Page images
PDF
EPUB

the first year of the reign of King James IV. of Scotland, called the Act Rescissory; that the grant of the Dukedom made by King James IV. to the said David, Earl of Crawford, in 1489, was a grant for the term of his life only; and that the petitioner (claimant), James, Earl of Crawford and Balcarres, has not established any title to the Dukedom of Montrose created in 1488." This resolution was reported in due form to the House, and so the ingenious claim fell to the ground. The then Earl of Crawford and Balcarres was succeeded December, 1869, by his son, Alexander William Crawford, Lord Lindsay, eighth and late Earl, the accomplished author of “Lives of the Lindsays," and of the “History of Christian Art." The Duke of Montrose died 30th Dec., 1874, and was succeeded by his only surviving son, Douglas-Beresford-Malise-Ronald Graham, the fifth and present duke, born November, 1852, Lieutenant 5th Lancers. The Montrose Dukedom dates from 1707, the Marquisate from 1684, and the Earldom from 1504. The knightage goes back to the earliest period of our national history. Other titles carried by the present Duke are-Marquis of Graham and Buchanan, Earl and Marquis of Montrose, Earl of Kincardine, Viscount Dundaff, Lord Graham, Aberuthven, Mugdock, and Fintry, in the peerage of Scotland; Earl and Baron Graham, of Belford, Northumberland, in the peerage of Great Britain.

CUMBERNAULD HOUSE AND THE FLEMINGS.

Built in 1731, and occupied for only a short period by chiefs of the Fleming family, the mansion destroyed in March, 1877, came to be associated in an indirect way with many stirring events-national as well as domestic-in the history of a once powerful house. Originally from the Low Countries, Baldwin, the first recorded Fleming, appears as settled at Biggar in the reign of William the Lion, while a Sir Malcolm of the name was appointed Sheriff of Dumbarton in the reign of Alexander III. The family came strongly to the front as adherents of Bruce in the early struggles for national independence, and rose in a great measure on the ruin of Bruce's powerful rival, Comyn of Buchan. The Sir Malcolm of the day is said to have witnessed the slaughter of the Red Comyn at the altar of the Minorite Friars, Dumfries, and to have so thoroughly identified himself with the cause as to follow Bruce in his flight to Glasgow, and witness the absolution in the Cathedral, while the blood of his rival was scarcely dry upon the dagger. Even earlier than this the Comyns of Cumbernauld had smarted under the resentment of Bruce's party. Bishop Robert Wischart, ghostly confessor to the young patriot, begged timber for the spire of our Cathedral from Edward I., then ruling in Scotland as Overlord, and received forty oaks from Darnaway, sixty from Ettrick, and twenty stags for his own table. But, as Dr. J. Robertson shows, the spire of St. Kentigern was not yet to be built. The faithless prelate had scarcely digested the last of King Edward's venison before he turned the oaks into catapults and mangonels, and with them laid siege to the garrison which kept the Comyn's Castle of Kirkintilloch. The barony of Kirkintilloch, known in later times as the Lenzies, and including all the lands of Cumbernauld, passed from Bruce's opponent to Bruce's friend, King Robert granting a charter conveying to Malcolm Fleming that barony formerly held by John Comyn. This Malcolm was also created Earl of Wigtown; but in 1371 this title passed by a formal deed to Archibald, Earl of Galloway, a branch of the Royal Family of Scotland. The title was, however, revived in later days in favour of the Flemings of Cumbernauld. A second Sir Malcolm, son of the above, was present at the disastrous battle of Halidon Hill, 19th July, 1333. Making a skilful retreat from the fatal field, Sir Malcolm secured the person of the young Prince David, with his consort Joanna, and hurrying with them to Dumbarton Castle, of which he was governor, fortified the place against all attack. From this fortress the young couple were removed in safety to France, where they remained between seven and eight years. A descendant, Sir David, of Cumbernauld, distinguished himself at the battle of Otterburn, and was one of a Commission appointed to treat for peace with England in 1405. Having seen Prince James, son of Robert III., set sail on what was understood to be a voyage to France for liberty, but which turned out in reality a long captivity in England, Sir David was murdered on returning by Douglas of Balveny, at Hermandstone, near Edinburgh, and buried in the chapel of Holyrood. The Cumbernauld family appear to have been ennobled about 1460, Robert Lord Fleming appearing in the records of Parliament, 1466. As a diplomatist in the stormy time which succeeded the death of James IV., few sustained a more conspicuous part than John Lord Fleming of Cumbernauld. In the spring of 1520 he was appointed ambassador to the Court of France to secure the return of Albany to Scotland as Regent, and to accomplish, if possible, the still more delicate task of undermining the friendly sentiments which it was thought Francis I. then entertained for Henry VIII., and with whom he had afterwards a romantic interview on the “ Field of the Cloth of Gold." A daughter, Mary Fleming, who became the wife of Maitland of Lethington, was said to have been in her youth one of the Queen's celebrated “Four Marys," although one version of the popular ballad describes the enticing group as made up from the families of Hamilton, “May Hamilton," Seaton, Beaton, and Carmichael. In 1526 James V. ratified and approved “a charter of new infeftment maid to Malcolm Lord Fleming, making the touns of Biggar and Kerkentulloch burghis of barony, with the mercat dais, in all punctis” as other burghs of barony. Soon after the imprisonment of Queen Mary in Lochleven, a party professing adherence to her cause, and known as the “Queen's Lords," finding themselves removed from all offices of importance under the new Government, betook themselves to the Castle of Dumbarton, then held by Lord Fleming, zealous in the Queen's support, and there entered into a bond to release and protect their captive sovereign, and, if possible, bring to punishment the murderers of her husband, King Henry, Lord Darnley. After the defeat at Langside, and when the unfortunate Queen had so far carried out the doubtful scheme of submitting her case to her sister of England, Mary writes to Elizabeth regarding Lord Fleming of Cumbernauld :“ As for my Lord Fleming, seeing that upon my credit you have suffered him to go home to his house, I warrant you he shall pass no further, but shall return when it pleases you. But for Dumbarton I answer not when my Lord Fleming shall be in the Tower. For they which are within it, will not forbear to receive succour if I don't assure them of yours; no, though you should charge me withal, for I have left them in charge, to have more respect unto my servants and to my estate than to my life.” The confidence reposed by the Queen in Lord Fleming is further brought out during an interview, when it was proposed to remove her from Carlisle to Bolton Castle, this being the first decisive step taken by the English Court to dispose of her person against her will. “I require" (said the fugitive Queen in anger), “I require the Queen, my good sister, either that she will let me go into France, or that she will put me into Dumbarton, unless she will hold me as a prisoner, for I am sure that her Highness will not of her honour put me into my Lord of Murray's hands." Straitly besieged by the Regent Lennox, Fleming ventured to bring under notice of the Queen's Commissioners the persecution he was being subjected to, and the destruction to which his private property was exposed. Among other enormities perpetrated by Lennox, particular stress is laid upon the slaughter of the white kye in the forest of Cumbernauld “as the lyke was not manteint in ony uther pairt of this Ile of Albion.” When the Castle of Dumbarton was surprised by the intrepid daring of Crawford of Jordanhill, Lord Fleming made his escape to the Clyde, and afterwards got on board a vessel proceeding to France. Lady Fleming was captured, but dismissed with many marks of the Regent's favour. Hamilton, Bishop of St. Andrews, deeply implicated in the murder of Darnley, was taken to Stirling and executed. During the civil war the Cumbernauld family threw in their lot with the King and served loyally under Montrose. It was in the old Castle of Cumbernauld that Montrose and his party in August, 1640, entered into that bond which first brought them into direct hostility with the Covenanting party they had up to that time supported. In September, 1650, the Committee of Estates, considering the Castle of Cumbernauld to be a place of great importance, ordered it to be victualled and garrisoned. Sir William Fleming, then with Charles II. at Breda, was, as appears from the Wigtown family papers, despatched on a special mission to Scotland, the King's instructions being of this tenor :-"In case my friends in Scotland do not think fit that Montrose lay down arms, then as many as can may repair to him. You shall see if Montrose have a considerable number of men; and if he have you must use your best endeavours to get them not to be disbanded; but if he be weak then he should disband, for it will do me more harm for a small body to keep together than it can do me good.” Some days before the date of the “instructions" Montrose had fallen into the hands of his enemies, and Fleming arrived in Edinburgh only to learn that the Marquis had terminated his career on the gallows. The old castle, it may be remarked, after being deserted by the Cumbernauld family in favour of the spacious new mansion, was set fire to by a party of Highlanders during the rebellion of 1745 and burned to the ground. The parish of Cumbernauld was detached from Kirkintilloch about 1649. The first minister, Thomas Stewart, was ejected for non-conformity in 1662, and his successor, Gilbert Muschett, seems to have been much troubled by the predilection his parishioners manifested for conventicles. Even after the Revolution had transformed the Episcopalian rebel into a Presbyterian Dissenter, the spirit of hostility continued as strong and active as ever. Thus, in July, 1688, after denouncing twelve persons as fugitives, the parish clergyman thought proper to enter in the session-book that “the meeting-house preacher is ane rebell, and not pardonded; excommunicate, and not relaxed; and ane slander and leising-making, alienating the hearts of His Majesty's subjects by not keeping the three late thanksgivings.” The ancient dignity of the family, it may be mentioned, was revived in 1606 by James VI., John Lord Fleming,

« PreviousContinue »