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When James the Fourth appeared in
arms against his father, and, in conse­
quence of the murder of that unfor­
tunate prince, ascended the throne, he
was a youth in his seventeenth year.1

1 He was born March 17, 1471-2 ; and at
his accession was aged sixteen years and
eighty-five days. MS. Notes of the Chron­
ology of the reign of King James the Fourth,
drawn up by the late Rev. Mr Macgregor
Stirling. To this useful compilation, which
is drawn almost exclusively from original
documents preserved in the Register House
at Edinburgh, and in other collections, I have
been greatly indebted in writing the history
of this reign.

That he had himself originated the
rebellion, or taken a principal part in
organising the army which dethroned
the late king, does not appear; but
that he was an unwilling, or a perfectly
passive tool in the hands of the con­
spirators, is an assertion equally remote
from the truth, although brought for­
ward in the pages of our popular his­
torians. It is, on the contrary, pretty
apparent that the prince was seduced
and blinded by the flattery and false
views offered by the discontented
barons. He was dazzled by the near

1488.J                                             JAMES IV.                                                   245

prospect of a throne; and his mind,
which was one of great energy and
ambition, co-operated, without much
persuasion, in their unworthy designs.
After some time, indeed, the remon­
strances of the few faithful adherents
of his father awakened in him a vio­
lent fit of remorse ; but his first ac­
cession to the throne does not appear
to have been embittered by any feel­
ings of this nature; and the voice of
self-reproach was drowned for the time
in the applauses of a flagitious but
successful faction.

The leaders of this party did not
lose a moment in rewarding their
friends and adherents, and in distribut­
ing amongst themselves the offices
which the rapid and total change in
the administration of the government
placed at their disposal. The assist­
ance of the powerful families of the
Humes and Hepburns was remune­
rated by grants dated the very day
after the battle of Sauchie ; the prin­
cipal castles were intrusted to parti­
sans of tried fidelity 1—the money in
the royal treasury was secured and
delivered into the keeping of Sir Wil­
liam Knollys, lord St John of Jeru­
salem, treasurer to the king ; and a
deputation, consisting of the Bishop of
Glasgow, the Earls of Angus and Ar-
gyle, with the Lords Hailes and Home,
repaired to the castle to examine, and
place in the hands of faithful persons,
the jewels, and royal plate and apparel,
which belonged to the late monarch
at the time of his decease. The in­
ventory taken upon this occasion is
still preserved, and impresses us with
no contemptible idea of the riches and
splendour of the Scottish court.2
After the body of the king had been
interred in the Abbey of Cambusken-
neth,3 with all due solemnity, the
court immediately proceeded to Perth,
and held the ceremony of the corona­
tion in the Abbey of Scone.4 The or-

1 Mag. Sig. xii. 8, June 16, 1488. Ibid.
xii. 7, June 17,1488.

2  See Illustrations, letter R.

3  For proof of the interment of James the
Third in the Abbey of Cambuskenneth, see
Mag. Sig. xiii. 251, April 6,1496.

4 Balfour states (vol. i. p. 214) that James
was crowned at Kelso. Pitscottie places the
coronation, equally erroneously, at Edinburgh;

ganisation of the government, and dis­
tribution of its various offices to per­
sons of tried fidelity, now took place.
To the Prior of St Andrews was com­
mitted the keeping of the privy seal;
upon the Earl of Argyle was bestowed
the high office of chancellor; Hepburn,
lord Hailes, was made master of the
household ; the Lords Lyle and Glam-
mis became justiciaries on the south
and north of the Forth; Whitelaw,
sub-dean of Glasgow, was chosen to fill
the office of secretary to the king;
and upon the Vicar of Linlithgow, an­
other of the now influential family of
the Hepburns, was bestowed the office
of clerk of the rolls and the council.5

From Scone the king proceeded to
his palace of Stirling, where he took
up his residence; and it seems to
have been immediately resolved by
the members of his council, that an
embassy should proceed to England,
for the purpose of conciliating the
favourable disposition of that govern­
ment to the revolution which had
lately taken place in Scotland. It was
perhaps dreaded that the spectacle of
a prince dethroned by his subjects,
under the authority of his son, was
not likely to be acceptable to the Eng­
lish monarch; but Henry the Seventh,
with his characteristic caution, did no­
thing precipitately. He granted safe-
conducts to the Scottish ambassadors
at the request of his dear cousin, James,
king of Scots ; whilst he, at the same
time, took the precaution to provision
and strengthen Berwick, a fortress
against which, in the event of hos­
tilities, he knew the chief efforts of
Scotland would be directed.6 The
successful faction, however, in whose
hands the government was now placed,
were too anxious to preserve tranquil­
lity at home to dream at present of a
war with England. To conciliate the
attachment of the youthful monarch
—to reward their principal partisans—

and Lesley and Buchanan are silent on the
subject. The Lord High Treasurer’s books,
under the date of July 14, 1488, prove it to
have been at Scone. The day on which the
coronation was held seems to have been the
26th of June.

5  Mag. Sig. xii. 1, June 25, 1488.

6  Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. pp. 485, 486,

246                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                         [Chap. V.

to arrest and disarm their enemies, and
to acquire the affection of the people,
by evincing an anxiety for the adminis­
tration of justice, were objects which
afforded them full employment. James
already, at this early age, began to
evince that admiration for the fair sex
which wrought him much distress in his
after years; and an attachment which
he had formed, when Duke of Rothesay,
for the Lady Margaret Drummond, the
beautiful and unfortunate daughter of
Lord Drummond, was encouraged by
the obsequious father and the nobles
who filled the principal offices about
court.1 Splendid shows and presents
which were lavished on his mistress
—theatrical entertainments got up for
the solace of the youthful lovers—
dances and masked balls at night, and
hunting parties during the day, were
artfully provided by those unscrupu­
lous ministers, who knew that there is
no more effectual method of degrading
and destroying the human character
than by dissolving it in pleasure.2

Amidst such revellings, however,
the lords of the council devoted them­
selves uninterruptedly to more serious
employment. Summonses of treason
were issued against the Earl of Bu-
chan, the Lords Forbes and Bothwell,
along with Ross of Montgrenan, the
king’s advocate, whose bravery in a
skirmish at the bridge of Stirling, pre­
vious to the battle of Sauchie, had
endangered the life of the present
king : these barons were commanded
to abide their trial in the next parlia­
ment, and along with them were as­
sociated the Lairds of Cockpule, Amis-
field, Innermeith, and Innes, with Sir
Thomas Fotheringhame and Sir Alex­
ander Dunbar.3 At the same time,

1 Treasurer’s Books, Sept. 15, 1488 ; and
Ibid. October 3. For twa elne of fransche to
be hir my Lady Mergatt, a goune, v lb.
Item, for three elne of black ryssillis for a
goune till her, v lb. viii. sh. Item, for golde,
aysure, silver, and colouris till it, and warken
of it, vi lb. xvii. sh. Item, for three unce of
sylkis to frenzeis till it, xiii sh. Illustrations,
letter 8.

2  Treasurer's Books, Aug. 5,1488. To the
players of Lythgow that playt to the king, v lb.
Ibid. Aug. 20. Item, to dansaris and gysaris,
xxxvi sh. Ibid. Aug. 16. Ibid. Aug. 10.

3  Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. pp. 201-206.

the lords justiciars, accompanied by
the king in person, held their ambula­
tory courts or justice-ayres at Lanark,
Dundee, Ayr, and other parts of the
kingdom, taking care that the mon­
arch should be attended by his hunts­
men and falconers, his fool, “ English
John,” and his youthful mistress, the
Lady Margaret, lest a too exclusiv
attention to business should irritate or
disgust the royal mind. A three years’
truce was soon after concluded with
England; and on the 6th of October
the first parliament of the new reign
was opened at Edinburgh with great
solemnity: it was numerously attended
by all the three estates. For the clergy,
there appeared Schevez, archbishop of
St Andrews, with the prelates of Glas­
gow, Dunkeld, Aberdeen, Whitchurch,
Dunblane, and the Isles, fourteen ab­
bots, four priors, and various officials,
deans, archdeans, and provosts of col­
legiate churches : for the temporal es­
tate, there were present the Earl of
Argyle, chancellor, along with the Earls
of Angus, Huntly, Morton, Errol,
Marshal, Lennox, Rothes, and Athole;
the Lord Hailes, master of the house­
hold, Lord Lyle, high justiciar, with
the Lords Hamilton, Glammis, Gray.
Oliphant, Montgomery, Drummond,
Maxwell, Grahame, Carlisle, Dirleton,
and other noble persons, entitled either
by their rank or by their offices to sit
in parliament. There were present
also the commissaries of the fifteen
burghs. Upon the second day a com­
mittee of parliament, known as usual
by the title of the Lords of the Articles,
was nominated, consisting of nine mem­
bers for the clergy, fourteen for the
barons, and five for the burghs; whilst a
smaller judicial committee, embracing
three members of each estate, was se­
lected for the decision of those weighty
causes which were brought before par­
liament as a court of last appeal.

These preliminaries having been ar­
ranged, the more immediate business
of the parliament proceeded, and the
Earl of Buchan, Lord Bothwell, Ross
of Montgrenan, the king’s advocate,
and others who had appeared in arms
at the field of Stirling, were summoned
to answer upon a charge of treason.

1488.]                                              JAMES IV.                                                  247

Of these persons the Earl of Buchan
made confession of his guilt, and sub­
mitted himself to the king’s mercy,
a procedure which was rewarded by
his pardon and restoration to the royal
favour. The others were found guilty,
and sentence of forfeiture pronounced
against them; but in perusing the
crimes laid to their charge, we must
remember that the object of the op­
posite party, who now ruled all at
court, was to throw the odium of the
late rebellion on their opponents: they
accused them accordingly of bringing
in upon the kingdom their enemies of
England; of an attempt to reduce
under subjection and homage to that
country the independent crown of
Scotland; and of having advised their
late sovereign, James the Third, to
infringe repeatedly the stipulations
which he had entered into with the
nobles who were in arms against him.1
There can be little doubt that if any
party in the state were truly guilty of
such crimes, it was rather that of the
youthful king than those who had ad­
hered to his father, but the treason of
the prince’s party had been crowned
with success, and they were now all-
powerful. Although Buchan there­
fore was pardoned upon his submis­
sion, Lord Bothwell was forfeited, and
his lands and lordship erected into an
earldom, and bestowed upon Lord
Hailes, the master of the household;
whilst the lands of Ross of Montgrenan,
who at the same time was found guilty
of treason, were conferred on Patrick
Hume of Fast castle, for his services
in the late disturbances. It was deter­
mined also that an embassy should be
despatched to France, Spain, and Brit­
tany, for the purpose not only of con­
firming amicable relations between
Scotland and these powers, but with a
special commission to search for a wife
to the king, taking care that she be
“ a noble princess born, and descended
from some worshipful house of ancient
honour and dignity.” The embassy
was directed to consist of a bishop, an
earl, a lord of parliament, a clerk, and
a knight, with a retinue of fifty horse,

1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
i. p. 210.

and for the payment of their expenses,
a tax of five thousand pounds was to
be levied throughout the kingdom,
two thousand to be contributed by
the clergy, two thousand by the ba­
rons, and one thousand by the burghs ;
whilst at the same time it was special­
ly directed that the contribution of
the barons was to be paid by them
and the free tenants, and not by the
common people.

A remarkable enactment followed.
In consequence of the high displeasure
conceived by the sovereign against all
who by their appearance in the field
at Stirling were regarded as the chief
promoters of the slaughter of his late
father, it was directed that such of the
rebels as were in possession of heredi­
tary offices should be deprived of
them for the period of three years.
A determined effort was next made
for the putting down of theft, robbery,
and murder, crimes which at this mo­
ment were grievously prevalent, by
dividing the kingdom into certain dis­
tricts, over which were placed various
earls and barons, to whom full author­
ity was intrusted, and who promised
on oath that they would to their ut­
most power exert themselves in the
detection and punishment of all of­
fenders. The Merse, Lothian, Linlith-
gow, and Lauderdale were committed
to the care of Lord Hailes and Alex­
ander Hume, the chamberlain, and
Kirkcudbright and Wigtown also to
Lord Hailes; Roxburgh, Peebles, Sel­
kirk, and Lanark were intrusted to
the Earl of Angus; whilst the same
powerful baron, along with Lord Max­
well, undertook the charge of Dum­
fries. The districts of Carrick, Ayr,
Kyle, and Cunningham were commit­
ted to Lord Kennedy, the Sheriff of
Ayr, the Laird of Craigie, and Lord
Montgomery; Renfrew, with Dum­
barton, the Lennox, Bute, and Arran,
to the Earl of Lennox, Lord Lyle, and
Matthew Stewart; Stirlingshire to the
Sheriff of Stirlingshire and James
Shaw of Sauchie; Menteith and Strait-
gartney to Archibald Edmonston; Ar-
gyle, Lorn, Kentire, and Cowal to
the chancellor, assisted by his son, the
Master of Argyle; Glenurquhart, Glen-

248                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                         [Chap. V.

lyon, and Glenfalloch to Neil Stewart,
with Duncan and Ewen Campbell;
Athole, Strathern, and Dunblane to
the Earl of Athole, Lord Drummond,
and Robertson of Strowan; the low
country of Perthshire, and the district
of Dunkeld, to Lord Oliphant; Angus,
both in its highland and lowland dis­
trict, to Lords Gray and Glammis,
with the Master of Crawford; the
sheriffdom of Fife to Lord Lindsay
and the sheriff of the county ; the
Mearns to the Earl Marshal; and the
extensive district reaching from the
hilly range called the Mounth, north­
ward to Inverness, to the Earls of
Huntly and Errol, and the Laird of

The parliament next directed their
attention to the investigation of the
causes of the late rebellion. From
such interested judges, however, it
would be vain to look for an impartial
examination of this momentous ques­
tion, and we accordingly find that the
whole blame was thrown upon the
late king and his iniquitous advisers,
for so his ministers were denominated.
The object of the conspirators was, of
course, to deceive the people and the
portion of the nobility and middle
classes not immediately connected with
the rebellion, and to insure safety to
themselves under any subsequent re­
volution, by enabling them to plead a
parliamentary pardon. It is not, there­
fore, matter of surprise that the opin­
ion of parliament should be couched
in strong terms. It declared that the
whole matter having been examined
by the three estates, they were unani­
mously of opinion, each man for him­
self, and under his loyalty and allegi­
ance, that the slaughter committed in
the field of Stirling, where the king’s
father happened to be slain, with
others of his barons, was wholly to be
ascribed to the offences, falsehood, and
fraud practised by him and his per­
verse counsellors previous to this
fatal conflict. The acquittal of the
young king and his advisers was
equally broad and energetic; and con­
sidering who it was that composed the

1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol,
ii. p. 208,

act, it is difficult to peruse it without
a smile. It observed, “ that our sove­
reign lord that now is, and the true
lords and barons who were with him
in the same field, were innocent, quit,
and free of the said slaughters, battle,
and pursuit, and had no blame in fo­
menting or exciting them ;" and it
recommended that a part of the three
estates, now assembled, selected from
the bishops, great barons, and bur­
gesses, should affix their seals to this
declaration, along with the great seal
of the kingdom, to be exhibited to the
Pope, the Kings of France, Spain,
Denmark, and such other realms as
were judged expedient by the parlia­
ment.2 In addition to these measures
adopted for their own security, the
party who now ruled the government
commanded that all goods and mov­
ables belonging to “ the poor unlanded
folk,” which had been seized during
the troubles, should be restored ; that
all houses, castles, and lands, which
had been plundered and occupied by
the lords of the “ one opinion " or of
the other, should be again delivered
to their proprietors; and that the
heirs of those barons and gentlemen
who died in arms against the king in
the battle of Stirling, should be per­
mitted to succeed to their hereditary
estates and honours, notwithstanding
the legal impediment arising out of
their having been slain when in a state
of rebellion.

The remaining provisions of this
parliament related to the administra­
tion of justice, the commerce and the
coinage of the realm, and the rewards
and offices bestowed upon those who
had figured in the late rebellion. It
was directed that the king should ride
in person to the various justice-ayres,
and that his high justiciar should
accompany him. Crichton of Ruth-
ven was appointed warden of the
mint, with injunctions to examine and
assay the fineness of the gold and
silver; and a singular provision was
added, relative to the importation of
bullion into the country. The mer­
chants were commanded to bring in a

2 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.

ii, p. 207,

1488-9.]                                           JAMES IV.                                                  249

certain bulk of pure bullion, called in
the act burnt silver, in proportion to
the description and quantity of the
goods which they exported.1 It was
next ordered that the castle of Dun-
bar should be entirely dismantled and
destroyed, on account of the damage
which it had already occasioned to the
kingdom, and the likelihood of greater
injury, in the event of its falling into
the hands of the enemies of the go­
vernment. The command of Edin­
burgh castle, with the custody of the
Lord James, duke of Ross, the king’s
brother, whose education had hitherto
been conducted in his tender years by
Shaw, the abbot of Paisley, was in­
trusted to Lord Hailes, master of the
household; and another powerful Bor­
der baron, Alexander Hume of Hume,
was rewarded for his services by
the office of high chamberlain.2 In
the same parliament the penalties of
treason were denounced against the
purchasers of presentations to bene­
fices at the court of Rome, whether
clergy or seculars, by which great
damage was occasioned to the realm,
and the proceedings were closed by a
declaration that all grants signed by
the late king, since the 2d of Feb­
ruary 1487, the day upon which the
prince, now king, took the field in
arms against his father, were revoked,
because made for the assistance of
that treasonable faction which had
been enemies to the realm, and had
occasioned the death of the king’s
father.3 Such is a view of the princi­
pal proceedings of four successive par­
liaments, the first of which, as already
noticed, met on the 6th of October
1488, and the last on the 3d of Feb­
ruary 1489.

But although the proceedings of
the faction which had deposed and
slain the king were vigorously con-

1 Thus for every serplaith of wool, for every
last of salmon, for every four hundredth of
cloth, four ounces of bullion were to be
brought in, for which, on its delivery to the
warden of the mint, the importer was to be
paid at the rate of twelve shillings an ounce.

2  Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 211. Mag. Sig. xii. 52. October 13,

3  Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii, pp. 211, 223,

ducted, and their measures for the
security of their own power and the
destruction of their opponents pushed
forward with feverish haste and an­
xiety, it was soon demonstrated that
they were ineffectual. The Earl of
Lennox and Lord Lyle, disappointed
probably with the division of the
plunder, broke into revolt. Lyle oc­
cupied the strong fortress of Dumbar­
ton, and held it out against the king ;
whilst Lennox and Matthew Stewart
raised their vassals, garrisoned their
castles and strongholds, and communi­
cating with the northern counties,
where attachment to the government
of the late monarch seems to have
been stronger than around the court,
succeeded in organising a serious in­
surrection. In the murder of James
the Third they possessed a subject
for powerful appeal to the feelings of
the nation, of which they were not
slow to avail themselves. Lord Forbes
marched through the country with
the king’s bloody shirt displayed upon
the end of a spear, and this ghastly
banner excited multitudes to join the
insurrection. It was affirmed, and
apparently on good grounds, that those
who had cruelly murdered the father,
now completely overruled the son,
abusing his youthful facility of temper,
and intruding into the highest offices
of the state. Lord Drummond, whose
daughter was mistress to the young
monarch, presuming upon this circum­
stance, insulted the authority of the
laws, and with his sons and kinsmen
committed open spoliation in the coun­
try ;4 whilst Hepburn of Hailes, whom
we have seen, in the former reign, in
the rank of a minor baron, and whose
conduct was then marked only by
lawlessness and ferocity, suddenly rose
into a state of power and consequence,
which left the oldest nobility in the
background. Within less than a year
he had been created Earl of Bothwell,
promoted to the office of lord high
admiral, intrusted with the command
of the castles of Edinburgh, Loch-
maben, and Treiff, with the custody
of the king’s brother, the Duke of

4 Acta Dominorum Concilii, Oct. 22, 1488,
Ibid, Nov. 3,

250                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. V.

Ross, and the wardenship of the west­
ern and middle marches.

But although liable to the charge of
partiality and favouritism, the govern­
ment of the young monarch partook
of that energy which, in a greater or
lesser degree, is always elicited by a
revolution. Unlike his predecessors
in their jealousy of the power of the
nobles, James seems, on the contrary,
to have early adopted the opinion,
that the monarch was singly far too
weak either to abridge the authority
of his barons, or to rule the kingdom
without their cordial co-operation. In
the fate of his father he had before
his eyes a terrible example of aristo­
cratic vengeance; and aware that the
same remorseless hands which had
placed the crown upon his head, might,
if provoked or injured, be the first to
remove it in favour of a more obse­
quious prince, he determined to secure
the stability of his throne by cultivat­
ing the affectionate attachment of his
nobility. Amongst them were many
men of great intellectual vigour and
military talent. Drummond, the Earl
of Bothwell, Hume, the high chamber­
lain, Argyle, the chancellor, and White-
law, subdean of Glasgow, the secre­
tary, were all able assistants ; and the
character of the king himself, who was
not only generous, openhearted, and
liberal almost to profusion, but who
possessed fair abilities along with great
activity and courage, was well fitted
to secure their friendship and com­
mand their respect.

It is not surprising, therefore, that
the united strength of the throne and
the nobles was too powerful for the
rash attempt of Lennox. At the head
of a force rapidly raised for the occa­
sion, and accompanied by his chief
officers of state, the king laid siege to
his castles of Duchal and Crookston,
which had been occupied by the
rebels; whilst he sent Argyle, the chan­
cellor, to assault Dumbarton, which
was then held by Lord Lyle and Len-
nox’s eldest son, Matthew Stewart.1
Proclamation was also made, offering
a reward of forty pounds’ worth of

1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 223.

land, or one thousand marks of silver,
for the apprehension of these barons;
and so vigorously did the young mon­
arch proceed in his bombardment of
Crookston and Duchal,2 that he made
himself master of both places within
a short period. He then marched to­
wards Dumbarton, where the rebels,
having been joined by Lord Forbes,
the Earl Marshal, Lord Crichton, and
the Master of Huntly, only awaited
the arrival of Lennox, before they
made a united and desperate effort for
the destruction of that faction, which,
as they alleged, had enslaved the king,
and risen on the ruins of the estab­
lished government. They were not
destined, however, to be successful.
On his descent from the Highlands
into the low country, Lennox’s first
intention was to pass the bridge at
Stirling. Receiving information, how­
ever, that his enemies had occupied
the town, and rendered this imprac­
ticable, he resolved to cross the Forth
at a ford not far from the source of
the river, and for this purpose en­
camped in a level plain called Talla
Moss, about sixteen miles from Stir­
ling. His force was principally com­
posed of Highlanders; and one of these
mountaineers, named Macalpin, de­
serting the camp, brought intelligence
to the king and Lord Drummond at
Dunblane, that it would be easy to
destroy Lennox by a night attack,
his army being so secure and careless,
that they used no precautions against
a surprise. This enterprise was no
sooner suggested than it was carried
into effect. In the middle of a dark
October night, Drummond and the
young monarch, at the head of a force
hastily raised, and chiefly composed
of the royal household, broke in upon
the intrenchments of Lennox, and
slew, dispersed, or made prisoners his
whole army, pursuing the fugitives as
far as Gartalunane, on the opposite
side of the river. This success was
immediately followed by the surrender

2 The siege of Duchal seems to have taken
place in the end of July 1489. Mag. Sig. xii,
132. July 28, 1489. There were still some
remains of this ancient castle in 1792. Stat.
Account, vol. iv. p. 278.

1489-90.]                                    JAMES IV.                                           251

of Dumbarton, and the complete sup­
pression of the conspiracy; after which
the sovereign and his ministers appear
to have acted with a judicious clem­
ency, which had the effect of quieting
the kingdom; Lennox, Huntly, Mar­
shal, Lyle, and Forbes being not only
pardoned, but soon after restored to
the royal favour.

The necessary consequence of this
abortive attempt at insurrection, was
to give additional strength to the
government; and a brilliant naval ac­
tion which took place about the same
time, increased its popularity. Under
the former reign, Sir Andrew Wood,
a naval officer of high talent and ex­
perience, had distinguished himself by
his successes against the English, but
his attachment to his old master,
James the Third, of whom he was a
favourite, prevented him from giving
in his immediate adherence to the go­
vernment of his son. He was soon
reconciled, however, to the young
monarch, who early evinced an en­
lightened desire to encourage the ma­
ritime strength of the country by
applying himself personally to the
study of ship­building and naval tac­
tics ; and about the time of Lennox’s
defeat, Wood commanded a small
squadron in the Forth, which had
been successful in its cruises against
the English pirates who then infested
the narrow seas.1 Unauthorised by
their own government, these audacious
adventurers committed great depreda­
tions, plundering the Scottish mer­
chantmen and fishing-craft, making
descents upon the coast towns, and
carrying off their riches and their in­
habitants. At this time a fleet of
five pirate ships had entered the Clyde,
and after committing their usual ha­
voc, greatly incensed the young mon­
arch by giving chase to a vessel which
was his own property.2 James earn-

1 That the exploits of Sir Andrew Wood
were performed against pirates is proved by
a charter dated May 18, 1491. Mag. Sig. xii.
304. Illustrations, letter T.

2 Treasurers Books. Feb. 18, 1489. Item,
after the kingis schip wes chaysit in Dun­
bertane be the Inglismen, and tynt hit ca-
billis and oder graytht sent with Johne of
Haw. xviii lib,

estly represented the matter to Wood,
and required his assistance in repelling
so unjustifiable an attack, committed
at a period of profound peace, when a
three years’ truce existed between the
two countries. Nor, whatever might
be his opinion regarding the persons
who managed the government, could
this brave officer resist the appeal of
his sovereign. With only two ships,
the Flower and the Fellow Carvel, he
attacked the English squadron; and.
notwithstanding his inferiority in force,
after an obstinate action, the five pi­
ratic vessels were captured and carried
into Leith.3 If we are to believe the
Scottish historians, the King of Eng­
land, although in the time of truce he
could not openly attempt retaliation,
or give his countenance to hostilities,
took care to let it be understood that
nothing would be more grateful to
him than the defeat of Wood; and
Stephen Bull, an enterprising mer­
chant and seaman of London,4 having
fitted out three stout vessels, manned
by picked mariners, a body of cross-
bows, and pikemen, and various knights
who volunteered their services, pro­
ceeded with much confidence of suc­
cess against the Scottish commander.
Bull, who had intelligence that Wood
had sailed for Flanders, and was soon
expected on his voyage homeward,
directed his course to the May, a small
island in the mouth of the Firth of
Forth, about an equal distance from
the opposite shores of Fife and Lothian,
behind which he cast anchor, and,
concealed from any vessels entering
the Forth, awaited the expected prize.

3 It is probable that this first action of Sir
Andrew Wood took place some time after the
18th of February 1489.

4 I find in the valuable historical collec­
tions, entitled “Excerpta Historica,” edited
by Sir Harris Nicolas, No. I. p. 118, the
following entry in the privy purse expenses
of Henry the Seventh :—“ To Steven Bull
and Barnesfeld, seeking for Perkin, for their
costs, £1, 6s. 8d.” Perkin Warbeck, at this
time, (1498,) had eluded his keepers, and fled
to the sea-coast; and Henry, afraid of his
making his escape from the kingdom, em­
ployed Bull, probably his most active sea-
captain, to watch the coast and recapture
him. This is corroborated by the next entry :
—“ To four yeomen watching one night with
four botes, 6s. 8d,”

252                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. V.

It was not long before two vessels ap­
peared in the looked-for course off St
Abb’s Head, a promontory on the coast
of Berwickshire; and the English cap­
tain, who had seized some Scottish fish­
ing-boats with their crews, sent the
prisoners aloft to watch their approach,
and report whether it was Wood. On
their answering in the affirmative,
Bull cleared his ships for action, and
the Scottish admiral, who sailed fear­
lessly onward and little dreamt of inter­
ruption, found himself suddenly in the
presence of the enemy. He had time,
however, for the necessary orders ; and
such was the excellent discipline of
his ships, and rapidity of his prepara­
tions, that the common mischiefs of a
surprise were prevented, and his gun­
ners, pikemen, crossbows, and fire-
casters stood ready at their several
stations, when he bore down upon the
English. All this had taken place in
the early dawn of a summer morning;
and whilst Wood skilfully gained the
windward of his opponents, the sun
rose, and shining full upon them,
exhibited their large size and splendid
equipment to the best advantage.
Bull instantly opened his cannonade,
with the object of deciding the action
whilst the Scots were still at some
distance; but, from the inferior di­
mensions of their ships, the shot
passed over them and took little effect;
whilst their opponent hoisted all his
canvas, and ran close in upon the
English, casting out his grappling
hooks, and even lashing the enemy’s
ships by cables to his own. A close
and dreadful combat succeeded, in
which both parties fought with equal
spirit, so that night parted the com­
batants, and found the action unde­
cided. In the morning the trumpets
sounded, and the fight was renewed
with such determined bravery, that
the mariners, occupied wholly with
the battle, took little heed to the
management of their vessels, and per­
mitted themselves to be drifted, by a
strong ebb-tide, into the mouth of the
Tay. Crowds of men, women, and
children now flocked to the shore,
exhibiting, by their cries and gesticu­
lations, the interest they took in their

countrymen ; and at last, though with
great difficulty, the valour and supe­
rior seamanship of Wood prevailed
over his brave opponent. The three
English ships were captured and car­
ried into Dundee, whilst Bull, their
commander, was presented by Wood
to his master, King James, who re­
ceived him with much courtesy, and
after remonstrating against the injuries
inflicted by the English privateers
upon the Scottish shipping, dismissed
him without ransom, and gave the
prisoners their liberty. It is said,
however, that he at the same time
warned Henry that this liberal con­
duct could not be repeated ; and that
he trusted the lesson given to his cap­
tains would convince him that the
Scots possessed the power of defend­
ing their commerce, which they would
not scruple to exert on every occasion
where the liberties of their merchant­
men were invaded. To Wood, the
king, with the ardour and enthusiasm
for warlike renown which distin­
guished his character, extended his
special favour. When the seaman was
not engaged in his naval or commercial
duties, for the two professions of a mer­
chant and a sailor were then strictly
connected, he retained him at court-
kept him much about his person—re­
warded him by grants of lands, and
under his instructions devoted much
of his attention to the improvement of
the naval strength of his dominions.

Soon after this an extraordinary
conspiracy against the Scottish mo­
narch was fostered at the English
court, of which James and his minis­
ters appear at the moment to have
had no suspicion. Ramsay, lord Both-
well, the favourite of James the Third,
who, after the accession of his son, had
escaped to England along with the
Earl of Buchan, so lately the subject
of the royal clemency, and a person
designing himself “ Sir Thomas Tod,
of the realm of Scotland,” entered into
an agreement with Henry the Seventh,
that they would seize and deliver the
King of Scots, and his brother, the
Duke of Ross, into the hands of the
English monarch. To assist them in
this treasonable enterprise, Henry ad­

1490-1.]                                           JAMES IV.                                                 253

vanced the loan of two hundred and
sixty-six pounds, which, as he carefully
stipulated, was to be restored to him
by a certain day, and for the fulfil­
ment of this agreement Tod delivered
his son as a hostage.1 It is affirmed
in the obligation drawn up at Green­
wich, unfortunately the only public
paper which throws light upon this
dark transaction, that besides Buchan,
Bothwell, and Tod, various other per­
sons were involved in the conspiracy.
Their names certainly appeared in the
original “indentures,” but these are
now lost; and such seems to have
been the secrecy which covered the
whole transaction, that at the moment
when the English king was engaged
in bribing James’s subjects to lay vio­
lent hands upon his person, the Scot­
tish monarch had despatched the Arch­
bishop of St Andrews on an embassy
to England, and a meeting was ap­
pointed between his commissioners
and those of Henry, to make an ami­
cable arrangement regarding the mu­
tual infractions of the truces upon the
Borders, and the prolongation of the
pacific intercourse between the two

Soon after this the parliament as­
sembled at Edinburgh, and various
important measures were carried into
effect regarding the foreign alliances
of the country, and the internal ad­
ministration of the government. The
Earl of Huntly was appointed king’s
lieutenant north of the water of Esk,
till the sovereign, who was now in his
twentieth year, had reached the age
of twenty-five. It was resolved that
Hepburn, earl of Bothwell, and the
Bishop of Glasgow should be sent on
an embassy to France for the purpose
of renewing the alliance with that
kingdom, and confirming the commer­
cial privileges mutually enjoyed by
the French and the Scottish mer­
chants; after which the ambassadors
were to proceed to the court of Spain,
or other parts, to seek a bride for the
young king. An embassy was also
despatched to the court of Denmark,

1 Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xii. p. 440. April
Rotuli Scotiæ, vol. ii. p. 497.

with the object of renewing the ami­
cable commercial relations which al­
ready subsisted between Scotland and
that country; some wise but ineffec­
tual measures were attempted for the
restoration of peace and good order,
by the punishment of those who com­
mitted slaughter or rapine, and were
guilty of dismembering the king’s
lieges; enactments were renewed
against the old grievance of leagues
or bands amongst the nobles and their
feudal tenantry; and the chancellor,
with certain lords of council, or in
their absence the lords of session,
were commanded to sit for the admi­
nistration of justice thrice every year.
Attention was also paid to the interests
of the burghs. It was ordained “ that
the common good, meaning the profits
and revenues of all the royal burghs
within the realm, should be so regu­
lated as to promote the prosperity of
the town, by being spent according to
the advice of the council of the burgh
upon things necessary for its security
and increase, whilst the burgh rents,
such as lands, fishings, mills, and
farms, were not to be disposed of ex­
cept upon a three years’ lease.” At
the same time, all sheriffs, bailies, and
provosts of burghs were commanded
to take copies of the acts and statutes
now passed, which were to be openly
proclaimed within the bounds of their

Some of the consequences which
might easily have been anticipated
from the conspiracy which had placed
the young monarch upon the throne
began now to take place in Scotland.
James, as he increased in years and
understanding, became convinced that
he had been made the tool of an art­
ful and selfish faction, whose principal
object was private plunder, the pre­
servation of their own overgrown
power, and the diminution of the au­
thority of the crown. By degrees he
called around him, and restored to
places of trust and authority, the
counsellors of his late father, whom he
attached to his interests by the re­
morse which he expressed for his crime,

3 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 227.

254                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                         [Chap. V.

and the warmth, openness, and gene­
rosity of his disposition. Amongst
these advisers were some able- indivi­
duals. Andrew Wood of Large, whom
we have so lately seen victor over the
English fleet, and whose genius for
naval adventure was combined with
a powerful intellect in civil affairs,
rose gradually to be one of the most
intimate and confidential servants of
the king, and appears to have been
often consulted, especially in all his
financial concerns. Wood combined
in his character various qualities,
which to our modern judgment ap­
pear strange and inconsistent. He
was an enterprising and opulent mer­
chant, a brave warrior and skilful
naval commander, an able financier,
intimately acquainted with the man­
agement of commercial transactions,
and a stalwart feudal baron, who,
without abating anything of his pride
and his prerogative, refused not to
adopt in the management of his
estates some of those improvements
whose good effects he had observed in
his voyages and travels over various
parts of the continent. The advice of
such a counsellor was of great value
to the young monarch, and as Wood
was remarkable for his affectionate
attachment to the late king, and for
the bold and manly tone in which he
had reprobated the rebellion against
him, it was not wonderful that his
influence over the present sovereign
should be exhibited in a decided change
in the principles upon which the gov­
ernment was conducted. The leading
lords who had instigated the revolt
were treated with coldness, suspicion,
and, at last, open severity. The Earl
of Angus, from his great estates and
connexions one of the most powerful
nobles in Scotland, resented this by
passing into England, where he con­
cluded with Henry the Seventh a
secret and treasonable treaty, of which
unfortunately little but the existence
is known.1 On his return, however,
he was met by the lion herald, who
Ayloffe’s Calendars of Ancient Charters,
p. 313. A fragment of these “Articles” is
preserved amongst Rymer’s unpublished col­
lections, now in the British Museum. Henry
VII. vol. i. p. 126.

charged him in the king’s name to
enter his person in ward in his fortress
of Tantallon; 2 and soon after James
deprived him of his lands and lordship
of Liddesdale, with the strong castle
of Hermitage, which, as the price of
his pardon, he was compelled to resign
to the Earl of Bothwell, admiral of
Scotland, and warden of the west and
middle marches.3 A reward was offered
at the same time to any person who
should discover the murderers of the
late king, but as it was well known
that if this expression had been under­
stood to include the authors of the
conspiracy, the search could not have
been a protracted one, the cautious
proviso was added, that the sum was
only to be given in the event of the
informant making it certain who
were the persons who slew the king
with their own hands,” an expression
thrice repeated in the body of the
statute, and from which it may per­
haps be fairly inferred that whilst the
actual butcher of the unhappy prince
was unknown, the “heavy murmurs”
and voice of the people pointed out
some potent individuals with whom it
was certain that he was connected. It
does not appear, however, that the
hundred marks’ worth of land in fee
and heritage—the reward held out—-
was ever claimed by any one ; and to
this day the hand by which the king-
was so foully slain is unknown.

Another proof of the change of coun­
cils, and of the determination of the
sovereign to withdraw his confidence
from those who had possessed them­
selves of the supreme power imme-
diately after the battle of Sauchie, is
to be found in a complaint which was
now made regarding the disappearance
of the royal jewels and treasure. We
have already seen4 that these, a few
days after the death of the late king,
were taken possession of by the Bishop
of Glasgow, along with the Earls of
Angus and Argyle, with the intention
of being placed in the hands of faithful
persons, who were to be responsible
for their safe custody. It was now

2 Treasurers MS. Accompts, July 29,1491.

3 Mag. Sig. xii. 323, 344. March 6, 1491.
Supra, p. 245.

1491-3.]                                           JAMES IV.                                                  255

discovered, however, that a very small
part of this treasure had reached the
coffers of the king; a strict inquiry
was ordered to be instituted for the
detection of those who had stolen or
concealed it; and they to whom it had
been first intrusted were directed to
be examined before the king’s council,
so that it might be discovered how
they had parted with the treasure—
into what hands it had been delivered
—and what was its exact amount.1
Whether such measures were followed
by the desired success, seems more
than problematical.

But although all this very decidedly
demonstrated a change in the prin­
ciples upon which the government was
conducted, the party which headed the
late rebellion were still too strong, and
the young king had identified himself
too deeply with their proceedings, to
render it advisable to commence a
more serious or direct attack; and with
regard to the foreign relations of the
country, the preservation of peace with
England, and the maintenance of a
friendly intercourse with the courts
of France, Spain, Denmark, and the
Netherlands, were wisely insisted on
by the counsellors of the young mo­
narch as absolutely necessary for the
wellbeing of his kingdom. Yet, se­
cured as it was by repeated truces,
and strengthened by negotiations and
proposals of marriage for the young
monarch with some princess of the
blood-royal, the good understanding
with England could neither be cordial
nor sincere. The treasonable inter­
course which some of the most power­
ful of James’s subjects carried on with
Henry the Seventh, and the audacious
designs of seizing the king’s person,
which this monarch encouraged, if
they transpired even partially, must
have disgusted an ardent and impetu­
ous spirit, such as James, with the
crafty and dishonourable politics of
the English king; and as it is certain
that, as this period, in Scotland, the
system of employing paid spies became
prevalent, it may be conjectured that
the king was not wholly ignorant of

1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 230.

the plots in agitation against him. It
was his secret desire, therefore, al­
though not yet his declared resolution,
to break with England, and the causes
of the war which, in a few years, was
kindled between the two countries,
may be traced, with great probability,
to this period; but in the meantime
the appearance of peace was preserved,
and James assiduously devoted him­
self to the preservation of good order
throughout his dominions, and the dis­
tribution of strict and impartial jus­
tice to all classes of his subjects.

In a parliament held at Edinburgh
in the summer of the year 1493, some
important laws were passed, which
evinced the jealousy of the king re­
garding any interference with his eccle­
siastical privileges in the disposal of
church benefices, and his determina­
tion to resist all unreasonable encroach­
ments upon the part of the court of
Rome. Eight months were to be
allowed, after the occurrence of a va­
cancy in any see, for the king’s letter,
appointing a successor, to reach the
Pope; no interim promotion was to be
allowed; and any of the lieges who
were detected lending themselves or
their interest to oppose these regula­
tions, were declared guilty of treason,
No legate was to be permitted to enter
the realm, unless he was a cardinal or
a native of Scotland; and the Arch­
bishops of St Andrews and Glasgow,
who had been for some time engaged
in a violent litigation, which had been
carried on before the Papal court, and
the expense of which plea had been
attended, it is declared, with “ inesti­
mable damage to the realm,” were ex­
horted to cease from their contention
before a foreign ecclesiastical tribunal,
submitting to the decision of the king;
under the serious denunciation, that
if they demur to this proposal, their
tenants and “ mailers “ shall be inter­
dicted from paying to them their rents
till they have repented of their contu­
macy.2 The king’s orators and ambas­
sadors who were sent to Italy received
directions to exhort and entreat all his
subjects, whether of the clergy or lay-

2 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 232.

256                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                          [Chap. V.

men, who had pleas depending in the
Roman Court, to withdraw their liti­
gation, and to return, like dutiful sub­
jects, to their own country, bringing
with them their bulls, writs, and other
muniments, after which the monarch
undertook that justice should be ad­
ministered to them by their ordinary
judge within whose jurisdiction the
cause lay, and over whose conduct, in
delivering an impartial decision, he
engaged to have a strict superintend­
ence. As the king had now attained
majority, and his counsellors were
anxious that the wild and capricious
passions in which his youth had
hitherto been passed should, if pos­
sible, be restrained by a legitimate
union, the proposal was renewed of
sending an embassy abroad to treat in
France, or in any other realm where
it might be judged expedient, of the
king’s marriage; and in addition to
the tax already agreed to by the clergy,
barons, and commissaries of the burghs
for this purpose, the three estates con­
sented to give a thousand pounds ad­
ditional, “ for the honourable hame-
bringing of a queen.”

Some enactments were also passed
at this time, which evinced a faint
dawning of a more liberal spirit of
commercial legislation than had yet
appeared in parliament. The deacons,
and head craftsmen of particular trades,
were in the custom of “ imposing a
taxation penny upon men of the same
craft coming to market on the Mon­
days,” by which it necessarily followed
that the prices demanded for the ar­
ticles were higher than those at which
they had afforded to sell them previ­
ous to such an imposition. The tax
was therefore commanded to be dis­
continued, so that the craftsmen, with­
out interference upon the part of the
deacons of the burghs, might be at
liberty to sell their commodities at
the usual prices. The parliament, how­
ever, proceeded too far, when they abo­
lished, for a year to come, the office of
deacons of men of craft in burghs, re­
stricting their authority to the simple
examination of the sufficiency and fine­
ness of the work executed by the arti­
sans of the same trade. It had been

found, it was declared, that the autho­
rity of these officers, and the by-laws
which they enacted, were the cause of
great trouble in the burghs, in leading
to convocations and “ rysing “ of the
king’s lieges, in increasing the prices
of labour, and encouraging those com­
binations for the purpose of compelling
a consent to their unreasonable de­
mands, from which we have sometimes
seen such injurious effects in our own
days. It was declared, accordingly,
that all “ makers and users of these
statutes were to be prosecuted as op­
pressors of the king’s lieges.” Another
grievance was removed, which bore
heavily upon the agricultural pros­
perity of the country. Hitherto the
flour brought to the various markets
throughout the kingdom, or to the
port of Leith, had been subjected to
the payment of a certain tax or “ mul­
ture,” in addition to the local tax for
grinding, which, by the feudal law, it
was bound to pay to the barony mill
where it had been ground. This se­
vere double duty was now removed;
and it was declared that for the future
all flour should be permitted to be
brought to market, and sold without
payment of any new taxation, and that
all manner of persons should be free
to bring and sell their victual through­
out the land, all the days of the week,
as well as on the market-days.1

An act followed, which evinced in
the legislature an awakening interest
in the fishery,—a branch of national
wealth from which, under proper cul­
tivation, the richest fruits might be
expected, but which had hitherto
been unwisely neglected. It was
enacted that, “ considering the great
and innumerable riches “ that is lost
for want of ships and boats, with
their appropriate nets and tackling,
which are found in all other realms
commanding a great extent of sea-
coast, the parliament judged it proper
that ships and “ buschis,” or fishing-
boats, should be built in all burghs
and fishing-towns within the realm,
so that they might be ready to pro­
ceed to the fishery before Fastren’s

1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 234.

1493-4.]                                     JAMES IV.                                            257

Even following. These boats were
directed to be of twenty tons, and the
burghs and sea-coast towns were to
be obliged to build and rig them out,
according to their substance, with all
conveniences for the taking of large
and small fish. The officers in the
burghs and regalities were ordered at
the same time to apprehend and press
on board these vessels all “ stark idle
men,” under pain of their being ban­
ished in case of refusal.

Whilst the parliament was thus se­
vere upon the idle and the dissolute
who refused to submit to all regular
labour, it is pleasing to discern a
glimpse of. sympathy for the un­
merited suffering and hard condition
of the great body of the lower orders
of the people. In a former statute a
severe fine had been imposed upon
all persons who were detected setting
fire to the heather or gorse in which
the birds of game had their nests,—a
practice often absolutely necessary for
the success of any attempt at agricul­
tural improvement, but encroaching
upon that feudal mania for hunting
and hawking which, since the period
of the Norman Conquest, had infected
the nobles of Britain, and grievously
abridged the rights and liberties of
the subject. It was now discovered
that the persons detected in mure­
burning “ were not the real offenders.
“ It was found,'’ to use the expressive
words of the statute, “ that the poor
bodies that dwelt in ’ malings,’ or
upon small divisions of land rented
to them by their landlords, in setting
fire to the gorse, were simply obeying
the bidding of their masters; “ and in
consequence of this the fine was hence­
forth directed to be levied, not on this
large and meritorious class, but upon
the proprietors of the “ maling “
which they laboured.1

Some regulations regarding the
coinage and importation of bullion,
and an enactment by which the high
and disproportionate prices which
were charged by craftsmen and vic­
tuallers were ordered to be reduced
to a more equitable standard, termi-

1 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 235.


nated the resolutions of the three
estates in this parliament.2

Hitherto there is reason to believe
that the great majority of the barons
were deplorably ignorant, and careless
of all liberal education. A better
spirit, however, now appeared; and
the invention of printing, with the
revival of classical learning, causes
which had long been operating the
happiest effects in the continental na­
tions, began, from their frequent com-
munication with Scotland, to be per­
ceptible in producing the moral and
intellectual improvement of that coun­
try. In a parliament held three years
subsequent to that which has just
been noticed,3 it was ordered that,
throughout the kingdom, all barons
and freeholders, whose fortunes per­
mitted it, should send their sons to
the schools as soon as they were eight
or nine years old, to remain there until
they had attained a competent know­
ledge of the Latin tongue; after which,
they were directed to place them, for
the space of three years, as pupils
in the seminaries of art and law, so
that they might be instructed in the
knowledge of the laws, and fitted as
sheriffs and ordinary judges, to admi­
nister justice, under the king’s high­
ness, throughout the realm; whilst,
it is added, by this provision the
“ poor people of the land will not
be obliged, in every trifling offence,
to seek redress from the king’s prin­
cipal council.”

For a considerable time past the
condition of the Highlands, and the
reduction of such wild and remote
districts under a more regular form
of government than that to which
they had hitherto submitted, appears
to have been a subject which occu­
pied a large share of the attention and
anxiety of the sovereign. To attach
to his interest the principal chiefs of
these provinces; to overawe and sub­
due the petty princes who affected
independence; to carry into their
territories, hitherto too exclusively go­
verned by their own capricious or ty-

2 Acts of the Parliament of Scotland, vol.
ii. p. 238.

3 Parliament, June 13, 1496.

258                                HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                      [Chaf. V

rannical institutions, the same system
of a severe, but regular and rapid ad­
ministration of civil and criminal jus­
tice, which had been established in his
Lowland dominions, was the laudable
object of the king; and for this pur­
pose he succeeded, with that energy
and activity which remarkably distin­
guished him, in opening up an inter­
course with many of the leading men
in the northern counties. With the
Captain of the clan Chattan, Duncan
Macintosh; with Ewan, the son of
Alan, Captain of the clan Cameron;
with Campbell of Glenurcha; the
Macgilleouns of Dowart and Loch-
buy ; Mackane of Ardnamurchan;
the Lairds of Mackenzie and Grant;
and the Earl of Huntly, a baron of
the most extensive power in those
northern districts—he appears to have
been in habits of constant and regular
communication, rewarding them by
presents, in the shape either of money
or of grants of land, and securing their
services in reducing to obedience such
of their fellow-chieftains as proved
contumacious, or actually rose into
rebellion.1 But James was not con­
tent with this. He rightly judged
that the personal presence of the
sovereign in those distant parts of
his dominions would be attended with
salutary effects; and in 1490, on two
different occasions, he rode, accom­
panied by his chief counsellors and
the lords of his household, from Perth
across the “ Mounth,'’ the term ap­
plied to the extensive chain of moun­
tains which extends across the coun­
try, from the border of the Mearns to
the head of Loch Rannoch. In 1493,
although much occupied with other
cares and concerns, he found time to
penetrate twice into the Highlands,
proceeding as far as Dunstaffhage and
Mingarry in Ardnamurchan,2 and in
the succeeding year such was the in-

1 Treasurer’s MS. Accompts, Nov. 21, 1488.
“ Item, til ane man to passe to the lard of
Frauchie [Grant] for a tratoure he tuke, x
sch.” Ibid. September 19,1489. Ibid. Octo­
ber 22, 1489 ; November 10, 1489 ; August
16,1490 ; August 26, 1492 ; August 18,1493 ;
January 5, 1493.

2 Mag. Sig. xiii. 200. August 18, 1493.
Ibid. xiii. 104. October 25, 1493.

defatigable activity with which he
executed his public duties, that he
thrice visited the Isles.3 The first of
these voyages, which took place in
April and May, was conducted with
great state. It afforded the youthful
monarch an opportunity of combining
business and amusement, of gratifying
his passion for sailing and hunting, of
investigating the state of the fisheries,
of fitting out his barges for defence as
well as pleasure, and of inducing his
nobles to build and furnish, at their
own expense, vessels in which they
might accompany their sovereign. It
had the effect also of impressing upon
the inhabitants of the Isles a salutary
idea of the wealth, grandeur, and mili­
tary power of the king. The rapidity
with which he travelled from place to
place, the success and expedition with
which he punished all who dared to
oppose him, his generosity to his
friends and attendants, and his gay
and condescending familiarity with the
lower classes of his subjects, all com­
bined to increase his popularity, and
to consolidate and unite, by the bonds
of equal laws and affectionate alle­
giance, the remotest parts of the

At Tarbet, in Cantire, he repaired
the fort originally built by Bruce, and
established an emporium for his ship­
ping, transporting thither his artillery,
laying in a stock of gunpowder, and
carrying along with him his master-
gunners, in whose training and prac­
tice he appears, from the payments in
the treasurers books, to have busied
himself with much perseverance and
enthusiasm.4 These warlike measures
were generally attended with the best
effects; most of the chieftains readily
submitted to a prince who could carry
hostilities within a few days into the
heart of their country, and attack
them in their island fastnesses with a
force which they found it vain to re­
sist ; one only, Sir John of the Isles,

3 Treasurers Accounts, “To J. M’chadame,
after Pasche, the time that the king past to
the Isles, 3½ elns rowane tany iii lb. xvii
shillings.” April 1494.

4 Treasurers Accounts, July 5—July 24,

1494.]                                               JAMES IV.                                                  259

had the folly to defy the royal ven­
geance, ungrateful for that repeated
lenity with which his treasons had
been already pardoned. His great
power on the Isles probably induced
him to believe that the king would
not venture to drive him to extremi­
ties ; but in this he was disappointed.
James instantly summoned him to
stand his trial for treason; and in a
parliament, which assembled at Edin­
burgh soon after the king’s return
from the north, this formidable rebel
was stripped of his power, and his
lands and possessions forfeited to the

A singular and interesting episode
in the history of Scotland now pre­
sents itself in the connexion of James
the Fourth with that mysterious im­
postor, Perkin Warbeck; and there
seems to be a strong presumption, al­
most amounting to proof, that the
plots of the Duchess of Burgundy re­
ceived the countenance and support of
the Scottish monarch at a much earlier
period than is commonly assigned by
the popular historians of either coun­
try.2 One of the most remarkable
features in the government of the
Scottish monarch, and one which strik­
ingly points out the rising influence
and importance of the kingdom, was
the constant and intimate communi­
cation which he maintained with the
continent. With France, Spain, Por­
tugal, Denmark, and Flanders, the in­
tercourse was as regular and uninter­
rupted, not only in the more solemn
way of embassies, but by heralds, en­
voys, and merchants, as that carried
on with England; and with the Duchess
of Burgundy, the inveterate enemy of
Henry the Seventh and the house of

1 Treasurer's Accounts, August 24, 1494.
“ Item, to summon Sir John of the Isles, of
treason in Kintire, and for the expense of
witnesses, vi lb. xiii sh. iiii d.” This, accord­
ing to Mr Gregory, was Sir John, called “ Ca-
noch” or the handsome, of Isla and Cantire,
and Lord of the (Hens in Ireland—executed
afterwards at Edinburgh about the year 1500.

2 Warbeck’s connexion with James is gene­
rally believed to have commenced shortly be­
fore his alleged arrival in Scotland, in 1496.
It is certain, however, that he arrived there
in 1495, and he seems to have been long in
secret treaty with James.

Lancaster, James had established a
secret correspondence only five months
after his accession to the throne. It
is well known that the plots of this
enterprising woman were chiefly fos­
tered by her friends and emissaries in
Ireland ; and when we find, as early
as the 4th of November 1488, Sir
Richard Hardelston and Richard Lude-
lay de Ireland proceeding on a mission
to the Scottish court from this prin­
cess, it is difficult to resist the con­
clusion that James was well aware of
her intended conspiracy, although
whether he was admitted into the
secret of the imposition attempted to
be practised upon England is not
easily discoverable.3 This accession
to the plot is corroborated by other
strong facts. In the course of the
same month, in which the first en­
voys arrived, James received letters
from the duchess by an English herald;
and towards the conclusion of the year
in which this intercourse took place,
the Scottish monarch was visited by
a herald from Ireland, who was imme­
diately despatched upon a private
mission to the Duchess of Burgundy,
whilst a pursuivant was sent from
Scotland to communicate with certain
individuals in England, whose names
do not appear.4 It is well known that
the conspiracy was encouraged by
Charles the Eighth of France, who in­
vited Perkin into his kingdom, and
received him with high distinction;
whilst the Earl of Bothwell, one of
James’s principal favourites and coun­
sellors, repaired soon after to that

3 Mag. Sig. xii. 59. Nov. 4, 1488. Safe-
conduct by James the Fourth at Edinburgh
to Richard Hardelstoun, knight, and Richard
Ludelay de Ireland, Englishmen, with forty
persons, at the request of Dame Margaret,
duchess of Burgundy.

4 Treasurer's Accounts, Nov. 26,1488. “To
an English herald, that came with letters
from the Dutchess of Burgundy, x lb.” Again,
in Treasurer's Accounts, September 21, 1489,
“ Item, to Rowland Robyson,” (this person
was afterwards in the intimate confidence of
Perkin,) “that brought the letters to the king
from the Dutchess of Burgundy, v lb. viii sh.”
Ibid. Feb. 27, 1489. “Item, to the harrot
that came furth of Ireland, and past to the
Dutchess of Burgundy, xviii lb. Item, to the
Scottis bute persyvant that past the same
time in England, xvii lb. viii sh.”

260                                   HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                         [Chap. V.

court, and remained for some months
engaged in these private negotiations.
Warbeck was at this time treated like
a prince. A guard of honour was ap­
pointed to wait upon his person, com­
manded by Monipenny Sieur de Con-
cressault, a Scotsman by descent, but
whose family had been long settled in
France, and who, not long after, pro­
ceeded as ambassador to Scotland from
the court of France.1

Towards the conclusion of the year
1491, the intercourse, which hitherto
had been involved in great obscurity,
became more open and avowed. War-
beck, who was then in Ireland, where
he had been joined by the Earl of
Desmond, despatched one of his English
followers, named Edward Ormond, to
the Scottish court with letters for the
king, and the readiness with which
James entertained the communication,
although deeply engaged with the in­
ternal administration of his own do­
minions, evinces a prior intimacy with
the conspiracy and its authors.2 The
intrigues, however, with which this
extraordinary person was then occu­
pied in France, England, and Flanders,
left him little time to follow out his
correspondence with the Scottish mon­
arch, and it was not till the year 1494
that he renewed his intercourse with
James. On the 6th of November of
that year the king received intima­
tion from the Duchess of Burgundy,
that the “ Prince of England,” the
name by which he is mentioned in
the ancient record which informs
us of this fact, was about to visit
Scotland; and preparations for his
honourable reception were commenced
at Stirling.3

Henry, however, there is reason to
believe, was well aware of these in­
trigues in Scotland. Various Scots-

1 Bacon’s Life of Henry VII. Apud Ken­
net, vol. i. v. 607. Pinkerton, vol. ii.
p. 28.

2 Treasurer's Books, March 2,1491. “Given
at the king’s command to an Englishman,
called Edward Ormond, that brought letters
forth of Ireland fra King Edward’s son and
the Earl of Desmond, ix lb.”

3 “Item, for carriage of the arras work
forth of Edinburgh to Stirling, for receiving
the Prince of England, xxx sh.” Treasurer's
Books, November 6, 1494.

men, amongst the rest a Scottish knight
of Rhodes, probably Sir John Knollis,
who had lately passed into England,
and Ramsay, lord Both well, the favour­
ite of James the Third, were in the
pay of the English king;4 whilst in
Flanders, Lord Clifford, who had at
first warmly embraced the cause of
the counterfeit prince, was corrupted
by a large bribe; and after amusing
his friends and adherents by a series
of negotiations which drew into the
plot some of the ancient and noble
families of England, concluded his
base proceedings by betraying them to
the English monarch. This discovery
was a fatal blow to the Yorkists. Their
project was probably to have proclaim ed
Perkin in England, whilst his numer­
ous adherents engaged to rise in Ire­
land; and the Scottish monarch was
to break at the head of his army across
the Borders, and compel Henry to
divide his force. But the Border chiefs,
impatient for war, invaded England
too soon ; and it happened, unfortun­
ately for Warbeck, that whilst a
tumultuous force, including the Arm­
strongs, Elwalds, Crossars, Wighams,
Nyksons, and Henrisons, penetrated
into Northumberland,5 with the hope
of promoting a rising in favour of the
asserted Duke of York, the treachery
of Clifford had revealed the whole
particulars of the conspiracy; and the
apprehension and execution of the
ringleaders struck such terror into the
nation, that the cause of Perkin in
that country was for the present con­
sidered hopeless.

He had still, however, to look to
Ireland and Scotland. Amongst the
Irish the affection for the house of
York, and the belief in the reality of
his pretensions, was exceedingly strong.
It is difficult, indeed, to discover
whether the Scottish king was equally
credulous; yet, either as a believer or
a politician, James determined to sup­
port the sinking fortunes of the coun­
terfeit prince. For this purpose an

4 Nicolas, Excerpta Historica, part i. p. 93.

5 This raid or invasion, which is unknown
to our historians, is mentioned nowhere but
in the record of justiciary, Nov. 1493. Mr
Stirling’s MS. Chron. Notes, pp. 50, 55.

1494-7.]                                          JAMES IV.                                                  261

intercourse was opened up with Ire­
land, and O’Donnel, prince of Tirconnel,
one of the most powerful chiefs in
that country, repaired to the Scottish
court, where he was received by the
king with great state and distinction.1
The particulars of their conferences
are unfortunately lost to history; but
there can be little doubt that they re­
lated to the efforts which James had
determined to make for the restoration
of the last descendant of the house of
York to the throne of his alleged an­
cestors. At this time war appears to
have been resolved on; and although
Henry, justly alarmed by the state
of his kingdom, still torn by public
discontent and secret conspiracy, en­
deavoured to avert the storm by pro­
posals for the marriage of James with
his daughter the Princess Margaret,2
this monarch rejected the alliance with
coldness; and resolved that he who
had not scrupled to sow treason amongst
his barons, and to lay plots for the
seizure of his person, should at length
feel the weight of his resentment.

Accordingly, in the month of No­
vember 1495, Warbeck, under the
title of Prince Richard of England,
was received with royal honours at
the palace of Stirling;3 and whatever
scepticism James may hitherto have
indulged in, there is certainly strong
ground to believe that the art of this
accomplished impostor, his noble ap­
pearance, the grace and unaffected
dignity of his manners, and the air of
mystery and romance which his misfor­
tunes had thrown around him, contri­
buted to persuade the king of the
identity of his person, and the justice
of his claim upon the throne of Eng­
land. He was welcomed into Scotland
with great state and rejoicing. The
king addressed him as “cousin,” and

1 Treasurer's Accounts. Sub anno 1494.
But without any further date. " Item, passing
with lettres in the east and south-landis, for
the receiving of great Odonell, x shillings.
Item, to Master Alexr Schawes expenses pass­
ing from the toun of Air to Edinburgh for the
cupboard, and remaining there upon the
king’s clothing, to the receiving of Odonnell,
xx shillings.”

2  Rymer, Fœdera, vol. xii. p. 572.

3 Treasurer's Accompts, November 6, 1495.
He arrived at Stirling, November 20.

publicly countenanced his title to the
crown. Tournaments and other courtly
festivals were held in honour of his
arrival; and James, accompanied by
his nobility, conducted him in a pro­
gress through his dominions, in which,
by his handsome person and popular
manners, he conciliated to himself the
admiration of the people. But this
was not all. The Scottish monarch
bestowed upon his new ally the hand
of Catherine Gordon, daughter of the
Earl of Huntly, a lady of extraordinary
beauty and accomplishments, who, by
her mother, the daughter of James the
First, was nearly related to the royal
family,—a step which appears to guar­
antee the sincerity of James’s present
belief in the reality of his pretensions.
More serious measures were now
resorted to, and a general muster of
the military force of the kingdom was
ordered by “ letters of weapon-schaw-
ings,” which were followed by an order
to the whole body of the lieges, includ­
ing the men of the Isles, to meet the
king at Lauder. A communication at
the same time took place between the
Irish and Anglo-Irish barons who sup­
ported in that island the cause of Per-
kin;4 the king himself rode through
the country with his usual activity,
superintending the equipment of the
rude train of artillery, which had to
be collected from various forts and
castles;5 Andrew Wood of Largo was
despatched into the north with letters
to the barons of that district; and all
the preparations having been com­
pleted, the young monarch placed
himself at the head of his army. He
was accompanied by Warbeck, who,

4 Treasurer's Accompts, June 4,1496. Ibid.
June 29.

5 Ibid. Sept. 1, 1496. Ibid. May 3. Ibid.
May 10. “Item, to the man that gydit the
king to Drymmyne” (Drummond castle, in
Strathern) “ that night, viii d. May 10, Item,
to the king in Strivelin, to play at the cach.
August 8, Item, to the man that castis the
brazen chambers to the gun, xxviii sh. Item,
Sept. 1, to John Lamb of Leith, for xxxvi gun-
chambers, and for nykkis and bandis to ye
gunnis, and for iron graith to the brazen gun,
and lokkis, finger and boltis to the bombards
that were in Leith. Sept. 9, For ane elne, half
a quartere, and a nail of double red taffety to
the Duke of York’s (Perkin Warbeck) banner,
for the elne, xviii sh.”

262                                     HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                        [Chap. V.

adopting the title of the Duke of
York, was treated with distinguished
honours, and equipped for war with a
personal magnificence almost equal to
that of the king. At this moment,
Roderic de Lalain, with two ships,
which bore a force of sixty German
men-at-arms, arrived from Flanders,
bringing with him, from the Duchess
of Burgundy, arms, harness, crossbows,
and other necessary military stores;
whilst there landed at St Andrews, on
a mission from Charles the Eighth, the
Lord of Concressault, who had formerly
commanded Perkin’s body­guard in
France.1 The very selection of so in­
timate a friend of the counterfeit
prince, indicated a secret disposition
to favour his cause ; and although the
French monarch publicly proposed, by
his ambassador, that he should be per­
mitted to act as a mediator between
Henry and the Scottish king, it is cer­
tain that he secretly encouraged the
invasion. At the same time, many of
the English, chiefly of the Border
barons, resorted to Perkin from Ber­
wick and Carlisle; the Nevilles, Dacres,
Skeltons, Lovels, and Herons, were in
constant communication with him;
and it was confidently expected by the
young King of Scots, that the disposi­
tion in his favour would become gene­
ral the moment he penetrated into

But James, whose rash and over­
bearing temper often misled his judg­
ment, was little aware of the means
which Henry had sagaciously adopted
to defeat the threatened invasion.
With the Scottish people, who cared
little for the pretensions of the house
of York, or the cause of the mysterious
stranger, the war was unpopular; and
in Bothwell, the favourite of James
the Third, who had been suffered by
his son to remain in Scotland, Henry
possessed an active and able partisan.
By his means, the king’s brother, the
Duke of Ross, the Earl of Buchan, and
the Bishop of Moray were induced to
promise Henry their utmost assistance

1 Supra, p. 260.

2 Letters from Ramsay, lord Bothwell, to
Henry the Seventh, first published by Pinker-
ton, from the originals in the British Mu­
seum. Pinkerton’s Hist. vol. ii. pp. 438, 443.

in defeating the object of the invasion;
the young prince even engaged to place
himself under the protection of the
King of England, the moment his
royal brother crossed the Borders;
and a plot for the seizure of Warbeck,
at night, in his tent, was, at Henry’s
suggestion, entered into between
Buchan, Bothwell, and Wyat, an Eng­
lish envoy, which, probably, only failed
from the vigilance of the royal guard
whom James had directed to keep
watch round the pavilion.

Whilst many of the most powerful
Scottish barons thus secretly lent
themselves to Henry, and remained
with the army only to betray it, others,
who had been the friends and coun­
sellors of his father, anxiously laboured
to dissuade James from carrying hos­
tilities to extremity; but the glory of
restoring an unfortunate prince, the
last of a noble race, to his hereditary
throne; the recovery of Berwick, which
he engaged to place in the hands of
the Scottish king; and the sum of one
thousand marks, which he promised to
advance for the expenses of the war,
were motives too powerful to be re­
sisted by the young monarch; and,
after a general muster of his army at
Ellame Kirk, within a few miles of
the English Border, he declared war,
and invaded England. At this time
Warbeck addressed a public declara­
tion to his subjects, in the name of
Richard, duke of York, true inheritor
of the crown of England. He branded
Henry as a usurper—accused him of
the murder of Sir William Stanley,
Sir Simon Montfort, and others of the
ancient barons and nobility—of having
invaded the liberties and franchises of
the Church—and of having pillaged the
people by heavy aids and unjust taxes.
He pledged his word to remove these
illegal impositions, to maintain unin­
jured the rights of the Church, the
privileges of the nobles, the charters of
the corporations, with the commerce
and manufactures of the country; and
he concluded by setting a reward of one
thousand pounds on Henry’s head.

This proclamation was judiciously
drawn up, yet it gained no proselytes,
and James, who had expected a very

1497.]                                             JAMES IV.                                                   263

different result, was mortified to find
that the consequences which had been
predicted by his wisest counsellors
were speedily realised. So long as
Warbeck attempted to assert his pre­
tended rights to the throne by the
assistance of the English, whom he
claimed as his own subjects, he had
some chance of success; but such was
still the hatred between the two na­
tions, that the fact of his appearance
at the head of a Scottish army at once
destroyed all sympathy and affection
for his cause. Instead of a general
rising of the people, the Scottish mon­
arch found that the English Border
barons who had joined him were
avoided as traitors and renegades, and
the large force of Germans, French,
and Flemish volunteers, who marched
along with the army, only increased
the odium against the impostor, whilst
they refused to co-operate cordially
with their allies. James, however,
held his desolating progress through
Northumberland, and incensed at the
failure of his scheme, and the disap­
pointment of his hopes, with a cruel
and short-sighted policy, indulged his
revenge by delivering over the country
to indiscriminate plunder. It is said
that Warbeck generously and warmly
remonstrated against such a mode of
making war, declaring that he would
rather renounce the crown than gain it
at the expense of so much misery : to
which James coldly replied, that his
cousin of York seemed to him too soli­
citous for the welfare of a nation which
hesitated to acknowledge him either as
a king or a subject,—a severe retort,
evincing very unequivocally that the
ardour of the monarch for the main
object of the war had experienced a
sudden and effectual check.1 The ap­
proach, however, of an English army,
the scarcity of provisions in an ex­
hausted country, and the late season
of the year, were more efficacious than
the arguments of the pretended prince;
and the Scottish king, after an expedi­
tion which had been preceded by many
boastful and expensive preparations,
retreated without hazarding a battle,

1 Carte, Hist, of England, vol. ii. pp. 848,

and regained his own dominions. Here,
in the society of his fair mistress, the
Lady Drummond, and surrounded by
the flatterers and favourites who
thronged his gay and dissipated court,
he soon forgot his ambitious designs,
and appeared disposed to abandon, for
the present, all idea of supporting the
pretensions of Warbeck to the throne
of England.

But the flame of war, once kindled
between the two countries, was not so
easily extinguished. The Borderers
on either side had tasted the sweets of
plunder, and the excitation of mutual
hostility. An inroad by the Homes,
which took place even in the heart of
winter, again carried havoc into Eng­
land; and Henry, whose successes
against his domestic enemies had now
seated him firmly upon the throne,
commanded Lord Dacre, his warden of
the west marches, to assemble the
whole power of these districts, and to
retaliate by an invasion into Scotland.
The sagacious monarch, however, soon
discovered, by those methods of ob­
taining secret information, of which he
so constantly availed himself, that
James’s passion for military renown,
and his solicitude in the cause, had
greatly diminished; and although hos­
tilities recommenced in the summer,
and a conflict took place at Dunse,
the war evidently languished. The
English monarch began to renew his
negotiations for peace; and his pro­
posals were repeated for a marriage
between the young King of Scots
and his daughter the Princess Mar­

James, however, although disposed
to listen to these overtures, was too
generous to entertain for a moment
Henry’s proposal that Perkin should
be abandoned, and delivered into his
hands. Yet the expenses incurred by
his stay in Scotland, where he was
maintained with a state and dignity
in every way befitting his alleged rank,
were necessarily great.2 His servants
and attendants, and those of his wife,

2 Treasurer's Books, May 10, 1497, “ Item,
Giffin to Rolland Robysonn for his Maister
(Zorkes) months pensionne, lcxii lb.”—York
here means Perkin Warbeck.

264                                    HISTORY OF SCOTLAND.                      [Chap. VI.

the Lady Catherine Gordon, who took
the title of Duchess of York, were all
supported by the king; and the limited
exchequer of the country could ill bear
these heavy drains, in addition to the
disbursement of a monarch, whose
habits were unusually profuse, and who
was frequently obliged to coin his per­
sonal ornaments, that he might procure
money for the demands of pleasure,
or the more serious urgencies of the
state.1 In such circumstances, it
seemed to the king the best policy to
continue the demonstrations of war for
some time, without any intention of
pushing it to extremities, whilst, under
cover of these hostilities, Warbeck
should be suffered quietly to leave
Scotland. James accordingly again
advanced into England, accompanied
by a considerable train of artillery, in
which that large piece of ordnance,
still preserved in the castle of Edin­
burgh, and known by the familiar
name of Mons Meg, made a conspicuous
appearance.2 Meanwhile, during his
absence with the army, preparations
were secretly made for the embarka­
tion of Warbeck. A ship, commanded
by Robert Barton, a name destined to

become afterwards illustrious in the
naval history of the country, was or­
dered to be got ready at Ayr, and thi­
ther this mysterious and unfortunate
adventurer repaired. He was accom­
panied by his wife, who continued his
faithful companion amid every future
reverse of fortune, and attended by a
body of thirty horse.3 In this last
scene of his connexion with Scotland,
nothing occurred which evinced upon
the part of James any change of opi­
nion regarding the reality of his rank
and pretensions. He and his beautiful
consort preserved their titles as Duke
and Duchess of York. The vessel
which carried them to the continent
was equipped at great expense, com­
manded by one of the most skilful
seamen in the kingdom, and even the
minutest circumstances which could
affect their accommodation and com­
fort were not forgotten by the watchful
and generous anxiety of the monarch,
who had been their protector till the
cause seemed hopeless. At last, all
being in readiness, the ship weighed
anchor on the 6th of July 1497, and
Warbeck and his fortunes bade adieu
to Scotland for ever.4

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