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schippes, that I may have your lettres direct to your said shireffis to keip me in the said landis that is dividit and assignit to me for my parte, after the forme of the division maid therapon; and to discharge the saidis shireffis, and shireffis in that parte quhasumevir, of the intrometting therwith, sen thai ar devidit be the full consent of the said porcioneris as said is, and your gracious answer herapon at the reverence of God."
Upon this petition the Lady of Rusky obtains, of the same date, royal letters narrating the cause of her complaint, and commanding the sheriffs to protect her in her possessions. Accordingly, in the subsequent division of the earldom between Dernely and Haldane, a special clause is inserted in all the deeds connected therewith, excluding from that division thequarter of the fief already allotted to Elizabeth Menteith, and fully admitting her right therein.
4. It is remarkable that there are some indications of this disposition of the family of Gleneagles, to usurp the rights of Merchiston, even in the following century, and not long before the period of the act of transference, in 156a, of the alleged contract in 1485. The earldom of Lennox fell into the hands of the sovereign by the temporary forfeiture of Mathew Stewart, fourth Earl of that race, in 1545. The Napiers of Merchiston, as we have seen, held of those Earls the lands of Blairnavaidis, Isle of Inchmore, &c. by way of excambion for the rights of superiority belonging to Elizabeth Menteith in the Lennox. It would appear that the then Haldane of Gleneagles, probably taking advantage of the confusion of the times, and the minority of Archibald Napier, (great-great-grandson of Elizabeth Menteith, and father of the philosopher,) had obtained a grant of Blairnavaidis, &c. to the exclusion of the Merchiston family. In the year 1558, however, before the Earl of Lennox was restored, and shortly after the marriage of Queen Mary to the Dauphin, that princess issued a charter revoking the grant to Gleneagles, and reinstating the family of Merchiston in their patrimonial rights. The precept of seisin under the Great Seal of Mary is dated 14th July 1558, and narrates that the lands of " Blairnavaidis, eister and wester, with the Isle of Inchmone, and the right of fishing over the whole of the lake of Lochlowmond,&c. which belonged to Archibald Napier, holding of Mathew late Earl of Lennox, and which have fallen into our hands by reason of escheat and process of forfeiture against the said Mathew, and which after the decree of forfeiture we, in our minority, had granted by charter under our Great Seal to James Haldane of Gleneagles, his heirs and assignees, and which lands and islands having again fallen into our hands by reason of our general revocation, made in our last Parliament, and we considering that the predecessors of the said Archibald Naper had obtained the said lands in excambion from the predecessors of the said Mathew late Earl of Lennox, and in order that they may have regress to their first excambion, and also because the said Archibald and his predecessors were in no manner of way participators in the crimes of the said Earl, but were innocent of the same, and have in all times past faithfully obeyed the authority of our realm, even to death, and have, under the standard of our dearest grandfather, and under our own standard, in the battles of Flowdoun and Pinkie, been slain;—therefore, and for other good causes moving us, we, after our general revocation in Parliament, have of new given and granted to the said Archibald Naper of Merchamstoun, his heirs
and assignees, the said lands of Blairnavaidis, eister and wester, isle, fishing," &c.
After all this evidence it may be doubted if the confused and futile remnant of the process of transference pointed out by Mr Riddell could have those great consequences in the question of the right to the earldom of Lennox, which he anticipates, even supposing there was no proof of primogeniture to place against it. It might be conceded, (though it is not proved,) that in 1562, arriong the Gleneagles papers and processes, contracts, so called, may have been discovered, in which the rights of the eldest portioner were claimed; but, after the details given above, probably the reader will require evidence that such contracts were actually successful and fulfilled, before the expressions contained in them obtain the slightest credit.
We have now to consider the evidence in favour of Merchiston, derived from the possession of the messuages, which affords so complete a refutation of any argument that may be supposed to arise out of the act of transference; and which, Mr Riddell himself declares, occasions when contrasted with the latter evidence, " a kind of puzzle that is perplexing." But that learned antiquary has not fully brought out the value of this evidence for Merchiston. He only observed in the record of the Great Seal, the possession of the messuages by Archibald Napier subsequent to the death of his mother the Lady of Rusky, and he speaks very cautiously of what he is pleased to call " the seeming possession of the messuagium or mansion by the Napiers in 1512, and 1572, while the Haldanes, previous to the last date, claimed the principal chemise or messuage, if not actually entitled to it,"—thus depreciating as far as possible the
fact for Merchiston, and giving more than its due weight to the inference for Gleneagles arising out of the fragment discovered in the records of session. I shall therefore proceed to show, that there can be no question that Elizabeth Menteith was by right of inheritance in possession of the messuages or mansions of the Rusky estates, that she transmitted them to her son, from whom they passed in lineal male descent to the Inventor of Loga
rithms. 1. Archibald Napier obtained a charter under the
Great Seal, dated 23d October 1507, of half of the lands of Rusky, half of the lands of Thom, half of the lands of the three Lanarkynis, half of the lands of Cowlach, called Sauchinthom, with all the pertinents and privileges thereof. This charter proceeds upon the resignation of those lands by his mother into the hands of the King, who confers them by this new charter upon Archibald, and incorporates with them in the same charter the lands of Cailzemuck, with the fishings in the water of Teth and lake of Gudy (stagno de Gudy,) which latter property pertained to Archibald himself as heir of his father the late John Naper of Merchamstoun. In all the repetitions of the lands of Rusky, &c. enumerated in the deeds connected with this transaction, the messuages are named, “cum mansionibus omnium dictarum terrarum ;” all which lands, mansions, fishings, woods, &c. it is declared, belonged by right of inheritance to Elizabeth Menteith, “...fuerunt dicte Elizabeth hereditarie;” and were resigned by her in the King's hands to be given to Archibald Naper “heredi apparenti Elizabeth Menteith Domina de Rusky, matris sue.” This connects the messuages, possessed by the family of Merchiston in the Menteith, with the inheritance of Elizabeth Lady of Rusky.
2. Two years after this, Archibald Naperobtained another charter, upon his own resignation, of the Lennox and Menteith estates, to be incorporated into one free barony. The charter is dated 21st May 1509, and seisin followed thereon 3d December 1509. In these deeds the messuages are still more particularly mentioned in all the repetitions of the Rusky estates; dimedietatem terrarum de Rusky cum messuagio, dimedietate lacuum, &c.—dimedietatem terrarum de Thom,—dimedietatem terrarum de tribus Lanerkynnis-cum manerio et messuagio infra dictas terras de Thom nunc vocato Barnysdale per dictum Archibaldum et matrem suam de novo edificato.” This also proves that Elizabeth Menteith had been in possession of the messuages, and that that lady and her son had rebuilt or repaired the ancient messuage of the lands of Thom.
3. Another charter of the barony, in favour of Alexander, son and heir of Archibald Naper, dated 21st June 1512, in like manner describes the lands and pertinents; “dimedietate omnium terrarum de Rusky cum messuagio, manerio, dimedietate lacus, &c.—dimedietate terrarum de Thom,-dimedietate terrarum de tribus Lanerkynnis, &c. cum manerioetmessuagio infra dictasterras de Thom nunc Barnysdale vocato per dictum Archibaldum et quondam Elizebetham Menteith matrem suam de novo edificato; cum domibus, pomeriis, lie outsettis et pertinentiis.”
4. After the death of Sir Alexander Napier at Flodden, his son and heir, Alexander, was infeft in the barony of Edinbelly, and in his seisin there is the same enumeration of messuages, &c. “de dimedietate omnium terrarum de Rusky cum messuagio, manerio, dimedietate lacus,” &c. “de dimedietate terrarum de Thom, de dimedietate terrarum de tribus Lanerkynnis, &c. cum ma