Procedure: exculpation of William Maitland of Lethington
Declaration towards the secretary of his innocence of the king's murder by a great convention

At Edinburgh, 14 February, 1569 [1570]. The lords of secret council and others of the nobility, estates and barons underwritten, being convened for taking of order in the affairs of this commonwealth: that is to say, the noble and mighty lords James [Douglas], earl of Morton, lord of Dalkeith, chancellor of Scotland, John [Stewart], earl of Atholl, lord of Balvenie, Gilbert [Kennedy], earl of Cassilis, lord Kennedy, Alexander [Cunningham], earl of Glencairn, lord of Kilmaurs, John [Erskine], earl of Mar, lord Erskine, Robert [Douglas], earl of Buchan, John [Graham], master of Graham, the reverend fathers in God Robert [Stewart], bishop of Caithness, Adam [Bothwell], bishop of Orkney, the noble lords Patrick [Lindsay], lord Lindsay of the Byres, William [Ruthven], lord Ruthven, John [Lyon], lord Glamis, Andrew [Stewart], lord Stewart of Ochiltree, Hugh [Fraser], lord Fraser of Lovat, Henry [Stewart], lord Methven, Alan [Cathcart], lord Cathcart, Patrick [Gray], master of Gray, the venerable fathers Robert [Pitcairn], commendator of Dunfermline, John [Hay], commendator of Balmerino, John [Maitland of Thirlestane], commendator of Coldingham, David [Erskine], commendator of Dryburgh and Inchmahome, Adam [Erskine], commendator of Cambuskenneth, Alexander [Colville], commendator of Culross, Sir William Kirkcaldy of Grange, knight, provost of Edinburgh, Alexander Forrester of Garden, provost of Stirling, Mr James Haliburton, provost of Dundee, John Erskine of Dun, provost of Montrose, Master Robert Richardson, commendator of St Mary's Isle, treasurer, Sir William Murray of Tullibardine, knight, comptroller, Sir James Balfour of Pittendreich, knight, president of the college of justice, Sir John Bellenden of Auchnoull, knight, justice clerk, Mr James MacGill of Nether Rankeilour, clerk register, and all these gentlemen and barons underwritten: that is to say, James Douglas of Drumlanrig, knight, William Douglas of Hawick, knight, his son and apparent heir, John Jardine of Applegarth, Thomas Kennedy of Bargany, John Kennedy of Blairquhan, John Cathcart of Carleton, George Corrie of Kelwood, John Shaw of Haly, James Chalmers of Gadgirth, Hugh Wallace of Carnell, John Lockhart of Barr, Master John Fullerton of Dreghorn, William Cunningham of Caprington, William Cunningham of Cunninghamhead, younger, George Crawford of Lochnorris, Patrick Dunbar of Cumnock, Robert Lindsay of Dunrod, John Stewart of Minto, knight, James Galbraith of Culcreuch, James Edmonstone, younger, of Duntreath, John Shaw of Greenock, Patrick Houston of that Ilk, John Semple of Fulwood, Robert Graham of Knockdolian, James Seaton of Tullibody, James Stirling of Keir, Alexander Bruce of Airth, Robert Drummond of Carnock, Robert Bruce of Clackmannan, Alexander Livingstone of Haining, James Sandilands of Calder, John Cockburn of Ormiston, William Lauder of Haltoun, Robert Fairlie of Braid, John Stewart of Craigiehall, George Home of Spott, Andrew Kerr of Faldonside, John Stewart of Traquair, William Douglas of Lochleven, Andrew Murray of Arngask, knight, John Boswell, younger, of Balmuto, Sir William Scott of Balwearie, knight, Thomas Scott of Abbotshall, John Melville of Raith, David Durie of that Ilk, Andrew Wood, younger, of Largo, Mr William Lundie of that Ilk, Robert Colville of Cleish, David Spence of Wormiston, Patrick Kinninmonth of Craighall, Alexander Sibbald of Rankeilour, Peter Hay of Megginch, John Ogilvie of Inverquharity, Alexander Ogilvie of Clova, Alexander Guthrie, fiar of that Ilk, Gilbert Ogilvie of that Ilk, George Haliburton of Pitcur, with diverse others. The cause and occasion of the retention in ward of William Maitland of Lethington, younger, secretary to our sovereign lord, being proposed, it was submitted on his behalf how, in the latter end of the month of August bypast, he was publicly accused in presence of [James Stewart, earl of Moray], my lord regent's grace, that rests with God, and the council then convened at Stirling, as participant of a most odious crime, to wit, the murder of [Henry Stewart, lord Darnley], late king, our sovereign lord's father of good memory, and that by accusation of a man without mandate or commission shown for that effect, at the occasion whereof the said secretary was committed to ward in Stirling and thereafter transported to the castle of Edinburgh, where he has remained since then, albeit that was not the very cause that moved my lord regent's grace and council then convened so to use the said secretary, in respect of his travails and true part in many honest causes, especially in persecution of the said murder, but rather upon an opinion which his grace and the said council were then persuaded to conceive by the long whispering and suggestion of the said secretary's private enemies, as that he had trafficked for the overthrow of the king's estate and the ruin and destruction of all the noblemen and honest men that had entered in his quarrel, in which both, as God knows, his innocence so has been, and presently is, ready to make the same patent to the world by underlying of such trial and judgement as in such cases is requisite, if any will accuse him. The said lords, estates and barons, considering the progress of the matter and his honest offer, being particularly enquired if any of them could or would accuse and burden him as culpable of the said murder, or as a practiser of matters tending to the subversion of the king's estate and prejudice of the noblemen and others professing his obedience, they all in one voice voted, declared and testified that, as they nor none of them knew the said secretary to be culpable of the said murder, nor they would not accuse him of the same, so they esteem him to be innocent, to have been innocently calumniated in times bygone in the said matters tending to the prejudice of the king's estate and his good subjects, judging that the said secretary's staying, retention and bypast treatment has rather proceeded of the suggestion and whispering of his private enemies than of any good proof or just cause of suspicion that either my lord regent's grace or any of the council had against him the time of his staying, and therefore acknowledge and testify him to be an honest innocent of the said matters with which he has been without just cause heretofore calumniated, accepting and receiving him again in his own rank and place, likewise heretofore they testify him to have been a good instrument and profitable member in this commonwealth in many honest and great causes, both for the advancing of God's glory and repose and quietness of the country.

  1. NLS, Adv. Ms. 34/2/2, 'The Haddington Manuscript, minutes of parliament, council and exchecker, collected by E. Haddington' (2 vols), vol. 1, f.140v-141r. Back