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as the 13th of May 1424, a few days before the coronation,* and while his father and brother were apparently in the highest favour at court. But in the commencement of the year 1425, the desolate Duchess had to mourn for her father, her husband, and her sons.
There is a melancholy interest pervading the widowhood of Isabella, Duchess of Albany and Countess of Lennox, which makes us regret that so little is known of her habits and occupations during the long years of her retirement, in her feudal castle on the Island of Lochlomond,afterhersuccessiontothe earldom. Though bearing, with punctilious ceremony, those high titles of Albany and Lennox—lately all powerful in the realm, but now scarcely to be whispered to the breezes of Lochlomond—though possessing the broad and fair domains gemmed by that beautiful lake, she was widowed and childless in the silent halls of Inchmuryne, and haunted with the recollection that, by the hands of the common executioner, her race were extinguished,—thather young giants would not return at her call
"To renew the wild pomp of the chase and the hall."
* There is a tradition, which, though resting on no sufficient authority, may be true, and may also be explanatory of the early disgrace of Walter Stewart. It is said that he greatly coveted a falcon possessed by Duke Murdoch, his father, who was so fond of the bird that no entreaties of his son and heir would induce him to part with it. Upon one occasion, as the Duke was carrying his favourite falcon, this youth, of an unruly and imperious disposition, forgetting his duty to his father and the governor of the realm, suddenly tore the object of his desire from the wrist of the Regent, in those days a deadly insult, and twisting off its head, exclaimed that no one should possess it. According to the tradition, Duke Murdoch's reply was fraught with the fate of Scotland, and his own. "Since I cannot govern you," he said, "I will send for one who can;" and this is supposed to connect with the negotiation which restored James to his country.
Whether Isabella was immediately released after the catastrophe of her family, or how long she was kept under restraint, I have not been able to ascertain. This is certain, however, that there was no legal bar to her completing titles in feudal form to the earldom, though she failed to do so, for in the retours of all her representatives in the Lennox, to be afterwards more particularly noticed, the lands are declared to have been in non-entry from the year 1425, when Earl Duncan was beheaded, thereby indicating that the sovereign, during all that time, had no other right to theComitatus than what arose from that feudal incident. There is a curious and interesting item in the Great Chamberlain's accounts, in reference to the Duchess. In a roll of the reign of James II. between the dates 16th July 1455 and 7th October 1456, it is stated that a precept of seisin had issued from Chancery to infeft the heir in certain lands of the earldom, that relief duty had in consequence been paid, but that the precept remained unexecuted, and the heir unentered, and that the old Countess of Lennox continued to reap the fruits, and not the King, (as in strict feudal form, under such circumstances, he might have done,) upon which state of matters, it is noted, the King himself was to be consulted.*
From this it appears that Isabella outlived James I, for about twenty years. If she harboured any feelings of revenge against him,—and she had cause to do so,— they were amply gratified by the fate of that unfortunate monarch, whose murder in the year 1437, aggravated by every circumstance of undignified horror, called down upon the perpetrators tortures unparalleled in the most savage countries and times. A connection between this catastrophe and the fate of Albany and Lennox, may be faintly traced in the meager and dilapidated records of the period. The chief conspirator was that Sir Robert Graham who was arrested along with Earl Duncan of Lennox, and although he had been released, he seems ever afterwards to have harboured those feelings of revenge against the sovereign which came to so fearful a crisis in 1437. The contemporary account of the murder, horribly minute in its details, narrates that when the King cried for mercy, " Thow cruell tirant, (quod Grame to hym,) thow hadst nevyr mercy of lordes borne of thy blode, ne of none other gentilman that came yn thy dawnger,—therfor no mercy shalt thow have here."* But the Duchess Isabella was in no degree implicated in this dreadful transaction; for although the utmost vengeance of the whole nation was poured out upon all connected with it, we find that lady in full and peaceful enjoyment of her fief, immediately afterwards, during the minority of James II.
* Great Chamberlain Roll, Register House, from 16th July 1455 to 7th October 1456.—" Et de relevio terrarum quarte partis de glorate in qua hares nondum iniravit licet litere sasine de eisdem de Cancellaria emanaverint, vis. viiid. quorum terrarum jirmas antiqua Comitissa de Lenax percipit, et de eisdem et non rex continuatur." On the margin, " super quo consulendus est rex." The lands of Glorat were a part of the Lennox.
Probably there are charters of the Duchess, indicating her possession of the Lennox before the death of James I., lurking in unexplored charter-chests. The oldest that I am aware of proves her to have been living at her principal messuage, on the island of Inchmuryne in Lochlomond, very early in the succeeding minority. The following grants are all dated from that place.
* Printed in the Appendix to Pinkerton's History of Scotland.
About the beginning of the year 1440, the Duchess granted a charter to one Donald Patrick of a tenement of houses and yard adjoining, situated on the north side of the church-yard of Dryraen, with a croft of land, &c.: the said Donald and his successors being obliged to furnish stable room for the Duchess and her successors' horses so oft as they came to Drymen, and to furnish lodging and fire for poor people, the same as ordained by former Earls of Lennox.* In 1444, " Isabella Duchissa Alba/tie.ac Comitissa de Lecenajc," confirms, with the air of a feudal princess, a charter of the lands of Ballegrochyr to Donald, the natural son of her father, as a vassal of her fief, f In 1449 a precept of seisin issues from " Isabel Duches of Albany and Countess of the Levenax, till Jon Lyndsay, mare of the Levenax, greting," to infeft Thomas Spreule in the lands of Dalchorne and Dalmure; and concluding, " giffe him sesing," &c. " in our name, haldand thir letters for your warande; witnes myself under my signet at Inchmoryn, the 19th day of February 1449." £ In 1450 she founded the collegiate church of Dun barton, and gifted it with various lands of the earldom, j But the most interesting of her charters extant is one, in Latin, mortifying lands in the parish of Kilmaronock to the convent of the Blackfriars, and of which the following is the substance:
"To all who shall see or hear this charter, Isabella Duchess of Albany and Countess of Lennox, greeting, &c. Know us, with the consent and assent of our dearest sister-german, Margaret, spouse of the late Lord of Husky, to have given, and for the sake of charity to have granted, and by this our present charter to have confirmed perpetually, to the honour and praise of God Almighty, and the glory of his Mother the blessed Mary, everlasting Virgin, of the holy archangel Michael, of Saint Dominic and all the Saints,—to our dear brothers, John de Govane, Prior of the Predicant Friars of Glasgow, and his successors, for the safety of our soul, and that of our dearest spouse of blessed memory, Sir Murdoch, Lord Duke of Albany, and also of the soul of the deceased Sir Duncan Earl of Lennox, our progenitor, and of the souls of Walter, James, and Alexander, our sons deceased; and of the souls of all who have died in the faith, &c. our lands of Kilmaronock within our Earldom of Lennox, to be held of us and our heirs for ever in pure and perpetual charity, with all the pertinents, freedoms, and liberties belonging to the lands. Dated atom- manor of Inchmyrryne, 18th May 1451," and witnessed by Murdoch, Arthur, and Robert Stewarts of Albany. The seal of the Duchess is appended with the seal " of our said dearest sister." *
* Case for Woodhead, p. 51, and authorities there quoted. This charter is witnessed, among others, by Andrew Stewart of Albany, afterwards Lord Avandale, the natural grandson ef the Duchess.
% Original, penes Srnollet of Bonhill.
§ Case for Woodhead.
This charter of mortification indicates that James Stewart, the only son of the Duchess who escaped the scaffold, and who fled to Ireland from the pursuit of James I., was now dead without legitimate issue. For the consent of her sister Margaret is taken to the deed, obviously because this lady was next heir to all the honours, and impartible rights of the fief, in virtue of the remainder, in Isabella's contract of marriage, to the heirsgeneral of Earl Duncan. That Isabella had no heir in or through her son James is further demonstrated by
* Mr Denniston's Book of Transcripts—MSS.