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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Colstorphine.] THE FORRESTERS. 119 of land, in any proper place;? and in 1383 there followed another charter from the same king concerning ? the twenty merks yearly from the farmes of Edinburgh.? (Burgh Charters.) In the preceding year this influential citizen had been made Sheriff of Edinburgh and of Lothian. In 1390 he was made Lord Privy Seal, and negotiated several treaties with England; but in 1402 he followed Douglas in his famous English raid, which ended in the battle of Homildon Hill, where he fell into the hands of Hotspur, but was ransomed. He died in the Castle of Corstorphine on the 13th of October, leaving, by his wife, Agnes Dundas of Fingask, two sons, Sir John, his heir, and Thomas, who got the adjacent lands of Drylaw by a charter, under Robert Duke of Albany, dated ?? at Corstorfyne,? 1406, and witnessed among others by Gilbert, Bishop of Aberdeen, then Lord Chancellor, George of Preston, and others. Sir John Forrester obtained a grant of the barony of Ochtertyre, in favour of him and his first wife in 1407, and from Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, he obtained an annuity of twelve merks yearly, out of the coal-works at Dysart, till repaid thirty nobles, ?which he lent the said earl in his great necessity.?? In 1424 he was one of the hostages for the ransom of James I., with whom he stood so high in favour that he was made Master of the Household and Lord High Chamberlain, according to Douglas, and Lord Chancellor, according to Beatson?s Lists. His second wife was Jean Sinclair, daughter of Henry Earl of Orkney. He founded the collegiate church of which we have given a description, and in 1425 an altar to St Ninian in the church of St. Giles?s, requiring the chaplain there to say perpetual prayers for the souls of James I. and Queen Jane, and of himself and Margaret his deceased wife. He died in 1440, and was succeeded by his son Sir John, who lived in stormy times, and whose lands of Corstorphine were subjected to fire and sword, and ravaged in 1445 by the forces of the Lord Chancellor, Sir William Crichton, whose lands of Crichton he had previously spoiled. By his wife, Marian Stewart of Dalswhton, he had Archibald his heir, and Matthew, to whom James III., in 1487, gave a grant of the lands of Barnton. Then followed in succession, Sir Alexander Forrester, and two Sir Jameses. On the death of the last without heirs Corstorphine devolved on his younger brother Henry, who married Helen Preston of Craigmillar. Their son GerJrge was a man of talent and probity. He stooci high in favour with Charles I., who made him a baronet in 1625, and eight years afterwards a peer, by the title of Lord Forrester of Corstorphine. By his wife Christian he had several daughters-Helen, who became Lady Ross of Hawkhead ; Jean, married to. lames Baillie of Torwoodhead, son of Lieutenant-General William Baillie, famous in the annals of the covenanthg wars ; and Lilias, married to William, another son of the same officer, And now we approach the dark tragedy which, for a time, even in those days, gave Corstorphine Castle a temble notoriety. George, first Lord Forrester, having no male heir, made a resignation of his estates and honours into the hands of the king, and obtained a new patent from Charles II., to himself in life-rent, and after his decease, ?to, or in favour of, his daughter Jean and her husband the said James Baillie and the heirs procreate betwixt them ; whom failing, to the nearest lawful heir-male of the said James whatever, they carrying the name and arms of Forrester ; the said James being designed Master of Forrester during George?s life.? This patent is dated 13th August, 1650, a few weeks before the battle of Worcester. He died soon after, and was succeeded by his son-in-law, whose wife is said to have sunk into an earlygrave, in consequence of his having an intrigue with one of her sisters. James Lord Forrester married, secondly, a daughter of the famous old Cavalier general, Patrick Ruthven, Earl of Forth and Brentford, by whom, says Burke, ?he had three sons and two daughters, all of whom assumed the name of Ruthven,? while Sir Robert Douglas states that he died without any heir, and omits to record the mode of his death. He was a zealous Presbyterian, and for those of that persuasion, in prelatic times, built a special meeting-house in Corstorphine ; this did not prevent him from forming a dangerous intrigue with a handsome woman named Christian Nimmo, wife of a merchant in Edinburgh, and the scandal was increased in consequence of the lady being the niece of his first wife and grand-daughter of the first Lord Forrester. She was a woman of a violent and impulsive character, and was said to carry a weapon concealed about her person. - It is further stated that she was mutually related to Mrs. Bedford, a remarkably wicked woman, who had murdered her husband a few years before, and to that Lady Warriston who was beheaded for the same crime in 1600 ; thus she was not a woman to be treated lightly. Lord Forrester, when intoxicated, had on one occasion spoken of her opprobriously, and this
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I20 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [COrStOrphiie. fact came to her kcoivledge. Inspired with fury she repaired at once to the castle of Corstorphine, and finding that he was drinkiig at a tavern in the village, sent for him, and they met in the garden at a tree near the old dovecot, which marked the spot. A violent altercation ensued between them, and in the midst of it, she snatched his sword from his side, ran him through the body and killed him on the instant. (Fountainhall.) ?The inhabitants of th?e village,? says C. Kirksought to extenuate it on the plea that Lord Forrester was intoxicated and furious, that he ran at her ? with his sword, on which she took it from him to protect herself, and he fell upon it; but this was known to be false, says Fountainhall. She practised a deception upon the court by which her sentence of death was postponed for two months, during which, notwithstanding the care of her enjoined on John Wan, Gudeman of the Tolbooth, she escaped in male apparel but was captured by the Ruthvens CORSTORPHINE CHURCH. patrick Sharpe, in his Notes to Kirkton?s ? History,? ? still relate some circumstances of the murder not recorded by Fountainhall. Mrs. Nimmo, attended by her maid, had gone from Edinburgh to the castle of Corstorphine,? and adds that after the murder ?she took refuge in a garret of the castle, but was discovered by one of her slippers, which dropped through a crevice of the floor. It need scarcely be added, that till lately the inhabitants of the village were greatly annoyed of a moonlight night by the appearance of a woman clothed in white, with a bloody sword in her hand, wandering and wailing near the pigeon-house.? Being seized and brought before the Sheriffs of Edinburgh, she made a confession of her crime, but next day at Fala MilL On the 12th of November, 1679, she was beheaded at the market cross, when she appeared on the scaffold in deep mourning, laying aside a large veil, and baring her neck and shoulders to the executioner with the utmost courage. Though externally a Presbyterian it was said at the time ?that a dispensation from the Pope to marry the woman who murdered him was found in his (Lord Forrester?s) closet, and that his delay in using it occasioned her fury.? (?< Popery and Schism,? p. 39.) Connected with this murder, a circumstance very characteristic of the age took place. The deceased peer leaving onIy heirs of his second marriage, who
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