3000l. sterling money), his "compte" and service at that time heard, signed and allowed by the auditors of our Exchequer, herewith at our command sent up together with our present acceptance of that service, shall clear him of any such calumny or imputation in all time coming. Let it not seem strange that we have thus turned our displeasure into compassion towards him, neither let us thereby be thought "contrair," but rather "lyk" to ourself; for to this hour we never pardoned unwillingly nor willingly punished, albeit the frequent and presumptuous rebellions of our nation have much more "procured" punishment than pardon. But we have ever wished "recipiscens" and amendment more than obstinacy and "induratioun," as our clemency "upon" thousands of subjects bears record, and we hold mercy the repose of our conscience, the staff of our estate, the chief ornament and note of every Christian empire, especially when it is extended "upoun" such as for open offences are willing and able to make open amendment, as our said servitor without respect of slander or peril has lately done, yea, even further than was looked for—in giving an honest proof of his repentance by his late action against some of the principals who offended in the same degree as he did. Holyroodhouse. Signed: James R.

pp. Addressed. Endorsed by Burghley's clerk.

479. [James VI.] to [Robert Bowes]. [March 1.] Cott. Calig. D.ii. fol. 190. Transcript in Harl. MS. 4648, p. 239. Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 142–144.

Upon the penitent humiliation and promised loyalty of Mr. John Colville, and at the earnest suit of sundry of our faithful subjects, we are not only moved to compassion, but, also, finding him acquit himself very honestly in a service lately laid to his charge (to the end he may be encouraged to hold out that good course without defection till we may find some other commodity fit for him), we have caused peruse his accounts, finding ourselves in debt to him in 1266l. sterling. We have turned him to receive payment thereof from our gratuity, praying that he or his agent may, by your favourable recommendation to your sovereign, procure the speedy delivery of the said sum, and his discharge thereupon shall be as sufficient as if it were signed with our own hands. We have written to the same effect to the Treasurer, referring him to you for particular information. Deliver the letter and return your answer with diligence. And whereas we are informed that he is traduced there by some, alleging he returned not to us the plate and money received by virtue of our commission before our going to Denmark, his allowance in that service, signed by the auditors of Exchequer (which at our command is sent up), and our present affirmation of his sincerity in that behalf, shall purge him of any such imputation. It cannot seem strange to you, who know the "naturall" of our people and the attempts of Bothwell, that we have turned our displeasure into compassion [etc. as in the preceding].

Concerning the Irish matters mentioned in her Majesty's last letter, we have deferred to make answer, not for unwillingness or dislike thereof, but only for taking order with Argyll. Before he be enlarged, or immediately after, he shall receive our commandment that good friendship and "neighbourhea[d]" be kept in that behalf, and such corrected as would presume anything to the contrary, omitting no occasion that may strengthen the amity. Holyroodhouse. Signature burned off.

2 pp. No fly-leaf or address. Edges destroyed by fire.

480. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [March 3.]

All things here are so quiet, without alteration, that I have thus long forborne to write. At this Parliament (to hold or not hold as the Convention of the 12th inst. shall resolve) it is in advice, for augmentation of the King's revenues, to annex to the Crown the surplus of the thirds appointed of old for the maintenance and planting of ministers in all quarters of this realm (which is yet far from being done), and also to call in and "nul" all feus and tacks of the King's lands since King James I., and with present composition for money and more rent to the King to sett them again. By the former the ministers here would be void of livings to furnish unfurnished places with teachers of the Word, and by the latter so many of all degrees [would be] "damnified," that in regard of malcontentment in the Kirk and commonweal it is likely that these motions shall either not be thus strictly dealt in or the Parliament be prorogued. The Secretary knows not whether it will hold or not.

On Sunday "was 8 daies" Bothwell was excommunicated in all churches hereabouts, not only for his intercommuning and banding with the Papist Earls, but for other causes appearing in this note enclosed.

After the Duke's proceeding in the north was by act of Council allowed as good service and his accounts discharged, it was seen that it was a discharge also of his lieutenancy, and therefore it was made up with a reservation of the lieutenancy for all further services there in case of need, which is not likely to be, for Errol means to keep promise with the Duke and depart. Mr. George Leslie, his agent, is here dealing in private matters. Errol is much malcontent that the Gordons should have the honour of the field when he himself was the chief charger and winner thereof, albeit the greatest forces were Huntly's, who is also to depart according to promise and for the quietness of the country. Angus is in quiet places among his friends, no way dealing for himself, because the time does not serve for him. But "I looke he shall wrack in dede." Argyll is now at agreement and is to be at liberty as soon as all his cautioners shall be received. But Atholl, having suffered his cautioner to pay for his proper debt and to put himself to the horn, cannot yet get any to be his sureties, so that he is likely to "lye by it." Yet by this course the Highlands are also in great quietness, the Borders are at present in wonderful peace, and generally all this country is as calm as was seen these many years before. Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.

[Note enclosed in Nicolson's hand.] As I advertised you at Christmas, so it proves that Buccleuch (69) and Cessford (70) are the greatest with the Queen (5) and procured her (E.) favour to the Chancellor (51), though the King (B.) had the name of doing it. So those two still carry it and intend to "bange out" the matter, and the Duke (6) gives place to them and has gone with Mar (21) to where Mar's greatest charge is; which charge the Queen has "motioned" "to be taken to themselves" from Mar. Both the Duke and Mar are grieved at this and blame the Chancellor for the same, whom Argyll (20) also blames for the hardness used to him; and the King is not a little malcontent to see things that he does not like, and perchance will take such course as shall little please the Chancellor, Buccleuch or Cessford. This Nicolson (Mor) says is the greatest matter likely now to make a "welter" in Scotland (Ter), which he leaves to Mr. Colville's (67) report, who is likely, I assure you, to be able to do best services in the Court (Var) here for her Majesty (A.) and will do it unfeignedly. Sir George Hume (58) is also upon a good ground for the service of her Majesty and the King, and wishes Bowes (D.) well. As to Huntly (9) and Errol (12), there are such dealings for them and by them that I cannot guess what it will come to. But short time will discover it. Her Majesty's support would keep the King firm against the Papists, as "in knowledge" his heart leads him to be, and would bind him to her.

pp. Addressed. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

Enclosure with the same.

(Question as to persons forfeited.)

"Ane generall questioun proponit be his Majestie to the ministers, quhilk he desyres to be voittit amangis thame that are assemblit in Edinburgh this day."

Whether all persons "forfaultit" for most notorious and treasonable crimes against his Majesty's person and estate ought not likewise to be "strokin" with the spiritual sword of excommunication, "that as thai are cassin off frome the civile body of ane Christiane common weill," so they might thereon be declared to be cast off from the Christian Kirk, since the standing of the Kirk must be understood to be inseperably joined to the standing of the commonweal. Since the civil magistrate has by his law and practice played his part by putting to his horn all who are excommunicated by the Kirk, why should not the Kirk put to their horn those that are declared enemies to the King and estate, under whose wing their christian exercise is protected and preserved ?

Response.—"Findis that the mater twichis the haill Kirk of this realme, and therefore can nocht be resolvit be the brether here present, but suld be remittit to the Generall Assemble."

Causes of Bothwell's excommunication.—The brethren, having considered and weighed his Majesty's suit and desire, and after long reasoning having considered things that were produced since the 4th instant by his Majesty's commissioners with other circumstances "efter specifeit" :—viz., the "heidis" of the band subscribed by the aforesaid Earls and Bothwell among the rest: (2) Balwearie's deposition subscribed with his own hand, produced before the brethren on the 4th instant by the Justice Clerk and Provost of Edinburgh: (3) The recognising of the said "heidis" and articles by his Majesty's Secret Council and Session to be the very subscription and "handwryttis" of the said Earls and other subscribers, verified by an act of Council produced this day: (4) Bothwell's continual resort [to] and residence in those parts with the excommunicated rebels "contrare" the acts of the Kirk inhibiting society and fellowship with excommunicates under pain of incurring the same censure: (5) The constant testification of brethren in those parts that Bothwell was at Menmuir the time of the making of the said band: (6) The letter subscribed with Bothwell's hand directed to sundry presbyteries of this realm showing in effect that he would be forced to join with the excommunicated rebels unless the Kirk obtained at his Majesty's hand some favour for him. Lastly, Bothwell's "prophane and leud lyff"—have concluded that upon the notoriety and circumstances foresaid the Kirk may proceed to the sentence of excommunication against Bothwell.

Decimo octavo Februarii 1594.—According to the former conclusion the Presbytery of Edinburgh, with commissioners from sundry presbyteries of the country, after invocation of God's name, did excommunicate Francis, sometime Earl Bothwell, and in name and authority of Jesus Christ did cut off the said Francis from the company of the Kirk and deliver him to Satan, to the destruction of his flesh, that the spirit might be safe in the day of the Lord, if it please Him to return and reclaim him by true repentance, "utherwayis" to his just condemnation everlastingly, and ordained intimation to be made hereof to all the brethren of the realm by every pastor.

1⅓ pp. In a Scottish hand. Endorsed by George Nicolson.

481. Roger Aston to Robert Bowes. [March 4.]

Touching our Papist lords, sure advertisement is come that they have an enterprise in hand for the surprising of the King's person. They give out that they will depart according as they are bound, which is between this and the 15th instant. We are credibly informed that Huntly is diverted from that purpose, but Errol seems to make himself ready and assures his cautioners they shall incur no danger for him, if the purpose intended does not take effect, as I believe it will not; for the King is "forsene" of the matter, and to prevent all "occasiones" the Master of Gray and the Master of Ogilvy are this day commanded to depart out of the town as suspected to be of the said plot, and have come hither for the same cause. Huntly has made means to "have a longer daye" for his departure, which is altogether refused. The King departs to Stirling either this night or to-morrow, where he remains till the Convention on the 12th, when all matters that are to be propounded in Parliament shall be concluded. Great matters are "in hed" at present. The Queen has made a motion to the King that she may have the keeping of the Prince and the castle of Edinburgh. This has troubled the King these four days past very mightily, and he is highly offended with the plot-layers of this course, esteeming it altogether to "atend" to his own overthrow. The motioners of this matter to the Queen are Buccleuch and Cessford, yet they are not esteemed the "ground leeres" [layers]. The King has sent to the Chancellor to know if he were participant of this purpose. He denies that ever he was made acquainted with any such matter; yet he is suspected by reason of the greatness that is between him and the two lairds, by whose means he has become great with the Queen. They, chiefly Buccleuch, have obtained two great matters by the Queen's means, the remission of Balwearie and Johnstone. But the King says that it shall not lie "in al there poweres" to remove the Prince out of the hands of those that have him. The Duke and Mar have gone to Stirling highly offended with the proceedings of our two lairds. Argyll is to be relieved this day and goes to them. None of them knows of the King's going thither, for it is secret. I write of this matter to none but to yourself, in hope the letter will come safe to your hand, or else I had not written so plain. Use it as you please. It is a secret here and "extantt" by wise men to be a matter of great consequences and further meaning than "every one sese unto." The King has communicated this to none but two, to whom he has found himself very "greved."

I enclose a copy of the act of Council concerning the Duke's proceedings in the north. Have me in your remembrance, for if I be not relieved by her Majesty I must "take me" to some other means than to live in Court. Holyroodhouse. Signed: R. A.

Postscript.—Caithness should have come in, but I see no appearance of it. It appears his "tarr[y]ing outt" is upon some further enterprises. It was reported that Bothwell had been ambushed. "Butt no souch matter."

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

Enclosure with the same.

(Act of approbation of the Duke of Lennox's proceedings in the North.)

The King and Council having heard the report of the Lieutenant and the councillors "adjonit" with him, chiefly the taking of surety, occupying of castles, etc., and lastly the receiving of two bands from the friends of Huntly and Errol for their unconditional departure from the realm during his Majesty's pleasure, etc., it is declared that they have done acceptable service according to the terms of their commission, and especially in receiving the said bands without condition. Therefore the Lieutenant and his councillors are exonerated of their duty hereanent: the said commission to endure until expressly discharged. "Extracto de libro actorum Secreti Consilii S. D. N. Regis per me Joannem Andro deputatum eiusdem sub meis signo et subscriptione manualibus."

Abstract in "Register of the Privy Council of Scotland," Ser. I., Vol. V. pp. 207–208. 17th Feb. 1594[–95.]

1p. Broadsheet. Copy. Endorsed: "Declaratour to the Duke of Lenox."

482. James Campbell of Lawers to Mr. John Colville. [March 7.] Printed in Colville's Letters, p. 272.

After my "hameganging" I passed to Tarbert (Tarbard), where some two or three companies were in readiness to pass to Ireland. But, according to my promise, I so travailed with them that they are stayed for the present. This has been very troublesome and expensive to me; but, notwithstanding, I shall omit no duty, but shall either stay all that would pass there from time to time, or otherwise make you due advertisements in all points, according to my promise. I remit the rest to our meeting, which shall be as soon as I can speak with the rest of the chieftains who were of intention to pass into Ireland. Bunawe. Signed: "Your sone Junior."

½ p. Holograph, also address: "To his worscipfull father, Y."

483. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [March 9.]

It is told me (Mor) that, some few days before the King's (4) journey to where Mar (21) is, the Queen of Scots (5) moved the King (B.) for the keeping of the Prince (young 4), of that "pece" [i.e. Stirling Castle] and of this castle; that the King was grieved thereat and has so earnestly dealt to know who counselled her thereto that she (E.) has told him that it was the Chancellor (51). Whereupon the King (4) sent to the Chancellor to demand if he had given that advice, wishing him to tell if he had, and he would forgive it, otherwise he would think that he had not done well. But the Chancellor denied it. This is marvellously quietly kept. "Allwaies" it is thought that this matter made the King go this journey, which was laboured to be stayed. Sir George Hume (58) was sent to Mr. John Colville (67) from the King to will him to come quietly to where Mar (21) is. Whereupon he has gone thither, where the King will speak with him. The Duke (6), Mar, Argyll (10), (fn. 2) Orkney (20) and others are with the King there. What shall be there resolved you shall hear upon the King's return. Cessford (69) and Buccleuch (70) (fn. 3) are thought to be made great courtiers by the Chancellor's advice, which is not a little "stomacked" by those with the King. How these things can be passed over with quietness I know not. But inasmuch as they are great and secret I beseech your worship use them for your own knowledge.

On Wednesday the King rode to Stirling and is to return on Tuesday at the farthest. On Thursday Argyll was set at liberty upon caution to be answerable only since his marriage, a favour for which he does not thank the Chancellor. That night he came hither to Morton (who has not gone yet), and returned to the castle to his bed, taking his horse early on Friday and riding to Stirling. His sudden going makes the Chancellor and those here think that the King has some matters in hand at Stirling kept secret from them. The King before his going had commanded the Master of Gray to depart, either upon suspicion or information that he had some plot in hand for the Papist Earls. The day on which the King rode [to Stirling] he sent praying Mr. William Leslie to move the King for leave to tarry in Edinburgh about his "adoeis," and to certify the King that he had sent away most of the gentlemen with him, so that he needed not be doubted. All which Mr. William did, but the King did not grant "to" it. The Master seems to have written for licence to pass through England into foreign parts and to expect his leave; otherwise he will not touch England, yet will "hold his jorney," as I hear he says.

All who were in ward for the "Hylandis matters" are to come out save Atholl, who can get no sureties nor is thought to care for any. I hear he shall be committed to Blackness to straiter ward. Some say that the Scottish ships are stayed in Spain; for what cause they know not. Some think it is for hindering intelligence being sent hither of their purpose in Spain. Mr. Walter Lindsay, they say, is there, well furnished with treasure, but not with men, for these parts. Lambe's ship, taken by the Master of Caithness, is for Bothwell, they say, if he departs.

On Monday "was a sennett" [a week ago] there came one calling himself Elliot, an Englishman, and a French boy of Calais, well known in this town by men trafficking there. They were taken and examined and the "mayles" [trunks] brought by them searched. The Englishman says he came with his master and one Johnson from Calais to Yarmouth, where his master landed, and Johnson landed with purpose to come hither (and for whom he looked), and that he and the boy were sent hither by sea. He said his master fell into troubles about Lord Shrewsbury's matter with Mr. Stanhope (fn. 4) and fled for the same, and seeing troubles in the Low Countries and France he meant to come hither, because from hence he might also "labour" Lord Shrewsbury to take order for his discharge and his home-coming. In their "mayles" were such books as Ovid, Virgil and other school books. In Johnson's mail were some books suspected to be written by Papists. Elliot was in doubt his master was sick, for he did not find him here, and thereon has gone in by Carlisle. As soon as I knew I advertised Mr. Fielding. But in Elliot I see no cause, nor yet in Nicholas Williamson. As to Johnson there is great cause to suspect him, because he gives himself out for Edward Johnson's brother, which is not true. For Edward has four brethren : Nathaniel, who is here; Daniel, who is a shoemaker at Lynn; Joshua, who is sick here; and Robert, who is about sixteen years and an apprentice in Bordeaux. Edward has made much enquiry and judges this man to be a Papist, "bicause he clameth to him." This is all I can say yet in this matter. Letters they had none.

The Convention is likely to be small, and the Parliament to be prorogued "unless they be by platt of these nowe at Sterling," from whence I marvel I hear nothing.

Morrison, one of the King's gardeners, having dangerously hurt a servant of Thomas Ker of Fernihirst, was conveyed by Thomas into the high town and committed to Lady Fernihirst's chamber here, with purpose that if the party should die he might receive justice. "By meanes" the Queen was made to understand that the authority of the Court was impeached by Morrison's taking to the high town; whereon in great anger she willed Anstruther to fetch him down again. Anstruther, endeavouring to do this, was resisted by the town and Morrison committed to the Tolbooth. Two bailies have gone to the King for his allowance of their proceedings, and the Queen has sent to the King for the allowing and approving of her intent, which is not likely to be decided till the King's return.

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

484. Mr. John Colville to Robert Bowes. [March 11.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 144–146.

On the 5th instant his Majesty went to Stirling and remained till this present 11th, and I went also by commandment of Sir George Hume, and there I spoke privately with the King. On a motion made by her Majesty here for "retering" the Prince out of Mar's hands, his Majesty is offended, and it is thought the Chancellor is suggester thereof, which, if it be tried [i.e. proved] shall turn to his "dislyik." I hear nothing yet of the Papist lords embarking, and by all appearance the Parliament will not hold, for the reasons mentioned in my last. The King grows "animat" against Cessford and Buccleuch (Q.), as I wrote before.

I look daily for the Laird of Lawers, of whom assure yourself to have good service. But that I fear you are on your journey I would have written a great secret, but lest it should fall into other hands I "keep it wp" till I be certain of your residence, and if you happen to be absent I will signify it to Sir Robert Cecil. I have herewith sent the heads of Wemyss's instructions and answers to and from France. Sir Robert Melville (J) still insists, as I wrote once before, to be employed to England and to remain there, for he fears a storm in Scotland and he promises the favour of many nobles of Scotland and of the Scottish Court to the King's "effect," and their "hand writ," if need be, which I know he cannot perform. In like manner some are busy to have the Bishop of Glasgow employed with the French King. For now the Chancellor pleases the King only with the shadow of England, thinking that Sir Robert Melville there and the Bishop of Glasgow in the other place will make all ripe before the harvest can come. But there is herein a matter which I would rather speak than write. I pray you that my letters go no farther than to her Majesty, Sir Robert Cecil and such as he is assured of, for a cause which hereafter I shall "oppin."

Now, since his Majesty has written so favourably for me and that I find by your letters her Majesty to be graciously inclined to me, I think I cannot be comforted with less charge to her Majesty than from that which, if it came to his Majesty's hands, would be bestowed upon others who, peradventure, would do little or no good service to any of the crowns. But I rest upon that approved goodness which I have so often felt. Sir George Hume longed to hear from you and wished to know the nature and form of discharge which our Secretary gave there of the gratuity, wishing you by the next to send a double thereof. As I was closing up, this other from the Laird of Lawers came to my hands, which I also enclose. [No. 482.] The conspiracy of taking his Majesty for 4000 crowns mentioned in my former is likely to fall on the Master of Gray, who is charged to go home; and that Dunipace has revealed by information of Errol.

2⅓ pp. In Mr. John Colville's hand. Addressed. Endorsed by Robert Bowes: "Stirling xj° Marcii, London xx° ejusdem, 1594." Names in cipher deciphered.

485. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [March 12.]

Yesternight the King returned from Stirling, where the Queen's motion for the Prince was discussed, as I hear, and the King's anger appeared against Buccleuch (69) and Cessford (70), and will further appear against the Chancellor if that motion proceeded from his advice. To discover this (the Queen not having confessed it to the King, as before I heard and wrote), the Duke (6), Argyll (10), Crawford (11), Orkney (20) and Mar (21) are to deal with the Queen, and if the Chancellor has given the advice the King will "put at" him. But I think this matter may also "put over," as the former did, but in the end draw to the "wrack" of Mar or the Chancellor.

This Convention "is very litle" except for Argyll, Crawford, Orkney, Mar and the Duke (returned from Stirling with the King, "and who are in a lone course together," as some say), yet Marischal and sundry others are looked for, and Caithness also. At this Convention the holding or stay of this Parliament is to be set down. Caithness, some say, has furnished Bothwell with skins and other gross wares of that country, so that he may pass as a merchant and also furnish himself with money by those wares, for which Caithness is caution. They say also that Mr. James Gordon and other Jesuits pass with him in the same ship and should have embarked on Thursday "was a sennett" [a week ago]. But some have lately gone to Caithness, looking to find him there. What Huntly and Errol will do I know not; but some say they will not yet depart. The King insists with the ministers for their answer to his question now, because there [is] a great assembly of divers out of every presbytery "for awaiting of the Kirkis turnes" at this Convention and Parliament, if it hold. But it is not likely that any means will move the ministers to answer it before the General Assembly. Edinburgh. Signed: Geo. Nicolson.

Postscript.—Buccleuch and Cessford look to have by the Parliament Bothwell's lands in their [hands] (fn. 5) "ennacted" to them. But the King will stop the same, I hear. Mr. John Colville has spoken with the King, but it must be kept quietly till the King tells the Chancellor that he will do it. "Allwaies" John Colville "is rising" and will never change his heart from her Majesty's service. He prays you to labour his suit.

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

486. James Colville, Laird of Easter Wemyss, to Robert Bowes. [March 12.]

I give you hearty thanks for the letters received from Nicolson. I have made your commendations to his Majesty, who has accepted them very kindly. All things here are at great quietness, but after this Convention some things may fall out. His Majesty has goodwill to do well, and, if evil counsel "impeshes" not, good effect will follow. My cousin, Mr. John, has promise of his peace "ane of thir tuay dayis"; it shall be by open proclamation. The "auld enemy" stays him in all he can. His Majesty looks that the Papist lords shall pass out of the country. Their league is broken, as we think certainly, because they seek "particulair dressis." I doubt not but you will be mindful of me, and hold Sir Robert [Cecil] likewise in mind of me. He shall ever have proof of my goodwill in all that concerns the amity. Edinburgh. Signed: James Colvill of Est Veimes.

¾ p. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes. Two red wax seals.

487. James Hudson to Sir Robert Cecil. [March 13.]

This is to say that "the gentleman" thinks himself happy by your favour, and that a hawk is provided for you. I enclose the King's letter to me "for sume [beer] for the Queen, whereof sume part sould be caryed to Streveling and sume to be laed in Hollyroodhowse." The man who brought the King's letter is bearer of this, and was permitted to bring wheat with him, notwithstanding the great dearth of corn in Scotland, that thereby he might be the more thankfully used here. I showed my letter to Lord Burghley, who has answered me divers times that he could not give the Queen's customs. Twelve tuns of beer are a small matter in the whole matter, but less in the customs; and I have no other means than by Burghley and yourself. Please return the King's letter and Mr. Aston's, and grant the bearer your letter to the customers, which I think will serve. Signed: Ja. Hudson.

¾ p. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Cecil's clerk.

488. Roger Aston to Robert Bowes. [March 15.]

Since my last I had no good occasion to write by reason of my being at Stirling with the King. Since my return I have daily attended [i.e. awaited] the success of the Convention which began this day. But before I speak of Convention affairs I will touch something concerning the contents of my last [letter], chiefly of the proposition concerning the Prince, which is now more "volgett" than it was then. Although nothing further has been "proponned" in that matter, yet it is a "broch working mygttely." (fn. 6) The grounds from whence it comes are known. The Master of Glamis and "Neckoel Acarnecros" [Cairncross] get great blame; not that they are great with the Queen, but "leares" [layers] of plots to others. The Queen has left off insisting any further, saying she will refer all to the King to do as he pleases. The Chancellor has been greatly suspected by reason of his late reconcilement with the Queen. But he has exonerated himself both to the King and Mar. The Master does not seem to deal in the matter, but "putes too the cole and letes other bloo at it." He thinks to meet Mar that way, because he "mentted" [aimed at] his change.

This is the condition of this estate; every one shooting "att otheres" without respect to King or commonweal. Mar "makes him selfe for al stormes, indraing to him souch frensip as he maye doble outt his one torne." The King being altogether for him, he thinks himself strong enough. The Duke and Argyll are altogether for him. There is lately a great friendship knit up between Lord Hume, Cessford and Buccleuch. The friendship between the Master and Hume, "yon king," is unchangeable. Divers advertisements have come of some enterprise to have been attempted at this Convention, but I see no such appearance. Some were removed, as I wrote before, which perhaps has scared the rest. We daily attend the certainty of the Earls' departing. For Errol, I assure you he will away and will never enter on a course with Huntly again. Huntly has had a convention of all his friends in Elgin. They have given him counsel to depart. Whether he will or not is not yet known. This is the last day of his abode.

This being the day of the Convention, certain things were propounded by the King concerning his own affairs, and certain articles were given in by the ministers. First, the King exonerated himself of certain articles that were given out in his name and passed up and down the country—that his intention was to alter all things since King David Bruce, whereby no man could be sure of what he had. This and such like bred a great murmur through all parts of the country, the copies of these articles passing through all [i.e. everywhere], so that such as know not the truth began to repine. The King's intention was no other than to call back such things as he himself has done to his great hurt that both in conscience and law he may do; and for that cause he has taken the advice of the Lords of Session, where he has sat these two days, and by their advice has concluded that he may do all he has to do without a Parliament. So the Parliament is dissolved for this time. The articles given in by the ministers [No. 230] contained in substance the pursuit of the Papists and their resetters, if they went not away, and that their unlaws and livings might be taken up and employed upon men of war to pursue them; that the Countesses of Huntly and Errol be charged to remain here in these parts; that Huntly's eldest son be brought hither; and that commission be given to certain of the best affected of every shire to join with the ministers and burghs, [and that] if any of them came within their bounds, everyone shall assist "otheres" for their apprehending. All this is concluded, and charges and commissions are being directed for this effect.

It is given out that Bothwell has embarked, but [there is] no confirmation. Caithness is in these parts "holding the King in hand." He will come in, but has not yet entered. It appears he abides to see what course the rest take. It is advertised hither that you are to return to these parts. Many good men are glad of it, persuading themselves your coming will bring contentment to the King and comfort to them. It is credibly advertised to the King that her Majesty has plainly resolved neither to "concur" nor assist him in any of his actions, but to leave him to himself. This the King told me with a great regret, bidding God forgive those who were the cause of it, for he was assured it was not her Majesty. For my own part I am to be commanded as her Majesty pleases, without respect of any. I have set down my own opinion both for your coming and what course were meetest to be taken. I wish the amity to stand and a warmer course to be followed forth. "Here is enove [enough] thatt bloues the coles for wantt of other matter." They say her Majesty has refused to proclaim war with Spain, and that she has called back her forces out of Brittany, leaving the French King to himself. This passes current among such as care not how the world goes. Holyroodhouse. Signed: "Yours ever, R. A."

Postscript.—As any matter occurs you shall be advertised.

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

489. James Colville, Laird of Easter Wemyss, to Robert Bowes. [March 15.]

These few lines are to let you know that the Parliament holds not. It was "ordinit" only for his Majesty's patrimony given out. By the advice of his Session he finds he may reduce [i.e. recall] it without the strength of Parliament. His Majesty was never further bent against the Papist faction than presently, having determined that, if they be not at this present day departed out of the country, he will pursue not only them but their "caution" with all rigour. His Majesty first declared his will in Council, and concluded. Thereafter articles given in by the Kirk (which you shall receive) were generally accorded. For the last part, concerning the ministers, it is referred to such as were appointed by act of Parliament to take order therein. If the Papist faction have not obeyed [i.e. departed the country], I pray God that, for want of entertainment of men of war they get not over much leisure "to adv[a]ns them" and to impede his Majesty's good mind. There is not as yet over great friendship betwixt Mar and the Chancellor, and [it is] hard to judge what may fall out. My cousin, John Colville, has his Majesty's favour, and likely to increase if he get good assistance, "alvayis frak [diligent] for your estait." Remember Sir Robert of me, and of his promise and good will professed to me. If you wish me to continue to write, let me know, for my credit with my master was never so great, and always yours. I will let you hear very shortly of my "novellis" [news], which I can not well write presently. Edinburgh. Signed: James Colvill of Est Veimes.

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

490. Mr. John Colville to Robert Bowes. [March 17.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 146, 147.

On the 15th instant the Convention began and dissolved that same day. The barons alleging that sundry articles were to be confirmed for their hurt in the Parliament, his Majesty "resolved thame" by a long and eloquent discourse that no such thing was intended, finding great fault with their credulity to the contrary report. So the Parliament is decerned to be deserted till new and lawful citation. The ministry also gave in some articles for pursuit of the Papist lords if they do not depart; especially that their sureties be "called and convict" in the sums set down.

Buccleuch and Cessford, being disappointed of the confirmation of Bothwell's lands given to them, by deserting of the Parliament aforesaid, are much grieved. There are great speeches of displeasure, and outwardly no good countenance betwixt the Duke, Argyll and Mar on the one part, and the Chancellor, Glamis and their followers on the other; which in all men's opinion will fall out unhappily for some of them.

Knowing of your abode there I will write particularly in the matter mentioned in my last. The King has begun assuredly to mislike the Chancellor (H.) and will retire with the Queen (P.) shortly and remain with Mar (A.). The Duke has again turned the Queen somewhat upon the Chancellor, and she will give him up [i.e. denounce him] "for instrument moving thame to propone the matter."

I shall, God willing, this 17th have my peace, and his Majesty's wrath is fully pacified, whereby I shall be able to do good service if I find favour there agreeable to his Majesty's desire in his last letters written to that effect. In any case do not let my letters be seen but where Sir Robert Cecil and you think good. Being safe, I will assuredly serve you for great things, and would wish with all my heart to have but one hour's talk with you. But that cannot presently be. Sir George Hume desires that the note may be sent of the matter and quality of the discharge which the Secretary gave last of the gratuity. Signed: Colville.

2 pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes: "Mr. Jhon Colvill. xvij° Marcii, Westminister xxiij° ejusdem, 1594." Names partly in cipher deciphered.

491. Mr. John Colville to Mr. John Carey, Deputy-Governor of Berwick. [March 18.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 147–148.

Lack of matter, together with my absence and private "displeasouris" proceeding from my enemies, "impeschis" me to write so oft as I would and should.

As to our estate, on the 15th instant there was a Convention wherein it was concluded that the Parliament should not hold, because there were sundry matters to be propounded therein offensive to the barons and best subjects, and no appearance that anything should be preferred for his Majesty's commodity. There has been and yet is great emulation betwixt courtiers, especially between Mar and the Chancellor. But being wise on both hands and his Majesty very careful that no displeasure should fall out so near his own person, "thingis delayis from tyme to tyme, which is bot a smuddring wp of the fyir and no quenching tharof."

By instigation of some lewd persons her Majesty here was moved to solicit his Majesty to take the young Prince out of Mar's hands; which motion was very unpleasant to his Majesty. He imputes the blame thereof not to her Highness but to the suggesters; and the man who is suspected most is the Chancellor. The Papist lords have found surety to depart "bot no apperance that thai will keip." Bothwell is yet in Caithness and in very ill case. Signed: Jo. Colville.

Postscript.—The bearer being very well informed of many matters here, I have entrusted him with some things which "wer longsum" to write.

2 pp. Holograph, also address. Red wax seal.

492. Advices from Edinburgh. [March 20.]

Albeit the King at his passage to Stirling had expressly commanded Mar to attend upon the Exchequer, yet he "horsed him selfe" and posted thither after the King the same night, writing to divers of his friends to meet him there with diligence. After him came the Duke of Lennox and the Abbot of Holyroodhouse with a great company, so the King was disappointed of his pretences for that time. Since then Mar has given up all kindness with the Chancellor, who now guards himself the more warily. Lennox, by the King's advice, is bound for France, because there can be found no "condigne" marriage for him in Scotland, the King meaning to write to the French King to advance him to some honourable party. In the meantime the King has given him a letter of "factorie" of the earldoms of Angus, Huntly and Errol for three years. He is brother [in-law] to Huntly and secret friend to the other two.

The Parliament "is resolved not to hold at all for this tyme." The Chancellor is greatly reproached by divers in the Sessions House, where epigrams are made against him, the makers' names suppressed, and jests containing a "prognostic" of his evil end pinned up on his seat. On the 15th instant the Council "held" at Holyroodhouse, where the nobility convened, though few in number; there concluding that all benefices "vacand" hereafter shall be in the Prince's possession in perpetuum, saving the thirds thereof, which are appointed for payment of the ministers' stipends.

1 p. Copy. Endorsed.

493. Roger Aston to Robert Bowes. [March 22.]

Since my last there is little done except the King's particular affairs concerning his house and living. All matters are settled touching the Prince, and all matters reconciled between the Chancellor and Mar. The Queen is not "mynded" to insist any further, the King finding that course to be so perilous to his own estate that he could not let it proceed. Although he has challenged none for the matter yet he knows from whence it came. Buccleuch and Cessford have exonerated themselves and have desired the Queen to purge them to the King, whereby he may be thoroughly satisfied with them. I count this matter laid by till a new occasion. This day the Exchequer rises.

The King and Queen go to Stirling, where they are to remain till after "Pese." (fn. 7) The Prince is to be "spentt." We have at this time no other appearance but quietness. We hear that Huntly and Errol have embarked. Errol for certain is away. He shipped at Peterhead in Buchan. Huntly was to embark beside Aberdeen, but as yet no certainty has come. They "luke" to receive some money in Flanders that should have come hither. Errol is not purposed to enter into course with Huntly again. Angus is "soutting" the like benefit that the others have. Bothwell is still in Caithness. Some say he is away, but the King is credibly informed he is not away. We are now going to Stirling. Holyroodhouse. Signed: Roger Aston.

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

494. [Mr. John Colville] to [Robert Bowes]. [March 22.] Printed in Colville's Letters, p. 149.

On the 20th instant a form of agreement was made betwixt Mar and the Chancellor. Neither of them spoke to the other, but both directed their speech to his Majesty, the Chancellor purging himself of anything "intendit" to Mar's prejudice. This reconciliation by all appearance will engender no more love or trust among them than before, but rather the contrary. Argyll and Mar have ridden to Stirling, and their Majesties, as is supposed, will follow in the latter end of this month, if new persuasions do not stay them.

Huntly, by sending some of his provision to a ship, and Errol by entering the ship, made semblance to depart on the 15th. But the ship was aground and neither of them has yet gone, insomuch that yesternight ordinance is made in Council to charge their sureties. Receive Junior's [young Lawers's] own letter and commit that matter fully to us, wherein I shall be answerable. The matter was never so hot betwixt Mar and the Chancellor as it is presently, and the Queen here is again "degusted" with the Chancellor.

Postscript.—If any good can be done to Wemyss I pray you to further him, for he is altogether yours, and since young Lawers (Junior) is to marry his daughter he must [be] specially used to hold Junior at this course wheresoever I be.

pp. In Mr. John Colville's hand. Endorsed by Robert Bowes. Names partly in cipher deciphered.

Enclosure with the same.

(James Campbell, Laird of Lawers, to Mr. John Colville.)

Printed in Colville's Letters, p. 273.

I am this week again to go to the Isles, and you shall inform Mr. Bowes that there "is bot thrie thair to dres for our effect," namely, Donald Gorme, Angus MacConnell and M'Kondochy Inveralt. The first two are "forfalt," and are to send in great sums to his Majesty according to their promises made in the castle of Edinburgh. If his Majesty accepts thereof it is well. If not, they will strengthen themselves in the Isles the best they can, and will seek some private friendship of the Queen of England (Audin) to "beare them out" if they be "straitet." To hold MacKondochy to order, I have caused my brotherin-law, the Laird of Glenlyon, to give him a "rowme" and dwelling in his lands, where he is already dwelling; so you shall cast that matter fully upon me. Be you answerable to Mr. Bowes for it, and I shall be answerable to you. But surely he must procure speedy help for you and me, as I showed you. March 21st, 1594. Signed: Junior.

2/3 p. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

495. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [March 22.]

As in my last so still the Queen's motion for having the keeping of the young Prince and this castle is left. The Chancellor, Buccleuch and Cessford excuse themselves still that they were no advisers of the Queen therein. The King, though inwardly highly grieved thereat, yet seeing much dryness to arise thereon between the Chancellor and Mar, drew them aside in the Exchequer and has again drawn words of acquittance "of ether towardis otheres" and from the Chancellor that he would not know of any hurt to Mar without advertising and preventing it if he could. All which on both sides was spoken to the King, but "by nether to others," so as yet it does not seem a true and hearty reconciliation.

Errol for certain entered on ship-board, taking record and instrument thereof for the safety of his cautioners, and Huntly's gear was also shipped, and both apparently went, for the King yesterday said to me that now England would deny to make help to him, as a thing needless now that the Papist lords were gone. Morton, who now is "weakly recovered" and gone to the Newhouse at Loch Leven, made motion, as I should have certified by my last, that Angus might have the benefit to depart like Huntly and Errol, and this motion is still laboured but no way yet yielded to. Bothwell, by some letter which I have seen, has not gone out of the country. Spynie is a courtier as it were for the present, looking to recover his former credit little by little, if he be not deceived.

Towards the end of next week the King and Queen go to Stirling, there to remain a good time. It is looked that the Chancellor shall stay them if he can. Mar has already gone before, and Argyll has also departed. The Sessions being ended the Exchequer also will break up, and all things in this place will then be quiet.

A kinsman of O'Dogherty, a physician here, has received letters from O'Dogherty to travail with the King and Argyll to write to O'Donnell for his liberty, and assures me that O'Dogherty has not agreed with Tyrone or O'Donnell (as I perceive I was wrongly informed), and gladly would he make means by her Majesty also for O'Dogherty's relief if he knew how. The King has heard that Fletcher, the player, who was here, has been hanged for his cause, and in merry words told Roger [Aston] and me thereof, as not believing it, saying very pleasantly that, if it were so, he would hang us. Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.

Postscript.—One Thomas Rutledge, of Kilham, at Martinmas, hired two Scotsmen who, finding some money which Rutledge had hid in his barn, stole away with the same and came hither. Rutledge, missing them and his money, followed them into Scotland taking a Scotsman with him to witness his trade, and arriving here on Wednesday last met the thieves and got some of his money. Some courtier, hearing that he was striving for the rest, got the King's warrant to stay him and [to have] his escheat, and Mr. Hamilton, one of the Lords of Session, having had some hurt done to his tenants at Melville (Melyn), alleges Rutledge's son to have been at the hurt and to have been reset by him with his tenants' gear, and therefore charges him with it. For these things he is in the Tolbooth. I have earnestly dealt with the King for his liberty, showing his Majesty that he, being in his lawful trade, cannot be stayed without violating the Border laws, which the King said he would not break, referring me to the Lords of Council at the Exchequer, saying the Chancellor knew the laws of the Borders. I got Sir Robert Ker, Sir John Carmichael and the Goodman of Huttonhall to show the Border laws to the Chancellor, against whom he reasoned, willing me to give my bill in when they were in the Exchequer. This was done, and I [was] called in to speak for Rutledge, as Mr. Thomas Hamilton did for himself. Mr. Hamilton and I were then willed to depart that they might advise on it. All the Lords save Sir John Carmichael voted in favour of their fellow sessioner and they have ordained that caution of 600l. Scots shall be given, that Rutledge shall on fifteen days' warning answer and "underly" any Scotsmen to any actions criminal or civil to be laid against him by their laws here; which I dare not agree he should do lest it prejudice the laws. I have written to Sir John Selby to write to the King and Council and Sir Robert Ker and to call for Rutledge's delivery or their answers, for more I cannot do against these sessioners, my Lord Chancellor being against us.

12/3 pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes.

496. Roger Aston to [Robert Bowes]. [March 24.]

This day one Mr. John Myreton (Morton), brother of the Laird of Cambo (Cammoes), in Fife, has been apprehended. He is a Jesuit and confessor of the seminary college in Rome. He is directed from Tyrie, Crichton and other Papists there. His commission is to Mr. James Gordon with letters of credit and "and an abese off a siffer" [an A.B.C. of a cipher]. He has received the Pope's blessing and has undertaken to discharge the credit committed to him. He was taken by Mr. David Lindsay on his landing at Leith by some intelligence out of the ship, which landed there out of Flanders. He has been examined by some of the Council and ministers. He denied any commission, but [said] that he had come to see his friends and for health, having been long sick.

Afterwards the King came himself. He took him aside, and to the King he has confessed more than to any other. He grants his directions to Mr. James Gordon. There are sundry letters intercepted, directed to Mr. James Gordon, making mention of the sufficiency of the man (Myreton), and reproving him [Gordon] greatly that he had distributed the last money to any other but to the King himself, and also that he had "devulgatt" [proclaimed] the King there to be a Catholic before all preparations were ready (meaning the army of Spain). There is also Thomas Tyrie's confession, declaring that the King is a favourer of the Catholics; that most about him are Catholics; and that Lord Hume, his master, is a Catholic and Captain of the King's guard. There are in some of the intercepted letters great persuasions by the Jesuits to advance the said Thomas Tyrie with money, by which all things might be accomplished. These persuasions were used to the agents in Rome, who have found great fault that the last was not distributed according to their intent. He has brought a tablet of gold and crystal wherein is the whole crucifying of Christ carved in bone. This comes from a chief Cardinal in Rome. He does not yet tell to whom it came, but in my next you shall know. The King has it. He [Myreton] is kept close prisoner. What further falls out by his depositions you shall know in my next.

This day there are letters come from the Colonel [Stewart], by which it is perceived he is not likely to come so good speed there as was looked for. The chief excuses that the States allege come from her Majesty: first, that she craves so great sums of them that they are not able to "avail any to otheres"; next, that they ought not to deal with any prince without her advice and knowledge. His own opinion is that the King should send some to her Majesty to crave her opinion and that a mutual friendship might stand between the three countries. I do not look that this will be done "wppon a soden." The Colonel stays there without resolution [i.e. without an answer] as yet. He has sent home sundry letters in Italian, intercepted by the States, and giving advertisement that the Catholics (meaning Huntly, Angus, Errol, Bothwell and Caithness) are in Caithness ready for enterprises, as shall be thought convenient, alleging [that] the slack dealing towards them has given the enemy place to prevail against them, with many persuasions to advance their cause with diligence. The King acquaints the ministers with all these things and does nothing without their advice.

This day sure advertisements have come that Huntly and Bothwell are both away, but in sundry ships. Huntly would not ship where Bothwell was. Certificate has come of Errol's departing by himself, as I wrote before. Huntly has fifteen persons with him, whereof Mr. James Gordon is one. Holyroodhouse. Signed: Roger Aston.

pp. Holograph. No fly-leaf or address.

497. John Auchinross to Robert Bowes. [1595. March 25.]

My master, M'Lean (M'Clayne), having "to do" here in Court, directed me to the Earl of Argyll to the effect that his lordship might travail with the King in his "adois," and also commanded me to "speik your lordship" anent the rebellious doing of Tyrone (Teireone), O'Donnell (Odonill) and their assisters who, with the assistance of the Clan Donald (Clandonill) and others in Scotland, mind to make great insurrection against her Grace. O'Donnell has written divers times to M'Lean craving his assistance in this action, and Donald Gorm M'Connell with seven or eight hundred men was in Ireland last July and August. At that time he, having commission of Angus M'Connell, who remained in Scotland, made a band with Tyrone and O'Donnell on behalf of himself and Angus, and since his return to Scotland [they] are banded with Huntly. Yet the Clan Donald do not "plesour" Huntly here in Scotland, nor dare they go to the assistance of Tyrone and O'Donnell without first contracting peace with M'Lean. To obtain this, they have offered to M'Lean to obtain the liberty of his son and the other pledges given by him to the King and by the King to the custody of Huntly, who put them in Mackenzie's (M'Kaynzeis) hands upon band to redeliver them under pain of 20,000 marks. They also offer to M'Lean the land that was in debate betwixt them, and for further security desire that his son marry Angus M'Connell's daughter, and that Angus M'Connell's son marry M'Lean's daughter. All this, with other "propynis" [gifts], is offered for M'Lean's assistance, whereof he thought good to advertise you, with his "opinioun" [scheme] for resisting the rebels in Ireland. [He proposes] that her Majesty employ Argyll and him to stay the Scotsmen from passing to Ireland, and that Argyll send men there with M'Lean to pursue the rebels on the one side, while her Highness's army pursues them on the other side at an appointed time. This is the readiest way to expel the rebels and to make them to perish in their "consait" [plan] for troubling her Highness's state and authority in Ireland. I think you have heard of the oppression done by Tyrone and O'Donnell last February; which is but small in respect of their high intent. "Attour" if her Majesty employ Argyll and M'Lean, she should direct three or four ships furnished with "viwiris" [provisions], for keeping of M'Lean's galleys from the time of his landing in Ireland until his return to them. The Clan Donald of Scotland, with as many as they can raise, are to be in Ireland next May. M'Lean has no good will to Tyrone, because with his own hand he hanged Hew O'Neil, who had apprehended his man with certain writs from him [Tyrone] to Spaniards. Fearing the revealing thereof by the said Hew, [Tyrone] used "moyen" to get him betrayed. Also, M'Lean understands that by his "moyen" Art O'Neil was slain after his [Tyrone's] and O'Donnell's breaking her Highness's war in Dublin (Duphlyn). These two gentlemen, Hew O'Neil and Art O'Neil, were brothers, sons of Shane, otherwise named John O'Neil and Katherine M'Lean, Countess of Argyll, "fader sister" to this M'Lean. Let not Argyll nor any other in Scotland know that this "consent" was moved by M'Lean. In your absence, being in conference with your servitor George Nicolson, I thought good by this letter to communicate my master's commission to your lordship and to show Nicolson the same under the subscription of my master. Edinburgh. Signed: Johnne Achinros servitour to M'Clayne of Doward.

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

498. John Auchinross to Robert Bowes. [March 25.]

An abstract of the preceding letter.

1 p. In Sheperson's hand. Endorsed by Sheperson.

499. Mr. John Colville to Robert Bowes. [March 25 and 27.] Printed in Colville's Letters, pp. 150, 151.

On the 23rd instant Mr. David Lindsay took at Leith one Father Myreton (Morton), Jesuit priest at Rome, who arrived that same night in a Flemish barque. Finding he was apprehended, he took a "memoriall" which he had made in form of instructions, and tore it with his teeth the best he could, yet not so privately but he was perceived and the "memoriall" taken from him and joined again in such sort that it may be read; the "dowbill" whereof and of other letters intercepted by the Estates and sent to his Majesty shall be sent by my next, for presently they cannot be had. But of the said "memoriall" this is the sum: that he should find fault with the Catholic lords for joining with Bothwell, because they had thereby incurred his Majesty's displeasure, who before was so friendly to them (alleging in that "head," most falsely, greater assurance of his Majesty's goodwill than is in effect); to re prove them for distributing the gold sent for comfort of the afflicted Church so "inutillie" [unprofitably] as they have done, especially upon some courtiers whom they esteem greatest heretics and abusers; that they should purge themselves hereof to the King of Spain's Council in the Low Countries, especially to the Nuncio there, otherwise no more supply would be furnished; and that, above all, he should find most fault with Mr. James Gordon, who suffered the said lords to fall into these errors.

He has brought with him "ane tabernacle of the quantite of the palme of ane hand, of gold the platt tharof, and within the crucifix with the history of the Passion fynlie vrocht in imagrie." At first he said Father Crichton wished him to present it to the Queen, and then he changed, affirming it to be sent to Angus. The man is a "foolische, bigot Papist" of the house of Cambo in Fife, and has been abroad these ten years.

Yesterday one came from the north, assuring that Errol embarked at Peterhead and Huntly at Aberdeen on the 19th, and had good wind, Huntly intending to go to Denmark and by Poland (Polonia) to Italy. But whither Errol is bound I cannot learn. Before their departure they had mass in the church of Elgin (Elgein) in Moray, and Mr. James Gordon made the sermon, encouraging them not to depart, with assurance of victory as before, if they would "hasard." [Unsigned.]

Postscript.—Angus is deadly sick, the Chancellor has gone home, and Session, Exchequer and all are broken up. The ministry insist to have this priest "booted," because he is loth to confess from whom, to whom, and for what effect he has come home. Of Bothwell, by the means you know, I shall hear to-night or to-morrow. The superstition and folly of the priest aforesaid was much laughed at. When he saw his Majesty take the "tabernacle," and that he must needs part with it, he craved to kiss it once before he should "want it" [be deprived of it].

The premises were written two days since. Now, I add that this 27th his Majesty rides to Stirling. On the 31st her Majesty follows. They are to remain in Stirling and Falkland for two months at least. The Queen of Scots (P.) has turned again "on" the Chancellor, who, as you will hear from your own servant, utters his ill mind in open Council to England, which I had rather were reported by others than by myself. Sir George Hume still seeks the double of the Secretary's discharge "at" me.

3 pp. In Mr. John Colville's hand. Addressed: "To 5." Endorsed by Robert Bowes: "Y. Y. Y. 25 et 27 Marcii, Westminster iiij° Aprilis, 1595." Some names in cipher deciphered.

500. George Nicolson to Robert Bowes. [March 25.]

Mr. David Lindsay has taken one Mr. James Myreton (Morton) as he was arriving by sea at Leith, upon intelligence given by the Laird of Dun's son coming in ship with him. This day he was examined, and denied having any errand here [other] than to see his friends and recover his health. But the King, taking him aside, drew from him that he was a Jesuit sent from the Pope and Cardinal Cajetan (Cagitan), and that he had the Pope's blessing and directions from them and Crichton and others to Mr. James Gordon to reprove him for bestowing the last treasure on any save the King. All this the King openly told. He had a letter which he tore, but may be set together and read, a cipher, and a little square thing of crystal or glass set in gold, containing the Passion of Christ, and hung on a chain to give to some whom he told the King of. The King asked him for what it was good. He said to put him in remembrance of Christ's crucifying. The King said the Word of God was ordained and served for that. He said it was good also to kiss, because Christ, the two thieves and the man who thrust Christ with the lance in the side were in it. The King said it could not be good, for the thieves and that man also must likewise be kissed, the thing being so little. By letters and his confession to the King it appears that the Papists account the King a Catholic (but he says they are beguiled and ever shall be if they so think of him), and to have Catholics about him,[etc., as in No. 496]. As I have ever thought, so now Thomas Tyrie is likely to be "tryed a dealer." But I leave the full certainty to my next, purposing to draw letters to you from your friends who are examiners of this man. Mr. Walter [Balcanquhal and Mr. David Lindsay think he has great errands here.

Colonel Stewart has also written to the King, but "spedes but slowly for mony." He has sent copies of sundry intercepted letters, the contents whereof, not well understanding them, I leave to my next, hoping to procure the same to be advertised to you with certainty and length by Mr. John Colville. I hear Huntly has written to the King to signify that he departs in obedience to him and not for any fault ever made to him. If his religion, he writes, be the fault, he has then endured for his fault. Errol is also said to be gone and Angus to be very sick. Bothwell "is abjected amonge them," for they, especially Huntly, will not lose for him the hope of the King's favour and grace in time.

Here is word now again that the Queen is agreeing with Spain and that an ambassador enshipped in Spain to come to her Majesty. You may perceive by the letter enclosed that MacLean would be revenged on Tyrone for the slaughter of his cousins, and, as the writer of the letter tells me, he will "venture for it" when he gets opportunity, as now he looks to have by her Majesty. Tyrone, as he says, entered into rebellion. Argyll may, by her Majesty's entertaining of him, be "brought upon this platt" very easily against the rebels in Ireland, who, they say here, intend great troubles upon a plot for Spain. Huntly has, I hear, intelligence by MacRanald (McRanmoll) in Lochaber (Louchquhaber) with Donald Gorme, and Donald Gorme with Tyrone for Huntly, all to trouble her Majesty. This writer, John Auchinross, showed me MacLean's directions, by which I see him earnest against Tyrone. I have laid the best course I can for intercourse with John Auchinross in these causes, which are not sought for but offered, as you see. Now the time serves well to do good service anent Ireland. This I pray you use very secretly, for it is of worth. The King has moved the Chancellor, who rode home yesterday, for his allowance of Mr. John Colville's pardon; which he did not deny to the King, but prayed that it might not be proclaimed at Edinburgh, and Sir James Melville has offered his labour to reconcile Mr. John with any that he pleased. So I think he will shortly be at ease. He may thank Sir George Hume (58), for none else could or durst have done so for him. The Duke (6), Mar (21), and Orkney (20) are also for him now. Edinburgh. Signed: George Nicolson.

Postscript.—Buccleuch, who this day has gone to Hawick, and Cessford, and good Sir John Carmichael and all friends commend themselves to you.

2 pp. Holograph, also address. Endorsed by Robert Bowes. Some names in cipher deciphered.

Enclosure with the same. (fn. 8) (Printed as No. 497.)

501. Proclamation by James VI. [March 26.] Abstract in Register of Privy Council, v. 217; inventoried in Tudor and Stuart Proclamations, iv. 258.

Warrant of James VI., to all messengers and sheriffs to make proclamation prohibiting all skippers, masters and mariners from transporting the Earls of Huntly and Errol, their adherents and accomplices or other Papists, Jesuits, seminary priests and excommunicated persons within the realm under pain of treason. Holyroodhouse.

1 p. Broadsheet. Copy, in a Scottish hand. Endorsed by George Nicolson: "1595. Copie of the proclamation prohibiting the bringing back of th'Erles, seminaries or Papistis." Further proclamation is intended that it shall be death to the seminaries, Jesuits, etc., to come into this land for whatsomever pretended cause.

"I have betaken me to chardge for the gitting of the proclamations that you may judge by sight and I not write thereof."

502. Roger Aston to Robert Bowes. [March 27.]

What was omitted from my last [letter] you shall understand by this. First, the Jesuit has been sundry times examined, but refuses to confess anything except to the King, who has once spoken with him. He refuses to speak before the ministers. When he is called to be examined he claps his hand upon his breast, crying "Lord, strenen [strengthen] me that I do nothing agenst my profession." It is thought he has greater matters in commission than yet he has declared. The furthest that he has yet confessed [is that] his commission is to Mr. James Gordon and that his errand is chiefly to confirm the Catholics in their opinion, and also to persuade as many as he may to that profession. For matters of estate, he denies he has anything to deal in; yet such as have had the examination of him are of another opinion. [Refers again to the attempt to tear up the Instructions, which were found to be reproofs of Mr. James Gordon, etc., as in previous reports.]

This man is very resolute and stands highly upon his profession. He grants there is another to come with a large commission. The King has refused to have any further communing with him. He says he thought to have found the King a good Catholic, and the King says that by his first speaking to him it appeared that he was so persuaded. After some conferences the King directed him to the Prior of Blantyre and Sir Robert Melville. These three days he has been examined, but is not so plain as he should be. He is closely kept, and this day there is commission given to the Prior, Sir Robert, the Clerk Register, Mr. William Hart and Mr. George Young to examine him, by the ministers' advice, thereafter to "give him the law," according to the act of Parliament. The King will not meddle but give place, as the law allows, especially because they have so far abused him as to persuade the world that he is a Papist. Thus far is already done. I hope it shall be followed out to terrify others from taking the like in hand. The tablet that he brought was sent to the Queen by a chief Cardinal who guides all in Rome. I have not his name. The King having the tablet has now given [it] to the Queen.

By sundry letters from Mr. William Crichton, both sent hither and intercepted in Flanders, there is great recommendation of Thomas Tyrie [as in No. 496].

It appears the enemy is not idle. God preserve all good men from their tyranny. If this man be "Knett upp," as I hope he will, I shall have the better opinion that matters shall succeed well. The embarking of our Earls is confirmed. Whither they have gone is not yet known. To-morrow the King goes to Stirling, leaving the ordering of his affairs to certain of the Council who are to remain here. The Chancellor is to come to this town once a week. Because I am to go with the King I cannot advertise you of the proceedings here in due time; but what occurs in Court or any other thing worthy, as occasions serve, I shall direct my letters to George [Nicolson]. This day the King has written to the French King and the Duke of Guise by a son of Mr. Henry Keir, who has been in this country this half year, and now is returning to France through England. He carries some hackneys from the Duke and Mar to the Duke's brother. He has carried himself here very well, rather as a soldier and tennis player than any man of state. The King has given him a jewel of a hundred and fifty crowns. I would gladly hear whether you receive my letters or not. I have written many, but do not hear of their receipt or whether they be esteemed worthy or not. God is my judge I write the simple truth. I have not the capacity to imagine matters as I know some do to bring themselves into credit. I will serve her Majesty faithfully, and be you answerable for me in that point. Holyroodhouse. Signed: Roger Aston.

Postscript.—Among other things in Mr. William Crichton's letters he commends the constancy of this Jesuit in his profession, but in some other things he "decommendes" him, chiefly in that he is a favourer of the King of Navarre's overthrow, as also that he says not his matins in the morning, but many times after noon, which is set down as a great fault. He does not call the French King King of Navarre, but "Navare oure persecutter."

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


  • 1. i.e. the gratuity.
  • 2. "10" is here the cipher for Argyll, and "20" for Orkney. Elsewhere "20" is deciphered as Argyll.
  • 3. Elsewhere "69" stands for Buccleuch, and "70" for Cessford.
  • 4. There was a feud at this time between these two families. See D.N.B., xix. 317.
  • 5. This word which was omitted has been added by the pen of the decipherer.
  • 6. This word could also read "nygttely." He probably meant to write "a breach working mightily."
  • 7. Pasch, Easter.
  • 8. Bound separately as Vol. 55, No. 61.