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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. VI


[-wade. THE MELVILLES.. / LASSWADE CnuKCH, 1773. (Afdw an Etching by Yohn Clerk of E(din.1 CHAPTER XLIII. THE ENVIRONS OF EDINBURGH-(ccmclz&d). Melville Castle and the Melvilles-The Viscounts Melvil1::-Sheriffnall-Newton-Monkton-Stonyhill-" The Wicked Colonel Charteris "- New Hailes-The Stair Obelisk-Lord Hailes-His Death. MELVILLE CASTLE stands on the left bank of the North Esk, about five furlongs eastward of Lasswade, and was built by the first Viscount Melville, replacing a fortress of almost unknown antiquity, about the end of the last century. It is a splendid mansion, with circular towers, exhibiting much architectural elegance, and surrounded by a finelywooded park, which excited the admiration of George IV. Unauthenticated tradition states that the ancient castle of Melville was a residence of David Rizzio, and as such, was, of course, visited occasionally by Queen Mary; but it had an antiquity much more remote. It is alleged that the first Melville ever known 'in Scotland was a Hungarian of that name, who accompanied Queen 'Margaret to Scotland, where he obtained from Malcolm 111. a grant of land in hiidlothian, and where he settled, gave his surname to his castle, and became progenitor of all the Melvilles in Scotland. Such is the story told by Sir Robert Douglas, on the authority of Leslie, 143 Mackenzie, Martin, and Fordun ; but it is much more probable that the family is of French origin. Be all that as it may, the family began to be prominent in Scotland soon after the reign of Malcolm 111. Galfrid de Melville of Meldle Castle, in Lothian, witnessed many charters of Malcolm IV., bestowing pious donations on the abbeys of Holyrood, Newbattle, and Dunfermline, before 1165, in which year that monarch died. He also appears (1153-1165) as Vicecomes de CasieZZo Pzd'Eamm, in the register of St. Marie of Newbattle. He witnessed two charters of William the Lion to the abbey of Cambuskenneth, and made a gift of the parish church of Melville (which, probably, he built) to the monastery of Dunfermline, in presence of Hugh, Bishop of St. Andrews, previously chaplain to King William, and who died in 1187. Galfrid of Melville left four sons-Sir Gregory, his successor, Philip, Walter, and Waren. Of the last nothing is known, but the other three founded
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362 OLD AND NEW EDINBURGH. [Iauwade families of note. Philip became sheriff of the Mearns, and ancestor of the Melvilles of Glenbervie ; Walter, of the Melvilles in Fife ; but Waren cannot be traced beyond I 178. By the chartulary of Aberdeen, Sir Gregory of Melville, in Lothian, would seem to have witnessed a charter of Alexander II., confirming a gift of Duncan, eighth Earl of Mar, to the church of Aberdeen, together with Ranulph de Lambley, bishop of that see, who died in 1247. His son William was succeeded in turn by his son, Sir John Melville, lord of the barony of Melville, between the years 1329 and 1344. In the reign of King Robert II., the Melvilles of Melville ended in Agnes (grandchild and sole heiress of Sir John of that ilk), who married Sir John Ross of Halkhead, to whom and his heirs the estate passed, and continued to be the property of his descendants, the Lords Ross of Halkhead, till the middle of the eighteenth century, when that old Scottish title became extinct, and Melville passed into the possession of a family named Rennie. The present castle, we have said, was built by the first Viscount Melville, who married, first, Elizabeth, daughter of David Rennie of Melville, and was raised to the peerage in 1802. As Henry Dundas-descended from the old and honourable house of Arniston, well known in Scottish legal history-he had risen to eminence as Lord Advocate of Scotland in 1775, and subsequently filled some high official situations in England. He mamed, secondly, Jane, daughter of John, second Earl of Hopetoun, by whom he had no family. In 1805 he had the misfortune to be impeached by the House of Commons for alleged malversation in his office as Treasurer of the Navy, and after a full trial by his peers in Westminster Hall, was judged not guilty. On this event the following remarks occur in Lockhart?s ?? Life of Scott ? :- ? The impeachment of Lord Melville was among the first measures of the new (Whig) Government ; and personal affection and gratitude, graced as well as heightened the zeal with which Scott watched the issue of this-in his eyes-vindictive proceeding ; but though the ex-minister?s ultimate acquittal was, as to all the charges involving his personal honour, complete, it must be allowed that the investigation brought out many circumstances by no means creditable to his discretion-and the rejoicings ought not, therefore, to have been scornfully jubilant. Such they were, however-at least, i n Edinburgh ; and Scott took his full share in them by inditing a song, which was sung by James Ballantyne at a public dinner given in honour 01 the event, 27th June, 1806.? Of this song one verse will suffice as a specimen of the eight of which it consists :- ?? Since here we are set in array round the table, Five hundred good fellows well met in a hall, Come listen, brave boys, and I?ll sing as I?m able, How innocence triumphed and pride got a fall. Push round the claret- Come, stewards, don?t spare it- Here, boys, Off with it merrily- With rapture you?ll drink to the toast that I give : MELVILLE for ever, and long may he live ! ? It was published on a broadside, to be sold and sung in the streets. Kay has a portrait of the first Lord Melville in the uniforni of the Edinburgh Volunteers, of which he became a member in July, 1795, but declined the commission of captain-lieutenant. . Kay?s editor gives us the following anecdote :- During the Coalition Administration,. the Hon. Henry Erskine held the office of Lord Advocate of Scotland. He succeeded Dundas (the future Viscount Melville), and on the morning of his appointment he met the latter in the outer house, when, observing that Dundas had already resumed the ordinary stuff gown which advpcates generally wear, he said, gaily, ?I must leave off talking, and go and order my silk gown,? the official costume of the Lord Advocate and Solicitor-General. ? It is hardly worth while,? said Mr. Dundas, drily, ?for all the time you will want it : you had better borrow mine.? Erskine?s retort was very smart. ?From the readiness with which you make me the offer, Dundas, I have no doubt the gown is made tojtaanyparo; but it shall never be said of Harry Erskine that he put on the abandoned habits of his predecessor.? . The prediction of Dundas proved true, however, for Erskine held office only for a very short period, in consequence of a sudden change of ministry. Lord Melville died on the 29th May, 1811, in the same week that saw the deatin of his dearest friend and neighbour, whose funeral he had come to attend, the Lord President Blair of Avontoun ; and the fact of ? their houses being next to one another with only a single wall between the bed-rooms, where the dead bodies of each were lying at the same time, made a deep impression on their friends.? He was succeeded by his eldest son, Robert Saunders-Dundas, as second Viscount Melville in Lothian, and Baron Uunira in Perthshire. He was born in 1771, and married Anne, daughter and co-heiress of Richard Huck Saunders, M.D., upon which he assumed the additional name of .
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