Edinburgh Bookshelf

Old and New Edinburgh Vol. V


Kirk-of-Field.] BOTHWELL DENOUNCED. 7 of the Canongate to Bothwell?s lodging, near the palace, at the gates of which they were again challenged by the Archers of the Guard-a corps which existed from 1562 to 1567-who asked ?if they knew what noise that was they heard a short time before.? They replied that they did not. Rushing to his house, Bothwell called for something to drink, and throwing off his clothes, went to bed. Tidings that the house had been blown up and the king slain spread fast through the startled city, and George Hackett, a servant of the palace, communicated these to Bothwell, whom he found in ?ane great effray pitch-black,? and excited. Then with assumed coolness he inquired ?what was the matter ? ? On being distinctly informed, he began to shout ?Treason!? and on being joined by the Earl of Huntley, he repaired at once to the presence of the queen. By dawn the whole area of the Kirk-of-Field was crowded by citizens, who found that the three servants who slept in the gallery were buried in the ruins, out of which Nelson was dragged alive. In Holyrood the queen kept her bed in a darkened room, while a proclamation was issued, offering the then tolerable sum of L2,ooo Scots to any who would give information as to the perpetrators of the crime. On the same day the body of Darnley was brought to Holyrood Chapel, and after being embalmed by Maistre Mastin Picauet, ? I ypothegar,? was interred on Saturday night, without the presence of any of the nobles or officers of state, except the Lord Justice Clerk Bellenden and Sir James Traquair. Bothwell was denounced as the murderer by a paper fixed on the Tolbooth Gate. But though the earl was ultimately brought to trial, no precisely proper inquiry into the startling atrocity was made by the officers of the Crown. A bill fastened on the Tron Beam, declared that the smith who furnished the false keys to the king?s apartment would, on due security being given, point out his employers ; and other placards, on one of which were written the queen?s initials, M.R., were posted elsewhere-manifestations of public feeling that rendered Bothwell so furious that he rode through the city at the head of a band of his armed vassals, swearing that he ? would wash his hands? in the blood of the authors, could he but discover them ; and from that time forward he watched all who approached him with a jealous eye, and a hand on his dagger. When that part of the city wall which immediately adjoined the house of the Kirk-of-Field was demolished in 1854, it was found to be five feet thick, and contained among its rubble many fragments of a Gothic church or other edifice, and three cannon-balls, one of 24 pounds? weight, were found in it. In the records of the Privy Council in 1599, we find an order for denouncing and putting to the horn Robert Balfour, Provost of the Kirk-of-Field, for having failed to appear before the Lords, and answer ? to sic thingis as sauld have been inquirit of him at his cuming.? The Provost, brother of the notorious Sir James, had been outlawed or forfeited in 157 I, as there rested upon both the charge of having been chief agents in the murder or Darnley. He was ultimately remitted and pardoned, and this was ratified by Parliament in 1584, when he and his posterity were allowed to enjoy all their possessions,?? providing alwayis that these presentis be not extendit to repossess and restoir the said Robert to bny ryt he has, or he may pretend, to ye Provostrie of ye Kirk-of-Field, sumtym situat within the libertie of ye burgh of Edinburgh.? In this same year, 1584, the Town Council were greatly excited by a serious affray that ensued at the Kirk-of-Field Port, and to prevent the recurrence of a similar disorder, ordained that on the ringing of the alarm bell the inhabitants were all to convene in their several quarters under their bailies, ? in armour and good order.? And subsequently, to prevent broils by night-walkers, they ordered I? that at 10 o?clock fifty strokes would be given on the great bell, after which none should be upon the streets, under a penalty of Azo Scots, and imprisonment during the town?s pleasure.? (? Council Records.?) A fragment of ruin connected with the Kirk-of- Field is shown as extant in 1647 in Gordon?s map, near what is now the north-west corner of Drumrnond Street, and close to the old University. A group ot trees appear to the eastward, and a garden to the iiorth. (Tytler.)
Volume 5 Page 7
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print