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sons of the highest distinction were, at the same time, conducted to separate prisons. Very shortly afterwards, Duncan Earl of Lennox was also seized, along with Sir Robert Graham, and confined in Edinburgh Castle. A Parliament was afterwards summoned, upon the ninth day of which, being the 21st March 1424-5, James, who now felt himself sufficiently firm in his regal seat, ordered the arrest of the Regent himself, and of Alexander Stewart, his younger son, along with sixand-twenty of the most illustrious men in Scotland. Many of the nobles so hastily arrested were almost immediately released, and were, moreover, induced or compelled to become the judges of the unfortunate victims. The same day on which the Regent was arrested, Isabella, his Duchess, was seized in their palace of Doune in Menteith, carried to Dunbar, and afterwards imprisoned in the castle of Tantallon. James Stewart, their third son, alone of all his family effected an escape. This daring youth, made, on the instant, one desperate effort to succour his family or avenge their fall. With a body of armed followers, he carried fire and sword into the town of Dunbarton, and put to death the King's uncle, John Stewart, (called the Red Stewart of Dundonald) with thirty-two others of inferior note. But this struggle was unavailing. The King pursued James of Albany with such determined animosity, that he was compelled to fly, with his abettor the Bishop of Argyle, to Ireland, whence he never returned. *
Soon afterwards, in a Parliament where the King presided in person, on the 24th May 1425, Walter Stewart of the Levenax was tried by his peers, convicted, and instantly beheaded. To those who ask of what crime this young nobleman was convicted, no other reply can be given than what is afforded by a solitary expression of a single chronicler. In one manuscript of the Scotichronicon, the writer of which is supposed to have lived at the period, it is recorded that Walter Stewart was "a man of princely stature and lovely person, most eloquent and wise, most agreeable, and universally beloved, and that having been convicted by an assize 'deroborea,' was beheaded in front of the castle. Not only was his death deplored by those who knew him, but by those who had never seen him, for they were enamoured of his fame."* On the following day his brother Alexander, whom the same ancient chronicler declares to have been noways inferior to Walter in personal attractions, and that both were of gigantic stature, shared a like fate. These were the heirs-male, of the marriage between Duke Murdoch and Isabella, upon whom, by the singular contract of that ill-fated alliance, the vast succession of the Levenax had been entailed, with the additional provision of a territory, equal in extent, from the estates of Albany. Alexander Stewart did not suffer that day alone. His father, Duke Murdoch, and the aged Earl Duncan ascended a scaffold upon which the blood of Walter, the beautiful heir of Albany and Lennox, was scarcely dry. "They were executed," says one whose genius could not fail to pause upon and picture the catastrophe, " on the castle hill of Stirling, upon the little artificial mound called Hurley Hacket. From this elevated position, Duke Murdoch might cast his last look upon the fertile and romantic territory of Menteith, which formed part of his family estates, and distinguish in the distance the stately Castle of Doune, which emulated the magnificence of palaces, and had been his own vice-regal residence."*
* Rym. Feed. x. 415.
* Cupar MS. of the Scotichronicon. Under the circumstances, de roborea can scarcely mean of robbery, in a common or vulgar acceptation. It may have referred to the ambitious appropriation, or spoliation of Crown lands by the Albany family; or more probably to the recent attack upon Dunbarton,'in which the King's uncle was killed.
Plausible reasons have been assigned for James I. having so suddenly visited the house of Albany with utter ruin; but why his vengeance fell with a like severity upon Earl Duncan, now in his eightieth year, is a problem not to be solved by the scanty records of the times. During the eventful and turbulent period which intervened between the dates of the family contract in 1391, and the second regency in 1420, so unobtrusive had been the conduct of this Earl, so little had he mingled in the affairs of the distracted realm, or identified himself with the proceedings of its rulers, that his name can only be traced by means of private deeds, indicating his possession of the earldom, and the exercise of his feudal right of property. With the single exception, that he is mentioned first of the distinguished cortege of nobles who met James I. at Durham on his return from captivity, I can find no public notice of this nobleman, until his apparently cruel and causeless execution.
* Sir Walter Scott's History of Scotland.
POSSESSION OF THE LENNOX BY THE DUCHESS OF ALBANY AS COUNTESS OF LENNOX.
A curious feature in the mysterious fate of the old Earl of Lennox is, that, though condemned and executed for some alleged high crime and misdemeanour, his fief incurred no forfeiture, even at a time when the Crown Mas eager to aggrandize itself at the expence of the nobles. This fact will be amply proved in the sequel. But it is involved in the whole history of the partition of the Lennox, which territory would not have been inherited by the heirs of Earl Duncan, had that nobleman incurred forfeiture, and his estates been annexed to the crown. The possession held by the Duchess Isabella after her father's death is of itself sufficient to destroy the theory of forfeiture; and all the steps taken by the coparceners, after the demise of Isabella, indicate, it is true, some difficulty and confusion impeding the course of succession, but demonstrate, at the same time, that in no way had the Comitatus of Lennox reverted to the fountain of honour, but was still ruled by the family investiture. To trace the state of the possession, from the death of Earl Duncan in 1425 to the partition and final settlement of his fief among his heirs-general about the close of that century, is necessary in order to clear up those apparently anomalous and contradictory circumstances, which hitherto have left the question of the right to the honours entangled and unintelligible.
And first, of the possession held by the Duchess after her father's execution.
It is said, that when the exasperated monarch had wreaked his vengeance on Albany and Lennox, he sent to tlus unhappy lady (who was by marriage nearly related to himself) the bleeding heads of those dearest to her, in order to try if the distraction of her grief would cause her to divulge secrets; and that the Duchess endured the spectacle without allowing other words to pass her lips than these, "If they were guilty, the King has acted wisely and done justice." But this story, narrated by Buchanan, is scarcely to be credited of James I., who, though hasty and passionate, possessed an intellect too refined to be capable of the act of a savage. Isabella experienced some rigorous treatment when the storm that destroyed her family first arose, but there can be no question that she was eventually permitted to assume and enjoy the honours and territory of the Lennox.
She is said to have been reserved and lofty in her demeanour, possessing a strong mind, a calm and indomitable spirit; and no lady of ancient or modern times ever stood more in need of such attributes to sustain her under sudden and violent calamities. Upon the 21st May 1424, her own husband, as Earl of Fife, seated his royal master in the chair of state to receive the unction and the crown. Her younger son, Alexander, received at the same time from that monarch the honour of knighthood, in .company with the greatest nobles in Scotland. His elder brother Walter, the heir of Albany and Lennox, is not included in this list of knights, a fact in accordance with the chronology of the contemporary chronicler, who dates his imprisonment so early