Act in favour of [Patrick Stewart], earl of Orkney

30. In the parliament held at Edinburgh, 11 August 1607, by virtue of a special commission granted by our sovereign lord to that effect under his majesty's great seal of the date at his highness's court of Theobalds, 13 July 1607, compeared personally Sir Thomas Hamilton of Binning, knight, advocate to our sovereign lord, and in presence of the whole estates of parliament produced a summons of forfeiture raised at the instance of the said lord advocate for his highness's interest, against Patrick, earl of Orkney, whereof the tenor follows:

James, by the grace of God, king of Great Britain, France and Ireland, and defender of the faith, gives greetings to our beloved lyon king of arms, Islay, Albany, Ross, Rothesay, Snowdon, Marchmont, heralds, David Bryson, Alexander Douglas, James Chalmers and Master William Stewart, macers, Ormond, Bute, Unicorn and Carrick pursuivants, messengers, and any of you, jointly and severally, our sheriffs in that part. We mandate and instruct you to summon lawfully and peremptorily Patrick, earl of Orkney, in person if you can have his presence in person, but if otherwise at the market cross of Edinburgh and the port, commonly called the shore and pier of Leith, by virtue of letters of dispensation of the lords of our privy council, that he should compear before us or our commissioner of our realm of Scotland, and our justice and the three estates of our realm in our parliament in Edinburgh, or where it happens that we or our said commissioner, justice and the estates of our said realm meet, to be held on 20 March next, at the time of dealing with cases, with continuation of days, in order to answer to us or our justice in our foresaid parliament and at the instance of our beloved and loyal councillor Lord Thomas Hamilton of Monkland, knight, our advocate for our interest, for the nefarious and treasonable crimes of lese-majesty of the same Patrick, earl of Orkney, as set out below, perpetrated and committed by him and others with his instruction, help, persuasion, planning and approval, and of which he was and is aware and part of, art and part. Further it is decided, by us and our said commissioner and justice and by the three estates of our said realm, that he has committed the crime of lese-majesty, and has incurred the penalties established for that by law, namely loss of life and goods and other things mentioned below, for the causes and reasons which follow, because it has been established by us and by many of our most serene predecessors as kings of Scotland, and the estates of the said realm, and has been resolved in various parliaments, as well as by fair laws of other races received by us, that if anyone has committed the crime of treason and lese-majesty against a king's majesty or authority, or has taken royal authority upon himself, or as a private person for the power of magistrates has knowingly done things with guile and malice, he should suffer loss of life, lands and all goods. And indeed it is clear that the said Patrick, earl of Orkney has committed very many crimes of treason and lese-majesty, as follows, against us, has usurped our authority and majesty, and with guile and malice has treasonably done, in place of authority or magistrate, what is the prerogative of supreme power, since it is for a supreme prince alone to establish and publish laws and to ordain the penalty of death, exile or rebellion in the case of perpetrators of the same; nevertheless the said Patrick, earl of Orkney, spurning and violating our majesty and authority, and without consulting or informing us, and treasonably usurping our supreme power, established a law and in March or thereabouts in the year of the Lord 1595 by trumpet call treasonably proclaimed a law in his name that no inhabitant of Orkney and no one calling there should carry a sword, dagger, knife or any other weapon without licence from him, under pain of death. On account of the violation of his said statute, the said Patrick in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1595 violently and treasonably took prisoner John [Stewart], master of Orkney, his brother and free subject of ours, and consigned him to close custody. Also for the same reason he took William Todd, a citizen of Edinburgh, cruelly shackled him and treasonably kept him prisoner for a long time. Secondly, the said Patrick, earl of Orkney, in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1595 and also in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1598, and also in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1600 ordained and treasonably proclaimed by public edict that no inhabitant of Orkney should lodge a complaint against him with us, the lords of our session or privy council or any justice, or initiate a lawsuit, or embark upon or prosecute any civil or criminal action on any matter under any judge other than the said Patrick's deputies, and he forced very many noblemen, inhabitants of Orkney, to support and agree with him, under pain of loss of all lands and goods and above all of exile. On account of his transgressing his said order, in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1595 he treasonably took William Bannatyne of Gairsay, stole from him our letters of security and caution regarding non-offending (commonly called our 'letters of lawborrows') and treasonably tore them up and burned them, and on account of their execution flung our messenger into chains, and treasonably and most savagely subjected him to a new torture of unusual cruelty invented by him (commonly called 'caschelawes').2 By his treasonable sentence he forced the said William Bannatyne into perpetual exile from Orkney. Thirdly, the said Patrick treasonably forced all the noble and honest citizens of the said islands and their domestic servants to swear by their signature that if anyone heard any talk insulting to him, or any complaint about savagery, iniquity, injuries or tyranny reported by anyone, within 24 hours they were to report it to the said Patrick under pain of confiscation of all lands and goods and the exile of themselves and their descendants. If anyone were to receive any enemy of the said Patrick or help him at all, he should suffer the same penalty. Finally, by the same edict he treasonably obliged them to foster, help and safeguard any of his causes and business, against all mortals (no one excepted - even ourselves). Fourthly, the said Patrick, earl of Orkney, in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1592, treasonably forging a commission of lieutenant granted by us to him, and by the work of his servant Andrew Martin on the orders of the said Patrick treasonably copying and forging our signature, and equally having forged our signet, treasonably usurped our authority on that pretext and by public proclamation issued at the sound of the trumpet, as if he had had a lawful commission from us, when in reality none had ever been sought or granted, ordered all the inhabitants of the said islands to take up arms and gather on his authority as if our commissioner, take orders from his lieutenant, and besiege the castle of Kirkwall, and forced them - terrified by the commission and edict issued in our name - to hand over to him the guards of the castle and the castle itself. Fifthly, the said Patrick treasonably imposed upon the inhabitants of the said Orkney islands and Shetland tributes which are the prerogative of a supreme prince alone, and cruelly and excessively exacted them in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1594, in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1595 the sum of 20,000 merks, and in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1596 imposed a tribute exceeding £20,000 on the same inhabitants of Orkney and Shetland, and when they refused to pay exacted it from them savagely against their will by distraint of lands and goods, to their great loss, and without any pity for the impoverishment of the islanders. Also, in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord [15]95 he demanded of them another huge and intolerable tribute to the sum of £1,000 so that he could buy a huge ship for himself. Sixthly, the said Patrick in the month of November in the year of the Lord 1598 called together a large number of armed men, allocated them to divisions under leaders and standards, and treasonably made war on Michael Balfour of Mountquhanie, our free and loyal subject, and besieged the said Michael's castle of Noltland with all kinds of hostility. Attacking and invading it with iron, fire and war engines day and night, he eventually forced the besieged, moved by the force of imminent and most cruel death, to hand it over to him. He took them away as captives and detained them treasonably for many days. Seventhly, the said Patrick, earl of Orkney in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1591 and in 1592, with the late Francis [Stewart], earl of Bothwell (at the time under condemnation as a rebel) treasonably plotted against us and using messengers frequently informed him of our plans and actions. He sent large sums of money though the late Henry Colville, a domestic of Patrick's, so that troops could be led against us, and he treasonably and with hostile intent helped the said Francis against us. Also, the said Patrick often met with Master John Colville (a notary) who had been condemned and publicly proclaimed a rebel, they plotted together, and warned the said Francis, earl of Bothwell by letters sent through George Traill, a domestic of the said Patrick, in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1594, and took several soldiers in his pay and put them at the disposal of the said Master John Colville (a rebel against us) as his companions, guards and defenders in the said month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1594 and in various other months and years - while he was still a rebel. Eighthly, the said Patrick, earl of Orkney harbouring the inveterate contempt he felt for us, by all the treasonable acts expressly mentioned above, in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1597 had been warned by letters from his friends how much offence he had given to us and our destitute and loyal subjects by his tyranny, and how he might the more easily seek pardon, regain his goods which had been taken from him, against law and natural justice, and recall those exiled by his unjust sentence, their houses restored to them, and allow them to use and enjoy their properties and goods in future in peace, he insultingly and treasonably replied that his friends would be acting rightly if they treated with us and sweetly persuaded our wife not to entrust any of his exiles and rebels to him, as he was neither willing or able to grant them any favour or pardon for their offences in our grace. [He claimed that] if we were to decree anything severe against him, he would see to it that on their return we would spend and consume their patrimonial and demesne fund and indeed our crown before we would force him to do anything against his will. Ninthly, the said Patrick, earl of Orkney, in December of the year of the Lord 1594, treasonably set out to set fire to and destroy the only room which remained as a refuge for the servants of the said James Stewart of Graemsay - the only place left after all the rest had been destroyed by the tyranny of the said Patrick - and monstrously besieged it (containing as it did the servants of the said James) with his own domestic servants and mercenaries who had been sent there by his express order. Tenthly, the said Patrick, earl of Orkney, usurping every prerogative of our majesty, in the month of [...] in the year of the Lord 1598, ordaining the death penalty for the crime of any thought against him, called to justice Thomas Paplay and William Spaner on the ground of initiating a faction against him and a plot to kill him, they were convicted and condemned on that ground alone by his deputies, and punished by death. He saw to it that David Angus, on the ground of alleged knowledge of the said plot and concealing it, was equally put to death. Eleventhly, the said Patrick, a rebel and denounced by our horn, on account of his contempt and disobedience of our letters and instructions, when we and the lords of our privy council had sent other letters, as is the custom and according to the laws and practice of our realm, to the said Patrick, earl of Orkney on account of his forementioned acts of rebellion under pain of treason and lese-majesty, was ordered to surrender our castles to our messenger who was executing our letters in our name, and be at our castle of Blackness to be kept safe as a prisoner, when our messenger and trumpeter had come to Kirkwall to execute the said letters, they were prevented by Captain Henry Black, a domestic of the said earl, from leaving their lodgings, under pain of death, until the said Patrick, because, having been informed of their arrival, had made clear his will on the subject. On the following day, excessively [...] in the month of October in the year of the Lord 1604 - while the said trumpeter was a prisoner as before in his lodgings on the orders of the said Patrick, and had been on his instruction detained, the messenger alone was permitted privately to make proclamation at the Kirkwall cross. The said Patrick, earl of Orkney treasonably disregarded the instructions and orders of our said letters, and after the execution of the said letters did not go to the said Blackness Castle or hand himself over to custody, but contemptuously and treasonably continually from that time onwards did what he wanted at his own arbitrament and instructions in the said Orkney and Shetland islands. As a result of the foresaid crimes and each one of them, the said Patrick, earl of Orkney has committed the crime of treason and lese-majesty and it should be decreed that he has deserved, incurred and should suffer the penalties established by law for the same. Therefore it is decreed, declared and ordained, for seeing and hearing, by us and by our commissioner and justice and by the three estates of our realm, that the said Patrick, earl of Orkney has perpetrated and committed the foresaid crimes of lese-majesty and treasonable rebellion respectively, and has been and is aware and active (commonly art and part) and ought to bear and suffer the appropriate legal penalties for the foresaid crimes, namely loss and confiscation of all goods both immovable and movable, lands and tenements, honours and dignities and everything else. The said lands, tenements, properties and all movable and immovable goods, rights, honours and dignities and everything else relating or pertaining to him, or which could relate or pertain to him in any way, are forfeit to us and pertain to us and remain in perpetuity as our property. Further, it is necessary to answer in respect of the foregoing and submit to the law. It is intimated to the said Patrick, earl of Orkney that whether he has compeared on the said day and in the said place, with continuation of days, or not, either we and our said commissioner and justice shall proceed in regard to the foregoing, in line with justice. Further, you are to summon to compear before us or our commissioner and justice in our said parliament on the said day and in the said place at the hour of cases, with continuation of days to demonstrate loyal testimony in respect of the foresaid, under pain [of the law]. Also, you shall hand over the present letter, duly executed and endorsed, to their bearer. Also you who have served writs in person are to be on the said day in the said place, in the presence of ourselves or our commissioner and justice, bearing with you written proof of your summons in relation to the foregoing, or witnesses themselves. To carry this out, we give full authority to you, and to whomsoever of you, our sheriffs in this regard, jointly and severally. Given under testimony of our great seal, at Edinburgh on 1 January 1606, and in the thirty-ninth and third years of our reign.

Upon the production of the which summons above-written and executions thereof, the said Sir Thomas Hamilton, advocate to our sovereign lord, asked instruments. And immediately thereafter, in presence of the said estates, Master Alexander King, procurator for the said Patrick, earl of Orkney, produced his highness's letter and warrant underwritten, superscribed with his majesty's hand, of the which the tenor follows:

James Rex. Sir Thomas Hamilton of Binning, knight, our advocate, we greet you well. Forasmuch as it is understood to us that there is a summons of forfeiture intended against our cousin Patrick, earl of Orkney, more summarily than is accustomed in such cases, and that the reasons contained therein are altogether false and frivolous and for the most part already decided so in council, it is, therefore, our pleasure that upon the sight hereof you compear in our next session of parliament held there in our country of North Britain before our three estates, and thereafter calling of the said summons, renounce the same of law, lawsuit and cause, and crave an act of our parliament to be extended thereupon as you will answer to us; concerning which, this letter shall be your sufficient warrant and to our three estates. Given at our court in Whitehall, 19 November 1606.

The which letter and warrant being publicly read in presence of the said estates, the said lord advocate asked instruments upon the production and contents thereof, and according to the same warrant, and for obedience thereof, the said advocate in our sovereign lord's name renounced the foresaid summons of forfeiture and whole action and reasons therein contained competent to his majesty of law, lawsuit and cause, according to the desire of the said warrant above-inserted in all points, and protested that the same letter be inserted in the books of parliament for his and the said estates' warrant in the said matter; to the which whole premises the said estates have interposed and interpose their authority.

  1. NAS, PA2/17, f.21v-23r.
  2. An illegal instrument of torture (known only from the passage quoted, among others). See DSL for other examples.