By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: James VI and the Gowrie Mystery
Author: Lang, Andrew, 1844-1912
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "James VI and the Gowrie Mystery" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.

Transcribed from the 1902 Longmans, Green, and Co. edition by David
Price, email ccx074@pglaf.org

        [Picture: The Gowrie Coat of Arms.  In the ‘Workman’ MS.]

                                 JAMES VI
                            THE GOWRIE MYSTERY

                                * * * * *

                               ANDREW LANG

                                * * * * *

                         AND OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS

                                * * * * *

                         LONGMANS, GREEN, AND CO.
                        39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON
                           NEW YORK AND BOMBAY

                           All rights reserved

                                * * * * *

                               THIS INQUIRY
                         IS GRATEFULLY DEDICATED


An old Scottish lady, four generations ago, used to say, ‘It is a great
comfort to think that, at the Day of Judgment, we shall know the whole
truth about the Gowrie Conspiracy at last.’  Since the author, as a
child, read ‘The Tales of a Grandfather,’ and shared King Jamie’s
disappointment when there was no pot of gold, but an armed man, in the
turret, he had supposed that we do know all about the Gowrie Conspiracy,
that it was a plot to capture the King, carry him to Fastcastle, and ‘see
how the country would take it,’ as in the case of the Gunpowder Plot.
But just as Father Gerard has tried to show that the Gunpowder affair may
have been Cecil’s plot, so modern historians doubt whether the Gowrie
mystery was not a conspiracy by King James himself.  Mr. Hume Brown
appears rather to lean to this opinion, in the second volume of his
‘History of Scotland,’ and Dr. Masson, in his valuable edition of the
‘Register of the Privy Council,’ is also dubious.  Mr. Louis Barbé, in
his ‘Tragedy of Gowrie House,’ holds a brief against the King.  Thus I
have been tempted to study this ‘auld misterie’ afresh, and have
convinced myself that such historians as Sir Walter Scott, Mr. Frazer
Tytler, and Mr. Hill Burton were not wrong; the plot was not the King’s
conspiracy, but the desperate venture of two very young men.  The precise
object remains obscure in detail, but the purpose was probably to see how
a deeply discontented Kirk and country ‘would take it.’

In working at this fascinatingly mysterious puzzle, I have made use of
manuscript materials hitherto uncited.  The most curious of these, the
examinations and documents of the ‘country writer,’ Sprot, had been
briefly summarised in Sir William Fraser’s ‘Memorials of the Earls of
Haddington.’  My attention was drawn to this source by the Rev. John
Anderson, of the General Register House, who aided Sir William Fraser in
the compilation of his book.  The Earl of Haddington generously permitted
me to have copies made of the documents, which Lady Cecily
Baillie-Hamilton was kind enough to search for and rediscover in an
enormous mass of documents bequeathed by the learned first Earl.

On reading the Calendars of the Hatfield MSS. I had observed that several
letters by the possible conspirator, Logan of Restalrig, were in the
possession of the Marquis of Salisbury, who was good enough to permit
photographs of some specimens to be taken.  These were compared, by Mr.
Anderson, with the alleged plot-letters of Logan at Edinburgh; while
photographs of the plot-letters were compared with Logan’s authentic
letters at Hatfield, by Mr. Gunton, to whose acuteness and energy I owe
the greatest gratitude.  The results of the comparison settle the riddle
of three centuries.

The other hitherto unused manuscripts are in no more recondite place than
the Record Office in London, and I do not know how they managed to escape
the notice of previous writers on the subject.  To Dr. Masson’s ‘Register
of the Privy Council’ I am indebted for the sequel of the curious
adventure of Mr. Robert Oliphant, whose part in the mystery, hitherto
overlooked, is decisive, if we accept the evidence—a point on which the
reader must form his own opinion.  For copies made at the Record Office I
have to thank the care and accuracy of Miss E. M. Thompson.

To Mr. Anderson’s learning and zest in this ‘longest and sorest chase’
(as King James called his hunt on the morning of the fatal August 5) I am
under the deepest obligations.  The allurements of a romantic conclusion
have never tempted him to leave the strait path of historical

I have also to thank Mr. Henry Paton for his careful copies of the
Haddington MSS., extracts from the Treasurer’s accounts, and other

For permission to reproduce the picture of Fastcastle by the Rev. Mr.
Thomson of Duddingston, I have to thank the kindness of Mrs.
Blackwood-Porter.  The painting, probably of about 1820, when compared
with the photograph of to-day, shows the destruction wrought by wind and
weather in the old fortalice.

My obligations to Sir James Balfour Paul (Lyon King of Arms) for
information on points of Heraldry ought to be gratefully acknowledged.

Since this book was written, the author has had an opportunity to read an
Apology for the Ruthvens by the late Andrew Bisset.  This treatise is apt
to escape observation: it is entitled ‘Sir Walter Scott,’ and occupies
pp. 172–303 in ‘Essays on Historical Truth,’ long out of print. {0a}  On
many points Mr. Bisset agreed with Mr. Barbé in his ‘Tragedy of Gowrie
House,’ and my replies to Mr. Barbé serve for his predecessor.  But Mr.
Bisset found no evidence that the King had formed a plot against Gowrie.
By a modification of the contemporary conjecture of Sir William Bowes he
suggested that a brawl between the King and the Master of Ruthven
occurred in the turret, occasioned by an atrocious insult offered to the
Master by the King.  This hypothesis, for various reasons, does not
deserve discussion.  Mr. Bisset appeared to attribute the Sprot papers to
the combined authorship of the King and Sir Thomas Hamilton: which our
new materials disprove.  A critic who, like Mr. Bisset, accused the King
of poisoning Prince Henry, and many other persons, was not an
unprejudiced historian.


INTRODUCTION                                                      vii
        I.  THE MYSTERY AND THE EVIDENCE                            1
       II.  THE SLAUGHTER OF THE RUTHVENS                          11
      III.  THE KING’S OWN NARRATIVE                               35
       IV.  THE KING’S NARRATIVE.  II                              55
        V.  HENDERSON’S NARRATIVE                                  60
       VI.  THE STRANGE CASE OF MR. ROBERT OLIPHANT                71
     VIII.  THE THEORY OF AN ACCIDENTAL BRAWL                      94
       IX.  CONTEMPORARY CLERICAL CRITICISM                        99
        X.  POPULAR CRITICISM OF THE DAY                          111
       XI.  THE KING AND THE RUTHVENS                             118
      XII.  LOGAN OF RESTALRIG                                    148
     XIII.  THE SECRETS OF SPROT                                  168
      XIV.  THE LAIRD AND THE NOTARY                              182
       XV.  THE FINAL CONFESSIONS OF THE NOTARY                   201
      XVI.  WHAT IS LETTER IV?                                    232
     XVII.  INFERENCES AS TO THE CASKET LETTERS                   240
        A.  THE FRONTISPIECE                                      245
        B.  THE CONTEMPORARY RUTHVEN VINDICATION                  252
INDEX                                                             265


                             _IN COLOURS_
GOWRIE’S COAT OF ARMS                                   _Frontispiece_
JAMES VI.                                               _to face p._ 4

_From the picture painted by Paul Van Somer_
(1621) _now in the National Portrait Gallery_
QUEEN ANNE                                                         138

_From a painting by Paul Van Somer in Queen Anne’s
Room_, _St. James’s Palace_
                        _OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS_
FALKLAND PALACE                                                     33

_From a Photograph by J. Valentine & Sons_,
DIRLETON CASTLE                                                     82

_From a Photograph by J. Valentine & Sons_,
FALKLAND PALACE: THE COURTYARD                                     116

_From a Photograph by J. Valentine & Sons_,
RESTALRIG HOUSE                                                    150

_From a Photograph by W. J. Hay_, _Edinburgh_
RESTALRIG VILLAGE                                                  150

_From a Photograph by W. J. Hay_, _Edinburgh_
FASTCASTLE (_circ._ 1820)                                          154

_From a picture by the Rev. Mr. Thomson_, _of
Duddingston_, _in the possession of Mrs.
FASTCASTLE                                            _to face p._ 176

_From a Photograph by J. Valentine & Sons_,

_From a Photograph by J. Valentine & Sons_,
HANDWRITING OF LOGAN (_January_ 1585–6)                            196
HAND OF LOGAN AS FORGED BY SPROT (second page of                   202
Letter IV)
HANDWRITING OF SPROT (_July_ 5, 1608)                              210
SITUATION AND TOPOGRAPHY OF GOWRIE HOUSE                            15
INTERIOR OF GOWRIE HOUSE                                            16


There are enigmas in the annals of most peoples; riddles put by the
Sphinx of the Past to the curious of the new generations.  These
questions do not greatly concern the scientific historian, who is busy
with constitution-making, statistics, progress, degeneration, in short
with human evolution.  These high matters, these streams of tendency,
form the staple of history, but the problems of personal character and
action still interest some inquiring minds.  Among these enigmas nearly
the most obscure, ‘The Gowrie Conspiracy,’ is our topic.

This affair is one of the haunting mysteries of the past, one of the
problems that nobody has solved.  The events occurred in 1600, but the
interest which they excited was so keen that belief in the guilt or
innocence of the two noble brothers who perished in an August afternoon,
was a party shibboleth in the Wars of the Saints against the Malignants,
the strife of Cavaliers and Roundheads.  The problem has ever since
attracted the curious, as do the enigma of Perkin Warbeck, the true
character of Richard III, the real face behind ‘The Iron Mask,’ the
identity of the False Pucelle, and the innocence or guilt of Mary Stuart.

In certain respects the Gowrie mystery is necessarily less attractive
than that of ‘the fairest and most pitiless Queen on earth.’  There is no
woman in the story.  The world, of course, when the Ruthvens died, at
once acted on the maxim, _cherchez la femme_.  The woman in the case, men
said, was the beautiful Queen, Anne of Denmark, wife of James VI.  That
fair and frivolous dame, ‘very very woman,’ certainly did her best, by
her behaviour, to encourage the belief that she was the cause of these
sorrows.  Even so, when the Bonny Earl Moray—the tallest and most
beautiful man in Scotland—died like a lion dragged down by wolves, the
people sang:

    He was a brave gallant,
       And he rode at the ring,
    And the Bonny Earl Moray,
       He might have been the King.

    He was a brave gallant,
       And he rode at the glove,
    And the Bonny Earl Moray
       He was the Queen’s love.

On one side was a beautiful Queen mated with James VI, a pedant and a
clown.  On the other side were, first the Bonny Earl, then the Earl of
Gowrie, both young, brave, handsome, both suddenly slain by the King’s
friends: none knew why.  The opinion of the godly, of the Kirk, of the
people, and even of politicians, leaped to the erroneous conclusion that
the young men perished, like Königsmarck, because they were beautiful and
beloved, and because the Queen was fair and kind, and the King was ugly,
treacherous, and jealous.  The rumour also ran, at least in tradition,
that Gowrie ‘might have been the King,’ an idea examined in Appendix A.
Here then was an explanation of the slaying of the Ruthvens on the lines
dear to romance.  The humorous King Jamie (who, if he was not always
sensible, at least treated his flighty wife with abundance of sense) had
to play the part of King Mark of Cornwall to Gowrie’s Sir Tristram.  For
this theory, we shall show, no evidence exists, and, in ‘looking for the
woman,’ fancy found two men.  The Queen was alternately said to love
Gowrie, and to love his brother, the Master of Ruthven, a lad of
nineteen—if she did not love both at once.  It is curious that the affair
did not give rise to ballads; if it did, none has reached us.

In truth there was no woman in the case, and this of course makes the
mystery much less exciting than that of Mary Stuart, for whom so many
swords and pens have been drawn.  The interest of character and of love
is deficient.  Of Gowrie’s character, and even of his religion, apart
from his learning and fascination, we really know almost nothing.  Did he
cherish that strongest and most sacred of passions, revenge; had he
brooded over it in Italy, where revenge was subtler and craftier than in
Scotland?  Did this passion blend with the vein of fanaticism in his
nature?  Had he been biding his time, and dreaming, over sea, boyish
dreams of vengeance and ambition?  All this appears not improbable, and
would, if true, explain all; but evidence is defective.  Had Gowrie
really cherished the legacy of revenge for a father slain, and a mother
insulted; had he studied the subtleties of Italian crime, pondered over
an Italian plot till it seemed feasible, and communicated his vision to
the boy brother whom he found at home—the mystery would be transparent.

                           [Picture: James VI]

As to King James, we know him well.  The babe ‘wronged in his mother’s
womb;’ threatened by conspirators before his birth; terrified by a harsh
tutor as a child; bullied; preached at; captured; insulted; ruled now by
debauched favourites, now by godly ruffians; James naturally grew up a
dissembler, and betrayed his father’s murderer with a kiss.  He was
frightened into deceit: he could be cruel; he became, as far as he might,
a tyrant.  But, though not the abject coward of tradition, James (as he
himself observed) was never the man to risk his life in a doubtful brawl,
on the chance that his enemies might perish while he escaped.  For him a
treachery of that kind, an affair of sword and dagger fights on
staircases and in turrets and chambers, in the midst of a town of
doubtful loyalty, had certainly no attractions.  Moreover, he had a sense
of humour.  This has been the opinion of our best historians, Scott, Mr.
Tytler, and Mr. Hill Burton; but enthusiastic writers have always
espoused the cause of the victims, the Ruthvens, so young, brave,
handsome; so untimely slain, as it were on their own hearthstone.  Other
authors, such as Dr. Masson in our own day, and Mr. S. R. Gardiner, have
abstained from a verdict, or have attempted the _via media_; have leaned
to the idea that the Ruthvens died in an accidental brawl, caused by a
nervous and motiveless fit of terror on the part of the King.  Thus the
question is unsettled, the problem is unsolved.  Why did the jolly hunt
at Falkland, in the bright August morning, end in the sanguinary scuffle
in the town house at Perth; the deaths of the Ruthvens; the tumult in the
town; the King’s homeward ride through the dark and dripping twilight;
the laying of the dead brothers side by side, while the old family
servant weeps above their bodies; and the wailing of the Queen and her
ladies in Falkland Palace, when the torches guide the cavalcade into the
palace court, and the strange tale of slaughter is variously told, ‘the
reports so fighting together that no man could have any certainty’?
Where lay the actual truth?

This problem, with which the following pages are concerned, is much
darker and more complex than that of the guilty ‘Casket Letters’
attributed to Mary, Queen of Scots.  The Queen did write these, in the
madness of a criminal passion; or she wrote parts of them, the rest being
garbled or forged.  In either case, her motives, and the motives of the
possible forgers, are distinct, and are human.  The Queen was in love
with one man, and hated another to the death; or her enemies desired to
prove that these were her moods.  Absolute certainty escapes us, but,
either way, motives and purposes are intelligible.

Not so with the Gowrie mystery.  The King, Mary’s son, after hunting for
four hours, rides to visit Lord Gowrie, a neighbour.  After luncheon,
that nobleman and his brother are slain, in their own house, by the
King’s attendants.  The King gives his version of the events instantly;
he never varies from it in any essential point, but the story is almost
incredible.  On the other hand, the slain men cannot speak, and only one
of them, if both were innocent, could have told what occurred.  But one
of their apologists, at the time, produced a version of the events which
is, beyond all doubt, boldly mendacious.  It was easy to criticise and
ridicule the King’s version; but the opposite version, hitherto unknown
to historians, destroys itself by its conspicuous falsehoods.  In the
nature of the case, as will appear, no story accounting for such wild
events could be easily credible, so extraordinary, motiveless, and
inexplicable do the circumstances appear.  If we try the theory that the
King wove a plot, we are met by the fact that his plot could not have
succeeded without the voluntary and vehement collaboration of one of his
victims, a thing that no man could have reckoned on.  If we adopt the
idea that the victims had laid a trap for the King, we have only a vague
surmise as to its aim, purpose, and method.  The later light which seemed
to fall on the affair, as we shall see, only darkens what was already
obscure.  The inconceivable iniquity of the Government, at a later date,
reflects such discredit on all concerned on their side, that we might
naturally, though illogically, be inclined to believe that, from the
first, the King was the conspirator.  But _that_, we shall find, was
almost, or quite, a physical impossibility.

Despite these embroilments, I am, in this case, able to reach a
conclusion satisfactory to myself, a thing which, in the affair of the
Casket Letters and Queen Mary, I was unable to do. {7}  There is no
doubt, in my own mind, that the Earl of Gowrie and his brother laid a
trap for King James, and fell into the pit which they had digged.

To what precise end they had plotted to seize the King’s person, what
they meant to do with him when they had got him, must remain matter of
conjecture.  But that they intended to seize him, I have no doubt at all.

These pages, on so old and vexed a problem, would not have been written,
had I not been fortunate enough to obtain many unpublished manuscript
materials.  Some of these at least clear up the secondary enigma of the
sequel of the problem of 1600.  Different readers will probably draw
different conclusions from some of the other documents, but perhaps
nobody will doubt that they throw strange new lights on Scottish manners
and morals.

The scheme adopted here is somewhat like that of Mr. Browning’s poem,
‘The Ring and the Book.’  The personages tell their own stories of the
same set of events, in which they were more or less intimately concerned.
This inevitably entails some repetition, but I am unable to find any plan
less open to objection.

It must, of course, be kept in mind that all the evidence is of a
suspicious nature.  The King, if he were the conspirator, or even if
innocent, had to clear himself; and, frankly, his Majesty’s word was not
to be relied upon.  However, he alone was cross-examined, by an acute and
hostile catechist, and that upon oath, though not in a court of justice.
The evidence of his retinue, and of some other persons present, was also
taken on oath, three months after the events, before a Parliamentary
Committee, ‘The Lords of the Articles.’  We shall see that, nine years
later, a similar Committee was deceived shamelessly by the King’s
Government, he himself being absent in England.  But the nature of the
evidence, in the second case, was entirely different: it did not rest on
the sworn testimony of a number of nobles, gentlemen, and citizens, but
on a question of handwriting, _comparatio literarum_, as in the case of
the Casket Letters.  That the witnesses in 1600 did not perjure
themselves, in the trial which followed on the slaughter of the Ruthvens,
is what I have to argue.  Next, we have the evidence, taken under
torture, of three of the slain Earl’s retainers, three weeks after the
events.  No such testimony is now reckoned of value, but it will be shown
that the statements made by the tortured men only compromise the Earl and
his brother incidentally, and in a manner probably not perceived by the
deponents themselves.  They denied all knowledge of a plot, disclaimed
belief in a plot by the Earl, and let out what was suspicious in a casual
way, without observing the import of their own remarks.

Finally, we have the evidence of the only living man, except the King,
who was present at the central point of the occurrences.  That this man
was a most false and evasive character, that he was doubtless amenable to
bribes, that he was richly rewarded, I freely admit.  But I think it can
be made probable, by evidence hitherto overlooked, that he really was
present on the crucial occasion, and that, with all allowances for his
character and position, his testimony fits into the facts, while, if it
be discarded, no hypothesis can account for _him_, and his part in the
adventure.  In short, the King’s tale, almost incredible as it appears,
contains the only explanation which is not demonstrably impossible.  To
this conclusion, let me repeat, I am drawn by no sentiment for that
unsentimental Prince, ‘gentle King Jamie.’  He was not the man to tell
the truth, ‘if he could think of anything better.’  But, where other
corroboration is impossible, by the nature of the circumstances, facts
corroborate the King’s narrative.  His version ‘colligates’ them; though
extravagant they become not incoherent.  No other hypothesis produces
coherency: each guess breaks down on demonstrated facts.


In the month of August 1600 his Majesty the King of Scotland, James,
sixth of that name, stood in more than common need of the recreation of
the chase.  Things had been going contrary to his pleasure in all
directions.  ‘His dearest sister,’ Queen Elizabeth (as he pathetically
said), seemed likely ‘to continue as long as Sun or Moon,’ and was in the
worst of humours.  Her minister, Cecil, was apparently more ill disposed
towards the Scottish King than usual, while the minister’s rival, the
Earl of Essex, had been suggesting to James plans for a military
demonstration on the Border.  Money was even more than normally scarce;
the Highlands were more than common unruly; stories of new conspiracies
against the King’s liberty were flying about; and, above all, a
Convention of the Estates had just refused, in June, to make a large
grant of money to his Majesty.  It was also irritating that an old and
trusted servant, Colonel Stewart, wished to quit the country, and take
English service against the Irish rebels.  This gentleman, sixteen years
before, had been instrumental in the arrest and execution of the Earl of
Gowrie; the new young Earl, son of the late peer, had just returned from
the Continent to Scotland, and Colonel Stewart was afraid that Gowrie
might wish to avenge his father.  Therefore he desired to take service in

With all these frets, the King needed the refreshment of hunting the buck
in his park of Falkland.  He ordered his own hunting costume; it was
delivered early in August, and (which is singular) was paid for
instantly.  Green English cloth was the basis of his apparel, and five
ounces of silver decorated his second-best ‘socks.’  His boots had velvet
tops, embroidered; his best ‘socks’ were adorned with heavy gold
embroidery; he even bought a new horse.  His gentlemen, John Ramsay, John
Murray, George Murray, and John Auchmuty, were attired, at the Royal
expense, in coats of green cloth, like the King. {12a}

Thus equipped, the Royal party rose early on the morning of Tuesday,
August 5, left the pleasant house of Falkland, with its strong round
towers that had lately protected James from an attack by his cousin, wild
Frank Stewart, the Earl of Bothwell; and rode to the stables in the park;
‘the weather,’ says his Majesty, ‘being wonderful pleasant and
seasonable.’ {12b}  ‘All the jolly hunt was there;’ ‘Tell True’ and the
other hounds were yelping at the limits of their leashes; the Duke of
Lennox and the Earl of Mar, friends of James from his youth, and
honourable men, were the chief nobles in the crowd; wherein were two or
three of the loyal family of Erskine, cousins of Mar, and a Dr. Herries,
remarkable for a club foot.

At the stables, hacks were discarded, hunters were led out, men were
mounting, the King had his foot in the stirrup, when a young gentleman,
the Master of Ruthven, rode swiftly up from the town of Falkland.  He had
trotted over, very early, from the town house, at Perth (some twelve or
fourteen miles away), of his brother, the Earl of Gowrie.  He was but
nineteen years of age, tall, handsome, and brother of the Queen’s
favourite maid of honour, Mrs. Beatrix Ruthven.  That he was himself one
of the Gentlemen of the Household has often been said, but we find no
trace of money spent for him in the Royal accounts: in fact he had asked
for the place, but had not yet obtained it. {13}  However, if we may
believe the Royal word (which is a matter of choice), James ‘loved the
young Master like a brother.’

The Master approached the King, and entered into conversation with him.
James’s account of what he had to say must be given later.  For the
present we may be content with the depositions on oath, which were made
later, at a trial in November, by the attendants of the King and other
witnesses.  Among these was the Duke of Lennox, who swore to the
following effect.  They hunted their buck, and killed him.  The King, in
place of trotting back to lunch at the House of Falkland (to which the
progress of the chase had led the sportsmen round in a circle), bade the
Duke accompany him to Perth, some twelve miles away, ‘to speak with the
Earl of Gowrie.’  His Majesty then rode on.  Lennox despatched his groom
for his sword, and for a fresh horse (another was sent after the King);
he then mounted and followed.  When he rejoined James, the King said ‘You
cannot guess what errand I am riding for; I am going to get a treasure in
Perth.  The Master of Ruthven’ (‘Mr. Alexander Ruthven’) ‘has informed me
that he has found a man with a pitcher full of gold coins of great
sorts.’  James also asked Lennox what he deemed of the Master, whose
manner he reckoned very strange.  ‘Nothing but an honest, discreet
gentleman,’ said the Duke.  The King next gave details about the
treasure, and Lennox said he thought the tale ‘unlikely,’ as it was, more
or less.  James then bade Lennox say nothing on the matter to Ruthven,
who wanted it to be a secret.  At about a mile from Perth, the Master
galloped forward, to warn his brother, the Earl, who met the Royal party,
on foot, with some companions, near the town. {14}  This was about one
o’clock in the afternoon.

           [Picture: Situation and topography of Gowrie House]

The Royal party, of thirteen nobles and gentlemen, then entered the
Earl’s house.  It faced the street, as the House of Falkland also does,
and, at the back, had gardens running down to the Tay.  It is necessary
to understand the situation and topography of Gowrie House.  Passing down
South Street, or ‘Shoe Gait,’ the chief street in Perth, then a pretty
little town, you found it crossed at right angles by a street called, on
the left, Water Gate, on the right, Spey Gate.  Immediately fronting you,
as you came to the end of South Street, was the gateway of Gowrie House,
the garden wall continuing towards your right.  On your left were the
houses in Water Gate, occupied by rich citizens and lairds.  Many will
understand the position if they fancy themselves walking down one of the
streets which run from the High Street, at Oxford, towards the river.
You then find Merton College facing you, the street being continued to
the left in such old houses as Beam Hall.  The gate of Gowrie House
fronted you, as does the gate-tower of Merton, and led into a quadrangle,
the front court, called The Close.  Behind Gowrie House was the garden,
and behind that ran the river Tay, as the Isis flows behind Merton and
Corpus.  Entering the quadrangle of Gowrie House you found, on your right
and facing you, a pile of buildings like an inverted L (┐).  The basement
was occupied by domestic offices: at the angle of the ┐ was the main
entrance.  On your right, and much nearer to you than the main entrance,
a door opened on a narrow spiral staircase, so dark that it was called
the Black Turnpike.

                   [Picture: Interior of Gowrie House]

As to the interior, entering the main doorway you found yourself in the
hall.  A door led thence into a smaller dining-room on the left.  The
hall itself had a door and external stair giving on the garden behind.
The chief staircase, which you entered from the hall, led to the Great
Gallery, built and decorated by the late Earl.  This extended above the
dining-room and the hall, and, to the right, was separated by a partition
and a door from the large upstairs room on the same flat called ‘The
Gallery Chamber.’  At the extremity of this chamber, on the left hand as
you advanced, was a door leading into a ‘round,’ or turret, or little
circular-shaped ‘study,’ of which one window seems to have looked to the
gateway, the other to the street.  People below in the street could see a
man looking out of the turret window.  A door in the gallery chamber gave
on the narrow staircase called ‘The Black Turnpike,’ by which the upper
floor might be reached by any one from the quadrangle, without entering
the main door, and going up the broad chief staircase.  Thus, to quote a
poet who wrote while Gowrie House was extant (in 1638):

    The Palace kythes, may nam’d be Perth’s White Hall
    With orchards like these of Hesperides.

The palace was destroyed, to furnish a site for a gaol and county
buildings, in 1807, but the most interesting parts had long been in
ruins. {18}

In 1774, an antiquary, Mr. Cant, writes that the palace, after the Forty
Five, was converted into artillery barracks.  ‘We see nothing but the
remains of its former grandeur.’  The coats of arms of ‘the nobility and
gentlemen of fortune,’ who dwelt in Spey Gate and Water Gate, were, in
1774, still visible on the walls of their houses.  A fragment of the old
palace is said to exist to-day in the Gowrie Inn.  Into this palace the
King was led by Gowrie: he was taken to the dining chamber on the left of
the great hall; in the hall itself Lennox, Mar, and the rest of the
retinue waited and wearied, for apparently no dinner had been provided,
and even a drink for his thirsty Majesty was long in coming.  Gowrie and
the Master kept going in and out, servants were whispered to, and Sir
Thomas Erskine sent a townsman to buy him a pair of green silk stockings
in Perth. {19}  He wanted to dine comfortably.

Leaving the King’s retinue in the hall, and the King in the dining
chamber off the hall, we may note what, up to this point, the nobles and
gentlemen of the suite had to say, at the trial in November, about the
adventures of that August morning.  Mar had not seen the Master at
Falkland; after the kill Mar did not succeed in rejoining James till they
were within two or three miles of Perth.

Drummond of Inchaffray had nodded to the Master, at Falkland, before the
Master met the King at the stables.  He later saw the Master in
conference for about a quarter of an hour with James, outside the
stables.  The Master then left the King: Inchaffray invited him to
breakfast, but he declined, ‘as his Majesty had ordered him to wait upon
him.’  (According to other evidence he had already breakfasted at
Falkland.)  Inchaffray then breakfasted in Falkland town, and next rode
along the highway towards his own house.  On the road he overtook Lennox,
Lindores, Urchill, Hamilton of Grange, Finlay Taylor, the King, and the
Master, riding Perthwards.  He joined them, and went with them into
Gowrie House.

Nobody else, among the witnesses, did anything but agree with Lennox’s
account up to this point.  But four menials of James, for example, a
cellarer and a porter, were at Gowrie House, in addition to the nobles
and gentlemen who gave this evidence.

To return to Lennox’s tale: dinner was not ready for his hungry Majesty,
as we have said, till an hour after his arrival; was not ready, indeed,
till about two o’clock.  He had obviously not been expected, or Gowrie
did not wish it to be known that he was expected, and himself had dined
before the King’s arrival, between twelve and one o’clock.  A shoulder of
mutton, a fowl, and a solitary grouse were all that the Earl’s caterer
could procure, except cold meat: obviously a poor repast to set before a
king.  It is said that the Earl had meant to leave Perth in the
afternoon.  When James reached the stage of dessert, Gowrie, who had
waited on him, entered the hall, and invited the suite to dine.  When
they had nearly finished, Gowrie returned to them in the hall, and sent
round a grace-cup, in which all pledged the King.  Lennox then rose, to
rejoin the King (who now passed, with the Master, across and out of the
hall), but Gowrie said ‘His Majesty was gone upstairs quietly some quiet
errand.’  Gowrie then called for the key of the garden, on the banks of
the Tay, and he, Lindores, the lame Dr. Herries, and others went into the
garden, where, one of them tells us, they ate cherries.  While they were
thus engaged, Gowrie’s equerry, or master stabler, a Mr. Thomas
Cranstoun, who had been long in France, and had returned thence with the
Earl in April, appeared, crying, ‘The King has mounted, and is riding
through the Inch,’ that is, the Inch of Perth, where the famous clan
battle of thirty men a side had been fought centuries ago.  Gowrie
shouted ‘Horses! horses!’ but Cranstoun said ‘Your horse is at Scone,’
some two miles off, on the further side of the Tay.  Why the Earl that
day kept his horse so remote, in times when men of his rank seldom
walked, we may conjecture later (cf. p. 86, _infra_).

The Earl, however (says Lennox), affected not to hear Cranstoun, and
still shouted ‘Horses!’  He and Lennox then passed into the house,
through to the front yard, or Close, and so to the outer gate, giving on
the street.  Here Lennox asked the porter, Christie, if the King had
gone.  The porter said he was certain that the King had not left the
house.  On this point Lindores, who had been with Gowrie and Lennox in
the garden, and accompanied them to the gate, added (as indeed Lennox
also did) that Gowrie now explained to the porter that James had departed
by the back gate.  ‘That cannot be, my Lord,’ said the porter, ‘for I
have the key of the back gate.’  Andrew Ray, a bailie of Perth, who had
been in the house, looking on, told the same tale, adding that Gowrie
gave the porter the lie.  The porter corroborated all this at the trial,
and quoted his own speech about the key, as it was given by Lindores.  He
had the keys, and must know whether the King had ridden away or not.

In this odd uncertainty, Gowrie said to Lennox, ‘I am sure the King has
gone; but stay, I shall go upstairs, and get your lordship the very
certainty.’  Gowrie thereon went from the street door, through the court,
and up the chief staircase of the house, whence he came down again at
once, and anew affirmed to Lennox that ‘the King was forth at the back
gate and away.’  They all then went out of the front gate, and stood in
the street there, talking, and wondering where they should seek for his

Where was the King?  Here we note a circumstance truly surprising.  It
never occurred to the Earl of Gowrie, when dubiously told that the King
had ‘loupen on’—and ridden off—to ask, _Where is the King’s horse_?  If
the Royal nag was in the Earl’s stable, then James had not departed.
Again—a thing more astonishing still—it has never occurred to any of the
unnumbered writers on the Gowrie conspiracy to ask, ‘How did the Earl, if
guilty of falsehood as to the King’s departure, mean to get over the
difficulty about the King’s horse?’  If the horse was in the stable, then
the King had not ridden away, as the Earl declared.  Gowrie does not seem
to have kidnapped the horse.  We do not hear, from the King, or any one,
that the horse was missing when the Royal party at last rode home.

The author is bound, in honour, to observe that this glaring difficulty
about the horse did not occur to him till he had written the first draft
of this historical treatise, after reading so many others on the subject.
And yet the eagle glance of Mr. Sherlock Holmes would at once have
lighted on his Majesty’s mount.  However, neither at the time, nor in the
last three centuries (as far as we know), was any one sensible enough to
ask ‘How about the King’s horse?’

We return to the question, ‘Where was the King?’

Some time had elapsed since he passed silently from the chamber where he
had lunched, through the hall, with the Master, and so upstairs, ‘going
quietly a quiet errand,’ Gowrie had explained to the men of the retinue.
The gentlemen had then strolled in the garden, till Cranstoun came out to
them with the news of the King’s departure.  Young John Ramsay, one of
James’s gentlemen, had met the Laird of Pittencrieff in the hall, and had
asked where his Majesty was.  Both had gone upstairs, had examined the
fair gallery filled with pictures collected by the late Earl, and had
remained ‘a certain space’ admiring it.  They thence went into the front
yard, the Close, where Cranstoun met them and told them that the King had
gone.  Instead of joining the gentlemen whom we left loitering and
wondering outside the front gate, on the street, Ramsay ran to the
stables for his horse, he said, and, as he waited at the stable door
(being further from the main entrance than Lennox, Mar, and the rest), he
heard James’s voice, ‘but understood not what he spake.’ {23}

The others, on the street, just outside the gate, being nearer the house
than Ramsay, suddenly heard the King’s voice, and even his words.  Lennox
said to Mar, ‘The King calls, be he where he will.’  They all glanced up
at the house, and saw, says Lennox, ‘his Majesty looking out at the
window, hatless, his face red, and a hand gripping his face and mouth.’
The King called: ‘I am murdered.  Treason!  My Lord of Mar, help, help!’
Mar corroborated: Inchaffray saw the King vanish from the window, ‘and in
his judgment, his Majesty was pulled, perforce, in at the same window.’
Bailie Ray of Perth saw the window pushed up, saw the King’s face appear,
and heard his cries.  Murray of Arbany, who had come to Perth from
another quarter, heard the King.  Murray seems to have been holding the
King’s falcon on his wrist, in hall; he had later handed the bird to
young Ramsay.

On beholding this vision of the King, hatless, red-faced, vociferous, and
suddenly vanishing, most of his lords and gentlemen, and Murray of
Arbany, rushed through the gate, through the Close, into the main door of
the house, up the broad staircase, through the long fair gallery, _and
there they were stopped by a locked door_.  They could not reach the
King!  Finding a ladder, they used it as a battering-ram, but it broke in
their hands.  They sent for hammers, and during some half an hour they
thundered at the door, breaking a hole in a panel, but unable to gain

Now these facts, as to the locked door, and the inability of most of the
suite to reach the King, are denied by no author.  They make it certain
that, if James had contrived a plot against the two Ruthvens, he had not
taken his two nobles, Mar and Lennox, and these other gentlemen, and
Murray of Arbany, into the scheme.  He had not even arranged that another
of his retinue should bring them from their futile hammer-work, to his
assistance, by another way.

For there _was_ another way.  Young Ramsay was not with Lennox and the
rest, when they saw and heard the flushed and excited King cry out of the
window.  Ramsay, he says, was further off than the rest; was at the
stable door: he heard and recognised James’s voice, but saw nothing of
him, and distinguished no words.  He ran into the front yard, through the
outer gate.  Lennox and the rest had already vanished within the house.
Ramsay noticed the narrow door in the wall of the house, giving on the
quadrangle, and nearer him than the main door of entrance, to reach which
he must cross the quadrangle diagonally.  He rushed into the narrow
doorway, ran up a dark corkscrew staircase, found a door at the top,
heard a struggling and din of men’s feet within, ‘dang open’ the door,
_caught a glimpse of a man behind the King’s back_, and saw James and the
Master ‘wrestling together in each other’s arms.’

James had the Master’s head under his arm, the Master, ‘almost upon his
knees,’ had his hand on the King’s face and mouth.  ‘Strike him low,’
cried the King, ‘because he wears a secret mail doublet’—such as men were
wont to wear on a doubtful though apparently peaceful occasion, like a
Warden’s Day on the Border.  Ramsay threw down the King’s falcon, which
he had taken from Murray and bore on his wrist, drew his dagger or
_couteau de chasse_, and struck the Master on the face and neck.  The
King set his foot on the falcon’s leash, and so held it.  Ramsay might
have spared and seized the Master, instead of wounding him; James later
admitted _that_, but ‘Man,’ he said, ‘I had neither God nor the Devil
before me, but my own defence.’  Remember that hammers were thundering on
a door hard by, and that neither James nor Ramsay knew who knocked so
loud—enemies or friends.

The King then, says Ramsay, pushed the wounded Master down the steep
narrow staircase up which the young man had run.  The man of whom Ramsay
had caught a glimpse, standing behind the King, had vanished like a
wraith.  Ramsay went to a window, looked out, and, seeing Sir Thomas
Erskine, cried, ‘Come up to the top of the staircase.’

Where was Erskine, and what was he doing?  He had not followed Lennox and
Mar in their rush back into the house.  On hearing James’s cries from the
window, he and his brother had tried to seize Gowrie, who had been with
the party of Lennox and Mar.  If James was in peril, within Gowrie’s
house, they argued, naturally, that Gowrie was responsible.  Not drawing
sword or dagger—daggers, indeed, they had none—the two Erskine brothers
rushed on Gowrie, who was crying ‘What is the matter?  I know nothing!’
They bore him, or nearly bore him, to the ground, but his retainers
separated the stragglers, and one, a Ruthven, knocked Sir Thomas down
with his fist.  The knight arose, and ran into the front court, where Dr.
Herries asked him ‘what the matter meant.’  At this moment Erskine heard
Ramsay cry ‘Come up here,’ from the top of the narrow dark staircase, he
says, _not_ from the window; Ramsay may have called from both.  Erskine,
who was accompanied by the lame Dr. Herries, and by a menial of his
brother’s named Wilson, found the bleeding Master near the foot of the
stair, and shouted ‘This is the traitor, strike him.’  The stricken lad
fell, saying, ‘Alas, I had not the wyte of it,’ and the three entered the
chamber where now were only the King and Ramsay.  Words, not very
intelligible as reported by Erskine (we consider them later), passed
between him and the King.  Though Erskine does not say so, they shut
James up in the turret opening into the chamber where they were, and
instantly Cranstoun, the Earl’s equerry, entered with a drawn sword,
followed by Gowrie, with ‘two swords,’ while some other persons followed

Where had Gowrie been since the two Erskines tried to seize him in the
street, and were separated from him by a throng of his retainers?  Why
was Gowrie, whose honour was interested in the King’s safety, later in
reaching the scene than Erskine, the limping Dr. Herries, and the serving
man, Wilson?  The reason appears to have been that, after the two
Erskines were separated from Gowrie, Sir Thomas ran straight from the
street, through the gateway, into the front court of the house, meeting,
in the court, Dr. Herries, who was slow in his movements.  But Gowrie, on
the other hand, was detained by certain of Tullibardine’s servants, young
Tullibardine being present.  This, at least, was the story given under
examination by Mr. Thomas Cranstoun, Gowrie’s master stabler, while other
witnesses mention that Gowrie became involved in a struggle, and went
‘back from’ his house, further up or down the street.  Young
Tullibardine, present at this fray, was the heir of Murray of
Tullibardine, and ancestor, in the male line, of the present Duke of
Atholl.  He later married a niece of the Earl of Gowrie.  His father
being a man of forty in 1600, young Tullibardine must have been very
young indeed.  The Murrays were in Perth on the occasion of the marriage
of one of their clan, an innkeeper.

Some of their party were in the street, and seeing an altercation in
which two of the King’s gentlemen were prevented from seizing Gowrie,
they made an ineffectual effort to capture the Earl.  Gowrie ran from
them along the street, and there ‘drew his two swords out of one
scabbard,’ says Cranstoun. {28}  The Earl had just arrived in Scotland
from Italy, where he had acquired the then fashionable method of fencing
with twin-swords, worn in a single scabbard.  Gowrie, then, had retreated
from the Murrays to the house of one Macbreck, as Cranstoun and Macbreck
himself declared.  Cranstoun too drew his sword, and let his cloak fall,
asking Gowrie ‘what the fray was.’  The Earl said that ‘he would enter
his own house, or die by the way.’  Cranstoun said that he would go
foremost, ‘but at whom should he strike, for he knew not who was the
enemy?’  He had only seen the Erskines collar Gowrie, then certain
Murrays interfere, and he was entirely puzzled.  Gowrie did not reply,
and the pair advanced to the door of the house through a perplexed
throng.  A servant of Gowrie’s placed a steel cap on his head, and with
some four or five of Gowrie’s friends (Hew Moncrieff, Alexander Ruthven,
Harry Ruthven, and Patrick Eviot) the Earl and Cranstoun entered the
front court.

Here Cranstoun saw the body of a man, whether dead or wounded he knew
not, lying at ‘the old turnpike door,’ the entry to the dark narrow
staircase up which Ramsay had run to the King’s rescue.  ‘Who lies
there?’ asked Cranstoun.  Gowrie only replied, ‘Up the stair!’  Cranstoun
led the way, Gowrie came next; the other four must have followed, for
several witnesses presently saw them come down again, wounded and
bleeding.  Cranstoun found Erskine, Ramsay, and Herries with drawn swords
in the chamber.  The King, then in the turret, he did not see.  He
taunted Herries; Ramsay and Gowrie crossed swords; Cranstoun dealt, he
says, with Herries, Erskine, and perhaps Wilson.  But, though Cranstoun
‘nowise knew who followed him,’ the four men already named, two Ruthvens,
a Moncrieff, and Eviot, were in the fray, though there was some
uncertainty about Eviot. {30}

The position of the King, at this moment, was unenviable.  He was shut up
in the little round turret room.  On the other side of the door, in the
chamber, swords were clashing, feet were stamping.  James knew that he
had four defenders, one of them a lame medical man; who or how many their
opponents might be, he could not know.  The air rang with the thunder of
hammers on the door of the chamber where the fight raged; were they
wielded by friends or enemies?  From the turret window the King could
hear the town bell ringing, and see the gathering of the burgesses of
Perth, the friends of their Provost, Gowrie.  We know that they could
easily muster eight hundred armed men.  Which side would they take?  The
Murrays, as we saw, had done nothing, except that some of them had
crowded round Gowrie.  Meanwhile there was clash of steel, stamping of
feet, noise of hammers, while the King, in the turret, knew not how
matters were going.

Cranstoun only saw his own part of the fight in the chamber.  How Ramsay
and Gowrie sped in their duel he knew not.  Ramsay, he says, turned on
_him_, and ran him through the body; Herries also struck him.  Of Gowrie
he saw nothing; he fled, when wounded, down the turret stair, his
companions following or preceding him.  Gowrie, in fact, had fallen,
leaving Ramsay free to deal with Cranstoun.  Writers of both parties
declare that Ramsay had cried to Gowrie, ‘You have slain the King!’ that
Gowrie dropped his points, and that Ramsay lunged and ran him through the
body.  Erskine says that he himself was wounded in the right hand by
Cranstoun; Herries lost two fingers.  When Ramsay ran Gowrie through, the
Earl, says Erskine, fell into the arms of a man whom he himself knew not;
Gowrie’s party retreated, but it seems they returned to the head of the
narrow staircase, and renewed hostilities by pushing swords and halberts
under the narrow staircase door.  This appears from the evidence of

After pounding at the door so long, Lennox’s party at last sent Robert
Brown (a servant of James’s, who had brought the hammers) round to
discover another way of reaching the King.  Brown, too, now went up the
narrow staircase, and in the gallery chamber he found the King, with
Herries, Erskine, Ramsay, Wilson, and the dead Earl.  He reassured James;
the hammerers were his friends.  They handed, says Lennox, one of the
hammers to the King’s party, through a shattered panel, ‘and they within
broke the doors, and gave them entry.’  At this time, halberts and swords
were being struck, by Gowrie’s retainers, under the door, and through the
sides of the door, of the chamber; this door apparently being that from
the chamber to the narrow staircase.  Murray of Arbany (who had come into
the house at the end of dinner) was stricken through the leg by one of
these weapons.  Deacon Rhynd of Perth saw Hew Moncrieff striking with ‘a
Jeddart staff,’ a kind of halbert.  A voice, that of Alexander Ruthven (a
cousin of the fallen Earl), cried ‘For God’s sake, my lord, tell me how
the Earl of Gowrie does.’  ‘He is well.  Go your way; you are a fool; you
will get no thanks for this labour,’ answered Lennox, and all was
silence.  Alexander Ruthven and the rest retreated; Ruthven rushed to the
town, rousing the people, and rifling shops in search of gunpowder.  The
King and the nobles knelt in prayer on the bloody floor of the chamber
where the dead Gowrie lay.  For some time the confused mob yelled
outside, shaking their fists at the King’s party in the window: men and
women crying ‘Come down, Green-coats, ye have committed murder!  Bloody
butchers!’  Others cried ‘The King is shot!’  The exits of the house were
guarded by retainers of Gowrie—Rentoul, Bissett, and others.

Mar and Lennox, from the window, explained to the mob that the King was
well.  James showed himself, the magistrates and nobles pacified the
people, who, some armed, some unarmed, were all perplexed, whether they
were anxious about the King or about their Provost, the Earl.  From the
evidence of scores of burghers, it appears that the tumult did not last
long.  One man was reaping in the Morton haugh.  Hearing the town bell he
hastened in, ‘when all the tumult was ceased,’ and the magistrates, Ray
and others, were sending the people to their houses, as also did young
Tullibardine.  A baker, hearing the bell, went to the town cross, and so
to Gowrie’s house, where he met the stream of people coming away.
Another baker was at work, and stayed with his loaves, otherwise he
‘would have lost his whole baking.’  The King represents that it was
between seven and eight in the evening before matters were quiet enough
for him to ride home to Falkland, owing to the tumult.  The citizens
doubtless minimised, and James probably exaggerated, the proportions and
duration of the disturbance.

                        [Picture: Falkland place]

This version of that strange affair, the slaughter of the Ruthvens, is
taken entirely from the lips of sworn witnesses.  We still know no more
than we did as to what passed between the moment when James and the
Master, alone, left the dining chamber, and the moment when the King
cried ‘Treason!’ out of the turret window.

The problem is, had James lured the Master to Falkland for the purpose of
accompanying him back to Perth, as if by the Master’s invitation, and of
there craftily begetting a brawl, in which Gowrie and the Master should
perish at the hands of Ramsay?  Or had the Master, with or without his
brother’s knowledge, lured James to Perth for some evil end?  The
question divided Scotland; France and England were sceptical as to the
King’s innocence.  Our best historians, like Mr. Hill Burton and Mr.
Tytler, side with the King; others are dubious, or believe that James was
the conspirator, and that the Ruthvens were innocent victims.


So far we have not gained any light on the occurrences of the mysterious
interval between the moment when the King and Alexander Ruthven passed
alone through the hall, after dinner, up the great staircase, and the
moment when the King cried ‘Treason!’ out of the turret window.  In the
nature of the case, the Master being for ever silent, only James could
give evidence on the events of this interval, James and _one other man_,
of whose presence in the turret we have hitherto said little, as only one
of the witnesses could swear to having seen a man there, none to having
seen him escaping thence, or in the tumult.  Now the word of James was
not to be relied on, any more than that of the unequalled Elizabeth.  If
we take the King’s word in this case, it is from no prejudice in his
favour, but merely because his narrative seems best to fit the facts as
given on oath by men like Lennox, Mar, and other witnesses of all ranks.
It also fits, with discrepancies to be noted, the testimony of _the other
man_, the man who professed to have been with the Master and the King in
the turret.

The evidence of that other man was also subject, for reasons which will
appear presently, to the gravest suspicion.  James, if himself guilty of
the plot, had to invent a story to excuse himself; the other man had to
adopt the version of the King, to save his own life from the gibbet.  On
the other hand, James, if innocent, could not easily have a credible
story to tell.  If the Master was sane, it was hardly credible that, as
James averred, he should menace the King with murder, in his brother’s
house, with no traceable preparations either for flight or for armed
resistance.  In James’s narrative the Master is made at least to menace
the King with death.  However true the King’s story might be, his
adversaries, the party of the Kirk and the preachers, would never accept
it.  In Lennox’s phrase they ‘liked it not, because it was not likely.’
Emphatically it was not likely, but the contradictory story put forward
by the Ruthven apologist, as we shall see, was not only improbable, but
certainly false.

There was living at that time a certain Mr. David Calderwood, a young
Presbyterian minister, aged twenty-five.  He was an avid collector of
rumour, of talk, and of actual documents, and his ‘History of the Kirk of
Scotland,’ composed at a much later date, is wonderfully copious and
accurate.  As it was impossible for King James to do anything at which
Calderwood did not carp, assigning the worst imaginable motives in every
case, we shall find in Calderwood the sum of contemporary hostile
criticism of his Majesty’s narrative.  But the criticism is negative.
Calderwood’s critics only pick holes in the King’s narrative, but do not
advance or report any other explanation of the events, any complete
theory of the King’s plot from the Ruthven side.  Any such story, any
such hypothesis, must be to the full as improbable as the King’s

There is nothing probable in the whole affair; every system, every
hypothesis is _difficile à croire_.  Yet the events did occur, and we
cannot reject James’s account merely because it is ‘unlikely.’  The
improbabilities, however, were enormously increased by the King’s theory
that the Ruthvens meant to _murder_ him.  This project (not borne out by
the King’s own version of Ruthven’s conduct) would have been insane: the
Ruthvens, by murdering James, would have roused the whole nation and the
Kirk itself against them.  But if their object was to kidnap James, to
secure his person, to separate him from his Ministers (who were either
secretly Catholics, or Indifferents), and to bring in a new
administration favourable to Kirk, or Church, then the Ruthvens were
doing what had several times been done, and many times attempted.  James
had been captured before, even in his own palace, while scores of other
plots, to take him, for instance, when hunting in Falkland woods, remote
from his retinue, had been recently planned, and had failed.  To kidnap
the King was the commonest move in politics; but as James thought, or
said, that the idea at Gowrie House was to _murder_ him, his tale, even
if true, could not be easily credible.

The first narrative was drawn up at Falkland in the night of August 5.
Early on August 6 the letter reached the Chancellor in Edinburgh, and the
contents of the letter were repeated orally by the Secretary of State
(Elphinstone, later Lord Balmerino) to Nicholson, the English resident at
the Court of Holyrood.  Nicholson on the same day reported what he
remembered of what the Secretary remembered of the Falkland letter, to
Cecil.  Yet though at third hand Nicholson’s written account of the
Falkland letter of August 5 {38} contains the same version as James later
published, with variations so few and so unessential that it is needless
to dwell upon them, they may safely be attributed to the modifications
which a story must suffer in passing through the memories of two persons.
Whatever the amount of truth in his narrative, the King had it ready at
once in the form to which he adhered, and on which he voluntarily
underwent severe cross-examination, on oath, by Mr. Robert Bruce, one of
the Edinburgh ministers; a point to which we return.

James declares in a later narrative printed and published about the end
of August 1600, that the Master, when he first met him at Falkland, made
a very low bow, which was not his habit.  The Master then said (their
conference, we saw, occupied a quarter of an hour) that, while walking
alone on the previous evening, he had met a cloaked man carrying a great
pot, full of gold in large coined pieces.  Ruthven took the fellow
secretly to Gowrie House, ‘locked him _in a privy derned house_, and,
after locking many doors on him, left him there and his pot with him.’

It might be argued that, as the man was said to be locked in a _house_,
and as James was not taken out of Gowrie House to see him, James must
have known that, when he went upstairs with the Master, he was not going
to see the prisoner.  The error here is that, in the language of the
period, a _house_ often means a _room_, or chamber.  It is so used by
James elsewhere in this very narrative, and endless examples occur in the
letters and books of the period.

Ruthven went on to explain, what greatly needed explanation, that he had
left Perth so early in the morning that James might have the first
knowledge of this secret treasure, concealed hitherto even from Gowrie.
James objected that he had no right to the gold, which was not treasure
trove.  Ruthven replied that, if the King would not take it, others
would.  James now began to suspect, very naturally, that the gold was
foreign coin.  Indeed, what else could it well be?  Coin from France,
Italy, or Spain, brought in often by political intriguers, was the least
improbable sort of minted gold to be found in poor old Scotland.  In the
troubles of 1592–1596 the supplies of the Catholic rebels were in Spanish
money, whereof some was likely enough to be buried by the owners.  James,
then, fancied that Jesuits or others had brought in gold for seditious
purposes, ‘as they have ofttimes done before.’  Sceptics of the period
asked how one pot of gold could cause a sedition.  The question is
puerile.  There would be more gold where the potful came from, if
Catholic intrigues were in the air.  James then asked the Master ‘what
kind of coin it was.’  ‘They seemed to be foreign and uncouth’ (unusual)
‘strokes of coin,’ said Ruthven, and the man, he added, was a stranger to

James therefore suspected that the man might be a disguised Scottish
priest: the few of them then in Scotland always wore disguises, as they
tell us in their reports to their superiors. {40}  The King’s inferences
as to _popish_ plotters were thus inevitable, though he may have
emphasised them in his narrative to conciliate the preachers.  His horror
of ‘practising Papists,’ at this date, was unfeigned.  He said to the
Master that he could send a servant with a warrant to Gowrie and the
magistrates of Perth to take and examine the prisoner and his hoard.
Contemporaries asked why he did not ‘commit the credit of this matter to
another.’  James had anticipated the objection.  He _did_ propose this
course, but Ruthven replied that, if others once touched the money, the
King ‘would get a very bad account made to him of that treasure.’  He
implored his Majesty to act as he advised, and not to forget him
afterwards.  This suggestion may seem mean in Ruthven, but the age was
not disinterested, nor was Ruthven trying to persuade a high-souled man.
The King was puzzled and bored, ‘the morning was fair, the game already
found,’ the monarch was a keen sportsman, so he said that he would think
the thing over and answer at the end of the hunt.

Granting James’s notorious love of disentangling a mystery, granting his
love of money, and of hunting, I agree with Mr. Tytler in seeing nothing
improbable in this narration.  If the Master wanted to lure the King to
Perth, I cannot conceive a better device than the tale which, according
to the King, he told.  The one improbable point, considering the morals
of the country, was that Ruthven should come to James, in place of
sharing the gold with his brother.  But Ruthven, we shall see, had
possibly good reasons, known to James, for conciliating the Royal favour,
and for keeping his brother ignorant.  Moreover, to seize the money would
not have been a safe thing for Ruthven to do; the story would have leaked
out, questions would have been asked.  James had hit on the only
plausible theory to account for a low fellow with a pot of gold; he
_must_ be ‘a practising Papist.’  James could neither suppose, nor expect
others to believe that he supposed, one pot of foreign gold enough ‘to
bribe the country into rebellion.’  But the pot, and the prisoner,
supplied a clue worth following.  Probabilities strike different critics
in different ways.  Mr. Tytler thinks James’s tale true, and that he
acted in character.  That is my opinion; his own the reader must form for

Ruthven still protested.  This hunt of gold was well worth a buck!  The
prisoner, he said, might attract attention by his cries, a very weak
argument, but Ruthven was quite as likely to invent it on the spur of the
moment, as James was to attribute it to him falsely, on cool reflection.
Finally, if James came at once, Gowrie would then be at the preaching
(Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays were preaching days), and the Royal
proceedings with the captive would be undisturbed.

Now, on the hypothesis of intended kidnapping, this was a well-planned
affair.  If James accepted Ruthven’s invitation, he, with three or four
servants, would reach Gowrie House while the town of Perth was quiet.
Nothing would be easier than to seclude him, seize his person, and
transport him to the seaside, either by Tay, or down the north bank of
that river, or in disguise across Fife, to the Firth of Forth, in the
retinue of Gowrie, before alarm was created at Falkland.  Gowrie had
given out (so his friends declared) that he was to go that night to
Dirleton, his castle near North Berwick, {42} a strong hold, manned, and
provisioned.  Could he have carried the King in disguise across Fife to
Elie, Dirleton was within a twelve miles sail, on summer seas.  Had
James’s curiosity and avarice led him to ride away at once with Ruthven,
and three or four servants, the plot might have succeeded.  We must
criticise the plot on these lines.  Thus, if at all, had the Earl and his
brother planned it.  But Fate interfered, the unexpected occurred—_but
the plot could not be dropped_.  The story of the pot of gold could not
be explained away.  The King, with royal rudeness, did not even reply to
the new argument of the Master.  ‘Without any further answering him,’ his
Majesty mounted, Ruthven staying still in the place where the King left
him.  At this moment Inchaffray, as we saw, met Ruthven, and invited him
to breakfast, but he said that he was ordered to wait on the King.

At this point, James’s narrative contains a circumstance which,
confessedly, was not within his own experience.  He did not know, he
says, that the Master had any companion.  But, from the evidence of
another, he learned that the Master had a companion, indeed two
companions.  One was Andrew Ruthven, about whose presence nobody doubts.
The other, one Andrew Henderson, was not seen by James at this time.
However, the King says, on Henderson’s own evidence, that the Master now
sent him (about seven o’clock) to warn Gowrie that the King was to come.
Really it seems that Henderson was despatched rather later, during the
first check in the run.

It was all-important to the King’s case to prove that Henderson had been
at Falkland, and had returned at once with a message to Gowrie, for this
would demonstrate that, in appearing to be unprepared for the King’s
arrival (as he did), Gowrie was making a false pretence.  It was also
important to prove that the ride of Ruthven and Henderson to Falkland and
back had been concealed, by them, from the people at Gowrie House.  Now
this _was_ proved.  Craigengelt, Gowrie’s steward, who was tortured,
tried, convicted, and hanged, deponed that, going up the staircase, just
after the King’s arrival, he met the Master, booted, and asked ‘where he
had been.’  ‘An errand not far off,’ said the Master, concealing his long
ride to Falkland. {44a}  Again, John Moncrieff, a gentleman who was with
Gowrie, asked Henderson (who had returned to Perth much earlier than the
King’s arrival) where he had been, and he said ‘that he had been two or
three miles above the town.’ {44b}  Henderson himself later declared that
Gowrie had told him to keep his ride to Falkland secret. {44c}  The whole
purpose of all this secrecy was to hide the fact that the Ruthvens had
brought the King to Perth, and that Gowrie had early notice, by about 10
a.m., of James’s approach, from Henderson.  Therefore to make out that
Henderson had been in Falkland, and had given Gowrie early notice of
James’s approach, though Gowrie for all that made no preparations to
welcome James, was almost necessary for the Government.  They specially
questioned all witnesses on this point.  Yet not one of their witnesses
would swear to having seen Henderson at Falkland.  This disposes of the
theory of wholesale perjury.

The modern apologist for the Ruthvens, Mr. Louis Barbé, writes: ‘We
believe that Henderson perjured himself in swearing that he accompanied
Alexander’ (the Master) ‘and Andrew Ruthven when . . . they rode to
Falkland.  We believe that Henderson perjured himself when he asserted,
on oath, that the Master sent him back to Perth with the intelligence of
the King’s coming.’ {45}

On the other hand, George Hay, lay Prior of the famous Chartreux founded
by James I in Perth, deponed that Henderson arrived long before Gowrie’s
dinner, and Peter Hay corroborated.  But Hay averred that Gowrie asked
Henderson ‘who was at Falkland with the King?’  It would not follow that
Henderson had been at Falkland himself.  John Moncrieff deponed that
Gowrie said nothing of Henderson’s message, but sat at dinner, feigning
to have no knowledge of the King’s approach, till the Master arrived, a
few minutes before the King.  Mr. Rhynd, Gowrie’s tutor, deponed that
Andrew Ruthven (the Master’s other companion in the early ride to
Falkland) told him that the Master had sent on Henderson with news of the
King’s coming.  If Henderson had been at Falkland, he had some four
hours’ start of the King and his party, and must have arrived at Perth,
and spoken to Gowrie, long before dinner, he himself says at 10 a.m.
Dinner was at noon, or, on this day, half an hour later.  Yet Gowrie made
no preparations for welcoming the King.

It is obvious that, though the Hays and Moncrieff both saw Henderson
return, booted, from a ride somewhere or other, at an early hour, none of
them could _prove_ that he had ridden to Falkland and back.  There was,
in fact, no evidence that Henderson had been at Falkland except his own,
and that of the poor tortured tutor, Rhynd, to the effect that Andrew
Ruthven had confessed as much to him.  But presently we shall find that,
while modern apologists for Gowrie deny that Henderson had been at
Falkland, the contemporary Ruthven apologist insists that he had been

To return to James’s own narrative, he asserts Henderson’s presence at
Falkland, but not from his own knowledge.  He did not see Henderson at
Falkland.  Ruthven, says James, sent Henderson to Gowrie just after the
King mounted and followed the hounds.  Here it must be noted that
Henderson himself says that Ruthven did not actually despatch him till
after he had some more words with the King.  This is an instance of
James’s _insouciance_ as to harmonising his narrative with Henderson’s,
or causing Henderson to conform to his.  ‘Cooked’ evidence, collusive
evidence, would have avoided these discrepancies.  James says that,
musing over the story of the pot of gold, he sent one Naismith, a surgeon
(he had been with James at least since 1592), to bring Ruthven to him,
during a check, and told Ruthven that he would, after the hunt, come to
Perth.  James thought that this was _after_ the despatch of Henderson,
but probably it was before, to judge by Henderson’s account.

During this pause, the hounds having hit on the scent again, the King was
left behind, but spurred on.  At every check, the Master kept urging him
to make haste, so James did not tarry to break up the deer, as usual.
The kill was but two bowshots from the stables, and the King did not wait
for his sword, or his second horse, which had to gallop a mile before it
reached him.  Mar, Lennox, and others did wait for their second mounts,
some rode back to Falkland for fresh horses, some dragged slowly along on
tired steeds, and did not rejoin James till later.

Ruthven had tried, James says, to induce him to refuse the company of the
courtiers.  Three or four servants, he said, would be enough.  The others
‘might mar the whole purpose.’  James was ‘half angry,’ he began to
entertain odd surmises about Ruthven.  One was ‘it might be that the Earl
his brother _had handled him so hardly_, that the young gentleman, being
of a high spirit, had taken such displeasure, as he was become somewhat
beside himself.’  But why should Gowrie handle his brother hardly?

The answer is suggested by an unpublished contemporary manuscript, ‘The
True Discovery of the late Treason,’ {48a} &c.  ‘Some offence had passed
betwixt the said Mr. Alexander Ruthven’ (the Master) ‘and his brother,
for that the said Alexander, both of himself and by his Majesty’s
mediation, had craved of the Earl his brother the demission and release
of the Abbey of Scone, which his Majesty had bestowed upon the said Earl
during his life. . . .  His suit had little success.’ {48b}

If this be fact (and there is no obvious reason for its invention), James
might have reason to suspect that Gowrie had ‘handled his brother
hardly:’ Scone being a valuable estate, well worth keeping.  To secure
the King’s favour as to Scone, Ruthven had a motive, as James would
understand, for making him, and not Gowrie, acquainted with the secret of
the treasure.  Thus the unpublished manuscript casually explains the
reason of the King’s suspicion that the Earl might have ‘handled the
Master hardly.’

On some such surmise, James asked Lennox (who corroborates) whether he
thought the Master quite ‘settled in his wits.’  Lennox knew nothing but
good of him (as he said in his evidence), but Ruthven, observing their
private talk, implored James to keep the secret, and come _alone_ with
him—at first—to see the captive and the treasure.  James felt more and
more uneasy, but he had started, and rode on, while the Master now
despatched Andrew Ruthven to warn Gowrie.  Within a mile of Perth the
Master spurred on his weary horse, and gave the news to Gowrie, who,
despite the messages of Henderson and Andrew Ruthven, was at dinner,
unprepared for the Royal arrival.  However, Gowrie met James with sixty
men (four, says the Ruthven apologist).

James’s train then consisted of fifteen persons.  Others must have
dropped in later: they had no fresh mounts, but rested their horses, the
King says, and let them graze by the way.  They followed because,
learning that James was going to Perth, they guessed that he intended to
apprehend the Master of Oliphant, who had been misconducting himself in
Angus.  Thus the King accounts for the number of his train.

An hour passed before dinner: James pressed for a view of the treasure,
but the Master asked the King not to converse with him then, as the whole
affair was to be kept secret from Gowrie.  If the two brothers had been
at odds about the lands of Scone, the Master’s attitude towards his
brother might seem intelligible, a point never allowed for by critics
unacquainted with the manuscript which we have cited.  At last the King
sat down to dinner, Gowrie in attendance, whispering to his servants,
_and often going in and out of the chamber_.  The Master, too, was seen
on the stairs by Craigengelt.

If Gowrie’s behaviour is correctly described, it might be attributed to
anxiety about a Royal meal so hastily prepared.  But if Gowrie had plenty
of warning, from Henderson (as I do not doubt), that theory is not
sufficient.  If engaged in a conspiracy, Gowrie would have reason for
anxiety.  The circumstances, owing to the number of the royal retinue,
were unfavourable, yet, as the story of the pot of gold had been told by
Ruthven, the plot could not be abandoned.  James even ‘chaffed’ Gowrie
about being so pensive and _distrait_, and about his neglect of some
little points of Scottish etiquette.  Finally he sent Gowrie into the
hall, with the grace-cup for the gentlemen, and then called the Master.
He sent Gowrie, apparently, that he might slip off with the Master, as
that gentleman wished.  ‘His Majesty desired Mr. Alexander to bring Sir
Thomas Erskine with him, who’ (Ruthven) ‘desiring the King to go forward
with him, and promising that he should make any one or two follow him
that he pleased to call for, desiring his Majesty to command _publicly_
that none should follow him.’  This seems to mean, James and the Master
were to cross the hall and go upstairs; James, or the Master for him,
bidding no one follow (the Master, according to Balgonie, did say that
the King would be alone), while, presently, the Master should return and
privately beckon on one or two to join the King.  The Master’s excuse for
all this was the keeping from Gowrie and others, for the moment, of the
secret of the prisoner and the pot of gold.

Now, if we turn back to Sir Thomas Erskine’s evidence, we find that, when
he joined James in the chamber, after the slaying of the Master, he said
‘I thought your Majesty would have concredited more to me, than to have
commanded me to await your Majesty at the door, if you thought it not
meet to have taken me with you.’  The King replied, ‘Alas, the traitor
deceived me in that, as in all else, for I commanded him expressly to
bring you to me, and he returned back, as I thought, to fetch you, but he
did nothing but _steik_ [shut] the door.’

What can these words mean?  They appear to me to imply that James sent
the Master back, according to their arrangement, to bring Erskine, that
the Master gave Erskine some invented message about waiting at some door,
that he then shut a door between the King and his friends, but told the
King that Erskine was to follow them.  Erskine was, beyond doubt, in the
street with the rest of the retinue, before the brawl in the turret
reached its crisis, when Gowrie had twice insisted that James had ridden

In any case, to go on with James’s tale, he went with Ruthven up a
staircase (the great staircase), ‘and through three or four rooms’—‘three
or four sundry _houses_’—‘the Master ever locking behind him every door
as he passed, and so into a little study’—the turret.  This is
perplexing.  We nowhere hear in the evidence of more than two doors, in
the suite, which were locked.  The staircase perhaps gave on the long
gallery, with a door between them.  The gallery gave on a chamber, which
had a door (the door battered by Lennox and Mar), and the chamber gave on
a turret, which had a door between it and the chamber.

We hear, in the evidence, of no other doors, or of no other locked doors.
However, in the Latin indictment of the Ruthvens, ‘many doors’ are
insisted on.  As all the evidence tells of opposition from only _one_
door—that between the gallery and the chamber of death—James’s reason for
talking of ‘three or four doors’ must be left to conjecture.  ‘The True
Discourse’ (MS.) gives but the gallery, chamber, and turret, but appears
to allow for a door between stair and gallery, which the Master ‘closed,’
while he ‘made fast’ the next door, that between gallery and chamber.
One Thomas Hamilton, {52a} who writes a long letter (MS.) to a lady
unknown, also speaks of several doors, on the evidence of the King, and
some of the Lords.  This manuscript has been neglected by historians.

Leaving this point, we ask why a man already suspicious, like James, let
the Master lock any door behind him.  We might reply that James had
dined, and that ‘wine and beer produce a careless state of mind,’ as a
writer on cricket long ago observed.  We may also suppose that, till
facts proved the locking of one door at least (for about that there is no
doubt), James did not know that any door _was_ locked.  On August 11 the
Rev. Mr. Galloway, in a sermon preached before the King and the populace
at the Cross of Edinburgh, says that the Master led the monarch upstairs,
‘and through a _trans_’ (a passage), ‘the door whereof, so soon as they
had entered, _chekit to with ane lok_, then through a gallery, whose door
also _chekit to_, through a chamber, and the door thereof _chekit to_,
also,’ and thence into the turret of which he ‘also locked the door.’

Were the locks that ‘chekit to’ spring locks, and was James unaware that
he was locked in?  But Ramsay, before the affray, had wandered into ‘a
gallery, very fair,’ and unless there were two galleries, he could not do
this, if the gallery door was locked.  Lennox and Mar and the rest speak
of opposition from only one door.

While we cannot explain these things, _that_ door, at least, between the
gallery and the gallery chamber, excluded James from most of his friends.
Can the reader believe that he purposely had that door locked, we know
not how, or by whom, on the system of compelling Gowrie to ‘come and be
killed’ by way of the narrow staircase?  Could we see Gowrie House, and
its ‘secret ways,’ as it then was, we might understand this problem of
the locked doors.  Contemporary criticism, as minutely recorded by
Calderwood, found no fault with the number of locked doors, but only
asked ‘how could the King’s fear but increase, perceiving Mr. Alexander’
(the Master) ‘ever to lock the doors behind them?’  If the doors closed
with spring locks (of which the principle had long been understood and
used), the King may not have been aware of the locking.  The problem
cannot be solved; we only disbelieve that the King himself had the door
locked, to keep his friends out, and let Gowrie in.

NOTE.—_The Abbey of Scone_.  On page 48 we have quoted the statement that
James had bestowed on Gowrie the Abbey of Scone ‘during his life.’  This
was done in 1580 (_Registrum Magni Sigilli_, vol. iii.  No. 3011).  On
May 25, 1584, William Fullarton got this gift, the first Earl of Gowrie
and his children being then forfeited.  But on July 23, 1586, the Gowrie
of the day was restored to all his lands, and the Earldom of Gowrie
included the old church lands of Scone (_Reg. Mag. Sig._ iv. No. 695, No.
1044).  How, then, did John, third Earl of Gowrie, hold only ‘for his
life’ the Commendatorship of the Abbey of Scone, as is stated in S. P.
Scot.  (Eliz.) vol. lxvi.  No. 50?


We left James entering the little ‘round,’ or ‘study,’ the turret
chamber.  Here, at last, he expected to find the captive and the pot of
gold.  And here the central mystery of his adventure began.  His Majesty
saw standing, ‘with a very abased countenance, not a bondman but a
freeman, with a dagger at his girdle.’  Ruthven locked the door, put on
his hat, drew the man’s dagger, and held the point to the King’s breast,
‘_avowing now that the King behoved to be at his will_, _and used as he
list_; swearing many bloody oaths that if the King cried one word, or
opened a window to look out, that dagger should go to his heart.’

If this tale is true, murder was not intended, unless James resisted: the
King was only being _threatened_ into compliance with the Master’s
‘will.’  Ruthven added that the King’s conscience must now be burthened
‘for murdering his father,’ that is, for the execution of William, Earl
of Gowrie, in 1584.  His conviction was believed to have been procured in
a dastardly manner, later to be explained.

James was unarmed, and obviously had no secret coat of mail, in which he
could not have hunted all day, perhaps.  Ruthven had his sword; as for
the other man he stood ‘trembling and quaking.’  James now made to the
Master the odd harangue reported even in Nicholson’s version of the
Falkland letter of the same day.  As for Gowrie’s execution, the King
said, he had then been a minor (he was eighteen in 1584), and Gowrie was
condemned ‘by the ordinary course of law’—which his friends denied.
James had restored, he said, all the lands and dignities of the House,
two of Ruthven’s sisters were maids of honour.  Ruthven had been educated
by the revered Mr. Rollock, he ought to have learned better behaviour.
If the King died he would be avenged: Gowrie could not hope for the
throne.  The King solemnly promised forgiveness and silence, if Ruthven
let him go.

Ruthven now uncovered his head, and protested that the King’s life should
be safe, if he made no noise or cry: in that case Ruthven would now bring
Gowrie to him.  ‘Why?’ asked James; ‘you could gain little by keeping
such a prisoner?’  Ruthven said that he could not explain; Gowrie would
tell him the rest.  Turning to _the other man_, he said ‘I make you the
King’s keeper till I come again, and see that you keep him upon your
peril.’  He then went out, and locked the door.  The person who later
averred that he had been the man in the turret, believed that Ruthven
never went far from the door.  James believed, indeed averred, that he
ran downstairs, and consulted Gowrie.

If there was an armed man in the turret, he was either placed there by
the King, to protect him while he summoned his minions by feigned cries
of treason, or he was placed there by Gowrie to help the Master to seize
the King.  In the latter case, the Master’s position was now desperate;
in lieu of an ally he had procured a witness against himself.  Great need
had he to consult Gowrie, but though Gowrie certainly entered the house,
went upstairs, and returned to Lennox with the assurance that James had
ridden away, it is improbable that he and his brother met at this moment.
James, however, avers that they met, Ruthven running rapidly downstairs,
but this was mere inference on the King’s part.

James occupied the time of Ruthven’s absence in asking the man of the
turret what he knew of the conspiracy.  The man replied that he knew
nothing, he had but recently been locked into the little chamber.
Indeed, while Ruthven was threatening, the man (says James) was
trembling, and adjuring the Master not to harm the King.  James, having
sworn to Ruthven that he would not open the window himself, now,
characteristically, asked the man to open the window ‘on his right hand.’
If the King had his back to the turret door, the window on his right
opened on the courtyard, the window on his left opened on the street.
The man readily opened the window, says the King, and the person claiming
to be the man deponed later that he first opened what the King declared
to be the wrong window, but, before he could open the other, in came the
Master, who, ‘casting his hands abroad in desperate manner, said “he
could not mend it, his Majesty behoved to die.”’  Instead of stabbing
James, however, he tried to bind the Royal hands with a garter, ‘swearing
he behoved to be bound.’  (A garter was later picked up on the floor by
one of the witnesses, Graham of Balgonie, and secured by Sir Thomas
Erskine. {58})

A struggle then began, James keeping the Master’s right hand off his
sword-hilt; the Master trying to silence James with his left hand.  James
dragged the Master to the window, which the other man had opened.  (In
the Latin indictment of the dead Ruthvens, James opens the window
himself.)  The turret man said, in one of two depositions, that he
stretched across the wrestlers, and opened the window.  The retinue and
Gowrie were passing, as we know, or loitering below; Gowrie affected not
to hear the cries of treason; Lennox, Mar, and the rest rushed up the
great staircase.  Meanwhile, struggling with the Master, James had
brought him out of the turret into the chamber, so he says, though, more
probably, the Master brought _him_.  They were now near the door of the
chamber that gave on the narrow staircase, and James was ‘throwing the
Master’s sword out of his hand, thinking to have stricken him therewith,’
when Ramsay entered, and wounded the Master, who was driven down the
stairs, and there killed by Erskine and Herries.  Gowrie then invaded the
room with seven others: James was looking for the Master’s sword, {59}
which had fallen, but he was instantly shut into the turret by his
friends, and saw none of the fight in which Gowrie fell.  After that
Lennox and the party with hammers were admitted, and—the tumult
appeased—James rode back, through a dark rainy night, to Falkland.

       [Picture: The Gallery Chamber and the Turret, Gowrie House]


The man in the turret had vanished like a ghost.  Henderson, on the day
after the tragedy, was also not to be found.  Like certain Ruthvens, Hew
Moncrieff, Eviot, and others, who had fought in the death-chamber, or
been distinguished in the later riot, Henderson had fled.  He was, though
a retainer of Gowrie, a member of the Town Council of Perth, and
‘chamberlain,’ or ‘factor,’ of the lands of Scone, then held by Gowrie
from the King.  To find any one who had seen him during the tumult was
difficult or impossible.  William Robertson, a notary of Perth, examined
in November before the Parliamentary Committee, said then that he only
saw Gowrie, with his two drawn swords, and seven or eight companions, in
the forecourt of the house, and so, ‘being afraid, he passed out of the
place.’  The same man, earlier, on September 23, when examined with other
citizens of Perth, had said that he followed young Tullibardine and some
of his men, who were entering the court ‘to relieve the King.’ {60}  He
saw the Master lying dead at the foot of the stair, and saw Henderson
‘come out of the said turnpike, over the Master’s belly.’  He spoke to
Henderson, who did not answer.  He remembered that Murray of Arbany was
present.  Arbany, before the Parliamentary Committee in November, said
nothing on this subject, _nor did Robertson_.  His evidence would have
been important, had he adhered to what he said on September 23.  But,
oddly enough, if he perjured himself on the earlier occasion (September
23), he withdrew his perjury, when it would have been useful to the
King’s case, in the evidence given before the Lords of the Articles, in
November.  Mr. Barbé, perhaps misled by the sequence of versions in
Pitcairn, writes: ‘Apparently it was only when his memory had been
stimulated by the treatment of those whose evidence was found to be
favourable to the King that the wily notary recalled the details by which
he intended to corroborate Henderson’s statement. . . . ’ {61a}

The reverse is the case: the wily notary did not offer, at the trial in
November, the evidence which he had given, in September, at the
examination of the citizens of Perth.  It may perhaps be inferred that
perjury was not encouraged, but depressed. {61b}

Despite the premiums on perjury which Ruthven apologists insist on, not
one witness would swear to having seen Henderson during or after the
tumult.  Yet he instantly fled, with others who had been active in the
brawl, and remained in concealment.  Calderwood, the earnest collector of
contemporary gossip and documents, assures us that when the man in the
turret could not be found, the first proclamation identified him with a
Mr. Robert Oliphant, a ‘black grim man,’ but that Oliphant proved his
absence from Perth.  One Gray and one Lesley were also suspected, and one
Younger (hiding when sought for, it is said) was killed.  But we have no
copy of the proclamation as to Mr. Robert Oliphant.  To Mr. Robert
Oliphant, who had an alibi, we shall return, for this gentleman, though
entirely overlooked by our historians, was probably at the centre of the
situation (p. 71, _infra_).

Meanwhile, whatever Henderson had done, he mysteriously vanished from
Gowrie House, during or after the turmoil, ‘following darkness like a
dream.’  Nobody was produced who could say anything about seeing
Henderson, after Moncrieff and the Hays saw him on his return from
Falkland, at about ten o’clock in the morning of August 5.

By August 12, Henderson was still in hiding, and was still being
proclaimed for, with others, of whom Mr. Robert Oliphant was not one:
they were Moncrieff, Eviot, and two Ruthvens. {63a}  But, on August 11 at
the Cross of Edinburgh, in presence of the King, his chaplain, the Rev.
Patrick Galloway, gave news of Henderson.  Mr. Galloway had been minister
of Perth, and a fierce Presbyterian of old.

    Blow, Galloway, the trumpet of the Lord!

exclaimed a contemporary poet.  But James had tamed Galloway, he was now
the King’s chaplain, he did not blow the trumpet of the Lord any longer,
and, I fear, was capable of anything.  He had a pension, Calderwood tells
us, from the lands of Scone, and knew Henderson, who, as Chamberlain, or
steward, paid the money.  In his exciting sermon, Galloway made a
dramatic point.  Henderson was found, and Henderson was the man in the
turret!  Galloway had received a letter from Henderson, in his own hand;
any listener who knew Henderson’s hand might see the letter.  Henderson
tells his tale therein; Galloway says that it differs almost nothing from
the King’s story, of which he had given an abstract in his discourse.
And he adds that Henderson stole downstairs while Ramsay was engaged with
the Master. {63b}

Henderson, being now in touch with Galloway, probably received promise of
his life, and of reward, for he came in before August 20, and, at the
trial in November, was relieved of the charge of treason, and gave

Here we again ask, Why did Henderson take to flight?  What had he to do
with the matter?  None fled but those who had been seen, sword in hand,
in the fatal chamber, or stimulating the populace to attack the King
during the tumult.  Andrew Ruthven, who had ridden to Falkland with
Henderson and the Master, did not run away, no proclamation for _him_ is
on record.  Nobody swore to seeing Henderson, like his fellow fugitives,
armed or active, yet he fled and skulked.  Manifestly Henderson had, in
one way or other, been suspiciously concerned in the affair.  He had come
in, and was at Falkland, by August 20, when he was examined before the
Chancellor, Montrose, the King’s Advocate, Sir Thomas Hamilton, Sir
George Hume of Spot (later Earl of Dunbar), and others, in the King’s
absence.  He deponed that, on the night of August 4, Gowrie bade him and
Andrew Ruthven ride early to Falkland with the Master, and return, if the
Master ordered him so to do, with a message.  At Falkland they went into
a house, {64} and the Master sent him to learn what the King was doing.
He came back with the news; the Master talked with the King, then told
Henderson to carry to Gowrie the tidings of the King’s visit, ‘and that
his Majesty would be quiet.’  Henderson asked if he was to start at once.
Ruthven told him to wait till he spoke to the King again.  They did
speak, at a gap in a wall, during the check in the run; Ruthven returned
to Henderson, sent him off, and Henderson reached Perth about ten
o’clock.  Gowrie, on his arrival, left the company he was with (the two
Hays), and here George Hay’s evidence makes Gowrie ask Henderson ‘who was
with the King at Falkland?’  Hay said that Gowrie then took Henderson
into another room.  Henderson says nothing about a question as to the
King’s company, asked in presence of Hay, a compromising and improbable
question, if Gowrie wished to conceal the visit to Falkland.

Apart, Gowrie put some other questions to Henderson as to how the King
received the Master.  Henderson then went to his house; an hour later
Gowrie bade him put on his secret coat of mail, and plate sleeves, as he
had to arrest a Highlander.  Henderson did as commanded; at twelve the
steward told him to bring up dinner, as Craigengelt (the caterer) was
ill.  Dinner began at half-past twelve; at the second course the Master
entered, Andrew Ruthven had arrived earlier.  The company rose from
table, and Henderson, who was not at the moment in the room, heard them
moving, and thought that they were ‘going to make breeks for Maconilduy,’
that is, to catch the Highlander.  Finding he was wrong, he threw his
steel gauntlet into the pantry, and sent his boy to his house with his
steel cap.  He then followed Gowrie to meet the King, and, after he had
fetched ‘a drink’ (which James says ‘was long in coming’), the Master
bade him ask Mr. Rhynd, Gowrie’s old tutor, for the key of the gallery,
which Rhynd brought to the Master.  Gowrie then went up, and spoke with
the Master, and, after some coming and going, Henderson was sent to the
Master in the gallery.  Thither Gowrie returned, and bade Henderson do
whatever the Master commanded.  (The King says that Gowrie came and went
from the room, during his dinner.)  The Master next bade Henderson enter
the turret, and locked him in.  He passed the time in terror and in

There follows the story of the entry of James and the Master, and
Henderson now avers that he ‘threw’ the dagger out of the Master’s hand.
He declares that the Master said that he wanted ‘a promise from the
King,’ on what point Gowrie would explain.  The rest is much as in the
King’s account, but Henderson was ‘pressing to have opened the window,’
he says, when the Master entered for the second time, with the garter to
bind the King’s hands.  During the struggle Henderson removed the
Master’s hand from the King’s mouth, and opened the window.  The Master
said to him, ‘Wilt thou not help?  Woe betide thee, thou wilt make us all
die.’ {67a}

Henderson’s later deposition, at the trial in November, was mainly, but
not without discrepancies, to the same effect as his first.  He said that
he prayed, when alone in the turret, but omits the statement (previously
made by him) that he deprived Ruthven of his dagger, a very improbable
tale, told falsely at first, no doubt, as Robertson the notary at first
invented his fable about meeting with Henderson, coming out of the dark
staircase.  This myth Robertson narrated when examined in September, but
omitted it in the trial in November.  Henderson now explained about his
first opening the wrong window, but he sticks to it that he took the
garter from Ruthven, of which James says nothing.  He vows that he turned
the key of the door on the staircase, so that Ramsay could enter, whereas
Ramsay averred that he himself forced the door.  Mr. Hudson (James’s
resident at the Court of England), who in October 1600 interviewed both
Henderson and the King, says that, in fact, the Master had not locked the
door, on his re-entry. {67b}  Henderson slunk out when Ramsay came in.
He adds that it was _his_ steel cap which was put on Gowrie’s head by a
servant (there was plenty of evidence that a steel cap was thus put on).

One singular point in Henderson’s versions is this: after Ruthven, in
deference to James’s harangue in the turret, had taken off his hat, the
King said, ‘What is it ye crave, man, if ye crave not my life?’  ‘_Sir_,
_it is but a promise_,’ answered Ruthven.  The King asked ‘What promise?’
and Ruthven said that his brother would explain.  This tale looks like a
confusion made, by Henderson’s memory, in a passage in James’s narrative.
‘His Majesty inquired what the Earl would do with him, since (if his
Majesty’s life were safe, _according to promise_) they could gain little
in keeping such a prisoner.’  Ruthven then, in James’s narrative, said
‘that the Earl would tell his Majesty at his coming.’  It appears that
the word ‘promise’ in the Royal version, occurring at this point in the
story, clung to Henderson’s memory, and so crept into his tale.  Others
have thought that the Ruthvens wished to extort from James a promise
about certain money which he owed to Gowrie.  But to extort a promise, by
secluding and threatening the King, would have been highly treasonable
and dangerous, nor need James have kept a promise made under duress.

Perhaps few persons who are accustomed to weigh and test evidence, who
know the weaknesses of human memories, and the illusions which impose
themselves upon our recollections, will lay great stress on the
discrepancies between Henderson’s first deposition (in August), his
second (in November), and the statement of the King.  In the footnote
printed below, {69a} Hudson explains the origin of certain differences
between the King’s narrative and Henderson’s evidence, given in August.
Hudson declares that James boasted of having taken the dagger out of
Ruthven’s hands (which, in fact, James does not do, in his published
narration), and that Henderson claimed to have snatched the dagger away,
‘to move mercy by more merit.’  It is clear that James would not accept
his story of disarming Ruthven; Henderson omits _that_ in his second
deposition.  For the rest, James, who was quite clever enough to discover
the discrepancies, let them stand, at the end of his own printed
narrative, with the calm remark, that if any differences existed in the
depositions, they must be taken as ‘uttered by the deponer in his own
behouf, for obtaining of his Majesty’s princely grace and favour.’ {69b}
Henderson’s first deposition was one of these which James printed with
his own narrative, and thus treated _en prince_.  He was not going to
harmonise his evidence with Henderson’s, or Henderson’s with his.  On the
other hand, from the first, Henderson had probably the opportunity to
frame his confession on the Falkland letter of August 5 to the
Chancellor, and the Provost of Edinburgh; and, later, on the printed
narrative officially issued at the close of August 1600.  He varied, when
he did vary, in hopes of ‘his Majesty’s princely grace and favour,’ and
he naturally tried to make out that he was not a mere trembling
expostulating caitiff.  He clung to the incident of the garter which he
snatched from the Master’s hand.

Henderson had no Royal model for his account of how he came to be in the
turret, which James could only learn from himself.  Now that is the most
incredible part of Henderson’s narrative.  However secret the Ruthvens
may have desired to be, how could they trust everything to the chance
that the town councillor of Perth, upper footman, and Chamberlain of
Scone, would act the desperate part of seizing a king, without training
and without warning?

But _was_ Henderson unwarned and uninstructed, or, did he fail after
ample instruction?  That is the difficult point raised by the very
curious case of Mr. Robert Oliphant, which has never been mentioned, I
think, by the many minute students of this bewildering affair.


Suppose that men like the Ruthvens, great and potent nobles, had secretly
invited their retainer, Andrew Henderson, to take the _rôle_ of the armed
man in the turret, what could Henderson have done?  Such proposals as
this were a danger dreaded even by the most powerful.  Thus, in March
1562, James Hepburn, the wicked Earl of Bothwell, procured, through John
Knox, a reconciliation with his feudal enemy, Arran.  The brain of Arran
was already, it seems, impaired.  A few days after the reconciliation he
secretly consulted Knox on a delicate point.  Bothwell, he said, had
imparted to him a scheme whereby they should seize Queen Mary’s person,
and murder her secretary, Lethington, and her half-brother, Lord James
Stuart, later Earl of Moray.  Arran explained to Knox that, if ever the
plot came to light, he would be involved in the crime of guilty
concealment of foreknowledge of treason.  But, if he divulged the plan,
Bothwell would challenge him to trial by combat.  Knox advised secrecy,
but Arran, now far from sane, revealed the real or imagined conspiracy.

To a man like Henderson, the peril in simply listening to treasonable
proposals from the Ruthvens would be even greater.  If he merely declined
to be a party, and kept silence, or fled, he lost his employment as
Gowrie’s man, and would be ruined.  If the plot ever came to light, he
would be involved in guilty concealment of foreknowledge.  If he
instantly revealed to the King what he knew, his word would not be
accepted against that of Gowrie: he would be tortured, to get at the very
truth, and probably would be hanged by way of experiment, to see if he
would adhere to his statement on the scaffold—a fate from which
Henderson, in fact, was only saved by the King.

What then, if the Gowries offered to Henderson the _rôle_ of the man in
the turret, could Henderson do?  He could do what, according to James and
to himself, he did, he could tremble, expostulate, and assure the King of
his ignorance of the purpose for which he was locked up, ‘like a dog,’ in
the little study.

That this may have been the real state of affairs is not impossible.  We
have seen that Calderwood mentions a certain Mr. Robert Oliphant (Mr.
means Master of Arts) as having been conjectured at, immediately after
the tragedy, as the man in the turret.  He must therefore have been, and
he was, a trusted retainer of Gowrie.  But Oliphant at once proved an
alibi; he was not in Perth on August 5.  His name never occurs in the
voluminous records of the proceedings.  He is not, like Henderson, among
the persons who fled, and for whom search was made, as far as the
documents declare, though Calderwood says that he was described as a
‘black grim man’ in ‘the first proclamation.’  If so, it looks ill for
James, as Henderson was a brown fair man.  In any case, Oliphant at once
cleared himself.

But we hear of him again, though historians have overlooked the fact.
Among the Acts of Caution of 1600—that is, the records of men who become
sureties for the good behaviour of others—is an entry in the Privy
Council Register for December 5, 1600. {73}  ‘Mr. Alexander Wilky in the
Canongate for John Wilky, tailor there, 200_l._, not to harm John Lyn,
also tailor there; further, to answer when required touching his (John
Wilky’s) pursuit of Lyn for revealing certain speeches spoken to him by
Mr. Robert Oliphant anent his foreknowledge of the treasonable conspiracy
of the late John, sometime Earl of Gowrie.’

Thus Robert Oliphant, M.A., had spoken to tailor Lyn, or so Lyn had
declared, about his own foreknowledge of the plot; Lyn had blabbed;
tailor Wilky had ‘pursued’ or attacked Lyn; and Alexander Wilky, who was
bailie of the Canongate, enters into recognisances to the amount of
200_l._ that John Wilky shall not further molest Lyn.

Now what had Oliphant said?

On the very day, December 5, when Alexander Wilky became surety for the
good behaviour of John Wilky, Nicholson, the English resident at
Holyrood, described the facts to Robert Cecil. {74a}  Nicholson says
that, at a house in the Canongate, Mr. Robert Oliphant was talking of the
Gowrie case.  He was a man who had travelled, and he inveighed against
the unfairness of Scottish procedure in the case of Cranstoun.

We have seen that Mr. Thomas Cranstoun, Gowrie’s equerry, first brought
to Lennox and others, in the garden, the report that the King had ridden
away.  We have seen that he was deeply wounded by Ramsay just before or
after Gowrie fell.  Unable to escape, he was taken, examined, tortured,
tried on August 22, and, on August 23, hanged at Perth.  He had invaded
and wounded Herries, and Thomas Erskine, and had encouraged the mob to
beleaguer the back gate of Gowrie House, against the King’s escape.  He
had been in France, he said, since 1589, had come home with Gowrie, but,
he swore, had not spoken six words with the Ruthvens during the last
fortnight. {74b}  This is odd, as he was their Master Stabler, and as
they, by their friends’ account, had been making every preparation to
leave for Dirleton, which involved arrangements about their horses.

In any case, Mr. Robert Oliphant, in a house in the Canongate, in
November or early December 1600, declared that Cranstoun, who, he said,
knew nothing of the conspiracy, had been hanged, while Henderson, _who
was in the secret_, _and had taken the turret part_, escaped, and
retained his position as Chamberlain of Scone.  Henderson, at the
critical moment, had ‘fainted,’ said Oliphant; that is, had failed from
want of courage.  Oliphant went on to say that he himself had been with
Gowrie in Paris (February-March 1600), and that, both in Paris and at
home in Scotland later, Gowrie had endeavoured to induce him to take the
part later offered to Henderson.  He had tried, but in vain, to divert
Gowrie’s mind from his dangerous project.  This talk of Oliphant’s leaked
out (through Lyn as we know), and Oliphant, says Nicholson, ‘fled again.’

Of Oliphant we learn no more till about June 1608.  At that time, the
King, in England, heard a rumour that he had been connected with the
conspiracy.  A Captain Patrick Heron {76} obtained a commission to find
Oliphant, and arrested him at Canterbury: he was making for Dover and for
France.  Heron seized Oliphant’s portable property, ‘eight angels, two
half rose-nobles, one double pistolet, two French crowns and a half, one
Albertus angel; two English crowns; one Turkish piece of gold, two gold
rings, and a loose stone belonging to one; three Netherland dollars; one
piece of four royals; two _quart decuria_; seven pieces of several coins
of silver; two purses, one sword; one trunk, one “mail,” and two
budgetts.’  Oliphant himself lay for nine months in ‘the Gate House of
Westminster,’ but Heron, ‘careless to justify his accusation, and
discovering his aim in that business’ (writes the King), ‘presently
departed from hence.’  ‘We have tried the innocency of Mr. Robert
Oliphant,’ James goes on, ‘and have freed him from prison.’  The Scottish
Privy Council is therefore ordered, on March 6, 1609, to make Heron
restore Oliphant’s property.  On May 16, 1609, Heron was brought before
the Privy Council in Edinburgh, and was bidden to make restitution.  He
was placed in the Tolbooth, but released by Lindsay, the keeper of the
prison.  In March 1610, Oliphant having again gone abroad, Heron
expressed his readiness to restore the goods, except the trunk and bags,
which he had given to the English Privy Council, who restored them to
Robert Oliphant.  The brother of Robert, Oliphant of Bauchiltoun,
represented him in his absence, and, in 1611, Robert got some measure of
restitution from Heron.

We know no more of Mr. Robert Oliphant. {77}  His freedom of talk was
amazing, but perhaps he had been drinking when he told the story of his
connection with the plot.  By 1608 nothing could be proved against him in
London: in 1600, had he not fled from Edinburgh in December, something
might have been extracted.  We can only say that his version of the case
is less improbable than Henderson’s.  Henderson—if approached by Gowrie,
as Oliphant is reported to have said that he _was_—could not divulge the
plot, could not, like Oliphant, a gentleman, leave Perth, and desert his
employment.  So perhaps he drifted into taking the _rôle_ of the man in
the turret.  If so, he had abundance of time to invent his most
improbable story that he was shut up there in ignorance of the purpose of
his masters.

Henderson was not always of the lamblike demeanour which he displayed in
the turret.  On March 5, 1601, Nicholson reports that ‘Sir Hugh Herries,’
the lame doctor, ‘and Henderson fell out and were at offering of
strokes,’ whence ‘revelations’ were anticipated.  They never came, and,
for all that we know, Herries may have taunted Henderson with Oliphant’s
version of his conduct.  He was pretty generally suspected of having been
in the conspiracy, and of having failed, from terror, and then betrayed
his masters, while pretending not to have known why he was placed in the

It is remarkable that Herries did not appear as a witness at the trial in
November.  He was knighted and rewarded: every one almost was rewarded
out of Gowrie’s escheats, or forfeited property.  But that was natural,
whether James was guilty or innocent; and we repeat that the rewards,
present or in prospect, did not produce witnesses ready to say that they
saw Henderson at Falkland, or in the tumult, or in the turret.  Why men
so freely charged with murderous conspiracy and false swearing were so
dainty on these and other essential points, the advocates of the theory
of perjury may explain.  How James treated discrepancies in the evidence
we have seen.  His account was the true account, he would not alter it,
he would not suppress the discrepancies of Henderson, except as to the
dagger.  Witnesses might say this or that to secure the King’s princely
favour.  Let them say: the King’s account is true.  This attitude is
certainly more dignified, and wiser, than the easy method of harmonising
all versions before publication.  Meanwhile, if there were discrepancies,
they were held by sceptics to prove falsehood; if there had been absolute
harmony, that would really have proved collusion.  On one point I suspect
suppression at the trial.  Almost all versions aver that Ramsay, or
another, said to Gowrie, ‘You have slain the King,’ and that Gowrie (who
certainly did not mean murder) then dropped his points and was stabbed.
Of this nothing is said, at the trial, by any witnesses.


We now come to the evidence which is most fatally damaging to the two
unfortunate Ruthvens.  It is the testimony of their contemporary
Vindication.  Till a date very uncertain, a tradition hung about Perth
that some old gentlemen remembered having seen a Vindication of the
Ruthvens; written at the time of the events. {80}  Antiquaries vainly
asked each other for copies of this valuable apology.  Was it printed,
and suppressed by Royal order?  Did it circulate only in manuscript?

In 1812 a Mr. Panton published a vehement defence of the Ruthvens.
Speaking of the King’s narrative, he says, ‘In a short time afterwards a
reply, or counter manifesto, setting forth the matter in its true light,
written by some friend of the Ruthven family, made its appearance.  The
discovery of this performance would now be a valuable acquisition; but
there is no probability that any such exists, as the Government instantly
ordered the publication to be suppressed. . . . ’

The learned and accurate Lord Hailes, writing in the second half of the
eighteenth century (1757), says, ‘It appears by a letter of Sir John
Carey, Governor’ (really Deputy Governor) ‘of Berwick, to Cecil, 4th
September, 1600, that some treatise had been published in Scotland, in
vindication of Gowrie.’  That ‘treatise,’ or rather newsletter, unsigned,
and overlooked by our historians (as far as my knowledge goes), is extant
in the Record Office. {81}  We can identify it as the document mentioned
by Carey to Cecil in his letter of September 4, 1600.  Carey was then in
command of Berwick, the great English frontier fortress, for his chief,
‘the brave Lord Willoughby,’ was absent on sick leave.  On September 4,
then, from Berwick, Carey wrote to Sir Robert Cecil, ‘I have thought good
to send you such’ (information) ‘as I have received out of Scotland this
morning on both sides, both on the King’s part and the Earl’s part, that
you may read them both together.’

Now we possess a manuscript, ‘The Verie Maner of the Erll of Gowrie and
his brother their Death, quha war killit at Perth, the fyft of August, by
the Kingis Servanttis, his Majestie being present.’  This paper is
directed to ‘My Lord Governor,’ and, as Carey was acting for ‘My Lord
Governor,’ Lord Willoughby, at Berwick, he received and forwarded the
document to Cecil.  This is the Vindication, at least I know no other,
and no printed copy, though Nicholson writes that a ‘book on the Ruthven
side was printed in England’ (October 28, 1600).

The manuscript is in bad condition, in parts illegible; acids appear to
have been applied to it.  The story, however, from the Gowrie side, can
be easily made out.  It alleges that, ‘on Saturday, August 1’ (really
August 2), the lame Dr Herries came, on some pretext, to Gowrie’s house.
‘This man by my Lord was convoyed through the house, and the secret parts
shown him.’

Now there was no ‘secret part’ in the house, as far as the narratives go.
The entry to the narrow staircase was inconspicuous, but was noticed by
Ramsay, and, of course, was familiar to Gowrie and his men.  On Tuesday,
the fatal day (according to the Ruthven Vindication), Gowrie’s retainers
were preparing to go with him ‘to Lothian,’ that is to Dirleton, a castle
of his on the sea, hard by North Berwick.  The narrator argues, as all
the friends of the Ruthvens did, that, if Gowrie had intended any
treason, his men would not have been busy at their houses with
preparations for an instant removal.  The value of this objection is
null.  If Gowrie had a plot, it probably was to carry the King to
Dirleton with him, in disguise.

                        [Picture: Dirleton Castle]

The Master, the apology goes on, whom the King had sent for ‘divers times
before, and on August 5,’ rode early to Falkland, accompanied by Andrew
Ruthven, and _Andrew Henderson_.  None of James’s men, nor James himself,
as we have remarked, saw Henderson at Falkland, and modern opponents of
the King deny (as the aforesaid Mr. Panton does) that he was there.  Here
they clash with ‘The Verie Manner’ &c. issued at the time by Gowrie’s
defenders.  It avers that the Master, and his two men, did not intend to
return from Falkland to Perth.  They meant to sleep at Falkland on the
night of the Fifth, and meet Gowrie, next day, August 6, ‘at the
waterside,’ and cross with him to the south coast of the Firth of Forth,
thence riding on (as other friendly accounts allege) to Dirleton, near
North Berwick.  ‘And Andrew Henderson’s confessions testified this.’  As
published, they do nothing of the sort.  The Master ‘took his lodging in
Falkland for this night.’  Hearing that James was to hunt, the Master
breakfasted, and went to look for him.  After a conversation with James,
he bade Henderson ride back to Perth, and tell Gowrie that, ‘_for what
occasion he knew not_,’ the King was coming.  Now after they all arrived
at Perth, the Master told Gowrie’s caterer, Craigengelt, that the King
had come, ‘because Robert Abercrombie, that false knave, had brought the
King there, to make his Majesty take order for his debt.’ {83}   This
fact was stated by Craigengelt himself, under examination.  If Ruthven
spoke the truth, he did know the motive, or pretext, of the King’s
coming, which the apologist denies.  But Ruthven was not speaking the
truth; he told Craigengelt, as we saw, that he had been ‘on an errand not
far off.’

As to the debt, James owed Gowrie a large sum, with accumulated interest,
for expenses incurred by Gowrie’s father, when Lord Treasurer of Scotland
(1583–1584).  James, in June 1600, as we shall see, gave Gowrie a year’s
respite from the pursuit of his father’s creditors, hoping to pay him in
the meanwhile.  Whether this exemption would not have defended Gowrie
from Robert Abercromby; whether James would act as debt collector for
Robert Abercromby (a burgess of Edinburgh, the King’s saddler), the
reader may decide.  But the Master gave to Craigengelt this reason for
James’s unexpected arrival, though his contemporary apologist says, as to
James’s motive for coming to Perth, that the Master ‘_knew nothing_.’

Henderson having cantered off with his message, James rode to Perth
(nothing is said by the apologist of the four hours spent in hunting),
‘accompanied by sixty horsemen, of whom thirty came a little before him.’
No trace of either the sixty or the thirty appears anywhere in the
evidence.  No witness alludes to the arrival of any of the King’s party
in front of him.  On hearing from Henderson of the King’s approach, says
the Vindication, Gowrie, who was dining, ordered a new meal to be
prepared.  All the other evidence shows that Henderson came back to Perth
long before Gowrie dined, and that nevertheless Gowrie made no
preparations at all.  Gowrie, with four others, then met the King, on the
Inch of Perth says the apologist.  James kissed him when they met, the
kiss of Judas, we are to understand.  He entered the house, and all the
keys were given to James’s retainers.  The porter, as we saw, really had
the keys, and Gowrie opened the garden gate with one of them.  The
apologist is mendacious.

Dinner was soon over.  James sent the Master to bid Ramsay and Erskine
‘follow him to his chamber, where his Majesty, Sir Thomas Erskine, John
Ramsay, Dr. Herries, and Mr. Wilson, being convened, slew the Master, and
threw him down the stair, how, and for what cause they [know best]
themselves.’  Of course it is absolutely certain that the Master did not
bring the other three men to James, in the chamber where the Master was
first wounded.  Undeniably Herries, Ramsay, and Erskine were not brought
by the Master, at James’s command, to this room.  They did not enter it
till after the cries of ‘Treason’ were yelled by James from the window of
the turret.  A servant of James’s, says the apologist, now brought the
news that the King had ridden away.  Cranstoun, Gowrie’s man, really did
this, as he admitted.  Gowrie, the author goes on, hearing of James’s
departure, called for his horse, and went out into the street.  There he
stood ‘abiding his horse.’  Now Cranstoun, as he confessed, had told
Gowrie that his horse was at Scone, two miles away.  By keeping his
horses there, Gowrie made it impossible for him to accompany the Royal
retinue as they went on their useless errand (p. 21, _supra_).  In the
street Gowrie ‘hears his Majesty call on him out at the chamber window,
“My Lord of Gowrie, traitors has murdered your brother already, and ye
suffer me to be murdered also!”’

Nobody else heard this, and, if Gowrie heard it, how inept it was in him
to go about asking ‘What is the matter?’  He was occupied thus while
Lennox, Mar, and the others were rushing up the great staircase to rescue
the King.  James, according to the Ruthven apologist, had told Gowrie
what the matter was, his brother was slain, and slain by Erskine, who,
while the Earl asked ‘What is the matter?’ was trying to collar that
distracted nobleman.  The Master had brought Erskine to the King, says
the apologist, Erskine had slain the Master, yet, simultaneously, he
tried to seize Gowrie in the street.  Erskine was in two places at once.
The apology is indeed ‘a valuable acquisition.’  Gowrie and Cranstoun,
and they alone, the apologist avers, were now permitted by James’s
servants to enter the house.  We know that many of James’s men were
really battering at the locked door, and we know that others of Gowrie’s
people, besides Cranstoun, entered the house, and were wounded in the
scuffle.  Cranstoun himself says nothing of any opposition to their entry
to the house, after Gowrie drew his two swords.

Cranstoun, according to the apologist, first entered the chamber, alone,
and was wounded, and drawn back by Gowrie—which Cranstoun, in his own
statement, denies.  After his wounds he fled, he says, seeing no more of
Gowrie.  Then, according to the apologist, Gowrie himself at last entered
the chamber; the King’s friends attacked him, but he was too cunning of
fence for them.  They therefore parleyed, and promised to let him see the
King (who was in the turret).  Gowrie dropped his points, Ramsay stabbed
him, he died committing his soul to God, and declaring that he was a true

This narrative, we are told by its author, is partly derived from the
King’s men, partly from the confessions of Cranstoun, Craigengelt, and
Baron (accused of having been in the chamber-fight, and active in the
tumult).  All these three were tried and hanged.  The apologist adds that
James’s companions will swear to whatever he pleases.  This was unjust;
Ramsay would not venture to recognise the man of whom he caught a glimpse
in the turret, and nobody pretended to have seen Henderson at Falkland,
though the presence of Henderson at Falkland and in the chamber was an
essential point.  But, among the King’s crew of perjurers, not a man
swore to either fact.

What follows relates to Gowrie’s character; ‘he had paid all his father’s
debts,’ which most assuredly he had not done.  As to the causes of his
taking off, they are explained by the apologist, but belong to a later
part of the inquiry.

Such was the contemporary Vindication of Gowrie, sent to Carey, at
Berwick, for English reading, and forwarded by Carey to Cecil.  The
narrative is manifestly false, on the points which we have noted.  It is
ingeniously asserted by the vindicator that _a servant of James_ brought
the report that he had ridden away.  It is not added that the false
report was really brought by Cranstoun, and twice confirmed by Gowrie,
once after he had gone to make inquiry upstairs.  Again, the apologist
never even hints at the locked door of the gallery chamber, whereat Mar,
Lennox, and the rest so long and so vainly battered.  Who locked that
door, and why?  The subject is entirely omitted by the apologist.  On the
other hand, the apologist never alludes to the Murrays, who were in the
town.  Other writers soon after the events, and in our own day, allege
that James had arranged his plot so as to coincide with the presence of
the Murrays in Perth.  What they did to serve him we have heard.  John
Murray was wounded by a Ruthven partisan after the Earl and Master were
dead.  Some Murrays jostled Gowrie, before he rushed to his death.  Young
Tullibardine helped to pacify the populace.  That is all.  Nothing more
is attributed to the Murrays, and the contemporary apologist did not try
to make capital out of them.

Though the narrative of the contemporary apologist for the Ruthvens
appears absolutely to lack evidence for its assertions, it reveals, on
analysis, a consistent theory of the King’s plot.  It may not be
verifiable; in fact it cannot be true, but there is a theory, a system,
which we do not find in most contemporary, or in more recent arguments.
James, by the theory, is intent on the destruction of the Ruthvens.  His
plan was to bring the Master to Falkland, and induce the world to believe
that it was the Master who brought _him_ to Perth.  The Master refuses
several invitations; at last, on his way to Dirleton, he goes to
Falkland, taking with him Andrew Ruthven and Andrew Henderson.  The old
apologist asserts, what modern vindicators deny, that Henderson was at

Then the Master sends Henderson first, Andrew Ruthven later, to warn
Gowrie that, for some unknown reason, the King is coming.  To conceal his
bloody project (though the apologist does not mention the circumstance),
James next passes four hours in hunting.  _To omit this certain fact is
necessary for the apologist’s purpose_.  The King sends thirty horsemen
in front of him, and follows with thirty more.  After dinner he leaves
the hall with the Master, but sends him back for Erskine, Wilson, and
Ramsay.  James having secured their help, and next lured the Master into
a turret, the minions kill Ruthven and throw his body downstairs; one of
them, simultaneously, is in the street.  James has previously arranged
that one of his servants shall give out that the King has ridden away.
This he does announce at the nick of time (though Gowrie’s servant did
it), so that Gowrie shall go towards the stables (where he expects to
find his horse, though he knows it is at Scone), thus coming within
earshot of the turret window.  Thence James shouts to Gowrie that
traitors are murdering him, and have murdered the Master.  Now this news
would bring, not only Gowrie, but all the Royal retinue, to his Majesty’s
assistance.  But, as not knowing the topography of the house, the
retinue, James must have calculated, will run up the main stairs, to
rescue the King.  Their arrival would be inconvenient to the King (as the
nobles would find that James has only friends with him, not traitors), so
the King has had the door locked (we guess, though we are not told this
by the apologist) to keep out Lennox, Mar, and the rest.  Gowrie,
however, has to be admitted, and killed, and Gowrie, knowing the house,
will come, the King calculates, by the dark stair, and the unlocked door.
Therefore James’s friends, in the street, will let him and Cranstoun
enter the house; these two alone, and no others with them.  They, knowing
the narrow staircase, go up that way, naturally.  As naturally, Gowrie
lets Cranstoun face the danger of four hostile swords, alone.  Waiting
till Cranstoun is disabled, Gowrie then confronts, alone, the same
murderous blades, is disarmed by a _ruse_, and is murdered.

This explanation has a method, a system.  Unfortunately it is
contradicted by all the evidence now to be obtained, from whatever source
it comes, retainers of Gowrie, companions of James, or burgesses of
Perth.  We must suppose that Gowrie, with his small force of himself and
Cranstoun, both fencers from the foreign schools, would allow that force
to be cut off in detail, one by one.  We must suppose that Erskine was
where he certainly was not, in two places at once, and that Ramsay and
Herries and he, unseen, left the hall and joined the King, on a message
brought by the Master, unmarked by any witness.  We must suppose that the
King’s witnesses, who professed ignorance on essential points, perjured
themselves on others, in batches.  But, if we grant that Mar, Lennox, and
the rest—gentlemen, servants, retainers and menials of the Ruthvens, and
citizens of Perth—were abandoned perjurers on some points, while
scrupulously honourable on others equally essential, the narrative of the
Ruthven apologist has a method, a consistency, which we do not find in
modern systems unfavourable to the King.

For example, the modern theories easily show how James trapped the
Master.  He had only to lure him into a room, and cry ‘Treason.’  Then,
even if untutored in his part, some hot-headed young man like Ramsay
would stab Ruthven.  But to deal with Gowrie was a more difficult task.
He would be out in the open, surrounded by men like Lennox and Mar, great
nobles, and his near kinsmen.  They would attest the innocence of the
Earl.  They must therefore be separated from him, lured away to attack
the locked door, while Gowrie would stand in the street asking ‘What is
the matter?’ though James had told him, and detained by the Murrays till
they saw fit to let him and Cranstoun go within the gate, alone.  Then,
knowing the topography, Gowrie and Cranstoun would necessarily make for
the murder-chamber, by the dark stair, and perish.  The Royal wit never
conceived a subtler plot, it is much cleverer than that invented by Mr.
G. P. R. James, in his novel, ‘Gowrie.’  Nothing is wrong with the system
of the apologist, except that the facts are false, and the idea a trifle
too subtle, while, instead of boldly saying that the King had the gallery
chamber locked against his friends, the apologist never hints at that

We have to help the contemporary vindicator out, by adding the detail of
the locked door (which he did not see how to account for and therefore
omitted), and by explaining that the King had it locked himself, that
Lennox, Mar, and the rest might not know the real state of the case, and
that Gowrie might be trapped through taking the other way, by the narrow

An author so conspicuously mendacious as he who wrote the Apology for
English consumption is unworthy of belief on any point.  It does not
follow that Henderson was really at Falkland because the apologist says
that he was.  But it would appear that this vindicator could not well
deny the circumstance, and that, to work it conveniently into his fable,
he had to omit the King’s hunting, and to contradict the Hays and
Moncrieff by making Henderson arrive at Perth after twelve instead of
about ten o’clock.

The value of the Apology, so long overlooked, is to show how very poor a
case was the best that the vindicator of the Ruthvens was able to
produce.  But no doubt it was good enough for people who wished to
believe. {93}


So far, the King’s narrative is least out of keeping with probability.

But had James been insulted, menaced, and driven to a personal struggle,
as he declared?  Is the fact not that, finding himself alone with
Ruthven, and an armed man (or no armed man, if you believe that none was
there), James lost his nerve, and cried ‘Treason!’ in mere panic?  The
rest followed from the hot blood of the three courtiers, and the story of
James was invented, after the deaths of the Gowries, to conceal the
truth, and to rob by forfeiture the family of Ruthven.  But James had
certainly told Lennox the story of Ruthven and the pot of gold, before
they reached Perth.  If he came with innocent intent, he had not
concocted that story as an excuse for coming.

We really must be consistent.  Mr. Barbé, a recent Ruthven apologist,
says that the theory of an accidental origin of ‘the struggle between
James and Ruthven may possibly contain a fairly accurate conjecture.’
{94}  But Mr. Barbé also argues that James had invented the pot of gold
story before he left Falkland; that, if James was guilty, ‘the pretext
had been framed’—the myth of the treasure had been concocted—‘long before
their meeting in Falkland, and was held in readiness to use whenever
circumstances required.’  If so, then there is no room at all for the
opinion that the uproar in the turret was accidental, but Mr. Barbé’s
meaning is that James thus forced a quarrel on Ruthven.  For there was no
captive with a pot of gold, nor can accident have caused the tragedy, if
Ruthven lured James to Falkland with the false tale of the golden hoard.
That tale, confided by James to Lennox on the ride to Perth, was either
an invention of the King’s—in which case James is the crafty conspirator
whom Mr. Bruce, in 1602, did not believe him to be (as shall be
shown);—or it is true that Ruthven brought James to Perth by the feigned
story—in which case Ruthven is a conspirator.  I reject, for reasons
already given, the suggestion that Lennox perjured himself, when he swore
that James told him about Ruthven’s narrative as to the captive and his
hoard.  For these reasons alone, there is no room for the hypothesis of
accident: either James or Ruthven was a deliberate traitor.  If James
invented the pot of gold, he is the plotter: if Ruthven did, Ruthven is
guilty.  There is no _via media_, no room for the theory of accident.

The _via media_, the hypothesis of accident, was suggested by Sir William
Bowes, who wrote out his theory, in a letter to Sir John Stanhope, from
Bradley, on September 2, 1600.  Bowes had been English ambassador in
Scotland, probably with the usual commission to side with the King’s
enemies, and especially (much as Elizabeth loathed her own Puritans) with
the party of the Kirk.  His coach had been used for the kidnapping of an
English gentleman then with James, while the Governor of Berwick supplied
a yacht, in case it seemed better to carry off the victim by sea (1599).
Consequently Bowes was unpopular, and needed, and got, a guard of forty
horsemen for his protection.  He was no friend, as may be imagined, of
the King.

Bowes had met Preston, whom James sent to Elizabeth with his version of
the Gowrie affair.  Bowes’s theory of it all was this: James, the Master,
‘and one other attending’ (the man of the turret) were alone in a chamber
of Gowrie House.  Speech arose about the late Earl of Gowrie, Ruthven’s
father, whether by occasion of his portrait on the wall, or otherwise.
‘The King angrily said he was a traitor, whereat the youth showing a
grieved and expostulatory countenance, and haplie Scotlike words, the
King, seeing himself alone and without weapon, cried Treason!’  The
Master placed his hand on James’s mouth, and knelt to deprecate his
anger, but Ramsay stabbed him as he knelt, and Gowrie was slain, Preston
said, after Ramsay had made him drop his guard by crying that the King
was murdered.  The tale of the conspiracy was invented by James to cover
the true state of the case. {96}

This Bowes only puts forth as a working hypothesis.  It breaks down on
the King’s narrative to Lennox about Ruthven’s captive and hoard.  It
breaks down on ‘one other attending’—the man in the turret—whatever else
he may have been, he was no harmless attendant.  It breaks down on the
locked door between the King, and Lennox and Mar, which Bowes omits.  It
is ruined by Gowrie’s repeated false assurances that the King had ridden
away, which Bowes ignores.

The third hypothesis, the _via media_, is impossible.  There was a
deliberate plot on one side or the other.  To make the theory of Bowes
quite clear, his letter is appended to this section. {97}


The most resolute sceptics as to the guilt of the Ruthvens were the
Edinburgh preachers.  They were in constant opposition to the King, and
the young Gowrie was their favourite nobleman.  As to what occurred when
the news of the tragedy reached Edinburgh, early on July 6, we have the
narrative of Mr. Robert Bruce, then the leader of the Presbyterians.  His
own version is printed in the first volume of the Bannatyne Club
Miscellany, and is embodied, with modifications, and without
acknowledgment (as references to such sources were usually omitted at
that period), in Calderwood’s History.

It is thus better to follow Mr. Bruce’s own account, as far as it goes.

The preachers heard the ‘bruit,’ or rumour of the tragedy, by nine
o’clock on the morning of August 6.  By ten o’clock arrived a letter from
James to the Privy Council: the preachers were called first ‘before the
Council of the town,’ and the King’s epistle was read to them.  ‘_It bore
that his Majesty was delivered out of a peril_, and therefore that we
should be commanded to go to our Kirks, convene our people, ring bells,
and give God praises.’  While the preachers were answering, the _Privy_
Council sent for the Provost and some of the _Town_ Council.

The preachers then went to deliberate in the East Kirk, and decided ‘that
we could not enter into the particular defence of’ (the existence of?)
‘the treason, seeing that the King was silent of the treason in his own
letter, and the reports of courtiers varied among themselves.’

This is not easily intelligible.  The letter from Falkland of which
Nicholson gives an account on August 6, was exceedingly ‘particular as to
the treason.’  It is my impression, based mainly on the Burgh Records
quoted by Pitcairn, that the letter with full particulars cited by
Nicholson, was written, more or less officially, by the notary, David
Moysie, who was at Falkland, and that the King’s letter was brief, only
requiring thanksgiving to be offered.  Yet Nicholson says that the letter
with details (written by the King he seems to think), was meant for the
preachers as well as for the Privy Council (cf. p. 38, note).

The preachers, in any case, were now brought before the Privy Council and
desired, by Montrose, the Chancellor, to go to church, and thank God for
the King’s ‘miraculous delivery from that vile treason.’  They replied
that ‘they could not be certain of the treason,’ but would speak of
delivery ‘from a great danger.’  Or they would wait, and, when quite sure
of the treason, would blaze it abroad.

‘They’ (the Council) ‘said it should be sufficient to read his Majesty’s

This appears to mean that the preachers would content the Lords by merely
reading James’s letter aloud to the public.

‘We answered that we could not read his letter’ (aloud to the people?)
‘and doubt of the truth of it.  It would be better to say generally, “if
the _report_ be true.”’

The preachers would have contented the Lords by merely reading James’s
letter aloud to their congregations.  But this they declined to do; they
wished, in the pulpit, to evade the Royal _letter_, and merely to talk,
conditionally, of the possible truth of the _report_, or ‘bruit.’  This
appears to have been a _verbal_ narrative brought by Graham of Balgonie,
which seemed to vary from the long letter probably penned by Moysie.  At
this moment the Rev. David Lindsay, who had been at Falkland, and had
heard James’s story from his own mouth, arrived.  He, therefore, was sent
to tell the tale publicly, at the Cross.  The Council reported to James
that the six Edinburgh preachers ‘would in no ways praise God for his
delivery.’  In fact, they would only do so in general terms.

On August 12, James took the preachers to task.  Bruce explained that
they could thank, and on Sunday had thanked God for the King’s delivery,
but could go no further into detail, ‘in respect we had no certainty.’
‘Had you not my letter?’ asked the King.  Bruce replied that the letter
spoke only ‘of a danger in general.’  Yet the letter reported by
Nicholson was ‘full and particular,’ but that letter the preachers seem
to have regarded as unofficial.  ‘Could not my Council inform you of the
particulars?’ asked the King.  The President (Fyvie, later Chancellor
Dunfermline) said that they had assured the preachers of the certainty of
the treason.  On this Bruce replied that they had only a report, brought
orally by Balgonie, and a letter by Moysie, an Edinburgh notary then at
Falkland, and that these testimonies ‘fought so together that no man
could have any certainty.’  The Secretary (Elphinstone, later Lord
Balmerino) denied the discrepancies.

James now asked what was the preachers’ present opinion?  They had heard
the King himself, the Council, and Mar.  Bruce replied that, as a
minister, he was not fully persuaded.  Four of the preachers adhered to
their scepticism.  Two, Hewat and Robertson, now professed conviction.
The other four were forbidden to preach, under pain of death, and
forbidden to come within ten miles of Edinburgh.  They offered terms, but
these were refused.  The reason of James’s ferocity was that the devout
regarded the preachers as the mouthpieces of God, and so, if _they_
doubted his word, the King’s character would, to the godly, seem no
better than that of a mendacious murderer.

From a modern point of view, the ministers, if doubtful, had a perfect
right to be silent, and one of them, Hall, justly objected that he ought
to wait for the verdict in the civil trial of the dead Ruthvens.  We
shall meet this Hall, and Hewatt (one of the two ministers who professed
belief), in very strange circumstances later (p. 217).  Here it is enough
to have explained the King’s motives for severity.

In September the recalcitrants came before the King at Stirling.  All
professed to be convinced (one, after inquiries in Fife), except Bruce.
We learn what happened next from a letter of his to his wife.  He had
heard from one who had been at Craigengelt’s execution (August 23), that
Craigengelt had then confessed that Henderson had told him how he was
placed by Gowrie in the turret. {103}  Bruce had sent to verify this.
Moreover he would believe, if Henderson were hanged, and adhered to his
deposition to the last: a pretty experiment!  The Comptroller asked,
‘Will you believe a condemned man better than the King and Council?’  Mr.
Bruce admitted that such was his theory of the Grammar of Assent.  ‘If
Henderson die penitently I will trust him.’  Later, as we shall see, this
pleasing experiment was tried in another case, but, though the witness
died penitently, and clinging to his final deposition, not one of the
godly sceptics was convinced.

‘But Henderson saved the King’s life,’ replied the Comptroller to Mr.

‘As to that I cannot tell,’ said Mr. Bruce, and added that, if Henderson
took the dagger from Ruthven, he deserved to die for not sheathing it in
Ruthven’s breast.

Henderson later, we know, withdrew his talk of his seizure of the dagger,
which James had never admitted.  James now said that he knew not what
became of the dagger.

‘Suppose,’ said the Comptroller, ‘Henderson goes back from that

‘Then his testimony is the worse,’ said Mr. Bruce.

‘Then it were better to keep him alive,’ said the Comptroller; but Mr.
Bruce insisted that Henderson would serve James best by dying penitently.
James said that Bruce made him out a murderer.  ‘If I would have taken
their lives, I had causes enough’ (his meaning is unknown), ‘I need not
have hazarded myself so.’  By the ‘causes,’ can James have meant Gowrie’s
attempts to entangle him in negotiations with the Pope? {104}  These were
alleged by Mr. Galloway, in a sermon preached on August 11, in the open
air, before the King and the populace of Edinburgh (see _infra_, p. 128).

Mar wondered that Bruce would not trust men who (like himself) heard the
King cry, and saw the hand at his throat.  Mr. Bruce said that Mar might
believe, ‘as he were there to hear and see.’

He was left to inform himself, but Calderwood says, that the story about
Craigengelt’s dying confession was untrue.  Bruce had frankly given the
lie to the King and Mar, though he remarked that he had never heard Mar
and Lennox tell the tale ‘out of their own mouths.’  Mar later (September
24) most solemnly assured Mr. Bruce by letter, that the treason, ‘in
respect of that I saw,’ was a certain fact.  This he professed ‘before
God in heaven.’  Meanwhile Mr. Hall was restored to his Edinburgh pulpit,
and Mr. Bruce, after a visit to _Restalrig_, a place close to Edinburgh
and Leith, went into banishment. {105a}  If he stayed with the Laird of
Restalrig, he had, as will presently appear, a strange choice in friends
(pp. 148–167).

A later letter of Bruce’s now takes up the tale.  In 1601, Bruce was in
London, when Mar was there as James’s envoy.  They met, and Bruce said he
was content to abide by the verdict in the Gowrie trial of November 1600.
What he boggled at, henceforward, was a public apology for his disbelief,
an acceptance, from the pulpit, of the King’s veracity, as to the events.
In London, Bruce had found that the Puritans, as to the guilt of Essex
(which was flagrant), were in the same position as himself, regarding the
guilt of Gowrie. {105b}  But they bowed to the law, and so would he—‘for
the present.’

The Puritans in England would not _preach_ that they were persuaded of
the guilt of Essex, nor would Bruce preach his persuasion of the guilt of
Gowrie, ‘from my knowledge and from my persuasion.’  He assured Mar ‘that
it was not possible for any man to be fully persuaded, or to take on
their conscience, but so many as saw and heard.’  However Bruce is
self-contradictory.  He _would_ be persuaded, if Henderson swung for it,
adhering to his statement.  Such were Mr. Brace’s theories of evidence.
He added that he was not fully persuaded that there was any hell to go
to, yet probably he scrupled not to preach ‘tidings of damnation.’  He
wanted to be more certain of Gowrie’s guilt, than he was that there is
hell-fire.  ‘Spiteful taunts’ followed, Mar’s repartee to the argument
about hell being obvious.  Bruce must have asserted the existence of
hell, from the pulpit: though not ‘fully persuaded’ of hell.  So why not
assert the King’s innocence?

Bruce returned later to Scotland, and met the King in April 1602.  Now,
he said, according to Calderwood, that he was ‘resolved,’ that is,
convinced.  What convinced him?  Mar’s oath.  ‘How could _he_ swear?’
asked James; ‘he neither saw nor heard’—that is, what passed between
James, the man in the turret, and the Master.  ‘I cannot tell you how he
could swear, but indeed he swore very deeply,’ said Bruce, and reported
the oath, which must have been a fine example.  James took Bruce’s
preference of Mar’s oath to his own word very calmly.  Bruce was troubled
about the exact state of affairs between James and the Master.  ‘Doubt ye
of that?’ said the King, ‘then ye could not but count me a murderer.’
‘It followeth not, if it please you, Sir,’ said Mr. Robert, ‘_for ye
might have had some secret cause_.’ {107a}

Strange ethics!  A man may slay another, without incurring the guilt of
murder, if he has ‘a secret cause.’  Bruce probably referred to the
tattle about a love intrigue between Gowrie, or Ruthven, and the King’s
wife.  Even now, James kept his temper.  He offered his whole story to
Bruce for cross-examination.  ‘Mr. Robert uttered his doubt where he
found occasion.  The King heard him gently, and with a constant
countenance, which Mr. Robert admired.’  But Mr. Robert would not
_preach_ his belief: would not apologise from the pulpit.  ‘I give it but
a doubtsome trust,’ he said.

Again, on June 24, 1602, James invited cross-examination.  Bruce asked
how he could possibly know the direction of his Majesty’s intention when
he ordered Ramsay to strike the Master.  ‘I will give you leave to pose
me’ (interrogate me), said James. {107b}

‘Had you a purpose to slay my Lord?’—that is, Gowrie.

‘As I shall answer to God, I knew not that my Lord was slain, till I saw
him in his last agony, and was very sorry, yea, prayed in my heart for
the same.’

‘What say ye then concerning Mr. Alexander?’

‘I grant I was art and part in Mr. Alexander’s slaughter, for it was in
my own defence.’

‘Why brought you not him to justice, seeing you should have God before
your eyes?’

‘I had neither God nor the Devil, man, before my eyes, but my own

‘Here the King began to fret,’ and no wonder.  He frankly said that ‘he
was one time minded to have spared Mr. Alexander, but being moved for the
time, the motion’ (passion) ‘prevailed.’  He swore, in answer to a
question, that, in the morning, he loved the Master ‘as his brother.’

Bruce was now convinced that James left Falkland innocent of evil
purpose, but, as he was in a passion and revengeful, while struggling
with the Master, ‘he could not be innocent before God.’

Here we leave Mr. Bruce.  He signed a declaration of belief in James’s
narrative; public apologies in the pulpit he would not make.  He was
banished to Inverness, and was often annoyed and ‘put at,’ James
reckoning him a firebrand.

The result, on the showing of the severe and hostile Calderwood, is that,
in Bruce’s opinion, in June 1602, James was guiltless of a plot against
the Ruthvens.  The King’s crime was, not that strangely complicated
project of a double murder, to be inferred from the Ruthven apology, but
words spoken in the heat of blood.  Betrayed, captured, taunted,
insulted, struggling with a subject whom he had treated kindly, James
cried to Ramsay ‘Strike low!’  He knew not the nature and extent of the
conspiracy against him, he knew not what knocking that was at the door of
the chamber, and he told Ramsay to strike; we have no assurance that the
wounds were deadly.

This is how the matter now appeared to Mr. Bruce.  The King swore very
freely to the truth of his tale, and that influenced Bruce, but the
King’s candour as to what passed in his own mind, when he bade Ramsay
strike Ruthven, is more convincing, to a modern critic, than his oaths.
For some reason, Bruce’s real point, that he was satisfied of the King’s
innocence of a plot, but not satisfied as regards his yielding to passion
when attacked, is ignored by the advocates of the Ruthvens.  Mr. Barbé
observes: ‘What slight success there ever was remained on Bruce’s side,
for, in one conference, he drew from the King the confession that he
might have saved Ruthven’s life, and brought him to justice.’  That
confession shows unexpected candour in James, but does not in the
slightest degree implicate him in a conspiracy, and of a conspiracy even
the rigid Bruce now acquitted the King.  Mr. Pitcairn, at first a strong
King’s man, in an appendix to his third volume credits Bruce with the
best of the argument.  This he does, illogically, because the King never
ceased to persecute Bruce, whom he thought a firebrand.  However wicked
this conduct of James may have been, it in no way affects the argument as
to his guilt in the conspiracy.  Of _that_ Mr. Bruce acquitted the King.
Calderwood’s words (vi. 156) are ‘Mr. Robert, by reason of his oaths,
thought him innocent of any purpose that day in the morning to slay them.
Yet because he confessed he had not God or justice before his eyes, but
was in a heat and mind to revenge, he could not be innocent before God,
and had great cause to repent, and to crave mercy for Christ’s sake.’
The thing is perfectly clear.  Bruce acquitted James of the infamous plot
against the Ruthvens. {110}   What, then, was the position of the
Ruthvens, if the King was not the conspirator?  Obviously they were
guilty, whether James, at a given moment, was carried away by passion or


Calderwood has preserved for us the objections taken by sceptics to the
King’s narrative. {111}  First, the improbability of a _murderous_
conspiracy, by youths so full of promise and Presbyterianism as Gowrie
and his brother.  To Gowrie’s previous performances we return later.  The
objection against a scheme of murder hardly applies to a plan for
kidnapping a King who was severe against the Kirk.

The story of the pot of gold, and the King’s desire to inspect it and the
captive who bore it, personally, and the folly of thinking that one pot
of gold could suffice to disturb the peace of the country, are next
adversely criticised.  We have already replied to the criticism (p. 40).
The story was well adapted to entrap James VI.

The improbabilities of Ruthven’s pleas for haste need not detain us: the
King did not think them probable.

Next it was asked ‘Why did James go alone upstairs with Ruthven?’

He may have had wine enough to beget valour, or, as he said, he may have
believed that he was being followed by Erskine.  The two reasons may well
have combined.

‘Why did not Gowrie provide better cheer, if forewarned?’ (by Henderson?)
it was asked.

To give the impression, we reply, that he was taken by surprise, and that
the King came uninvited and unexpected.

‘Why did Ruthven aim a dagger at James, and then hold parley?’

Because he wanted to frighten the King into being ‘at his will.’

‘How could Ruthven trust the King, with the armed man alone in the

What else could he do?  He locked them in, and was, through the failure
of the man, in a quandary which made clear reflection necessary—and

‘It was strange that the man had not been trained in his task.’

If Oliphant is correctly reported, he had been trained, but ‘fainted.’

‘Why bind the King with a garter?’

In helpless pursuit of the forlorn idea of capturing him.

‘Why execute the enterprise when the courtiers were passing the window?’

Ruthven could not have known that they were coming at that moment; it was
Gowrie’s ill-timed falsehoods, to the effect that the King had ridden
away, which brought them there.  Gowrie had not allowed for Henderson’s

‘How could the King struggle successfully with the stalwart Master?’

He fought for his life, and Ruthven probably even then did not wish to
injure him bodily.

‘Why was not the Master made prisoner?’

James answered this question when ‘posed’ by Mr. Bruce.  His blood was
up, and he said ‘Strike!’

‘The Earl likewise might, after he was stricken, have been preserved

Perhaps—by miracle; he died instantly.

The discrepancies as to the dagger and the opening of the window we have
already treated, also the locking and unlocking, or leaving unlocked, of
the chamber door, giving on the dark staircase, after Ruthven’s last
hurried entrance (p. 69).

There follow arguments, to be later considered, about the relations
between James and the Earl previous to the tragedy, and a statement, with
no authority cited, that James had written to Gowrie’s uncle, to meet him
at Perth on August 5, implying that James had made up his mind to be
there, and did not go on Ruthven’s sudden invitation.

‘The Earl and Cranstoun were alone with the four in the fatal chamber.
The others who were wounded there went up after Gowrie’s death.’

It may be so, but the bulk of the evidence is on the other side.

‘It is reported’ that Henderson was eating an egg in the kitchen, and
went into the town when the fray arose.

It is also denied, on oath, by Gowrie’s cook, who added that he was
‘content to be hanged,’ if it could be proved. {114}

The Ruthven apologist (MS.) says that Henderson was waiting on the Lords
who dined in the hall, and was _there_ when _the King’s servant_ brought
the news that the King had ridden away.

‘The Master’s sword, after his death, was found rusted tight in his

The Master must have been a very untidy gallant.  No authority is cited
for the story.

The Murrays (who were well rewarded) were in Perth, ‘whether of set
purpose let the reader judge.’

By all means let the reader judge.

The King knew Henderson (so the anonymous Goodman of Pitmillie said), but
did not recognise the man in the turret.  It was reported that Patrick
Galloway, the king’s chaplain, induced Henderson to pretend to be the man
in the turret.

As to the good man of Pitmillie, Calderwood did not even know his name.
This is mere gossip.

Again, Calderwood, who offers these criticisms, does not ask why, of all
concerned, Henderson was the only man that fled who had not been seen in
connection with the fray and the tumult.  If he was not the man of the
turret, and if Andrew Ruthven, who also had ridden to Falkland, did not
abscond, why did Henderson?

As to the man in the turret, if not a retainer of Ruthven, he was a
minion of James, or there was no man at all.  If there was no man at all,
could James be so absurd as to invent him, on the off chance that
somebody, anybody, would turn up, and claim to have been the man?  That
is, frankly, incredible.  But if James managed to insert a man into the
turret, he was not so silly as not to have his man ready to produce in
evidence.  Yet Henderson could not be produced, he had fled, and
certainly had not come in by August 12, when he was proclaimed.

That James had introduced and suborned Henderson and that Henderson fled
to give tone and colour to his narrative, is not among the most probable
of conjectures.  I do not find that this desperate hypothesis was put
forward at the time.  It could not be, for apologists averred (1) that
Henderson was eating an egg in the kitchen: (2) that he was waiting on
the gentlemen in the hall, at the moment when, by the desperate
hypothesis, he was, by some machination of James, in the turret: (3)
there is a third myth, a Perth tradition, that Henderson had been at
Scone all day, and first heard the tragic news, when all was over, as, on
his return, he crossed the bridge over Tay.  As it is incredible that
there was no man in the turret at all, and that James took the outside
chance that somebody, anybody, would claim to be the man; the assailants
of the King must offer a working hypothesis of this important actor in
the drama.  My own fancy can suggest none.  Was he in four places at
once, in the kitchen, in the hall, on the bridge, and in the turret?  If
he was in the kitchen, in the hall, or on the bridge, why did he
instantly abscond?  If _James_ put him in the turret, why did he fly?

The King’s word, I repeat, was the word that no man could rely on.  But,
among competing improbabilities, the story which was written on the night
of August 5, and to which he adhered under Bruce’s cross-examination, is
infinitely the least improbable.  The Master of Gray, an abominable
character, not in Scotland when the events occurred, reported, _not_ from
Scotland, that Lennox had said that, if put on his oath, ‘he could not
say whether the practice proceeded from Gowrie or the King.’  (Sept 30,

                        [Picture: Falkland Palace]

The Master of Gray wrote from Chillingham, on the English side of the
Border, where he was playing the spy for Cecil.  Often he played the
double spy, for England and for Rome.  Lennox may well have been puzzled,
he may have said so, but the report rests on the evidence of one who did
not hear his words, who wished to flatter the scepticism of James’s
English enemies, and whose character (though on one point he is unjustly
accused) reeks with infamy.

That of James does not precisely ‘smell sweet and blossom in the dust.’
But if the question arises, whether a man of James’s position, age, and
temperament, or whether a young man, with the antecedents which we are
about to describe, was the more likely to embark on a complicated and
dangerous plot—in James’s case involving two murders at inestimable
personal risk—it is not unnatural to think that the young man is the more
likely to ‘have the wyte of it.’


Having criticised the contemporary criticism of the Gowrie affair, we
must look back, and examine the nature of Gowrie’s ancestral and personal
relations with James before the day of calamity.  There were grounds
enough for hatred between the King and the Earl, whether such hatred
existed or not, in a kind of hereditary feud, and in political
differences.  As against James’s grandmother, Mary of Guise, the
grandfather of Gowrie, Lord Ruthven, had early joined the Reformers, who
opposed her in arms.  Later, in 1566, it was Gowrie’s grandfather who
took the leading part in the murder of Riccio.  He fled to England, and
there died soon after his exploit, beholding, it was said, a vision of
angels.  His son, Gowrie’s father (also one of the Riccio murderers),
when Mary was imprisoned in Loch Leven (June 1567) was in charge of her,
but was removed, ‘as he began to show great favour to her, and gave her
intelligence.’ {118}  Mary herself, through the narrative of Nau, her
secretary, declares that Ruthven (then a married man) persecuted her by
his lust.  He aided Lindsay in extorting her abdication at Loch Leven.
Such was his record as regards Mary: James too had little reason to love

The early reign of James in Scotland was a series of Court revolutions,
all of the same sort.  James was always either, unwillingly, under nobles
who were allies of Elizabeth, and who used the Kirk as their instrument,
or under vicious favourites who delivered him from these influences.
When Morton fell in 1581, the King was under D’Aubigny (Lennox), a false
Protestant and secret Catholic intriguer, and Arran (Captain James
Stewart), a free lance, and, in religion, an Indifferent.  Lennox
entangled James in relations with the Guises and Catholic Powers; Gowrie,
and the Protestant nobles, being threatened by Arran and Lennox, captured
James, in an insulting manner, at Gowrie’s castle of Ruthven.  He came as
a guest, for hunting; he remained a prisoner.  (1582.)  The Kirk approved
and triumphed: James waited and dissembled, while Gowrie was at the head
of the Government.  In June 1583, James, by a sudden flight to St.
Andrews Castle, where his friends surrounded him, shook himself free of
Gowrie, who, however, secured a pardon for his share in James’s capture,
in the ‘Raid of Ruthven’ of 1582.  Lennox being dead, the masterful and
unscrupulous Arran now again ruled the King, and a new Lennox came from
France, the Duke of Lennox who was present at the tragedy of August 5,

The Lords who had lost power by James’s escape to St. Andrews now
conspired anew.  Angus, Mar, and others were to march on Stirling, Gowrie
was waiting at Dundee. (April 1584)  Arran knew of the plot, and sent
Colonel Stewart to arrest Gowrie.  After holding his house against
Stewart’s men, the Earl was taken and carried to Edinburgh.  The other
Lords, his allies, failed and fled.  Gowrie was brought to trial.  He had
a pardon for the Raid of Ruthven, he had done nothing ostensible in the
recent rising, which followed his capture at Dundee.  Nevertheless he was
tried, condemned, executed, and forfeited.  There exists a manuscript of
the date, which, at least, shows what Gowrie’s friends thought of the
method by which his conviction was procured.  Arran and Sir Robert
Melville, it is said, visited him in prison, and advised him to make his
peace with James.  How was that to be done?  Gowrie entreated for the
kind offices of Melville and Arran.  They advised him to write to the
King confessing that he had been in several conspiracies against his
person which he could reveal in a private interview.  ‘I should confess
an untruth,’ said Gowrie, ‘and frame my own indictment.’

The letter, the others urged, being general, would move the King’s
curiosity: he would grant an interview, at which Gowrie might say that
the letter was only an expedient to procure a chance of stating his own

Gowrie, naturally, rejected so perilous a practice.

‘You _must_ confess the foreknowledge of these things,’ said Arran, ‘or
you must die.’

Gowrie replied that, if assured of his life, he would take the advice.
Arran gave his word of honour that Gowrie should be safe.  He wrote the
letter, he received no answer, but was sent to Stirling.  He was tried,
nothing was proved against him, and Arran produced his letter before the
Court.  Gowrie was called, confessed to his handwriting, and told the
tale of Arran’s treachery, which he repeated to the people from the

This is, briefly, the statement of a newsletter to England, written, as
usual, against the Government, and in the Protestant interest. {121a}  A
manuscript in the British Museum gives a somewhat different version.
{121b}  One charge against Gowrie, we learn, was that of treasonable
intercommuning with Hume of Godscroft, an envoy of the Earl of Angus,
who, before Gowrie’s arrest, was arranging a conspiracy.  This charge was
perfectly true.  Godscroft, in his History of the Douglases (ii.
317–318), describes the circumstances, and mentions the very gallery
whose door resisted Lennox and Mar on August 5, 1600.  Godscroft rode
from the Earl of Angus to Gowrie in his house at Perth.  ‘Looking very
pitifully upon his gallery, where we were walking at that time, which he
had but newly built and decored with pictures, he brake out into these
words, having first fetched a deep sigh.  “_Cousin_” says he, “_is there
no remedy_?  _Et impius haec tam culta novalia miles habebit_?  _Barbarus
has segetes_?”  Whereupon Godscroft was persuaded of his sincerity, and
at his return persuaded the Earl of Angus thereof also.’  So the plot
went on, Gowrie pretending that he meant to leave the country, says his
accomplice, Godscroft, while both the Court and the conspirators were
uncertain as to his trimming intentions.  He trimmed too long; he was
taken, the plot exploded and failed.  Gowrie was thus within the danger
of the law, for treasonably concealing foreknowledge of the conspiracy.

According to the British Museum MS., Gowrie now told the jury that he was
being accused on the strength of his own letter, treacherously extorted
under promise of life, by Montrose, Doune, Maitland, Melville, Colonel
Stewart, and the Captain of Dumbarton, _not_ by Arran.  In Gowrie’s
letter of confession, to the King, as printed by Spottiswoode, he does
not mention Godscroft, but another intriguer, Erskine.  However, in this
letter he certainly confesses his concern with the conspiracy.  But, says
the MS., the nobles charged by Gowrie with having betrayed him under
promise of life denied the accusations on oath.  Gowrie himself,
according to another copy of the MS., denied knowing Hume of Godscroft;
if he did, he spoke untruly, _teste_ Godscroft.

However matters really stood, the Earl’s friends, at all events, believed
that he had been most cruelly and shamefully betrayed to the death, and,
as the King was now eighteen, they would not hold him guiltless.

These were not the only wrongs of the Ruthvens.  While the power of Arran
lasted (and it was, on the whole, welcome to James, though he had moments
of revolt), the family of Ruthven was persecuted.  The widow of Gowrie
was a daughter (see Appendix A) of Henry Stewart, Lord Methven, who, as a
young man, had married Margaret, sister of Henry VIII, widow of James IV,
and divorced from the Earl of Angus.  As this lady, our Gowrie’s mother,
knelt to implore the pity of James in the street after her Lord’s death,
Arran pushed her aside, and threw her down.  He received the Earl’s
forfeited estate and castle of Dirleton, near North Berwick.

In October 1585, Arran fell, in his turn; Angus, Mar, and others drove
him into retirement.  James acquiesced; his relations with the house of
Mar remained most friendly.  The house of Ruthven was now restored to its
lands and dignities, in 1586, the new Earl being James, who died in early
youth.  He was succeeded by his brother, the Gowrie of our tragedy, who
was born about 1577.  He had many sisters; the eldest, Mary, married the
Earl of Atholl, a Stewart, in January 1580.  Lady Gowrie was thus
mother-in-law of the Earl of Atholl, who died at Gowrie House in August
1594.  Her grand-daughter, Dorothea (daughter of Atholl and Mary Ruthven,
sister of our Gowrie), in 1604 married that young Tullibardine who was in
Perth at the tragedy of August 5, 1600.  Lady Atholl is said to have
opposed the marriage.  Another sister of Gowrie, Sophia, married (before
1600, she was dead by that time) the Duke of Lennox who was at the
slaughter of the Ruthvens.  Another sister, Beatrix, was Maid of Honour
to James’s Queen, and later married Hume of Cowdenknowes; hence come the
Earls of Home.  Gowrie had two younger brothers, Patrick and William, who
fled to England from his castle of Dirleton, the day after the tragedy,
and were forfeited and persecuted by James; Patrick was long imprisoned
in the Tower.

The new Earl, John, the victim of 1600, does not come into public notice
till 1592, when he was elected Provost of Perth.  He went to Edinburgh
University; his governor was the respected Mr. Rollock.  Here a curious
fact occurs.  On August 12, 1593, young Gowrie read his thesis for his
Master’s degree.  Three weeks earlier, on July 24, the wild Francis
Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, had captured, in Holyrood, his King, who was
half dressed and untrussed.  James at the time was suspected of favouring
the Catholic Earls of the North, Huntly, Errol, and a new unpresbyterian
Angus.  The King was on ill terms with the Kirk; England had secretly
abetted Bothwell; the clan of Stewart, including Lennox, lent aid and
countenance, _but Bothwell’s __success was due to Gowrie’s mother_, the
widow of the decapitated Earl, and to his sister, Lady Atholl.  Bothwell
entered Lady Gowrie’s house, adjoining the palace, spent the night there,
stole into Holyrood by a passage-way left open by Lady Atholl, and
appeared before the King, sword in hand, when his Majesty was half
dressed.  Meanwhile our Gowrie, reading for his thesis, may not have been
uninterested in the plot of his mother and sister.  This was, in a way,
the second successful Ruthven plot to seize the King; the first was the
Raid of Ruthven.  The new success was not enduring.  James shook off
Bothwell in September 1593, and, in October, Gowrie’s brother-in-law
Atholl, with our Gowrie himself, entered into alliance with Bothwell
against King James, and offered their services to Queen Elizabeth.

James moved out against Atholl, Gowrie, and the Master of Montrose, who
were at Castle Doune, intending to join hands with Bothwell, and seize
the King.  But Bothwell found the plan impracticable: Atholl fled; Gowrie
and the Master of Montrose were pursued and taken.  No harm was done to
them: their excuses were accepted, but young Gowrie and Atholl continued
to conspire.  In April, 1594, Atholl, signing for himself and Gowrie, and
Bothwell, signing for his associates, wrote a manifesto to the Kirk.
They were in arms, they said, for Protestant purposes, and wished
commissioners from among the preachers to attend them, and watch their
proceedings. {126}  Bothwell then took action, he made a demonstration in
arms against Edinburgh, but the forces of Atholl and Gowrie did not
arrive and Bothwell retreated.  Atholl was threatened for this affair,
but pardoned by the King, and died in August.

In the same month Gowrie informed the Town Council of Perth that he was
going to study abroad.  They retained him in the position of Provost.  He
went, with his tutor, Mr. Rhynd, to Padua, an university where
Protestantism was protected by the toleration of the Republic of Venice,
and where there was an Anglo-Scottish ‘Nation’ among the students.  In
‘The Return from Parnassus,’ a satirical play of 1601, we find Gullio,
the admirer of Shakespeare, professing to have studied at Padua.  Gowrie
is said to have been elected Rector, but I cannot find his name in the
lists.  He does appear in the roll of Scottish scholars, some of them
characterised (unlike the English scholars) by personal marks.  Most have
scars on the face or hand; Archibald Douglas has a scar on the brow from
left to right.  James Lindsay, of Gowrie’s year (1596–1597), has also a
scar on his brow.  Next him is Andrew Keith, with a scar on his right
hand, and then _Dominus Ioannes Ruthuen_, _Scotus_, _cum signo albo in
mento_, ‘with a white mark on his chin.’  Then we have his luckless
tutor, Mr. Rhynd, who was tortured, _Scotus cum ledigine super facie_.
Robert Ker of Newbattle (‘Kerrus de Heubattel’) is another of Gowrie’s
college companions.  All were students of law.  Magic was not compulsory
at Padua, though Gowrie was said to have studied that art. {127a}

Concerning Gowrie’s behaviour at Padua but a single circumstance is
known.  Probably through one of his fellow-students, Douglas, Ker, Keith,
Lindsay or another, the report reached Scotland that the young Earl had
left in Padua ‘a strange relique,’ an emblematic figure emblazoned; and
had made, on the subject, a singular remark.  The emblematic figure
represented ‘a blackamoor reaching at a crown with a sword, in a
stretched posture:’ the remark of Gowrie, ‘the Earl’s own _mot_,’ was to
the effect that the emblem displayed, _in umbra_, or foreshadowed, what
was to be done _in facto_.  This emblem was secured at Padua, in 1609, by
Sir Robert Douglas, who had heard of it in Scotland, and it was sent to
King James. {127b}  If such ideas were in Gowrie’s mind, he showed no
signs of them in an early correspondence with the King.  In 1595, James
wrote ‘a most loving letter’ to Gowrie; the Earl replied in a tone of
gratitude.  At the same time Gowrie wrote to a preacher in Perth,
extolling the conduct of an English fanatic, who had thrown down and
trampled on the Host, at Rome.  He hoped, he said, when he returned to
Scotland, ‘to amend whatever is amiss for lack of my presence.’ {128a}
Nevertheless, on December 25, 1598, Nicholson informed Cecil that Gowrie
had been converted to Catholicism. {128b}  In the Venice despatches and
Vatican transcripts I find no corroboration.  Gowrie appears to have
visited Rome; the Ruthven apologist declares that he was there ‘in danger
for his religion.’  Galloway, on August 11, 1600, in presence of the King
and the people of Edinburgh, vowed that Gowrie, since his return from
Italy, had laboured to make James ‘revolt from Religion, at least in
inward sincerity, to entertain purpose with the Pope, and he himself
promised to furnish intelligence.’

If so, Gowrie was, indeed, ‘a deep dissimulate hypocrite.’

Galloway’s informant must have been the King.  If Gowrie did or said
anything to colour the story, it may have been for the purpose of
discovering, by pretending to approve of them, these intrigues with Rome,
of which James was constantly being accused.

A new complexity is added here, by a list of Scottish Catholic nobles,
ready to join an invading Spanish force, which the Earl of Bothwell
handed in to Philip III. of Spain, at a date not absolutely certain.  At
a time conjectured at by Major Hume, as 1600, Bothwell laid before the
Spanish ministry a scheme for an invasion of Scotland.  He made another
more elaborate proposal at a date which, to all seeming, was July 1601.
In the appended list of Scottish Catholic nobles appear the names of the
Earl of Gowrie, and of ‘Baron Rastellerse,’ that is, Logan of Restalrig.
But, in 1601, there was no Earl of Gowrie; the title was extinct, the
lands were forfeited, and Gowrie’s natural heir, William Ruthven, his
brother, was a poor student at Cambridge.  Could Bothwell refer to him,
who was no Catholic?  Can he have handed in (in 1601) an earlier list of
1600, without deleting the name of the dead Gowrie?  As to Gowrie’s real
creed, Bothwell must have known the truth, through Home, a reluctant
convert to Presbyterianism, who went from Paris to Brussels to meet
Bothwell, leaving Gowrie in Paris, just before Home and Gowrie openly,
and, as it was said, Bothwell secretly, returned to Scotland in April
1600.  Was the Gowrie conspiracy a Bothwellian plot? {129a}

We know little more about Gowrie, after his letters of 1595, till, on
August 18, 1599, Colville reports to Cecil that the party of the Kirk
(who were now without a leader among the greater nobles) intend to summon
home the Earl. {129b}  He is said to have stayed for three months at
Geneva with Beza, the famous reformer, who was devoted to him.  He was in
Paris, in February and March 1600.  The English ambassador, Neville,
recommended Gowrie to Cecil, as ‘a man of whom there may be exceeding
good use made.’  Elizabeth and Cecil were then on the worst terms with
James.  At Paris, Gowrie would meet Lord Home, who, as we have said and
shall prove in a later connection, had an interview with the exiled
Bothwell, still wandering, plotting and threatening descents on Scotland
(p. 206).

On April 3, Gowrie was in London. {130a}  He was very well received; ‘a
cabinet of plate,’ it is said, was given to him by Elizabeth; what else
passed we do not know.  In May Gowrie returned to Scotland, and rode into
Edinburgh among a cavalcade of his friends.  According to Sir John Carey,
writing to Cecil, from Berwick, on May 29, James displayed jealousy of
Gowrie, ‘giving him many jests and pretty taunts,’ on his reception by
Elizabeth, and ‘marvelling that the ministers met him not.’ {130b}
Calderwood adds a rumour that James, talking of Gowrie’s entry to
Edinburgh, said, ‘there were more with his father when he went to the
scaffold.’  Again, as the Earl leaned on the King’s chair at breakfast,
James talked of dogs and hawks, and made an allusion to the death of
Riccio, in which Gowrie’s father and grandfather took part.

These are rumours; it is certain that the King (June 20) gave Gowrie a
year’s respite from pursuit of his creditors, to whom he was in debt for
moneys owed to him by the Crown, expenditure by the late Earl of Gowrie
when in power (1583). {131a}  It is also certain that Gowrie opposed the
King’s demands for money, in a convention of June 21. {131b}  But so did
Lord President Fyvie, who never ceased to be James’s trusted minister,
and later, Chancellor, under the title of Earl of Dunfermline.
Calderwood reports that, after Gowrie’s speech, Sir David Murray said,
‘Yonder is an unhappy man; they are but seeking occasion of his death,
which now he has given.’  This is absurd: Fyvie and the Laird of Easter
Wemyss opposed the King as stoutly, and no harm followed to them; Fyvie
rising steadily (and he had opposed the King yet more sturdily before) to
the highest official position.

Calderwood adds a silly tale of Dr. Herries.  Beatrix Ruthven laughed at
his lame leg; he looked in her palm, and predicted a great disaster.  The
same anecdote, with, of course, another subject, is told of Gowrie’s own
prediction that a certain man would come to be hanged, which was
fulfilled.  Gowrie had been at Perth, before the convention at Holyrood
of June 21.  To Perth he returned; thence, some time in July (about the
20th), {131c} he went to his castle of Strabran, in Atholl, to hunt.
Whether his brother the Master remained with him continuously till the
Earl’s return to Perth on Saturday, August 2, I know not how to
ascertain.  If there is anything genuine in the plot-letters produced
eight years later, the Master once or twice visited Edinburgh in July,
but that may have been before going to Strabran.

Concerning the Master, a romantic story of unknown source, but certainly
never alluded to in the surviving gossip of the day, was published, late
in the eighteenth century, by Lord Hailes.  ‘A report is handed down that
Lord _Gowrie’s_ brother received from the Queen a ribbon which she had
got from the King, that _Mr. Alexander_ went into the King’s garden at
Falkland on a sultry hot day, and lay down in a shade, and fell asleep.
His breast being open, the King passed that way and discovered part of
the ribbon about his neck below his cravat, upon which he made quick
haste into the palace, which was observed by one of the Queen’s ladies
who passed the same way.  She instantly took the ribbon from his neck,
went a near way to the Queen’s closet, where she found her Majesty at her
toilet, whom she requested to lay the ribbon in a drawer.’  James
entered, and asked to be shown the ribbon.  The Queen produced it, and
James retired, muttering, ‘Devil tak’ me, but like is an ill mark.’

Legend does not say when, or in what year this occurred.  But the fancy
of authors has identified the Queen’s lady with Beatrix Ruthven, and has
added that the Master, in disgrace (though undetected), retired with
Gowrie to Strabane, or Strabran.  History has no concern with such
fables.  It is certain, however, or at least contemporary letters aver,
that Queen Anne of Denmark was grieved and angered by the slaying of the
Gowries.  On October 21, 1600, Carey, writing to Cecil from Woodrington,
mentions this, and the tattle to the effect that, as the Queen is about
to have a child (Charles I.), ‘she shall be kept as prisoner ever after.’
Was the Master supposed to be father of the Queen’s child?  Carey goes
on, ‘There is a letter found with a bracelet in it, sent from the Queen
to the Earl of Gowrie, to persuade him to leave his country life and come
to Court, assuring him that he should enjoy any contents that Court could
afford.’ {133}  Can some amorous promise underlie this, as in the case of
Mr. Pickwick’s letter to Mrs. Bardell, about the warming-pan?  ‘This
letter the King hath,’ says Carey.  Was it with Gowrie, not the Master,
that the Queen was in love?  She was very fond of Beatrix Ruthven, and
would disbelieve in the guilt of her brothers; hence these tears and that
anger of the Queen.

But James also, says Calderwood, was as anxious as Carey declares that
the Queen was, to bring Gowrie to Falkland.  ‘When the Earl was in
Strabran, fifteen days before the fact, the King wrote sundry letters to
the Earl, desiring him to come and hunt with him in the wood of Falkland;
which letters were found in my Lord’s pocket, at his death, as is
reported, but were destroyed.’ {134a}

So James was not jealous; both he and the Queen were inviting Gowrie to
their country house, the Queen adding the gift of a bracelet.  She may
have worked it herself, like the bracelet which Queen Mary is said to
have sent to Bothwell.

All this is the idlest gossip.  But it is certain that, on one occasion,
at the end of July, ‘close letters’ were sent from the Court at Edinburgh
to Atholl and Gowrie; and, later, to Inchaffray and the Master, the first
three are in Bothwell’s list of Catholics ready to meet the Spanish
invaders.  The fact of the letters appears from the Treasurer’s accounts,
where the money paid to the boy who carried the letters is recorded,
without dates of the days of the month.  The boy got 33 shillings, Scots,
for the journey from Edinburgh to the Earls of Gowrie and Atholl; 24 for
the other two, which he carried from Falkland.  Craigengelt, in his
deposition, ‘denies that during my Lord’s being in Strabran, neither yet
in Perth, after his coming from Strabran, he knew any man or page to come
from Court to my Lord, or that he commanded to give them any meat or
drink.’ {134b}

No conclusion as to James’s guilt can be drawn, either from the fact that
he wrote to Atholl, Inchaffray, the Master, and Gowrie at the end of
July, or from the circumstance that Craigengelt professed to know nothing
about any messenger.  James might write to ask the Earl to hunt, we
cannot guess what he had to say, at the same time, to Atholl or
Inchaffray or the Master.  He may even have written about the affair of
the Abbey of Scone, if it is true that the Master wished to get it from
his brother.  We really cannot infer that, as the Ruthvens would not come
and be killed, when invited, at Falkland, James went to kill them at
Perth.  Even if he summoned the Master for August 5, intending to make it
appear that the Master had asked him to come to Perth, the Master need
not have arrived before seven in the morning, when the King went and
hunted for four hours.  What conceivable reason had the Master, if
innocent, for leaving Perth at 4 A.M. and visiting his sovereign at seven
in the morning?

As to the coming of the Gowries to Perth from Strabran or Strabane before
the tragedy, we only know what Craigengelt stated.  His language is not

‘Depones that, my Lords being in Strabrand, Alexander Ruthven’ (a
kinsman) ‘came from Dunkeld to my Lord.  And that upon Friday (August 1)
my Lord commanded Captain Ruthven to ride, and tell my Lady’ (Gowrie’s
mother), ‘that he was to come, and Captain Ruthven met my Lord at the
ferry-boat, and rode back to Dunkeld with my Lord, where he’ (Gowrie)
‘having supped, returned to his bed at Trochene, the deponer being in his

Where, at the end of July, was Lady Gowrie?  Was she within a day’s ride
of her sons?  Was she at Perth?  We know that she was at Dirleton Castle,
near North Berwick, on August 6.  Had she left the neighbourhood of Perth
between the 1st and 5th of August?  Captain Ruthven seems to have ridden
to Lady Gowrie, and back again to Dunkeld with Gowrie.  If so (and I can
make no other sense of it), she was in Perthshire on August 1, and went
at once to Dirleton.  Did she keep out of the way of the performances of
August 5?

It is curious that no apologist for Gowrie, as far as I have observed,
makes any remark on this perplexing affair of ‘my Lady.’  We know that
she had once already set a successful trap for the King.  He had not
punished her; he took two of her daughters, Barbara and Beatrix, into his
household; and restored to Gowrie his inheritance of the lands of Scone,
which, as we know, had been held by his father.  He had written a loving
letter to Gowrie at Padua, after the young man had for many months been
conspiring against him with his most dangerous enemy, the wild Earl of

On the morning of the fatal August 5, Gowrie went to sermon.  What else
he did, we learn from John Moncrieff, who was the Earl’s cautioner, or
guarantee, for a large sum due by him to one Robert Jolly. {137}  He was
also brother of Hew Moncrieff, who fled after having been with Gowrie in
arms, against Herries, Ramsay, and Erskine.  Both Moncrieffs, says John,
were puzzled when they found that the Master had ridden from Perth so
early in the morning.  Gowrie, says Moncrieff, did not attend the Town
Council meeting after church; he excused himself on account of private
affairs.  He also sent away George Hay who was with him on business when
Henderson arrived from Falkland, saying that he had other engagements.
For the same reason, he, at first, declined to do a piece of business
with Moncrieff, who dined with him and two other gentlemen.  ‘He made him
to misknow all things,’ that is affected to take no notice, when Andrew
Ruthven came in, and ‘rounded to him’ (whispered to him) about the King’s
approach.  Then the Master entered, and Gowrie went out to meet the King.

The rest we know, as far as evidence exists.

                     [Picture: Queen Anne of Denmark]

We now have all the essential facts which rest on fairly good evidence,
and we ask, did the Ruthvens lay a plot for the King, or did the King
weave a web to catch the Ruthvens?  Looking first at character and
probable motives, we dismiss the gossip about the amorous Queen and the
jealous King.  The tatlers did not know whether to select Gowrie or the
Master as the object of the Queen’s passion, or whether to allege that
she had a polyandrous affection for both at once.  The letters of the age
hint at no such amour till after the tragedy, when tales of the _liaison_
of Anne of Denmark with the elder or younger Ruthven, or both, arose as a
myth to account for the events.  The Queen, no doubt, was deeply grieved
in a womanly way for the sake of her two maidens, Beatrix and Barbara
Ruthven.  Her Majesty, also in a womanly way, had a running feud with Mar
and the whole house of Erskine.  To Mar, certainly one of the few men of
honour as well as of rank in Scotland, James had entrusted his son,
Prince Henry; the care of the heir to the Crown was a kind of hereditary
charge of the Erskines.  The Queen had already, in her resentment at not
having the custody of her son, engaged in one dangerous plot against Mar;
she made another quarrel on this point at the time (1603) when the King
succeeded to the crown of England.  Now Mar was present at the Gowrie
tragedy, and his cousin, Sir Thomas Erskine, took part in the deeds.
Hating the Erskines, devoted to the Ruthven ladies, and always feebly in
opposition to her husband, the Queen, no doubt, paraded her grief, her
scepticism, and her resentment.  This was quite in keeping with her
character, and this conduct lent colour to the myth that she loved
Gowrie, or the Master, or both, _par amours_.  The subject is good for a
ballad or a novel, but history has nothing to make with the legend on
which Mr. G. P. R. James based a romance, and Mr. Pinkerton a theory.

Leaving fable for fact, what motives had James for killing both the
Ruthvens?  He had dropped the hereditary feud, and had taken no measures
against the young Earl to punish his conspiracies with Bothwell in
1593–1594.  Of Gowrie, on his return to Scotland in May, he may have
entertained some jealousy.  The Earl had been for months in Paris,
caressed by the English ambassador, and probably, as we have seen, in
touch with the exiled and ceaselessly conspiring Bothwell.  In London the
Earl had been well received by Elizabeth, and by Lord Willoughby, who, a
year earlier, as Governor of Berwick, had insulted James by kidnapping,
close to Edinburgh, an English gentleman, Ashfield, on a visit to the
King’s Court.  Guevara, a cousin of Lord Willoughby, lured Ashfield into
the coach of the English envoy Bowes, and drove him to the frontier.
Lord Willoughby had a swift yacht lying off Leith, in case it was thought
better to abduct Ashfield by sea.  This is an example of English
insolence to the Scottish King—also of English kidnapping—and Lord
Willoughby, the manager, had made friends with Gowrie in England.

Thus James, who was then on the worst terms, short of open war, with
England, may have suspected and disliked the Earl, who had once already
put himself at the service of Elizabeth, and might do so again.  In the
April of 1600, rumours of a conspiracy by Archibald Douglas, the infamous
traitor; Douglas of Spot, one of Morton’s brood, and John Colville—who,
with Bothwell and, later, independently, had caught James, had tried to
catch him, and proposed to Essex to catch him again,—were afloat.
Colville was in Paris at the same time as Gowrie; Bothwell was reported
to have come secretly to Scotland in April or May, and this combination
of facts or rumours may have aroused the King’s mistrust.  Again, the
Kirk was restive; the preachers, in need of a leader, were said by
Colville to have summoned Gowrie home. {140a}  Moreover there were
persons about James—for example, Colonel Stewart—who had reason to dread
the Earl’s vengeance for his father.  The Ruthven Apologist mentions this
fact, and the predilection of the Kirk for Gowrie, among the motives for
destroying him.

Once more there are hints, very vague, that, in 1593, Bothwell aimed at
changing the dynasty. {140b}  The fable that Gowrie was a maternal
grandson of Margaret Tudor, widow of James IV, by Henry Stewart, Lord
Methven, her third husband, and that Gowrie was thus a candidate for the
succession to the English throne, perhaps also for the hand of Arabella
Stuart, may conceivably have existed.  (Compare Appendix A.)  Again,
Gowrie had sided with the burgesses and minor barons, as against the
nobles, by refusing a grant of money to James, in the convention of June
1600, and James owed money to Gowrie, as he did to most people.  But we
have already seen that an exemption had been granted to Gowrie for a year
from pursuit of creditors, as far, that is, as regarded his _father’s_
debts (80,000_l._ Scots), (June 20, 1600).  The College of Justice
refused to grant any new legal summonses of creditors against Gowrie, and
suspended all that were extant.

Mr. Barbé accuses the King of ‘utter and unblushing disregard for common
truth and common honesty.’  Be this as it may, the exemption granted to
Gowrie was not regarded by his father’s creditors as extending to his
mother, after his dishonoured death.  On November 1, 1600, Lady Gowrie
implored Elphinstone, the Secretary, to bring her suit for relief before
the King.  The security for these debts was on her ‘conjunct fee lands,’
and creditors, because, I suppose, the Gowrie estates were about to be
forfeited, pressed Lady Gowrie, who, of course, had no exemption.  We
know nothing as to the success of Lady Gowrie’s petition, but we have
seen that her daughters married very well.  I presume that Gowrie, not
his mother, had previously paid interest on the debts, ‘he had already
paid many sums of money.’  James had already restored to Gowrie the
valuable lands of Scone. {142}

However, taking things as the King’s adversaries regard them, the
cumulative effect of these several grudges (and of the mystery of
Gowrie’s Catholicism) would urge James to lay his very subtle plot.  He
would secretly call young Ruthven to Falkland by six in the morning of
August 5, he would make it appear that Ruthven had invited _him_ to
Perth, he would lure the youth to a turret, managing to be locked in with
him and an armed man; he would post Ramsay below the turret window, and
warn him to run up the dark staircase at the King’s cry of treason.  By
the locked door he would exclude Lennox and Mar, while his minions would
first delay Gowrie’s approach, by the narrow stairs, and then permit him
to enter with only one companion, Cranstoun.  He would cause a report of
his own departure to be circulated, exactly at the right moment to bring
Gowrie under the turret window, and within reach of his cries.  This plot
requires the minutest punctuality, everything must occur at the right
moment, and all would have been defeated had Gowrie told the truth about
the King’s departure, or even asked ‘Where is the King’s horse?’  Or
Gowrie might have stood in the streets of Perth, and summoned his
burgesses in arms.  The King and the courtiers, with their dead man,
would have been beleaguered, without provisions, in Gowrie’s house.  Was
James the man, on the strength of the grudges which we have carefully
enumerated, to risk himself, unarmed, in this situation?  As to how he
managed to have the door locked, so as to exclude the majority of his
suite, who can conjecture?  How, again, did he induce Gowrie to aver, and
that after making inquiry, that he _had_ ridden homewards?

I cannot believe that any sane man or monarch, from the motives
specified, would or could have laid, and that successfully, the plot
attributed to the King.

Turning to Gowrie, we find that his grudges against James may have been
deep and many.  If revengeful, he had the treacherous method of his
father’s conviction, and the insults to his mother, to punish.  For a boy
of seventeen he had already attempted a good deal, in 1593–1594.  His
mother had set him an example of King-catching, and it looks as if his
mother had been near him in Perth, while he was at Strabane.  If
ambitious, and devoted to Elizabeth and England (as he had been), Gowrie
had motives for a new Raid of Ruthven, the unceasing desire of the
English Government.  He might, if successful, head a new administration
resting on the support of England and the Kirk.  Such a change was due in
the natural course of things.  Or, quite the reverse, if a secret
Catholic he might hand the King over to Bothwell.

Thus Gowrie may well have wished to revenge his father; his mother had
once already helped to betray James to an attack of the most insulting
nature; he himself was strong for the Kirk, over which James was playing
the despot; _or_, he desired toleration for Catholics; he had been well
received in England, where all such plots—their name was legion—had
always been fostered; he was very young, and he risked everything.  Only
his method was new—that of strict secrecy.  He had previously spoken to
Mr. Cowper, minister of Perth, in a general way, about the failure of
plots for lack of deep secrecy, and through the admission of too many
confederates.  Cowper told this to Spottiswoode, at Falkland.  Mr. Rhynd,
Gowrie’s tutor, told Cowper and the Comptroller, ‘unrequired’ (not under
torture, nor in answer to a question under examination), that Gowrie,
when abroad, several times said that ‘he was not a wise man that, having
the execution of a high and dangerous purpose, communicated the same to
any but himself.’

As to this secrecy, we must remember that Gowrie was very young; that in
Italy he may have heard or read of romantic and crafty plots; and may
long have dreamed (as Robert Oliphant’s reported allegation declared) of
some such scheme as that in which he failed.  We must remember, too, that
James’s own account at least suggests a plan quite feasible.  To bring
James to Gowrie House, early in the day, when the townsmen were at kirk,
to bring him with only three or four attendants, then to isolate him and
carry him off, was far from impossible; they might hurry him, disguised,
to Dirleton, a castle garrisoned and provisioned, according to Carey, who
reports the version of Gowrie’s friends.  A Scottish judge, Gibson (the
ancestor of Sir Thomas Gibson-Carmichael), was later carried from Leith
Sands across the Border, with perfect success.  A fault of the plan was
that, once undertaken, it could not be dropped, even though James came
late and well attended.  Ruthven could not tell the King that his story
about a captive and a pot of gold was false.  To do that would have
subjected him to a charge of treason.  He could have only one motive for
thus deceiving his Majesty.  Thus the plot _had_ to go on, even under
circumstances very unfavourable.  There was no place for repentance.

Thus considered, the conspiracy looks like the plot of a romance, not
without meritorious points, but painfully amateurish.

As proof of Gowrie’s guilt, the evidence, I think, distinctly proves that
he intentionally concealed from those about him the ride of his brother,
Henderson, and Andrew Ruthven to Perth; that he concealed his knowledge,
derived from Henderson, of the King’s approach; and that Ruthven
concealed from Craigengelt, on his return, his long ride to Falkland,
saying that he had been on ‘an errand not far off.’  Moncrieff swore that
Henderson gave him a similar answer.  Asked by Moncrieff where he had
been, he said ‘he had been two or three miles above the town.’  Henderson
corroborated Moncrieff’s evidence on this point.  There can have been no
innocent motive for all this secrecy.  It would have been natural for
Gowrie to order luncheon for the King to be prepared, as soon as
Henderson arrived.

Finally, the Earl’s assertions that James had ridden away, assertions
repeated after he had gone upstairs to inquire and make sure, are
absolutely incompatible with innocence.  They could have only one motive,
to induce the courtiers to ride off and leave the King in his hands.

What was to happen next?  Who can guess at the plot of such a plotter?
It is perhaps least improbable that the King was to be conveyed secretly,
by sea or across Fife, to Dirleton in the first place.  Gowrie may have
had an understanding with Guevara at Berwick.  James himself told
Nicholson that a large English ship had hovered off the coast, refusing
communication with the shore.  Bothwell, again, now desperate, may have
lately been nearer home than was known; finally, Fastcastle, the isolated
eyrie on its perpendicular rock above the Northern Sea, may have been at
Gowrie’s disposal.  I am disinclined to conjecture, being only certain
that a young man with Gowrie’s past—‘Italianate,’ and of dubious
religion—was more apt to form a wild and daring plot than was his canny
senior, the King of Scots.  But that a plot of some kind Gowrie had laid,
I am convinced by his secrecy, and by his falsehoods as to the King’s
departure.  Among the traps for the King contrived by Bothwell and
Colville, and reported by Colville to his English paymasters, were
schemes quite as wild as that which Gowrie probably entertained.  The
King once in the pious hands of so godly a man as Gowrie, the party of
the Kirk, or the party of the Church, would have come in and made
themselves useful. {147}


We now arrive at an extraordinary sequel of the Gowrie mystery: a sequel
in which some critics have seen final and documentary proof of the guilt
of the Ruthvens.  Others have remarked only a squalid intrigue, whereby
James’s ministers threw additional disgrace on their master.  That they
succeeded in disgracing themselves, we shall make only too apparent, but
if the evidence which they handled proves nothing against the Ruthvens,
it does not on that account invalidate the inferences which we have drawn
as to their conspiracy.  We come to the story of the Laird and the
country writer.

That we may know the Laird better, a brief description of his home may be
introduced.  Within a mile and a half of the east end of Princes Street,
Edinburgh, lies, on the left of the railway to the south, a squalid
suburb.  You drive or walk on a dirty road, north-eastwards, through
unambitious shops, factories, tall chimneys, flaming advertisements, and
houses for artisans.  The road climbs a hill, and you begin to find, on
each side of you, walls of ancient construction, and traces of great old
doorways, now condemned.  On the left are ploughed fields, and even
clumps of trees with blackened trunks.  Grimy are the stacks of corn in
the farmyard to the left, at the crest of the hill.  On the right, a
gateway gives on a short avenue which leads to a substantial modern
house.  Having reached this point in my pilgrimage, I met a gentleman who
occupies the house, and asked if I might be permitted to view the site.
The other, with much courtesy, took me up to the house, of which only the
portion in view from the road was modern.  Facing the west all was of the
old Scottish château style, with gables, narrow windows, and a strange
bulky chimney on the north, bulging out of the wall.  The west side of
the house stood on the very brink of a steep precipice, beneath which lay
what is now but a large deep waterhole, but, at the period of the Gowrie
conspiracy, was a loch fringed with water weeds, and a haunt of wild
fowl.  By this loch, Restalrig Loch, the witch more than three centuries
ago met the ghost of Tam Reid, who fell in Pinkie fight, and by the ghost
was initiated into the magic which brought her to the stake.

I scrambled over a low wall with a deep drop, and descended the cliff so
as to get a view of the ancient château that faces the setting sun.
Beyond the loch was a muddy field, then rows on rows of ugly
advertisements, then lines of ‘smoky dwarf houses,’ and, above these,
clear against a sky of March was the leonine profile of Arthur’s Seat.
Steam rose and trailed from the shrieking southward trains between the
loch and the mountain, old and new were oddly met, for the château was
the home of an ancient race, the Logans of Restalrig, ancestors of that
last Laird with whom our story has to do.  Their rich lands stretched far
and wide; their huge dovecot stands, sturdy as a little pyramid, in a
field to the north, towards the firth.  They had privileges over Leith
Harbour which must have been very valuable: they were of Royal descent,
through a marriage of a Logan with a daughter of Robert II.  But their
glory was in their ancestor, Sir Robert Logan, who fell where the good
Lord James of Douglas died, charging the Saracens on a field of Spain,
and following the heart of Bruce.  So Barbour sings, and to be named by
Barbour, for a deed and a death so chivalrous, is honour enough.

                        [Picture: Restalrig House]

                       [Picture: Restalrig Village]

The Logans flourished in their eyrie above the Loch of Restalrig, and
intermarried with the best houses, Sinclairs, Ogilvys, Homes, and Ramsays
of Dalhousie.  It may be that some of them sleep under the muddy floor of
St. Triduana’s Chapel, in the village of Restalrig, at the foot of the
hill on the eastern side of their old château.  This village, surrounded
by factories, is apparently just what it used to be in the days of James
VI.  The low thick-walled houses with fore-stairs, retain their ancient,
high-pitched, red-tiled roofs, with dormer windows, and turn their tall
narrow gables to the irregular street.  ‘A mile frae Embro town,’ you
find yourself going back three hundred years in time.  On the right hand
of the road, walking eastward, what looks like a huge green mound is
visible above a high ancient wall.  This is all that is left of St.
Triduana’s Chapel, and she was a saint who came from Achaia with St.
Regulus, the mythical founder of St. Andrews.  She died at Restalrig on
October 8, 510, and may have converted the Celts, who then dwelt in a
crannog in the loch; at all events we hear that, in a very dry summer,
the timbers of a crannog were found in the sandy deposit of the lake
margin.  The chapel (or chapter-house?), very dirty and disgracefully
neglected, has probably a crypt under it, and certainly possesses a
beautiful groined roof, springing from a single short pillar in the
centre.  The windows are blocked up with stones, the exterior is a mere
mound of grass like a sepulchral tumulus.  On the floor lies, broken, the
gravestone of a Lady Restalrig who died in 1526.  Outside is a patched-up
church; the General Assembly of 1560 decreed that the church should be
destroyed as ‘a monument of idolatry’ (it was a collegiate church, with a
dean, and prebendaries), and in 1571 the wrought stones were used to
build a new gate inside the Netherbow Port.  The whole edifice was not
destroyed, but was patched up, in 1836, into a Presbyterian place of
worship.  This old village and kirk made up ‘Restalrig Town,’ a place
occupied by the English during the siege of Leith in 1560.  So much of
history may be found in this odd corner, where the sexton of the kirk
speaks to the visitor about ‘the Great Logan,’ meaning that Laird who now
comes into the sequel of the Gowrie mystery.

For some thirty years before the date of which we are speaking, a Robert
Logan had been laird of Restalrig, and of the estate of Flemington, in
Berwickshire, where his residence was the house of Gunnisgreen, near
Eyemouth, on the Berwickshire coast.  He must have been a young boy when,
in 1560, the English forces besieging Leith (then held by the French for
Mary of Guise) pitched their camp at Restalrig.

In 1573, Kirkcaldy of Grange and Maitland of Lethington gallantly held
the last strength of the captive Mary Stuart, the Castle of Edinburgh.
The fortress was to fall under the guns of the English allies of that
Earl of Gowrie (then Lord Ruthven), who was the father of the Gowrie of
our mystery.

On April 17, 1573, a compact was made between Lord Ruthven and Drury, the
English general.  One provision was (the rest do not here concern us)
that Alexander, Lord Home; Lethington; and Robert Logan of Restalrig, if
captured, ‘shall be reserved to be justified by the laws of Scotland,’
which means, hanged by the neck.  But neither on that nor on any other
occasion was our Logan hanged. {152}  He somehow escaped death and
forfeiture, when Kirkcaldy was gibbeted after the fall of the castle.  In
1577, we find him, with Lord Lindsay and Mowbray of Barnbogle (now
Dalmeny) surety for Queen Mary’s half-brother, the Lord Robert Stewart,
who vainly warned Darnley to escape from Kirk o’ Field.  Lord Robert was
then confined by the Regent Morton in Linlithgow, and Logan with the rest
was surety in 10,000_l._ that he would not attempt to escape.  Later,
Logan was again surety that Lord Robert would return after visiting his
dominions, the Orkney Islands. {153}

Logan, though something of a pirate, was clearly a man of substance and
of a good house, which he strengthened by alliances.  One of his wives,
Elizabeth Macgill, was the daughter of the Laird of Cranstoun Riddell,
and one of her family was a member of the Privy Council.  From Elizabeth
Logan was divorced; she was, apparently, the mother of his eldest son,
Robert.  By the marriage of an ancestor of Logan’s with an heiress of the
family of Hume, he acquired the fortress and lands of Fastcastle, near
St. Abbs, on the Berwickshire coast.  The castle, now in ruins, is the
model of Wolfscrag in ‘The Bride of Lammermoor.’  Standing on the actual
verge of a perpendicular cliff above the sea, whence it is said to have
been approached by a staircase cut in the living rock, it was all but
inaccessible, and was strongly fortified.  Though commanded by the still
higher cliff to the south, under which it nestled on its narrow plateau
of rock, Fastcastle was then practically impregnable, and twenty men
could have held it against all Scotland.  Around it was, and is, a
roadless waste of bent and dune, from which it was severed by a narrow
rib of rock jutting seawards, the ridge being cut by a cavity which was
spanned by a drawbridge.  Master of this inaccessible eyrie, Logan was
most serviceable to the plotters of these troubled times.

His religion was doubtful, his phraseology could glide into Presbyterian
cant, but we know that he indifferently lent the shelter of his fastness
to the Protestant firebrand, wild Frank Stewart, Earl of Bothwell (who,
like Carey writing from Berwick to Cecil, reckons Logan among Catholics),
or to George Ker, the Catholic intriguer with Spain.  Logan loved a plot
for its own sake, as well as for chances of booty and promotion.  He was
a hard drinker, and associate of rough yeomen and lairds like Ninian
Chirnside of Whitsumlaws (Bothwell’s emissary to the wizard, Richard
Graham), yet a man of ancient family and high connections.  He seems to
have been intimate with the family of Sir John Cranstoun of Cranstoun.
On one occasion he informs Archibald Douglas, the detested and infamous
murderer and deeply dyed traitor, that ‘John of Cranstoun is the one man
now that bears you best good will.’  (January 1587?)

                    [Picture: Fastcastle (circ. 1820)]

In January 1600, the year of the Gowrie plot, we find Sir John Cranstoun
in trouble for harbouring an outlawed Mr. Thomas Cranstoun, who was, with
Douglas, the Laird of Spot, one of Bothwell’s allies in all his most
desperate raids on the person of King James.  In 1592, Mr. Thomas
Cranstoun was forfeited, he was informed against for ‘new conspiracies
against his Majesty’s life and estate,’ and, in January 1600, Sir John
Cranstoun was sheltering this dangerous and desperate Bothwellian outlaw,
as was his son-in law, Mr. William Cranstoun. {155a}

Now the Mr. Thomas Cranstoun who was hanged for his part in the Gowrie
affair, was brother of Sir John Cranstoun of Cranstoun, the ally of that
other Mr. Thomas Cranstoun who was so deep in Bothwell’s wild raids on
the King’s person.  In the spring of 1600 (as we have said, but must here
repeat) there were reports that Bothwell had secretly returned to
Scotland, and, on April 20, 1600, just before the date of Gowrie’s
arrival in Edinburgh from London, Nicholson reports suspected plots of
Archibald Douglas, of John Colville, a ruined Bothwellian, and a spy, and
of the Laird of Spot. {155b}  This Colville had recently hinted to Essex
that he could do a serviceable enterprise.  ‘As for the service I mean to
do, if matters go to the worst, it shall be such, God willing—if I lose
not my life in doing thereof—as no other can do with a million of gold,
and yet I shall not exceed the bonds of humanity,’ that is, he will not
_murder_ the King.  ‘But for conscience sake and worldly honesty, I must
first be absolved of my natural allegiance.’  (April 27, 1598; again,
October 20, 1598.) {156}

The point for us to mark is that all these conspirators and violent men,
Bothwell (in exile or secretly in Scotland), Colville (in 1600 an exile
in Paris), the Laird of Spot, the Cranstouns, the infamous Archibald
Douglas, with Richard Douglas his nephew, and Logan of Restalrig, were
united, if not by real friendship, at least, as Thucydides says, by
‘partnership in desperate enterprises’ and by 1600 were active in a
subterranean way.  If it is fair to say, _noscitur a sociis_, ‘a man is
known by the company he keeps,’ Logan of Restalrig bears the mark of the
secret conspirator.  He had relations with persons more distinguished
than his Chirnsides and Whittingham Douglases, though they were of near
kin to the Earl of Morton.  His mother, a daughter of Lord Gray, married
Lord Home, after the death of Logan’s father.  The Laird of Restalrig was
thus a half-brother of the new Lord Home, a Warden of the Border, and
also was first cousin of the beautiful, accomplished, and infamous Master
of Gray, the double spy of England and of Rome.

Logan, too, like the Master, had diplomatic ambitions.  In 1586 (July 29)
we find him corresponding with the infamous Archibald Douglas, one of
Darnley’s murderers, whom James had sent, in the crisis of his mother’s
fate, as his ambassador to Elizabeth.  In 1586, Logan, with two other
Logans, was on the packed jury which acquitted Douglas of Darnley’s
murder.  Logan was a retainer of Bothwell, that meteor-like adventurer
and king-catcher, and he asks Douglas to try to procure him employment
(of course as a spy) from Walsingham, the English statesman. {157}

In October of the same year, we find the Master of Gray writing to
Douglas, thus: ‘Of late I was forced, at Restalrig’s suit, to pawn some
of my plate, and the best jewel I had, to get him money for his
marriage’—his second marriage, apparently.  By December 1586 we find
Logan riding to London, as part of the suite of the Master of Gray, who
was to plead with Elizabeth for Mary’s life.  He was the Master’s most
intimate confidant, and, as such, in February-March 1587, proposed to
sell all his secrets to Walsingham!  Nevertheless, when Gray was driven
into exile, later in 1587, Logan was one of his ‘cautioners,’ or
sureties.  He had been of the party of Gowrie’s father, during that
nobleman’s brief tenure of power in 1582, 1583, and, when Gowrie fell,
Logan was ordered to hand his eyrie of Fastcastle over, at six hours’
notice, to the officers of the King.  Through the stormy years of
Bothwell’s repeated raids on James (1592–1594) Logan had been his
partisan, and had been denounced a rebel.  Later he appears in trouble
for highway robbery committed by his retainers.  Among the diversions of
this country gentleman was flat burglary.  In December 1593, ‘when nichts
are lang and mirk,’ the Laird helped himself to the plate-chest of
William Nesbit of Newton.  ‘Under silence of night he took spuilzie of
certain gold and silver to the value of three thousand merks Scots.’  The
executors of Nesbit did not bring their action till after Logan died, in
July 1606, ‘in respect the said clandestine deed and fact came not to our
knowledge, nor light as to who had committed the same,’ till just before
the action was brought.

In 1599, when conspiracies were in the air, Logan was bound over not to
put Fastcastle in the hands of his Majesty’s enemies and rebels. {158}

This brief sketch of a turbulent life is derived from Logan’s own letters
to Archibald Douglas, now among the Cecil Papers at Hatfield; from the
‘Papers relating to the Master of Gray,’ in which we find Logan, under a
cypher name, betraying the Master, his cousin and ally, and from the
Register of the Privy Council of Scotland, in which all that dead world,
from the King to the crofter, may be traced, often in circumstances
peculiarly private.

At that time, civil processes of ‘horning,’ ‘putting to the horn,’ or
outlawry, were the common resort of creditors against procrastinating
debtors.  Many of the most respectable persons, gentlemen and ladies,
appear in these suits; Robert Abercromby sues a lady of rank for 150_l._
Scots.  He is the burgess of Edinburgh, the King’s saddler, who, as the
Master of Ruthven told Craigengelt, had brought the King from Falkland to
Perth, ‘to take order for his debt.’  Now the singular thing is that we
never find Logan of Restalrig recorded as under ‘horning’ for debt,
whereas, considering his character, we might expect him never to be free
from ‘the horn.’  On the other hand, we know him to have been a lender,
not a borrower.  He was _sui profusus_.  On January 1, 1599, Cecil had
been making inquiries as to Logan, from Lord Willoughby commanding at
Berwick.  Cecil always had his eyes on Border Scots, likely to be useful
in troubling King James.  Willoughby replies, ‘There is sutch a laird of
Lesterigge as you write of, a vain lose man, a greate favourer of thefes
reputed, yet a man of a good clan, as they here tearme it, and a gud
felow.’ {159}

Such was Logan of Restalrig, ‘Old Rugged and Dangerous.’  In 1601, May
30, we find him appearing as surety for Philip Mowbray, one of the
Mowbrays of Barnbogle, whose sister stood by Queen Mary at the scaffold,
and whose brother Francis was with the bold Buccleuch, when he swam ‘that
wan water’ of Esk, and rescued Kinmont Willie from Carlisle Castle.  This
Francis Mowbray and his brother Philip were (1601–1603) mixed up with
Cecil in some inscrutable spy-work, and intrigues for the murder of King
James.  The Mowbrays were old friends of Logan: they had been engaged in
privateering enterprises together, but could produce no letters of
marque!  In 1603, Francis Mowbray, abandoned and extradited by Cecil, was
killed in an attempt to escape from Edinburgh Castle.  He had been
accused, by an Italian fencing-master, of a conspiracy to kill James.
Cecil had, of course, by this time made peace and alliance with James,
who was on the point of ascending the English throne, and he gave up
Francis.  Mowbray challenged the Italian fencing-master to judicial
combat; the Italian came down to fight him, the lists were actually
pitched at Holyrood, when (January 31, 1603) Francis preferred to try the
chance of flight; the rope of knotted sheet to which he trusted broke,
and he was dashed to pieces on the Castle rocks. {160a}

Since 1592, Mowbray had been corresponding with Logan’s friend, Archibald
Douglas, and offering his services to Cecil.  To Cecil, in September
1600, he was again applying, regarding Elizabeth as his debtor.  In 1600,
he was in touch with Henry Locke, who had been Cecil’s go-between in his
darkest intrigues against James, and his agent with Bothwell, Atholl, and
the Gowrie slain on August 5, 1600.  But, in the autumn of 1602, Cecil
had become the secret ally of James, and gave up poor Francis, a broken
tool of his and of Elizabeth’s. {160b}

We have now learned a good deal about Logan’s habitual associates, and we
have merely glanced at a few of the numberless plots against James which
were encouraged by the English Government.  If James was nervously
apprehensive of treason, he had good cause.  But of Logan at the moment
of the Gowrie Plot, we know nothing from public documents.  We do know,
however, on evidence which has previously been in part unpublished, in
part unobserved, that from August 1600 onwards, Logan was oddly excited
and restless.  Though not in debt—or at least though no record of his
‘horning’ exists—he took to selling his lands, Restalrig, Flemington,
Gunnisgreen, Fastcastle. {161}  After 1600 he sold them all; he wallowed
in drink; he made his wife wretched; with his eldest son he was on ill
terms; he wandered to London, and to France in 1605, and he returned to
die (of plague, it seems) in the Canongate, a landless but a monied man,
in July 1606.

Why did Logan sell all his lands, investing in shipping property?  The
natural inference, at the time, was that he had been engaged in ‘some ill
turn,’ some mysterious conspiracy, and people probably (certainly, if we
believe the evidence to follow) thought that he had been an accomplice in
the Gowrie affair.

He died, and his children by his first wives dissociated themselves from
his executorship.  The bulk of it was the unpaid part of the purchase
money for his lands, sold by him to Balmerino, and Dunbar, James’s
trusted ministers, who owed some 33,000 marks to the estate.

Logan had a ‘doer,’ or law agent, a country writer, or notary, named
Sprot, who dwelt at Eyemouth, a hungry creature, who did not even own a
horse.  When Logan rode to Edinburgh, Sprot walked thither to join him.
Yet the two were boon companions; Sprot was always loitering and watching
at Gunnisgreen, always a guest at the great Christmas festivals, given by
the Laird to his rough neighbours.  The death of Logan was a disaster to
Sprot, and to all the parasites of the Laird.

Logan died, we saw, in July 1606.  In April, 1608, Sprot was arrested by
a legal official, named Watty Doig.  He had been blabbing in his cups, it
is said, about the Gowrie affair; certainly most compromising documents,
apparently in Logan’s hand, and with his signature, were found on Sprot’s
person.  They still bear the worn softened look of papers carried for
long in the pockets. {162}  Sprot was examined, and confessed that he
knew beforehand of the Gowrie conspiracy, and that the documents in his
possession were written by Logan to Gowrie and other plotters.  He was
tortured and in part recanted; Logan, he said, had _not_ written the
guilty letters: he himself had forged them.  This was all before July 5,
1608, while Mr. Robert Oliphant lay in prison, in London, on the same
charge of guilty foreknowledge.  Early in July 1608, the Earl of Dunbar
came from London to Edinburgh, to deal with the affairs of the Kirk.  He
took Sprot out of his dungeon, gave him a more wholesome chamber,
secluded him from gentlemen who came and threatened him (or so he said)
if he made revelations, and Dunbar provided him with medical attendance.
The wounds inflicted in ‘the boot’ were healed.

For six weeks Sprot was frequently examined, before members of the Privy
Council and others, without torture.  What he said the public did not
know, nor, till now, have historians been better informed.  Throughout,
after July 5, 1608, he persisted in declaring Logan’s complicity in the
Gowrie conspiracy, and his own foreknowledge.  He was tried, solely on
the evidence of guilty foreknowledge alleged in his own confessions, and
of extracts, _given by him from memory only_, of a letter from Gowrie to
Logan (_not_ one of those which he claimed to have forged), and another
of Logan to Gowrie, both of July 1600.  On August 12, Sprot was hanged at
Edinburgh.  He repeated his confession of guilt from every corner of the
scaffold.  He uttered a long religious speech of contrition.  Once, he
said, he had been nearly drowned: but God preserved him for this great
day of confession and repentance.  But ‘no unbeliever in the guilt of
Gowrie,’ says Calderwood, ‘was one whit the more convinced.’  Of course
not, nor would the death of Henderson—which they clamoured for—have
convinced them.  They said, falsely, that Sprot was really condemned as a
forger, and, having to die, took oath to his guilt in the Gowrie
conspiracy, in consideration of promises of help to his wife and family.

Nearly a year later, in June 1609, the exhumed remains of Logan were
brought into court (a regular practice in the case of dead traitors), and
were tried for treason.  Five letters by Logan, of July 1600, were now
produced.  Three were from Logan to conspirators unnamed and unknown.
One was to a retainer and messenger of his, Laird Bower, who had died in
January 1606.  These letters were declared, by several honourable
witnesses, to be in Logan’s very unusual handwriting and orthography:
they were compared with many genuine letters of his, and no difference
was found.  The Parliamentary Committee, ‘The Lords of the Articles,’
previously sceptical, were convinced by the five letters, the evidence to
handwriting, the energy of the Earl of Dunbar, and the eloquence of the
King’s Advocate.  Logan’s children were all forfeited, and Dunbar saved
the money which he owed to Logan’s estate.  This trial is not alluded to,
either by Calderwood or Archbishop Spottiswoode, in their histories.  The
five letters produced in the trial of Logan exist, and have been accepted
as authentic by Mr. Tytler and Mr. Hill Burton, but not by writers who
favour the Ruthvens.  We print all five letters in Appendix C.

Meanwhile what had Sprot really said, under private examination, between
July 5 and August 12, 1608, when he was executed?

This question is to be answered, from the hitherto unpublished records,
in the following chapters.  But, in common charity, the reader must be
warned that the exposition is inevitably puzzling and complex.  Sprot,
under examination, lied often, lied variously, and, perhaps, lied to the
last.  Moreover much, indeed everything, depends here on exact dates, and
Sprot’s are loose, as was natural in the circumstances, the events of
which he spoke being so remote in time.

Consequently the results of criticism of his confession may here be
stated with brevity.  The persevering student, the reader interested in
odd pictures of domestic life, and in strange human characters may read
on at his own peril.  But the actual grains of fact, extracted from tons
of falsehood, may be set down in very few words.

The genuine and hitherto unknown confessions of Sprot add no absolute
certainty as to the existence of a Gowrie conspiracy.  His words, when
uncorroborated, can have no weight with a jury.  He confessed that _all_
the alleged Logan papers which, up to two days before his death, were in
possession of the Privy Council, were forgeries by himself.  But, on
August 10, he announced that he had possessed one _genuine_ letter of
Logan to Gowrie (dated July 29, 1600).  That letter (our Letter IV) or a
forged copy was then found in his repositories.  Expert evidence,
however, decides that this document, like all the others, is in a
specious imitation of Logan’s hand, but that it has other characteristics
of Sprot’s own hand, and was penned by Sprot himself.  Why he kept it
back so long, why he declared that it alone was genuine, we do not know.
That it _is_ genuine, _in substance_, and was copied by Sprot from a real
letter of Logan’s in an imitation of Logan’s hand, and that, if so, it
proves Logan’s accession to the conspiracy, is my own private opinion.
But that opinion is based on mere literary considerations, on what is
called ‘internal evidence,’ and is, therefore, purely a matter of
subjective impression, like one’s idea of the possible share of
Shakespeare in a play mainly by Fletcher or another.  Evidence of this
kind is not historical evidence.  It follows that the whole affair of
Sprot, and of the alleged Logan letters, adds nothing certain to the
reasons for believing that there was a Gowrie conspiracy.  As far as
Sprot and his documents are concerned, we know that all, as they stand,
are pure fictitious counterfeits by that unhappy man, while, as to
whether one letter (IV) and perhaps another (I) are genuine _in
substance_, every reader must form his own opinion, on literary grounds,
and no opinion is of much value.  Such is a brief summary of the facts.
But the tenacious inquirer who can follow us through the tangled mazes of
Sprot’s private confessions, will perhaps agree with me that they contain
distinguishable grains of fact, raising a strong surmise that Logan was
really involved with Gowrie in a plot.  Yet this, again, is a subjective
impression, which may vary with each reader.


The final and deepest mystery of the mysterious Gowrie affair rises, like
a mist from a marsh, out of these facts concerning Sprot.  When he was
convicted, and hanged, persisting in his confessions, on August 12, 1608,
no letters by Gowrie, or any other conspirator, were produced in Court.
Extracts, however, of a letter from Gowrie to Logan, and of one from
Logan to Gowrie, were quoted in Sprot’s formal Indictment.  They were
also quoted in an official publication, an account of Sprot’s case,
prepared by Sir William Hart, the Chief Justice, and issued in 1608.
Both these documents (to which we return) are given by Mr. Pitcairn, in
the second volume of his ‘Criminal Trials.’  But later, when the dead
Logan was tried in 1609, five of his alleged plot letters (never
_publicly_ mentioned in Sprot’s trial) were produced by the prosecution,
and not one of these was identical with the letter of Logan cited in the
Indictment of Sprot, and in the official account of his trial.  There
were strong resemblances between Logan’s letter, quoted but not produced,
in 1608, and a letter of Logan’s produced, and attested to be in his
handwriting, in 1609.  But there were also remarkable variations.

Of these undeniable facts most modern historians who were convinced of
the guilt of the Ruthvens take no notice; though the inexplicable
discrepancies between the Logan letters _quoted_ in 1608, and the letters
_produced_ as his in 1609, had always been matters of comment and

As to the letters of 1609, Mr. Tytler wrote, ‘their import cannot be
mistaken; _their authenticity has never been questioned_; they still
exist . . . ’  Now assuredly the letters exist.  The five alleged
originals were found by Mr. Pitcairn, among the Warrants of Parliament,
in the General Register House, in Edinburgh, and were published by him,
but without their endorsements, in his ‘Criminal Trials’ in Scotland.
(1832). {169}  Copies of the letters are also ‘bookit,’ or engrossed, in
the Records of Parliament.  These ‘bookit’ transcripts were made
carelessly, and the old copyist was puzzled by the handwriting and
orthography of the alleged originals before him.  The controversy about
the genuineness of the five letters took new shapes after Mr. Pitcairn
discovered those apparently in Logan’s hand, and printed them in 1832.
Mr. Hill Burton accepts them with no hint of doubt, and if Mr. Tytler was
the most learned and impartial, Mr. Hill Burton was the most sceptical of
our historians.  Yet on this point of authenticity these historians were
too hasty.  The authenticity of the letters (except one, No. IV) was
denied by the very man, Sprot, in whose possession most of them were
originally found. {170}  The evidence of his denial has been extant ever
since Calderwood wrote, who tells us, clearly on the authority of an
older and anonymous History in MS. (now in the Advocates’ Library), that
Sprot, when first taken (April 13–19, 1608), accused Logan of writing the
letters, but withdrew the charge under torture, and finally, when kindly
treated by Lord Dunbar, and healed of his wounds, declared that he
himself had forged all the Logan letters (save one).  Yet Logan was, to
Sprot’s certain knowledge (so Sprot persistently declared), involved in
the Gowrie conspiracy.

Now assuredly this appeared to be an incredible assertion of Calderwood,
or of his MS. source.  He was a stern Presbyterian, an enemy of the King
(who banished him), and an intimate friend of the Cranstoun family, who,
in 1600, were closely connected with conspirators of their name.  Thus
prejudiced, Calderwood was believed by Mr. Pitcairn to have made an
untrue or confused statement.  Logan is in a plot; Sprot knows it, and
yet Sprot forges letters to prove Logan’s guilt, and these letters, found
in Sprot’s possession, prove his own guilty knowledge.  There seems no
sense in such behaviour.  It might have been guessed that Sprot knew of
Logan’s guilt, but had no documentary evidence of it, and therefore
forged evidence for the purpose of extorting blackmail from Logan.  But,
by 1608, when Sprot was arrested with some of the documents in his
pocket, Logan had been dead for nearly two years.

The guess, that Sprot knew of Logan’s treason, but forged the proof of
it, for purposes of blackmailing him, was not made by historians.  The
guess was getting ‘warm,’ as children say in their game, was very near
the truth, but it was not put forward by criticism.  Historians, in fact,
knew that Logan would not have stood an attempt at extortion.  He was not
that kind of man.  In 1594, he made a contract with Napier of
Merchistoun, the inventor of Logarithms.  Tradition declared that there
was a hoard of gold in ‘the place of Fastcastle.’  Napier was to discover
it (probably by the Divining Rod), and Logan was to give him a third of
the profits.  But Napier, knowing his man, inserted a clause in the deed,
to the effect that, after finding the gold, _he was to be allowed a free
exit from Fastcastle_.  Whether he found the hoard or not, we do not
know.  But, two years later, in letting a portion of his property, Napier
introduced the condition that his tenant should never sublet it to any
person of the name of Logan!  If he found the gold he probably was not
allowed to carry off his third share.  Logan being a resolute character
of this kind, Sprot, a cowering creature, would not forge letters to
blackmail him.  He would have been invited to dine at Fastcastle.  The
cliffs are steep, the sea is deep, and tells no tales.

Thus where was Sprot’s motive for forging letters in Logan’s hand, and
incriminating the Laird of Restalrig, and for carrying them about in his
pocket in 1608?  But where was his motive for confessing when taken and
examined that he _did_ forge the letters, if his confession was untrue,
while swearing, to his certain destruction, that he had a guilty
foreknowledge of the Gowrie conspiracy?  He _might_ conciliate Government
and get pardoned as King’s evidence, by producing what he called genuine
Logan letters, and thus proving the conspiracy, and clearing the King’s
character; but this he did not do.  He swore to the last that Logan and
he were both guilty (so Calderwood’s authority rightly reported), but
that the plot letters were forged by himself, to what end Calderwood did
not say.  All this appeared midsummer madness.  Calderwood, it was
argued, must be in error.

A theory was suggested that Sprot really knew nothing of the Gowrie
mystery; that he had bragged falsely of his knowledge, in his cups; that
the Government pounced on him, made him forge the letters of Logan to
clear the King’s character by proving a conspiracy, and then hanged him,
still confessing his guilt.  But Mr. Mark Napier, a learned antiquary,
replied (in a long Appendix to the third volume of the History by the
contemporary Spottiswoode) to this not very probable conjecture by
showing that, when they tried Sprot, Government produced no letters at
all, only an alleged account by Sprot of two letters unproduced.
Therefore, in August 1608, Mr. Napier argued, Government had no letters;
if they had possessed them, they would infallibly have produced them.
That seemed sound reasoning.  In 1608 Government had no plot letters;
therefore, the five produced in the trial of the dead Logan were forged
for the Government, by somebody, between August 1608 and June 1609.  Mr.
Napier refused to accept Calderwood’s wild tale that Sprot, while
confessing Logan’s guilt and his own, also confessed to having forged
Logan’s letters.

Yet Calderwood’s version (or rather that of his anonymous authority in
MS.) was literally accurate.  Sprot, in _private_ examinations (July 5,
August 11, 1608), confessed to having forged all the letters but one, the
important one, Letter IV, Logan to Gowrie.  This confession the
Government burked.

The actual circumstances have remained unknown and are only to be found
in the official, but _suppressed_, reports of Sprot’s private
examinations, now in the muniment room of the Earl of Haddington.  These
papers enable us partly to unravel a coil which, without them, no
ingenuity could disentangle.  Sir Thomas Hamilton, the King’s Advocate,
popularly styled ‘Tam o’ the Cowgate,’ from his house in that old ‘street
of palaces,’ was the ancestor of Lord Haddington, who inherits his
papers.  Sir Thomas was an eminent financier, lawyer, statesman, and
historical collector and inquirer, who later became Lord Binning, and
finally Earl of Haddington.  As King’s Advocate he held, and preserved,
the depositions, letters, and other documents, used in the private
examinations of Sprot, on and after July 5, 1608.  The records of Sprot’s
examinations between April 19 and July 5, 1600, are not known to be

Sir Thomas’s collection consists of summonses, or drafts of summonses,
for treason, against the dead Logan (1609).  There is also a holograph
letter of confession (July 5, 1608) from Sprot to the Earl of Dunbar.
There are the records of the _private_ examinations of Sprot (July
5-August 11, 1600) and of other persons whom he more or less implicated.
There are copies by Sprot, in his ‘course,’ that is, current,
handwriting, of two of the five letters in Logan’s hand (or in an
imitation of it).  These are letters I and IV, produced at the posthumous
trial of Logan in June 1609.  Finally, there are letters in Logan’s hand
(or in an imitation of it), addressed to James Bower and to one Ninian
Chirnside, with allusions to the plot, and there is a long memorandum of
matters of business, also containing hints about the conspiracy, in
Logan’s hand, or in an imitation thereof, addressed to John Bell, and
James Bower.

Of these compromising papers, one, a letter to Chirnside, was found by
the Rev. Mr. Anderson (in 1902) torn into thirteen pieces (whereof one is
missing), wrapped up in a sheet of foolscap of the period.  Mr. Anderson
has placed the pieces together, and copied the letter.  Of all these
documents, only five letters (those published by Mr. Pitcairn) were
‘libelled,’ or founded on, and produced by the Government in the
posthumous trial of Logan (1609).  Not one was produced before the jury
who tried Sprot on August 12, 1608.  He was condemned, we said, merely on
his own confession.  In his ‘dittay,’ or impeachment, and in the official
account of the affair, published in 1608, were cited fragments of two
letters _quoted from memory by Sprot under private examination_.  These
quotations from memory differ, we saw, in many places from any of the
five letters produced in the trial of 1609, a fact which has aroused
natural suspicions.  This is the true explanation of the discrepancies
between the plot letter cited in Sprot’s impeachment, and in the
Government pamphlet on his case; and the similar, though not identical,
letter produced in 1609.  The indictment and the tract published by
Government contain merely Sprot’s recollections of the epistle from Logan
to Gowrie.  The letter (IV) produced in 1609 is the genuine letter of
Logan, or so Sprot seems, falsely, to swear.  _This_ document did not
come into the hands of Government till after the Indictment, containing
Sprot’s quotation of the letter from memory, was written, or, if it did,
was kept back.

All this has presently to be proved in detail.

As the Government (a fact unknown to our historians) possessed all the
alleged Logan letters and papers _before_ Sprot was hanged, and as, at
his trial, they concealed this circumstance even from Archbishop
Spottiswoode (who was present at Sprot’s public trial by jury), a great
deal of perplexity has been caused, and many ingenious but erroneous
conjectures have been invented.  The Indictment or ‘dittay’ against
Sprot, on August 12, 1608, is a public document, but not an honest one.
It contains the following among other averments.  We are told that Sprot,
in July 1600, at Fastcastle, saw and read the beginning of a letter from
Logan to Gowrie (Letter IV).  Logan therein expresses delight at
receiving a letter of Gowrie’s: he is anxious to avenge ‘the
Macchiavelian massacre of our dearest friends’ (the Earl decapitated in
1584).  He advises Gowrie to be circumspect, ‘and be earnest with your
brother, that he be not rash in any speeches touching the purpose of

                          [Picture: Fastcastle]

This letter, _as thus cited_, is not among the five later produced in
1609; it is a blurred reminiscence of parts of _two_ of them.  The reason
of these discrepancies is that the letter is quoted in the Indictment,
_not_ from the document itself (which apparently reach the prosecution
after the Indictment was framed), but from a version given from memory by
Sprot, in one of his private examinations.  Next, Sprot is told in his
Indictment that, some time later, Logan asked Bower to find this letter,
which Gowrie, for the sake of secrecy, had returned to Bower to be
delivered to Logan.  We know that this was the practice of intriguers.
After the December riot at Edinburgh in 1596, the Rev. Robert Bruce,
writing to ask Lord Hamilton to head the party of the Kirk, is said to
request him to return his own letter by the bearer.  Gowrie and Logan
practised the same method.  The indictment goes on to say that Bower,
being unable to read, asked Sprot to search for Logan’s letter to Gowrie,
among his papers, that Sprot found it, ‘abstracted’ it (stole it),
retained it, and ‘read it divers times,’ a _false quotation of the MS.
confession_.  Sprot really said that he kept the stolen letter (IV)
‘_till_’ he had framed on it, as a model, three forged letters.  It
contained a long passage of which the ‘substance’ is quoted.  This
passage as printed in Sprot’s Indictment is not to be found textually, in
any of the five letters later produced.  It is, we repeat, merely the
version given from memory, by Sprot, at one of his last private
examinations, before the letter itself came into the hands of Government.
In either form, the letter meant high treason.

Such is the evidence of the Indictment against Sprot, of August 12, 1608.
In the light of Sprot’s real confessions, hitherto lying in the
Haddington muniment room, we know the Indictment to be a false and
garbled document.  Next, on the part of Government, we have always had a
published statement by Sir William Hart, the King’s Justice, with an
introduction by Dr. George Abbot, later Archbishop of Canterbury, who was
in Edinburgh, and present when Sprot was hanged.  This tract was
published by Bradewood, London, in 1608, and is reprinted by Pitcairn.

After a verbose, pious, and pedantic diatribe, Abbot comes to the point.
Sprot was arrested in April 1608, first on the strength ‘of some words
that fell from himself,’ and, next, ‘_of some papers found upon him_.’
What papers?  They are never mentioned in the Indictment of Sprot.  They
are never alluded to in the sequel of Abbot’s pamphlet, containing the
official account, by Sir William Hart, of Sprot’s Trial and Examinations.
In mentioning ‘some papers found upon’ Sprot, Dr. Abbot ‘let the cat out
of the bag,’ but writers like Mr. Napier, and other sceptics of his way
of thinking, deny that any of the compromising letters were found at all.

No letters, we say, are mentioned by Sir William Hart, in Abbot’s tract
(1608), _as having been produced_.  Archbishop Spottiswoode, who was
present at Sprot’s public trial (August 12, 1608), thought the man one of
those insane self-accusers who are common enough, and observes that he
did not ‘show the letter’—that of Logan to Gowrie (IV).  This remark of
Spottiswoode, an Archbishop, a converted Presbyterian, a courtier, and an
advocate for the King, has been a source of joy to all Ruthven
apologists.  ‘Spottiswoode saw though the farce,’ they say; ‘there was no
letter at all, and, courtier and recreant as he was, Spottiswoode had the
honesty to say so in his History.’

To this there used to be no reply.  But now we know the actual and
discreditable truth.  The Government was, in fact, engaged in a shameful
scheme to which Archbishops were better not admitted.  They meant to use
this letter (IV) on a later occasion, but they also meant to use some of
the other letters which Sprot (unknown to Spottiswoode) had confessed to
be forgeries.  The archiepiscopal conscience might revolt at such an
infamy, Spottiswoode might tell the King, so the Scottish Government did
not then allow the Archbishop, or the public, to know that they had any
Logan letters.  No letter at all came into open and public Court in 1608.
Hart cites a short one, from Gowrie to Logan.  Gowrie hopes to see Logan,
or, at least, to send a trusty messenger, ‘anent the purpose you know.
But rather would I wish yourself to come, not only for that errand, but
for some other thing that I have to advise with you.’  There is no date
of place or day.  This letter, harmless enough, was never produced in
Court, and Mr. Barbé supposes that it was a concoction of Hart’s.  This
is an unlucky conjecture.  The Haddington MSS. prove that Sprot really
recited Gowrie’s letter, or professed to do so, from memory, in one of
his private examinations.  The prosecution never pretended to possess or
produce Gowrie’s letter.

Next, Hart cites, _as Logan’s answer to Gowrie’s first letter_ (which it
was not), the passages already quoted by the prosecution in Sprot’s
Indictment, passages out of a letter of Logan’s given by Sprot from
memory only.  Hart goes on to describe, as if on Sprot’s testimony,
certain movements of the Laird’s after he received Gowrie’s reply to his
own answer to Gowrie.  Logan’s letter (as given in 1609) is dated July
29, and it is argued that his movements, after receiving Gowrie’s reply,
are inconsistent with any share in the plot which failed on August 5.
Even if it were so, the fact is unimportant, for Sprot was really
speaking of movements at a date much earlier than July 29; he later gave
a separate account of what Logan was doing at the time of the outbreak of
the plot, an account _not_ quoted by Hart, who fraudulently or
accidentally confused the dates.  And next we find it as good as
explicitly stated, by Hart, that this letter of Logan’s to Gowrie was
never produced in open Court.  ‘Being demanded where this above written
letter, written by Restalrig to the Earl of Gowrie, which was returned
again by James Bower, is now?  Deponeth . . . that he (Sprot) left the
above written letter in his chest, among his writings, when he was taken
and brought away, and that it is closed and folded within a piece of
paper,’ so Hart declares in Abbot’s tract.  He falsified the real facts.
He could not give the question as originally put to Sprot, for that
involved the publication of the fact that all the letters but one were
forged.  The question in the authentic _private_ report ran thus:
‘Demanded where is that letter which Restalrig wrote to the Earl of
Gowrie, _whereupon the said George Sprot wrote and forged the missives
produced_?’  (August 10).

The real letter of Logan to Gowrie, the only genuine letter (if in any
sense genuine), had not on August 10 been produced.  The others were in
the hands of the Government.  Hart, in his tract, veils these
circumstances.  The Government meant to put the letters to their own
uses, on a later occasion, at the trial of the dead Logan.

Meanwhile we must keep one fact steadily in mind.  When Sprot confessed
to having forged treasonable letters in Logan’s handwriting (as
Calderwood correctly reports that he did confess), he _did not include
among them Letter IV_ (Logan to Gowrie July 29, 1600).  _That_ letter was
never heard of by Sprot’s examiners till August 10, and never came into
the hands of his examiners till late on August 11, or early on August 12,
the day when Sprot was hanged.  Spottiswoode was never made aware that
the letter had been produced.  Why Sprot reserved this piece of evidence
so long, why, under the shadow of the gibbet, he at last produced it, we
shall later attempt to explain, though with but little confidence in any

Meanwhile, at Sprot’s public trial in 1608, the Government were the
conspirators.  They burked the fact that they possessed plot-letters
alleged to be by Logan.  They burked the fact that Sprot confessed all
these, with one or, perhaps, two exceptions, to be forgeries by himself.
What they quoted, as letters of Logan and Gowrie, were merely
descriptions of such letters given by Sprot from memory of their


We have now to track Sprot through the labyrinth of his confessions and
evasions, as attested by the authentic reports of his private
examinations between July 5 and the day of his death.  It will be
observed that, while insisting on his own guilt, and on that of Logan, he
produced no documentary evidence, no genuine letter attributed by him to
Logan, nothing but his own confessed forgeries, till the cord was almost
round his neck—if he did then.

In his confessions he paints with sordid and squalid realism, the life of
a debauched laird, tortured by terror, and rushing from his fears to
forgetfulness in wine, travel, and pleasure; and to strange desperate
dreams of flight.  As a ‘human document’ the confessions of Sprot are
unique, for that period.

On July 5, 1608, Sprot, in prison, wrote, in his own ordinary hand, the
tale of how he knew of Logan’s guilt: the letter was conveyed to the Earl
of Dunbar, who, with Dunfermline, governed Scotland, under the absent
King.  The prisoner gave many sources of his knowledge, but the real
source, if any (Letter IV), he reserved till he was certain of death
(August 10).  Sprot ‘knew perfectly,’ he said, on July 5, that one letter
from Gowrie and one from his brother, Alexander Ruthven, reached Logan,
at Fastcastle and at Gunnisgreen, a house hard by Eyemouth, where Sprot
was a notary, and held cottage land. {183}  Bower carried Logan’s
answers, and ‘long afterwards’ showed Sprot ‘the first of Gowrie’s
letters’ (the harmless one about desiring an interview) and also a note
of Logan’s to Bower himself, ‘which is amongst the rest of the letters
produced.’  It is No. II, but in this confession of July 5, Sprot appears
to say that Gowrie’s innocent letter to Logan, asking for an interview,
was the source of his forgeries.  ‘I framed them all to the true meaning
and purpose of the letter that Bower let me see, to make the matter more
clear by these arguments and circumstances, for the cause which I have
already’ (before July 5) ‘shewn to the Lords’—that is, for purposes of
extorting money from Logan’s executors.

This statement was untrue.  The brief letter to Logan from Gowrie was not
the model of Sprot’s forgeries; as he later confessed he had another
model, in a letter of Logan to Gowrie, which he held back till the last
day of his life.  But in this confession of July 5, Sprot admits that he
saw, not only Gowrie’s letter to Logan of July 6 (?) 1600 (a letter never
produced), but also a ‘direction’ or letter from Logan to his retainer,
Bower, dated ‘The Canongate, July 18, 1600.’  This is our Letter II.  Had
it been genuine, then, taken with Gowrie’s letter to Logan, it must have
aroused Sprot’s suspicions.  But this Letter II, about which Sprot told
discrepant tales, is certainly not genuine.  It is dated, as we said,
‘The Canongate, July 18, 1600.’  Its purport is to inform Bower, then at
Brockholes, near Eyemouth, that Logan had received a _new_ letter from
Gowrie, concerning certain proposals already made orally to him by the
Master of Ruthven.  Logan hoped to get the lands of Dirleton for his
share in the enterprise.  He ends ‘keep all things very secret, that my
Lord, my brother’ (Lord Home) ‘get no knowledge of our purposes, for I’
(would) ‘rather be _eirdit quick_,’ that is, buried alive (p. 205).

Now we shall show, later, the source whence Sprot probably borrowed this
phrase as to Lord Home, and being _eirdit quick_, which he has introduced
into his forged letter.  Moreover, the dates are impossible.  The first
of the five letters purports to be from Logan to an unnamed conspirator,
addressed as ‘Right Honourable Sir.’  It is not certain whether this
letter was in the hands of the prosecution before the day preceding
Sprot’s execution, nor is it certain whether it is ever alluded to by
Sprot under examination.  But it is dated from Fastcastle on July 18, and
tells the unknown conspirator that Logan has just heard from Gowrie.  It
follows that Logan had heard from Gowrie on July 18 at Fastcastle, that
he thence rode to Edinburgh, and from Edinburgh wrote his letter (II) to
Bower, bidding Bower hasten to Edinburgh, to consult.  This is absurd.
Logan would have summoned Bower from Fastcastle, much nearer Bower’s home
than Edinburgh.  Again, in Letter I, Logan informs the unknown man that
he is to answer Gowrie ‘within ten days at furthest.’  That being so, he
does not need Bower in such a hurry, unless it be to carry the letter to
the Unknown.  But, in that case, he would have summoned Bower from
Fastcastle, he would not have ridden to Edinburgh and summoned him
thence.  Once more, Sprot later confessed, as we shall see, that this
letter to Bower was dictated to himself by Logan, and that the copy
produced, apparently in Logan’s hand, was forged by him from the letter
as dictated to him.  He thus contradicted his earlier statement that
Letter II was shown to him by Bower.  He never says that he was in
Edinburgh with Logan on July 18.  Besides, it is not conceivable that, by
dictating Letter II to Sprot, Logan would have voluntarily put himself in
the power of the notary.

This is a fair example of Sprot’s apparently purposeless lying.  His real
interest throughout was to persuade the Government that he was giving
them genuine Logan letters.  This, however, he denied, with truth, yet he
lied variously about the nature of his confessed forgeries.

Sprot was so false, that Government might conceive his very confession of
having forged the letters to be untrue.  The skill in handwriting of that
age could not detect them for impostures; Government might deem that he
had stolen genuine letters from Bower; letters which might legitimately
be produced as evidence.  Indeed this charitable view is perhaps
confirmed by the extraordinary fact, to be later proved, that three
Edinburgh ministers, Mr. Hall, Mr. Hewat, and Mr. Galloway, with Mr.
Lumisden, minister of Duddingston, were present on occasions when Sprot
confessed to having forged the letters.  Yet these four preachers said
nothing, as far as we hear, when the letters, confessedly forged, were
produced as evidence, in 1609, to ruin Logan’s innocent child.  Did the
preachers think the letters genuine in spite of the confession that they
were forged?  We shall see later, in any case, that the _contents_ of the
three letters to the Unknown, and a torn letter, when compared with
Letter IV, demonstrate that Sprot’s final confession to having forged
them on the model of IV is true; indeed the fact ought to have been
discovered, on internal evidence, even by critics unaware of his

We now pursue Sprot’s written deposition of July 5.  He gives, as grounds
of his knowledge of Logan’s guilt, certain conversations among Logan’s
intimates, yeomen or ‘bonnet lairds,’ or servants, from which he inferred
that Logan was engaged in treason.  Again, just before Logan’s death in
July 1606, he was delirious, and raved of forfeiture.  But Logan had been
engaged in various treasons, so his ravings need not refer to the Gowrie
affair.  He had been on Bothwell’s enterprises, and had privy dealings
with ‘Percy,’ probably Thomas Percy, who, in 1602, secretly visited Hume
of Manderston, a kinsman of Logan.  That intrigue was certainly connected
merely with James’s succession to the English crown.  But one of Logan’s
retainers, when this affair of Percy was spoken of among them, said,
according to Sprot, that the Laird had been engaged in treason ‘nearer

Sprot then writes that ‘about the time of the conspiracy,’ Logan, with
Matthew Logan, rode to Dundee, where they enjoyed a three days’ drinking
bout, and never had the Laird such a surfeit of wine.  But this jaunt
could not be part of the Gowrie plot, and probably occurred after its
failure.  Later, Sprot gave a different version of Logan’s conduct
immediately before and after Gowrie’s death.  Once more, after Logan’s
death, one Wallace asked Sprot to be silent, if ever he had heard of ‘the
Laird’s conspiracy.’  Sprot ended by confessing contritely that he had
forged all the letters (except Letter IV) ‘to the true meaning and
purpose of the letter that Bower let me see,’ a passage already quoted,
and a falsehood.

What was the ‘cause’ for which Sprot forged?  It was a purpose to
blackmail, not Logan, but Logan’s heirs or executors, one of whom was
Lord Home.  If Sprot wanted to get anything out of _them_, he could
terrify them by threatening to show the forged Logan letters, as genuine,
to the Government, so securing the ruin of Logan’s heirs by forfeiture.
He did not do this himself, but he gave forged letters, for money, to men
who were in debt to the dead Logan’s estate, and who might use the
letters to extort remission of what they owed.

On July 15, Sprot was examined before Dunfermline, Dunbar, Hart, the
King’s Advocate (Sir Thomas Hamilton), and other gentlemen.  He said
that, about July 6, 1600, Logan received a letter from Gowrie, which, two
days later, Bower showed to him at Fastcastle.  This is the harmless
Gowrie letter, which Sprot now quoted from memory, as it is printed in
Hart’s official account.

Now begins a new puzzle, caused by Sprot’s dates.  Of these we can only
give a conjectural version, for the sake of argument.  Logan received a
letter from Gowrie about July 6, 1600.  He returned a reply, by Bower,
but when did Bower start with the reply?  Let us say on July 9.  Bower
returned, says Sprot, ‘within five days,’ with ‘a new letter’ from
Gowrie.  That would bring us to July 14, but in Letters I and II, dated
July 18, Logan is informing his unknown correspondent, and Bower, of the
receipt of ‘a new letter’ from Gowrie.  Why inform Bower of this, if
Bower was the bearer of the new letter?  But the ‘new letter’ mentioned
in Letters I and II was brought by a retainer of Gowrie.  In any case,
supposing by way of conjecture that Bower returned from Gowrie about July
15, he spent the night, says Sprot, with Logan at Gunnisgreen, and next
day (July 16) rode to Edinburgh with Bower, Boig of Lochend, and Matthew
Logan.  In Edinburgh he remained ‘a certain short space,’ say four days,
which would bring us to July 20.  Needless to say that this does not fit
Letter II, Logan to Bower, July 18, and Letter I, Logan to the Unknown,
Fastcastle, July 18.

After Logan’s return from Edinburgh (which, according to Sprot, seems to
be of about July 20) Sprot heard Logan and Bower discuss some scheme by
which Logan should get Gowrie’s estate of Dirleton, without payment.
Bower said nothing could be done till Logan rode west himself.  He
discouraged the whole affair, but Logan said, in the hearing of several
persons, that he would hazard his life with Gowrie.  Lady Restalrig
blamed Bower for making Logan try to sell the lands of Fastcastle (they
were not sold till 1602), of which Bower protested his innocence.  This
was _after_ Logan’s return from Edinburgh (say July 20; that is, say five
days after Logan’s return, say July 25).  Bower and Logan had a long
conference in the open air.  Sprot was lounging and spying about beside
the river; a sea-fisher had taken a basket of blenneys, or ‘green-banes.’
Logan called to Sprot to bring him the fish, and they all supped.  Before
supper, however, Sprot walked about with Bower, and tried to ‘pump’ him
as to what was going forward.  Bower said that ‘the Laird should get
Dirleton without either gold or silver, but he feared it should be as
dear to him.  They had another pie in hand than the selling of land.’
Bower then asked Sprot not to meddle, for he feared that ‘in a few days
the Laird would be either landless or lifeless.’

Certainly this is a vivid description; Bower and Logan were sitting on a
bench ‘at the byre end;’ Sprot, come on the chance of a supper, was
peeping and watching; Peter Mason, the angler, at the river side, ‘near
the stepping stones,’ had his basket of blenneys on his honest back, his
rod or net in his hand; the Laird was calling for the fish, was taking a
drink, and, we hope, offering a drink to Mason.  Then followed the lounge
and the talk with Bower before supper, all in the late afternoon of a
July day, the yellow light sleeping on the northern sea below.  Vivid
this is, and plausible, but is it true?

We have reached the approximate date of July 25 (though, of course, after
an interval of eight years, Sprot’s memory of dates must be vague).  Next
day (July 26) Logan, with Bower and others, rode to Nine Wells (where
David Hume the philosopher was born), thence, the same night, back to
Gunnisgreen, next night, July 27, to Fastcastle, and thence to Edinburgh.
This brings us (allowing freely for error of memory) to about July 27,
‘the hinder end of July,’ says Sprot.  If we make allowance for a
vagueness of four or five days, this does not fit in badly.  Logan’s
letter to Gowrie (No. IV), which Sprot finally said that he used as a
model for his forgeries, is dated ‘Gunnisgreen, July 29.’  ‘At the
beginning of August,’ says Sprot (clearly there are four or five days
lost in the reckoning), Logan and Bower, with Matthew Logan and Willie
Crockett, rode to Edinburgh, ‘_and there stayed three days_, and the
Laird, with Matthew Logan, came home, and Bower came to his own house of
the Brockholes, where he stayed four days,’ and then was sent for by
Logan, ‘and the Laird was very sad and sorry,’ obviously because of the
failure of the plot on August 5.

How do these dates fit into the narrative?  Logan was at Gunnisgreen (his
letter (IV) proves it) on July 29.  (Later we show another error of
Sprot’s on this point.)  He writes that he is sending Bower as bearer of
his letter to Gowrie.  If Bower left Edinburgh on July 30, he could
deliver the letter to Gowrie, at Perth, on August 2, and be back in
Edinburgh (whither Logan now went) on August 5, and Logan could leave
Edinburgh on August 6, after hearing of the deaths of his
fellow-conspirators.  We must not press Sprot too hard as to dates so
remote in time.  We may grant that Bower, bearing Logan’s letter of July
29, rode with Logan and the others to Edinburgh; that at Edinburgh Logan
awaited his return, with a reply; that he thence learned that August 5
was the day for the enterprise, and that, early on August 6, he heard of
its failure, and rode sadly home: all this being granted for the sake of

Had the news of August 6 been that the King had mysteriously disappeared,
we may conceive that Logan would have hurried to Dirleton, met the
Ruthvens there, with their prisoner, and sailed with them to Fastcastle.
Or he might have made direct to Fastcastle, and welcomed them there.  His
reason for being at Restalrig or in the Canongate was to get the earliest
news from Perth, brought across Fife, and from Bruntisland to Leith.

Whether correct or not, this scheme, allowing for lapse of memory as to
dates, is feasible.  Who can, remote from any documents, remember the
dates of occurrences all through a month now distant by eight years?
There were no daily newspapers, no ready means of ascertaining a date.
Queen Mary’s accusers, in their chronological account of her movements
about the time of Darnley’s death, are often out in their dates.  In
legal documents of the period the date of the day of the month of an
event is often left blank.  This occurs in the confirmation of Logan’s
own will.  ‘He died --- July, 1606.’  When lawyers with plenty of leisure
for inquiry were thus at a loss for dates of days of the month (having
since the Reformation no Saints’ days to go by), Sprot, in prison, might
easily go wrong in his chronology.

                          [Picture: Fastcastle]

In any case, taking Letter IV provisionally as genuine in substance, we
note that, on July 29, Logan did not yet know the date fixed for Gowrie’s
enterprise.  He suggested ‘the beginning of harvest,’ and, by August 5,
harvest had begun.  One of the Perth witnesses was reaping in the ‘Morton
haugh,’ when he heard the town bell call the citizens to arms.  But
Gowrie must have acted in great haste, Logan not knowing, till, say,
August 2 or 3, the date of a plot that exploded on August 5.

Gowrie may have thought, as Lord Maxwell said when arranging his escape
from Edinburgh Castle, ‘Sic interprysis are nocht effectuat with
deliberationis and advisments, bot with suddane resolutionis.’

It is very important, we must freely admit, as an argument against the
theory of carrying James to Logan’s impregnable keep of Fastcastle, that
only one question, in our papers, is asked as to the provisioning of
Fastcastle, and _that_ merely as to the supply of drink!  Possibly this
had been ascertained in Sprot’s earlier and unrecorded examinations
(April 19-July 5).  One poor hogshead of wine (a trifle to Logan) had
been sent in that summer; so Matthew Logan deponed.  As Logan had often
used Fastcastle before, for treasonable purposes, he was not (it may be
supposed) likely to leave it without provisions.  Moreover these could be
brought by sea, from Dirleton, where Carey (August 11) says that Gowrie
had stored ‘all his provision.’  Moreover Government did not wish to
prove intent to _kidnap_ the King.  That was commonly regarded as a
harmless constitutional practice, not justifying the slaughter of the
Ruthvens.  From the first, Government insisted that _murder_ was
intended.  In the Latin indictment of the dead Logan this is again dwelt
on; Fastcastle is only to be the safe haven of the murderers.  This is a
misreading of Letter IV, where Fastcastle is merely spoken of as to be
used for a meeting, and ‘the concluding of our plot.’

Thus it cannot be concealed that, on July 29 (granting Letter IV to have
a basis), the plot, as far as Logan knew, was ‘in the air.’  If
Fastcastle was to be used by the conspirators, it must have been taken in
the rough, on the chance that it was provided, or that Gowrie could bring
his own supplies from Dirleton by sea.  This extreme vagueness undeniably
throws great doubt on Logan’s part in the plot; Letter IV, if genuine,
being the source of our perplexity.  But, if it is not genuine, that is,
_in substance_, there is only rumour, later to be discussed, to hint that
Logan was in any way connected with Gowrie.

We left Bower and Logan conversing dolefully some days after the failure
of the plot.  At this point the perhaps insuperable difficulty arises,
why did they not, as soon as they returned from Edinburgh, destroy every
inch of paper connected with the conspiracy?  One letter at least
(Logan’s to Gowrie, July 29) was not burned, according to Sprot, but was
later stolen by himself from Bower; though he reserved _this_ confession
to the last day of his life but two.  We might have expected Logan to
take the letter from Bower as soon as they met, and to burn or, for that
matter, swallow it if no fire was convenient!  Yet, according to Sprot,
in his final confession, Logan let Bower keep the damning paper for
months.  If this be true, we can only say _quos Deus vult perdere prius
dementat_.  People do keep damning letters, constant experience proves
the fact.

After Bower had met Logan in his melancholy mood, he rode away, and
remained absent for four days, on what errand Sprot did not know, and
during the next fortnight, while Scotland was ringing with the Gowrie
tragedy, Sprot saw nothing of Logan.

Next, Logan went to church at Coldinghame, on a Sunday, and met Bower:
next day they dined together at Gunnisgreen.  Bower was gloomy.  Logan
said, ‘Be it as it will, I must take my fortune, and I will tell you,
Laird Bower, the scaffold is the best death that a man can die.’  Logan,
if he said this, must have been drunk; he very often was.

It was at this point, in answer to a question, that Sprot confessed that
Logan’s letter to Bower (No. II) was a forgery by himself.  The actual
letter, Sprot said, was dictated by Logan to him, and he made a
counterfeit copy in imitation of Logan’s handwriting.  We have stated the
difficulties involved in this obvious falsehood.  Sprot was trying every
ruse to conceal his alleged source and model, Letter IV.

Sprot was next asked about a certain memorandum by Logan directed to
Bower and to one John Bell, in 1605.  This document was actually found in
Sprot’s ‘pocquet’ when he was arrested, and it contained certain very
compromising items.  Sprot replied that he forged the memorandum, in the
autumn of 1606, when he forged the other letters.  He copied most of it
from an actual but innocent note of Logan’s on business matters, and
added the compromising items out of his own invention.  He made three
copies of this forgery, one was produced; he gave another to a man named
Heddilstane or Heddilshaw, a dweller in Berwick, in September 1607; the
third, ‘in course hand,’ he gave to another client, ‘the goodman of
Rentoun,’ Hume.  One was to be used to terrorise Logan’s executors, to
whom Heddilstane, but not Rentoun, was in debt.  Sprot’s words are
important.  ‘He omitted nothing that was in the original’ (Logan’s
memorandum on business matters), ‘but _eikit_’ (added) ‘two articles to
his copy, the one concerning Ninian Chirnside’ (as to a dangerous
plot-letter lost by Bower), ‘the other, where the Laird ordered Bower to
tear his missive letters.  _He grants that he wrote another copy with his
course hand_, _copied from his copy_, and gave it to the goodman of
Rentoun,’ while the copy given to Heddilstane ‘was of his counterfeited
writing,’ an imitation of Logan’s hand.

             [Picture: Handwriting of Logan (January 1585–6)]

Perhaps Sprot had two methods and scales of blackmail.  For one, he
invented damning facts, and wrote them out in imitation of Logan’s
writing.  The other species was cheaper: a copy in his ‘course hand’ of
his more elaborate forgeries in Logan’s hand.  Now the two copies of
Letters I and IV, which, at the end of his life, as we shall see, Sprot
attested by signed endorsements, were in his ‘course hand.’  He had them
ready for customers, when he was arrested in April 1608, and they were
doubtless found in his ‘kist’ on the day before his death, with the
alleged original of Letter IV.  Up to August 11, at a certain hour,
Government had neither the alleged original, nor Sprot’s ‘course hand
copy’ of Letter IV, otherwise he would not have needed to quote IV from
memory, as he did on that occasion.

Among these minor forgeries, to be used in blackmailing operations, was a
letter nominally from Logan to one Ninian or Ringan Chirnside.  This man
was a member of the family of Chirnside of Easter Chirnside; his own
estate was Whitsumlaws.  All these Chirnsides and Humes of Berwickshire
were a turbulent and lawless gang, true borderers.  Ninian is addressed,
by Logan, as ‘brother;’ they were most intimate friends.  It was Ninian
who (as the endorsement shows) produced our Letter V, on April 19; he had
purchased it, for the usual ends, from Sprot, being a great debtor (as
Logan’s will proves) to his estate.

To track these men through the background of history is to have a notion
of the Day of Judgment.  Old forgotten iniquities and adventures leap to
light.  Chirnside, like Logan and the Douglases of Whittingham, and John
Colville, and the Laird of Spot, had followed the fortunes of wild Frank
Stewart, Earl of Bothwell, and nephew of the Bothwell of Queen Mary.
Frank Bothwell was driven into his perilous courses by a charge of
practising witchcraft against the King’s life.  Absurd as this sounds,
Bothwell had probably tried it for what it was worth.  When he was
ruined, pursued, driven, child of the Kirk as he seemed, into the
Catholic faction, his old accomplice, Colville, took a solemn farewell of
him.  ‘By me your lordship was cleared of the odious imputation of
witchcraft . . . but God only knows how far I hazarded my conscience in
making black white, and darkness light for your sake’ (September 12,
1594). {198}

After Bothwell, when he trapped the King by aid of Lady Gowrie (July
1593), recovered power for a while, he defended himself on this charge of
witchcraft.  He _had_ consulted and employed the wizard, Richard Graham,
who now accused him of attempting the King’s life by sorcery.  But he had
only employed Graham to heal the Earl of Angus, himself dying of
witchcraft.  Bothwell was charged with employing a retainer, _Ninian_
Chirnside, to arrange more than twenty-one meetings with the wizard
Graham; the result being the procurement of a poison, ‘adder skins, toad
skins, and the hippomanes in the brain of a young foal,’ to ooze the
juices on the King, ‘a poison of such vehemency as should have presently
cut him off.’  Isobel Gowdie, accused of witchcraft in 1622, confessed to
having employed a similar charm. {199a}  All this Bothwell, instructed by
Colville, denied, but admitted that he had sent Ninian Chirnside twice to
the wizard, all in the interests of the dying Earl of Angus. {199b}

This Chirnside, then, was a borderer prone to desperate enterprises and
darkling rides, and midnight meetings with the wizard Graham in lonely
shepherds’ cottages, as was alleged.  He could also sink to blackmailing
the orphan child of his ‘brother,’ Logan of Restalrig.

To go on with Sprot’s confessions; he had forged, he said, receipts from
Logan to the man named Edward or Ned Heddilstane for some of the money
which Heddilstane owed him.  For these forgeries his client paid him
well, if not willingly.  Sprot frequently blackmailed Ned, ‘whenever he
want siller.’

It must be granted that Sprot was a liar so complex, and a forger so
skilled (for the time, that is), that nothing which he said or produced
can be reckoned, as such, as evidence.  On the other hand, his power of
describing or inventing scenes, real or fictitious, was of high artistic
merit, so that he appears occasionally either to deviate into truth, or
to have been a realistic novelist born centuries too early.  Why then, it
may be asked, do we doubt that Sprot may have forged, without a genuine
model, Letter IV?  The answer will appear in due time.  Letter IV, as
Sprot confessed, is certainly the model of all the letters which he
forged, whether those produced or those suppressed.  He was afraid to
wander from his model, which he repeated in Letters I (?), III, V, and in
the unproduced letters, including one which we have found in twelve torn
fragments, with the signature missing.


On July 16, Sprot was again examined.  Spottiswoode, Archbishop of
Glasgow, the historian, was present, on this occasion only, with
Dunfermline, Dunbar, Sir Thomas Hamilton, Hart, and other nobles and
officials.  None of them signs the record, which, in this case only, is
merely attested by the signature of Primrose, the Clerk of Council, one
of Lord Rosebery’s family.  In this session Sprot said nothing about
forging the letters.  The Archbishop was not to know.

Asked if he had any more reminiscences, Sprot said that, in November
1602, Fastcastle having been sold, Logan asked Bower ‘for God’s sake’ to
bring him any of the letters about the Gowrie affair which he might have
in keeping.  Bower said that he had no dangerous papers except one letter
from Alexander Ruthven, and another from ‘Mr. Andro Clerk.’  This Clerk
was a Jesuit, who chiefly dealt between Spain and the Scotch Catholics.
He was involved in the affair called ‘The Spanish Blanks’ (1593), and
visited the rebel Catholic peers of the North, Angus, Errol, and Huntly.
{202} Logan, like Bothwell, was ready to intrigue either with the Kirk or
the Jesuits, and he seems to have had some personal acquaintance with
Father Andrew.

Bower left Logan, to look for these letters at his own house at
Brockholes, and Logan passed a night of sleepless anxiety.  One of the
mysteries of the case is that Logan entrusted Bower, who could not read,
with all his papers.  If one of them was needed, Bower had to employ a
person who could read to find it: probably he used, as a rule, the help
of his better educated son, Valentine.  After Logan’s restless night,
Bower returned with the two letters, Ruthven’s and Clerk’s, which Logan
‘burned in the fire.’

(Let it be remembered that Sprot has not yet introduced Letter IV into
his depositions, though that was by far the most important.)

               [Picture: Hand of Logan as forged by Sprot]

After burning Clerk’s and Ruthven’s letters, Logan dictated to Sprot a
letter to John Baillie of Littlegill, informing him of the fact.  Bower
rode off with the letter, and Logan bade Sprot be silent about all these
things, for he had learned, from Bower, that Sprot knew a good deal.
Here the amateur of the art of fiction asks, why did Sprot drag in Mr.
John Baillie of Littlegill?  If Logan, as Sprot swore, informed Baillie
about the burned letters, then Baillie had a guilty knowledge of the
conspiracy.  Poor Baillie was instantly ‘put in ward’ under the charge of
the Earl of Dunfermline.  But, on the day after Sprot was hanged, namely
on August 13, Baillie was set free, on bail of 10,000 marks to appear
before the Privy Council if called upon.  Three of Sprot’s other victims,
Maul, Crockett, and William Galloway, were set free on their personal
recognisances, but Mossman and Matthew Logan were kept in prison, and
Chirnside was not out of danger of the law for several years, as we learn
from the Privy Council Register.  Nothing was ever proved against any of
these men.  After the posthumous trial of Logan (June 1609) the King bade
the Council discharge John Baillie from his bail, ‘as we rest now fully
persuaded that there was no just cause of imputation against the said
John.’  So the Register of the Privy Council informs us. {203}  Thus, if
Sprot told the truth about all these men, no corroborative facts were
discovered, while the only proofs of his charges against Logan were the
papers which, with one exception, he confessed to be forgeries, executed
by himself, for purposes of extortion.

To go on with his confessions: The Christmas of 1602 arrived, and ‘The
Laird keepit ane great Yule at Gunnisgreen.’  On the third day of the
feast, Logan openly said to Bower, at table, ‘I shall sleep better this
night than that night when I sent you for the letters’ (in November),
‘for now I am sure that none of these matters will ever come to further
light, if you be true.’  Bower answered, ‘I protest before God I shall be
counted the most damnable traitor in the world, if any man on earth know,
for I have buried them.’

After supper, Bower and Logan called Sprot out on to the open hill-side.
Logan said that Bower confessed to having shown Sprot a letter of
Gowrie’s.  What, he asked, did Sprot think of the matter?  Sprot, with
protestations of loyalty, said that he thought that Logan had been in the
Gowrie conspiracy.  Logan then asked for an oath of secrecy, promising
‘to be the best sight you ever saw,’ and taking out 12_l._ (Scots) bade
Sprot buy corn for his children.  Asked who were present at the scene of
the supper, Sprot named eight yeomen.  ‘The lady’ (Lady Restalrig) ‘was
also present at table that night, and at her rising she said, “The Devil
delight in such a feast, that will make all the children weep hereafter,”
and this she spoke, as she went past the end of the table.  And, after
entering the other chamber, she wept a while, ‘and we saw her going up
and down the chamber weeping.’

A fortnight later, Lady Restalrig blamed Bower for the selling of
Fastcastle.  Bower appealed to Logan; it was Logan’s fault, not his.
‘One of two things,’ said Bower, ‘must make you sell your lands; either
you think your children are bastards, or you have planned some treason.’
The children were not those of Lady Restalrig, but by former marriages.
Logan replied, ‘If I had all the land between the Orient and the
Occident, I would sell the same, and, if I could not get money for it, I
would give it to good fellows.’  On another occasion Logan said to Bower,
‘I am for no land, I told you before and will tell you again.  You have
not learned the art of memory.’

In fact, Logan did sell, not only Fastcastle, but Flemington and
Restalrig.  We know how the Scot then clung to his acres.  Why did Logan
sell all?  It does not appear, as we have shown, that he was in debt.  If
he had been, his creditors would have had him ‘put to the horn,’
proclaimed a recalcitrant debtor, and the record thereof would be found
in the Privy Council Register.  But there is no such matter.  Sprot
supposed that Logan wished to turn his estates into money, to be ready
for flight, if the truth ever came out.  The haste to sell all his lands
is certainly a suspicious point against Logan.  He kept on giving Sprot
money (hush money, and for forgeries to defraud others, sometimes) and
taking Sprot’s oath of secrecy.

A remarkable anecdote follows; remarkable on this account.  In the letter
(II) which Logan is said by Sprot to have written to Bower (July 18,
1600) occurs the phrase, ‘Keep all things very secret, that my lord my
brother get no knowledge of our purposes, _for I rather be eirdit
quik_’—would rather be buried alive (p. 184).  This ‘my lord my brother’
is obviously meant for Alexander, sixth Lord Home, whose father, the
fifth lord, had married Agnes, sister of Patrick, sixth Lord Gray, and
widow of Sir Robert Logan of Restalrig.  By Sir Robert, Lady Restalrig
had a son, the Logan of this affair; and, when, after Sir Robert’s death,
she married the fifth Lord Home, she had to him a son, Alexander, sixth
Lord Home.  Our Logan and the sixth Lord Home were, therefore, brothers
uterine. {206a}

Now, if we accept as genuine (in substance) the one letter which Sprot
declared to be really written by Logan (No. IV), Gowrie was anxious that
Home, a person of great importance, Warden on the Border, should be
initiated into the conspiracy.  As Gowrie had been absent from Scotland,
between August 1594 (when he, as a lad, was in league with the wild
king-catcher, Francis Stewart of Bothwell), and May 1600, we ask, what
did Gowrie know of Home, and why did he think him an useful recruit?  The
answer is that (as we showed in another connection, p. 130) Gowrie was in
Paris in February-April 1600, that Home was also in Paris at the same
time (arriving in Scotland, at his house of Douglas, April 18, 1600), and
that Home did not go to Court, on his return, owing to the King’s
displeasure because of his ‘trysting with Bothwell’ in Brussels. {206b}

Here then we have, in March 1600, Gowrie and Home, in Paris, and
Bothwell, the King-catcher, meeting Home in Brussels.  Therefore, when
Letter IV represents Gowrie as anxious to bring Home, who had been
consulting Bothwell, into his plot, nothing can be more natural.  Gowrie
himself conceivably met his old rebellious ally, Bothwell; he was certain
to meet Home in Paris, and Home, owning Douglas Castle and Home Castle
near the Border, would have been a most serviceable assistant.  It must
also be remembered that Home was, at heart, a Catholic, a recent and
reluctant Protestant convert, ‘compelled to come in,’ by the Kirk.
Bothwell was a Catholic; Gowrie, he declared, was another; Logan was a
trafficker with Jesuits, and an ‘idolater’ in the matter of ‘keeping
great Yules.’  Logan, however, if Letter IV is genuine, in substance,
wrote that he ‘utterly dissented’ from Gowrie’s opinion.  He would not
try his brother’s, Home’s, mind in the matter, or ‘consent that he ever
should be counsellor thereto, for, in good faith, he will never help his
friend, nor harm his foe.’

Such being the relations (if we accept Letter IV as in substance genuine)
between Gowrie, Home, and Logan, we can appreciate Sprot’s anecdote, now
to be given, concerning Lady Home.  Logan, according to Sprot, said to
him, in Edinburgh, early in 1602, ‘Thou rememberest what my Lady Home
said to me, when she would not suffer my lord to subscribe my contract
for Fentoun, because I would not allow two thousand marks to be kept out
of the security, and take her word for them?  She said to me, _which was
a great knell to my heart_, that since her coming to the town, she knew
that I had been in some dealing with the Earl of Gowrie about Dirleton.’
Now Dirleton, according to Sprot, was to have been Logan’s payment from
Gowrie, for his aid in the plot.

Logan then asked Sprot if he had blabbed to Lady Home, but Sprot replied
that ‘he had never spoken to her Ladyship but that same day, although he
had read the contract’ (as to Fentoun) ‘before him and her in the abbey,’
of Coldingham, probably.  Logan then requested Sprot to keep out of Lady
Home’s sight, lest she should ask questions, ‘_for I had rather be eirdit
quick than either my Lord or she knew anything of it_.’

Now, in Letter II (July 18, 1600), from Logan to Bower, Logan, as we saw,
is made to write, ‘See that my Lord, my brother, gets no knowledge of our
purposes, _for I_ (_sic_) _rather be eirdit quik_.’  The phrase recurs in
another of the forged letters not produced in court.

It is thus a probable inference that Logan did use this expression to
Sprot, in describing the conversation about Lady Home, and that Sprot
inserted it into his forged Letter II (Logan to Bower).  But, clever as
Sprot was, he is scarcely likely to have invented the conversation of
Logan with Lady Home, arising out of Logan’s attempt to do some business
with Lord Home about Fentoun.  A difficulty, raised by Lady Home, led up
to the lady’s allusion to Dirleton, ‘which was a great knell to my
heart,’ said Logan.  This is one of the passages which indicate a basis
of truth in the confessions of Sprot.  Again, as Home and Gowrie were in
Paris together, while Bothwell was in Brussels, in February 1600, and as
Home certainly, and Gowrie conceivably, met Bothwell, it may well have
been that Gowrie heard of Logan from Bothwell, the old ally of both, and
marked him as a useful hand.  Moreover, he could not but have heard of
Logan’s qualities and his keep, Fastcastle, in the troubles and
conspiracies of 1592–1594.  After making these depositions, Sprot
attested them, with phrases of awful solemnity, ‘were I presently within
one hour to die.’  He especially insisted that he had written, to Logan’s
dictation, the letter informing John Baillie of Littlegill that all
Gowrie’s papers were burned.  As we saw, in November 1609, the King
deliberately cleared Baillie of all suspicion.  There could be no
evidence.  Bower, the messenger, was dead.

Baillie was now called.  He denied on oath that he had ever received the
letter from Logan.  He had never seen Gowrie, ‘except on the day he came
first home, and rode up the street of Edinburgh.’  Confronted with
Baillie, ‘Sprot abides by his deposition.’

Willie Crockett was then called.  He had been at Logan’s ‘great Yule’ in
Gunnisgreen, where Logan, according to Sprot, made the imprudent
speeches.  Crockett had also been at Dundee with Logan, he said, but it
was in the summer of 1603.  He did not hear Logan’s imprudent speech to
Bower, at the Yule supper.  As to the weeping of Lady Restalrig, he had
often seen her weep, and heard her declare that Logan would ruin his
family.  He only remembered, as to the Yule supper, a quarrel between
Logan and Willie Home.

This was the only examination at which Archbishop Spottiswoode attended.
Neither he nor any of the Lords (as we have said already) signed the
record, which is attested only by James Primrose, Clerk of Council,
signing at the foot of each page.  Had the Lords ‘quitted the diet’?

The next examination was held on July 22, Dunfermline, Dunbar, Sir Thomas
Hamilton, the President of the Court of Session, and other officials, all
laymen, being present.  Sprot incidentally remarked that Logan visited
London, in 1603, after King James ascended the English throne.  Logan
appears to have gone merely for pleasure; he had seen London before, in
the winter of 1586.  On his return he said that he would ‘never bestow a
groat on such vanities’ as the celebration of the King’s holiday, August
5, the anniversary of the Gowrie tragedy; adding ‘when the King has cut
off all the noblemen of the country he will live at ease.’  But many
citizens disliked the 5th of August holiday as much as Logan did.

                     [Picture: Handwriting of Sprot]

In the autumn of 1605, Logan again visited London.  In Sprot’s account of
his revels there, and his bad reception, we have either proof of Logan’s
guilt, if the tale be true, or high testimony to Sprot’s powers as an
artist in fiction.  He says that Matthew Logan accompanied the Laird to
town in September 1605, and in November was sent back with letters to
Bower.  Eight days later, Matthew took Sprot to Coldingham, to meet
Bower, and get his answer to the letters.  It was a Sunday; these
devotees heard sermon, and then dined together at John Corsar’s.  After
dinner Bower took Sprot apart, and showed him two letters.  Would Sprot
read to him the first few words, that he might know which letter he had
to answer?  The first letter shown (so Sprot writes on the margin of his
recorded deposition) referred to the money owed to Logan, by the Earl of
Dunbar, for Gunnisgreen and the lands of Remington.  Logan had expected
to get the purchase money from Dunbar in London; he never got more than
18,000 out of 33,000 marks.  Sprot wrote for Bower the answer to this
business letter, and gave it to Matthew Logan to be sent to Logan in
London.  Matthew, being interrogated, denied that he sent any letter back
to Logan, though he owned that Sprot wrote one; and he denied that Sprot
and Bower had any conference at all on the occasion.  But Sprot had
asserted that the conference with Bower occurred after Matthew Logan left
them at Corsar’s house, where they dined, as Matthew admitted, after
sermon.  Matthew denied too much.

A curious conference it was.  Bower asked Sprot to read to him the other
of Logan’s two letters, directed to himself.  It ran, ‘Laird Bower,—I wot
not what I should say or think of this world!  It is very hard to trust
in any man, for apparently there is no constancy or faithfulness.  For
since I cam here they whom I thought to have been my most entire friends
have uttered to me most injurie, and have given me the defiance, and say
I am not worthy to live, “and if the King heard what has moved you to put
away all your lands, and _debosch_ yourself, you would not make such
merryness, and play the companion in London, as you do so near his

Logan went on to express his fear that Bower’s rash speeches had roused
these suspicions of ‘the auld misterie ye ken of.’  ‘God forgive you, but
I have had no rest since these speeches were upcast to me.’  Bower was to
take great care of this letter, ‘for it is within three letters
enclosed,’ and is confided to Matthew Logan (who travelled by sea) as a
trusty man.

Bower was much moved by this melancholy letter, and denied that he had
been gossiping.  He had twice, before Logan rode south, advised him to be
very careful never even to mention the name of Gowrie.

Sprot said that he, too, was uneasy, for, if anything came out, he
himself was in evil case.  Logan visited France, as well as London, at
this time; he returned home in the spring of 1606, but Bower expressed
the belief that he would go on to Spain, ‘to meet Bothwell and Father
Andrew Clerk, and if he come home it will be rather to die in his own
country than for any pleasure he has to live.’  Bothwell and Father
Andrew, of course, were both Catholic intriguers, among whom Bothwell
reckoned Logan and Gowrie.

Now the letter to Bower here attributed to Logan, telling of the new
‘knell at his heart’ when he is rebuked and insulted as he plays the
merry companion in London, and near the Court; his touching complaint of
the falseness of the world (he himself being certainly the blackest of
traitors), with the distress of Bower, do make up a very natural
description.  The ghost of his guilt haunts Logan, he cannot drown it in
a red sea of burgundy: life has lost its flavour; if he returns, it will
be with the true Scottish desire to die in his own country, though of his
ancient family’s lands he has not kept an acre.  Pleasant rich Restalrig,
strong Fastcastle, jolly Gunnisgreen of the ‘great Yules,’ all are gone.
Nothing is left.

Surely, if Sprot invented all this, he was a novelist born out of due
time.  Either he told truth, or, in fiction, he rivalled De Foe.

Matthew Logan, being called, contradicted Sprot, as we have already said.
He himself had seen Bower when he brought him Logan’s letter from London,
take his son, Valentine, apart, and knew that Valentine read a letter to
him.  ‘It was a meikle letter,’ Matthew said, and, if Sprot tell truth,
it contained three enclosures.  Bower may have stopped his son from
reading the melancholy and compromising epistle, and kept it to be read
by Sprot.  Logan’s folly in writing at all was the madness that has
ruined so many men and women.

Matthew could not remember having ridden to Edinburgh with Logan in July
1600, just before the Gowrie affair, as Sprot had declared that he did.
We could scarcely expect him to remember that.  He could remember nothing
at all that was compromising, nothing of Logan’s rash speeches.  As to
the Yule feast at Gunnisgreen, he averred that Lady Restalrig only said,
‘The Devil delight in such a feast that makes discord, and makes the
house ado’—that is, gives trouble.  Asked if wine and beer were stored in
Fastcastle, in 1600, he said, as has already been stated, that a hogshead
of wine was therein.  He himself, he said, had been ‘in the west,’ at the
time of the Gowrie tragedy, and first heard of it at Falkirk.

On August 6, Sprot was interrogated again.  Only lay lords were present:
there were no clergymen nor lawyers.  He denied that he had received any
promise of life or reward.  He asked to be confronted with Matthew Logan,
and reported a conversation between them, held when Lord Dunbar took
possession of Gunnisgreen.  Matthew then hoped to ride with the Laird to
London (1605), but said, ‘Alas, Geordie Sprot, what shall we all do now,
now nothing is left?  I was aye feared for it, for I know the Laird has
done some evil turn, and he will not bide in the country, and woe’s me

Sprot asked what the ‘evil turn’ was.  Matthew answered, ‘I know well
enough, but, as the proverb goes, “what lies not in my way breaks not my

Sprot added that, after Bower’s death (January 1606), Logan wrote to him
from London, not having heard the news of his decease.  Lady Restalrig
opened the letter and wrote a postscript ‘Give this to Laird Bower, for I
trow that he be ridden to Hell, as he ofttimes said to the Laird that he
would do.’  In Letter IV. Logan tells Gowrie that he believes Bower
‘would ride to Hell’s gate to pleasure him.’

Sprot was now asked about two letters.  One of these (Logan to Chirnside)
is endorsed, ‘Production by Niniane Chirnesyde.  XIII April 1608.’
Another is Letter V, endorsed ‘produced by Ninian Chirnside,’ a fact
first noted by Mr. Anderson.  Yet another is the letter in twelve torn
pieces.  Logan, in the first of these three letters, requests Chirnside
to find a letter which Bower lost in Dunglas.  The letter imperils
Logan’s life and lands.  The date is September 23, and purports, falsely,
to be written before Logan goes to London (1605).  Sprot explained that
he forged the letters, that Chirnside might blackmail Logan’s executors,
and make them forgive him the debts which (as Logan’s will proves) he
owed to the estate.

Here we cite the letter of the twelve fragments.  It is, of course, a
forgery by Sprot, to enable Chirnside to terrorise his creditors, Logan’s
executors.  But, as it directly implicates Chirnside himself in the
Gowrie conspiracy, probably he disliked it, and tore it up.  Yet the
artist could not part with his work; it still lies, now reconstructed, in
the old folio sheet of paper.  The reader will remark that, like Letters
I (?), III, and V, this torn letter is a mere _pastiche_ framed (as Sprot
confessed) on ideas and expressions in Letter IV.

_Letter found among the Haddington MSS. torn into thirteen pieces_ (_one
lost_)—_these have been placed in order_, _but at least one line of the
piece is wanting_.

Brother, according to my promise the last day ve met in the kannogate I
have sent this berair to my lord vith my answer of all thingis, and, I
pray you ryde vith him till his lordschip, and bevar that he speik vith
na other person bot his lordschipis self and M.A. his lordschipis
brother, and specially let nocht his lordschipis pedagog [Mr. Rhynd] ken
ony thing of the matter, bot forder him hame agane, becawse the purpos is
parilouse, as ye knaw the danger.  And yit for my ain part I protest
befoir God I sall keip trew condicion till his lordschip, and sall hasard
albeit it var to the vary skafald, and bid his lordschip tak nane other
opinion bot gude of the trustyness of this silly ald man [Bower] for I
dar baldlie concredit my lyf and all other thing I have elliss in this
varld onto his credit, and I trow he sall nocht frustrat my gude
expectacion.  Burn or send bak agane as I did vith you, so till meitting,
and ever I rest, Yowre brother to power redy, Restalrige.

Beseik his lordschip bavar [beware] that my lord my brother [Lord Home]
get na intelligense of thir towrnis as he lowfis all owr veillis, for be
God he vill be our greittest enemy. {217}

(A line or more wanting)

                                * * * * *

On the same day (August 6) Sprot withdrew a deposition (made before July
5) that the Unknown, for whom Letters I, III, V were meant, was the Laird
of Kinfauns, Sir Harry Lindsay, who, in 1603, tried to shoot Patrick
Eviot, one of the Gowrie fugitives.  The Constable of Dundee (Sir James
Scrymgeour) Sprot had also accused falsely.  The Letters (I (?), III, V),
he says, were ‘imagined by me.’

On August 8, three ministers, Patrick Galloway, John Hall, and Peter
Hewatt, were present.  The two former were now preachers of the courtly
party, the third received a pension of 500 marks from the King, after the
posthumous trial of Logan (1609), at which the five letters were
produced, but this reward may have been a mere coincidence.  The
ministers Hall and Hewatt, in August 1600, had at first, as we saw,
declined to accept James’s version of the affair at Gowrie House (pp.

Sprot now confesses that he knows he is to die, deposes that no man has
promised him life, and that he has stated nothing in hope of life.  With
tears he deplores that he has taken God’s name in vain, in swearing to
the truth of his depositions before that of July 5.  His last five
depositions under examination are ‘true in all points and circumstances,
and he will go to the death with the same.’

‘Further the said George Sprot remembers that in the summertide of 1601,
the Laird of Restalrig had indented with the Lord Willoughby, then
Governor of Berwick, concerning my Lord’s ship then built and lying at
Berwick, whereof the Laird should have been equal partner with my Lord,
and to take voyage with the said ship, either by the Laird himself, or
some other person whom it pleased him to appoint . . . to pass to the
Indies, the Canarys, and through the Straits, for such conditions as were
set down in the indenture betwixt my Lord and him, which was framed by
Sir John Guevara,’ Willoughby’s cousin, the kidnapper of Ashfield in

Now this ship of Lord Willoughby’s, at all events, was a real ship; and
here is a grain of fact in the narrative of Sprot.  The ship was built by
Lord Willoughby to protect English commerce from the piracies of the
Dunkirkers.  On March 28, 1601, he writes from Berwick to Cecil, ‘The
respect of my country and the pity of those hurt by such’ (the
Dunkirkers) ‘persuaded me to build a ship, and moves me now to offer to
serve her Majesty at as reasonable a rate as any ship of 140 tons, with
sixteen pieces of artillery, and 100 men can be maintained with. . . .
If this offer seem good to you and the Council, my ship shall presently
be fitted, if not I purpose to dispose otherwise of her’ (to Logan),
‘being not able to maintain her.’  (‘Border Calendar,’ ii. 738).  On
April 19, Willoughby wrote that he had pursued, with his ship, a pirate
which had carried an English prize into the Forth.  But he cannot,
unaided, maintain the ship, even for one summer.  On June 14, Willoughby
‘took a great cold’ in his ship, lying at the haven mouth, awaiting a
wind, and died suddenly.  On July 20, Carey says that his body has been
placed, with all honourable rites, on board his ship.

It appears, then, that Willoughby, unable to maintain his ship, and not
subsidised by Government, in the summer of 1601 admitted Logan to a half
of the venture, carrying great expenses.  Logan settled the business at
Robert Jackson’s house, in Bridge Street, Berwick, being accompanied by
Sprot, Bower, and Matthew Logan.  Matthew said privately to Sprot, ‘Wae’s
me that ever I should see this day, that the Laird should grow a seaman!
I wot not what it means, for it is for no good, and I fear this shall be
one of the sorrowful blocks that ever the Laird made.  It is true that I
have oft thought that the Laird would pass away, for he is minded to sell
all that he has, and would to God that he had never been born, what
should he do with such conditions, to go or to send to the sea?  He might
have lived well enough at home.  I find he has ever been _carried_’
(excited), ‘and his mind has ever been set on passing out of the country
this year past,’ that is since the Gowrie affair.

Now all this tale has much _vraisemblance_.  The facts about Logan’s
adventure with Willoughby, stopped by Willoughby’s death, were easily
verifiable.  Logan, at his death, owned a ship, rated at 500 marks (so we
read in his inventory), but this can hardly have been the ship of
Willoughby.  He was restless, excited, selling land to supply a maritime

At this time Lady Restalrig was deeply distressed, she wished Logan at
the Indies, if only he would first settle Flemington on herself.  ‘If it
be God’s will, I desire never to have a child to him,’ she said.  ‘I have
a guess what this mystery means, woe’s me for his motherless children,’
that is, children of former marriages.  Later, Lady Restalrig had a
daughter, Anna, by Logan.

Matthew Logan, as usual, denied every word attributed to him by Sprot,
except regrets for his own condition.  Matthew could do no less to save
his own life.

On August 9, before other witnesses, and the Rev. Messrs. Galloway, Hall,
and Hewatt, Sprot solemnly confessed to having forged the letters in
Logan’s hand (then in possession of his examiners).  On August 10, the
same clergymen and many Lords, and Hart, being present, Sprot came to the
point at last.  Where, he was asked, after a prayer offered, at his
request, by Mr. Galloway, _was the letter of Logan to Gowrie_, _whereon_,
_as model_, _the rest were forged_?  Now he had not previously mentioned,
as far as the reports go, a letter of Logan to Gowrie, as the model of
his forgeries.  He had mentioned, as his model, the brief harmless letter
of Gowrie to Logan.  On August 9, he had been very solemnly told that he
was to die, and that he would see the faces of the Lords of the Council
no more.  Probably, after they left him, he told, to a minister or a
servant in the gaol, the fact that he had used, as his model, a letter
from Logan to Gowrie.  The result was that he did again see, on August
10, the Lords of the Council, who asked him ‘where the letter now was.’
This is Letter IV, the letter of Logan to Gowrie, of July 29, 1600.
Sprot, in place of answering directly, cited from memory, and
erroneously, the opening of the letter.  He had read it, while it was
still unfinished, in July 1600, at Fastcastle.  Logan, who had been
writing it, was called by Bower, went out, and thrust it between a bench
and the wall: there Sprot found, read, and restored the unfinished
epistle to its place.  But the letter is dated ‘from Gunnisgreen,’ at the
conclusion.  Logan, according to Sprot, left Gunnisgreen one day at the
end of July, 1600, or beginning of August, thence rode to Fastcastle, and
thence, next day, to Edinburgh (p. 190).

Now Logan, in the letter (IV), says that he took two days to write it.
One day would be at Fastcastle, when he was interrupted; the other, the
day of dating, at Gunnisgreen.  This, however, does not tally with
Sprot’s account (p. 190) of Logan’s movements (Nine Wells, Gunnisgreen,
Fastcastle, Edinburgh), if these are the days of writing Letter IV.  Yet,
if Sprot forged Letter IV, he knew where he dated it from; {221} if the
Government had it forged, they knew, from Sprot’s confession, that it
should have been dated from Fastcastle.  Perhaps we should not bear too
heavily on this point.  A man may mention the wrong name by inadvertence,
or the clerk, by inadvertence, may write the wrong name.  Mr. Mark Napier
in his essay on this matter twice or thrice prints ‘Logan’ for ‘Sprot,’
or ‘Sprot’ for ‘Logan.’ {222}  ‘Fastcastle,’ in Sprot’s confession, may
be a slip of tongue or pen for ‘Gunnisgreen,’ or he may have been
confused among the movements to and from Gunnisgreen and Fastcastle.  The
present writer finds similar errors in the manuscript of this work.

Sprot next alleged that, three months after the Gowrie affair, Logan bade
Bower hunt among his papers for this very letter.  He had been at
Berwick, with Lord Willoughby, and Bower told Sprot that he was ‘taking
order’ with all who knew of his part in the Gowrie plot.  Here is the old
difficulty.  Why was the letter kept for one moment after Bower brought
it back?  Why leave it with Bower for three months?  At all events, as
Bower could not read, Sprot helped him to look for the letter, found it,
and kept it ‘_till_ he framed three new letters upon it,’ after which he
does not say what he did with it.

Here Sprot cited, from memory, but not accurately, more of Letter IV.
The existence of such errors is not remarkable.  Sprot again swore to the
truth of all his depositions since July 5.  But if _this_ story is true,
how can it be true that Logan was at ease in his mind, after burning the
letter from Alexander Ruthven, and another from Father Andrew Clerk,
Jesuit, as Sprot previously swore?  There was still Letter IV, lost,
unburned, a haunting fear.  It may be suggested that Sprot only kept this
letter ‘_till_’ he had made his forgeries on its model, and then, in a
later search, pretended to find and returned it, having first copied it
out in Logan’s hand; that copy being our Letter IV.  Sprot first would
make a copy, in his ordinary hand, of the letter, then restore the
original, and, after Logan’s death, copy his copy, in imitation of
Logan’s hand, and frame I, III, V, and the torn letter on his copy of IV.
Finally, Sprot said that ‘_he believes_ this letter is in his chest among
his writings, because he left it there when he was taken by Watty Doig
and deposes that it is closed and folded within a piece of paper.’  Sprot
said this on August 10.  On August 12 he was hanged.  Now was this
letter, on which he forged three others, found ‘in his kist,’ before his
death?  That it was so found, we have direct evidence, though not from
the best of sources.

In the year 1713, an aged nobleman, Lord Cromarty, published a defence of
the King’s conduct in the Gowrie affair.  Lord Cromarty, in 1713, was
aged eighty-three.  Born about 1630, he remembered the beginnings of the
Civil War, and says that the Covenanters, about 1640–1645, made great
political capital out of King James’s alleged guilt in the slaughter of
the Ruthvens.  Later, Lord Cromarty occupied, in the Restoration, the
highest judicial offices, and, as Clerk Registrar, had access to public
documents.  He was an old courtier, he may have been forgetful, he may
have been unscrupulous, but, as to the letter in Sprot’s kist, he writes
‘the letter was found there by the Sheriff Depute, who was ordered by Sir
William Hart, Lord Justice of Scotland, to seize the said chest, and make
search for this letter, which he found, and delivered to the King’s
Advocate, Sir Thomas Hamilton.’ {224}

Now this Sir Thomas Hamilton was the ancestor of the Earl of Haddington,
who inherits many of his papers.  Among these we find a copy, in Sprot’s
‘course hand,’ or rapid current hand, of Letter IV, and another of Letter
I, but no such copies of II, III. and V.  Each of these is endorsed by
James Primrose, Clerk of Council, is endorsed by Sprot, in faded ink, and
is _also_ endorsed in Sprot’s ordinary everyday hand, very firm and
clear, thus:

‘This is copyitt off the principal’ (the original), ‘lykeas the note
writtin upon the bak is writtin by me, George Sprott.’

There is, in fact, another ‘note on the back,’ in ink more faded, on a
dirty rubbed part of the paper.

Now certainly the last endorsation was written by Sprot either on August
11 or August 12, 1600.  He had not the original or this copy by him on
August 10, or on August 11 when examined, for on August 10 he could only
give a version of Letter IV from memory, and erroneously, the version
cited in his indictment.  On August 11 he still had not the original or
his copy, for he quoted from memory, what he believed to be a
_postscript_ to the original Letter IV, a passage which is really in the
_text_ of Letter IV.  He could not have made this error if, at that hour
of August 11, he had either the original of Letter IV, or his exact copy
before him, nor would there have been any reason why he should quote from
memory, if Government had the documents.  Yet he re-endorsed his copies
of Letters I and IV before his death.  This endorsement is firm and
clear, the text of the two copies is fainter and much of the paper more
rubbed, as if from being kept in the pocket.  The copies are older than
the final endorsement on the copies.  It follows that the Sheriff Depute
found these two copies (I, IV) and the originals, in Sprot’s kist, and
brought them to Sprot’s examiners after that hour of August 11, when he
could only quote from memory.  He then endorsed them formally, one of the
last acts of his life.

The originals were also found, for it will not be argued that Government
employed another forger to forge them from Sprot’s copies in ‘course
hand.’  We know that Sprot had a secondary species of blackmailing
documents, these in current hand; one of them he gave to the Goodman of
Rentoun.  For this, or some other purpose, he had made the ‘course hand’
copies of Letters I and IV, which he endorsed just before his death, or
perhaps he made them from the original, which he then destroyed or
surreptitiously returned.  When he was examined on August 11, the three
preachers, Galloway, Hall, and Hewatt, and the minister of Duddingston,
Mr. Lumisden, were present.  He was entreated not to perjure himself to
the injury of innocent people, dead or alive, ‘by making and forging of
lies.’  He renewed his protestations of truth, asked Mr. Galloway to pray
for him, wept, and repeated his averments.

On August 12 Sprot was tried and hanged at Edinburgh.  He renewed his
protestations from every corner of the scaffold, in the most vigorous
language.  Abbot, who was present, declares that he thrice gave a loud
clap with his hands while he swung, as a proof that he adhered in death
to his last words.  A similar story is told of Kirkcaldy of Grange, and I
think in other cases.  Nothing of the sort is in the first draft of the
official account of his dying behaviour (a draft manifestly drawn up near
the spot), nor in the official account itself.

Much value was set on dying confessions.  When the preacher, Robert
Bruce, refused to believe the King’s account of the Gowrie tragedy, he
said that one proof would satisfy him.  Let Andrew Henderson, the man in
the turret, be hanged.  If he persisted in his confession on the
scaffold, Mr. Bruce would believe.  The King declined to make this
abominable experiment.  In Sprot’s case his dying confession did not move
the Kirk party.  Calderwood hints that Mr. Galloway ‘had the most speech
to Sprot on the scaffold,’ and so kept him true to a dying lie. {227a}
He adds that Spottiswoode said to Galloway ‘I am afraid this man make us
all ashamed,’ that is, by retracting his confessions.  Mr. Patrick
answered, ‘Let alone, my Lord, I shall warrant him.’ {227b}  Had Andrew
Henderson swung, constant to his confession, the Presbyterian sceptics
would have found similar reasons for disbelief.

What are _we_ to believe?  Did Sprot go wherever he went with a
blasphemous lie in his mouth?  A motive for such vehemence of religious
hypocrisy is difficult to find.  Conceivably he had promise of benefits
to his family.  Conceivably he was an atheist, and ‘took God in his own
hand.’  Conceivably his artistic temperament induced him to act his lie
well, as he had a lie to act.

Yet all this is not satisfactory.

Let us take the unromantic view of common sense.  It is this: Logan was a
restless, disappointed intriguer and debauchee.  He sold his lands, some
to acquire a partnership with Lord Willoughby in a vessel trading to
America; this vessel, or another, is among his assets recorded in his
inventory.  All his lands he sold—not that he was in debt, he was a large
lender—for purposes of profligacy.  These proceedings gave rise to
gossip.  The Laird must be selling his lands to evade forfeiture.  He
_must_ have been engaged in the Gowrie mystery.  Then Logan dies (July
1606).  Bower is also dead (January 1606).  It occurs to Sprot that there
is money in all this, and, having lost Logan’s business, the hungry Sprot
needs money.  He therefore makes a pact with some of Logan’s debtors.
He, for pay, will clear them of their debts to Logan’s executors, whom he
will enable them to blackmail.  Logan’s descendants by two marriages were
finally his heirs, with Anna, a minor, daughter of his last wife, who had
hoped to have no children by him, the free-spoken Lady Restalrig, _née_
Ker (Marion).  They, of course, were robbed, by Logan’s forfeiture, of
33,000 marks, owed to Logan by Dunbar and Balmerino.  Meanwhile, just
after Logan’s death, in autumn 1606, Sprot forges Letters I, II, III, IV,
V, and the torn letter, with two compromising letters to Bower, two to
Ninian Chirnside, and an ‘eik,’ or addition, of compromising items to a
memorandum on business, which, in September 1605, Logan gave to Bower and
John Bell before he started for London and Paris.  All these documents,
the plot-letters, I, II, III, IV, V, and the rest (which lie before me),
are mere instruments of blackmail, intended to terrorise the guardians of
the Logans.

So far, all is clear.  But, in April 1608, Sprot has blabbed and is
arrested.  The forgeries are found among his papers, or given up by
Chirnside.  Sprot confesses to the plot, to Logan’s share of it, and to
the authenticity of the letters and papers.  He is then tortured, recants
his confession, and avows the forgery of the papers.  The Government is
disappointed.  In July, Dunbar comes down from town, treats Sprot
leniently, and gives him medical attendance.  Sprot now confesses to his
genuine knowledge of the plot, but unflinchingly maintains that all the
papers so far produced are forgeries, based on facts.

Why does he do this?  He has a better chance of pardon, if he returns to
the statement that they are genuine.  If they are, the Government, which
he must propitiate, has a far stronger hand, for the forgeries then
defied detection.  However, for no conceivable reason, unless it be
either conscience or the vanity of the artist, Sprot now insists on
claiming the letters as his own handiwork.  On this point he was
inaccessible to temptation, if temptation was offered.  If he lies as to
Letter II having been dictated by Logan, he lies by way of relapse into
the habit of a lifetime, and so on other points.  He keeps back all
mention of Letter IV, till the last ember of hope of life is extinct.

It has not been hitherto known, either that Sprot kept back Letter IV
till almost his dying day, or that he then, at last, revealed it.  Lord
Cromarty’s averment that it was found in Sprot’s kist was disbelieved.
It is true, however, and now we ask, why did Sprot keep back Letter IV to
the last, and why, having so long concealed it, did he say where it was,
after all hope of life was over?

The answer can only be conjectural.  Some might guess thus: till Letter
IV was confessed to and found, Government had not received from Sprot one
scrap of documentary evidence that could be used against Logan’s heirs.
Scoundrel as he was, Sprot could not guess that the Privy Council would
use papers which were confessed forgeries to save Dunbar and Balmerino
from paying some 33,000 marks to Logan’s executors.  The wretched Sprot
had robbed the orphans on a small scale, but he would not, by producing
the genuine Logan letter, enable the Lords to ruin them utterly.  Bad as
he was, the Laird had been kind to Sprot.  Therefore he kept back, and by
many a lie concealed, his real pieces of evidence, Letter IV, and I, if I
is genuine.  So far he acted on a remnant of natural conscience.

But Sprot, alas, had a religious conscience.  He had a soul to be saved.
The preachers had prayed with him.  When death was but forty-eight hours
distant, he feared to die with a lie in his mouth.  So _now_, at last, he
spoke of Letter IV as his real model.  Perhaps he hoped that it would not
be found, and probably it was in some secret drawer or false bottom of
his kist.  It was found, and was used, along with the confessed forgeries
(which even Sprot could not have anticipated), to destroy the inheritance
of the children, at Logan’s posthumous trial in 1609.

But the obvious reply to this hypothesis is, that Letter IV, by the
evidence of modern experts (evidence unanimous and irresistible), is just
as much forged as all the rest, is just as certainly in Sprot’s imitation
of Logan’s handwriting.  This being so, why did Sprot keep it back so
long, and why, having kept it back, did he, almost in his last hour,
produce it, and say (if he did) that it was genuine, and his model, as it
certainly was?  This is the last enigma of Sprot.  His motives defy my
poor efforts to decipher them.  Even if the substance of IV is genuine,
what were Sprot’s motives?  I do not feel assured that Sprot really
maintained the genuineness of the _handwriting_ of Letter IV.  His remark
that he kept Logan’s letter only _till_ he forged others on it, as a
model, certainly implies that he did not keep it _after_ he had done his
forgeries, and therefore that our Letter IV is, confessedly, _not_
Logan’s original.  Certainly it is not.


The crucial question now arises, _What is Letter IV_?  If it be genuine
(in substance), then, whatever the details of the Gowrie Conspiracy may
have been, a conspiracy there was.  This can only be denied by ignorance.
If the enterprise fails, says the author of Letter IV, the plotters will
lose their lives, their lands and houses will be ‘wrecked,’ their very
names will be extirpated; and, in fact, James did threaten to extirpate
the name of Ruthven.  The letter deliberately means High Treason.  The
objection of Calderwood, and of all the Ruthven apologists, that Sprot
confessed to having forged _all_ the letters, we have shown to rest on
lack of information.  He said, at last, that he had forged many papers
(some did not appear in Court in 1609), and that he forged _three_
letters on the model of Letter IV.  These three letters may either be I,
III, and V; or III, V, and the torn letter.  The case of Letter I is
peculiar.  Though it contains much that is in Letter IV, and might have
been taken from it, the repetitions need not imply copying from Letter
IV.  Byron and others would say the same things, on the same day, to two
or three correspondents.  Letter IV is subsequent, as dated, to Letter I,
and Logan might say to the Unknown, on July 18, what, after the announced
interval of ten days, he said to Gowrie.  Letter I contains this remark
on the nature of the plot: ‘It is not far by’ (not unlike) ‘that form,
with the like stratagem, whereof we had conference in Cap. h,’ which may
be Capheaton, on the English side of the Border.  Probably Logan often
discussed ingenious ways of catching the King: new plots were hatched
about once a month, as Cecil’s and the other correspondence of the age
abundantly proves.  The plot (the letter says) is like that in a Paduan
story of a nobleman.  The rest of the letter is identical with the matter
of III, IV, and V.  We cannot be sure whether Letter I is one of the
three forged on IV or not.

One thing is certain, Letters III and V, to the Unknown, _are_ modelled
on IV, as is the torn letter.  Sprot said this was the case, and every
reader of III, V, and the torn letter (given above) must see that he
tells the truth.  These letters contain no invention at all, they merely
repeat Letter IV.  Any man who could invent IV had genius enough to alter
his tunes in III, V. and the torn letter.  But Sprot never deserts his
model.  This is an argument for the authenticity in substance of Letter
IV.  The other three contain nothing that is not in Letter IV, and
everything that is in it, except what is personal to Gowrie, and would be
inappropriate if addressed to the Unknown (I, III, V), or to Chirnside
(torn letter).

There is (1) the mention of a Paduan adventure, the basis of the plot, a
thing that Sprot is very unlikely to have invented.  With all my
admiration for Sprot, I do think that the Paduan touch is beyond him.
This occurs in Letter IV, ‘the good sport that M.A., your lordship’s
brother, told me of a nobleman in Padua.  It is a parasteur’ (? _à
propos_) ‘to this purpose we have in hand.’  This appears in Letter I,
‘reckless toys of Padua,’ and in Letter V, ‘bid M. A. remember on the
sport he told me of Padua.’

2.  The constant applause of Bower.  This is in Letter IV, and in I, III,
V, and the torn letter.

3.  Meeting with Alexander Ruthven.  This is in IV, and in I and V.

4.  The meeting at Fastcastle, which is to be quiet and well-provisioned.
This is in IV, and in I, III, V.

5.  Lord Home and Mr. Rhynd are to know nothing.  This is in IV, and in
I, and V, and the torn letter, utterly needless repetition.

6.  The King’s hunting, the opportunity for the plot.  This is in IV, and
in I, but that is natural.

7.  Directions as to returning the letters.  These are in IV, in I, III,
V, and the torn letter.

8.  Injunctions of secrecy.  These are in IV, and I, III, V, and in the
torn letter.

9.  Logan will be true, ‘although the scaffold were already set up.’
This is a phrase of Letter IV, and recurs in Letter III and in the torn

10.  Logan’s elevation of heart on receipt of Gowrie’s letter.  This
occurs in IV and in V.

Who can doubt that Letter IV is the source, followed servilely by the
forger, of the torn letter and I (?), III, V?  If Sprot could invent the
substance of IV, why was he so chary of invention in all the other

It is clear, moreover, that the Unknown himself is derived from a line in
Letter IV: ‘I have already sent another letter to the gentleman your
Lordship knows, as the bearer will inform you of his answer.’  The bearer
is always Bower, so the ‘gentleman’ is to be conceived as in Gowrie’s
neighbourhood, or on the route thither, as one bearer serves both for
Gowrie and the gentleman.  Therefore, before July 5, Sprot (who had no
idea as to who the gentleman was) identified the ‘gentleman,’ the Unknown
of I, III, V, with the laird of Kinfauns, near Perth, or with the
Constable of Dundee; but he withdrew these imputations, craving the
pardon of the accused.

Thus it stands to reason that I (?), III, V, and the torn letter are
forged on the model of IV.  Sprot introduces no novelties in I, III, V,
or the torn epistle.  He harps eternally on the strings of IV.  The only
variation is (V) the mention of ‘one other man with you,’ in the proposed
sail to Fastcastle.

It is not easy for criticism to evade the conclusion that I (?), III, V,
and the torn letter are, indeed, forgeries modelled on IV.  And what is

Is Letter IV in substance genuine?  If not, why did Sprot keep it back
till the rope was noosed for his neck?  A guess at his possible reasons
for so keeping it back (as the only real documentary evidence extant
against the orphans of Logan) we have given, but this fails if Letter IV
was a forgery: as in handwriting it was.

Then there are the contents of Letter IV.  To myself, and to Mr.
Anderson, it does not seem probable, it seems hardly credible, that Sprot
could have _invented_ the contents of Letter IV.  If he did, his power of
rendering character might have been envied by the author of the Waverley
Novels.  In IV Logan is painted, the ‘main loose man, but a good fellow,’
with a master hand.  The thing is freely, largely, and spontaneously
executed.  What especially moves me to think IV no invention, is the
reference to the Paduan incident or romance, ‘the good sport that Mr.
Alexander told me of the nobleman of Padua, it is _à propos_ to the
purpose we have in hand.’  This is casually inserted in the last words of
the postscript, not blazoned in the text, as in the forgeries confessedly
modelled on this letter.  The whole tone of the letter is in keeping with
the alleged author’s temperament.  It is respectful, but far from
servile.  Gowrie is a great Earl, but Logan is of an old and good name.
There is the genial sensualism of the man, with his promise of wine and
‘a fine hattit kit’ (a kind of syllabub).  There is the joyous forward
glance at an anniversary dinner, with Bothwell, to which the King’s
hunting of _this_ year shall furnish the dainty cheer; ‘_hoc jocose_!’
At this dinner Bothwell and Gowrie, old allies, are to meet at Logan’s
board, which may suggest that Bothwell and Gowrie are still working

The contempt for Lord Home as a conspirator—‘in good faith he will never
help his friend or harm his foe’—and the praises of Bower, are
characteristic, and, here, are in place; elsewhere they are idle
repetitions, mere copies.  The apology for bad writing—Logan could not
employ a secretary in this case—is natural: the two days writing agrees
with Sprot’s evidence. (p. 221.)

Could Sprot have invented all this: and, in his confessed forgeries,
failed to invent anything?  Would not the fertility of his genius have
hurried him into fresh developments, and characteristic details,
appropriate to the imaginary correspondent whom he addresses?  These
considerations may seem a mere leaning on ‘internal evidence,’ and
‘literary instinct,’ broken reeds.  But the case is buttressed by the
long and, on any theory, purposeless retention of Letter IV, the secrecy
concerning it, and the confession, so obviously true, that Letter IV is
the source and model of the forgeries.  These facts have hitherto been
unknown to writers who believed the whole correspondence to be a forgery
done for the Government.

Both Mr. Anderson (who has greatly aided me by his acuteness and learned
experience of old MSS.) and myself disbelieve that Logan’s hand wrote
Letter IV.  The matter, the contents of Letter IV, may be Logan’s, but
the existing document may be ‘a Sprot after Logan.’  Sprot may have
reinserted the genuine Logan IV among Bower’s collection of papers,
pretended to find it, and returned it to Logan, after copying it _in
Logan’s hand_.  Or he may have copied it in his ‘course hand’ (the copy
in the Haddington MSS.), and later, in autumn 1606, after Logan’s death,
have rewritten his copy in an imitation of Logan’s hand.  The contents,
Mr. Anderson believes, as I do, are, none the less, genuine Logan.

If readers accept these conclusions, there was a Gowrie conspiracy, and
Logan was in it.  ‘I trow your Lordship has a proof of my constancy
already ere now,’ he says in Letter IV, and Gowrie may have had a proof,
in his early conspiracies of 1593–1594, or in a testimonial to Logan from
Bothwell, Gowrie’s old ally.

But, if readers do not accept our conclusions, they may still rest,
perhaps, on the arguments adduced in the earlier chapters of this essay,
to demonstrate that neither accident nor the machinations of the King,
but an enterprise of their own, caused the Slaughter of the Ruthvens.
The infamous conduct of the Privy Council in 1608–1609 does not prove
that, in 1600, the King carried out a conspiracy in itself impossible.

I have found nothing tending to show that King James was ever made aware
of Sprot’s confessions of forgery.  It is true that Sir William Hart, the
Lord Justice, went to Court after Sprot’s death, and, in September, the
Scottish Privy Council asked James to send him home again. {239}  But
Hart need not have told all the truth to James.

There is a kind of rejoicing _naïveté_ in all of James’s references to
the Gowrie affair, which seems to me hardly consistent with his disbelief
in his own prowess on that occasion.  If one may conjecture, one would
guess that the Privy Council and the four preachers managed to persuade
themselves, Sprot being the liar whom we know, that he lied when he
called his Logan papers forgeries.  The real facts may have been
concealed from the King.  Mr. Gunton, the Librarian at Hatfield, informs
me that, had he not seen Letter IV (which he is sure was _written_ by
Sprot), he does not think he should have suspected the genuineness of
Letters II and III, after comparing them with the undoubted letters of
Logan in the Cecil manuscripts.  The Government and the four preachers,
with such documents in their hands, documents still apt to delude, may
easily have brought themselves to disbelieve Sprot’s assertion that they
were all forgeries.  Let us hope that they did!


The affair of Sprot has an obvious bearing on that other mystery, the
authenticity of the Casket Letters attributed to Queen Mary.  As we know,
she, though accused, was never allowed to see the letters alleged to be
hers.  We know that, in December 1568, these documents were laid before
an assembly of English nobles at Hampton Court.  They were compared, for
orthography and handwriting, with genuine letters written by the Queen to
Elizabeth, and Cecil tells us that ‘no difference was found.’  It was a
rapid examination, by many persons, on a brief winter day, partly
occupied by other business.  If experts existed, we are not informed that
they were present.  The Casket Letters have disappeared since the death
of the elder Gowrie, in 1584.  From him, Elizabeth had vainly sought to
purchase them.  They were indispensable, said Bowes, her ambassador, to
‘the secrecy of the cause.’  Gowrie would not be tempted, and it is not
improbable that he carried so valuable a treasure with him, when, in
April 1584, he retired to Dundee, to escape by sea if the Angus
conspiracy failed.

At Dundee he was captured, after defending the house in which he was
residing.  That house was pulled down recently; nothing was discovered.
But fable runs that, at the destruction of another ancient house in
Dundee, ‘Lady Wark’s Stairs,’ _a packet of old letters in French_ was
found in a hiding hole contrived within a chimney.  The letters were not
examined by any competent person, and nobody knows what became of them.
Romance relates that they were the Casket Letters, entrusted by Gowrie to
a friend.  It is equally probable that he yielded them to the King, when
he procured his remission for the Raid of Ruthven.  In any case, they are

Consequently we cannot compare the Casket Letters with genuine letters by
Mary.  On the other hand, as I chanced to notice that genuine letters of
Logan’s exist at Hatfield, I was enabled, by the kindness of the Marquis
of Salisbury, and of Sir Stair Agnew, to have both the Hatfield Logan
letters, and the alleged Logan letters produced in 1609, photographed and
compared, at Hatfield and at the General Register House in Edinburgh.  By
good fortune, the Earl of Haddington also possesses (what we could not
expect to find in the case of the Casket Letters) documents in the
ordinary handwriting of George Sprot, the confessed forger of the
plot-letters attributed to Logan.  The result of comparison has been to
convince Mr. Gunton at Hatfield, Mr. Anderson in Edinburgh, Professor
Hume Brown, and other gentlemen of experience, that Sprot forged all the
plot-letters.  Their reasons for holding this opinion entirely satisfy
me, and have been drawn up by Mr. Anderson, in a convincing report.  To
put the matter briefly, the forged letters present the marked
peculiarities of Logan’s orthography, noted by the witnesses in 1609.
But they also contain many peculiarities of spelling which are not
Logan’s, but are Sprot’s.  The very dotting of the ‘i’s’ is Sprot’s, not
Logan’s.  The long ‘s’ of Logan is heavily and clumsily imitated.  There
is a distinct set of peculiarities never found in Logan’s undisputed
letters: in Sprot’s own letters always found.  The hand is more rapid and
flowing than that of Logan.  Not being myself familiar with the Scottish
handwriting of the period, my own opinion is of no weight, but I conceive
that the general effect of Logan’s hand, in 1586, is not precisely like
that of the plot-letters.

My point, however, is that, in 1609, Sprot’s forgeries were clever enough
to baffle witnesses of unblemished honour, very familiar with the genuine
handwriting of Logan.  The Rev. Alexander Watson, minister of the Kirk of
Coldinghame (where Logan was wont to attend), alleged that ‘_the
character of every letter_ resembles perfectly Robert’s handwrit, _every
way_.’  The spelling, which was peculiar, was also Logan’s as a rule.
Mr. Watson produced three genuine letters by Logan, before the Lords of
the Articles (who were very sceptical), and satisfied them that the
plot-letters were the laird’s.  Mr. Alexander Smith, minister of
Chirnside, was tutor to Logan’s younger children; he gave identical
evidence.  Sir John Arnott, Provost of Edinburgh, a man of distinction
and eminence, produced four genuine letters by the Laird, ‘agreeing
perfectly in spelling and character with the plot-letters.  The sheriff
clerk of Berwick, William Home, in Aytoun Mill (a guest, I think, at
Logan’s ‘great Yules’), and John Home, notary in Eyemouth, coincided.
The minister of Aytoun, Mr. William Hogg, produced a letter of Logan to
the Laird of Aytoun, but was not absolutely so certain as the other
witnesses.  ‘He thinks them’ (the plot-letters) ‘like [to be] his
writing, and that the same appear to be very like his write, by the
conformity of letters and spelling.’ {243a}

Thus, at the examination of Logan’s real and forged letters, as at the
examination of Queen Mary’s real and Casket letters, in spelling and
handwriting ‘no difference was found.’  Yet the plot-letters were all
forged, and Mr. Anderson shows that, though ‘no difference was _found_,’
many differences existed.  Logan had a better chance of acquittal than
Mary.  The Lords of the Articles, writes Sir Thomas Hamilton to the King
(June 21, 1609), ‘had preconceived hard opinions of Restalrig’s process.’
{243b}  Yet they were convinced by the evidence of the witnesses, and by
their own eyes.

From the error of the Lords of the Articles, in 1609, it obviously
follows that the English Lords, at Hampton Court, in 1568, may have been
unable to detect proofs of forgery in the Casket Letters, which, if the
Casket Letters could now be compared with those of Mary, would be at once
discovered by modern experts.  In short, the evidence as to Mary’s
handwriting, even if as unanimously accepted, by the English Lords, as
Cecil declares, is not worth a ‘hardhead,’ a debased copper Scottish
coin.  It is worth no more than the opinion of the Lords of the Articles
in the case of the letters attributed to Restalrig.



_Gowrie’s Arms and Ambitions_

The frontispiece of this volume is copied from the design of the Earl of
Gowrie’s arms, in what is called ‘Workman’s MS.,’ at the Lyon’s office in
Edinburgh.  The shield displays, within the royal treasure, the arms of
Ruthven in the first and fourth, those of Cameron and Halyburton in the
second and third quarters.  The supporters are, dexter, a Goat; sinister,
a Ram; the crest is a Ram’s head.  The motto is not given; it was DEID
SCHAW.  The shield is blotted by transverse strokes of the pen, the whole
rude design having been made for the purpose of being thus scored out,
after Gowrie’s death, posthumous trial and forfeiture, in 1600.

On the left of the sinister supporter is an armed man, in the Gowrie
livery.  His left hand grasps his sword-hilt, his right is raised to an
imperial crown, hanging above him in the air; from his lips issue the
words, TIBI SOLI, ‘for thee alone.’  Sir James Balfour Paul, Lyon,
informs me that he knows no other case of such additional supporter, or
whatever the figure ought to be called.

This figure does not occur on any known Ruthven seal.  It is not on that
of the first Earl of Gowrie, affixed to a deed of February 1583–1584.  It
is not on a seal used in 1597, by John, third Earl, given in Henry
Laing’s ‘Catalogue of Scottish Seals’ (vol. i. under ‘Ruthven’).  But, in
Crawford’s ‘Peerage of Scotland’ (1716), p. 166, the writer gives the
arms of the third Earl (John, the victim of August 5, 1600).  In place of
the traditional Scottish motto _Deid Schaw_, is the Latin translation,
_Facta Probant_.  The writer says (Note C), ‘This from an authentic copy
of his arms, _richly illuminated in the year_ 1597, with his name and
titles, _viz._ “Joannes Ruthven, Comes de Gowry, Dominus de Ruthven,”
&c., in my hands.’

In 1597, as the archives of the Faculty of Law, in the University of
Padua, show, Gowrie was a student of Padua.  It is also probable that, in
1597, he attained his majority.  He certainly had his arms richly
illuminated, and he added to his ancestral bearings what Crawfurd
describes thus: ‘On the dexter a chivaleer, garnish’d with the Earl’s
coat of arms, _pointing with a sword upward to an imperial crown_, with
this device, TIBI SOLI.’

In Workman’s MS., the figure points to the crown with the open right
hand, and the left hand is on the sword-hilt.  The illuminated copy of
1597, once in the possession of Crawfurd, must be the more authentic; the
figure _here_ points the sword at a crown, which is _Tibi Soli_, ‘For
thee’ (Gowrie?) ‘alone.’

Now on no known Ruthven seal, as we saw, does this figure appear, not
even on a seal of Gowrie himself, used in 1597.  Thus it is perhaps not
too daring to suppose that Gowrie, when in Italy in 1597, added this
emblematic figure to his ancestral bearings.  What does the figure

On this point we have a very curious piece of evidence.  On June 22,
1609, Ottavio Baldi wrote, from Venice, to James, now King of England.
His letter was forwarded by Sir Henry Wotton.  Baldi says that he has
received from Sir Robert Douglas, and is sending to the King by his
nephew—a Cambridge student—‘a strange relique out of this country.’  He
obtained it thus: Sir Robert Douglas, while at home in Scotland, had
‘heard speech’ of ‘a certain emblem or impresa,’ left by Gowrie in Padua.
Meeting a Scot in Padua, Douglas asked where this emblem now was, and he
was directed to the school of a teacher of dancing.  There the emblem
hung, ‘among other devices and remembrances of his scholars.’  Douglas
had a copy of the emblem made; and immediately ‘acquainted me with the
quality of the thing,’ says Baldi.  ‘We agreed together, that it should
be fit, if possible, to obtain the very original itself, and to leave in
the room thereof the copy that he had already taken, which he did effect
by well handling the matter.

‘Thus hath your Majesty now a view, _in umbra_, of those detestable
thoughts which afterwards appeared _in facto_, according to the said
Earl’s own _mot_.  For what other sense or allusion can the reaching at a
crown with a sword in a stretched posture, and the impersonating of his
device in a blackamore, yield to any intelligent and honest beholder?’

From Baldi’s letter we learn that, in the device left by Gowrie at Padua,
the figure pointing a sword at the crown was a negro, thus varying from
the figure in Workman’s MS., and that in the illuminated copy emblazoned
in 1597, and possessed in 1716 by Crawfurd.  Next, we learn that Sir
Robert Douglas had heard talk of this emblem in Scotland, before he left
for Italy.  Lastly, a _mot_ on the subject by the Earl himself was
reported, to the effect that the device set forth ‘in a shadow,’ what was
intended to be executed ‘in very deed.’

Now how could Sir Robert Douglas, in Scotland, hear talk of what had been
done and said years ago by Gowrie in Padua?  Sir Robert Douglas was
descended from Archibald Douglas of Glenbervie (_ob._ 1570), who was
ancestor of the Catholic Earl of Angus (_flor._ 1596).  This Archibald of
Glenbervie had a son, Archibald, named in his father’s testament, but
otherwise unknown. {248}  Rather senior to Gowrie at the University of
Padua, and in the same faculty of law, was an Archibald Douglas.  He may
have been a kinsman of Sir Robert Douglas, himself of the Glenbervie
family, and from him Sir Robert, while still in Scotland, may have heard
of Gowrie’s device, left by him at Padua, and of his _mot_ about _in
umbra_ and _in facto_.  But, even if these two Douglases were not akin,
or did not meet, still Keith, Lindsay, and Ker of Newbattle, all
contemporaries of Gowrie at Padua, might bring home the report of
Gowrie’s enigmatic device, and of his _mot_ there-anent.  Had the emblem
been part of the regular arms of Ruthven, Sir Robert Douglas, and every
Scot of quality, would have known all about it, and seen no mystery in

It will scarcely be denied that the assumption by Gowrie of the figure in
his livery, pointing a sword at the crown, and exclaiming ‘For Thee
Only,’ does suggest that wildly ambitious notions were in the young man’s
mind.  What other sense can the emblem bear?  How can such ideas be

In an anonymous and dateless MS. cited in ‘The Life of John Earl of
Gowrie,’ by the Rev. John Scott of Perth (1818), it is alleged that
Elizabeth, in April 1600, granted to Gowrie, then in London, the guard
and honours appropriate to a Prince of Wales.  The same Mr. Scott
suggests a Royal pedigree for Gowrie.  His mother, wife of William, first
Earl, was Dorothea Stewart, described in a list of Scottish nobles (1592)
as ‘sister of umquhile Lord Methven.’  Now Henry Stewart, Lord Methven
(‘Lord Muffin,’ as Henry VIII used to call him), was the third husband of
the sister of Henry VIII, Margaret Tudor, wife, first of James IV, then
of the Earl of Angus (by whom she had Margaret, Countess of Lennox, and
grandmother of James VI), then of Lord Methven.  Now if Margaret Tudor
had issue by Henry Stewart, Lord Methven, and if that issue was Dorothea,
mother of John, third Earl of Gowrie, or was Dorothea’s father or mother,
that Earl was Elizabeth’s cousin.  Now Burnet, touching on the Gowrie
mystery, says that his own father had ‘taken great pains to inquire into
that matter, and did always believe it was a real conspiracy. . . .  Upon
the King’s death, Gowrie stood next to the succession of the crown of
England,’ namely, as descended from Margaret Tudor by Henry (Burnet says
‘Francis’!), Lord Methven.  Margaret and Methven, says Burnet, had a son,
‘made Lord Methven by James V.  In the patent he is called _frater noster
uterinus_’—‘Our brother uterine.’  ‘_He_ had only a daughter, who was
mother or grandmother to the Earl of Gowrie, so that by this he might be
glad to put the King out of the way, that so he might stand next to the
succession of the crown of England.’ {249}  If this were true, the
meaning of Gowrie’s device would be flagrantly conspicuous.  But where is
that patent of James V?  Burnet conceivably speaks of it on the
information of his father, who ‘took great pains to inquire into the
particulars of that matter,’ so that he could tell his son, ‘one thing
which none of the historians have taken any notice of,’ namely, our
Gowrie’s Tudor descent, and his claims (failing James _and his issue_) to
the crown of England.  Now Burnet’s father was almost a contemporary of
the Gowrie affair.  Of the preachers of that period, the King’s enemies,
Burnet’s father knew Mr. Davidson (_ob._ 1603) and Mr. Robert Bruce, and
had listened to their prophecies.  ‘He told me,’ says Burnet, ‘of many of
their predictions that he himself heard them throw out, which had no
effect.’  Davidson was an old man in 1600; Bruce, for his disbelief in
James’s account of the conspiracy, was suspended in that year, though he
lived till 1631, and, doubtless, prophesied in select circles.  Mr. Bruce
long lay concealed in the house of Burnet’s great-grandmother, daughter
of Sir John Arnot, a witness in the trial of Logan of Restalrig.  Thus
Burnet’s father had every means of knowing the belief of the
contemporaries of Gowrie, and he may conceivably be Burnet’s source for
the tale of Gowrie’s Tudor descent and Royal claims.  They were almost or
rather quite baseless, but they were current.

In fact, Dorothea Stewart, mother of Gowrie, was certainly a daughter of
Henry Stewart, Lord Methven, and of Janet Stewart, of the House of
Atholl.  We find no trace of issue born to Margaret Tudor by her third
husband, Lord Methven.  Yet Gowrie’s emblem, adopted by him at Padua in
1597, and his device left in the Paduan dancing school, do distinctly
point to some wild idea of his that some crown or other was ‘for him
alone.’  At the trial of Gowrie’s father, in 1584, we find mention of his
‘challenginge that honor to be of his Hignes blud,’ but _that_ must refer
to the relationship of the Ruthvens and the King through the Angus branch
of the Douglases. {250a}

This question as to the meaning of Gowrie’s emblem came rather early into
the controversy.  William Sanderson, in 1656, published Lives of Mary and
of James VI; he says: ‘I have a manuscript which relates that, in Padua,
the Earl of Gowrie, among other impressa (_sic_) in a fencing school,
caused to be painted, for his devise, a hand and sword aiming at a
crown.’ {250b}  Mr. Scott, in 1818, replied that the device, with the
Ruthven arms, ‘is engraven on a stone taken from Gowrie House in Perth,
and preserved in the house of Freeland’ (a Ruthven house).  ‘There is
also, I have been told, a seal with the same engraving upon it, which
probably had been used by the Earls of Gowrie and by their predecessors,
the Lords of Ruthven.’ {251a}  But we know of no such seal among Gowrie
or Ruthven seals, nor do we know the date of the engraving on stone cited
by Mr. Scott.  In his opinion the armed man and crown might be an
addition granted by James III to William, first Lord Ruthven, in 1487–88.
Ruthven took the part of the unhappy King, who was mysteriously slain
near Bannockburn.  Mr. Scott then guesses that this addition of 1488
implied that the armed man pointed his sword at the crown, and exclaimed
_Tibi Soli_, meaning ‘For Thee, O James III alone, _not_ for thy
rebellious son,’ James IV.  It may be so, but we have no evidence for the
use of the emblem before 1597.  Moreover, in Gowrie’s arms, in Workman’s
MS., the sword is sheathed.  Again, the emblem at Padua showed a
‘black-a-more,’ or negro, and Sir Robert Douglas could not but have
recognised that the device was only part of the ancestral Ruthven arms,
if that was the case.  The ‘black-a-more’ was horrifying to Ottavio
Baldi, as implying a dark intention.

Here we leave the additional and certainly curious mystery of Gowrie’s
claims, as ‘shadowed’ in his chosen emblem.  I know not if it be germane
to the matter to add that after Bothwell, in 1593, had seized James, by
the aid of our Gowrie’s mother and sister, he uttered a singular hint to
Toby Matthew, Dean of Durham.  He intruded himself on the horrified Dean,
hot from his successful raid, described with much humour the kidnapping
of the untrussed monarch, and let it be understood that he was under the
protection of Elizabeth, _that there was a secret candidate for James’s
crown_, and that he expected to be himself Lieutenant of the realm of
Scotland.  Bothwell was closely _lié_ with Lady Gowrie (Dorothea
Stewart), and our Gowrie presently joined him in a ‘band’ to serve
Elizabeth and subdue James. {251b}


(State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi.  No. 52)

The verie maner of the Erll of Gowrie and his brother their death, quha
war killit at Perth the fyft of August by the kingis servanttis his Matie
being present.

Vpone thurisday the last of July . . . . Perth from Strebrane . . . .
bene ahunting accompainit wth . . . . purpose to have ridden to . . . .
mother.  Bot he had no sooner . . . . aspersauit fyn . . . . vpone such .
. . . addressit thame selffis . . . thay continewit daylie . . . Amangis
the rest Doctor Herries . . . Satirday the first of August feinying
himself to . . . of purpose to . . . and my lordis house.  This man be my
Lord was w . . . and convoyit throche . . the house and the secreit
pairts schawin him.

Vpon tysday my [lordis?] servanttis vnderstanding that my [lord?] was to
ryde to Lot [Lothian] . . . obteinit licence to go . . . thair effairis
and to prepare thameselfis.  Whylk my lord wold [not] have grantit to
thame if they . . . any treason in . . .

The same day Mr. Alexander being send for be the king . . . tymes befoir,
raid to facland accompaneit wth Andro Ruthven and Andro Hendirson, of
mynd not to have returnit . . . bot to have met his brother my lord the
next morning at the watter syde.  And Andro Hendirsonis confessioun
testifeit this . . . tuke his ludgeing in facland for this nygt.

At his cuming to facland he learnit that his Matie was a huntting, quhair
eftir brekfast he addrest him self.  And eftir conference wt his Matie,
he directit Andro Hendirsone to ryd befoir, and schaw my lord [that] the
king wald come to Perth [for?] quhat occasion he knew not, and desyrit
him to haist becaus he knew my lord vnforsene and vnprovydit for his

The kingis Matie eftir this resolution raid to Perth accompaneit wth
thrie score horse quhair (?) threttie come a lytle before him . . .
remainit . . .

My lord being at dennar Andro Hendirsone cwmes and sayis to his Lordship
that the kingis Matie was cummand.  My lord . . . quhat his Matie . . .
his hienes was.  The vther ansuris . . . Then my Lord caused discover the
tabel and directit his Officeris [incontinent?] to go to the towne to
seik prouision for his Mateis dennare.  His Lordship’s self accompaneit
wt fower men (?) . . . twa onlie war his awin servanttis went to the
south . . . of Perth to meit his Matie quhair in presence of all the
company his Matie kyssit my lord at meitting.

When his Matie enterit in my lordis house his Maties awin porteris
resavit the keyis of the gaitt . . . ylk thay keipit quh . . . murther
was endit.

His Mateis self commandit to haist the dennare wt all expedition becaus
he was hungrie eftir huntting quhilk . . . the schort warning and
suddentlie dispaschit.  His Mateis sendis Mr. Alexander to call Sir
Thomas Erskyne and Jon Ramsay to folow him to the challmer, quhair his
Matie, Sir Thomas Erskyne, Jon Ramsay, Doctor Hereis, and Mr. Wilsone
being convenit slew [Mr. Alexr] and threw him down the stair, how and for
quhat cause . . . thame selfis, and no doubt wald reveill if thay war was
als straytlie toyit in the . . . men . . . kingis servanttis cummes to
the . . . at dennare in the hall the . . . saying my lordis will ye . . .
calling for horse . . . at his Maties . . . suddaine departure . . . and
callit for his horse and stayit not . . . past out to the streit qr
abyding his horse he hearis His Matie call on him out at the chalmer
window my Lord of Gowrie traittoris hes murtherit yor brother alreddie
and . . . ye suffir me to be murtherit also.  My Lord hering yis makis to
the yait (?) quhair himself was . . . in and Mr. Thomas Cranstoun that
thrust in before him, the rest was excludit by violence of the kingis
servanttis and cumpany quha . . . the hous and yett.  My lord being in at
the yett and entering in the turnpyck to pass vp to his Matie he fand his
brother thrawin down ye stairs dead.  And when he came to the chalmer
dure Mr. Thomas Cranstoun being before him was stricken throw the body
twyse and drawin bak be my lord, quha enterit in the chalmer calling if
the king was alyve, bot the . . . , quhylk was in the chalmer . . . him
wt stroke of sworde, bot being unable to ovircum him, and some of thame
woundit, they promisit him to lat him see the king alyve according to his
desyre, and in the meantyme he croceing his two swordis was be Jon Ramsay
strok throw ye body, and falling wt the stroke recommendit his saule to
God, protesting before his heavinlie Matie that he deit his trew subiect
and the kingis.  And this far is certanely knawin & collectit pairtly be
the trew affirmacione of sum quha war present of the kingis awin folkis
and last of all be the deposicionnis of Mr. Thomas Cranstoun, George
Craigingelt, and J. (?) Barroun, quha eftir grevous & intolerable
torturis tuke it vponn thair saluaciun & damnatioun that they never knew
the Earle of Gowrie to carie any evill mynd to the kyng lat be to intend
treasoun against him, bot rather wald die wt that that the Earle of
Gowrie his brother and thay thame selfis deit innocent: . . . Hendersone
if he be put to the lyke tryall . . . bot he will confess that he was
servind the Lordis al . . . in the hall quhen the Mr was murtherit and
quhen the kingis [servant?] broght the newis that his Matie was away &
fra that I hear . . . that he was sene till the king causit him to come
vponn promeis that his lyfe and landis suld be saif, for quhat cause the
effect will . . . As for the buke of Necromancie whiche was alledgit to
have bene deprehendit on my lord it (?) was proposeit to the earles
pedagog Mr. Wr Rind (?), quha schawis that he knew my lord to have ane
memoriall buik quhairin he wreat all the notable thingis he learned in
his absence, ather be sicht or hearing, bot as for any buik of
Necromancie nor his medling wt necromanceis he never knew thereof.

It may be my gude Lord governor that the maner of the earle of Gowrie and
his brotheris death befoir writtin be so far frome yor honoure in mynd
that yt (?) may move farther doubtes to aryse theryn.  The cause hereof I
vnderstand is pairtlie the difference of the last report frome the
reporttis preceidding in that it determines na thing concerning the cause
of his Maties sending for the Mr of Gowrie nor concerning. . . . speiches
and . . . and in the chalmer. . . . pairtlie becaus . . . prevaile . . .
or speik against his Matie albeit thay kowe . . . some thair be that
corse . . . apat (?) to his Maties sayingis that thay will swear thame
all albeit thair consciences persuade thame of [the] contrair.  Sua it is
hard for yor Lordship to be resoluit be reporttis.  Bot if it will pleas
yor Lordship to be acquent wt the causis and incidentis preceidding this
dolorous effect, I hoip yor Lordship wilbe the mair easilie persuadit of
the treuth.  And first of all the evill mynd careit be my lord. . . .
Colonel (?) Stewart and his privie complaint & informacioune to his Matie
thair anent.

Secondlie the opposition laid (?) be my lord himself in the Conventioun
and be the barronnis, as is thocht be his instigacioun, against (?) his

Thirdlie the great haitrent and envy of the courtieris in particularis,
quha had persavit him to be ane great staye of thair commoditie, and sa
be fals reportis and calumneis did go about to kendle and incense his
Maties wrath against him privilie.

And fourtlie the over great expectatioune the Kirk and cuntrie had of him
wt ane singular lowe preceding yr fra and vther causis qlk is not
neidfull to be exprest.  All these causis makis the kingis pairt to be
deadlie suspected be those quha knawis thame to be of veritie.

As for my lordis pairt if yor Lordship knew how weill he was trainit be
Mr Robert Rollok ane of the godliest men in Scotland at scoolis, and
quhat testificatioun of gude inclinacioun and behaviour he had ressauit
fra him yor honor wald hardlie beleue him a traitor.

Secondlie if yor Lordship knew wt quhat accompt and good opinioun of all
gude men he passit sobirlie and quyetlie out of his . . . how wiselie and
godlie he behauit him self in all natiounis quhairsoever he come, how he
sufferit in Rome itself . . . for the treuth of his religion . . . as I
am sure he . . . be suspect to be a traittor.

Thirdlie to quhat end suld my lord of Gourie have maid hes leving frie,
brocht hame furniture and ornamenttis for his hous and payit all his. . .
fatheris debtis and setlit himself to be a gude iusticiar in his awin
landis as is notoriouslie knawin gif wtin the space of twa monethis
haveing scairslie . . . countrie he suld resolue to . . . & murther his
Prince be . . . cause and sa to quyt his countrie his leving his welth
his . . . & lyfe, lat be the ruitting out of his name & posteritie for


         [_Preserved in the General Register House_, _Edinburgh_]

                 (1) _Robert Logan of Restalrig to_ . . .

Rycht Honorabill Sir,—My dewty with servise remembred.  Pleise yow
onderstand, my Lo. of Gowry and some vtheris his Lo. frendis and veill
villeris, qha tendaris his Lo. better preferment, ar vpon the resolucion
ye knaw, for the revenge of that cawse; and his Lo. hes vrettin to me
anent that purpose, qhairto I vill accorde, incase ye vill stand to and
beir a part: and befoir ye resolve, meet me and M.A.R. in the Cannogat on
Tysday the nixt owk, and be als var as ye kan.  Indeid M.A.R. spak with
me fowr or fywe dayis syn, and I hew promised his Lo. ane answar within
ten dayis at farrest.  As for the purpose how M.A.R. and I hes sett down
the cowrse, it vill be ane very esy done twrne, and nocht far by that
forme, vith the lyke stratagem, qhairof ve had conference in Cap. h.  Bot
incase ye and M.A.R. forgader, becawse he is someqhat consety, for Godis
saik be very var vith his raklese toyis of Padoa: For he tald me ane of
the strangest taillis of ane nobill man of Padoa that ever I hard in my
lyf, resembling the lyk purpose.  I pray yow, Sir, think nathing althocht
this berare onderstand of it, for he is the special secretair of my lyf;
His name is Lard Bower, and vas ald Manderstonis man for deid and lyf,
and evin so now for me.  And for my awin part, he sall knaw of all that I
do in this varld, so lang as ve leif togidder, for I mak him my howsehald
man: He is veill vorthy of credit, and I recommend him to yow.  Alvyse to
the purpose, I think best for our plat that ve meet all at my house of
Fastcastell; for I hew concludit with M.A.R. how I think it sall be
meittest to be convoyit quyetest in ane bote, be sey; at qhilk tyme vpon
swre adwartisment I sall hew the place very quyet and veill provydit; and
as I receve yowr answer I vill post this berair to my Lo. and therfoir I
pray yow, as ye luf yowr awin lyf, becawse it is nocht ane matter of
mowise, be circumspect in all thingis, and tak na feir bot all sall be
veill.  I hew na vill that ather my brother or yit M.W.R. my Lo. ald
pedagog knaw ony thing of the matter, qhill all be done that ve vald hew
done; and thane I cair nocht qha get vit, that lufis vs.  Qhen ye hew
red, send this my letter bak agane vith the berar, that I may se it brunt
my self, for sa is the fasson in sic errandis; and if ye please, vryyt
our (?) answer on the bak herof, incase ye vill tak my vord for the
credit of the berair: and vse all expedicioun, for the twrne vald nocht
be lang delayit.  Ye knaw the kingis hwnting vill be schortly, and than
sall be best tyme, as M.A.R. has asswred me, that my Lo. has resolved to
interpryse that matter.  Lwking for yowr answer, committis yow to
Chrystis haly protectioun.  Frome Fastcastell, the awchtan day of July

(Sic subscribitur)  Yowris to vtter power redy


On the back ‘Sprott,’ ‘bookit’ (2).

                                * * * * *

             (2)  _Robert Logan of Restalrig to Laird Bower_.

Lard Bower,—I pray yow hast yow hast to me abowt the erand I tald yow,
and ve sall confer at lenth of all thingis.  I hew recevit an new letter
fra my Lo(rd) of Go(wrie) concerning the purpose that M.A. his Lo.
brothir spak to me befoir, and I perseif I may hew avantage of Dirleton,
incase his other matter tak effect, as ve hope it sall.  Alvayse I beseik
yow be at me the morne at evin, for I hew asswred his lo. servand, that I
sall send yow over the vatter vithin thre dayis, vith an full resolucion
of all my vill, anent all purposes; As I sall indeid recommend yow and
yowr trustiness till his lo. as ye sall find an honest recompense for
yowr panes in the end.  I cair nocht for all the land I hew in this
kingdome, incase I get an grip of Dirleton, for I estem it the plesantest
dwelling in Scotland.  For Goddis cawse, keip all thingis very secret,
that my lo. my brothir get na knawlege of owr purposes, for I (wald?)
rather be eirdit quik.  And swa lwking for yow, I rest till meitting.
Fra the Kannogait, the xviij day of July.

(Sic subscribitur) Yowris to power redy


I am verie ill at eise and thairfoir speid yow hither.

On the back ‘Sprott,’ ‘Secund,’ ‘bookit.’

                                * * * * *

               (3)  _Robert Logan of Restalrig to_ . . . .

Rycht honorable Sir,—All my hartly duty vith humbill servise remembred.
Sen I hew takin on hand to interpryse vith my lo(rd) of Go(wrie) yowr
speciall and only best belowed, as ve hew set down the plat alredy, I
vill request yow that ye vill be very circumspek and vyse, that na man
may get ane avantage of vs.  I dowt nocht bot ye knaw the perell to be
bayth lyf, land and honowr, incase the mater be nocht vyslie vsed: And
for my avin part, I sall hew an speciall respek to my promise that I hew
maid till his Lo. and M.A. his lo(rdschipis) brother, althocht the
skafald var set vp.  If I kan nocht vin to Fakland the first nycht, I
sall be tymelie in St Johnestoun on the morne.  Indeid I lipnit for my
lo(rd) himself or ellise M.A. his lo. brother at my howse of
Fast(castell) as I vret to them bayth.  Alwyse I repose on yowr
advertysment of the precyse day, vith credit to the berar: for howbeit he
be bot ane silly ald gleyd carle, I vill answer for him that he sall be
very trew.  I pray yow, sir, reid and ather bwrne or send agane vith the
berare; for I dar haserd my lyf and all I hew ellise in the varld on his
message, I hew sik pruif of his constant trewth.  Sa committis yow to
Chrystis holy protectioun.  Frome the Kannogait the xxvij day of July

(Sic subscribitur)

                             Yowris till all power vt humbill servise redy

I vse nocht to vryt on the bak of ony of my letteris concerning this

On the back ‘Sprott,’ ‘bookit’ (3).

                                * * * * *

         (4)  _Robert Logan of Restalrig to the Earl of Gowrie_.

My Lo.—My maist humbill dewtie vith servise in maist hartly maner
remembred.  At the resset of yowr lo(rdchipis) letter I am so comforted,
especially at your Lo: purpose communicated onto me thairin, that I kan
nather vtter my joy nor find myself habill how to enconter yowr lo. vith
dew thankis.  Indeid my lo. at my being last in the town M.A. your lo.
brother imperted somqhat of yowr lo(rdschipis) intentioun anent that
matter onto me; and if I had nocht bene busyed abowt sum turnis of my
avin, I thoght till hew cummit over to S. Jo. and spokin vith your
lo(rdschip).  Yit alvayse my lo. I beseik your lo. bayth for the saifty
of yowr honowr, credit and mair nor that, yowr lyf, my lyf, and the lyfis
of mony otheris qha may perhapis innocently smart for that turne
eftirwartis, incase it be reveilled be ony; and lykvyse, the vtter
vraking of our landis and howsis, and extirpating of owr names, lwke that
ve be all alse sure as yowr lo. and I myself sall be for my avin part,
and than I dowt nocht, bot vith Godis g(race) we sall bring our matter
till ane fine, qhilk sall bring contentment to vs all that ever vissed
for the revenge of the Maschevalent massakering of our deirest frendis.
I dowt nocht bot M.A. yowr lo. brother hes informed yowr lo. qhat cowrse
I laid down, to bring all your lo(rdschipis) associatis to my howse of
Fast(castell) be sey, qhair I suld hew all materiallis in reddyness for
thair saif recayving a land, and into my howse; making as it ver bot a
maner of passing time, in ane bote on the sey, in this fair somer tyde;
and nane other strangeris to hant my howse, qhill ve had concluded on the
laying of owr plat, quhilk is alredy devysed be M.A. and me.  And I vald
viss that yowr lo. wald ather come or send M.A. to me, and thareftir I
sowld meit yowr lo. in Leith, or quyetly in Restal(rig) qhair ve sowld
hew prepared ane fyne hattit kit, vt succar, comfeitis, and vyn; and
thereftir confer on matteris.  And the soner ve broght owr purpose to
pass it ver the better, before harwest.  Let nocht M.W.R. yowr awld
pedagog ken of your comming, bot rather vald I, if I durst be so bald, to
intreit yowr lo. anis to come and se my avin howse, qhair I hew keipit my
lo(rd) Bo(thwell) in his gretest extremityis, say the King and his
consell qhat they vald.  And incase God grant vs ane hapy swccess in this
errand, I hope baith to haif yowr lo. and his lo., vith mony otheris of
yowr loveries and his, at ane gude dyner, before I dy.  Alvyse I hope
that the K(ingis) bwk hunting at Falkland, this yeir, sall prepair sum
daynty cheir for ws, agan that dinner the nixt yeir.  _Hoc jocose_, till
animat yowr lo. at this tyme; bot eftirvartis, ve sall hew better
occasion to mak mery.  I protest, my lo. before God, I viss nathing vith
a better hart, nor to atchive to that qhilk yowr lo. vald fane atteyn
onto; and my continewall prayer sall tend to that effect; and vith the
large spending of my landis gudis, yea the haserd of my lyf, sall not
afray me fra that, althocht the skaffold var alredy sett vp, befoir I
sowld falsify my promise to yowr lo. and perswade yowr lo(rdschip)
therof.  I trow yowr lo. hes ane pruife of my constancy alredy or now.
Bot my lo. qharas your lo. desyris in yowr letter, that I craif my lo. my
brotheris mynd anent this matter, I alvterly disasent fra that that he
sowld ever be ane counsalowr therto; for in gude fayth, he vill newer
help his frend nor harme his fo.  Yowr lo. may confyde mair in this ald
man, the beirer heirof, my man La(ird) Bowr, nor in my brother; for I
lippin my lyf and all I hew ells in his handis; and I trow he vald nocht
spair to ryde to Hellis yet to plesour me; and he is nocht begylit of my
pairt to him.  Alvyse, my lo. qhen yowr lo. hes red my letter, delyver it
to the berair agane, that I may se it brunt vith my awin ein; as I hew
sent yowr Lo: letter to yowr Lo. agane; for so is the fassone I grant.
And I pray yowr lo. rest fully perswaded of me and all that I hew
promesed; for I am resolved, howbeit it ver to dy the morne.  I man
intreit yowr lo. to expede Bowr, and gif him strait directioun, on payn
of his lyf, that he tak never ane vink sleip, qhill he se me agane; or
ellise he vill vtterly vndo vs.  I hew alredy sent an other letter to the
gentill man yowr lo. kennis, as the berare vill informe yowr lo. of his
answer and forvardness vith yowr lo.; and I sall schaw yowr lo. forder,
at meting, qhen and qhair yowr lo. sall think meittest.  To qhilk tyme
and ever committis yowr lo. to the proteccioun of the Almychtie God.
From Gwnisgrene, the twenty nynt of Julij 1600.

(Sic subscribitur)  Your lo. awin sworne and bundman to obey and serve vt
efauld and ever redy seruise to his vttir power till his lyfis end.


Prayis yowr lo. hald me excused for my vnsemly letter, qhilk is nocht sa
veil vrettin as mister var: For I durst nocht let ony of my vryteris ken
of it, but tuke twa syndry ydill dayis to it my self.

I vill never foryet the gude sporte that M.A. yowr lo: brother tald me of
ane nobill man of Padoa, it comiss sa oft to my memory.  And indeid it is
a parastevr to this purpose ve hew in hand.

On the back ‘Sprott,’ ‘bookit’ (4).

                                * * * * *

                (5)  _Robert Logan of Restalrig to_ . . .

Rycht honorabill Sir,—My hartly dewty remembred.  Ye knaw I tald yow at
owr last meitting in the Cannogat that M.A.R. my lo. of Go(wries) brother
had spokin vith me, anent the matter of owr conclusion; and for my awin
part I sall nocht be hindmest; and sensyne I gat ane letter from his lo.
selff, for that same purpose; and apon the resset tharof, onderstanding
his lo. frankness and fordvardness in it, God kennis if my hart vas nocht
liftit ten stagess!  I postit this same berare till his lo. to qhome ye
may concredit all yowr hart in that asveill as I; for and it var my very
sowl, I durst mak him messinger therof, I hew sic experiense of his
treuth in mony other thingis: He is ane silly ald gleyd carle, bot vonder
honest: And as he hes reportit to me his lo. awin answer, I think all
matteris sall be concluded at my howse of Fa(stcastell); for I and M.A.R.
conclude that ye sowld come vith him and his lo. and only ane other man
vith yow, being bot only fowr in company, intill ane of the gret fisching
botis, be sey to my howse, qher ye sall land as saifly as on Leyth
schoir; and the howse agane his lo. comming to be quyet: And qhen ye ar
abowt half a myll fra schoir, as it ver passing by the howse, to gar set
forth ane vaf.  Bot for Godis sek, let nether ony knawlege come to my lo.
my brotheris eiris, nor yit to M.W.R. my lo. ald pedagog; for my brother
is kittill to scho behind, and dar nocht interpryse, for feir; and the
other vill disswade vs fra owr purpose vith ressonis of religion, qhilk I
can newer abyd.  I think thar is nane of a nobill hart, or caryis ane
stomak vorth an pini, bot they vald be glad to se ane contented revenge
of Gray Steillis deid: And the soner the better, or ellse ve may be
marrit and frustrat; and therfor, pray his lo(rdschip) be qwik and bid
M.A. remember on the sport he tald me of Padoa; for I think vith my self
that the cogitacion on that sowld stimulat his lo(rdschip).  And for
Godis cawse vse all yowr cowrses _cum discrecione_.  Fell nocht, sir, to
send bak agan this letter; for M.A. leirit me that fasson, that I may se
it distroyed my self.  Sa till your comming, and ever, committis yow
hartely to Chrystis holy protection.  From Gwnisgrene, the last of July

On the back ‘xiij Aprilis 1608 producit be Ninian Chirnesyde (8).’

Also ‘Sprott,’ ‘Fyft. bookit.’


ABBOT, Dr. George, present when Sprot was hanged, 177, 226; his pamphlet
containing official account of Sprot’s trial and examinations, 178

Abercromby, Robert (the King’s saddler), said to have brought James to
Perth to ‘take order for his debt,’ 83, 84, 159

Agnew, Sir Stair, cited, 241

Analysis of Letter IV, 232–239

Anderson, Rev. Mr., finds the torn letter from Logan to Chirnside, 174;
on Letter IV., 236, 237, 238; on the Logan plot-letters, 241, 242, 243

Angus, Earl of, involves Gowrie’s father in a conspiracy with him, 121,
122; under the spells of witchcraft, 198, 199

Anne of Denmark, Queen (wife of James VI), her attributed relations with
the Earl Moray, 2; and with Gowrie and the Master of Ruthven, 3, 133,
134, 138; romantic story of her ribbon on the Master’s neck, 132; invites
Gowrie to Court, 133, 134; sorrow for the slaying of the Ruthvens, 5,
133, 138; plots against the Earl of Mar, 138, 139

Arms, Gowrie’s, 245 _et seq._

Arnott, Sir John (provost of Edinburgh), on the Logan plot-letters, 243;
at the trial of Logan, 250

Arran (Capt. James Stewart), his influence over James, 119; his treachery
to Gowrie’s father, 120–123; receives that nobleman’s forfeited estate,
123; driven into retirement, 123

Arran, Earl of, Bothwell’s (James Hepburn) proposal to him to seize Mary,
cited, 71

Ashfield, kidnapped by Lord Willoughby, cited, 139

Atholl, Earl of (married to Gowrie’s sister Mary), 123; in alliance with
Bothwell and Gowrie against James, 125; manifesto to the Kirk, 125;
letters from James, 134, 135

Auchmuty, John, in attendance on James, 12

                                * * * * *

BAILLIE, John, of Littlegill, implicated by Sprot with Logan, 202, 203;
denies receiving a letter from Logan, 209

Baldi, Ottavio, his letter to James on the Gowrie emblem at Padua, 246,
247, 251

Balgonie.  _See_ Graham of Balgonie.

Barbé, Mr. Louis, on Henderson’s and the Master’s ride to Falkland, 45;
his view of the notary Robertson’s evidence respecting Henderson, 61
note; as to the theory of an accidental brawl, 94; on James and the pot
of gold tale, 95; on Bruce’s interrogation of the King, 109; on the
invitation from the King to Gowrie, Atholl, and others to join him at
Falkland, 135

Baron (Gowrie’s retainer), in the chamber fight, 87; hanged, 87

Bell, John, Logan’s memorandum to him, 174, 195

Beza, Gowrie with, at Geneva, 180

Bisset, Mr., quoted, on the notary Robertson’s evidence respecting
Henderson, 61 note

Bothwell, Francis Stewart Earl of, aided by Gowrie’s mother and sister
captures James at Holyrood, 124, 125; manifesto to the Kirk, 125; his
list of Scottish Catholic nobles ready for the invasion of Scotland, 128;
other proposals of invasion, 129; vague hints at his aim to change the
dynasty, 140; his whereabouts in 1600, 147 note; on terms with Logan of
Restalrig, 154, 155, 156; charged with practising witchcraft against the
King’s life, 198; report as to a secret candidate for James’s crown, 251

Bothwell, James Hepburn Earl of, his proposal to Arran to seize Mary,
cited, 71

Bower, James (a retainer of Logan’s), custodian of compromising letters
between Logan and Gowrie, 164, 174, 176, 177, 195; bearer of Gowrie’s
letter to Logan, 183, 188, 191; letter from Logan, 183, 184; Sprot’s
account of Logan and Bower’s scheme to get possession of Dirleton, 189;
with Logan at Coldinghame after the tragedy, 195; custodian of Ruthven’s
and Clerk’s letters to Logan, 202; blamed for the selling of Fastcastle,
204; letter from Logan reproaching him for indiscretions of speech, 211,

Bower, Valentine, employed by his father James to read Logan’s letters,

Bowes, Sir William (English Ambassador), no friend of James’s, 96; his
hypothesis respecting the Gowrie tragedy, 96; letter to Sir John Stanhope
on same matter, 97 note

Brown, Professor Hume, on the Logan plot-letters, 241

Brown, Robert (James’s servant), part in the Gowrie mystery, 31

Bruce, Rev. Robert (Presbyterian minister), his cross-examination of
James on the Gowrie tragedy, 38; allows that James was not a conspirator,
95; explains to James the reasons for the preachers’ refusal to thank God
for his delivery from a ‘plot,’ 101; sceptical of the veracity of James’s
narrative, 102, 103; will believe it if Henderson is hanged, 103, 104,
106, 226; goes into banishment, 105; tells Mar in London he is content to
abide by the verdict in the Gowrie case, but is not persuaded of Gowrie’s
guilt, 105; meets the King in Scotland, and tells him he is convinced, on
Mar’s oath, that he is innocent, 106; interrogates the King, 107; refuses
to make a public apology in the pulpit and is banished to Inverness, 108,
250; his ‘Meditations,’ 110 note; asks Lord Hamilton to head the party of
the Kirk, 177; prophecies, 249

Burnet (Burnet’s father), on the Gowrie mystery, 249, 250

Burnet, Bishop, quoted, on Gowrie’s claims to a Royal pedigree, 249, 250

Burton, Dr. Hill, on James VI, 5; on Logan’s plot-letters, 169

                                * * * * *

CALDERWOOD, Rev. David (Presbyterian minister), on James’s narrative of
the Gowrie affair, 36, 37; on the man in the turret, 62; rejects the
story of Craigengelt’s dying confession, 104; view of the objections
taken by sceptics to the King’s narrative, 111; on Gowrie’s entry to
Edinburgh, 130; on the confession of Sprot on the scaffold, 163, 164
note, 227; his interpretation of Sprot’s confession, 164; on the Logan
plot-letters, 170, 172, 173

Cant, Mr. (antiquary), on Gowrie House, 18

Carey, Sir John (Governor of Berwick), respecting a treatise in
vindication of the Ruthvens, 81; informs Cecil of James’s jealousy of
Gowrie, 130; and of the Court tattle respecting the Queen and Gowrie, 133

Casket Letters, the, cited, 5, 7, 8; in possession of Gowrie’s father,
240; disappearance of, 241; probability of forgery, 244

Cecil Papers at Hatfield, the, 158

Cecil, Sir Robert, Queen Elizabeth’s minister, 11; communication from
Nicholson respecting Cranstoun and Henderson, 75 note; letter from Carey
respecting a treatise in vindication of the Ruthvens, 81; intrigue with
Bothwell, 147 note; with Border Scots intriguing against James, 159, 160;
Lord Willoughby’s offer of a ship if subsidised, 218

Chirnside, Ninian, of Whitsumlaws, 154; Logan’s letter to him, 174;
relations with Logan, 197, 199; employed by Bothwell to arrange meetings
with the wizard Graham, 198, 199; in danger after the failure of the
Gowrie plot, 203; Sprot’s forged letter of Logan’s to be used by him for
blackmailing Logan’s executors, 215

Christie, porter at Gowrie House on the fatal day, 21

Clerk, Father Andrew (Jesuit), intriguing against James, 201, 212

Coat of arms, Gowrie’s, 245 _et seq._

Colville, John, tells Cecil of Gowrie’s summons to be leader of the Kirk,
129; schemes against James, 140, 146, 155; renounces Frank Bothwell, 198

Corsar, John, cited, 211

Cowper, Rev. Mr. (minister of Perth), on Gowrie’s views as to secrecy in
plots, 144

Craigengelt (Gowrie’s steward), his evidence regarding the Master’s ride
to Falkland, 44; observation of the Master while the King dines, 49; at
the dinner, 65, 83, 84; his confession before execution, 103, 104; denial
of receipt of letters from James to Gowrie, 134, 135 note; on the
movements of the Gowries before the tragedy, 136; hanged, 87

Cranstoun of Cranstoun, Sir John, 154

Cranstoun Riddell, Laird of, (Logan’s father-in-law), 153

Cranstoun, Thomas (Gowrie’s equerry), his share in the transactions at
Gowrie House which brought about the slaughter of the Ruthvens, 20, 21,
23, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31; wounded by Ramsay, 74, 85; examined, tortured,
tried, and hanged at Perth, 74, 87, 155; an outlawed rebel and adherent
of Bothwell, 74 note, 155

Cranstoun, Wm. (Bothwellian), 155

Crockett, Willie, one of Sprot’s victims, 203; his account of Logan’s
Yule at Gunnisgreen, 209

Cromarty, Lord, his defence of James in the Gowrie affair, 223; testifies
to the finding of Sprot’s Letter IV, 224, 229

                                * * * * *

DAVIDSON, Rev. M., cited, 249

Dirleton, Gowrie’s stronghold near North Berwick, 42, 43, 145

Doig, Watty, arrests Sprot, 162

Douglas, Archibald, the infamous traitor, 140; his intimacy with Logan,
154, 155, 157

Douglas, Archibald, of Glenbervie, 248

Douglas, Archibald (son of Douglas of Glenbervie), student at Padua, 126,

Douglas of Spot, 140, 156

Douglas, Sir Robert, and the Gowrie emblem in Padua, 127, 246, 247, 248,

Drummond of Inchaffray, at Gowrie House when the Ruthvens were killed,
19, 24, 43; letter from James, 134, 135

Dunbar, Earl of, his humane treatment of Sprot, 163, 170; Sprot’s
confession forwarded to him, 182; in debt to Logan, 211

Dunfermline, Earl of, and the preachers, 102; opposes James’s demands for
money, 131; present at Sprot’s examinations, 201, 210

                                * * * * *

EASTER WEMYSS, Laird of, opposes James’s demands for money, 131

Elizabeth, Queen, 11; receives, through Preston, James’s account of the
Gowrie affair, 96; seeks to purchase the Casket Letters from Gowrie’s
father, 240; said to have granted to Gowrie the guard and honours of a
Prince of Wales, 248

Elphinstone (Lord Balmerino), Secretary of the Privy Council, in receipt
of James’s narrative of the Gowrie plot, 38; denies discrepancies alleged
by the preachers in the report of the tragedy, 102

Erskine, Sir Thomas, his share in the Gowrie slaughter, 19, 26, 27, 28,
29, 30, 31, 51, 59, 74, 85, 139

Erskine (Sir Thomas’s brother), his part in the tragedy, 26, 27, 28, 29

Essex, Earl of, 11, 105

Eviot, Patrick, present at the fight in the death chamber, 29, 30, 60;
proclaimed, 63

                                * * * * *

FALKLAND Castle, 5, 12

Fastcastle, Berwickshire, the stronghold of Logan, where it is said James
was to have been lodged, 153, 154, 193, 194

Fyvie, President of the Privy Council.  _See_ Dunfermline.

                                * * * * *

GALLOWAY, Rev. Patrick (the King’s chaplain), his account of the doors
passed through and locked by the Master on the way to the turret, 53;
proclaims Henderson as the man in the turret, 63; alleges that Gowrie
attempted to involve James in negotiations with the Pope, 104, 128;
reported to have induced Henderson to pretend to be the man in the
turret, 114; at Sprot’s examination, 186, 217, 220, 226

Galloway, William, one of Sprot’s victims, 203

Gardiner, Mr. S.  R. (historian), on the Gowrie mystery, 5

Gibson (Scottish judge), kidnapping of, 145

Goodman, the, of Pitmillie, on the King’s knowledge of Henderson, 114

Gowdie, Isobel, accused of witchcraft, 198

Gowrie, Earl of (father of John Earl of, and the Master of Ruthven), one
of the Riccio murderers, 118; in charge of Mary at Lochleven, 118;
pardoned for his share in the Raid of Ruthven, 119; arrested and brought
to trial, 120; foul means by which his conviction was procured, 120–123;
foreknowledge of the Angus conspiracy, 121, 122; nobles charged by him
with treachery, 122; execution, 11, 55, 56, 121; the King’s debt to him,
84; after death denounced by James as a traitor, 96; the Casket Letters
in his possession, 240

Gowrie House, situation and topography of, 14–18; Lennox’s account of
proceedings at, on the day of the slaughter, 20 _et seq._

Gowrie Inn, 18

Gowrie, John Earl of, his attributed relations with the Queen, 3;
speculations as to his aims and character, 5, 7; and the causes leading
to his death, 5, 7; alleged plot to seize James, 7; his retainers’
evidence thereon, 9; _the Duke of Lennox’s account of events_, 13 _et
seq._; James’s invitation to Gowrie House to see the treasure, 14;
situation and topography of his house, 15–18; observers’ accounts of his
plot said to have been aimed at the King, 20–34; the manner of his death,
31; _the King’s own narrative of the Gowrie plot_, 35 _et seq._; his
conduct in the light of that narrative, 42; the circumstance of the man
in the turret, and the plot of gold concealed from him, 41, 42, 49, 50;
Henderson sent by the Master to warn him of the King’s arrival, 43;
secrecy enjoined by him on Henderson as to the ride to Falkland, 44;
silent as to his knowledge of the King’s approach, 45; makes no
preparation for the King’s dinner 46, 49; influence of a disagreement
between him and the Master, respecting the Abbey of Scone, 48, 49; meets
the King and conducts him to Gowrie House, 49; his uneasy conduct while
the King dines, 49, 50; _account of his share in the plot drawn from
Henderson’s deposition_, 64; questions Henderson about the King, 65; bids
Henderson put on his secret coat of mail to arrest a Highlander, 65; the
contemporary _Ruthven Vindication_, 80–93; theory of an accidental brawl,
94–98; contemporary clerical and popular criticism, 99 _et seq._; alleged
attempts to entangle James in negotiations with the Pope, 104; grounds
for a hereditary feud between him and James, 118; elected provost of
Perth, 124; at Edinburgh University, 124; in alliance with Bothwell and
Atholl against James, 125; their manifesto to the Kirk, 125; goes with
his tutor Rhynd to Padua, 126; his emblem, and saying regarding it, 127;
extols the conduct of an English fanatic at Rome, 127: reported to have
been converted to Catholicism, 128; his name on Bothwell’s list of
Scottish Catholic nobles ripe for the invasion of Scotland, 129;
presented by Elizabeth, in London, with a cabinet of plate, 130; James
jealous of him on his return to Edinburgh, 131; opposes the King’s
demands for money, 131, 141; letter of invitation to Court, from the
Queen, 133; letter of invitation to Falkland from James, 134, 135; quits
Strabran for Perth, 136; movements on the morning of the tragedy, 137;
granted exemption for a year from pursuit by creditors, 141; rumour that
he was a candidate for the English throne, 141; motives of revenge urging
him to plot against James, 143; his views as to secrecy in plots, 144;
evidences of his intention to capture James and convey him to Dirleton,
145, 146; letter to Logan, 183, 184; anxious that Lord Home should be
initiated into the conspiracy, 206, 207; his arms and ambitions, 245–251;
emblem at Padua, 247, 248, 256; Tudor descent, 249; pedigree, 248, 249,
250; Bothwell’s statement implying that he was a secret candidate for
James’s crown, 251

Gowrie, Lady (Gowrie’s mother), aids Bothwell in capturing James at
Holyrood, 124, 125; her movements immediately prior to the tragedy, 136;
at Dirleton on August 6, 136; her suit for relief from her creditors, 141

Graham of Balgonie, reports the Master’s desire to be alone with the King
while inspecting the treasure, 50; picks up the garter supposed to have
been used to tie James’s hands in the turret chamber, 58; verbal
narrative of the King’s escape to the Privy Council, 101

Graham, Richard (wizard), accuses Bothwell of attempting James’s life by
sorcery, 198, 199

Gray, suspected as the man in the turret, 62

Gray, the Master of, reports Lennox’s doubt whether Gowrie or the King
was guilty, 116; his relations with Logan of Restalrig, 156, 157

Guevara, Sir John (cousin of Lord Willoughby), his share in kidnapping
Ashfield, 139; cited, 146, 218

Gunnisgreen, Logan of Restalrig’s residence, 162

Gunton, Mr. (Librarian at Hatfield), on Logan’s letters, 239, 241

                                * * * * *

HADDINGTON, Earl of, in possession of records of Sprot’s private
examinations, 173, 174; the torn letter, 216, 217; copies of Logan’s
letters (I, IV), 224; documents written by Sprot, 241

Hailes, Lord, cited, 62 note; on a contemporary treatise in vindication
of the Ruthvens, 81; his romantic story concerning the Master of Ruthven,

Hall, Rev. John, his objection to acceptance of James’s narrative, 103;
restored to his pulpit, 105; present when Sprot confessed to forgery of
the Logan letters, 186; at Sprot’s examination, 217, 220, 226

Hamilton, Lord, asked to head the party of the Kirk, 177

Hamilton of Grange, at the slaughter of the Ruthvens, 19

Hamilton, Sir Thomas (the King’s Advocate), 64; preserves the records of
Sprot’s private examinations, 173, 174; at Sprot’s examinations, 201,
210; Sprot’s model letter delivered to him, 224

Hamilton, Thomas, on the doors passed through by the Master and James to
reach the turret, 52

Hart, Sir William (Chief Justice), his account of Sprot’s examinations
and trial, 168, 177, 178, 179, 180, 181, 220

Hay, George (lay Prior of the Chartreux in Perth), on Henderson and the
Falkland ride, 45; on Henderson’s message to Gowrie from the Master, 65;
at Perth on August 5th, 137

Hay, Peter, on Henderson and the Falkland ride, 45

Heddilstane, 196; receipts from Logan to him forged by Sprot, 199;
blackmailed by Sprot, 199

Henderson, Andrew, with the Master of Ruthven at Gowrie House, 43;
accompanies the Master on a mission to James at Falkland, and sent with a
message to Gowrie, 44; enjoined by Gowrie to keep this ride secret, 44,
45; Robertson’s evidence respecting his presence in the death chamber,
60, 61; other theories on the same, 61 note; his flight after the affray,
60, 62; proclaimed by Galloway as the man in the turret, 63: reasons for
his flight, 64; examined before the Lords, 64; his narrative of the
events leading to the tragedy, 64; incidents at Falkland, 65; the
Master’s message to Gowrie, 65; bidden to put on a coat of mail by
Gowrie, 66; waits on the King at dinner, 65; sent to the Master in the
gallery, 66; locked in the turret by the Master, 66; accordance of his
account of the final scenes in the tragedy with that of the King, 66;
states that he threw the dagger out of the Master’s hand, 66;
discrepancies in his later deposition, 67; in his second deposition omits
the statement that he deprived the Master of his dagger, 67; his version
of the words exchanged between the Master and James in the turret
chamber, 68; the question of his disarming the Master, 69; on what was
his confession modelled, 70; clings to the incident of the garter, 70;
the most incredible part of his narrative, 70; perils to him in listening
to treasonable proposals from the Ruthvens, 72; Robert Oliphant’s
statement contrasted with his, 75, 77; quarrels with Herries, 77, 78;
Rev. Mr. Bruce’s attitude towards his deposition, 103, 104; said to have
been induced by the Rev. Mr. Galloway to pretend to be the man in the
turret, 114; share in the Gowrie affair, 145; questioned by Moncrieff,

Henry, Prince (son of James VI and his heir), in the charge of Mar, 138

Heron, Captain Patrick, his career, 76 note; seizes, by commission,
Oliphant’s portable property and claps him in prison in the Gate House of
Westminster, 76; compelled to restore Oliphant’s property, 77

Herries, Dr., at the King’s hunt at Falkland, 12; at Gowrie House when
the Ruthvens were killed, 20, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31; his share in the
affray, 59, 85; wounded by Cranstoun, 74; quarrels with Henderson, 77;
knighted and rewarded, 78; fable of his prophecy to Beatrix Ruthven, 131

Hewat, Rev. Peter, accepts James’s narrative, 102, 103; at Sprot’s
examination, 186, 217, 220, 226

History of the Kirk of Scotland (MS.), cited, 164

Hogg, Rev. William (minister of Aytoun), on the Logan plot-letters, 243

Home, Lady, aware of Logan’s desire to obtain Dirleton, 207, 208

Home, (sixth) Lord, in communication with Bothwell, 129, 130, 152, 205,
206, 207

Home, Lord (Logan’s uterine brother), 184, 187, 205; Logan’s contempt for
him as a conspirator, 237

Home, William (sheriff clerk of Berwick), on the Logan plot-letters, 243

Horne, John (notary in Eyemouth), on the Logan plot-letters, 243

Horse, King James’s, his part in the Gowrie mystery, 22

Hudson, Mr. (James’s resident at the Court of England), interviews the
King and Henderson on the transactions in the turret chamber, 67, 69
note; his explanation of the origin of differences between the King’s
narrative and Henderson’s evidence, 69

Hume of Cowdenknowes (married to Gowrie’s sister Beatrix), 124

Hume of Godscroft, on a message from the Earl of Angus to Gowrie’s father
in conspiracy, 121, 122

Hume of Manderston, 187

Hume of Rentoun, 196

Hume, Sir George, of Spot, 64

                                * * * * *

JAMES VI of Scotland, married to Anne of Denmark, 2; early life and
character, 4; his version of the Gowrie mystery, 6; reasons for doubting
his guilt, 7; untrustworthiness of his word, 8; substantial character of
his tale, 9; love of the chase, 11; political troubles, 11; hunting
costume, 12; concerning him, _facts drawn from Lennox_, 13 _et seq._;
starts for the hunt in Falkland Park, 13; the Master of Ruthven
interviews him before the hunt, 13; goes to Gowrie’s house, 14;
_observers’ accounts of the transactions implicating him_, 20–34; his
dinner at Gowrie House, 20; goes upstairs on a quiet errand, 20;
Cranstoun’s statement that the King had ridden away, 20; search for him
in the house, 21; Gowrie confirms his departure, 22; but—the King’s horse
still in the stable, 22; heard calling from the window, 23; struggle with
the Master of Ruthven, 24, 25, 26; the man in the turret behind the
King’s back, 25; sanctions the stabbing of the Master of Ruthven by
Ramsay, 26; shut up in the turret, 29, 30; kneels in prayer in the
chamber bloody with the corpse of Gowrie, 32; _his own narrative of the
affair_, 35 _et seq._; theory of the object of the Ruthvens, 37; the
Master of Ruthven’s statement to him of the cloaked man and the pot full
of coined gold pieces, 39; suspects the Jesuits of importing foreign gold
for seditious purposes, 40; his horror of ‘practising Papists,’ 40;
hypothesis of his intended kidnapping, 37, 42; importance of the ride of
the Master and Henderson to Falkland and its concealment to the
substantiation of his narrative, 44, 45, 46; asserts Henderson’s presence
at Falkland, 46; rides, followed by Mar and Lennox, after the kill to
Perth, 47; surmises regarding Ruthven, 47; motives for the Master
acquiring his favour regarding the Abbey of Scone, 48; asks Lennox if he
thinks the Master settled in his wits, 48; pressed by the Master to come
on and see the man and the treasure, 48; met by Gowrie with sixty men,
49; presses the Master for a sight of the treasure, 49; the Master asks
him to keep the treasure a secret from Gowrie, 49; Gowrie’s uneasy
behaviour while the King dines, 49, 50; despatches Gowrie to the Hall
with the grace-cup, and follows the Master alone to the turret to view
the treasure, 50, 51; the question of the doors he passed through to
reach the turret chamber and their locking by the Master, 51, 52, 53, 54;
threatened by the Master with the dagger of a strange man in the turret
chamber, 55; denounced for the execution of the Master’s father, 56; his
harangue to the Master excusing his action, and promising forgiveness if
released, 56; Ruthven goes to consult Gowrie, leaving him in the custody
of the man, 56; questions the man about the conspiracy, 57; orders the
man to open the window, 58; the Master returns and essays to bind his
hands with a garter, 58; struggles with the Master and shouts Treason
from the window, 58; rescued by Ramsay, who wounds the Master, 59;
returns to Falkland, 59; _Henderson’s narrative of events_, 60 _et seq._;
his interview with the Master and journey to Gowrie House, 65; at dinner,
65; Henderson’s account of the struggle in the turret chamber mainly in
accord with the King’s narrative, 66; discrepancy between his and
Henderson’s accounts of the disarming of Ruthven, 69, 104; causes
Oliphant to be lodged in the Gate House, Westminster, 76; subsequently
releases him and restores his property, 76, 77; maintains his to be the
true account of the Gowrie affair and disregards discrepancies in
evidence, 78; on the way to Gowrie House had informed Lennox of Ruthven’s
tale of the pot of gold, 94; theory of his concoction of the tale, 95;
despatches Preston to Elizabeth with his version of the Gowrie affair,
96; rates the Edinburgh preachers for refusing to thank God for his
delivery from a ‘Gowrie plot,’ 101; reasons for his ferocity towards the
recalcitrant preachers, 102; his alleged ‘causes’ for the death of
Gowrie, 104; Bruce states that he is convinced, on Mar’s oath chiefly, of
his innocence, 106; under interrogation by Bruce, 107, 108; subsequent
persecution of Bruce, 109; _objections taken by contemporary sceptics to
his narrative_, 111–117; grounds for a hereditary feud between him and
Gowrie, 118; early years of his reign, 119; the Raid of Ruthven, 119; his
acquiescence in the execution of Gowrie’s father, 123; Arran’s influence
over him, 119, 123; suspected of favouring the Catholic earls of the
North, 124; Gowrie, Atholl and Bothwell in alliance against him, 125;
their manifesto to the Kirk, 125; Gowrie’s relique at Padua forwarded to
him by Sir Robert Douglas, 127; early correspondence with Gowrie, 127;
his alleged jealousy of Gowrie, 130; gives Gowrie a year’s respite from
pursuit of his creditors, 131; thwarted by Gowrie in his demands for
money, 131; romantic story of his discovery of the Queen’s ribbon on the
Master’s neck, 132; his letters inviting Atholl, the Master and Gowrie to
Falkland, 134, 135, note; his motives for killing both the Ruthvens, 139,
140; method attributed to him by his adversaries on which he might have
carried out a plot against the Ruthvens, 142; plots against him
encouraged by the English Government, 161; his life aimed at by
witchcraft, 198.  See ‘The Verie Manner of the Erll of Gowrie,’ &c.

Jesuits, suspected by James of importing foreign coin for seditious
purposes, 40

                                * * * * *

KEITH, Andrew, at Padua, 126, 248

Ker, George (Catholic intriguer with Spain), 154

Ker of Newbattle, at Padua with Gowrie, 248

Ker, Robert, of Newbattle, at Padua, 126

Kirk, the, the King’s version of the Gowrie plot discredited by, 36

Kirkcaldy of Grange, in defence of Edinburgh Castle, 152; hanged on the
fall of the castle, 153

                                * * * * *

LENNOX, Duke of, at the King’s hunt in Falkland Park, 12, 47; his account
of what followed, 13 _et seq._; accompanies James to Gowrie House, 14;
his opinion of the Master of Ruthven and the story of the pitcher of gold
coins, 14; at Gowrie House with the King, 19; his version and that of
others of the transactions which brought about the deaths of Gowrie and
the Master, 20–34; questioned by James as to the sanity of the Master,
48; informed by James of the Master’s story of the gold coins, 94, 95; at
the slaughter of the Ruthvens, 86, 88, 119, 124; married to Gowrie’s
sister Sophia, 124

Lesley, suspected as the man in the turret, 62

Letter I (Logan to—), 167, 174, 185, 188, 189, 196, 200, 216, 217, 223,
224, 225, 226, 228, 230, 232, 233, 234, 235, 257, 258

Letter II (Logan to Bower), 183, 184, 185, 188, 189, 195, 205, 208, 224,
228, 229, 239, 258, 259

Letter III (Logan to—), 200, 216, 217, 223, 224, 228, 232, 233, 234, 235,
239, 259, 260

Letter IV (Logan to Gowrie), cited, 166, 167, 170, 173, 174, 175, 176,
177, 178, 179, 181, 182, 186, 187, 190, 191, 192, 194, 195, 196, 197,
199, 202, 206, 207, 215, 221, 222, 223, 224, 225, 226, 228, 229, 230,
231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 236, 237, 238, 260–263

Letter V (Logan to—), 200, 215, 216, 217, 223, 224, 228, 232, 233, 234,
235, 263, 264

Lindores, at the slaughter of the Ruthvens, 19, 20, 21

Lindsay, James, at Padua with Gowrie, 126, 248

Lindsay, Lord, surety for Lord Robert Stewart, 153

Lindsay, Rev. David, sent to tell James’s story of his escape from the
Gowrie plot at the Cross, Edinburgh, 101

Lindsay, Sir Harry, Laird of Kinfauns, Sprot withdraws his charge against
him, 217

Locke, Henry (Cecil’s go-between and agent in conspiracy against James),

Logan, Matthew, 187, 189, 193, 203; bearer of letters from Logan to
Bower, 211, 212, 213; account of Bower’s reception of them, 213; denies
every word attributed to him by Sprot, 213, 220

Logan, Sir Robert (father of Logan of Restalrig), 150, 205, 206

Logan of Restalrig, his name on Bothwell’s list of Catholic nobles, 129;
surety for Lord Robert Stewart, 153; marries Elizabeth Macgill, and is
divorced from her, 153; on terms both with Protestant and Catholic
conspirators, 154, 155, 156; diplomatic ambitions, 156; on the packed
jury which acquits Archibald Douglas, 157; relations with the Master of
Gray, 157; a partisan, with Gowrie’s father, of Bothwell, 157; helps
himself to the plate-chest of Nesbit of Newton, 158; bound over not to
put Fastcastle in the hands of the King’s enemies, 158; his character
from Lord Willoughby, 159; intimacy with the Mowbrays, 160; sells all his
landed property at the time of the Gowrie plot, 161, 205; erratic
behaviour previous to his death, 161; death, 161, 162; compromising
papers from him found on his notary Sprot, 162; under torture Sprot
confesses these papers to be his own forgeries, 162; on examination
before the Privy Council Sprot persists in Logan’s complicity in the
Gowrie plot, 163, 170; his exhumed remains brought into court and tried
for treason, 164; compromising letters, 164, 165; his family forfeited,
165; production of alleged plot-letters at his posthumous trial, 168,
175; contents of Letter IV to Gowrie, 176; use made of the letters by the
Government, 179, 181; letters from and to Gowrie, 183; letter to Bower,
183, 184, 185; conduct immediately before and after Gowrie’s death, 187;
his scheme to get possession of Dirleton, 189; his keep Fastcastle, where
it is said James was to have been carried, 193; charge of conspiracy to
murder James made in the Indictment in his posthumous trial, 193; faint
evidence that he was connected with the Gowrie plot, 194; with Bower at
Coldinghame on the failure of the plot, 195; memorandum to Bower and
Bell, 195; singular behaviour in trusting his letters to Bower, 202;
burns Ruthven’s and Clerk’s letters, 202; letter to Baillie of
Littlegill, 202; events at his Yule at Gunnisgreen, 203; takes Sprot into
his confidence, 204; discourages the idea of bringing Lord Home into the
plot, 207, 208; conversation with Lady Home about Dirleton, 208; his
visit to London, 210; letter to Bower, and Sprot’s answer, 211; fears the
effect of Bower’s rash speeches, 212; forged letters attributed to him,
215, 216, 217; partner in a ship with Lord Willoughby, 218; his letter to
Gowrie the model for Sprot’s forgeries, 177, 221; motives for his sale of
his lands, 228

Logan, Robert (son of Logan of Restalrig and Elizabeth Macgill), 153

Lords of the Articles, the, the Gowrie case before, 8; the Logan trial
before, 165

Lumisden, Rev. Mr., present when Sprot confessed to forgery of letters,
186; at the examination of Sprot, 226

Lyn, tailor, Mr. Robert Oliphant’s confidences to him about the Gowrie
plot, 73, 75

                                * * * * *

MACBRECK, witness of the attack on Gowrie, 29

Macgill, Elizabeth, married to Logan of Restalrig, and divorced from him,

Maitland of Lethington, 152

Man, the, in the turret, 35, 55, 56, 57, 62, 72

Mar, Earl of, at the King’s hunt at Falkland, 12, 47; with James at
Gowrie House, 23, 24, 26, 32; at the Gowrie slaughter, 86, 88; assures
the preacher Bruce of the truth of the King’s narrative, 104, 105; is
told by Bruce that he will accept the verdict in the Gowrie case but not
preach Gowrie’s guilt, 105; entrusted by James with the care of Prince
Henry, 138; the Queen’s plots against him, 138

Mary of Guise (James’s grandmother), 118

Mary Queen of Scots and the Casket Letters, 5, 7, 8; declares that
Ruthven (Gowrie’s grandfather) persecuted her by his lust, 119

Mason, Peter, 190

Masson, Dr., on the Gowrie mystery, 5

Matthew, Toby (Dean of Durham), Bothwell’s statement to him, 251

Maul, one of Sprot’s victims, 203

Maxwell, Lord, cited, 193

Melville, Sir Robert, his treachery in procuring the conviction of
Gowrie’s father, 120–122

Moncrieff, Hew, present at the slaughter of the Ruthvens, 29, 32; at the
fight in the death chamber, 60; proclaimed, 63; puzzled regarding the
Master’s early ride from Perth to Falkland, 137

Moncrieff, John, questions Henderson as to the ride to Falkland, 44, 145;
on Gowrie’s silence as to his knowledge of the King’s approach, 45; on
Gowrie’s actions on the morning of the fatal 5th, 137

Montrose (Chancellor), 64; desires the preachers to thank God in their
churches for the King’s ‘miraculous delivery,’ 100

Montrose, the Master of, conspiring against James, 125

Moray, Earl, his alleged relations with Queen Anne, 2

Morton, Regent, confines Lord Robert Stewart in Linlithgow Castle, 153

Mossman, imprisoned for share in the Gowrie plot, 203

Mowbray, Francis, intriguing with Cecil against James, 159; imprisoned in
Edinburgh Castle, and killed in trying to escape therefrom, 160

Mowbray, Philip, of Barnbogle, surety for Lord Robert Stewart, 153;
intriguing with Cecil against James, 159

Moysie, David, probable writer of the Falkland letter, after the
slaughter of the Ruthvens, 38 note; 100

Murray, George, in attendance on James, 12

Murray, John of Arbany, in attendance on James, 12; with James at the
slaughter of the Ruthvens, 24, 25, 26, 32, 61; wounded by a Ruthven
partisan, 88

Murray, Sir David, on Gowrie’s speech against James’s demands for money,

Murray of Tullibardine, in Perth at the time of the Gowrie tragedy, 28

                                * * * * *

NAISMITH (surgeon), with James at the Falkland hunt, 47

Napier, Mr. Mark, on Sprot’s alleged forgery of the Logan letters, 172,
173, 222; denies that any compromising letters were found, 178

Napier of Merchistoun, his contract as to gold-finding with Logan of
Restalrig, 171

Nesbit, William, of Newton, robbed by Logan, 158

Neville, recommends Gowrie to Cecil as a useful man, 130

Nicholson, George (English resident at the Court of Holyrood), his
account of James’s Falkland letter on the Gowrie case, 38; on Robert
Oliphant’s indiscretions of speech, 74; communicates to Cecil Oliphant’s
statement respecting Cranstoun and Henderson 75 note; refers to a book on
the Ruthven side published in England, 82; cites the King’s letter to the
Privy Council regarding the Gowrie plot, 100, 102; informs Cecil of
Gowrie’s conversion to Catholicism, 128

                                * * * * *

OLIPHANT of Bauchiltoun, brother of Robert, 77

Oliphant, Robert, identified by the first proclamation as the man in the
turret, 62; proves an alibi, 62, 72; his confidences to tailor Lyn anent
his foreknowledge of the Gowrie plot, 73; denounces the hanging of
Cranstoun, and affirms the guilt of Henderson, 75; avers that Gowrie
proposed to him in Paris the part offered to Henderson, 75; seeks to
divert Gowrie from his project, 75; his portable property seized by
Captain Heron, and himself imprisoned, 76; released by James and goes
abroad, 76; property subsequently restored, 77; his statement contrasted
with Henderson’s, 77; cited, 144

                                * * * * *

PADUA University, 126

Panton, Mr., on Henderson at Falkland, 64 note; his defence of the
Ruthvens, 80; refers to a contemporary vindication, 80

‘Papers relating to the Master of Gray,’ cited, 158

Paul, Sir James Balfour, on the Gowrie arms, 245

Perth, gathering of the burgesses of, before Gowrie House on the day of
the slaughter of the Ruthvens, 30, 32

Pitcairn, on Bruce’s interrogation of the King, 109; discovery and
publication of Logan of Restalrig’s alleged plot-letters, 169

Pittencrieff, Laird of, at Gowrie House on the day when the Ruthvens were
killed, 23

Popular contemporary criticism on the King’s narrative, 111–117

Preachers of Edinburgh, the, summoned before the Privy Council to hear
the King’s letter on the Gowrie plot read, 99, 100; desired by Montrose
to thank God for the King’s ‘miraculous delivery,’ 100; their reply to
that request, 100, 101; taken to task by James for refusing to thank God
for his delivery from a Gowrie ‘conspiracy,’ 101; their defence, 101,
102; James’s punishment of the recalcitrants, 102; before the King at
Stirling, 103–106; summon Gowrie home to be the leader of the Kirk, 140

Preston, sent by James to Elizabeth with his version of the Gowrie
affair, 96; his account to Sir William Bowes, 97 note

Primrose (Clerk of Council), attests the record of Sprot’s examination,
201, 210

Privy Council, Scottish, receipt of a letter from James containing an
account of the Gowrie plot, 99; the preachers summoned to hear it read,
and desired by the Chancellor to thank God in their churches for the
King’s escape, 99, 100; report to James that the preachers will not
praise God for his delivery, 101

                                * * * * *

RAID of Ruthven, the, 119

Ramsay, John, in attendance on James, 12; his share in the proceedings at
Gowrie House which led to the deaths of the Gowries, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27,
29, 31, 33, 53, 97; takes part in the slaughter of the Master of Ruthven,
26, 85; kills the Earl of Gowrie, 31

Ray, Andrew (a bailie of Perth), at Gowrie House on the day of the
slaughter of the Ruthvens, 21, 24

Restalrig House, 149, 150

Restalrig, Lady (Logan’s wife), 189; her agitation on the knowledge of
the Logan conspiracy, 204; blames Bower for the selling of Fastcastle,
204; her postscript to Logan’s letter to Bower after his death, 215;
distressed at Logan’s conduct, 220; her daughter by Logan, 220

Restalrig Loch, 149, 150

Restalrig village, 148, 149, 150, 151

‘Return from Parnassus,’ the, quoted, 126

Rhynd, Mr. (Gowrie’s tutor), at Padua with Gowrie, 126; at Gowrie House
when the Ruthvens were killed, 32; tells of the ride to Falkland, 45, 46;
gives the key of the gallery to the Master, 66; on Gowrie’s views as to
secrecy in plots, 144

Robertson, Rev. Mr. (Edinburgh preacher), accepts James’s narrative, 102

Robertson, William (notary of Perth), his evidence of what he saw near
the death chamber, 60, 61, 97

Roll of Scottish scholars at Padua, 126

Rollock, Mr. (tutor to Gowrie and the Master), 56, 124

Ruthven, Alexander, the Master of (Gowrie’s brother), attributed
relations with the Queen, 3; plot to seize the King, 7; _Lennox’s
version_ of events, 13 _et seq._; interviews James before the hunt in
Falkland Park, 13; induces the King to visit Perth, to see the pot of
gold coins, 14; his actions at Gowrie House after the King’s arrival, 19;
_observers’ accounts_ of the transactions which led to his death, 24–34;
stabbed by Ramsay, 26; _James’s own narrative_ of the affair, 35 _et
seq._; the King’s interview with the Master, 39; the cloaked man and the
lure of the pot of gold pieces, 39–42; his suggested project of
kidnapping James, 42; was accompanied by Henderson in his mission to
James at Falkland, 43, 44; alleged differences with his brother over the
Abbey of Scone, 48, 49; enjoins on James to keep the treasure a secret
from Gowrie, 49; conducts the King alone to view it, 50; duplicity in
securing this privacy, 51; suspicious conduct in locking doors of rooms
passed through, 51, 52, 53; threatens the King with a dagger, 55; James
harangues him and promises forgiveness, 56; goes to consult Gowrie,
leaving James in the custody of the man in the turret, 56; returns and
essays to bind the King’s hands with a garter, 58; struggles with the
King, 58; Ramsay enters and stabs him, 59; he is driven down stairs, and
killed by Erskine and Herries, 59; further _details given by Henderson_,
62 _et seq._; his message to Gowrie by Henderson from Falkland, 65; locks
Henderson in the turret, 66; Henderson’s narrative of the struggle with
the King, 66; words exchanged with James in the turret chamber, 68; the
‘promise,’ 68; question of his disarming, 69; romantic story of the
King’s discovery of the Queen’s ribbon round his neck, 132; gossip about
his relations with the Queen, 133

Ruthven, Alexander (cousin of the Earl of Gowrie), at the slaughter of
the Ruthvens, 29, 32; letter to Logan, 183, 184

Ruthven, Andrew, with the Master, at Gowrie House, on the day of the
slaughter, 43, 157; rides with the Master and Henderson to Falkland, 45,
64, 65; asserts the despatch of Henderson by the Master from Falkland to
acquaint Gowrie of the King’s coming, 45, 46, 145

Ruthven, Beatrice (Gowrie’s sister), Queen Anne’s favourite maid of
honour, 13, 124, 131

Ruthven, Harry, present at the slaughter of the Ruthvens, 29

Ruthven, Lord (Gowrie’s grandfather), his part in the murder of Riccio,

Ruthven, Mary (sister of Gowrie), married to the Earl of Atholl, 123

Ruthven, Patrick (Gowrie’s brother), 124

Ruthven, Sophia (sister of Gowrie), married to Lennox, 124

Ruthven Vindication, the contemporary, 80–93, 252–256

Ruthven, William (Gowrie’s brother), 124, 129

                                * * * * *

ST. TRIDUANA’S Chapel, 150, 151

Salisbury, Marquis of, in possession of genuine letters of Logan, viii,

Sanderson, William, on the Gowrie arms, 250

Scone, Abbey of, in the Gowrie inheritance, 48, 54

Scott, Rev. John, his Life of John, Earl of Gowrie, cited, 80 note, 248;
on the Gowrie arms and seal, 250, 251

Scott, Sir Walter, cited, 5

Scrymgeour, Sir James (Constable of Dundee), accused falsely by Sprot,

Smith, Rev. Alexander, on the Logan plot-letters, 242

Spottiswoode, Archbishop of Glasgow, his opinion of Sprot, 178; kept in
the dark as to the Logan letters, 179; present at Sprot’s examination,
176, 201, 210

Sprot (Logan of Restalrig’s law agent), arrested by Watty Doig, 162;
confesses that he knew beforehand of the Gowrie conspiracy, 162;
tortured, and in part recants, 162; persists in maintaining Logan of
Restalrig’s complicity in the Gowrie conspiracy, 163, 170; question of
his forgery of letters to prove Logan’s guilt, 170, 171; motive for
forging the letters, 172; confesses to the forgery in private
examinations, 173; records of those examinations in possession of the
Earl of Haddington, 173; letters quoted from memory by him, 175; the
indictment against him, 176, 177; Sir William Hart’s official statement
of his trial, 177, 178; use made by the prosecution of the Logan letters,
179; his tale of Logan’s guilt, 182; sources of his knowledge, 183, 184;
discrepancies in his statements, 184, 185; preachers present at his
confession of forgery, 186; his written deposition, 186; the cause for
which he forged, 187; his conflicting dates, 188; his account of Logan
and Bower’s scheme to get Dirleton, 189; excuses for the discrepancies in
his dates, 192; asserts that Logan let Bower keep his letter to Gowrie
for months, 195; steals that letter, 194; confesses to the forgery of
Logan’s letter to Bower, 195; and to that of Logan’s memorandum to Bower
and Bell, 196; blackmailing operations, 196, 197; forges receipts from
Logan to Heddilstane for blackmailing purposes, 199; his uncorroborated
charges, 202, 203; in the confidence of Logan, 204; his account of
Logan’s revels in London, 210; goes with Matthew Logan to Bower to give
answers to Logan’s letters, 211; denies that he had received promise of
life or reward, 214; reports an incriminating conversation with Matthew
Logan, 214; confesses forging, for blackmailing purposes, Logan’s letters
to Chirnside and the torn letter, 215; swears to the truth of his last
five depositions, 217; on Logan’s ship venture with Lord Willoughby, 219;
solemnly confesses to the forgery of the letters in Logan’s hand, 220;
details respecting the letter of Logan to Gowrie on which he modelled his
forgeries, 220, 221, 222, 223; the letter found in his kist, 224; copies
endorsed by him found among the Haddington MSS., 224, 225; oral
discrepancies, 225; tried and hanged at Edinburgh, 226; protestations on
the scaffold, 226; small effect of his dying confession on the Kirk
party, 227; motives which prompted his forgeries, 227–231

Stewart, Colonel, his part in the arrest and the conviction of Gowrie’s
father, 11, 120, 122; dreads Gowrie’s revenge, 140

                                * * * * *

‘THE Verie Manner of the Erll of Gowrie and his brother, their death,
&c.,’ a manuscript written in vindication of the Ruthvens, received by
Carey, and forwarded to Cecil, 81; conspectus of its arguments: Dr.
Herries shown the secret parts of Gowrie House a day or two before the
tragedy, 82; preparations by Gowrie’s retainers on the fatal day to
accompany him to Dirleton, 82; the visit of the Master to Falkland,
accompanied by Ruthven and Henderson, 83; the Master sends Henderson to
Gowrie with a message that the King will visit him ‘for what occasion he
knew not,’ 83; the Master tells Craigengelt that Abercromby brought the
King to Gowrie House to take order for his debt, 83, 84; James
accompanied to Perth by sixty horsemen, 84; Gowrie advertised of the
King’s approach by Henderson, 84; James meets Gowrie on the Inch of Perth
and kisses him, 85; a hurried dinner, 85; the keys of the house handed to
Gowrie’s retainers, 85; the slaughter of the Master in the presence of
four of James’s followers, 85; a servant of James brings the news that he
has ridden off, 85; Gowrie hears his Majesty call from the window that
the Master is killed by traitors and James himself in peril, 86; Gowrie
and Cranstoun alone permitted by James’s servants to enter the House, 86;
Sir Thomas Erskine’s dual _rôle_, 86; the true account of Gowrie’s death,
87; the question of Henderson’s presence at Falkland, 83, 87, 92;
derivation of the narrative, 87; on the payment by Gowrie of his father’s
debts, 87; points on which the narrative is false, 86–88; points ignored,
88, 89; presents a consistent theory of the King’s plot, 89; conflicting
statements, 89, 90, 91, 92; the detail of the locked door, 92

‘True Discourse,’ quoted on the doors leading to the turret, 52

‘True Discovery of the late Treason, the’ (unpublished MS.), on the
Gowrie family, 48

Tullibardine, Young, at the slaughter of the Earl of Gowrie, 28, 33;
effort to relieve the King, 60; helps to pacify the populace after the
tragedy, 88

Tytler, Mr., cited, on James VI, 5; on the King’s account of the Gowrie
tragedy, 41, 42; on Logan’s plot-letters, 169

                                * * * * *

URCHILL, present at the slaughter of the Gowries, 19

                                * * * * *

VINDICATION of the Ruthvens, the contemporary, 80 _et seq._, 252 _et

                                * * * * *

WALLACE, asks Sprot for silence on Logan’s conspiracy, 187

Watson, Rev. Alexander, on the Logan plot-letters, 242

Wilky, Alexander, surety for John Wilky not to harm tailor Lyn, 73, 74

Wilky, John, his pursuit of tailor Lyn for revealing Robert Oliphant’s
confidences respecting the Gowrie plot, 73, 74

Willoughby, Lord, kidnaps Ashfield, 139; his opinion of Logan of
Restalrig, 159; builds a ship for protection of English commerce, 218;
offers the venture to Cecil if subsidised by government, 218, 219; admits
Logan to the venture, 218, 219; dies suddenly on board his ship, 219

Wilson (Erskine’s servant), at the slaughter of the Ruthvens, 27, 30, 31,

                                * * * * *

YOUNGER, suspected as the man in the turret, 62

                                * * * * *

    _Spottiswoode & Co. Ltd. Printers_, _New-street Square_, _London_.


{0a}  Longmans, Green, & Co., 1871.

{7}  See _The Mystery of Mary Stuart_.  Longmans, 1901.

{12a}  Extracted from the Treasurer’s Accounts, July, August, 1600.  MS.

{12b}  The King’s Narrative, Pitcairn’s _Criminal Trials of Scotland_,
ii. 210.

{13}  The King’s Narrative, _ut supra_.  Treasurer’s Accounts, MS.

{14}  Lennox in Pitcairn, ii. 171–174.

{18}  The description is taken from diagrams in Pitcairn, derived from a
local volume of Antiquarian Proceedings.  See, too, _The Muses’
Threnodie_, by H. Adamson, 1638, with notes by James Cant (Perth, 1774),
pp. 163, 164.

{19}  Pitcairn, ii. 199.

{23}  The evidence of these witnesses is in Pitcairn, ii. 171–191.

{28} Cranstoun’s deposition in Pitcairn, ii. 156, 157.  At Falkland
August 6.

{30}  The adversaries of the King say that these men ran up, and were
wounded, _later_, in another encounter.  As to this we have no evidence,
but we have evidence of their issuing, wounded, from the dark staircase
at the moment when Cranstoun fled thence.

{38}  Quoted by Pitcairn, ii. 209.  The Falkland letter, as we show
later, was probably written by David Moysie, but must have been, more or
less, ‘official.’  Cf. p. 100, _infra_.

{40}  Many of these may be read in _Narratives of Scottish Catholics_, by
Father Forbes-Leith, S.J.

{42}  Carey to Cecil.  Berwick, _Border Calendar_, vol. ii. p. 677,
August 11, 1600.

{44a}  Deposition of Craigengelt, a steward of Gowrie’s, Falkland, August
16, 1600.  Pitcairn, ii. 157.

{44b}  Pitcairn, ii. p. 185.

{44c}  Pitcairn, ii. p. 179.

{45}  Barbé, p. 91.

{48a}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi.  No. 50.

{48b}  Mr. S. R. Gardiner alone remarks on this point, in a note to the
first edition of his great History.  See note to p. 54, _infra_.

{52a}  Apparently not Sir Thomas Hamilton, the King’s Advocate.

{52b}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi.  No. 51.

{53}  Pitcairn, vol. ii. p. 249.

{58}  Mr. Scott suggested that a piece of string was found by Balgonie.
The words of Balgonie are ‘ane gartane’—a garter.  He never mentions

{59}  According to a story given by Calderwood, Ruthven’s sword was later
found rusted in its sheath, but no authority is given for the tale.

{60}  Pitcairn, ii. 197.

{61a}  _The Tragedy of Gowrie House_, by Louis Barbé, 1887, p. 91.

{61b}  Mr. Barbé, as we saw, thinks that Robertson perjured himself, when
he swore to having seen Henderson steal out of the dark staircase and
step over Ruthven’s body.  On the other hand, Mr. Bisset thought that
Robertson spoke truth on this occasion, but concealed the truth in his
examination later, because his evidence implied that Henderson left the
dark staircase, not when Ramsay attacked Ruthven, but later, when Ruthven
had already been slain.  Mr. Bisset’s theory was that Henderson had never
been in the turret during the crisis, but had entered the dark staircase
from a door of the dining-hall on the first floor.  Such a door existed,
according to Lord Hailes, but when he wrote (1757) no traces of this
arrangement were extant.  If such a door there was, Henderson may have
slunk into the hall, out of the dark staircase, and slipped forth again,
at the moment when Robertson, in his first deposition, swore to having
seen him.  But Murray of Arbany cannot well have been there at that
moment, as he was with the party of Lennox and Mar, battering at the door
of the gallery chamber.—Bisset, _Essays in Historical Truth_, pp.
228–237.  Hailes, _Annals_.  Third Edition, vol. iii. p. 369.  Note

{63a}  _Privy Council Register_, vi. 149, 150.

{63b}  Pitcairn, ii. 250.

{64}  Mr. Panton, who, in 1812, published at Perth, and with Longmans, a
defence of the Ruthvens, is very strong on the improbability that
Henderson was at Falkland.  Why were not the people to whose house in
Falkland he went, called as witnesses?  Indeed we do not know.  But as
Mr. Panton looked on the King’s witnesses as a gang of murderous
perjurers, it is odd that he did not ask himself why they, and the King,
did not perjure themselves on this point.  (_A Dissertation on the Gowry
Conspiracy_, pp. 127–131.)

{67a}  Pitcairn, ii. 222, 223.

{67b}  Hudson to Cecil, Oct. 19,1600, Edinburgh.  State Papers, Scotland
(Elizabeth), vol. lxvi.  No. 78.

{69a}  _James Hudson to Sir Robert Cecil_.

    ‘. . .  I have had conference of this last acsyon, first wth the
    King, at lenght, & then wth Henderson, but my speache was first wth
    Henderson befoar the King came over the watter, betwixt whoame I
    fynde no defference but yt boath alegethe takinge the dager frome
    Alexander Ruthven, wch stryf on the one part maie seame to agment
    honor, & on the other to move mersy by moar merit: it is plaen yt the
    King only by god’s help deffended his owin lyff wel & that a longe
    tyme, or els he had lost it: it is not trew that Mr. Alex spok wth
    his brother when he went owt, nor that Henderson vnlokt the door, but
    hast & neglect of Mr. Alex, left it opin, wherat Sr Jhon Ramsay
    entrid, & after hime Sr Tho. Ereskyn Sr Hew Haris & Wilsone.  Yt it
    is not generally trustid is of mallice & preoccupassyon of mens mynds
    by the minesters defidence at the first, for this people ar apt to
    beleve the worst & loath to depart frome yt fayth.

    . . . .

    ‘Edinborow this 19 of October 1600.’

{69b}  Pitcairn, ii. 218.

{73}  _Privy Council Register_, vi. 671.

{74a}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi. No. 107.

{74b}  Cranstoun mentioned his long absence in France to prove that he
was not another Mr. Thomas Cranstoun, a kinsman of his, who at this time
was an outlawed rebel, an adherent of Bothwell (p. 155, _infra_).

{75}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi. No. 107.

                   ‘_George Nicolson to Sir Robert Cecil_.

    . . . . .

    ‘A man of Cannagate speaking that one Mr. Ro: Oliphant, lyeng at his
    house, should haue complayned and said that “there was no justice in
    Scotland, for favlters skaped fre and innocentis were punished.  Mr.
    Thomas Cranston was execute being innocent, and Henderson saued.
    That therle of Gowry had moued that matter to him (Oliphant) in Paris
    and here, that he had wth good reasons deverted him, that therle
    thereon left him and delt wth Henderson in that matter, that
    Henderson vndertooke it and yet fainted, and Mr. Thomas Cranston knew
    nothing of it and yet was executed.”  This I heare, and that this
    Oliphant that was Gowries servant is, vpon this mans speache of it,
    againe fled.  The heades of Gowry and his brother are sett vpon the
    tolebuthe here this day. . . . .

    ‘Edenb. the 5 of Decemb. 1600.’

{76}  The Captain was ‘a landless gentleman.’  His wife owned Ranfurdie,
and the Captain, involved in a quarrel with Menteith of Kers, had been
accused of—witchcraft!  The Captain’s legal affairs may be traced in the
_Privy Council Register_.

{77}  The proceedings of the English Privy Council at this point are
lost, unluckily.  The Scottish records are in _Privy Council Register_,
1608–1611, s.v. Oliphant, Robert, in the Index.

{80}  See the Rev. Mr. Scott’s _Life of John_, _Earl of Gowrie_.  Mr.
Scott, at a very advanced age, published this work in 1818.  He relied
much on tradition and on anonymous MSS. of the eighteenth century.

{81}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi. No. 52.  For the
document see Appendix B.

{83}  James himself, being largely in Abercromby’s debt, in 1594 gave him
‘twelve monks’ portions’ of the Abbacy of Cupar.—_Act. Parl. Scot._ iv.
83, 84.

{93}  Mr. Henderson, in his account of William, Earl of Gowrie, in the
_Dictionary of National Biography_, mentions ‘The Vindication of the
Ruthvens’ in his list of authorities.  He does not cite the source, as in
MS. or in print; and I know not whether he refers to ‘The Verie Manner
&c.,’ State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi. No. 52.  The theory
of Mr. Scott (1818) is much akin to that of ‘The Verie Manner,’ which he
had never seen.

{94}  Barbé, p. 124.

{96}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi. No. 64.

{97}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi. No. 64.

        _Sir William Bowes to Sir John Stanhope_, _Sept._ 2, 1600.

Sr I attending hir Mties embassadr toward Newcastle happened to meet wyth
Mr Preston then on his waie from his king to hir Mtie.  In renewing a
former acquaintance I found hym verie willing to possesse me wyth his
report of the death of Gowrie and his brother, in the circumstances
wherof sundrie thingis occurring hardlie probable I was not curious to
lett him see that wyse men wyth vs stumbled therat.  And therfor I
thought yt wysdom in the king to deliuer his honor to the warld and
especiallie to her Mtie.  And in this as in other albeit I am not
ignorant that the actions of princes must chalenge the Fairest
interpretation Yet because in deed truthe symplie canne doe no wrong And
that we owe or dearest and nearest truthes to or soueraygnes in this
matter so precisely masked lett me deliuer to youe what For myne own part
I doe belieue.

The King being readie to take horse was wythdrawen in discourse with the
Mr of Gowrie, a learned sweet and hurtles yong gentleman, and one other
attending.  Now were it by occasion of a picture (as is sayde) or
otherwise, speech happening of Earle Gowrie his father executed, the king
angrelie sayde he was a traitour, whereat the youth showing a greeved and
expostulatorie countenance and happelie Scot-like Woordis, the King,
seeing hymself alone and wythout weapon, cryed, Treason, Treason.  The Mr
abashed much to see the king so apprehend yt, whilest the king wold call
to the Lords, the Duke, Marre, and others that were attending in the
court on the king comming to horse, putt his hand with earnest
deprecations to staie the king, showing his countenance to them wythout
in that moode, immediatlie falling on his knees to entreat the King.  At
the K. sound of Treason, from out of the Lower Chamber hastelie running
Harris the physician Ramsey his page and Sr Thomas Erskyn came to where
the king was Where Ramsey runne the poore gentleman thorough, sitting as
is saide vpon his knees.

At this stirr the earle wyth his Mr Stablere and somme other, best
knowing the howse and the wayes, came first to the slaughter where
finding his brother dead and the king retyred (For they had perswaded hym
into a countinghouse) some fight beganne between the earle and the
others.  Mr Preston saies that vpon thar relation that the king was
slayne the earle shronke from the pursuyte, and that one of the afornamed
rushing sodainlee to the earle thrust hym through that he fell down and
dyed.  This matter seeming to haue an accidentall beginning, to gyve it
an honorable cloake is pursued wyth odious treasons coniurations &c.
imputed to the dead earle, wyth the death of the Mr Stabler, Wyth making
knyghtis the actors, And manye others such as I know are notified to you
long ere this.  The ministers as I heare are asked to make a thankgyving
to god, where they think more need of Fasting in Sackclothe and Ashes, to
the kingis much discontenting.  This I must not saie (as the scholers
terme yt) to be categoricallie true, but heupatheticallie {98} I take yt
so to be.  Wherevpon maie be inferred that as the death of the twoe First
maie be excused by tendering the verie showe of hazard to the King, so is
the making of religion and iustice cloakes to cover accidentall
oversightis a matter which both heaven and earth will iudge. . . .

From Bradley this 2de of Sept.

                       Yor poore Frend to commannd.

                                                             WILLM. BOWES.

{98}  Hypothetically?

{103}  Calderwood, vi. 84.

{104}  Pitcairn, ii. 248 _et seq._

{105a}  Calderwood, vi. 98.

{105b}  _Ibid._ vi. 130.

{107a}  Calderwood, vi. 147.

{107b}  _Ibid._ vi. 156.

{110}  Mr. Bruce appears to have gone to France in 1599–1600, to call
Gowrie home.  In a brief account of his own life, dictated by himself at
about the age of seventy (1624), he says, ‘I was in France for the
calling of the _Master_’ (he clearly means _Earl_) ‘of Gowrie’ (Wodrow’s
‘Life of the Rev. Robert Bruce,’ p. 10, 1843).  Calderwood possessed, and
Wodrow (_circ._ 1715) acquired, two ‘Meditations’ by Mr. Bruce of August
3, 4, 1600.  Wodrow promises to print them, but does not, and when his
book was edited in 1843, they could not be found.  He says that ‘Mr.
Bruce appears to have been prepared, in Providence,’ for his Gowrie
troubles, judging (apparently) by these ‘Meditations.’  But Mr. Henry
Paton has searched for and found the lost ‘Meditations’ in MS., which are
mere spiritual outpourings.  Wodrow’s meaning is therefore obscure.  Mr.
Bruce had great celebrity as a prophet, but where Wodrow found prophecy
in the ‘Meditations’ of August 3, 4, 1600, is not apparent (Wodrow’s
‘Bruce,’ pp. 83, 84.  Wodrow MSS., Advocates’ Library, vol. xliv. No.

{111}  Calderwood, vi. 49, 66–76.

{114}  Pitcairn, ii. 196.

{118}  Bain, _Calendar_, ii. 350; Nau, p. 59.

{121a}  _Form of certain Devices_, &c.  See _Papers relating to William_,
_Earl of Gowrie_, London, 1867, pp. 25–29.

{121b}  Form of examination and death of William, Earl of Gowrie.
British Museum, Caligula, c. viii. fol. 23.

{126}  Thorpe, _Calendar_, ii. 650

{127a}  _De Natione Anglica et Scota Juristarum Universitatis Patavinae_
Io. Aloys. Andrich.  Patavii, 1892, pp. 172, 173.

{127b}  Ottavio Baldi to the King, June 22, 1609.  Record Office.
Venice, No. 14, 1608–1610.  See _infra_, Appendix A, ‘Gowrie’s Arms and

{128a}  Gowrie’s letters of 1595 are in Pitcairn.

{128b}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxiii. No. 85.

                       G. Nicolson to Sir Robert Cecil.

                                           Edinborough, 25 December, 1598.

    . . . . .

    ‘I heare Gowry is become a papist.  But the K. takes little care to
    this, And yet sure it importes him most to se to it, vnlest he
    accompt otherwais of it than he hath cause, except he haue other
    pollicy than I will conjecture.’  Compare Galloway’s sermon, in
    Pitcairn, ii. 249, and _A Short Discourse_, ii. 231, 232.

{129a}  Simancas, iv. pp. 653, 654, 677, 680, 715.

{129b}  Compare note, p. 110, _supra_.

{130a}  _Winwood Memorials_, pp. 1, 156.  Hudson to Cecil.  State Papers,
Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi. No. 19.

{130b}  _Border Calendar_, vol. ii.  May 29, 1600.  Carey to Cecil.

{131a}  The whole proceedings are printed in Arnot’s _Criminal Trials_.

{131b}  Nicholson to Cecil, June 22, June 29, 1600.  Tytler, vol. ix. pp.
325, 326, 1843.

{131c}  This date I infer from Cranstoun’s statement.  On August 5 he had
scarcely seen the Ruthvens, to speak to, for a fortnight.

{133}  _Border Calendar_, vol. ii. p. 698, Oct. 21, 1600.  Carey to

{134a}  Calderwood, vi. 71.

{134b}  A defender of Gowrie, Mr. Barbé, has the following ‘observes’
upon this point.  It has been asserted by Calderwood that, ‘while the
Earl was in Strathbraan, fifteen days before the fact’ (say July 20),
‘the King wrote sundry letters to the Earl, desiring him to come and hunt
with him in the wood of Falkland, which letters were found in my lord’s
pocket, as is reported, but were destroyed.’  Mr. Barbé then proves that
letters _were_ sent to Gowrie and Atholl in the last days of July.  It is
certain that a letter was sent to Gowrie about July 20, possibly a
sporting invitation, not that there was any harm in an invitation to join
a hunting party.  James is next accused of ‘trying to stifle the rumour’
about this ‘letter,’ by a direct denial.  This means that Craigengelt,
Gowrie’s caterer, was asked whether he knew of any man or boy who came to
Gowrie from Court, and said that he did not, a negative reply supposed to
have been elicited by the torture to which Craigengelt was certainly
subjected.  We only know that at the end of July letters were sent to
Gowrie, to Inchaffray, to Atholl, and to Ruthven.  Whether his reached
Gowrie or not, and what it contained, we cannot know.

{137}  _Privy Council Register_, vi. 194.

{140a}  Cf. p. 110, note.

{140b}  _Border Calendar_, i. 491.

{142}  _Tragedy of Gowrie House_, pp. 29, 31.

{147}  As to Bothwell’s whereabouts, in 1600, he left Brussels in March,
nominally to go to Spain, but, in June, the agent of the English
Government in the Low Countries was still anxious to hear that he had
arrived in Spain.  When he actually arrived there is uncertain.  Compare
Simancas, iv. p. 667, with State Papers, Domestic (Elizabeth)
(1598–1600), p. 245, No. 88, p. 413 (March 24, April 3, 1600), p. 434,
May 30, June 9, p. 509.  Cecil meant to intrigue with Bothwell, through
Henry Locke, his old agent with Bothwell’s party, Atholl, and Gowrie
October 1593).  Compare _infra_, p. 160.

{152}  _Privy Council Register_, ii. 217, 218.

{153}  _Privy Council Register_, ii. 622, 699.

{155a}  _Privy Council Register_, vi. 73, 74.

{155b}  State Papers, Scotland (Elizabeth), vol. lxvi. No. 13, No. 21.

{156}  _Hatfield Calendar_, viii. 147, 399.

{157}  For these letters of Logan’s, see _Hatfield Calendar_, vols. iii.
iv. under ‘Restalrig,’ in the Index.

{158}  _Privy Council Register_, vol. v., s. v. ‘Logan’ in the Index.

{159}  _Border Calendar_, vol. ii.  Willoughby to Cecil, January 1, 1599.

{160a}  Pitcairn, ii. 405–407.

{160b}  See Thorpe’s _Calendar_, vol. ii., s. v. ‘Mowbray, Francis’ in
the Index.

{161}  He had sold Nether Gogar in 1596.

{162}  Some of the papers are in the General Register House, Edinburgh.

{164}  The evidence for all that occurred to Sprot, between April and
July 1608, is that of a manuscript _History of the Kirk of Scotland_, now
in the Advocates’ Library.  It is written in an early seventeenth-century
hand.  Calderwood follows it almost textually up to a certain point where
the author of the MS. history says that Sprot, on the scaffold, declared
that he had no promise of benefit to his family.  But Calderwood
declares, or says that others declare, that Sprot was really condemned as
a forger (which is untrue), but confessed to the Gowrie conspiracy in
return for boons to his wife and children.

We have, of course, no evidence that anything was done by Government, or
by any one, for Mrs. Sprot and the children.  The author of the MS.,
which Calderwood used as he pleased, avers that Sprot denied on the
scaffold the fact that he had any promise.  Neither draft nor official
account confirms the MS. history on the point of no promise.  The
official _draft_ of his last moments (from its interlineations, each
signed by the Clerk of Council) appears to have been drawn up on the
spot, or hurriedly, as soon as Sprot was dead.  This is the aspect of the
_draft_ of the account; the official _printed_ account says that there
was ‘no place of writing on the scaffold, in respect of the press and
multitude of people’ (Pitcairn, ii. 261).

{169}  Vol. ii. pp. 282–7.

{170}  Letter I is a peculiar case, and was not, perhaps, spoken of by
Sprot at all.

{183}  Laing, _Charters_, Nos. 1452, 1474–76, 2029.

{198}  _Hatfield Calendar_, iv. 659.

{199a}  Pitcairn, iii.  Appendix vii.

{199b}  _Border Calendar_, i. 486, 487.

{202}  Thorpe, ii. 614, 616, 617.  _Border Calendar_, i. 457.

{203}  _Privy Council Register_, viii. 150–2, 605.

{206a}  Pitcairn, ii. 287, _n_ 2.

{206b}  Neville to Cecil, Paris, Feb. 27, 1600.  Willoughby to Cecil,
Berwick, April 22, 1600.  _Winwood Memorials_, p. 166.  _Border
Calendar_, ii. 645.

{217}  The peculiarities of spelling are those recognised as Logan’s, and
easily imitated by the forger.

{221}  He had not the letter before him at this moment, and may have

{222}  Spottiswoode, vol. iii. pp. 274, 282.

{224}  Cromarty, _An Historical Account_, _&c._, 92 (1713).

{227a}  Calderwood, vi. 780.

{227b}  In the Auchendrane case (1615), the public, partisans of the
murderers, wished the only witness to be hanged, just to see if he would
persevere in his confession.

{239}  _Melrose Papers_, vol. i. pp. 72, 73.

{243a}  Pitcairn, ii. 289–290.

{243b}  _Ibid._ ii. 292.

{247}  _State Papers_, Venice, R.O., No. 14, 1608–10.  Hill Burton,
_History of Scotland_, vol. vi. pp. 135, 136.  Note.  Edition of 1870.

{248}  This information I owe to Mr. Anderson, with the reference to
Crawfurd, and other details.

{249}  Burnet’s _History of his Own Time_, vol. i. pp. 24, 25, mdccxxv.

{250a}  _Papers relating to William_, _first Earl of Gowrie_, p. 30.
(Privately printed, 1867.)

{250b}  Sanderson, p. 226.

{251a}  Scott, pp. 282, 284.

{251b}  _Border Calendar_, vol. i. p. 491.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "James VI and the Gowrie Mystery" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.