« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
Gleneagles papers, and they fully instruct that such was his line of argument.* His leading plea is the infrac
* "My Lords, thir ar the resonis that I, John of Haldane of Glenegass, and James Hal'dane, my son and apperand air, allegis for us; That the personis that past upon the serving of the brieve purchest be Johonne Lord Dernely of the half Erledome of the Levenax, as the said John had cummyng of the eldest sister, that thai have ariit (erred,) wranguisly decernit, and unorderly and partially deliverit in the serving of the said brieve.
"Item, in primis, It was not unknawing to the saidis personis that I, Johne of Haldane, was infefthit be charter and saysingof the quarter of the Erledom of the Levenax, the superioritie of the said erledome, with tenand and tenandry, with donacioun and presentatioun of chapellys and kirks, likas the saide feftment sufficientlie purportis ; the quhilk inquest has not differit thairto,' &c.
"Item, My Lordis, in the time of the serving of the saide breve, I was in my Sovrane Lordis speciall service," &c.
"Item, My Lordis, I, Agnes of Menteth, spouse to the said Johne, allegis for me, that suppose my husband had not been infeft be our Soverane Lordis Hienes of the superioritie of the said erledome, that thai have erriit and partially deliverit, that said, that the saide Johne come of the eldest dochtir of Erle Duncan, suppose that had been a poynt of the breve, as it was nane; for it is weill knawing to your Lordschippis-and to the maist part of the realme, that I come of the etdest sister, and the said Johne of the youngest, and to that nedis nane uthir pref, for the law sais, cum notorium est non incumbit probari."
"Item, My Lordis, it is weill knawing to your Lordschippis, that the said Johne Lord Dernely has divers tymes preferrit to me and my husband, for the superiorite of the said erledome, before the serving of the said breve, and be part of them that was upon it, contentatioun of landis and money for the said superiorite of the erledome." The reasons then go on to complain that the jury was packed of Dernely's friends, relations, and dependents, and that the sheriff had not done his duty in terms of law.—Gleneagles Papers.
There is no plea in these reasons which absolutely asserts that Agnes Menteith was the elder daughter of Sir Murdoch ; and notwithstanding Haldane's sweeping claims to the superiorities, Elizabeth Menteith sold her right and interest in the same to Dernely. tion of the royal letters of protection. His leading proof, with regard to his interest and rights in the Coniitatus, is his own special charter tanquam primo et princijudi. His utmost demand is certain superiorities which he argued those expressions inferred a grant of. Then as a secondary plea, to meet and neutralize Dernely's unblushing pretension of primogeniture, Agnes Menteith is made to urge,—not expressly that she was Countess of Lennox, as representing Earl Duncan's eldest coheiress,—but, more vaguely, that, independently of Haldane's interest on his own charter, the jury who served Lord Dernely had erred in saying he was come of the elder daughter of Earl Duncan, it being notorious that Haldane's spouse was come o^the elder daughter.
But had that gentleman been married to the eldest coheiress of Husky, then, since he determined to compete with the powerful Dernely, and to put forth his wife's pretensions at all, his mode of pleading would have been reversed. His leading plea would have been the right of his lady to the earldom. His subsidiary plea would have been upon his own right of courtesy, and upon his own charter as an acknowledgment of that right.
As for the contentations, which, it is said, Dernely offered at various times to Haldane, and the stress laid in the memorial upon the contract of excambion which silenced his opposition, that plea is neutralised by the fact, that Elizabeth Menteith in like manner received a compensation for all her rights of superiority in the fief, in that contract of excambion from which the very same inferential argument can be extracted in her fa
The fact is, as will be proved in a subsequent chapter, that Haldane was inclined upon every occasion to treat the rights of his wife's sister as if no such person existed.
vour that is said to arise to Gleneagles from Dernely's contract with Haldane.
It is remarkable that, after the reduction of his service and infeftment in 1475, Dernely never attempted to renew it. He never afterwards submitted his plea of consanguinity in the usual form to an inquest, nor did he take out any pleadable brief to get the better of that counter plea of possession of the superiorities which Haldane urged against him. He endeavoured to obtain a settlement of the matter by a private submission to certain noblemen, most of whom were his own particular friends," and the question to be submitted to them was, " anent the debatis of the superiorite of the Erledome of Levenax, which debatis dependis upon the ages of umquhile Elizabeth and Margaret, the dochteris lauchful of umquhile Duncan Earl of Levenax; that is to say, whether the said Elizabeth, grandame to the said Johne Lord Dernely, or Margaret, grandam to the said Agnes, was elder and first borne of their modir." A submission to this effect was entered into between Dernely and Gleneagles, without any mention of the correlative rights of Merchiston, on the 21st June 1477. This was continued of consent of parties to the 21st of January following, and again continued to the 15th of February.* This submission fell to the ground without any decision or result. Another private arrangement to the same effect between Dernely and Gleneagles was equally inconsequential, though an award of a very extraordinary nature is said to have been pronounced upon it in 1491, as will be more particularly noticed in considering Dernely's claim of primogeniture. The whole result, however, of this contention, was the contract of excambion
* Gleneagles Papers.
in 1493, by which the Gleneagles branch of the succession just ranks in the settlement pari passu with Merchiston.
It is an entire mistake, then, to suppose that the state of the process we have considered establishes the fact of the primogeniture of Agnes Menteith over Elizabeth. On the contrary, the details of it rather afford an inference that Haldane was unable to take ground so high.
THAT JOHN LORD DERNELY HAD NO OTHER RIGHT TO THE HONOURS OK LENNOX THAN WHAT HE OBTAINED THROUGH THE CONTRACTS OF EXCAMBION LEGAL EFFECT OF THOSE CONTRACTS.
There was nothing, even in the state of the times, to defeat Lord Dernely's assumption of the dignity of Len-~ nox,—inheriting as he did a double portion of the fief, and being already a peer of Parliament,—had he really been the representative of Earl Duncan's second daughter. The law, on the subject of female succession to titles of honour, was well understood, and, however apt to be disregarded by the powerful to the prejudice of a weaker party, where might and right were combined no one could pretend to dispute it. Nor was it indifference on the part of Dernely that delayed his aggrandizement. He thirsted for the Earldom of Lennox, and left no means untried to acquire it. Yet, after his service was exposed and destroyed by the technical pleas of a private party, who made no attempt to assume the title, Dernely suffered it to remain in abeyance for thirteen years. Had he not been conscious of an inferior right, he would have obtained new brieves,—he would have disregarded John Haldane's charter of a quarter of the fief, though granted to him tanquam primo et principali,—he would have dared him to a competition with the rightful and powerful heir of the dignity,—and he would have asserted, and proved in the face of his