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PROOF THAT ELIZABETH MENTEITH WAS ELDER THAN AGNES
REPLY TO MR RIDDELL's DISCOVERY FOR GLENEAGLES MES
SUAGIUM ET MANEU1UM.
When a feudal vassal died, his heir, after attaining the age at which it was competent for him to enter the fee, was bound to pay to his superior a certain sum, called relief duty, as the feudal price of the renewal of the investiture in his favour. The Rusky estates in the Menteith, of which Elizabeth and Agnes Menteith were also coheiresses, were held of the Crown per wardam et relevium. Consequently the above casualty fell to the Crown when these young ladies, who succeeded to their brother Patrick, made up titles and relieved their lands out of the hands of their sovereign; and the keeper of the royal accounts had to debit himself in favour of the Crown whenever the royal precept of seisin issued. Some of the Great Chamberlain Rolls, of an ancient date, containing such items, are still extant in the RegisterHouse, Edinburgh, and afford many curious and valuable adminicles of domestic history.
In the compotum, or account, rendered at Edinburgh 21st October 1456, by William Murray of Gask, Sheriff of the county of Perth, of his receipts of royal dues and casualties from the 26th July 1454, down to the date of rendering the account, the following items occur:
"Et de xxxij'1. ij*' j ' de relevio medietatis terrarum de Thom et Lanarky, ac de Rousky, Regi debito per saisinam datam Elizabeth de Menteth de eisdem. Et de xxxij11' ij" jd' de relevio alterius medietatis dictarum terrarum, regi debito per saisinam datam Agneti de Menteth, sorori dicte Elizabeth de eisdem."* This record certainly affords the strongest grounds for presuming that Elizabeth was the elder of the two young ladies here mentioned, who, it must be observed, were among the most considerable coheiresses in Scotland. The important privileges attaching to the birth-right of the elder, and which rendered so consequential the fact of primogeniture, seems to exclude the reply that this relative position of their names,— in a public record which had special reference to their heritable succession and feudal services,—is an accidental occurrence, affording no argument of seniority in favour of Elizabeth. It must also be observed, that there is something more than the fact of the names occurring in simple sequence. There is a particular register of a feudal circumstance separately applicable to each of these young ladies; and the one named last in the record is designed sister of the former, thus indicating more particularly the leading position of Elizabeth, a minuteness scarcely consistent with the idea of careless or inaccurate arrangement. This independent, and most authentic, evidence affords an argument of primogeniture much stronger than that deduced for Gleneagles from the litigious activity of the husband of Agnes Menteith, in his proceedings against Dernely, and to which we find, upon a close inspection, that more than due weight has hitherto been given.
* "And the sum of xxxij". ijs. jd. for the relief of half the lands of Thorn and Lanarky and of Rousky, due to the King for seisin given to Elizabeth of Menteth in the same, and the sum of L. 32, 2s. Id. for the relief of the other half of the said lands, due to the King for seisin given to Agnes of Menteth, sister of the said Elizabeth in the same." From the same account it appears that these sums were made over by the King to Alexander Napier, who was comptroller of the household, and the father-in-law of Elizabeth Menteith. I can discover no further light on the subject from these original records, which at various times I have minutely examined with that view. Mr Riddell, who is very accurate in these matters, says in his Tracts, that the account runs between the dates 26th July 1454 and the 1st of October 1456. I read the latter date, however, vicesimo prima die mensis Octobris, 1456. The difference is unimportant.
It has been already stated that this evidence was first detected by Mr Riddell, more than twenty years ago. In his recent publication, however, that learned gentleman, after taking full credit to himself for the discovery, suddenly produces a new piece of evidence in favour of Gleneagles, subsequently discovered, but at what period he does not say. But, with great submission, he has missed the point of his own discovery. Intending, as he so oddly terms it, " to render justice to the heir-general of Gleneagles," he produces what would not be received as evidence, of the particular point for that family, before any tribunal, while at the same time it affords unexceptionable evidence, for the family of Merchiston, of a fact very material to their case.
The discovery in question consists of two entries contained in an old and very confused volume of Acts of Counciland Session. Mr Riddell has noticed theseentries in a different order from that in which they occur in the book. I take the liberty, however, to follow the record.
There appears, classed under the date 29th July 1562, (more than a hundred years after the succession of the young ladies of Menteith) an act of transference, which runs thus:
"Transferris the contract and appunctment and decreit of the Lordis of Counsell interponit thairto for the tyme, berand and contenand as followis: At Edinburge 2d August 1485, &c. in presens of the Lordis of Counsale underwritten," &c. "It is apunctit and finale endit betwix Jhone of Halden of Glennegas for himself, and James Halden his sone and appearand air, on that ane part, and Jhone Naper and Elezabeth his spouse on the uther part, anent the devisioun, depertesing, and deling of the landis of Ruske and Lanerk, lying in the steurtie of Menteth and sheriffdom of Perth, perteining to the saids perteis as portioners of the samyn, in manner and forme as efter followis, that is to say, the said Johne Halden consentis, grantis, and admittis, that the saidis Jhone Naper sall depert, devoid, and deile the saidis landis above-written this wise: In the first, that the said Jhone Halden and James his sone, as eldest portioneris, sall tak for the first chimmeis of Ruske, the place wytin the loche of Ruske, and for the place of the landis of Lanerk, the place and "******
Here this fragment abruptly terminates, why or wherefore, no man alive,—nay, not even the author of the Tracts,—can tell. Had thematter remained in this state, it might have been supposed that the abrupt conclusion was simply in consequence of part of the record having been lost, for it breaks off at the end of a page, and the paging of the volume is comparatively modern. But some pages further on in the same volume, there appears a subsequent entry, which Mr Riddell places foremost, as his leading proof. It is another act of transference between the same parties, and of the very same contract, but this time the form is a little different.
"Transferris, wyt consent of the pertiis procuratoris under-written, ane contract allegit maid in presens of the Lordis of Consale for the tyme," &c. then follows the words of the previous entry, which, however, it brings to a conclusion thus, " That the said Jhone Naper suld depert, devis, and deill the foirsaidis landis in this wise, in the first, that the said umquhile Jhone Haldane, and James his sone as eldest portioneris suld tak for ther first chimmeis of Rusky the place wytin the loche of Rusky, and for the place of the landis of Lanerik the place and biggings of Lanerk, and the said umquhile Johne Naper and Elizabeth his spous to cheise uthir twa chirnmeise, quheir it plesit thame wytin the same landis, and to tak the Borland of Rusky for ther chimmeis gif thai pleise, and farther suld devoid the forsaidis landis in twa evinlie pertis as thai best ma be depertit and devidit, as the said contract allegit, insert and registrat in the bukis of umquhile our soverane ladeis grandschiris consale, to have and havand the strenthe of ane decreit of the Lordis therof for the tyme, of the dait the secund day of August, the yeir of God Jm* four hundred Ixxxv. yeirs, at moir lenthe proportis. In Jhone Haldane of Glennegas, successor to the saide umquhile Jhone Halden of Glennegas, and heretabill possessor of that ane half of the forsaidis landis, wyt the pertinentis active, and in Archibald Naper of Merchamstoune as air, at the leist successor to umquhile Johne Naper of Merchamstone, and portioner and heretabill possessor of the uther half therof, passive, and decermis and ordainis sicklike lettres to be direct at the instance of the said Jhone Halden, against the said Archibald Naper of Merchamston, for compelling of him to fulfil the forsaid contract and decreet in all points, after the tenor of the saymn, as myt or suld heife bene direct at the instance of the said umquhile Jhone Halden, agains the said umquhile Jhone Napier of Merchamstone, for