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III.

REPLY TO MR RIDDELL's THEORY THAT THE GRANT OF ARMS BY JAMES V. TO SCOTT OF THIRLESTANE IS FOUNDED ON

FORGERY ANTIQUITIES OF THE SCOTTS OF HOWPASLOT AND

THIRLESTANE.

In consequence of the marriage of Sir William Scott of Thirlestane to the heiress of Napier in 1699, their eldest son, Francis fifth Lord Napier, quartered his maternal coat, the Lennox arms of Merchiston, with the royal augmentation granted in 1542 to John Scott of Thirlestane by James V. This grant was a reward for singular loyalty, and has been doubly endeared to the family in modern times, by the beautiful verse devoted to the incident in the Lay of the Last Minstrel. First and foremost in the gathering for Buccleuch,—

"From fair St Mary's silver wave,

From dreary Gamescleugh's dusky height,

His ready lances Thirlestane brave
Array'd beneath a banner bright;

The tressured fleur-de-luce he claims

To wreathe his shield, since royal James,

Encamp'd by Fala's mossy wave,

The proud distinction grateful gave
For faith 'mid feudal jars;

What time, save Thirlestane alone,

Of Scotland's stubborn barons none
Would march to southern wars;

And hence, in fair remembrance worn,

Yon sheaf of spears his crest adorn,

Hence his high motto shines revealed,
'Ready, aye ready,' for the field."

Sir Walter in his notes to this verse quotes from Lord Napier's charter-chest the precise words of what he conceived to be the original warrant, for this armorial augmentation, addressed at Fala by James V. to the Lord Lyon. Nesbit" also quotes the document without remarking that it bears unequivocal appearances of being a transcript merely, and not an accurate one. Mr Pinkerton, in his History of Scotland, says that James V. marched to Fala in the month of October 1542, and adds in a note this remark, “Nesbit in his Heraldry produces a charter to John Scot of Thirlestane, granting an addition to his arms, and the motto ready ay ready, to reward the support of the King at Soutra, when all the other chiefs desired to retreat. It is dated at Fala Moor, 27th July 1542, an error in the date, or a forged charter.” He had not examined this document, however, and it is unbecoming in any historian thus vaguely to conjecture forgery. Francis Lord Napier, in his genealogy of Napier, published in Wood's Peerage, met the hasty insinuation with the following remark. “This warrant (says his Lordship) had been long considered as an original. Pinkerton started doubts of its authenticity from the date July 1542, as it was not till October that the King marched to Fala Moor; and on a narrow inspection of the charter in the possession of Lord Napier, it appears to be only a copy with an error in the date by the transcriber. The grant certainly took place, as the augmentation and motto, as described in the charter, are borne by the family at the present day.” In reference to this subject, Mr Riddell suddenly flies off from his critique of the antiquities of Merchiston, in

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to a strange appeal to the attention of the public, involving a censure of the author for his ill-judged choice of a biographical subject in the Memoirs of Merchiston. “After all, however,” (he exclaims,) “it must still be remembered, that the biographer of Merchiston, and his chief, are only Napiers in the female line; and it may be observed, that they perhaps might have a better soil to work upon, if they investigated into the descent of their male ancestors, the Scotts of Thirlestane; these Scotts, there is ground to conclude, are a branch of the Buccleuch family, from whom they may have sprung about the middle of the fifteenth century; and there is a historical incident connected with them that is singular and curious; they bear, as is well known, the double tressure, a part of the royal insignia, round their arms, with other additions, in consequence, as is said, of the striking loyalty of an ancestor to James V. which is commemorated by Sir Walter Scott.” Having delivered this admirable reason for preferring memoirs of Thirlestane to those of the Inventor of Logarithms, our antiquary notices the document in question, Pinkerton's remark upon it, and Lord Napier's reply. He then brings forward the following valuable record, which had been lost sight of by the family. “The author some years ago discovered in his Majesty's State Paper Office a warrant by King William, under the sign-manual, dated 18th December 1700, which throws further light upon the subject, and shows under what title the high privilege alluded to is now enjoyed by the family. The authority sets forth that the Lyon had represented to his Majesty, ‘That John Scott of Thirlestain, great-grandfather to Sir Francis Scott, now of Thirlestain, having assisted our royal progenitor James the V. King of Scotland, at Sautrey edge, with a troop

of launcers of his friends and followers, and was ready to march into England against the English then invading Scotland, his said Majesty, as a reward of his good and faithful service, authorised and gave warrant to his Lyon King of armes to give the said John Scott a bordure of flower-de-lis, siclike as in the royall bearing, a bundle of lances for his crest, and two men armed with jacks and steel bonnets, with lances in their hands for supporters. Of the truth of all which our said Lyon King of armes is fully satisfied from good testimony, and an old inventory of the writs and evidents of that family produced by him, wherein the foresaid warrant is fully deduced, but beiring that the principal wryt itselfe cannot be found, without which, or a new warrant under our royal hand, he is not at freedom to assign to the said Francis the double tressure, as born in our arms of Scotland ; and wee being willing to gratify and honor the heirs and representatives of all loyall and valorous progenitors, and to bestow a mark of our royall favor upon the said Sir Francis Scott, for good and faithful services done, and to be done by him to us ; therefore, we hereby authorize and order our Lyon King at armes, in our said ancient kingdom of Scotland, to add to the paternal coat of armes of the said Sir Francis Scott, a double tressure flowered and contre-flowered with flower-de-lis, as in our royal armes of Scotland, and to give him crest, supporters, and other exterior ornaments, as is above exprest, or as to him shall seem most proper.' "*

The claim, then, had been investigated, and admitted by the proper and highest authorities in the year 1700. Nor could it be imagined that Mr Riddell, after his complimentary introduction to this proof, meant any thing

* Tracts, p. 140, et infra. else than honour to Thirlestane. Not so, however. His aim in the whole of his tangled web of criticism is to leave the same species of imputation upon the Thirlestane quarters of the Merchiston armorial bearings, that he had previously attempted to cast upon the Lennox quarters,—namely, suspicions of falsehood, fraud, and wilful imposition against some person or persons unknown,—a most convenient mode of accusation, which . neither commits him in a proof, nor renders him amenable to an individual. Accordingly, in the following somewhat flighty strain, he comments upon his own discovery.

"It must be confessed, upon the whole, that there is something suspicious in this transaction. There was hence, more than a century ago, no proper warrant or authority for the alleged grant in 1542,—merely an inventory is referred to, and, after all, it is not likely that either there or in a copy, so palpable an error as was detected by Pinkerton,—and countenancing the idea of forgery—should have been committed. Independently, too, of the unauthorized interpolation of supporters in the grant in 1700, of which there is no mention in the supposed warrant in 1542, the wording of the latter may not be altogether satisfactory; but, be this as it may, the homologatory act, or new concession, as it proceeds directly from the sovereign, must be held of itself to be quite sufficient, and fully to vest in the family the transcendent privilege in question. The use of these arms in modern times to which the late Lord Napier appeals, will not, therefore, prove the authenticity of the warrant in 1542, as that may be ascribed to an intervening circumstance, of which his Lordship was unaware. It would truly be curious, and perhaps no inferior test, to ascertain what were the armorial bearings of theScotts

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