An act ratifying the declaration of the king's majesty and his estates touching the treasonable attempt against his highness at Ruthven and concerning the late rebellion and assisters thereof

The king's majesty and his three estates assembled in this present parliament ratify and approve and, for his highness and his successors, perpetually confirm the declaration underwritten made by his highness, with advice of his said estates convened in council, on 7 September 1583, of the which the tenor follows:

Albeit the late surprise and restraint of our most noble person, perpetrated in August now past a year, was a crime of lese-majesty, heinous in itself, of dangerous sequel and most pernicious example, meriting to be the more aggravated that the greatest part of the committers thereof, besides their allegiance and common duty of subjects, were specially bound to us by many benefits and particular obligations, deserving thereby the greater severity and more grievous punishment; yet we, being naturally inclined to mercy and according to our natural disposition always resolved by clemency to give them occasion the more willingly to return to their duty and by a loving and gentle demeanour, as it were, to deserve a more assured and voluntary obedience, and therefore have not only abstained from all rigour, but also besides the custom of a most clement prince, in private speeches, published answers to several ambassadors directed towards us by [Elizabeth I], our dearest sister, the queen of England, by our ambassadors sent to her, by diverse resolutions in council and public proclamations, uttered our clemency, promised impunity, offered pardon and full security of lives, lands and goods to such as would acknowledge their offence and return to their due obedience, fully satisfying ourselves with so moderate and slender declaration thereof as was no way to their hurt, loss or detriment, relenting the times prefixed thereto and prorogating the same from time to time, and rather as a father seeking to recover his children than a sovereign prince in a commonwealth respecting his estate and surety, after their manifest disobedience, without any proceeding against them, permitted some of the ministers and well affected barons to deal with them, entreat them and persuade them of their duty, continuing (notwithstanding the weight of their crime and disobedience) of full intention that, by their penitence, their former offence and contempt should altogether be extinguished and buried in oblivion. And albeit our clemency and long suffering has not produced such effect, nor been so respected by them as they ought, we have thought good to assemble our nobility and estates, by their advice the more solemnly to reiterate and fully perform whatsoever we had in the word of a prince, and by advice of our council heretofore promised and by their advice to provide substantially, as well their impunity and full assurance with our honour and surety of [our] person and estate, and also to bear record of our mercy and forbearance, whatsoever shall happen hereafter by the behaviour of the said persons to ensue. And seeing we have omitted no good means nor left anything undone that could be wished in a godly, most careful and most clement prince, we and our nobility and estates have resolved and hereby do declare that whoever shall hereafter repine, continue in their disobedience and condemn our clemency and so long suffering, we, our said nobility and estates presently assembled will take such order as our honour, surety of person and estate shall require and their stubborn and proud contempt shall deserve, and shall prosecute the said crime and sequel thereof against all such that either has or shall stubbornly repine, persist in their disobedience, condemn our clemency or refuse to acknowledge their offence, and their assisters, supporters and partakers whatsoever, which we do promise in the word of a prince, and our nobility and estates have solemnly sworn to hold hand and assist to their uttermost, which we desire be enacted and registered in the books of our privy council and published at all market crosses and other places needful of our realm; and that the same may have the better authority, we and our nobility have subscribed this act at Holyroodhouse on 7 December 1583. And also it is statute [and ordained] by our sovereign lord and his three estates in this present parliament that none who were authors or had foreknowledge of the said most treasonable deed shall presume in time coming to occupy or possess place in his highness's privy council or college of justice or in any public office of the estate of this commonwealth, or repair to his highness's court and presence, not being expressly sent for by his majesty under the pain of incurring of his highness's [high] indignation. And because the late treasonable rebellion attempted against his highness's person and estate is the sequel of the former committed at Ruthven, it is also statute and ordained by his highness, with advice of his said three estates, that none of his highness's subjects in time coming presume or take upon hand, by word or writ, to justify and allow the said most treasonable attempt at Ruthven, or to keep in register or store any books, rhyme, act, bond or writ whatsoever tending to the allowing and approval of the same attempt at Ruthven in any sort, but those that possess the said bonds, books, acts and registers in their hands bring in and present the same to his highness and privy council between the date hereof and 1 July 1584, to be deleted and cancelled under the pain of treason, with certification to those that fail, that pains of treason shall be executed against them without favour in example of others. Moreover, forasmuch as the late most treasonable conspiracy and rebellious attempt at the burgh of Stirling, and intended to have been further executed and prosecuted against his highness's person, authority and estate and the common quietness of the whole good subjects within this realm, was impossible to be interpreted and set forward by the few number that revealed and plainly showed themselves authors and avowers of that wicked deed, without the reset, supply, comfort, communication, and countenancing provided by others, their favourers and conspirators in the same crime, therefore, in horror of the said treasonable fact and terror to others to attempt the like, it is statute and ordained by our sovereign lord and his [three] estates assembled in this present parliament that all persons that have reset, supplied, communicated with the rebels or conspirators that lately in April 1583 surprised his highness's castle and burgh of Stirling, or such as were with them and publicly assisted them in their rebellion during their abiding within the said burgh and castle, or after the coming of [John Erskine], earl of Mar and [Thomas Lyon of Baldukie], master of Glamis out of Ireland and until their fleeing and entering again within the realm of England, or has since or shall hereafter deal with them, or that after their reset has not nor shall not take and present them before his majesty and council, or who has written or received writ or word from them by any organ or instrument, direct or indirect, knowing of their habitual resorts, intermediaries or traffic and kept it secret and unrevealed with all good diligence, and all that has aided them with horses, victual, company or convoy or reset them in their houses, administering to them help the better to accomplish their aforesaid treason against his highness's person, nobility, council and crown, shall now, and in all time coming, be esteemed, held, [deemed] and judged guilty of the treasonable deeds of the said rebels, traitors and conspirators and as committers of the crime of treason, and shall be called, pursued and punished for that with all rigour, in example of others.

  1. NAS, PA2/12, ff.117v-118r. Back
  2. There appears to be no record of this meeting. Robert Bowes, the English ambassador, mentions an undated 'consultation' in a letter of 10 September 1583, involving James Stewart, earl of Arran, John Graham, earl of Montrose, Colonel William Stewart, Sir Robert Melville of Murdocairnie and John Maitland of Thirlestane. CSP Scot., vi, 602. Back
  3. APS has 'terms'. Back
  4. APS interpolation. Back
  5. APS interpolation. Back
  6. APS interpolation. Back
  7. APS has 'upon'. Back
  8. APS interpolation. Back
  9. APS has 'which'. Back
  10. APS has 'and'. Back
  11. APS interpolation. Back