Act declaring the earls [William Douglas, earl of] Angus, [George Gordon, earl of] Huntly, [Francis Hay, earl of] Erroll to have lost the benefit of the act of abolition

2Forasmuch as it is not unknown how after the true religion was publicly preached, professed and by law established in the first year of the reign of our sovereign lord, none or very few avowed papists remaining in any part of the realm, sundry adversaries of the same true religion, envying the progress thereof and his highness's education therein, and pretending by all means to subvert the same by Jesuits, seminary priests and other pernicious instruments, partly his highness's born subjects and partly strangers, craftily directed in this country and destined to work the evil effects that since then have followed; induced diverse young noblemen, gentlemen and diverse others of his majesty's subjects to give ear to their allurements and to fall from profession of the said true religion; and under sundry pretences, at diverse times, to attempt the troubling and disturbance of the estate of religion and the contempt of his highness's authority, and at last gave great occasions of suspicion of their practices and traffick to bring strangers in the realm for the ruin and overthrow of his majesty's estate and professors of the said true religion and establishing of the superstition and errors wherein they had suffered themselves to be led. Of this William, earl of Angus, George, earl of Huntly, Francis, earl of Erroll and Sir Patrick Gordon of Auchindoun, being specially accused, they were called to their trial and first to have compeared before certain of his highness's privy council at St Andrews in February 1592 [1593]; where, not compearing, they were summoned of new to his highness's parliament held in the month of June, from which, although they absented themselves and that through this justice might have proceeded against them, yet at the earnest suit of the estates, all rigorous and sudden proceedings against the said earls and others foresaid was superseded, in hope to have recovered them to the acknowledging of their offence to God and obedience of his highness's authority, seeing of all others they were most obliged to his majesty for respects of blood, alliance and preferring of them in his own time to the honours, places and livings which they occupy. After which clemency shown, they took the boldness to prostrate themselves in his highness's way, craving his pardon for their sundry offences committed to the displeasure of his majesty, but utterly standing to their denial as innocent of the crimes for which they were called to the parliament, and offering themselves to abide trial thereof; for which his highness appointed them a diet first at Perth and then at Linlithgow, where his estates were convened for that end; and there the power of the whole being committed to certain elected persons of every estate, and they convening for that purpose at Holyroodhouse lately in November last, his highness, with their advice, for the public peace and quietness of his afflicted country cast so often in trouble, and for the better surety of the state of religion and professors thereof, being in many ways in danger in sundry parts of the world, the ministers of God's word being heard and conferred with and their petitions considered, thought the best form and means to quiet the troubles grown through the bygone proceedings of the adversaries of the said true religion was that the said persons summoned to his highness's late parliament for the treasonable causes and crimes contained in the summons executed against them upon occasion of the blanks and letters intercepted concerning trafficking with strangers for the troubling of the true religion, his highness and other professors thereof and liberty of the realm should be free and unnacusable in time coming for the said causes and crimes, and all process relating thereto to be abolished, deleted, extinct and remain in oblivion for ever, always on certain conditions specified in his highness's edict made relating thereto; specially that the said earls and others who should claim the benefit of the said edict, either by acknowledging and professing of the said true religion within the realm, or by departing and remaining out of the same upon licence as not persuaded in conscience, should make their declarations by writ of their choice of the said conditions to his majesty and to the kirk between then and the 1st day of this instant month of January, and that in token of their acceptance of the benefit and favour of the said edict and faithful promise to fulfil the conditions thereof appointed to them, and should subscribe the duplicate or copy of the said edict with their hands and return the same with their declarations of the choice of the conditions to be kept in the said register between then and the said 1st day of January instant, as in the said edict at more length is contained. Notwithstanding, the said three earls and other special persons above-specified, most unthankful for his majesty's manifold benefits bestowed upon them, have contemptuously disdained and refused to accept the benefit of the said edict, postponing and differing to make choice of the said conditions and to subscribe the duplicate or copy of the same edict with their hands and return the same to his highness before the said 1 January bygone, and through this have worthily lost the whole benefits of the same edict. Therefore his majesty, with advice of his nobility, council and estates presently convened, have declared and declare that the said earls and other persons specially above-named have lost all benefit and favour granted to them by the said edict, as also of all acts and proclamations made in their favour at any time since they were challenged of the said crime for the causes before-specified, and that they shall be accusable by law for the causes and crimes contained in the said summons, as if the said abolition and oblivion had never been granted. And to this effect, the said nobility, council and estates advise his majesty to cause a parliament to be proclaimed and appointed, so soon as conveniently may be, and they to be summoned to underlie trial therein for the said crimes and justice administered as appropriate; and that letters be directed for publication hereof by open proclamation at the market cross of Edinburgh and other places needful, that none pretend ignorance of the same.

  1. NAS, PC1/15, 267-268.
  2. The letters 'a: b:' are written in the left margin immediately under the title in a different (darker) ink.