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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. II


doultay?s Hi11.1 THE LYON KING-OF-ARMS. 37= _. able testimonial, signed and sealed by all the members of that corporation. When the Civil War broke out, though a staunch Presbyterian, Sir James remained loyal to the king, for whose Scots Under the Lord Lyon were the messengers-atarms, whose duty is still to execute all summonses before the Court of Session, to apprehend the persons of debtors, and generally to perform the executive parts of the law. By the twelfth Parliament of James VI. and the second Parliament of Charles 11. it is defined that the province of the Lyon-who takes his name from the emblem in the royal standard-is to adjust matters of precedence, and marshal public processions ; also to inspect the coats of arms of the nobility and gentry; to punish those who assume arms to which they have no hereditary right ; to bestow coats of arms upon the deserving ; to grant supporters in certain cases; and to take cognisance of, and to punish, offences committed by messengers-at-arms in the course of their office. Of old, and before it degenerated into a mere legal sinecure, the office was one of great dignity, and the person of the holder was deemed almost sacred. Thus, Bishop Lesly tells us in his history that in 1515 the aged Lord Drummond was forfeited ? for striking the Lyon, and narrowly escaped the loss of his life and dignity.? In 1530 the office of Lord Lyon was bestowed by James V. upon Sir David Lindesay of the Mount, the celebrated poet, moralist, and reformer, whom, four years after, he sent as an ambassador to Germany, and in 1548 in a similar capacity to Denmark. It was an office imposed upon the Lord Lyon to receive foreign ambassadors, and Lindesay did this honour to Sir Ralf Sadler, who came froni England in 1539-40; and in 1568 Sir David Lindesay of Rathuleit was solemnly crowned King-of-arms, in presence of the Regent and nobility ; and in 1603, as Balfour tells us, ? Sir David Lindesay of Mount, Lyone King-of-arms,? proclaimed at the Cross the accession of James VI. to the English throne. On the 15th of June, 1630, Sir Jerome Lyndsay of Annatland resigned the office in favour of Sir James Balfour of Denmylne, who was crowned as Lyon King by George Earl of Kinnoul, Chancellor of Scotland, acting as royal commissioner, and in 1633 he was created a baronet. Balfour, an eminent antiquary and annalist, was well versed in heraldry, to perfect the study of which, before his appointment, he proceeded to London and became acquainted with Sir Robert Cotton, and Sir William Segar the Garter King, who obtained for him from the heralds? college a highly honour- ? ?The office of Lord Lyon has of late,? says Amot, been held as a sinecure. . . , . The business, therefore, is entirely committed to dewties, who manage it in such a manner that. in a Guards he designed colours in 1649 ; but was deprived of his office by Cromwell, after which be retired to Fifeshire, and collected many manuscripts on the science of heraldry and connected with Scottish history, prior to his death in 1657, and these are now preserved in the Advocates? Library. A fine portrait of him is prefixed to his Annales,? published at Edinburgh in 1824. The installation of a Lyon King is given fully in an account of ?The order observed at the coronation of Sir Alexander Erskirie of Cambo, Baronet, Lord Lyon King-of-arms, at the royal palace of Holyrood House, on the 27th day of July, 1681, his Royal Highness James Duke of Albany and York being his Majesty?s High Commissioner.? In the ceremony of installation the Lord Lyon is duly crowned ; and Sir Alexander was the last who was thus crowned. His father, Sir Charles Erskine of Cambo, had previously been Lyon King, of which office he obtained a ?ratification,? by Parliament in 1672, with remainder to his son. In 1703 the chief Scottish work on heraldry was published by Alexander Nisbet of that ilk, to whom the Scottish Parliament gave a grant of Lz48 6s. 8d. to assist him in bringing it forth. It is related in MacCormick?s ? Life of Principal Carstairs,? that when the latter was a prisoner in the Castle of Edinburgh in 1685, an engaging boy about twelve years of age, son of Erskine of Cambo, then constable of the fortress, used to come almost daily to the open grating of his dungeon, and was wont to sit there for hours, ?lamenting his unhappy situation, and endeavouring by a thousand innocent and childish means to divert him. Sonietimes the boy brought him packages of fruit and provisions (more delicate than the coarse fare of the prison), and, what were of more importance, pens, ink, and paper, and when the prisoner wrote letters carried them to the post.? Years elapsed ere the unfortunate Carstairs could testify his gratitude ; but when the Revolution came and the hand of misfortune fell heavily on the Cavalier Erskines of Cambo, the Principal, then high in favour with William III., remembered his little friend of the bitter past in the Castle of Edinburgh; and one of the first favours he asked the new king was to bestow the office of Lord Lyon upon the young heir of Cambo. The request was granted, with the additional favour that it was made hereditary in the family ; but it was soon after forfeited by their joining the Earl of Mar in 1715.
Volume 2 Page 371
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