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Full text of "The Melvilles, Earls of Melville, and the Leslies, Earls of Leven. Memoirs. (Correspondence. - Charters.) [With plates, including portraits and facsimiles, and genealogical tables.]"

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Contents of aotume first. 


TABLE OF CONTENTS, ...... iii-vii 

INTRODUCTION, ....... ix-lvii 


1160-1458, ....... 1-2 

Galfrid Melville, Lord of Melville, sheriff of Edinburgh 

castle and justiciary of scotland, <t. 1 1 50-1 180, . . 3-8 

Gregory Melville, Lord of Melville, eldest son of Galfrid 

de Melville, ^.1178, . . . . . 8 

Sir Richard Melville, Lord of Melville, knight, c. 1 180-r. 121 5, 9-12 

William Melville, Lord of Melville, c. 1200, . . . 12-13 

Sir Gregory Melville, Lord of Melville, knight, c. 1242-f. 1270, 13-15 

William Melville, Lord of Melville, c. 12 70-r. 1304, . . 15 

John Melville, Lord of Melville, c. 1320-1345, . . 15-17 

Thomas Melville, Lord of Melville, 1344-1345, . . 17 

John Melville, Lord of Melville, 13 79-1400, . . . 17-19 

Thomas Melville, Lord of Melville, 1427-1429, . . 19 

John Melville, Lord of Melville, 1429-c. 1442, . . 20 

Thomas Melville, Lord of Melville, 1442-1458, . . 20-22 
vol. 1. a- 




I. John Melville, first of Raith, 1400 — c. 1427, . . . 23-27 

II. Sir John Melville, second of Raith, c. 1427 — c. 1463, . 27-28 

Marjory Scott (Balwearie), his wife. 

III. William Melville of Raith, c. 1463-1502, . . . 29-35 

Margaret Douglas (Longniddry), his first wife. 
Euphame Lundie (Balgonie), his second wife. 

IV. John Melville, younger of Raith, d. 1494, . . . 35-37 

Janet Bonar (of Rossie), his wife. 

V. Sir John Melville of Raith, 1502-1548, . . . 38-81 

Margaret Wemyss, his first wife. 
Helen Napier, his second wife. 

Sir Robert Melville of Murdochcairnie, knight, first Lord 

Melville of Monimail, b. c. 1527, d. 1621, . . 82-124 

Katherine Adamson, his first wife. 
Lady Mary Leslie, his second wife. 
Lady Jean Stewart, his third wife. 

Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland, second Lord Melville of 

Monimail, 1621-1635, ..... 124-132 
Margaret Ker (Ferniehirst), his first wife. 
Jean Hamilton, Lady Ross, his second wife. 

Sir James Melville of Hallhill, author of the "Memoirs," 1535- 

1617, .... ... 133-162 

Christian Boswell, his wife. 

Sir Andrew Melville of Garvock, Master of the Household to 

Queen Mary and King James the Sixth, 1 567-161 7, . [163-167 
Jane Kennedy, his first wife. 
Elizabeth Hamilton, his second wife. 

William Melville, Commendator of Tonglnnd, and Lord 

Tongland, 1584-1613, ..... 168-171 
Anna Lindsay, his wife. 


VI. John Melville of Raith, 1548-1605, .... 172-184 
Isabella Lundie, his first wife. 
Margaret Bonar, his second wife. 
Grisell Meldrum, his third wife. 

VII. John Melville of Raith, 1605-1626, .... 185-189 

Margaret Scott (Balwearie), his wife. 

VIII. John Melville, seventh Laird of Raith, and third Lord Melville 

of Monimail, 1626-1643, .... 190-194 

Anne Erskine (Invertiel), his wife. 

IX. George, fourth Lord and first Earl of Melville, 1643-1707, . 195-244 
Lady Catherine Leslie (Leven), his countess. 

X. David, third Earl of Leven, and second Earl of Melville, b. 
1660; Earl of Leven 1681 ; Earl of Melville 1707; 
d. 1728, ....... 245-307 

Lady Anne Wemyss, his countess. 

XII. 1. David, fourth Earl of Leven, and third Earl of Melville, 

b. 1717, d. 1729, ..... 308 

XI. 2. Alexander, fifth Earl of Leven, and fourth Earl of Mel- 

ville, 1729-1754, ..... 309-336 

Mary Erskine (Carnock), his first wife. 
Elizabeth Monypenny (Pitmilly), his second wife. 

XII. 2. David, sixth Earl of Leven, and fifth Earl of Melville, 

1754-1802, ...... 337-352 

Wilhelmina Nisbet (Dirleton), his countess. 

XIII. Alexander, seventh Earl of Leven, and sixth Earl of Melville, 

1802-1820, ...... 353-370 

Jane Thornton, his countess. 

XIV. 1. David, eighth Earl of Leven, and seventh Earl of Melville, 

1820-1860, ...... 371-380 

Elizabeth Anne Campbell (of Succoth), his countess. 



XV. 2. Lady Elizabeth Jane Leslie Melville Cartwright of Melville, . 381 
Thomas Robert Brook Leslie Melville Cartwright, her husband. 

XIV. 2. John, ninth Earl of Leven, and eighth Earl of Melville, 

1860-1876, ........ 382-385 

Harriet Thornton, his first wife. 
Sophia Thornton, his second wife. 

XV. 3. Alexander, tenth Earl of Leven, and ninth Earl of 

Melville, ...... 386 

XV. 4. Ronald, eleventh Earl of Leven, and tenth Earl of Melville, 386 

Hon. Emma Selina Portman, his countess. 


I. Sir Alexander Leslie, first Earl of Leven, b. c. 1580, d. 1661, . 387-438 
Agnes Renton (Billie), his countess. 

Alexander Leslie, Lord Balgonie, d, 1645, vita patris, . 437 

Lady Margaret Leslie, his wife. 

II. Alexander, second Earl of Leven, 1661-1664, . . . 439-442 

Margaret Howard (Carlisle), his countess. 

Margaret Leslie, Countess of Leven, d. 1674, . . 440-442 

Hon. Francis Montgomerie, her husband, 

Catherine Leslie, Countess of Leven, d. 1676, . . 442 

ARMORIAL BEARINGS, ...... 443-444 

VILLE, . ...... 44S-4SI 


LEVEN, ........ 45 2 




Portrait of George, first Earl of Melville, 

The Stralsund Gold Medal, 1628, .... 

The Bishop's Palace at Monimail, Cardinal Beaton's Tower, 

Melville House, Fifeshire, ..... 

Balgonie Castle, Fifeshire, ..... 

Portrait of Lady Katherine Leslie, wife of George, first Earl of Melville, 

Portrait of Alexander, fifth Earl of Leven and Melville, . 

Portrait of David, sixth Earl of Leven and Melville, 

Portrait of Wilhelmina Nisbet, his countess, 

Portrait of Alexander, seventh Earl of Leven and Melville, 

Portrait of Jane Thornton, his countess, .... 

Portrait of David, eighth Earl of Leven and Melville, 

Portrait of Elizabeth Anne Campbell, his countess, 

Portrait of Agnes Renton, wife of Sir Alexander Leslie, first Earl of 
Leven, ....... 

Portrait of Lady Margaret Leslie, wife of Alexander, Lord Balgonie, 





Signatures of — 

Sir John Melville of Raith, 1502-1548, .... 81 

Sir Robert Melville of Murdochcairnie, knight, first Lord Melville 

of Monimail, 1527-1621, . . . . .124 

Sir Robert Melville of Bruntisland, second Lord Melville of Moni- 
mail, 1621-1635, ...... 132 

Sir James Melville of Hallhill, 1535-1617, .... 162 

John Melville of Raith, 1548-1605, ..... 184 

John Melville of Raith, 1605-1626, ..... 189 

John Melville, third Lord Melville of Monimail, 1626-1643, . 194 

VOL. 1. b 


Woodcut Signatures— continued. page 

George, fourth Lord and first Earl of Melville, 1643-1707, . . 244 

David, third Earl of Leven and second Earl of Melville, 1 660-1 728, 307 

George, Lord Balgonie, his eldest son, .... 307 

David, fourth Earl of Leven, as Lord Balgonie, 1723, . . 308 
Alexander, fifth Earl of Leven, and fourth Earl of Melville, 

I729-I7S4) ....... 336 

David, sixth Earl of Leven, and fifth Earl of Melville, 1754-1802, . 352 

Alexander, seventh Earl of Leven, and sixth Earl of Melville, 1802, 370 

David, eighth Earl of Leven and Melville, 1832, . . . 380 

Seal of — 

John Melville, first of Raith, 1400-1427, .... 27 


In the month of August 1856, a request was made to me by David, Earl of 
Leven and Melville, and his two brothers, the Honourable John Leslie 
Melville, and the Honourable Alexander Leslie Melville, to meet them at 
Melville House. The health of the earl's only surviving son — the gallant 
and amiable Alexander, Lord Balgonie — a major in the army, had suffered 
severely in the Crimean Avar, and the progress of his indisposition occasioned 
much anxiety to his venerable father. The earl was the holder of the two 
earldoms of Leven and Melville and the minor dignities of Lord Balgonie 
and of Viscount Kirkcaldy and Lord Melville of Monimail, etc., connected 
with these respective earldoms. He was also proprietor of the entailed 
estate of Melville, and of the unentailed estate of Hallhill and others. 

In the belief that the personal peerages and the landed estates were 
always intended to descend to and be enjoyed by the same heirs, the earl 
considered it to be his duty to make arrangements to provide for this so far 
as lay in his power. His peerages were held under patents granted by 
successive sovereigns, James the Sixth, Charles the First, and Charles 
the Second, and also by King William the Third. One at least of 
these original patents, that of the earldom of Leven, which was limited 
to heirs-male, had been surrendered in the hands of King Charles the 
Second, and a regrant made to include heirs-female as well as male. Under 
that regrant, on the failure of heirs-male, two heirs-female successively 
enjoyed the earldom of Leven. From this fact it was inferred by certain 
lawyers that heirs-female could succeed whenever the succession opened to 

vol. I. c 


them. The Earl of Leven and Melville had obtained advice in reference to 
the succession both to his peerages and his entailed estate of Melville in the 
event of his only sou dying without issue, but the advice had been contra- 
dictory and therefore unsatisfactory. 

It was in- these circumstances that I was requested to attend a conference 
with the earl and his two brothers, when I stated my opinion that in the 
event of the death of Lord Balgonie, all the peerages would descend to the 
heir-male of the family, and that the entailed estate of Melville would be 
separated from the peerages and be inherited by the heir of line. But 
that opinion was given with reserve, as I had not had an opportunity of 
examining all the original patents, the resignations, and regrants of them. 
Before an authoritative and reliable opinion could be given, I suggested 
that the patents and regrants should all be carefully examined. 

At the request of the family I undertook such an examination. The 
result was given in a statement completed by me in May 1857, with 
reference to all the Leven and Melville peerages. My opinion was confirmed 
that these were all descendible to the heir-male of the then Earl of Leven 
and Melville. My statement in manuscript extended to upwards of one 
hundred folio pages, and I believe it is still in manuscript, never having 
been printed. 

Tkust-Settlements by Earl David in 1857. 

The great anxiety of David, Earl of Leven and Melville, in reference to 
the succession to his peerages and estates, will be best explained by the 
measures which he adopted to avert what he feared was a crisis in the 
history of the family. While Lord Balgonie was still alive, Earl David 
executed on 14th July 185 7 a disposition and settlement of his estates. 
The circumstances which induced his lordship to grant it are fully narrated 
in the following terms : — 

" Considering that whereas I have been advised that the earldom of Leven, 
and the earldom of Melville, and barony of Melville of Monimail, and other 
titles of honor vested in my person, are or may be held and assumed by the 
investitures thereof to stand so destined as that the same may descend to heirs- 


male to the exclusion of heirs-female : and whereas I have been further advised 
that the entailed estate of Melville and others, also vested in my person, are or 
may be held and assumed by the investitures thereof to stand so destined as 
that the same may descend to heirs-female to the exclusion of heirs-male : and 
whereas I am fully satisfied that it was the express desire and intention of my 
ancestors that the destination of the estate should make the same to descend to 
the same series of heirs as under the investiture of the titles of honor, that such 
intention was originally carried into effect and enforced in successive generations 
by my ancestors at the sacrifice of their feelings towards the younger branches of 
the family, and for the advantage of those inheriting the honors, and that if the 
original provisions regarding the estate are not effectual after my decease for the 
same purpose, and a divergence of the destinations of the honors and estates to 
different series of heirs shall thereafter take place, it will have arisen solely from 
misconception as to the destination of the honors belonging to the family, so that 
it is incumbent on me, alike from the same motives of preserving the dignity and 
standing of our house which actuated my ancestors, as in return for the benefits 
derived by me personally under the arrangements made by them, to make pro- 
vision, so far as in my power, that the objects originally contemplated be here- 
after as hitherto secured, and that in the event of the said entailed estate 
descending to heirs-female, and of the said titles of honor, and all and every one 
of such titles of honor descending to heirs-male, but only in that event, then and 
thereupon the several heirs shall transact, by means of excambion or disentail, or 
otherwise, for the transfer of the mansion-house of Melville and lands adjacent 
thereto, to the end that the same shall become re-united and descendible along 
with the said titles of honor, and so remain in all time to come; therefore, and 
for aiding and promoting such re-union, and the causes and considerations afore- 
said me moving, I hereby dispone, convey, assign, and make over to and in 
favour of my now only son, Alexander Leslie Melville, commonly called Lord 
Balgony, and the heirs-male of his body ; whom failing, to the heirs-female of his 
body succeeding to him in the titles of honor now vested in me, or to any one or 
more of such titles of honor ; whom failing, to the other heirs-female of my own 
body succeeding to the said titles of honor, or to any one or more of such titles 
of honor ; whom failing, to the Hon. John Thornton Leslie Melville, my brother, 
and the heirs-male of his body ; whom failing, to the Hon. Alexander Leslie 
Melville, my brother, and the heirs-male of his body ; whom failing, to the heirs- 
female of the said John Thornton Leslie Melville succeeding to the titles of honor, 
or to any one or more of such titles of honor ; whom failing, to the heirs-female 
of the body of the said Alexander Leslie Melville, succeeding to the said titles of 


honor, or to any one or more of such titles of honor ; whom all failing, to my 
heirs and assignees whomsoever." 

The lands contained in that disposition were the manor-place of Monimail 
and mansion-house of Melville, Letham, Coldcoats, Monksmyre, Edensmuir, 
patronage of Monimail, Pitlair, and others, all erected into the lordship and 
barony of Monimail, by charter granted by King Charles the Second, dated 
1st October 1669 ; also the lands of Pathcondie and Muirfield, part of 
Uthrogal, and the Wards Park of the barony of Hallhill. 

As the barony of Monimail had been entailed in the year 1784, by the 
grandfather of David, the eighth earl, and as doubts existed as to the latter's 
competency to dispone them to a different class of heirs from those named in 
that entail, provision was made in his disposition and settlement in the 
following terms : — 

"And in the event of the foregoing disposition being found not effectual to 
convey the lands and others above described, but only in that event, I do hereby 
dispone, assign, and make over to, and in favour of the said Alexander Leslie 
Melville, Lord Balgonie, and his foresaids in the second place, all the unentailed 
lands belonging to me at my decease." 

These unentailed lands included Easter Collessie called Hallhill, Muirfield, 
parts of Uthrogal, parts of Hilton, Carslogie and Sunnybraes, with subjects 
in the village of Letham and others. 

The disposition and settlement also contained the following provision : — 

" Providing always and declaring, as it is hereby expressly provided and 
declared, as a condition irritant and resolutive of the destination in favour of heirs- 
female above written, that in the event of the succession thereby opening to an 
heir-female, the first heir-female entitled thereto shall be allowed the space of 
eighteen months from and after that event to claim and establish, by due order of 
law, her right to succeed to and assume the titles of honor aforesaid, or any one 
or more of such titles of honor : and upon and after the elapse of the said space 
of eighteen months, and failure of the first heir-female to establish her right to 
such titles or title of honor as aforesaid, then and thereupon the whole destina- 
tion in favour of heirs-female, not only the first heir-female, but also all the 
substitute heirs-female, is, and shall be held to be and become, void and null, and 
of no force, strength, or effect whatsoever, and the destination is and shall stand 


limited to heirs-male throughout the order of succession, exclusive of heirs-female 
altogether, without any process of law for that purpose. . . . And further pro- 
viding that if this disposition shall be found sufficient to convey the lands 
disponed in the first place, then the conveyance of the other subjects in the second 
place shall be superseded and of no force or effect." 

Death of Lord Balgonie, 28th August 1857, and additional 
Trust-Settlement by his father. 

Shortly after the execution of that disposition and settlement, Alexander, 
Lord Balgonie, died on 28th August 1857, and Earl David had then to make 
further settlements to meet the altered circumstances. On 12th October 
following, his lordship granted a trust-deed which narrates the death of his 
son, as follows : — 

" The decease of my son Alexander Leslie Melville, Lord Balgonie, and the 
failure of heirs of his body, whereby the succession falls to the heirs substituted 
to them by the destination hereinbefore written, and now seeing it is proper to 
make certain additions to the foregoing disposition and settlement, and also to 
establish and interpose a trust for the more effectually securing and executing the 
whole provisions and purposes of the same." 

He therefore nominated and appointed the honourable John Thornton 
Leslie Melville aforesaid, the honourable Alexander Leslie Melville aforesaid, 
and their eldest sons respectively, granting in their favour the whole subjects 
in the said disposition and settlement, etc. 

" But declaring that these presents are granted by me in trust only, and for 
the uses and purposes following, to wit, — prhno, to be held the whole trust-estate 
by the said trustees for the use and behoof of my heirs called and appointed to 
the succession by the said disposition and settlement before written in their order, 
and for implement of the provisions and conditions of the same ; secundo, my 
intention now being to make a settlement in strict entail in terms thereof, to 
denude the said trustees by executing, recording, and completing by infeftment a 
disposition and deed of entail of the lands and other heritages before disponed in 
favour of my said heirs, with prohibitory, irritant, and resolutive clauses, and all 
other clauses usual and requisite to make the same binding and effectual, and so 
conceived as to bind the institute or person in whose favour the same is directly 
granted, as well as the other heirs of entail, and to retain the personal estate, 


heritable debt, and proceeds thereof, as also any bequests in favour of the said 
trustees by my last will and testament, here held to be part and portion of the 
personal estate under this trust, and when convenient after realizing the same to 
employ and lay out the free proceeds in the purchase of other lands or heritages 
to be settled and entailed in the same manner as above provided and directed." 

Last Will by Earl David, 12th October 1857. 

On the same date, 12th October 1857, Earl David made his last will and 
testament. He thereby made further bequests to each of his second, third, 
and fourth daughters. He also left and bequeathed to his heirs succeeding 
to him in the mansion-house of Melville all effects and moveable property of 
every kind and description whatsoever, which should be contained in the said 
mansion-house and belong to him at his decease, it being his wish and 
intention that the same should remain there for the use and benefit of his 
said heirs, but that always under the burden and subject to the payment by 
his said heirs of £3000 sterling thereby bequeathed to the trustees for the 
heirs succeeding to him in his titles of honour under his special disposition 
and settlement in their favour ; and lastly the earl bequeathed to his trustees 
the whole free residue of his moveable estate. 

Law-suit by Earl David to void Entail of Melville, 1858. 

In pursuance of his intentions as to his titles and -estates, Earl David 
on 31st May 1858 instituted an action of declarator in the Court of Session 
against his daughters and all the other heirs of entail in the estate of Melville 
under the entail made by his grandfather in the year 1784. The action was 
instituted for the purpose of having it found that the entail was invalid, and 
the earl entitled to dispose of the estate in fee-simple. 

Before the action was decided by the Court of Session, David, Earl of 
Leven and Melville, died, in 1860, and the trustees nominated by him insisted 
in the action. The Court ultimately, by decree dated 12th June 1861, decided 
in favour of the eldest daughter of Earl David, Lady Elizabeth Jane Leslie 
Melville Cartwright, who thus succeeded to the barony of Melville, while the 
earl's next brother John succeeded to the titles and became ninth Earl of 
Leven and eighth of Melville. 

entails by earl david s trustees. xv 

Entail by Eakl David's Teustees of Hallhill, etc., 1864. 

After this decision in favour of Lady Elizabeth Cartwright, the trustees 
named by her father made up titles to the unentailed estates conveyed to 
them, and on 29th and 30th November 1864 they entailed these in favour of 
John Thornton Leslie Melville, Earl of Leven and Melville ; whom failing, 
the Hon. Alexander Leslie Melville, his brother, and the heirs-male of their 
bodies respectively ; whom all failing, the heirs and assignees whomsoever of 
the deceased David, Earl of Leven and Melville. 

The lands thus entailed were Easter Collessie, called Hallhill, Muirfield, 
and others, erected into the barony of Hallhill ; the lands of Hilton, 
Carslogie, Sunnybraes, Uthrogal, and others. 

Entail by Eakl David's Trustees of part of Glenferness, 1869. 

The trustees of Earl David further, in 1869, purchased the easter portion 
of Glenferness, in the county of Nairn, for £1 2,000/ and soon afterwards 
they made a second entail, 2 narrating that the conveyance of the barony of 
Monimail, disponed in the first place by settlement of Earl David, was found 
to be ineffectual, and the conveyance of the lands therein disponed in the 
second place became operative ; that Lady Elizabeth Leslie Melville Cart- 
wright had failed to establish her right to any of the titles of honour vested 
in her father, and therefore that the whole destination in his settlement in 
favour of heirs-female, not only the first heir-female, but all the substitute 
heirs-female, has become void, and the destination in his settlement now 
stands limited to heirs-male throughout the order of succession. 

This entail of 1869, after referring to the previous entail of Hallhill in 
1864, proceeds to narrate the purchase by the trustees of part of Glenferness, 
being the lands of Airdrie and others as described, which are thereby 
entailed on the same heirs as in the entail of Hallhill in 1864. The entail 
also contains a declaration that John, Earl of Leven and Melville, and each 
heir of entail who should succeed to the lands and others disponed, shall be 

1 On the same date, John, Earl of Leven 2 Dated 19th, 23d, and 26th November, 

and Melville, acquired the wester and larger and recorded in the Register of Entails 10th 
portion of the same property for £47,900. December 1S69. 


obliged to bear, use, and constantly retain the surname of Leslie Melville, 
and the coat armorial of Leven and Melville, without prejudice to his 
bearing, using, and retaining along therewith any other surname and coat 
armorial and other title of honour. A similar declaration is contained in the 
entail of Hallhill and other lands entailed in 1864. 

Exchange and Entail by Earl John of his portion of Glenferness 
for Hilton, etc., in Fife, 1870. 

In the year 1870, John, Earl of Leven and, Melville, proprietor of the 
larger portion of Glenferness in fee-simple, and also proprietor in entail of 
the lands of Hilton and Sunnybraes, and others, entered into a contract of 
excambion and deed of entail whereby he disentailed Hilton and Sunnybraes, 
etc., these lands becoming his property in fee-simple, while he entailed the 
larger portion of Glenferness acquired by himself upon the same series of 
heirs on whom the smaller portion of Glenferness had been entailed by the 
trustees of Earl David in 1869. 1 

General Explanation of Historical Papers at Melville House, and 
Proposal to Print them in 1857. 

While engaged in examining the Melville muniments in reference to the 
succession of the family peerages in the year 1857, as already explained, I 
discovered many interesting historical documents in the extensive collection. 
These included several charters to the family by King William the 
Lion, letters from Mary Queen of Scots, King William the Third, 
and his Queen Mary, Sophia, Electress of Hanover, her son, the Elector, 
afterwards King George the First, and many other distinguished persons. 
I submitted to David, Earl of Leven, that the charters and corre- 
spondence, with a detailed history of the Melvilles, Earls of Melville, 
and the Leslies, Earls of Leven, would form a valuable and interest- 
ing family record. Lord Leven- listened favourably to the suggestion, and 

1 The lands of Hilton and Sunnybraes, etc., and Melville, who left them to his sister, 
thus disentailed by Earl John, were inherited The lands have thus become entirely separa- 
by his son Alexander, the late Earl of Leven ted from the main line of the family. 


some preliminaries were arranged with him for carrying it out, but lie only- 
survived the loss of his son; Lord Balgonie, a few years, and little progress 
was made with the proposed work. Lady Elizabeth Leslie Melville 
Cartwright, who succeeded to the entailed estate of Melville, and her husband, 
Mr. Leslie Melville Cartwright of Melville, however, both favoured the 
proposal for a Melville Family Book, and contributed to carry it out. Under 
the trust-deed of her father, her ladyship had acquired the contents of 
Melville House, including the muniments of the family. Although dis- 
appointed that my investigations into the origin and descent of the Leven 
and Melville peerages did not result in encouraging her to claim one or more 
of them as allowed under her father's trust-deed, her ladyship did not 
challenge my opinion, but generously intrusted me with the custody of such 
of the Melville muniments as had come into my possession, in the hope that 
some favourable opportunity might occur for forming them into a family 
history. Her uncle, Earl John, who was satisfied with my opinion about his 
right to the peerages, and who as the inheritor of them was entitled to the 
delivery of the patents and resignations and regrants, also deposited these 
in my custody. His son and successor, the tenth earl, also followed his 
example in this respect, and I had the satisfaction of being thus intrusted 
both by the heir of line and the heir-male with their respective portions of 
the family muniments. 

The Melville Book, authorised by Lady Elizabeth Leslie Melville 


Lady Elizabeth Leslie Melville Cartwright and her husband, Mr. Leslie 
Melville Cartwright, having thus resolved to carry out the long contemplated 
family history, were pleased to confide to me the task of completing it. The 
writing of other family histories, which were also confided to me, retarded the 
progress of the present work, but it has now been finished in three quarto 
volumes. The first of these contains a detailed History of the families of 
Melville and Leslie from Galfrid Melville, who was a justiciar of Scotland 
in the time of King Malcolm the Maiden and King William the Lion, down 
to his living descendants. The second volume contains the Correspondence 

vol. i. d 


of the family from the time of King James the Fifth and Queen Mary. The 
third and last volume contains the Charters and miscellaneous muniments 
of the family from the time of King William the Lion. 

Prefixed to the respective volumes of Correspondence and Charters are full 
abstracts of the contents of each volume. These abstracts will facilitate 
reference both to the correspondence and charters. There is also a compre- 
hensive index in the third volume, to all the persons and places mentioned 
in the three volumes. 

The Leven and Melville Papers, printed in 1843. 

The late Honourable William" Henry Leslie Melville, who was the 
immediate younger brother of John, ninth Earl of Leven, took a great interest 
in the history of his family, and specially interested himself in their 
muniments. He was for many years in India in the Honourable East India 
Company's service, and after his return to England he became a director of the 
Company. He was a member of the Bannatyne Club, and in the year 1843 
he presented to the members of that club a large quarto volume extending to 
608 pages, and including nearly six hundred letters and papers. The volume 
is known as the " Leven and Melville Papers," or, as more fully described in 
the title-page, " Letters and State Papers chiefly addressed to George, Earl of 
Melville, Secretary of State for Scotland, 1689-1691, from the originals in the 
possession of the Earl of Leven and Melville." A preface, written by Mr. 
Melville, and dated from London, April 1843, extends to 30 pages and is very 
interesting. Lord Macaulay in his " History of England " makes several 
references to that work, and he pays a graceful compliment to Mr. Leslie 
Melville, who, he says, " has deserved well of all students of history, by the 
diligence and fidelity with which he has performed his editorial duties." x 

King Louis Philippe's Copy of the above Work. 

One copy of Mr. Leslie Melville's work had a somewhat romantic history. 
It was presented either by himself or by his eldest brother David, Earl of 
1 " History of England," vol. iv. p. 187 n. 


Leven and -Melville, to Louis Philippe, then king of the French, who had it 
bound in a very sumptuous style, and stamped on both sides with his initials 
L. P., surmounted by a royal crown. At the Kevolution of 1848, the library 
of the king appears to have been at least partially dispersed. His copy of 
the " Leven and Melville Papers " found its way into the shop of a bookseller 
at Bath. A medical gentleman there observed the book for sale, and being a 
friend of Mr. Leslie Melville, he advised him of this. Mr. Melville acquired 
it, and presented it to the library at Melville House, where it is still 

Intended Additional Work on the Melville Family by 
Mr. William Leslie Melville. 

Mr. Leslie Melville's work, although containing nearly 600 of the Melville 
letters and papers, was limited to the two years, 1689-91, when his ancestor 
was Secretary of State for Scotland. His work left untouched the other and 
larger portion of the collection of manuscripts at Melville. Mr. Melville 
continued his study and arrangement of these with a view to the future 
publication of them. He communicated with me on that subject very 
frequently when he was in Edinburgh in the autumn of the year 1852, and 
afterwards. But he had not then any settled plan except that he was 
anxious to make the additional work less bulky than his contribution to the 
Bannatyne Club. Mr. Leslie Melville continued to consider the subject of 
the publication of additional Melville muniments, till the date of his death 
in 1856. He knew the history of his family well, and could dilate upon it 
with great accuracy, and his preface to the Bannatyne contribution shows 
that he had made a careful study of the subject. He often confessed to me 
that the history of the Melville family as given in the Peerage Books was 
imperfect, and he anxiously desired to have it made more complete. From 
his long study of the subject, I had hoped to find some notes or memor- 
anda in addition to his preface,, but no trace of any notes or memoranda by 
him have been discovered, and the only assistance which I have received in 
connection with the present work from Mr. Melville's long labours on the 
family muniments is that contained in his preface to the Bannatyne book. 


Mr. Melville was a very estimable gentleman, much respected by a wide 
circle of relatives and friends. There is at Melville House a characteristic 
oil portrait of him. At the time of his death there was circulated among his 
friends a small sketch in water-colour which showed his features very 

His Disappointment at not finding more of the Correspondence 
of the first Earl of Melville. 

In his preface, Mr. Leslie Melville remarks that " only a few of Lord 
Melville's own letters appear in this collection, but they are all of which 
copies have been preserved." 1 Mr. Leslie Melville explained that he had 
made searches in the British Museum and State Paper Office, and at Welbeck, 
the seat of the Duke of Portland. But he was unsuccessful in finding more 
of his ancestor's letters in these repositories. He remarks with disappoint- 
ment that he was not permitted personally to make the searches in the two 
public offices named, in the same way as he himself was allowed to inspect 
the correspondence at Welbeck. 

More of Lord Melville's Letters since Discovered. 

During my own investigations for letters of the first Earl of Melville, I 
have been more successful. 

In the charter-chest of his «race the Duke of Hamilton I discovered 
twenty-six original letters of the first Earl of Melville, between the years 
1689 and 1692, and they are included in the present work. 2 In the same 
great repository I discovered several letters written by the first Earl of Leven 
to the Marquis of Hamilton, 3 when they were co-operating together under 
Gustavus Adolphus in his great wars. One of these letters from Leslie gives 
a detailed account of the death of Gustavus. All these letters of Leslie, with 
six original letters of Gustavus Adolphus himself, are, from the same source, 
included in the present work. 4 

1 Preface, p. xl. 2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 125, Nos. 149-174. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 77, Nos. 101, 105-107, 109-114. 
* Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 13-21, Nos. 17-22. 


The Volume of Correspondence of the present Work. 

The volume of Correspondence, being the second of this work, is very 
different from the one which was printed by Mr. Leslie Melville, which 
was restricted to the transactions of two years, 1689-1691, in connection 
with the Revolution settlement. The present publication has a much 
wider and a more varied range of subjects. It contains royal letters 
from King James the Fifth, Queen Mary, and successive sovereigns down 
to King William the Fourth, also state and official letters from many 
statesmen in Scotland and England, including John, Duke of Marlborough, 
and John, Duke of Argyll, two great military commanders, Lord Godolphin, 
the high treasurer, and Lord Somers the lord chancellor, about the union 
between England and Scotland. The third division of letters is the family 
or domestic letters. This includes a variety of correspondents, the Duke of 
Monmouth, Jane, Duchess of Gordon, William Cowper the poet, George 
Chalmers on the progress of his " Caledonia," Dr. Thomas Chalmers on his 
removal from the parish of Kilmany by a call to Glasgow, where his 
fame as an eloquent pulpit orator was acquired, George Dempster of 
Dunnichen, Zachary Macaulay, father of the historian, the Earl of Buchan, 
Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe, and other writers of note. 

The Three Melville Brothers and Queen Mary, and her Letters to 
Sir Robert Melville from Lochleven, etc. 

As three Melville brothers, Sir Robert Melville, afterwards first Lord 

Melville, Sir James Melville of Hallhill, author of the Memoirs, and Sir 

Andrew Melville of Garvock, all held places of great trust and confidence 

under Queen Mary and her son, King James, it might be expected that 

more of the queen's letters to them should have been preserved. Any 

letters addressed by the queen to Sir James and Sir Andrew Melville would 

be properly in the custody of their respective representatives. 1 

1 In a book sale at Sotheby's in London, in the cover. It is supposed that it was pre- 

1S79, there occurred a copy of Theodore Beza's sented by the queen to Sir James Melville, 

" Confession of the Christian Faith," printed as it bears his autograph signature. The book 

1560. It belonged to Queen Mary, having was catalogued as an " extraordinary rarity," 

her name stamped in gold on both sides of and it brought the high price of £149. Sir 


Those addressed to Sir Eobert Melville, and now preserved at Melville 
House, are only six in number. Many more letters must have been written 
by Queen Mary to Sir Eobert Melville. One important letter from the 
queen to him as her trusty servant, in which she explains her marriage 
with Bothwell to be submitted to Queen Elizabeth, is printed by Anderson 
in his collection 1 from a state register of letters by Queen Mary among the 
public archives. One of her Majesty's letters to Sir Eobert, written while 
she was a prisoner at Lochleven, is of interest, as it shows the straits to 
which she and her maids of honour were reduced for necessary apparel. 
The island fortress was unsuitable for a royal household as well as a private 
family. The queen requires Melville to send " my madynis clais, for thai 
ar naikit." 2 The same letter discloses that the queen had been bent in 
occupying part of her time in embroidering, as she asks for supplies of 
" sewing gold and silver." 

That letter was printed as part of the Melville papers in the Miscellany 
of the Maitland Club, 3 where there is also given a facsimile of the letter, 
which, however, does not give a true representation of the original, and its 
faded ink, being reproduced in ink of a very dark colour. 

According to popular tradition, the queen's correspondence was so 
watched by her jailers at Lochleven that she was denied proper paper and 
ink. The appearance of the original of this letter might support the legend 
that the queen sometimes had recourse to the soot in the chimney of her 
apartment to serve for ink. The paper on which the letter is written is very 
coarse in quality, and the ink is very faint. 

In a letter from Sir Eobert Melville to the laird of Lochleven he asks 
to be excused to the queen for not sending " her baggage " sooner. 4 

The request in the queen's letter for embroidering needles and other 

materials is the more interesting because the identical work on which she 

Walter Scott paid a tribute to the "Memoirs" 3 Vol. iii. p. 186. The date of the letter 

written by Sir James. He said that they in that work is stated in the heading of it as 

may "justly be compared with the most 3d September 1567, while in the text it is 

valuable materials which British history printed the iiij September. In the print 

affords." — [History of Scotland, edition 1S50, the queen asks " rasene " needles to be sent 

vol. ii. p. 93.] to her at Lochleven. But the original says 

1 Vol. i. pp. 102-107. " rasour " Deedles. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 7, No. 8. 4 Ibid. p. 232. 


and her maidens employed their art at Lochleven is believed to be still in 
existence, in the possession of the Earl of Morton at Dalmahoy House, his 
ancestor being the custodier of Queen Mary. The relic in question is a 
piece of ancient worked tapestry which covers a folding screen. It is 
unfinished as the queen left it at her escape. As described by a lady writer, 
Miss Strickland, 1 who had carefully examined it, the screen is " wrought 
with coloured wools in fine tent stitch, on canvas of precisely the same 
fabric as that used by ladies of our own times for that kind of work ; it is 
about twelve yards in length, but in separate breadths, arranged one above 
another, on a high folding frame to form a screen. . . . The design is most 
elaborate, being a succession of pictorial groups of ladies and gentlemen 
dressed in the costume of the period, and richly decorated with rings, 
brooches, and chains. The jewels are worked in glazed flax thread, in satin 
stitch, and the pearls indicated by white dots." Miss Strickland also in her 
work, to which reference may be made, gives a full account of the figures on 
the screen, which, however, is too long for repetition here. Sir Walter Scott, 
who saw the screen, confessed himself unable to make out the story, and 
fancied it must have been taken from some old ballad or French or Italian 
romance. But Miss Strickland expresses the opinion that the figures on the 
tapestry are " an allegorical illustration of the ill-fated loves of Mary herself 
and Darnley, the opposition to their union by Queen Elizabeth, her deter- 
mined hostility to both, and his tragical death." 2 

Queen Mary at Lochleven Castle, and visits to her there by 
Sir Eobert Melville. 

During the years between 1561, when the queen returned from France to 
take up the rule of her own kingdom, and 1567, when she was imprisoned at 
Lochleven, Queen Mary made several pleasant visits to Lochleven. Apart- 
ments were fitted rip for her reception at the castle with some show of 
royalty, beds and other furniture being provided. 3 Darnley also, on his visits 
to Lochleven, appears to have enjoyed the pleasures of the chase in the 

1 Strickland's Queens of Scotland, vol. vi. p. 32. 2 Ibid. p. 33. 

3 Inventories of Queen Mary, pp. 20, 21, 35, 50, 112. 


neighbourhood. A letter from him as king, dated from Burley Castle, 1 to the 
laird of Lochleven, 11th November 1566, complains of poachers or "common 
shooters," as he calls them, who are to be apprehended with their guns and 
sent to his Majesty. He also orders that no fires be made upon tbe waters 
for fishing, as it scares the fowls. 2 

One of Queen Mary's visitors at Lochleven was John Knox, the reformer, 
who, on 13th April 1563, went to expostulate with her Majesty as to her 
laxity in enforcing the penal laws against the Eoman Catholics. The queen 
and Knox held a long conference in the castle, and again on the following 
day they had a second conference in the west of the town of Kinross, where 
the queen was hawking. 

Her imprisonment at Lochleven began on Tuesday the 17th June 1567, 
and ended by her escape 3 on Sunday, 2d May 1568. 

A fortnight after her imprisonment Sir Robert Melville paid a visit to the 
queen, on 1st July 1567, to report on his embassy to Queen Elizabeth in 
reference to Mary's marriage to Bothwell, and other business. Eight days after- 
wards Sir Eobert Melville again visited Mary at Lochleven. A third visit by 
him soon after followed on 1 7th July, when it is supposed that he hinted to 
the queen an abdication by her in favour of her son. It is said that Melville 
carried to the queen in the scabbard of his sword a letter from Throgmorton, 
the English ambassador, advising Queeir Mary to sign the abdication. 4 
Melville also urged strongly that she should renounce all communication with 
Bothwell. But she declined, giving as one reason that she believed herself to 
be with child, and that a divorce from Bothwell might prejudice any offspring. 
In anticipation of Sir Bobert Melville's visit to her, she had written a letter 
to Bothwell trusting that Sir Bobert would forward it. But Sir Bobert refused 
even to accept of the letter, and the Queen indignantly threw it into the fire. 

Soon after this episode there occurred one of the most painful transac- 

1 The present Lord Balfour of Burley also • and appears in the collection of his well- 
claimed at the same time the title of Lord known etchings printed for the Bannatyne 
Kilwinning. A facetious friend said to the Club. A more elaborate drawing of the 
writer, who was engaged in the case, that royal escape was painted by the late D. 0. 
Kilwinning should be Kilsharp. Hill, secretary of the Scottish Academy, and 

2 Registrum Honoris de Morton, vol. i. p. 14. engraved by William B. Scott. 

3 A drawing of the queen's escape from 4 Memoirs of Queen Mary by Claude Nau, 
the castle was made by John Clerk of Eldin, her secretary, 1SS3, p. 64. 


tions connected with the residence of Queen Mary at Lochleven, namely, 
her resignation, on 24th July 1567, of the crown of Scotland in favour of 
her son, King James. The two commissioners appointed by the parliament 
and the regent were Lord Lindsay of the Byres and Lord Euthven. Their 
unfeeling coercion towards the queen in obtaining her signature to the 
instrument of resignation of her kingdom has been often told, and need not 
be repeated here. But as Sir Bobert Melville was present and took an 
active, although mediating, part in that transaction, and as amid the many 
portraits of royal and noble and distinguished persons at Melville House, 
of which a list is given in this work, 1 none in that large collection has been 
identified as that of Sir Bobert Melville, it may be permissible to exhibit in 
this place a fancy portrait of him which has been drawn by the master-hand 
of Sir Walter Scott, who thus writes : — 

" The personage who rode with Lord Lindsay at the head of the party was 
an absolute contrast to him in manner, form, and features. His thin and silky 
hair was already white, though he seemed not above forty-five or fifty years old. 
His tone of voice was soft and insinuating, — his form thin, spare, and bent by a 
habitual stoop, — his pale cheek was expressive of shrewdness and intelligence, his 
eye was quick though placid, and his whole demeanour mild and conciliatory. 
He rode an ambling nag, such as were used by ladies, clergymen, or others of 
peaceful professions, — wore a riding habit of black velvet, with a cap and feather 
of the same hue, fastened up by a golden medal, — and for show, and as a mark 
of rank rather than for use, carried a walking sword (as the short light rapiers 
were called) without any other arms offensive or defensive." 2 

1 Vol. ii. pp. 336-3-10. Dr. M'Crie, in his dukedom of Montrose, created in the year 
Life of Andrew Melville, regrets that he was 1-4SS. On that occasion partisan feeling ran 
unable to find a portrait of him or of his pretty high, and a noble lord said to the 
nephew James. [Ed. 1S56, p. 492.] writer that the only fault he had to find with 

him was " that he fought against those Lind- 

2 The Abbot, by Sir Walter Scott, ed. says that he loved so dearly." At a later 
1S'20, vol. ii. p. ICO. The writer is tempted period the writer was again engaged in fight- 
to place the companion portrait of Lord Lind- jng — this time on behalf of the Lindsays — 
say, drawn by the same magic hand, beside to establish the claim of the present Lord 
that of Melville, but it is not so germane to Lindsay of the Byres and Earl of Lindsay, 
the present subject. The writer has a profes- All the Lindsays, chief and cadets, have 
sional if not a personal interest in the great treated the writer with characteristic cour- 
house of Lindsay. Forty years ago he as- tesy, whether he was engaged fighting for 
sisted actively in opposing their claim to the or against them professionally. 

VOL. I. e 



Keys found in Lochleven. 

Before passing from the subject of Lochleven and Sir Robert Melville's 
visit there, notice may be taken of a relic with which his name has been 
connected. Sometime before 1820 a key was found in the loch, having 
become entangled in a fisherman's net, and was brought to the minister of 
Kinross, who presented it to the seventh Earl of Leven, and it is now at 
Melville House. 1 It is a little over three inches long, with a Gothic bow 
highly decorated, the neck of open work, and the pipe and wards damasked 
over with engraved flowers. The date 1565 is deeply cut along the out- 
ward edge of the wards and the words " Marie Eex " on the rim of the bow- 
Miss Strickland describes it as a gold or richly gilt key, and assumes, from 
" its ornamental character and the inscription," that it must have been the 
badge of office of Queen Mary's lord chamberlain, " and was probably lost by 
Sir Robert Melville in one of his voyages to or from the castle." 2 

The keys of Lochleven Castle themselves are now in the possession of the 
Earl of Morton. They are five in number, large and small, of antique work- 
manship. The keys are said to have been thrown into the loch by Willie 
Douglas, the lad who assisted Queen Mary to escape, and to have been found 
in the beginning of the present century. Another set of keys, however, are 
said to be in the possession of Sir Charles Adam of Blairadam. Another 
key, with parts of the wards of a lock, was found in Lochleven Castle in 
1831. As represented in a recent popular work, it is much ornamented, 
having human figures and birds twisted into the scroll-work which composes 
the handle. The wards of the lock, which may have belonged to some door 
or chest in the castle, are also curious. 3 

1 A label attached to the key gives the 
history of it. " This key was found in their 
nets by some fishermen on Lochleven, and 
taken by them to the minister of Kinross, 
who gave it to my grandfather. It was lent 
by my father to Lady Harriet St. Clair 
Erskine for the purpose of sketching it. 
She, however, had it copied, which copy is 
now at Dysart House. — Elizabeth Leslie 
Melville Cartwright." 

2 Queens of Scotland, vol. vi. p. 71, n. 

An examination of the key seems to show 
that it is simply of brass, not of gold, as Miss 
Strickland alleges. The inscription " Marie 
Hex " and the date are of very doubtful 
authenticity. The key may be that of an 
old chest or wardrobe, and may or may not 
be connected with Sir Robert Melville. 

3 An engraving of the key and the wards 
will be found in " Castles, Palaces, and 
Prisons of Mary of Scotland," by Charles 
Mackie, ed. 1850, p. 369. 


Queen Mary's Jewels. 

As Queen of Scotland and Queen Dowager of France, Queen Mary 
inherited many valuable jewels. Many of these were for a time in the 
custody of Sir Eobert Melville, who duly delivered them to the queen at 
Bolton in England, as appears from her receipt in his favour. 1 At a later 
date, however, they were rigorously inquired for by the regents, who obtained 
power from parliament to recover them. One of the most valuable was 
the famous "great Harry" which was presented by King Henry the Second 
of France to Queen Mary, his daughter-in-law. The Eegent Murray, it 
appears, had bestowed it upon his wife. She held it with such a firm grasp 
that successive regents were baffled in its recovery. Great rigour was 
observed by the Eegent Morton in his measures for recovering the jewels of 
the queen from holders of them, and in 1573, after the fall of Edinburgh 
Castle, Sir Eobert Melville, as has been said, " with the halter round his 
neck," had to answer for everything which had passed through his hands. 
But his life was spared at the intercession of Queen Elizabeth. 

Family Jewels of the first Earl of Leven. 

The fate of Queen Mary's jewels suggests that the family of Melville also 
have suffered loss of a similar kind. The parliament of Scotland on two 
occasions voted a jewel to the first Earl of Leven. The parliament of 
England also, in 1646, ordered a jewel to be delivered to his excellency 
the Earl of Leven as a testimony of their great respect to him and high 
esteem of his fidelity and gallantry. 2 There is some doubt if he received 
these, but another jewel was given to him by the King of Sweden, to which 
the earl refers in his last will, desiring it may be kept in his family as an 
heirloom. 3 None of these three jewels, if all were received, have been pre- 
served in the family. In the portrait of the first Earl of Leven, an 
engraving of which forms the frontispiece to the second volume of this work, 
there is suspended by a black ribbon around his neck, and on his breast, a 

1 Vol. ii. of this work, p. S. 2 Vol. ii. hereof, p. 96, No. 118. 

3 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 175, No. 129. 


miniature of Gustavus Adolphus. The order of which it was the badge was 
created by the king for his Swedish generals, and the first Earl of Leven is 
the only one known to whom the order was given out of Sweden. Even 
that miniature has not been preserved. 1 

Gold Medal of 1628. 

A solid gold medal, known in the Leven and Melville family as the medal 
of Gustavus Adolphus, has been more fortunate in its preservation. It was 
exhibited by the late Mr. William Leslie Melville, with the consent of his 
brother David, Earl of Leven and Melville, the owner, to a meeting of the 
Numismatic Society on 26th February 1852. It excited much interest, and 
a member remarked that he believed it to be unique. 2 

The obverse bears a pheon within a laurel garland, and the legend, " Deo 
optimo maximo, Imperatori Eomano, Foederi posterisque, 1628," translated 
thus : — 

To God the best and greatest, to the Roman Emperor, to the League and 
to posterity, 1628. 

The reverse bears an inscription, " Memorise • Urbis • Stralsvndae • Ao • 
mdcxxvui • Die • xn • Mai • a • Milite • Csesariano • Cinctse • Aliquoties • oppug- 
natte • Sed ■ Dei ■ gratia • et • ope • inclytor • Eegvm • Septentrional • Die • XXIII • 
Ivli • obsidione • Liberatae ■ S • P • Q • S • F • F • " 

Which being extended is : — 

"Memorise Urbis Stralsvndae, Anno mdcxxvui, die xn Mai, a milite 
Csesariano cmotee, aliquoties oppugnatae ; sed Dei gratia et ope inclytorum 
Eegvm Septentrionalium, die xxin Ivli obsidione liberate. Senatus popu- 
lusque Stralsvndae fabricari fecerunt." 

1 Besides the portrait of the earl referred 
to, there is also at Melville House an en- 
graving, bearing the inscription — " The por- 
tractur of Alexander Leslie, Earle of 
Leaven", Generall of the Scotes armie. 
An. D. 1644." It is a line engraving repre- 
senting him with long hair and beard and 
moustache in the style of King Charles the 
First. Only the bust is shown. Another 

portrait which may be noted, as it is not 
named in the list given in volume second of 
this work, is a miniature likeness of John, 
Earl and Duke of Rothes, brother of Lady 
Margaret Leslie, who married Alexander, 
Lord Balgonie, son of the first Earl of Leven. 
It is contained in a finely enamelled locket. 

2 Letter from J. Y. Akerman, secretary, 
27th February 1S52, at Melville House. 



Which translated is : — ■ 

In memory that the city of Stralsund, on the 12th day of May in the 
year 1628, was beleaguered by the army of the Kaiser, was several times 
attempted to be taken by storm, but by the grace of God, and the succour of 
the renowned Kings of the North, on the 23d day of July was delivered from 
siege, the council and people of Stralsund have caused [this medal] to be 

The event which this medal commemorates is explained in the memoir 
of the first Earl of Leven, 1 who was the hero on the occasion. An accurate 
engraving of both sides of the medal is here given, 

Before passing from the volume of correspondence, it may be noted that 
there are at Melville House many letters which passed between Anna, 
Duchess of Buccleuch and Monmouth and George, first Earl of Melville, and 
his son David, third Earl of Leven, whose countess, Lady Anne Wemyss, 
was a niece of the duchess. The correspondence between these friends 
chiefly relates to the management of the Buccleuch estates by Lord Melville. 
The letters were printed in " The Scotts of Buccleuch," 2 and it has been 
deemed unnecessary to reprint them in the present work. 

1 Vol. i. of this work, p. 389. 2 Vol. ii. pp. 369-377. 



The Melville Charters. 

The third volume contains Charters and Miscellaneous Muniments of 
the Melville family. Eight of these charters were granted by King William 
the Lion between the years 1165 and 1214. Seven of them are in favour of 
the earliest known members of the Melville family — Galfrid of Melville, the 
justiciar, Gregory Melville his son and heir, and Richard the son of Gregory. 
It is very rarely that charters by King William the Lion are preserved in 
Scottish charter-chests : the present collection in that respect may be con- 
sidered unique. Eeference is made in these charters to earlier grants to the 
Melvilles in the time of King Malcolm the Maiden, who reigned between the 
years 1153 and 1165. But these have not been preserved. 1 

A number of the early charters in the Melville charter-chest refer to the 
lands of Inchmartin in the county of Perth. The earliest of these is by 
Henry (of Stirling), one of the natural sons of David, Earl of Huntingdon 
and Garioch. He appears to have acquired the lands of Inchmartin before 
1st November 1241, the date of his charter. It was granted for the sustenta- 
tion of a chaplain to serve for ever in the chapel of Inchmartin within the 
granter's court. The charter grants and provides to the chaplain a variety of 
rents, etc., from various subjects described. He was also to have the 
dwelling-house in which John the chaplain was wont to dwell, with the 
garden and court, and a toft. 

1 Id a recent work there was printed the 
earliest known charter connected with Scot- 
land, along with a facsimile. It was granted 
by King Duncan the Second to the monks of 
St. Cuthbert, in the year 1094, of Tyning- 
hame and other lands. [Memorials of the 
Earls of Haddington, 1S89, vol. i. p. xxiii of 

Shortly after the publication of Duncan's 
charter a noble and distinguished author sent 
to the writer of the present work " Copy 
of the original charter of the lands of Pow- 
mode the year 1057." "I, Malcolm Kan- 
more, King, the first of my reing, gives to 
the barron Hunter, Upper and Nether Pow- 
mode, with all the bounds within the flood, 

with the Hoop, and Hoop town, and all 
the bounds up and down, above the earth 
to heaven, and all below the earth to hell, 
as free to the and thine as ever God gave to 
me and mine, and that for a bow and a brod 
arrow when I come to hunt upon Yarrow. 
And for the mair faith I bite the white wax 
with my teeth, before Margaret, my wife, and 
Mall, my nurse. Sic subscribitur Malcolm 
Kanmore. Margaret, witness; Mall, wit- 
ness." The copy had been recently for- 
warded to the correspondent, who asked if 
the original charter was preserved in Her 
Majesty's General E.egister House. Replying 
in the negative, the writer was bound to add 
his belief that no such charter ever existed. 


These Inchmartin charters appear to have been acquired when the first 
Earl of Leven purchased Inclimartin. He changed the name to Inchleslie. 
After the property was sold by his descendant, these early charters of the 
time of the families of Inchmartin, Glen, and Ogilvie, who long held Inch- 
martin, remained with the Leslies of Leven. These Inchmartin charters 
have been of great use in elucidating the true history of the family of 
Wemyss of Wemyss, who intermarried with the Inchmartins and Glens. 
These intermarriages led to very complicated subdivisions of the Wemyss 
estates. But the preservation of the Inchmartin writs in the Melville 
collection of charters threw valuable light on a very intricate subject. 

Amongst the miscellaneous writs is a licence, in 1463, by King James the 
Third to William Scott of Balwearie, to construct a castle or fortalice in his 
lands of Balwearie, to fortify it with walls and ditches, strengthen it with 
iron gates, and provide it in the upper part with engines of defence, and with 
power to appoint constables, etc. 1 The castle which was thus authorised to 
be built was long occupied by the family of Scott, and the ruins of it are still 
extant. The estate of Balwearie was afterwards acquired by Sir George 
Erskine of Invertiel, and inherited by the Melvilles of Baith, one of the 
minor titles of the first Earl of Melville being Lord Balwearie. 

When Prince Oscar of Sweden and Norway, now the king of these 
countries, was on a visit to Mr. and Lady Elizabeth Melville Cartwright at 
Melville House in the year 1871, His Boyal Highness saw a portion of the 
royal charters and correspondence. He was much interested with the collec- 
tion. A selection of the charters of King William the Lion, and the letters 
of King James the Fifth, Queen Mary, King James the Sixth, arid others, 
were lithographed for Prince Oscar, who was pleased to accept of the 
presentation very graciously. 

Band for the Murder of Pjccio, 

But interesting as these very ancient royal charters of the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries are to the descendants of those to whom they were 
granted, as well as to charter scholars generally, the present collection con- 
1 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 46, No. 49. 


tains some documents possessing even a wider interest. One of these is 
the original band entered into by the Earls of Argyll, Murray, Gleneairn, and 
Rothes, with Lords Boyd and Ochiltree, and their accomplices, to Henry, Lord 
Darnley, as King of Scotland. The band, ostensibly for the purpose of obtain- 
ing the crown-matrimonial for Darnley, bound the granters to take true part 
with him in all his actions, to be friends with his friends, and to be enemies 
to his enemies, and not to spare their lives to do him service. They also 
promised to fortify and maintain Damley's title to the crown of Scotland 
failing succession of the queen. And should any person or persons oppose 
these objects, the banders promise to seek and pursue them, and to extirpate 
them out of the realm of Scotland, or take, or slay them. Of the four earls 
and two lords who were named in the band, only two earls and one lord 
actually subscribed it. These are James Stewart, Earl of Murray, Andrew 
Earl of Rothes, and Andrew Stewart of Ochiltree. The other three signa- 
tures to the band are those of William Kirkcaldy of Grange, John Wishart 
of Pittaro, and James Haliburton, the tutor of Pitcur. 1 

Bond by King Henry Darnley. 

There can be little doubt that Argyll, Gleneairn, and Boyd, who are 
specially named in the bond, though they did not actually adhibit their names, 
were privy to its object as much as the Earl of Murray and the other five 
who signed. Indeed, most of the nobility of Scotland were implicated, 
though only a few took a prominent part. The leaders of the conspiracy, 
however, distrusted Darnley so much that, while they pledged themselves to 
aid his views in regard to Riccio, they forced the king to bind himself to 
keep the whole of those concerned scatheless for the intended murder. Such 

1 The band is dated at Newcastle the 2d omitted the indorsation on the original — 

March 1565-6. It was printed by Goodall, " Ane band maid be my Lord of Murray 

but without the signatures. It was again, and certane other noblemen with him befoir 

along with other documents, printed in the the slauchtir of Davie." This indorsation is 

year 1S43 in the third volume of the Miscel- in a contemporary handwriting. There is 

lany of the Maitland Club, by the permission another indorsation in a later hand : " Ane 

of David, Earl of Leven and Melville. The band subscrywit to the Kyngis Maiestes 

six signatures adhibited to the band are there derrest fader." 
given in facsimile. But there has been 

BOND BY DARNLEY, 1566. xxxiii 

a bond, conceived in general terms, the king granted to Murray and his 
friends, but he also granted one of wider scope, in which he expressly affirmed 
his design against " aue straunger Italian callid David," and stated that as he 
could not carry out his purpose alone, he had drawn certain " nobilite, erles, 
lords, barons, freholders, gentilmen, marchaints, and craftsmen," to assist him. 
This important document, which Darnley violated almost immediately after 
the murder, has often been referred to, and is printed by Goodall, 1 but as its 
contents are not so well known as those of the other bonds, the terms of it 
are here inserted from a copy in an English handwriting, preserved in the 
British Museum : — 

" Beit kend till all men by thies present lettres, We, Henry, by the grace of 
God King of Scotland and husband to the Queues Maieste, forasmekle we, having 
consyderation of the gentle and good nature, with many other good qualites, in her 
Maieste, we haue thought pete, and also thinketh it great conscience to vs that is 
her husband, to suffer her to be abused or seduced by eerteyn priuey persons, which 
it and vngodly [sic] not regarding her Maiestes honnour, ours, the nobilite therof, 
nor the common weal of the same, but sekes their oun commodites and priuey 
gaynes, specially ane straunger Italian callid Dauid, which may be thoccasion of her 
Maiestes destruction, ours, the nobilite and coniun weall of the same, without hasty 
remedye be putt therunto, which we ar willing to do, and to that effect we have 
devised to take their piriuey persons, ennemys to her Maieste, vs, the nobilite and 
common weale to punish them conform to their demerits, and in causes of any diffi- 
cultye to cutt them of immediately and sla them where ever it happens : And bycaus 
we cannot accomplish the same without thassistence of others, Therefor have we 
drawen certain of our nobilite, erles, lords, barons, freholders, gent., marchaints, and 
craftsmen, to assist vs in this our entreprise which cannot be finished without great 
hurt : And bycaus it may chaunce that there be sundry great persons present, who 
may make them ganestand our entreprise, wherewith sum of them may be slayn, 
and likewise of ours, wherewith perpetuel fead may be contracted betwixt the 
one pertye and the other, Therfor we bynd and oblige vs, our heyres and 
successors, to the said earles, lords, barons, freholders, gentilmen, marchants, and 
craftsmen, their heyres and successors, that we shall except the forsayd fead on vs 
and fortifye and maynteyn them at the vttermoost of our powers ; and shalbe 
freend to their freends and ennemy to their ennemys ; and shall neither suffer 
them nor theirs to be molested nor troubled in their bodyes, lands, goodds, rowmes, 
possessions, so far as is in vs: And if any person wold call any of the sayd earles, 
1 Goodall's Queen Mary, vol. i. pp. 266-8. 

VOL. I. / 


lords, barons, freholders, gentilmen, marchants, and craftsmen, for entreprising or 
assisting with vs for achieving of our purpos, bycause it may chaunce to be don in 
the presence of the Quenes Maieste or within her pallaice of Holy-roudhouse, we 
by the woord of a prince shall accept to take the same on vs, now as then and 
then as nowe, and shall warraunt and kepe harmeles the forsayd earles, lords, 
barons, freholders, gent., marchants, and craftsmen at our vtter power. In witnes 
wherof we haue subscribed this present with our hand. At Edinbrough the first 
of March the yeres of God 1565." l 

Death of Kiccio. 

The bond by the king, as above cited, was dated 1st March 1565-66, and 
that by Murray and his friends at Newcastle on the following clay. A week 
afterwards, on Saturday evening, 9th March, the unhappy Eiccio was 
murdered in the queen's apartments at Holyrood. The circumstances 
attending " the slauchtir of Davie "have been often told by historians, but 
the account of it by Mr. Tytler is so graphic that it may be permissible to 
repeat it here : — 

" On Saturday evening about seven o'clock, when it was dark, the Earls of 
Morton and Lindsay, with a hundred and fifty men bearing torches and weapons, 
occupied the court of the palace of Holyrood, seized the gates without resistance, 
and closed them against all but their own friends. At this moment Mary was 
at supper in a small closet or cabinet, which entered from her bed-chamber. 
She was attended by the Countess of Argyll, the commendator of Holyrood, 
Beaton, master of the household, Arthur Erskine, captain of the guard, and her 
secretary, Eiccio. The bed-chamber communicated by a secret turnpike stair 
with the king's apartment below, to which the conspirators had been admitted ; 
and Darnley, ascending this stair, threw up the arras which concealed its opening 
in the wall, entered the little apartment where Mary sat, and casting his arm 
fondly round her waist, seated himself beside her at table. A minute had 
scarcely passed when Euthven, clad in complete armour, abruptly broke in. 
This man had just risen from a sickbed ; his features were sunk and pale from 
disease, his voice hollow, and his whole appearance haggard and terrible. Mary, 
who was now seven months gone with child, started up in terror, commanding 
him to be gone ; but ere the words were uttered torches gleamed in the outer 
room, a confused noise of voices and weapons was heard, and the next moment 
George Douglas, Car of Faudonside, and other conspirators, rushed into the 
1 British Museum, Calig. B. ix. f. 216. 


closet. Buthven now drew his dagger, and calling out that their business was 
with Eiccio, made an effort to seize him ; whilst this miserable victim, springing 
behind the queen, clung by her gown, and in his broken language called out, 
' Giustizia ! giustizia ! sauve ma vie, madame ; sauve ma vie ! ' All was now 
uproar and confusion ; and though Mary earnestly implored them to have mercy, 
they were deaf to her entreaties. The table and lights were thrown down ; 
Eiccio was stabbed by Douglas over the queen's shoulder ; Car of Faudonside, 
one of the most ferocious of the conspirators, held a pistol to her breast, and 
whilst she shrieked with terror, their bleeding victim was torn from her knees 
and dragged, amidst shouts and execrations, through the queen's bedroom to the 
entrance of the presence-chamber. Here Morton and his men rushed upon him, 
and buried their daggers in his body. So eager and reckless were they in their 
ferocity, that in the struggle to get at him they wounded one another ; nor did 
they think the work complete till the body was mangled by fifty-six wounds, 1 
and left in a pool of blood, with the king's dagger sticking in it, to show, as was 
afterwards alleged, that he had sanctioned the murder. 

" Nothing can more strongly show the ferocious manners of the times than an 
incident which now occurred. Euthven, faint from sickness, and reeking from 
the scene of blood, staggered into the queen's cabinet, where Mary still stood 
distracted and in terror of her life. Here he threw himself upon a seat, called 
for a cup of wine, and being reproached for the cruelty of his conduct, not only 
vindicated himself and his associates, but plunged a new dagger into the heart of 
the unhappy queen by declaring that her husband had advised the whole. She 
was then ignorant of the completion of the murder, but suddenly one of her ladies 
rushed into the room and cried out that their victim was slain. ' And is it so ! ' 
said Mary ; ' then farewell tears, we must now think of revenge.' " 2 

1 Thirty-four of these are said to have died a natural death. But two of his sons 
been in his hack. were murdered. The elder of the two was 

the notorious James Stewart, the usurper of 

2 Tytler's History, Edition 1845, vol. v. pp. the earldom of Arran. A more pleasing 
343-5. It may be noted that as the signatories reminiscence of Lord Ochiltree's family is 
to the bond at Newcastle were six of the the fact that his daughter Margaret married 
most prominent actors in the affairs of the reformer John Knox, of whom Lord 
Scotland, so two of them at least met Ochiltree was a strong supporter. Her 
with violent deaths. Murray, called "the second husband was Andrew Ker of Fawdon- 
good Regent," was assassinated, while Sir side, son of the man who earned the 
William Kirkcaldy of Grange was executed. unenviable distinction of having actively 
Andrew, Lord Ochiltree, although wounded assisted in the murder of Riccio, and of 
in the battle of Langside, is believed to have presenting a pistol at the Queen. 


Darnley's Denial op his Bond. 

As a sequel to the bond already quoted, in which Darnley affirmed his 
murderous intentions towards Kiccio, and bound himself to shield and support 
his accomplices, the proclamation by which lie afterwards asserted his 
innocence is noteworthy. The very event which his fellow-conspirators 
dreaded, and against which they tried to guard, happened as they feared. 
Darnley was swayed by the queen, first to accompany her out of Edinburgh, 
and then to betray his accomplices. Three days after the murder, the Icing 
and queen fled to Dunbar, and five days later returned to Edinburgh accom- 
panied by a considerable armed force. The conspirators took alarm and 
escaped from Scotland, before a decree of the privy council was issued 
against them on 19th March 1565-6. * In issuing this decree the queen 
asserted that she was assured of the assistance of her husband, who had 
declared to her in the presence of the council his innocency of the conspiracy, 
and a formal proclamation to this effect was published on the following day. 
The general opinion as to which proceeding may be gathered from Knox, who 
says that it " made all understanding men laugh . . . since the king not only 
had given his consent, but also had subscribed the bond ; " while another 
historian writes, " All men were discharged by proclamation to affirme that 
the king was partaker or privie to the last fact ; wherat nianie smiled." 
The proclamation has been printed by Goodall, 2 but as his work is little 
known, it is repeated here :— 

" Apud Edinbroug, xx Martii 1565. 
" Forasmuchas diuers sedicious and wicked persons haue maliciously sowed 
rumors, bruts, and pryve whisperings amongst the lieges of our realm, slaunder- 
ously and irreverently backbiting the kings majestie, as that the late conspiracye 
and cruel murder committed in presence of the quenes majeste, and treasonable 
deteyning of her majestes moost noble persone in captiuitye, was done at his com- 
maundement, by his counsaill, assistence, and approbation, his grace, for the 
removing of the evill opinion which the good subiects may be induced to conceyve 
through such false reports and sedicious rumors, hath aswell to the quenes 
majeste as in the presence of the lords of secret counsaill, plainly declared, vppon 

1 Register of Privy Council, vol. i. pp. 436, 437. 

2 Goodall's Queen Mary, vol. i. pp. 280, 281. 


his honour, fidelite, and the woord of a prince, that he nevir knewe of any part of 
the sayd treasonable conspiracye wherof he is slaundrously and sakelesly tra- 
duced, nor never counsailed, commaunded, consented, assisted, nor approved the 
same. Thus farr onely his highnes oversaw himself in to, that at the intisement 
and perswasion of the sayd late conspirators, his grace, without the queues 
majestes advise and knowledge, consented to the bringing home out of England 
of the Earles of Murrey, Glencarn, Rothes, and other persons being theer, with 
whom her highnes was offended, which he hath in no wise denyed, and this is 
the simple, syncere, and playn truth, to all and sun-dry to whome it effers be it 
made knowen and manifest by thies presents." l 

There is probably truth in the assertions of the enemies of Eiccio that he 
acquired an undue influence in the management of state business, owing to 
the partiality of Mary. During the five years which Eiccio was in the 
service of the queen, he rose rapidly in her favour and confidence. He was a 
Savoyard of humble parentage. He came to Edinburgh in the train of the 
ambassador of the Duke of Savoy. He was soon afterwards appointed one of 
the valets of the queen. After a service in that capacity, he was promoted 
to the more important office of French secretary, and at the same time seems 
to have acted as privy purse both to the king and queen. The enemies 
of Eiccio maintain that he was deformed in his person and unprepossessing 
in his appearance. These defects he strove to hide by the gorgeousness 
of his apparel. Knox says "that at this time, 1565, David Eiccio, Italian, 
began to be higher exalted, inasmuch as there was no matter or thing of 
importance done without his advice." 2 Buchanan even goes the length of 
saying that Mary wished to make Eiccio a peer of Scotland, and to invest 
him with the old lordship and barony of Melville. 3 At the time of Eiecio's 
murder, James, Lord Eoss of Hawkhead was proprietor of the lordship of 
Melville, and it appears that Queen Mary had occasionally resided at the 
house of Melville, and that her Italian secretary had been so frequently 
visitor to her there, that even the house of Melville came to be called Eiccio's 
house. Lord Euthven, as the chief actor in the murder of Eiccio, upbraided 
the queen that Eiccio " had caused her Majesty to put out the Lord Eoss 

1 Caligula B. ix. fol. 217 (copy). 

2 Knox's History, vol. ii. p. 513, vide also p. 519. 

3 Buchanan, Lib. xvii. cap. 55. 


from his whole lands, because he would not give over the lordship of Melvin 
to the said Davie." x 

Among other prominent documents in this volume may be noted the 
commissions granted by the convention of estates in 1639 and 1640 
appointing Sir Alexander Leslie, afterwards the first Earl of Leven, to be 
general of the forces. So unanimous were these commissions that they bear 
the signature of nearly every member of the estates. The first of the two, 
that of 1639, is printed for the first time in this work, but the second was 
printed in the Miscellany of the Maitland Club in 1843, and facsimiles were 
given of all the signatures. 

Manuscripts at Melville House. 

In addition to the various charters and letters printed or referred to in 
these volumes, there are at Melville the following manuscripts of interest : — 

1. A manuscript copy of Bishop Leslie's History of Scotland, in a hand- 
writing of the later part of the sixteenth century. 2 

2. A copy of the National Covenant of 1580. as renewed in 1638, and 
subscribed in 1639, by Sir Alexander Leslie, afterwards first Earl of Leven. 
His signature is the third from the left, immediately following those of the 
Earls of Argyll and Rothes, and is followed by the names of Eglinton, Dun- 
fermline, Lindsay, Wigtown, Montrose, and others. 

3. A volume of Minutes of the Privy Council during a portion of the 
year 1689 and 1690. They are apparently copies of the daily minutes 
which were made for Alexander, Lord Eaith, and they have since been 
collected and bound together. 

To these may be added a number of Household books, from about the 
year 1630 onwards, some of which have been quoted from in the memoirs. 
Various members of the family also, who held high official positions, have 
left a large collection of documents, which it was impossible to include in 
this work, but which may supply materials for a future historian. 

1 Scotia Rediviva, p. 341. the gaps in it have been supplied by a modern 

hand from a Ms. of similar date in the British 
- The original MS. is much mutilated, and Museum. 



During the seven centuries and upwards in which the family of Melville 
have flourished in Scotland they have been prominently associated with the 
baronies of Melville in Midlothian, and Eaith and Monimail or Melville in 
Fife, and other territorial possessions. This appears from the history of the 
family ; but it may be interesting to trace here the successive baronies and 
lands of the Melvilles in more comprehensive form than could well be done 
in the memoirs. 

1. The Lordship, Barony, and Parish of Melville, in Midlothian. 

As stated in the memoir of Galfrid Melville, the first lord of Melville, he 
appears to have bestowed his own name upon a portion of the lands which 
he held in Midlothian. The extent of the lands thus named Melville, which 
lay on the banks of the North Esk, is somewhat difficult to define, as neither 
the early nor later charters give any indication on the point. The lands of 
Melville, however, gave name to the whole possessions which Galfrid Mel- 
ville and his posterity held in Scotland, as at a very early date they are 
described as lords of the barony of Melville. 

The original charter of erection of the barony of Melville has not been 
discovered, but it must have been previous to the year 1429, as in that year 
John Melville was served heir to his father, Thomas Melville, in the barony 
of Melville. 1 The barony, however, was of new erected by King James the 
Fourth in favour of John, second Lord Boss of Hawkhead, the son of Agnes 
Melville, the heiress of Melville. The charter, which is dated 21st February 
1509, describes the lands then possessed by the granter as the heir of the 
Melvilles, but without detailing their boundaries or extent. The lands then 
comprehended in the barony were : the town and lands of Melville, with 
mill; the lands of Stenhouse, with mill ; and the lands of Mosshouses, all in 
the county of Edinburgh : Tartraven ; Preston, with mill ; and Waterston, in 

1 Retoui-. Inventory ol Melville writs. 


the county of Linlithgow : and the land of " Morowingsidis " or Muiravon- 
side, in the county of Stirling. 

The barony of Melville thus re-erected was, however, not identical with 
the earlier lordship of Melville. In 1344 the barony of Melville, as it is then 
called, included, in addition to the lands named in the charter of 1509, the 
lands of Leadburn in Peeblesshire, and in 1379 it also included Greviston 
or Grieston and Hallmyre, in the same county, with Hawthornden, and the 
superiority at least of the lands of Granton, both in the county of Edinburgh. 

All these territories were in the possession of the lords of Melville, and a 
brief notice of each, in the order of their acquisition so far as known, may 
here be given. 

The earliest Melville charter which has been preserved is a grant by 
King William the Lion to Galfrid Melville and his son of that land 
which Malbeth held in Liberton, having the same marches, and the land 
of Lecbernard or Letbernard. Both these lands had belonged to Malbet, a 
baron of the time of King David the First, who in one or two charters 
is called Malbet of Liberton. He is also named Malbet Ber or Bere, 
and in two instances his name is spelt Macbet. He was owner of a part of 
the modern parish of Liberton, and apparently founded the church of that 
parish, which he endowed with lands in Liberton and also with a grant from 
Letbernard, probably Leadburn. It is doubtless from the name of this baron 
of Liberton that the popular tradition arose that the ancient church of that 
parish was founded by King Macbeth. 

The particular lands in Liberton thus granted to Galfrid Melville cannot 
be ascertained, but they do not appear to have remained long in the possession 
of the Melville family, as no reference is made to them in charters later than 
1190. They probably lay near or round the tower of Liberton, but a portion 
of them was granted by the younger Galfrid Melville to the monks of Holy- 
rood, and the rest may have been otherwise disposed of. 

Perhaps, however, the district known as Liberton then comprehended the 
lands now known as Melville, from the name of Galfrid Melville, who is the 
first recorded owner. These are the lands of Melville Grange, South Melville, 
Wester Melville, Melville Mains, with the parks and haughs round and near 
Melville Castle in Midlothian, with Elginhaugh, Westfield, and other pendicles 


in the neighbourhood. The estate as thus formed is situated in the three 
modern parishes of Liberton, Dalkeith, and Lasswade, but it may originally 
have been in the territory known as Liberton. 

The present fine castellated edifice of Melville Castle was built in the year 
1786, after plans by John Playfair, architect, on the site of the old house or 
fortalice of Melville. It was built for the Eight Honourable Henry Dundas, 
afterwards Viscount Melville, who took his title from the estate which had 
been purchased by his father-in-law, Mr. David Kenuie, from the Lords Eoss, 
the former owners. 1 There is reference to a house at Melville so early as the 
year 1177, which was probably erected by Galfrid Melville, but it does not 
appear to have been a castle. Nor is there in any charter, so far as has been 
found, any reference to a fortalice or tower on the lands, the place being 
mentioned merely as the principal messuage. 

The connection of Queen Mary's secretary, David Eiccio, with Melville 
has been noted, and tradition may be correct in stating that he planted 
some of the fine ti'ees in the grounds. One of these trees, an old oak, which 
bears his name, still remains. It is ' on the right-hand side of the approach 
looking towards the castle from the west, and about 250 yards from it. It 
is 48 feet high, and its circumference 20 feet 10 inches, according to 
measurements made some years ago. 2 

The existence of a mansion-house at Melville in the time of Queen Mary 
is instructed by a contract dated at Melville in the year 1573, between Lord 
and Lady Eoss, then proprietors of Melville, and John Hering in Gilmerton, 
as to coal working on the Melville estate. The document is of some interest 
as a specimen of such agreements. The parties to it are James, fourth Lord 
Eoss, with his wife, Jean Sempill, on the one part, and John Hering, in 

1 There is at Melville Castle a painting of Victoria also visited the castle in 1842. The 

the old mansion of Melville, made shortly larger of Lord Eklin's etchings has been 

before its demolition in the year 1786. Two reproduced in Grant's "Old aud New Edin- 

etchings of Melville Castle by John Clerk of burgh," vol. iii. p. 363. There is an engrav- 

Eldiu were made shortly before its removal ing of the new castle in " The Beauties of 

to make way for the new castle. These Scotland, 1819," and it is also photographed 

etchings show the large trees near the ca3tle in the "Castles and Mansions of the Lothians," 

[Clerk's Etchings, Bannatyne Club, 1855, No. [vol. ii.]. 

x.] King George the Fourth visited Melville 2 Oak Trees of Scotland in Transactions of 

Castle when in Scotland in 1822, and Queen the Highland Society. 

VOL. I. a 


Gilmerton, for himself and his colliers, on the other. Hering undertakes, 
" God willing," to win coal and coal-heughs within the bounds and farms of 
Melville, Easter and Wester, and binds himself and his craftsmen to enter 
eight colliers to labour the place where the coal shall happen to be, within 
three days from date, who shall be partners with him in all expenses and 
profits of working the coal. They shall labour a level and water-pots for 
drawing off water and keeping dry the coal and coal-heughs. Hering also 
promises to work the coal, upper and nether, in such a way that "the samin sail 
not be fullzeit ouir-rwn nor waistit be ony maner of way, and to work and seik 
the mane coill, vuir and nethir, to the vtirmest hall of the samin, sa fer as pos- 
sibill is to ony workmen to laubour or do in sic behaulffls." The contract is to 
endure for two years only from the date of Hering's entry on 14 th November 1573. 

Lord and Lady Boss, on the other hand, bind themselves to cause " men 
of jwgement and vnderstanding " to examine the work twice or thrice or 
oftener in the year, and if it be not clone to the owner's profit, the contract 
shall be void. It shall also expire if Hering should die or fail within the two 
years. Lord and Lady Boss are also bound to pay Hering one-half of the 
expenses incurred in winning the coal, and to find " and sustene quarrell 
mellis, quarrell pikis, wageis, towis, forkis, rowis, doggis, and buckattis, if 
neid beis to that effect, as vse is requiseit in sic caiss." Further, Hering for 
performing the contract shall have the third of Lord and Lady Boss's part 
of the coal that shall happen to be won, he sustaining the third of the 
expenses as they do. Providing always that the grieve or overseer to be 
appointed over the coal working shall be chosen by Lord Boss and Lady Boss. 
They shall also receive from Hering yearly during the contract three dozen 
draughts of coal, one dozen at Christmas, Easter, and Whitsunday respec- 
tively, which coals are to be free and not named or counted as " pairtismenis 
pairtis nor collearis coillis." The parties bind themselves faithfully to observe 
the contract, which is dated at Melville on the 11th November 1573. 1 

Whether Galfrid Melville built a house or stronghold on his property or 
not, one of his first acts was to erect and endow a church at Melville, the 

1 Original contract. Among the witnesses and Sir John Holland, notary public. The 
are John Ross of Swanston, John Ross in latter is known as the author of "The Court 
Tartraven, Hew Ross, brother to Lord Ross, of Venus" and other poems. 


patronage of which he granted to the monks at Dunfermline, and which they 

held down to the Reformation. He endowed the church with lands which 

cannot now be traced by name, but which probably comprised part of the 

hangh land by the side of the North Esk. The church was dedicated to St. 

Andrew, and the parish, called Melville, afterwards attached to it was 

composed of the barony of Melville and the smaller barony of Lugton near 

Dalkeith. 1 In 1615 the church was in a ruinous condition. The parish had 

previously, in 1583, been united by the general assembly to Newbattle, but 

in 1632 the commissioners of teinds suppressed the parish, described as 

" the paroch kirk and parochine of St. Androis." They also disjoined " the 

tounes and lands of Lugtoun and Melvill, with thair pertinents," of which 

the parish was composed, and united Lugton to Dalkeith and Melville to 

Lasswade, an arrangement which was ratified by parliament in the year 1633. 2 

The exact situation of the old church of Melville is believed to have been within 

the grounds of St. Anne's, Lasswade, the present residence of Dr. Falconer. 

Only a small portion of the foundations can now be said to remain of the 

ancient building, which must have stood close to the river Esk, as in May 

1642 the kirk-session of Lasswade paid to Francis Somervell six shillings "for 

uptaking the stanes that fell from St. Andro's kirk end into the water." So 

early as 1622, at a visitation of the kirk and parish of Lasswade, Archbishop 

Spottiswood gave permission for repairs of the kirkyard dyke to be made with 

stones from the kirk of Melville, then in ruins. Further demolition of the 

building was made in 1659, when stones were taken from it by permission of 

Lord Eoss to build a manse for the minister of Lasswade. In the garden of 

St. Anne's, human bones are frequently dug up, revealing the site of the 

1 The building stood within a stone-cast of them until about 1620. The king then pre- 

the church of Lasswade, and on account of sented the vacant stipend, glebe, and teinds 

this proximity it was not provided either with to Mr. James Porteous, minister of Lasswade, 

a minister or reader at the Reformation; but who was a member of the assembly of 163S, 

Mr. John Aird, an "expectant" or proba- and died in 1643, "being one of those ac- 

tioner in Dalkeith presbytery, had charge as counted eminent in their day for ' grace and 

a minister at Melville from 1612 to 1614. He gifts or faithfulness and success.' " [Memorials 

probably, however, did not enjoy the fruits of the Montgomeries, vol. ii. p. 287 ; Scott's 

of the benefice, as these had been granted by Fasti, Part I. pp. 2S9, 293.] 
King James the Sixth in 1586 to John Her- 

ries, minister of Newbattle, and again in 2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. 

1610 to another John Herries, who enjoyed v. pp. 145, 146. 


ancient burying-ground of Melville ; and an old resident in the neighbour- 
hood remembers tbat when a boy he saw cartdoads of soil containing remains 
of the dead carted from tbe site of the old carpet-manufactory at St. Anne's 
and spread upon the school green. The burial-ground was used long after 
the church became ruinous. In 1634 the kirk-session of Lasswade enacted 
that a register should be kept, both of those buried in the kirkyard of Lass- 
wade " and St. Andros quhilk is for Melville, from this day foorth." x 

The Lords Loss, probably as representing the Melville family, also held 
rights over certain lands in Liberton parish known as the "Jvirklands of St. 
Catherine, called the Oyliewell." These lands belonged to a very ancient 
chapel dedicated to St. Catherine, which stood, with its burying-ground, near 
the modern mansion of St. Catherine's. The remains of it, however, have long 
since disappeared. A rising ground to the east, now known as Gracemount, 
was formerly called Priesthill, and may have formed part of the kirklands of 
St. Catherine's. The fact that Lord Koss was patron of the cha.pel seems to 
point to a right inherited from the lords of Melville, but this is not instructed 
by extant charter evidence of an early date. The " Oyliewell " or Balmwell 
of St. Catherine's was at one time an object of veneration for its healing 
powers. King James the Sixth on his visit to Scotland in 1617 went to see 
it. The well is still in good preservation. 

2. The Lands of Leadburn in the Pabish of Penicuik. 

Although the lands of Lecbernard, Letbernard, or Leadburn, which also 
had belonged to Malbet, were, like those of Melville, in the possession of 
Galfrid Melville from the time of King Malcolm the Fourth, there is very 
little mention of them in the extant writs of the family, and no very definite 
information has been obtained from other sources. The lands were in the 
possession of John Melville, lord of the Barony of Melville, in 1344, but the 
territory appears to have been broken up before the time of his grandson of 
the same name, who mortgaged various parts of his lands. So far as can be 
gathered the Leadburn which was granted to Galfrid Melville included the 
modern lands of Halls, Mosshouses, Temple Hall, as well as the modern 
Leadburn, and probably others which have not been ascertained. Of these 
1 From information supplied by a gentleman at Loanbead, and communicated to the writer. 


lands Halls passed into possession of a branch of the family of Eamsay. 
Temple Hall was mortgaged in 1386 to Sir William Douglas of Strathbrock. 
Mosshouses was also mortgaged to Henry Douglas of Logton about 1392, 1 
but was apparently redeemed, as it was inherited by Lord Eoss with the rest 
of the Barony of Melville. 

3. Lands of Stenhouse, Liberton. 

The small estate of Stenhouse, situated to the east of, and not far from the 
church of, Liberton, was among the earliest possessions of the Melvilles. It 
was for a time in the hands of Galfrid Melville, the younger, ancestor of the 
Melvilles of Carnbee, and his descendants also held it in tenandry along with 
their lands of Granton. But it reverted to the main line, as it is named in 
the charter of the Barony of Melville in favour of Lord Boss in 1509. 

4. Lands of Tartraven, Breston, and Others in Linlithgowshire. 

These lands are not named in any of the early charters by King William 
the Lion now in the Melville charter-chest, but they were in possession of the 
family at a very early period, if not so early as the time of King Malcolm the 
Fourth. Tartraven, or Betrevyn as it was then called, formed part of the 
dowry of Matilda Malherbe, the second wife of Galfrid Melville the elder, 
about 1180. The lands in Linlithgowshire, afterwards incorporated in the 
barony of Melville, appear to have been Breston, Tartraven, and Mid- 
Tartraven, with the mains of Breston and Tartraven and others lying near. 

At Tartraven there was a chapel dedicated to St. Leonard, which was 
endowed, if not erected, by Sir Bichard Melville about 1200, and placed under 
the charge of the prior and canons of St. Andrews, with whom a special 
agreement concerning it was made in the year 1314 by John Melville of that 
ilk. The further history of the chapel has not been ascertained. 

5. Muiravonside, in Stirlingshire. 

Among the other lands erected in 1509 into the united barony of 
Melville was the territory of Muiravonside, a place which now gives name to 
a parish. The " Statistical Account " of the parish and other authorities give 
1 Registrum Honoris de Morton, vol. ii. p. 179. 


the popular name of it as " Moranside," deriving the name from the moory 
character of the district. The earliest charter, however, in which it is named 
in this work, dated between 1189 and 1199, furnishes a different reason for 
the name given to the parish. Between these years Sir Eichard Melville 
married Margaret Prat, daughter of Eeginald Prat, lord of Tynedale, in 
Northumberland, who granted as his daughter's dowry his lands of " Mor- 
gunessete " or " Murganesete." The lands which thus came into possession 
of the lords of Melville, and the boundaries of which are fnlly given in the 
charter to Sir Eichard Melville, 1 though their limits cannot now be traced, 
evidently took their name from one of their principal land-marks, described 
in the charter as the seat of St. Morgan. The land-mark in question may be 
the eminence known as Sight Hill, but who St. Morgan was is doubtful. 
There is no St. Morgan in the Eomish calendar, though a St. Moran or Moder- 
andus has a place there. The latter, however, is not usually reckoned among 
Scottish Saints, and it is probable that " Morgan " is merely a variation of 
the name of St. Marnan or St. Miren, both of whom were prominent teachers 
in Scotland. This view is corroborated by the fact that the parish church is 
said to have been dedicated to St. Marnua. 

The present parish of Muiravonside was formed in 1648. In terms of a 
petition by James, Earl of Callendar, patron of the churches of Falkirk, 
Denny, and Muiravonside, Parliament, on the recommendation also of the 
presbytery of Linlithgow, disjoined from Falkirk the church and parish of 
Muiravonside, reserving the rights of the patron, and granting all privileges 
due to the minister of the parish. 2 

Hawthornden in Midlothian. 

Besides the barony of Melville, which, as shown, comprehended in 1509 
not only the lands of that name in Midlothian, but also the other estates 
enumerated above, the Melvilles held for a time other lands, which did not 
descend with the heiress of Melville to the Eoss family. Of these the most 
important was the estate of Hawthornden, which was the property of John 
Melville of Melville in 1386, and he for a time resided at the castle. 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 4, 5. 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. vi. part ii. p. 119. 


This possession of Hawthornden by the Melvilles has been unnoticed by 
historians. In the time of King Eobert Bruce the castle of Hawthornden 
and the lands round it were in the hands of Sir Laurence Abernethy, a cadet 
of the family of Abernethy of Saltoun. In 1338 he was a partisan of the 
English, and held the castle in their interest. His lands of Hawthornden in 
Midlothian, Myrehall or Halmyre in Peeblesshire, Borthwickshiels in Box- 
burghshire, and Lamberton in Berwickshire, were forfeited to the Crown, and 
granted by King David the Second to various persons. 1 According to a 
recent writer, the greater portion of the lands forfeited by Sir Laurence were 
restored to his son Hugh, and were afterwards inherited by daughters of Sir 
Laurence, co-heiresses. 2 There is no evidence given in support of this last 
statement, but it is not improbable that it was in some such way that the 
lands of Hawthornden came to John Melville. For it would appear that he 
held also part of the lands of Halmyre in Peeblesshire, which had belonged 
to Sir Laurence Abernethy, and this fact corroborates the probability of a 
division between co-heiresses. But the evidence presently available does not 
show whether John Melville himself married one of these co-heiresses, or 
whether he inherited from one of them as his mother or grandmother, but 
the latter view is the most probable. 

Some authorities, ignorant of the Melville connection with Hawthornden, 
have stated that in 1388 it was in possession of the Abernethys, who sold it 
to the family of Douglas. The lands of Hawthornden did come into the 
hands of a family of the name of Douglas, who occupied them until about 
1596, when they were sold to Sir John Drummond, father of the celebrated 
poet. But the transactions which took place in 1386, 1399, and 1400, 
between John Melville and his " cousin " or kinsman, Sir William Douglas, 
son and heir of Sir James Douglas of Strathbrock, were the first dealings 
of the Douglases with the lands, which came into their possession at a 
later date. The writs by John Melville are in the form of leases, but 
they were in reality wadsets or mortgages, as in the first document he 
refers to a sum of money paid to him, for which he leases the lands for 
ten years. But how or when the Douglases obtained full possession of 

1 Kobertson's Index, pp. 5i, 56, 57, 116. 

2 The Frasers of Philorth, by Lord Saltoun, vol. ii. pp. 158, 159. 


Hawthornden cannot be learned from any documents now in the Melville 

John Melville refers also to part of the lands of Grieston, in Traquair 
parish and Buteland, in Currie parish, which may also have come to him with 
Hawthornden. Grieston remained in the hands of the Melvilles until 1473, 
but its later history, and also that of Buteland, have not been ascertained. 

Melville House and the Palace of Monimail, in Fife. 

This noble mansion, which was erected by George, first Earl of Melville, 
about 1692, stands a short distance to the south of an older building called 
the Palace of Monimail, from its being the country residence of the bishops 
and archbishops of St. Andrews. 1 The lands of Monimail, on which the 
palace was built, were in possession of the see of St. Andrews at a very 
early date. Only a portion of the old palace now remains. It is known 
as Cardinal Beaton's Tower, and a lithographed representation of it, as well as 
of Melville House, is given in the present work. 

The acquisition of the house or palace of Monimail by Sir Eobert Melville 
of Murdochcairnie has been explained in his memoir, and the circumstances 
under which John Hamilton, archbishop of St. Andrews, sold the house in 
1564 to Sir James Balfour of Pittendreich have also been narrated. These 
need not be repeated here, as the writs there quoted contain all the informa- 
tion now in the Melville charter-chest. But the archbishop's charter, and 
that to Sir Bobert Melville, only deal with the house and its immediate 
surroundings, the green before the outer gate, the whole being described as 
" within all the principal dykes," which were probably mounds of turf which 
fenced off the house and grounds from the neighbouring lands, which had 
been feued to separate proprietors. 

1 John Hamilton, archbishop of St. Andrews, of the well, declaring that the cure was really 

was residing at his palace of Monimail, when effected by the exercise enjoined upon " the 

he was cured of a dangerous malady (phthisis, lazy prelate," as he calls him, of walking to 

according to some writers) by Jerome Oar- and from the well, though the distance is 

dan, the famous Italian physician, by means inconsiderable. A few yeai-s ago a young 

of the healing virtues of a well, which is calf, grazing in the park in which the well is 

adjacent to the palace, and is still known as situated, fell into it and was drowned. The 

Cardan's well. A late minister of the parish well has thus the distinction of having cured 

of Monimail, however, disputed the virtues an archbishop and killed a calf. 

















1 feiH 

o itfss 




I \Mmmr 
i Pi 

" i i 

i ill 


Monimail, as afterwards erected into a temporal barony in 1 6 1 3, in favour 
of Sir Eobert Melville of Murdochcairnie, comprehended the place of Moni- 
mail and the lands of Letham, Monksmire, Edensmoor, with the teinds of the 
parish of Monimail and others, as resigned by Sir Eobert in the hands of the 
Crown. These lands, some of which were occupied by portioners, had been 
gradually acquired by Sir Eobert, and his son, the second Lord Melville, 
added Montagart to their number, as shown by his resignation in 1627. In 
1643 the old family estate of Eaith was also included in the lordship, and 
in 1669 King Charles the Second granted a new charter of erection, adding 
to the barony of Monimail the lands of Pitlair and Balwearie. 

The house of Monimail continued to be known by that name until about 
1692, when the new house was built and called Melville. Sir Eobert Sibbald 
describes it in 1710 as a great, noble, and regular new house, richly furnished, 
with office-houses without, large gardens, vast enclosures for pasture and 
barren-planting. The house was erected in the style of the period, and is a 
large square building consisting of two principal stories, with a basement and 
attic. Two deep projecting wings enclosed a court at the original front, but 
the front has since been changed, a new entrance made at what was formerly 
the back, and the court has been laid out as a parterre, ornamented with 
shrubs and flowers. The saloon, or hall, measures forty-five feet by twenty- 
four. The park which surrounds the house is enriched with a fine display of 
noble trees. The old approach is very grand, having on each side a double 
row of beech-trees of great height and beauty, but, though the trees still re- 
main, a new winding approach has been made through the richly wooded park. 

In the year 1733, between six and seven o'clock in the morning of the 
27th October, while all the family were in bed, Melville House, then occupied 
by Alexander, fifth Earl of Leven, was struck by lightning, and the effects of 
the electric fluid were so remarkable that they were thought worthy of the 
attention of the Eoyal Society in London, and were fully described by 
Professor Colin Maclaurin of Edinburgh in a letter to Sir Hans Sloan. 1 The 
letter was accompanied by plans in explanation of the statements made, and 
is also too long to be inserted here. But it would appear that the lightning 
affected almost every room in the house, which was roofed with lead. One 
1 The Letter was printed in the Scots Magazine of the period. 

VOL. I. h 


" chimney head " or stalk was struck level with the roof, and the stones 
scattered to the distance of one hundred feet from the house. In some of the 
rooms little damage was done — some gilding melted or a pane of glass cracked, 
while in others stones were thrown out of the wall, panels loosened or splin- 
tered, pictures tarnished or thrown from one side to the other of the apart- 
ment, glasses broken, and other similar injuries inflicted upon the furniture. 
There were also breaches in the walls, some of considerable extent, others 
trifling, and such occurred in rooms far apart from each other. 

In the bed-chamber of Lord and Lady Leven two panes of one window 
were broken, and the pieces of glass driven towards the bed on the opposite 
side of the room. In the corner next that window the mouldings of the 
panels were broken off and also thrown towards the bed. The mirror of a 
dressing-glass that stood under these was broken to pieces and the quick- 
silver melted off, but the frame was entire and stood in its place, though it 
smelt of sulphur some hours afterwards. A picture close by was tarnished, 
and others beat against the opposite sides of the room, but not tarnished. 
A mirror between the two windows was entire, though a panel under it was 
struck out, while a chest of drawers in front of the panel suffered no harm. 
Other damage was done in the room, but it was comparatively slight. 

Lord Leven's personal experiences are thus described : — " He was awak'd 
with the noise of a great gust of wind, that, upon looking up and drawing the 
curtain, he perceived the lightning enter the room with a great brightness, 
appearing of a blewish colour, in the corner where it did most mischief. The 
brightness of it made him cover his eyes for a moment, then, looking up, the 
light seem'd to him to have abated, and the blewish colour had disappeared ; 
at the same time he heard the thunder, which had an uncommon noise. He 
compares it to that which is made by the rings of a curtain when drawn 
violently over the rod. He felt at the same time the bed and the whole room 
shake, and was like to be choaked with the sulphur. The room was full of 
smoke, partly occasioned by the soot that came down the chimney. When 
my lady's woman, on ringing of the bell, open'd the door, she says she was 
scarce able to enter for the sulphurious steams that filled the room." 1 The 
latter, fortunately, was large and of a good height. It may be added that no 

1 From copy of letter in Melville Charter-chest, made in 17S6 for the sixth Earl of Leven. 


one in the house was injured in any way, except that Lord Leven's eyes were 
uncomfortable for a few days from the brilliancy of the lightning. 

Eaith and Abbotshall, in Fife. 

Of the early history of the lands of Eaith there is no trace in the extant 
charters of the Melville family. These show that John Melville was 
proprietor of Eaith in the year 1412. But from a charter granted in 1474 
by Henry, Abbot of Dunfermline, to William Melville, then laird of Eaith, 
we learn that the lands belonged to the abbey of Dunfermline as superiors, 
forming part of their regality, and were held by the Melvilles for an annual 
payment of £5 Scots, with the services of ward and relief. 1 The lands of 
Eaith do not appear under that name in the register of the abbey of Dun- 
fermline until 1474, the date of the above writ; but they were probably in- 
cluded in the territory described as " Kirkcaldyshire," gifted to the monastery 
at its foundation by King Malcolm Canmore and Queen Margaret. 2 The 
district thus named included the parish of Abbotshall, in which Eaith is 
now situated, but which was disjoined from Kirkcaldy only in 1650. 

The monks appear to have had at one time a dispute as to the possession 
of that portion of their territory, for at a later date King David the First 
repeated the grant made by his father and mother of the whole shire of 
Kirkcaldy, which Constantine, Earl of Fife, had withheld from the abbey by 
force. He further prohibited the heirs of Earl Constantine from challenging 
the grant. After this Balwearie and other places in the neighbourhood 
appear separately in the abbey register, but not Eaith, so that the time of its 
acquisition by the Melvilles has not been ascertained. 

The history of the barony while in their hands may be gathered from the 
memoirs. It was incorporated with the larger barony of Melville in 1643, 
and sold by David, third Earl of Leven, in 1725 to the ancestor of the 
present proprietor, Mr. Munro Ferguson. The mansion-house is thus 
noticed by Sibbald ; " Eaith, the ancient seat of the chief of the Melvills, 
who had, and yet have, sundry lands in this shire. The Lord Eaith, trea- 
surer-depute, built a very good new house here, with all its attendants of 

1 "Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 47-49. 2 Registrum de Dunfermelyn, p. 1. 


gardens and others, and it has some old barren -planting." 1 The house then 
built has since been added to and improved in appearance. 

The present mansion-house of Eaith stands upon the summit of a con- 
siderable hill, and is surrounded by extensive and beautiful pleasure-grounds, 
in front of which there is a large lake. A view taken from the south of the 
house and lake and grounds is given in " Fife Illustrated." 2 

In the gardens of Eaith House there is a large yew-tree of great antiquity, 
which indicates the site of the mansion of Abbotshall, to which the abbots 
of Dunfermline occasionally retired as one of the country seats belonging to 
that rich ecclesiastical establishment. Abbotshall House, which was built of 
stone, and appears to have been of considerable strength, with the grounds 
and the port of Burntisland, were resigned by the abbot into the hands of 
Kiug James the Fifth. At a later period Queen Mary conferred Abbotshall 
upon Sir Eobert Melville of Murdochcairnie, whose right was confirmed in 
1586 by King James the Sixth, and by Patrick, Master of Gray, who was 
for a time commendator of Dunfermline. 3 The old country house of the 
abbots probably became incorporated with the estate of Eaith in the time 
of John, third Lord Melville. 

The Territorial Earldom of Leven and Lordship and Barony of 
Balgonie, erected in 1664. 

Although the territory of Balgonie has now passed to other hands, it 
was for two centuries in the possession of the Earls of Leven and Melville. 
The title of Lord Balgonie was derived from the lands and castle of that 
name. The castle was inhabited by the earls till the year 1824, and a short 
notice of the castle may here be appropriate. It is situated on a steep 
bank overhanging the river Leven, crowning an eminence about thirty-six 
feet above the bed of the stream. The building consists of an ancient 
tower or keep, with a more modern house of three stories communicating 
with it, to which a wing has been added. The more ancient tower is 
eighty feet high, and measures forty-five feet by thirty-six feet over walls. 

1 Sibbakl, p. 125. 2 By Joseph Swan, etc., 1840, vol. ii. 

3 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 125-127. 







It appears to date from the fourteenth or fifteenth century, and was pro- 
bably erected by the Sibbalds, the first recorded owners of the lands. The 
castle and lands passed by an heiress, Elizabeth Sibbald, about 1450, to the 
family of Lundie, from whom they were acquired by Sir Alexander Leslie, 
afterwards first Earl of Leven. He made large additions to the house, and 
laid out new gardens and extensive enclosures around it on both sides of 
the river Leven. The character of the foundations suggest that the additions 
then made were raised upon those of an earlier building. The castle was 
formerly surrounded on three sides with a ditch and mound of earth, the 
fourth side being defended by the steep bank towards the river Leven. 

Balgonie was a favourite residence of the sixth and seventh Earls of 
Leven, but was sold in 1824 by David, Earl of Leven and Melville, to James 
Balfour of Whittinghame. The price was £104,000 sterling. Mr. Balfour 
provided Balgonie to his second sou, Charles Balfour, who was succeeded in 
it by his son, Charles Barrington Balfour of Balgonie and Newton Don. 
A lithographed view of Balgonie Castle is given in the present work. 

In addition to the baronies and lands now described, as possessed by the 
main stem, several branches of the Melville family acquired other lands 
and baronies in different parts of Scotland. Prominent among these cadets 
were the Melvilles of Glenbervie in the parish of that name, in the county 
of Kincardine, of which Philip Melville was sheriff, in the reign of King- 
Alexander the Second. 

Of one of that sheriff's descendants, John Melville, Laird of Glenbervie, 
himself also sheriff of the Mearns, a painful tradition has been persistently 
preserved of his death in the neighbouring parish of Garvock. It is thus 
detailed by the minister of that parish : l — 

" In a hollow at the east side of the parish is said to be the place where the 
sheriff was boiled. The tradition is this, and affords a sad specimen of the 
barbarity of the times of James I., about 1420. Melville, the Laird of Glenbervie 
and sheriff of the Mearns, had, by a strict exercise of his authority, rendered him- 
self obnoxious to the surrounding barons, who having teased the king by repeated 
complaints against him, at last, in a fit of impatience, the king said to Barclay. 

1 New Statistical Account, Garvock, vol. xi. p. 34. 


laird of Mathers, who had come with another complaint : ' Sorroiv gin that sheriff' 
war sodden and suppit in broo.' ' As your majesty pleases,' said Barclay, and 
immediately withdrew — went and assembled his neighbours, the lairds of 
Lauriston, Arbuthnott, Pitarrow, and Halkerton — appointed a great hunting- 
match in the forest of Garvock, to which they kindly invited the devoted Melville. 
And having privately got ready a large kettle of boiling water in a retired place,, 
they decoyed unsuspecting Melville to the fatal spot, knocked him down, stripped 
him, and threw him into the boiling kettle. And after he was boiled or soddt n 
for some time, they took each a spoonful of the soup. To screen himself from 
royal justice Barclay built that fortress in the parish of St. Cyrus, called the 
Kaim of Mathers, on a perj)endicular and peninsular rock, sixty feet above the 
sea, where in those days he lived quite secure. The laird of Arbuthnott claimed 
and obtained the benefit of the law of Clan Macduff, which, in case of homicide, 
allowed a pardon to any one within the ninth degree of kindred to Macduff, 
Thane of Fife, who should flee to his cross, which then stood near Lindores, on 
the march between Fife and Strathern, and pay a fine. The pardon is still extant 
in Arbuthnott House. 1 On the fate of the other conspirators the voice of tradi- 
tion has died away. The field where this horrid deed happened still retains the 
name of Brownies' Leys, because from the murderous deed then perpetrated, it 
was long supposed to be haunted by the sprites called Brownies." 

The main line of the Melvilles of Glenbervie continued till the reign of 
King James the Second, when Elizabeth and Giles or Egidia Melville, 
daughters and co-heiresses of Alexander Melville of Glenbervie, inherited 
that property. Elizabeth Melville married Sir John Auchenleck of that ilk 
in the county of Ayr, while Giles Melville married James Auchenleck, 
younger brother of Sir John. The grandchild and heir-female of Sir John 
Auchenleck and Elizabeth Melville was Elizabeth Auchenleck. She in- 
herited Glenbervie and married Sir William Douglas of Braidwood, son of 
Archibald, fifth Earl of Angus, " Bell the Cat." Their descendants became 
prominent as Douglases of Glenbervie and as Earls of Angus. 2 

A branch of the Melvilles of Glenbervie inherited the separate estates of 
Dysaet, in the parish of Maryton, and Baldovie, in the parish of Craig, both 

1 This is not now the case, and as shown was unaccompanied by the horrible acces- 

by a MS. of Principal Arbuthnott, preserved sories described by the tradition, 

at Arbuthnott House, the death of Sheriff 2 The Douglas Book, 1885, vol. ii. pp. Ill 

Melville was brought about in hot blood, and et seq. 


in the county of Forfar. Andrew Melville, the famous Presbyterian divine, 
and who has been called the father of Scottish Presbytery, and his nephew, 
James Melville, minister of Kilrennie in Fife, and author of the Diaiy which 
bears his name, were cadets of the Melvilles of Glenbervie, being descended 
from the Melvilles of Baldovie. 

Andrew Melville found an able and learned biographer in Dr. Thomas 
M'Crie, and his Life of Melville is well known. In the edition of 1856 an 
original letter from Andrew Melville, written at Sedan in 1617, is printed, and 
also given in facsimile. He subscribes it " An : Melvin." Another signature 
of Melville as principal of St. Mary's College, St. Andrews, is here given : — 

His father used the proper name of Melville, of which Melvin is a 
corruption. In Dr. M'Crie's " Life of Melville " much genealogical informa- 
tion is given regarding his family* 

Another branch of the Melville family early acquired the barony of 
Carnbee, in the parish of that name in the county of Fife. In the Baronage 
of Scotland by Sir Bobert Douglas, a detailed descent of the Melvilles of 
Carnbee is given under the title of " Melvilles of Strathkinness and Craig- 
toun." 2 The Melvilles of Carnbee are there traced from Sir Bichard Mel- 
ville, knight in the reign of King Alexander the Second, down to Bobert 
Melville, a general in the army, who bought Strathkinness and Craigtoun, and 
afterwards erected a new mansion which he called Mount Melville. 

It does not, however, fall within the scope of the present work to give a 
detailed history of these branches of the Melville family, or of other less pro- 
minent cadets, who also acquired estates in different parts of Scotland. 

Two families so prominent as the Melvilles of Melville and the Leslies of 
Leven, both celebrated for civil and military service in the history of Scotland, 

1 Memorials of the Earls of Haddington, Melvilles of Carnbee are also noticed in 
vol. i. p. xxxi. Wood's East Neuk of Fife, p. 330. 

2 Douglas Baronage 1798, p. 527. The 


could not fail to attract the attention of historians. Eeference has heen made 
to the previous publication by the Maitland Club and others of portions of 
the Melville muniments. At an earlier date the celebrated Charter scholar, 
Mr. Thomas Thomson, advocate, who was the first Deputy Clerk-Eegister of 
Scotland, was intrusted by Alexander, Earl of Leven and Melville, with the 
arrangement of his family muniments. In a letter to his lordship, Mr. 
Thomson explains the progress that had been made in arranging the valuable 
papers which Lord Leven had intrusted to his care. After apologising that 
his other avocations had prevented the arrangements from being as yet quite 
completed, Mr. Thomson adds : " Your Lordship may rest assured that I shall 
allow no unnecessary or unavoidable delay to prevent the completion of the 
plan which I have in view, and which will, I flatter myself, add considerably 
to the historical, as well as the private, interest of the great, but very con- 
fused, mass of documents which were intrusted to me." 

Mr. Thomson concludes his letter with an expression of regret at being 
unable to accept of Lord Leven's very kind invitation to inspect the other 
literary treasures in his lordship's possession, as his occupations had kept 
him a prisoner in Edinburgh during all the year. 1 

The arrangement of the Melville Eapers undertaken by Mr. Thomson 
was never completed. No trace, indeed, of their having been intrusted to 
him appears in the Melville muniments except in his letter now quoted. 
This is much to be regretted, as he had the largest experience of such work 
of any man in Scotland. From the time of his appointment to his office of 
Deputy Clerk-Eegister, in the year 1806, until the year 1841, when he ceased 

1 Original letter at Melville House, dated " is on the same side of the street with Walter 

from Castle Street, Edinburgh, 2Sth October " Scott's, but a little lower down. . . . His 

1818. Mr. Deputy-Register Thomson had a mother took a house in South Castle Street." 

partiality for occupying houses in Castle [Memoir of Thomas Thomson, 1854, p. 33, 

Street. He had houses successively in both n. 7.] Sir Walter Scott's house in Castle 

the south and north divisions of it. " His Street was No. 39, where his immortal ro- 

" first house was up ' a common stair,' then mances were chiefly written. He had pre- 

" numbered 19 in North Castle Street. In viously occupied No. 19 in South Castle 

" 1799 he had moved to what was then 32 Street. Shortly before his bride was brought 

" South Castle Street, and about 1804 to a to his lodging in No. 108 George Street, the 

" house with a street-door in his time num- back windows of which overlook the court in 

" bered 12, now 61, North Castle Street. It the rear of No. 32 Castle Street. 


to hold it, he bestowed great care and labour on the improvement and 
arrangement of the National Eecords of Scotland preserved in Her Majesty's 
General Eegister House in Edinburgh. The folio edition of the Acts of the 
Parliaments of Scotland, generally known by his name, is a monument to 
his learning and ability. Headers of " The Monastery " will remember Sir 
"Walter Scott's graphic description of Mr. Thomson as Mr. Deputy-Eegister 
of Scotland. It occurs in the passage where Captain Clutterbuck is repre- 
sented as conversing with the stranger who came to explore Melrose Abbey. 
The captain was the local authority, and he was taken by surprise when the 
stranger displayed more knowledge than himself. It is explained that 
" much of the stranger's arguments and inductions rested upon the authority 
" of Mr. Deputy-Eegister of Scotland and his lucubrations ; a gentleman 
" whose indefatigable research into the national records is like to destroy my 
" trade, and that of all local antiquaries, by substituting truth instead of 
" legend and romance. Alas ! I would the learned gentleman did but know 
" how difficult it is for us dealers in petty wares of antiquity to 

" ' Pluck from our memories a rooted " legend " ; 
" Raze out the written records of our brain, 
" Or cleanse our bosoms of that perilous stuff,' 

" and so forth. It would, I am sure, move his pity to think how many old 
" dogs he hath set to learn new tricks, how many venerable parrots he hath 
" taught to sing a new song, how many grey heads he hath addled by vain 
" attempts to exchange their old mumpsimus for his new sumpsimus. But let 
" it pass. Humana perpessi sumus. All changes round us, past, present, and 
" to come ; that which was history yesterday becomes fable to-day, and the 
" truth of to-day is hatched into a lie by to-morrow." x 

" Nothing," it has been said, " is so ravishing as records." During the 
thirty-five years from 1806 to 1841, when the first Deputy Clerk-Eegister 
of Scotland held office amongst the national records, he must have enjoyed 
the pleasurable sensation referred to. For even a longer period than that 
accorded to Mr. Thomson, the writer in various forms, and latterly as Deputy- 
Keeper of the Eecords, has had to acknowledge the services of the first 

1 The Monastery, ed. 1S70, p. 24. 
VOL. I. i 


Depnty-Eegister. As a humble follower in the paths so successfully trod by 
so great a master, the writer has endeavoured to set forth in previous works 
the history and records of many of the noble and baronial families of 
Scotland. In the present work he has again been assisted by friends who 
deserve his special thanks for cordial co-operation. He must add that the 
generous confidence and ready assistance which have been afforded to him by 
those most interested in the present work have greatly lessened his labours. 
Lady Elizabeth Leslie-Melville Cartwright and her husband, Mr. Leslie- 
Melville Cartwright, have not only intrusted to him unreservedly their 
valuable muniments, but have shown enlightened liberality in printing 
these exhaustively, and illustrating them extensively with the family 
portraits, ancient charters and letters, castles, medals, etc. 

Exactly seventy-two years have elapsed since 1818, when the letter of 
the first Deputy Clerk-Eegister was written from Castle Street, Edinburgh, 
explaining his delay in not arranging the Melville muniments. At the end 
of these seventy-two years, and in the same street, another and humbler 
deputy-custodier of the Eecords has completed the arrangement which was 
then only commenced. 

A great writer has said that " those only deserve to be remembered who 
treasure up a history of their ancestors." The present amiable heiress of the 
Melvilles and Leslies may be deemed worthy of the commendation of being 
held in remembrance by the treasuring up of the present Eecord of her 
Ancient Eace. 


Edinburgh, 32 Castle Street, 
November 1890. 



FROM 1160 TO 1458. 

According to tradition, the original ancestor of the family of Melville was 
one of those Hungarian noblemen who are said to have accompanied from 
their exile in Hungary the Saxon Prince Edgar Atheling and his sisters the 
Princesses Margaret and Cristina, to Scotland in the year 1068. To this it 
is added that this nobleman afterwards received from King Malcolm Can- 
more, who married the Princess Margaret, a grant of various lands in 
Midlothian, on which he built Castle Melville, and became the progenitor 
of all the Melvilles in Scotland. 

Tbis account of the origin of the Melvilles in Scotland, which resembles 
the mythical tale of Prince Maurice, the fabled ancestor of the Drum- 
monds, 1 is varied by another theory put forth by a comparatively recent 
writer. Mr. Chalmers, the author of " Caledonia," thus writes : " Before the 
middle of the twelfth century, a person of Anglo-Norman lineage, who was 
called Male, settled under David I., on some lands in Midlothian, which he 
obtained from that beneficent prince. Male and Maule were probably of the 
same race. Male, who obtained the lands in Lothian, called the place where 
he settled, Male-ville, and from this local appellation, his family were distin- 
guished by the surname of Male-ville." 2 

With regard to this statement, however, no person of the name of Male 
is found in any record of the time of King David the First, and Mr. 
Chalmers adduces no authority in support of this part of his theory. On 
the other hand, there is good reason to believe that the Melvilles are 
of Norman descent. Among those who accompanied William, Duke of 

1 Cf. The Red Book of Menteitk, by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., vol. i. p. liii. 

2 Caledonia, vol. i. p. 524. 

VOL. I. A 


Normandy, on his expedition against England in 1066 appears the name 
of Guillaume de Malleville, 1 who probably, like other adherents of the 
Conqueror, obtained lands and settled in England, whence his descendants, 
like so many other Anglo-Normans, came to Scotland. In another list he is 
referred to as " Le Sieur de Malleville," and he, or a relative of the same 
name, was a member of the expedition undertaken in 1096 by Eobert Curt- 
hose, Duke of Normandy, and Godfrey of Bouillon, Duke of Lorraine. 2 

Further notices of the name of Maleville or Melville in England are very 
few. The name has not been found in Domesday Book, but during the reigns 
of King Henry the Second and his son, Eichard Coeur-de-Lion [1154-1199]. 
Stephen and Eobert Malluvell or Melville, brothers, appear as owners of 
seven oxgangs of land in Eavenston, in the county of Nottingham. 3 During 
the reign of Henry the Third, in 1272, an English jury found that John, son 
and heir of William of Maleville, was sixteen years of age in April of that 
year. No locality is named, but about the same time the manor of Halstead, 
in Kent, was vacant by the death of William of Malevile, who may have 
been father of John. Twenty-five years later another John of Malevyle, and 
an Alicia of Malevyle appear as two of three heirs of Thomas Tycheseye, a 
proprietor in Surrey. 4 To these facts it may be added that, so recently as 
1667, there were three principal families of the name of Malleville in 
Normandy, represented by the Seigneur de Carville, the Sieur de la Fosse, 
and the Sieur de Champeaux, du Thuit Nollent, du Flessis. 5 The Norman 
origin of the family of Melville may therefore be inferred from the fore- 
going facts, while it is evident that the name survived both in England and 
Normandy long after it was established in Scotland. 

1 Nobiliaire de Normandie, par E. de vol. i. p. 234. 

Magny, p. 5. 5 Nobiliaire de Normandie, pp. 9S, 99. 

2 Histoire Generale de Normandie, par Their names and arms are given as follows : 
Dumoulin, p. 190, App. p. 16. His name and " Malleville (de) Chevalier, seigneur de Car- 
arms are given asfollow: "MonsieurGuillaume ville, etc. ; D'azur, au chef denche d'argent, 
Malleuille, d'azur a vn chef d'argent endente' charge d'un lean leoparde de gueules: Malle- 
de l'vn a l'autre vn lyonceau de gueulles ville (de) Ecuyer, sieur de la Fosse ; De 
passant en chef." gueules, a trois molettes, d'eperon d'or ; Malle- 

3 Abbreviatio plaeitorum, Record Publica- ville (de) Ecuyer, sieur de Champeaux, du 
tions, pp. 4, 45. a.d. 1150-1199. Thuit-Nollent, du Plessis, etc. ; D'argent, au 

4 Calendarium Genealogicum, Rolls Publi- chevron d'azur, accompagne de trois roses de 
cations, pp. 156, 536 ; Eotuli Hundredoriim, gueules. 

the first loud of melville. 3 

Galfrid Melville, Lord of Melville, 
Sheriff of Edinburgh Castle, and Justiciary of Scotland, c. 1150-1180. 

Nothing has been ascertained, even from English records, of the 
immediate parentage and descent of the subject of this notice, Galfrid 
Melville, who was the first of his family to settle in the northern kingdom. 
He is first found on record in a charter by King Malcolm the Fourth, dated 
in the year 1162. 1 As already stated, Mr. Chalmers assigns an earlier date 
to the first ancestor of the Melvilles in Scotland, but no proof of this has 
been discovered, and all the grants of land in favour of Galfrid Melville date 
only from the time of King Malcolm the Maiden. 

But whatever was his origin, Galfrid Melville, at his earliest appearance 
in Scottish record, is found occupying the important office of sheriff of Edin- 
burgh Castle, and he thus at once comes into notice as a trusted servant of 
the king. The extent of the jurisdiction of the sheriff of Edinburgh Castle 
cannot be clearly defined, but it is probable that his sheriffdom included 
Midlothian, and perhaps also East Lothian, which was a separate constabu- 
lary, situated within the sheriffdom of Edinburgh. 2 Apart, however, from 
the actual extent of his jurisdiction, the sheriff's duties must have been 
onerous. A sheriff was required to attend the king's courts, to receive com- 
plaints before they were heard by the king, and to further as far as possible 
within his own territory the business of the government for the sovereign's 
benefit. These duties must have been rendered the more weighty in Galfrid's 
case, as the castle of Edinburgh was a prominent royal residence, on which 
account, also, his office must have been one of special honour. The writ in 
which he is first named shows him engaged in one of the duties commonly 
performed by the sheriff — settling the boundaries of a landed property. King 
Malcolm had just bestowed upon the monks of Kewbattle a large tract of 

1 Fiegistrum de Neubotle, pp. xxxvi, 122, 2 Ibid, ut supra. Linlithgow or West 

123. The date is fixed by the fact that Lothian and Lanarkshire, as appears from 

Arnald, bishop of St. Andrews, one of the the same writ in which the sheriff of 

witnesses, died in September 1162, while Edinburgh Castle is named, were each under 

Puchard Morville, another witness, succeeded a separate sheriff, who is conjoined with 

his father as constable at an earlier date in Galfrid Melville in carrying out an order of 

the same year. the king. 


land in Clydesdale, named Dunpelder, now represented by Drumpellier, and 
comprehending the modern parishes of Old and New Monkland. To define 
the marches of this extensive territory the king directed Galfrid Melville, 
whom he describes " as my sheriff of the castle of the Maidens," and two 
other sheriffs, Baldwin, sheriff of Lanark, and Uchtred, sheriff of Linlithgow, 
to perambulate the lands and give sasine to the monks. 1 A few years later, 
in 1165, Galfrid Melville, along with Uchtred, sheriff of Linlithgow, performed 
a similar service on behalf of the monks of Holyrood, to whom King Malcolm 
gave the church lands of Bathgate. In this case also the sheriffs acted in 
obedience to a mandate from the king, and the lands were measured in 
presence of the abbot of the monastery. 2 

Besides the fact that Galfrid Melville occupied the trusted post of sheriff 
of a royal residence and adjacent district, the numerous grants of land which 
he received from King Malcolm the Fourth indicate that he was in high 
favour with that monarch. The original charters to Galfrid have not been 
preserved, except in one instance, but from that and later writs, with other 
evidence, we learn that among the lands he received from King Malcolm 
were a part of Liberton parish with Leebernard (Leadburn) in Midlothian. 3 
He also possessed estates in the county of Linlithgow, and either then or at a 
later date the lands called Melville in Midlothian. 

The lands which Galfrid Melville possessed in Liberton are described as 

" that land which Malbeth held in Liberton." This former possessor of the 

lands is variously described as Malbeth and Malbet, or Macbet Bere, and also 

as Malbet or Malbead of Liberton. He was a baron of the time of King 

David the First, and appears as a witness to several charters by that monarch 

and his son, Henry, Earl of Northumberland. Previous to 1147, Malbet 

made a grant to King David's new abbey of Holyrood of two oxgangs of land, 

with the chapel of Liberton, and the teinds and dues of things living and dead 

in Legbernard. Legbernard, or Leebernard, appears to survive in the modern 

name of Leadburn, and at that time comprehended a considerable portion of 

1 Registrum de Neubotle, pp. xxxvi, 122, 2 Ibid. p. 22S ; Register of Holyrood, 

123. The former proprietor of the lands was pp. 24, 208, 209. Galfrid Melville is also a 

Gillepatrik Makerin, evidently a Celt, and witness to the king's grant of the lands, 
several men with Celtic names were to assist 

the sheriffs. 3 Cf. vol. iii. of this work, p. 1. 


the parish of Penicuik. Galfrid Melville was in possession of the lands of 
Liberton and Leadburn between 1153 and 1165, and he or his son of same 
name confirmed his predecessor's gift to the monks of Holyrood. 1 

The lands which Galfrid Melville possessed in the county of Linlithgow 
are more difficult to define, but they were probably identical with those held 
later by his descendants, including the barony of Preston near the town of 
Linlithgow, with Eetreven or Tartraven and others, in the same neighbour- 
hood. 2 Besides these lands it would appear that the subject of this notice 
held the lands now known as Melville. It is not clear whether these were 
comprehended in the territory of Liberton or not, but it is probable Galfrid 
gave his own name to the lands when he founded the church of Melville. 
The precise year of its foundation is not clear, as the date of the charter 
in which it is first named, and by which it was conveyed to the abbey of 
Dunfermline, cannot be more nearly stated than between 1177 and 1188. 
Galfrid, however, refers to the church as already dedicated, and grants the 
church, with the land assigned to it at its dedication, to the monks of Dun- 
fermline in pure alms, under condition that a light shall be kept perpetually 
burning before the tombs of King David the First and Malcolm the Fourth. 3 

The fact that Galfrid Melville, besides being patron of the church of Mel- 
ville, was also owner of the lands around it, appears more evident from 
another charter by him of uncertain date, 4 in which the kirk lands are de- 
scribed. These are the whole lands of Potwell, with their meadows, lying 
near the church, and the orchard meadow, also orchard bank on the west side 
of the highway ; Well meadow, with Wellflat, under the hills, and the steep 
hill of Thorlothane, and upon the hills one acre and a half of the lands called 
Cobrinetscroft, with the tofts and crofts and habitation there ; three acres 
lying in Wadyngflat ; in Parkley, two acres ; iir the Kirk haugh, near the 
mill, three acres and a half ; below the house of Melville, " aulas de Mailuyn," 
on the east side, two acres ; and one acre above the cross, with three acres in 

1 Register of Holyrood, pp. 4, 20S ; cf. for 3 Registrum de Dunfermelyn, p. 91. 
other references to Malbet or Macbet Bere 

of Liberton, ibid. pp. S, 9 ; B,egistruni Sancti 4 Ibid. p. 190. The charter as recorded in 

Andree, pp. 181, 191 ; Registrum de Neu- the register is incomplete, the testing clause 

botle, p. 1. and part of the description of the lands being 

2 Cf. vol. iii. of this work, pp. 2, 9-11. omitted. 


Logton, of which one lies on the west side of the loning there, and two lie 
above the croft flat, with free ingress and egress, and the free multures per- 
taining to said church, also to the church in common pasture in the town of 
Melville for twelve cows. Here the charter ends abruptly, but there is suffi- 
cient to show that the granter was owner of the surrounding property, and it 
would also appear that there was then a manorial residence, if not a castle, at 
Melville. 1 

From the office of sheriff of Edinburgh Castle, in the time of King- 
Malcolm Fourth, Galfrid Melville appears to have been promoted in the suc- 
ceeding reign of King William the Lion to the office of justiciary, probably of 
the district south of the Forth. 2 He did not, however, hold this post long, 
as he seems to have been succeeded, about 1178, by Duncan, Earl of Fife. 
Galfrid Melville was also a witness to several charters by King William 
the Lion between the years 1171 and 1178, but he does not appear to have 
long survived the latter date. 

There is reason to believe that Galfrid Melville was twice married. The 
name of his first wife has not been ascertained, but his second wife was 
Matilda Malherbe, who survived him. She was also of Anglo-Norman extrac- 
tion, although the Malherbes assumed the name of Morham, from their lands 
in East Lothian. He had issue, seven sons. 

1 . Gregory, his heir, of whom a short notice follows. 

2. Galfrid, who received from his nephew Richard, son of his brother Gregory, 

the lands of Grendun (now Granton, near Edinburgh) and the lands of 
Stanehouse or Stenhouse, near Liberton. In the charter by King William 
the Lion, confirming the grant by Richard, Galfrid is described as uncle of 
Richard Melville, and son of Matilda Malherbe, an expression which seems 
to imply that she was not the mother of Richard's father. 3 This view 
is strengthened by another writ in which Richard, son of Gregory Melville, 
ratines an agreement between Galfrid Melville and Matilda Malherbe, his 
mother, to the effect that Matilda should give up the half of Retrevin, now 
Tartraven, in Linlithgowshire, which was her dowry, and accept in 
exchange the lands of Stenhouse, which are to be held by her as Gregory 

1 Eegistrum de Dunfermelyn, ut supra. and 1178. Registrum Episcopatus Glasguen- 

2 Galfrid Melville is only once named as sis, p. 36. 

justiciar, in a charter dated between 1171 3 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 3. 


Melville held them. 1 The phraseology of this writ would imply that Matilda 
Malherbe was the mother of Galfrid, and not of his brother Gregory, and 
therefore, a second wife of the elder Galfrid. The younger Galfrid appar- 
ently received from his father a portion of the Liberton lands, as he con- 
firmed to the monks of Holyrood the two oxgangs of land in Liberton, 
given by Malbet Bere. The land is to be held as freely and peaceably as 
the granter can give it, a phrase which suggests a qualified ownership.' 2 
Galfrid Melville, the younger, apparently survived until the reign of King 
Alexander the Second. About the year 1200 he appears as a witness, with 
the bishop of St. Andrews, several other bishops, the Earls of Fife, Strathern 
and Angus, and a number of Fifeshire gentlemen, 3 to an important con- 
vention between the prior and canons of St. Andrews and the Culdees 
there, as to the rents and dues of certain lands and teinds. About the 
same date, or later, Galfrid Melville is a witness to a charter by another 
Fifeshire laird, Thomas, son of Walter of Lundin or Lundie, granting the 
lands of Balcormo in Fife to the aDbey of Cambushenneth. 4 He is also 
named with the same Thomas of Lundin and others in the same neiah- 
bourhood, as witness to a charter by John, son of Michael, then laird of 
Wemyss, to the monks of May, about the year 1230. 5 This constant 
connection with the county of Fife indicates that Galfrid Melville, the 
second of that name, had settled in that district. It is not improbable 
both from this fact, from a tradition preserved in the family of the Melvilles 
of Raith, that the laird of Carnbee was the second son of the first Lord of 
Melville, 6 and also from the circumstance that at a later date the lands of 
Granton and Stenhouse were in possession of the Melvilles of Carnbee, 
that Galfrid the younger was the ancestor of that branch of the family. 7 

3. Thomas, who, with his four following brothers, is named as a witness to their 

father's grant of the church of Melville to the abbey of Dunfermline, already 
narrated. Of him no further trace has been discovered. 

4. Robert, named in the same charter. A Sir Robert Melville, who is probably 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 2, 3. 4 The Cartulary of Cambuakenneth, p. 57. 

a Register of Holyrood, p. 208. The char- 5 Registrum San cti Andree, p. 3S1. 
ter is dated before 1174, and one reason for 

assuming that the granter is the younger and " MS - "Genologie of the House of the 

not the older Galfrid is, that among the wit- Kaith," ™ Melville Charter-chest, 

nesses to the deed are Galfrid the Sheriff and 7 The lands of Granton and Stenhouse were 

Gregory, his son, who are probably the father in the hands of Melville of Carnbee before 

and brother of the granter. 1379. [The Scotts of Buccleuch, by Sir 

3 Registrum Sancti Andree, p. 319. William Fraser, K.C.B., vol. ii. p. 10.] 


the same, is a witness to a decision by Sir Walter Olifard the younger, 
justiciary of Lothian, in a dispute between the bishop of Glasgow and 
Jordan of Currokes or Corehouse, as to the lands of Stobo, confirmed by 
King Alexander the Second, in 12 23. 1 He is also a witness in the year 
1226, along with the Scottish chancellor, Sir Walter Olifard and others, to 
a charter by John Normanville to the abbey of Melrose, of part of the 
lands of Maxton. 2 Sir Robert Melville may have held lands in Roxburgh- 
shire and Peeblesshire, where the Melvilles certainly had possessions at a 
later date. 

5. Hugh, named as above. He appears as a witness, about 1203, to a charter 

by Alan Fitz- Walter, steward of Scotland, granting lands in Eenfrew to 
the abbey of Paisley, and is also a witness to another charter to that abbey, 
of uncertain date, but about the same period. 3 

6. Ricbard ; and 

7. Walter, who are also named in the charter quoted, but regarding whom 

nothing further has been ascertained. 

Gregory Melville, Lord of Melville, eldest son of Galfrid 
de Melville, d. 1178. 

The facts which have been ascertained regarding this member of the 
Melville family are very few, but they are sufficient to show that he was 
the son of Galfrid Melville, and the father of Eichard, who carried on 
the main line of the family. It appears from a charter of King William the 
Lion that he had joint ownership with his father of the lands in Liberton 
and of Leadburn. 4 From the same monarch he received the lands of 
Grendun, now known as Granton, near Edinburgh, which were granted in 
exchange for a large tract of territory in Ednam, Roxburghshire, which had 
been bestowed upon Gregory by King Malcolm the Fourth. 6 Besides these 
he held the lands of Stenhouse, near Liberton. 6 It is doubtful if he did not 
predecease his father. The name of his wife is not known. He was suc- 
ceeded by his son Richard. 

1 Registrum Episcopatus Glasguensis, pp. 4 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 1. 

108,109. 5 Ibid. p. 2. The lands in Ednam extended 

2 Liber de Melros, vol. i. p. 220. to about 208 acres. 

3 Registrum de Passelet, pp. 14, 49. ° Ibid. p. 3. 


Sir Richard Melville, Lord of Melville, Knight, c. 1180-c. 1215. 

Bichard Melville succeeded to his father and grandfather in the estates 
of Liberton and Leadburn, Granton, Stenhouse, and others, about the year 
1178, and his rights were duly confirmed by King William the Lion. 1 This 
is not Richard Melville's first appearance in history, however, as he seems to 
have been one of the personal followers of King William the Lion, and 
accompanied that monarch on his hostile expedition into England in 1174, 
which ended in the capture of the king. The details of the story have been 
frequently told, but may here be briefly given. William crossed the borders 
with his army, which was partly composed of mercenaries from the Low 
Countries. He advanced through Northumberland, taking various small 
strongholds on his way, to the south bank of the Tyne, whence he meditated 
an invasion of Yorkshire. Learning, however, that the barons of that county 
were preparing to oppose his advance, he retreated towards Scotland. 

On reaching Alnwick, the King of Scots despatched the greater part of 
his army, under the command of Duncan, Earl of Fife, to devastate the sur- 
rounding provinces. This the earl proceeded to do, and for greater effect 
divided his forces into three divisions, who ravaged the neighbourhood 
with ferocious cruelty. Meanwhile the Yorkshire barons marched to New- 
castle, and found that the Scottish army had retreated. Notwithstanding 
this, they determined to press northward, as they had learned of the dis- 
persion of William's troops, and believed him to be ignorant of their approach. 
In the early morning of the 13 th July they hastened onward without inter- 
ruption, their small force being screened from sight by a dense fog while 
passing near Warkworth, wdiich the Scots were then burning and pillaging. 
The fog lifted as they neared the castle of Alnwick, and they hoped soon to 
gain its friendly shelter, when they perceived a small body of about sixty 
knights tilting in a neighbouring meadow. These were the King of Scots, 
with Richard Melville and other immediate followers, who were thus amus- 
ing themselves in fancied security, and paid no regard to the approaching 
band of horsemen until the latter were recognised as English. King William 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 2, 3. 
VOL. I. B 


then, with rash gallantry, rushed against the enemy, but in a few minutes 
his horse was slain and himself a prisoner. His followers then surrendered, 
and, with their leader, were carried in triumph to Newcastle. 1 

The Scottish king remained a prisoner until December, and Eichard 
Melville probably shared his master's captivity, both being liberated after 
the Treaty of Falaise. He may also have attended with King William 
at York in the following August, when the Scottish king and Earl David his 
brother, with the bishops, abbots, earls, barons, and knights of Scotland, 
joined in swearing fealty to the King of England, and ratified the Treaty of 
Falaise. 2 Eichard Melville was present with his master, in 1178, on an 
important occasion, which arose out of the capture at Alnwick. This was 
the consecration of the first abbot of the new monastery which King "William 
founded at Arbroath in honour of Saint Thomas the Martyr, the very saint 
before whose shrine King Henry the Second had done penance a day or two 
previous to the Scottish king's capture, and to whose ageucy that event was 
ascribed. The first inmates of the new foundation were monks brought from 
Kelso, and Friar Eeginald, one of their number, was the first abbot, who was 
consecrated by Matthew, bishop of Aberdeen, the see of St. Andrews being 
then vacant. After the ceremony, the abbot of Kelso, who had been Abbot 
Eeginald's superior, formally freed him from all subjection and obedience, 
and declared that though monks had been taken from Kelso to build the new 
abbey, yet no abbot of Kelso should claim authority over any abbot, or over 
the abbey of St. Thomas. To this declaration King William himself was a 
witness, with various ecclesiastics and personal attendants, one of whom was 
Eichard Melville. 3 

The latter was himself a benefactor to the new foundation, bestowing 
upon the monks there and upon the chapel of St. Laurence of Kinblethmont 

1 Robertson's Scotland under her Early terner, William de Insula [Lisle], Henry 

Kings, vol. i. pp. 366-370. Palgrave's His- Reuel, Ralph de Vere, Jordan the Fleming, 

torical Documents, pp. 77-80 : where it is Waldeve, son of Baldwin of Biggar, and 

stated that the English barons heard that Richard Melville. 

King William had sent his army from him. 2 The Treaty of Falaise was dated i>th 

The chronicler states that only the king's December 1174 [Foedera, vol. i. p. 30], and 

own household ("privata familia") remained the meeting at York took place on 10th 

with him. Those who surrendered with the August 1175. 

king were Richard Cumin, William de Mor- 3 Registrum Vetus de Aberbrothoc, p. 9. 


ten acres in the plain of Kinblethrnont, 1 and half an acre in the chapel toft, 
with the teind of the mill ; granting also such pasturage as might enable the 
chaplain serving the chapel to keep one horse, two oxen, four cows, and forty 
sheep. 2 At what date this grant was made is uncertain, but Eichard 
Melville appears to have conferred the church of Tannadice, in the county of 
Forfar, upon the canons of St. Andrews before the year 1187. 3 

Besides these lands in Forfarshire, Eichard Melville, as we have seen, 
held the lands belonging to his father and grandfather in Mid Lothian and 
West Lothian, and granted various charters in favour of his uncle Galfrid. 
He was also, towards the latter portion of the reign of King William, sheriff 
of Linlithgow. 4 It appears from a charter by his grandson, Gregory, that 
Richard Melville endowed, if he did not found, a chapel on his lands of 
Retrevyn or Tartraven in West Lothian. It was dedicated to St. Leonard, 
and received a grant of about fifty acres of land, which was continued and 
added to by Eichard's successors. 5 

Eichard Melville appears to have received the rank of knighthood before 
his death, as his grandson refers to him as Sir Eichard of Melville. He 
appears to have died not long after the end of King William's reign, as no 
further record of him has been found. 

Sir Eichard Melville married, between 1189 and 1199, Margaret Prat, 
daughter of Eichard Prat of Tynedale, who granted to his daughter and her 
husband a large tract of land, called in the charter Morgunessete, but which 
from later writs is identified with a large portion, if not the whole, of the 
modern parish of Muiravonside, in the county of Stirling. The boundaries 
of the lands are defined to be : As the old road passes from Sauelmesford, as 
far as the seat of St. Morgan, and from the seat, as far as the stone which 
Eichard Melville fixed by advice of the granter, and from that stone as 
Witherlem holds itself, as far as the great road on the west side of Armethe, 

1 In the parish of Inverkeillor, Forfarshire. 4 Register of Holyrood, p. 28. 

2 Registrum Vetua de Aberbrothoc. John, 5 Registrum Saneti Andree, p. 376. 
bishop of Caithness, is a witness, who became 6 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 4, 5. On the 
bishop about 1186, but the date of his death back of the writ the name is written in a 
is uncertain. contemporary hand, " Morwensete," and 

3 Registrum Saneti Andree, cf. pp. 64, appears in later charters as Morvingside, 
152, 230. Morinsyde, Morwyusyde, Morowinsyde. 


and as that road goes as far as the stream running from Monecapel, and 
from Monecapel towards the west to the head of the stream flowing as far as 
the South Moss, and as the moss and dry land extend themselves to the rock 
on the west side of the moss, and from the rock to the Little Black Hill, and 
from the hill to the west part of the peatary of Morgunessete, and as the 
peatary and dry land extend towards the east to the stream flowing from the 
peatary, and as the stream flows to the Avon. A right to the common 
pasture of Manuel is also included in the charter. It is probable that most 
of the boundaries indicated are not now traceable, but the lands granted lay 
near Melville's lands of Preston, Tartraven, and others in Linlithgow, the 
Avon flowing between. 

Eichard Melville had, so far as has been ascertained, only one son, who 
succeeded to his estates. 

William Melville, Lord of Melville, c. 1200. 

It is only from the charters of his son, Gregory, who succeeded him, that 
the name and existence of this lord of Melville is known, and these charters 
give no indication of the date or length of his career. There is nothing to 
show whether he survived or predeceased his father, Sir Richard, and no 
evidence has been found to show that he exercised any proprietary rights 
over the estates. He appears to have left three sons — 

1. Sir Gregory, of whom a memoir follows. 

2. Thomas, called Thomas of Haddington in a charter by his brother, Sir 

Gregory, to the chapel of Retrevyn (Tartraven). 1 He married Christiana, 
sister of Gregory Lysurs, chaplain, a member of the Gorton family, and 
under the designation of Thomas, son of William Melville, he received from 
his brother-in-law a grant of six acres of the lands of Temple, including four 
acres lying between Dalhousie and Gorton, with pasture for four oxen, four 
cows, thirty sheep, four swine, and one horse.- Thomas of Temple, of 
Haddington, or Melville, as he was variously called, left no male issue, 
and his lands in Gorton passed, in the first place, to his three daughters. 
They were, Cristiana, who married Adam, son of Walter, son of Aldwyn ; 

1 Registrum Sancti Andree, p. 377. 2 Registrum de Neubotle, p. 301. 


Alicia, who married Richard, son of Galfrid, son of Gunnild ; and Eva, who 
married Malcolm, son of David Dun. They had their father's lands con- 
firmed to them hy William Lysurs, laird of Gorton, but at a later date he 
granted the lands to Stephen of Melville, a clerk, perhaps a kinsman of 
Thomas, though this is uncertain. 1 
3. David, who is also described by Sir Gregory Melville as his brother, 2 but of 
whom nothing further is known. 

Sir Gregory Melville, Lord of Melville, Knight, c. 1242-c. 1270. 

The materials for the history of this member of the family are also very 
meagre, but there is evidence that he possessed the chief estates of his ances- 
tors for some years. His name first appears on record about the year 1242, 
as a witness to transactions with the abbey of Arbroath and the bishop of 
Aberdeen, in which Alan the Doorward was interested. 3 He appears also 
under the designation of Gregory, lord of Melville, in a charter of uncertain 
date, but granted probably between 1240 and 1250, relating to lands in the 
burgh of Linlithgow. 4 

During the years between 1250 and 1264, Gregory Melville granted 
a number of charters to various religious houses, chiefly confirming former 
benefactions made by his predecessors. In the presence of Gamelin, the newly- 
elected bishop of St. Andrews, and a considerable company of ecclesiastics, 
gathered in full chapter at Dunfermline, this lord of Melville, on 2 2d Novem- 
ber 1250, granted to the abbey of Dunfermline his rights of patronage over the 
church of Melville, renouncing them wholly in favour of the monks. This 
grant was followed in the succeeding year by another renunciation of the 
same rights, which had perhaps been challenged in the interval. This final 
transaction took place in the castle of Edinburgh, and in all the writs the 
granter describes himself as Gregory of Melville, son of William of Melville. 5 

1 Registrant de Neubotle, pp. o01-o04. was really the laird of Melville, or a priest of 

2 Registrum Saucti Andree, p. 377. the same name. 

3 Registrum Aberdoneuse, p. 17; Regis- 
trum Vetus de Aberbrothoc, p. 91. There is, 

Registrum de Neubotle, p. 150. 

however, some reason to doubt whether the 5 Registrum de Dunfermelyn, pp. 92, 1 16, 

Gregory Melville who figures in these writs 119. 


The abbey of Newbattle also received from Sir Gregory at a later date 
various grants, one of the gifts being a stone of wax for lighting the church, 
to be furnished from the lands of Leadburn. Sir Gregory promised that each 
year, on the 25th of March, the sacristan of the abbey should receive the 
wax by the hands of a servant, the granter stipulating that he might in 
charity receive a share of the benefits of the convent. 1 The date of this 
grant is uncertain, but the giver had received the rank of knighthood. On 
another 25th March, in the year 1264, Sir Gregory bestowed on the monks 
of Newbattle the right of free transit through his lands of Eetrevyn or 
Tartraven, while passing with their animals and baggage to their lands in 
Clydesdale, or when returning thence to their monastery by the road which 
they had used in time past. The privilege was to be exercised as often as 
convenient to the monks, who were also permitted to unyoke and feed their 
animals in the common pasture of Sir Gregory's land, excepting the standing- 
corn and the meadow land, without hindrance. Permission to sojourn over- 
night, if necessary, once in going and once in returning, was also accorded, 
as often as the monks passed that way. The abbey, however, was to give an 
equivalent for the privileges thus granted, by furnishing Sir Gregory or his 
heirs yearly with a new waggon filled with timber, such a waggon as the 
monks made for their own work in Clydesdale. 2 

Besides these grants, Sir Gregory Melville entered into an obligation by 
which he bound himself and his heirs to maintain a chaplain to serve the 
chapel of St. Leonard on his lands of Eetrevyn. He also promised, in addi- 
tion to the land already bestowed by his grandfather Sir Richard, to give 
two merks and a half from his lands of Leadburn — the whole to be spent in 
masses for the souls of David, William, Alexander, and their successors, 
kings of Scotland, and the souls of Galfrid, Richard, and William Melville, 
and their successors. If, however, Sir Gregory or his heirs deemed it better 
to retain the curate of the chapel as their private chaplain, or at their own 
table, they should have power to resume the land or annualrent in their 
own hands, a sufficient service being provided in the chapel, under a penalty 

1 Registrum de Neubotle, pp. 156, 157. was to be delivered by the monks on the 1st 

2 Ibid. pp. 161, 162. Date of grant, 25th of August yearly, doubtless to be used for 
March (New Year's Day) 1264. The waggon the harvest. 


of £100 and ecclesiastical censure. The chapel and chaplain in question 
were to be under the jurisdiction of the prior and bishop of St. Andrews. 1 

Nothing further has been found on record regarding Sir Gregory Melville., 
save the fact that he appears to have been sheriff of Aberdeen prior to 1 264, 
but his account rendered to exchequer has not been preserved. 2 The name 
of his wife is unknown, and, as far as has been ascertained, he left only one 
son, William, who succeeded him. 

William Melville, Lord of Melville, c. 1270-e. 1304. 

Like his grandfather of the same name, little is known regarding this 
member of the family beyond his name. He appears on record as a witness 
to his father's obligation respecting the chapel of St. Leonard, at Tartraven, 
and is there designated son and heir of Sir Gregory, the charter in question 
being dated about 1270. 3 It is also on record that he paid homage to King- 
Edward the First in 1296. In the Ragman Roll, to which his name was 
appended at Berwick, he is described as William de Maleville, seignor de 
Retrevyn, and is said to do homage for lands in Roxburghshire. His seal is 
still appended to the Ragman Roll, but is defaced. He appears to have died 
about 1304, and was succeeded by his son, John Melville. Marie, widow of 
William of Melville, appears in 1304, as the recipient of various grants from 
King Edward the Eirst, but it is not clear whether she was the widow of 
AVilliam Melville of that ilk, or of another William Melville, who held lands 
in Peeblesshire, and who died in 1298. The seal of this William Melville 
is described as bearing a hunting horn. 4 

John Melville, Lord of Melville, c. 1320-1345. 

John Melville succeeded his father and grandfather before 1329, but how 
long before that date does not appear. As in the case of his ancestors, it is 
principally from his benefactions to various religious houses that anything is 
known regarding him. His first appearance on record is in the year named, 
when, under the designation of John Melville, lord of that ilk, son and 

1 Registrant Sancti Andree, pp. 376, 377. 4 Calendar of Documents relating to Scot- 

2 Exchequer Rolls of Scotland, vol. i. p. 12. land, vol. ii. pp. 200, 211 ; Nos. 809, 1544, 

3 Registrum Sancti Andree, p. 377. 1579, 1594. 


heir of the late William Melville, he confirmed to the monks of Newbattle, 
the privilege of free passage through his lands, formerly granted by his grand- 
father, Sir Gregory Melville. This charter, as recorded, has an alternative 
reddendo, the granter binding himself in one clause to accept from the monks 
only one merk of yearly rent assigned to him from their land of Ballormy, 
while, in a separate clause, the waggon formerly exacted is declared to be 
a sufficient equivalent. 1 The second clause, however, appears to have been 
added at a later date, when the abbot of Newbattle bound himself and his 
convent to furnish such a waggon yearly, giving the lord of Melville power 
to distrain their goods, if they failed in performance. On the same day, 
Melville entered into a similar obligation, to continue to the monks of New- 
battle the stone of wax yearly, which his grandfather had bestowed, or to pay 
four shillings annually. The granter gives the convent power of distraint 
over his lands in default of payment, and his son, Thomas, is a consenting 
party to the obligation. 2 

In the following year, the lord of Melville, continuing the benefactions 
of his ancestors, entered into an agreement with William, prior of St. 
Andrews, by which he conveyed to the canons of St. Andrews a half 
carucate of land of his lordship of Preston, in West Lothian, lying between 
Riccartoun on the east, " Estyrhyld cleffe " on the west, the land called the 
Hill on the south, and Parkly on the north ; to be held in free alms. There 
was reserved, however, the privilege of access to the quarry on the land, to 
obtain stones for building the laird's own manor of Preston, with free passage 
for carrying the stones, where the property of the canons might be least injured. 
On the other hand, the prior and canons granted to the chaplain of St. 
Leonard's chapel of Eetrevyn or Tartraven, their small teinds of Retrevyn, 
but reserving the teind-sheaves of the land, and the funeral rights of the lord 
and lady of Retrevyn for the time, as customary, and also reserving to the 
vicar of Linlithgow, for the time, four pennies for each dead body of the said 
town of Retrevyn and its neighbourhood, levied by him or his chaplains. 

Further, John Melville and his heirs were to minister to the chaplain all 

1 Registrum de Neubotle, pp. 161-163. tember 1344. 
Charter by John Melville, 3d August 1329; 2 Ibid. pp. 176, 177. Both obligations 

alternative clause, dated apparently 5th Sep- dated 5th September 1344. 


things necessary in food, and clothing, and salary, honourably and sufficiently, 
from the rents of Eetrevyn and Preston, so that the chaplain should exact 
nothing more from the prior and canons than the small teinds. He was 
to be chosen and inducted by the prior ; if found deficient, he was to be 
removed by the prior, and another substituted, every chaplain making faith 
to the church of Linlithgow that it should suffer no detriment from him. If, 
however, the lord of Melville, or his heirs, should agree with the chaplain 
that he might be at their table, they might during such time dispose of the 
small teinds, and the chaplain should take oath to serve the chapel and to 
keep his master's counsel. It is further provided that if, because of civil 
war and the wasting of the country through any unavoidable cause, no 
chaplain were found for the chapel, the small teinds of Eetrevyn should be 
collected by the lord and the chamberlain of the canons, or either of them, 
and preserved entire for the use of a future chaplain. Should the prior and 
canons be evicted from the half carucate of land, then the small teinds were 
to revert to them. This agreement was executed in duplicate, and duly 
sealed by both parties. 1 

Nothing further is known of the history of this lord of Melville. He 
had a son and heir, 

Thomas Melville, Loed of Melville, 1344-1345, 

Who was a consenting party to his father's grant to the abbey of Newbattle 
in 1344, and to the agreement with the prior of St. Andrews in 1345. His 
name has not been found elsewhere on record, and it is not known whether 
he actually succeeded to the estate. He had a son, 

John Melville, Lokd of Melville, 1379-1400. 

This lord of Melville first appears on record in the year 1379, when 
he was in full possession of the family estates. In November of that year 
he granted to John Melville, son of John Melville of Carnbee, his lands of 
Granton and Stenhouse in the barony of Melville. These lands, as already 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 9-11. 
VOL. I. C 


stated in a previous memoir, were among the earliest estates held by the 
Melville family in Scotland, being bestowed npon Gregory Melville by King 
Malcolm the Fourth before 1165. They were afterwards bestowed by 
Eichard, son of Gregory, upon his uncle, Galfrid Melville, who appears to 
have settled in Fife. The superiority, however, of the lands apparently 
remained with the granter, as his direct descendant, John Melville, was over- 
lord in 1379. As remarked on a previous page, though it is not clear that 
the Melvilles of Carnbee were the direct descendants of Galfrid Melville, 
their possession of Granton, and their relations with the lords of Melville as 
the feudal superiors of their lands argues the probability of such descent. 

The lands were resigned and re-granted to a series of heirs, first to John 
Melville, younger of Carnbee, and the heirs-male of his body ; secondly, to 
his brother, Thomas Melville ; and thirdly, to another brother, James Melville. 
Failing all these and the heirs-male of their bodies, the lands were to pass to 
Christian Melville, sister of James, and daughter of the elder John Melville, 
and her heirs whomsoever, and to the heirs whomsoever of her father. The 
lands were to be held in fee and heritage for the usual ward and relief, etc., 
with the services of two servants or men-at-arms, one with a horse and a 
hauberk, and the other with a horse and no hauberk. 1 

The next reference to John Melville which has been discovered is in a 
charter by King Eobert the Second, confirming to John Cross, burgess of 
Linlithgow, a wadset over the lands of Hillcliff of Upper Preston. These 
lands, with two parts of the mains of Preston towards the east, near the town 
of Linlithgow, had been mortgaged by the lord of Melville, and were now 
confirmed by the king, reserving his own rights. 2 Three years later, we find 
John Melville granting to Sir William Douglas, son and heir of Sir James 
Douglas of Strabrock, a lease of various lands including a considerable 
extent of territory. These were the lands of Hawthornden, in the barony 
of Gorton, on the Esk, the lands of " the Temple," in the barony of Leadburn, 
and Buteland, in the parish of Currie, all in the shire of Edinburgh, with 
Greviston or Grieston, in the parish of Traquair, county of Peebles ; which 

1 Charter granted at Melville, 20th Novem- 2 Charter dated at Kilwinning, 30th Octo- 

ber 1379. The Scotts of Buecleuch, by Sir ber 1383. Registrum Magni Sigilli, ed. 1814, 
William Fraser, K.C.B., vol. ii. n- 10. p. 167. 


were to be held on a lease of sixteen years. The sum to be paid for the 
first ten years is not specified, but during the last six years Sir William 
was to pay two merks sterling yearly, at Hawthornden. 1 The lease, so far 
at least as regarded Hawthornden and Grieston, was renewed in 1399, for a 
further term of ten years, at a yearly rental of £20 Scots. 2 A few months 
later, in the beginning of 1400, John Melville leased to the same Sir 
William Douglas his land of the hall of the myre, now Halmyre, in Peebles- 
shire, at a yearly rent of two and a half merks Scots. The money was 
to be paid at Hawthornden, and the lease to endure until Sir William could 
pay to Melville the sum of £20 Scots, when he and his heirs were to possess 
half the lands. 3 

Besides these leases, John Melville, in the year 1392, executed a wadset 
or mortgage of his lands of Mosshouses, in the county of Edinburgh, in 
favour of Sir Henry Douglas, Lord of Logton. This appears from a charter 
by Sir Henry, in favour of his son Henry Douglas, of these lands, with others 
mortgaged by Sir John Stewart of Cragy. 4 

John Melville of that ilk was succeeded by his son, 

Thomas Melville, Lord of Melville, 1427-1429. 

It has not been ascertained at what particular date Thomas Melville 
succeeded to the estate. But he was in possession of " Mailvil," and exer- 
cising the right of ownership as "lord of the samyn sted," on the 27th of 
March 1427. On that date he entered into a contract of excambion, with 
consent of John Melville, his son and heir, on the one part, and Sir William 
Tynnyngham, parson of the " kyrk of Mailvil," anent the " kyrklands of 
Mailvil." 5 This transaction appears to have been entered into when Thomas 
Melville was far advanced in life, and his death occurred about two years 
later, in December 1429. He was succeeded by his son John, the consent ei' 
in the contract of 1427. 

1 Lease, dated at Linlithgow, 1st April Ibid. p. 16- 

1386, vol. iii. of this work, p. 14. 4 Dated at Logton, 6th November 1392. 

3 Lease, dated at Dalkeith, 10th July 1399. Registrum Honoris de Morton, vol. ii. p. 179. 

Ibid. p. 15. 5 Original contract in possession of the 

3 Lease,dated at Dalkeith, 12 th March 1400, Earl of Glasgow. 


John Melville, Lord of Melville, 1429-c. 1442. 

John Melville succeeded his father in December 1429, and on 27th 
January 1429, he was retoured heir to him in the barony of " Malwyle " — the 
name of the barony, and the surnames of the father and son, being all written 
in that form. It is stated in the retour that the barony was in non-entry 
from the decease of Thomas Melville eight weeks before. 1 In the following 
February, he was also infeft in a small portion of the lands of Grieston 
in Peeblesshire. 2 Nothing further has been discovered regarding him, but he 
appears to have died before 1442, and was succeeded by his son Thomas 
Melville. The name of his wife has not been ascertained, but she survived 
him, and died in the year 1465, as it appears that she received her terce 
up to June of that year. 3 

Thomas Melville, Loed of Melville, 1442-1458. 

He appears to have succeeded his father about the year 1442, as, according 
to a list of crown sasines under that date, he was then infeft in the lands of 
Grieston, Peeblesshire. 4 Ten years later he witnessed a charter by Eobert 
Boyd of Kilmarnock to Sir David Hay of Yester, and is described as Thomas 
Melville, lord of that ilk. 5 Two years after, under the decree of a justiciary 
court, held in January 1454, his goods were escheated to the extent of £10. 6 
The reason of this is not stated, and it does not appear that he was embroiled 
in any political offence. He may, however, have been in debt, as there is 
evidence that his lands of Mosshouses and Grieston were mortgaged for a 
time. During his possession of the barony of Melville and the other landed 
estates, he was styled in a deed granted by himself, " a noble and potent 

1 Original retour, dated 27th January 4 Index in libros responsionum, Exchequer 

1429-30, in possession of the Earl of Glasgow. Rolls, vol. ix. p. 657. 

2 Certificate of sasine by the sheriff of 
Peebles, 14th February 1429-30. Vol. iii. of 

Charter, dated at Edinburgh, 10th Janu- 

ary 1451-2. Registrum Magni Sigilli, vol. ii. 
this work, p. 22. No. 521. 

3 Exchequer Rolls, vol. vii. pp. 254, 320, 
403. 6 Exchequer Rolls, vol. vi. pp. 143, 144. 


Thomas Malwin, lord of the same." This designation occurs in the obliga- 
tion dated in 1457, the year before his death. 1 

Thomas Melville died in 1458, the last direct male heir of his family, and 
was succeeded by his daughter and heiress, Agnes Melville, who was then 
a minor. He left a widow, whose name is unknown, who survived at least 
until the year 1471, but how much later has not been ascertained. 2 

Agnes Melville, daughter and heiress of Thomas Melville, remained a ward 
of the Crown until Whitsunday 1471, when she entered into full possession of the 
barony of Melville, being retoured heir to her father on 23d April of that year. 3 
She also received infeftment of the lands of Greiston, in Peeblesshire, about 1473. 4 
She married Eobert Ross, son of Sir John Ross of Halkhead, and shortly after 
acquiring her estates, with consent of her husband, appointed her father-in- 
law, Sir John Ross of Halkhead, bailie of the barony of Melville during his life, 
describing herself in the writ as Agnes Melville of that ilk. 5 In 1473 an 
action was brought against her husband by Archibald Melville, who claimed the 
south mains of Tartraven, on a lease granted to him by the late Thomas Melville, 
her father. The lords auditors, however, decided that Melville should give up the 
lands to Ross, but they requested the latter to give to him and his wife, for his 
lifetime, six acres of corn-land and two acres of meadow, free of rent. 6 

The heiress of Melville, however, was dead before 1478, leaving a son and 
heir, John Ross, a minor. After her decease, a question arose as to her husband's 
right over the lands or tenandry of Granton and Stenhouse, held of her as superior, 
but from which the king claimed the casualty of ward on account of her death. 
The claim was resisted by their proprietor, Henry Melville of Carnbee, on the 
ground that the lands were not in ward, because the lady's husband, Robert Ross, 
held the whole lordship and lands of his late wife by the courtesy of Scotland. 
The lords of council, however, decided in favour of the Crowu, declaring that the 
lands were and should be in the king's hands, by reason of ward, until the lawful 

1 On 12th August 1457, Thomas Melville ess entered to possession, the sums no longer 

of that ilk received from Thomas Coekburn, appear in the official accounts. [Exchequer 

rector of Henriland (Megget ?), a letter of re- Rolls, vol. vii. pp. 254, 320, 403, 535, 628 ; 

version for redemption of his lands of Moss- vol. viii. p. 62.] 

houses and Grieston. Original in possession 3 y j_ jj{_ f j^is wol .] s ,,p j 4(j 47 

of Earl of Glasgow. , „ , „ ,. , . 

., _, . & „ ,, _, , „ „ 4 Exchequer Rolls, vol. lx. p. 674. 

- lhe evidence 01 the Exchequer Kolls 

shows that the terce of the widow of Thomas 6 Le t* er of bailiary, 24th May 1471, in 

Melville was a charge on the lands, which possession of the Earl of Glasgow. 

were in ward, until 1471, but when the heir- G 29th July 1473. Acta Auditorum, p. 24. 


age of Agnes Melville's heir. The reasons were, first, that Eobert Eoss had his 
late wife's lands only by special privilege of the courtesy of Scotland, which was 
granted only " to the persons that maryis a maydin and feis the land," and 
should not be extended to any other person but that one ; secondly, that such 
person has only the use of the lands, and no real possession or sasine, and, there- 
fore, Eobert Eoss had no fee or real possession over the lands in question. 1 

John Eoss, son of Agnes Melville of that ilk, was retoured heir to his mother 
in the barony of Melville on 16th May 1496, although he was apparently in pos- 
session of the estate in 1490. 2 That retour and the other writs cited prove the 
inaccuracy of the hitherto accepted genealogies of the family of Eoss, Lord Eoss. 
Some peerage-writers state that the heiress of Melville married Sir John Eoss of 
Halkhead, knight, who lived in the years 1392 and 1397, and also that their son, 
Sir John Eoss, received a charter of the barony of Melville as early as the year 
1401. Both these statements are entirely erroneous. Sir John Eoss, the alleged 
husband of the heiress, and Sir John Eoss, her alleged son, were respectively the 
great-great-grandfather and great-grandfather of Eobert Eoss, her husband, who 
was eldest son of Sir John Eoss of Halkhead, but who predeceased his father. Sir 
John Eoss, afterwards first Lord Eoss, whom these peerage-writers divide 
into two persons, flourished as early as the year 1449, and till between 1490 
and 1500, and was succeeded by his grandson, also Sir John Eoss, the son 
of Agnes Melville, who was the second Lord Eoss, and was killed at Flodden on 
9th September 1513. The baronies of Melville, Halkhead, and others, were 
inherited by his male descendants, some of whom took the title of Lord Eoss of 
Melville and Halkhead, until the death, in 1754, of William, fourteenth Lord 
Eoss, unmarried. His sister, the Honourable Elizabeth Eoss, having married 
on 11th June of the following year, John, third Earl of Glasgow, direct ancestor 
of George Frederick Boyle, now Earl of Glasgow, and Baron Eoss of Halkhead, 
in the peerage of the United Kingdom, his lordship is the representative in 
the female line of the two ancient houses of Melville of Melville and Eoss of 

1 16th October 1478. Acta Dominorum vol. ii. No. 1973, under date 27th September 
Concilii, p. 13. 1490. According to an entry in the Liber 

reaponsionum [Exchequer Rolls, vol. ix. 

2 Original retours in possession of the Earl p. 680], a John Eoss was infeft in part of 
of Glasgow. Cf. Registrum Magni Sigilli, Grieston in 1479. 


I. — John Melville, fiest of Eaith, 1400-c 1427. 

Just about the time that the direct male line of the old family of the 
lords of Melville in Midlothian became extinct, one of the cadet branches of 
the house was taking root on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth, at 
Eaith, near Kirkcaldy, in the county of Fife. In this family of Melville of 
Eaith the race of the Melvilles was again to flourish, and to rise to nobler 
rank than it had formerly enjoyed. 

In the year 1575 John Melville, the then laird of Eaith, prepared the 
following short pedigree of his family, or, as he worded it, — 

" The Genologie of the Hows of the Bayth rakenit be Jhone Maluill present in the 
lxxv yeir of God, sa far as he cowld rakin of his predisessouris, howbeit the 
hows was mekyll alder of a lang time. This Jhone was the last of vi." 

" Schir Stein Maluill maried the lord of Lornes dowghter, quhais sone was 
Schir John Maluill, quha maried the laird of Balueries dowghter ; of quhom 
was begottin William Maluill, quha maried the Erll of Mortouns brother 
dowghter, quha was laird of Langniddrie, quhilk William Maluill maried after 
ane wther wyf also, quha was dowghter to Schir Eobert Lundy, laird of Balgony, 
treasorer for the tyme, wpon quhom he begat sonnes and dowghters ; bot of his first 
wyf he begat ane sone, Johne Maluill, quhilk Jhone Maluill of Bayth maried 
the laird of Bosseis dowghter, wpon quhom he begat Schir Johne Maluill, quha 
maried the laird of Wemys dowghter of that ilk, wpon quhom he begat sonnes 
and dowghters, bot the sonnes thairof decesit. And the said Schir Jhone maried 
agane, ane wther wyf callit Dame Elene Nepar, quha was the laird of Mercam- 
stons brother dowghter, and hir mother the laird of Craigmillers dowghter, 

wpon quhom the said Schir Jhone Maluill begat ix sonnes and twa dowghters. 
Thair eldest sone, Jhone Maluill foirsaid, succedit to the landis of the Bayth. And 
the said Jhone Maluill maried the laird of Lundeis of that ilk dowghter in the 
lxiij yeir of God, wpon quhom he begat ane sone callit Jhone Maluill, and twa 
dowghteris ; quhais first wyf also decesit, and the said Jhone maried agane to 
his secund wyf ane dowghter of the laird of Bosseis callit Margrat Bonar, wpon 
quhom he begat thre dowghters and ane sone callit Thomas Maluill. [Quhilk 


Jhone Maluill maried agane the laird of Segy his dovghtir, vpon quhom he begat 
ane sone callit James Maluill, and thre dovghtir, quhilk James and his ayris suld 
brvik the toun and landis of Feddinche."] x 

The earlier portion of this pedigree is, of course, purely traditional, and, in 
common with most of such traditional accounts of families, is confused and 
inaccurate in its chronology and relationships, though the persons named may 
actually have existed. In regard to his own family connections and those of 
his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and even great-great-grandfather, 
the writer, as may be supposed, speaks of what is matter of personal know- 
ledge, either of himself 5 or of those living in his day. But the earlier genera- 
tions, being by that time beyond the memory even of second parties, were 
practically lost. A tradition remained that the writer was the sixth genera- 
tion of his family who had been lairds of Raith ; and in this he was correct. 
But who the first laird was, tradition alone could tell, and it pronounced his 
name to have been Sir Stephen. We know, however, from authentic writs, 
that the name of the first known Melville, laird of Raith, was John, whose 
son really acted the part ascribed to the son of Sir Stephen, by marrying the 
daughter of William Scott, laird of Balwearie, an estate adjacent to Raith. 

In another pedigree of the family, without date, but written in a hand 
contemporary with the preceding, the descent of the Raith family is also 
deduced from Sir Stephen Melville, who, however, is placed a generation 
further back, and a son John given to him, whose son, also named John, 
married the laird of Balwearie's daughter. This pedigree is as follows : — 

" The genologie of the hovs of the Raith sa far as is rememberit, hovbeit 
our surname cam out of Hungare as freyndis to Quene Margrat, King Malcum 
Canmoris vyf, quhilk vas in the yeir of God I m ane hunder and xxviii yeiris. 

" At quhilk tyme thre brether of the Maluils cam in Scotland. The eldest 
brother vas Lord Maluill of that ilk. The scund brother gat the landis and 
leving of Raith. The thryd brother gat the landis of Glenbarve in the Mernis, 
out of the quhilk is cum the hovs of Dysert in Angus, and the Maluils therof ; 
bot the surname is decayit in Glenbarve be dovghters, and alswa the Lord Maluils 
hovs. And the laird of Carnbe vas ane scund sone of the Lord Maluils. 

"The eldest of the hovs of the Raith in mannis memore vas Schir Stein 
Maluill, quha begat Johne Maluill. This Jhone Maluill mareit the lord of 

1 Original in Melville Charter-cheat. The part in brackets is added in a later hand. 


Lornes dovghter, vpon quhom he begat Schir Jhone Maluill, that vas callit Schir 
Jhone with the blak butis. This Schir Jhone maveit the laird of Balueries 
dovghter that vas callit Dame Margere Scot. In this Schir Jhonis tyme the 
Quene for the tyme biggit Bavynshevgh Castell. And this Schir Jhone begat on 
his wyf Villiam Maluill." J 

These pedigrees prove the persistent tradition in the family of the Melvilles 
of Baith that the founder of their branch of the family was a Stephen Melville ; 
and although no trace of the existence of a Stephen Melville at the date 
ascribed to him by this tradition can be found, there is authentic evidence 
that a Stephen Melville actually flourished a few generations earlier, and had 
relations with the family of the lords of Melville. Between the years 1233 
and 1249 Stephen Melville was a witness, along with William Melville 
and others, to a charter affecting Kilbucho, in Beeblesshire, 2 and about the 
same date he was also witness to the charters granted by William Lysurs, 
laird of Gorton, to Thomas of Haddington or Temple, son of William, lord of 
Melville, and to his three daughters, as related on a previous page. 3 In 
addition to this he received a grant of these lands and others, from William 
Lysurs to himself in feufarm. 4 No relationship to the lords of Melville is 
anywhere adverted to in these documents, but his association with them, and 
the interest manifested in acquiring the lands held by members of that 
family, render it highly probable that Stephen Melville was himself a son 
of the house. If so, his position in the pedigree is probably that of a 
younger son of Sir Bichard Melville, lord of Melville, sheriff of Linlithgow, 
and thus a brother of William, lord of Melville, and an uncle of Thomas 
of Haddington. 

In some of these charters Stephen Melville is designated a clerk, but this 
is evidently a lay-clerkship, as he left a son, Walter Melville, who inherited 
these lands acquired by his father, and disponed them shortly afterwards to 
Sir William of St. Clair. 5 Whether Walter Melville left issue is not clearly 
ascertainable from extant sources. But if the tradition of the descent from 
Stephen is authentic, Walter may have been the father of John Melville, 

1 Original in Melville Charter-chest. 3 Pp. 12, 13, supra. 

4 Registrum de Neubotle, pp. 303, 304. 

2 Registrum Glasguense, vol. i. p. 128. 5 Ibid. pp. 304, 305. 

VOL. I. D 


who lived in the time of King Robert the Bruce, and resigned in his 
hands his lands of Caproneston, in the county of Peebles, in favour of his 
son, Walter Melville, and Margaret, daughter of John Ayr, his spouse. Walter 
Melville also surrendered these lands in the hands of the same king for a 
regrant in favour of himself and his spouse and their issue and other heirs, 
which was confirmed on 5th July 1365 by King David the Second, after the 
deaths of John and Walter Melville. 1 By this charter it appears that Walter 
Melville and Margaret Ayr left issue, and they may have been the immediate 
progenitors of the first known and authenticated laird of Baith. But this 
cannot be verified from any available sources. 

Whatever the descent of the subject of this memoir, John Melville appears 
on record as laird of Baith about 1400, and is the first of his family who is found 
in possession of that territory. The lands of Baith belonged, as appears from 
later writs, to the abbey of Dunfermline, as superiors, but the extant register 
of their possessions contains no record of Baith or its occupiers until the year 
1474, when a charter was given to William Melville of Baith upon his own 
resignation, and the chief source of information is thus silent on the subject. 

John Melville of Baith is first named in a charter granted to him by 
William Scott, laird of Balwearie, of the lands of Pitscottie, with a third part 
of the lands of Callange. The document is not dated, but from the names of 
the witnesses it may be assigned to the year 1400, 2 and the grant of Pit- 
scottie was confirmed by Robert, Duke of Albany, as Earl of Fife, in August 
1411. 3 The laird of Balwearie, in his charter, states that John Melville's pre- 
decessors had held the lands of his predecessors in fee and heritage, but this 
does not prove conclusively that Melville acquired the lands by inheritance. 

The next reference to John Melville of Baith is in a charter to his son 
John, who, in 1412, on his marriage with Marjory Scott of Balwearie, received 
the lands of Dura from his father-in-law. 4 The elder laird, however, was 

1 Registrum Magiii Sigilli, vol. i. p. 53, be "bef ore dates." 

ISIo. 160. 3 Vol. iii. of this work, p. IS, 3d August 

2 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 17. The want 1411. 

of a date gives rise to a curious argument in 4 Ibid. pp. 18, 19, 31st May 1412. [The 

one of the old MS. pedigrees of the family, seal of this laird of Raith, attached to the 

where the writ is claimed to be about 475 charter to his son in 1412, bears a bend, fess- 

years old, or about 1215, because it is said to wise between three crescents, two and one.] 



probably dead before 1427, as it appears to have been his son who in that 
year entered into an agreement with Sir John Wernyss as to a mill-dam from 
Loch Gelly to Melville's mill of Pitconmark. 1 

According to the MS. pedigrees of the family this laird of Eaith married 
a daughter of Stewart of Lorn, but as to this no evidence has been found. 
He was succeeded by his son, Sir John Melville, of whom a notice follows. 

II. — Sir John Melville, second of Eaith, c. 1427-e. 1463. 

Marjory Scott (Balwearie), his Wife. 

John Melville, the second laird of Eaith who has been found on record, 
is first named in a charter in 1412 to him and his intended spouse, Marjory 
Scott of Balwearie. He is there described as " Jone the Malvyle, the sone 
and the ayre of Jone the Malvyle, lord of the Rath," and his proposed father- 
in-law, William Scott of Balwearie, grants to him and his future wife the 
lands of " Durachmure " or Dura, in the parish of Kemback, Fifeshire. The 
lands, however, were burdened with a duty of a chalder of meal, or twenty 
shillings in money, to be paid yearly to the church of " Andirstoun" or St. 
Andrews. Melville and his wife, and their heirs, were to hold the lands in 
ward and relief of the granter, a further stipulation being that the property 
was to remain with the receivers, until the payment by the granter or his 
heirs of the sum of £20 Scots. The seals of the granter and the elder laird 
of Eaith are still appended to the writ which was dated at Balwearie. 2 

1 Original, dated 12th June 1427, in - Charter, dated 31st May 1412. Vol. iii. 

Wemyss Charter-chest. of this work, pp. 18, 19. 


It was probably this laird of Eaith who, in 1427, entered into an agree- 
ment with Sir John Wernyss of Beres, a neighbouring proprietor, as to a 
mill-lade for bringing water from Loch Gelly through Sir John's lands there 
to Melville's mill of Pitconmark. From the terms of the agreement it would 
appear that there had been no mill-lade previously, the making of it being 
provided for at the point most suitable for the mill. Sir John Wemyss and 
his son David gave permission that Melville should have free issue of water 
and a sufficient lade from Loch Gelly, passing through their lands of 
Powguild and others, descendiug towards his mill made on his own lands of 
Pitconmark. John Melville and his heirs were to have power to make and 
uphold the lade and to enclose the water upon Sir John's lands and draw the 
water therefrom, without any hindrance, both parties binding themselves 
loyally to preserve the privilege for ever. In return for their concessions, Sir 
John Wemyss, his heirs, and tenants ou the adjoining lands, were to receive 
special relaxations and favours in the grinding of their corn at the mill in 
question, which appears to have been that afterwards named Shaw's mill, and 
still so designated, situated on a small stream which issuing from Loch Gelly 
flows eastward past the mill, through Cardenden and falls into the river Ore. 1 

The next reference which has been found to this laird of Eaith is in the 
year 1454, when he appears to have received the rank of knighthood, as he 
is described in a writ of that date as Sir John Melville, knight. 2 He appears 
to have died before August 1463. 

By his wife, Marjory Scott, Sir John Melville had at least two children : 

1. William, who succeeded his father, and of whom a short notice follows. 

2. Elizabeth, who married, before 24th June 1436, David Boswell of Balgregie, 

afterwards of Balmuto, who, on that date, granted a discharge to his father- 
in-law for 100 merks of tocher. 3 David Boswell, their son and heir, received, 
in 1458, on his father's resignation, a charter of Glassmonth, Balmuto, 
and others, reserving the liferent and terce of his father and mother. 4 

1 Original agreement, dated at Dysart 12th 3 Ibid. 24th June 1436, transcript for Sir 
June 1427, in Wemyss Charter-chest. John Melville, 24th July 1454. 

4 4th November 1458. Registrum Magni 

2 Vol. iii. oi this work, pp. 22, 23. Sigilli, vol. ii. No. 638. 


III.— William Melville of Eaith, c. 1463-1502. 

Margaret Douglas (Longnidbby), his first Wife, 
euphame lundie (balgonie), his second wlfe. 

William Melville first appears on record as witness to a charter dated in 
August 1463, and as he is designed William Melville of Eaith, he must have 
succeeded his father before that date. 1 In 1474 he resigned his lands of 
Eaith into the hands of his superior, Henry, abbot of Dunfermline, and 
received from him a charter to himself and his heirs without limitation. 
The yearly rental of the lands was fixed at £5 Scots, and in addition ward 
and relief with other duties were exigible. The chief restrictions upon 
Melville as vassal were in regard to his mill. Neither he nor his heirs 
in any time to come were to receive knowingly, either by themselves or 
their servants, to their mill for grinding corn, those who lived on lands 
properly belonging of right to St. Margaret, that is, to the abbey. Further, 
Melville and his heirs were not to build any mill for grinding corn except 
on the land of Pitconmark ; and if they contravened these restrictions, 
the abbot claimed power to resume that mill with its multures, and apply 
it to the use of the abbey. Infeftment followed on this charter, in the 
usual form. 2 

In January 1480, this laird of Eaith was one of five arbiters who decided 
a question between John Menteith and Eobert Stewart as to the restoration 
of certain goods to the lands of Schanbothy, the decision being afterwards en- 
forced by the lords of council. 3 At a later date, the laird himself submitted 
to arbitration in regard to disputes with his oldest son, John Melville, and 
indeed it is chiefly in connection with such that any notices of the laird 
appear on record. In this case, he and his son appeared before the lords of 
council, and bound themselves to accept the verdict of the Earl of Argyll, 

1 Charter by George Abernetby of Balglaly vol. iii. p. 95.] 

Wester, of an annual rent therefrom to John 2 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 47-49, 26th 

Boswell of Bowhill, 2d August 1463. [The May 1474. 

Douglas Book, by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., 3 Acta Dominorum Concilii, p. 69. 


then chancellor, the Earl of Bothwell and Lord Home, for " a gude way " to 
be found between the father and son as to the questions between them — 
especially that the elder laird should not alienate his lands, nor any part of 
them, from his son. 1 

As will be shown in the next memoir, the laird's eldest son, John, married 
Janet Bonar, of the family of Bonar of Eossie, and it was probably on this 
account that the laird, in 1490, appears as tutor to John Bonar, the young 
laird of Bossie, whose father, James Bonar, had deceased before that date. 
As a result of this relationship, the laird found himself and his ward com- 
pelled to pay various sums of money, in one case 1 40 merks, liabilities 
incurred by his ward's father. 2 

The questions which the laird and his son were to submit to arbitration, as 
already noted, are not clearly defined, but, probably in terms of an award, the 
laird appears to have entered into an obligation to resign his lands to his 
eldest son, and also to deliver certain goods, as corn, horses, sheep, gold and 
silver money, amounting to £1000 Scots. This obligation was so far carried 
out by a resignation of the lands in the hands of the superior, Adam, abbot of 
Dunfermline, who granted a precept for infefting the younger Melville, which 
was followed by sasine. 3 Very shortly afterwards, however, the laird violated 
his bond, and the son then brought an action against his father before the 
lords of council. He accused his father of wrongfully revoking the procura- 
tory granted for resigning the lands of Baith, Bitconmark, Torbain, Pitscottie, 
and Dura, in favour of his eldest son, and, instead thereof, infefting a younger 
son, William Melville, in part of the lands. The younger Melville further 
required that his father should be adjudged to make over the frank -tenement 
in his favour, and also to pay the money prescribed in the obligation. The 
counsel for the laird, on the other hand, challenged the authenticity of the 
instrument produced, narrating the obligation and alleged it to be false. 
The pleadings on the first day having been concluded, an adjournment was 
made to another day for the purpose of examining the notary who prepared 
the writ, and other witnesses. 

1 Acta Dominorum Concilii, p. 154, 22d 3 Date of Resignation and Precept, 2d 
October 1490. November 1490, narrated in Instrument of 

Sasine, 4th November 1490, in Melville 

2 Ibid. pp. 157, 158, 25th October 1490. Charter-chest. 


Two days later, when the evidence had been heard, the lords declared 
the document founded on by the pursuer to be valid, and, as the laird's 
counsel admitted that alienation of part of the lands had been made, it was 
decided that the laird should fulfil in their entirety the conditions of his 
bond. The amount of the moveable goods to be delivered was also deter- 
mined by a formal decree. 1 The matter was concluded in the following- 
May by the laird making another and formal resignation in favour of his 
son John, of the frank-tenement of all his lands. These included Eaith, 
Pitconmark, Torbain, Pitscottie, Dura, and Feddinch, with annual-rents from 
the lands of Strathendry, and the burghs of Dysart and Kirkcaldy. The 
transfer was effected by the laird delivering a straw to his son as a symbol 
of real possession of the lands, moveables, and annual-rents. The laird 
further constituted his son his assignee to the leases of Easter Balbarton and 
mill, and of Powguild and Dundonald. He then, upon oath, declared, and 
with a loud voice explained, that he never made or ordered to make any 
charters or evidents of the lands named to any person, his first-born son 
excepted, and if such writs were made that he was unwitting, nor did he 
make or know of them. This closed the transaction, which took place 
within the parish church of Kirkcaldy. 2 

While this question affecting the lands was thus settled for the time, it 
re-appeared two years later under a somewhat different form. The laird of 
Eaith was naturally desirous of providing his younger sons, William and 
Andrew Melville, to some portion of his property, but in this he was appa- 
rently opposed by his eldest son. The laird, however, seems to have 
bestowed the lands of Pitscottie and Dura on his second son, William 
Melville, a proceeding which involved a law plea with his feudal supe- 
rior in the lands, Mr. William Scott of Flawcraig, who alleged that they 
were alienated without his confirmation, and protested that his interests 
should not suffer. In reply, Melville admitted that he was a free tenant of 
the lands in question under William Scott of Balwearie, until the latter 
gave the fee of Iris lands to Mr. William Scott, his son. The lands were 

1 Acta Dominorum Concilii, pp. 169, 170, - On 20th May 1491. Vol. iii. of this 

172. 12th and 14th February and 7th March work, pp. 50, 51. 


then held from the younger Scott, until alienated to the laird's son, as 
stated. 1 

What objection the younger laird of Eaith took to the provision for his 
brothers does not appear. But, in June 1493, a compromise was effected 
between them and the elder Melville, with his sons, "William and Andrew, on 
one side, and the younger laird on the other, they binding themselves to 
obey any award which should be made by arbitration. The arbiters were 
John, Lord Glamis, John, prior of St. Andrews, and Henry, abbot of Cam- 
buskenneth, and the question for their decision had regard to the ejection 
and eviction of Andrew Melville from the leases and rents of the lands of 
Eaith, Pitconmark, and Torbain, and the taking from him of thirty-six 
score of sheep, and other goods. The award of the arbiters, which was to 
be given within a week, is not recorded, but it is evident that the younger 
laird of Eaith had objected to his brother's possession of the lands from 
whatever source derived. 2 

The laird of Eaith's eldest son died within the year after the date 
referred to, but litigation continued with his widow, Janet Bonar. The 
laird accused his daughter-in-law of withholding from him the house and 
place of the Eaith, and the lands of the Mains of Eaith and Torbain, and 
further of ejecting him from the same. The cause was debated in presence 
of the king, who, with the council, decided against the laird in respect he had 
resigned the lands and the frank-tenement in favour of his son. 3 

The last reference which has been found to this laird of Eaith is in 
February 1498, when he was one of the parties to a marriage-contract between 
his daughter, Elspet or Elizabeth Melville, and John Gourlay, younger of 
Lamlethan. The other parties were the laird's wife, Euphame Lundie, and 
William Melville, their son, on the one side, and John Gourlay, elder of Lam- 
lethan, on the other side. The laird, his wife, and son, undertook to pay two 
hundred merks as dowry, and, in security of this sum, Elspet Melville and her 
husband were to receive a lease of the lands of Feddinch for thirteen years at 
a yearly rental of thirty-six merks, half of which was to be remitted each year 

1 Acta Dominorum Concilii, p. 269. 23d January 1492-3. 

? ' Acta Auditornm, p. 176, 13th June 1493. 

3 Acta Dominorum Concilii, p. 339, 25th June 1494. 


until the two hundred merks were paid. The laird and his family were also 
to maintain his daughter honourably in food and clothing until a crop should 
be obtained from the lands of Feddinch. On the other hand, the younger 
Gourlay was to find security for payment of the rent of Feddinch, while the 
elder Gourlay was to infeft his son and spouse in the lands of Cargour, and 
also, if necessary, to pay for a dispensation from the Pope on account of 
relationship, under a penalty of two hundred merks. 1 

The laird died within a year or two after the date of this contract, although 
the actual date of his decease cannot be ascertained. He was probably 
dead before 29th October 1502, when his grandson, Sir John Melville, was 
retoured heir of his father, the deceased John Melville, in the lands of Eaith 
and others. 2 

William Melville is said to have married twice, the name of his first wife 
being given as Margaret Douglas, daughter of the laird of Longniddry, but 
though no evidence has been discovered of such marriage, it is not improbable 
from the litigations which took place between this laird and his eldest son 
that the latter was born of a previous marriage. The only wife of this laird 
of whom there is any record, is Euphemia Lundie, who was the mother of 
most of his children. She survived her husband. A year or more after his 
decease we find her engaged in a dispute with the heir in possession, John 
Melville, her husband's grandson, about the payment of her terce. The 
matter, which at first had been referred to arbiters, was finally submitted to 
the judgment of the lords of council, who decided that she was entitled to 
her whole terce of the lands of Eaith, Pitconmark, and Torbain, besides the 
lands of Feddinch, also held by her. But with consent of both parties it was 
determined that John Melville should pay to Euphemia Lundie £20 Scots 
yearly in lieu of all third or terce she might claim from the lands of Eaith 
and others, excepting Feddinch, which she then had. The sum was to be 
paid by half-yearly instalments of £10 each, the lady in return giving up 
and renouncing all contracts or other writs by which she might claim, and 
discharging all such in future. 3 Two years after this decree, Euphemia 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 51-53, 28th February 1497-8. 

- Ibid. pp. 53, 54. 

s Decree, dated 23d March 1503-4, Robertson's Kecords of Parliament, pp. 500, 501. 

VOL. I. E 


Lundie, in addition to the usual discharge for her teree, granted to John, 
now Sir John Melville, a lease of her lands of Feddineh for five years imme- 
diately following the expiry of Gourlay's tenancy already referred to. In 
return for this lease and for other considerations, Sir John Melville obliged 
himself to cause his mother, Janet Bonar, acquit Euphemia Lundie and her 
sons, David and Andrew Melville, of the goods taken by them from the house 
of the Eaith and elsewhere, during their occupation. 1 

This laird of Eaith had issue four sons, and perhaps two daughters. The 
sons were — 

1. John Melville, younger of Eaith, of whom a short notice follows. 

2. William Melville, who appears frequently in the legal transactions between his 

father and elder brother. He was, apparently, provided by his father in the 
lands of Pitscottie and Dura, and, in 1493, he and several others were 
defenders in an action of spoliation at the instance of various tenants of these 
lands, when they were decerned to restore to each tenant pursuing, the 
number of sheep, or the horse or cow stolen, or their value. 2 The reason of 
the spoliation is not stated. William Melville was one of the parties to his 
sister Elizabeth's marriage-contract in 1498; he seems to have survived until 
the year 1513, but nothing further has been ascertained regarding him. 

3. Andrew Melville, who is also referred to in connection with the litigation 

between his father and brother, and who was ejected by his eldest brother 
from possession of the lands of Eaith. At a later date, in 1506, as already 
noted, he, with his brother David and their mother, Euphemia Lundie, were 
still subject to a claim from the proprietrix of Eaith for goods taken by them 
when in occupation. He settled in Leith, as appears from a discharge which 
he granted to his nephew for £40, a sum decreed to him by arbiters as a 
composition for a yearly payment of ten merks due to him for twenty-two 
years past. The discharge is dated in March 15 16, 3 and nothing further has 
been discovered regarding this Andrew Melville. 

4. David Melville, who is named along with his brother Andrew in a discharge 

granted by their mother to Sir John Melville, as already stated, but no 
further reference to him has been found. 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 55, 20th April 1506. 

2 Acta Dommorum Concilii, p. 280, 11th February 1492-3. 

3 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 60, 22d March 1515-6. 


The daughters were — 
Elspeth or Elizabeth, who, on 28th February 1498, was contracted in marriage 

to John Gourlay, younger of Lamlethan. The terms of the contract have 

already been narrated. 
Margaret, who is stated by the family pedigrees to have married James Bonar 

of Rossie. No evidence of this has been found among the family papers, 

save that James Bonar' s son, John, was a ward of William Melville. 

IV. — John Melville, younger of Raith. d. 1494. 
Janet Bonae (of Rossie), his Wife. 

John Melville was the son and apparent heir of William Melville, but 
predeceased his father, leaving a son, John, who succeeded to the family 
estates. Much of the history of this John Melville, younger of Raith, has 
already been told in the preceding memoir, as he and his father were so con- 
stantly engaged in litigation with each other that the same narrative must 
relate to both. The elder Melville, as previously related, resigned his lands 
in favour of his son, 1 and was compelled by a decree of the lords of council 
to deliver up various goods and victuals. The value of these was fixed as 
follows : — Thirteen chalders of oats which were in the Raith, at 4s. the boll ; 
twelve bolls of wheat, at 10s. the boll; forty bolls of bear, at 6s. the boll; 
thirty-one oxen in the Raith, valued at two rnerks each ; five chalders of oats, 
at 4s. the boll ; and ten bolls of bear, at 6s. 5d. the boll ; eight oxen, which 
were in Balbarton, each worth two merks ; two horses, each 40s. ; nine cows, 
each two merks ; seven stirks, each 6s. 8d. ; two young cattle (" nolt "), each 
10s.; twelve score ewes, each 5s.; ten score of old sheep, each 4s.; seven 
score of hoggs, each 2s. 6d. ; five chalders of farm rent, which was owing to 
the said laird of Raith, the price of each boll being 6s. 8d. ; all which were 
proved to be in the elder laird's possession on 14th February 1491. Besides 
the above, he was also to deliver over such moveable goods as were in his 
hands, in terms of the decree. 2 

1 John Melville, younger of Raith, was 2 7th March 1490-91, Acta Domiaorum 

infeft in the lands on November 1490. Ori- Concilii, p. 172. 
ginal sasine in Melville Charter-chest. 


Shortly after this a claim was preferred against John Melville himself by 
James Richardson, a burgess of Edinburgh, for £70. This amount was 
owing to Richardson by Thomas Moultray, from whom Melville had been 
empowered by the king's letters to collect it. Melville declared that he 
apprised Moultray's goods to the value of £48, which he had delivered to 
Richardson's agent, who in turn asserted that he had paid the money to his 
principal. 1 

As narrated in the previous memoir, John Melville received a final 
resignation of the lands of Raith and others from his father in May 1491, 
and occupied them until his death, about the year 1494. In June of that 
year his widow, Janet Bonar, brought an action against Mr. William Scott of 
Flawcraig, the feudal superior of Pitscottie and other lands, for wrongfully 
putting her forth from the lease of Easter Balbarton. She further charged 
him with spoliation of certain goods of hers, and withholding an ox from 
amongst them ; also with vexing and troubling her and her tenants in her 
third of Pitscottie and Dura, and taking the tenants' goods and rents thereof. 
Scott, in his defence, alleged that the Earl of Morton was his guarantee as to 
the lands of Balbarton, who was summoned to appear. As for Pitscottie and 
Dura, the king's sheriffs were directed to defend the pursuer in such posses- 
sion of these lands as she and her husband had, while justice was to be done 
in regard to the goods spoiled. When the case again came before the Court, 
Mr. William Scott admitted that there was a " sasine ox " taken from the 
pursuer out of the lands of East Balbarton since Whitsunday, by which it 
was understood that the pursuer was in possession of the lease of the farm in 
question, and she was formally secured in her rights. 2 

Besides the foregoing action, Janet Bonar also suffered annoyance from 
her father-in-law, who declared that she wrongfully detained and withheld 
from him the house of Raith, with the lands of the Mains of Raith and of 
Torbain. In this case, however, the lords of council at once decided in her 
favour, on account of her rights of terce, and because her husband, the late 

1 Acta Dominoruni Concilii, pp. 189, 229, of the tragedy are not known, but the con- 

22d March 1490-91. The proceedings against sequences will be treated of in the next 

Moultray on this occasion may have led to memoir. 

the quarrel in which he was slain by John 2 14th June and 3d July 1494, Acta 

Melville, or his servants. The particulars Dominorum Concilii, pp. 324, 325, 352, 353. 


John Melville, was the last person infeft in the lands, while, as already 
stated, he was also in possession of the frank-tenement. 1 

Towards the close of the same year, 1494, Janet Bonar had again to 
defend her own and her late husband's rights. Two tenants of the lands of 
Dunbulg or Dunbog complained against her and John Ogilvy of Inver- 
quharity for wrongfully despoiling them of certain cattle and horses, and 
exacting double rent. In defence, Janet Bonar claimed right to the rent in 
terms of an assignation dated 9th January 1489, in favour of her husband, 
John Melville, and herself, made by Christian Balfour, widow of the deceased 
William Bonar of Bossie. Ogilvy of Inverquharity, on his part, claimed the 
rents as bailie to the same Christian, in terms of a letter of bailiary from her 
which he produced, while he challenged the authenticity of the assignation. 
Evidence was led, and as the tenants themselves admitted that they had 
received their leases from John Melville, the lords of council fixed a day for 
production of these writs, and also of any evidence to be adduced by Ogilvy. 
Meanwhile they, without prejudice to either party, directed him to restore 
the goods and grain taken by him from the complainers, and also ordered 
that Janet Bonar or Melville should remain in such possession of the rents as 
she and her spouse formerly had, in which she was probably allowed to con- 
tinue, as no further record of the case has been found.' 2 

How long Janet Bonar survived her husband has not been ascertained. 
She was alive in 1506, when she was asked to discharge her brothers-in-law 
of her claims against them for spoliation, as referred to in a previous memoir. 3 

John Melville, younger of Eaith, and Janet Bonar, his wife, had two 
sons — 

1. John, who succeeded his lather and grandfather in the family estate, and of 

whom a memoir follows. 

2. David, of whom nothing is known beyond the fact that he became a burgess 

of Edinburgh, and left a son, Walter. 

1 Acta Domiiiorurn Concilii, p. 339, 26th June 1494. 

2 Acta Auditorum, p. 202, 13th December 1494. 

3 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 55 ; p. 34 of this vol. 


V. — Sie John Melville of Eaith, 1502-1548. 
Margaret Wemyss, his first "Wife. 
Helen Napier, his second Wife. 

As stated in the preceding pages, William Melville of Eaith was suc- 
ceeded in his estates, not by his eldest son, who predeceased him, but by his 
grandson, John Melville, who forms the subject of this memoir. The exact 
date of John Melville's succession has not been ascertained, but he was 
retoured heir to his father in the lands of Eaith, Pitconmark and Torbain, in 
October 1502, when his grandfather was probably dead, and was infeft in the 
lands in the following November. 1 Shortly after obtaining possession of his 
estates he married Margaret Wemyss, daughter of Sir John Wemyss of 
Wemyss, who granted to his son-in-law a portion of his barony of Methil in 
warrandice of the lands of Wester Eaith, which were the bride's dowry. 2 

The next reference to the laird of Eaith, three years later, shows that in 
the interval he had received the rank of knighthood, though there is no 
evidence to show the precise date or circumstances when this honour was con- 
ferred. Not improbably it was bestowed amid the festivities attendant on the 
marriage of King James the Fourth with the Princess Margaret of England, 
which took place on 11th August 1503, when various titles and dignities were 
distributed. Sir John Melville is described as a knight in the year 1506, 
when he and his grandfather's widow, Euphemia Lundie, entered into an 
arrangement, already noted in the previous memoirs, as to the payment of 
her terce, the lease of Feddinch to Sir John, and other matters in which Sir 
John's mother also had an interest. 3 

During the next few years the notices of Sir John Melville chiefly refer 
to land transactions. The first of these on record, however, presents some 
peculiarities, illustrative of the turbulent state of Scottish society. It would 
appear that some years previously, Sir John's father, by himself or his 
servants, had caused the death of a neighbouring laird, Thomas Moultray of 

i Retour, 29th October 1502 ; Sasine, 24fch in Methil, 28th July 1503, ibid. p. 54. 
November 1502 ; vol. iii. of this work, p. 53 ; 

of. p. 114. 3 Vol. iii. of this work, p, 55. 20th April 

2 Precept for infeftment of John Melville 1506 ; p. 34 of this vol. 


Markincn. This event, which took place in or near Moultray's own house 
of Seaneld, situated on the north side of the Forth, between Kirkcaldy 
and Kinghorn, led to one of these family feuds so common in Scotland, where 
the relatives and kin of both parties took up the quarrel, and, as in this case, 
carried on a series of mutual annoyances and plots to assassinate the princi- 
pals. The abbot of Dunfermline, however (then James Beaton, afterwards 
archbishop of Glasgow and St. Andrews), who relates the circumstances, 
determined to act as peacemaker, because the death of Moultray had been 
brought about, not by direct malice, but by instigation and persuasion of 
wicked men. His efforts so far succeeded with the young laird of Eaith, that 
for the sake of concord he resigned in the hands of the abbot, who was also 
his feudal superior, the sum of twelve merks, to be uplifted yearly from his 
lands of Eaith and others, and expended in masses for the soul of the 
slain Moultray. This money the abbot, by a formal charter, bestowed upon 
John Moidtray, the son and heir of the deceased, with full permission to 
expend it upon a chaplain who should celebrate a yearly mass in a fitting 
place. 1 Thus, according to the abbot, the feud was composed for the time, 
but, as will be shown on a later page, it was renewed some years afterwards 
with greater intensity than before. 

In August 1507, Sir John Melville received a Crown precept directed to 
the bailies of Dysart, to complete his title to an annualrent due from certain 
houses in that burgh, of twenty- two shillings yearly, part of his inheritance 
from his grandfather, William Melville. 2 Sir John also, about this time, or a 
little later, became bound in the sum of two hundred merks to Sir William 
Scott of Balwearie, who granted in return an obligation, discharging payment 
of the sum should he fail in the keeping of " favour and kindness " to 
Melville. 3 This, however, did not prevent him, some years later, putting an 
arrestment in force against the crops of Sir John Melville for the amount of 
the debt, until Sir John found security for its payment. 4 

In May 1512, a question which had arisen between Sir John Melville and 
his neighbour, the laird of Carden, as to the marches of their respective pro- 
1 Charter, 6th February 1506-7, by the this work, p. 56. 

abbot of Dunfermline to John Moultray of 
Mai kineh, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Precept, 6th August 1507, vol. iii. of 4 6th March 1516-7, ibid. p. 60. 

3 6th February 1509-10, ibid. 


perties, was brought before a justiciary court held for the purpose upon the 
ground in dispute. The justices were Sir David Wemyss of Wemyss, Sir 
Peter Crichton, and Alexander Inglis of Tarvit. Perambulation of the lands 
was made and a number of witnesses were examined, upon whose evidence 
a formal decision was given, denning the boundaries between Sir John 
Melville's lands of Torbain and the lands of Carden. Sir John made a pro- 
test that the judges should not proceed without seeing a charter denning the 
bounds, but apparently the decision was accepted by the parties. 1 Another 
transaction in which Sir John Melville took part at this period was the mort- 
gage of a portion of his lands of Easter Pitscottie, which were granted to a 
burgess of Cupar, George Airth, and his wife. 2 

Sir John Melville is said by some writers to have attended King 
James the Fourth to Flodden, and to have been slain on that disastrous field. 
This, however, is disproved by the family papers, while they afford no indi- 
cation as to whether Sir John was present at Flodden or not. The first refer- 
ence to him after the date of the battle is in March 1516, when he received 
from his uncle, Andrew Melville, a discharge for a sum of money claimed 
by the latter to be due to him at the rate of ten merks yearly for the past 
twenty-two years. Sir John Melville appears to have disputed the claim, and 
the matter was decided by arbitration, the sum of £40, or sixty merks Scots, 
being paid as an equivalent of the whole amount of 220 merks. 3 

A few years later, Sir John Melville entered into a series of bonds of 
friendship and mutual service with neighbouring lairds. The most important 
of such obligations was one in which Sir John shared with no fewer than 
seventeen other Fifeshire gentlemen, the chief of whom were David Wemyss of 
Wemyss, James Lundie of Balgonie, William Forbes of Eeres, and John Moul- 
tiay of Markinch. They bound themselves to take true part with each other 
in all lawful disputes, and specially in defence of their persons and heritage, 
against every one excepting the king, the governor (John, Duke of Albany), 
their own immediate superiors and their overlords, and made provision 
for settling differences among themselves by mutual arbitration. The bond 

1 Decision and relative testimony, 21st May 1512, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Charter of sale, 6th Jnne 1512, vol. iii. of this work, p. 57. 

3 Discharge, 22(1 March 1515-6, vol. iii. of this work, p. 60. 


is dated and signed at Scone on 13th February of the year 1521. x No public 
occasion is on record which could convene so many Fifeshire lairds so far 
from their own homes ; but they may have been there in attendance on Andrew 
Forman, an ambitious prelate, then archbishop of St. Andrews and legate 
in Scotland of the Eoman See, who was the feudal superior of most of them. 
If not, they may have assembled for the special purpose of joining in this 
mutual bond of defence. 

One cause of the meeting, it is highly probable, was the disturbed con- 
dition of Scotland at the time. John, Duke of Albany, who had in 1515 
been appointed regent of Scotland, for some time ruled with vigour, but 
in June 1517 he returned to France, leaving the government in the 
hands of six regents, the Earls of Angus, Arran, Argyll, and Huntly, and 
the archbishops of St. Andrews and Glasgow. The chief result of this 
arrangement was that two of the regents, Angus and Arran, with their 
respective partisans, renewed their former struggles for supremacy, and 
the country came to be virtually at the mercy of the two contending factions. 
In such a state of affairs it was natural that the smaller barons, as in the 
present case, should band together for their common safety. Bonds of the 
kind were frequent at this time, though it was not usual for so many to 
combine together. There are, however, two instances of a similar nature at 
this very period. In July and August 1520, that family of the Kers who 
acknowledged the laird of Cessford as their chief, who had been adherents of 
Angus, deserted his party and made alliance with Arran, obliging themselves 
to him in terms similar to the Scone bond just mentioned ; while in January 
1521, only a month before the meeting at Scone, the provost and magistrates 
of Edinburgh united in an obligation to support Arran in his maintenance of 
the king's authority, and in opposition to Angus. 2 The bond now entered 
into by Sir John Melville and his neighbours only differed in terms from 
those named, in that it did not bind the subscribers to join any particular 
faction, but might rather form a measure of defence against the aggression of 
either of the contending parties. 

1 Original bond, dated 13th February and 19th January 1520-21, in the Hamilton 
1520-21, in the Wemyss Charter-chest. Charter-chest. [Report of Historical mss. 

2 Original bonds, dated 10th July 1520, Commission, No. XI. Part vi. pp. 32-34. j 

VOL. I. F 


Other writs of a similar tenor with which Sir John Melville was con- 
cerned, about the same date, were three bonds of manreut by as many neigh- 
bouring lairds, who looked to him for aid and protection, promising in their 
turn to aid him with their advice, and an armed force if necessary. 1 

In course of time, however, Sir John Melville was drawn into the current 
of public affairs. In October 1526 he received the appointment of master 
of artillery for life, 2 but it is not clear how long he held the office. In 
December of the same year he joined John, Earl of Lennox, in his attempt to 
wrest King James the Fifth from the control of the Douglases. The then 
archbishop of St. Andrews (James Beaton) was a keen opponent of the Earl of 
Angus, and it was no doubt as a vassal of that prelate that Sir John and his 
retainers took the field. Lennox mustered his army at Stirling, and marched 
towards Edinburgh, but, as is well known, his forces were totally routed near 
Linlithgow, and he himself was slain. The archbishop of St. Andrews was 
forced to take refuge in flight and disguise, and, according to a contemporary 
witness, " all the lords and lardes of the este and north parts " who had 
joined Lennox, were in the hands of the Earl of Angus and his brother, 
George Douglas, "to raunsom and fyne at there pleasyr." 3 What penalty 
was inflicted on the laird of Eaith is unknown, but in August of the following 
year, 1527, he received a remission for his offence of appearing in arms 
against the king, Angus being then chancellor of Scotland. 4 Among those 
conjoined with Melville in this remission were his son-in-law, James Kirk- 
caldy of Grange, David Wemyss of Wemyss, and others. As an instance of 
the political changes of the period, it may be noted that, two years later, Sir 
John and his son-in-law received a remission for having had dealings with 
the Douglases, then in exile. 5 

During the seven years succeeding 1526, while Sir John Melville was 
more than once engaged in public affairs, he was subjected, in his own neigh- 

1 Bonds of manrent, 2d January 1520, 9th olair had held it in times bygone. 

July and 30th August 1522, by Robert Or- 3 Letter, Sir Christopher Daere to Lord 

rock, son of James Orrock of that ilk, Alex- Daere, 2d December 1526 ; Pinkerton, vol. ii. 

ander Orrock of Silliebalbie, and David Bos- p. 478. 

well of Glasmonth. Vol. iii. of this work, * 14th August 1527 ; vol. iii. of this work, 

pp. 51, 52. p. 66. 

2 Rpgistrum Secreti Sigilli, vol. vii. f. 29. b 26th July 1529 ; ibid. p. 68 ; cf. also p. 
The office was to be held as Henry, Lord Sin- 67. 


bourhood, to a series of active annoyances and assaults on the persons of 
himself and his friends. These were in a certain measure the consequences 
of the feud already referred to in which Sir John's father, the young laird of 
Raith, had killed Thomas Moultray of Seafield. The slain man's son, John 
Moultray of Markinch and Seafield, had carried on the feud, but by the 
interposition of James Beaton, then abbot of Dunfermline, the affair had been 
compounded in 1506. The families then, according to Sir John Melville's 
own statement, had remained on neighbourly and friendly terms for several 
years, and as already noted they joined together in the friendly bond at Scone 
in February 1521. 

About that time, however, or at least previous to the death of Archbishop 
Eorman, who died before May 1521, 1 John Moultray had attempted to interfere 
with Sir John Melville's possession of certain lands near Kinghorn, called the 
abtbane of Kinghorn, now Abden. These lands apparently belonged to the 
abbey of Dunfermline, of which the archbishop was commendator, and were 
leased to an aunt of Sir John Melville, who assigned the lease to her nephew. 
Six years before the lease expired, Moultray granted a mortgage on his lands 
of Seafield, and offered the proceeds, 600 merks, to the archbishop, to take 
the lease from Sir John Melville, the result being that the latter, to retain 
possession, was forced to pay £300 Scots for renewal of his lease instead of 
£40 as before. 2 

This proceeding naturally aroused Sir John Melville's displeasure, but no 
open rupture then took place, though Moultray pursued a similar course with 
the family of Kirkcaldy of the Grange, who were related to Sir John. In 
the end of November 1526, however, Moultray's goods were escheated to the 
Crown for the crime of manslaughter, and when the messenger-at-arms 
appeared, with the officer of the Earl of Morton, feudal superior of the lands 
of Seafield, Moultray and his men deforced the messenger, and recovered the 
goods distrained. 3 Either on this or a precisely similar occasion when the 
officers of the Earl of Morton exacted payment of a debt of £60 Scots adjudged 

1 Keith [Scottish Bishops, p. 35] states that Archbishop Forman died in 1522, but there 
is documentary evidence to show that the see of St. Andrews was vacant ou IStli May 

2 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 70 3 Ibid. p. G3. 


to James Kirkcaldy of Grange, and apprised Moultray's goods, the latter 
resented the presence on his ground of Sir John Melville, James Kirkcaldy, 
and other neighbouring lairds, who, by the judge's order, accompanied the 
officers. 1 

Moultray's first step in retaliation was a resort, not to force, but to the 
commiuatory powers of the church, and a sentence of excommunication was 
pronounced by the principal Official of St. Andrews against Sir John Melville, 
James Kirkcaldy, and several other lairds of the neighbourhood. They 
appealed from this sentence, pleading first, that they had not been either 
cited or convicted; secondly, as to the charge of aiding the officers of the 
Earl of Morton, it was in the power of every competent judge to demand 
assistance in the execution of his decrees ; thirdly, if it were alleged that the 
Official had issued to the appellants letters inhibiting the apprising of the 
grain, they denied receiving such, as it was only reported that they were to 
be excommunicated, and the final sentence was pronounced wholly unknown 
to them. 2 

The result of this appeal is not recorded, but very shortly after it was 
made, Moultray determined to take the law into his own hand, and on Ash 
Wednesday of the year 1527 3 he, with his son and other accomplices, began 
the first of a series of hostile attacks upon Sir John Melville and his friends, 
which were repeated at intervals during the next few years. Unfortunately 
we have only Sir John's statement of the facts, but so far as that goes, it is 
graphic enough. There are two versions of the narrative, both intended for 
the perusal of the lords of session before whom the case ultimately came, the 
first being apparently a personal relation by Sir John, while the second is a 
more elaborate statement prepared by counsel. From these we learn that Sir 
John Melville and James Kirkcaldy of the Grange, accompanied only by 
their household servants, on their way to Edinburgh, passed through the town 

1 On 11th December 1526, James, Earl of enforced by a decree of the lords of council, 

Morton, obliged himself to defend and keep dated 27th February 1528-9. [Decree, narrat- 

scatheless Sir John Melville in his dealings ing obligation, in Melville Charter-chest.] 

with the escheated goods of John Moultray, 2 Appeal, by Sir John Melville and others, 

and states that he had directed Sir John to 20th February 1526-7, vol. iii. of this work, 

pass with his (the earl's) officers to take up pp. 64-66. 

the goods. This obligation was afterwards 3 6th March 1527. 


of Kinghorn 1 on this particular Ash Wednesday. This being the first day of 
Lent they resolved to hear mass, and proceeded towards the parish church 
for that purpose. But ere they reached it, Moultray and his followers, who 
were within the sacred building, being advertised of Sir John's approach, 
rose hastily, and rushed out to the church gate, with drawn swords, and 
besetting the street, made a violent attack upon Melville and his friends, 
who wore no defensive armour, James Kirkcaldy being wounded in the 
fray. 2 

In the same year, probably about July, Sir John Melville, with his 
retainers, returning from the service of the king, who had made a raid upon 
the borderers, again passed through Kinghorn on bis way homeward. On 
this occasion his companions were David Wemyss of Wemyss, and James 
Lundie of Balgonie, and the three lairds leaving their attendants, went quietly 
to the church " to do thair devotioun and heir mess, as gud Cristine men suld 
do." While thus engaged, the young laird of Searield, who had observed their 
movements and the absence of their retainers, sent to his father's tower, about 
a mile to the east of Kinghorn, and mustered eight of his followers, clad in 
iron head-pieces and other armour of defence. When Sir John Melville and 
his companions left the church, therefore, they found themselves confronted 
by these men drawn up in battle array, of whom four singled out Sir John, 
and attacked him in the churchyard. How the fight ended is not distinctly 
stated, but the combatants apparently were separated, one of the Seafield 
men being wounded or killed. 3 

But the most thoroughly organised and determined attack made by the 
Moultrays was in May, 1529, in the town of Kirkcaldy. Sir John Melville 
tells us that the archbishop of St. Andrews (his former friend, James Beaton) 
had come to that town, and that he himself was quietly riding from his 
house of Kaith to an interview with that prelate, when the fray took place. 
Sir John describes himself as wholly innocent of evil intention on his own 
part, and entirely unconscious of the plots against him ; he was attended only 

1 Described as " Kinghoru-Easter," Burnt- 3 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 71, 73, H. This 
island being then frequently styled " King- servant's name was Wood, and he was appar- 
horn- Wester." ently killed, as compensation for his deatli 

2 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 71, 73. was afterwards claimed [cf. p. 69]. 


by his own servants, and wore no defensive armour, being dressed in a short 
white coat, 1 with doublet and hose, with a red bonnet on his head. The other 
party, however, who knew of the laird's intended meeting with the 
archbishop, were astir betimes and laid their plans with great determina- 
tion. On this occasion Moultray was accompanied by, or called to his 
aid, the family of another laird of the neighbourhood, Variance of 
Pitteadie. With the Vallances, and his and their retainers, all fully armed 
with "jak," 2 steel bonnets, swords and bucklers, he rode from Seafield to 
Kirkcaldy. Moultray himself was apparently in peaceable guise, wearing 
a furred gown, but his armour was carried by a boy. They proceeded to 
the house of one Alexander Balcanquhal, in Kirkcaldy, whence they sent 
a spy towards Abbotshall to watch for and report the coming of the laird 
of Eaith. 

On receiving intimation of Melville's approach and his unarmed condition, 
the laird of Seafield donned his armour, jack, steel bonnet, and plaited gloves, 
and summoned the laird of Pitteadie and his followers, who were drinking in 
the town. He reproved their delay, and bade them haste, as the laird of 
Eaith was coming, and they would never have a better opportunity. 
Vallance, however, who had a regard for Melville, was loath to fight without 
any quarrel, and tried to dissuade Seafield, objecting that there was no such 
reason to make slaughter, and that Melville had friends in the district. This 
speech roused Moultray's ire, and he exclaimed : " Fye on ye, John Vallance, 
I trowit (believed) nevir better at thi hand." This taunt stung poor Vallance, 
who was probably excited by his morning's draught, and becoming " crabbit 
and angry," he declared he would go further than the laird of Seafield himself 
dare go. Saying this he seized two axes and halberts from Balcanquhal's 
house and was ready for the combat. At this point the archbishop interfered 
as a peacemaker, and begged the party to remain quietly with him, and not 
to make provocation, saying that the laird of Eaith was coming to speak with 
himself, adding, " ye have bene oft togidder with me of befor without skaith." 
The words were scarcely uttered when Melville and his company appeared at 

1 This may have been a coat uf buff or 2 A " jack " was a thick quilted coat used 

white leather, and the wearer would therefore as armour of defence, 
not be entirely defenceless. 


the west port of the town, and Moultray replying hotly to the arch- 
bishop, " were I ten and he twenty, he durst nocht hald the gait (street)," 
caught sight of his opponent. He rushed out of the house with his 
servants, drawing their weapons as they approached Melville and his 

Sir John Melville, as he saw the excited laird of Seafield coming on, called 
out to him to take half of the street, but the other would not listen. He still 
advanced, crying out, " Fy, set upon the tratouris," and so encouraged his 
followers. The laird of Pitteadie with his servants was already in front, thus 
making his boast good, and in the melee he was slain. A servant of Seafield's 
also was wounded to death, and Sir John Melville himself was dangerously 
hurt in various parts of his body before the affair ended. It is not stated in 
Sir John's narrative which party was victorious, though he seems to imply it 
was his own, but he appears to have much regretted the fate of the laird 
of Pitteadie, who had been in his house only a few days before, and was 
friendly with him. Pitteadie's relatives, however, made no charge against 
Melville for his death, which was brought about in the heat of combat and 
in pure self-defence. 

Sir John Melville's knowledge of what was said and done in Kirkcaldy 
before his own arrival on the scene was obtained from the full confession of 
one of his adversary's retainers, who was fatally wounded, but survived two 
days after the fight. This man, named Andrew Traill, several times before 
his death, related to his friends the foregoing facts. He also, in a conscience- 
stricken mood, sent two priests, one of them a notary, to ask Sir John's 
forgiveness in his own behalf, thanking God for the latter's escape. He stated 
that the laird of Seafield had lain in wait for Melville no fewer than seven 
times in that year with murderous intent ; that he himself with three others 
had on this occasion undertaken to attack Melville alone, and to slay him if 
possible, adding that each of them had struck at their victim, although they 
had met the fate intended for him. 1 It may here be stated that within a 
month after the " slaughter," as it was called, Sir John Melville and two 
others received a remission from the king for art and part in the deaths of 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 71, 72, 74, 75, whence the whole of the foregoing narrative 
is adapted. 


John Vallauce of Pitteadie, Andrew Traill, and another man Alexander 
Wemyss, 1 probably also a servant of Moultray's. 2 

These persecutions by the laird of Seafield were not confined to the laird 
of Raith only, but were directed against others, his friends, and even his 
servants. Thus on one occasion, probably in the beginning of 1533, while 
Sir John Melville was absent from home in the king's service, the laird of 
Seafield, with some of his men, on horseback, encountering a kinsman of Sir 
John, James Melville, a chaplain, on foot, at the east end of Kirkcaldy, gave 
chase to him with a purpose to kill him. The chaplain took refuge in a 
house, the doors of which the marauders broke in, but fortunately their 
intended victim escaped by a backway. On another occasion, about July 
1533, some of the Vallances, who were partisans of Moultray, at a public 
fair in Dunfermline, attacked John Kirkcaldy, brother to the laird of Grange, 
but he defended himself successfully. Again, in September of the same 
year, while the laird of Eaith's servants were attending even-song at Kinghorn 
Church, they were treacherously assaulted in the churchyard by the Vallances 
and others, relatives of those who had been killed in the fray in Kirkcaldy. 
The parties were separated by the bystanders, but not before the assailants, 
perhaps accidentally, wounded Marion Kirkcaldy, sister of Grange. 3 

The pleadings presented to the lords of session on behalf of Sir John 
Melville and James Kirkcaldy, which narrate the foregoing indictment 
against the laird of Seafield and his accomplices, wind up with the conclusion, 
drawn from the facts, that he is a common oppressor. They state specially 
that for seven years he had oppressed the vicar of Kinghorn, by violently pre- 

1 Remission, 12th June 1529. Pitcaim's issued, supported by a precept from the king, 

Criminal Trials, vol. i. p. 244*. Robert requiring the earl to keep Sir John scatheless 

Clerk and Sir Thomas Thomson, perhaps his from Moultray as to certain goods taken from 

chaplain, are conjoined with Melville in this the latter by Melville — 10 bolls of threshed 

remission, which is to endure for nineteen wheat at 36s. the boll, 19 bolls of bear at 33s. 

years. and 40 bolls of oats at 26s. , taken from the 

! As a side issue to the disputes between half lands of Tyrie. In August 1532, Sir 

Melville and Moultray, Sir John appears also John Melville received letters giving him 

to have had difficulties with the Earl of power of distraint over the Earl of Morton's 

Morton, superior of Seafield. As noted on a lands of Aberdour. [Decree and precept, 

previous page, the earl was under an obliga- dated 15th December 1531 ; letters dated 

tion to Sir John in regard to Moultray's 7th August 1532, in Melville Charter-chest.] 

goods, and in 1531 a decree of council was 3 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 72, 76. 


venting him from tilling his lands of the Vicars-Grange ; that he built dikes 
on these lands to prevent tillage, broke the vicar's ploughs, maltreated his 
servants, and put his own sheep to graze on the vicar's grass, besides 'with- 
holding his teinds of salt and similar commodities. This oppression, and the 
other misdeeds enumerated, are declared to be notorious throughout the 
district. Indeed the quarrel between the two factions, whichever was 
most to blame, had become so serious in its consequences that it engaged 
the attention of King James the Fifth himself. He came in person to 
Cupar-in-Fife, where the parties appeared before him, and both signed in his 
presence an obligation binding themselves and their adherents to submit to 
the decision of the lords of session, and to appear before the judges when 
required to do so. From the phraseology of this document, it would appear 
as if Moultray had complained against Melville. The latter is referred to as 
the aggressor, and it is chiefly in regard to the compensation to be paid by 
him, for the deaths of Vallanee of Pitteadie and others, that the submission 
is made ; touching all quarrels between them and harm done to Moultray, he 
is content to leave the whole matter in the king's hand. 1 About a fortnight 
afterwards, the king, who was still at Cupar, issued directions to those of the 
council and session who had been chosen to decide in the case, desiring them 
to bring the matter to a good ending, and to see where the occasion of dis- 
pleasure has begun between the two parties. As the umpires found cause, 
they were to weigh the same to the great hurt of neither disputant, but 
where the fault was greatest to decide accordingly. Specially, however, 
were they to make " ane gud end " of the affair, that the parties might 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 69, 70. rick Kirkcaldy, Sir James Melville, all landed 
15th January 1533-4. The king was at- men. The laird of Seafield was responsible 
tended on this occasion by John, Lord for David, George, and Henry Vallanee, bro- 
Lindsay of the Byres, formerly, if not then, thers to the deceased John Vallanee of Pit- 
acting as sheriff of Fife, and others. The teadie, James Trail, brother of the slain 
adherents for whom Sir John Melville be- Andrew Trail, David Wemyss, son to the 
came security were James Kirkcaldy of the deceased Alexander Wemyss, and William 
Grange, William Barclay of Touch, John Wood, probably a relative of the William 
Melville of Wester Touch, James Melville, Wood for whose death compensation was 
son and heir of the late David Melville, bur- demanded, and who was fatally hurt or killed 
gess of Edinburgh, Robert Clerk in Dysart, at Kinghorn. 
Robert Melville, goldsmith, Edinburgh, Pat- 

VOL. I. G 



" stand in concord eftyrwart," x which probably was done, as no further 
trouble seems to have arisen between the two families. 

From allusions in the foregoing narrative, and from other sources, it 
would appear that Sir John Melville took the field more than once under the 
banner of his sovereign. He was present, he himself tells us, with the 
expedition directed against the borderers in 1527, when many of their chiefs 
were compelled to give security for good behaviour. There is no evidence 
that Sir John took part in the raid upon the Armstrongs in 1530, though 
the king is said to have been attended by a large force, but he accompanied 
his sovereign to the borders at a later date on a more important occasion. 
This was in the beginning of 1533, when the relations between the Scottish 
king and Henry the Eighth were far from cordial, owing to the ungracious 
treatment by the former of the exiled Archibald, Earl of Angus, and his 
brother, George Douglas. Partly because of their hostility to King James, 
and partly because of the ill-feeling between the two countries, a series of 
retaliatory raids took place on both sides of the border. So much destruc- 
tion was caused by the Douglases and their allies upon the southern counties 
of Scotland, that King James mustered a strong army and marched to Had- 
dington, there to consult with his natural brother, James, Earl of Moray, then 
lieutenant of the East Marches, as to an invasion of England. Sir John 
Melville and his retainers formed part of this force, which, however, did 
nothing in the way of active hostility, and a few months later a truce of one 
year was effected between the two countries. 2 

In January 1536, Sir John Melville, with two other gentlemen, received 

a special commission to act as a justiciar in the trial of Sir Patrick Hepburn 

1 Letter, dated 29th January 1533-4 : Stewart became security. The latter failed 

vol. ii. of this work, p. 1. On 6th November 
of the same year, 1534, Sir John Melville, 
under circumstances arising out of another 
local family feud, received a charter granting 
him an annual rent of 40 merks from the 
Mains of Hilton of Rosyth, in Fife, belonging 
to Henry Stewart of Rosyth. Robert Orrock 
of that ilk, and Alexander Orrock of Balbie, 
his kinsman, had quarrelled, and were fined 
by the king's justiciar £550 Scots, for pay- 
ment of which Sir John Melville and Henry 

to do his part, and his lands of the Mains of 
Hilton were therefore legally apprised to Sir 
John Melville, who received sasine 22d March 
1534-5. [Crown charter, precept, and sasine 
in Melville Charter-chest ; cf. also Registrum 
Magni Sigilli, vol. iii. No. 1428.] 

2 State papers, Henry viii., vol. iv. p. 637 ; 
cf. pp. 622-638. The king was at Haddington 
in February 1533, and at Melrose in the fol- 
lowing month. 


of Waughton and others convicted of assault, etc. 1 In August of the same 
year he and his friends formerly named received a general remission for all 
crimes except treason. 2 Between these two dates, on 23d May, he received 
from the king a feu-charter to himself and Helen Napier, his second wife, of 
the lands of Murdochcairnie in Fife, with the usual commonty of the marshy 
land lying between Murdochcairnie and Starr, in the parish of Kilmany. 
The annual feu-duty to be paid was £21 Scots, with 24 bolls of barley, 20 
bolls of wheat, four dozen of capons and other poultry. A suitable mansion 
and policies were to be erected and maintained ; while the king revoked in 
favour of Sir John and his wife all other grants made of the lands. 3 Five 
years later a change was made in the holding, Sir John Melville and his 
wife receiving three-quarters of Murdochcairnie with commonty in the 
" myre " of Starr, for an annual payment of £15, 15s. Scots, 18 bolls of barley, 
15 bolls of wheat, and three dozen fowls, under the same conditions. 4 In 
October 1537 Sir John appears to have mortgaged part of his lands of 
Torbain, as he then received a letter of reversion from Archbishop James 
Beaton, as administrator of the abbey of Dunfermline, giving him regress to 
the lands on payment of £40. At a later date this sum was increased to 
600 merks, for which, in 1545, Sir John received another letter of reversion 
from Archibald Beaton of Capildrae, heir of the archbishop. 5 

In July 1537 the laird of Baith was present as one of the jury on the 
remarkable trials of John, Master of Forbes, Janet Douglas, Lady Glands, 
and her son, Lord Glamis, charged with conspiring against the life of King 
James the Fifth. 6 The circumstances of these trials, however, are well known, 
and need not be repeated here. A few years later Sir John Melville himself 
came under the ban, not of a criminal but of the civil court, in consequence 
of a judgment pronounced against him by the lords of council. From this 

1 Pitcaim's Criminal Trials, vol. i. p. 172*. 1587, 23d May 1536. 

2 Ibid. p. 250* 15th August 1536. 4 lm . No. 2492, 23d October 1541. 
James Kirkcaldy of Grange, with his 

brothers, John and Patrick, William Bar- ' ^egistrum de Dunfermelyn, p. 386, 2d 

clay of Touch, John Melville of Wester October 1537 ; vol. iii. of this work, p. 84, 

Touch, and eight others, were included in 26th Jul y 1545 - 

this remission. 6 Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. pp. 

3 Registrum Magni Sigilli, vol. iii. No. 184*, 190* 199*. 


position, however, he was released by the king, who granted him a formal 
discharge. According to this writ, a question had arisen as to the holding of 
the lands of Lundie, or Limdin, then in possession of Walter Lundie of that 
ilk, and the lords of council decided that a retour of service affecting the 
lands, made by Sir John Melville, was a wilful error. The lands were 
retoured as held for ward and relief, while a particular charter had been 
overlooked, the tenor of which, however, is not stated, and for this error Sir 
John's "oods were declared escheat to the Crown. But in consideration of 
the fact that at the date of the retour, Sir John Melville was under age, or, 
as it is put, " of imperfite age, lakking discretioun and understanding," and 
also that since then he had attended upon the king's service at great expense 
to himself, the king with consent of his treasurer remitted and forgave the 
escheat and all claim thereto. He also rehabilitated and restored Melville to 
the same position in which he stood before he was convicted of the wilful 
error in question, and all legal processes against the defendant were dis- 
charged. 1 In the August following Sir John was on the jmy who tried and 
convicted Sir James Hamilton of Finnart, of an attempt to assassinate the 
king, but the details of the trial are not known. 2 

Another land transaction in which Sir John Melville was concerned, and 
which must have taken place about this time, though the exact date has not 
been ascertained, is of some interest. This related to the lands of Abthane, 
or Abden, near Kinghorn, of which casual mention has already been made. 
Before 1521 Sir John Melville had acquired right to a lease of the lands, by 
assignation from his aunt, and, as already noted, the lease was continued to 
him. On the accession of David Beaton to the archbishopric of St. Andrews, 
or about 1540, Sir John Melville appears to have received a charter of the 
lands in feu-farm under certain conditions. According to a recent writer, 
who appears to have seen Cardinal Beaton's grant, as well as a crown-charter 
of subsequent date, there is a distinct reservation that the king and his 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 77, 78. The Melville, and had probably used their iuflu- 

discharge is dated at Linlithgow, 7th Janu- enee to obtain his release from civil disabili- 

ary 1539-40. It is signed by the king, and ties. He had, however, to pay a composition 

indorsed by James Kirkcaldy of Grange, the of £300 Scots. 

treasurer, and by Mr. Henry Balnaves, both 2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland 

of whom were very friendly to Sir John vol. ii. p. 302. 


successors should have lodging and residence at the Abden whenever they 
pleased to come to Kingborn, and as long as they chose to stay, but at the 
king's own cost. It would seem that Cardinal Beaton held the lands on 
the same condition. 1 The writer adds that " in the old orchard of Abden 
there were not long ago removed the remains of a building which tradition 
declared belonged to the king, and the road to which from the shore or 
landing-place was called the King's Gate." 

It is said by some historians that Sir John Melville was held in much 
esteem by King James the Fifth, who conferred upon him various offices, 
especially the important post of captain of the castle of Dunbar. The first 
part of this statement is so far borne out by the charter of rehabilitation 
already quoted, in which the king refers to Sir John's labours and expendi- 
ture in the royal service. This was in 1540, and the king then describes Sir 
John as his " louit familiar seruitour," and in the following year he showed a 
friendly interest in the marriage of Sir John's eldest son. 2 It was apparently 
in or before the former of these years that Sir John was made captain of the 
castle of Dunbar, where he had the responsible task assigned him of guarding 
some of those Highland chiefs whom King James brought with him as host- 
ages, from his expedition to the Isles in 1540. One chieftain thus placed 
under Sir John's care was Angus M'Connel or Macdoiiald of Isla, who was so 
pleased with the kindly treatment accorded to him, that, at a later date, he 
remembered it, and gladly requited it to Sir John Melville's son, James, when 
the latter, on his way to France, in 1550, was storm-stayed near Macdonald's 
castle of Dunaveg. 3 The laird of Eaith was apparently still captain of 
Dunbar in August 1542, when that officer was directed to blow up the house 
of Edrington, otherwise known as Cawmills, a small stronghold in the parish 
of Mordington, not far from the English border. This fortalice had been, 
ten years previously, during the troubles with England, and while in the 
hands of Sir George Douglas of Pittendriech, a cause of considerable annoy- 
ance to the Scots, although in a partly ruinous condition. At a later date, 
1534, it was restored to Scotland, but as war was now, in 1542, again declared, 

1 Statistical Account of Scotland, 1S45, pp. 77, 78. 

vol. ix. Kiughorn, p. 809. 3 Memoirs of Sir James Melville of Hall- 

2 Cf. vol. ii. of this work, p. 2 ; vol. iii. hill, Bannatyne Club eJ., p. 12. 


it was deemed necessary to destroy the building, though this was at variance 
with royal letters issued shortly before directing the laird of the Bass to 
'-' kepe Edrington." * 

There is thus evidence that at least towards the later years of the king's 
reign, Sir John Melville was held in good estimation, and there can be no 
doubt that he had many friends among those in office or in attendance on the 
Court. James Kirkcaldy of Grange, who was high treasurer during the last 
five years of the king's reign, was Sir John's son-in-law. Another friend was 
Mr. Henry Balnaves, appointed in 1538 a senator of the college of justice, 
and also holding office about the Court. A third intimate was Sir John, 
or Captain Borthwick, one of those appointed by King James the Fifth 
to attend Sir Balph Sadler, the English ambassador, during his stay in 
Scotland in the beginning of 1540. The king's physician, Michael Durham, 
also appears to have ranked among Sir John's associates, and others 
might be added, though with less certainty, including probably Sir James 
Learmonth of Dairsie, master of the royal household. 2 From his intimacy 
with these men, each of whom had more or less interest with the king, it is 
probable that Sir John Melville also shared in the royal favour. But it is of 
more importance to note that his association in this group connected him 
with the earliest stirrings of the Reformation in Scotland, of which the 
persons named were among the first and most active adherents. 

Henry Balnaves had been educated abroad, and in his travels on the 
Continent had imbibed the new doctrines. As he was a native of Kirk- 
caldy, he knew Sir John Melville, and after his return to Scotland, before 
1535, was frequently at Baith, where he appears to have met a congenial 
spirit. 3 Sir John Borthwick also appears to have returned to Scotland 
shortly before Sadler's embassy, having been an ensign or lieutenant in the 

1 Order to the captain of Dunbar, 15th Grange), interested themselves in Sir John 
August 1542, vol. ii. of this work, p. 2. Melville's affairs, appears by a friendly letter 
Treasurer's accounts, 7th August 1542, quoted from the king, who states that they had in- 
by Pitcairn, vol. i. p. 324*. formed him as to the proposed marriage of Sir 

2 Cf. Calderwood's Historie of the Kirk of John's eldest son. [3d April 1541, vol. ii. 
Scotland, vol. i. p. 158; Sadler's State Papers, of this work, p. 2.] 

vol. i. p. 19 ; vol. iii. of this work, p. 89. 

That the master of household (Sir James 3 Calderwood's Historie of the Kirk of 

Learmonth), and the treasurer (Kirkcaldy of Scotland, vol. i. p. 158. 


Scottish archer guard of the King of France. 1 The other friends of Sir John 
Melville named were also well affected to the Eeformation doctrines, and he 
and they thus became obnoxious to the clergy, although Sir John Borthwick, 
perhaps because he was less immediately under the royal patronage, was the 
first of Sir John Melville's intimates to suffer for his opinions. On 28th May 
1540, he was summoned before an ecclesiastical court at St. Andrews and 
found guilty of having the New Testament in English, the works of Erasmus, 
and other writings reputed heretical, in his possession. He was condemned 
to death, but made his escape to England, where he resided for many years. 

This persecution, and others organised against heresy in the years 1539-40, 
were directed mainly by the influence of Cardinal David Beaton, who had 
succeeded his uncle, Archbishop James Beaton, in the see of St. Andrews. 
Under his guidance the clergy prepared, it is said, a list of upwards of three 
hundred noblemen, gentlemen, and burgesses, whom they accused of holding- 
heretical opinions. This list the prelates presented to King James, urging 
him to confiscate the estates of those named. The laird of Baith, his son- 
in-law, and other Fifeshire gentlemen, were included in this list, but fortun- 
ately for him and them, when it was first shown to the king, he rejected it. 

Knox, followed by Calderwood, states that it was about July 1540, after 
the return of King James from a voyage to Orkney and the Western Isles, 
that the list in question was presented and rejected. According to these 
writers, Kirkcaldy was then held in much esteem by the king, and not only 
persuaded him to refuse the demand of the clergy, but spoke so plainly 
regarding the abuses in church and state caused by their ambition and 
licentious lives that the king gave a wrathful answer to the prelates, 
threatening them with punishment if they did not reform their own lives 
and cease to be instruments of discord between him and his nobility. 2 This 
utterance is said to have been made at Holyrood-house, but in a letter 
of the period it is reported that such a conversation took place at Linlith- 
gow. Sir David Lindsay's celebrated satire of " The Three Estates " 

1 His name appears in the rolls of the Scots Guards of France from 1529 to 1539, when 
he left that service. [The Scots Guards in France, by William Forbes-Leith, vol. ii. 
pp. 120-132.] 

2 Knox's History, Laing's ed., vol. i. p. 82 ; Calderwood, vol. i. pp. 146, 147. 



was performed in presence of the Court, and so impressed the king that 
after the play was finished he specially rebuked certain of the prelates 
and urged them to reform. 1 This was in January 1540, some months before 
the alleged presentation of the list, but the story told by Knox is not 
improbable, as King James the Fifth more than once dealt sternly with 
his clergy. 2 

But though the clerical demand was set aside for the time, it was not 
abandoned, and was again brought forward at a time when the king was 
less inclined to resist. In October 1542, King James, embroiled with his 
uncle, King Henry the Eighth, had mustered an army on Fala-moor with 
intent to invade England, when his nobility and barons refused to follow 
him on such an errand. In his rage at their refusal, his desire to humble 
them was so strong that it is said he now accepted the proposal of the clergy, 
renewed at this juncture, expressing his regret that he had so long despised 
their counsel. Every effort was then made by the clergy to further the 
king's wishes by an expedition which was to be commanded by their nominee, 
the king's minion, Oliver Sinclair, who undertook the enterprise only to cast 
it miserably away on the shore of the Solway Firth. The king, seeing 
all his hopes frustrated of invading England and humbling his nobility, 
sank under the disgrace, and died in little more than a fortnight after the 
rout of Solway, and the scroll, upon which the clergy founded their hopes of 
aggrandisement, was found in his pocket after his death. 3 Knox tells us 

1 Letter, Sir William Eure to Thomas 
Cromwell, enclosing a note of the " Inter- 
lude," 26th January 1540, printed in Pin- 
kerton, vol. ii. pp. 494-497. 

- Cf. letter, 24th March 1536, from Archi- 
bald, Earl of Angus, to his brother George 
Doudas, in which he says the clergy of Scot- 
land were " newer sa ewyll content " as they 
then were at a charge made to them by the 
king requiring them to relax their extortions. 
[The Douglas Book, by Sir William Fraser, 
K.C.B., vol. iv. pp. 143, 144.] 

3 Knox's History, Laing's ed., vol. i. 
pp. 82-92 ; Calderwood's History, vol. i. 

pp. 144-151 ; Sadler's State Papers, vol. i. 
p. 94; Keith's History, edition 1734, pp. 12, 
21. Historians differ as to the number of 
names included in this list. Knox and Cal- 
derwood say it contained the names of one 
hundred landed men, besides others of lower 
rank. Buchanan gives the number of three 
hundred, while Sadler says plainly, on the 
authority of the Regent Arran himself, that 
there were three hundred and sixty in all. 
Bishop Keith doubts the story of its being 
found in the king's pocket, as he thinks Car- 
dinal Beaton would have destroyed it, but he 
overlooks the fact that the cardinal hoped 
himself to have the supreme power. 



that after the defeat, the king, being ashamed to look any one in the face, 
departed secretly to Fife, where, among other places, he visited Hallyards, 
then occupied by his treasurer, Kirkcaldy of Grange. The latter was absent, 
but his oldest son, William, afterwards the famous partisan of Queen Mary, 
with a few others, waited upon the unfortunate monarch, and Lady Grange, 
the daughter of Sir John Melville, an " ancient and godly matron," received 
him courteously, and strove to comfort him with kindly words. But the 
king's only reply was, " My portion of this world is short, for I will not 
be with you fifteen days," and to his servants he said, " Ere Yule clay ye 
will be masterless and the realm without a king." 1 His forebodings were 
fulfilled, for he expired in his palace of Falkland on the 16th December 
1542. 2 

Immediately after the death of King James, Cardinal Beaton caused 
himself and three colleagues, the Earls of Moray, Huntly, and Argyll, to be 
proclaimed governors of the kingdom, alleging in support of this act a testa- 
mentary settlement or will of the late king. Had this project succeeded it 
would have "one hard with Sir John Melville and others who had embraced 
the reformed doctrines, but the alleged testament was declared to be a forgery, 
or to have been fraudulently obtained, and James, Earl of Arran, the second 
person in the kingdom, was appointed governor. 3 The crafty cardinal was 

1 Knox's History, Laing's ed., vol. i. p. 
90. Calderwood, vol. i. p. 151. Kirkcaldy 
of Grange received a feu-charter of Hall- 
yards, in Fife, and other lands, from the 
abbot of Dunfermline, on loth October 1539 
[Ptegistrum Magni Sigilli, vol. iii. No. 2264]. 
"Ancient," as here applied to the Lady of 
Grange, must mean experienced, wise, or 
sagacious, as she could not have been much 
more than forty years of age. 

2 Various dates have been assigned for 
the death of King James the Fifth. The 
14th December has been commonly accepted 
by historians, but if the treasurer's accounts 
be correct he expired on the 16th December, 
and this date is corroborated by the regnal 
years of the charters in the next reign, 
[Registrum Magni Sigilli, vol. iii. p. 661. 

VOL. I. 

note, et seq. passim.] 

3 These facts are stated by all historians, 
but the allegation made against Cardinal 
Beaton of founding on an illegal document 
has been corroborated by the recent discovery, 
in the Hamilton charter-chest, of a notarial in- 
strument purporting tobe a formal appointment 
by King James the Fifth of the cardinal, the 
Earl of Moray (a natural brother of the king), 
and the Earls of Huntly and Argyll, as tutors- 
testamentary to the infant Princess Mary, 
and governors of the realm during her 
minority. This writ, which was no doubt 
taken possession of at the time by the Regent 
Arran, is dated 14th December 1542, two 
days, apparently, before the death of the 
king, and is written in due form by the sub- 
scribing notary, Henry Balfour. Balfour had 



imprisoned in the castle of Blackness, and though many of the priests, of 
whom he was the ecclesiastical head, ceased to officiate, and thus endeavoured 
to put the kingdom under excommunication, he had eventually to submit. 

During the first year of the government of Arran the reformed opinions 
spread rapidly, being greatly assisted by the Act of Parliament permitting 
the use of the Old and New Testaments in the vernacular, an Act which 
was promoted by Sir John Melville's friend, Henry Balnaves. But ere 
the close of 1543 Arran went over to the party of the cardinal, who was 
appointed lord chancellor, and virtually became supreme in the state. The 
laws against heretics were re-enacted, and persecutions increased in number, 
culminating in the burning at the stake of the famous preacher, George 

This event was closely followed by the death of Cardinal Beaton himself, 
under circumstances so well known that they need not be related here, the 
rather as Sir John Melville was not one of the actual perpetrators of the 
tragedy. It cannot, indeed, be clearly ascertained how far Sir John con- 
tributed to the death of the cardinal. It was afterwards charged against him 
that more or less from the death of Xing James the Fifth, and particularly 
during the first six months of 1546, he was a strong supporter of King Henry 
the Eighth's designs upon Scotland. This was probably true, as many who 
inclined to the reformed doctrines were favourable to the English alliance. 
But no charge was made of complicity in the murder of Beaton, nor is Sir 
John named in the letters of summons directed against the assassins and 
other conspirators. 1 There is, indeed, a sentence in an important letter 

apparently been in the king's service as a 
chaplain [Treasurer's accounts, 1536, Pitcairn, 
vol. i. p. 286*], but Buchanan styles him a 
" mercenary priest," and openly charges him 
with forgery, while Knox and Calderwood so 
correctly describe the contents of the docu- 
ment, though denouncing it as fraudulent, 
that it is evident they refer to this writ, upon 
the back of which is written in a contempo- 
rary hand, " Schir Henry Balfour instrument, 
that was never notar," implying that he was 
not recognised as a regular notary public, 

although using that title in the king's pre- 
tended will. The existence of this writ, 
bearing out in every detail the assertions of 
contemporary historians, renders it highly 
probable that their statements regarding the 
scroll already referred to, and the existence 
of which has been doubted, are correct, and 
that it also was an authentic document, 
though it may not have been preserved. 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 
vol. ii. p. 477. 


written at a later date by Sir John himself, where he refers to something 
done that was " plesand " to King Henry, and for which he expected reward. 
This might he construed as a reference to the cardinal's death, but his 
accusers did not treat it in that light, looking upon it rather as a general 
furthering of King Henry's policy. 1 On the other hand, the laird of Eaith 
could scarcely have been ignorant of the plots which for two years previously 
had been entertained for the removal of the cardinal. In April 1544, the 
Earl of Hertford wrote to King Henry the Eighth that the laird of Grange, 
late treasurer of Scotland, the Master of Eothes, and others would attempt 
to take or kill the cardinal in one of his progresses through Fife, and they 
only waited the English king's approbation and assistance. 2 The laird of 
Grange, who had been deprived of his office by the influence of Beaton, and 
probably nursed revenge, was, as already stated, Sir John Melville's son-in- 
law, and though the project was deferred, or passed into other hands for a 
time, he was one of those who eventually carried it out, while among the 
other conspirators were several of the name of Melville, including a natural 
son of Sir John himself. 3 

Crawfurd, indeed, in his Peerage, but on what authority does not appear, 
alleges that a strong enmity existed on the part of the cardinal against Sir 
John Melville, because the latter was so devoted to the reformed religion. 
It is stated that Sir John was accused of heresy by Beaton, and would have 
fallen a victim had not King James interposed, and that when this plan 
failed, the cardinal afterwards strove to gain his end by hiring some ruffians 
to waylay Melville and assassinate him, the laird being saved only by the 
number and courage of his retainers. 4 It may be suggested that the 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 87, 88. actual murderers were only three in number, 

2 Letter, 17th April 1544, State Papers, John Leslie of Parkhill, Peter Carmiehael of 
Henry vin. vol. v. p. 377 ; History of Scot- Balmadie, and James Melville. The last 
land by J. H. Burton, vol. iii. p. 25S. named, who gave the cardinal his death-blow, 

3 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. ii. has sometimes been confounded with the 
p. 377. It may here be noted that though the laird of Eaith, but appears to have been one 
laird of Grange, his son William, and several of the Melvilles of Carnbee. So Spottiswood, 
of his family, and various Mel villes, besides the quoted by Laing. [Cf. Laing's ed. of Knox, 
Master of Rothes and others, were among the vol. i. p. 23±note, and pp. 174-177, for account 
conspirators who entered the castle of St. of Beaton's murder.] 

Andrews with intent to kill Beaton, the * Crawfurd's Peerage, pp. 324, 325. 


foundation for this narrative is an erroneous version of that encounter 
between Sir John Melville and Moultray of Seafield, in which Archbishop 
Beaton figured, as detailed on a former page, were it not that Knox gives 
currency to a story of a similar character. In May 1546, there were fears 
entertained of an English invasion on the east coast of Scotland, and Cardinal 
Beaton summoned the barons and gentlemen of Fife, including Sir John 
Melville and some of his neighbours, to meet at Falkland to ride with him 
to visit the coast and prepare for defence. So Lindsay of Pitscottie and 
Buchanan tell us, but Knox and Calderwood state that under this purpose 
the cardinal concealed another, which was discovered after his death, namely, 
to get into his power Norman and John Leslie, the laird of Grange, Sir 
John Melville, " the faythfull lard of Baith," as Knox styles him, and others, 
who might be slain or imprisoned at pleasure. This statement may imply 
that Beaton was aware of the plots against his own life, and wished to be 
beforehand with the conspirators, yet it is possible that it was not considera- 
tion for his own personal safety which prompted this enterprise, but a deter- 
mination to prevent the gentlemen named from giving active assistance to 
the threatened invasion. It may be to this alleged plot of the cardinal 
that Crawfurd refers, but, whatever were the prelate's intentions, they were 
forestalled by the tragedy which ended his own life, two days before that 
appointed for the meeting at Falkland. 1 

In the events which followed upon the death of the cardinal, Sir John 
Melville, if he did not take a prominent part, was yet not an uninterested 
spectator. As is well known, the conspirators, when they found themselves 
in possession of the castle of St. Andrews, determined to hold it against the 
government. Their original number was only sixteen, but they were rapidly 
reinforced by their friends, and the castle became, within a few days after the 
slaughter of Beaton, a virtual Cave of Adullam for many who sympathised 
with that deed, and for others who believed themselves obnoxious to the 
regent and queen dowager. Such persons, to the number of about one 

1 Lindsay's History, ed. 1778, p. 297 ; papers found in his chamber, and by the 
Buchanan, Aikinan's ed., ii. p. 359 ; Knox's evidence of certain of his council. The meet- 
History, vol. i. p. 174 ; Calderwood, vol. i. p. ing was appointed for Monday, 31st May 
221. Knox and Calderwood state that the 1546, while the cardinal was slain on 29th 
cardinal's designs were made known b3' May. 


hundred and forty, flocked to St. Andrews, where they completed the fortifica- 
tions, nearly finished by the cardinal, and otherwise prepared for defence. 
The governor and his council, after in vain summoning the holders of the 
castle to appear before them, resolved upon a siege, which was begun towards 
the end of August 1546, and dragged on without success until December of 
the same year. 

In that month the governor, by the advice of his council, accepted certain 
overtures which the besieged made for negotiation, and an armistice or 
arrangement was come to by which hostilities were postponed for a time, 
although it would appear that neither party intended to fulfil the agreement. 
The garrison had, about a month previously, requested Mr. Henry Balnaves 
and another to ask for assistance from King Henry the Eighth, and wrote a 
narrative of the facts, to be shown to that king. 1 From this narrative we learn 
the position which Sir John Melville occupied amid the contending parties. 
The garrison, while they admit that the agreement on their part was only a 
pretext to gain time, state that the other side had threatened, if they refused 
an armistice, to seize four of their "most spetial freyndis," and to put some of 
them to death and the others in prison. One of these special friends was the 
laird of Eaith, and it thus appears that he was looked upon by the besieged 
as their staunch friend, while he was obnoxious to the government. No other 
record of him, however, occurs in connection with the siege, which was only 
terminated on 31st July 1547 by the surrender of the garrison. 2 

This result was effected by the agency of a French fleet, to the commander 
of which the besieged capitulated and were carried to France as prisoners. 
In connection with this, Sir John Melville's influence and sympathy with the 
garrison was taken advantage of by the Scottish government at a later date. 

1 Henry Balnaves was not one of the ori- 2 Calderwood's History, vol. i. pp. 225, 
ginal sixteen conspirators, nor did he join 226, 240 ; State Papers (Henry vin.), vol. v. 
them immediately after the death of the car- p. 581. The other friends of the besieged 
dinal, as asserted by some ; he continued to who were threatened were Balfour of Mont- 
sit in the Privy Council until 3d August quhanie, Crichton of Naughton, and Ramsay 
1546. He went to England in November of Colluthie. The death of King Henry the 
1546, and the negotiations referred to began Eighth, on 28th January 1547, soon after the 
on 16th December of that year. [Register communication was made, postponed the hope 
of the Privy Council, vol. i. p. 33 ; Diurnal of of aid from England. 
Occurrents, p. 43.] 


Among the Scottish nobles taken prisoner at Solway Moss was Malcolm, Lord 
Fleming, who was released from captivity on giving a bond to further King 
Henry's schemes for an alliance between Scotland and England, and leaving 
his son James, Master of Fleming, behind him as a hostage. Before a year 
had passed Lord Fleming joined the party of Cardinal Beaton and repudi- 
ated the English alliance, declaring also that he would never go back to 
England whatever became of his son. He also, it is said, paid the sum of 
£1000 fixed for his ransom, and so released himself from obligation to the 
English king. 1 Malcolm, Lord Fleming, was killed at Pinkie in September 

1547, while his son was still detained in England, and it was for the release 
of that son, now James, Lord Fleming, that the Scottish government, in June 

1548, desired Sir John Melville to interest himself. The mode proposed for 
obtaining Lord Fleming's freedom appears to have been that one of those 
gentlemen who had been carried from the castle of St. Andrews to a French 
prison should be released thence and take the place of Lord Fleming in 
England. As this implied the consent of the French government, the appli- 
cation was doubtless made at this time in view of the fact that Lady Fleming, 
mother of the hostage, was governess of the young Queen of Scotland, whom 
it was proposed to send to France, and who did sail thither about two months 
later. It was evidently intended that Sir John Melville should be the 
medium of communication with the prisoner from St. Andrews who was to 
be exchanged for Lord Fleming, and with this view he received a letter from 
the Governor Arran, authorising him to write to England to make the neces- 
sary arrangements. 2 The immediate result of his efforts has not been ascer- 
tained. James, Lord Fleming, had indeed returned to Scotland in 1550, but 
this may have been only the effect of the peace concluded in April of that 

"We now approach the closing tragedy of Sir John Melville's own life, 
who, within six months from the date of the regent's letter, was accused of 
treason and beheaded. The fact, and the cause of it, have been variously 

1 "Biggar and the House of Fleming," by W. Hunter, pp. 513, 514. The statement 
that the ransom money was paid is somewhat doubtful, since the hostage was detained 
so long. 

2 Vol. iii. of this work, p. S6. 1st June 1548. 


related by contemporary and more modern historians, and it has been referred 
to as perhaps one of the most remarkable of the too frequent instances of 
judicial murder which unhappily disfigure our early Scottish annals. 1 The 
author who thus writes, however, admits that the circumstances have hitherto 
been little known. The three earliest historians who refer to Sir John 
Melville's fate are Knox, Buchanan, and Calderwood, and these differ in their 
account of the cause which led to his apprehension and conviction. Buchanan 
and Calderwood state that certain letters which Sir John had written to an 
Englishman on behalf of a prisoner, a friend of his, were intercepted, and led 
to his arrest, 2 but this is evidently an erroneous version of the application 
made for Lord Fleming, which was duly authorised. Knox is more correct 
when he says that Melville suffered because he wrote a letter to his son, 
John Melville, then in England. All these writers, however, agree in 
representing that Sir John was innocent of any crime, while Knox and 
Calderwood attribute his fate to the enmity of two churchmen. The first of 
these was John Hamilton, natural brother of the Begent Arran, an ambitious 
prelate, then abbot of Paisley and bishop of Dunkeld, afterwards archbishop 
of St. Andrews ; the other being George Durie, commendator of Dunfermline, 
Melville's feudal superior. It is alleged that these two men sought Sir John's 
death because he was known to be a favourer of the Beformation, and a friend 
to those who had held the castle of St. Andrews. This view has been adopted 
by a modern writer, who, after commenting on the rigorous and tyrannical 
conduct of Arran and his brother against those barons and others who 
favoured the reformed religion, states that instead of attempting to prosecute 
such for heresy the authorities preferred to try them for alleged crimes 
against the state. Among other instances he notices Sir John Melville's case 
in terms which give a fair summary of the opinions of all the historians who 
have narrated it — " Sir John Melville of Baith, a gentleman of distinguished 
probity, and of untainted loyalty, was accused of a traitorous connection with 
the enemy ; and although the only evidence adduced in support of the charge 
was a letter written by him to one of his sons, then in England, and although 

1 Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. p. *339. p. 378 ; Calderwood, vol. i. p. 262. These 

two writers are also wrong in the date they 

2 Buchanan's History, Aikman's ed. vol. ii. assign to Sir John's death. 


this letter contained nothing criminal, yet was he unjustly condemned and 
beheaded." 1 

It is to be observed, however, that while, as will be shown, there is con- 
siderable ground for the indignation expressed by the careful and accurate 
writer quoted, he yet relies for his information on the accounts of earlier 
historians, and does not appear to have seen the letter of Sir John Melville 
to which he refers. The criminal records of that period which are extant are 
mutilated and imperfect, and no evidence bearing on this trial has been 
discovered amongst them. 2 All former statements on the subject of Sir John 
Melville's conviction have therefore been founded on imperfect knowledge of 
the details of the accusation against him, only now supplied from two docu- 
ments preserved in the family charter-chest, and printed at length in another 
volume of this work. Although, being from official sources, these writs do 
not give any clue to the secret or personal motives which may have inspired 
the action against Sir John, they yet throw a clearer light upon the main 
facts of the case than has hitherto been attainable. The papers in question 
are, first, a contemporary official extract from the records of justiciary 
narrating the trial and sentence, with a certified copy of the letter upon 
which the charge was founded ; while the second writ is likewise an official 
copy of the act of parliament rescinding the forfeiture of Sir John Melville's 
estates, which also recapitulates the proceedings of his condemnation. 3 

From these papers it will be seen that Knox is correct in his statement 
of the charge made against Sir John Melville. Reference has already been 
made to a natural son of Sir John, who was apparently one of the original 
sixteen conspirators against the life of Cardinal Beaton, and one of the 
garrison of St. Andrews. This man, also named John Melville, appears to 
have left the castle before its surrender and settled in England, where he 
seems to have been an emissary of the Protector Somerset, and whence he 
kept up communication with his father and other friends in Scotland. It 
was a letter which Sir John Melville had written to this son, at a critical time 

1 M'Crie's Life of Knox, 3d ed. ; vol. i. Parliament, 4tli June 1563, vol. iii. of this 
pp. 163, 164. work, pp. S6-90, 102-108. The first of these 

2 Pitcairn's Crimiual Trials, vol. i. p. *339. writs was probably supplied officially, when 

3 Official extract from books of justiciary, Sir John Melville's children and friends ob- 
13th December 154S; and extract Act of tained the second from parliament. 


in the struggle then going on between England and Scotland, which fell into 
the governor's hands, and brought Sir John to the block. In this letter, 
written in January 1548, the writer informs his son of the chief military 
events then taking place in Scotland, and specially notes that the Earl of 
Argyll was advancing upon Dundee, then in the hands of the English. He 
distinctly expresses his sympathy with the army invading Scotland, and 
suggests to his son how he might gain intelligence for the Protector Somerset. 
He then refers to their friends in France and others of the late garrison 
of St. Andrews, and concludes with good wishes to comrades in England. 1 

These are the main points in the letter, but to understand their signifi- 
cance, and the effect of such a document made public at the probable date 
of its discovery by the authorities, it is necessary to glance briefly at the 
history of the period, and the state of affairs then existing between Scotland 
and England. After the death of King James the Fifth, the English 
king, Henry the Eighth, earnestly endeavoured to bring about a marriage 
between his son and the infant Queen of Scotland. In his proposals 
to this end he was supported by a strong party in Scotland, including some 
of the most prominent men in that country, notably the Douglases, the Earls 
of Cassillis, Glencairn, and many others, who also more or less favoured the 
reformed religion. But owing to the violent manner in which King Henry, 
and, after his death, the Protector Somerset, strove to further their purposes, 
most of the Scottish nobility and others who had favoured the English 
alliance, drew back, and either renounced their engagements with the English 
king, or, if they still maintained correspondence with him, held themselves 
ready to resist any invasion of Scotland. More especially was this the case 
after the battle of Pinkie, in September 1547, when the Scots suffered a 
severe defeat, and the English fleet seized Broughty Castle on the Tay, and 
the island of Inchcolm in the Firth of Forth. Besides this, a few months 
later, in the beginning of 1548, another English force, under Lord Grey 
of Wilton, overran a great part of the south of Scotland almost to 
the gates of Edinburgh, seizing Dalkeith Castle and other strongholds. In 
August of the same year the war was renewed with greater intensity on the 
part of the English, who burned Dundee, seized Dunbar, and endeavoured to 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 89. 
VOL. I. I 


land in Fife, but were repulsed with loss. All this hostility embittered the 
Scots, and the bitterness engendered between the two nations expressed 
itself in the following year, if not earlier, in a proclamation by the Governor 
Arran that every Scotsman serving the King of England should be slain as 
soon as taken, which was met by a retaliatory order that every Scotsman 
taken prisoner by the English should be killed without ransom until Arran 
should revoke his proclamation. 1 

These orders were apparently issued after Sir John Melville's death, but 
they sufficiently indicate the bitterness which had infused itself into the 
minds of the Scots, and which, perhaps, more than any other cause, led to 
his execution, and to the death or forfeiture of others on similar grounds. 
That Sir John Melville bad a strong leaning to the English alliance is proved 
by all the various glimpses we have of his doings since the year 1542, 
especially his sympathy with those who formed the garrison of St. Andrews. 
It was unfortunate for himself, therefore, that the discovery of the letter to 
his son proved that even after the battle of Pinkie, and while Scotland was 
invaded both by sea and land, instead of desiring to repel the enemy, he was, 
on the contrary, well inclined to their presence in his neighbourhood. This 
was written when Broughty Castle and the island of Inchcolm were in 
English occupation, and Sir John Melville complains that his power was not 
equal to his will to assist the invaders, as his neighbours around are 
" unfaythf ull," and have caused the government to be " extreme " to him 
and his friends. There is, therefore, not much reason to wonder that the 
discovery of a letter containing such sentiments led to Sir John's being 
accused of treason, and suffering accordingly. 

How the letter fell into the hands of the authorities is not clear. Knox 
states that it was alleged to have been found in the house of Ormiston. 
Were this so, it would agree with the terms of the letter itself, in which 
Melville refers to the laird of Ormiston and others as his friends, and speci- 
ally names him as the channel of communication with England. John Cock- 
burn, laird of Ormiston, is well known to history as the friend and supporter 
of the martyr Wishart, but he was also an active partisan of the English, 
and, as extant documents show, he was in constant correspondence with the 
1 State papers quoted by Tytler, History, vol. iv. pp. 481, 482, app. L. 


Protector Somerset or Lord Grey of Wilton, while a kinsman or namesake, 
Captain Ninian Cockburn, acted as their paid emissary. 1 At the very date 
on which Melville's letter was written to be forwarded through him, Cock- 
burn was in close alliance with Lord Grey, then preparing to enter Scotland 
with an army. When Grey did invade the Lothians, Ormiston joined him 
openly and received command of the tower of Salton, near his own residence 
in East Lothian, a small fortalice which had fallen into possession of the 
English. This post, however, was suddenly surprised by the Governor Arran, 
who also took and burned Ormiston's own house, a fact which Lord Grey 
himself announces to the Protector Somerset. 2 This was in February 1548, a 
few weeks after the date of Melville's letter ; and if that document was 
found in the house of Ormiston, it would be conclusive evidence to the 
authorities that Melville and Cockburn were in the same confederacy. 

One difficulty presents itself in regard to this theory, that the attack on 
Ormiston took place in the beginning of the year 1548, and Sir John Mel- 
ville's trial was in December of that year, while, as has been shown, he was 
in the interval still in credit with the government, which suggests that the 
letter was still a secret. Knox, however, gives an alternative theory that in 
regard to the document many suspected the trickery and craft of Eingan or 
Ninian Cockburn, now (says Knox) called Captain Ninian, to whom the paper 
was delivered. 3 The history of this Ninian Cockburn is very obscure, but he 
had been one of those summoned for connivance in the murder of Cardinal 
Beaton, and was at this time an emissary or spy on behalf of the English 
generals. It is of some importance to note that in January 1549, a month 
after Sir John Melville's death, the name of Eingan Cockburn appears on the 
rolls of the Scottish Archer Guard of France, suggesting that he had then 
made his escape from Scotland. There he remained abroad until 1565, when 
he again appeared in Scotland in the suite of Mons. Mauvissiere, the Sieur 
de Castelnau, who in that year came as an ambassador from France, to act as 

1 Thorpe's Calendar of State Papers, Scot- their escape from Scotland, and though their 
land, vol. i. pp. 67-81 passim, cf. p. 69. estates were forfeited at the same time with 

2 Ibid. p. 81 ; cf. the Frasers of Philorth, those of Sir John Melville, they were after- 
Lords Saltoun, vol. ii. pp. 55-57. The laird wards restored to their lands and played a 
of Ormiston, and another active agent of the prominent part in the Reformation. 
English part}', Crichton of Brunstane, made 3 Knox's History, Laing's ed., vol. i. p. 224. 


mediator between Queen Mary and her turbulent nobles. In this connection 
Captain Cockburn acted as the agent of Cecil, the famous minister of Queen 
Elizabeth. 1 Sir James Melville of Hallhill describes Cockburn as " a busy 
medler," 2 and it is therefore probable he was one of those restless men, who 
take advantage of a disturbed state of society to serve many masters, and play 
many parts. Be this as it may, and although Sir John Melville may have 
been a victim of treachery, or sacrificed to facilitate the escape of others in 
whom he trusted too implicitly, it yet cannot, on a calm view of his letter 
and the charges founded on it, be alleged that he was altogether guiltless of 
treasonable practices. 

He was arrested some time before the 3d of December 1548, 3 and was 
brought to trial ten days afterwards. Crawfurd, in his Peerage, says that on 
the discovery of the letter it was shown to the archbishop of St. Andrews. 4 
From another source we learn that it was by that prelate's orders Sir John 
was suddenly seized, and sent a prisoner to Edinburgh, where he was strictly 
confined. He was tried by a jury, chiefly composed of Fifeshire lairds, some 
of them Sir John's immediate neighbours. The judges were Andrew Ker of 
Dolphingston, then provost of Edinburgh, and Patrick Barroun of Spittal- 
field. The charges preferred against Sir John were six in number, and they 
were all founded, not on the evidence of witnesses, as alleged by some, but 
upon this letter to his son, which was produced in Court, and which, accord- 
ing to the indictment, Sir John Melville acknowledged himself to have 

The first count against the accused charged him with treasonably 
receiving treasonable writings sent to him in October, November, December, 
and January 1547-8, by his natural son, John Melville, from England, 
desiring him, to the prejudice of his own sovereign, to aid the captains of the 

1 The Scots Guards in France, by W. 4 Crawfurd's Peerage, p. 325. The "bishop 
Forbes Leith, vol. ii. pp. 146-168 passim; of St. Andrews" referred to was John Haruil- 
Thorpe's Calendar of State Papers, Scotland, ton, natural brother of the Regent Arran, who 
pp. 221, 227, 827, etc. was then bishop of Dunkeld. Crawfurd mis- 

2 Memoirs, Bannatyne Club, p. 20. dates the trial by a year, placing it in 1549, 

3 Letters were sent on 3d and 5th Decern- but in this he follows other historians. Craw- 
ber 1548 to summon a jury to sit in Edin- furd also places the scene of the trial at Stir- 
burgh. [Treasurer's Accounts, Pitcairn, vol. i. ling, but this is disproved by extant writs. 


English garrisons in Broughty Castle and Inchcolm. This was declared to 
be proved by the first sentence of the letter, in which Sir John acknowledged 
receipt of letters from his son, to the effect stated, while he regretted his 
inability to express his goodwill to the English enterprise. The second 
charge was, his treasonably concealing the treasonable writings from the 
authorities, while the third count was his sending a reply to such writings, 
of which last the letter itself was produced as proof, wherein he also counselled 
his son to serve the English well, and not to trust to any kindness in Scot- 
land as long as the then government lasted. The fourth charge accused Sir 
John of furthering the evil and mischievous purposes of King Henry the 
Eighth against Scotland, in the months of January, February, March, April, 
and May 1546, in hope of receiving a reward from the English king. The 
evidence adduced in support of this was Sir John's own words to his son 
that his good friends the lairds of Ormiston and Montquhanie (Balfour), and 
Ninian Cockburn, could tell what his part had been since the field (of Pinkie) 
and before ; his good brethren and companions, Sir John Borthwick, Dr. 
Durham, and John Leslie could testify of the first purpose being done that 
was pleasing to King Henry, and he thought he should have been remem- 
bered among the first. He then added as a piece of news that the Earl of 
Argyll was marching strongly upon Dundee, advising his son that if the 
Protector of England would permit him to enter Lothian he might obtain 
much intelligence, and do good service to the English. Upon this the fifth 
charge was founded, that Sir John had supplied intelligence to the enemy so 
far as he could, continually since the death of King James the Fifth, and 
specially in the month of January 1548, when the letter was written. The 
letter concluded with notices of friends, remembrances to those in England, 
advice to his son, and a promise that he would write to the laird of Ormiston 
of things as they occurred, which was made the subject of the sixth and last 
charge, that the intelligence thus conveyed was intended for the Protector 
Somerset. 1 

These were the charges made against Sir John Melville, and of which he 
was found guilty on 13th December 1548. On the face of the official docu- 
ments, it is difficult to clear Sir John of the charge of treason, and it does 
1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 86-90, 103, 104. 


not appear that the authorship of the letter was ever actually disproved. 
But while this is so, and while the authorities were so far justified in pro- 
ceeding against one whom they helieved to he a traitor, yet in fairness to Sir 
John Melville and to those historians who have taken a lenient view of his 
case, testimony from another contemporary source may now be produced, 
which declares that whatever his offence, his apprehension, trial, and con- 
demnation were attended by circumstances of special harshness and treachery. 
This testimony is also embodied in an official document. In 1563 Sir John's 
widow, Helen Napier, and her elder children, one of whom at least, Eobert 
Melville, afterwards Sir Eobert Melville, was high in favour with Queen 
Mary, petitioned the government to rescind the condemnation and sentence 
of forfeiture pronounced against Sir John, and to rehabilitate him and them 
by restoring the family estates. In answer to this a royal summons was 
issued in the usual form, narrating the sentence and proceedings against 
Melville, and requiring the judges, jurors, and others concerned to appear 
before parliament to hear and see the sentence rescinded. It is from this 
document, compiled no doubt from evidence supplied by Sir John Melville's 
friends, that we obtain, besides the formal narrative of the trial, a remarkable 
series of statements on behalf of Sir John, which are evidently the ground- 
work of the charge against the authorities made by Knox and other historians. 
As the writ was drawn up at a period many years after the trial, when the 
reformers were in the ascendancy, and those against whom the summons was 
chiefly directed were in exile or deprived of power, and as it contains what 
may be called special pleas against the justice of Sir John's sentence, it is 
necessarily somewhat partisan in tone, and its details may be given in an 
exaggerated form. 1 Yet the statements therein made, aided as they must 
have been by living testimony, are not to be disregarded, and they tend to 
support Knox's assertion regarding the enmity displayed by the two prelates 
formerly named, John Hamilton, abbot of Paisley, and George Durie, corn- 
mendator of Dunfermline. 

As regards the former, the cause of his dislike to Sir John Melville is not 
stated, but the enmity of Durie arose out of one of those family feuds then 
so prevalent in Scotland, and one of which with the Moultrays of Seafield 
1 Copies or drafts of summons, in Melville Charter-chest. 


has already been referred to. In 1571, Sir John's grandson, the famous 
Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, addressed a letter to the kirk-session 
of Edinburgh defending himself against a charge founded on a squabble in 
which he had engaged with some of the Durie family at Dunfermline. 
In that letter he states, as an excuse : " It is notoriously known that they 
— the principals of the house of Durie — have done to me and mine many 
great offences, grievous injuries, and exorbitant displeasures ; the principal 
of that house being the chief author of the death and destruction of my 
grandfather, the laird of Eaith, with the ruin of his house. And since then 
have they not daily and continually molested us, his posterity and friends, 
in our possessions?" etc. 1 Allowing for a certain heat of anger in this 
statement, it yet corroborates the evidence adduced on behalf of Sir John 

The pleadings contained in the royal summons declare that the sentence 
should be rescinded on five grounds : — First, because the judges who tried 
the case were not properly commissioned to do so ; second, because Sir John 
was not properly nor legally summoned ; third, because he was deceived and 
concussed into confessing that the letter founded on against him was written 
by him, and did not make a voluntary confession ; fourth, that the letter in 
question was written under privilege and licence ; and fifth, because the 
verdict was not founded upon the exact terms of the letter adduced in sup- 
port of the accusation. 

Into every detail of the narrative in support of these five reasons it is not 
necessary to enter ; the chief points of interest are those affecting Sir John's 
apprehension and his treatment previous to trial, with the pressure whicli 
was brought to bear upon the authorities against him. We are told that 
instead of a legal warning being given, Sir John was, about fifteen days 
before his trial, suddenly seized by the servants of John Hamilton, abbot of 
Paisley, then treasurer of Scotland. This was done, it is said, while Sir 
John, with only a few of his own retainers, was accompanying the treasurer 
in friendly convoy towards Burntisland, on the " Clayness " sands. The 
unsuspecting victim was so roughly seized and handled that he was not 
allowed even once to look behind him. He was carried to the castle of 
1 Bannatyne's Memoriales, Baunatyne Club ed., p. 7-1. 


Edinburgh and confined there, without being formally charged with any 
crime, and without knowing of what he was accused. He was further, it is 
said, so straitly incarcerated that none of his friends or kin were allowed to 
see or speak with him, nor could they inform him that he was to be tried 
for his life, and he was thus deprived of all proper and legal means of 
defending himself. 

This, however, was not the worst part of his treatment. The narrative 
proceeds, under its third head, to show bow George Durie, commendator of 
Dunfermline, having conceived and rooted in his heart old rancour, deadly 
hatred and malice, against Sir John, because of a long before contracted feud, 
and other known causes, being his overlord, and in the hope of obtaining the 
prisoner's lands, but specially for the true religion, which Sir John always 
favoured, when he could attain his purpose by no other means, did so by 
craft. Perceiving the opportunity a fit one for gratifying his revenge, he 
very deceitfully came forward as a friend and adviser of the captive, and 
represented himself to Sir John and his friends as desirous to procure his 
release. He first, however, used his influence over the Governor Arran to 
procure that Sir John should be sharply accused upon the terms of the letter, 
having determined that Sir John should not escape, and that he would induce 
him to confess writing the document, which was the sole ground of the 
charges against him. 

To effect this result, Durie, we are told, went to the castle of Edinburgh 
to advise with Sir John, and, to make his visit more acceptable, he was 
accompanied by some of Sir John's friends, and also by the prisoner's wife, 
Helen Napier, who had hitherto been strictly refused all admission to her 
husband. At the first meeting with the captive, Durie spoke in so homely 
a manner that Sir John " believed him na less freindlie than he had bene 
his father," saying, as is reported, " Quhat do ye sa ewill lyk, man, or 
quhairupon pause ye ? I trow I wat quhat movis yow erest (soonest) 
for the vreting of ane scabbit bill. Lat be and study na mair thairone, it is 
bot ane triffill, and it can do yow na harm, nother anent your lyf nor lands, 
howbeit it war nevir sa trew. If ye will use my counsaill, I sail varrand 
yow upon my lyf and honour." Surprised by this friendly tone, and con- 
sidering that the speaker was one of the Privy Council, and had great influ- 


ence with the Eegent Arran, Melville asked his visitor what he should do. 
The reply was that as Sir John had been taken, the governor thought it 
necessary to make some show at least of accusing him, but there could be 
nothing laid to his charge save the letter, and if he confessed that and sub- 
mitted to the governor, Durie undertook that he would incur no danger. As 
an alternative to this, Durie pointed out the effects of rousing the governor's 
anger, and, without detailing the whole conversation, it is sufficient to state 
that he by various arguments urged Sir John to accept his advice. Durie 
further assured Sir John of his own friendly feeling towards him, and that 
he had come to get an answer from him as to what he meant to do when the 
letter was produced against him, the governor having promised that Sir John 
should "aill nathing" if he confessed and submitted, but he wished a reply 
ere he left. 

At this stage of the interview Durie retired for a time, saying that he 
would send certain friends, with whom Sir John might consult and advise in 
the matter. These were John Wemyss, laird of Wemyss, Bonar of Eossie, 
and Melville of Touch, all kinsmen of the prisoner, who said he would be 
glad to have their counsel, in which he expressed confidence. They were 
therefore admitted, Durie having told them of his proposal and recommended 
its adoption, to which, all unconscious of treachery, they strongly advised 
Melville. The latter was for a time very unwilling to accept this advice, 
asking for what purpose he should admit or confess the thing he did not do, 
but under the influence of his friends, the fear and terror of the misery he 
had endured, and the strictness of his confinement having driven him almost 
distracted, he at last consented to make confession, relying on the faith of 
his friends and the promises made to him. No sooner did Durie learn this 
than he hastened to the regent, and declared to him how Sir John was 
willing to confess, and submit himself to Arran's will in the matter. On 
hearing this, the governor was so moved with compassion that he could not 
order Sir John to be put to death, nor would he be so cruel to " ane old agit 
barroun of the realme," who was also a kinsman, even though the letter 
appeared somewhat treasonable. 

Thus foiled in his purpose, and fearing defeat, Durie, as a last resort, 
went to the queen dowager, Mary of Guise, and Tepresented to her that Sir 

VOL. I. K 


John was a traitor, that he was willing to confess his treason, and yet that 
the regent was not minded to punish him, but if this were not done those 
who favoured England would ruin the kingdom. Thus urged, the queen 
dowager took up the matter, and threatened to treat the governor as a 
partisan of the English if Sir John was not proceeded against with rigour. 1 
The governor yielded, and Sir John was arraigned before a jury, who, as 
already stated, gave a verdict against him. 

Such is the story, as told by his friends, of the proceedings which led to 
Sir John Melville's trial and execution. Even admitting that the facts stated 
are set forth in the pleadings in a partial manner, it is to be remembered that 
those friends who were the unconscious instruments of Sir John's fate were, 
in 1563, still alive, and able to add their testimony. At that date also, as 
will be more fully stated on a later page, George Dime, the prime mover in 
the tragedy, had left Scotland, and they were free to state what they knew 
of the matter. The details, so recited, confirm the general statement made 
by Knox as to the iniquitous dealing with Sir John Melville, but are not 
conclusive as to his actual guilt or innocence of the crime laid to his charge. 

The remainder of the pleadings contained in the royal summons throw no 
light on the point in question, as they state no new facts and do not cate- 
gorically deny the alleged authorship of the letter on which the charge 
was founded. We are told that many of the jurors were unfriendly to Sir 
John, and also that, confiding in the promises made by Durie, he attempted 
no defence, nor did he take the usual precautions to obtain, if possible, a fair 
trial. But these statements prove nothing, and the source from which an 
authoritative statement might have been expected is wholly silent on the 
main question. The Act of parliament which, in terms ,of the summons 
referred to, rehabilitated Sir John Melville and restored Eaith and other 
estates to his family, proceeds merely on the technical ground that the judges 
were incompetent to try the case, not having been specially commissioned 
to do so. All the arguments advanced by his friends are thus passed over, 
and while Durie's alleged treachery is not substantiated, Sir John himself is 

1 There are several copies of the summons deleted, and it is only stated that the governor 
in the Melville Charter-ohest, and in two of was gradually influenced to order Sir John to 
these the reference to the queen dowager is be tried. 


not formally exonerated — a course which may have been dictated by policy, 
but which is unfortunate for the historian. 

The sentence pronounced against Sir John Melville was followed on the 
same day by his execution, in the brutal manner then in vogue, and, on the 
following day, by the confiscation of all his lands and goods to the Crown. 
On 14th December 1548, James Adamson and Mr. David Eamsay received a 
royal grant of the escheat of the late Sir John Melville's moveable goods. A 
special clause provided that if the deceased had in his possession any silver 
work or gold work, or other goods belonging to the late Cardinal Beaton, 
Norman Leslie, sometime Master of Eothes, James Kirkcaldy, sometime laird 
of Grange, or any other person convicted or banished for holding or taking 
part with the holders of the castle of St. Andrews, then the governor is to 
pursue for such goods. 1 This clause may have been inserted pro forma, but 
if not, it shows how the government looked upon the relations which Sir 
John Melville held with the murderers of Cardinal Beaton. 

Besides the escheating of his moveable goods, Sir John Melville's landed 
estates were forfeited. They were divided in larger or smaller shares 
among various parties. Bobert Carnegie of Kinnaird, ancestor of the Earls 
of Southesk, received Murdocairnie, which was held of the Crown. 2 Pitscottie 
and Dura passed to Mr. William Scott, son of Sir William Scott of Balwearie, 
the superior ; while Bobert Carnegie and James Scott, brother of David Scott 
of Spencerfield, divided betwixt them the leases of the lands of Prinlaws. 3 
The largest portion of Sir John's estates, however, consisting of Baith, Pitcon- 
mark, and Torbain, was bestowed upon David Hamilton, third son of the 
Begent Arran. These lands were held of the abbey of Dunfermline, of which 
George Durie was commendator, and as superior he granted a charter accept- 
ing Hamilton as a new tenant presented to him by the Crown, in place of 
Sir John Melville. 4 

The fact that Baith was granted to the son of the governor may be claimed 
as an argument in support of the assertion that Sir John Melville's fate was 

1 Original letters of gift, dated 14th De- chest. 

eember 154S, in Melville Charter-chest. 4 Copy charter, dated ]4th April 1549, in 

2 Charter, dated 7th January 1549, Regis- Melville Charter-chest. Cf. P^egistrum de 
truni Magni Sigilli, vol. iv. No. 267. Dunfermelyn, p. 396, and vol. iii. of this 

3 Copy summons, 1563, in Melville Charter- work, p. 90. 


brought about by sinister motives on the part of the governor and his advisers, 
but all that is known on this point has already been stated. One charge, 
however, which has been made, and coupled with the name of Archbishop 
Hamilton, that Sir John Melville's wife and children were dispossessed of 
their home with all the circumstances of barbarity which malice could 
invent, 1 is disproved by existing documents. Instead of being immediately 
turned out of house and home, as this statement would imply, we find that 
Helen Napier, Sir John's widow, was still in Kaith more than six months after 
his death. Not only so, but she received from the regent, acting as tutor 
to his son, then a minor, permission for herself and her children, to occupy 
the house and lands of Eaith until the 1st November following, so that she 
might in the meantime gather her goods and grain together, only stipulating 
her removal at that date without injuring the property, and that she should 
allow wheat to be sown on the regent's behalf. 2 In fact, she remained in 
the lands or part of them as tenant and occupier, and that, according to 
her own evidence, by the tolerance of the regent. 3 Further, about the same 
time, David Hamilton, the new proprietor of Eaith, granted a new charter to 
Katherine Melville, daughter of Sir John, receiving her in due form as his 
tenant in the lands of Shawsmill, formerly held by her from her father, and 
treating her in all respects like any other vassal. Archbishop Hamilton was pre- 
sent when this writ was signed by the granter and his father. 4 These facts, and 
also the sending of Sir John Melville's third surviving son, James, to France, 
under the patronage of the queen-dowager, about a year after his father's death, 
seem to show that no undue severity was practised towards Sir John's family. 
It may be noted that on the day after Sir John's trial, his friends, Cock- 
burn of Ormiston and Crichton of Brunstane, who had both escaped, were 
forfeited for the same offence of treason, and summonses were issued against 
Henry Balnaves and others. They were active adherents of the reformed 
faith, but as many others who are known to have been such were also con- 
victed on political grounds, it is probable that the government, in the case of 
Sir John Melville and his friends, gave expression rather to bitter feelings 
against England than to religious persecution. 

1 Crawfurrt's Peerage, p. 325. 3 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 93, 94. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 2, 3. 4 1st July 1549, ibid. pp. 90, 91. 


The fate of Sir John Melville was made the subject of an epigram by 
John Johnston, a poet who wrote about half a century later, and who thus 
celebrated the laird of Eaith among other Scottish heroes. It proceeds on 
the assumption of his innocence. 

Johannes Malvillus, Eethitjs, 

Nobilis Fifanus, Jacobo V. Eegi, olini familiarissirnus summa vitas innocentia, 
ob pur* relligionis studium in suspicione falsi criminis iniquissimo judicio 
sublatus est, anno Christi, 1548. 

Quidnam ego commerui 1 Quae tanta injuria facti 1 

Hostis ut in nostrum sseviat ense caput 1 
Idem hostis, judexque simul. Pro crimine, Christi 

Eelligio et foedo crimine pura manus. 
secla ! mores ! scelerum sic tollere poenas 

Ut virtus sceleri debita damna luat. 1 

Sir John Melville was twice married. His first wife, who has hitherto 
been overlooked by genealogists, was, as already stated, a daughter of Sir 
John Wemyss of that ilk. They were married about July 1503. Nothing 
further has been discovered regarding Sir John Melville's first wife, but that 
she had issue. 

Sir John Melville's second wife was Helen Napier, who is said to have 
been the daughter of Sir Alexander Napier of Merchiston. 2 When they were 
married has not been ascertained, but probably about the year 1525. She 
survived her husband for several years. As already stated she received a 
letter from the Eegent Arran, permitting her and her children to remain at 
Eaith for some months after Sir John's death. At a later date she was still 
occupant of the lands, as appears from a statement on her behalf in an appeal 
against an ecclesiastical censure which bad been pronounced against her. 

This arose out of a demand which was made upon her for payment of the 
twelve merks of annual rent formerly referred to as bestowed by Sir John 

1 " Heroes ex omni Historia Scotica Leetis- dura of the family, dated 1575, she is said to 
simi," by John Johnston, 1603, pp. 2S, 29 ; be niece of the laird of Merchiston, and her 
cf. Pitcairn, i. 341*. mother a daughter of the laird of Craigmillar. 

2 So the genealogists ; but in a memoran- Neither statement has been verified. 


Melville in 1506 on behalf of the deceased Thomas Moultray of Markinch, 
and which was claimed for the year 1549 by a chaplain of the parish church 
of Kinghorn. In support of his demand he procured letters of excommunica- 
tion, against which Lady Melville appealed on the following grounds : First, 
that she as occupier and cultivator of the lands over which the sum was 
secured should not be required to pay it, because before Whitsunday 1549 
the lands had fallen into the hands of the Eegent Arran and the abbot of 
Dunfermline, as superiors, in consequence of the death of her husband, and 
the subsequent confiscation of his lands and goods. Second, that though the 
annual rent, if granted by the lairds of Eaith, was still leviable from the lands, 
these had reverted to the superiors as if they had never been granted, and 
therefore unless the annual rent had been mortified in perpetuity, it was no 
longer exigible. Thirdly, the appellant states, that although she cultivates 
and labours the lands in question or part of them, she does so by the toler- 
ance and forbearance of the regent and other superiors, wherefore she alleges 
she should the less be called upon to pay the annual rent ; and she further 
concludes with announcing an appeal to the Holy See, requesting the 
usual letters to enable her to do so. These were afterwards granted by the 
Official of St. Andrews, but the sequel is not recorded. 1 

Helen Napier, Lady Melville, with her eldest son, John, and her second 
son, Eobert Melville, succeeded in 1563, in obtaining from parliament a 
reversal of her husband's forfeiture, which has been already referred to. In 
1569 she purchased from David Hamilton, son of the former regent, now 
Duke of Chatelherault, and received a charter to herself and her son John, 
of the lands of the abthanery of Kinghorn Easter, now Abden, upon which 
infeftment followed in due form. 2 She was still in possession of these lands 
in May 1584. 

Sir John Melville by his two wives had a numerous family. According 
to a genealogical memorandum preserved in the family, dated about 1690, he 
had by his first wife sons and daughters, but the sons deceased ; while by his 
second wife, Helen Napier, he had nine sons and two daughters. Seven of 
these sons and three daughters are named below, but the others are said to 

1 Appeal, 30th March 1550, vol. iii. of this 2 Charter, dated 1569, and Sasine, 2Sth 

work, pp. 92-95. August 1570, both in Melville Charter-chest. 


have died young. This memorandum has been followed in preference to 
other notices of the family, as to the ages and successions of the sons, it 
being more in accordance with the ascertained facts. 

1. William Melville, who predeceased his father. His place in the family 

pedigree has been mistaken by genealogists, probably because so little is 
known of him. He was apparently the son of Sir John by his first wife 
Margaret Wemyss. In 1541, Robert Douglas of Lochleven made overtures 
for the marriage of William Melville to his sister, Margaret Douglas. Sir 
John Melville, however, hesitated to complete the transaction without the 
consent of King James the Fifth, but this was accorded and the marriage 
was solemnised. 1 Sir John Melville made a settlement on his son and his 
wife, at Lochleven in July 1544, of part of the lands of Pitconmark, 2 but 
William Melville did not long survive his marriage, dying apparently about 
1547, the last recorded reference to him being on 5th March of that year, 
when he was a member of an assize in an action of apprising. 3 He left 
no surviving issue, as his father's estates, when restored, passed to his next 
brother. His widow, Margaret Douglas, was still alive in May 1584. 

2. John Melville, eldest son of Sir John Melville and Helen Napier, who succeeded 

to the family estates. A memoir of him is given on a later page. 

3. Robert Melville, second son of the second marriage, born apparently in 1534. 

He is well known as Sir Robert Melville of Murdocairnie, and was created 
first Lord Melville in 1616. A memoir of him will be found on a later 

4. Sir James Melville of Hallhill. A memoir of him also will be found on a later 


5. David Melville, designed "of Newmill." His name first occurs as a witness 

to contracts between his brothers, John and Robert, in 1561 and 1563. 4 
He became a partisan of Queen Mary in the struggles between " king's men " 
and " queen's men," which took place after the queen's flight to England. 
He joined Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange in the castle of Edinburgh in 
1570, and next year, along with his brothers, Robert and Andrew, was 
forfeited by parliament. He held the rank of captain in the queen's forces, 
being appointed on 5th June 1571, and took part in various engagements, 

1 3d April 1541, vol. ii. of this work, p. 2. parently predeceased his brother-in-law, who 

2 Registrum de Dunfermelyn, p. 562. died about 1548. 

3 Acta Donvinorum Concilii et Sessionis, 4 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 102, 109 ; 
vol. xxii. f. 152, 5th March 1546-7. He ap- Registrum Magui Sigilli, vol. iv. No. 1507. 


but he does not appear to have joined in the last defence of the castle of 
Edinburgh in 1573. 1 A pacification was concluded at Perth in February 
1572-3, between the Regent Morton and the Hamiltons, and to the benefit of 
this David Melville was admitted in 1579. 2 Other references to him chiefly 
relate to his lands. Among other possessions he held the small estate of 
Prinlaws, in the parish of Leslie, Fifeshire, from the commendator of the 
priory of Inchcolm, but his right was disputed by David Eeid of Aikenhead, 
who claimed under a charter from Robert Carnegie of Kinnaird. Melville 
summoned Reid before the lords of session, and obtained a reduction of 
Reid's infeftment, and also a decree of removing. Reid, however, renewed 
the action by pleading a confirmation from the pope in favour of Carnegie, 
to which Melville objected that this confirmation was forged. The matter 
was referred to the privy council, and a commission was appointed to 
examine the validity of the alleged confirmation, but the result is not 
recorded. 3 David Melville acquired the lands of Newmill, from which he 
was designated some time prior to 1584, as in October of that year he wit- 
nessed the contract of marriage between his nephew, Robert Melville 
younger of Murdocairnie, and Margaret Ker of Ferniehirst, and is there 
described as David Melville of Newmill. 4 He died in October 1594, leav- 
ing a widow, named Margaret Douglas. He appointed, by his will, dated 
7th October in that year, his brother, Sir James Melville, to be tutor 
"to his bairne, gif God send onie." This expectation was apparently 
not fulfilled, as in the following January his next elder brother, Sir James 
Melville of Hallhill, was ' retoured heir to him, by reason of conquest, in the 
lands of Prinlaws, while in March 1596 his oldest brother, John Melville 
of Raith, was retoured heir of tailzie and provision to him in the grain-mill 
and mill-lands of Dairsie, with the gardens of the chapel of St. Leonard, 
near Dairsie. 5 
6. Walter Melville, who is named along with his brother David as a witness in 
1561 and 1563. 6 Sir James Melville of Hallhill, in his memoirs, refers to 
his brother as " one of the gentlemen of the Earl of Murray's chamber," and 
on one occasion he appears as a witness to a charter by that earl to his 

1 Diurnal of Occurrents, p. 218 ; cf. pp. 4 Contract, 24th and 28th October 1584, 
238, 257. in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 5 gpecial retours fm , ^ Nqs _ ^^ 
vol. m. p. 186. 1523 15th Jauuary 15 94. 5 anc i 4tll March 

3 4th January 1586-7, and 27th February 159g _ 6 
1589-90. Register of Privy Council, vol. iv. 

pp. 133, 460, 461. ° Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 102, 109. 


servitor, John Wood of Tilliedavie, in 1565. 1 He continued in Murray's 
service when regent, and apparently was at the battle of Langside. It is 
said he declined in the regent's favour because he gave advice and reproof 
more freely than was palatable. 2 He appears to have died young. 

7. Sir Andrew Melville of Garvock, of whom also a memoir will be found on a 

later page. 

8. William Melville, commendator of Tongland, of whom likewise a separate 

memoir is given on a later page. 
The daughters of Sir John Melville of Eaith were : — 

1. Janet (daughter of Margaret Wemyss), who married James Kirkcaldy of 

Grange, treasurer of Scotland. When he was prisoner in France after the 
taking of St. Andrews castle, she appears to have been warded with her 
children, but was released by her father's influence, and was dependent on 
him for support. 3 She survived her husband, dying in February 1560. He 
died between 24th May 1556, and 1560.* They had issue Sir William Kirk- 
caldy of Grange, the famous partisan of Queen Mary, with other children. 

2. Catherine, who married Brown, and was provided by her father in the 

lands of Shawsmill. After his death, she received a charter of the lands 
from David Hamilton, son of the Regent Arran. She died in May 1558, 
and was succeeded in Shawsmill by her son, John Brown. 5 

3. Janet, probably a daughter of the second marriage, who married James John- 

stone of Elphinstone. They had issue two sons, James and Robert John- 
stone. 6 She died in September 1603. 

Besides the sons and daughters enumerated, Sir John Melville had a natural 
son, John Melville, who has been referred to as one of the conspirators against 
Cardinal Beaton, and whose correspondence with his father led to the latter's 
execution. Nothing further has been ascertained regarding this John Melville. 

1 17th January 1564-5, Registrum Magni Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., vol. iii. p 255. 
Sigilli, vol. iv. No. 1596. 5 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 90, 9S. 

2 Memoirs of Sir James Melville, p. 260. ° Registrum Magni Sigilli, vol. iv. Nos. 

3 Cf. vol. iii. of this work, p. S9. 1665, 2533 ; cf. Memoirs of Sir James Mel- 

4 Ibid. p. 97 ; The Douglas Book, by ville, Bannatyne Club, p. 155. 


VOL. I. 


Sir Eobert Melville of Murdochcairnie, Knight, First Lord Melville 
of Monimail, Born c. 1527; died 1621. 

Katherine Adamson, his first Wife. 
Lady Mary Leslie, his second Wife. 
Lady Jean Stewart, his third Wife. 

Sir Eobert Melville, the second son of Sir John Melville of Raith and Helen 
Napier, was one of the most active statesmen of his time, though he is less popu- 
larly known than his younger brother, Sir James Melville, who was perhaps more 
of a courtier than a statesman. He was probably born about the year 1527, and 
would just reach his majority when his father's fate and forfeiture overshadowed 
the fortunes of the family. These, however, seem to have brightened when 
the queen-dowager, Mary of Guise, assumed the regency, as in 1555 Robert 
Melville, "servand to the quenis grace," appears in receipt, first of a sum of £50 
Scots paid by her special command, and later, of a pension of £150 Scots yearly, 
though what post he held at court is not clear. 1 By some writers he is said to have 
gone to France and to have become a favourite of King Henry the Second, return- 
ing to Scotland in 1562 ; but Robert Melville, if he visited France at all, had 
certainly returned thence before October 1559. 2 In that month he received from 
King Francis the Second and Mary Queen of Scots a grant of annual-rents over the 
lands of Hilton of Rosyth, which had belonged to his father. In the charter he is 
described as the beloved servitor of their majesties, but this may be because he 
was in the service of the queen-regent. 3 In 1560 he entered into various trans- 
actions with his brother John, which will be referred to in the memoir of the 
latter. After the forfeiture of their father was recalled, Robert, in 1564, received 
from his elder brother a charter of the lands of Murdochcairnie in Fife, which, 
however, he appears to have held before that date. 4 

In the end of 1559, Robert Melville first appears in a political capacity, as a 
subordinate agent in the mission of AVilliam Maitland of Lethington to England 
on behalf of the Protestant lords of the congregation in Scotland. According to 
the charter of 1559 above referred to, he was still in the service of the queen 

1 Treasurer's Accounts, May and Septem- 3 10th October 1559, vol. iii. of this work, 
ber 1555 ; Laing's Knox, vol. ii. p. 361, note. p. 99. 

2 King Henry the Second of France died 4 Ibid. pp. 100-102 ; Uegistrum Magni 
on 10th July 1559, and Melville may then Sigilli, 1546-1580, No. 1507. 14th Febru- 
have returned to his native country. ary 1563-4. 


or queen-regent on 10th October of that year. In the end of that month 
Maitland, who had been secretary of state, left the service of the queen-regent 
and openly joined the lords of the congregation, to whom it is said he had been 
for a long time secretly favourable and helpful, and possibly Eobert Melville 
followed his example. The time of their accession to the Protestant party was a 
very critical period in the history of the Eeformation in Scotland. Some months 
previously the strained relations between the queen-regent and her French allies 
on the one hand, and the leaders of the Protestant party on the other, had 
resulted in open war, and at this period the Protestants, to their dismay, found 
themselves losing ground, unless they received aid from England. The arrival in 
the Protestant camp of Secretary Maitland and Robert Melville was therefore 
gladly welcomed, and they were at once employed in the important business of 
negotiations with England. 

At this stage of his career, however, Melville acted more as the messenger 
between parties than as a principal agent. He returned to Scotland before Leth- 
ington as the bearer of the articles which were afterwards formulated into the 
treaty of Berwick on 27th February 1560. 1 In October of the same year he again 
acted as a messenger in connection with the embassy of the Earls of Glencairn and 
Morton with Secretary Lethington to England, to propose a marriage between 
Queen Elizabeth and the Earl of Arran. 2 It seems not improbable that Melville 
at this date was an assistant or special agent of the secretary. Knox, writing 
in his history under date 1562, says of the proposals about the queen's marriage, 
that a union with Darnley began to be talked of, and that " it was said that 
Lethingtoun spack the Lady Margarete Dowglass [Darnley 's mother], and that 
Robert Melven receaved ane horse to the secreatares use fra the Erie of Levenox 
or from his wy ff." 3 

When, however, Robert Melville next appears in the history of the time, it is 
on the opposite side to that which the secretary favoured. The vexed question 
of Queen Mary's marriage had been settled by her union with Darnley, which 
the secretary supported. But the Duke of Chatelherault, the Earls of Murray, 
Glencairn, and others, including Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, Melville's 
nephew, determined to oppose the marriage, and Melville joined their party. As 
is well known, Murray and his supporters, on taking up arms in a hasty manner, 
found an unexpected force arrayed against them, and were compelled to flee from 
one place to another. They took refuge for a time at Dumfries, near the English 
border, and thence, on 10th September 1565, they despatched Robert Melville 

1 Calderwood's History, vol. i. p. 561. 2 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. p. 164. 

3 Laing's Knox, vol. ii. p. 361. 


to the English court with an earnest appeal to Elizabeth and her minister, Cecil, 
to aid them with men and money. Melville's mission was recommended by the 
Earl of Bedford, Elizabeth's lieutenant on the borders, who had been ordered to 
help the rebels. But on the real weakness of their party being discovered Murray 
was told that neither men nor money would be given. Another urgent appeal, 
however, was addressed through Melville, who had reached the English court, and 
he returned about the 9 th October with the reply that the English queen deplored 
the situation of the rebel lords, but intended treating with the Queen of Scots, 
and would help them if mediation failed. 1 

This answer was equivalent to the abandonment of their cause, and Mui'ray, 
with others, took refuge in England, the Earl of Bedford being instructed to 
give assistance to those who crossed the border. Robert Melville probably also 
remained in England for a time, as his personal estate was declared to be for- 
feited. But his brother, Sir James, who remained in favour with Queen Mary, 
received the grant of his escheat, so that it was not lost to the family. 2 In 
December 1565, however, Melville was again in the Scottish court, he and the 
abbot of Kilwinning negotiating for the rebel lords. The abbot rejsresented 
the Duke of Chatelherault, while Melville sued on behalf of Murray ; but both 
were unsuccessful in their mission, as the queen refused to pardon them. Sir 
James Melville and Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, one of her English friends, also 
besought her to be reconciled to Murray, but in vain. It is said that she would 
have yielded, but that Darnley's influence was then adverse. Murray refers to 
the matter in a letter to Cecil from Newcastle : " What Robert Melvil hath done 
in my action I cannot tell further than this, that, so far as ever I have understood, 
it standeth worse and worse," adding in a postscript, " Even now, I have received 
word from Mr. Melvil, that his suit for my poor servants, that they might resort 
in that country for their feeble affairs, has received a plain refusal ; whereof your 
honour may conjecture what I myself may look for." 

But though Robert Melville thus failed in his mission on behalf of Murray 
his own affairs began to prosper. Owing probably to the influence of his brother 
with the queen, and also perhaps to his own former services, Melville was re- 
ceived again into favour, and immediately despatched on a mission to England. 
It would appear also that Lethington stood his friend, although the secretary's 
influence was waning while Riccio was gaining ground at court. Be that as it 
may, Queen Mary wrote to Queen Elizabeth, and also to Cecil, explaining that 

1 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. pp. 219-222; vol. ii. pp. 827-829. 

2 Grant to Sir James, 10th November 1565. Register of Privy Seal, vol. xxxiii. f. 125. 

3 Original Letter, 15tli January 1565-6 ; Keith's History, App. p. 166. 


she had pardoned Melville, and now sent him as her resident ambassador at the 
court of England. 1 

At first his embassy did not wholly prosper. He had scarcely reached Lon- 
don before he received from Queen Mary a letter detailing the conduct of Thomas 
Randolph, the English resident in Scotland, who had assisted Murray's faction in 
their rebellion by the payment of 3000 crowns to Lady Murray. This charge 
was proved true by the testimony of the man who had carried the money and 
received Lady Murray's acknowledgment. As the queen considered that this 
conduct was utterly opposed to the office of an ambassador, she had resolved 
to dismiss Randolph from court, and Melville is to explain her reasons for so 
doing both to Queen Elizabeth and to the Earl of Leicester. 2 The facts were 
stated to Queen Elizabeth, who took offence at the treatment of her ambassador, 
and sent back Melville to the Scottish court, where he arrived toward the end of 
March 1566. 

During his stay in England events had developed rapidly, and he arrived 
in Scotland to find Riccio dead, and Murray and his companions again in Scot- 
land, though not received at court. These main events are so well known to 
readers of history that they need not be here enlarged upon. But it may be 
noted that it is probably owing to Robert Melville that we owe the preser- 
vation in the Melville charter-chest of the original bond or covenant between 
the Earl of Murray and those with him in Newcastle, and King Henry Darnley, 
it being agreed on his part that they should return to Scotland, while they 
pledged themselves to obey him, to secure for him the " crown matrimonial " 
or right of succession to the throne, and to support him against his enemies, 
even to slaying them. There is no doubt that Riccio's death is pointed at by 
the clauses of this bond. We are plainly so told by Lord Ruthven in his 
narrative of the tragedy, and were other evidence wanting it would be found 
in the contemporary indorsation of the document, which runs, " Ane band maid 
be my lord of Murray and certane wthir noble men with him befoir the 
slauchtir of Davie." 3 After the murder, and in terms of the agreement, Murray 
with his friends arrived in Edinburgh, and was favourably received by the 
queen, but apparently by the time Melville returned to Scotland Murray had by 
her Majesty's desire retired to Argyllshire.* 

1 Keith's History, p. 325; App. p. 119; printed in the Maitland Miscellany, but with- 
Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. p. 228. out the indorsations. It is also known from 

2 Letter, dated 17th February 1565-6, vol. Keith's History, App. p. 120, where, however, 
ii. of this work, pp. 3-5. it is given in an abridged form. 

3 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 110-112. This 

document, with the signatures, has also been 4 Laing's Knox, vol. ii. p. 527. 


In the beginning of April 1566, Melville wrote to Queen Elizabeth and also 
to Cecil, giving particulars of the state of affairs in Scotland and indicating that 
a reconciliation between Murray, Bothwell, and Huntly had taken place by the 
queen's agency. Shortly afterwards, in May 1566, we find Melville again on his 
way to England as Scottish ambassador. His character as such was not at first 
recognised on the border, as on 23d May lie wrote to the English queen 
and her minister complaining of being detained at Berwick while on his way 
to treat of matters acceptable to the English court. 1 His mission on this 
occasion seems to have had important consequences, one of the first of these 
being an order banishing from England, where they had taken refuge, the Earl 
of Morton and others concerned in Biccio's murder. 

Another matter which engaged Melville's attention was a charge made by 
Elizabeth and Cecil against the Scottish queen for harbouring, as they alleged, and 
having dealings with Christopher Eokeby, a rebel and a papist. Henry Killigrew 
was sent to Scotland to negotiate, but ere he reached that country James Melville 
joined his brother in England with the news of the birth of her son, afterwards 
King James the Sixth. 2 The main incidents of James Melville's visit to London 
at this time will be told in his memoir, but he also informs us of his brother 
Robert's diplomacy in regard to the affair of Eokeby, who went to Scotland 
pretending to be a refugee on account of religion. This, however, was a 
mere subterfuge, by which, it is said, he imposed on John Lesley, bishop of 
Ross. Eobert Melville, however, by his credit in England discovered that 
Eokeby was really a spy of Cecil's to find out, if possible, Mary's dealings with 
English subjects as to her title to the English crown. 3 He was thus enabled 
to give such advice to his sovereign as to her treatment of Eokeby and her 
conduct towards the English court and ambassador that she escaped the plot 
laid for her. 

James Melville gives us an outline of his brother's advice to Queen Mary, 
which he himself seems to have conveyed. His own situation at the English 
court was precarious owing to Bokeby's intelligence to Cecil, so he advised a 

1 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. pp. 232, 234. quiet, and yet pricks for his mistress title as 

2 A conversation with Sir James Melville heir-apparent, to which he says her Majesty 
at this time, told in a letter by Thomas Bishop, is more inclined than to any other title, so 
a well-known English emissary, gives the that his mistress please her Highness and 
latter's opinion of Robert Melville as "being follow her opinion." [State Papers, Domestic, 
of good religion, and a quiet gentlemau who Addenda 1566-1579, pp. 12, 13.] 

would make the best between the Princes. 

... In my opinion he is an honest gentle- 3 Keith's History, pp. 337-343 ; Thorpe's 

man, and seems as if he would have all things Calendar, vol. i. p. 236. 


hint to Killigrew as if he were soon to be recalled. Killigrew was to be well 
treated, while Eokeby was to be detained, and no notice in the meantime was to 
be taken of the conduct of the Earl of Northumberland or his brother, who had 
betrayed Queen Mary. Her Majesty was to write two letters to Melville, one to 
be shown to Elizabeth and the other to Cecil. Above all, the queen was to be 
careful and circumspect in her dealings, " seeing the great mark which her 
majesty shoots at." The advice was followed, and when Killigrew, in terms of 
his instructions, complained against Eokeby, the latter was at once arrested, 
apparently to the consternation of the ambassador, who at once wrote to Cecil 
announcing the fact, and expressing the fear that Cecil's letter would be found 
among the spy's papers. According to Sir James Melville, Eokeby's first apparent 
success at the Scottish court was owing to the bishop of Eoss and the Earl of 
Bothwell, who did not desire Queen Mary's affairs to prosper under Eobert 
Melville's management, because he was not of their faction. 

Another matter of which Elizabeth complained was alleged negotiations 
between the Scottish queen and the Irish chieftain O'Neil, but the full force 
of this charge was obviated by Melville's advice that the Earl of Argyll 
should receive O'Neil or his ambassador as if he were a personal friend, and 
the queen should appear to know nothing of it. As a result of this diplomacy, 
Mary was able to write to Melville as he requested. She begins her letter by 
acknowledging the good news given by his brother James of Queen Elizabeth's 
friendship and promises. She then states that Mr. Killigrew would be able to 
satisfy his mistress as to O'Neil and Eokeby. As to her succession to the 
English throne, she professes to leave that to Queen Elizabeth's own will, and 
concludes with promises of the utmost amity and goodwill. 1 

Soon after this, Eobert Melville returned or was recalled to Scotland, where 
he remained till October 1566, when he was again in London. Thence he wrote 
to Archbishop Beaton, Queen Mary's ambassador in France, telling of her visit to 
Jedburgh, and the accident to Bothwell. In his letter, Melville refers to the 
queen's displeasure with her husband, and the professed intention of Darnley to 
quit Scotland, in terms which almost suggest that ere the writer left Edin- 
burgh he had been present at the remarkable scene which took place in the 
palace of Holyrood between the king and queen and the lords of privy council, 
as narrated by Secretary Lethington to the queen-mother of France. 2 But while 
Melville's letter was being written, Mary was lying sick at Jedburgh of the fever, 
brought on directly by her ride from Jedburgh to Hermitage, and indirectly by 

1 Letter 1 1th July 1 566, vol. ii. of this work, pp. 5, 6 ; Keith's History, pp. 342, 343. 

2 Keith's History, pp. 345-350. 


mental anxiety about her husband, and other matters. After her Majesty's 
convalescence, she left Jedburgh about the 9th November, and passing by 
Kelso and paying a visit to Berwick, she arrived at Dunbar. There, about the 
18th of that month, she received important despatches from Eobert Melville, 
as to the offers to be made by Queen Elizabeth through the Earl of Bed- 
ford, who was appointed to be present at the baptism of the young prince of 

These related to Mary's claim to the succession in England ; and while the 
papers bearing on the subject need not be detailed here, it may be stated that it 
is evident, from the frequent mention of Robert Melville's name, that his concern 
in the negotiations had been considerable, and that he was trusted by both parties. 
He does not appear to have come to Scotland for the baptism of the young 
prince. Keith expresses the opinion that he came to Scotland in January 1566, 
and again returned to England in February of that year. The evidence is 
doubtful; but he appears to have been in England during February, and pro- 
bably at the date of Darnley's murder. 1 

In the following May, however, he was residing at his own house of Mur- 
dochcairnie, in Fife, whence he wrote to Cecil a private letter as to the state of 
affairs in Scotland. It is probable that on account of the proceedings following on 
the murder of Darnley, the mock-trial and acquittal of Bothwell, and the ascend- 
ancy he had gained over the queen, Melville thought it prudent to withdraw from 
court. He and Bothwell had never been very friendly; and though Melville was 
much attached to his sovereign he now held aloof, or he may have joined the con- 
federacy against her and Bothwell, probably in the hope he might thus do her 
greater service. In his letter to Cecil, Melville tries to excuse his mistress, 
ascribing her unaccountable conduct wholly to the influence of Bothwell. He 
intimates that the confederate lords, who were now at Stirling, meant to ask 
assistance from Elizabeth, because the murdered king was her relative, and he 
believes " easy help shall obtain the queen's liberty, and in like manner have the 
murderers of the king punished. Thus far," he adds, " I will make your honour 
privy of, that France has offered to enter in band with the nobility of the realm, 
and to enlist the company of men at arms, and to give divers pensions to noble- 
men and gentlemen of their realm, which some did like well ; but the honest sort 
has concluded and brought the rest to the same effect, that they will do nothing 
which may offend your sovereign without the fault be in her Majesty ; and it 
appears both Papist and Protestant join together with an earnest affection for the 
weal of their country." Melville concludes by stating that all believed the mar- 

1 Keith's History, p. 369 ; Calendar of State Papers, vol. i. p. 243. 


riage would soon take place, and by again representing Mary's conduct as the 
result of evil advice. 1 

The marriage of Mary and Bothwell took place on 15th May, eight days after 
the above letter was written. It is said that on the night before the ceremony Mary 
gave her consent to a bond, a copy of which is in the Melville charter-chest, 
subscribed by Huntly, Argyll, Morton, and several other noblemen, with a number 
of prelates, promising to support the queen if she married Bothwell. This was 
the famous bond described by Buchanan as signed at " Ainslie's supper," or a 
supper at Ainslie's tavern, on the evening of the 19th April 1567. That is the 
date of a copy which is preserved in the Cottonian Collection, and which has 
appended on a separate paper a list of alleged subscribers, including the Earl of 
Murray. Keith, however, in his history impugns the accuracy both of the date 
and of the signatures of the copy in question, and supports his contention by 
quoting a copy then in the archives of the Scots College in Paris, certified by 
Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech as authentic, which bears a different set of 
names, and is dated on the 20th April, which was a Sunday. This attested copy 
referred to by Keith is corroborated by the copy in the Melville charter-chest, 
probably at one time in Robert Melville's own possession, and which agrees with 
that formerly in the Scots College in date and signatures. This is an important 
fact, as it seems to disprove Buchanan's story about the bond being signed after 
a convivial meeting on the evening of 19th April. The list of subscribers in the 
Cottonian copy is certainly erroneous, as it includes Murray, who was then out of 
Scotland. But if the bond was signed on the 20th April, it must have been done 
deliberately, and reflects more strongly on those who signed it, a deed which they 
repented almost immediately afterwards. 2 It may be added that the queen, in 
letters which she wrote to France and England excusing her marriage, treats the 

i Letter, Ttli May 1567 ; quoted by Tyt- Ogilvy, W. Ruthven, Flemyng, Serupill." 

ler, History, 3d ed.,vol. v. pp. 406,407 ; Calen- These are the noblemen who are supposed to 

dar of State Papers (Foreign), at date. have signed it first, and Buchanan says the 

bishops signed it later. Their names on the 

2 Keith's History, pp. 380-383. The copy copy are, " Sanctandrois, William bishop of 

of the bond in the Melville Charter-chest Abirdene, Alexr. Episcopus Candidas Casse, 

is contemporary, and is indorsed, "Ane William bischop of Dunblane, Alexr. Epus. 

band mayd concernyng the erle bothwell," Brechinensis, Joannes Epus. Rossen, Joline 

" Ane copie of the Band subscryvit with the bischop of th' yllis, Ad. Orcaden." It is 

noblemen for taking part with the Erie Both- possible that the original bond was signed 

well." It bears to be signed by " George erll by all together on the 20th, and that the 

of Huntlie, Argyll, Mortoun,Cassillis, Suther- tavern supper was afterwards put forward as 

land, Erroll, Craufurd, Caithnes, Rothes ; an excuse for those who were ashamed of 

R. Boyd, Herys, Johne 1. glammis, James 1. their share in the bond. 

VOL. I. M 


document as a writing signed by the Estates in Parliament, but this is probably 
a diplomatic statement, intended to palliate her own weakness. 

Melville was recalled from his retirement to be the bearer of the queen's 
letter to the court of Elizabeth. Three days after his letter to Cecil already 
quoted, he wrote in similar terms to Sir Nicholas Throckmorton. He was then 
still in Fife, but on the 17th May, two days after the queen's marriage, we find 
him in Edinburgh, 1 and in the beginning of June he was on his way south, with 
his instructions. These set forth chiefly the political necessities which, according 
to the writer, brought about the marriage. Mary also excuses her haste and not 
asking Elizabeth's advice, and she begs the latter to extend her friendship to her 
new husband. Such were Melville's public credentials, but he appears to have 
received others, similar in character, but more confidential. Bothwell also wrote 
to Elizabeth and Cecil by the same messenger. 2 

A recent historian, commenting on Mary's despatch to Elizabeth, remarks that 
her choice of an envoy was unfortunate, " Robert Melvil, the secret but determined 
enemy of Bothwell, and one of the principal associates in the confederacy against 
him and herself." The writer further asserts that Melville availed himself of the 
confidence with which he was treated to reveal Mary's purposes to his con- 
federates, and in the execution of his mission acted for both parties. Besides 
Mary's despatch to Elizabeth, it is said that Melville carried letters from the lords 
of the coalition, and that Morton described him to Elizabeth as their trusty friend. 3 
This serious charge against Melville is, however, founded on very slender evidence. 
It is true that Melville was opposed to Bothwell politically, and it is probable he 
sympathised strongly with the cause of the confederates, but there seems no 
reason to accuse him of treachery to the queen. His letter to Cecil, upon which 
part of the charge is apparently founded, is that of a news-writer more 
than of a partisan, and at its date the marriage had not taken place and 
might yet be prevented. The other accusation, that he betrayed Mary, is 
supported by no evidence, while the statement that he was recommended to 
Cecil by the confederate lords is somewhat doubtful, as at the dates quoted 
by Tytler, Melville was on his way home, and the reference to him by Morton 
appears to relate to his letter to Cecil. 4 The English secretary does indeed 
write to the English ambassador in France of a packet of letters left by Mr. 
Melville, "who lately came hither from the Queen of Scotts," and which Cecil 

1 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. p. 246 ; vol. ii. 3 Tytler, History of Scotland, 3d ed. vol. v. 
p. 840. pp. 417, 418. 

2 Letters, dated 1st June 1567, Calendar 

of State Papers, Foreign, at date. 4 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. pp. 248, 249. 


forwarded to the Earl of Murray, then in France. The earl's presence, he writes, 
was earnestly desired both in Scotland and in England. 1 If this were so, and 
Melville was the bearer of the packet, he, no doubt, believed he was furthering 
the welfare of his country, but in so doing he did not neglect the queen's 
service, and, as later events show, he was one of her most faithful adherents 
during her troubles. 

A letter of the same date as Cecil's, written to Melville himself by one of his 
agents, does indeed charge him with having " done ill to declare himself so openly 
in the lords' affairs, for somewhat has come to the knowledge of the French 
ambassador," but it is not very clear what is referred to, as Melville had already 
left London, and reached Berwick two days after the letter was written. 2 He 
arrived in Edinburgh on the 29th of June, and found the confederate lords 
in full power, while the queen was a prisoner in Lochleven. He brought a 
message to her from Elizabeth condemning her marriage, but promising, since 
her nobility had separated from her, to do everything proper for her honour and 
safety. 3 He also, however, bore a message to the confederate lords, which 
encouraged them, but their immediate want was money, for which Melville wrote 
to Cecil at once, on his return, after communicating with Maitland of Lethington. 4 

Two days after his return Melville had an interview with the captive queen, 
when he delivered his message from Queen Elizabeth, but was not allowed to see 
Mary alone. After this meeting he retired to his own residence in Fife, but a 
week later he again saw the prisoner, this time alone ; and according to his own 
account, endeavoured to persuade her to give up Bothwell, but without success. 
On 17th July he made another attempt, and delivered a letter from Sir Nicholas 
Throckmorton also advising her to renounce Bothwell, but Mary again refused to 
desert her husband. She even requested Melville to procure the delivery of a letter 
to Bothwell, which he declined to do, and she threw the document into the fire. 

Melville also had frequent interviews with Throckmorton, the English ambas- 
sador, who was not permitted to have access to the Scottish queen, but who 
contrived to send messages to her by Melville. In one of their conferences, Mel- 
ville reminded the ambassador that Queen Elizabeth had promised, in presence 
of her council, that Throckmorton should have commission to aid the lords 
with money, and to further their proceedings against the murderers of Darnley. 
Melville thought that a sum of money would secure the attachment of the 
confederates to the English interest, and make them more willing to listen to 

i Letter, 26th June 1567 ; quoted by 3 Ibid. 

Keith, p. 442, note. * Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. p. 251. July 

2 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. p. 249. 8th. 


Elizabeth's negotiations on behalf of Mary. Lethington was also to confer with 
the ambassador on the same subject ; and there can be no doubt that Lethington 
and Melville both secretly favoured Queen Mary, and were favourable to her 
restoration to power on certain conditions. 1 This was not, however, the opinion 
of the majority of the confederates, who determined to force the queen to demit 
the government, and appoint the Earl of Murray to act as regent during her 
son's minority. It was at first resolved to send Melville to persuade her to this 
course ; but he, his brother James tells us, " refused flatly to medle in that 
matter." Lord Lindsay was then despatched with sterner instructions, but Mel- 
ville accompanied or preceded him, and communicated to her the advice of 
Lethington, Grange, and others of her friends, that she should sign the writs, 
remembering that nothing done by her in prison would prejudice her if she 
regained her liberty. Throckmorton also wrote to her, giving the same advice, 
in a letter which Melville carried in the scabbard of his sword. Mary hesi- 
tated, but at length consented, and signed the documents which Lindsay placed 
before her, though with many tears and protests of what she would do were she 
at liberty. 2 

This was on 24th July, and a few days later Melville wrote to Queen Eliza- 
beth, that though her ambassador had not been admitted to Mary, he had led 
her to understand his sovereign's goodwill. He advises gentle dealing in Scot- 
tish affairs. This letter was written from Edinburgh on the very day the young 
prince was crowned at Stirling ; but the English ambassador states that Melville 
was not willing to assist at the ceremony, and remained in the capital. 3 On the 
14th August the English ambassador wrote that he had again been able through 
Melville to communicate with Mary, who had replied, though with some diffi- 
culty. 4 On the 15th of that month, the Earl of Murray, who had returned to Scot- 
land, visited his sister at Lochleven, when she implored him to accept the 
regency, and afterwards resigned to him her jewels and other valuables to 
remain in his custody. In connection with this, Valentine Brown, afterwards 
Sir Valentine Brown, wrote from Berwick to Cecil that Kobert Melville had 
applied, as if from the lords in Scotland, to borrow money, declaring that Queen 
Mary had committed to Murray her jewels which should be pledged. Brown 
adds, " It seems that Melville, sorrowing his mistress' cause, will in no wise be 
known to be any means (medium) herein. 

" 5 

1 Sir N. Throckmorton to Elizabeth, 19th 29th and 31st. 

July 1567. Keith, pp. 420-424. 4 Ibid. 14th August 1567. 

2 Keith's History, p. 425, note (b). 5 Calendar of State Papers, Foreign, 1st 

3 Calendar of State Papers, Foreign, July September 1567; Keith, p. 458. 


It would appear that Melville travelled to Berwick in the suite of the Eng- 
lish ambassador, who at that date left Scotland. His visit to Berwick at this 
time explains the delay referred to in Queen Mary's letter to him of 3d Septem- 
ber. She writes to him to send certain dress material and various gowns and 
articles of raiment for herself and for her attendants. Clothes for them are 
urgently requested, shoes, cambric and linen, with needles. She also asked that 
some fruit, plums and pears, should be sent, and she marvels that he had not sent 
her the silver promised. 1 Melville seems to have replied by a letter to the laird 
of Lochleven, begging to be excused to the queen on account of absence from 
home ; 2 but her orders were no doubt attended to, as at a later date, Drury 
writes to Cecil that " Robert Melville has often recourse to the queen. . . . She 
calls now and then for some money, a small portion Robert Melville from the 
regent brings unto her." 3 

On 18th September 1567, Robert Melville received sasine of the office of 
keeper of Linlithgow Palace, which had been bestowed on him in the previous 
February, but of which he had never obtained formal possession. 4 During the 
remainder of 1567 and the first months of 1568 no reference is found in any 
contemporary document to Robert Melville, who probably continued to act as 
a friend of the captive queen, and a messenger between her and the regent. 
He is named, however, among those of her partisans who rallied round her at 
Hamilton after her escape. Mary reached Hamilton on the 3d of May, and 
five days later no fewer than nine earls, nine bishops, with eighteen considerable 
barons and others of less note, had gathered to her standard, representing a force 
of 6000 men. The leaders bound themselves to support her authority, and to 
defend her person and government. Finding herself thus befriended, she 
constituted a council, and declared to them that her demission of the government 
and appointment of the Earl of Murray were wrung from her by force and fear 
during her captivity. For a witness of this statement she appealed to Robert 
Melville, who had been present at her signing the writs in question. In terms of 
their joint testimony a remarkable document was drawn up, by which the queen 
revoked the deeds signed under compulsion, and makes, or promises to make, 
other arrangements for the government of the realm. 

This document, to which Robert Melville thus contributed, has been over- 
looked by historians, and although Keith mentions the fact, he was apparently 
unaware of a written revocation, of which only one copy, a contemporary 

1 Letter, 3d September 1567, vol. ii. p. 7. 2 Ibid. p. 232. 

3 Calendar of State Papers, Foreign, 30th September 15G7. 

4 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 116, note. 


copy, if not the original draft, is known to exist, having been preserved by 
Thomas Hamilton, first Earl of Haddington, whose father was an ardent sup- 
porter of Queen Mary. It begins in the form of an address to all kings, 
princes, and magistrates, the queen's friends, setting forth the conspiracy 
against her, and denouncing the perpetrators and the confederate lords by name, 
from the Earls of Morton and Murray to the meanest member of their party. 
Then follows a statement of alleged practices against the welfare of the family of 
Hamilton, and a vindication of the late King Henry Darnley. A formal 
revocation of the writs signed in Lochleven is succeeded by an appointment of 
the Duke of Chatelherault and his heirs as protectors and governors of the realm 
and of the young prince, in the absence of the queen, who also acknowledges the 
title of the duke and his heirs to the crown. The conclusion requires all kings 
and princes, and also charges her own subjects, to help and support her cause. 1 

The date of the document is left blank, and there are indications that it was 
purposely so left, and that the writ was not in itself final, but was intended to be 
brought before a parliament for ratification. The remarkable points about it are 
the extraordinary force of vituperation which is expended on the leaders of the 
king's party, and the vindication of Darnley, who is described as the victim of 
slanderous tongues. The Duke of Chatelherault is referred to as the queen's 
dearest " father adoptive," and the whole writ is in praise of the Hamiltons, being 
doubtless written by one of the name, perhaps by the archbishop of St. Andrews. 

After the queen's party had thus expressed their sympathy with her, it was 
resolved to march towards Dumbarton Castle, where it was proposed that Mary 
should remain until a parliament could assemble, or her subjects be drawn to her 
allegiance. But, as is well known, this plan was frustrated by the prompt action 
of the regent, who met the queen's army at Langside, and in the conflict which 
ensued her party was defeated. Mary fled, first towards Dumbarton, then towards 
the south, and Eobert Melville was among those taken prisoners. It does not 
appear that he was long a captive, as his brother and other friends were of the 
regent's party, and he was probably not considered as a combatant, as he had so 
frequently acted the part of a diplomatist. 

It is indeed in the capacity of an envoy that he next appears in history. 
Mary by her flight into England having put herself in the power of Elizabeth, it 
was resolved by that queen and her advisers not only to detain her in custody, 
but that she should in a manner be brought to trial, and Murray given an 
opportunity to produce evidence against her as to the murder of Darnley. 

1 Memorials of the Earls of HaddingtoD, 268-277 ; also The Lennox, vol. ii. pp. 437- 
by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., vol. ii. pp. 447. 


Commissioners were appointed by Elizabeth to try the cause, while Murray on 
one side and Mary on the other were each to name commissioners to appear for 
them, the trial to take place at York. While preparations were making for this 
event, Melville was sent by Lethington to Queen Mary with a message of the 
utmost importance. He advised her that Murray meant to bring against her 
accusations of the most serious kind, and enclosed copies, secretly obtained, of 
the letters which were to be produced in proof of her complicity in the murder 
of Darnley. These letters were the famous documents known as the casket 
letters, which appear to have then been communicated to her for the first time. 
Lethington was evidently impressed by them, as he assured her that nothing but 
a desire to do her service had induced him to come into England, — he was not a 
commissioner, — and he begged the queen to tell him by Melville what he should 
do. Mary, however, in her reply took little notice of the letters, but simply 
requested him to use his efforts to stay Murray's accusations, to labour with 
the Duke of Norfolk in her favour, and to give full credit to the bishop 
of Ross. 1 

Mary was very confident of a verdict in her favour, chiefly because the Duke 
of Norfolk was the principal commissioner, and, according to her own words, 
" she understood of the duke's goodwill towards her, and the bruit was alse 
spread abroad of a marriage betwixt the duke and her." This was, indeed, 
a project which had been fostered if not originated by the fertile brain of 
Lethington, who employed Melville as his active instrument in the matter. He 
it was who dealt with Mary at first, and brought about a meeting between her 
agent Lesley, bishop of Eoss, and Lethington in the latter's lodgings at York, 
when they "talked almost a whole night" on the subject. 

Melville was again with Queen Mary on the 15th October 1568, when he 
delivered to her her jewels, clothing, and horses which he had received in custody 
from her while she was in Lochleven. She granted a receipt for these, 
acknowledging also his faithful service. 2 Melville at the same time engaged 
in a more delicate negotiation with the queen. The Conference had met at 
York, and, besides other evidence, Murray had privately shown to the English 
commissioners the famous casket letters. These, however, had not yet been 
publicly produced, nor had a formal accusation been made. Murray and his 
fellow-commissioners were doubtful what course Elizabeth might pursue, as her 
commissioners had no power to decide the case. The alternative before the 
Scotch commissioners is thus stated in a letter from the Earl of Sussex to Sir 

1 Tytler's History, 3d ed. vol. vi. pp. 58, 59 ; Cobbett's State Trials, vol. i. 975, etc. 

2 Receipt, Bolton, 15th October 156S ; vol. ii. of this work, p. 8. 


William Cecil : " This matter must at length take end, either by finding the Scotch 
queen guilty of the crimes that are objected against her, or by some manner of 
composition with a view of saving her honour." Further on in the letter he says, 
" They (the Scotch commissioners) intend to labour a composition, wherein 
Lethington was a dealer here, hath by means dealt with the Scotch queen, and 
will also, I think, deal there, and to that end you shall shortly hear of Melville 
there, who is the instrument between Murray, Lethington, and the queen to work 
this composition." 1 

This was the delicate negotiation on which Melville now entered with Queen 
Mary. He was authorised by Murray to propose a scheme by which all 
necessity for accusing her should be removed and an amicable compromise take 
place. She was to ratify her demission which had been signed at Lochleven, to 
confirm Murray in his government, while she was to remain in England under the 
protection of Elizabeth, and with a revenue suitable to her dignity. If she 
agreed to these conditions Murray promised to be silent. Mary at first demurred 
to accept such terms, but was at length convinced by Melville's arguments that 
the course proposed was the best for her interest and honour. 2 She therefore 
dismissed him to carry her consent to Murray, with a letter to Queen Elizabeth, 
and despatched her commissioners to London, whither the conference had been 
adjourned. 3 

As is well known, the intended compromise failed by Murray being forced 
to produce his accusation, but the secret negotiations with Norfolk were con- 
tinued, and conferences about the proposed marriage took place between 
him and the bishop of Ross. In these also Melville was the medium of 
communication with Queen Mary, as the bishop of Ross afterwards stated that, 
in October 1568, besides the proposals for compromise already referred to, 
Melville brought messages from Lethington as to interviews with the Duke of 
Norfolk on the subject of the marriage which Lethington strongly encouraged. 
Melville again was the messenger employed by Murray in regard to the same affair 
at a critical moment. It is difficult to know how far Murray entertained the pro- 
posal of a marriage between Mary and Norfolk, but it is said that hearing of a 
plot for his assassination on his way back to Scotland, he renewed his intercourse 
with Norfolk, which had been broken off, and appeared to give his consent to 
the union. Not only so, but he despatched Melville to Queen Mary with an 

1 Letter, Sussex to Cecil, from York, 22d October 156S, printed in Hosack's Mary Queen 
of Scots, 1st ed. p. 516. 

3 Melville's declaration, cited by Tytler, 3d ed. vol. vi. pp. 65, 66. 
3 Ibid. ; Thorpe's Calendar, vol. ii. p. 862, 25th October 1568. 


intimation of his approval, with the result that Norfolk gave strict orders that 
Murray was to be allowed to return in safety to Scotland. 1 

The regent did return to Scotland in the end of January or beginning of 
February 1569, but whether Melville was then in his retinue does not appear. 
The next reference to him is in a letter from Sir William Drury to Cecil in 
October 1569, where the writer states that "Eobert Melville brought the queen's 
mind to Lethington ; " but from the letter it is not clear what queen is referred 
to. At this time Lethington was in the castle of Edinburgh, nominally a 
prisoner accused of the murder of Darnley, though really under the protection 
of Kirkcaldy of Grange, who was then beginning to espouse the queen's cause, 
and it is probable that Melville also was inclining to throw in his lot with 
them. That he did so at a later date is certain. 

Nothing is known of his history during the intervening period, but in May 
1571 he was with Kirkcaldy and Lethington in the castle of Edinburgh, and was 
looked upon as holding an influential position among his party. This is evident 
from an application made to him by his brother-in-law, Johnstone of Elphinstone. 
A day or two previously a skirmish, the first actual outbreak of warfare between 
those known as the Castilians and the king's party, had taken place near 
Edinburgh. The fight led to a mutual declaration of war between the opposing 
factions, and the friends of John Knox, then resident in Edinburgh, became 
alarmed for his safety, as the whole town was virtually at the mercy of the 
commander of the castle. Eobert Melville was therefore earnestly desired by 
letter to have a care that Mr. Knox should not be troubled. He replied, that 
although Knox had used those of the castle otherwise than they deserved, yet 
they meant no harm to him, but because the mob could not be entirely controlled, 
he advised, either that Knox should repair within the fortress, or else that he 
should go to the house of some friend, there to stay till the troubles ended. 
Melville's brother-in-law then promised to procure Mr. Knox's safe removal, which 
was effected a few days later. 2 

Edinburgh now became the centre of one of the bitterest civil wars on record, 
and from this date onward constant attacks and counter attacks, with much 
bloodshed and great hardship to innocent people, took place between the king's 
party and those in the castle. Eobert Melville is nowhere mentioned as taking 
part in active hostilities, but he is named by Sir William Drury to Lord 
Burghley, first in connection with the so-called parliament, held on 12th June 
1571 by the Duke of Chatelherault, Kirkcaldy of Grange, and others. He is also 

1 Lesley's examination, Cobbett's State Trials, vol. i. pp. 979-9S2 ; Tytler, vol. vi. p. 87. 

2 Calderwood's History, vol. iii. pp. 72, 73. 

VOL. I. N 


spoken of some weeks later as a probable envoy from the queen's party to the 
English court. He was, however, refused a safe-conduct by the Regent Lennox, 
who was swayed by Morton, because he was considered " a great enemy to the 
king's cause," and on 3d September 1571 he was still in the castle, detained by 
the " danger of the j)assage." l 

On that day the attack on Stirling was made, in which the Eegent Lennox 
was slain, an event which, although the Earl of Mar was chosen to succeed, threw 
the actual power still more into the hands of the Earl of Morton, who was 
a bitter enemy to the queen's party, and especially to those in the castle of 
Edinburgh. The civil war raged with greater intensity, notwithstanding the 
efforts of the English queen to reconcile the contending factions. In July 1572, 
a peace was concluded for two months by the mediation of Sir William Drury, 
and Monsieur La Croc, the French ambassador. In bringing about this truce 
Melville seems to have used his influence, as in one letter Drury writes to Cecil 
that '' Robert Melville and Lethington guide Grange." Owing to Lethington's 
physical infirmity Melville was the active diplomatist, and held interviews with 
the Regent Mar and his council. After the truce was proclaimed, Melville expressed 
to Lord Burghley his pleasure that Grange had been allowed by Elizabeth to 
retain command of the castle of Edinburgh. 2 

About a month later the party in the castle had resolved to send Melville as 
their envoy to England, but ere he was despatched the whole political horizon 
was darkened by the news of the massacre of St. Bartholomew. On learning 
the facts, Melville expressed in a letter to Drury his deep regret at the tragedy, 
adding a hope that the troubles may be quieted, as great practices seemed to be 
used for the overthrow of religion. 3 Not only as a staunch Protestant but as a 
partisan of Queen Mary, Melville had good reason to lament the massacre and its 
effect upon the opinions of the English queen in regard to his party. On the 
news of St. Bartholomew reaching England, Killigrew was despatched to Scot- 
land, ostensibly with a message to both parties warning them against foreign 
invasion, but secretly with a mission directed against the life of the captive queen. 
The latter object was not carried out, partly owing to the illness and death of the 

1 State Papers, Foreign, 17th June, 30th customs of the port there, which were during 

July, 4th August, and 3d September 1571. his forfeiture given to David Durie of that 

On 30th August 1571 Melville, along with ilk. [Registrum Magni Sigilli, 1546-1580, 

others of his faction, was forfeited by the No. 19S3, 15th November 1571.] 
regent. What his possessions were is no- 2 State Papers, Foreign, ISth July, 20th 

where stated, but he had then, in addition to July, and 2d August 15/2. 
Murdochcairnie, the tower and fortalice of 3 Letter to Drury, 11th September 1572. 

Burntisland, and the power of drawing the Thorpe, vol. i. p. 361. 


Regent Mar, but Killigrew's agency brought about another result, a reconciliation 
between the Hamiltons, Argyll, Huntly and other members of the old queen's 
party, and the regent — a result, however, from which Grange, Lethington, and 
Melville, with the other Castilians, were excluded. They were at first invited to 
join, and Robert Melville wrote to Killigrew apparently indicating the spirit in 
which they would come to terms. He assured the English ambassador that he 
and his companions meant truly and faithfully to join themselves in friendship 
with the rest of the country for the preservation of religion and avoiding of 
strangers. As he was a Christian, they meant no otherwise, but to make a present 
end, craving nothing but surety in times to come, and not intending to perform 
any of those designs which their enemies invented against them, and their reason- 
able offers are hindered. 1 

We learn something of these reasonable offers from a letter of Killigrew's to 
Lord Burghley, stating that Grange and Melville were in favour of peace, if assured 
of their lives and restoration of their property, the castle being continued in 
Grange's keejiing. This was while Mar was still regent, but his death a few days 
later threw the government into the hands of the Earl of Morton, who had not 
only a grudge against Kirkcaldy of Grange, but was firmly convinced that Edin- 
burgh castle could not with safety be continued in his hands. The truce, how- 
ever, between the parties, was prolonged until the 1st of January 1573. During 
this cessation of hostilities John Knox, who had returned from St. Andrews, 
died at Edinburgh on the 24th November 1572. Before his death he sent an 
earnest warning to Kirkcaldy to give up the castle, prophesying that if he did 
not, his fate would be a tragic one. The messenger reported that Kirkcaldy 
was a little affected, Lethington scornful, but that Melville was somewhat moved. 2 
He seems to have felt the position more keenly than most of his party. 

When hostilities recommenced, the Castilians found themselves almost the sole 
supporters of the queen in Scotland. Even under the guns of the castle, for 
Kirkcaldy could no longer hold the town, the king's party were able in safety to 
hold a parliament, which passed an act of indemnity for all the queen's former 
adherents who now conformed to the new regime. While the estates were in 
session they were much annoyed by the guns of the castle, yet Robert Melville 
wrote to Killigrew objecting to a proclamation which he alleged was unfairly set 
forth against his party, that they had refused all reasonable conditions. He 
begged the English ambassador to cause the truth be known, to which Killigrew 
replied that he would place their demands before the parliament as best he could, 

1 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. p. 362, 1st October 1572. 

2 Burtou's History of Scotland, 2d ed. vol. v. p. 127. 


but adding that if their public deeds deserved the love of the people no papers 
would cause their hate. 1 

The castle party were further distressed by the fact that the aid which about 
this time was sent from France was intercepted by a stratagem of Sir James 
Balfour, and all their hopes from that quarter were disappointed. In the end of 
March Killigrew made another attempt at agreement by sending to the castle 
the articles of pacification which had been signed at Perth with other members 
of the queen's party, and urging an answer. He assured them that they would 
never again have the like offer, that they have no hope of support, and that if 
they do not yield they will feel the cannon within eight days. This was the last 
manifesto, and it was rejected, although Killigrew wrote to Lord Burghley that 
they all seemed ill with overworking and watching, and Robert Melville much 
amazed in his mind. Three days later he wrote again that Melville and others 
would gladly quit the fortress if they could do so with honour. 2 A few days later, 
all negotiations being repelled by the obstinacy of the Castilians, who now felt 
bound to fight to the bitter end, the siege operations began, and we hear nothing 
more of Melville until the English cannon had done their work, and part of the 
castle had been carried by storm. A general assault was planned, but, at this 
juncture, Grange requested from Drury, the English leader, a truce of two days to 
prepare for a surrender. This led to an interview in which Melville took part. 
He and Grange with Echlin, the laird of Pittadro, were let down from the castle 
by ropes, and, as a condition of surrender, desired surety for their lives and 
livings, that Lethington and Lord Home might be allowed to go to England, and 
Grange remain unmolested in Scotland. 3 

These conditions might have been yielded by Drury, but the Regent Morton 
scornfully rejected them, and while he agreed that the main body of the garrison 
might go free, he specially excepted Grange, Lethington, and Melville, with Lord 
Home and five others of less note, who were required to submit unconditionally. 
The result was that two days later Grange, Melville, and the others, by a private 
arrangement with Sir William Drury, surrendered to him, and were courteously 
received. As is well known, however, they were a few weeks later, by the orders 
of Elizabeth, delivered to the Regent Morton. But in her letter to the regent, 
while referring the case of the other prisoners to him and the laws of Scotland, 
the queen made a special exception of Robert Melville, whom she had known as 
one who dealt sincerely. She cannot think that he has fallen away from all his 

1 23d and 24th January 1572-3 ; Thorpe's Calendar, vol. i. p. 366. 

2 Ibid. p. 371 ; State Papers, Foreign, 30th March 1573. 

3 State Papers, 27th May 1573 ; cf. Burton and Tytler. 


fair promises, and she asks that favour may be shown to him and no extremity- 
used in the meantime. 1 Thus it came about that while Grange and others were 
executed, Eobert Melville, although imprisoned for a time, was finally set at 
liberty a year later. He was placed in custody, first in Holyroodhouse and after- 
wards in Lethington House, now known as Lennoxlove. The English queen and 
her ministers continued to urge the regent on his behalf, and in August 1574 lie 
writes from his own house in Fife to the Earl of Leicester, expressing his gratitude 
to Queen Elizabeth for her efforts by which he had obtained life and liberty. 2 

For the next few years Robert Melville appears to have lived in retirement. 
But while this was the case, he and those of his former comrades in the castle of 
Edinburgh who survived still kept their attachment to the queen's faction. A 
contemporary historian sa} r s of Eobert Melville and John Maitland, afterwards 
chancellor, that "howbeit they were pardonned, yitt they keeped still their 
minde, interteaning mutual freindship and intelligence, waiting upon all occasions. 
They advanced indirectlie and secretlie as they could the queen's caus, that is the 
associatioun with her sone in the governement." 3 The historian adds that along 
with this scheme they cherished a deep enmity to the Regent Morton. While he 
was in full power as regent and supported by Queen Elizabeth, they remained 
quiet, but at last an opportunity came. Morton's demission of office in 1578, 
brought about by Athole and Argyll, enabled these earls, who had been attached 
to the queen's party, to seize for a time the chief authority. Morton's return to 
power in another form and the death of Athole somewhat retarded the secret 
movement in which Melville and his comrades were interested, but they obtained 
an ally from an unexpected quarter. This was Esme Stewart, Lord d'Aubigny, 
whom it is said the Marian faction sent for from France. He arrived in Scot- 
land about July 1579, and so fascinated the young king that Morton's influence 
began to wane, while titles, honours, and estates, were heaped upon the favourite, 
who was made Earl and afterwards Duke of Lennox. It was probably owing to 
the rising influence of Lennox that in the first parliament held after his coming to 
Scotland, an act was passed admitting Melville and others of the old Castilians 
to the benefit of the pacification of 1573, and thus rescinding the forfeiture of 
Melville's estates. 4 

We hear nothing further regarding Melville till the following year, during 
which period the power of Lennox had been steadily increasing, but on September 

1 Letter cited by Burton, 2d edit. vol. v. 3 Calderwood's History, vol. iii. p. 457. 
p. 125. 

3 18th August 1574, Thorpe's Calendar, * November 1579, Acts of the Parliaments 

p. 386. of Scotland, vol. iii. p. 1S6\ 


1580, Robert Bowes, the English resident at the Scottish court, writes: "John 
Matland, brother to the lard of Ledington deceased, and not muche inferior 
in witt and practise, and Robert Melvin, are lately entertayned and growe 
great in counsell and creditt about Lenox, that bussyly seketh all men and all 
meanes to uphold his greatnes in this realme." 1 This was just after the appoint- 
ment of Lennox as lord chamberlain, and Bowes forebodes ill from the coming 

Two days later, Bowes records that he and Melville, whom he describes as 
" one especially depending on and well hard of lord Ruthen," afterwards the 
Earl of Gowrie, had conferred together, and Melville had recounted a conversation 
with Lord Ruthven. Lord Ruthven, he said, was slow to promise and ready to 
perform, but had agreed with himself, and had offered to further any course for 
the king's benefit and to advance friendship with England. He also promised to 
further any suitable " matche in mariadge " which could be found for the king in 
England. Melville also urged expedition, because he said, the king had declared 
to Lord Ruthven his desire to marry speedily, and he offered his own services to 
forward the matter, to which the Earls of Argyll and Lennox were favourable. 
It was further added that if the English queen agreed to this they would perform 
their promises, but if she continued to use her influence against Lennox, her 
cause would suffer. 2 Bowes comments that he had received the motion with 
respect as it came from Lord Ruthven, but he meant still to continue his former 
course against Lennox. The chief importance of his statement is that it shows 
that Ruthven and Lennox were then on good terms, or else Melville was playing 
a double game, more especially as Bowes in the same letter states that those who 
were formerly friends of Athole had transferred the leadership to Lennox, who 
had also won over Ruthven and some others. 

In Bowes' next letter, he says that Robert Melville, while professing great 
devotion to Elizabeth, had warned him that his last commission had deeply hurt 
the king's feelings, and caused Lennox to despair of gaining her Majesty's favour. 

1 Bowes' Correspondence, Surtees Society, trafficking with France and Spain to pluck the 
p. 131, 25th September 15S0. The more crown from the king's head, to revenge them- 
rigid Presbyterians afterwards alleged this as selves for their loss in the castle of Edinburgh, 
an offence against Lennox, that he hadprocured Terrible results are ascribed to their influence 
the court favour for Melville, his brother Sir on the king, the death of Morton being one 
James, John Maitland and others, who are of the least consequences of the alleged en- 
described as the "most notorious changers of ticements of "these pernicious plagues." 

court, and perellous practisers." They are [Calderwood's History, pp. 40S, 409.] 
accused of bringing the Regent Murray to his 2 Bowes' Correspondence, pp. 133, 134, 

grave and the king's mother into exile, and of 27th September 1580. 


Melville advised Bowes of the trouble that might arise between the two countries, 
and as a result of their conference, it was proposed that under certain conditions, 
subject to the queen's approval, Lennox might be received to favour. 1 Here 
Melville was clearly acting on behalf of Lennox, and it is probable that the 
former conversation was really in his interest also. 

The next answer from England was unfavourable, and dealt so sharply with 
the Scottish court that negotiations were broken off, but not before Bowes had 
done his best to sow dissension between Lennox and Ruthven, which bore fruit 
at a later date. It was proposed at first to send Melville as an envoy to 
the English court, but this plan was rejected, perhaps because of his continued 
attachment to Queen Mary. 3 Bowes left Scotland for a time, and his accounts 
of proceedings there for the next two years are not so minute, being written from 
Berwick or Newcastle. In the interval, Morton's arrest, trial, and execution had 
been carried into effect, notwithstanding Elizabeth's remonstrances and threats. 
A few months after his death, when Lord Ruthven was created Earl of Gowrie, on 
20th October 1581, Robert Melville received the honour of knighthood. 3 Some 
months later, at a time when others of the old Marian faction were received into 
favour, Sir Robert was appointed clerk and deputy to the Earl of Gowrie, then 
treasurer of Scotland, with the usual powers, and with authority to pass signa- 
tures under certain conditions. 4 In August 1582, the raid of Ruthven took 
place, by which, as is well known, the Earl of Gowrie and his friends became for 
a time the virtual rulers of Scotland. 5 The "raid" was very acceptable to the 
English court, and Bowes was at once sent to Scotland to encourage the new 

His accounts of all that went on are very minute ; but he says so little of 
Robert Melville that it would seem as if the latter, though retaining his office, did 
not sympathise with Gowrie's party. This view is strengthened by the fact that 
as soon as De la Mothe Fenelon, the French ambassador, arrived in Scotland, 
charged, as was believed, with a special mission, Bowes reports that Melville was 
one of those who most frequented the ambassador's lodgings. Melville and the 
others are also said to have such free access to the court that they can give full 

1 Bowes' Correspondence, p. 137. Woodfield, with the marsh or moss of Grange 

2 Ibid. pp. 146, 147. niyre, in the barony of Aberdour, Fife. This 

3 Marjoribanks' Annals, p. 40. acquisition was confirmed by the king in 

4 13th April 1582, Register of the Privy November 15S2 and July 1583, and the 
Council, vol. iii. pp. 478-480. lands were exempted from the estates re- 

5 Melville's friend, the Duke of Lennox, stored to Ludovic, Duke of Lennox. [Regis- 
was compelled to leave Scotland, but before trum Magni Sigilli, 1580-1593, Nos. 470, 
he went, he sold to Melville the lands of 590, 59G.] 


intelligence to the ambassador. 1 Calderwood corroborates this statement so far 
by noting that when the French ambassador had an audience of the king, Sir 
Robert Melville was sent to accompany him to the presence, and he also acted as 
a messenger on an errand of the ambassador's. It is probable that his knowledge 
of the French language led to his being appointed to attend on the ambassador, 
just as his brother Sir James was employed on similar occasions. 

Bowes records, in one of his letters a month or two later, that Melville was 
the means of Gowrie's losing the office of treasurer. The story, as Bowes tells it, 
is to the effect that Gowrie had taken offence against certain persons who he 
thought desired to remove him from office; and that by Sir Bobert Melville's 
advice he surrendered his post into the hands of the king, who, contrary to 
his expectation, accepted his resignation, and caused an act to be made to that 
effect and recorded. No such act is among the extant records of the privy 
council, which may be explained by a later statement of Bowes. He says that 
much interest, his own among others, was used with the king to restore Gowrie. 
His Majesty stated that the earl had often complained of the burden of office, and 
that he had been advised to give it to some fit person of less rank. Gowrie had 
therefore virtually yielded the office a year before, and retained only the name of 
treasurer, the duties being performed by Sir Bobert Melville. The result of the 
matter appears in an act of council of 20th April 1583, by which Gowrie and 
Melville are continued as treasurer principal and depute respectively, but ordained 
to act along with and by the advice of certain persons, including the very men 
whose conduct had excited Gowrie's jealousy. 2 How he bore this we learn from 
Bowes, who, a few days later, writes : " The Earl of Gowrie sticketh still with his 
office of treasurer, wherein little or nothing was moved at this convention [of 
estates], so as the matter resteth now at his own choice to retain or surrender at 
his pleasure. He is persuaded by Sir Bobert Melville, his deputy, to give it up ; 
but that advice is hitherto heard with deaf ears." 3 

The next notice of Sir Bobert Melville in Bowes' letters is brief, but 
significant in the view of what took place a few days later. Towards the end of 
May 1583, the king, somewhat against the will of Gowrie and the other " lords 
reformers " as they were called, set out on a " progresse " towards Linlithgow, Fife, 
and elsewhere. On 17th June, Bowes writes: "The king in his progress is to 
visit Cairnie, Sir Bobert Melville's house, and thence go to Falkland." A fort- 
night later, the king was in St. Andrews surrounded by the partisans of Arran 

i Bowes' Correspondence, p. 330, 15th January 1583. 

2 Register of the Privy Council, vol. iii. pp. 564, 565. 

3 Bowes' Correspondence, pp. 416, 417, 23d April 1583. 


and Lennox, and the administration of Gowrie and his faction was at an end. 
There is an allusion in Sir James Melville's memoirs which indicates that he and 
his brother had a considerable share in bringing about this revolution, and the 
king's visit to Murdoch cairnie shortly before lends probability to that statement. 
So also does the fact that the new government had not been long in office ere Sir 
Robert, his brother, and John Maitland were made members of the privy 
council, and thenceforth took a share in the administration. 1 

Previous to this, however, Melville was an active man under the new 
regime. Among other pieces of gossip at this time Bowes writes in the middle 
of July 1583, that he is credibly informed that Sir Eobert Melville and others 
of the same way of thinking are shortly to meet together and confer as to 
the king's mother, with a view, Bowes thinks, to advise the king. Some days 
afterwards he records that it was proposed to send Sir Robert on an embassy 
to England to explain the new state of affairs, adding significantly that the 
proposal does not please the " well affected," that is, the English party in 
Scotland. 2 

There seems no doubt that, whether owing to his attachment to Queen 
Mary's party or not, Robert Melville was a favourite of King James, and em- 
ployed by him on delicate missions. One of these, if Bowes be correct, 
seriously affected the Earl of Gowrie. Writing in the middle of August 1583, 
Bowes states that the Earl of Gowrie was lately sent for by the king, 
who deputed Sir Eobert Melville to persuade him to come to the king. Sir 
Robert induced the earl to come to Cupar, and after his arrival, Colonel 
William .Stewart, Sir Robert, his brother Sir James, and Maitland " dealt very 
earnestly " with the earl to accept the king's remission for the Ruthven 
raid. It is said that Gowrie was wrought into a passion and cursed his 
obedience to the kinsr's letter, declarins; that he desired banishment rather than 
take a remission. In the end, however, finding himself pressed, he, " after a 
great battle," agreed to do what would please the king. Bowes adds that 
Gowrie then retired to his own house malcontent. 3 There may be some doubt 
about this story, as Calderwood implies that Gowrie received a remission at 
St. Andrews on the day of the counter revolution, but the historian does not 
positively assert the fact, although he states that by accepting a remission 

1 Register of Privy Council, vol. iii. p. 594, Colonel Stewart were also, at a later date, 
29th August 15S3. accused by Mr. Patrick Galloway, of an 

2 Bowes' Correspondence, pp. 497, 506, endeavour to entice him, while a captive, to 
13th and 16th July 1583. disavow the Act of the General Assembly in 

3 Bowes' Correspondence, p. 552, 17th favour of Gowrie and his party. [Calder- 
August 1583. Sir Robert Melville and wood, vol. iv. p. 116.] 

VOL. I. O 


Gowrie condemned himself and his associates and ultimately ruined his cause. 
On the other hand, Bowes' relation is probably correct, as he places the event 
just after the return to court of the Earl of Arran, whose influence with the 
king would be used strongly against Gowrie, and if the latter were forced to 
accept a remission, his party would be weakened. New proclamations were 
also issued at this time against the Ruthven raiders. 1 

Another evidence of Melville's being in the inner counsels of the king 
even before his actual admission as a privy councillor, is found in a letter from 
Bowes to Walsingham, then travelling towards Scotland on a special embassy. 
He advises "Walsingham how to carry his mission, and states that he had held 
communication with Robert and James Melville who, he says, " chiefly carry this 
course by their advices," desiring them to move the king to yield to the views 
of the English queen in regard to remissions to the Ruthven raiders. 2 Wal- 
singham arrived in Edinburgh on 1st September, Melville being in the mean- 
time admitted a privy councillor. The English ambassador had some difficulty 
of access to the king, who had gone to Perth, but at last he was enabled to 
present the complaints with which he was charged by the English court, chiefly 
directed against the change of government and the growing ascendency of Arran. 
What followed, as recorded by Bowes, was significant. He writes : "For the 
deliberation of the griefs (complaints) delivered to the king by my lord ambassador 
(Walsingham), the king called to that consultation Arran, Montrose, Colonel 
Stewart, Sir Robert Melville, and John Maitland, leaving out Rothes, Gowrie, 
Newbattle (and others), who were thought not meet to be privy to the secresy 
of the debate and resolution in that cause." 3 

It has been asserted, though it is not clear on what authority, that Sir Robert 
Melville, like his brother, Sir James, formed one of the wiser and more moderate 
party of the king's advisers, but if so, and the statement is warranted by Sir 
James Melville himself, Arran's more violent counsels prevailed, and sterner 
measures were dealt out to Gowrie's faction. 4 As we lose at this date the minute 
record of Scottish affairs made by Bowes, who had been recalled to England, it 
is impossible to state with accuracy what Melville's position clearly was as regards 
the conflicting parties. It may be noted, however, that he was a very regular 

1 Calderwood's History, pp. 716, 719, 722. raider, but had afterwards consented, and 

2 Bowes' Correspondence, pp. 557, 558, was llow iU at ease uncler the new enact " 
°Oth August 15S3 ments. On 19th September 1583 he writes 

that Rothes remains at home disquieted ; 

3 Ibid. p. 571, 12th September 1583. one of his friends advising him to hang g h , 

4 Bowes tells a somewhat unintelligible Robert Melville to recover the good opinion 
story about Rothes, who was not a Ruthven of his former friends. 


attender at the meetings of the privy council, 1 and he appears to have been 
present on 17th April 1584, when a proclamation was issued forbidding the wife, 
friends, or dependants of the Earl of Gowrie from approaching the king or court. 

This renewed severity against Gowrie was caused by certain warlike move- 
ments of his supporters, and by the fact that the unfortunate earl himself was 
then a captive, having been arrested at Dundee by Colonel William Stewart. 
He was brought to Edinburgh, and there confined for a few days, after which he 
was removed to Stirling for trial. According to certain documents, evidently 
contemporary, and which are believed to be papers containing an account of the 
trial, procured by Davison, then resident in Scotland, and forwarded by him to 
the English court, Sir Kobert Melville played an important part in a scene 
which took place with Gowrie before his trial, and also at the trial itself. 

One of these documents gives an account of an interview held with Gowrie 
while still confined in Edinburgh. In that paper, which is headed, " The practise 
of Arran and Sir Eobert Melville against the life of Gowrie," it is stated that 
Arran, Gowrie's great enemy and rival, accompanied by Sir Eobert Melville, paid 
a visit to the captive, and, under pretence of friendship and desire for his welfare, 
persuaded him to write a letter of confession to the king. Gowrie at first 
refused, but afterwards yielded on a promise of pardon being held out to him. 2 
Another document informs us that when the trial came on, the earl's indict- 
ment was framed upon the points contained in his letter to the king. He 
strongly protested against this, and alleged that he never would have been so 
foolish as to write his own accusation had it not been that he was promised a 
pardon. He then, it is said, challenged Sir Robert Melville and the others to 
prove this, who, he declared, had often urged him to set forth the truth. The lord 
advocate told him that they had no power to promise him life. He earnestly 
appealed to them if they did not promise pardon in the king's name, but this they 

1 Register of Privy Council, vol. iii. pp. 594 paper, points out certain discrepancies in its 
el seq. Besides his ordinary attendances in statements as compared with those of Arch- 
council, Sir Robert is specially named at bishop Spottiswood, who publishes Gowrie's 
this time (1) as member of a committee for letter, but on examination these apparent 
checking an account of ransom-money col- discrepancies can be explained, and though 
lected to free captives from the Turks ; (2) the paper may not be literally reliable, 
as arbiter in a dispute between the laird of the main facts seem clear that such an 
Anstruther and the burgesses of Crail ; (3) interview did take place, and that Sir Robert 
as one of the subscribers of a signature in Melville was present. Indeed, Spottiswood 
favour of the family of Sir James Balfour of also gives his name and those of the Earl of 
Pittendriech. Montrose and Lord Doune (omitting Arran) 

2 Archieologia, vol. xxxiii. pp. 161-163. A as persons appointed to examine Gowrie. 
writer in the Archseologia, who prints this [History, vol. ii. p. 310.] 


denied. He then pressed each separately to go to the king on his behalf, but this 
also was refused. The indictment proceeded, the jury were sworn, a verdict of guilty 
was returned, and sentence of death was pronounced. Gowrie then bade them good- 
bye, and after a short time spent in devotion was conducted to the scaffold. There 
he was attended by the lord justice-clerk and Sir Robert Melville. It was to the 
latter that the earl addressed almost his last words, desiring him to pay the execu- 
tioner money in lieu of his clothes, which he had given to his page. He then "smyl- 
inglie " put his head under the axe. He was buried, according to the same account, 
beside the late lord chancellor, Lord Glamis, in Stirling, and his remains were 
followed to the grave by the secretary, Maitland of Thirlestane, Sir Robert Mel- 
ville, the justice-clerk, Sir Lewis Belleuden, and Sir Robert Stewart of Traquair. 1 
This tragedy over, Arran's ascendency became still more complete, as Gowrie's 
chief partisans were all either in custody or in exile. Although from causes already 
noted we have less information regarding Sir Robert Melville, the allusions to him 
are of such a nature as to indicate that he and his old comrade, Maitland, were 
looked upon as attached to Queen Mary's party, and that they supported Arran 
because he seemed to favour their schemes. The first prominent notice of Sir 
Robert Melville, after Gowrie's death, is the ratification by parliament of his 
appointment as treasurer-depute. The parliament met about a fortnight after 
Gowrie's death, and contrary to the usual practice, its proceedings were kept pro- 
foundly secret till it was over, when it was found that the chief acts passed were 
strongly directed against the kirk and her discipline. 2 At this juncture, Davison 
was again sent to Scotland as ambassador from England, and again he seems to 
have come into contact with Sir Robert Melville and his brother, Sir James. 
Whether as a result of his interview with them or not, Davison reported to his 
government that Scotland was fast falling under the influence of the queen of 
Scots, and that the course taken against Gowrie and his party was owing to her 
negotiations and those of the French court. This information excited much 

1 Archreologia, vol. xxxiii. pp. 163, 170. has no such sentence, and nowhere states 
The apparently treacherous conduct of Sir that Melville was Gowrie's "friend." There 
Robert Melville towards Gowrie, as im- is evidence rather that their opinions were 
plied in these papers, has been severely opposed, but Melville had been officially 
commented on. A recent writer [Tytler's associated with Gowrie, and probably felt 
History, 3d ed. p. 383 and note], in that death shut out all animosities. Spot- 
dealing with the matter, assumes, on the tiswoode [History, vol. ii. p. 313] says of 
authority of the papers cited, that Melville Gowrie's death, " His servants were per- 
was a "friend" of Gowrie and quotes "He mitted to take the head with the body and 
(Gowrie) was buried by his three friends, bury it." 
Sir Robert Melvalle," etc., but the original 2 Cf. Calderwood, vol. iv. pp. 62, 63. 


consternation at the English court, and it was decided to use every effort to gain 
over Arran, whose power over James was greatest. Even here, however, Sir 
Robert Melville's influence seems to have been felt, as Lord Hunsdon in a letter 
to Davison writes that Arran's intimacy with Maitland and Melville is suspicious, 
for they are both the Scottish queen's, body and soul. 1 

Shortly after the date of this letter, a meeting took place between Hunsdon 
and Arran, which was friendly to the aims of Elizabeth. Arran protested that 
both the king of Scots and himself were ready to serve the English interest ; and 
at this interview he introduced to Hunsdon the Master of Gray, who was shortly 
to be despatched to England as ambassador. According to Davison, Gray was 
sent for the purpose of revealing, with her son's consent, Queen Mary's plans to 
the English queen. 

Previous to his meeting with Hunsdon, Arran had made a pretended dis- 
covery of a plot, as he alleged, for seizing the king, killing Arran, and taking 
Edinburgh castle, which led to his securing the custody of that fortress for him- 
self. The Master of Mar was constable of the castle, but at the king's order he 
gave it up to Arran. On his return from the conference with Hunsdon, Arran 
began to carry matters with a high hand, and he and his wife took possession of 
the crown jewels and Queen Mary's wardrobe, much to the disgust of Sir Robert 
Melville, who was responsible for their custody. Davison wrote to Walsingham 
that Lady Arran had made new keys to the jewel chests without the king's know- 
ledge or command ; while the old keys remained with Melville, who " is mynded 
to resygne them up to his Maiesty, so sone as he shall come to the court, bycause 
he will no longer stand charged with that which she has the disposicion of, 
[whom] every man suspectith to[o] skillfull in substraction." 2 

In a postscript, Davison says, " The provost of Glenliwde [LincludenJ 3 is 
brought againe to this towne and comytted to the castle ; their foreign conspiracy 
is at an end, nowe my lord of Arane hath hitt the mark he aymid at. The king 
himself, as is assured me by some of his owne counsel], hath an vtter mislyk of 
the chang, and hath blaimed the secretary [Maitland] and Sir Robert Melvin for 
dealing further in the matter then they had warrant from himself. But some 
think the master's [of Mar's] yelding in this, and others extraordinary dealing 
against him without the king's warrant will turne to Aranes disadvantage with 
the tyme howsoever he do presently bear yt out," etc. 4 The reference to Melville 

1 Letter, 3d August 15S4, Thorpe's Calen- 3 Mr. Robert Douglas, provost of Linclu- 
dar of State Papers, vol. i. p. 481. den, who was one of the Marian faction, and 

2 24th August 1584. Papers relating to one of the pretended conspirators. 
Patrick, Master of Gray, Bannatyne Club, p. 6. 4 Ibid. p. 7. 


is somewhat obscure, but the tone of Davison's letter towards Arran is very 
severe, and notwithstanding their dealings with the earl, the English government 
were determined if possible to remove him from power. 

This result was brought about some months later, during which period we 
find little notice of Sir Eobert Melville. He is mentioned in a paper sent to 
Queen Elizabeth by the banished lords of the Gowrie faction, and is classed with 
Arran, Maitland, and others, as opponents and haters of the English queen. 1 This 
statement may have been dictated by partisanship, and, as will be seen, both Mait- 
land and Melville were won over to oppose Arran. Melville continued to be one 
of the most regular attenders of the privy council, and therefore probably assented 
to much of the work done there, including the severe edicts against the clergy. 
He is referred to as present with the king on a visit to Dirleton in May 1585, 
where Arran entertained the court for twelve days. They passed the time, says 
Calderwood, with the play of Eobin Hood. 2 

Soon after this visit to Dirleton, Henry Wotton arrived as ambassador from 
England, on the ostensible mission of persuading the king of Scots to enter into 
a league offensive and defensive with England. In this he was successful, and 
the league was finally passed at a convention of estates held at St. Andrews on 
31st July 1585. Arran also signed the league, though he was absent from the 
convention, having been committed to ward on the previous day at the demand 
of the English ambassador for alleged participation in the accidental death of 
Lord Russell at a border meeting. This accident was used as the pretext which 
the English government had long desired to get rid of Arran, and it was so far 
successful. There are good grounds for believing that had this not occurred, an 
attempt would have been made to remove him by violence. Sir Eobert Melville 
was a member of the convention at which the treaty with England was agreed to ; 
but although one of the officers of state, his signature is not among those appended 
to the document. According to a contemporary writer, an agent of Queen Mary, 
Melville had, previous to this date, left the party of Arran, and entered into a bond 
with Maitland and the Earls of Huntly, Athole, and Bothwell in opposition to 

1 Calderwood's History, vol. iv. p. 197. with pearle, diamondis and rubeis," but the 

2 Ibid. p. 366. A few days before this, Sir sum for which it was pledged is not stated. 
Robert received from George Meldrum of It may be added that Meldrum died shortly 
Fyvie a receipt for a jewel which had been after this, and the casualty of his sons' ward 
left in his hands, probably as a pledge for and marriage was bestowed on Robert Mel- 
some fine or other debt to the crown, and ville, younger of Murdochcairnie. [Vol. iii. of 
which Sir Robert now returned to its owner. this work, p. 124. Gift in Melville Charter- 
It is described as " ane garnising of gold set chest.] 


Arran. The Master of Gray was, it is stated, at the head of this new party, 
which he had probably formed to weaken Arran's influence. 

What Melville's motive was in joining Gray's party is not clear ; but Mait- 
land and some others of the council were certainly though secretly in favour of 
the return of the banished lords to Scotland, and of the revolution which their 
return would probably effect. That revolution did take place a few months later, 
when the Earls of Angus and Mar and the others, by Elizabeth's permission, 
crossed the border into Scotland, and advanced at the head of a considerable force 
to Stirling, where the king then was. Arran was then with the king ; but the 
royal forces made no resistance, and the town was easily taken. Arran fled, the 
banished lords were admitted to the king's presence and graciously received, and 
Sir Eobert Melville was one of the six members of council who, with the 
king, framed a proclamation for a pacification and remission. 1 His attendance 
on the business of the council continued to be as assiduous as before, but 
as the reference to him as an official or a councillor are for the most part formal, 
no special detail of them need be given. 2 On one occasion, however, in the end 
of 1586 and beginning of 1587, he was placed in a very responsible position, 
out of his ordinary routine. 

In October 1586, Mary Queen of Scots had been brought to trial, and con- 
demned to death in England. When information of this reached Scotland, there 
was great excitement, and it was at once resolved to send an important mission 
to the English court to remonstrate with Elizabeth. After some delay the Master 
of Gray was commissioned to go, and Sir Robert Melville, known to be one of 
her supporters, was appointed to accompany him. The Earl of Bothwell, the 
famous Francis Stewart, was also named, but he was not sent, owing, it is said, to 
Gray's influence, because, according to a contemporary, the earl was " prompt and 
free of speech and affectionate to the Queene of Scottis, and such a one as would 
not, if he discovered any of the trecheries which moste suspected by him, conceale 

1 Register of Privy Council, vol. iv. pp. abbey of Dunfermline, a charter of the 
30, 31. lands of Garvock in Fife, dated 17th Febru- 

2 On 10th May 1586, he and his son ary 1586. He had previously received these 
Robert received from Patrick, Master of lands from John Fenton, " yconimus " of 
Gray, lately made commendator of Dunferin- the abbey of Dunfermline, with consent of 
line, a ratification of a grant of the house of William, commendator of Pittenweem, and 
Abbotshall, and the erection of Burntisland was infeft in them on 25th November 1584. 
into a free port. [Vol. iii. of this work, pp. These grants were confirmed to Sir Robert 
125-127.] This writ will be more fully by King James the Sixth, on 31st March 
noticed in the next memoir. Sir Robert, 1589. Sir Robert granted a charter of Gar- 
about the same time, acquired from the vock to his brother, Sir Andrew, dated 17th 
Master of Gray, as commendator of the April 1588. [Inventory of Garvock Writs.] 


it." * Sir Robert Melville was no doubt more diplomatic, but he was still truly- 
attached to his old mistress, and he appears to have made every effort he could 
on her behalf. His efforts, though outwardly seconded, were really thwarted by 
his colleague, and, as is well known, they were in vain. Elizabeth received the 
ambassadors ungraciously enough, and when she heard their proposals that Mary 
should demit her succession to her son and the king of Scots should be considered 
as in his mother's place, thus obviating popish intrigues, she burst into one of her 
terrible fits of passion, and rejected the idea with bitter taunts. Gray desired 
that Mary's life might be spared for fifteen days, to allow time to communicate 
with Scotland, but Elizabeth refused ; Melville then begged for only eight days, 
but she replied, not for an hour, and cut short the conference. 2 Sir Robert and 
Gray, however, wrote to King James that their negotiations were hindered by 
reports that he was not in earnest in the matter. They had another interview 
with Elizabeth, who was then more inclined to consider their proposals, but showed 
no real change of purpose on the most important point. 3 

Gray and Melville returned to Scotland on February 7th, 1587, and on the 
following day, the very day of Mary's execution, although that was not known 
in Scotland for some time, they reported to the king and council the unsuccessful 
result of their mission, when they were duly commended and discharged. 4 Of 
Melville, the French ambassador wrote that he understood Sir Robert Melville 
had done his part, and was sorry his labour had no better success. 5 For his 
services as ambassador Melville received from the king a grant of the marriage of 
Kennedy of Ardmillan, valued at £1000. 

To the French envoy, Courcelles, we owe several notices of Sir Robert 
Melville, and of the part he played at this crisis. Soon after Mary's execution 
Elizabeth sent Mr. Robert Carey as a special messenger to Scotland to give the 
king her version of the tragedy, but King James refused an audience, despatching 
Mr. Peter Young to learn whether his mother was really dead. He had already 
been advised of the event by his own agents, particularly by Archibald Douglas, 
but Melville told Courcelles that the king would not seem to believe the fact 
until the return of Peter Young. On learning the truth from Carey's own lips, 
the king positively refused to see him, and peremptorily ordered him to remain 

1 Courcelles' Despatches, Bannatyne Club, herself boisted [threatened] him (if hislyf.'' 
1828, p. 22. [Memoirs, p. 357.] 

2 Papers relating toPatrick, Masterof Gray, 3 PapersrelatingtoPatrick,Masterof Gray, 
Bannatyne Club, 1S36, pp. 129, 130. Sir Bannatyne Club, 1836, pp. 132-134. 

James Melville says of his brother on this . 

. , , . , , 4 Register ol Privy Council, vol. iv. p. 144. 

occasion, "he spak braue and stout langage J 

to the consaill of England, sa that the queen 5 Courcelles' Despatches, p. 41. 


at Berwick, adding that certain members of the Scottish council would be sent to 
receive his message. Those selected for this duty were Sir Robert Melville and 
Sir James Home of Cowdenknowes, who met Carey at Foulden, not far from 
Berwick. 1 

In terms of Elizabeth's instructions, Carey affirmed that the Queen of Scots 
was executed without the knowledge of his mistress, her councillors having got 
the warrant signed among other papers, and she had imprisoned Davison on 
account of it, with other excuses. Melville answered that the whole Scottish 
nation were offended by this proceeding against a sovereign queen, that Elizabeth 
might make what excuses she pleased now, but that before the Scottish ambas- 
sadors left she showed herself not against the execution, but rather to approve it, 
giving them no hope of saving Mary's life. The English queen should show her 
displeasure against the murderers, her own councillors and subjects. As for the 
friendship desired by her, added Melville, when she had satisfied the king in a 
matter of such weight touching him in honour, he would consider it. On the 
English ambassador's saying that his mistress was resolved to content the king in 
all he could desire, the Scottish envoys said they were not to advise the queen, 
and in answer to a request that libellers should be restrained, Melville replied 
that the king could not hinder that to be set down in words which the queen had 
performed in deeds. 2 

From this conversation, as reported by Courcelles, who probably had it from 
Melville himself, we gather that Sir Robert at least was indignant at Mary's 
execution, but all contemporary accounts agree in representing the king himself 
as comparatively indifferent in the matter, and the excitement, which for a time 
prevailed, soon subsided. Melville continued his attendance on public affairs, 3 
and is mentioned in connection with the General Assembly of the Church of 
Scotland in February 1588. This assembly was specially summoned by Mr. 
Andrew Melville because of the increased activity of Jesuits and Roman Catholics 
generally in Scotland, in view of the threatened invasion by the Spanish Armada. 
It was proposed that a list of Jesuits, priests and others, should be given up by 
the members of the assembly, both lay and clerical, that summonses might be 
issued against them in the king's name. Sir Robert Melville was to be intrusted 
with this duty. He also appeared in the assembly as a witness against a clergy- 
man who was accused of slandering the king. This was Mr. James Gibson, 
minister of Pencaitland, who had formerly been dealt with by the assembly. It 

1 Calderwood, vol. iv. p. 612. office of keeper of Linlithgow Palace, con- 

2 Courcelles' Despatches, pp. 49, 50. ferred by Queen Mary, in favour of Sir Lewis 

3 On 22d November 1587 he resigned his Bellenden of Auchnoul, justice-clerk. 
VOL. I. P 


was alleged that he had confessed his offence, and Melville and others were pro- 
duced to prove his confession, and as a result of their evidence the offending 
minister was suspended from his office for a time. 

When King James left Scotland for Denmark in October 1589, he made 
special appointments and arrangements for the government of the country 
during his absence. In these arrangements Melville held a principal place, 
being deputed to act as chancellor. 1 The king was absent for six months, a 
period, as was remarked at the time, of unusual peace and order in Scotland. 
Melville had in the early part of 1589 been engaged in the king's service or in 
attendance on his Majesty during the expedition conducted by James in person 
against his rebellious Catholic subjects in the north of Scotland. 2 After the 
king's return from Denmark a commission was issued specially providing for good 
rule on the borders, of which commission Melville was appointed a member. His 
energies therefore were not confined to the special duties of his own office, but he 
ajipears to have taken an active part in all affairs. 

His office of treasurer-depute was no sinecure, but often a serious burden, as 
he had frequently to advance large sums to the king, and his accounts then showed 
a considerable balance against the government. To repay him for his extra 
expenditure on one occasion the profits of the mint were conveyed to him, to be 
paid to him until the debt to him was fully discharged. 3 Probably with the 
view of further reimbursing him, the king, in December 1590, granted to him 
the crown casualties of ward and others due from the lands and baronies of the 
lately deceased Dame Margaret Balfour of Burlie during the minority of her 
eldest son and heir, Michael Balfour, and also the casualty of his marriage. 4 

In September of the same year Sir Robert Melville displeased the presbytery 
of Kirkcaldy because he and the magistrates of Burntisland refused to apj:>rehend 
Mr. James Gordon, a prominent Jesuit. The king was informed of the fact, but 
took no steps in the matter. Another incidental notice of Sir Robert is in 
August 1592, after the attack made by the turbulent Earl of Bothwell on Falk- 
land Palace. A letter from Bowes, the English Resident in Scotland, to Lord 
Burghley states that the chancellor, Lord Thirlestane, and Sir Robert Melville 
were suspected of connivance at or participation in Bothwell's pranks ; but 

1 Register of the Privy Council, vol. iv. estate, Michael Balfour of Burlie, on 23d 
p. 429. July 1591, acknowledged receipt from Sir 

2 Qf ifad p- 825. Robert Melville of a gold chain, a pair of 

bracelets set with agates and pearl, a sapphire 

3 Register of Privy Council, vol. iv. p. 470. „ tablet?n and other jewellery> which Balfouj . 

4 Gift, dated loth December 1590, in Mel- accepted as " heirship " from his mother's 
ville Charter-chest. In connection with this property. [Vol. iii. of this work, p. 133.] 


if so, they never lost the confidence of the king. Sir James Melville, on the 
other hand, records in his Memoirs that it was Sir Robert's vigilance which 
brought about the failure of the attack, and that when Both well had, in December 

1591, made a similar attack on Holyrood, his brother had warned the king to 
take care of himself, but in vain. 

In December 1592 Sir Robert Melville purchased the manor-house of Moni- 
mail, which, with various additions, now forms the barony of Melville in Fifeshire. 
The seller of the property was James Balfour, described as commendator of the 
priory of Charterhouse, near Perth, who had acquired possession of the lands from 
his father, the famous Sir James Balfour of Pittendriech. The contract of sale 
comprehends the commendator's " palice, ludging, and manor-place " of Monimail, 
and also " the grene lying foranent the foir yett of the said place." 1 This palace 
had been a residence of the bishops and archbishops of St. Andrews. It is believed 
to have been originally built by Bishop Lamberton, in the time of King Robert 
the Bruce, but was rebuilt or added to by Cardinal Beaton, whose cardinal's hat 
is represented on the tower which bears his name and is the only part of the 
old palace now remaining. An engraving of the tower in its present state is 
given in this work. 

The cardinal's successor, John Hamilton, also resided at Monimail for a time, 
and it was there that in 1551 he fell sick of the disease of which he was cured 
by the famous Italian physician, Cardan. In 1564, Archbishop Hamilton granted 
the house and lands to James Balfour, then styled rector of Flisk and official of 
Lothian, and the reason for the grant is of interest, as showing the condition of 
the place at that date. The preamble of the archbishop's charter narrates that 
the lands of Pathcondie, Letham, and others adjoining the manor of Monimail had 
been feued out to tenants, also that the manor itself was ruinous, waste, and 
broken, and could not be repaired except at great cost, while even if it were re- 
paired and rebuilt, the archbishop and his successors could not comfortably reside 
there owing to the feuing of the adjacent lands. For these reasons the arch- 
bishop grants the manor-house of Monimail to James Balfour for a yearly feu- 
duty of 13s. 4d. and other dues, and under the following among other conditions, 
that Balfour should assist and concur with the neighbouring tenants in maintaining 
and defending the house against any violence or injury by others in the vicinity. 2 

1 Contract of sale dated 19th December the Sixth to Sir Robert Melville, dated 8th 

1592. Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 133-136. April 1593, in Melville Charter-chest. The 

precept of sasine is directed to Robert Balfour, 

2 The archbishop's charter, which is dated brother-german of Michael Balfour of Burlie, 
10th September 1564, is given at length a member of the family who is not known to 
in a confirmation granted by King James the peerage-writers. 


Ill 1578, Balfour, now described as James Balfour of Pittendriech, knight, 
granted the house and place of Monimail to his second son, James, who, as already 
stated, sold them to Sir Robert Melville. The sum to be paid was 5500 merks, 
and the contract of sale was followed by a charter of the lands, dated at Dundee 
on 20th February 1593, confirmed, along with the two preceding writs, by King 
James the Sixth, under the great seal, on 8th April 1593. 1 

Soon after this date, Melville was sent as a special ambassador to England. 
He had a somewhat delicate mission to perform. A few months before, Edin- 
burgh and Scotland generally had been thrown into great excitement by the dis- 
covery of a plot by which a Spanish army was to land in Scotland and to be 
joined by a force under the Earls of Huntly, Errol, and Angus, and other Scottish 
Catholics. By this means it was hoped to re-establish the Catholic religion in 
Scotland and perhaps also in England. The discovery was followed by the im- 
mediate imprisonment of Angus, and an expedition to the north with the king 
himself at its head. Little, however, was really effected by this apparent activity^ 
The king also was annoyed at the cordial reception which the rebel Bothwell had 
in the north of England under orders from Elizabeth herself. In the midst of 
his perplexities, Lord Burgh arrived from England as envoy-extraordinary from 
the English queen to urge on her part, first, that James should declare war against 
Spain ; second, that he should exercise an unceasing rigour against the Papists ; 
and third, that the two kingdoms should take united action against the Spaniards. 
Sir Robert Melville was sent to interview the ambassador and to reply to his de- 
mands, by assuring him on the first point, that there was no occasion of war with 
Spain, as Scottish subjects had a free trade with that country, and that if the 
King of Spain meant to pursue England, he would give pledges that no harm 
would be done. Melville also reminded the envoy that many fair offers were 
made by the English queen in the last strait, but not a word was kept. On 
the second point, he said that his Majesty was a free prince, and could take no 
directions from the Queen of England as to dealing with his own subjects ; while 
as to the third demand, as there had been no break of friendship there could be 
.no renewal. 2 King James further insisted that it was Elizabeth's interest to co- 
operate with him in his present action ; but to aid him he needed both men and 
money, and he remonstrated strongly against the conduct of the English queen 
in encouraging Bothwell in his treason. 3 It was to carry his answers to Lord 
Burgh's message, and to emphasise the demand for Bothwell's expulsion from 

1 Confirmation charter, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Moysie's Memoirs, p. 101. 

3 Warrender uss., cited in Tytler, 3d ed., voL vii. pp. 197, 198. 


England, and for money to aid in putting down the Catholic rebels, that King 
James despatched Melville. He was also to receive the king's annuity. 1 

Before leaving for the south, Melville acted as one of the commissioners for 
opening parliament, which was then adjourned to a later date. According to 
the parliamentary records, he was in Edinburgh on 9th June, but Calderwood 
implies he left on the 7th. Bowes, however, then the English Resident in Scot- 
land, wrote to Burghley that he had endeavoured to delay Melville's journey. 
While in England, Melville received from King James a letter bidding him 
assure the queen of the intended forfeiture of the Catholic earls, and the restora- 
tion of the chancellor. 3 Notwithstanding this assurance, Melville's embassy was 
not so successful as the king and he would have liked, and he wrote to Burghley 
that the queen's answer was not agreeable to his master's expectations, nor was 
the assistance given so effectual as was hoped. He begs Burghley to intercede 
with the queen to reconsider the matter, and that the money promised to King 
James may not be lessened. 3 The king also again complained of Bothwell's pro- 
ceedings, and the encouragement he received in England. He had good reason to 
complain, for ere Melville's return Bothwell had made his famous entry into Holy- 
rood Palace, and the king had been forced to come to terms. 4 An act of remission 
was passed in favour of Bothwell and his accomplices, while it was agreed that 
he should stand his trial for his alleged offences against the king. One result of 
this was that when Melville returned from England he found the king virtually 
a prisoner in Bothwell's hands. Bothwell was tried by a jury on the 10th 
August following, and acquitted. On the 11th, the king made an attempt to 
escape from Holyrood, but was intercepted by Bothwell, who declared he should 
not leave the palace till the country was more settled. Melville was apparently 
again in attendance on the king, if not actually present at the scene with Both- 
well, and his name was dragged into the discussion in a curious manner. James 
protested strongly against Bothwell's breach of faith in thus detaining him, and 
not withdrawing, as promised, from the palace. Bothwell in turn demanded, 
before he fulfilled his promise, to be restored to his lauds, and that the murder 
of the " bonnie Earl of Moray " should be avenged. He then charged the chan— 

1 Calderwood, vol. v. pp. 252, 253. Bothwell, but in one epistle at least, ad- 

2 Ibid. pp. 253, 254. dressed to John, Lord Hamilton, he added a 

3 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. ii. p. 630. private postscript somewhat at variance with 

4 In this affair King James showed much the rest of the letter: " Milorde, thir folkis 
diplomacy, submitting for the time with the haue promeisit all humilitie, suppose the 
view of gaining opportunities of retaliation. form uoilent ; and indeed presentlie there 
He wrote letters to some of his nobles bearing is na force heir bot inyne." — [Historical iiss. 
publicly the fact of his reconciliation to Commission, Report xi., Part vi. p. 66.] 


cellor and others, including Sir Kobert Melville, with signing a warrant for 
Moray's slaughter. " Tush, tush ! " said the king, " a better man than you, 
Bothwell, shall answer for Sir Robert." " I deny that," was the retort, " unless 
that be your Majesty." 1 The dispute between the parties then grew so hot 
that all attempts at an amicable settlement appeared unavailing. 

A few days later, however, the courtiers, among whom was Melville, with the 
magistrates and ministers of Edinburgh, arranged an agreement, which was signed 
by them and by the king and Bothwell's party. Certain nobles, including Chan- 
cellor Maitland, were to absent themselves from court, while Bothwell also was to 
retire and allow the king freedom of action, receiving at the same time remission 
of all offences. At a later date Melville was one of those selected to convey to 
Bothwell the decision of a convention of estates held at Stirling, and the promise 
that the king did not mean to withdraw his pardon or the restoration of his 
estates, but would ratify the same in parliament, provided Bothwell became a 
suppliant, and would leave the country.' 2 These conditions were accepted, and, 
according to Bowes, the arrangement was cemented by a banquet given by Both- 
well to the king, but the reconciliation was very brief. 

The next notice of Sir Bobert Melville records his presence at a convention 
of estates held at Linlithgow in the end of October 1593, and which continued to 
sit at intervals for a time, almost superseding the regular council. He was also 
one of those who aided in passing the " Act of Abolition," as it was called, in 
favour of the Roman Catholic earls, Huntly, Angus, and Errol, granting them 
pardon on certain conditions. This act greatly disappointed the clergy, but was 
afterwards revoked, as the earls did not comply with its conditions. As a result, 
the king, stimulated probably by a sharp rebuke from Queen Elizabeth, directed 
Sir Robert Melville and others to prepare a summons against the rebels, the pres- 
bytery of Edinburgh being also called in to advise on the subject. Proceedings 
were varied by a sudden raid, led by the irrepressible Bothwell in person, on 3d 
April, and a few days later, Sir Robert Melville met the presbytery with a pro- 
position that they should devise a method to keep Bothwell's forces out of the 
neighbourhood. The ministers, suspecting a snare, replied they would pray for 
him and against all opponents to the good cause. Sir Robert urged a more 
satisfactory answer, but they refused to move till they saw further action. 
Melville then complained that the nobility had left the king, to which Mr. Robert 

1 Letter from Bowes to Burghley, 16th August 1593, Thorpe's Calendar, vol. ii. p. 632, 
cited in Tytler, 3d ed., vol. vii. pp. 220, 221. 

2 Calderwood's History, vol. v. pp. 257-261. 


Bruce responded to the effect that it was his Majesty's own fault, and their advice 
was that he should turn and repent. 1 

On the same day a proclamation was issued declaring the king's intention to 
make an armed expedition to the north, and summoning the lieges to his standard 
for repression of the rebels. Two days afterwards James crossed the Forth to 
Burntisland on a visit to Sir Robert Melville, and also, it is said, with the hope 
of surprising some of Bothwell's party in Fife. From Burntisland Sir Robert, 
doubtless by the request of the king, wrote to Burghley and also to Queen Eliza- 
beth, expressing regret for the " jealousies " which had fallen out between the two 
sovereigns, and assuring them of his master's sincere affection towards her 
Majesty. 2 On the king's return to Edinburgh he and the council had before them 
Mr. John Ross, a minister within the bounds of the synod of Perth, who was 
charged with uttering treasonable speeches against the king. He had been appre- 
hended near Burntisland in disguise, and seized as a suspected adherent of 
Bothwell. Sir Robert Melville was present at the examination, but appears only 
to have spoken once, in defence of his former mistress, Queen Mary, whom he 
affirmed to be " als vertuous a prince as ever raigned in Europe." Sir Robert was 
also appointed to lay Ross's case and other matters on behalf of the king before 
the General Assembly. 3 

Sir Robert, as on former occasions, was one of the commissioners for opening 
parliament in May and June 1594, when Huntly and the other Catholic earls were 
forfeited. Three days before the sitting of the parliament the king had promoted 
Melville to be one of the extraordinary lords of session, as successor to Sir John 
Seton of Barns, and on the 1 1 th June he presented the king's warrant and was 
duly admitted to the bench." 4 About the same date he, with some other officers 
of state, was waited on by a committee of ministers who were anxious to secure 
the prosecution of the sentence against the Catholic earls, but the result of the 
interview is not recorded. 6 A few days previously he had written a friendly 
epistle to Burghley, assuring him of the king's continued affection towards 
Elizabeth, concluding, however, with an urgent request that she would advance 
the king's annuity and all arrears. 6 The money was much needed, as the king 
was then preparing on the one hand, to levy an army against the rebels, and on 
the other, to celebrate with great magnificence the baptism of his eldest son, 

1 Calderwood's History, vol. v. pp. 289, 4 Book of Sederunt, vol. iv. f. 148. 
ono oof; ooq 

in w ' 1 ti -pi i i •• 6 Calderwood, vol. v. p. 336. 

2 Ibid. p. 299 ; Thorpe s Calendar, vol. n. 

p. 648. 8 Thorpe's Calendar, vol. ii. p. 653. 7th 

3 Calderwood, vol. v. pp. 303, 323-326. June 1594. 


Prince Henry, and Sir Robert Melville was one of those specially deputed to 
" consult how money might be had." 1 

The baptism took place in the Chapel Eoyal of Stirling on 30th August 1594, 
and about six weeks later the king was on his march northwards to punish Huntly 
and the other rebels, who were now joined by Bothwell, and had gained a some- 
what doubtful victory at Glenlivat over a force commanded by the young Earl of 
Argyll. The latter met the king at Dundee, and the royal forces marched to 
Aberdeen, but the rebels made no opposition. The castles of Strathbogie and 
Slains, with some minor fortalices, were destroyed, and the king returned to 
Edinburgh about the middle of November. Sir Eobert Melville accompanied the 
expedition, and remained in the north for a time as one of the chief advisers of 
the Duke of Lennox, who had been appointed the king's lieutenant for final sup- 
pression of the rebels. The methods pursued to this end met with the approval 
of the king and council, though Calderwood comments upon them unfavourably, 
while he alleges that Lennox " had avaritious and craftie counsellers left with 
him," but whether this description is intended to apply to Melville is not clear. 
The Duke of Lennox returned to the south on 16th February 1595, and received 
a discharge of his commission, but Melville does not appear in the privy council 
till 20th March. 2 

Mr. John Colville, however, notes, in a letter to Bowes on 11th March 1595, 
that Sir Eobert Melville was desirous to be sent to England. This desire was 
apparently not gratified, but it no doubt arose from his wish to smooth matters 
between his master and the English queen, who had refused to implement her 
promises of pecuniary assistance, much to the wrath of James, whose mind, how- 
ever, was somewhat distracted by troubles in his own household. Melville's 
attendances at council seem during this year to have been less frequent or are 
less faithfully recorded. In August 1595, the king and queen, who had been at 
variance, were reconciled, and proposed a journey from Falkland to Perth, there 
to receive the communion together, and one of the houses at which her Majesty 
was to stay during her progress was that of Sir Robert Melville. 3 

In the beginning of the year 1596 King James made some changes in his 
administration which had an important result for Sir Eobert Melville. The over- 
sight of the finances was handed over to eight councillors, who, from their number, 
received the name of Octavians. They were commissioned to do all in their power 
to regulate the king's affairs and replenish his coffers, but in doing so they appro- 

1 Calderwood's History, vol. v. p. 341. 

2 Ibid. pp. 357, 363; Register of Privy Council, vol. v. pp. 207, 216. 

3 Letter, Nicolsou to Bowes, 15th August 1595, cited by Tytler, 3d ed. vol. vii. p. 294. 


priated to themselves the chief offices of state. As a consequence Melville was 
deprived of his place as treasurer-depute, much to his displeasure if a gossiping 
letter from Bowes to Lord Burghley be correct. 1 Beflections upon Melville's 
treasurership have been made, one writer asserting that he aud others had been 
protected by the late chancellor, Lord Thirlestane, and that the king suspected 
them of fattening at his expense. Another writer, a contemporary, speaking of 
the Octavians and their reforms, says : — " Next they fell upon the Master of 
Glamis, treasurer, and his deputy, Sir Bobert Melville, and by examining their 
accompts found them liable in such sums to the king as to obtain a quietus est 
they were glad to resign the treasury, which was bestowed on the prior of Blan- 
tyre." 2 These statements, however, are at variance with the evidence afforded 
by the records of the period, that so far from Sir Bobert being liable to the king, 
the reverse was the case, and he had advanced large sums on behalf of the public. 
The first proof of this is a document signed by the king and produced by Sir 
Bobert before the lords of session, which narrates that Sir Bobert in his accounts 
of the crown casualties had taken allowance of certain sums paid by him to 
various persons, which he was " evir myndit to haif payit gif he had bene pait of 
his super expenssis restand awand to him be ws at the fitting of his comptis;" 
which over-expenditure the king goes on to say " far exceidis the sum quhairof he 
hes takin allowance and quhairin he standis debtour to our liegis, swa that the 
non-payment thairof is not in his default." The king then provides that though 
Melville is beset with creditors on account of his inability to pay, the court is 
not to entertain any action against him, superseding all such that Sir Bobert may 
not be troubled in any way. 3 This document afterwards formed the basis of an 
act of parliament in which the king acknowledges his debt and gives a promise 
of payment, but continues the protection against Sir Bobert's creditors. 4 These 
writs dispose of the question of Melville's liabilities, and three years later his 
over-expenditure was still unpaid. His successor, when he retired in 1600, was 
"super-expended" in the sum of £18,452, 5s. Scots, part of which was a debt 
still owing to Sir Bobert Melville, amounting to £2850 Scots. 5 It will thus be 
evident that the office of treasurer to King James was an extremely costly post 
to its holder. 

Towards the close of the year 1596, the Octavians, finding the work they had 

1 Letter, Bowes to Burghley, 10th March Books of Sederunt, vol. iv. part i. f. 200. 

1 596, Thorpe's Calendar, vol. ii. pp. 706, 707. 4 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

2 Spottiswood, p. 413. vol. iv. p. 147. 16th December 1597. 

3 Supersedere, dated 27th May 1596, pre- 5 Register of Privy Council, 1599, vol. v. 
sented to the Lords of Session 28th May. p. 549 ; Ibid. 1600, vol. vi. p. 92. 

VOL. I. 



undertaken to be too onerous, petitioned for assistance, and Sir Robert Melville 
was one of ten persons appointed to act along with them. 1 The administration of 
the Octavians, however, came to a sudden close in January 1597, their demission 
being hastened by the extraordinary Edinburgh tumult of 17th December 1596. 
"Whether Sir Robert Melville had any share in promoting this tumult cannot be 
ascertained, though his son was one of those courtiers to whom its origin was 
ascribed. Sir Robert, indeed, appears to have then been absent from court, as he 
is not named in any sederunt of the privy council after the tumult until 15th 
February 1597, not even in a convention of estates held on 6th January. 2 His 
attendances in council after his loss of the treasurership were less frequent, but he 
was one of those re-appointed as a privy councillor on the formation of a new and 
more compact council in December 1598. After that date he continued to attend 
with great regularity, until the beginning of 1600 ; and then, with somewhat less 
frequency, until December of that year, when he demitted his place in council in 
favour of his son, then known as Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland. 3 Two months 
later he also retired from his place of extraordinary lord of session, which was 
likewise bestowed on his son. The king's letter to the lords of session announc- 
ing the appointment states the reason of Sir Robert's retirement thus : " For- 
samekill as we have daylie divers and sindrie occasionis to imploy our trustie 
and weil-belouit consalour, Sir Robert Melville of Murdocairny, knycht, in our 
awin effairis ; wnderstanding also be his aige and waiknes that he is not abill to 
await daylie on our session, and that he has demittit his place," etc., the king 
appoints the son to succeed the father. 4 

Although his age and weakness thus debarred Sir Robert from his former 
active part in public affairs, he still continued to take an interest in the adminis- 
tration. He seems to have been present at the convention of estates held in June 
1600, when the young Earl of Gowrie attracted so much attention by his speech 
against the subsidy desired by the king, 6 and he was present at one of the diets 
for examination of witnesses in the Gowrie conspiracy in August of same year. 6 

In 1603, Sir Robert Melville appears to have accompanied or followed King 
James to London on his accession to the English crown. There he acted for a 
time as one of the council who managed affairs in England, and his name is 
appended to an act of that council convened to try the offence conceived by Queen 
Anna against the Earl of Mar, because of his refusal to give up Prince Henry to 

1 Register of Privy Council, vol. v. p. 338. 26th February 1601. 

2 Ibid. p. 364. 5 Register of Privy Council, vol. vi. p. 121, 

3 Ibid. vol. vi. p. 182. and note. 

4 Books of Sederunt, vol. iv. part ii. f. 303, ° Calderwood, vol. vi. p, 59. 


her until commanded by the king. The council decided that the queen had no 
cause of offence in the matter. 1 In February 1604, the king issued a special 
mandate in his favour, dispensing with his regular attendance at council and ses- 
sion, because of his " age, seiknes, and infirmiteis." " Yet in July following he 
was appointed by the Scottish parliament as one of their commissioners for treat- 
ing of a union between England and Scotland, and he signed the completed draft 
treaty in December of that year. On 10th January 1606, he was present and 
acted as one of the judicial assessors at the trial of those ministers who were 
accused of treason for holding a general assembly at Aberdeen. 3 In 1610 the 
king, finding the Scottish privy council too unwieldy in numbers to work well, 
limited the members to thirty-five, to be specially nominated by himself, and Sir 
Robert Melville was one of the council thus reconstructed. These are the chief pub- 
lic appearances recorded of Sir Robert Melville during the later years of his life. 

As to his private affairs during the same period, he was not left altogether 
without marks of continued royal favour. In February 1605, the king, in con- 
sideration of the good service done to him from his infancy by Sir Robert 
Melville, " albeit as yit not dewlie recompansit," grants to Sir Robert, and to his 
son and son's wife, a discharge or remission of all rent or feufarms payable by 
them to the Crown from the lands of Murdochcairnie, in Fife — the exemption to 
endure for their respective lifetimes. This grant was afterwards ratified in 
parliament. 4 A few years later a more personal honour was conferred upon him. 
He was created a peer of parliament, with the title of Lord Melville of 
Monimail, by patent dated 1st April 16 16. The patent gives as the reason for 
the grant the king's consideration and remembrance of the great and many 
very important and honourable offices and posts with which Sir Robert had 
from his youth been burdened during the reigns of the king's predecessors, as 
also under the king himself, both in embassies to foreign princes and in domestic 
affairs, in the administration of the royal revenues, and in all other matters of the 
highest importance ; also of the dignity with which Sir Robert transacted affairs 
to the king's honour and contentment, and to the general satisfaction of the 
lieges. 5 The limitation of the dignity was to Sir Robert for life, and after his 
death to his eldest son, Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland, and the lawful heirs- 
male of the body of either of them. 

1 Register of Privy Council, vol. vi. pp. * Grant dated 20th February 1605 ; con- 
577, 578, 5th July 1603. firmed 24th June 1609. Acts of the Parlia- 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 12. ments of Scotland, vol. iv. p. 455. 

3 Register of Privy Council, vol. vi. pp. 

xxxiv, 5, 164. 5 vol. iii. of this work, pp. 152, 153. 


Kobert, first Lord Melville, did not long survive this tribute to his long, 
laborious, and faithful service, as he died five years later, in December 1621, at 
the very advanced age of ninety-four. He made his will, and gave up an 
inventory of his debts and goods on the 5th of that month, appointing his cousin, 
Mr. Thomas Melville, his sole executor, who is to act by the advice of the testa- 
tor's son, Robert, Master of Melville. 

Eobert, first Lord Melville, was thrice married. His first wife was Katherine 
Adamson, said to be a daughter of William Adamson of Craigcrook, a burgess of 
Edinburgh. She was still alive on 11th December 1586. His second wife was 
Lady Mary Leslie, daughter of Andrew, Earl of Rothes, whom he married before 
1593, and who died in March or April 1605. His third wife was Lady Jean 
Stewart, daughter of Robert Stewart, Earl of Orkney, and widow of Patrick Leslie, 
first Lord Lindores. She survived him and was still alive in 1642. He had 
issue by his first wife only — one son, also named Robert, who succeeded to the title 
and estates, and of whom a memoir follows. 



qfjryym v~ 2^ -yvfi^evvyi o-^?i 

Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland, second Lord Melville 
of Monimail, 1621-1635. 

Margaret Ker (Ferniehirst), his first Wife. 
Jean Hamilton, Lady Ross, his second Wife. 

Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland was the only child of Sir Robert Melville 
of Murdochcairnie, first Lord Melville, and his first wife, Katherine Adamson. 
He is first named in a contract between his parents and Sir Thomas Ker of 
Ferniehirst for his marriage to Margaret Ker, daughter of Sir Thomas. Her 
mother was Janet Kirkcaldy, daughter of Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, 
and grand-niece of Sir Robert Melville, who was thus great-grand-uncle of 
the bride. The contract provided for securing Margaret Ker in the liferent 
of the half-lands of Hillcairny, and in 200 merks annual-rent from the lands 
of Woodfield and Grangemure, in Fife. The contract also provided that in the 


event of the younger Melville being the sole heir-male of his father, or dying 
without issue, the lands of Murdochcairnie and Hillcairny, with the office of keeper 
of the palace of Linlithgow, should pass to Sir Robert's elder brother, John 
Melville of Eaith ; the east quarter of Wester Kinghorn to Sir James Melville 
of Hallhill ; the lands of Woodfield to David Melville of Newmill ; the lands 
of Grangemure to Andrew Melville ; and two chalders of wheat from the lands 
of Letham to William Melville, all brothers of Sir Robert. 1 

In 1586, the younger Melville and his wife joined with his father and 
mother in arranging an exchange of lands with Thomas Oliphaut, giving their half 
of Hillcairny, and 500 merks, for his cpiarter of Murdochcairnie and other lands 
named. 2 In the same year, Patrick, Master of Gray, as commendator of the 
monastery of Dunfermline, granted to the younger Melville a ratification of his 
recent infeftment in the " stane hous " called " the abbotis hall," with six acres 
adjacent to the haven of Burntisland, near the lands of Wester Kinghorn, as 
described. These lands, haven, and house had been resigned by George Durie, a 
former commendator, into the hands of King James the Fifth, who erected the 
haven of Burntisland into a free port and the burgh into a royal burgh. Queen 
Mary also is said to have granted the house of Abbotshall to Sir Robert Melville, 
who now resigned it in favour of his son. This resignation, and the infeftment 
following, the Master of Gray ratifies in due form. 3 

In November 1587, the younger Melville joined with his father in resigning 
the office of keeper of the palace of Linlithgow in favour of Sir Lewis Bellenden 
of Auchnoul.* In the following year the king granted to the elder Melville, for good 
service, and to his son, the lands of Wester Kinghorn or Over Kinghorn, Welton, 
Orrock, Balbie, and other lands named, and an annual-rent of 53s. 4d. from the 
monastery of Inchcolm, with the castle of Burntisland. The king also conferred 
the privilege of free regality, chapel, and chancery of the lands, the superiority of 
the same, with the advowson of the church of Wester Kinghorn, and erected the 
whole into a free barony and regality to be named Burntisland. This grant was 
made in January 1588; but on 1st March the elder Melville resigned the lands, 
and the king bestowed the barony on his son, with the office of customs-receiver at 
the port of Burntisland. 5 In May of same year, the lands of South Ferry of Portin- 
craig, now Ferryport-on-Craig, with the town, port, and right of ferry, at a yearly 

1 Original contract, dated at Edinburgh 4 Registrant Magiri Sigilli, No. 1417. 

and Murdochcairnie, 24th and 2Sth October 6 Registrant Magni Sigilli, 15S0-1593. 

1584, in Melville Charter-chest. Nos. 1430, 1476, 9th January and 1st March 

- Registrum Magni Sigilli, etc., Nos. 1393, 1588. On the last date also, the king 

1394. granted the lands of Letham, with the mill of 

3 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 125-127. Monimail. [Ibid. No. 1475.] 


rental to be paid to the crown of £25, 8s. 3d. Scots, were granted to the elder 
Melville in liferent and to the son in fee. 1 Their possession of this ferry and of 
the fishings attached seems to have been peaceful for the next five years, when 
opportunity was taken of the absence of the elder Melville in London in 1593 to 
disturb it. A number of persons who claimed feus in the lands obtained a con- 
firmation from the crown of a charter by the archbishop of St. Andrews in their 
favour. This deed, however, was challenged by the Melvilles, in January 1594, 
before the privy council, and as the claimants did not appear in their own defence, 
judgment was given in favour of Robert Melville and his father, as the writ was 
a violation of the act of annexation. 2 The younger Melville is at this date, 26 th 
January 1594, described as Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland, but when or for 
what reason he received the rank of knighthood does not appear. 

Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland was, it is said, one of those courtiers who 
joined in stirring up the tumult of the 1 7th December 1596, which had for its object 
the overthrow of the Octavian administration. 3 This was done by suggesting to the 
ministers that the Octavians meditated the re-establishment of Popery, and on the 
other hand by warning the Octavians of the unfriendly attitude of the church. 
As is well known, the agitation ended in an uprising of the citizens of Edinburgh, 
which was soon quieted, but which effected the end desired — the resignation of 
the Octavians. 

In December 1 600, the younger Melville was, as already stated in the previous 
memoir, admitted a member of the Scottish privy council in place of his father 
who retired, and in the following February he was promoted to his father's post 
of extraordinary lord of session, under the title of Lord Burntisland. 4 In his 
capacity as privy councillor he attended as regularly as his father had done, but 
never took so prominent a place in public affairs. Two notices of him about the 
same period connect him with a person whose tragic fate a year or two later 
created somewhat of a sensation in Edinburgh. This was Francis Moubray, son 
of the deceased John Moubray, laird of Barnbougal, who had been an adherent 
of the turbulent Bothwell, and who in 1602 was accused of a design to murder or 
poison King James. He was confined in Edinburgh castle, and made an attempt 
to escape, but fell on the castle rocks and was so seriously injured that he died 
soon afterwards. On the present occasion, in July and October 1601, Moubray 

1 Registrum Magni Sigilli, No. 1543, 18th No. 2046, 7th February 1592.] 
May 1588. The whole of these grants and 2 Register of Privy Council, vol. v. pp. 

baronies were ratified to the younger Melville 124-126. 

on 1st February 1592. [Ibid. No. 2040.] 3 Calderwood, vol. v. p. 510. 

A similar grant was made of the lands of 4 Register of Privy Council, vol. vi. p. 1S2 ; 

Murdochcairnie and others named. [Ibid. Books of Sederunt, vol. iv. part ii. fol. 303. 


appears to have been charged with plotting in some form or other, perhaps in 
connection with the Roman Catholic party, though there is also evidence of a 
correspondence with England. Whatever his offence, he was warded in Edin- 
burgh, and Sir Robert Melville became one of three sureties on his behalf. At 
a later date he was commanded to leave Scotland, and obliged himself, on being 
released from ward, to go to Burntisland and remain there under Sir Robert's 
charge until he could quit the country. 1 

After the accession of King James to the English throne Sir Robert Melville, 
the younger, was one of those who followed him to London, and he acted as one 
of the Scottish privy council there. 2 In 1607, as a privy councillor and lord of 
session, he took the new oath of allegiance which in that year King James im- 
posed upon all who held public offices, and which acknowledged the king 
as " onlie supreame governoure of this kingdome over all persons and in all 
causes," an enactment intended to give the king greater authority over the 
clergy. 3 In 1 6 1 the younger Melville, with other three extraordinary lords of 
session, was deposed from office for a short time, that the king might place John 
Spottiswood, afterwards archbishop of St. Andrews, in one of the vacancies, but 
Melville was soon restored to his place. A little later he was made a member of 
the king's new privy council, and was assiduous in his attendance as formerly. 4 

In 1613, Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland and his second wife, Jean Hamil- 
ton, entered into an agreement with the elder Sir Robert to infeft the latter's third 
wife, Lady Jean Stewart, in an annual-rent for her life of ten chalders of victual 
composed of one chalder of wheat, four chalders of barley, and five chalders of 
oats, secured upon the lands of Murdochcairnie. 5 In June of the following year, 
1614, he appears to have been in London or at court for a time, as he then 
received a letter from Alexander, Earl of Dunfermline, chancellor of Scotland, 
written in some perplexity as to certain communications as to which he wished 
Lord Burntisland to speak to the Earl of Somerset. The chancellor states what 
these are, and expresses an opinion that they could not have been sent with the 
king's knowledge, as they were contrary both to the law and practice of Scotland. 
Another letter from the king on which the chancellor comments was a protection 
in favour of Francis Stewart, son of the late Earl of Bothwell. The king desired 
the writ to be so framed that it should not prejudice the forfeiture of the 
father, but that it should mean only liberty to Stewart to marry and possess 

1 Register of Privy Council, vol. vi. pp. 690, 3 Register of Privy Council, vol. vii. p. 3S5. 

700 ; cf. Calderwood, vol. vi. pp. 160, 203, 204. 4 Ibid. vol. vii. pp. 406, 415. 

- Register of Privy Council, vol. vi. pp. 6 Duplicate Contract, signed, year 1613, day 

577, 5S2. aad month blank, in Melville Charter-chest. 


what he could gain by marriage or otherwise lawfully, and to have equal 
rights with other subjects as if he had not been dishabilitated by his father's 
forfeiture. The chancellor expresses himself " mistie " on the subject of this pro- 
tection as he has no intelligence of the promoters of the affair, which, he says, 
makes his service difficult ; but, he adds, " I hoipe alwayis, God willing, I sail 
keip the pairt off a guid skipper. I sail doe all may be done be sic winde and 
wadder as fallis me, and if the wadder sould ouer whelme me, I sail perish with 
the ruidder in my hand on a dew and honest course." 1 He concludes with an 
opinion that the king meant to restore Stewart's estate, an opinion so far 
justified by an act of rehabilitation granted a few years later. 

Other notices of Lord Burntisland during the next few years are unimportant. 
In January 1614, he and his wife, Jean Hamilton, signed a document securing the 
elder Sir Robert Melville in the liferent of Monimail and Letham, the teinds of 
which they had purchased from the Crown. 3 In December of the same year 
he received a discharge from Robert Durie of that ilk of the sum of 2400 merks, 
apparently a mortgage over the lands of Ferryport-on-Craig, from possession of 
which Durie had been evicted by the archbishop of St. Andrews. 3 About the 
same date Sir Robert acted as one of the cautioners of his nephew by marriage, 
Andrew Ker, younger of Oxnam and Ferniehirst, that the terms of his mar- 
riage contract with Margaret Ker, widow of Lord Yester, and daughter of 
Mark Ker, Earl of Lothian, would be carried out. 4 In 1617, he received 
from the privy council permission for himself and friends to eat flesh 
during Lent, and on three days a week for one year. 5 In August 1621, the 
Scottish parliament ratified to Sir Robert and his wife a charter, dated in 1613, 
granting to him the lands of Letham, mill of Monimail, lands of Mouksmyre and 
Edensmoor, and erecting them into the barony of Monimail. The same parlia- 
ment accepted an offer made by him and the other extraordinary lords of session 
to tax themselves in aid of a subsidy required by the king. In July of this year 
also, 1621, Sir Robert appended his signature to an act affecting the clerks of 
session, which was likewise ratified by parliament. 6 

In December of the same year, 1621, Sir Robert Melville of Burntisland suc- 
ceeded to his father in his title and full possession of his estates as second Lord 
Melville of Monimail. His father's will, though not appointing him executor, left 
so few legacies that he was practically the receiver of the whole personal estate. 

1 Letter, dated 21st June 1614, vol. ii. of 4 Original minute, ibid. 

this work, pp. 75, 76. 5 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 77, 8th March 

2 Original writ in Melville Charter-chest, 1617. 

14th January 1614. ° Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

3 Original receipt in Melville Charter-chest. vol. iv. pp. 661, 693, 696. 


Lord Melville was a member of the first convention of estates in Scotland 
after the accession of King Charles the First, which voted a large subsidy to the 
new monarch. In this convention some opposition was made to certain measures 
proposed by the king affecting the lords of session, and Lord Melville probably 
joined in the request made for delay and fuller consideration by the estates. 
The king, however, disregarded this plea, and in the beginning of 1626, Lord 
Melville and the other extraordinary lords were deprived of office by a 
royal order. But as a member of the privy council he was present at a conven- 
tion of estates in July 1630, when he formed one of a very important committee 
which was appointed to deal with the subject of fisheries in Scotland. 

The king, probably inspired by Sir William Alexander, had issued a letter to 
the estates of Scotland drawing attention to " the great blessing offered . . . in the 
great abundance of fishe vpon all the coasts of these yllands " which should no 
longer be neglected. The benefit of this, his Majesty states, " is reaped onelie by 
strangers " to the disadvantage of his own subjects, and he exj>resses his intention 
" to sett up a commoun fishing to be a nurserie to seamen and to increasse the 
shipping and trade in all parts " of the kingdom. He proposes that " adven- 
turers " from both England and Scotland should unite in this undertaking in the 
manner of a joint-stock company. An estimate is then given of the number of 
vessels, 200, to be used in addition to those actually employed, with the cost of 
their outfits and crews, and a note of probable profits to be realised in the enter- 
prise. The affair was to be managed by one body or corporation, with separate 
companies or branches in various chief towns of the country, these branches being 
contributed to by people in the neighbourhood. The form of the corporation was 
to be modelled upon similar bodies lately constituted in Spain, France, and the 
Low Countries, and the common council was to be composed of men of both 
nations. The adventurers or those who embarked in the undertaking were to 
be subjects of the king only, no foreigner being allowed to take part. 

Such in the main was the king's proposal, and a committee of the estates, of 
whom Lord Melville was one, was appointed to deal with the subject and the 
possibility of procuring a good conclusion. Some days later they reported that 
the association with England was inconvenient, that the burghs were able and 
willing to undertake by themselves the land fishing among the lochs and islands 
and twenty-eight miles from the coast, without help from any other nation, pro- 
vided they have proper stations. Englishmen were prohibited, the committee 
added, by law, from fishing in the lochs. It is unnecessary here to detail the 
proceedings of the committee, which were prolonged for several months ; but on 
23d December 1630, Lord Melville joined in a letter to the king recommending 

vol. I. E 


special commissioners to treat with those of England. He also seems to have 
attended later meetings of the committee, in which was considered the question 
of what fishings on the Scottish coast should be thrown open to the company and 
what reserved to the natives. This somewhat difficult point being settled, mat- 
ters were finally adjusted, and the king, on 19th July 1632, issued a charter 
erecting a society or corporation to be composed of Scotchmen, Englishmen, and 
Irishmen, granting them exclusive jurisdiction in matters relating to fishing, with 
power to take sea fish and herring, but excluding salmon, and under reservation 
of particular districts to be fished only by natives, and further conferring certain 
privileges. 1 Lord Melville's name, however, is not among the members of the 
new association, and its duration and working were probably interrupted by the 
troubles which arose a few years later. 

These were even now beginning to show themselves, for some matters pro- 
posed at the convention of 1630 were looked upon by many as mere court 
devices, and even the taxation, though heartily voted, was regarded with 
jealousy because of the way it was expended. In 1633, King Charles visited 
Scotland for his coronation there, and also held a parliament, at which measures 
were passed which gave great offence to many of the members and to the country 
at large. One of these, and perhaps the most important in its consequences, was 
an act which united the question of the apparel of churchmen and the larger sub- 
ject of the king's prerogative. This act was prepared by the lords of the articles, 
composed in this case of eight bishops and an equal number of courtiers, who 
were devoted to the king's policy ; but when it came before the whole parlia- 
ment, to be accepted or rejected, as was then the custom, there was considerable 
opposition. The act as it was framed was specially objected to, as, while most 
or all of the members were willing to accept the clause affirming the royal 
prerogative, many were strongly opposed to the other clause, which foreshadowed 
innovations. Many stories are told of how the opposition was overcome or 
ignored ; and from one of these narratives it appears that Lord Melville strongly 
objected to the second clause of the act, and, addressing the king, exclaimed, " I 
have sworn with your father and the whole kingdom to the confession of faith, 
in which the innovations intended by these articles were solemnly abjured." 2 It 
is added that Charles, disconcerted at this unexpected address, retired for a little, 
but shortly returned, and producing a list of the members, noted with his own 
hand those who voted against the measures he wished to carry. Lord Melville, 
however, continued to sit in the privy council, and was one of a special com- 

1 Acta of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. v. pp. 208, 220-246. 

2 Senators of the College of Justice, p. 243. 


mission for auditing the treasurer's accounts, in February 1634, or about a year 
before his death. 1 He also, it is said, took much interest in the case of the second 
Lord Balmerino, who was in June 1634 confined on a charge of treason. 

As to private affairs, he and his wife, Jean Hamilton, in 1627, resigned into 
the king's hands the lands and barony of Monimail as described, and also the 
" title, honour, and dignitie of the lordschip of Monymaill," granted by the late 
King James. In regard to this the king wrote to the lord advocate that, be- 
cause of the long and faithful services performed by Lord Melville and his father, 
his Majesty was pleased to accept the resignation of his title, and to regrant it 
to him and any of his heirs upjon whom he intended to confer his estate. 2 In 
terms of this a signature was issued on 17th August 1627, granting the barony of 
Monimail to Lord Melville and his wife in conjunct fee, and failing lawful heirs 
of his own body, to any heirs-male, general or of conquest, whom he should 
nominate at any time during his life ; reuniting the lands and erecting them of new 
into a barony ; granting the dignity of new, and adding a special clause that the 
heir to be named by Lord Melville shall " have the onlie richt of successioun." 3 

Robert, second Lord Melville of Monimail, died on 19th March 1635. He 
made his last will on the 9th of that month, appointing John Melville of Raith 
and James Melville of Hallhill his sole executors. The sum of his personal estate 
amounted to £18,186, 13s. 4d. Scots, while the whole estate, deducting the debts 
due by him, estimated at £3304, 7s. Scots, yielded the considerable sum of 
£28,571, 3s. Scots. Among other items of his personal property are noted, as in 
the hands of Robert Hamilton of Milnburn, three chains of gold, two jewels, a 
"hingar of ane agatt," a ring with five diamonds, and a "garnissing" twenty 
pieces of gold, and three dozen gold buttons, valued in all at £1400 Scots. 

Among the legacies left by Lord Melville were, to Margaret Scott, widow of 
his wife's son, James, Lord Ross, a plaited chain of gold with a rich jewel of 
diamonds thereat ; to Mrs. Jean Ross, her daughter, " ane nett cheinzie of gold in 
my playid with ane skarff sett with pearle ; to James, Lord Ros, 4 if it pleis God he 
returne, and failzeing of him be deceis, to William Ros, his brothei - , ane purse of 
cloth of gold and tuentie-thrie or thairby peise of gold within it ; " to Robert 
Ross a stand of gold buttons, and another stand to William Ross ; to Lady Raith a 
jewel set with three diamonds and three pearls ; to Lady Hallhill a chain of gold 
enamelled " sett with grit knaps and ane agatt with ane mort-heid on the other 

1 Register of Royal Letters, vol. ii. p. 719. 4 James, Lord Ross, here named, died in 

2 Ibid. vol. i. p. 159 ; Original resignation, 1636; he and his brothers, William and Robert, 
undated, in Melville Charter-chest. were the grandchildren of Lord Melville's 

3 Copy signature, ibid. second wife. 


syde." Lord Melville also bequeathed to James Melville, brother to the laird of 
Eaith, one thousand pounds ; to Mr. Eobert Melville, brother of the laird of Hall- 
hill, one thousand merks ; to Eobert Balfour, brother of Michael Balfour of Grange, 
two thousand merks; to Harry Melville, brother of Sir George Melville of 
Garvock, two thousand merks ; to Jean Adamson, daughter of the Goodman of 
" Graycruik " or Craigcrook, five hundred merks ; with various sums to others, 
including his servants. The residue of his estate, after paying legacies, was to 
be divided between his executors. 1 Lord Melville died at Edinburgh, but was 
interred at Monimail without any funeral ceremony on 15th April 1635. 2 

Eobert, second Lord Melville, was twice married, but had no surviving issue 
by either of his wives. His first wife was, as already stated, Margaret Ker of 
Ferniehirst, whom he married in 1584. She died on 24th May 1594, after 
making a will in which she appointed her husband her sole executor and virtually 
left everything she possessed to him, except £100 to be given to the poor. 3 Lord 
Melville's second wife, whom he married before 1613, was Jean Hamilton, 
daughter of Gavin Hamilton of Eaploch, and widow of Eobert, fifth Lord Eoss. 
Judging from a discharge granted to her in 1619 by her son, James, Lord Eoss, 
she appears to have been a woman of some ability. Lord Eoss speaks of his 
mother " haiving maist cairfully brocht me vp sen my infancie and maist pro- 
vidently governit my estait and leving to the maist evident weill and vtilitie of 
me my airis and successouris in respect of the greit burdenes and wodsettis being 
thairvpone the tyme of the deceis of my vmquhile father, quhilkis haill burdenes 
and wodsettis scho hes lauchfully redemit be debursing of greit sowmes of money. 
... As lykwyse that scho hes debursit beyond the sowme of fourtie thowsand 
merkis for my intertenement and chairges during my absence furth of this cuntry 
in the visiteing of forane nationis, and that by and attour greit sowmes of money 
debursit be hir for the rycht and assignatioun of my waird and mariage ; as 
lykwys that now sen my lauchfull and perfyte aige my said mother hes maid 
trew and thankfull compt, &c. to me of hir intromissioun with my leving, maills," 
etc., for which reason he exoners her and her husband, then Sir Eobert Melville, of 
all their dealings with his estate. 4 Jean Hamilton, Lady Melville, predeceased 
her second husband, dying in May 1631. 

1 Testament in Melville Charter-chest. 4 Original discharge, dated 5th May 1619, 

2 Balfour's Annals, vol. ii. p. 223. in Melville Charter-chest. 
s Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 136-140. 



Sir Jajvies Melville of Hallhill, Author of the " Memoirs," 1535-1617. 
Christian Boswell, his Wife. 

Sir James Melville, who became a prominent courtier and statesman during the 
reigns of Mary, Queen of Scots, and King James the Sixth, was, as already stated, 
the third son of Sir John Melville of Raith by his second wife, Helen Napier. 
His " Memoirs of his own life " 1 are well known, and they will supply the material 
of this notice, additions being made where necessary, from original and other 
sources. He was born in 1535, and at the age of fourteen was sent to France by 
Mary of Guise, the queen-dowager of Scotland, to serve his young queen as a 
page of honour. He left Scotland in January 1549-50, in the train of John de 
Montluc, bishop of Valence, then French envoy to the Scottish court. Melville 
recites with considerable humour the adventures of the party after leaving the 
port of Irvine, whence they sailed to Ireland. A mishap, which cost the bishop 
the loss of a phial " of the only maist precious balm that grew in Egipt," valued 
at 2000 crowns, and the strong desire a young Irish maiden had to marry Mel- 
ville himself, are graphically told. The lady had a priest ready, and the intended 
bridegroom only escaped by assuring her that he was yet young, was bound to 
France, and above all had no rents, that is, no income. 

From Ireland the bishop and his party, who were greatly incommoded by 
stormy weather, again visited Kintyre, where Macdonald of Dunaveg was 

1 The latest edition of these Memoirs is tion (of Scott's work) was published " at 

that published by the Bannafcyne Club in Edinburgh in the year 1735 in octavo," and 

1827. As stated in the preface, this edition was followed by a reprint, which may be 

was printed from what is believed to be the called the third edition, published at Glas- 

original MS., which had twice gone amissing gow in 1751, in duodecimo. A translation of 

and was twice discovered, first, in 1660 in the the Memoirs into French was published at 

castle of Edinburgh, and secondly, in the pos- the Hague in 1694, in two vols. Svo ; reprinted 

session of the Right Hon. Sir George H. Rose, at Lyons in 1695, and at Amsterdam in 1704. 

with whose permission it was published. A new or improved translation was issued in 

The previous editions have been numerous, 1745, in three vols, small Svo, said to be 

and may be briefly detailed. The first edition published "a Edimbourg chez Barrows et 

was in folio, published in 1683 by a grandson Young," but evidently printed abroad. The 

of the author, George Scott of Pitlochie, in third volume contained letters, written chiefly 

whose hands the original MS. was for a time. by Queen Mary, selected from various printed 

The editor, however, took liberties with the works. [Memoirs of his own life, by Sir 

MS., and deviated from its arrangement in James Melville of Halhill, Bannatyne Club 

some respects, which lessen the strictly his- edition, Preface and Appendix, where the 

torical value of the work. The second edi- various editions of the work are noted.] 


specially kind to Melville in return for favours received from the latter's father, 
as stated in the memoir of Sir John. After another visit to Scotland, they took 
a final leave of the queen-dowager at Stirling, and after an eight days' voyage 
landed in France. Melville and a Scotch companion rode from Brest to Paris, 
whither the bishop preceded them, and on the way young Melville's knowledge 
of the language enabled him to circumvent intended knavery on the part of 
some French fellow-travellers. He arrived in Paris about Easter 1550, where, 
however, he was not at once presented to the young queen, but seems to have 
continued his education in various accomplishments. For three years he re- 
mained thus, when the bishop, who had returned to Paris from a foreign 
embassy, proposed to introduce him at court. But ere this was done, Melville 
had an interview, under somewhat peculiar circumstances, with the Constable 
de Montmorency, then virtual ruler of France. Captain Eingan or Ninian 
Cockburn, one of the Scots archer-guard, already referred to in the memoir 
of Sir John Melville, arrived from Scotland, and craved an audience with 
the Constable. Encountering Melville, Cockburn secured his services as inter- 
preter, he himself speaking but " ill French." He undertook the office very 
unwillingly, and in the end refused to repeat the captain's account of affairs in 
Scotland. The captain claimed to be Melville's uncle, but this was indignantly 
denied, while the interview had this result that the Constable invited Melville to 
enter his own service instead of that of the Queen of Scots. This offer, as the 
Constable was esteemed the best master in France, and might do him most good, 
Melville accepted in May 1553. 

Under the Constable of France Melville saw considerable military service. 
He attended his master in the Low Countries, France being then at war with the 
Emperor, Charles the Fifth, and was present at the siege of Eenty, where he 
witnessed the bravery and the fatal wound of Norman Leslie, Master of Rothes, 
then in the French service. He was also at the battle or rather skirmish of St. 
Quentin, where the French were seized with a panic, and the Constable taken 
prisoner. Melville himself was wounded, and narrowly escaped captivity by 
his horse running away with him. 

This was in August 1557, and the Constable remained a prisoner until, two 
years later, a peace was concluded by the treaty of Chateau-Cambresis. 1 Soon 
after the peace the attention of the French king, Henry the Second, was directed 
to the affairs of Scotland, and by the advice of his friend and patron, the Constable, 
Melville was despatched on a special mission to his own country. His instruc- 
tions were to discover the intentions of Lord James Stewart, then known 
1 On 2d April 1559. M'Crie's Life of Knox, ed. 1855, p. 359. 


as prior of St. Andrews, and afterwards Earl of Murray, whom the queen- 
regent charged with a desire to usurp the crown of Scotland. Melville arrived in 
Scotland at a most critical moment, reaching Falkland, where the regent was, 
on the very day when her forces, under the Duke of Chatelherault, and Mons. 
D'Oysel, the French lieutenant, were drawn up on Cupar moor to meet the army 
of the lords of the congregation. 1 A battle was averted by the prudence of the 
commanders of the regent's forces, much to her chagrin, and a truce was concluded. 
This gave Melville an opportunity for an interview with Lord James Stewart, 
which he obtained by the good offices of Mr. Henry Balnaves. The meeting 
with Lord James, and his frank statements of his position, satisfied Melville, who 
at once returned to France, only, however, to find King Henry the Second on 
his deathbed. With his decease, a few days later, the Constable of France was 
forced to retire from court, and Melville followed him in his adverse fortunes. 

King Henry was succeeded by his son, Francis the Second, husband of Mary, 
Queen of Scots, who acted under the influence of the House of Guise, the family to 
which the queen-regent of Scotland belonged, and to which Melville attributes the 
origin of many troubles in that country. Matters there had been advanced by 
the arrival, on 2d May 1559, of John Knox, and at a later date, by the Protestant 
leaders taking possession of Edinburgh. French soldiers were despatched to the 
aid of the regent, while the Protestant leaders sought the aid of England. The 
state of affairs in Scotland led to harsh measures against Scotchmen residing in 
France, and Melville retired for a short time to the court of the Elector Palatine, 
whence he returned on the death, in December 15 GO, of Francis the Second. His 
mission was one of condolence, but he took a deep interest in the changes at the 
French court, where the Guises were now discredited, and the Constable of 
France and the young king of Navarre (father of King Henry the Fourth) were 
in favour. Melville himself was graciously received by the queen-mother, 
Catherine de Medicis, and sent back with friendly messages to the Elector 
Palatine, after taking leave of his widowed mistress. 

When he again met the Queen of Scots it was shortly before her departure 
for Scotland, while staying with her uncle, the Duke of Guise. There Melville 
waited upon her with humble offers of service, for which she thanked him, and 
desired him, when he left the Elector Palatine, to come and serve her in Scotland. 
Ere that time arrived, however, a year or two elapsed, during which he was 
employed with regard to proposals of marriage made by certain continental 
princes for the two queens, of England and Scotland respectively. Duke John 
Casimir, second son of the Elector Palatine, sued for the hand of Queen Elizabeth, 

1 This was on 12th June 1559. Keith's History, p. 91. 


while the Archduke Charles of Austria was proposed as a husband for Queen 
Mary. Melville was to be the envoy of both suitors. He, however, at first 
refused to bear the message and portrait of Duke Casimir to Queen Elizabeth. 
As to the other proposal, Melville had an interview with the Emperor Maximilian, 
brother of the Archduke, not to much purpose, and, learning by a stratagem 
the Emperor's real aversion to the marriage, he soon afterwards left his court, 
travelling to Rome. On his return to the Elector Palatine he was despatched to 
the court of France in reference to a proposed marriage between King Charles 
the Ninth and the second daughter of the Emperor Maximilian. His first inter- 
view with the French king and his mother was not favourable, but in the end 
Catherine de Medicis offered Melville a post of honour at the court of France. 

While still weighing this offer, and staying at Paris, he received an invitation 
to come to Scotland on his queen's service, which he interpreted to refer to her 
marriage. Much against the wishes of his former patron, the Constable, and other 
friends in France, Melville determined to go to Scotland. The prince palatine 
also opposed his going there, but it was agreed that he should take Duke Casimir's 
portrait and present it to the Queen of England. Melville then left Heidelberg 
and passed to England, where he had an interview with Queen Elizabeth, to 
whom, after some diplomacy, he showed the portraits, offering them to her, with 
the exception of those of the elector and his wife, " bot sche wald haue nane of 
them." Duke Casimir, however, took his rejection philosophically, and shortly 
afterwards married a princess of Saxony. 

Besides her own affairs, Queen Elizabeth was sufficiently interested in those 
of her sister queen to deal with Melville as to the marriage of his mistress, 
but Elizabeth's opinions and intrigues on this subject are well known, and need 
not be detailed here. After passing through England Melville reached Perth, 
where Queen Mary then was, on 5th May 1564, and was favourably received. 
He relates with considerable naivete her endeavours to win him to settle in Scot- 
land, and his own objections thereto, as he saw little appearance of profit, and 
more prospect of trouble than he had expected. But her graciousness and liberal 
spirit so gained upon him that he was vanquished and won to tarry with her, and 
to leave all other profits or preferments in France or elsewhere, although he had 
then no other heritage than his service. 1 

Mary's first intention was to employ her new courtier in Germany, but 

1 About this time, or at least on 20th July to be paid out of the thirds of benefices. 

1564, Queen Mary bestowed upon Melville, [RegistrumSecreti Sigilli, Lib. xxxii. f. 84 ; cf. 

described as " Gentleman to the Queen's Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. iii. 

Majestie," a pension of £100 Scots for life, p. 246.] 


she sent him to England towards the end of September 1564. He was instructed 
to gain the confidence of Elizabeth, to ascertain her real opinions as to Mary's 
marriage, and to secure some certainty as to her succession to the English 
throne. Melville conducted his negotiations with his usual skill, and has 
in his account of them left on record one of the most graphic personal 
sketches of Elizabeth herself, as well as of her favourite, Leicester, and Henry 
Darnley, afterwards king of Scots. The English queen was charmed with 
Melville's courtly ways, and gave him many opportunities for an interview. She 
secretly showed him, from her private cabinet, Leicester's portrait, while she 
excited his courtier-like devotion by kissing the picture of Queen Mary. The 
little plot by which Melville was enabled to hear Elizabeth play on the virginals, 
his being invited to see her dance, and the secret delight with which she received 
his proposal to carry her to Scotland in the guise of a page, all these have been 
frequently quoted, and are well known. The ambassador, however, was in no 
wise blinded by all the attentions and professions lavished upon him at the 
English court, and privately told his royal mistress that Elizabeth was practising 

A more delicate matter on which he entered, and which he records at 
this time, was the queen's conduct towards David Eiccio. The influence of 
that Italian had been growing, much to the displeasure of the Scottish nobility, 
who treated him in such a way that he took fright and consulted Melville 
as to his conduct at court. Melville advised him to put himself forward less 
prominently, instancing his own example in a similar position at the court of 
the Elector Palatine. Eiccio tried to follow this advice, but afterwards told 
Melville that the queen would not agree to it. Melville then, seeing matters grow 
worse, approached her Majesty on the subject, but after hearing him patiently, 
she only thanked him for his care, and promised to take order in the matter. 1 

Melville in his memoirs passes rapidly over the events which preceded and 
the motives which prompted the queen's marriage with Darnley. He himself, 
on one occasion, spoke to Mary in favour of the union, and indeed one of his 
secret commissions on his embassy to England was to deal with the Countess 

1 On 22d January 1565, the queen, in part they afterwards formed part of the estate of 

recompence of the services of James Melville, her son, Norman Leslie, Master of Rothes. 

her familiar servitor, granted to him a feu- They were in the queen's hands by his for- 

eharter of the lands of Drumeorse, in the feiture, and were to be held by Melville for 

county of Linlithgow. These lands had been a feu-duty of 40 merks and 20s. yearly.— 

feued by King James the Fifth to the late [Registrum Magni Sigilli, vol. iv. No. 1579.] 
Margaret Crichton, Countess of Rothes, and 

VOL. I. S 


of Lennox to obtain leave for her son to go to Scotland. Melville himself was 
confessedly a favourer of the Earl of Murray, but played a very diplomatic part 
throughout the whole affair, urging on the queen at a critical moment that she 
should pardon Murray and the other opponents of her intended marriage. The 
marriage with Darnley gave rise to numerous reports of danger to the reformed 
religion, he being a Catholic ; but over these Melville passes lightly, while he 
tells quaintly enough a little story of his own experience. The Pope, he says, 
sent a sum of 8000 crowns to Queen Mary, but the ship containing the money 
was wrecked on the English coast within the jurisdiction of the Earl of 
Northumberland. That nobleman laid claim to the whole " by just law ; 
quhilk," says Melville, " he caused his advocat read unto me (when I was 
directed to him for the said siluer) in the auld Normand langage, quhilk nother 
he nor I understod weill, it was sa corrupt. Bot he wald geue na part therof 
to the queen." 

Notwithstanding Melville's prudent advice about the banished lords, especially 
backed by reference to evil reports, which were only too soon to be verified, the 
queen refused to stay proceedings against them. Melville, indeed, tells us that 
ere this he, being dissatisfied with his position at court, had begged leave 
from his mistress to return to France, but she refused to grant it, and used all her 
endeavours to bring about a friendly relation between him and her husband. 
This obliged Melville to devote himself more thoroughly to her service ; 
but his well-meant efforts were in vain, as Mary had become too closely involved 
with her relatives of the house of Guise and other Catholic princes, who 
urged her to attempt the overthrow of Protestantism. This led the queen 
to hasten the intended forfeiture of Murray and the other offenders against 
her policy. 

Riccio, too, counselled the queen to adhere to her Catholic allies, and this, with 
the hatred conceived against him by Darnley and other nobles, led to his tragic 
fate. Melville was apparently in the palace of Holyrood during the night of the 
murder, 9th March 1566, but does not appear to have been a witness. He says 
nothing of his own doings until the next morning, when he was allowed to pass 
out of the palace gate, and being observed by the queen, was despatched to the 
provost of Edinburgh, that he might summon the townsmen to her aid. In this 
he was unsuccessful ; but by the queen's desire he had an early interview with 
Murray, when the latter returned from England on the Monday following the 

The queen's dexterity soon enabled her to detach Darnley from his associates 
in the plot against Riccio ; and she used Melville as an agent to win Murray also 


to her interest, which he succeeded in doing, at least for a time. 1 Melville him- 
self was then acting as secretary of state, Maitland of Lethington being under 
suspicion. Murray's return to favour gave rise to jealousies, as to which, however, 
Mary talked quite frankly to Melville, who advised her to put them out of her 
mind. So strong was Melville's influence believed to be at this time, that the 
Earl of Morton, one of the most prominent of Riccio's enemies, made application 
to him for letters of introduction to the Elector Palatine and other German 
princes. The earl's agent was Melville's own sister, the wife of Johnstone of 
Elphinstone, and the matter was laid before the queen, who, however, forbade 
Melville to write in favour of Morton. 

Melville, as is well known, was selected by Queen Mary to bear the tidings to 
Queen Elizabeth of the birth of her son, afterwards King James the Sixth, and 
he made such speed that he was in London on the fifth day after leaving 
Edinburgh. His interview with Queen Elizabeth, and the manner in which she 
received the news, have often been described. One remark of his own in the 
conversation is told with much complacency. In declaring the good news, he 
asserted that it was dearly bought with the peril of Mary's life, she " was sa sair 
handled in the mean tym, that she wished never to have bene maried. This I 
said to geue her [Queen Elizabeth] a little skar to mary be the way ; " for he had 
heard of certain threats of matrimonial intentions. The conversation then 
diverged to other matters. Before he took final leave of the English court, Mel- 
ville again broached the subject of Mary's succession, but to no great purpose. 
The chief message he carried to Scotland was an advice from his brother, Robert 
Melville, then Scottish ambassador in England, that Mary should by all means 
preserve amity between the two kingdoms. 

Melville on his return to Scotland found the political situation little changed, 
except that Bothwell had begun that career of ascendency over Mary which 
ended so fatally for her and himself. Melville's recollection of the sequence of 
events at this time, however, is inaccurate, and requires to be supplemented from 
other sources. Thus he places the baptism of Prince James before the Queen's 
ride to visit Bothwell, which happened in October, whereas the baptism was in 
December. He also speaks of a confidential interview with Queen Mary at 
Stirling, when she was evidently in a very depressed state of mind. This was 

1 On lOth April 1566, Melville received receiving "large commoditie, " and having 

from the king (Darnley) and queen, for life, left the same at the queen's desire, and 

a pension of 500 merks Scots yearly. The entered her service, where he had " servit 

pension is granted for his past services, he respectablie." [Register of Privy Seal, Lib. 

having been in the service of a noble prince, xxxiv. f. 63.] 


previous to the baptism, and was probably a result of the severe illness which 
attacked the queen after her visit to the Hermitage. Melville says he gave the 
queen much good advice, but laments that she had " ouer evell company about 
hir for the tym." He describes the baptism and some peculiar pageants which 
were exhibited, but he hurries over events, merely touching on the coldness 
which had arisen between the queen and her husband, 1 and the alliance between 
Murray, Bothwell, and Morton, until the tragedy of Darnley's murder. Melville 
himself was invited the next morning to visit the place and see the king's body, 
that there was no hurt or mark on it. He went, but found the body guarded, 
and did not see it. 

When the excitement caused by Darnley's death had subsided, and public 
rumour was busy with the report of the queen's intended marriage to Bothwell, 
Melville suddenly found himself placed in a delicate position as regarded his 
mistress and her lover. He had received from Thomas Bishop, a well-known 
Scottish emissary in England, a long letter setting forth the evil consequences 
of such a union as was reported. This letter he laid before the queen, who, 
describing it as a " strange wreting," showed it to Secretary Lethington. The 
secretary, taking Melville aside, asked what he meant, and said — So soon as the 
Earl Bothwell gets word, as I fear he shall, he will not fail to slay you. Melville 
made a faint excuse, and Lethington remarking that he had done more honestly 
than wisely, advised to him to retire with diligence ere Bothwell came up 
from his dinner. The sequel may be told in Melville's own words : " Hir 
Majeste told him [Bothwell] at the first meting, with a condition that he suld 
not do me any harm ; bot I was flown and was socht bot culd not be found, till 
my lordis fury was slaiked, for I was advertist that ther was nathing bot 
slauchter in caice I had bene gottin." The queen, however, interfered, and 
Melville was restored to her service. 

He was in her retinue when on her way from Stirling to Edinburgh. Both- 
well, with a numerous company, met her near Linlithgow, and seizing her bridle, 
forced her to ride with him to Dunbar. A few of her train, including Melville, 
were compelled to go also, but he was soon liberated, and went home. He was 

1 An incident illustrative of the relations animal to him. This gift was highly dis- 

between Mary and Darnley, and in which pleasing to the queen, who " fell mervelous- 

Melville figured, is told in a letter from the lie out " with Melville, called him dissembler 

Earl of Bedford to Cecil. An English mer- and flatterer, and said she could not trust 

chant having a fine water-spaniel, gave it to him who would give anything to such one 

James Melville, who, seeing the pleasure as she loved not. [Quoted in Calderwood, 

Darnley took in such dogs, presented the Wodrow ed., vol. ii. p. 326, note.] 


present at the marriage, on 15 th May 1567, between Mary and Both well, and had 
a meeting with that powerful nobleman, when he was greeted in a jocular manner 
as having been a great stranger. The earl asked him to supper, and when he 
declined, pledged him in a cup of wine, and desired him to drink it up that he 
might grow fatter ; for, said Bothwell, " the zeal of the commoun weal has eaten 
you up and made you sa lean." The rest of the conversation shocked Melville so 
much that he made his escape, and went to wait on the queen, who, he says, 
" was very glaid of my commyng." 

Bothwell had no sooner married the queen than he endeavoured to get her 
son, the infant prince, into his hands. The child was then at Stirling castle, in 
the custody of the Earl of Mar, who refused to deliver him ; but so much pres : 
sure was put upon Mar that he scarcely knew what to do. In his perplexity he 
applied to Melville, who suggested a way out of the difficulty; but the question 
was disposed of by the sudden flight of the queen and her husband from Holy- 
rood palace to Borthwick castle. This step was caused by a strong gathering of 
the Scottish nobility, who had entered into a confederacy against Bothwell, with 
the avowed objects of avenging the murder of Darnley and upholding the safety of 
the prince. In the important events which followed, including the meeting of 
the queen's army and that of the confederate lords at Carberry Hill, the surrender 
of the queen and her subsequent imprisonment in Lochleven castle, Melville 
appears to have taken no prominent personal part, though he adhered to the con- 
federates. 1 It is after the queen was compelled to demit the crown that we first 
find him named as an actor in the drama. A gathering of the Hamiltons and a 
few other noblemen of the queen's party had taken place at Hamilton, and to 
them Melville was sent as an envoy to announce Mary's demission and the 
intended coronation of the young prince. He was courteously received, but his 
mission led to no practical result; and the Hamilton party, though they did not 
oppose it, refused to countenance by their presence the coronation, which took 
place at Stirling on 29th July 1567. 

Meanwhile the Earl of Murray, who had been in France, received an offer of 
the regency, and was now on his way home to Scotland. He arrived at Berwick 
in the beginning of August 1567, and Melville, whose talents for diplomacy seem 
to have been appreciated by all parties, was commissioned to meet him there, 

1 He is, however, casually mentioned by does not record the fact. [Letter, Throck- 

Sir Nicholas Throckmorton, the English am- morton to Cecil, 12th July 1567. Robert- 

bassador, as meeting with him at Fast Castle son's History of Scotland, Appendix No. 

on 11th July 1567. Melville probably accom- xxii.] 
panied Secretary Lethington, but he himself 


and formally declare the offer of the regency. This errand Melville undertook 
readily in the hope of giving Murray timely good counsel. He was charged with 
two different sets of instructions from two parties among the confederate lords. On 
one hand he was to inform Murray of their proceedings, and to require that 
nothing should be done with the queen without them, for they were afraid of his 
being too lenient with her. The other party prayed him on the contrary to be 
kind to Mary and keep favour with her. This advice, Melville says, Murray 
approved ; but he alleges that when, after accepting the regency, he had 
an interview with the queen, he reproached her so bitterly as almost to break her 
heart, and that he thus cut the thread of love and credit between her and him- 
self for ever. Melville adds that those, including himself, who found fault with 
the regent for this, lost his favour ; but it may be doubted whether Melville was 
not more free than wise in his counsels. 

At this point Melville deprecates the fact that a little more address was not 
displayed in the dealings of the king's party with the Hamiltons and others, 
who formed the queen's party. They, he thinks, if rightly dealt with, would 
have joined the original confederacy and much evil might have been averted. 
Melville evidently hoped the queen would be restored, if she had not escaped 
untimely from Lochleven, for the regent though rigorous " was facill and might 
have bene won with proces of tym be hir wisdome, and the moyen [means] of 
hir frendis that wer in his company." But whatever hopes Melville and others 
may have entertained of again seeing Queen Mary on the throne were frustrated 
by her escape from captivity, the battle of Langside, and all that followed. 

Melville states that the queen desired to take refuge in the castle of Dumbar- 
ton, and gradually to win back her subjects to their allegiance, but her adherents 
insisted on hazarding a battle. She also endeavoured to bring about an agree- 
ment between the parties, and wrote to Melville desiring his aid in the matter, 
but her army advanced so rapidly there was no opportunity for negotiations. 

After the queen's flight into England, the first event of importance recorded 
by Melville was the conference at York, and the subsequent meeting at Hampton 
Court, when the accusation against Queen Mary of being accessory to Darnley's 
murder was made before the English commissioners. Melville's whole sympathies 
appear to have been opposed to Murray's conduct in this affair, and while he 
relates the proceedings in a very graphic manner, he contrives to bring the 
accusers of Mary into ridicule. But the story has been often quoted, and though 
Melville appears to have been present, he does not expressly say so. There is 
therefore less reason for repeating the details. It would appear that Mel- 
ville's sympathies, though he adhered to Murray's party, were strongly drawn to 


favour those who had declared for the queen. He seems to have had a special 
admiration for his nephew, Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, and when Secretary 
Lethington and Sir James Balfour were, by order of the regent, arrested for com- 
plicity in Darnley's murder, Melville interceded with the regent that they should 
be banished or set at liberty, promising that if this were done, Grange would 
deliver the castle of Edinburgh, and the regency be thus more firmly established. 

The death of Murray by the assassin's bullet within a few months afterwards, 
on 23d January 1570, calls forth from Melville a eulogium, mingled with such 
criticism of the regent's political career as to suggest the idea that Melville's dis- 
satisfaction with Murray arose chiefly because the latter would not take his advice. 
Melville tells us he gathered clivers scraps of wisdom from Solomon, Augustine, 
Plutarch and others, but chiefly out of the Bible, which he was wont to recite to 
the regent on all " erroneous occasions," that is, when he thought Murray was 
mistaken in his policy. He complacently adds that Murray " tok bettir with 
them therfore, then gif they had proceadit from the learnit philosophers ; therfore 
I promysed to put them in wret and giue him to kepe in his poutche, bot he was 
slain as said is, before I culd meit with him." 

Of the political movements which followed immediately upon the Regent 
Murray's death, Melville takes little notice. Randolph was despatched as English 
envoy to Scotland, and the Earl of Sussex was ordered with a strong force to the 
borders. The election of a successor to Murray was delayed, partly that Eliza- 
beth might be advised on the subject. Meanwhile Melville himself appears to 
have joined the party of Grange, Lethington, and others who were now beginning 
to declare openly for the queen's faction, and he was sent on their behalf to deal 
with the Earl of Sussex, and to learn that nobleman's intentions. He was well 
received and hospitably entertained, but returned to his patrons with no decided 
answer, though with a firm opinion that Sussex was sent to play a double part — 
on the one hand to promote the election of Lennox as regent and promise support 
to the king's party, while on the other hand he also encouraged the queen's 

It is characteristic of Melville that though in his mission to Sussex he was 
acting as agent for Grange and others who were in league with the Hamiltons, 
he yet thought it his " dewty " to visit at Berwick the regent-elect, who was one 
of the most bitter opponents of the queen's party. Melville's excuse for this visit 
was that when Lennox had come to Scotland with his son Darnley in 1565, his 
countess had recommended him to rely much on the advice of Melville and his 
brother Robert. Melville therefore now presumed on his former friendship to 
dissuade Lennox from accepting the regency, setting forth the disturbed state of 


the country, which would put his life iu peril. At the same time he offered the 
earl his own service and assistance, while admitting that this was not the inten- 
tion of those in Edinburgh Castle. The conference concluded by Melville's 
hoping that Lennox might still continue the friendship he had with Grange. 
While returning homeward Melville met the abbot of Dunfermline (Robert 
Pitcairn), the agent of the king's party, on his way to meet the Earl of Lennox, 
and afterwards to England, to negotiate the delivery of Queen Mary to the 
custody of the Scots. 1 

After Lennox came to Scotland and assumed the regency, Melville wished to 
attend on him in various expeditions, but was detained by Randolph, the English 
ambassador, on the pretext that he might become a mediator between the regent 
and those in the castle of Edinburgh. Grange had not yet made up his mind to 
break finally with the king's party, and some negotiation did take place. But 
Melville openly declares that Randolph's intentions were the reverse of pacific, 
and rather to promote strife than reconciliation. Into Melville's views on this 
point, however, it is unnecessary to enter, the more so as his anger was excited 
against Randolph by a personal matter in which the English Resident overreached 
him, as he believed. This referred to the teinds of the lands of Letham, near 
Monimail, in Fife, the right to which had been promised to Melville. Randolph 
offered to secure the fulfilment of this if Melville would aid him with the queen's 
party ; but the teinds were bestowed on some one else, which partly explains the 
severe terms in which Melville condemns Randolph's policy. 

This policy, and certain advices from England regarding it, had, according to 
Melville, nearly produced a result opposite to that which the Resident desired, as 
the factions were almost driven to combine against England. But the bestowal 
of the bishopric of St. Andrews upon the Earl of Morton led to that nobleman 
doing his best to prevent any agreement. One step taken to this end was the 
arrest of Melville himself, which was effected by the Earl of Buchan. 2 When 
arrested Melville was at a wedding at Fordel, and his friends there beinsr 
numerous, offered to chase the earl back again, but Melville would not permit 
this, and went with his captor willingly. When he arrived at Leith, where the 
regent's camp was, it was proposed that he should send a message to his friends 
in the castle that unless it were delivered his life would be in peril. But he 

1 It is not easy to follow Melville's chrono- '- The Earl of Buchan at this date was a 

logy, which appears confused at this point, distant kinsman of Morton, Robert Douglas, 

but the sequence of his interviews with a son of the laird of Lochleven, who had 

Sussex, Lennox, and others have been stated married Christian Stewart, Countess of 

as he narrates it. Buchan. 


refused to do this, ridiculing the proposal as a childish tale. Kirkcaldy of 
Grange, however, when he heard of the capture, sent a secret message offering to 
rescue the prisoner ; but Melville would not consent, assuring him there was no 
danger, and this turned out to be the case, as the arrest was only laughed at, and 
Melville was liberated without being brought before the council at all. 

This ' incident apparently took place some time in the year 1571, and 
Melville passes rapidly over the death of the Regent Lennox in September of 
that year, and the election of Mar as his successor. The next event which 
he records as personally affecting himself is the arrival in Scotland of Mr. 
Henry Killigrew as ambassador from England, in August 1572, after the 
massacre of St. Bartholomew. Killigrew was an old friend of Melville, and 
sent for the latter to talk with him. Killigrew assured Melville that the Earl 
of Morton was the person in Scotland upon whom the hopes of Elizabeth and 
her ministers were placed. Melville told this to his friends in the castle. 
Killigrew at a later date had an interview with them, but without immediate 
result, and at another attempt Kirkcaldy plainly refused to refer the matters in 
debate between him and the king's party to the decision of the English queen 
and council. About this time Melville himself was summoned by the Regent 
Mar, and commissioned to make another effort to make peace with Grange and 
his adherents, which, according to the envoy, was nearly completed when Mar 
took ill and died after a short sickness. 

This untoward event threw matters into confusion, but the Earl of Morton 
was declared regent, and he assured Melville, who was again the intermediary, that 
he would fulfil the conditions made with the Earl of Mar. More difficulty was 
made in agreeing with Morton, whose character was much disliked, yet Grange 
and Lethington both assented to a peace. But when Melville went to Morton 
and reported the result, adding that Grange's influence would be useful to bring 
about a general agreement, the regent replied that he did not mean to agree 
with the whole of the opposite faction. He then gave his reasons, and bade 
Melville show to Grange that either he and his friends must agree separately 
from the Hamiltons and their allies, or the latter would make their peace without 
reference to those of the castle. To this Melville only answered that he understood 
the regent, " his speach was very plain." Kirkcaldy received the result of the 
conference calmly, asserting that if the Hamiltons now deserted him he deserved 
better at their hands, but he would rather they deceived him than that he should 
do so to them. 

At first Morton seemed to respect this chivalrous dealing, but in the end 
he negotiated a separate pacification with the Hamiltons, and when that was 

VOL. I. T 


concluded he refused to deal further with those of the castle. The fortress 
was besieged by an English force, who brought very heavy artillery to bear upon 
it, and soon effected a breach. Two of Melville's brothers, Robert and Andrew, 
were among those who remained in the castle to the last, and when the final 
surrender took place, and the chief defenders were, after a few days of respite, 
made prisoners, Robert Melville would have been executed but for the express 
desire of Queen Elizabeth. To Kirkcaldy no such mercy was shown, and he was 
executed on 3d August 1573, his death calling forth from Melville a eulogium 
which has been often quoted, and which forms one of the most beautiful passages 
in his Memoirs. 

After narrating this tragedy, Melville treats of more general matters, including 
the character of the Regent Morton, his mode of government, and the education 
and surroundings of the young king, summing up in a few pages the chief 
events between the death of Kirkcaldy in 1573 and the fall of Morton 
himself in 1581. Only one personal incident does Melville relate about himself 
during this period, but it is characteristic. Morton, he says, had become proud 
and disdainful, and although his government was firm, his conduct gave great 
offence to many. Among others, the laird of Carmichael, who was one of his 
closest adherents, felt aggrieved at the regent's ingratitude, and would have left 
his service. But he consulted Melville, whose advice was worldly wise in the 
extreme, and not without a touch of sarcasm. He referred to his own case 
and that of his brother in the service of the Regent Murray, how when they 
had admonished their master, they had lost his favour, while others gained it 
by flattery and obsequiousness. " Thir men wan him and we tint (lost) him, 
and apperantly," said Melville to Carmichael, " ye folow the lyk fulische behauour 
as we did ; therfore ye mon tak up another kynd of doing now sen your frend is 
become regent. Imagen that ye wes never acquanted with him of before, bot 
entrit to serve a new maister. Cast never up your auld and lang service ; bek 
(bow) laich, ' grace ' him at every word, find na fait with his procedingis, but 
serve all his affections with gret diligence and continowell onwating, and ye sal 
be sure of a reward. Other wayes all the formair tym spendit in his service sal 
be tint, and he sal hate yow." Carmichael was wise in his generation ; he 
became a greater courtier than before, and was employed, rewarded, and enabled 
to do pleasure to his friends ; but, Melville concludes, " I fand him not thank- 
full efterwart to me for my consaill." 

Other matters of personal interest to Melville which occurred about this 
period, but which are not referred to in his Memoirs, may here be noted. They 
relate chiefly to the lands from which his best-known designation was derived, 


Hallhill, possession of which he acquired about 1570. The lands of Easter Col- 
lessie or Hallhill, in the parish of Collessie, Fife, had belonged to Mr. Henry 
Balnaves, of whom mention was made in the memoir of Sir John Melville of 
Raith. A senator of the college of justice, he was an active adherent and pro- 
moter of the Reformation, and having joined the garrison of St. Andrews after 
the death of Cardinal Beaton, was carried prisoner to Eouen in France, where 
he remained a captive till 1550. His estate in Scotland was restored to him 
in 1556, when apparently he returned to his own country. 1 While residing 
abroad he met James Melville, then at the court of France, who gave him 
assistance and showed kindness to him as a countryman. This Balnaves repaid 
by adopting Melville as his own son, having no children of his own. 2 Balnaves 
died in February 1570, leaving, by his testament, dated 3d January that 
year, his whole estate to his " sone " or " sone adoptive," James Melville, who 
was also appointed sole executor. 3 Among his other legacies, he bequeathed to 
his " sones wyffe " his damask gown lined with velvet. From this we learn that 
James Melville was married at this date, though he says nothing of it. His wife 
was Christine Boswell, of what particular family is not certain. Within a few 
years after his succession to Hallhill he granted these lands, described as the 
half-lands of Easter Collessie, called Hallhdl, and the mill, with the half-lands 
of Murefield, to her in liferent, reserving the tower, fortalice, and gardens of 
Hallhill. 4 

His position as a landed proprietor probably tempted Melville, after the death 
of his friend Grange, and during the comparatively settled government under the 
Eegent Morton, to retire into private life, from which, as he tells us, he was very 
loath to emerge, when required to do so at a later date. His views on the sub- 
ject of a retired life may be gathered from a letter written by him about the 
beginning of Morton's regency, in March 1572, to the well-known English diplo- 
matist, Thomas Randolph, who had recently returned to Scotland along with Sir 
William Drury on a special mission. "As armytis " (hermits), writes Melville, 
" wer wont to retire them in solitary places, euen so am I drawen to a quyet 

1 Calderwood's Historie, vol. i. pp. 242, cuute or Pathcondie, in the parish of Moni- 
244, 318. mail. [Register of Privy Seal, Lib. xxxvi. 

f. 64.] 

2 Henry Balnaves married a lady named 3 Confirmed Testament of Mr. Henry Bal- 
Catharine Scheves, but they apparently had naves, vol. iii. of this work, pp. 117-120. 

no surviving issue. The first grant to Mel- 4 Charter, dated at Edinburgh, 20th Feb- 

ville was in March 1566-7, during Mr. Henry's ruary 1575-6 ; confirmed 24th February same 

lifetime, aud included the lands of Hallhill year. — Registrum Magni Sigilli, vol. iv. No. 

and Murefield, in Collessie parish, with Pet- 2521. 


maner of lyving, content wyth the portion which God has geuen me, wha has 
also mouit the hartis of my lord regents grace and the nobilite to be protectours 
of my quyetnes ; quhilk is such that I nayther am curious of newes nor desirous 
of negotiations." He is anxious to know of Randolph's welfare since the latter's 
marriage, and as to the welfare of others whom he names. Were it not that 
Randolph were lately married the writer would pity his want of rest in " cumber- 
some occupations." He refers to the object of Randolph's mission and con- 
tinues : — " Whatsoeuer he be that parturbes my quyet lyf and estait with any 
busynes will get as mekle thankes as Alexander had of Diogenes, when he stod 
betwix hym and the sowne ; therefore I pray you fauour my quyetnes and find 
na fait that I presse not till com wher ye ar, for my affection toward yow of auld 
is sa ruted, that it most be yet a greter storm and a more vehement blast before 
it can be blawen out and away ; howbeit I haue yet matter and store of flyting 
keping for conuenient tym," etc. 1 

How long Melville continued in his retirement does not appear, but he does 
not describe himself as taking any active part in public affairs during the years 
of Morton's regency and those which followed when King James the Sixth 
assumed the reins of government. The story of the ascendency which was 
gained over the boy king by two favourites, Esme Stewart d'Aubigny, created 
Duke of Lennox, and James Stewart of Ochiltree, known as Earl of Arran, 
with the events which led to the death of Morton and afterwards to the " Raid 
of Ruthven," is familiar to all students of Scottish history and need not be 
detailed here, as they are lightly passed over by Melville himself. He was, 
however, not one of those who feared the influence about the king of the 
Duke of Lennox, of whom he speaks in terms of praise, attributing the faults 
of the administration to the evil counsel of the Earl of Arran and his wife. 
Melville's brother, Robert Melville of Murdoch cairnie, a strong supporter of the 
Marian faction, had been a promoter of the duke's coming to Scotland, 2 and 
it is probable that on this account Melville was well affected towards Lennox. 

Owing to his attachment to that nobleman Melville was drawn into the 
current of public events immediately connected with the Raid of Ruthven. 
We gather from a church historian that Melville was with the court at 
Perth on 6th July 1582, when the commissioners from the General Assembly 
of the Kirk of Scotland, including Andrew Melville and his nephew James, 
appeared before the king and convention of estates to present a list of 
grievances. Andrew Melville's boldness on the occasion was so conspicuous 

1 Original letter, date 14tli March [1571-2], Melville, Bannatyne edition, 
printed in preface to Memoirs of Sir James 2 Calderwood, vol. iii. p. 457. 


that it overawed the duke and Arran, and the commissioners departed 
unharmed, though, shortly before, Andrew Melville and his nephew had both 
been advised to leave the town as they were obnoxious to the court. The 
younger Melville, who records the fact, states that it was Sir James Melville 
of Hallhill who thus warned them, and he was inclined to obey, but his uncle 
would not yield. 1 

From Perth Melville came to Edinburgh, perhaps in the train of the Duke of 
Lennox, who passed on to Dalkeith. Melville, who apparently at this time was 
a privy councillor, was fulfilling certain duties of justiciary over the shire of 
Linlithgow, when one morning, before he was out of bed, a gentleman came to 
him offering to make him the instrument to save the king from a plot against 
him. Melville was incredulous, but expressed more anxiety about the Duke of 
Lennox. His visitor, however, who desired to conceal his name, declared that 
the king was in danger, and he named the chief conspirators, omitting, accidentally 
or otherwise, the Earl of Gowrie. 2 Melville hastily rode to Dalkeith to consult 
Lennox, who sent a messenger to the king, and also to Arran, then at Kinneil. 
This, however, apparently precipitated matters, as the conspirators, fearing dis- 
covery, seized the king at Kuthven, while Arran reached his Majesty just in time 
to be himself placed in ward. 

This is nearly all that Melville relates of the bold stroke by which the Earl 
of Gowrie and others gained possession of the person of the king, and drove 
Lennox and Arran from the administration. Almost on the same page on which 
Melville records the success of the plot, he begins to tell by what means the 
king strove to free himself from the Iiuthven raiders, whose authority he felt 
to be irksome. The " Raid of Ruthven " took place on 22d August 1582, and 
ten months later, on the 27th June following, the king effected his counter 
revolution, having laid his plans very secretly some time before. He left Edin- 
burgh in May, much against the will of his advisers, under pretext of wishing to 
" tak a progresse," and went first to Linlithgow and thence to Falkland. 3 While 
there he summoned Melville to his counsels, sending a secret messenger to reveal 
his designs, and desiring assistance and advice in gaining his liberty. 

Melville was very unwilling to comply with this request, but finally consented. 
The king complained of his hard condition, to which Melville replied with his 
usual facility of giving advice, urging, however, that if the king freed himself, 

1 Diary of Mr. James Melville, nephew of known as a conspirator ; also that Ruthven 
Andrew Melville, Bannatyne ed. p. 94. House was made the scene of the conspiracy 

2 Melville alleges that Gowrie had just to embark Gowrie more deeply in the plot, 
newly been drawn into the plot, and was not 3 Calderwood, vol. iii. pp. 713, 714. 


he should be leuient in his dealings with Gowrie and his friends. When the 
king's plans were completed he rode quietly to St. Andrews, having summoned a 
number of lords favourable to the faction of Lennox and Arran to meet him 
there. Some of these, including the Earl of March, met him at Dairsie, at which 
meeting, says Melville, "his Maieste thocht himself at liberte, with gret joy and 
exclamation, lyk a burd flowen out of a kaige . . . thinking himself then sur 
anough." Melville himself, however, was far from sharing this confidence ; and 
if he is to be believed, it was greatly owing to his foresight and prudence that 
the enterprise was finally successful. The king was at first lodged in a place 
which was even less defensible than the palace of Falkland ; and it was only by 
much persuasion that Melville prevailed on him to spend the night in the castle 
of St. Andrews. Had he not done so, he might again have been seized, and even 
as it was, on the next day the retainers of the Gowrie faction crowded into the 
fortress well armed ; but such precautions were taken that their designs failed. 
The king's friends, who had been late in arriving, rallied round him so strongly 
that his safety was secured, and the Euthven administration came to an end, 
the lords of that party being forbidden to approach the court. For his services 
Melville was thanked publicly by the king in presence of the new council, as 
"the only instrument, under God, of his libertie." This publicity, however, 
was by no means agreeable to Melville, who declared to the king that there was 
sufficient ill-will against him already. 

r . The king and his new advisers were at first moderate in their dealings with 
the contrary party, Gowrie even remaining a member of the council. Arran held 
aloof from the court for a time, but soon began to intrigue for his return. His 
agent even applied to Melville, who was at this time in high favour, to influence 
the king on Arran's behalf. This Melville was reluctant to do, and in a private 
interview with the king, when his Majesty lamented the loss of former friends, 
and complained that the Earl of Arran was not allowed to come to him, Melville 
spoke freely of the earl as one of the worst instruments who could come about 
his sovereign. Arran, however, was admitted, and rapidly gained an ascendency 
over the king and council. The harsh measures which he proposed against the 
Euthven raiders were extremely displeasing to Melville, who opposed them 
strongly, and provoked a quarrel with Arran, which, however, delayed extremities 
somewhat. Melville was also at this time in the king's confidence about a letter 
from Queen Elizabeth protesting against the new government, and wrote a draft 
reply explaining the circumstances. Indeed, about this time he was offered but 
refused the post of secretary. 

One result of the jealousy between Melville and Arran was that the former 


was shut out as far as possible from access to the king. At this point his narra- 
tive is difficult to follow, as he places events in a wrong sequence, but his retire- 
ment from court was either very short or succeeded instead of preceding the 
arrival of Sir Francis Walsingham as English ambassador. Melville was sum- 
moned to attend upon him and welcome him in the king's name, and accom- 
panied him to Perth, where James then was. 1 Walsingham was well pleased to 
meet Melville, for they had been comrades abroad, and he refused other escort 
that they might see more of each other. He had an audience with the king, after 
some delay, for which, he writes, lie dealt " roundly " with Melville, and, according 
to the latter, was much impressed with the youthful monarch ; 2 but he refused to 
have any dealings with Arran, who, in revenge, cheated the ambassador at his 
departure by substituting a ring with a stone of crystal for the diamond worth 
700 crowns which the king had intended to give him. After Walsingham's 
departure Melville returned home, from which he was summoned by the king in the 
end of October 1583, to undertake a proposed embassy to England. But though 
he answered the call, he dissuaded the king from sending him on this mission. 

Melville again retired to his own house, as appears from two letters written 
by him from Hallhill to his friends, Henry Killigrew and Sir Francis Walsingham, 
one of them being in favour of his brother William, then with the Prince of 
Orange. 3 In the beginning of December a convention of estates met at Edin- 
burgh, and declared the Raid of Ruthven to be treason. When the king told 
Melville, who had not been present on the first day, the latter expressed his great 
regret, as he feared the measures taken would drive those affected to desperation. 
He further expostulated with the king about Arran, whose doing this was, urged 
sending the favourite into retirement for a time, and spoke so freely, that at last 
James left him in an angry mood. That came to pass which Melville predicted ; 
a coalition of the Earls of Mar, Angus, and others of the Gowrie faction did 
take place, and in the following April they seized Stirling Castle, but the sudden 
capture of the Earl of Gowrie thwarted their plans, and they escaped to England. 

The capture of Gowrie was followed not long afterwards by his execution, on 
2d May 1584. Affairs became somewhat more settled after this event, but as 
the death of Gowrie and the exile of the banished lords were distasteful to the 

1 Arran's return to court was on 5th factory from a political point of view. Cf. 
August 1583. Walsingham arrived in Edin- Walsingham's letters to Elizabeth. [Thorpe's 
burgh on 1st September, and left for Perth Calendar of State Papers, Scotland, vol. i. 
on the 7th. [Calderwood, vol. iii. pp. 722, pp. 455, 456.] 

724.] 3 Letters, dated Hallhill, 7th November 

2 Their interview, however, was not satis- 1583. Ibid. p. 461. 


English government, it was resolved to send Secretary Davison as an envoy to 
Scotland. Melville, as on former occasions, was despatched to the borders to 
meet and accompany him to court. He tells us nothing of their intercourse in his 
" Memoirs," but in a letter addressed to his brother Eobert he gives a minute 
account of their conversation. It is evident that Melville was commissioned to 
sound the ambassador as to the intentions of the English queen. From his letter, 
which is too long for quotation, it would appear that he pressed Davison hard 
with home-thrusts directed against Elizabeth's policy. He hinted it was a policy 
which sowed discord under a pretence of amity, and meddled with the factious 
subjects of a friendly king. He exposed the practices of some of these " busy 
factioners," and concluded with a plain statement that Elizabeth must love 
the king's friends and hate his enemies, if she desired friendship, adding with 
reference to the succession to the crown of England, that the king was young 
and could " abide upon anything God has provided for him." 1 

On reaching the Scottish court, Davison, in contrast to Walsingham's 
behaviour, but no doubt acting under instructions, devoted himself to Arran, and 
endeavoured to gain the favourite to the English interest. This conduct disgusted 
Melville, who commented upon it to the king, virtually charging Davison with 
double-dealing. While Davison was in Scotland Arran made an alleged discovery 
of a conspiracy to kill himself and others about the king. 2 It is apparently in 
reference to this that Melville states that he was advised to absent himself from 
court for a few days to escape the danger. He, however, warned the king, urging 
him to send Arran away, but in vain. Arran himself then, to Melville's surprise, 
sought an interview, and expressed a desire to be friendly, but the jealousies 
between them were too great, and the result was far from amicable. Parliament 
met on 22d August, within a few weeks after the alleged discovery, and 
pronounced sentence of forfeiture against the Earls of Angus, Mar, and other 
banished lords, and all who were prominent in the Eaid of Euthven. The king 
was much pleased with this, but when in a private interview he asked Melville's 
opinion, the latter regretted what had been done. He bade the king thank God, 
and not good management, for the comparative quiet which prevailed ; asserted 
that the banished lords would not rest, while many who now assisted Arran did 
so from fear only, and not for love, and that his doings really excited envy and 

1 Letter, dated June 6, 1584. Thorpe's 2 Examination of George Drummond of 

Calendar of State Papers, Scotland, vol. i. Blair, 31st July and 4th August 1584. 

p. 475; fully quoted in Tytler's History of Calderwood, vol. iv. pp. 169, 170. 
Scotland, 3d ed. vol. vi. pp. 390-392. 


It may seem strange that Melville was permitted to speak so freely regard- 
ing Arran, but it is evident that he was much respected by the king, to whose 
mother he had been a faithful servant. His counsels and warnings as to 
Arran were prophetic of the result. There can be no doubt the earl was 
hated ; the difficulty was to find an agent sufficiently bold and unscrupulous to 
bring about his ruin, but within a year from Melville's speech to the king 
Arran was in disgrace, as the result of the combined influence of the English 
ambassador and the intrigues of the Master of Gray. The means by which 
this was brought about have no special connection with the subject of this 
memoir, but Edward Wotton, the English envoy engaged in the affair was 
like so many other diplomates, an old acquaintance of Melville's. The story 
which the latter relates of Wotton is, however, intended to tell rather in favour 
of his cunning than his honesty, being the narrative of a plan proposed by 
Wotton when a young man to the Constable of France for the surprise and taking 
of the town of Calais. Remembering this fact, Melville warned the king against 
Wotton's skill in beguilement, but without effect. 

The ambassador came, and what with presents of horses, and his apparent 
passion for sporting and hunting, pastimes in which the king delighted, he 
fairly won the monarch's heart. All this of course was done with a purpose 
to gain James to conclude a settled union with England, but it had a side 
issue in which Melville played a busy part. While Wotton was in Scotland, three 
ambassadors arrived from Denmark, " a gret and magnifik ambassade ... a sex 
score of persones, in twa braue schippis." Melville, as usual, was deputed to 
wait upon them, but so occupied was the king with the delights presented to 
him by the English envoy that the Danes were much neglected, or as it is 
expressed, though the king wished to treat them honourably, they were " never- 
theles mishandled, ruffeled, triffelit, drifted and delayed ... to ther gret 
charges and miscontentement." The pre-occupation of the king left the Danes 
at the mercy of Arran and other courtiers who were hostile to their mission, 
which was nominally to buy back the islands of Orkney and Shetland, 
but really to negotiate a marriage between King James and one of the 
princesses of Denmark. Another cause of the disrespect shown to the envoys 
was the duplicity of Wotton, who, knowing that his mistress was opposed to such 
a marriage, filled the ear of James with evil stories of the Danish ambassadors, 
and while he visited them in an outwardly friendly manner, misrepresented 
the king's conduct and speech to them. 

As a result the ambassadors would probably have returned to their own 
king in high dudgeon at the treatment they received had Melville not 

vol. i. . xj 


interposed, and by his good offices secured an interview between King James 
and the Danes, which ended to the satisfaction of both parties. Even then, 
matters nearly miscarried. The king ordered a banquet to be made for the 
distinguished guests, but his controller and other officers were quietly for- 
bidden to prepare it. Melville's energy averted the insult thus intended, by 
persuading the Earl of March to prepare a great banquet in the king's name. 
This disconcerted the English ambassador, who, however, prevented the king 
being present ; but on Melville's explanation, James rose from his own dinner, 
went to the banquet and drank the healths of the King and Queen of Denmark 
and their envoys. The latter would then have been honourably dismissed, but 
Melville represented that there was no present prepared for them, upon which 
the king " was maruelous sory, and sayed they wald schame him, that had the 
handling of his affaires." The difficulty was got over in a characteristic manner. 
The Earl of Arran was just then ordered to leave the court, but ere his departure 
the king sent to desire him to lend him a great chain, weighing 750 crowns, to 
be given to the Danes, as to which Melville remarks, that if Arran refused the 
chain he lost the king, and in delivering it he lost the chain. The trinket 
thus obtained was divided into three parts, and the three Danish ambassadors 
were despatched to their own land rejoicing, and making many professions of 
amity between the two nations. 

Events in Scotland at this date, August 1585, had reached a crisis. The 
wiles of the English ambassador had triumphed so far that in a convention of 
estates at St. Andrews a league, offensive and defensive, had been completed with 
England, while Arran had been committed to ward on the pretext of concern in 
the death of Lord Russell, who had been slain in a fray on the borders. 1 The 
Master of Gray, who had been in England, hurried north and used all his efforts 
to effect the ruin of Arran and procure the release of the banished lords. After 
some diplomatic delays, Angus, Mar, and their companions in exile were allowed 
to leave England, and reached Berwick about the 17th October 1585, meeting 
there the English ambassador, who had become alarmed for his own safety. From 
Berwick they advanced into Scotland, and began what might be called their 
triumphal march towards Stirling Castle, where King James then was. 

It was at this juncture, as the banished lords were entering Scotland, that 

1 Arran was warded for three or four days alleged that he had made a promise to Queen 

in the castle of St. Andrews, and Melville Elizabeth to prevent James marrying for 

states that he was in fear of his life, which three years, that he might wed a lady of the 

made him call for Melville and others and English blood-royal, 
beg them to procure his freedom. He also 


Melville was summoned to the king. On liis arrival he informed the king of their 
reported arrival on the borders. An enterprise was projected to march against 
the banished lords, but this plan was defeated by the intrigues of those around 
the king. Melville himself was despatched on a feigned errand to Dunkeld, 
whither the Master of Gray had gone. According to Melville, the only benefit 
gained by his visit there was the delaying the Earl of Athole, who was ready 
to march to Stirling with a considerable force. Whether this array was to 
support the king or the banished lords does not appear, but meanwhile the latter 
had reached Stirling and assumed the government, Arran having escaped. When 
Melville returned to court he was well received by the king and also by the new 
council, and his opinion, which was always on the side of moderation, was sought 
after and followed as far as possible. 

As the party of the banished lords was favourable to the English alliance, 
negotiations to that end were proceeded with, and on 5th July 1586 a league 
between the two nations was duly confirmed. In regard to this, Melville states 
that the king wished to send him as an envoy to take the Queen of England's 
oath of confirmation, but that he was unwilling to go, as the league was an 
indirect breach of the bond with France. The king at first would take no 
excuse, but Kandolph, learning the king's purpose, used all his influence to 
prevent Melville's being sent. Randolph spoke much good of Melville, hav- 
ing known him in France and Italy, but they " schot at sindre markis," and 
the English envoy now alleged that Melville would not be acceptable to Eliza- 
beth at this time, because his brothers, Robert and Andrew, were both 
partisans of Queen Mary. The king remarked that he was never " esteamed 
a factioner," and refused to yield ; but Melville persuaded him to do so. Mel- 
ville also, at a later date, declined to undertake a proposed embassy to Spain. 
When King James made up his mind, in the year 1588, to marry Anna, second 
daughter of Frederick the Second, King of Denmark, then lately deceased, he 
was very anxious that Melville should be one of two ambassadors to go to Den- 
mark and conclude the arrangements. Melville, however, declined the honour, 
notwithstanding the king's urgent persuasions, and after much tedious and 
unnecessary delay, George Keith, Earl Marischal, was sent. 1 Again, at a later 

1 On 3d April 1589, about two months iv. p. 371]. The circumstances are not stated 
before the despatch of the Earl Marischal, in the Register, but appear to be those nar- 
Melville was appointed one of a commission rated by Mr. James Melville in his diary 
to inquire into and settle a controversy which [Bannatyne Club ed., pp. 182-184], when a 
had arisen between the University of St. partisan of Bishop Adamson wounded a pro- 
Andrews and the citizens, in which blood had fessor, William Walwood, and a tumult took 
been shed. [Register of Privy Council, vol. place in consequence. 


period, when preparations were being made for the reception of the queen and 
there were daily expectations of her arrival, Melville alleges that the king sent 
for him and his brother, Sir Robert, lamenting his " mishandled estate " and 
begging them to undertake his affairs. This they declined to do, beyond using 
their best efforts to prepare for receiving the queen honourably. The confi- 
dence thus shown by the king to Melville and his brother was displeasing to 
Chancellor Maitland, and nearly led to unpleasant consequences after the king's 
return from Norway. Indeed, according to Melville, he and his brother were 
much annoyed by court intrigues and plots against themselves and their credit 
with the king. 

Melville was appointed one of the queen's special attendants as a privy 
councillor and gentleman of her chamber, and on the occasion of her coronation 
he was raised to the honour of knighthood. 1 He tells us that when he was 
presented to her Majesty, the king praised him very much, commenting on his 
travels, his great experience, and his services to the late Queen of Scots, with a 
desire to make Queen Anna take a liking to her new servitor. Her Majesty, 
however, received the praise and also Melville himself somewhat coldly, and 
some days afterwards, with a curious appreciation of the situation, asked if he 
was ordained to be her keeper. To this Sir James replied that she was well 
descended and well brought up, and needed no keeper, but to be honourably 
served according to her rank. She then explained that some had striven to 
inspire her with disfavour against him. His answer was characteristic, that he 
was placed in her service to " instruct sic indiscret persones, and also to geue 
them gud exemple how to behaue themselues dewtifully and reuerently unto hir 
Maieste and to hald them a bak ; and that way to kep hir from ther raschnes 
and importunite." After this, Sir James devoted himself more particularly to 
attendance on the queen, with which, he observes, she appeared to be satisfied. 

Sir James Melville was in the palace of Holyrood on the night of the 27th 
December 1591, when Francis Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, attempted to obtain 
possession of the king's person. The earl was incited to this enterprise by some 
who were jealous of Chancellor Thirlestane, and they secured him and his 
followers a ready entrance to the palace through a stable, belonging, it is said, 
to the Duke of Lennox. Douglas of Spott, however, one of Bothwell's men, 
alarmed the household by an altercation with the porters about some of his 
servants who were in ward there, and the king had time to escape to a place 
of security. Bothwell attacked the queen's rooms, where he expected to find 
the king, and fore-hammers were used against the door. The chancellor's quarters 
1 On 17tli May 1590. CaWerwood, vol. v. p. 95. 


were also beset, but he defended himself manfully, and the assailants were kept 
at bay, until succour arrived from the Canongate, Andrew Melville, brother of 
Sir James, leading the rescuers in through the chapel, whereupon Bothwell and 
his accomplices fled. 

When Bothwell first entered, Melville was sitting with the Duke of Len- 
nox, having just finished supper. The duke at once rose, drew his sword and 
rushed out, but he bad no assistance, and as the place was full of " unfriends " 
the two were compelled to fortify the doors and stairs with boards, forms and 
stools, and " be spectatoris of that strange hurly-burly for the spaice of ane hour ; 
behalding with torch light fourth of the dukis gallerie, their reilling, their 
rombling with halbertis, the clakking of their colveringis and pistolles, the 
duntting of melis [striking of mallets] and forehammers, and their crying for 
justice." During the mel6e the chancellor passed by a private stair to the duke's 
department and desired admission. The duke, acting by Melville's advice, ex- 
pressed a wish that the chancellor's men should dispute the lower door as long 
as they could, though he offered to admit himself. But the other was offended 
at this reply and returned to his own rooms. Sir James Melville adds that he 
and his brother Sir Robert had, two days before, received warning of some such 
enterprise, and had done their best to prevent the king exposing himself, but 
in vain. 

It is clear from what Melville says that he himself was one of those in opposi- 
tion to Lord Thirlestane, whom he charges directly or indirectly with all or most 
of the abuses in the government. For some time after the attempt by Bothwell 
the court appears to have been in much confusion. The queen sided with Both- 
well's faction, and the chancellor was forced to retire for a time. Melville him- 
self was absent for a season, and on his return to court, found his brother out of 
favour as well as the chancellor. Sir James, however, succeeded in rehabilitating 
him in the good graces of the king. Sir James and his brother were both members 
of the privy council, which was reconstituted in June of this year, 1592, and 
were no doubt consenting parties to the act of parliament which established the 
kirk, and has been called the Magna Charta of Scottish Presbyterianism. 1 

Calderwood and others allege that this act, as it was passed by the influence 
of the chancellor, was intended to win over the ministers to his party in 
opposition to Bothwell, who was still a source of much disquiet. A few weeks 
later he made another attempt upon the king's person. On this occasion his 
Majesty was at Falkland, and as there were reports that an attempt was to 
be made, he was advised to take measures accordingly, but refused to do 
1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. iii. pp. 541, 542, 562, 563. 


so. Sir James Melville asserts that had it not been for the vigilance of his 
brother, Sir Robert, and the energetic behaviour of one of his servants, the king 
and his household would have been wholly taken by surprise. As it was, Both- 
well and his men besieged the place for some hours on the morning of the 28th 
June 1592, and only fled because they were afraid the country people would rise 
against them. Melville did his best to rouse the country for the relief of the 
king, but he and those he assembled received intimation that the earl and his 
followers had made their escape. 

The " Memoirs," as preserved, come to an abrupt close not long after this, 
the chief remaining incidents narrated being Bothwell's invasion of Holyrood in 
July 1593, and the baptism of Prince Henry in 1594. We learn, however, from 
other sources that Melville continued about the court, more or less in attendance 
on the privy council, and occasionally engaged on special commissions. Thus 
in March 1593, he and some other gentlemen of Fife were appointed arbiters in a 
dispute between the magistrates of St. Andrews and a number of the townsmen. 
The magistrates, in consequence of the poverty and distressed state of the burgh, 
which had been visited by the plague, finding themselves unable to preserve the 
necessary public works of the place from decay, had resolved to lease out certain 
of the burgh lands in acre lots. To this many of the citizens were opposed, with- 
out reason, as the magistrates averred, and the matter was laid before the privy 
council. The arbiters went to St. Andrews, and spent three days there, but 
separated without coming to a decision, and the subject was again laid before 
the privy council. The complaint this time was directed against the magistrates 
and others, and the same arbiters were reappointed to convene on the 23d of 
April 1593, but the result is not recorded. 1 On the following day the General 
Assembly met at Dundee, whither Sir James Melville went as a commissioner 
on behalf of the king to arrange certain articles. These chiefly related to the 
recent act of parliament, and the appointment of chaplains to the royal house- 
hold, and were agreed to by the assembly. 2 

Bothwell's next attempt to gain access to the king in Holyrood need not be 
detailed here, except as regards Melville's share in the matter. The earl obtained 
entrance very early on the morning of the 24th July 1593, and finding the king 
in such a condition that he could neither fight nor flee, protested that he only 
came to seek pardon of his Majesty, and made a formal submission. Meanwhile, 
though the palace gates were beset by Bothwell's retainers, an alarm had been 
given, and the provost of Edinburgh and many of the townsmen in armour had 

1 Register of the Privy Council, vol. v. - Calderwood's Historie, vol. v. pp. 242- 

pp. 56, 61. 245. 


rushed down to the king's rescue. Among others came Sir James Melville, who 
called up to the king's window to ask of his welfare. The king came to the 
window and said all would be well enough ; that he had agreed with Bothwell on 
certain conditions, which were to be put in writing. He further bade the armed 
citizens wait for a short time, but they soon returned home. Melville was, at a 
later date, called in to advise the king how to act in the new state of affairs. 
With some difficulty, an agreement was come to, that Bothwell should be restored 
to his estates, which had been forfeited, and that both he and the opposite faction 
should for the time leave the court. Melville also refers to the later proceedings 
affecting the earl, but the Memoirs fail at this point. 

The baptism of Prince Henry was celebrated with some magnificence at 
Stirling Castle on 30th August 1594. Previous to the ceremony Sir James was 
much employed in providing for the reception and proper entertainment of the 
various foreign ambassadors, especially those of Denmark and the Netherlands. 
He acted as interpreter when the ambassadors were presented to the queen, 
and also, at her desire, received from them the costly presents which they 
brought for the royal infant. Among other gifts he mentions great cups of 
massive gold, brought by the ambassadors of the Netherlands, two of which in 
particular were so heavy that he could scarcely lift them. He adds, however, 
that " they wer schone melted and spendit, I mean sa many as wer of gold, 
quhilkis suld haue bene keped in store to the posterite," and he implies that this 
was done to feed the rapacity of some of the courtiers. 

In 1595 he again acted as a messenger from the king to the General 
Assembly, which visited the unfortunate Bothwell with excommunication. 1 
In October of the same year Chancellor Thirlestane died. His office was 
not filled up, but in January of the following year the king appointed eight 
councillors, with very absolute powers, to manage his affairs, who, from their 
number, were known as the Octavians. Although this appointment is beyond 
the date at which Sir James Melville actually closes his memoirs, he has, under 
the date of 1589, given the substance of various advices tendered by him to the 
king. The advice as written must have been given at different periods, and in 
one paragraph Sir James refers to the Octavians. The king, he says, told him 
that in appointing them he had followed his advice, but Melville appears to 
have objected to their administration, and records their demission of office with- 
out regret. 

In December 1597 Melville's pensions of £100 and 500 merks, formerly 
granted by Queen Mary, were ratified of new by the king in parliament, with an 

1 Calderwood, vol. v. p. 365. 


augmentation of £300 for his fee. In Juty 1599 he was one of a commission 
for providing men for military service, appointed probably in consequence of a 
fear entertained by the king that he might have to fight for his rights to the 
crown of England. 1 In July 1600 he was sworn in as a member of the privy 
council, which had been reconstituted in 1598, his previous attendances having 
apparently been by special favour or desire of the king. 2 About the same period 
he, with other tenants and feuars of crown lands in Fifeshire, was summoned 
by the king's treasurer and advocate to pay rent on a higher rate of assess- 
ment than their charters showed; but their claims were settled by an act of 
parliament in November of that year, which declared the rental to be correctly 
fixed. The lands feued by Sir James were Hallhill and Murefield. 3 

It is to be regretted that Sir James did not continue his memoirs down to 
the year 1600, as he might have left on record his opinion as to the strange 
eventful history of the Govvrie conspiracy. Though evidently not in personal 
attendance on the king at the time, Sir James was, probably as a privy councillor, 
present at the examination of some of the witnesses. Sir James was present 
at a meeting of council on 21st August 1600, when orders were given for 
publishing the day of thanksgiving for the king's escape, but after that date he 
disappears from the diets of council, and apparently from public record generally. 
There is, however, evidence from a private source that he remained in the 
service of the royal household until the departure of King James to take posses- 
sion of the English throne. The king earnestly desired him to accompany the 
court to London, holding out prospects of advancement there, but Melville 
declined the promised honours, and, being now well advanced in years, desired 
permission to spend the rest of his days in retirement. At a later period, how- 
ever, he found himself in duty bound to wait on King James in Eugland, where he 
was graciously received. He attended there some weeks " humbly giving," we are 
told, " his Majesty his best advice," but no allurements of the court could induce 
him to forego his intentions of retiring from public life. He therefore returned 
home, and appears to have employed his remaining years in composing his 
memoirs for the benefit of his son, to whom the preface is particularly addressed. 4 
It has been supposed that he continued the narrative of his life to the time of 
the king's departure from Scotland, but this is uncertain, and the " Memoirs," as 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 4 Preface, Bannatyne Club edition, p. xxi. 
vol. iv. pp. 156, 188. "Epistle to Reader," appended to first edi- 

2 Register of Privy Council, vol. vi. p. 130, tion in 1683, by George Scott of Pitlochie, 
14th July 1600. the author's grandson. Cf. also Memoirs, 

3 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, pp. 1-7. 
vol. iv. p. 251. 


at present known, break off abruptly at a point not later than the year 1597. 
He survived his visit to England for some years, dying at the age of eighty-two 
on 1 3th November 1617, and was buried in the churchyard of Collessie. His 
wife, Christina Boswell, was alive in 1589, but the date of her death has not 
been ascertained. 

Sir James Melville had issue, so far as is known, two sons and two daughters. 
One of the daughters was Elizabeth, who became the wife of John Colville, for 
some years Commendator of Culross. She is said to have been highly accom- 
plished, but still more eminent for her piety and for her stout adherence to the 
persecuted church of her country. It was she who wrote to Rigg of Aithernie 
when he was confined in Blackness Castle in 1624 that " the darkness of 
Blackness was not the blackness of darkness." 1 She was the ancestress of the 
present Lord Colville of Culross. 

The other daughter, Margaret, became the second wife of the well-known 
statesman and patron of literature, Sir John Scott of Scotstarvit. By him she 
had an only son, George Scott, designated of Pitlochie. It was he who first issued, 
in 1683, a printed edition of his grandfather's "Memoirs." He was, in 1677, 
confined in the Bass for adherence to presbyterianism, but was liberated in 1684, 
and in 1685 sailed for New Jersey in America, with his wife, a daughter of Rigg 
of Aithernie, his son-in-law, named Johnston, and a number of covenanters, whom 
the privy council had ordered to be transported to the plantations. Many died 
on the passage, including Scott and his wife. 2 

The second son of Sir James was Mr. Robert Melville, who was named in the 
will of the second Lord Melville as a legatee of 1000 merks. He was minister 
of the parish of Simprin, in Berwickshire, from 1641 to 1652, about which date he 
died, leaving a widow, Catherine Melville, a son, John, and a daughter, Margaret.* 
Sir James Melville's elder son was James Melville, who was retoured heir to 
him in the lands of Prinlaws on 14th April 1618. 4 He is first named as receiv- 
ing charters from his father of the lands of Hallhill, Murefield, and Pathcondie 
in 1583. He also, in 1589, obtained a crown charter of resignation to his father 
and mother in liferent and himself in fee. 5 In 1636 he was retoured heir of 
line to his cousin Robert, second Lord Melville, in the lands of Nether- grange, or 
mains of Wester Kinghorn, the manor called the Castle of Burntisland, the mills 

1 Select Biographies. Wodrow Society, 3 Fasti Ecclesife Scoticanse, part ii. pp. 
vol. i. p. 342. 448, 449. 

4 Fife Retours, No. 275. 

2 Wodrow's History, folio edition, vol. ii. 5 Old Inventories of Hallliill, etc., in Mel- 
pp. 9, 481, 565. ville Charter-chest. 

VOL. I. X 


called the sea-mills of Burntisland, with the east quarter of the lands of 
Wester Kinghorn, all in the regality of Dunfermline. 1 Previous to this he sold 
his lands of Pathcondie and Murefield to his cousin, but retained Hallhill. 2 In 
1638 he received a crown confirmation of the lands of Burntisland and others, 
which was ratified by parliament in 1641. There was opposition made to his 
charter by the bailies of the burgh of Burntisland, but Melville declared that his 
grant in no way included the burgh, its port or privileges. 3 The date of his 
death has not been ascertained. The name of his wife was Catherine Learmonth, 
and they had issue, so far as known, two sons, the first of whom was Sir James 
Melville of Hallhill and Burntisland, who succeeded his father, while the second 
son was named Robert, but of him nothing further has been ascertained. 

Sir James Melville, the third of Hallhill, was also known as of Burntisland. 
He married, about 1645, Margaret Farcpihar. He is referred to several times 
as a member of various committees of parliament between 1644 and 1661. 4 He 
and his father appear to have sustained considerable losses during that period, 
and, to meet his liabilities, Sir James sold the barony of Burntisland to General 
James Wemyss, while after his death Hallhill was adjudged to George, Lord 
Melville, in payment of debt. He died in the year 1664. Two sons at least 
survived him. The eldest of these was James Melville, from whom the estate of 
Hallhill was adjudged in 1675. 5 He probably died without issue. The other 
son was Gilbert Melville, who entered the church and became, in 1688, minister 
of Arngask, from which, in 1694, he was translated to Glendevon. He demitted 
his office in 1709.° In 1714 he was retoured heir-special to his father, Sir 
James Melville of Hallhill, and to his uncle, Robert, brother of Sir James, in ten 
acres of the east quarter of Wester Kinghorn. 7 Nothing further has been ascer- 
tained regarding either of these descendants of Sir James Melville. 

1 22d July 1636, Fife Retours, No. 539. 5 Writ in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Old Inventory in Melville Charter-chest. ,_,._,. _ . . 

, . . . . , _ .. , . „ ,, , b Fasti Ecclesue Scoticanre, part iv. pp. 

* Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, _„_ 

vol. v. pp. 435, 550. 

* Ibid. vol. vi., parts T. and n., passim; 7 Index to Service of Heirs, 1710-1719, 
vol. vii. p. 206. p. 18. 


Sir Andrew Melville of Garvock, Master of the Household 
to Queen Mary and King James the Sixth, 1567-1617. 

Jane Kennedy, his first Wife. 
Elizabeth Hamilton, his second Wife. 

Andrew Melville, the seventh son of Sir John Melville of Eaith, entered the 
personal service of Queen Mary, and in February 1567 she granted to him for his 
good service, as her " lovit servitour," a pension for life of £200 Scots yearly. 1 
This gift was made only three days after the murder of Darnley, and in the 
troublous times which followed Melville adhered closely to his royal mistress. His 
name is not attached to the bond signed by the Hamiltons and others for defence 
of the queen after her escape from Lochleven Castle, but he and his brother, 
Robert, were in the queen's forces at the battle of Langside. They were taken 
prisoners, but appear to have been favoured, as three of their brothers (probably 
John, James, and Walter) were in the victorious army. 2 

After the defeat at Langside and the queen's flight to England, and when, 
in 1570, his nephew, Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, who was captain of 
Edinburgh Castle, declared for the queen, Melville joined him and entered the 
fortress. For this and other causes he was, in the following year, forfeited by 
the parliament held at Stirling by the Regent Lennox. 3 He was probably less a 
soldier than a courtier, and in November of the same year, 1571, he acted as an 
envoy between Grange and Secretary Maitland and Lord Hunsdon, who had been 
sent by Queen Elizabeth to Berwick to gain over the former, if possible, to the 
king's party. 4 In his instructions the two leaders explained the difficulties of their 
position, and proposed a government by nobles from both factions in Scotland; 
but this not being acceded to, the negotiations failed, and the country continued 
to suffer from what has been described as one of the bitterest civil wars on 
record. Andrew Melville remained in Edinburgh Castle till its surrender, being 
one of the small garrison who resolved to defend it to the last when besieged by 
an English force in May 1573. 5 

He then went to England, and became master of the household to the exiled 
queen, being referred to in January 1585 as negotiating about some plate, doubt- 

1 Registrant Secreti Sigilli, lib. xxxvi. 3 Memoirs of Sir James Melville, p. 226 ; 
fol. iii. Calderwood's Historie, vol. iii. p. 137. 

2 Report of the battle of Langside in the 4 Calendar of State Papers, Scotland, vol. i. 
State Paper Office. Tytler's History, vol. vi. p. 333. 

pp. 470, 471. 5 Memoirs of Sir James Melville, p. 254. 


less for her Majesty, and in October of the same year as certifying a receipt 
for 2000 crowns, a marriage gift from the Queen of Scots to Gilbert Curll and 
Barbara Moubray, two of her attendants. 1 He continued in the household of 
Queen Mary until her death, attended her during her trial on 14th October 
1586, and took an affecting farewell of her on the morning of her execution. 
He had been excluded from the queen's presence for some weeks, and when they 
met, he, with tears, deplored her sad fate. She embraced him, praising his fidelity, 
which she regretted it was not now in her power to recompense. She would, 
she said, leave that to others, and, as a last service, bade him carry to Scotland a 
faithful report of her carriage in her misfortunes. When, with renewed manifesta- 
tions of grief, he replied that such would be the most doleful tidings he had ever 
had to carry, that his queen and mistress was dead, she said to him, " You should 
rather rejoice that the end of Mary Stuart's troubles is at hand. Thou knowest, 
Melville, that this world is only vanity, full of troubles and miseries. Tell them 
that I died a Catholic, firm in my religion, a Scotchwoman, and true to France. 
May God pardon those who have sought my death. He who is the judge of secret 
thoughts, and of human actions, knows my motives, and that my desire has always 
been that Scotland and England should be united. Remember me to my son, and 
tell him that I have done nothing to prejudice his throne or sovereign power, even 
when forced thereto by my enemies." With difficulty she then prevailed on her 
guards to permit Melville to attend her at the scaffold, and he bore her train to 
the foot of its steps. 2 

After the death of the queen, Melville made preparations to return to Scot- 
land, but was detained in England for several months. In the afternoon of the 
day of the queen's execution, Melville and her other servants met to hear her 
will read, but although there were bequests to each, the amount bequeathed to 
him has not been ascertained. The following morning the late queen's household 
assembled to offer prayers for her repose, but the keeper of the castle forbade 
them to offer mass in any form, an order to which Melville acceded, being a Pro- 
testant, but the other members of the household were aggrieved. Melville attended 
the removal of Queen Mary's remains to Peterborough Cathedral in August 1587, 
and took part in the funeral pageant. After this he and his fellow-servants 
were detained in London for fifteen days, subjected to much anxiety and expense, 
and were objects of public curiosity. At last passports were given to them, and 
they apparently went to France before passing to Scotland. 3 

1 Calendar of State Papers, Scotland, vol. ii. 3 Vita Maria? Reginse Scotorum, by Samuel 
pp. 962, 978. Jebb, vol. ii. pp. (534-636, 646, 647, 659, 660 ; 

2 Tytler's History, vol. vii. pp. 74, 116. Teulet's Papiers, etc., tome ii. p. 876. 


At what date Melville reached the northern kingdom is not clear ; but he 
had probably entered the service of King James the Sixth as one of the masters 
of the household before 10th September 1588, when the king bestowed on him a 
pension for life of four hundred merks yearly from the temporalities of the abbacy 
of Crossraguel in Ayrshire. To this were added eight chalders of oats yearly from 
the bishopric of St. Andrews, and the whole gift was ratified by parliament and 
exempted from the king's revocation, and also from the annexation of church lands. 1 
In 1590, on the occasion of the coronation of Queen Anna of Denmark, Melville 
received £200 to provide suitable clothing. 2 In the following year, during one 
of Both well's attacks on the palace of Holyrood, Melville distinguished himself by 
bringing a number of armed citizens to the rescue of their Majesties, and was 
nearly shot in the confusion. 3 In 1593 he received on behalf of the king the 
sum of 2000 merks, a fine exacted from Patrick, Lord Gray, for his concern 
in the abduction of Katherine Carnegie, a daughter of John Carnegie of that ilk. 4 
In connection with the baptism of the king's eldest son, Prince Henry, at Stirling 
Castle, in the following year, Melville was charged with the receiving and expen- 
diture of the sums of money and other contributions of the king's loyal subjects 
towards the festivities. 5 

In 1598, Andrew Melville became involved in some disputes with neighbouring 
proprietors in Fife, and both he and they were bound under heavy penalties not to 
molest each other. 6 After this he received the honour of knighthood, which 
was probably conferred by King James on his accession to the throne of Eng- 
land, and just before his departure from Scotland. 7 Sir Andrew Melville did 
not accompany his royal master, but appears to have retired to his own estate, 
to which, in the year 1604, he added considerably. He already possessed the 
small property of Garvock-wood, in the parish of Dunfermline, held of 
his brother, Sir Robert Melville of Murdochcairnie, on which he built a 
mansion-house, and in the year named he purchased from various proprietors 
separate portions of an adjoining estate, South Fod. His lands of Garvock 
and South Fod were secured to him and his second wife by a charter from 
Queen Anna in 1608, they being included in her jointure lands of the regality of 

1 5th June 1592, Acts of the Parliaments of 5 Register of Privy Council, vol. v. p. 152. 
Scotland, vol. iii. p. 602 ; vol. iv. pp. 94, 156. 6 Ibid. pp. 695-697. 

2 Marriage of James the Sixth. Bannatyne 7 According to the treasurer's accounts, 
Club, App. p. 17- Andrew Melville was still unknighted on 1st 

3 Memoirs of Sir James Melville, p. 398. April 1603, when he was receiving £125 
* Register of the Privy Council, vol. v. pp. a year for livery. In 1604, however, he is 

44, 54 ; Calderwood's History, vol. v. p. 252. referred to in charters as Sir Andrew Melville. 


Dunfermline. 1 In the same year he received from King James, through the privy 
council, a mandate requiring him, with others who had formerly been of the royal 
household, to attend upon the Duke of Wurtemberg, who then paid a visit to 
Scotland. The duke was to be lodged in the royal palace at the king's charges, 
and waited upon in all things by the former officers of the royal household. 
Calderwood states that the duke, " a young man of comelie behaviour," was 
convoyed from place to place by noblemen, by the king's direction, and well 
entertained. 2 

Sir Andrew Melville survived his eldest brother, John Melville of Raith, and 
is named in the inventory of the latter's effects, in 1606, as a creditor to the 
extent of £30. 3 In 1611 King James bestowed on him a considerable pension. 
In his letter to the Scottish commissioners of rents, authorising the payment, 
the king writes, " Whereas Sir Androe Melvill of Garvocke, knight, having 
for a long whyle, abone fortie yeares at least, served most dewtifully our 
mother of most worthie memorie, and sensyne our selfe also, for many yeares 
before our coming from that kingdome, and willing that now in his old age 
he should have some testimonie of our favour as a remembrance and rewarde 
for his services past, therefore we have graunted vnto him during lyfe a 
pension of twelve hundreth pounds Scotts money ... as lykewise we have 
thought meitt to will yow to make payement hereafter to the said Sir Androe the 
some of fyve hundreth marks Scotts money as for his fie of being one of our 
maister houshaldis there, which we will to be continewed and payed from hence- 
forth during his lyfetyme, according as Sir Michaell Elphinston, knight, another 
of our said maister househaldis, haith in tyme past and sail hereafter in lyke sorte 
have the same." 4 This pension, however, was paid very irregularly, as appears 
from a warrant issued in 1 62 6 in favour of Sir Andrew Melville's widow. 5 

In June 1 6 1 4 he was cautioner for the executor of his brother, William Melville, 
Lord Tongland, and also for the executor of that brother's only son, while in 1615 

1 He purchased one-eighth of South Fod 2 Register of Privy Council, vol. viii. pp. 

from Sir Robert Halket of Pitfirrane, on 11th 52S, 529; Calderwood's Historie, vol. vi. p. 

February 1604; one-fourth from George Curie 7S3. The young duke was in mourning for 

of Craig-luscar, on 9th February 1604 ; and his father, whom he succeeded in this year, 
three-eighths from William Walwood, por- 
tioner of Touch, on 18th January 1604, and 3 Vo1 - m - of this work > P- 150- 

24th August 1606, in all which he was . „ . , ,„ , . , . _, 

6 ' •■,.-, Original Warraut in volume of Royal 

duly infeft. Queen Anna's charter is dated r , .... .„ „ . „ .. _, ' 

f „,.,,,, ,„,, Letters, 1601-1616, in H.M. General Register 

14th Mav 1608, and sasine followed on Utn „ »-,,. , , 

- ' House, Edinburgh. 

February 1613. [Laing Charters, in Univer- 
sity Library, Edinburgh.] s Register of Royal Letters, vol. i. p. 96. 


he was retoured heir to his brother's daughter, Agnes Melville, in a small annual 
rent from the lands of Prinlaws. 1 He was one of the masters of the household 
named in connection with King James's visit to Scotland in 1G17, but apparently 
he did not long survive that date, though the exact year of his death has not been 
ascertained. He was twice married. His first wife was Jane Kennedy, who, like 
himself, had been in the household of Queen Mary, and attended her in her last 
moments. Jane Kennedy went to France and returned to Scotland in the early 
part of 1588. Whether Sir Andrew Melville and she were then married is not 
certain, but their union was not of long duration. In October 1589, when King 
James the Sixth expected his Queen from Norway, he summoned his mother's 
former maid of honour to attend upon Queen Anna. Jane Kennedy promptly 
answered the royal message, and was not deterred by stormy weather from 
attempting to cross between Burntisland and Leith, but during the passage a 
ship driven by the storm collided with the ferry boat, which was swamped, and 
the lady and the other passengers, except two, were drowned. 2 

Sir Andrew Melville married, secondly, Elizabeth Hamilton, of what family 
has not been ascertained. She survived her husband, and was still alive in 1626. 
By her he had at least two sons. 3 

Sir George Melville, under master of the household to King Charles the 
Second in 1650 and 1651. He married and had issue, as appears from 
a letter from James Melville of Hallhill to John, Lord Melville, in 
1651, 4 but no further details have been ascertained. 
Henry, named as a legatee of 2000 merks in the will of his cousin, Robert, 
second Lord Melville of Monimail, who died in 1635. 5 

1 Commissariot of Edinburgh, Testaments, abuses of the ferries, notes among other in- 
vol. 48, 17th June 1614 ; Retours for Fife- stances "the loss of Mrs. Jane Kennedie and 
shire, No. 236, 1st February 1615. £10,000 in goods, jewels, etc., with thirty per- 
sons, run down between Leithand Burntisland, 

2 Memoirs of Sir James Melville, Banna- which happened through drunkenness and 
tyne Club, pp. 369, 370. This storm was one without storm." [Letter in regard to the sea 
of those supposed to be raised by witches to ferries, c. 1636. Historical Commission Re- 
prevent the queen's sailing to Scotland. [Cf. port, No. ix., Part II., p. 252.] 

also Piteairn's Criminal Trials, vol. i. pp. 218, 3 In the royal warrant of pension in 1626, 

237, etc.] It would appear that the boat Elizabeth Hamilton is described as a widow 

carried jewels and other gifts intended for with ten children, but this may be a mistake, 

presentation to her Majesty. Sir James Mel- or the others may have died young, 

ville distinctly says the weather was stormy, 4 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 23, 232-234. 

but a writer in 1636, commenting on the 5 Testameut in Melville Charter-chest. 


William Melville, Commendator of Tongland and Lord Tonoland, 


Anna Lindsay, his Wife. 

William Melville, the eighth son of Sir John Melville of Eaith and Helen Napier, 
is usually described as their fourth son, but as he does not appear publicly till 
about 1 584-, it is probable he was younger, and may indeed have been born after 
the death of his oldest brother William, but this is not certain. In 1575, 
a witness to a charter by James Johnstone of Elphinstone is " William Melville " 
who was probably the subject of this notice as Johnstone was his brother-in-law. 1 
He appears to have been well educated, perhaps on the Continent, and is de- 
scribed by his brother, Sir James, as a good scholar, speaking perfectly Latin, High 
Dutch or German, Flemish, and French. 2 From a letter by Sir James, in 
November 1583, to Mr. Henry Killigrew, we learn that his brother was then 
in the service of the Prince of Orange, but was not well treated. 3 In this 
connection a letter addressed by Maurice, Count of Nassau, to King James the 
Sixth, in 1586, is of interest. The prince states that a " Sieur de Melville" had 
been in charge of his person for several years, by command of his father, the 
famous William, Prince of Orange. This Sieur de Melville, having visited 
foreign nations, desired in that year to retire to his native country, which he 
did with letters of recommendation from Prince Maurice. 4 If this Sieur de 
Melville be identical with the subject of this notice, his linguistic accomplish- 
ments and other courtly qualifications would be explained. The date of the 
letter agrees with William Melville's first appearance in Scottish record. 

William Melville was appointed an ordinary lord of session about the year 
1587, and he was also in 1588 provided to the spirituality of the abbacy of 
Tongland, in Galloway. 5 He had been appointed commendator some time 
previously. This was probably intended as a reward for his services in going 
to France, where he was commissioned to make acquaintance with the Princess of 
Navarre. This embassy took place while negotiations were going on with Denmark 
for a union between King James the Sixth and a princess of Denmark. Overtures 
had been made in that direction before, but had failed. In the beginning of 

1 Registrum Magui Sigilli, vol. iv. No. 2533. Prince Maurice, 13th March 15S6, in the 

The date is doubtful and may be earlier. Earl of Haddington's Charter-chest ; cf. 

3 Memoirs of Sir James Melville, p. 365. Calderwood's History, vol. iv. p. 394. 

3 Thorpe's Calendar of State Papers, vol. i. 

[i. 461. 5 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

4 Contemporary copy of original letter from vol. iv. pp. 307, 308. 


June 1587, however, negotiations were renewed by King James, but while his 
ambassadors were in Denmark, the Sieur du Bartas arrived in Scotland as a 
private envoy from King Henry of Navarre, afterwards Henry the Fourth 
of France. What passed between King James and Du Bartas is not recorded, 
but one result was the embassy referred to, which was undertaken by the com- 
mendator of Tongland. He was well received and entertained by the King of 
Navarre, and also gained the favour of the young princess, returning to Scot- 
land with her portrait and a good report of her rare cpjalities. In the end, 
as is well known, King James, having received the portraits of both the French 
and Danish princesses, decided on marrying the latter. He desired Sir James 
Melville to pass to Denmark and conclude all arrangements, and also commis- 
sioned the commendator to accompany his brother. But, as formerly stated, Sir 
James had no desire to undertake the mission, and it was finally discharged by 
the Earl Marischal of Scotland. 1 The two brothers, however, figured prominently 
in the preparations made for the queen's expected home-coming in October 1589. 2 
The grant made to William Melville in 1588 included the profits from the 
churches of Troqueer, Tongland, Sandwick (now part of Borgue, Minnigaff, and 
Leswalt), with those of Inch and " Gretoun " annexed ; in addition to which he 
was assigned a yearly pension of £616, 18s. 4d. Scots, from the temporalities of 
the bishopric of Galloway, then in the hands of the Crown, the grants being 
afterwards ratified by parliament. 3 Three years later the king conferred on 
him the benefice and abbacy of the monastery of Kilwinning, in Ayrshire, 
with jurisdiction of regality over the lands, lordships, etc., thereof. This the 
commendator, in the following year, resigned into the king's hands for a regrant 
to himself, his heirs and assignees, and on 17th May 1592 a charter in his favour 
passed the great seal. This writ narrates his services to the king in dealing with 
various princes and nobles beyond the kingdom. Some difficulty was experienced 
by the new lord of Kilwinning in taking possession, owing to the non-delivery of 
the register-book of the abbey, as well as of the abbacy itself, which was still in 
the hands of the widow and son of Alexander Cunningham, the former com- 
mendator. In February 1592, William Melville raised an action against these 
parties for delivery of the abbacy, the register-book, and the seal of the chapter, 
which was also missing. He afterwards departed from the claim as regarded the 
register, and decree accordingly was pronounced against the defenders. Melville, 
however, did not long retain the barony of Kilwinning, but in 1603 sold it, 

1 Memoirs, ut supra, pp. 364-366, 368. 3 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

vol. iv. pp. 307, 30S. Dates of grants, 7th 

2 Calderwood's History, vol. v. p. 63. November and 8th December 15S8. 
VOL. I. Y 


including the lands of Lyandcross and Skaimmerland, to Hugh Montgomerie, fifth 
Earl of Eglinton, whose lineal representative, the present Earl of Eglinton and 
Winton, is still in possession. 1 

William Melville, although a senator of the college of justice and a privy 
councillor, does not appear frequently on public record, though he seems to have 
taken his share in the events of his time. He subscribed the lease by which, in 
January 1594, the mint was leased to the town' of Edinburgh for a certain term, 
at a rental of 110,000 merks, payable at the rate of 1000 merks weekly. This 
lease was entered into shortly before the birth of Prince Henry, and doubtless 
with a view to provide the royal household with ready money in view of that 
event. The baptism of the young prince followed in due course, and preparations 
for the ceremony were begun months before it took place. Lord Tongland was 
one of those specially appointed to attend upon and entertain the foreign ambas- 
sadors who were invited. This he and his brothers did much to the satisfaction 
of the guests, who expressed their contentment, greatly to the king's pleasure. 2 

The commendator also was present at various conventions of estates and less 
often at meetings of the privy council, of which he was admitted a regular 
member in June 1607. 3 He was in 1594 made responsible for payment of the 
taxation on account of Prince Henry's baptism, collected in his locality, and in 
the same year he was named as an assessor to the justices of his neighbourhood for 
more effectual punishment of criminals. 4 He also appears on two occasions as 
taking part in ecclesiastical politics, and though the part he is recorded as taking 
was indeed insignificant, the questions at issue were important. They arose out 
of the determination of King James, which of late years had been more and more 
openly expressed, to interfere in the government of the Church, and secure the 
establishment of an order of prelates. This desire, though not stated, was implied 
in a resolution put to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland at Dundee 
in March 1598, and carried, to the effect that the ministry of the Church should 
have a vote in parliament. Against this and the conclusions following on it, Mr. 
John Davidson, minister of Prestonpans, had protested, greatly to the displeasure 
of the king, who after the close of the assembly at once took measures against 
him in the presbytery of Haddington. 6 One of the commissioners despatched 
to press the king's opinion against Mr. Davidson was Lord Tongland, and 

1 Memorials of the Montgomeries, Earls 3 Register of Privy Council, vols. v. pp. 

of Eglinton, by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., 288, 332, 334, 367, 462, 488, 496, 499, 556 ; 

vol. i. pp. xix, 54, 55; also his Memoirs of vi. pp. 23, 62 ; vii. pp. 55, 380, 407,411,421, 

the Maxwells of Pollok, vol. i. p. 11. 422, 526. 

- Memoirs of Sir James Melville, pp. 411, 4 Ibid. vol. v. pp. 646, 755. 

412. 5 Calderwood's History, vol. v. pp. 709, 724. 


though the proceedings ended in nothing, he was again employed on a similar 
errand. It had been resolved that the election of those ministers who were to 
vote in parliament should be settled at a meeting at Falkland, to be composed of 
commissioners from the various provincial synods. The king therefore devoted 
all his energies to secure from the various synods the return of men favourable to 
his views. The synod of Fife, which met in June 1598, being an influential 
body, the king despatched Lord Tongland and another as special commissioners 
to guide the election. There was a considerable debate, but the commissioners 
effected their purpose by dexterously preparing a long leet for election, thus exclud- 
ing those named in it, while they dealt with the remainder so effectually that three 
persons acceptable to the king were chosen, though not without opposition. 1 

Some years later, the king attained his purpose, and bishops were appointed 
to most of the old sees. Mr. Gavin Hamilton was in 1605 constituted bishop 
of Galloway, and as Lord Tongland derived his income from revenues formerly 
belonging to that diocese, the new order of things affected his rights. He there- 
fore presented a petition to parliament, which ratified all his rights and 
particularly an arrangement by which the new bishop promised never to hurt or 
molest him in the pension enjoyed by him, it being the king's desire that such 
pension should remain unaffected by the bishop's appointment. 2 

Mr. William Melville in 1606 was a creditor of his eldest brother, John 
Melville of Eaith, for £40. 3 He was also " parson " or lessee of the parsonage 
teinds of the parish of Monimail. 4 He died on 3d October 1613, intestate, 
and his nephew, Mr. Thomas Melville, son of John Melville of Kaith, was his 
executor-dative. 5 Lord Tongland married Anna Lindsay, by whom he had two 
children, one son and a daughter. 

The son was Frederick Melville, who only survived his father five months, 
dying in March 1614. His cousin, Mr. Thomas Melville, was his executor, and 
his library was valued at £100 Scots, while he also possessed two rings, each 
valued at £50 Scots, one containing a diamond." 

The daughter was Agnes Melville, who died before 1st February 1615, when 
her uncle, Sir Andrew Melville of Garvock, was retoured heir to her in an 
annualrent of sixty merks in money with seven bolls two firlots of barley, 
secured over the lands of Prinlaws in Fife. 7 

1 Calderwood, vol. v. p. 725. 4 Writs in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Petition and contract with Bishop 5 Commissariot of Edinburgh, Testaments, 
Hamilton, Acts of the Parliaments of Scot- vol. 48, 24th May and 17th June 1614. 
land, vol. iv. pp. 306-308. c Ibid., 17th June 1614. 

3 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 150. 7 Fifeshire Retours, No. 236. 


VI. — John Melville of Eaith, 1548-1605. 

Isabella Lundie, his first Wife. 
Margaret Bonar, his second Wife. 
Grisell Meldrum, his third Wife. 

As shown in the memoir of his father, 1 this laird of Eaith was not 
the eldest son of Sir John Melville, but he became entitled to the suc- 
cession by the death of his elder brother, William, in their father's lifetime. 
He was, however, the eldest son of Sir John Melville by his second 
marriage with Helen Napier, and had probably just reached his majority 
at his father's death. Owing, no doubt, to the depressed state of the 
family fortunes, under the sentence of forfeiture pronounced on his father, 
John Melville does not appear on record till about the year 1560, when 
the reforming party had gained ascendency in the state. Genealogical 
writers in their account of the family state that John Melville of Eaith 
was restored to his paternal inheritance by Mary of Guise, the queen- 
regent, in 1553, on the intercession of King Henry the Second of Trance, 
with whom, it is said, the laird's younger brother, Eobert, was a favourite. 
But this statement is not corroborated by any evidence. Mary of Guise 
was not regent in 1553, while David Hamilton was still proprietor of 
Eaith so late as 1559. 2 

There is no record of any relaxation of the forfeiture until it was rescinded 
by parliament in 1563, and it is probable that John Melville remained at 
Eaith with his mother as tenant of his father's estates. In 1560, however, 
the tide of his fortune began to turn. His brother, Eobert, who had been in 
the personal service either of the queen-dowager, or of the young Queen Mary, 
received in October 1559 from her and her husband, Francis, a grant of two 

1 P. 79, antea. 2 Cf. vol. iii. of this work, p. 98. 


annualrents payable from the lands of Hilton of Eosyth, which had belonged 
to the late Sir John Melville and been escheated to the Crown. 1 These, in 
the following year, Eobert Melville resigned in favour of his elder brother, 
whom he styles " my belovit brother, Johne Mailuill of Eaith." This trans- 
action took place on 31st December 1560. About a month later George 
Durie, abbot of Dunfermline, the alleged enemy of the Melvilles, took his 
departure from Scotland. 2 The part which Durie is said to have played 
in the final tragedy of Sir John Melville's life has already been fully 
narrated in his memoir, and it is certainly remarkable that the next trans- 
action between John Melville and his brother, a few weeks after the abbot's 
departure, is founded on an expectation that the forfeiture of the lands of 
Eaith would be rescinded and the estates restored. In the event of such a 
result being attained, the brothers agreed that John Melville, on obtain- 
ing Eaith, should make over to Eobert the lands of Murdochcairnie, while 
the latter, in turn, should resign his rights over the Abden of Kinghorn. It 
was further provided that if John Melville failed to obtain possession of 
Eaith, then within two years he should pay to his brother one thousand 
merks for the rights over the Abden, while, on the other hand, the arrange- 
ment was declared optional on both sides. 3 

The anticipations of John Melville and his brother were not realised 
until upwards of two years later. During the interval, however, John Mel- 
ville received various letters of gift from Queen Mary, one of which granted 
to him the escheat of the two annualrents formerly referred to, amounting 
together to 43 merks 3s. lOd. Scots, due by the Stewarts of Eosyth from the 
Hilton of Eosyth, and which had remained unpaid from Martinmas 1549 
to Martinmas 1559. This gift was followed by letters forbidding Eobert 
Stewart of Eosyth from alienating the subjects mortgaged to evade payment 
of the interest due. 4 Queen Mary also, about four months before his 
restoration, granted to John Melville all reversions, escheats of annualrents 
and other sums of money which had belonged to his deceased father. 6 

1 Cf. vol. iii. of this work, p. 99. vol. iii. of this work, p. 101. 

- George Durie sailed for France on 29th 4 Gift, 28th April 1562, and Letters, 7th 

January 1560-61. [Diurnal of Occurrents, October 1562, in Melville Charter-chest, 

p. 64.] 5 12th February 1562-3, Pitcairn's Criminal 

3 Contract, dated 18th March 1560-61, Trials, vol. i. pp. *341 and *342. 


As formerly stated, John Melville joined with his mother and his 
brother, Robert, in petitioning for the rescinding of his father's forfeiture. 
The matter came before parliament on 4th June 1563, when an act was 
passed declaring the sentence and forfeiture directed against Sir John Mel- 
ville to be null and void, and restoring his widow and children to their 
former position and rights of succession as if the sentence had never been 
pronounced. 1 

After this date we find John Melville exercising proprietorship over his 
family estates and property. One of his earliest recorded acts was to carry 
out the arrangement formerly made with his brother, Eobert, respecting 
Murdochcairnie and the lands of the Abden of Kinghorn. 2 A few months 
later the new laird of Eaith entered into an arrangement with Eobert Stewart 
of Eosyth as to the annualrents formerly referred to, by which a sum of £600 
was to be paid in full for the past interest, while the yearly rate due was 
to be regularly paid. 3 

John Melville of Eaith was, on 10th November 1563, duly retoured as 
lawful heir-general of his father, Sir John Melville, but his full title to his 
lands of Eaith and others does not appear to have been completed till some 
years later, partly owing to opposition by the holder of a small mortgage 
over the lands of Torbain, 4 and partly to delay in judicial proceedings for 
legally evicting David Hamilton from the lands of Eaith. A final decree, 
however, declaring Hamilton's possession void, was pronounced by the lords 
of session in the beginning of the year 1566;° a precept of sasine was 
issued by Eobert [Pitcairn], commendator of Dunfermline, as superior, on 
3d October 1566, and John Melville was duly infeft a week or two later. 6 

John Melville of Eaith appears to have taken little part in public affairs. 
He was present at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland held in 
July 1567, and subscribed the articles dealing with the affairs of the kirk, 7 
but no other public appearance has been recorded regarding him, although 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 102-108. 5 Decree, 19th January 1565-6, in Melville 

2 Agreement, dated 31st July 1563, vol. Charter-chest, 
iii. of this work, p. 108. 

3 Agreement, dated 9th October 1563, in Sa3lne ' dated 15th 0ctober 1566 ' in Mel " 
Melville Charter-chest. vllle barter-chest. 

4 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 109, 112-115. 7 Calderwood's History, vol. ii. p. 382. 


his brothers were prominent statesmen. He seems to have occupied himself 
chiefly with the business of his estate, and the family papers indicate that 
during the twenty years after he came into full possession he paid off a 
number of mortgages. It is not clear whether these were the result of 
pecuniary embarrassments or temporary loans. Some of them were obliga- 
tions inherited from his father. As many of the transactions are of local 
interest, the principal of them are here noted. 

His first payment of this nature was to his brother Eobert, of 750 
merks Scots which had been secured over the lands of Torbain and Pitcon- 
rnark. 1 The next was to John Moultray of Markinch and Seafield. The 
sum of 12 merks yearly, which, as narrated in the memoir of Sir John 
Melville, was granted as compensation for the slaughter of Thomas Moultray 
of Markinch, had been regularly paid until 1558, when payment was inter- 
mitted. Moultray, in 1563, sued Melville for payment for the preceding 
five years, but, by an agreement between the parties at Lundie, Moultray 
accepted a sum of 240 merks, and discharged Melville of all claims for the 
future. 2 A few days later, John White of Lumbany, brother and heir of the 
late Eobert White in Bannettle, [Bennochie?] acknowledged payment of 
200 merks, secured over Shawsmill, and due to his deceased brother. 3 

Another creditor was Alexander Jameson, burgess of Cupar, to whom the 
laird paid 444 merks in 1566. 4 In the same year he granted an annualrent 
of one chalder of barley and one of oats, from his lands of Torbane, to John 
Melville of Wester Touch, Margaret Mason, his wife, and Margaret Melville, 
their daughter, as interest on a loan of 600 merks. 5 In 1572 he paid 300 
merks due from Shawsmill to the deceased John White, burgess of Kirk- 
caldy, which White's widow, Alison Lowdoun, and James White, their 
eldest son, acknowledged. 6 In October 1574, a sum of 140 merks, secured 
over Torbain, was paid, apparently to another branch of the same family, 

1 Original receipt, dated 10th December 3 Receipt, dated loth March 1564-5, ibid. 
1563, in Melville Charter-chest. 4 Obligation, dated 19th January 1565-6 ; 

acknowledgment, 10th November 1566, ibid. 

2 Copy Summons against Melville, ISth 5 Letter of reversion, 22d November 1566, 
November 1563 ; discharge by Moultray, ibid. 

28th February 1564-5, in Melville Charter- 6 Receipt, 10th November 1572, in Mel- 

chest, ville Charter-chest. 


Katherine Napier, relict of the late James White, burgess of Kirkcaldy, 
acknowledging receipt. About the same time also were paid — to Mr. George 
Lundie of Gorthie, 100 merks, secured over Eaith ; to Mr. Peter Kamsay, as 
brother-german and heir of the late Mr. William Eamsay, one of the four 
masters of St. Salvator's College, St. Andrews, 400 merks, also secured over 
Eaith ; and to Janet Calpe, as heir of her late father, Patrick Calpe, burgess 
of Easter Kinghorn, 200 merks. 1 It may be noted that Peter Eamsay is 
described as a son of the late Helen Bruce, wife of the laird of Brackmonth, 
and the original loan to Melville is said to have been paid in coins called 
xxx s pieces. 

In 1577 John Melville discharged a debt inherited from his father, who 
in 1512 had mortgaged to George Airth, burgess of Cupar, and Janet 
Clepane, his wife, the lands of Easter Pitscottie and part of Torbain. The 
obligation was assigned by George Airth, son of the original creditors, to 
Allan Jameson, burgess of Cupar, and in November 1577 Melville acquired 
for 815 merks from David Jameson, burgess of Cupar, son and heir of David 
Jameson, and grandson of Allan Jameson, all his rights over the lands mort- 
gaged. 2 Four years later 500 merks, which had been borrowed in 1573, were 
repaid to Archibald Melville, burgess of Dysart, 3 and in 1583 Eobert Bruce, 
brother of Eobert Bruce of Airth, acknowledged payment of two sums of 500 
merks and £100 Scots respectively. 4 

In 1584, Margaret Irving, relict of John Boswell, burgess of Kinghorn, 
acknowledged for herself and John Boswell, her son, the payment of 240 
merks, and in 1586, 600 merks were paid to James Johnston, son and heir of 
the deceased James Johnston, in Over Grange of Kinghorn. 6 In 1587, James 
Henryson, chirurgeon and burgess of Edinburgh, as assignee for John Henry- 
son, lieutenant to Captain William Moncreiff, acknowledges payment of 140 

1 Lundie's acknowledgment, dated 15th having receipt, 11th May 1581, indorsed, in 
September 1574; White's, dated 16th Octo- Melville Charter-chest. A later loan of 200 
ber ; Ramsay's, dated 27th October, and merks was negotiated with the same Archi- 
Calpe's, dated 10th November, same year, all bald and Janet Preston, his spouse, in 1570. 
in Melville Charter-chest. 4 Receipt, dated Dysart, 10th May 15S3. 

2 Agreement with Jameson, 19th October Ibid. 

1576, and his receipt, 23d November 1577, 5 Renunciation by Boswells, 5th June 

ibid. ; cf. vol. iii. of this work, p. 57. 1584, and by Johnston, 23d May 1586, in 

3 Original obligation, 24th November 1573, Melville Charter-chest. 


merks, being seven years' interest due to the lieutenant. 1 In 1588 the laird 
of Eaith, by a contract between him and the other parties concerned, was 
released from the payment of an annual rent which had first been incurred by 
his father as surety for a neighbouring laird. The circumstances were briefly 
related in the memoir of Sir John Melville, but may again be stated. Eobert 
Orrock of that ilk, 2 was, at the instance of his kinsman, Alexander Orrock of 
Silliebalbie, or Balbie, adjudged by the bailie of the regality of Dunfermline 
to pay a fine of £550 Scots. Sir John Melville became his cautioner, and an 
apprising of the sum of 43 merks, 3s. 4d. yearly was taken over his lands of 
Eaith by James Beaton, archbishop of St. Andrews and commendator of 
Dunfermline, while a similar sum was secured to Sir John from the lands of 
Hilton of Eosyth, belonging to Henry Stewart, the other cautioner who 
had failed to pay. After the death of Archbishop Beaton the aimualrent 
from Eaith was paid to his nephew, Archibald Beaton of Capildra. The 
son of the latter, John Beaton of Capildra, alienated his rights over 
Eaith to Alan Coutts of Grange, who, in 1588, entered into an agreement 
with John Melville, Henry Stewart of Eosyth, as heir to his father, the late 
Henry Stewart, and Henry Orrock of that ilk, as heir to his father, the late 
Eobert Orrock. The parties agreed that as Alan Coutts and Henry Orrock 
had arranged together for payment of the annualrent, Coutts should discharge 
Melville of all liability, while Melville in turn acquitted Stewart, and Stewart 
exonered Orrock of all claims, which was done, all the parties signing the 
contract, and binding themselves to observe it. 3 

Other creditors, at various times and for various sums, were Magnus 
Sinclair of Lees ; Henry Echlin of Pittadro ; 4 Henry, Lord Sinclair ; George 
Broun, litster of Kirkcaldy, Grisell Bouch, his wife, and their sons, George 
and William ; Mr. Eichard Spens, advocate, succeeded by his son, Archibald 
Spens, their rights being assigned to Elizabeth Spens, eldest daughter of 

1 15th January 1587-8. were paid by Melville to Mr. Francis Both- 

2 He is called William in another part of well, brother of John, commendator of Holy- 
this writ, and also in a duplicate, but the rood, as executor of Alan Coutts. 

earlier writs name him as Robert Orrock. 

3 Contract, dated 28th January 15SS-9, 4 1581. A seal is attached to the writ 
and duplicate, signed by Henry Orrock signed by Echlin, showing, quarterly, (I) a 
alone, in Melville Charter-chest. It may be fess cheque, (2) a galley, (3) a stag, and (4) 
added that, ou 6th July 1599, 800 merks a dog ; legend "S. Hake Ec[hlin]e" 

VOL. I. Z 


Bichard, and her husband, James Stewart of Allanton ; William Buist, 
burgess of Kirkcaldy, Margaret Williamson, his wife, and Bessie Buist, his 
daughter, with others. These mortgages were paid off from time to time. 

John Melville of Baith appears to have had a long-continued dispute 
with a neighbouring laird, George Martin of Carden, respecting the marches 
between his lands of Carden and Melville's lands of Torbain and Pitconmark. 
A similar dispute in 1512 had been settled by a deliverance of adjoining pro- 
prietors. In 1567 John Melville obtained letters of arrestment against 
George Martin of Carden, his mother, Jonet Durie, widow of the late David 
Martin of Carden, James Wemyss of Caskieberran, now her husband, and 
Thomas Stark, tenant of the lands of Carden, charging them with sowing 
and cultivating their grain, pasturing their cattle and sheep, and cutting 
peats, etc., within the bounds of his lands of Baith, Torbain, and Pitcon- 
mark. The time of encroachment is not stated, but it probably began 
during the continuance of Sir John Melville's forfeiture, and was perhaps 
encouraged by George Durie, abbot of Dunfermline, who, before his going 
to France, had acted as tutor to the young laird of Carden. 

The letters for arresting the grain crop of the trespassers were issued in 
August 1567, 1 and put in force a few days later, and they continued in force 
for a month, when they were relaxed with John Melville's consent, without 
prejudice to his rights. An arrangement was made in the following 
February for settling the matter by the arbitration of Sir William Kirkcaldy 
of Grange, William Bonar of Bossie, Bobert Melville of Murdochcairnie, and 
William Barclay of Touch, on the part of John Melville ; and Alexander 
Inglis of Tarvit, John Wemyss of Pittencrieff, James Wemyss of Lathoker, 
and Peter Martin, burgess of Edinburgh, on the part of Martin. The arbiters 
met on the ground on 8th March 1568, and adjourned the inquiry to the 
5th June following, on which day witnesses were examined for both parties. 
The case afterwards went before the lords of council and session, and 
dragged on for several years, as appears from the dates of documents pro- 
duced in Court. 

One of these, dated in 1582, shows a relationship between the Martins of 

1 Letters, issued 23d, enforced 29th August, and loosed 21st September 1567, in Melville 


Carden and Eobert Logan of Eestalrig, afterwards famous for his alleged 
connection with the Gowrie conspiracy. From this writ, a copy of an in- 
strument of sasine, it appears that George Martin was only infeft in his lands 
of Carden in April 1583, and that they had been fifty years in non-entry. In 
1559 a decree was issued at the instance of Peter Durie of "Wester Kinghorn, 
who had a gifc of the non-entry duties, against George Martin, his mother, 
and her second husband, James Wemyss ; and Robert Logan, then of Eestal- 
ri" and George Ooilvie, son and heir of Sir Walter Osnlvie of Dunluoas, were 
summoned for their interest as grandsons and apparent heirs of the deceased 
Elizabeth Martin, lady of Eastcastle. 1 In 1581 the lands of Carden were 
apprised to the Crown, and George, now Sir George Ogilvie of Dunlugas, and 
Eobert Logan, son and heir of the former Eobert Logan, were summoned for 
their interest. Who Elizabeth Martin was has not been clearly ascertained, 
but from the degree of relationship stated she appears to have been the wife 
of Sir Patrick Home of Fastcastle in the time of King James the Fourth, 
and was probably heiress of the barony of Fastcastle. Sir Patrick Home had 
issue two heiresses, one of whom, Alison, married Sir Walter Ogilvie of 
Duulugas, while the other, Elizabeth, married Sir Eobert Logan of Eestalrig, 
and became grandmother of the alleged conspirator. 

The dispute between Eaith and Carden was still going on in 1594, 
probably because, as the Martins of Carden were adherents, first of Queen 
Mary's party and afterwards of the faction of Francis, Earl of Bothwell, they 
occasionally suffered under civil disabilities. The quarrel, however, was 
renewed or aggravated by an incident which took place on 1st July of that 
year, perhaps by arrangement that the matter might be formally brought into 
court. On that date, as recorded in a notarial instrument, Thomas Scott, as 
acting for the laird of Eaith, and his son, John Melville, younger, then in 
possession of Pitcomnark, and certain tenants and servants, were casting turf 
and pasturing cattle on that part of the lands of Torbain " callit the Staip 
Stanes, betuix the west end of the mos and the todholes." While so engaged 
the laird of Carden and his servants appeared, and with dogs violently drove 
away Melville's cattle and sheep from the part of the land named, and 

1 Copy sasine, 2d April 1583, in Melville Charter- chest ; cf. Registrum Magni Sigilli, 
1580-1593, No. 436. 


stopped Scott in cutting turf. Scott then, on behalf of his employers, 
declared in presence of the notary that he had been wrongfully molested 
and the servants of both parties were entered as witnesses of the fact. 
Complaint was made to the privy council, who, a month later, took security 
from George Martin to the amount of 5000 merks that he would not trouble 
the elder Melville, but some days later this order was cancelled, perhaps 
because the parties had brought a civil action against each other. 1 This 
action was still in dependence in October 1595, when the laird of Eaith pro- 
cured letters of summons for citing his witnesses, but the final result of this 
dispute is not known from any papers now in the charter-chest. 

In June 1589, the laird of Eaith had a visit from William Douglas, ninth 
Earl of Angus, who had lately entered into possession of his earldom, and 
was then not long returned from a warlike expedition with the king against 
the Catholic rebels in the north of Scotland. While at Eaith the earl 
granted a feu-charter to Alexander Home of Northberwick Mains, of part of 
the lands of Byrecleuch, in Berwickshire. 2 In September 1595, John Melville 
joined with several other Fifeshire barons in appointing Sir John Wemyss, 
younger of Wemyss, and Sir John Melville of Carnbee, to represent them in 
parliament, and in 1598 he joined in a similar commission to Sir John 
Wemyss and Andrew Wood of Largo. 3 

Any further details of the history of this laird of Eaith relate almost 
wholly to his family and domestic affairs. He was three times married, first, in 
1563, to Isobel Lundie, daughter of the laird of Lundie. By her he had one 
son, who succeeded him, and two daughters. It has not been ascertained 
when she died, but in 1575 he administered as executor to his second wife, 
Margaret Bonar. She was of the family of Eossie, and died in October 
1574, leaving issue one son, Mr. Thomas Melville, and, it is said, three 
daughters, but only two are named. The laird married, as his third wife, 
Grisell Meldrum, of the family of Segie. She died in October 1597, leaving 
issue one son, James, and three daughters. 4 In 1584, the laird and his third 

1 Instrument, 1st July 1594, in Melville 3 Memorials of the Family of Wemyss of 
Charter-chest; Register of Privy Council, Wemyss, by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., 
vol. v. p. 630. vol. iii. pp. 219-221. 

2 Registrant Magni Sigilli, 1580-1593, No. 

1866. 4 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 121. 


wife entered into a contract with James Scott of Balwearie and his sister 
Margaret Scott, for the marriage of the latter and John Melville, younger of 
Baith. 1 The elder Melville agreed to infeft his son and his wife in conjunct 
fee of all his lands, Baith, Torbain, Bitconmark, Bitscottie Easter, Feddinch, 
and Shawsmill, with the Abden of Easter Kinghorn, reserving, however, the 
Abden in liferent to Helen Napier, widow of Sir John Melville, part of Bit- 
conmark to Margaret Douglas, widow of William Melville, Sir John's eldest 
son, his own life interest and his wife's rights under her marriage contract. 
In return John Melville, younger, was to undertake the redemption of the 
various mortgages still existing on the estate, provision being made for the 
laird's younger children. Some question appears to have arisen at a later 
date, as to a formerly intended union between the families of Scott and 
Melville, and perhaps some demands were made by the former on the strength 
of an alleged agreement. Be this as it may, to settle the question, John Mel- 
ville, along with a notary, paid a visit to William Barclay of Touch, said to 
be one of the witnesses of the contract, and who was then lying ill. Barclay 
being solemnly adjured to declare the truth, asserted that he never was 
present at any contract of marriage made between the late Sir William 
Scott of Balwearie and the late Sir John Melville ; that he neither knew nor 
heard that Sir John had received 200 merks as part payment of a tocher 
promised by Sir William with his daughter, to Sir John's son ; that he had 
frequently heard Sir John Melville declare that he would never put his son 
in fee of his lands, nor would he be obliged to do so ; and lastly, that of 
late years Thomas Scott of Brunshiels would have persuaded the witness 
that he was present at the said contract of marriage, but Barclay constantly 
affirmed he never knew of such a thing. 2 No further reference is found to 
this subject, and it may be noted that so early as 1509 and 1517, questions 
as to a sum of 200 merks did arise between Sir William Scott and Sir John 
Melville, as stated in the previous memoir, but this sum had no apparent 
connection with any marriage contract, 3 though it may have been the origin 
of a report to that effect. 

1 Contract dated at Kirkcaldy, 30th May 14th May 1586 ; John Barclay o£ Touch, 
1584. David his son, and others, witnesses. Vol. 

2 Notarial instrument recording Barclay"s iii. of this work, pp. 127, 128. 
statement, dated in his house at Kirkcaldy, 3 P. 39 of this volume ; vol. iii. pp. 56, 60. 


In the following year, 1585, the laird married his daughter Margaret to 
James Wemyss of Bogie, a younger son of David Wemyss of that ilk, and 
gave with her a tocher of 2500 merks. 1 In 1588 another agreement was made 
between the elder Melville and his wife and the younger Melville, restating 
the terms of the previous contract, hut omitting the clauses as to the two 
jointures chargeable on the estate. 2 The provisions for the laird's younger 
children are also more clearly defined, and arrangements made for their pay- 
ment. 3 In the following January Isobel Melville, daughter of the laird, 
married George Auchinleck, son of George Auchinleck of Balmanno. Her 
father promised with her a dowry of 5000 merks. 4 

In October 1597, John Melville's third wife, Grisell Meldrum, died, and 
in the following year he administered to her estate. 5 Two years later he 
and his eldest son and his son's wife entered into another agreement as to 
the family estate. In this document no reference is made to the younger 
children, who were otherwise provided for, but the elder Melville gave up 
his whole estate to his son, who undertook to pay all the interests due 
after "Whitsunday 1600. The younger Melville and his wife bound them- 
selves to furnish yearly to the laird four chalders of good victual, beginning 
between Yule 1600 and Candlemas 1601, with six dozen fowls, thirty of 
these being capons and the rest poultry. The laird had also right to obtain 
coal and lime from the lands of Baith, and security was given for the pay- 
ment of his yearly pension over the house of Baith and three acres and 
other lands adjoining, with grass for three horses and forty sheep yearly. 6 
In terms of this contract the laird formally resigned his lands of Baith and 
others held of the Crown into the hands of Queen Anna, who was then 
superior of the regality of Dunfermline, and on 28th April 1602 the king 
and queen granted a charter to John Melville, younger, and Margaret Scott 
Ms wife. 7 

1 Contoact, dated 1st October 15S5, 4 Contract, dated 25th January 15S8-9, 

Memorials of the Family of Wemyss, vol. ii. in Melville Charter-chest. 
pp. 213-210. 5 26th December 1598, vol. iii. of this 

work, pp. 142-146. 

6 Contract, dated 20th June 1600, in Mel- 
ville Charter-chest. 
3 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 128-131. 7 Charter and relative writs, ibid. 

2 Dame Helen Napier and Margaret 
Douglas had probably died in the interval. 


John Melville of Eaith died in the month of March 1605, having made 
his will and given up an inventory of his effects on the 16th January preced- 
ing. His personal goods and the debts due to him amounted to £861, 10s. 
Scots, but his debts to others exceeded that sum by £736, 8s. 8d. Scots. He 
is said to have been buried at Kirkcaldy. He appointed his younger sons, 
Mr. Thomas Melville and James Melville, his executors, the last named, 
however, refusing to accept. He provided for his three unmarried daughters 
by recommending them respectively to the care of his brothers Sir Eobert and 
Sir James Melville and of his nephew Sir Eobert, " that they (his daughters) 
may be in gude company, to be brocht up in the knawlege and feir of God 
and all honest vertewis." Their guardians are also to "haif a cair to sie 
thame honestlie provydit quhensoevir it sail pleis God that anie meit occa- 
sioun to mariage sail offer." He concludes by desiring their guardians to 
accept of his daughters " as childrene, and to supplie his place in dischairging 
a fatherlie dewtie towardis thame, and sua hopeing, he levis to thame his 
blissiug." 1 

By his three wives John Melville of Eaith had three sons and eight 
daughters : — 

1. John Melville, son of the first marriage, who succeeded his father in the estate 

of Eaith. Of him a memoir follows. 

2. Mr. Thomas Melville, the son of the second marriage. He is named as a 

witness in various documents, also as a cautioner in the marriage contract of 
his niece, Elizabeth Melville, in 1616. He was named executor in the will of 
Eobert, Lord Melville, in 1621. He had a gift of the marriage of his nephew 
John in 1 626. He is named as a legatee in a testament made by his nephew 
John, Lord Melville, on 8th May 1642, but is omitted in the confirmed tes- 
tament of 21st April 1643. He probably died between those two dates. 2 

3. James Melville, the son of the third marriage, who, about 1588, was provided 

to the lands of Feddinch. He died apparently between 1642 and 1652. 
He had issue, so far as is known, two daughters. The eldest, Jean, is 
named by her cousin John, third Lord Melville, in 1642, as the intended 
recipient of 200 merks. She married (contract dated 29th April 1652) 
Adam Scott, writer in Edinburgh, her dowry being 10,000 merks. 3 The 

1 Testament, vol. iii. of this work, pp. 149-151. 

- Vol. iii. of this work, p. 172, and Testament in Melville Charter-chest. 

3 Original contract in Melville Charter-chest. 


second daughter, Christian, is referred to in 1642 as the probable recipient 
of 250 merks. 

The daughters were : — 

1. Margaret, who married, in 1585, James Wemyss of Bogie. She died in 

October 1598, leaving issue three sons, James, Ludovic, and Patrick Wemyss. 1 

2. Isobel, who married, in 1588, George Auchinleck, younger of Balmanno. She 

died on 21st December 1593 at Pitterichie, in the parish of Glenbervie, 
which was her jointure-house, apparently without issue. 2 

3. Agnes Melville, 1 named in 1575 as the daughters and executors of their 

4. Janet Melville, J mother, Margaret Bonar, lady of Raith. 3 As no further 

notice of them has been found, and no provision for their maintenance is 
recorded, they probably died young. 

5. Alison, who married Mr. David Barclay of Touch. She was probably a 

daughter of the third marriage with Grisell Meklrum. Provision is made 
for her and her three younger sisters in 1587. Her husband was minister 
successively at Dailly, Maybole, Dumfries, Kilwinning, and St. Andrews, 
and was a prominent Presbyterian. Alison Melville died before 1627, and 
no issue of the marriage is recorded. 

6. Margaret, who is named in 1587 as one of the younger daughters of John 

Melville, and in 1597 as a daughter of Grisell Meldrum. In 1606 she was 
recommended by her father to the care of her cousin, Sir Robert Melville 
of Burntisland. She was apparently still unmarried in 1621, when she is 
named in the will of her uncle Robert, first Lord Melville, as legatee or 
creditor for 500 merks. 4 

7. Christian, who is named along with her sisters in 1587 and 1597. She was 

commended by her father to the care of her uncle, Sir James Melville of 
Hallhill, and is named by Lord Melville, in 1621, as legatee of 500 merks. 5 

8. Katherine, who is described by her father as his youngest daughter, and was 

commended to the care of his brother Sir Robert, afterwards first Lord 
Melville, by whose testament, in 1621, she receives 1000 merks. 6 

1 Commissariot of Edinburgh, Testaments, 3 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 121. 

10th November 1599. i Ibid. pp. 130, 142, 151, and 157. 

- Ibid., 15th December 1596. 5 Ibid. c Ibid. 


VII. — John Melville of Eaith. 

Margaret Scott (Balwearie), his Wife. 


Very little has been ascertained regarding this laird of Kaith, either 
from the family papers or from public records. According to the manuscript 
genealogy formerly referred to, he was probably born about 1563 or 1564. 
He is first mentioned in 1584, when he was contracted in marriage to Mar- 
■ garet Scott, sister of James Scott, then laird of Balwearie. The bride's dowry 
was 5000 merks, and due provision was made for her from the estates of 
Eaith, though, as formerly stated, these were already burdened with two 
jointures. 1 In 1587 and 1597, Melville also joined in agreements for settling 
the estate, and providing for his father's younger children. In 1596 his wife 
was secured in a provision of two chalders of victual yearly. 2 

As narrated in the previous memoir, John Melville, younger, received in 
1602, on his father's resignation, a charter from Queen Anna of the lands of 
Eaith and others, formerly held of the abbacy of Dunfermline, and was duly 
infeft. 3 In 1605 John Melville succeeded his father in full possession of 
the estates, but little can be recorded of his occupancy. He, however, gradu- 
ally paid off the various mortgages on the lands, and other debts not cleared 
off by his father. 

While thus engaged he appears to have taken no part in public affairs, 
though he was not altogether out of the course of current events. In 1608 
he was summoned to join the expedition resolved upon by King James to 
reduce the turbulent clansmen of the Western Islands to order and obedi- 
ence. Levies were ordered from all parts of the kingdom to meet at Islay in 
the month of July 1608, there to serve under the command of Andrew 
Stewart, Lord Ochiltree. The laird of Eaith, however, did not obey the 
order, and at a later date purchased an exemption from the service by a 

l Contract of marriage in Melville Charter- - Papers, ibid. 

chest. 3 Charter and relative papers, ibid. 

VOL. I. 2 A 


composition of £12 Scots. 1 la the following year the laird's name appears 
in connection with the great scheme put forward for the colonisation of the 
north of Ireland, known as the plantation of Ulster. A large portion of 
that district having become forfeited to the Crown, the king resolved to 
introduce a colony of Protestant settlers, and, in the first stage of the pro- 
posal, 90,000 acres were set apart to be taken up by Scotchmen. This 
land was to be divided out in estates of three sizes — 2000, 1500, and 1000 
acres. There were certain conditions attached to the occupancy of these 
estates, such as building strong houses, sufficiently providing them with 
arms, and settling on the land a certain number of Scottish tenants or 
cultivators. Each person applying for an allotment was to grant security 
for fulfilment of the conditions, the amount required being £400 sterling for 
a grant of 2000 acres, £300 for 1500 acres, and £200 for 1000 acres. This 
proposal was intimated to the Scottish Privy Council in March 1609, but 
was not fully responded to until July following, when above seventy persons 
applied for grants, among whom was the laird of Eaith's second son James, 
whose name was enrolled as an applicant for 2000 acres. The laird, how- 
ever, does not appear as surety for his son, whose uncle, James Melville of 
Feddinch, is the cautioner. The list of applicants was afterwards revised, 
those giving doubtful sureties being excluded, and this was probably the 
case with James Melville, as he does not appear to have obtained the grant 
applied for. 2 

In 1616 the laird of Eaith followed his father's example and resigned 
his lands to his eldest son, John Melville, on condition that the younger 
children be provided for. The contract between the parties states, that John 
Melville, elder, and Margaret Scott, his wife, " considering that thair estait is 
presentlie burdanit with certane debtis and sowmes of money, and also that 
thay haif ane nowmer of othir childrene to provyde, quhilk can not be 
commodiouslie done and performet be the said John Melville, elder, and 
his spous, being now of guid aige," in respect whereof they resolve to dis- 
pose of their estate to their son. This they do, reserving their own liferent 
rights, and also the various mortgages and bonds on the estates, the interest 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 158 ; cf. Register of Privy Council, vol. viii. p. liv. 
- Ibid. pp. Ixxxii-xciii, 330. 


of which the younger Melville binds himself to pay, and to redeem the lands 
when possible. They also transfer their whole right to the teind sheaves 
of the lands, under certain reservations. In return for these and other 
conditions the younger Melville binds himself to give to his brothers, James, 
David, and Thomas, and to his sisters, Jean, Elspeth, Bathia, Eufame, and 
Margaret, their respective portions as defined, at particular dates. 1 A month 
later, the laird granted a formal charter of his lands to his eldest son, which 
was confirmed by King Charles the First after the laird's death. 2 

After resigning the management of his estates to his son, John Melville, 
elder of Eaith, is scarcely referred to in the family papers, except as nominal 
laird of Raith, in documents affecting securities on the lands. He died 
intestate, in January 1626, and was survived by his wife, Margaret Scott, 
who, with some of his children, gave up the usual inventory of his personal 
estate, which amounted to £853, 6s. 8d., and when his debts, chiefly for 
servants' wages, were deducted, to £689, 13s. 4d. Scots. 3 

The children of this laird of Eaith were — 

1. John Melville, who succeeded and became third Lord Melville. A memoir of 

him follows. 

2. James Melville, whose name has been already referred to in connection 

with the plantation of Ulster. His share of his father's estate was fixed 
by the contract of 1616 at the sum of 1000 merks, payable at Whitsunday 
in the year 1620. Between 2d May and 6th June 1618 he married 
Jean Sinclair, designed " Lady Parbroith," probably widow of one of the 
Setons of Parbroath, and his elder brother, John, granted them by a contract 
dated at Dysart, a yearly sum of 300 merks Scots, representing a principal 
sum of 3000 merks. Five years later, James Melville, then designed "of 
Admure," and his wife, acknowledged receipt from the young laird of Eaith 
of the sum of 3000 merks Scots. 4 In 1635 he was left a legacy of £1000 
Scots by Robert, second Lord Melville. 5 Nothing more has been discovered 
regarding this James Melville, unless he be identical with a James Melville 

1 Contract, Raith, Sth March 1616, in June 1618, and at Kingask 7th May 1623, to 
Melville Charter-chest. the second of which David Seton, apparent of 

2 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 157-160. Parbroath, is a witness, in Melville Charter- 

3 Confirmed Testament, dated 20th April chest. 

1627, vol. iii. of this work, pp. 161, 162. 5 Confirmed Testament in Melville Charter- 

4 Discharges, dated Raith 2d May and 6th chest. 


" of Ardmoone," to whom, in 1653, Mr. Thomas Melville of Kinglassie was 
executor-dative. 1 

3. David Melville, named in the contract of 1616, as provided to 700 merks pay- 

able at Whitsunday 1619. He appears as a witness to various documents, 
and in 1643 was creditor to his brother John, Lord Melville, in £6000 
Scots, with interest on two separate loans of £4000 and £2000 respectively. 
He was also appointed one of the tutors to his brother's children. He 
was alive on 27th May 1644, but deceased before 25th December following, 
apparently unmarried, as he had assigned his property to his brother, Mr. 
Thomas, minister of Kinglassie. 2 

4. Thomas Melville, afterwards Mr. Thomas, who became minister of Kinglassie. 

He was born apparently about 1602, and appears frequently in the family 
papers as a witness to writs by his brothers and other relatives. His por- 
tion from his father's estate in 1616 was 500 merks, payable in 1620. 
According to a recent author, Thomas Melville took the degree of M.A. at 
St. Andrews in 1622, and was presented and ordained as minister of the 
parish of Kinglassie in 1630. 3 In 1643 he was a creditor of his brother 
John, Lord Melville, to the amount of 3200 merks Scots, 4 and in 1644 
assignee of his deceased brother David's property. He was a member of the 
commission of the Church, 1647, and of the general assembly, 1650. In 
1653 he administered to the estate of James Melville " of Ardmoone," pro- 
bably his brother. He gifted four silver communion cups to his parish. He 
died 21st April 1675, aged about seventy-three. He married Jean Gourlay, 
and had issue three sons, John, Moses, and George, and three daughters, 
Jean, Bathia, and Catherine. 5 

The daughters were — 

1. Jean Melville. Her portion, as arranged in 1616, amounted to 3000 merks, 

which was paid to her on 2d May 1618. 6 She married, contract dated 
26th July and 2d August 1623, Michael Balfour of Grange or Newgrange, 
who in 1629 acknowledges full payment of her dowry of 5000 merks. 

2. Elspeth or Elizabeth Melville. Her portion was 2000 merks. She married, 

contract dated 24th May 1616, Mr. Robert Murray, minister, styled provost 

1 Commissariot of St. Andrews, Register of p. 547. It may be noticed that he is styled 
Testaments, 11th April 1653. Mr. Thomas so early as 1618. 

2 Discharge by Mr. Thomas for himself 4 Testament in Melville Charter-chest, 
and his late brother David, 25th December 5 Bathia Melville's testament, ibid. ; Scott's 
1644, in Melville Charter-chest. Fasti, ut supra. 

3 Scott's Fasti Eeclesias Scoticana?, part iv. ° Vol. iii. of this work, p. 153. 


of Methven, who was a prominent man in the church. They had issue a 
son, John, who succeeded his father in Methven, and three daughters, 
Elizabeth, Mary, and Anna, the former of whom is said to have married Mr. 
George Gillespie, afterwards minister in Edinburgh, but if so she must have 
been his first wife. John Murray, the son, married Isobel or Elizabeth 
Scrimgeour, perhaps his cousin. 1 

3. Bathia Melville, who, apparently about 1629, acknowledged payment of £1000 

from her brother as her share of her father's estate. 2 She married, contract 
dated 17th September 1634, John Traill, younger of Dinnork, son of Alex- 
ander Traill of Dinnork, who on 25th August 1638 acknowledged 5000 merks 
paid as tocher. 3 She survived her husband, and died in Kinglassie, Fife, 
in July 1652. 4 

4. Euphame Melville, who on 19th June 1629 gave a discharge for her portion 

of 1000 merks. She apparently remained unmarried. 

5. Margaret, who on the same day as her sister, Bathia, received 1000 merks as 

her portion. 5 She married, contract dated at Wester Bowhill and Raith, 
10th and 12th December 1632, James Scrimgeour of "Wester of Caik- 
moir " [Wester Cartmore 1~\, son of Mr. John Scrimgeour, sometime minister 
at Kingborn, but deprived and residing on his property of Wester Bowhill, 
Auchterderran. Her dowry of 2700 merks was paid to her husband on 4th 
June 1633, by his mother-in-law, Margaret Scott, lady of Eaith. 6 The 
Elizabeth Scrimgeour who married Mr. John Murray, younger minister of 
Methven, may have been a daughter of this marriage. 

1 Cf. Scott's Fasti, etc., part iv. p. 650. G Discharge in Melville Charter- eh est. 

2 Discharge, vol. iii. of this work, p. 154, There is reason to believe that Mr. Scrim- 
printed as of date 1020, but more probably geour, elder, was a cadet of the family of 
1629, as it was after the father's death in Scrimgeour of Myres, who held the office of 
1626. hereditary macers and sergeants-at-arms of 

3 Discharge, in Melville Charter-chest. the Palace of Falkland. The son James here 

4 Confirmed Testament of Bathia Mel- referred to is not named by Mr. Scott in his 
ville, 9th March 1653, ibid. Fasti. [Cf. part iv. p. 54-1.] 

6 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 1 54. 




VIII. — John Melville, seventh Laird of Raith, and third Lord Melville 

OF Monimail, 1626-1643. 

Anne Erskine (Invertiel), his Wife. 

John Melville, seventh of Eaith, succeeded his father in the family 
estates in January 1626, and was duly infeft in Raith on 13th March 1626. 1 
He had already been placed in virtual possession of the estates, under con- 
ditions as to provisions for his younger brothers and sisters, by a contract 
with his father in March 1616, as noted in the previous memoir. A charter 
granted to him by his father and mother, in April 1616, was confirmed by 
King Charles the First on 3d February 1626. 2 In October 1627 he married 
Anna Erskine, eldest daughter and co-heiress of Sir George Erskine of 
Invertiel, one of the senators of the college of justice. The laird of Raith 
bound himself to secure his intended spouse in as much of his lands of 
Torbain, Pitconmark, and others, as would yield a yearly value of twenty-six 
chalders of victual, while Sir George Erskine promised with his daughter a 
dowry of twenty thousand merks. 3 

This laird of Raith appears to have taken little part in public affairs, and 
his name does not occur in the record of any prominent event until after his 
accession to the dignity of Lord Melville in 1635. As already stated on a 
previous page, Robert, second Lord Melville, was by special charter em- 
powered to nominate either his heir-general or heir of conquest as his suc- 
cessor in the title. His heir-general was James Melville of Hallhill, who 
was his cousin, and the son of his father's immediate younger brother, 
while his heir of conquest was John Melville of Raith, not so near a kins- 
man, but descended from the elder brother of Lord Melville's father. These 
two, the laird of Raith and the laird of Hallhill, on the day on which Robert, 
Lord Melville, made his will and his choice of a successor, entered into a 
contract by which they bound themselves to abide by his decision in the 

1 Original sasine in Melville Charter-chest. 3 Contract, dated 27th October 1627, in 

2 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 157-160. Melville Charter-chest. 


matter, which was in favour of John Melville of Eaith. Eobert, Lord Mel- 
ville, died on 19th Match 1635, and the laird of Eaith assumed the title, 
although the king at first demurred to acknowledge him as Lord Melville. 
Two months later King Charles the First wrote to the Scottish privy council 
that he had been informed that the laird of Eaith had assumed the title of a 
lord and baron of parliament upon a testamentary declaration made by the 
deceased Eobert, Lord Melville ; he had not been acquainted with the reason 
of this step, for which there was no precedent, and he desires the council to 
summon the laird before them, and to forbid using " suche title of a lord " 
until authorised by a royal warrant to do so. 1 The council, on receipt of 
this, summoned Melville before them, but on his production of the royal 
charter of 1627, which empowered the deceased Lord Melville to nominate 
his successor, they were satisfied, and represented the case fully to the 
king in favour of the new peer. On 11th May 1636 he was retoured heir 
of conquest and provision of the late Eobert, Lord Melville, in the lands 
and barony of Monimail, with the title of Lord Melville, and in the lands of 
Letham of Edensmoor, Monksmire, and others named, in the shire of Fife. 2 

The new peer was also attacked at this time in regard to the executry 
of his predecessor in the title. George Melville of Garvock, elder son of 
the late Sir Andrew Melville of Garvock, and a cousin of the late Eobert, 
Lord Melville, who seems to have been a man of somewhat fast life, thought 
himself entitled to a sum of money from the estates respectively of the first 
and second Lords Melville. It would appear that before the second Lord 
Melville's death this man had come from England and stayed with him, 
being kindly received, but his behaviour was so offensive that Lord Melville 
took a dislike to him, and expressly stated on his deathbed to a mutual 
friend that he was unworthy of a legacy or any remembrance. George 
Melville himself, however, did not think so, and he brought a claim against 
John, Lord Melville, and the other executor of the second Lord Melville, 
for a very considerable sum. He claimed, first, £1000 as a legacy said to 
have been left him by the first Lord Melville, but which he alleged was 
unfairly kept from him ; secondly, a sum of 14,000 merks from the executry 

1 Letter, 22d May 1635, vol. ii. of this 2 Abridgment of Retours for Fife, No. 

work, p. 21. 534. 


of the first Lord Melville; thirdly, 100,000 merks from the estate of the 
late Jean Hamilton, Lady Melville, which he declared had been improperly 
given up ; and lastly, a share of the property of the second Lord Melville, 
who he declared was desirous to provide specially for him, but was deceived 
by misreports of his character. 1 

This large demand was disputed by Lord Melville and his fellow-executor, 
James Melville of Hallhill, and on its being taken into court, decision was 
given entirely in their favour. George Melville was compelled to sign an 
obligation exonering and discharging the executors of every claim, and he 
disappeared from the scene for a time, but he will be noticed again at a 
later period. According to a letter afterwards written by James Melville 
of Hallhill, one of the executors, to George, Lord Melville, George Melville's 
claim against them was owing to the influence of Archbishop Spottiswood, 
then chancellor of Scotland, who had, it is alleged, a grudge against Lord 
Melville. James Melville also charges the chancellor with doing his best 
to obstruct the decree given in favour of the executors, and compelling the 
latter to pay 5000 merks to himself. 2 It would also seem that this or some 
other matter connected with the executry at one time caused a breach in 
the friendship of the two executors, but apparently it was only temporary. 3 

This disagreeable experience lasted nearly two years, the discharge granted 
by George Melville of Garvock being dated in March 1637. In July of the 
same year arose the popular excitement in Scotland as to the service-book 
and the encroachments of episcopacy. What part Lord Melville took in the 
movements of the time is not recorded, but as his name is said to be attached 
to the petition directed to the presbytery of Edinburgh asking them to libel 
the bishops, 4 his sympathies were evidently with the popular party. Lord 
Melville was present in the short parliament of 1639, and also in that of the 
following year when the estates assembled without a commissioner, but his 
name does not occur in the rolls of the parliament of 1641, over which the 
king presided in person. 

In the beginning of 1640 Lord Melville joined with other heritors of the 

1 Papers in Melville Charter-chest. 3 Copy Letter, James Melville of Hallhill 

2 Letter, 31st May 1651, vol. ii. of this to John, Lord Melville, 22d November 1635. 
work, pp. 233, 234. 4 Gordon's Scots Affairs, vol. i. p. 127. 


parish of Monimail in an obligation to pay ten merks in every hundred 
merks of valued rent, as a contribution towards meeting the expenses 
" bestowit in the lait trubles." 1 About the same date a list of the heritors 
in the parish was made up, enumerating their valued rent, the number of 
their tenants, and the state of their warlike equipments or ability to furnish 
such. Lord Melville's net rental in the parish is stated at 3900 merks. 
Nearly all his domestic or household servants were armed with swords, one 
of them bearing musket and pistols in addition, and most of his tenants had 
at least a sword, while four of them were willing to provide muskets also. 
Lord Melville agreed to provide so many muskets and pikes for his tenants 
in Monimail parish, and also for his men on his property elsewhere. 2 In 
March 1643 he resigned the lands of Monimail, Letham, and others, which he 
had inherited from the late Eobert, Lord Melville, and also his own lands of 
Eaith, Torbain, and Pitconmark, and received a crown charter erecting the 
whole of new into one barony, to be called the lordship of Monimail, in 
favour of himself in liferent, and his son, George, Master of Melville, in fee. 3 
John, third Lord Melville, died on 22d May 1643, not long after the 
above charter was granted. He made a testament on 8th May 1642, 4 indi- 
cating a number of legacies and other sums to be paid and discharged, but 
this document appears to have been cancelled, and was never confirmed. It 
was superseded by a later will made on 21st April 1643, which was duly 
confirmed with the usual inventory of the deceased's effects. By this later 
will no legacies were bequeathed, but Lord Melville appointed his eldest son, 
then a minor, as his sole executor, placing him under the guardianship of Sir 
George Erskine of Invertiel, Mr. Thomas Melville, minister at Kinglassie, 
and Mr. Eobert Murray, minister at Methveu. Lord Melville also provided 
for his other children, John, James, Isabel, Jean, Anna, and Catherine Mel- 
ville. Archibald, Marquis of Argyll, John, Earl of Lindsay, William, Earl of 
Dalhousie, Eobert, Lord Balfour of Burleigh, and Sir John Wemyss of Bogie 
were to oversee the tutors, and attend to the interests of the children. 

1 Obligation, dated 28th February 1640, in date given as at Oxford, 18th March 1643. 
Melville Charter-chest. . Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. vi. 

2 List, etc., in Melville Charter-chest. Part I. p. 250. 

3 Copy signature (undated) in Melville 

Charter-chest ; ratified by parliament, and 4 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 170-172. 

VOL. I. 2 B 


Confirmation was granted on 27th May 1644, the debts exceeding the per- 
sonal estate and assets by £2927. 1 

By his wife, Anna Erskine, who survived him for some years, John, third 
Lord Melville, had three sons and four daughters : — 

1. George, Master of Melville, who succeeded his father, and of whom a memoir 


2. John, who is named in his father's will and in a bond of provision of same 

date, which assigns to him a portion of 10,000 merks. He died before 
1675 without issue. 

3. James Melville of Cassingray. He was provided by his father to a sum of 

8000 merks. He married, contract dated 7th December 1672, Anne, 
daughter of Mr. Alexander Burnett of Carlips. He was still alive in 
1693, but appears to have died without issue, as David, third Earl of 
Leven, his nephew, was retoured his heir-general on 19th August 1714. It 
is not clear from whom he acquired the lands of Cassingray, but up to about 
1600 they belonged to the families of Hay of Errol and of Foodie. The 
earliest charter of the lands is described as from King William the Lion to 
Eobert, son of Henry. Robert was succeeded by a son, William, whose 
daughter, Eda, resigned the lands, about 1282, to Eichard (or Gilbert) Hay. 
Gilbert of Cassingray and Laurence of Cassingray are also named about the 
same period. 2 

4. Isabel, provided in 1643 to the sum of 6000 merks. She appears to have 

died young. 

5. Jean, also provided to the sum of 6000 merks. She died between 1645 

and 1650. 

6. Anna, who married Thomas Boyd, younger of Pinkhill. She had issue, and 

died before 1675. Her portion also was 6000 merks. 

7. Catherine, who died unmarried, and was buried at Eaith, 18th March 1692. 

She had the same provision as her sisters. 

1 Confirmed testament in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Inventory of Writs of Cassingray, ibid. 



IX. — George, fourth Lord and first Earl of Melville, 1643-1707. 
Lady Catherine Leslie (Leven), his Countess. 

George Melville, who apparently received his baptismal name from his 
maternal grandfather, Sir George Erskine, Lord Invertiel, appears to have 
been born in the year 1636, as he was aged 71 years at his death in 1707. 
He was thus only about seven years old when he succeeded to his father in 
the title and estates. He was placed under the guardianship of Sir George 
Erskine of Invertiel, and of his uncles, Mr. Thomas Melville and Mr. Eobert 
Murray. In 1644 parliament ratified in his favour the charter granted to 
his father, erecting the lands of Monimail and Eaith into one barony. 

Lord Melville does not appear on any of the rolls of parliament until 
1661, but in 1651 and 1652 he was the recipient of letters from King 
Charles the Second. The first of these is in favour of George, now Sir 
George Melville of Garvock, who had obtained the post of under-master of 
the household to the king in Scotland. 1 The king, writing from Dunferm- 
line on 6th May 1651, recommended Sir George Melville to the attention of 
his kinsman, on the plea that Sir George's ability to serve the king properly 
depended on Lord Melville, who was expected to do " what may be thought 
inst, fit, and honorable." 2 This recommendation, however, really meant an 
application by Sir George Melville for money, and Lord Melville appears to 
have consulted his friends on the subject, one of whom, James Melville of 
Hallhill, wrote a long letter by no means complimentary to Sir George, and 
detailing his behaviour towards the late Lord Melville, to which reference has 
been made in the previous memoir. 3 The immediate cause of this unplea- 
sant epistle was a letter which Sir George wrote to Major-General Sir John 
Brown of Fordel, one of Lord Melville's friends, defending himself in an 
indignant tone, 4 but nothing further has been found regarding the affair. 

The other letters from the king are dated in 1652, and appear to be 

1 Appointed 5th July 1650. Acta of the 3 Ibid. pp. 232-234. 

Parliaments of Scotland, vol. vi. Part II. p. 605. 4 Letter, 26th May 1651, in Melville Char- 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 23. ter-chest. 


circular letters appealing for aid on behalf of the royal necessities. 1 Similar 
letters were despatched by King Charles at this period to the head of more 
than one noble family in Scotland. 

Lord Melville, perhaps because of his minority, does not appear to have 
fallen under the ban of the Commonwealth in Scotland, as he is not named 
in the list of those who were fined by Cromwell. The insurrection organised 
in the north of Scotland by the Earl of Glencairn and others, did, however, 
affect the young lord, although he took no part in the movement. Parties 
from the insurgent forces passed through various parts of Scotland, especially 
through Fifeshire, and carried off numbers of horses. On the other hand, 
orders were issued that all horses of a certain value were to be brought into 
the English garrisons. The English troopers also made expeditions in search 
of horses, and on one such visit to St. Andrews, on 3d January 1654, they 
seized the young Lord Melville and Sir John . Carstairs, and carried them 
prisoners to Burntisland. This was done because the captives were assumed 
to be accessory to the taking away of horses by some of Glencairn's men. 2 
The imprisonment was, however, apparently not of long duration. 

In January of the following year, 1655, Lord Melville, then in his nine- 
teenth year, married Lady Catherine Leslie, only daughter of the late 
Alexander Leslie, Lord Balgonie, and grand-daughter of the famous general, 
the first Earl of Leven. The wedding took place at Wemyss, the residence 
of the bride's mother, who had married, as her third husband, David, second 
Earl of Wemyss, and the bride brought with her a tocher of 25,000 merks. 3 

During the next few years, although Lord Melville is mentioned on the 
rolls of the parliament of 1661, and as a member of the committee of the 
shire of Fife, he does not appear to have taken much part in public affairs, 
and the chief notices of him relate to his private life. In May 1660 he went 
to London to welcome King Charles the Second on his restoration, and was, 
it is said, graciously received, but remained in the metropolis only ten days, 
returning to Scotland on 12th June 1660. He continued to reside in Scot- 
land, and among other pursuits seems to have engaged in horse-racing. 

1 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 23, 24. 

2 Lamont's Diary, 1830, p. 65. 

3 Ibid. p. 84 ; Marriage-Contract in Melville Charter-chest. 




That was an amusement in which many of the leading noblemen and gentlemen 
of the county of Fife took a very active part. Many records of the Cupar 
races are still extant. At these races in April 1662, Lord Melville entered a 
mare to contend for a cup to be given by the Earl of Rothes, but he was 
unsuccessful during the two days of the meeting. In the following year he 
was more fortunate ; his mare won a " silver goblett aboue two pounde 
weight," and it was said that this was the first mare that had carried the day 
at Cupar since the races there were instituted in the year 1621. Some days 
afterwards, however, the mare was beaten at a race at Corstorphine. In the 
year 1665, at the annual race meeting at Cupar, one of Lord Melville's horses 
was hurt in a mel^e which arose out of a quarrel and attempted duel 
between the Earl of Linlithgow and Lord Carnegie. 1 

In February 1663 Lord Melville paid another visit to London, the dura- 
tion of which is not stated, but he may have remained there until after the 
marriage of the young Anna, Countess of Buccleuch, to the Duke of Mon- 
mouth, on 20th April 1663. Through his marriage with Catherine Leslie, 
Lord Melville became the brother-in-law of the young Countess of Buc- 
cleuch, who was a daughter of the same mother by a former marriage. He 
was appointed one of her curators, and afterwards managed her affairs in 
Scotland. He was one of the parties to her marriage-contract, and in their 
later transactions the duchess reposed great confidence in him, and fre- 
quently acknowledged the benefit of his advice and counsel. It is unneces- 
sary here to give the details of Lord Melville's management of the Buccleuch 
estates, which has been fully commented upon in " The Scotts of Buc- 
cleuch," but there is evidence that his duties were very ably discharged, 
and his conduct brought to him commendation not only from the duke and 
duchess but from King Charles himself. In September 1678 he received a 
special commission over the Buccleuch estates, probably as the result of a 
visit to London which he made in the spring of that year. In 1681, how- 
ever, he appears to have desired to resign his trust, but the duchess persuaded 
him to retain his charge, which he did until compelled, in 1683, to leave 
the kingdom. 2 

1 Lamont's Diary, 1830, pp. 145, 160, 161, 187. 

3 The Scotts of Buccleuch, by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., vol. i. pp. 409, 412, 436-440. 


In 1679 Lord Melville was associated with the Duke of Monmouth when 
the latter was appointed captain-general of the royal forces in opposition to 
the covenanters. The story of the affair, as told in a paper written hy his 
great-grandson, David, sixth Earl of Leven and Melville, is to the effect that 
in that year, on Lord Melville making his usual visit to court, the king 
asked him what was doing in Scotland. He replied that he was sorry some 
people there were threatening to rise against his Majesty, but he did not 
doubt that the Duke of Monmouth would quell them immediately. To 
this the king assented, saying that he would have sent Melville with the 
duke, and on Melville offering to be of service, the king gave him permis- 
sion to go, and sent despatches with him to the duke. The account further 
states that Lord Melville joined the duke the day before the battle of Both- 
well Bridge, and that he was sent over to the covenanters to endeavour to 
bring them to submit, a mission which he discharged to his utmost power, 
but without result. 

This act of his, however, was called in question at a later date, when 
accusations were brought against Lord Melville of participation in the Bye- 
house plot, and it would appear from evidence given before the privy council, 
probably extorted by torture, that he employed others to communicate with 
the insurgent forces. Even in the year immediately following, 1680, Lord 
Melville thought it necessary to procure from the Duke of Monmouth a 
certificate that his correspondence and communications with the covenanters 
were made by the duke's direct authority. 2 Setting aside some doubtful 
statements made by one of the witnesses, their evidence showed that Lord 
Melville had been very earnest in urging the covenanters to lay down 
their arms. He assured them that if they were defeated it would ruin the 
cause of Bresbyterianism, while if they submitted, the duke was willing to 
grant them favourable terms. 3 This offer was so far responded to by the 
covenanters, but dissensions among them rendered the negotiations futile. 

1 Cf. account as printed in Leven and Scotland, vol. viii., App. p. 58. ISth May 

Melville Papers, Bannatyne Club, p. xiii. 1683. It was probably in consequence of 

•y tmi t icon it i •• c j-i.- i this evidence that the Duke of Monmouth, 

- 10th June 1680. Vol. n. of this work ' 

,-,_ on 10th June 1683, granted a more formal 

certificate, signed in. the preseuce of wit- 

3 Evidence. Acts of the Parliaments of nesses. [Vol. ii. of this work, p. 29.] 

THE RYEHOUSE PLOT, 1683. 199' 

The Duke of Monmouth lost his influence at court in September 1679, 
but Melville appears to have remained in favour, probably because of his 
important position in charge of the Buccleuch estates, about the disposal of 
which the king was much interested. He seems to have resided chiefly in 
Scotland, with occasional visits to London on the duke's business. 

Lord Melville was in Scotland in 1683, when orders were given for his 
arrest on suspicion of connection with the conspiracy known as the Eyehouse 
plot. The account given by his great-grandson assigns this intended 
arrest to the year 1680, but this is a mistake, as the alleged discovery of the 
Eyehouse plot only took place in June 1683. The sole information as to 
Lord Melville's part in the affair is the evidence given by or extorted from 
witnesses examined at his trial in absence in 1685, and their testimony is of 
the slightest. One of the witnesses, Commissary Monro, stated that a 
meeting was held in London in May 1683, at which Lord Melville was 
present, but Monro's evidence showed that, so far from this being a con- 
spiracy, those present, of whom he was one, were afraid that the tyrannical 
measures of the government would cause a rising in Scotland, or, as it is 
phrased, " that the countrey might run together to save themselves, and so 
make a present disturbance." It was then resolved that an effort should be 
made to prevent this, and also to obtain information as to the real condition 
of affairs. Sir John Cochrane of Ochiltree spoke of money being furnished 
by the English to enable the Earl of Argyll, then in Holland, to send arms to 
Scotland, but to this Lord Melville was opposed, being averse to dealing with 
the English, saying, " we never medled with them bot they ruined us." The 
first resolution to inquire into affairs in Scotland and hinder any disturbance 
was then adhered to. 1 Another witness, the Eev. William Carstares, after- 
wards known as the chief presbyterian adviser of King William the Third, 
and who was also present at the meeting, said he understood the money 
referred to was to be used to promote an armed rising in Scotland, but he 
added that Lord Melville thought everything hazardous, and was not positive 
in anything, but was most inclined to have the Duke of Monmouth to lead 
them in Scotland. 2 It is well known, however, that Mr. Carstares' deposition 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. viii., App. p. 34. 

2 Ibid. p. 35. 


was elicited by torture, and on the condition that it was not to he used 
against any person. 

On another point also Commissary Monro gave evidence that Lord 
Melville called him one day from his lodging to wait upon the Duke of 
Monmouth. The duke being at Lord Russell's house, they paid their visit 
there. In course of conversation, Lord Russell spoke of sending £10,000 to 
Argyll to buy arms, at which Lord Melville laughed, and said they might as 
well send ten pence. He then broke up the discourse, and shortly after- 
wards left, with a remark that they were unhappy who meddled with these 
people. 1 This is all the evidence of Lord Melville's connection with Sir John 
Cochrane, Lord Russell, or any of those who were justly or unjustly accused 
of plotting against the king. When the proclamations for the arrest of those 
implicated reached Scotland, Lord Melville was at his residence of Melville 
House in Life, wholly unsuspicious of any evil, and had it not been for the 
good offices of Sir George Mackenzie, afterwards Earl of Cromartie, he would 
most probably have been taken. As it was, he was enabled to make his escape. 
The incidents of this escape have been told at length by Lord Melville's 
great-grandson in a narrative already quoted from, but as this narrative has 
been printed, the details may be given more briefly here. Lord Melville 
had, it is said, sent over one of his attendants, an old and faithful retainer, 
named Duncan Macarthur, to Edinburgh on private business. He found the 
city in an unusual stir, and in passing up the Canongate he met Sir George 
Mackenzie, who at once accosted him with the words, " ' You Highland 
dog ' (a name he was in use of giving him), ' how does my lord, what brought 
you here V Says Duncan, 'He is very well, he has sent me over about some 
private business.' Says my lord, ' you had better go home again directly.' 
' No, faith,' says Duncan, ' not till my business is done.' ' I say,' says my 
lord, 'you Highland dog, go home as fast as you can,' and so left him." 
Macarthur, acting on the hint, hurried back to Leith, where he found a 
troop of dragoons just embarking for Fife, but could get no clew to their 
destination. He himself hired a yawl to Kinghorn, and was fortunate 
enough to meet Lord Melville and his second son, the Earl of Leven, at 
Balbimie Bridge, on their way to Wemyss Castle. 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. viii. p. 34. 


Lord Melville, unconscious of any cause of offence, was not at first 
alarmed, but was persuaded to go directly to the ferry, until the movements 
of the dragoons could be ascertained. These arrived at Melville that night 
with a warrant of arrest, and this intelligence being conveyed to Lord 
Melville, he and his son took boat to Berwick, whence they travelled with 
all speed to London. There he endeavoured to gain an audience of the king, 
but without success. He had, however, an interview with the Duke of York, 
who received him courteously, and denied all knowledge of a warrant against 
him. By the duke's interest he obtained an audience of the king, but met 
with a very cool reception. On his leaving the presence he met a friend, who, 
surprised at seeing him, exclaimed, " Lord Melville, what are you doing here 
— do you know there is a warrant out to apprehend you ? " Melville replied 
that he had done nothing to offend the king, and trusted to his Majesty's 
justice and his own innocence, but that night a messenger came to his 
lodgings to seize him, and he only escaped arrest by a stratagem of his land- 
lady's. He changed his residence and his name, but two days later he and 
his son were arrested by a party of dragoons. Before they were carried off, 
however, a Mr. Nairn, a page of the Duchess of Monmouth, arrived on the 
scene, and begged a private interview with the prisoners in name of the 
duchess. This was granted, when the page told Lord Melville from the 
duchess that his life was at stake, and that she advised immediate escape. 
This was effected with the aid of the page, who accompanied the fugitives, 
and they all reached Wapping safely, and embarked for Holland. 1 

The narrative quoted does not give the date of this escape, but it must 
have been some time about the middle of July 1683, as a proclamation 
issued on the 28th of that month refers to Lord Melville as being then out 
of the kingdom. 2 He attached himself to the court of the Prince of Orange, 
where he was well received and gained the favour of his Highness. He 
appears to have remained in Holland until some time after the Prince of 
Orange sailed for England in November 1688. It has been stated that 
Lord Melville was one of those who accompanied Monmouth on his ill- 
fated expedition, but this is not borne out by evidence. He himself stated 

1 Leven and Melville Papers, Barmatyne ms. in Melville Charter-chest. 
Club, pp. xiii, xiv, compared with original 2 Wodrow, ed. 1722, vol. ii. app. No. 89. 

VOL. I. 2 C 


in a vindication of his conduct, written by him in 1703, that he was opposed 
to both the expeditions by Monmouth and Argyll, and that he took no part 
in the latter is proved by his interview with James Stewart, who wished 
him to subscribe towards the expense. The interview is noted at length by 
Lord Melville himself ; here it need only be said that he did, after many 
objections, grant a bond for £500, but the expedition had sailed before 
this was done. 1 

Argyll's force left Holland on or before 1st May 1685, and was followed 
a few weeks later by Monmouth's descent upon England. The disastrous 
fate of this enterprise is well known, but Margaret, Countess of Wemyss, 
when she writes to Lord Melville's son as to the probable fate of the unhappy 
duke, 2 makes no reference to his father, and it may thus be considered 
certain, in view also of Lord Melville's own testimony, that he was not pre- 
sent. But though this was so, his person and estate were proceeded against 
as if he had been guilty. In January 1684 he had been summoned to appear 
before the privy council of Scotland, but on the day named, 8th April, 
certificates were produced, signed by physicians in Holland, that he was 
unable to travel. In November of the same year proceedings against him 
were resumed, and in June 1685, after the rebellion, he was formally declared 
a rebel by parliament, and his estates were forfeited and annexed to 
the Crown. His wife, Lady Melville, endeavoured to avert this sentence, 
by producing the attestation by the Duke of Monmouth relative to the 
year 1679, but the plea was rejected. 3 At a later date, some compromise 
was effected, by which Lady Melville and her family probably benefited. 
Lord Tarbat seems to have forwarded in July 1685 a petition by Melville 
to King James, but no immediate answer is recorded. 4 Lord Fountainhall 
records, of date October 1686, that Lord Melville "obtains a pardon for 
life and fortune, but pays a large sum to the Secretary" — then the Earl 
of Melfort. In January following King James the Seventh wrote to the 
lords of the Scottish treasury that he had extended his clemency to Lord 
Melville, and had granted his forfeited estates to his eldest son, the Master of 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 184-187. vol. viii. p. 491, App. pp. 59-65. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 235, 236. 4 Letter, Lord Tarbat to Lord Melville, 

3 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 7th July 16S5, in Melville Charter-chest. 


Melville. The king also expressed his intention of acknowledging the ser- 
vices of the family by dissolving the lands from the Crown with a view to 
restitution ; meanwhile new infeftments were to be granted to the Master 
of Melville. 1 For this favour Melville paid the large composition of £3000 
sterling, in addition to £200 of yearly rent. 2 

Notwithstanding these acts of clemency, Lord Melville continued to 
reside in Holland, and, as already indicated, did not leave that country until 
some time after the Prince of Orange. He arrived in England after William 
and Mary had been proclaimed king and queen, and was at once sent down 
to Scotland to attend the convention of estates, which was to meet on 14th 
March 1689. His instructions are dated the 7th of that month, and his 
name is inserted in the roll of those present on the opening day, but does not 
occur in the proceedings until 27th March, when he was appointed one 
of a committee to settle the government. As a result of this committee's 
labours, and of the reasons they adduced, the estates on 11th April declared 
the throne to be vacant, and resolved that William and Mary should be king 
and queen of Scotland, a proclamation being immediately issued to that 
effect. 3 

On 25th April 1689 Melville received a letter from King William, in 
which the king says he is confirmed in the opinion he had long held of Mel- 
ville's concern for his interest and service. The wish is at the same time 
expressed that in some things the convention had proceeded otherwise than 
they had done, but as to this the king does not blame Melville, rather agree- 
ing with the latter that something is reasonably to be sacrificed to gain time, 
" since no inconveniency is more irreparable than that of delay." It is some- 
what difficult to understand from the proceedings in the convention wherein 
they fell short of the king's wish, but it would appear from a draft in Lord 
Melville's handwriting that he had prepared an act embodying his instruc- 
tions, and which may have been seen by the king, though it was either not 
submitted to the convention, or perhaps was objected to on account of its 
comprising too many subjects in one act. It not only narrated the past 

1 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 29, 30. to the Earl of Perth. 

2 Ibid. p. 30. Part of this sum was granted 3 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 
to the Viscount of Tarbat, and the other half vol. ix. p. 22. 


history of Scotland, but it aimed at declaring the throne vacant, proclaiming 
William and Mary as king and queen, establishing the church, and uniting 
the two kingdoms, all in and by one enactment. 1 Although these measures 
could not thus be dealt with, steps were taken to forward some of them, but the 
confused state of parties prevented concerted action. The king in his letter 
specially desired Lord Melville's attendance at court as his adviser, and also his 
opinion in writing as to what further should be done in the convention. 2 

The convention on 29th April adjourned for a few weeks, and Melville at 
once obeyed the king's command to come to court. He was present on the 
11th of May, when the crown of Scotland was offered to and accepted by the 
king and queen. The Earl of Argyll, Sir James Montgomerie of Skelmorlie, 
and Sir John Dalrymple, were commissioned by the convention to present 
the offer of the crown with the conditions attached to it, and to hear the new 
monarchs take the oath. It was afterwards made the subject of dispute 
whether the instructions given by the convention had been accurately carried 
out, and insinuations were made against Sir John Dalrymple that he had 
betrayed the liberties of his country. In a letter from the Earl of Argyll to 
the Duke of Hamilton, giving, on behalf of himself and Sir James Mont- 
gomerie, a private account of what was done, the earl writes in a somewhat 
querulous tone about the Dalrymples, and places Lord Melville in the same 
category. He says, " When we [the commissioners] parted [from Edinburgh], 
the father and son [Sir John Dalrymple and his father, Sir James] were thought 
hard enough matches for us without ther being reinforced by Lord Melvin, 
and yet we should have made our partie good enough against them if we had 
had that assistance from you in relation to Melvin that you were obliged to 
have given us, both upon your own account and to vindicat that publickt 
affront he had thrown upon the estates by his coming away without libertie." 
In another place the earl writes, " They strugled hard to defeat the grivances 
by proposing they should not be read till after the king had taken the oath, 
iiotwithstanding we were instructed to the contrarie, but they failed in it." 3 
It is evident from this letter that the writer was jealous of Melville's 

1 Draft Act in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 15. 

3 Historical mss. Commission Report on Hamilton Papers, p. 182. 


influence with the king, and he was probably unaware of the king's command 
that Melville should come to court. 

One of King William's first acts, after receiving the crown of Scotland, 
was to appoint Lord Melville sole secretary of state for that country. This 
appointment was made on the 13th May 1689. The letter already cited from 
Argyll and Montgomerie, which is dated on the previous day, 12th May, 
suggests that Duke Hamilton should write to the king to make exact inquiry 
after persons and things before he fill the great offices, especially the secre- 
taries' places, as all places will shortly be filled " by those persons' direc- 
tions." x But the king's promptitude apparently disappointed this plan. 
Melville received many congratulatory letters on his accession to office, but 
it also gave rise to many ill-natured remarks, the composition of the new 
privy council being specially objected to. Melville was accused of com- 
plicity with the Dalrymples, of introducing the " country's old oppressors " to 
the council. On the other hand, he was declared to be " a good and sober 
man," and his nominations were accepted as being as good as any possible in 
the circumstances. So at least ran the current comments, but such need not 
here be enlarged upon. Lord Melville had a very difficult task to perform, 
and that he felt it to be so is evident from his more confidential letters. Thus, 
writing to Sir Patrick Hume of Polwarth, he says : " It hath indeed been my 
misfortune to be mistaken when I have been, according to my knowledge, 
acting with the greatest sinceritie for my countre and the publick interest ; 
but I am hopefull, as it has hitherto been my endeavour, so it shall for the 
future be my care so to manage myselfe, through divine assistance, that my 
actions, upon strictest search, may be lyable to no just blame." He points 
out to Sir Patrick that mistaken measures, even of such persons as are 
desirous for the public good, give a bad impression of affairs, and that even 
Sir Patrick himself was unconsciously promoting what he most wished to 
avoid. He defends his own appointment as sole secretary, not only because 
it was the king's wish, but because the king himself understood and looked 
narrowly into affairs. He concludes by repeating that it is his desire rightly, 
by the help of God, to discharge the duties of his office. 2 

1 Historical mss. Commission Report on Hamilton Papers, p. 1S3. 

2 Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 55-57, 13th June 1689. 


In such a spirit did Melville take up the duties of his new office, but he 
was not well supported even by those who shared his views. The conven- 
tion had been turned into a parliament, which met on 5th June 1689, under 
the Duke of Hamilton as high commissioner, but it had scarcely begun its 
sittings before it came into collision with the Crown, a position which it 
more or less maintained during its existence. The points on which the 
opposition insisted were — (1) the abolition of the committee of parliament 
known as the lords of articles, it being contended that fixed committees 
were a grievance; (2) the question of the appointment by the Crown or by 
parliament of the judges of the court of session ; and (3) an act for incapaci- 
tating from office all those who had served under the late government — a 
measure specially directed against the Dalrymples. On these matters dis- 
sension ran high, and no efforts of the king or Melville could allay the 
excitement or conciliate the opposition. The latter did not hesitate to make 
charges against the secretary, but, as will be shown, he was really believed to be 
honest in his intentions, and incorruptible in his fidelity to the government. 

In consequence of these proceedings, the parliament of 1689 was hastily 
adjourned on 2d August, after a sitting of two months, during which practi- 
cally nothing was done. It is unnecessary to detail its proceedings, or their 
reference to Lord Melville, as we have few or no evidences of his direct 
interference, though he was the king's principal adviser, and received direct 
intelligence of all that took place. But his own opinion may be quoted from 
a letter, one of the few of his known to be extant at this period, written to 
the Earl of Crawford on 30th July 1689, after the order for adjournment had 
been issued. Lord Crawford was president of the parliament, and a staunch 
supporter of Lord Melville, who thus writes : — " I am much troubled with the 
relation you give me of affaires with yow. I am very sensible of the difficult 
task yow have ; I pray God direct both yow and me. Things seeme to have 
a very bad prospect ; I know not well what to writ or what to advice yow." 
He refers to the intended adjournment, and continues : — " As for the setle- 
ment of church government " — a matter constantly pressed upon the parlia- 
ment, and as often put aside—" I see so many difficulties in it as things 
presently stands, what from one party and another, that I cannot see through 
it, nor do I know whither it be better it ly over a while." 


Lord Melville then proceeds to advise the clergy : " I wish the ministers 
and others truly concerned for ther interest, may be at one among them- 
selves, and may be very sober, and not give those who may be watching for 
their halting advantage. Ther are abundance to misrepresent them and 
there way. Men most take what they can have in a cleanly way, when they 
cannot have all they would. I wish they may understand and distinguish 
weell betuixt their friends and others. I know not well whither to advyse if 
they should send up on or tuo of ther number. If men were more free of 
humour and jealousy, and a fit person or persons could be fallen one, it would 
seeme not amiss, but whom you or I might thinke proper on severall accounts 
may not be so, either for a court or conversing with other here, and for a 
thing to be done and not to purpose, especially when expensive, does not 
import much ; however, I should thinke it wer not amiss that they should be 
at pains to draw up somwhat for removing the aspersions cast on them and 
their way, and show what are ther principles and demands, and the soberer 
the better, and what they think expedients in this conjuncture to be pro- 
posed. They have Mr. Adair here, who might communicate to others, both 
of English and Scots, of ther own persuasion, and take ther advice and assist- 
ance. I am affraid our divisions and managment may do great hurt to the 
publick setlment, and may endanger the bringing that on or about which 
men seemes to fear, for it 's scarce to be imagined that some men's way and 
procedure, if as related, can be acceptable." Lord Melville concludes by 
asking information as to particular persons. 1 

A further exposition of Lord Melville's views, as to his own policy at this 
date, occurs in a paper addressed by him to the king about 1691, in vindica- 
tion of his administration, a paper which was revised and annotated by Mr. 
Carstairs, who therefore doubtless approved of it. Lord Melville begins by 
stating that it was duty and zeal for the king's service rather than any 
interest of his own that prompted him to be concerned in public affairs. He 
thanks the king for his generosity, and adds : " I cannot boast of merit in 
serving of your Majesty, while all that I could or can doe cannot but come 
short of what I and all true Protestants of these kingdoms doe owe to him 
who under God did deliver us from greatest misery." In regard to the con- 
1 Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 210, 211. 


vention, Lord Melville claims to have successfully carried through the king's 
instructions, and securing a speedy settlement of the government without 
limitations which might disagreeably affect the king, and without diminishing 
the power of the Crown. Of the period now under consideration Lord Mel- 
ville says : " When I had the honour to be sole secretarrie of state to your 
Majesty for your ancient kingdom all my advices and actings were, according 
to my capacity, regulated with a respect, not so much to the gratefeing of the 
humor of any party, as the laying of such foundations as might give no just 
ground of complaint to any, but might make all sensible that in a hearty sub- 
mission to your Majesty's government they might expect your protection." 
He states that he, to that end, nominated such persons in the several 
judicatories of the nation as seemed to be for the king's true interest, both in 
England and Scotland ; and this, he adds, " will sufficiently appear, if it be 
considered that by doeing thus I was exposed to the displeasure of not a few 
of my own persuasion, and did the rather lessen than advance my interest in 
the kingdom, many of those I then named being persons in whom I had no 
particular concern, and from whom I have had litle proof either of gratitude 
or kindenes, having alwise resolved that integrity in your service and your 
Majesty's favour should be my only support." * 

Shortly before the adjournment of the parliament, Melville received the 
news of Mackay's defeat at Killiecrankie, the details of which were at first 
confused and exaggerated. It was believed that the greater part of Mackay's 
officers were killed, and it was expected that Dundee would become master of 
a great part of the north of Scotland, and perhaps gain possession of Stirling- 
Castle. Strong appeals were made for the aid of troops from England. 
General Mackay in his memoirs charges both King William and Melville 
with indifference to the military interests of Scotland and with turning a deaf 
ear to his advice. But there was no want of promptitude in responding to the 
appeal of the Scottish authorities. The battle of Killiecrankie was fought on 
27th July, on the 28th the Duke of Hamilton wrote to Melville, and on the 
1st of August orders were issued for the march of troops towards Scotland.' 2 
Meanwhile, however, more correct intelligence as to Mackay's position, and 
the news of Dundee's death, had reached Edinburgh, and the excitement was 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 219, 220. 2 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 140, 141. 


somewhat allayed, the fate of Dundee being looked upon almost as a victory 
for the government. 

On this being communicated to Melville, the march of troops from the 
south was countermanded, as even Hamilton thought the forces in Scotland 
were sufficient to repress the rebellion, and a little later the Earl of Crawford 
wrote stating that there were more troops in Scotland than the country could 
support without free quartering, which he deprecated. 1 On the 8 th of August 
Lord Melville wrote to General Mackay congratulating him upon his safety 
after Killiecrankie, and his success in a later skirmish, and trusting he would 
be a happy and eminent instrument for settling the country. He suggests 
that Mackay should send up Lord Leven, " for its not unneedful to have 
things pressed a little by one that is concerned ; and if you shall judge it 
proper to do so, you would write very particularly and show how necessary 
money is on many accounts, for some considerable sum timously bestowed 
might go a great way in settling things, save much blood, the fatigueing of 
the forces, harassing the country and also much expense to the long run ; for 
our nation is at present, not only in a very low and poor, but in a very un- 
setled condition on many accounts." This sentence refers to Melville's views 
about the pacification of the Highlands, which he believed might be brought 
about by privately buying the chiefs, and thus diverting their allegiance from 
King James. 

On this point, after stating that the king had ordered a proclamation 
of indemnity to those rebels who should lay down arms, acknowledge 
the government and promise to live peaceably, Melville continues, " But 
I doubt [if] this will prove very effectual unless they be very weak and out 
of hopes of assistance from Ireland ; for you know there are many private 
reasons besides the late King James's interest that foments this quarell ; so 
that I am still of the opinion that transactions with some of the chief of them 
to break them among themselves would be the safest and best way. Yoti 
know this was my opinion before I came from Scotland ; but money was 
wanting, and likewise you may perceive there has been more in this business 
than many then thought, though I was suspicious at that time, and am yet 
a little, of some who have not yet publickly discovered themselves." Lord 

1 Letter, 19th October 1689, in Melville Charter-chest. 
VOL. I. 2D 


Melville states that the king consents to bestow money on the scheme, which 
he again recommends as saving trouble and fatigue to the troops. 

This was not a new scheme on Lord Melville's part. So early as April of 
this year the king had written to him, in answer to his expressed opinion, 
that if he thought Lord Tarbat could be serviceable in quieting the north, he 
should encourage him going there. The king adds, that a distribution of 
money among the Highlanders being thought the most likely way to satisfy 
them, he had given orders for five or six thousand pounds to be sent to Major 
General Mackay for that purpose. It does not appear that this money was 
sent immediately ; but shortly after the date of the king's letter, General 
Mackay wrote to Lord Tarbat, in answer to the latter's fear of being mis- 
represented to the king, that he had written assuring his Majesty of Tarbat's 
zeal and desire to see the government established in the king's person. 
Mackay writes that in this the king " cannot doe better than hold himself 
to the testimony of my Lord Melvill, who is so attached to his Majestie's 
service and the interest of the Protestant religion, that he would not recom- 
mend his son if he thought him capable to act against those principles," 
adding, " I did commit to your direction and prudence the management of 
the difference betwixt the Highland clans and Annie, who was the first 
mover of it. I pray you then, my lord, loose no tyme to gain Locheyl, 
assuring him from me of the king's favour and consideration if he shew him- 
self active in breaking the Highland combination." x The negotiations, how- 
ever, if they were ever begun, certainly failed at that time, no doubt, as Lord 
Melville states, owing to the conflicting interests at work, but he seems to 
have still cherished the hope of settling the country in that way. The " sus- 
picions " of which he speaks probably related to Lord Breadalbane. 

In September 1689 the party who had been in opposition to the govern- 
ment measures in the parliament lately adjourned prepared a representation 
or petition to the king, which was signed by several noblemen and a number 
of commissioners for shires and burghs. In this they complained bitterly of 
the government policy, and commented on the acts which had been voted by 
the estates but had not been ratified by the crown. The petitioners defended 
these acts, and while protesting the utmost loyalty alleged various reasons 
1 The Earls of Cromartie, by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., vol. i. pp. 61, 62. 


for their opposition. 1 It may be to the movement for this petition that Lord 
Crawford refers in a letter to Lord Melville in August 1689 : " I am much 
perplexed that I find a storme ariseing against you, by persons pretendedly 
your friends, and who have little power except what they have under your 
wings. I would have spared this warning to you, but that some of your 
relations, by smooth words, are imposed upon to have other thoughts of 
such. Yet I am certain that treachery is design'd, and a combination with 
your enimies entered into, which may be fatall, if you be not on your guard ; 
and the countrie shall be ruined by those persons being in the government, 
who are yet to begin to lean to King William's interest as they shall find it 
their advantage or not. . . . Examine this information with your first pos- 
sible conveniency, and delay not till matters are past cure, and your credit at 
court be undermined." 2 

The Earl of Annandale, Lord Eoss, and Sir James Montgomerie of Skel- 
morlie, were three of the chief promoters of the petition. 3 They hastened to 
London to press the matter before the king in person. One point on which 
they were anxious was the appointment of the judges of the court of session. 
The estates had voted that the judges should be appointed by parliament, 
whereas the king claimed the right of nomination for the crown, but the peti- 
tioners opposed this and hoped to gain acceptance to their views. An 
unpublished letter from David (afterwards Sir David) Nairn to the Earl of 
Leven gives some account of their proceedings, and may be quoted : — 

"Your lordship may remember before I went to Newmarket I told you 
what progress was made by the three, viz., Annandale, Ross, and Skellmorlie. 
They came all to Newmarket on Mnnday the 14th, acompanyd with Mr. 
Johnstone, their stout agent amongst the English. When they came to Court 
there they went into the bed-chamber, as others ; it is said that Annandale 
desired to speak with his Majesty, which was refused. This they took as I could 
wish ; but, indeed, it might have hapned to any who had not pressing business, 

1 Paper printed, vol. iii. of this work, pp. 3 It has been said that Sir Patrick Hume 
209-212, the date being there inadvertently of Polwarth presented the petition, but we 
given as September 1690, though it was pre- learn from Forbes of Cullodeu that though he 
sented a year earlier. was brought from a sick-bed to do it, Anuan- 

2 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 260, 20th dale made the actual presentation. 
Au ?ust 1689. 


for excepting such the king shun'd all ; however, their constant caire was to ply 
Portland, who I doe confess to your lordship I look upon to be too much their 
freind, tho' others who knows better asurs me of the contrarie, and says he 
only smoths them to have them quiet, but that I thinke is not the way. In 
short, the main point they solicet soe hard for at Newmarket was to delay 
the nameing of the judges. One that hard the conference one day told me 
that they told Portland that they hard it was to be done immediately ; this 
was on Wedensday the 9th, and Portland answered, Doe not truble yourselves, 
it will not be done, and immediatly he went to the king, where my lord 
secretarie (Melville) was with the list ready, and it was not done." 

The writer continues — 

" Now since they [Annandale, etc.] came from Newmarket, they have been 
working to get their adress presented, and they are given to understand that 
the king will heare when they will. They talked of doeing it yesterday morn- 
ing, then it was put off till the afternoon, then till this morning, but it was 
five at night when I came from thence, and it was not done. It 's said that 
they can not agree who shall present it ; the king has heard all of them, and 
they have noe reason to bragg of kinde entertainment. The whole clubb is 
now shatering ; none waits on my lord secretarie more assidously then Colloden, 
Pitliver, Rikertone, and others, and more wold, but my lord does not incouradge, 
by which you may see he thinks himselfe in noe danger. My lord advocate, 
Arbruchell, and some others of my lord's freinds within these few days have been 
frequently with Portland, and they are of oppinion that he is extremely fixed. The 
Bishop of Salsburry [Burnet] I hear is come to town this day, and our parliament 
sits on Saturday ; he and Mr. Johnston are busie men, and wee have some here 
that taks fire with litle sparks, and if they joyne with ours they may be truble- 
some, tho' they will not better themselves. The nomination of the lords [of 
Session] is yet put off till Friday, which is hard enugh, and in the mean time all 
industry is useing with Enstruther and some others here, not [to] accept, and I 
question not but many letters will be write on that subject this night. It is not 
thought needfull to be very earnest with Eankillor ; the maister [of Melville] 
knows him better than I can tell him." 1 

A few days later the king and Melville nominated the judges of session, 
who, after the usual formalities, took their seats without disturbance, 

1 Letter, dated 15th October 16S9, in Mel- of that Ilk and Archibald Hope of Rankeillor 
ville Charter-chest. Sir William Anstruther were two of the intended lords of Session. 


although the opposition party, or " club," as they were called, did endeavour 
to raise difficulties. Another matter, however, and one in which Lord 
Melville took a deep interest, engaged more attention. This was the settling 
of church-government, as to which Melville wrote to the ministers that the 
king had instructed his commissioner (Hamilton) to secure it without any 
limitation but what might be most acceptable to his people, and was so 
anxious to satisfy Scotland on the point that he had repeated his instruc- 
tions. These had been neglected by Parliament, but Melville assured the 
ministers that the king continued still in the same mind. At a later date 
the ministers acknowledged that Lord Melville had materially aided their 
cause. 1 The Earl of Crawford, a staunch presbyterian, writes in reference to 
the same subject of Melville's " eminent zeal for building the house of God," 
which he is convinced his lordship will never regret, whatever enemies it 
may have stirred up against him. " Allow me, my lord, to say of your lord- 
ship's late defeating the designs of the Bishop of Salisbury, and others of 
that way for reponing the conform ministers, as the people said of Jonathan, 
that you wrought with God that day, and brought about a great salvation to 
his church; for that course had certainly, at least for a time effectually, 
embroylled the nation and ruined the presbiterian interest, whereas that 
partie deserves not common pitie if they will not venture to the outmost for 
your lordship, who hath pawnded your all, of a worldly concern, in your 
bold appearing for them at such a criticall juncture." 2 

A promise, which is first mentioned in Sir David Nairn's letter, that King 
William would in person come to Scotland, gave great joy to many, in the 
hope that his presence would give some settlement to the party divisions in 
the kingdom, but the promise was not fulfilled. Affairs in Ireland required 
the king's serious attention, and he at last resolved that the Scottish parlia- 
ment should be held as before under a commissioner. The Duke of Hamil- 
ton was, as a matter of courtesy, first named, but he refused to accept, and 
Lord Melville was then formally appointed. He was privately very unwill- 
ing to take the position thus conferred upon him, but he was trusted 
by the king, and he believed he could not refuse without hazarding the 
king's affairs. At the same time he fully realised the difficulties in his 

1 Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 312, 329. 2 23d November 16S9 ; ibid. p. 330. 


way, as appears from statements by himself. One of his difficulties 
was indicated by Lord Crawford in December 1689, who quoted a report 
to the effect that Annandale, Eoss, and Skelmorlie, whose designs had 
hitherto failed, were yet " hopefull to hough Melvill and defeat all his 
presbiterian projects." x 

This danger took an aggravated form at a later date ; but when Lord 
Crawford wrote there was no expectation that Lord Melville would be com- 
missioner, and it was only his general policy which was aimed at. But in the 
end of February 1690 the king had decided on his course, and issued his 
instructions to Melville. These instructions, according to a paper written 
by Duncan Forbes of Culloden, father of tbe famous President Forbes, were 
based upon, and gave effect to, certain proposals made by Sir Patrick Hume 
of Polwarth and himself when in London. They were active members of 
the " club," or country party, and appear to have had interviews both with 
the king and Melville, who desired them to use their influence with their 
party, which had hitherto been in opposition, to promote the plans of the 
government. But to assume that the views of the king and Melville, 
however they may have been modified by the representations of Hume 
and Culloden, were based upon these, is not warranted by the facts. Both 
Melville and his master were men of moderation, and had the good of the 
country at heart. They were willing to deal with men of all parties for that 
end, and the instructions issued to Melville in February 1690 will be found 
to be nearly identical with those issued in May 1689 to the Duke of 
Hamilton, but which were in a great measure frustrated by the opposition. 2 
Melville indeed had special and probably private instructions from the king 
to deal with any members of a party to gain their co-operation, and in this 
capacity he dealt with Hume and Forbes, who were evidently satisfied with 
the government proposals and agreed to further them. 

Hume and Forbes left London in the beginning of February, and on their 
arrival in Edinburgh at once set to work to gain their party. 3 So at 
least they wrote to the king and Lord Melville, and though they found unex- 

1 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 357. liaments of Scotland, vol. ix. .A pp. pp. 125, 


2 Ibid. pp. 414, 415 ; cf. Acts of the Par- 3 Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 402, 403. 


pected difficulties in their way, events show that in some measure they 
effected their purpose. Melville himself followed about a month later, 
but owing to the king's objection to the English and Scottish parlia- 
ments sitting simultaneously, the latter was more than once adjourned. 
As this gave rise to discontent, the king at last authorised Melville to 
open the session on 15th April, which was done. A few days before, 
the king had promoted the commissioner to the dignity of earl, for his 
great and faithful services, his firm adherence to the reformed religion, his 
constant fidelity to the royal family, and especially his good offices in 
regard to the king's accession. 1 

The earl in opening the session of parliament made a speech in which he 
struck the key-note of his own and the king's policy. He explained the 
cause of the king's absence in spite of his real desire to be present, and 
assured the house of his Majesty's intention to visit Scotland, adding that the 
king would no longer delay their meeting for giving such a settlement to 
the nation as would secure its religion and true liberty. The earl then dwelt 
on what the king had done for the nation, and touching lightly on past dis- 
putes, said, " He refuseth nothing that can be justly demanded ; his uncontro- 
verted rights are only valued by him as they are useful for your good and 
security." He then stated that he was commanded to tell them that the king 
was resolved to live and die in the sincere profession of the true Protestant 
religion, and was about to expose his person in its defence ; and was also 
willing to concur with them for the settlement of church and state upon 
such solid foundations that they need not again fear a relapse into former 
evils. After enumerating a few measures which were proposed, and beseech- 
ing the parliament to behave with zeal for the good of the country and 
the king's honour, and to lay aside animosities, the earl added, " I hope you 
will not take it ill that I mind you of that useful precept of the, apostle, Let 
your moderation be known unto all men. For the unfriends of our nation 
have taken occasion to reproach us more for the vehemence of our temper 
than any thing else." He concluded with expressing the high honour the 
king had done him, and that he had no design before him but the public 
good ; while he hoped his deportment and sufferings in the past would secure 
1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 205-207. 


him from all suspicion of being a promoter of arbitrary power of which the 
king had no design. 1 

Moderation was the principle which Melville not only inculcated, but acted 
upon. He controlled the debates in the house, cutting them short when they 
threatened to impede business, and dismissing the subject when they were 
frivolous, and he succeeded in passing important acts which had not been 
ratified in the previous session. He also induced the House to pass 
a modified form of the act abolishing the lords of articles, and pro- 
viding committees appointed by the whole estates — a question which had 
caused much bitterness. On 7th June 1690 the act for settling church 
government in Scotland was passed, which ratified the Westminster Con- 
fession of Faith and established presbytery. At a later date an act 
abolishing patronages was passed, and on the same day another, which 
not only completed the abolition of prelacy, but, by rescinding all acts 
enjoining civil penalties upon sentences of excommunication, prevented all 
intolerant severities which might have arisen had the powers of the prelates 
been transferred to the new ecclesiastical establishment. 2 

It is probable that this last-named act passed almost unnoticed by the 
presbyterian clergy, but they were deeply grateful to Melville, as well as to 
the king, for the favour shown to them, and the earl's administration appears 
to have given general satisfaction. On 18th September 1690 a letter from 
the Scottish council to the king, largely signed even by those who in the for- 
mer session had been in opposition, gives this testimony : — " Your Majesties 
commissioner, the Earl of Melvill, hath manadged that great trust reposed 
in him with much dexteritie and dilligence. Ther was never greater freedom 
in parliament or councill in ther reasonings and resolutiones, and yett with- 
out giveing offence or irritation to any. He hath brought matters calmely 
to a good issue, and wee hope the settlements made shall be manadged in 
the course of the government with such moderatione that your reigne shall 
be comfortable to your subjects, and without trouble to your Majestie." 3 

A week or two later, a representative body of ministers wrote in similar 
terms to the king, thanking him for, inter alia, the establishment of Pres- 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, - Ibid. vol. ix. pp. Ill, 133, 196, 198. 
vol. ix. App. p. 88. 3 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 531. 

melville's view of his position. 217 

byterianism by the ministry of the Earl of Melville, " to whose wise and 
steddie conduct, and faithfull and diligent management," they chiefly ascribe 
their " happy setlement." 1 

This result, however, was brought about under great difficulties. Sir 
John Dalrymple, in his " Memoirs of Great Britain and Ireland," says that 
Lord Melville as commissioner, and Lord Stair, president of the court of ses- 
sion, alarmed by junction of the country and Jacobite parties, hastened to get 
every bill passed which was likely to please the people, even though at the 
expense of the Crown, while the Master of Stair induced the country party to 
separate from the Jacobites, and they broke away from Montgomerie, Eoss, 
and Aunandale. 2 This statement is not inconsistent with Melville's own 
account of the matter, but it does not cover the whole ground, nor reveal all 
the perplexities which beset Melville in his post as commissioner. As 
already indicated, the country party had been partly gained ere Melville 
was formally appointed, while the Jacobite tendencies of Eoss and the others 
were not clearly known until a month after parliament began its work, 
or even later. These hindrances to progress were, therefore, less formidable 
than might otherwise have been the case. 

Before commenting on the plot which was associated with the names of 
Montgomerie and his accomplices, and which was meant to wreck both the 
government and the nation, Melville's own statement of his position, as 
given in a letter to an unknown correspondent, probably Monsieur d'Alonne, 
the queen's secretary, may here be quoted. He begins by stating his unwill- 
ingness, except for the king's service, to undertake the work : — " I did forsee 
the dangers of such a station thogh in a more setled tyme, and the difficulties 
I was like to meet with. 3 ... I am farr from thinking either the difficulties 
or danger over, thogh this may be thought malancholy, for this nation is in 
a strange unsettled condition, more than can be weell apprehended by those 
at a distance." The earl then refers at some length to the plot, and certain 
discoveries and information regarding it, and continues : — " I know I may be 

1 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 534. lie had been aided "better nor I or any other 

2 Dalrymple's Memoirs, vol. i. p. 127. could rationally propose, or many did think," 

3 At this point the earl expresses thankful- evidently in allusion to the agreement with 
ness that, even before he undertook the office, Hume and Forbes, and their party. 

VOL. I. 2 E 


blamed that I have not don more to crush this design sooner, and to secure 
persons concerned, but I can sufficientlie Justine myself, and I am unwilling 
to lay the blame elsewhere. ... I have had possibly the difficultest ghame 
to play since I left you that ever a subject in Brittain had these hundreds of 
years, a strong combination of many severall interests on the one side, many 
both great, active, and dilligent men amongst them, and a weake, disapointed, 
and abused people on the other; an army without pay and many of them 
very ill appointed ; many both insufficient and scarce to be trusted officers 
and ready to mutiny ; the country like to doe the same, partly through the 
oppression of the souldiers, and partly through other discontents, and the 
jealousies cunning and malicious men have made their work to raise in them ; 
a general who would follow no councell, who has no comprehension of affairs, 
and with whom I could not use that freedom was necessary upon such an 
exigent, though he be a very honest man himselfe, because he is influenced 
and easily abused by others, and enteted with what he once takes a resolu- 
tion of; no money in the exchequer to defray any necessary expense." Lord 
Melville here refers to the ill-paid and starving condition of particular 
regiments, and adds : " So you may easily judge how hard a taske I have, 
then an open enemie in armes wasting the country, and aboundance of secrett 
ones in our bosomes, which I fear is much more." 

Such, at least in Melville's view, were the difficulties of his position, but 
he met them with fortitude, and by his steady loyalty and cautious but 
firm statesmanship guided matters to a successful issue, and as will be seen, 
won praise even from his opponents. The principal of these, since Hume 
and Forbes had been won over, were the Earl of Annandale, Lord Eoss, and 
Sir James Montgomerie of Skelmorlie. Montgomerie had hoped to be 
appointed secretary of state, while Lord Eoss desired the office of president 
of session. They had joined with the opposition in the first session of par- 
liament, and Montgomerie at least bore the character of a very strict presby- 
terian. As already stated, they had endeavoured to present a petition to 
King William, but this gave offence, and they lost the king's favour. Seeing 
this, Sir James Montgomerie, whose plans were already formed, proposed 
offering their services to the exiled King James. This was done by cor- 
respondence, but the conspirators, believing their party, that is, the party in 


opposition, to be the majority in the Scottish parliament, hoped to achieve 
their end by constitutional means, by forcing King William to dissolve par- 
liament, expecting that when a new one was summoned they would obtain 
a majority favourable to the return of King James. 

Such were their intentions, and on returning to Scotland they put their 
schemes into operation. Pretending still to belong to the country party, who 
only objected to certain measures, they yet joined with the Jacobites in their 
policy of obstruction. Every endeavour was made to induce the Jacobites to 
take the oaths, so that from their numbers on the one hand, and on the other 
a pretended zeal for the liberty of the subject, which gained many of the 
country party, the conspirators had great hopes of success. But by their 
own admission their plans were wholly frustrated, chiefly by the influence of 
the Earl of Melville. Sir James Montgomerie, who was the originator of the 
plot and a shrewd observer, reported to King James in 1693 on the state of 
political parties, and thus referred to Melville. " For myself I did indeed 
attribute all that was called his [Melville's] witt to his warrienes and 
timorous disposition till his carriage in parliament 1690, tho both I and 
others took wayes both at that time and before to affright him, besides our 
endeavours to make things heavie to him, yet all would not doe, and [he] 
became successfull beyond expectation. But much of this might proceed 
from good luck more than good guyding, tho it must be acknowledged he 
managed with more closenes, steadienes, and firmnes then we did imagine, 
and was luckie in his discoveries, which broak all measures." 1 This, in a 
paper which was specially written to depreciate Melville's statesmanship, is 
high praise, and we have from another conspirator testimony to the same 
effect. The Earl of Annandale stated in his confession that they were 
speedily disappointed of their success, for the parliament had sat only a few 
days, when they plainly saw that the " dissenters " or opposition country 
party had got " such a confidance in the Earle of Melvill's sinceritie, both for 
the interest of the king and libertie of the people, and seeing us openly apeir 
with thos they concluded Jacobits they left us almost in evrie vott, so that 
the Jacobits fynding that grat inconveniances might aryse to them from so 
publick ane apeirance against the interest of the king and settehnent of the 
1 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 229, 230. 


nation, they told us plainlie they wold leave us, and concur in the monay bill, 
which was the chiff thing that from the begining we wer all resolved to 
oppose. Thus the mesur of getting the parliament dissolved being brook, we 
brook amongst ourselves, and evrie on looked to ther own saiftie." 1 

This they did by each conspirator doing his best to betray the others, or at 
least to make terms for himself from the very man whose administration they 
had plotted to frustrate. The act granting supply was passed on 7th June 
1690, but the intended desertion of the Jacobite party must have been 
known to the conspirators some time previously, as on 30th May an anony- 
mous letter was addressed to Melville giving a brief account of the origin of 
the plot, and also of a scheme for King James landing in Scotland and Eng- 
land with a considerable force, and a reserve of money and arms. The names 
of the chief conspirators were given, and those whom they had tried to gain, 
and also of those who were believed incorruptible, among whom was Melville 
himself. Sir James Montgomerie has been accused of thus seeking safety at 
the expense of his colleagues, but it is doubtful if he were the original 
revealer of the plot. Lord Melville does not appear to have acted at 
once upon the information furnished to him, but on 23d June he wrote to 
Queen Mary, the king being in Ireland, referring to the bearer of the letter, 
probably Lord Eoss, as one who was willing to make disclosures on certain 
conditions. It is unnecessary to follow the history of the affair at this point, 
as the scene of action was transferred to London. Suffice it to say that 
Eoss, Annandale, and Montgomerie were each examined by Queen Mary in 
person or by her order, and each made a statement more or less incriminating, 
though no one was tried for the affair. Mr. Carstares and Lord Melville 
had promised indemnity to two of the conspirators, Eoss and Montgomerie, 
hoping that by their confessions the plot in all its ramifications might be 
fully disclosed. Melville was afterwards strongly censured by Sir William 
Lockhart, then solicitor-general, for, as the latter alleged, taking Sir James 
Montgomerie into his friendship or reconciling him to the king's favour, 
but the earl had already explained the reason of his dealings with Sir James 
to the queen herself, and showed her that he had authority from the king 
for what he did. Sir James, however, seems to have tried to play Melville 
1 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 508 ; cf. Dalrymple's Memoirs, vol. iii. App. ii. p. 101, etc. 


false, and the pardon which had been offered to him was withdrawn, while 
he narrowly escaped imprisonment in the Tower by a flight to the Continent. 1 

One other incident of the earl's career as commissioner may be noticed, as 
it led to tragical consequences, although for these he was in no way respon- 
sible. Eeference has already been made to Lord Melville's opinion about the 
Highlands and their pacification, and to the efforts to that end proposed to be 
made through Viscount Tarbat and General Mackay. These appear to have 
failed, and on 20th March 1690, after Melville's appointment, King William 
wrote him that it would be necessary to endeavour to gain Lord Breadalbane, 
and if possible detach him from the party of the rebels ; for which service his 
Majesty offered a considerable sum. In pursuance of this Melville granted 
a warrant to the Earl of Breadalbane empowering him to treat and correspond 
with the Highland chiefs with the view of their submission and obedience to 
the government. 2 This warrant was dated 24th April, and was to remain in 
force only until the 20th of May. If any negotiations took place at this time 
they were not successful, but Breadalbane's position led to his being appointed 
in the following year, when Sir John Dalrymple was secretary, and one result 
was the massacre of Glencoe. 

In regard to Breadalbane's negotiations, Lord Melville, in his own vindi- 
cation addressed to the king, expresses himself to the effect that though it 
was thought proper to gain if possible by money some of the chief High- 
landers, and that it was the king's interest to have as many of the Highland 
superiorities in his own hand as could fairly be purchased without doing- 
violence to any particular person, yet, the earl adds, " I must take the bold- 
ness also to say that I did and doe think that the obligeing of the heads of the 
clanns to give good security for the peaceable behaviour of their dependants 
would have been a surer foundation of peace amongst men who can be tied 
by no faith, and this was that the law did allow. I doe not see, indeed, any 
great prejudice to the publick interest by Broadalbans articles in so fare as 
they relate to particular persons, nor doe I take upon me to condemn the 
granting of an indemnity to the Highlanders for their rebellion against your 
Majesty's government ; but I durst never have advised the freeing of them 
from all obligation to make satisfaction for the depredations and robberries 
1 Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 480, 4S2, 499, 515, 520. "- Ibid. pp. 421, 429. 


comitted by them against your Majesty's best subjects, this being the thing 
which is grievous to your Majesty's faithful servants." The earl adds, " As 
for the affronts which some did putt upon me in the management of that and 
other businesses, tho I could not but be sensible of them, yet respect to your 
Majesty's service did make me burie in silence my resentments, though I 
regrated more upon a nationall account than my own." l 

Two acts passed by the parliament of 1690 were in favour of the Earl of 
Melville himself — the first rescinding the forfeiture of his estates, and the 
second formally dissolving the estates from the crown, to be enjoyed by him- 
self and his heirs. 2 The second act was passed on 2 2d July, the last day of 
the session, and the parliament was adjourned to 3d September, when it 
again met for a short session under Lord Melville as commissioner. He 
remained in Scotland during the interval between the sessions, his time being 
chiefly devoted to correspondence about the Montgomerie plot and in dealing 
with the Highlands. When the third session of parliament closed, Melville 
returned to London, where he arrived on the 7th of October 1690. 

A few days later he wrote to the Earl of Crawford, like himself a devoted 
presbyterian, about the arrangements for the first general assembly of the 
re-established Church of Scotland, which had been appointed to meet on 
16th October. He forwarded a commission in favour of Lord Carmichael 
as the royal representative, and a letter from the king to the assembly. 
Melville was very anxious that the labours of the assembly should be agree- 
able to the king and honourable to the church. He expressed a wish that 
the meeting had been deferred for six months, and regretted the dangers 
threatening presbyterianism from misrepresentation and other causes. "There 
is nothing now," he says, " but the greatest sobrietie and moderation imagin- 
able to be used, unless men will hazard the overturning of all, and 
take this as earnest and not as imaginations and fears only ; and it would 
be my opinion that this ensueing assembly should medle with nothing 
at this time, but what is verie clear will give no occasion of division 
amongst themselves, nor advantage to these who have no good will to 
them, and are but watching for their halting ; and they may endeavour to 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 223. 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. ix. pp. 181, 22S. 


stop their enemies mouths by their moderation ; and I wish they might 
adjurn after a few dayes till some more convenient time, when heats and 
mistakes may be more over, and people calmly to see their own true intrest, 
and the calumnies that men are asperst with and too much believed, removed 
and seen to be false, and the church may have a fuller representative." Mel- 
ville also urged upon Lord Crawford the necessity of advising his friends to 
moderation, which he willingly promised, and the secretary also wrote to 
several of the leading ministers appealing to them to be moderate in their 
conduct and counsels, and warning them of the danger of precipitancy or 
indiscreet zeal in giving their enemies a triumph over them. 1 

In another letter addressed to the assembly, Melville conveys the king's 
commands and wishes to the same effect. He reminds them that the 
reformed religion had always been dear to the king, who assures them that 
nothing shall be wanting on his part to make it prosper in Scotland. " He 
doubts not of your containuing firm in your dutie to him, and he allows me 
to assure you that in your doeing so and keeping in your judicatoures within 
the bounds of your propper work, without concerning yourselves in things 
alien from you, that he will preserve you in the peaceable possession and 
christian excersise of what he haith graciously granted ; but he expects that 
in your manadgement you will have a respect to his affairs els where as well 
as amongst yourselves, and that a regard to the publick interest and common 
good of his kingdoms will weigh more with you then any particular consider- 
ations ; this is what his Majestie haith commanded me to give in return for 
your address." 2 These advices were taken by the assembly, and at its close 
the most favourable accounts of its proceedings were transmitted to the king 
and Lord Melville. 

Soon after this Melville's administration as sole secretary for Scotland 
came to an end. According to some, he lost the confidence of the king ; and 
though he continued to act as principal secretary for some time longer, yet in 
the end of 1690 Sir John Dalrymple was conjoined with him, and accom- 

1 Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 540-544. Carstares, who supported Melville in his 

It may be added that the original drafts of ecclesiastical policy. 

these letters, preserved in the Melville Char- 2 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 555 ; 24th 

ter-chest, are in the handwriting of Mr. October 1690. 


panied the king to Flanders. Premonitions of the coming change occur in 
one or two letters addressed to Lord Melville at this time. His friend, Lord 
Crawford, writing regarding the close of the general assembly and the part he 
had taken in it, states that what he had done was not only out of friendship 
to Melville, but because of a full conviction that if he should be rendered 
" uneasie " in Ms present post, " and upon that weary of it, the presbiterian 
interest, and, in consequence, the king's, in this nation will go near to ruine." 1 
This is the first indication that Melville was beginning to find his post 
unstable, but a few weeks later Crawford writes — " ... I have ever 
looked on your lordship as a true friend to your master, your nation, church. 
. . . You must needs give me charity that I have not been an unconcerned 
spectator while your lordship of late hes had your tossings above and bluster- 
ing at you from all airths. It is not much that I can signify, yet I have used 
what influence 1 had here and ells where for your support and weakening the 
credit of your adversaries." 2 

The causes which led to Melville's finally vacating the office of secretary 
of state have been variously stated by historians, but they are nowhere clearly 
revealed by Melville himself, though he has left several papers dealing with 
his own administration. Bishop Burnet states that Lord Melville lost credit 
with the king by exceeding his instructions as commissioner, but this asser- 
tion has been examined and refuted by a recent writer, who at the same 
time confesses his inability to throw light on the subject. 3 He, however, 
accepts as the most plausible solution a theory put forward by the English 
historian, Balph, who says that " how much soever Lord Melville has suffered 
from the imputations of his countryman, Burnet, it must be acknowledged 
that he took the only course which the exigencies of the times would admit 
of, to provide for the security of the government ;" while in another place it 
is suggested rather than affirmed that the king displaced Melville as a peace- 
offering to the English Church, and in pursuance of his policy to keep all 
parties dependent upon him. 4 Macaulay adopts Burnet's view, but modifies 

1 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 571; 15tb 3 Mr. Leslie Melville in preface to Leven 
November 1690. and Melville Papers. 

4 Ibid. p. xx. et seq. ; of. Ralph's History 

2 Ibid. p. 580; 4th December 1690. of England, vol. ii. pp. 212, 332. 


it by asserting that Melville was set aside because he did not carry out the 
king's desire for toleration to the episcopalian dissenters. He also accepts 
and enlarges Ealph's theory by affirming that this alleged want of toleration 
raised a clamour in England which the king was fain to gratify by depriving 
Melville of his position. 1 

Ealph, however, so far as he indicates any particular cause of Melville's 
being set aside, refers it entirely to the king and the changes of his policy. 
A recent author who touches on the subject suggests a reason also based on 
the exigencies of politics altogether apart from the question of church 
government, namely, that King William, being a shrewd judge of ahility 
and of the necessities of state, saw that a firm hand and an able head were 
requisite at this juncture, and that Melville's moderate talents, combined with 
honesty of purpose, could not compensate for want of such firmness and 
ability. 2 

Iu the absence of any authoritative statement on the point it is pro- 
bable that no one reason can be assigned for Melville's retirement, but that 
all the causes stated, except the one alleged by Burnet, combined to produce 
that result. To these may be added, first, an element personal to the earl 
himself, arising out of his own character and disposition, and secondly, the 
adverse influence of the Master of Stair, who for some undefined reason had 
hecome hostile, probably because he leaned to episcopacy, while Melville was 
strictly presbyterian. In collecting the contemporary evidence bearing on 
his change of position, precedence may be given to a remark of his own 
made while still acting as commissioner, contained in his letter to Monsieur 
d'Alonne about June 1690, formerly cited. In regard to what he believed 
to have been plots in England against the government, he writes that he had 
long been apprehensive that " the king was betrayed hy some, when I was 
with you, when I observed some methodes taken and some measures his 
Majestie was put upon, and I was so bold as to tell him I thought so then, 
and to wreat to him oftner than once that it was still my opinion. I fancy 
if I had been believed and employed, I could have put his Majestie on the 
way of discovering, and the persons, himself; but I know I had many, both 

1 Macavday's History of England, vol. iv. 2 Memoirs of Viscount Stair, by ^Eneas 

pp. 1S6, 187. G. Mackay, advocate, p. 244. 

VOL. I. 2 F 


with you and my own countrymen, to misrepresent me, some upon one 
account and some upon another, and I have the misfortune to be one of 
unpolished temper, and not shapen for a court, being too plain and too rough, 
that might make what I said have the less impression." At another part of 
the letter he says, " Though I acknowledge the king has given me as much 
trust as [is] fitt for a servant to have, yett [he] has not put me in that 
capacity to serve him in this conjuncture as the necessity of his affairs 
requires." 1 Here it will be seen that, even before Melville became commis- 
sioner, and although the king considered him, and rightly, a faithful servant, 
his very faithfulness, and a certain bluntness of manner, seemed to have 
caused a friction between him and his master. 

The praises bestowed upon Melville's administration have been already 
stated, and all his contemporaries acknowledged his prudence and honesty, 
but when the special work for which his talents were best fitted was done, it 
was only natural that the king should look to others who might better carry 
out other parts of his policy. That the king did do so is indicated by advices 
from Lord Tarbat, given in letters to Melville. Thus in one place he writes : — 
" We heare so various reports from what 's said and thought at court, that 
albeit some of them be unpleasant enough, yett I have this much satisfaction 
that I cannot trust them, because my Lord Eaith tells me they are not true. 
. . . But lett me in the old straine tell that your too much addiction to on 
party cannot but be dangerous, soone or syne ; and especially when (as I 
think) they are not worth all that ; not that I think they, as being most 
ingadged against the king's enimies, are very sure to him and you, but if they 
gett more be farr as [than] there suitable proportion of place and favour, they 
are selfish and no good nor just freends, if they think that all beside them, 
and many more nor they, are to be cast of to please them only." Lord 
Tarbat further remarks that it is not fit for the king to be head of a party, 
nor for an officer so high in station as Melville to be of a party, and proceeds 
to condemn the doings of the ecclesiastical party, foreshadowing the troubles 
of nonconformists. 2 This letter is clearly directed against Melville's attach- 
ment to the Presbyterians, and indicates the feeling of Episcopalians in 

1 Copy letter in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 558 ; 30th October 1690. 


Scotland. The general assembly was then sitting, which accounts for the 
reference to ecclesiastics whose " moderation " Lord Tarbat derides. In a 
later letter, evidently in answer to an expostulation from Melville, Tarbat 
says : " I know I can be mistaken, and it is not impossible but we both may ; 
yett I still think it is safer erring on the gentle and comprehensive then on 
the narrow exclusive side. I doe not beleeve the tenth of our reports, but I 
know the universality of our murmurs ; and it is impossible that the negative 
moderation (viz., to kill slowly and with smoother words), and the reforming of 
churches by Earl Angus' regiment and such others, can produce good effects." 1 

Lord Tarbat's letters are from the view of a politician only, but they show 
that Melville's presbyterianism was not agreeable to many, who did not fail 
to misrepresent him, and to raise clamours against his ecclesiastical policy. 
These may have had some effect with the king ; but it is probable that his 
Majesty's visit to the Continent, which took place in the beginning of 1691, 
was what really led to his conjoining Dalrymple with Melville. William was 
then cementing his great alliance with the continental powers in opposition 
to France, and no doubt felt the need of a man of younger years and more 
versatile talents to be with him, who was also familiar with Scottish affairs. 
Melville does not appear to have submitted meekly to being thus set aside, 
though he nominally held the principal place. In December 1690 Tarbat 
wrote : — " . . . Some reports come which I hope will prove as false as former 
ones of that nature ; but whatever fall, . . . take no petts. Eemember your 
king, your country, your freends." Later he writes : — " My lord, I can but 
conjecture at things by what you writt ; but this I will still say, that subjects 
ought to capitulat with there soveraigne as to offices and government on the 
king's tearmes. My dear lord, take no pett, but make the best of what 
occurrs; the king will soon find who are his best servants, and you can nether 
be so usefull to him, your freends, or yourself when you are out as when in." 2 

The date of Lord Melville's appointment as lord privy seal is 29th 
December 1691, but it was not presented for registration in the Scottish 
records till June 1692. 3 Soon after it was made, there were other changes in 

1 Leven and Melville Papers, p. 571 ; 14th November 1690. 

2 Ibid. pp. 587, 590 ; 19th and 30th December 1690. 

3 Original in Melville Charter-chest. 


the Scottish administration, and it is apparently to these that Lord Melville 
refers in his vindication addressed to the king, prohahly about this date, 
where he says : — " As to such whom it may be fit to emploey in the manage- 
ment of publick affairs in your kingdom of Scotland, I must confess that I 
cannot well perceive the necessity of imploying at present any that are 
jealoused by those that have been all along faithfull to your interest, the 
ballance being too much already upon that side ; and the clamours that have 
been made of your councill haveing been either groundlesse, or proceeding 
only from the opposition that was made to the granting of unseasonable 
favors to such as were known enemies to your interest. Yet seing important 
reasons, which it were presumption in me to enquire into, doe make your 
Majesty think it fitt to emploey some such, it is my humble opinion that 
those who are least obnoxious to your people, and have never been active 
against your government, may be pitched upon, and who I take to be such I 
shall give my sentiments, without prejudice against any man, whenever your 
Majesty shall think fitt to putt the question to me." 1 Melville concludes 
his paper with the words, " Thus, sir, I have taken the boldness to give your 
Majesty an short but true account of my management, and also to offer my 
advice as to what I humbly judge may be for your service." It would 
appear from this, that although Melville accepted a less important office, he still 
believed himself to have the regard, if not the full confidence, of the king. 

The notices of Lord Melville during the year 1692, even in the family 
papers, are very meagre, and nothing is known of his public life, except that 
he appears to have confined himself to the duties of his new office and taken 
little part in public affairs. In a draft letter, written by himself to a cor- 
respondent, whose name has not been ascertained, he states incidentally that 
he had been appointed one of the Scottish commissioners of admiralty. In 
this letter, which is not dated, but which was probably written in the end of 
the year 1693, Lord Melville writes: — "Your lordship knowes the changes I 
have met with since I was imployed in the king's service, of which I doe 
not in the least complain, for his Majestie may serve himselfe of whom and 
in what capacitie he employs any as he pleases, but this hath given my ill- 
wishers advantage to prejudice me in my private concerns. I may say I had 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 224. 


as few [ill-wishers] as any Scotsman befor I engadged in his Majestie's 
service, and it was my zeale for and faithfulnes in it procured me these, for 
I was for packing with non, though I have been solicited] eneugh by al 
parties that hath been since the revolution, because I see much private 
design, to say no worse, amongst too many. This is what has occasioned so 
many of different interests take many methodes to have me misrepresented 
to my master, and tho my particular (as every one is ready to doe) may 
affect me, yett I am the more [sic] because so many takes notice of what I 
have and doe meet with, and wonder what may be the reason, or thinke I 
have committed some crime, or have behaved my selfe ill in the station 
I have enjoyed. If the king have receaved any badd impressions of me I 
should be glade to know it, that I might endeavour to remove them and to 
vindicate my selfe in what I may be blamed for, which I thinke I am 
sufficiently able to doe ; for if I have failed in any thing it hath proceeded 
for want of better understandeing, and not either from negligence or unfaith- 
fulness. You know the last change I underwent, I did submitte to it upon 
your desire and advice ; I doe not in the least thinke either the king or your 
lordship designed me any prejudice by it, for the king might have laid me 
aside altogether, and I was not to complaine. I never sought publick 
employment, but often in my time I have shuned it. I did offer my service 
to the king in a time when I knew not whom to recomend ; and as I served 
alwaies faithfully, so while I had his countenance I served him successfully, 
notwithstanding of all the opposition I had to graple with, which possiblie 
was the greatest ever any Scots minister of state mett with. The advan- 
tages of the one place more than the other, wer my sallary payed, ar not 
considerable or what I value ; nor doe I at all grudge the person's [John- 
stone] getteing my former employment ; I have a kindness and respect for 
him, but this employment the king hath pleased confer on me in some respect 
is a stepe of advance in haveing the door." Lord Melville then refers to his 
connection with the court of admiralty and an affront put on him there, as 
also to the fact that he had not been made, as was usual in the case of former 
lords privy seal, one of the recently appointed extraordinary lords of session, 
and he details other grievances. 1 

1 Draft letter in Melville Charter-chest. 


That Melville was not entirely without justification in complaining of the 
misrepresentations and affronts to which he was subjected appears from a 
statement by Sir James Montgomerie of Skelmorlie, prepared for the exiled 
King James as to the state of parties in Scotland. The full text of this 
paper, from a revised copy in the Melville charter-chest, will be found in 
another volume of this work, 1 and only those sentences which relate to Mel- 
ville at this period may be quoted here. Sir James, after narrating the 
failure of the former plot, states that at that time they hoped to misrepresent 
and accuse Melville. This was defeated, but at the date of writing — about 
1693 — he reports more hopefully in favour of a Jacobite rising in Scotland. 
Many had given him assurances, the most faithful regiments, those of Angus 
and Leven, were out of the country, and the people were afraid of the 
soldiers now among them, 2 so that " no great opposition was to be expected 
from any within the country, they wanting a head in Avhoni to concenter, and 
its rationall to conjecture that Melville will not medle much when he may be 
convinced that he cannot now doe it to any purpose, and cannot but be con- 
vinced of the weaknes and fooly of the pairty, especiallie being in some 
manner laid aside and not trusted as formerly. Besides, there will not be 
wanting endeavours for getting him and his sones out of their employments, 
which, if it take effect, may have severall consequences." 

Sir James proceeds to say that correspondence may now be carried on 
more safely, " for there was now no such prying into things as when Melville 
was with the king and trusted by him." Again, " It was a good step for 
your interest when Melville was gott removed from him [King William], and 
if his sones or any of them could be gott removed from their employments it 
would be ane other good one . . . the children are alse biggott as the 
father, whom no man can gaine but to that which he himselff thinks to be 
right. It 's good he is of so uncomplacent a humor, else he might have had 
more interest with his king still then he hes." 3 This is followed by the 

1 Vol. iii. pp. 225-233. was not displeased at being set aside. " He 

2 This statement is corroborated by papers thinks it was greatly his advantage, being of 
in Melville's own handwriting. a temper that never courted publick imploy- 

3 As a commentary on this, a paper in the ment. . . . You know the man and his man- 
Melville Charter-chest, also written about ner, and of how unpolished a temper he is, 
1G93, in defence of Melville, states that he and that old sparrows are ill to tame." 


paragraph disparaging Melville's character for wisdom, but admitting the 
success of his administration, which has already been referred to and partly 
cited. Sir James adds, " But grant he were so wise a man . . . your 
Majestie [King James] needs not apprehend him much — for gained he cannot 
be ; neither need you be anxious about it, for if he be wise he will never 
think it his interest to goe burn his fingers again and expose himselff to no 
purpose ; for in the station he is in, as he is yoaked he cannot doe much, for 
neither of the secretaries [the Master of Stair and Mr. Johnstone] have any 
kindness for him, but rather are jealous, and will doe all they can to keep the 
king from ever employing him further than at present." 1 

These remarks also suggest that Melville's personal character contributed 
somewhat to his removal from high office. But we have from another source 
further testimony as to the treatment of Melville, which distinctly points 
out the Master of Stair as his political opponent, and the person who 
weakened his influence in the government. In May 1695 Lord Tarbat wrote 
to Mr. Carstares, referring in a somewhat enigmatical way to his own " adver- 
sars," and stating he is quite willing to give up office to serve the king. 
He then adds, " I am afraid this will not cure the [party] distemper, yet 
it 's all I can contribute to it. But when their heat cannot bear with the 
Earl Melville's family and with you, to whom they owe, under the king, 
all the power they have, I can little wonder of their fretting at me ; but 
I hope their folly will not frighten the king from so. faithful servants, nor 
you from giving him counsel for their sakes, whose fire will hurry to self- 
prejudice, if not stopt by prudence." 2 A few weeks later Lord Tarbat writes 
again that though he does not pretend to bigotry, yet he desires a settled 
church, and to this end — apparently in view of a general assembly — he 
thinks it the king's and church's interest to have a firm yet moderate Pres- 
byterian, one above suspicion with the church, while able to stop violent 
fury. He then proceeds : — " Another thing is of importance in my judge- 
ment, and that is, since the interest of the moderate party is much weakened 
by what was done to the Earl of Melvill, which renders him less able to do 
effectual service, it might be useful to the king and country, if by some 

1 Vol. iii. pp. 227-230. 

- Letter, 16th May 1696, Carstares State Papers, etc., p. 229. 


demonstration of favour, others may be incouraged to follow his directions, 
which would put many in a right road who goes wrong." 1 

Another letter is more explicit. Lord Tarbat writes : — "The methods of 
some men and their heats you (though you know us well) cannot conceive, 
nor can the sad consequences be safely exprest. ... It 's certain, if the pres- 
byterian party would moderate their designs, and were they managed by wise 
men, they are sure to the king and against his enemies ; but as the Master 
of Stair may repent his successe against the Earl of Melvill, so may others, 
for he had the best founded interest with that party, and, if he had not been 
loaded with marks of disgrace, he had led that party to the king's mind ; but 
being put from the secretar's office — and without an exoneration either in 
that office or in the commissioner's, which was never refused to any — the 
preferring his juniors in presiding in councel and parliament ; the taking 
his Sonne's regiment from him, and his sonne left out of the commission for 
auditing of accompts ; forcing a deputy on his sonne in the castle, and all 
who come down from court making it their work to lessen him. But I do 
not see a probable way for the king to manage the true presbyterian party 
but by his [Melville's] family ; and if they were countenanced by the king 
they could doe more by their finger than others can doe with both their 
hands ; yea, altho he be thus lessened, the body of the presbyterians have 
more kindness for him than for all the other officers of state. The hot 
party who attackt him rudely enough at first, and spoke loudly of it, found 
the respect of the presbyterians so strong for him that now they court him, 
whilst others see that he moderates many ; in spite of the heats they all 
desire union with him. But he would be less useful were he plunged in a 
party. In short, if this confusion and wrong steps be retrievable, I see not so 
fixt a base to draw up on as him and his family, for Lord Piaith is certainly 
one of the sharpest, most judicious, diligentest in the nation. ... I wish 
earnestly that the king may put Earl Melvill and his children under such 
marks of his favour as may strengthen them to sett right what is wrong. . . . 
So go about, sir, consider our nation and where the strength of it lies, and 
then consider our present state and what comes next, and judge if wit and 
discretion be not necessar. Then view our trustee governors, and take or 
1 llth June 1C95, Carstares State Papers, p. 231. 


offer what measure you judge fit. I wish the lord-keeper Sunimars [Somers] 
and Earl Melvill did correspond, and that the king and E [arl] P[ortland] 
would write kindly to him [Melville], for he got discouraging blows ; and 
you know his reserved temper and unwillingness to medle ; but he is ane ill 
man if he refuse when he is so necessar." 1 

It is clear, therefore, that, in the opinion of shrewd observers, Melville 
had, since his deposition from the office of secretary, gone on faithfully dis- 
charging the lesser duties intrusted to him, in spite of opposition and mis- 
representation, and was still a considerable power in the state. There was 
one person whose friendship had never failed him — the correspondent to whom 
Tarbat writes so freely — Mr. Carstares, then one of the royal chaplains. Even 
in 1694, when Melville was comparatively in disgrace, Carstares writes — 
"... Eor my part I am as much your lordship's friend and servant as ever, 
and I doe believe many doe take me to be more so then I am in a capacitie 
effectualie to testifie that I am ; but I hope differences amongst those that I 
have the honour to have for my friends shall not alter my respect to them, 
nor influence me to act anything that shall be unjust, ingrate, or unkind." 2 
This last sentence is somewhat explained by the terms of an anonymous letter, 
dated a few months later. The writer says — " A servant of yours being alone 
with Mr. C[arstares] tooke occasion to discourse concerning M[elville] and 
his son, regrating that iealousies betwixt others and them did weaken the 
publick interest, and pleaded as what ane advantage it would be to have love 
and harmony among all those who sincerly love ecclesiastick and civill 
establishments ; so how proper for him who had access to, and interest with, 
all the great folk to endeavour the removing of mistakes ; yea, particularly 
proposed that he might use what means he could to prevent any alterations 
as to places which Melville or his sons do now enioy, but that matters might 
continue as now they are untill other persons be in Scotland, when, by being 
sometimes together, matters may be better concerted, and means for begetting 
a right understanding more like to prove effectuall. He frankly granted the 
reasonableness of what was said, and professed a great readyness to do what 
he could ; but after all, I know one who wisheth Melville were by his master, 

1 Letter, 25th June 1695, Carstares State 2 Letter, 27th August 1694, in Melville 

Papers, etc., p. 233. Charter-chest. 

VOL. I. 2 Q 


because sight of friends doth readily renew remembrance of services which 
sometimes are lesse minded in absence, especially if there be any to call the 
services small. But this is too tender a point for my pen ; onely passion to 
serve where singularly oblidged doth constrain to this hint. I beg pardon if 
I have said too much. Adieu!" 1 This letter suggests that Melville's troubles 
were owing partly to local jealousies, and partly to the fact that his want of 
access to the royal person was unfavourable to his interests. 

King William, however, was not unmindful of his old servant, and later 
on, in the same year, Mr. Carstares was enabled to write to his friend in terms 
which indicated a more open manifestation of the king's confidence than 
Melville had lately enjoyed. The Master of Stair's political influence 
suddenly ceased in that year in consequence of the parliamentary report upon 
the massacre of Glencoe, and writing in July 1695, at a date when the terms 
of the report were probably known to King William, though not formally 
passed, Carstares says he is desired " to lett your lordship know that your 
carriage in this parliament is acceptable here. I hear the 3000 lib. sterling 
businesse is to be brought into the parliament, but if it be I have reason to 
think it will not turn to your disadvantage, but upon the contrarie." A few 
days later he repeats the statement about Melville's conduct, and adds, " I 
am heartilie your lordship's. I shall only add one thing more, that your 
reasons which your lordship gives for your carriage in parliament are solid 
and satisfieing." 2 What Carstares refers to can only be conjectured, but 
there are some points, especially his relations to the Dalrymples, on which 
we have some information of interest. Among other things we are told that 
in a matter affecting Viscount Stair, the earl, though under no great obliga- 
tions to that family, was too generous to assist the proceedings against the 
old man ; also that when the parliament voted for imprisoning Breadalbane, 
Melville refused to join the vote, because he thought the king ought to be 
consulted before such summary procedure was taken. In regard to the 
report on the Glencoe massacre, although Melville "abhorred that action 
alwise, as he doeth still," yet as the vote against the Master of Stair was not 
stated in a way he thought reasonable, he refused to vote. As he had the 

1 Letter, unsigned and not addressed, 9th 4i Letters, July 1st and July 4th, 1G95, in 

February 1695, in Melville Charter-chest. Melville Charter-chest. 


second vote in the house many followed his example, which was afterwards 
charged against him, but the paper adds that he was always " for solid, sober, 
and disinterested measures, and never a lover of Jehu-like dryving which he 
never see have a good issue." x 

The £3000 referred to by Mr. Carstares was a sum of money contained 
in a bond granted in 1690 by the town of Edinburgh to the Treasury, which 
was afterwards assigned to Melville. In the end of June 1695 the town 
petitioned parliament that as the sum had been granted as a gratuity, or at 
least to obtain an act which was not carried, the bond should be declared 
null and void. The parliament remitted the matter to the court of session 
to be dealt with by ordinary legal process. 2 The dispute was only settled in 
1698, when the king stated in Melville's favour that the gratuity was given 
by his full consent, and the money was paid. The parliament of 1695 
also granted to Melville the right of holding two fairs yearly, in May and 
October, on his lands of Letham, near Monimail. 3 

In October of the same year, Lord Melville received a letter from Mr. 
Carstares, intimating that it would not be displeasing to the king if he came 
to London; and two days later he virtually repeats the statement, and 
expresses his pleasure that Lord Leven is coming also, concluding with 
renewed assurances of friendship. These verbal compliments were enhanced 
some months later by a more substantial mark of confidence. In the fol- 
lowing May, John, Lord Murray, afterwards Earl of Tullibardine, Dalrymple's 
successor as secretary of state, wrote a friendly letter to Lord Melville 
informing him of proposed changes in the government, and offering him, by 
the king's desire, the post of president of the privy council. Sir James 
Ogilvie, the under secretary, wrote to the same effect, adding : " I doubt not 
your lordship will use your endeavours to make good agreement amongst 
al the king intrusts in the government. Wee can neaver expect ane ful 
setelment in the kingdom whilst thos imployed in the publict doe not 

1 Anonymous paper, Ibid. It is written in the subject of the Dalrymples, the paper 

the form of a letter to some one at Court, touches on other matters, but adds nothing 

but is only a fragment, and undated. It re- to what is known of Lord Melville, 
lates to the session of 1695, and defends - Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, 

Melville from various misrepresentations, vol. ix. pp. 408-410. 
alleged to be made against him. Besides 3 Ibid. p. 502. 


agree." 1 When Lord Murray's letter reached Lord Melville he was at his 
country seat of Moniruail, whence he wrote thanking Lord Murray for the offer 
of so honourable a post, but expressing himself averse to making changes. 2 
He wrote in the same strain to Secretary Ogilvie. 3 His friend, Mr. Carstares, 
wrote that the proposal was made with a sincere regard for Melville himself 
and for the advantage of the king's service ; also, that it was considered an 
office more fit for one of Lord Melville's years and experience than for a 
young man. 4 Notwithstanding this, however, Melville continued for some 
time steadily to decline the office, but in the end accepted. It is probable 
that he was finally induced to take office by a letter from the Earl of Port- 
land, who had always been very friendly to him, and who wrote that he 
regretted Melville had so much difficulty in resolving to accept the post 
offered : " The difference [between the offices] in emolument, if any, is so 
small, and as regards the honour of directing affairs and having the king's 
confidence, so great, that I confess to you I did not believe you would hesi- 
tate. Your friend, to whom I have spoken, had the same feeling ; and you 
see it is a thing which he wishes, although he, nevertheless, leaves you entire 
freedom to do what you think good." 5 Soon after the receipt of this letter 
Melville presented his commission for registration, and probably entered 
upon his new duties about the middle of August 1696. 6 The salary attached 
to the new office was £1000 sterling yearly. 7 

The Earl of Melville was present at the parliament of 1696, which 
assembled shortly after his appointment, and took his seat as one of the great 
officers of state. He was appointed a member of the committee for the 
security of the kingdom, and appears to have acted as president or chairman, 
as towards the end of September Mr. Carstares writes : " I was heartilie glad 
to hear that things have gone so well in the committie where your lordship 
presided, to which I know your lordship hath not a little contributed." 8 

1 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 174, 175. 6 Commission, dated at Breda, 25th May 

2 Letter, 15th May 1696, in Atholl Charter- 1696, and registered 13th August 1696 ; ori- 
chest. ginal in Melville Charter-chest. 

3 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 175, 176. - ,-. . • , . ., . , 

' Original warrant, ibid. 

4 Ibid. pp. 175, 177. 

5 /bid. p. 178; letter, in French, dated 16th 8 Letter, 25th September 1696, in Melville 
July 1696. Charter-chest. 


After his appointment as president of the privy council there is little to 
record of Melville, either in a public or private capacity. He continued to 
hold the office during the remainder of King William's reign, and from the 
incidental notices we have, appears to have enjoyed the confidence of the 
government, although his post was at one time threatened by his opponents. 
He was present at the parliament of 1698, but took little part in its proceed- 
ings. Indeed the Earl of Argyll wrote to Mr. Carstares, " Our friend Melvill 
has not opened his mouth scarce all this session." He, however, voted with 
the government, though some of his usual followers deserted him. The same 
writer says of him later in the same year, " Our friend Melville is not so cap- 
able for discharge of duty. ... I am afraid he is declining." l He main- 
tained friendly relations with the secretaries of state, one of whom, Viscount 
Seafield, formerly Sir James Ogilvie, thus wrote him in December 1699: 
"We have had occasion this day to give his Majesty full information how 
faithfully and vigourously you and your son, my Lord Leven, act in his 
Majesty's concerns, and I shall not faill from time to time to let your lord- 
ship know what his Majesty desires to be done, and I will take it very kindly 
that your lordship do writ frequently to me and let me have your opinion in 
anything that occurs." Lord Seafield adds, " Difference in opinion [among 
the officers of state] is as much to be shund as is possible in publict orders, 
for it takes off their weight and influence when they do not come out with 
unanimity, and meeting together beforhand is the surest way to prevent mis- 
takes. If we do continue unite[d] amongst ourselves we will be capable to 
signify to his Majesty and to one another, but nothing will give so great 
advantage against us as division. I know your lordship will excuse me for 
useing this freedom, for you cannot but be convinced that ther are a great 
maney who act under a popolor pretence of a national concern when their 
own interest is only at the bottom." 2 

The " national concern " here referred to was the trading enterprise known 
as the Darien Company, the disasters to which were then strongly exercising 

1 Carstares State Papers, pp. 372, 412, 444. pired, but which Argyll wished for a kins- 

The duty to which the Earl of Argyll par- man, the Earl of Loudoun, 
ticularly refers was that of an extraordinary 
lord of session, to which office MelviUe as- 2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 181. 


the minds of the Scots. It is not clear how far the Earl of Melville himself 
was concerned in the company. His sons appear as stockholders, but his 
own name does not occur. As a Scotsman, however, he must have felt 
keenly the troubles which assailed the intended colony, and also the slights 
which his nation received at the hands of England. The silent policy of 
King William in not answering the appeals of the Scottish council also 
alienated many, but Melville seems to have understood the difficulties of the 
king's position better than many of his countrymen, a fact which appears in 
his letters to his friend Mr. Carstares. He voted against the national address 
which it was proposed to present to the king in the beginning of the year 
1700, but which was coldly received by his Majesty. 

The parliament met on 21st May 1700, and Melville was present in 
his place. Both the Duke of Queensberry as commissioner and the Earl 
of Marchmont as chancellor impressed upon the house the difficulties of the 
political situation, and deprecated weakening the king's influence abroad by 
divisions at home. Notwithstanding this, numerous petitions and remon- 
strances were addressed to the parliament, and in terms of these they moved 
a resolution in support of the settlement at Darien, a motion not in accord- 
ance with the commissioner's instructions, and to gain time he adjourned the 
assembly. This policy and subsequent adjournments exasperated the popu- 
lace, and their discontent broke out in a riot, of which Melville and others 
wrote intelligence to Carstares. The latter replied that the king highly 
resented the treatment Melville and the other officers of state had received, 
and that he was inclined to allow the parliament to sit in August " if it may 
be hoped they will be in any kind of temper." 1 

Lord Melville at this time wrote long letters to Mr. Carstares lamenting 
the condition of affairs in Scotland, expressing a wish that the king would 
remain in England, and urging that parliament be again assembled. In 
answer to one of these Carstares writes : " I read to the king those parts of 
your lordship's letter that were proper to be read to him ; his affaires necessarilie 
call him abroad, and he must be at the assemblie of the States [of Holland] 
that are now mett, and are not to part till he be with them ; he is fullie of 
your lordship's mind as to the meeting of parliament in Agust if possiblie 
1 Letter, 26th June 1700, vol. ii. of this work, p. 181. 


it may be without the ruin of his affaires, and he is satisfied with the 
reasons which your lordship gives for its meeting." 1 The parliament, how- 
ever, did not meet until the end of October 1700, and in the interval Melville 
paid a visit to Bath to recruit his failing health, whence apparently he went 
to London, but returned in time to be present at the opening of the session. 
The king sent a conciliatory message to the estates, expressing sympathy 
with the disasters which had befallen the expedition to Darien, and offering to 
aid the national enterprise, but distinctly stating that he could not, in view of 
the state of affairs in Europe, sanction the colony. With this message the 
estates were not satisfied, and they moved the assertion of the legality of the 
colony. A large minority wished to pass this motion into an act, but by 
a majority of twenty-four it was carried in the form of a resolution to be 
forwarded to the king. Lord Melville was one of those who supported the 
government, but that is the only notice of him in the records of parliament. 2 

King "William died in March 1702 ; but the Earl of Melville continued to 
hold his office under Queen Anne's government until December of that year, 
when the Earl of Annandale was appointed in his place. He nevertheless 
attended the various meetings of parliament. In the session of 1703 he is 
referred to as joining in a protest against certain clauses proposed to be 
inserted in the act of security in regard to the succession to the kingdom. 
He petitioned the same parliament on behalf of the privacy and amenity of 
his house and park at Monimail, then styled Melville, that as he had planted 
and fenced the land round it, through which there was a public path, the 
parliament would order the road to be diverted so as to protect his grounds. 
The petition was granted., and a new road ordered to be made at the sight of 
the justices of Fife. 3 

In the session of 1704 reference was made to a matter which harassed 
the later years of the earl's life. This was a disagreement between him and 
his son, Lord Leven, on one side, and Anna, Duchess of Buccleuch, whose 
affairs they had directed for many years, on the other. The details need not 
here be fully stated ; but the earl and his son were accused of corrupt 

1 Letter, 3d July 1700, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. x. p. 247. 

3 Ibid. vol. xi. pp. 61, 70. 


management, and a long and bitter litigation ensued between the parties, 
which was only settled by arbitration in 1711, after Lord Melville's death. 
He felt very keenly the breaking up of the friendship which had subsisted 
between him and the duchess for so long a period, especially in view of the 
many services he had rendered to her family. 1 

Lord Melville was not a member of the last Scottish parliament, which 
began its sittings on 3d October 1706, but he presented a petition for repay- 
ment of sums advanced by him in 1689 and 1690 for the public service. 
The occasion of the advance was to aid those officers who were then com- 
missioned in paying for their commissions, the money being secured over the 
pay clue to their respective companies. In 1690 the earl advanced a further 
sum of £260 sterling to maintain some of the troops who had not been paid, 
bonds being granted by the commanding officers over the arrears of pay. 
The earl states that owing to the great deficiency of the funds, and the dis- 
tressed condition of the officers for want of pay, he did not press his claims ; 
but now that the whole or great part of the arrears of pay due to the army 
was to be paid up, he thought it reasonable that his advances should be 
refunded from the first payments. The parliament granted the petition, and 
passed an act accordingly in favour of Lord Melville. 2 

The earl, however, did not gain any benefit from this concession, as he 
died within a few months afterwards, on 20th May 1707. 3 His remains 
were buried in the parish church of Monimail. 

He was survived by his countess, to whom he was married in 1655, their 
contract being dated 1 7th January in that year. At the date of her marriage 
the bride was little more than fifteen years of age, having been born in 1639. 4 
She is described by her great-grandson David, sixth Earl of Leven and 
Melville, as " a little woman, low of stature." By the marriage contract 
Lord Melville was bound to secure his future spouse in liferent of his lands 
in Eaith and others named, and also to resign his whole lands of Monimail 
and Eaith for new infeftment to himself and her in conjunct fee. On the 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. ruary 1707, in Melville Charter-chest. 
xi. pp. 130, 153 ; The Scotts of Buccleuch, :l Extract from parish register. 

vol. l. p. 470. i Certificate of Baptism, 13th May 1639, 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. extracted Sth June 1674, in Melville Charter- 
xi. App. p. 100 ; Extract Act, 12th Feb- chest. 


other hand, she, with consent of her curators, assigned to him her dowry 
of twenty-five thousand merks, which had been provided by her grand- 
father. 1 At a later date, about 1674, Lady Melville and her husband raised 
an action against the heirs of her grandfather for payment of a sum of 
40,000 merks, provided to her because of her personal exclusion from the 
entail of the Leven titles and estates. 2 The Countess of Melville died on 2d 
April 1713, and was buried beside her husband in the church of Monimail. 

George, Earl of Melville, and his countess had issue eight sons and four 
daughters. The sons were — 

1. Alexander, who bore the courtesy titles successively of Master of Melville and 
Lord Eaith, born 23d December 1655. He remained with his mother and 
attended to the interests of the family at home during the enforced exile of 
his father in Holland. After the revolution he was appointed a member of 
the Scottish privy council and treasurer-depute — an office which he dis- 
charged with great zeal and ability, although amid much discouragement. 
He was as staunch a Presbyterian as his father, whose ecclesiastical policy 
he suj^ported, and was subjected to the assaults of the same political adver- 
saries. He was much respected, however, even by his opponents. Sir 
James Montgomerie, who estimated Lord Eaith's abilities above those of 
his father, in 1693 writes to King James : " We were in hopes that Eaith, 
who is a mettled man, should haue been out of employment ere now, for it 
was talked he was to demitt, having mett with something like ane affront 
as he thought." 3 Lord Eaith did not resign, but continued to discharge his 
duties so well as to call from Lord Tarbat in 1695, the remark to Mr. Carstares, 
" Lord Eaith is certainly one of the sharpest, most judicious, diligentest, in 
the nation " — a statement which, as has been said, would not have been 
made to one so well informed as Carstares unless it had been deserved. 4 

Other notices of Lord Eaith's personal and political character are 
found in papers in the Melville charter-chest. One of these, an anony- 
mous defence of Lord Melville's policy in the parliament of 1695, mentions 
Lord Eaith in connection with " an act relative to the church, whereby a 
new clay is given to those who call themselves the episcopall clergy for 
takeing the oaths." 5 Those taking the oaths before 1st September 1695 

1 Contract in Melville Charter-chest. i Leven and Melville Papers, Preface, 

2 Transumpt, 24th July 1674, of bond 3d p. xxxiii. 

January 1646, ibid. 5 Cf. Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

3 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 229, 230. vol. ix. p. 450. 

VOL. I. 2 H 


were to possess their churches and stipends, and to have the protection of 
the civil government, whether they formally owned the established church 
government or not, and whether qualified or not. " This act, so formed, 
came into the house by way of surprize, few or non hearing of it till it was 
presented. . . . The Lord Raith, Melvil's son, upon hearing it read in par- 
liament, for he had not heard of it before, proposed that since these 
ministers were to have the protection of the government, and to enjoy 
their benefices, and were not accountable any manner of way to the church, 
that they should be obliged to sign the Confession of Faith, as all the 
ministers of the kingdom are, that that being a test of their orthodoxie, the 
people might not be in haizard of being poisioned by erronious and false 
doctrine." 1 Secretary Johnstone, however, the writer adds, pressed the 
act on the house, and Raith's motion was not carried. 

Another document of similar character, of uncertain date, thus refers 
to Lord Raith : " Whatever may be said of the father [Lord Melville] 
as too warrie and timerous and slow a man, and not bred to busines, 
yet that cannot be objected against the children. For Raith, most that 
know him look upon him as a man of the best abilities and greatest 
integrity in the government, and as Queensberrie sayes of him, he lies, tho' a 
litle man, both a head and a heart, and would have been glaidly in a good 
correspondence with him, and whatever you may think at court, there is a 
grande difirance (as a Frenchwoman said when a minister was goeing to 
mary a shoemaker's wife) betuixt the chancelours [Tweeddale's] pairts and 
his, and as for integrity (not to say any thing of the chancelours), the king 
hes not that to give which would make him to doe that which he thinks 
ane ill thing ; and its often eneugh said by some they know how to manadge 
others, when they have busines to doe, but there is no way to be found to 
manage Raith but what the merits of the cause may doe." The writer then 
notes some points in which Raith's " streightnes and his faithfullnes in the 
king's service makes him uneasie to others," and refers to questions about 
precedence and other trivial matters of dispute between him and his 
colleagues : " What other things may be said must be gross lyes and 
calumnies, which he [Raith] does not at all value, and he might be saifely 
adventured to enter the lists in debate with all the great folk you have witli 
you. But he is to be blamed for being too much of his father's humor in 
some things, and is litle desireous to medle, but very unwilling to be baffled 
or affronted. He would willingly have quitt his employment, but that his 
' Original paper (c. 1695), in Melville Charter-chest. 


friends with great pains dissuaded him, for that were but the giving the 
ball to enemies, so that I belive now they [Melville and his sons] resolve to 
keep till they be turned out, that at least they may not give their enemies 
that satisfaction to make way for them. The king may doe what he pleases, 
and they must be content." x 

Thus respected in political life, his death on 27th March 1698, at a 
comparatively early age, was a loss to his country and a deep regret to his 
friends. Mr. Carstares and Secretary Ogilvie wrote letters of condolence to 
his father, Lord Melville ; and the Eev. Daniel Williams, minister at 
Moorfields, London, adds the following tribute : "lam sorry for the public 
loss the church and state, as well as your family, haue sustained by the 
death of my Lord Baith ; his gifts and spirit consecrated to a common good 
must have rendered him a signal blessing when the experience of age had 
been added to the early specimen he gave the world so soon. ... I wish 
it be no presage the good work in Scotland is to find some stop, when 
such hopeful instruments are removed and few apt ones yet appear." 2 

Lord Eaith married (contract dated 27th August 1689) Barbara Dundas, 
third daughter of the deceased Walter Dundas of that ilk, her mother, 
Lady Christian Leslie, being a consenting party. 3 They had issue two sons, 
born respectively 29th January 1693 and 28th May 1695, who both died 
in infancy. Lady Raith survived her husband until 23d February 1719. 

2. John Melville, born 28th May 1657, who died young. 

3. David, born 5th May 1660, third Earl of Leven. Of him a memoir follows. 

4. G-eorge Melville, born on 24th September 1664, and died young. 

5. James Melville, born 18th December 1665. He appears to have acted as 

secretary to his father, and was in constant attendance upon him during the 
later years of his life. He also shared in his father's management of the 
Buccleuch estates. In 1675 the lands of Hallhill, belonging to James Mel- 
ville, son and heir of the late Sir James Melville of Burntisland and 
Hallhill, were adjudged to Lord Melville for debt, and transferred by him to 
his son James, who became James Melville of Hallhill; but in 1699 he 
regranted the lands to his father. 4 James Melville also had the lands of 
Balgarvie. He died in the year 1706, leaving a widow, Elizabeth Mon- 
crieff, of what family is not known, three sons, George, Alexander, and 

1 Paper, undated, c. 1693, in Melville 3 Original contract, ibid. 
Charter-chest, referred to supra, p. 230. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 179, 180; letter, 4 Inventory of writs, etc., in Melville 
2d July 1698, in Melville Charter-chest. Charter-chest. 


David, and four daughters, named Margaret, Anne, Barbara, and Mary. 
The eldest son, George Melville of Balgarvie, residenter in Edinburgh, 
died in December 1713, apparently unmarried and without issue. He 
appointed his brother-german, Alexander Melville, his executor, and left 
legacies to his four sisters. 1 Alexander Melville, also of Balgarvie, the 
second son, was, on 16th February 1714, and again on 12th April 1737, 
retoured heir-general to his brother George. On 19th October 1736, and 
on 20th April 1742, he was retoured heir-general to his father, who is 
described as James Melville of Hallhill, and also as James Melville, son 
of George, Earl of Melville. 2 The third son, David, survived until 1782, 
and died at his house in the Sciennes, Edinburgh, on 12th December of that 
year. 3 The eldest daughter, Margaret, married, as his first wife, Mr. John 
Erskine of Carnock, author of " Institutes of the Law of Scotland," and had 
a son, Dr. John Erskine, of New Greyfriars Church, Edinburgh. 4 The 
second daughter, Anne, appears to have died unmarried. The third daughter, 
Barbara, married Mr. Alexander Stoddart, minister at Falkland, whom she 
survived. They had issue, James Stoddart, merchant in Edinburgh. The 
fourth daughter, Mary, died, apparently unmarried, on 22d June 1759. 5 
C. John Melville, born 24th April 1670. Died young. 

7. Charles Melville, born 2d December 1673. Died young. 

8. John Melville, born 26th September 1677. Died young. 

The daughters were — 

1. Margaret Melville, born 2Sth October 1658. She married Robert, fourth Lord 

Balfour of Burleigh. Her second daughter, Mary, married General Alexander 
Bruce of Kennet, and was the ancestress of the present Lord Balfour. 

2. Mary Melville, born 7th May 1662. ^ 

3. Anna Melville, born 8th March 1 668. I to ^ tf T hte ™ ff appear 

4. Katherine Melville, born 1st June 1671. J ' n °" 

1 Commissariot of Edinburgh, Testaments. i Fasti Ecclesia? Scoticanse, part iv. p. 76. 
Vol. 88, 17th March 1721. Commissariot of Edinburgh, Testaments. 

2 Indexes of Services of Heirs at dates. 5 Will, dated at Falkland, Sth April 175S. 

3 Scots Magazine, December 1782. Ibid. vol. IIS, 17th August 1761. 


X. — David, third Earl of Leven, and second Earl of Melville. 

Lady Anne Wemyss, his Countess. 

Born 1660; Earl of Leven, 1681 ; Earl of Melville, 1707 ; Died 1728. 

The Honourable David Melville, third Earl of Leven, was the second 
surviving son of George, first Earl of Melville, and his countess, Catherine 
Leslie. He was born on 5th May 1660, 1 and was baptized at Monimail on 
the 11th of the same month. 2 He succeeded to the earldom of Leven when 
he had just attained his majority, and possessed it for nearly half a century, 
filling also important positions as a military commander. He took a 
prominent part in the settlement of the government of Scotland at the 
Eevolution, and was also a cordial supporter of the Union. 

He first conies into public notice as a claimant to the earldom of Leven on 
the death of the two young countesses, Margaret and Catherine, the daughters 
of Alexander Leslie, second Earl of Leven. In his entail of the Leven estates, 
made in 1663, the second earl, failing his own issue, male and female, 
provided them to a succession of heirs, first, to the second son of John, Earl 
of Eothes, whom failing, to the second son of George, Lord Melville, his 
brother-in-law, whom failing, to the second son of David, Earl of Wemyss, 
and the entailer's mother, Lady Margaret Leslie, whom all failing, to the 
entailer's heirs and assignees whatsoever. The Earl of Eothes had no sons 
surviving, and so the Honourable David Melville was the heir-presumptive. 
But on his claiming to be served heir, the Duke of Eothes interposed the 
objection that the claim was premature, as it was possible he might still have 
a second son to inherit the Leven estates. The case was sharply contested 
in the court of session in February 1677, by Eothes, who was lord chancellor, 
and by Lord Melville, whose son David was still in his minority, and who 
had a gift of the non-entry of the earldom, dated 13th June 1676. The 
court sustained the contention of Eothes, and held that so long as there 
1 Entry in old Family Bible at Melville. * Register of the parish of MonimaiL 


was a possibility of his having a second son, David Melville could not be 
served heir. 1 

So triumphant was the chancellor over his victory that at the earliest 
possible moment — twenty-four hours after the reading in the minute-book — 
he demanded an extract of the decreet in his favour. It was refused, how- 
ever, as Lord Melville had been before him, and given in a plea contending 
that as there was no true contradicter in the field, the finding became null. 
This plea was sustained by the lords, and they withdrew their decree. The 
chancellor now strove to get the case re-debated, but all his influence could 
not move the session to do so. Meanwhile Lord Melville secured the influ- 
ence of Lauderdale, who was then at court, in the matter, and letters of gift 
under the hand of King Charles the Second were obtained in which the lands 
are declared to be in the king's hands, if not by virtue of the prerogative, at 
ieast as " pater patriae," whereby it was proper he should provide that such 
heirs of entail as were only in hope should not be prejudiced by the neglect 
of their estates, and to this end the king appointed George, Lord Melville, 
and his heirs, curatores bo?iis over the earldom of Leven, on behalf of the true 
heir." 2 In July following Lauderdale came to Edinburgh, and Melville by 
his influence revived the case before the session, though Eothes foreseeing the 
issue would now fain have let it rest. The result was that on this occasion 
a decision was given in Melville's favour, in terms of the king's gift. This 
gift was said to have been the first of its kind ever granted. 3 

All prospect of a possible heir of entail from the Duke of Eothes being 
terminated by his death on 27th July 1681, without male issue, the earldom 
and estates of Leven then devolved upon David Melville, who at once 
assumed the title as third Earl of Leven. On the following day, the 28th, 
when the parliament met at Edinburgh, a protest for precedency over the 

1 Lord Fountainhall's Historical Notices, But I [the chancellor] say, Nihil tale, 
vol. i. p. 140. His lordship reflects the hum- Until : te interred 
our of the bench on the occasion. One reason Eus reale oraves for to be served -" 
for the finding was, " for the devill must byde 2 Royal signature, dated Whitehall, 29th 
his day.'' A roundel was also made on the May 1677, presented by Lauderdale and sub- 
case : scribed by him and other members of the 

" Ens reale [Melville's second son] craves P rivv couucil - 

to be preferred. 3 Fountainhall's Historical Notices, vol. i. 

Ad quantum et ad quale, Ens reale. pp. 167, 168. 


Earl of Callendar was made in his name and on his behalf by Sir George 
Mackenzie of Tarbat. 1 His peerage gave him a seat in parliament, where he 
took precedence of his father. In the following year he was duly retoured 
and infeft in the Leven estates as heir to Catherine, Countess of Leven, who 
was the previous holder of the title and estates. 2 Among the first of his 
proceedings on accpiiring the estates, was the raising of a process against Mr. 
Francis Montgomerie, the husband of Margaret, Countess of Leven, the elder 
sister of Countess Catherine, for reduction of their marriage-contract, by 
which he had been provided to a liferent annuity of ten thousand merks out 
of the estate. He also claimed right to the jewels and moveables of his late 
wife. The pleas were that Margaret, Countess of Leven, by reason of ill- 
health, and being in minority, was incapable of marriage, but was forced 
thereto by her uucle, the Duke of Rothes, and that the provision was exorbi- 
tant and injurious to the estate. The lords of session, however, found that 
neither plea was well grounded, and decision therefore was given against 
the Earl of Leven, who afterwards arranged matters with Mr. Francis 
Montgomerie. 3 

In 1683 the Earl of Leven accompanied his father in his flight to Holland, 
though personally he had no reason to become an exile, the government being 
desirous only to secure Lord Melville. The circumstances of the flight have 
been narrated in the previous memoir, and probably the very day on which 
they left Fife is fixed by a deed of factory executed by the Earl of Leven in 
favour of his uncle, James Melville of Cassingray. It is dated on 24th April 
1683 at West Wemyss, whither he and his father were bound when Mac- 
arthur is said to have met them, and as " Duncan Macarthur in Monimeal " 
was one of the witnesses, it may be inferred that directly on meeting him 
they had gone to Wemyss, and there matured arrangements for escape. The 
reason given by the Earl for granting this deed is his " necessary absence." 4 

After his arrival in Holland, the Earl of Leven appears to have spent 
some time in travelling, and a note-book of his expenditure, somewhat 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, Charter-chest. Retonr, dated 26th April 
vol. viii. p. 234. 16S2 [Fife P.etours, No. 1204]. 

3 Foimtainhall's Historical Notices, vol. i. 

- Crown precept and sasine thereon, dated p. 396. 
27th May and 1st June 1682, in Melville 4 Original in Melville Charter-chest. 


irregularly kept, from May 1684 to March 1686, is still preserved at Melville. 
Three factorial commissions to Ms uncle and others show that in December 
1685 he was at Kell, in January 1686 at Hamburg, and in June 1687 at 
Berlin. Ere the last-mentioned date, through the good offices of the Electress 
Sophia of Hanover, who retained a constant friendship afterwards for the 
earl, he had entered the service of her son-in-law, the Duke of Branden- 
burg, and was in September 1687 appointed a colonel in the elector's army. 
At the court of Berlin, as the earl himself informs us, he was employed by 
the Prince of Orange to advance his interest privately, and he succeeded 
in his mission to the satisfaction of the prince, whose gratitude was expressed 
in his letters to the earl at this time, and in more substantial manner later. 1 

A private letter, written by one of the Scottish refugees on the Continent, 
fully bears out the fact that the earl was in high favour at the court of 
Berlin. It is from Mr. James Brown, minister of the gospel at Konigsberg, 
and seeks to enlist the good offices of the earl with the elector for the 
ratification and extension of his favours to the refugees, especially from 
Scotland. He writes : — 

" Right noble Lord, — Though it hath not been my happiness to be admitted 
to your lordship's aquaintanc, yet having heard from severall, and particularly of 
Mr. Fairly (though under secrecy) of your lordship being at Berlin, and that you 
are highly favoured by our renowned P., Elector of Brandenburg, I have presumed 
to salute and attend upon your lordship by these lines. I do greatly rejoice to 
hear of your welfare and of your lordship's good inclination and inducements 
becoming a true protestant Scotch nobleman ; your travells abroad for a litle 
time, as times now are, may further qualify your lordship for more service to God 
and your countrey." 

He then states his desire, of which he says, " The furthering of this will be 
your lordship's honour, and great service to the nation, and who knows but 
God may have brought your lordship to that place for this end." He sug- 
gests that the earl should deal with M. Brunsenius, minister to the Elector 
at Potsdam, and Baron Kniphausen, one of his chief councillors, both of whom 
had been the principal patrons of the Scots at their prince's court. 2 

1 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 56 note. 

2 Original letter, dated 13th December 1686, in Melville Charter-chest. 


As one result of his political mission, the earl arranged a meeting at Cleves 
between the Prince of Orange and the Elector of Brandenburg. The confer- 
ences on that occasion contributed to the bringing about of the Revolution of 
1688. During the negotiations which followed this meeting, Lord Leven 
continued to act as intermediary, and made frequent journeys between Berlin 
and the Hague in promotion of the enterprise. In further aid thereof, at his 
own expense, he raised a regiment of his countrymen in Germany and Hol- 
land. The proposal to do so emanated from the Elector of Brandenburg, 
and was highly approved by the Prince of Orange, who thought, however, that 
the task would be a somewhat difficult one in respect of the rank and file, 
though officers would be easily got. But the enrolment was accomplished 
within a comparatively short time, the proposal being made in August and 
the earl's commission as colonel being dated on 7th September 1688, 
and this regiment, which became the 25th, was honoured to render very 
important services in effecting the Revolution. At the head of it the earl 
accompanied the prince to England in the following November, and when 
Plymouth surrendered, as it was the first of the English towns to do so, the 
earl received instructions to proceed thither with his regiment, receive the 
town, and garrison it, which was done. 

When the Prince of Orange had received the crown of England, a number 
of the Scottish nobles and gentry who had come to London met there with 
the object of placing the Scottish crown also in his hands. It was agreed that 
the estates of Scotland should be convened, and that the prince, now King 
William, should address a letter to the convention. The king made choice 
of the Earl of Leven to be the bearer of this important missive to the 
Scottish estates, and he had the honour of presenting it on the third day of 
their meeting at Edinburgh, on 16th March 1689, where he also attended as 
a member. The convention passed a vote of thanks to those of their number 
who had met in London, and done such "tymeous and duty-full" service. 1 
Lord Leven also received a circular letter from the King signed " G. Prince 
d'Orange," desiring him to attend this meeting of the estates. 2 

A day or two after the convention met in Edinburgh, the military 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. ix. pp. 8, 14, 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 31, 32. 

VOL. I. 2 I 


character of the earl was recognised, and he was intrusted in this capacity 
with the necessary powers to secure that their deliberations should be con- 
ducted in peace. The Duke of Gordon had possession of the castle, and held 
it for King James, refusing to surrender. Claverhouse and his dragoons 
were in the town, he himself attending the convention. But on discovering 
that the meeting was unfavourable to James, Claverhouse held a hasty con- 
ference with the Duke of Gordon at the western postern of the fortress, and 
departed to rouse the Highlands in his master's interest. In consequence 
of this an order was issued empowering the Earl of Leven to raise a regiment 
eight hundred strong, to guard the town, disperse all parties bearing arms 
save themselves, and prevent any persons entering or leaving the castle. His 
own regiment being still about Plymouth, the earl formed this new regiment 
out of entirely fresh levies, but these were chiefly and readily supplied by 
west-country men, who had come to Edinburgh for the special purpose of 
strengthening the hands of the promoters of the Eevolution. The measure, 
however, was merely temporary, until the arrival of regular troops from 
England, whither the Scots had sent their regiments for the time. The 
earl himself is said to have levied seamen from Arbroath during this year 
for the service of England. 1 

In the proceedings of the convention also the earl took an active part in 
the interest of King William. He signed the declaration- that the meeting- 
was a free parliament, also their letter to the king, and was appointed one of 
a small committee to whom was assigned the task of auditing the revenue 
accounts of the general receivers. He was also named on the militia com- 
mission for the shires of Fife and Kinross, and on the committee of supply 
for Fife. With the Earl of Callendar he became personally cautioner for 
Lieutenant-Colonel John Balfour of Fernie, who thereupon received his 
liberty. Permission was also accorded him to quarter his regiment, which 
was now under orders to proceed from England to Scotland, wherever he 
pleased in Fife. 2 

King William's first Scottish parliament sat in Edinburgh on 5th June 
1689, but the Earl of Leven is not mentioned as taking any special part in its 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, - Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

vol. ix. pp. 11, 12, 17, 23, 32 ; xi. p. 154. vol. ix. pp. 9, 20, 29, 33, 65. 73. 


work, further than being present and protesting for the precedency of his 
title over the Earl of Callendar. 1 There was other business on hand more 
congenial to his military tastes. His regiment was now with him in Scot- 
land, having left Plymouth at the beginning of May for Chester, thence to 
proceed to Kirkcudbright by sea ;- and the earl received a new commission as 
its colonel, with the captaincy of a company in it, from their Majesties, King 
William and Queen Mary, which was dated 20th June 1689, but was ordained 
to rank from the 7th September of the previous year, the date of his last 
commission, granted by the king as Prince of Orange. 3 An army was being 
levied to cope with Claverhouse, who had succeeded in raising the clans, and 
the earl was associated with Major-General Mackay, who had been sent to 
take the chief command of the troops in Scotland, in dealing with the in- 
surgent Highlanders. A royal warrant authorised both officers to use their 
best endeavours to induce the rebels to lay down their arms, and empowered 
them to grant assurances to such as would do so. 4 At the date of his asso- 
ciation in this form with General Mackay, the Earl of Leven was only in his 
twenty-ninth year, while Mackay was much his senior in years, as well as in 
military service. 

Mackay had been following Claverhouse in the Highlands, but was forced 
to return to Edinburgh for additional troops before risking an engagement. 
Here he was joined by several regiments, including the greater portion of Lord 
Leven's, part of it being employed elsewhere. Marching into Athole they 
encountered the Highlanders at Killiecrankie, where the battle was fought 
which cost the government a defeat and the insurgents their leader. Mackay's 
troops, on the onslaught of the Highlanders, ignominiously broke and fled, all 
save two regiments, those of Leven and Hastings, and it was generally 
admitted that these saved the credit, such as there was, of the army of King- 
William. General Mackay was loud in his praise of these regiments, but 
gives as the reason of their firmness that they were well officered, and were 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 3 Original Commission in Melville Cbarter- 
vol. ix. pp. 95, 99. chest. 

2 Letter, Sir David Nairne to the Earl of 4 Printed in vol. ii. of this work, p. 34. 
Leven, 4th May 1689, in Melville Charter- A contemporary copy in the Melville Charter- 
chest ; cf. Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 3- chest shows that it was addressed to the 
5, 10. Earl of Leven and Major-General Mackay. 


not attacked in the same manner as the others. The Jacobite account of the 
battle states that Claverhouse, not having sufficient men to extend his line 
equal to that of Mackay, and desiring to guard against the possibility of being 
flanked, left a large gap in the centre opposite to the regiment commanded by 
the Earl of Leven. While the rest fled it thus stood entire, and did much 
execution by its fire among the Highlanders, the most of whom, however, 
passed on in pursuit of the fugitives. Hastings' men, who had been posted on 
the extreme right of the line, were for a similar reason not attacked until, 
when the main body fled, a number of the Highlanders rallied from the pur- 
suit and attacked them. Seeing this Leven marched to their assistance, and 
compelled the assailants to retreat. The Highlanders in their retreat dis- 
covered the body of Claverhouse, and carried him off the field, but Leven's 
regiment poured such a fire into them that their devotion cost them clear. 
Mackay having now joined these two regiments, to escape the fury of the 
Highlanders returning from the pursuit, drew them off to the neighbouring 
mansion-house of Urrard, where for a time they successfully resisted attack. 
In the darkness, however, they retreated, sustaining an attack from the Athole 
men before clearing the pass, but ultimately getting away they crossed the 
hills to Weem, and thence to Drummond and Stirling. 1 The Jacobites 
indeed alleged that the Earl of Leven and all that had horses, fled from 
the field very early. 2 But had this been the case, which is contrary to the 
evidence of some of the Jacobites themselves, the Earl of Leven would have 
been among the first to proclaim his own safety. On the contrary, with 
the news of the disaster brought by the fugitives, several noblemeu wrote to 
Lord Melville, then at London, deploring the fate of Lord Leven and General 
Mackay, who were both thought to be killed. The earl was also said to 
have been wounded in the shoulder ; but their appearance at Stirling unin- 
jured dispelled the rumours. Mackay was then able to state the case for 
himself, and writing to the Duke of Hamilton, then royal commissioner to 
the parliament at Edinburgh, he says : " There was no regement or troop with 
me but behaved lyck the vilest cowards in nature, except Hastings and my 
Lord Levens, whom I most praise at such a degree, as I cannot but blame 

1 Mackay's Memoirs, pp. 54-G1 ; Memoirs of Loeheill, pp. 26S-272. 
- Ibid. 


others, of whom I expected more ; " and writing to Lord Melville he says, 
" My Lord, your son hath behaved himself with all his officers and soulders 
extraordinary well, as did also Colonel Hastings with his." 1 

In a vindication written in or about the year 1695 of Lord Leven and his 
father, the Earl of Melville, entitled " A true account of these things, whereby 
some endeavour for their own ends and designes to misrepresent Melvill and 
his sones to the king, etc.," some further details of the actual events of the 
battlefield, hitherto unknown, are stated : — 

" As to Melvill himself, I need not tell you that it was a Jacobite designe to have 
him out of the king's favour, because he had discovered and defeat all their 
designes, and it may be without vanity said that he did that service to the king- 
in so criticall a time as then no Scotsman was able to doe. They see themselves 
brought alltogither in the king's mercie, and so thought they could never be 
secure till they should gett the king prepossessed against him and he removed 
from his station. The methods they fell upon to accomplish this was first to 
engage Generall Major M'Kay on their syde, who, they knew, had taken up a 
mortall prejudice and envie at Leven, tho upon very unjust grounds, as I shall 
mention afterwards. The reason was that Leven had gained some reputation, 
and he had lost his. All the country blamed his conduct. Both his own 
souldiers and his enemies contemned him. At Gillekrankie non keept their 
ground but Leven and a pairt of his regiment. A great many of them were 
detached into other places of the country. Tho Collonell Hastings behaved him- 
self well, but was beat of his ground, and upon that retireing till he knew that 
Leven's men had stood. All the rest of the army runn, and the generall major 
was a missing till after the busines was over, and they say was found in a 
thicket. When he came up to Leven, who had beat of the enemie, and who had 
in his own person recovered M'Kay's collours, M'Kay lighted and embraced him, 
and kissed him many times, saying he had saved his honour, his life, and the 
kingdome. He would never forgett it, and he would represent it fully to the 
king. Further to evidence M'Kay's ingratitude to him, after the Highlanders 
were beat of, he went out to see what was become of the generall, and in seeking 
for him he found his nevoey, this present Collonell Robert M'Kay, staggering 
and fainting of his wounds. He lighted and toar his own linnings, and his ser- 
vants, and bound up his wounds, sett him on his own horse, which was the 
only horse he had (left of 14 or 16, his servants some of them being killed, and 

1 Maekay's Memoirs, j>p. 248-260. 


some haveing runn away with his horsses), and betook himselff to his foot. This 
gentleman is not so ingrate as his uncle. Within three or four dayes of this 
M'Kay took up that prejudice and envie at Leven. The reason was because the 
country were crying out against him, and much regraiting Leven, even those who 
had never seen him; ffor for these tuo three days it was thought both were 
killed. And when Leven after was comeing through the country to Edinburgh, 
the people all along run out as to a fair whenever he came alongst to see him 
and blissed him. On the conterarie they made songs on M'Kay. This raised 
his envie, and there is no standing before envie. The thanks Leven gott for 
this, tho he loosed above 1000 lib. at that engagement (for M'Kay would have 
them make the retreat tho the feeld was their own, and leave all the baggage) 
was to have others preferred who run away, and to have on of them put over his 
head, and afterwards ane other, who was much younger then he in comission, and 
now at last his regiment taken from him. . . ." J 

Some further instances of Mackay's jealousy of Leven are given, but these 
need not here be adverted to. It may be noticed, however, that after the 
meeting of Mackay and Leven on the field, Mackay, it is stated, "gave him 
[Leven] the comand of the retreat, which was his due, and that night never 
a hollow given, or any small allarum, but then, ' Where was Leven? ' and for 
that night and the nixt they were very well togither, but within a few dayes 
after he changed extremly." - 

In referring to the Killiecrankie episode in his life at a still later date, 
when defending himself against the charges of disloyalty made by his enemies, 
the earl himself says : — 

" What my conduct was, and the behaviour of my regiment in that battle 
(altho' the battle went against his Majesty) I wish I were so happy as that 
even my enemys were to give their account thereof, for that was so well known 
and so full in the publick prints that (without my presumeing to give her royall 
highness, Princess Sophia, ane account of my small appearance) yet she honoured 
me with a letter upon that account, wherin she was pleased to take notice of 
my behaviour, which letter I have yet in my custody." 3 

The letter from the Princess Sophia here referred to has not been found 

1 Vindication in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Another vindication, ibid. 

3 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 254. 


in the Melville Charter-chest, and could not therefore be printed with the 
other letters with which the Electress honoured the earl. 

When the castle of Edinburgh was surrendered by the Duke of Gordon on June 1689, the keeping of it was conferred by the king and queen on 
their tried and trusted servant, Lord Leven. It had been previously promised 
to him by the king, 1 and on 4th July following a warrant was issued for 
expeding the commission in favour of the earl. 2 The commission is dated 
23d August 1689, and bears that the king and queen appoint David, Earl of 
Leven, constable and governor of the castle of Edinburgh during their 
pleasure. 3 When the commission came before the privy council of Scotland it 
gave rise to a debate, and the passing of it under the seals was postponed until 
the reasons of their refusal were communicated to the king. The real reason 
was party jealousy, 4 but those alleged were of a purely technical nature and 
somewhat frivolous. The objections appear to have delayed the formal 
completion of the commission for a year, as it bears to have been sealed and 
engrossed in the register of the great seal on 23d August 1690. It did not, 
however, delay the entry of the earl on his duties as governor of the castle, 
as there is evidence of his acting in that capacity in the beginning of Sep- 
tember 1689. 5 Indeed, in that month, the council did appoint the seal to 
be appended, but a wish was expressed for a clearer understanding of what 
their relations to the earl in his new position would be, while, at the same 
time, they approved of the king's choice of the earl as a good one. 6 He was 
complimented on his appointment by the Electress Sophia, who gave it 
as her opinion that the king had only, with his usual discernment of 
character, paid the tribute due to the earl's merit and noble birth. 7 He 
was also congratulated by the Duke of Schomberg, then in Ireland, who 
wrote that he had seen in the gazette that the earl "had the government 
of Edinburgh." 8 

Lord Leven was in January 1690 appointed by King William to take 

1 Leven aud Melville Papers, p. 66. 5 Ibid. p. 271. 

2 Vol. iii. of this "work, pp. 190-192. b ^ i •• r j.i_- i mo 

' rr " Vol. n. of this work, p. 122. 

3 Original commission in Melville Charter- 
chest. '' md - V- 55. 

4 Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 164, 265, 8 Ibid. p. 125. Leven and Melville Papers, 
266. pp. 295, 296. 


certain measures along with General Mackay and Sir George Munro in 
relation to the forces, probably the planting of garrisons in the Highlands, 
which was proposed at the time. But the result of that commission does not 
appear. 1 At a later date the earl was authorised by the privy council, along 
with Lord Euthven, to speak with the Earl of Seaforth, then a prisoner in 
the castle, that he might influence his uncle, Mr. Colin Mackenzie, to give up 
the castle of Ellandonan to the government, evidently that it might be made 
one of the proposed garrisons in the Highlands. 

About this time also the earl had a seat on the privy council of Scotland, 
where he is mentioned as taking active part in a warm debate with the Duke 
of Hamilton, then president of the council, as to the signing of official deeds. 
He certainly at a later date acted as a privy councillor, and in this capacity 
did much to further the settlement of the country under King William. 3 

In the two parliamentary sessions of 1690 Lord Leven also took an active 
part. The first lasted from April to July. He was placed upon the 
committee for fines and forfeitures, and on the commission for the plantation 
of kirks, as well as on the committees of supply for the counties of Fife and 
Perth. The second session only lasted a few clays in September, when the 
earl was nominated on another committee for preparing acts in relation to 
shires and burghs. 4 

An account-book kept by Charles Hay, the earl's chamberlain, from 11th 
September 1689, about the time the earl entered on his duties as keeper of 
the castle of Edinburgh, gives some information about the more private life 
of his lordship. He expended large sums in payment of his regiment, a fact 
which is borne out also by a letter from Lord Melville. Writing about June 
1690 he says, "Leven had paid his regiment out of his own pocket these five 
months and upwards . . . and has always kept above his complement. 
But this will not do long with us. The others are upon the country and in 
a starving condition." 5 His interest in the political discussions of the time 
are shown by the purchase of twenty-six copies of the printed " Grievances 

1 Order for payment to them of more 3 Leven and Melville Papers, pp. 344, C34. 

money for the purpose, in Melville Charter- 4 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

chest. vol. ix. pp. 10(i, 114, 143. 161, 1SS, 200, 

230, 232. 

- Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 224, 225. 5 Draft in Melville Charter-chest. 


and Instructions," which were " all given to Westshiels, goeing to the west 
countrey, to disperse; they coast £1, 4s. Scots." 1 Then two copies of " Staires 
Vindication," 2 and a copy of "Dr. Eule's Vindication," for which last 
Duncan M'Arthur paid on behalf of the earl £1, 10s. Scots. 3 The earl wore 
periwigs, and when colded, as he sometimes was in winter, had brandy and 
sugar or a posset of milk and sugar. The convivial habits of the time are 
reflected in various payments of accounts incurred at what was apparently a 
combined musical and political club called " Pat. Steills," as besides the 
frequent mention of a dozen bottles being carried down from the castle to 
SteiU's, which were drunk there with the Earl of Argyll and others, 4 two 
dozen which were drunk with the Earl of Carnwath and others, 5 a dozen 
which were carried down and drunk with Drumlanrig, 6 and again of one 
dozen which were drunk at " Thomas Kyles " with Sir George Monroe, 7 
there are entries of accounts paid which were incurred there. Probably the 
bottles carried to these taverns contained more choice liquor than could be 
obtained there, as the earl occasionally made such purchases, as of "24 pynts 
Eanish wyne at 4 shillings sterling per pynt" from Captain Brown in 
Leith, whither the bottles were carried empty and brought back again 
full. 8 At different dates there was the carrying down of bottles of wine, etc., 
from the castle to the abbey, the residence for the time of his father, Lord 
Melville, as commissioner, to the Countess of Wemyss' lodgings, and some- 
times to others, as Lords Tarbat and Prestonhall. Then there was the 
importation of quantities of Preston ale and Dundee ale, doubtless for the 
use of the garrison, and large consignments of bottles from the glass-works at 
Leith were occasionally received ; one such consignment requiring the service 
of no fewer than twenty-five women with creels to carry them to the castle. 

Occasionally entries occur affecting other members of the family, as on 
25th November 1689, at the departure of his brother James for London, the 
earl and the rest of the company, who had met to "speed the parting guest," 
hired two coaches, procured a"flambo," and conveyed him to his coach at 
the Canongate foot. At another time the earl's sister, " Mistris Mary, was very 

1 28th December 1689. 5 3d May 1690. 

2 13th March 1690. 6 19th March 1690. 

3 2d November 1691. 7 7th August 1690. 

4 21st February 1690. s 8th January 1690. 

VOL. I. 2 K 


tender," x and before the month was expired there is notice of a purchase of 
" black stockins to the accomptant for Lady Mary's mournings," 2 and later 
also of a purchase at London of " 2 rims fyne cutt, gilded, and mourning 
paper, and some wax sent to Scotland for your lordship's use, paper beeing 
then scarse and course at Edinburgh, 27 shillings sterling." 3 

That the earl was a patron of horse-racing is also shown in the accounts. 
He seems to have been a regular attender at the races on Leith Links yearly 
in the month of March, and sometimes at Cupar in April. He kept a 
jockey, named Colin Wright, and ran his own horses, not unfrequently 
with success. 4 Among other charitable contributions is one of a dollar " for 
a fyre latly in James Stewart's Close." 6 He occupied a seat in the Tron 
Church, and is mentioned as having gone to it as his " own seat " for the first 
time on the fast day, when he gave the beadle half-a- crown. 6 Other fast- 
day attendances at church are recorded, one being on Wednesday, 24th June 
1691, apparently in Edinburgh, when his chamberlain gave him "to the 
broad, halfe a doller." The next entry is on the following day, " Item — given 
your lordshipe to a penny wedding 4 rix dollers." Then frequent visits to 
Fife are recorded, some on regimental and political business, as " to see the 
magistrates of Kirkaldy chosen," but very often finishing such business 
with a ride to Wemyss. Latterly his visits thither became more frequent. 

His lordship had formed an attachment to the eldest daughter of 
Margaret, Countess of Wemyss, Lady Anna Wemyss, to whom he was 
married in September 1691. Born on 18th October 1675, Lady Anna 
was sought in marriage by Charles, fourth Earl of Southesk, before she had 
completed her sixteenth year. She was not personally averse to the match, 
and Lord Southesk was so eager for the marriage that he offered to take her 
without any portion, and to settle on her any jointure the countess, her 
mother, might think proper. Lady Wemyss, however, consulted her friends 
on the matter (her husband, James, Lord Burntisland, being dead), and 
chiefly George, first Earl of Melville, her brother-in-law. 7 For reasons, 

1 13th March 1690. 6 27th May 1691. 

2 27th March 1690. 7 Original letter in Melville Charter-chest, 

3 15th December 1690. printed in " Memorials of the Family of 

4 Cf. vol. ii. of this work, p. 242. Wemyss," by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., 

5 15th May 1690. vol. iii. p. 142. 


however, which do not clearly appear, the marriage of Lady Anne to Lord 
Southesk was decided against, and it then became known that Lord Leven 
bore her more than an ordinary affection. Writing on 18th March [1691] to 
Lord Melville, Lady Wemyss says : — 

" My lord, as for what I wrote formerly to your lordship concerning my Lord 
Southesk, his proposalls to my daughter, they were soe verry fair and his offers 
soe great as his affection to her apear'd to bee, that really I think it was noe 
great wonder that my daughter seem'd to incline to that match. That which I 
do think a great deall more strange is that one soe young as she should have 
been soe concern'd to have ane unjust right quatt, which might have ruin'd my 
familly if it had come to a competition, as I hope in God it never shall. I finde 
she has a great minde to have the persone she chuses for her husband should 
love her more then his interest, and have noe eye upon her brother's estate, and 
I believe she will finde few if anie in Scotland that has a larger share of honour 
and generosity then your lordship's sone, my Lord Leven, who, I hope, by this 
time has persuaded her of his great affection to her ; but if neither I nor she did 
at first believe it was soe great, he may blame himselfe and his friends who were 
against it. I have often and frily told him I think he should marry none that 
your lordship and his mother are averse from, since marriages seldome prosper 
when parents only give a forced consent. 

" I am, your lordship's affectionat sister and humble servant, 

" M. Wemyss. 1 " 

The contract of marriage between the earl and Lady Anna Wemyss is 
dated at Wemyss 3d September 1691. It obliged the earl to infeft Lady Anna 
for life in Craigincat and Balgonie as her jointure lands after his decease, 
with 500 merks Scots, and for the better settlement of his estates on the 
heirs of the marriage he resigned the whole earldom of Leven. It was like- 
wise arranged that if Lady Anna should succeed to the estate of Wemyss, 
and there should be two sons of the marriage, the elder should succeed as 
Earl of Wemyss, and the second as Earl of Leven. Should there be but one 
son, he was to be Earl of Wemyss, and was taken bound to denude himself 
of the earldom of Leven in favour of the heir-male of any other marriage of 
the Earl of Leven. It was further agreed that if Mr. Francis Montgomerie, 
the husband of the deceased Margaret, Countess of Leven, who, as formerly 

1 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 23S, 239. 


stated, had a large liferent provision out of the estate, still survived when 
Lady Anna's jointure became payable, that she would restrict the same 
during his lifetime. In respect of the existing entail of the earldom of 
Leven, the earl makes provision for the daughters of the marriage, 40,000 
merks if only one was born, 50,000 if two, and 60,000 if three or more. 
Lady Anna's tocher was 45,000 merks. 1 

The wedding appears to have taken place the same day, as Lady Leven 
begins to keep a household account from that day separately. It is also evident 
from entries in the chamberlain's household book, already referred to, that it 
must have been celebrated not later than the 27th of the same month. On 
that day the earl and countess seem to have been " lurked " at East Wemyss, 
when a guinea was given to John More, reader there, with a ducatoon to the 
beadle, and the earl's six coach horses were provided for in the village. 
Other entries about the same date show that the precentor and beadle at 
Markinch church were likewise remembered ; and on 3d October there was 
" bought by my lady's ordor for her page, a bible and a quare of papper." 

At the same time that the contract of marriage was completed, the 
Countess of Wemyss, in view of her own possible future marriage, made an 
agreement with her daughter, Lady Anna, whereby the latter, with consent of 
the Earl of Leven, promised that in the event of the death of her only 
brother, David, Lord Elcho, and of her mother marrying again and having 
sons, she would renounce her right of succession to the earldom and estates of 
"Wemyss in favour of such heir-male — an agreement which was contrary to 
the entail of the estates. 2 Happily, however, there was no need for putting 
the case to a practical test, as Lord Elcho survived and left a flourishing 
family, which is largely represented to this day. 

Besides signing the marriage-contract, and giving his consent to the agree- 
ment between the Countess of Wemyss and Lady Anna, the Earl of Leven, 
the same day, gave his own bond in connection with the marriage arrange- 
ments, whereby he promised, in the event of Lady Anna dying without issue, 
to restrict the amount of her tocher to be received by him to 36,000 merks. 
In the event of his having received the whole, or more than this amount, 

1 Original marriage-contract, in Melville 2 Duplicate bond, in Melville Charter- 

Charter-ehest. chest. 


before such a casualty, he obliged himself to repay such overplus to the 
Countess of Wemyss or her heirs. 1 

The Countess of Wemyss did afterwards marry, her second husband being- 
Sir George Mackenzie, Viscount of Tarbat, afterwards first Earl of Cromartie ; 
but they had no issue. As he was seventy and she only forty years of age, the 
match created considerable sensation, and no little merriment in social circles. 
But the disparity of years was balanced by the great warmth of Lord Tarbat's 
affection. For a time the marriage was opposed by her children and their 
spouses, and Lord Leven is specially mentioned as being averse. But as they 
were unable to change the resolution of the countess, they ultimately con- 
sented. In a letter to his wife written from Errol, Lord Leven describes the 
signing of the marriage-contract there in April 1700. He says : — 

" My Lady Weemys is almost satisfyed with me, but not at all with Elcho or 
Northesk. The contract was signed this day by my Lord Tarbat and my Lady 
Weemys ; my father and Prestonhall witnesses. Elcho and I wer present. 
Northesk went home yesternight and came not back this day. . . . My Lady 
Weemys said this day she wold not marry till nixt week. Tarbat signed first, as 
is usuall, and when he gave hir the pen he kissed it, and affter she had done he 
kised hir hands and then hir mouth." 2 

Lord Tarbat's great affection for his second wife, the Countess of Wemyss, 
has been shown in the history of the Earls of Cromartie. He survived her, 
and occupied much of his time in preparing monuments to her memory. 3 

Lady Margaret Wemyss, the younger sister of the Countess of Leven, 
married David, fourth Earl of Northesk. The match was for a time opposed 
by her mother on account of his Jacobite leanings, but he was at length 
successful in his suit. In a letter to his countess, which is, as was usual 
with the earl, undated, Lord Leven refers to Lord Northesk's courtship. He 
says : — 

" Northesk is now to lay a closs seidge. My lady sticks much at his not 
takeing the oaths. I think your sister should make him a Williamit. My service 
to hir. The king is cume to England. I am, ever yours. 4 

1 Duplicate bond, dated 3d September of Wemyss of Wemyss," vol. i. pp. 316-320, 
1691, in Melville Charter-chest. and vol. ii. of this work, p. 242. 

3 "The Earls of Cromartie," vol. i. pp. 

2 Original letter, undated, in Melville cxlix, cl. 

Charter-chest ; cf . " Memorials of the Family 4 Letter in Melville Charter-chest. 


Lady Northesk in a letter to her sister, Lady Leven, describes an inter- 
view she had with her mother and father-in-law shortly after their marriage, 
which took place on the 29th of April 1700. She says : — 

" I know, my dearest sister, yon '11 be content to hear the history of my jurney 
to Elcho. I went on Thursday night that I might come home on Saturday morn- 
ing, for I expected company with my lord. My mother was very dry to me att 
first, and I was hardly set doun when Tarbat went out of the room. She fell on 
me for my lords not syning the contrack, and all hir other quarels att him, and 
the greatest was that when she asked him before your lord if he minded that she 
wou'd not drink your health, he wou'd not say he did not mind it. I heard hir 
till ane end, which was a good time, but or all was done I was not a word behind 
with hir ladyship, which calmed hir a litle ; for I find what your lord sayes is 
very true, It 's best to hold to hir. I asked my father's picture, and she made 
many excuses for takeing it doune, becaus it wanted a frame, and was a syse less 
then hirs, which was not true, for my lord measured them both when he went 
there with hir, but she had forgott that. She promised it me without very much 
intrety, and said she would caus draw one for hir self the syse of hir oune 
picture. They lay a-bed till ten, and she goes much sooner to bed then 
ordiner. She cokers him well up with broath and milk, with strengthening- 
roots. I beleve he needs them all. She was expecting your lord, for he 
promised to come. She said I cou'd not learne what fine things he hed 
given hir. I fancie verie litle. I was very much on the reserve whyle there, 
and did not goe to hir room till I was sent for, which she observed and quareld 
me for. There was a great dale of ceremony betueen them when I was there ; 
nothing but 'my lord' and 'madam' pas'd betuen them, but they were at 'heart' 
and 'joy' er I cam, and when I was gone he waited on me to Segieden on Saturday 
afternoon, for there was no crossing sooner. He took it very ill when I wished 
he might not be the worce with the ill night, and said he was not so tender as 
some thought him. Ime sure you are wearie reading noncense, as I am wreten 
it. My lord gives his humble service to yow, as we both doe to your lord. I 
cannot persuad him to goe see my lady. . . . Burne this as yow wou'd oblidg, 
yours, my dear heart. . . . We did not forget Leven's health on Sunday." 1 

A letter written by the earl to Lady Anna on the first anniversary of the 
day the contract was signed, and when he was abroad with his regiment, 
indicates the warmth of his affection for his wife. He writes : — 

1 Original letter, May S [1700], in Melville Charter-ehest. 


" Fume, September 3d. 
" My dearest Heart, — You may easily belive that this is a day I shall never 
forgett. But, to speack plainer, I shall always oun that this day twelfe moneth 
was the beginning of my happyness in this world, for which, my dearest heart, I 
can never thank yow as yow deserve. But since same are still so villanous as to 
rob the pacquet and take our letters, I shall say no more on this head, lest this 
should have that fate. Only, my dearest, I dare assure yow that my love for yow 
encreaseth every day, and it shall not faill to have that effect which yow desire, 
and which I have promised. And in this I must reprotch yow that yow doe not 
make me that retorn which yow ought, for I am informed from good hands, that 
yow have not that regaurd to your health which is both necisar and a dewty on 
yow. Pardon me, my dearest, to chid yow so far this day, for I should have done 
as much this day twelfe moneth had ther been so much need for it. I think if yow 
wold but consider with your selfe the arguments that yow could use to perswade 
me to have a care of myselfe, they should be sufficient to perswade yow to the like. 
I have wreat to yow thre or four letters since I came to this place, which wee are 
bussie fortifying. I have this morning gott two letters from yow, on of 9th and 
on of 20 of Agust. Yow may easily judge how acceptable they wer to me. But 
alas ! when I had read them, espetialy the last, it maks this day, which I had de- 
signed for a day of mirth, to be a day raither of murning, since I know not but 
it may be worse with my clearest and my child then when your letter was wreat. 
This is a very long letter, so I shall only add that if yow love me yow will have a 
good care of your selfe. — I am, my dearest, unalterably yours, 
" For the Countess of Leven, Edinburg Castle, Scotland." l 

Another letter of uncertain date may also be given as typical of many 
by the earl to his countess : — 

" Munday. 

" My Dearest, — I have yours of Sunday's date, and am at least as sorry for 
your being so sick as is proper for a husband to be for so kind and so incomparable 
a wife as you are, my dearest heart. I have sent over Doctor Freer, it being fitt 
that Mitchell and he wait by turns on yow. Mistris Hunter shall be sent in a 
day, if I send not for yow, which I can hardly resolve upon yett. It's like a day 
or two may determine me. — My dear, have a care of yourselfe, and belive I am, 
ever yours. 

" Be assured I will be with yow as soon as possible." 2 

1 Original letter in Melville Charter-chest. 2 Original letter, undated, ibid. 


None of the letters of the countess to the earl seem to be preserved, but 
one written apparently by her sister, Lady Margaret Wemyss, gives the 
opinion of her family about Lord Leven. It is addressed to the Countess of 
Leven. She says : — 

" My dear Sister, — I know you '11 get a letter from your lord with this post, 
so I need say nothing of hem, only that I am very glade to se hem look so 
well, and I beleve he is the best husband on earth, which I know you are sufitiently 
convinced of. I never saw him so uneasie as he was that night he came hear, for 
he had heard on the roade that you was not well, and had got no word after. 
He said he would take post nixt day and goe hom if he got no letters that night. 
Then he fancied my lady 1 had keeped them from him. Yow may se what 
nead you have to take care of yourself for his sake. We shall take all the care 
of him we can. My lady has got a very ill cold. She gives her blissing to yow. 
The Dutchess of Monmouth came to toune on Wedensday. I like my Lady Dal- 
keith. She looks very good. It is late and Saturday, so I shall end. — My dear, 
yours for ever, 

"December 14th, [16]95." 2 

Soon after his marriage, as one letter quoted above shows, the Earl of 
Leven was required to go abroad with his regiment, as King William in 
person was leading an expedition in Flanders against the French. There 
was some delay in the despatch of the troops, which occasioned the following- 
letter to Lord Leven and his somewhat spirited reply : — 

"Whitehall, the 16th February [16]9J. 

" My Lord, — His Majesty does not doubt that the regiment under your lord- 
ship's command will be sail'd with this fair wind. However, least there might 
be any delay in that behalf, his Majesty commands me to signify his pleasure 
that you cause them to go on shipboard immediatly, if the weather permit, with- 
out staying either for recruits or anything else, which, if necessary for the regi- 
ment, may by the next opportunity be sent after them to Holland. — I am, my 
Lord, your Lordship's most humble servant, William Blathwayt. 

" Earle of Leven." 

The earl's reply to this is as follows : — 

"Edinburg Castle, February 23. 
" Sir, — I had yours of 16, which yow say was by his Majestyfs] order. In 
answer to which I must tell yow that it 's non of my fault that the regiment under 
1 Margaret, Countess of Wemyss, their mother. 2 Original in Melville Charter-chest. 


my command is not in Flanders ere now. Yow know I have not the command, 
so was to wait orders, and the frost has been so great that the convoy ships wold 
not goe to sea. I have done all I could to haisten this affair, judging it his 
Majesty's service, and therfor my dewty, and has accordingly given good example 
to the other collonells by shiping my regiment eight days agoe. Collonell 
Lawther's regiment was shiped yeasterday, and on batalion of Collonell 
Beveridge this day, and the rest are to be shiped to-morrow. 

" Ther is on thing that I must take notice off to yow, which is that Sir 
Thomas Livingston sais he has no orders for us what the regiments are to doe 
when landed, which is vexing. Therfor I wold intreat yow to have orders for 
them at ther landing. I have shiped a compleat regiment, and so shall need no 
recreuts at present. 1 They are all in very good heart, and ther only regrait is to 
stay so long a ship board befor they saill. I hop, sir, yow will give his Majesty 
account of my diligence wherby yow will very much obleidge, sir, your most 
humble servant, Leven. 

" Mr. Blaithwait." 

Lord Leven did not accompany his regiment, but joined it afterwards in 
Flanders. His letters show that he journeyed by Helvoetsluis (23d June) to 
Antwerp, where he arrived at the beginning of July. 2 On the 25th he was 
still there, and wrote to his wife, who, being in delicate health at the time, 
had been kept in ignorance of his departure. After referring to the child 
"which it has pleased God to give us"— his daughter Mary, who was born 
about this time — he says : — 

" My dearest Heart, — . . . I shall say no more of my jurnay, haveing wreat 
therof formerly suffitiently, I hop, to convince yow of the reasons of my going with- 
out your knowledge. All I shall say now is that I am cume this lenth in good health, 
and am to be at Brussells to-morrow. The armee. they say, lyeth 9 or ten myles 
from it. It 's said here this day that the two armees did engeadge yeasterday, but 
the event is not yett known here. All I know is from the Master of Stair's man, 
on Macadam. He is here going for Holland, and sais that yeasterday morning our 
armee marched from Hall towards the enimie who lay at Engien, within 3 or 4 
myles of on another, and that he heard the cannon yeasterday afternoon, and the 
small shot when he left Brussells at 7 at night. I shall wreat more fully of this by 
nixt post. I have just now sent to the post house to know newes, and I am told 

1 He was reported at the time to have taken a considerable number of men out of their 
beds for this purpose ; but the statement lacks proof. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 240. 

VOL. I. 2 L 


that it was only the left wing of our arrnee did engeadge, and that wee have 
gained a pass which it seems the enimie and wee wer both stryveing to be masters 
off, and it 's said that Lewt.-Generall Mackay is killed. But I desire not to be 
the authour of anie of these newes, not being weell informed. I am apt to 
belive ther will now be no more action this year. My dearest, have a care of 
your selfe. I hop wee shall have a merry meetting shortly. — I am, ever yours." 1 

The engagement referred to was the eventful battle of Steinkirk, and the 
news of the death of his old comrade and commander, General Mackay, was 
too true. The earl himself does not appear to have been in any action during 
the campaign. In his next letter, which is dated from Ninove, he expresses 
the opinion that the war would now speedily terminate : — 

'•' Espeatialy since the French are affraid to fight us, which maks them keep 
them selfes in such strong grands that its impossible for us to cume att them. . . . 
Wee came to this camp yeasterday. This camp useth to be the last every year 
so it 's like to be so this also. My dearest heart, I am very weell. I want for 
nothing. I have a very good stomack, and wants naither good meat nor drink. 
I mind yovv as I ought so good and kind a wife, and yow shall always be my 
dearest, dearest heart, and I your most affectionate, L." 2 

Prom Ninove the earl moved to Bruges, whence he writes to the countess 
on August 23d, old style : — 

"My dearest, I came here yeasterday. Wee are six regiments of foot under 
Ramsay's command, and Lewt.-Generall Talmatch is to cume to us this day with 
fyfe regiments more. I belive wee are to march to-morrow towards Ostend to 
joine the Due of Linster, who is now landed ther with the English army. . . . 
It 's said wee are going to fortify a place called Dixmude near Newport, and it 's 
like that will end this campaigne. . . . My horses are cume from England, so I 
am weell eneugh mounted. . . . The king is still at Deynse betwixt the French 
and us." 3 

On the 26th August the earl again wrote as he was passing through 
Nieuport, en route for Fumes, and three days later from Furnes, where he 
was to join the Duke of Leinster. He says, we are " repairing the fortify - 
cations of this place, which has long been in possession of the French. 

1 Letter, dated July 25th, old style, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Letter, dated August 11th, old style, ibid. 3 Letter, ibid. 


The Due of Linster is lying within a legue of us with the English armee 
under his command, and is to join us this day. The French are in great 
consternation by our army being so near, and in so many bodys. But the 
season is so far advanced that ther's litle hops of doing so much as wer 
necisar to bumble them as they ought." 1 During the greater part of the 
following month the earl was at Dixmude, which the army fortified, but were 
much retarded in their operations by wet weather, and he took his turn of 
duty as governor of the camp. Writing on 1 1th September (old style) he 
says, " Brigadier Bamsay was gouerneur last week, and now I am this week, 
for it goes round. The command is honurable but troblesome. I have six 
regiments in garrison ; the rest of the army are camped without the ports." 2 

Letters from home having informed the earl that the health of his 
countess was seriously affected by his absence, and by her fears for his safety, 
he wrote her frequently on the subject. In one letter he writes : — 

" Dixmude, September 9. 

" My deaeest, — I can abstean no longer from chiding with yow, and I shall 
leve it to yowr selfe to judge if I have reason or not. Its wreat to me from all 
hands that yow are very negligent and careless of your health, and that yow are 
therby becunie or raither continous very weak. Sure I am your love to me ought 
to have ane other effect, and God knous it grives me that it should have such as 
it haith. I must tell you likeways to take care yow offend not God by so doing, 
for to be over anxious, and not submissive to what God trysteth us with, is no 
doubt sinfull, and may be a ready way to provoke him to make us meett with 
what afflictions wee are too distrustfully affraied off. For no doubt wee ought 
to depend on God for protection as weell as for salvation, and certenly ther is 
more reason to be thankfull to him on my account for former protection then to 
be distrustfull for the future. Its trew, if Gods ways wer as our ways, I and 
all concerned in me might be affraid of greater judgements to befall me then that 
of falling by, or in the hands of a French enemie. But he is mercyfull, and I 
hop will not deall with me according to my deservings, but according to the 
greatness of his mercy will deall accordingly with me both in time and in eternitty. 

You know me better then to think, my dearest heart, that its a matter of 

indifferency for me to be absent from yow (without anie compliment, my dear, I 

wer not worthy of yow if I wer so). I assure its heavier for me to bear then 

ever anie did or shall know. But no more of this melancholy subject. So I 

1 Letter in Melville Charter-chest. 2 Letter, ibid. 


shall now tell yow that befor this cume to your hand I hop to beginc my jurnay. 
You will know by the publick newes when the king goes. Wee hear that he is 
to leve the great army this day, and to goe for Holand. I have sume thoughts 
to goe wait on the Elector of Brandenburg, who is at Cleve. This will take a 
week to goe and cume back to Holand. But if he cume to see the king, as its 
said he will, that will save my jurnay. Yow wold direct all your letters to 
me to Mr. Nairn or to be left with Mr. Andrew Russell, marchand in Rotterdam, 
but to Mr. Nairn will be best, I think. I am, my dearest, yours, if yow have a 
good care of yourself. Make my compliment to my lady, my sister and brother. 
The last I had from yow was of 20 Agust." 

In another letter from the same place, dated 1 8th September, he hopes to 
begin his journey home the following week, and again chides the countess 
for her fears : — 

" I wonder why yow wer so allarmed at my telling yow wee wer in the French 
Flanders, for I have always told yow that they dare not fight us. If they did I 
assure yow ther wold soon be ane end of the war. ... If the weather had not 
been very rainie wee had been readie to leve this in two thre days. The king, 
I hear, is gone from the great army yeasterday for Holland, wher he will stay ten 
days. I hop to wait on him to England." 1 

The earl left Dixmude on the 23d September with a part of the army 
under Major-General Sir Henry Bellasis for shipment at Ostend, but their 
progress was stayed at Nieuport by rain and storms for a week or so. There 
was further delay at Ostend both by the time necessary for embarking the 
" great guns," and waiting for the fleet which was to convoy them home. On 
1 9th October the earl writes : — " I hop to be under saill for England by 
twelfe a cloack this day. All things are makeing ready, and wee have a faire 
wind, so I hop to be soon in England." Before the end of October he was in 
London, and in one of his letters to the countess he says : — " I have brought 
six pritty little coach horses from Flanders to yow for the black horse I took 
from yow. I have sent him to the Elector of Brandenburg." 2 In the same 

1 Letter in Melville Charter-chest, horses he had sent had arrived. He adds — 

" They are of a greatness and size such as we 

2 The gift was acknowledged by M. desire, and there is no doubt they will please 
Schwerin, the Master of the Horse, who in- his serene highness." [French letter, 27th 
timated that both the black and the bay September 1692, ibid.] 


letter he explains why he should have to stay in London for a short time. 
" I am put in hops to gett sume of my arrears very shortly, which I need much, 
for Flanders has cost me very dear." But on 29th November he writes : — 

" I hop to be as good as my word in my last, for I hop to begine my jurnay 
this day. I took leve of the king and queen yeasterday. ... I have no newes. 
I told yow formerly that Mr. Stewart was made kings advacatt. He was 
knighted this day. I hop to see yow the 10th except the ways be bad. Yow 
may be sure I will make no stay at Edinburg." T 

The earl left his regiment in Flanders to take part in the campaign of 
the succeeding years, but did not return to take his place at the head of it. 
This was matter of regret to his friends connected with the re°iment. 
Before he joined it in Flanders in 1692, Sir David Nairne, 2 the agent of the 
family in London, and who also looked after the financial affairs of the regi- 
ment, wrote to him : — " I wish it were with your lordship's conveniencey to be 
in Flanders. Livtenant Collonell Arnott writs that you have many enimies 
there. I doubt not but your presence wold make many disappear." 3 Six 
months later, after the earl had been to Flanders and returned, Sir David, 
referring to the lieutenant-colonel, in whose charge the earl had left his 
regiment, writes : — " They say he is a brave man ; yet I wish with all my 
heart your lordship were well quit of him." * It was reported that this officer 
absented himself from the regiment when it took part in the action at 
Naniur ; and as some of the other officers did likewise, and the regiment 
behaved ill in consequence, much of the blame was laid on the earl. The 
king, indeed, was totally averse to colonels being absent from their regiments 
when on active service, and he threatened to supersede all such as continued 
to absent themselves. On being informed of this the earl wrote the following 
letter, evidently to the Earl of Portland : — 

1 Letter in Melville Charter-chest. the Earl of Leven abroad, and on their return 
- Sir David Nairne was originally a page with the Prince of Orange, was, by Lord Mel- 
in the service of Anna, Duchess of Buccleuch ville's influence, appointed secretary to the 
and Monmouth, and was sent by her to warn Thistle, and to other offices, afterwards be- 
Lord Melville, or rather to assist him in coming apparently an under-secretary of state, 
making his escape from arrest when in Lon- 3 Letter, 4th June 1(392. in Melville Charter- 
don. Being himself in jeopardy on this chest, 
account, he accompanied Lord Melville and 4 Letter, 24th January 1693, ibid. 


"Edinburgh Castle, September 5. 
" My Lord, — Being informed that its judged to be prujuditiall to his 
Majesty's service that any regiment should be without a colonell at ther head, 
and I being necisarly obleidged to atend here, both in obeidiance to his Majestys 
commands and the circumstances of this castle does require, therfor I humbly 
intreat of your lordship that you would acquent his Majestye that he would be 
pleased to dispose of that regiment which I have the honour to command. I 
most also intreat of your lordship that you will take this regiment unto your 
speciall protection, and in particular I humbly recommend the Major therof to 
your lordships favour, for its he who has been most asisting to me in every 
thing which conserned the good of the regiment. And this I dare say for him 
that your lordship shall never repent of any favour you shall be pleased to put on 
him. Pardon this trouble amongst many others which I have given your lord- 
ship, and be pleased to continue your favour to — My Lord, your Lordships most 
humble and most obedient servant." 1 

Probably the major here referred to is Eobert Maekay, whom the Earl 
of Leven assisted on the field of Killiecrankie. A few days later, on hearing- 
it rumoured that the earl intended to resign, Maekay applied to him for 
his recommendation of him to the post, not knowing it had already been 
given. In his letter he tells of the conduct of the regiment in the 
engagement, and how the lieutenant-colonel was at Louvaiu, where "he 
could not but hear our canon, . . . and might have bein with the regiment 
befor it fired a shott." 2 Arnot himself, however, wrote the earl on the 
subject of the engagement, and from information he obtained at court was 
able to give Lord Portland's opinion that the king would not take the 
regiment from the earl without speaking first with himself (Leven) on the 
subject. 3 But Arnot was superseded as lieutenant-colonel in the earl's 
regiment at this time, by Major Keith, of whom Sir David Nairne writes : 
" I have known him intimately for many years. He is nicely honest, but 
somewhat peevish, or to give it a Scots name, he is cankerd." i The earl 
soon after this did lose the command of his regiment, as this was one 
ground of complaint in 1695 by him and his father of their treatment by 

1 Unsigned and unaddressed draft in Mel- 3 Letter, 3d September 1693, in Melville 
ville Charter-chest. Charter-chest. 

2 Letter, 10th September 1693, ibid. 4 Letter, 31st October 1693, ibid. 


the court ; but it is possible that this was merely owing to the king's known 
opposition to absentee colonels being put in force against Lord Leven, as 
it had been in other cases. 

Still, about the time indicated efforts were made to influence the king 
against the earl and other, members of his family, which partially suc- 
ceeded ; so that the promotion which he might naturally have expected 
was withheld, and younger men preferred. Thus Sir Thomas Living- 
stone, though he had no interest in Scotland save that of birth, and 
was a younger colonel, was made commander-in-chief. Then also a 
deputy -governor was thrust upon Lord Leven in the castle without his 
knowledge or consent, and the salary attached to the office was given to 
this man, whom Leven could not trust, because he had formerly deserted the 
king's service when the pay failed, and many of his relatives were Jacobites. 
Besides, the appointment, but for the firmness displayed by the earl, would 
have injured the garrison, which to a certain extent it did, for the earl, 
being wont to employ his salary for the benefit of the garrison, was now 
unable to do so, and he only retained the post, though at much personal 
expense, because he believed it for the king's interest that he should. 

Misunderstanding also arose between the commander-in-chief and the 
earl in respect to the appointment of the master-gunner in the castle. It 
was an old but undecided question, which of these officers had the right to 
appoint. The office being or becoming vacant in the earl's time, he talked 
over the matter with Livingstone, who, as general of the ordnance, claimed the 
patronage. Leven, being directly responsible to the king for his charge, felt 
he could not be answerable for those in the castle if appointed by others than 
himself, yet he agreed to yield if Livingstone could prove his right, and it was 
arranged that Livingstone should look out a suitable man, who would after- 
wards be commissioned by the one whose right was established. Notwith- 
standing this agreement Livingstone gave his commission to an old man, 
named Lockhart, above seventy years of age, whom the earl refused to 
receive, and the matter was referred to the decision of the king. He decided 
against the earl, stating that " the master of the ordnance had the right of 
appointing the canoneers in all the castles without exception." x 

1 Letter, Earl of Portland to Earl of Leven, 26th February [no year], in Melville Charter-chest. 


Much of this opposition was designed, it is said, that the earl might 
lose the governorship of the castle, which the Jacobite plotters intended 
for Annandale. 1 That this was so far true is shown from a statement in a 
report made by Sir James Montgomerie to King James the Seventh. " If," 
he says, " Leven could be gott removed from the castle of Edinburgh, and 
the same putt in any other man's hand that may pretend to it, there might 
be hopes of gaineing it, which would make your busines easie. There hath 
been endeavours used at a distance to sound his inclinations, but all to no 
purpose." 2 This from a political opponent is flattering testimony to the earl's 
genuine loyalty to King William's interest, from which, indeed, neither he 
nor any of his family would allow themselves to be drawn by any allure- 
ments whatever. 

As governor of the castle of Edinburgh it was the earl's duty to receive 
and provide for the safe custody of such prisoners as were committed to his 
fortress. These were chiefly noblemen and gentlemen who had either taken 
part with or were suspected of favouring the Jacobite plotters. One of these, 
already mentioned, was the Earl of Seaforth, another the Earl of Home ; 3 
while a third was the Earl of Breadalbane, who was incarcerated to appease 
the public outcry on account of the massacre of Glencoe. But some mem- 
bers of parliament, among whom was Lord Leven, thought that Breadalbane 
should not be made a prisoner, and he was not long detained in the castle. 4 
Among others in the charge of the earl in 1696 were the Earl of Strathmore, 
Lord Drumcairn, Sir William Bruce of Kinross, and Sir William Sharp. 5 

The earl and his family sometimes resided in the castle, one occasion of 
the countess coming to it being chronicled at the commencement of a house- 
hold book, beginning at that date, 22 July 1697. But they had also a house 
or apartments in Edinburgh, these being located in the Canongate in 1 692 
and later in the Castlehill, adjacent to the castle. At one time, probably in 
1696, the earl discovered a plot to betray the castle. In a letter to the 
countess, dated Edinburgh, April 30th, he writes : — 

1 Vindication in Melville Charter-chest. 4 The Marchmont Papers, vol. iii. p. 415. 

„ „ , . , „„, Vol. ii. of this work, p. 54. 

2 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 230. . _• , ,. ' l ., . ..,.,,, 

■' Orders respecting their custody m Mel- 

s Ibid. pp. 224, 225, 233. ville Charter-chest. 


"My dearest HEART, — I came safe hear yeasterday at 12 aclock, and the 
most opertunily in the world, for the counsill was sitting, and were takeing sume 
resulutions concerning the castle. Ther is no express nor post cume since what 
yow heard of, and its generaly said by all persons that if anie invasion be it 
will be in England and not here. However, folk have been alarmed here by a 
rumore as if the castle should have been betrayed, and that by sume within it, 
particularly Lewtenant Crighton. But since I came I have putt him under 
arreast, and has turned all the ladys and women out of the castle, and does not 
allow of anie person to enter the castle untill they have my spetiall allowance. 
My aiming has putt the toun in good heart, for I lay here last night. My 
dearest, I must beg yow not to [be] frighted, for a dare say that thers no fear. I 
will be obleidged to stay here till Tewsdays post cume, because the Theasmy 
sitts ane Munday, and ther I must attend to gett provisions for the castle, and I 
hop by Tewsdays post wee shall know what all will turn too. . . ." 1 

Several letters to the countess in December 1695 show that the earl at 
that date paid a visit to London in connection with his official duties. He 
had an audience with the king, and spent some time agreeably with his wife's 
mother and the Wemyss family, also meeting there the Duchess of Buccleuch 
and Monmouth. 2 

The earl was a close attender of the Scottish parliament in all its sessions 
during this period, and on account both of his high official position and 
known loyalty, was always a member of the committee for the security 
of the kingdom. Other committees on which he served were the commis- 
sion appointed in 1693 for the conversion of the poll-tax into a collec- 
tion, and that for reporting on controverted elections in 1696. 3 In the 
latter year he signed an address presented to the king by the parliament, 
in which the signatories congratulated him on the failure of the Popish plot 
to assassinate his Majesty and invade the kingdom, anew declared their 
allegiance to him, and avowed their determination to avenge his death should 
he fall in such wise by the hands of his enemies. 4 

The Earl of Leven seems to have opposed the popular clamour and sided 
with the measures proposed by the king on the Darien colonisation scheme, 

1 Letter in Melville Charter-chest. 3 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 

2 Letters, ibid. ; also vol. ii. of this work, vol. ix. pp. 351, 453, App. p. 72; x. 9, 123, 
pp. 173, 240. Memoirs of the Family of 193, 207 ; xi. 14. 

Wemyss of Wemyss, vol. iii. p. 132. 4 Ibid. vol. x. p. 10. 

VOL. I. 2 M 


which so much excited both the parliament and country at this time. He 
is generally named as voting against the extreme measures proposed from 
time to time on this business. 1 And, no doubt, his action was based on 
sound financial and political economy, as well as upon a desire to defeat the 
objects of partisans who sought to make the agitation a stepping-stone to 
another revolution ; for to such considerations he was not indifferent, being 
at or about this time a shareholder and one of the governors of the Bank of 
Scotland, then just established, and he continued to direct the affairs of the 
bank all his life. 

"While the Scottish parliament lasted, the earl generally tabled his pro- 
test at the commencement of the several sessions against the precedency 
given to the title of the Earl of Callendar over his own. From a paper on 
the subject, written for the earl's information, it would appear that he 
then contemplated the further testing of the question. But nothing more 
was done. 2 Of one debate in parliament, evidently the question whether 
Lord Montgomerie was to be employed as lord high treasurer for voting in 
parliament, which came before the house on Tuesday, 29th October 1700, 
the earl wrote to his wife somewhat triumphantly, on account of the part he 
himself acted in it. His letter is only dated " Wednesday." He says : — 

"... Wee had a long battle yeasterday, but no victory in either side, ther 
being no votte, but wee offered it to them, and they yealded the point in debate 
raither as ventour the votte. I had the good fortoun to dryve the naill in the 
debate to the head, so that none pretended to make a reply. And yett wee did 
not improve the advantage as wee ought. This will make yow vaine, and yow 
may think me so in telling it. But I know yow will be glad to hear that I do 
act as good a part as anie other. I was much thanked by the commissioner, 3 and 
other very good judges. . . ." 

He then refers to the controverted election for the county of Wigtown, 
between Lord Basil Hamilton (brother of the duke) and William Stewart of 
Castlemilk, which was to be considered on the morrow, and in which he 
anticipated their side would also win. 4 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. x. 3 The Duke of Queensberry. 
j). 247; Marchmont Papers, vol. iii. p. 182. 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. ix. 4 Letter in Melville Charter-chest; cf. 
p. 350; x. pp. 6, 116, 186; xi. pp. 6, 32, 303. Hume of Crossrig's Diary, pp. 6-8. 


In October of this year the earl had an illness, accompanied with a swim- 
ming in his head and other symptoms of bodily derangement. But towards 
the end of that month he was recovering. Soon afterwards, however, he 
suffered a severe bereavement by the death of his much-loved countess, 
which took place somewhat suddenly in the castle of Edinburgh on 9th 
January 1702. Her loss was much lamented, both by the earl and her 
acquaintances. It was made the subject of some verses which were printed 
at the time. They characterise her as 

" A lady good and just, while living, dy'd, 
While dying, lived, to heaven's now convey 'd. 

The maiden Mount outvies the Roman seven, 

Gave a wise king to earth, and a great saint to heaven, 

Great Britain's James, and Anna Weems of Levin. 

The oppressed's patron, and the orphan's stay, 
She did her charity to all display. 
No interest, passion, or blind prejudice 
Could on the reins of her bright judgement seize. 
Calm and serene her mind, from passion free, 
Like just Astraa judged with equity. 
Her husband's glory, and her sex's pride, 
Who lov'd, admir'd, and all submission paid." 1 

The death of the countess had been preceded a few years by the death of 
the earl's elder brother, Alexander, Lord Baith, and it was followed within 
two months by the death of King William. To the earl, who had been 
among the first and the firmest of his adherents, this was also a sad stroke. 
Besides the intelligence of the council, a friendly letter from the secretary of 
state, the Earl of Seafield, conveyed the news in sympathetic form, and the 
Electress Sophia likewise condoled with the earl on the loss to the nation 
and themselves. 2 She prided herself on being a Scot by extraction, and took 
a warm interest in whatever related to the welfare of the country. The earl 

1 Scottish Elegiac Verses, 1629-1729, pp. 136-140. 

2 Vol. iii. of this work, pp. 56, 182. 


took an active part in promoting the succession of Queen Anne, and his con- 
duct was commended by the electress, who quite approved of the policy of 
the constitutional party. His services were also acknowledged by the 
government. Lord Seafield writes : " Your lordship's friends here are most 
sensible that your lordship has acted very vigorously and faithfully in the 
present juncture." 1 

He was also one of the few Scottish statesmen who supported the 
English proposal for the limitation of the succession after the failure of the 
children of Queen Anne, to the children of the Electress Sophia. The 
majority of the Scottish parliament, however, led by Andrew Fletcher of 
Salton, carried another act of security, though the commissioner, Queen sberry, 
refused to give it the royal assent. 2 At the conclusion of the parliament the 
commissioner went to court to acquaint the queen with the progress of events 
in Scotland, and reported very favourably to her Majesty the part the Earl 
of Leven had acted. A letter by Sir David Nairne, dated 16th October 1703, 
and indorsed by the earl — " Ordoring me to come up to London by hir 
Majesty's ordors," states : — 

" His Grace, my lord commissioner came hither on Munday last, and on 
Tewsday went to Windsor, and returned at night, none being with him but 
myselfe. Yeasterday he went again, and this day had a good opportunity of 
speaking pritty fully to the queen, yet not soe much as goe to all circumstances 
of her affairs in the time he had. He did most fathfully give accountt of your 
lordship's services in soe much that her Majestie is very much convinced thereby 
both of your honor, honesty, and capacity, and did desire his grace wold write 
for your lordship to come up hither with as much convenient expedition as you 
can make. After his grace's long jurny, and soe much fatigue since, with 
some concerne for his sons being indisposed, he is not able to write by this post, 
and beggs your lordship will for these reasons excuse him. He hopes your lord- 
ship on recept of this will prepaire for Edinburgh (towards your jurny), where 
there will be a letter from his grace to your lordship, signyfying her Majestie's 
pleasure, which your lordship may depend upon is what I herebye tell your lord- 
ship. I need not tell your lordship with what satisfaction I heard his Grace 
represent you, both as to your services to the queen and your affectionat way of 

1 Vol. iii. of this work, p. 182. 

2 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. xi. pp. 70, 73. 


performing them with respect to his grace, and I assure your lordship he is most 
sensible of them, and declairs soe on all occasions. . . ." 

The writer in concluding the letter expresses his great desire for a con- 
tinuance of the warm friendship between the earl and the commissioner, 
who was likely to be able to serve him, for, he says, the queen received him 
" with all the kindness he could wish, and tho' noe others but myselfe doe yet 
know it, I must tell your lordship that she has declaired to him this day that 
she will containow with him the trust she has hitherto reposed in him, and 
that it shall not be in the power of any to alter her in this respect." 

At first, to all appearance, the queen did not really know who were 
her best friends in Scotland, and offices were conferred on some whom the 
queen soon saw reason to discard again. At the close of 1702 the Earl of 
Leven was deprived of the command of the castle of Edinburgh, which was 
given, by commission dated 31st December that year, to William, Earl of 
March, the second son of the first Duke of Queensberry. This loss was 
somewhat compensated by the earl's appointment, under the queen's com- 
mission dated 1st January 1703, as major-general of all the forces in 
Scotland. 1 This was prior to the meeting of parliament, and the subsequent 
recommendation of the Earl of Leven to the queen's favour above referred 
to. Queensberry's account of affairs appears to have led to a resolution to 
redistribute the Scottish offices, and the earl was not forgotten. Sir David 
jSTairne, in a long letter dated 25th December, without year, but probably 
written in 1703, and for obvious reasons unsigned, but indorsed with the 
writer's name by the earl, gives an account of the meeting of the Scottish 
statesmen at which these matters were discussed. The letter, however, 
is limited to that portion of it which relates to Leven. It is of some value 
as showing the inner working of state affairs at the time : — 

" Two or three dayes agoe I was present at a very deliberat reasoning on all 
affairs with the D. of A., 2 the Ch., 3 and two secretaries. There was scarse any 
thing wee did not goe through. Amongst others what concerned the E. of L. 4 
And first, as to his gift of wards, it was said that noething made a greater noise 
in King James' times then the like to the Earl of Pearth ; that it in a manner 

1 Commission in Melville Charter-chest. 3 The chancellor, Earl of Seafield. 

2 John, second Duke of Argyll. 4 Earl of Leven. 


subjected all the subjects in the kingdom by turns to that earle ; that it put the 
queen out of a power to oblidge people, as parliament] men, etc., when there 
are not places enngh to give to evrie body, and the granting of the releiff and 
wards was very often great obligations. Soe that I found, unless the earle con- 
descends to the restriction which was proposed to him by the Earle of Loudoun, 
the gift will be opposed. I said that the gift was not granted to that earle on a 
gratuitous complyment, but for ane onerous cause, viz., a debt due, and that it was 
to containow noe longer then the debt was payd. This did much startle the 
Duke of Argyll, who knew it not befor, and very ffrankly he said it much altered 
the cace ; and tho' he thought the gift should not pass without the restrictions, 
yet it ought to be in such manner contrived as to secure the debt. I said that I 
did not think the earle had any vew by it, but to be payd what was due to him- 
selfe and father, and that if they wold propose any funde to secure the debt, I 
belived he wold not be tenacious for that gift. They all thought the proposall 
reasonable, and resolved to let the gift ley by till further consideration and 
advisement with the earle himselfe. 

" Next came to the point of commander in cheiff. They all agreed that he 
shoud have it, but it seems the stop he put to the adjutant's commission maks 
them think he intends a power of nameing all the officers in the armie as they 
fall, which its thought he shoud not have — that Ramsay had it once — but King 
William seeing the inconveniency of it, did recall it. Beside they thought evrie 
collonell of a regiment ought to have the recommendation of there officers. I 
said that he was answerable for the armie, and therfor ought to have the appro- 
bation of officers ; but that as to the puting in or out into particular regiments, I 
did not beleive he wold by any absolute power, but upon consertion with the 
collonells, unless on some particular occasions when good reasons might be given 
for it. Then wee came to the guards, and positively the Duke of Argyll said he 
had warrants to ley doun his uncle's commission, if he had them not. Soe there 
was noe argueing on that point. I said I beleived the earle wold be as w r ell 
pleased to keep the castle. That was thought inconvenient too. Yet I found 
that will be rather agreed to. 

" Then it was started who shoud have the ordinance. It was proposed to me. 
I said I never had the lest notion that the earle was to lose it, and that if he did 
I thought he had noe reason to thank any bodj r for the other. It was said it was 
too many places in one. I instanced others that had the like, particularly Duglass 
and Sir Thomas Livingston. However, that was let fall. However, I think the earl 
shoud be advised to w r rite to the Duke of Marlborough and my lord treasurer on 
this subject. I have done my pairt here with his other friends of this kingdom. 


"Next came in a point of a commission for commissary of the af tilery. 
This the Duke of Argyll proposed, indeed, when he came first up, but I spoak to 
the secretaries about it. Soe it was delayd and I heard noe more of it till then. 
The duke asked the secretary about it as if it had been done. They said they 
had not got it from me. Then fury rose. I notwithstanding told them that I 
thought it ought not to be done without the Earle of Leven's consent. Then I 
was plainly told that I had a mind to make that earl sole governour of the king- 
dom both in civill and military affairs, viz., by the gift of wards and the power 
of commander in cheiff. I answered very submissively that I thought it my 
duty to tell the inconveniencys of things proposed, but after that, I was to obey 
commands and draw what papers I was ordered. The duke roard, and said that 
it was in his power to prevent anything the earle pretended to, and that seing he 
has not done it even when his own uncle had soe good pretentions, he thought he 
might have such a small commission for askeing when he could get it himselfe if 
he wold aske the queen. I told his grace that I did not doubt but the earle wold 
be ready to gratyfye him in any thing in his power, and that what letters I had 
got from his lordship seemed to ley a dependence on his graces favour in caice 
he should meet with opposition from others, and that what I had now objected 
to that commission was only what occured to myselfe and consonant even to 
what he had just said befor, viz., that collonells shoud have the recommending of 
there own officers, and that this was more immediatly under himselfe as 
generall of the ordinance and not as commander in cheiff. After much talkeing 
he became calmer and took me aside, and desired me to write to the earle about 
it by way of complyment, that he wold take it kindly if it was done. Now, my 
poor oppinion is that the earle shoud grant it by way of comptyment, for I know 
it will be done, and if the earle maks the complyment the duke swears he will 
not oppose his pretention to the commandership, and if otherways he will, and 
he is pritty positive, and I beleive has soe much interest by that way as to have 
anything done what he pleases. I know there are many things in this long 
letter may be usefull to the earle, and when ever I finde any thing that is soe I 
think I ought [to] finde some way to let him know it, and this is one. I beg you 
will give him great caution not to let any use he maks of it be as that it may 
be knowen the information came this way, for I finde I am suspected by some to 
be too much his servant, but that I think I can not be. 

"25 December. 

"Pray let me know some merchant in toune there that I may send letters 
under his covert, and let me know of your receaveing this." 1 

1 Original in Melville Charter-chest. 


The gift of wards referred to in this letter was duly bestowed upon the earl 
by Queen Anne on 20th May 1704, with the limitations agreed upon, so far 
at least. The signature states that her Majesty, considering the small advan- 
tage she had by the casualties belonging to her of the lands held by her as 
queen or prince and steward of Scotland, whether ward simple, or taxed, or 
feu, with the marriage, or by non-entry of vassals, holding their lands ward or 
blench, and also " considering the faithfull services done and performed by her 
Majesties right trusty and welbeloved cousin and counsellor David, Earle of 
Leven, and her right trusty and welbeloved cousin, George, Earle of Melvill, 
his father, to her Majestie and her royall brother, King William, of blessed 
memory, and that there is considerable arrears due to them of their pensions 
and sallerys for their services in the offices they were employed in by us and 
our said royall brother," ordains, with consent of her commissioners of 
treasury and exchequer, a letter of gift of these wards which had fallen in 
the hands of the crown since the 23d April 1689, and which should hereafter 
become due (excepting such as had been paid) until the sum of thou- 

sand pounds sterling, free of all charges and expenses, should have been paid 
up, when the gift should, ipso facto, become void. In order to a proper 
accounting it was provided that all sums should be paid in exchequer. It is 
not clearly ascertainable whether this gift ever became really operative, but 
the signature is indorsed " ]SToA r ember tenth 1704, presented in tresurie. 
(Signd.) Loudoun." 1 

A few months previously the queen had also conferred on the earl a lease of 
the assize herrings on the east seas between Berwick and Ferryport-on- Craig 
for nineteen years, from the date of the expiry of a former lease granted by 
King William the Third to the earl's lately deceased uncle, Mr. James Mel- 
ville of Cassingray and his heirs. The earl was the heir of his uncle ; but 
accounts show that for each of the years 1705 and 1706 the value of the 
gift was only £2 sterling. 2 

While referring to grants to the earl in recognition of his services, etc., 
it may be noted that there exists in the Melville charter-chest also an old 
copy letter, unsigned and undated, which bears that a grant had the same 

1 Original signature in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Original lease, dated 29th January 1703, ibid. 


day beeu made to the earl, probably by King William, of the right " to sett 
tacks of the haill teynds within the bishoprick and pryorie of St. Andrews 
that are now fallen or that shall hapen to fall within the space of seven 
years efter the date of thir presents through the expyreing of the former 
tacks." These had fallen in the hands of the crown by the suppression of 
episcopacy in Scotland. The letter directs that the signature, as soon as 
presented, should pass the great seal per saltum. 1 

From letters written by the Duke of Queensberry to Lord Leven it appears 
that he had obeyed her Majesty's summons to come to London. So satisfied 
was the queen with him that she declared her resolution of being guided by 
his advice, in conjunction with one or two others, with regard to Scottish 
affairs. This was communicated to the earl by the Duke of Argyll, with whom 
matters appear to have been satisfactorily arranged, probably on the footing 
suggested by Sir David Nairne. 2 It was considered necessary that Leven 
should return to Scotland to keep the party there together, in view of the 
approaching meeting of parliament ; and some interesting letters bearing on 
the political situation passed between the earl and Queensberry and other 
noblemen. The meeting of parliament was a stormy one, and its pro- 
ceedings formed the subject of some correspondence between the earl and 
prominent English statesmen, among whom was Sidney, Lord Godolphin, 
lord treasurer of England, who assured the earl of the queen's constant 
regard for him. 3 

Besides the political situation the earl was personally interested in this 
parliament in connection first with a petition presented on behalf of the 
Duchess of Buccleuch about her estate affairs, in which he had acted as one of 
her commissioners ; and secondly, the auditing of the public accounts. He 
was involved in the latter by being cautioner for his uncle, the laird of Cas- 
singray, collector of the hearth-money, and parliamentary inquisition was now 
being made into the returns. Apparently in connection with this fund the 
earl had applied for a royal remission, which, however, the queen was too 
prudent to grant, though she promised to interpose her authority in case of 
need. 4 The matter accordingly came before parliament, and, as his uncle was 

1 Copy in Melville Charter-chest. 3 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 1S6, 187. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 184. i Ibid, p. 185. 

VOL. I. 2 N 


dead, the earl was dealt with as the responsible party, but in a spirit of 
fairness. 1 

After the parliament was over the queen restored the keeping of the 
castle of Edinburgh to the Earl of Leven by a new commission, dated 17th 
October 1704. The tenure of the office was, as formerly, during her Majesty's 
pleasure. 2 A question afterwards arose between him and the Earl of March 
as to who was entitled to the castle revenues for that year, and the court of 
session decided that each should receive the just and equal half. 3 The earl 
was congratulated on his restoration by the Princess Sophia, who also expressed 
her high appreciation of his devotion to her service, and in this her son, 
George, Elector of Brunswick, afterwards King George the First of Great 
Britain, joined her. 4 Lord Godolphin and the Earl of Seafield also wrote to 
the earl ; the former in his letter refers to another appointment for which 
the earl had made application through the Duke of Marlborough, that of 
master of the ordnance. This, however, the queen delayed until Marl- 
borough's return ; " She thought it was better to stick to what your lordship 
had desired, and she had promised." 5 

The delay was not long, as by her Majesty's commission, dated 7th April 
1705, the earl was duly constituted master of the ordnance in Scotland, and of 
the same date he received letters, giving him an annual pension of £1 50 sterling 
with that office, in addition to the usual salary of £150. 6 Soon afterwards, 
through the death of Lieut.-General Bamsay, the post of commander-in-chief of 
the Scottish forces became vacant, and as next in command the earl desired her 
Majesty to prefer him to the office. As both Lord Godolphin and the Duke of 
Marlborough interested themselves in his favour, the appointment virtually 
lying in the duke's power, and as the queen was entirely satisfied with the capa- 
cities and loyalty of the earl, the appointment was practically made, though 
it awaited the return of the duke from abroad. In January 1706, the duke 
wrote to the earl congratulating him on his promotion, and he received immedi- 
ately thereafter similar letters from other friends to the same purpose. 7 His 

1 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 4 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 58, 59. 
vol. xi. pp. 170, 171. 6 Ibid. p. 188. 

2 Original commission in Melville Charter- 6 Original commission and letters in Mel- 
chest, ville Charter-chest. 

3 Decreet, 28th June 1710, ibid. 7 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 189-194. 


commission was dated 2d March 1706, and provided that the office should be 
held without prejudice to his other positions. 1 

The earl had now attained to all the posts mapped out for him in Sir 
David Nairne's letter formerly referred to. Along with the custody of the 
metropolitan fortress he held the highest military authority in Scotland, 
co-ordinate with that of John, Duke of Marlborough, in England, with whom, 
indeed, the Earl of Leven had much official correspondence, which was always 
conducted in a strain of mutual friendship and esteem. 2 After the Union, 
however, there was a reconstruction of the military establishment, and the 
Scottish office, though not abolished, appears to have been in a manner sub- 
ordinated to Marlborough's commission. It was found necessary, at least, that 
the duke " must be master of the ordinance for the whole islands ; " but Lord 
Loudoun, who intimates the decision to the earl, says it would be so done 
that he should be no loser thereby. 3 To the same effect Sir David Nairne 
wrote, "... I think now the establishment is very near ended, and 
the castle will be to your satisfaction, and you are set doun livtenant 
generall's pay. But I finde you can not containow to be master of the 
ordinance, as judgeing it inconsistant with the Duke of Marlborrow's com- 
mission. But the queen has promised the pay shall be made up to your 
lordship, but I believe of this the secretaire will write by the queen's 
commands. . . ." 4 The earl continued to hold the office, probably under 
the duke. 

When Lord Leven became commander-in-chief the appointments in the 
army were at the will of other officials than himself, such as the secre- 
taries of state and others. But the queen opposed this method, and 
declared it to be her desire that all appointments should be upon the 
earl's recommendation. Perhaps this result was indirectly brought about 
by Sir David Nairne, who in a long letter relates an interview with the 
queen at which she intimated this desire. When he went to her Majesty to 
get a number of commissions signed, " she asked me, whom you had recom- 
mended ? " On Nairne replying that he " was obliged to lay before her the 

1 Commission in Melville Charter-chest. 3 Original letter, 23d April 1708, in Mel- 

ville Charter-chest. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 183-230 passim. 4 Original letter, 22d April 1708, ibid. 


pretentious of severall others, she said she wold not minde any recommenda- 
tion but your lordship's, and seeing you was to answer for the manadgement 
of the armie she was resolved to hear noe others." Not having the commis- 
sions with him jSTairne took them next day, and was asked if he " had got the 
persons' names from your lordship who were to be filled up ?" whereupon he 
had to explain he had not, but that there were several to which Lord Leven 
agreed. Then he goes on to say : — 

"When I offered the commissions she took notice they were blank, and stopt. 
1 said that as to the captains' commissions I had letters from both secretaries 
desireing me to lay befor her majesty the severall pretentions of those who had 
wrote. She told me pritty quickly that she thought I had knowen her minde in 
these matters, and put me in minde that two years agoe I had told her that it 
wold be both for her ease and service to take the generall's advice in all things 
concerning the armies ; that she had told the secretaries for Scotland that she 
wold doe soe, and that tho the circumstances of affairs had not let her goe on in 
that manner hithertoo, yet now she wold bring evrie thing to the practise of 
England as soon and as near as she could, and that in all affairs of the armie the 
secretaries here did not medle in the lest. I told her majesty that perhaps some 
might have good pretentions, and if such did complain afterwards her majesty 
might justly say that she kuew not there pretentions. She told me the Earle of 
Leven was better judge for the justness of there pretentions then she ; that ther- 
for they should apply to him and not to the secretaries. I told her that the 
practise hitherto had been otherwayes, but I hope in time they wold be altered. 
She further said, and most justly, that she saw noe other effects ; that pretenders 
writing to the secretaries wold have but to turne all upon her, for they were 
acquitt by saying they had laid there clames befor her, and she wold not grant 
but to such as she pleasd. Which she plainly said she wold not allow off, and 
commanded me to write to both the secretaries, and tell them that if any letters 
come recommending auy body in the armie, they should not speak of it to her, 
but give them for answer to apply to your lordship. And then she said, the com- 
missions being blank, she did not know but other names might be put in then 
your lordship approved off. I told her that I knew my duty to her majesty soe 
well, and had too great honor for your lordship then disobey her commands, or 
doe anye thing to lessen the authority she had given you, and which I always 
thought was soe just for you to have ; and that in this cace, if her majesty 
pleased, I wold fill up the person your lordship recommended for the company, 
and the charge of my Lord Belcarras sons befor her. She was pleased to say she 


did not distrust me, but laughingly said she must take my promise not to let them 
goe out of my hand till they were tilled up, which I very readyly past, and soe 
she signd them, and I have write to the secretaries that I am not to part with 
them till I have your lordship's directions." 

Sir David Nairne then congratulates the earl on the increased authority 
this would give him, and claims some credit for it, while he expresses his 
belief that in its exercise the earl will so carry to the secretaries " as if they 
had the power they have had hithertoo." J Besides the interesting nature of 
this interview with the queen in reference to the earl's position and power, 
this letter gives an insight into the method in which Queen Anne conducted 
the business of state, and affords also a pleasing testimony of the confidence 
she reposed in the ability and integrity of the Earl of Leven. 

While the earl was resident in the castle, and about this time, an adven- 
ture befell him through the practical joking of some young topers. He was 
being carried up the High Street of Edinburgh in his sedan chair to the 
castle. It was ten o'clock at night, and a group of young men of good birth, 
some of them in the army, had just emerged from a house where they had 
been drinking. In their frolic they had commenced a dance in the street, at 
a somewhat shaded spot, when the Earl's chair, borne by two footmen, one of 
whom carried a lantern, approached. One of the dancers reeled against a 
bearer, who retorted with an oath, whereupon the dancers suggested to over- 
turn the chair in the mud. Beady for anything, they at once attacked the 
servants, smashed the lantern, and one of the footmen was wounded by a 
sword-thrust. Indignant remonstrances were made by the earl, and the 
rioters were seized by the bystanders. Their alarm was great when they 
learned whom they had insulted ; but the earl did not visit them with any 
severe punishment so as to incur the loss of military rank. They endured a 
month's imprisonment, and then, confessing publicly their regret upon their 
knees before the privy council, were restored to liberty. 

The negotiations for union between the kingdoms of Scotland and 
England were now being brought forward and commanding general attention. 
Lockhart says that about this time, 1705, the Earl of Leven was made joint- 

1 Original letter, dated 16th September 1707, in Melville Charter-chest. 


secretary of Scotland with the Marquis of Anuandale, 1 but nowhere is cor- 
roboration found of such an appointment. Lord Leven, however, took a very 
active part in forwarding the union, both as a commissioner and by his vote 
in parliament, while it occasioned him several visits to London. He went 
thither in March 1706 with his brother-in-law, the Earl of Wemyss, 2 who 
about this time was appointed lord high admiral of Scotland. A song was 
made about them on this occasion, which commences — 

" Let all our forraign enemies 
Attack us if they dare — a, 
Since Weems is Neptune of the seas 
And Leven the god of war — a." 3 

As one of the original commissioners on the Scottish side for the union 
appointed in October 1702, Lord Leven had formerly attended the meetings 
of the commissioners at London in January and February 1703. In 1706 he 
was re-appointed, and scarcely missed one of the numerous sittings which took 
place in London between the 16th April and 23d July, when the commissioners 
concluded their labours. 4 In a letter to the Earl of Melville, written on his 
return from London, and dated 6th May 1706, Sir Eobert Murray says: "I 
left the Earle of Leven in good health, zelous for the union. Some off our 
commissionars ar weel at court, some weel with the Whigs, bot I knou non 
so weel at court and the Whigs as my lord your son. I can assure your 
lordship that no Scotsman is more valued amongst the best of men there 
than the Earle of Leven." 5 

At the conclusion of their labours in London, the queen hastened the Scot- 
tish commissioners home to carry forward the work in the parliament there. 
Lord Leven frequently corresponded with prominent English statesmen on 
the subject, entering into the minute details of the treaty. In his military 
capacity also he had to act for the furtherance of the work, by quelling the 
tumults which arose in connection therewith. 6 

At the conclusion of the union the earl was elected one of the sixteen 

1 Memoirs concerning the Affairs of Scot- 4 Acts of the Parliaments of Scotland, 
land, vol. i. p. 112. vol. xi., Appendix, pp. 143-191. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 202. '■> Letter in Melville Charter-chest. 

3 Scottish Pasquils, vol. iii. p. 82. « Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 203-214. 


Scottish representative peers, who, by the treaty, were to represent the 
Scottish nobility in the union parliament at Westminster. 1 The castle at this 
time received into its custody the state regalia, the crown, the sceptre, the 
sword of state, and the treasurer's rod of office, and it was ordained that they 
were not again to leave it. It was their usual place of deposit, indeed, and the 
earl was their custodier, during his term as governor — for to him in 1705 the 
Duke of Queensberry had to make application for the sword of state, when 
instructed to act for her Majesty in conferring the order of the Thistle on 
the first Marquis of Lothian. 2 But it does not appear that the earl was 
present at the last consignment of the regalia to their resting-place in the 
crown-room of the castle. 

About this time, also, the Duke of Queensberry, as commissioner, and the 
lords of the privy council appointed the Earl of Leven principal steward of 
the stewartry and lordship of Strathearn and Balquhidder, and bailie of the 
regality of Drummond, an office which was held to be vacant through the 
failure of James, Lord Drummond, who had the office by hereditary right, to 
take the oath of allegiance to the queen, and sign the assurance. The earl's 
tenure was to exist only during the pleasure of the council, or until Lord 
Drummond or his successors qualified themselves. It was a condition of the 
grant that the earl before entering upon the exercise of the office should take 
the oath and give the assurance required. 3 On the death of his father, on 
20th May 1707, the Earl of Leven succeeded to the family estates of Mel- 
ville, Kaith, and others, and became second Earl of Melville, though he did 
not assume the title. 

The attempted invasion of Scotland by a French army in the interests of 
the Pretender, in concert with a projected rising of the Jacobites in the 
country, gave rise to much excitement during the early months of the year 
1708. When the news reached London that the French fleet had left Dun- 
kirk, Lord Leven, who was at court at the time, returned rapidly to Scotland 
to take defensive measures and prevent a landing. A British fleet under the 
command of Admiral Sir George Byng started in pursuit, and constant com- 

1 Acta of the Parliaments of Scotland, vol. xi. p. 431. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 191. 

3 Commission, dated 24th February 1707, in Melville Charter-chest. 


munication as to the enemy's movements was maintained between the 
admiral and the English commander-in-chief, while Lord Leven also re- 
ceived intelligence from the authorities along the east coast. The Firth of 
Forth was known to be intended as the point of attack, and the appearance 
of a large fleet in the Forth gave rise to the belief that the French had come. 
The troops under Leven's personal command were drawn up on the shore of 
Leith to resist a landing, but the vessels proved to be the British ships, the 
French having missed the Firth, and sailed further north. 

Another feature of the plan of the invasion on this occasion was the 
seizure of the castle of Edinburgh. It was known to have been depleted of 
stores and ordnance, and that there was hardly ammunition enough to serve 
a few rounds of the guns. Besides, it now contained the " equivalent " — 
upwards of £20,000 — and the crown jewels with which it was intended the 
Pretender should be crowned in St. Giles' church. Happily, however, the 
landing of the French did not take place. The coast was too well guarded 
for the attempt to be made, and they were obliged to return to France with- 
out effecting anything, and with some loss. 

Lockhart of Carnwath in referring to the episode says that the Earl of 
Leven in one of his letters to the secretaries of state remarked that in expec- 
tation of the expedition, " the Jacobites were so uppish he durst hardly look 
them in the face as they walked in the streets of Edinburgh." a This was 
soon altered, as numerous arrests among the noblemen and gentlemen of 
Jacobite proclivities were ordered to be made, and these were effected by 
the earl. Not a few of the more prominent were confined under Lord 
Leven's own eye in the castle of Edinburgh, while others were consigned to 
the remaining fortresses of the kingdom, until orders came for their removal 
to London for trial. If they were " uppish " before, they were now content to 
be humble supplicants to the earl. He received numerous letters from those 
implicated entreating his friendship and consideration in regard to their 
imprisonment and treatment. 2 Even Lockhart, who has seldom anything 
nattering to say of the earl, admits that these were cheerfully accorded, for 
he says : " He was no ways severe, but rather very civil to all the cavaliers, 
especially such as were prisoners in the castle of Edinburgh, when he was 
1 Memoirs, ed. 1714, p. 374. 2 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 61-67, 214-227. 


governour, from whence he gained more of their favour than any man in the 
government." x When the danger and the excitement were over the queen 
wrote a special letter of thanks to the earl for his good services in the con- 
tingency, and desired him to come up to London that by his attendance at 
Westminster he might continue to forward her interests. 2 It may be noted 
that on his arrival in Edinburgh in April 1708, for the purpose of taking 
defensive measures against the French, the Earl of Leven qualified himself by 
taking the oath of abjuration for acting under her Majesty in his various 
military offices in Scotland. 3 

Before leaving for London the Earl of Leven entered into a contract for 
the execution of certain works on the fortifications of the castle; but he 
found some months later on his return that the new works went " but slowly 
on," as the money was not forthcoming, and without it the masons naturally 
declined to give their services. The earl, in a letter to the Duke of Queens- 
berry, regretted this niggardliness on the part of the government. 4 About 
the same time also he prepared an inventory of the ordnance in the castle, 
giving the dimensions of each of the suns and of their carriages, and among 
others he mentions a " brass cannon, commonly called the Green Falcon," 
also a " brass falcon, commonly called Queen Marie's pocket pistoll," and the 
celebrated Mons Meg, of which it is stated : " This gun was not cast, but made 
of iron barrs and girds, commonly called Mons Megg, without a carriage, and 
disabled by a burst at the reinforce." The two latter, with a good many more, 
are set down as inefficient in one way or another. 5 

A new Jacobite scare occurred in each of the following years, 1709 and 
1710. In 1709, in consequence of information of a renewal of the attempt at 
invasion, the earl, who was at the time in London, hastened back to Edin- 
burgh with instructions to ascertain the " humours and disposition of the 
people, and what expectations they may have about any such design," using 
every caution not to alarm the public mind. Some gentlemen had lately 
gone from France to encourage the disaffected in Scotland, and " the word or 

1 Memoirs, ed. 1714, p. 100. draft letter, dated 16th April 1709, in Mel- 

2 Vol. ii. o£ this work, pp. 68, 248, 249. ville Charter-chest. 

3 Extract Act of Privy Council, 9th April 6 " List of the ordinance belonging to the 
170S, in Melville Charter-chest. garrison of the Castle of Edinburgh." 1708. 

1 Contract, dated 3d August 1708, and Ibid. 

VOL. I. 2 


expression amongst them is, 'He will come.'" 1 In reply the earl narrates 
the rumours of another intended invasion, and draws attention to the unpro- 
vided condition of the castles. The Pretender, he informs the duke, accord- 
ing to the intelligence he got, intended to come in person, and to land in the 
north of Scotland without an army, relying upon his friends here and in the 
north of England rising in his interest. The earl was on the track of four 
Jesuits who had come over, two Scotch and two French, viz. — " Durhame, a 
titulary bishop, Father Creichtoun, Monsieur Le Fray, and Monsieur La Bat," 
and he received a royal warrant to arrest the four Jesuits if he saw cause. 
He ascertained, too, that some of the Jacobites "drink a health tothe fouer and 
tuenty of May," which he thought would be the date of the expected arrival. 2 
In April of the following year the scare again arose. In a series of 
letters the earl informs the Duke of Queensberry that the Highland clans 
were expecting the Pretender in May. He was to be accompanied by 
troops from Ireland and Spain, and to land at Inverlochy. He was 
even then (April 28th) said by some to be lurking privately in the High- 
lands. The King of France, however, had desired two persons of note 
from Scotland to be sent to him to give some assurance of the reason- 
ableness of the proposed expedition, and Lord Drummond and the Captain of 
Clanranald were the persons who had been selected for that errand. This 
was so far authenticated by the fact of their being out of the country. A 
Highland hunt took place in May, which the Marquis of Huntly attended. 
Respecting this the earl writes : " I wish this practise of the great men in the 
highlands were putt a stope too ; for houever innocent the practise may be, 
yet it is hard to distinguish betuixt jest and earnest. And altho some 
thousands of men may come togither with armes, with noe other designe but 
to hunt the staig, yet at other tymes such a randizvous may be upon a uorse 
designe." In June the earl secured an informant, who stated that in Feb- 
ruary Captain John Ogilvie had been sent from the court of St. Germains to 
converse with the chiefs of the Highland clans, to encourage them to stand 

1 Letter, Duke of Queensberry to Lord 1709, Earl of Leven to the Duke of Queens- 

Leveii, 5th April 1700, in Melville Charter- berry, in Melville Charter-chest. Cf. vol. ii. 

chest. . of this work, p. 68. 

-' Draft letter, dated in April and May 


firm, and to assure them " that the Pretender was fully resolved to come 
amongst them that summer and vindicate (as he called it) his own ryt." 
Each chief was to be constituted a colonel and to have a sum of money for 
equipping his men. Ogilvie returned to France in March ; and on the 
strength of his report an invasion was projected for May, but on further 
advice was postponed till August, as then the harvest would be ready, and 
furnish supplies for both man and beast. Two thousand men were to be sent 
from Brest to attack and seize Inveiiochy (Fort- William), and simul- 
taneously the Pretender was to sail from France with three or four thousand 
men, and effect a landing at Stonehaven in the Mearns, other three thousand 
men being afterwards despatched to his assistance. The departure of these 
troops in small detachments would, it was thought, attract less attention from 
England. The landing at Stonehaven was fixed for the 15th or 20th of 
August, and thither the Highlanders were to march (Inveiiochy being sup- 
posed taken) to accompany the Pretender to Edinburgh, and having been 
there proclaimed king, he was to advance into England. The Duke of Ber- 
wick was to be in command of the invading army. 

In his letters the earl greatly deplores the state of the Scottish fortresses, 
and the remissness of the government in neither fortifying them nor provid- 
ing them with necessaries for defence. There were but few troops in the 
country, altogether insufficient both to furnish garrisons and an army to 
resist an invasion should such be attempted. He complained also of being 
put to great charges for obtaining intelligence of what was going on, 
and of " not having received on farthing on that head since the happy union 
of the two kingdomes." Ascertaining that some five hundred firelocks, with 
some hundreds of pistols and swords, had been purchased from a merchant 
in Glasgow to be conveyed to the Highlands, he desired the magistrates of 
that city to prevent their removal, and obtained authority to purchase them 
for the government. On another occasion he " was ordered to inquire after 
some armes that were bought by a Highlandman called Rob Eoy, and carried 
into the Highlands by him." He adds : " These armes, except a very few, I 
have got into my custody, and has payed them at the same rate that the 
gentleman bought them." 

This correspondence continued till the month of October, during which 


the sufficiency of the fort at Inverlochy was criticised adversely by the earl, 
and also several details in connection with meetings in the Highlands. 
August passed and no invaders came ; but in October the earl was informed 
by Queensberry of some movements going on at Dunkirk, and warned to be 
on his guard, but quietly, so as not to give alarm. The earl promised to do 
his best, but expressed the opinion that for this year the danger of an inva- 
sion was over. At the same time he again urged the government to give 
some attention to the condition of the fortresses, adding that the unfinished 
state of the repairs commenced at Edinburgh Castle two years previously, 
and now apparently abandoned, left it weaker than before. In his last letter, 
which is dated 13th October 1710, the earl informs the duke of the further 
progress of the intrigues between France and the Highlands, giving the 
names of the chiefs of clans with whom correspondence was being conducted. 
Ogilvie was again expected, and the earl had made arrangements for securing 
him if he came to Scotland. He might, however, come to London, and for 
the duke's better information he describes him as " of a midle size, neither 
fair nor black, he has a roman nose, and something pitted with the small-pox, 
he looks brisk and lively, and is of age betwixt fifty and sixty." He passed 
formerly under the name of John Greirson ; on this occasion he was to be 
known as John Brown. 1 

Nothing further of importance appears to have occurred during the 
remaining years of Queen Anne's reign in reference to the Jacobites in 
Scotland. Their cause was now espoused elsewhere. In 1710 a dissolution 
of parliament took place, and the Earl of Leven was not on this nor on any 
subsequent occasion returned as a representative peer, though he regularly 
took part in the proceedings at such elections. 2 The reactionary policy which 
was about this time inaugurated by the court of Queen Anne doubtless to 
some extent alienated the affections of the earl, and all the more when it 
hegan to affect the stability of the presbyterian church as well as the 
principles of the Eevolution, which he had ever so strongly supported. Eae 
says that the faction which then bore sway, in 1712, to further their Jacobite 
schemes, " drew up lists of all the officers of the revenue of the crown, with 

1 Draft letter in Melville Charter-chest. 

- Robertson's Proceedings relating to the Peerage, pp. 8-121, passim. 


an account of each man's principles, and by whose interest they were recom- 
mended to their places ; and then made a change of such in their public 
offices as they thought not disposed to follow their measures." 1 The con- 
sequence was that, as the earl's legal adviser afterwards wrote in his remini- 
scences of the earl's life, " The Earl of Leven was stript of his imployments 
of commander-in-chief, master of ordinance, and governour of Edinburgh 
Castle, as not being a person fitt to be trusted, about the latter end of Queen 
Anne's reign." He significantly adds what is a strong testimony to the 
earl's attachment to principle : " All the gold of Peru would not have tempted 
him to embark in the scheme then in view." 2 The earl in a later memorial 
mentions the date of his dismissal as June 1712, 3 and in a letter to the Duke 
of Marlborough, who was deprived of his offices at the same time, states 
that it was for his " close dependance upon your grace and firm adherence to 
his majesties interest." i 

Considerable arrears of pay being due to the earl in connection with his 
services to the queen and country, he in April 1713 presented a memorial to 
the queen on the subject. He stated that at the union, there being no fund 
for procuring intelligence and defraying contingent charges connected with 
the office of commander-in-chief, he had personally advanced what sums 
were necessary for the efficient discharge of his duty in these respects. In 
1708 he had represented the matter to her Majesty, when the Earl of Godolphin, 
as lord high treasurer, gave him assurances that he would be reimbursed of 
what he had already expended, and a yearly allowance settled upon him for 
such charge. These promises were repeated from time to time, and the earl 
estimated his expenditure on this head a,t over £2000. He stated further, 
that both before and since the union he had been master of the ordnance and 
enjoyed the salary of £300 annexed to that office ; but that subsequently her 
Majesty, while judging it necessary to subject the ordnance of Scotland to 
the management of that in England, yet signified, through the Earl of Mar, 
then secretary of state, that the salary would be continued to the earl. But 
beyond the sum received for the first year this had not been paid, so that five 

1 Rae's History of the Rebellion, p. 13. 3 Memorial to King George the First in 

Melville Charter-chest. 
- Vol. ii. of this work, p. 256. * Letter dated 10th Feb. 1719, ibid. 


years' allowance, £1500, were now due, and for these two sums, and such 
further reward for his services as her Majesty should think fit, the earl 
requested the favour of the queen. 1 

Before this, however, the earl had written on the subject, and received a 
letter in reply from his old correspondent, Eobert Harley, now Earl of Oxford 
and first commissioner of the treasury, to the effect that the queen, in 
accordance with her promises, did intend to take care of his lordship. 2 As 
the memorial appears to have been partly successful, the earl wrote to the 
Earl of Mar, then secretary of state, who in his reply acknowledges receipt 
of two letters, and says : — 

" I have spoke to the queen of all the different heads of your memoriall with 
all the earnestness I could, and her majestie heard me with all the goodness and 
concern that she ever shows in what relaits to your lordship. As to that point of 
it, for intelligence and contingent charges dureing the time of your lordships 
haveing the comand in Scotland, she does not seem to think there is anything due 
your lordship haveing had appointments as comander-in-chife, and those things 
being necessary incidents to that emploiment. The next point you mention is a 
mark of her majesties favour. The queen was pleased to say upon this that 
there is nothing offers just now for her to do for your lordship. But as she is 
very well satisfied with your services, when any thing does she will be very reddy 
to show you her favour, and this she belives your lordship will not doubt of 
considering with what reddyness her majestie lately ordred that fivetien hundred 
pounds to be payed you upon account of your pretention of being formerly 
master of the ordinance in Scotland, after that place being five years sunk. . . . 
The queen realie shows alwise that goodness for what concerns your lordship 
that I have no doubt of her showing you her favour when an opportunity 

The Earl of Mar further expresses doubt as to Lord Leven's wisdom in 
pressing his claims again so soon, and regret at his affairs being so straitened. 
This he advises him to remedy as speedily as possible, as such a condition of 
matters could only weaken any claims he might have on royal favour. The 

1 Memorial in Melville Charter-chest, indorsed as having been delivered to her Majesty, 
and also to the lord treasurer, on 17th April 1713. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 229. 


queen's late indisposition had delayed the letter, but that was now over, 
and she was very well, " only she has the gout in her handes." 1 

Some months later, however, the earl again insisted, and Lord Mar wrote 
acknowledging having received other two letters, but had only to report ill 
success. The earl appears to have entreated restoration to his offices, but on 
that subject the Secretary Mar writes : — 

" I had nothing to say that wou'd have been agreeable to you on the subject 
you wrote of, for the queen was determin'd how to dispose of those posts. ... I 
read your lordship's letter to her Majestie, who askt me if I had not wrote to 
your lordship since I came from Scotland on the heads of your memoriall as she 
had directed me. I told her I had, but it seem'd your lordship was straitned, 
which made you apply so soon again." 

The queen instructed Lord Mar to send the memorial with the earl's letter 
and his own reply to the memorial to the lord treasurer, which being done, 
they were referred by him to the war office, or to the exchequer in Scotland, 
for examination and report, and Lord Mar counselled the earl to follow the 
matter up in the office to which it had been transmitted. 2 

No immediate results, however, were attained, and on 1st August 1714 
Queen Anne died. Amid every expression of loyalty and sincere gratification 
her successor, King George the First, was proclaimed at Edinburgh on the 4th 
of the same month. The earl and his son, Lord Balgonie, took part in the 
proceedings of that day, 3 and immediately afterwards they set out for London 
to welcome to British shores as their sovereign the son of the Electress 
Sophia of Hanover, who had been the friend and correspondent of Lord Leven 
from an early period. The law agent of the Leven family, Mr. John Edmonstone, 
writer, Edinburgh, already referred to, accompanied them as far as Berwick, 
and he relates that the earl, though now an aging man, was in exuberant 
spirits, recounting to them all the events of the revolution, and thanking 
God, with eyes full of tears, that he was yet spared to see his long labours 
crowned with success, in that he would leave a Protestant king sitting on 
the throne of Britain. And he frequently bade his auditors to thank God, 
who had brought about so great a blessing to these lands, of which they 

1 Letter, 2fith December 1713, in Melville 2 Letter, 17th June 1714, ibid. 

Charter-chest. 3 Rae, p. 62. 


would be more sensible when lie was dead and gone. 1 The earl was per- 
sonally known to King George, with whom he had corresponded, and from 
whom he had received several assurances of friendship. 2 He accordingly went 
up in full expectation of having this friendship renewed, and at first he was 
not disappointed. On the 17th September the king landed at Greenwich, 
and hearing the Earl of Leven named, looked around for him, and seeing 
him, stretched forth his hand, brought him within the circle of the guards, 
and leaning his hand on the earl's shoulder, spoke to him of the days they 
had spent together at the court of Brandenburg, and asked all about himself 
and about his family in the most friendly manner. 3 It is said that this dis- 
tinguishing mark of the king's favour to the earl so roused the envy of his 
enemies who saw it, that by their means, he, from that hour, neither had 
another interview with the king nor was the recipient of a single favour. He 
received a formal invitation to be present at the coronation ceremony, 4 which 
he obeyed. He remained in London during the whole winter, and both 
through friends and by letter sought an audience with the king. The follow- 
ing is a translation of a letter he wrote at this time to King George the 
First, the original being in French : — 

" Sire, — I believed it to be my duty to come here, to have the honour of con- 
gratulating your majesty on your happy accession to the throne of Great Britain. 
I flatter myself, sire, that my zeal and fidelity have been long known to your 
majesty, and that you will do me the justice to believe that I shall permit no 
occasion to escape which offers itself of advancing your interests, but that I shall 
eagerly embrace it. 

" I doubt not that many persons will seek to offer their services to your 
majesty ; but I can assure you, sire, that no one shall esteem it more their glory 
than I, if I be honoured with some employment in your service ; and I can say 
that I rejoice as much as any of your subjects to see your majesty established on 
your throne. In consideration whereof, and that I have always been constant in 
the protestant religion, and in the interests of your majesty's succession, by which 
we see our religion established for ever, I hope that I shall receive some mark of 
your royal favour. 

" It would be presumption in me to circumscribe your majesty in the choice of 

1 Vol. ii. of tbis ivork, p. 256. 3 Ibid. p. 257. 

- Ibid. pp. 56-59. 4 Ibid. p. 69. 


such employment, whether civil or military. I therefore cast myself humbly at 
your feet, leaving it to your majesty to dispose of me as you may find most to 
advantage. I had the honour to command as general of the queen in Scotland, 
and was for seven years governor of the castle of Edinburgh. All the time that 
I was in the service, after the change of ministry, they did all they could to 
discourage me, in the hope that I would quit my post. But I suffered patiently 
all these hardships, hoping that if I were continued in that employment I should 
be in a condition to show your majesty how firm I was for your interest. 
At last, when they saw that they could not force me to quit my offices or chill my 
zeal for your majesty's service, they dismissed me therefrom two years since. 
However, I shall stand all my life in the interests of your majesty, and maintain 
them inviolable to the last drop of my blood." 1 

Either at this time, or at a later date, the earl addressed a " very humble 
request " to the king, setting forth the sufferings of himself and his father in 
the interests of the protestant succession, and also his own services in the 
time of King William and Queen Anne. He further states that at the com- 
mencement of the last reign he was one of the first to propose in the parlia- 
ment of Scotland that the succession should be established in the king's family, 
the interests of which no one could say that he had ever faltered in his zeal 
to advance. And seeing that his majesty had now provided the most part of 
those who had been deprived in the end of the late reign, either by restoring 
them to their offices, or giving them others, he hopes that in considera- 
tion of his long services the king will of his goodness honour him with some 
employment, or confer on him such pension as he should find convenient. 2 

As no efforts put forth by the earl to see the king proved of any avail, he 
was obliged to return home amazed and sorrowful, nay almost heart-broken, 
at being subjected to such a strange and undeserved neglect. He repeated 
his efforts after his return by addressing memorials to the king, which were 
sometimes received, and referred to the treasury, but nothing came of them. 

The family agent in his reminiscences states that this neglect was the 
result of a foul plot to ruin the character of the Earl of Leven with King 
George ; and it unhappily proved effective in terminating his lordship's 

1 Draft in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 " La trez humble requite du Comte de Leven," in Melville Charter-chest. 
VOL. I. 2 P 


political career. It is to be remembered that the ministry in power at the 
time of Queen Anne's death was of a distinctly reactionary character, and 
had no sympathy with men such as Lord Leven. Some of his countrymen, 
struck with the friendly attention shown by the king to his lordship on the 
shore at Greenwich, and apprehensive that if he became influential at court, 
their Jacobite designs would not prosper, but would share the same fate as 
their former efforts under the administration of his father, the Earl of 
Melville, that very night devised their schemes and put it into the hands of 
Simon, Lord Lovat, for execution. He obtained the services of one of his 
clansmen, Major James Fraser, third son of Fraser of Culduthel, who had 
gone to France in July 1714 to avoid being arrested at home for debt, and 
had attached himself to Lovat, then at Saumur. Lovat employed him as a 
messenger between the Pretender and the exiled Jacobites, as well as those in 
Scotland. He got this man to swear before Lord Islay, a member of the 
government, that he had been sent from the Pretender's court at Baiieduc in 
France with letters and medals, which were to serve as tokens, to a number 
of Scotsmen, and in particular that he was charged with a large packet of 
such to the Earl of Leven, which he duly delivered to him at Bafgonie. 
Lovat further affirmed that he had sent a letter to the Earl of Leven offer- 
ing his services in the interests of Prince George of Hanover, and that Leven 
had sent it to the Duke of Perth, to show him how false Lovat was to the 
interests of the Pretender. Along with Leven, Lovat inculpated the Duke of 
Athole and Alexander Mackenzie of Fraserdale, as having been co-recipients 
of letters and medals, and as these two were his mortal enemies, Athole for 
his foul outrage on his sister, and Fraserdale for opposing his claim to the 
Lovat peerage and estates, the nature of Lovat's plot is apparent. 

The earl only learned of the existence of this plot in the end of the year 
1716. He then received a letter from Alexander Fraser in the following 


terms : — 

"London, December 2 2d, 1716. 

" My Lord, — Being befor and since her late majestie's deceass my Lord 

Lovat's agent or doer here, till within this three months, I had the perfect 

knowledge of all his intrigues, how and for what reasones he missrepresented 

severall persons of quality, and among the rest, your lordship, by sending in the 


month of December 1714, after his coming from France, on James Fraser, he had 
there with him, along with me, to the Earle of Isla to assure him that your lord- 
ship was ane enemy to the government and him ; that your lordship corresponded 
with the court of St. Germains, and particularly with the Duke of Perth, to 
whom, as the said James Fraser assur'd the Earle of Isla, your lordship had sent 
a letter of my Lord Lovatt's to your lordship, wherein Lovat made mention to 
your lordship of his earnest desyre to serve the then Elector of Hannover, and 
desyr'd your lordship's concurrence and advice to enable him thereto. This letter 
as the said James Fraser alleadg'd your lordship sent to the court of St. Germains 
to show them what a traiterous villain Lovatt was to their interest. He like- 
wayes assur'd the Earle of Isla that the Duke of Perth had showen my Lord 
Lovat's letter to your lordship to him. This with accounts of the like nature 
against other persons of quality the Earle of Hay desyr'd to be brought in writting, 
which accordingly was done, and every particular I putt in writing vouch'd by 
the said James Fraser to the Earle att my Lord Lovatt's desyre. Other persons of 
the first rank in Scotland were likeway basely bely'd and missrepresented by the 
said James Fraser att my Lord Lovat's desyre, as the said James own'd severall 
times to me. . . . 1 

The writer of this letter further states that he had been induced to 
make known the facts by Captain Neil Macleod on the assurance that 
he would receive his lordship's protection if he thought good to move in 
the affair. It seems to have been through Macleod, who was a friend of 
Lord Leven, that Fraser was induced to reveal the facts at all, and in a later 
letter he repudiates the character of an informer, in the accepted sense. He 
afterwards cordially co-operated with the earl in making the truth known to 
the government. 

Lord Leven, immediately on receiving the astounding revelations made 
by Fraser, took steps to vindicate his character and reputation at court. 
The rebellion of 1715 had brought him further trouble on account of his 
continued steadfast adherence to the king. His house of Balgonie was made 
a garrison by the rebels, and his lands and tenants plundered and spoiled. 
He intimated the facts of the case to Baron Bothmar. He stated that he 
believed he had suffered more from the rebels than any others around, and 
desired that it might be mentioned to the king as a mark of his continued 

1 Original letter in Melville Charter-chest. 


zeal and affection, and that he bore all cheerfully on his account. 1 The earl 
had also to submit to the indignity of having his house in Edinburgh 
searched for rebels, and the insolent way in which it was done raising his 
indignation, he remonstrated with the officers, who thereupon, though they 
searched the house and were in no way hindered, spread the report that 
he would not allow his house to be searched. This obliged Lord Leven to 
write to Sir David Dalrymple, then lord advocate, declaring the story in 
circulation through Edinburgh " absolutely false," and his surprise that his 
house " should be suspected to be a shelter of the king's enemies." 2 

The Earl of Leven, soon after his discovery of the plot against him, 
addressed a letter to the king, in which he intimated what had just been 
brought to his knowledge, declared all Fraser's charges " absolutely false 
and groundless," and begged his Majesty to allow the Duke of Eoxburghe, 
then secretary of state for Scotland, to investigate the accusations, as he was 
certain his innocence would be established. To the duke himself the earl 
sent Captain Macleod with a letter asking that he (Macleod) should be 
allowed to bring Alexander Fraser before him, and also with a memorial in 
which the earl vindicated himself. With regard to the correspondence about 
Lovat with the Earl of Perth, he says : — 

"I do posativly affirm that this most be falls for two reasons, furst, becaws 
I never had any corespondance with Simon Fraser, so I could know nothing what 
way he was inclyned. Secondly, I do solemly declair that I never had, derectly 
nor inderectly, any corespondance with any person in France since the Revolu- 
tion, and far les with any, ath[er] att St. Germains or Barleduce, or any conserned 
any maner of way with the Pretender ; and I am shure if I had been the fooll to 
have been tampering with any conserned about thos two placess (considering how 
much hardsheps my father, his family and myself, mett with from King Charles 
and King James), the Earle of Perth would have been the lastt man I would 
have coresponded with, for he was the person who, when my father was forfett, 
took a gifft of his forfettor, so I think upon that head, he and I could not have 
been in frindship togither, therfor I hop I have said a nuffe to convince any 
impartiall judge, that what is said of me upon this head is al togither falls and 

1 Draft letter, dated 14th and 24th January 1716, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Draft letter, 10th September 1715, in Melville Charter-chest. 


Then as to the medals, he stated that his informer would show that they 
were really intended for " the chiffs of the naim of Fraser," as his defamer had 
frequently confessed to the informer. 1 

The king gave the required permission, and the Duke of Eoxburghe took 
up the case. On the information of Alexander Fraser he ordered the arrest 
of a servant of Lovat of the same name, but in order to stifle inquiry Lovat's 
agent, even after the man was in the custody of a messenger, secured his 
escape and concealed him. For this the agent himself was arrested by a 
file of musketeers, and would have been sent to Newgate by the duke, but 
owing to sickness he was liberated on bail. The man, however, was secured 
later, and gave damaging evidence against Lovat. 2 The Duke of Athole and 
Mackenzie of Fraserdale co-operated with the earl in correcting the misrepre- 
sentations of Lovat, and Lovat himself wrote to the earl in his characteristic 
style, denying that he had in any way maligned him to the king. 3 Attempts 
were made to discover James Fraser, the defamer, and in one of his letters, 
dated 16th September 1717, the Duke of Athole, after deploring an accident 
which had befallen the Earl of Leven, 4 and promising to speak favourably for 
him to the king, as he was on his way to London, states that James Fraser was 
seen at Dalkeith on his way to the north in disguise in a black periwig ; that 
he had been sought for unsuccessfully in London, and that he was to request 
an order from the justice-clerk to have him apprehended in the north in 
hopes of discovering who put " him on this vilany." 5 These efforts may 
have been so far crowned with success as to disabuse the king's miDd of the 
idea that the earl was disloyal, but they procured no practical results, as 
beyond promises of consideration nothing was done for the earl. He felt 
this treatment extremely, and his anxiety was such that he became danger- 
ously ill at Balgonie. Physicians brought from Edinburgh declared him in 
imminent danger, so he desired the curtains of his bed to be drawn back as 
far as possible, and, as his law-agent narrates : — 

1 Draft memorial and letters, February reply, the Earl of Leven says : " I was this 
1717, in Melville Charter-chest. affternoon outt one horsbak with my sherers, 

2 Letters, ibid. and comeing home my hors fell with me, by 

3 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 249-253. which I have strained my neck so much and 

4 In a draft of the letter, dated 13th Sep- hurtt my head, that I am not able to travell." 
tember 1717, to which the duke's was a 5 Original letter in Melville Charter-chest. 


" In the hearing of the whole physicians and other gentlemen present, he in the 
most solemn manner, takeing the Almighty God to witness his sincerity, declared 
that every word in the said affidavit which he caused me read, was absolutely 
false and without foundation ; that he never keept the smallest correspondence in 
the course of his life with the pretender, or any of his aiders or abbettors, or had 
ever in thought, word, or deed, swerved in the least degree from his duty to his 
only rightfull and lawfull sovereign, King George, and in presence of all the com- 
pany in the room he desired me to reduce to writeing what he had declared, to 
the end it might be signed by him, if able, that so all in his power might be done 
to wipie off that most unjust calumny and reproach, which I did, and helpt to 
support him in his bed when he signed it." 1 

This illness of the earl, however, was not fatal. He lived for several 
years afterwards in retirement. His financial affairs fell into an embar- 
rassed condition, and continued so for many years, compelling him to sell 
several of his estates. Even in 1716 matters had become so complicated 
that he was obliged to recall his two sons from their regiment to assist him 
with these, and to sell their commissions. In a letter to Baron Bothmar, in 
which he thanks him for his concern on their behalf, he says : — 

" I do assure your lordship I doe verry much regrete that I was necessitate to 
desire my sone to dispose of his commission. But my circumstances are still so 
pressing, that it is very uneasie and troublesome to me, both to pay the yearly 
interest of the money I laid out for his commission, and to defray the expense 
that his attendance at his post puts him to; and your lordship will easily judge 
that his pay comes far short of these demands." 

Lord Leven then proceeds to say — 

" My lord, the great reason of my affairs being in such disorder proceeds from 
my preferring the publick interest to my own, ever since the very first beginning 
of the revolution, and I dar say, I neither spared pains nor expense to advance 
and promote the protestant succession, and the interest of his Majestie and his 
royall family upon all occasions ; and therefore I still hope my service and familie 
will be minded when his Majestie shall think fit, and I must again intreat that 
your lordship will doe me the honour to assure his Majestie of my unalterable 
zeal and fidelity to his Majestie's interest and service." . . . 2 

1 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 257, 258. Declaration printed in vol. iii. p. 243. 

2 Draft letter, 30th August 1715, in Melville Charter-chest. 


To the same effect he repeatedly pressed his claims directly upon his 
Majesty. Taking advantage of the opportunity of congratulating the king- 
on his return from a visit to the Continent in 1719, and after referring to 
his former services, he says : — 

. . " But suffer me to inform your Majesty that such was my zeal for the public 
service that thereby my own affairs have been altogether neglected ; so that by 
the great debts which I have been obliged to contract, my family is in imminent 
danger of falling into ruin. For these causes I take the liberty of casting myself 
at the feet of your Majesty, praying very humbly that your Majesty will have the 
goodness to think of me, and to do something on my behalf, that so I may have the 
means of preserving my house from the ruin which threatens it." 1 

In addition to his own countrymen in office, such as the Duke of Mon- 
trose, and also Baron Bothmar, the earl obtained the services of Baron 
Bernsdorf, the Duke of Marlborough, the Earl of Sunderland, and others, to 
intercede for him with the king, 2 but evidently to no purpose, as neither 
offices were given nor pensions bestowed, nor, indeed, relief of any kind. 

It bears out the earl's statement of the neglect of his private concerns in 
his zeal for public affairs that, though his father died in 1707, and his elder 
brother, Lord Baith, in 1698, he did not obtain himself served heir to them 
until the year 1717, though he was served heir to his uncle, James Melville 
of Cassingray, in 1714. 3 He was in debt to the Crown for the non-entry duties 
of the estates, and in or about 1720 he presented a petition to the king that 
these might be remitted on account of the services and sufferings of himself 
and his father in his behalf, but the result of the petition has not been 

In the ear her period of his career the earl added the estate of Newton of 
Bires to the family possessions, by purchasing it in 1691. He also purchased 
Drumeldrie, Johnstone-mill, and others, from James Lundin of Strathairlie, 
and gave them to his son, Alexander, as part of his patrimony. 

In 1692 he proposed to execute a new entail of the Leven estates in favour 
of himself and his heirs-male, then to pass to the second son of his brother, 

1 Draft letter in French, 6th December 1719, in Melville Charter- chest. 
' 2 Letters, Ibid. ; vol. ii. of this work, p. 253. 
3 Ketours in Melville Charter-chest. 


Lord Eaith, and his heirs-male, then to Mr. James Melville of Hallhill and 
his heirs-male ; failing these, to the eldest heir-female of the earl, and after- 
wards to Eobert, Master of Burleigh, G-eorge, Earl of Melville, and their 
respective heirs-male ; and failing these, to the eldest heir-female of the Earl 
of Melville ; then successively to James Melville of Cassingray, and his heirs- 
male or female, Alexander Melville of Murdochcairnie and Ids heirs-male, 
David M'Gill, younger of Eankeillor, and his heirs-male ; whom all failing, 
to the second son of David, Lord Elcho, and his heirs-male, to Lord Henry 
Scott and his heirs-male, and failing them, to the second son of James, 
Earl of Dalkeith, and his heirs-male, or to such person or persons as the Earl 
of Leven might appoint. 1 This entail, however, does not appear to have been 
made ; hut the earl shortly afterwards obtained a substantial reduction on 
the duties paid to the Crown for his Balgonie estates. 

When the first Earl of Leven had his lands erected into an earldom his 
holding of the crown was blench, and he chose a feather as his symbol of 
recognisance. Nothing was ever paid for the lands until 1675, when the 
lords of exchequer put a money value upon the feather — £100 Scots yearly. 
In 1694 the earl took exception to this amount as being exorbitant, and in a 
petition to the lords commissioners of the treasury and exchequer, pointed 
out that their lordships had put no such value upon other like blench hold- 
ings. He instanced in this respect Smiddiehill and Brewhouse belonging to 
Newton Falconer, held for a pair of gilt spurs, which were rated at £8 
Scots formerly, and converted to £1, 6s. 8d. ; and Houstoun, pertaining to 
Glenfarqubar, which had the same symbol, and was rated at £8 Scots, but 
converted by their lordships to 13s. 4d. The lord advocate, to whom the 
matter was referred, instanced further that £8 Scots was the usual rating of 
a pair of gilt spurs in various parts of the country ; that the blench duty of 
Plenderleith, in Roxburghshire — a flower of gold — was estimated at 18s. 
Scots; that of Pitsligo, in Aberdeenshire — a penny of gold — at £10, 13s. 4d, 
Scots ; that of Castlehill and Thirstoune Castle — a crown of the sun — at 
£10 Scots; and that of Allinstoune and Dades — a third part of a pair of 
gloves — at £1 Scots. He also expressed the opinion that the rating of a 
white feather at £100 Scots was " singullar and far above examples of 

1 Memorandum by Sir William Hamilton, 1692, in Melville Charter-chest. 


the lyk nature," and the commissioners found " That the hundreth pounds 
Scots whereunto the pannashe or whyt feather was estimate haith been 
through some mistake overvalued, it being far above the true value therof," 
and they accordingly reduced it to £10 Scots yearly, to date from July 1690, 
when the last balance was struck. 1 

After the death of his elder brother, Lord Eaith, in 1698, the Earl of 
Leven became heir-apparent to the Melville estates, and his father disponed 
these to him and his heirs-male in 1706. Previously, in 1700, the Earl of 
Melville had disponed to the Earl of Leven, " our most duetifull sone," all 
his movable property at the time of his decease, under burden of his debts, 
and certain legacies to members of his family. 2 But in the disposition of 
1706 he made over to him and his sons successively his estates, com- 
prehending the lands of Monimail, Letham, Monksmyre, Edinsmure, Eaith, 
Balwearie, and Pitlair. 3 As already stated, he succeeded to the title and 
honours of Melville on his father's death, soon afterwards ; and in 1710, the 
Earl of Leven, in view of his own dissolution, having previously provided 
for his younger children by bonds over the estates, made his testament, 
in which he appointed George, Lord Balgonie, his eldest son, his sole 
executor. In 1716 arrangements were made for the marriage of Lord 
Balgonie with Lady Margaret Carnegie, eldest daughter of David, fourth Earl 
of Northesk, and the Earl of Leven then made over all the estates to his son 
in fee under the burden of relieving him of his debts or most part thereof. 
These were at this time nearly £400,000 Scots, for payment of the interest 
of which alone the earl frequently expressed the greatest concern in the 
then great scarcity of money in the country. 

In the following year, 1717, the lands of Inchleslie were sold to Colonel 
Patrick Ogilvie, brother of James, Earl of Findlater, for £11,454, 0s. lOd. 
sterling, in order to satisfy some of the most pressing creditors. Eaith 
was next put into the market, and was only, after considerable delay arid 
disappointing negotiations with others, sold by public roup in 1725 to Mr. 
William Ferguson, the ancestor of the present possessor. Lord Balgonie died 
in 1721, to the great grief of his father, and it was as tutor of his grandson 

1 Extract Act in favour of the Earl of Leven, dated 5th January 1694, in Melville Charter- 
chest. 2 Disposition, ibid. 3 Signature for charter, dated 31st July 1706, ibid. 
VOL. I. 2 Q 


that Lord Leven sold Eaith and some other lands, among which were Carden, 
Westfield, Drurneldrie, and Cassingray. 

Among other matters connected witli the financial affairs of the earl may- 
be mentioned a long and tedious plea in 1719 with the executors of Viscount 
Frendraught, which was only terminated by a compromise through arbitra- 
tion. For some time he acted with his father and others as a commissioner 
on the Buccleuch estates for the duchess, and like his father was in- 
volved in an unhappy litigation on that account, and also in pecuniary loss. 
Then the heavy liferent provision, which the lords of session ordained 
should be paid to Mr. Francis Montgomerie from the Leven estates, was a 
lifelong burden to him, as both lived about equally long. In 1720 the earl 
mentions, in a letter to the Duke of Montrose, his still having to pay this 
yearly, " which indead straitens me so much that I am not able to clear 
anuall-rents yearly, which makes me rune more and more in debt." 1 To 
assist him in some measure, the earl, on the death of the Marquis of Annan- 
dale in the following year, asked Montrose to recommend him to the king for 
the post thus left vacant — apparently that of keeper of the privy seal — but 
if the recommendation was made it was not successful. 2 

The earl died on 6th June 1728, and was buried at Markinch on the 12th 
of the same month. He was in his sixty-ninth year. He had by his 
countess, Lady Anna Wemyss, issue as follows : — 

1. George, Lord Balgonie, who was born in January 1695, and was named after 
his grandfather, the first Earl of Melville. He entered the army as an 
ensign in Brigadier James Maitland's regiment, and afterwards held the 
commission of captain in the third regiment of Foot Guards, 3 commanded by 
the Earl of Dunmore, but sold it in 1716. He in that year (contract dated 
27th July) married his cousin-german, Lady Margaret Carnegie, eldest 
daughter of David, fourth Earl of Northesk. Their mothers were sisters, 
and from their correspondence it appears that the two cousins were by them 
destined for each other from infancy. Lord Balgonie was also in that year 
placed by his father in possession of the Leven and Melville estates, and they 
afterwards acted in concert respecting them. He took part with his father 

1 Draft letter, dated 24th May 1720, in Melville Charter-chest. 

- Draft letter to the Duke of Montrose, dated 24th January 1721, Hid. 

3 Commissions, dated 11th March 1704 and 17th April 1711, ibid. 


in the proclamation of King George the First at Edinburgh, and afterwards 
accompanied him to London to welcome the king on his arrival in Britain. 
He was a most affectionate son, and gave every piromise of an honourable 
career. But this was cut short by his premature death, on or about the 20th 
August 1721, in the 27th year of his age. Lady Balgonie took the death of 
her husband so sorely to heart that she did not long survive him. Her 
father, the Earl of Northesk, in a letter to Lord Leven, says : " I must say 
I think my daughter has just cause of sorrow, for a kind husband's loss, but 
I wish she moderate it, as her duty to God, and the care she should 
have in view of his children requires, tho' this is more easie to enjoyn 
then practise. Besides hir, I think we have all lossed a good frind, and 
have too good reason to regrait it." 1 A few months later, however, Lord 
Leven, writing to the Duke of Montrose, says of Lady Balgonie : " She has 
been decaying daily ever since your grace saw her, and we have but little 
hopes of her recovery." She died on 7th July 1722. 2 They had issue one 
son and one daughter. 

(1) David, who succeeded his grandfather as fourth Earl of Leven and 

third Earl of Melville, and of whom a short notice follows. 

(2) Lady Anne, born on 7th April 1721, and died in 1723. 

2. Alexander, who succeeded his nephew as fifth Earl of Leven and fourth Earl 

of Melville, and of whom a memoir follows. 

3. James, who is mentioned in certain legal papers connected with the executry 

of the third Earl of Leven, as his lawful son, but save that he was still alive 
in 1738, nothing further is known of him. 

4. Lady Mary, born in July 1692. In 1708 she married "William, Lord Haddo, 

afterwards second Earl of Aberdeen, and died in 1710, leaving a daughter, 
Lady Anne Gordon, who became Countess of Dumfries and Stair. 

5. Lady Margaret, born in March 1696, and appears to have died in infancy. 

1 Original letter, dated 29th August 1721, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 History of the Carnegies, Earls of Southesk, by Sir William Fraser, K.C.B., vol. ii. p. 391. 


XII. I. — David, fourth Earl of Leven and third Earl of Melville. 

Born 1717: Died 1729. 

On the death of David, third Earl of Leven, his honours and estates 
devolved upon his grandson David, the only son of George, Lord Balgonie, 
and Lady Margaret Carnegie. He was born on 17th December 1717, and 
apparently in Milne's Square, Edinburgh. Lord Balgonie, writing to his 
father to forward his wife some money for requisite preparations a little 
before, says : " She lodges in Mills Squair, the hous below wher my aunt 
Burlie stayd." 1 After his father's death in 1721, he was styled Lord Bal- 
gonie. He carried on a correspondence with his grandfather, and several 
of his juvenile productions are still preserved at Melville. One may be 
given as a specimen : — 

" My dear grandpapa, — I received your letter from Blackfoord this evening, 
and am very glad that your lordship is in good health. I have given orders for 
makeing the cream cheese and the butter. The servants are all busy with the 
hay. I have ordered to send your bit cheese and some butter, and the Bighty 
horse and another work horse. I give you thanks for the muir fowls your lord- 
ship sent me. My sister and I are in good health, just as you left us. I give 
my humble service to my uncle, and am just going to my bed. My dear grand- 
papa. — Your affectionate son, ^ jo 

" Melvil, June 24th, (/) sy ffl * V) / i 

"Monday, 1723." J> ULLUD fLU 

His father having held the fee of the estates, the young lord was on 9th 
June 1722 served heir to him, and his grandfather was appointed his tutor 
and guardian. He succeeded as Earl of Leven and Melville on his grand- 
father's death in June 1728, and as he was still only in his eleventh year, his 
uncle, Alexander, took charge of his affairs. But he did not enjoy his 
honours long, as he died in June 1729, when these devolved upon his uncle 
as his heir. 

1 Original letter, dated 17th November 1717, in Melville Charter-chest. 


D I F D ! 7 5 4 . 


XI. 2. — Alexander, fifth Earl of Leven, and fourth Earl of Melville. 

Mary Erskine (Carnock), his first wife. 

Elizabeth Monypenny (Pitmilly), his second wife. 


Alexander Leslie, fifth Earl of Leven, was the second son of David, third 
Earl of Leven, and was born in or about the year 1699. He probably 
received his baptismal name in honour of his distinguished ancestor, Alex- 
ander, first Earl of Leven. The earliest notice of him in the family papers is 
a bond of provision by his father in December 1702, granting to him, in 
addition to the lands of Drnmeldrie, Johnstone-mill, and others, a sum of 
40,000 merks as his portion. In 1710 this provision was increased to 100,000 
merks, the lands, however, being apparently excluded. 1 He was at Melville 
in April 1713 attending a funeral, apparently that of his grandmother, 
Katherine, Countess of Melville, and he wrote to his father, who was not 
present, stating who were there, although his juvenile epistle is not very 
intelligible. He is more interested in a present from his father, — " I hope 
your lordship shall find the giting over of the two litel mears shall encurage 
me to my book ; I cannot express how much I am oblidged to your lordship 
for alowing them to me." 2 

He was educated for the legal profession, and, according to the practice of 
the time, was sent in September 1715 to Leyden, in Holland, to complete his 
study of law. He had previously obtained a commission as ensign in the same 
regiment as his brother, Lord Balgonie, the third regiment of Foot Guards, 
under the Earl of Dunmore as colonel. When he was on the eve of setting 
out for Holland, he received an order from his colonel to join the company 
to which he belonged, an order which caused him some difficulty. His father 
wrote on his behalf to his friend, Count Bothmar, representing the circum- 
stances and pleading for a dispensation : — 

" My lord, I doe assure your lordship that were my sone of age, it would affoord 
me the greatest pleasure to have him attend his Majesties service, but he is only 
about fifteen years old at present, and therby very unfitt for service. He has been 

1 Bonds of provision in Melville Charter-chest. 2 Original letter, ibid. 


at school, and is still following his book, and now fit for goeing to Holland to pro- 
secute and perfect his studies. Therefore I most humbly intreat your lordship to 
represent my sones case to the king, and at the same time lay my most humble 
request before his Majestie, that he would be graciously pleased to dispense with 
his attendance, untill he perfect his learning and be of age, and therby more 
capable to serve his Majestie in attending his post." 

In a postscript the Earl of Leven entreats Count Bothmar to prevent Lord 
Dunmore disposing of young Leslie's commission " under pretence of his 
absence." 1 He also wrote to the Earl of Dunmore and Brigadier John 
Stewart, in similar terms, 2 the requisite permission was obtained, and it 
was renewed two years afterwards. Mr. Leslie at Leyden was under the 
charge of Mr. Charles Mackay, afterwards Professor of Civil History in the 
University of Edinburgh, with whom he formed a lasting friendship. In 
November of 1 7 1 5 he wrote to his father, expressing pleasure at learning the 
family were well. He adds : — 

"I shall endeavour to be as frugall as possible, and I hope to have your lord- 
ship's approbation upon that account at our meeting. I should deserve the worst 
things the world can afford if I did not studie to please such a gratious father in 
every thing were it never so difficult. I hope that by application I shall be able 
to master this very difficult task (I am sure if your lordship had knowen what 
toil and pains it costs me every day you would never [have] allowed me to cume 
here), but it will take longer tyme than your lordship mentioned to me at our 
parting, two years, but your lordship may do me the justice to expect [that] 
all that lyes in my pour shall be doun, that I again may have the pleasure of 
waiting upon your lordship and my brother." 

The writer incidentally refers to the difficulty of getting passports to leave 
Holland. He concludes, " I am very happie in my lodging, for I stay in the 
same house with the laird of Salton's nephew, who is a very prittie young 
gentelman and very oblidging to me." 3 The climate of Leyden, however, 

1 Letter, dated 4th August 1715, in Melville afterwards Lord-Justice Clerk, who was edu- 
Charter-chest. cated there. He was the son of Mr. Henry 

2 Letters, 9th August, ibid. 

Fletcher, brother of the celebrated Andrew 

Fletcher of Salton, and Margaret Carnegie 

3 Original letter, 22d November 1715. of Pitarrow, was born in 1692, and called to 

This nephew of the laird of Salton was the bar in 1717. He was pursuing his legal 

probably Mr. Andrew Fletcher of Milton, studies at the date of this letter. 


appears to have disagreeably affected the health of the young student. In 
January and June of 1717 we find his brother and father writing in anxiety 
about his health, but they express confidence in Mr. Mackay's care of him. 
In June Lord Leven writes to Mr. Mackay that his son should not be dis- 
couraged by his ailments, and adds : — 

" I had ane account of him yeasterday from Mr. Charles Erskin, brother to Sir 
John, which was most agreable to me ; tell my sone that it is a great comfort to 
me to hear folk give such character of him, let him be assured of my tender 
affection, and what I recommend to him is his duty to God, and nixt care of his 
hoast [cough]. I am very weel informed of your care of my sone, for which I 
thank you." 

In a postscript the earl sends his " service " to Lord Elcho, the Duke of 
Queensberry, and others who appear to have been travelling in Holland, and 
also desires to be told how his son is to pass his holidays. 1 A letter from 
Mr. Mackay to Lord Balgonie in the following October implies that he and 
Mr. Leslie had been travelling together, but gives no particulars of the 
journey. Mr. Leslie, he says — 

" aggreed very well with travelling, and was very curious in observing every- 
thing worth his notice in the severall places we pass'd through. We returned 
just in time to the sitting doun of the colledges, and since that time he has been 
very busy. The colledges he attends this winter are upon the Institutions of the 
Civill Law and Pandects, universall history, and a colledge upon Florus. With 
the pains he gives at present he would make charming progress in the law if he 
were sufficiently master of the Latin. I presume your lordship will believe that 
I am not wanting to give him any little assistance, so far as I am capable, in his 
studys. . . . The tea he sent your lordship was entrusted to the care of 
Captain Spence's mate, who was to sail from Rotterdam above a fortnight ago." 2 

Alexander Leslie was still at Leyden in December 1718, when he writes 
to his brother, Lord Balgonie, expressing the hope of " a mirrie meeting " 
soon, and about a " cutting knife " which he recommends : — 

" I wrot to your lordship about it once before, and told your lordship that all 
the Duch people make use of it, which is en infallaball mark that it is usefull. 

1 Original letter, 22d June 1717, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Letter, dated 26th October 1717, ibid. 


I am told that if you give a horse but half as much corn as ordinary mixed with 
straw after it is cut, that he will fatten much sooner then if he had double corn. 
If it does fail, the expence of it is very small, so that we will lose but little ; it is 
pritty difficult to make it cut, but no doubt Sandie Scot knowes the way, for they 
were much made use of in Flanders in the camp. ... I shall presume to put 
your lordship in mind that if you want Holland for shirts, I shall endeavour 
to furnish you or my lord [Leven], but they must be made and washed here for 
fear of duty, therfor if your lordship wants any I must know by the first occasion. 
I hope your lordship will mention the price. I have taken of two duzen for 
myself, for I will perhaps never have so good occasion again." 1 

Mr. Alexander Leslie was admitted in clue form as an advocate before 
the court of session on 14th July 171 9. 2 This was not done, however, 
without applying to Lord Dunmore to allow him to return home to be received 
into the ranks of the legal profession. A promise was also made that he 
would continue in the king's service, but shortly after his being made 
advocate he applied to be allowed to dispose of his commission. 3 

In 1720 Mr. Leslie was in London, where he, like so many others, was 
affected by the South Sea Company mania. This appears from a letter to his 
brother, Lord Balgonie, which also refers to a proposal to sell the lands of 
Eaith. He states that he had spoken to several gentlemen as probable 
buyers, one of them being Colonel Charteris, but they all made difficulties, 
and the affair did not progress. He writes : — 

" I find they are all very nice and indifferent, land being so high, and I am 
advised to acquaint your lordship that there is no time to be lost, nor can you 
reasonably expect so much as proposed at parting, for they say that when they 
buy at forty years' purchase they make but two per cent, of there money, so it is 
much better for them to keep it in the stocks ; this they say alreadie ; but further 
people are of opinion, that the South Sea Company will declair a greater dividend 
then the present, and in that case land will fall to its ancient standert, for then 
every bodie will be fond of keeping in the stocks. ... I am now to acquaint 
my lord [Leven] and your lordship that there is to be a new subscription 
very soon. I have both the Duke of Montrose and Earl of Eothes promise 

1 Letter, 6th December 1718, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Extract Act of Admission, ibid. 

3 Letters, 3d February and 30th July 1719, ibid. 


that they will do their utmost to procure me a subscription, but this I relay 
little upon, for its to be presumed that they will imploy all there intrest 
that way in procuring to there oun friends, but I am advised by severals who 
understand those matters fully and are very capable of giving advise, such as 
Sir David Dalrumple, Harry Cunningham, &c, that the only way would be if my 
lord [Leven] would be prevailed upon to writ to the Earle of Sunderland that he 
might be one of the Treasury list, but this I know my lord would not incline 
because that would be reckoned a favour, and so he would have the less to aske 
afterwards. My lord's only way therfor, as they say, would be to writ a separat 
letter to Sir John Phellis, sub-governour of the South Sea Company, and a 
general letter to the directors ; all that would be necessary for my lord to say [is] 
that he had not as yet had any concern in the South sea, and that he would take 
it as a great favour if they would allow him a subscription (or two) as you incline. 
This is a thing commonly done and scarce ever refused." 

He proposes that his father should take one " subscription," Lord Bal- 
gonie a second, and himself a third, as " every subscription is realy 2 or 
3000 pound clear gain, with almost no hazard." He further writes : — 

" The want of money here is a very great loss to me, for there can be 
nothing done without money and there can be non got, unless one would give 
5 per cent, a month. Since I came here I had an opportunity of making 4 or 500 
pound if I had had money, nay, Paterson was so generous as to offer to advance 
me 500 pound upon my bills for Scotland (which was a great favour as matters 
goes here, for its the richest man here can command lest, all there money being 
in the stockes), but this your lordship may be sure I would not do, when I had 
not advertised you of it ; I understand it will be the same way in Holland, for I 
saw a letter from Carstairs at Rotterdam to a gentleman telling him that there 
never was such demands for money as now in Holland, and that he, nor no 
marchand in Holland, could do any service to any without they either brought 
ready money with them or credit. People here are still perswaded that the States 
will go into some measurs very soon ; I cannot yet be determined when I will be 
readie to go, for I have not yet seen the Earle of Dunmore, but the duke tells 
me I cannot git liberty to sell without the king's consent. 1 ... I most now 
earnestly beg that your lordship will fall upon some way [to] git me credit for 500 
pounds as soon as possible, for the loss of a day is very considerable. This 500 

1 This relates to the intended sale of the writer's military commission, which apparently 
was not yet disposed of. 

VOL. I. 2 K 


pound may be of more use to me just now then all my patrimony at another time ; 
without this I may just come home again, for its impossible to git any thing done 
without money." 

He concludes with a proposal that Lord Leven should borrow money from 
the Bank [of Scotland], Lord Wernyss, or some other source. This letter, 
however, was written towards the end of July 1720, and a few weeks later 
the run on the South Sea stock lessened, its value in the market decreased, 
and thousands who had advanced money on the shares were ruined. The 
delay, therefore, which took place in procuring the money probably saved 
Mr. Leslie's fortunes and perhaps those of his family also. 

When in his twenty -second year Mr. Leslie married, on 23d February 
1721, Mary Erskine, eldest daughter of Colonel John Erskine of Carnock, 
with whom he received the sum of 18,000 merks Scots of dowry. A few 
months later he had to mourn the death of his elder brother, Lord Balgonie, 
to whom he appears to have been much attached. After that event, which 
took place in August 1721, he seems to have been much with his father, and 
to have assisted him in the management of the family estates. This appears 
from letters to him, and, among others, one from his wife, who, writing 
from Culross in May 1723, urges him to do all he can to promote the com- 
fort and cheerfulness of his father. 1 The character of the writer comes 
out pleasingly in her letters, only two of which seem to have been preserved. 
Although not strong, and indeed apparently of a consumptive tendency, she 
writes cheerfully to her husband and his father, then an ailing man. She 
wishes Lord Leven to induce her husband to go straight from Melville to 
Edinburgh, and not to take the long route by Culross, dwelling playfully 
also on a slight improvement in her health. To her husband she writes 
desiring that he would rather remain with his invalid father than come 
to her, and only requiring that he would let her know regularly how he is. 
He appears to have appreciated her feelings and provided her with a carriage 
that she might gain fresh air without fatigue. 2 Mrs. Leslie's mother also was 
an invalid, and whether this increased her debility is not clear, but she died 

1 From one sentence in the letter it might certain, 
be inferred that Mr. Leslie was a member of 2 Letters, dated 6th and 10th May 1723, 

the General Assembly for 1723, but it is not in Melville Charter-chest. 


only two months later, on 12th July 1723, much to the grief of her husband, 
who has left on record a testimony of his sorrow. On her deathbed Mrs. 
Leslie expressed an earnest wish that their infant son should be brought up in 
the strictest Presbyterianism, and this request was incorporated by her husband 
in a manuscript containing religious advice for the benefit of his successor. 1 
Colonel Erskine, after his daughter's funeral, wrote to Lord Leven expressing 
pleasure to know that he and Mr. Leslie were so far safe on their way 
home, and desiring to know how they " and sweet little Davy " (afterwards 
sixth Earl of Leven) were. He adds that he is deeply sensible " of the par- 
ticulair regaird and esteem you had from first to last for my dear daughter." 2 

Within three years Mr. Leslie entered into a second marriage, on 10th 
March 1726, with Elizabeth Monypenny, daughter of the deceased Alexander 
Monypenny of Pitmilly, and sister of Mr. David Monypenny of Pitmilly, 
advocate. This lady had a dowry of nine thousand merks Scots, but the writ 
narrating the contract is so destroyed by damp that the provisions contained 
in it cannot be clearly ascertained. 3 

During the year 1727, if not before that date, Mr. Leslie held the office 
of provost of the burgh of Kirkcaldy, and in March of that year he was 
appointed to represent the burgh as an elder in the ensuing General Assembly 
of the Church of Scotland. 4 On the death of his father, in 1728, Mr. Leslie 
acted as executor of his trust-estate, and as guardian of his nephew, David, 
fourth Earl of Leven. He paid out for funeral expenses, apothecaries' bills, 
and other preferable charges on the estate of the deceased David, third Earl 
of Leven, the sum of £3992, 6s. lid., for which, on 6th November 1728, he 
obtained before the commissary of St. Andrews a decree of cognition against 
his nephew and his own younger brother, Mr. James Leslie. 

On the death of his young nephew, in June 1729, Mr. Alexander Leslie 
became fifth Earl of Leven and fourth Earl of Melville. One of his first acts 
was to increase the settlement made on his wife by their marriage contract, 
and to make provision for his younger children suitable to his new rank. He 
also applied himself to pay off the debts on the estates, and to develop their 

1 Manuscript in Mr. Leslie's handwriting, 3 Writ [date worn away], ibid. 

in Melville Charter-chest. i Extract Act of Presbytery of Kirkcaldy, 

2 Letter, 19th July 1723, ibid. 30th March 1727, ibid. 


resources. This is proved by the discharges for the various sums paid, and 
by a letter written in 1732 to Mr. Charles Mackay, in which the earl says : — 

"You will reckon it good news that I have an offer of £100 per annum for a 
twenty years' tack of my coall from good hands. We are very near agreed, 
and ere next week I hope to be able to tell you its ended to my satisfaction. If 
this happen I think my money will not be thrown away ; all my projectors are 
saying I 'm mad. However, I can stand that brush when I 'm satisfyed in my 
own mind and have the concurrence of my best friends, for I take it for granted 
I have yours." 1 

On the resignation of James Erskine, Lord Grange, the Earl of Leven was 
appointed by King George the Second a senator of the college of justice. 
He took his seat on the bench on 11th July 1734. 2 He was also appointed, 
during the king's pleasure, chamberlain of the crown lands of Fife and 
Stratheru in room of the Earl of Eothes, with the usual powers, and a yearly 
salary of £300, in addition to £20 of victual. 3 It would appear that in the 
previous year Lord Leven had received offers of preferment. He states in a 
letter to a friend that a member of parliament had written him : " I was with 
the great man and used the freedom to mention your name, tho I had no 
allowance for it ; he seems fond of haveing you in his interest, and desired 
me to let you know this." The " great man " here referred to was probably 
Sir Eobert Walpole, as in another letter Lord Leven says : — 

" The letter I got the post befor shows that there is some intention to take 
some notice of me, what their byviews may be I cannot find out, but sure they 
must have some, for I 'm sensible its not on my own account, neither do I believe 
that as yet Hay has any hand in it. . . . Here Mr. Drummond, tho' he says my 
friends here, yet I fancy he means Sir Eobert only ; now what I want most is to 
know how he [Drummond] stands with Islay, for I would fain hope he [Hay] is 
not amongst the friends he mentions, for I own it would give me double satis- 

1 Letter, 25th April 1732, iu Melville appears from a memorial, presented by him to 
Charter-chest. the Treasury in 1751, that he held the office 

2 The royal letter for his admission is only two years, and did not receive a formal 
dated 28th June 1734, and is in the usual exoneration of his accounts. In consequence, 
form ; vol. ii. of this work, pp. 69, 70. a prosecution was begun against him for a 

3 Commissions, dated 29th April and 23d balance due to the Crown, and he was forced 
August 1734, in Melville Charter-chest. It to petition for the usual release. 


faction if anything were done for me that I did not owe it to him, it would be 
much more for my honor that it came from Sir Kobert himself." 

As one of the senators of the college of justice, Lord Leven was called to 
London in April 1737, along with certain of his brother judges, to advise the 
House of Lords as to the legal proceedings arising out of the Porteous riot. 
The House of Lords resolved to bring in a bill disqualifying the provost of 
Edinburgh from holding office anywhere in Great Britain, with other proposals, 
which, however, were not finally embodied in the act afterwards passed. The bill 
was brought into the house about the beginning of April, and the 2d May was 
fixed for the second reading. Lord Leven writes to a friend, " No Scotsman 
voted against the bill but the Dukes of Argile and Athole ; Lord Hay did not 
divide at all; however, I'm told, upon cool thought, they will behave otherways, 
I mean the bulk . . . No bodie yet knows in what way the judges will appear in 
the house of Lords, whether at the bar or elsewhere." 1 This last sentence refers 
to a proposal which had been made and maintained by the Duke of Argyll 
and other Scottish peers that the lords of session should have seats on the wool- 
sack, like the English judges in similar circumstances. But this view was 
declared to be contrary to precedent, and the Scottish judges were required 
to stand at the bar — a fact which caused much irritation in Scotland as an 
indignity to the country. 

In 1741 King George the Second appointed Lord Leven his commissioner 
to the general assembly of the Church of Scotland. 2 In this position Lord 
Leven does not appear to have indulged in much pomp, nor is it recorded, as 
in the case of some other commissioners, that he was attended by members 
of the nobility. His speeches, however, it has been said, and the opinion is 
borne out by such as are quoted in this memoir, were delivered " with more 
frequency and freedom than would now be relished, or perhaps tolerated." 3 

1 Letters, 17th and 22d February 1733, his preparations for the coming Assembly — 
in Melville Charter-ehest. first as to his wigs, one of which fitted him 

2 Letter, 21st March [1741] from the Earl exactly, the other was to be " made by one 
of Islay, in Melville Charter-chest. Fogo." His correspondent is requested to 

3 Morren's Annals of Assembly, 1739-1752, send for Fogo, and show the wig to him. 
ed. 183S, p. 296. In a letter dated 22d The reputation of the wig-makers at the 
April 1741, in Melville Charter-chest, the time was very bad, as appears from the 
earl expresses anxiety about two points in following sentence in the same letter : " But 


Ill the course of his evangelistic labours the Eev. George Whitefield visited 
Scotland in the summer of this year. From Edinburgh he passed to Dun- 
fermline, where he preached in Erskine's meeting-house. Lord Leven invited 
Mr. Whitefield to visit him at Melville House, which he did in October, 
but could not prolong his visit as he had engagements at Dundee and Aber- 
deen. 1 It may be interesting to notice that the spring of this year appears 
to have been very rigorous. Lord Leven in one of his letters, dated from 
Melville in April, states that there is little appearance of the season growing 
better — 

" which is a dismal prospect to the country in general ; here we have no grass 
at all, if we get no change of weather the poor people and cattle must starve. The 
poor creatures in the neighbourhood come here beging leave to pull nettles about 
the dicks for themselves and heather in the muir for their beasts. We have them 
dailly in shoalls of 20 with death in their faces, and at the same time the country 
is so loose that the people are forced to watch their houses and barns." 

Lord Leven appears to have taken ill, soon after May 1741, of some kind 
of fever, perhaps aggravated by the inclement weather, but recovered, though 
after this date there are frequent references in his letters to various ailments. 2 

In the following year, Sir Eobert Walpole, finding himself no longer able 
to contend against the opposition to his policy, chiefly exerted by John, 
Duke of Argyll, resigned his position as chief of the government. A new 
administration was at once formed, under which the Duke of Argyll was 
appointed commander-in-chief of the forces, besides his other military offices. 
A few weeks later, however, a correspondent of Lord Leven wrote specially 
to tell him of " the extraordinary news " that the duke had " resigned the 
whole of his posts," adding, "What influence such sudden alterations at 
court may have on affairs abroad, I believe will not be easy to tell, but it 
looks as if things might pretty near keep the old channel at home." The 
reason of the duke's sudden resignation was his disappointment that the 

tho I have clap'd my seal upon it, yet they are 1 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 258, 259. 
such rogues that I would not incline to trust 2 On 30th November of that year the earl 
him with it by himself." Lord Leven also was installed Grand Master Mason of Scot- 
wished to know if any separate sum were land, and continued in office for one year, but 
allowed to the pursebearer, for upon this his the date of his first connection with the Order 
choice of that functionary would depend. of Freemasons has not been ascertained. 


Marquis of Tweeddale was made secretary of state for Scotland, and the 
setting aside of some of his own friends in the distribution of offices. 

The Duke of Argyll was succeeded by Lord Stair as commander-in-chief, 
and to him and to the new Scottish secretary Lord Leven applied for a 
commission in the army to his eldest son, David, Lord Balgonie, who was then 
with his tutor in Holland. This fact, and his probable re-appointment as 
commissioner to the Church of Scotland, are referred to by Lord Leven in 
one of his letters. He writes, " I had a letter from Lord Hay last post, 
wherin he sais ' it was extremely agreeable to me the other day to hear from 
good hands that our church at present and what relates to it could not be in 
a better way than it is.' This, with what I heard formerly, makes me 
conclude the farce will be acted over again this year as last ; but I have 
had no ansuere from the Marquis [Tweeddale], which I wonder at, but I 
know he spoke very obligingly of me at his levee." The earl then refers to 
an application to Lord Stair on behalf of his son. 1 In another letter about 
same date, the earl writes, " I 'm glad to see by the London Gazette that all 
matters are to turn out for the good of the country ; this I take for granted 
must certainly be the case since Lord Stair has accepted of office — a patriot 
of his magnitude sure would accept on no other terms." 2 

The Earl of Leven again, as he anticipated, was appointed commissioner 
to the general assembly of 1742, and at the close of its sittings received 
from Lord Tweeddale a congratulatory letter upon its successful conclusion, 
approving also the earl's own conduct and management. 3 

In the autumn of the same year, Lord Leven was the means of obtaining 
the settlement in his neighbouring parish of Collessie of a clergyman who 
afterwards became famous as an eloquent preacher and professor of Belles 
Lettres and Khetorie in the University of Edinburgh. This was the Kever- 
end Hugh Blair. Two months after his induction to Collessie, he received 
a call to the Canongate church, Edinburgh. Lord Leven expressed deep 
regret, but declared that neither he nor the parish would oppose the change, 
as it was evidently for Mr. Blair's advantage. The transfer, however, did not 
take place till June of the following year. 

1 Letter, March 1742, in Melville Charter-chest. 

2 Letter, 24th March 1742, ibid. 3 Letter, 29th May 1742, ibid. 


The earl was again royal commissioner to the general assemblies of 1743 
and 1744. In his speech to the assembly in 1743 he departed from the more 
formal style of such utterances by advising the members to study peace and 
good understanding among themselves, and to guard against everything that 
may break or interrupt these, especially 

" when by an unhappy schism so many have withdrawn from the communion of 
this church, and the ringleaders of this faction are every where dispersed and 
catch at all advantage to foment and encrease the division ; in this juncture to be 
sure a more than ordinary caution and circumspection is necessary. The true 
sons of the Church should be knit together more close than ever, laying aside all 
passion and variance which may give occasion to the common adversary to 
triumph ; it 's by your behaviour, gentlemen, by the calmness and discretion of 
your counsels and equity of your sentences, by joyning harmoniously in this one 
concern of promoting the valuable interests of this Church, — it 's thus, I say, that 
under God our present disorders may be rectified, your enemies put to shame, 
and the eyes of poor misguided creatures opened to see and acknowledge their 
mistake." 1 

It was the Commission of this assembly which authorised the carrying 
through of a scheme for making provision for the widows and children of 
ministers and professors, and despatched some of their number to London to 
obtain an Act of Parliament embodying the scheme. Lord Leven appears to 
have used his influence in promoting the desired result, and an Act was duly 
obtained. To this Lord Tweeddale alludes in his letter announcing Lord 
Leven's reappointment as high commissioner in 1744. "I make no doubt," 
he says, " you will find the assembly in good humour and full of gratitude for 
the favour his Majesty has so lately conferred on the church, which was so 
warmly recommended to me by your lordship." 2 Lord Leven dealt with 
the subject in one of his speeches to the assembly, when he reminded them 
that the great affairs of government and the press of important business 
which had claimed the king's attention at this critical juncture had not pre- 
vented his Majesty from showing in the strongest manner his concern in the 
prosperity of the church, and generously interesting himself in her welfare. 

1 MS. speech in Melville Charter-chest. 2 Letter, 21st April 1744, in Melville 

The reference is to the secession by Erskine Charter-chest, 
and his associates in 1733. 


The " critical juncture " referred to was a threatened invasion by the French, 
whose fleet had sailed up the Channel in the middle of the previous February, 
in order to cover a projected descent upon England from Dunkirk and other 
French ports. But a few days later the English fleet, much superior to that 
of the French, drove the latter down the channel, and the real danger of 
invasion ceased. For this Lord Leven in his speech expresses gratitude "that 
in so few weeks after we were threatened with an invasion in favour of a 
Popish pretender by a people of whose perfidiousness and inveterate enmity 
to our religion and libertys we have had so long experience, we should be 
assembled here in peace and quiet, in the possession of all we hold dear and 
sacred, in the possession of all we could dread the loss of." 1 

In the memorable year 1745, Lord Leven was again commissioner to the 
assembly, and it is curious to compare his concluding speech to the house 
with the events which a few months later filled the country with alarm. He 
spoke of the happy blessings then enjoyed of peace and tranquillity, and 
expressed himself persuaded that the ministers woidd continue to represent 
those blessings in the liveliest colours to their people, " and shew them how 
their duty to their sovereign is inseparably connected with their own private 
interest." 2 This was in May, and in the following August Prince Charles 
Edward raised his standard at Glenfinnan. His victorious progress south- 
ward, his arrival in Edinburgh, and the defeat of the royal forces at Preston- 
pans, are matters of history. Of the defeat at Prestonpans there are some 
brief notices in a letter in the Melville charter-chest, written apparently by 
the fourth Lord Belhaven. 

The writer, on 23d September 1745, two days after the battle, says : 
" George Cranston pass'd here this morning with a pacquet to Berwick ; he 
says that he mounted guard upon the canon during that fatal action, that 
after his men had given two or three platoons, they wheel'd about to make 
way for the dragoons, who, instead of riding in sword in hand, wheel'd about 
on his soldiers, and threw them into the utmost disorder." Cranston him- 
self " got into the grave-digger's house in Prestonpans, where he remained 
till 3 o'clock next morning, during which time the people belonging to that 
house informed him that several persons of distinction amongst the High- 
1 MS. speech in Melville Charter-chest. 2 MS. speech, 1745, ibid. 

VOL. I. 2 S 


landers were lying in the church, having fine linen and covered over with 
plaids, several Highlanders sitting at their head and feet, howling over them ; 
that orders had come to the sexton to prepare five more graves, for which he 
was to be handsomely rewarded." The writer also refers to the efforts of 
their officers to rally the dragoons, and to the great slaughter which took 
place at the wall of Preston park. Of the two commanding officers who 
escaped to Berwick, Cranston reported " that Brigadier Fowke was among the 
last who left the field ; that he escaped very narrowly, having several shot 
fir'd at him ; that he [Cranston] met him near Cockenzie, [he] appeard very 
cool, and rode at an easy trot to Dunbar, where he dined, and proceeded in 
the afternoon to Berwick, having a commission to land the Dutch at New- 
castle ; that Colonel Lascelles in the pursuit was taken prisoner and sent to 
the rear, but pretending to be wounded, and putting on a white cockade, he 
received a horse from one of their folks, and came on with Brigadier 
Fowkes." 1 The writer concludes : " We are assur'd that 900 Dutch were in 
Burlington Bay. I hear Lord George Hay gives out that ten battalions of 
English are landed. The advocate, solicitor, Sir John Inglis, encamped last 
night in and about Berwick. Several people, viz., Sir Bobert Henderson, 
J. Anstruther, etc., observed that our retreat was not so precipitate, but that 
we kept in the rear of the above-mentioned ministers." 2 

The Viscount of Strathallan joined the rebel army, and he sent from 
Perth, in December 1745, a requisition to the Earl of Leven, desiring him to 
send the sum of £100 within ten days, "and thereby prevent any further 
trouble." 3 It is doubtful whether the earl received this letter at the time, 
and it would appear he was not at home when a party of rebels did visit 
Melville and made a search for arms, carrying off horses, blunderbusses, and 
other weapons, for which they duly gave a receipt to Lady Leven. 4 Lord 
Leven had gone on a journey southward, first to Berwick and thence to 
Alnwick, from which place he wrote on 27th December to his friend Mr. 

1 It was to these two officers that, on their but the above is the contemporary version, 

arrival at Berwick, General Lord Mark Kerr 2 Letter, with Lord Belhaven's seal of 

exclaimed : " I have seen some battles, heard arms, in Melville Charter-chest, 

of many, but never of the first news of defeat 3 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 230. 

being brought by the general officers before." 4 R-eceipt, 13th December 1745, in Mel- 

This story was afterwards applied to Cope, ville Charter-chest. 


Charles Mackay. He thinks he will be better at Alnwick than even at 
Edinburgh, " since I 'm of no use there either to my friends or the govern- 
ment." He continues : " I 'm told by a gentleman who left Edinburgh on 
Tuesday night that the foot from Stirling were come there, and that the 
Highlanders were gone towards Stirling. I 'm really afraid of Stirling in that 
case." After referring to the movements of the Royal troops, and com- 
menting on the probable delay in the landing of the Hessians, the earl 
writes : " I hear the skirmish was betwixt 200 dragoons, commanded by 
General Honeywood (who by the by is wounded), and the rearguard of the 
rebells, commanded by Lord Elcho. There was 11 dragoons killed on 
the spot and 8 Highlanders. Honeywood dismounted the dragoons, and 
took betwixt 60 and 70 prisoners, and found about 40 half dead and 
drown'd in a river." 1 Lord Leven desires his correspondent not to let 
" any bodie " know where he is, and concludes his letter with an incidental 
notice of the bombardment of Carlisle by the Duke of Cumberland. 2 

Lord Leven's absence from home was partly caused by a desire to get 
rid of indisposition, apparently of an asthmatic nature, but he was again at 
Melville in February 1746, although again attacked, which prevented him 
attending, as required, upon the Duke of Cumberland. He had a letter from 
the duke expressing regret at his ailment, and thanking him for some trouble 
he had undertaken. The duke states that the Hessians and some English 
cavalry were at Perth and Stirling, who would aid in protecting the lowlands. 3 

The conflict at Culloden on 16th April 1746 put an end to the rebellion, 
and in May Lord Leven was able to congratulate the general assembly 
" upon that happy, that surprising deliverance this church and nation have 
by the blissing of Almighty God so lately received from the glorious victory 
obtained . . . over these perfidious traitors to our king and country and 
avow'd enemies to every thing that is dear to us as men and Christians." 
The earl proceeded to express his horror at the "wicked and unnatural 
rebellion," and to depict its probable dreadful consequences had it succeeded, 

1 It is not clear whether this is a version siderably from the rebel accounts. 

of the skirmish between the rear-guard of the „ T , „ , ^ , ,„,^ . , , .„ 

, _ ,, , " Letter, 27th December 1745, in Melville 

rebels, under Lord George Murray, and a 

detachment of the Duke of Cumberland's 

army at Clifton, but if so, it differs con- 3 Vol. ii. of this work, p. 71. 


but he praised the conduct of the ministers in the crisis, and attributed the 
non-success of the rebellion largely to their influence. 1 He conveyed to the 
house a special message from the king to the same effect, and also one con- 
tained in a letter to himself from the Duke of Cumberland. The duke wrote 
from Inverness on 21st May to express publicly during the sitting of the 
Assembly the just sense he had " of the very steddy and laudable conduct of 
the clergy of that church through the whole course of this most wicked, 
unnatural, and unprovoked rebellion." He testified to the zeal and loyalty 
of the ministers, and their forwardness to act for the government. 2 

A letter from Lady Anne Leslie, eldest daughter of the earl, to her brother, 
Lord Balgonie, then stationed at Inverness with General Handasyde's 
regiment, gives a glimpse of the gayer aspects of the high commissioner's 
sojourn in Edinburgh. She writes : — 

" The Prince of Hesse did us the honour to dine with us on Fryday, drank tea 
and at five waited on papa to the General Assembly, and the ladys waited on his 
highness there and sat in the loft [gallery]. He staid an hour. On Fryday we 
had a fine dancing assembly; his highness got the first set to dispose of; he gave 
me the first couple, but he began with dancing a minuet with his partner, Mrs. 
Kinloch, and then he danced one with me. My partner was Sir Patty Murray ; 
we led down the country dances. There was four setts, and a vast crowd of 
company. Every thing was directed with the utmost p>rudence and discretion, 
and no petts that I can hear of." 3 

In the end of May and middle of July Lord Leven again had communica- 
tions from the Duke of Cumberland, the first announcing the submission of 
the Clan Cameron, and the second intimating the duke's departure for the 
south. His military secretary, Sir Everard Fawkener, expressed a wish to 
meet Lord Leven, and strengthen their acquaintance, on which he placed 
much value. 4 

Lord Leven again met the general assembly as commissioner in 1747, but 
the proceeding's call for no special notice, nor do those of 1748. In 1747, however, 
Lord Leven was called to a wider sphere of action by his being elected one of 
the sixteen representative peers of Scotland. In consequence of this he was in 

1 MS. speech in Melville Charter-chest. 3 Ibid. p. 261, 26th May 1746. 

2 Vol. ii. of this work, pp. 71, 72. * Ibid. pp. 230, 231. 


London in January 1748, as we learn from a long letter to a friend. The first 
part of it deals with his reception at court and in political circles, which was 
favourable. " My wife and Anne were at court on new year's day ; the king, 
the duke, and Princess Emelia all asked for me, and, to say truth, madam has 
met with uncommon respect from all of them." The letter then deals with 
the subject of the probable successor of President Forbes, who had died in 
December 1747. Lord Leven had been appealed to for advice, and had various 
interviews with the Duke of Newcastle on the subject. 

" He told me the first time, he did not know what to do ; if I could put him 
on a way to please all partys he would be obliged to me. I told him that was 
impossible, but I thought he ought to do what would be obliging to the whigs, 
the king's friends, and that was to make Lord A[rniston] president, that his own 
principles and that of his family were long known ; that the other, whatever his 
principles were now, it was certain his family at least was a little obnoxious to 
the king's friends in Scotland ; that in short it would be a blow to the king's 
interest in that country." 

In addition to some other details of less importance, Lord Leven told the 
duke " that Arniston had more influence in the country than any private 
gentleman whatever, and even more than many of another class put together." 
A proposal to make the younger Eobert Dundas, son of Lord Arniston, lord 
advocate, was rejected by Lord Leven as unacceptable to the young man 
himself in the circumstances. The earl proceeds : — 

'•' The next interview produced nothing new, only as I saw A[rniston] would 
not be the man, I said I thought T. 1 would be more obnoxious to the whigs than 
any bodie ; then he [the duke] asked who there were ; I named Elchies (who I 
told [him] would be a certain persons man nixt to T.) and Robert Craigie. All 
the thanks I have got for my pains from one of A.s friends I find is that under 
pretence of serving A. I did what I could for Elchies. This has nettled me a 
good dale, and would determine most people to act no further part, yet as I dare- 
say he would not suspect me himself, if there remains any place for it, I will still 
proceed." 2 

' It may be noted that Lord Arniston was promoted to be president of the 

1 Probably Charles Erskine, Lord Tinwald, king and his friends the whigs. 
whose connection with the Mar family might 2 Letter, 3d January 174S, in Melville 

explain why his name was obnoxious to the Charter-chest. 


court of session on 10th September 1748, Lord Tinwald having been made 
justice-clerk in June of the same year. 

In the autumn of the following year, 1749, Lord Leven paid a visit to 
France, but his lordship did not enjoy his experiences of continental travel. 
He had a stormy but comparatively short passage from Dover to Calais, 
whence he set out for Lille. 

" I lay at St. Omer the first night, which is a very fine place and well for- 
tifyed ; its full of fine churches. From this I was silly enough to be prevailed 
on to quit the post road, as I was in a hyred chaise, to save some miles, by which 
I met with very bad roads, and had like to have stuck in several places, often in 
the midle of woods not within two or three miles of a house, so, had an accident 
happened, I had been forced to ly all night in my chaise at the mercy of ruffians 
who abound in this part of the country at present. We saw many that day who 
would have attacked us if they durst, but the gun frighted them ; but at length 
I got safe to Bethune, and so to Lille very late. The people in this country 
appear very odd, especially the women are the hideousest creatures ever I saw. 
Every thing is dirty ; no service at the inns, even at Lille, where I was at the 
best hotel, there was but one waiter and one maid for the whole house. I stayed 
at Lille all yesterday [Wednesday, 24th September], and set out this morning 
post for Paris. Oh ! its miserable posting in this country, 5 or at most 6 
miles in one hour; all we could do was to reach this place, Per on, 60 miles. 
They yoke 3 miserable beasts all in a breast, just as we do harrows, and an 
old surly rascal as post boy, who will do nothing but what he pleases. One of 
them had the impudence this day to tell us, after we had given him sixpence to 
drink, that we payed like Frenchmen and not like Englishmen, and gave us 
names, upon which Sandie 1 threshed him. This night I have got wine I was 
forced to warm with sugar befor I could drink it, and yet this is the best place 
for lying at betwixt Lille and Paris (Paris — I find now this is not true). The 
Windmiln twopenny is better than any wine I have yet seen, except at Lille, and 
it not very good." 

The preceding was written from " Peron, twelve posts from Lisle," on 
25th September 1749, and on the 27th the earl continues: — 

" Senlis, 22 posts from Lille. Got here just now, nothing remarkable 

1 This was Lord Leven's second surviving son, Alexander, whom he had met at Lille, 
and who accompanied him to Pari.*. 


on the road, but a charming country. All the road we travailed this day is 
almost one continued avenew as straight as a rash, and in several places for two 
miles together they are aple trees quite full which had a fine effect. From the 
last post-house called Pont St. Maixence, we past thorrow one of the king's 
hunting forrests, called Du Sallats (?), the finest thing I ever saw. Where we 
came thorrow it its seven English miles, the trees cut hedge-ways on each side 
and very tall, but the apprehension of being robed took off some of the pleasure. 
I could easily have gone to Paris this night, but did not chuse to travail late for 
fear of accidents ; we shall be there to-morrow to breakfast, God willing. We 
scarce see a house on the road but the places where we stop to change the horses, 
and those are as bad as a Scots tennents house in most places, except when it 
happens in a town, and even those have bad accomodation. Its amazing who 
labours the ground, for tho its a rich corn country all betwixt this and Lille, 
except the last stage, where any ground I could see for the wood is heathy, yet I 
scarce observed a farm-house, tho the country is all open, for the avenews I men- 
tioned are but one row of trees on each side of the road at about 12 or 14 foot 
distance. To-morrow I am told we pass throw the forrest of Chantilier [Chan- 
tilly], longer, they say, than the one I passed this day." 

Lord Leven expresses a hope that he will soon see his friend the Earl of 
Albemarle, who was then English ambassador at the French court, and he 
states that his malady, the asthma, had almost left him. He proceeds — 

" The multitudes of English in this country has made travailing as dear as in 
England, the expence of horses for one chaise by the king's ordonnance comes to 
four shillings English every six miles, which is as much as we pay in England for 
both chaise and horses, except where they have close post-chaises ; for these we 
pay one shilling per mile. I payed at Lille 3 guineas for the use of a chaise 
to Paris. The guides, for I cannot call them boys, as they are generally old fel- 
lows, I have met with are allowed only threepence English per post, yet our 
countrymen have debauched them to such a degree that they grumble if they 
don't get double, and their post is generally but six miles. In short, one way or 
other, I see this will come out a dearer job than I was made believe, so that I 
repent my journey heartily. . . . The roads here are all made and keeped up at 
the public expence, and no turnpikes, which is grand indeed, and the king has 
been at great pains to keep the roads free of rogues since the disbanding of the 
troops; the disbanded men were all carryed by their officers to their several 
parishes to prevent their playing tricks, this was very prudently done, and 


deserves commendation. I am delighted with the country since I entered France, 
and flatter myself I shall continue more so the more I see of it." 

"Paris, 28th, ten in the morning. I arrived yesterday befor dinner, had a 
most agreeable jurney. The wood of Chantilier is very large and fine, its above 
eight league over, but not above two where we crossed it ; I think the other the 
prittyest and best keeped, and largest trees. On the roadside the trees are all 
cliped hedge-ways for about 16 or 18 foot high, and then the branches are 
allowed to spread so that you ride under cover when you go on the side of the 
road off the casway which is in the midle. They [the roads] are ind