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IN the #ppendix to the Memoirs of Merchiston there is a reply to * Tytler's controversial note in his History of Scotland regarding Sir John Menteith, prefaced by the following sentence: “The family of Rusky, the honours of whose eldest coheiress descended to Napier, flowed from Sir John de Menteith, second son to Walter Earl of Menteith, who was third son of Walter, High Steward of Scotland. This lineal ancestor of our Philosopher has been most groundlessly maligned, and to remove an idle calumny from the honourable house of Menteith is to clear history of a blot and a fable.”. The object of the historical examination being, as said, to remove an idle calumny from the family of Menteith, a coheiress of which family the Inventor of Logarithms unquestionably represented, it matters little to the propriety of its insertion in the Memoirs, whether the Sir John Menteith in question was the linealancestor of our Philosopher or not. His lineal ancestor, Walter Menteith of Rusky, Thom, &c. was undoubtedly the son of a Sir John Menteith, for there is a charter “Murdaci Comitis de Menteth, filius Domini Alexandri Comitis de Menteth terrarum de Thom in Comitat. de Menteth, Waltero de Menteth, filio quondam Domini Johannis de Menteth.” Upon a chronological consideration of the matter, nothing is more natural to suppose than that Sir John Menteith, mentioned above as Walter's father, was
the Sir John in question. It is not impossible, however, that Crawfurd the Peerage writer may be accurate in saying that Sir John, the father of Walter of Rusky, was the son of Earl Alexander, and consequently the brother, instead of the uncle, of Earl Murdac who grants the charter of Thom to Walter. I was not prepared, however, to accede to this latter theory, for the best edition of the Scottish Peerage (Mr Wood's,) gives the Rusky genealogy as adopted in the Memoirs, which appears to be consistent with chronology, and in the laborious antiquarian history of Stirlingshire, both Mr Nimmo, and the Rev. Mr M'Gregor Stirling who so ably re-edited the work, state without any expression of doubt that Menteith, the maligned, who was the brother of Earl Alexander, was Sir John Menteith of Rusky. Mr Riddell would have conferred an obligation had he substituted a certain and accurate descent while he" disproved this. But he has done neither one nor other. He "proves that Sir John Menteith, the maligned, was at some period'of his long life married to Elyne Mar, whose male issue failed, and upon this solitary fact he triumphs as having utterly annihilated the Rusky genealogy. Without pausing to investigate this matter more closely, which requires illustration, we may venture to remind the author of the Tracts that, although it be not allowable hastily to assume a second marriage for the mere purpose of founding a new genealogy, yet, on the other hand, a received genealogy, founded on the plausible evidence to which we have pointed, is neither destroyed nor disturbed by proving a separate marriage previously unknown. Under the circumstances, the inadmissible assumption is on the part of the author of the Tracts. Sir John Menteith married Elyne Mar who had no male representative,—ergo, Sir John Menteith (Walter's father) of the same chronology, of the same family, and admitted in the best genealogical histories to be the same man, could not have been the same man, because the presumption is against his having been twice married. Such is Mr Riddell's reasoning on this matter, upon which he grows so merry as to enact the Bachelor Samson Carrasco against the .author of the Memoirs, whom he likens to Don Quixote. But he must get a better horse, and new armour, and try it again.
Equally unfortunate is our antiquary's heraldic excursus against the author of the Memoirs. We had said that Sir George Mackenzie and Nesbit hastily and unscientifically assumed that Napier of Merchiston's Lennox shield displayed the sole arms of Elizabeth Menteith, who was coheiress and representative of her father's distinguished family of Menteith, as well as of the Lennox, and who, therefore, must rather be supposed to have carried some insignia of Menteith, in conjunction with Lennox. The instances which the learned author of the Tracts adduces to overbear this view are, that of the Duchess-Countess of Sutherland, who suffers her inferior descent from Adam Gordon to be armorially lost in her Comitatus of Sutherland; and the other instance is that of the heir of line of the royal family of Spain. These tremendous examples do not prove it to have been likely that when Elizabeth Menteith succeeded to a quarter of the Lennox, but without taking up the title, and to half of the Rusky estates, she discarded all insignia of Menteith, the name she bore. "If the learned gentleman had looked round for a moment," he would have seen that Haldane of Gleneagles actually quartered the armorial bearings of the other sister, and they were Lennox, and a bend cheque for Menteith.
Before leaving this subject we must advert to what Mr Riddell terms his " corroborations" of the author's " laudable vindication of the character of Sir John Menteith." We maintain that that vindication requires no corroboration, being in seipso totus teres atque rotundus, and the best proof is, that when our learned antiquary attempts to improve it he only repeats it. He mentions, indeed, that Sir John Menteith received from Bruce an augmentation of arms, but the author had shown, ex abundantl, Menteith's favour with Bruce. He runs over the facts that Menteith was less unpatriotic than the other Scottish nobles, and that he distinguished himself, from the earliest opportunity in his power, as a patriotic adherent of Bruce. All this the author had discussed ad nauseam. The " corroboration" is, probably, what Mr Riddell puts in Italics; thus,— "What is even more remarkable, he alone of all his family, and indeed of the barons and nobility of Scotland, is not to be found in the lists of those who swore fealty to Edward I." Now the author had stated the same thing thus:—" So far from there being the slightest evidence that he was among the first to bend to the conqueror, his name does not occur in that degrading document the Ragman Roll." Corroborations, indeed !" Call ye that backing of your friends?"