The Ruthven Raid 22 August 1582

 The Ruthven Raid, as it was called, was the result of a rising by the people and reaction by nobles who were thoroughly disgusted with the autocratic and offensive antics of the royal favourites, the Earl of Arran and the Duke of Lennox.

 A former favourite of the Regent Queen Mary of Guise, the Frenchman, Esme Stuart, became a favourite with the young King James. He was a nephew of the 4th Earl of Lennox and descended in that line from James II of Scotland. Well connected and charismatic - so far as the sixteen year old James was concerned, he was also suspected of being a papal agent. Against a background of resentment Esme Stuart sought to bring down the Regent, the Earl of Morton. In this he was aided by a Captain James Stewart of Bothwellmuir, the brother of John Knox`s second wife, Margaret Stewart. The Captain interrupted a Privy Council meeting to accuse  Morton with complicity in the murder of Lord Darnley. Morton admitted fore knowledge but not direct involvement and was subsequently executed by `the Maiden` in June 1581. For this Esme Stuart was made the first Duke of  Lennox;  Captain James Stewart was made Earl of Arran, and Lord Ruthven (son of David Rizzio`s murderer) made Earl of Gowrie.

 When Boyd, the Archbishop of Glasgow died, the Duke of Lennox offered the vacant See to several ministers on condition that they make over to him a substantial portion of the incomes. This offer was taken up by Robert Montgomery, a minister from Stirling, regarded by many as a vain, feeble and presumptuous person. It was a blatant simoniacal purchase which the General Assembly deplored. In 1582 things came to a head with the King intervening in favour of Montgomery but the General Assembly confirmed a sentence of suspension. The question at issue then being whether the church should obey the state and give up its spiritual independence only recently achieved. Montgomery was summoned before the Assembly but did not appear and was sentenced in his absence to be excommunicated.

 Montgomery then entered a meeting of the Presbytery of Glasgow who had assembled for the purpose of his excommunication. Accompanied by magistrates and armed supporters he sought to interrupt the proceedings by force with the Moderator losing one of his teeth in the action. The Presbytery continued and remitted the task to the Presbytery of Edinburgh who instructed John Davidson to proceed. Davidson was threatened by Lennox but despite this, excommunication was pronounced and repeated in churches in Glasgow and Edinburgh the following Sabbath. Shortly after Montgomery was literally chased from Edinburgh by a mob of disgruntled citizens.

Andrew Melville had preached at the General Assembly about the autocratic behaviour towards the church and attempts to reintroduce Popery. Subsequently Melville was with a party making a Remonstrance  to the King which was challenged by Arran who asked “Who dares subscribe these treasonable articles ? Melville responded `We dare` and subscribed the document there and then. Melville was pursued in 1584  by the vindictive Earl of Arran for his alleged treasonable statements and  forced to flee to Berwick.

 Imprudently perhaps, but with the best of intentions, some nobles seized the boy King James VI  while he was on a hunting trip in Atholl, Perthshire. He was met on 22 August by the Earl of Gowrie (who had changed sides), the Earl of Mar, the Master of Glames, the Master of Oliphant, Lochlevin (the younger) the Laird of Cleish, the Laird of Easter Wemes and Sir Lewes Bellendine  and others, and  invited to visit Ruthven Castle where he found himself a prisoner. He was held in the Huntingtower Castle, Perth. On the 23 August the abductors tendered a Supplication to the King which explained their reasons for his custody and their great concerns at the behaviour and intent of the Duke of Lennox and the Earl of Arran that threatened the throne and the religion of Scotland.  Calderwoods History says :

 We  have suffered now about the space of two yeeres such false accusations, calumneis, oppressions and persecutions, by the moyen of the Duke of Lennox, and him who is called Erle of Arran, that the like of their insolenceis and enormeteis were never heretofore borne with in Scotland.

  The Earl of Arran, who was no coward, rode with his brother William  and clashed with forces of the Earl of Mar near Perth; he was refused audience with the King  and was  taken prisoner. Following his seizure the King was held at Ruthven Castle then at Stirling. During this time he was prevented from escaping by Gowrie and burst into tears to which Gowrie is said to have remarked

 better that bairns weep than bearded men.

   The King was to remember this treatment and would take his revenge.

The King, some say, was forced to sign two proclamations, one that he freely chose to be in Perth, and again when he was moved to Stirling. Meanwhile Lennox moved into Edinburgh from Dalkeith for his own safety then moved on to Glasgow. The Kings letter directing no aid to be given to Lennox pending his removal from the Kingdom was proclaimed in Glasgow on 7 September, but it was not until 21 December that Lennox finally departed. After some ten months as the guest of the Earl of Gowrie, in June 1583  James escaped while on a visit to St Andrews. The lords involved in the raid were sentenced to be banished and James did not forgive the church who had condoned the action.

 The Earl of Arran now took centre stage as the obnoxious favourite when he was appointed Chancellor in 1584. In April 1584 Stirling Castle was seized by the nobles but surrendered on 24 April when the King and Arran besieged it with an army of twelve thousand troops. The nobles were however, weakened in their resolve when the Earl of Gowrie was seized in Dundee and imprisoned, and they fled to Berwick. Gowrie was executed on 2 May 1584 along with the captain of Ruthven Castle, and three others hanged.


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