- Ministrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. I (Kinmont Willie) by Sir Walter Scott
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Ministrelsy of the Scottish Border, Vol. I
Kinmont Willie

by Sir Walter Scott

In the following rude strains, our forefathers commemorated one of the last, and most gallant atchievements, performed upon the border. The reader will find, in the subjoined extract from Spottiswoode, a minute historical account of the exploit; which is less different from that contained in the ballad than might perhaps have been expected.

Anno, 1596.—"The next year began with a trouble in the borders, which was like to have destroyed the peace betwixt the two realms, and arose upon this occasion. The Lord Scroop being the warden of the west marches of England, and the laird of Bacleuch having the charge of Liddesdale, they sent their deputies to keep a day of truce, for redress of some ordinary matters.—The place of meeting was at the Dayholme of Kershop, where a small brook divideth England from Scotland, and Liddesdale from Bawcastle. There met, as deputy for the laird of Bacleuch, Robert Scott of Hayninge; and for the Lord Scroop, a gentleman within the west wardenry, called Mr. Salkeld. These two, after truce taken and proclaimed, as the custom was, by sound of trumpet, met friendly, and, upon mutual redress of such wrongs as were then complained of, parted in good terms, each of them taking his way homewards. Meanwhile it happened, one William Armstrong, commonly called Will of Kinmonth, to be in company with the Scottish deputy, against whom the English had a quarrel, for many wrongs he had committed, as he was indeed a notorious thief. This man, having taken his leave of the Scots deputy, and riding down the river of Liddel on the Scottish side, towards his own house, was pursued by the English, who espied him from the other side of the river, and, after a chase of three or four miles, taken prisoner, and brought back to the English deputy, who carried him away to the castle of Carlisle.

"The laird of Bacleuch complaining of the breach of truce (which was always taken from the time of meeting, unto the next day at sun-rising), wrote to Mr. Salkeld, and craved redress. He excused himself by the absence of the Lord Scroop. Whereupon Bacleuch sent to the Lord Scroop, and desired the prisoner might be set at liberty, without any bond or condition, seeing he was unlawfully taken. Scroop answered, that he could do nothing in the matter, it having so happened, without a direction from the queen and council of England, considering the man was such a malefactor.—Bacleuch, loth to inform the king of what was done, lest it might have bred some misliking betwixt the princes, dealt with Mr. Bowes, the resident ambassador of England, for the prisoner's liberty; who wrote very seriously to the Lord Scroop in that business, advising him to set the man free, and not to bring the matter to a farther hearing. But no answer was returned: the matter thereupon was imparted to the king, and the queen of England solicited by letters to give direction for his liberty; yet nothing was obtained; which Bacleuch perceiving, and apprehending both the king, and himself as the king's officer, to be touched in honour, he resolved to work the prisoner's relief, by the best means he could.

"And, upon intelligence that the castle of Carlisle, wherein the prisoner was kept, was surprisable, he employed some trusty persons to take a view of the postern gate, and measure the height of the wall, which he meant to scale by ladders, and, if those failed, to break through the wall with some iron instruments, and force the gates. This done, so closely as he could, he drew together some two hundred horse, assigning the place of meeting at the tower of Morton, some ten miles from Carlisle, an hour before sun-set. With this company, passing the water of Esk, about the falling, two hours before day, he crossed Eden beneath Carlisle bridge (the water, through the rain that had fallen, being thick), and came to the Sacery, a plain under the castle. There making a little halt, at the side of a small bourn, which they call Cadage, he caused eighty of the company to light from their horses, and take the ladders, and other instruments which he had prepared, with them. He himself, accompanying them to the foot of the wall, caused the ladders to be set to it, which proving too short, he gave order to use the other instruments for opening the wall nigh the postern; and, finding the business likely to succeed, retired to the rest whom he had left on horseback, for assuring those that entered upon the castle against any eruption from the town. With some little labor a breach was made for single men to enter, and they who first went in, broke open the postern for the rest. The watchmen, and some few the noise awaked, made a little restraint, but they were quickly repressed, and taken captive. After which, they passed to the chamber wherein the prisoner was kept; and, having brought him forth, sounded a trumpet, which was a signal to them without that the enterprize was performed. My Lord Scroope and Mr. Salkeld were both within the house, and to them the prisoner cried "a good night!" The captives taken in the first encounter were brought to Bacleuch, who presently returned them to their master, and would not suffer any spoil, or booty, as they term it, to be carried away; he had straitly forbidden to break open any door, but that where the prisoner was kept, though he might have made prey of all the goods within the castle, and taken the warden himself captive; for he would have it seen, that he did intend nothing but the reparation of his majesty's honor. By this time, the prisoner was brought forth, the town had taken the alarm, the drums were beating, the bells ringing, and a beacon put on the top of the castle, to give warning to the country. Whereupon Bacleuch commanded those that entered the castle, and the prisoner, to horse; and marching again by the Sacery, made to the river at the Stony-bank, on the other side, whereof certain were assembled to stop his passage; but he, causing to sound the trumpet, took the river, day being then broken, and they choosing to give him way, he retired in order through the Grahams of Esk (men at that time of great power, and his un-friends), and came back into Scottish ground two hours after sun-rising, and so homewards.

"This fell out the 13th of April, 1596. The queen of England, having notice sent her of what was done, stormed not a little. One of her chief castles surprised, a prisoner taken forth of the hands of the warden, and carried away, so far within England, she esteemed a great affront. The lieger, Mr. Bowes, in a frequent convention kept at Edinburgh, the 22d of May, did, as he was charged, in a long oration, aggravate the heinousness of the fact, concluding that peace could not longer continue betwixt the two realms, unless Bacleuch were delivered in England, to be punished at the queen's pleasure. Bacleuch compearing, and charged with the fact, made answer—'That he went not into England with intention to assault any of the queen's houses, or to do wrong to any of her subjects, but only to relieve a subject of Scotland unlawfully taken, and more unlawfully detained; that, in the time of a general assurance, in a day of truce, he was taken prisoner against all order, neither did he attempt his relief till redress was refused; and that he had carried the business in such a moderate manner, as no hostility was committed, nor the least wrong offered to any within the castle; yet was he content, according to the ancient treaties observed betwixt the two realms, when as mutual injuries were alleged, to be tried by the commissioners that it should please their majesties to appoint, and submit himself to that which they should decern.'—The convention, esteeming the answer reasonable, did acquaint the ambassador therewith, and offered to send commissioners to the borders, with all diligence, to treat with such as the queen should be pleased to appoint for her part.

"But she, not satisfied with the answer, refused to appoint any commissioners; whereupon the council of England did renew the complaint in July thereafter; and the business being of new agitated, it was resolved of as before, and that the same should be remitted to the trial of commissioners: the king protesting, 'that he might, with great reason, crave the delivery of Lord Scroope, for the injury committed by his deputy, it being less favourable to take a prisoner, than relieve him that is unlawfully taken; yet, for the continuing of peace, he would forbear to do it, and omit nothing, on his part, that could be desired, either in equity, or by the laws of friendship.'—The borders, in the mean time, making daily incursions one upon another, filled all their parts with trouble, the English being continually put to the worse; neither were they made quiet, till, for satisfying the queen, the laird of Bacleuch was first committed in St. Andrews, and afterwards entered in England, where he remained not long [159]."—Spottiswood's History of the Church of Scotland, p. 414, 416, Ed. 1677.

Scott of Satchells, in the extraordinary poetical performance, which he has been pleased to entitle A History of the Name of Scott (published 1688), dwells, with great pleasure, upon this gallant achievement, at which, it would seem, his father had been present. He also mentions, that the laird of Buccleuch employed the services of the younger sons and brothers only of his clan, lest the name should have been weakened by the landed men incurring forfeiture. But he adds, that three gentlemen of estate insisted upon attending their chief, notwithstanding this prohibition. These were, the lairds of Harden and Commonside, and Sir Gilbert Elliot of the Stobbs, a relation of the laird of Buccleuch, and ancestor to the present Sir William Elliot, Bart. In many things Satchells agrees with the ballads current in his time, from which, in all probability, he derived most of his information as to past events, and from which he sometimes pirates whole verses, as noticed in the annotations upon the Raid of the Reidswire. In the present instance, he mentions the prisoner's large spurs (alluding to the fetters), and some other little incidents noticed in the ballad, which was, therefore, probably well known in his days.

All contemporary historians unite in extolling the deed itself as the most daring and well-conducted atchievement of that age. "Audax facinus cum modica manu, in urbe maenibus et multitudine oppidanorum munita, et callidae: audaciae, vix ullo obsisti modo potuit."—Johnstoni Historia, Ed. Amstael. p. 215. Birrel, in his gossipping way, says, the exploit was performed "with shouting and crying, and sound of trumpet, puttand the said toun and countrie in sic ane fray, that the like of sic ane wassaladge wes nevir done since the memory of man, no not in Wallace dayis."—Birrel's Diary, April 6, 1596. This good old citizen of Edinburgh also mentions another incident which I think proper to insert here, both as relating to the personages mentioned in the following ballad, and as tending to shew the light in which the men of the border were regarded, even at this late period, by their fellow subjects. The author is talking of the king's return to Edinburgh, after the disgrace which he had sustained there, during the riot excited by the seditious ministers, on December 17, 1596. Proclamation had been made, that the Earl of Mar should keep the West Port, Lord Seton the Nether-Bow, and Buccleuch, with sundry others, the High Gate. "Upon the morn, at this time, and befoir this day, thair wes ane grate rumour and word among the tounesmen, that the kinges M. sould send in Will Kinmond, the common thieffe, and so many southland men as sould spulye the toun of Edinburgh. Upon the whilk, the haill merchants tuik thair haill gear out of their buiths or chops, and transportit the same to the strongest hous that wes in the toune, and remained in the said hous, thair, with thameselfis, thair servants, and luiking for nothing bot that thai sould have been all spulyeit. Sic lyke the hail craftsmen and comons convenit themselfis, thair best guides, as it wer ten or twelve householdes in are, whilk wes the strongest hous, and might be best kepit from spuilyeing or burning, with hagbut, pistolet, and other sic armour, as might best defend thameselfis. Judge, gentill reider, giff this wes playing." The fear of the borderers being thus before the eyes of the contumacious citizens of Edinburgh, James obtained a quiet hearing for one of his favourite orisones, or harangues, and was finally enabled to prescribe terms to his fanatic metropolis. Good discipline was, however, maintained by the chiefs upon this occasion; although the fears of the inhabitants were but too well grounded, considering what had happened in Stirling ten years before, when the Earl of Angus, attended by Home, Buccleuch, and other border chieftains, marched thither to remove the Earl of Arran from the king's councils: the town was miserably pillaged by the borderers, particularly by a party of Armstrongs, under this very Kinmont Willie, who not only made prey of horses and cattle, but even of the very iron grating of the windows.—Johnstoni Historia, p. 102. Ed. Amstael.—Moyse's Memoirs, p. 100.

The renown of Kinmont Willie is not surprising, since, in 1588, the apprehending that freebooter, and Robert Maxwell, natural-brother to the Lord Maxwell, was the main, but unaccomplished, object of a royal expedition to Dumfries. "Rex ... Robertum Maxvallium ... et Gulielmum Armstrangum Kinmonthum latrociniis intestinis externisque famosum, conquiri jubet. Missi e ministerio regio, qui per aspera loca vitabundos persequuntur, magnoque incommodo afficiunt. At illi latebris aut silvis se eripiunt."—Johnstoni Historia, p. 138. About this time, it is possible that Kinmont Willie may have held some connection with the Maxwells, though afterwards a retainer to Buccleuch, the enemy of that tribe. At least, the editor finds, that, in a bond of manrent, granted by Simon Elliot of Whytheuch, in Liddesdale, to Lord Maxwell, styled therein Earl of Morton, dated February 28, 1599, William Armstrang, called Will of Kinmond, appears as a witness.—Syme's MSS. According to Satchells, this freebooter was descended of Johnie Armstrong of Gilnockie (See Ballad, p. 105, of this volume.)—Est in juvencis, est et in equis, patrum virtus. In fact, his rapacity made his very name proverbial. Mas James Melvine, in urging reasons against subscribing the act of supremacy, in 1584, asks ironically, "Who shall take order with vice and wickedness? The court and bishops? As well as Martine Elliot, and Will of Kinmont, with stealing upon the borders!"—Calderwood, p. 168.

This affair of Kinmont Willie was not the only occasion upon which the undaunted keeper of Liddesdale gave offence to the haughty Elizabeth. For, even before this business was settled, certain of the English borderers having invaded Liddesdale, and wasted the country, the laird of Buccleuch retaliated the injury by a raid into England, in which he not only brought off much spoil, but apprehended thirty-six of the Tynedale thieves, all of whom he put to death.—Spottiswoode, p. 450. How highly the Queen of England's resentment blazed on this occasion, may be judged from the preface to her letter to Bowes, then her ambassador in Scotland. "I wonder how base-minded that king thinks me, that, with patience, I can digest this dishonourable ——. Let him know, therefore, that I will have satisfaction, or else ——." These broken words of ire are inserted betwixt the subscription and the address of the letter.—Rymer, Vol. XVI. p. 318. Indeed, so deadly was the resentment of the English, on account of the affronts put upon them by this formidable chieftain, that there seems at one time to have been a plan formed (not, as was alleged, without Elizabeth's privity,) to assassinate Buccleuch.—Rymer, Vol. XVI. p. 107. The matter was at length arranged by the commissioners of both nations in Berwick, by whom it was agreed that delinquents should be delivered up on both sides, and that the chiefs themselves should enter into ward in the opposite countries, till these were given up, and pledges granted for the future maintenance of the quiet of the borders. Buccleuch, and Sir Robert Ker of Cessford (ancestor of the Duke of Roxburgh), appear to have struggled hard against complying with this regulation; so much so, that it required all James's authority to bring to order these two powerful chiefs.—Rymer, Vol. XVI. p. 322.—Spottiswoode, p. 448.—Carey's Memoirs, p, 131. et sequen.—When at length they appeared, for the purpose of delivering themselves up to be warded at Berwick, an incident took place, which nearly occasioned a revival of the deadly feud which formerly subsisted between the Scots and the Kers. Buccleuch had chosen, for his guardian, during his residence in England, Sir William Selby, master of the ordnance at Berwick, and accordingly gave himself into his hands. Sir Robert Ker was about to do the same, when a pistol was discharged by one of his retinue, and the cry of treason was raised. Had not the Earl of Home been present, with a party of Merse men, to preserve order, a dreadful tumult would probably have ensued. As it was, the English commissioners returned in dismay to Berwick, much disposed to wreak their displeasure on Buccleuch; and he, on his side, mortally offended with Cessford, by whose means, as he conceived, he had been placed in circumstances of so much danger. Sir Robert Ker, however, appeased all parties, by delivering himself up to ward in England; on which occasion, he magnanimously chose for his guardian Sir Robert Carey, deputy-warden of the east marches, notwithstanding various causes of animosity which existed betwixt them. The hospitality of Carey equalled the generous confidence of Cessford, and a firm friendship was the consequence [160].

Buccleuch appears to have remained in England from October, 1597, till February, 1598.—Johnstoni Historia, p. 231,—Spottiswoode, ut supra. According to ancient family tradition, Buccleuch was presented to Elizabeth, who, with her usual rough and peremptory address, demanded of him, "how he dared to undertake an enterprize so desperate and presumptuous." "What is it," answered the undaunted chieftain, "What is it that a man dares not do!" Elizabeth, struck with the reply, turned to a lord in waiting; "With ten thousand such men," said she, "our brother of Scotland might shake the firmest throne of Europe." Luckily, perhaps, for the murtheress of Queen Mary, James's talents did not lie that way.

The articles, settled by the commissioners at Berwick, were highly favourable to the peace of the border. They may be seen at large in the Border Laws, p. 103. By article sixth, all wardens and keepers are discharged from seeking reparation of injuries, in the ancient hostile mode of riding, or causing to ride, in warlike manner, against the opposite march; and that under the highest penalty, unless authorized by a warrant under the hand of their sovereign. The mention of the word keeper, alludes obviously to the above-mentioned reprisals, made by Buccleuch in the capacity of keeper of Liddesdale.

This ballad is preserved, by tradition, on the west borders, but much mangled by reciters; so that some conjectural emendations have been absolutely necessary to render it intelligible. In particular, the Eden has been substituted for the Eske, p. 193, the latter name being inconsistent with geography.


O have ye na heard o' the fause Sakelde?
O have ye na heard o' the keen Lord Scroop?
How they hae ta'en bauld Kinmont Willie,
On Hairibee to hang him up?

Had Willie had but twenty men,
But twenty men as stout as he,
Fause Sakelde had never the Kinmont ta'en,
Wi' eight score in his cumpanie.

They band his legs beneath the steed,
They tied his hands behind his back;
They guarded him, fivesome on each side,
And they brought him ower the Liddel-rack.

They led him thro' the Liddel-rack,
And also thro' the Carlisle sands;
They brought him to Carlisle castell,
To be at my Lord Scroop's commands.

"My hands are tied, but my tongue is free!
And whae will dare this deed avow?
Or answer by the border law?
Or answer to the bauld Buccleuch!"

"Now haud thy tongue, thou rank reiver!
There's never a Scot shall set ye free:
Before ye cross my castle yate,
I trow ye shall take farewell o' me."

"Fear na ye that, my lord," quo' Willie:
"By the faith o' my body, Lord Scroop," he said,
"I never yet lodged in a hostelrie, [161]
But I paid my lawing [162] before I gaed."

Now word is gane to the bauld Keeper,
In Branksome Ha', where that he lay,
That Lord Scroop has ta'en the Kinmont Willie,
Between the hours of night and day.

He has ta'en the table wi' his hand,
He garr'd the red wine spring on hie—
"Now Christ's curse on my head," he said,
"But avenged of Lord Scroop I'll be!

"O is my basnet [163] a widow's curc >[164]
Or my lance a wand of the willow tree?
Or my arm a ladye's lilye hand,
That an English lord should lightly [165] me!

"And have they ta'en him, Kinmont Willie,
Against the truce of border tide?
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch
Is Keeper here on the Scottish side?

"And have they e'en ta'en him, Kinmont Willie,
Withouten either dread or fear?
And forgotten that the bauld Buccleuch
Can back a steed, or shake a spear?

"O were there war between the lands,
As well I wot that there is none,
I would slight Carlisle castell high,
Tho' it were builded of marble stone.

"I would set that castell in a low, [166]
And sloken it with English blood!
There's nevir a man in Cumberland,
Should ken where Carlisle castell stood.

"But since nae war's between the lands,
And there is peace, and peace should be;
I'll neither harm English lad or lass,
And yet the Kinmont freed shall be!"

He has call'd him forty marchmen bauld,
I trow they were of his ain name,
Except Sir Gilbert Elliot, call'd
The laird of Stobs, I mean the same.

He has call'd him forty marchmen bauld,
Were kinsmen to the bauld Buccleuch;
With spur on heel, and splent on spauld, >[167]
And gleuves of green, and feathers blue.

There were five and five before them a',
Wi' hunting horns and bugles bright;
And five and five came wi' Buccleuch,
Like warden's men, arrayed for fight:

And five and five, like a mason gang,
That carried the ladders lang and hie;
And five and five, like broken men;
And so they reached the Woodhouselee.

And as we cross'd the Bateable Land,
When to the English side we held,
The first o' men that we met wi',
Whae sould it be but fause Sakelde?

"Where be ye gaun, ye hunters keen?"
Quo' fause Sakelde; "come tell to me!"
"We go to hunt an English stag,
Has trespassed on the Scots countrie."

"Where be ye gaun, ye marshal men?"
Quo' fause Sakelde; "come tell me true!"'
"We go to catch a rank reiver,
Has broken faith wi' the bauld Buccleuch."

"Where are ye gaun, ye mason lads,
Wi' a' your ladders, lang and hie?"
"We gang to herry a corbie's nest,
That wons not far frae Woodhouselee."

"Where be ye gaun, ye broken men?"
Quo' fause Sakelde; "come tell to me!"
Now Dickie of Dryhope led that band,
And the never a word o' lear had he.

"Why trespass ye on the English side?
Row-footed outlaws, stand!" quo' he;
The never a word had Dickie to say,
Sae he thrust the lance thro' his fause bodie.

Then on we held for Carlisle toun,
And at Staneshaw-bank the Eden we cross'd;
The water was great and meikle of spait,
But the nevir a horse nor man we lost.

And when we reached the Staneshaw-bank,
The wind was rising loud and hie;
And there the laird garr'd leave our steeds,
For fear that they should stamp and nie.

And when we left the Staneshaw-bank,
The wind began full loud to blaw;
But 'twas wind and weet, and fire and sleet,
When we came beneath the castle wa'.

We crept on knees, and held our breath,
Till we placed the ladders against the wa';
And sae ready was Buccleuch himsell
To mount the first, before us a'.

He has ta'en the watchman by the throat,
He flung him down upon the lead—
"Had there not been peace between our land,
Upon the other side thou hadst gaed!—

"Now sound out, trumpets!" quo' Buccleuch;
"Let's waken Lord Scroop, right merrilie!"
Then loud the warden's trumpet blew—
"O whae dare meddle wi' me?" [168]

Then speedilie to work we gaed,
And raised the slogan ane and a'.
And cut a hole thro' a sheet of lead,
And so we wan to the castle ha'.

They thought King James and a' his men
Had won the house wi' bow and spear;
It was but twenty Scots and ten,
That put a thousand in sic a stear! [169]

Wi' coulters and wi' fore-hammers,
We garr'd the bars bang merrilie,
Untill we cam to the inner prison,
Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie.

And when we cam to the lower prison,
Where Willie o' Kinmont he did lie—
"O sleep ye, wake ye, Kinmont Willie,
Upon the morn that thou's to die?"

"O I sleep saft, [170] and I wake aft;
Its lang since sleeping was fleyed [171] frae me!
Gie my service back to my wife and bairns,
And a' gude fellows that speer for me."

Then Red Rowan has hente him up,
The starkest man in Teviotdale—
"Abide, abide now, Red Rowan,
Till of my Lord Scroope I take farewell.

"Farewell, farewell, my gude Lord Scroope!
My gude Lord Scroope, farewell!" he cried—
"I'll pay you for my lodging maill, [172]
When first we meet on the border side."

Then shoulder high, with shout and cry,
We bore him down the ladder lang;
At every stride Red Rowan made,
I wot the Kinmont's aims played clang!

"O mony a time," quo' Kinmont Willie,
"I have ridden horse baith wild and wood;
But a rougher beast than Red Rowan,
I ween my legs have ne'er bestrode.

"And mony a time," quo' Kinmont Willie,
"I've pricked a horse out oure the furs; [173]
But since the day I backed a steed,
I never wore sic cumbrous spurs!"

We scarce had won the Staneshaw-bank,
When a' the Carlisle bells were rung,
And a thousand men, in horse and foot,
Cam wi' the keen Lord Scroope along.

Buccleuch has turned to Eden water,
Even where it flow'd frae bank to brim,
And he has plunged in wi' a' his band,
And safely swam them thro' the stream.

He turned him on the other side,
And at Lord Scroope his glove flung he—
"If ye like na my visit in merry England,
In fair Scotland come visit me!"

All sore astonished stood Lord Scroope,
He stood as still as rock of stane;
He scarcely dared to trew his eyes,
When thro' the water they had gane.

"He is either himsell a devil frae hell,
Or else his mother a witch maun be;
I wad na have ridden that wan water,
For a' the gowd in Christentie."


On Hairibee to hang him up?—P. 188. v. 1.
Hairibee is the place of execution at Carlisle.
And they brought him ower the Liddel-rack.—P. 188. v. 3.
The Liddel-rack is a ford on the Liddel.
And so they reached the Woodhouselee.—P. 192. v. 1.
Woodhouselee; a house on the border, belonging to Buccleuch.
The Salkeldes, or Sakeldes, were a powerful family in Cumberland, possessing, among other manors, that of Corby, before it came into the possession of the Howards, in the beginning of the seventeenth century. A strange stratagem was practised by an outlaw, called Jock Grame of the Peartree, upon Mr. Salkelde, sheriff of Cumberland; who is probably the person alluded to in the ballad, as the fact is stated to have happened late in Elizabeth's time. The brother of this freebooter was lying in Carlisle jail for execution, when Jock of the Peartree came riding past the gate of Corby castle. A child of the sheriff was playing before the door, to whom the outlaw gave an apple, saying, "Master, will you ride?" The boy willingly consenting, Grame took him up before him, carried him into Scotland, and would never part with him, till he had his brother safe from the gallows. There is no historical ground for supposing, either that Salkelde, or any one else, lost his life in the raid of Carlisle.

In the list of border clans, 1597, Will of Kinmonth, with Kyrstie Armestrange, and John Skynbanke, are mentioned as leaders of a band of Armstrongs, called Sandies Barnes, inhabiting the Debateable Land. The ballad itself has never before been published.


[159] The bishop is, in this last particular, rather inaccurate. Buccleuch was indeed delivered into England, but this was done in consequence of the judgment of commissioners of both nations, who met at Berwick this same year. And his delivery took place, less on account of the raid of Carlisle, than of a second exploit of the same nature, to be noticed hereafter.

[160] Such traits of generosity illuminate the dark period of which we treat. Carey's conduct, on this occasion, almost atones for the cold and unfeeling policy with which he watched the closing moments of his benefactress, Elizabeth, impatient till remorse and sorrow should extort her last sigh, that he might lay the foundation of his future favour with her successor, by carrying him the first tidings of her death.—Carey's Memoirs, p. 172. et sequen. It would appear that Sir Robert Ker was soon afterwards committed to the custody of the archbishop of York; for there is extant a letter from that prelate to the lord-treasurer, desiring instructions about the mode of keeping this noble hostage. "I understand," saith he, "that the gentleman is wise and valiant, but somewhat haughty here, and resolute. I would pray your lordship, that I may have directions whether he may not go with his keeper in my company, to sermons; and whether he may not sometimes dine with the council, as the last hostages did; and, thirdly, whether he may sometimes be brought to sitting to the common-hall, where he may see how careful her majesty is that the poorest subject in her kingdom may have their right, and that her people seek remedy by law, and not by avenging themselves. Perhaps it may do him good as long as he liveth."—Strype's Annals, ad annum, 1597. It would appear, from this letter, that the treatment of the hostages was liberal; though one can hardly suppress a smile at the zeal of the good bishop for the conversion of the Scottish chieftain to a more christian mode of thinking than was common among the borderers of that day. The date is February 25. 1597, which is somewhat difficult to reconcile with those given by the Scottish historians—Another letter follows, stating, that Sir Robert, having been used to open air, prayed for more liberty for his health's sake, "offering his word, which it is said he doth chiefly regard, that he would be true prisoner."—Strype, Ibid.

[161] Hostelrie—Inn.

[162] Lawing—Reckoning.

[163] Basnet—Helmet.

[164] Curch—Coif.

[165] Lightly—Set light by.

[166] Low—Flame.

[167] Splent on spauld—Armour on shoulder.

[168] The name of a border tune.

[169] Stear—Stir.

[170] Soft—Light.

[171] Fleyed—Frightened.

[172] Maill—Rent.

[173] Furs—Furrows.
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